Tracking the politics of fear....  

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31 August, 2005


Once again I am thinking of all those "ecologically responsible" Greenie cyclists. They could really lose their juju if they do too much of it. Article below from from: J. Sex Med. 2005; 2: 596-604:

Bicycle Riding and Erectile Dysfunction: An Increase in Interest (and Concern)

By Vincent Huang, MS, Ricardo Munarriz, MD, and Irwin Goldstein, MD


Introduction. From 1999 to 2004, there had been 21 publications from multiple medical specialties (sexual medicine, urology, neurology, cardiology, biomedical engineering, sports medicine, emergency medicine, and officials from the National Institute for Safety and Occupational Health) investigating the relationship between bicycle riding and erectile dysfunction (ED). In the previous 18 years, there have been 14 such studies.

Aim. The primary aim was to summarize accumulating data on the safety of bicycle riding based on medical evidence categorized by levels of evidence, including case reports, observational studies, case control studies, mechanistic studies, and population-based epidemiologic investigations. The secondary aim was to address the concerns of bicyclists and propose measures to minimize the risk of ED associated with bicycle riding.

Methods. An English-language medical literature review was made of publications in peer review journals from 1981 to 2004, including published abstract presentations at major medical meetings.

Main Outcome Measure. Ranked published epidemiologic data on bicycle riding and ED.

Results. Bicycle riding more than 3 hours per week was an independent relative risk (RR = 1.72) for moderate to severe ED. In case control studies, the prevalence of moderate to severe ED in bicyclists was 4.2% and 4% vs. age-matched runners 1.1% (P less than or equal to 0.018) and swimmers 2% (P = 0.05), respectively. Therefore, bicycle riders should take precautionary measures to minimize the risk of ED associated with bicycle riding: change the bicycle saddle with a protruding nose to a noseless seat, change the posture to a more upright/reclining position, change the material of the saddle (GEL), and tilt the saddle/seat downwards.

Conclusions. The mechanism is hypothetically related to the rider interaction with the bicycle saddle at the perineum to saddle interface. Straddling bicycle saddles with a nose extension is associated with suprasystolic perineal compression pressures, temporarily occluding penile perfusion and potentially inducing endothelial injury and vasculogenic


By Roger Pielke Jr.

Disaster losses have increased dramatically in recent decades. Yet as discussed here frequently there is no scientific evidence showing that any part of this increase can be attributed to changes in climate, whether anthropogenic in origin or not. This is a long post on this subject. It contains a lot of gory detail on what I consider to be a major misuse of science in the climate debate, viewed through the lens of a recent paper in Science.

I focus on this issue mainly because this is an area where I have considerable expertise, and in this context my work is often mis-cited or ignored. This misuse of science is pretty much overlooked by scientists (here is one exception) advocates on either side of the debate, and the media (here is one exception).

A number of colleagues and I have a letter on this subject coming out in the November Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (I'll post a pre-publication version of this soon). Also, in partnership with Munich Re we are organizing a major workshop on attribution of causes underlying the observed trend of ever-escalating disaster damages. Munich Re seems very supportive of rigorous science on this topic. So clearly, I intend to pursue this subject.

(FULL ARTICLE in Science Policy, 22 August 2005)


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


30 August, 2005

Rainforest Eco-Hysteria

Post lifted from Cheat-seeking Missiles

BBC reports Brazil's Amazon rainforest deforestation figures: A drop of 50 percent in the last year -- 3,475 sq miles in the last year vs.6,950 sq miles in 2003 to 2004. That seems like a lot, but there are 2.5 million sq miles of rainforest down there, so last year, only .00139 of the Brazilian forest, a bit over one-tenth of one percent of the forest was converted. Of this, a portion was converted to agriculture or development, but much was logged and will grow back. Brazilian environment minister Marina de Silva attributed the drop to greater government control and more emphasis on sustainable development projects. Environmentalists, of course, don't take good news well. BBC quotes Greenpeace saying it is too soon to talk about a long-term slowing of the destruction of the forest. They warn that illegal loggers may just be biding their time. Greenpeace also warns that a new economic initiative by the Brazilian government is bad news for the rainforests:

In January 2001 the Brazilian government announced its plans for "Avança Brasil" (Advance Brazil). This is a US$40 billion plan to cover much of the Amazon rainforest with 10,000 km of highways, hydroelectric dams, power lines, mines, gas and oilfields, canals, ports, logging concessions and other industrial developments. Scientists predict that these planned developments will lead to the damage or loss of between 33-42 percent of Brazil's remaining Amazon forest.

In other words, they want us to believe that Brazil intends to wipe out up to 1,050,000 square miles of rainforest! Really?!

The United States is not quite three times bigger than the Amazon rainforest, covering 3,537,441 square miles. Of this, almost 1.7 million square miles is either developed or in agriculture. Adusting for the size disparity, if the U.S. were the size of the Amazon rainforest, it would have 1.2 million developed square miles.

We are a heavily industrialized country that's been hard at work at conquering the wilderness for 500 years -- 150 in mechanized earnestness -- and we've just barely accomplished on our entire subcontinent what Greenpeace says may happen to the Brazilian rainforest.

The claim isn't merely mathematically ridiculous. Brazil has a lot of much more developable land outside the rainforest, so whatever resources are poured into developing that country will be spread around, leaving only a portion for the rainforest. We didn't concentrate our development in the Louisianna bayous; the Brazilians won't concentrate it in the rainforest.

Like so many environmentalists fears, this is another that is nothing more than eco-hysteria.


Yet another factor missing from the Greenie climate "models" that are used so omnisciently

Cosmic dust from meteors could have a bigger impact on our climate than once thought, scientists say. Researchers at Australia's Davis base in Antarctica, who discovered the vapourised remains of a meteor that disintegrated as it entered the atmosphere, report their findings in the journal Nature today. Lead author Dr Andrew Klekociuk from the Australian Antractic Division in Tasmania says analysis of the dust particles by remote laser sensing after the explosion shows the particles were much larger than expected. "It's previously been thought that when large bodies burn up in the atmosphere ... it turns the body into tiny particles of smoke, but there's been no real observational evidence for that," Klekociuk says. "What we found to our surprise here is that the dust seems to be larger."

The particles were about 1000 times larger than the international team of scientists predicted; they were in the micrometre scale as opposed to the nanometre scale. In sufficient quantity, the particles observed at Davis may have been big enough to potentially influence the weather.

Klekociuk says the house-sized meteor that had been orbiting between Venus and the Earth disintegrated into cosmic dust as it entered the atmosphere in September 2004, south of South Africa and about 7000 kilometres from the Davis base. The explosion released as much energy as the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima and produced 1000 tonnes of dust.

Klekociuk says the disintegration of the meteor is unlikely to have had any immediate impact on climate. However, the findings about the size of the particles should cause us to rethink the cumulative effect of cosmic dust globally, he says. Dust has the potential to warm or cool the Earth depending on the size and composition of the particles. It can do this by either scattering or absorbing solar visible light. If light scatters away from the Earth cooling occurs, and if it's absorbed there's warming. It can also trigger cloud nucleation, which occurs what drops of water cling to a speck of dust, eventually causing clouds to form.

The magnesium, iron and silica composition of the meteor dust could also react with chemicals in the atmosphere, potentially eroding the ozone layer. "If the dust from large meteors was much larger it would have a much larger climate forcing potential," Klekociuk says. Analysis of the dust could also predict how the climate would be affected if a meteor were to crash into Earth.

Klekociuk says around 40 tonnes of cosmic dust fall to Earth each day. "If you ran your finger along your window sill at home some of that will actually be meteoric dust," he says. He says the researchers believe they have retrieved some dust from the September event from ice near Davis and will analyse it further.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


29 August, 2005


(By eminent statistician Ian Castles in Climate Audit, 22 August 2005)

During the past three years I and a co-author (David Henderson, former Head of the Department of Economics and Statistics at OECD) have criticised the IPCC’s treatment of economic issues.

Our main single criticism has been the Panel’s use of exchange rate converters to put the GDPs of different countries onto a common basis for purposes of estimating and projecting output, income, energy intensity, etc. This is not permissible under the internationally-agreed System of National Accounts which was unanimously approved by the UN Statistical Commission in 1993, and published later that year by the United Nations, the World Bank, the IMF, the OECD and the Commission of the European Communities, under cover of a Foreword which was personally signed by the Heads of the five organisations.

The practice of exchange rate conversion has been explicitly rejected by at least three Nobel Laureates in economics (Sir Richard Stone, Paul Samuelson and Amartya Sen) and three Distinguished Fellows of the American Economic Association (Irving Kravis, Robert Summers and Alan Heston). In the course of the current controversy, Sir Partha Dasgupta of Cambridge University has told Stephen Schneider of Stanford University, a leading IPCC figure, that “Castles is of course completely right” (in rejecting the use of “outmoded accounting practices”); William Nordhaus of Yale University advised an IPCC Expert Meeting on Emissions Scenarios last January that estimates of output or income using exchange rates are “simply wrong”, “constructed on an economically unsound basis”, “fundamentally wrong”, “highly misleading” and “precisely wrong”; Richard Tol of Hamburg University informed the recent UK House of Lords Committee inquiry into “The Economics of Climate Change” that the IPCC scenarios “essentially assume convergence based on market exchange rates, which is ludicrous”; Ross McKitrick of Guelph University drew the Committee’s attention to a statement by John Reilly of MIT that the IPCC scenarios exercise was “in my view, a kind of insult to science”; and the world’s leading expert on historical international comparisons of output and income, Angus Maddison, gave the Committee “an illustration of the implausibility of using exchange rate converters in historical analysis or futurology (as in the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios …)” In its unanimous report, the 13-member Select Committee on Economic Affairs of the House of Lords said that “We found no support for the use of MER in [long-term emissions scenarios], other than from Dr Nakicenovic of the IPCC.”

None of this criticism has moved the IPCC. Its Chairman, Dr Rajendra Pachauri of India, told the House of Lords Committee that the criticism of the emissions scenarios “only validates the methodology that the IPCC used earlier” and “does not invalidate it”. A press statement published on the IPCC website which is devoted specifically and exclusively to brushing aside the Castles and Henderson critique says that the IPCC “mobilises the best experts from all over the world”, and describes us as “so called ‘two independent commentators’”. The IPCC has selected Professor Nakicenovic and Brian Fisher, Director of the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE), as the two Coordinating Lead Authors of the chapter in the Panel’s next assessment report (AR4) that is to assess criticism of the IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES). In their first response to the Castles and Henderson critique, Professor Nakicenovic and 14 other lead authors of the SRES said that “Mr Castles and Mr Henderson have focused (at tedious length) on constructing a ‘problem’ that does not exist”, and in their “final” response Nakicenovic and 17 other lead authors persisted in affirming the “methodological soundness of the use of MER for developing long term emissions scenarios”. Brian Fisher, the other CLA of the chapter that is to assess the IPCC scenarios, is the co-author of an article published by ABARE (of which he is Director) which states that “The use of [market exchange rates] … in the SRES remains valid and the critique by Castles and Henderson cannot be sustained.”

Australia’s leading scientific research organisation, the CSIRO, appended an opinion piece by atmospheric scientist Kevin Hennessy to its submission to an Australian Senate Committee Inquiry into the Kyoto Protocol Ratification Bill 2003. According to Mr Hennessy,”Castles and Henderson have claimed that the IPCC warming projections are based on greenhouse emissions that are too high because market exchange rates (MER) were used rather than purchasing power parity (PPP) in calculating future economic growth. The claims have been reviewed and refuted by international experts (Nakicenovic and others).” The list of references to the opinion piece did not include any paper by “Nakicenovic and others”. Mr Hennessy subsequently declined an invitation to produce a paper on the CSIRO’s emissions scenarios for Energy & Environment (the journal in which Nakicenovic et al appeared), on the grounds that the CSIRO prefers to publish in peer-reviewed journals listed by the Institute for Scintific Information (ISI). Mr Hennessy has been selected as a Coordinating Lead Author of the “Australia and New Zealand” chapter of the next IPCC Report.

At the IPCC Expert Meetings on Emissions Scenarios last January, Professor John Weyant of Stanford University, Director of the Energy Modeling Forum, defended the use of exchange rate converters by the IPCC on the ground that “best practice can differ between making historical welfare comparisons and model projections of GDP, energy and carbon emissions.” According to the Report of the meeting “Weyant recommended using MERs or PPPs consistently.” It is of course a contradiction in terms to urge the use of MERs “consistently”.In a letter to Dr Pachauri three years ago I pointed out that an expert committee appointed by the UN Statistical Commission had found that there were “material errors” (that is, errors which left the reader with ‘a fundamentally distorted view of the phenomena being described’) in the UNDP’s Human Development Report 1999. I noted that the same statements had been repeated uncritically in IPCC reports. Two of these were in a chapter of the last assessment report of which Professor Weyant was Coordinating Lead Author. The IPCC has not acknowledged that any mistakes were made in the last assessment report and has selected Weyant as Review Editor of the Chapter in the next assessment report which is to review criticisms of the IPCC emissions scenarios.

Another Lead Author of the next IPCC Assessment Report whose country of residence appears on the IPCC lists as “Australia” is Bill Hare, who was one of the invited experts to the recent IPCC Workshop on Emissions Scenarios (as a representative of “Greenpeace, Environmental NGO”). Mr Hare argued for a strong role for the IPCC in the development of scenarios in the future, and asserted that the SRES had been a “big success”.

In my first letter to the Chairman of the IPCC three years ago, I said that it would “be desirable to seek the involvement of national statistical offices and of the International Statistical Institute (ISI) in the new emissions projections that I understand are to be prepared for the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report.” The IPCC subsequently decided that there would be no emissions projections. It has not invited any representatives of national statistical offices or of the ISI to any of its expert meetings, nor have any national accounts experts been included in the writing teams for the next assessment report.

The IPCC can ignore the world’s leading economists and statisticians with impunity, because it has the support of “the worldwide scientific community”. In its submission to the House of Lords Committee, the Royal Society (UK) explained that: “The work of the IPCC is backed by the worldwide scientific community. A joint statement of support was issued in May 2001 by the science academies of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Caribbean, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Sweden and the UK. It stated: ‘We recognise the IPCC as the world’s most reliable source of information on climate change and its causes, and we endorse its methods of achieving consensus.”

The joint statement of support appeared in “Science”, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In a news item published in the same issue of “Science”, the President of the Royal Society, Lord May, explained that the Royal Society had organised the petition because of resistance to the terms of the Kyoto Protocol by countries such as the US and Australia.


(From Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. Article in Press)

Temperature responses to quasi-100-yr solar variability during the past 6000 years based on delta 18 O of peat cellulose in Hongyuan, eastern Qinghai-Tibet plateau, China

By: Hai Xu a), b), Yetang Hong b), Qinghua Lin b), Yongxuan Zhu b), Bing Hong b) and Hongbo Jiang b) a) State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 10 Fenghui South Road, High-tech Zone, Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, PO Box 710075, China b) State Key Laboratory of Environmental Geochemistry, Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guiyang, 550002, China


During the past 6000 years, the temperature variation trend inferred from ?18O of peat cellulose in a peat core from Hongyuan (eastern Qinghai-Tibet plateau, southwestern China) is similar to the atmospheric 14C concentration trend and the modeled solar output trend. The general trend of Hongyuan ?18O during the past millennium also coincides well with the atmospheric 14C concentration trend, the 10Be concentration trend in an ice core from the South Pole, the reconstructed total solar irradiance trend, as well as the modeled solar output trend. In addition, temperature events also correspond well to solar perturbations during the past 6000 years. Therefore, the driving force of Holocene temperature variations should be properly ascribed to solar activity. The spectrum analysis further illustrates that quasi-100-yr fluctuation of solar activity was probably responsible for temperature variations in northeast Qinghai-Tibet plateau during the past 6000 years.

1. Introduction

A Considerable number of investigations have been performed to study Holocene temperature variations and the related mechanisms in China recently (Hong et al., 2000, Xu et al., 2002 and Yang et al., 2002). Temperature changes inferred from delta18 O in peat cellulose at Hongyuan (Xu et al., 2002) and Jinchuan (Hong et al., 2000) (Fig. 1) are synchronous with those discovered in numerous studies in China and those revealed by other studies in the Northern Hemisphere (Xu et al., 2002). Recently, Yang et al. (2002) studied temperatures in China over the past 2000 years and discovered that temperature trends in different regions of China are consistent with one another. Close attention should be paid to the synchrony of temperature variations in different regions in China because the climate dynamics are quite variable. China is one of the most active and extensive monsoon regions. Different regions, influenced variably by a number of monsoon sources, have different climatic patterns. The complex topography can also lead to climatic variations (An, 2000). Thus, if the temperatures in different regions are synchronous, a common and dominant forcing process is strongly supported.

The nature of such a common forcing agent is still debated. Variation of the total energy reaching the Earth may be a major factor that influences the Earth's climates. During the latest two sunspot cycles, Earth-satellite measurements indicate that the total solar output, which has long been considered constant, has varied by 0.1% (Reid, 1997). These small solar perturbations, whose effect can be magnified by different feedback mechanisms (Van Geel et al., 1999, Bond et al., 2001 and Shindell et al., 2001), may ultimately lead to climatic oscillations on several time scales, such as annual to decadal and/or centennial scales, as well as millennial scales. Therefore, solar variability can possibly be considered as a primary factor when studying the mechanisms of Holocene temperature variations (Blackford and Chambers, 1995, Chambers et al., 1999, Van Geel et al., 1999, Reid, 1997, Lean and Rind, 1999 and Beer et al., 2000).

The atmospheric 14C concentration has long been recognized as a sensitive proxy of solar variability (Eddy, 1976). In addition, variations of the modeled solar output (Perry and Hsu, 2000), which are consistent with temperatures, may also be used as a surrogate of solar activity. In this paper, we compare temperature variations inferred from delta18 O in peat cellulose at Hongyuan with solar activity inferred from several kinds of solar proxy indices, and perform cross-spectral analysis to investigate the relationship between temperatures and solar variability. Our study reveals that quasi-100-yr fluctuations of solar activity are possibly the primary driving force of Chinese temperatures during the past 6000 years.


6. Conclusions

During the past 6000 years, temperature variations in China exhibit high synchrony among different regions, and importantly, are in-phase with those discovered in other regions in the northern hemisphere. Comparisons between temperature variations and solar activities indicate that both temperature trends on centennial/millennial timescales and climatic events are related to solar variability, suggesting that solar variability is possibly a primary driving force that influences temperatures. Cross-spectrum analyses indicate that there exists a series of periodicities between temperatures in Hongyuan, temperatures in Jinchuan, and solar activities. These common periodicities are mainly a response to variations in solar activity. Quasi-100-yr fluctuations of solar activity may be the primary driving force of temperature during the past 6000 years in China.

The Doi (permanent) address for the full article above is here

Another judge who thinks he knows better than both Congress and the administration: "Two environmental groups and four U.S. cities may sue U.S. federal agencies which finance overseas projects which they say contribute to global warming, a federal judge has ruled... It was brought by Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the cities of Boulder, Colorado, Santa Monica, California, Oakland, California and Arcata, California. Judge Jeffrey White ruled on Tuesday that U.S. law allows the groups and cities to proceed with their lawsuit because they may be affected by overseas agency-backed projects whose emissions are linked to global warming. "The landmark decision is the first time that a federal court has specifically granted legal standing for a lawsuit exclusively alleging injury from global warming and challenging the federal government's failure to evaluate the impacts of its actions on the Earth's climate and U.S. citizens," the Friends of the Earth said in a statement on its Web site".


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


28 August, 2005

The McCain/Clinton Surreal View of Global Warming

Eskimo stories trump thermometers!

U.S. Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton, together with Senators Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham, recently completed a tour of parts of Alaska and Canada "to see firsthand the effects of global warming," which is how one reporter described the purpose of their highly-publicized junket. So what did they discover that led McCain to state, as reported by Associated Press Writer Dan Joling, that the trip was "valuable for the accumulation of evidence," specifically, evidence that could be used to support the McCain-Liebermann bill that would limit anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions?

Among the items cited by Joling were "anecdotes from Alaskans and residents of the Yukon." As elucidated by Senator Graham, according to Joling, "if you can go to the native people and listen to their stories and walk away with any doubt that something's going on, I just think you're not listening," or as McCain is reported to have said, "anyone doubting the effects of human activity on global climate change should talk to the people it affects in Alaska and the Yukon."

Well, of course, "something's going on," but the important questions are What? and Why? McCain and Clinton say that the what is unprecedented global warming and that the why is because of anthropogenic CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. To our way of thinking, however, real-world data far outrank anecdotes and stories when it comes to answering these key questions; and when the former are employed, some vastly different answers are obtained.

To focus our efforts in illustrating this fact, we concentrate on what it was that enticed McCain and company to visit Alaska and the Yukon in the first place. According to another report of the trip, McCain claims that the planet's north and south polar regions "are the miner's canaries on the issue, showing the effects of global warming first." Hence, it was only to be expected that local residents of the planet's north polar region would regale him and his associates with tales of dwindling sea ice, coastal erosion, melting permafrost and the northward spread of spruce beetles. And it was those anecdotes and stories, according to one press report, that "confirmed his belief that humans are contributing to global warming."

But what does science have to say about the issue? This is a question we have broached repeatedly on our website, focusing on the "canary in the coal mine" claim as applied to earth's polar regions in three consecutive editorials, those of 10 Mar 2004, 17 Mar 2004 and 24 Mar 2004.

In the first editorial, we describe the study of Overpeck et al. (1997), who combined paleoclimatic records from lake and marine sediments, trees and glaciers to develop a 400-year history of circum-Arctic surface air temperature. From this record they determined that the most dramatic warming of the last four centuries (1.5øC) occurred between 1840 and 1955, over which period the air's CO2 concentration rose by 28 ppm. Then, from 1955 to the end of the record (about 1990), the mean circum-Arctic air temperature actually declined by 0.4øC, while the air's CO2 concentration rose by 41 ppm. On the basis of these observations, we calculate that over the first 115 years of warming, when the air's CO2 concentration rose by an average of 0.24 ppm/year, air temperature rose by an average of 0.013øC/year; while over the final 35 years of the record, when the air's CO2 content rose at a mean rate of 1.17 ppm/year (nearly five times the rate at which it had risen in the prior period), air temperature actually decreased, at a mean rate of change (0.011øC/year) that was nearly the same as the rate at which it had previously risen. Hence, it is abundantly clear from this analysis of air temperature behavior in the Arctic (where CO2 effects are supposed to be most evident and first detectable) that whatever effect the increase in the air's CO2 content might have had on earth's surface air temperature over the period of study was totally overpowered by the simultaneous effect of whatever changes may have occurred in whatever is the chief determinant of climate change on earth.

In the second editorial, we concentrate on directly-measured temperatures, as opposed to the reconstructed temperatures used by Overpeck et al., focusing on the study of Polyakov et al. (2003), who derived a surface air temperature history that stretches from 1875 to 2000 based on measurements made at 75 land stations and a number of drifting buoys located poleward of 62øN latitude. From 1875 to about 1917, the surface air temperature of this huge northern region rose hardly at all; but then it took off like a rocket, climbing 1.7øC in just 20 years to reach a peak in 1937 that has yet to be eclipsed. During this 20-year period of rapidly rising air temperature, the atmosphere's CO2 concentration rose by a mere 8 ppm. But then, over the next six decades, when the air's CO2 concentration rose by approximately 55 ppm or nearly seven times more than it did throughout the 20-year period of dramatic warming that had preceded it, the air temperature of the region poleward of 62øN latitude experienced no net warming and, in fact, may have actually cooled a bit.

In light of these results, as before, it is difficult to claim much about the strength of the warming power of the 75-ppm increase in the air's CO2 concentration that occurred from 1875 to 2000, other than to say it was miniscule compared to whatever other forcing factor or combination of forcing factors was concurrently having its way with the climate of the Arctic. One cannot, for example, claim that any of the 1917 to 1937 warming was due to the 8-ppm increase in CO2 that accompanied it, even if augmented by the 12-ppm increase that occurred between 1875 and 1917; for the subsequent and much larger 55-ppm increase in CO2 led to no net warming over the remainder of the record, which suggests that just a partial relaxation of the forces that totally overwhelmed the warming influence of the CO2 increase experienced between 1937 and 2000 would have been sufficient to account for the temperature increase that occurred between 1917 and 1937. Understood in this light, CO2 does not even enter the picture.

In the third of our "canary in the coal mine" editorials, we concentrate on perhaps the most climatologically-significant area of the Arctic, i.e., Greenland, where the complete melting of its ice sheet could raise sea levels globally by some five to six meters. In this endeavor, we focus on the work of Chylek et al. (2004), who analyzed the temperature histories of three coastal stations in southern and central Greenland that possess almost uninterrupted temperature records stretching from 1950 to 2000. They discovered that "summer temperatures, which are most relevant to Greenland ice sheet melting rates, do not show any persistent increase during the last fifty years." In fact, working with the two stations with the longest records (both over a century in length), they determined that coastal Greenland's peak temperatures occurred between 1930 and 1940, and that the subsequent decrease in temperature was so substantial and sustained that current coastal temperatures "are about 1øC below their 1940 values." Furthermore, they note that "at the summit of the Greenland ice sheet the summer average temperature has decreased at the rate of 2.2øC per decade since the beginning of the measurements in 1987." Hence, as with the Arctic as a whole, Greenland did not experience any net warming over the most dramatic period of atmospheric CO2 increase on record. In fact, it actually cooled during this period ... and cooled significantly.

At the start of the 20th century, however, Greenland was warming, as it emerged, along with the rest of the world, from the depths of the Little Ice Age. What is more, between 1920 and 1930, when the atmosphere's CO2 concentration rose by a mere 3 to 4 ppm, there was a phenomenal warming at all five coastal locations for which contemporary temperature records are available. In fact, in the words of Chylek et al., "average annual temperature rose between 2 and 4øC [and by as much as 6øC in the winter] in less than ten years." And this warming, as they note, "is also seen in the 18O/16O record of the Summit ice core (Steig et al., 1994; Stuiver et al., 1995; White et al., 1997)." With respect to this dramatic temperature rise, which they call the great Greenland warming of the 1920s, Chylek et al. correctly conclude that "since there was no significant increase in the atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration during that time, the Greenland warming of the 1920s demonstrates that a large and rapid temperature increase can occur over Greenland, and perhaps in other regions of the Arctic, due to internal climate variability such as the NAM/NAO [Northern Annular Mode/North Atlantic Oscillation], without a significant anthropogenic influence." Yet again, therefore, we have another situation where something other than the air's CO2 concentration rode roughshod over whatever tiny effect the historical increase in the innocuous trace gas' concentration may have had on earth's surface air temperature.

For information on an even greater body of relevant scientific evidence that pertains specifically to Alaska, we direct your attention to our Subject Index Summary Temperature (Trends - Regional: North America, Alaska), where we review the results of several additional studies dealing with proxy temperature reconstructions, as well as a couple that focus on permafrost, all of which come to pretty much the same conclusion as that reached in the editorials discussed above, i.e., that there is absolutely no real-world data that suggest that the historical increase in the air's CO2 concentration has had any effect whatsoever on the climate of Alaska.

Interestingly, these observations lead us to actually agree with some of Senator Clinton's statements on the subject, such as "I don't think there is any doubt left for anyone who actually looks at the science," which she was quoted by Joling as saying, as well as "the science is overwhelming." Unfortunately, what she and Senator McCain call science is something radically different from what we call science. Also, we find we agree with Clinton when she says that some people "just keep saying something no matter how untrue and unfactual it might be, over and over and over again, and try to drive the politics to meet [their] ideological or commercial agenda." However, we feel that this astute observation better fits her and Senator McCain than the people to whom she directs it. Surely you must too, if you put more credence in real-world data than in anecdotes and stories.

More here


"This issue's temperature record of the week is from Balmorhea, TX. During the period of most significant greenhouse gas buildup over the past century, i.e., 1930 and onward, Balmorhea's mean annual temperature has cooled by 1.56 degrees Fahrenheit. Not much global warming here!"



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


27 August, 2005


(And no mention that almost all arctic ice is sea ice and that melting sea ice would not affect ocean levels one iota)

The rate of ice melting in the Arctic is increasing and a panel of researchers says it sees no natural process that is likely to change that trend. Within a century the melting could lead to summertime ice-free ocean conditions not seen in the area in a million years, the group said today. Melting of land-based glaciers could take much longer but could raise the sea levels, potentially affecting coastal regions worldwide. And changes to the permafrost could undermine buildings, drain water into bogs and release additional carbon into the atmosphere.

"What really makes the Arctic different from the rest of the non-polar world is the permanent ice in the ground, in the ocean, and on land," said Jonathan Overpeck of the University of Arizona and chairman of the National Science Foundation's Arctic System Science Committee that issued the report. "We see all of that ice melting already, and we envision that it will melt back much more dramatically in the future, as we move towards this more permanent ice-free state," Overpeck said in a statement.

The panel's findings were published in today's issue of Eos, the weekly newspaper of the American Geophysical Union. The report comes just days after environmental ministers and officials from 23 countries met in Greenland to call on governments to stop arguing over global warming and start acting.....

In the past, Arctic climate has included glacial periods with ice sheets extending into North America and Europe, and other times of relative warming.

After studying how various parts of the climate system interact, the researchers said there are two major feedback systems influencing the region - ocean circulation in the North Atlantic and the amount of precipitation and evaporation that takes place. They got that last bit pretty right

More here

CONSERVATION: Conservation vs. environmentalism

Farmers, fisherman and hunters are by nature conservationists, argues scientist Professor Walter Starck. But today they have been unfairly maligned by a powerful but ignorant urban minority which controls the environmentalist agenda.

Fishermen, farmers and hunters are by nature conservationists. Their own well-being requires a sustainable relation to a healthy natural world. They not only appreciate the beauty of nature; they see themselves as a part of it and it as an important part of themselves. For most of the past century their views and concerns played an important role in conservation. Over the past few decades, however, a new vision of conservation has emerged with a quite different constituency. It's called environmentalism. Like other "isms", it has assumed some of the aspects of a religion. In this view, nature is something pure and perfect while humans are separate and apart from nature, by definition not natural. Any detectable effect of humans is unnatural, undesirable, a desecration.


For its more extreme adherents it has become a form of fundamentalism, with all of the righteousness, narrowness and even hatred that so often accompanies that form of belief. Environmentalism reflects not so much a connection with the natural world as a disconnection from it. It has arisen from the modern urban lifestyle where necessities come from shops and nature is a distant romanticised ideal known chiefly through television, books and magazines.

Although consumers of vast quantities of natural resources from all over the world, most urbanites have little real awareness of the effect they have beyond the store or the garbage bin. They live a blameless existence, shielded by middlemen from most of the effects of their lifestyle.

Environmentalism has a lot going for it. A righteous cause offers purpose and direction to life along with a delicious sense of moral superiority. Why feel guilt or gratitude when you can feel righteous superiority instead? For politicians it has become a constituency they can't ignore. It also affords an ample supply of political cheap shots. Promises to "save" things or prevent "threats" are widely popular and cost little. Closely following public and political concern, the academic community has found environmental issues can provide generous access to government funding. Bureaucracy too has found this to be a rich vein of budgets and authority with little accountability for results.

For the media it is a rich source of drama, abounding with dire threats, conflicts, controversy and attractive suggestions of wrongdoing. Finally, it is big business. Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund, the Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and various other environmental organisations are in fact multinational corporations. Their logos and brand names have global recognition rivaling their commercial counterparts. They have also borrowed useful bits from religion. Like churches and charities, they are tax-exempt. They offer attractive career opportunities and lifestyles. Though not as lavish as those afforded by commercial companies, they are more secure and less demanding of ability or performance, more in fact like a church.

Unlike old-style conservation, which was outcome-oriented and celebrated its successes, environmentalism is problem-oriented and seldom speaks of success other than with suspicion. Any suggestion that a problem may not be as serious as proposed, or that a simple solution may be possible, is greeted with hostility, not interest. Little distinction is made between the real and apparent vs. the hypothetical. Invocation of the precautionary principle justifies all possibilities, so long as they are detrimental.

Indisputably, we live in a finite world and human influence is increasing. Environmental problems do exist. Some are growing; some are being successfully addressed. Determining what is happening and what to do about it is not so easy. Recognising and assessing problems are important. But confusing a difficult task with misinformation, exaggeration and outright lies not only makes the task harder; it squanders resources and leaves important problems unaddressed.

Thrive on problems

Environmentalism has come to embody an unholy coalition of disparate parties whose main commonality is a vested interest in there being problems. Followers and leaders of the movement, politicians, bureaucrats, academics and the media all thrive on environmental problems. Farmers, fishermen and hunters do not; but they are a minority with little voice in an agenda overwhelmingly determined by the urban majority. They also make attractive scapegoats for problems, both real and imagined.

Over the past four decades, hardly a year has passed without some dire threat to the Great Barrier Reef being declared. Crown-of-thorns starfish, over-fishing, tourism, anchor damage, pesticides, fertiliser, cattle, cane, oil shale, coastal development, roads, marinas, shipping, global warming and sundry other menaces have been repeatedly declared and "experts" trotted out to support them. None of these things have been dealt with in any effective manner, yet the reef remains much as it has always been. Credibility, however, never seems lacking for another threat, nor for more expert opinions.

The truth is, scientific understanding of reefs is still only patchy and highly specialised. Only a handful of persons have the scientific background, plus widespread and long-term experience necessary to make reasonable judgments of reef conditions.

Highly variable

Even then, assessment is difficult owing to the highly variable nature of reef communities. What is often seen as evidence of human detriment is either a natural condition of reefs in a particular situation or the result of natural events such as storms, floods and population fluctuations of various organisms that appear unnatural to those of limited experience.

Although reefs in many places have indeed been damaged by human activities, the extent of such damage has been considerably inflated by the prevailing assumption of detriment and a focus on information and interpretation that support this while ignoring or dismissing that which does not. Even accepting recent reports, that about one-third of reefs have suffered noticeable damage, it still means that two-thirds have not. Of those affected, damage is often patchy and how much is from natural causes that will repair is unknown.

Regardless of what may or may not be happening on some heavily impacted reefs elsewhere, that is there and the Barrier Reef is here. You don't board up your house in Townsville because a hurricane threatens Florida.

The Great Barrier Reef is among the most pristine of reef areas. Distance, weather and a relatively small population mean most of the reef is rarely even visited. Of the 2,900 reefs in the complex, only a few dozen are regularly used for tourism, and the total annual fish harvest per square kilometer is less than one per cent of what reefs elsewhere commonly sustain. Solutions appropriate to the problems of heavily impacted reefs are at best uncalled for and may even have undesirable results here.

No-take areas have proven effective where fishing pressure is very high and breeding stocks have been reduced to low levels. Their benefit has not been demonstrated and would not be expected where substantial breeding stock is already widespread as on the Great Barrier Reef. The benefit from closed areas here is undemonstrated and unlikely. Their effect should be monitored and evaluated on an experimental basis before applying them on a large scale. The proposed re-zoning will concentrate fishing pressure by about half as much again in the areas left open. It amounts to wholesale environmental meddling for no good reason and no idea of what the effect will be or even a plan in place to monitor it. Calling this a precautionary measure defies common sense. It is indeed just the opposite.

Threats to the reef from siltation, pesticides, and fertiliser are equally ill-founded. Their extent and detriment are unmeasured and undemonstrated. Their threat is almost entirely assumed and hypothetical. Abundant reason and evidence to the contrary are ignored. Still, threats and problems, no matter how uncertain, receive all the attention; and good news remains no news, regardless of how well founded it may be.

So, what can farmers and fishermen do against the arrayed power of the media, urban voters, politicians, bureaucrats, academics, eco-freaks and self-appointed saviours of the environment? Getting the matter before a court is the only way reason and evidence can prevail, uncertainties be exposed, and answers to questions be demanded. Laws regarding defamation, discrimination, vilification, environmental protection, negligence, and even consumer protection all provide possible grounds for litigation. In the legal arena, the questionable, exaggerated and false claims that are being repeatedly made would be very difficult to defend; and damage, both financial and to reputation, could be shown.

The media readily and often one-sidedly provide prominence and credibility to such claims without the exercise of due diligence or concern. They then purvey such material to consumers as factual "news". This is consumer fraud of a particularly dangerous kind as it not only damages individuals, industries and the economy; it weakens the very foundation of democracy which is an informed electorate. As with any other faulty product, the media should be held liable for damages and subject to penalties if neglect or fraud is apparent. Appropriate consumer protection laws already exist; they need only be applied.

A few such lawsuits against key individuals, organisations and media companies could do wonders for bringing about a fairer, more considered, honest and balanced public debate in place of the one-sided publicising of unsubstantiated claims with little or no opportunity of rebuttal. If a large majority of fishermen and farmers, plus like-minded concerned citizens, contributed only a small amount each to a non-profit association set up for the purpose of demanding honesty in environmental issues, a war chest quite adequate to pursue such legal action would be available with little effort or risk to anyone - anyone, that is, but those so ready and willing to decide for us all, regardless of the evidence or how little they themselves really know.

Above article from Prof. Walter Starck, a reef expert


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


26 August, 2005


Another great Greenie lie that totally ignores history -- Author of the article below, Benny Peiser, is an anthropologist writing within his own special field on this topic so he KNOWS what actually happened on Easter Island. That most accomplished twister of the facts, Jared Diamond, whose account of Easter Island history Peiser takes apart, is a physiologist

By Benny Peiser, Liverpool John Moores University, Faculty of Science Liverpool L3 2ET, UK.( Paper from Energy & Environment, 16:3&4 (2005), pp. 513-539


The 'decline and fall' of Easter Island and its alleged self-destruction has become the poster child of a new environmentalist historiography, a school of thought that goes hand-in-hand with predictions of environmental disaster. Why did this exceptional civilisation crumble? What drove its population to extinction? These are some of the key questions Jared Diamond endeavours to answer in his new book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive. According to Diamond, the people of Easter Island destroyed their forest, degraded the island's topsoil, wiped out their plants and drove their animals to extinction. As a result of this self-inflicted environmental devastation, its complex society collapsed, descending into civil war, cannibalism and self-destruction.

While his theory of ecocide has become almost paradigmatic in environmental circles, a dark and gory secret hangs over the premise of Easter Island's self-destruction: an actual genocide terminated Rapa Nui's indigenous populace and its culture. Diamond, however, ignores and fails to address the true reasons behind Rapa Nui's collapse. Why has he turned the victims of cultural and physical extermination into the perpetrators of their own demise? This paper is a first attempt to address this disquieting quandary. It describes the foundation of Diamond's environmental revisionism and explains why it does not hold up to scientific scrutiny.


Of all the vanished civilisations, no other has evoked as much bafflement, incredulity and conjecture as the Pacific island of Rapa Nui (Easter Island). This tiny patch of land was discovered by European explorers more than three hundred years ago amidst the vast space that is the South Pacific Ocean. Its civilisation attained a level of social complexity that gave rise to one of the most advanced cultures and technological feats of Neolithic societies anywhere in the world. Easter Island's stone-working skills and proficiency were far superior to any other Polynesian culture, as was its unique writing system. This most extraordinary society developed, flourished and persisted for perhaps more than one thousand years - before it collapsed and became all but extinct.

Why did this exceptional civilisation crumble? What drove its population to extinction? These are some of the key questions Jared Diamond endeavours to answer in his new book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive (Diamond, 2005) in a chapter which focuses on Easter Island. Diamond's saga of the decline and fall of Easter Island is straightforward and can be summarised in a few words: Within a few centuries after the island was settled, the people of Easter Island destroyed their forest, degraded the island's topsoil, wiped out their plants and drove their animals to extinction. As a result of this self-inflicted environmental devastation, its complex society collapsed, descending into civil war, cannibalism and self-destruction. When Europeans discovered the island in the 18th century, they found a crashed society and a deprived population of survivors who subsisted among the ruins of a once vibrant civilisation.

Diamond's key line of reasoning is not difficult to grasp: Easter Island's cultural decline and collapse occurred before Europeans set foot on its shores. He spells out in no uncertain terms that the island's downfall was entirely self-inflicted: "It was the islanders themselves who had destroyed their own ancestor's work" (Diamond, 2005).

Lord May, the President of Britain's Royal Society, recently condensed Diamond's theory of environmental suicide in this way: "In a lecture at the Royal Society last week, Jared Diamond drew attention to populations, such as those on Easter Island, who denied they were having a catastrophic impact on the environment and were eventually wiped out, a phenomenon he called 'ecocide'" (May, 2005).

Diamond's theory has been around since the early 1980s. Since then, it has reached a mass audience due to a number of popular books and Diamond's own publications. As a result, the notion of ecological suicide has become the "orthodox model" of Easter Island's demise. "This story of self-induced eco-disaster and consequent self-destruction of a Polynesian island society continues to provide the easy and uncomplicated shorthand for explaining the so-called cultural devolution of Rapa Nui society" (Rainbird, 2002).

The 'decline and fall' of Easter Island and its alleged self-destruction has become the poster child of the new environmentalist historiography, a school of thought that goes hand-in-hand with predictions of environmental disaster. Clive Ponting's The Green History of the World - for many years the main manifest of British eco-pessimism - begins his saga of ecological destruction and social degeneration with "The Lessons of Easter Island" (Ponting, 1992:1ff.). Others view Easter Island as a microcosm of planet Earth and consider the former's bleak fate as symptomatic for what awaits the whole of humanity. Thus, the story of Easter Island's environmental suicide has become the prime case for the gloomiest of grim eco-pessimism.

After more than 30 years of palaeo-environmental research on Easter Island, one of its leading experts comes to an extremely gloomy conclusion: "It seems [...] that ecological sustainability may be an impossible dream. The revised Club of Rome predictions show that it is not very likely that we can put of the crunch by more than a few decades. Most of their models still show economic decline by AD 2100. Easter Island still seems to be a plausible model for Earth Island." (Flenley, 1998:127).

From a political and psychological point of view, this imagery of a complex civilisation self-destructing is overwhelming. It portrays an impression of utter failure that elicits shock and trepidation. It is in form of a shock-tactic when Diamond employs Rapa Nui's tragic end as a dire warning and a moral lesson for humanity today: "Easter [Island's] isolation makes it the clearest example of a society that destroyed itself by overexploiting its own resources. Those are the reasons why people see the collapse of Easter Island society as a metaphor, a worst-case scenario, for what may lie ahead of us in our own future" (Diamond, 2005).

While the theory of ecocide has become almost paradigmatic in environmental circles, a dark and gory secret hangs over the premise of Easter Island's self-destruction: an actual genocide terminated Rapa Nui's indigenous populace and its culture. Diamond ignores, or neglects to address the true reasons behind Rapa Nui's collapse. Other researchers have no doubt that its people, their culture and its environment were destroyed to all intents and purposes by European slave-traders, whalers and colonists - and not by themselves!

After all, the cruelty and systematic kidnapping by European slave-merchants, the near-extermination of the Island's indigenous population and the deliberate destruction of the island's environment has been regarded as "one of the most hideous atrocities committed by white men in the South Seas" (Metraux, 1957:38), "perhaps the most dreadful piece of genocide in Polynesian history" (Bellwood, 1978:363).

So why does Diamond maintain that Easter Island's celebrated culture, famous for its sophisticated architecture and giant stone statues, committed its own environmental suicide? How did the once well-known accounts about the "fatal impact" (Moorehead, 1966) of European disease, slavery and genocide - "the catastrophe that wiped out Easter Island's civilisation" (Metraux, ibid.) - turn into a contemporary parable of self-inflicted ecocide?

In short, why have the victims of cultural and physical extermination been turned into the perpetrators of their own demise? This paper is a first attempt to address this disquieting quandary. It describes the foundation of Diamond's environmental revisionism and explains why it does not hold up to scientific scrutiny.

FULL PAPER here (PDF). For those who still think Diamond has some credibility, note that "Gene Expression" have up a post on Diamond, who currently claims that race is a myth and that there is no genetic difference between the Western European whites who created the modern world and anybody else. All those "dead white males" did so well purely by accident, apparently. The "Gene Expression" post however reprints one of Diamond's scientific papers from the days before he had hopped onto the politically correct bandwagon -- a paper in which Diamond shows important inherited differences between the races! That blogospheric fact-checking sure is pesky for frauds!


Another prominent and respected scientist, Roger Pielke Sr., has resigned from an important government panel citing political bias built into the process of researching climate change. Pielke is also the Colorado state climatologist and professor at Colorado State University. "Just like the Commissars of the old Soviet Union, activists in the scientific community brook no dissent in the ranks," said NCPA Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett. "They suppress findings that are at odds with their dogmatic view of climate science."

Pielke resigned in a letter to the head of the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), citing a recent article in The New York Times as the "last straw." He complained not only that certain aspects of a CCSP report had been leaked to The Times, but also that another committee member was surreptitiously circulating a chapter to replace the one for which Pielke was lead author. Referring to other CCSP members in an entry on his blog, Climate Science, Pielke noted that ".they, inappropriately, vigorously discourage the inclusion of diversity of perspectives on the topic of the CCSP report in order to promote a narrowly focused topic which has a clear political agenda." ( Pielke's resignation follows several other major disputes about the "theology" of climate change:

* Respected hurricane expert, Chris Landsea, resigned from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), charging that its leaders overstated the influence of global warming on hurricanes for political purposes.

* Author and physician Michael Crichton's book, State of Fear, published earlier this year, echoed his Commonwealth Club lecture that environmentalism has become the religion of Western elites.

* In a recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal titled, "The Theology of Global Warming," former Energy Secretary James Schlesinger noted "concerns about objectivity of the international panel (IPCC) of scientists that has led research into climate change."

* John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, who is also co-author of the IPCC report said of a recent dispute about global warming in Science Magazine that the debate about climate change has become more political than scientific.

"It's time for all points of view to get a hearing in academic journals and by peer review. Refusing to acknowledge dissenting views undermines our knowledge base, especially when science is the basis for formulating public policy," Dr. Burnett added.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


25 August, 2005


If anybody knows anything about Siberia, the Russians do and the Russian experts say that the latest scare about Siberia emanating from British Greenies is just a fraud. I pointed out some of the illogic in the original scare on 13th

Last week, the British press (the Guardian, The Times, and The Daily Telegraph) warned of "swamp terrorism" from Siberia. Citing experts, the newspapers claimed that the permafrost covering Siberian swamps is rapidly thawing due to climatic warming. They said that billions of tons of methane could be released into the air causing an ecological disaster.

Academician Vladimir Melnikov spoke to RIA Novosti about the problem. Melnikov is the director of the world's only Institute of the Earth's Cryosphere. The Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute is located in the Siberian city of Tyumen and investigates the ways in which ground water becomes ice and permafrost. "This is just another scare story, this time about the Siberian swamps." This was Melnikov's first reaction when asked by RIA Novosti to comment on claims by The Daily Telegraph that thawing Siberian permafrost could cause an ecological crisis.

Russia is situated in one of the coldest parts of the planet. As much as 60% of its territory is covered with permafrost, which extends to the border with China in the south. "It is, however, a mistake to speak of the Siberian swamps as being all permafrost," he said. "This is not so, because ordinary swamps cover vast areas." Melnikov said that the swamp zone in Western Siberia was growing, but then added, "This ecological structure is balanced and is not about to harm people with gas discharges."

He pointed out an interesting consequence of the growth of the swamp zone: As the water-covered surface increases, it gives off more evaporation, and this process generates cold. "So, in a way, the swamps are compensating for global warming. There is simply no way that all the permafrost will melt," the scientist said.

He also refuted claims that the swamps are rapidly thawing and forming small lakes. "Both scientific findings and experience suggest that small lakes result from irregularities when laying oil and gas pipes and other engineering systems," Melnikov said. "But the scale on which new formations are appearing is small, and they do not pose any threat."

When asked if methane might erupt from the swamps and seriously pollute the atmosphere, Melnikov said, "The swamps are accumulating tremendous amounts of methane. This is an energy reserve for future generations, who will find a way to release it. Swamps are governed by the laws of nature, and we would need an exceptional reason to alter the natural course of things. A rise in temperature of one degree Celsius in the Siberian region in the 20th century cannot cause the permafrost to suddenly melt."

He pointed out that the greatest man-made menace is not methane, but CO2, which is the principal greenhouse gas. "Through ignorance many people talk a lot about the 'methane threat' from the swamps, but say very little about their ability to retain and deposit CO2, thus doing a tremendous service to nature and mankind," he said.

Yuri Izrael, director of the Institute of Climatology and Ecology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, agrees that a catastrophic release of methane from the Siberian swamps is impossible. He says that the whole notion is misconceived. "The boundaries of the Russian permafrost zone remain virtually unchanged. At the same time, the permafrost is several hundred meters deep. For methane, other gases and hydrates to escape to the surface, it would have to melt at tremendous depths, which is impossible.

In Yakutia, for example, the permafrost thaws by up to one and a half meters during summer. This is a normal phenomenon. In the 20th century, the temperature in Siberia rose by one degree Celsius, which was only 0.4 degrees more than in the Mediterranean (which rose by 0.6 degrees Celsius). But even if, as predicted, by the end of the 21st century temperatures have risen by three degrees, this will not be a catastrophe. The swamps are covered in vegetation. Bushes and moss grow above, and peat, which is an excellent insulator, is found below. Only a massive rise in temperature, which is unlikely in the foreseeable future, could alter the situation," Izrael said.

The Russian Academy of Sciences has found that the annual temperature of soils (with seasonable variations) has been remaining stable despite the increased average annual air temperature caused by climate change. If anything, the depth of seasonal melting has decreased slightly. "Unscrupulous scientists are exaggerating and peddling fears about permafrost thawing and swamp methane becoming aggressive," said Professor Nikolai Alexeyevsky, Doctor of Geography and head of the land hydrology department at Moscow State University. "Siberia has vast natural resources, oil and gas above all. The article aims to set public opinion against Western Siberia and discourage investment in its industry, oil and gas. They are saying, 'Swamp methane poses a global threat, so don't touch Siberia.' They are deliberately trying to cause panic."

Alexeyevsky says that permafrost has a natural cycle of change, and that it advanced and retreated in the pre-industrial era as well. "It is likely that the next attack will be on rice paddies in China and India, which also release enormous quantities of methane. And this onslaught will likewise pursue economic and political, rather than environmental, aims: Namely, to reduce the production of rice, which is the staple food of these successfully developing nations," he said. "I would think otherwise if I were not analyzing the trends. The issue is seen from one specific self-interested angle, the aim of which is to discredit methane, as they managed to do in the past with freons and perfectly sound refrigeration freon-based technologies." He then added that corporations spent vast sums pursuing their own agendas, and involved unprincipled individuals in their campaigns.

From RIA Novosti, 22 August 2005

"Peak Oil:" Welcome to the media's new version of shark attacks

Post lifted from the Freakonomics blog

The cover story of the New York Times Sunday Magazine written by Peter Maass is about "Peak Oil." The idea behind "peak oil" is that the world has been on a path of increasing oil production for many years, and now we are about to peak and go into a situation where there are dwindling reserves, leading to triple-digit prices for a barrel of oil, an unparalleled worldwide depression, and as one web page puts it, "Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon."

One might think that doomsday proponents would be chastened by the long history of people of their ilk being wrong: Nostradamus, Malthus, Paul Ehrlich, etc. Clearly they are not.

What most of these doomsday scenarios have gotten wrong is the fundamental idea of economics: people respond to incentives. If the price of a good goes up, people demand less of it, the companies that make it figure out how to make more of it, and everyone tries to figure out how to produce substitutes for it. Add to that the march of technological innovation (like the green revolution, birth control, etc.). The end result: markets figure out how to deal with problems of supply and demand.

Which is exactly the situation with oil right now. I don't know much about world oil reserves. I'm not even necessarily arguing with their facts about how much the output from existing oil fields is going to decline, or that world demand for oil is increasing. But these changes in supply and demand are slow and gradual -- a few percent each year. Markets have a way with dealing with situations like this: prices rise a little bit. That is not a catastrophe, it is a message that some things that used to be worth doing at low oil prices are no longer worth doing. Some people will switch from SUVs to hybrids, for instance. Maybe we'll be willing to build some nuclear power plants, or it will become worth it to put solar panels on more houses.

The NY Times article totally flubs the economics time and again. Here is one example from the article: The author writes:

The consequences of an actual shortfall of supply would be immense. If consumption begins to exceed production by even a small amount, the price of a barrel of oil could soar to triple-digit levels. This, in turn, could bring on a global recession, a result of exorbitant prices for transport fuels and for products that rely on petrochemicals -- which is to say, almost every product on the market. The impact on the American way of life would be profound: cars cannot be propelled by roof-borne windmills. The suburban and exurban lifestyles, hinged to two-car families and constant trips to work, school and Wal-Mart, might become unaffordable or, if gas rationing is imposed, impossible. Carpools would be the least imposing of many inconveniences; the cost of home heating would soar -- assuming, of course, that climate-controlled habitats do not become just a fond memory.

If oil prices rise, consumers of oil will be (a little) worse off. But, we are talking about needing to cut demand by a few percent a year. That doesn't mean putting windmills on cars, it means cutting out a few low value trips. It doesn't mean abandoning North Dakota, it means keeping the thermostat a degree or two cooler in the winter.

A little later, the author writes

The onset of triple-digit prices might seem a blessing for the Saudis -- they would receive greater amounts of money for their increasingly scarce oil. But one popular misunderstanding about the Saudis -- and about OPEC in general -- is that high prices, no matter how high, are to their benefit. Although oil costing more than $60 a barrel hasn't caused a global recession, that could still happen: it can take a while for high prices to have their ruinous impact. And the higher above $60 that prices rise, the more likely a recession will become. High oil prices are inflationary; they raise the cost of virtually everything -- from gasoline to jet fuel to plastics and fertilizers -- and that means people buy less and travel less, which means a drop-off in economic activity. So after a brief windfall for producers, oil prices would slide as recession sets in and once-voracious economies slow down, using less oil. Prices have collapsed before, and not so long ago: in 1998, oil fell to $10 a barrel after an untimely increase in OPEC production and a reduction in demand from Asia, which was suffering through a financial crash.

Oops, there goes the whole peak oil argument. When the price rises, demand falls, and oil prices slide. What happened to the "end of the world as we know it?" Now we are back to $10 a barrel oil. Without realizing it, the author just invoked basic economics to invalidate the entire premise of the article!

Just for good measure, he goes on to write:

High prices can have another unfortunate effect for producers. When crude costs $10 a barrel or even $30 a barrel, alternative fuels are prohibitively expensive. For example, Canada has vast amounts of tar sands that can be rendered into heavy oil, but the cost of doing so is quite high. Yet those tar sands and other alternatives, like bioethanol, hydrogen fuel cells and liquid fuel from natural gas or coal, become economically viable as the going rate for a barrel rises past, say, $40 or more, especially if consuming governments choose to offer their own incentives or subsidies. So even if high prices don't cause a recession, the Saudis risk losing market share to rivals into whose nonfundamentalist hands Americans would much prefer to channel their energy dollars.

As he notes, high prices lead people to develop substitutes. Which is exactly why we don't need to panic over peak oil in the first place.

So why do I compare peak oil to shark attacks? It is because shark attacks mostly stay about constant, but fear of them goes up sharply when the media decides to report on them. The same thing, I bet, will now happen with peak oil. I expect tons of copycat journalism stoking the fears of consumers about oil induced catastrophe, even though nothing fundamental has changed in the oil outlook in the last decade.

(For those of you interested in more economic perspectives on peak oil, check out these three posts by Jim Hamilton of econbrowser: here, here, and here. And thanks to Alex from marginalrevolution for pointing me to Hamilton's posts.)


There's no such thing as a happy Greenie

A new plant gene identified by scientists could help to allay fears over the safety of genetically modified crops. Research at the University of Tennessee suggests that the naturally antibiotic-resistant gene from the simple thale cress could provide a strong alternative to the way GM plants are created.

GM plants are usually made with an antibiotic resistance marker obtained from bacteria. Until now, the potential for reverse migration of the resistance marker into bacterial cells has raised safety issues, with fears that eating GM plants could increase human immunity to antibiotics. The research indicates that resistance markers from plants should not lead to reverse migration, due to differences in cell structure and machinery.

The finding was greeted with cautious optimism by critics of GM crops, but Gundula Azeez, policy manager with the Soil Association, said the issue was just one of many concerns.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


24 August, 2005

Cycling puts healthy Londoners on road to early heart disease

Excuse me while I laugh at all the "ecologically responsible" Greenie cyclists! Wicked of me, I know

Cyclists may be doing themselves more harm than good by pedalling to the office along congested roads, according to pioneering research by the British Heart Foundation. Tests showed that after just one hour of cycling in traffic, the microscopic particles carried in diesel fumes caused significant damage to blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease. Those cycling at high speeds in the hope of improving their fitness levels are doing themselves the most damage, by breathing in a higher volume of the polluted air.

The system of locating most cycle paths within bus lanes has the perverse effect of forcing cyclists to inhale the most dangerous air, spewed out by diesel-powered buses and taxis. The number of diesel-engine cars in Britain grew from 1.6million to 5million between 1994 and last year.

The health warning will dismay the many commuters who have switched to bicycles to improve their fitness, to avoid high fuel prices or, in London, because they fear another terrorist attack on public transport. Cycling is on the increase. In London it is up by 25per cent in the past year, according to cycling charity CTC, and Transport for London has reported an extra 50,000 bike journeys a week since the July 7 bombs.

There is no dispute in principle about the health benefits of cycling -- it improves the circulation, keeps weight down and boosts fitness -- yet the new research indicates they could be outweighed by the polluted conditions of a busy road. "Cycling through congested traffic exposes the cyclist to high levels of air pollution, especially as the exercise of cycling increases breathing and the individual's exposure," said David Newby, British Heart Foundation senior lecturer in cardiology at Edinburgh University. "This is bad for the heart."

He had 15 healthy men cycle on exercise bikes for an hour while being exposed to levels of diluted diesel exhaust comparable to the air they would inhale cycling on a congested city road. Six hours after exposure to the fumes, damage was detected to their blood vessels. They became less flexible and there was a reduction of a protein that breaks down blood clots in the heart. This is associated with the early stages of heart disease.

More here

Government Polluters

The main sources of pollution are not industry but bodies that various levels of government control, directly or indirectly

Since 1987, thousands of American companies have been legally required to submit annual reports of their chemical releases to the air, land and water. These reports are mandated under the popular and quite successful "right-to-know" program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, authorized by the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-know Act (EPCRA) of 1986. Environmental activist groups and journalists routinely use this information-which is available on the web-when reporting on (or bashing) those "corporate polluters" that many people love to hate.

But there are some gaping holes in this program, which is approaching its second decade of existence. Not surprisingly, the exemptions are exclusively for the government and its close allies, namely, municipal sewage systems, the highly socialized farming industry and the government-regulated energy business.

There seems to be a pattern, not to mention a conflict of interest. EPA and its political supporters force private industry to report embarrassing right-to-know information each year. Then they proceed to flaunt those reports in public, denouncing the actions of "reckless" corporations as they demand more restrictions. On top of the tens of billions spent each year for environmental compliance, corporate Americans can now expect to face six-figure fines or prison sentences for running their businesses before completing voluminous permit applications, for discharging air or water with chemical levels a few parts per million above arbitrary limits, or for failing to properly incriminate themselves on the latter.

Meanwhile, similar or worse behavior from the public sector is allowed to proceed in secrecy, and in many cases gets supported by public tax dollars. The current state of affairs begs the question: Are EPA and its green allies more anti-pollution or anti-industry? But even more offensive than the gross double-standards are the staggering amounts of unreported pollution spewed out from these stealth sources. The groups exempted from reporting happen to be some of the worst polluters in the country.

Power plants emit millions of tons of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and smog-causing volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides each year. EPA collectively attributes these emissions to thousands of premature deaths and many more cases of respiratory problems annually in the U.S. While the agency has used its broad powers to more than double the list of reportable chemicals from 320 initially to about 650 today, these major pollutants are all somehow exempt from RTK reporting.

EPA figures that combined storm-and-sanitary sewers (found in older cities) annually discharge 850 billion gallons of untreated sewage and storm water-equivalent to 13 days of flow from Niagara Falls . Dedicated sanitary sewer lines-full of toilet water, ground-up food, and everything else flushed down the drain-overflow another 23,000 to 75,000 times each year; due to poor reporting, EPA isn't sure what the real number is. That torrent of filth leads to thousands of U.S. beach closings and ruined vacations, and somewhere around 500,000 to one million illnesses each year, as EPA quietly estimates. EPA figures that "Americans take a total of 910 million trips to coastal areas each year and spend about $44 billion at those beach locations," despite the frequent problems.

Farm pollution is probably the most serious legitimate environmental problem facing America today (notwithstanding many illegitimate scare topics advanced by environmentalists). The EPA's biennial National Water Quality Inventory cites farming as causing more miles of river pollution and more acres of lake contamination than all other industry combined. According to the U.S. Geological Survey and state agencies, runoff from agricultural fertilizers and manure are the leading causes of large "dead" zones in the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay , and create problems in nearly every state from the Florida Everglades to central California . Polluted groundwater and runoff from farming is also responsible for scores of fish kills, including some spectacular displays of millions of rotting carcasses. Thousands of drinking water wells are contaminated with nitrates from fertilizers, often at dangerously high levels.

So these issues of government-related pollution are not a futuristic doomsday theory like global warming-which receives far more media attention. These are real issues that affect millions of Americans right now. But with liberals obsessed with "corporate" pollution and conservatives hostile to green topics, government polluters have gotten a free pass.

Since environmental topics tend to be high on emotion and low on principle, a few basic points need to be stated. If an industrialist or farmer wants to ruin his land with piles of toxic waste, that is (or should be) solely their business. But once these parties start discharging their mess onto other people's land (as both groups often do) causing measurable harm, then they are reducing the value of neighboring property and may be adversely affecting public health. In this instance, the government has a valid cause to step in.

And RTK reporting is a very useful tool in protecting the property values and health of those who live downwind or downstream from polluters. EPA has called RTK reporting under the EPCRA law "one of the most powerful forces in empowering the Federal government, state governments, industry, environmental groups, and the general public, to fully participate in an informed dialogue about the environmental impacts of toxic chemicals in the United States ." Environmental groups also rave about this program.

Under the 1986 EPCRA law, a separate "toxic release inventory" report is required for any of the now roughly 650 listed chemicals that an industry "uses" in a quantity of at least five tons or "processes or manufactures" of at least 12.5 tons; a few chemicals like lead, mercury and dioxin have much lower reporting thresholds. These public reports, which are five pages per chemical, are required even if a company-due to well run operations or the installation of expensive pollution controls-has no actual releases at all.

Leaving the worst for last, let's go back to power plants, and consider their level of government control. At American power companies, various state and federal agencies have final authority over everything from initial site location to types of technology and fuels selected to the complex formulas that determine rate pricing-and that's just for the "private" companies. The nation's largest power supplier-with 59 generating units fired by mega-polluting coal and another 79 that burn oil or natural gas-is the Tennessee Valley Authority, which is owned and operated by the federal government. Overall, the government position appears to be: we're in control, that's all the public needs to know.

As a result, about 99 percent of power plant emissions are exempt from RTK reporting. Although the EPA has required electric utilities to report on trace impurities like lead, mercury, and various acid vapors, the vast majority of pollutants that cause widespread smog and haze problems-affecting millions of urban citizens and visitors to national parks-are left out. Those omitted emissions-combustion byproducts such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter-are most definitely "toxic," which is the criteria for RTK listing, since EPA claims these chemicals are killing people by the thousands. While power plants must comply with many other eco-standards, reports on annual emission levels are buried in disperse regulatory archives, virtually inaccessible to the general public. This was also a leading complaint against industrial pollution before the RTK law.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation had over 24,800 days of beach closings and advisories against swimming during 2004, as reported on surveys of beach operators. The leading cause of U.S. beach closings, according to NRDC and EPA, is pollution stemming from mismanagement of sewage handling systems and urban storm water runoff. Both waste streams carry pollutants like heavy metals, gasoline, and nitrates that already appear on EPA's list of RTK chemicals, and many other nasties that should be included like disease-causing bacteria and oxygen depleting chemicals.

Sewage treatment plants and storm water collection systems are almost always run by local governments, with partial funding and sporadic oversight typically kicked in from the state and federal level. But EPA's role of independent oversight is compromised by the fact that they have worked to funnel over $100 billion (adjusted for inflation) in federal grant money to help reckless municipalities clean up after their own neglect. So local failures have become federal failures, which result in gentle understanding and excuses. On the rare event that EPA does talk about sewage dumping, their official terms are passive ones like "blending" and "overflow." Aggressive descriptions such as "reckless" and "dumping" are reserved strictly for industrial discharges.

Farm pollution is a profound mess due to decades of political pandering to the farm lobby and the refusal by many farmers to take responsibility for their actions. The main issues begin with the roughly 20 million tons of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium fertilizer injected and sprayed onto the ground each year. By U.S. Department of Agriculture and many other estimates, around one-half or more of those chemicals will bypass their targeted crops and head straight to the nearest ditch or groundwater table, volatilize to the air, or accumulate in the soil. Also important are the 1.4 billion tons of livestock manure produced each year, which is 130 times the amount of human waste generated annually in the U.S. Added to that each year are about 1.1 billion tons of eroded sediment from exposed cropland.

These all leave their mark on nature. Waters loaded with too much nutrients experience excessive weed growth and algae blooms. As the algae decay, oxygen gets depleted from the water, suffocating fish. Bacteria and other disease carrying organisms in animal manure cause illness and sometimes death when contacted from swimming or consumed from tap water. Sediment from erosion smothers aquatic plant life along with shellfish beds and fish eggs. Fertilizers also typically contain nitrates and ammonia, as well as micronutrients zinc, manganese, and copper, which are all on the RTK list; these chemicals are toxic to fish and humans when at elevated levels. EPA data show that pesticides are the least significant source of farm pollution, so these over-hyped chemicals will not receive further attention in this article.

The problem isn't the vast quantities of fertilizer and manure used and soil eroded, but the government's refusal to set any objective limits on the noxious swill that cascades off these materials any time it rains. Instead, the EPA, the USDA and the farming industry all prefer no standards at all (as in most cases), or voluntary guidelines and written reports about internal farming practices that are generally not available to the public and impossible to enforce.

The EPA's most recent biennial inventory of water quality cited farming as causing nearly 129,000 miles of river pollution and 3.2 million acres of lake contamination, based on state data collected in 2000. (EPA is a year behind its normal schedule for issuing the 2002 inventory.) In comparison, all industrial point sources together caused less than 16,000 miles of river pollution (thus not ranking among the top 20 pollution sources), and 466,000 acres of lake contamination. These figures are all for "impairment," which is a pollution level so high that it precludes one or more public uses like drinking, swimming, or fish consumption.

The trend of farm pollution dwarfing industrial pollution of rivers and lakes has been reported by EPA for many years. This is despite rather lenient standards on farm pollutants like nitrates, bacteria and oxygen levels compared to the very strict limits on industrial pollutants like mercury and PCBs, which EPA fails to mention.

The once bountiful Chesapeake Bay is now struggling from nutrient overloads, despite over 20 years of state and federal efforts to fix the problems. During the summer, the Bay Program's website notes, "dissolved oxygen levels can become dangerously low in about half of the Bay's deeper waters-critical habitat for some Bay fish and shellfish species." As of 2002, agriculture was the leading source of the Chesapeake 's main problem of nutrient pollution, contributing 41% of the nitrogen loading and 47% of the phosphorous inputs. In comparison, sewage treatment plants and all industrial sources contributed 21% of nitrogen and 22% of phosphorous loads into the Bay (other sources were forests, urban runoff and septic tanks).

The Mississippi River -with its enormous watershed covering two-fifths of the lower 48 states-is also loaded with farm pollution that is eventually dumped into the Gulf of Mexico . In many recent years the size of the Gulf's dead zone is larger than the state of New Jersey . According to extensive monitoring and analyses by the USGS, the main problem is excessive nitrogen that comes primarily from agriculture, which delivers 755,000 tons per year of it at the Mississippi 's outlet to the Gulf. That amount dwarfs all other natural and man-made sources, which combined for 425,000 tons per year of the pollutant.

On the topic of fish kills, see the NRDC report " America 's Animal Factories," which unfortunately focuses too much on the "factory" feedlots, the main offense of which seems to be earning too much profit. One of the more amusing headlines cited was "Spill's Toll is Limited by Earlier Fish Kill," based on a discharge of almost half a million gallons of hog manure in Iowa .

EPA has done even less on the topic of agricultural air pollution. Based on the limited data available, it is known that significant amounts of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane and other harmful gases are emitted from the rotting piles of animal waste that accompany many livestock operations. It is also known that large quantities of particulate matter are discharged into the air from the 840 million tons per year of wind erosion at farms. But in the 35 years since the Clean Air Act was passed, EPA has done virtually nothing to regulate or even report on this.

Prior to the 2004 election, when questioned about the environmental loopholes for farming, President Bush told Pollution Engineering magazine: "To help States clean up non-point source pollution, I signed a record $40 billion in conservation funding into law as part of the 2002 Farm Bill."

Regulators and lawmakers like to make excuses for farm pollution, citing technical jargon about the alleged difficulties in reducing "non-point" pollution (that is, pollution without a discharge pipe). But landfills, Superfund sites and ground soaked from leaking fuel storage tanks are also classic non-point sources. That flimsy excuse never stopped Congress and EPA from targeting those for infinitely more expensive cleanups.

People should also realize that private sector food processors and fertilizer manufacturers have always been required to file right-to-know reports under this same EPCRA law of 1986. So the EPA and the rest of Washington have no special compassion for the food supply.

To understand the government's passion for making excuses for farm pollution, one needs to realize the major role that Washington has in agribusiness (and has had for over 90 years). The U.S. Department of Agriculture alone has spent over $1.1 trillion (current dollars) just since 1990-quite a remarkable sum considering that many farm programs were sold to the public decades ago as "temporary" and "emergency" relief measures. And the agency has over 110,000 staffers to implement its complex web of programs for subsidized education, cheap loans and insurance, direct price supports for many crops, indirect farm welfare via food stamps and many other services. That hefty USDA price tag doesn't include the ethanol mandates, generous property tax breaks, special exemptions to utilize child labor and immigrants, or the cut-rate water prices granted to agribusiness.

Like no other group, the farming industry is dominated by the District of Columbia 's central planners. With so much federal prestige riding on the pristine image of the "family farmer," no one in Washington wants to publicize embarrassing data on agricultural (and government) neglect-all the more reason for public disclosure.

The addition of electric utilities, municipal sewage systems and socialized farming to the ranks of those required to file annual right-to-know emission reports is the least that should be required of these major polluters. And if Washington refuses to do this, states and counties should step in and take the lead.

There are two main benefits to this proposal, in debatable order of importance. First of all, shining a spotlight on government polluters will help dispel the persistent myth that all pollution comes from industry. This lie, promoted by many activists and public officials, has been used to bully people in the private sector into a state of submission, where very few will dare speak out for their own rights in fear of bad press coverage and government retribution.

Secondly, thanks to the pressures of public disclosure, industrial releases fell by nearly 50 percent in the first ten years of right-to-know reporting. Similar results could probably be achieved for government polluters, if they are ever led out of the closet. With thousand of public beaches too foul to swim in, moderate to severe levels of air pollution in many cities and the widespread impacts of farm pollution, there is much room for improvement.


There's one born every minute: "He went to prison for fraud and was ordered by the U.S. government to stop touting health products on infomercials, but Kevin Trudeau's book "Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You to Know About" is a bestseller. Trudeau, who for years sold snoring remedies and memory enhancers through long-format commercials dressed up as talk shows, says he is a consumer advocate battling the "unholy alliance" of drug companies and government regulators. "It's all about money. The drug industry does not want people to get healthy," he says in a commercial for his book. Trudeau says he has sold about 4 million copies of the book in under a year, a huge amount for a self-published book marketed initially only through the Internet and television infomercials. The book -- whose back cover says "Never get sick again!" and "Learn the specific natural cures for herpes, acid reflux, diabetes ... cancer ... and more!" -- has topped the Publishers Weekly nonfiction bestseller list for the past three weeks"


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


23 August, 2005


"Bringing global warming to an end would cost almost half global GDP - EUR13,000bn - at least, one London analyst has calculated. Charles Dumas of Lombard Street Research says this is many times the cost of dealing with the damaging effects of global warming.

Scientists say the world will continue to heat up for the next 50 years, based on the amount of carbon already in the atmosphere.

Mr Dumas says that actually halting global warming would mean going well beyond even the provisions of the Kyoto Treaty. Global oil consumption would have to be cut by large amounts, and quickly. On the "extremely conservative" assumption that such cuts in oil usage knock 0.5pc off global growth, the cumulative loss over five years would be $16.5 trillion, even if growth resumed its previous trend after the five years.

"It follows from any cost-benefit analysis that nobody is going to do anything serious about global warming," he says. "The cost of any serious measures would be orders of magnitude greater than whatever is needed by way of defences against a 15-foot rise in sea levels and freak weather insurance. "In reality, no-one seriously proposes a cure for global warming, because adequate measures would cause economic catastrophe and probably world war. We are going to have to live with it," Mr Dumas says.

His views will be contested by environmentalists who say continued global warming will be equally catastrophic. But it will add to the heated debate about how much should be done through reducing energy usage, and how much by replacing carbon with nuclear, renewable and new technology sources of energy".

Source. See also here for full report.


The atmospheric data STILL contradict the global warmers' "models". Article by Steven Milloy on August 19, 2005, FoxNews

Is the debate now over for skeptics of global warming hysteria? Readers of USA Today may certainly have that impression. "Satellite and weather-balloon research released today removes a last bastion of scientific doubt about global warming, researchers say," reported USA Today on Aug.12.

Certainly the USA Today report was partially correct - the researchers did, in fact, "say" [read "claim"] that "the last bastion of scientific doubt" had been removed. But claims and reality often don't match up. Three papers published in the journal Science last week purport to debunk an important argument advanced by skeptics of the notion of catastrophic, manmade global warming. The skeptics' argument is that while temperatures measured on the Earth's surface seem to indicate that global temperatures have increased at a rate of about 0.20 degrees Centigrade per decade (deg. C/decade) since the 1970s, temperatures measured in the atmosphere by satellite and weather balloons have shown only a relatively insignificant amount of warming for the same time period (about 0.09 deg. C/decade).

The implication of the skeptics' argument is that whatever warming seems to be happening on the Earth's surface, similar warming isn't happening in the atmosphere. This might mean that any observed surface warming is more likely due to the urban heat island effect -- where the heat-retaining properties of concrete and asphalt in urban areas artificially increase local temperatures -- rather than increasing atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

One of the new Science studies reported that the satellites had drifted in orbit, causing errors in temperature measurement. Corrections to the satellite data, according to the researchers, would increase the atmospheric warming estimate to 0.19 deg. C/decade -- more in line with the 0.20 deg. C/decade warming of the Earth's surface. Another study reported that heating from tropical sunlight had skewed the balloon temperature measurements. Ben Santer of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, one of the studies' authors, told USA Today that, "Once corrected, the satellite and balloon temperatures align with other surface and upper atmosphere measures, as well as climate change models."

So is it really game-set-match in favor of the global warming alarmists? Not so fast, say the skeptics. When University of Alabama-Huntsville researcher Roy Spencer, a prominent climatologist, factored the newly reported corrections into his calculations, his estimate of atmospheric warming was only 0.12 deg. C/decade -- higher than the prior estimate of 0.09 deg. C/decade, but well below the Science study estimate of 0.19 deg C/decade and the surface temperature estimate of 0.20 deg. C/decade.

As to the claimed errors in the weather balloon measurements, Spencer says that no other effort to adjust the balloon data has produced warming estimates as high as those reported in the new study and that it will take time for the research community to form opinions about whether the new adjustments advocated are justified.

Climate expert Dr. Fred Singer of the Science and Environmental Policy Project says the temperature adjustments are "not a big deal." "Greenhouse theory says (and the models calculate) that the atmospheric trend should be 30 percent greater than the surface trend -- and it isn't," says Singer. "Furthermore, the models predict that polar [temperature] trends should greatly exceed the tropical values -- and they clearly don't ... In fact, the Antarctic has been cooling," adds Singer.

Singer also had some related thoughts concerning the gloom-and-doom forecasts concerning future temperatures. Last January, a study in the journal Nature estimated that a doubling of atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide would increase global temperatures anywhere from 1.9 degrees Centigrade to 11.5 degrees Centigrade by mid-century. But Singer says the researchers "varied only six out of many more parameters necessary to model clouds... Their result confirms... that clouds are still too difficult to model and that climate models underlying the Kyoto Protocol have never been validated."

So it's far from "case-closed" on global warming skepticism. Moreover, aside from the controversy over the satellite and weather balloon data, many key climate questions remain unanswered including: whether humans are causing significant warming; whether warming is undesirable; and whether anything be done to avert any undesirable warming.

Because of its prohibitive costs, alarm over global warming has been rejected numerous times by President Bush and the U.S. Senate. European nations are already discovering that their economies can't live with the Kyoto Protocol that was just implemented in February.

Despite alarmist media reports, global warming-mania is melting. It's no wonder the alarmists are in such a hurry to close the book on the science.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


22 August, 2005


Elsner, J.B., Liu, K.-B. and Kocher, B. 2000. Spatial variations in major U.S. hurricane activity: Statistics and a physical mechanism. Journal of Climate 13: 2293-2305.

What was done:
The authors provide a statistical and physical basis for understanding regional variations in major hurricane activity along the U.S. coastline on long timescales; and in doing so, they present data on major hurricane occurrences in 50-year intervals for Bermuda, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.

What was learned:
Hurricanes occurred at far lower frequencies in the last half of the 20th century than they did in the preceding five 50-year periods at the three locations studied. From 1701 to 1850, for example, when the earth was locked in the grip of the Little Ice Age, major hurricane frequency was 2.77 times greater at Bermuda, Jamaica and Puerto Rico than it was from 1951 to 1998; and from 1851 to 1950, when the planet was in transition from Little Ice Age to current conditions, these three locations experienced a mean hurricane frequency that was 2.15 times greater than what was characteristic of 1951 to 1998.

What it means:
If the frequency of occurrence of major hurricanes along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. and the Gulf coast states is related to global warming, it is clear from these real-world data that rising temperatures tend to reduce the occurrence of major hurricanes in this region of the Atlantic rather than increase them, which is just the opposite of what is often claimed by those who blithely state that global warming will bring the United States more devastating storms of this nature.

CO2 Science Magazine, 23 August 2000

Hurricane activity varies all the time

Tad Murty REALLY sets the record straight -- commenting on a Greenie article

I just now returned from Mexico City to my city of residence, Ottawa, Canada after spending three days at an international conference sponsored by the United Nations on developing early warning systems for cyclone generated storm surges and tsunamis generated by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

At this conference I represented the Royal Society of Canada, which is among the foremost scientific societies in the world. I noted the article on your web site about the possible increase in hurricanes due to human anthropogenic activities. I would like to state a few observational facts, which can be easily verified and here I am not using any computer model projections. Undoubtedly the most impacted region on the globe by tropical storms is South Asia in terms of socio-economic perspective.

In the 20th century the total number of cyclones here are about half of those in the 19th century. Even in the Atlantic and Caribbean, the storm activity is nothing unusual. There were times earlier when there were more hurricanes than now. The hurricane activity is not static, it varies all the time, but what is happening now is with in the normal range of variation. If indeed human anthropogenic activities are increasing the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, it is not at all obvious in the observational records (the only place where it is obvious are unrealistic computer model simulations).

If the hypothesis in your article is correct, then each year there should be more hurricanes than in the previous year, that is a monotonic increase, which certainly is not happening. I examined some twenty different atmospheric and oceanographic parameters associated with hurricanes on the globe using all available historical data I could find up to December 31st 2004.

Not a single record was set after October 1979. In other words, as far as global hurricane activity is concerned, there has been no record set in the past 25 years. I ask you sir, if indeed hurricane activity is increasing globally due to human anthropogenic activity, please show me the observational data to support it.

Please do not quote my computer model results, I have been involved with them for the past 45 years, and I can show you whatever you want, if you want I can produce global warming, on the other hand, if you want an ice age, I can produce that too, with a very slight tweaking of one single parameter (low cloud amount) in the model.

What are my credentials to make these statements? I have a PH.D. in Meteorology and Oceanography from the University of Chicago, USA. I worked as a senior research scientist with the Canadian Oceanographic Service for 27 years and I did the official climate change review for the service for the Pacific and Arctic coasts of Canada. I was the director of Australia’s National Tidal Facility for three years. Now I am an Adjunct Professor in the University of Ottawa, Canada. I am also the editor of the international scientific journal Natural Hazards published by Springer in Germany and Netherlands.

In the more than 1,800 scientific manuscripts that passed through the editorial desk in the past and until now, not a single manuscript based upon actual observations ever claimed that human anthropogenic activities have anything to do with the ever increasing economic impact of natural hazards such as hurricanes. No one doubts that the economic impact is increasing all the time, not because the hurricane frequency or intensity is increasing, but because the population is increasing and the coastal infrastructure is increasing. For example, the coastal infrastructure worldwide has increased some 13.5 fold between the 19th and 20th centuries.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


21 August, 2005


From Canada's "The Globe and Mail" of 16 August 2005. Story by Margaret Wente

One stiflingly hot day last week, I chatted on the phone with veteran weather scientist Madhav Khandekar. I wanted to know if we should be blaming global warming for the heat. (As it happened, he was vacationing in Calgary, where it's been unseasonably cold.) He laughed, and reminded me that, this time last year, Ontarians were griping about the cold. There was even snow in Winnipeg. Environment Canada, which had been predicting a hot summer, blew it so badly that climatologist David Phillips (a big global-warming guy) was moved to apologize. "We've never been so wrong, for so long, for so much of the country."

Dr. Khandekar has spent his whole life in meteorology, including extended stints with the United Nations and Environment Canada. He is not part of the "scientific consensus" on global warming, the one that's alleged to be so overwhelming that people who question it might as well belong to the Flat Earth Society.

The consensus is a myth. Hundreds of scientists around the world think the jury is still out on many fundamental issues relating to climate change. Hundreds of peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals have questioned the link between human activity and global warming. But, because the authors don't offer up scare stories about melting ice caps and disappearing species, they don't make headlines. "I'm not saying I'm right and they're wrong," says Dr. Khandekar. "I only say there are uncertainties."

He'd like the Canadian Meteorological Society to hold an open debate, with top scientists from both sides. So far, no dice. Dr. Khandekar thinks the science of global warming is much more complicated than it's made out to be. He suspects greenhouse gases may play only a bit part. Solar variability may be far more important. And the biggest influence of human activity on the climate may well be urbanization and land-use change (which raises local surface temperatures).

As for the link between global warming and extreme weather, he argues it's unproven. (His new paper, The Global Warming Debate, written with two others, appears in this month's issue of Pure and Applied Geophysics.)

But wait. Wasn't there a piece by two scientists on this very page last week arguing that the heat in Toronto, the floods in Manitoba, the thunderstorms in Nunavut and the pine beetles in B.C. are all an indication of "things to come because of global warming"?

"A couple of years ago, some scientists blamed the drought in Alberta on global warming," says Dr. Khandekar. "This year, the weather in Alberta was monsoon-like." What he thinks we need is more research on short-range seasonal forecasting. "Prairie farmers would like to know in March what the weather is going to be. They don't worry too much about whether it's going to be warm or cold in 2015."

But, these days, the research money flows to people who believe that global warming is a major threat to humankind. Most Canadians seem to agree. According to a recent poll, 56 per cent of us think global warming explains this year's summer heat. Seventy-seven per cent think we're already suffering the impact of manmade climate change, and 86 per cent support Kyoto - even though there is zero chance that the Kyoto treaty will be implemented or that Canada can make a difference.

"The U.S., China and India have signed their own pact," Dr. Khandekar points out. "These three countries produce about 45 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions. Canada produces about 2.5 per cent. How can removing a few tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere change the global climate?"

I'm not surprised that so many support Kyoto. It's a way of saying we care about the environment. Besides, it hasn't cost us any pain - yet. For the government, Kyoto is a big political winner.

And for many climatologists, well, this summer's heat is a big relief. "In many ways, it is a preview, a dress rehearsal, of what we may see more often," said Environment Canada's David Phillips, who seems decidedly relieved that things have heated up again.

In fact, it was hotter than this in 1955. But nobody will get a research grant for saying that.

Climate change sceptics bet $10,000 on cooler world

Russian pair challenge UK expert over global warming

Two climate change sceptics, who believe the dangers of global warming are overstated, have put their money where their mouth is and bet $10,000 that the planet will cool over the next decade. The Russian solar physicists Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev have agreed the wager with a British climate expert, James Annan. The pair, based in Irkutsk, at the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics, believe that global temperatures are driven more by changes in the sun's activity than by the emission of greenhouse gases. They say the Earth warms and cools in response to changes in the number and size of sunspots. Most mainstream scientists dismiss the idea, but as the sun is expected to enter a less active phase over the next few decades the Russian duo are confident they will see a drop in global temperatures.

Dr Annan, who works on the Japanese Earth Simulator supercomputer, in Yokohama, said: "There isn't much money in climate science and I'm still looking for that gold watch at retirement. A pay-off would be a nice top-up to my pension."

To decide who wins the bet, the scientists have agreed to compare the average global surface temperature recorded by a US climate centre between 1998 and 2003, with temperatures they will record between 2012 and 2017. If the temperature drops Dr Annan will stump up the $10,000 (now equivalent to about £5,800) in 2018. If the Earth continues to warm, the money will go the other way. The bet is the latest in an increasingly popular field of scientific wagers, and comes after a string of climate change sceptics have refused challenges to back their controversial ideas with cash. Dr Annan first challenged Richard Lindzen, a meteorologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is dubious about the extent of human activity influencing the climate. Professor Lindzen had been willing to bet that global temperatures would drop over the next 20 years. No bet was agreed on that; Dr Annan said Prof Lindzen wanted odds of 50-1 against falling temperatures, so would win $10,000 if the Earth cooled but pay out only £200 if it warmed. Seven other prominent climate change sceptics also failed to agree betting terms.

In May, during BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the environmental activist and Guardian columnist George Monbiot challenged Myron Ebell, a climate sceptic at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in Washington DC, to a £5,000 bet. Mr Ebell declined, saying he had four children to put through university and did not want to take risks.

Most climate change sceptics dispute the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which suggest that human activity will drive global temperatures up by between 1.4C and 5.8C by the end of the century. Others, such as the Danish economist Bjorn Lomborg, argue that, although global warming is real, there is little we can do to prevent it and that we would be better off trying to adapt to living in an altered climate.

Dr Annan said bets like the one he made with the Russian sceptics are one way to confront the ideas. He also suggests setting up a financial-style futures market to allow those with critical stakes in the outcome of climate change to gamble on predictions and hedge against future risk. "Betting on sea level rise would have a very real relevance to Pacific islanders," he said. "By betting on rapid sea-level rise, they would either be able to stay in their homes at the cost of losing the bet if sea level rise was slow, or would win the bet and have money to pay for sea defences or relocation if sea level rise was rapid." Similar agricultural commodity markets already allow farmers to hedge against bad weather that ruins harvests.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


20 August, 2005


Given the recent claims that hurricanes are getting dramatically worse because of global warming, it's too bad we've already exhausted the letter "G" for this hurricane season. "Gasbag" would have been a pretty good moniker for the next storm. In case you've missed the hype, MIT's Kerry Emanuel has a paper in the online version of Nature magazine saying that hurricanes are becoming dramatically more powerful as a result of global warming.

Merely venturing into the discussion of hurricanes and global warming is more dangerous than most tropical cyclones. About Emanuel's article, William Gray of Colorado State University-the guy who issues the annual hurricane forecast that grabs headlines every summer-told the Boston Globe, "It's a terrible paper, one of the worst I've ever looked at."

There's also nastiness if you say hurricanes aren't getting worse. A month ago, University of Colorado's Roger Pielke, Jr., posted a paper that was accepted in the Bulletin of The American Meteorological Society concluding there is little if any sign of global warming in hurricane patterns. In a pre-emptive strike, Kevin Trenberth from the federally funded National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, told the local newspaper, "I think he [Pielke] should withdraw his article. This is a shameful article."

Six months earlier, Christopher Landsea of the National Hurricane Research Laboratory, another federal entity, quit the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Landsea is probably the world's most respected hurricane scientist. He was furious that Rajenda Pauchari, director of the panel, condoned Trenberth's statements that hurricanes were worsening because of global warming.

What is going on here? Nothing unusual. Behavior like this takes place every day at faculty meetings across academia. But global warming and hurricanes are hot topics right now, so the bickering spills over into the press. What is unusual is the especially shoddy nature of the current scientific review process on global warming papers.

Consider the recent Nature article. If hurricanes had doubled in power in the last few decades as Emanuel claims, the change would be obvious; you wouldn't need a weatherman to know which way this wind was blowing. All of these feuding scientists would have agreed on the facts long ago.

Damages caused by doubling the strength of hurricanes would be massive and increasing dramatically. Figures on this are pretty easy to come by, at least in the United States. The insured value of property from Brownsville, Texas to Eastport, Maine-our hurricane prone Atlantic Coast-is greater than a year of our Gross Domestic Product. If hurricanes had actually doubled in power, the losses in the insurance industry would be catastrophic.

Pielke has studied this, and his work is well known. Hurricanes are causing greater dollar damages because more and more people are building increasingly expensive beachfront monstrosities that have financially appreciated during the recent real-estate bubble. Account for these and there is no significant change in hurricane expenses along our coast. Illinois climatologist Stanley Changnon has also studied this for non-hurricane weather damage over the entire country with similar results.

Pielke told me that, "analysis of hurricane damage over the past century shows no trend in hurricane destructiveness, once the data are adjusted to account for the dramatic growth along the nation's coasts."

You would think that reviewers of Emanuel's paper at Nature would have thought to ask whether, in fact, there was evidence for increasingly powerful storms. But they didn't. There is just no incentive in the scientific community to kill the remarkably fertile global warming goose, a beast that feeds on public fears.

The federal outlay on climate research is now $4.2 billion per year, roughly the same amount given to the National Cancer Institute. The climate research community sees a grave threat when research shows there's no threat from the climate. So papers that hawk climate disaster get superficial reviews and uncritical headlines, while those that argue otherwise are "shameful."



New adjustments still show negligible warming in Earth's atmosphere

New satellite and weather-balloon research released last week gives climate scientists better data to work with, but contrary to some reports does not eliminate doubts about dramatic global warming, said Dr. John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

For more than 15 years, Christy and UAH research scientist Dr. Roy Spencer have studied satellite data about temperatures on Earth and in the atmosphere. The numbers didn't always match readings taken by weather balloons, particularly those launched in tropical areas.

That inconsistency - cited by skeptics as evidence that global warming theories are unproved - has been explained in research by Carl Mears and Frank Wentz of Remote Sensing Systems in Santa Rosa, Calif. They found the satellites' orbits drift, throwing off the timing of the daily series of air temperature measurements and causing them to be slightly cooler than the balloon readings.

Christy and Spencer were aware of that research and created formulas to apply to satellite data they've gathered over 26 years, from December 1978 through July 2005. "We've already done all the corrections," Christy said Friday. "The error that was found was actually very minor."

The corrected data put the average rate of global warming at about 2.21 degrees Fahrenheit per century instead of the 1.58 degrees the UAH researchers had previously calculated. Christy said that is still a much more modest rate than proposed by many advocates of global warming theories.

He says that although there is some warming, the temperature data he studies do not support the case that human activity is causing Earth temperatures to rise at a dangerous rate that could cause a variety of problems, including melting the polar ice caps and a rise in ocean levels that threatens coastal areas.

The new information doesn't change his mind. "We've long held that there is, very likely, a human imprint on the climate system," Christy said. "We're adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere" and doing other things to the planet, including deforestation and urbanization, that could drive up temperatures. "It is fairly obvious that some portion of this warming is probably due to human influences," Spencer said in a statement. "What isn't clear is how much, or which influences."

Three studies released Thursday by the online version of the journal Science dealt with corrected temperature data from weather balloons and satellites used in a variety of computer climate models from around the world. All three conclude that the atmosphere - and the lowest layer, the troposphere, in particular - is warming more than was previously thought. "We hope that these three papers together will advance the debate if not end it," said atmospheric scientist Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in a story for Knight Ridder News Service.

Christy was co-author of a major United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and serves as Alabama's official chief meteorologist. His position as a respected scientist who believes concerns about global warming are overblown has often put him in the spotlight: He's been the subject of a profile in Discover magazine and is regularly sought for comment by national and international reporters.

He said Friday that the scientific community is not of one mind about the extent of global warming, and that the corrected temperature data are not enough to change that. He contends the debate has become more political than scientific, and that it keeps us from paying attention to greater environmental problems, such as the need for clean water and the loss of forest and wildlife habitat as the Third World clears trees for fuel and grazing. Spencer "and I would argue that the political debate over climate issues should always be driven by the data, not the other way around," Christy said.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


19 August, 2005


Estuarine and saltwater crocodiles are found in coastal streams and estuaries in Australia north of the Tropic of Capricorn, with the greatest populations in Cape York, the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Northern Territory. The reptiles were hunted so heavily until the 1960s for their skins that their numbers were heavily depleted, but estimates now put crocodile populations in Australia at several tens of thousands.

Commercial harvesting of wild crocodiles in Queensland ended in 1972 and numbers have increased enormously since then. As far back as 1986, the then National Party environment minister Martin Tenni, who was something of a loose cannon, announced numbers had increased to such an extent close to populated areas of north Queensland that crocodiles needed to be culled. He released studies showing 237 crocodiles of at least 1.8m had been counted in a survey of rivers between Port Douglas and Tully in north Queensland, with 60 in the Daintree River, where local woman Beryl Wruck had been taken by a monster croc the previous month. Conservationists were horrified, but locals knew Tenni was telling the truth.

Tuesday's tragedy, which claimed the life of Townsville railway shunter Barry Jeffries, was the 14th crocodile attack in Queensland in the past decade. Four of the attacks involved fatalities. Jeffries and his wife, Glenda, were doing what they had done for years -- fishing from a canoe at Lakefield National Park -- when a croc grabbed Jeffries's arm as he tried to fend it off with a paddle.

The warning signs have been around for years. Guivarra says croc numbers have exploded in far-north rivers and creeks. "Each year the primary industries department does a count in Tentpole Creek, north of Mapoon, which is a well-known breeding area for crocs," he says. "Recently they did one sweep at night along 8km and counted more than 500 sets of eyes. That's a lot and absolute evidence that culling is now needed. "Our children swim in the waterways even though they are told not to do so and it is only a matter of time before one gets taken. When we see a [croc] hanging around Mapoon for more than a day, we chase it with boats. If it does not move on, we get serious. "If you ring the wildlife people, they come and trap it, and it takes several days, and there is an invasion of the privacy of the community, and it costs thousands of dollars. Compare that with the 80c it costs for a .308 bullet, if you catch my drift."

Guivarra, like many other leaders in Aboriginal communities, has long been lobbying the Queensland Government to allow local and overseas trophy hunters, through a permit system, to take a limited number of larger crocs. Hunters from Europe and the US would be willing to pay up to $20,000 for the privilege. "It would help us keep the numbers in check and provide another employment-generating business in Aboriginal communities," Guivarra says. "But, as usual, there is paralysis in government ranks when something positive is suggested for Aboriginal people. There is always a reason not to do it and in this case it is because they are frightened of the environment lobby. Is it going to take another dozen tourists being taken to get some positive action?"

Aborigines are allowed to kill crocodiles for their own consumption, a right that was spelled out by the High Court in October 1999 when Gulf of Carpentaria activist Murrandoo Yanner challenged a court conviction for killing and eating a croc. Yanner has been a strong advocate for the limited commercial hunting of crocs, but has come up against bureaucratic opposition. "We kill them and eat them, and nobody gets anything out of it," he says. "Why can't blackfellows make an industry of this?" The High Court decision acknowledged that hunting, gathering and fishing rights for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders were part and parcel of native title.

The injuries inflicted on people by crocodile attacks are horrific. A large croc will grab a person in its powerful jaws, go back into the water and start to roll, drowning its prey. The most recent attack before Tuesday's tragedy occurred close to the same locality: at Bathurst Bay, where three Brisbane families were camping more than 100m from the water's edge last October. Diane and Andrew Kerr and their three-month-old baby were sleeping in a tent when they were woken by a noise. A 4.2m crocodile grabbed Andrew by the leg. He yelled to his wife, "Get the baby!" Diane could only watch in fear and horror as her husband was dragged away.

Alicia Sorohan, a 60-year-old grandmother who was in the neighbouring tent with her husband, heard the screams. She jumped on the croc's head, causing it to release Andrew, but it grabbed her arm instead. Sorohan's son Jason grabbed a rifle and shot the crocodile in the head. The croc was estimated to be 50 years old. Its victims, although seriously injured, survived.

On December 22, 2003, three men who were riding their quad bikes near the Finniss River in the Northern Territory decided to go for a swim. Brett Mann, 22, was carried down the river on the tide and his two companions watched in horror as a 4m crocodile attacked and killed him. The two survivors spent 22 hours in a tree with the crocodile circling around, until they were winched to safety by a police helicopter the following day.

In the main street of the gulf township of Normanton is a fibreglass replica of a crocodile shot in 1958 by Krystina Pawloski, a teacher who found the animal on a sandbank near the school. It measures nearly 9m and a large man can easily fit in its mouth. Its teeth are the size of milk bottles. While governments sit on their hands and make consoling sounds every time someone is killed in a croc attack, nothing changes. As Guivarra says: How many deaths will it take before some sensible measures are adopted to control the numbers of these animals in our river systems?

More here


Excerpts below from Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology Article in Press, 2005

Climate shift at 4400 years BP: Evidence from high-resolution diatom stratigraphy, Effingham Inlet, British Columbia, Canada

By: Alice S. Chang, and R. Timothy Patterson Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1S 5B6


Diatom paleoecology and climatic interpretations were assessed from a 15-cm long laminated sediment slab extracted from an anoxic fjord in southwest British Columbia. The slab spans at least 62 years of deposition, determined from counting varves, and is dated at approximately 4400 years BP. The slab shows a sedimentation pattern where thick diatom-rich varves at the bottom become thinner and more silty toward the top. Thin section analysis reveals that the thicker varves contain a distinct succession of diatoms, representing seasonal deposition throughout each year. Annual-scale subsampling shows that the abundance of coastal marine diatoms, namely a weakly silicified form of Skeletonema costatum, decreased over the 62-year period, while benthic and brackish water diatoms, such as Planothidium delicatulum and Achnanthes minutissima, increased with the concomitant increase in silt. The increase in such benthic species and silt, along with the presence of 1 cm thick nonlaminated intervals, is interpreted to represent deposition during progressively increasing precipitation over time. These sedimentation patterns and changes in diatom assemblages may signify a change in the relative intensities of the Aleutian Low (AL) and North Pacific High (NPH) atmospheric pressure systems. Thicker diatomaceous varves at the bottom of the slab reflect a stronger NPH system with associated coastal upwelling and enhanced diatom production. The thinner silty varves at the top of the slab suggest that the AL system was prevalent, resulting in greater amounts of precipitation and reduced upwelling. The findings of this study show that significant natural environmental change can occur within a twenty-year time frame, and can provide a basis for the study of modern change in the ocean-atmosphere system over the northeast Pacific Ocean.

1. Introduction

Assessing modern climate and environmental change is of utmost importance as society becomes increasingly aware of the sensitive balance in natural systems. In the 21st century, understanding the causal factors involved in rapid (decadal to bidecadal) change can be challenging because anthropogenic and natural signals need to be differentiated. Although instrumental records exist for the last 150 years and can be compared to contemporary sediments to determine the relationship between climate, primary production and depositional patterns, these modern sediment records can be tainted from the effects of industrialization. Hence, older sediments from the pre-industrial era must be used to provide a natural baseline. Large-scale ocean-atmosphere oscillations such as the El Ni¤o-Southern Oscillation, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (Mantua et al., 1997) and the 50-70 year oscillation (Minobe, 1999) can have a profound influence on climate over the northeast Pacific Ocean and biological production off the coast of British Columbia. For 20th century records, primary production and fish migratory patterns were observed to oscillate between warm and cool climate phases in the northern Pacific (Mantua et al., 1997 and Chavez et al., 2003). These shifts in production have a major impact on coastal communities that rely on the commercial harvesting of economic fish species. It is therefore important to understand the causes and timing of these productivity cycles.

One way to investigate this issue is to determine whether such changes have occurred previously, or are recurring phenomena, by looking into the sediment record. Recent studies of finely laminated sediments in the fjords of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, have utilized high-resolution imaging and/or statistical techniques in order to resolve late Holocene depositional and climate patterns (e.g., Dean et al., 2001, Chang et al., 2003, Dean and Kemp, 2004 and Patterson et al., 2004a). These studies reveal that there are a multitude of climate cycles that have left an imprint within the sediments for at least the last 4500 years.

In this paper, we examine a high-resolution laminated sediment record and primary production proxy from Effingham Inlet, southwest Vancouver Island, by determining diatom abundance and assemblages and measuring changes in lamina thickness. Thin sections and successive annual samples were extracted from a 15-cm long sediment slab that encompasses at least 62 years of deposition and was dated at approximately 4400 years BP (Chang et al., 2003). The objectives of this study are to (1) describe the seasonal components of the sediments from thin section analysis, (2) present quantitative results from the enumeration of diatoms, and (3) interpret past climatic and oceanographic trends derived from the sedimentation patterns and diatom assemblages. The results of this study should be able to provide a foundation for comparison to modern sediments from similar depositional environments.


7. Conclusion

Sediment texture, composition and diatom assemblages were determined at subseasonal to interannual scales. The stratigraphy of Slab 8 from Effingham Inlet suggests that major environmental change can occur within a couple of decades after a relatively prolonged period of climatic stability. The progressive decrease in the thickness of the varves and changes in diatom assemblages indicate that the production of marine species, and the environmental factors that support them, deteriorated over time. The concomitant increases in silt and benthic taxa point toward enhanced precipitation and continental runoff into the basin. The causal factor behind this kind of climate and environmental shift likely involves large-scale changes in the ocean-atmosphere system, namely a transition from a climate phase dominated by the NPH to one dominated by the AL. The bidecadal-scale climate shift at 4400 years BP, along with shifts observed throughout the 20th century, indicates that these shifts, whether long or short, rapid or gradual, appear to be commonplace events.

The Doi (permanent) address for the above article is here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


18 August, 2005


Very few people now argue that there has been NO global warming in recent decades. The actual evidence (as distinct from "models") suggests a much more minor and manageable rise than what the Greenies trumpet but the really important question is what is causing the warming. If we get the cause wrong we will be running around the racetrack in the wrong direction if we try to do anything about it. And, unsurprisingly, that seems to be exactly what the Greenies are doing. They blame the rise in temperature on the Greenhouse effect -- which is a simple hypothesis with some attractions. But for some reason way outside logic they focus solely on just one of the many gases that produce the greenhouse effect and say that it alone is the cause of all our woes. They say that an increase in carbon dioxide output is the culprit -- even though carbon dioxide is one of the most minor contributors to the greenhouse effect. Other gases such as water vapour and methane are far more potent in keeping the earth warm and cosy. So wouldn't it make more sense to look at what the major gases are doing?

And if you do look at the major greenhouse gases there are plenty of of other potential culprits to be found. One of the most obvious is methane -- a common byproduct of all sorts of primary (food) production. A recent paper, for instance, has shown that rice-growing produces huge amounts of methane. Most of Asia lives on rice and there are a heck of a lot more Asians now than there used to be 100 years ago so it is pretty obvious that a lot more rice is being grown these days than there used to be. So on the balance of probabilities it is those busy Asian farmers who are heating us all up by producing heaps of extra methane!

But nobody mentions that. Why? The answer has to be politics. Forcing a reduction of CO2 production would deal a great blow to the American economy whereas focusing on poor Asian farmers would be reprehensible. Pity about the science, though! If it was reality (instead of hurting the USA) that the Greenies were mainly concerned about, they would be focusing on how to make Asians more prosperous and thus less dependant on rice. But the best way to do that would be to encourage capitalism! Horrors!


I suppose it's a bit like beating a dead horse now but I would like to point that one of the better pieces of data we have on the global warming panic shows nothing like the famous "hockey-stick" shape (with its recent steep upturn) that the Greenies have long hung their hats on. We know now that the hockey stick was a data-processing artifact from the devious Prof. Michael Mann but that still leaves open the question of what is REALLY happening. So let us look at the record of sea-levels in the San Francisco area. I like the record so much that I am actually putting up the graph concerned below. As readers of my blogs know, I tend to like words a lot better than pictures but sometimes ....

(Sea-level measurements collected at Fort Point in San Francisco since before 1900 form the longest continuous sea-level record for any site on the west coast of North America. This record was recently analyzed by U.S. Geological Survey scientists, who found that four major factors influence sea level at Fort Point-daily tides, annual sea-level cycles, a long-term trend of slowly rising sea level (red line), and the occurrence of atmospheric events such as El Ninos and La Ninas)

You could hardly get a better example of a straight-line trend, could you? From 1900 on, the sea level rise has been slow but steady. No sudden lasting upturns and no steep trend of any kind. So the data are consistent with some sort of slowly changing natural process -- such as slowly rising solar output, steadily-rising rice production (which produces heaps of methane) or -- wait for it: the inexorable creep of plate tectonics. Any schoolboy used to know that coastal California is geologically unstable. Don't they have earthquakes there or something? And San Francisco had a "great fire" in 1906 did it not? And the graph does show a big blip in sea level about then. So it could be sinking land as much as rising seas that have produced the effect.

So nobody really knows what this record tells us except that it is not some sudden sin of Western man that has brought it on.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


17 August, 2005

"Americans are the world's greatest polluters" (??)

It seems that for many in the environmental movement, the actual defense of Gaia has taken a back seat to a more important objective; specifically, to attack the capitalist economic system in general, and, in particular, its American exemplar. Interestingly, Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore agrees, saying: "The environmental movement has been hijacked by political activists who are using green rhetoric to cloak agendas that have more to do with anti-corporatism and class warfare than with ecology or the environment."

Of course, given the ostensible raison d'ˆtre of organizations like Greenpeace and the WWF, attacks upon America can't be couched in blatantly political terms, but must be presented in environmental ones - hence the oft-cited contention that "America is the world's largest polluter". It's common to see the above statement subtly modified into something like "Americans are the world's greatest polluters," a construction that conveniently facilitates the desired demonization of unconcerned, greedy, SUV-driving Americans happily despoiling the air, land and water. In light of the image thus created, it's instructive to examine some actual data.

As far as water pollution is concerned, according to World Bank data on freshwater pollution based on a standard water-treatment test for the presence of organic pollutants, water in the US is significantly less polluted than the worldwide average. In fact, levels of these pollutants in UK rivers and lakes are approximately three times those in the US, which also boasts cleaner water than countries like Denmark, Switzerland, Japan, France and the Netherlands, to name just a few. Odd, given the pernicious presence of "the world's greatest polluters".

With regard to air pollution, the US ranks 114th in the world (first being the worst) with respect to urban sulphur dioxide concentration (the UK figure is about 33% higher), 63rd in ozone-depleting CFC consumption, 45th in urban NO2 concentration, and 13th in NOx emissions per unit of populated land area (the UK value is more than twice as high).

Of course, the greatest concern at present has to do with emissions of so called greenhouse gases. Interestingly, according to recent figures from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the US is not the largest per capita offender here, either. Nor is it second. Among the industrialised nations considered, those positions go to Australia and Canada, respectively. In fact, the average Australian emits some 30% more than his American counterpart (the Canadian figure is only slightly higher than that of the US). Another report (PDF) - which places Canadian per capita emissions at a level just under those of the US, those of Australia again far and away the highest - points out that, when measured per unit of GDP, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Czech Republic and Poland are all greater emitters.

I can only attribute the fact that one rarely encounters vituperative attacks on the Australian emissions champions, or on the Canadian runners up, to the political agenda described above.

Finally, in light of the frequently repeated accusation, it's interesting to note that, according to the OECD Working Group on Environmental Information and Outlooks, only two countries (the Netherlands and Austria) spend more than the US on pollution control and abatement (measured as a percentage of GDP). But don't expect facts like these to be reported by the likes of Greenpeace - they're too busy pursuing anti-capitalist, anti-American agendas of the kind that so disturb their own founder.



With Ted Kennedy in the lead: It shows how much they really care about "fossil fuels" allegedly running out

Even with oil prices marching toward $70 a barrel, most alternative energy sources require heavy federal subsidies to allow producers to turn a profit. Wind power, though it still enjoys subsidies, is one of the few that is becoming economically competitive in its own right -- thanks to rising electric power costs in many parts of the world and technological advances in the design and manufacture of wind turbines.... But developers of wind power have begun to confront other barriers to the production this relatively cheap, clean renewable energy source.

Take the case of Jim Gordon, a private developer whose company, Cape Wind, has proposed building one of the largest and most ambitious wind projects in the U.S. -- the first offshore wind farm in the country. After four years of design and planning, Cape Wind is well on its way to building an $800 million, 420-megawatt, 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound offshore Cape Cod, Mass. The company says the project will supply about three-fourths of the power needed for Cape Code, eliminating about 4,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, about 1,000 tons of nitrous oxides, and about a million tons of greenhouse gases. The company has completed detailed engineering studies for the project. A 3,800-page Environmental Impact Statement, involving three years of study and 17 federal and state agencies, is awaiting final approval from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

If approved by the Army, the project still faces one major hurdle. The neighbors don't like the way it looks. "People come to Cape Cod for natural beauty and the unspoiled horizon, and they're not going to go there to see a power plant off the beaches," said Audra Parker, assistant director of the Alliance to Save Our Sound, which has mounted a campaign to stop the project. "Our argument is that a lot of people do have an objection to the hard cost impact on property values."

The Alliance is a well-organized, well-funded group of local residents who have been working to stop the Cape Wind project since it was first proposed. It has organized opposition through public meetings, newsletters, press releases and challenges to rulings by various state and federal agencies in favor of the project.

Gordon has defended the project with his own Web site and press releases as he continues to grind through the lengthy permitting process with state and federal agencies. He's also working hard to counter the objections raised by the Alliance. "These are unfounded fears from very wealthy waterfront homeowners who believe that Cape Wind will impact their quality of life," he said.

The four years of civic war over the project has left the locals divided. A poll conducted in May found that, of those aware of the project, 39 percent opposed it while 37 percent supported it - a dead heat when accounting for the poll's margin of error. Some 24 percent haven't made up their minds.

If built, Cape Wind would be the largest offshore wind farm in the U.S. -- and could well provide a roadmap for other large-scale projects of its kind. Officials in New Jersey are reviewing several proposals for offshore wind farms along the Jersey shore. The Long Island Power Authority wants to install 40 turbines more than 3 miles offshore Jones Beach on Long Island.

More here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


16 August, 2005

Military exercises 'good for endangered species'

Firing ranges can have more wildlife than national parks

Military exercises are boosting biodiversity, according to a study of land used for US training manoeuvres in Germany. Such land has more endangered species than nearby national parks. The land is uncultivated, but also churned up by tank tracks and explosions. This creates habitat both for species that prefer pristine lands and those that require disturbed ground, explains ecologist Steven Warren of Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Military land can host more species than agricultural land, Warren told a meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Montreal. What's more, its biodiversity can also exceed that of natural parks, where species that need disturbance cannot get a foothold.

Warren and his colleague Reiner Buettner of the Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology in Hemhofen, Germany, surveyed two US military bases at Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels in the southern state of Bavaria. Although the bases represent less than 1% of the state's area, they contain 22% of its endangered species, Warren told the meeting. The national parks cover a similar area but host fewer endangered plants and animals, Warren says. "Some people are very anti-military," Warren says. "They assume that there's nothing the military can do that will be beneficial, particularly with relation to ecology." Warren, who doesn't work for the army, used to assume the same himself. "Twenty years ago I looked at military activities as an ecologist and thought 'they need me'. But I guess that's not really so."

Warren and Buettner studied several species to try and understand the benefits of military ground. One, the natterjack toad, breeds in water-filled ruts created by tank tracks, they found. The tendency when setting aside a nature reserve is to prevent disturbances such as periodic flooding, says Warren. But this can inadvertently remove some habitats. "[Tanks] replace to some degree the processes that have been stopped," Warren says. The same goes for fires caused by bombing. "We've trained generations of people that fire is bad," he says, "but in fact it's crucial for ecosystems."

The number of species on former Soviet training camps around Berlin has dropped since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Warren says, supporting the idea that military activity is good for biodiversity. "But some military chiefs worry that endangered species may begin to obstruct their exercises." The US Marine Corps has previously complained that the US Endangered Species Act threatens to turn its Camp Pendleton beach in San Diego County, California - home to 18 threatened species - into a nature reserve rather than a training facility.

Warren hopes that conservationists could learn from the military, and provide disturbances to help endangered species. One trial project at Tennenlohe, near Nuremberg in Germany, involves cutting up land using an agricultural tool called a ripper in a bid to mimic tank tracks.


Australia's Minister for hot air

By Andrew Bolt

The savage green critics of the Howard Government are wrong. Guys, calm down. You've actually won. Just look: The Government's slick new Environment Minister Ian Campbell is now peddling your global warming myths.

Am I unfair? Well, compare two reports on global warming released last month -- an alarmist one here, and a far more sober one by a committee of Britain's House of Lords that warns the warming hype is being whipped up by political trickery. The alarmist report was, alas, released by Campbell himself, and produced the usual oh-my-God horror stories in the media. Commissioned by the Government's Australian Greenhouse Office, it followed the scary script: Australia is hotting up fast, thanks to our belching. Our reefs may turn white, our dams dusty, our weather wild. Malaria could creep back in the heat and kill us. We had to spend big on slashing our emissions. Campbell, who should know better, only fed the hysteria. "I don't think there is much doubt, frankly, about the science of global warming," he gloomed.

Really? In fact, the British report -- all but ignored here -- concludes the opposite: "The science of climate change remains debatable." So which of these reports to believe? Should we panic about global warming -- or politicians like Campbell? Let's compare.

The Australian Greenhouse Office's report was written by private consultants who talked exclusively to our environment ministries and agencies. Not one sceptical scientist outside our paid-to-be-green bureaucracy got to have a say. And its warnings of doom were based not on any new science, but on the 2001 report of the United Nation's body which has pushed the global warming scare hardest -- the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. So if the IPCC is wrong, then so is much of Campbell's report.

Of course, the media has often told you not to doubt the IPCC -- a horde of experts brought together every few years by the UN to write reports on global warming. Just believe it: The globe will heat up by as much as 5.8 degrees by 2100, and we're largely to blame.

Not so fast, the British House of Lords' committee on economic affairs now says with alarm. This committee -- which included two former chancellors of the Exchequer, three top economists and a former Bank of England governor -- grilled more than 40 experts from around the world, including sceptics, to check the science of the global warming scare, and to price the solutions. It tested the greenhouse claims in a way the authors of Campbell's report didn't even try. And, ouch -- what it found shames the IPCC. As the committee summed up with British restraint: "We have some concerns about the objectivity of the IPCC process, with some of its emissions scenarios and summary documentation apparently influenced by political considerations." What's more: "There are significant doubts about some aspects of the IPCC's emissions scenario exercise . . . (and) the high emissions scenarios contained some questionable assumptions and outcomes . . . "There are some positive aspects to global warming and these appear to have been played down . . ."

That's putting it mildly. The examples the committee then gave to back up its claims of exaggeration, distortion and political interference should make even Ian Campbell wonder how settled this IPCC "science" he relies on really is. Here are just the top dozen of those examples:

1. The IPCC seemed to shut out some scientists who questioned its global warming theories.

2. A top IPCC malaria expert who disproved its claim that warming would spread the disease was dropped and replaced by people with little expertise.

3. IPCC scientists were outraged when the panel's political appointees falsified their 2001 report to make them seem to predict big losses from warming.

4. The IPCC "seemed to have made a conscious effort to downplay" research on the economic harm, or lack of it, that warming might cause -- perhaps because research actually showed "monetised damage is relatively low, even for a warming of 2.5 degrees".

5. Some of the IPCC's scariest warnings of a hotter world assumed the world's population would more than double -- "a projection not borne out by any of the population forecasts made elsewhere".

6. The IPCC "appears to be playing down" research showing it wasn't actually worth slashing greenhouse gases, when the Kyoto Accord, for instance, would cut temperatures by just 0.1 degrees by 2100 for a cost of up to $US17 trillion.

7. There was "uncertainty and controversy about the underlying data" behind the IPCC's claim that warming would make cyclones and hurricanes worse -- a claim that seemed unproven.

8. The IPCC had to take "a more balanced approach" and give "fuller consideration . . . on the positive effects of warming" -- such as better crops and more pleasant climates.

9. IPCC predictions that poorer countries would catch up fast to richer countries, so pumping out more greenhouse gases, were in fact widely disputed and seemed kind assumptions based on "political factors".

10. A mistake in the way the IPCC calculated the relative wealth of countries also exaggerated how much the poor ones would develop and the extra gases they would then emit.

11. The IPCC claimed average carbon dioxide emissions for each person were rising, when they were actually falling.

12. The IPCC seemed to underestimate how much sulphur emissions cooled the atmosphere.

Suspicious, how every one of these mistakes and distortions by the IPCC, and more, exaggerated the dangers of global warming. True, the House of Lords committee agreed there had been warming in the past century and most scientists thought our emissions were partly to blame. But it attacked the IPCC for "opening the way for climate science and economics to be determined, at least in part, by political requirements rather than by the evidence". What? Politics has trumped evidence? Someone tell our Environment Minister! Actually, don't bother. Just look how sweetly green he now looks, swearing the science of global warming really is beyond doubt. Trust him. Vote for him.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


15 August, 2005


Post lifted from the Adam Smith blog

The Telegraph's science editor, Roger Highfield, reports on the strange disappearance of what was hailed as the world's worst leakage of genetically modified crops into regular strains.

Four years ago, researchers reported finding cobs of genetically modified maize in Oaxaca, Mexico, suggesting that GM maize (corn) from the US had invaded a traditional maize variety.

This contamination was loudly trumpeted by anti-GM campaigners, even though the GM variety had no adverse effects on people. What happened then was strange. The magazine Nature disowned the original paper by researchers at the University of California in Berkeley.

The paper had sparked a protest to Nature by 100 biologists and was disowned by the Mexican government after its scientists could not repeat the experiment. The anti-GM lobby portrayed the row as an attempt to discredit the research and as part of a biotech industry vendetta.

The story becomes stranger. A two-year study by Ohio State University researchers, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds there has been no spread of GM strains into native crops.

The researchers gathered more than 153,000 seeds from 870 maize plants in 125 fields in Oaxaca, for the first survey of foreign "transgenes" in native varieties, and found no evidence of contamination. The finding surprised the researchers, said Prof Snow, because millions of tons of GM grain were imported from the US each year for processed food and animal feed.

It all makes the findings of the original Berkeley study seem extraordinary. What was claimed as the worst incident of GM contamination has disappeared into thin air. The refutation might not get quite the coverage the original scare generated, however.


Which was an elitist idea long before the Greenies were thought of. Many British cities have areas around them on which housing is not allowed to be built. The reason why is very poorly thought-out

Apparently, 84 per cent of people want to save the green belt and keep if safe from urban sprawl. Can it be true? Can 16 per cent of the country really believe that it's right to pave over our pleasant land? I thought it was just me who reckoned the green belt was a colossally misguided scheme to inflate house prices, cripple the economy and do absolutely nil for the environment.

Try telling people that you think the green belt should be scrapped - worse still, that you think the entire system of Government planning should be done away with - and you won't win many friends. To argue against the belt, which surrounds London, Birmingham and other big cities and which celebrates its 50th anniversary this month, is to most people like calling for clean drinking water to be abolished, or campaigning to bring back witch-ducking.

Never mind that nobody seems to know what it looks like, or whether any of it is very nice. I've lived in London all my life and I've never hear anyone saying that they're off to spend a weekend in the green belt, what with it being so close by and everything. Maybe the BBC's new hit series Coast only narrowly beat a rival show called Disused Gravel Pits in Tilbury, but I doubt it. The point is, for every Chiltern hill or slope of the North Downs that the scheme protects, massive chunks of land that are downright foul are kept at bay from the potentially cheering extension of the suburbs.

Green belts do not create parkland within easy reach. Their real point is to prevent sprawl - although why London or Newcastle should be equally stopped from sprawling is hard to explain: they can't both be the ideal size, surely. Green belts increase pollution by encouraging development farther from the city, so adding to the number of miles commuters have to drive. Mark Pennington, an economics lecturer at Queen Mary College, points out that the new towns will often end up being built on much more environmentally valuable land than the belt itself. All that green belts do is to halt city growth, regardless of the economic benefits of new construction.

Ah. That word - economic - gets you in trouble. The complaint comes that letting the market run loose would cause havoc, because "land is a finite resource": once we've paved over Britain, we can never get it back. But economics is all about managing scarce resources - oil, labour or anything else. And economists will tell you that to manage resources effectively, you need information about their relative values. There is a word for such information: prices. Some of the green belt is lovely, some of it is awful - but greenbelt policy sucks because by shutting down the system of prices it fails to distinguish one from the other. If green belt land were traded freely, and could be developed without constraint, the magic of the price mechanism would get to work. Beautiful land would come at a higher price than ugly land, and developers would be guided to build in cheaper areas.

But alarm has been the sole response to Government plans, unveiled last month, to make planning more responsive to housing demand. Frankly, it would be hard to dream up a system less responsive to housing demand than the current planning laws. Anyone who has tried to get a building project approved will know how slow, expensive and often corrupt the set-up is. Planning is the legacy of the postwar Town and Country Planning Act, which tried to do to home building what the Attlee Government was also trying with coal, steel and other industries: control them from above. But, unlike those dinosaurs, planning has never been reformed, and it remains more like a vast, sclerotic, nationalised industry than anything else. Even John Prescott has been unable to break the logjam. Despite his threatening year after year to swamp the Thames Gateway and Bedfordshire with Barratt homes, the big build remains stubbornly unbuilt.

People think that if you got rid of government planning you would have anarchy. But that's not how things work in other parts of the economy. Prices allow a much more sophisticated level of co-ordination, in which demand for houses, offices and open spaces are all stirred into the mix. Do you live in an area with lots of attractive Victorian homes, where buildings that are out of character would damage the appeal? So club together with your neighbours, sign a restrictive covenant that bans everyone in the group from making changes, and watch the market response. Everyone in the group should see their house price rise, because each house becomes more valuable in an area guaranteed to stay attractive.

Having said all of that, I'm not against planning. Planning a town, working out how to mix homes, infrastructure and open spaces, is difficult, but not impossible. The problem is that there is only ever one planner - the Government. To scrap state planning would bring about a renaissance in a forgotten world from a century ago, when private corporations bought land speculatively and created garden cities and suburbs, many with restrictive covenants to keep them from decline. Competition between planners - something the current system lacks - drove up standards of design.

Thanks to the efforts of private planners, we now have picturesque suburbs and towns such as Highgate, Summertown and Letchworth. It could happen again. Tesco towns? They'd certainly beat a weekend for two in a gravel pit.


In Situ Stable Isotope Probing of Methanogenic Archaea in the Rice Rhizosphere

Comment on the paper abstracted below: Rice agriculture is possibly the biggest source of anthropogenic methane and methane is one of those wicked greenhouse gases. Though carbon dioxide is also a greenhouse gas, methane is dozens of times more so. Rice paddies cover about 130 million hectares of the earth's surface, of which almost 90% are in Asia, and emit 50 to 100 million metric tons of methane a year. So stop those gooks growing all that rice! Let them eat cake!

(By: Yahai Lu1,2 and Ralf Conrad2. 1 College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100094, China. 2 Max-Planck-Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Karl-von-Frisch-Strasse, 35043 Marburg, Germany.)

Microorganisms living in anoxic rice soils contribute 10 to 25% of global methane emissions. The most important carbon source for CH4 production is plant-derived carbon that enters soil as root exudates and debris. Pulse labeling of rice plants with 13CO2 resulted in incorporation of 13C into the ribosomal RNA of Rice Cluster I Archaea in the soil, indicating that this archaeal group plays a key role in CH4 production from plant-derived carbon. This group of microorganisms has not yet been isolated but appears to be of global environmental importance.

Science, Vol 309, Issue 5737, 1088-1090 , 12 August 2005

The Doi (permanent) address for the above article is here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


14 August, 2005


Even mockers of the global warming scare have generally conceded that there has been some overall warming in recent years, though certainly no consistent warming from year to year. The only important dispute has been over whether or not the warming has anything to do with human activity -- in particular whether increased human output of CO2 has any net effect on global temperature. Both history (showing lots of past ups and downs in global temperature) and physics (gases other than CO2 such as water vapour and methane are by far the dominant influence on global temperature) suggest that the human influence is minuscule and that attempts to change it are therefore irrelevant.

There are some scientists, however, who have doubted that there has been any global warming at all going on. They point out that temperature rises recorded by ground-based stations could be simply "heat island" effects -- the effect of the heat that human activities generate rather than anything to do with atmospheric gases -- effects which would be greatest close to the ground. The most striking evidence for this has been the fact that both weather-balloon and satellite measurements of atmospheric temperature show no rise over the years.

Measuring atmospheric temperature is however a lot more complex than hopping into a balloon and waving a thermomenter about. And the temperature differences we are talking about are in any case minuscule. So lots of very precise scientific calculations have to be made from the raw data before a final assessment of temperature can be arrived at. As has been much bruited about in the news lately, however, some of those calculations have now been questioned and new calculations made which DO show some warming of the atmosphere.

The existing experts in the field of atmospheric temperature measurement have responded fairly positively to the new approach and conceded much truth in it. On re-doing their calculations to take the new considerations into account, however, the amount of warming they find is still minuscule -- which is what global warming critics have generally said all along.

The debate concerned is a highly technical one, which is why I have offered this summary rather than following my usual practice of just putting up relevant excerpts from existing articles. For those who wish to read further, however, I reproduce below one of the shorter newspaper summaries of the matter followed by some excerpts from the response by one of the main "no-warming" scientists involved:

From the Sydney Morning Herold

"Some scientists who question whether human-caused global warming poses a threat have long pointed to records showing the atmosphere's lowest layer, the troposphere, has not warmed over the past two decades, and has cooled in the tropics. Now two independent studies have found errors in the complicated calculations used to generate the old temperature records, which involved stitching together data from thousands of weather balloons lofted around the world as well as a series of short-lived weather satellites. A third study shows that when the errors are taken into account the troposphere has warmed. The three papers have been published in the online edition of the journal Science.

The scientists who developed the original troposphere temperature records, John Christy and Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, conceded they had made a mistake but said their revised calculations still produced a warming rate too small to be a concern.

However, other climate experts said the new studies were significant, in effect resolving a puzzle that had been used by opponents of curbs on greenhouse gas emissions. Starting in about 2001, the data and methods of Dr Christy and Dr Spencer were re-examined by Carl Mears and Frank Wentz, scientists at Remote Sensing Systems, a company that analyses satellite data for NASA. They and others have since found more significant warming trends. Their new paper identifies a fresh error in the original calculations that, more firmly than ever, shows warming in the troposphere, particularly in the tropics.

Some excerpts from an article in Tech Central Station by Roy Spencer of the UAH group. The "RSS" are the critics of the older measurements

"While their criticism of the UAH diurnal cycle adjustment method is somewhat speculative, Mears & Wentz were additionally able to demonstrate to us, privately, that there is an error that arises from our implementation of the UAH technique. This very convincing demonstration, which is based upon simple algebra and was discovered too late to make it into their published report, made it obvious to us that the UAH diurnal correction method had a bias that needed to be corrected.

Since we (UAH) had already been working on a new diurnal adjustment technique, based upon the newer and more powerful AMSUs that have been flying since 1998, we rushed our new method to completion recently, and implemented new corrections. As a result, the UAH global temperature trends for the period 1979 to the present have increased from +0.09 to +0.12 deg. C/decade -- still below the RSS estimate of +0.19 deg. C/decade.

Our new AMSU-based (observed) diurnal cycle adjustments end up being very similar to RSS's climate model (theoretical) adjustments. So why the remaining difference between the trends produced by the two groups? While this needs to be studied further, it looks like the reason is the same as that determined for the discrepancy in deep-tropospheric satellite estimates between the two groups: the way in which successive satellites in the long satellite time series are intercalibrated. There has been a continuing, honest difference of opinion between UAH and RSS about how this should best be done.

In a paper accompanying the Mears and Wentz paper, a new analysis of radiosonde (weather balloon) data by Sherwood et al. also obtains larger levels of warming than have been previously reported. No other radiosonde dataset that has attempted to adjust for the calibration artifacts discussed therein has produced warming estimates as high as those obtained in this new study. As is always the case, it will take a while for the research community to form opinions about whether the new radiosonde adjustments advocated in this work are justified. At a minimum, the new work shows that at least one method for analysis of the weather balloon data (which have traditionally supported the much smaller satellite trends from UAH) results in trends much closer to the warmer surface thermometer trends....

What will all of this mean for the global warming debate? Probably less than the media spin will make of it. At a minimum, the new reports show that it is indeed possible to analyze different temperature datasets in such a way that they agree with current global warming theory. Nevertheless, all measurements systems have errors (especially for climate trends), and researchers differ in their views of what kinds of errors exist, and how they should be corrected. As pointed out by Santer et al., it is with great difficulty that our present weather measurement systems (thermometers, weather balloons, and satellites) are forced to measure miniscule climate trends."

Note also this comment about the new calculations (where the "Christy et al" group are the UAH team):

"The UAH temperature data set differs from a set of six different recent analyses of weather balloon radiosonde data by range from a low of 0.002 degrees centigrade to a high of 0.023 degrees centigrade. All are well within the +/-0.5 degree margin of error for the adjusted UAH data and lower than the adjusted RSS temperature trend. In other words, the balloon data suggest the global temperature trends are closer to the UAH number than they are to the RSS number. In its article, the RSS team agrees, "Trends from temporally homogenized radiosonde data sets show less warming than our results and are in better agreement with the Christy et al. results."


"Five named storms before July 15! Obviously we're headed for some kind of record year. Or are we? And what does all of this have to do with planetary warming. The answers aren't clear. Hurricane (and tropical storm) data are notoriously noisy from year-to-year, and the way that we gather these statistics hasn't been constant. Prior to 1945, most hurricane information came from merchant shipping in the Atlantic. It's likely that many storms were missed, especially those that didn't cross major shipping lanes.

After World War II, we began to send out aircraft (called Hurricane Hunters), but these missions weren't launched unless there was some evidence of a storm, i.e. weather reports from an island or a ship. Only since the mid-1960s has weather satellite technology been sufficient to detect all storms. Since World War II the Hurricane Hunters have detected an apparent long-term decline in the average maximum winds measured in a given year. Apparently hurricanes are getting weaker. Important word, that: "apparently." It's possible that the decline in average maximum winds is real. Some scientists (not this one) think global warming increases the frequency or intensity of El Nino, the big Pacific Ocean weathermaker. El Nino activity and hurricane intensity in the Atlantic are highly anticorrelated.

The same result -- an apparent decline in maximum winds -- would obtain if we were now naming more tropical storms than we used to. In that case, the apparent lack of any trend in long-term frequency would be wrong; the true picture would be a slight decline. It's complicated, okay? Equally convoluted is the relationship between the number of early-season storms and overall annual activity. One would think that it would be very straightforward. The peak of hurricane season is around September 12. If numbers tend to fall off smoothly on both sides of that peak, then a large number of early-season storms would signal a banner year.

But hurricanes aren't evenly distributed at all throughout their season. Rather, they tend to "bloom," with multiple storms occurring simultaneously (or nearly so). When that occurs, the storms in each pod tend to be on pretty similar tracks -- which is why Florida got whacked four times last year in six weeks. A worse shellacking actually took place in northwestern Mexico in 1933, as six storms hit in fairly close proximity. The relationship between early and entire-season hurricanes is non-existent. Only 3 percent of the year-to-year variation in total number of tropical cyclones per year (since 1945) is explained by the number observed before August 1. Statistically speaking, that number is indistinguishable from zero.

Further, there is no relationship between the number of severe hurricanes ("category 3" or higher) and early-season activity. There is a pretty good reason for all of this, and it can be found in a study of recent Hurricane Dennis. Dennis was an extremely threatening Category 4 hurricane on Sunday morning, July 10, a mere six hours prior to landfall. But, as it approached the Florida coast, it encountered the water disturbed by tropical storm Cindy just six days before (behold the "clumpiness" of hurricanes!). The rough seas mixed colder water with the hotter surface layer, reducing the heat energy available to maintain Dennis, who shriveled faster than a (provide inappropriate metaphor here).

Hurricanes require hot water. But in years where there's a lot of early activity, there's going to be less of that around, which means, in general, that later storms will tend to be a bit less frequent or weaker. At least that's the theory. Reality is more complicated, as the relationship between water temperature and hurricane intensity is far rougher than indicated by simplistic computer models with warmer oceans. Here's the bottom line: Since World War II, there is no significant relationship between what happens in the entire hurricane season and what happened early in that season.

But then there's 1933, the same year that Mexico got pounded. Five storms were detected before August 1, which ties the record (observed three times) in the postwar era. The entire season saw 21 tropical storms and hurricanes, a record that still stands today".



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


13 August, 2005

Lots of news in the "Green" world today. I will look at the latest claims about balloon and satellite measurements of earth's temperature tomorrow


Another example of whom the Greenies are really looking after. Now if you can afford a "hybrid" car to do your commuting in, traffic jams are going to be a thing of the past

"After months of uncertainty, California will open its carpool lanes to solo drivers in high-mileage hybrid vehicles. The decision, announced Wednesday by the Schwarzenegger administration, puts into effect a California law passed nearly a year ago to encourage the state's drivers to buy fuel-efficient vehicles. State officials had been waiting since then for federal officials to give their blessing to the law. The federal transportation act signed Wednesday by President Bush gives states the authority to allow cleaner, high-mileage cars in carpool lanes. Its wording does not, however, match the wording of the more stringent California law.

Schwarzenegger administration officials say they decided to implement the law anyway, after state Air Resources Board attorneys consulted privately with federal transportation officials. ARB spokeswoman Gennet Paauwe declined to offer details of those talks. "We determined the (president's) signing today gave California the approval it needed," Paauwe said....

The law goes into effect immediately, Department of Motor Vehicles officials said. DMV officials said they have a window sticker program ready to go. Hybrid owners must fill out an application, available on the DMV Web site, and mail it to the DMV with an $8 check, officials said. Those officials said they should be able to mail windshield stickers to qualifying drivers within two weeks. Only hybrid vehicles that get more than 45 miles to the gallon, however, will be allowed with a single occupant in carpool lanes, DMV officials said Wednesday. The three gas-electric models that the Air Resources Board says currently qualify are the Toyota Prius and Honda's Insight and Civic Hybrid....

More here


We are asked to believe that a local effect in Western Siberia is due to global warming. No mention that the Antarctic is by contrast getting colder either. It does get a mention that there is a cyclical change in atmospheric circulation known as the Arctic oscillation but that couldn't be all there is to it could it? An article from issue 2512 of "New Scientist" magazine, 11 August 2005, page 12 below:

"The world's largest frozen peat bog is melting. An area stretching for a million square kilometres across the permafrost of western Siberia is turning into a mass of shallow lakes as the ground melts, according to Russian researchers just back from the region. The sudden melting of a bog the size of France and Germany combined could unleash billions of tonnes of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. The news of the dramatic transformation of one of the world's least visited landscapes comes from Sergei Kirpotin, a botanist at Tomsk State University, Russia, and Judith Marquand at the University of Oxford. Kirpotin describes an "ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming". He says that the entire western Siberian sub-Arctic region has begun to melt, and this "has all happened in the last three or four years".

What was until recently a featureless expanse of frozen peat is turning into a watery landscape of lakes, some more than a kilometre across. Kirpotin suspects that some unknown critical threshold has been crossed, triggering the melting. Western Siberia has warmed faster than almost anywhere else on the planet, with an increase in average temperatures of some 3 °C in the last 40 years. The warming is believed to be a combination of man-made climate change, a cyclical change in atmospheric circulation known as the Arctic oscillation, plus feedbacks caused by melting ice, which exposes bare ground and ocean. These absorb more solar heat than white ice and snow. Similar warming has also been taking place in Alaska: earlier this summer Jon Pelletier of the University of Arizona in Tucson reported a major expansion of lakes on the North Slope fringing the Arctic Ocean.

The findings from western Siberia follow a report two months ago that thousands of lakes in eastern Siberia have disappeared in the last 30 years, also because of climate change (New Scientist, 11 June, p 16). This apparent contradiction arises because the two events represent opposite end of the same process, known as thermokarsk. In this process, rising air temperatures first create "frost-heave", which turns the flat permafrost into a series of hollows and hummocks known as salsas. Then as the permafrost begins to melt, water collects on the surface, forming ponds that are prevented from draining away by the frozen bog beneath. The ponds coalesce into ever larger lakes until, finally, the last permafrost melts and the lakes drain away underground. [So why is it now "a watery landscape of lakes"? The actual sequence of events seems to be the reverse of the theory. Once we discount the drama motivation, I think Occam's razor tells us that what we are actually looking at is in fact just one phase of a normal oscillation. The lakes have been disappearing and now they are appearing again]

Siberia's peat bogs formed around 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. Since then they have been generating methane, most of which has been trapped within the permafrost, and sometimes deeper in ice-like structures known as clathrates. Larry Smith of the University of California, Los Angeles, estimates that the west Siberian bog alone contains some 70 billion tonnes of methane, a quarter of all the methane stored on the land surface worldwide.

His colleague Karen Frey says if the bogs dry out as they warm, the methane will oxidise and escape into the air as carbon dioxide. But if the bogs remain wet, as is the case in western Siberia today, then the methane will be released straight into the atmosphere. Methane is 20 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide. In May this year, Katey Walter of the University of Alaska Fairbanks told a meeting in Washington of the Arctic Research Consortium of the US that she had found methane hotspots in eastern Siberia, where the gas was bubbling from thawing permafrost so fast it was preventing the surface from freezing, even in the midst of winter.

An international research partnership known as the Global Carbon Project earlier this year identified melting permafrost as a major source of feedbacks that could accelerate climate change by releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. "Several hundred billion tonnes of carbon could be released," said the project's chief scientist, Pep Canadell of the CSIRO Division of Marine and Atmospheric Research in Canberra, Australia".

How Global Warming Can Chill the Planet

So what exacty are we supposed to be worrying about? Sounds like climate disaster has become an unfalsifiable prediction -- which in science is normally the death-knell of a theory

Scientists hope new evidence of an ancient rise in sea level from a fresh water flood will tell them how global warming can lead to global cooling. A global cooling event was caused by global warming? Sounds strange. But that is exactly what scientists say happened.

The Earth was emerging from an ice age 8,200 years ago. Seas were warming and life was heating up. Then quite abruptly and for a relatively short period of time -- about 100 years -- the entire globe chilled down again, by almost 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit (6 Centigrade). One widely held theory for the chill was the sudden release of a substantial amount of fresh water into the northern Atlantic.

A lake twice the size of the Caspian Sea broke through an ice sheet that contained it over current day Minnesota and Canada, the evidence shows. It poured its fresh water into the salty Atlantic and changed the density of the ocean water. The oceans work on a sort of conveyor belt method to circulate cold and warm waters, thereby helping control cold, moderate, and warm areas of the globe. (Earth's climate is only partly affected by land temperatures and sunlight. Oceans, which store vast amounts of energy and are slow to warm up and cool down, contribute greatly to climate.)

But what happens if that conveyor belt stops or slows down? Cold, fresh water sinks, and warm salty water rises. The influx of fresh water into the Hudson Bay from Lake Agassiz provided a barrier against the warm, salty water struggling to move north on the conveyor belt. This effectively shut down the circulation of warm water in the Northern Atlantic.

With warm waters unable to move as far north the world became cooler. The amount of water Lake Agassiz dumped into the ocean is equivalent to how much the seas rose. Knowing these amounts will tell scientists how much fresh water could create this type of climate change nowadays, were a bunch of it to suddenly find its way into the ocean. The oceans were able to find their balance relatively quickly in that ancient event, and the effects wore off in about a century, but a century of that kind of change today would create widespread havoc.

"There is nothing like Lake Agassiz today, but there are things that could have a comparable effect," said Torbjorn E. Tornqvist, an geologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "Places like the Greenland ice sheet are very sensitive to warming and a lot of fresh water could enter the northern oceans and mess up circulation." Scenarios such as this are exactly why Tornqvist says investigations into past climate are vital to understanding current and future climate. "What if patterns of precipitation change from global warming? Having more precipitation in one place than in another could freshen ocean waters and play a role in climate cooling," Tornqvist told LiveScience.

The research of Tornqvist and his students centered on peat deposits in the Gulf of Mexico, where they found samples that were 8,200 years old. Tornqvist explained that peat is formed between sea level and high tide, and since there is very little influence from tides in the Gulf of Mexico, it is the perfect place to study changes in sea level accurately. The results of the research, which are detailed in the Dec. 11 online version of Geophysical Research Letters, showed a rise in sea level of less than about 4 feet (1.2 meters).

The rise might be even less, according to Tornqvist, and determining exactly how much less will provide a better picture of how fresh water influx affects the ocean conveyor belt and global climate. With this new data, and previous evidence from ice cores in Greenland that also showed a rise in sea level at the same time, scientists hope they can narrow down how much the seas rose. Then they can calculate how much water flowed into the ocean. Understanding these past climate changes will give scientists a better sense of what could happen today if similar events occurred. "Climatologists urgently need this type of information to run their climate models in order to understand the conditions that can produce such an abrupt climate change," Tornqvist said.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


12 August, 2005


Editorial by Joseph S. Alpert MD (Robert S. and Irene P. Flinn Professor of Medicine and Head, Department of Medicine, University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson, Ariz)

My medical school classmate, Michael Crichton, argues strongly in favor of skepticism in his most recent novel, State of Fear. Crichton applies the lessons we learned together at the Harvard Medical School: "Think critically and carefully review the literature before deciding on a course of action." Today, some 35 years later, we call this principle "evidence-based medicine," but the truth at its core remains the same.

In Crichton's novel, the bad guys turn out to be ecoterrorists, and the good guys are government security agents with an extensive knowledge of the environmental scientific literature (cited in footnotes in the text). This book is more a Socratic dialogue than a novel. It calls into question the conventional wisdom that human activity is producing global warming with potentially catastrophic environmental results. Until I read State of Fear, I, too, thought that global warming was a proven, accepted fact. After reading Crichton's novel, I am much less sure of what I now call the hypothesis of global warming.

Crichton has convinced me that in other areas of science, just as in medicine, it is critical to maintain a skeptical attitude toward so-called "conventional wisdom." What everybody knows may turn out to be false. Crichton cites the example of eugenics that was widely accepted by scientists in the years leading up to the Second World War. Following the war and with the revelation of the hideous crimes perpetrated in Nazi Germany in the name of eugenics, the field lost its followers and is now just a footnote in the history of biological science.

Crichton suggests in State of Fear that the hypothesis of global warming may experience a similar fate in the future. Of course, medicine has also had many experiences that resemble the eugenics fiasco.

For example, we recently went through the premature ventricular contraction (PVC) debacle. As a resident and a cardiology fellow, I was taught by master clinicians and clinical investigators that patients who had PVCs following a myocardial infarction were at increased risk for sudden death. Moreover, I was instructed that such patients should be treated with antiarrhythmic drugs such as quinidine in order to eradicate the PVCs. Although some retrospective analyses questioned whether quinidine therapy really saved lives, most practicing cardiologists accepted the "PVC hypothesis" and treated patients liberally with antiarrhythmic agents. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the National Institutes of Health sponsored a large, multicentered, randomized and double-blind trial, the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (CAST) in order to test whether PVC suppression really benefited patients with ventricular ectopy following a myocardial infarction. To everyone's surprise, PVC suppression with antiarrhythmic drugs actually was associated with a higher rate of sudden death or cardiac arrest than occurred in the placebo group. The publication of this trial led to a dramatic decrease in the use of antiarrhythmic drugs. The PVC hypothesis had been disproved!

The experience with the CAST trial is not unique. Many other examples of medical "common knowledge," so-called pearls, taught for decades and even generations, have been shown to be false. For example, each of the following pearls taught to me as a student or house officer has now been shown to be untrue: Don't give nitrates to patients with acute myocardial infarction; don't use beta blockers in patients with heart failure; tight control of glucose in diabetic patients is not beneficial; peptic ulcer disease is the result of stress; ST segment elevation myocardial infarction is always transmural in nature, and so on.

Clearly, today's internist and subspecialist need to be constantly reviewing the literature with a skeptical eye. What is allegedly true and useful today may be shown to be worthless tomorrow. The take-home message from this editorial is "remember Socrates and remain skeptical!"

(Excerpt from "The American Journal of Medicine". Volume 118, Issue 8, August 2005, Page 807)

The Doi (permanent) address for the above article is here

Marked Decline in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentrations During the Paleogene

Points of interest from the paper abstracted below: CO2 levels were much higher than today and recovered -- so if present day levels are too high in some sense they could easily drop again; We are not in a runaway state; This all falls under natural climate variation.

(By: Mark Pagani,1 James C. Zachos,2 Katherine H. Freeman,3 Brett Tipple,1 Stephen Bohaty2 . 1 Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, 210 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06511, USA; 2 Earth Sciences Department, University of California, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA; 3 Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.)

The relation between the partial pressure of atmospheric carbon dioxide (pCO2) and Paleogene climate is poorly resolved. We used stable carbon isotopic values of di-unsaturated alkenones extracted from deep sea cores to reconstruct pCO2 fromthe middle Eocene to the late Oligocene (around 45 to 25 million years ago). Our results demonstrate that pCO2 ranged between 1000 to 1500 parts per million by volume in the middle to late Eocene, then decreased in several steps during the Oligocene, and reached modern levels by the latest Oligocene. The fall in pCO2 likely allowed for a critical expansion of ice sheets on Antarctica and promoted conditions that forced the onset of terrestrial C4 photosynthesis.

Abstract above from Science Express


Asbestos litigation is a continuing crisis. Thousands of truly impaired asbestos victims are deprived of just compensation through the courts because their legitimate claims must compete with those of the unimpaired.

At the same time, hundreds of firms face the imminent threat of bankruptcy at the hands of a predatory trial bar with all the economic calamities that inevitably result -- lost jobs, a depleted source of settlements and destruction of the retirement pensions of ten of thousands of employees.

The current system is irrational and unfair. The problem is compounded by an elite class of trial lawyers who have turned asbestos litigation into an entrepreneurial pursuit. Worse still, the hundreds of millions of dollars siphoned by the trial bar are unavailable to compensate suffering asbestos victims.

For the past several years, Congress has tried to address this crisis with legislation to replace the current litigation system with an asbestos trust fund. Funded by defendant companies and insurers, the trust fund model would set up medical criteria for determining eligibility as well as compensation based on impairment. In exchange, asbestos claims would be theoretically removed from the tort system and ineligible for compensation from other sources of funding (such as the U.S. treasury). But things haven't worked out that way.

Instead, the trust fund model is proving to be a political and policy mess. The fund's size has skyrocketed, now up to a $140 billion, with provisions in the bill ensuring that will go higher.

The medical criteria provisions (standards that determine eligibility for compensation) permit unimpaired individuals -- even those with conditions unrelated to asbestos exposure -- to stake a claim on trust fund dollars.

Other problems are the compensation amounts and the potential future taxpayer liability if the new $140 billion asbestos tax doesn't provide enough revenue for the trust fund. The fund will get bigger and the medical criteria less stringent. And, again, truly impaired victims of asbestos exposure and their families will be left empty-handed.

The Senate's trust-fund champion, Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, confirms the difficulties of creating a workable trust fund. Many of Mr. Specter's recent public comments on asbestos reform, such as his March 1 op-ed article in these pages, focus on the legislative battle and his closed-door efforts to divide the asbestos pie between businesses, victims and attorneys.

Unfortunately, this approach does not address the asbestos crisis in the context of our limited government principles and belief in the rule of law.

Indeed, Mr. Specter seems to sense a lessening of Republican support for creating a trust fund and its necessary taxes and is now turning to Democrats in order to get the bill passed.

On Feb. 25, Mr. Specter told the Wall Street Journal: "I'm very close to getting sponsorship by Democrats. Part of the chess game is that if you get Democrats on certain key issues, you may lose Republicans, so it is a balancing act."

That's hardly a prescription for good public policy, but it shouldn't come as a complete surprise. Mr. Specter clearly does not agree with the Senate majority on broader tort reform. Indeed, just last month he was the only Republican to vote for an amendment that would have gutted the Class Action Fairness Act -- a key Republican priority to limit junk lawsuits. And in the 108th Congress, Senate Democrat Leader Tom Daschle. co-authored Mr. Specter's Asbestos Trust Fund bill.

Fortunately, there is another way. Reasonable and effective asbestos litigation reforms have been proposed or enacted in several states. The most notable example was the enactment last year of a medical criteria law in Ohio -- to ensure a day in court for those who most deserve to have their claims heard and to be awarded compensation.

Additional provisions in medical criteria reforms can further help curb litigation abuses, limit costs and rationalize the court system. And what has worked in Ohio and elsewhere can be translated into legislation Congress may find more palatable politically and less likely to break the bank.

The Senate should shelve the Specter-Daschle Trust Fund asbestos reform and move a medical criteria bill that delivers just compensation to asbestos victims and their families.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


11 August, 2005


Below you will find a Huffington Post screed by super-Greenie RFK JR. Note how he uses such uninformative but clearly derogatory terms as "ginned up". I think that makes it fair for me to call him "pathetic" and "desperate" but wouldn't it have been nice for him to say what the "ginning up" consisted of instead? As it stands, there is no substance to his accusation whatever. And note RFK's own "ginned up" source -- a study by a noted scientific organization called "United Press"! Why not quote a study by the Moonies or the Bolshoi Ballet? They would be no less scientific. And even if United Press are right, who is to say which of the many ways in which the Amish are different is responsible for their lesser autism? But RKF just KNOWS! How wonderful to be blessed with such supernatural wisdom!

"On Sunday morning's Meet the Press, Dr. Harvey Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine, debated New York Times reporter and author David Kirby about the strength of the science linking the current epidemic of neurological disorders among American children to the mercury-based vaccine preservative Thimerosal. The Institute of Medicine as well as the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration base their defense of Thimerosal on four flimsy studies ginned up by the pharmaceutical industry and federal regulators who green-lighted the use of Thimerosal in the first place. Those fraudulent studies deliberately targeted European populations which were exposed to a fraction of the Thimerosal given to American children.

If Dr. Fineberg genuinely wants to test his assertions about Thimerosal safety with epidemiological data, he should commission a study comparing American children who were exposed to vaccines to the Amish, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists or others, who, for religious reasons, did not receive Thimerosal-laced vaccines.

A recent survey by United Press found that autism is virtually unknown among Pennsylvania's large Amish populations -- a strong indication that vaccines are indeed a principal culprit of the epidemic. Despite the repeated urgings of independent scientists and the families of autistic children, the federal agencies involved have refused to commission such a study and have closed federal vaccine files in order to derail the creation of those studies by outside scientists.

Kennedy's crusade is of course just one part of the standard Leftist attempt to demonize drug companies. The fact that Thimserosol has been used in vaccines for 60 years without previously giving cause for concern does not seem to hold the Lefties up one bit. Charles Murtaugh has a short but acerbic comment on the nonsense being written on the subject and there is a recent and comprehensive article here by a doctor who is actually himself the father of an autistic child.


The headline practically jumped off the page, its conclusion so seemingly obvious the reader was left wondering how this even qualified as news: "Scientists advocate sunshine." However, before you pencil this as an early front-runner for the next Masters of the Obvious Award, consider that the American Academy of Dermatology immediately blasted the findings, saying any advice that you get some sun is "irresponsible."

Then, there is this from Science magazine: twin studies that, in essence, say cleaner air is a bad thing. Here's why: with fewer pollutants floating around, more sunshine reaches ground, compounding the problems caused by - what else? - global warming. So first man is wrong for causing the problem; then, he's wrong again for coming up with ways of fixing it. Hmmmm. Some folks might call this a case of wanting it both ways. And, if the scientific community can't agree, what are the rest of us to do? Frankly, a bit more skepticism when reading about research projects would be a good start, but that commodity is in short supply.

For instance, consider our good buddy global warming. A recent editorial in The Fayetteville Observer opined: "Global warming is a real phenomenon, one of the greatest environmental challenges we face, if not the greatest. And humans are primarily responsible. What are you doing about that?" What, indeed, particularly in Fayetteville, which is on a federal watch list for air quality. The Observer editorial cited auto emissions as a clear and present danger to human health, and there have been a lot of suggestions made about how you can help by changing some of your driving habits. But, if the public does what is being asked and Fayetteville's air is shown to be pristine, how does that square with the study in Science, the one linking clean air with a worsening of the so-called greenhouse effect?

It might help if the scientific community kept its story straight. From the pages of Newsweek came this startling discovery: "There are ominous signs that the Earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic." Chilling stuff. Literally. The April 1975 article was about ... global cooling. That's right; the fear was of the next Ice Age.

To sum it up, in a 30-year time span, we are supposed to believe that the Earth has gone from being on the verge of a deep freeze to approaching a meltdown, and in each instance, it is man's fault. There is simply no way.

Research studies, of course, are not limited to environmental doom. Just look at the confusion over what you should eat. High-protein. Low carbs. Eat red meat. Don't eat red meat. Milk is good for you. Dairy will kill you. Carbs provide energy. Carbs make you fat. Lots of studies, lots of experts, and each with a different conclusion that they will be glad to share with you if you'll just send cash, check, or money order.

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to believe that the people behind the studies actually know what they're talking about and aren't driven by personal or professional agendas? And therein lies the rub. No study findings or research reports are released for the sake of the information they contain, but that is how the data is presented. For instance, the American Psychiatric Association says that ADHD costs the economy nearly $80 billion. Any study that includes a dollar figure should raise an instant red flag because wherever there is a cost, there is someone who stands to benefit. Sure enough, it turns out that this study was funded by Shire US, a pharmaceutical company that just so happens to make a drug that treats ADHD. A logical question might be, what does the psychiatrist's group stand to gain? How much of a percentage do its members get for each prescription of Shire's product that is written?

This is why scientific studies and research projects often make CBS look like the truth squad. They're often the work of organizations promoting a point of view or seeking a launching pad for a marketing campaign. Going back where this began, some of you will recall the days when people poured on baby oil in order to INTENSIFY the sun's rays. Now, an entire industry demands you slather on at least three coats of sun screen before so much as walking to the mailbox. Makes you wonder how a generation that rode bikes without helmets, drank whole milk, ate fried foods, and used diving boards managed to survive without the research fairies saving us from ourselves.


GWB now blamed for the weather: "I guess it was only a matter of time before this happened: The Left is now blaming President Bush for the weather. Specifically they're claiming that the current heat wave is a result of the global warming President Bush just hasn't done enough to stop. Whereas the consensus in the scientific community seems to be leaning towards an alternate explanation: It's summertime. Oh, but this is a different kind of heat, the Left insists. It's...hotter, somehow. (At least they aren't claiming it's a dry heat). But if the current heat wave bolsters the theory of global warming favored by noted climatologists like Barbra Streisand and Bill Maher then surely last winter's record cold spells weakened the case for global warming, right? Well, no. See, global warming doesn't just make the Earth hotter. Sometimes it makes the Earth much, much colder, as depicted in the recent docudrama The Day After Tomorrow. So it's that kind of warming.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


10 August, 2005


Through their most reliable mouthpiece, the once-great BBC, the Greenies have proclaimed a new "proof" of global warming -- the selected stories of a few elderly inhabitants of the arctic. Some excerpts below. The fact that weather-station records have already told us that some parts of the arctic are warming while others are cooling is not mentioned. Nor is it mentioned that arctic ice is almost all sea ice so whether it melts or not will not affect the sea-level one iota! Elementary physics my dear Watson but still too hard for the BBC

"For the past 20 years climatologists and ice and atmosphere scientists have been working in Alaska studying climate change. Now they have discovered a rich new source of records extending their knowledge back by decades through the oral history of native Alaskans. Barrow is the most northerly town in the United States, lying 300 miles inside the Arctic Circle.

And 92-year-old Bertha Leavitt is its oldest inhabitant. "When I was a child", she says, "it was so much colder and the winds in winter used to be fierce." She remembers her elders telling in their stories that the weather was going to change. And since her childhood she believes this has come true."


The astronauts are trained to point out signs of environmental degradation visible from space but fail to mention that almost all the degradation is in the Third World -- which the Greenies are determined to keep undeveloped

Astronaut Eileen Collins is concerned about the environmental degradation she sees from space. On board the fragile spaceship Discovery, she lamented from her unique vantage point above the Earth: "Sometimes you can see how there is erosion, and you can see how there is deforestation. It's very widespread in some parts of the world. . . .We would like to see, from the astronauts' point of view, people take good care of the Earth and replace the resources that have been used."

The first thought that must have sprung into many people's minds was, "Who made her an expert on this?" Well, astronauts are actually given training in detecting major areas of environmental degradation that can easily be viewed from space. After all, we are approaching a half century of amassing detailed photos of the Earth's surface viewed from the heavens. They are trained to watch for areas of Amazonia and the Congo tropical forests and compare amounts of deforestation with photos from 10, 20, 30 years ago. Likewise, they watch for how far out into the oceans the silt plumes from the major rivers extend. Or for expansion of the great Sahelian Desert further south into sub-Saharan Africa.

After all, it was the early astronauts and Adlai Stevenson, inspired by the photographs they took, that first remarked how fragile was this tiny ball of blue and green, floating through the enormity of time and space, how this was our only home, and how important it was that we should take care of it. Thus was born "Spaceship Earth." There isn't anything wrong with that, but what is troublesome is more the attitude and what they are looking for. NASA, the EPA, and the Greens have been trying desperately to turn the space program into an Earth observation program - the Mission to Planet Earth - for almost 20 years, to justify perpetual funding as part of the nation's and world's environmental-protection mission. Conveniently, this means not having to constantly justify the massive expense of spacewalks, manned missions, moon landings, whatever.

The nonsense is that everything evaluated is done so simply in area extent. The desert is larger! And so man or development is evil. They never look at causes or incentives: Why do the tropical forests continue to decline? Does NASA or the White House science adviser ever suggest any institutional factors? No one owns the forests and people in many of those forested countries live in dire poverty in nations with no free-market economies, no jobs, no food. Thus their only choice is felling the forests, raising crops and livestock, and hoping they can sell some of the rare forest woods in the illegal markets that the G-8 and Tony Blair are so concerned about. Has anyone noticed that Amazonian states continue to urge the teeming populations of Brazil's coastal cities to move into border areas and clear forests to create boomtowns? Perhaps entire regions of Africa would not have to subsist on "bush meat" if their dictators would allow Frank Purdue to start up some chicken farms.

Astronauts might actually gather some useful data if they took extensive infrared photos of the U.S. forests to document the extent of unhealthy forests - the millions upon millions of acres of dead and dying trees - suffering from over-crowding, disease, bark-beetle infestations, whatever. All of those are results of failed environmental policies forced on our national forests by the Greens - all the things that the Bush Healthy Forest Initiative was supposed to start repairing. Of course, much of the nation still doesn't believe that the forests are ill, preferring to believe that the HFI was passed to pay off the Bush administration's Big Timber donors.

As for Eileen Collins's comments themselves, a moment's thought reveals them for the platitudinous claptrap we have come to expect from people who don't know all that much about Spaceship Earth. She has seen "widespread environmental damage," whatever that may be. "Sometimes you can see how there is erosion." Huh? That is one of the most fundamental and basic processes on the planet. There is uplift and there is erosion - the two big players in the geological game. What are wind and rain and freezing and thawing supposed to do besides erode? "And you can see how there is deforestation." Again so what? And why? Why do you suppose the trees get replanted in the vast clear-cuts of the giant timber companies, but not in mankind's common tropical forests?

She keeps on going: "We would like to see. . . people take good care of the Earth and replace the resources that have been used." What is that supposed to mean? Refill copper mines with more copper or start pumping crude oil into depleted reservoirs?

As for the comment, "We don't have much air," well. . . what is her concern? That people are using it all up by breathing? This is grade-school environmentalism at best, not the sort of thinking we should expect from the highly qualified scientists that astronauts are supposed to be. With the shuttle seemingly falling apart around her, Collins might spend a little time worrying about how she's going to get her crew safely back to terra firma, even if it is badly polluted. Home, sweet home - be it ever so humble.


ANWR: Any Nitwit Will Rant ... And Lose?

Post lifted from Cheat-seeking Missiles

ANWR, formerly and correctly known as the Strategic Oil Reserve, may become an oil source soon, despite its disappointing exclusion from the recently passed energy bill. On tap is a fancy bit of filibuster avoidance that everyone on the Hill must have known was coming, but no one talked about until today (source):

[Sen. Pete] Domenici said he will include a provision authorizing ANWR drilling as part of a budget procedure that is immune to filibuster. A similar maneuver is being planned in the House, although the final strategy is still being worked out.

Unlike normal legislation, the budget process is not subject to filibuster, so only 51 votes will be needed in the Senate for it to clear Congress and be signed into law by the president. Just such a tactic was used a decade ago when Congress approved ANWR drilling as part of the budget process, only to see the measure vetoed by then-President Clinton, a drilling opponent.

Greeniedems pretended outrage:

It's "backdoor budget chicanery," complained Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., an ANWR drilling opponent. "By shoehorning the Arctic refuge into the budget, they are making an end-run around the legislative process, knowing it cannot pass the Senate any other way."

Note to Markey: You're a member of the minority party for a reason. It's called voters


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


9 August, 2005


Polar bears are mammals with a mission, whether it's Gus obsessively swimming in the Central Park Zoo, or the mother and her cub that I once followed during a dogsled expedition here in the Canadian high Arctic. We watched her with awe and kept our distance, especially after coming across the bloody remnants of her seal dinner on the ice. The message I took home was: "You mess with my habitat, and I'll mess with you." Besides their natural charisma, the bears have another crucial asset for a poster animal: location. Because the Arctic is projected to feel the effects of global warming sooner and more severely than temperate regions, the recent shrinking of sea ice in the Arctic has been promoted as a grim harbinger for the planet.

The polar bear has become, in the words of the WWF conservation group, "an ambassador for Arctic nature and a symbol of the impacts that global warming is increasingly having around the world." Conservation groups and scientists have been making headlines in the past year, warning that shrinking sea ice could make wild bears extinct by the end of the century, possibly within just 20 years.

Right now, though, Inuits like Nathaniel Kalluk here in Resolute Bay aren't exactly worried. "There are a lot more bears now than before," said Mr. Kalluk, who is 51 and has been hunting since childhood. "We'll spot 20 to 30 bears on a hunting trip. Twenty years ago, sometimes we didn't see any at all." This is not an isolated trend. Although the bears seem to be hurting in some places, like the Hudson Bay region south of here, their numbers have increased worldwide. In Canada, home to most of the world's polar bears, the population has risen by more than 20 percent in the past decade.

The chief reason for the rise is probably restrictions on hunting (for which conservationists deserve credit). In this village of fewer than 200 residents, Mr. Kalluk and the other hunters are limited each year to three dozen bears, which they allocate by drawing names out of a hat.

But the increase might also be related to the recent warming, which could be helping bears in some places. After all, the bears have thrived in warmer climates than today's. In the 1930's, the Arctic was as warm as it is now, and in the distant past it was even warmer. The doomsday reports of the melting Arctic have focused on the rise in temperatures compared with the late 1970's, but that was a particularly cold period. So the bears can cope with some global warming, which would increase the diversity of species in the Arctic - and maybe the number of humans, too.

Today only 30,000 people live in Nunavut, an impoverished Canadian territory the size of Western Europe. Ecotourism during the summer is one of the few promising industries in places like Resolute, but the cold and ice keep out all but a few affluent adventurer travelers, scientists and journalists. Personally, I like the high Arctic just as frozen and empty as it is now. But I can see why Mr. Kalluk doesn't mind the idea of a little climate change. "The ice is always going to freeze in the winter," he said, "but it would be better for us if we had a longer summer. We'd have more time to use our boats. There would be more jobs and a longer tourist season." The bears would be still around, and their charisma would be making more money for the locals, not just for the WWF fund-raisers down south

More here


Several graduate students, along with supervising professor Joe Kirschvink, have released a paper presenting their explanation of what caused "Snowball Earth," a periodic deep freeze of Earth's atmosphere that has been theorized for years. The Caltech team argues that 2.3 billion years ago, cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, gained the ability to break down water, which in turn released a flood of oxygen into the atmosphere. That oxygen reacted with the atmospheric methane, which insulated the Earth at the time, and broke it down. While the oxygen-methane reaction created the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, the protective nature of the barrier cracked. Temperatures plunged to minus 50 degrees Celsius, and ice at the equator grew to 1 mile thick. Although this process took several million years, substantial damage to the methane layer could have occurred in the first 100,000 years.

Life-forms only recovered after microorganisms, clinging then to thermal vents or living underground, evolved the ability to consume oxygen and turn it into carbon dioxide.

It was a close call to a planetary destruction," said professor Kirschvink, who oversaw the project, in a prepared statement. "If Earth had been a bit further from the sun, the temperature at the poles could have dropped enough to freeze the carbon dioxide into dry ice, robbing us of this greenhouse escape from Snowball Earth." Carbon dioxide concentrations became so high over millions of years that the temperature soared to 50 degrees Celsius. As the solar system aged, Earth's mood swings became less extreme.

Scientists have known for a number of years that Earth plunged into one of its periodic ice ages 2.3 billion years ago, a change reflected in glacially formed rocks in Canada. The cause, however, has been the subject of debate. Many experts have said that cyanobacteria evolved to break down water between 3.8 billion and 2.7 billion years ago, too early to cause the deep freeze.

The Caltech team believes the answer lies in the movement of glaciers at the time around the middle latitudes of the planet, which in part is borne out by magnetic readings of the Canadian rocks. The glaciers scraped iron, phosphorous and other nutrients off existing rocks. These ran into the ocean and provided food for a massive algal bloom.

"We could still go into Snowball if we goof up the environment badly enough," Kirschvink said. "We haven't had a Snowball in the past 630 million years, and because the sun is warmer now it may be harder to get into the right condition. But if it ever happens, all life on Earth would likely be destroyed. We could probably get out only by becoming a runaway greenhouse planet like Venus."


Crooked science and Leftism go together: "We cannot let it go without note that while Darwin never falsified data, Marx did -- chronically. As early as the 1880s, Cambridge scholars demonstrated that Marx manipulated source materials "with a recklessness which is appalling ... to prove just the contrary of what they really establish." One example will suffice. He prophesied: "In proportion as capital accumulates, the lot of the laborer must grow worse. Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery ... at the opposite pole." But did the statistics for wages actually show workers growing poorer as their employers grew richer? Not at all, so in 1867's Das Kapital he jettisoned the contemporary figures and passed off as contemporary those from 1850."


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


8 August, 2005


The anti-pesticide crowd tried to scare parents last week with a new report alleging that pesticide use in schools is dangerous for students. Contrary to its authors' apparent intent, however, the report should actually serve to reduce any anxiety parents may have about pesticide use. Using data collected from several federal and state toxic exposure surveillance systems during the period 1998-2002, the researchers reported in the July 27 Journal of the American Medical Association an estimated 1,972 cases of school children allegedly made ill by pesticides -- an alleged incidence rate of 7.4 cases per million children. The report spurred the Associated Press headline, "Pesticides May be Sickening School Kids."

But assuming that the report's figures are anywhere close to being accurate -- and there's good reason to believe they are not -- they seem to indicate that of all the things parents and students need to worry about, pesticides should be very low on the list. I did some checking into school injury rates, and it seems that simply going to school is a pretty dangerous thing in general. According to an analysis of school injuries published in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine (April 2001), there were 43,881 school injuries that required emergency department or hospital admission for the years 1992-1996 -- and that was just in one state, Utah. That equates to an injury rate of about 3,300 per million children -- about 445 times greater than the alleged rate for pesticide incidents.

On a nationwide basis, the school injury statistics are much worse. According to a 1998 study in the American Journal of Public Health, "Each year, 3.7 million children suffer a substantial injury at school resulting in an estimated $3.2 billion in medical spending and $115 billion in good health lost." It would seem that the mere comparison of 3.7 million school injuries per year versus 394 pesticide-related injuries per year (1,972 injuries from 1998-2002 divided by five years) should quell any over-emphasis on pesticides as a risk in school, but there's more.

The researchers make the unsubstantiated claim that "these results should be considered low estimates of the magnitude of the problem because many cases of pesticide poisoning are likely not reported to surveillance systems or poison control centers." In fact, the opposite is more likely the case. The reported 1,972 cases of children made ill by pesticides are, in fact, largely unsubstantiated. Acknowledging the possibility of false-positives, the researchers stated that, "Given both the nonspecificity of the clinical findings of pesticide poisoning and the lack of a standard diagnostic test, some illnesses temporally related to pesticide exposures may be coincidental and not caused by these exposures."

That the actual number of children made ill by pesticides is somewhat less than claimed also wouldn't be surprising since the vast majority of reports of pesticide poisoning (87 percent according to the researchers) come into data collection centers directly from the patients or their relatives and are never verified by experts. Only 13 percent of reports come from physicians treating patients. The researchers also conveniently overlook the benefits of pesticide use, including the number of injuries avoided by use of disinfectants, insecticides, rodenticides, fungicides, repellants, and fumigants.

The researchers actually stated, "there is a need to reduce pesticide use." But properly applied pesticides are perfectly safe -- and necessary. Our children's health often depends on pesticide application. Children face serious health threats in schools from cockroaches, fire ants, bees, wasps, mosquitoes, poison oak and ivy, rats and mice. "It is not as though we were sending airplanes to fog the area around a school each time we treat for cockroaches," said Dan LaHart, environmental-issues program manager for the Anne Arundel County, Md. public schools. "Instead we take a hypodermic needle with a gel bait and inject it right into the cracks and crevices when a roach problem exists."

The researchers' bias against pesticides is evidenced by the inclusion as a co-author of long-time pesticide opponent Jerome Blondell of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, whose "research" on pesticide poisoning was rejected outright by federal court in 1998. An analysis authored by Blondell alleging that neurological injuries were caused by pesticides was excluded from evidence in a trial because, as the Court stated, "The Blondell Memoranda, consisting of anecdotal information gathered pursuant to a methodology not generally accepted in either the scientific or medical communities as a mechanism to establish a cause and effect relationship between chemical exposure and neurological health problems, lack sufficient probative value to render it appropriate for submission to the [jury]."

Pesticides provide significant health and safety benefits to school children with minimal (that is, near-zero) risk. I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to send my kid to school armed with a flyswatter and then to hope for the best.



(Andrew Marr is the BBC's Political Editor)

.... Speaking of which, there has been some rethinking about global warming that has made me squirm. I am not talking about whether climate change is happening - there seems to be just too much solid evidence that it is. No, the question is whether it is a disaster or a good thing, overall. There are serious scientists who point out that cooling down generally hurts biodiversity more than warming up; that climate change could help boost rainforest growth and spread trees and agriculture to new areas of the world; that the seas around us could seethe with new life; and that with the political will, global warming need not spread hunger or create impossible human disruption.

This is not the place, and I am not expert enough, to assess whether that is true or not. Selfishly, I'm more interested in my own reaction, which is queasy and half-appalled. At some level, the thought of looming environmental catastrophe gets me up in the morning, a pleasant dirge in my heart. Once, I needed looming nuclear disaster to keep interested. When that went, climate change came along just in time: any sneaking suspicion that everything might be all right after all is profoundly unsettling.

What's going on here? Is it native Scottish pessimism, getting close to my inner Private Frazer? Do some of us need the thought of impending disaster to keep going - as in Cavafy 's poem about a Roman city waiting for barbarian attack, which doesn't come: "Now what's going to happen to us without the barbarians? / They were, those people, a kind of solution." Or is it that journalists, with our notorious inability to contemplate boredom, simply find mild progress too dull? Ah well, if by any chance global warming does prove to be beneficial, there's always viral mutation.

(Excerpt from The Daily Telegraph, 15 June 2005)


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


7 August, 2005


(Most mercury in the environment is from natural sources)

An effort by environmental groups to block the Bush administration from implementing regulations on mercury pollution power plants was rejected by a federal appeals court. Without comment, Judges David Sentelle and Janice Rogers Brown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied a motion to halt immediately the regulations adopted in March by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The rules set a nationwide cap on mercury emissions from about 600 coal-burning power plants and puts a ceiling on allowable pollution for each state beginning in 2010. Individual plants, however, can avoid cleanups by buying pollution allowances from plants well under allowable limits.

Environmental and health advocacy groups plus 14 states have asked the appeals court to order EPA to rewrite the regulations to require that all plants install within the next three years the best available technology for cutting mercury pollution. In the meantime they asked the judges to set aside the regulations until the case can be heard. Sentelle and Brown refused to do that in an order filed late Thursday.

"The court's denial in no way diminishes the strength of our appeal," said Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the New Jersey attorney general's office. "We do expect to prevail on the merits." Other states challenging EPA's rules are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wisconsin. Advocacy groups Environmental Defense, National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club say EPA's regulations, written with the help of industry lobbyists, should force power plants to install technology to capture mercury emissions.

EPA officials maintain that the agency's approach will reduce mercury pollution from power plants in half by 2020, from 48 tons a year now to 24.3 tons, and eventually by 70 percent. "Obviously, it's a big win for us and means we can proceed with our rule," said Jeff Holmstead, EPA's assistant administrator for air and radiation. "It's the first time any country has regulated mercury emissions from power plants." EPA estimates 300,000 babies born each year may have more risk of learning disabilities because of mercury concentrations in the blood of their mothers from eating fish from all over the world. "There's virtually no relationship between the number of children born with potentially elevated levels of mercury and U.S. power plants," Holmstead said. "It's only a very, very small number of people who are affected by local mercury depositions."


Way, Way Beyond Kyoto

In a surprise move that caught Europe's smug moralists and the environmental movement's noisy extremists flatfooted, the United States announced in Vientiane, Laos, last week that it was joining five other nations - China, India, Japan, South Korea and Australia -- in a new pact that offers a refreshing and effective alternative route to tackling the problem of climate change.

While given short shrift by the puzzled media, this is a big deal, in many ways. First, it breaks the climate-change deadlock. This is the agreement that responsible scientists and public officials have been seeking since the failure of the Kyoto Protocol became evident at the global warming conclave in Delhi two years ago. Call it "Beyond Kyoto" - Way Beyond Kyoto.

Second, the new deal was negotiated and settled without the involvement of the United Nations or the European Union - a clear message from the United States that multilateralism does not have a single definition. In fact, according to The Guardian newspaper, the agreement - called the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate -- was kept secret by President Bush from British Prime Minister Tony Blair, an uncompromising champion of Kyoto, during last month's G8 meeting" in Scotland.

Third, the agreement comprises countries that account for 45% of the world's population and about half the world's economic output and greenhouse gas emissions, mainly carbon dioxide, implicated in raising surface temperatures. More Asian countries may soon join the pact.

Fourth and most important, it takes a pro-growth approach to combating the possibility of global warming in the century ahead. The new Beyond Kyoto agreement focuses on innovative technology as the antidote, not only to carbon-dioxide emissions but also to dirty air and economic deprivation. The very first statement in the pact is: "Development and poverty eradication are urgent and overriding goals internationally."

That's a stark contrast with Kyoto's preference for hard CO2 targets, met through government directives, to reduce energy use. Development is an afterthought. Even its staunchest supporters now recognize that Kyoto, signed in 1997 and officially ratified last year, has no future. Many of the world's most prolific emitters of greenhouse gases, including China, India and South Korea, were exempt from the requirements of the protocol. The US and Australia have rejected it. And even noisy advocates, like France, Italy and Canada, are nowhere close to meeting the treaty's targets. The EU's emissions rose 3.6% between 2001 and 2004 (those in the US fell). To reach Kyoto's drastic goal of cutting emissions by 2012 to levels 5% below those of 1990, developed nations have no choice but to slash energy use. That means slower growth, even widespread recession, with especially dire consequences not just for rich nations, but, worse, for poor nations that rely on demand from the developed world for their goods and services.

The Beyond Kyoto pact, by contrast, seeks to "address energy, climate change and air pollution issues within a paradigm of economic development." Specifically, the deal will concentrate on the technology that will help China and India, especially, to increase the efficiency of their energy use. Currently, these countries produce twice as many emissions as the US for each unit of GDP. A major focus will be clean-coal technology. The US is the Saudi Arabia of coal, with the world's largest supply, and China and Australia are also large producers and users. The deal also seeks more alternatives to fossil fuels with both low emissions and high efficiency - not just nuclear, wind, even biotechnology and nanotechnology.

Many professional environmentalists, for whom Kyoto is a matter of religious fervor, are disarmed and dismayed. "There's really nothing new here," said Jeff Fielder, an analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York. Fielder is right in one respect. The Bush administration has been quietly signing bilateral agreements for technology sharing for years now. But Vientiane is, absolutely, a new comprehensive approach to climate, and the Greens don't want to acknowledge its clear validity. "I think this is aimed at complicating the Montreal talks," Fielder added, referring to the 11th annual conference on global warming four months from now.

I've been to four of these extravaganzas - huge wastes of money and time. I am looking forward to Montreal, though. With the future-fearing Europeans bypassed by growth-loving Americans, Australians and Asians, there's a whole new world opening Beyond Kyoto.



Effects of Elevated CO2 on Forest Leaf Damage Produced by Insect Herbivores

Increases in per capita consumption of foliage by insect herbivores in CO2-enriched air have periodically been observed in laboratory and greenhouse studies (Bezemer and Jones, 1998; Coviella and Trumble, 1999; Hunter, 2001), leading to periodic claims that earth's forests will suffer severely at the mandibles of ravenous hordes of leaf-chewing insects in the years and decades to come, unless, of course, something is done to stop the ongoing rise in the atmosphere's CO2 concentration. However, as Knepp et al. (2005) have recently pointed out, these observations do not necessarily imply there will be increased insect herbivory in native forest communities in a CO2-enriched world of the future, citing the findings of Hamilton et al. (2004) in support of this contention; and they go on to describe the results of a study they conducted in just such a community using free-air carbon dioxide enrichment (FACE) technology to further explore the subject.

In the Knepp et al. study, leaf damage by chewing insects was quantified on saplings of twelve species of hardwood trees growing in the understory of a 17-year-old (in 2000) loblolly pine plantation in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, USA, where three 30-m-diameter FACE plots have been continuously enriched with an extra 200 ppm of CO2 and three identical control plots have been similarly exposed to ambient air since 1996. Leaf damage was measured on seven species - Acer rubrum L. (red maple), Cercis Canadensis L. (redbud), Liquidambar styraciflua L. (sweetgum), Prunus serotina Ehrh. (black cherry), Quercus alba L. (white oak), Quercus phellos L. (willow oak), and Ulmus alata Michx. (winged elm) - in 2001, 2002 and 2003, while five additional species - Acer barbatum Michx. (sugar maple), Liriodendron tulipifera L. (yellow poplar), Quercus rubra L. (red oak), Quercus velutina Lam. (black oak) and Robinia pseudo-acacia L. (black locust) - were included in 2001 and 2003.

The six scientists involved in the work report that "across the seven species that were measured in each of the three years, elevated CO2 caused a reduction in the percentage of leaf area removed by chewing insects," noting that "the percentage of leaf tissue damaged by insect herbivores was 3.8% per leaf under ambient CO2 and 3.3% per leaf under elevated CO2." Greatest effects were observed in 2001, when they report that "across 12 species the average damage per leaf under ambient CO2 was 3.1% compared with 1.7% for plants under elevated CO2," which was "indicative of a 46% decrease in the total area and total mass of leaf tissue damaged by chewing insects in the elevated CO2 plots."

What was responsible for these highly positive results? Knepp et al. say that "given the consistent reduction in herbivory under high CO2 across species in 2001, it appears that some universal feature of chemistry or structure that affected leaf suitability was altered by the treatment." Another possibility they discuss is that "forest herbivory may decrease under elevated CO2 because of a decline in the abundance of chewing insects," citing the observations of Stilling et al. (2002) to this effect and noting that "slower rates of development under elevated CO2 prolongs the time that insect herbivores are susceptible to natural enemies, which may be abundant in open-top chambers and FACE experiments but absent from greenhouse experiments." In addition, they suggest that "decreased foliar quality and increased per capita consumption under elevated CO2 may increase exposure to toxins and insect mortality," also noting that "CO2-induced changes in host plant quality directly decrease insect fecundity," citing the work of Coviella and Trumble (1999) and Awmack and Leather (2002).

So what's the bottom line with respect to the outlook for earth's forests in a high-CO2 world of the future? In their concluding paragraph, Knepp et al. say that "in contrast to the view that herbivore damage will increase under elevated CO2 as a result of compensatory feeding on lower quality foliage, our results and those of Stiling et al. (2002) and Hamilton et al. (2004) in open experimental systems suggest that damage to trees may decrease."



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


6 August, 2005


I am hoping that my recent practice of putting up parts of actual scientific papers rather than journalistic summaries of them is not making life too difficult for those who read this blog. Actual scientific papers are in general far more sober and cautious than the accounts of them that one reads in the press. Even if readers don't understand the full argument of a given paper, the overall conclusion of the paper is generally pretty clear. Today I am putting up summaries or abstracts (an abstract is the paper's own summary of itself) from three papers. The abstract immediately below shows that melting of the antarctic ice-cap was the key to the end of the last ice age, so what the antarctic is doing is what we should be looking at if we are worried about any global warming effects. So it is more than a little interesting that the summaries of the next two papers show that the antarctic is COOLING overall!

Ice Sheet and Solid Earth Influences on Far-Field Sea-Level Histories

By: Sophie E. Bassett [1], Glenn A. Milne [2], Jerry X. Mitrovica [2], Peter U. Clark [3]. 1 Department of Earth Sciences, University of Durham, Durham DH1 3LE, UK. 2 Department of Physics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A7, Canada. 3 Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.


Previous predictions of sea-level change subsequent to the last glacial maximum show significant, systematic discrepancies between observations at Tahiti, Huon Peninsula, and Sunda Shelf during Lateglacial time (14,000 to 9000 calibrated years before the present). We demonstrate that a model of glacial isostatic adjustment characterized by both a high-viscosity lower mantle (4 x 1022 Pa s) and a large contribution from the Antarctic ice sheet to meltwater pulse IA (15-meters eustatic equivalent) resolves these discrepancies. This result supports arguments that an early and rapid Antarctic deglaciation contributed to a sequence of climatic events that ended the most recent glacial period of the current ice age.

Doi (permanent) address for the above paper here


(From CO2 Science Magazine, 15 June 2005)

In an important new paper, Davis et al. (2005) analyze the elevation change (dH) of over 8.5 million km2 of the grounded Antarctic ice sheet interior (~70% of the total ice-sheet area) using ~347 million dH measurements derived from ERS-1 and ERS-2 ice-mode satellite radar altimeter data (with coverage extending to 81.6oS) for the period 1992 to 2003, after which they compare the observed elevation changes of ~1500 1o x 2o (latitude x longitude) regions, 22 major drainage basins, Berkner Island, West and East Antarctica, and the entire region of coverage (ROC) to estimates of concomitant snowfall derived from meteorological models.

The primary result of this exercise revealed, in the words of the five scientists who conducted the work, that "the vast majority of regions in East Antarctica are thickening, especially in the interior, while regions in West Antarctica exhibit both strong thickening and thinning trends." At the basin scale, as they continue, "dH/dt values range from 0 to +6 cm/year for East Antarctica, while there is substantial spatial variability in West Antarctica with dH/dt values ranging from -10 to +19 cm/year." Overall, they report that the East Antarctic ice sheet interior within the ROC is thickening at a rate of 1.8  0.3 cm/year, while that of the West Antarctic ice sheet interior is thinning at a rate of 0.9  0.3 cm/year. For the entire ROC, the 5:1 ratio of East to West Antarctic area coverage "causes slight thickening overall at the rate of 1.4  0.3 cm/year."

[...] There are many implications of these various observations that remain to be determined. At this point in time, however, we can safely conclude that the climate-alarmist claim of dramatic global flooding of earth's coastal areas in response to the melting of polar ice due to global warming has been thoroughly discredited, for during the period of time that they claim the planet experienced the warmest temperatures of the past two millennia, Antarctica experienced a net buildup of ice that actually removed water from earth's seas.


CO2 Science Magazine, 15 June 2005

[...] Over the latter part of the 20th century, i.e., the period of time that climate alarmists claim was host to the most dramatic global warming of the past two millennia, fully 80% of the Antarctic coastal stations with sufficiently long temperature records reveal either (1) an intensification of cooling or (2) a reduced rate of warming; while four coastal sites and one interior site actually shifted from warming to cooling. And this has occurred in one of the planet's two high-latitude polar regions where CO2-induced global warming is predicted to be most strongly expressed. Clearly, there is a serious disconnect between reality and the virtual world of climate alarmists.

Turner, J., Colwell, S.R., Marshall, G.J., Lachlan-Cope, T.A., Carleton, A.M., Jones, P.D., Lagun, V., Reid, P.A. and Iagovkina, S. 2004. "The SCAR READER project: towards a high-quality database of mean Antarctic meteorological observations". Journal of Climate 17: 2890-2898.


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


5 August, 2005


An email to Benny Peiser from David Lips ( about the report posted here on 29th July -- which showed that sea-levels in the Maldive islands were FALLING -- much to the puzzlement of the Greenies

In the year 2000, my wife and I snorkeled in the Maldives. We took a long boat ride from the capital island to the reef. En route I spoke with interpreters about the issue of sea level rise. Having heard for years that rising sea levels were endangering the low islands that form the Maldives, I wanted to get the observations of people who lived there -- and particularly of people who spoke English since I assumed that they were more educated than were most other members of the population. Our boat had different interpreters for the journeys coming and going. So I had long conversations with two natives who were out of hearing of each other. I made it a point to ask open-ended, objective questions and not to indicate any personal views during our discussions.

Given these precautions, I was surprised that the two people I spoke with gave virtually identical accounts. I first asked each of them generally whether sea levels had risen. Both affirmed that they had. One of the interpreters told me that "a scientist" had discovered that global warming had caused this gradual rise. I then asked each of them what they had noticed during their lifetimes. (Each man seemed to be in his mid- to late-20's.) Both told me that they had seen islands from their youth slowly covered by water. As they described this process, however, they said that new islands had also formed during the same time. They reflected that in the Maldives islands were in a constant state of formation and submersion. When I asked which state was more predominant -- were more islands being submerged than were being formed? -- neither man could say.

This exchange was enlightening. Both men were subject to making sweeping statements based on what they had apparently heard from others about sea level rise and its presumed link to global warming. But when they were asked about their own observations, they noticed that the evidence was far more complicated and tended not to sway in one direction or another. When I read the article defending the 'orthodox' view that global warming threatens the Maldives and the more modest claims by those who have studied the area intensively on just this question, I got a strange sense of deja vu.


Standard electric hot water systems will be banned in new Queensland houses from March next year. But the State Government has stopped short of mandating rainwater tanks in all new houses as part of its long-awaited measures to reduce energy and water use. Environment Minister Desley Boyle yesterday confirmed new house plans approved from March 1 next year would have to include dual-flush toilets, water-efficient shower roses, water pressure-limiting devices and energy-efficient lighting.

The Government also has decided to ban standard electric hot water systems which continuously heat water in new homes, in favour of solar, gas or electric heat pump systems which use significantly less energy. Units, townhouses and bathroom renovations will also have to install the shower roses and dual-flush toilets, but existing homes will not have to comply with the measures.

Developers and environmentalists have generally welcomed the changes which Ms Boyle predicted would add between $1000 and $2000 to the cost of a new home. "However, prices will come down as these are mandated and developers buy in bulk," she said. "There will also be ongoing savings for homeowners on their power and water bills. "Just the energy efficiency devices in every new home in Queensland over 12 years will have such an impact that it will save us building a small, coal-fired power station." Urban Development Institute of Australia state president Peter Sherrie said the Government had been "balanced and reasoned" in implementing new standards.



Most of New Zealand's pollution is caused by millions of farting sheep anyway. Kill all those sheep!

Judging by New Zealand's predicament, we were wise not to sign up for Kyoto. Our Kiwi neighbours, once smug about ecological superiority, face a cost blow-out from the treaty exceeding $NZ1 billion ($900 million). Kyoto has become an election issue in New Zealand, with the Opposition Nationals contemplating pulling out of the agreement. The farcical result is that even though the country produces only 0.2 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases, it is to be punished as if it were a big polluter because it is unlikely to meet its emission targets. The Government has admitted it will exceed its Kyoto target by 36 million tonnes of carbon dioxide between 2008 and 2012.

In their enthusiasm for the project, New Zealand officials miscalculated carbon dioxide inputs and outputs, claiming there would be a net profit in carbon credits from the treaty. They reportedly counted some forests twice and didn't account for increased car use due to a booming economy. So, instead of profiting by being a global green goodie, it will have to buy carbon credits to meet the shortfall, which will cost as much as $NZ1.2 billion, a report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers says. Worse, a consultant's report released by the industry group Business New Zealand last year calculated a future liability of as much as $NZ14 billion under the protocol over the next 20 years.

To cap it all off, the new market in carbon credits has led to threats to the environment, such as a plan to dam the tiny Waitahuna River in the South Island, where water would be pumped uphill into a nearby hydro-electric scheme; there is little energy upside but the plan would still attract carbon credits because it creates "clean" hydro energy.

As carbon has taken its place in the derivatives market alongside pork belly futures and stock options, trading has "exploded", reports Bloomberg. It is tipped to become the biggest financial market in the world. Prices this year in Europe more than quadrupled from just over 6 Euros ($10) a tonne in January to almost 30 Euros in July. But the complexities of this new market which Kyoto has spawned don't seem to have provided much environmental advantage. Carbon trading just shifts the responsibility for pollution around the globe, with brokers skimming off fat commissions. A 2002 study by the non-profit Clean Air Trust of three similar pollution trading schemes in the US found they were a "dismal failure". They did not produce environmental benefits, stifled innovation in pollution controls, and led to delays and secrecy.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, last week declared Kyoto a dismal failure, too. He has set Australia's sights on a new climate change pact with the US, Japan, China, India and South Korea, the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which will meet in Adelaide in November. The aim of the new group is to cut emissions by encouraging new technologies rather than curtailing economic growth. And since the US produces 20.6 per cent of global greenhouse emissions, and China 14.8 per cent, according to the Pew Centre on Global Climate Change, any treaty that includes the two nations is already ahead of one that doesn't. (Australia produces just 1.4 per cent.)

But green groups have already claimed the new pact is a "convention of polluters" designed to wreck Kyoto and pander to the coal industry. Meanwhile Greenpeace doesn't see New Zealand's billion-dollar Kyoto blow-out as a problem, demanding the nation "reduce its emissions urgently". Stop driving cars, Kiwis, or move to Mosman [in Australia].



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


4 August, 2005


California's San Joaquin Valley for some time has had the dirtiest air in the country. Monday, officials said gases from ruminating dairy cows, not exhaust from cars, are the region's biggest single source of a chief smog-forming pollutant. Every year, the average dairy cow produces 19.3 pounds of gases, called volatile organic compounds, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District said. Those gases react with other pollutants to form ground-level ozone, or smog. With 2.5 million dairy cows - roughly one of every five in the country - emissions of almost 20 pounds per cow mean that cattle in the San Joaquin Valley produce more organic compounds than are generated by either cars or trucks or pesticides, the air district said. The finding will serve as the basis for strict air-quality regulations on the region's booming dairy industry.

The San Joaquin Valley, Houston and Los Angeles have the three worst air-pollution problems in America. Their relative rank varies from year to year depending in part on weather conditions. Over the last six years, however, the San Joaquin Valley has violated the federal limit on ozone smog over an eight-hour period more than any other region. That "eight-hour standard" is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's main barometer for the severity of smog.

The dairy industry will be forced to invest millions of dollars in expensive pollution-control technology in feedlots and waste lagoons, and may even have to consider altering animals' diets to meet the region's planned air-quality regulations. Not surprisingly, industry officials challenged the estimate as scientifically unsound. "Science is supposed to guide this regulation, not fairy dust," said Michael Marsh, chief executive officer of Western United Dairymen, a lobbying group that said it was considering a lawsuit to block regulations based on the new finding. "It's impossible to capture emissions that scientists can't even detect."

Air-quality regulators defended their estimate as a conservative one based on the best available research. But it was criticized by some scientists - including one whose work was used by the district to arrive at the figure. "If you closed all the dairies in California tomorrow, you would not see much of an impact on ozone formation," said the scientist, Frank Mitloehner of UC Davis, who was hired by air-quality officials to study cow emissions and now contends his findings were misconstrued. "We really don't have the science to back this number up," he said.

Five members of Congress and 12 state legislators had demanded that the district reconsider a similar draft estimate, calling it absurdly high. Environmentalists and some community groups, meanwhile, called the same figure too low. The entire exercise of estimating cow emissions has been lampooned on talk radio as "fart science" run amok -although most gas actually comes from the front end of the cow. "I'd like to challenge the people that came up with this information to enclose yourself in a shop with a cow, and at the same time have someone enclose themselves in a similar shop with a car or truck running," one critic, Steve Hofman of Ripon, Calif., wrote to the Modesto Bee. "Then let me know the results."

Cars do emit many significant pollutants that cows do not, and they are responsible for more smog-forming emissions overall. But in a region where many children suffer from asthma and officials issue smog warnings on hot summer days, supporters of strong regulations said the role of cows in emitting organic gases is no laughing matter. "This is not some arcane dispute about cow gases," said Brent Newell, an attorney for the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment. "We are talking about a public health crisis. It's not funny to joke about cow burps and farts when one in six children in Fresno schools is carrying an inhaler."

The dairy industry is growing fast in the San Joaquin Valley as farms driven out of the Chino area in Southern California by urbanization move into the Central Valley. Government officials estimate that over the next several years, the number of cows in the San Joaquin air basin will increase from 2.5 million to about 2.9 million.

Although air-quality officials now have a figure on the extent of the cow pollution problem, it remained unclear how far they could push dairies to reduce bovine emissions. Most of the gases, scientists believe, come from the bovine digestive process, which consists of constantly swallowing and regurgitating food. This is known as rumination, or "chewing the cud," which produces large amounts of gas.

Cow manure is also a major source of emissions and will probably be targeted for regulation. Officials said they may also require dairies to alter the food cows eat in order to reduce flatulence. New dairies will be required to use the best available equipment to curtail emissions. Existing dairies will face less-restrictive requirements, but will also be forced to make changes to reduce cow gases.

Possible measures include scraping manure from cow corrals more frequently so it won't fester in the heat and installing digesters to break down pollution in the lagoons where cow waste is later flushed. "We need immediate regulation now. We know the pollutants are coming off these dairies," said Tom Frantz, a native of Shafter, Calif., who heads a group called the Assn. of Irritated Residents. He says that he developed asthma in the last five years as factory dairy farms moved into the region. "Ag hasn't been regulated in the past, but times are changing. Our lungs will not become an agricultural subsidy."


Steven Hayward comments:

"Guess what? Cows are now a larger source of pollution than cars in California's central valley, which still have a significant smog problem. So says a terrific story in today's Los Angeles Times, by Miguel Bustillo, one of the better environmental beat reporters in the country. Once again, we see another vindication of Ronald Reagan's much ridiculed view that there were lots of natural (or non-human) sources of smog. About 15 years ago the LA smog regulators did a study of emissions from trees, and concluded that they might not be able to meet the Clean Air Act targets for the LA basin unless they began to regulate . . . landscaping. The LA Times reported this quite well; It turned out that Japanese trees were lower-emitting trees than native American trees. The head of Tree People, a local tree-planting group, told the Times that they were very concerned, but would be sure to make sure that their members "planted low-emitting trees." Evelyn Waugh could hardly have written better satire."


With the recent bombings in London, most concerns about terrorist strikes on the US focus on the jihadist movement. But the next major terrorist strike in the US could come from an unexpected direction -- the extremist animal rights and environmental movements. According to FBI Deputy Assistant Director John Lewis, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) are "one of today's most serious domestic terrorism threats." Skeptics, including The New York Times editorial page, argue that this threat is over hyped as these groups have confined themselves to property crime, unlike the well-established record of deadly right-wing terrorism. But waiting for terrorist groups to turn to murder is pre-9/11 thinking and the growing violence and sophistication of ALF and ELF are worrisome. The FBI's Lewis testified to the Senate: "Attacks are also growing in frequency and size. Harassing phone calls and vandalism now co-exist with improvised explosive devices and personal threats to employees. . Extremists of these movements adhere to strict security measures in both their communications and their operations."

The membership is well educated with many graduate students in their ranks. ALF and ELF are a non-hierarchical group with self-forming autonomous cells that are in one-way contact with the "press offices." The press offices provide ideological and practical guidance and participate in conferences where members can be recruited and trained. Cells, in turn, report actions to the press offices by anonymous e-mail. Closing the press offices has limited utility, since it is easy to start another website while breaking up a cell has minimal impact on the movement as a whole. These are not the operations of amateur coffeehouse revolutionaries, but of a sophisticated underground network of dedicated members.

Equally troubling, the internal rhetoric of the movement is shifting. Traditionally ALF freed lab and farm animals, insisting that they would never purposefully harm a human. But affiliated groups in Europe have beaten opponents, and Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn's assassin was an animal rights activist. At an August 2003 Animal Rights Conference in Los Angeles, an ALF spokesman, Dr. Jerry Vlasak, stated: "I think there is a use for violence in our movement. And I think it can be an effective strategy. Not only is it morally acceptable. . I don't think you'd have to kill -- assassinate -- too many vivisectors before you would see a marked decrease in the amount of vivisection going on." When an audience member stated that this was the same as the pro-life movement killing abortionists, Vlasak responded, "Absolutely, I think they've had a great strategy going."

The ALF and ELF worldview is also expanding. Their rhetoric (which can be read on a number of websites including has become infused with Marxist and anarchist ideology, criticizing the familiar litany of globalization, American imperialism and capitalism. In March 2003, just before the Iraq war, ELF ideologue Craig Rosebraugh called for, "strategies and tactics which severely disrupt the war machine, the U.S. economy, and the overall functioning of U.S. society." In his book, The Logic of Political Violence, Rosebraugh wrote: "[R]evolution in the United States . cannot be successful without the implementation of violence." Transferring ALF's and ELF's enemies from particular industries and companies to society as a whole could inspire larger scale terrorist attacks.

ALF and ELF could also link with international terrorists as they have affiliates in Europe and connections to the radical left internationally. Daniel Andreas San Diego (who is on the FBI's most wanted list for a series of attempted 2003 bombings of animal research facilities) demonstrated this kinship when he sent an e-mail claiming credit for the bombings that ended with a salute to international terrorists, including the Real IRA, Columbia's FARC and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (which is closely linked with the Islamist terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah). Such links would increase ELF and ALF capabilities and radicalism and could lead to Americans being recruited to international terrorist groups.

Domestic terrorism from the right has been far more deadly than domestic terrorism from the left and law enforcement has responded appropriately. Rightwing extremist groups are monitored and infiltrated. But ALF and ELF have been less vulnerable to law enforcement countermeasures, consequently they are more likely to undertake a major operation successfully. Downplaying the threat of ALF and ELF by arguing that these groups have not yet perpetrated Oklahoma City type attacks ignores the seminal lesson of 9/11. These groups need to be stopped before they turn to large-scale violence.



(From Advances in Water Resources, Article in Press. "Comments on "Evidence for global runoff increase related to climate warming"" by Labat et al.)

By: David R. Legates a), Harry F. Lins b) and Gregory J. McCabe c) a) Center for Climatic Research, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716-2541, USA b) U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA 20192-0002, USA c) U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO 80225-0046, USA


We have examined the evidence presented by Labat et al. and found that (1) their claims for a 4% increase in global runoff arising from a 1 øC increase in air temperature and (2) that their article provides the "first experimental data-based evidence demonstrating the link between the global warming and the intensification of the global hydrological cycle" are not supported by the data presented. Our conclusions are based on the facts that (1) their discharge records exhibit non-climatic influences and trends, (2) their work cannot refute previous studies finding no relation between air temperature and runoff, (3) their conclusions cannot explain relations before 1925, and (4) the statistical significance of their results hinges on a single data point that exerts undue influence on the slope of the regression line. We argue that Labat et al. have not provided sufficient evidence to support their claim for having detected increases in global runoff resulting from climate warming.

Article Outline
1. Use of discharge records that reflect non-climatic trends
2. Documented lack of a relation between streamflow and air temperature in previous studies
3. Inappropriate estimation of data to fill gaps in long-term streamflow records
4. Selection of the time period analyzed and lack of explanation for relationships before 1925
5. Regression and the presence of an influence point
6. Summary & References

A recent article by Labat et al. [5] suggests observational evidence for a correlation between global annual temperature and runoff exists; specifically, that a 4% increase in global runoff has resulted from a 1 øC increase in global temperature. These results vary by continent, however, from a negative trend over Africa to a pronounced positive trend for North America-but most continents exhibit a statistically significant trend. It is postulated that increasing temperatures lead to increased oceanic evaporation and, consequently, increased terrestrial precipitation and continental runoff. The Labat et al. paper [5] claims, "this contribution provides the first experimental data-based evidence demonstrating the link between the global warming and the intensification of the global hydrological cycle" (p. 641). If true, this result has profound implications for our understanding of climate change mechanisms and for finding a direct link between changes in the energy and water balances.

A long-standing discussion has argued that an increase in global air temperatures might lead to increased runoff due to increased precipitation (as suggested by Labat et al.) or decreased runoff due to increased continental evaporation rates and hence continental drying. Labat et al.'s results strongly argue that increased precipitation would outweigh the increase in evapotranspiration. Labat et al. [5] have tried to address a complicated problem for which too few data and too many confounding effects exist. Therefore, we believe that the conclusions reached by Labat et al. [5] are incorrect owing to a number of concerns. In particular, their analysis (1) uses discharge records that exhibit non-climatic trends, (2) does not attempt to refute previous studies that found no relation between air temperature and runoff, (3) inappropriately estimates data to fill gaps in long-term streamflow records, (4) does not explain relations before 1925, and (5) is based on regression results that are adversely affected by a single influence point. We address each of these issues, as well as additional concerns in the manuscript, below.


6. Summary

In their recent article, Labat et al. [5] have made two strong claims. First, using data from 1926 through 1994, they claim that a 4% increase in global runoff has arisen from a 1 øC increase in global air temperature. We strongly question that claim based on the fact that the 221 discharge records used by Labat et al. include anthropogenic changes on the watershed to varying degrees, thus biasing the data. Verifying that the data used are truly 'climate-sensitive' is the only way to ensure that variations in runoff are truly reflective of climatic variations and are devoid of confounding anthropogenic influences. Moreover, their conclusions cannot explain relations before 1925, and the statistical significance of their result is based on a single observation that exerts undue influence on the slope of the regression line. Their second claim is that their article provides the "first experimental data-based evidence demonstrating the link between the global warming and the intensification of the global hydrological cycle". Other studies have attempted to analyze relations between changes in air temperature and other components of the hydrologic cycle. Labat et al. [5] have not proven why their work overcomes the conclusions of and contradicts seminal papers on the subject [4]. We therefore conclude that, contrary to their arguments, Labat et al. have not provided sufficient evidence to support their claim for the existence of a relation between air temperature and runoff or that increases in global runoff have resulted from climate warming.

Doi (permanent) address for the above paper here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


3 August, 2005


Fears that chemical byproducts resulting from purifying drinking water with chlorine boost the chances that pregnant women will miscarry were not supported by the results of a major new study. If such threats exist at all, which is uncertain, they likely are modest, it concludes. The national study, directed by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill scientists, contrasts with earlier, less detailed work done in Northern California and published in 1998. That research suggested an association between byproducts known as trihalomethanes and loss of pregnancy. "We think our new work should be an important contribution to policy studies," said principal investigator Dr. David A. Savitz of the UNC School of Public Health. "While it is not the final answer, what we found is largely reassuring relative to what had come before. "The vast majority of the U.S. population is living with these exposures to drinking water byproducts," Savitz said. "If they clearly increased women’s miscarriage rates, that would be a very big, very expensive problem to solve. Reducing exposure would be quite expensive for the water utilities and ultimately their customers." The methods used in the new work make it the most ambitious and sophisticated study ever done on this issue, he said.

Savitz, Cary C. Boshamer distinguished professor and chair of epidemiology, and colleagues released a report on the investigation today. The American Water Works Association Research Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit research group, sponsored it. Others involved include Dr. Philip C. Singer, professor of environmental sciences and engineering and co-principal investigator, and Drs. Katherine E. Hartmann of obstetrics and gynecology and epidemiology, Amy H. Herring of biostatistics and Howard S. Weinberg of environmental sciences and engineering.

The scientists selected and repeatedly tested three properly functioning water purification facilities, including one with moderate levels of chlorinated disinfection byproducts, one with moderate levels of brominated disinfection byproducts and one with low levels of all disinfection byproducts. None of the utilities was selected because of water quality or health problems. Between December 2000 and April 2004, the team recruited 3,132 women in the three areas who were planning a pregnancy or who had been pregnant for fewer than 12 weeks. They collected extensive information on the volunteers, including their patterns of water use such as drinking and bathing and what later happened with their pregnancies and births. Among tests the women underwent were ultrasound examinations to collect more detailed information about their pregnancies. Researchers then, after adjusting for such factors as age, education, alcohol use and prior pregnancy histories, analyzed the data to see what effects the byproduct compounds might have had on pregnancy loss (miscarriage).

The study uncovered no clear-cut evidence that trihalomethanes harmed women or their developing infants and as a result differed significantly from the Northern California research, Savitz said. The new work did suggest that brominated compounds and total organic halides at normal-range levels in purified drinking water might modestly increase the risk of miscarriages among pregnant women. "These latter findings suggest that we or others should take a closer look at individual and groups of chemicals that might have a negative effect on pregnancy," he said. "I don’t want to downplay those findings and say they were perfectly reassuring because they were not. But overall -- on balance -- I’d say this work moves the evidence in a reassuring direction and should serve to lessen concerns."

Because of the overall negative results, he and his colleagues do not plan to make policy recommendations to water managers and municipalities, he said. If possible, future comparable studies ought to include methods for determining actual exposures to purification byproducts more accurately. "We also looked at exposure to these chemicals in relation to preterm births and did not find an association," Savitz said. "If anything, we found the opposite -- that higher-exposure populations had slightly lower risks. There was some indication, however, that reduced fetal growth might be associated with higher exposure levels."

More here

Half-Baked Alaska

The inexorable drumbeat of climate disaster stories goes on, but no one seems interested in checking the facts. The most recent assault on common sense comes from Alaska. There, Republican senators Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski are said to be favoring onerous climate change legislation sponsored by Arizona's John McCain. McCain thinks he can ride global warming all the way to the 2008 presidential nomination, by grabbing the horde of green-leaning California and Pacific Coast delegates that will be off-limits to his Southern competition, Bill Frist (Tennessee) and George Allen (Virginia), who oppose McCain's expensive, ineffective bill.

McCain's bill will do absolutely nothing measurable about global warming for the foreseeable future. It's nicknamed "Kyoto Lite" in Washington, because it is an imitation of the infamous Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Even Al Gore's scientists conceded that, over 50 years, with full participation by every nation involved, the change in global temperature caused by Kyoto would be a teeny thirteen-hundredths of a degree, an amount impossibly small to measure. Given that McCain's staff surely knows this fact, the hidden agenda for his presidential strategy becomes obvious.

McCain's bill only went down 55-43 on Halloween, 2003, so the addition of Alaska's two conservative Republicans is ominously significant, and, as we say in academic circles, counterfactual. Stevens and Murkowski are largely concerned that the Inuit (to old timers, "Eskimo") culture is being damaged by warming. Alaska has been peopled for at least 12,000 years. Within the last 12 millennia, there have been plenty of periods when it was warmer than today, and the culture flourished. Apparently it was too much effort for the Alaska senators' staffers to consult relevant articles in the refereed scientific literature. The most important is a landmark study, "Holocene [post ice-age] thermal maximum in the western Arctic," published last year by 30 eminent scientists whose specialty is past climate. It appeared in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews. The article notes that Alaska averaged three degrees Fahrenheit warmer for 2000 years, from 9,000 to 11,000 years ago. Concurrently, the first civilization radiated forward.

There's another article on Alaskan climate history for the last 2000 years, published by Feng Sheng Hu in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It notes that there have been three similarly warm periods in Alaska, from A.D. 0 to 300, 850-1200, and 1800 to present. (Note that humans had no influence on global temperature 200 years ago).

And what of the present? Brian Hartman and Gerd Wendler, of the Alaska-taxpayer-funded Alaska Climate Research Center, have written extensively on this subject. They are particularly interested in something called the "Great Pacific Climate Shift," a sudden and dramatic warming that occurred in a one-year period around 1976. Here's what they have written: When analyzing the total time period from 1951-2001, warming is observed, however the 25-year trend analyses before 1976 (1951-1975) and thereafter (1977-2001) both display cooling.

That's right. The mean Alaskan temperature has been declining for the last quarter-century. All of the warming is determined by a one-year, mysterious "burp" in the temperature of the Pacific Ocean. Is that due to human activity? Search the scientific literature for a computer model of human influence on climate that says it occurs all at once, in a single year. You won't find one reference.

It is a shame that Stevens' and Murkowski's staffers didn't do this rudimentary research. If a few more senators shift their votes on McCain's global warming bill, the nation could be saddled with an expensive piece of legislation that will have no effect on the purported problem it purports to solve. It's a double shame because the known behavior of Alaskan climate is not unusual by historical standards, and even shows a net cooling in the last 25 years, the so-called era of human warming.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


2 August, 2005


Millions of pounds in overseas aid are wasted every year planting trees in dry countries in the belief that they help attract rainfall and act as storage for water, scientists said yesterday. In fact, forests usually increase evaporation and help to reduce the amount of water available for human consumption or growing crops, according to a four-year study. Research on water catchments on three continents says it is "a myth" that trees always increase the availability of water.

Even the cloud forests of tropical Costa Rica had less effect in stripping water out of clouds than previously assumed, according to the study, funded by the Department for International Development. In one part of a large study, Sampurno Bruijnzeel, of the Free University of Amsterdam and one of the world's leading experts on tropical forests, measured the overall amount of water flowing from wet, forested catchments in Costa Rica and found there was no more water than was flowing from surrounding grassland. While cloud forests were more effective at stripping water out of clouds, the researchers found that the evaporation was higher than on short vegetation.

The study, for the UK's Tropical Forestry Research Programme, will be controversial as it shows that converting cloud forests to pasture does not cause major reductions in water yields. In India, South Africa and Tanzania, the study showed that plantation forests actively wasted water and were "ineffective" or "counterproductive" at retaining water. Studies by Newcastle University in the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh found that planting trees had a "negative" effect on the supply of water. The study suggests that efforts to convert agricultural land to forest caused a 16 to 26 per cent reduction in water yield. The study suggests that rainfall evaporates up to twice as fast in forests as it does in treeless areas.

Prof Ian Calder, of Newcastle University, one of the researchers, said: "Putting in more forestry in water-stressed catchments where the water table is 500 ft down and the ground water is being mined for uncontrolled crop irrigation will only aggravate matters." "The public perception is that where you plant trees, you will be increasing the ground water recharge. The evidence is the opposite," Prof Calder said.

Other "water myths" the study knocks down are that trees, particularly plantation trees, are always beneficial in preventing erosion and stopping floods. Prof Calder said the study showed that there might be some benefit with plantations taking up water in most years, and reducing annual floods, but in major 1-in-20-year floods, the benefits were "negligible".



Tim Worstall at his most sarcastic. Another big laugh for bloggers -- of whom Tim is of course one

As we all know, the major newspapers and media outlets do not have an agenda to push. Reporting is scrupulously fair and balanced, editorials are pondered and written using the exquisite tact and careful attention to facts for which the medium is famed and, in complete and total contrast to blogs, vague and general assertions are never used to support pre-existing prejudices. Those layers of editors and fact checkers (which as we know are not used in the Op-Eds, but are in the rest of the output) make certain that only those things that can be supported, checked and verified, are used for the edification of the readers. Quite.

In Tuesday's New York Times we have a short editorial on the subject of weather and global warming. A suitable subject no doubt, one of great importance even. What is happening, how it's happening and what we do about it, well, they are indeed some of the major questions of the age. This little supposition has -- well, given what we are told by the purveyors of this type of journalism, must have -- been checked for accuracy and only used to reach a conclusion, not to support one that had a previous existence:

Taking global warming seriously means, in part, understanding that it is a broad-scale pattern of incremental changes, a shifting of averages over the long term rather than the immediate cause of today's weather. It may not be possible to say that this heat wave or the drought that is afflicting Europe has been caused by global warming, especially when some of the records that fell recently were set many years ago.

The drought that is afflicting Europe? The one I am sitting in the middle of? The one where we are cowering fearfully awaiting the arrival of the autumn forest fire season? That one? Indeed, it may not be possible to say that this has been caused by global warming. In fact, if one did say it one would be wrong. Now I'm not sure how long the carrier mice that the NY Times uses to get information to the editorial board actually take to move information around but I would have thought that four days would be enough time. Enough time for this detailed report from the Guardian to impinge upon the consciousness perhaps?

The droughts in Europe may be shocking and they are predicted to carry on into next year. But, according to climate experts, they are the result of natural climate cycles and not global warming.

So that would be, no, the drought is not caused by global warming. It is therefore not only not possible to state that it has been, it is impermissible to say so. That is, that the implication is actually at odds with reality, is an untruth. The skill and verve with which our layers of expert thinkers report the truth can be further seen in this:

The real reason for the drought is essentially a lack of rainfall over the past nine months. In winter and spring, most reservoirs get replenished, but in the UK, for example, the past six months have seen barely two-thirds of the average expected rainfall.

Professor Saunders says that the current situation is a result of natural climate variability. Drought trends going back more than 100 years show this sort of natural cycle repeating itself time and again. He also rules out global warming as a contributing factor since it is expected to cause wetter winters.

Now it might seem a little droll to use the reporting of one avowedly left-wing newspaper to show the competence with which a liberal and avowedly impartial one sorts, collates and processes information; yet droll or not, instructive, no?

Our original implication is that the drought in Europe might be caused by global warming. The truth is that it is not. The further and deeper truth is that global warming is, in the opinion of those scientists studying the subject, likely to be the solution to the drought, quite the opposite of it being the cause.

A vote of thanks to the editorial board, the layers of editors and the fact checkers at the New York Times then, I feel it's only called for. Perhaps someone should give them a prize for the skill with which they approach such difficult subjects. And we must, of course, all thank the Lord that they're not like bloggers, throwing out untruths and factual errors to support their particular prejudices. Tsk, tsk, that would never do, the newspaper of record failing to use its greatest strength, the ability to check things before going to press.


In fact, the report is a sensational document. It is, in effect, an attack on the Kyoto accord through its weakest point, the underlying science. The committee savages the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body on whose "research" Kyoto is built. The language, as befits their lordships, is suitably restrained: "We have some concerns about the objectivity of the IPCC process," they write, "with some of its emissions scenarios and summary documentation apparently influenced by political considerations. There are significant doubts about some aspects of the IPCC's emissions scenario exercise. . . the Government should press the IPCC to change their approach. There are some positive aspects to global warming and these appear to have been played down in the IPCC reports . . ."

There's much more, but you get the general idea. It's the nearest the Lords ever comes to blowing a raspberry. So who are these people to come up with such heretical ideas? The 13 committee members include two former chancellors of the Exchequer, a former governor of the Bank of England and three distinguished economists. Unlucky for some, you might say, including Sir David Wallace, the vice-president of the Royal Society.

He's the man who wrote, in his official capacity, to journalists in April warning that "there are some individuals on the fringes. . . who have been attempting to cast doubt on the scientific consensus on climate change". He appealed for us "to be vigilant against attempts to present a distorted view of the scientific evidence".

Their lordships have taken him at his word, but their attempt at scientific rigour has produced quite the wrong answer, at least from his point of view. Let's hope he doesn't find himself in the position of that individual on the fringe he's urging us to avoid.

Coincidentally, the very day the Lords report came out, his position and that of the other Kyoto believers was already looking a little shaky. The environment was high up the agenda of the G8 meeting in Gleneagles, and the participants were faced with the choice of either casting America as a polluting pariah or signalling that the Kyoto accord was a blind alley, as President Bush had always maintained. To the surprise of many, they chose the latter.

The Americans had argued that both the science and economics of climate change were highly uncertain; that there was nothing in Kyoto for them other than extra costs; that it would all be pointless if developing countries are excluded from restrictions; and that the solution to global warming lay with technology rather than rationing. The logic of this position overcame the political warm glow that the other leaders might have felt from condemning America (again), and while it's something of an exaggeration to say that the Kyoto accord is dead, it's certainly looking very ill.

It was not helped last week by the US-led coup which launched the snappily named Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. Endorsed by Australia, China, India, South Korea and Japan, the plan is to try to find practical solutions rather than don hair shirts. While Robert Zoellick, America's deputy secretary of state, claimed that "we are not detracting from Kyoto in any way", it looked suspiciously as though he was playing Brutus to the Kyoto Caesar.

If so, the European Union countries are playing the other senators, since they have no realistic chance of meeting the targets they have agreed for 2012. Having set themselves unrealistic limits on carbon dioxide emissions, with draconian penalties if they are missed, the outcome promises to be a re-run of the Stability and Growth Pact farce. Breaches of that pact, which was designed to control government deficits for countries in the European single currency, are now so widespread that it's essentially a dead letter.

Since signing up to Kyoto, the EU members have actually drifted further away from their targets. Twelve of the 15 original signatories are so far away that they are virtually certain to miss them, and to incur the eye-watering financial penalties as a result. Only Britain and Germany are closer, thanks to the switch from coal to gas here and the closure of East Germany's heavy industry there. The politicians may claim that we are "on track" to meet our targets, but as a whole the EU is already miles off.

Christopher Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute - and one of those people Sir David warned us journalists to beware of - goes further: "Given these penalties, Kyoto seems designed to fail. There is the increasing possibility that sufficient greenhouse gas credits will not exist at any price for the EU to try and buy its way to compliance even if it wished."

This is what their lordships seem to have grasped in their little-noticed report. They conclude: "The Kyoto protocol makes little difference to rates of warming, and has a naive compliance mechanism which can only deter other countries from signing up to subsequent tighter emissions targets. We urge the Government to take a lead in exploring alternative 'architectures' for future protocols, based perhaps on agreements on technology and its diffusion."

Hard though it may be for the hair-shirt brigade and the Royal Society to accept, there's an awful possibility that the Americans were right all along. The Kyoto accord looks like yesterday's approach to yesterday's conception of tomorrow's problem.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


1 August 2005


(From Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Article in Press)

Megafauna extinction: A paleoeconomic theory of human overkill in the pleistocene

By: Erwin Bulte a), Richard D. Horan b), and Jason F. Shogren c), a) Department of Economics, Tilburg University, P.O. Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands b) Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1039, USA c) Department of Economics and Finance, University of Wyoming, Laramie 82071, USA


After centuries of debate, paleontologists are converging towards the conclusion that human overkill caused the massive extinction of large mammals in the late Pleistocene. This paper revisits the question of megafauna extinction by incorporating economic behavior into the debate. We allow for endogenous human population growth, and labor allocation decisions involving activities such as wildlife harvesting and (proto) agriculture. We find that the role of agriculture in deciding the fate of megafauna was small. In contrast, the presence of ordinary small animals that have been overlooked in previous non-economic extinction models is likely to have been much more important.

1. Introduction

About 12,000 years ago one of the great scientific mysteries occurred. Up until that time, during the first 2 million years of the Pleistocene, species rarely went extinct. In the Americas, for instance, fifty species of large mammals went extinct, an average of 1 every 40,000 years. But then around 12,000 years ago something changed, and over the next 2000 years, species extinction exploded. The Americas lost 57 large mammals, including three genera of elephants, in this short time span, an average rate of 1 every 30 years. Megafauna such as mammoths, mastodons, giant ground sloth, and Deinotherium disappeared, and many agile species like horses and camels went extinct locally.

Centuries of debate within the palaeontology community over megafauna extinction have produced two competing theories, climate change versus human overkill. The climate change view argues that megafauna extinction occurred because large species were slower to adapt to advancing and retreating ice sheets than the plant communities upon which they grazed. The plants adapted relatively quickly to abrupt climate change; the large mammals did not, hence, their exit.

1. The theory of human overkill counters it was early man with his limited technology, not climate that created havoc in the natural world. In the Americas, for instance, evidence suggests the small bands of Clovis people crossed the Bering land bridge from Asia about 12,000 years ago.

2. The fact that species began to disappear abruptly at the same time, so the argument goes, was no coincidence. Some fossil evidence exists to support the view that skilful hunters preyed on large mammals that did not adapt to their new and aggressive predator.

3. Many natural scientists believe it is essential to understand today whether it was climate or primitive man that caused the megafaunal collapse. Such knowledge provides a history lesson on what might happen in the future if we do not address modern risks of climate change and overpopulation (see, e.g., Leakey and Lewin, 1995), but at least until recent times, progress in understanding what happened has been hampered by an identification problem.

In North America, megafauna extinction occurred both when man first appeared and during a violent phase of climate change. Both forces hit the megafauna simultaneously, and the fossil record has provided little help in differentiating between the hypotheses due to the simultaneity issue and poor quality fossil data. Two recent well-publicized studies examining extinctions in Australia and in the Americas, however, point to human overkill as the culprit. For Australia, Roberts et al. (2001) found the continent-wide extinction did not coincide with extreme climatic events, implicating overkill as the most likely explanation. For North America, the paleontologist Alroy (2001) followed others who have used mathematical simulation to explore the plausibility of the theories (e.g., Mosimann and Martin, 1975 and Whittington and Dyke, 1984). Using a model that was much richer in ecological detail than prior analyses (e.g., he distinguishes between 41 herbivore species rather than one aggregate stock) and relaxing some restrictive assumptions that had been made by others (e.g., constant human population growth rates), Alroy points to overkill as the culprit.

Although these studies have not ended the debate over climate change versus overkill (e.g., Brook and Bowman, 2002 and Stuart, 2005), they do suggest growing support within the paleontological profession for the theory that, at least in North America and Australia, human overkill is responsible for large-scale extinction of megafauna. But the overkill explanation raises an important set of new questions. If overkill was the cause, why did it happen? And what economic behavioral mechanisms could have driven this result?

Unfortunately, these paleontological models cannot address these questions because they lack a realistic behavioral component. Rather these models tend to be "fully mechanistic," with humans as "super predators" who spend their time either hunting or procreating. More specifically, these paleontological simulation models focus exclusively on megafauna hunting and do not address the broader opportunity set and the behavioral tradeoffs facing households in the late Pleistocene. In effect, these models sidestep Smith's (1975) durable point that the separation of man and nature does not address primitive man's labor allocation decisions (for example, whether to hunt megafauna or spend time in other activities), and this choice could affect the degree to which overkill played a role (see also Shogren and Crocker (1999) on the issue of nature and economics being jointly determined). Smith argues, and we agree, that explicit economic behavior should be considered "to demonstrate the use of a coherent economic framework for the study and evaluation of extinction or other hypotheses concerning the primitive hunter culture" (1975, p. 750).

This paper explores the plausibility of the overkill hypothesis and examines the economic mechanisms that might support this hypothesis. Overkill is only consistent with megafauna collapse and human survival if humans have access to a substitute food source (i.e., an outside option). Otherwise, humans would die after the megafauna go extinct. Smith (1975) suggests agriculture provided the substitute food source and was the impetus of megafauna extinction. But this theory has yet to be tested in a model with endogenous human population growth, and a numerical analysis has never been performed to examine the robustness of the theory. Extending Smith (1975), we develop and calibrate a paleoeconomic model allowing for endogenous growth of both animal and human populations (see Nerlove, 1993), in which a hunter allocates his labor between alternative uses given an endogenous species kill rate.

4. We find that Smith's case for early agriculture can be challenged as the likely explanation for megafauna extinction. Such proto agriculture may let the human population grow faster, which could increase hunting pressure on megafauna, but a competing opportunity cost effect emerges because the ability to subsist from plant-based food increases the opportunity cost of hunting for scarce animals, certainly when animal stocks are small and catch per unit of effort is low. By introducing a lower bound on the opportunity cost of hunting effort, agriculture could decrease the likelihood of megafauna extinction. Our numerical results indicate the opportunity cost effect was likely sufficiently strong to avoid megafauna collapse, which does not support agriculture as the cause of extinction. If agriculture was not the cause, what was?

We propose the cause was a second alternative food source, small animals or "mini-fauna." As people allocate more effort to hunting minifauna, more opportunities for chance encounters with megafauna arise, which leads to more megafauna harvests. In contrast, if labor is devoted to agriculture, opportunities for chance encounters decrease. Hunting minifauna is a complementary activity for megafauna harvests, whereas agriculture is a substitute activity. Moreover, if overkill occurs in the presence of a steady supply of substitute prey, mainly the small and ordinary animals living today, these minifauna could have supported human population growth when megafauna became scarce. Small and rapidly replenishing animals such as deer can support an expanding human population, even as megafauna densities fell. The incidental killing of megafauna continued until extinction occurred, and humans moved on.

While our results support Alroy's mechanistic findings that many smaller animals survived while the larger ones were killed off, our behavioral model captures endogenous feedbacks between the economic and natural system and triggers results that point directly at humans as the culprits of megafauna extinction....

Doi (permanent) address for the above paper here


Wood and dung are the primary sources of energy in Kenya and much of Africa - providing heat for the home and cooking. Clean fuels such as natural gas and electricity, not to mention central heating and air-conditioning, are luxuries reserved for plutocrats, politicians, and NGOs.

Why do so many Africans rely on dirty energy sources? For the same reason that they are poor: their oppressive governments prevent them engaging in mutually beneficial economic activities. It is illegal in most African states to start a business without a licence. And licences are available only to those with government connections. Even if it were possible legally to operate a business, few would have the necessary capital. While their governments have been borrowing as if there were no tomorrow, most Africans cannot obtain a loan at any reasonable rate of interest. Those same oppressive, corrupt and incompetent governments prevent them obtaining good title to their land and thus they have nothing to offer as collateral. So instead of creating wealth through private enterprise, many of Africa's entrepreneurs hawk in the streets or engage in criminal acts.

Among the worst criminals are the leaders to whom we have given massive amounts of 'aid'. Thugs such as Mobutu, Abacha and Mugabe bought themselves cars, planes and palaces - and stashed cash in offshore bank accounts. Ostensibly given to enable poor countries to escape from the poverty 'trap', aid has actually harmed the poor by sustaining oppressive dictators.

Now, Blair and Brown, the 'Lennon and McCartney of global development', think that poverty can be solved by spending another $25 billion in Africa every year until 2015. Some chance. One reason that aid has failed dismally is that it was used to support foreign policy objectives. During the Cold War both the US and the USSR used it to bolster 'friendly' regimes. Although many of those regimes' leaders were repressive, undemocratic and hostile to free enterprise, the US continued to send tens of billions of dollars, ostensibly to support liberty, democracy and free markets!

Since the end of the Cold War, the foreign-aid carrot has been used to encourage governments of poor countries to endorse foreign policy agendas such as environmental protection. Before the 1992 Earth summit in Rio, wealthy countries offered poor countries billions of dollars in return for commitments to sign treaties on climate change, biodiversity, forests and 'sustainable development'. African leaders even got their own treaty, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification - which contains numerous references to increasing aid to Africa (but will do nothing to halt land degradation).

As the Kyoto Protocol runs out of steam, an aid carrot is being offered to poor countries in exchange for commitments to future reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Yet attempting to control the climate through such restrictions may prove counterproductive. Meanwhile, this aid carrot will probably do more harm than good.

Dramatic warming is unlikely to result from humanity's emissions in the next century. The best estimates suggest a moderate warming of between one and two degrees Celsius - a change that may even be beneficial. In a slightly warmer world with more carbon dioxide, agricultural output would increase, and more food would be available at a lower cost. Climate change may nevertheless cause some problems. For example, changing rainfall patterns might affect agriculture. While wealthy countries have increasingly sophisticated systems of water management, which enable us to cope with such changes, the situation in poor countries is more problematic.

At present, government control of water leads to massively inefficient overuse. Privatising water would force consumers and producers to pay prices that reflect delivery costs, thus providing incentives to use water more rationally and encouraging new methods of production and delivery - such as piping water over longer distances or desalinating seawater. Government mismanagement and corruption also mean that today over one billion people lack access to clean drinking water.

A Kenyan colleague moved to Nairobi in 2001 to start a think-tank. Soon afterwards, local government officials visited his house and issued a water bill, which he diligently paid. A few days later the same officials returned, demanding that he pay, again. In spite of paying twice, his water is erratic and contaminated. In Chile, water supply was privatised in 1981 and the proportion of households with clean, piped water soon shot up from 63 to 99 per cent in towns, and from 27 to 94 per cent in rural areas. Many other countries have followed suit. This week a group going by the name of 'People without Water' in Lima, Peru, called for their water to be privatised because they realise that the private sector is more accountable, less corrupt and more likely to deliver. By increasing the availability of potable water, privatisation would greatly reduce the number of deaths from water-borne diseases, such as diarrhoea and cholera, which now kill about two million children each year.

But cleaning and piping water requires energy. Imposing emissions restrictions would increase the cost of energy because suppliers would be forced to use more expensive, lower-carbon energy sources. As a result, the cost of water would increase.

Likewise, the cost of producing, refrigerating and transporting food and medicines would rise, reducing the availability of these vital goods. If clean energy sources such as natural gas and electricity are made more costly, Africans will continue to burn inefficient, dirty fuels such as wood and dung. Though such fuels may be 'renewable' and 'low-carbon', their combustion in poorly flued indoor fires contributes heavily to acute lower respiratory infections, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, which today kill more than one million children annually.

To enable development and adaptation to the current climate, let alone any future climate, Africans must be freed from oppressive governments. Emissions restrictions would hinder that adaptation process, especially if such restrictions are encouraged with 'aid' to their governments. These observations cast doubt on Blair's priorities for the G8 meeting - and the process of priority-setting for G8 meetings generally. Blair wants to be the great global statesman who saved Africa from poverty and the world from climate change, but these problems are not based on a rational assessment of global priorities.

Of all the plans on the table, Gordon Brown's proposal to provide funds to buy new medicines for Aids and malaria is perhaps the most sane. Crucially, the money will not go to corrupt African leaders. In 2004, under the auspices of the Copenhagen Consensus, a group of eminent academics concluded that eradicating communicable diseases, improving access to clean water and freeing trade would provide the greatest benefit for the world's people. By contrast, they ranked reductions in greenhouse gas emissions an extremely bad investment. Perhaps the G8 should conduct its own Copenhagen Consensus for next year's agenda.



(The BBC was horrified that "Fields of sunflowers could replace the traditional English landscape" One's heart bleeds!)

The English garden in the South East is due for a new blaze of colour because of global warming, experts say.

By Persephone Polyanna

The English country gardener in the South East will be presented with many new opportunities for planting in the next 100 years, scientists say. Climate change might, though we don't know, reduce our need to maintain large lawns and help us to diversify the shrub borders of Surrey, Kent, Hampshire, and Sussex. We may even be able to develop fair olive groves and extend grape vines. The benefits of possible 'global warming' are being discussed today at a The Royal Society for Happy Gardeners (RSHG) conference at the University of Wisley.

Following certain selected climate scenarios (which, however, are only computer-based) experts say summer temperatures in the South East may hopefully rise by up to 1.5C by 2050, although the effect on rainfall is not certain.

With a bit of luck - although again we have no idea - it might even be a little warmer still by the 2080s, the scientists say. "This is going to provide truly exciting opportunities for the gardener", said Penelope Poppy from the RSHG. "It's already happening - you can see fields of smiling sunflowers everywhere", grins Professor Bob Bloomer, holding up some striking lavender cultivars.

"For the average gardener there will be lots of terrific new colourful plants to choose from, while the National Trust will find it easier to maintain some of the more expensive exotic gardens and orangeries from the Victorian and Edwardian Ages. Less fuel will be needed to service greenhouses and glasshouses, and this can only be good for the environment."

"And don't we just love the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh!" Penelope Poppy purrs. "We may well be able to have parts of England recalling the gorgeous Mediterranean scenes painted by Vincent and by Bonnard, with fields of sunflowers becoming common features along with palms, shrubs, and gorgeous-smelling eucalyptus! I can't wait! Sounds like natural aromatherapy everywhere."

One possible pity is that levels of sunlight tend to be lower in England than in the Med, but many plant and tree species found in southern France are still expected to become more common further north, again providing an increase in biodiversity and gardening choice. These will include the walnut, poplar, sweet chestnut, plums, kiwi fruits, pistachio trees, and vines, the scientists say. Our native woodlands of oak, beech, ash and Scots pine will survive, just increasing the new overall biodiversity, though we might lose a few beeches in Kent and Surrey.

Overall this is a wonderful opportunity. "If, of course, it happens", cautions Prof. Bloomer. "We may start to cool, and that could be quite challenging for gardeners."

(The Stott version is from here)


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

Comments? Email me here. My Home Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.