March 27, 2011

Money for Nothing

Now look at them yo-yo's, that's the way you do it
You play the guitar on the M.T.V.
That ain't working, that's the way you do it
       Dire Straits

Living in the American South for most of my life I am familiar with the loblolly pine. It is not exactly the most majestic, or for that matter all that attractive as far as trees go.You put a bunch of them together and you get...well you get pretty much something like  the picture above.

But a tree is a tree and all living things have an important place in the grand scheme of things, until they don't. The loblolly pine has become an important crop in the South and therefore it is important not only as an ecological but also a economic entity to the region.

Recently the USDA awarded $60 million  to research the affects of climate change on crops and forests.
The three studies take a new approach to crop and climate research by bringing together researchers from a wide variety of fields and encouraging them to find solutions appropriate to specific geographic areas. One study will focus on Midwestern corn, another on wheat in the Northwest and a third on Southern pine forests.
As the article points out the lowly loblolly is important for many reasons to the believers in global warming.

Tim Martin, a professor of tree physiology at the University of Florida and the head of the forestry project, said it will focus on the loblolly pine, which covers 80 percent of the planted forest land in the southeastern U.S. Southern pine forests produce more wood products than any others in the country, and they pull a huge amount of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, making them important to the economy and environment, he said.

“Southern forests contain a third of all the sequestered carbon — stored carbon — in all the lower 48 states,” Martin said. “And every year, Southern forests store enough additional carbon to offset about 13 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the region. So just by virtue of growing, forests take CO2 out of the atmosphere and store it in the wood and in the soil.”

Martin’s team will aim to maximize the amount of carbon stored in those forests and in wood products, such as 2-by-4-inch boards used to build houses.
As a carpenter I often consider the CO2 content in my lumber as I build, I assume soon Home Depot will be required to label CO2 content on their lumber so as to take advantage of some government subsidy.

To give you an idea of where the mighty loblolly resides below is a map of its primary habitat.

 As you can see it is almost exclusively found in the South Eastern United States, with a slight incursion into Texas. That incursion must be why some of the Federal dough was handed out to some Aggies at Texas A&M or it may simply be that they are well qualified  researchers on the subject. Regardless, $20 million is being doled out to study the dire affects of climate change on the poor loblolly, why? Well as one of the recipients of this grant points out,:

Gan’s work will focus on assessing the risk and economic consequences of climate-induced disturbances such as wildfire and southern pine beetle outbreaks under global climate change.
“These are specifically very sensitive to climate change, especially with the temperature going up in the South,” Gan said. “I’ve done economic analysis research in the past several years on the southern pine beetle. I will try to expand that working area on adaptation and hope these results will go into help alleviate some of these impacts. This research will also look at some possible changes in management practices.”

The southern pine beetle would cause annual economic losses of $500 million to $870 million to southern U.S. timber production if predicted climate change occurs, Gan said. (emphasis mine)
Well we certainly don't want those nasty beetles getting into the loblolly crop, uh forests. And we all know how devastating forest fires can be, especially in a global warmed world, but I wondered just how bad is it for the 2x4 parentage?

So I checked with the authority for all things temperature related (US version) the NCDC of NOAA.  Checking on the Southeast United States which fortuitously seems to about match the same geographic area inhabited by loblolly, except for the Texas incursion.  I discovered this: 

Annual Temperature
Southeast Region

Annual 1901 - 2000 Average = 62.90 degF
Annual 1895 - 2010 Trend = -0.01 degF / Decade

At a glance I immediately realized that the Federal Government seems to be between 50 and 100 years late on the study, maybe they have been saving up their money to pay for it. It seems to me that it would have been more appropriate to investigate the affects of warming on the loblolly back between the Roaring Twenties and the end of World War 2 than now. The hottest year in the Southeastern US was 1922, you know back when SUV's were all the rage.

Like so much of the climate change meme, funding for projects is based upon a belief or a narrative rather than the reality. Models show that at some point in the future the South East United States will be warmer, so let's throw 20 million to study a non existent problem and act as if it is real. As we know this practice is not new to the climate alarmist forecasters. In 1988 James Hanson made a prediction about the loblolly habitat.
The model results suggest some near-term regional climate variations, despite the fixed ocean heat transport which suppresses many possible regional climate fluctuations; for example, during the late 1980s and in the 1990s there is a tendency for greater than average warming in the southeastern and central United States and relatively cooler conditions or less than average warming in the western United States and much of Europe.
His forecasting, though not all that accurate, didn't hurt his career path or his agencies funding.

In climate science it is not about accuracy, it is about having the magical mystery tour models to foretell the future. A future which will insure funding for research into a never ending crop of potential disasters and ill affects.

Academia has latched onto the climate change band wagon and is riding the taxpayer funded unicorn of make believe for all it is worth, The fact that it has not warmed in the southeastern  United States is not even a speed bump for the institutions, the researchers or their pimps in the Federal Agencies. The squandering of taxpayer's money to study the affects of a climate that has not changed on a tree that is not in danger does not even prick their conscious so pervasive is the delusion that they know what is happening and what is best.

It truly is money for nothing what a gig if you can get it.

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