Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Australia's Barrier Reef extinct in 20 years: Stupid Greenie claim

Odd that coral reefs have survived all the past warming episodes in Earth's history! Odd that coral thrives most in the WARMER waters of Northern Australia! The reef is thousands of kilometres long and stretches from barely warm waters in the South to very warm waters in the North. So it clearly can handle large temperature variations. Coral is mainly tropical. It LIKES warmth! What barefaced lies Greenies tell!

The Great Barrier Reef will become functionally extinct in less than 20 years if global warming continues at its current pace, a draft international report warns. A confidential draft of the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), obtained by Melbourne's The Age newspaper, says that global warming will cause billions of dollars of damage to coastal areas, key ecosystems and the farming sector without massive greenhouse gas emission cuts.

In a chapter on Australia, the draft IPCC climate impacts report warns that coral bleaching in the Barrier Reef is likely to occur annually by 2030 because of warmer, more acidic seas. The reef is one of several iconic areas of Australia identified in the report as key hot spots for climate vulnerability. Others include the Kakadu National Park's wetlands, the Murray-Darling Basin and alpine zones in southern Australia.

Australian Conservation Foundation executive director Don Henry said the report was a big wake-up call. "They are saying our beloved Barrier Reef is at grave risk," Mr Henry told Sky News. "We've got a major economic and environmental problem unless we heed the call of these scientists. "I think the science is getting clearer about how just how serious and urgent it is."



The German car industry has warned that there will be massive job cuts if Brussels sets binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, the German EU presidency is strongly divided over the issue itself. In a letter quoted by Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper over the weekend, the chiefs of BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Ford, Opel and Volkswagen have strongly urged the commission to withdraw plans to make manufacturers reduce the CO2 emissions of new cars sold in the EU to an average of 120 grammes per km in 2012.

The commission plans originate from Greek environment commissioner Stavros Dimas but are opposed by Germany's industry commissioner Guenther Verheugen, with the commission last week deciding to delay a decision on the issue due to a lack of consensus between commissioners.

In a bid to influence Brussels' final position over the issue - expected to emerge in the coming weeks - German car producers have now sketched a grim scenario which would see a huge loss of manufacturing jobs from Europe to elsewhere in the world. According to their letter, Mr Dimas' scheme would mean "a massive industry-political intervention at the expense of the car industry in Europe as a whole, but particularly in Germany."

Mr Dimas believes binding legislation is necessary since car makers failed to meet their voluntary commitments, made in 2004, to reduce emissions to an industry average of 140 g per km by 2008. The issue has meanwhile exposed a deep political rift also within the German government which currently chairs the EU. Economy minister Michael Glos - a conservative - is backing the car industry and Mr Verhuegen, while environment minister Sigmar Gabriel - a social democrat - is supporting the Dimas camp. Mr Glos over the weekend publicly fell out with Mr Gabriel, telling Bild am Sonntag "The plans, conducted by Greek EU commissioner Dimas and environment minister Sigmar Gabriel against the German car industry, have to be urgently stopped."

Mr Gabriel told Brussels journalists last week that binding legislation against CO2 emissions is necessary, with Die Welt quoting his spokesman as saying Mr Glos should have a look at the 2005 German coalition agreement which apparently backs up the environment minister's position. It is not the first time that the two ministers clash over EU measures against climate change, with Mr Gabriel last week also rejecting a suggestion by Mr Glos that Germany should take the commission to court over emission quotas for German industry under the EU's Emission Trading Scheme (ETS).

Brussels in November last year decided to slash Berlin's allowances to emit greenhouse gasses under the scheme, prompting Mr Glos to look at the possibilities of suing Brussels at the European Court of Justice. Mr Gabriel said however last week that Mr Glos' suggestion would undermine the German EU presidency's goal of fighting climate change.



Europeans have set themselves up for a head-on collision between ecological purity and economic reality. With Congress poised to enact heavy-handed climate legislation, the U.S. may be doing likewise. Europe is finally realizing it cannot meet even current Kyoto Protocol commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions 5 percent below 1990 levels, by 2012. Economic ministers are worried Kyoto will impact living standards, and send facilities and jobs to China and India, which aren't required to cut emissions.

Spain is some 20 percent above its target, Italy 15 percent -- Austria 25 percent. Germany is "just" 7 percent above its target but faces a future with no nuclear power (by law it must shut down all reactors by 2020), no coal-fired generators (greenhouse gases), little hydroelectric (4 percent of its total electricity), unreliable natural gas (Russia controls the spigots), and forests of gigantic, undependable wind turbines.

But the European Commission wants still more draconian reductions by 2020, since even perfect compliance with Kyoto would keep global temperatures from rising only 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050. That's why alarmists now say we must slash total global emissions by 60 percent to 80 percent by 2050, to keep CO2 at a "safe" level and "stabilize" a climate that has never been stable.

If poor developing nations remain exempt (as they should), developed countries will have to go virtually carbon-free to reach this goal. How will Americans slash their energy use and emissions 40, 60 or 95 percent? Such policies would change life as we know it. They would give alarmist politicians, bureaucrats and activists a leading role in every housing, heating, cooling, transportation, manufacturing, agricultural, business and consumer decision. They would terminate millions of jobs, cost hundreds of billions of dollars, and send living standards tumbling, while giving every U.S. citizen a "carbon allowance" akin to what other parts of the world now "enjoy" (2.3 tons of CO2 per year in Cuba or 1.2 in India, versus our current 19.8 or Canada's 17.9). The elderly and minority workers and families would be especially hard-hit. Deaths from winter cold and summer heat waves would soar, as energy prices rise and heating and air-conditioning become luxury items.

Other than fossil fuels, no technologies exist to provide the 100,000 megawatts of new electricity the U.S. will need during the next decade. Nuclear plants can't come online that quickly, and even the best wind turbines would require some 2 million acres (Delaware plus Rhode Island) to provide 100,000 megawatts of intermittent electricity that requires gas-powered generators (and drilling off our coasts) as backup.

Europe already has green taxes on air travel, a $50-a-day climate charge on big cars in London -- and a proposed "food miles" tax on the distance produce is shipped. Rainforest Action and CERES already pressure U.S. banks not to finance coal generators, dams and fossil fuel projects in the U.S. or Africa. Calling it "socially responsible," compliant banks cave in.

Efforts to restrict energy and economic development in Africa are "literally a life-and-death matter" for tens of millions, says University of Pretoria Emeritus Professor W.J.R. Alexander. "We can do without this resurgence of European colonialism and paternalism."

Yes, there is consensus that Earth's temperatures have risen slightly, and humans played a role. There is no consensus that climate change will be catastrophic, human CO2 emissions are the primary cause, or slashing emissions will prevent the supposed cataclysm.

It's a classic bait-and-switch tactic, repeated endlessly by activists, scientists, journalists, bureaucrats, celebrities and politicians. They used similar tactics 35 years ago to excise DDT and other insecticides from disease control programs. Tens of millions died from malaria -- and none of the perpetrators have ever apologized, admitted error or been held accountable for the unconscionable disease, brain damage and death they perpetuated. Now they say we should trust them on climate change.

More here


With debate building about nuclear energy as an alternative, greenhouse-friendly power source, Australia has a new nuclear reactor - and it's already up and running. The new OPAL reactor replaces the old HIFAR facility at Lucas Heights, south of Sydney, which will be officially decommissioned today. OPAL is loaded with uranium and will produce 20 megawatts of power - enough for a small town - when it's fully operational.

But it's not the power plant Prime Minister John Howard said he'd be happy to have in his backyard while recently arguing the merits of nuclear energy. The OPAL reactor will be used for medical, industrial and research purposes, rather than cooking your dinner or running your air-conditioner. Its cooling water just isn't hot enough to drive a steam turbine and generate electricity. "I suppose you could have a shower with it but that's about all," said Ron Cameron, director of operations at the Lucas Heights research station run by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

So if it isn't powering our cities, what's Australia getting from this $350 million reactor? Neutrons, according to ANSTO. Neutrons are the key to nuclear fission - when a uranium atom splits in two, it releases a load of energy and it also releases two neutrons. If these neutrons collide with another uranium atom, that atom splits as well, releasing another two neutrons, and so on, producing a chain reaction. In a nuclear power station, it's the energy that's harvested. But in a research reactor such as OPAL, it's the neutrons. "We have one of the most consistent neutron fluxes in the world. We have a very high reliability," Dr Cameron said. That reliability has given ANSTO about 15 per cent of the world market for processing the silicon chips that go inside electronic items from mobile phones to supercomputers.

But whether it's for research or power, critics question the risks of running a nuclear reactor in Sydney's backyard - such as a meltdown which potentially releases radioactive contamination into the environment. Dr Cameron said there was very little risk of that happening with OPAL because it operates at a low temperature, as opposed to power-producing reactors which run at higher temperatures, with a minimum of three people monitoring it at all times.

ANSTO is somewhat less keen to talk about the disadvantages of a nuclear reactor, but Dr Cameron admitted that over its 40-year life, OPAL will generate several cubic metres of high-level waste, which it intends to store in a remote location in the Northern Territory. Intermediate-level waste, produced in the manufacture and handling of radioisotopes, will be stored in a building the size of a small house. For many, the question remains whether that's an acceptable price to pay for the claimed medical, scientific and industrial benefits of a research reactor. A nuclear power station will produce hundreds of tonnes of waste.



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007


The perfectly obvious statement that freaks them: "the Antarctic ice sheet will remain too cold for widespread surface melting and is expected to gain in mass due to increased snowfall". Apparently they don't know that the antarctic temperature is WAY below zero so even BIG global warming would not bring it up to melting point

Serious disagreement has broken out among scientists over a United Nations climate report's contention that the world's greatest wilderness - Antarctica - will be largely unaffected by rising world temperatures.

The report, to be published on Friday, will be one of the most comprehensive on climate change to date, and will paint a grim picture of future changes to the planet's weather patterns. Details of the report were first revealed by The Observer last weekend. However, many researchers believe it does not go far enough. In particular, they say it fails to stress that climate change is already having a severe impact on the continent and will continue to do so for the rest of century. At least a quarter of the sea ice around Antarctica will disappear in that time, say the critics, though this forecast is not mentioned in the study.

One expert denounced the report - by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC - as 'misleading'. Another accused the panel of 'failing to give the right impression' about the impact that rising levels of carbon dioxide will have on Antarctica.

Antarctica possesses the Earth's greatest mass of ice and acts as an engine that drives the globe's weather systems. Disturbances to Antarctica could have wide repercussions. If all its ice were to melt, sea levels round the world would rise by 70 metres. The fate of that continent crucially affects the fate of the planet, and according to scientists at the British Antarctic Survey it is already being affected by global warming. 'The greatest temperature rise on Earth over the past five decades has been found on the Antarctic peninsula, which stretches north from the continent towards South America,' said Dr John Turner. 'Temperatures have risen 5C on the peninsula.' That figure is 10 times the average global temperature rise for the same period. [So it's not a global phenomenon after all??]

In addition, researchers reported last October that in just over a month, an entire Antarctic ice shelf, bigger than Gloucestershire, had disintegrated and disappeared, with its loss directly linked to man-made global warming. [While central antarctica GAINED mass]. Yet there is no mention of these events in the draft version of the panel's report obtained by this newspaper. It paints a broad picture of how carbon emissions will alter global temperatures, which will rise by between 3C to 5C by the end of the century, triggering storms of increasing severity, the acidification of seas and the spreading of deserts.

But when it comes to certain types of climate change, especially those concerned with Antarctica, the report is fairly coy. 'Current global studies project the Antarctic ice sheet will remain too cold for widespread surface melting and is expected to gain in mass due to increased snowfall,' states the draft version of the report.

But this vision is disputed. Last year, Dr Turner and colleagues, using records returned by Russian research balloons that were flown over the whole of Antarctica between 1971 and 2003, discovered that temperatures in the lowest level of the atmosphere over the continent have already risen by about 0.7C. Their paper, in Science, was published in March, too late for inclusion in the IPCC's deliberation. Other factors - including the expected disappearance of the Antarctic ozone hole, which has had a cooling effect on the continent - will lead to a further rise of 5C-6C over parts of the continent over the rest of the century.

Critics point out that the IPCC is a conservative body whose documents are a co-operative effort, with contributions from hundreds of scientists. Only points that are considered indisputable by all of them are included. This consensus deflects potential accusations that the body might be exaggerating the threat to the planet. But the critics say it also means its documents tend to err too much on the side of caution. 'From what I hear of the report, it seems misleading to suggest nothing much is going to happen to the Antarctic over the coming decades,' said Dr Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey. 'Some parts of the continents are already losing substantial amounts of ice and others will in future - and that will have direct consequences for the rest of the planet.'



An Inconvenient Truth, the hugely influential documentary starring Al Gore, is a shoo-in for an Oscar. Its riveting depictions of violent storms, collapsing ice mountains and parched deserts have scared millions of people into believing that the world faces a catastrophic fate unless we make dramatic changes to our way of life, starting now. Climate change has made its way onto the agenda of every developed nation, even the United States, where some of the nation's biggest businesses, including energy companies, are pressing the government to take action. It even figured in George W. Bush's State of the Union speech this week. And next week the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will unleash another storm of headlines when it releases its latest consensus of scientific findings, stressing even more emphatically that human activity is causing global temperatures to rise.

Is the sky really falling? How fast and how hard? And if the vast majority of scientists agree, then why don't governments act? After all, nobody wants the world to melt. If you're an average, concerned citizen, no one will blame you for being confused or angry. The global-warming debate has become so shrill, so political and so polarized that it's impossible for even a reasonably well-informed person to figure out who or what to believe. Only one thing is for sure: Science isn't all that is driving this debate. Politics, ideology and scaremongering are too.

Because I'm skeptical by nature, I've always discounted the environmental catastrophists. Their message is religious, not rational. But I've also spoken to enough brainy scientists to conclude that human activity is affecting the climate and that global warming is for real. That's the famous consensus you keep hearing about. But that's where the consensus ends. Beyond that, the science is very far from settled.

Scientists themselves are deeply split about how alarmed we should be, the nature of the threats we face, how imminent those threats are and what to do about them. For apocalyptic predictions, you need only look to the bestseller list. Tim Flannery ( The Weather Makers) and George Monbiot ( Heat) both warn that civilization will collapse if we do nothing. So does Canada's David Suzuki. In Britain, James Lovelock argues that the Earth has already caught a "morbid fever," and that "we are in a fool's climate and before this century is over billions of us will die."

But many scientists are alarmed at the alarmism, and warn that catastrophic scenarios like the ones in Al Gore's film have pushed the science way too far. Kevin Vranes, a climate scientist who specializes in ocean/climate physics and water-resources management, has said, "Some of us are wondering if we have created a monster." Last fall, Professor Mike Hulme, the founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Britain, wrote a damning condemnation of climate alarmism: "Over the past few years, a new environmental phenomenon has been constructed in this country - the phenomenon of 'catastrophic' climate change," he wrote. "The increasing use of this term and its bedfellow qualifiers 'chaotic,' 'irreversible' and 'rapid' has altered the public discourse, [which] is now characterized by phrases such as 'irreversible tipping in the Earth's climate' and 'we are at the point of no return.' "

Prof. Hulme is no climate skeptic. He was the co-ordinating lead author of the chapter on "climate-change scenarios" for the last IPCC report in 2001. To try to get a grip, I checked in with eight leading climate scientists, climate economists and climate-policy analysts. All believe that man-made climate change is a serious issue that demands action. And all reject the extremists at both ends. They represent the broad middle ground - the people whose voices have been all but drowned out by the shouting. The first thing they stress is that while climate change is certain, what will actually happen is not. For example, scientists are pretty sure that sea levels will rise, and rising seas will pose a threat to coastal areas. But how much will they rise, and how fast, and where will they rise most? Sorry. Science can't tell you that.

More here


If you've been lifting intellectual weights and taking extra runs around the science track to build mental stamina for next Friday's release of the much-hyped 1,600-page science report on climate change, you can now take it easy. There will be no report. You will not need to know about or read any science, because there will be no science. Instead, we are going to get a few ginned-up pages of generalized political scaremongering.

The advance billing for the report has been immense and spectacular. It's the Fourth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, five years in the making and jam-packed with scientific, technical, social and economic research into climate change. According to the usual sources, this latest official United Nations' science project, billions of dollars in the making, is the "smoking gun" that leaves no doubt that humans are the cause of a major wave of climate warming that is set to engulf the world over the next 100 years. "The smoking gun is definitely lying on the table as we speak," said Jerry Mahlman, a U.S. government scientist and long-time proponent of climate change theory. "The evidence ... is compelling." The University of Victoria's Andrew Weaver, official Canadian government climate modeller --and the CBC's go-to scientist for suggestive but unproven links between bad weather and climate change --blew himself right out the galaxy over the Fourth Assessment Report. "This isn't a smoking gun; climate is a battalion of intergalactic smoking missiles." Somebody else said the report to be released in Paris on Friday contained an "explosion of new data."

All of this, however, is just the usual stage-managed showmanship that surrounds all climate science. First of all, what we are going to get on Friday is not the smoking gun, but the smoke without the gun, an explosion of data without the data, an intergalactic blast that never gets off the ground, the proof without the evidence. Despite all the advance promotion, the full 1,600-page report will remain in quarantine, embargoed and locked up in secrecy for another two months. While the science remains shrouded in secrecy and subject to leaks and speculation, the IPCC will stage a major event, webcast to a world that's been whipped into a frenzy of anticipation. Live on the Web, officials will produce a brief 12-page document called the "Summary for Policymakers." Everything else, including the official summary of the science in the assessment report, will be kept under wraps.

Here's the official IPCC release plan: Next week in Paris, behind closed doors, the IPCC will give final approval to the 1,600-page report. At the end of the sessions on Friday, the panel will release the brief "Summary for Policymakers." Then, for the next two months, the IPCC will subject the 1,600 pages of heavy science to "the final stages of review and revision to be carried out in a balanced way." This will take two months, with the final report to be released in May. What do they review and balance? The words in the IPCC process document are not encouraging. "Changes ... made after acceptance by the working group or the panel shall be those necessary to ensure consistency with the 'Summary for Policymakers' or the overview chapter."

Steve McIntyre, the Canadian statistics expert who blew the whistle on the IPCC's junk-science creation -- the 1,000-year-old climate record, the infamous hockey stick -- reads those words to mean the IPCC will go through the science to get the science to back up the summary. "IPCC insiders should not be allowed to change a comma of the [final] report after Feb. 2," he says. We have, therefore, an extraordinary operating scheme in which brief sensational summary statements are produced, while the basis for the summary is kept confidential so they can get the science to correspond to the summary.

More here

Why America's big businesses are warming to Kyoto

Washington this week officially welcomed the newest industry on the hunt for financial and regulatory favors. Big CarbonCap may have the same dollar-sign agenda as Big Oil or Big Pharma, but don't expect Nancy Pelosi to admit to it. Democrats want to flog the global warming theme through 2008 and they'll take what help they can get, even if it means cozying up to executives whose goal is to enrich their firms. Right now, the corporate giants calling for a mandatory carbon cap serve too useful a political purpose for anyone to delve into their baser motives.

The Climate Action Partnership, a group of 10 major companies that made headlines this week with its call for a national limit on carbon dioxide emissions, would surely feign shock at such an accusation. After all, their plea was carefully timed to coincide with President Bush's State of the Union capitulation on global warming, and it had the desired PR effect. The media dutifully declared that "even" business now recognized the climate threat. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who begins marathon hearings on warming next week, lauded the corporate angels for thinking of the "common good."

There was a time when the financial press understood that companies exist to make money. And it happens that the cap-and-trade climate program these 10 jolly green giants are now calling for is a regulatory device designed to financially reward companies that reduce CO2 emissions, and punish those that don't. Four of the affiliates--Duke, PG&E, FPL and PNM Resources--are utilities that have made big bets on wind, hydroelectric and nuclear power. So a Kyoto program would reward them for simply enacting their business plan, and simultaneously sock it to their competitors. Duke also owns Cinergy, which relies heavily on dirty, CO2-emitting coal plants. But Cinergy will soon have to replace those plants with cleaner equipment. Under a Kyoto, it'll get paid for its trouble.

DuPont has been plunging into biofuels, the use of which would soar under a cap. Somebody has to cobble together all these complex trading deals, so say hello to Lehman Brothers. Caterpillar has invested heavily in new engines that generate "clean energy." British Petroleum is mostly doing public penance for its dirty oil habit, but also gets a plug for its own biofuels venture.

Finally, there's General Electric, whose CEO Jeffrey Immelt these days spends as much time in Washington as Connecticut. GE makes all the solar equipment and wind turbines (at $2 million a pop) that utilities would have to buy under a climate regime. GE's revenue from environmental products long ago passed the $10 billion mark, and it doesn't take much "ecomagination" to see why Mr. Immelt is leading the pack of climate profiteers.

CEOs are quick learners, and even those who would get smacked by a carbon cap are now devising ways to make warming work to their political advantage. The "most creative" prize goes to steel giant Nucor. Steven Rowlan, the company's environmental director, doesn't want carbon caps in the U.S.--oh, no. The smarter answer, he explains, would be for the U.S. to impose trade restrictions on foreign firms that aren't environmentally clean. Global warming as foil for trade protectionism: Chuck Schumer's dream.

What makes this lobby worse than the usual K-Street crowd is that it offers no upside. At least when Big Pharma self-interestedly asks for fewer regulations, the economy benefits. There's nothing capitalist about lobbying for a program that foists its debilitating costs on taxpayers and consumers while redistributing the wealth to a few corporate players.

This is what comes from Washington steadily backstepping energy policy into the interventionist 1970s, picking winners and losers. In ethanol, in biodiesel, in wind farms, success isn't a function of supply or demand. The champs are the ones that coax out of Washington the best subsidies and regulations. Global warming is simply the biggest trough yet.

Both Republicans and Democrats understand this debate is increasingly about home-state economics, even as they publicly joust about environmental rights or wrongs. The softening Republican stance on a mandatory program is one result. New Mexico's Pete Domenici appeared to undergo an epiphany about global warming in 2005, voting for a Senate resolution supporting caps. The switch might have more to do with remembering that his state is nuclear-power central, and will win big under a new program. Just ask his fellow New Mexican, Jeff Bingaman, who introduced the resolution.

Economic interests also motivate those Democrats who won't play nice. The senators who have voted against previous bills represent those industries that will suffer most under Mr. Immelt's agenda. Louisiana's Mary Landrieu (oil); Montana's Max Baucus (coal); West Virginia's Robert Byrd (ditto). House Energy & Commerce Chair John Dingell remains a skeptic, since the last thing his Michigan auto makers need is yet another reason for people to not buy their cars. Which is fine with Ms. Pelosi. The Democratic leadership ran out of the winner's circle last November promising to tackle climate. And much was made this week of Madam Speaker's decision to wrest control of the debate away from Mr. Dingell's purview, handing it instead to a new "select" committee on climate change.

But read the fine print. The new vaunted committee will have no legislative authority, but exists solely to hold hearings and to "communicate with the American people." Ms. Pelosi and Harry Reid want to talk about this issue . . . and talk, and talk and talk. But not necessarily anything more. That's because Democrats want global warming as an issue through 2008. With Al Gore getting his Oscar nod, they've got a "problem" that captures the public imagination, as well as an endless supply of cash from thrilled environmental groups. No need to spoil it with a solution. And a Democratic president in 2009 would be more open to any ultimate legislation. Best yet, they've got the "support" of the business community, or at least the savvier elements of it. Welcome, Big CarbonCap; we're likely to be hearing a lot from you.



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Calif. Bans Toxic Dry-Cleaning Chemical

Don't you love that word "toxic" above? No mention that the stuff has NOT been shown to be harmful to humans, despite many attempts to do so. What DOES "toxic" mean in La la land? Apparently, all it means is "Greenies don't like it". I think there are better grounds for saying that the Greenies are toxic

By 2023, California will completely ban the most common chemical used by dry cleaners. Under the newly enacted ban, perchloroethylene is to be phased out starting next year. The state is still debating what the alternative will be. Dry cleaning businesses are upset.

The regulation by the California Air Resources Board begins to phase out the toxic chemical next year, banning dry cleaners from buying machines that rely on the solvent. State officials say the fluid causes a variety of cancers. The state's 3,400 dry cleaners who now use it must get rid of machines that are 15 years or older by July 2010. "That's the wave of the future -- nontoxic, non-smog forming," said Annette Kondo, spokeswoman for the Coalition for Clean Air, a California environmental group. "We think this is going to ripple down to other states across the country."

Environmental and health advocates embraced the new rule, though they had urged the air board to accelerate the ban because of the chemical's health effects as a potential carcinogen. The solvent has contaminated one in 10 wells in California. But cleaners say the ban threatens to drive some of them out of business because alternative methods are unproven and more costly. An estimated 70 percent of the state's dry cleaners use the solvent. "It could shut down some mom-and-pop operations _ the little guys that can't afford it," said Bob Blackburn, president of the California Cleaners Association.

The cost of converting could be significant for dry cleaners, 85 percent of which are small businesses with slim profit margins. Replacing a machine that uses perchloroethylene can cost between $41,500 and $175,000. The air board estimates that the additional expense of the new equipment will boost a customer's $15 bill between $1.20 to $1.60.

What alternative should be allowed in California is still under debate. Dry cleaners who switched to other systems sought to sway the board in favor of their preference. Although the air board did not endorse a substitute, the regulation would give cleaners a $10,000 incentive to buy a machine that uses a wet cleaning system, which use carbon dioxide. Environmentalists urged the board to ban the most common alternative, which uses hydrocarbons. Critics said it could lead to increased ozone pollution.

The board's vote follows similar action five years ago by the South Coast Air Quality Management District in Southern California. That agency became the first regulatory body in the country to ban perchloroethylene, forcing more than 2,000 dry cleaners to stop using the chemical by 2020. Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned the chemical for dry cleaners located in residential buildings nationwide by 2020. But those operations are a small fraction of the nation's cleaners, said Jon Meijer, vice president of the International Fabricare Institute, an industry association based in Maryland.

California declared perchloroethylene a toxic chemical in 1991. State health officials told the air board Thursday that it can cause esophageal cancer, lymphoma, cervical and bladder cancer. The solvent, which has a strong, sweet odor, also can affect the central nervous system. Some business owners disputed those claims.


Weather Channel TV hostess is totally political

Starring in Global Warming Film Accusing U.S. Government of `Criminal Neglect'

The Weather Channel's top climate expert -- already under fire for advocating the scientific decertification of global warming skeptics -- is one of the stars of a new politically charged global warming documentary that, according to the film's website, accuses the U.S. government of "criminal neglect" and blames "right-wing think tanks" for helping to "defeat climate-friendly legislation."

The supercharged political message in the new documentary "Everything's Cool," which prominently features the Weather Channel's climate expert Heidi Cullen, appears to conflict with the network and Cullen's recently stated goal of not taking "a political position on global warming." ( See Cullen's blog ) Cullen, who hosts the Weather Channel's weekly show "The Climate Code," made the remarks on January 18, following the controversy surrounding her proposal that the American Meteorological Society decertify broadcast meteorologists skeptical of manmade global warming predictions. (Click here to see Cullen's original remarks on the Weather Channel website calling on the AMS to decertify climate skeptics)

Cullen is featured in the new documentary as one of the "global warming messengers," along with many eco-activists and such Hollywood celebrities as Salma Hayek and Jake Gyllenhaal. The film premiered last week at Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival in Utah which runs through January 28.

"Everything's Cool" severely challenges Cullen's promise to steer clear of politics. The documentary's promotional website states that the climate "crisis" is being met by the U.S. "government with apathy, denial, and perhaps, even criminal neglect." See:

An excerpt from the "About the Film" webpage of "Everything's Cool" reveals the political overtones of the film, noting that Cullen and the other "global warming messengers" are opposed by "recalcitrant politicians, the fossil-fuel corporations" and "right-wing think tanks that do their bidding, by working tirelessly to obscure the science and gum up the works of government to defeat climate-friendly legislation and promote the unrestrained use of fossil fuels." "Tell Congress to reject ExxonMobil's tactics to undermine science cast doubt on the facts about global warming," the documentary's website also implores.

The overtly political content of the film is at odds with the mission of The Weather Channel as stated by website executive editor Matthew de Ganon, who noted on January 19th that The Weather Channel's goal was "to present an open, balanced dialogue around the scientific facts concerning global climate change."

ABC-TV Birmingham meteorologist James Spann was quick to critique Cullen's participation in the new documentary. "She is trying to say [global warming] should not be a political issue and I totally agree with that, but boy this movie looks political," said Spann, an AMS certified meteorologist, on Monday after reviewing the "Everything's Cool" movie website. Spann made his comments during his weekly podcast "Weather Brains." "When you start talking about your government and `criminal neglect,' that to me is a big political movie," Spann said. Spann had previously denounced Cullen's call for the American Meteorological Society to decertify TV weathermen who express skepticism about manmade global warming.

The "Everythings Cool" website urges concerned citizens to "Take Action" by contacting a long list of politically charged environmental special-interest groups including: The National Resources Defense Council, The Union of Concerned Scientists, The Sierra Club, Greenpeace USA and Environmental Defense.

It appears from the promotional material available on the movies website, that "Everything's Cool" is set to make former Vice President Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" appear downright timid in its presentation of the fears of global warming. The website states: "If the U.S. as a nation and a government does not aggressively cut greenhouse gas emission in the next decade, the problem of climate change will eventually dwarf all other economic and social problems. Inaction by the U.S. places everyone else on the planet in jeopardy."

Actor/activist Redford reportedly made special arrangements for a special pre-screening of "Everything's Cool" for the Sundance Festival's key financial backers. The film, which is being billed as a "toxic comedy," was produced by Daniel B. Gold and Judith Helfand. (Note: The movie apparently also "premiered" at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival as well. See 2006 website listing of "Everything's Cool"

Hollywood celebrities Salma Hayek and Jake Gyllenhaal roles in the film have been ridiculed in at least one early review of the movie. The review noted that the scenes featuring the two celebrities at a "publicity appearance at an Arctic village comes off as silly." Also appearing with Cullen in the documentary is longtime global warming activist Ross Gelbspan. (Note: Gelbspan has made somewhat of a career out of the humorous allegation that all global warming skeptics are funded by industry while totally ignoring the overwhelming funding advantage that climate alarmists enjoy.

Cullen's appearance in "Everything's Cool" is not the first time she has flirted with political activism. On March 14, 2005, Cullen called for "simple measures" to limits C02 emissions while participating in a Capitol Hill press conference. "The UK has cut emissions by 15 percent and it hasn't hurt their economy," Cullen says. Cullen also featured a guest on the December 17, 2006 episode of The Weather Channel's "The Climate Code" TV show, who had once openly called for Nuremberg-style Trials for global warming skeptics.


PETA hypocrisy

All around this struggling farm town, chicken houses stand in the fields as a testament to the way many here earn their living -- raising, slaughtering and processing chickens. It is an unlikely locale for an unlikely criminal case. Today, two employees of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a radical animal-rights group that opposes meat-eating, are on trial for the strangest of charges: killing animals.

PETA is based in Norfolk, Va., but its work has international scope. The group, which raises more than $25 million a year from 1.6 million supporters, opposes any human use of animals, whether for food, fashion or research. In the more than two decades since its founding, it has become a major threat to medical researchers, meatpackers, fur sellers and others. Now, two of its employees stand accused of tossing garbage bags full of euthanized cats and dogs into a Dumpster behind a Piggly Wiggly in Hertford County, 130 miles northeast of Raleigh. Adria J. Hinkle and Andrew B. Cook, both of whom work in PETA's Norfolk office, are charged with 21 counts each of animal cruelty, a felony that can carry prison time, along with littering and obtaining property by false pretenses.

It is a strange turn of events for PETA. The group's supporters have often been prosecuted for their radical efforts to protect animals -- breaking into fashion shows to throw blood on fur-wearing models, liberating lab animals, showing gory videos outside the circus -- but PETA has never been accused of hurting animals.

Those who oppose PETA are seizing on the trial. The spectacle also has drawn a gaggle of lawyers, PETA staffers, reporters and curious onlookers to this rural county seat, where the small brick courthouse resembles an aging elementary school. They sat through two days of jury selection -- longer than for many murder trials -- during which lawyers struggled to find jurors who weren't close friends or business associates of any of the more than 60 witnesses. Several potential jurors were thrown out after saying they had read about the case, gossiped about it at work or formed strong opinions about PETA. Defense attorneys threw out a handful of farmers and avid hunters but left three people on the jury who work for a Perdue slaughterhouse a few miles from Winton.

Now, jurors will decide whether Hinkle and Cook were, as PETA argues, providing humane deaths to animals that would otherwise have been painfully killed in gas chambers -- or whether, as several local officials say, they were taking animals on the promise of finding them homes and secretly killing them. A PETA spokeswoman, Kathy Guillermo, said PETA never wanted to get into the business of euthanizing animals. But she said the group couldn't ignore the horrible conditions in animal shelters around Norfolk and in northeastern North Carolina. The group now euthanizes thousands of animals a year. "Euthanasia is a better alternative to sitting in a stinking pound," Guillermo said.

PETA opponents are drawing attention to this little-known facet of the group's work. On Monday morning, the Washington D.C.-based Center for Consumer Freedom, an anti-PETA group funded by restaurants and meat producers, drove a mobile billboard truck reading "PETA: As Warm and Cuddly as You Thought?" past the courthouse. David Martosko, research director for the group, described the case as a gift in his fight to discredit PETA. He plans to monitor the entire trial. "Most people would not believe, if you told them two years ago, that PETA kills animals. They'd say, 'What? They're the bunny huggers,' " Martosko said.

Martosko and Stephanie Maltz, a lawyer with the Foundation for Bio-Medical Research, a Washington, D.C., group that lobbies for animal testing, paid a visit Monday night to the trash bin where the animals were dumped. It was dark, and a man with a flashlight was rooting through the garbage, but Maltz was undeterred. She jumped out of the car and took a picture of the grime-stained container for her group's Web site.

Source. This blog is following the trial.

Where the Greenies are heading us

Today I present a straightforward solution to ending the water crisis. Starting immediately, we must ban beer and Coke and stop eating beef. The production of all three is sucking the world dry. And let's face it: we'd be healthier without them.

The evidence is compelling. Did you know it takes nearly four litres of water to make one litre of XXXX [beer]? And did you know it takes 55,000 litres of water to produce a kilogram of beef? That is more water than in my backyard pool for goodness sake.

"Yes, those numbers are valid," CSIRO water expert Wayne Meyer says. Professor Meyer says the amounts of water required to raise cattle could be as high as 100,000 litres in some places where evaporation is highest. The figure includes the amount of water required to grow fodder to feed the animals. Then there is the water the cattle drink and the vast quantities used in abattoirs to slaughter them. Brisbane's Cannon Hill abattoir, for instance, uses more than 580 million litres of water a year.

By now I know vegetarians will be cheering and cattlemen fuming under their Akubras. Drought and government neglect has created a water nightmare for business, especially for food producers. More than half of our top 20 commercial water users are in the food or beverage business. Professor Meyer says city folk have no idea of the volumes of water required to put food on the table. It takes 500 litres of water to produce a kilogram of spuds. It is thirsty work for a planet that will have to double the rate of food production by 2050 to meet soaring population growth, says Professor Meyer.


Global cooling in Australia?: "Summer rains and a cold snap had Victorians retrieving their winter woollies yesterday - the coldest January day in seven years. The city [Melbourne] reached a cool top of 18.9C as yesterday's welcome rain dumped an average of 7mm on the city. The state's lowest minimum on Friday night - zero degrees - was recorded at Mt Baw Baw. Mt Buller and Mt Hotham recorded maximums of 7C. But the Department of Sustainability and Environment said the light showers failed to help firefighters in the state's northeast. "The rain neither helped nor hindered," duty officer Richard Alder 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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, January 28, 2007


BBC comment below:

When the Stern Review into the Economics of Climate Change came out last year, it was showered with praise. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair called it, "the most important report on the future ever published by this government". But expert critics of the review now claim that it overestimates the risk of severe global warming, and underestimates the cost of acting to stop it.

The message from the report's chief author, the economist Sir Nicholas Stern, was simple: if we did nothing about climate change, it would cost us the equivalent of at least 5% of global GDP each year, now and forever. But if we acted today, we could prevent a catastrophe. This point was emphasised at the report's launch by Mr Blair who warned we would see the disastrous consequences of climate change - not in some science fiction future, but in our lifetimes.

These figures sounded scary and imminent. But if you read the report in detail, that is not what it actually says. The 5% damage to global GDP figure will not happen for well over one hundred years, according to Stern's predictions. And the review certainly does not forecast disastrous consequences in our lifetimes.

The report may have been loved by the politicians and headline writers but when climate scientists and environmental economists read the 670-page review, many said there were serious flaws. These critics are not climate change sceptics, but researchers with years of experience who believe that human-induced climate change is real and that we need to act now.

Richard Tol is a professor at both Hamburg and Carnegie Mellon Universities, and is one of the world's leading environmental economists. The Stern Review cites his work 63 times; but that does not mean he agrees with it. "If a student of mine were to hand in this report as a Masters thesis, perhaps if I were in a good mood I would give him a 'D' for diligence; but more likely I would give him an 'F' for fail. "There is a whole range of very basic economics mistakes that somebody who claims to be a Professor of Economics simply should not make," he told The Investigation on BBC Radio 4.

At the core of the Stern Review is an economic comparison between the damage caused by climate change with the costs of cutting our greenhouse gases. Professor Tol believes the figures for damage are exaggerated. "Stern consistently picks the most pessimistic for every choice that one can make. He overestimates through cherry-picking, he double counts particularly the risks and he underestimates what development and adaptation will do to impacts," he said.

Many economists are also sceptical about the figures Stern uses to estimate the costs of reducing are greenhouse gas emissions. The review suggests this will cost only 1% of GDP but according to Yale University Economist Robert Mendelsohn, this is far too optimistic and the figure could easily be much higher. "One of the depressing things about the greenhouse gas problem is that the cost of eliminating [it] is quite high. We will actually have to sacrifice a great deal to cut emissions dramatically," he said.

But it is not just economists who have found fault with the Stern Review; climate scientists have also been critical. Next week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release its fourth report. It is designed to be the authoritative statement on the state of global warming science. Anyone expecting to see the scary figures of the Stern report repeated is going to be disappointed. The predictions in the IPCC report will be significantly lower. For instance, the Stern review comes up with a figure for temperature increase by 2050 of 2-3 degrees, whereas the IPCC says this will probably not happen until the end of the century.

Professor Mike Hulme, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, believes that when the IPCC report comes out next week, there will be a big difference between the science it contains and the climate debate in the UK. "The IPCC is not going to talk about tipping points; it's not going to talk about 5m rises in sea level; it's not going to talk about the next ice age because the Gulf Stream collapses; and it's going to have none of the economics of the Stern Review," he said. "It's almost as if a credibility gap has emerged between what the British public thinks and what the international science community think."

When we put this comment to Sir Nicholas Stern, he replied: "The IPCC is a good process but it does depend on consensus and it means that they have to be quite cautious in what they say. "We were able to look to the evidence and use it in a very particular way, to look at the economics of risk." Sir Nicholas is aware of the increasing number of academic critiques of his review, but remains certain about his conclusions. "It is very important that the report is discussed; a number of people have raised interesting points and we will be discussing them all. "There are no certainties; but the broad conclusion that the costs of action are a good deal less than the damages they save, I think is pretty robust."

None of Stern's critics are advocating doing nothing about climate change. What they disagree about is how much it is worth sacrificing now to try to prevent a worst-case scenario in a hundred years' time.

BBC News, 25 January 2007. You can listen to the full BBC Investigation of the Stern Review here.


Below is the first of two attempts to express in layman's terms the new theory about changes in the heat output of the sun -- a theory partially presented here in academic terms on 26th. The full academic paper is here

There's a dimmer switch inside the sun that causes its brightness to rise and fall on timescales of around 100,000 years - exactly the same period as between ice ages on Earth. So says a physicist who has created a computer model of our star's core.

Robert Ehrlich of George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, modelled the effect of temperature fluctuations in the sun's interior. According to the standard view, the temperature of the sun's core is held constant by the opposing pressures of gravity and nuclear fusion. However, Ehrlich believed that slight variations should be possible.

He took as his starting point the work of Attila Grandpierre of the Konkoly Observatory of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. In 2005, Grandpierre and a collaborator, G bor Agoston, calculated that magnetic fields in the sun's core could produce small instabilities in the solar plasma. These instabilities would induce localised oscillations in temperature.

Ehrlich's model shows that whilst most of these oscillations cancel each other out, some reinforce one another and become long-lived temperature variations. The favoured frequencies allow the sun's core temperature to oscillate around its average temperature of 13.6 million kelvin in cycles lasting either 100,000 or 41,000 years. Ehrlich says that random interactions within the sun's magnetic field could flip the fluctuations from one cycle length to the other.

These two timescales are instantly recognisable to anyone familiar with Earth's ice ages: for the past million years, ice ages have occurred roughly every 100,000 years. Before that, they occurred roughly every 41,000 years.

Most scientists believe that the ice ages are the result of subtle changes in Earth's orbit, known as the Milankovitch cycles. One such cycle describes the way Earth's orbit gradually changes shape from a circle to a slight ellipse and back again roughly every 100,000 years. The theory says this alters the amount of solar radiation that Earth receives, triggering the ice ages. However, a persistent problem with this theory has been its inability to explain why the ice ages changed frequency a million years ago.

"In Milankovitch, there is certainly no good idea why the frequency should change from one to another," says Neil Edwards, a climatologist at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK. Nor is the transition problem the only one the Milankovitch theory faces. Ehrlich and other critics claim that the temperature variations caused by Milankovitch cycles are simply not big enough to drive ice ages.

However, Edwards believes the small changes in solar heating produced by Milankovitch cycles are then amplified by feedback mechanisms on Earth. For example, if sea ice begins to form because of a slight cooling, carbon dioxide that would otherwise have found its way into the atmosphere as part of the carbon cycle is locked into the ice. That weakens the greenhouse effect and Earth grows even colder.

According to Edwards, there is no lack of such mechanisms. "If you add their effects together, there is more than enough feedback to make Milankovitch work," he says. "The problem now is identifying which mechanisms are at work." This is why scientists like Edwards are not yet ready to give up on the current theory. "Milankovitch cycles give us ice ages roughly when we observe them to happen. We can calculate where we are in the cycle and compare it with observation," he says. "I can't see any way of testing [Ehrlich's] idea to see where we are in the temperature oscillation."

Ehrlich concedes this. "If there is a way to test this theory on the sun, I can't think of one that is practical," he says. That's because variation over 41,000 to 100,000 years is too gradual to be observed. However, there may be a way to test it in other stars: red dwarfs. Their cores are much smaller than that of the sun, and so Ehrlich believes that the oscillation periods could be short enough to be observed. He has yet to calculate the precise period or the extent of variation in brightness to be expected ( ).

Nigel Weiss, a solar physicist at the University of Cambridge, is far from convinced. He describes Ehrlich's claims as "utterly implausible". Ehrlich counters that Weiss's opinion is based on the standard solar model, which fails to take into account the magnetic instabilities that cause the temperature fluctuations.

New Scientist, 25 January 2007

New ice age theory: Sun's 'dimmer switch'

Below is the second of two attempts to express in layman's terms the new theory about changes in the heat output of the sun -- a theory partially presented here in academic terms on 26th. The full academic paper is here

Ice ages are not caused by planet Earth's orbital variations as once thought, but by the dimmer switch inside the sun that causes its brightness to rise and fall on timescales of around 100,000 years which is exactly the same period as between ice ages on Earth, according to a radical new theory proposed by renowned astrophysicist Robert Ehrlich of George Mason University.

Ehrlich modelled the effect of temperature fluctuations in the sun's interior and showed that while the temperature of the sun's core is held constant by the opposing pressures of gravity and nuclear fusion, slight variations are possible. His research builds upon the work of Attila Grandpierre and G bor Agoston who calculated that magnetic fields in the sun's core could produce small instabilities in the solar plasma inducing localised oscillations in temperature.

In an article appearing in the journal New Scientist, Ehrlich describes how some of these oscillations reinforce one another and become long lasting temperature variations, with the sun's core temperature to oscillating around its average temperature of 13.6 million kelvin in cycles lasting either 100,000 or 41,000 years. According to the scientist random interactions within the sun's magnetic field could flip the fluctuations between the two cycles which correspond to the Earth's ice ages.

Over the past million years, ice ages have occurred roughly every 100,000 years and before that roughly every 41,000 years. The currently accepted theories attribute the ice ages to subtle changes in Earth's orbit, known as the Milankovitch cycles, one of which describes the way Earth's orbit gradually changes shape from a circle to a slight ellipse and back again roughly every 100,000 years.

This should, in theory, alter the amount of solar radiation that Earth receives which in turn trigger the ice ages, but a hole in this theory has been its inability to explain why the ice ages changed frequency a million years ago.


Australian PM uses Greenie language to support Federal takeover of big river systems

Prime Minister John Howard yesterday labelled himself a "climate change realist", saying Australians could never return to a relaxed attitude towards water. "I regard myself as a climate change realist," he said while announcing his $10 billion water plan. "That means looking at the evidence as it emerges and responding with policies."

Mr Howard said the evidence pointed to a contraction in weather systems that traditionally brought southern Australia winter and spring rains. "Our rainfall has always been highly variable," he said. "The deviation around average rainfall is enormous and it seems to be getting bigger."

However, Mr Howard said the Australian continent was by its very nature a dry place. Australian water management systems had to be resilient and sustainable regardless of the truth or otherwise of climate change. "They must be geared not to a world of steady averages that rarely materialise but to the variability that has been part of Australia's climate since time immemorial," Mr Howard said.

He said Australians could never return to the days "when you could hose down the car". "We need to make every drop count - on our farms, in our factories and in our homes," Mr Howard 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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Mars Ski Report: Snow is Hard, Dense and Disappearing

Global warming on Mars?

In the other study, led by Michael C. Malin, features at the south pole were observed to retreat by up to 10 feet (3 meters) from one Martian year to the next. The odd shapes -- circular pits, ridges and mounds -- were first photographed in 1999. Since then, the features have eroded away by up to 50 percent. The pits are growing, the ridges between them shrinking.

Caplinger and Malin caution that a year's worth of data does not reveal when this erosion began or how long it will continue. Yet they speculate that the features could have been created in a Mars' decade and may erode away completely within one to two decades. "We know that the pits we see at the surface today are not very old, and that they will not last very long," Malin said.

Water or not?

The rate of erosion suggests the features are made of moderately dense but solid carbon dioxide, rather than water ice, the scientists conclude. But that does not preclude the possibility of water ice at the south pole. "We don't know what's underneath," Caplinger said. "You could certainly have water ice under carbon dioxide." He said the only way to find out is to go there and drill down.

The newly observed melting, if it is part of a trend, could pump enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mars to increase its mass by 1 percent per decade, the scientists said. Already, the atmosphere of Mars is roughly 95 percent carbon dioxide. Caplinger said no one knows for sure what effect the extra carbon dioxide might have on the climate. "Not much," he figures.

But he said many scientists assume that Mars undergoes climate change. Photos of the surface suggest water may once have flowed on Mars, implying that it would have been warmer. And Earth's ice ages offer the lesson that change is inherent in a climate.

New era of study

Despite more than three decades of Red Planet exploration, scientists are still relatively clueless about the climate of Mars, said Paige, the UCLA researcher. Continuous or recurring observations have typically been confined to short time periods. The two new studies herald a change, Paige said. And expect more.

Mars Global Surveyor is not done studying Mars, and the recently arrived Odyssey orbiter will begin science observations early next year. Other satellites and surface probes are planned every couple of years over the next decade. "We're moving toward a situation where we'll have a permanent spacecraft presence on Mars," Paige said.


Climate change and CO2

Post lifted from John Redwood's diary

For once when I asked the [British] government a written question I received an answer. I asked "How much carbon dioxide is put into the atmosphere each day ,and what proportion is from human sources"

The answer stated "The amount of carbon dioxide emitted from human sources is small in comparison to natural flows:at around 3% emitted from the land and oceans to the atmosphere". The Minister also told me "In 2004 the UK emitted approximately 1.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per day "(I think from human sources). This compares with the "25 billion tonnes emitted each year globally" from human sources and the total emissions of 800 billion tonnes from all sources.

It is just useful to understand the scope of the problem and the UK human component. According to the government the UK human component represents 2% of the world total human emissions, or 0.06% of total emissions.

So what should we conclude? Climate change theorists point out that the human element may be very small, but it is the one which is growing quickly, and at the margin will do the damage. People who follow the precautionary principle say this theory may well be right, so we had better act. Many other people say they believe the theory but do not act - like the Prime Minister who tells us this is a serious crisis, but he has no intention of cutting his air miles.

Common sense suggests that because the UK represents such a small part of the problem, we are going to depend on decisions in India, China and the USA to make a bigger impact on human emissions. Of course our government should seek to influence them, and stress the value of greater fuel efficiency and stricter controls on emissions. We should also continue to cut our own fuel use at home, at work and on the move. Technology can be our ally in this. Prudence nonetheless dictates that we should take action now to proect ourselves against the possible bad consequences of global warming.

There are two main bad consequences put forward for the UK. The first is a possible water shortage in the drier south and east of the country. The second is too much water in some rivers at flood time, and in the sea, leading to inundation.

Government should take action now to build stronger sea defences, especially close to the London conurbation where most people are at risk. This could be paid for by creating new land in the shallows of the Thames estuary, and selling this for development to finance the higher tidal surge barriers we will need.

The government and the water regulator should include a capacity target in the regulatory structure, to require the industry to put in more water capacity - whether by way of mending pipes more quickly or building extra reservoirs - to eliminate anyt possibility of water shortage. The Environment Agency should order works on our main rivers to guarantee better containment of flood water levels, or safe deposit of excess water on flood plain.


Recently I received a communication about frogs that emphasizes the importance of confirming conventional wisdom and offers a metaphor for the human response to environmental degradation. The issue started with an email from Germany. As often happens in scientific inquiry, though the answer to the question was pretty straightforward, arriving at the answer was not. But the easy way out accepting what "everyone knows" more often than not simply perpetuates misinformation. Although finding an answer that destroys an urban myth or a commonly held belief may disappoint some people, we are better off knowing the truth.

Joe Pechmann at the University of New Orleans, who is a noted amphibian conservation biologist, received a query last month that read: "I am writing a weekly column for Die Zeit, Germany's major weekly paper, on scientific urban legends that my readers ask me about. Now you surely have heard the story of the boiling frog that is often told by consultants or activists: If you put a frog in boiling water, he will try to escape. If you put him in cold water and heat it gradually, the frog will remain in place until he's boiled, because that's the lesson, to him (and consequently to us) gradual change is not perceivable. Frankly, I don't buy this. But I am looking for professional advice (and I don't want to boil frogs). Can you help me with that question? Thanks! Christoph Droesser, Hamburg, Germany"

Joe was not sure what the answer was, so he referred Mr. Droesser to me. I also passed the buck, saying: "I have heard the anecdote many times and actually heard a Baptist preacher give a sermon in Mississippi in which he used the story of a big bullfrog in a bucket of water that was being heated. The situation was presented as an example of how gradual habituation to a devilish situation leads to acceptance of an even worse one. But with a real frog in real water, my bet is that when it began to get uncomfortable the frog would jump out if it could, long before the water started to boil. Nonetheless, consultants, activists, and others who are unaware of gradual environmental problems are responding in the way we like to think a frog acts rather than the way it does."

I went on to say, "Although I do not know a data-based answer myself, I am aware of experiments that have been done on responses of amphibians to thermal conditions. In some of the experiments the temperature was gradually raised, so I feel certain someone familiar with those studies would have an impression of what a frog would do as the water warmed up. I am sending your question to Dr. Victor Hutchison at the University of Oklahoma to see what he says. I would be interested to know also."

Vic's answer was as follows: "The legend is entirely incorrect! The `critical thermal maxima' of many species of frogs have been determined by several investigators. In this procedure, the water in which a frog is submerged is heated gradually at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit per minute. As the temperature of the water is gradually increased, the frog will eventually become more and more active in attempts to escape the heated water. If the container size and opening allow the frog to jump out, it will do so." Naturally, if the frog were not allowed to escape it would eventually begin to show signs of heat stress, muscular spasms, heat rigor, and death.

So where does that leave us with the metaphor for the human response to environmental degradation? Well the idea that you can induce a frog to remain in boiling water if you start it off in cold water is not true biologically. But that does not diminish the need to keep an eye out for the gradual relaxation of environmental laws and regulations. The metaphor lies in the frog's ability to escape from the container: if there's no way out, then the frog's fate is a foregone conclusion.


Australian PM supports new dams

Permanent water restrictions in our cities should be no more acceptable than electricity rationing, Prime Minister John Howard says. Mr Howard said he remained confident Australia could eventually drought-proof its urban centres. But with the exception of Perth, no major Australian city has invested significantly in augmenting their water supplies for decades, he said. In the case of Brisbane, decisions to build new dams were cancelled and "then nothing else was done", the Prime Minister said.

Mr Howard attacked the mentality of state governments that tried to constrain demand by imposing water restrictions instead of investing in water infrastructure. That strategy allowed the states to preserve the cash flow of their water utilities which often paid out large dividends, he said. "The continuation of the drought has shown the strategy to be a foolhardy one," Mr Howard said.

Under the plan, city water providers will be made to invest in dams, desalination plants and other infrastructure or lose federal funding. "Water solutions will vary from place to place. The truth is we have the capacity to drought-proof our large cities. "What is needed is more investment, sensible pricing and an end to state governments using water utilities as cash cows."

Australian Democrats leader Lyn Allison praised the water plan. "Better late than never," she said. "The Prime Minister has also come a long way in acknowledging the needs of the environment."



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, January 26, 2007


Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, Article in Press, Accepted Manuscript

By Robert Ehrlich


A theory is described based on resonant thermal diffusion waves in the sun that explains many details of the paleotemperature record for the last 5.3 million years. These include the observed periodicities, the relative strengths of each observed cycle, and the sudden emergence in time for the 100 thousand year cycle. Other prior work suggesting a link between terrestrial paleoclimate and solar luminosity variations has not provided any specific mechanism. The particular mechanism described here has been demonstrated empirically, although not previously invoked in the solar context. The theory, while not without its own unresolved issues, also lacks most of the problems associated with Milankovitch cycle theory.



In Milankovitch theory past glaciations are assumed to arise from small quasiperiodic changes in the Earth's orbital parameters that give rise to corresponding changes in solar insolation, particularly in the polar regions. A brief discussion of five problems with this theory are listed below, and a more detailed description of some of them can be found elsewhere.(Karner,2000)

(a) Weak forcing problem: The basic problem with the theory s that observed climate variations are much more intense than the insolation changes can explain without postulating some very strong positive feedback mechanism.

(b) 100 ky problem: The preceding basic problem can be illustrated for the case of one particular parameter "C the orbital eccentricity. The dominant climate cycle observed during the last million years has a roughly 100 ky period, which in Milankovitch theory is linked to a 100 ky cycle in the eccentricity. However, the effect of this eccentricity variation should be the weakest of all the climate-altering changes, in view of the small change in solar insolation it would cause. For example, consider the Earth's orbital eccentricity, e, which has been shown to have several periods including one of 100 ky during which e varies in the approximate range: e = 0.03 0.02.(Quinn,1991)

The resultant solar irradiance variation found by integrating over one orbit for each of the two extreme e-values is about 0.055%, or 0.17w/m2 difference at the top of the Earth's atmosphere. Given that climate models show that a one percent change in solar irradance would lead to a 1.80C average global temperature change, then the change resulting from a ­0.055% irradiance change would be a miniscule 0.10C hardly enough to induce a major climate event C even with significant positive feedback.

(c) 400 ky problem: The variations in the Earth's orbital eccentricity show a 400 ky cycle in addition to the 100 ky cycle, with the two cycles being of comparable strength. Yet, the record of Earth's climate variations only shows clear evidence for the latter.

(d) Causality problem: Based on a numerical integration of Earth's orbit, a warming climate predates by about 10,000 years the change in insolation than supposedly had been its cause.

(e) Transition problem: No explanation is offered for the abrupt switch in climate periodicity from 41 ky to 100 ky that is found to have occured about a million years ago. Of these five problems with Milankovitch theory, the current theory clearly shares only (c).

In conclusion, we have here suggested a specific mechanism involving diffusion waves in the sun whose amplitude should grow very rapidly due to an amplification provided by the link between solar core temperature and luminosity.

Moreover, the phenomenon of resonant amplification of thermal diffusion waves has been empirically demonstrated, albeit not in the solar context.(Shen, 1995) A number of features of the theory still remain to be resolved, but the theory does explain many features of the paleotemperature record, and it appears to be free of most defects of the Milankovitch theory. The theory further implicitly suggests the existence of a new category of variable stars having extremely long periods "C i.e., 104 times longer than stellar periods currently considered to be very long. For some stars with M less than M, their thinner radiation zones might make the predicted periods observable.

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


Germany will miss its CO2 emission targets, face rising electricity prices and become "dramatically" more reliant on Russian gas if it keeps to its policy of phasing out nuclear energy, a new study warns. The 60-page paper by Deutsche Bank will add to the pressure on Angela Merkel, chancellor, to renegotiate the phase-out deal agreed by the previous government in 2000, despite her pledge not to reopen the controversial debate.

Rising concern about global warming and energy security has sparked a lively dispute in Ms Merkel's Christian Democrat-led grand coalition government about the wisdom of renouncing nuclear energy. Michael Glos, the conservative economics minister, has campaigned vigorously against the phase-out, triggering equally vigorous opposition from Sigmar Gabriel, the Social Democratic environment minister.

Without nuclear energy, the bank says, the chancellor faces a painful choice between the three goals she has set herself - to reduce emissions, cut reliance on Russian fossil fuel and keep energy prices in check. "Shutting down nuclear is inconceivable as a serious policy," said Mark Lewis, energy analyst and author of the report. "It will mean missing your carbon emission targets and lead to gas-powered plants replacing today's nuclear plants."

The environment ministry said Germany's goal of cutting CO2 emissions by 40 per cent of their 1990 level by 2020 "can be achieved without nuclear energy. But of course, nobody ever said it would be easy". The SPD has yet to show any willingness to renegotiate the nuclear exit deal. Rainer Wend, a Social Democratic MP and member of parliament's economics committee, said: "If we must import more Russian gas, then so be it. Russia is a reliable supplier."

Backers of nuclear energy point out that the phase-out has left Berlin isolated as holder of the European Union's rotating presidency, which complicates Ms Merkel's task of drafting a European energy policy at the next European Council summit in March. With nuclear covering 25 per cent of Germany's electricity needs - and taking into account rising electricity demand and the need to replace old fossil-fuel plants - DB calculates 42,000MW of new plants will be needed by 2022.

Since lignite and coal-powered plants are highly polluting, most of these would have to be gas-powered. Even so, CO2 emissions by the power sector will rise by 16 per cent in the decade from 2010, while Russian gas imports will increase from today's 35 per cent of the total to 50 per cent.



If you want an example of the sort of scientific exaggeration that should concern both scientists and advocates involved in the climate debate (but typically goes uncorrected), next week's Newsweek magazine has an article on the growing tab of disaster losses, which it attributes to global warming.

Around the country, [insurance] companies have been racking up record property losses from freakish weather, such as the ice storms last week that paralyzed much of the Great Plains and froze California's citrus crops. In recent years, wildfires in the Northwest, drought and hail in the Midwest, windstorms, lightning strikes on power grids, soil subsidence and other calamities of nature have led to cumulative property losses that exceed those caused by hurricanes. "There's a shift going on to more frequent, extreme weather events," says Evan Mills, an environmental scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "It's as much an issue in the heartland as on the coast."

Global warming is the culprit, claim many-including several insurers who are canceling policies. While scientists cannot determine whether a single weather event is caused by a natural cycle, or is evidence of more permanent, malignant climate change, the pattern of mounting losses is clear. According to Mills, weather-related catastrophe losses have increased from about $1 billion a year in the 1970s to an average of $17 billion a year over the past decade. In 2005, the year of Katrina, that figure reached $71 billion.

We have interacted with Evan Mills before, and despite having his work throughly debunked and the existence of an expert workshop report on the topic cosponsored by Munich Re, he continues to fundamentally misrepresent the state of the science to suggest that comparing disaster losses unadjusted for societal change from the 1970s to the present says something about global warming. It does not. Here are relevant conclusions from our 2006 workshop:

Analyses of long-term records of disaster losses indicate that societal change and economic development are the principal factors responsible for the documented increasing losses to date.

Because of issues related to data quality, the stochastic nature of extreme event impacts, length of time series, and various societal factors present in the disaster loss record, it is still not possible to determine the portion of the increase in damages that might be attributed to climate change due to GHG emissions.

In the near future the quantitative link (attribution) of trends in storm and flood losses to climate changes related to GHG emissions is unlikely to be answered unequivocally.



Journal of Affective Disorders, Article in Press, Corrected Proof

Global warming possibly linked to an enhanced risk of suicide

By A. Preti et al.


Background: The global increase in surface temperature (known as global warming) was found to impact on mortality through ill health, particularly among the elderly and in summer. This study sets out to explore the impact of global warming on suicide mortality, using data from Italy.

Methods: Monthly data on suicide mortality and temperature were obtained for a 30-year period (from January 1974 to December 2003), and the relation between them was investigated using the Gaussian low-pass filter, linear correlation analysis and rank analysis.

Results: For males, increasing anomalies in monthly average temperatures associated to a higher monthly suicide mean from May to August and, to a lower extent, in November and December. In January, on the other hand, increasing anomalies in monthly average temperatures appeared to be coupled to a lower number of suicides. For females, the links between temperature and suicides are less consistent than for males, and sometimes have a reverse sign, too.

Fuel Folly

Less consumption means more subsidies.

With a combination of alternative fuel mandates and increased fuel-economy standards, President Bush on Tuesday night urged Congress to “build on the work we have done and reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next ten years.” Build on the work we have done? With similar policies in place since 1974, American petroleum consumption has increased - not decreased - by over 20 percent.

Only in Europe, where government taxation has driven gas prices to $6-a-gallon and dampened economic growth, has oil consumption declined by 15 percent. And that took 30 years, not ten.

Such draconian measures are unlikely in the U.S., meaning no decline in oil consumption - but a continued rise in wasteful, politically correct federal ethanol subsidies.

In a similar political climate in the early 1970s, Congress enacted the regulatory regime known as CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy). Today passenger cars are more efficient than ever - up 114 percent since 1974. But gasoline is so cheap - despite perpetual Middle Eastern crises - that on average Americans are driving twice as many miles as before. As a result, U.S. oil consumption has increased from 17 million barrels-a-day in 1976 to 21 million barrels today, and oil imports as a share of U.S. consumption have risen from 35 to 59 percent.

Ironically, the president’s call echoes a more severe proposal by his 2004 campaign opponent John Kerry - a recommendation that a National Center for Policy Analysis study found would not “reduce future U.S. dependence on foreign oil.”

The president’s plan also proposes an expansion of the so-called Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), which currently mandates that refineries produce 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol-per-year by 2012. But, as Heritage Foundation energy analyst Ben Lieberman points out, “if ethanol were a viable fuel, you wouldn’t have to mandate it in the first place.”

Indeed, ethanol - whether made from corn or trendy cellulosic sources like switchgrass - is simply not viable as an alternative for the fundamental reason that a gallon of ethanol only goes 75 percent as far as a gallon of gas. In its comprehensive 2005 report on biofuels, the World Bank concluded that “the technologies to produce ethanol are well understood. (Thus) major breakthroughs under current processes are not expected.”

The RFS exists - not due to market demand - but to satisfy the auto and farm lobbies. For the Big Three, manufacturing “flex-fuel” vehicles (cars that run on gas and ethanol) allows them to exploit a huge loophole in the aforementioned CAFÉ laws. At minimal cost, converting vehicles to flex-fuel allows automakers to skirt the fatuous fuel rules - even though consumers only fill up the vehicles with gas.

For the farm lobby, the renewable mandate is easier to understand. It means money. Lots of money. To make ethanol price-competitive, the federal government subsidizes its production to the tune of 51 cents a gallon, costing U.S. taxpayers $4.1 billion a year. Fueled by the RFS, Big Ethanol producer Archer Daniels Midland rang up record 2006 profits that would make Big Oil blush.

Now Bush is proposing to increase the mandate to a fanciful $35 billion gallons by 2017 (whether consumers buy it or not). And as the federal honey pot grows, it is naturally attracting more flies. Investors like Sun Microsystems founder and Green activist Vinod Khosla want to invest in cellulosic ethanol sources because they are less carbon intensive to process than corn ethanol (which some studies show burns more energy to produce than it saves as a fuel) - much like sugar-based ethanol which has captured 40 percent of Brazil’s fuel market.

Brazil’s experiment has created a buzz among the alternative-fuel set - from liberal pundits like the New York Times’s Thomas Friedman to the president’s own brother, Jeb.

But like Europe’s drastic measures to decrease fuel consumption, Brazil’s heavy-handed tactics to impose biofuels have little political future here. Brazil’s ethanol conversion occurred over a period of decades as its authoritarian government nationalized energy companies, mandated ethanol-fueled cars, banned diesel fuel - and provided a staggering $1.20 per gallon government tax subsidy. As the World Bank report concluded, Brazil comes closest to commercially viable biofuels, but only as long as it “maintains a large tax differential between gasoline and ethanol.”



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 generally 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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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Climate McCarthyism: Activists Trying to Shut Down Climate Debate, Skeptics Say

Climate change skeptics - and journalists who report on them - have become the target of a campaign aimed at stifling legitimate debate at a time when Congress is planning an aggressive new environmental push. This is the assessment of environmental scientists and free market advocates who see a concerted effort to silence and de-fund think tanks that publish material challenging "prevailing global warming orthodoxy." Leftist activists masquerading as scientists are promoting false notions of "consensus" in an effort to back calls for mandatory caps on CO2 and other "greenhouse gas" emissions, they argue.

Jeff Kueter, president of the George C. Marshall Institute (GMI) said "rational and open" discussion of climate change science that includes dissenting voices is in danger of being short-circuited, at the expense of sound science and free speech. Kueter told Cybercast News Service the assault on groups like the GMI amounted to "censorship." He said the notion of scientific consensus on global warming masked "real disputes that exist in the science over the quality of data."

Bonner Cohen, author of "The Green Wave: Environmentalism and Its Consequences" said in an interview with Cybercast News Service that the censorship campaign hinges on two key components - a call for congressional oversight leading effectively to "show trials" aimed at discrediting global warming skeptics and an assault on press freedom.

At issue is a report issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) earlier this month accusing ExxonMobil-funded "contrarian scientists" and "ideological advocacy groups" of a "disinformation campaign" aimed at deceiving and "confusing" the public about the connection between human activity and climate change. It also criticized media organizations for quoting scientists who the USC views as being out of step with mainstream opinion. The author of the report, Seth Shulman, is a journalist and the author of a book entitled "Undermining Science: Suppression and Distortion in the Bush Administration."

Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy at Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a key target of the UCS report, characterizes the UCS as a "hardcore left-wing activist" organization with a long history of advocacy (see related article).

Repeated efforts to get Schulman or other UCS officials to respond to the issues raised in this report were unsuccessful, but UCS President Kevin Knobloch spoke to reporters during a conference call Friday on the "state of the environment." "ExxonMobil's campaign to inject uncertainty into climate science has done some harm, giving members of Congress and business leaders reason not to act," Knobloch said. "Our report shows ExxonMobil waged a campaign to undercut climate science by borrowing the tactics - almost the entire playbook - of big tobacco."

Recently, ExxonMobil announced it had stopped funding the CEI, and Knobloch said the decision indicated that the global warming debate had arrived at "an important moment." But ExxonMobil spokesman Mark Boudreaux told Cybercast News Service the decision to stop funding was made in the fall of 2005. In a press release the oil company also called the UCS report "deeply offensive and wrong."

As previously reported the UCS report named 43 advocacy groups it accused of taking part in the alleged "disinformation campaign." Among those most prominently mentioned apart from the CEI and GMI were the Independent Institute and the Heartland Institute, singled out for what the UCS terms "information laundering" aimed at distorting scientific findings in the mind of Americans. The report also named the Media Research Center (MRC), parent company of the Cybercast News Service.

Keuter and Ebell are among those named who have strongly denied that they accept donations that come with "strings attached." "We are not influenced by our funders to reach specific outcomes or to validate specific conclusions. We review information we are analyzing for content and quality," Keuter said.

Greenpeace Research Director Kert Davies said he backed the UCS allegations. "There has been a very deliberate public relations and media campaign designed with an eye toward influencing the policy arena with misinformation," Davies told Cybercast News Service. "It mischaracterizes what we believe to be a consensus on the science."


In his conference call, Knobloch said "the science of global warming is very clear." Policymakers must take action now to "adopt a strong mandatory cap on U.S. emissions of heat trapping gases." The UCS report took aim at "climate contrarians" affiliated with the Independent Institute such as Fred Singer, David Legates and Frederick Seitz, accusing them of bucking the scientific consensus.

But Ebell said the notion of consensus was a "game" political activists use to discredit skeptics who raise legitimate questions. Ebell argued that the weight of scientific evidence has in fact shifted against "alarmist projections" that envisage potential catastrophe.

Singer, an environmental scientist at the University of Virginia, told Cybercast News Service that proponents of global warming models that see a significant correlation between human activity and rising temperatures are "afraid they might lose the debate" because their data is unlikely to withstand scrutiny. "The facts and the data are pretty convincing now," he said. "Any warming taking place is largely due to natural variability, not human activity. The way we can tell is by comparing the pattern of warming with what greenhouse warming models predict. They don't agree."

Although he describes himself as a "believer in the greenhouse effect," Singer said the fundamental question centers around the role of human activity. "The human influence is small," he asserted. "Not zero - but small compared to natural effects." Singer's findings are the subject of a new book entitled "Hot Talk, Cold Science," published by the Independent Institute.

Cohen also took issue with the UCS's invoking of "consensus." "Science does not run by consensus," he said, adding that the organization was simply trying to "shut off debate."

Kueter said he welcomes an open exchange of ideas but remains dubious about the intentions of those on the other side of the dispute. He was particularly troubled by a recommendation in the UCS report for "congressional oversight" of the alleged "disinformation campaign." "It smacks to me of McCarthyism and big-brotherism and is completely antithetical to the scientific process and the American political philosophy of free speech," Kueter said. "The Union of Concerned Scientists and Greenpeace are openly opposed to a free exchange of views," said Dan Gainor, the Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow and director of the Business & Media Institute, a division of the MRC. "Just like the Weather Channel's Heidi Cullen, they are embracing censorship and tyranny over intellectual freedom," he added. "No journalist should be deceived by this heavy-handed attempt at closing off the debate."

"Tell me where I'm wrong on the issues," said Ben Lieberman of the Heritage Foundation, another organization named in the UCS report. "What's really going on here is the skeptical arguments have merit and they are resonating with American people," Lieberman said. As a result, "there's a frustration on the part of alarmists who have not been able to scare the American people."

Jay Gulledge, a senior research fellow with the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, is among those who assert that there is an "overarching general consensus" on global warming. Even so, Gulledge told Cybercast News Service the notion of a corporate conspiracy was far-fetched. "You can't just make a blanket argument that ExxonMobil dollars equals disinformation - that's a logical fallacy," he said. Instead, Gulledge argued that problems arose when scientific conclusions that have been vetted through "peer reviewed channels" are being challenged by skeptics.

Cohen counters that the so-called "peer review process" is too narrowly focused, because it does not allow for input from geologists who are better positioned to gauge the question of global warming than climatologists.

The controversy has heated up at a time when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) plans to create a new select committee on global warming. Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) this month reintroduced their Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act, which proposes emission reductions across all major sectors of the U.S. economy.


Climate scientists feeling the heat

As public debate deals in absolutes, some experts fear predictions 'have created a monster'

Scientists long have issued the warnings: The modern world's appetite for cars, air conditioning and cheap, fossil-fuel energy spews billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, unnaturally warming the world. Yet, it took the dramatic images of a hurricane overtaking New Orleans and searing heat last summer to finally trigger widespread public concern on the issue of global warming.

Climate scientists might be expected to bask in the spotlight after their decades of toil. The general public now cares about greenhouse gases, and with a new Democratic-led Congress, federal action on climate change may be at hand. Problem is, global warming may not have caused Hurricane Katrina, and last summer's heat waves were equaled and, in many cases, surpassed by heat in the 1930s.

In their efforts to capture the public's attention, then, have climate scientists oversold global warming? It's probably not a majority view, but a few climate scientists are beginning to question whether some dire predictions push the science too far. "Some of us are wondering if we have created a monster," says Kevin Vranes, a climate scientist at the University of Colorado. Vranes, who is not considered a global warming skeptic by his peers, came to this conclusion after attending an American Geophysical Union meeting last month. Vranes says he detected "tension" among scientists, notably because projections of the future climate carry uncertainties - a point that hasn't been fully communicated to the public.

The science of climate change often is expressed publicly in unambiguous terms. For example, last summer, Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences, told the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce: "I think we understand the mechanisms of CO2 and climate better than we do of what causes lung cancer. ... In fact, it is fair to say that global warming may be the most carefully and fully studied scientific topic in human history."

Vranes says, "When I hear things like that, I go crazy." Nearly all climate scientists believe the Earth is warming and that human activity, by increasing the level of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, has contributed significantly to the warming. But within the broad consensus are myriad questions about the details. How much of the recent warming has been caused by humans? Is the upswing in Atlantic hurricane activity due to global warming or natural variability? Are Antarctica's ice sheets at risk for melting in the near future?

To the public and policymakers, these details matter. It's one thing to worry about summer temperatures becoming a few degrees warmer. It's quite another if ice melting from Greenland and Antarctica raises the sea level by 3 feet in the next century, enough to cover much of Galveston Island at high tide.

Models aren't infallible

Scientists have substantial evidence to support the view that humans are warming the planet - as carbon dioxide levels rise, glaciers melt and global temperatures rise. Yet, for predicting the future climate, scientists must rely upon sophisticated - but not perfect - computer models. "The public generally underappreciates that climate models are not meant for reducing our uncertainty about future climate, which they really cannot, but rather they are for increasing our confidence that we understand the climate system in general," says Michael Bauer, a climate modeler at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in New York.

Gerald North, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University, dismisses the notion of widespread tension among climate scientists on the course of the public debate. But he acknowledges that considerable uncertainty exists with key events such as the melting of Antarctica, which contains enough ice to raise sea levels by 200 feet. "We honestly don't know that much about the big ice sheets," North says. "We don't have great equations that cover glacial movements. But let's say there's just a 10 percent chance of significant melting in the next century. That would be catastrophic, and it's worth protecting ourselves from that risk."

Much of the public debate, however, has dealt in absolutes. The poster for Al Gore's global warming movie, An Inconvenient Truth, depicts a hurricane blowing out of a smokestack. Katrina's devastation is a major theme in the film.

Judith Curry, an atmospheric scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has published several research papers arguing that a link between a warmer climate and hurricane activity exists, but she admits uncertainty remains. Like North, Curry says she doubts there is undue tension among climate scientists but says Vranes could be sensing a scientific community reaction to some of the more alarmist claims in the public debate. For years, Curry says, the public debate on climate change has been dominated by skeptics, such as Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and strong advocates such as NASA's James Hansen, who calls global warming a ticking "time bomb" and talks about the potential inundation of all global coastlines within a few centuries.

That may be changing, Curry says. As the public has become more aware of global warming, more scientists have been brought into the debate. These scientists are closer to Hansen's side, she says, but reflect a more moderate view. "I think the rank-and-file are becoming more outspoken, and you're hearing a broader spectrum of ideas," Curry says.

Young and old tension

Other climate scientists, however, say there may be some tension as described by Vranes. One of them, Jeffrey Shaman, an assistant professor of atmospheric sciences at Oregon State University, says that unease exists primarily between younger researchers and older, more established scientists. Shaman says some junior scientists may feel uncomfortable when they see older scientists making claims about the future climate, but he's not sure how widespread that sentiment may be. This kind of tension always has existed in academia, he adds, a system in which senior scientists hold some sway over the grants and research interests of graduate students and junior faculty members. The question, he says, is whether it's any worse in climate science.

And if it is worse? Would junior scientists feel compelled to mute their findings, out of concern for their careers, if the research contradicts the climate change consensus? "I can understand how a scientist without tenure can feel the community pressures," says environmental scientist Roger Pielke Jr., a colleague of Vranes' at the University of Colorado. Pielke says he has felt pressure from his peers: A prominent scientist angrily accused him of being a skeptic, and a scientific journal editor asked him to "dampen" the message of a peer-reviewed paper to derail skeptics and business interests. "The case for action on climate science, both for energy policy and adaptation, is overwhelming," Pielke says. "But if we oversell the science, our credibility is at stake."



Global warming comes and goes in 1,500 year cycles which may have more to do with cosmic rays than fossil fuel emissions, according to a new book. If the genuine warming now being seen is caused by human emissions of carbon dioxide, it would have started earlier, according to the book by two veteran American climate sceptics, Fred Singer and Dennis Avery.

Mr Avery, who was in London yesterday, said: "If this were a CO2 driven warming it should have started in 1940 and risen strongly from there. In fact warming started in 1850 and rose sharply until 1940 then decreased for 35 years." Mr Avery believes that only half the warming that has happened since 1940 - 0.2 degrees according to his measurements - can be ascribed to man made emissions. The rest he says is natural variability. "If you factor in the warming from the cyclical trends, it is not very frightening," he said.

The authors of Unstoppable Global Warming - Every 1,500 Years, say that history, ice core studies and stalagmites all agree on a natural cycle at roughly that interval that is superimposed on the longer, stronger ice ages and interglacial phases. They point as evidence of this natural cycle to the "Climate Optimum" - a period of warmer and wetter weather than the present Earth's climate, which took place 9,000 years ago to 5,000 years ago, and a cooling event 2,600 years ago.

During the Roman warming period from 200 BC to around AD 600 North Africa and the Sahara were wetter and supported crops. In more recent times they point to the Medieval warming of 900 to 1300, when Eric the Red's descendants colonised Greenland and the Little Ice Age of 1300 to 1850 which saw the Norse dairy farmers on Greenland grow short from malnutrition and eventually die out.

Mr Avery, a former US agriculture official whose celebrated earlier book was Saving the Planet with Pesticides and Plastic: The Environmental Triumph of High Yield Farming, suggests that the natural cycle of warming and cooling may come from variations in cosmic rays which have been linked to cloud formation.

This theory was validated in a recent paper in a Royal Society journal by scientists from the Danish National Space Centre who showed that sub-atomic particles - cosmic rays from exploding stars - play a major role in making clouds. During the past century cosmic rays became scarcer as vigorous activity by the sun forced them away. So there was less cloud cover to reflect away sunlight and a warmer world, according to the Danish scientists.

The book's authors say the 60 per cent reduction in fossil fuel emissions demanded from First World countries by international scientists working for the UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) would deliver a "crippling blow" to the world economy that could be avoided without damaging the planet.

Dr Richard Betts of the Meteorological Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Change said: "The key argument among sceptics has moved away from denying that there is man-made climate change to saying that it is weaker than mainstream science has suggested. "It is very well understood that greenhouse gases do cause radiative forcing. The work on cosmic rays is still quite speculative. The forthcoming report by IPCC next month will be the most reviewed document in the history of science. It is the IPCC process to review all the literature with an open mind. Many sceptics are involved in the process. "It is good to have the debate. It makes sure that the rest of us are certain about what we are doing."



Even where they are trying very hard

Visit the temples that grace the hills of Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital, and it's not hard to see why the city seems like the perfect birthplace for the global-warming pact that was named for it. At the end of my trip last November, I toured the grounds of Nanzenji, a Buddhist complex that sprawls through the wooded slopes to the east of the city, and watched red and gold leaves fall upon a rock garden, where they were swept up by monks. Kyoto's temples show how humans can live in nature and actually add to it, not just take from it.

Then I caught a cab back to the city center. The moment we left the temple, we struck gridlock on Kyoto's narrow streets. As we crawled toward the train station, I had ample time to look at the garish neon signs that seemed to sprout from every rooftop, transforming the scenery even as they spent energy. It was a reminder that while Kyoto embodies the aspirations of that famous protocol, it is still a modern city, with all the energy, cars and carbon that implies.

So it is with all of Japan. The world's second largest economy is undeniably its most efficient wealthy energy user, burning barely more than half as much oil per capita as the U.S. does and producing half as much carbon per person. What's more, it's not just energy hogs like the U.S. that Japan puts to shame; it even beats stridently green countries like Germany. But while Japan takes its Kyoto Protocol commitments seriously, it's still likely to fall far short of those goals.

Across the country, carbon emissions have actually grown more than 8% since 1990, a pattern reflected in Kyoto itself, where the number of cars increased from 1.3 million in 1990 to 2 million in 2002. The nation as a whole will need to slash emissions about 14% to achieve its targets. Which raises the obvious question: If ultra-efficient Japan can't wean itself from the carbon habit, what hope does the rest of the world have?

In an island country that has always had too many people on too little land, conservation has long been a part of life. The shoguns of the Edo era saved Japan's rapidly dwindling forests--and perhaps the country itself--through strict logging regulations. Although less likely than their samurai forebears to enforce conservation with decapitation, Japan's modern leaders do take a frugal approach to energy. Since 1973, Japan has nearly tripled its industrial output while holding energy consumption in the manufacturing sector roughly flat. Household appliances have increased in size while using less energy, thanks to a government program called Top Runner that constantly raises efficiency standards, making Japanese homes twice as efficient as their American counterparts.

Mindful of Kyoto, the government has lately shifted the focus to cutting greenhouse gases. That gave birth to the Cool Biz policy in 2005, under which offices save energy by keeping summer temperatures at a stifling 82.4oF (28oC). To beat the heat, salarymen are told to doff their black suits in favor of light colors and open collars. The result made the Prime Minister occasionally look as if he were addressing parliament from a beach in Waikiki, but at least Cool Biz had more style than a similar Japanese idea from the 1970s: the short-sleeved business suit. Sartorial concerns aside, Cool Biz saved about 79,000 tons of carbon dioxide in 2005.

But is that nearly enough? Cool Biz, Top Runner, even the hybrid taxi I took home from the office last night are all great ideas, but none of them can yet keep up with Japan's ballooning growth. Air conditioners and refrigerators may have grown more efficient, but there are simply more of them than ever, along with energy-demanding items that didn't exist in 1990, such as flat-panel TVs and DVD recorders. As more and more Japanese stay single and live by themselves, they're not just a disappointment to parents who want to see them wed; they're also jacking up carbon emissions by increasing the overall number of households.

Such changes are happening all over the world, frustrating the best efforts on climate change. Japan shows that to meet even the modest goals of Kyoto, "we might need to do something as extreme as 'no-car day' or 'no-air-conditioning day' once a week," says Koichi Iwama, an economics professor at Wako University who specializes in energy policy. Selling such ideas won't take the kind of miracle you'd pray for in a Kyoto temple, but it won't be easy either.



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Peer-reviewed global cooling

Post lifted from Lubos Motl

A large portion of physicists in Russia, especially solar physicists, have reached a "scientific consensus" - as others would call it - that the Earth will enter a period of global cooling in a couple of years and the temperatures will drop to the minimum sometime in the middle of this century.

If they're right, a period of deep freeze will start around 2055-2060 and last for 50 years or so. These predictions are based on a detailed analysis of internal dynamics of the Sun. 2007 is the International Heliophysical Year so you're not supposed to dismiss this science without reading it. Unfortunately, I cannot verify all these statements.

In the West, it has become popular for many activists such as Naomi Oreskes to claim that there is no peer-reviewed literature that contradicts the fashionable theory of the so-called global warming. Well, that's very far from reality as everyone who is familiar with basic research directions in this field knows very well. Whether or not we think that all these papers are right or not, it's a fact that there is even peer-reviewed literature that argues that we're gonna experience global cooling.

Because problems with similar statements are being looked for about 1,000 times more intensely by certain groups than problems with their own statements, I must offer you several links that would otherwise be unnecessary. ;-)

"Kinematics and Physics of Celestial Bodies" is a peer-reviewed journal that Springer translates from Ukrainian together with other journals in Russian (thanks for the correction, Gene!): click the Springer link, read the first sentence, and find the title of the journal. ;-) An article by Habibullo I. Abdussamatov in this journal published in 12/2005 discusses some of these solar cycles that are relevant for the climate. You may prefer another text about similar topics in conference proceedings published by Cambridge University Press. Other sources where similar articles were written include

It's not just theoretical papers that are dedicated to these questions and explanations.

is a project to measure the temporary variations of the shape and the diameter on the Russian segment of the International Space Station. The pages belong to the Central Astronomical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Pulkovo.

If you want to see how data about longer solar cycles is exctracted, see Nagovitsyn 2001. If you are already tired of Russian papers - the Russian Academy of Sciences opposed Kyoto protocol as scientifically ungrounded so the whole nation must be composed of ExxonMobil stooges, after all - you may prefer recent Western articles, see Renssen et al. 2006. The title says a lot about the dominant mechanisms:

I guess you believe me that I could list lots of papers analyzing the sunspots. But most of them surely don't contradict global warming, do they? A global warming inquisitor would say that a heretic would have to find a recent peer-reviewed paper - from 2007 or later - that explicitly says that we will see cooling in the next 20 years. And it must say so in the title if the heretic wants to be treated as a human being at least for 3 seconds. ;-)

Well, the inquisitor should have been much more careful! A 2007 paper in Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics (Springer) is called

Thanks to Timo Hämeranta for a message that included many more links and papers.

See also

Goodbye Hoover Dam?

Post lifted from Hall of Record

No, Hoover Dam has not sprung a major leak. Neither have the Tennessee Valley Authority dams. And China's Three Gorges Dam which is due to start generating hydroelectric power in 2008 has not run out of water. These hydroelectric dams are damning us all... according to an article in Scitizen.
What had sparked the reaction was my calculation that Brazil’s Balbina Dam was worse than fossil fuels in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions (Fearnside, 1995). A Canadian group had also shown that northern reservoirs can release greenhouse gases (Rudd et al., 1993). This was only the beginning of the long debate that continues to this day. Large emissions from water passing through the turbines of tropical dams have been have confirmed by direct measurements of methane release immediately below the Petit-Saut Dam in French Guiana (April et al., 2005) and the Balbina Dam in Brazil (Kemenes et al., 2006). Dr Philip M. Fearnside
Are you beginning to get the sense that no option for human civilization is either politically-correct or global warming-correct? Well, actually, this tells me that the U.S. should earn CO2 credits by shutting down hydroelectric plants and building old-technology coal-powered plants.

Are you beginning to get the sense that none of this is making a whole lot of practical sense?

The other day, I pointed out that a rather mundane elimination of traffic signal inefficiency would have real benefits for both the environment (not just CO2 reduction, but a host of toxic gases) and all of us individually by reducing our driving cost and time.

What I don't see from those who are demanding reductions in CO2 or other "greenhouse gases" are practical approaches. Rather it's all about creating penalties. Raise taxes. Create fees. Force uneconomical changes in the name of "risk management."

Okay, who is going to tell the Chinese that they can't start operating their new hydroelectric dam that was "clean" until this study said it wasn't?

(sssshhh... nuclear power the French were right)


They were not the nature-loving sages the Green/Left fantasize about

A lengthy, newly compiled fossil record of Australian mammals bolsters the notion that humanity's arrival on the island continent led to the extinction of many large creatures there. Archaeological evidence suggests that people arrived in northern and western Australia about 50,000 years ago (SN: 3/15/03, p. 173: Available to subscribers at By 5,000 years later, about 90 percent of the continent's mammals larger than a house cat had gone extinct, says Gavin J. Prideaux, a paleontologist at the Western Australian Museum in Perth. Casualties of that era include several species of kangaroos and wombats as well as marsupials that filled the ecological niches elsewhere populated by lions, hyenas, hippos, and tapirs.

By unearthing and cataloging specimens from a group of fossil-rich caves about 300 kilometers southeast of Adelaide, Prideaux and his colleagues assembled a nearly complete record of the past 500,000 years. Most of the 62 species of nonflying mammals on the list fell into the caverns via sinkholes, but some remains were brought in by owls that roosted there.

Scientists had compiled a long-term climate record for southeastern Australia by analyzing the caves' stalactites. Those structures formed and grew when rainfall was plentiful but not during dry spells.

During most of the past 500,000 years, the number and diversity of mammal fossils found in the Australian caves decreased only during intervals when the local climate was dry. When moisture returned, so did the animals. The only exception is the die-off of mammals between 50,000 and 45,000 years ago, the team reports in the January Geology.

Those extinctions occurred at least 25,000 years before the most recent ice age began. "The climate was stable then, and mammals really shouldn't have been going extinct," says coauthor Richard G. Roberts, a geochemist at the University of Wollongong in Australia. "The only thing that's new during that period is people," he adds.

Scientists are debating how people might have caused the extinctions. Some researchers argue that the new inhabitants drastically altered Australian ecosystems by burning the landscape (SN: 7/23/05, p. 61: Available to subscribers at However, large species may have died off gradually when people preyed on the mammals' offspring faster than the animals reproduced, says Roberts.

The fossil record compiled by Prideaux and his colleagues shows that "the mammal fauna was resilient through time, despite climate fluctuations," says David W. Steadman, a paleontologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Changes in mammal populations during times of climate change "were nothing like those that occurred after people showed up," he notes. "To think climate caused these extinctions is [now] untenable," comments Gifford H. Miller, a geologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder.


GREENIE LOGIC: Possums are in pest proportions in Australia and New Zealand but are still "endangered"

In New Zealand there are so many millions of possums that the New Zealanders kill them on sight if they can. And everywhere in Australia they live in cities along with the people. They THRIVE in cities. I live in an inner-city area but I see them nightly walking along the broadband cable above the street in front of my house. And I certainly hear them at night on my roof!

To some they're just pests that make a racket in the roof at night. But possums are an important part of Sydney's ecology and one that appears to be under stress from increasing urban sprawl and population density. [BOTH of those?? Both fewer people and more people are bad??]

A study by a Sydney academic suggests the marsupials are dying on northern Sydney roads at a rate that could eventually impact on the viability of their populations. Macquarie University's Tracey Adams found close to one possum per day was perishing on one 40 km stretch of road alone, a death toll which was worsened by the impact of cats, dogs and foxes.

She has successfully lobbied for the introduction for the creation of two trial bridges to allow urban possums to cross major roads. ``I wouldn't think that these kinds of losses would be sustainable in the longer term,'' said Adams, a research officer with Macquarie's Department of Biological Sciences and a Masters Degree student. ``Possums play a role in pruning the trees, adding to the newgrowth and in seed dispersal.''

Adams was motivated to study the impact of vehicles on suburban possums after noticing the high number of dead marsupials by the side of the road during her daily commute. She decided to scientifically log the number of fatalities that occured along both sides of a 40km stretch of road in the Ku-ring-gai area. Specific roads studied included Lady Game Drive, the Comenarra Parkway, Bobbin Head Road and Ryde and Mona Vale Roads. She was surprised at the high rate of deaths. Over two years she logged 585 possum corpses by the roadside. She said she believed the actual death toll from the roads was likely to be higher as some possums probably crawled off to die or had their bodies taken by predators before they could be counted. Counts were conducted twice weekly.

Her research suggested the majority of possums were killed close to street lighting. Adams said as well as having an impact on the local ecology the sight of a dead possum was upsetting for some motorists. Tourists visiting area national parks frequently use the roads involved in the study. Adams successfully lobbied groups including the Wildlife Information and Rescue Service (WIRES), Macquarie University and Ku-ring-gai council for funds to construct two possum bridges in East Linfield.



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

California's Jinxed Air Quality Measures and the Power of the Aesthetic

By Wayne Lusvardi

This week U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii held the California Air Resources Board in abeyance from enforcing new vehicular tail-pipe emission standards for greenhouse gases until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a related global warming case. The issue catapulted into Judge Ishii's court after a California Central Valley auto dealership and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers sued the state. At issue is whether the rule is a de facto mandate on fuel-economy standards, which must be set by the federal government. See here.
Like the phrase from the movie and novel "Love Story," judges and bureaucratic agencies "never seem have to say they're sorry" in California for the disastrous consequences after issuing their imperious air quality rulings. Let's consider the regulation of air emission standards under the Clean Air Act starting in the 1970's. Starting in 1975 car manufacturers had to install catalytic converters. And the EPA banned the use of leaded gasoline. MTBE replaced lead as an oxygenating agent in gasoline.

But MTBE, an additive intended to produce cleaner-burning gasoline, was found to contribute to both air and groundwater pollution. Underground gasoline storage tanks had to be removed statewide afterwards and many small independent gas stations went out of business due to the prohibitive cost. The price of gasoline spiked because of mandated seasonal changes to the blend of gasoline and the lack of competition from small, independent gas stations. The clean up cost to water agencies and gasoline station owners was in the billions.

Title 24: Energy Tight Buildings (Fresh air phobia)

Or consider California Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards enacted in 1978. Title 24 came into being after the "Energy Crises" of the late 1970's from the Mid-East oil embargo of 1973. Title 24 required that all new commercial office buildings be made "energy-tight" with sealed windows and re-circulating air and heat systems and modular office furniture which allowed indoor air to re-circulate over work cubicles.

Most agree that Title 24 saves energy, but it also makes people sick. Legionnaire's disease and "sick building syndrome" cases exploded after Title 24 was enacted. And billions of dollars have been spent ridding commercial and governmental building ventilation systems of (harmless) asbestos insulation (which was a factor in the disaster following the World Trade Center attacks). Other indoor air quality contaminants such as radon, formaldehyde in carpets, mold and more recently anthrax have also emerged as hazards mostly as a result of trapped air in buildings. This is also the source of the "second-hand smoke" health bogeyman.

The origin of all these toxic indoor air quality problems was not the toxic substances per se but the requirement to re-circulate indoor air with little exchange of fresh outdoor air. It violated the first law of toxicology: "the dose makes the poison." And concentrating nearly any substance indoors resulted in toxic and/or irritating exposures and sick days from epidemics of influenza.

State Energy Crisis of 2001

In 1996 the Federal EPA mandated that California reduce smog or it would impose fees on air and ship traffic, no-drive days and one-stop truck deliveries. See here. The fastest way to reduce smog was to mothball all its old, polluting power plants, which was called "energy deregulation." The problem of how to pay off the old mortgages (stranded debts) on the mothballed power plants was the real "crisis" behind the scenes of government. Regulatory agencies enacted price controls, tacked surcharges ("transition fees") on energy purchases, and erected inter-state trading barriers (spawning Enron's infamous energy congestion games such as "Fat Boy," "Death Star," and "Get Shorty").

The government hoped to induce an energy pricing fever to pay off the debts instead of having to raise taxes and risk politicians getting thrown out of office. This scheme obviously failed and the unpaid debts and unpaid electricity bills during the crisis were eventually rolled into a $12 billion bond issue. Water and utility districts, the U.C. system, public school districts, and industry were left with huge electricity bills. The three large Investor-Owned Utilities (IOU's) in California were forced to sell power at a loss nearly going bankrupt.

High Costs, Only Aesthetic Benefits

All of the above cases of draconian environmental regulatory failure wouldn't sound like something out of a Greek tragedy if they had accomplished healthier air quality as advertised. However, asthma and other respiratory maladies have continued to increase despite a 70% or more decrease in air pollutants in the past few decades. See here

The more recent effort in California to reduce greenhouse gases and pollution from a "dirty coal" plant in Utah is another example of chasing green power windmills. The apparent concern about the Utah power plant in question is not real health impacts, but wealth and aesthetic impacts on the tourist economy due to the haze around Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Zion, Canyonlands and Arches national parks. See here.

California Jinx

All great empires have used the power of aesthetics, such as the Mayan pyramids as depicted in the current movie Apocalypto, and more recently in the architecture and public works of fascists Hitler and Mussolini (see: Frederic Spotts, Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics). Apparently what drives California environmental policies is the sheer power of aesthetics and public spectacle extended to the visible environment. While proven health benefits never seem to materialize from such aesthetic environmental policies the costs are great and the side effects are paradoxically dangerous to human health.

It's as if California were jinxed. However, California's record of environmental regulatory jinxes reminds us that no one person or organization, is smart enough to foresee the unintended consequences of coercive actions far removed from where people live and work. As sociologist Peter L. Berger has written: "Policies that ignore the indigenous definitions of a situation are prone to fail."

Power of Aesthetics

Judges, government policy makers, and regulatory enforcement agencies aren't inclined to spend resources listening or modifying their rules: they think they know what's best already. This is especially the case of the "knowledge class" in academia, the legal and regulatory systems, advocacy organizations and the media which continue to make scapegoats of oil and energy companies for the misguided policies of government environmental agencies. Politicians aren't about to take a realistic look at the disasters such policies wrought because the power of aesthetics hold sway over crucial voting constituencies. California even has a governor whose career has been in producing such powerful aesthetic images.

When the U.S. Supreme Court or the Federal U.S. District Court convenes to consider another round of clean air regulations for California let's hope they realize that such are not the rational response to a body of evidence. They are an act of faith driven not only by vested interests but by sophisticated vested ideas fueled by a secularized invisible religion in a utopian rationally planned life.


Note!!! The information contained within in this website is written in layman's terms so that the general public can more easily absorb it.

As a retired Paleoclimatologist I can state that Earth's climate has been warming very slowly, a natural and normal progression, as we are currently in an Interglacial period (between ice ages). An Interglacial period is a geological interval of time with warmer global average temperature that separates glacials or ice ages. Our current Holocene interglacial has persisted since the Pleistocene, approximately 11,500 years ago. Superimposed on this very long climate change cycle is a number of smaller ones caused by small variations in the energy output of our Sun, wobbles of our Earth as it spins on it's axis and the eccentricity of Earth's orbit around the Sun.

However there is now growing evidence that the interglacial warming has revered itself but I'm not sure if the reversal signals a return to a long term Ice Age or another shorter Little Ice Age. Typically an interglacial period lasts approximately 11,500 years, so anecdotal evidence would point to a return of a long term ice age. However as the Sun is at an 8000 year high as far as activity it's a tough call. Personally I lean towards another "Little Ice Age".

However as an objective true environmentalist with no political ax to grind I stand firmly against the current junk science, Marxist whackjob political, media and pop culture craze of man induced harmful global warming and ozone depletion. It's a total and utter fraud partially based on scientists within government and academia garnering a livelihood on earmarked global warming taxpayer funded research giveaways by federal and state governments. Basically they tell the government what they want to hear to keep the $$$ rolling in. Long gone are the days of objectivity in science. There is also a sinister political and socio economic motive driving the harmful man induced climate change (global warming) crowd.

No matter what you read in magazines, newspapers, on the internet, hear on the radio, see on TV: There is absolutely no credible evidence that can be independently verified that harmful man induced climate change (global warming) is occurring. The same goes for harmful man induced ozone depletion.

The Ozone holes in the atmosphere in the Arctic and Antarctic regions are naturally occurring due to meteorological effects, the holes expand and contract with the change of season. The meteorological effects consist of high velocity stratospheric level winds that peak during local winter and act to destroy ozone. Also there is less UV radiation from the Sun due to the inclination of Earth's axis during hemispheric Winter.....

The record cold of the decades of the 1890's, 1940's, 1970's, 1980's and most recently the bitter northern hemisphere winters of 2000-2001, 2001-2002, 2002-2003 argue against man induced harmful global warming. Also Winter 2000-2001 and 2004-2005 in Siberian Russia as well as Winter 2004 in Antarctica was the coldest in recorded history. And let's not forget that January 2004 in Boston, MA was the coldest in 111 years. Grand Forks, ND set it's all time record low of -44 deg. below zero F, Fosston, MN also at -50 deg. below zero F and Saskatchewan Canada saw minimum temperatures fall to -62 deg. below zero F, all in Winter 2003-2004.

But what is the point of the above paragraph? It is to demonstrate that for every short term global record warm weather event that is heralded in the media as an example of global warming, there is a counter balancing global record cold weather event, usually ignored by the media.

The Warminista's point to each and every regional warm event as proof positive that harmful man induced climate change (global warming) is occurring. At the same time they just ignore regional cold events or I should say that they used too. Their new tactic now is to conveniently blame every regional cooling event as also proof positive that harmful man induced climate change (global warming) is occurring. So they have a win-win situation.

As follows are more cold weather anomaly's in the winter of 2006-2007, 2005-2006 and 2004-2005 that you probably have not heard about in the U.S. media.

.....On January 15, 2007 Lancaster, CA broke their monthly record, coming within one degree of their all-time record low temperature. LANCASTER TEMPERATURE OF 03 DEGREES TODAY SET A NEW MONTHLY RECORD FOR JANUARY. THE COLDEST ALL TIME RECORD FOR LANCASTER WAS 02 DEGREES SET DECEMBER 24 1984.....

.....Snow showers fell across portions of the central peninsula of Florida east of U.S. 41 and north of S.R. 50 during the Tuesday evening-Wednesday morning period November 21-22, 2006, including the Orlando metro area. The snow showers were the earliest ever observed on the central peninsula and state and reported since European settlers arrived. On the morning of November 22, 2006 Archbold which is located on the south central peninsula region observed a minimum temperature of 28 deg.....

.....It snowed in downtown Los Angeles for the first time in modern times on Saturday February 18, 2006.....

.....During the first two weeks of February 2006 all of Alaska with the exception of the panhandle region was in the grip of extreme below zero temperature. Inland area temperatures repeatedly dropped into the -50 to -65 deg. F below zero range.....

.....During the first week of December 2005 the coldest minimum temperatures ever observed so early in the season chilled the lower 48 states, with the exception of the Florida Peninsula. Below zero daytime readings dipped deep into Colorado and Kansas, with night time sub zero readings into west Texas. Frozen precipitation fell at Corpus Christi and Brownsville, TX and into northern Mexico S-SW of Brownsville and Del Rio. Some north and central Plains region areas saw minimum temperatures in the -20 to -30 deg. below zero range.....

.....November 2005 was the coldest in the last 30 years in the northern Great Plains, Mid West and Great Lakes regions.....

....During Southern Hemisphere Winter 2005 Russia's Vostok base on the ice cap of East Antarctica set the new all time coldest minimum temperature on Earth of -132 deg. below zero. The previous record was -129 deg below zero......

.....Tuesday was even colder than usual at Russia's Vostok base on the ice cap of East Antarctica. The high of -101 degrees was fully 25 degrees below average for early May. The low was -104 degrees, or about 15 degrees below average.....

.....Monday April 25, 2005 a 31.9 deg. minimum temperature is observed in central Florida. Two other locations observed 32 deg. I've been keeping track of temperature in Florida since 1965 and this is the latest 32 deg. minimum temperature during that time period.....

.....Sunday-Monday April 24-25, 2005. A record breaking late season snowfall has occurred in parts of Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Snowfall totals of up to 12-24" have been measured.

.....Sunday April 17, 2005 a 31.8 deg. minimum temperature is observed in central Florida.....

.....Greater Havana, Cuba, dawned rather chilly Monday morning April 4, 2005. At the Jose Marti international airport south of the city's center, the temperature dipped to 50 degrees whereas the average daily low during April is 70. A minimum temperature of 31.6 deg. was also observed in central Florida.....

.....Late season chill has descended on southeast Europe. At the same time, moisture streaming in from the Mediterranean has produced snow over parts of Turkey. The mountainous terrain over central Turkey has had a few inches of snow. Even in the capital city, Ankara, the snow managed to accumulate as temperatures were just below freezing and the snow was briefly heavy.....

.....The snowfall at Cleveland Hopkins airport for the day is 6.4 inches. This brings the snowfall total for the 2004-2005 season to 105.3 inches, which breaks the all time record for the snowiest season at Cleveland Hopkins airport, which was 101.1 inches in 1995-1996.....

.....The coldest March night on record occurred across the Netherlands this past Thursday night. Sub-zero readings were recorded across the country. Marknesse fell to an overnight low of -5F. Such cold weather capped a week of heavy snows which buried some parts of the country under 20 inches. This winter has been the snowiest in the past 50 years for the Netherlands.....

.....Snow-covered palm trees in the Mediterranean, travel chaos on the continent and a rise in heating costs are the results of an unusual European cold snap.....

.....In some parts of The Netherlands snowfall was up to 20 inches, the highest levels recorded for March in the past 20 to 25 years, the Dutch meteorological institute said.....

.....Italy's port city of Genoa was paralyzed by a blanket of rare late winter white stuff that caused traffic chaos as far away as Milan, in one of the coldest starts to March on record, meteorologists said. Authorities closed Genoa airport, shut city schools and ordered buses off the roads as a blizzard blanketed the Liguria coastline. Milan also got a rare covering of snow during the morning, as did the nearby cities of Turin and Parma. In Turin, the thermometer fell to a record 17 Fahrenheit overnight, while Rome suffered its coldest March for 18 years.....

.....Heavy snowfall and below-freezing temperatures across most of northern and central Greece this week have cut off dozens of mountain villages, blocked roads and led authorities to close some schools.....

.....In Spain, renowned for its warm winter sunshine in parts, palm trees in the Mediterranean city of Barcelona have been topped with snow and Madrid has seen its heaviest snowfall for about 15 years.....

.....One of the worst winters in decades continues to bring heavy snows and cold air to Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Pakistan, over 300 people have died from the series of heavy snowfalls in the past few weeks. The heavy snows have stranded over hundreds of thousands of people in Kashmir.....

.....Monday dawned with bitter cold in much of central Quebec, Canada. At Lac Benoit, for example, the early morning low was -48 degrees. Near Manouane, -46 degrees was registered early Monday, and the -43 degrees registered at Bonnard was a full 30 degrees below average.....

.....Heavy snowfall in Indian-controlled Kashmir has claimed more than 100 lives, and dozens were still missing Monday, the BBC reported. The snow created avalanches over villages south of Srinagar, destroying homes and killing about 70 people. Indian soldiers and medical personnel were searching for survivors Monday in the region, where 15 feet of snow has fallen since Friday.....

.....Snow this week has once again whitened northernmost Africa. In Algeria, the city of Constantine lay under seven inches of snow early Wednesday. A few weeks ago the same region was hit with 24-26" of the white stuff.....

.....In far northern Norway, the town of Kautokeino set consecutive lows of -27 and -26 degrees Monday and Tuesday. These were followed by afternoon highs of -12 and -10 degrees. In February, an average day here would have a low of 0 and a high of 13 degrees, so the weather has been considerably colder than usual.....

.....An impressive cold wave persisted over much of the Balkan Peninsula Friday. Night-times this week have been especially frigid over the region owing to clear skies, light winds and, in many places, a thick snow cover. In Serbia, Sjenica registered consecutive lows of -17, -21, -21, -19 and -20 degrees F. Monday through Friday whereas February's mean daily low is 23. Bitola, Macedonia, dipped 11 to 14 degrees below zero each of these five mornings.....

.....Cold rains and mountain snows fell early this week along the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The latest bout of wet weather boosted rainfall at Beirut, Lebanon, to about six inches since the start of the month. Snow fell low enough to blanket ground down to at least 1000 feet, thereby whitening the hills from Lebanon south into Israel and the West Bank, and also to Amman, Jordan.....

.....Northwestern Canada's Yukon Territory has been much colder than usual so far this February. The first six days of the month in Dawson, for example, registered a minus-40-degree average temperature with this mark 28 degrees below the mean. Tuesday to Wednesday were even colder than usual in northwestern Canada's Yukon Territory. Wednesday, the temperature dipped to -55 degrees in Old Crow and -52 degrees in Dawson; these marks were 25-30 degrees below average for early February. Earlier in the season the same region was struck with -60 to -65 deg. below zero F temperatures.....

.....The weather has waxed wild over southeastern Australia early this week. It began hot (it is mid summer, after all), but cooled dramatically following a strong cold front Tuesday into Wednesday. Take Melbourne, where Tuesday saw 99 degrees early in the afternoon. Thereafter, rainy southerly winds ushered in a chill that held temperatures between 45 and 50 degrees right through the day Wednesday. Rainfall was 2.9 inches as of Wednesday evening. The shift in temperature was even more striking inland: Griffith, New South Wales, reached a blistering 107 degrees Tuesday yet, at the same time Wednesday, the temperature was only in the lower 50s! Melbourne is on the same latitude as Washington, DC. This is a tremendous cold anomaly.....

.....Over eastern Argentina and southwestern Uruguay, a late-week blast of mid-summer heat clashing with a strong cold front sparked widespread torrential rains powered by thunderstorms. Two-day rainfall was 6.4 inches at Dolores, Argentina, and at least 6.3 inches at Carrasco, near Montevideo, Uruguay. Rainfall was 3-5 inches over greater Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Monday morning was chilly and windswept 55 degrees with 45-mph gusts. Elsewhere in Argentina, rains behind the strong cold front made Sundays an unusually cool afternoon at Neuquen: the high was 59 degrees versus an average high of 89.....

.....The 4-12" of snow that fell in Corpus Christi and Victoria, TX a few days ago occurred on the same latitude as the Tampa Bay area. Snow and sleet eventually also fell all across the Gulf Coast to north Florida.....

More here

Life’s too short to be ‘carbon neutral’

Measuring everything we do by how much carbon it produces is a contemporary form of penance in today's Britain.

Carbon calculators have become the moral barometers for our age. Plug in what you have done - run a car, heated the house, taken a flight - and the result will tell you the amount by which you need to atone. No Hail Marys are required, just a tenner for the plane, or twenty quid for running the car. Nonconformism is not an option. Tony Blair first refused to apologise for his long-haul flights, but he soon repented and offset the carbon from his family’s holidays.

As a measure of virtue, the pluses and minuses of the carbon calculator indicate a peculiar moral blindness. It apparently doesn’t matter what the flight was for: whether a drug trafficker or a conman travelling to do a deal, or a violinist flying to give a concert or a man to see his sick mother, each and every plane journey is judged in the same way. The worthiness or otherwise of people’s activities gets pushed into the background, and the focus shifts to the numbers of carbon dioxide molecules admitted into the atmosphere.

Nothing is beyond the purview of this method of appraisal. One company, Climate Care, suggests giving carbon offsets as a gift to loved ones. ‘The perfect gift for the person who has everything - offset some CO2 on their behalf. We will send you a certificate with a personalised message that you can send to your nearest and dearest.’

This includes weddings - presumably so that the couple don’t start out by living in sin. With an online payment, you can gift the newlyweds peace of mind by offsetting their nuptials, including the guests driving or flying to the church, then heating the reception hall and running the disco late into the night. At the other end of the life-cycle, you are advised instead to go for a woodland burial with biodegradable coffin instead of carbon-dioxide producing cremation.

Everything that emits carbon is something to apologise for. The human good that has been added to the world - from a new relationship, to a new land-speed record - is apparently of little account. We are cast not as people trying to do things, aiming towards goals and objectives, but as organisms producing a certain amount of global warming substance. As a motto for life, this is ‘first, do no harm to the atmosphere’.

‘Carbon neutral’ is the desired state of Nirvana, and many are starting to take on carbon neutrality as a kind of ethos. Today, Britain’s high street giant Marks and Spencer has announced a £200m, five-year plan to become carbon neutral; the G8 held a carbon neutral summit; bands produce carbon neutral albums; the City of Newcastle aims to be carbon neutral soon; and schools and colleges in both the UK and USA are working on offsetting their carbon. Tellingly, the New Oxford American Dictionary chose ‘carbon neutral’ as its word of the year in 2006, commenting ‘It’s more than a trend, it’s a movement.’

This way of looking at the world pollutes the social environ - the space in which we should be thinking about what we want to do and why, and judging the things we have done. The aim becomes not ‘I want to do something worthwhile’ but ‘I want to emit no noxious substances into the atmosphere’, which is a dull and flat way of viewing human existence.

We should chuck out the carbon calculators, and try to focus on more meaningful ways of judging our activities. Is a school a good school? Is Newcastle a vibrant and fun city to live in? Was a flight a good use of our time? Did a summit yield important agreements? The question of whether something is a ‘waste’ should hang on whether or not it yielded important results, rather than on some indifferent totalling of the amount of energy consumed.

If society requires solutions to a problem such as global warming these should be as large-scale and administrative as possible, dealing with methods of energy production, housing insulation, appliance and vehicle manufacture. These approaches are likely to be more effective than everybody giving a donation to Climate Care each time they sneeze. More importantly, it would leave us free to think of more interesting and meaningful ways of holding ourselves and others to account.

We’ll be carbon neutral when we’re dead, but till then we have places to go and people to meet.



This is the drought that was supposed to be caused by global warming. It's been raining several times a week for months where I live (Brisbane, Southeast Queensland) at the Northern end of Australia too. So it's global cooling now? Don't hold your breath! The first picture below shows flooding in Tasmania and the second shows flooding in South Australia, the third is from Queensland:


A torrential downpour caused havoc across the state yesterday, leaving parts of Hobart almost a metre under water. Traffic in Hobart's northern suburbs was plunged into chaos for several hours in the afternoon as major roads were transformed into rivers, with overflowing drains spewing torrents of water into the paths of vehicles.

Some motorists -- particularly those in 4WDs -- opted to battle through the waist-deep water along parts of the Brooker Highway before police closed the road, while others abandoned their vehicles after they slid off the road or began to fill with water. Civilians were spotted attempting to direct traffic as fleets of tow trucks and council crews battled to restore order under the stormy skies and wet conditions, which were the consequence of a monsoon raging in the Northern Territory.

Swollen suburban creeks also streamed across onto the roads and footpaths. Hobart's rivulet was a torrent of white water and fire trucks and police cars dotted the city as a spate of security alarms were set off. A Tasmania Fire Service spokeswoman said firies had attended more alarm calls in one 24-hour period than they would normally attend in three weeks. Firefighters attended 53 fire alarms activated after flooding caused electrical faults. Electrical faults caused a fire in the substation under the Island State Credit Union building in Victoria St, Hobart, and at the Tasmaid Pura Milk factory in Lenah Valley and Cadbury Schweppes at Claremont.

Fire crews used pumps to stem rising waters at Cadburys until contractors arrived. Crews also assisted with flooding at various locations across the city. Police radio rooms were inundated with calls from concerned citizens, although few accidents were reported.

Businesses, particularly those in Derwent Park, worked madly to mop up their showrooms and offices. Jack Mekina, owner of Mekina Technologies on Derwent Park Rd, said he and surrounding business were facing large clean-up and damage bills. "The whole showroom is swimming in a metre of water, it's running like a river. I've been here seven years and have never seen anything like it," he said.

Ten patients had to be moved from the Old Repatriation Hospital in Davey St to the Royal Hobart Hospital as parts of the building flooded, and Woolworths in Campbell St also closed due to flooding. Sport was also disrupted, with major events including the cricket at Bellerive and racing at Elwick called off.

The massive downpour was the climax of three days of showers across the state. While the south of the state was worst hit yesterday, the north was also wet, particularly on Friday and Saturday. As much as 55mm of rain was recorded at Quarmby Bluff in the 24 hours to 9am yesterday, 45mm at Port Davey and 44mm at Strathgordon.

Bushy Park Roadhouse owner Gaylene Fenton was taken by surprise when her business was flooded on Friday, along with nearby houses. "There were frogs and worms in the shop and water everywhere. I've never seen so much rain," she said. The shop needed lots of cleaning before it reopened the following day, as well as help from the fire brigade to pump out the water, but she said at least local farmers were happy. "We desperately needed the rain and the farmers are happy. It's just a pity it had to come all at once," she said.


South Australia:

Unsealed roads devastated by flooding across South Australia's outback could be closed for days as crews attempt to repair bitumen roads, remove debris and mud and rebuild concrete floodways.

Families and a busload of tourists are stranded in the Flinders Ranges town of Hawker, 400km north of Adelaide, after it was cut off by heavy flooding over the weekend. The State Emergency Service expects the road to Quorn to be opened later today. "The roads have literally disappeared so where there was a floodway there is now a hole of three or four metres," a spokesman for the state Department of Transport told ABC radio.

The Bureau of Meteorology reported that 150mm of rain fell within 48 hours in Hawker, seven times the January average.

Mayors of towns hit by flooding have also called on governments to provide relief funding for businesses and homes damaged by water. "It may well be that we have to approach the federal Government for a state of emergency type funding to do this," Whyalla mayor Jim Pollock told local radio.



The drought broke across large tracts of western Queensland at the weekend as a monsoon low delivered rain pastoralists have been waiting nearly seven years to see. But the rain was moving northeast towards the Gulf of Carpentaria last night leaving southeast Queensland still in a dire drought, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. The huge system defied forecasts on Saturday, moving east from central Australia and dropping record rainfall on parts of Queensland's far west.

All roads to Bedourie were flooded and the town cut off, after 169mm was dumped late Saturday night. "It's gone from drought to flood," said weather bureau senior forecaster Jeff Callaghan. "Bedourie only had 65mm of rain all last year." Another 28mm fell yesterday, according to the bureau.

The bureau issued flood warnings for the Paroo and Bulloo rivers and Georgina and Eyre creeks. Winds up to 90km/h accompanied the rain. Other west Queensland towns receiving significant rain were Boulia, 77mm, Thargomindah, 68mm, and Birdsville, 39mm, according to the bureau.

The only hope for the parched southeast to receive anything more than a few storms over the next few days was the monsoonal system's unpredictability, Mr Callaghan said. "You get this incredible rain all around Queensland except for here, it's amazing," 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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, January 22, 2007


From "Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics" 95, 115-121 (2007)

Multi-scale analysis of global temperature changes and trend of a drop in temperature in the next 20 years


A novel multi-timescale analysis method, Empirical Mode Decomposition (EMD), is used to diagnose the variation of the annual mean temperature data of the global, Northern Hemisphere (NH) and China from 1881 to 2002. The results show that: (1) Temperature can be completely decomposed into four timescales quasi-periodic oscillations including an ENSO-like mode, a 6-8-year signal, a 20-year signal and a 60-year signal, as well as a trend. With each contributing ration of the quasi-periodicity discussed, the trend and the 60-year timescale oscillation of temperature variation are the most prominent. (2) It has been noticed that whether on century-scale or 60-year scales, the global temperature tends to descend in the coming 20 years. (3) On quasi 60-year timescale, temperature abrupt changes in China precede those in the global and NH, which provides a denotation for global climate changes. Signs also show a drop in temperature in China on century scale in the next 20 years. (4) The dominant contribution of CO2 concentration to global temperature variation is the trend. However, its influence weight on global temperature variation accounts for no more than 40.19%, smaller than those of the natural climate changes on the rest four timescales. Despite the increasing trend in atmospheric CO2 concentration, the patterns of 20-year and 60-year oscillation of global temperature are all in falling. Therefore, if CO2 concentration remains constant at present, the CO2 greenhouse effect will be deficient in counterchecking the natural cooling of global climate in the following 20 years. Even though the CO2 greenhouse effect on global climate change is unsuspicious, it could have been excessively exaggerated. It is high time to re-consider the trend of global climate changes.

1. Introduction

On interdecadal timescales, whether the global temperature will continue to warm up or to drop in the coming 20 years is not only a hot spot but also a daunting task in global climate change research as shown in many studies (Stott and Ketteborough, 2002; Schneider and Held, 2001; Michael and Jeffrey, 1995). In recent decades, scientists have paid more attention to the CO2 greenhouse effects on global climate changes. Some modeling studies (Caldeira and Duffy, 2000; Sarmiento et al, 1998; Manabe and Stouffer, 1993) indicated a relatively significant Southern Ocean sink due to anthropogenic CO2. Many researches (Houghton et al, 2001; Joos et al, 1999; Sarmiento and Quere, 1996; Manabe and Stouffer, 1994) argued that when CO2 doubled in the atmosphere, the global mean temperature would increase by about 1.4 to 5.8 C. That means the global mean temperature will rise as a result of the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. But Petit et al (1999) and Stauffer et al (1998) thought that the increasing greenhouse effects would only partly induce the global to warm up as a natural variation process. And the past records have indicated that the increase of CO2 concentration did not occur before the warming up as shown by some studies (Fischer et al, 1999; Schlesinger and Ramankutty, 1994).

Since it is now obvious that the CO2 content in the atmosphere does not decrease, will the global temperature go on warming up in the following decades like that in the 20th century? Global climate change is affected not only by anthropogenic activities (the increase of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere), but also through natural factors in climatic system (driving forces) such as solar activities. The natural driving forces and combined forces generally display multitimescale oscillations. Thereby, to answer this question, it is primary to ravel whether the climatic period (quasi-period) variation on different timescales or the natural variation trend is affected by the variety of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, or which climatic quasi period is most affected by the increase of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

Fourier analysis is used as a general tool for examining time series. Although it is valid under general conditions, there are some crucial restrictions of Fourier analysis, i.e., the system must be linear and the data must be periodic or stationary. However, climate dataset is both nonlinear and non-stationary with multi-timescale oscillations. By applying the traditional timeseries techniques based on Fourier Transforms, one can get a time-frequency distribution through sliding the window successively along the time axis. Meanwhile, it has to assume the data to be strictly stationary. Furthermore, the window width must be narrow, and the frequency resolution requires longer time series. The wavelet approach is essentially an adjustable window Fourier spectral analysis, and it is of non-adaptive nature. Once the basic wavelet is selected, one will have to use it to analyze all the data. SSA is the Fourier transform of the empirical orthogonal function (EOF), so we have to ensure that each EOF component is stationary. Otherwise, the Fourier spectral analysis will make little sense as for the EOF components. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that EOF components derived from a nonlinear and nonstationary dataset are both linear and stationary.

Hereby, in order to overcome the difficulty of studying nonlinear and non-stationary time series, a method called the Empirical Mode Decomposition (EMD) was developed in 1998 by Huang et al (1998; 1999) to facilitate the decomposition of climate records in terms of natural oscillatory patterns and trends. We try to use this method to analyze the maximum weight of CO2 greenhouse effect on global temperature variation on multi-scales. Based on it, it is possible for us to forecast whether global climate will continue to warm up or to cool down in the next 20 years.


6. Discussion

EMD method can decompose climate dataset into various timescale oscillations and each IMF component indicates temperature variation on different timescales. The trend and the quasi-60-year oscillation are the most prominent in temperature variation in the global, NH and China. In the meantime, temperature variation in China precedes that in the global and NH, so it provides a denotation for global climate changes. Noticeably, the interdecadal oscillations of temperature in China which was at its peak in 2001 have been falling recently. It thus indicates that whether on century scale or on the periods of quasi 60-year oscillations, the global climate will be cooling down in the next 20 years. It should be noted that we did not forecast it on the timescale of month or year. On the month or year timescale, the influencing factors in climate change are both numerous and inconstant. Therefore, climate change is of multi-frequencies or frequency conversion. But on 60-year to century timescale, the influencing factors in climate change are relatively stable. So, we consider global temperature will be in falling on 60-year timescale in the coming 20 years. And again, our primary conclusion, i.e., that atmospheric CO2 concentration is not a key determinant of periodic variation of the global temperature. The global climate warming is not solely affected by the CO2 greenhouse effect. The best example is temperature obviously cooling however atmospheric CO2 concentration is ascending from 1940s to 1970s. Although the CO2 greenhouse effect on global climate changes is unsuspicious, it could have been excessively exaggerated. It is high time to re-consider the global climate changes. We consider that CO2 greenhouse effect impact on the trend of global temperature, simultaneity we expect to find the effect on climate change on different timescales by analysis the solar activity, earth movement (nutation, rift and volcano activity) and the others greenhouse gases using EMD method.


The cost of combating climate change could be 40 per cent lower than the figure given in last year's watershed Stern report on the economic impact of global warming, according to research to be announced today. The research will be presented by Lars Josefsson, chief executive of Vattenfall, the Swedish power company, and is likely to attract particular attention as he is a special adviser on the environment to Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor.

Germany took on the presidency of the European Union on January 1 and Ms Merkel has made combating climate change a centrepiece of its rule. Sigmar Gabriel, Germany's environment minister, will attend the talk by Mr Josefsson. "The cost of limiting the concentration of greenhouse gases is equivalent to 0.6 per cent of the total gross world product - if all the identified potential is exploited," Mr Josefsson told the FT.

Sir Nicholas Stern, a UK economist, propelled climate change up the political agenda in a report that claimed global warming could shrink the world economy by 20 per cent if nothing was done, but that action today would cost 1 per cent of GDP.

Mr Josefsson's report says lower costs can be achieved using measures that "pay for themselves", such as insulation improvements and fuel efficient cars. But it also envisages more use of nuclear power and carbon capture technology.

The research, which was paid for by Vattenfall, forms part of a drive by Mr Josefsson to enhance the role played by the world's leading companies to combat climate change. He oversaw last week's announcement of the creation of the 3C initiative, in which 15 of the world's largest companies joined forces to devise "commercial solutions and market-based investments" to climate issues.

US companies such as General Electric, NRG Energy and Duke Energy signed up to the 3C initiative, a development Mr Josefsson said meant the interests of US business and climate protection were becoming increasingly aligned. He hopes the revelation that tackling global warming could be much cheaper than first thought, and led by large businesses, will galvanise political leaders into addressing climate-related issues. Mr Josefsson plans to present the research to business leaders in Davos this month and will travel to Asia to convince business leaders there to join the 3C programme.



GUESTS at a 300 pound-a-head climate change conference turned up in a stream of gasguzzling sports cars and 4x4s. Former US vice president Al Gore was the main speaker at yesterday's event in the Hilton Hotel in Glasgow. While the meeting was to address global warming, business leaders turned up in a range of flash motors including Bentleys, Jeeps and Porsches. One onlooker said: "This was for a conference on how to save the planet. It would appear the irony was lost on them." ......

More here


Showing that warming could not be the cause of extreme weather. Summary from "ArXivPhysics" November 2006

We theoretically study the statistics of record-breaking daily temperatures and validate these predictions using both Monte Carlo simulations and 126 years of available data from the city of Philadelphia. Using extreme statistics, we derive the number and the magnitude of record temperature events, based on the observed Gaussian daily temperature distribution in Philadelphia, as a function of the number of years of observation. We then consider the case of global warming, where the mean temperature systematically increases with time. Over the 126-year time range of observations, we argue that the current warming rate is insufficient to measurably influence the frequency of record temperature events, a conclusion that is supported by numerical simulations and by the Philadelphia data. We also study the role of correlations between temperatures on successive days and find that they do not affect the frequency or magnitude of record temperature events.


In meteorology, as in real estate, it seems location is everything -- making generalizations very shaky

Nine years after the National Weather Service moved its official weather station from downtown Los Angeles, a team of researchers has found that the station's new home, though only four miles away, experiences significantly different weather. "If you move it, you make it cooler and drier," said Bill Patzert, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist and one of the study's researchers. "You're fooling with Mother Nature's climate record."

After spending many years atop a Department of Water and Power parking garage, the official station is now located at ground level on the University of Southern California's lush campus. Because it's closer to the ocean and at lower elevation, Patzert and his colleagues found, the official weather of Los Angeles is now about 2 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than it would be otherwise. "As far as making a weather forecast prediction, it's not really a problem for us," said National Weather Service Meteorologist Eric Boldt.

But for climatologists seeking to measure the effect of global warming and urban heat islands, every degree is significant. Scientists believe global warming increased the Earth's overall temperature 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit during the last century.

Los Angeles' record is likely not the only one affected by station relocations. Around the country, many official National Weather Service observation posts have been moved as the government shifted to automated systems. "When I presented this paper in San Antonio [at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society this week], the response was overwhelming - everyone had a story to tell about how stations had been moved," Patzert said. "It's not local, it's not isolated, it's not unique."

Before the move, the official weather had been recorded from downtown Los Angeles since 1877, though even in those times there were debates about the merits of different locations. An 1892 Los Angeles Times article noted of the official record, collected at that time by the Signal Service: "While the Government's [rain gauge] is located at the top of a four-story building the others are placed on or near the surface of the ground." The difference, they wrote, "represents a uniform and almost unvarying tendency of the Signal Service to underestimate our rainfall."

After its most recent move, Patzert found, the station now records an inch less rain each year, on average. This had some disappointing side-effects for Patzert. "[The winter of] 2004-2005 set a new record, it was the wettest year on record - but you have to use the Department of Water and Power data," he said. "They cheated all of us weather nuts out of our record." Instead, he'd like for the National Weather Service to move its official Los Angeles site back to the previous location, where weather conditions are still recorded daily. But according to meteorologist Boldt, "there's no prospect of that."



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, January 21, 2007


An email from Paul Biggs [] to Benny Peiser in which he notes that sea levels have FALLEN in some parts of the Pacific

Andrew Glikson makes a number of assumptions about sea level rise, flawed computer models, the factors driving climate change, and what may happen in the future. We have a peer reviewed hypothesis that can explain the bulk of climate change, accross 4 billion years, and in recent decades. I refer to the solar/cosmic ray/low level cloud cover/climate connection. Nir Shaviv explains that here.

In all solar activity proxies, one can see that on top of the 11-year solar cycle, there is a secular change over the 20th century: Increase from 1910 or so to 1940, decrease to the 70's and then an increase. The catch, however, is that the secular trend at different energies is different. At low energies (which are not relevant to the amount of atmospheric ionization, but which keep on being mentioned), the increase from the 70's is week, though it is still there, and comparable to the decreased from the 1940's. When measured with high energies (e.g., as measured with muon ionization chambers), namely, at energies relevant to the amount of atmospheric ionization, the increase is larger, more than the decreased from the 1940's to 1970's.

In any case, if you read this scientific paper which I published in JGR, you'll see that the best fit estimate that I get is that solar activity explains 2/3's or so of the warming. This would imply that a good fraction of the warming from the 70's could be anthropogenic, however, we don't really know that, it would again be circumstantial evidence without a smoking gun.

From the 1940's to 1970's, CO2 and temperature went in opposite directions, the excuse being that the cooling was caused by aerosols. The solar/cosmic ray/climate connection requires no such excuse. There is the possibility that we are heading for a cooling period similar to that of the Little Ice Age, as highlighted in a number of recent articles on CCNet, due to a fall in solar activity and the solar wind. The sun's polar field is now at its weakest since measurements began in the early 1950s. A long range forecast for solar cycle 25 from NASA is here

Furthermore, according to an email from Dick Reynolds to Roger Pielke Sr last year, the trend in the global average sea surface temperature has been flat for the last few years. Ocean heat content is probably a more reliable metric than land surface temperature. Lyman et al, 2006 suggested that 20% of the ocean heat gained since the mid 1950's was lost between 2003 and 2005.

Seeing as Andrew is an Australian, and he points out that 80% of the poplulation live near the coast, I dug out a recent paper on sea levels relating to 'tectonically stable' Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, not a million miles away from the alarmist's favourite island of Tuvalu: The Holocene 16, 6 (2006) pp. 839-848 - "Holocene changes in sea level and coastal environments on Rarotonga, Cook Islands, South Pacific Ocean" by Moriwaki et al.:

The coastal plain of Rarotonga comprises the most widely developed beach ridge and wetland system in the Cook Islands. As is the case on other tectonically stable islands of Polynesia, the mid- to late-Holocene sea-level curve obtained for Rarotonga shows an elevation of +1.5 m higher than at present. The highstand likely began c. 4500 cal. BP in Rarotonga following a gradual rise of sea level from c. 6500 cal. BP at which time sea level was nearly as same as that of the present day. Sea level has fallen by c. 1.5 m since c. 800-500 cal. BP, resulting in emergence of the coastal plain. The mid- to late-Holocene highstand may be largely the result of hydroisostatic movements, as discussed elsewhere for Polynesia. However, the close agreement of the recent sea-level fall with evidence for climatic change suggests that the influence of the climatic factor is possible, and requires further examination. The mid- to late-Holocene coastal environments, in particular the shoreline changes occurring on the present coastal plain of Rarotonga, have evolved in relation to sea-level change. The Holocene coastal plain began to prograde c. 4500 cal. BP. Since then, shorelines have advanced seaward during effectively stable sea levels until c. 800-500 cal. BP. The eastern coast has experienced the most conspicuous advance, with multiple beach ridge and swale plains being formed on the antecedent reef flat, while the lesser advance on the southern coast has resulted in the formation of only narrow single ridge and swale landforms and the development instead of a wide reef flat.

We could continue to swap peer reviewed papers, but that would only serve to highlight that the uncertainties outweigh the certainties in climate change. Sea levels are spatial. Attempting to manipulate atmospheric CO2 levels will not allow us control climate change or sea levels. The magnitude of the anthropogenic influence on climate is uncertain and is not confined to a single factor such as CO2.

Meanwhile, China's CO2 emissions are expected to overtake those of the USA in 2009, and emissions from transport in Asia are predicted to treble over the next 25 years. For CO2, the only way seems to be up, and it stays in the atmosphere for around 50 to 200 years. If global cooling arrives, despite increasing atmospheric CO2 levels, then we will have a very good indication of what actually drives climate change.


Gore chickens out of an interview with knowlegeable critics. He clearly knows that his claims won't stand critical examination


Al Gore is traveling around the world telling us how we must fundamentally change our civilization due to the threat of global warming. Today he is in Denmark to disseminate this message. But if we are to embark on the costliest political project ever, maybe we should make sure it rests on solid ground. It should be based on the best facts, not just the convenient ones. This was the background for the biggest Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, to set up an investigative interview with Mr. Gore. And for this, the paper thought it would be obvious to team up with Bjorn Lomborg, author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist," who has provided one of the clearest counterpoints to Mr. Gore's tune.

The interview had been scheduled for months. Mr. Gore's agent yesterday thought Gore-meets-Lomborg would be great. Yet an hour later, he came back to tell us that Bjorn Lomborg should be excluded from the interview because he's been very critical of Mr. Gore's message about global warming and has questioned Mr. Gore's evenhandedness. According to the agent, Mr. Gore only wanted to have questions about his book and documentary, and only asked by a reporter. These conditions were immediately accepted by Jyllands-Posten. Yet an hour later we received an email from the agent saying that the interview was now cancelled. What happened?

One can only speculate. But if we are to follow Mr. Gore's suggestions of radically changing our way of life, the costs are not trivial. If we slowly change our greenhouse gas emissions over the coming century, the U.N. actually estimates that we will live in a warmer but immensely richer world. However, the U.N. Climate Panel suggests that if we follow Al Gore's path down toward an environmentally obsessed society, it will have big consequences for the world, not least its poor. In the year 2100, Mr. Gore will have left the average person 30% poorer, and thus less able to handle many of the problems we will face, climate change or no climate change.

Clearly we need to ask hard questions. Is Mr. Gore's world a worthwhile sacrifice? But it seems that critical questions are out of the question. It would have been great to ask him why he only talks about a sea-level rise of 20 feet. In his movie he shows scary sequences of 20-feet flooding Florida, San Francisco, New York, Holland, Calcutta, Beijing and Shanghai. But were realistic levels not dramatic enough? The U.N. climate panel expects only a foot of sea-level rise over this century. Moreover, sea levels actually climbed that much over the past 150 years. Does Mr. Gore find it balanced to exaggerate the best scientific knowledge available by a factor of 20?

Mr. Gore says that global warming will increase malaria and highlights Nairobi as his key case. According to him, Nairobi was founded right where it was too cold for malaria to occur. However, with global warming advancing, he tells us that malaria is now appearing in the city. Yet this is quite contrary to the World Health Organization's finding. Today Nairobi is considered free of malaria, but in the 1920s and '30s, when temperatures were lower than today, malaria epidemics occurred regularly. Mr. Gore's is a convenient story, but isn't it against the facts?

He considers Antarctica the canary in the mine, but again doesn't tell the full story. He presents pictures from the 2% of Antarctica that is dramatically warming and ignores the 98% that has largely cooled over the past 35 years. The U.N. panel estimates that Antarctica will actually increase its snow mass this century. Similarly, Mr. Gore points to shrinking sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere, but don't mention that sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere is increasing. Shouldn't we hear those facts? Mr. Gore talks about how the higher temperatures of global warming kill people. He specifically mentions how the European heat wave of 2003 killed 35,000. But he entirely leaves out how global warming also means less cold and saves lives. Moreover, the avoided cold deaths far outweigh the number of heat deaths. For the U.K. it is estimated that 2,000 more will die from global warming. But at the same time 20,000 fewer will die of cold. Why does Mr. Gore tell only one side of the story?

Al Gore is on a mission. If he has his way, we could end up choosing a future, based on dubious claims, that could cost us, according to a U.N. estimate, $553 trillion over this century. Getting answers to hard questions is not an unreasonable expectation before we take his project seriously. It is crucial that we make the right decisions posed by the challenge of global warming. These are best achieved through open debate, and we invite him to take the time to answer our questions: We are ready to interview you any time, Mr. Gore -- and anywhere.

The Wall Street Journal, 18 January 2007


Britain shows the way

Rail commuters travelling at peak periods should expect to stand even if they have paid 5,000 pounds for an annual season ticket, according to the head of railways at the Department for Transport. Mike Mitchell was condemned by rail unions and passenger groups for saying that it was acceptable to stand for up to half an hour in peak periods. He said that it would be too expensive to provide seats for everyone and that commuters who did not want to stand should avoid the peak, which now extends from 6.30am to 10am on many lines. The Government predicts that passenger numbers will increase by 30 per cent over the next decade, but it has no plans to increase significantly the number of trains on busy lines.

Giving evidence on January 8 to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, Dr Mitchell admitted that the railways were busier now than at any time since 1946, with more than 1.1 billion passengers carried last year. Dr Mitchell said: "If you are travelling a relatively short distance, I do not think that it is unacceptable to expect to stand in the peak." Asked by Richard Bacon, MP for Norfolk South, what he meant by a short distance, he said: "Perhaps half an hour."

Mr Bacon then asked: "Standing for half an hour is acceptable even though you are paying your local train operating company 5,000 a year?" Dr Mitchell replied: "It has to be said that there are alternatives . . . if one travels off-peak." He added: "The cost of providing sufficient capacity to enable everyone to get a seat would expand the railway budget way beyond anything we have here."

The DfT said that Dr Mitchell travelled to work either on foot or in standard class. Tom Harris, the Rail Minister, supported Dr Mitchell yesterday. He said: "It's not realistic that passengers get a seat for every journey." He said that trains might be lengthened "in the long term", but refused to give any date, and would not rule out further above-inflation fare increases.

Gerry Doherty, of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association, said: "Dr Mitchell is arrogant and out of touch if he thinks it is acceptable for commuters not to get a seat when they are paying 5,000 a year to commute into London.


Why Global Warming is Probably a Crock

As a scientist I've learned never to say "never." So human-caused global warming is always a hypothesis to hold, at least until climate science becomes mature. (Climate science is very immature right now: Physicists just don't know how to deal with hypercomplex systems like the earth weather. That's why a recent NASA scientist was wildly wrong when he called anthropogenic warming "just basic physics." Basic physics is what you do in the laboratory. If hypercomplex systems were predictable, NASA would have foolproof space shuttles --- because they are a lot simpler than the climate. So this is just pseudoscientific twaddle from NASA's vaunted Politically Correct Division. It makes me despair when even scientists conveniently forget that little word "hypothesis.")

OK. The human-caused global warming hypothesis is completely model-dependent. We can't directly observe cars and cows turning up the earth thermostat. Whatever the human contribution there may be to climate constitutes just a few signals among many hundreds or thousands.

All our models of the earth climate are incomplete. That's why they keep changing, and that's why climate scientists keep finding surprises. As Rummy used to say, there are a ton of "unknown unknowns" out there. The real world is full of x's, y's and z's, far more than we can write little models about. How do you extract the human contribution from a vast number of unknowns?

That's why constant testing is needed, and why it is so frustrating to do frontier science properly. Science is difficult because nature always has another surprise in store for us, dammit! Einstein rejected quantum mechanics, and was wrong about that. Newton went wrong on the proof of calculus, a problem that didn't get solved until 1900. Scientists are always wrong --- they are just less wrong now than they were before (if everything is going well). Check out the current issue of Science magazine. It's full of surprises. That's what it's for.

Now there's a basic fact about complexity that helps to understand this. It's a point in probability theory (eek!) about many variables, each one less than 100 percent likely to be true. If I know that my six-sided die isn't loaded, I'll get a specific number on average one out of six rolls. Two rolls of the die produces 1/6 x 1/6 = 1/36. For n rolls of the die, I get (1/6) multiplied by itself n times, or (1/6) to the nth power. That number becomes small very quickly. The more rolls of the die, the less likely it is that some particular sequence will come up. It's the first thing to know in any game of chance. Don't ever bet serious money if that isn't obvious.

Now imagine that all the variables about global climate are known with less than 100 percent certainty. Let's be wildly and unrealistically optimistic and say that climate scientists know each variable to 99 percent certainty! (No such thing, of course). And let's optimistically suppose there are only one-hundred x's, y's, and z's --- all the variables that can change the climate: like the amount of cloud cover over Antarctica, the changing ocean currents in the South Pacific, Mount Helena venting, sun spots, Chinese factories burning more coal every year, evaporation of ocean water (the biggest "greenhouse" gas), the wobbles of earth orbit around the sun, and yes, the multifarious fartings of billions of living creatures on the face of the earth, minus, of course, all the trillions of plants and algae that gobble up all the CO2, nitrogen-containing molecules, and sulfur-smelling exhalations spewed out by all of us animals. Got that? It all goes into our best math model.

So in the best case, the smartest climatologist in the world will know 100 variables, each one to an accuracy of 99 percent. Want to know what the probability of our spiffiest math model would be, if that perfect world existed? Have you ever multiplied (99/100) by itself 100 times? According to the Google calculator, it equals a little more than 36.6 percent.

The Bottom line: our best imaginable model has a total probability of one out of three. How many billions of dollars in Kyoto money are we going to spend on that chance? Or should we just blow it at the dog races?

So all ye of global warming faith, rejoice in the ambiguity that real life presents to all of us. Neither planetary catastrophe nor paradise on earth are sure bets. Sorry about that. (Consider growing up, instead.) That's why human-caused global warming is an hypothesis, not a fact. Anybody who says otherwise isn't doing science, but trying to sell you a bill of goods. Probably.



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

GW just another hysteria outbreak

When near-hysteria takes over the sharemarket (the 1960s nickel boom, the 1987 boom/bust, the 1990s dotcom bubble), fuelled by unrealistic profit projections, older heads know a major turning point is near. Emotions take over, fortunes are made on speculative stocks, and the man in the street is an expert. Anyone who decries the consensus of the day is at best ignored, or at worst vilified. And then the market "naturally" rights itself, order is restored (with much financial damage) and common sense rediscovered.

The parallels with the global warming discussion are unnerving. With Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, stirring emotions, and the Stern report and that of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change providing long-range scientific and financial projections from computer models, we are being pressed to believe that inaction on cutting fossil fuel use will bring disaster.

So-called global warming sceptics are referred to as "in denial just like the tobacco industry", or "funded by the oil lobby". The ingredients of emotionalism, computer projections and vilification of contrary views of global warming provide a telling comparison with conditions at a sharemarket cyclic high.

On April 28, 1975, Newsweek published an article stating: "There are ominous signs that the earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically ." and "climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climate change, or even allay its effects".

These are strong words, and equally applicable today. Or maybe not. For the article was entitled "The Cooling World", and shows a graph emphasising how the average temperature had dropped 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit from 1940 to 1970. And so it seems, the media and science-supported climate cycle has fully turned in 30 years, but is still projecting disaster.

We may then ask what the rational, independent observer can do to make sense of the sound and fury around him. The answer is simple - as any seasoned financial adviser would say about the sharemarket - go back to fundamental facts, and learn from history. The fact is the earth has cooled slightly since 1998, showing evidence that a "market peak" has been reached. And this is despite rapid rises in fossil fuel consumption, and increasing carbon dioxide levels, much as happened from 1940 to 1970.

Geological coring data shows that natural rises in carbon dioxide levels follow temperature changes rather than cause them, and that there is no direct correlation between temperature changes and fossil fuel use. The analysis of ice cores shows that past temperatures have been several degrees higher than now due to natural causes, and 11,500 years ago central Greenland temperatures increased by 7 degrees Celsius or more in a few decades, making the estimated 0.6-degree global increase over the past century seem trivial.

It is also a fact that more than 90 per cent of the greenhouse gas effect is caused by water vapour, and the contribution from man-made carbon dioxide is estimated at 0.1 per cent. The focus on carbon dioxide as the major producer of climate change is thus highly contrived. The facts point to natural factors (as evidenced by work on sunspot activity) being behind climate change rather than human influence through carbon dioxide levels.

Climate change, whether warming or cooling, is a complex interaction of many factors, as is the sharemarket. But it suffers because it is not an open market. The source of information is claimed by an exclusive few - government-funded scientists with an array of climate-change models and large computer systems. Government advice, which forms the basis for political decision-making, comes from these same restricted sources.

The contrary view - that climate change is predominantly a natural occurrence - comes largely from independent, diffuse sources seeking to make their views known to a wider audience. Given the limited publication of facts, with the notable exception of Lord Monckton's recent articles in Britain's Daily Telegraph, one might well ask if reasoned debate is being suppressed, as occurs also, of course, at times of financial hysteria.

One thing is certain. Governments in Australia (with some reservations federally) are pressing ahead with plans for a carbon trading system that will have a substantial impact on industry. The system is based on a "consensus" view that urgent action is required because the burning of fossil fuels may cause potentially catastrophic global warming.

This alarmist view urgently needs to be challenged and discussed in an open forum. Senate select committee hearings are held on issues of minor concern compared with this "future of the world" issue. The Government must undertake a serious public discussion of the climate change issue and the impact, if any, of carbon dioxide emissions. We would not like to buy at the top of the sharemarket cycle, nor should we buy into a possible global warming peak without a responsible and wide-ranging debate. The results of both mistakes are certain to be economically painful.


Environmentalists vs NSTA: an inconvenient truth

Post lifted from Lubos Motl

Two months ago, we described a strange lawsuit that the environmentalists filed against the Environmental Protection Agency, the so-called

You might think that a bureaucratic structure whose very name shows that it protects the environment is an unlikely target for the environmentalists who also claim that they want to protect the environment. You would be wrong for the first time.

The EPA wasn't the last unexpected target of these groups. The environmental movement often says that they support science education. So you would think that they wouldn't attack the National Science Teachers' Association. You would be wrong for the second time.

The National Science Teachers' Association (NSTA) has adopted a very sensible policy back in 2001, namely a policy against product endorsement. Because the ecoactivists often argue that they want the state institutions to remain independent from for-profit organizations and commercial pressures, you might believe that the policy against product endorsement was not the reason why NSTA was attacked. You would be wrong for the third time.

Capitalism is a great gadget to optimize products and to increase the consumers' satisfaction. If the consumers are satisfied, the products sell well which is what the producers want. This mechanism works remarkably well.

However, consumer satisfaction is not quite the same thing as the scientific truth. Unless the consumers are rational people who are familiar with all the required facts and who moreover depend on the validity of a proposed scientific theory, you may be pretty sure that the direction in which the market pressures push a product is different from the direction that would be selected by the scientific method.

If a product depends on science, it is almost inevitable and it must be expected that the underlying science will be selectively presented, biased, twisted, oversimplified, or exaggerated in order to increase the profit of the producers. Sometimes the effect is strong, sometimes it is weaker but all reasonable policymakers must be aware of the fact that this effect exists. This is why it's so sensible for an institution that cares about something like the objective truth to adopt a policy against product endorsement.

I am sure that you don't have to read Money, religion, and science in order to know what I mean.

Example: a DVD

In November 2006, we had the opportunity to see how wise the policy actually is. A producer has offered her DVD to NSTA so that the teachers could advertise it in the classrooms and their students would buy a lot of these DVDs. Because the particular DVD is cheap to produce but it is sold for $19.99, you may guess what it would do with their profits.

The DVD contains a horror movie whose primary market strength is that it claims to be based on science - and perhaps, it is nothing else than science. Is it science? Well, it hasn't been peer-reviewed. More precisely, it has been informally peer-reviewed by many scientists and it has been rejected as an unreliable source of information by most of them. Most scientists have described the movie as one-sided, misleading, exaggerated, speculative, or plain wrong.

The environmentalists often say that they want science to be peer-reviewed so you would guess that they surely agree that NSTA shouldn't become a tool for producers who claim something to be science but couldn't stand a peer review to fill their pockets. You would be wrong for the fourth time. How is it possible that you would be wrong once again?

Well, environmentalists only like science to be peer-reviewed when it suits their agenda. When the producer who has made the shameless suggestion is a self-described "global warming activist" such as Laurie David (indeed, Einstein is turning in his grave because his quote has appeared on her website) who wants to fill her pockets in ways that make the average Philip Morris shareholders look like angels and when the main actor in that movie is a former future president, the rules of the game suddenly undergo a first-order phase transition.

However, NSTA has had its wise rules and therefore the association has, of course, refused to become a tool of these shameless profiteers and it has politely explained its position. You might think that a few arrogant people were simply stopped by the internal regulations of an educational institution and the story is over. You would be wrong for the fifth time: I am sure that at this moment, you must already be tired of being wrong all the time ;-) so I will try to avoid this rhetorical sleight-of-hand from now on.

New pressure

How is it possible that you would be wrong? Well, we live in the early 21st century and the discourse is contaminated by all kinds of lobby groups with no self-consistent moral constraints and with no accountability whatsoever. Eleven of them have written a truly disgraceful text

in which they have attacked NSTA by their usual Goebbelsian methods. This attack includes the standard comment that NSTA are stooges of ExxonMobil. They offer their universal proof of this statement: the money is circulating so NSTA has surely received a dollar from ExxonMobil. As long as NSTA fails to obey every wish that the ecoactivists - and at this moment, it is really more appropriate to call them ecoterrorists - have, it is clear that they must be stooges of ExxonMobil.

Well, I really don't think that NSTA has received enough money from ExxonMobil to grant the company a significant influence on their acts. More importantly, I think that the people who would ever view such an argument - a hypothetical link with ExxonMobil - as evidence for anything are too stupid to deserve any attention. ExxonMobil is a great company that substantially contributes to the well-being of the whole mankind while the ecoactivists mostly belong to the moral bottom of hypocrites who are parasiting on the society and who profit from human stupidity and fear.

When the main actor in a movie is Al Gore, all previous rules must be suppressed because he is apparently our Savior. He can argue that the people shouldn't emit carbon dioxide but he can emit as much as 800 average people do. He can preach that individuals shouldn't earn hundreds of dollars by twisting scientific insights but he can earn millions by doing the same thing.

For many of us including me, he is a rather perverse politician and manipulator who doesn't follow his own principles. Can you imagine the fireworks that would explode if Michael Crichton offered his "State of Fear" as recommended literature for students via NSTA? What is the difference between the real case of Laurie David and the hypothetical case of Michael Crichton? In fact, there are two main differences:

Sadly enough, the second difference is more consequential in the real world of 2007. Fine: you can see that this is almost the last paragraph. So you might think that the RealClimate.ORG folks will be satisfied with their criticism of NSTA. I don't want to say that you would be wrong for the sixth time but you would be wrong anyway. ;-)

In reality, RealClimate.ORG attempts to create an alternative NSTA whose goal is, on the contrary, to endorse products and spread them through schools and through the most easily manipulable teachers - but only the products that will pour money directly to Al Gore's pocket and indirectly to theirs.

I am sure that every good person in the Academia and beyond is ashamed of the hypocritical and morally defective approach of RealClimate.ORG and others and I am confident that it is only a matter of time before most people figure out how much they're being cheated.

Another boffin jumps off the warming ship

Add another world-renowned scientist to the list of man-made global warming skeptics. Nigel Weiss, professor emeritus at the University of Cambridge's department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics, and past president of the Royal Astronomical Society, is a sunspot guy. He argues that the world will be soon facing a cooling period.

In an interview with Lawrence Solomon of Canada's Energy Probe Research Foundation, a widely-respected Toronto-based environmental and consumer group, Weiss argues that while manmade greenhouse gases have some role, the scale of which is yet unknown, in global climate, the sun if far more important. "Variable behavior of the sun is an obvious explanation" of climate change, he said, adding that "there is increasing evidence that Earth's climate responds to changing patterns of solar magnetic activity."

The interview was published in the National Post, Canada's conservative-oriented national newspaper founded in 1998 by media mogul Conrad Black.

Weiss, 70, a native of South Africa, says sunspots are the markers of changes in solar activity. Typically, sunspots follow a cycle of about 11 years. But that hasn't been the case for the last 50 or so years, he notes. "If you look back into the sun's past," he says in the interview, "you find that we live in a period of abnormally high solar activity."

But these years of hyperactivity don't last, says Weiss. "Perhaps 50-100 years, then you get a crash. It's a boom-bust system, and I would expect a crash soon." According to Weiss, the sun's polar field is now at its weakest since the 1950s. When there is a crash every 200 years or so, sunspots vanish, solar activity declines, and the globe cools dramatically. These phenomena are known as "grand minima," and they have occurred with rough regularity over at least the past 10,000 years.

Notes Weiss, in the 17th century, sunspots almost completely vanished for around 70 years. That coincided with the Little Ice Age, when Viking colonies fled Iceland, Finland lost 50% of its population, and New Yorkers could walk on the ice from Manhattan to Staten Island.

By contrast, says Weiss, long periods of solar activity, such as we have experienced in the last 50 years, can produce dramatic warming. The example was the Medieval Warm Period, which drew the Vikings to Iceland and created a thriving wine industry in England - the source today of much dirty dancing among policymakers looking at the so-called `hockey-stick' climate record of Michael Mann et. al.


Weather Channel Climate Expert Calls for Decertifying Global Warming Skeptics

The Weather Channel's most prominent climatologist is advocating that broadcast meteorologists be stripped of their scientific certification if they express skepticism about predictions of manmade catastrophic global warming. This latest call to silence skeptics follows a year (2006) in which skeptics were compared to "Holocaust Deniers" and Nuremberg-style war crimes trials were advocated by several climate alarmists.

The Weather Channel's (TWC) Heidi Cullen, who hosts the weekly global warming program "The Climate Code," is advocating that the American Meteorological Society (AMS) revoke their "Seal of Approval" for any television weatherman who expresses skepticism that human activity is creating a climate catastrophe.

"If a meteorologist can't speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn't give them a Seal of Approval. Clearly, the AMS doesn't agree that global warming can be blamed on cyclical weather patterns," Cullen wrote in her December 21 weblog on the Weather Channel Website. [Note: It is also worth taking a look at the comments section at the bottom of Cullen's blog, very entertaining.] See: This latest call to silence skeptics of manmade global warming has been the subject of discussion at the annual American Meteorological Society's Annual conference in San Antonio Texas this week. See:

"It's like allowing a meteorologist to go on-air and say that hurricanes rotate clockwise and tsunamis are caused by the weather. It's not a political's just an incorrect statement," Cullen added. [Note: Hurricanes (Cyclones) in the Southern Hemisphere do rotate clockwise. Also, Cullen and the media have ignored the growing climate skepticism by prominent scientists see: ]

Cullen's call for decertification of TV weatherman who do not agree with her global warming assessment follows a year (2006) in which the media, Hollywood and environmentalists tried their hardest to demonize scientific skeptics of manmade global warming. Scott Pelley, CBS News 60 Minutes correspondent, compared skeptics of global warming to "Holocaust deniers" and former Vice President turned foreign lobbyist Al Gore has repeatedly referred to skeptics as "global warming deniers." See: &

Cullen Featured Advocate of Nuremberg-Style Trials for Climate Skeptics

In addition, Cullen's December 17, 2006 episode of "The Climate Code" TV show, featured a columnist who openly called for Nuremberg-style Trials for climate skeptics. Cullen featured Grist Magazine's Dave Roberts as an eco-expert opining on energy issues, with no mention of his public call to institute what amounts to the death penalty for scientists who express skepticism about global warming. See:

Cullen's call for suppressing scientific dissent comes at a time when many skeptical scientists affiliated with Universities have essentially been silenced over fears of loss of tenure and the withdrawal of research grant money. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) process has also steadily pushed scientists away who hold inconvenient skeptical views and reject the alarmist conclusions presented in the IPCC's summary for policymakers. See:

Cullen also participated in the New York premiere of the fictional Hollywood global warming disaster film The Day After Tomorrow in 2004 and has routinely promoted celebrity environmental views. See: & The Weather Channel, which has billed itself as itself as the "pre-eminent provider of weather information," also served as a consultant to The Day After Tomorrow and allowed the use of its name and logo in the movie.

Broadcast meteorologists (TV weatherman) skeptical of climate alarmism have -- up until now -- been unburdened to speak out on climate issues. Cullen's call for decertification by the AMS can only serve to intimidate skeptics and further chill free speech in the scientific community. Stripping the "Seal of Approval" from broadcast meteorologists could affect their livelihoods, impact their salaries and prestige. TV weathermen are truly the last of the independent scientists and past surveys have shown many of them to be skeptical of manmade global warming claims. Their independence is being threatened now. For more info on the background of the AMS seal, see:

Intimidating scientists with calls for death trials, name calling and calls for decertification appears to be the accepted tactics of the climate alarmists. The real question is: Why do climate alarmists feel the need to resort to such low brow tactics when they have a compliant media willing to repeat their every assertion without question. See:

The alarmists also enjoy a huge financial advantage over the skeptics with numerous foundations funding climate research, University research money and the United Nations endless promotion of the cause. Just how much money do the climate alarmists have at their disposal? There was a $3 billion donation to the global warming cause from Virgin Air's Richard Branson alone. The well-heeled environmental lobbying groups have massive operating budgets compared to groups that express global warming skepticism. The Sierra Club Foundation 2004 budget was $91 million and the Natural Resources Defense Council had a $57 million budget for the same year. Compare that to the often media derided Competitive Enterprise Institute's small $3.6 million annual budget.

In addition, if a climate skeptic receives any money from industry, the media immediately labels them and attempts to discredit their work. The same media completely ignore the money flow from the environmental lobby to climate alarmists like James Hansen and Michael Oppenheimer. (ie. Hansen received $250,000 from the Heinz Foundation and Oppenheimer is a paid partisan of Environmental Defense Fund)

The alarmists have all of these advantages, yet they still feel the need to resort to desperation tactics to silence the skeptics. Could it be that the alarmists realize that the American public is increasingly rejecting their proposition that the family SUV is destroying the earth and rejecting their shrill calls for "action" to combat their computer model predictions of a "climate emergency?" See

That may be the real Inconvenient Truth. After all, even the UN is reportedly downgrading man's impact on the climate by 25% and now concedes that cow "emissions" are more damaging to the planet than C02 from cars. See:



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, January 19, 2007


President George W. Bush's new international anti-malaria campaign has been greeted with enthusiasm by its victims, but with pseudoscience by commentators. That is not unusual: Fallacies infect every debate about the environment and affect policy, taxpayers' money and victims' lives. Scientists ask questions, formulate hypotheses, design experiments, look at the evidence, modify the hypotheses and probe further. Then activists, news media and politics take over.

Look at climate change: The public hears again and again that there is scientific consensus, that it's happening now and that we are on the brink of disaster. This is nonsense. But if we scientists don't yell "Danger!" no one listens. For years, the public has been fed a lusty diet of climate doom and gloom, cooked and served by alarmists who use the language of science to push an agenda. Now, every politician of every stripe must embrace the "climate consensus" or be branded a callous skeptic.

I am not a climatologist, nor an expert on sea level or polar ice. But I do know from talking to many scientists in many disciplines that this consensus is a mirage. Every discipline has many critical, unanswered questions and many dangerous distortions.

I am a specialist in diseases transmitted by mosquitoes. So let's talk malaria. For 12 years, my colleagues and I have protested against the unsubstantiated claims that climate change is causing the disease to spread. We have failed miserably. Recently, the Associated Press quoted an entomologist claiming an unprecedented outbreak of malaria in Karatina, Kenya, at 1,868 meters. The heart rending article began, "The soft cries of children broke the morning stillness as parents brought them in to the hillside hospital one by one...drained by a disease once unknown in the high country of Kenya."

But there's nothing new about malaria in Karatina. Between World War I and the 1950s, there were 10 disastrous epidemics in the region, and they extended much higher. We have done the studies and challenged the alarmists, but they continue to ignore the facts. In November, I was in Nairobi along with thousands of people attending the UN's climate change conference. I wondered how many had taken anti-malaria tablets because they had seen Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth," which claims that Nairobi was established in a healthy place "above the mosquito line" but is now infested with mosquitoes -- naturally, because of global warming.

Gore's claim is deceitful on four counts. Nairobi was dangerously infested when it was founded; it was founded for a railway, not for health reasons; it is now fairly clear of malaria; and it has not become warmer.

The town's first medical officer, Dr. D.E. Boedeker, wrote that even for the early ivory and slave caravans, Nairobi "had always been regarded as an unhealthy locality swarming with mosquitoes." In 1904, a committee of doctors "petitioned that the entire municipality be relocated, simply because it was a spawning ground of disease."

Things have changed. My colleagues have looked carefully at climate and malaria records kept by the management staff of nearby highland tea estates, and published their findings in the journal Nature. They found no evidence of long-term climatic change and noted that epidemics of malaria were frequent until the 1950s, when DDT appeared. Malaria's return in the past 20 years has been due to many factors -- the effective ban on DDT, deforestation, migration from highly malarious areas, drug and insecticide resistance and above all, poverty.

The alarmists constantly invoke as an authority the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Yet none of those who wrote the sections on malaria have relevant research credentials and several have no scientific credentials at all. And on it goes. The British government's Stern Review, released with much fanfare in late October, predicted increases in temperature will produce up to 80 million new cases of malaria.

This claim relies on a single article that described a simplistic mathematical model that blithely ignored the most obvious reality: Most Africans already live in hot places where they get as many as 300 infective bites every year, though just one is enough. The glass is already full.

The weather is largely out of our control, but malaria is not. While billions are spent on climate change prevention and by advocacy groups, malaria remains rampant, killing millions, making life a misery for hundreds of millions -- like the children of Karatina where the epidemic could easily be eliminated cheaply. We have to hope that the new "Malaria No More" campaign is based on sound science, unlike the UN's catastrophic current "Roll Back Malaria" scheme, which has presided over a marked increase in victims since 1998.

Pseudoscience will damage your health and your wealth just as surely as malaria.



A comment on what seems a mainly British phenomenon -- Greenie attacks on air travel

Is your journey really necessary? Who would have thought that, in the absence of world war and in the midst of unprecedented prosperity, the state would be telling us not to travel? Just as ordinary working people have begun to enjoy freedoms that the well-off have known for generations - the experience of other cultures, other cuisines, other climates - they are threatened with having those liberating possibilities priced out of their reach.

Perhaps there is still a bit of the Marxist agitator in me: when I hear the better-off trying to deny the rest of us enlightenment and pleasure, I reach for my megaphone. For thousands of people whose parents would never have ventured beyond our shores, air travel has been a social revelation. The environment may or may not be at risk from the multitudes of ordinary people who can now afford to escape regularly from their parochial isolation and the narrow-minded ignorance that goes with it. But before we give the green lobby the unconditional benefit of the doubt, can we look at the balance sheet?

It is not just air travel for the poor that the green tax lobby is engineering: it is a restriction on any mobility. The only solution is not to go anywhere. Stay at home and save the planet. The logical conclusion is a retreat from all the things that make metropolitan existence worthwhile: all the social, professional and cultural interactions that free mobility makes possible - and which, since the Renaissance, have made great cities the centres of intellectual progress.

But even devising a way to make a living while never leaving your house will not absolve you of ecological guilt if you make free use of the technology that has transformed domestic life. The working classes, having only discovered in the last generation the comforts of tolerable housing and plentiful hot water, are now being told that these things must be rationed or prohibitively taxed. Never mind that the generous use of hot water and detergent, particularly when combined in a washing machine for the laundering of bed linen and clothing, has virtually eliminated the infestations of body lice, fleas (which once carried plague) and scabies mites that used to be a commonplace feature of poverty.

Or that the dishwasher - detested for its "wasteful" use of water and energy - which cleans crockery and utensils at temperatures high enough to destroy bacteria, has vastly improved hygiene. Or, for that matter, that the private car, the greens' public enemy No.1, has given ordinary families freedom and flexibility that would have been inconceivable in previous generations. If politicians are planning restrictions on these "polluting" aspects of private life, to be enforced by a price mechanism, they had better accept they will be reconstructing a class divide that will drastically affect the quality of life of those on the wrong side of it.

It is possible that the premises of the environmental campaigners are sound: that we are in mortal danger from global warming and that this is a result of human activity. Yet when I listen to the ecological warnings, I am reminded of an earlier doomsday scenario. In his Essay on the Principle of Population, published in 1798, Thomas Malthus demonstrated in what appeared to be indisputable mathematical terms that population growth would exceed the limits of food supply by the middle of the 19th century. While population increased exponentially, he argued, food production increased only arithmetically. Only plague, war or natural disaster would be capable of reducing the numbers of people sufficiently to avert mass starvation within roughly 50 years. This account of the world's inevitable fate (known as "Malthusian catastrophe") was as much part of received opinion among intellectuals and social theorists of the day as the environmental lobby's warnings are today. (Interestingly, Malthus recommended sexual abstinence for the lower classes to avoid doom.)

Malthus made some critical conceptual mistakes. First, his mathematical projections underestimated the complexity of human behaviour. Population did not go on increasing at the same rate: it responded to economic and social conditions. But, more important, he discounted the force of ingenuity in finding ways to increase food supply. The introduction of intensive farming methods and the invention of pesticides transformed what he had assumed would be the simple, fixed relationship between numbers of people and amount of resource. He had extrapolated from contemporary figures what seemed to be a sound prediction without allowing for the possibility that inventiveness and innovation might alter the picture in unimaginable ways.

Warnings of catastrophe come and go; whatever their validity, we cannot and should not ask people to go back to a more restricted and burdened way of life. The privations would not work because they are impracticable. To the extent that they were enforced, they would be unfair and socially divisive. If we really are facing an environmental crisis, then we are going to have to innovate and engineer our way out of it.


UK 'green power' programs a fraud, says consumer group

Green power in Great Britain is largely a fraud, according to the United Kingdom's leading consumer group, the National Consumer Council, in a recent report, Reality or rhetoric? Green tariffs for domestic consumers."

Green tariffs, rates offered to consumer, at a premium, in order to deliver electricity produced by renewable resources, "don't live up to the environmental benefits claimed" in Britain, says the council's watchdog arm, energywatch. Among the key findings of the report: "Many green tariffs are not delivering the environmental benefits they claim. As a result, consumers may not be making the positive contribution they think they are."

The findings, said the report, "are worrying. There is a danger that consumers will be alienated from the behavior change agenda. This, in turn, could threaten the success of the government's sustainability strategy."

The issue is one that applies widely in the U.S. as well as in the U.K.: renewable energy mandates in place reduce the value of the green tariff, and have consumers paying twice for the same environmental benefit. The NCC report notes that the government is already requiring suppliers to generate 10% of their electricity from renewables by 2010 and 20% by 2020. This means, says the group, that every home in Great Britain is now paying œ7 ($13.75) annually for green energy in the normal electricity bill.

In a news release, the NCC adds, "Also the complex rules that encourage all energy suppliers to source renewably can mean the electricity's `greenness' is oversold. Even choosing a green tariff that offers to plant a tree would not contribute anywhere near enough to offset a household's carbon emissions." Consumers, said Lord Larry Whitty, the NCC chairman, "may think they are helping save the planet, but it's not clear that they are."The report notes that fewer than 200,000 homes (under 1%) of British homes purchase green power.


Australia's Climate is not Changing

Statistician Jonathan Lowe looks at the specious reasoning of what was once a scientific body -- the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. I guess the real scientists at the ABM hope that people will disregard the politically safe conclusions that they put their name to and look instead at the actual statistics, as is done below:

Recently, the ABM produced their 2006 weather report as shown here.

They specifically go out to show that "Our Climate is Changing". Well it always does of course, but they specifically mean global warming.

With regards to rainfall they say that

Australia has experienced marked rainfall trends over the last 50 years with declines over southern and eastern Australia and increases across the northwest.

and then continue to say in the next paragraph:

The dry conditions in southern and eastern Australia in 2006 have continued the long-term rainfall deficiencies in many regions, some of which extend back more than five years.

Long term is 5 years? Has rainfall decreased in last 50 years or 5 years?

They conclude that

Aspects of this multi-year drought are highly unusual and unprecedented in many areas. Understanding the role that climate change has played in these anomalies is an area of active research.

Nice conclusion. I guess that global warming only applies to the south east of Australia. So lets check the stats, as given directly from the ABM website:

Sure last year was very light on the rainfall, however it wasn't the lowest. This occurred in 1982. And whilst the last 5 years of rainfall in south eastern Australia have been low, it is not the lowest in the last 100 years. The period of 1940 to 1944 produced 75mm less rainfall in south eastern Australia than 2002 to 2006. But of course we are led to believe that this is the worst drought in 1000 years, isn't that right?

So the ABM suggest that this long term trend of 5 years is highly unusual and unprecedented. A simple analysis of the figures above show that this is far from the truth.

So has, as they claim, south east Australia had significant decreasing trends in rainfall? Statistically speaking unfortunately not (t = 1.29, p = 0.2). So the ABM's final conclusion to prove that our climate is changing with great emphasis on the current drought is, well, not true at all.

Is Australia's Climate Changing? Well not according to rainfall as the ABM suggests. Next up we'll look more closely at temperature around Australia.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, January 18, 2007


Right down to the Mexican border!

A border crossing proves deadly for an illegal immigrant in San Diego County. The Border Patrol says one man died and six others were rescued this morning after they became lost in freezing, snowy weather about 60 miles from the Mexican border.

The Mexican nationals were in the Corte Madera area of Pine Valley, more than 4,000 feet above sea level, when they became disoriented in ankle-deep snow. One managed to contact the California Highway Patrol by phone. The CHP called the Border Patrol, and agents trained in search and rescue hunted three hours before finding the group. Border Patrol spokesman Richard Kite says one man was dead and the others were treated for non-life-threatening conditions. Border Patrol spokesman Richar Kite says it's not the first time that illegal immigrants have tried to avoid detection by hitting the back-country.

The snow may have come from a storm that hit California Friday night and early Saturday morning. It also dumped hail on Carlsbad and Encinitas. Hail and snow also were reported in northern Los Angeles County, shutting down the Grapevine section of Interstate Five, a major artery near Santa Clarity.


And its killing California's famous oranges: Panic!

California's $1.3 billion citrus industry is facing massive losses after three nights of freezing temperatures up and down the state. "The growers know there is damage, and they expect it to be significant," said Dave Kranz, manager of media services for the California Farm Bureau Federation. As much as 70 percent of the state's orange crop has been destroyed, according to state officials and farmers.

The state's avocado and strawberry crops also have been hard hit, and other fruits and vegetables ranging from leafy greens to blueberries may be in jeopardy as well, Kranz said, explaining that it takes several days to assess damage after a wave of freezing weather.

A.G. Kawamura, secretary of the state Department of Food and Agriculture, spent the holiday weekend touring farms and groves in the central and southern parts of the state. He said damage from this past weekend's freeze is likely to exceed that from a 1998 freeze that destroyed about $700 million worth of citrus and other produce across the state. "This is one of those freezes that, unfortunately, we'll all remember," Kawamura said.

Reports from farmers ranged from damage to more than half their crops to losses of 100 percent. Claire Smith, spokeswoman for Sunkist Growers cooperative, said up to 70 percent of the navel oranges still on members' trees were damaged. "We will be lucky to salvage a quarter to a third of what was left. It is a bleak situation," said Charles Sheldon, a citrus grower near Lindsay......

The cold spell, which was expected to keep its grip on the state until midweek, set in Friday night, when temperatures dipped into the high teens and low 20s for long durations in many places, including the San Joaquin Valley, the heart of the state's citrus industry. California produces 95 percent of all the oranges in the nation sold for fresh-eating; half come from the hard-hit Tulare County in the San Joaquin Valley, Kranz said.....

While this month's cold wave was severe, its effect was not expected to match the damage from an extended freeze in 1990 that wiped out not just crops, but killed hundreds of trees.


How come unusually hot weather is proof of global warming but unusualy cold weather is "just one of those things"?


The biggest obstacle to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ambitions for her European Union presidency is her own government. Germany's two-party coalition is either divided or going it alone on many of the goals Merkel laid out yesterday for her six-month term, including common EU policies on energy, climate change and ties with Russia. As a result, Merkel's presidency isn't likely to produce breakthroughs toward creating a single energy market, or the less-regulated economy needed to push up the 27-nation bloc's growth rate.

"Does Germany want a common EU energy policy?" Ronald Asmus, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state who heads the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund, said in an interview. "Its own national interests are at odds with what the European Commission and other member states want to do."

Merkel's authority at home is limited by the power-sharing deal between her Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democrats, partners in the second so-called grand coalition in postwar German history. Merkel, 52, in the EU chair for the first time since taking office in November 2005, pleaded for the bloc to pull together in a Berlin press conference yesterday. ``Europe only succeeds when it's united,'' she said.

Energy Differences

An EU-wide energy strategy is already foundering on German opposition. Merkel's government opposes creating a bloc-wide energy regulator, and is threatening to blunt today's commission proposal to force utilities to separate their power-generation and transmission businesses. Germany puts a ``low priority'' on that idea since it is unlikely to drive down prices, Joachim Wuermeling, a deputy economy minister, said in an interview in Berlin today.

Vladimir Dlouhy, a former Czech economics minister who teaches at Charles University in Prague, said in an interview that while Merkel ``might be somebody who will steer Europe into a new direction,'' the divisions within her government and the ``difficult internal political situation in the country might present very important limits to her ability to achieve something.''

Schroeder's Legacy

Close German-Russian energy links cultivated by Merkel's Social Democratic predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, also stand in the way of a broader EU-Russia energy-supply accord proposed by the commission, the EU's Brussels-based executive agency.

Germany, along with eight smaller countries, is undercutting the EU's strategy for combating global warming by insisting on a more generous allotment of pollution permits under the European emissions-trading system. A November EU commission order to cut German greenhouse-gas allowances by 6 percent for 2008-12 is the source of ``great concern,'' potentially adding 10 billion euros ($13 billion) to German consumers' energy bills, Economy Minister Michael Glos of the Christian Democrats' Bavarian wing wrote Jan. 2 in the newspaper Handelsblatt.

Such broadsides make Merkel hostage to ``the power of ministries,'' said Katinka Barysch, chief economist at the Centre for European Reform in London. With the Social Democrat- controlled Environment Ministry more eager to impose pollution caps, ``you don't actually have a united line within the German government.''

Lufthansa Pressure

What's more, the government is under pressure from Deutsche Lufthansa AG, the national airline, to block French-and British- backed proposals to widen the system to force air carriers to pay for what they pollute. ....



Canada's largest private sector union said on Thursday that thousands of jobs in the auto industry could be at risk if a left-leaning opposition party succeeds in persuading the government to quickly introduce binding emissions standards on vehicles.

Jack Layton, who heads the New Democratic Party, says he will not consider propping up the minority Conservative government unless it brings in new emissions rules for vehicles immediately.

Buzz Hargrove, head of the Canadian Auto Workers union, wrote to Layton to say he and his union members had been "taken aback" by the tough comments on emissions. "If this issue is not handled delicately and thoughtfully, we could see thousands of auto workers' jobs destroyed," he said in an open letter requesting a meeting with Layton.

The government has said it will impose binding limits once a voluntary agreement with the auto companies on emissions runs out in 2010. Layton said on Wednesday he wanted the government to move on emissions before the next federal budget, which is expected in February or March.



The price of every new car sold in Britain could soar by more than 1,600 pounds under new laws to be proposed by the European commission to tackle climate change. Stavros Dimas, the European environment commissioner, yesterday announced plans for compulsory limits on carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles, blaming motor manufacturers for failing to comply with a voluntary pledge to improve fuel efficiency. "The technology is there to do this, but it has not been done as promised by the voluntary agreement. They [the manufacturers] know the situation better than anyone else because they gave an undertaking to bring down carbon dioxide," he said.

The plans, to be announced on January 24, will require car companies to produce vehicles that emit less than 120 grams of carbon dioxide a kilometre by 2012. The cap will apply as an average across a maker's range of vehicles - a manufacturer could still sell gas-guzzling 4x4s if it also produced smaller, cleaner vehicles.

Three-quarters of leading car brands are failing to reduce emissions at the rate set in the voluntary agreement. They are supposed to drop to 140 grams per kilometre by 2008. Carbon dioxide emissions from road transport have risen by 22% in Europe since 1990 and now make up more than 20% of total emissions. The current fleet emissions average is about 162 grams a kilometre.

The proposals, which will also float the idea of including car manufacturers in Europe's emissions trading scheme, will trigger a consultation, with formal legislation to follow later this year. Mr Dimas said he expected car companies to pass on the costs of the required improvements to consumers: "The technology to make them cleaner will make them more expensive." EC figures suggest the increased cost per car could be 577 euros, but a report by a team of Dutch transport consultants in October put it closer to 2,450 euros (624 pounds).

Nigel Wonnacott of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said: "We would be very concerned about measures that would impose additional costs on manufacturers. If it costs more to make the cars then that cost will be passed on." Attempts to build lower-emitting cars had been hampered by safety requirements adding additional weight, as well as a lack of government support for biofuels and cleaner technologies, he said, adding that the law could force some manufacturers to move production overseas.

An October report by the Brussels-based lobby group Transport and Environment said Japanese car makers have the worst record on fuel efficiency, with Nissan, Suzuki and Mazda in the bottom three of 20 brands. Fiat, Citroen and Renault are the only companies on course to meet the voluntary limits.



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007


An email from Michael Martin-Smith []

The sad truth emerging from the environmentalist view of climate changes is that if we are to accept that humans are the cause of these problems, the whole of the past century's faltering moves towards egalitarianism and Humanism would have to be junked.

A Green planet would demand either a reduction of human populations to some inconceivable level (where is Pol Pot when he's needed?) or, failing that, a largescale reduction in the numbers of humans able to enjoy the fruits of modern technology. "All men are equal" would appear to be incompatible with the environmentalist prescription - unless we are to have an equality of misery and zero aspiration for a greater future. Cabbages are green enough - but we are not , and never can be, cabbages ( the brain dead excepted,of course)

Some might feel that a world run by elites, although unfair, would be preferable to a world entirely occupied by the miserable and destitute- since, from the latter, no Art, Science, or Philosophy, could be expected. Since these latter attributes are the principal distinctions between humans and, say, rodents, insects, or hagfish, we would really have no raison d'etre at all.

The only way out of this mess I can foresee is a timely expansion of human aspirations, activity and , finally, settlement beyond this ever more constricting small blue planet. It isn't even the only blue planet within our system - although the other one will be a difficult neighbourhood for a few centuries yet!

Vast resources of clean renewable energy and raw materials exist in our solar system alone; furthermore, within 5 years, I expect, we will discover the first extra-solar Earthlike planets. There are 209 or more of the other varieties known to us already, in only a dozen years. Our Age of Discovery is surely to be set on our credit side against the ever growing denigration of Humanity offered by many popular savants.

We are now in a race between those who wish to lead Humanity out beyond the Earth , and those who wish to confine us here, and control us. If the latter have their way, the results would be either extinction or, even worse, total subjugation of the human aspirations and spirit to controlling ideologues. We are, finally, explorers and adventurers, both physical and spiritual. Within a straitjacket, whether Green or Red, Humanity would finally have lost its meaning.

I happen to believe that this, insofar as the creative human spirit is a new and revolutionary force in our evolving Cosmos, would be a serious matter indeed - a kind of suicidal Treason against an evolving Universe, which some have, ( eg Spinoza) for many centuries, called "God".

We have, in short, a duty to use our brains and ingenuity, and explore to the limits of our abilities which we neglect at our peril. This is, to use abit of jargon, our "Primary Mission". This means a Cosmic Diaspora, even if it takes many generations and much endeavour.

There are those who believe that a supremely wicked Humanity deserves to perish; let them set an example, and start with their own self-immolation. The Game of Life is not to be won by self-haters. For the rest of us - let us seek higher things. As Oscar Wilde wrote "We are all of us in the gutter - but some of us are looking at the Stars!"


Comment from Canada

As a geologist who is well-acquainted with the long and fascinating history of the Earth, I find the obsession with catastrophic environmentalism - in this instance so-called global warming, mind boggling, and from a scientific perspective, shameful.

I've seen countless geology-department professors bury their integrity as they morph from respectable paleontologists or geologists from other specialties, to "climate change" experts, then watch the research funding roll in. Catastrophism as a scientific phenomenon was quite popular until just before the time of Charles Darwin when it was thoroughly demolished by, among other things, the brilliant work of Sir Charles Lyell, whose seminal work Principles of Geology helped properly consign catastrophism to the ash dump of what we now refer to as junk science.

There is no evidence for a single globalscale catastrophe in earth's five- to six-billion-year history (no, the so-called Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction event supposedly caused by some kind of ridiculously massive meteorite impact was nothing of the sort: in the first place, there is no evidence for any giant meteorite impact; second, some reptiles - a.k.a. dinosaurs - survived, along with virtually all of the mammals, fish and the vast majority of the plant kingdom. What kind of mass extinction is that?).

Second, the most significant so-called greenhouse gas is not carbon dioxide at all: it's water vapour. And what is almost 70% of the earth covered by? Yes, water! Care to guess what percent of the surface of the earth is covered by matter that is continuously emanating carbon dioxide? Probably somewhere under 15%.

Of course, add ocean currents and their deep-seated, cyclical and poorly understood mechanism into the mix, the irregular solar flux, the wobbly orbit of the earth around the sun, periodic episodes of widespread volcanic activity (Krakotoa emplaced the industrial equivalent of decades worth of ash and other pollutants into the atmosphere in less than two days), the carbon flux in the oceans, and numerous other factors into the mix, well, then you start to get a more realisticpic ture of what's involved in controlling climate variation.

Also, for your information, there was a fascinating paper that appeared in the Geological Association of Canada journal, last year I think, demonstrating that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide appear to follow increases in temperature, not precede them! I doubt you' ll hear the great wizard, Dr. David Suzuki, catastrophist extraordinaire, speaking much about that.

Finally, as if any other proofs of the earth's incredible self-buffering and self-regulating capacity were required, how about the fact that as this winter has been so mild, the burning of fossil fuels for heating as gone way down and so has the consequent emissions of carbon dioxide. Presto. Problem solved! Peter Foster hits the nail on the head when he suggests that it would be "a travesty" for the Harper government to go down for perceived inaction on Canada's part in supposed man-made climate change.

Realizing that concept themselves and as a party wishing to stay in office, the Conservatives are now willing to hold their collective noses and trot out billions of dollars of our surplus tax dollars in initiatives to aid those misguided public perceptions. As they must feel the rest of their agenda is not worth toileting over such a frivolous subject, we can not fault them for pulling the old Liberal "expediency" trick.


Naughty Chrysler questions climate change

Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint has attacked European attitudes to global warming, describing climate change as "way, way in the future, with a high degree of uncertainty". He was particularly critical of the recent Stern Report on climate change, which was commissioned by the UK government and calls for urgent action to tackle the problem.

His words are in sharp contrast to the green image that the US car companies have been trying to promote at this year's Detroit motor show. Mr Jolissaint was speaking at a private breakfast where the chief economists of the "Big Three" US car firms presented their forecasts for auto industry sales this year. Most of the audience - which was mainly made up of parts suppliers - seemed to nod in agreement with Mr Jolissaint.

Mr Jolissaint, a Chrysler veteran who was recently appointed the chief economist for the German-US DaimlerChrysler Group, said that since he started spending more time at the company's corporate headquarters in Stuttgart he had been surprised by European attitudes towards global warming.

In response to a question from the floor, he said that global warming was a far-off risk whose magnitude was uncertain. He said that from an economic point of view, it would be more rational to spend lots of money on today's other big problems, and only make small and limited changes in policies relating to global warming, such as a slight increase in gasoline or carbon taxes.

Mr Jolissaint was particularly scathing about the Stern Report, which urged governments to take urgent action now, arguing that it would be much cheaper to act, rather than face a $10 trillion cost of climate change of not doing anything until later. Mr Jolissaint said the report, written by a former adviser to UK Chancellor Gordon Brown, was based on dubious economics and did not include a discount rate. Until recently Sir Nicholas Stern was the second permanent secretary at the UK Treasury.

Chrysler's chief economist said his German colleagues at DaimlerChrysler's headquarters in Stuttgart and other professionals in Europe viewed global warming "with much more alarm than we do". He called on Europeans to deal with climate change "in a step-by-step, rational way, and not play much Chicken Little", referring to the US children's story in which Chicken Little runs around in circles saying "the sky is falling".

If nothing else, Mr Jolissaint's remarks illustrate the yawning gap between mainstream opinion on climate change among the educated elites of Europe and America. But they are also consistent with the cynical view held by some in the US environmental lobby that announcements by car companies about the future development of green vehicles are nothing more than window dressing.

A spokesman for DaimlerChrysler told BBC News that while the science of climate change remained "uncertain", the company supported "concurrent advances in climate science to ensure fuller understanding of the controversies surrounding this issue and to avoid inappropriate responses by government or the private sector". The company was "committed to develop new advanced technologies to minimise any potential impact our vehicles might have on global climate or the environment in general," he said.

On Sunday, GM boss Rick Wagoner told the world's press that there was "now an irrefutable business case for producing green cars" and that the company recognised that fossil fuels would eventually run out, or be in such short supply as to force prices much higher.

At the same time, GM's chief economist - who last year forecast that oil prices would average $40 a barrel when in fact they topped $60 - was predicting that oil prices would fall this year as new oil supply came on stream. As a result, he argued, demand for big, gas-guzzling cars would recover.

Despite the fact that the chief economists have not forecast growth in US vehicle sales in 2007, after 16.5 million units were sold in 2006, they were more optimistic about their outlook than many Wall Street analysts. One reason for their relative optimism was a remarkably sanguine view of the other economic risks facing the auto industry.

There is widespread agreement that the US economy will slow next year, partly because of a sharp drop in house prices. But Ford's chief economist Ellen Hughes-Cromwick said there was little to link house prices and auto sales. She also argued that the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, was likely to cut US interest rates by half a percentage point in coming months to prevent the US economic slowdown turning into a full-blown recession.

This has not been the consensus view in financial markets, and in fact many analysts have stated that Ford would suffer most if the US economic slowdown was more severe than expected. And some, such as Sean McAlinden of the Center for Automotive Research, have warned that it could even push Ford close to bankruptcy.



Anthropologists have established how different cultures independently evolve similar myths - familiar stories, such as the myth of the Fall and the myth of the Apocalypse, which meet deep-seated human needs. The Christian tradition describes the temptation of Adam and Eve and warns of the Last Judgment. In Europe, these stories no longer have the impact they did. Environmentalism now fulfils for many people the widespread longing for simple, all-encompassing narratives. Environmentalism offers an alternative account of the natural world to the religious and an alternative anti-capitalist account of the political world to the Marxist. The rise of environmentalism parallels in time and place the decline of religion and of socialism.

Environmentalism embraces a myth of the Fall: the loss of harmony between man and nature caused by our materialistic society. Al Gore recounted the words of Chief Seattle, as his tribe relinquished their ancient lands: "Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the earth is our mother?" This lost Eden never existed. Humans have burned and eaten the environment since time immemorial. The first Americans crossed the Bering Strait and killed every tame animal they saw. Chief Seattle sold his heritage for a life of luxury and his eloquent speech may have been penned by a television scriptwriter. But myths are literature, not history or science: classical epics and the great religious books are cultural treasures and their educational value does not depend on their literal truth.

The Apocalypse myth is equally familiar. Our wickedness has damaged our inheritance and, although it is almost too late, immediate reform can transform our future. Christians look to the Second Coming, Marxists to the collapse of capitalism, with the same mixture of fear and longing. Environmentalism at first lacked a persuasive Apocalypse myth. The litany of environmental degradation had to confront the manifest fact that many aspects of the environment were steadily improving, with cleaner air, rivers and seashores. The discovery of global warming filled a gap in the canon. That is why environmentalists attach so much importance to the assertion not just that the world is warming up, which is plainly true, but that this warming is our fault, which is less plainly true. The connection between rising carbon concentrations and the growth of modern industrial society provides justification for the link between the sins of our past and the catastrophe of our future.

Environmental evangelists are therefore not interested in pragmatic solutions to climate change or technological fixes for it. They are even less interested in evidence that if we were really serious about reducing carbon emissions we could do so by large amounts without significantly affecting our economies or our lives. Windmills on roofs and cycling to work are insignificant in practical consequence, but that is to miss their point. Every ideology needs rituals of observance which demonstrate the commitment of adherents.

Business should treat the environmental movement as it treats other forms of religious belief. Business leaders do not themselves have to believe its doctrines. Indeed we should be wary if they do: business linked to faiths and ideologies is a sinister and unaccountable power. But companies must respect the belief systems of the countries in which they operate, and acknowledge both the constraints these structures impose and the commercial opportunities that arise. Most environmental initiatives that have been implemented - phasing out fluorocarbons, renewable energy and emissions trading - have significant commercial lobbies behind them.

Still, myths play a valuable social role and the intentions of their proponents are generally benign. The social impact of religions and ideologies, for good and ill, does not depend much on the factual accuracy of their stories. The injunction to be careful of the impact of our actions on the air, the earth and the water is well taken. The danger of environmental evangelism is that ritual, gesture and rhetoric take the place of substance.



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Frequency of record weather events shows randomness

Post below lifted from Lubos Motl

Charles Tye has pointed out the following article:
The subscription at is free. Sidney Redner from Boston University and Mark Petersen from Los Alamos studied the question how frequently you expect record-breaking weather events to occur:
The qualitative lessons of their comprehensible work are not hard to swallow. If one assumes that a quantity - such as the temperature "anomaly" - is a random function of time without any autocorrelation and with an arbitrary fixed distribution, the probability of creating a new record will be dropping inversely proportionally with time. Why? If you have 78 random temperatures from the 13th of January of previous years, they are random uncorrelated numbers, by the assumption. The probability that the highest number in this set will be the new one from 2006 is simply equal to 1/79 because every competing day has the same chance. This decrease with time is called the inverse proportionality law.

However, if you have a long-term trend, a specific kind of autocorrelation, the decrease of the record weather events implied by the inverse proportionality law will stop. Instead, the rate of creating record events will approach a constant. If you have a wiggly curve that can however be approximated by an increasing linear function in the long term, it is clear that the numbers from the far past will have a low probability to be records. Only a smaller and fixed number of recent years will have a significant chance to compete as potential record-makers which will lead to an asymptotic time-independent probability of a new record.

On the other hand, the probability of a new record low temperature will go to zero in the presence of a warmind trend - faster than 1/T.

Redner and Petersen have looked at the data from Philadelphia - 126 years of data - and they found no statistically significant deviations from the inverse probability law i.e. no evidence of approaching a constant rate. As far as the frequency of measured record weather events in Philadelphia goes, there exists no climate change.

More recently, their best additional idea was to look at a city with a longer history and tradition than those of Philadelphia, namely Prague that offers records from the last 231 years. And they did find a signal in this case. Their (so far unpublished) analysis led them to the conclusion that it takes about 130 years for the rate of new records to approach a constant. The precise value of 130 years sounds a bit vague to me because the crossover from the inverse proportionality law to the constant regime is surely not sharp and discontinuous.

Nevertheless, you should believe that assuming the existing size of the trends, one needs more than one century of data to be able to recognize noise (weather) from a trend (climate change) in the frequency of record weather events. Equivalently, if someone cares about the "climate change" because it could increase the frequency of extreme events, the analysis shows that it can only do so measurably after more than a century. If someone predicts a huge amount of extreme weather events in 13 years, he seems to exceed the crackpot threshold by an order of magnitude.

Moreover, in 130 years, we may be able to measure a difference; a significant impact on our lives is a completely different level.

Their conclusion also allows us to disqualify all comparisons of record temperatures based on a 100-year timescale or shorter as noise or hysteria. Whoever uses these weather events to prove a long-term trend is a charlatan. The same conclusion, however, also implies that the same warming trend in Prague has existed before 1900 because the constant regime wouldn't be reached if the trend didn't exist before 1900: you need more than 130 years of the trend.

So it is unlikely that the bulk of the warming observed in the Prague data can be explained by the influence of the global industry that was negligible 100 years ago in comparison with its current size. Instead, the 19th century data from the Czech lands played an important role for them to reveal the underlying trend which means that according to their analysis, the bulk of the post-Little-Ice-Age warming should be of natural origin.


Air pollution is estimated to have killed nearly 10,000 people in Tehran over a one-year period, including 3,600 in a month, Iranian officials say. Most of the deaths were caused by heart attacks and respiratory illnesses brought on by smog, they said. The scale of the problem led one senior official to say living in the Iranian capital was like "collective suicide".

Cheap fuel encourages car use in Iran, correspondents say, and many vehicles do not meet global emissions standards. "It is a very serious and lethal crisis, a collective suicide," the director of Tehran's clean air committee, Mohammad Hadi Heydarzadeh, told an Iranian newspaper. "A real revolution is needed to resolve this problem." He said air quality had worsened and was linked to some 3,600 deaths in October. Many of the deaths were caused by heart attacks brought on by the air pollution.

New figures showed a sharp rise in pollution-related deaths in Iran, where 9,900 people died of pollution in the previous Iranian year (March 2005 to March 2006).




By Robert M. Carter, C. R. de Freitas, Indur M. Goklany, David Holland & Richard S. Lindzen


The Stern Review includes an introductory chapter that summarises the present state of climate science and, in Part II, an analysis of the physical and environmental impacts of prospective future paths of climate change. The credibility of the document as a whole thus rests in large part on how far the material presented under these two science headings is accurate and balanced.

Two distinct aspects are relevant here. First, there is the question of whether it can indeed be said, as the Review asserts in its opening sentence, that The scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change presents very serious global risks, and it demands an urgent global response. Second, there is the related issue of how far the Stern Review, in the sections that it devotes to them, gives an accurate account of the scientific issues. We consider that the Review is doubly deficient. The scientific evidence for dangerous change is, in fact, far from overwhelming, and the Review presents a picture of the scientific debate that is neither accurate nor objective. We present our argument under three main headings. In Section 1 we consider the Review's treatment of basic issues of climate science, and its over-confident conclusions about the prospective course of 'greenhouse gas' concentrations and global warming. In Section 2 we turn to what the Review says about the prospective impacts of the climate changes that it envisages as possible or likely.

Under both headings, we note two interrelated features of the Review: First, that it greatly understates the extent of uncertainty, for there are strict limits to what can be said with assurance about the evolution of complex systems that are not well understood. Second, that its treatment of sources and evidence is selective and biased. These twin features combine to make the Stern Review a vehicle for alarmism.

Section 3 is concerned with fundamental issues of scientific conduct and procedure that the Review fails to consider. Professional contributions to the climate change debate very largely take the form of published peer-reviewed articles and studies. It is widely assumed, in particular by governments and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that the peer review process provides a guarantee of quality and objectivity. This is not so. We note that the process as applied to climate science has tolerated gross failures in due disclosure and archiving, and that peer review is both too inbred and insufficiently thorough to serve any audit purpose, which we believe is now essential for science studies that are to be used to drive trillion-dollar policies.

Besides these three main sections and our summary conclusions in Part 4, we comment in an annex on some aspects of the mishandling of data in the Stern Review. Overall, our conclusion is that the Review is flawed to a degree that makes it unsuitable, if not unwise, for use in setting policy.


The alarmist view of climate science

Sir Nicholas Stern made a revealing comment in his OXONIA lecture of January 2006: "in August or July of last year, [he] had an idea what the greenhouse effect was but wasn't really sure". It seems that, starting from a position of little knowledge of the issues, he has swiftly espoused the official view of the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, on whose advice the Review relies heavily.

But this Hadley Centre picture of reality, though broadly in line with that of the IPCC, is by no means universally held. Many of the specific claims that are endorsed in the Review have been seriously challenged in the scientific literature, while the text plays down the great uncertainties that remain. The Hadley message, as reflected in the Review, is an alarmist one. It presumes without question that moderate further increases in atmospheric CO2 levels will give rise to major climatic changes and that these are likely to be seriously damaging; that the climatic changes observed over recent decades can be reliably blamed on emissions of 'greenhouse gases' in general, and CO2 in particular; and that climate model projections and forecasts present a sufficiently accurate view of the future at relevant geographic and temporal scales to form a basis for major policy decisions.

The Stern Review itself fails to take proper account of the profound uncertainties and major gaps in knowledge of climate science, and neither does it address the many continuing debates regarding climate change mechanisms and impact assessments. Like its sources, the Review gives unwarranted credence to model projections over firmly established data and findings. By exaggerating climate alarm it focuses on implausible rather than likely outcomes, and thereby fails to provide a sound basis for policy.



We conclude that the Stern Review is biased and alarmist in its reading of the science. In particular, it displays:

* a failure to acknowledge the scope and scale of the knowledge gaps and uncertainties in climate science
* credulous acceptance of hypothetical, model-based explanations of the causality of climate phenomena
* massive overestimation of climate impacts through an implausible population scenario and one-sided treatment of the impacts literature, including reliance on agenda-driven advocacy documents
* lack of due diligence in evaluating many pivotal research studies despite the scandalous lack of disclosure of data and methods in these studies
* lack of concern for the defects and inadequacies of the peer review process as a guarantor of quality or truth.

These and other related problems arise because the Review has relied for advice almost exclusively on a small number of people and organizations that have a long history of unbalanced alarmism on the global warming issue. Most of the research cited by the Review does not, on inspection, make a convincing case that greenhouse warming constitutes a major threat that justifies an immediate and radical policy response. Contrary research is consistently ignored, as are basic observational facts showing that alarm is unwarranted. The Review fails to present an accurate picture of scientific understanding of climate change issues, and will reinforce ill-informed alarm about climate change among the general public, the bureaucracy and the body politic. HM Government will need to look elsewhere for a balanced, impartial and authoritative review of the current climate change debate.


By Ian Byatt, Ian Castles, Indur M. Goklany, David Henderson, Nigel Lawson, Ross McKitrick, Julian Morris, Alan Peacock, Colin Robinson and Robert Skidelsky


The starting point of the Stern Review is that 'The scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change is a serious global threat...'. For reasons that are set out in Part I above, we believe that this assertion is not correct, and that the Review's treatment of scientific issues is open to serious question. Here we go on to question its treatment of economic issues.

This is no straightforward task, because of the lack of clarity which characterises much of the Review's analysis. This has been noted by others: in the article of theirs that follows, and which likewise comments on the Review, Richard Tol and Gary Yohe make the point that 'It is impossible for a reader to understand precisely what is in the calculations that underlie' the Review; and in the same vein, William Nordhaus has written that 'It is virtually impossible for mortals outside the group that did the modelling to understand the detailed results of the Review'.

In an after-the-event attempt to clarify matters, a Postscript to the Review, accompanied by a Technical Annex on modelling issues, was published just before this article went to press. But much remains unclear, placing an undue burden on readers to excavate the actual structure of the Review's argument. Our treatment below falls under six headings.

We start in Section 1 by considering the Review's valuation of the possible impacts of global warming. Here our point of departure is Section 2 of Part I above, where our scientific colleagues have assessed what the Stern Review says about prospective biophysical impacts.

With their conclusions as a basis, we move on to consider, and to put in question, the figures that the Review derives for the prospective costs of these various impacts, and hence for the benefits that would supposedly flow from policies to reduce emissions.

From the projected benefits of mitigation, we turn in Section 2 to consider the prospective costs involved. We think that the Stern Review has understated these, probably by a wide margin. The combination of projected benefits that are pitched too high and projected costs that are pitched too low has led to a seriously unbalanced presentation of policy alternatives.

In Section 3, we consider the central issue of discounting the future. Here again we give reasons to question the Review's treatment. Critical issues are not fully explored, the bias towards immediate and far-reaching actions to reduce emissions is reinforced, and the risks and problems that would arise from following the Review's prescriptions for policy are not faced. Under all these headings, a recurrent theme is that the Review positions itself well outside the mainstream of published economic writings on these subjects: in relation to the professional debate, it appears as an outlier.

In Section 4, we consider the choice of policy instruments in the context of climate change, and comment on the treatment of these issues in the Review.

Section 5 deals with further major omissions from the Review-issues, and contributions to the subject, which the document fails to consider. Some of the points that we make here form a counterpart and extension of the argument in Section 3 of Part I above: we draw attention, as our scientific colleagues have done, to an established and officially approved process of inquiry which is not professionally up to the mark.

Section 6 summarises our conclusions. The Review shows serious weaknesses in its treatment and presentation of basic data. The Annex to Part I comments on one aspect of this failing, namely, the mishandling of basic observational data relating to climate change and the factors that bear on it. Here we present a counterpart annex of a similar kind. It deals with the Review's faulty handling of sources which are themselves flawed. The sources in question are the emissions scenarios which form the starting point for the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).



Our main conclusions coincide with, and serve to confirm and reinforce, those reached by our scientific colleagues in Part I above. Like them, we would emphasise in particular two interrelated features of the Stern Review:

* it greatly understates the extent of uncertainty as to possible developments, in highly complex systems that are not well understood, over a period of two centuries or more
* its treatment of sources and evidence is persistently selective and biased. These twin features have combined to make the Review a vehicle for speculative alarmism. We also endorse, from our own analysis, the judgement of our colleagues that the Review:
* mishandles data
* gives too little attention to actual observation and evidence, as distinct from the results of model-based exercises
* takes no account of the failures of due disclosure, and the chronic limitations of peer reviewing, that have been characteristic of work relating to climate change which governments have commissioned and drawn on.

As to specifically economic aspects, we have noted among other weaknesses that the Review:

* systematically overstates projected costs of climate change, partly though by no means wholly as a result of its failure to acknowledge the scope for long-term adaptation to possible global warming
* underestimates the likely cost-including to the world's poor-of the drastic global mitigation programme that it calls for
* proposes worldwide adoption of a specially low rate of interest for discounting the costs and benefits of mitigation, on the basis of inadequate analysis and without regard for the problems and risks that would result.

So far from being an authoritative guide to the economics of climate change, the Review is deeply flawed. It does not provide a basis for informed and responsible policies.

From "World Economics", Vol. 7, No. 4, October-December 2006. FULL PAPER here


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, January 15, 2007


Even the Vegos are hopping onto the global warming bandwagon -- but with a surprising amount of skepticism about the source of it. They say it is all due to farting cows. See below

Global warming poses one of the most serious threats to the global environment ever faced in human history. Yet by focusing entirely on carbon dioxide emissions, major environmental organizations have failed to account for published data showing that other gases are the main culprits behind the global warming we see today. As a result, they are neglecting what might be the most effective strategy for reducing global warming in our lifetimes: advocating a vegetarian diet.

The environmental community rightly recognizes global warming as one of the gravest threats to the planet. Global temperatures are already higher than they've ever been in at least the past millennium, and the increase is accelerating even faster than scientists had predicted. The expected consequences include coastal flooding, increases in extreme weather, spreading disease, and mass extinctions.

Unfortunately, the environmental community has focused its efforts almost exclusively on abating carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Domestic legislative efforts concentrate on raising fuel economy standards, capping CO2 emissions from power plants, and investing in alternative energy sources. Recommendations to consumers also focus on CO2: buy fuel-efficient cars and appliances, and minimize their use. ,

This is a serious miscalculation. Data published by Dr. James Hansen and others show that CO2 emissions are not the main cause of observed atmospheric warming. Though this may sound like the work of global warming skeptics, it isn't: Hansen is Director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies who has been called "a grandfather of the global warming theory." He is a longtime supporter of action against global warming, cited by Al Gore and often quoted by environmental organizations, who has argued against skeptics for subverting the scientific process. His results are generally accepted by global warming experts, including bigwigs like Dr. James McCarthy, co-chair of the International Panel on Climate Change's Working Group II.

The focus solely on CO2 is fueled in part by misconceptions. It's true that human activity produces vastly more CO2 than all other greenhouse gases put together. However, this does not mean it is responsible for most of the earth's warming. Many other greenhouse gases trap heat far more powerfully than CO2, some of them tens of thousands of times more powerfully. When taking into account various gases' global warming potential-defined as the amount of actual warming a gas will produce over the next one hundred years-it turns out that gases other than CO2 make up most of the global warming problem.

Even this overstates the effect of CO2, because the primary sources of these emissions-cars and power plants-also produce aerosols. Aerosols actually have a cooling effect on global temperatures, and the magnitude of this cooling approximately cancels out the warming effect of CO2. The surprising result is that sources of CO2 emissions are having roughly zero effect on global temperatures in the near-term!

This result is not widely known in the environmental community, due to a fear that polluting industries will use it to excuse their greenhouse gas emissions. For example, the Union of Concerned Scientists had the data reviewed by other climate experts, who affirmed Hansen's conclusions. However, the organization also cited climate contrarians' misuse of the data to argue against curbs in CO2. This contrarian spin cannot be justified.

While CO2 may have little influence in the near-term, reductions remains critical for containing climate change in the long run. Aerosols are short-lived, settling out of the air after a few months, while CO2 continues to heat the atmosphere for decades to centuries. Moreover, we cannot assume that aerosol emissions will keep pace with increases in CO2 emissions. If we fail start dealing with CO2 today, it will be too late down the road when the emissions catch up with us.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that sources of non-CO2 greenhouse gases are responsible for virtually all the global warming we're seeing, and all the global warming we are going to see for the next fifty years. If we wish to curb global warming over the coming half century, we must look at strategies to address non-CO2 emissions. The strategy with the most impact is vegetarianism.

By far the most important non-CO2 greenhouse gas is methane, and the number one source of methane worldwide is animal agriculture. Methane is responsible for nearly as much global warming as all other non-CO2 greenhouse gases put together. Methane is 21 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2. While atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have risen by about 31% since pre-industrial times, methane concentrations have more than doubled. Whereas human sources of CO2 amount to just 3% of natural emissions, human sources produce one and a half times as much methane as all natural sources. In fact, the effect of our methane emissions may be compounded as methane-induced warming in turn stimulates microbial decay of organic matter in wetlands-the primary natural source of methane.

With methane emissions causing nearly half of the planet's human-induced warming, methane reduction must be a priority. Methane is produced by a number of sources, including coal mining and landfills-but the number one source worldwide is animal agriculture. Animal agriculture produces more than 100 million tons of methane a year. And this source is on the rise: global meat consumption has increased fivefold in the past fifty years, and shows little sign of abating. About 85% of this methane is produced in the digestive processes of livestock, and while a single cow releases a relatively small amount of methane, the collective effect on the environment of the hundreds of millions of livestock animals worldwide is enormous. An additional 15% of animal agricultural methane emissions are released from the massive "lagoons" used to store untreated farm animal waste, and already a target of environmentalists' for their role as the number one source of water pollution in the U.S......



Rebecca and Emmet O'Connell swear that they are not car people and that they worry about global warming. Indeed, they looked miserable one recent evening as they drove home to suburban Lucan from central Dublin, a crawling 8.5-mile journey that took an hour.

But in this booming city, where the number of cars has doubled in the last 15 years, there is little choice, they said. "Believe me -- if there was an alternative we would use it," said Ms. O'Connell, 40, a textile designer. "We care about the environment. It's just hard to follow through here."

No trains run to the new suburbs where hundreds of thousands of Dubliners now live, and the few buses going there overflow with people. So nearly everyone drives -- to work, to shop, to take their children to school -- in what seems like a constant smoggy, traffic jam. Since 1990, emissions from transportation in Ireland have risen about 140 percent, the most in Europe. But Ireland is not alone.

Vehicular emissions are rising in nearly every European country, and across the globe. Because of increasing car and truck use, greenhouse-gas emissions are increasing even where pollution from industry is waning. .....



British opposition leader David Cameron said on Wednesday he was trying to recapture the climate change issue from the "doom mongers" and said it was important to show people there were positive reasons for saving energy. Cameron has made the environment a priority since taking over the leadership of the Conservative Party in late 2005, helping the party build a lead over Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party in most opinion polls. Blair has said he will step down this year although the next general election is not due until 2009.

Cameron said he was not trying to scare people into voting by talking about the environmental challenges facing the world. "I've been trying to recapture the environment and climate change from the sort of doom mongers. I mean if this is all about doom and gloom and taxes, we're not going to persuade people to come with us," he said in an interview to be broadcast by Sky News on Wednesday. "If you switch to a hybrid car you can cut the cost of your transport. If you cycle to work every now and again you feel fit and healthy. There's a good positive reason for doing these things which is not just about money -- it's about your own well-being," he said. "If we can convince people of that, then I think we're half-way there," he added. The key was not to try to be a "hair shirt-wearing doomster", he said. "We've got to try and make the environment and climate change uplifting and fun and interesting ..."

On Tuesday, Blair drew fire from environmentalists for refusing to commit to giving up long-haul holiday flights in the interests of combating global warming. Blair, who has championed international action to counter climate change, said individuals could make a difference on global warming but what mattered was an international agreement. Blair's spokesman said later the prime minister asked earlier this week for all his personal travel to be "offset", which works by investing funds in energy efficiency or forestry projects to counter greenhouse gas emissions from travel.

As British political parties compete for environmental leadership, Cameron is having solar panels and a wind turbine installed at his London home. Some of his attempts to prove his environmental credentials have backfired, such as when it was revealed that his chauffeur drove behind with his briefcase and a change of clothes when he cycled to work. Cameron said "green" taxes should be mainly aimed at changing behaviour rather than at raising revenue. "I think the right thing to do is to see the share of taxes taken by green taxes go up and then at the same time, take taxes on other things down," he said.


Resource envy -- what the Greenies have in mind for us all

A warning situation in Australia: The Greenies have managed to create water-scarcity (and thus water envy) by their constant opposition to new dams. In Victoria they even went one further -- by persuading the State government to pour already-dammed water down the Snowy river as an "environmental" flow. Now if only they could make OTHER resources scarce by their ceaseless agitation. Their "Greenhouse" nonsense COULD make electricity scarce. How they would enjoy that!

Margaret Norriss is living in fear. The retired teacher is so scared of the emergence of water vigilantes that she doesn't dare hose her front garden, even though she has been using a rainwater tank for the past nine years. "The whole thing is turning the community against one another," Ms Norriss told The Sunday Age. "It's becoming like Big Brother and I'm starting to feel very uncomfortable." Although the State Government will not reveal until next month the number of calls it has received to the new Dob in a Water Cheat line, it restricted to a trickle water to three households for breaches committed between 2003 and 2006.

Like an increasing number of Melburnians, Ms Norriss is terrified of being wrongly accused of breaking the new water restrictions. Terrified at the thought of a knock on the door from the "water police". She has hung a sign on her front fence declaring only non-town water is in use. But that hasn't stopped the abuse and glares of people as they slow to pass her Northcote home. "Sometimes human nature is wonderful and people pull together in the most amazing ways, but I believe we are moving into a situation where people are getting quite nasty, and I'm really starting to get paranoid," Ms Norriss said.

She is not alone. Garden envy is rife and threatening to spill over to open hostility as the State Government asks the community to anonymously "dob in a water cheat". While Melburnians bemoan the death of historic elm trees lining the Yarra and despair over the state of their yards, a drive around suburban back streets reveals a vast array of thriving gardens, complete with lush, green lawns.

For those adhering to the new restrictions and using grey, rain or bore water to maintain their treasured gardens, the only defence from the prying eyes of neighbours is the signs that are springing up in front yards from the leafy, expansive homes of Toorak to the workers' cottages of Thornbury and Williamstown. Even Deputy Premier and Water Minister John Thwaites, who is also Minister for Communities, has recognised the problem and suggested that people hang home-made signs in their yards. Monash University academic David Dunstan fears the growing hysteria about water is threatening our sense of community as "neighbour is pitted against neighbour". "I think it is most unhealthy and potentially dangerous," he said, adding that neighbourhood trust and goodwill was being replaced with "a climate of suspicion".

Last week, The Sunday Age highlighted the emerging culture of "dobbing" and sparked a number of debates on talkback radio. Many listeners confessed that they were spying on their neighbours' water usage. "The Government is encouraging neighbour to spy on neighbour and dob them in," Dr Dunstan said. "Rather than appealing directly to people to save water, they are now saying your neighbour is your policeman and we will provide the stick to support them." He goes so far as to liken the situation to the rise of fascism in pre-war Germany and Stalinist Eastern Europe, where people could not even trust their family. "Nobody felt safe because they could be visited at 4 o'clock in the morning. It's an extreme example, but these were the means by which totalitarian societies kept their population in fear."

Four years ago, Len Williams and his wife built a new front fence at their Surrey Hills home and planted roses, gardenias and camellias. Just before Christmas, he rigged up his own recycling system of pipes, garbage bins and filters to re-use the grey water from the kitchen and bathroom. "I don't want to lose the plants," he said. "The money I spent in setting the water system up is nothing compared to what the replacement cost of the plants would be." His wife told the neighbours they were using grey water, but Mr Williams said it was still necessary to make a sign to hang on the front fence. "It's not only neighbours; a lot of people walk past and I don't want people to think that we are breaking the water restrictions by watering what appears to be on the wrong day," he explained. Like Ms Norriss, Mr Williams said he feared the "knock on the door" following a misguided complaint.

Still, others like former National Australia Bank boss Frank Cicutto and his wife, Christine, told The Sunday Age they installed the sign in their yard to encourage others to use recycled or tank water. The couple's spokeswoman said Mrs Cicutto, who was raised in the country, was very concerned about the water shortage and had insisted on the installation of rainwater tanks when the $8 million Canterbury mansion was built.

LJ Ryan and her husband have recently laid turf at their new Toorak home, and although they qualify for an exception to the restrictions, she said they felt compelled to let people know they were only using tank water. While they were primarily driven by the desire to encourage others to use non-town water on their gardens, Mrs Ryan conceded that there was also a fear of being wrongly reported to the authorities. "We were concerned about what the neighbours think, because you don't want to be seen to be flouting the restrictions," she 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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, January 14, 2007


New research suggests that climate change led to the collapse of the most splendid imperial dynasty in China's history and to the extinction of the Maya civilisation in Central America more than 1,000 years ago. There has never been a satisfactory explanation for the decline and fall of the Tang emperors, whose era is viewed as a highpoint of Chinese civilisation, while the disappearance of the Maya world perplexes scholars.

Now a team of scientists has found evidence that a shift in monsoons led to drought and famine in the final century of Tang power. The weather pattern may also have spelt doom for the Maya in faraway Mexico at about the same time, they say. Both ruling hierarchies at the start of the 10th century were victims of poor rainfall and starvation among their peoples when harvests failed.

The martial arts honed during the fall of the Tang still provide a staple of modern Chinese epic films and video games, while Mel Gibson, the actor-director, has just released Apocalypto, a blood-drenched film set in the last days of the Maya. The Maya practised human sacrifices to please the gods of rain and Chinese soothsayers were employed by the court to divine the seasons, yet neither could have predicted the slow-motion catastrophe resulting from the changing weather.

The cause was to be found in the migration of a band of heavy tropical rain, which moves in response to phenomena such as El Nino (a weather effect created by huge surface temperature fluctuations in tropical eastern Pacific waters), the scientists argued in an article in Nature last week. The effect was to end two golden ages which existed in ignorance of one another on opposite sides of the world. The scientific team, led by Gerald Haug of Germany's national geosciences research centre, found that a massive movement in tropical rainfall took place in early 900 both in China and in Central America. The scientists discovered that titanium sediment and deposits of magnetic minerals in a lake in southeast China indicate that the period was one of intense climate change that left northern China a desolate waste. They reported remarkable similarity between titanium deposits in the Huangyan Lake, in Guangdong province, and in the Cariaco basin, in Venezuela.

According to the scientists, the 8th and 9th centuries saw a worldwide drought in many regions. They conclude that it ruined entire societies. The scientists concede that there is little independent evidence to corroborate their theory as regards the Maya. It is known that they went into a steep decline in the 8th century and that their last stone calendars were carved in Mexico in about 903. By contrast, Chinese chroniclers recorded extensive descriptions of the decay which set in during the late Tang dynasty, which ended in 907.

These correlate well with the new scientific evidence. "On the basis of our new data, Chinese dynastic changes tended to occur when the summer monsoon was weak and rainfall was reduced," the scientists reported. Trade, literature and the arts flourished under enlightened rule by the Tang. However, Chao-tsung, the last Tang emperor of stature, was murdered by an upstart warlord in 904. His 12-year-old son was placed on the throne but the boy and the dynasty vanished from history just three years later amid chaos and peasant rebellions. As the weather changed, Tang mandarins had been forced to ship grain from south to north, while extorting ever heavier taxes and religious "offerings" from the suffering peasantry. Meanwhile, courtiers entertained one another lavishly with gifts of porcelain of the utmost refinement, such as the famed Tang horses, which command premium prices at auction houses today.



GLOBAL warming is one of the greatest threats to present day civilisation but work by a team of Scots scientists suggests the ancient Egyptians may have been earlier victims of climate change. The pharaohs ruled their empire for hundreds of years, spreading culture, architecture and the arts before it collapsed into economic ruin. Why that happened is one of the great mysteries of history.

Now a team of scientists from Scotland and Wales believe the answer lies beneath the waters of Lake Tana, high in the Ethiopian Highlands, and the source of the all-important Blue Nile. Samples taken over the past two years from sediments beneath Tana, which supplies the water which makes the lower Nile valley so fertile, reveal the lake may have almost dried up during the critical period around 4,200 years ago due to climate change. According to the team's theory, the flow of water on which the farm-based ancient Egyptian economy thrived would have slowed to a trickle, causing a devastating famine that lasted for 200 years. That would have been enough to destroy the Old Kingdom and its people, leaving only the pyramids and the Sphinx at Giza as their legacy to history.

The research is being carried out by a geological team from St Andrews University and the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. Dr Mike Marshall, from the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth, said that when the project began in 2003, the drought was only a theory, but the pieces of the jigsaw are now being unearthed. "We have found evidence of drought events at several levels in the lake's sediments. That correlates with 4,200 years ago. Lake Tana at that time could have been at a very low level. "It wasn't completely dried out, but the lake became less extensive. Parts of the fringes of the lake bed could have been exposed completely and so the water flow may have been much less than normal for long periods. This could have had a severe effect on water flows further down the Nile."

The Old Kingdom flourished between 2575BC and 2150BC and bequeathed the world some of its most iconic stone monuments. But historians have argued over what was to blame for the Kingdom's demise. Theories include invasion from Asia or internal political conflict, but more likely are the consequences of repeated and damaging drops in the level of the Nile over decades. Although written archives from the era record famine resulting from drought, proof of what stopped the annual Nile floods from occurring has been hard to find.

Lake Tana feeds the Blue Nile, which joins the White Nile at Khartoum in Sudan. The Blue Nile provides two-thirds of the water in the Nile proper, which flows through Egypt to the Mediterranean. Annual monsoons in the Ethiopian Highlands have led to the yearly flooding of the Nile, which was so important to ancient civilisations in the area. But although 53 miles long and 41 miles wide, the lake's greatest depth is 50 feet, which scientists believe would make it highly vulnerable to climate change.

Working from fixed and moving barges, the academics, backed up by Ethiopian drillers, have taken core samples from bore holes in the lake bed sediments dating back at least 18,000 years. At that level, 79 ft down from the lake bed, they found strong evidence that Tana had completely dried out, suggesting a dramatic change in the Earth's climate. Seismic surveys carried out by Dr Richard Bates from St Andrews' School of Geography and Geosciences have revealed the sediments are much deeper than previously considered. "What we now know is that the lake dried out 18,000 years ago, which corresponds with the end of the last Ice Age. As we get better at what we are doing we should be able to detect the nuances of what went on in the lake after that time," Bates said.

The team returned to Ethiopia last month to continue their research. Bates said: "The opportunity to establish such a long and detailed record of climate change at the heart of Africa has important implications, not only for trying to understand past, present and future climate change, but as we delve back into the past, it will also have important implications for the study of human development and the migration of early man from the cradle of mankind."



Billions in costs make it more and more unlikely that the EU can continue to go it alone slashing carbon emissions

A political drama is unfolding in Europe over the future of its Kyoto strategy. Its outcome will shape the future of climate policy and international negotiations for years to come. At the heart of the escalating confrontation lies Europe's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and mounting concerns about its prospective failure. The crisis centres on a fundamental conflict between economic realism and environmental idealism, between national interest and green ideology. It has exposed the increasing tension between Europe's green enthusiasm and the realization that its unilateral framework comes at a hefty cost that is beginning to erode the economic stability of a waning continent.

Carbon trading is the EU's principal strategy for meeting its Kyoto target of reducing CO2 emissions by 8% by 2012. The scheme was launched two years ago in the hope that it would achieve what more than 10 years of political commandeering had failed: significant reductions in CO2 emissions. Instead, year after year, most EU countries continue to increase their greenhouse-gas emissions. Rather than proving its effectiveness, the trading system has pushed electricity prices even higher while energy-intensive companies are forced to close down, cut jobs, or pass on the costs to consumers.

As the reality of economic pain is felt all over Europe, deep cracks in its green foundations are beginning to become apparent. Guenter Verheugen, the EU's industry commissioner, has warned that by "going it alone" Europe is burdening its industries and consumers with soaring costs that are undermining Europe's international competitiveness. Instead of improving environmental conditions, Europe's policy threatens to redirect energy-intensive production to parts of the world that reject mandatory carbon cuts.

Verheugen's warning reaffirms what U.S. administrations have been saying for many years. It is aimed at the rapidly evolving challenges posed by Asian competitors such as China and India that are set to overtake Europe's sluggish economy within the next couple of decades. Indeed, Europe's imprudent unilateralism is not only constraining its trade and industry; worse still, it has led to a significant slowdown in European R&D budgets, a sliding trend that is hampering the development of low-carbon technologies.

The ETS's malfunctioning is partly due to an inherent flaw that allowed member states to allocate more emission permits than European industrial plants actually needed. Although Europe's energy utilities receive carbon permits free of charge, they have passed on the market price to industry and private consumers. In consequence, Germany's energy costs rose by almost EU6-billion ($9.2-billion) in 2005, a price tag that is expected to double in the next couple of years. The cunning strategy ensured that power companies reaped billions in windfall profits. And yet without the massive sweetener, Brussels could not have gained the support of industry for this risky scheme.

The dodgy bargain ended in political fiasco: Last year, the trading scheme nearly collapsed as carbon prices crashed. In a desperate attempt to salvage an increasingly volatile system, Brussels has now slashed 7% from the National Allocation Plans recently submitted by EU member states from the second phase (2008-12). The decision has been greeted with irritation and sheer anger in many European capitals as the damaging consequences become apparent. Germany's Economy Minister has called the cuts "totally unacceptable" and Berlin is threatening to challenge the decision in court.

As far as the imminent future is concerned, one thing is patently clear: After years of inflated promises that the Kyoto process would not upset their economy, European governments are beginning to realize that the era of cost-free climate hype is coming to an end. In its place, concern is growing that key industries and entire countries will pay a devastating price for Europe's reckless Kyoto craze.

The stakes are particularly high for Germany. Despite its customary role as environmental cheerleader, it has been hit hardest. Brussels bureaucrats have slashed more than 30 million tonnes from its annual carbon permit. It faces up to ?3.5-billion in fines if it cannot bring down emissions by 2008.

Germany is extremely vulnerable to imposed energy caps. It is strongly opposed to plans for replacing its coal-fired power plants with gas-fired facilities, as such a move would only increase its already precarious dependency on Russian gas imports. Furthermore, successive governments have agreed to shut down all nuclear power plants, which account for a third of Germany's electricity generation. The Greens' anti-nuclear achievement has thus turned ideological triumph into an energy nightmare.

To make matters worse, Germany's industry bosses have warned that they will not proceed with billions in intended energy investments should the government lose the bitter dispute with the European Commission over slashed emission credits. The EU has made clear that it will not yield to German demands, as this would destabilize its fragile trading scheme. However, should German companies be forced to buy carbon credits at higher prices, it will simply remove funds and economic incentives that the government had hoped would be invested in alternative technologies.

As the price for electricity, goods and services continue to rise and Asian competitors catch up with Europe's lethargic economy, the public is beginning to question Brussel's unilateral climate policy. According to a recent EU poll, more than 60% of Europeans are unwilling to sacrifice their standard of living in the name of green causes. As long as advocates of Kyoto got away with claims that their policies would not inflict any significant costs, many people were tempted to believe in improbable promises. Now that the true cost of Kyoto is starting to hurt European pockets, the erstwhile green consensus is unravelling.

Oblivious to its deepening isolation, Europe is trying frantically to salvage the political capital it has invested in the Kyoto process. China and India have consistently ruled out participating in a global emissions trading scheme. It is unlikely that their booming economies and growing consumer demands would cope with energy restrictions on their development. Just the thought of allocating carbon credits for up to two billion potential middle-class consumers makes the mind boggle.

In recent weeks, even U.S. Democrats have cautiously started to lower expectations. They now concede that even under a Democratic administration, the United States is unlikely to join any international climate regime that would exclude Asia's looming superpowers and burden its economy with unilateral obligations.

Political realists have absorbed these sobering developments. There are signs that they are preparing the public for the EU's ultimate exit from Kyoto-type treaties. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Chancellor Angela Merkel's climate advisor during Germany's EU and G8 presidencies, has suggested that G8 countries as well as China and India should adopt their own, national climate goals and policies, a loose road map that could replace the fading Kyoto treaty after it runs out in 2012.

What then are the chances that Europe's flagging climate policy will survive? The prospects are rather bleak. It remains unclear, however, whether the disarray over Kyoto and its rickety emissions-trading scheme will discourage others from getting their own fingers burnt.



All Greenies should be made to commute on British trains before they condemn cars

Tony Ambrose finally lost patience with a rail company's excuses when he was forced to stand in a two-carriage train's only lavatory with two other people on the way to work. Mr Ambrose and other angry passengers have set up a protest group, More Trains Less Strain, and are planning a fares strike over the decision by First Great Western (FGW) to withdraw 20 carriages. The company, which has by far the worst punctuality record in the country, with more than a quarter of trains late, is saving 100,000 pounds per carriage in annual leasing and maintenance costs by sending them into so-called warm storage at Eastleigh in Hampshire.

It has cut trains in half, leaving dozens of stations in Somerset and Wiltshire with services made up of only one or two carriages even though people had been struggling to find seats on the old four-carriage services. FGW has also cancelled more than 700 services in the past four weeks, mainly because of a shortage of trains. Hundreds of passengers at Bath, Trowbridge, Keynsham, Bradford-upon-Avon and Salisbury are being left stranded on platforms, unable to squeeze on to trains that arrive already dangerously overcrowded. A fortnight ago a passenger fell into the gap between the train and platform at Bath Spa station as people surged towards the doors. Several other passengers have fainted on packed trains.

Train guards are frequently demanding that people get off and wait for the train behind, which turns out to be equally overcrowded. Commuters from Maidenhead, Twyford and other stations in the Thames Valley are also enduring severe overcrowding, with many having to abandon their journeys, because FGW has introduced a new timetable that favours more profitable long-distance trains. This week FGW tried to pacify passengers around Bristol by borrowing all the carriages from the St Ives and Looe branch lines in Cornwall. But this has created a separate outcry from Cornish passengers, who have had to travel on buses. The RMT union, which represents train and station staff, has complained that its members are being abused by frustrated passengers.

FGW is one of a growing number of rail companies struggling to reconcile sharp cuts in subsidy from the Government with a record growth in demand. More than 1.1 billion rail journeys were made in Britain last year, the highest number for 50 years. Last year FGW signed a new ten-year franchise deal under which it not only agreed to cease receiving a subsidy but committed itself to paying the Government a premium of 1.1 billion pounds.

More Trains Less Strain is holding a meeting on Tuesday in Bath at which it will announce a campaign of direct action, including a day when passengers will refuse to buy tickets or show passes. Mr Ambrose, a charity worker from Bath, said: "Why should people pay for such appalling treatment? The service has collapsed in recent weeks and it has become a lottery whether you will be able to get on a train. "Even First's staff are on our side - they can see the madness of storing trains in sidings when record numbers of people want to travel by rail." Caroline Copeland, a teacher from Oldfield Park near Bath, said that she had been late for a work three times in a week because the trains had been too crowded when they arrived. "Unless you are standing right beside the door when it stops, you have no chance of squeezing on."

Theresa May, the Shadow Leader of the House and MP for Maidenhead, called for FGW to be stripped of its franchise. "They are making a shambles of the service, with people abandoning trains and going by car and even talking of moving house to avoid the nightmare of rail travel," she said. "It is partly the Government's fault because it specified a reduced service to the bidders for the contract."

FGW said that the shortage of trains was being exacerbated by mechanical problems with the remaining fleet. A spokesman said that the company had agreed the reduction in carriages with the Department for Transport as part of its contract. The department denied that it was to blame and said that it had been up to FGW to decide how many carriages it needed.



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

The New York Times Pushes the Green Party Line

The New York Times must have a guilty conscience about the continuous distortions of the news that appear in its pages. Evidence of this guilt is provided everyday in The Times' claim that its "news and editorial departments do not coordinate coverage and maintain a strict separation in staff and management." That claim is necessary only because The Times has become sensitive about the matter. And with good reason. Because even though there may not be formal meetings, strategy sessions, and the like to coordinate its news reporting with its leftist editorial slant, that leftist slant nevertheless very definitely does permeate its reporting.

Perhaps it's the result simply of the fact that The Times' editorial writers and its reporters were all educated in the same kind of universities, all promoting the same leftist ideas in economics, politics, history, and the various branches of philosophy. Whatever the explanation, the paper's editorial writers and reporters consistently come at things from the same perspective and, with only occasional exceptions, end up pushing the same party line.

A good example of this appears in today's (January 6, 2007) edition. On the first page of the business section, there is an article titled "The Land of Rising Conservation." The article is a pure puff piece for environmentalism/conservationism. Its theme is that Japan is the model country of energy conservation, pointing the way for the United States on the basis of the use of the latest technology. Indeed, the subtitle of the article, in the print edition, is "Japan Offers a Lesson in Using Technology to Lessen Energy Consumption." A leading illustration of this technology is an alleged futuristic "home fuel cell, a machine as large and quiet as a filing cabinet that.turns hydrogen into electricity and cold water into hot-at a fraction of regular utility costs."

The article compares Japan with the United States in terms of annual energy consumption per home and trumpets the fact that in Japan's it is less than half of that in the United States. It also declares that while Japan's "population and economy are each about 40 percent as large as that of the United States, yet in 2004 it consumed less than a quarter as much energy as America did, according to the International Energy Agency, which is based in Paris."

The article credits Japan's superiority in "energy efficiency" to the "guiding hand of government," which has forced "households and companies to conserve by raising the cost of gasoline and electricity far above global levels. Taxes and price controls make a gallon of gasoline in Japan currently cost about $5.20, twice America's more market-based prices." The same relationship apparently applies to energy prices in general. An advisor to the Japanese Parliament is favorably quoted as saying, "Japan has taught itself how to survive with energy prices that are twice as high as everywhere else." The sharply higher energy prices, the article explains, are the source of tax revenues, which "[t]he government in turn has help Japan seize the lead in renewable energies like solar power, and more recently home fuel cells."

Despite The Times' and its reporter's obvious enthusiasm for the Japanese government's energy policies, a careful, critical reading of the article results in a very different kind of appraisal. (Unfortunately, such a reading is not likely to be performed by many of The Times' readers.)

It turns out that that futuristic home fuel cell, that allegedly operates "at a fraction of regular utility costs," requires a government "subsidy of about $51,000" per unit. This is what makes possible its purchase "for about $9,000, far below production cost." (I hope I will be forgiven for failing to see the intelligence of a policy that makes people pay twice the price for energy in order to provide funds to make possible the production of electricity at a sharply higher cost.)

But there is more. It also turns out such technological advances are only part of the story. There is also a major "human interest"/cultural angle that contributes to Japan's "superiority" in "energy efficiency." This centers on a Mr. Kimura and his family. (He owns the futuristic home fuel cell that a Times' photograph shows standing in front of his house.) Without any apparent awareness of the significance of the information being revealed and certainly without any embarrassment about it, The Times' reporter writes this about the subject of his human interest.

Mr. Kimura says he, his wife, and two teenage children all take turns bathing in the same water, a common practice here. Afterward, the still-warm water is sucked through a rubber tube into the nearby washing machine to clean clothes. Wet laundry is hung outside to dry or under a heat lamp in the bathroom. The different approach is also apparent in the layout of Mr. Kimura's home, which at 1,188 square feet is about the average size of a house in Japan but only about half as big as the average American one. The rooms are also small, making them easier to heat or cool. The largest is the living room, which is about the size of an American bedroom.

During winter, the entire family, including the miniature dachshund, gathers here, which is often the only room heated. Like most Japanese homes, Mr. Kimura's does not have central heating. The hallways, stairwell and bathrooms are left cold. The three bedrooms have wall-mounted heaters, which are used only when the rooms are occupied, and switched off at night.

The living room is kept toasty by hot water running through pipes under the floor. Mr. Kimura says such ambient heat saves money. He says the energy bill for his home is about 20,000 yen ($168) a month. Central heating alone would easily double or triple his energy bill, he says. "Central heating is just too extravagant," says Mr. Kimura, who is solidly middle class.

The government has tried to foster a culture of conservation with regular campaigns like this winter's Warm Biz, a call to businesspeople to don sweaters and long johns under their gray suits so that office thermostats could be set lower.

So there you have it: the Green party line presenting poverty as technologically advanced, as the wave of the future, and as morally virtuous. We can supposedly all look forward to the day when we will be as advanced as the Japanese and energy will cost us twice as much as it now does. When we too will be unable to afford central heating and will have to live in houses half their present size. When we will have to gather our entire family into the one heated room in the house. When we will have to follow one another into the same bathwater, and then use that bathwater to wash our clothes, which we will have to dry outdoors, as our great-grandparents did. When we will have to wear long underwear and sweaters to keep warm indoors. What a glorious, green future! What green slime The Times pours on the readers of its alleged news reports.


What Kind of Global Warming Skeptic?

Post lifted from Arnold Kling

'Jane Galt' writes:

As I read it, the Stern Report basically assumes that there are low diminishing returns to income (it sets the elasticity of marginal utility of consumption, or η, to 1). It strikes me as odd to see the left half of the blogosphere supporting this proposition; I'm fairly sure that John Quiggin, who is a social democrat, thinks it is higher than that.

Once again, I feel the urge to try to get rid of the jargon and the Greek letters and explain what's going on. If person A has $1 million in wealth and person B has $10,000 in total wealth, and you can increase "total" wealth by doing something that takes $10 from B (the poor chap) and giving $11 to A (the rich guy), should you do so?

The position of someone on the Left would ordinarily be, "No." But when it comes to the issue of how much environmental damage we should leave it for our wealthy descendants to clean up, the Stern report is saying "Yes, increase total wealth." See my earlier post. And many on the Left are cheering them on.

My worst fear is that instead of using restructuring the economy as a means to fight global warming, the left aims to use the global warming issue as a means to restructure the economy. The rush to defend the Stern report's discounting approach, at what seems to me a huge cost of overall intellectual inconsistency, serves to reinforce this fear.

'Jane Galt' does seek to distance herself from me on the issue of global warming skepticism.

I got into this defending Arnold Kling from scurrilous charges of hackery. I was not, as my opponents mistakenly assumed, defending him because we agree on Global Warming. we do not. I think global warming is happening...

"Global warming is happening" is too broad a statement. There are a number of propositions that one might buy into.

1. Average global temperatures in the past decade are higher than for any other ten-year period since 1900.

2. Climate models explain this rise.

3. The cause of the rise is CO2.

4. Temperatures will rise further in the coming decades.

5. Given the consequences predicted, we need to reduce CO2 emissions, even at a very high cost of lower economic growth.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it is sufficient to spell out where I am a skeptic and where I am not. I am not a skeptic about the temperature data. I am a skeptic about climate models, because of the nature of the statistical problem (too many potential model specifications, too little data, too much trouble coming up with an appropriate way to time-aggregate the data), and because of the frequent use of the word "calibrated" as in "the models have been calibrated to fit historical climate data." (The Stern report used the c-word.) I am allergic to the word "calibrated." Whenever I see a paper in the American Economic Review that uses a "calibrated" model, my instinct is to skip it.

It troubles me that in order to connect CO2 to global warming, you pretty much need the models. If you just fit a simple bivariate model using CO2 and global average temperature, you would not be particularly confident that you had found a stable, well-fitting relationship. The climate modelers reassure themselves that when they add more subtle features they are getting better fits. That does not do as much for me as it does for them.

I think that if CO2 is a main causal variable, then we will see temperature increases going forward. Even if something else is the cause, that something else may be tending upward. So, suppose we had to bet on whether average global temps in 2010-2019 will be higher or lower than 2001-2009. I think if you gave me even odds, I'd bet on an increase. Maybe if you gave me 3 to 1 (I win $3 if I bet against a temperature rise and I win, I lose $1 if I lose), I'd bet against an increase. Hard to say.

Where I really get off the train, however, is at point 5--drastically reducing emissions at a high cost of economic growth. My slogan would be "Backwardness kills." I think that people in Bangladesh (or New Orleans, for that matter) are at least as threatened by economic and political backwardness as they are by coastal flooding.


Germany's conservative-led coalition government is poised for a U-turn on a national commitment to phase out nuclear power within the next two decades. The reconsideration has come in the light of energy scares, most recently the ongoing disruption of oil supplies to Europe's largest economy caused by the dispute between Russia and Belarus. The socialist-Greens administration of Gerhard Schroeder took the decision seven years ago to shut down Germany's nuclear plants under pressure from environmentalists. Now that policy is seen as too narrow and restrictive in an economy heavily reliant on energy imports. As senior Belarusian officials arrived in Moscow yesterday for crisis talks with Russia regarding the oil row, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, stressed the need for diversifying energy resources. "We must think about the consequences of shutting down nuclear power plants," Mrs Merkel said on Tuesday in an interview with Germany's public broadcaster, ARD. Insiders at her cabinet say that a public renunciation of the go-green policy may come within weeks.

According to Mrs Merkel the latest incident regarding the transit of Russian oil supplies through Belarus demonstrated "that we need a comprehensive, balanced energy mix in Germany". Mrs Merkel did not directly criticise Moscow but said Berlin would engage in "intensive discussions" about the energy issue. Mrs Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), have been divided over nuclear power. While conservatives near Mrs Merkel have repeatedly demanded that Germany slash a scheduled nuclear energy phase-out, the SPD remains in favour of the plan to close nuclear power plants. "Those who use oil shortages in order to propagate nuclear energy are not capable of intellectually comprehending the topic of energy supplies," said Ulrich Kelber, the deputy president of the SPD parliamentary bloc. Members of the opposition Greens also protested the idea of making changes to the nuclear phase-out. "With uranium, you can neither heat your homes nor fuel your cars," said Juergen Trittin, a Greens politician.

But industry wants nuclear power to stay and, in the world's third largest economy, the views of big business carry weight. Meanwhile, Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, intervened last night to try and restart the flow of oil supplies to Europe as his country's energy row with Belarus over the Druzhba "Friendship" pipeline deepened. Until now, president Putin has distanced himself from the row in the hope it could be solved at official level. Russia said Belarus had taken oil from the pipeline to secure payment in kind for a transit tariff imposed last week. Russia had earlier slapped an oil export duty on Belarus to staunch annual losses of up to $4 billion it says it was suffering because Belarus has been refining duty-free oil at a steep profit, in violation of their customs union. Yesterday, Mr Putin told his government "to discuss with Russian companies the possibility of reducing oil output in connection with the problems arising from transit through Belarus".


Beijing talks tough to home-grown polluters

Thank goodness! They've got REAL pollution to deal with

The biggest industrial polluters in China have been ordered to halt all new projects in an effort to force them to take immediate action to meet environmental standards. The companies include four of China's six biggest energy groups, with strong links to some of the most powerful Communist Party leaders. The order follows China's failure to meet its targets for saving energy and controlling pollution for last year, a failure that the Government has admitted.

Energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product rose by 0.8 per cent in the first half of last year. China's environmental record has been severely criticised by signatories of the Kyoto Protocol on emissions. The country is the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the United States.

Now China's environmental watchdog has launched an unprecedented crackdown. In addition to imposing strict controls on the power industry, the State Environmental Protection Agency has suspended approval for all new projects in four industrial cities. The four hit are Tangshan in the northern Hebei province, Luliang in the coal-rich Shanxi province, Liupanshui in the impoverished southern Guizhou and Laiwu in the northern Shandong province. The agency accused the cities of causing serious pollution and said that they had approved projects that violated environmental laws.

Pan Yue, the agency's deputy head, has become one of the most outspoken members of China's traditionally secretive government. He said that he remained committed to enforcing measures that would improve the country's environmental record, despite the pressure being brought to bear to curtail the powers of his agency. Mr Pan said: "We have moved step by step, but it's difficult. Nevertheless we are determined. And as for my own personal gains and losses, I gave up thinking about that a long time ago." Mr Pan singled out Tangshan - near Beijing - for building more than 70 steel plants of which 80 per cent lacked mandatory environmental assessments. He pulled no punches in criticising city leaders. "Some local authorities and industries have defied the Government's macro-regulation policy and pursued their own interests by blindly and illegally developing high-energy-use and high-pollution sectors," he said.

After years of promoting economic growth at any cost, Beijing is still struggling to change the attitudes of local officials despite a range of new policies that tie the career prospects of civil servants to their energy- saving achievements. Experts said China needed to move away from its traditional communist-style top-down management approach since these results showed officials would not respond to edicts.

Local governments, however, see little incentive to fall into line with Beijing's goal of what it calls a "green GDP" since officials are usually appraised on the economic performance of the regions for which they are responsible. And it was far from clear that Mr Pan would succeed in the administration's third attempt in as many years to exercise some authority over powerful regional governments withe powerful incentives to ignore the rules.



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, January 12, 2007


Excerpt from: GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 34, 4 January 2007

On the decadal rates of sea level change during the twentieth century

By S. J. Holgate


Nine long and nearly continuous sea level records were chosen from around the world to explore rates of change in sea level for 1904-2003. These records were found to capture the variability found in a larger number of stations over the last half century studied previously. Extending the sea level record back over the entire century suggests that the high variability in the rates of sea level change observed over the past 20 years were not particularly unusual. The rate of sea level change was found to be larger in the early part of last century (2.03 ~ 0.35 mm/yr 1904-1953), in comparison with the latter part (1.45 ~ 0.34 mm/yr 1954-2003). The highest decadal rate of rise occurred in the decade centred on 1980 (5.31 mm/yr) with the lowest rate of rise occurring in the decade centred on 1964 (1.49 mm/yr). Over the entire century the mean rate of change was 1.74 ~ 0.16 mm/yr.

1. Introduction

In a previous paper, Holgate and Woodworth [2004] (hereinafter referred to as HW04), rates of mean 'global' sea level change (i.e., global coastal sea level change) were calculated from a large number of tide gauge records (177) for the period 1955-1998. HW04 found that the highest and lowest rates of change in the 1955-1998 period occurred in the last 20 years of the record. In this paper it is examined whether a few high quality tide gauge records can replace the many used by HW04. On the basis of these high quality records the work of HW04 is then extended back to the early twentieth century to examine whether the rates of sea level change experienced in recent decades are unusual.

On a decadal timescale, the length scales of sea level change are very large (O(1000) km) though not necessarily global. As a result, many tide gauges in a given region are highly correlated with each other. This paper demonstrates that a few high quality records from around the world can be used to examine large spatial-scale decadal variability as well as many gauges from each region are able to.


4. Discussion

The nine stations selected here as high quality records capture the mean decadal rates of change described by the larger set of stations used in HW04 and also have a similar global mean rate over the common period of the two analyses (1953-1997). This provides confidence that the nine station set can be used to study decadal rates of global mean sea level change throughout the twentieth century. [18] All the stations in this study show a significant increase in sea level over the period 1904-2003 with an average increase of 174 mm during that time (Figure 4). This mean rate of 1.74 mm/yr is at the upper end of the range of estimates for the 20th century in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Third Assessment Report (IPCC TAR) [Church et al., 2001], and consistent with other recent estimates [Holgate and Woodworth, 2004; Church and White, 2006].

The rates for individual stations are consistent with those published by other authors [Douglas, 2001; Peltier, 2001; Hannah, 1990]. As has been noted previously [Woodworth, 1990], the rates for northern European tide gauges are consistently lower than the global mean. Trieste, along with other Mediterranean tide gauge stations, has shown a much lower rate of increase since 1960 [Douglas, 1997; Tsimplis and Baker, 2000]. However, the difference between the global mean and Trieste is 0.49 in comparison with the difference between the global mean and New York (the highest individual rate) which is 0.62. It would therefore seem that Trieste no more biases the mean low than New York biases the mean high. Nevertheless, excluding Trieste from the results would slightly increase the global mean from 1.74 to 1.80 mm/yr.

Although the mean rate of change of global mean sea level is found to be greater in the first half of the twentieth century, the two rates are consistent with being the same at the 95% confidence level, given their individual standard errors. However, a greater rate of rise in the early part of the record is consistent with previous analyses of tide gauge records which suggested a general deceleration in sea level rise during the 20th century [Woodworth, 1990; Douglas, 1992; Jevrejeva et al., 2006]. A twentieth century deceleration is consistent with the work of Church and White [2006] who, although finding evidence for a post-1870 acceleration based on an EOF reconstruction of global sea level, found that much of the overall acceleration occurred in the first half of the 20th century. Church and White [2006] suggested that the greater rate of sea level rise observed in the first half of last century was due to reduced volcanic emissions (and hence also lower variability in sea level) during the 1930s to 1960s. This idea is supported by results from the HadCM3 model which suggest that the simulated global mean sea level did not accelerate through the twentieth century due to the offsetting of anthropogenic warming by reduced natural forcing [Gregory et al., 2006].

The decadal rates of sea level change shown in Figure 2 are qualitatively similar to the corresponding rates in Figure 2 of Church and White [2006], with the exception of the period 1930-1940 which shows lower variability in the work of Church and White [2006]. The variability in the second half of the century is also similar to that found by 5.

Summary and Conclusions

Based on a selection of nine long, high quality tide gauge records, the mean rate of sea level rise over the period 1904-2003 was found to be 1.74 ¤ 0.16 mm/yr after correction for GIA using the ICE-4G model [Peltier, 2001] and for inverse barometer effects using HadSLP2 [Allan and Ansell, 2006]. The mean rate of rise was greater in the first half of this period than the latter half, though the difference in rates was not found to be significant. The use of a reduced number of high quality sea level records was found to be as suitable in this type of analysis as using a larger number of regionally averaged gauges.

Finally, in extending the work of HW04 to cover the whole century, it is found that the high decadal rates of change in global mean sea level observed during the last 20 years of the record were not particularly unusual in the longer term context.



The Bush administration yesterday moved to boost U.S. oil and gas supplies by lifting a long-standing moratorium on drilling in Alaska's Bristol Bay, as OPEC accelerated plans to reduce supplies in order to prop up sagging crude prices.

Days before the House is expected to roll back oil industry tax breaks, the Bush administration also decided to boost royalty rates by a third for ultra-deep-water oil and gas drilling. The action eliminates extra incentives that had been given to offset some of the high costs of operating in those offshore areas. The Interior Department said the change would generate an additional $4.5 billion over 20 years.

Meanwhile, as the line between environmental and energy policy continue to blur, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) announced a plan yesterday that would boost alternative fuels by requiring a 10 percent cut in the carbon content of vehicle emissions by 2020. He said it would be good for the nation's energy security while slowing climate change.

In Washington, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced that the administration would open 5.6 million acres in Alaska's North Aleutian Basin for oil and gas development. Congress first barred drilling in Bristol Bay in 1989 after the huge Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill damaged Alaska's coast. Congress lifted the ban in 2003 at the urging of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). But a moratorium President Bill Clinton declared on drilling in the area in 1998 remained in effect, so it took Bush's action yesterday to open it to development. Bush also lifted a presidential moratorium on part of the Gulf of Mexico that Congress opened for drilling in December.

Kempthorne said the offshore drilling in both areas and the increase in royalty fees would "enhance America's energy security by improving opportunities for domestic energy production, and will also increase the revenues that the federal government collects from oil and gas companies on behalf of American taxpayers."

Bob Greco, group director of upstream and industry operations at the American Petroleum Institute, said that "increasing access to those resources is an important step toward meeting our growing energy demand." But he said that goal would be offset in part by the increase in royalty payments, which he said would undercut industry's enthusiasm for drilling in deep waters off U.S. coasts, where a single well can cost $100 million. Higher royalties could also result in lower bids for leases in deep water, Greco said. "President Bush's decision to lift this moratorium is welcome news for people who live and work in the Bristol Bay region," Stevens said in a written statement. "Imported farmed salmon, high energy costs, and the area's remoteness have limited economic development and contributed to high poverty in the region."

Other Alaskans decried the decision, saying development would bring in less than $8 billion once all the energy was tapped while undermining a fishing industry that brings in $2 billion a year. "This decision borders on irresponsible, from our perspective," said Eric J. Siy, executive director of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council. The bay has the world's biggest wild sockeye salmon run as well as abundant red king crab, Pacific halibut and Bering Sea pollock and cod fisheries, he said. "The wise thing to do is to invest in the health of that sustainable economy."....

More here

California: "Ignorance is Strength" in Shift to Green Power

By Wayne Lusvardi

"Ignorance is strength" - slogan in novel 1984 by George Orwell

Van Nuys State Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D- CA) is reported to want to raise the bar on the percentage of green power that California cities and public utilities must purchase from 20% to 33%. However, it is well-documented that cities are not prepared to make even the lower requirement by 2010 (see here).

Levine wants 33% "renewable" energy by 2020. His Assembly Bill 94 would additionally apply to power supplies for PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric (SEMPRA) (See AB 94).

One of the pitfalls with legislative tinkering with energy and environmental pollution has been calamitous unintended consequences. Witness the disastrous results our our trying meet Federal air quality mandates which required the mothballing of old, polluting power plants and resulted in the California Energy Crisis of 2001. Witness the pollution of our water basins with the fuel additive MTBE starting in the 1980's to reduce emissions from automobiles. And witness the drop in hydropower generation during the energy crisis of 2001 possibly due to the mandate to destroy dams to restore salmon runs.

We have a tendency to forget that several people died in traffic accidents and other tragedies related to blackouts during the 2001 electricity crisis, let alone the public utilities, water agencies, and college campuses that were financially stressed due to the spike in energy prices. Recently enacted AB 32 and SB 1368 require that cities purchase 20% of their electricity from green power sources (solar, wind, geothermal, etc.). These pieces of legislation will result in an inevitable increase in electricity rates in affected California cities, the prospect of electricity blackouts, and may still require redundant conventional power due to the unreliability of green power (solar, wind). How does such risky "environmental" legislation even pass the environmental impact review process?

We haven't even learned what unanticipated consequences might befall us from this mandated shift, let alone an even greater shift to green power proposed under AB 94. No mention is made in Assemblyman Levine's grandstanding press release as to the impacts this will have on vulnerable populations such as the elderly and low income people, as well as the many disenfranchised immigrants in his own political District.

For those who haven't caught on, AB 32, SB 1368 and the proposed AB 94 are tanatmount to a partial state takeover of city-run utilities and an intrusion on home rule. The message in these pieces of legislation is that higher levels of government with superior knowledge know what is best for lower levels of government. Historically this has been recipe for local policy disasters.

Most political decisions must be made on the basis of inadequate knowledge. To understand this makes one approach public policies that exact high human costs very gingerly. Sociologist Peter L. Berger calls this the "postulate of ignorance." Berger's postulate of ignorance also sensitizes us to what he calls the "calculus of pain."

It additionally sensitizes us to the fact that the lowest levels of government closest to the people they serve are best attuned to make such decisions. Every human being knows their own economic and social world better than any level of government. And lower levels of government know it better than higher levels. But the new Green Power legislation has usurped this governmental principle of delegation. As Berger has aptly written:

"Policies for social change are typically made by cliques of politicians and intellectuals with claims to superior (environmental) insights. These claims are typically spurious. It is presupposed that policy should seek to avoid the infliction of pain. It is further presupposed that, in those cases where policy does involve either the active infliction of pain or the passive acceptance of pain (such as higher utility rates and the risk of blackouts), this fact requires a justification in terms of moral rather than technical necessity."

Environmentalists are quick to claim the moral high ground with the necessity to reduce global warming. But there is no public policy currently being considered by any level of government in California or elsewhere that would have a measurable impact on carbon dioxide (C02) levels and thus in climate either in the short or long run.

As pointed out by Dr. Roy Cordato and other scientists, the claims by California Senator Barbara Boxer that carbon dioxide (C02) kills 2,000 people per year lacks even the rudimentary understanding of photosynthesis and may be confused with deaths from carbon monoxide. See here. And asthma and other respiratory maladies have continued to increase despite a 70% or more decrease in air pollutants in the past few decades. See here

AB 32, SB 1368 and proposed AB 94 are targeted at cutting off the dependence of the City of Los Angeles and other cities in Southern California on imported "dirty coal" power from the Intermountain Power Plant in Utah. But according to the State of Utah Department of Environmental Quality: "The Intermountain Plant will meet all primary and secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The IPP will also meet Class I increments in the National Parks in southern Utah and Class II PSD increments in the vicinity of the plant" (see here). The power plant's 710 foot stack removes 99.75 percent of all the particulates that would have gone into the atmosphere in an earlier day (see here). Additionally, the Intermountain Plant is one of the five lowest plants in sulfur oxide (S02) emissions in the U.S. according to the First Annual Top Plants Survey conducted by Power magazine in August 2002. The solution to pollution is often dilution. The pollutants from the Intermountain Plant are dissipated over thousands of miles of cubic air space.

The apparent concern about the Intermountain Power Plant is thus not health impacts, but wealth and aesthetic impacts on the tourist economy in Utah due to the haze around Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Zion, Canyonlands and Arches national parks (see here).

While the benefits of Green Power are at best speculative the expected human pain and monetary costs are more certain. Lacking technical and medical necessity, where are the moral grounds for such radical and costly measures that will likely impact the most vulnerable in our society and communities? On what grounds, technical or moral, does Assemblyman Levine propose to expand this already risky, unproven, and speculative, but highly populist legislation?



Tony Blair today wades into the growing controversy over how individuals can help to tackle global warming by declaring that he has no intention of abandoning long-haul holiday flights to reduce his carbon footprint. Days after his environment minister branded Ryanair the "irresponsible face of capitalism" for opposing an EU carbon emissions scheme, the prime minister says it is impractical to expect people to make personal sacrifices by taking holidays closer to home. "I personally think these things are a bit impractical actually to expect people to do that," Mr Blair says in an interview.

The prime minister, who recently had a family holiday in Miami, adds that it would be wrong to impose "unrealistic targets" on travellers. "You know, I'm still waiting for the first politician who's actually running for office who's going to come out and say it - and they're not," Mr Blair says. "It's like telling people you shouldn't drive anywhere."

His remarks contrast with the tone set by Ian Pearson, the environment minister, who last week used strong language to criticise Ryanair for opposing the European commission's plan to include all flights within Europe in the EU carbon trading scheme from 2011. Mr Blair's remarks are also at odds with the declaration last month by the Prince of Wales that he would cut back on domestic and international flights.

David Cameron, the Tory leader, believes he has stolen a march on the government by emphasising green issues and his own credentials - installing a wind turbine on his new house.

The prime minister says: "I think that what we need to do is to look at how you make air travel more energy efficient, how you develop the new fuels that will allow us to burn less energy and emit less. How - for example - in the new frames for the aircraft, they are far more energy efficient."

Downing Street was irritated last night that the interview, with Sky News, was quickly interpreted as a snub to attempts to reduce people's carbon footprints. "This is not about the prime minister's travel," a source said. The prime minister's spokesman said that Mr Blair offset all his official travel, though No 10 refused to say whether he did this on personal flights. He added: "All government activity will be carbon neutral by 2015 and the prime minister has taken the lead in this."

Mr Blair says in his interview that he is taking a difficult decision on whether to replace Britain's nuclear energy capacity. In his Labour conference speech last year the prime minister mocked Mr Cameron for adopting a "multiple choice" approach by saying he would only endorse nuclear power as a last resort.

Mr Blair's message in the interview is that everyone needs to work together, but imposing strict rules would only backfire. "Britain is 2% of the world's emissions. We shut down all of Britain's emissions tomorrow - the growth in China will make up the difference within two years. "So we've got to be realistic about how much obligation we've got to put on ourselves. The danger, for example, if you say to people 'Right, in Britain ... you're not going to have any more cheap air travel,' everybody else is going to be having it. So you've got to do this together in a way that doesn't end up actually putting people off the green agenda by saying you must not have a good time any more and can't consume. All the evidence is that if you use the science and technology constructively, your economy can grow, people can have a good time, but do so more responsibly."

Emily Armistead, of Greenpeace, said: "Tony Blair is crossing his fingers and hoping someone will invent aeroplanes that don't cause climate change. But that's like holding out for cigarettes that don't cause cancer. Hoping for the best isn't a policy, it's a delusion." Mike Childs, of Friends of the Earth, said: "It's disappointing that Tony Blair is refusing to set an example on tackling climate change, but it is even more disappointing that his government is failing to take decisive action to cut UK emissions."



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Sweden 'a climate change winner'

But they are still trying to put a gloomy face on it

Sweden would be one of the winners from climate change, with bigger crop yields and fewer deaths from cold, according to a new report from the European Commission. Crop yields in northern Europe would rise by up to 70 percent by 2071 if average European temperatures were to rise by 2.2 percent, giving a boost to Sweden's farming industry, according to the Financial Times, which has seen the report.

In Mediterranean countries, however, there would be more droughts and fires and agricultural land would become less fertile. "Plants and animals associated with certain geographical regions are already moving or dying," the FT quotes the report as saying. All countries would suffer from the negative effects of climate change. Sea levels could rise by up to a metre, threatening many parts of Sweden. More acidic oceans would hit fish stocks.

The report, based on material from the Commission's Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security, is due to be published next week. In it, the authors call for a drastic reduction in carbon emissions, but conclude that this would only cost 0.19 percent of the EU's gross domestic product.



To retain leadership in the battle to curb climate change, the European Union believes it must show the rest of the world how to stop a predicted ecological catastrophe, while maintaining a healthy environment for business. But that lofty goal -- the promise of green growth -- looks somewhat different from the factory floor, according to Michel Wurth, president of Arcelor Mittal France. Arcelor Mittal, the world's largest steel company with 135,000 workers in Europe, is among several companies that are sending out distress signals two years after the EU began capping carbon dioxide emissions from 10,000 factories and power plants.

Tougher EU policies to cap emissions "could threaten two of our plants" because they would significantly raise costs, Wurth said during a recent interview. Instead of battling pollution, he argued, the measures were encouraging "less production in Europe and more imports from places with fewer environmental regulations" -- a result that Wurth deemed "absolutely ridiculous."

Industrialists like Wurth are not the only ones questioning why they should shoulder the cost of creating a low-carbon economy at a time when most of the rest of the world pollutes with far fewer constraints. As the EU introduces a far-reaching energy plan Wednesday that will spread the burden of combating global warming even more widely, a fierce debate is unfolding about whether industry and the European economy can afford higher commitments to pollution-reduction targets, and whether Europe should make unilateral commitments, while large polluters from the United States to China are taking smaller strides.

"We need to demonstrate environmental leadership, but there is no point in doing so if we have no followers -- especially if this comes at significant cost to the EU economy," Guenter Verheugen, the EU industry commissioner, wrote to Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, in November. "Our growth and jobs priority must not be endangered," Verheugen said.

For now, the EU is standing firm. Its so-called Emissions Trading Scheme -- in which companies like Arcelor Mittal and producers of power, cement, pulp and paper limit their carbon emissions by trading credits -- is the largest system of its kind and the main tool used by Europe to reach goals outlined under the Kyoto Protocol.

In the volley of proposals to be announced Wednesday, the EU will go further, calling for a "new industrial revolution" to make additional reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, increase Europe's sources of renewable energy and raise competition among the largest energy producers....

Officials in the Union are seeking to avoid a showdown with national governments over the controversial issue of promoting nuclear energy by leaving it to capitals to decide whether to produce nuclear power. Even so, the text on Wednesday is expected to say that reducing nuclear power would make it more difficult to cut Europe's carbon output.

The knottiest immediate debate is emissions targets, which the EU is expected to set out as far out as 2050. Some industries fear that a recommendation by the EU's environment commissioner, Stavros Dimas, to cut emissions to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 as a way keeping temperatures no more than 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels, will squeeze them out of business.

The world's biggest polluter, the United States, refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, so its businesses generally do not face similar targets. Australia also has rejected the accord, while China and India have resisted mandatory cutbacks.

Verheugen, the EU industry commissioner, favors a less-stringent target, and has recommended setting them closer to 15 percent below 1990 levels in order to safeguard European competitiveness.

On Wednesday, EU officials could set the bar at a compromise level of about 20 percent by 2020 and suggest far more ambitious targets of 35 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050, according to a draft of the EU report on energy policy.

For some European industries like air travel, the main concern is that competitors with less business in Europe will face lower costs. Lufthansa, the German airline, complains that capping the emissions of carriers using EU airports "puts Europe's aviation industry to a severe disadvantage in global competition."

For other industries, the main concern is the higher cost of electricity, which was exacerbated by the introduction of emissions trading. The Norwegian company Hydro has closed two aluminum units in Germany since 2005 because of high power costs, in part citing tough environmental laws in Europe. A Norsk Hydro spokesman, Thomas Knutzen, said his industry would make new investments mainly in countries that "do not have obligations to reduce their CO2 emissions through Kyoto."



The European Union will sabotage its aim of getting developed nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions sharply if it sets a lower target for itself than it seeks for the rest of the world, Greenpeace said on Tuesday.

The European Commission, in a new set of energy and environmental policy measures, is expected to propose on Wednesday that developed nations cut emissions of gases, blamed for global warming, by 30 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels. At the same time, the Commission will propose the 27-nation EU set a target of reducing its own greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent in the period, with the possibility of increasing that goal if the international community agrees to a broader cut.

Environmental group Greenpeace said an EU goal of a 20 percent cut would undermine the chance of a larger target on the world stage. "We think that this is a political and scientific blunder," said Mahi Sideridou, climate policy director at Greenpeace in Brussels, adding the 20 percent target resulted from political bargaining rather than climate change science. "They are fiddling while the planet is burning," she said.

The EU, which played a key role in bringing the Kyoto Protocol into force, has struggled to reconcile its role as a leader in the fight against climate change with its effort to boost the competitiveness of its own members.



The Dutch government contributes to maintaining two very polluting chemical factories in China. The factories produce cooling agents in a process during which a gas is released which is 11.700 as powerful as CO2 and which also affects the ozone layer. The Netherlands pay the factories, together with Italy and Spain, 775 million euros until 2012, as was agreed upon last year. The Dutch contribution is 69 million.

The Chinese factories get their money as a reward for making their production process more environmentally friendly. This way the Dutch government wants to help China to reduce environmental pollution. Furthermore, it helps the Netherlands to meet their Kyoto-protocol goals, the international agreements to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. The transaction with the two Chinese chemical factories are the largest environmental deals ever.

'It is scandalous the Netherlands is involved in this' says Lucas Reijnders, professor in environmental studies. The environmental organizations are of the opinion that the Netherlands rewards the polluting industries too much this way. 'This is a perverse incentive', says Steve Sawyer of Greenpeace International. 'Such transactions are so profitable for China that it is worthwhile for the country to establish new polluting factories.'

'These transactions conflict with previous environmental agreements', says Donals Pols of "Millieudefensie" (Environment defense). In 1987, rich and poor countries already had agreed that the so-called soft CFC's produced in factories should be banned. But according to Pols the Chinese factories stay in business unnecessarily long by the Dutch Money. China is rich enough to quit producing this cooling agent and to change to less damaging, but more expensive alternatives, according to Reijnders. 'Western countries should pressure China.'

A spokeswoman of the department of environmental affairs (VROM) recognizes the danger of a perverse incentive for the Chinese factories. However, according to her this is not the case here. 'This is not about new, but about existing factories. According to international agreements these factories have to close down only far beyond 2012'. The Chinese factories thus cannot be forced to close down and to use other cooling agents other than soft CFC's. 'But we are very alert on not closing deals with factories that recently have been built.'

To meet to the Kyoto demands western companies and governments can also pay foreign polluting industries to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases. The Dutch contribution in the contribution of a total of 775 million euro is, according to the VROM department, 69 million euro. With it the government obtains a CO2 emission reduction of 16 million tons. This amount equals the emission of four million cars, each with a mileage of 20 thousand kilometers. In total the Dutch government pays foreign companies 450 million euros until 2012 for cleaner production processes.

De Volkskrant, 4 January 2007 (in Dutch).


While China is turning its environmental problems into a shrewdly managed financial asset -- managing carbon credits -- critics worry that some projects Beijing is encouraging are siphoning Western carbon-market investment away from the kind of emission-reduction projects the burgeoning global "carbon market" was designed to encourage: those that generate energy more cleanly, such as natural-gas-fired power plants and wind turbines.

China, the world's No. 2 emitter of greenhouse gases behind the U.S., has also become the biggest source of developing-world carbon credits bought by Western investors, benefiting both Chinese corporations and Chinese government tax receipts, especially since China has mandated that only companies with a majority Chinese ownership can own projects generating carbon credits, and Beijing is effectively imposing minimum prices for its carbon credits. The World Bank, a major player in the global carbon-credits market, estimates the market was worth $21.5 billion in the first three quarters of 2006, about double its value in all of 2005.

But investors are showing a preference for deals to destroy a greenhouse gas called HFC-23 that scientists say is thousands of times more potent than CO2 and that is a byproduct of the manufacture of a common refrigerant, HCFC-22. Investors prefer them because the gas's potency compared with CO2 and the relatively low cost of installing the machinery that destroys it mean the projects spin off massive numbers of carbon credits at rock-bottom prices. In fact, selling the credits from HFC-23-destruction projects typically generates more profit than selling the actual refrigerant. As a result, regulators worry that the carbon market is encouraging companies in the developing world to make more of the underlying refrigerant than they otherwise would -- so they can produce more of the global-warming gas, destroy it, and sell the credits.

The Wall Street Journal, 8 January 2007


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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007


A warning to all about the Greenie enthusiasm for buses and trains. Even semi-privatization has not helped

I always swore not to write one of these grumpy holiday-return pieces. I am aware that plenty of my fellow citizens don't even get a week's respite from slum-Britannia, and to them I apologise. But this sense of reduced citizenship is not confined to travellers, so maybe it is worth recording what the sharpened senses perceive.

The most striking thing, obviously, is public transport. Under a Government that repeatedly nags us to get out of our cars, and that has failed to reverse its predecessor's disastrous privatisation, too much train travel is physically and psychologically nasty. Mainline fares have just risen by between 4.3 per cent and 7 per cent. Last year's rises were between 3.7 and 8.8 per cent. In return we get squalor (often) and insult (occasionally). After being wafted serenely 500 miles across Europe on fast, clean trains with smiling staff, our party crossed to Liverpool Street on a busy Saturday to find only one train an hour on the main line towards Ipswich and Norwich. Inconsiderately "scheduled" engineering works meant that at Colchester it was replaced by a bus.

The train, slow and grubby and without a ticket inspector to keep order, was packed with snoring lads belching and resting their feet on seats, their beer-cans rolling and leaking across the floor while quieter travellers resignedly tried to keep their children's feet out of the mess, or sat on their baggage by the door. At Colchester there were buses, but only one with a luggage hold; we did all right but my brother's family were ordered to put their heavy bags in one bus, then unload them all again because there were no seats, then switch to an ancient double-decker where cases were piled in the aisle, blocking any escape route. Which was a shame, since the vehicle then began leaking exhaust fumes into its lower deck as it bucketed down the A12, causing passengers to cough and gasp and one, recovering from a chest infection, to feel seriously ill. Through the fumes of carbon monoxide loomed a large sign announcing a fine of 1,000 pounds for smoking.

This tone of reprimand mingled with disregard, all too familiar to anyone who deals with British institutions, was continued when they stumbled out and reported the safety problems to the "duty supervisor". She snapped that it was nothing to do with her because the buses were subcontracted. The idea that her company had charged a full railway-comfort fare and provided a journey on a poisonous cramped bus seemed not to occur to her. Minutes later, coughing and struggling to load their car on an empty forecourt, they were accosted by the same official and vengefully told to move on.

Well, sometimes things go better. But that combination of official self-righteousness with contempt for the client-citizen is too familiar. Think of local authority decisions to collect the filthiest garbage only once a fortnight even in high summer, and soon charge by weight. Think what happens when you try to reduce that weight by telling the Royal Mail not to deliver sackfuls of unaddressed circulars: you get a threatening message telling you that if you opt out of double-glazing flyers you will miss "leaflets from Central and Local Government and other public bodies" because they refuse to separate these. So you won't know when your dustbin or surgery day changes.

And it'll be your fault. Everything is always your fault, in Britain. Never mind that your water company paid its directors huge bonuses rather than fix its pipes: the shortage is your fault for having baths. The theory behind Thatcherite privatisations was, I vaguely remember, that we would get better service if we were customers not sharers; in some cases it worked (it took the old GPO weeks to install a phone, and BT speeded things up). But in many cases - railways, airports, car parks, water, power, PFIs that overspend and put our children in hock for decades, NHS and Whitehall consultancies - the arrogance of state monopoly simply blends with the greediness of commerce to produce a hideous all-British hybrid in which the key principle is worship of its own systems and contempt for the public. John Major dimly saw this when he set up citizen's charters and cones hotlines; but the momentum was already too great.



The government's desire to extend the polluter pays principle to every sector of the economy took a bizarre new twist yesterday as UK farmers were urged to stop their flatulent livestock releasing methane into the atmosphere.

Speaking at the Oxford Farming Conference, environment secretary David Miliband warned that agriculture contributes seven percent of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions and a third of its methane - one of the most damaging climate change gases. As a result, he said, the polluter pays principle would soon be applied to farming in the way it is already being introduced to other industries. "That means greenhouse gases generated in producing food or in food miles carrying a price need to be recognised in the same way as greenhouse gases generated in other industries," he explained.

And in a veiled warning that legislation was on the agenda he confirmed the government "will look closely at how incentives within the food, energy and land markets can reflect environmental impact more closely".

While it is unlikely that this will result in a "fart-tax" with civil servants chasing cows round with breathalyzer style methane measurers, Miliband did argue that farmers should act to reduce methane emissions by feeding cattle different food, breeding them to live longer, altering the handling of manure and getting farms to generate "biogas" or "biofertiliser" from animal waste.

Extending the polluter pays principle to farming would likely lead to higher food prices, but Miliband insisted that climate change could provide an opportunity for farmers, as it has done in other sectors.



"I've never seen industry so deathly afraid of the current politics surrounding climate change policy," a Bush administration environmental official told me. With good reason. As Democrats take control of Congress, once firm opposition to the green lobby's campaign of imposing carbon emission controls is weak. Panicky captains of industry have themselves largely to blame for failing to respond to the environmentalists' well-financed propaganda operation. One government official says "industry appears utterly helpless and utterly clueless as to how to respond." But the Bush administration itself is a house divided, with support for greens and severe carbon regulation inside the Department of Energy rampant, reaching up to the secretary himself.

None of this necessarily means climate change will become law during the next two years, with President Bush wielding his veto pen if any bill escapes the Senate's gridlock. Rep. John Dingell of Detroit, reassuming chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee after a dozen years' absence, will try to protect the automotive industry from Draconian regulation. But over the long term, industry is losing to the greens.

The stakes are immense, as shown by the impact of the bill to implement the Kyoto proposal co-sponsored by Sen. John McCain, front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, the favorite Democrat of many Republicans. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates this measure would reduce gross domestic product by $776 billion, raise gasoline prices 40 cents a gallon, raise natural gas prices 46 percent and cut coal production by nearly 60 percent. Charles River Associates, business consultants, predicts it would kill 600,000 jobs. Yet, Jonathan Lash of the World Resources Institute last week said McCain-Lieberman does not go far enough in reducing carbon emissions. Green extremists would prefer the severe legislation proposed by Sen. Barbara Boxer, the new chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

According to industry sources, Dingell has privately advised auto industry lobbyists to prepare for the worst. House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi is making carbon emission legislation a priority, and Dingell has warned Detroit that she expects him to move a bill through his committee. He will do his best to modify legislation, but he is obliged to follow Pelosi's wishes and cannot play Horatio at the Bridge. The same dilemma faces Rep. Rick Boucher, a staunch ally of the coal industry who will become chairman of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on energy and air quality. He must balance Pelosi's desires with the interests of the coal counties in his Southwest Virginia district.

Staunch foes of carbon regulation remain in the administration, headed by Chairman James L. Connaughton of the Council on Environmental Quality. But the Energy Department's top executive strata have gone green. Since moving from deputy Treasury secretary to Energy secretary nearly two years ago, business executive and financier Samuel W. Bodman has kept a low profile. In a rare public utterance on global warning Oct. 5, 2005, he said an "increasing level of certainty" about global warming fueled by carbon dioxide "is real" and "a matter we take seriously." In private meetings, he has expressed dissatisfaction with administration policy. Bodman's under secretary, former Senate staffer David K. Garman, has shocked industry lobbyists with his criticism of the president's views.

In the background is a pending Supreme Court decision on what the Clean Air Act requires or permits the Environmental Protection Agency to do about greenhouse gas emissions. Even if the Court says the authority is merely discretionary, McCain or any Democratic president would then crack down on industry if nothing is passed before the 2008 election.

Ultimate salvation from U.S. self-destructive behavior may come from the real world. Most European Union countries, suffering higher energy costs and constraints on growth imposed by the Kyoto pact, cannot meet that treaty's emission level requirements. Furthermore, China is on pace to exceed U.S. emissions by 2010, meaning that unilateral U.S. carbon controls will have little impact on global emissions while driving American jobs to China.

This downside of Speaker Pelosi's green determination ought to resonate in union halls and coalfields of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. However, American industrialists, while wringing their hands, are not making their case.


Global cooling hits Australia's hottest town

As the rest of Australia sweltered through its 11th-warmest year on record, one famously hot town set a new mark for its coldest year. Maximum temperatures in the northwest West Australian town of Marble Bar came inalmost 3C below average lastyear. In its world-beating heatwave, from October 31, 1923, to April 7, 1924, the maximum temperature never dropped below 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8C). That record still stands. But last year, Marble Bar recorded an average maximum of 32.5C, well below its long-term annual norm of 35.3C.

The mining town made its mark while the rest of the country recorded an average temperature 0.47C above the 1961-1990 norm. Marble Bar's previous coolest year, in 92 years of records, was 1978 (33.5C). Perth meteorologist Glenn Cook said clouds, rain and cyclones in Marble Bar's hottest months had kept a lid on temperatures. Mr Cook said the town received falls of about 50mm in September, 30mm in October, 15mm in November and 10mm last month, a period when it normally had a total of 10mm. It registered 448mm in the rain gauge last year, well above the normal annual total of 311mm.

Len Lever, a Marble Bar resident for 37 years, said last winter felt cooler but summer was as hot as usual. Mr Lever, 69, said ex-cyclone Isobel brought only 3mm of rain. "It's nice now. It's cooled the country down for a while."



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Pretty soon, walking into the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be like entering Unfrozen Caveman Committee Chairman World. The new Democratic chairman of the powerful committee is Michigan's John Dingell, who's held his House seat since 1955. Unfortunately, some of Dingell's ideas are stuck in the 1950s as well -- most notably his thinking about global warming. While most Americans are looking for solutions to a problem that is threatening Florida's coast, is causing species to go extinct around the world, and is just plain causing a lot of wacky weather, Dingell says he's not even sure if it is a problem. "This country, this world, the [human] race, of which you and I are a part, is great at having consensuses that are in great error," he recently told Grist Magazine when asked about the issue. "And so I want to get the scientific facts, and find out what the situation is, and find out what is the cure."

That's a striking claim of ignorance for someone who's known around Capitol Hill for his spritely mind and his attention to detail. No, it's not likely ignorance or mental feebleness that's informing Dingell's ambivalence. Dingell's professed global warming myopia is actually more rooted in his decades-long slavishness to the auto industry. The automakers don't want to be required to build more fuel efficient engines. And so they've recycled the same arguments that they've used again and again to dissuade the government from requiring everything from seatbelts to catalytic converters: They can't afford to do it, or American engineers don't have the ingenuity to make it happen. Dingell has repeatedly given his congressional imprimatur to the industry's misleading claims. Meanwhile, foreign competitors have leapfrogged ahead of the Big Three automakers.

So why are the Democrats allowing Dingell, who's so obviously beholden to a special interest, the power to decide such an important issue? It's because under their current rules and leadership, they don't have much of a choice. Democrats continue to give out committee assignments on the basis of seniority, not competence or even how well a particular chairman represents the sentiments of the majority of the Democratic caucus. It's that system that has elevated other Unfrozen Cavemen like Jack Murtha to important posts, despite undistinguished and ethically questionable records.

Even in the one case this year where they passed over the most senior candidate in line for a position (Alcee Hastings, for his alleged corruption as a federal judge), Speaker Nancy Pelosi just went right down the seniority line to the next person, apparently not even stopping to inquire whether he was up to the job of protecting America from terrorists and other threats. She settled on Texas's Silvestre Reyes, who, in an interview, couldn't even answer the question of whether al-Qaida was Sunni or Shiite.

There is another way, though it's the Republicans who pioneered it. When they came into office in 1994, the Republicans did away with the seniority system, requiring committee chairmen to run for office, and instituting term limits.

Of course, the Republicans ended up abusing this system to the point where the only requirement for a committee chairmanship became loyalty. But in the early years, it meant that at least the Republican committee chairman represented the democratic will of their caucus, not just time spent in the Beltway.

Until the Democrats force committee chairmen into real elections for chairmanships, it's going to be Unfrozen Caveman World all over Capitol Hill.



Many people buy locally produced food in the belief that it will be better for the environment than food flown thousands of miles to supermarkets, but is that really true? The food will have certainly have travelled fewer miles. The farmers' market certification scheme run by the Farmers' Retail and Markets Association rules that produce must come from within a 30-mile radius of the market - or 50 miles for urban and coastal locations. That means the "food miles" are a fraction of the 2,000 miles travelled by Egyptian green beans or nearly 6,000 miles travelled by Chinese apples to reach Sainsbury's.

It is not only the food and the farmers that travel a smaller distance, so too the buyers. A study of an Edinburgh market reported that a high proportion of visitors lived within a two-mile radius, a "fair proportion" coming on foot.

But local may not necessarily mean greener. Supermarkets pack large amounts of food into a single lorry, while a farmer may carry only a small amount in a 4x4. A Defra report found that the supermarkets' centralised distrubution systems, with lean supply chains and fully laden lorries, could generate less pollution than a larger number of smaller vehicles travelling locally. It also found, for example, that it was better for the environment to import winter tomatoes from Spain than to grow them here in heated greenhouses.

However, farmers' markets can claim to be greener in other ways. Hardly any energy is used in processing the fruit and vegetables. "The carrots and potatoes still have mud on them; they are neither washed nor scrubbed," a spokeswoman for the association said. "There is no packaging involved and many shoppers bring plastic bags."

Produce does not have to be organic, but often is. Although the champions of organic agriculture often claim it is better for the environment, that is a subject of controversy. Norman Borlaug, the Nobel-prize winning "father of the green revolution" in farming, insists the idea that organic farming is better for the environment is "ridiculous" because it has lower yields, and so requires more land under cultivation.

However, the farmers' markets association remains convinced that local markets can withstand the criticism. "The markets educate people in eating seasonal produce, which would remove the need for any imports," the spokeswoman said.



There are a billion Muslims controlling huge areas of desert. So how come it took little Israel to come up with this? Jews wouldn't be smarter, would they? It is in any event a good reply to Greenie angst about resources and their illogical claim that global warming will induce desertification -- not to mention their totally fraudulent claim that ocean fish will die out soon

Fish farming in the desert may at first sound like an anomaly, but in Israel over the last decade a scientific hunch has turned into a bustling business. Scientists here say they realized they were on to something when they found that brackish water drilled from underground desert aquifers hundreds of feet deep could be used to raise warm-water fish. The geothermal water, less than one-tenth as saline as sea water, free of pollutants and a toasty 98 degrees on average, proved an ideal match.

"It was not simple to convince people that growing fish in the desert makes sense," said Samuel Appelbaum, a professor and fish biologist at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research at the Sede Boqer campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. "It is important to stop with the reputation that arid land is nonfertile, useless land," said Professor Appelbaum, who pioneered the concept of desert aquaculture in Israel in the late 1980s. "We should consider arid land where subsurface water exists as land that has great opportunities, especially in food production because of the low level of competition on the land itself and because it gives opportunities to its inhabitants."

The next step in this country, where water is scarce and expensive, was to show farmers that they could later use the water in which the fish are raised to irrigate their crops in a system called double usage. The organic waste produced by the cultured fish makes the water especially useful, because it acts as fertilizer for the crops. Fields watered by brackish water dot Israel's Negev and Arava Deserts in the south of the country, where they spread out like green blankets against a landscape of sand dunes and rocky outcrops. At Kibbutz Mashabbe Sade in the Negev, the recycled water from the fish ponds is used to irrigate acres of olive and jojoba groves. Elsewhere it is also used for irrigating date palms and alfalfa.

The chain of multiple users for the water is potentially a model that can be copied, especially in arid third world countries where farmers struggle to produce crops, and Israeli scientists have recently been peddling their ideas abroad. Dry lands cover about 40 percent of the planet, and the people who live on them are often among the poorest in the world. Scientists are working to share the desert aquaculture technology they fine-tuned here with Tanzania, India, Australia and China, among others. (Similar methods of fish farming are also being used in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona.)

"Each farm could run itself, which is important in the developing world," said Alon Tal, a leading Israeli environmental activist who recently organized a conference on desertification, with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and Ben-Gurion University, that brought policy makers and scientists from 30 countries to Israel. "A whole village could adopt such a system," Dr. Tal added.

At the conference, Gregoire de Kalbermatten, deputy secretary general of the antidesertification group at the United Nations, said, "We need to learn from the resilience of Israel in developing dry lands." Israel, long heralded for its agricultural success in the desert through innovative technologies like drip irrigation, has found ways to use low-quality water and what is considered terrible soil to grow produce like sweet cherry tomatoes, peppers, asparagus and melon, marketing much of it abroad to Europe, especially during winter.

"Most development is still driven by the Zionist ethos that the desert was some mistake of God that we have to correct and make the desert bloom," said Uriel Safriel, an ecology professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The history of fish-farming in nondesert areas here, mostly in the Galilee region near the sea, dates back to the late 1920s, before Israel was established as a state. At the time, the country was extremely poor and meat was considered a luxury. But fish was a cheap food source, so fish farms were set up on several kibbutzim in the Galilee.

The early Jewish farmers were mostly Eastern European, and, Professor Safriel said, "they only knew gefilte fish, so they grew carp." Eventually they expanded to other varieties of fish including tilapia, striped bass and mullet, as well as ornamental fish. The past decade has seen the establishment of about 15 fish farms producing both edible and ornamental fish in the Negev and Arava Deserts. Fish farming, meanwhile, has become more lucrative worldwide as people seek more fish in their diet for better health, and ocean fisheries increasingly are being depleted

More here

Global warming still a fear, not a fact

Comment from Australia

After more than 200 years, you would think that non-Aboriginal Australians would be used to the fact that the continent experiences great variability in its climate, oscillating between years of too much rain and years of too little. Yet each time we have one of these naturally occurring events, there have been calls for something to be done about the weather. And there have always been people prepared to make alarming predictions and offer simplistic solutions to phenomena that are still not completely understood by meteorologists and climatologists.

On the banks of the Warrego River in the western Queensland town of Charleville, there is a monument to this recurring foolishness. In an attempt to break the prolonged drought that began in the mid-1890s, the self-promoting Queensland meteorologist, Clement Wragge, used six funnel-like devices to fire shots of gunpowder into clouds to make them release their moisture. The experiment was an embarrassing failure. Two of the devices exploded and the remainder failed to produce any rain. It helped end Wragge's official career, although it did not end his career as a paid spruiker to credulous audiences wanting certainty from their climate.

Now, of course, every flood, drought or cyclone is seen through the prism of the continuing debate about global warming. And there are those prepared to play on people's fears with exaggerated and simplistic claims that demean the debate and the depth of scientific inquiry that is being conducted on the issue. Tim Flannery's article in Tuesday's Age provided a good example of this. To take just one point, it is nonsense to suggest, as Flannery did, that the present drought is the worst in 1000 years.

Whenever someone claims that a weather event is the worst since records began, it is important to remember that reliable climate records only go back for a century at best. And even after the establishment of the Bureau of Meteorology in 1908, the records remained very patchy, and periodically became even more so when cost-cutting governments forced the bureau to restrict its record-gathering activities. With a relatively brief climate record, it does not take much for a drought to be portrayed as the worst on record, or for a temperature to be described as the highest on record.

Even so, the evidence does not suggest that the present drought is even the worst in 100 years, let alone the worst in 1000 years. Moreover, even a bad drought will have less effect on Australians today than droughts have had in the past, when the economy was much more dependent on the farming sector and farmers were less able to ameliorate the effects of drought. Present projections suggest that the present drought will cause less than a 1 per cent decrease in Australia's GDP, whereas droughts in the 19th and early 20th centuries almost invariably triggered an economic depression as farm incomes collapsed.

After making his alarmist claim about the drought being the worst in 1000 years, Flannery leaps from one insupportable conclusion to another, with his claim that this supposedly "extraordinary drought" is a "manifestation of the global fingerprint of drought caused by climate change", and his implication that Australians need to prepare for a state of permanent drought. In fact, Australians would do better to prepare for the floods that will almost certainly follow this drought as they have done in the past.

As for the "global fingerprint of drought", whatever that means, droughts in Australia have often occurred in tandem with droughts elsewhere in the world. A century ago, such simultaneous drought events were blamed by Clement Wragge on the "inevitability of cosmic law", although meteorologists nowadays are more likely to ascribe the cause to cyclical changes in ocean temperatures.

Despite Flannery's claim to base his alarmist arguments on science and common sense, few scientists working in the field of weather and climate would be as definite as Flannery in predicting our future climate. It was only a few years ago that meteorologists were unwilling to predict the weather more than a day or two ahead. Although they now routinely make forecasts for a week ahead, the public are sensible enough to realise that the longer the prediction the less reliable it is likely to be. Similarly with seasonal forecasts, which the Bureau of Meteorology now issues despite them enjoying limited predictive ability. You certainly would not want to bet your farm on them just yet.

Predictions about the likely climate to be experienced 50 or 100 years hence are even more problematic. Although the past few decades have seen huge leaps in our understanding of the ocean-atmosphere interaction, and huge increases in our computing capacity, no serious climatologist would attempt to predict the future global climate with the sense of certainty that Flannery purports to do.

In particular, there remain great uncertainties about the extent to which human activity is responsible for the increase in global temperatures over the past few decades, and whether or not such increases are largely driven by a natural cycle that will reverse itself in coming decades.



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, January 08, 2007


Despite that, the article below still assumes that mankind is warming up the world today

Foreshadowing potential climate chaos to come, early global warming caused unexpectedly severe and erratic temperature swings as rising levels of greenhouse gases helped transform Earth, a team led by researchers at UC Davis said Thursday. The global transition from ice age to greenhouse 300 million years ago was marked by [Note: They carefully don't say "preceded by". Other evidence indicates that the warming came BEFORE the CO2 rise. Pesky!] repeated dips and rises in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and wild swings in temperature, with drastic effects on forests and vegetation, the researchers reported in the journal Science.

"It was a real yo-yo," said UC Davis geochemist Isabel Montanez, who led researchers from five universities and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in a project funded by the National Science Foundation. "Should we expect similar but faster climate behavior in the future? One has to question whether that is where we are headed."

The provocative insight into planetary climate change counters the traditional view that global warming could be gradual and its regional effects easily anticipated. Over several million years, carbon dioxide in the ancient atmosphere increased from about 280 parts per million to 2,000 ppm, the same increase that experts expect by the end of this century as remaining reserves of fossil fuels are burned.

No one knows the reason for so much variation in carbon dioxide levels 300 million years ago, but as modern industrial activity continues to pump greenhouse gases into the air at rapid rates, the unpredictable climate changes that took millions of years to unfold naturally could be compressed into a few centuries or less today, several experts said. Carbon dioxide levels last year reached 380 ppm, rising at almost twice the rate of a decade ago, experts said. Average global temperatures have been rising about 0.36 of a degree Fahrenheit per decade for the last 30 years.

Still, the transformation of ancient Earth documented by Montanez and her colleagues makes the current spate of extreme weather events - extended droughts, killing heat waves and powerful hurricane seasons - appear mild by comparison.

From a planet whose landscape was buried in ice miles thick, the Earth convulsed into an ice-free world covered in drifts of wind-blown dust and sparse vegetation, in spasm after spasm of temperature shifts that rose and fell 7 to 18 degrees at a time, Montanez said.

The scientists studied the late Paleozoic period, between 305 million and 265 million years ago, when Earth was far different. Land masses were gridlocked in a single super-continent largely sheathed in ice. Shallow seas regularly rose and fell. The sun was weaker. The atmosphere's chemistry was different. And, in this single epoch, life experienced its greatest expansion in diversity of forms, followed abruptly by its largest mass extinction. Just as during the modern era, however, the Earth of the late Paleozoic was shifting from an ice age to a warmer greenhouse world - the only other era in the planet's history to experience such a transition, said Yale University geochemist Robert Berner, an expert on climate and evolution who was not involved in the research.

More here


Big game trophy hunters 'help to save rare species'. Benefits outweigh the cost in animals

The slaughter of thousands of animals in Africa by big game hunters is supported by conservationists who maintain that the sport protects wildlife. Lions, leopards, elephants and crocodiles are among the trophy species being shot by hunters from Europe and the US. Even the critically endangered black rhino finds itself in the crosshairs.

However, a study concludes, the overall toll on big game is more than matched by the benefits. Hunters are prepared to pay thousands of pounds for the chance to shoot trophy species. The money they bring in to the 23 African nations that permit trophy hunting provides jobs and encourages people to preserve the landscape rather than turn it into farmland. According to a report in New Scientist, a proportion of the money reaches conservation organisations, who use it to promote wildlife and protect the natural habitat.

The study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, concludes that where game areas are well managed, the death toll from hunters is outweighed by increases in animal populations made possible by conservation initiatives.

Hunting money was directly responsible for the recovery of at least three rare species in South Africa — the bontebok, Damaliscus dorcas, black wildebeest, Connochaetes gnu, and Cape mountain zebra, Equus zebra — and assisted the recovery of southern white rhino numbers.

“Trophy hunting can also play an important role in the rehabilitation of wildlife areas by permitting income generation from wildlife without jeopardising population growth of trophy species,” the study adds.

“Financial incentives from trophy hunting effectively more than double the land area that is used for wildlife conservation.”

The money generated by trophy hunting is seen as particularly important in areas that are unable to attract tourists. Simultaneously, the presence of trophy hunters encourages local people to put in place anti-poaching measures.

The study, by a team of scientists from Orleans University, France, and the University of Zimbabwe, Harare, estimates that at least 540,000 square miles of land in Africa are protected because of hunting, more than double the area of national parks in sub-Saharan Africa. They calculate that trophy hunting is worth more than £100 million to Africa.

There are, however, a range of problems to overcome, the researchers say: in some parts of Africa the hunting is inadequately managed, while in Asia its overall effect remains detrimental to conservation.

Mark Wright, of WWF, said that while the wildlife organisation regarded hunting as “an 0option of last resort”, it could have a positive effect on wildlife. In particular, he said, in many areas where there was no eco-tourism, it provided a source of income far less damaging than the alternative of illegal and uncontrolled poaching.

Rather than take the “high moral ground”, he said, conservationists needed to be practical and accept that hunting could be the lesser of two evils.

Nethertheless, some conservation groups remain opposed to big game hunting and point to Kenya, which has banned hunting yet attracts £500 millionof eco-tourism a year. Will Travers, of the Born Free Foundation, said: “I’m totally opposed. For me an animal is a treasure alive and a carcass dead. “I think hunting and killing an animal for so-called sport, for fun, is a tragedy of the human psyche and something we should have grown out of.”



"The Guardian" says so -- so it must be right

The environment minister is right to criticise airlines, but the truth is that the government and the aviation industry are on the same side. Environment minister Ian Pearson's comments about airlines confirm aviation's position as one of the touchstones of action on climate change. The industry has been squealing about the recent increase in air passenger duty and, as Ian Pearson rightly said, a huge battle is taking shape in Europe on whether and how aviation will be part of the European emissions trading scheme (ETS).

This is as it should be. The industry likes to say that aviation is a small part of the climate change problem, but it ignores two big issues. The first is the rate of growth in aviation: if the government's target of reducing carbon emissions by 60% by 2050 is to be met and aviation carries on growing at current rates, all other sectors of the economy will have to make much bigger cuts in emissions - up to 87% according to one recent report, using British Airways' own figures (and these assume some greening of aviation technology). The second is that aviation's contribution is greater than simple carbon figures suggest, because the impacts of emissions in the skies are greater. The exact level of "radiative forcing", as the effect of emissions at high altitude is known, is uncertain but the current estimate is that it worsens the impact by 2.7 times and it could be larger.

There are a lot of doubts about whether including aviation in the ETS will have any impact on this (much depends on the caps included and the terms of admission) but it is at least an attempt to do something about this. As Ian Pearson says, much of the industry is in denial about its effects. What he didn't say was that the industry, backed by the Americans and many other governments in the rest of the world are mobilising to attack the EU and to ensure that any restrictions on aviation of any sort whatever are outlawed through the International Civil Aviation Organisation, which meets next autumn.

But at another level, the minister is engaging in shadow-boxing. The truth is that the government and the aviation industry are on the same side. The industry asserts that the economic benefits outweigh any environmental costs of aviation, and the government believes it. The pre-budget report uncritically printed extracts from an industry-sponsored report which vastly exaggerates the economic contribution of aviation.

Ian Pearson did not think to mention the government's progress report on its aviation white paper, slipped out before Christmas, which reiterated and strengthened the government's support for large-scale expansion of airports - a third runway and sixth terminal at Heathrow, a second runway at Stansted, expansion at Manchester and several other airports. The growth in aviation that such airport expansion will allow will outrun any moves to cut emissions through the ETS or technology improvements. Ministers have bought the argument that such expansion is essential for competitiveness; the industry has successfully sold them the line that other countries are expanding their airports so the UK has to as well. The large and growing opposition to airport expansion in other countries finds their ministers using the same arguments about the UK.

If ministers were really determined to do something about aviation's contribution to climate change, they would tackle both demand and supply. Transit traffic - a large chunk of Heathrow passengers - contributes nothing to the UK economy. Video-meeting technology can substitute for some international flights. The growth in freight-only flights, increasing food miles, could be taxed. Most importantly, the large domestic and near-Europe flights - the main users for the projected third runway at Heathrow - could be replaced by trains.

But in a week where, because of government franchising policy, train fares were increased yet again above inflation and well above European levels, you can understand a government minister not mentioning this.

So Ian Pearson is right to criticise the airlines - but his own government is culpable in taking the industry view and promoting aviation expansion, rather than alternatives. If the government is serious about climate change, action on aviation is essential.


Australia: Greenie dam-hatred imposes huge costs on householders

Melburnians are drilling bores in their backyards to pump groundwater for gardens and lawns. As stage 3 water restrictions enter the second week, desperate Melburnians are paying up to $20,000 to drill bores into aquifers to secure water. Drillers have received hundreds of phone inquiries since the restrictions came into force on January 1.

Gardens can be watered only twice a week with a dripper system or hand-held trigger-nozzle hoses at limited times, while watering lawns remains banned.

Melbourne's groundwater is managed by Southern Rural Water, which has been inundated with requests for bore licences across the state during the past year. To drill a bore for domestic use, residents must apply for a licence, which costs $510 and can take up to a month to receive because of the demand.

Thomastown bore driller Barry Scriven said people were willing to spend whatever it took to secure water. "We have had to stop answering the phone because it's too busy," he said. It costs about $200 a metre to drill for a bore. Water in some areas can be 10m deep, but others are 50 or 100m down. "If you asked people 10 years ago to spend $15,000 on water for the garden they would have thought you were crazy," Mr Scriven said. Not all areas of Melbourne would be able to access good quality water with salinity a problem in some areas of Melbourne, including some eastern suburbs.



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, January 07, 2007


Far-left political ideologies are being promulgated through ever-increasing mediums, and recently I noticed that a once-vaunted American television network, The Weather Channel, had succumbed to the cancerous spread of liberalism. The Weather Channel debuted in 1982 and went on to earn a reputation as a well-known and respected cable network. The explosive success of the cable channel prompted the publication of a book marking the network's 20th anniversary. That success has been based on the fact that weather forecasts are sought after by a vast number of Americans on a near-daily basis.

What had been nice about The Weather Channel is that through most of its history it stayed clear of political propaganda and focused on delivering weather forecasts to the nation, supplemented with riveting live reports from the front lines of hurricanes, winter blizzards and springtime floods. But no more. The Weather Channel is now engaged in a con job on the American people, attempting to scare the public that their actions are destroying the planet by creating a global warming crisis.

The move away from scientific forecasting of the weather to sensationalized leftist political advocacy is in part due to the influence of Wonya Lucas, executive vice president and general manager of The Weather Channel Networks. Lucas admitted in a recent interview with Media Village that the reprogramming of The Weather Channel was influenced by her tenure at CNN when that network shifted from presenting straight news to personality-driven programming. Lucas decided that what was good for CNN was good for The Weather Channel, and the objectivity and respectability of the network has now been thrown out the window. It doesn't matter that CNN's turn to the left has caused their ratings to plummet; The Weather Channel's embraced its model.

Media Village reported that the move by The Weather Channel "is intended to establish a broader perspective on the weather category and, says Lucas, to move the brand from functional to emotional." Emotional weather forecasting?

The Weather Channel is launching a new website and broadband channel dedicated solely to global warming called "One Degree" and has a weekly program called "The Climate Code," devoted almost entirely to liberal advocacy on climate matters. The network is running advertisements showcasing scared and confused Americans, including children and senior citizens, wondering about the coming apocalypse caused by global warming.

The chief martyr for the new "emotional" approach to broadcasting at The Weather Channel is Dr. Heidi Cullen, who serves as the network's cheerleader for global warming hysteria. Cullen's supposed expertise on climatology includes, among other things, earning a bachelor's degree in Near Eastern religions and history from Juniata College. One must indeed have to believe in the mystical to accept anything Ms. Cullen has to say about climatology.

Writing for the One Degree blog, Ms. Cullen recently threw a hissy fit that some meteorologists are openly questioning the conclusions drawn by the Greenpeace crowd about the nature, extent, causes and even existence of global warming. Cullen's diatribe, titled "Junk Controversy Not Junk Science," called on the American Meteorological Society to start requiring all meteorologists to tow the line on liberal interpretation of global warming, or else lose the organization's certification. George Orwell's 1984 couldn't have concocted a better form of thought control. The global warming crowd, led by arrogant hustlers such as Heidi Cullen at The Weather Channel, has set up a no-lose situation for themselves.

Climatology is by definition the study of long-term climate trends, and it will indeed be many decades or longer before any definitive conclusions about even the existence of global warming - let alone its causes - can be determined to be true or false. This means that Cullen and her cohorts can't be held accountable for their erroneous beliefs.

Even still, we can see how foolish it is to allow people like Heidi Cullen to influence decision-makers to impose further restrictions and regulations on the actions of human beings. Global warming scaremongers jumped on the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the busy 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and went on to predict that 2006 would be a potentially devastating year of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean. As it was, not one single hurricane made landfall in the U.S.

If forecasters can't reliably tell us what will happen in two to three months from now, why would anyone trust that they know what will happen with the weather in 50 or 100 years from now and let them tell us how to live our lives accordingly? This is all about Big Brother do-gooders trying to control how you live your life, and stripping away the freedoms and liberties of people to live their lives as they see fit, engage in commerce and raise their families. There's a con job going on at The Weather Channel, and it's time that viewers let the network know it's time to stop the liberal politicization of weather reporting.

More here


Unless you've been hibernating for the winter, you have no doubt heard the many alarms about global warming. Now even the Bush Administration is getting into the act, at least judging from last week's decision by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to recommend that the majestic polar bear be listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. The closer you inspect this decision, however, the more it looks like the triumph of politics over science.

"We are concerned," said Mr. Kempthorne, that "the polar bears' habitat may literally be melting" due to warmer Arctic temperatures. However, when we called Interior spokesman Hugh Vickery for some elaboration, he was a lot less categorical, even a tad defensive. The "endangered" designation is based less on the actual number of bears in Alaska than on "projections into the future," Mr. Vickery said, adding that these "projection models" are "tricky business."

Apparently so, because there are in fact more polar bears in the world now than there were 40 years ago, as the nearby chart shows. The main threat to polar bears in recent decades has been from hunting, with estimates as low as 5,000 to 10,000 bears in the 1950s and 1960s. But thanks to conservation efforts, and some cross-border cooperation among the U.S., Canada and Russia, the best estimate today is that the polar bear population is 20,000 to 25,000.

It also turns out that most of the alarm over the polar bear's future stems from a single, peer-reviewed study, which found that the bear population had declined by some 250, or 25%, in Western Hudson Bay in the last decade. But the polar bear's range is far more extensive than Hudson Bay. A 2002 U.S. Geological Survey of wildlife in the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain concluded that the ice bear populations "may now be near historic highs." One of the leading experts on the polar bear, Mitchell Taylor, the manager of wildlife resources for the Nunavut territory in Canada, has found that the Canadian polar bear population has actually increased by 25% -- to 15,000 from 12,000 over the past decade.

Mr. Taylor tells us that in many parts of Canada, "polar bears are very abundant and productive. In some areas, they are overly abundant. I understand that people not living in the North generally have difficulty grasping the concept of too many polar bears, but those who live here have a pretty good grasp of what that is like." Those cuddly white bears are the Earth's largest land carnivores.

There is no doubt that higher temperatures threaten polar bear habitat by melting sea ice. Mr. Kempthorne also says he had little choice because the threshold for triggering a study under the Endangered Species Act is low. The Bush Administration was sued by the usual environmental suspects to make this decision, which means that Interior will now conduct a year-long review before any formal listing decision is made.

Nonetheless, the bears seem to have survived despite many other severe warming and cooling periods over the last few thousands of years. Polar bears are also protected from poaching and environmental damage by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, so there is little extra advantage to the bears themselves from an "endangered" classification.

All of which suggests that the real story here is a human one, namely about the politics of global warming. Once a plant or animal is listed under the Endangered Species Act, the government must also come up with an elaborate plan to protect its habitat. If the polar bear is endangered by warmer temperatures, then the environmentalist demand will be that the government do something to address that climate change. Faster than you can say Al Gore, this would lead to lawsuits and cries in Congress demanding federal mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Think we're exaggerating? No sooner had Mr. Kempthorne announced his study than Kassie Siegel of something called the Center for Biological Diversity told the New York Times that "even this Administration" would not be able to "write this proposal without acknowledging that the primary threat to polar bears is global warming and without acknowledging the science of global warming." Her outfit was one of those who had sued the feds in the first place over the polar bears, notwithstanding its location in the frozen tundra of Arizona. But no matter. For want of a few hundred polar bears, the entire U.S. economy could be vulnerable to judicial dictation.

With that much at stake, Mr. Kempthorne could have shown a stiffer backbone in resisting this political pressure. At the very least he now has an obligation to ensure that Interior's year-long study be based on real science and the actual polar bear population, rather than rely on computer projections. Any government decision to limit greenhouse gases deserves to be debated in the open, where the public can understand the consequences, not legislated by the back door via the Endangered Species Act.

The Wall Street Journal, 3 January 2007


Another stupid prophet of doom

In 10 years time it will be too late to reverse the effects of global warming, a climate change expert warned yesterday. Scientist Jim Hansen - one of the first to start alarm bells ringing in 1988 - said that unless cuts in pollution started happening within the next decade we would reach the "tipping point" where the damage could not be undone. He added: "Half the people in the world live within 15 miles of a coastline. A large fraction of the major cities are on coastlines. "Once you get the process started and well on the way, it's impossible to prevent it.

"That's why we need to address the issue before it gets out of control. We just cannot burn all the fossil fuels in the ground.

"If we do, we will end up with a planet with no ice in the Arctic and where warming is so large that it's going to have a large effect in terms of sea level rises and the extinction of species."

Dr Hansen, director of the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, said: "If we go another 10 years, by 2015, at the current rate of growth of CO2 emissions, the emissions in 2015 will be 35 per cent larger than they were in 2000.

"But if we want to get on a scenario that keeps global temperature in the range that it has been in for the last million years, we would need to decrease the emissions by something of the order of 25 per cent."

Britain's chief scientist, Sir David King, said: "We need to remember: Action is affordable, inaction is not. Only heads of state working together can provide the new level of global leadership we need."



OFFICIALS from the Government agency championing the fight against climate chaos have taken 60 gas-guzzling domestic flights in the last year. Environment Agency Wales (EAW) have been sending its staff on an air trip less than every two weeks - at the same time as urging everyone else to use other means of transport.

The revelation has provoked a series of attacks from shocked environmental groups, who say EAW needs to "get its house in order." But this week EAW hit back, insisting meetings flown to were "business-crucial" and staff could not have attended otherwise......

More here


Authorities will not take the necessary measures to prevent bush fires for fear of offending radical environmentalists

With dismaying predictability, bushfires in south-eastern Australia have devastated some of the country's state forests and national parks, put at risk the lives of thousands of firefighters who have heroically sought to contain them, and caused substantial loss of property, particularly in Victoria and Tasmania.

What is most alarming about the recent outbreaks is that they come at the beginning of summer, and their intensity can only be expected to grow as the weather gets hotter, drier and more windy.

Undoubtedly, the current drought has aggravated the problem; but the almost total absence of fuel-reduction burns - now part of the policy pursued by bodies such as the National Parks and Wildlife Service in New South Wales and the Department of Sustainability and Environment in Victoria - has contributed to the crisis.

In Victoria, bushfires consumed over 300,000 hectares early in December. For the first time in living memory, the fire-fighting organisations, the Country Fire Authority and the Department of Sustainability and Environment, conceded that they could not put the fires out, and they would burn for weeks until rain extinguished them.

Fire-reduction strategy

By contrast, the Department of Sustainability's Chief Fire Officer admitted that only 7,000 hectares was burned between last autumn and spring in low-intensity fires designed to get rid of the forest litter which turns bushfires into wildfires. (SBS News, December 8, 2006).

This is just one thousandth of the 8 million hectares of forest land which the department has responsibility to manage. They might as well have stayed at home.

According to the Victorian Association of Forest Industries, this compares to a yearly average of 225,000 hectares burnt in fuel-reduction burns in the decade from 1974-75 to 1983-84. Until about five years ago, the figure had averaged just 80,000 hectares, which fell to 40,000 hectares by 2003, still over five times the area subject to controlled burn-offs this year.

The reason why government departments have effectively abandoned fuel reduction strategies is that they have accepted the greenies' argument that their job is to minimise human activity (particularly logging) and preserve "biodiversity". They have accepted the greenies' claim that periodic low-intensity burn-offs reduce biodiversity.

In fact, low-intensity fires are far kinder to both flora and fauna than wildfires which inevitably devastate everything in their path and put human lives in grave danger.

It is curious that environmental groups, so vociferous about the effect of CO2 on climate change, have remained completely silent over the millions of tonnes of CO2 released by the bushfires which have cut a swathe through south-eastern Australia in recent weeks.

Peter Garrett, newly appointed shadow minister for climate change, has said nothing on the issue, nor has the environmental group Greenpeace, which has opposed fuel-reduction burn-offs and staged several spectacular stunts in an effort to save "ancient forests" threatened by logging.

The Wilderness Society, which first grabbed the spotlight 30 years ago in its campaign to save the Franklin River, and still raises money on the basis that it is saving the forests, has also been silent as some of Australia's old growth forests have literally gone up in smoke.

The Australian Greens, who led the campaign to prevent the timber industry getting access to timber from native forests, have also remained completely silent in the face of the bushfire crisis.

Since 2002, Australia has faced an escalating problem from bushfires, owing to an unwillingness by governments to take the necessary actions to minimise the bushfire threat.

After every forest conflagration, there have been state and federal inquiries into the causes of the bushfires, and what needs to be done to address them.

Every one of these inquiries has recommended - sometimes in muted language, for fear of offending radical environmentalists who have set the agenda for forest policy - a program of what are sometimes called "cold fires", fuel-reduction burn-offs through bush land in the wetter months of the year, to get rid of dead trees, branches and leaf litter which fuel forest fires.

It has been known for many years that such fires, if carried out every six to eight years, prevent the build-up of forest litter which turns bushfires into wildfires.

In Western Australia, the only state where successive governments rigorously conducted widespread fuel-reduction burns until recent years, there have been no comparable disasters. Studies conducted in Western Australia have shown that regular burn-offs of 10-15 per cent of forests reduce the amount of forest litter to a level where bushfires can be controlled, and do not develop into wildfires.

Until governments introduce mandatory legislated targets for fuel-reduction burns in both National Parks and State Forests, as a means of preventing further wildfires, the present problems will simply get worse.



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, January 06, 2007


Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) delivered a Senate floor speech analyzing the proposed Endangered Species Act listing of the Polar Bear by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Following is an excerpt of the speech

"A 2002 U.S. Geological Survey of wildlife in the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain noted that the polar bear populations `may now be near historic highs.' So if the number of polar bears does not appear to be in decline, why are we considering listing the species as threatened? Because the ESA is broken and this proposal is indicative of what is wrong with it," Senator Inhofe said. "In the proposal, the Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledges that for seven of the 19 worldwide polar bear populations, the Service has no population trend data of any kind," he added.

"The [ESA] law also allows for the Fish and Wildlife Service to justify its proposal on a sample from a single population in Western Hudson Bay in Canada, where bear populations have decreased by 259 polar bears in the last 17 years. Yet hunting was allowed during that entire period in the Western Hudson Bay population. In fact, according to the latest figures collected by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, 234 bears have been killed in the last 5 years alone. How many more were killed in the previous 12 years and what overall affect did this have on population numbers?" Senator Inhofe said.

"Ironically, the Canadian government is right now considering a proposal to increase the quota on the harvesting of polar bears in the Western Hudson Bay population. This would allow more hunting of the population whose condition is so dire that the Service based its listing decision on it. While I support hunting as a general matter, we need to fully understand its impact on the polar bear populations before we blame global warming for changes in bear populations.

"The Fish and Wildlife Service asserts that the reason for the decline in the Western Hudson Bay population is climate-change-induced ice melting. To make that assertion, they rely on hypothetical climate change computer models showing massive loss of ice that irreparably damages the polar bear's habitat. The Service then extrapolates that reasoning to the other 18 populations of polar bears, making the assumption that all bears in these populations will eventually decline and go extinct. Again, this conclusion is not based on field data but on hypothetical modeling and that is considered perfectly acceptable `scientific evidence' under the ESA.

"I do not believe our federal conservation policy should be dictated by hypothetical computer projections because the stakes of a listing decision under ESA can be extremely high. The listing of the polar bear is no exception."



The U.S. Interior Department at the end of the year proposed listing the polar bear as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. The agency said the threat to the top-of-the-food-chain predator (they like humans about as well as they like seals) is global warming.

The arctic is enjoying a warming that has brought temperatures up to levels not seen since the 1930s, and this has the green community in a tizzy. The polar bears allegedly are seeing a population decline as the ice flows and ice sheets where they live and trap seals for most of the year are said to be breaking up. (When I was at the North Slope in 1995, oil company workers told me of polar bears stalking oil-field workers on land, so perhaps the eco-niche of the white bears isn't as narrow as the greens believe.)

My friend David Wojick, a prominent warming skeptic, has published a very funny blog on the bears at his Washington Pest site. He notes, quite correctly, that the polar bear is threatened by computer models, the first animal subjected to such a man-made threat. Not guns, but bytes.

It's interesting to note that polar bears at Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, retreat to land when their ice floes melt in July. There they are fairly passive and common, which has generated a significant tourist industry of folks who want to see, and photograph, the cuddly and ferocious bears. But the bears also scavenge the local garbage dump, where they are easy targets for photogs. (It's worth noting that the easiest way to get a really good picture of a bald eagle is at the garbage dump at Dutch Harbor on Alaska's Aleutian islands.) Churchill traps the rogue bears to remove them from the garbage dump.

Wojick's polar bear blog posting generated several comments, one of which was mine. I've seen Alaska's "brown bears," not the cuddly critters we see hiking in the Appalachian Mountains, but what we call "grizzly bears" in the lower 48, at close range. It's pretty clear grizzlies are related to the polar bears, with which, according to Interior, they can interbreed. Both are fearsome creatures.

A grizzly aside here. Several years ago, I was on a trip to Alaska. Part of that involved observing grizzly bears from a Zodiac inflatable boat, off of Kodiak Island and the mainland, while the bears were onshore engaging in various behaviors. We got very close, as the bears did not consider a Zodiac attack a threat. One of the bears, a gigantic strawberry blond fellow, was clamming - scooping up clams and shucking them quickly with his powerful and articulate thumb claw, then slurping the innards (it made me hungry). My guide, the aptly-named field biologist Conrad Field, noted that clamming is a learned behavior. Bears with mothers that clam, learn to clam. Those with mothers that don't, don't. These are smart critters.

Churchill, Manitoba, is not to be confused with Churchill Falls, Labrador, one of the largest hydroelectric power plants in the world. Churchill Falls, which began generating electricity in 1971, has 5,428 MW of generating capacity.

My point on the Washington Pest blog was that if computer models are threatening the polar bears, the obvious policy option is to change the behavior of the computer models. That ought to be really simple, an easy way to save the bears. And has anyone else noticed how much Energy Secretary Sam Bodman resembles a polar bear: round, sleek, very white, and endangered?



So let's have nukes!

Should New Zealand worry as China and the United States greatly increase their capacity to produce electricity? It sounds a silly question. But it should not be treated that way.

More and more coal around the world is being burned in power plants to generate electricity. This threatens to have the biggest single impact on the potentially catastrophic rise in global temperatures caused by emissions of gases heating the earth's atmosphere. Coal is increasingly popular as an industrial-scale fuel because it is abundant, widely distributed, and cheaper than oil, natural gas or renewable energy sources like wind power.

China and the US have vast reserves of coal compared with their limited supplies of domestic oil and gas. Since electricity demand is soaring, both countries are adding coal-fired plants like crazy. Over 150 new ones are planned or being built in the US. In China, some 550 such plants are under construction. ....



"My ideal picture," says the marketing director of Galanz, the largest microwave manufacturer in the world, "is of a Chinese peasant coming home after a day in the fields and cooking supper in a microwave." Until recently, most people - including Chinese peasants - would have laughed at such a vision. Galanz built its brand, as did almost every other consumer goods company in China, by selling to the prosperous citizens of boomtowns on the east coast.

But now, say business analysts and economists, China is poised for a consumer-products revolution. Whereas the burgeoning elite in China's major industrial cities has spent the last several years cashing in on an export boom, an emerging middle class in the country's interior has only recently begun to see the fruits of economic liberalization. As government policies shift to encourage consumer spending, businessmen may finally realize their fantasies of an enormous, untapped consumer marketing frontier.

"We have to increase the number of people with a microwave oven from 200 million to 1.2 billion," says Ms. Chen, a gleam in her eye as she measures the prospect. "That's where our future lies."

And after many years of waiting the future has arrived, says Andrew Grant, head of McKinsey & Co., the consulting firm, in China. "At the moment, China's consumer economy is about the size of Italy's, but in two years' time it is going to start adding an Italy every year," says Mr. Grant, noting that while the average Italian spends $11,511 on consumer goods each year to China's $543, the middle kingdom's enormous population makes up for the difference.


Greenie dam-hatred finally starts to turns off water to homes in Australia

Some Brisbane households may soon not have enough water pressure to run taps [faucets] after City Hall admitted to progressively turning down the mains pressure under a radical scheme to conserve water. Brisbane City Council water spokeswoman Jane Prentice also said residents would have to personally foot the bill to increase pressure by purchasing a booster pump, at a cost of up to $1000. The pump would also need to be installed by a plumber and electrician.

Those likely to be most affected will be residents of apartment buildings and homes on hillsides and hilltops, along with homeowners whose renovations included the installation of extra upstairs faucets. Cr Prentice said some inner-city areas had been secretly tested and a full roll-out would be completed by mid-year. She said council would notify major industry in coming weeks and homeowners over the next two months. "We will be giving plenty of notice that the pressure is being reduced and homeowners may have to put in booster pumps," she said. [How kind!]

Brisbane's ageing inner-city water pipes leak up to 13 million litres a day. Stopping that would help the municipality hit stringent State Government water-saving guidelines. As The Courier-Mail reported yesterday, the Queensland Water Commission this week slammed councils for having fallen behind their target to save 62 megalitres of water per day by fixing leaks and pressure.

Cr Prentice said water pressure delivered to a property's boundary would not fall below the national standard of 210kPa, or the strength to shoot a column of water 21m into the air at the property's boundary. However, she conceded that it could drop below that mark once inside the boundary. Brisbane properties currently receive over 300kPa. "Some people at the bottom of the hill (currently) get lovely pressure but at the top sometimes you need a pump," Cr Prentice said. "We have found old apartments are unlikely to have the boosters and that water pressure can drop out in an upstairs ensuite for example. "This is particularly evident for those people who have renovated and live on hillsides. But I don't think it will affect many people. Some people might find it is under the 210kPa by the time it gets up the hill or to the top of the house, but it is only the Council's responsibility to deliver national standards and we will do that."



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, January 05, 2007


In his global warming scare-you-mentary film, "An Inconvenient Truth" (AIT), which was recently released on DVD, former Vice President Al Gore declares global warming is a "moral issue." It is, but for very different reasons than Mr. Gore professes. Mr. Gore considers it immoral to oppose the Kyoto Protocol, energy taxes or other coercive schemes to curb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions linked to global warming. My meaning is quite different: It is immoral to put an energy-starved world on an energy diet.

Carbon dioxide emissions derive from energy use, which derives from, and fuels, economic activity. Controlling atmospheric CO2 levels is not remotely possible unless China, India and other high-growth developing countries restrict use of carbon-based energy. But demand for fossil energy is growing, especially in developing countries. For example, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects global energy consumption will rise by 71 percent between 2003 and 2030, with three-quarters of that growth in developing countries. Fossil fuels account for the lion's share of the increase in consumption.

The real inconvenient truth is that nobody knows how to meet current, much less future, global energy needs with low- and non-emitting technologies. Indeed, the only proven "method" for making deep emission cuts is that of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe: economic collapse.

Energy poverty is a scourge, shortening the lives and impairing the health of untold millions of people around the globe. An estimated 1.6 billion people lack access to electricity, and some 2.4 billion people still rely on biomass -- wood, crop waste and dung -- for cooking and heating. Daily indoor air pollution in energy-poor countries is much dirtier than outdoor air in the world's most polluted cities, and kills about 2.8 million people a year, most of them women and children. Reliance on biomass also takes a heavy toll on forests and wildlife habitat.

There is no known way to meet the developing world's energy needs without increasing use of CO2-emitting fossil fuels. Forcing developing countries to go on an energy diet would condemn them to decades of continuing poverty, backwardness and misery.

"But Lewis," Al Gore might object, "the Kyoto Protocol exempts developing countries from binding emission limitations. It only restricts energy use in rich countries, like the United States." That is correct -- for now. But the developing-country exemption is a classic bait-and-switch ploy. Developing countries would not have ratified Kyoto unless it exempted them from carbon controls during the first compliance period (2008-2012). But Kyoto is doomed unless the exemption is repealed, and every insider knows it.

Kyoto supporters consider the treaty just a first step in a series of carbon-suppression agreements, each more stringent and inclusive than its predecessor. Even under favorable scientific assumptions, Kyoto would avert only 7/100ths of 1 degree Celsius of global warming by 2050 -- too little for scientists to detect. Taking the first step makes sense only if you are prepared to restrict energy use globally.

More critically, most European countries are not on track to meet their current Kyoto targets. They will surely miss the much tougher targets proposed for the second, post-2012 period unless they can buy large quantities of cheap emission permits from outside the European Union. China and India could provide these permits -- but only if they first agree to limit their carbon emissions. Expect increased European pressure on developing countries -- via trade penalties and foreign aid bribes -- to limit their emissions.

Even in the United States, high energy prices inflict hardship on low-income households. Millions of families already feel pinched by the high cost of gasoline, natural gas, and home heating oil. A Kyoto-style system would push energy prices even higher. Does the new Congress really want to take credit for pushing U.S. gasoline prices to record highs?

Many members of Congress professed to outrage in late 2005 when gasoline prices spiked above $3 a gallon. Many European consumers pay twice as much for gasoline, due to high motor fuel taxes. Yet, despite higher fuel prices, European Union transport sector CO2 emissions increased almost 26 percent during 1990-2004 and are projected under current policies to be 35 percent above 1990 levels in 2010. How much higher than European-level gasoline prices does Al Gore think Americans should have to pay?

The perils of global warming are speculative. Those of energy poverty are all too real. Global warming is indeed a moral issue, because global-warming policies have enormous potential to harm poor people. This is a critical aspect of the global warming debate that "An Inconvenient Truth" conveniently ignores.



Since the Indian Ocean tsunami two years ago today that killed more than 200,000 people, governments, donors and experts have embraced the idea that healthy mangrove forests and coral reefs could reduce the death toll from a giant wave. Former President Bill Clinton, in his role as the United Nations special envoy for tsunami recovery, recently endorsed a program that will allocate $62 million to preserve such natural barriers in 12 Asian and African countries.

But the $62 million question is, will these barriers work? Research suggests that the level of protection offered by greenbelts has been exaggerated. And by diverting resources from more effective measures like education campaigns and evacuation plans to well-meaning but misguided reforestation, we may even contribute to a greater loss of life in future tsunamis.

There have been few scientific studies about the protective role of coastal vegetation. And while one study did suggest that a shield of mangrove forest managed to reduce tsunami damage in three villages in Tamil Nadu State in India, the forest was not the only difference between these coastal villages and those nearby that suffered major destruction. Indeed, when my colleagues and I re-analyzed the data, we found no relationship between the death toll in each village and the area of forest in front of each one. What actually saved these villages was being further from the coast or built on relatively high land. It was only a coincidence that they also had more forest between themselves and the ocean (of course, the further a village is from the coast, the greater potential area of forest).

Indeed, a recent paper in the journal Natural Hazards that surveyed more than 50 sites in affected regions found that coastal vegetation did not reduce tsunami damage, and that damage was actually greater in areas fronted by coral reefs. Similarly, my colleagues and I, working in Aceh, Indonesia, found that neither reefs nor coastal forest reduced the damage caused by the tsunami. The distance the tsunami traveled inland was largely determined by the height of the tsunami and the slope of the land. In other words, where the tsunami was 30 feet high, it flooded all land lower than 30 feet above sea level, whether this reached 200 yards inland, or two miles.

Mangrove forests are, to be fair, very effective at dissipating the energy of storm waves, but a tsunami is a very different beast. Tsunamis, produced by earthquakes, have wavelengths of miles, compared to that of a few yards for typical wind-generated waves. The tsunami, for instance, that hit the Acehnese coast was eight miles thick; this wall of water rolled in for nearly an hour.

Of course, coastal forests at some point do begin to reduce tsunami damage, but we can't expect them to offer meaningful protection against the sheer amount of energy involved in a tsunami. In 2004, the energy released by the Indian Ocean earthquake is estimated to have been the equivalent of 23,000 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs: that's nearly three Hiroshimas for every mile of affected coastline. Another significant concern is the enforcement of buffer zones in the name of tsunami protection. Buffer zones, to have any real effect, would need to be many miles wide and thus impossible to institute without prohibitively high social and economic costs.

Perhaps it is unsurprising then that local governments have begun to regulate these barriers in a way that is not only insufficient, but grossly unfair: luxury hotels escape enforcement while tens of thousands of impoverished fishing families in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand are prevented, in the name of tsunami protection, from rebuilding their homes in areas that have been designated buffer zones.

A more recent tsunami, on July 17, demonstrated the tragic consequences of inadequate planning. More than 18 months after the 2004 catastrophe, the Indonesian government had yet to deploy an early warning system on the island of Java. Tremors from a major earthquake were felt and the tsunami was preceded by a telltale withdrawal of the sea - yet amazingly, people did not know to seek high ground. Government officials failed to act despite precise warnings, and more than 600 people died. Clearly, education efforts in Indonesia have been inadequate.

But we can take heart in the example set by Japan. On Nov. 15, an undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 8.1 set off that nation's tsunami early warning system. Thousands were evacuated. While the resulting tsunami was luckily too small to cause damage, Japan's sophisticated early warning system, intensive education campaigns, annual evacuation drills and loudspeakers for nearly every kilometer of coastline might have saved thousands of lives if the tsunami had been larger. Similarly effective measures in the Indian Ocean have yet to be developed, in part because efforts and resources remain focused on these questionable schemes to build mangrove barriers.

Certainly, coastal vegetation can provide communities with many valuable resources, and the rehabilitation of these ecosystems should be encouraged. But if the aim is to protect people from tsunamis, the science indicates that money would better be spent on early warning systems, education and evacuation planning.


New Zealand had coldest December for 78 years

Global cooling?

Wellington- Defying talk of global warming, New Zealanders shivered in December, with the capital Wellington recording its coldest start to the southern hemisphere summer for 78 years, according to official figures released Wednesday. The National Climate Centre said that Wellington's average temperature was 12.9 Celsius, 2.4 degrees below normal and the lowest since records began in 1928.

Even Kaitaia, the country's northernmost town, suffered a 2.5- degree drop in the average December temperature to 15.6 Celsius, the lowest since records were first taken there in 1948.

The chill has continued into the new year as most New Zealanders are taking their summer vacations.

Snow fell this week on Mount Ruapehu, an active volcano and the North Island's highest peak at 2,797-metres, and the temperature in Wellington hovered Tuesday around 11 Celsius, about the same as European cities now in the depths of winter.


Global cooling continues in Queensland, Australia

I live in Southern Queensland and I can testify from personal experience that we have indeed had a long spell of amazingly cool summer weather here. In Britain it is not uncommon for people in some years to say: "We didn't have a summer this year". That is almost true of Southern Queensland lately

Has the weather gone crazy? It should be the time of year that Queenslanders are decked out in thongs and boardshorts, sweltering under the state's famous sun. Instead this summer is turning out to be more like those Christmases usually only suffered by southerners. The "Mexicans", meanwhile, are lapping up an unseasonal burst of Queensland-style weather.

While Brisbane's rainy skies yesterday meant the temperature struggled to reach 25C, almost five degrees below the long-term average for January, in Melbourne the mercury soared to 33C - seven degrees above normal.

To make matters worse, the 37mm of rain which fell on Brisbane's central business district yesterday (and up to 50mm at Caboolture and on Bribie Island) failed to make any difference to the region's record-low dam levels. Despite the rain bringing fresh hope for some farmers in the state's west, the city's dam catchments missed out again yesterday. Just 5mm fell at Somerset Dam and just 1mm at Wivenhoe. The only dams in the state topped up in recent days were the Fairbairn Dam near Emerald (up from 12 per cent capacity to 14 per cent) and the Kinchant Dam near Mackay (up from 76 per cent to 80 per cent).

SEQ Water operations manager Rob Drury said 50mm of solid rain in the catchment was required to start any significant inflows to the southeast's dams, with a further 100mm then required immediately to lift their combined levels by just 10 per cent. That level was at just 23.7 per cent yesterday. The only good news is that yesterday's falls are likely to cut consumption as gardens would not need to be watered for a couple of weeks, particularly with more rain forecast over coming days. "Even smaller falls of between 10-20mm will add welcomed extensions to our current supplies," Mr Drury said.

Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Vikash Prasad said there was a chance the "dam areas" would receive some showers and storms early next week. But he said the long-term outlook remained bleak. "The rainfall is likely to be below average in southeast Queensland (for the next three months), mainly due to the El Nino weather pattern we have had so far," Mr Prasad said.


For any humour-deficient Greenie who may read this, I should point out that the heading on the article immediately above is sarcastic


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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, January 04, 2007


A comment from Britain

Bill Cosby said that one of the fundamental problems in relationships between men and women is that men do not know when they are wrong. He gave an example. He said he could be minding his business, lying on his sofa, in his house, watching his television, when his wife walks in: now, in his mind, he is doing nothing wrong. And so it is with pollution. Woke up this morning, turns out I was a polluter. So are you.

We all are, apparently. "The polluter pays" is the latest catchphrase for those that require complex issues diced into soundbites, and it is one you will read a lot in the next year. "You pay" is its honest translation. In this scenario, you are the polluter. You don't want to be; you'd like not to be; you are just going about your life as quietly as possible, paying your taxes, keeping your head down, playing the hand as dealt by short-sighted governments (local and national), the vast retail chains, the cost-cutting manufacturing industries, the Royal Mail, the real villains of the piece. But just to do that makes you the bogeyman; the polluter. And now you must pay.

Everything comes down to money with this Government and just as the wealthy and privileged have for years been able to opt out of the failing health service and the sub-standard education system, with transport now going the same way - vote Labour, keep the poor off the roads - once new waste policies are implemented, soon rubbish collection will be divided into the haves and have-rots. We are moving to a time when household waste is weighed and billed and, just like road pricing proposals that have done little to curb the ruinous proliferation of needlessly overpowered cars, those with money will shrug their shoulders and write the cheque.

A good accountant will find a way to partly off-set waste charges against home as office businesses expenses, the big companies will cut a deal utilising the economies of scale, while employees of Goldman Sachs and Chelsea FC will pay cash for 20 unsorted, non-recyclable sacks and wonder what all the fuss is about. It is the struggling everyman who will be hit hardest. He is The Polluter.

He has not got the money or the cunning to skirt round these measures, just as it is his two-litre Ford, not the gas-guzzling Hummer that has been driven from London's roads by the congestion charge. Yet our rubbish crisis is a direct result of a Britain that the average householder did not want, did not ask for and did little to help to create.

We did not ask for green beans from Zambia to be available 12 months a year, cased in two layers of Cellophane and a black plastic tray. We did not ask for 20 opportunities to open new credit accounts to be delivered weekly. We did not ask for every single item of furniture to arrive requiring assembly and swaddled in polystyrene, bubble wrap and enough Sellotape to gag a busload of hostages for six months. We did not ask for the small high street shops to be slowly murdered by exorbitant council rents and prohibitive parking schemes that played into the hands of out-of-town supermarkets and spelt the end of daily small-scale grocery shopping, as exists in continental Europe.

We did not ask for half the workforce to be laid off to cut costs, so that manufactured items are now sent out in pieces, each individually protected in layer upon layer of unnecessary packaging. We actually liked it when we ordered a wardrobe and it turned up looking like a wardrobe; when the only instruction was "put it in the bedroom, mate" not "connect screw (A) to shelf (B), first making sure that rods (C) and (D) are attached via facing panel (G)" and the only question was how much should we tip the shifter, not what the hell do we do with all this polystyrene because it cannot be taken as paper waste, garden waste or glass and if we try to dispose of it in this inadequately sized wheelie bin we will only have room for one more black bag over the next two weeks and the sideway will be running alive with maggots/foxes/rats again.

Governments would not dare take on the real polluters and are far too late to address the political and cultural mistakes that have created the mountain of waste that is shovelled our way daily. So they come up with a catchphrase like "polluter pays" and try to convince us that just by being on the receiving end of an overflowing daily postbag that we did not request and cannot avoid - it is said you can opt out of junk deliveries by contacting the Royal Mail, but try it and you will discover this is, at best, misleading and at worst, a downright lie - that it is all in some way our fault.

Yes, we have a responsibility to think and act on green issues, and most of us do. But it is the presumption that when we wake in the morning we are immediately the bad guys, that we are at fault for merely existing in a world that is largely made for us by people over whom we have no control, that is so objectionable.

The average household will create roughly 500 pounds of CO2 waste each year, or the equivalent of one 950-mile round trip by plane. Tony Blair's winter holiday equates approximately to waste pollution from your side of the street for the next 12 months and some trendy new Labour type flying to Barcelona for the Feliz Navidad experience will burn up the equivalent of your household waste for a year. He might then plant a tree in Kenya to make him feel better, with a certificate to prove it featuring a kind word from Bill Oddie. I'm not making this up.

The Observer magazine this week featured a couple that felt very angry about green issues. They had a second home in Sussex, a studio flat in Battersea and ate out most nights each week (ever seen restaurant waste?). It would have taken a heart of stone not to laugh.

Me? I'll lie on my sofa, watching my television, in my house. I'll put the paper in the clear bags, the glass in the blue box and the old Christmas tree on the compost heap at the bottom of the garden. To my mind, like Bill, I'm doing nothing wrong.


Study: Less Acid Rain Not Always So Great

Acid rainfall in the Appalachian Mountains has decreased in recent years and organisms in its streams are thriving. But the environmental comeback could be creating new problems of its own, scientists say. A drop in nitric and sulfuric acid levels in the streams is changing biological activity in the ecosystem and hiking dissolved carbon levels, scientists reported at the American Geophysical Union conference last week in San Francisco. Dissolved carbon dioxide occurs as a result of organism respiration and decay of organic matter. It is a key source of acidity in pristine water.

"These are unexpected results," said David DeWalle, a researcher at Pennsylvania State University. "Rising amounts of carbon dioxide in streams and soil could have implications for the forest ecosystem, and the carbon balance in general." DeWalle and his colleagues have been monitoring five Appalachian streams almost every month since 1990 and studying the effects of reduced sulfur emissions-a major source of acid rain. The emission reduction is a result of the Clean Air Act aimed at lowering smog and atmospheric pollution.

Over the years, water quality has been improving and the researchers are seeing less nitrogen in the streams. "This reduction in nitrogen deposition is yet to be seen in many parts of New England," DeWalle said. "We are probably seeing it earlier than others because we are pretty close to the sources of these emissions."

However, the researchers are also finding rising amounts of carbon dioxide in all five streams. This, they think, is because the reduced emissions of pollutants is creating different conditions for organisms in the soil. Organic matter broken down by these organisms generates byproducts such as carbon dioxide, water, and dissolved organic matter, DeWalle explained. The microbes prevent organic matter from dissolving into streams by digesting it and their respiration increases the concentration of carbon dioxide in the soil.

This hypothesis, the researchers note, needs to be tested with experiments that mimic reduced amounts of nitrogen in the atmosphere. Of course this could mean that the ecosystem is returning to pre-acid rain conditions, but scientists are not sure what those conditions were "We don't have the long term data to know what it was like initially," said Bryan Swistock, another researcher from Penn State. The conditions could be going back to pre acid-rain. "The important point to make there is that it's just conjecture as to what's really going on."

The disruption of the ecosystems in Appalachian forests, which provides a home for many organisms and is a source of jobs for many people, could have economical and environmental consequences. "This area is a region bigger than Pennsylvania, where we see declines in both sulfur and nitrogen emissions," DeWalle said. "Although that is a positive thing, it is having an influence, it appears, on the forest ecosystem. Higher amounts of carbon dioxide in the soil means more of it ultimately may be emitted back to the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas."


Warming not global: 'faster in Australia' (??)

Some very strange logic below. I guess it's the logic of the Church of Global Warming

Australia appeared to be suffering an accelerated Greenhouse effect, with the pace of global warming faster across the country than in other parts of the world, climatologists said today. The world's driest inhabited continent, already suffering one of its worst droughts, was waging its own unique climate war, said Australia's Bureau of Meteorology yearly climate report. Half the country was desperate for water and the other half was awash with a year's rainfall for the entire continent. [So no overall effect!!!]

"Most scientists agree this is part of an enhanced Greenhouse effect," bureau senior climatologist Neil Plummer said. "Temperatures are actually rising a little bit faster over Australia compared to the global average, and we know that of Australia's 20 hottest years, 15 have occurred since 1980".

As the first cyclone of the summer bore down on Australia's northwest coast, bringing more rain and potentially destructive winds, the report revealed extraordinary climatic contrasts. Some areas experienced rare summer snow falls over Christmas to dampen bushfires, even as the drought tightened its grip and major cities imposed tough restrictions on water usage.

While the nation received above average 2006 rains, with 490mm of rain falling against the 472mm average, key water catchments and rivers shrivelled in the food bowl southeast where most Australians live. "Rain fell, but just not in the most populated areas. Most Australians would certainly have seen 2006 as a dry year," Mr Plummer said.

Australia's average temperature for 2006 was 0.47C above the long-term average, but it was only the eleventh warmest year since 1910, the bureau report said. And despite record daily temperatures in the southeast, last year was cooler than 2005 due to a very active tropical wet season early in the year.

Mr Plummer said an El Nino weather event in the Pacific Ocean bringing severe drought to eastern Australia was responsible for much of the variation, but that was beginning to weaken. "What we see on the rainfall is a signature of El Nino. There are signs that is weakening and most times we see a breakdown in late summer or autumn, and usually a good break with lots of rain."


See below for some of the history not mentioned above


Australia's worst drought so far came a century before climate change appeared on the national agenda, writes historian Geoffrey Blainey

Some say this is Australia's worst drought in 1000 years. This idea has grown long legs, jumped around the nation and might never quite be brought to heel. That's the trouble with some ideas. They so capture the imagination that they have no need for facts.

No evidence has been produced to support this theory which somehow escaped, as a wild runaway, from the special water summit held in Canberra last month. Of course, this Australian drought is serious and a source of human misery. But is it really the drought of the past millennium? The Australian Bureau of Meteorology, which has earned a strong reputation internationally, thinks it wisest to extend the nationwide rainfall record only as far back as 1900. Historically that cut-off date is a pity because it excludes most years of a drought that was already severe.

From that long period of reliable records since 1900, a surprising fact emerges. While much of the television news makes us think, in this phase of rising temperatures, that Australia is in a uniquely dry period, it is not. The most arid years have not arrived with the present phase of warming. The years of lowest rainfall were 1902 and 1905, at the end of the Federation Drought. Will this climatically nervous year shatter these old records for meagre rainfall? The answer, even before 2006 is completed, has to be "no". In Australia as a whole this is not a drought year in 1000. It is probably not even a drought year in 10.

Our collective memory has forgotten how dry was the period during and after the long Federation Drought. Counting the deserts as well as the dairy lands, Australia received less rainfall during the first half of the 20th century than has fallen in the most recent half-century. There were numerous droughts between 1895 and 1950. In contrast, the wetter years came thereafter, the wettest being 1974. It is strange to contemplate that 2000 was Australia's second-wettest year on record. Admittedly a nationwide summary of rainfall does mask the acute regional variations. Furthermore, that summary does not reveal whether a lot of a year's rainfall was slow and soaking or fell in a cloudburst. But the nationwide average is still a vital statistic in an era when for the first time people are encouraged to look at the weather on a wide, even a world scale.

Somehow, word has spread that global warming inevitably means less rain all around. As a result, the whole of Australia is thought to be suffering. But it is not. In this drought, as in the Federation Drought, some regions in the tropics have been unusually wet. The amount of tropical rainwater running out to sea this year has been massive.

Today's drought, miserable as it is for the rural victims, is not the most damaging, the most painful, in Australia's history. What counts is not the raw records of poor rainfall but the total impact of a drought. In the earlier era when this nation relied heavily on its rural industries, it was more vulnerable to drought than is today's multisided economy.

As recently as the 1930s, the primary industries formed the biggest sector of the economy, even being ahead of manufacturing. Rural industries were huge employers, provided far more than half of the nation's exports and were the lifeblood of the railways, which dominated the state budgets. Farms provided hay and fodder, a main fuel for city transport in the era of the horse. Therefore a drought, by crippling these all-important rural industries, inflicted severe hardships on the cities as well as the countryside.

The Federation Drought, running roughly from 1894 to 1902, dwarfed today's drought in economic terms. The mighty wool industry, more important than mining is today, was crippled by drought and, to a smaller degree, falling prices. NSW in 1891 pastured 62 million sheep, but in the following 10 years that figure was halved. Queensland lost nearly two-thirds of its cattle. The economic effect on rural towns, and even on many Brisbane businesses, was crushing.

The Federation Drought was disappointing, partly because a generation had come to believe that much of its country was relatively reliable for grazing. They had heard such statisticians as Henry Hayter of Melbourne proclaim that there was no limit to the cattle and sheep that could feed contentedly in this continent.

Yancannia, west of the Darling, was one of the huge sheep stations that displayed the defiant new climate. In 1887 the station held a record flock of 171,000 sheep, though there was a tendency to overstock. Then the seasons turned turtle. For the 14 years to 1890 the rainfall averaged 12 inches (about 305mm), but for the next 20 years it averaged just over seven inches, much of which fell in cloudbursts. In the 1890s alone the sheep numbers fell by two-thirds, though the rabbits did not. The old wool port of Wilcannia, as a local historian noted, "was left without even the few inches that would float a paddle-boat". Most of that huge district fell officially into the hands of the receivers, namely banks and finance companies. In contrast, no bank today is heavily weighed down by the burden of worthless rural properties.

Many pastoralists tried to move their flocks and herds to distant regions offering some grass and water. The sides of many bush roads, however, were soon littered with animal bones. In 1899 near Rockhampton, 11,000 sheep died on one short journey.

The drought was so severe that nearly all traffic on many outback roads was halted. Typically, the policeman at Innamincka reported that a teamster had been on his way from Farina but so many of his 84 horses had died that he was forced to abandon the three wagons. That was even before the drought became acute.

On some sheep stations there was no shearing at the appointed time because the shearers could not get through. In others there was no work because the sheep had died. In 1901 the protector of Aborigines for west Queensland travelled 1600km and found even the wildlife had largely vanished. He counted seven bustards, five kangaroos and one emu during that long journey.

The camels took over much of the carrying as the drought intensified. In at least half of the nation the camel became the main carrier. In 1963 I interviewed a man who had become a camel teamster at the back of Marble Bar a half-century previously. He said the far outback "would have broken down" but for the camels.

The year 1902 was possibly the worst experienced by wheat farmers. In the two big wheat-exporting states, NSW and Victoria, the yield was pathetic. For a time, much of the flour used in Australian bakeries came from Indian, Brazilian, Argentinian and especially American wheat.

Towards the end of that drought a young NSW poet, Dorothea Mackellar, wrote verses that became almost a nationalist war cry for a later generation. She affirmed, "I love a sunburnt country". While declaring her affections she was also making a revolutionary statement in the eyes of many farmers struggling to make a living. They did not want a sunburnt country.

The cities, most of them, suffered from the Federation Drought. They coped largely because, by today's standards, they consumed little water. About three of every four houses in Australia had no sewerage. At a guess, two of every three Australians bathed only once a week, and family members used the same water, one after the other. City residents did not expect to water their lawns in a drought, while their vegetable gardens - more extensive than in today's back yards - were often watered with a bucket.

It may be argued that the drought would have been less harmful if there had been a mining boom like ours. In fact, extending from Mt Lyell in Tasmania to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and Charters Towers in Queensland, a vigorous mining boom was bubbling alongside the drought.

That boom was not enough to tint the overall picture, for the inescapable fact was that Australia's economy depended, then more than now, on adequate rains. Today Australia has prosperity alongside a severe drought. In 1900 that combination was impossible.

This is one of the stark differences between that drought and this. The economy today is so buoyant that governments can afford to pay for drought relief - more than has been so far given. During the Federation Drought there was little money to pay for drought relief.

Though the total Australian economy had been hit by the bank crashes in 1893 and by falling commodity prices in the next few years, the long drought deepened and prolonged the Depression. Europeans did not wish to emigrate to such a drought-stricken land. In the 10 years from 1896, Australia's net gain from migration averaged a pitiful 500 people a year. Once the drought was over, immigration soared.

Such a punitive drought spurred a crusade to build large reservoirs to supply cities, towns and farms. It led to a new emphasis on irrigation. That great national era of dam-building finally came to an end around 1980, after multiplying the available water a thousandfold. This present drought in the cities and large parts of the farming country is more manageable because of what earlier Australians constructed.

It is very difficult to compare even the bare statistics of droughts since each has a different shape and longevity. As a broad generalisation, this drought in most farming areas has run for only two-thirds of the time of the Federation Drought: say five years compared to eight or nine years. But this drought is persisting.

In Victoria this drought is entrenched, having commenced about nine years ago. But it is still too early to say whether, measured in rainfall alone, it is worse than the drought of 1894-1902. Significantly, Victoria has experienced many of its dry years during this latest half-century, and 2006 is likely to be one of its worst. Perth, like Melbourne, has its own pattern, and its recent run of dry years has been long.

The huge Murray-Darling Basin, the most productive rural area on the continent, has been hit particularly hard by this drought. This year the overall rainfall across the basin is not quite as low as in 1902 but the runoff into the Murray River is much lower. Here is the heartland of the present drought, indeed of several earlier droughts.

Maybe the majority of climate scientists are pessimistic about Australia's future climate. Public opinion has caught this mood, less perhaps from the scientists than from the way the radio and TV media condense and package the daily news. Public opinion believes that global warming and Australian droughts go hand in hand. Therefore the public will be surprised to learn that, across Australia as a whole, this year will not go down as one of extremely low rainfall.

The past 15 years of rising temperatures have not been a period of exceptional water scarcity. Ours is not the 15-year period receiving the lowest rainfall: that record belongs to the Federation Drought and its aftermath. On the other hand, the loss of water through evaporation is probably higher than in 1900, though there are no nationwide statistics to confirm this.

This drought, with its bushfires, is formidable. More important, it is not yet over. But this is no justification for exaggerating its magnitude. The Federation Drought, in its social and economic impact on the nation, was far more devastating. That verdict will probably remain true, even if this drought continues for several years.



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007


A leading German utility has abandoned plans to convert a British power station to run on palm oil, in a blow to the promotion of biofuels in Europe. The decision by RWE npower to scrap the project at its Littlebrook plant in Dartford, Kent, which was seen as a test case for palm oil as an alternative energy source, comes after it was unable to secure sufficient supplies without risking damage to tropical rainforest. The move highlights the mounting alarm over the scramble in South-East Asia to bring more land into palm oil cultivation.

Widely used in processed foods, such as margarine, and in cosmetics, palm oil is burning bright on commodity exchanges. The price in Rotterdam soared to an eight-year high last week of $620 per tonne, buoyed by fears that floods in Malaysia would damage production. It has risen by more than 50 per cent over the past year in expectation that the burgeoning market for biodiesel will transform a previously dull commodity into the fuel of the future.

The Indonesian Government has signalled that 40 per cent of its palm oil crop will be designated for biofuel production in an attempt to reduce the country's reliance on crude oil.

RWE npower had hoped that palm oil would produce electricity in a carbon-neutral process that would not add to greenhouse gas emissions. According to a spokesman for RWE npower, the process works but the company was unable to guarantee that enough palm oil could be bought from sustainable plantations. "There wasn't enough palm oil that we could demonstrate was sustainable," the spokesman said. "The bottom line is: are you contributing to global warming by chopping down rainforest?" The company hired independent auditors to establish whether palm plantations in Malaysia could be accredited to standards set by the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil, an organisation committed to promoting a sustainable palm oil industry.

Close attention paid to the RWE project by environmental groups, such as Friends of the Earth, did help to tip the balance against palm oil, RWE's spokesman admitted. The environmental group claims that 87 per cent of deforestation in Malaysia between 1985 and 2000 was caused by palm oil plantations. Other groups, such as World Wide Fund for Nature, have mounted vigorous campaigns to save the orang-utan, which is threatened by deforestation in Indonesia.

Further opposition is brewing in the European Parliament, which is considering a ban on imports of non-sustainable palm oil. This stance brings it into conflict with the European Commission, which is anxious to promote biofuels in its drive to reduce European carbon emissions. Public concern about rainforest wildlife is ringing alarm bells among UK supermarket groups. Several groups have joined the Round Table, hoping to develop an effective scheme that will guarantee sustainable palm oil.


Australia: Greenie dam-hatred now hits washing machines

Will we be told how often we can take a shower soon?

Victoria will lead a national push to have the sale of water-guzzling washing machines and shower heads banned. The crackdown comes as Melbourne had its first day of stage 3 restrictions and the state struggled to get on top of the water crisis, which has seen water storages drop to record lows. Acting Premier and Water Minister John Thwaites said the Government would turn its focus from outdoor water restrictions to indoor water savings, with 80 per cent of household water used indoors. "We can't do it alone, they're (the appliances) manufactured all over the country," Mr Thwaites said. He would approach all of Australia's state and federal water ministers to have all inefficient washing machine models and shower heads phased out.

And the Government hasn't ruled out expanding its rebate program to help Victorians cover the cost of replacing old washing machines with more efficient machines. "We are encouraging people to use low-water-use dishwashers and washing machines but we're not forcing it at this point because most people are choosing to use low-water devices," Mr Thwaites said. "But we will have to move to more severe regulation if that doesn't work."

Mr Thwaites was spruiking the Government's $1000 rebate for large water tanks yesterday, and reminded the public about rebates for people who replaced their old shower heads with low-flow heads. Melbourne has been on stage 3 restrictions for just a day, but it appears likely the city will go to unprecedented stage 4 restrictions, which ban all water use outside the home, by mid-April.

South East Water's 140 inspectors have the power to hand out on-the-spot fines for repeat offenders who breach water restrictions - and even to cut water supplies to a trickle to punish the worst offenders. The powers came into effect yesterday but South East Water refused to say how many people, if any, had been fined or had their supplies restricted. Until December 31, the government-owned water authority had warned 2000 people, but issued no fines against those who breached water restrictions, despite the Government's tough talk. South East Water managing director Dennis Cavagna said the authority believed education was the best way to address water restrictions. "We are keen to make sure people do comply and if they do flout them we will come down hard on them," he said. Mr Cavagna said the restrictions were equivalent to severe restrictions that were implemented in Melbourne in 1982 and 1983.

Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu maintained the need for a dam on the Maribyrnong, and said restrictions such as those in Melbourne didn't work. "We have barely been saving at all," he said. He said Melbourne should have been on stage 4 restrictions already. "The Government has left it all too late. They have done stuff-all," he said.


Oh dear! 2006 only 11th hottest year for Australia

How pesky for the Greenies. All that extra CO2 in the atmosphere and nothing to show for it! Hot one year and cold the next despite steadily rising CO2. Much fast-talking needed

Melbourne has had its driest year in almost 40 years and Australia had its 11th hottest year since reliable records began in 1910. Temperatures around Australia were almost half a degree above average last year and October was the warmest it had ever been. The Bureau of Meteorology's climate statement tomorrow is expected to say the nation's mean day and night temperature for the past 12 months was about 0.42C above average. While 2005 was the hottest ever (1.09C above average), the result for 2006 is still in line with trends towards higher temperatures.

Parliamentary secretary for the environment Greg Hunt said the pattern of warming was linked to the drought with higher rainfall in the north of the country and lower in the south. [That sounds pretty pesky too] "What this shows is that there is an overwhelming need for water recycling to end the massive waste of water occurring not just in Melbourne but in east coast cities of Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast," Mr Hunt said. "It is almost unthinkable that we are wasting hundreds of billions of litres a year of recyclable water at a time both of drought and a longer-term trend to drying in the south."

Tomorrow's weather bureau statement will say Australian temperatures have risen, on average, about 1C since the middle of last century. Rainfall patterns have also changed with more rain in the northwest over the past 50 years and less in the east and southeast. Melbourne had its eighth driest year since records began in 1855. Just 437mm of rain fell in 2006, well below the annual average of 637mm. Regional centres were also well down with many registering their lowest rainfall. Shepparton, Albury-Wodonga, Sale and Ballarat all recorded record lows. A sprinkling of just 0.6mm in Melbourne on New Year's Eve brought the annual total to the lowest since 1967, when just 332mm of rain fell.

Weather bureau senior forecaster Scott Williams said Melbourne had not received above-average rainfall since 1996, when 777mm was recorded. "That was also the last time our water storages were above 80 per cent," he said. Melbourne's water levels stand at 38.9 per cent. Regional centres were even drier last year. Shepparton recorded a record low of just 183mm -- about a third of the 563mm annual average. In Albury-Wodonga, 290mm of rain fell in 2006 -- not even half the 737mm average. Ballarat, too, registered its lowest total with a mere 302mm, Bendigo had just 326mm. Other towns to have record lows include Nhill, Nathalia, Dookie, Benalla, Dargo, Drouin and Bonnie Doon. But yesterday brought fresh hope with scattered storms across the state. Maryborough had 11mm and Lake Eildon 4mm in the six hours to 3pm. And Licola, the tiny alpine town in the line of bushfires last month, enjoyed a New Year's Eve downpour of 28mm.


REALLY light cars could help with any energy crunch

According to the Peak Oil theorists, we are rapidly approaching the halfway point of world oil consumption. Since the second half of the world's oil supply is harder to get to than the first half, we can expect production to taper off long before the oil runs out. If the Peak Oil folks are right, the tapering off could begin any day now. And this is where things get silly. Many in the Peak Oil community are saying that the drop in oil production will cause civilization to collapse, that we not only won't be able to drive, but we won't have plastics, medicines, or even coal (since oil burning machines are used to mine coal).

On the other hand, the fear mongers are correct in noting that many of the proposed alternatives to fossil based oil are inadequate. The "hydrogen economy" is very impractical, dangerous, and expensive. Running our massive auto fleet on ethanol from corn would be devastating to the environment. Upgrading our public transportation system to European standards would be a gigantic capital expense for a bankrupt government, and would make this country more vulnerable to terrorists to boot.

There are easier solutions. Consider the typical American car. It is three to four thousand pounds of steel with a power plant capable of accelerating all that steel to interstate highway speeds in less than ten seconds. This is incredible overkill for propelling one or two people down a city street. Under city conditions, the giant power plant is barely running above idle; most of the energy burned is just for keeping the engine running. For someone living inside a city, the performance characteristics of a modern automobile are unnecessary 90+ percent of the time. A vehicle with Model T capabilities would be quite adequate. There is no need to surpass 30 mph on a city street.

Now, imagine building a car with Model T performance using modern materials - say, a tubular aluminum frame with a fabric covering - and a modern, efficient small engine. Such a vehicle could be propelled with ethanol or vegetable oil without over-farming the planet. But who would buy such a vehicle today? You would still need another vehicle for highway driving, or carrying more passengers and/or cargo. Shared ownership or rent-as-needed would work, but they are hardly worth the inconvenience when gasoline is under $3 per gallon.

This brings me back to the subject of New Year's Eve. It is rather dangerous putting a drunk behind the wheel of a 3000 pound car powered by 200 horses. But what about putting that drunk behind the wheel of a vehicle that is 1/5 the weight, and capable of going no faster than half interstate speed? This is a twenty fold reduction in kinetic energy! We could even equip our city cars with crushable foam bumpers or exterior air bags. To make such vehicles popular now, we need a separate licensing class. Make the vehicles illegal for highway use, but legal in the hands of those we don't trust with a full featured automobile: the drunk, the reckless and the aged.



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

2006: a bad year for climate fearmongers

Lubos Motl has some fun below

If you think that the format and logic of this text is childish, I tend to agree. But it was invented by RealClimate.ORG, not your humble correspondent... ;-)

The worst temperature news for the alarmists:

The worst hurricane news for the catastrophic global warming theorists:

The worst legal news for the environmental activists:

The #1 event in the climate science according to RealClimate.ORG:

The most inconvenient extraterrestrial news:

The most inconvenient news from the United Nations:

The event that has divided the ecofanatics most visibly:

The new insight that has divided climate fearmongers and other tree-huggers most profoundly:

The worst software of the year:

The brightest new celebrity contributing to the climate change analyses:

The most famous new French scientific climate skeptic:

The most distinguished scholar who became, on the contrary, a new global warming convert:

The most relevant climate policy report by a left-wing think tank:

The most honest statement by a director of an alarmist institute:

The oldest eminent physicist who has been a climate skeptic:

The most professional climate blog:

The best sold book by a student of John Wheeler:

The most "dangerous" technological idea that could mean that even the hypothetical global agreement that it is wise to cool down the Earth won't be enough to establish the world government and to cripple the world's economy:

The worst news for the proponents of the idea that the current warming was unprecedented:

The second worst news for the proponents of the idea that the current warming was unprecedented:

The insight of elementary school biology that is most inaccessible to the environmental believers and the best as well as the most irritating slogan of the year:

The most visible single emitter of carbon dioxide:

The most reproducible climate effect:

The most candid CEO:

The most inconvenient number about the attribution of the greenhouse effect:

The second most inconvenient number about the attribution:

The worst new pre-historical insight for climate fearmongers:

The most devastating finding falsifying the climate models that is 55 million years old:

The most unpleasant discovery that is more than 250 million years old:

The most deadly event killing citizens of a civilized country, similar to a heat wave:

The best athlete who hasn't yet been brainwashed:

The most inconvenient weather events:

The country with the highest number of record cold temperatures:

The most inconvenient news from cold regions:

The president with the most reasonable opinions about the climate:

The most interesting "alternative" framework to explain the weather patterns:

The hemisphere whose temperatures make it the most outspoken climate skeptic among the hemispheres:

The worst investment of a billionaire:

The worst news from the Roman empire:

The most influential propagandistic movie & the movie coining the most popular new adjective:

The most awkward assumption one must believe in order to think that it presents a strong argument:

The most educative fiction novel:

Too bad if the author has already seen the list without his entry. Thanks, Rafa, but this entry was really missing just because the book has already appeared in 2004. ;-)

The most cited old newspaper article whose lesson shouldn't be forgotten:

More seriously: these battles may be fun and indeed, they are fun. But unlike RealClimate.ORG, I don't believe that everything that happens always supports one direction of thinking and ridicules the opposite direction. There exist cool days as well as hot days, dangerous events as well as safe events, and no one should think that everything is just white and not black. Happy New Year!

UCI says burning trees cause cooling

So should we burn down all the trees?? Lubos Motl again draws attention to some pesky findings

What do you think that forest fires do with the temperature? If you were influenced by the recent massive wave of brainwashing, I think that you would guess that you obtain warming. The fire is hot and moreover, you release huge amounts of carbon dioxide that causes global warming, doesn't it?

James Randerson et al. from UCI have looked at this question using the scientific method. There have been previous papers about the subject that came to a different conclusion because they essentially neglected the albedo. Randerson and his collaborators have made the analysis a bit more carefully.

Their answer is that the forest fires increase the amount of snow and the reflectivity of the surface. If you take the average over Earth, this effect roughly cancels the greenhouse effect. If you're further from the equator where snow is common, the albedo wins and cooling is what you get.

The study printed in Nov 17th issue of Science also implies that some policies meant to prevent fires were actually contributing to warming: see e.g. this activity in Canada. Well, such things occur constantly whenever politicians and zealots become more powerful than scientists and reasonable people


Some of the loudest cries about global warming come from Churchill on Hudson Bay, whose economy is heavily dependent on planeloads of tourists intent on seeing the 900 local polar bears. Due to Churchill's proximity to international airline hubs, it's a more convenient and cheaper place to study and film bears, so it has become the de facto polar bear capital of the north. Most of the images we see of polar bears are from Hudson Bay.

This gives the misleading impression that the region's bears are typical. But in two respects they are quite distinct. The town lies at the southern edge of the polar bears' range and therefore the effects of climate change are different from the High Arctic, where most polar bears live. The Hudson Bay bears are unique in another way: they fast during six to eight months in a state of "walking hibernation".

If polar bears disappear, the tragedy will impact most on Inuit communities, where they play an important cultural, spiritual and economic role. Inuit and bears, the world's two pre-eminent hunters, are in competition for seals, whose birthing lairs can be found in pressure ridges that comprise only 2% of the sea ice. Drawn together by necessity, encounters between the predators are inevitable. Men hunt bears and bears hunt men.

Bears are also a source of food and clothing - the meat tastes like pork and polar bear storm trousers are significantly more durable than caribou furs. Each springtime, Inuit settlements allocate part of their bear quota to rich trophy-hunters whose fees boost the subsistence economy.

Polar bears might be more adaptable to climate change than supposed. Their almost-human intelligence and ingenuity has astonished observers. Glenn Williams, a former wildlife officer who monitored 2,500 bears in the vicinity at Arctic Bay on Baffin Island, recalled: "You can see them thinking all the time, like people. When you follow a bear's tracks along a ridge, he's always on the downwind side. Every time there's something higher, like rough ice or an iceberg, he always goes up it to look around. They use maybe eight different methods to catch ringed seals. They're just amazing animals." So perhaps we shouldn't write them off just yet.

More here

There's a bureaucrat in your trash

Once again, my hometown is raising the bar for nanny statism. Hopkinton, Massachusetts, home of the starting line for the Boston Marathon, apparently is very concerned about what its residents are throwing away.

Hopkinton made headlines in 2001, when the principal of my high school attempted to implement a tough new anti-smoking policy. It would have given teachers the power to suspend students for smoking - without catching them in the act - simply by testifying that the students smelled of smoke. I hope that I needn't explain why this is a bad idea. I can just imagine a non-smoking kid getting on the bad side of a teacher; is that a hint of cigarette smoke the teacher just detected on her pupil's jacket? How about a non-smoking student with parents or siblings who smoke, whose clothes have all been permeated with smoke in his home environment? He, too, could be suspended under this policy. Hey, the Supreme Court had it all wrong in Tinker v. Des Moines. Students do leave their constitutional rights at the door when they enter the school house, at least in Hopkinton!

Even though I was a student at Hopkinton High School at the time, I found out about this new smoking crackdown when a friend from Louisiana called to inform me that Rush Limbaugh had somehow found out about it, and was proceeding to have a field day making fun of my hometown. (I'm not really a fan of Rush, but I do have him to thank for nipping this draconian smoking policy in the bud when I was in high school. After he called my school principal a Nazi on his nationally syndicated radio show, she decided it was time to get a different job.)

Now, upon arriving home for the holidays, I was greeted with the news that Hopkinton now employs an Official Trash Bureaucrat! That's right, the Hopkinton Board of Selectpeople is very concerned. Hopkinton has mandatory curbside recycling. But the town government still worries that you might be throwing away things that you should be placing into that oh-so-earth-friendly green bin. So to address this pressing issue, they have commissioned the Hopkinton Recycling Officer to pick through your trash, just to make sure you're on the straight and narrow. What's the problem with that? You don't have anything to hide, now do you?

A little bit of history: originally, the recycling program in Hopkinton was a voluntary one. Residents voted to make curbside recycling services available along with their trash pickup, and were told it would only cost each household an extra $1 per year. "Great idea!" they exclaimed, and enthusiastically adopted the new service. Little did they know that the program would eventually become mandatory, with its own enforcer to give the ordinance some teeth! According to a police report I found online:

Thursday, August 24, 2006

7:19 am A caller from B Street reported that an older white male was going through her trash and when he was questioned he stated that he was the town recycling inspector and then left in a maroon Jeep Liberty. Officer Patrick O'Brien stopped the vehicle on Cedar Street and he was the town recycling monitor.

I'm left with some burning questions. How exactly did this ordinance get passed? Were people just oblivious as to what their town government was doing, or was it approved by Hopkinton's governors at some closed-door, midnight session, as congress is so fond of doing? Do those who appointed the recycling enforcer get their trash scrutinized, too? How much does it cost the townspeople in property taxes (putting aside, for a moment, the cost in personal liberty) to employ the trash police? And if this is a volunteer position, who would seek out this type of job? I think the B Street resident above was rightly worried about privacy, especially given the prevalence of identity theft.

It seems that Hopkinton wants to keep its trashpicking bureaucrat hush-hush. Looking through this eleven-page list of town officials, I can't find a listing for Chief Trashpicker. Something smells rotten about this whole situation, but please, refrain from looking in any trash cans to find the source of the odor. Maybe you should instead turn your attention toward the Hopkinton town hall.



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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, January 01, 2007


This week the Bush administration proposed to list the polar bear as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. It's a futile gesture that only signals a weakening in the Bush administration's heretofore strong stance against global warming hysteria.

The proposal resulted from a lawsuit settlement the Bush administration reached in February with Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council. In return for these groups dropping their effort to force the Bush administration to grant polar bears "threatened" status under the ESA, the administration agreed to commence a rulemaking to list the bears.

This doesn't sound like much of a "deal" - and it's not. Though the proposal doesn't legally bind the Bush administration to list polar bears as threatened and the proposal will simmer for at least 12 months during which time the administration says it will seek more information and public comment, based on the fanfare accompanying the proposal's roll-out, it seems the listing is all but final.

Rather than issuing the proposal in a tentative and low-key manner, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne issued a media release and reigned over a press teleconference where he and the director of Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) touted the proposal. But they quickly lost control of the affair - not to mention their message. The major issue at the press conference became not whether the polar bear was truly endangered, but whether the rulemaking was a signal that the Bush administration was beginning to melt on global warming.

Before we get to the dominant issue of the press conference, however, let's first answer the key questions raised by the proposal. Are polar bears endangered? What would the proposal accomplish, given that we already protect polar bears under several laws and treaties?

There are no data indicating a downward trend in U.S. or global polar bear populations - that's according to the FWS' own fact sheet for the proposal. There apparently are some reports of lower-weight polar bears and reduced cub survival in certain areas, but there are no firm explanations for these reports and their significance is unknown.

Now here's the kicker: the U.S. government, the same one that now wants to classify the polar bears as "threatened," also sanctions the hunting of polar bears for trophies. In the proposal's media release, the FWS stated in an unconcerned, matter-of-fact fashion that, "[s]ome Native communities in arctic Canada also obtain significant financial benefits from allocating a portion of their overall subsistence quota to trophy hunters from the United States and other nations."

The FWS says that the projected threat to the polar bears is the future loss of their sea-ice habitat - this is the sole legal grounds for the proposed listing. Polar bears spend most of their lives on sea ice and recent data appear to indicate, according to the FWS, that sea ice in the Arctic Ocean is decreasing. The FWS even mentioned predictions of an ice-free Arctic Ocean "within the foreseeable future."

But such predictions and the potential consequences to polar bears are highly uncertain. No one knows exactly what's happening with Arctic sea ice, much less what the future holds. The Greenland ice melt, for example, was actually larger in 1991 than in 2005 and the Greenland ice cap is thickening. Data from the Canadian Ice Service indicate there has been no precipitous drop-off in ice cap amount or thickness since 1970.

Let's keep in mind that polar bears have survived much warmer times than we are now experiencing - like 1,000 years ago when the Vikings farmed Greenland during the Medieval Climate Optimum and 5,000-9,000 years ago during the period known as the Holocene Climate Optimum.

But even giving the proposal the benefit of the doubt, will it accomplish anything? When I asked Secretary Kempthorne that question - pointing out that even if the polar bear habit was shrinking because of melting ice there isn't a credible climate scientist in the world that believes anything could be done to stop the ice from melting, and that legalized polar bear harvesting seems to contradict any seriousness concerning threatened species status - the response delivered by the FWS director was not very reassuring.

In a bureaucratic tone that only government functionaries can muster, he said they were just following the law. But even that is debatable since the proposal's origins lie in the dubious deal cut with environmental activist groups.

The reporters at the ill-conceived and poorly-executed press conference were eager to interpret the proposal as a weakening of President Bush's position against global warming regulation. While Secretary Kempthorne and FWS staff repeatedly denied that the proposal was any sort of reflection on President Bush's policy, their denials sounded evasive rather than sincere.

The proposal will, in all likelihood, make it more difficult for the president to maintain his position against global warming regulation. As the Washington Post reported this week, "Identifying polar bears as threatened with extinction could have an enormous political and practical impact. As the world's largest bear and as an object of children's affection as well as Christmastime Coca-Cola commercials, the polar bear occupies an important place in the American psyche." It's distressing that the Bush administration is opening the door for the all-important issue of global warming regulation to be influenced more by our embrace of a soda mascot rather than science.


The Fiery Face of the Arctic Deep

Amid the latest polar bear panic I am reproducing a 2003 article that explains LOTS about the Arctic -- but no Greenie will ever mention it. Read it and I will point out some of the implications below.

Note that my leading post yesterday concerned Arctic ice sitting on land in Canada, Greenland and elsewhere. Today I am looking at sea-based (floating) Arctic ice. To Greenies they are all the same but that is what you expect of simplistic thinkers

Results from a German-American Arctic expedition to the Gakkel Ridge have implications for the understanding of the generation of new seafloor

The Gakkel ridge is a gigantic volcanic mountain chain stretching beneath the Arctic Ocean. With its deep valleys 5,500 meter beneath the sea surface and its 5,000 meter high summits, Gakkel ridge is far mightier than the Alps. This is the site of seafloor spreading that is actively separating Europe from North America, and was the goal of the international expedition AMORE (Arctic Mid-Ocean Ridge Expedition) with two research icebreakers, the "USCGC Healy" from USA and the German "PFS Polarstern". Aboard were scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and other international institutions. The scientists had expected that the Gakkel ridge would exhibit "anemic" magmatism. Instead, surprisingly strong magmatic activity in the West and the East of the ridge and one of the strongest hydrothermal activities ever seen at mid-ocean ridges were found. These results require a fundamental rethinking of the mechanisms of seafloor generation at midocean ridges (Nature, January 16 and June 26).

The Gakkel ridge extends about 1800 kilometers beneath the Arctic Ocean from north of Greenland to Siberia. It is the northernmost portion of the mid-ocean ridge system, the global 75,000 kilometer long volcanic chain where the ocean crust is generated by erupting magma. Because of its extremely slow spreading rate of about one centimeter per year, the slowest rate of any mid-ocean ridge and 20 times slower than the better explored East Pacific ridge, Gakkel ridge is of particular interest for scientists. It shows a number of unique phenomena that could give more information about the generation of new oceanic crust.

Current theories of oceanic crustal production predict that volcanic activity deminishes as the spreading rate of the tectonic plates decreases and only little or no hydrothermal activity. Instead, the scientists found high levels of volcanic activity. "We expected the volcanic activity to gradually decrease from West to East as the magmatic systems shut down. Instead, approximately in the middle of the survey area, the magmatism shut down completely, then dramatically increased," says Dr. Jonathan Snow, the leader of the research group from the Max Planck Institute. This group was responsible for the petrological and geochemical investigations.

Hydrothermal hot springs on the seafloor were also far more abundant than predicted. "We expected this to be a hydrothermally dead ridge, and almost every time our water measurement instrument came up, they showed evidence of hydrothermal activity, and once we even 'saw' an active hot spring on the sea floor," noted Jonathan Snow. The biologists on the expedition theorize that Arctic hydrothermal vent communities have been cut off from the rest of the worlds oceans for long periods of time, and may have conserved archaic forms.

The central region without magmatic activity is unique in the worlds mid-ocean ridges, having no volcanic crust whatsoever. Here, scientists can directly sample rocks belonging to the Earths upper mantle, which is covered on every other part of the globe by thousands of meters of crustal rocks. Some of these mantle rocks were unusually well preserved, "I just about fell off my chair the first time I saw them in the microscope," says Jonathan Snow, "some of these samples looked just as if they had been brought right from the upper mantle by magic, not even a trace of alteration by seawater."

The observations made at the Gakkel ridge demonstrate that volcanic activity in certain regions is not only dependant on the spreading rate. Other factors such as the chemical composition and the temperature of the mantle at depth must be taken into account when describing the behavior of mid-oceans ridges.

Source (H/T Ice Age Now)

Note how much the above explains. The sea-borne Arctic ice has undoubtedly been melting in recent years. Yet the land-borne ice in both Greenland and Antarctica has been thickening. There is very little comment about that oddity but the above work explains it: The melting sea ice is melting, not because of global warming, but because of vulcanism -- heat coming up from under it. Greenland and Antarctica are not affected by such vulcanism so they are not melting.

It also would seem to explain why SOME polar bear populations are decreasing. Most bear populations are doing fine or expanding but the ones dependant on sea-ice SHOULD be shrinking as the sea-ice shrinks.

For the benefit of any ignorant Greenie who might read this, I guess I should point out again a basic fact of physics: Even if the WHOLE of the sea-ice melted, it would not affect world sea-levels one iota. In other words, the bit of the Arctic that is melting doesn't matter.


And, by and large, more people mean more knowledge. The population explosion of the 20th century was certainly accompanied by a knowledge explosion

For a long time, economists believed that much of their job was to analyze a world of scarcity, the grim business of harvesting limited resources and distributing too few goods to too many people. And then there was the matter of decreasing returns to additional investment. Such returns were once "a familiar topic in economics," David Warsh tells us in "Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations." After all, "even the richest coal vein plays out."

Decreasing returns and scarcity animated the doomster wing of economics, of which Thomas Malthus was the principal architect. It was he who lamented overpopulation so famously, even ahead of Paul Ehrlich, and predicted bouts of "periodical misery" to adjust human numbers downward, putting them, at least now and then, in equilibrium with the world's limited riches.

Mr. Warsh, a former economics reporter for the Boston Globe, does not intend to mock earlier theories of political economy but to tell the story of their gradual refinement over time--especially as "one system of thought replaces another." He notes, for instance, that anti-Malthusian concepts central to the understanding of modern economic growth--abundance and the notion of "increasing returns"--came to compete with the scarcity school of thought. It is axiomatic to us, not least because of technology's marvelous effects, that "the same amount of work or sacrifice produces an increasing quantity of goods." But it was an idea that required special attention when it was first considered plausible.

The worry at first was that, in theory, increasing returns--where they proved possible--would create monopoly power. In Adam Smith's famous pin factory, division of labor and specialization yielded increasing returns. But why wouldn't the pin factory, or any other enterprise generating increasing returns, increase itself (so to speak) at the expense of every other enterprise of lesser aptitude and slower growth? Monopoly power would then undermine the competition that, in Smith's view, put markets on their virtuous path.

It remained a worry--and a conceptual conundrum--for a long time to come. Fifty years ago, the economist George Stigler framed the problem this way: "Either the division of labor is limited by the extent of the market, and, characteristically, industries are monopolized; or, industries are characteristically competitive." If they are indeed characteristically competitive, then the monopoly-threatening aspect of Adam Smith's view is, as Mr. Stigler noted, either "false or of little significance." Like many modern economists, he sided with the reliably competitive nature of industrial growth, and the fate of modern economies has borne him out.

But what about growth itself--especially the sustained economic growth that we now take for granted (however sluggish it may be at times)? At an informal academic conference in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1988--assembled by Jack Kemp, then a member of the House--the Stanford economist Paul Romer presented a paper that ultimately turned the economic thinking on its ear. In Mr. Romer's work, as Mr. Warsh puts it, "the concept of intellectual property was, if not exactly 'discovered,' then formally characterized for the first time in the context of growth." Mr. Romer saw that knowledge was "both an input and output of production."

Thus instead of land, labor and capital--the traditional inputs of economic theory--it was "people, ideas and things" that mattered, driving technological change and entrepreneurial creativity. "No longer were the advantages of technical superiority to be understood as a case of 'market failure,'" Mr. Warsh writes. "They were part of the rules of the game." Such superiority was by its nature temporary--i.e., nonmonopolistic. New knowledge constantly trumped old, and the law (rightly) gave ideas only limited property-protection.

More and more, economists came to see that it was knowledge that made the difference in modern societies--e.g., in software, drugs, industrial processes, biotechnology and other parts of the economy where the upfront costs were large, the payoffs enormous and the benefits widespread. Economists inevitably turned their attention to the institutions or invisible structures--constitutions, customs, property rights, cultural sentiments (like trust)--that help to generate knowledge and sustain its effects.

In his admirably compelling account of economic thinking over time--from Adam Smith to the present day--Mr. Warsh shows a certain partiality to abstract mathematical theory. He might have given more credit to the thinkers such as Friedrich Hayek, the great philosopher of freedom and opponent of central planning; or to historians such as Joel Mokyr, who has chronicled the effects (as the subtitle of one of his books has it) of "technological creativity and economic progress"; or to popularizers such as George Gilder, who has documented (and celebrated) the role of knowledge in economic growth, especially in our computer age.

Mr. Warsh does, though, quote the great British economist Alfred Marshall, who observed as early as 1890 that "knowledge is our most powerful engine of production; it enables us to subdue nature and force her to satisfy our wants." More than a century later, knowledge is still the true wealth of nations.


Australia's Inhofe?

Controversial Liberal backbencher Dennis Jensen has defied John Howard on climate change just months after the Prime Minister personally intervened to prevent him being ousted from his blue-ribbon Perth electorate of Tangney.

The former CSIRO scientist, who alarmed conservatives earlier this year when he said he would be happy to have a nuclear reactor in his electorate, has written to constituents to encourage them to be sceptical about global warming. Dr Jensen insists the argument over climate change is not clear-cut, despite the Prime Minister accepting that global warming is a real issue. Mr Howard has appointed a taskforce to examine the problem of greenhouse gas emissions.

"There have been many predictions of dire consequences if global warming is not tackled in time, but what are we tackling and will any initiatives we take have any effect?" Dr Jensen says in a letter posted on his electorate website. The letter and website contain links to a number of articles that question whether global warming is a recent phenomenon, including a savage critique of Al Gore's documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.

Article above from "The Australian" of December 30, 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 generally 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 Pages are here or here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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