Tracking the politics of fear....  

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28 February, 2006

Bible Bending Propaganda

It's almost too bad that Jesus Christ has been historically depicted as a long-haired, bearded, and sandal-clad -- because the enviro-hippies behind something called the "Evangelical Climate Initiative" have now claimed Him for their own alarmist agenda. While those physical representations of Christ may be accurate, the Biblical claims that these Birkenstocked believers make for global warming reductions are hermeneutically deficient. Most of their flawed interpretations emphasize the social gospel (surprise!) rather than genuine Divine intent -- a common liberal tendency.

They include the utterances of Sir John Houghton, a climate scientist, former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and an "evangelical Christian," according to the ECI. In a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals almost a year ago, he made a scientific case for the existence of global warming, and its benefits and drawbacks (with the second far outweighing the first). I will leave technical refutation and doubt to others, and address the Biblical support he attempted to use to buttress his position:

"[God] demonstrated this most eloquently by sending his son Jesus to be part of creation and by giving to us the responsibility of being good stewards of creation. What is more I believe that we do not do this on our own but in partnership with Him -- a partnership that is presented so beautifully in the early chapters of Genesis where we read that God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden in the cool of the day."

There you have it! God intended for man to live in temperate climes. But then again, He also intended for man to live naked: so much for that. And not surprisingly, Houghton butchered Genesis 3:8, which actually says that Adam and Eve (after the Fall) "heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day," after which they tried to hide from Him -- hardly a harmonious stroll.

But seriously, Sir John's pining for the early days of the Bible is admirable. Who doesn't wish we were in the days of sinless perfection, in absolute accord with God? Alas, that is not the condition of the present globe on which we live. Rather than actually making us "good stewards of creation" as Houghton claims, God instead cursed the world and essentially said, "Here -- deal with this!" We've been toiling over the corrupted soil ever since, and the unspoiled creation that Jesus was allegedly sent "to be part of" disappeared long ago.

Still the 86 ministry leaders behind the ECI bought into it, maintaining that they "are articulating a biblical, Christ-centered, business-friendly evangelical approach to climate change and providing a different way of understanding the problem":

Once we understand the profound impacts climate change will have on people, especially the most vulnerable, then we find plenty in the Bible calling us to take prompt action. Jesus' commands to love our neighbors (Mk. 12:30-31), do unto others as we would have them do unto us (Lk. 6:31), care for "the least of these" (Mt. 25:40, 45), and be proper stewards of His creation (Lk. 12:42-48; Col. 1:16) all require immediate and sustained action to solve global warming.

These "social Gospel" passages can hardly be construed as a legitimate case for the fight to reduce global warming. The first misinterpretation is the proper role of man in relation to the creation. Calls to "stewardship" in the Bible never have to do with caring for some pristine earth -- for its own sake or for God's. Instead God gave man "dominion" over the world and its creatures, for human consumption and use.

Of course, that doesn't mean you pollute willy-nilly. Dumping oil or chemicals where they can seep in someone's water supply certainly is unneighborly. But that has nothing to do with Biblical "earth" stewardship, and linking disputed negative global warming effects to proper social practices is misleading at best. If environmentally conscious Christians want to do something that will clearly and measurably help their poor neighbors, why don't they invest in waste removal in places like Port-au-Prince and Bangladesh instead?

The answer is, because ECI signees have been duped by environmentalist liberals and have failed to discern their Biblical illiteracy:

This is God's world, and any damage that we do to God's world is an offense against God Himself (Gen. 1; Ps. 24; Col. 1:16).

I hope the ECI endorsers didn't overstrain their eyes searching those Scripture references for evidence of God's anger at human abuse of the earth. Instead, they would do well to recall some other Biblical citations that emphasize what the real goals of Christian ministry should be in relation to the planet. They should remember that the Apostle Paul disdained those "who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:19-20).

As for Jesus, contrary to Sir Houghton's assertions, He does not dwell on the earth but instead will return to the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:22-23), after God also establishes a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1).

And don't forget, God has some serious global warming of His own planned (2 Peter 3:10). Christian leaders ought to be warning people about that rather than looking for ways to mitigate the questionable effects of the current heat wave.


Genetically engineered crops: Only the news that fits a Luddite agenda in the NYT

Newspapers are often criticized for bias in their "news" articles. A prime example was Andrew Pollack's Feb. 14 New York Times piece on biotechnology applied to agriculture: "At the dawn of the era of genetically engineered crops, scientists were envisioning all sorts of healthier and tastier foods, including cancer-fighting tomatoes, rot-resistant fruits, potatoes that would produce healthier French fries and even beans that would not cause flatulence. ... Resistance to genetically modified foods, technical difficulties, legal and business obstacles and the ability to develop improved foods without genetic engineering have winnowed the pipeline."

While Mr. Pollack misses many of the nuances about biotechnology applied to agriculture and food production, he devotes ample ink to the anti-biotech crowd, including the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology (which he describes as a "nonprofit group," though "anti-biotechnology lobbyists" would be more accurate) and the radical Friends of the Earth.

Memo to Mr. Pollack: All points of view on scientific and technological issues are not created equal. Good journalism is not served by creating a kind of moral equivalence between those who hold ideological, anti-biotech views and those with supportable, legitimate viewpoints -not unlike equating creation theory with Darwinian theory. How ironic the same activists who opposed agbiotech relentlessly for 20 years now decry the "hype" and "overselling" of its benefits-rather like the teenager convicted of murdering his parents who pleads for mercy from the courts because he's an orphan.

Reflecting the views of biotech's antagonists, Mr. Pollack approaches the subject as though genetic engineering of plants were fundamentally new. But virtually all the 200 major crops in North America have been genetically improved, or modified, in some way. Plant breeders, not nature, gave us seedless grapes and watermelons, the tangelo (a tangerine-grapefruit hybrid), the canola variety of rapeseed and fungus-resistant strawberries. In North American and European diets, only fish and wild game, berries and mushrooms may be said not to have been genetically engineered in some fashion.

North Americans have consumed more than a trillion servings of foods containing gene-spliced ingredients, without a single untoward reaction. Gene-splicing is essentially an extension, or refinement, of earlier, less precise, less predictable techniques. In fact, when conventional and gene-spliced seed materials are mixed, arguably the former should be thought of as contaminating the latter.

What makes false alarms about a new technology hard to expose is the virtual impossibility of demonstrating the absolute safety of any activity or product: It's always possible we haven't yet gotten to the nth hypothetical risk or to the nth dose or the nth year of exposure, when the risk will finally be demonstrated. It is logically impossible to prove a negative, and all activities pose some nonzero risk of adverse effects.

The use of gene-splicing to craft small, precise genetic changes that enhance or introduce desirable traits into plants has been a stunning technological success. But excessive and unscientific regulation and the intractable opposition of activists have slowed its translation into consumer-friendly foods. Contrary to Mr. Pollack's implication, gene-spliced "potatoes that would produce healthier french fries" (with higher-than-usual starch content) were available-until anti-biotech activists bullied fast-food chains into rejecting them.

Mr. Pollack's statement, "Developing nonallergenic products and other healthful crops has also proved to be difficult technically" is simply untrue. A vast spectrum of such plants has been crafted by laboratory scientists, but they cannot afford the gratuitously inflated regulatory costs to test the plants in the field. Excessive and unwise regulation is a major reason products in the development pipeline "do not include many of the products once envisioned," to quote Mr. Pollack.

Unscientific and discriminatory Environmental Protection Agency and Agriculture Department regulatory policies make field trials with gene-spliced plants 10 to 20 times more expensive than a similar plant engineered with less precise, less predictable conventional genetic techniques. Unlike pharmaceutical development, agricultural R&D is a low-budget enterprise. Such counterintuitive regulation and gratuitous costs make it uneconomical to develop many promising and even important food products.

Then there is Mr. Pollack's puzzling disparaging claim "industry ... has been peddling the same two advantages-herbicide tolerance and insect resistance-for 10 years." These traits have been of monumental importance, not only to farmers' bottom line but to occupational health and the natural environment. Enhanced pest resistance in plants has obviated the need for hundreds of millions of pounds of chemical pesticides (and thereby reduced environmental and occupational exposures). Herbicide tolerance has made possible a shift to more benign herbicides and environment-friendly no-till farming.

As British historian Paul Johnson has written, "Left to themselves, the creative forces in society will always deliver, but keeping them reasonably free to do so is a perpetual, grinding battle. It is one that must never be lost." Once again, the New York Times is fighting on the wrong side.



The owl having been placed on the endangered list in 1990, the Clinton administration (in the mid 90's), banned all logging on 24 million acres in the Pacific North West. This shut down the logging industry, costing around 130,000 jobs

Last month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a call for proposals to develop a recovery plan for the northern spotted owl. It's about time: The owl was added to the nation's burgeoning list of threatened and endangered species nearly 16 years ago. That it took so long helps explain why only 10 of the 1,264 species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) have ever recovered.

If my gut reading is correct, the owl won't be No. 11. It is already doomed across much of its range, and the reason is well known among field biologists who have been observing the bird for some 20 years. More aggressive barred owls are pushing them out of their 21-million-acre home range, or killing them, or both. In any case, spotted owls are fighting a losing battle, a fact that has me wondering if the Fish and Wildlife Service isn't whistling past the graveyard.

Barred owls, not to be confused with common barn owls, migrated from their native East Coast environs a century or more ago. No one knows why, and until they started killing already-threatened spotted owls, no one cared. Now they do. Just how long it will take the barreds to finish off their brethren isn't known, but the situation has become so precarious that a federal biologist recently opined that shooting barred owls might be the only way to save spotted owls.

How and why the government failed so miserably in its costly attempt to protect spotted owls is a sordid tale that illustrates what happens when science is politicized. Begin with the fact that protecting owls was never the objective: Saving old-growth forests from chainsaws was. The owl was simply a surrogate -- a stand-in for forests that do not themselves qualify for ESA protection. But if a link could be established between harvesting in old-growth forests and declining spotted owl numbers, the bird might well qualify for listing -- a line of thinking that in 1988 led Andy Stahl, then a resource analyst with the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, to famously declare, "Thank goodness the spotted owl evolved in the Northwest, for if it hadn't, we'd have to genetically engineer it. It's the perfect species for use as a surrogate."

Indeed it was. But to back their play, the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society and their friends in the Clinton administration needed a good story for the judge. They found it in three obscure reports: a 1976 master's thesis written by wildlife biology major Eric Forsman at Oregon State University; Mr. Forsman's 1980 doctoral dissertation; and a 1984 report written by him and two other biologists. All three reports suggested a strong link between declining owl populations and harvesting in old-growth forests. Unfortunately, the hypothesis has never been tested, so despite 16 years of research, no link between old-growth harvesting and declining owl populations has ever been established.

Moreover, we know little about the relationship between harvesting and owl populations. One such study -- privately funded -- infers an inverse relationship between harvesting and owls. In other words, in areas where some harvesting has occurred, owl numbers are increasing a bit, or at least holding their own, while numbers are declining in areas where no harvesting has occurred.

More here


Fossil wood gives vital clues to ancient climates

New research into a missing link in climatology shows that the Earth was not overcome by a greenhouse period when dinosaurs dominated, but experienced rapid fluctuations in temperature and sea level change that resulted in a balance of the global carbon cycle. The study is being published in the March issue of Geology.

"Most people think the mid-Cretaceous period was a super-greenhouse," says Darren Groecke, assistant professor and Director of the Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry Laboratory at McMaster University. "But in fact it was not to dissimilar to the climates over the past 5 million years."

By using high-resolution stable-isotope analysis from 95-million-year-old fossilized wood collected from Nebraska, Groecke and his team were able to precisely correlate the terrestrial carbon cycle with that from deep-sea records. However, when they compared the carbon curves from both records, it was evident that a chunk of about 500,000 years was missing from the terrestrial record. Other records already indicated a drop in sea level, a 2-4§C drop in oceanic temperature and a breakdown in oceanic stratification coincident with a marine extinction event.

"Rapid, large falls in sea-level in the ancient record are typically only produced by a glaciation, and so the combination of all the data during the mid-Cretaceous period suggests a short-lived glaciation during a period generally considered to be a super-greenhouse," says Groecke.

"Whatever hits the water causes a ripple effect on land," says Groecke. "Earth often undergoes rapid temperature fluctuations, and this new information may help us to understand how the biosphere will respond to human-generated alterations of CO2 concentration."

He said the research not only challenges conventional wisdom surrounding ancient climates, it makes a case for the use of high-resolution sampling in order to reconstruct a more accurate picture of the ancient climate and its affect on the Earth.

Eurekalert, 23 February 2006


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 February, 2006


Report from The Wall Street Journal, 10 February 2006

Seeking to resolve a scientific dispute that has taken on a rancorous political edge, the National Academy of Sciences said it had agreed to a request from Congress to assess how well researchers understand the history of temperatures on earth. The study by the academy, an independent advisory body based in Washington, will focus on the "hockey stick," a chart of past temperatures that critics say is inaccurate. The graph gets its name because of the sudden, blade-like rise of recent temperatures compared with past epochs.

The controversy took a sharp political turn in July when Rep. Joe Barton (R., Texas), head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, launched a probe into the work of three climate specialists who generated the graph, including Michael Mann, now a professor at Pennsylvania State University. Mr. Barton's inquiry drew a rebuke from several scientific societies as well as fellow Republican Sherwood Boehlert of New York, chairman of the House Committee on Science, who called it a blatant effort to intimidate global-warming researchers. After Mr. Barton didn't respond to an offer to jointly bring the issue to the National Academy, Mr. Boehlert independently asked for a review in November, science committee chief of staff David Goldston said. "It appeared that the issue was not going to go away by itself. We thought this was an appropriate way to get an assessment of the science," Mr. Goldston said in an interview.

Larry Neal, deputy staff director for Mr. Barton's committee, said in a statement that because "combating climate change is a breathtakingly expensive prospect," it deserved closer study, and that the academy was "unlikely" to address all of Mr. Barton's concerns. Mr. Barton has already sought a separate analysis of the hockey stick led by statistician Edward Wegman of George Mason University, people familiar with the matter said. Dr. Wegman couldn't be reached yesterday.

Using records stored in ice, tree rings, and coral reefs, scientists including Dr. Mann have estimated that current air temperatures exceed any in the past 1,000 years. Such findings are not only evidence for man-made global warming, but also underlie predictions of future temperature rises. An 11-member academy panel will now study the accuracy and importance of such research, in particular the work of Dr. Mann, whose hockey-stick graph was included in a report issued by the United Nations in 2001. An academy spokesman said the report would be completed in about four months.

Dr. Mann's critics, including two amateur Canadian climate researchers, say his work contains serious inaccuracies. Dr. Mann has denied that, but the debate has prompted several climate researchers to take a fresh look at temperature reconstructions. While some recent publications have found fault with the hockey stick and similar studies, others have sought to rebut critics.


Excerpt from a letter by Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, 17 February 2006

We are writing to protest three of the appointments to the Panel because of bias, lack of objectivity and/or conflict of interest and to protest the failure of the Panel as presently constituted to meet policies of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) regarding committee composition and balance. We have suggested several alternatives whose appointment would at least partly mitigate these problems.

Dr. Otto-Bliesner

The "Policy on Committee Composition and Balance and Conflicts of Interest for Committees Used in the Development of Reports", a policy statement of the National Academy of Science (NAS) issued in compliance with section 15 of the federal Advisory Committee Act, provides explicit statements about the issues of bias, lack of objectivity and conflict of interest. It states, with respect to conflict of interest:

It is essential that the work of committees of the institution used in the development of reports not be compromised by any significant conflict of interest. For this purpose, the term "conflict of interest" means any financial or other interest which conflicts with the service of the individual because it (1) could significantly impair the individual's objectivity or (2) could create an unfair competitive advantage for any person or organization. Except for those situations in which the institution determines that a conflict of interest is unavoidable and promptly and publicly discloses the conflict of interest, no individual can be appointed to serve (or continue to serve) on a committee of the institution used in the development of reports if the individual has a conflict of interest that is relevant to the functions to be performed. [bold in original]

and, with respect to bias and lack of objectivity:

Finally, it is essential that the work of committees that are used by the institution in the development of reports not be compromised by issues of bias and lack of objectivity. . Questions of lack of objectivity and bias ordinarily relate to views stated or positions taken that are largely intellectually motivated or that arise from the close identification or association of an individual with a particular point of view or the positions or perspectives of a particular group

The Panel is obviously going to have to consider our various criticisms of Mann et al. and will undoubtedly hear reference to a national Media Advisory by UCAR in May 2005 declaring that UCAR employee Caspar Ammann had shown that our various criticisms were "unfounded". This press release has been relied upon in material presented to the U.S. Congress by Sir John Houghton of IPCC, by Dr Mann and by the European Geophysical Union. Ammann has advised one of us that he has used these two unpublished articles in his annual employment review at UCAR.

One of the proposed panellists, Dr Otto-Bliesner, has not only been a frequent coauthor and presenter with Ammann, but is Ammann's immediate supervisor at UCAR (see As such, she has presumably considered Ammann's articles on our work in the course of carrying out Ammann's annual review. We presume that she would have been involved in preparing and/or approving the UCAR press release on Ammann's work last May. In addition, last year, she co-authored an article with Bradley (of Mann, Bradley and Hughes) and served on a committee with him. It appears to us that her association with Ammann rises to a conflict of interest within NAS policy, but, in the alternative, her associations with Ammann and Bradley certainly rise to bias and lack of objectivity. While she is undoubtedly a meritorious person, the field of candidates is not so limited that her participation in the panel is necessary to its functioning and indeed her continued participation might well diminish the actual and/or perceived ability of the panel to provide objective advice. For example, *** would be an equally competent alternate without the accompanying problems of bias, lack of objectivity and conflict of interest.

Dr. Nychka

Another proposed panellist, Dr Nychka, also a UCAR employee, is listed at Ammann's webpage as presently collaborating not only with Ammann, but with Mann (see This ongoing collaboration certainly creates the appearance of a "close identification or association of an individual with a particular point of view or the positions or perspectives of a particular group". Again, while Nychka is undoubtedly a meritorious person, the field of candidates is not so limited that he is irreplaceable on the panel and indeed his continued participation might well diminish both the actual ability and the perceived ability of the panel to provide objective advice.

Dr. Cuffey

We are also concerned about apparent bias and lack of objectivity in a third proposed panellist, Dr Cuffey, who in a newspaper op-ed recently wrote:

Mounting evidence has forced an end to any serious scientific debate on whether humans are causing global warming. This is an event of historical significance, but one obscured from public view by the arcane technical literature and the noise generated by perpetual partisans. (see )

The panel is being asked to consider the "historical significance" of present climate change. A panellist who has a priori dismissed questions on the matter, some of which are necessarily quite technical, as being "arcane" and "noise generated by perpetual partisans" can be "reasonably perceived to be unwilling, to consider other perspectives or relevant evidence to the contrary" as defined in NAS policy.


UK industry will face increased costs of around 350 million pounds ($614 million) after the European Commission's decision to reject the UK's amended emissions plan, according to business leaders. On Wednesday, the Commission announced it was rejecting "on the grounds of late submission" the UK's national allocation plan (NAP) for the first phase (2005-07) of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). It would have increased the UK's overall allocation for the three years by the equivalent of 20 million tonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide, to 756Mt. The Commission had been legally bound to consider the amendment it lost a court case against the UK government in November 2005.

"This is very disappointing. It does nothing to reduce carbon emissions. It simply increases costs to UK Plc by about o350 million," said David Porter, chief executive of the UK's Association of Electricity Producers. "We shall be seeking talks with the government to see what more can be done," he added. "The 350 million pound costs of covering this misguided shortfall in the UK's carbon emissions allowance is unaffordable," said Matthew Farrow, head of environment for the Confederation of British Industry. "We will urge the government to pursue the case further," he added.

The government also expressed its disappointment at the decision. "We are considering our position, which includes possible further legal action," said a spokesman for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The government has two months to appeal against the Commission's decision. The NAP sets out the number of allowances - effectively, the emissions targets - for installations in the five industry sectors covered by the EU ETS (power generation, iron and steel, pulp and paper, mineral oil refineries and building materials).

The Commission said it took note of the obligation to consider amendments "as long as these are notified prior to the deadline by which member states must take the final allocation decision. For the first trading period, the relevant deadline was 30 September 2004." The UK submitted its amendment to the Commission in October 2004.


Greenies take on the bottled water nonsense

Drinking water must be one of the most harmless things people can do so I think the Greenies should be aiming their fire elsewhere (at soil erosion and uneconomic farming, for instance) but I do think they have got a point about what a lot of nonsense bottled water is

Australians' love affair with bottled water may be making healthy-living advocates happy but environmentalists say it's taking a heavy toll on the planet. With 65 per cent of plastic drink bottles ending up in landfill, environmentalists are calling for better recycling services to stop an increasingly popular healthy drinking habit from wreaking further damage. The popularity of buying water from a shop fridge is rising at a rate of 10 per cent a year as consumers become increasingly aware that staying well-hydrated is healthy. About 550 million litres of bottled water were consumed in 2004-05, the Australian Beverage Council said. Most purchases were in addition to consuming soft drinks rather than replacing them, it said. But the plastic containers are becoming a big environmental hazard because they use valuable fuels to manufacture and create mountains of rubbish when thrown away, environmentalists say.

Environmental scientist Tim Grant said it was "counterintuitive" that bottled water was such a successful product. "People pay $2.50 for something that's [otherwise] free," Mr Grant said. A recent report by the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute found that the global consumption of bottled water had risen by 57 per cent since 1999 to 154 billion litres in 2004. Much of the growth came from countries such as Australia, where most tap water was as high quality as any water that could be bought. The report's author Emily Arnold said bottled water worldwide required 2.7 million tonnes of plastic each year for its packaging. She said the manufacture of plastic water bottles used 1.5 million barrels of crude oil in the United States alone. "In contrast to tap water, which is distributed through an energy-efficient infrastructure, transporting bottled water long distances involves burning massive quantities of fossil fuels."

More here


Leftist elitists often deride the "Cookie-Cutter" houses of America's suburbs and exurbs. Well, below is what socialism gives you. The picture is taken from a helicopter so looks a bit unreal but I am assured that it has not been retouched.

The picture shows about 300 out of a total of about 10,000 "low income homes" in in Ixtapaluca, Mexico (near Mexico City). Socialism gives you REAL cookie-cutter houses.



A reader writes:

"I saw your link to the housing project in Mexico. I also thought it had been computer generated or digitally enhanced until I blew it up and found minute differences to each dwelling. They use a moving slipform style of concrete construction and say they can build a house in 31 days" (Big PDF).


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 February, 2006

Climate of Uncertainty: Why global warming is back in the headlines

Climate change is heating up again in American politics, the result of an orchestrated campaign to push the issue to the forefront. Al Gore is hitting the road with his animated computer slide show and has a documentary movie coming out. Climate action advocates skillfully exploited the Bush administration's clumsy moves to limit the public statements of NASA's chief climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, and landed panicky stories about climate "tipping points" and scientific censorship on the front pages of the New York Times and Washington Post.

The real head-turner, however, was the recent launch of the Evangelical Climate Initiative, in which nearly 100 evangelical leaders signed on to the environmentalist party line. Some are the same liberal evangelicals who tub-thumped for the nuclear freeze during the Reagan years, but some are conservative evangelicals important to Bush's red-state base, such as Rick (The Purpose Driven Life) Warren. When the eco-apocalypse meets the New Testament apocalypse, you know something is up. That something is a sense of political desperation among climate change alarmists, as the world slowly turns against them.

If there is any subject more certain than the federal budget process to bring on eye-glaze, it is global warming and the drearily repetitive argument about the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The issue combines the worst of wonky numerology (parts per million of various gases, complex computer models, opaque cost-benefit analyses), an alphabet soup of unctuous international bureaucracies (IPCC, UNFCCC, SRES, TAR, USGCRP, etc., etc.), and the incessant braying of interest groups. No wonder Al Gore loves it so much. Yet the issue, seemingly stuck in a rut for almost two decades, is starting to shake loose and head in new directions.

How do you go about sorting out sense from nonsense? Very few people who follow closely the subject of climate change argue that there's nothing to it. There is unanimity that the planet has warmed by about 1 degree over the last century. Just about everyone agrees that the growth of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels cannot continue forever. That's where the agreement ends. The range of possible temperature increase over the next century is fairly wide in the official forecasts, from 1.4 degrees Celsius on the low side, which might not be difficult to cope with, to 5.8 degrees Celsius on the high side, which would mean major environmental problems for the planet. How probable is any point along the distribution? For reasons having to do with the cascading statistical uncertainties of the thousands of variables in computer climate models, we can't assign a probability to any narrower range of temperature forecasts, though very clever people are trying.

So for most of the last decade we have been playing a back and forth game with signs and wonders that are offered as confirmation that catastrophic global warming is well under way. But these tend to be as controversial as the computer climate models. As good as our measurement techniques are, there is still large disagreement about basic facts. Are the polar ice caps melting or growing thicker? Both, depending on what data set you consult. Is the last decade the hottest in 2,000 years? You need a flak jacket to survive the crossfire on this one. Can variance in solar radiation account for some or most of the warming we've experienced to date? Better put on a second flak jacket. Do clouds warm or cool the planet? Both, and understanding the balance between their conflicting effects remains a huge problem for climate models. Are ocean temperatures rising and Gulf Stream currents changing? Probably, but we need better data to be sure. Will hurricanes get worse? Get a helmet to go with your flak jacket, and put FEMA on speed-dial. Aren't scientists overwhelmingly in agreement that the science is "settled"? Well, yes, except for the hundreds of scientists who've signed various statements and resolutions saying we lack adequate mastery of the subject.

At this point even most people with a scientific background throw up their hands and say, "Call me back in 50 years if I need to turn up my air conditioning." It does no good, as global warming skeptics and many official climate science reports often do, to call for reducing "uncertainty" in climate science. The uncertainties of climate change have less to do with the enormous complexity of the linkages of the various earth sciences comprising the issue, and more to do with the stakes involved. With near-term global greenhouse gas suppression costs called for at Kyoto calculated in the multiple trillions of dollars ($37 trillion according to one widely accepted estimate), political considerations magnify the importance of nailing down uncertainties beyond the ability of science to do so. In fact, with a subject as sprawling as climate change, the disciplinary diversity of science is going to magnify rather than narrow uncertainties.

Ultimately, policymakers will have to exercise their best judgment rather than wait for oracular scientific conclusiveness, which will never come. Notwithstanding the relentless drumbeat of studies offered as proof of onrushing catastrophe, policymakers are rightly wary of handing over the keys of the economy to the very same people who brought us the population bomb that turned out to be a wet firecracker, predicted imminent resource scarcity, which also fizzled, and even, in the 1970s, hyperventilated that our greatest climate risk was a new ice age. (The ice age scare was not the tiny sideshow climate action advocates today try to claim that it was; the EPA in the early 1970s thought one reason to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions was that "aerosols" like SO2 were reflecting too much sunlight and increasing the risk of cooling the planet.) The suspicion of hidden agendas is buttressed by the default position of the most vocal environmentalists and the front-page-seeking reporters who cover the climate beat: They greet with complete credulity the most extreme forecasts and portents, whether it is melting ice, boiling oceans, or expiring frogs.

This is more than just a problem of having cried wolf too often; there seems to have been little introspection or second thoughts among environmentalists about why their Malthusian alarms rang false in the past. Given their track record, why should anyone believe that this time the alarmists have it right? There has been only grudging acceptance among environmentalists of the positive role of economic growth, the resiliency of human beings, and the dynamic world human ingenuity creates. It might be possible to grant more credibility to the alarmists if there were signs that their current analysis incorporates fundamental corrections of their previous neo-Malthusian frameworks. The recently released U.N. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment appears to go some of the way toward this kind of reappraisal, but the 12-volume (so far), 3,000-page report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read or comprehended.

This brings us to the official effort to assess climate change for the purposes of making policy: the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In the abstract the IPCC deserves it due. The effort to get to the bottom of climate change may be the largest scientific inquiry in human history. It requires the coordination of thousands of specialists, the development of whole new scientific techniques, and the refinement of elaborate computer models that need weeks to run on the world's most powerful supercomputers. Even discounting for the inherent weaknesses of computer models, this kind of sustained effort is likely to generate valuable knowledge in the fullness of time. Producing a coherent report every few years that combines all of this work is an extraordinary feat. The IPCC is currently well into the process of producing its Fourth Assessment Report, due out next year.

The problem with the IPCC process, however, is that the scientists and experts participating in each iteration have become increasingly self-selected toward those with a taste for climate alarmism. Past reports, especially the Second Assessment Report in 1995, were badly politicized by U.N. bureaucrats, misrepresenting the "consensus" the report actually contained. Rumors abound of internal political pressures to "sex up" the reports to make the case for the economically ruinous Kyoto agreement more compelling. Honest skeptics qualified to participate have found the consensus-oriented IPCC process too frustrating and have dropped out. For example, Richard Lindzen, a participant and chapter author in the Third Assessment Report in 2001, is not participating in the next round. More and more, the IPCC is becoming an echo chamber for one point of view, and is closed to honest criticism from the outside. They have not merely rejected criticism; in the fashion of environmental activists, they have demonized their reasonable critics.

The case of David Henderson and Ian Castles is a good example. Henderson, the former chief economist of the OECD, and Castles, a highly regarded Australian economist, noticed three years ago a serious methodological anomaly in the IPCC's 100-year greenhouse gas emission forecasts, which are the primary input for the computer climate models. Henderson and Castles made a compelling argument that the forecasts were unrealistically high. Everyone recalls the first day of computer science class: garbage in, garbage out. If future greenhouse gas emissions are badly overestimated, then even a perfect computer climate model will spit out a false temperature prediction. If Henderson and Castles are right, it means we may have more time to address even the most alarmist global warming forecasts. Since Henderson and Castles opened the debate, the IPCC's emissions forecasts have been subject to withering criticism from dozens of other reputable economists, including from a number of climate alarmists who, to their credit, argue that this crucial question should be got right.

The IPCC's reaction to Henderson and Castles was startling. The panel issued a vituperative press release blasting the two men for peddling "disinformation." A few scientists and economists connected with the IPCC had the decency to say publicly that the press release was a regrettable error. But it is typical of the increasingly arrogant IPCC leadership. The IPCC's chairman, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, compared Danish eco-skeptic Bjorn Lomborg to Hitler because of Lomborg's wholly sensible and well-founded calculation that near-term emissions reductions make no economic sense. "What is the difference between Lomborg's view of humanity and Hitler's?" Pachauri told a Danish newspaper in 2004. "If you were to accept Lomborg's way of thinking, then maybe what Hitler did was the right thing." It is hard to have much confidence in an organization whose chairman can say this and keep his job. (The reductio ad Hitlerum is contagious: Two weeks ago NASA's James Hansen compared having a Bush political appointee listen in on his media phone calls--an obnoxious but routine practice in the federal government--to Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, eliciting rapturous applause from an audience in New York. And Hansen wonders why people call him an alarmist.)

Moreover, despite the cascade of criticism of the IPCC's emissions forecasts, the same set of forecasts will be used in the next round of climate models, assuring a defective result. The IPCC says it would take too long to do a fresh set of forecasts. Despite the IPCC's wall of resistance, the consensus is coming around to the Castles and Henderson view that the IPCC has done a poor job of handling this important aspect of the issue. Nature magazine, normally aligned with the alarmists, editorialized in January that the IPCC's "macroeconomic assumptions . . . ought really to be discarded as wishful thinking," and criticized the IPCC for not incorporating "economists' latest thinking" in their next assessment.

Given its size and the imperatives of bureaucracy, the IPCC monopoly on official climate science is probably unreformable. What it needs is competition--the equivalent of the famous "Team B" of Sovietologists at the CIA in the 1970s. A robust independent effort at assessing climate science would have the tonic effect of making the IPCC behave with more circumspection in its methodology and judgment. In the absence of a full-fledged Team B effort, governments ought to require greater involvement of their finance ministries. It is astonishing how aloof most government finance ministries are to the entire IPCC and Kyoto process; in most European governments (and in the U.S. government, too), the whole mess is left to environment departments and foreign ministries, assuring a high level of economic naivete.

There is some movement toward broadening the climate portfolio and introducing some competitive analysis, especially in Britain, which has set for itself the most ambitious emissions cuts of any nation, aiming for a 60 percent reduction by the year 2050. Her Majesty's Treasury has embarked on a full-scale review of the economics of climate change science and policy, coincidentally right after a bipartisan select committee of the House of Lords issued a blistering report on the deficiencies of economic analysis of the issue.

This is merely one sign of the crackup of the global climate change caucus. Slowly, most governments are coming around to what has been President George W. Bush's position on the matter since taking office in 2001: The Kyoto Protocol is a nonstarter. With just a few years to go before the end of the initial target date of Kyoto, almost no nation is on course to meet its targets (except those Eastern European nations who saw emissions reductions from shuttering defunct state-owned industries after the Soviet Union dissolved, and even there the trend is again upward). Even though Britain is the one European nation that has come closest to fulfilling its Kyoto commitment, ironically it is Prime Minister Tony Blair's acknowledgment that the climate change emperor isn't wearing any clothes that has brought new candor to international discussion of the issue.......

The final game-changer was Bush's successful initiative to launch the Asia-Pacific Partnership (APP) last summer. The APP consists of the United States, China, India, Japan, Australia, and South Korea, which together account for about half of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. As such the APP represents an alternative to the U.N. process that gave us Kyoto, and may one day put the U.N. climate change process out of business. As the new year began, the APP held its first meeting in Sydney, Australia, and began to articulate an alternative strategy to the Kyoto approach. The APP emphasizes as its first priority economic development and the eradication of poverty. It also struck notes of realism about energy use, observing that "fossil fuels underpin our economies, and will be an enduring reality for our lifetimes and beyond." The partnership members pledged more resources for advanced energy research, but also for work on making current fossil-fuel energy cleaner. The real game afoot behind the APP is probably to accelerate the transfer of advanced technology to India and China, whose greenhouse gas emissions are expected to soar in the coming years if they use current fossil fuel energy technology.

These developments suggest that however more convincing the scientific case for serious global warming may become, most world leaders are recognizing that near-term emissions reductions aren't a sensible way to begin moving to a post-carbon energy future. Twenty or thirty years from now we are likely to look back on the Kyoto Protocol as the climate-policy equivalent of the discredited wage and price controls of the 1970s, even as the climate prediction models themselves may come to resemble the elaborate Keynesian models that were supposed to enable us to fine-tune the economy with perfect precision. The Keynesian understanding of the economy was not wholly wrong, but fell far short of the mastery of detail its backers claimed. Climate alarmists like to warn us of the danger of severe climate "surprises" that may come our way. But if we're really taken by surprise, what does it tell us about the limitations of their models?

Is there--to extend the analogy--a "supply-side" analogy for climate policy? Amazingly enough, a hot topic among environmental economists is the positive relationship between economic growth--the central pillar of Bush's climate strategy--and environmental improvement. There is even a conceptual curve for it, known as the "Environmental Kuznets Curve," that can be scribbled on a napkin. It looks just like the Laffer Curve.

More here


Some two dozen power plants are scheduled to be built or refurbished during the next five years in Canada, China, several European Union countries, India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and South Africa. In the US and the UK, governmental preparations are under way that may lead to 15 new reactor orders by 2007.

About 16% of the world's electricity supply comes from nuclear power, and energy demand is increasing (see PHYSICS TODAY, April 2002, page 54). Worldwide, nearly 80% of the 441 commercial nuclear reactors currently in operation are more than 15 years old. To maintain nuclear power's position in the overall energy mix, new reactors will have to replace decommissioned ones, says a report from the Paris-based International Energy Agency.

The new interest in civilian nuclear energy results from some heavy lobbying by groups involved in building reactors, says Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and from attempts to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs adds that there are also increasing concerns about energy security, particularly in light of the recent disruption of Russian gas supplies in Europe.

Most of the new reactor designs are third-generation pressurized-water reactors (PWR), although companies in China, France, and South Africa are looking to build a fourth-generation design called a gas-pebble-bed reactor (PBMR). The new reactors are supposed to be inexpensive to build, more powerful, and safer; and they can be operated for up to 60 years, according to nuclear-power trade groups.

The international view

Late last year, officials from Bruce Power, one of Canada's largest power companies, announced a Can$4.25 billion (US$3.6 billion) investment to rebuild two reactors that have stood idle for nearly 10 years on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, north of Kincardine, Ontario. Last December, the Ontario Power Authority proposed plans to build 12 new nuclear plants to help phase out Ontario's coal-fired power stations.

New 1600-MW European PWRs are being built, one in Finland and one in France, with respective power-up dates of 2008 and 2012. On 5 January, France's president, Jacques Chirac, announced plans for an expansion of renewable and nuclear energy sources for France, including a PBMR by 2020. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to announce this spring six to eight new reactors in the UK.

Russia is currently constructing several reactors, including an 800-MW fast neutron reactor, but financial difficulties may delay four of them, says the London-based World Nuclear Association. Iran is building two Russian-designed reactors, the first of which should go on line later this year. The first South African PBMR is set to be completed in 2012.

Nuclear-industry officials have long said that the majority of growth would come in Asia. Japan is building five new power plants by 2010, and China plans to build 30 nuclear reactors, based on domestic designs, by 2020. China also sees nuclear technology as a major export opportunity, say industry analysts, and is building its second of four power plants for Pakistan, which may lead to a larger order. India has nine power plants under construction, including a fast-breeder reactor that generates its own fuel.

Six countries-Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, the Czech Republic, and Turkey-may build two to five PWRs each, while Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland are now reevaluating plans to phase-out nuclear power.

US moves

The US nuclear power industry has been virtually frozen since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, but in the US Congress 2005 energy bill, tax credits worth $3.1 billion, along with liability protection and compensation for legislative delays, were added for the industry. On 30 December 2005, for the first time in years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) certified the design of a new reactor-the 1000-MW Westinghouse advanced passive (AP) reactor.

Six US power-plant operators are preparing combined construction and operating license (COL) requests to the NRC that could restart construction in the next five years. NuStart Energy, a consortium of nine nuclear energy companies, submitted plans for a General Electric simplified boiling water reactor at the Grand Gulf nuclear station near Port Gibson, Mississippi, and an AP-1000 reactor at the Bellefonte nuclear plant near Scottsboro, Alabama.

Two AP-1000 reactors may be built in the Carolinas by Duke Energy, along with another reactor by Progress Energy. "Preparing this application provides us the option to continue using a diverse fuel mix in the future," says Brew Barron, Duke Energy's chief nuclear officer.

Constellation Energy of Baltimore, Maryland, is in partnership with AREVA, a large French-German engineering firm, to submit COL requests for a European PWR at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant site in southern Maryland and the Nine Mile Point nuclear plant in Oswego, New York. Entergy, another NuStart member, announced it was preparing its own COL request for a new reactor at its River Bend Station power plant in St. Francisville, Louisiana. On 6 December, two electric utilities, Scana Corp and Santee Cooper, filed a letter of intent with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build two new reactors north of Columbia, South Carolina, to meet growing regional power demands.

According to representatives of the electric utilities involved, the US government and the reactor technology suppliers are paying for most of the $150 million the certification process costs. "The utilities are waiting to see if they can get any more subsidies out of the government," says Lyman, "so it's still premature to say if any of them will go ahead." A satisfactory means for disposal of their radioactive waste products has not yet been announced.

But the nuclear power industry believes the first new US order is only two years away. Says NuStart Energy president Marilyn Kray, "Our country needs these advanced nuclear plants."



More coal-fired power plants threaten emissions targets

Japan's efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions may be compromised as more coal-fired thermal power stations, which emit large amounts of the greenhouse gas, are being built, prompting the Environment Ministry to dig in its heels over the need to introduce an environment tax. Thermal power plants and factories crowd Chiba Prefecture's Keiyo Coastal Industrial Zone, on the east side of Tokyo Bay in this February 2005 photo. These power stations are attractive for utilities because coal is cheaper than oil and natural gas. And the recent liberalization of the power industry makes it easier for newcomers to the market to build them.

But the flip side of these advantages is that they are hampering the government's push to achieve its greenhouse gas reduction targets under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which aims to curb global warming. The protocol, which obliges Japan to reduce emissions by 6 percent by 2008-2012 from 1990 levels, went into effect last February. "The achievement of the protocol's target, which is severe in itself, will become even more difficult" because of the growing number of coal-fired power plants, an Environment Ministry official said.

At a news conference in late January, Environment Minister Yuriko Koike voiced her opposition to the construction of a coal-fired power plant planned in Ube, Yamaguchi Prefecture, by Sigma Power Yamaguchi Corp., a new power utility jointly owned by Toshiba Corp. and Orix Corp. "(The project) seems to be going in a considerably different direction from our pledge under the Kyoto Protocol, and the government's plans to achieve the target," she said. The power plant would emit 5.82 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, more than twice what a liquefied natural gas-fired station of the same power output would emit. In a note presented last week, the ministry asked the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which oversees power plants, to halve emissions at the plant, virtually calling on METI to order the facility to be converted to an LNG-fired plant.

The Environment Ministry's stance faces opposition from the power industry, including Sigma Power. "In line with the state's guidance, we have worked out power supply plans by balancing stable supply and prices, and environmental conservation. If we were to be suddenly asked to stop using coal, that's a problem," said an executive at one utility.

But Shigemoto Kajiwara, chief of the Environment Ministry's section fighting global warming, remains firm. "We will continue to express opinions in our environmental assessment to those parties that are large carbon dioxide emitters," he said. With the surge in coal-fired power generation in recent years, Japan's coal use in fiscal 2004 was 2.8 times higher than in fiscal 1990. While plans are in the works to construct 10 coal-fired power stations, including three with a generating capacity of 1,000 mw each, there is no plan to close older coal-fired plants or to reduce their power output.

The Environment Ministry is making a stand because emission controls are not proving effective. In fiscal 2004, Japan emitted 1.32 billion tons of carbon dioxide, 7.4 percent more than in fiscal 1990. It said increases in coal-fired power, coupled with the effects of prolonged nuclear power plant shutdowns due to accidents and safety problems, are pushing up the volume of carbon dioxide emitted per kilowatt generated, a measure called energy intensity. "A worsened energy intensity impacts the volume of emissions stemming from industrial and household consumption of electricity," one think tank researcher said. "Japan's situation is serious because the share of alternative energy sources, such as wind power, is lower than in Europe, for example."

METI will map out a new state energy strategy in June, but at METI-sponsored meetings of experts, the thrust of discussions has been how to secure a stable energy supply, including stockpiling, with hardly any mention of steps to prevent global warming and promote energy conservation. The Environment Ministry-proposes environment tax was discussed in 2004 and 2005 but not introduced, largely due to opposition from industry. Top Environment Ministry officials are becoming increasingly irritated with this turn of events.



Japan's Environment Ministry turned off its heating this week, leaving staff unable to even make a cup of tea, in an effort to spur the country to meet its target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, an official said Thursday. The weeklong shutdown, which began Tuesday, comes as Japan lags far behind its Kyoto Protocol pledge to cut output of gases believed to be warming Earth's atmosphere to 6 percent below 1990 levels by 2010. In 2004, the last year for which statistics are available, output was up 7.4 percent from 1990.

The ministry's "Warm Biz" campaign urges Japan's bureaucracy and businesses to bundle up with sweaters and scarves to cut down on energy use. "It's actually not that cold. We're all keeping warm from the heat of our computers," ministry spokesman Masanori Shishido said, but admitted he has taken to wearing thermal underwear. Temperatures in Tokyo on Thursday were 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit).....

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.


25 February, 2006


But cooling is a sign of warming, of course. I reproduce below the popular summary as given in "Science" magazine and follow that by the journal Abstract

Observations reveal that the substantial cooling of the global lower stratosphere over 1979-2003 occurred in two pronounced steplike transitions. These arose in the aftermath of two major volcanic eruptions, with each cooling transition being followed by a period of relatively steady temperatures. Climate model simulations indicate that the space-time structure of the observed cooling is largely attributable to the combined effect of changes in both anthropogenic factors (ozone depletion and increases in well-mixed greenhouse gases) and natural factors (solar irradiance variation and volcanic aerosols). The anthropogenic factors drove the overall cooling during the period, and the natural ones modulated the evolution of the cooling.


Anthropogenic and Natural Influences in the Evolution of Lower Stratospheric Cooling

V. Ramaswamy, M. D. Schwarzkopf, W. J. Randel, B. D. Santer, B. J. Soden, G. L. Stenchikov

Since 1980, the lower stratosphere has cooled significantly. This cooling trend has been ascribed to the influence of anthropogenic effects--mainly stratospheric ozone depletion and the buildup of greenhouse gases. However, this process occurred in two major steps. Ramaswamy et al. (p. 1138) investigated the temporal structure of the trend using simulations with a climate model, in order to delineate the roles of natural and anthropogenic forcings. Although the overall downward trend in temperature is the result of anthropogenic factors, natural forcing by changes in solar irradiance and volcanic aerosols have superimposed on the gradual longer term decrease the shorter time-scale structure recorded in the observations. Thus, while anthropogenic factors are responsible for the 25-year-long stratospheric cooling trend, the steps were caused by natural forcing.

From: "Science" 24 February 2006: Vol. 311. no. 5764, pp. 1138 - 1141 DOI: 10.1126/science.1122587


Global warming of course warms the oceans up and thus produces more evaporation -- which comes down again as rain or snow (precipitation). Global cooling, of course, reduces precipitation. So which are we seeing? The latest news from the U.K. below:

Hosepipe bans must be ordered within weeks to avoid the threat of standpipes and rationing this summer, the head of the Environment Agency said yesterday. Despite steady rainfall during the past fortnight the South East is facing its worst water shortages since the drought of 1976. Over the past 15 months rainfall has been below average for virtually the whole of England and Wales with southern and central regions being the driest. The position has been worsened by the fifth-driest winter since 1964, with the whole of Britain receiving below-average rainfall, and rivers and water tables are now at alarmingly low levels.

Baroness Young of Old Scone, the chief executive of the agency, said that the South East was facing its worst drought in a century and water shortages would be seen across England and Wales. The threat, she said, was so severe that hosepipe bans must be ordered by water companies by the end of next month or householders would face the prospect of having to queue at standpipes for water as they had done in 1976.

Lady Young also called for all non-essential water use, including washing windows, cleaning cars and watering gardens, to be banned. “If water companies delay introducing hosepipe bans now, extreme steps to manage water supplies over summer may be needed, such as standpipes and rota cuts,” she said. “We’re in a serious situation now, where both the environment and our water supplies are at risk. Water companies shouldn’t just hope for rain – they must act now in case the weather stays dry.” Water rationing, with supplies cut off for several hours at a time, may also be required unless rainfall levels for the next three months rise to 20 per cent above average.

The Met Office, cautioning that long-range rain forecasts were unreliable, said yesterday that there was only a one in five chance of there being sufficient rain to bring water levels back to normal by the end of spring. Kent and Sussex are likely to see the worst shortages with Southern Water and Mid Kent Water already having sprinkler and hosepipe bans in place. Further restrictions being considered include limiting crop irrigation. London, the Thames Valley, East Anglia and South Coast counties face bans on non- essential uses of water in homes and businesses, including crop watering, and localised shortages are expected to cause environmental damage in the rest of England and Wales. Plants and animals are expected to suffer with drought causing heathland, grass and forest fires, and many species, including birch and beech trees, being killed through dehydration.

The agency plans to introduce closer monitoring of water companies to ensure that they do eveything to minimise the impact of drought, including the reduction of leakage from pipes. Britain has endured long, hot summers in recent years — most notably in 2003, when much of Europe suffered water shortages


THE PEOPLE HATERS An environmentalist faces federal charges of teaching others how to start an arson fire during a 2003 lecture in San Diego, where the costliest act of ecoterrorism in U.S. history had just occurred. In an indictment unsealed Wednesday, prosecutors said Rodney A. Coronado gave the lecture 15 hours after a $50 million fire destroyed a massive apartment complex in a north San Diego neighborhood. The indictment, however, does not link Coronado to that fire. Coronado, 39, was arrested Wednesday in Tucson, Ariz., on a charge of distribution of information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction. He will be arraigned there Thursday. Defense attorney R. Antonio Felix of Tucson, Ariz., did not return a message left seeking comment. Coronado previously served four years in federal prison for a 1992 blaze at a Michigan animal research facility. Daniel Dzwilewski, special agent in charge of the San Diego FBI office, alleged that Coronado was a national leader of the radical Earth Liberation Front. ELF is an underground movement with no public leadership, membership or spokesperson, according to its Web site. An e-mail sent to the Web site didn't elicit an immediate response. The 2003 fire destroyed a five-story, 206-unit apartment complex, an underground parking garage and a construction crane in the University City area of San Diego. No one was injured. A 12-foot banner found at the scene read "If you build it, we will burn it" with the initials of the ELF. The group, which only communicates with the news media by e-mail, issued a brief statement in response to media inquiries, saying the banner "is a legitimate claim of responsibility by the Earth Liberation Front." Coronado's subsequent talk covered animal rights and militant environmental activism. According to an account and photos of the speech posted on the Internet, Coronado demonstrated how to build a crude ignition device using a plastic jug filled with gasoline and oil. Three animal rights activists who attended the lecture were ordered jailed for contempt for their refusal to testify before a grand jury investigating the fire. While he repeatedly insisted that he had no role in the arson, Coronado has said he sympathized with the arsonists. Describing himself as an unofficial ELF spokesman, Coronado told The Associated Press at the time that young activists are "doing the only thing they know to do and that is strike a match and draw a whole lot of attention to their dissatisfaction with protecting the environment." Authorities said the charge on which Coronado was indicted has only been used four times since it was written in 1997, most recently in an Ohio case unsealed Tuesday against three men charged with attempting to wage terror attacks against the United States. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Coronado was previously sentenced to nearly five years in prison for a crime in which he said he did not participate: the 1992 firebombing of a Michigan State University laboratory and the offices of two animal researchers that caused $1.2 million in damage. In December, a federal jury in Tucson, Ariz., convicted Coronado of illegally entering the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area to interfere with efforts to trap and relocate mountain lions following public sightings. He faces up to 7 1/2 years in prison when he's sentenced in March. That indictment called Coronado a member of Earth First!, perhaps best known for forest protests aimed at halting logging. Source I THINK THIS IS A SPOOF

But Greenies are stranger than fiction

"The next time you reach for bottled water stacked on the supermarket shelf, spare a thought for the planet. You may think that it is better for you to buy such water, but better for the environment it certainly is not.

Despite its pure image, bottled water is making a significant contribution to climate change. The industry produces as much greenhouse gas as the electricity consumption of about 20,000 homes in a year, according to research by The Times.

To supply the more than two billion litres of bottled water that is consumed by Britons every year, a quarter of which comes from abroad, bottled-water companies produce 33,200 tonnes of CO2 emissions, just less than the electricity consumption of 20,000 households, and the equivalent of the energy needs of 6,000 households.

The principal environmental cost comes from transport - about a fifth of bottles come from southeast France, about 600 miles (1,000km) away - but there are also costs involved in the manufacture and disposal of bottles. Evian transports its water about 930km from Lake Geneva, producing about 14,000 tonnes of CO2 in the process. Volvic, whose water comes from Auvergne, produces about 9,000 tonnes.

British suppliers, with smaller distances to travel, are less environmentally costly. Highland Spring, whose plant is in Blackford, Perthshire, produces about 5,500 tonnes each year, while Powwow produces an estimated 3,000 tonnes.

Most water bottles are made from PET plastic, a crude-oil extract that accounts for about 0.25 per cent of the world's annual oil consumption. The majority end up in landfill sites, where they take about 450 years to break down, or are incinerated. Of the 10 per cent of bottles that are recycled, more than half are shipped to countries such as China, 13,000km away, to be processed, and produce around half a million kilos of CO2 emissions getting there...."

Excerpt from "The Times". Tim Worstall has certainly had some fun with it.


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 February, 2006


A US city is hoping to harness the power of dog poo, which accounts for almost four per cent of its residential waste. San Francisco already recycles more than 60 per cent of its garbage, but officials hope to turn into energy the 5,900 metric tonnes of dog waste a year - nearly as much as disposable nappies, according to the city. Within the next few months, Norcal Waste, a garbage hauling company that collects San Francisco's rubbish, will begin a pilot program using biodegradable bags and dog-waste carts to pick up droppings at a popular dog park. The droppings will be tossed into a contraption called a methane digester, a tank in which bacteria feed on faeces for weeks to create methane gas. The methane could then be piped directly to a gas stove, heater, turbine or anything else powered by natural gas. It can also be used to generate electricity.

Methane digesters are nothing new. The technology was introduced in Europe about 20 years ago, and more than 600 farm-based digesters are in operation there. Nine are in use on California dairy farms, and chicken and hog farms elsewhere in the United States also use them.

Neither Norcal Waste spokesman Robert Reed nor Will Brinton, a Maine-based recycling and composting consultant, knew of anyone in the United States who is using the $A1.36 million devices to convert pet waste to energy. But Brinton said some European countries process dog droppings along with food and yard waste. "The main impediment is probably getting communities around the country the courage to collect it, to give value to something we'd rather not talk about," Brinton said. "San Francisco is probably the king of pet cities. This could be very important to them." San Francisco - the city named after Saint Francis, patron saint of animals - has an estimated 240,000 dogs and cats.

Some experts believe methane digestion must become more attractive economically before it gets popular. Landfill space is relatively cheap, and natural gas and electricity also remain fairly inexpensive. Reed points to San Francisco's groundbreaking food composting program, which began 10 years ago, as proof an unusual idea can work in this forward-thinking city. A Norcal Waste subsidiary collects 272 tonnes of food scraps per day from homes and restaurants and converts it into a rich fertiliser sold to vineyards and organic farms.



From the Adam Smith blog

The UK government is to give ministers a choice of 'green' cars - a Toyota Prius hybrid or a Jaguar that runs on biodiesel - alongside the conventional alternative. (The picture shows a Toyota Prius being driven by a government minister).

Ministers could, of course, save the planet in more effective ways. Why do they all have to have official cars in the first place? It's pretty appalling to see ministers and their officials being driven the 300 yards from the two ministries near the ASI to the House of commons.

In any case, the chauffer-driven lifestyle separates them from their electors, who have to crowd into the trains and buses. They actually forget how the rest of us live.

They could do most for the environment, however, by issuing less paper. Like all those Bills and regulations (and, no doubt, Whitehall rule-books on things like the specifications for ministers' cars. The volume of official reports and 'consultation documents' - not to mention just straight government puff pieces - that are regularly mailed or biked round to ASI from ministries and quangos is quite ridiculous.

Save trees - stop employing so many scribblers, having so many rules and passing so many laws!


Ruling against a lower court, the Oregon Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a sweeping, voter-approved measure that could allow many Oregon landowners to develop their property more intensively than current land-use regulations allow. Measure 37, passed by Oregon voters in 2004, allows property owners to seek compensation from local or state agencies if land-use laws and rules reduce the value of their land. If governments can't afford to pay - and none in Oregon says it can - those regulations would be waived.

Measure 37's approval inspired the Washington State Farm Bureau to file a similar property-rights measure, Initiative 933, in this state earlier this month. But supporters and opponents of the initiative said the Oregon Supreme Court's decision won't affect their plans much, if at all. "It's good news for property owners in Oregon," said Dan Wood, the Farm Bureau's government-affairs director, "but we didn't take the language in Measure 37 as the model for ours."

Environmentalists and other opponents hope to persuade Washington voters to defeat I-933 if it is on the ballot this fall, which would mean its constitutionality would never need to be tested in court, said Aisling Kerins of the Community Protection Coalition. "It's basically a big win for big developers," she said of the Oregon ruling. To qualify I-933 for the November ballot, backers must collect signatures of at least 224,880 registered voters by July 7. Supporters and opponents are fighting over the wording of the ballot title, but Wood said petitions should be available by the second week of March.

Measure 37's approval in Oregon sent ripples across the nation. The state adopted land-use policies in 1973 that are often regarded as a national model for protecting farmland and open space and encouraging compact growth. Those policies sparked a property-rights revolt that eventually produced Measure 37. More than 2,000 claims for compensation or waivers were filed after the measure took effect in December 2004. Many landowners simply sought permission to build a home, but some wanted to put large subdivisions or shopping centers on farmland. The law has been in a legal limbo since October, when Marion County Circuit Judge Mary James said it violated the state and federal constitutions. The state's highest court ruled otherwise Tuesday, saying James' arguments were not persuasive. The ruling means people whose claims were bottled up after James' decision can go ahead and try to get local and state agencies to approve their development plans.

While Oregon's high court said the measure was constitutional, that is not the last word. There are still a raft of legal disputes involving such issues as whether a landowner can transfer a Measure 37 right to develop property through a sale or a bequest. "Without some action by the Legislature, it may be years before additional court cases begin to clarify all of the uncertainties about the law," Gov. Ted Kulongoski said in his response to the Tuesday ruling. "In the process, those cases will entail substantial costs and frustrations for state and local governments and private-property owners throughout Oregon."....

Andrew Cook, a lawyer in the pro-property-rights Pacific Legal Foundation's Bellevue office, said the Oregon court ruling could help I-933 if it passes and is challenged. "Courts do look to other states," he said. "This sets a good precedent for Washington state."

More here


Below are two open letters to the chief collaborators in the frauds

Open letter to "Science" magazine from Benny Peiser and others, dated 22 February 2006:

R. Brooks Hanson
Managing Editor, Physical Sciences, Science
American Association for the Advancement of Science

Dear Dr Hanson

In early March, the National Research Council of The National Academies of the United States is convening a committee to study "Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Past 1,000-2,000 Years". According to the NAS announcement, "the committee will be asked to summarize the current scientific information on the temperature record over the past two millennia, describe the proxy records that have been used to reconstruct pre-instrumental climatic conditions, assess the methods employed to combine multiple proxy data over large spatial scales, evaluate the overall accuracy and precision of such reconstructions, and explain how central the debate over the paleoclimate temperature record is to the state of scientific knowledge on global climate change."

In order for the NAS panel and the invited scientific experts to evaluate the overall accuracy and precision of temperature reconstructions based on multiple proxy data, it is essential that a complete archive of the data is made available. This is particularly relevant for a number of contentious papers published in Science that will feature prominently during the NAS assessment.

We understand that some authors of paleo-climate reconstructions published in Science (Osborn and Briffa, 2006; Thompson et al., 1989; 1997; Esper et al., 2002) have failed to provide complete data archives. We would like to ask Science to ensure that the NAS assessors and scientific experts will have full access to the data and that the authors in question provide a complete archive as required under Science policies.

Yours sincerely

Benny Peiser, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
Sir Colin Berry, Queen Mary, University of London, UK
Freeman Dyson, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, USA
Chris de Freitas, The University of Auckland, New Zealand
Mick Fuller, University of Plymouth, UK
Lord Taverne, House of Lords, UK

Letter to "Science" from Steve McIntyre, dated 19 February 2006:

Dear Dr Hanson,

I am writing in connection with the failure of Osborn and Briffa [2006] to comply with Science's policies on data archiving, which are both explicit and mandatory. For example:

Science supports the efforts of databases that aggregate published data for the use of the scientific community. Therefore, before publication, large data sets ... must be deposited in an approved database and an accession number provided for inclusion in the published paper.

In addition, I am also writing to remind you of the similar continuing failures in connection with Esper et al [2002] and Thompson's Dunde and Guliya ice cores, both of which are cited directly or indirectly in Osborn and Briffa, and about which we have corresponded in the past without any positive outcome.

We note that D'Arrigo et al. [2006] have arrived at precisely opposite conclusions to Osborn and Briffa [2006] on the relationship several Osborn and Briffa sites (Jaemtland, Boreal, Upperwright) to gridcell temperatures. In some cases, although Osborn and Briffa appear to say that they have used identical sites to Esper et al. [2002], the attributions of some datasets seem to differ (e.g. Esper et al. attribute a Quebec dataset to Payette and Filion, whereas Osborn and Briffa cite cana169.) Obviously, the exact data, as contemplated under Science data archiving policies, is necessary to reconcile these differences.

Accordingly, would you please ensure that authors Osborn and Briffa provide a complete archive including the following information:

1. Digital versions of all 14 series as used in their final compilations;

2. For each of the tree ring sites analysed (both the 11 retained and Esper site not used, including Gotland, Jaemtland, Mackenzie Mts and Zhaschiviersk), an exact data citation to a public archive (e.g. WDCP) for the data set used; or, in the alternative, an archive of the data set at the Science website. In cases, where the publicly archive dataset for a site is related to but different from the version used by Osborn and Briffa, please archive the data set as used.

3. Digital versions of the specific gridcell temperature series used in each of the reported temperature correlations together with version date.

Would you similarly ensure that Esper et al. also provide a complete archive including the following information:

4. Exact data citations to a public archive for all datasets used, or, if such do not exist, an archive of the data set at the Science website.

5. A clear and operational definition distinguishing "linear" and "nonlinear" trees, preferably with source code showing any differences in methodology.

Osborn and Briffa [2006] use a composite from Yang et al [2002], which uses data from Thompson's Dunde and Guliya ice cores, previously published in Science. As discussed in previous correspondence, there are several inconsistent grey versions of this data, which cannot be reconciled on the present record. We have previously corresponded about this without any information being provided by Thompson. The matter has re-surfaced once again with Thompson's grey data once again being used indirectly in Osborn and Briffa [2006]. This is a very unsatisfactory situation. Would you please ensure that:

6. Thompson provides a complete archive of both Dunde and Guliya ice cores, including both isotope and chemical data.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours truly,

Stephen McIntyre

"Science" has replied to McIntyre but are still evading the issue. See 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.


23 February, 2006

THE LATEST SCARE: Acidifying oceans

Even given that atmospheric CO2 levels are higher and stay higher, this seems implausible to me. Social scientists don't usually know much about chemistry but from my limited recollection of it, carbonic acid is very unstable and breaks down rapidly. And neutralizing it is hardly a technological problem either. And given the admission that acidification has occurred naturally in the past for unknown reasons, connecting any such phenomenon to anthropogenic global warming is mere assertion

Pollution is quickly making the world's oceans more acidic, and if unchecked this could cause a mass extinction of marine life similar to one that occurred when the dinosaurs disappeared, a researcher says. The researcher, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C., has developed computer models predicting a continuation of a trend other scientists have also noted: the oceans are slowly turning into mild acids. Caldeira said he compared his computer models predicting how far this will go in the next century, with evidence from the fossil record, and has found some startling similarities.

The finding offers a glimpse of what the future might hold for ocean life if society does not drastically curb carbon dioxide emissions, he added. "The geologic record tells us the chemical effects of ocean acidification would last tens of thousands of years," Caldeira said. "But biological recovery could take millions of years. Ocean acidification has the potential to cause extinction of many marine species." When carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil, and gas dissolves in the ocean, some of it becomes carbonic acid. Over time, accumulation of this carbonic acid makes ocean water more acidic.

Previous estimates, Caldeira said, suggest that in less than a century, the pH of the oceans could drop by as much as half a unit from its natural value of 8.2 to about 7.7. On the pH scale, lower numbers are more acidic and higher numbers are more basic.

This trend would especially damage marine animals such as corals, that make shells out of a mineral called calcium carbonate, Caldeira added. Under normal conditions the ocean is full of this substance, making growth easy for such creatures. A more acidic ocean would more easily dissolve calcium carbonate, putting these species at severe risk, he added.

The last time the oceans endured such a drastic change in chemistry, he added, was 65 million years ago, when the dinosaurs went extinct. Though researchers don't yet know what caused this ancient acidification, it was related to the cataclysm that wiped out the giant beasts, he added. The extinction pattern in the ocean was consistent with ocean acidification, he explained: the fossil record reveals a plunge in the number of species with calcium carbonate shells in the upper ocean, especially corals and plankton. During the same period, species with shells made from resistant silicate minerals were more likely to survive. "Our energy system could make the oceans corrosive to coral reefs and many other marine organisms," Caldeira cautioned. He presented the findings Monday in Honolulu at the Ocean Sciences Meeting of the American Geophysical Union and the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography.



A reader writes:

Regarding your post about carbonic acid: There are two glaring problems with what they say. The pH is becoming more acidic, but it is still the basic side of neutral. Why not headline it with "seas becoming more neutral"?

Carbonic acid is required to form calcium carbonate in the first place! If the acidification was caused by some other acid, eg hydrochloric, then it is straightforward to show that calcium carbonate would be eroded since no more carbonate is being added. But here the acid is carbonic acid, its dissolution into the sea creates a weak acid but also ADDS more carbonate to the water in equal proportion. I'm not sure what the equilibrium equations are but I don't think it is as simple as the authors make out. The comparison with ancient extinctions is also dubious, what acids were responsible? They don't say. There are in fact acids based on silica... is it inconceivable that the acidification was caused by silicic acids, which affected carbonate shells far more than silicates? The cataclysm was probably a strike on the Earth by a large body, throwing up a lot of material. What is the bulk of the Earth made of? Silicas. What would form as they rained out? Silicic acids!

You do have to wonder what the hell sort of modelling they are using! I'd expect without doing any serious investigation that the carbonates would thrive under these conditions whereas the silicate based shells may suffer a little. But silicate shells are sturdier so they won't suffer very badly under a slight pH change.


You can never please a Greenie. If all we had were caves, Greenies would oppose them

President Bush's new nuclear energy initiative is supposed to help cure America's "addiction to oil" by redesigning a taboo technology, originally used to obtain plutonium for bombs, to reuse spent nuclear fuel. Unlike past reprocessing methods, the administration says, the new technique would make it prohibitively difficult for would-be proliferators to extract weapons-grade plutonium from spent fuel, and it would drastically reduce the volume of radioactive waste to be stored at repositories such as Nevada's Yucca Mountain.

The result, Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman said early this month, would be increased use of nuclear power, reduced oil consumption and fewer hydrocarbon emissions, "making the world a better, cleaner and safer place to live."

If it works. Both supporters and opponents of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership agreed that although it marks a radical change in U.S. nuclear energy policy, it also relies on unproven technologies that will take decades to mature, and it does not guarantee success. Bodman, in congressional testimony last week, acknowledged that the $250 million requested for the program this year will be used to design a test reprocessing plant so that Bush over "the next two or three years" can make "a go or no-go decision as to whether this is something that makes sense."

But one problem with this calculation, opponents say, is that even a toe-wetting start-up requires that the United States reverse nearly 30 years of opposition to reprocessing at a time of increasing concern about weapons programs in North Korea, Iran and other nations. That "is the wrong signal to send," said Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which opposes reprocessing. Also, Lyman and others challenged the administration's view that the new technology does not produce "proliferation proof" plutonium, and suggested that would-be proliferators would almost certainly find new ways to handle the spent fuel by the time the new system is ready.

Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell acknowledged these concerns but noted that the U.S. refusal to reprocess spent fuel has been a stance "that virtually no one [else] followed." The world "has moved on without us," he added, and a new technology that makes it harder to obtain plutonium "will make the United States a leader rather than a spectator."

Still, there are other misgivings. Experts in both science and industry doubt that the plan could meet what Sell called an "admittedly aggressive time schedule" to have commercial reprocessing up and running by 2025. If development drags on, these experts say, reprocessing would have little immediate effect on nuclear waste storage. Meanwhile, the government will be spending billions of dollars developing a fuel that probably will be too expensive to buy in the foreseeable future, except with a government subsidy. "I'm not dogmatic -- the claims may not ultimately be wrong," said Richard K. Lester, a nuclear scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "But on the time scale that's going to matter, it's very difficult to come close to achieving the objectives that have been set."

Reprocessing technology was first developed by the United States in the 1950s as a way to obtain plutonium for nuclear warheads, but President Jimmy Carter banned it in 1977 because of proliferation concerns. President Ronald Reagan rescinded the ban in 1981, but even then, reprocessing was so expensive and technologically daunting that no U.S. power company ever sought to develop it.

France, Japan, Russia, India and the United Kingdom do reprocess commercially, and all use the old U.S. technology, called purex, which derives plutonium oxide from spent fuel and then combines it with uranium to create a mixed-oxide fuel, called MOX, that can be used in some power plants. MOX is much more expensive than the uranium fuel in conventional reactors. The conventional plants, which include all 103 nuclear generators currently operating in the United States, use "once through" fuel rods in a controlled reaction to produce steam that drives turbine generators. The rods are replaced every 18 to 24 months, and the spent fuel -- about 2,000 metric tons annually -- is put into temporary storage on the reactor sites.

Eventually, the spent fuel is supposed to go to Yucca Mountain, which will open, at the earliest, in 2012. By that time, the industry will have 70,000 metric tons of spent fuel waiting to ship to it. "We need to solve a couple of big problems," said Phillip J. Finck, deputy associate director for applied science technology and national security at Argonne National Laboratory. "We have to deal with the waste and destroy plutonium." The new technology, as described by Finck in a telephone interview, begins with a new reprocessing technique called urex-plus, which, like purex, dissolves spent fuel rods in a bath of nitric acid. The used fuel rods are composed of uranium, plutonium, heavy radioactive metals called "transuranics" and lighter radioactive elements known as "fission products."

Unlike purex, which separates out the plutonium, urex-plus leaves the plutonium and transuranics mixed together, making the resulting product unsuitable for weapons and much more difficult to handle for anyone trying to build a bomb. The new fuel would be used in a "fast reactor," where neutrons move about much more energetically than in conventional reactors, breaking down the long-lived transuranics into lighter fission products with shorter half-lives. The spent fuel from the fast reactor would then be reprocessed using another new technology known as "pyroprocessing," which separates the fuel by dissolving it in molten salt and running an electric current through it. The fuel could be recycled several times until the long-lived transuranics all but disappear.

If successful, the new reprocessing method would replace purex, the stockpile of civilian plutonium would stop growing, and the whole cycle would become much more proliferation resistant, Finck said. Also, he added, Yucca Mountain's storage capacity "would increase by a factor of 100." Instead of filling up by 2030, or earlier, the repository would last beyond the end of the century.

That is if the new reprocessing system is ready by 2025. Steven Kraft, senior director of used fuel management for the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry policy group, voiced doubts: "This is a matter of developing future technologies, and those technologies are 50 to 60 years away." Kraft endorsed Bush's plan as a worthy long-range goal, but nonproliferation advocates said impurities in reprocessed plutonium are not likely to dissuade would-be proliferators from stealing it.

Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, an energy think tank, said: "You can get a one-kiloton explosion with impure plutonium, and if you're a terrorist the most important thing is to have the capability. Such a blast would be the equivalent of 1,000 tons of dynamite. "You don't care whether you destroy the tip of Manhattan or the whole island," he said.


California: Junk science wins at the OUC-- families and jobs to be harmed-- but Greenies will cheer!

In a bid to slow global warming, California regulators are scheduled to vote today to limit the amount of greenhouse gases the state's utilities are allowed to pump into the air. The measure before the California Public Utilities Commission would place California at the forefront of a nationwide effort to rein in carbon dioxide emissions, blamed for raising temperatures worldwide. "If we're going to deal with the greenhouse gas issue in California, we're going to have to go down this road," said commission President Michael Peevey, who proposed the cap.

Today's vote would merely begin the process of setting a specific cap, with the key details to be worked out later in discussions with environmentalists and the state's three investor-owned utilities. Those specifics include the actual number of tons each utility could emit and the penalties for those who go over the limits. In addition, the commission has no legal authority to include under the cap the state's municipal utilities, including those in Los Angeles and Sacramento. Doing so would require action by the Legislature. Peevey said the process of nailing down the cap's details would take several years. "That's important also to provide business with some assurance that we're going to do this based on sound economic sense," he said.

While the federal government has resisted limiting carbon dioxide, citing potential costs, states have been far more aggressive. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has made fighting global warming a central goal of his administration, aiming to reduce the state's emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. A coalition of seven Northeastern states, including New York, agreed in December to cut their emissions using a "cap-and-trade" system, which forces power plant operators to buy and sell credits for producing specific amounts of the gas.

California may adopt such a cap and trade system as a result of the commission's decision today. "If we didn't see any such action at the national level, then we need to see some action at the regional level," said Christy Dennis, spokeswoman for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. The utility, based in San Francisco, supports the cap-and-trade concept. A similar process already limits the amount of sulfur spewed from power plants, one of the main causes of acid rain. But critics from both ends of the political spectrum warn that carbon dioxide could be much harder to control. All power plants running on coal, natural gas or oil emit carbon dioxide. So do cars, humans, animals, fireplaces and wildfires. The most cost-effective way to produce hydrogen, a fuel some environmentalists hope will replace oil, also produces carbon dioxide. Crafting a system that can significantly cut emissions of the gas won't be easy. "I think you cannot extrapolate from sulfur, which few things emitted," said David Hamilton, director of the Sierra Club's global warming and energy program. "It was basically power plants. Carbon is just kind of everything -- it's cars, it's industry, it's power plants, it's agriculture." The environmental organization doesn't take a position for or against cap-and-trade systems.



I linked yesterday to a media report of a statement saying that recent storm activity cannot be linked to global warming. Below is the preamble from the actual scientific statement itself:

Statement from Australian Bureau of Meteorology, February 2006. Submitted to CAS-XIV under Agenda Item 7.3 by Dr G. B. Love, Permanent Representative for Australia. Prepared by the WMO/CAS Tropical Meteorology Research Program, Steering Committee for Project TC-2: Scientific Assessment of Climate Change Effects on Tropical Cyclones. February 2006

To provide an updated assessment of the current state of knowledge of the impact of anthropogenically induced climate change on tropical cyclones.

The WMO CAS Tropical Meteorology Research Program has undertaken a series of assessments of the potential influence of climate change on global tropical cyclone activity. The most recent was published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society by Henderson- Sellers et al (1998) and had the following major conclusions:

* Whilst there was evidence of substantial multidecadal variability (particularly for intense Atlantic hurricanes), there was no clear evidence of long-term trends;

* The Maximum Potential Intensity of cyclones will remain the same or undergo a modest increase of up to 10-20%. These predicted changes are small compared with the observed natural variations and fall within the uncertainty range in current studies;

* Little can be said about the potential changes of the distribution of intensities as opposed to maximum achievable intensity;

* Current knowledge and available techniques are not able to provide robust quantitative indications of potential changes in tropical cyclone frequency;

* The broad geographic regions of cyclogenesis and therefore also the regions affected by tropical cyclones are not expected to change significantly;

* The modest available evidence points to an expectation of little or no change in global frequency. Regional and local frequencies could change substantially in either direction, because of the dependence of cyclone genesis and track on other phenomena (e.g. ENSO) that are not yet predictable;

* The rapid increase of economic damage and disruption by tropical cyclones has been caused, to a large extent, by increasing coastal populations, by increasing insured values in coastal areas and, perhaps, a rising sensitivity of modern societies to disruptions of infrastructure."



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 February, 2006


There have been various reports of Greenland glaciers "calving" (bits falling off into the sea) and this has been presented as evidence of global warming. I have forborne commenting on such nonsense as calving is a sign of EXPANDING glaciers. However, I guess some comment is needed. The following email from Dr. Craig Loehle ( of NCASI to Benny Peiser is succinct:

How do we reconcile one report showing increased dumping of ice from Greenland into the ocean (which supposedly means the ice is melting) with another showing the ice sheet thickening? Simple. Glaciers move because of increased pressure from above. If you increase the amount of snow in the interior, it will increase movement downslope. It can be simultaneously true that there is more loss at the ocean and more build up in the interior because the snow input is large enough for both. We would not conclude from increase river flow that an upstream lake was draining--usually both lake levels and river levels rise together (in extreme cases we call this a flood). The same is true for rivers of ice.

Warming 'can't be blamed' for storms

Global warming cannot be directly blamed for any significant tropical storm in the past two years, says an international group of meteorologists who submitted their findings to a climate conference in South Africa. Although 2004 and last year produced record hurricane seasons in the US, including the devastating Katrina, none could be put down to a long-term trend, the report says. In the same period Brazil experienced its first cyclone, there were five in the Cook Islands in five weeks and 10 in Japan.

A report on tropical storms submitted to the World Meteorological Organisation's Commission for Atmospheric Science in Cape Town says: "No single high-impact cyclone event of 2004 and 2005 can be directly attributed to global warming, though there may be an impact on the group as a whole." The report was written by meteorologists from the US, Britain, China and Australia, including the Bureau of Meteorology's John McBride and Jeff Kepert. They said there was evidence that the power of tropical cyclones was increasing and that the proportion of intense cyclones was also increasing.

Dr McBride told The Australian that there was widespread dissent in the research community about whether the increase in the proportion of intense storms could be linked to global warming. "A lot of scientists, while they don't say that this can't possibly happen, say you can't tell from the data that we have," he said. "The data keeps improving all the time. "Now you can tell how intense a cyclone is because you've got so much better satellite imagery and you can send research aircraft out there in its path, but in the past you couldn't."

The rising damage bill associated with tropical storms was linked to the increase of development along coastlines, increasing populations and higher insured values. Australian director of meteorology Geoff Love said in a statement: "Any significant increase in storm activity would compound these problems."

Dr McBride, Dr Kepert and their colleagues say that projected rises in sea levels "are a cause for concern" because "the primary cause of death (in a cyclone) is salt-water flooding associated with storm surge". The scientists say there is nothing to suggest that the extent of the regions in which cyclones are generated will increase significantly.


Environmentalists will cause California levees to break--which is what they want

Three Central Valley lawmakers unveiled flood-control bills Wednesday as part of a larger rollout of public works legislation sponsored by Assembly Republicans. Stockton's Greg Aghazarian, Fresno's Mike Villines and Richvale's Doug LaMalfa are carrying the legislation, all of which would suspend the California Environmental Quality Act for levee repairs. Assembly Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakers-field said the proposals, along with others to streamline road-building projects and protect highway money, represent their stance in the larger debate over public works that is dominating discussion at the Capitol.

Suspending CEQA, as the act is known, strips layers of bureaucratic red tape away from routine levee repair projects, Aghazarian and others say. Do this, and the dollars Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature are asking voters to spend will go farther. "We are looking to do something in California other than buy new studies," McCarthy said.

But levee engineers who actually do the fixing say the real hindrance to their efforts isn't CEQA, it's the federal Endangered Species Act. "The biggest, No. 1 problem is clearly ESA," said Joe Countryman of MBK Engineers, a firm that performs levee work in the Delta. "CEQA is much less onerous." Bill Darsie of Stockton-based Kjeldsen, Sinnock & Neudeck agreed. "CEQA really isn't the problem. The problem is ESA." To be sure, while Darsie says he's never seen it happen with levee work, the potential for problems does exist with CEQA. Should a group take umbrage with a maintenance project, it could use the law as a weapon to stop the project. "There are times when provisions of CEQA can be untenable," he said.

Aghazarian, who's sponsoring the bill to suspend CEQA for routine levee maintenance, said his proposal would eliminate that potential. "If CEQA's not the problem, let's put this in the code so it doesn't become a problem," Aghazarian said. "Why not do this if it has the potential to save someone's property or life?" Villines' proposal would allow the governor to declare a state of emergency to repair levees determined by either the Army Corps of Engineers or the state Department of Water Resources to be an imminent flood threat. Several such sites already have been identified in the Delta along the Sacramento River.

LaMalfa's bill would eliminate an existing requirement for levee repair crews to maintain the same amount of natural habitat they found before they did the repairs. Countryman said his work in the Delta faces this problem, but it's easily dealt with because new habitat springs up in unused corners of the Delta islands all the time.

Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, panned the ideas. "In a nutshell, these Assembly Republican bills roll back state environmental laws in the guise of flood protection," Maviglio said.

Aghazarian countered by noting that existing law exempted CEQA provisions for Pac Bell Park in San Francisco, the BART route in the East Bay and even for potential Olympic construction in California. "A lot of these make perfect sense, but we should at least have these same protections for our levees," he said. McCarthy said their public works package is a starting point; he knows it will not survive the greater public works debate intact. "What we're trying to do is bring solutions," he said. "We want to bring something to the table."


Future of nation's rivers, wetlands hinges on 2 key SCOTUS cases

Samuel Alito will make his Supreme Court debut with a splash this week when the justices hear two cases that could determine the future of the Clean Water Act. The cases, both from Michigan and scheduled for hearing on Tuesday, could have an enormous impact. For property-rights advocates, an unfavorable ruling could spread the shadow of federal regulation over every tiny stream and rivulet in America, stifling development. Federal authority would extend to "virtually every body of water in the nation -- every brook and pond, every dry wash -- that has any connection with navigable waters, no matter how remote," warned a coalition of water suppliers, farmers and the states of Alaska and Utah in one of more than 50 briefs filed with the court.

For environmentalists, a loss would strike at the heart of the nation's water resources. Federal agencies would be powerless to prevent "the discharge of sewage, toxic pollutants and fill into ... the large majority of our nation's rivers, streams and other waters," said clean-water agencies from two-thirds of the states, including California.

The two lawsuits challenge the federal government's power to prevent landowners from filling and developing wetlands -- marshes, ponds, drainage ditches or small streams -- that have some connection with a distant river or lake. Lower courts ruled in both cases that the Clean Water Act of 1972, which allows federal agencies to prevent pollution of navigable waters, regulates the filling of small wetlands that impact larger waterways, even those many miles away.

Property-rights groups argue that "navigable waters" must be interpreted to mean only rivers, streams and lakes that can be navigated by boat, or adjacent wetlands that significantly affect navigation or commerce on the larger waterways. The cases return the court to an issue it left unanswered in 2001, when it ruled 5-4 that the Clean Water Act did not give the government authority over wetlands that were used by migratory birds but were isolated from navigable rivers and lakes. The wetlands in the Michigan cases belong to a larger category of waters that are "hydrologically" connected to navigable waterways -- that is, they are part of the same water system.

The two cases, which will be heard together, are the first on the Supreme Court calendar for Alito, a veteran federal appeals court judge who won Senate confirmation last month to succeed the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. They will also be the first environmental cases for Chief Justice John Roberts, President Bush's other appointee, who was seated in October.

Conservation groups opposed both nominations, largely because of past rulings by Alito and Roberts that appeared to take a narrow view of Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce, the constitutional underpinning of federal environmental laws. Alito also took part in appeals court rulings that rejected a federal agency's water cleanup plan and limited private citizens' ability to challenge water pollution under the Clean Water Act. The Bush administration, which proposed limiting federal authority over wetlands in 2003 but backed off in the face of state opposition, is supporting the government's regulatory power before the court. A ruling is due by the end of June.

Like many Supreme Court cases, these are small-scale disputes with big implications. One landowner, John Rapanos of Midland, Mich., filled 50 acres of wetlands with sand in the 1980s so he could offer the property for sale to a shopping mall developer. The land is 20 miles from Saginaw Bay but is linked to it by ditches and streams. Rapanos was convicted in 1995 of a criminal violation of the Clean Water Act and could face a prison sentence if the Supreme Court rules against him.

Developers June and Keith Carabell were stopped by federal regulators from building a condominium complex on land near Mount Clemens, Mich., that includes 16 acres of wetlands. A berm, or earthen mound that impedes water flow, separates the swampy acreage from a drainage ditch that leads to a creek and a lake about a mile away. What happens in their cases could affect much of the 100 million acres of wetlands in the United States.

Ecologically, wetlands serve multiple functions: They filter pollutants from storm runoffs, limit flooding by absorbing water from heavy rains, and provide habitat for fish and wildlife. If the Clean Water Act, which protects navigable waters, is interpreted to allow widespread degradation of wetlands, "it would be like saying you cannot cut down a tree, but are free to poison its roots," said attorney James Murphy of the National Wildlife Federation, one of numerous conservation groups taking part in the case.

But property-rights groups say the issue is not whether sensitive waters should be protected but who -- the federal government or the states -- should do the protecting. "This case is about the federal government overstepping its authority, not about whether our water will be clean," said Rapanos' lawyer, Reed Hopper of the Pacific Legal Foundation in Sacramento. If federal authority was limited, he said, wetlands would still be "subject to vigorous protections imposed by states."

Most state governments disagree. Only one-third of the states, including California, have their own full-scale wetlands protection programs, and few states are likely to step in if federal regulation is withdrawn, state clean-water agencies said in court papers. They said the reasons are both financial and political -- protecting resources can be expensive, and often yields to "the inevitable competition for jobs and economic growth."

When the court barred federal regulation of isolated wetlands in 2001, states that tried to fill the gap found that developers' bulldozers moved more quickly than regulators, the state agencies said. But that wasn't true in California, which expanded its wetlands program after the 2001 ruling, said Walnut Creek attorney Roderick Walston, a former state lawyer who now represents the water-supply agencies and two states seeking to narrow federal regulation. "States are perfectly capable of doing the job once the Supreme Court establishes the exact dividing point between federal and state regulation," he 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.


21 February, 2006


Hot tub sales would have been dismal back in the dinosaur era, when the steaming ocean provided a free alternative. In fact, in some places it was too hot to dip a toe. A new study of ancient sediments and fossils indicates tropical Atlantic water ranged from 91 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit between 100 million and 84 million years ago. The same region today is typically 75 to 82 degrees. Hot tubs get very uncomfortable for most people above about 104 degrees.

"These temperatures are off the charts from what we've seen before," said Karen Bice, a paleoclimatologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The atmosphere had more heat-trapping carbon dioxide back then. Bice reported the findings today at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in St. Louis. The work will be detailed in the journal Paleoceanography. Scientists don't know what might have caused ocean temperatures to get so high. Climate models that consider increases in carbon dioxide can't account for it, Bice said.


Pollute the Bible to Save the Earth

Post lifted from Amy Ridenour

Noting that some Christians now are claiming -- literally -- to speak in the name of Jesus Christ ("In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, we urge all who read this declaration to join us in this effort") when they make pronouncements on global warming, I thought I would direct blog readers to this excellent paper by Samuel Casey Carter, "What Scriptures Tell Us About Environmental Stewardship."

Some excerpts:
Now that secular liberalism has all but driven orthodox religion out of public life, it should come as no surprise that heterodox spirituality has become the latest battering ram of the left. In a time when the Bible has been expunged from schoolrooms as an icon of Western bigotry, biblical arguments are now oddly on the comeback, recast as a fashionable means of pushing a leftist agenda. What is not to be expected is the degree to which well-meaning Christians have become the spokesmen of these distortions. Embracing the tenets of radical environmentalism without an eye to the manner in which these teachings are fundamentally hostile to Christian tradition, a new brand of Christian is out to save the earth, but in so doing he may well flip his faith upon its head...

...A number of Evangelical organizations have recently risen to prominence by popularizing what they take to be biblical mandates for their activist brand of environmentalism. With names like the Evangelical Environmental Network, the Christian Environmental Association, and the Christian Society of the Green Cross, a whole swarm of seemingly mainstream Protestant organizations conjures support for their activist programs through specious readings of disconnected biblical texts...

...But regardless of anyone's support for the Endangered Species Act, Superfund, or any of the programs initiated by the Environmental Protection Agency, the specific manipulation of biblical passages in order to achieve certain political goals is an abuse that must be met head on. If the Bible says anything about man's sound management of natural resources, it does so only in the setting of man's relationship with God...

...The [Evangelical Environmental Network's Declaration on the Care of Creation] sums up this state of affairs with the odd formulation, "because we have sinned, we have failed in our stewardship of creation." As it turns out, the material world is suffering for man's spiritual deficiencies. Make no mistake about it, this way of talking subordinates religious belief to a materialist view of the world... Throughout the Declaration all of the appeals to scriptural authority are a ruse. All of the pious inflections are a sham. The only concern here is for how the genius of human science will overcome the finite limits of God's creation. Interestingly, one of the chief expressions of that genius are the contraceptive methods necessary to "insure thoughtful procreation."

The reference to extending Christ's healing is particularly telling. In the same way Christ redeemed man, now man has to redeem the Earth. Needless to say, in all of man's saving activity, God is made redundant...

...Earth is not the proper object of man's religious longings. But when a man is taught to care for the Earth with a zeal reserved for the love of God, a few things are sure to be misplaced: God and man, for starters...

...Christian environmentalists have turned the world on its head. In using language reserved for God to show their concern for the Earth, they have only bred contempt for man and made a mockery of real religion. What they have not done is to make the Earth a proper object of worship. It can't be. But more to the point, theirs is not a genuine religious concern. They have simply invoked religious rhetoric to give new urgency to their worldly agenda. Sadly, for those who don't discern this agenda, this manner of speaking will make an idol of the Earth...

...When the Lord God revealed himself to Moses on Mount Sinai, he commanded all of Israel to have no false gods before him. In their fidelity to the Lord God, the people Israel kept the Lord's words in their hearts, on their wrists, before their eyes, and upon their door posts. When later they crossed the Jordan to take possession of the land that the Lord God had given them, they were careful to observe all the statutes and decrees that he had set before them.

Should they ever follow false gods, they would lose the land that the Lord God had given to them for their benefit...
These excerpts do not do the paper justice. Please read it all here.

Environmentalist Sports and How They Harm Us

Post lifted from Amy Ridenour

Alan Caruba of the National Anxiety Center sent along thoughts on a polar bear story.

Unfortunately, it is not a story about cute bears, but dangerous ones -- the environmentalists who are using the current unreformed and unsuccessful Endangered Species Act to bludgeon, sue and spend (with tax dollars) their way into controlling so much of this nation's economy Americans may someday almost start wishing they were in Stalinist Russia (another great leftie experiment gone oh-so-predicably and lethally awry).

Says Alan:
What could possibly be more arrogant than to think that humans should determine which species continues and which goes extinct? Or that humans can, in fact, keep a specie from going extinct?

A news item in the February 20 edition of U.S. News & World Report noted, "Citing concerns over climate change, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week began reviewing whether polar bears should be declared a threatened species. If they are, federal regulations would be required to considered the impact on the animals before ruling on such matters as industrial emissions or fuel economy standards."

I submit that is such madness and idiocy that the mere stating of the notion polar bears are going extinct or threatened by the alleged melting of the Arctic is too bizarre for rational people to contemplate. That said, the USFW will dispatch people "to collect data on polar bear population, distribution, the effects of climate change, and threats from development, contaminants, and poaching." Guess who set this nonsense in motion?

If you said the Center for Biological Diversity of Tucson, Arizona, you'd be right. Not exactly a hotbed of polar bear activity, the Center asserts that, "Arctic melting could cause polar bears to become extinct by century's end." "Could" is the key word here.

This is a splendid example of the way the environmental movement is forever cozying up to the federal government to get it to spend your tax dollars on projects of such dubious merit that a school child would dismiss it out of hand. Polar bears going extinct? The whole of the Arctic melting?

The last time I checked, the State of Alaska offered the wandering polar bears some 571,951 square miles, surrounded by 91,316 square miles of water in which to frolic. Alaska is the largest of all the U.S. States. Room enough for plenty of polar bears, scads of caribou, all manner of wildlife, and even the occasional oilrig or two with which to extract millions of barrels of oil from ANWR.

Could it be all the worrying about polar bears has nothing to do with polar bears and everything to do with thwarting the effort to reduce our dependence on the Middle East for the oil we consume? The answer is yes!

Environmentalists whose second greatest sport is playing God and whose first is getting laws passed to deprive people of the use of all public and private property in America, have been playing this game for a very long time. As this is being written, instead of just letting the Endangered Species Act go extinct, Congress is wrestling with ways to continue what is arguably the single worst piece of legislation of the past thirty-two years.

How's this for a record-setting level of incompetence? Since its enactment, the ESA has listed 1,300 species as endangered. Only 34 of these species have made it off the list and, of these, 9 are now extinct, 14 are now judged to have been improperly listed, and 9 have been judged to have "recovered" to be delisted. That's less than one percent!

The real story of the ESA is even worse than this appalling waste of tax dollars and the personnel to run about counting the population of these species. The ESA has been used to destroy the livelihood of thousands who worked for the northwestern timber industry, effecting turning some communities into ghost towns. The U.S. actually imports timber from Canada despite having an abundance of it here. The ESA was used to bludgeon the farmers in Klamath Falls, Oregon, when the water they needed for irrigation was shut off to protect a suckerfish! The examples of how the ESA has been used to deprive Americans of the value and use of their private property are endless.

The United States of America has got to rid itself of the folly of "saving" various species while decimating the lives and livelihood of Americans in the name of some fish or some owl, some wolf or some bear.

Ninety-five percent of all the species that ever called Earth home are extinct. Let's show some care for those that share the Earth, but let's not throw millions at their alleged survival because some environmentalists want to ruin our national economy.

America is not Disneyland where all the animals and fish sing and dance. America is the home to people who farm, who harvest trees, who graze livestock, who do all the hard work of providing us the food and other things we need.
See more of Alan's commentaries on a variety of subjects at the National Anxiety Center

Addicted to Nonsense

Article by Alan Caruba

On February 7, I received an email from the office of the House Minority Leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, with a headline that read as follows: Pelosi: "It is Long Past Time to Take Action to Prevent Climate Change."

Referencing "a gripping presentation to House Democrats on global warming" by former Vice President Al Gore, Pelosi's office quotes her as saying "The science is clear. It is long past time to take decisive action to prevent climate change. The energy proposals in the House Democrats' Innovation Agenda, which will move our nation toward energy independence, will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And we must do even more."

This is the politics of nonsense. What is needed is common sense. What do you think the Democrats, the Republicans, and the entire U.S. government can do about preventing climate change? Can the government prevent hurricanes? Tornadoes? Blizzards? The next Ice Age? The obvious answer is no. There is nothing any government on the face of the Earth can do about the climate except perhaps to help those affected by it. And, if hurricanes Katrina and Rita are any indicator, it doesn't do a particularly good job, despite throwing billions at the problem.

Then, too, the science about climate is not "clear." The best climatologists in the world have no really good idea why clouds do what they do. The entire "global warming" theory is based on computer models. Ginned up by the UN's International Panel for Climate Control, they have been revised and revised until it is quite obvious their creators and interpreters haven't a clue whether global warming is anything more than a perfectly normal climate cycle. At best, there is no indication of any dramatic change other than whatever the computers calculate. The data they use is, to be nice about it, limited at best.

What is truly remarkable is the way satellite and other data does a fairly good job predicting the weather in any region of the U.S. about a day or so in advance. If you are counting on the accuracy of a prediction for next week, you might as well just roll dice for an answer.

As for Pelosi's lament over "energy independence", someone better explain to her that we are currently importing slightly more than half of the oil necessary to meet our needs and that it comes from sixty different nations. Given the uncertainty of events in the Middle East, any shock to the system will drive up the price, but blame the Islamofascists for that. Meanwhile, the Democrats in Congress have spent the past twenty-five years preventing access to the development of ANWR's oil reserves.

The buzz in the energy industry is something called "peak oil"; the view that the world will be tapping its last barrels by pick-a-date. Rarely is the activation of new oil fields reported, but there are new fields and there are likely to be more in future. If you trust the naysayers, then buy a bicycle. On at least five occasions in the past, the public has been told that the world was running out of oil.

The good news is that the U.S. has huge reserves of coal that account for half of the electricity generated. (Previous efforts to begin coal gasification were dropped when the price of a barrel of oil hit $10, rendering it financially unfeasible.) We need more nuclear facilities to generate the electricity we need. And, after we have accessed offshore and other known oil fields, we may well begin to extract oil from the vast shale deposits in U.S. western states if it becomes economically feasible.

It is sad to hear the House Minority Leader spouting such nonsense and scary if she really believes what she is saying is true. In fairness, the President, in his State of the Union speech, called for energy independence, saying, "America is addicted to oil." No, we are not "addicted." We are, like all industrial societies, dependent. There's a difference. If our political leaders don't know the difference, if they continue to blather about "global warming" and "energy independence", then we all need to worry that our grandchildren could be back to lighting their homes with whale oil or kerosene. And here's where common sense should kick in. We all need to be more confident that the global energy industry is not going to leave us in the dark.


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 February, 2006

Bush's Chat With Novelist Alarms Environmentalists

One of the perquisites of being president is the ability to have the author of a book you enjoyed pop into the White House for a chat. Over the years, a number of writers have visited President Bush, including Natan Sharansky, Bernard Lewis and John Lewis Gaddis. And while the meetings are usually private, they rarely ruffle feathers. Now, one has.

In his new book about Mr. Bush, "Rebel in Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush," Fred Barnes recalls a visit to the White House last year by Michael Crichton, whose 2004 best-selling novel, "State of Fear," suggests that global warming is an unproven theory and an overstated threat. Mr. Barnes, who describes Mr. Bush as "a dissenter on the theory of global warming," writes that the president "avidly read" the novel and met the author after Karl Rove, his chief political adviser, arranged it. He says Mr. Bush and his guest "talked for an hour and were in near-total agreement. The visit was not made public for fear of outraging environmentalists all the more."

And so it has, fueling a common perception among environmental groups that Mr. Crichton's dismissal of global warming, coupled with his popularity as a novelist and screenwriter, has undermined efforts to pass legislation intended to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas that leading scientists say causes climate change.

Mr. Crichton, whose views in "State of Fear" helped him win the American Association of Petroleum Geologists' annual journalism award this month, has been a leading doubter of global warming and last September appeared before a Senate committee to argue that the supporting science was mixed, at best. "This shows the president is more interested in science fiction than science," said Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, after learning of the White House meeting. Mr. O'Donnell's group monitors environmental policy. "This administration has put no limit on global warming pollution, and has consistently rebuffed any suggestion to do so," he said.

Not so, according to the White House, which said Mr. Barnes's book left a false impression of Mr. Bush's views on global warming. Michele St. Martin, a spokeswoman for the Council on Environmental Quality, a White House advisory agency, pointed to several speeches in which Mr. Bush has acknowledged the impact of global warming and the need to confront it, even if he questions the degree to which humans contribute to it.



By Ronald Bailey, science correspondent for "Reason"

Earlier this week, the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, held a remarkably interesting conference titled "Panic Attack: The New Precautionary Culture, the Politics of Fear, and the Risks to Innovation." It was interesting not only because I was a participant, but because it looked at how many Western countries are losing their cultural nerve, as evidenced by the increasing cultural acceptance of the so-called precautionary principle. The strongest versions of the precautionary principle demand that innovators prove that their inventions will never cause harm before they are allowed to deploy or sell them. In other words, if an action might cause harm, then inaction is preferable. The problem is that all new activities, especially those involving scientific research and technological innovation, always carry some risks. Attempting to avoid all risk is a recipe for technological and economic stagnation.

At the AEI conference, University of Kent sociologist, Frank Furedi, summed up the danger of this loss of cultural nerve in a talk based on his new book Politics Of Fear: Beyond Left And Right. He identified five trends fueling the rise of risk aversion in Western cultures.

First, Furedi argued that there has been a shift in moral reaction to harm. People no longer believe in natural disasters or acts of God. Today, people suspect that someone is behind a disaster-an irresponsible corporation or a cowardly bureaucrat. Indeed, accidents don't happen anymore; they have been redefined as preventable injuries. Furedi argued that many of us now assume that every negative experience has some inner meaning. For example, when a teenager dies in a car crash, grieving parents regularly tell television reporters, "There is lesson to be learned from Johnny's death." The lesson usually is not that bad things randomly happen to good people, but that our roads don't have enough guard rails, or that we should enact laws to prevent teenagers from driving with friends and so forth. Furedi sees this kind of thinking as a return to pre-modern days of higher superstition, where every event has a deeper meaning. In the medieval era, the hand of God or the malevolent influence of Satan explained why people suffered misfortunes. Today the malevolent hand of government or corporate America is to blame for every catastrophe.

A second factor that Furedi sees contributing to our culture of risk aversion is that the nature of harms is represented in increasingly dramatic fashion. People are no longer expected to rise above adversity or encouraged to get on with their lives after they experience a hard knock. They are instead victims who are "scarred for life" and perpetually "haunted" by their misfortunes. Even the timescale of disaster has expanded. Anything that happens now produces consequences that you can never predict. Thus you have to be very careful about what you do today and worry about what might happen decades down the road. Treating people as permanent victims and constantly speculating about possible future harms is a recipe for social and economic paralysis.

The fear that actions like inventing new medicines, chemicals, and energy sources might have unknowable, irreversible, and ultimately catastrophic effects in the future leads to Furedi's third factor. Even as more people are living longer and healthier lives, life is perceived as a very dangerous thing. The boundary between analysis and speculation is eroded as worst case scenarios proliferate. What if an asteroid hits us; what if biotech wheat gets out of control; what if Iraq is giving weapons of mass destruction to terrorists? Worst case thinking decreases our cultural capacity to deal with uncertainty. Risk becomes something to avoid, not an opportunity to be seized.

The fourth trend that Furedi sees is the increasing treatment of safety as in end in itself. Furedi is not opposed to safety as a technical issue, of course, but he is against treating safety as a moral principle. Today, safety often acquires a "pseudo-moral" connotation as in "safe spaces," "safe medicine," and "safe sex." Furedi offered a personal story to illustrate what he meant. When he took his son to his new school, the principal told him, "Don't worry, our number one priority is your child's safety." Furedi responded, "I was hoping it was teaching him to read and write and do maths." A fifth trend that arises from our increasingly precautionary culture is a radical redefinition of personhood. People no longer believe that we have the capacity to cope and to act. We no longer really believe in the idea of individual autonomy. People are helplessly addicted to sex, alcohol, or shopping. People are represented as weak and vulnerable. More and more groups-children, women, minorities-are defined as "vulnerable." Policy is focused on reassuring and supporting people, and risk taking is stigmatized.

Despite these trends, Western countries still manage to innovate and take risks. Furedi acknowledges that in the physical world we still create all kinds of new technologies and are going ahead in a dramatic and positive fashion. He was advised to go to Silicon Valley to find real risk takers and he did find driven creative people working hard to create new technologies. But Furedi pointed out that the refrigerators of these same swashbuckling techno-entrepreneurs are chock full of pesticide-free produce; they abhor tobacco; drink just half a glass of wine with dinner; and wear knee pads, elbow pads, and helmets to go bike riding. "In terms of their lifestyles, they are very very precautionary, pussycats basically," said Furedi.

"But in the world of meaning, however, we've become very very confused," he argued. Furedi pointed to corporate advertising, which is seldom overtly about business or profits. Instead ads show blue skies and an interracial mixture of babies frolicking happily together. Corporations find it difficult to affirm culturally what they are really doing, that is, creating products, providing services, and making profits. To be called a risk taker used to be considered a compliment; it now carries generally negative connotations. Risk taking is just short of pedophilia in provoking social opprobrium. "Today, no one is criticized for not taking risks," said Furedi.

In the end, Furedi was very good at diagnosing what is wrong with our contemporary culture of fear, but he had very few concrete suggestions about how to restore people's belief in progress and the power of human creativity.

In 1982, the superbrilliant thinker Herman Kahn published The Coming Boom in which he pleaded for the re-establishment of "an ideology of progress." Kahn warned:

Two out of three Americans polled in recent years believe that their grandchildren will not live as well as they do, i.e., they tend to believe the vision of the future that is taught in our school system. Almost every child is told that we are running out of resources; that we are robbing future generations when we use these scarce, irreplaceable, or nonrenewable resources in silly, frivolous and wasteful ways; that we are callously polluting the environment beyond control; that we are recklessly destroying the ecology beyond repair; that we are knowingly distributing foods which give people cancer and other ailments but continue to do so in order to make a profit. It would be hard to describe a more unhealthy, immoral, and disastrous educational context, every element of which is either largely incorrect, misleading, overstated, or just plain wrong. What the school system describes, and what so many Americans believe, is a prescription for low morale, higher prices and greater (and unnecessary) regulations.

Kahn turned out to be right about the boom, but most of the intellectual class is still burdened with an anti-progress ideology that remains a significant drag on scientific, technological and policy innovation. As Furedi and Kahn point out, overcoming the pervasive pessimism of the intellectual class is the major piece of work left for us to do in the 21st century.


Canada's new Conservative environment minister is taking over leadership of a key United Nations body overseeing the Kyoto Protocol but plans to use the post to push the party's differing vision on climate change. Rona Ambrose confirmed Friday that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has given notice to the UN that she will succeed her Liberal predecessor Stephane Dion in Canada's presidency of the Conference of Parties. The group is responsible for negotiating the next phase of greenhouse-gas emission reductions under the treaty, which marked the first anniversary of its implementation on Thursday. "It's a great opportunity, a privilege," Ambrose said after meeting B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner. "We have some action plans that we have that you'll become familiar with in a short while around attacking climate change and clean air. It gives us an opportunity at the international stage to come forward with some of these ideas."

But despite the appointment, Ambrose did nothing to diminish the perception that the Conservatives aren't committed to the agreement. "We are a signatory to 59 international agreements that I'm learning about all the time and a lot of them we're very active in," said Ambrose, an MP from Edmonton. "On Kyoto, I will tell you that our government and our prime minister is very clear that there has to be a direct benefit to the Canadian environment and potentially to Canadian commercial investment in clean-air technology." Ambrose said the government will pursue elements of the Kyoto protocol that fit within her mandate to focus on domestic air pollution.

The use of emissions credits under Kyoto to offset over-production of greenhouse gases is a problem for Ambrose. "There will not be opportunities under this government, unlike the previous government, to purchase hot-air credits and allow Canadian companies to pollute on Canadian soil," she said. "Any sort of emission trading, whether it's domestic, international, has to have a direct benefit to the Canadian environment."

More here


Europe's top environment official marked the one-year anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol on Thursday by accusing the U.S. of not doing enough to combat climate change -- despite the fact that many of the treaty's most enthusiastic supporters have done significantly worse than America in dealing with "greenhouse gas" emissions......

Washington says it shares the Kyoto goal of reducing emissions of CO2 and other pollutants blamed for climate change, but that its partnership with China, Japan, South Korea, India and Australia is a better way to achieve it. Environmental groups are highly skeptical of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, calling it an attempt by the U.S. and Australia to undermine Kyoto. The State Department said last week the initiative "will complement, but not replace, the Kyoto Protocol.".....

In the U.S., figures released by the Energy Information Administration at the end of 2004 showed that emissions had risen by 13.4 percent from 1990 levels. But according to 2003 figures cited by Friends of the Earth Europe this week, some countries which, unlike the U.S., do have legally binding Kyoto targets are doing as badly, or even worse. For instance, Austria was set a Kyoto target of -13 percent, but emissions are running at +16.6 percent. Italy's target was -6.5 percent, and its actual emissions are +11.6 percent. Others that are off target include Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain, while France, Britain and Germany are nearer to being on track.

Compared to the aggregate -8 percent target for the E.U.'s then 15 member states, the actual situation is -1.7. "If current trends continue, Europe will not meet its Kyoto target," the green group said, adding that "if emission levels continue to develop as they did over the last three years, the [15 E.U. members'] emissions in 2010 will be +2.8 percent above of what they were in 1990." Other industrialized countries with Kyoto targets are doing no better. Canada was set a target of -6 percent but is emitting +24 percent of its 1990 levels. Japan's target is -6 percent, and emissions are running at +7.4 percent.

New Zealand's government announced in mid-2005 that it would be unable to meet its Kyoto commitment -- a target of no change from 1990 levels -- and the country was warned that compliance would cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

In Washington, the Competitive Enterprise Institute said Kyoto's future looked bleak, as countries that have agreed to cut their emissions realize the costs involved. "Even as they damage their economies with limits on energy use, emissions continue to go up," said Myron Ebell, the institute's director of energy and global warming policy. "The sooner that Kyoto's supporters realize that it's a dead end, the better off the world will be.".......

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.


19 February, 2006


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration is expected this month to release a plan to combat global warming that recommends raising petroleum prices [i.e. a TAX] and requiring industries to report, for the first time, their greenhouse gas emissions. The increase in gas prices would fund research into alternative fuels. Nine months ago, Schwarzenegger garnered international headlines by calling for California to mount an aggressive effort to address global warming. Now he faces the difficult part: shepherding new policies into place that could affect [COST]every car owner, farmer and big industry in the state.

The proposal, drafted by the governor's senior environmental advisers, has both business groups and clean-air advocates girding for a fight in Sacramento that could have profound national environmental and political implications. With President Bush reluctant to steer federal policy toward lowering greenhouse gas emissions, states and cities have taken the lead on what most environmentalists agree is the most critical issue facing the planet. "What you're considering in California is much broader than anything being discussed in other states -- it's very significant,'' said Ned Helme, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Clean Air Policy, a nonprofit environmental think tank.

For Schwarzenegger, global warming could be a tricky political issue this year. Sources at the state Environmental Protection Agency -- which is charged with writing the recommendations to achieve Schwarzenegger's goals -- say the proposal will call for a new charge on petroleum equal to less than a penny per gallon of gasoline. Conservative activists have begun to complain about the idea, branding it a gas tax. The proposal could be released just before the state Republican Convention, which begins Feb. 24, where GOP activists already are preparing to debate resolutions condemning other Schwarzenegger proposals they disagree with.

And environmentalists, who have had a rocky relationship with the governor, will watch closely this year to see if Schwarzenegger is willing to champion changes likely to be opposed by some of the governor's big-business allies. Many in the environmental movement complain that Schwarzenegger has done far more talking about clean-air policies than enacting them. "So far, it's been policy by press release,'' said V. John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies. "The key is whether the governor will stand by these proposals and actually do them.'' ....

Schwarzenegger instructed a team of administration officials, led by state EPA head Alan Lloyd, to compile a report detailing how emissions could be cut. A draft of the report was published in December; the final version is expected to be released by the end of this month. The draft report listed dozens of options -- many already under way -- to lower emissions, ranging from requiring farmers to change the way they handle animal manure to ramping up the state's use of the wind and sun to generate electricity. The report will be delivered to the governor's office and the Legislature. Many of the proposals would have to be enacted through legislation. The report noted that the state faces numerous problems, from less water to increased strength and frequency of storms, if it does not act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also argued that stimulating innovative technologies to reduce pollution can create jobs and save consumers money.

Among the report's recommendations are two that are likely to become hot-button issues in Sacramento: adding a so-called public goods charge [TAX] on gasoline and requiring industries like cement makers, electricity generators and oil refineries to report their greenhouse gas emissions. Industries are regulated with respect to many emissions, such as sulfur dioxide, but don't face the same controls on greenhouse gases. The added charge on gasoline would pay for research into alternative fuels and other ways to make cars more fuel-efficient....

Business groups say further driving up the price of fuel will hurt the economy. "I think if you look at most polling, Californians want their taxes on gas to go toward improving the transportation system, not toward something that might marginally improve carbon emissions,'' said Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, which is spearheading a new coalition called Sustainable Environment and Economy for California, or SEECalifornia, that intends to represent business interests as the global warming initiative progresses.

Zaremberg said the new business coalition will argue that many of the ideas in the draft report would do little to address global warming. He noted that restricting cement makers, for example, could lead manufacturers to leave the state. "You're not going to reduce the demand for cement, you'll just move the production to China or Arizona or anywhere else with fewer restrictions,'' he said. "Then you have a situation that is actually worse for global warming, with lesser environmental standards than California already has, and you add in the truck traffic needed to get the cement back to California.'' .....

What Schwarzenegger will do with the final report remains to be seen. Many clean-air advocates were disappointed that the governor didn't mention the issue in his State of the State speech last month.....

More here


Reality bites even in ideologically fanatical Britain

The Government admitted yesterday that Britain will miss its global warming targets by a huge margin because of rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions from heavy industry. Figures published by the Department for Trade and Industry reveal carbon emissions from the power generation industry and heavy users of energy such as iron and steel, chemicals and glass manufacturers are likely to be far above the targets the UK has signed up to, both voluntarily and under the Kyoto Protocol.

The DTI's projections show carbon dioxide emissions from industry are likely to average at least 263 million tons and possibly as much as 270 million tons a year between 2008 and 2012. That compares with the 245 million tons UK industry is allowed to emit under the European Union's current emissions scheme.

A DTI spokeswoman said the UK's total carbon dioxide emissions, including the contribution from homes, cars and air travel, was now expected to total some 529 million tons by 2010. That is 10.6 per cent below their level in 1990 - but compared with the Government's own target of a 20 per cent cut - or even the 12 per cent reduction required to meet Kyoto, they are not meeting requirements.

In 2004, the projection for total CO2 emissions in 2010 was 518 million tons, suggesting the UK is getting further and further away from meeting its targets.......

The Independent, 18 February 2006


Let them get tomorrow's weather right first

The UK could face major flooding and tropical temperatures by the year 3000 if greenhouse gas emissions are not sharply reduced, a new study says. The report, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, claims Britain could look radically different with sea levels rising as much as 11.4m. The study was commissioned by the Environment Agency. However, other researchers cautioned that it was extremely difficult to make climate forecasts so far in advance. The study, which was led from the University of East Anglia (UEA), modelled the climate impacts of three possible scenarios.....

BBC News Online, 16 February 2006

You couldn't make this up: Now even the U.K. ban on smoking causes global warming!

War declared on patio heaters

As campaigners cheer a total smoking ban, there are fears sending smokers outside will lead to a huge increase in greenhouse gas-emitting patio heaters. Labour MP Stephen Pound said when he visited Ireland recently - where a smoking ban is already in force - pub gardens were "covered" in the heaters. Britain's greenhouse gas emissions are already up by 380,000 tonnes a year due to such devices, it is claimed.

Lib Dem Norman Baker advised smokers to "enjoy the bracing air" instead. The BBC's environment correspondent Roger Harrabin said patio heaters have become a "beacon of aspiration" for those keen on enjoying outdoor dining, in the UK's unpredictable climate.

During Tuesday's smoking debate in the Commons Ealing North MP Mr Pound told members of his recent trip to Temple Bar area of Dublin, where a smoking ban in public places is already in force. "What an extraordinary sight greeted me when, with a number of my Parliamentary colleagues and several members of the Dail, I visited a number of pubs to find that all of them fell into one or other of two categories. "Either the entire perimeter area was covered with patio heaters and armchairs so that anybody who wanted to go into the admittedly smoke-free pub had to fight their way through a tangible fug of nicotine-soaked air to get into the damned place in the first place, which makes something of a nonsense of it," said Mr Pound, who has vowed to give up smoking following the ban vote.

Health campaigners have welcomed a vote paving the way for a ban on smoking in all pubs, clubs and restaurants in England, which will come into effect from the summer of 2007 following a free vote by MPs. But the increased use of patio heaters is also of growing concern to some politicians. Labour's Desmond Turner, MP for Brighton Kemptown, wants to ban them completely, calling them a "waste of energy". He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The use of patio heaters accounts for about one million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, which immediately cancels out, for instance, the savings made by government changes to vehicle taxations."

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Norman Baker agreed that patio heaters were a "waste of resources" and "doomed to failure". He told the BBC News website: "If I see patio heaters I try to make the point in a barbed comment to the person using it. "I'm not against people smoking outside, it's better than them smoking inside, but I think they should enjoy the bracing air around them." He later said the government should establish an effective strategy, such as selling patio heaters with "health warning" style labels. "Patio heaters are an absurd invention. It is ludicrous that people are trying to heat the open air, as well as being irresponsible in the light of the climate change challenge we face. "Instead of reaching for the gas canister people should reach for another jumper instead," he added.

Parliamentary questions by Mr Baker have revealed Britain's greenhouse gas emissions are up by 380,000 tonnes a year due to patio heaters. Using a patio heater for two hours produces the same amount of carbon dioxide as a car produces in an average day, it is claimed.

But smokers' campaign group Forest hit back. Director Simon Clark said any notion of banning patio heaters was "barking mad". He said the moved smacked of "petty vindictiveness" towards smokers. "Is it that these MPs simply do not like the idea that smokers might be moderately comfortable smoking outdoors?" he asked. He said the damage to the environment from patio heaters was "minuscule" in terms of the overall effect.

BBC News Online, 16 February 2006

Gutting Kyoto: "The worldwide press hailed the December negotiations in Montreal over the Kyoto Protocol for producing an 'historic climate agreement.' As the London Independent put it, 'The fight against catastrophic global warming scored its greatest success to date yesterday, when negotiators from more than 180 nations unexpectedly agreed to develop far-reaching measures.' The agreement truly was historic as the greatest modification of Kyoto's terms since its inception in 1997 -- although not for the reasons The Independent and other hailers proclaimed. The agreement effectively guts Kyoto's claim to being 'legally binding' and its potentially onerous provisions."


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 February, 2006

European hypocrisy on Kyoto's Anniversary: Despite Bitterly Nagging the U.S. to Adopt Kyoto, Europe Fails to Meet Kyoto Targets

February 16 marks the Kyoto Protocol's first anniversary -- it's been one year since the UN global warming agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions went into effect. But don't plan on uncorking the bubbly any time soon. In spite of claims by the European Union's top brass that the targets for reducing energy use are easily in reach-and their nagging pressure on the United States to sign the treaty-the glaring failure of Europe's nations to meet the treaty's targets has put the partying on hold.

The Kyoto Protocol requires industrialized countries to cut carbon dioxide emissions by an average 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. But 13 of the 15 original members of the European Union have increased their emissions since 1990, not reduced them. New data by the EU's own European Environmental Agency show that by 2010, the 15 nations' emissions collectively will exceed 1990 levels by seven percent.

And while leaders within the EU are pushing for even more stringent caps beyond 2012, the year the Kyoto Protocol expires, other key players believe Kyoto has no future. The UN climate talks in Montreal last December was telling. There, member countries failed to agree on binding emissions cuts for post-2012, and the climate shifted toward a discussion of clean energy and new technology development as a policy alternative to Kyoto.

Handicapping Kyoto's future is the fact that the treaty is economic suicide, and most European nations know it. According to the Brussels economic research organization International Council for Capital Formation (ICCF), the UK's gross domestic product will fall more than 1 percent in 2010 from what it otherwise would be, Italy's by more than 2 percent, and Spain's by more than 3 percent as a result of Kyoto's emissions targets. The UK, Italy, and Germany each would lose at least 200,000 jobs; Spain would lose 800,000.

For what? Even if European nations did comply with the Kyoto targets, for all the economic hardship, they'd achieve a paltry reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 0.1 percent by 2010, according to Margo Thorning, economist and managing director of ICCF.

The harsh reality of an economic plunge with little to show for it has caused some key European political leaders to do an about-face on Kyoto. The UK's Prime Minister Tony Blair, a previous Kyoto die-hard, has had to deal first-hand with the economic sacrifices of Kyoto round one. And while the UK is one of only two European nations that so far are meeting the Kyoto targets, Blair's new enough-is-enough stance is telling. "I'm changing my thinking about this... No country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long-term environmental problem," he told government and private-sector leaders at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York last September. "I don't think people are going to start negotiating another major treaty like Kyoto."

Similarly, Italy's Defense Minister Antonio Martino recently had harsh words for the EU's stubborn pursuit: "That the EU would still insist on implementing the protocol must be seen as an institutional form of collective self-flagellation. Kyoto will severely penalize the European economy without bringing any real progress toward the noble aims proclaimed by the EU."

Enter the Asia-Pacific Partnership, a new coalition of Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and the United States, committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the development of new, clean technologies. The gang of six, who first met officially last month in Sydney, will invest in new R&D promoting cleaner sources of energy and work with China and India to utilize them. By comparison, Kyoto failed to sign up China and India, the emerging industrial giants that together emit over 20 percent of the world's greenhouse gases.

Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the new pact will not force its signatories to cut fossil fuel production or cap greenhouse gas emissions but will work to develop new sources of energy that will curb emissions long into the future. Also unlike the Kyoto Protocol, this club's members comprise almost half the world's greenhouse gas emitters, all committed to reducing emissions without sacrificing economic growth.

The Kyoto Protocol's one-year anniversary is a reminder that the agreement's future looks bleak and that more realistic and sensible approaches to develop new methods and clean sources of energy for all industrial nations are likely to be around for a long time to come.

Source. Laer also has some derisive comments plus a cartoon!


If they start importing ethanol produced from sugarcane instead of importing oil it would make economic sense but it sounds like they are aiming for "self-sufficiency" -- in which case they will encounter huge costs in reaching their goals. Forests are an even more ludicrous source of ethanol than corn. And you would have to be quite a magician to make a tropical crop like sugarcane grow in icy Sweden. My bet is that they will just end up impoverishing themselves

Sweden is to take the biggest energy step of any advanced western economy by trying to wean itself off oil completely within 15 years - without building a new generation of nuclear power stations. The attempt by the country of 9 million people to become the world's first practically oil-free economy is being planned by a committee of industrialists, academics, farmers, car makers, civil servants and others, who will report to parliament in several months.

The intention, the Swedish government said yesterday, is to replace all fossil fuels with renewables before climate change destroys economies and growing oil scarcity leads to huge new price rises. "Our dependency on oil should be broken by 2020," said Mona Sahlin, minister of sustainable development. "There shall always be better alternatives to oil, which means no house should need oil for heating, and no driver should need to turn solely to gasoline."

According to the energy committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, there is growing concern that global oil supplies are peaking and will shortly dwindle, and that a global economic recession could result from high oil prices. Ms Sahlin has described oil dependency as one of the greatest problems facing the world. "A Sweden free of fossil fuels would give us enormous advantages, not least by reducing the impact from fluctuations in oil prices," she said. "The price of oil has tripled since 1996." A government official said: "We want to be both mentally and technically prepared for a world without oil. The plan is a response to global climate change, rising petroleum prices and warnings by some experts that the world may soon be running out of oil."

Sweden, which was badly hit by the oil price rises in the 1970s, now gets almost all its electricity from nuclear and hydroelectric power, and relies on fossil fuels mainly for transport. Almost all its heating has been converted in the past decade to schemes which distribute steam or hot water generated by geothermal energy or waste heat. A 1980 referendum decided that nuclear power should be phased out, but this has still not been finalised. The decision to abandon oil puts Sweden at the top of the world green league table. Iceland hopes by 2050 to power all its cars and boats with hydrogen made from electricity drawn from renewable resources, and Brazil intends to power 80% of its transport fleet with ethanol derived mainly from sugar cane within five years.

Last week George Bush surprised analysts by saying that the US was addicted to oil and should greatly reduce imports from the Middle East. The US now plans a large increase in nuclear power.

The British government, which is committed to generating 10% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2012, last month launched an energy review which has a specific remit to consider a large increase in nuclear power. But a report by accountants Ernst & Young yesterday said that the UK was falling behind in its attempt to meet its renewables target. "The UK has Europe's best wind, wave and tidal resources yet it continues to miss out on its economic potential," said Jonathan Johns, head of renewable energy at Ernst & Young.

Energy ministry officials in Sweden said they expected the oil committee to recommend further development of biofuels derived from its massive forests, and by expanding other renewable energies such as wind and wave power.

Sweden has a head start over most countries. In 2003, 26% of all the energy consumed came from renewable sources - the EU average is 6%. Only 32% of the energy came from oil - down from 77% in 1970. The Swedish government is working with carmakers Saab and Volvo to develop cars and lorries that burn ethanol and other biofuels. Last year the Swedish energy agency said it planned to get the public sector to move out of oil. Its health and library services are being given grants to convert from oil use and homeowners are being encouraged with green taxes. The paper and pulp industries use bark to produce energy, and sawmills burn wood chips and sawdust to generate power.



Sounds like a stretch but it could be. Note that it's not the sclerotic old U.S. auto companies introducing it

For years diesel engines have been the rage in Europe. They're powerful, use relatively cheap fuel, and can propel a car 40 miles on a single gallon. But they've never really caught on in the U.S., where memories of 1970s-era soot-belching diesel cars still linger. Now, DaimlerChrysler (DCX ) is trying to clear away that old image. The company has engineered a new emissions technology that promises to make diesel as clean-burning as gasoline. Daimler also has just announced plans to unveil its clean-diesel exhaust system in the U.S. in the latest Mercedes E-class sedans.

Daimler's system, called BlueTec, uses a catalytic converter and specialized filters to reduce harmful nitrogen-oxide emissions. The company is betting BlueTec will turn U.S. drivers on to diesel and give hybrids fresh competition. The reason: Mercedes clean-diesel cars will cost less than an equivalent hybrid while offering greater power and acceleration, plus up to 40% better mileage over conventional gas engines. That's a lure for Americans who love big cars and off-road vehicles. And diesels can go 500 miles without a fill-up.

Diesel has floundered in the U.S. because oil companies haven't offered the clean fuel required in Europe. Since diesel pollutes more than regular gas in the U.S., such big markets as California and New York refuse to register new diesel cars. Later this year, though, the feds will require oil companies to switch to the low-sulfur diesel long available in Europe, eliminating the soot problem.

But Daimler's exhaust-treatment technology will go a big step further, cleaning up to 80% of the remaining nitrogen-oxide emissions. That, combined with good mileage, will make diesel a truly green U.S. driving alternative for the first time. DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche likens Mercedes' emissions-control solution to Silicon Valley tech breakthroughs. "It's our intention that customers regard BlueTec for diesels [as] similar to 'Intel Inside' for PCs," says Zetsche.

That sounds like a stretch. But many industry experts believe a new generation of clean-diesel cars will eventually win over Americans and that diesel will become the dominant technology for fuel-efficient autos. While hybrids get better mileage only in the city, diesel cars consume less fuel in all driving conditions. Market researcher J.D. Power & Associates (like BusinessWeek, a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies) forecasts diesel will take 11.8% of the U.S. market by 2015, up from about 3% now. Says Anthony Pratt, a senior J.D. Power analyst: "We think it will fly, and the Europeans have the most to gain."

Daimler isn't the only one to recognize the opportunity. Volkswagen, which is working on two different clean-diesel technologies, saw its U.S. diesel sales double in 2005, to 25% of total sales. It already sells Jetta, Golf, and Beetle diesel models in the U.S. The first VW clean-diesel model will be a Touareg SUV, slated to launch this year. BMW and Audi also have plans for diesels, as do Nissan and Honda. If the Japanese mass marketers put their muscle behind diesel, it will suddenly have much broader appeal.


Daimler, which also intends to put BlueTec into Chryslers, appears to have an early jump, but hurdles remain. Perhaps the biggest: Oil companies need to update their filling stations with modern, user-friendly pumps for passenger cars. And some diesel critics note that the cost of the equipment to clean up diesel's emissions will bring the premium for clean-diesel cars close to that of a hybrid, especially in smaller models.

Mercedes insists that the premium over a gasoline E-Class will be less than $2,000, compared with at least $4,000 for a hybrid. Even that added cost could be partially offset if the U.S. government proceeds with plans to offer diesel the same tax benefits hybrids now enjoy. Toyota Motor Corp. may have stolen the limelight on fuel efficiency with its hybrid Prius. But if the new crop of Daimler clean diesels catches on, the real debate about green car technology may be just beginning.



Plants around the world are using water much more efficiently, thanks to increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The effect is so pronounced, says a new study, that it is massively increasing river flows and raising the risks of flooding. "We think it has added about 2000 cubic kilometres to annual global runoff, which is a pretty big deal," says Nicola Gedney of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Exeter, UK, who led the study.

The extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from burning carbon-based fossil fuels. Rising concentrations of the gas are believed to warming the atmosphere. But they also make it easier for plants to absorb the gas and convert it to plant tissue through photosynthesis, using less moisture in the process. At the small scale this means plants release less moisture into the air through the pores on their leaves. Across the landscape, it leaves more moisture in soils and flowing into rivers.

Water mystery

Each year, about 40,000 cubic kilometres of water flows down the world's rivers - a figure that grew by about 3% during the 20th century. Until now, most researchers have blamed the burgeoning flow on climate change. But Gedney says that over the land surface of the planet as a whole, climate change has probably reduced rainfall, so that theory does not hold water, as it were. To reach her conclusion, Gedney tested four different theories for why river flows are rising. In each case, she compared predictions of their likely impact on river flow, made using the Hadley Centre's climate model, with actual trends. She compared both the global trend and different trends on different continents.

The four theories for rising river flows were:

1. recent changes in rainfall
2. land-use changes, such as chopping down forests
3. man-made particles in the air that dim sunlight and reduces evaporation
4. more-efficient photosynthesis, caused by increased carbon dioxide in the air

Only the modelled effects of carbon dioxide came close to matching the actual pattern of changes in river flows.

Combined effect

"Climate change on its own would have slightly reduced run-off, whereas the carbon dioxide effect on plants would have increased global run-off by about 5%," Gedney told New Scientist. The combined effect of the two comes close to the 3% increase in flow actually observed, and also matches the regional pattern.

Peter Cox of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Winfrith, UK, says the findings are the "the first time anyone has detected the direct effect of carbon dioxide on plants at large scales".

Damon Matthews at the University of Calgary, Canada, warns that there could be other factors involved in changing river flows. But he agrees that, of the theories put forward to date, only changing photosynthesis seems to fit the bill.

Journal reference: Nature (vol 439, p 835) news service, 15 February 2006


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 February, 2006


That the polar ice caps will melt and cause a vast rise in the sea-level is the core of the global warming scare. Unfortunately, the Southern icecap is being un-co-operative. Central Antractica is, if anything, cooling. That leaves the Northern icecap. Some parts of the Arctic are in fact warming but most of the Northern icecap floats on the sea and basic physics tells you that the melting of floating ice does exactly nothing to the water level of the body in which it floats. So the Greenland icecap is the big question-mark. Most of the land-based Northern icecap is located there. If it were to melt, that might have some effect. Initial evidence, however, indicated that Greenland is being pesky too. Contrary to what the global warmers want, Greenland seems to be COOLING. In recent years, however, much new evidence and commentary has become available on the question. Some of it is reproduced below. The results are cold comfort (to coin a phrase) for the global warmers:

Recent Ice-Sheet Growth in the Interior of Greenland

By: Ola M. Johannessen, Kirill Khvorostovsky 2, Martin W. Miles, Leonid P. Bobylev

A continuous data set of Greenland Ice Sheet altimeter height from ERS-1 and ERS-2 satellites, 1992 to 2003, has been analyzed. An increase of 6.4 ñ 0.2 centimeters per year is found in the vast interior areas above 1500 meters, in contrast to previous reports of high-elevation balance. Below 1500 meters, the elevation-change rate is -2.0 ñ 0.9 cm/year, in qualitative agreement with reported thinning in the ice-sheet margins. The spatially averaged increase is 5.4 ñ 0.2 cm/year, or ~60 cm over 11 years, or ~54 cm when corrected for isostatic uplift. Winter elevation changes are shown to be linked to the North Atlantic Oscillation.

(The above abstract is from Science, 20 October 2005. Below is a fuller account of the work:)

Greenland's ice cap has thickened slightly in recent years despite wide predictions of a thaw triggered by global warming

Recent growth in the interior regions of the Greenland Ice Sheet is reported by a Norwegian-led team of climate scientists. The growth is estimated to be about 6 cm per year during the study period, 1992-2003. They derive and analyse the longest continuous dataset of satellite altimeter observations of Greenland Ice Sheet elevations by combining tens of millions of data points from European Space Agency (ESA) satellites, called ERS-1 and ERS-2, and NASA. This allowed the scientists to determine the spatial patterns of surface elevation variations and changes over an 11-year period between 1992 and 2003.

The motivation for the study of the Greenland Ice Sheet is related to global climate change. First, complete melting of the ice sheet would raise the global sea level up to 7 meters. This process, expected to occur on a millennial time scale, should begin upon crossing the critical threshold for surface air temperature increase (~3§C) for Greenland, which is predicted to happen before the end of this century. Second, increased Greenland Ice Sheet melt and freshwater input into the northern North Atlantic Ocean is theorized to weaken the Gulf Stream at high latitudes and possibly even disrupt the global thermohaline circulation on a relatively rapid, multi-decadal time scale. If this were to happen, it would severely impact the climate of northern Europe and even on a global scale.

Efforts to measure changes in the Greenland Ice Sheet from field observations, aircraft and satellite remote sensing - such as altimeters that measure surface height - have improved our knowledge over the past decade. However, there is still no consensus assessment of the overall mass balance of the ice sheet. There is however evidence of melting and thinning in the coastal marginal areas in recent years, as well as indications that large Greenland outlet glaciers can surge, possibly in response to climate.

However, much less known are changes that may occur in the vast elevated interior area of the ice sheet (Images 1 and 2). Previous studies by American scientists had reported a high-elevation ice-sheet balance. However, those assessments were based on a limited number of tracks of aerial altimetry, unevenly sampled in space and time, as well as short records from satellites.


ERS altimeter survey shows growth of Greenland Ice Sheet interior

Researchers have utilised more than a decade's worth of data from radar altimeters on ESA's ERS satellites to produce the most detailed picture yet of thickness changes in the Greenland Ice Sheet.

A Norwegian-led team used the ERS data to measure elevation changes in the Greenland Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2003, finding recent growth in the interior sections estimated at around six centimetres per year during the study period. The research is due to be published by Science Magazine in November, having been published in the online Science Express on 20 October.

ERS radar altimeters work by sending 1800 separate radar pulses down to Earth per second then recording how long their echoes take to bounce back 800 kilometres to the satellite platform. The sensor times its pulses' journey down to under a nanosecond to calculate the distance to the planet below to a maximum accuracy of two centimetres.

ESA has had at least one working radar altimeter in polar orbit since July 1991, when ERS-1 was launched. ESA's first Earth Observation spacecraft was joined by ERS-2 in April 1995, then the ten-instrument Envisat satellite in March 2002.

The result is a scientifically valuable long-term dataset covering Earth's oceans and land as well as ice fields - which can be used to reduce uncertainty about whether land ice sheets are growing or shrinking as concern grows about the effects of global warming.

The ice sheet covering Earth's largest island of Greenland has an area of 1 833 900 square kilometres and an average thickness of 2.3 kilometres. It is the second largest concentration of frozen freshwater on Earth and if it were to melt completely global sea level would increase by up to seven metres.

The influx of freshwater into the North Atlantic from any increase in melting from the Greenland Ice Sheet could also weaken the Gulf Stream, potentially seriously impacting the climate of northern Europe and the wider world.

Efforts to measure changes in the Greenland Ice Sheet using field observations, aircraft and satellites have improved scientific knowledge during the last decade, but there is still no consensus assessment of the ice sheet's overall mass balance. There is however evidence of melting and thinning in the coastal marginal areas in recent years, as well as indications that large Greenland outlet glaciers can surge, possibly in response to climate variations.

Much less known are changes occurring in the vast elevated interior area of the ice sheet. Therefore an international team of scientists - from Norway's Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (NERSC), Mohn-Sverdrup Center for Global Ocean Studies and Operational Oceanography and the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Russia's Nansen International Environmental and Remote Sensing Center and the United States' Environmental Systems Analysis Research Center - were compelled to derive and analyse the longest continuous dataset of satellite altimeter observations of Greenland Ice Sheet elevations.

By combining tens of millions of data points from ERS-1 and ERS-2, the team determined spatial patterns of surface elevation variations and changes over an 11-year period.

The result is a mixed picture, with a net increase of 6.4 centimetres per year in the interior area above 1500 metres elevation. Below that altitude, the elevation-change rate is minus 2.0 cm per year, broadly matching reported thinning in the ice-sheet margins. The trend below 1500 metres however does not include the steeply-sloping marginal areas where current altimeter data are unusable.

The spatially averaged increase is 5.4 cm per year over the study area, when corrected for post-Ice Age uplift of the bedrock beneath the ice sheet. These results are remarkable because they are in contrast to previous scientific findings of balance in Greenland's high-elevation ice.

The team, led by Professor Ola M. Johannessen of NERSC, ascribe this interior growth of the Greenland Ice Sheet to increased snowfall linked to variability in regional atmospheric circulation known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). First discovered in the 1920s, the NAO acts in a similar way to the El Ni¤o phenomenon in the Pacific, contributing to climate fluctuations across the North Atlantic and Europe.

Comparing their data to an index of the NAO, the researchers established a direct relationship between Greenland Ice Sheet elevation change and strong positive and negative phases of the NAO during winter, which largely control temperature and precipitation patterns over Greenland.

Professor Johannessen commented: "This strong negative correlation between winter elevation changes and the NAO index, suggests an underappreciated role of the winter season and the NAO for elevation changes - a wildcard in Greenland Ice Sheet mass balance scenarios under global warming."

He cautioned that the recent growth found by the radar altimetry survey does not necessarily reflect a long-term or future trend. With natural variability in the high-latitude climate cycle that includes the NAO being very large, even an 11-year long dataset remains short.

"There is clearly a need for continued monitoring using new satellite altimeters and other observations, together with numerical models to calculate the Greenland Ice Sheet mass budget," Johannessen added.

Modelling studies of the Greenland Ice Sheet mass balance under greenhouse global warming have shown that temperature increases up to about 3§C lead to positive mass balance changes at high elevations - due to snow accumulation - and negative at low elevations - due to snow melt exceeding accumulation.

Such models agree with the new observational results. However after that threshold is reached, potentially within the next hundred years, losses from melting would exceed accumulation from increases in snowfall - then the meltdown of the Greenland Ice Sheet would be on.

A paper published in Science in June this year detailed the results of a similar analysis of the Antarctic Ice Sheet based on ERS radar altimeter data, carried out by a team led by Professor Curt Davis of the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The results showed thickening in East Antarctica on the order of 1.8 cm per year, but thinning across a substantial part of West Antarctica. Data were unavailable for much of the Antarctic Peninsula, subject to recent ice sheet thinning due to regional climate warming, again because of limitations in current radar altimeter performance.

ESA's CryoSat mission, lost during launch on 8 October, carried the world's first radar altimeter purpose-built for use over both land and sea ice. In the context of land ice sheets, CryoSat would have been capable of acquiring data over steeply-sloping ice margins which remain invisible to current radar altimeters - these being the very regions where the greatest loss is taking place.

Efforts are currently underway to investigate the possibility of building and flying a CryoSat-2, with a decision to be taken by the end of the year. In the meantime, the valuable climatological record of ice sheet change established by ERS and Envisat will continue to be extended.


Global Warming and the Greenland Ice Sheet


The Greenland coastal temperatures have followed the early 20th century global warming trend. Since 1940, however, the Greenland coastal stations data have undergone predominantly a cooling trend. At the summit of the Greenland ice sheet the summer average temperature has decreased at the rate of 2.2 øC per decade since the beginning of the measurements in 1987. This suggests that the Greenland ice sheet and coastal regions are not following the current global warming trend. A considerable and rapid warming over all of coastal Greenland occurred in the 1920s when the average annual surface air temperature rose between 2 and 4 øC in less than ten years (at some stations the increase in winter temperature was as high as 6 øC). This rapid warming, at a time when the change in anthropogenic production of greenhouse gases was well below the current level, suggests a high natural variability in the regional climate. High anticorrelations (r = -0.84 to -0.93) between the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) index and Greenland temperature time series suggest a physical connection between these processes. Therefore, the future changes in the NAO and Northern Annular Mode may be of critical consequence to the future temperature forcing of the Greenland ice sheet melt rates.

(From Chylek, P. Box J.E., Lesins G. Climatic Change, Volume 63, Numbers 1-2, March 2004)

Greenland and Global Warming

Recent popular media coverage of climate change issues has presented a scary scenario in which human-induced global warming will give rise to a new ice age. Indeed, this is the scenario sketched out in the climate disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow. It sounds counterintuitive, so lets explain the science behind the scare scenario, such as it is.

Popular media of climate change has warned that increased man-made CO2 emissions will raise temperatures and thus melt the Greenland ice sheet, filling the Atlantic Ocean with excess fresh water. This will have the unintended effect of shutting down the North Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation or the North Atlantic oceanic heat conveyor belt. This would mean the possible discontinuation of the flow of heat from the tropics to the north pole through the North Atlantic Gulf Stream. The New York Timess Andrew Revkin emphasized in a June 8 article that a big outflow of water from Greenland could take the system to a tipping point.

Will It Happen?

But such a threat, as predicted from current computer climate models, is most likely an exaggerated hype. In a letter for the April 8 issue of the journal Nature, Professor Carl Wunsch of MIT explained that:

Real questions exist about conceivable changes in the ocean circulation and its climate consequences. However, such discussions are not helped by hyperbole and alarmism. The occurrence of a climate state without the Gulf Stream any time soon -- within tens of millions of years -- has a probability of little more than zero.

European readers should be reassured that the Gulf Streams existence is a consequence of the large-scale wind system over the North Atlantic Ocean, and of the nature of fluid motions on a rotating planet. The only way to produce an ocean circulation without a Gulf Stream is either to turn off the wind system, or to stop the Earths rotation, or both.

OK, so a warming planet might not shut down the Gulf Stream. But what of the concern that a warming planet will result in a melting of the Greenland ice sheet? After all, a mere 15-pages after Professor Wunschs caution in the April 8 issue of Nature, a team of European climate modelers on page 616 offers new concerns of their own, claiming the Greenland ice sheet could be wiped out:

The Greenland ice-sheet would melt faster in a warmer climate and is likely to be eliminated -- except for residual glaciers in the mountains -- if the annual average temperature in Greenland increases by more than about 3C. This could raise the global average sea-level by 7 metres over a period of 1,000 years or more. We show here that concentrations of greenhouse gases will probably have reached levels before the year 2100 that are sufficient to raise the temperature past this warming threshold. Without the ice-sheet, the climate of Greenland would be much warmer because the land surface would be a lower altitude and reflect less sunlight. This conclusion can be drawn without detailed modeling. Even if atmospheric composition and the global climate were to return to pre-industrial conditions, the ice-sheet might not be regenerated, which implies that sea-level rise could be irreversible.

Irreversible Developments?

These European authors gained further confidence in their conclusion from a separate climate modeling experiment published earlier this year (January 2004) in the Journal of Climate. Instead of showing us that the Greenland ice-sheet will melt away completely in their climate models, these authors first artificially removed all the ice in Greenland and asked if their climate models would regenerate the Greenland ice sheet when they set their model atmosphere at the pre-industrial level of greenhouse gas concentrations. They failed to have any net accumulation of snow after crunching their computer climate model for some 70 years.

Their conclusion is that the removal of the Greenland ice sheet due to prolonged climatic warming would be irreversible. Overall, the modified Greenland climate is not very different from that of some forested areas such as in eastern Siberia. But these authors also admitted that their modeling result does depend on the sensitivity of the GCM to orography and on the assumed heat transport across the stably stratified boundary layer [the layer of turbulent air between the surface and free troposphere with a few hundred meters in thickness] over Greenland in winter and in spring.

Extremely Unlikely

So what can one expect for Greenland under the UN IPCCs global warming scenarios (which predict a disproportionately larger warming over Greenland)? Will a fully reforested Greenland with a marshy environment emerge once annual average CO2 warming at Greenland gets above 2.7C? Or will we find the opposite extreme of an icy-cold Greenland with an ever expanding and larger ice-sheet if the North Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation is shut down?

While both extremes have been offered up by climate experts over the last few months through the popular media, I suggest that neither extreme will prevail because reality is simply far too complex to even consider these modeled extremes as legitimate climate predictions. The available climatic data for Greenland and over the North Atlantic simply do not give us confidence in the currently available modeled scenarios of Greenland.

Let's start with the raw evidence for our current inability to model climatic change with any degree of confidence. Here one need not go too far to find that region by region modeling of both the complete melting and regeneration of the Greenland ice sheet is indeed largely a matter of faith rather than any actual science.

In the aforementioned April 8 issue of Nature, on page 593, one learned from a top climate modeler that If you dont believe in the value of global climate model then theres no point in down scaling them [to get regional pattern of change as in Greenland.]

Figure 2 shows one reason I do not believe in the value of global climate model. This chart shows the extreme sensitivity of surface winter temperature change on local and regional scales to how a model represents the physics of the boundary layer. This boundary layer is critical to how both heat and moisture are exchanged between the surface and the free atmosphere, especially during winters and springs over Greenland as noted earlier by those European modelers that successfully produced a permanently bare Greenland. But the authors of Figure 2 clearly show that with only a slight change or tuning of how heat is being exchanged or mixed, the model differences of the winter surface temperature can be as large as 2 to 10C -- some of these intra-model temperature differences are certainly as large as those being claimed for CO2-global warming scenarios studied in Figure 1.

Next, the above model experiments for Greenland and large temperature warming in Figure 1 had clearly failed to recognize several contradictory facts from the available temperature data in Greenland. Petr Chylek of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and colleagues, in their paper published in the journal Climatic Change March 2004, found that:

The Greenland surface air temperature trends over the past 50 years do not show persistent warming, in contrast to global average surface air temperatures. The Greenland coastal stations temperature trends over the second half of the past century generally exhibit a cooling tendency with superimposed decadal scale oscillations related to the NAO [i.e., the dynamic of North Atlantic Oscillation atmospheric circulation]. At the Greenland ice sheet summit, the temperature record shows a decrease in the summer average temperature at the rate of about 2.2C/decade, suggesting that the Greenland ice sheet at high elevations does not follow global warming trend either. A significant and rapid temperature increase was observed at all Greenland stations between 1920 and 1930. The average annual temperature rose between 2 and 4C in less than ten years. Since the change in anthropogenic production of greenhouse gases at that time was considerably lower than today, this rapid temperature increase suggests a large natural variability of the regional climate.

Whats more, in a study of sea ice conditions and its historical changes around the Fram Strait (i.e., located northeast of Greenland) and ice flows around the coast of southwestern Greenland published last year in the Journal of Climate, Torben Schmith and Carsten Hansen of the Danish Meteorological Institute found that the annual export of ice through the Fram Strait is strongly correlated with the see-saw pattern of winter atmospheric circulation in the North Atlantic during the 1980-1990 interval called the North Atlantic Oscillation. Simultaneously, they also found a similar relationship suggesting the importance of atmospheric wind flow on the export of sea ice through the Fram Strait for earlier intervals around 1930-1950 and 1840-1860. This fact allows Schmith and Hansen to conclude that this casts doubt on the hypothesis of enhanced greenhouse effect being the cause for the recent increase in correlation coefficient [during 1980-1990]. In addition, this sea ice study independently confirms the conclusion by Chlek and colleagues that large natural variability of climatic and environmental variables around Greenland is the norm rather than the exception to be expected strictly from man-made greenhouse gases.

Finally, it has long been known that the Greenland ice sheet probably originated some 2.4 million years ago. It is further deduced from geological records that the Greenland ice sheet is most likely the only Northern Hemisphere ice sheet to have survived the last Interglacial warm period around 130 to 115 thousand years ago (also roughly known as the Eemian warm period through terrestrial records from Europe). It must be emphasized that observed climatic and environmental changes during the last interglacial around the North Atlantic region are indeed dramatic. For example, tall mixed hardwood forests with a closed canopy covered much of Europe during the peak warm period and after about 115 thousand years ago, open vegetation replaced the mixed forests in northwestern Europe.

Professor Svend Funder[1] of the Geological Museum at the University of Copenhagen and his colleagues described the climatic and environmental conditions around Central and East Greenland [see the two marked locations in Figure 2] during the Eemian warm period as follows[2]:

During the [Eemian warm period], Jameson Land had a different appearance from the present, and also from what it had during the Holocene climatic optimum [i.e., about 5 to 9 thousand years ago]. At present, the optimal type of vegetation is dwarf shrub heath, during the [Eemian warm period] there were copses of birch and alder on sheltered sites, and the heaths contained several plant, moss, and insect species which today only live in the warmer west Greenland. Bennike and Bocher (1994) concluded that summer temperatures were 5 [C] higher than at present, and ca. 3-4 higher than during the Holocene climatic optimum. Also the marine faunas contain a number of subarctic species which are now absent from the East Greenland coast. These include Mytilus edulis and Chlamys islandica [i.e., species of mollusks with shells consisting of twin valves including mussels and clams], which lived in the area for some millennia during the Holocene climatic optimum, while Lacuna divaricata, Buccinum undatum, and Boreotrophon truncatus [i.e., species of gastropods or mollusks with single piece of straight or spiral shells like snails, limpets or with no shells like slugs, etc.] are restricted to West Greenland, and have not been recorded before in East Greenland. Finally, the gastropod Solariella varicosa has not been found earlier in Greenland. These subarctic species require warm Atlantic water to maintain their reproduction, and show that more Atlantic water was advected into the Nordic Sea and the Arctic in general than during the Holocene. Some oceanic species which are now restricted to the open coasts, also extended into the fjord system and show that water exchange between the ocean and the fjord system was more vigorous in agreement with marine geological results from the continental shelf. In summary, summer temperatures were already ca. 5 higher than at present and the oceanic circulation more vigorous with a large influx of Atlantic water than in the Holocene, at the time when the coast of Jameson Land was deglaciated. These conditions lasted longer than 3500 years.

So it is clear that the Greenland ice sheet did not simply melt away despite rather extreme climatic conditions and swings during the last interglacial. In addition, it is equally important to note that during the persistent warmth of the Eemian Interglacial, there were no signs of a weakening or a total shut down of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation in climatic records around the North Atlantic-Greenland region despite the distinct possibility for excessive freshening of the North Atlantic ocean from enhanced rainfall and melting of Greenlands coastal ice.

Furthermore it may also be possible to rule out the computer scenario that suggests that the bare Greenland could not regenerate and re-support its ice sheet simply because a net accumulation of local snow was not possible in their model run after 70 years. Today, the ice thickness is over 3000 meters at Summit, Central Greenland (see the location marked in Figure 2), the site of the Greenland Ice Core Project (GRIP). From the work of Professor Roland Souchez[3] at the Universit de Bruxelles, it is known that the gas contents of the basal silty ice (at depths between 3023 and 3029 meters) from the GRIP core at Summit, Greenland have enormously high levels of CO2 from about 30,000 ppm to 130,000 ppm and CH4 from about 1,000 to 6,000 ppm, while the 1980s-1990s atmospheric levels of CO2 and CH4 are about 360-370 ppm and 1.5-1.85 ppm, respectively.

Professor Souchez reasoned that the most probable scenario that could explain this observation[4] is that:

such [basal] ice was developed probably within a peat deposit in a permafrost environment [when Central Greenland was bare without the giant ice sheet]. This local ice was subsequently intimately mixed with glacier ice from an advancing ice sheet progressing on this site. This is in agreement with the highland origin and windward growth hypothesis for ice sheet development, not for an in situ or regional growth from snowbanks. The basal ice from the GRIP core possibly dates back to the original buildup of the Greenland Ice Sheet 2.4 million years ago. [Also] as suggested by a recent comparison of the isotopic profiles of GISP 2 [Greenland Ice Core Project 2] and of the GRIP cores, the ice sheet was developed in the Summit region during the Eemian [i.e., the last interglacials] It can be [further] assumed that the Greenland Ice Sheet was developed during the interglacials preceding the Eemian since the climate during these periods was less warm than that of the Eemian. The basal ice thus possibly represents the original build-up of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

In other words, the Greenland Ice Sheet has a long history of being stable for the past 2.4 million years enduring all extremes of warm and dry conditions most likely dwarfing even what is being emphasized by the UN IPCC CO2 global warming scenarios. Furthermore, it is clear that the Greenland Ice Sheet was not built by local deposition and accumulation of snow year after year as simplistically evaluated in the current computer models. As Souchez concluded:

The preservation at the base of GRIP core of ice of local origin, formed most probably within a peat deposit in a permafrost environment, mixed with glacier ice from an ice sheet, is in itself a strong argument against in situ growth of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

(Above article by Dr Willie Soon, 10 June, 2004. Figures referred to are no longer online)


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 February, 2006

Early California: A Killing Field -- Research Shatters Utopian Myth, Finds Indians Decimated Birds

When explorers and pioneers visited California in the 1700s and early 1800s, they were astonished by the abundance of birds, elk, deer, marine mammals, and other wildlife they encountered. Since then, people assumed such faunal wealth represented California's natural condition -- a product of Native Americans' living in harmony with the wildlife and the land and used it as the baseline for measuring modern environmental damage. That assumption now is collapsing because University of Utah archaeologist Jack M. Broughton spent seven years -- from 1997 to 2004 -- painstakingly picking through 5,736 bird bones found in an ancient Native American garbage dump on the shores of San Francisco Bay. He determined the species of every bone, or, when that wasn't possible, at least the family, and used the bones to reconstruct a portrait of human bird-hunting behavior spanning 1,900 years.

Broughton concluded that California wasn't always a lush Eden before settlers arrived. Instead, from 2,600 to at least 700 years ago, native people hunted some species to local extinction, and wildlife returned to "fabulous abundances" only after European diseases decimated Indian populations starting in the 1500s. Broughton's study of bird bones, published in Ornithological Monographs, mirrors earlier research in which he found that fish such as sturgeon, mammals such as elk, and other wildlife also sustained significant population declines at the hands of ancient Indian hunters.

Biologists long assumed that the abundant wildlife in California some 200 years ago had existed for thousands of years -- an assumption "that is ultimately used to make decisions about how to manage and conserve threatened or endangered species," says Broughton, an associate professor of anthropology. "Since European discovery, California has been viewed by scholars and scientists, as well as the general public -- as a kind of utopia or a land of milk and honey, a super-rich natural environment," he says. "This perception has long colored anthropological research on the state's native peoples. The harvesting methods and strategies of native peoples have been suggested to have promoted the apparent superabundance of wildlife, and have been proposed as models for the management of wilderness areas and national parks today."

Broughton says his study challenges "a common perception about ancient Native Americans as healthy, happy people living in harmony with the environment. That clearly was not always the case. Depending on when and where you look back in time, native peoples were either living in harmony with nature or eating their way through a vast array of large-sized, attractive prey species."

The study may have broader implications. Broughton speculates that "utopian perceptions" of a pristine California teeming with wildlife "probably even influence how Californians view themselves, and how the world views the Golden State. The dream world of Disneyland, the glamour and glimmer of Hollywood, the Baywatch fun-in-the-sun culture -- all of this may trace a link to early historic descriptions of the land that now appear to be worlds apart from pre-European conditions."...

By analyzing the relative abundances of the birds, Broughton showed that the bird population diminished throughout the entire 1,900-year period represented by the shellmound. Species with the most significant population reductions were those most attractive to hunters: large birds and birds that lived closer to humans. Among waterfowl, large geese on land and in marshes declined sooner than smaller geese and ducks, but as the supply of large geese waned, an increasing number of small geese and ducks from estuaries were hunted and their bones dumped in the shellmound.

As nearby food sources diminished, native peoples increasingly hunted birds at greater distances--particularly cormorant chicks on island breeding colonies--and depleted their populations. The bones also show increased hunting over time of sea ducks, found only in open water and on the outer coast, as duck populations lessened on land and in marshes. After depleting larger shorebirds -- marbled godwits, long-billed curlews, and whimbrels -- natives then hunted smaller shorebirds such as sandpipers.

Broughton's conclusion that hunting by native peoples depressed bird populations came only after he rejected possible alternative causes, such as changes in prehistoric climate and reductions in bird habitat. For example, the decline in cormorants might have been caused by the climate disruption known as ElNi¤o . If true, the species most affected should be Brandt's and pelagic cormorants, which depend on food in ocean currents altered by ElNi¤o. Instead, the population decline was most pronounced in double-crested cormorants, which lived closer to Indian hunters.

Broughton believes the Bay Area harbored a prehistoric native population of 50,000 to 150,000 before Europeans arrived in the 1500s. He believes that birds and other wildlife rebounded only after early European explorers came into contact with natives, infecting them with fatal diseases such as smallpox, malaria, and influenza and killing off as much as 90 percent of the Indian population. As a result, hunting pressure diminished, and by the mid-1800s, geese and ducks "were so abundant you could kill them with a club or stick," he says.

Until Broughton's study, "the general consensus was that pre-European humans living in North America had little or no effect on continental wildlife populations," says a commentary by John Faaborg, editor of Ornithological Monographs and a wildlife biology professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Except for "special cases" of ancient natives decimating bird populations on islands -- such as Hawaii 1,000 years ago -- many scientists view "negative effects on bird populations as a modern phenomenon, one that came along with burgeoning populations virtually throughout the globe," he adds. But now, Faaborg writes, "We need to reconsider our impressions about human impacts on bird populations in the distant past. Jack Broughton makes an excellent case that native peoples living in the San Francisco Bay area harvested enough birds to deplete populations and even cause some local extinction, perhaps as long as 2,000 years ago."...

More here

Are the Ethanol Wars Over?

Even the brain-dead method of producing it from corn may now be economic

Ethanol--the gasoline substitute made by distilling corn or other vegetation--has long been the subject of intense debate. According to its critics, ethanol does little to improve air quality and may actually contribute to smog, costs taxpayers billions of dollars in subsidies, and doesn't do much to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Ethanol's defenders say its environmental effects are more positive than negative, the so-called subsidies are mostly federal and state tax breaks, and as the cost of making ethanol falls while the cost of fossil fuels remains high, ethanol could substantially reduce the nation's oil consumption and even overtake gasoline as the preferred transportation fuel.

Ethanol was in the news recently [January 5] when General Motors, Chevron, the state of California, and other partners unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show a plan to greatly expand the use of E85, a motor fuel composed of 85 percent ethanol. GM already has manufactured 1.5 million "flexible fuel vehicles" able to run on E85, but they seldom do because the fuel is not widely available. Chevron announced plans to provide the fuel at selected gas stations, and Pacific Ethanol, another one of the partners, announced plans to build four ethanol plants in California over the next two years.

I've observed this debate for many years as a citizen and as a scientist. As a citizen, I don't like subsidies or regulations that distort markets. But as a scientist, I've long supported ethanol as a "win-win" proposition for farmers and consumers alike. I view the recent announcements as evidence that ethanol has reached a tipping point, and that the debate over the fuel may be over. Ethanol's advocates have won.

Many people are surprised to learn that Henry Ford used ethanol to power his first automobiles. Decades later it became cheaper to pump oil from the ground than to distill ethanol from plant matter. Now history is reversing itself as oil prices climb and improvements in production processes make ethanol the more affordable choice.

Ethanol is called an oxygenate because it is 35 percent oxygen by weight. When mixed with gasoline it allows the fuel to burn more cleanly, thus enhancing octane. Some ethanol opponents complain fuel filters must be changed more frequently, and they are right about that. Ethanol loosens deposits and residues, making engines cleaner. It's not a bad thing.

For many years, ethanol opponents claimed the energy needed to make a gallon of ethanol was greater than the energy value of the ethanol. More recent studies show a positive balance of between 25 and 50 percent. Continual improvements in the chemical engineering of the ethanol manufacturing progress will ensure additional gains are made.

Currently nearly all ethanol is made from corn, but it can be made from any easily grown plant material or even municipal waste. Sweet sorghum, a tall grass widely cultivated in the Midwest and Arizona for forage, silage, and feed grain, may be a more efficient and lower-cost feedstock than corn. Advances in genetically modified seeds will soon create corn with a higher starch value grown specifically for ethanol production.

While the price of corn can be volatile at times, it will rarely affect the price of ethanol. This is so because a major portion of income from economic production of ethanol is the dry distilled grain (DDG) that remains as animal feed once the starch is removed from the corn for fermentation. When corn prices go up, so does the value of the DDG. A bushel of corn will produce 2.7 gallons of ethanol with 17 pounds of feed left over, enough to create four beef steaks or eight quarts of milk. The price of corn has been under $2.00 a bushel for some time. Average yields per acre through the nation range between 140 and 160 bushels. Continued agronomic improvements will lead to yields above 200, which are already common in some areas.

Currently most ethanol plants burn natural gas, whose price has skyrocketed in recent years. Cheaper energy is available from burning kernel corn itself. As corn furnaces already on the market expand into ethanol plants, production costs will drop significantly. Natural gas at current prices will yield 1,000 BTUs (British thermal units) at a cost of about $17, while corn produces the same amount of heat for half as much. The comparable price for propane is near $34 and for oil is $23.

A typical ethanol plant produces about 45 million gallons of ethanol fuel per year and has a capital cost of $50 million. It produces 132,000 tons of dry distilled grain from 17 million bushels of corn, provides 36 quality jobs with a collective payroll of $1.5 million, pays about $8 million for energy, and has total expenses in the range of $55 million per year. Obviously these plants boost rural and farm economies.

One can argue, using the numbers cited above, that the industry may no longer need subsidies, without at the same time denying the industry would not have emerged without them. Similarly, ethanol may provide too small a share of our total transportation fuel needs today to significantly improve the nation's energy security. But if the industry continues to grow and gradually supplant gasoline, perhaps a longer time frame will show the subsidies were worthwhile.

Unlike the much-hyped and -subsidized wind and solar power, ethanol is an alternative fuel with genuine promise of social and economic benefits. Its foes and proponents alike would do well to set aside their past disagreements and start planning for a fast-growing and environmentally sustainable industry without the needless costs of mandates and taxpayer subsidies.



And another unpredictable one -- though there seems no likelihood that they will stop. The "research" reported below is of course just a modelling exercise (i.e. elaborate guesswork) but similar exercises are the principal basis for all the scares

Ocean temperatures might have risen even higher during the last century if it weren't for volcanoes that spewed ashes and aerosols into the upper atmosphere, researchers have found. The eruptions also offset a large percentage of sea level rise caused by human activity. Using 12 new state-of-the-art climate models, the researchers found that ocean warming and sea level rise in the 20th century were substantially reduced by the 1883 eruption of the Krakatoa volcano in Indonesia. Volcanic aerosols blocked sunlight and caused the ocean surface to cool. "That cooling penetrated into deeper layers of the ocean, where it remained for decades after the event," said Peter Gleckler, an atmospheric scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). "We found that volcanic effects on sea level can persist for many decades."

Gleckler, along with LLNL colleagues Ben Santer, Karl Taylor and Krishna AchutaRao and collaborators from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Reading and the Hadley Centre, tested the effects of volcanic eruptions on recent climate models. They examined model simulations of the climate from 1880 to 2000, comparing them with available observations. External "forcings," such as changes in greenhouse gases, solar irradiance, sulphate and volcanic aerosols, were included in the models.

Oceans expand and contract depending on the ocean temperature. This causes sea level to increase when the water is warmer and to recede in cooler temperatures. The volume average temperature of oceans (down to 300 meters) worldwide has warmed by roughly .037 degrees Celsius in recent decades due to increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases. While seemingly small, this corresponds to a sea level rise of several centimeters and does not include the effect of other factors such as melting glaciers. That sea level jump, however, would have been even greater if it weren't for volcanic eruptions over the last century, Gleckler said. "The ocean warming suddenly drops," he said. "Volcanoes have a big impact. The ocean warming and sea level would have risen much more if it weren't for volcanoes." Volcanic aerosols scatter sunlight and cause the ocean surface temperature to cool, an anomaly that is gradually subducted into deeper layers, where it remains for decades.

The experiments studied by Gleckler's team also included the more recent 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines, which was comparable to Krakatoa in terms of its size and intensity. While similar ocean surface cooling resulted from both eruptions, the heat-content recovery occurred much more quickly in the case of Pinatubo. "The heat content effects of Pinatubo and other eruptions in the late 20th century are offset by the observed warming of the upper ocean, which is primarily due to human influences," Gleckler said.



(From Prof. Brignell)

I care not whether a man is Good or Evil; all that I care
Is whether he is a Wise man or a Fool. Go! put off Holiness
And put on Intellect.

--William Blake, Jerusalem

Since time immemorial ignorant people have come up with ideas that are self-evidently foolish to anyone with a basic training in science or engineering. It all added to the general entertainment and the gaiety of life. What has changed is that it is now being done by people who, like the snake oil salesman in the classic Western film, assume titles such as professor in order to impart authority on their pronouncements. It is all part of a general decline in standards of education and professionalism.

There was a time when every professional served some sort of lengthy apprenticeship. A climatologist graduated in physics and then went on to specialise, an ecologist did the same after graduating in biology. An engineer spent long years calculating mechanical and electrical stresses; so, like a trained footballer bringing a long pass under control without conscious thought, he could immediately recognise a nonsensical proposition by long-honed instinct. No competent engineer would entertain the idea of an airborne wind generator for a second, though he would not need to make the calculations unless called upon to do so. Now we have degree courses in X science, usually of a debased form, so as to be able to recruit students deficient in mathematical skills. The rest of us are then told "You may not comment on X, as you are not an X scientist!" Once you have graduates, it follows as the night the day that you will have professors, then the heritage is secure.

Computer packages are applied by people who have little idea of the mathematical constraints that apply to them. Political leaders are elected at an age where they are yet to learn from their early mistakes in life. The consequences are often dire, but by then the media have moved on to the next big story.

People set themselves up as "The Scientists" and preach to the world, usually to try to scare the pants off it in pursuit of some political (or quasi-religious) objective. When the Hockey Team found it necessary to deny the occurrence of the Little Ice Age, they blamed the end of Frost Fairs on the rebuilding of London Bridge, which had been restricting the flow, thus ignoring the second most fundamental law of physics - continuity of flow. Naturally, when challenged on this they then subsequently brought in talk of tides and weirs, all in line with Langmuir's 5th law. Of course, they not only deny the physics, but history, art, archaeology and even entomology. It was possible to trace the cold decline of the Viking settlement in Greenland by, for example, the species of flies that dominated, a highly temperature-sensitive indicator. The bones showed that they ate all their livestock, then finally their dogs. Even the President of the Royal Society was either disingenuous or ignorant of basic scientific concepts such as feedback and non-linearity in the diatribe that set off the whole global warming scare.

When the scaremongers were promoting the New Ice Age in the 1970s, they came up with quite ludicrous propositions for changing the Earth's climate; ones that made the Kyoto suicide pact look positively sane. Every now and then airships are in the news: there is a flurry of activity; then it all subsides. You only have to say one word to damn the concept - wind. On the other hand, and for no apparent reason, canal systems are allowed to fall into disrepair.

Some drugs are condemned before they are even really tried, because of some botched and inadequate trial, while others become the foundation of billion dollar industries on the same basis: a lottery. It is the age of the Expert. Time was when this word was only used by journalists and lawyers; scientists would, perhaps, admit to being specialists. Now half the adverts on TV are for dubious products and behaviours touted by self-styled experts. In Britain, many such promotions are sponsored by the Government and funded by the suffering taxpayer.

Whether it is in art, craft or science, true expertise derives from long familiarity and mastery of detail. In a world dominated by politics and the media, where the transient is king and superficiality the order of the day, people are encouraged to think that they can have several careers in one lifetime, but that of course is only in order to cover up problems of unemployment. Politicians delude themselves that, because they can destroy a great school overnight, that they can create one in the same timescale, but in reality it takes generations. This is the age of instant gratification; just add water. In just seven days I can make you a man.

So we have these instant inventions, nostrums and scares; not only from common or garden nutters, but also from those who set themselves up as The Authorities.

He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars:
General Good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite, and flatterer,
For Art and Science cannot exist but in minutely organized Particulars

--William Blake, Jerusalem


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 February, 2006


(From The New York Times, 13 January 2006)

The journal Science recently retracted two papers by the South Korean researcher Dr. Hwang Woo Suk. But the editors of Science were not alone in telling the world of Dr. Hwang's research. Newspapers, wire services and television networks had initially trumpeted the news, as they often do with information served up by the leading scientific journals. Now news organizations say they are starting to look at the science journals a bit more skeptically. "My antennae are definitely up since this whole thing unfolded," said Rob Stein, a science reporter for The Washington Post. "I'm reading papers a lot more closely than I had in the past, just to sort of satisfy myself that any individual piece of research is valid. But we're still in sort of the same situation that the journal editors are, which is that if someone wants to completely fabricate data, it's hard to figure that out."

But other than heightened skepticism, not a lot has changed in how newspapers treat scientific journals. Indeed, newspaper irs openly acknowledge their dependence on them. At The Los Angeles Times, at least half of the science stories that run on the front page come directly from journals, said Ashley Dunn, the paper's science editor. Gideon Gil, the health and science editor for The Boston Globe, said that two of the three science stories that run on a typical day were from research that appeared in journals.

Beyond newspapers, papers from journals are routinely picked up by newsweeklies, network news, talk radio and Web sites. "They are the way science is conducted, they're the way people share information, they're the best approximation of acceptance by knowledgeable people," said Laura Chang, science editor for The New York Times. "We do rely on them for the starting point of many of our stories, and that will not change."

There are limits to the vetting that science reporters, who are generally not scientists themselves, can do. Most journal articles have embargoes attached, giving reporters several days to call specialists in the field, check footnotes on an article and scrutinize the results. "Scientific discoveries are more difficult because they often require in the generalist reporter a good deal of study, follow-up interviews and some guidance on how to make sense of technical matters," said Roy Peter Clark, a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, which studies journalism. "But I think the scandals do require both a new level of skepticism on the part of the reporter and also maybe some new protocols between scientists and journalists."

The Hwang case was not the first time journals had been duped: recently, editors at The New England Journal of Medicine said they suspected two cancer papers they published contained fabricated data. In December, the same journal said that the authors of a 2000 study on the painkiller Vioxx had omitted the fact that several patients had had heart attacks while taking the drug in a trial. A study on the painkiller Celebrex that appeared in The Journal of the American Medical Association was discredited when it was discovered that the authors had submitted only six months of data, instead of the 12 months of data they had collected.

While the journals have a peer review process that is in part meant to filter out fallacious papers by checking research techniques and conclusions, perhaps the greatest difficulty for science reporters is trying to catch what journal editors have missed.

After hearing the news of Dr. Hwang's fabrications, Mr. Gil of The Globe said he immediately remembered his newspaper's coverage of the stem cell papers. "We were blown away, in part because we had written those stories on Page 1," Mr. Gil said. "And when we wrote them, we called the leading experts in the world on all this embryonic stem cell stuff, who are here in Boston. And they were as hoodwinked as anybody else."

Despite the fraud cases, most of what the journals publish is basically credible, said David Perlman, the science editor of The San Francisco Chronicle. Among the most prestigious science journals that reporters consult regularly are Nature, Science, The New England Journal of Medicine and The Journal of the American Medical Association. "I think they and we have been burned enough that they're making efforts," Mr. Perlman said. "They're being more careful now, and I think reporters are too. I definitely have more of a 'Hey, let's look more carefully' attitude now that I did 5 or 10 years ago."

Donald Kennedy, the editor of Science, said in a statement in December that the journal itself was not an investigative body. But when reporting on journal findings, most news outlets fail to caution that studies must be replicated to be truly authenticated. "Beyond Hwang, the more fundamental issue is that journals do not and cannot guarantee the truth of what they publish," said Nicholas Wade, a science reporter for The New York Times. "Publication of a paper only means that, in the view of the referees who green-light it, it is interesting and not obviously false. In other words, all of the results in these journals are tentative."

The journals' own peer review processes, which are intended to be the first barrier against fraud, have come under criticism lately. A cover story in the February issue of The Scientist said that the top-tier journals were receiving more submissions every year, overtaxing peer reviewers and weakening the screening process.

After the Hwang scandal, Science announced it was considering a set of changes to better prevent fraud: Dr. Kennedy said in January that new rules could include "requiring all authors to detail their specific contributions to the research submitted, and to sign statements of concurrence with the conclusions of the work," as well as "implementing improved methods of detecting image alteration, although it appears improbable that they would have detected problems in this particular case." (Through a spokeswoman, Dr. Kennedy declined to be interviewed and said the editors were currently conducting a review of the episode.)

Some newspapers have adopted guidelines of their own to check for conflicts of interest involving authors of journal articles. The Globe instituted guidelines last July requiring reporters to ask researchers about their financial ties to studies, and to include that information in resulting articles. In its weekly health and science section, The Globe outlines any shortcomings of a study under the heading "Cautions."

Kit Frieden, the health and science editor for The Associated Press, said: "We've always had our own peer review process, where on the major studies we seek outside expert comment. We've always regarded scientific research cautiously because mistakes can be made, and I don't think that's changed."

The growing competition for the most important research among the journals may contribute to mistakes and fabrications, even in the most prestigious of the bunch. But in the end, the severe consequences of presenting fraudulent research generally act as a deterrent, said Mr. Dunn of The Los Angeles Times. "Unlike financial fraud, where you can bamboozle somebody of their money and disappear and then start over again, in science the researchers are in one place," he said. "If they get caught in this type of thing, their careers are over."


(By Roger Pielke Jr., Science Policy, 11 February 2006)

In the 20 February 2006 issue of The New Republic, John B. Judis has an article about how the issue of hurricanes and global warming has been handled by NOAA. Judis is engaging in scientific McCarthyism by arguing that certain perspectives on science are invalid because they are viewed as politically incorrect by some.

The transformation of this part of climate science into pure politics is fully embraced by those on the political left and the right, and most troubling is that this transformation is being encouraged by some leading scientists who have taken to criticizing the views of other scientists because they happen to work for the federal government. These scientists know full well how such accusations will be received. What ever happened to sticking to the science? Read on for background and analysis:

Judis alleges that scientists and political appointees in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA (pronounced "Noah") are together conspiring to suppress scientific knowledge about a linkage of hurricanes and global warming,

Many respected climate scientists, including some who work for NOAA, believe the organization's official line on the link between global warming and hurricanes is wrong. What's more, there is reason to believe that NOAA knows as much. In the broader scientific community, there is grumbling that NOAA's top officials have suppressed dissenting views on this subject--contributing to the Bush administration's attempt to downplay the danger of climate change. Says Don Kennedy, the editor-in-chief of Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, "There are a lot of scientists there who know it is nonsense, what they are putting up on their website, but they are being discouraged from talking to the press about it."

The notion that NOAA has an "official line" on hurricanes put up on their website apparently comes from this press release from 29 November 2005 which includes the following statements:

The nation is now wrapping up the 11th year of a new era of heightened Atlantic hurricane activity. This era has been unfolding in the Atlantic since 1995, and is expected to continue for the next decade or perhaps longer. NOAA attributes this increased activity to natural occurring cycles in tropical climate patterns near the equator. These cycles, called "the tropical multi-decadal signal," typically last several decades (20 to 30 years or even longer). As a result, the North Atlantic experiences alternating decades long (20 to 30 year periods or even longer) of above normal or below normal hurricane seasons. NOAA research shows that the tropical multi-decadal signal is causing the increased Atlantic hurricane activity since 1995, and is not related to greenhouse warming.

There is consensus among NOAA hurricane researchers and forecasters that recent increases in hurricane activity are primarily the result of natural fluctuations in the tropical climate system known as the tropical multi-decadal signal.

Judis argues that the scientific consensus has moved on:

NOAA's official position reflects what used to be the conventional wisdom on the relationship between global warming and hurricanes. Until recently, most empirical climate studies had focused on the frequency of hurricanes; and most researchers concluded that there wasn't a link to global warming--the frequency was connected to cyclical trends. But, in the last year, two important studies have suggested that there is an observable link between global warming and the growing intensity of hurricanes.

The studies that he refers to are familiar to readers of this blog, Emanuel in Nature and Webster et al. in Science, (hereafter E05 and W05). What Judis doesn't tell his readers is that neither E05 nor W05 are attribution papers - that is, neither paper conducted a rigorous analysis to explain the trends that they have documented. Here is what those papers actually say about attribution:

Emanuel et al. 2005 expresses some doubt as to the cause of the trends that he observes: "Whatever the cause, the near doubling of power dissipation over the period of record should be a matter of some concern"

Webster et al. 2005 more explicitly eschew attribution: "attribution of the 30-year trends [in hurricane intensity] to global warming would require a longer global data record and, especially, a deeper understanding of the role of hurricanes in the general circulation of the atmosphere and ocean, even in the present climate state."

Now to be fair, Emanuel and the Webster et al. team have stated frequently in public that they firmly believe that the trends that they have documented are in fact caused by global warming. Why is there a difference between the cautious statements these scientists have made in their peer-reviewed publications and what they have said in public? The difference is that between rigorous research and hypotheses about what future research will show. Neither E05 nor W05 fully explain the trends that they see, but as we suggest in our 2005 BAMS review, they are "suggestive" of a linkage. Further peer-reviewed research may indeed demonstrate attribution, but it has not yet, and for those of us without expertise in the science it is probably best to rely on what the peer reviewed literature says rather than picking sides in an unfolding debate yet to appear in the peer-reviewed literature.

Judging by a quote in the Judis article, Donald Kennedy of Science thinks that this issue is important enough to violate his own magazines embargo policy when he says that, "According to Kennedy, forthcoming papers by Emanuel and by Kevin Trenberth of NCAR could strengthen the case for a link between hurricanes and global warming." Of course it seems obvious that even if such papers are soon to appear, it makes no sense for scientists who are unaware of them to reflect what they say. [My guess is that these papers will offer competing theories to explain recent trends.] But I suppose that the logic here is that such studies merely confirm what those evil NOAA scientists should have known in the first place.

TNR's Judis appears to acknowledge a "scientific debate" but then writes as if the previous scientific paradigm has been overturned and anyone who says differently must be in cahoots with the Bush Administration's spin machine or conservative commentators. Bizarrely, Judis criticizes NOAA scientists for making statements fully supportable by peer-reviewed science, and in some cases work that those scientists have published.

NOAA officials have sometimes included carefully crafted caveats designed to deflect criticism from scientists who know about the controversy. But, because they don't acknowledge the debate explicitly, the general public is likely to miss the caveats' significance. Appearing before a subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee on September 20, for instance, Max Mayfield, the director of NOAA's National Hurricane Center, said, "The increased activity since 1995 is due to natural fluctuations and cycles of hurricane activity, driven by the Atlantic Ocean itself along with the atmosphere above it and not enhanced substantially by global warming." NOAA officials also resort to clever ambiguities that elude the public."

If there is a scientific debate as Judis suggests, should Mayfield have the right to express his views on the science? Didn't we just go through this with James Hansen? Is it that Mayfiled's views are not politically correct and so therefore he must be lying to the public? Judis is encouraging scientific McCarthyism.

Judis continues to pile on NOAA administrators and scientists for making statements that are either consistent with existing science or their own personal views on the science,

They deny, for instance, any link between global warming and hurricane "activity"--a term that glosses over the distinction between frequency and intensity. The November issue of NOAA's online magazine declares that "NOAA attributes recent increase in hurricane activity to naturally occurring multi-decadal climate variability" (italics added). In settings where scientists are not likely to be listening, NOAA officials have even dropped the hedged and ambiguous language. On August 30, Conrad Lautenbacher, the head of NOAA, said in Weldon Spring, Missouri, "We have no direct link between the number of storms and intensity versus global temperature rise." The next month, when CBS's "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer asked Mayfield whether the hurricanes had "something to do with global warming," he replied unequivocally, "Bob, hurricanes, and especially major hurricanes, are cyclical." And, at the NOAA press conference, Bell said simply of hurricane intensity: "It's not related to greenhouse warming."

Bell has an impressive record of scientific research. Is he not allowed to speak to his conclusions and hypotheses, or are only certain perspectives allowed in today's politics of the climate debate? If we are going to advocate that James Hansen can speak his views on climate science, which are not universally shared, on what basis is Judis criticizing Bell for expressing his views?

Judis even endorses scientific McCarthyism by associating the views of certain scientists with conservative commentators, suggesting that certain views should be evaluated by who refers to them,

As expected, Rush Limbaugh, Rich Lowry of National Review, The Washington Times, and other conservative voices have cited NOAA to attack what Limbaugh has called "the global warming crowd." But NOAA's and Mayfield's statements have also influenced mainstream commentators. Citing Mayfield, USA Today editorialized against "global warming activists" who were turning the "storms into spin." CNN correspondent Ann O'Neill counseled against attributing hurricanes becoming "bigger and meaner" to global warming. "Don't rush to blame it on global warming, experts warn," she wrote. And two of the experts she quoted were Mayfield and Chris Landsea, Mayfield's colleague at the National Hurricane Center. Citing Mayfield, a Chicago Tribune editorial issued a similar admonition against linking hurricanes with global warming.

Judis goes on to discuss the state of public relations in NOAA, a subject on which I too have heard rumors of a clamp down. As I understand things the alleged clamp down affects all NOAA employees, not just those who want to assert a linkage between global warming and hurricanes (Who are these folks? Judis does not name names.). This is indeed an important subject and it would benefit from some hard evidence (muzzled NOAA employees contact me:!). But to suggest that any such clamp down on media interactions has contributed to a stifling of discussion of hurricanes and global warming is absurd. This subject has received far more attention than is warranted by its policy significance. The great irony here is that Judis is trying to stifle the voices of those who he disagrees with.

For its part, NOAA should never put out an official agency position on a scientific subject, unless it has some formal mechanism for arriving at such a position (as does the FDA, for instance). Individual scientists, whether they are in NOAA and NASA, should be able to voice their views on science in which they have expertise. If many scientists within NOAA happen to think that the linkage of hurricanes and global warming is overstated by others, there is no need to ascribe this to the politics of the Bush Administration or to lying or deceit. Every NOAA scientist quoted in the Judis story has had a career that began long before Bush took office. Each is an accomplished scientist. They are deserving of our respect, even if their views are not received as politically correct.

The reality is that the last word on the science of hurricanes and climate change has yet to be written. And as far as the peer-reviewed literature is concerned, the debate really hasn't even begun. There are differing expectations from very smart people about what future research will say. This is a recipe for an increase in our collective uncertainty. For the foreseeable future there will be conflicting statements made by qualified scientists. How people choose sides in this debate is likely to be much more a function of politics and ideology than anything else. Expect to see more scientific McCarthyism.


(From Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12 February 2006)

Not everyone was pleased with the way former US Vice President Al Gore was given "celebrity" treatment when he spoke as a crusader against global warming in Manila. Two scientists from the University of the Philippines yesterday lamented how Gore's "doomsday" pronouncements apparently received more attention than the more detailed analyses and solutions offered by Filipino environmental experts. They also challenged and branded as "exaggerated" what the former US leader said about Manila Bay "overflowing" because of the greenhouse effect.

Too much use of ground water by typical households and establishments-not global warming-was the bigger reason the metropolis is sinking, said Dr. Carlo Arcilla and Dr. Fernando Siringan of the UP College of Science in Diliman, Quezon City. "There we go again. A foreign celebrity coming over for a quick visit, giving a talk, and we are all in adulation, taking everything said as gospel truth," Arcilla said in a statement e-mailed to the Inquirer. Arcilla is an associate professor of geosciences and coordinator of the college's Science and Society Program. He has a Ph D in geosciences and geotechnical engineering earned at the University of Illinois. Siringan, a professor on marine geology, holds a Ph D from Rice University in Houston, Texas.


In his first visit to the country, Gore delivered a lecture on global warming at a forum hosted last Thursday by Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco. The standing-room-only affair drew ranking politicians, business leaders and members of the diplomatic corps. The former Vice President of the Clinton administration warned that up to two million Metro Manila residents may have to be evacuated from flooded communities as melting glaciers and the polar icecap raise sea levels worldwide. Warning that the world will reach the "tipping point" toward an ecological catastrophe within the next 10 years, he urged international and local leaders to focus their efforts toward halting the phenomenon of global warming.

Doomsday scenarios

His computer-aided presentation earned a standing ovation. "The problem with these exaggerated and very general pronouncements about environmental doomsday scenarios is that they distract us from the real local problems which we can really do something about," Arcilla said. He conceded that global warming was "a serious threat to humanity, (but) it is certainly not in the terms that Gore presents." As to Manila Bay overflowing, he noted that his peers at UP, like Siringan and Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo, along with their students, had conducted their own studies of the water level's rise.

Real story

"While it is true that global warming could contribute to the rise, this is only in the millimeters, but the centimeters' rise could be attributed more to heavy groundwater extraction which results in subsidence, which makes it appear that the sea is invading land," he explained. "I am not saying that we should stop helping control greenhouse gas emissions, but very, very few really know the real story about flooding in Metro Manila," he said. "We could cry all day about greenhouse gases but if we don't regulate carefully our use of groundwater, we could be flooding faster than whatever could come from global warming."

Reached by phone, Siringan observed: "We're falling over each other when it comes to foreign scientists. We don't listen to our very own. They have done more work but they are ignored." He said this bias was evident in the hiring of expensive "foreign consultants" for projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways. For the Camanava Flood Control Project, for example, the DPWH has tapped Japanese consultants who "earn in a month what Filipino scientists cannot earn in a year," said Siringan, who gets around P30,000 a month as a UP professor. He said he shared Arcilla's "sentiments" about the Gore visit.


James Lovelock was the darling of the greens, a pioneer who saw the Earth as a self-regulating entity under threat from global warming ... then a wind farm was planned near his home

At 86, James Lovelock is nearing the end of his long journey from scientific crank to revered thinker. These days, this ultimate environmentalist, a medic turned biophysicist who devoted 40 years to the study of the planet, thinks that all human life is nearing extinction, and says so in The Revenge Of Gaia, a shrill book that is the publishing equivalent of the doomsayer's sandwich board: "The end is nigh." Normally, Lovelock insists, he is quite upbeat. And in the flesh he's a chipper old fellow who wears his age lightly. When it comes to the future of the Earth, though, he is happy to be called a pessimist. We, all of us, don't have much time left.

Initially ridiculed, Lovelock's famous "Gaia theory", which proposed that the planet was one living organism with a series of connected systems that controlled climate and temperature, has since become the standard explanation for the changes to our rapidly warming world.

In the 1960s, when Rachel Carson's Silent Spring awakened humanity to its polluting effect on the planet, Lovelock ploughed a lonely furrow, insisting that the Earth was more resilient than many in the nascent green lobby imagined. Back then, he thought the world might be on the brink of a new Ice Age, and many agreed.

Lately , Lovelock has changed his opinion. The recent dramatic shift in global warming has convinced him that we are hastening the planet's ruination. Three years ago, this environmental icon shook the green movement to its core by championing nuclear power as a safe, quick-fix way to meet our growing energy needs without pumping carbon into the already unbalanced atmosphere. No other solution can deliver on time or in sufficient quantity. The expense of nuclear is nothing compared to the cost of losing civilisation to rising flood waters, while the dangers are a figment of our fearful imaginations. And the pollution? Mere industrial waste that could be a blessing in disguise.

Lovelock's new book appears designed to instil fear of our imminent destruction, in the hope of combating our paranoia about nuclear power. In this guidebook to the forthcoming apocalypse, he predicts melted icecaps, flooded cities and vast burning deserts: all a consequence of carbon-fuelled global warming. Mankind is on the brink of destroying itself within one or two lifetimes.

For all Lovelock's superb rhetoric and rigorous scientific research, the last few pages of his book reveal an all too human explanation for his dismissal of renewable alternative energy sources. In fact, his love of the nuclear option stems from his hatred of wind farms. James Lovelock, it turns out, is a NIMBY ["Not in my back yard"]. When neighbours alerted him to plans to build wind turbines near his Devon retirement home, he writes, "fear crystallised as sharp needles in the supersaturated spaces of my mind", and he realised that the politically overstated case for renewable energy could lead to his view being spoiled. "I moved to West Devon 28 years ago to escape the bulldozers that were destroying the Wiltshire hedgerows and meadows," he writes . "Unwisely I thought that the gentle farmland of Devon was too poor to be developed and would let me live out my life in countryside I loved."

Confronted with the Nimby label, he agrees: "I think in a sense that's true. I am a Nimby. You need an emotional inspiration because writing is quite a chore really, so that was the kick that got me going." It seems perverse to dismiss a clean source of energy because of a few pylons, but then Lovelock has always straddled contradictions.

He revels in his stance as an independent outsider to the scientific and political establishment, and in his reputation as the man who risked all in 1961 by giving up a safe job as a government scientist despite having four young children and a wife in the early stages of multiple sclerosis. Widowed and remarried, he has since achieved enormous success as an inventor, consultant and author.

Earnestly serious about the environmental crisis, he also has the twinkling eye of someone who delights in mischief. In 2003, he rocked the environmental world with a clarion call for nuclear power published in The Independent newspaper , which made "nuclear" palatable as a word if not a policy, and has helped the Blair government articulate the case for a new generation of nuclear power stations. " The current generation of nuclear reactors have run for over 40 years with no trouble, he says. "What is the fear?"

The nuclear industry , he says, has a remarkable safety record compared to other sectors. Even with the Chernobyl nuclear reactor fire, deaths were limited to 75, mostly among those who extinguished it. Hundreds may have developed life-shortening cancers, but cancer claims a third of us anyway, so why quibble over a few years?

Lovelock treats our nuclear nightmares with such flippancy, you begin to think this old man doesn't care much for mankind. Yet he insists the opposite is true and is fond of quoting Christ's admonishment of the Pharisees from the gospel of Matthew: "Ye blind guides which strain at a gnat and swallow whole a camel."

Even the spectre of nuclear waste - a "gift" to future generations which some predict could remain hazardous for hundreds of centuries - troubles him little. It could be a guardian of the environment, he argues. Twenty years on , the Ukrainian countryside around Chernobyl is uninhabitable for humans but inside the "dead zone", wildlife is flourishing. "We call the ash from nuclear power 'nuclear waste' and worry about its safe disposal," he says. "I wonder if instead we should use it as an incorruptible guardian of the beautiful places of the Earth."

Lovelock devotedly studies the planet and concludes that it's already too late to prevent the change; the lush, comfortable world we have become used to will disappear very rapidly. "We live in a fool's climate and a fool's paradise in a sense too," he says. "When things get bad - and they might get bad relatively soon, in the next couple of decades - then all hell will be let loose.

"I think people have no idea what's going to happen," he adds. "When I say in the book that billions are going to die, I mean it. We're not going to survive in any numbers at all. My hope is that we can continue civilisation somewhere up in the Arctic but we have to prepare for it now to make sure it doesn't degenerate into a lot of warlords running the show."

The good news is that, according to Lovelock, Scotland won't do too badly. Britain sits on a temperature anomaly because of the warm Gulf Stream. Take that away (there is evidence it is switching off), and we're back in the Ice Age. "But if the world heats up by the same temperature then we'll be practically the same," says Lovelock. "The trouble is that everyone will want to move here." And when that happens, where will we find room for the wind farms?

The Sunday Herald, 12 February 2006


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 February, 2006


The biggest snowstorm of the season has belted north-eastern US, sinking New York City into its deepest snow on record, cutting power to thousands of homes, closing airports but bringing joy to ski resorts. "Make no mistake about it, this is a very dangerous, big storm," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a news conference. At least 68.3cm of snow fell in New York's Central Park, surpassing the city's previous record during a blizzard on December 26, 1947, which killed 77 people, according to the National Weather Service and city archives.

Authorities reported few fatalities as of yesterday evening (local time) because people heeded storm warnings and stayed inside. One man died when his truck slid off a Virginia highway and another was killed in a fire in Baltimore when snow hampered rescue teams. Whiteout conditions delayed flights and trains and shut airports in New York and New Jersey, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Amtrak rail service said, as the storm churned up the northeast coast from Virginia to Maine. Flakes of snow were reported as far south as Tennessee. "The snow is beautiful," said Gary Aichholz, manager of Magic Mountain, a ski resort in Londonderry, Vermont, which like other ski mountains across New England had suffered from unseasonably warm weather and scarce snowfall in January. "I think this will get people back in the spirit of winter and skiing," he said....

"It is quite a storm," said Brian Ciemnecki, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's New York bureau, which began compiling records in 1869. "In some areas we're seeing snow fall at a rate of 10 inches (25 cm) in two hours."

As the storm wound down late yesterday, Hartford, Connecticut reported its heaviest snowfall since 1905 with 52.6cm. As much as 54.1cm had fallen in Columbia, Maryland, and 48.3cm in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania, according to Accuweather. Key roads and highways were mostly open and passable but still covered with snow....

Several airports were closed, including New York's John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia Airport, which shut for the first time in five years.

More here


Climate catastrophists have long said that global warming can cause drastic cooling in North Atlantic regions by "switching off" the Gulf Stream. And they say it happened once before. The rapid cooling in the prehistoric "Younger Dryas" period was said to be caused by a switching off of the Gulf stream. But the switching off is supposed to have be caused by a huge release of meltwater from the prehistoric Lake Agassiz. The research excerpted below by Lowell et al. reports evidence that no such release happened at that time


Meltwater drainage from glacial Lake Agassiz has been implicated for nearly 15 years as a trigger for thermohaline circulation changes producing the abrupt cold period known as the Younger Dryas. On the basis of initial field reconnaissance to the lake's proposed outlets, regional geomorphic mapping, and preliminary chronological data, an alternative hypothesis may be warranted. Should ongoing data collection continue to support preliminary results, it could be concluded that Lake Agassiz did not flood catastrophically into the Lake Superior basin preceding the Younger Dryas.

All preliminary findings imply a retreating ice sheet margin approximately 1000 years younger than previously thought, which would have blocked key meltwater corridors at the start of the Younger Dryas. If Lake Agassiz meltwater passing into the North Atlantic is not the trigger for the Younger Dryas, then perhaps there were different sources of water or triggers.

At this point, it seems prudent to carefully examine the role of glacial Lake Agassiz in any abrupt climate change scenario. The current paradigm for driving abrupt climate change is the modification of thermohaline circulation by the addition of external freshwater to the North Atlantic Ocean. Numerous modeling experiments have demonstrated the extreme sensitivity of this system, and attributing the source of that freshwater to glacial Lake Agassiz has evolved with numerous investigations. In the mid-1970s, Kennett and Shackleton [1975] noted that the isotopic composition of seawater in the Gulf of Mexico fl uctuated substantially during deglacial time, and they attributed the fluctuation to changing sources of meltwater from the Laurentide Ice Sheet. Approximately coeval with the isotope changes, the Laurentide Ice Sheet retreated northward into an isostatically depressed basin behind the subcontinental drainage divide. Researchers in the Great Lakes reconstructed lake-level history, and they recognized variations in meltwater routing either through the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico or through the St. Lawrence River to the North Atlantic (Figure 1). By the late 1980s, Broecker et al. [1989] had honed the concept of a freshwater trigger upsetting thermohaline circulation, and modeling experiments defined the necessary meltwater fluxes.

The climate connection to glacial Lake Agassiz arose because organic sediments (10,960-9900 radiocarbon years [14C] B.P.) deposited between two sequences of deepwater clays would require a major drop in lake level, i.e. a meltwater releasing event coeval with the Younger Dryas. Subsequently,Teller and colleagues [e.g., Teller and Leverington, 2004] employed rebound models (delayed glacio-isostatic uplift of the Earth's crust from ice-sheet loading following deglaciation), lake-level histories, and ice-retreat patterns to calculate meltwater volumes reaching the North Atlantic via an eastern route.These calculations were compatible with modeling estimates needed to affect ocean circulation.Thus, a terrestrial meltwater drainage reconstruction for triggering the Younger Dryas existed that was compatible with ocean records.


Preliminary Findings

In the Fort McMurray area, three well-developed ice margins (Stony Mountain, Firebag, and Cree Lake Moraines) that spread over some 100 km are currently assigned radiocarbon ages of 10,030, 9595, and 9665 14C years B.P., respectively (Figure 3). Consequently, it appears that the plug was pulled and meltwater could have flowed through the Clearwater channel between 10,030 and 9700 14C years B.P., consistent with the maximum age of 9900 14C years B.P. for flood gravel north of Fort McMurray (Figure 3). Even with the earliest bracket imposed by the radiocarbon ages, deglaciation and meltwater routing may have been 1000 14C years later than the Younger Dryas.

This routing is more closely associated with the Preboreal Oscillation, a brief return to cooling after the Younger Dryas [Fisher et al., 2002], but precise temporal relationships have yet to be determined. In the Thunder Bay area, the current data indicate sequential deglaciation with the Shebandowan lowland submerged by a glacial lake until 10,200 14C years B.P., based on a combination of radiocarbon ages and varve counts on the inorganic, laminated lake clays below the radiocarbon sample level (Figure 2).

One interpretation is that sequential recession of the ice margin did not open an eastern outlet until well after the beginning of the Younger Dryas.An alternative interpretation has been that recession from a glacial re-advance associated with the Younger Dryas cooling is being dated, not the original deglaciation. At present, the data do not differentiate between a re-advance or not. However, the sample sites, some with glaciolacustrine sediments, plot above known elevations of Lake Agassiz and the subcontinental drainage divide.This implies a different rebound history or deglaciation pattern than has been proposed.

A central point for reconstructing the drainage of Lake Agassiz is the significance of the terrestrial macrofossils in fluvial sediment that indicate subaerial exposure between two formations of lake clay deep in the Agassiz basin.The oldest age on these deposits is 10,960 ñ 300 14C years B.P., indicating a lower water level at that time. However, reexamination of this date within the context of other numerous ages for this low lake level may indicate the wood was reworked into younger sediment, which would negate the temporal coincidence of the lowering lake level and the start of the Younger Dryas.

Thus, some key questions are: When and from what water plane did the drop occur? How fast was the drop? Where was the ice margin relative to the outlets? What was the basin volume at that time? All of these factors constrain any estimate of freshwater flux from Lake Agassiz into the oceans. Finally, if both outlets were blocked at this time, how extensive was the lake, and where was water draining at that time? Obviously, an understanding of the chronology of Lake Agassiz is incomplete at this time.


Preliminary results indicate that ice recession at both outlet areas is later than supposed, and that large volumes of meltwater were not catastrophically released from Lake Agassiz at the beginning of the Younger Dryas. Thus, if the Lake Agassiz floods did not upset the circulation pattern, the question becomes: What did? Could other pathways of the hydrological cycle alter the thermohaline circulation pattern at the beginning of the Younger Dryas, or alter other climate fluctuations that preceded Lake Agassiz? These investigations indicate that the geological understanding of past abrupt climate changes is only preliminary. This does not bode well for predicting future, abrupt climate changes.


Below is a letter to "Nature" from Eric Steig. Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington

Your News Feature "A sea change" (Nature 439, 256-260; 2006) states that evidence for the huge effects on climate of past thermohaline shutdowns is "near indisputable". You then claim that the best such evidence is the coincidence of thermohaline slowdown with the flooding of the North Atlantic following the collapse of Lake Agassiz, about 12,000 years ago at the beginning of the Younger Dryas cold period.

Yet Wallace Broecker, one of the chief proponents of the relationship between thermohaline circulation changes and climate, finds otherwise. In a recent study (T. V. Lowell et al. Eos 86, 365-373; 2005), Broecker and colleagues suggest that the case for the coincidence of these events is quite weak, and might well be wrong. Instead, they say, "preliminary findings imply a retreating ice sheet margin approximately 1000 years younger than previously thought, which would have blocked key meltwater corridors at the start of the Younger Dryas".

Of course, the proximal cause of a thermohaline "shutdown" (if such a thing can happen) is a separate issue from the influence of such a shutdown on climate. But it is highly relevant to this discussion of the sensitivity of the thermohaline circulation to current and future climate forcing.


A succinct email to Benny Peiser from Richard S. Lindzen (rlindzen@MIT.EDU), Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at MIT

The concern over the hockey stick has always struck me as weird. There are several reasons for my impression:

1. There is no doubt that Europe and the North Atlantic were warmer than they are today for several centuries during the high middle ages. This is more than enough information to tell us that major climate changes can occur without the present level of industrialization -- regardless of what happened to the global mean temperature.

2. Indeed, if the global mean temperature did not change while Europe and the North Atlantic underwent very substantial warming, this would imply a major change in the geographic pattern of temperature. However, a major assumption in the hockey stick is that the patterns remain fixed. One is then left with the paradoxical conclusion that if the hockey results are right, the hockey stick analysis is wrong.

3. The medieval warm period in Europe was a period of high population, vibrant intellectual activity, and an absence of famine and plague. The onset of the little ice age was marked by famine, plague, and much reduced population.

This suggests that warmth wasn't all that bad. At the same time, the Renaissance and the intellectual flowering that followed all occurred before the end of the little ice age, suggesting that human abilities can rise above the problems posed by the environment. In many ways, the whole story can be regarded as encouraging. Yet we focus on a couple of tenths of a degree in the global mean.


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 February, 2006


A private email from a visitor to China that has not passed through official or media filters. Aren't we lucky to be living in one of those dreaded advanced capitalist societies?

Beijing was the most polluted place I have ever seen. There were a few clear days, 500 metres visibility, but on bad days the pollution was shocking -- 15 metres visibility. On 8 lane roads I could just make out the outline of the kerb from the middle lane.

According the English newspaper there, 5 hours of exposure to air pollution was the same as 70 cigarettes! I am still coughing. They call the sickness that results Beijing flu.

I loved the cold weather though. The hottest it got was -1 Celsius. Average was -5 to - 8 a few places were very cold. The great wall was -15 at the top with a 25 degree wind chill! brrrr. Some days were colder because the pollution completely blocked out the sun. It was totally deserted because of the cold, which was nice. I got lucky with clothing. I managed to find some knock-off Gore-Tex jackets, real gored, fake brand. They were fine. Went to the wall with t-shirt and 1 coat.

China was surprisingly undeveloped. Massive high-rises and cars everywhere trying to use bicycle road rules. Looked like chaos but had a really effective system. I only saw one accident. The drivers are incredibly skilled.

Beware False Profits

On the dangers of ignoring the harmful effects of reducing carbon emissions

By Iain Murray

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. - 2 Timothy 4: 3-5

The Evangelical Climate Initiative today issued a brief report entitled "Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action." It calls for Evangelical Christians to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and is signed by 86 evangelical leaders. Sadly, these good men and women have allowed their itching ears to listen to fables. Their claims are based on half-truths and unsound logic.

The first claim is that human-induced climate change is real. This is likely true as a simple statement, but the evidence the group proposes for it is weak and its meaning is far from clear. For instance, the group claims that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has "documented the steady rise in global temperatures over the last fifty years." This is not the case. The earth actually cooled between 1942 and 1980 (see here). The earth has warmed steadily only over the last 25 years, and evidence from satellites is not consistent with the idea that global warming is actually global.

The group then says that the IPCC projects that the global temperature will continue to rise. This is true, but the wording is important. A projection is not a prediction. The IPCC has found itself unable to predict with any degree of confidence what will happen to global temperatures in the future. Moreover, these projections are based on "storylines" about how energy use will grow in the future. As several distinguished commentators have noted, these storylines are based on faulty economic analysis.

The group then claims that the IPCC has attributed "most of the warming" to human activities. This also overstates the case. The IPCC found that "most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations" (emphasis added). Attribution of climate change is a very difficult subject and the IPCC is right to include the caveat. Indeed, there have been recent developments that may affect this claim. For example, a group of paleoclimatologists recently wrote:

"[E]nhanced variability during pre-industrial times, would result in a redistribution of weight towards the role of natural factors in forcing temperature changes, thereby relatively devaluing the impact of anthropogenic emissions and affecting future predicted scenarios. If that turns out to be the case, agreements such as the Kyoto protocol that intend to reduce emissions of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, would be less effective than thought" - Esper et al., Climate: Past Changes and Future Ranges, November 2005

Then the group states that all the G8 scientific Academies have concurred with these findings. The group should have noted that the Russian Academy of Sciences disputes its signature on that document.

The second claim is that "the consequences of climate change will be significant, and will hit the poor the hardest." Here there is much more dispute, as the consequences depend very much on the projected temperature rises, which are themselves in dispute as noted above. There is significant uncertainty even within the IPCC's judgment as to what the temperature rises will be. Rises of 1.5oC may well not have much effect, whereas rises of 5.4oC would probably have a profound effect; the actual data, as opposed to the models, suggest a modest temperature rise of just over 1oC.

As for the consequences, the group first lists sea-level rise. Unfortunately for them, the latest research on the likely effects of melting ice on sea level rise halves the previous estimates. Next come heat waves, drought, and extreme weather events. The evidence for those, however, is mixed. Leading experts in tropical diseases downplay the role of global warming in spreading tropical diseases, which are the next worry, and there is a significant and fractious dispute in the hurricane research field over the role of global warming in increasing hurricane intensity. Neither of these possible effects of global warming has been established with any degree of certainty.

The group goes on to claim that the effects of these changes on the world's poor could be catastrophic, and that "millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors." Because of the group's third claim ("Christian moral convictions demand our response to the climate change problem"), which I shall not argue with here, the fourth claim is made that, "The need to act now is urgent. Governments, businesses, churches and individuals all have a role to play in addressing climate change - starting now." And the role chosen is to "reduce the carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels."

Even if you accept claims 3 and 4, the logic driving towards reduction in fossil fuel use as the appropriate reaction is faulty. The problem is that the deleterious effects of global warming, assuming they do come about, are actually exacerbations of existing problems. Indur Goklany, writing for the National Center for Policy Analysis, examined to what degree global warming would make worse the problems of hunger, drought, sea-level rise, disease, and threats to biodiversity. He found:

* By 2085, the contribution of (unmitigated) warming to the above listed problems is generally smaller than other factors unrelated to climate change.

* More important, these risks would be lowered much more effectively and economically by reducing current and future vulnerability to climate change rather than through its mitigation.

* Finally, adaptation would help developing countries cope with major problems now, and through 2085 and beyond, whereas generations would pass before anything less than draconian mitigation would have a discernible effect

In other words, we can do more to help the poor by combating these problems now than we would by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. There is a terrible opportunity cost to drastic action to reduce climate change, and that cost would likely weigh heavier on the world's poor than the effects of global warming itself.

Moreover, it is acknowledged by every responsible economist that drastic action to reduce fossil fuel use would increase energy costs, which would in turn reduce household income. Wealthier is healthier, and richer is cleaner. Limiting economic activity therefore can have a dramatic impact on quality of life, not least by reducing life expectancy. Researchers have found a direct correlation between income and mortality, with a disproportionate impact on poorer communities. Thus, policies that reduce societal wealth can be expected to induce premature mortalities, as well as to increase disease and injury rates.

For example, it is often asserted that global warming already kills 150,000 people per year worldwide. Yet a recent econometric study by Johns Hopkins epidemiologist Harvey Brenner found that replacing U.S. coal with higher-cost fuels for the purposes of energy production would result in at least 195,000 additional premature deaths per year in the U.S. alone. Given that recent "Kyoto-lite" measures proposed in the U.S. Senate such as the Climate Stewardship Act proposed by Senators McCain (R., Ariz,) and Lieberman (D., Conn.) would result in the replacement of about 78 percent of coal with high-priced fuels, it is entirely plausible that even "baby steps" towards climate mitigation would result in the deaths of more people in the U.S. than global warming would worldwide. The effects of such strategies if adopted across the globe could be far more devastating than global warming even if alarmist predictions come true.

The evangelical leaders need to give more thought to the unintended consequences of their well-intentioned acts. By devoting spiritual and temporal energy to reducing carbon-dioxide emissions, the evangelical leaders will probably hurt the poor more than they help them. As Matthew 7: 15 says, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." By adopting a green agenda, the evangelicals may have thrown the poor to those wolves.


Why do the Japanese and the Inuits have some of the lowest risks for cardiovascular disease and heart-related death? Likewise, why are breast cancer rates unusually low in these same groups? Why are rates of postpartum depression relatively lower in Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Chile than in most western nations? Why is the prevalence of Alzheimer's disease so high in Arab populations in Israel while the risk is significantly lower for the Cree Indians of northeastern Canada? The best explanation points to differing diets. The healthier populations listed above ingest high levels of nutritious omega-3 fatty acids through consumption of fish and shellfish. Comparing national daily intakes of these essential fatty acids reveals average Americans consume between 2 to 10 times below rates in Japan, Singapore, Scandinavia, and Spain.

So, why are American diets deficient in fish and fish oil? Why aren't Americans eating more fish? Our self-imposed consumption restriction is at least partially derived from being confused and alarmed by the daily news barrage claiming available sources of seafood may be overly "contaminated" by the biologically toxic form of mercury, called methylmercury. For example, recent evidence demonstrates that pregnant women from eastern Massachusetts are consuming less fish following the FDA's confusing revision of its fish consumption advisory. Also, the latest sales figures for canned tuna report a drop of 10 percent nationwide, compared to 16 months ago. This represents an industry revenue loss of nearly $150 million. More worrisome than financial loss, a further drop in American seafood consumption below an already deficient level is particularly bad news for our most sensitive populations, such as pregnant women, fetuses, and young children.

Such mercury fears are unfounded in science. The wide variety of ocean fish available to Americans is almost surely safe, with no emerging health threats from the trace levels of mercury. There is nothing in these fish to warrant unnecessary consumption restrictions. Here is what the best science tells us:

First, the overall health benefits of consuming a variety of ocean and lake fish clearly far outweigh the risk from micro traces of mercury (measured in parts per million) occurring naturally in fish through the synthesis of existing mercury from Earth's crust, oceans, and rivers. The medical literature richly documents the potential mitigation for a host of serious negative health conditions by the intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Secondly, widespread claims of modern industrial mercury "contamination" are without scientific support. In sharp contrast, the scientific evidence overwhelmingly points to naturally elevated levels of mercury in both fish and humans. Third, the recent popular alarmism about damage to child neurodevelopment and adult cardiac health related to mercury are rooted in extrapolations from highly inappropriate studies of populations in the Faroe Islands and eastern Finland, respectively.

The Faroese studies are inappropriate for setting risk levels for the U.S. population because the Faroe Island inhabitants are uniquely exposed to very high levels of mercury from consumption of pilot whale meat. Additionally, Faroese mothers and children are exposed to a cocktail of other toxic chemicals, including PCBs and DDT, by eating pilot whale blubber.

Limited suggestions of cardiac risk from consuming fish with trace levels of mercury is contradicted by numerous studies of documented cardiac health benefits, as noted by the American Heart Association. The Finnish study often referenced by alarmists is almost certainly too unique and poorly designed to suggest any direct relevance for Americans. For example, the rate of cardiac death in eastern Finland is among the highest in the world, likely due to high consumption of animal fat. The authors themselves identified at least eight other risk factors, including vodka and beer binging; low dietary intake of fruits, berries, and vegetables; and vitamin C deficiency. More important is a critical design flaw of the Finnish study: The time lapse for collection of the mercury data can be as long as 10 years before the documented death events, which raises serious questions about misclassification of exposure. Thus, persistent, exaggerated, and unfounded mercury scares reported in the media could be seriously and irresponsibly endangering the health of all Americans.


It's simple: Sydney needs another dam

Greenies or no Greenies

EUREKA! Premier Morris Iemma has "discovered" a secret stash of underground drinking water and suddenly we're drought-proof. Sure, and next the Premier will be telling us the Cross City Tunnel is a bargain. He might get away with the ruse, since the drought has broken and the dams are filling. But the "vast underground lakes" beneath Penrith and the Southern Highlands that have given the Government the excuse to shelve its dud desalination program haven't miraculously appeared overnight. Geology students have been mapping the aquifers and farmers have been drilling water bores from them for 100 years. Some secret.

The aquifers are just a fig leaf to hide Iemma's embarrassment at canning the desalination plant that was only ever a diversionary tactic to stop drought-affected Sydneysiders clamouring for a new dam. Any engineer with a clear head will tell you that, even with water restrictions and a better effort recycling water for industrial use, at the rate Sydney is growing (700 new residents a week at last count), it is long overdue for a new storage facility. Dams have been the tried and true way of storing water since civilisation began. They are designed to tide you over between wet spells.

When Warragamba was built in 1960, Sydney had half the population of today and the catchment designers always envisaged expansion to keep up with the needs of a growing city. For 40 years successive state governments bought up land near Braidwood for the planned Welcome Reef Dam on the Shoalhaven River. By 1997 about half the land needed had been bought - 87 properties or more than 20,000 hectares. But in 2000 the deep-green former Premier Bob Carr announced that the dam, tipped then to cost $400 million, was on "indefinite deferral". He then locked up the land that had been set aside, stealthily transferring 6000 crucial hectares into a nature reserve, thus destroying any prospect the plan could be revived.

So last week our dams were 44.2 per cent full after hitting an all-time low on June 29 last year when Warragamba fell to 34.7 per cent. If more people are drawing water out of a dam, it is obvious it will empty faster. It's not global warming but simple maths. Sydney hasn't built a new dam since Tallowa in 1976, yet projections are for an extra 1 million people living in Sydney by 2021.

Now the Iemma Government has even blinked over raising the Tallowa dam walls, billed by last year's Utilities Minister Frank "the Punisher" Sartor as a central plank of the Government's water strategy. Sartor's plans included applying ever more draconian water restrictions, squeezing the last dregs out of Warragamba dam, piping excess water from the Shoalhaven to Warragamba, increasing the price of water, reducing leaks and maximising recycling. A bit of this and a bit of that.

It was just seven months ago that Dubai Bob, as Carr was dubbed after his $120,000 tour of London and Dubai two weeks before he resigned, announced his grand plan for a desalination plant at Kurnell. It was always an expensive, environmentally unsound, technological furphy aimed at diverting attention from the dam that was so glaringly needed.

Yet the Government will spend a reported $120 million on this aborted folly, compensating private companies, buying land and setting up pilot plants.

Not that the NSW Opposition is any better. When asked for Peter Debnam's policy on a new dam, his spokesman said: "We haven't spoken about building a new dam at any stage. Our water policy at this stage revolves around recycling . . . We've maintained that Sydney doesn't have a rainwater problem, it has a catchment problem." Well, duh.

Welcome Reef would have cost $1.8 billion. But the desalination plant would have cost $2 billion with environmental costs arguably greater than any dam, and benefits far less. Instead of frightening the populace with apocalyptic visions of the future, dreaming up mad schemes and encouraging ideologically warped councils to ban swimming pools, couldn't one politician make a rational decision, wear the greenie protests and earn the respect of the 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.


12 February, 2006


Global warming should lead to increased evaporation off the oceans and hence increased rainfall. Instead we find a record drought:

Spain's cities are so polluted that they cause 16,000 deaths every year. A European Commission report also said that 15 million people - a third of Spain's population - are at risk of cancer, heart problems and asthma as a result of the polluted air over Madrid, Barcelona, Seville and other major cities. According to one estimate, breathing the air in Madrid is equivalent to smoking 11 cigarettes a day.

The record levels of air contamination can partly be blamed on the ongoing and devastating drought - the worst since records began - and on sand-borne particles blown in from the Sahara Desert. Last year, a United Nations report said that Africa's deserts were poised to jump the Mediterranean and up to a third of Spain could soon become desert.

But there are also man-made causes for what has become known as the "grey beret" - the cloud of air pollution that hangs above the country's cities.... "After we clean the windows here, in two hours they're covered in black dust," Alfonso Herranz, a resident of the Madrid barrio of Plaza de Luca de Tena told Spain's El Pais newspaper. Pollution in the area exceeded safe levels on 124 days last year....

More here


Politicians regard the studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the ultimate climate bible. Unfortunately, they do not read the comprehensive reports which form the basis of the whole exercise. They only read -- if at all -- the alarmist passages in the "Summary for Policy-maker", which have been skewed through an elaborate and sophisticated process of spin-doctoring. Details of this practice have recently been revealed by the French climatologist Marcel Leroux in his book, Global Warming - Myth or Reality? The Erring Ways of Climatology.

Disapproving these practices, various renowned scientists have distanced themselves from the IPCC. In the US, Chris Landsea, a hurricane expert, is one example. In the Netherlands, Henk Tennekes, former director of the research department of the Royal Meteorological Institute, and Hans Oerlemans, glaciologist and laureate of the prestigious Spinoza Award, have done the same.

Political leaders assume that climate science is sufficiently advanced to legitimize all kinds of draconian measures which have a profound impact on our society and economy -- measures which, moreover, encroach upon the liberty of the individual citizen. But if we take a closer look, this appears not to be the case. Contrary what is often argued, there is no consensus among scientists on the man-made global warming hypothesis.

Ironically, just as global warming scare-mongering reaches new heights, the global cooling hypothesis is making a come back. It should be recalled that the frightening images of imminent global warming disaster are of fairly recent vintage. After all, in the 1960s and 1970s various prominent climatologists held the view that it was not global warming that formed a mortal threat to humanity but global cooling.

Recently the astronomer Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Pulkovo Astronomic Observatory in St. Petersburg declared that the Earth will experience a "mini Ice Age" in the middle of this century, caused by low solar activity. Temperatures will begin falling six or seven years from now, when global warming caused by increased solar activity in the 20th century reaches its peak. The coldest period will occur 15 to 20 years after a major solar output decline between 2035 and 2045, Abdusamatov said. This view is shared by the Belgian astronomer, Dirk Callebaut, who expects a "grand minimum" in the middle of this century, just like the Maunder Minimum (1650-1700), a period during which the Thames, the Seine and the Dutch canals were frozen in winter.

If these astronomers are right, the hundreds of billions of dollars the world will spend every year on the fight against global warming will have gone down the drain. But, of course, we are not sure of imminent global cooling. On the other hand, we are not sure whether there will be catastrophic global warming either.

What to do in the face of this uncertainty? The earlier-mentioned climatologist, Henk Tennekes, recently argued in an interview in the most prominent Dutch weekly, Elsevier: "We only understand 10 percent of the climate issue. That is not enough to wreck the world economy with Kyoto-like measures."

More here


Gassy emissions no longer in suspect dock for melting the last ice age

Methane escaping from the sea floor to the atmosphere has been a popular suspect for causing rapid climate changes during and at the end of the last ice age. But new data derived from a Greenland ice core have delivered a killer blow to the idea.

Methane (CH4) is a much stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. It is usually released from swamps or through biomass burning. But it is also trapped in huge amounts in some ocean-floor sediments, where it lies buried in a strange kind of ice known as 'methane clathrate'. These clathrates are stable only within a certain range of temperatures and pressures; when brought to the surface, they melt rapidly and release burnable gas to the air.

A catastrophic release of trillions of tonnes of methane is thought to have triggered a temperature jump some 55 million years ago in an already warm climate at the Palaeocene/Eocene boundary (see 'Gas leak!'). But some scientists suspect that similar methane bursts, triggered perhaps by submarine landslides, sea-level drops or changes in water temperature, may also have caused a number of rapid warming episodes during and at the end of the last glacial period.

The theory has been popularized as the 'clathrate gun hypothesis'1. But now an isotope analysis of methane trapped in bubbles of a Greenland ice core seems to disprove the idea.

No sign of a burp

Todd Sowers, a palaeoceanographer at Pennsylvania State University in Philadelphia, measured hydrogen isotopes of atmospheric methane from three distinct warming episodes, 38,000, 14,500 and 11,500 years ago. Methane from clathrates contains more deuterium (the heavy form of hydrogen) than methane from land-based sources, thanks in part to the bacteria that create the gas on the sea floor, and the material they consume.

He found no evidence whatsoever in the data for increased amounts of methane from marine clathrates. "This means that seafloor methane reservoirs must have been stable at these times, or at least that no significant amounts of methane escaped the ocean," says Sowers, whose study is published in Science this week2.

"The data are convincing," says Kai-Uwe Hinrichs, a geochemist at the University of Bremen in Germany. "They won't exactly increase the attractiveness of the clathrate gun hypothesis." At least for the three periods Sowell has looked at in high resolution, they may even be a "killer argument", adds Jerome Chappellaz, a geochemist at the CNRS Laboratory of Glaciology and Geophysics of the Environment in Grenoble, France....

More here


And the Greenest Church of all sure is mouldy -- mouldy with inertia and loss of faith. Post lifted from Scott Burgess:

As I'm not an adherent to any organised religion - finding the manifestations thereof often ludicrous and not infrequently terrifying - it's with some amusement that I regard the current campaign of the Archbishop of Canterbury to present the Church of England in the most ridiculous possible light. Were I an Anglican, I'd most likely be saddened - and even this committed secularist does feel a tinge of pity when considering those who do in fact have a sincere emotional (dare I say 'spiritual'?) attachment to the church.

No doubt the Archbishop's programme predates my having noticed it, but it first came to my attention in July of 2004, in the form of an article in the Daily Telegraph, which begins:
"Church of England harvest festival services could soon expect worshippers not only to thank God for an abundant crop but also to repent for sins against the environment and for oppression and inequality.

"Congregations which traditionally gather around piles of bread, fruit and vegetables to sing 'We plough the fields and scatter' will be asked to acknowledge their 'selfishness in not sharing the earth's bounty fairly'. They may also apologise for 'our failure to protect resources for others' and for 'inequality and oppression in the earth'."
The same month saw an injunction that the clergy be discouraged from conducting cremations, on the grounds that ... can you possibly guess? On the grounds that cremations release unacceptable levels of greenhouse gases.

This was followed shortly thereafter - in February of 2005 - with recommendations that organic bread and wine be used at Holy Communion, that church f^tes concentrate on selling fairly traded products, and that the Church adopt "creation care prayers", which now no doubt accompany the heartfelt apologies for inequality and selfishness. In addition, according to the Independent:
"Christians will be asked to praise the work of the Body Shop which is described as a 'brave exception' for getting people to consider the ethics of their shopping choices."
It's unclear whether this "praise" would take the form of a special Body Shop hymn, an addendum to the Book of Common Prayer ("give us this day our jojoba extra rich night cream, and deliver us from wrinkles") or earth-toned liturgical banners bearing iconography of Anita Roddick - perhaps, in the spirit of the democratic ethos, individual congregations will be allowed to choose their own devotional means.

Needless to say, merely singing the praises of the Body Shop and repeating creation care prayers proved insufficient to absolve the Church of its overwhelming sense of guilt, and September of last year brought more calls for apology - this time for the war in Iraq. The Times reports:
"BISHOPS of the Church of England want all Britain's Christian leaders to get together in public to say sorry for the war in Iraq and its aftermath.

"The bishops say that the Government is not likely to show remorse so the churches should. They want to organise a major gathering with senior figures from the Muslim community to make a 'public act of repentance'."
The bishops' report recommended meeting terrorists' demands ("addressing of long-standing grievances") and "perhaps" giving them "economic support" as being crucially important in overcoming terrorism (PDF - page 73). The report - which, according to the official CofE website, maintains that "the churches' tradition of self-examination and penitence could make a distinctive contribution to the quest for reconciliation" (read: "if we apologise often enough, maybe they won't blow us up") - also recommends bribing Iran not to build nukes:
"Tehran might forgo a nuclear weapons capability, if the EU-3 delivered a suitably attractive incentive package."
By November, the Archbishop was attacking the Anglican missionaries of the 19th century for teaching natives indigenous peoples English hymns, an act which he sees as a "sin":
"In all sorts of ways the Church over the centuries has lent itself to the error, indeed the sin, of trying to make cultural captives, whether it is the mass export of Hymns Ancient and Modern to the remote parts of the mission field, or the abiding colonial shadow, the shadow of the British Empire that still hangs over our Communion."
While most would see these attempts to further the apparent goal of the Archbishop as indisputably impressive, he seemingly finds them lacking, as this week has seen an extraordinary flurry of activity on his part. As we've seen, Monday saw his support of the plan to divest CofE funds from Caterpillar (because bulldozers produced by that company are sometimes used to dismantle the homes of Palestinians), and on Tuesday he took the entire Western world to task for being uncivil to Muslims.

(Incidentally, neither the bishops' report nor the Archbishop's concern for the Palestinian cause should be construed as supportive of terrorism. Although Dr. Williams does speak of the "serious moral goals" of terrorists (who often have no choice but to act as they do, since they "experience their world as leaving them no other option"), and the possibility of using terror to "pursue an aim that is intelligible or desirable", he definitely thinks that terrorists are bad. Excepting, presumably, those who award him medals):

"President Yassir Arafat Awarding the Palestinian Medal, Bethlehem 2000, to the Bishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, in his office in Ramallah."
Today brings news of the latest manifestation of the pathology of guilt that infects both the Archbishop and the broader Church leadership. At the urging of its leader, the General Synod - sharing "the shame and sinfulness of our predecessors" - voted unanimously to apologise to the descendants of slaves, as the Church had at one time profited from ownership. (It's difficult to determine the extent of these profits, but in one case a bishop and three colleagues were paid 13,000 pounds in compensation when their slaves were emancipated in 1833).

The Church and the Archbishop would seemingly be less susceptible to charges that this is nothing more than politically correct grandstanding if they were to take concrete action, as opposed to the symbolic self-flagellation in which they so clearly revel. For example, a donation of 9.6 million pounds - the return on 13,000 pounds invested at 5% interest, compounded quarterly - could be made to an anti-slavery charity (or used to establish one). What do you suppose the chances are?

It wouldn't surprise me in the least if all this ridiculous gesturing, absurd self-loathing and despicable cravenness was in large part responsible for the decline in Church attendance over the last few decades. After all, the Muslim community shows none of those attributes (except, perhaps, for the first), and mosque attendance in the UK now exceeds that of the CofE.

UPDATE: I feel so guilty. I'm sorry - I'm really, really sorry that I didn't make the point so succinctly made by commenter JohnM:
"Given that slavery has been ubiquitous in history, shouldn't the CoE be crowing that the West are responsible for its abolition in most of the world? Should we be ashamed that Anglican missionaries did so much to marginalise its practice in Africa amongst other places?"
Actually, I think that the original intent was simply to commemorate abolition - then the Archbishop and others decided that the customary apology was the correct course of action.


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 February, 2006


That would be my summary of the latest bit of propaganda from "Science" magazine. Unlike Mann et al., they do at least now recognize past natural temperature fluctuations in the Mediaeval Warm Period and the Little Ice age but they think they have found an "out" by saying that recent warming is more widespread.

Even from my viewpoint as a humble social scientist, there are so many lacunae in the article that it is difficult to know where to start. Just a few points: 1). The fact that the temperature records least susceptible to heat-island effects (e.g. upper atmosphere and non-urban) show virtually NO 20th century warming is of course ignored. 2). The relatively late starting point excludes the surely VERY warm period when the Romano-Britons grew grapes right up to Hadrian's wall. 3) The apparently severe categorization of the data throws away a lot of information and makes it easy to select cutting points that suit the desired conclusion.

I give below both the abstract and the popular summary of the article and follow that with the first part of a very detailed and damaging review by climate expert Steve McIntyre.

The Spatial Extent of 20th-Century Warmth in the Context of the Past 1200 Years

By Timothy J. Osborn and Keith R. Briffa


Periods of widespread warmth or cold are identified by positive or negative deviations that are synchronous across a number of temperature-sensitive proxy records drawn from the Northern Hemisphere. The most significant and longest duration feature during the last 1200 years is the geographical extent of warmth in the middle to late 20th century. Positive anomalies during 890 to 1170 and negative anomalies during 1580 to 1850 are consistent with the concepts of a Medieval Warm Period and a Little Ice Age, but comparison with instrumental temperatures shows the spatial extent of recent warmth to be of greater significance than that during the medieval period.


Popular summary as given in "Science":

A number of unusually warm or cold intervals can be seen in most proxy records of temperature of the last millennium, so how can we assess the relative magnitude of the current warm period? Osborn and Briffa (p. 841) compared the geographic extent of late 20th-century warming in the Northern Hemisphere to the distribution of both warm and cold intervals for the last 1200 years by adopting specific thresholds to define warm and cold periods in order to avoid questions about of the absolute magnitude of warm and cold events, and they considered only a subset of the data chosen specifically for its value as a temperature proxy. They find that the continuing warmth of the late 20th century is the most widespread and longest temperature anomaly of any kind since the 9th century A.D.


Review by Steve McIntyre:


Osborn and Briffa [2006] , published today in Science, cannot be considered as an "independent" validation of Hockey Stick climate theories, because it simply re-cycles 14 proxies, some of them very questionable, which have been repeatedly used in other "Hockey Team" studies, including, remarkably, 2 separate uses of the controversial bristlecone/foxtail tree ring data. Also even more remarkably, they have perpetuated the use of Mann's erroneous principal components method in one of their key proxies.

Peer reviewers and editors at Science have failed to ensure compliance by Osborn and Briffa with journal data archiving policies, a frequent defect in paleoclimate reviewers for Science, as data for the study is not archived, nor is much of the source data. Of the source data which is archived, some is password protected, presumably for international security. Within the available record, many peculiar inconsistencies can be observed affecting both this study and Esper et al [2002], a study previously published in Science also with a non-existent data archive.


Not only are the 14 proxies used in O&B not independent of prior studies, in fact, they are composed entirely of proxies repeatedly used in previous studies. Astonishingly, 2 of the 14 proxies (2 of only 10 in the Medieval Warm Period) are bristlecone/foxtail pines, despite the fact that these are precisely the proxies that have most been called into question in connection with the work of Mann et al.

Nor are Osborn and Briffa independent authors. Both are members of a group of scientists, self-identified as the Hockey Team. They have both recently co-authored a reconstruction with Mann, Bradley and Hughes [Rutherford et al, 2005], and their close associate, Philip Jones, has co-authored still other studies with Mann. Rutherford et al. [2005] is cited, but footnote (13) fails to disclose their co-authorship.

Briffa is lead author on millennial reconstructions for the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, presently under review. Von Storch (see ) has queried the propriety and wisdom of IPCC using review authors who are engaged in controversy in the literature on a personal basis and end up reviewing their own work (as happened with Mann in IPCC TAR).

The IPCC has failed to ensure that the assessment reports, which shall review the existing published knowledge and knowledge claims, should have been prepared by scientists not significantly involved in the research themselves. Instead, the IPCC has chosen to invite scientists, who dominate the debate about the considered issues, to participate in the assessment. This was already in the Second Assessment Report a contested problem, and the IPCC would have done better in inviting other, considerably more independent scientists for this task. Instead, the IPCC has asked scientists like Professor Mann to review his own work. This does not represent an "independent" review.

Here we have another instance - this time with Briffa. The IPCC practice seems particularly unwise in this case, since the offering from Osborn and Briffa is weakly argued.

The O&B article vividly illustrates the weakness both of peer reviewing and editorial decision-making in the paleoclimate area at Science, the prominent journal presently reeling from the Hwang stem cell scandal. It highlights a failure to implement their own policies on data archiving and failures to verify claims in the article itself.

Data Archiving and Versions

On paper, Science has exemplary data archiving policies (see, which seem to require paleoclimate authors to provide an archive sufficient to replicate their results:

Science supports the efforts of databases that aggregate published data for the use of the scientific community. Therefore, before publication, large data sets . must be deposited in an approved database and an accession number provided for inclusion in the published paper.

In multiproxy paleoclimate studies, it is essential to archive the data as used even if the data appears to be in the public domain (since versions can vary), but this is not done here. This failure is exacerbated because O&B rely on 5 series from a study previously published in Science [Esper et al, 2002], where Science also failed to require data archiving, and on 1 proxy [Yang et al., 2002] which relies on 2 ice cores by L. Thompson also published in Science (Dunde, Guliya), on which no information was archived prior to my requests to another journal (Climatic Change). I have been trying for a considerable period of time to get Science to require these authors to archive the data from the earlier studies, but these efforts have so far proved unsuccessful. The difficulties of trying to track down "grey" versions are vividly illustrated just with reference to Science publications.

Yang et al. [2002] relied on a "grey" 50-year smoothed version of the Dunde and Guliya series. Unfortunately, these versions are dramatically inconsistent with the 10-year smoothed versions archived at my request last year (see In order to reconcile the versions, one needs to examine sample information, which Science has thus far been unable to obtain. Because of various problems with the Yang et al [2002] composite, Jones and Mann [2004] decided not to use it. It is rather a surprise, to say the least, to see it re-surface here in O&B.

The versions of the Esper series are also impossible to sort out. Esper et al [2002] did not provide an ITRDB identification for the Tyrol series; the identification number provided by O&B has data extending only to 1827 - which is inconsistent with Figure 2 and which would make validation of this series impossible. For the Quebec tree ring series (series 4), O&B cite Schweingruber (cana169) as a primary source for Esper et al [2002], while Esper et al [2002] acknowledge Payette and Ilion for data (who studied other sites). O&B say that the Quebec series ends in 1947, while the data in cana169 goes to 1989. There are many other similar problems.

Much of the underlying tree ring width measurements data is unarchived, affecting the following series: Yamal, Tornetrask, Taimyr, Icefields, Boreal, Upper Wright. Some of this information has been generated by the European Union "SOAP" project, financial support from which is acknowledged in the article. Osborn and Briffa head up this project. Civilians in the climate wars will undoubtedly be astonished to think that password security would be applied to tree ring data. However, this is the case (see ). Briffa has refused my requests for access to the password protected tree ring data.

Proxy Quality Control

O&B assert that they carried out quality control on the proxy records to ensure that each proxy was correlated to gridcell temperature. They singled out Soon and Baliunas [2003] for allegedly failing to carry out such quality control procedures, although the same criticism should equally be brought against Mann et al [1998] who not only used precipitation series as temperature proxies, but even used French precipitation series for American gridcells ("The rain in Maine falls mainly in the Seine"). One can only imagine the vituperation that would have issued had Soon and Baliunas committed a similar blunder, and we likewise wonder at how the supposed quality control procedures in place for Mann et al. [1998] failed to identify such an obvious blunder.

In McIntyre and McKitrick [2005a, 2005b], Ross McKitrick and I pointed out the extraordinary dependence of the MBH98 (and MBH99) reconstruction on bristlecones/foxtails and pointed out many reasons why world temperature history should not be based on their ring widths. It is astonishing, therefore, to see the bristlecone/foxtails dominating not just one, but two proxies in O&B. Since 4 proxies do not extend back to the MWP, they make up 2 of 10 in the MWP.

It is beyond astonishing that O&B series 1 uses the discredited MBH principal components methodology [see McIntyre and McKitrick, 2005a, 2005b and endorsements of this aspect of our criticism in von Storch and Zorita, 2005 and Huybers 2005]. Jones and Mann [2004] used the MBH98 principal components methodology, together with a curious and undocumented splice.........


Some sign of contact with reality showing at last

The Conservatives abandoned their traditional defence of the green belt yesterday and promised a programme of house building for first-time buyers. In a speech that ignored much of last year's election manifesto, George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, said that he would change the tax regime, planning system and supply of public housing to increase the number of affordable homes.

In 2005 the Tories said that they would oppose all of John Prescott's homebuilding plans in the South East and establish more green belts with even tighter planning regulations. Although popular with traditionalists, the policy was a turn-off for young families looking for affordable homes. In an attempt to revive the spirit of Margaret Thatcher's "homeowning democracy", Mr Osborne said that the party would help first-time buyers. "I want the modern Conservative Party to become again the champion of affordable and sustainable homeownership," he told a housing industry conference in South Wales. "I want us to look afresh at the planning system, and tackle the delays and obstruction that is damaging the the affordability of our housing." He said that only 37 per cent of households could afford to buy their own home today, compared with 46 per cent in the late 1980s.

The Conservatives would change the definition of a greenfield site in a review of the planning system. Local communities would be given a greater say in development, as long as they took proper account of the needs of homeowners of the future. Mr Osborne also promised a programme to rejuvenate the "decaying suburbs" of Britain. He stopped short of welcoming Mr Prescott's plans for thousands of new homes in the South East. Instead, he criticised the creation of top-down targets in Whitehall, saying that they were certain to provoke hostility in the communities designated for more housing.

More here


Two cases below of the burden Greenies place on city water supplies in Australia:

Pandering to Greenies costs NSW taxpayers a heap -- and all for nothing so far

The NSW government needs more water for Sydney's growing population but they are just thrashing about looking at different implausible alternatives rather than doing the obvious: build another dam. They were going to build a desalination plant but eventually faced how much it would cost to run so are now talking about bringing up underground water instead -- a modern version of the old village well!

The State Government will squander $120 million on its desalination plant debacle. It is yet another of Bob Carr's costly legacies for his embattled successor, Morris Iemma. The Iemma Government will outlay at least $10 million to compensate the two consortiums bidding to build the stalled desalination plant, part of $120 million it will still spend on the project even though it has been shelved indefinitely. This is the latest in a series of policy U-turns as the Premier, Morris Iemma, tries to grapple with the political legacy of his predecessor, Bob Carr. The spending on the plant will raise new questions about Labor's competence in managing the state, especially as the Government is now trying to find savings of at least $300 million in an audit of expenditure. "It's an F Troop exercise," said a member of one consortium, referring to the 1960s TV show about bungling US cavalrymen.

More here

Expanding Brisbane joins the "anything but a new dam" brigade

As if adding just 2% to the water supply were even worth talking about! It's just cowardice in the face of the Greenie hatred of dams

Southeast Queensland's water crisis has become so dire Brisbane City Council will spend up to $30 million going underground to find a new source. Eight locations in Brisbane's southern suburbs have been identified as sites of potential aquifers and will be drilled from next month. Liberal spokeswoman for water Jane Prentice yesterday admitted the region was now in a perilous situation and the council would invest millions in the aquifer project to ensure southeast Queensland residents had adequate drinking water in the future. "We're at a crisis point now," she said. "We've got about three weeks left of the wet season and we have to start looking at drought-proofing this city." Cr Prentice said the council would commit $5 million in the first phase of the aquifer project, which would involve drilling 40 product bore holes to determine whether the aquifers held a sustainable water supply.

If all eight council and state-government-owned sites - two each at Darra and Runcorn, and properties in Eight Mile Plains, Sunnybank, Calamvale and Algester - prove viable, the aquifers could supply southeast Queensland with an extra 20 million litres each day, or 2 per cent of the region's current water use. If the water was too polluted with minerals and other deposits, it could be used for irrigation or to supply industrial or commercial operations, like the Swanbank Power Station, she said.

Water and city business committee chairman John Campbell said it was impossible to determine whether the underground water could be used as drinking water at this stage. "There's variations of water quality in underground water, and we don't have enough information about the costs of treatment," he said. Cr Campbell said residents in affected areas would be consulted about the potential environmental impacts of the drilling, but he said it would not dry up nearby bores. The SEQWater regional plan also recommends council and the State Government investigate extracting water from the Oxley Creek aquifer at a cost of $7 million.

The Queensland aquifer project follows the NSW Government's decision to extract water from an untapped Sydney aquifer holding approximately 15 billion litres. More than 100 Australian towns and cities use groundwater supplies to add to their drinking supply, and Water Services Association of Australia executive director Ross Young said Perth relied on the resource for 40 per cent of its supply.

Southeast Queensland's dams were yesterday at 33.02 per cent capacity, with Lord Mayor Campbell Newman estimating the dams held enough water to supply the region for just two years. Other contingency plans include programs to reduce water pressure and detect pipe leakage, developing a new weir at Cedar Grove and a $250 million State Government pipeline to connect the Wivenhoe and Hinze dams.



The following report is from the official site for Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort in Whistler, BC Canada:

"As of 10am January 31, 2006, Whistler broke the record for the snowiest month the mountains have seen since weather data collection began 25 years ago. With 20 centimetres (8 inches) of snow in the past 24 hours, January's snowfall accumulation reached 469 centimetres (185 inches). The snowiest month previously was January 1992 at 459 centimetres (180.7 inches.)"


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 February, 2006


From Steve McIntyre, Climate Audit, 7 February 2006. It looks like the two Macs have come in from the cold -- thanks to U.S. government pressure on an otherwise hidebound scientific establishment

The National Research Council of the National Academies has empanelled a blue-chip committee to study "Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Past 1,000-2,000 Years". The chairman will be Gerald North. The request came from the House Science Committee - I presume that they are trying to assert possession over this piece of turf. 8-10 speakers are being requested to address the panel on March 2-3 with a reception on Thursday night. Mc-Mc have accepted an invitation to appear.

The reception should be interesting. I've played interclub squash leagues in Toronto for nearly 40 years and one of the things that I like about them is that you have drinks and dinner with your opponents. I've always thought that English traditions for sports in that respect were very civilized. When I played rugby in England (I played for Corpus Christi College at Oxford), you'd have beer afterwards with your opponents and exchange beers with the guy that tackled you the hardest. I think that I overlapped with Bill Clinton by one year, but don't recall meeting him. I guess Mann and I will have to swig down a few and maybe join in some rugby songs. Anyway here's the invitation:


Dear Dr. McKitrick and Mr. McIntyre,

The National Research Council of The National Academies of the United States is empanelling a committee to study "Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Past 1,000-2,000 Years". The committee will be asked to summarize the current scientific information on the temperature record over the past two millennia, describe the proxy records that have been used to reconstruct pre-instrumental climatic conditions, assess the methods employed to combine multiple proxy data over large spatial scales, evaluate the overall accuracy and precision of such reconstructions, and explain how central the debate over the paleoclimate temperature record is to the state of scientific knowledge on global climate change. I have attached the complete study proposal.

As you are intimately aware, this issue has been the subject of considerable debate. Hence, we have taken great care to assemble an unbiased panel of scientific experts with the appropriate range of expertise to produce an authoritative report on the subject. The committee slate will be formally announced tomorrow, but I can tell you that Jerry North (Texas A&M) will be chairing the committee, and NAS Members Mike Wallace, Karl Turekian, and Bob Dickinson will be on the panel, in addition to a half-dozen other scientists with expertise in statistics, climate variability, and several different types of paleoclimate proxy data.

The committee would like to invite you to come to Washington DC on Thursday, March 2nd to speak about your work in this area and to discuss your perspective on the issues noted above and in the study proposal. The committee will be familiar with the relevant peer-reviewed literature, but is also interested in any recently submitted or accepted papers. We will be inviting 8-10 other experts to speak; a complete agenda will be made available prior to the meeting, and the meeting will be open to the public. Speakers will be reimbursed for travel expenses and invited to stay for the entire open session of the meeting (which includes a reception on Thursday evening and will extend into Friday morning).

Thank you in advance for your time and interest, we view your participation in this meeting as critical so I hope that one or both of you are available and willing to meet with our committee. If neither of you are available on March 2nd (or the morning of March 3rd), as a worst case we could arrange for you to speak to the committee via teleconference. We are trying to finalize the meeting schedule by Friday so please let me know if there is a particularly convenient time that I could call you this week to discuss details and answer any questions you might have (or feel free to call me directly).

Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate
National Research Council of The National Academies


No mention of the environmental and other costs of producing the hydrogen, of course. This is an exercise in Greenie righteousness so cost does not matter. Ethanol-powered cars, by contrast, are here already, cost LESS to run than conventional cars and are more environmentally friendly both in producing the fuel and in running the car. How boring!

Several months ago at the Tokyo Motor Show, Honda introduced a wind cheating, earth friendly, fuel cell-powered concept called the FCX. Several weeks ago in Detroit at the NAIAS, Honda quietly announced that they would build a production vehicle based on the FCX concept. With the advancements they've made for this latest generation of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles, a production model will be ready within three to four years.

It will probably be available only to a small group of alternative fuel loyalists and devotees, and likely only in Japan or possibly California where Honda previously introduced the FCX-V4 of which a portion of 30 examples found their way into government fleets and at least one famiy, but the packaging solutions Honda has developed for hydrogen storage as well as their clever Home Energy Station, alleviating the need for widespread hydrogen refilling stations on the road, point the way around many of the obstacles, or detours, on the road to the hydrogen highway and zero-emission culture of the future.

Many of the advancements with the new FCX center around Honda's V Flow fuel cell platform. The cells are stacked vertically in the center tunnel and arranged in a vertebral layout (think of it as though the stacks are your backbones if you are lying on your back) for higher efficiency packaging as well as more efficient management of gas flow (from top to bottom). Another breakthrough was in the realm of storage, and with a newly developed higher absorption material in the tanks which allowed Honda to double storage capacity. The FCX can achieve a real-world driving range of over 500 km (350 miles).

More here


Post lifted from the Adam Smith blog

Air travel is often fingered by environmentalist lobbies for contributing a huge share towards pollution. Their solution is (of course) for us all to live more simply, to travel less, and to import less from distant countries. How are we to achieve this? By taxing it heavily so that it reverts to being, as it once was, the prerogative of the rich.

Tony Blair is having none of it. He told a Commons liaison committee that it was 'unrealistic' to think that taxation could achieve that in the UK. It would take what he called a "fairly hefty whack" for people to cut back on flights in the UK and abroad. He's right. Gordon Brown's stealth taxes on air travel have not stopped its increase, even though they are in some cases higher than the cost of the ticket itself.

The Prime Minister also realized, correctly, that it would be very difficult to sell the public on the idea. People like the choices and opportunities which low cost air travel brings, and don't want it shoved out of reach by the bean sprouts and sandals brigade. Tony Blair declared his opposition to such a move.

What he suggested instead as the way forward was a move towards more environmentally friendly aircraft and to invest in other new technology. Mr Blair said that increased investment in new and alternative environmentally-friendly technologies could yield the emissions savings fairly quickly. Again, he sings with the angels. The combination of wealth plus technology achieves things more readily than exhortations and restrictions.

Of course the NGOs have slammed into him for this heresy. What's the point of this new technology if it doesn't make us change the way we live? If all it does is enable us to do what we want to do instead of what THEY want us to do, they think it valueless, or worse still, counter-productive.


Before I unveil my plan for energy independence, let me explain what's wrong with everyone else's. The problem with Americans is not that we're addicted to oil. As soon as oil becomes more trouble than it's worth, we will sensibly stop putting it in our cars. Until then, our problem is that we're addicted to politicians with plans for energy independence, like the Advanced Energy Initiative introduced by President Bush in his budget yesterday.

What exactly is so wrong with burning oil? The best argument is that it contributes to global warming. But so does burning coal and other fossil fuels. The fairest and most efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would be with a carbon tax on all fossil fuels. But the advocates for energy independence want to do more than just regulate emissions. Since Jimmy Carter put on his cardigan sweater and declared saving energy "the moral equivalent of war," politicians determined to wean us from imported oil have been hectoring us with bogus arguments:

The well is running dry. Government planners have a long history of overestimating the future cost of oil and underestimating the cost of their pet alternatives - which is why we keep burning oil. The government should finance basic research, not pick winners and losers. If there's a better alternative to oil in the near future, don't expect it to be glimpsed by the politicians now doling out subsidies to energy corporations and the corn farmers who vote in the Iowa caucuses.

America needs insurance against "oil shocks." Insurance doesn't make sense if the premiums cost more than the disaster. Mandating fuel-economy standards saved gasoline and made Americans a little less vulnerable to a spike in oil prices, but the rules led to smaller cars and an additional 2,000 deaths per year in highway accidents from the mid-1970's to the mid-1990's, according to the National Research Council.

Storing oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve was supposed to moderate the economic damage of price spikes, but there's little evidence that it's ever made any appreciable difference, according to a Cato Institute study by Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren. They calculate that the reserve has cost taxpayers more per barrel than the oil itself has ever been worth - even in years when the average price of oil was high, as in 1991 or last year.

We must take away the Middle East's "oil weapon." The only real oil weapon is the one that American politicians use to justify energy plans and Middle East adventures. It doesn't matter if our enemies in the Persian Gulf refuse to sell us oil directly. Once they sell it to anyone, it's in the global market and effectively available to us. The only way to hurt us would be to refuse to sell to anyone, but Middle Eastern countries are far more dependent on oil than we are: their oil revenues constitute a much bigger percentage of their income than their oil represents as a fraction of our imports.

If Osama bin Laden took over Saudi Arabia, why would he want to risk a popular uprising from citizens suddenly cut off from their accustomed cut of the national income? Selling oil makes sense, as bin Laden himself acknowledged when he said in an interview in 1996, "We are not going to drink it."

The United States spent decades propping up the shah of Iran only to see the country fall into the hands of our archenemies, but Iran is still exporting oil - and it is a lot more reliable producer than Iraq, despite all the money and lives we've spent there. The best guarantee of future oil supplies is the sellers' greed, not our diplomatic and military efforts.

When something finally comes along that's cheaper and more reliable than oil, no national energy plan will be necessary. Capitalists will be ready to sell it to eager American drivers. For now, the best strategy is to buy gasoline and stop worrying that it's sinful or dangerous.

When you hear politicians calling you an addict and warning that you'll be cut off, try my plan for energy independence. It's modeled on the Daily Affirmation of Stuart Smalley, that recovering addict and devotee of 12-step programs (whose creator on "Saturday Night Live," Al Franken, will probably be horrified). After you fill up your tank, twist the rear-view mirror so you can gaze at yourself. Repeat these words: "I'm good enough, I'm rich enough, and doggone it, people in the Middle East like my money."



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 February, 2006


A "Bear's Lair" column by Martin Hutchinson, normally published by UPI but not apparently online other than here as yet. It includes a good comment on the potential for ethanol as an alternative to petroleum products:

About the only bipartisan cheers in President George W. Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday came with his claim that the United States was "addicted to oil" and the inevitable proposals thereafter for various state subsidies to new energy research. Yet neither the diagnosis nor the proposed cure make sense, since they bear little relation to the realities of the market.

According to the American Heritage dictionary, addiction is defined as a compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance. By this definition, the United States is not addicted to cheap oil, any more than it is addicted to water or soybeans; the substance is essential to keep the economy moving, but if an alternative were found the U.S. public would be only too glad to switch to it. The principal U.S. economic addiction is to cheap credit, an addiction fueled by the enablers of the Federal Reserve, but Bush proposed no significant remedies for THAT ailment. In considering the problem of oil however, the underlying easy money, negative-savings-rate, Federal budget deficit environment is a big part of the problem; since Americans consume far too much in general, they will consume too much oil.

The U.S. economy is not addicted to oil. The majority of affluent or comfortably off U.S. consumers have developed a lifestyle that requires a huge amount of private transportation, which in the present state of technology involves burning a lot of petroleum. Choices have been made, notably the suburbanization of U.S. cities that began even before World War I (construction began on the Bronx River Parkway, the world's first automobile divided limited access highway, as early as 1907 and the first section was opened in 1912.)

If cities remain compact, with development proceeding by means of apartments along major arteries, the primary means of transportation can remain bus and rail, as in Paris. With suburbanization, this becomes impossible because the size and cost of a rail or bus network of any given density expands as the square of its radius. Thus a radial subway or rail network that extends 20 miles from a city center has gaps in it, where the network is too far from much of the housing stock, and accessible only after a lengthy bus ride (generally making the total commuting time impossibly long) or with an automobile commute to the station. At that point, the automobile becomes essential, and whining about oil "addiction" becomes equivalent to whining about the public's incessant demand for food and drink.

Complaining about the U.S. addiction to oil is largely a cultural statement, akin to warning of global warming, by which the speaker's credibility at leftist metropolitan cocktail parties can be assured. It is backed wholeheartedly by the global media, most of whom reside in city centers, use automobiles only sparingly and refer to suburbanites among themselves as "bridge" or "beyond the Beltway" people. It is notable that oil company profits, most of which accrue to shareholders, are regarded with much more horror by the media than tech sector profits, much of which are embezzled in one way or another by that sector's overpaid management.

This anti-oil snobbery has over the years had damaging effects on the U.S. economy. It was responsible for the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards of the 1980s, which forcibly downsized U.S. automobiles through regulatory fiat, left the automobile market vulnerable to imports, and resulted in the invention of the immensely ugly and slightly dangerous Sport Utility Vehicle, which was through regulatory quirk exempt from the controls. The financial decline of Detroit was a direct result of CAFE; which placed the U.S. industry at a disadvantage to imports for decades because its fleet mix was affected more harshly by CAFE standards.

Conversely, anti-oil snobbery has perversely prevented the United States from taxing petroleum products at levels comparable to other countries. The unholy glee of the chattering classes in their attempts to make it more difficult for the non-urban to drive large cars and commute to work was noticed by the voters, who correctly took the view that more than financial motivations were involved. Thus increased gas taxes have always been deeply unpopular - far more so than their equivalent in general sales or other taxes.

Bush's State of the Union address was clearly written for cocktail party consumption, rather than as a rational contribution to policy. State funded "research" at which money had already been thrown in large quantities by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was further increased by 22 percent. No major advance has ever resulted from state funded research in the energy sector but hey, there's always a first time! Bush also announced the Administration's goal of reducing U.S. oil imports from the Middle East by 75 percent by 2025 -- at current 21st Century rates of progress that's 10 major terrorist attacks, 8 invasions, 6 nuclear weapon panics and 3 oil supply crises from now, but the thought's a good one.

Notably absent from the speech were references to Canadian tar sands, Colorado oil shale and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, all of which can be expected to make important contributions to U.S. oil self-sufficiency if allowed to do so by Congress and the environmentalists. Opposition to ANWR drilling, in particular, is a sign that the conversation has degenerated to the cocktail party level; when opponents of ANWR tell you that ANWR oil would supply U.S. oil needs for only 13 months, they omit to point out that a more likely usage pattern is to get 5 percent of U.S. needs for the next two decades, a much more strategically attractive prospect.

Even more than by their refusal to drill in ANWR, the economic un-seriousness of the U.S. political class is demonstrated by their pretence that ethanol, the favored alternative to petrol, must come from corn, wood stalks, soybeans or some other crop grown safely within the United States, preferably in the key Presidential caucus state of Iowa, and therefore to be subsidized in return for campaign contributions. No mention was made of the sugar-cane derived ethanol program in Brazil which supplies 40 percent of Brazil's vehicle fuel, at a price less than half that of gasoline, compared to the price of corn-grown ethanol that is only just competitive with gasoline at today's price of nearly $70 a barrel.

The United States could reduce dependency on the Middle East by importing sugar-cane derived ethanol and save money doing so, even after deducting the cost of retrofitting car engines. Sugar cane is grown in hot, wet tropical countries, not in Iowa (except at exorbitant cost) but there are a whole host of such countries available, in the Caribbean and the northern reaches of South America, only one of which, Venezuela is a significant oil exporter -- in some cases, such as Haiti, the United States is committed to propping the place up anyway.

Ethanol burning in automobiles is even held by environments to be helpful as regards global warming - the rationale is that although ethanol, like gasoline, is a hydrocarbon the burning of which releases carbon dioxide, growing the sugar-cane involves the absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and so the loop is closed. This is typical cocktail party arithmetic; it involves assuming that the land where the sugar-cane grows would otherwise be an arid wasteland devoid of plant life. However, if we can avoid environmentalists passing fatuous treaties hindering a partial switch to sugar-cane ethanol, a useful solution to the U.S. energy supply problem, let's not nitpick their logic.

The strategic problem with oil is not that it has to be imported, but that it has to be imported from a relatively small group of countries, most of which are both corrupt and intrinsically somewhat hostile to the United States. Since oil production requires a large concentration of capital equipment, under extraction agreements with the host government, oil revenues tend to produce massive corruption of government officials, wasteful prestige projects and arms buildup rather than genuine economic development. Sugar-cane, on the other hand, is intrinsically a private sector crop, requires only modest capital investment and is fairly labor intensive even with modern cutting technology. Hence growth in the sugar-cane sector is likely to help development and facilitate the growth of a stable middle class in countries of the Caribbean, Central America and northern South America for which the United States has always taken a fatherly interest.

There's a reason for the absence of sugar-cane from Bush's speech: the demands of domestic U.S. politics. Sugar-cane growers in the Caribbean and South America are unlikely to provide significant campaign contributions, so are not a favored class. Indeed, sugar imports to the United States are currently regulated by the "Global Refined Tariff Rate Sugar" program, which prevents significant competition to coddled domestic sugar producers. Needless to say, domestic sugar producers ARE major campaign contributors, particularly in the key state of Florida.

"New Energy" technologies offer significant promise of replacing part of our oil consumption, and indeed must do so if we are not to suffer increasing scarcities, higher prices and eventually a shortage of this essential fuel. Nuclear energy and clean coal are important parts of the answer, but for wholesale power generation not transport. Fuel cell technology is promising, but the gasoline consumption figures of the "hybrid" Toyota Prius and its competitors appear to bear little relation in practice to those achievable in theory. Wind power is very ugly and intrinsically limited in scope, while solar power suffers from the problem that photovoltaic cells tend to overheat - hence the largest solar array in 2005 was in Leipzig, Germany, not generally thought of as a sun-seeker's paradise. Conservation can also help, but is most effectively encouraged by the European method of high taxes on gasoline rather than by command and control edicts from politicians.

The New Energy sector is not short of private funding; its "cocktail party" popularity and the pressure of the Kyoto climate change agreement has produced an ever increasing devotion of resources to research, and a huge boom in speculative investment in the last couple of years. Private equity investments alone in the New Energy sector (excluding investments by existing corporations or government or fund-raising by publicly listed companies) totaled more than $1.6 billion in over 150 transactions in 2005, double the level of the previous year.

As always with such explosive growth, much of the development in the sector is ill thought through. Indeed the popularity of the sector appears to be producing yet another bubble, and has undoubtedly attracted many sharp operators and indeed outright crooks. A boom/bust cycle appears to be inevitable, which is a pity because it could set back genuine progress in the field for a decade.

Price signals from the market and the "cocktail party" credibility of New Energy will produce oil-replacing developments at a rapid pace provided government does not impede the progress. More important than "New Energy" itself, existing technology, both to extract oil reserves from Canada and Alaska and to produce ethanol economically from sugar cane, offers most if not all the additional energy sources we need to avoid over-dependence on the unstable Middle East. Only politics can cause a crisis but as usual, politics appears to be driving government firmly in the direction of obstruction, waste and economic illiteracy.


"Nature", that famous global-warming propaganda rag, recently put out a paper under the title Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming. The poor reasoning of the paper was pointed out almost immediately and it is now clear what a load of codswallop the paper was. As we see from the report below:

"An outbreak of an infectious disease called chytridiomycosis, attributed to the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, has infected and caused rapid die-offs in eight families of Panamanian amphibians, scientists report in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). A survey of amphibian populations in central Panama has uncovered a case of chytridiomycosis that is rapidly radiating outward from western Panama into the El Cope region, spreading from northwest to southeast from Costa Rica toward Colombia. "Chytridiomycosis is an alarming model system for disease-driven extinction of a high proportion of an entire class of vertebrates," the scientists write in PNAS. "It is no longer correct to speak of global amphibian declines, but more appropriately of global amphibian extinctions."

The fungus has been implicated in the decline of more than 40 amphibian species in Central America and 93 such species worldwide. But few researchers have been able to detect and monitor the presence of the fungus before a disease outbreak, and then witness the impact of an epidemic as it occurred, said zoologist Karen Lips of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, lead author of the report. "We anticipated the eastward movement of the fungus, and chose a fungus-free study site near a previously infected area," she said. "Indeed, the fungus found its way there, and when it did, it quickly caused local amphibian extinctions and devastated frog and salamander biodiversity."

Pathogens, or disease-causing microbes, "rarely cause extinctions in the species they infect," said James Collins, assistant director of biological sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Collins is on leave from Arizona State University, and is a co-author of the paper. "There are only a few examples where we think a pathogen resulted in extinction of a species in an area. This is one of them."

The rockhopper frog, for example, which lived along El Cope riverbanks, disappeared completely within one month. Chytridiomycosis wasn't detected at the El Cope study site, said Collins, until Sept. 23, 2004, when scientists found the first infected frog. From then through mid-Jan. 2005, the fungus went on a rampage, killing so many frogs within 4 months that amphibian abundance was reduced by more than 50 percent. Dead frogs included individuals in 38 species (57 percent of the amphibian species at the site). All but three of the dead amphibians were infected with chytridiomycosis, and six of seven samples from substrates like stream boulders tested positive for the fungus, the researchers report. "None of the 1,566 individuals of 59 amphibian species sampled before Sept. 2004, was infected with this fungus," said Lips. "Our results demonstrate that the prevalence of the fungus very rapidly went from zero to high at this site." The timing of the outbreak, said Collins, "indicates that chytridiomycosis is rapidly moving southeastward, allowing us to predict its entry into amphibian communities in central Panama."

When the disease emerges at a site, it is thought to spread through a combination of frog-to-frog and environment-to-frog transmission. In the lab, some species of amphibians can carry the infection for up to 220 days before dying. The die-off at El Cope occurred during the peak of the rainy season. Many mountain-dwelling frogs in the New World tropics make their way to water bodies to breed during the region's prolonged rainy season, thereby transmitting the waterborne fungus. "Our findings definitively link the appearance of chytridiomycosis to amphibian population declines," said Lips. The area had no evidence of climate anomalies in 2004; its temperature and rainfall patterns were similar to those found in long-term records. "These results support a model of amphibian declines in which this fungus enters and quickly spreads through a community with no previously infected individuals," Lips said. The researchers predict the loss of many more amphibian species from the region, most likely from mountainous areas directly east of the study site."



Excerpt from here:

While today's balance between the icecaps and global sea level has been relatively steady since about 1000 B.C., it would be careless to assume that this is the Earth's natural state and that it should always be this way. What could happen to climate naturally in the next few thousand years? If the Earth continued to warm and break from ice age conditions, some of the remaining ice caps could melt. On the other hand, climate might swing back into another ice age. (In fact, some of the environmentalists now worried about global warming were worried about another ice age in the 1960s and 1970s.)

In either case, such a change in climate would take thousands of years to accomplish. Note that it has taken 18,000 years to melt 60% of the ice from the last ice age. The remaining ice is almost entirely at the north and south poles and is isolated from warmer weather. To melt the ice of Greenland and Antarctica would take thousands of years under any realistic change in climate. In the case of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which accounts for 80% of the Earth's current ice, Sudgen argues that it existed for 14,000,000 years, through wide ranges in global climate. The IPCC 2001 report states "Thresholds for disintegration of the East Antarctic ice sheet by surface melting involve warmings above 20ø C... In that case, the ice sheet would decay over a period of at least 10,000 years." [31] The IPCC is the United Nations' scientific committee on climate change; its members tend to be the minority that predicts global warming and its statements tend to be exaggerated by administrators before release. Given that the IPCC tends to exaggerate the potential for sea level rise, it is clear that no scientists on either side of the scientific debate on global warming fear the melting of the bulk of Antarctica's ice. Consider also this abstract of an article by Jacobs contrasting scientific and popular understanding:

A common public perception is that global warming will accelerate the melting of polar ice sheets, causing sea level to rise. A common scientific position is that the volume of grounded Antarctic ice is slowly growing, and will damp future sea-level rise. At present, studies supporting recent shrinkage or growth depend on limited measurements that are subject to high temporal and regional variability, and it is too early to say how the Antarctic ice sheet will behave in a warmer world. [32]

This statement alludes to the significant point that the Antarctic ice cap appears to currently be growing rather than shrinking. In fact, were the climate to warm significantly in the next few centuries (not a certain future, but supposing it happened), current models suggest that Antarctica would gain ice, with increased snowfall more than offsetting increased melting.

How much concern should we have about the 20% of world ice outside the East Antarctic Ice Sheet? Some sources have recently discussed the "possible collapse" of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS). It is suggested that this sheet (about 10% of Antarctic ice) could melt in the "near term" (a usefully vague phrase) and raise sea level 5 to 6 meters. Current understanding is that the WAIS has been melting for the last 10,000 years, and that its current behavior is a function of past, not current climate. [23] The abstract of an article by Alley and Whillans addresses this:

The portion of the West Antarctic ice sheet that flows into the Ross Sea is thinning in some places and thickening in others. These changes are not caused by any current climatic change, but by the combination of a delayed response to the end of the last global glacial cycle and an internal instability. The near-future impact of the ice sheet on global sea level is largely due to processes internal to the movement of the ice sheet, and not so much to the threat of a possible greenhouse warming. Thus the near-term future of the ice sheet is already determined. However, too little of the ice sheet has been surveyed to predict its overall future behavior. [34]

Similarly, recent stories have periodically appeared concerning the potential receding of the Greenland ice cap. Two points may be made regarding current understanding here. First, there is considerable disagreement as to the current rate of net ice cap loss--or even if there is net loss versus net gain. Second, even with temperature increases far greater than the dubious predictions of the IPCC, models indicate that Greenland's ice cap would take 2,000 to 10,000 years to disappear.

Some discussion of the concerns about near term sea level rise may be found in Facts and figures on sea level rise. The predictions that have been made for ice cap melting in the next century rely mostly on melting of glaciers in mountain regions, not melting of the polar ice caps. Even the pessimistic models cited by the IPCC tend to predict an increase in the volume of the Antarctic ice cap with warmer temperatures due to increased snowfalls. In general temperature changes of a few degrees do not seem to be sufficient to begin to melt the polar ice caps, particularly the Antarctic ice cap.....

The article goes on to show what would happen if all the polar ice DID melt:

Today the Earth has 148 million sq. km of land area, of which 16 million sq. km is covered by glaciers. A sea level rise of 66 meters would flood about 13 million sq. km of land outside Antarctica. Without polar ice, Antarctica and Greenland would be ice free, although about half of Antarctica would be under water. Thus, ice-free land would be 128 million sq. km compared to 132 million sq. km today.

As a result, in terms of total habitable land area, the Earth might have more than today. The coastal areas reclaimed by the sea would be mostly offset by now habitable areas of Greenland and Antarctica. Again, remember that such climate change would take thousands of years. Over such time scales vegetation would be restored to newly ice-free regions even without human activity. Also, vast areas which are now desert and tundra would become more fit for human habitation and agriculture.

The illustrations above do not depict any changes in vegetation. In reality, local climates would be very different in ways that are currently difficult to predict. It might be that the warmer climate would lead to generally greater precipitation (this is suggested by comparison to the last ice age, when cooler temperatures caused expansion of the Sahara). Unfortunately, current models are not reliable enough to give a confident answer.

So why wouldn't people drown? Again, a change in the Earth this dramatic would take thousands of years to effect from any realistic cause. Over generations people would migrate as the coasts changed. Consider that virtually all of the settlements in the United States were established only in last 350 years. Of course, many settlements inhabited for thousands of years would have to be abandoned to the ocean--just as many would have to be abandoned if ice age conditions returned and covered vast areas with ice sheets. But people can comfortably adjust where they live over periods of decades, far shorter than the thousands of years needed for these climate changes to naturally take place. Also, that's if they occur, and we have no evidence to indicate what would happen to climate over the next few thousand years.


I cannot resist reproducing one of John Daly's graphs of the historical temperature record at the Eureka station on Baffin Island in the Canadian arctic.

You see what happens when there is no urban heat island effect and when you use thermometers to measure temperature rather than tales from Eskimos.


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 February, 2006


Low solar activity could trigger a global freeze in the middle of the 21st century, a Russian astronomer said Monday. Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Pulkovo Astronomic Observatory said temperatures would begin falling six or seven years from now, when global warming caused by increased solar activity in the 20th century reached its peak, and that the coldest period would occur 15-20 years after a major solar output decline in 2035-2045. Abdusamatov said dramatic changes in the earth's surface temperatures were an ordinary phenomenon, not an anomaly, and resulted from variations in the Sun's energy output and ultraviolet radiation. The Northern Hemisphere's most recent cool-down period of 1645-1705, known as the Little Ice Age, left canals in Holland frozen solid and forced people in Greenland to abandon their houses to glaciers, the scientist said.



Electricity generators have warned that placing an even greater burden on the sector to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, under a forthcoming official plan, will threaten Britain's already struggling power network. Power stations and other heavy users of energy fear that they will again be seen as a "soft touch" for a government desperate to meet its ambitious target of a 20 per cent cut in UK carbon dioxide emissions by 2010. Electricity producers believe it will be very difficult to reconcile the need for billions of pounds of new investment in power stations, to make up for a rapidly approaching shortfall in Britain's ageing generating capacity, with having to also shoulder almost the entire country's effort in cutting emissions of carbon dioxide.

David Porter, chief executive of the Association of Electricity Producers, said: "Companies want to invest in new, clean power plant, but it must be recognised that their choice of technology is affected not just by fuel prices, but by carbon costs, too. That could affect the extent of diversity in the UK's generating industry." Separately, the CBI said the 20 per cent figure simply could not be achieved and the Government must set different targets. Matthew Farrow, head of environment policy at the CBI, said that there were "diminishing returns" attainable from ever-greater demands of emissions cuts from heavy industry. He said that households and other parts of the economy needed to share the burden. "Government needs to understand that targets are not something that businesses can achieve by themselves, but that is the only lever they seem to have," Mr Farrow said. He said that there was a series of relatively low-cost measures aimed at the consumer that could be used. For instance, he suggested that stamp duty payable on buying energy-efficient homes could be reduced.

The Government admits that the 20 per cent emissions cut figure, which has featured in the last three Labour election manifestos, will be tough to meet. However, a plan of action, called the Climate Change Review Programme, has been repeatedly delayed amid reports that the Department of Trade and Industry wants to ditch the goal. The DTI apparently has the support of the Prime Minister, who is fearful that it would harm British industry.

Britain's obligations under the Kyoto protocol only require a 10 per cent reduction by 2010, so an aim to double that figure would place restrictions on British business that key competitors do not have. However, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is said to be determined to stick by the 20 per cent figure. A spokesman said the Climate Change Review Programme would be published "shortly". The Government must also publish its next proposed "National Allocation Plan" before the summer. This would become the UK's submission to the European Commission for the country's permitted carbon emissions, for the period from 2008 to 2012.

According to Defra's figures, under the last National Allocation Plan, which covered the period from 2005 to the end of 2007, power stations had to cut 21.5 per cent of their historic emissions. All the other sectors covered by the scheme - except food, drink and tobacco - were actually allowed to raise their emissions over that time. As electricity generators do not export, analysts said the Government believes it can hit them without hurting British competitiveness.

Mr Porter said: "The brunt of the emissions cuts in Phase 1 was borne by the electricity generating sector. Eventually, that burden will have to be spread, or it will be impossible to meet government targets. But I have an uncomfortable feeling that we might be singled out for a hefty cut in emissions reduction when the next allocation plan emerges."

The Independent, 6 February 2006


Making Sense of Chemical Stories is a welcome corrective to the abundance of misinformation about chemicals. Chemicals are often presented as substances that are harmful to our health and the environment and should be avoided. But the idea of a chemical-free existence is absurd: the world is full of chemicals, both natural and manufactured, and we could not exist without them.

Today, it is especially the 'man-made', 'synthetic' or 'industrial' chemicals that we are encouraged to avoid. 'But how do we explain the fact that we are living longer and healthier lives?' asked Andrew Cockburn, director of Toxico-Logical Consulting Ltd, at the launch of the Sense about Science report. In the UK in 1840 the average life expectancy was only 40 years of age; today it is nearer to 80. 'That makes us the healthiest hypochondriacs that ever existed', said Cockburn.

In the late nineteenth century the population was indeed exposed to a number of hazardous chemicals. In 1871 the Royal Sanitary Commission noted that the water in Bradford Canal was so contaminated that a dropped lamp could set it alight. Chemicals used in hat-making gave off mercury vapour, causing muscle tremors, distorted vision and slurred speech. Hence the origin of the phrase 'mad as a hatter'. This chemical, and many more, are now carefully regulated, allowing us to live better and healthier lives.

But that does not stop some people from fretting. Not many of them end up as red faced as the Californian city councillors who in 2004 took steps to protect the public from the 'potentially deadly' chemical, dihydrogen monoxide. A hoax website had warned that this 'odourless, tasteless chemical' kills thousands of people every year, mainly through accidental inhalation. The website pointed out that dihydrogen monoxide causes severe burns in its gaseous state and severe tissue damage through prolonged exposure in its solid state. City officials considered banning foam cups after they learned the chemical was used in their production. But dihydrogen monoxide is, of course, H2O; in other words, water.

The chemical terms for certain substances may sound ominous. The research scientist Derek Lohmann asks: 'If someone came into your house and offered you a cocktail of butanol, iso amyl alcohol, hexanol, phenyl ethanol, tannin, benzyl alcohol, caffeine, geraniol, quercetin, 3-galloyl epicatchin, 3-galloyl epigallocatchin and inorganic salts, would you take it?' Maybe not. But if they offered you a cup of tea - a chemical mixture containing the above chemicals - you may not be as reticent.

Making Sense of Chemical Stories has shed some much-needed light on a murky debate. It clearly spells out that whether a substance is manufactured by people, copied from nature or extracted directly from nature, tells us nothing about whether it is 'good' or 'bad' for us. The old rule that it is the dose that makes the poison still holds: everything is potentially poisonous, depending on the quantity. Rather than fear synthetic chemicals we should recognise that flame-retardants, cleaners, disinfectants, anti-bacterials and DDT have helped to save millions of lives and improved the quality of life for many more.

More here


The Common Agricultural Policy is classically criticised for producing too much food at too high prices and for undermining cheaper Third World producers by dumping the remainder on world markets. America is not much better. The Doha Round is in limbo because the EU has told the rest of the world that it must offer juicy trade advantages if reforms in the CAP or EU tariffs are to go beyond the restructuring of subsidies.

In a few years, however, agriculture in Europe could be transformed, virtually abandoning many commodity food crops. Instead of being our nations’ larders, the fields could become giant intensive fuel factories. Fuel crops, in this vision, will become the most practical way to use solar energy, turning the sun’s rays into a few standard forms of vegetable matter to power vehicles and generate electricity in less environmentally objectionable thermal power stations.

The latest “vision” comes from President Bush. He used his annual State of the Union address to tout a new energy policy that would free America from the chains of dependence on Middle East oil. He backed all the usual things: nuclear power, solar cells, wind farms, hydrogen, petrol-electric vehicles and fuel efficiency. But his focus was on something called “cellulosic” ethanol, a patented process developed in Canada that aims to turn prairie grasses, corn straw and wood chips into an ethanol alternative to petrol in cars, vans and lorries. Vehicle fuel accounts for nearly half America’s oil use.

Ethanol is certainly a practical fuel. Brazil makes enough from sugar cane to deliver more than half the power for the cars on its roads, though it took a long time and massive interference with markets. Ethanol production is not without problems. In America it comes from ears of corn and takes nearly as much energy to convert as it delivers. The new process uses enzymes to break down tougher material, such as the heavy corn stalks.

In Europe cellulosic ethanol would not be the obvious choice for renewable vehicle fuel. To reduce our dependence on fossil energy and the associated extra carbon dioxide emissions, it would make more sense to use biomass to generate electricity, while rebuilding nuclear power capacity. But these alternative ways of generating electricity do not really help on fuel for vehicles. Here biodiesel, which uses vegetable oil crops such as that yellow-flowered colza, is at present several times more efficient at turning produce into car miles. It is even more practical if the rest of the plant is burnt for electricity or used as fertiliser. Burning straw is claimed to emit no more harmful gases than letting it rot.

All such projections presuppose, however, that President Bush’s dash for freedom and Europe’s focus on cutting carbon emissions are serious. The sheer self-indulgence of the UK’s 2001 Energy White Paper and the history of US drives for self-sufficiency suggest that they may just be fancies that will quickly pass if and when oil and gas prices subside. President Bush’s call for action echoes similar initiatives by Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, the first George Bush and Bill Clinton at times of high oil prices or Middle East conflict. None of them came to much once oil prices fell back or tension eased. Only the pet technologies have changed.

Unless cellulosic ethanol turns out to be much cheaper than its rivals, which would be surprising, none of these alternative vehicle fuels is economical unless oil prices remain historically high. They are the equivalent of the Canadian tar sands, whose development is occasionally considered and then shelved again. Vegetable fuels are a better proposition in countries such as Britain, where petrol is heavily taxed and a bit of biodiesel can readily be slipped into the mix. But it will take over only in the unlikely case that the Treasury is prepared to give up the best part of £25 billion a year in revenue for the sake of environmental improvement, the balance of payments or national security.

In America high prices have proved the only reliable method of cutting oil imports. High fuel costs reduce demand, for instance, by persuading people to use more economical cars, and stimulate investment in domestic production, which is still huge but in worldwide decline. US oil imports halved after the 1979-81 oil price boom, but not for long.

If President Bush and his successors want to go beyond rhetoric and funds for special interests, they would have to persuade Americans that fuel will not get any cheaper. To give investors the confidence to put capital into ethanol on a massive scale, they would have to know that oil taxes would rise pro rata with any fall in refined oil prices. Mr Bush has failed to offer this assurance.



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 February, 2006


National Grid has added a small charge on all of their heating customers’ bills for January because the company didn’t deliver as much energy as it expected to. How does the company decide when it needs to add the surcharge to bills? If the temperature is two degrees higher than the 30-year average during the months of October through May, customers will have to pay the surcharge.

If it’s two degrees lower than the average, you get a credit on your bill. The last time customers saw a credit was in December. In fact, National Grid has issued seven credits in the past two years. But in that same time period, they’ve added surcharges to your bill 11 times. A National Grid spokesman says it is all part of the way they do business. They have setup this mechanism because the cost of their utility almost solely depends on the weather.

More here


My attention obviously wandered while doing the post above. The story refers to N.E. USA, not California. I guess I hear so much about energy craziness in CA that I assumed it had to be from there!


.... But one statistic offered last week by a top Chinese environmental official should stimulate genuine alarm inside and outside China. The official, Zhang Lijun, warned that pollution levels here could more than quadruple within 15 years if the country does not curb its rapid growth in energy consumption. China, it seems, has reached a tipping point familiar to many developed countries, including the United States, that have raced headlong after economic development only to look up suddenly and see the environmental carnage. The difference with China, as is so often the case, is that the potential problems are much bigger, have happened much faster and could pose greater concerns for the entire world. "I don't think it will jump four or five times," Robert Watson, a senior scientist with the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council, said of the pollution prediction by Zhang. "But it could double or triple without too much trouble. And that's a scary thought, given how bad things are now."

China is already the world's second-biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions and is expected to surpass the United States as the biggest. Roughly a third of China is exposed to acid rain. A recent study by a Chinese research institute found that 400,000 people die prematurely every year in China from diseases linked to air pollution. Nor does China's air pollution respect borders: On certain days almost 25 percent of the particulate matter clotting the skies above Los Angeles can be traced to China, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. Environmental experts in California predict that China could eventually account for roughly a third of the state's air pollution.

The air problem could become a major embarrassment if, as some experts believe, Beijing does not meet its environmental targets for 2008, when the Olympic Games will be played here. For the Chinese government, the question is how to change a booming economy without crippling it. President Hu Jintao has made "sustainable development" a centerpiece of his effort to shift the country from unbridled growth to a more efficient economy. Hu and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao have repeatedly mentioned environmental protection in speeches.

The political attention comes as environmental problems are begetting social and economic problems. Violent riots have erupted in the countryside over contaminated water, stunted crops and mounting health woes. In a handful of villages, farmers have stormed chemical factories to stop the dumping of filthy water. Roughly 70 percent of China's rivers and lakes are polluted. In cities, people drink bottled water; in the countryside, most people are too poor to pay for bottled water, so they boil polluted water or simply drink it untreated.

Public anger is also rising in cities. In some, air pollution is so thick that on the worst days doctors advise, impractically, against going outside. Last week, hundreds of people living in the outskirts of Beijing protested plans for a factory that they fear would inundate the neighborhood with pollution. The severity of the situation has created an opening for environmentalists in and out of the government. Environmentalism is a chic issue at universities. Students participate in garbage cleanups and join the growing number of nongovernmental organizations focused on pollution. The once-meek State Environmental Protection Administration, or SEPA, has become more aggressive in identifying and going after polluters and calling for reforms.

But the political and practical obstacles are formidable. Car ownership has become part of the Chinese middle-class dream, and the car industry has become a major contributor to tax coffers and a force in the overall economy.

Industrial pollution is difficult to control because local officials often ignore emissions standards to appease polluting factories that pay local taxes. The SEPA has closed factories, only to see them reopen weeks later. To make a serious reduction in air pollution, experts say, tougher, enforceable standards are needed, and many factories would need new pollution control equipment. "There has to be the political will," said Steve Page, director of the U.S. EPA office of air quality planning and standards. "The challenge they face is how will these plants be lined up and told this will happen?"

Politically, the Communist Party has based its legitimacy on delivering economic growth and understands that the boom cannot be taken for granted: high growth is needed simply to keep unemployment in check, and top leaders fear that a slowdown could lead to social instability. Local officials are promoted, foremost, for delivering economic growth. This is why environmental officials have pushed for a new "green GDP," which would alter how China's gross domestic product is calculated to reflect losses inflicted by environmental degradation. The party is suspicious of environmental groups because of the role similar groups played in promoting grass-roots democracy in the "color" revolutions of central Asia. Human Rights Watch reported that some environmentalists were recently arrested in China.

But if there is resistance, there is progress, too. A law taking effect next year will require that China produce 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Fuel efficiency standards for new cars are already stricter than those in the United States. At an air pollution conference on Oct. 24, environmental officials solicited advice from their peers in Europe and the United States. Page, the American EPA official, praised Chinese officials and said China is considering the sort of regional pollution abatement strategies used in the United States. They are wrestling with a lot of the same pollution problems that we wrestled with several years ago and that, to some extent, we still are grappling with," said Page, who attended the conference.

More here


`They call me a global warming heretic," says David Bellamy, the conservationist who has dismissed the imminent demise of the planet under a tidal wave of melted polar ice caps as "poppycock". "I have assured them that they cannot burn me at the stake because of all the dioxins my body will give off." The bearded botanist emits a hoot at this scientific bon mot, but in truth he isn't finding his current predicament very funny at all.

Ever since he stuck his head above the undergrowth to question the view that man-made carbon dioxide emissions are responsible for climate change, Bellamy has found himself frozen out of the debate on global warming. Rather than blaming pollutants, he argues that the current change in climate is simply part of an eons-old global cycle; one that humans are as powerless to stop as they are blameless in starting. "Natural climate change has been happening for a long time," he says. "If you were sitting in London 10,000 years ago there would be woolly rhinos walking around because it would be the end of the ice age. Now we are in a pretty wobbly phase and some people are saying that this is caused by carbon dioxide pouring into the atmosphere and drowning us all. I just don't believe that."

The problem is that the thought police of the conservation community will brook no dissent and have contrived to silence his voice and that of his supporters. "I always thought that was what science was all about: arguing publicly and publishing both sides of the point, finding the answer," he says. "But we simply cannot get our stuff published. They don't tolerate dissent because they are not telling the truth. There is no consensus whatsoever on global warming; there are just as many people dissenting but they will not publish those papers in journals."

He believes the reason that non-believers are being silenced is fear: after all it is reassuring to think that whatever the cataclysm ahead we at least have the power to head it off. Much less comforting to believe that there is nothing we can do.

Bellamy, who endeared himself to a generation with his mangled pronunciations and saliva-soaked enthusiasm on television, might make an unlikely rebel, but that is what, reluctantly, he has become. He is no apologist for the car industry, he says, though his views are likely to be more acceptable around the water coolers of General Motors than Greenpeace. "If you believe that CO2 actually is causing man-made global warming then the car is bad news," he says. "But I think the car industry should be patted on the back. They are all doing their bit making more and more efficient cars, and increased fuel efficiency is a good thing because it will make the oil last longer."

More here


(By Boris Johnson)

I used to have a mother-in-law called Gaia, so any book called The Revenge of Gaia is likely to cause a flutter of panic in my breast; and by the time I had finished the new best-seller by green prophet James Lovelock, I am afraid I was in a state of brow-drenched hysteria. The good news is that the Gaia in question is not my ex-mother-in-law. The bad news is that she represents a chthonic deity even more capable of vengeance upon errant mankind. Gaia is the Earth herself; she is Mother Nature; she taps her foot in ever-growing impatience at the antics of our species; and, according to Professor Lovelock, she is about to exact the most terrifying punishment for our excesses. She is about to get carboniferous on our ass.

Lovelock has been studying climate change since the 1960s. He has been described by the New Scientist as one of the great thinkers of our age, and he was made a Companion of Honour in 2003. He knows his onions, and, indeed, how much moisture they require. He has been around the world looking at the rising tidelines, sniffing the smoke from the burning rainforest, listening to the roar of the ice-melt from the glaciers, and he has come to the conclusion that the climate change lobby has got it hopelessly wrong.

We delude ourselves, says Lovelock, if we think that the global temperature is going to rise in small increments over the next century. We are like the blindfolded crew of a boat approaching Niagara Falls, and there will come a moment when the temperature will rise with all the equivalent vertical horror. Some time in the next hundred years, he says, it is suddenly going to get hotter and hotter and hotter. "Billions will die," says Lovelock, who tells us that he is not normally a gloomy type. Human civilisation will be reduced to a "broken rabble ruled by brutal warlords", and the plague-ridden remainder of the species will flee the cracked and broken earth to the Arctic, the last temperate spot, where a few breeding couples will survive.

It is going to be a "hell of a climate", he says, with Europe 8C warmer than it is today; and the real killer, says Lovelock, is that there is not a damn thing we can do about it. We are already pumping out so much carbon dioxide, with no prospect of abatement from the growing economies of China and India, that our fate is sealed.

We in Britain produce only two per cent of the world's carbon output and, even if we closed down British industry overnight; even if we abolished the winter fuel allowance and ordered the pensioners to wear more sweaters; even if we forested the entire country with windfarms, it would make not a bean of difference. It would be like trying to cool a volcano with an ice cube. The Kyoto protocol; the climate change levy; the windows and doors regulation - they are all as pointless as telling a patient with terminal lung cancer that he should give up smoking.

And when the Great Heat has destroyed our industry, and wrecked civilisation, it will get worse, says Lovelock. Because then we will lose the aerosol of dust and smog that has kept out some of the sun's rays; and it will get hotter still. There is nothing for it, he says, but to forget the piffling Kyoto-led regulation, and build nuclear power plants, so as not to be dependent on Russian gas, and send bodies of fit young men and women to East Anglia, there to build levees against the coming inundations. An international solution is now beyond our reach, he says, and we must look to Britain first.

Phew-ee. Is Lovelock right? I haven't the faintest; but as I listen to his Mad Max-style vision of the coming century, I find my mind bubbling with blasphemous thoughts. Wasn't it pretty hot in the 10th century? Didn't the Romans have vineyards in Northumberland? And is it really so exceptionally hot in modern Europe? According to yesterday's paper, Lisbon has just had its first heavy snowfall for 52 years. What's that about?

I feel I cannot possibly disagree with Lovelock, or with the overwhelming body of scientists who attest to the reality of climate change. I am sure that they are, in some sense, right; and it feels instinctively true that we are a nasty, over-polluting species; and there is something horrifying, when you look at those pictures of the world at night, to see the phosphorescent sprawl of humanity. But the more one listens to sacerdotal figures such as Lovelock, and the more one studies public reactions to his prophecies, the clearer it is that we are not just dealing with science (though science is a large part of it); this is partly a religious phenomenon.

Humanity has largely lost its fear of hellfire, and yet we still hunger for a structure, a point, an eschatology, a moral counterbalance to our growing prosperity. All that is brilliantly supplied by climate change. Like all the best religions, fear of climate change satisfies our need for guilt, and self-disgust, and that eternal human sense that technological progress must be punished by the gods.

And the fear of climate change is like a religion in this vital sense, that it is veiled in mystery, and you can never tell whether your acts of propitiation or atonement have been in any way successful. One sect says we must build more windfarms, and these high priests will be displeased with what Lovelock has to say. Another priestly caste curses the Government's obsession with nuclear power - a programme Lovelock has had the courage to support.

Some scientific hierophants now tell us that trees - trees, the good guys - are the source of too much methane, and are contributing to global warming. Huh? We in the poor muddled laity scratch our heads and pray. Who is right? Who is wrong?

If Lovelock is only half-right, then we must have an immediate programme to pastoralise the global economy and reduce emissions. The paradox is that, if he is completely right, there is not a lot we can do, and we might as well enjoy our beautiful planet while we can. Or is he completely wrong? To say that would be an offence not just against science, but against a growing world religion.


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 February, 2006


The White House has inserted last-minute changes to a proposed national air pollution rule that distort scientific findings on the health effects of breathing dust, according to a panel of independent scientists that advises the Bush administration. The federal Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee said the effect of the administration's changes is to cast doubt [Heaven forbid!] on key studies that link fine-particle pollution to heart disease, strokes, asthma attacks and shortened lifespans, or "premature deaths."

The committee also said Friday that the administration misrepresented the panel's view on dust pollution in rural areas to support an exemption for mining and farming. The revisions, penned by officials at the White House's Office of Management and Budget, were made in December, shortly before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the proposal for public comment. The panel of prominent air-pollution experts raised their objections to the changes in a public teleconference Friday. A majority of the advisory committee had recommended that the limits be tightened on annual exposure to fine particle pollution - mainly dust and soot from human activity. Scientists on the panel and other experts, including those with the California Environmental Protection Agency, have said the preponderance of health studies show that tens of thousands of lives could be saved each year by moderately tightening the limits.

But EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson decided that the current limit should be retained and that the standard for coarser airborne particles be dropped altogether in rural areas. In issuing the proposal a few weeks ago, Johnson said, "The evidence to date does not support a national air-quality standard that would cover situations where most coarse particles in the air come from sources like windblown dust and soils, agricultural sources and mining sources."

More here


The Greenies would probablly find something wrong with it anyway -- not close enough to nature, or something

A Worldchanging post rounds up three different airborne power-generation systems -- a flying windmill, a windmill-equipped zeppelin, and a kite-based windmill. According to their figures, one flying windmill rated at 240kW with rotor diameters of 35 feet could generate power for less than two cents per kilowatt hour--that would make them the cheapest power source in the world. For greater power needs, several units would be operated in the same location--Sky Windpower says that an installation "rated at 2.81 megawatts flying at a typical U.S. site with an eighty percent capacity factor projects a life cycle cost per kilowatt hour at 1.4 cents." And they would have far better uptime than most windmills--since the jetstream never quits, they should operate at peak capacity 70-90% of the time. Output would also be less dependent on location than it is on the ground, simply because terrain doesn't matter much when you're at 35,000ft; however, since the jetstream and other "geostrophic" winds don't blow much at latitudes near the equator, it would be useful primarily for middle- and higher-latitudes.



A reader writes:

"A real blue sky idea indeed. They are talking about generating 20MW with eight rotors all with wind energy only. Even if you generate at high voltages, say 10KV, that means currents of the order of 2000 A if you generate DC or about 400A if you generate three-phase AC. 400A requires a conductor of at least 1 inch dia, which weights about a pound per feet. That's three copper conductor plus a steel cable to support the whole thing. (Copper is rather weak in tension) Let's be generous: half a pound per feet per conductor times 4 (3 copper, one steel) is 2 pounds per feet times 35,000 feet equals 70,000 pounds or 35 tons of cable only. Even if you use ASCR cable (Aluminum Conductor, Steel Reinforced) we are not going to be far from those 35 tons. Add the weight of the generators and whatever and you are in trouble right there."


Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change brings together the material presented at a conference of the same name a year ago in Exeter. The argument put forward is that unless carbon emissions are tackled immediately, average global temperature is likely to rise by between 0.5 and 2.0 degrees Celsius by 2050 - with the potential for much bigger changes further down the line. Some of the possible consequences of this include the melting of vast swathes of ice in Greenland and Western Antarctica, the shutdown or shifting of the ocean currents that keep northern Europe warm, the inundation of many low-lying areas, and loss or damage to plant and aquatic life.

More alarming speculation suggests that positive feedbacks might occur, resulting in runaway temperature rises with much more dramatic effects. As UK prime minister Tony Blair states in his foreword to the book: 'It is clear from the work presented that the risks of climate change may well be greater than we thought.'

This is essentially the same material that was so widely publicised in February 2005, but it is interesting how each new report about climate change turns up the volume of screeching fears about our future. For example, Dr Chris Rapley of the British Antarctic Survey suggests that sea levels could rise by 16 feet if the West Antarctic ice sheet were to melt (although this could take up to a thousand years).

The problem with the discussion about climate change is the way in which the politicisation of the scientific debate makes it increasingly difficult to come to a balanced view on what is really happening. We are presented with a message - 'we must reduce carbon emissions drastically and quickly' - without any sense of the caveats and uncertainties in the science. As one attendee at the Exeter conference put it, 'such was the spectacle of pending disaster that anyone who dared - or was allowed - to question whether the sky is really about to fall on us... was branded a "usual suspect"' (1).

For example, the most important single factor in the regulation of Earth temperature is cloud, yet it is still unclear what overall effect cloud will have in the future. Cloud and water vapour may tend to damp down the effects of increased greenhouse gases, or they may act to magnify such effects. In fact, while the science is clearly developing, there are still genuine problems with the computer models, data, physics, even the economics, of climate change that mean that even the best guesses about our future still reveal widely divergent scenarios.

An influential group of climate scientists and environmental campaigners are clearly taking one particular view of the evidence - that we are heading for disaster. In this view, change will be traumatic and the benefits of warming limited and isolated. For this group climate change is not just a big problem, it is the problem. Other problems we face, such as disease and poverty, are seen as subordinate to the need to tackle carbon emissions.

But given the huge potential costs of rapidly shifting to a low-carbon society, the policy of 'wait and see' has a lot going for it. Before we devote so much of society's energies and resources to solving a problem, let's be absolutely sure that we have got one. Before we sign up to hugely expensive attempts to prevent climate change, we should try to work out whether adapting to change, aided by greater economic development, could be more fruitful.

Human adaptability seems to be the missing factor in the whole discussion. The notion that we could use climate change to our advantage is anathema to the doom merchants. Indeed, both sides of the debate are marked by conservatism. There is a tendency among some climate change sceptics to suggest that the current way of organising society's energy supply and transport is the only sensible one, and that reducing carbon emissions will inevitably cause more problems than it solves.

What the debate about climate change desperately needs is a questioning approach that untangles science and politics; a sense of perspective about the scale of the problems; and a large dose of faith in the ability of society to adapt to change in a positive manner. This new book is unlikely to be much help.



Post lifted from Marginal Revolution

Long before Larry Summers shocked the elite by suggesting that men and women might be different he signed on to a World Bank memo noting:

"I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to it."

A number of people suggested that the US was doing just this as lower tariff barriers made it easier to export dirty manufacturing industries and import the goods.  An NBER paper, however, finds no evidence for this effect.  Quoting from the NBER Digest:

Imports overall grew by 318 percent during the period. But according to World Bank data that characterizes industries by their pollution intensity, imports of goods manufactured in highly polluting processes grew at a much slower rate. In other words, just as the U.S. manufacturing sector was growing while simultaneously shifting toward clean industries, the same thing was happening to our imports: they were rising, but the percentage of goods coming from polluting industries was going down. "The cleaner U.S. manufacturing composition is not offset by dirtier imports," the authors write. "Rather, the composition of imports has also become cleaner."

One reason pollution hasn't been exported may be that the dirtier (older) industries have more political power and have resisted tariff reductions.  The authors find, however, that even if one eliminated all tariffs on manufactured goods pollution would still not be exported.

It's not that this wouldn't be a good idea, it's just that it so happens that poor countries don't have a comparative advantage in producing the goods that require a lot of pollution. Of course, if we tax pollution in the United States at higher levels it will make more sense to export it - an interesting dilemma.


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 February, 2006


An oceanographer charts the ebb and flow of opinion on ocean currents

(By Carl Wunsch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA)

Many scientists believe that high-latitude cooling drives the ocean's currents as cold, dense water sinks then flows towards the Equator, creating a convective heat engine. Since I was a student in the 1960s, when a colleague at MIT, Thomas Rossby, had seemingly shown that such a flow could be set up in the lab, this view has been entrenched. But a flaw in the heat-engine model was pointed out as early as 1908 by the Swedish meteorologist Johan Sandstrom.

Heating a saucepan from below causes an instability: lower, warmer fluid rises and displaces the fluid above, leading to a vigorous convection current. In the ocean, heating and cooling both occur at the same level - the surface. Sandstrom argued that this situation should be stable. In my student days, Sandstrom's argument was simply dismissed because he had considered an ideal, non-turbulent fluid. Recently, however, some of us became interested again - in part because of public concern that the ocean circulation is 'shutting down', and more sensibly because of the need to understand the oceanic energy budget.

In one example, two experimentalists revisit the problem (W. Wang & R.- X. Huang J. Fluid Mech.540,49-73; 2005) and find that cooling salty water at or below the level of heating always produces some motion. So Sandstrom wasn't strictly correct. But the observed flow is so weak that the efficiency with which the ocean converts heat to motion must be vanishingly small. The circulation in the ocean - and in retrospect, in Rossby's original experiment - depends on details of how cold and warm waters mix. That means the winds and tides are the real drivers of the ocean currents. How long will it be until the literature catches up?

(Article above from Nature, "Research Highlights", 2 February, 439, 512 - 513 of 2006).


Judicial time wasted on attacking a reasonable opinion. All in the hope of legal loot, of course

A federal judge blasted former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman on Thursday for reassuring New Yorkers soon after the Sept. 11 attacks that it was safe to return to their homes and offices while toxic dust was polluting the neighborhood. U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts refused to grant Whitman immunity against a class-action lawsuit brought in 2004 by residents, students and workers in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn who said they were exposed to hazardous materials from the collapse of the World Trade Center. "No reasonable person would have thought that telling thousands of people that it was safe to return to lower Manhattan, while knowing that such return could pose long-term health risks and other dire consequences, was conduct sanctioned by our laws," the judge said. She called Whitman's actions "conscience-shocking," saying the EPA chief knew that the fall of the twin towers released tons of hazardous materials into the air. A call to a spokeswoman for Whitman was not immediately returned.

The judge let the lawsuit proceed against the EPA and Whitman, permitting the plaintiffs to try to prove that the agency and its administrator endangered their health. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and reimbursement for cleanup costs and asks the court to order that a medical monitoring fund be set up to track the health of those exposed to trade center dust. In her ruling, Batts noted that the EPA and Whitman said repeatedly - beginning just two days after the attack - that the air appeared safe to breathe. The EPA's internal watchdog later found that the agency, at the urging of White House officials, gave misleading assurances.

Quoting a ruling in an earlier case, the judge said a public official cannot be held personally liable for putting the public in harm's way unless the conduct was so egregious as "to shock the contemporary conscience." Given her role in protecting the health and environment for Americans, Whitman's reassurances after Sept. 11 were "without question conscience-shocking," Batts said.



Ministers expect a "huge row" with businesses over plans to cut greenhouse gas output under the European Union's emissions trading scheme. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs intends to push ahead with tougher limits on emissions than are required under EU-wide plans set out by the European Commission last month. Businesses in energy-intensive sectors covered by the scheme fear this will put them at a disadvantage compared with competitors in other member states.

By the end of March, the government will publish its draft "national allocation plan" showing how much carbon dioxide businesses will be allowed to emit in the second phase of the emissions trading scheme, from 2008 to 2012. Businesses argue that the government is creating an unnecessary burden by adopting unilaterally a tougher standard for cutting emissions. Other EU countries will base the calculations for their national allocation plans on their commitments to reduce greenhouse gases under the Kyoto protocol on climate change. This will mean many member states have to impose much stricter reductions on their industry than they face at present. Cuts of about 6 per cent on average from 2008 will be required, according to the Commission.

However, the UK is on track to meet its Kyoto targets, so British businesses could expect to receive broadly similar emissions limits in the second phase of the trading scheme as in the first, which began on January 1 2005. However, the government is committed to its own, more stringent, targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2010. These targets were an election manifesto pledge. Defra wants to base its calculations for the national allocation plan on that tougher target, meaning that businesses covered by the EU scheme could expect a significant reduction in their allowances to emit greenhouse gases.

Margaret Beckett, environment secretary, said: "Our allocations for phase one [of the trading scheme] should be viewed as the minimal starting point for phase two allocations." Another minister told the Financial Times he expected emission cuts to be required from business to help to meet government targets, and predicted a "huge row" with business over plans to tighten the screw on industry's emissions. He said some businesses were co-operating on emissions reduction but others were resisting.

Ian Peters, director of external affairs at the EEF, the engineering employers group, said: "If we were to aim for the [government's own] targets, then clearly that would put UK manufacturing at a severe disadvantage compared with European businesses. Our concern is that British manufacturing is already under enormous pressure." He called for more of the burden of cutting emissions to fall on consumers, transport and other business sectors outside manufacturing. Plans to bring service businesses and small businesses within the scope of emissions trading are under consideration.

But environmental groups called for further reductions of emissions from businesses. Matthew Davis, climate change campaign director for WWF, said: "If you don't put more pressure on business, how do you meet the 2010 targets? It is a bigger challenge [to persuade consumers to cut their emissions] than to get businesses to accept further cuts."

About half of the UK's total emissions are estimated to be created by consumers. But a recent Mori poll found that although most people supported action on climate change, only 12 per cent were in favour of regulations or taxes to encourage people to use energy more efficiently.



There is an awful lot of weather lately that is looking very pesky for the global warmers. "Gaia" must be playing a joke on them. First we had the record cold in Europe and now below we see the latest news from Alaska:

Huge ridges of sea ice brimmed over the Arctic Ocean and crashed onto a Barrow roadway earlier this week, threatening to cut off traffic and knock out power poles in the state's northernmost town. The two massive ice surges, known to Alaska Natives as ivus, were the city's largest in more than a quarter of a century and stunned residents who had never seen large blocks of ice rammed ashore. "It just looked like a big old mountain of ice," said L.A. Leavitt, 19, who left his night-shift job at the city early Tuesday morning to check out the ridges.

Ivus are like frozen tsunamis and crash ashore violently. They've killed hunters in the past and are among the Arctic's most feared natural phenomena. Residents said the northernmost ivu, about 20 feet high and 100 feet long, contained car-sized blocks and left coastal Stevenson Road with only one lane. The ice stopped about 30 feet short of a borough pump station that provides access to Barrow's underground water and sewer system, said North Slope Borough disaster coordinator Rob Elkins. Elkins said strong winds from Russia and eastward currents began pushing pack ice toward Barrow on Saturday. By late Monday night, thick sea ice, which is called multiyear ice and can sometimes grow as thick as 40 feet, had shoved the younger, thinner ice onto shore.

Elkins, who got a 5 a.m. wake-up call from police, said a second ivu on the south side of town came to rest near a smaller coastal road and an empty playground. That ridge stretched about 200 feet. "It was just an amazing sight," said Elkins, a five-year Barrow resident. "It looks like huge stacks of huge ice cubes." The ivus, about two miles apart, had stopped moving by the time Elkins arrived. But the borough quickly called out bulldozers to clear the ice. Elkins also assembled a joint-agency response team, with Inupiaq whaling captains providing traditional knowledge of ice behavior and scientists reading satellite weather, Elkins said.

As winds from the west slowed that afternoon, an army of heavy equipment had cleared the road. Whalers also pointed out that a protective pressure ridge had formed more than a mile offshore. Whaling captain Charlie Hopson, who coordinates oil spill responses in the area, said he could see large blocks of ice churning slowly in the frozen ocean.

For whalers, the approach of multiyear ice presages a good spring season. Whalers need a solid platform of near-shore ice for safer travel and for butchering. "We always want this thing to happen before the whaling season to help get the ice solid and safe to travel on and then we can pick our way out to the lead," Hopson said.

Whaling co-captain Lloyd Leavitt, who attended the response meeting as special assistant to the mayor, said he hadn't seen such a big ivu since 1978. That's when winds peaked at 80 mph and blocks of multiyear ice about 12 feet thick slid ashore like pancakes from a frying pan. "It knocked down all the power poles on the beach front, every last one from the Barrow mechanical building to Browerville," he 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.


4 February, 2006

Paying Airlines to Pollute? (Airbus Offers Money In Lieu of Fuel Efficiency)

Those Oh so virtuous Europeans in the real world.. Post excerpted from Enplaned

Extraordinary article at Flight International in which Airbus concedes Boeing's 777-200LR/300ER has a significant fuel burn advantage over the A340-500/600. But, says Airbus supersalesman (technically Chief Operating Officer - Customers (*), but supersalesman is more descriptive of his role) John Leahy the A340-600 and 777-300ER have:
comparable ranges and seat counts and Rolls-Royce guarantees that maintenance costs for four engines are the same as the twin. I can agree a figure with a customer that reflects the fuel burn delta and run that out over 12 years and pay it to them. But if the 777's fuel burn advantage was to give it greater range, then we'd have to look at [improving the A340].
So first of all there's the interesting statement that Rolls guarantees engine maintenance for four engines (on the A340) will be the same as the two engines on the 777. That could be true, if, say, there's something really differentially expensive about materials on the GE90-115 engine on the 777. That's never been reported, so it seems unlikely. Apart from that it seems highly unlikely that four engines can be maintained in the same number of labor hours as two. That's quite a guarantee.

Move on to the main course. He's saying essentially that yup, the aircraft's got a problem, it burns more fuel, but we'll just give customers the present value of that. There are two issues with that, one money, the other the environment....

The other aspect is the environmental issue, which matters to some of Airbus's better customers, including Lufthansa, one of the home-teams. How seriously does it take the environment? Well, they're German, so of course they take it very seriously indeed, both because the environment is a serious issue in Germany and because, of course, Germans are serious, thorough people.

So in particular, Lufthansa produces a yearly 37-page magazine called Balance: The Lufthansa Journal for Aviation, the Environment and Sustainability (pdf). But that's not all. They also produce yearly something called Balance, Facts and Figures: Key data on environmental care and sustainability at Lufthansa (noch einmals pdf). 70, yes, 70 pages. You can't imagine a single US carrier doing this, but we doubt that makes them any less fuel concious, somehow. You don't need to be an earth-firster to want to save fuel in the airline business these days.

Page 23. Specific fuel consumption: Liters/100 passenger kilometers (for Americans, this is the reverse of how we think of miles/gallon -- here it's gallons (actually liters) per mile (actually kilometers) so lower is better, yeah we think that's bass ackwards too. A340-600 is 4.12(***), not as good as the A340-300 (3.99), but we'd guess that's to do with lower seating density on longer-range A340-600s (in many airlines, A340-300s have been relegated to much shorter routes than they were originally designed for). By the way, a full 25% or more better are the charter/LCC aircraft in the Lufthansa group (like Thomas Cook), which just goes to show that if you really want to be environmentally friendly, you need to give up legroom.

So very seriously environmentally-concerned Lufthansa is polluting the earth something like 10-20% more than it needs to by running A340-600s? How will that look to the deep green German public? Sure, you can make up the cost of the kerosene with money from Airbus, but what about the damage to the earth? Who's going to pay for that? At the very least, Airbus ought to plant a few trees to make amends.

It may sound like we're joking, but we're not, at least not entirely. Environment is a serious issue in Europe. In fact, the European Union is trying to drag the airlines into Europe's emission's trading program (we'll do a separate post on that, but it's a program where a company must buy the right to emit incremental carbon dioxide, which obviously gives them an incentive to emit less CO2). It's a particularly emotional issue in Germany.

Were we running Boeing's sales programs, we'd make sure that everyone in Europe understands the gap Airbus now acknowledges in fuel burn between the two aircraft, and that Airbus intends to, essentially, pay airlines to pollute -- worse than blood money, it's CO2 money. The environmentally pure thing to do, surely (and here we are deeply tongue in cheek) is for Airbus to stop selling the A340 if it can't improve it. Think of global w-a-a-a-r-r-m-i-i-n-g....


"America is addicted to oil"

"The President offered bracing new rhetoric about where he would like to take energy policy in the coming year, but he suggested little more than a bit more money for the same old programs that have failed in the past. In short, it reminds me of the metaphor about 'old wine in new bottles.'

"Regarding the rhetoric, it's odd that the President would complain that America is 'addicted to oil.' Another way of putting it is that American consumers are attracted to the lowest cost sources of energy to meet their energy needs. It's a bit distressing to call that sensible inclination an 'addiction.'

"As far as the new subsidies for coal, wind, solar, nuclear, and ethanol energy are concerned, if those technologies have economic merit, no subsidy is necessary. If they don't, then no subsidy will provide it. Those subsidies have failed to produce economic energy in the past and there is little reason to expect that they will do so in the future.

"Nor is it the government's job to design automobiles. Although government funded R&D projects to redesign the internal combustion engine are nothing new, they have never amounted to anything. For instance, while the Clinton Administration was engaged in a similar undertaking called 'The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles' and producing nothing of consequence, Japanese auto companies -- without significant government help -- were busy designing the hybrid powered engines that are now all the rage within the auto industry. When government ties to pick winners, it usually finds itself stuck with losers and often sets the entire domestic industry back.

"Finally, achieving the President's goal of reducing Middle Eastern oil imports by 75 percent would be economically meaningless. A supply disruption in the Middle East would increase the price of crude everywhere in the world no matter where or how it is produced.

"There is nothing really new in this speech as it pertains to energy except more money for old programs -- the political equivalent of the triumph of hope over experience."



If George W. Bush needs an example of how ethanol can help to reduce dependence on oil imports, he need look no further than Brazil. What Saudi Arabia is to crude oil, Brazil is to ethanol - the environmentally friendly, renewable fuel of which it is the largest producer. Brazil makes the fuel by fermenting and distilling its sugar cane crop, the biggest in the world, and then using the liquid to fuel a rapidly increasing proportion of its transport fleet.

Seven out of 10 of all new cars sold in Brazil are now "flex-fuel" - owners can fill them with either ethanol or petrol. Computer sensors inside the engine then decide what will be the best mix of whatever is in the tank for optimum performance. Finding ethanol is not a problem either - almost all petrol stations have pumps selling pure ethanol, while all regular petrol sold at the pumps is in fact a mix called "gasohol", a blend that contains up to 25 per cent ethanol. Ethanol produces a cleaner burn than petrol, resulting in less pollution and smog.

One downside is that ethanol engines require about 25 per cent more fuel per kilometre than petrol. But in Brazil this is offset by ethanol's lower cost. It typically sells for 50-66 per cent of the price of petrol. The country first turned to ethanol as a substitute for petrol after the oil crises of the 1970s. Its ethanol industry has saved it billions of dollars since then. It is also better for the environment because ethanol consumes carbon dioxide as part of its production cycle. Besides sugar cane, ethanol can be produced from corn, sugar beet, wood chips, grass and organic waste. [But not as economically]

Recent technological developments have overcome many of the disadvantages traditionally associated with ethanol, such as its corrosive effect on tanks and engines. Fuel injection starters and the computer sensors in the flex-fuel engines mean that starting cars in the cold is no longer an issue and the sluggish performance of ethanol-run engines is a thing of the past.

Now Brazil's main challenge is meeting demand. The country aims to double ethanol production by 2013. Already demand is straining supplies between harvests, causing ethanol prices to rise to close to where petrol becomes more cost effective for flex-fuel drivers. But the industry says expanding sugar cane plantations and new ethanol plants will quickly solve the problem.


Global propaganda: "If global warming was real, it makes sense that there would be winners and losers. If the earth warms up, places like Canada and Siberia would be more temperate. There would be more moisture in the air, so deserts would get more rainfall. This presented a real problem to Global Warming's True Believers, so they began torturing the weak 'science' behind global warming to make it seem bad for everybody. Live in a cold climate? Global warming will make it colder. Live in a dry climate? Global warming will make it drier. Live in an area with lots of mosquitos? Global warming will breed more mosquitos! At some point, intelligent people will roll their eyes and realize they are simply listening to propaganda."


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 February, 2006


Benny Peiser has recently had a correspondence with some of the people at "Nature" magazine over the way their online site ignored an article (by Raper and Braithwaite). in their own magazine about sea-levels NOT rising as much as was once thought and promoted another article (by Church & White) in another journal that said the opposite. Below is a fairly devastating excerpt from one of Benny's emails to "Nature" staffers. Benny points out, among other things, that the alarmist paper even contradicts what the IPCC (the world HQ of the global warming religion) says:

"But let's forget for a moment how this editorial accident happened and why Nature editors selected an alarmist paper on sea level rise for the spotlight instead of an anti-alarmist paper published by Nature on the same day. Is there really "no real contradiction between the two papers in any case," as you claim?

For a start, the paper by Raper and Braithwaite is a fundamental critique of the 2001 IPCC model that assumes "that glaciers melt away completely for any warming rather than approaching a new equilibrium." Instead, the two new models used by Raper and Braithwaite estimate a sea level rise due to the melting of glaciers and icecaps of ~0.05 m by 2100, "about half of previous projections." [Note for those of us who still cannot hack metric: 5 centimetres is about 2 inches -- a tiny rise]

Now, the irony of the latest Nature affair is that the lead-author of the "previous projections" criticised by Raper and Braithwaite, is none other than John Church himself, the star of your news story. Given that Church's IPCC chapter on sea level rise is questioned and his high estimates essentially halved, it does look a bit dodgy to provide him - on the same day that his high estimate is debunked - a platform to announce that his latest finding "matches up nicely with (IPCC) model predictions."

What is more, you didn't even mention that the contentious claims by Church and White are more alarmist than (and in fact contradict) the current IPCC TAR "consensus" which states: "No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected." It will be interesting to monitor whether Nature's media promotion given to a 'consensus-breaking' paper will be able to overturn the 2001 IPCC stance. Perhaps we are even seeing the beginnings of another "hockey stick" controversy. After all, Church and White haven't provided any new sea level data - they've only applied a different statistical method to the same data set, data that previously didn't show any significant acceleration.

In fact, Cabanes et al. (2001) who analysed sea level trends between 1950-1998 suggest that the very limited coverage of historical tide gauges cannot provide a meaningful estimate of the average global sea level rise for the past century. And since most historical tide gauges were located in regions of substantial ocean warming, they suggest that the estimates of 20th century sea level rise from tide gauge records may have been overestimated by a factor of 2.

Finally, a recent paper by Volkov and van Aken (2005; see abstract below) suggests that "the recently reported local trends of sea level are not necessarily related to the global sea level rise, but may be part of interdecadal fluctuations."

These any many other papers confirm the existance of huge uncertainties. What this means is that the jury is still out whether or not there is any significant acceleration of global sea level. Nature editors would be well advised to provide more balanced and a less alarmist coverage of climate change research and debates. But after years of complaints, I'm not holding my breath. Nature's apparent addiction to worst-case scenarios and prophecies of fire and brimestone are difficult to kick".


(New paper in GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 32, 2005 L14611 (2005) by Denis L. Volkov, Hendrik M. van Aken. Abstract only. Note also the lead post on this blog on Feb. 1st below which argued for large paleo-climate events being regional rather than global).

Climate-related change of sea level in the extratropical North Atlantic and North Pacific in 1993-2003


Climate-related change of sea level is one of the most challenging concerns for humankind. Here we present a comparative analysis of the interannual variability of sea level in the extratropical North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans based on the high-accuracy TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1 and ERS-1/2 measurements from November 1992 to June 2003. We found indications of the interdecadal variability of the sea level in the North Pacific possibly related to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and suggested that the observed decadal rise of sea level in the subpolar and eastern North Atlantic may have been related to the interdecadal change. While the North Atlantic subtropical and subpolar gyres decelerated, the opposite occurred in the North Pacific. The year-to-year variations of sea level showed coherence between the North Atlantic Oscillation, El Ni¤o/La Ni¤a and Pacific Decadal Oscillation events and respective gyre-scale changes.


(Below is a summary from CO2 Science Magazine, 1 February 2006 of the Volkov & Aken paper above)

What was done

Noting that satellite altimetry data have shown sea level change to be characterized by an uneven spatial structure, with positive trends in some regions and negative trends in others (Cazenave et al., 2004), the authors constructed maps of Sea Level Anomalies (SLAs) for the extratropical North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans that they obtained from merged Topex/Poseidon-Jason-1+ERS-1/2 altimetry data for the period October 1992 to July 2003, after which they used Empirical Orthogonal Function (EOF) analysis to identify dominant modes of interannual SLA variability.

What was learned

Volkov and van Aken found that "the spatial patterns of the observed sea level trends in both oceans [were] identical to the spatial patterns of the EOFs-1 of the interannual SLA data," and that "the year-to-year variations of sea level showed coherence between the North Atlantic Oscillation, El Ni¤o/La Ni¤a and Pacific Decadal Oscillation events and respective gyre-scale changes."

What it means

In the words of the two Dutch scientists, "the results of this work suggest that the recently reported local trends of sea level are not necessarily related to the global sea level rise, but may be part of interdecadal fluctuations." This conclusion is reminiscent of the upper-ocean heat content findings of Levitus et al. (2005), who concluded that "phenomena associated with the variability of the 0-700 m global ocean heat content integral for 1956-2003 are characterized by gyre and basin-scale spatial variability and time-scales approximately decadal and longer," which variability, in their words, "is dominated by the reversal of polarity of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation in the late-1970s and El Ni¤o phenomana."


Below is a summary of the non-alarmist article that was almost completely ignored by the media:

Manchester scientists studying global warming are predicting a much lower rise in sea levels than previously feared. Researchers say melting glaciers and ice caps will cause just a 0.1m (sic) rise in global sea levels by 2100 - less than half the increase of several earlier predictions. But they show that melting of glacial and mountain areas is accelerating fast leading to flooding and land slides in mountainous regions such as Nepal.

Dr Sarah Raper, a climatologist from MMU's Centre for Aviation Transport and the Environment, said: "Our research predicts a relatively low sea-level rise from glaciers and icecaps, compared with earlier work, but the local effect of accelerated glacier melt is going to be very important and may already be increasing catastrophic damage in the form of glacier lake outbursts in high mountain regions.

The Manchester research, published in the scientific journal Nature, suggests that the slow-down or lower estimate, is due to a greater amount of the world's ice being located at the ice-caps - around « - which because it is slower melting than glaciers, is contributing less water flow into the oceans.

Dr Raper and Dr Roger Braithwaite, a geographer at Manchester University, projected expected future climate statistics to a sophisticated model of glacier mass and volume which accounts for a host of variables including glacier shrinkage. Dr Braithwaite said: "Our analysis should not been seen as diminishing the importance of sea level rise since glaciers and icecaps are only one of the contributors." Glacier and icecap melt is responsible for roughly a third of sea level rise, the main cause being simple water expansion due to temperature rise, known as thermal expansion.



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 February, 2006


You may walk the countryside and you can even shoot foxes there (so far) but you may not use it for hunting with dogs nor may you travel about it on motorbikes. The recent ban on hunting to hounds is explicable as traditional Leftist class envy -- even though the great majority of those affected are just ordinary country people. But the steady closing of tracks to motorbikes is a direct attack on how lots of working class people like to enjoy the countryside. It shows how captive to the arrogant and dictatorial Greenies the British Labour party now is. They may still claim to represent the working class but that is in reality now history. Below is an email to me from one of the bikers affected that explains exactly what is going on

As things stand in Europe there is a move to amalgamate for the sake of harmonisation and conformity - at least from the politicians point of view, and even there, there is uncertainty. From the layman's point of view, his national identity is being stripped piece by piece, amalgamated into ever increasing ethnic communities with which he is encouraged to accept for fear of racism, but in whose presence he feels discomfort. It's not so much a lack of understanding another's race or religion, it's the single minded exclusion to everything that is indigenous that rankles. "When in Rome . . . " but they want none of that.

The 'PanEuropean' policy exists, but the individual does not. In schools our children are not taught feet and inches - they do not exist. No longer excercise books with measurements of the world on the back cover, yet we buy timber in sheets of 8' x 4' or studding 4" x 2" so many metres long. Our road signs are in miles, yet all government communication of linear distance is in kilometres. We are being dragged in against our will.

The Prime Minister says on TV about the latest policy - "We need to do this . . " When he really means 'Tough - you are going to get this like it or not.' Your copied piece on wind farms is a classic example. The Isle of Lewis will be changed forever more. The native people that stay will tell of how it used to be. Those that listen will disbelieve. Those who lobby against such developments will be black brushed as against the environment; cranks, nutters, unrealistic of the futures needs.

I have personally spent many hours researching events around a Rights of Way subject and lobbying the House of Commons and Lords against certain clauses in a Bill currently proceeding through parliament which is about to extinguish the right to drive or ride a mechanically propelled vehicle along certain lanes in England and Wales. The lanes are historic roads, which once carried carriages and carts, some of which developed into major arterial highways, others dwindled into backwaters, became overgrown, hidden from sight in favour of a parallel route. As such, many disappeared completely, others became downgraded to bridleway (foot, cycle or ridden horse only), and others to footpath status. Since the 1930's these lanes were unthought of and largely forgotten. Then in 1968 County Definitive Maps were to be overhauled and an attempt at updating began. All roads, byways and footpaths were to be reclassified, with special attention to RUPP's (Roads Used as Public Paths) - they were to be reclassifed as BOAT's (Byway Open to All Traffic). These remaining Rights of Way with vehicular status are in a small minority, currently making up just 5% of all other unsurfaced byways, they being footpath & bridleway.

Since 1968 local authorities have had a duty to update and reclassify existing RUPP's within their areas to BOAT, but they have singulary failed to do much about them, other things taking more prominent importance. It was left to a few individuals, and organisations which came into being during the early seventies, to apply for Definitive Map Modification Orders to try and catch up on the reclassification process. The reason for this was the old lanes were being lost bit by bit as downgrading became - for the authorities - the easier option as it saved seeking evidence of vehicular use. The haunts of the few who wished to carry on exploring the historic byways on two wheels, was rapidly shrinking.

In 2000 the Countryside Rights of Way act was passed, and gave local authorities until 2026 to get all their aforementioned reclassifications completed. Some did, most have not. Then in 2003 the shit hit the fan. Reports started to spread about groups of 4 x 4 drivers, hoards of maniacs on trail bikes tearing up the countryside disturbing the peace and quiet, and conflict with other users. Much of this however, was being reported by one specific group - the Ramblers Association. Also with vested interests were property and land owners with land adjacent to, or which had a Right of Way passing through their property. The value of which could be seen to be affected by a route with vehicular status nearby. The Tar Brush was waved around with great vigour and influence. The real culprits, (as there are always some culprits) were a few riders with unlicenced machines tresspassing in woodlands and clay pits, and generally acting irresponsibly, but from the few does the 'glory' spread.

The upshot is, that the fine words spoken by Government Ministers at the turn of the century ensuring the bona-fide responsible groups that the available mileage to them will under no way be jeopardised or compromised, and that they have nothing to fear in the way of loss of their pastime and recreation, have been replaced with clauses in a Bill that expressly prevent any further reclassification of RUPP's to BOAT's, and that the existing applications for DMMO's (Definitive Map Modification Order's) will be curtailed. Not only that - but applications made backdated to April 2005 will be denied. The result is a loss of 62% of available route miles, from 5% of the network - to 1.8% - this - after the government had commissioned an independent report a year in the making, that concluded vehicle useage of the routes and byways was perfectly sustainable as was, and that over seventy percent of damage where caused was done by forestry operations and agriculture - it's the recreational user on two and four wheels that gets the chop.

Is it any big deal? Well, to majority of people certainly not. But if you are actively engaged in a hobby through which you get huge amounts of pleasure, and seldom meet any confrontational situations, it makes you wonder where any democratic voice may rest. As the Bill proceed through committee stage, amendments are being attached, but they are carefully and legally worded in such a way as to baffle the layman, and to ensure access denied. Will it stop the illegal riding? Of course not. With existing laws almost unenforceable, what's another one!

Such experiences as this load the camel with more straws. Small businesses suffer at the hands of large multinationals. Corner stores and Post offices close. Green grocers disappear, the independent butchers, the hardware-cum-toolshop replaced by a warehouse do-it-all, with assistants who couldn't-care-less. Identity cards with databases of all personal information, biometrics - iris readers - cardless, cashless - 'look into the scope' security devices in your local cafe. Computer chipped engines speed controlled from some central computer via satellite, charging by the foot travelled - sorry Centimetre!. Fines for misdemeanours such as trying to start your car with one number-plate bulb blown (An MoT failure here, therefore an offence) automatically deducted from your bank account within seconds - the on board computer disabling the engine simultaneously.

David Blunkett (cruelly named Dodgy Blindgit) spoke in an interview yesterday about making no compromises about ID cards - they had to be total with a full database of information to meet the security needs of the 21st Century. Currently shelved, I suspect the policy is in the pits for a tweaking prior to further attempts at re-entry subtly disguised as something else. Straws - every one. No wonder Jack feels at home.

Lies, deceit, incompetence and ignorance - weapons of mass control. Sledgehammers and walnuts. In such ways does the moral of the individual suffer. George Orwell's 1984 is but a history book of the last twenty five years. Whistleblowers get silenced.

My background is working class, parents couldn't have afforded further education, so I started my 'Jack of all trades' education on a farm aged 15. A poor mixer, prone to silence and mechanical devices - with the exception of this one. Never before have I communicated with so many people from around the world, and learned the startling fact - everyone gets shat upon from the same quarter - yet they still sit in the same spot year after year. Deckchairs on a crowded beach. Shout out loud - no-one hears.

The galling part about the whole affair is the devious and back tracking way government have gone about their task. Despite assurances of retaining present mileage for 'mechanically propelled vehicles', and despite a voluntary moratorium of applications to re-classify existing RUPP's to BOAT's - as was requested by goverment - they have in essence gone back on their words (not an unfamiliar strategy). It is fuelled by the popular image of kids tearing around field and woods on unlicenced bikes, and crashing through undergrowth destroying all in their path.On occassions this has been seen, and of course remebered well.

In reality, small groups of bikes will poodle along quiet grassy track, across downs and peaks, maybe tacle some fords and mud. Very often unseen, and barely heard - so to many, we only exist as marauding maniacs. Some go in 4x4's with disabled persons to get away from the tarmac and into the hills for a different day out. The Bill has hundreds of amendments currently attached, and is as wes write going through committee. Much of what is available to view via the House of Lords website reveals a complicated web of denial of access for all but possibly the aforementioned disabled, private access, and agriculture.

I personally used to ride the lanes local to me thirty years ago, and have done precious little since, but the whole overpowerful legislative machine just bugs the hell out of me. It's a tool used by the wealthy and selfish to increase the value of property, in the name of environmentalism on a local scale. It's a pushover. The very few trails left are being slashed further

I recently flicked the radio on - and straight away heard 'The Archers' - and an episode about 'illegal' dirt bikers on a Bridleway!! Terrific!

Just goes to show how much influence some have in scuppering the enjoyment of a few. That's national radio to middle Britain being fed a dose of bias. I went into the BBC website and accessed the message board - and sure enough, plenty of hostile comment to one in defence. I chipped in coming over as Farmer Brown - very middle of the road -- leaning on the discrimination by the majority against the minority. Quite enjoyed that. See here


I have received the following email comment on the above from another writer:

"Nice to hear from a like minded soul who is able to express himself so articulately. I can only do about two sentences on the subjects you have commented upon without blithering and speaking in tongues, usually with a lot of F's. I just want to quietly poodle up and down the hills and wild places on my monkey bike taking the odd photo and breathing in the vastness and beauty of our island. The only problem is I am now crapping myself that some spotty faced arrogant copper will be waiting at the end of the track to confiscate my bike. Makes me want to emigrate."


A moderate reply to the doomsters

When researchers scan the global horizon, overfishing, loss of species habitat, nutrient run-off, climate change, and invasive species look to be the biggest threats to the ability of land, oceans, and water to support human well-being. Yet "there is significant reason for hope. We have the tools we need" to chart a course that safeguards the planet's ecological foundation, says Stephen Carpenter, a zoologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. "We don't have to accept the doom-and-gloom trends." That's the general take-home message in an assessment of the state of the globe's ecosystems and the impact Earth's ecological condition has on humans.

Thursday, officials released a five-volume coda to the UN's Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, an ambitious four-year attempt to explore the relationship between the environment and human development. Summary reports of the findings as they affected four international environmental treaties were released last year. These new volumes represent the detailed information that underpins the earlier reports. In the process, it outlines four plausible ways the planet could develop politically, economically, and socially by 2050, and the effect they would have on people and the environment.

The pathways for political and economic development the authors use - ranging from a relatively wide-open global system to a circle-the-wagons, fragmented world - emerged out of discussions with political and business leaders, scientists, and nongovernmental organizations worldwide. The authors then drew on the latest research to estimate the impact of these paths. The assessment was conducted by 1,360 researchers from 95 countries.

By 2050, it estimates that the highly global approach - with liberal trade policies, and concerted efforts to reduce poverty, improve education and public health, yet respond reactively to environmental issues - could yield the lowest population growth and the highest economic growth. But the environmental scorecard would be mixed.

In a fragmented world that focuses largely on security and regional markets and takes a reactive approach to ecological problems, economic growth rates are the lowest and the population is the highest of the four pathways.

Two other paths, which place a greater emphasis on technology and a proactive approach to the environment, yield population growth rates somewhere in the middle, and economic growth rates that may be slow at first, but accelerate with time.

Even under the most environmentally beneficial paths, however, ecological trouble spots are likely to remain - central Africa, the Middle East, and southern Asia. In the end, Carpenter says, "there is no optimum approach, no one-size-fits-all. It's all about trade-offs."

To put the planet on a sustainable path, he continues, the report makes clear that people must view Earth's ecosystems as one interlinked system, rather than as fragments. People must begin to actively manage those ecosystems in ways that ensure that they will receive the benefits those ecosystems provide - from blunting the surge from ocean storms and filtering water to feeding a hungry world. Indeed, with efforts now under way to develop worldwide observing systems to monitor the oceans, atmosphere, and land use, technology is moving into place to support such broad management efforts.

Unfortunately, humans have "badly mismanaged" the ecosystems that support them," says Walter Reid, a professor with Stanford University's Institute for the Environment and director of the assessment. "We need to manage for the full range of ecosystem benefits, not just those that pass through markets."

For instance, the report holds that to safeguard the availability of fresh water and encourage its more ecologically prudent use, governments could consider replacing their subsidies with a more market-based pricing system. To ensure that the poor aren't priced out of the system, Carpenter says, one could adapt South Africa's approach. It guarantees a minimum allotment per person. Once the meter ticks beyond that amount, market prices kick in.



Comment from a NASA insider

A nasty little spat has arisen as a result of NASA's leading climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), speaking out on the Bush Administration's reluctance to begin imposing carbon dioxide restrictions to help slow global warming.

The first salvo by Hansen was fired on October 26, 2004 when, speaking to an audience at Iowa State University, he said, "In my more than three decades in government, I have never seen anything approaching the degree to which information flow from scientists to the public has been screened and controlled as it is now," referring to pressure he apparently has experienced from the Administration. The issue has now surfaced again after a more recent lecture, and Hansen has said he will ignore NASA's restrictions on him. Those restrictions call for coordinating with NASA's public affairs office, and getting management approval for any of his talks that touch on policy, as opposed to science.

I have some familiarity with these restrictions on government employees, as they were a major reason I resigned from NASA over four years ago. But back then, the shoe was on the other foot. NASA knew I was not supportive of the popular gloom-and-doom theory of global warming, and before any congressional testimony of mine on the subject, I was "reminded" that I could speak on the science, but not on policy matters. Well, it turns out that expert witnesses on this contentious subject are almost always asked by a senator or congressman, "What would you do about policy if you were me?" When the question came, I dutifully dodged it.

I am not sure, but disobeying my superiors would probably have been grounds for dismissal, if they wanted to press the point. In Jim Hansen's case, even if this was theoretically possible, I suspect the political fallout would be enormous, as he as done more than any scientist in the world to impress upon the public's consciousness the potential dangers of global warming. Hansen is a smart, productive public servant that is on a crusade for what he believes in. I understand why he believes as he does -- but I still disagree with his conclusions, both scientific and policy wise.

For example, Hansen has been able to devise a scientific scenario whereby all warming in recent decades can be attributed to mankind. I believe, however, he has ignored possible natural mechanisms, for instance a change in cloudiness during the same period of time. And in the policy area, it would be stupid to not do something now about reducing carbon emissions -- if it were that easy. But I believe that major technological advances are the only way humanity can substantially reduce carbon emissions in this century. And as readers of my previous articles here know, I have argued that only the wealthy countries can afford the R&D to make these advances. So, my conclusion is, we should not shoot ourselves in the economic foot to gain reductions equivalent to only, say, 10% in emissions. While this is also similar to the Bush Administration's position, I have had no influence from them or anyone else the last 20 years to change what I believe on this subject.

If you are concerned about the Administration possibly muting some of its employees' influence in this area (remember, NASA is part of the executive branch), don't despair. Our government heavily funds a marching army of climate scientists -- government, university, and private -- whose funding depends upon manmade global warming remaining a threat. The government agencies, like NASA, that the money flows through also depend upon these issues remaining alive for continued funding. This is not to suggest that there is a conspiracy going on. It's merely to point out that climate scientists aren't always unbiased keepers of truth. The arena of global warming overflows with more strongly held opinions than it does unbiased or scientific truths


CSIRO now warms to that evil coal

Australia's chief scientific organisation has thrown its weight behind the controversial "coal-friendly" technologies favoured by the Howard Government, backing away from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. The CSIRO revealed yesterday that it would boost resources in water, health and energy research, with a focus on developing low-emission projects such as capturing carbon and burying it underground in a process known as sequestration. CSIRO will spend $90million developing new energy and minerals projects, with $50million coming from government funding and $40million from "partnerships" with Australia's resources and power industry. But jobs will be shed from its current workforce of 6500 and cuts will also be made to the organisation's traditional research projects in agriculture and manufacturing.

The shift in research priorities for 2006-07 was blasted yesterday by the federal Opposition and the CSIRO's staff association. "Australia has the world's highest greenhouse emissions percapita but the CSIRO doesn't seem to care about renewable energy research," Labor science spokeswoman Jenny Macklin said.

But CSIRO chief executive Geoff Garrett told The Australian that, "like it or not", industry and consumers remained heavily dependent on coal to fire electricity and that reality was unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. CSIRO deputy chief executive Ron Sandland said: "We can have more impact by focusing our energies more in clean coal."

The new six-country Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate is focused on developing cleaner methods of developing power using the world's existing coal resources. The group - the US, Australia, Korea, Japan, India and China - has drawn fire from environmental groups concerned that the countries are ignoring renewable energy sources.

Four or five renewable energy projects will be wound up by CSIRO over the next couple of years in areas such as solar power, biological hydrogen and photo-catalytic water-splitting. CSIRO said it would be proceeding with major new R&D in areas such as solar-thermal technology and was not abandoning the renewables field altogether. But its shift in priorities indicates the organisation is conforming to government policy, which argues that the solution to fighting greenhouse gas lies with developing new technologies designed to capture and store carbon emissions.

Dr Garrett also stared down recent criticism of his organisation's pursuit of partnerships with industry, declaring he would continue to chase external revenue - like that generated by the recent best-selling Total Wellbeing Diet part-funded by Australia's meat and dairy industries. Despite the book's popularity, it created a storm of controversy, with some high-profile nutritionists such as Rosemary Stanton questioning the science behind the eating plan. "We have an internal mantra - partner or perish," Dr Garrett said. "Partnerships are absolutely pivotal to our overall strategy. The key point is making great science and great research accessible to Joe Public."



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

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1 February, 2006


Paleo-climate events probably regional rather than global

(New article in press at Quaternary Research)

Abrupt climate change: An alternative view

By Carl Wunsch (Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA)


Hypotheses and inferences concerning the nature of abrupt climate change, exemplified by the Dansgaard-Oeschger (D-O) events, are reviewed. There is little concrete evidence that these events are more than a regional Greenland phenomenon. The partial coherence of ice core d18O and CH4 is a possible exception. Claims, however, of D-O presence in most remote locations cannot be distinguished from the hypothesis that many regions are just exhibiting temporal variability in climate proxies with approximately similar frequency content. Further suggestions that D-O events in Greenland are generated by shifts in the North Atlantic ocean circulation seem highly implausible, given the weak contribution of the high latitude ocean to the meridional flux of heat. A more likely scenario is that changes in the ocean circulation are a consequence of wind shifts. The disappearance of D-O events in the Holocene coincides with the disappearance also of the Laurentide and Fennoscandian ice sheets. It is thus suggested that D-O events are a consequence of interactions of the windfield with the continental ice sheets and that better understanding of the wind field in the glacial periods is the highest priority. Wind fields are capable of great volatility and very rapid global-scale teleconnections, and they are efficient generators of oceanic circulation changes and (more speculatively) of multiple states relative to great ice sheets. Connection of D-O events to the possibility of modern abrupt climate change rests on a very weak chain of assumptions.


The widely-held view of abrupt climate change during the last glacial period, as manifested, particularly, in the so-called Dansgaard-Oeschger (D-O) events, is that they are at least hemispheric, if not global, in extent, and caused by changes in the ocean circulation. A version of the much disseminated curve that stimulated the discussion is shown in Figure 1.

The canonical view that ocean circulation changes were the cause of the abrupt changes seen in Greenland isotope records is widespread (e.g., Schmittner, 2005 and Cruz et al., 2005) and is usually implied even where not explicitly stated. The possibility of abrupt climate change occurring because of the ongoing global warming and its oceanic effects is attracting great attention. For examples of how the hypothesis is influencing the debate about modern global warming, see Broecker, 1997 and Broecker, 2003, or The Guardian, London (2005). Major field programs are underway seeking to see early signs of "collapse" of the North Atlantic circulation, e.g., the UK RAPID Program; see, with some anticipating the shutoff of the Gulf Stream (Schiermeier, 2004).

Given the implications for modern public policy debate, and the use of this interpretation of D-O events for understanding of past climate change, it is worthwhile to re-examine the elements leading to the major conclusions. Underlying the now very large literature of interpretation are several assumptions, assertions and inferences including:

(1) The d18O variations appearing in the record of Figure 1 are a proxy for local temperature changes.

(2) Fluctuations appearing in Greenland reflect climate changes on a hemispheric, and probably global, basis and of large amplitude.

(3) The cause of the D-O events can be traced back to major changes (extending to "shutdown") of the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and perhaps even failure of the Gulf Stream.

(4) Apparent detection of a D-O event signature at a remote location in a proxy implies its local climatic importance.

The purpose of this paper is to briefly re-examine these assumptions and assertions, but with emphasis on lk and lk. A summary of the outcome of the survey is that (1) is in part true; little evidence exists for (2) other than a plausibility argument; and (3) is unlikely to be correct. Inference (4) can only be understood through a quantitative knowledge of controls of local proxies and is briefly likened to the problem of interpreting modern El Ni¤o signals. The paper ends with a discussion of how to move forward.


North Atlantic circulation control

Our focus now changes to the separate issue of the cause (or "trigger") of the rapid changes seen in central Greenland. Consider the widely accepted scenario that Greenland D-O events are a direct consequence of a major shift in the North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation. Some confusion occurs at the outset because of a failure to specify which elements of that circulation are supposed to generate the climate change (Wunsch, 2002). Often, the focus is on the mass flux associated with the meridional overturning, and the mass flux is indeed central to the dynamics of the ocean. But in terms of the impact on the climate system, it is the oceanic poleward heat flux that has the most immediate consequences for the atmosphere. Alternatively, sea-surface temperatures are most often used to determine how the ocean is affecting the atmospheric state, although these will be in large part a consequence of the heat flux divergence (exchange of enthalpy with the atmosphere).

Figure 10 displays the estimated net meridional transport of heat by the combined ocean-atmosphere system, as well as separate estimates of the oceanic and atmospheric contributions (Wunsch, 2005). A number of features stand out in this figure. First, the oceanic Northern Hemisphere contribution poleward of about 25øN falls very rapidly as heat is transferred to the atmosphere through the intense cyclogenesis in the mid-latitude storm belts, and as the relative oceanic area rapidly diminishes. By 40øN, the oceanic contribution is less than 25% of the atmospheric contribution. Of this 25%, most is in the North Atlantic (e.g., Ganachaud and Wunsch, 2002). The assumption that a fractional change in this comparatively minor contribution to the global heat flux is the prime mover of abrupt climate change is not very appealing, if there is any alternative possibility (one will be proposed below). Furthermore, air mass trajectories circling the globe at high latitudes are in contact with the North Atlantic Ocean for only a very short time compared to the North Pacific, Asia and North America. The oceanic tail may not necessarily be wagging the meteorological dog.

Second, note that within the significant error bars, the "conveyor" (the real "global conveyor" is the combined ocean and atmospheric transport) is nearly indistinguishable from being antisymmetric about the equator. The net oceanic transport is asymmetric about the equator, with the atmospheric contribution compensating within observational error. An overall anti-symmetry, despite the asymmetry of the separate oceanic and atmospheric fluxes, is one of the more remarkable, but rarely noted, elements of the modern climate system. Stone (1978) discusses some of the physical elements controlling the total fluxes.

If this anti-symmetry is maintained as the climate system shifts (assuming the modern antisymmetry is not mere accident), a reduction in the Northern Hemisphere oceanic heat transport would be compensated by a corresponding increase in the atmospheric transport. That is, on a zonally integrated basis, one plausible outcome of a hypothetical "shutdown" of the North Atlantic overturning circulation, with any consequent reduction in oceanic heat transport, is a warmer (and/or wetter) Northern Hemisphere atmosphere rather than a colder one. This argument says nothing at all about a regional atmospheric cooling in the North Atlantic sector, only that should it occur; it would have to be compensated elsewhere so as to maintain the balance of incoming and outgoing radiation. Claims that it is obvious that the North Atlantic sector atmosphere must cool are difficult to sustain (how the tropics, and e.g., its albedo, might shift through all of this, are unspecified in most discussions).

Setting the global problem aside, turn now to the question of how a hypothetical North Atlantic meridional overturning circulation shutdown would occur. The conventional explanation connects it to a strong decrease in surface salinity from melting glacial ice. The hypothesis is that an injection of fresh water would dramatically reduce the meridional overturning circulation (MOC)-that is, the zonally integrated mass flux. An extensive literature (e.g., Manabe and Stouffer, 1999) has collected around this hypothesis and it has been the focus of numerous modeling efforts as well as being presented as "fact" to the public. Despite its intuitive appeal, there are a number of serious difficulties with it. That fresh water injection controls the North Atlantic circulation can be questioned from several points of view. First, existing climate models, which are the main tool that have been used to study the hypothesis, do not have the resolution, either vertical or horizontal, to properly compute the behavior of fresh water and its interaction with the underlying ocean and overlying atmosphere. Models of the modern ocean contain special, high resolution subcomponents designed to calculate mixed layer behavior (e.g., Price et al., 1986 and Large et al., 1994). Despite the great effort that has gone into them, systematic errors in calculating mixed layer properties remain. How these errors would accumulate in climate-scale models, with much less resolution is unknown. Second, some models also use a physically inappropriate surface boundary condition for salinity, leading to serious questions about the physical reality of the resulting flows (Huang, 1993).

Third, the models have almost always been run with fixed diffusion coefficients. A series of papers (Munk and Wunsch, 1998, Huang, 1993, Nilsson et al., 2003 and Wunsch and Ferrari, 2004) have noted that, (a) mixing coefficients have a profound influence on the circulation; (b) fixed mixing coefficients as the climate system shifts and/or as fresh water is added are very unlikely to be correct; (c) depending upon exactly how the mixing coefficients are modified, fresh water additions can actually increase the North Atlantic mass circulation (Nilsson et al., 2003). Finally (d), the prime mover of the ocean circulation, including its mixing coefficients as well as providing the major direct input of energy (Wunsch and Ferrari, 2004), is the wind. If one wishes to change the ocean circulation efficiently and very rapidly, all existing theory points to the wind field as the primary mechanism. Scenarios that postulate shifts in the ocean circulation leading to major climate changes (e.g., D-O events) imply important changes in the overlying wind field in response, with a consequent feedback (positive or negative). It is extremely difficult to evaluate proposals that the climate shifted owing to a "shutdown" of the MOC if no account is taken of how the overlying atmospheric winds would have responded. In any event, much of the temperature flux of the modern North Atlantic is carried in the Gulf Stream; scenarios requiring wind shifts sufficient to shut it down are likely a physical impossibility because of the need to conserve angular momentum in the atmosphere. Apparent correlations of the Greenland ?18O shifts with possible corresponding events in North Atlantic deep-sea cores (e.g., Bond et al., 1993) are rationalized most directly as reflecting oceanic circulation changes induced by moderate, acceptable, changing wind stress fields.

Coupled models that have been claimed to show atmospheric response to oceanic mass flux shifts do not themselves resolve the major property transport pathways of either ocean or atmosphere. Some of these models are of the "box" form, with as few as four parameters. More sophisticated models are commonly described as "intermediate complexity" ones; despite the label, they still lack adequate resolution and dynamical and physical components required for true realism. Little evidence exists that such simplified representations of the climate system can be integrated skillfully over the long periods required to describe true climatic time scales as both systematic and random errors accumulate.1 Whether dynamical thresholds in oversimplified models correspond to those in the enormously higher dimension real system also remains unproven. Combined with the resolution issue, one concludes that as yet, modeling studies neither support nor undermine the canonical scenario. They remain primarily as indicators of processes that can be operating, but with no evidence that they dominate.

Furthermore, there is no known simple relationship between the zonally integrated overturning stream function defining the MOC, and either the heat flux or the sea surface temperatures. Even if the MOC did weaken, there is no logical chain leading to the inference that the sea-surface temperatures must be reduced (although in some models, they are reduced).

Much of the evidence for "shutdown" deals with elements of the circulation that do not directly imply anything about shifts in heat flux or sea-surface temperature. Some of the inference concerns the net export of properties from the North Atlantic (e.g., Yu et al., 1996 for protactinium). But in the modern system (e.g., Ganachaud and Wunsch, 2002), estimation of the mean meridional property transport depends upon the property (temperature, oxygen, etc.) and the ability to calculate the integral of velocity times property concentration as a function of longitude and depth across the entire ocean basin. That is the net meridional property flux is,

Other evidence (e.g., Boyle, 1995 and Curry and Oppo, 2005) strongly supports the inference that the high latitude distribution of water masses has shifted through time-unsurprising in an ocean with a radically different overlying atmospheric state. The simplest, and widely accepted, interpretation of much of the data is, for example, that during the Last Glacial Maximum, the equivalent of North Atlantic Deep Water shifted upward in the water column. Displacement of a water mass and a change in its defining properties carries no information about changes in either its mass flux or temperature transport properties: they could separately or together increase, decrease or remain unchanged. Indeed, the export of some properties could increase and some simultaneously decrease, without any contradiction. If, as is widely believed, the North Atlantic Deep Water migrated upwards, its southward cold temperature transport could actually have increased if its mass flux increased correspondingly (no evidence exists one way or the other). Furthermore, because HC involves an integral over the entire water column, one also needs to understand the changes in properties and mass fluxes of all of the water masses making up the North Atlantic. Specific attention (e.g., Wunsch, 2003b) is called to the question of whether the southern component waters, with their extreme properties, were not more actively present in the North Atlantic during this time, probably because of an intensified, not a weakened, circulation. One cannot calculate oceanic heat fluxes without specifying a complete oceanic cross-section mass flux and temperature distribution.2

Postulate, however, that the scenario of a weakened MOC requires a reduced air/sea transfer of heat in the North Atlantic. What will the atmosphere do? The net outgoing radiation must balance the incoming, and so compensation for a reduced ocean heat transport must occur. It can occur by increasing the ocean heat transport somewhere else (the North Pacific?) with consequent changes in atmospheric circulation, or by having the atmosphere compensate, as it seems to be doing in Figure 10, or by quite different changes elsewhere (increased tropical albedo, for example). Will the Northern Hemisphere atmosphere warm on average? It seems foolhardy to speculate further at this time. What does seem clear is that the hypothesis of a reduced North Atlantic MOC produces at best a regional story, one whose global implications have to be determined using convincing global data and models.



The observational record supports at least one alternate interpretation of the D-O events as being primarily a central Greenland phenomenon, dependent for their existence upon the Laurentide and Fennoscandian ice sheets. A possible exception to this inference lies with the methane record of the Greenland ice cores, but the interpretation rests upon the sketchy knowledge of the behavior of glacial-period methane source and sink distributions. The primarily local interpretation implicates the wind field as the central element by which central Greenland temperatures change abruptly, and the mechanism by which larger-scale signatures would be carried to distant locations, including those induced by ocean circulation shifts under the changing wind system. Given the comparatively small contribution of the ocean to the high-latitude meridional flux of heat, it seems an unlikely primary stimulus of major climate shifts beyond the North Atlantic basin. It can readily operate as an integrator and as a transmitter of signals, but that is a different role.

Like the widely accepted view, this reinterpretation has not been demonstrated. But maintenance of an open mind is important when the data are so ambiguous. Several steps can be taken to reduce the uncertainty about how the D-O events were generated and manifested. The most important parameters, wind-direction and speed through time, may be beyond reach of the proxy record. But perhaps the search for such proxies will be rewarded (dust, sand dunes, pollen distributions). The question of the spatial extent and intensity of D-O events can be addressed by continuing efforts to reduce age model uncertainties. Existing oceanic 14C dates have an typical uncertainty of ñ300 yr, with a multi-valued structure, through much of this period-sufficiently wide that great freedom is available in adjusting records to apparently coincide. Interpretation of the methane signature in ice cores would be greatly strengthened by better understanding of how, and how rapidly, wetlands evolve under glacial conditions, and particularly with an ability to distinguish low and high latitude sources. Other gases detectable in ice cores (e.g., N20; see Fliikiger et al., 2004) might, if there is adequate knowledge of the changing source/sink distributions, shed light on the spatial extent question. The presence in other proxies of signals, perhaps convincingly, corresponding to remote manifestations of D-O events needs, however, to be interpreted very cautiously as they may be no more than measurable signals not corresponding to important local climate shifts: the analogy is drawn with remote detectability of modern Los Ni¤os (one might detect El Ni¤o signals over central Asia; they may not be of any importance).

Modeling efforts, with sufficient spatial resolution to respond to shifts in the ice orography, and to produce realistic feedbacks as begun by Jackson (2000) and Roe and Lindzen (2001), would be very informative. If interactions do not produce atmospheric flows exhibiting sustained multiple state shifts in the hemispheric standing wave patterns, then the hypothesis proposed here would be less attractive. Existing models are unlikely to have adequate skill when integrated over the thousands of years required to understand D-O type events, given the propensity, as the duration of the computation increases, of all models to accumulate random and systematic errors.

Finally, a better understanding of how the global ocean and atmosphere conspire to maintain outgoing radiation sufficient to balance the incoming component would be very helpful in understanding how the coupled system actually behaves.


Prof. Brignell's comments on the latest pack of official British lies are reproduced below

Some people get upset when you use the L word. They find it unduly provocative and therefore counterproductive. But what other word is there for the creation of an elaborate structure of deliberate falsehoods and exaggerations designed to bamboozle the public into a baseless panic? The British Government has issued a "new" report. It was described across the media as more bad news about global warming: yet it was recycled from something that got full blown coverage last year. Number Watch covered it in a piece entitled A tale of two conferences. Your bending author paid to attend one conference out of his meagre pension, including the rail fare and a modest buffet, but the galling aspect is that he also paid for the other through extortionate taxes, covering elaborate banquets and all the other benefits of a Government sponsored jamboree. Benny Peiser bravely attended both and gave us his depressing account of the second.

This recycling a year after the event is a typical ploy by the Green establishment, but you have to hand it to them. They never miss a trick. We have seen them take over international organisations, media outlets (including the once fiercely independent BBC) and major scientific journals, such as the once great Nature. But who would have given them a chance of taking over the British Conservative Party in a bloodless coup? Yet they have done just that! Any bookie would have given you a million to one against only a year ago. Unfortunately, one of the more tragic errors of Margaret Thatcher was to ignore the party in the country. The arrogance that accompanies a large majority was responsible for this, and we can see the same thing happening on the other side now. The best people left, one by one, and the world's most efficient electoral machine was allowed to wither away. The remaining rump were mostly lifeless and incompetent. In their panic they bought a pig in a poke, with the result that they lost control of their party to a faction (the Green Toffs) that was an offence to everything in which they believed. The new leadership demands absolute loyalty and democracy be damned.

What is not generally known is that an iron curtain has descended around the Conservative Party. All debate is suppressed. Would-be candidates who have given their all to the cause are told "If you are white, male and middle class, forget it!" Not only policy, but party procedures are handed down from on high. MPs, MEPs and ministers stay silent, in fear for their jobs.

All this is, of course, rather unnerving for the Great Leader. He chose to ride the Green tiger and, despite all his prevarication, is having to face up to the consequences, such as the disastrous energy policy that has opened him to blackmail by the ex-KGB man in the Kremlin.

Yet the Government have decided to issue a report on the basis of that year-old conference, whose outcome was decided before it even opened. It recycles many of the ludicrous extrapolations that were already fully covered a year ago. The people who cannot tell us what the weather is going to be next week can predict sea levels in a thousand years time. And not, of course, one mention of water vapour, the only important greenhouse gas.

Why do they do it? The answer was of course given to us by that great seer H L Mencken, quoted here only last month:

The art of practical politics is to keep the public in a state of constant alarm by menacing it with hobgoblins, both real and imagined, - so making people clamorous to be led to safety.


Below is the BBC promotion for the report discussed above by Brignell. But it sadly notes that the UK government has recently changed course and no longer buys the panic scenario

Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases may have more serious impacts than previously believed, a major new scientific report has said. The report, published by the UK government, says there is only a small chance of greenhouse gas emissions being kept below "dangerous" levels. It fears the Greenland ice sheet is likely to melt, leading sea levels to rise by seven metres over 1,000 years. The poorest countries will be most vulnerable to these effects, it adds. The report, "Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change", collates evidence presented by scientists at a conference hosted by the UK Meteorological Office in February 2005.

The conference set two principal objectives: to ask what level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is too much, and what are the options for avoiding such levels? Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett said the report's conclusions would be a shock to many people. "The thing that is perhaps not so familiar to members of the public... is this notion that we could come to a tipping point where change could be irreversible," she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "We're not talking about it happening over five minutes, of course, maybe over a thousand years, but it's the irreversibility that I think brings it home to people."

One collection of scientific papers sets out the impacts associated with various levels of temperature increase. "Above a one degree Celsius increase, risks increase significantly, often rapidly for vulnerable ecosystems and species," concludes Bill Hare from the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research in Germany, who produced an overview of more than 70 studies of impacts on water resources, agriculture and wildlife. "In the one to two degree range, risks across the board increase significantly, and at a regional level are often substantial," he writes. "Above two degrees the risks increase very substantially, involving potentially large numbers of extinctions or even ecosystem collapses, major increases in hunger and water shortage risks as well as socio-economic damages, particularly in developing countries."

The European Union has adopted a target of preventing a rise in global average temperature of more than two Celsius. That, according to the report, might be too high, with two degrees perhaps being enough to trigger melting of the Greenland ice sheet. This would have a major impact on sea levels globally, though it would take up to 1,000 years to see the full predicted rise of seven metres. The western half of the much larger Antarctic ice sheet is also causing concern to the British Antarctic Survey, whose head Chris Rapley describes it as a "sleeping giant". Previous assessments had concluded the ice here was unlikely to melt in significant amounts in the foreseeable future; but Professor Rapley says that question needs revisiting in the light of new evidence.

A key task undertaken by some scientists contributing to the report was to calculate which greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere would be enough to cause these "dangerous" temperature increases. Currently, the atmosphere contains about 380 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas, compared to levels before the industrial revolution of about 275ppm. "For achieving the two Celsius target with a probability of more than 60%, greenhouse gas concentrations need to be stabilised at 450 ppm CO2-equivalent or below," conclude Michel den Elzen from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Malte Meinshausen of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research. "A stabilisation at 450 ppm CO2-equivalent requires global emissions to peak around 2015, followed by substantial overall reductions in the order of 30%-40% compared to 1990 levels in 2050."

But, speaking on Today, the UK government's chief scientific advisor Sir David King said that is unlikely to happen. "We're going to be at 400 parts per million in 10 years time, I predict that without any delight in saying it," he said. "But no country is going to turn off a power station which is providing much-desired energy for its population to tackle this problem - we have to accept that. "To aim for 450 (ppm) would, I am afraid, seem unfeasible."

A rise of two Celsius, researchers conclude, will be enough to cause:

* Decreasing crop yields in the developing and developed world
* Tripling of poor harvests in Europe and Russia
* Large-scale displacement of people in north Africa from desertification
* Up to 2.8bn people at risk of water shortage
* 97% loss of coral reefs
* Total loss of summer Arctic sea ice causing extinction of the polar bear and the walrus
* Spread of malaria in Africa and north America

But Miles Allen, a lecturer on atmospheric physics at Oxford University, said assessing a "safe level" of CO2 in the atmosphere was "a bit like asking a doctor what's a safe number of cigarettes to smoke per day". "There isn't one but at the same time people do smoke and live until they're 90," he told Today. "It's one of those difficult areas where we're talking about changing degrees of risk rather than a very definite number after which we can say with absolute certainty that certain things will happen."

More here


Including that NASA guy. For someone who was gagged, he is pretty talkative. See below. Extreme assumptions (I was going to highlight all the "ifs" in red but it looked too big a job) all round, of course. Note that their assumptions concerning the Gulf stream are contradicted by the article leading today's posts on this blog.

There is a skeptical Early-English saying still sometimes heard today that is very relevant to the prophecies of doom below: "If ifs and ans were pots and pans, there'd be no room for tinkers". In Middle English and Early New English, "an" was a synonym for "if" (Cognate with the German "wenn"). A tinker, of course, used to repair pots and pans. But you would not find that out from a modern literary education, of course. Only specialist linguists and old guys like me now know that stuff.

"Now that most scientists agree human activity is causing Earth to warm, the central debate has shifted to whether climate change is progressing so rapidly that, within decades, humans may be helpless to slow or reverse the trend. This "tipping point" scenario has begun to consume many prominent researchers in the United States and abroad, because the answer could determine how drastically countries need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. While scientists remain uncertain when such a point might occur, many say it is urgent that policymakers cut global carbon dioxide emissions in half over the next 50 years or risk the triggering of changes that would be irreversible.

There are three specific events that these scientists describe as especially worrisome and potentially imminent, although the time frames are a matter of dispute: widespread coral bleaching that could damage the world's fisheries within three decades; dramatic sea level rise by the end of the century that would take tens of thousands of years to reverse; and, within 200 years, a shutdown of the ocean current that moderates temperatures in northern Europe.

The debate has been intensifying because Earth is warming much faster than some researchers had predicted. James E. Hansen, who directs NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies, last week confirmed that 2005 was the warmest year on record, surpassing 1998. Earth's average temperature has risen nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past 30 years, he noted, and another increase of about 4 degrees over the next century would "imply changes that constitute practically a different planet." "It's not something you can adapt to," Hansen said in an interview. "We can't let it go on another 10 years like this. We've got to do something."

Princeton University geosciences and international affairs professor Michael Oppenheimer, who also advises the advocacy group Environmental Defense, said one of the greatest dangers lies in the disintegration of the Greenland or West Antarctic ice sheets, which together hold about 20 percent of the fresh water on the planet. If either of the two sheets disintegrates, sea level could rise nearly 20 feet in the course of a couple of centuries, swamping the southern third of Florida and Manhattan up to the middle of Greenwich Village.

While both the Greenland and the Antarctic ice sheets as a whole are gaining some mass in their cold interiors because of increasing snowfall, they are losing ice along their peripheries. That indicates that scientists may have underestimated the rate of disintegration they face in the future, Oppenheimer said. Greenland's current net ice loss is equivalent to an annual 0.008 inch sea level rise. The effects of the collapse of either ice sheet would be "huge," Oppenheimer said. "Once you lost one of these ice sheets, there's really no putting it back for thousands of years, if ever."

Last year, the British government sponsored a scientific symposium on "Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change," which examined a number of possible tipping points. A book based on that conference, due to be published Tuesday, suggests that disintegration of the two ice sheets becomes more likely if average temperatures rise by more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit, a prospect "well within the range of climate change projections for this century."

The report concludes that a temperature rise of just 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit "is likely to lead to extensive coral bleaching," destroying critical fish nurseries in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. Too-warm sea temperatures stress corals, causing them to expel symbiotic micro-algae that live in their tissues and provide them with food, and thus making the reefs appear bleached. Bleaching that lasts longer than a week can kill corals. This fall there was widespread bleaching from Texas to Trinidad that killed broad swaths of corals, in part because ocean temperatures were 2 degrees Fahrenheit above average monthly maximums.

Many scientists are also worried about a possible collapse of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation, a current that brings warm surface water to northern Europe and returns cold, deep-ocean water south. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, who directs Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, has run multiple computer models to determine when climate change could disrupt this "conveyor belt," which, according to one study, is already slower than it was 30 years ago. According to these simulations, there is a 50 percent chance the current will collapse within 200 years.

Some scientists, including President Bush's chief science adviser, John H. Marburger III, emphasize there is still much uncertainty about when abrupt global warming might occur. "There's no agreement on what it is that constitutes a dangerous climate change," said Marburger, adding that the U.S. government spends $2 billion a year on researching this and other climate change questions. "We know things like this are possible, but we don't have enough information to quantify the level of risk."

This tipping point debate has stirred controversy within the administration; Hansen said senior political appointees are trying to block him from sharing his views publicly. When Hansen posted data on the Internet in the fall suggesting that 2005 could be the warmest year on record, NASA officials ordered Hansen to withdraw the information because he had not had it screened by the administration in advance, according to a Goddard scientist who spoke on the condition of anonymity. More recently, NASA officials tried to discourage a reporter from interviewing Hansen for this article and later insisted he could speak on the record only if an agency spokeswoman listened in on the conversation. "They're trying to control what's getting out to the public," Hansen said, adding that many of his colleagues are afraid to talk about the issue. "They're not willing to say much, because they've been pressured and they're afraid they'll get into trouble."

But Mary L. Cleave, deputy associate administrator for NASA's Office of Earth Science, said the agency insists on monitoring interviews with scientists to ensure they are not misquoted. "People could see it as a constraint," Cleave said. "As a manager, I might see it as protection."

John R. Christy, director of the Earth Science System Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, said it is possible increased warming will be offset by other factors, such as increased cloudiness that would reflect more sunlight. "Whatever happens, we will adapt to it," Christy said.

Scientists who read the history of Earth's climate in ancient sediments, ice cores and fossils find clear signs that it has shifted abruptly in the past on a scale that could prove disastrous for modern society. Peter B. deMenocal, an associate professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, said that about 8,200 years ago, a very sudden cooling shut down the Atlantic conveyor belt. As a result, the land temperature in Greenland dropped more than 9 degrees Fahrenheit within a decade or two. "It's not this abstract notion that happens over millions of years," deMenocal said. "The magnitude of what we're talking about greatly, greatly exceeds anything we've withstood in human history."

These kinds of concerns have spurred some governments to make major cuts in the carbon dioxide emissions linked to global warming. Britain has slashed its emissions by 14 percent, compared with 1990 levels, and aims to reduce them by 60 percent by 2050. Some European countries, however, are lagging well behind their targets under the international Kyoto climate treaty.

David Warrilow, who heads science policy on climate change for Britain's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said that while the science remains unsettled, his government has decided to take a precautionary approach. He compared consuming massive amounts of fossil fuels to the strategy of the Titanic's crew, who were unable to avoid an iceberg because they were speeding across the Atlantic in hopes of breaking a record. "We know there are icebergs out there, but at the moment we're accelerating toward the tipping point," Warrilow said in an interview. "This is silly. We should be doing the opposite, slowing down whilst we build up our knowledge base."

The Bush administration espouses a different approach. Marburger said that though everyone agrees carbon dioxide emissions should decline, the United States prefers to promote cleaner technology rather than impose mandatory greenhouse gas limits. "The U.S. is the world leader in doing something on climate change because of its actions on changing technology," he said.

Stanford University climatologist Stephen H. Schneider, who is helping oversee a major international assessment of how climate change could expose humans and the environment to new vulnerabilities, said countries respond differently to the global warming issue in part because they are affected differently by it. The small island nation of Kiribati is made up of 33 small atolls, none of which is more than 6.5 feet above the South Pacific, and it is only a matter of time before the entire country is submerged by the rising sea. "For Kiribati, the tipping point has already occurred," Schneider said. "As far as they're concerned, it's tipped, but they have no economic clout in the world."



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

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