Climate Change Denial: Why don’t they publish scientific papers?

I was thinking of writing a lengthy post about climate change denial being completely unscientific nonsense, but then geochemist and National Science Board member James Lawrence Powell wrote a post that is basically a slam-dunk of debunking. His premise was simple: If global warming isn’t real and there’s an actual scientific debate about it, that should be reflected in the scientific journals.

He looked up how many peer-reviewed scientific papers were published in professional journals about global warming, and compared the ones supporting the idea that we’re heating up compared to those that don’t. What did he find? This:

Pie chart of global warming denier papers

The thin red wedge.

Image credit: James Lawrence Powell

Oh my. Powell looked at 13,950 articles. Out of all those reams of scientific results, how many disputed the reality of climate change?

Twenty-four. Yup. Two dozen. Out of nearly 14,000.

Now I know some people will just say that this is due to mainstream scientists suppressing controversy and all that, but let me be succinct: That’s bull. Science thrives on dissenting ideas, it grows and learns from them. If there is actual evidence to support an idea, it gets published. I can point out copious examples in my own field of astronomy where papers get published about all manners of against-the-mainstream thinking, some of which come to conclusions that, in my opinion, are clearly wrong.

So let this be clear: There is no scientific controversy over this. Climate change denial is purely, 100 percent made-up political and corporate-sponsored crap. When the loudest voicesare fossil-fuel funded think tanks, when they don’t publish in journals but instead write error-laden op-eds in partisan venues, when they have to manipulate the data to support their point, then what they’re doing isn’t science.

It’s nonsense. And worse, it’s dangerous nonsense. Because they’re fiddling with the data while the world burns.

Climate Change Denial: Why don’t they publish scientific papers?.

U.S. Installs Record Amount Of Solar So Far In 2012: Analyst Calls It The ‘Opening Act’ For Q4 Boom | ThinkProgress

Almost exactly a year ago, during the height of the Solyndra hysteria, Mitt Romney made a rather odd statement about solar. (Yes, we’re still talking about Romney).

“When other solar companies saw Solyndra get $530 million from the government, investors pulled back in that industry,” he said. “So instead of encouraging solar development, the Obama administration hurt it.”

Actually, the statement wasn’t just odd. It was a flat out lie. In reality, the U.S. solar industry installed record amounts of solar in 2011 while bringing in nearly $2 billion in venture capital. And moving into 2012, that trend continued. In the second quarter of this year, U.S. solar installations jumped 116 percent over the same period in 2011, partly drivenby large installations supported by the very loan guarantee program that Romney claimed was killing solar.

And according to Shayle Kann, vice president of research at GTM Research, that deployment was just “the opening act” for the final quarter of this year. According to a new report from GTM and the Solar Energy Industries Association, the U.S. market could see 1.2 gigawatts of solar photovoltaics installed through January, bringing 2012 installations to 3.2 gigawatts. That’s enough capacity to power about half a million average American homes.

The report shows that installers deployed 684 megawatts of projects last quarter, representing 44 percent growth over the third quarter of 2011.

The continued boom in the solar market means more jobs and better economics.

According to a census of the solar industry conducted by the Solar Foundation, the sector now employs more than 119,000 Americans — an increase of 13,872 workers over 2011.

And as more systems get deployed and businesses get more efficient, the price of solar continues to fall. According to the GTM analysis, solar PV system prices fell from $5.45 per watt to $5.21 per watt. Price declines were even greater in the utility sector, with system prices falling to $2.40 per watt — a 30 percent drop since the same period last year.

This matches historic declines in price reported by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Arecent analysis from LBNL found that U.S. residential and commercial solar PV systems fell 5 to 7 percent each year between 1998 and 2011. (Interestingly, even with these consistent drops, the installed price of solar in the U.S. is still nearly double that of Germany, which hosts a much more mature solar market).

After all the political hand-wringing about solar during the U.S. election, this report shows the industry is indeed chugging along in the U.S. While some key states may see a downturn in installs next year, America’s share of the global market continues to expand. With a 70 percent growth rate expected in 2012, the U.S. will soon represent 10 percent of the world market.

U.S. Installs Record Amount Of Solar So Far In 2012: Analyst Calls It The ‘Opening Act’ For Q4 Boom | ThinkProgress.

Secret Farm Bill Threatens An ‘Environmental Cliff’ | ThinkProgress

Secret Farm Bill Threatens An ‘Environmental Cliff’

by Don Carr, via the Environmental Working Group

Congressional leaders in search of a compromise to avoid plunging off the “fiscal cliff” are under growing pressure from the agriculture subsidy lobby and its friends in Congress to attach a subsidy-laden farm bill to legislation ostensibly designed to straighten out the nation’s finances.

Bypassing debate and hearings on a five-year, near-trillion-dollar piece of legislation would be profoundly undemocratic. It would also enshrine a bill that is as devastating for the environment as the fiscal cliff would be for the economy.

Both the Senate and House versions of the farm bill include $6 billion in cuts to conservation programs. Should a new version emerge from the fiscal cliff negotiations, these misguided cuts are sure to be part of the deal.

Industrial agriculture – not manufacturing, gas drilling or mining – is the largest contributor to America’s water pollution problem. And despite the high cost to taxpayers and businesses, most farm operations are exempt from the federal Clean Water Act. State governments, meanwhile, have little authority to compel farmers to control soil, pesticides and chemical fertilizers that flow off their fields and into water supplies. This leaves the farm bill’s current conservation programs – the ones slated for deep cuts – as the only line of defense.

Land protected under conservation programs is also particularly effective at fighting climate change because it keeps large amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere. The carbon that would be released as a result of the likely conservation cuts in a fiscal cliff cum secret farm bill could equal the annual emissions of two million passenger vehicles.

To make things worse, the centerpiece of such a bill would almost surely be lavish new subsidies for bloated crop insurance policies, which already allow some farmers to turn a profit by plowing up and cultivating poor and environmentally sensitive land on an industrial scale, pumping still more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. As one farmer told The New York Times, “I can farm on low-quality land that I know is not going to produce and still turn a profit.”

More recently, a EWG analysis found that the combination of unlimited subsidies, ethanol mandates and high prices has contributed to the loss of millions of acres of wetlands and grasslands in parts of the Great Plains, decimating wildlife and increasing water pollution from farms. EWG research has also shown that polluted runoff from farms is driving up the cost of drinking water and that soil erosion is growing worse.

Not long ago, American farmers were required to engage in common-sense conservation measures in exchange for the lavish, taxpayer-funded crop insurance subsidies they get – a quid pro quo called “conservation compliance.” But efforts to revive this requirement are unlikely to make it into the secret farm bill the subsidy lobby is pushing, even though editorial boards in farm country have been clamoring for it and farmers overwhelmingly support it. A 2010 Iowa Farm and Rural Life poll found that two-thirds of Iowa farmers agreed that they should be required to conserve soil on highly erodible cropland – regardless of whether they get support from federal farm programs.

Members of Congress who care about clean water and the planet’s increasingly volatile climate should resist the undemocratic attempts to sneak this badly flawed farm bill into law.

Don Carr is a Senior Adviser at the Environmental Working Group. This piece was originally published at EWG and was reprinted with permission.

Secret Farm Bill Threatens An ‘Environmental Cliff’ | ThinkProgress.

U.S. Intelligence Agencies See a Different World in 2030 – Bloomberg

Nana Buxani/Bloomberg
A pond is dried up due to an El Nino-induced drought, in Jones, Isabela province, the Philippines.

New technologies, dwindling resources and explosive population growth in the next 18 years will alter the global balance of power and trigger radical economic and political changes at a speed unprecedented in modern history, says a new report by the U.S. intelligence community.

What sets the next quarter century apart is the way seven “tectonic shifts” are combining to drive change at an accelerating rate, said NIC Counselor Mathew Burrows, the report’s principle author. One of the the factors is U.S. energy independence. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

The 140-page report released today by the National Intelligence Council lays out dangers and opportunities for nations, economies, investors, political systems and leaders due to four “megatrends” that government intelligence analysts say are transforming the world.

Those major trends are the end of U.S. global dominance, the rising power of individuals against states, a rising middle class whose demands challenge governments, and a Gordian knot of water, food and energy shortages, according to the analysts.

“We are at a critical juncture in human history, which could lead to widely contrasting futures,” Council Chairman Christopher Kojm writes in the report.

Leading the list of the “game-changers” — factors the report says will shape the impact of the megatrends — is the “crisis-prone” global economy, which is vulnerable to international shocks and to disparities among national economies moving at significantly different speeds.

The future is “malleable,” according to Kojm. “Our effort is to encourage decision-makers, whether in government or outside, to think and plan for the long term so that negative futures do not occur and positive ones have a better chance of unfolding.”

‘Tectonic Shifts’

The report reflects the consensus judgments of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, who consulted or contracted with academics, research institutes, political leaders and corporations in 14 countries and the European Union.

While technological advances, migrations, wars and other factors drove change in earlier periods, what sets the next quarter century apart is the way seven “tectonic shifts” are combining to drive change at an accelerating rate, said NIC Counselor Mathew Burrows, the report’s principle author. Those factors are: the growth of the middle class, wider access to new technologies, shifting economic power, aging populations, urbanization, growing demand forfood and water, and U.S. energy independence

“It’s hard to wrap your mind around it, to tell you the truth; it’s just been happening at great velocity,” Burrows said in an interview with Bloomberg News discussing the 18-month research project.

‘Black Swans’

That velocity is a function of several mutually reinforcing dynamics, the report found. One is what the report calls a “definitive shift of economic power to the East and South” as the U.S., European and Japanese share of global income is projected to fall from 56 percent today to well under half by 2030.

The report envisions an international economy that remains prone to potential “black swans” such as the collapse of the euro and the European Union, a pandemic, a Chinese economic collapse, a nuclear war or a debilitating cyberattack.

Even absent such events, it says: “A return to pre-2008 growth rates and previous patterns of rapid globalization looks increasingly unlikely, at least for the next decade,” in part because total non-financial debt across G-7 countries has doubled since 1980 to 300 percent of GDP.

Population Growth

The key question, the report says, is whether divergent growth rates and increased volatility “will result in a global economic breakdown or whether the development of multiple growth centers will lead to resiliency.”

A world population that’s projected to rise to 8.3 billion from 7.1 billion today by 2030 will add to the strains, the report says. More people will join the middle class, especially in the developing world, and even conservative estimates forecast the global middle class doubling to more than 2 billion in 18 years.

The education sector will both drive and benefit from this growth in the middle class, the report projects, and economic success will be closely tied to educational levels. In the Middle East and North Africa, average levels of schooling are expected to rise from 7.1 years to 8.7 years. Education for women — a driver of both economic growth and social health and welfare — will rise from 5 years to 7 years in the region, according to the report.

Cities Grow

Much of this growing middle class will flock to cities, increasing the world’s urban population from roughly 50 percent of the world’s total to nearly 60 percent by 2030. Rising incomes will fuel their appetite for food — especially protein from meat and fish — water and energy, which will be in shorter supply, the report says, in part because climate change and water shortages will alter patterns of arable land and greater demand for energy could curb the amount of fuel available to make fertilizers and other products.

Demand for food will rise 35 percent by 2030 as global gains in agricultural productivity decline, the report says. Worldwide water requirements will reach 6,900 billion cubic meters in 2030, 40 percent more than current sustainable water supplies, making water a likely cause of regional conflicts, particularly in South Asia and the Middle East, the report says.

Climate Change

Climate change will complicate resource management, particularly in Asia, where monsoons are crucial to the growing season and decreased rainfall could disrupt the region’s ability to feed its growing population.

Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns are happening faster than expected, Burrows said. When his researchers updated their section on climate change, the new figures showed the rate of change was even greater than it was 18 months before, when they started the project.

New communications technologies and expanding educational opportunities, meanwhile, will empower the growing middle classes to make greater demands on their governments for services, a scenario that’s already part of the Arab Spring movements in countries such asEgypt.

“You have a huge problem on the resource side,” Burrows said. “How do you manage all this prosperity that is putting a lot of strain on the resources?”

‘Bad Scenario’

The solution to resource shortages will have to be public and private sector cooperation, Burrows said. “You have to have collaboration on the technology, you have to have a big energy or water project the world is really geared up for, because otherwise it turns into a bad scenario,” he said.

At the same time, though, communications technology is shifting political power from nations “toward multifaceted and amorphous networks that will form to influence state and global actions,” the report says.

“Those nations with some of the strongest fundamentals — GDP, population size, etc. — will not be able to punch their weight unless they learn to operate in networks and coalitions in a multipolar world,” according to the report

The same technologies will also allow groups to to attack electrical grids or computer networks, Burrows said. While enormous caches of data eventually will enable governments to “figure out and predict what people are going to be doing” and “get more control over society,” he said, for now “the scales tip more in favor of the individual than the state.”

Asia Rising

At the same time, power will shift from North America and Europe to an Asia with GDP, population, military spending and technological investment that will surpass the West’s, the report projects.

China will surpass the U.S. economically a few years before 2030, and regional players such as Colombia, India, Nigeria and Turkey will become increasingly important to the global economy.

The U.S. role in this new world order is hard to predict because the degree to which it continues to dominate the international system could vary widely, the report says.

“The ’unipolar’ moment is over and Pax Americana — the era of American ascendancy in international politics that began in 1945 — is fast winding down,” the report says.

Despite that, the U.S. most likely will remain “first among equals” in 2030, the report says.

The U.S. will remain the only power “that can really orchestrate these coalitions, including non-state actors and state actors, to really manage, deal with these huge challenges and changes” the world faces, Burrows said.

While the report envisions the end of a unipolar world, and “the U.S. can’t dictate,” Burrows said, “you can’t see any other power out there that can organize it.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicole Gaouette in Washington atngaouette@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net

U.S. Intelligence Agencies See a Different World in 2030 – Bloomberg.