The IPCC May Have Outlived its Usefulness: Curry’s full interview

Judith Curry gave an interview to OilPrice.com last week which caused some controversy.

It is reprinted here, unedited and in full, with the generous permission of OilPrice.com.

The IPCC May Have Outlived its Usefulness – An Interview with Judith Curry

As the global warming debate increases in its intensity we find both sides deeply entrenched, hurling accusations and lies at one another in an attempt to gain the upper hand. This divide within the scientific community has left the public wondering who can be trusted to provide them with accurate information and answers.
The IPCC, the onetime unquestioned champion of climate change, has had its credibility questioned over the years, firstly with the climategate scandal, then with a number of high profile resignations, and now with the new “Gleickgate” scandal (1) (2) – One has to wonder where climate science goes from here?

Oilprice.com just had the pleasure of interviewing the well known climatologist Judith A. Curry in order to get her thoughts on climate change, the IPCC, geo-engineering, and much more. The original interview can be found at Oilprice.com

Judith is the current chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology and hosts sensible discussions on climate change at her popular blog Climate, etc.
Considered somewhat of a black sheep within the scientific community Judith was a one time supporter of the IPCC until she started to find herself disagreeing with certain policies and methods of the organization. She feared the combination of groupthink and political advocacy, combined with an ingrained “noble cause syndrome” stifled scientific debate, slowed down scientific progress, and corrupted the assessment process.

OilPrice.com: What are your personal beliefs on climate change? The causes and how serious a threat climate change is to the continued existence of society as we know it.

Judith Curry: The climate is always changing. Climate is currently changing because of a combination of natural and human induced effects. The natural effects include variations of the sun, volcanic eruptions, and oscillations of the ocean. The human induced effects include the greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, pollution aerosols, and land use changes. The key scientific issue is determining how much of the climate change is associated with humans. This is not a simple thing to determine. The most recent IPCC assessment report states: “Most [50%] of the warming in the latter half of the 20th century is very likely [>90%] due to the observed increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.” There is certainly some contribution from the greenhouse gases, but whether it is currently a dominant factor or will be a dominant factor in the next century, is a topic under active debate, and I don’t think the high confidence level [>90%] is warranted given the uncertainties.

As I stated in my testimony last year: “Based upon the background knowledge that we have, the threat does not seem to be an existential one on the time scale of the 21st century, even in its most alarming incarnation.”

OilPrice.com: You have said in the past that you were troubled by the lack of cooperation between organizations studying climate change, and that you want to see more transparency with the data collected. How do you suggest we encourage/force transparency and collaboration?

Judith Curry: We are seeing some positive steps in this regard. Government agencies that fund climate research are working to develop better databases. Perhaps of greatest interest is the effort being undertaken by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which is a (mostly) privately funded effort to compile and document a new data base on surface temperatures, in a completely open and transparent way.

OilPrice.com: Do you feel climatologists should be putting more effort into determining the effect of the sun on our climate? As the IPCC primarily focuses on CO2 as the cause of climate change – Is the importance of CO2 overestimated and the importance of the sun is underestimated?

Judith Curry: I absolutely think that more effort is needed in determining the effect of the sun on our climate. The sun is receiving increased attention (and funding), and there is a lively debate underway on interpreting the recent satellite data record, reconstructing past solar variability, and predicting the solar variability over the 21st century. Nearly all of the solar scientists are predicting some solar cooling in the next century, but the magnitude of the possible or likely cooling is hotly debated and highly uncertain.

OilPrice.com: You are well known in climate and energy circles for breaking from the ranks of the IPCC and questioning the current information out there. What do you see as the reasons for the increase in skepticism towards global warming over the last few years.

Judith Curry: Because of the IPCC and its consensus seeking process, the rewards for scientists have been mostly in embellishing the consensus, and this includes government funding. Because of recent criticisms of the IPCC and a growing understanding that the climate system is not easily understood, an increasing number of scientists are becoming emboldened to challenge some of the basic conclusions of the IPCC, and I think this is a healthy thing for the science.

OilPrice.com: What are your views on the idea that CO2 may not be a significant contributor to climate change? How do you think such a revelation, if true, will affect the world economy, and possibly shatter public confidence in scientific institutions that have said we must reduce CO2 emissions in order to save the planet?

Judith Curry: Personally, I think we put the CO2 stabilization policy ‘cart’ way before the scientific horse. The UN treaty on dangerous climate change in 1992 was formulated and signed before we even had ‘discernible’ evidence of warming induced by CO2, as reported in 1995 by the IPCC second assessment report. As a result of this, we have only been considering one policy option (CO2 stabilization), which in my opinion is not a robust policy option given the uncertainties in how much climate is changing in response to CO2.

OilPrice.com: There has been quite a bit of talk recently on geo-engineering with entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson pushing for a “plan B” which utilizes geo-engineering to manipulate the environment in order to cool the atmosphere. Geo-engineering could be much cheaper than reducing emissions, and also much quicker to produce results and scientists are lobbying governments and international organizations for funds to experiment with various approaches, such as fertilizing the oceans or spraying reflective particles and chemicals into the upper atmosphere in order to reflect sunlight and heat back into space. What are your thoughts on geo-engineering? Is it a realistic solution to solving climate change or is it a possible red herring?

Judith Curry: With regards to geo-engineering, there are two major concerns. The first is whether the technologies will actually work, in terms of having the anticipated impact on the climate. The second is the possibility of unintended consequences of the geoengineering.

OilPrice.com: You have been noted to criticize the IPCC quite openly in the past on several topics. Even going so far as to say: “It is my sad conclusion that opening your mind on this subject (climate change controversy) sends you down the slippery slope of challenging many aspects of the IPCC consensus.”
Do you believe that the organization as a whole needs to be assessed in order to better serve progress on climate change? What suggestions do you have on how the organization should function?

Judith Curry: The IPCC might have outlived its usefulness. Lets see what the next assessment report comes up with. But we are getting diminishing returns from these assessments, and they take up an enormous amount of scientists’ time.

OilPrice.com: Would renewable energy technologies have received the massive amounts of funding we have seen over the last few years without global warming concerns?

Judith Curry: I think there are other issues that are driving the interest and funding in renewables, including clean air and energy security issues and economics, but I agree that global warming concerns have probably provided a big boost.

OilPrice.com: What do you believe are the best solutions to overcoming/reversing climate change; is a common consensus needed in order to effectively combat climate change?

Judith Curry: The UN approach of seeking a global consensus on the science to support an international treaty on CO2 stabilization simply hasn’t worked, for a variety of reasons. There are a range of possible policy options, and we need to have a real discussion that looks at the costs, benefits and unintended consequences of each. Successful solutions are more likely to be regional in nature than global.

OilPrice.com: I saw an interesting comment on another site regarding climate science that i thought i’d get your opinion on as it raises some very interesting arguments: Climate science has claimed for 30 years that it affects the safety of hundreds of millions of people, or perhaps the whole planet. If it gets it wrong, equally, millions may suffer from high energy costs, hunger due to biofuels, and lost opportunity from misdirected funds, notwithstanding the projected benefits from as yet impractical renewable energy. Yet, we have allowed it to dictate global policy and form a trillion dollar green industrial complex – all without applying a single quality system, without a single performance standard for climate models, without a single test laboratory result and without a single national independent auditor or regulator. It all lives only in the well known inbred, fad-driven world of peer review.

Judith Curry: I agree that there is lack of accountability in the whole climate enterprise, and it does not meet the standards that you would find in engineering or regulatory science. I have argued that this needs to change, by implementing data quality and model verification and validation standards.

OilPrice.com: Do you believe that the language used in papers and at conferences is a problem? The public just wants straight answers to questions: Is the climate warming, By how much, and what will the effects be? Scientists need to step out from behind the curtain and engage the public with straight answers and in their own words. Is this achievable, or is climate science too complex to be explained in laymen’s terms? Or is it because even climate scientists can’t agree on the exact answers?

Judith Curry: I think the biggest failure in communicating climate science to the public has been the reliance on argument from consensus. We haven’t done a good job of explaining all this, particularly in the context of the scientific disagreement

OilPrice.com: What resources would you recommend to people who wish to get a balanced and objective view on climate science and climate change.

Judith Curry: There is no simple way to get a balanced and objective view, since there are so many different perspectives. I think my blog Climate Etc. at judithcurry.com is a good forum for getting a sense of these different perspectives.

Interview by. James Stafford, Editor Oilprice.com

Solar dissonance

It’s the Sun, stupid:

Once again yet another study that emphatically shows that climate changed in the recent past (while CO2 was stable), and that these changes were in sync with solar activity. We’ve said it a thousand times before, and we’ll probably have to say it another thousand times:

“It’s the sun, moron!”

But wait, it’s not the Sun, stupid:

What influence will future solar activity changes over the 21st century have on projected global near-surface temperature changes?
Key Points

Past solar activity is used to estimate future changes in total solar irradiance
The impact on future global temperatures is estimated with a climate model
The Sun’s influence is much smaller than future anthropogenic warming

yikes

It better not be the Sun, or we’re back in the stone age:

Say goodbye to your laptop. Say goodbye to your air conditioner. In fact, say goodbye to technology and electricity for a long, long time, because the earth has a roughly 12 percent chance of experiencing a massive solar storm within the next decade, says space physicist Pete Riley, senior scientist at Predictive Science in San Diego, California.

The science is settled, or something.

Escaping Carbonite

UPDATE: Carbonite is taking a hit on the markets for its decision to pull advertising from Limbaugh’s radio show:

freefallin'

Carbonite is between a rock and a hard place. Reversing the decision will infuriate the left, and do little to persuade the right that it’s a firm to be trusted, yet sticking to the decision is likely to drive the value of the stock into the ground. Business schools will use this as a teachable moment not to Rush to hasty decisions. See what I did there?

Original Post:

This post isn’t about global warming. But it has a carbon theme, sorta.

There’s a fuss south of the border about whether or not radio host Rush Limbaugh insulted a woman who figured the government owes her free contraception. Limbaugh apologized for the name he called her, so it seems even he agrees he went too far. She refused the apology, as is her right. Fair enough. Their spat is not what this post is about, what happened next is.

The left went after Limbaugh’s advertisers, including data back-up company Carbonite, who quickly caved to the pressure:

This is where the fuss became of personal  interest.

I’m a Carbonite customer and just renewed my subscription for the third time at Christmas. But now I’ve disabled the auto-renew option and will find some other provider for my future data back-ups. Because data security is what I pay for, and I no longer trust Carbonite to provide it.

I’m not dropping Carbonite because it pulled advertising from Limbaugh, that’s its right, whether or not I agree with the decision. But its decision tells me something about the company, and it’s nothing good.

If Carbonite folds like a cheap suit to demands from a few noisy and noisome voices, how long do you think they’d put up a fight if the government wanted to look at what it has on its servers?  If management is afraid of a few horny hippies looking for free lube and rubbers from Uncle Sam, how will they respond if Uncle his own self shows up at the door and asks them to bend over?

It’s not as if Carbonite is in any financial position to put up much of a battle:

Based on information available as of February 9, 2012, Carbonite is issuing guidance for the first quarter and full year 2012 as follows:

  • First Quarter 2012: The company expects total revenue for the first quarter to be in the range of $18.2 million to $18.4 million and non-GAAP net loss per common share to be in the range of ($0.32) to ($0.33). Carbonite’s expectations of non-GAAP net loss per diluted common share for the first quarter exclude stock-based compensation expense, patent litigation expense, lease abandonment charges and amortization expense on intangible assets and assume a tax rate of 0% and weighted average shares outstanding of approximately 25.2 million.
  • Full Year 2012: The company expects 2012 total revenue to be in the range of $83.3 million to $84.8 million and non-GAAP net loss per diluted common share to be in the range of ($0.82) to ($0.86). Carbonite’s expectations of non-GAAP net loss per common share for the full year excludes stock-based compensation expense, patent litigation expense, lease abandonment charges and amortization expense on intangible assets and assumes a tax rate of 0% and weighted average shares outstanding of approximately 25.4 million.

The unforced error from Carbonite is hardly of Gleick-ian proportions, but it’s an own-goal, just the same.

Dam weather

If only Australian politicians had listened to Tim Flannery’s warnings about how global warming would cause permanent drought, they wouldn’t have needed to open the spillways on the Warragamba dam this weekend.

Wait, what?

awkward

Flannery, five years ago:

Flannery predicted cities such as Brisbane would never again have dam-filling rains, as global warming had caused “a 20 per cent decrease in rainfall in some areas” and made the soil too hot, “so even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and river systems … “.

Pesky Gaia always waits five years before making fools of warmists.

It might fall to non-Australian blogs to cover stories like this in the future, because Julia Gillard wants her opposition to SHUT UP:

Mr. Ray Finkelstein QC, a left-wing former Federal Court Judge with no media experience, at the request of the Gillard Government, issued a 400 page report which calls for a Big Brother Super-Regulator to ‘regulate’ political speech and – among other things – impose new laws with the power to stop climate change realists from speaking up.

Simon of Australian Climate Madness Menzies House has set up a website to protest this move toward censorship. There is a petition, which needs signing. You know what to do.

*Corrected to attribute the protest web site to Menzies House, with apologies to Simon, who was too busy to do it, or something.

Leaf & Volt Sales: February 2012

UPDATE: General Motors swooned at the prospect of President Obama purchasing a Volt when he leaves office, and as a result, production has been halted for five weeks at the cost of 1300 lay-offs. The real reason for the suspension is that GM needs to ‘align it’s production with demand’, which in plain English means the GE purchase order hasn’t arrived yet and the supply chain is stacked worse than a casting call for Baywatch circa 1991, or something.

Thanks to long-suffering reader WTF for the link, good spot.

Original post:

Electric vehicle sales figures are out for the second month of the year, and GM handily beat Nissan by selling 1023 Volts against the Japanese auto-makers 478 Leafs.

The Volt had its fourth-best ever month while the Leaf sold the fewest units in a month since April last year. Perhaps the Superbowl ads that featured space aliens trying to figure out why an ‘electric’ car has a gas engine helped GM beat out the all-electric Leaf.

The Volt has a potential new buyer in Forbes writer Kenneth Rapoza, who admits to knowing nothing about cars but figures with gas prices hitting near-record levels that he can’t lose. Though someone should tell him the Volt actually does need gas:

The Prius gets 50 mpg’s on average. It cost just $23,000. It’s okay looking. But the Chevy Volt is even better looking, sort of like a brand new girlfriend.

If gasoline is going to $6 a gallon, as libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul thinks, and as Steve Odland considered here at Forbes last week, then I want a car that doesn’t need any gasoline at all. Oil can go to $150 a barrel and my transportation expenses won’t rise a cent. I feel like I’m beating the market, and that feels pretty good; pretty, pretty, pretty good.

GM won the GE lottery when it announced that in future, all sedan purchases by the firm would be Chevy Volts. That will help their numbers, even if there are easier ways to redistribute taxpayer dollars without investing in fiery chariots of doom pretend electric cars.

But GM look like marketing geniuses against Nissan, unless the recall of 86,000 gas-powered cars wasn’t part of a dastardly scheme to drive customers towards the battery option.

Even though sales are still rolling for both Leaf and Volt, there are still at least three good reasons why they’re still a tough sell. Still, things could be worse:

*hippie not included

Neither Chevy or Nissan is facing the level of marketing disaster currently plaguing Tesla. The electric sports car firm was forced to admit that should the battery be drained all the way, it’s no good. Forever:

If the battery is ever totally discharged, the owner is left with what Tesla describes as a “brick”: a completely immobile vehicle that cannot be started or even pushed down the street. The only known remedy is for the owner to pay Tesla approximately $40,000 to replace the entire battery.

Here’s a little something from the Video Volt. See what I did there?

..

 Check in next month for more fun with electric vehicle sales.

Global Warming Hoax Weekly Round-Up, Mar. 1st, 2012

A Guardianista penned an Ode to a Wind Farm, global warming makes suckers of Texans and a mild-mannered climatologist dismantled the alarmist agenda.

All this, and a hottie too. It must be Thursday.

Part One: Hippie of the Week

This week’s HOTW isn’t a criminal mastermind, skillful phisherman or even a scientist. But he does write for The Guardian. Congratulations to Bill McGuire for his eye-popping peek into the future of global warming:

The bottom line is that through our climate-changing activities we are loading the dice in favour of escalating geological havoc at a time when we can most do without it. Unless there is a dramatic and completely unexpected turnaround in the way in which the human race manages itself and the planet, then long-term prospects for our civilisation look increasingly grim. At a time when an additional 220,000 people are lining up at the global soup kitchen each and every night; when energy, water and food resources are coming under ever-growing pressure, and when the debilitating effects of anthropogenic climate change are insinuating themselves increasingly into every nook and cranny of our world and our lives, the last thing we need is for the dozing subterranean giant to awaken.

Dozing subterranean giant? Oh noes, does he mean Godzilla is nigh? Or that Nessie will emerge from her Loch to devour wee Scot bairns in their slumber? Nope, he’s blaming the weather for geologic convulsions:

A changing climate isn’t just about floods, droughts and heatwaves. It brings erupting volcanoes and catastrophic earthquakes too

It’s the flying tundra theory again. Joe Romm claims there’s no such thing as crisis fatigue because there’s no such thing as climate alarmism, or something.

Bill McGuire disagrees, methinks.

Part Two: Warmists

Men of the world, rejoice. We can use global warming to explain the awkward problem of shrinkage. No, really:

Modern mammals, including humans, could be at risk of shrinking as a result of global warming, just as teeny prehistoric horses shrank to an even smaller size when temperatures rose 56 million years ago.

Also suffering shrinkage is another ‘green jobs’ success, A123 Systems, a battery firm. They received $390 million in subsidies, but just laid off 125 workers. Apparently the business plan was good for getting a front listing in the Yellow Pages, but weak thereafter.

Oh noes, global warming causes vampire bats in Texas. Add it to The List.

give us a kiss, y'all

Don’t believe the maxim that all publicity is good publicity. A new documentary about water by the makers of ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ features none other than Peter Gleick. The movie is likely to inhabit a small, unloved corner of Netflix as a result.

A scientist planned on accepting a Heartland Institute invitation to debate, and his warmist colleagues called to explain: SHUT UP:

…when he agreed to participate, a dozen or so colleagues let him know that they thought he should not attend. “There is a sense among climate scientists that they shouldn’t debate these guys, that it just plays into the idea that there is a debate.” said Denning. “I respectfully disagree.”

Good for Denning. Also, a newish blog from an actual scientist wants to engage both sides of the global warming debate, and upset Peter Gleick with her blog name: All Models Are Wrong. She’s added to the Blogroll, because we need folks like her.

Norway has suspended financial support for the WWF, pending an embezzlement scandal in Tanzania.

Toy-maker Lego has invested $500 million on green energy. Give it a year or so and that decision will hurt the bottom line worse than finding one of their bricks in the middle of the night with a bare foot.

Uh oh. The IPCC might be having a rough time of it soon, unless pesky nature falls into line and follows the modeled predictions.

It’s a bad time to be a bird. If the bird shredders don’t get you, global warming will. And on the topic of bird shredders, a Guardian article on the whirly blades of avian doom reads like a love letter. Some excerpts:

its three blades, stilled for now, like stupendous scimitars wielded by a giant.

The structures themselves have the panache of Thomas Telford’s 1826 suspension bridge across the Menai Straits, or Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Britain, launched in 1843 and the world’s first propeller-driven ocean-going iron ship.

A Victorian, steampunk version would surely have gothic trimmings, or be painted in stripes like old lighthouses. Perhaps in future, there will be retro-turbines that emulate such traditional nautical structures. But for now, these towers could not be further from the low-tech cliches of the green imagination.

The Thanet shore is being brought to life by winds that once filled the sails of sloops and brigs and now drive these machines, so grand, so gentle.

Bludgeoned gulls were unavailable to critique the ode to a wind farm, but were said to have been left in pieces by it, or something.

Any UK folks who don’t feel the love and want to dry hump the nearest wind turbine like a frisky terrier on great Aunt Maude’s leg are out of luck if they think they can do anything to stop them. Learn to love them, and look up raptor recipes, it’s the future.

President Obama wants America to get 80% of its energy from clean sources by 2035. He’s betting the farm on algae, but to be sure his prediction comes true is also dismantling the domestic economy so that it won’t be needing much pesky energy anyhow.

Australian politicos know that the carbon tax is a vote loser, which explains the shameless propaganda being thrown at the poor upside-down populace:

Once again, the population is treated like total morons. “CP”, or carbon particle, lectures us on how we should cut emissions and lead virtuous low carbon lives. Unfortunately, particulate carbon has NOTHING to do with global warming, climate change or whatever. Carbon dioxide, the alleged part-cause of the modern warming, is a harmless, invisible, trace gas.

A carbon-conscious hippie wrestles with the age-old problem of whether to live in his urban New Jersey home, or his rural Maine retreat without a trace of self-awareness that the problem might be owning two homes. Do as they say, or shut up.

UK farmers are facing the triple-threat of Bluetongue, Schmallenberg and drought, all caused by global warming, or a milder winter, whichever gets the better headline.

NASA has mapped a giant crack in Antarctica. My guess is alarmists will blame global warming rather than all those pesky dancing penguins. At least NASA can still make maps, real science seems to be too hard for them to figure out any more.

Part Three: Inconvenient Truths

‘Father’ of the modern global warming movement, NASA’s James Hansen predicted three scenarios for global temperatures back in 1998, and cunningly named them A, B, and C. And Gaia shrugged, then chose none of the above.

Richard Lindzen, MIT boffin and seriously smart dude, spoke to the UK parliament about global warming, and destroyed the alarmists without once getting over-excited:

Stated briefly, I will simply try to clarify what the debate over climate change is really about. It most certainly is not about whether climate is changing: it always is. It is not about whether CO2 is increasing: it clearly is. It is not about whether the increase in CO2, by itself, will lead to some warming: it should. The debate is simply over the matter of how much warming the increase in CO2 can lead to, and the connection of such warming to the innumerable claimed catastrophes. The evidence is that the increase in CO2 will lead to very little warming, and that the connection of this minimal warming (or even significant warming) to the purported catastrophes is also minimal. The arguments on which the catastrophic claims are made are extremely weak – and commonly acknowledged as such. They are sometimes overtly dishonest.

Oh noes, GISS admits it IS the Sun, stupid. The IPCC, notsomuch. No wonder the IPCC may have outlived its usefulness, at least according to Judith Curry.

Good news, we might figure out the key to immortality before global warming takes us out. It’s all about flatworms.

take one, three times daily

Here’s consensus we can believe in – skeptic blogs sweep the awards board. Soylent is over the moon.

A German meteorologist warns us to prepare for cooling, not warming. He’ll be in Von Luger’s cooler in no time for saying stuff like that.

Data manipulation of mythic proportions? Tallbloke knows what happened to the ARGO noughts.

Hippies will be piqued that Peak Oil has, er, peaked. It’s over, according to Citigroup, thanks to pesky human innovation and progress.

Salamanders are the latest species to not need saving, thanks to their ability to adapt quickly to environmental changes.

Salamanders, he found in a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, which is published by Nature Publishing Group, can evolve fairly rapidly — in 10 to 20 generations — in response to the chemical runoff found in many roadside ponds.

Cassava, a root source of carbohydrate, is set to thrive if global warming gets rolling. It is already eaten daily by 500 million people and could replace crops that may fair poorly in slightly milder weather. That sound you hear is another Paul Ehrlich face palm.

Pushing back against warmist propaganda in Aussie schools, an offer to give 300 free Ian Plimer books to educators.

Remember when London, Manhattan and other popular world cities were to disappear under rising seas? Ain’t happening:

hippies: simply rotate the graph 90° left to restore cozy worldview

Australia was warned that drought was the new normal thanks to global warming, and sure enough, reservoirs are set to spill their dams. Wait, what?

Part Four: Global Hottie

The Avengers movie is released in May, and a new trailer is out that’s pretty entertaining. While not usually a superhero movie fan, this one is written and directed by Joss Whedon, of Firefly. So yeah, I’ll buy a ticket. If you’re on the fence, here’s a couple of good reasons to see it: Scarlett Johansson.

*click*

Thanks for reading. For those inclined, save a thought or say a prayer for the friends and family of Andrew Breitbart, who passed away too soon today.

NOTE: Oh my, another link from Anthony at WUWT for the Gleick water movie story. At this rate he’ll want to keep his pipe and slippers here. Welcome back Wattsians, Wattsistas, Wattsbros and Watterati. For you are legion, or hordes, or maybe swarms.

Space rocks and red tape

A big lump of rock is headed toward Earth:

The space rock, which is called 2011 AG5, is about 460 feet (140 meters) wide. It may come close enough to Earth in 2040 that some researchers are calling for a discussion about how to deflect it.

Talk about the asteroid was on the agenda during the 49th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), held earlier this month in Vienna.

A UN Action Team on near-Earth objects (NEOs) noted the asteroid’s repeat approaches to Earth and the possibility — however remote — that 2011 AG5 might smack into our planet 28 years from now.

If the rock of doom requires a gentle nudge away from Gaia to prevent a very bad day for Earthlings, NASA won’t be riding to the rescue. These days, NASA does dodgy weather research and outreach programs, not stuff in actual space with rockets piloted by flinty-eyed men called Buzz.

*not actual size

In the absence of NASA leadership, any effort to deflect 2011 AG5 may be left to the United Nations.  What could possibly go wrong?

First, the UN would need to determine which of its bodies has jurisdiction over the giant ball of rocky doom.

The program may be led by the Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA), or the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). The Security Council would issue a strongly-worded letter to 2011-AG5, possibly even going so far as to threaten the giant ball of rock hurtling through the cosmos with a Security Resolution. That’ll show it.

In the unlikely event a Security Council letter failed to change 2011-AG5’s mind, or velocity and direction, real action will be required. But who would the UN call in for advice? Earth is 70% ocean and the rock could leave a hefty dent in the seabed, so the International Seabed Authority (ISA) may need to be included. Approximately 50% of human casualties from an impact would be female, so the Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE) will need to be called, because it’s sexist to assume women vaporize in the same manner as men, or something.

If a decision was made to nuke the rock out of existence before it arrived on our galactic doorstep, approval might be needed from the UN Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Organization, even though technically the mushroom cloud would be extraterrestrial. But nuking it may not be even an option in 2040 if the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) is successful in the interim. Oh, the ironing.

Assuming the worst happened and a mighty global bureaucracy somehow failed to stop 2011-AG5’s deadly progress, at least they’ll be ready to handle the consequences.  The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), the UN System Network on Rural Development and Food Security, the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) would immediately call a meeting. The Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) could chair.

Even though the chance of a meteor hit is slim at best, pray for a miss, or we’re doomed.

Round-Up tomorrow, as usual.

Keystone XL: OK to TX gets OK

Transcanada Corporation is to go ahead and build a large stretch of the southern Keystone XL pipeline with the blessing of the White House.

The pipe will run from Cushing, Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas. Since it does not cross an international border, State Department approval is not required. Which lets President Obama off the hook for making a decision. No wonder he approves:

“The president welcomes today’s news that TransCanada plans to build a pipeline to bring crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma, to the Gulf of Mexico,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.

The plan will “help address the bottleneck of oil” in the U.S. Midwest that has resulted from increased domestic production in areas like the Bakken oilfields of North Dakota. “We look forward to working with TransCanada to ensure that it is built in a safe, responsible and timely manner, and we commit to take every step possible to expedite the necessary federal permits,” Carney said.

The announcement came on the same day anti-energy activist Weepy Bill McKibben wrote this:

the White House continued to stand strong against Congressional efforts to force a permit for Keystone — as the president’s press secretary pointed out (in a pointed tweet) the administration’s new fuel efficiency standards for cars would save more oil than the pipeline could deliver in 45 years.

Oh noes, Weepy Bill is under the bus, and he doesn’t even know it. At least he won’t be lonely, Daryl Hannah, Mark Ruffalo and Margot Kidder can keep him company under the diesel reaper.

Here’s the obligatory Weepy Bill Google juice, Round-up reader favorite Olivia Wilde:

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Fakegate: DeSmogBlog’s epic fail

You almost have to feel sorry for the folks at DeSmogBlog.

Their moment of glory after they revealed the Heartland Institute’s documents took only days to blow up in their faces, and they’ve been playing defense ever since.

Brendan DeMille is upset that the shocking admission from a once-respected scientist that he committed fraud to obtain the documents became the story, instead of the somewhat more mundane fact that an ideological entity supported people of similar ideology:

The debate about what Gleick did to acquire the internal documents from Heartland will surely rage on. It will make good fodder for university students in ethics and journalism classes for years to come.  But as Republic Report points out, it is hardly the most vital aspect of the story for mainstream media outlets to prioritize coverage on right now. That is, if the mainstream media are truly reporting what’s in the public interest, rather than chasing advertising revenue through scandal-mongering.

Note to Brendan – when the FBI is called in to investigate your source, it is the story.

Fellow DeSmogger Richard Littlemore is equally upset that Heartland outplayed the warmists at every turn since the document release:

In the last week, Heartland has been able to rely on this network – and on its own considerable skill as a propaganda machine – to deflect responsibility for the recent revelations of its own improprieties.

Most impressive, however, in Heartland’s campaign to spin this reputational catastrophe was its creation of the website www.fakegate.org.

Yet, in less than a week, it picked the its favourite meme “fakegate,” and ran up an entire website inlcuding everything from a section dedicated to inciting people to harass Heartland critics to a solicitation for funding for Heartland’s “legal defence.”

Clearly this was not a fair contest. How could DeSmogBlog expect to compete with Heartland when it came to messaging, it’s not like they’re a PR firm or anything. Oh, wait:

The DeSmogBlog team is led by Jim Hoggan, founder of James Hoggan & Associates, one of Canada’s leading public relations firms. By training a lawyer, by inclination a ski instructor and cyclist, Jim Hoggan believes that integrity and public relations should not be at odds – that a good public reputation generally flows from a record of responsible actions. His client list includes real estate development companies, high tech firms, pharmaceutical, forest industry giants, resorts and academic institutions. He is also a Board Member of the David Suzuki Foundation.

In case you were wondering, I’m pretty certain it was DeSmog who put the PR in pratfall.

For bonus comedy, here’s the strategy statement from Hoggan and Associates web page:

1.            Do the right thing.

2.            Be seen to be doing the right thing.

3.            Don’t get #1 and #2 mixed up.

We know that recognizing “the right thing” can be difficult. Sometimes what’s right is a matter of perspective. Sometimes it means taking a short-term hit to ensure long-term gain. But in a climate of mistrust, where people have learned to recognize authenticity, we believe that doing the right thing, and being seen to do the right thing, is a sure strategy for success.

Good luck with that long-term gain, hippies.

NOTE: Thanks to Anthony Watts for the link, and welcome Wattsians. I didn’t know traffic could go to 11, but it can.

Peta-pocalypse

Radical animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals loves animals so much it kills 95% of pets in its care:

Documents published online this month show that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an organization known for its uncompromising animal-rights positions, killed more than 95 percent of the pets in its care in 2011.

The documents, obtained from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, were published online by the Center for Consumer Freedom, a non-profit organization that runs online campaigns targeting groups that antagonize food producers.

Fifteen years’ worth of similar records show that since 1998 PETA has killed more than 27,000 animals at its headquarters in Norfolk, VA.

Note for animal rights activists and ex-chairs of scientific ethics committees: ethics, you’re doing it wrong.

It’s Sunday, so here’s Natalie Imbruglia holding a rabbit:

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