Tuesday, June 14, 2016

GWPF Newsletter: How A ‘Liberal’ Bias Is Killing Science

Marine Scientist Censured By James Cook University For Questioning Misleading Claims

In this newsletter:

1) How A ‘Liberal’ Bias Is Killing Science
The Week, 10 June 2016
2) Marine Scientist Censured By James Cook University For Questioning Misleading Claims
The Australian, 11 June 2016
3) North Atlantic Ocean Heat Content Dropping Rapidly
Not A Lot Of People Know That, 13 June 2016
4) World Sets New Record For Fossil Fuel Consumption
Forbes, 8 June 2016
5) How To Starve Africa: Ask the European Green Party
The Risk-Monger, 8 June 2016

Full details:

1) How A ‘Liberal’ Bias Is Killing Science
The Week, 10 June 2016
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

Oh boy. Remember when a study came out that said that conservative political beliefs are associated with psychotic traits, such as authoritarianism and tough-mindedness? While liberalism is associated with “social desirability?”

The American Journal of Political Science recently had to print a somewhat embarrassing correction, as the invaluable website Retraction Watch pointed out: It turns out somebody made an Excel error. And the study’s results aren’t a little off. They aren’t a lot off. They are exactly backwards. Writes the American Journal of Political Science:

The interpretation of the coding of the political attitude items in the descriptive and preliminary analyses portion of the manuscript was exactly reversed. Thus, where we indicated that higher scores in Table 1 (page 40) reflect a more conservative response, they actually reflect a more liberal response. [American Journal of Political Science]

In other words, at least according to this study, it’s liberals who are psychotic and conservatives who are awesome. Well, obviously, as a conservative, I first had to stop laughing for 10 minutes before I could catch my breath.

I could also make a crassly political point, like of course liberals are psychotic given liberal authoritarianism, and of course conservatives are more balanced — after all, we’re happier and we have better sex. But actually, this is bigger than that. Adds Retraction Watch, “That 2012 paper has been cited 45 times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.”

I’ve been a harsh critic of shoddy scientific research. Criticizing American academia’s liberal bias earned me a lot of pushback, mostly from progressives on Twitter patiently explaining to me that it’s not “bias” to turn down equally qualified conservatives for tenure or promotion or their papers, since after all conservatives are intrinsically unreasonable and stupid (they could have added psychotic for good measure. After all, science proves it!).

Contacted by Retraction Watch, the authors of the study hem and haw and say that their point was not about conservatives or liberals, but about the magnitude of differences between those camps. Yeah, right. Actually, as independent reviewers point out, the paper itself is so shoddy that we conservatives shouldn’t use it to crow about how liberals are psychos.

The correlations are “spurious,” explains one reviewer. And looking at the methodology, I couldn’t help but agree. The reason the study was made, and the reason it was published, and the reason it was cited so often despite its shoddy methodology, was simply to smear conservatives, and to use “science” as a weapon in our soul-deadening cultural-political war.

Isn’t it time we see that this is killing science and its credibility? Isn’t it time to do something about it? That is, if science is an actual disinterested pursuit, and not a priestly class that, like all priestly classes, eventually forgets its calling and just seeks to aggrandize its power and control the masses. The political bias problem is merely the visible part of the iceberg.

Science’s problems run much deeper.

Full post

2) Marine Scientist Censured By James Cook University For Questioning Misleading Claims
The Australian, 11 June 2016
Graham Lloyd

When marine scientist Peter Ridd suspected something was wrong with photographs being used to highlight the rapid decline of the Great Barrier Reef, he did what good scientists are supposed to do: he sent a team to check the facts.

James Cook University’s Professor Peter Ridd on Townsville’s Strand. Picture: Cameron Laird

After attempting to blow the whistle on what he found — healthy corals — Professor Ridd was censured by James Cook University and threatened with the sack. After a formal investigation, Professor Ridd — a renowned campaigner for quality assurance over coral research from JCU’s Marine Geophysics Laboratory — was found guilty of “failing to act in a collegial way and in the academic spirit of the institution”.

His crime was to encourage questioning of two of the nation’s leading reef institutions, the Centre of Excellence for Coral Studies and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, on whether they knew that photographs they had published and claimed to show long-term collapse of reef health could be misleading and wrong.

“These photographs are a big deal as they are plastered right across the internet and used very widely to claim damage,” Professor Ridd told The Weekend Australian.

The photographs were taken near Stone Island off Bowen. A photograph taken in the late 19th century shows healthy coral. An accompanying picture supposedly of the same reef in 1994 is ­devoid of coral. When the before-and-after shots were used by GBRMPA in its 2014 report, the authority said: “Historical photographs of inshore coral reefs have been especially powerful in illustrating changes over time, and that the change illustrated is typical of many inshore reefs.”

A healthy Stone Island reef in 1890

The Stone Island reef in decline in 1994.

Stone Island reef in decline in 2012.

The Stone Island reef appears healthy again in 2015.

Professor Ridd said it was only possible to guess within a kilometre or two where the original photograph was taken and it would not be unusual to find great coral in one spot and nothing a kilometre away, as his researchers had done. Nor was it possible to say what had killed the coral in the 1994 picture.

“In fact, there are literally hundreds of square kilometres of dead reef-flat on the Great Barrier Reef which was killed due to the slow sea-level fall of about a meter that has occurred over the last 5000 years,” he said. “My point is not that they have probably got this completely wrong but rather what are the quality assurance measures they take to try to ensure they are not telling a misleading story?”

A GBRMPA spokesman said last night “the historical photos serve to demonstrate the vulnerability of nearshore coral reefs, rather than a specific cause for their decline.

“Ongoing monitoring shows coral growth in some locations, however this doesn’t detract from the bigger picture, which shows shallow inshore areas of the Great Barrier Reef south of Port Douglas have clearly degraded over a period of decades.” Centre of Excellence for Coral Studies chairman Terry Hughes did not respond to questions from The Weekend Australian.

Professor Ridd was disciplined for breaching principle 1 of JCU’s code of conduct by “not displaying responsibility in respecting the reputations of other colleagues”. He has been told that if he does it again he may be found guilty of ­serious misconduct.

A JCU spokesman said it was university policy not to comment on individual staff, but that the university’s marine science was subject to “the same quality assurance processes that govern the conduct of, and delivery of, ­science internationally”. [...]

About a quarter of the Great Barrier Reef has died and could take years to rebuild. The damage is concentrated in the northern section off Cape York. The scientific response to the bleaching has exposed a rift ­between GBRMPA and the JCU’s Coral Bleaching Taskforce led by Professor Hughes over how bleaching data should be treated and presented to the public. Conservation groups have run hard on the issue, with graphic ­images of dying corals. All sides of politics have responded with ­increased funding to reduce sediment flow and to combat crown of thorns starfish.

University of Western Australia marine biologist Carlos Duarte argued in BioScience last year that bias contributed to “perpetuating the perception of ocean calamities in the absence of robust evidence”.

A paper published this year claimed scientific journals had exaggerated bad news on ocean acidification and played down the doubts. Former GBRMPA chairman Ian McPhail accused activists of “exaggerating the impact of coral bleaching for political and financial gain”. Dr McPhail told The Weekend Australian it “seems that there is a group of researchers who begin with the premise that all is disaster”.

Full story

3) North Atlantic Ocean Heat Content Dropping Rapidly
Not A Lot Of People Know That, 13 June 2016
Paul Homewood   

Ole Humlum’s excellent site, Climate4you, has just published the latest Ocean Heat Content data, now up to March 2016. They show some interesting things happening in the North Atlantic.

First, let’s look at the area highlighted below:

Map showing the North Atlantic area within 60-0W and 30-65N, for which the heat content within the uppermost 700 m is shown in the two diagrams below.
 NODC NorthAtlanticOceanicHeatContent0-700mSince1955 With37monthRunningAverageGlobal monthly heat content anomaly (GJ/m2) in the uppermost 700 m of the North Atlantic (60-0W, 30-65N) ocean since January 1955. The thin line indicate monthly values, and the thick line represents the simple running 37 month (c. 3 year) average. Data source: National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC). Last period shown: January-March 2016. Last diagram update 7 June 2016.

We have become familiar with the cold blob, which has developed at the ocean surface in the northern part of the North Atlantic during the last couple of years, but it is evident that it has been getting much colder below the surface as well, down at least to 700 m. Temperatures are now back down to where they were in the early 1990s.

(It is also worth noting that the 1970s marked the coldest period in the record). Unfortunately we don’t have data for the warm 1930s and 40s.

Ole also shows below the Argo data for the 59 N, 30-0W transect… This particular section is deemed to be important because it sits across the main part of the North Atlantic Current.

Average temperature along 59 N, 30-0W, 0-800m depth, corresponding to the main part of the North Atlantic Current, using Argo-data. Source: Global Marine Argo Atlas. Latest month shown: March 2016. Last diagram update: 7 June 2016.

Again we see a steep decline in the last few years.

Full post

4) World Sets New Record For Fossil Fuel Consumption
Forbes, 8 June 2016
Robert Rapier

The world’s fossil fuel consumption has never been higher.

Each year in June two very important reports are released that provide a comprehensive view of the global energy markets. The highlight of the recently released Renewables 2016 Global Status Report was that the world’s renewable energy production has never been higher. But the biggest takeaway from this year’s BP Statistical Review, released Wednesday, may be that the world’s fossil fuel consumption has also never been higher.

While global coal consumption did decline by 1% in 2015, the world set new consumption records for petroleum and natural gas. The net impact was a total increase in the world’s fossil fuel consumption of about 0.6%. That may not seem like much, but the net increase in fossil fuel consumption — the equivalent of 127 million metric tons of petroleum — was 2.6 times the overall increase in the consumption of renewables (48 million metric tons of oil equivalent).

As a result, despite the record increase in renewable consumption, global carbon dioxide emissions once again set a new all-time record high. Carbon dioxide emissions in 2015 were 36 million metric tons higher than in 2014, and marked the 6th straight year a new record high has been set. But perhaps the silver lining is that 2015 marked the 2nd straight year that the increase was smaller than the year before. Carbon dioxide emissions in 2013 were 505 million tons higher than in 2012, but then 2014 and 2015 respectively saw increases of 224 million metric tons and 36 million metric tons.

The primary reason for the slowdown in the growth of carbon dioxide emissions was the reduction in global coal consumption, but this was offset by a nearly 2 million barrel per day (bpd) increase in global oil consumption. Notably, oil consumption in the U.S. rose for the 3rd straight year, and is now at the highest levels since 2008. U.S. crude oil consumption is now back to within 6% of the all-time high consumption level set in 2005.

Global crude oil production increased by 2.8 million bpd in 2015, led by a 1 million bpd increase in U.S. production. The bulk of the rest of the world’s oil production increase came from OPEC, which cumulatively boosted production by 1.6 million bpd over 2015. BP’s definition of crude oil “includes crude oil, shale oil, oil sands and NGLs (natural gas liquids – the liquid content of natural gas where this is recovered separately).” Per this definition, the U.S. was the world’s top crude oil producer with 12.7 million bpd of oil production in 2015 (the highest production number ever recorded for the U.S.). Saudi Arabia was in 2nd place at 12.0 million bpd.

Full post

see also The 2016 BP Statistical Review of World Energy

5) How To Starve Africa: Ask the European Green Party
The Risk-Monger, 8 June 2016
David Zaruk

There is a commonly shared neo-colonialist expression: The Europeans have the watches; the Africans have the time. Today, the European Green Party, with the support of countless environmentalist NGOs, proposed an initiative in the European Parliament to make Africa wait for at least another generation to be able to lift itself out of poverty.

The report tabled by Green MEP, Maria Heubuch, is as vile as it is selfish in its neo-colonialist demands to impose peasant agriculture on a continent trying to develop and feed itself. The Greens are demanding that the European Union not be involved with the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition which is donating billions to create a green agricultural revolution in ten of the poorest African countries. Many identify what has been achieved in Asia today as due to the World Bank’s investments in agricultural technologies in the 1960s and 70s and what is sorely lacking in Africa today.

The New Alliance is a multi-stakeholder platform based on commitments and shared strategies to end hunger and halve poverty in Africa by 2025. “It consists of high-level representatives from African governments, development partners, the African and multinational private sectors, civil society, and farmers’ organizations that monitor, support and advance progress.” It is donating $28 million to the African Development Bank to invest in agricultural infrastructure, $47 million on technology projects and millions spread across a variety of data and ICT applications for African agriculture. Then there is the commitment to the World Bank’s Food Security Program (coming up to a billion dollars). See the original commitment following the G-8-Africa Summit in the US in 2012.  With over $3 billion originally committed, this is serious money, a serious commitment and a serious strategy to finally address a serious problem.

Why would the Green Party try to stop this?

The Greens seem to be unhappy that several big industrial firms are participating and also donating to the New Alliance. They are afraid that these companies (six in total) will push agricultural technologies on farmers, increasing their yields and improving their well-being. As an alternative, they are asking that African governments invest in smallholdings and family farms to practice agro-ecology.

Is this the best way for Africa’s next generation to develop?
Now I understand that the greens, environmentalists and the organic food lobby are eager to ensure a cheap supply of organic food (in the same way that the American organic industry is salivating over free trade with impoverished Cuba), but can these self-righteous eco-zealots not see that these family farms have been the reason why Africa has not developed and why so many poor children are tied to the land rather than in schools?

No, seriously, they need to have a good reason to oppose investing in African agricultural technology. Well, the greens seem to think that developing African agriculture will lead to increased land grabs by big industrial farms putting pastoral communities into greater difficulties. Not only do they not see the commitments, strategies for widely recognised land titles and the different research organisations involved, the greens are exhibiting a very short memory. Africa is recovering from a devastating land grab a decade ago for biofuel production, a folly imposed on the continent by misguided environmentalist proposals to replace fossil fuels with products they had erroneously thought were carbon neutral.

So the Greens are not serious then? Well, the Heubuch report, on top of its anti-industry bias, also worries that Malawi farmers will grow tobacco (I’m not joking … even though Malawi has perfect conditions for tobacco), that it will create a reliance on synthetic fertilisers (instead of no fertilisers at the moment) and that it will prevent farmers from saving seeds. And in case you were wondering, Heubuch, in article 72, comes right out and: “Urges the G8 member states not to support GMO crops in Africa;” … Bingo!

Essentially what this Green Party report is saying to Africa is that the EU must not fund your means to develop. […]

A sad day for Africa

Today, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, MEPs voted “overwhelmingly” by 577 MEPs, with only 24 against and 69 abstentions to accept the Green Party’s Heubuch Report and demand that the European Union stop funding the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. It is with great hope that the world ignores this unfortunate act, considering it as a narrow-minded gesture towards appeasing a backward looking European green constituency.

In 2015, after 30 years of residence in the Brussels area, I became a Belgian citizen. Today, for the first time since officially becoming a European, I was ashamed of what ill-guided people in the European Parliament had done in the name of Europe. This act of selfish science denialism (with the potential for massive negative consequences) is no way for reasonable Europeans to act.

We need to let Africa have the chance to develop, not on our terms or demands, but on theirs. It is time to give Africans the watch and let them manage their affairs on their time, not ours.

Shame on Maria Heubuch and her band of eco-religious missionary zealots.

Full post

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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