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31 July, 2006

Public disservice: Melting myths

The last two weeks of July are normally the hottest of the year, so it's no surprise that we're being deluged with public-service announcements about the horrors of global warming. Radio and television stations are compelled to transmit these announcements at no charge because of a long-standing policy that they must provide "public good." "Don't Litter" and "Fasten Seat Belts" come to mind. Now the notion has been expanded to "Fight Global Warming." By defining it as something we all should fight, these announcements tell us warming must be bad — something no comprehensive treatise on the science and economics of climate change has ever demonstrated.

Ogilvy and Mather, a prestigious public-relations firm whose for-profit clients include IBM and Motorola, produced the global-warming ads for free on behalf of Environmental Defense, a major environmental nonprofit that clearly advocates certain types of global-warming legislation. Like their ads for Motorola, Ogilvy and Mather's global-warming announcements are clearly targeted towards sullen youth — a brilliant idea, considering the appallingly low level of scientific knowledge our children have in comparison to their counterparts around the world. But scientific exploration requires critical skepticism, and these ads are full of unquestioned certainties.

Perhaps the most egregious is a radio ad, called "The Gift." It mentions dying coral reefs, rising sea levels, melting ice caps, devastating floods, and hurricanes, and accuses us of leaving them all to our children. The ads ignore facts that are widely accepted in the scientific community. Take hurricanes. The frequency of category 4 and 5 storms — the really destructive ones — has increased as the planet warmed. Good sound bite, with only one problem: It's back to where it was in the 1940s and 1950s, long before human beings started warming things up.

In fact, as late as the 1970s, scientists were more concerned with planetary cooling, as revealed in the 1974 CIA report, "Potential implications of trends in world population, food production, and climate," that presented cooling-related food shortages as a major strategic threat. The report first appeared in public in the New York Times on May Day, 1976. Soon, global cooling abruptly reversed into global warming. Crop yields rose.

The public-service announcements are all similarly big on melting polar ice caps and consequent rises in sea level. The Arctic cap loses ice in the summer, but no one bothers to mention that we only began collecting data on it in 1979, at the end of the second-coldest period in the Arctic in a century. The ice had to be abnormally expanded then. It's also floating ice, and melting it and doesn't change sea level at all. And, for all the headlines about loss of ice in Greenland, which does contribute to rising sea levels, the mean temperature there was much higher from 1910 through 1940. Between then and the late 1990s, temperatures in southern Greenland — the region where ice is melting — declined sharply. One has to presume that Environmental Defense knows this.

Around the world, in Antarctica, for the last few decades, average temperatures across the continent have been going down. Snowfall has increased, resulting in more continental ice. In fact, every modern computer simulation of 21st century climate has Antarctica continuing to accrete ice.

Ogilvy and Mather marketed their public-service announcements through the Ad Council, whose website says that "reversing the global warming trend is possible." This suggests that humans have the power to turn planetary warming into cooling — a scientific absurdity. We have neither the technology, the means, the money, nor the political will to do this. Consider the Kyoto Protocol, a "baby step" in the fight against global warming. It "requires" the U.S. to reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide to seven percent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. Requirements vary by a percent or so for most other signatories such as Canada and the EU nations. Yet if every nation of the world met its Kyoto targets, the amount of warming that would be prevented is .07 degrees Celsius per half-century — an amount too small to even measure, as average surface temperatures fluctuate by about twice that much from year to year.

Neither the U.S. nor the EU nor virtually anyone else will be able to fulfill the Kyoto targets. EU emissions rose last year, while U.S. emissions remained unchanged. "Reversing" warming would require reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by 60-80 percent, which is simply impossible. The world economy would implode. Ogilvy and Mather's corporate website feature a quote from founder David Ogilvy: "We pursue knowledge the way a pig pursues truffles." But what about knowledge on hurricanes, ice caps, and the real possibilities with respect to global warming? The best course is one in which we continue to use our economic wherewithal to invest in successful companies, which are generally those that produce things efficiently or produce efficient things. Stating that would be a public service. The ads you're seeing and hearing are not.


It's time to drill for natural gas

Gas prices are too high. We can all agree on that. We hear a lot of complaints about how much we are paying to keep our cars moving. But what we don't hear much about is the astronomical increase in the price of natural gas. Since 2000, natural gas prices have more than tripled. That is a hefty hike. Why would we want to remain dependent on anyone else for that which we can provide for ourselves? It's time for us all to ask that question. It is a simple matter of Economics 101, Supply and Demand. Domestic gas production is in decline while demand has increased by 31%. More than 95% of new power plants are gas fired. Where is the gas going to come from if this decline continues?

It doesn't have to be this way, but because of governmental red tape we have a gas crisis. America has great energy potential and specifically North Carolina has the potential to end the crisis here. The Department of the Interior estimates that there is enough natural gas to sustain current production for 75 more years, resting off of our shoreline. It is estimated that North Carolina alone has 36 trillion feet of natural gas off of our coast.

We hear many elected officials lamenting over the loss of jobs in our country. Now there is an opportunity to do something about it. Since the natural gas crisis began in 2000, the US has lost more than 2.8 million manufacturing jobs. North Carolina has suffered many of those losses. Some industries have suffered more than others and many of those industries are right here in North Carolina. Let's take a look at some of the industries that have been especially hard hit.

* Agriculture - Since 2000, 36% of the nitrogen fertilizer plants dependent on natural gas have been shut down or mothballed. The agriculture industry spent $6.2 billion on energy in 2003-2004-16% of production costs.

* Plastics - The plastics sector has lost more than 150,000 jobs and $14.6 billion in business to other countries from 2000 to 2002.

* Chemical - Since 2000, America's chemical sector has lost nearly 90,000 jobs and $50 billion in business to overseas operations.

* Forest/Paper - The forest and paper industry has closed 200 mills and lost 146,000 jobs since the run-up in natural gas prices began.

Congress has an opportunity to remedy this situation. The Senate will be voting within the next few days on legislation that can allow us to become energy independent. Passage of such legislation would bring energy costs down, reduce reliance on foreign energy and bring jobs to North Carolina. I think it's time to do the responsible thing and help our state with a recovery plan to produce natural gas.



By ex-Marxist Mick Hume -- writing from Britain

RIGHT, get your sun-addled brain around this vicious circle. Environmentalists and the authorities argue that the recent heat waves demonstrate the extent of man-made global warming. If that's true, then we must need more air-conditioning to cope. But oh no, they tell us, that will cause - you've guessed it - man-made global warming. Verily, they want us to suffer for our sins. The old puritans cautioned only that we would burn in Hell in the next life. The neo-puritans tell us we must burn on Earth in this one.

Air-conditioning and refrigeration do indeed account for a lot of energy. But then, they are technological cornerstones of modern civilisation. Much of the world as we know it would be uninhabitable without air-con. The booming growth of the American South in the past half-century, from the metropolis of Los Angeles to the space centre of Houston, has been possible only because air-con is ubiquitous there. The UK is hardly California. But we need air-conditioning now almost regardless of the weather, as the success of domestic insulation schemes (ironically, to save energy) means that the problem is less heating up our homes than cooling them down.

Yet the belated spread of air-con over here is greeted with a hum of warnings about global warming. This heated debate typifies the doom-clouded climate. Even if we were to accept the eco-arguments, surely they highlight the need for humanity to adapt so it can thrive in a hotter world. We need to produce more and better air-con and refrigeration technologies, and more energy to power them. Instead, we get sermonising from those who seem less interested in the complex science of climate change than the simple moral parable of man-made global warming.

As far back as the world fairs of the 1930s - Chicago's "A Century of Progress" and New York's "Building the World of Tomorrow" - home air-con was lauded as a product of the future available today. I have just returned from a Turkish village where every apartment seems to have it. Yet in London, Olympic city of the 21st century, we are expected to swelter in our Victorian sweatboxes, and an electricity company has the cheek to claim too much air-con helped to cause yesterday's power cut in Soho. Meanwhile, in California, the world's air-con capital, rackety energy supplies threaten blackouts every time people turn up the dial. These shortcomings really are man-made disasters, and action to change things is needed now.

Let the neo-puritans stick their heads in a bucket of cold water. Some of us would rather put our faith in the miracle of man-made indoor climate change that is air-conditioning.



For California, sporadic blasts of withering heat are as typical as earthquakes. Not new. Not unexpected. But able to dominate our days, our nights and our conversations with an oppressive drumbeat of discomfort. So those who study weather and climate weren't surprised to be asked repeatedly if the recent stretch of killing heat was yet another effect of global warming.

Their short answer is, if so, global climate change would be just one factor stirred into a confounding brew of other effects, including the routine variability of weather. "There certainly is global warming, but . it's not like every summer is going to be like this one," said Jan Null, a Bay Area meteorologist. The changes are likelier to come in fractions of a degree each decade. "Back in '97 and '98, everything was El Ni¤o," said Null, who teaches meteorology at San Francisco State University and runs his own consulting firm. "The media likes easy labels to put on events. They don't like to hear, 'Well, this is just a normal cycle.' " Null leans toward blaming the normal cycle for Sacramento's record-breaking string of 100-degrees-or more days, noting that as recently as spring, the capital region was much cooler than usual instead of warmer.

Sacramento suffered through 11 days of 100 degrees or higher, easily surpassing the previous nine-day record, before the latest heat wave broke on Thursday. While records show the capital's longest hot spells have clustered largely in the past two decades, that doesn't necessarily tell us anything about global climate, said Jim Ashby, a climatologist with the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno.

A different man-made weather change could be warming Sacramento, Ashby suggested. Concrete and asphalt trap heat during the day and retain it overnight much longer than dirt and trees, creating the well-known "urban heat island" effect. Some rapidly growing cities, including Reno, are seeing much warmer nights than they used to and fewer overnight freezes, both clearly caused by urban development, he said. Like the vast majority of climate experts, Ashby believes there is overwhelming evidence that Earth's atmosphere is getting hotter. He stresses, though, that looking for global warming's effects in any fast-growing city is particularly tough because of urban heat islands.

There are other complications, too. Equipment changes over the decades. Mercury and alcohol thermometers have been replaced with twitchier digital ones. Measuring sites move, and Sacramento's has been especially active. The city's temperatures were taken from five different downtown sites before being monitored for decades from a post office's tarred roof, a spot ultimately abandoned for giving unusually warm readings, said Weather Service forecaster George Cline. Since 1999, Sacramento's weather has been recorded by equipment tucked away at a water treatment plant near California State University, Sacramento.

Different surroundings -- how much grass, how many trees, how much asphalt -- can easily alter temperature readings by a couple of degrees, potentially changing a 99-degree day to a 100-plus scorcher. Even irrigation can affect the weather, said Bryan Weare, a professor of atmospheric science at UC Davis. Just as paving drives up temperatures, water in the soil sends them down, and irrigation appears to have reduced summer highs for much of the Central Valley over the past 100 years, Weare said. That's just a reminder, he and others said, that no one year, no one hot spell, is evidence of much of anything.



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

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

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


30 July, 2006

The real cause of blackouts

Sometimes (well, often) you just want to say: down with the state! Consider that an outburst, the kind you feel like making when the lights won't come on. And the heat wave - and the public utility response - is the news that prompts it. All last week, major parts of Queens, New York, were without electricity following a failure of power that plunged major parts of the city into darkness amidst sweltering heat for more than a week. For many, it was the Ten Days of Hell. There were thousands who were without air conditioning, lights, refrigeration, internet connections, and, well, modern life generally.

And get this: no one is sure why, precisely, it happened, other than to say that the system became overloaded. What will happen as a result? Hearings, reports, meetings, yammering, resolutions, reforms, and, in time, another blackout followed by hearings, reports, meetings, etc., all of which will be filed in that huge warehouse where all the other reports on past blackouts reside.

What do the consumers do about it? They follow the news and keep paying the bills, to the same company that let them down. They can't switch. They can't influence the production process. They are powerless in more ways than one. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, California residents are putting up with blackouts, threats of more blackouts, denunciations from politicians, and even death: 56 people so far. All because of a heat wave, and all because the structure of the industry is not designed for extremes.

Now, if markets were in charge, a heat wave would not be looked at as a problem but an opportunity. Entrepreneurs would be swarming to meet demand, just as they do in every other sector that is controlled by markets. The power companies would be praying for heat waves! After all, do shoe manufacturers see a massive increase in footwear demand as a problem? Do fast food companies see lunchtime munchies as a terrible threat? On the contrary, these are profit opportunities.

Just who is in charge of getting electricity to residents? A public utility, which, in the absurd American lexicon, means "state-run" and "state-managed," perhaps with a veneer of private trappings. If you look at the electrical grid on a map, it is organized by region. If you look at the jurisdiction of management, it is organized by political boundaries. In other ways, the provision of power is organized precisely how a central planner of the old school might plan something: not according to economics but according to some textbook idea of how to be "organized." It is "organized" the same way the Soviets organized grain production or the New Deal organized bridge building.

All centralization and cartelization began nearly a century ago, as Robert Bradley points out in Energy: The Master Resource, when industry leaders obtained what was known as a regulatory covenant. They received franchise protection from market competition in exchange for which they agreed to price controls based on a cost-plus formula - a formula that survives to this day. Then the economists got involved ex-post and declared that electrical power has been considered a "public good," under the belief that private enterprise is not up to the job of providing the essentials of life.

What industry leaders received from this pact with the devil was a certain level of cartel-like protection, the same type that the English crown granted tea or the US government grants first-class postal mail. It is a government privilege that subjects them to regulation and immunizes companies from business failure. It's great for a handful of producers, but not so great for everyone else.

There are many costs. Customers are not in charge. They are courted only for political reasons but they are not the first concern of the production process. Entrepreneurial development is hindered. Our current system of electrical provision is stuck in time. Meanwhile, sectors that provide DSL and other forms of internet and telecommunication services are expanded and advancing day by day - not with perfect results but at least with the desire to serve consumers.

In markets, we aren't denounced for our "consumerism" and "greed"; if anything, it is courted and encouraged. Indeed, isn't this why markets are denounced? They encourage consumers to spend, spend, spend, consume, consume, consume. Well, think about the alternative. It exists right now with electrical provision. We are denounced for not wanting to live in 90-degree houses and sleep in puddles of sweat.

How New York and California consumers would adore a setting in which power companies were begging for their business and encouraged them to turn down their thermostats to the coldest point. Competition would lead to price reductions, innovation, and ever more variety of services - the same as we find in the computer industry.

What we are learning in our times is that no essential sector of life can be entrusted to the state. Energy is far too important to the very core of life to be administered by a bureaucracy that lacks the economic means to provide for the public. How it should be organized should be left to the markets. We can't say in advance. Whatever the result, you can bet the grid would not look like it does today, nor would its management be dependent on the whims of political jurisdiction.

What we need today is full, radical, complete, uncompromised deregulation and privatization. We need competition. That doesn't mean that we need two or more companies serving every market (though that was common up through the 1960s). What we need is the absence of legal barriers to enter the market. If that market is served by a single company, fine. Competition exists so long as the state is not prohibiting other companies from trying their hand.

More here

Hurricane expert queries global warming

Chris Landsea comes out fighting again

Historical data on hurricanes is not accurate enough to conclude that they are becoming more ferocious or that global warming is to blame, as some studies have suggested, a noted storm researcher says. In an article published in the journal Science, Chris Landsea, a leading researcher at the US National Hurricane Centre, challenged studies that found a dramatic jump in hurricane intensity in recent years. The paper is the latest salvo in the debate among climate scientists on whether human-induced global warming is producing stronger hurricanes.

The argument reached boiling point during last year's record-shattering Atlantic hurricane season, which produced 28 tropical storms and hurricanes including, for the first time in a single season, four of the most destructive Category 5s. Because of improvements in technology, including more and better satellites, forecasters now produce more accurate estimates of a storm's power, which could mean more hurricanes are now recognised as powerful Category 4 and 5 storms, Mr Landsea said. "It's a consequence of us better monitoring things the last 15 years than we did back in the '70s and '80s," he said.

Some climate scientists argue that global warming is causing more intense hurricanes, which draw their energy from warm sea water. Sea surface temperatures have increased about 0.55C in the past three decades, they say. Last year, respected researcher Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology wrote in Nature magazine that the energy dissipated by hurricanes in the North Atlantic had doubled in the past 30 years. Another study, by Georgia Institute of Technology researchers and published in Science, found the proportion of hurricanes reaching Category 4 and 5 had nearly doubled in the past 35 years.

Mr Landsea is among a group of scientists who say the impact of global warming on hurricanes is not clear, and the studies do not account for inaccurate information in storm databases. "It's not to say that global warming isn't causing changes. I don't dispute the fact that global warming is going on or that it can have an impact on hurricanes," Mr Landsea said. He said researchers had data from only two geostationary satellites to monitor storms in 1975. Now, much better pictures were available from eight satellites. Today's scientists could get readings on hurricanes around the clock, where only daylight images were available decades ago. Together, the technology changes meant forecasters were more likely than in the past to determine that a hurricane had higher winds. "The hurricane doesn't change. But you're getting a better analysis of how strong that hurricane is," Mr Landsea said.

The Science article said reanalysis of historic data had found about 70 previously unrecognised Category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the eastern hemisphere from 1978 to 1990. Such a finding would weaken the argument that the number of intense hurricanes is rising. "For some of the storms in the north Indian Ocean, if they were to occur today, we would say they are Category 4 or 5 and yet they are listed in the data as Category 3 or weaker," Mr Landsea said. A cyclone that hit Bangladesh in 1970 and killed up to 500,000 people was not even listed as a hurricane, he said.


Stupid British Leftists ignore reality

Leftists are good at that

Whatever we say or do, they will burn the coal. Neither preaching nor politics will stop the mining and burning. Furnaces will be stoked, hydrogen molecules will ignite and millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide will be released as China and India burn the fuel that lies under their feet. This simple truth, which stands out like a sore thumb from any book of energy statistics, is ignored by our Government, which has turned the pursuit of carbon-free energy into a moral crusade. Yesterday, after years of prevarication, the Prime Minister's energy review backed the construction of nuclear reactors to replace ageing plant soon to be decommissioned. No more pandering to the green lobby (the Cabinet's own Greens were sacked or sidelined), because Tony Blair has belatedly discovered a gaping hole in the nation's future power supply which cannot otherwise be filled except by fossil fuels.

There will be lots more windmills and more nukes, because the Government believes reducing carbon is a moral issue, like binge drinking. This absolutist view is shared by few nations and acted on by none, bar one. Britain was alone in imposing onerous carbon limits on industry in the EU's carbon trading scheme. Most of Europe was lenient, setting easy targets for emission reduction, and as a result the price of a carbon permit fell sharply - the cost of pollution fell.

What happened? The price mechanism came into operation. Britain's power generators looked at the price of coal - cheap. They looked at the price of carbon permits - cheap. The price of gas - expensive. Power companies stuffed their coal-burning generators to the brim, earning a mint from the widening "dark spread", the margin between the cost of coal and the price of a kilowatt of power. Power companies everywhere are looking at the fattening "dark spread" and comparing it to the thinner "spark spread" and "quark spread", respectively the margins from gas or nuclear power generation.

Global coal consumption rose by 5 per cent in 2005, a year in which the overall rate of growth in energy consumption declined from 4.4 per cent to 2.7 per cent, according to BP's Statistical Review of World Energy. More coal means more carbon and global emissions rose 3 per cent, higher than the rate of energy use. Oil and gas are dear, so the world is looking for a cheap burn and the price mechanism, always reliable, is pointing to coal. There is an awful lot of it about - 155 years of proven coal reserves compared with 41 years of oil and 65 years of gas at current consumption rates.

How can we persuade power generators not to burn the naughty, carbon-rich but inexpensive fuel? In the absence of an outright ban on coal, there must be a price disincentive that makes virginal windmills, and whizzy atoms look a bit less the Rolls-Royce option. We fall back on emissions trading, but is the rest of Europe in the mood for expensive power? Where is our Government's strategy to persuade the entire world that coal is bad? Moreover, the coal is exactly where we need it most. It is not owned by troublesome sheikhs but by Australians and South Africans. Most of the world's coal is owned by by the biggest consumer; America has 27 per cent of the known coal deposits, some 240 years' worth.

And here is the final rub. China has 13 per cent of the world's coal and India 10 per cent. They scour the world for oil and gas, having little of their own. Both nations have a burgeoning requirement for fuel; India suffers a massive power deficit which will be satisfied, in large part, by burning coal in new power stations. What is to be done? There is emerging technology, still expensive, to extract clean fuels from coal. But, we cannot ask these nations not to burn coal, not to light their homes, not to become affluent, urban consumers like us. Morally, politically, rationally, it is not a sustainable argument.

There was a time when Britain had a useful, instead of a preachy role in the world. It was at the dawn of nuclear power when Calder Hall, the first commercial reactor, was commissioned in 1956. Nuclear engineering has suffered since, banished by ideologues and buried in economic decline. It is affluent, wealthy countries that clean up the environment and develop new energy technologies. There is an easy way to emit less carbon - become poor.


When the wind stops blowing

A new form of renewable energy has come on stream in the UK: the incandescent environmentalist. Once started, it lasts forever, but tends to generate far more heat than light. In a startling outbreak of long-term thinking, the Government has made clear its belief that nuclear power must be part of Britain's energy mix. Yet to judge by the furious response of environmentalists, you would think Blair had declared Britain must go 100 per cent nuclear. Not at all: the energy review makes clear renewables should also have a role in ensuring diversity of supply.

Environmentalists have always had problems distinguishing fact from fantasy in their attitude to nuclear power. For them, all nuclear reactors are like the one that exploded at Chernobyl, and all of them are underwritten by huge government subsidies.

For those whose world view has failed to move on since the Summer of Love, such beliefs are at least partly excusable. Back then, the Soviet Union did build a number of dodgy Chernobyl-style reactors, and the industry received massive hand-outs. But that was then. Chernobyl-type reactors - built in the face of bitter protests from western experts - have gone the same way as the Soviet Union. Today's nuclear power reactors have an impeccable track record, and are so efficient that the French company EDF says it will build Britain's next generation without the need for subsidy.

Compare that to renewables, which receive an estimated one billion pounds a year in handouts. And when Germany's wind-farms were hit by a six-hour lull in November 2003, the nation suddenly lost the equivalent of three conventional power stations. The eco-warrior view of all things nuclear has not shifted since the publication of When the Wind Blows. But even then it was clear nuclear power keeps going when the wind stops.



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

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

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


29 July, 2006

Obligatory global warming scares of the day

Post lifted from Reason to Freedom

Warming Warning causes 139-car chain-reaction pileup on Ventura Freeway.

When scientists at the Golden State Global Warming Detection and Advanced Warning Center in Palo Alto detected a sudden, sharp increase of .0013 degree Celsius in the Global Warming Temperature Index (GWTI), they immediately initiated a Warming Alert, which caused all of the Warming Warning sirens in coastal Southern California to go off and emergency alerts to be broadcast over all media including XM radios, cell phones and iPods. Many drivers panicked and hit their brakes, causing a multi-car smashup that went on for thirteen minutes. No fatalities were recorded, but first-responders reported thirty-two cases of airbag deployment facial burns and at least seven incidents of hyperventilation. Most victims were treated at the scene and released back into their SUVs.

Eco-historians discover evidence of manmade global warming.

The common bow-and-arrow was the preferred "environmentally friendly" way of killing people for centuries, say eco-archeologists. However, the crossbow, a Chinese invention introduced into Europe in the 11th century, chucked iron bolts through the air at speeds greater than any manmade objects in the prior history of manmade objects. This human activity rent the ether and disrupted the celestial firmament, which contributed to the demise of the Little Ice Age (which most public school educated people have never heard of) and caused a return to "normal" temperatures which today we refer to as "global warming," a condition that will, among other things, allow England to once again develop vineyards and "fine English table wines" as was common before Global Cooling destroyed them.

Increased crime caused by GW-enhanced "fuller moon" effect

Crime increases during a full moon. But global warming, scientists say, has caused the moon to be even fuller than in the past. Here's how it all works, according to eco-urology specialist Albedo Greenhouse: human destruction of forests causes more birds to spend more time airborne. Flying birds urinate, leaving uric acid droplets suspended in the air. These droplets act as tiny magnifiers, which cause a full moon to appear even fuller than normal. Since the full moon causes crime, a fuller moon causes even more crime. While studies conducted over the years have completely pooh-poohed the notion that crime is affected by the full moon, Greenhouse pooh-poohs the pooh-poohing. "My studies say this all happens as I say it happens," insists Greenhouse, "and it must be true because the mainstream media printed it."

GW behind surge in silver screen pollution

Empirical evidence alone identifies the public's irrational fears about global warming as the primary trigger for the deluge of low budget, incredibly stupid made-for-TV Shlockbusters featuring old has-been and young unknown wannabe actors playing second fiddle to special effects such as blizzards, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, locust swarms and yet more remakes of cruise ships turned upside down by tsunamis. These movies teach us that when the earth is destroyed through our own arrogant refusal to pay higher ticket prices, the destruction of tall buildings will look suspiciously like old footage from The Towering Inferno and at least thirteen early Godzilla movies.

GW causes mental disease in otherwise healthy individuals

People who identify themselves as libertarians tend to be deeply skeptical of global warming claims because every "cure" inevitably demands colossal socialist-fascist style big government central planning schemes requiring massive infusions of our taxbucks and the total annihilation of all individual freedom. This suspicion generally renders libertarians resistant to a severe psychosis identified by psycho-political epidemiologists as "eco-obsessive syndrome." The disease typically manifests itself when the afflicted person babbles phrases beginning with "If I was president I'd force everyone to ." and then degenerates into incoherent gibberish featuring any of the following delusional clich‚s: ". recycle, bicycle, eat organic, worship Gaia, wear hair shirts, pretend the global cooling hysteria of the 60s never happened while riding in limousines to Hollywood fundraising dinners for future President and Planetary Savior Al Gore."

Unearthly warming disaster

Feeling completely left out of the GW mania that has made ecologists seem important and sexy, a group of astronomers has announced that the seasonal planet-wide dust storms on Mars is caused by global warming. Their proof rests on the unassailable evidence that they said it and the mainstream media printed it.

Bird flu

Global Warming will be the cause of the bird flu pandemic that hasn't swept America yet. This cannot be proved. But it is true nonetheless because some eco-hysteric said so and the mainstream media printed it.


Georgia Tech researchers have created a new combustor (combustion chamber where fuel is burned to power an engine or gas turbine) designed to burn fuel in a wide range of devices ? with next to no emission of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO), two of the primary causes of air pollution. The device has a simpler design than existing state-of-the-art combustors and could be manufactured and maintained at a much lower cost, making it more affordable in everything from jet engines and power plants to home water heaters.

"We must burn fuel to power aircrafts and generate electricity for our homes. The combustion community is working very hard to find ways to burn the fuel completely and derive all of its energy while minimizing emissions," said Dr. Ben Zinn, Regents' professor, the David S. Lewis Jr. Chair in Georgia Tech's Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering and a key collaborator on the project. "Our combustor has an unbelievably simple design, and it would be inexpensive to make and inexpensive to maintain."

Attaining ultra low emissions has become a top priority for combustion researchers as federal and state restrictions on pollution continuously reduce the allowable levels of NOx and CO produced by engines, power plants and industrial processes.

Called the Stagnation Point Reverse Flow Combustor, the Georgia Tech device, originally developed for NASA, significantly reduces NOx and CO emissions in a variety of aircraft engines and gas turbines that burn gaseous or liquid fuels. It burns fuel with NOx emissions below 1 parts per million (ppm) and CO emissions lower than 10 ppm, significantly lower than emissions produced by other combustors.

The project's initial goal was to develop a low emissions combustor for aircraft engines and power-generating gas turbines that must stably burn large amounts of fuel in a small volume over a wide range of power settings (or fuel flow rates). But the design can be adapted for use in a variety of applications, including something as large as a power generating gas turbine or as small as a water heater in a home. "We wanted to have all the clean-burning advantages of a low temperature combustion process while burning a large amount of fuel in a small volume," Zinn said.

The combustor burns fuel in low temperature reactions that occur over a large portion of the combustor. By eliminating all high temperature pockets through better control of the flow of the reactants and combustion products within the combustor, the device produces far lower levels of NOx and CO and avoids acoustic instabilities that are problematic in current low emissions combustors.

To reduce emissions in existing combustors, fuel is premixed with a large amount of swirling air flow prior to injection into the combustor. This requires complex and expensive designs, and the combustion process often excites instabilities that damage the system.

But Georgia Tech's design eliminates the complexity associated with premixing the fuel and air by injecting the fuel and air separately into the combustor while its shape forces them to mix with one another and with combustion products before ignition occurs.


I'll Have a Big Mac, Three Disposable Planets, and a Large Coke, Please

Post lifted from Agoraphilia

I am proud and happy to announce that if everyone on the planet lived like me, we would need 6.5 planets -- this according to BBC News Online's Disposable Planet Quiz.

I suppose I should feel suitably chastened, trade in my car for a bicycle, become a vegetarian, reduce my electricity usage to what I can pull from solar panels in my windows, and (most important of all) support the recommendations of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development.

I'm not buying. The Eco-Footprint approach relies on the same faulty assumptions behind Paul Erlich's _Population Bomb_ (which was supposed to explode a couple of decades ago -- what happened?) and other Malthusian nightmare scenarios. The quiz's result is based on the number of "biologically productive global hectares" available in the world, relative to how many I allegedly consume. There are, the site says, only 1.8 such hectares per person worldwide, whereas the average American creates an "Ecological Footprint" of 9.7 (I beat the average with a whopping 11.7!). The problem is that this term "biologically productive global hectare" is based only on current technology. How many hectares are biologically productive (that is, usable for agriculture or similar purposes) and how much they produce will undoubtedly change in the future. As the Quiz authors admit in their explanatory page, "Technology can alter the productivity of land, or the efficiency with which resources are used to produce goods and services."

But, you might say, we don't know technology will improve, so we have to assume current technology. I don't buy that, because market economies create powerful incentives for technological innovation. But even if we assume current technology, the Eco-Footprint still underestimates the productivity of the planet, because "the calculations assume that the technologies used in resource exploitation are the average of those prevailing in the world today." Remember that the incredibly low-tech agricultural techniques used in many underdeveloped nations of the world are included in that average. In short, the Eco-Footprint tells us nothing about what the planet's productivity would be if currently available technologies became more widespread.

In addition, as Julian Simon argued in his book _The Ultimate Resource_, "resource" is not a physically defined entity. A resource is whatever human beings have found a way to use productively. Things not currently perceived as resources will be so perceived with future technologies. (Think about the value of silica before the invention of silicon chips and fiber optics.) This is yet another reason why the fixed pie assumptions underlying the Eco-Footprint approach just don't fly.

So eat, drink, drive, live in a big house, blast your A/C, turn up the TV, and be merry.

Australian public broadcaster gets a slap on the wrist over Greenie bias

The media regulator has given the ABC's Four Corners program a slap on the wrist for using emotive language and providing inaccurate information during an "impartial" report on the forestry industry in Tasmania. The finding comes more than two years after the first complaint was made about the program, Lord of the Forests, which appeared on the ABC in February 2004 and included allegations by a close connection between the Tasmanian government and the forestry industry, in particular the timber company, Gunns Limited.

"The manner in which the report was presented would have given an ordinary reasonable viewer the impression the program favoured the anti-forestry, anti-logging perspective," the Australian Communications and Media Authority said in its 25-page report. "The many instances of subjective and emotive language over the course of the program are sufficient to find that the program was not impartial." The authority told the ABC to review its procedures for preparing television current affairs programs so "every reasonable effort is made to ensure the impartiality of those programs".

A spokeswoman for the ABC said the matter would be referred to its board. In an earlier response to the findings, the ABC defended reporter Ticky Fullerton's use of language. It said many of the phrases highlighted by the regulator - including "overwhelming devastation" and "voracious appetite for timber" - were taken out of context or were "reasonable journalistic descriptions".

The authority said yesterday the ABC was found to be in breach of its code seven times in the 12 months to June 30 last year. A spokesman conceded the investigation took a long time to complete. He said the authority's boss, Chris Chapman, wanted to improve investigation processes.

The ABC has often come under fire from the Government because of claims of impartial reporting. During a senate estimates hearing earlier this year the news director, John Cameron, was pummelled with questions from a Liberal senator, Michael Ronaldson, about a former ABC policy banning journalists from calling members of Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists. Three years ago, the then communications minister, Richard Alston, hit the ABC with 86 complaints about its Iraq coverage.



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

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

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


28 July, 2006


This is a dtory about dodgy statistics. It is intended more as a cautionary than a moral tale so you will find no villains or heroes in it. Though interesting, the issue itself is secondary. Being neither a statistician nor an engineer, I may in what follows make blunders of my own: but my purpose is not to initiate you into the mysteries of energy conservation but to offer a real-life example of how a dud fact can enter the national mind with no valid passport and no real corroborating paperwork.

Some of us are sure we saw or heard of a claim by the Chancellor, in April, that "up to 10 per cent of the electricity supply" is being wasted on electrical appliances left on "standby". I thought I heard this on a BBC radio news report. A colleague on The Daily Telegraph thinks it must have been a press briefing that led him to report on April 20 that "the Chancellor will be addressing the UN on the need for international co-operation to protect the environment. He intends to highlight the `huge waste' from consumer goods left on standby - about 10 per cent of the electricity supply".

The Evening Standard reported likewise. Gordon Brown flew off to speak in New York: "Consumer goods left on standby worldwide are responsible for 1 per cent of global emissions." That is, of course, a very different claim, which Mr Brown's civil servants say is partly based on an academic study in California. Of which more later.

As for the 10 per cent claim, the Treasury informs me (in so many words) that if it isn't true then Gordon Brown didn't say it, we must have misheard, and even if he did, it would be somebody else's fault - probably another department, so why don't I talk to them? Funny how civil servants begin to resemble their masters.

Meanwhile, it's fair to say that the startling "approximately 10 per cent" figure has entered the public imagination. Everyone I ask has noted claims about the wastefulness of appliances in standby mode. Politicians - who have to be communicators - need striking killer facts, and Westminster has embraced this one with a passion. Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat Environment spokesman, has been asking parliamentary questions about it, and so has Baroness Perry of Southwark. There have been many newspaper reports: "Energy waste soars as we fill our homes with gadgets" said the headline in the Daily Express.

Ministers love nothing better than a simple, graphic certainty. And so it was that last week Alistair Darling, the Trade and Industry Secretary, in a statement to Parliament on the energy review, declared: "Mr Speaker, it is estimated that leaving electric appliances on standby uses about 7 per cent of all electricity generated in the UK. So we will work with industry . . . to phase out inefficient goods limiting the amount of standby energy wasted." "About 7 per cent?" A new figure? Or is that "about 10 per cent"? More importantly, where did the phrase "all electricity generated in the UK" come from? We need not bother ourselves with this mystery because a written correction came fast from Mr Darling: "Further to my statement to the House on Tuesday July 11, it has come to light that the statistics quoted on electricity appliances on standby should have referred to 8 per cent of electricity used in the home, not 7 per cent of the electricity generated in the United Kingdom." This erratum slip reduced the estimate for wasted power to less than half the earlier figure - but, hey-ho, what's a few hundred gigawatts between friends?

Friends of the Earth took a similarly cheerful attitude when I rang them."In a way it doesn't really matter. In the meantime the Government should act." I rather warmed to that: at least it was honest, and made the not un- reasonable point that whatever the figures, there's a hell of a lot of electricity being wasted in lots of ways you might not have thought about.

Nevertheless, in the belief that the facts do still matter a bit, I tried to find out where all these figures were coming from. First I was directed to A Worldwide Review of Standby Power Use in Homes, conducted for the US Government by Alan K. Meier of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's energy analysis department. This is an old paper, published in 2000. It is carefully couched. It does not support the certitudes expressed by ministers or journalists. Dr Meier's report estimates that "between 3 per cent and 12 per cent of electrical power is being wasted on standby".

The guess is based on surveys in 22 countries. The United Kingdom has almost the best record of all of them: a fraction of the wastage in the United States or New Zealand. But in Britain only 32 homes were surveyed. There must (I thought) be a better basis for ministers' claims than a 20th-century survey of 32 houses. I inquired further and was led by the exceptionally helpful Institution of Engineering and Technology to a report, The Rise of the Machines, from the government-sponsored Energy Savings Trust. This document estimates that the figures for standby wastage "range from 3 to 10 per cent of residential electricity use".

But from where do such estimates come? I am redirected again, this time to a baby of the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, named Market Transformation Programme. Its Report BNXS 36 is headed Estimated UK Standby Electricity Consumption in 2004. Here at last are hard figures - or what seem to be. 9.2 terawatt-hours wasted per annum: about 360kWh per household, 8 per cent of domestic electricity consumption, costing about 27.50 pounds per household. In other words, about 10 pounds from each of us. You could recoup that by replacing one 100w tungsten light bulb with a low-energy equivalent (though in winter an appliance on standby is slightly helping to reduce your heating bill). Curiously, the MTP's 9.2 terawatt global figure includes commercial, retail, hotel and office use. To divide this by the number of private households seems misleading - if that is indeed what they've done.

Have they? I put a call in to the Defra press office, who promise someone will come back to me - but nobody does. Finally they re-send me the EST report - with a press release saying the figure is 10 per cent. Better tell Mr Darling, whose 8 per cent figure comes from the MTP report. But where, in turn, did the MTP folk find their figures? My eye moves to the references quoted at the end of the report.

And what's this? Alan K Meier again: that old 2000 study. So I make one final dive into what is turning into our rather flimsy Holy Grail. Near the end of Meier's report I spot this: "Estimates of standby power use and savings opportunities are based on just a few, scattered measurement studies . . . (they are) inadequate. More complete information is needed to answer these questions:

* What is the overall size of standby (nationally and globally)?
* What are the key contributors to standby?
* Is standby growing or declining?
* What are the potential savings from reducing standby?"

Meier is asking these questions! Everyone else is pointing to him as the man who answers them. The truth is plain. Nobody has the least idea. All we do know amounts simply to this: that some small energy savings are available from switching some appliances right off.

At the start of the Iraq war, Jack Straw, then the Foreign Secretary, announced that Iraq was more than twice the size of France. Soon everyone was repeating this. Actually Iraq is smaller than France. But why fret? Journalists and politicians bring you the essential not the literal truth. The essential truth is that you must remember to unplug your mobile phone charger; and Iraq is awfully big.


On Global Warming: Who's Censoring Now?

Post lifted from Amy Ridenour

Next time you hear U.S. government physicist James Hansen claim the government is trying to censor him, consider this (paid subscription required) from Environment & Energy Daily (7/21/06):
A chronic illness only partly explains why James Hansen decided to skip the House Government Reform Committee's on global warming in seven years. The embattled NASA scientist also passed on yesterday's event because lawmakers are "still in denial" about the reasons for dramatic changes in the Earth's climate, he said last night in an e-mail.

In the message Hansen sent to reporters to explain his absence from yesterday's hearing, the director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies said he had a conflicting doctor appointment to deal with a cold that interacts with his asthma... But he also indicated he would have adjusted his schedule if the witness list did not also include skeptical points of view.

"I would get out of my sickbed to testify to Congress on global warming, if they were ready to deal responsibly with the matter," Hansen wrote. "But obviously they are still in denial, inviting contrarians to 'balance' the science of global warming."

Hansen apparently was objecting to the House panel's late addition of John Christy, a professor and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. In his testimony yesterday, Christy told lawmakers that scientists "cannot reliably project the trajectory of the climate" for large regions of the United States.

Christy also said it would be a "far more difficult task" to predict the effects should the United States adopt a mandatory greenhouse gas policy.

Hansen's e-mail said skeptical points of view cloud the climate debate rather than enlighten it. "The function of the contrarians is to obfuscate what is known, so as to keep the public confused and allow special interests to continue to reap short-term profits, to the detriment of the long-term economic well-being of the nation," he said.

Hansen said Congress should direct the National Academy of Sciences to update its 2001 report to President Bush on the state of the science surrounding global warming. "Until then, it is just a charade," he wrote...
Perhaps he meant it to be perceived differently, but Dr. Hansen's actions fit the description of a hissy fit. If Hansen disagrees with Dr. John Christy (whose testimony to the commitee can be found in pdf form here), why not participate in the hearing and explain why?

Science is supposed to be about considering all points of view and then rejecting those that cannot be proven valid, not about throwing hissy fits because alternative points of view are under consideration.

Had the House Government Reform Committee taken a page from Dr. Hansen's playbook and refused to invite Dr. Christy solely because of Christy's views, it would have been censorship.


Magistrates in Exeter, England, have binned a test case for the laws making recycling compulsory. But while the local council may be squealing that this makes the rules unenforceable, nobody seems to be asking the more uncomfortable questions about why green policies are proving to be increasingly authoritarian. Donna Challice, a 31-year-old single mother of three, was charged by Exeter city council with placing food waste in bins designated for recyclable items. Challice claimed that the food waste, including takeaway containers, was being put in her bins by passers-by. The council was unable to prove who was doing it, and lost the case.

Mike Trim, recycling officer for the local council, said: `We will have to look at the implications for us and other local authorities. It will be hard to bring cases like this if there has to be direct evidence of an individual contaminating a recycling bin. It's hard to see how you can carry out surveillance practically on what people do in their own homes and their own back gardens. This case shows the Act is not working in its current form.'

The prospect of jobsworths from the council environment department staking out housing estates is a less than attractive one. Presumably Mr Trim and his colleagues regard having to provide evidence in court as a messy business - much like separating your waste - and would be happier if they could slap a fine on householders and ask questions later.

Luckily for them, that's an idea the government has already had. Under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005, councils will have the power to hand out fixed penalty notices for breaking the recycling rules. Those fixed penalties could still be challenged in court, but the authorities know that this is much less likely than if a case has to be brought to court in the first place.

The steady drip of letters, notices and fines against individuals charged with breaking the recycling rules might make some sense if recycling was a worthwhile activity. However, as Richard Tomkins points out in the Financial Times, `recycling household waste makes little difference to resource depletion because the quantities involved are too small'. Noting that the vast majority of resources in society are used in manufacturing, construction, commercial and public sector activities, he concludes that `the sort of recycling that makes a difference occurs outside the home, not in it'.

Daniel K Benjamin, professor of economics at Clemson University in South Carolina, notes that there are numerous myths about recycling, including:

-- We're overwhelmed by rubbish. In fact, our rubbish takes up a small fraction of available land. In many cases, rubbish is used to fill holes made by other activities, like mining or quarrying. There are other alternatives, like incineration, which can greatly reduce the volume of what is sent to landfill.

-- Waste is harmful. The vast majority of waste is harmless and perfectly safe in landfill.

-- Packaging is a huge problem. A combination of technical development and a desire to save money means the packaging on most goods has been steadily reduced over the years, and packaging reduces other forms of waste, like rotting or damaged food.

-- We're squandering resources if we don't recycle. The scarcity of a resource tends to be reflected in its price - if the stuff we throw away was really valuable, we wouldn't throw it away. Moreover, we are not concerned with a particular substance but rather with what that substance does - if we find something else that does it better and cheaper, resources can become obsolete long before they run out.

-- Recycling is better for the environment. Given that recycling is a manufacturing process in itself, it also uses energy and raw materials - and running separate rubbish collections burns extra fossil fuels. Whether recycling a particular type of waste is really better for the environment needs to be judged on a case-by-case basis.

-- Without compulsion, recycling wouldn't happen. Actually, lots of recycling goes on all the time. Numerous industries, large and small, have grown up around recycling, particularly with regard to commercial and industrial waste. The difference is that in these areas, recycling makes economic sense.

To summarise: household waste makes up only a small part of total waste and it is relatively expensive to collect. In fact, if we are to believe Exeter councillor Pete Edwards, what is collected is so close to being worthless that any contamination (for example, a takeaway carton) appears to make an entire batch of recyclable waste uneconomic to process: `Every day, thousands of people in the city diligently sort through their rubbish, separating residual waste from recyclables. It only takes one person to contaminate their green bin and we have to discard a whole lorry-load of recyclables. We cannot let the thoughtless minority spoil it for the selfless majority.'

None of which takes into account the time it takes all of us householders to separate waste and manage two or three different bins. Some might argue that moaning about this extra work is petty. But if there's no good reason to do it, then the whole recycling process becomes an expensive charade. No wonder the authorities, unable to convince many of us that recycling makes sense, have resorted to heavy-handed tactics.

Household recycling only makes sense as the practical form of a morality tale: that humans are essentially greedy and rapacious. The physical expression of that greed is the amount of rubbish we create. The lesson is that we should all rein in our expectations and demand less - be less `thoughtless' and more `selfless', to use the councillor's words. Western politicians have failed in recent decades to provide substantial economic growth. The environmentalist argument is that growth is not just difficult to produce - it isn't desirable, either. This suits political parties that have run out of ideas for how to carry society forward (see Who's afraid of economic growth?, by Daniel Ben-Ami).

The environment is also just the kind of lowest common denominator issue that the political classes are scrabbling round for right now to give themselves an excuse for existing. Who, after all, is not in favour of saving the planet? No one should have been surprised that David Cameron's Conservatives, a party with a particularly pressing need to find a reason to keep going, ran their local election campaign under the slogan `Vote Blue, Go Green'.

The case of Donna Challice captures in microcosm where society is headed: to a situation where our leaders try to convince us that we should lower our horizons, and where they wield the big stick against those who think otherwise. What a waste.


Loony Green/Left government in the Australian State of Victoria

In Victoria, rivers are no longer water SOURCES. They are now water USERS! Comment below by Andrew Bolt

John Thwaites says we use too much water and too many plastic bags. But our state Environment Minister uses too little of something far rarer than water and even better than bags. Try brains. Has any government put out anything more irrational and half-baked than did green-priest Thwaites last week with his "Sustainability Action Statement"?

Here is proof that the true battle isn't between those who want to save the environment or use it. It's between those who have given in to superstition and those who still defend reason. Last week's statement promised, without a blush of shame, to make your power bills rise, your water dry up and your shopping bills rise, yet -- incredibly -- the media clapped like mad.

Indeed, this was mad. Take Thwaites' promise to force retailers to charge you 10 cents for each of those wicked plastic bags you use to carry home the shopping. Says Thwaites's statement, 10 million of them each year become litter "that endanger the health of marine wildlife", clog drains or "detract from the beauty of our environment". So from 2012 the poor will be fined for using these bags of evil, forcing them to use something else -- a pram, perhaps? -- to get their tins and packages home. (The rich won't feel any hurt at a lousy 10 cents a bag, which is why the rich-pleasing media barely cares about all this.)

But does the 10 cents actually make sense? Not if you believe the Productivity Commission. A draft commission report in May found that plastic bags make up only 0.2 per cent of land fill, where they probably do some good, reducing toxic leakage and keeping the fill stable. And there was little proof the bags caused harm to wildlife, which tends not to shop with them anyway. They might make a mess here and there, but there were probably cheaper ways of dealing with that than a ban, said the commission's boss, Philip Weikhardt. Besides, they are just so useful, which is why we don't carry our groceries home in, say, an Esky or a suitcase. More than 60 per cent are reused lining bins or for other household jobs such as keeping food fresh. Heavens, that might save lives. In fact, as the Environment Protection and Heritage Council concluded: "Plastic bags are popular with consumers and retailers as they are a functional, lightweight, strong, cheap, and hygienic way to transport food and other products."

So what was the Government's excuse for slapping on the 10 cent fine when it makes so little sense? I think I've found the answer on page 47 of Thwaites' statement: "(P)lastic bags are a symbol of our inefficient use of resources . . ." Note that the bags themselves aren't inefficient. They are bad because they are symbols of other things that are. And so must go. Mad. Next!

Next is Thwaites' promise to force energy retailers to buy 10 per cent of their power from green-approved solar and wind generators. Which sounds so earth-cuddling. Except for this: these huge mills and reflectors of "green" power wreck our views more than plastic bags ever could. And they'll crank out power that costs us big without cutting global warming by any amount anyone can measure. Figure it out for yourself: Most climate modellers -- such as Tom Wigley, senior scientist at the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research -- say even if all the Kyoto-approved cuts to the world's greenhouse gases were put in place right now, they would delay the rise in temperature predicted for 2100 by a measly six years. The heat expected in 2100 will come anyway in 2106.

Now imagine what small contribution wind-power will make in producing that tiny effect. Break that down even more: what share of that contribution is Victoria's? See? These wind farms we're building will make all the difference of a bat-squeak in a grand-final roar. But measure the cost, and not just in ruined views. The Government says the extra green power will make your power bills go up by $1 a month. In fact, the Opposition is correct in warning the true cost is more likely to become more than five times that -- and we'll still need coal-fired plants as backup for the days the wind doesn't blow. Or blows too hard. Again, this is just an expensive symbolic gesture to please green gods. We must pay so Thwaites can pray.

Next! Yes, there is a next because the one thing we're not running out of under this Government is irrationality. Next is Thwaites's manic determination to stop any future government from building a dam for Melbourne on the river once set aside for that very purpose. Not content with already having turned the dam reservation at Gippsland's Mitchell River into a national park, Thwaites now says the Government will pass a law to declare the Mitchell a heritage river that can never be dammed. Don't think he doesn't know he's locking up good drinking water that one day we will badly need. His statement admits the "Mitchell River (is) the largest free-flowing river without a dam in southeastern Australia". So, you'll think there must be a good reason to deny us this water when our dams are already less than half full, with dry Melbourne expecting a million more thirsty residents within 25 years.

And I've found them. Well, not good reasons, but the only ones Thwaites's allies at Melbourne Water can dream up to justify their minister's dam ban. Says Melbourne Water: "New dams do not create any new water." How about that for a reason not to build one? Might as well not have built any of Melbourne's dams, then. None of them create water either, do they? On struggles Melbourne Water: "If a new dam were built for Melbourne, it would need to be filled with water that is currently used by rural and regional communities and the environment."

Pardon me? How is water "used ... by the environment"? Who can tell if a river really is "using" water, or just wasting it? And if a river really is "using" water, who says I can't take it anyway? But isn't all river water "used by the environment"? Um, well, yes, actually. So this nonsense statement tells us we should empty every dam we've ever built and never drink another drop of water that could be "used" by the rivers instead.

Indeed, this Government is already pulling the plug on the reservoir at Lake Mokoan, and promising to send more water from our dams down half a dozen of our rivers to flow to waste in the sea. This, during our worst recorded drought. You'll find all this hard to believe, so go check the October issue of Melbourne Water's A Source magazine. There you'll find Thwaites's plan for the giant Thomson Dam, which holds 60 per cent of Melbourne's water but is less than 40 per cent full. Does Thwaites plan to plug any leaks? Cut back on releases into the river? Hell, no. His big idea is to empty the reservoir of an extra 8 billion litres of drinking water each year to baptise more fish and bless more plants. So, while sacred fish soak we mere humans must heed Preacher Thwaites' call last week to "save the planet" by taking "four-minute power showers instead of the average seven minutes".

I cannot be the only person to think all this is so irrational as to border on the mad. Less water, dearer power and higher grocery bills -- just to genuflect to the earth gods that seem to have moved into Spring St. One day, of course, the crunch will come. We'll have a real water crisis. We won't have enough power to drive export industries such as our aluminium smelters. We'll price ourselves out of competition with our neighbours. Pray then to the nature gods of John Thwaites, asking them to return our pious favours. Learn then how deaf they are. And how pitiless.


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

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

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


27 July, 2006


In a window-clad showroom on a busy downtown corner here, the future of U.S. motoring could be on display. Scattered across the polished linoleum floor of the ZAP auto distributorship are brightly painted "micro-cars" with names like Smart, Xebra and Obvio. All carry two people, get extraordinary mileage and park in spaces not much bigger than a desk.

Steve Schneider, who broke into the auto industry working at a Renault dealership two decades ago, is chief executive of ZAP (Zero Air Pollution), a publicly traded company that imports these pint-size cars into the United States. He's convinced a confluence of events -- soaring gas prices, unrelenting turmoil in the Mideast and increasing fears of global warming -- means Americans are ready for the miniature, environmentally friendly runabouts. It's "an untapped market that is phenomenal," Schneider said.

Indeed, micro-cars, which are generally half the length of a beefy Chevy Tahoe SUV, are ubiquitous in Europe and Asia, where stratospheric gas prices and crowded streets make them highly practical. But among American drivers, with access to relatively cheap gas and a love for brawny vehicles and the open road, the tiny cars have never caught on. That could change soon, experts say. The Smart car, for one, could become a big U.S. seller when its manufacturer, DaimlerChrysler, begins importing it in 2008 at a price expected to be less than $15,000. "It appears there's a significant market for micro-cars," said Philip Reed, consumer editor for the automotive Web site "People are really frustrated with high gas prices."

David Anderson of El Cerrito recently bought a Smart car from a Nevada dealership after seeing one on a trip to Europe. He said the parking, fuel economy and handling make it well worth the $25,000 he paid. "It's (made by Mercedes) so it drives a lot better than we expected," said the law-enforcement retiree. "Everywhere we go, people see it and they just love it."

Anticipating reactions like Anderson's, ZAP brought its first Smart cars into the United States in 2002 and spent $10 million developing ways to modify them to meet U.S. safety and air pollution standards. Like other micro-cars, the Smart car is so compact it can park head-on to a curb and not stick out into traffic. It boasts gas mileage that ranges from 40 to 75 mpg. And to meet safety concerns, it's built with an internal roll cage similar to those found in NASCAR race cars, designed to protect passengers in case of a crash.

ZAP says it sells every Smart car it brings into the country, even at $25,000 each. About 280 have gone to dealers in other states, and another 350 are awaiting safety and emissions modifications for the American market. ZAP said it is currently seeking authorization from California regulators to sell the cars in this state. Within 90 days of exhibiting a U.S.-ready Smart car at a National Automobile Dealers Association show in early 2005, ZAP said it received more than $2.2 billion in purchase orders from dealers around the country. "You would have thought we were passing out $100 bills at our booth," Schneider said of the attention the Smart car drew at the show.

But when ZAP officials met with DaimlerChrysler in March 2005 to explain their marketing strategy and the modifications they're doing for the U.S. market, things turned ugly, according to a suit ZAP filed against DaimlerChrysler last October. According to the suit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, ZAP announced it would place a purchase order with DaimlerChrysler to bring more than 76,000 Smart cars into the United States. Shortly afterward, according to the suit, DaimlerChrysler officials said publicly they knew nothing about such an order and questioned ZAP's financing, as well as the safety of its modifications -- even though the cars had already passed muster with all federal and most state regulators.

Its credibility questioned, ZAP saw its stock plunge from $5 a share in late 2004 to $1 a share in May 2005, and as low as 25 cents by the end of last year. It has since rebounded to about 70 cents a share. The suit hasn't yet gone to trial, and DaimlerChrysler spokeswoman Bettina Singhartinger declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. Last month DaimlerChrysler announced its own plans to sell the Smart car in the United States at a price that could be $10,000 below what ZAP charges. Meanwhile ZAP continues to buy Smart cars through independent brokers in Europe and then modifies them to meet U.S. standards at a plant in Southern California. Despite the high price, ZAP says demand is relentless.

Tom Day, an auto dealer in Scottsdale, Ariz., said he's sold more than 30 Smart cars since March, at about $28,000 each. "I have everyone from teenagers to (rock star) Alice Cooper buying them," he said. His customers like the the car's look and its high gas mileage, which some buyers have told him tops 70 miles to the gallon. He compares the car to the Mini Cooper, a car with such a high "cool"-quotient that it sells briskly despite a price that can exceed $30,000. "People are really excited about the car. They tell me they've been waiting for this kind of car for years," Day said.

Even if its Smart car business is eclipsed by DaimlerChrysler's expected leap into the U.S. market, ZAP has alternatives waiting in the wings. One is the Xebra, a Chinese-built three-wheel electric car, which costs less than $10,000 and has a range of up to 40 miles between charges. Larry Dye, who owns Electric Wheels Inc. in Salem, Oregon, said he's taken delivery of 11 Xebras and sold them all. "A lot of people are buying them as commuter vehicles to get to and from work," he said. One Xebra owner is Dave Johnson of Fultano's Pizza in Cannon Beach, Ore. He said his new three-wheeled Xebra doesn't have enough range to be his primary delivery vehicle, but says its visibility helps promote his business. And he hopes his purchase will encourage the development of electric cars. "I think it's a good cause to get behind," the pizza purveyor said.

ZAP is also preparing to import the Brazilian-made Obvio [above], a flashy 175-hp rocket with Maserati-style doors that open like butterfly wings. Schneider said ZAP could bring Obvios into the market by 2007 and sell them for as little as $14,000. Asked about the Obvio's potential, Scottsdale auto dealer Day replied, "I think it will be one of the hottest-selling cars on the market."

But even as ZAP burrows into the micro-car market, it's facing competition from companies like Honda and Toyota, both of which have introduced small, fuel-efficient cars in recent months. Because they seat four people and are several feet longer than micro-cars, the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris are not quite in the same class as the Smart car or Obvio. David Thomas, an editor with, said the good mileage and slightly bigger size of Honda's and Toyota's subcompacts could lure plenty of customers. But Joel Baker, a futurist and author based in St. Paul, Minn., predicts both kinds of cars can co-exist and even help fertilize the small-car market.


Call Off the Dioxin Dogs

Way back in 1985 the EPA decided it wanted dioxin to be cancer-causing and made it so, labeling it a "probable human carcinogen." Fifteen years later it upped the ante, concluding -- to a round chorus of applause from the media and environmentalist groups -- that the cancer risks for the most exposed people were 10-fold higher than it previously thought. Three years after, it strengthened dioxin's label to "carcinogenic to humans." And last Tuesday ... one big fat fly from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) plopped into the ointment.

Indeed, the recommendations of the NAS's National Research Council (NRC) review of the EPA's latest draft report on dioxin could -- or at least should -- turn the entire cancer-rating system of the EPA (and other agencies) on its head.

Dioxin is created as an unintentional byproduct of certain industries and processes, including burning trash, land application of sewage sludge, coal-fired utilities, and metal smelting. (It was formerly common in trace amounts in herbicides including Agent Orange, widely used in Vietnam.) As a result, we all carry dioxin in our bodies.

Although dubbed "the most dangerous chemical known to man," incredibly this was based entirely on the acute toxicity (poisoning) to a single species of animal -- guinea pigs. In humans incredibly massive doses have never been shown to cause any long-term damage besides severe acne, as was the case with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko in 2004.

The cancer accusations didn't come along until much later and now the Veteran's Administration makes "presumptive" payments to Vietnam vets with certain cancers regardless of evidence of exposure to Agent Orange exposure and notwithstanding that an ongoing study re-evaluated every three years of those with by far the highest levels of exposure have indicated no increased risk.

The NRC committee was split on whether the available evidence met all the criteria for classifying dioxin as "carcinogenic to humans" under the new guidelines, but it was unanimous in agreeing that dioxin should at least be considered "likely to be carcinogenic to humans." That would seem to at least justify the EPA's original 1985 decision but doesn't.

That's because while it's long been accepted that for acute toxicity that "the dose makes the poison" the EPA uses as a rule for all potential carcinogens that if exposure to a rat of something at a level of, say, a quart a day for 30 years is cancer-causing then exposure of a hundredth of a gram a day for one week must also be carcinogenic to humans. No matter that FDA doesn't advise against women taking a daily iron pill because if they took 100 daily they would die.

It was this EPA assumption that the National Research Council directly challenged, concluding the "EPA's decision to rely solely on a default linear model lacked adequate scientific support." It said compelling new animal data from the National Toxicology Program -- released after EPA completed its reassessment -- when combined with substantial evidence that dioxin does not damage DNA, is now adequate to justify the use of nonlinear methods for estimating cancer risk at relatively low levels of exposure.

In other words, the EPA can't just choose a formula because it's convenient and serves its political ends. It can't ignore the results of myriad animal and human studies and the determination of how a certain chemical affects human cells in favor of simple mathematics. Nor can it apply that formula because it favors environmentalist groups who make a living by terrifying us into believing that a single molecule of this or that threatens the existence of "peoplekind."

The NRC doesn't go so far as to say the linear model can be sent to the trash compactor. It may have applications in some cases. In fact, the NRC report merely restates conclusions from the EPA's own "Guidelines for Carcinogenic Risk Assessment," issued last year. "Both linear and nonlinear approaches are available," the assessment states and "In some cases, they may be combined in a way that best represents human cancer risk." The problem is in getting the Agency to apply the guidelines it devised.

So where does this leave us regarding both dioxin and other potentially carcinogenic substances? Given the poor evidence for low-dose carcinogenesis of dioxin in humans and that according to the EPA dioxin emissions in the environment have been reduced by 92% since 1987 it would seem time to call off the dioxin dogs. That includes both new government regulations and the environmental groups demanding them.

For every other would-be cancer-causer, we need something besides the knowledge that it kills a certain kind of rat or mouse or hamster when given massive doses. That's just not enough anymore to ban valuable chemicals or to leave tens of millions of Americans in fear that they and their children will sprout tumors like mushrooms because "The Man" wants to stuff his pockets and doesn't care who he sickens or kills in the process.


Global warming didn't cause California scorcher

Don't blame the seemingly endless heat wave just on global warming - this one's the product of a high-pressure system to the east and California's rapidly expanding growth, said Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist Bill Patzert. Together, he said, they have combined to push the temperature 12 to 16 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. "Of the 12 degrees, how much is global warming? I would say 1 degree," Patzert said. "The other 11 degrees is meteorology" and lots of new heat-soaking pavement and other developments.

As in most mid-summers, a region of high pressure over Arizona and New Mexico is pulling hot, moist air from the Mexican desert. But this summer, Patzert said, "it's so intense it's actually included us in the pattern. It's kept the marine layer off the coast, what I call Southern California's air conditioner." "We didn't get any May Gray and June Gloom, so we kind of skipped spring," he said.

But what has made these conditions especially unbearable, Patzert said, is the new face of California's landscape, repaved by ever-expanding development. "As soon as you start putting in agriculture, golf courses, especially housing developments, it starts to retain heat. The nights are not cooling. That's why we get warmer and warmer temperatures by mid-afternoon, because we're starting warmer," he said.

Southern California used to be a land of low, dry brush, collectively called chaparral. "The heat that was gained during the day - like if you go out in the desert - was released at night because the land surface was pretty dry," Patzert said. No longer. Over the past century, Southern California's "extreme makeover" has raised downtown Los Angeles temperatures an average of 3degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 7degrees at night. "If it seems like it's hotter at night, it is," Patzert said.

As for the forecast for the rest of the summer, "there is definitely no relief in sight," Patzert said. "As we get into August and September, those are usually our hottest months." And there are different difficulties to come. "As that high pressure shifts up north, that's when we get Santa Anas," he said, "That's when the fire danger goes sky high."


Australian Labor Party self-detonates over nukes

A deep split has opened in the Federal Opposition concerning the proposed scrapping of the party's no new uranium mines policy. A day after Labor leader Kim Beazley declared the long-standing policy should be dropped, two Labor premiers and a member of his own Cabinet openly attacked the backflip. Opposition Environment Minister Anthony Albanese said the move was bad policy and bad politics. "I oppose any watering-down of Labor's anti-uranium policy," he said. Mr Albanese said his position was strongly supported by party affiliates such as the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Miscellaneous Workers Union. "Our existing policy serves us well," he said.

Mr Beazley told the Sydney Institute on Monday night he remained opposed to nuclear energy and uranium enrichment, but the no new mines policy was outdated, especially given Australia was already the third biggest uranium exporter in the world. Yesterday, he said the "vigorous debate" was to be expected.

A planned vote on the policy shift at Labor's national conference in April is looming as a defining moment in Mr Beazley's leadership. A defeat on the conference floor a few months out from the next election, scheduled for the second half of next year, would be a devastating blow for Mr Beazley's electoral prospects.

Western Australian Premier Alan Carpenter refused to back the change of direction, fearing it would lead to his state becoming a nuclear waste dump. "The majority of Western Australians support this position," he said. Former WA premier Carmen Lawrence also attacked Mr Beazley's position, although the Opposition Leader received welcome support from the Northern Territory's Chief Minister Clare Martin, Labor's resources spokesman Martin Ferguson and up-and-coming union leader Bill Shorten.

Prime Minister John Howard said Mr Beazley's policy backflip was a "no brainer". "There's never been any justification for discriminating between mines that were already in operation and those that weren't," Mr Howard said. "It was just a political compromise to settle a dispute within the Labor Party about 25 years ago. It made no policy sense and it's got no public rationale."

Greens leader Bob Brown said Australia was at greater risk of becoming a nuclear waste dump.



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

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

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


26 July, 2006


Press release below from the Senate Majority Press Office (

Naomi Oreskes, History of Science professor at the University of California at San Diego, in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, "Global Warming -- Signed, Sealed and Delivered," set out to defend the validity of her study titled "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change (Science Magazine, December 3, 2004). The study purportedly shows a 100% consensus on human caused global warming. In today's op-ed, however, Oreskes failed to acknowledge several key criticisms to her analysis of peer reviewed literature allegedly showing there is 100% scientific consensus that human activity is primarily responsible for warming the planet in the last 50 years.

FACT: Oreskes's study contained major flaws. Oreskes did not inform readers in today's commentary that she admitted to making a search term error that excluded about 11,000 papers -more than 90% of the papers- dealing with climate change. Oreskes also failed to inform readers that, according to one critique of her study, less than 2% of the abstracts she analyzed endorsed what she terms the "consensus view" on human activity and climate change and that some of the studies actually doubted that human activity has caused warming in the last 50 years.

Oreskes originally claimed she analyzed the peer-reviewed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003 under the keywords "climate change" and found just 928 articles. It turns out she was not accurate, according to British social scientist Benny Peiser a professor at Liverpool John Moores University.

A search using the terms "climate change" actually turned up almost 12,000 papers that were published during the time frame Oreskes claimed to have researched. In other words, her supposedly comprehensive research excluded about 11,000 papers. Only after Peiser's analysis pointed out this error in her study did Oreskes reportedly admit that her study was not based on the keywords "climate change," but on the far more restrictive phrase "global climate change."

Peiser noted: "These objections were put to Oreskes by science writer David Appell. On 15 December 2004, she admitted that there was indeed a serious mistake in her Science essay. According to Oreskes, her study was not based on the keywords "climate change," but on "global climate change."

Oreskes's 100% "consensus" would potentially be accurate only by excluding well over 90% of the available papers in the time frame she was researching, according to Peiser. Eliminating about 11,000 papers (even if a small portion would not be considered `peer reviewed') in favor of just 928, hardly proves a "consensus." In addition, Peiser found that less than 2% of the studies Oreskes examined supported her "consensus view" and some of the studies actually disagreed with that humans were the chief cause of the past 50 years of climate change.

Peiser also found: ".While the ISI database includes a total of 929 documents for the period in question, it lists only 905 abstracts. It is thus impossible that Oreskes analyzed 928 abstracts." ( "Oreskes entire argument is flawed as the whole ISI data set includes just 13 abstracts (less than 2%) that explicitly endorse what she has called the 'consensus view.'" "In fact, the vast majority of abstracts do not mention anthropogenic climate change. Moreover - and despite attempts to deny this fact - a few abstracts actually doubt the view that human activities are the main driving force of "the observed warming over the last 50 years." (

No "Scientific Consensus"

Furthermore, sixty scientists recently wrote an open letter to Canadian Prime Minister Harper calling for a complete review of the science behind climate alarmism. Additionally, recent scientific analyzes dispute the claims of those promoting human-caused catastrophic global warming. The United Nations media hyped "Hockey Stick" was broken in June by a National Academy of Sciences report reaffirming the existence of the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age. Finally, just last week, three researchers -- Edward J. Wegman of George Mason University, David W. Scott of Rice University and Yasmin H. Said of Johns Hopkins University, further debunked the "Hockey Stick."


Restrictions have pushed land costs so high that middle class people can no longer afford to live in L.A. so they migrate elsewhere or are forced into poor neighborhoods. And, as always, California is the harbinger of insanities to come elsewhere

A growing body of research shows Los Angeles to be a region of extreme polarization, where rich and poor live in separate neighborhoods, surrounded by others like themselves. Demographers at Wayne State University in Detroit recently found Greater Los Angeles to be the most economically segregated region in the country. The study found only about 28% of its neighborhoods to be middle-class or mixedincome, compared with more than half of those in Nashville, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Portland, Ore.

More than two-thirds of L.A.-area residents live in neighborhoods that are solidly rich or poor, according to the analysis, which is based on 2000 census data. That share has been steadily growing for three decades, said one of the study's authors, George Galster, a professor of urban affairs at Wayne State. "The situation in L.A. is certainly at the extreme of American cities," Galster said, adding that every one of the 100 metropolitan regions he looked at has grown more economically segregated over the last 30 years.

The trend parallels a well-documented loss of middleincome jobs in the United States over a generation. But the study found that middle-class neighborhoods are disappearing at a much faster rate than the comparable jobs. Researchers attributed the faster pace to a kind of self-sorting. In other words, people are moving out of economically diverse neighborhoods to live in areas dominated by their own income group. Los Angeles leads the trend. "I think that poses real challenges to any society, politically and socially," Galster said. "The fact that our society is moving to a situation where we don't rub shoulders on a daily basis means that, more and more, people's impressions of others will not be formed by personal experience but by images in the media."

The study defined neighborhoods by residential census tracts, and defined middle income as between 80% and 120% of the metropolitan area's median. Los Angeles' spot on the list can be explained, in part, by two factors that create bulges at each end of the economic spectrum: Large numbers of low-skilled immigrants earning low wages and a rarefied club of wealthy entertainment and business moguls. Los Angeles County "has more billionaires than any other part of the country. It's also the capital of the working poor," said Peter Dreier, chairman of the Urban and Environmental Policy Program at Occidental College.

That wasn't always the case. A generation ago, the region was a model for the post-World War II, middle-class lifestyle. High-wage manufacturing jobs were abundant, particularly in the aerospace industry. When the industry collapsed in the early 1990s, many middle-class residents left the region. In the meantime, large numbers of immigrants arrived seeking work. Other changes mirrored national trends, including the development of large, similarly priced housing tracts outside city cores.

Now even the suburbs are growing apart. In a study conducted two years ago, Dreier and three colleagues found an increasing polarization of the rings surrounding U.S. cities. "There are a growing number of wealthy suburbs, a growing number of poverty suburbs and an absolute decline in the number of middle-class suburbs," he said. Los Angeles' suburbs also were among the nation's most extreme. Only suburbs of Phoenix and Palm Beach, Fla., were more polarized, the researchers found. Both reports on geographic polarization were released by the Washington, D.C.,-based Brookings Institution.

Alan Berube, a Brookings urban affairs specialist, said the pulling apart of rich and poor has immediate and tangible effects. For one thing, it can diminish choices and raise prices for everyone. "The retailers in the two neighborhoods are very different," he said. "It's the difference between a Whole Foods and a corner grocer, or Citibank and the local check casher. They're not competing, and in the end, you have higher prices for all basic goods and services." More broadly, Berube maintained, the shrinking of mixed or middle-income neighborhoods limits the ability of low-income residents to move up economically without leaving the region. It can even contribute to civic instability.

More here

Convoluted study finds residential water crisis where none exists

By Dan Walters -- Sacramento Bee and Modesto Bee Columnist

California has no shortage of critical political and public issues -- public education, traffic congestion, housing costs and medical care, to name but a few. Too much green grass isn't one of them, despite the assertions of a new think-tank study. Ellen Hanak, an economist at the Public Policy Institute of California, would have us believe that as population grows, lawns and other residential greenery will consume inordinately high amounts of water. "Do the math," Hanak said in a statement accompanying release of her study. "We're facing the prospect of many more people, with more lawns and gardens, in the state's hottest, driest regions; that adds up to a lot of water."

Hanak's math, framed in complex equations based on assumptions about population growth, housing patterns and water use, works like this: Urban water use in 2000 was about 9 million acre-feet, a fifth of the water devoted to human use in the state, with 6 million acre-feet of that consumed in residential households and perhaps half of the household use outdoors. Bottom line: somewhere between 2.5 million and 3 million acre-feet used to maintain residential greenery each year.

Hanak then expostulates that population growth -- 11 million more Californians over the next quarter- century -- higher-than-average growth in hot and dry inland areas, and the tendency for inland growth to be single-family homes rather than apartments or condominiums will increase demand for outdoor water, but never calculates how much that demand will be in the aggregate other than "a lot of water."

Despite the dearth of quantification, Hanak launches into a series of policy suggestions to curb the demand, clearly intimating that inlanders are water hogs whose thirst needs to be curbed. She disparages the large lots found in inland residential tracts, approvingly cites denser multifamily housing in the coastal areas, and even suggests that California follow Las Vegas' water conservation model.

"A lot of water" is a less than satisfactory basis for policy decisions (at another point Hanak refers to her calculations as "only a guesstimate"), so let's round out the water numbers. Let's assume that the population growth she assumes is accurate, a little less than a one-third increase in 25 years. Let's also assume that over half of that growth is in single-family homes with lawns and gardens in inland areas, a very generous estimate, so that the amount of water needed for lawns and shrubs increases by 40 percent over that period, another generous figure. That would indicate that outdoor water use would increase from 3 million acre-feet a year (still another generous number) to 4.2 million acre-feet.

If the issue is 1.2 million acre-feet a year (and it's probably much less), we should put it into some context other than "a lot of water." All human uses of water in California -- residential, commercial, industrial and, most of all, agricultural -- amount to an estimated 43 million acre-feet a year, a fifth of the estimated 200 million-acre feet that flow through the state. So watering the additional greenery would amount to perhaps one-half of 1 percent of the total.

Here's the supposed problem from another standpoint: During the height of last winter's storms, the Sacramento River alone was carrying two acre-feet of water each second to the sea, or 1.2 million acre-feet each week. Funny how those numbers work out. It illustrates how California's water situation is often distorted by those pushing other agendas, such as discouraging people from living in single-family homes and pushing them into multifamily complexes simply because of some ideological bias against personal property and for communal living. Hanak may not personally hold that bias, but her misleading numbers will be used by those who do.

There's nothing wrong with a family living in a single-family home with a cool green yard and a flower garden; it reflects the legitimate desire of most people to own property they can enjoy as they see fit and build estates for their families. And California doesn't have a water shortage; it has a conflict over how water should be distributed and priced that could be settled quickly were ideological agendas set aside and rational economics applied.



But it's UNESCO research so it must be right

A Sydney conference has heard that climate change led to the fall of the ancient Cambodian city of Angkor. The theory has been presented to an international gathering under the patronage of UNESCO. Sydney University's Roland Fletcher says the famous temples were the medium-size constructions of Angkor. From the 8th century 1,000 square kilometres of rainforest made way for the low density city. "The magnitude of the place is an important factor in how it ultimately collapsed," he said. "It also had a gigantic infrastructure nearly the equivalent of freeways that you get in a modern city except that these are canals and embankments."

Associate Professor Fletcher believes the medieval mini ice age caused climatic instability that lead to water and sediment overwhelming Angkor's delicately balanced infrastructure. "Our field work is leading us to conclude the city was abandoned when destabilised river flows, due to land clearing, and new monsoon patterns, due to climate change, made the site unsustainable," he said in a statement. "As the canals filled with sand, it appears water broke through their embankments, badly damaging this essential infrastructure."

People attending the conference have been able to see a new three dimensional simulation of the city and what the daily life of its citizens was like during its heyday in the 12th century.


Australian Left slowly going nuclear too

Kim Beazley has withdrawn his support for Labor's long-standing ban on new uranium mines in Australia, staking his leadership on a policy of more mining and exports. As part of his efforts to appear decisive, the Labor leader has set out an alternative to John Howard's plans for Australia to become "an energy superpower". The Opposition Leader said last night his change of position was aimed at lifting prosperity but he remained totally opposed to nuclear power in Australia because it was "not in our national interest". In the Sydney Institute speech, Mr Beazley also said he did not believe uranium enrichment would happen in Australia for years -- and not if he became prime minister.

His declaration brings forward the debate on one of Labor's most divisive issues, which threatens to split the ALP conference in April next year, only months before an election. "I believe the real issue is what we do with the uranium we mine -- not how many places we mine it," Mr Beazley said. "I will seek a change to my party's platform to replace the 'no new mines' policy with a new approach based on the strongest safeguards in the world. "Banning new uranium mines would not limit the export of Australian uranium to the world -- it would simply favour incumbent producers."

Mr Beazley's public position was immediately opposed by his frontbench environment spokesman and left-wing factional leader, Anthony Albanese. "I will be opposing this all the way to the national conference next year for all the reasons I have opposed it all along," Mr Albanese told The Australian last night. "I was consulted on this decision, I counselled against it and said I thought it was wrong."

Mr Beazley said Labor's new policy should focus on export controls rather than the mines themselves, because Australia was already the world's second biggest supplier of mined uranium and the expansion of South Australia's Olympic Dam mine would make us the biggest. He is proposing three tests for countries wanting to buy Australian uranium: accept the nuclear non-proliferation treaty; accept the world's strictest safeguards on the peaceful use of uranium; and join Australia's new diplomatic initiative against nuclear proliferation.

Environment Minister Ian Campbell said Mr Beazley had taken 20 years to do a backflip on uranium mining and it highlighted Labor confusion over a comprehensive energy and environment plan. Industry and Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane said Mr Beazley could not wait months before setting out the policy, but had to do it now. "If this is Mr Beazley's position, then we need to see the policy now and the West Australian and Queensland Labor Governments can act on it," Mr Macfarlane said.

But Labor's resources spokesman, Martin Ferguson, another left-winger, supports the Beazley decision. Australian Workers Union leader and Labor candidate Bill Shorten said yesterday Mr Beazley's change of position showed that the party was serious about winning the next election. Mr Shorten said Mr Beazley's intervention was significant and the policy would be changed at the ALP conference next year. "The policy of no new mines was a 'half-pregnant' policy and people got around it in South Australia by linking any number of mines with a road and calling it one mine," Mr Shorten said. "Kim's calling a spade a spade. The no new mines policy was an economic ball and chain around Labor's leg and doing away with it makes economic sense." Acting South Australian Premier Kevin Foley said the decision was sensible and "will give great confidence to the mining industry in South Australia". Mr Foley said: "We're on the verge of a mining boom, this is a great leadership decision by Kim Beazley supporting that shown by Mike Rann."

More here


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

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

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


25 July, 2006


From "Comptes Rendus Geosciences"

Antarctica ice sheet mass balance

By: Frederique Remy and Massimo Frezzotti


The mass balance of the Antarctica ice sheet is one of the sources of uncertainty about the sea-level rise. However it is not easy to determine the mass balance due to a lack of knowledge of the physical processes affecting both the ice dynamics and the polar climate. Other limitations are the long time lag between a perturbation and its effect, but also the lack of reliable data, the size of the continent and finally the huge range of variability involved. This article examines the results given by three different ways of estimating mass balance, first by measuring the difference between mass input and output, second by monitoring the changing geometry of the continent and third by modelling both the dynamic and climatic evolution of the continent. The concluding synthesis suggests that the East Antarctica ice sheet is more or less in balance, except for a slight signature of Holocene warming, which is still active at the current time. On the contrary, the West Antarctica ice sheet seems to be more sensitive to current warming.


5. Synthesis and conclusion

Observations of the Antarctica ice sheet suggest that the East Antarctica ice sheet is nowadays more or less in balance, while the West Antarctica ice sheet exhibits some changes likely to be related to climate change and is in negative balance. For the East Antarctica ice sheet, the component survey method indicates a slight positive imbalance of 22 +/- 23km^3 yr^-1 (0.065 mm^-1eq. s.l.), while survey by altimetry gives an upper limit of twice this value and the coffee-can technique indicates steady-state conditions in the surveyed sector of East Antarctica. The model finds a slight negative imbalance for this part due to the actual response of the warming of the Holocene, as the signature of this signal was indeed observed with altimetry analysis. For the western part, the component survey suggests a negative imbalance of 48 +/- 14 km^3 yr^-1 (+0.14mm yr^-1 eq. s.l.) and the altimetry survey a negative imbalance of 59 +/- 60 km^3 yr^-1 (+0.18 mm yr^-1 eq. s.l.), which may be explained by the retreat of ice shelves. These observations, namely a slight increase of the east part and a significant decrease of the western part, have been recently confirmed by the analysis of 2.5 yr of Grace [32].

Modelling of the Antarctica ice sheet [21] suggests that the current response of the Antarctica ice sheet is dominated by the background trend due to the retreat of the grounding line, leading to a sea-level rise of 0.4 mm yr^-1 over the short-time scale (100 yr). This component is again found to be dominant during the following centuries, depending on the climate scenario. Later, the precipitation increase will counterbalance this residual signal, leading to a thickening of the ice sheet and thus a decrease in sea level. Taking into account the low and middle scenarios leads to a decrease in sea level over the next millennium, while the high scenario inverses the trend in 500 years due to the grounding-line retreat. It should be noted that the time when the trend is reversed not only depends on the climatic scenario, but also on the ice shelves modelling, basal melting rate beneath ice shelves being the most critical factor to be estimated.

However, these determinist models do not take into account the stochastic fluctuations of the forcing given the inertia of the ice sheet. For instance, taking random fluctuations of snow accumulation rate into account alone yields a probability of a present-day induced sea level rise of between 0.5 and 1 mm yr^-1 over a 30-year time scale at 10%10% [40].

Both observations and modelling are still not reliable enough. Let us point out some limitations and problems that should be carefully considered.

The more critical factor is probably the surface mass balance, which varies from location to location due to interaction between precipitation and wind driven by slope along wind direction [9] and [11]. One of the major unexpected discoveries regarding cryosphere/atmosphere interaction was indeed made in the remotest part of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet with the discovery of the megadunes [6] and [9]. Major gaps in our knowledge of the temporal and spatial variability processes and of the exact relation between climate change and precipitation change prevent us from producing a reliable estimate of current surface mass balance and from predicting its future trend.

From the point of view of ice sheet dynamics, observations of the Antarctic Ice Sheet over the last decade have identified recent unexpected changes, which are much more dynamic than previously thought. Thus our idea of a slowly evolving Antarctic ice sheet is radically changing [22]. However, the models lack some of the physical processes that may explain these unexpected changes. For instance, a limitation on predicting the future with respect to actual measurements and knowledge lies in the effect of ice-shelf retreat on upslope glaciers. It may be argued either that ice-shelf retreat has little effect on glaciers or that the breaking up of the ice-shelf will accelerate. Considerable improvements are also needed, in particular for characterizing fast moving outlet glaciers. The first results with ICEsat on the glaciers of the Ross embayment suggest that we can hope a very good precision with a very fine space resolution [46]. Lastly, due to numerical limitations, small-scale features such as fast glaciers are poorly taken into account, so that ice sheet modelling underestimates rates of changes [2].

The ICEsat satellite, launched in 2003, will enable measuring of ice sheet mass balance, but on a small temporal scale, which is insufficient for inferring long-term trends. Grace, launched in 2002, will give access to change in ice mass. By combining this data with the ERS and Envisat series, uncertainty with respect to ice sheet mass balance will be reduced.

In the future, the launch of several satellites dedicated to the study of the ice sheet may further our understanding of the physical processes acting on ice sheet and of its actual state. Unhappily due to a launch failure, the Cryosat satellite, devoted for the survey of polar regions, is postponed. Carisma mission, a P-band radar designed to sound the ice sheet, will provide us with exact ice thickness and volume, and will detect internal ice layering, which will be of great help for ice-sheet modelling.

Saving what from whom?

By Thomas Sowell

When conservationists talk about "saving" this and "protecting" that, a logical question might be: Saving it from whom? Protecting it from whom? And why should the government force what you want on someone else who obviously wants something different, or there would not be an issue in the first place? After all, the Constitution says that all citizens are entitled to the "equal protection of the laws."

Such questions almost never get asked. Nor do evidence or logic play much of a role in most conservation issues. Instead, we hear rhapsodies about "open space," sneers at "urban sprawl" and self-congratulatory phrases like "smart growth." In short, rhetoric has long since replaced reasons on this as on so many other issues.

The latest conservation crusade has been announced in the San Francisco Bay area -- putting an additional one million acres aside as "open space." According to an official of the Peninsula Open Space Trust, the next couple of decades represent "the last chance" to "save" these million acres. The fashionable phrase is: "Once it's paved, it can't be saved."

Just to introduce a few facts into all these rhetorical flourishes, there are four and a half million acres of land in the San Francisco Bay Area. Less than one-sixth of this land has been developed. So we are not talking saving the last few patches of greenery from being paved over. More than a million acres are already legally off-limits to development while less than three-quarters of a million acres are actually developed.

What then is the urgency about making another million acres of land legally off-limits to building anything? Because otherwise, more people will move into the area over time and, since they don't want to live outdoors, they will want to have housing. That bothers the conservationists, who prefer trees to houses. If they can't cut these other people off at the pass by making it illegal to build anything on an additional million acres, they can at least force those people to live in the kinds of housing that conservationists want to restrict them to, rather than the kinds of housing that these people prefer for themselves. That's called "smart growth." What is smart about it is another question.

An international study of 26 urban areas with "severely unaffordable" housing found 23 of those 26 subject to strong "smart growth" policies. What is "smart" about causing skyrocketing housing prices by making it illegal to build anything on vast amounts of land? It is smart if you already own a home and the astronomical costs of buying or renting are going to have to be paid by other people who move into the area. It may be especially smart if restrictions on building cause the value of the home you already own to go up by leaps and bounds.

The San Francisco Bay area already has housing prices about three times the national average. The heavy burden that this places on people is reflected in the fact that two-thirds of the purchases of homes last year were financed with risky "interest-only" loans. That means that the mortgage payments for the first few years do not reduce the amount owed by one cent. Moreover, since these are usually adjustable-rate mortgages, the payments can shoot up as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates.

The connection between severe restrictions on building and skyrocketing housing prices can be seen from evidence around the country and around the world, wherever people have succumbed to rhetoric about "smart growth" and sneers at "urban sprawl." Severe restrictions on building began in the Bay Area back in the 1970s. At the beginning of that decade, housing in this area was as affordable as in other parts of the country. A median income family in the Bay Area could pay off the mortgage on a median-priced house in just 13 years, using just one-fourth of their income. A decade later, it took 40 percent of their income to pay off the mortgage in 30 years. Today it requires 50 percent. Very "smart."


The effects of aerosols

A scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science and his colleagues caused a storm in the atmospheric community when they suggested a few years back that tiny airborne particles, known as aerosols, may be one of the main culprits causing climate change - having, on a local scale, an even greater impact than the greenhouse gases effect. Attempts to understand how these particles influence clouds have generated many uncertainties. A new paper by Dr. Ilan Koren of the Weizmann Institute Environmental Studies and Energy Research Department and Dr. Yoram Kauffman of the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, USA,* published in Science Express online, weaves together two opposing effects of atmospheric aerosols to provide a comprehensive picture of how they may be affecting our climate.

Cloud formation is dependent upon the presence of small amounts of aerosols such as sea salt and desert dust. These tiny particles serve as the seeds around which water vapor in the air condenses, forming tiny water droplets that rise as they release heat. As the small droplets rise, they collide and merge with larger droplets. When the droplets reach a critical size, gravity takes over, causing them to fall from the cloud in the form of rain.

One of the controversies surrounding the extent of aerosol impact on climate change is the duality of their influence. On the one hand, Koren and his colleagues previously found evidence to suggest that the extra seeds planted in the atmosphere by the emission of man-made aerosols (pollution, forest fires, and fuel combustion) lead to more, but smaller-sized, water droplets. The formation of larger water droplets by the collision process is less efficient and, therefore, rainfall is suppressed. The smaller droplets are lifted higher up into the atmosphere, creating larger and taller clouds that will persist longer. Not only does this alter the whole water cycle, but the increased cloud cover reflects more of the sun's radiation back into space, creating a local cooling effect on Earth.

But to complicate matters, Koren, in another study, showed that certain types of aerosols - those containing black carbon - can also decrease cloud cover, ultimately leading to a warming effect. This occurs as black carbon absorbs part of the sun's radiation, warming the surrounding atmosphere and reducing the difference in temperature between the Earth's surface and the upper atmosphere. This combination prevents atmospheric instability - the condition needed to form clouds and rain. A stable atmosphere means fewer clouds; fewer clouds mean less reflection of sunlight; less reflection of sunlight and absorption of radiation lead to warming.

Policy makers have argued that, in the bottom line, the warming effect of the greenhouse gases and the (mainly cooling) aerosol effect may balance each other out so that the net global climate change will be small. Koren argues that it is the local climate change that is problematic: Clouds may persist without releasing their rain over regions where they would normally precipitate, such as rainforests, and move to precipitate over regions where rain is not needed, such as oceans. Or the effect could lead to the warming up of cold and the cooling down of hot regions. These additional effects to the already problematic warming by greenhouse gases could have disastrous repercussions in the long run.

Also controversial is the question of how such tiny localized particles affect weather systems thousands of kilometers away from their sources. There is no doubt that aerosols do play a role, but the skeptics believe it is negligible compared to meteorological key players such as temperature, pressure, the amount of water vapor in the air, and wind strength.

What Koren needed was a way to separate meteorological from aerosol influences - something which was lacking in his previous studies. Together with Kauffman, he used a network of ground sensors (AERONET) to measure the effect of aerosol concentration on cloud cover. Radiation absorption is less affected by meteorology, so if the skeptics are right and meteorology is the main influence, then the correlation between aerosol absorption and cloud cover should have been seen in only a few circumstances. But this was not the case. They observed the duality effect on clouds: As total aerosols increase, cloud cover increases; and as radiation absorption by aerosols increases, cloud cover decreases - for all locations, for all seasons. Backed up with a mathematical analysis, it becomes harder to deny that it is, in fact, aerosols that have the major influence.

"We hope that this study has finally provided closure," says Koren. "Hopefully policy makers will start to tackle the issue of climate change from a different perspective, taking into account not only the global impact of aerosols and greenhouse gases, but local effects too."


A Waste of Energy: Yucca Mountain hangs in nuclear limbo

"As you can see, Yucca Mountain isn't really a mountain," says our guide as we near the end of an hour-long bus ride, about 100 miles north from Las Vegas. "Those of you who know geology will recognize it's only a ridge." The Department of Energy gives monthly tours these days, anxious to prove--after almost 25 years--it still intends to open its Nuclear Waste Repository at Yucca Mountain someday. The trip, however, feels like an expedition into hostile territory. The whole state of Nevada is on the warpath over the project.

"See those buildings off on the left there," says our guide as we pass through the sagebrush. "They're brothels. As you may know, prostitution is legal in certain Nevada counties. The state has no trouble supplying them with water, but for almost a year they wouldn't give us any. We used port-o-potties for quite a long time." As it turns out, though, the brothels have their upside. Anticipating a surge in business from the construction project, they are among the few locals supporting the project.

Right now the Yucca Mountain Repository consists of one five-mile long tunnel dug into the side of the mountain/ridge. In 1994, a locomotive-like device with a 25-foot drill face started burrowing about 185 feet a day. After a mile into the mountain it turned left for three miles, then left again, re-emerging only five feet from its target. A video at the visitors' gallery shows the whirling snout breaking through the cliff face like a diver returning to the surface, as staff members in hardhats stood and cheered. That was 1997. Nothing much has happened since.

The whole project is now tied down in environmental impact statements. The Environmental Protection Agency set a standard that radiation from the site should not exceed 15 millirems a year (about one chest x-ray) for 10,000 years. Environmentalists screamed that wasn't enough. They wanted a million years. A federal court, of course, agreed. So the EPA set a standard of 350 millirems for the next million years (about two-thirds of what people in Denver get from natural sources) and environmentalists are screaming that isn't good enough either. Nobody has suggested how these standards are to be monitored.

Naturally, in trying to make such preposterous forecasts, somebody winged some numbers somewhere and that's what made it into the papers. Now the press and politicians are playing "the government lied to us."

So the bad news is that it's going to be a long, long time--if ever--before Yucca Mountain is completed. If a license is issued, there are seven more years of construction ahead, then another round of federal permits. Meanwhile, Entergy, the country's second-leading operator of nuclear plants, has collected a multimillion-dollar settlement against DOE for failing to take the spent fuel off its hands by 1998, as promised by the Energy Policy Act of 1982. Others will surely follow.

The good news is that all this probably doesn't make much difference. Nuclear power is about to undergo a resurgence in this country--with or without Yucca Mountain. In the first place, the whole idea that there is such a thing as "nuclear waste" is a bit of a misconception. More than 98% of the material in a spent nuclear fuel rod is being recycled in other parts of the world. About 97% of spent fuel is uranium: 2% is fissionable U-235 isotope, the fuel that powers the reactor and the other 95% is good old U-238, the same non-fissionable isotope that comes out of the ground. It can't be used for bombs. Sure, it has a half-life of four billion years (that's why environmentalists think they have to sit and watch it for a million years) but this is the same stuff that's in granite.

No, the isotope everybody really worries about is plutonium-239, which is formed when small amounts of U-238 absorb neutrons during the three-year cycle. It makes up 1% of spent fuel. Separating it and putting it back in a reactor as "mixed oxide fuel" (uranium plus plutonium) is no problem.

Unfortunately, back in 1976, Jimmy Carter decided that if we extracted the plutonium, somebody might run off with it and make a bomb. Therefore he cancelled fuel recycling. That created the problem of "nuclear waste." France recycles all its fuel rods and has never had any plutonium stolen. As for the remaining 2% of the fuel rod--the highly radioactive transuranic elements and fission byproducts--it is all stored in a single room in Le Havre.

The real waste problem in this country is the 10 million tons of carbon dioxide we throw into the atmosphere every day from coal-fired electric boilers. That constitutes almost 15% of the world's carbon dioxide garbage, which environmentalists warn us is causing global warming. It's ironic that these same people are also opposing the only technology that could conceivably replace those coal plants.

No, it's more than ironic--it's dishonest. In "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore lifts the "seven-wedge" approach to global warming from Robert Socolow, director of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative at Princeton. Mr. Socolow's main "wedges" are efficiency, conservation, fuel switching, renewables, carbon sequestration, reforestation--and "nuclear fission." Mr. Gore conveniently leaves nuclear out.

Even as Yucca submerges slowly beneath a raft of environmental impact statements, alternatives are emerging. Some utilities are using "dry cask storage," simple upright concrete containers surrounded by a barbed-wire fence. "Dry storage is safe on the order of 50 to 100 years," says Allison Macfarlane, co-editor of "Uncertainty Underground," an anthology on the Yucca situation. "Geological repositories are the ultimate solution but there's no need to rush into one right now." The 221-member Goshute Tribe has signed a $1 million contract to accept nuclear material on its reservation in Utah. A group of Wyoming businessmen want to do the same thing at Owl Creek.

As half a dozen utilities prepare to submit applications for new reactors to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, perhaps the best role for DOE's effort will be to serve as a distraction. While environmentalists continue their war dance around Yucca Mountain, a revived nuclear industry will be solving their global warming problem for them.



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

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

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


24 July, 2006

Have You Hugged a Hummer Today?

Hybrid vehicles' overall energy costs exceed those of comparable non-hybrids

Ford Motor Company did itself a huge favor recently by backing away from its pledge to bump-up its hybrid production ten-fold in four years. But, as it turns out, the company might have done the planet a whale of a favor too. Just last fall, CEO Bill Ford was valiantly promising in a mega-million dollar ad campaign that the company would never, ever turn away from its hybrid pledge because these vehicles were central to the company's reputation as an "innovator and environmental steward."

Never mind that at the time Ford was losing $2,000 to $3,000 for every hybrid it sold because consumers won't pay the entire $6,000 extra that it costs to produce a hybrid over its gas-powered counterpart. Never mind also that in the real world -- outside of the Environmental Protection Agency's tax-payer funded testing sites -- hybrids don't deliver anywhere close to the gas mileage that the agency attributes to them, as auto-writer Richard Burr reported in the Weekly Standard.

Bill Ford had given his word on hybrids and you could take that to the bank (ruptcy court). But hybrids have received such a thrashing in the market lately that even Ford was forced to take-off his green eye-shades and read the red-ink on the wall. According to Art Spinella, the uber-auto analyst and President of CNW Marketing Research, hybrid sales every month this year have been down compared to the same time last year. Even sales of the Toyota Prius - the darling of the greens - have dropped significantly. The only segment besides taxis where hybrids are still holding steady - taxpayers will be happy to note -- is the car fleets maintained by the government.

What's particularly interesting is that individual consumers are defying all expectations and turning their backs on hybrids at a time when gas prices are soaring. (The average U.S. retail price of gas spiked to a record high of $3.01 last September following hurricane Katrina, and just last week it hit its second highest price ever at nearly $3.00.) Nor is the reason all that mysterious. Spinella's customer satisfaction surveys show that 62 percent of hybrid owners are dissatisfied with the fuel-economy performance of their cars given what they have paid for them. This means that when gas prices go up, these people don't rush out to buy more hybrids. "They buy a Chevy Aveo," says Spinella. "It delivers the same fuel economy as a Prius, but at half the price."

Consumer interest might revive if the cost of hybrids goes down substantially - or the cost of fuel goes up and stays up for a long period of time, Spinella believes. Until then, however, the hybrid market is unlikely to come out of the deep freeze, a reality that even Ford had to finally acknowledge. But despite all these drawbacks, hybrids are at least better for the environment than say... a Hummer, right? Nope.

Spinella spent two years on the most comprehensive study to date - dubbed "Dust to Dust" -- collecting data on the energy necessary to plan, build, sell, drive and dispose of a car from the initial conception to scrappage. He even included in the study such minutia as plant-to-dealer fuel costs of each vehicle, employee driving distances, and electricity usage per pound of material. All this data was then boiled down to an "energy cost per mile" figure for each car. Comparing this data, the study concludes that overall hybrids cost more in terms of overall energy consumed than comparable non-hybrid vehicles. But even more surprising, smaller hybrids' energy costs are greater than many large, non-hybrid SUVs.

For instance, the dust-to-dust energy cost of the bunny-sized Honda Civic hybrid is $3.238 per mile. This is quite a bit more than the $1.949 per mile that the elephantine Hummer costs. The energy cots of SUVs such as the Tahoe, Escalade, and Navigator are similarly far less than the Civic hybrid. As for Ford cars, a Ford Escape hybrid costs $3.2 per mile - about a third more than the regular Escape. But on the whole, ironically enough, the dust-to-dust costs of many of the Ford non-hybrids - Fusion, Milan, Zephyr - are not only lower than comparable Japanese hybrids - Prius, Accord -- but also non-hybrids - Seville, Civic.

Spinella's finding that a Hummer on the whole consumes less energy than a hybrid than even some smaller hybrids and non-hybrids has infuriated environmentalists. And on its face it does seem implausible that a gas-guzzling monster like a Hummer that employs several times more raw material than a little Prius' could be so much less energy-intensive. But by and large the dust-to-dust energy costs in Spinella's study correlate with the fanciness of the car - not its size or fuel economy -- with the Rolls Royces and Bentleys consuming gobs of energy and Mazda 3s, Saturns and Taurus consuming relatively minuscule amounts.

As for Hummers, Spinella explains, the life of these cars averaged across various models is over 300,000 miles. By contrast, Prius' life - according to Toyota's own numbers - is 100,000 miles. Furthermore, Hummer is a far less sophisticated vehicle. Its engine obviously does not have an electric and gas component as a hybrid's does so it takes much less time and energy to manufacture. What's more, its main raw ingredient is low-cost steel, not the exotic light-weights that are exceedingly difficult to make - and dispose. But the biggest reason why a Hummer's energy use is so low is that it shares many components with other vehicles and therefore its design and development energy costs are spread across many cars.

It is not possible to do this with a specialty product like hybrid. All in all, Spinella insists, the energy costs of disposing a Hummer are 60 percent less than an average hybrid's and its design and development costs are 80 percent less.

One of the most perverse things about U.S. consumers buying hybrids is that while this might reduce air pollution in their own cities, they increase pollution - and energy consumption -- in Japan and other Asian countries where these cars are predominantly manufactured. "In effect, they are exporting pollution and energy consumption," Spinella says.

But while the environment has dodged Ford's hybrid foray, Toyota has shown no planetary concerns. It is going full throttle ahead with its plan of putting one million hybrids on the road by the end of the decade. Nor is there much hope that it will back-off in the near future given that it has already sunk $2 billion just in hybrid-related research and development, Spinella points out. Ironically Ford and some of the other car makers' exit from the hybrid segment means that Toyota will be able to consolidate its domination in it even more. Thus the only hope of prodding Toyota to get out of the hybrid business would be if its customers jumped off the Prius bandwagon and embraced non-hybrids - even Hummers -- instead. Now here's a catchy slogan for the next Save the Earth campaign: Have you hugged a Hummer today?


What an Electric Vehicle Costs

Post lifted from David Friedman

In an earlier post I mentioned the controversy over GM's EV1 sparked by a new film, with some people arguing that the all electric vehicle was a viable design scrapped by GM for vague but sinister reasons. In my view, the best evidence against that comes not from GM's experience-the facts about the EV1's performance are disputed and it's hard for an outsider to distinguish between startup costs and production costs in order to figure out what a commercial version of the car would have cost-but from the behavior of other auto firms. If a commercially viable electric car could have been produced, it is hard to see why some auto firm wouldn't have produced it-and none did.

We now have a little more evidence. Tesla Motors, a Bay Area startup, has announced that they will be bringing a fully electric vehicle to market in about a year. The relevant facts:

1. Range: 250 miles per charge.
2. Recharge time: 3 1/2 hours with a 240 volt/70 ampere source, longer with ordinary house current.
3. Configuration: Sports car.
4. Price: $85,000-$100,000.
5. Operating cost: 2.6 cents/mile if electricity is 13 cents/kwh.

If gas costs $3/gallon, the per mile cost for a vehicle averaging 25 mpg is 12 cents, so the electric vehicle saves less than ten cents per mile. If we assume a 100,000 mile lifetime, that's less than ten thousand dollars, which doesn't make up for much of the cost difference between the electric car and a conventional vehicle.

The range is sufficient for many people's needs, although not all. But a sports car does not have to carry many passengers or much luggage, leaving more space for batteries. That suggests that a sedan would either be much heavier and more expensive or have a substantially shorter range.

So the evidence suggests that the electric car is not yet viable as a mass market vehicle, although it may be competitive in the expensive sports car niche.

Readers interested in the EV1 controversy may want to revisit the thread I linked to earlier, with particular attention to the posts by Phil Karn, who joined the discussion after my original post. Phil-known to some of us as a party in an important encryption lawsuit-actually owned an EV1, and so was able to provide some first hand evidence from his own experience. He also has an interesting web page on the subject.


The Bush administration's new program to cut harmful pollutants from utilities through a cap-and-trade system will do nearly as much to clean the nation's air as the Clinton administration's effort to make aging power plants install pollution controls when they modernize or expand, a report by an independent scientific panel has concluded. The report from the National Academy of Sciences, released yesterday, represents the latest effort to assess how best to reduce air pollution estimated to cause as many as 24,000 premature deaths each year. The panel concluded that an earlier Bush plan would have allowed pollution to increase over a dozen years, but it found that the administration's more recent Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) -- which targets emissions from power plants in 22 states and the District of Columbia -- would help clean the air over the next two decades.

The CAIR approach aims to reduce nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions by 70 percent by 2025 at the latest, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, through a system that would allow utilities to sell and buy pollution credits as long as industry emissions as a whole stayed below a pre-set cap. The Clinton administration had focused on cutting emissions under the 1970 Clean Air Act through a program called New Source Review (NSR), now discarded, which required aging plants to install new, cleaner technology every time they upgraded facilities.

The Bush administration initially proposed changes to New Source Review that would have allowed power companies to modify their plants by as much as 20 percent of their value without installing new controls, a policy the scientific panel said "would be expected to cause an increase" in both sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide that would have been "possibly substantial." That plan has largely been struck down by the courts, however, so the scientific panel instead looked at the cap-and-trade rule the administration adopted this spring.

The academy committee's chairman, Charles F. Stevens, a molecular neurobiology professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., said that while the rule would help reduce pollution, "you can't conclude" it would be as uniformly effective as Clinton's approach, because some communities might face serious pollution from aging power plants that chose to buy credits rather than install advanced emission controls. The report also noted that "because of a lack of data and the limitations of current [computer] models," the panel had difficulty predicting the impact of the program on emissions, public health and energy efficiency.

Using an assumption that federal officials would have been able to force 7.5 percent of aging power plants to clean up their operations each year if they had continued with Clinton's approach, Stevens added, NSR would have done as much to clean the air as the cap-and-trade system.

William L. Wehrum, EPA's acting assistant administrator for air and radiation, said that was an "implausible" assumption and added that NSR would only have achieved the same result as the Bush administration's strategy if 98 percent of all power plants complied over the next 20 years. "Any reasonable projection of what NSR is going to accomplish won't come close to what CAIR is going to accomplish," Wehrum said in an interview. The Bush plan "gets significant reductions across the power sector but places greater emphasis on controlling the biggest emitters, which are the places we care about most." Scott Segal, a utilities lobbyist, concurred that the report proved "cap-and-trade programs are really what reduce emissions."

But John Walke, who directs the clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group, said the study shows the administration has not adopted sufficiently aggressive curbs on pollution. "This report shows that strong Clean Air Act enforcement with a robust cap-and-trade program will better protect the public from power plant pollution than the Bush administration's path of nonenforcement and weak pollution trading that drags out twenty years," Walke said, adding the administration was offering a "reckless misinterpretation" of the report's conclusions


Gas escaping from ocean floor may drive global warming

Gas escaping from the ocean floor may provide some answers to understanding historical global warming cycles and provide information on current climate changes, according to a team of scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The findings are reported in the July 20 on-line version of the scientific journal, Global Biogeochemical Cycles. Remarkable and unexpected support for this idea occurred when divers and scientists from UC Santa Barbara observed and videotaped a massive blowout of methane from the ocean floor. It happened in an area of gas and oil seepage coming out of small volcanoes in the ocean floor of the Santa Barbara channel -- called Shane Seep -- near an area known as the Coal Oil Point seep field. The blowout sounded like a freight train, according to the divers.

Atmospheric methane is at least 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide and is the most abundant organic compound in the atmosphere, according to the study's authors, all from UC Santa Barbara. "Other people have reported this type of methane blowout, but no one has ever checked the numbers until now," said Ira Leifer, lead author and an associate researcher with UCSB's Marine Science Institute. "Ours is the first set of numbers associated with a seep blowout." Leifer was in a research boat on the surface at the time of the blowouts.

Aside from underwater measurements, a nearby meteorological station measured the methane "cloud" that emerged as being approximately 5,000 cubic feet, or equal to the volume of the entire first floor of a two-bedroom house. The research team also had a small plane in place, flown by the California Department of Conservation, shooting video of the event from the air.

Leifer explained that when this type of blowout event occurs, virtually all the gas from the seeps escapes into the atmosphere, unlike the emission of small bubbles from the ocean floor, which partially, or mostly, dissolve in the ocean water. Transporting this methane to the atmosphere affects climate, according to the researchers. The methane blowout that the UCSB team witnessed reached the sea surface 60 feet above in just seven seconds. This was clear because the divers injected green food dye into the rising bubble plume.

Co-author Bruce Luyendyk, professor of marine geophysics and geological sciences, explained that, to understand the significance of this event (which occurred in 2002), the UCSB research team turned to a numerical, bubble-propagation model. With the model, they estimated methane loss to the ocean during the upward travel of the bubble plume. The results showed that for this shallow seep, loss would have been approximately one percent. Virtually all the methane, 99 percent of it, was transported to the atmosphere from this shallow seep during the blowout. Next, the scientists used the model to estimate methane loss for a similar size blowout at much greater depth, 250 meters. Again, the model results showed that almost all the methane would be transported up to the atmosphere.

Over geologic time scales, global climate has cycled between warmer, interglacial periods and cooler, glacial periods. Many aspects of the forces underlying these dramatic changes remain unknown. Looking at past changes is highly relevant to understanding future climate changes, particularly given the large increase in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere due to historically recent human activities such as burning fossil fuels.

One hypothesis, called the "Clathrate Gun" hypothesis, developed by James Kennett, professor of geological sciences at UCSB, proposes that past shifts from glacial to interglacial periods were caused by a massive decomposition of the marine methane hydrate deposits.

Methane hydrate is a form of water ice that contains a large amount of methane within its crystal structure, called a clathrate hydrate. According to Kennett's hypothesis, climatic destabilization would cause a sharp increase in atmospheric methane -- thereby initiating a feedback cycle of abrupt atmospheric warming. This process may threaten the current climate, according to the researchers. Warmer ocean temperatures from current global climate change is likely to release methane currently trapped in vast hydrate deposits on the continental shelves. However, consumption of methane by microbes in the deep sea prevents methane gas released from hydrates from reaching the ocean surface and affecting the atmosphere.

Bubbles provide a highly efficient mechanism for transporting methane and have been observed rising from many different hydrate deposits around the world. If these bubbles escape singly, most or all of their methane would dissolve into the deep-sea and never reach the atmosphere. If instead, they escape in a dense bubble plume, or in catastrophic blowout plumes, such as the one studied by UCSB researchers, then much of the methane could reach the atmosphere. Blowout seepage could explain how methane from hydrates could reach the atmosphere, abruptly triggering global warming. Thus, these first-ever quantitative measurements of a seep blowout and the results from the numerical model demonstrate a mechanism by which methane released from hydrates can reach the atmosphere. Studies of seabed seep features suggest such events are common in the area of the Coal Oil Point seep field and very likely occur elsewhere.

The authors explain that these results show that an important piece of the global climate puzzle may be explained by understanding bubble-plume processes during blowout events. The next important step is to measure the frequency and magnitude of these events. The UCSB seep group is working toward this goal through the development of a long-term, seep observatory in active seep areas.


The heat is on the scientists

During the past week's heat wave--it hit 100 degrees in New York City Monday--I got thinking, again, of how sad and frustrating it is that the world's greatest scientists cannot gather, discuss the question of global warming, pore over all the data from every angle, study meteorological patterns and temperature histories, and come to a believable conclusion on these questions: Is global warming real or not? If it is real, is it necessarily dangerous? What exactly are the dangers? Is global warming as dangerous as, say, global cooling would be? Are we better off with an Earth that is getting hotter or, what with the modern realities of heating homes and offices, and the world energy crisis, and the need to conserve, does global heating have, in fact, some potential side benefits, and can those benefits be broadened and deepened? Also, if global warning is real, what must--must--the inhabitants of the Earth do to meet its challenges? And then what should they do to meet them?

You would think the world's greatest scientists could do this, in good faith and with complete honesty and a rigorous desire to discover the truth. And yet they can't. Because science too, like other great institutions, is poisoned by politics. Scientists have ideologies. They are politicized. All too many of them could be expected to enter this work not as seekers for truth but agents for a point of view who are eager to use whatever data can be agreed upon to buttress their point of view. And so, in the end, every report from every group of scientists is treated as a political document. And no one knows what to believe. So no consensus on what to do can emerge.

If global warming is real, and if it is new, and if it is caused not by nature and her cycles but man and his rapacity, and if it in fact endangers mankind, scientists will probably one day blame The People for doing nothing. But I think The People will have a greater claim to blame the scientists, for refusing to be honest, for operating in cliques and holding to ideologies. For failing to be trustworthy.



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

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

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


23 July, 2006

Senate's top climate skeptic turns up heat on media

Sen. James Inhofe -- who calls human-induced climate change "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind" -- is using his chairmanship of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to spank journalists who fail to give equal time to global-warming skeptics. The Oklahoma Republican has used interviews and press releases to question the objectivity of reporters who cover climate issues. Two recent targets are former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw and Associated Press science reporter Seth Borenstein. Inhofe called Brokaw "a pawn of the Democratic Party" for keeping skeptics out of his recent Discovery Channel documentary. And Inhofe challenged Borenstein's article that asked more than 100 scientists for their views on former Vice President Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth," for not including Gore's critics.

A 71-year old former insurance executive, Inhofe has never been shy about confronting climate scientists, environmentalists, Hollywood producers and fellow senators. But in setting his sights on the press, Inhofe appears to be incorporating a strategy hatched by the committee's new communications director, Marc Morano.

As a reporter for the conservative Cybercast News Service from 2001 until earlier this year, Morano peppered his climate reporting with skeptics' views that have surfaced as themes in Inhofe's recent press attacks. Earlier this year, for example, Morano wrote about NASA scientist James Hansen's contributions to the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. John Kerry (Mass.). Inhofe's press release questions why Brokaw failed to mention the political ties of Hansen and other scientists interviewed for the Discovery report.

During the 2004 United Nations conference in Buenos Aires, Morano wrote how environmental activists chastised him for asking skeptical questions about science during a session on global warming's effects on inhabitants of the Arctic Circle. Inhofe's release challenging the Associated Press included a demand for a list of the skeptics who the news service contacted to review Gore's film.

Morano, who worked as a producer in the mid-90s for radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, was also among the first reporters to write about the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign scrutinizing Kerry's Vietnam War record. And earlier this year, Morano penned an article questioning the Purple Heart medals of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a leading critic of Bush's Iraq policy.

In an interview, Morano said Inhofe's latest statements target journalists because they have focused so heavily on the effects of global warming when the science is still open for debate. "The media has essentially white-washed the whole issue," Morano said. "There has been a love fest in the media on this." Morano insisted the press does not give a fair shake to skeptics, particularly news organizations with reporters who he says have a financial stake in the issue. For example, he questioned The New York Times' coverage of climate since one of its science reporter, Andrew Revkin, has written a book on the effects of global warming on the North Pole. Sales of Revkin's book, Morano argued, would be enhanced by his paper's coverage of climate. "We're not just shooting arrows," Morano said.

Intimidation factor?

Inhofe's critics question the propriety of the efforts of the committee's chairman and communications director and wonder if it will have any effect on press coverage and public understanding of climate change. Some journalism professors say Inhofe's goal might be to intimidate reporters and editors, particularly in smaller markets that rely on the Associated Press for Washington coverage. This, they say, could damage the public's understanding of the issue at a time when scientific evidence of global warming is growing. "It strikes me that the public relations people for Senator Inhofe are trying to distract the media by attacking the media for fairly reporting what the vast majority of scientists are reporting," said Jim Detjen, director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University. "It's a last ditch effort to now attack the journalists," Detjen added. "I really believe it's nonsense."

Dan Fagin, a former Newsday environmental reporter who now teaches journalism at New York University, said he did not think Inhofe's criticism would affect Brokaw or his reputation. But he said the attacks on the Associated Press might convince some small newspapers and radio and television stations against running the wire service's stories on climate issues rather than wrestle with a Senate committee chairman. Fagin also suggested Inhofe might be attacking the press to toss red meat to conservative activists before midterm elections. "It's about ginning up the base," he said. "That kind of character assassination goes a long way on both counts. It's reprehensive, but it's a very effective political strategy."

Detjen likened Inhofe's efforts to other historical events where politicians have taken aim at the media, from President Teddy Roosevelt dubbing investigative reporters "muckrakers" to former President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew's condemnation of the press in the wake of the Watergate break-in. Media criticism has escalated during President Bush's time in the Oval Office amid news reports of several controversial secret domestic surveillance programs.

The Discovery Channel did not return calls for comment on Brokaw's report. The Associated Press, in a prepared statement, said Inhofe wrongly characterized Borenstein's article. The AP contacted more than 100 climate researchers, including skeptics. But it only quoted the scientists who said they had seen the movie or read the book, which turned out to be a far smaller number than those it surveyed. Generally, the AP said scientists were "positive toward Gore's scientific presentation." "The AP story reported facts," said Linda Wagner, director of AP media relations. "It did not take a position in a debate, whether political or scientific, about global warming."

Inhofe endorsed his press office's work and shrugged off a question over whether he was trying to intimidate reporters. "What are you talking about?" Inhofe said. "The media is 100 percent on the other side."

Outflanking Bush

Inhofe's drive to attack climate skeptics comes as the European Union and much of the industrialized world head full bore into implementing the Kyoto Protocol, the only mandatory program in the world aimed at mitigating rising greenhouse gas levels. And Inhofe's views on climate also run to the right flank of President Bush, who in 2001 pulled the United States out of Kyoto but has said he would address the global warming issue through voluntary programs and more funding for research and technological development.

David Sandretti, communications director for the environment committee's ranking member, Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.), hesitated to discuss Inhofe's motivations for the press releases. "I'm not going to get into commenting on whether the tactic is appropriate," he said. "Clearly, the chairman's press release does not reflect the ranking member's opinion on the topic nor any of the Democrats on the committee." One of the committee's moderate Republicans, Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), said today he disagrees with Inhofe on the science of global warming, but he expressed support for the chairman's right to say whatever he wants. "It's America," Chafee said in an interview. Asked if Inhofe's moves were a waste of taxpayer money, Chafee replied, "He's elected by the people. If his constituents think it's a waste of taxpayer dollars, they can make a change."

One former Hill Republican aide said Inhofe's latest attacks are nothing new. "Give the guy some credit for integrity is my reaction," the former staffer said. "This is consistent with his position on the issue," the aide continued. "I don't think it's necessary to look for ulterior motive. His motives couldn't be more apparent." Jason Grumet, executive director of the National Commission on Energy Policy, said Inhofe's outrage could be a sign that the policy argument is entering a new phase -- one in which environmentalists may also start lashing out if they do not think the developing policy is strong enough. "When you have a debate like this that has been so forcefully engaged for a decade, before it moves to a point of constructive resolution, the last months before that are likely to be marked with peels of anger along the edges," Grumet said. "Maybe this is a sign we're getting close."

Another former Republican Hill aide who disagrees with Inhofe said skeptics have a right to speak out. But the aide added, "There's ways of making your case and there are ways of making your case. I'm not sure attacking the mainstream media is the way to go. "It's counterproductive," the former staffer added. "It's more based on personality and affiliation than it is on the science."

From "Greenwire" of 19th.

Judge Halts Water Project Due to Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

I guess I hardly need to point out that this gives the Greenies a licence to stop anything. One of them has just got to say that he has "sighted" someting rare and that's it! No proof of anything needed

A federal judge temporarily stopped construction on a $320 million irrigation project Thursday, ruling the changes could disturb the habitat of a woodpecker that might or might not be extinct. The first purported sighting of the ivory-billed woodpecker in the area was in 2004, but more than 100 volunteers and researchers who spent weeks last winter trying to find conclusive evidence of its existence came back empty-handed.

Still, U.S. District Judge William R. Wilson said that, for purposes of the lawsuit brought by environmental groups, he had to presume the woodpecker exists in the area. Federal agencies may have violated the Endangered Species Act by not studying the habitat fully, he said. "When an endangered species is allegedly jeopardized, the balance of hardships and public interest tips in favor of the protected species. Here there is evidence," he wrote, that the ivory-billed woodpecker may be jeopardized.

The National Wildlife Federation and the Arkansas Wildlife Federation had sued the Army Corps of Engineers, arguing that the project would kill trees that house the birds and that noise from a pumping station would cause them stress. The last confirmed sighting of the woodpecker in North America was in 1944, and scientists had thought the species was extinct until a kayaker said he saw one in early 2004 near the White River in the big woods of eastern Arkansas. The report caused a sensation in scientific circles and has attracted people from all over the world who hope to see the bird. Ornithologists caught on tape a flicker of what they believed was the bird but announced this year they couldn't prove conclusively that the woodpecker still lives.

The Army Corps of Engineers began building the Grand Prairie Irrigation Project last year, about 14 miles from where the bird was reportedly spotted. Aquifers beneath eastern Arkansas soybean, cotton and rice fields are being depleted, and a federal court in a separate case last year said that the main aquifer used for farming will be depleted by 2015 if water isn't conserved and that the region would suffer significant economic hardship if it ran dry. Workers have already started on a pump station to draw 158 billion gallons from the White River per year. A Justice Department lawyer said this year that a one-month delay would cost the Corps as much as $264,000, and that a six-month wait would cost $3 million.

The judge on Thursday said the Corps and the Interior Department must conduct further studies before proceeding. The agencies must evaluate any ivory-bill nests and forage sites within 2« miles of the construction project. They also must identify and inspect for nesting, roosting and foraging all trees a foot or more across in the areas to be affected by eventual changes in water levels, Wilson said. The Corps had conducted a study showing the project would not significantly harm the woodpecker's habitat, but the environmental groups suing it said the study was too narrow and did not comply with the Endangered Species Act.


A wetlands victory (for now)

At the age of 70, John Rapanos has finally ended his 18-year battle with state and federal environmental regulators, and has come out on the winning end when the US Supreme Court ruled in his favor on June 19, 2006. Much was at stake for Mr. Rapanos, who faced a conviction of 63 months in a federal penitentiary and approximately $13 million dollars in civil and criminal penalties. This 12-year litigation tale begins when Mr. Rapanos decided to start moving some sand. Mr. Rapanos owned 175 acres of land that he wanted to sell to a developer. In order to make the property more marketable, he decided to fill his property with sand so that it would be fit for development. Fifty-four acres of his property constituted "wetlands," described in the majority opinion as "land with sometimes-saturated soil conditions."

A consultant hired by Mr. Rapanos informed him that he did indeed have wetlands property that would be subject to regulation by state and federal enforcement; Mr. Rapanos, a petulant man, threatened the consultant and thereafter refused further inspection from state officials (interestingly, despite the lack of a warrant these state officials nevertheless trespassed on Mr. Rapanos's property after being denied access by him). Because of his uncooperativeness, the state officials contacted the Environmental Protection Agency, which thereafter claimed jurisdiction over his property under the Clean Water Act (CWA), preventing him from filling his wetlands under threat of civil and criminal action. The US Army Corps of Engineers, the governmental body determining which property is subject to the CWA, promptly invoked their authority once Mr. Rapanos refused to seek a permit and proceeded to fill his property with sand.

Writing for the majority on the Supreme Court, Justice Scalia is quick to point out that the costs in obtaining a permit are not slight: "The average applicant for an individual permit spends 788 days and $271,596 in completing the process, and the average applicant for a nationwide permit spends 313 days and $28,915 - not counting costs of mitigation or design changes." Overall, more than $1.7 billion is spent each year by both private and public sectors in efforts to obtain wetlands permits. Mr. Rapanos's stubbornness culminated in a guilty verdict for various CWA violations, and a criminal sentence that the federal district court judge was loath to enforce.

At his sentencing hearing on March 15, 2005, the prosecution implored the court for a sentence of 63 months for Mr. Rapanos. Judge Zatkoff made a lucid comparison to one of the most notorious water pollution disasters in American history: the Exxon-Valdez oil spill that dumped 10.8 million gallons of crude oil in Alaskan waters, killing thousands of animals and crippling the local fishing industry. In that case, the drunken captain that caused the wreck was sentenced to serve 1,000 hours of community service in the course of 5 years - with no prison time or fine. In contrast, Mr. Rapanos's act of filling his land with sand caused no harm to the public in any appreciable sense. Moreover, his act of filling the land with sand was not polluting anything; the sand is meant (and does) "fill" and stick to the land in order to pave the way for development on the property. In light of this, Judge Zatkoff fined Mr. Rapanos $185,000 and sentenced him to 3 years of probation that was treated as time served. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Zatkoff's downward departure from the sentencing guidelines. Judge Zatkoff, who is otherwise known for a strict sentencing policy, nevertheless stood his ground:

I don't know if it's just a coincidence that the case that I just sentenced prior to this case has come into this court, that was the case of Mr. Gonzalez, who was a person selling dope on the streets of the United States. He is an illegal person here. He's a citizen of Cuba, not an American citizen. He has a prior criminal record..

So here we have a person who comes to the United States and commits crimes of selling dope and the government asks me to put him in prison for ten months. And then we have an American citizen who buys land, pays for it with his own money, and he moves some sand from one end to the other and government wants me to give him sixty-three months in prison. Now, if that isn't our system gone crazy, I don't know what is. And I am not going to do it.

Why this fervor to punish a 70 year old man? Appalled at the state's trespass of Mr. Rapanos's property, and the subsequent witch hunt by the Corps, Judge Zatkoff explained that "we have a very disagreeable person who insists on his constitutional rights. And this is the kind of person that the Constitution was passed to protect."

Before the case was heard before the Supreme Court, Mr. Rapanos amassed support from the general public and various special interest groups that sought to curb the Corps's regulation-wielding authority. Indeed, Mr. Rapanos did not just have the support of average American citizens and special interest groups. As Pacific Legal Foundation notes, "Groups representing hundreds of government agencies that provide clean water for tens of millions of Americans are supporting Mr. Rapanos. Supporters include the largest urban water district in the nation, the largest coalition of public water agencies in the nation, and a coalition of water agencies that provide clean water to more than 30 million citizens in six states in the Western United States."

Although triumphant, Mr. Rapanos's victory at the Supreme Court had nothing to do with the state agents' unconstitutional trespass on his property. The issue before the Supreme Court was simply whether the Corps's exercise of jurisdiction was permissible under the Clean Water Act. The 5-4 majority determined that it was not.

The CWA makes it unlawful to discharge any pollutants (including sand) into navigable waters. "Navigable waters" are defined as "the waters of the United States, including the territorial seas." The Corps enjoys expanded jurisdiction over wetlands because the transition from water to solid ground is not abrupt, thus all wetlands adjoining a navigable waterway were subject to the Corps's jurisdiction. Labeling the Corps as "an enlightened despot," Justice Scalia does not mince words about the Corps's hungry desire for regulatory control over every drop of water in America.

The Corps has kept expanding its interpretation of "navigable waters" to include all forms of intrastate waters, including "storm drains, roadside ditches, ripples of sand in the dessert that may contain water once a year, and lands that are covered by floodwaters once every 100 years." At one point, the Corps even applied its authority over an abandoned sand and gravel pit in northern Illinois; the Supreme Court overruled this action as an overreaching of power and found that nothing in the text of CWA authorized the Corps to assert jurisdiction.

This expansion of power came to affect Mr. Rapanos, whose saturated lands were claimed to abut navigable waterways because there were "hydrological connections" between his property and "adjacent tributaries of navigable waters." It was clear to the Supreme Court that whatever "hydrological connections" meant, it impermissibly expanded the CWA's definition of "navigable waters" at the Corps's discretion:

In applying the definition to "ephemeral streams," "wet meadows," storm sewers and culverts, "directional sheet flow during storm events," drain tiles, man-made drainage ditches, and dry arroyos in the middle of the desert, the Corps has stretched the term "waters of the United States" beyond parody.

To the Corps, Mr. Rapanos's land was clearly moist enough, and his disposition indignant enough that they felt a right to drag him through criminal and civil litigation over the course of 12 years. Mr. Rapanos's land was 20 miles away from a waterway; his 54 acres of wetlands (or "sometimes-saturated soil") were nowhere near adjacent to a stream of navigable water.

Thus, after years of battle, Mr. Rapanos has achieved victory against the regulators. But what sort of victory is it? He spent a considerable amount of time and money battling the federal government in defense of his own property. Mr. Rapanos is a new-age entrepreneur. In a regulated state, today's entrepreneur is the man or woman battling bureaucracy with their time, money, and effort that would have been better placed toward functional, capitalist ventures. Real entrepreneurs are supposed to be self-serving, willing to make capital risks on consumer demand. In contrast, today's entrepreneurs are selfless, risking their life savings and the possibility of incarceration in a federal penitentiary in order to give future entrepreneurs more room to maneuver in the stranglehold of regulatory policies.

The Supreme Court took care to state that "the Government's expansive interpretation would result in a significant impingement of the State's traditional and primary power over land and water use." Nevertheless, the majority commented on the fact that the Corps's ever-expanded jurisdiction into wetlands was part of the environmental lobbying efforts attempting to effectuate increased protection for wetlands under the CWA. By stating that "a Comprehensive National Wetlands Protection Act is not before us, and the wisdom of such a statute is beyond our ken," the majority implies that if such an Act were before them, they would dutifully uphold the Act as constitutional.

In one sense, this reflects a pyrrhic victory for society as a whole. As soon as Congress gets the political muster and statutorily enacts protection for all the nation's wetlands, the Supreme Court will most likely uphold the Act as constitutional. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court's reverence for establishing precedent always supersedes the Commerce Clause limitation binding Congress against regulating intrastate affairs. As laudable as Mr. Rapanos's victory is, the sobering reality is that there are many more individuals like him who will still be subject to the regulatory authority of the federal government, and will not have his tenacious temperament to fight for their rights in a decade-long battle.



A lot like 1911, actually

Britain's inland capital of London may be a far cry from a languorous beach resort but some of its office workers have found something that comes close enough. As temperatures soar to record highs for July, women in bikinis mingled with workers dressed both formally and casually on "City Beach" - a patch of sand imported to the heart of London's grimy East End. "This weather won't last for long so you've got to enjoy it while you can," Carolyn Baker, a 27-year-old data controller said as she sat on a deck chair on her lunch break.

Wearing a short skirt and sleeveless top, Ms Baker was among some 50 workers lounging on deckchairs or sipping drinks below parasols on the stretch of sand dotted with potted palm trees. A small crowd stood around a Brazilian-style bar of bamboo and thatch which pumped out house music and served pina coladas and cold beer. It proved to be a popular alternative to the traditional pub.

The 20-metre by 10-metre beach is just over two kilometres from the River Thames and about 48 kilometres from the nearest English seaside resort. It is surrounded by decrepit warehouses and bohemian shops. Entrepreneur Richard Lee turned this unprepossessing car park into an inland riviera four weeks ago, just in time to catch one of Britain's most intense heatwaves.

On the third day of the scorching weather, the national Meteorological Office website says the mercury has soared to 36.5 degrees Celsius at Wisley in south-east England. The previous July record was only 36 degrees Celsius, set on July 22, 1911 at Epsom, south-west of London.

"I've been really lucky with the weather," Mr Lee said. "It was a big gamble but it's paid off very well." Many of the "City Beach" sunbathers shrugged off warnings from scientists that the heat wave sweeping Europe was a result of the global warming induced by industrial activity. Grant McPherson, 26, had taken a few days off from his job as a physiotherapist and could not believe his luck at the weather. "It's great, I'm out soaking up the rays," he said. He says despite the warm weather few people will probably take a sick day off work. "Most people have already done that for the World Cup," he said.



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

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

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


22 July, 2006

Death to the Environment: If we want to save the environment, we've got to show we don't care about it

A car dealer in Washington, Don Beyer Volvo, is offering a new promotion. If you buy one of their cars, the dealership will give you free tickets to Al Gore's global warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Mr. Beyer is a Democrat in good standing, having been lieutenant governor of Virginia and national treasurer of the Dean for America campaign, so he must be down with the global warming program. But giving away movie tickets with the purchase of every climate-destroying luxury automobile (the 2005 Volvo XC90 gets 15 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway) probably isn't, in the long run, the most effective way to save the planet.

Lots of businesses are trying to profit in the name of the environment these days. My personal favorite are hotels that ask guests to reuse dirty towels and sheets. On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I stayed at the Monte Carlo, one of the themed monstrosities on the Strip. In the bathroom was a card asking me to "please join Monte Carlo's effort to conserve water by using your towels more than once." On the nightstand was another card imploring me to "please help protect our environment" by not having the bed linens changed during my stay. I was moved by these pleas, I really was. Except that outside the hotel are two gigantic fountains spewing precious water into the arid, desert air, 24 hours a day. It struck me that the Monte Carlo's concern for the environment might simply be an attempt to save on laundry costs

I'm normally a friend of Gaia, or at least a good acquaintance. I like hiking and being outdoors, so long as there aren't insects. Or mud. And I don't care for the way tall grass makes your skin itch. But even a nature lover like me has limits. When I'm paying $259 a night, I want fresh linens.

And it's not as if the hotels really cared about our Earth Mother. If they did, they'd give a discount rate to customers who put up with damp towels. What's happened is that Big Business has figured out how to use our environmental consciences against us. We greens who love the environment are now the unwitting tools of our planet's destruction. Hotels profit from our willingness to conserve, and car dealerships lure us into luxury SUVs under the pretense of supporting Al Gore.

It's an insidious plot, and the only way to foil it is to kill the environment. If the movie Speed taught me anything, it's that in a hostage situation, game theory dictates that you have to shoot the hostages to prove they aren't valuable. That's how you get the upper hand on the tree-killers or Dennis Hopper or whoever. If we want to save the environment, we've got to show we don't care about it.

It won't be easy, but I have a plan. For starters, when you check into a hotel, call maid service and tell them you want clean sheets every day. Then leave your used towels on the bathroom floor, indicating that you'd like a clean set. Then, take any unused towels and washcloths and put them on the floor, too. Just to show you mean business. It's also probably a good idea to take the extra soaps and lotions. A well-placed 2-ounce bottle of green tea olive oil moisturizing shampoo can wreak havoc on an ecosystem.

When you get home from vacation, go straight to the Internet. First, there's, where you can buy a Zoe triple showerhead. In 1992, the federal government passed a law requiring that "all faucet fixtures" have a maximum waterflow of 2.5 gallons per minute. The geniuses at Zoe noticed that the statute said nothing about putting multiple fixtures on the same faucet. Seven and a half gallons per minute sends a heck of a message.

Then there's the WC. Before he was crusading against global warming, Sen. Gore was lowering the flush capacity of American toilets from 3.5 gallons to 1.6 gallons. But the secret is that the toilet-makers manufacture bowls and tanks separately, and for each bowl they make a 1.6 gallon tank for the States and a 3.5 gallon tank for Canada. Our neighbors to the north sell the big-flush tanks on eBay all the time. You don't even need to feel guilty about this little act of defiance, since if the Canadians are doing it, it must be virtuous.

Killing the environment will take time. This big ball of mud is pretty resilient. But if we love our planet--and really, who doesn't? --then we have to show corporate America how little we care about it. Only then will it be safe to be an environmentalist again.



Distances travelled by aircraft and lorries delivering to supermarkets and restaurants have increased so much that carbon emissions are now at record levels, it was revealed yesterday. A combination of road and air "food miles" generated nearly 18,000 kilotonnes (18 million tonnes) of carbon dioxide in 2004, up 6 per cent on the previous year. The statistics, released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, came after a 15 per cent rise in emissions over the decade to 2002.

Environmental groups have blamed the Government's failure to tackle emissions by the food industry while some experts in climate change have pointed to a lack of will within the retail sector, which is under pressure to provide fresh, exotic produce for the consumer all year round. Jermana Canzi, the senior climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "We believe that the Government needs to do more to meet its climate change target. It has definitely neglected the growth of emissions for the food transport sector."

HGVs clocked up 8,986 million food kilometres (5,583 million miles) on British roads or travelling from overseas in 2004, according to Defra. While air transport accounted for only 0.1 per cent of total food kilometres in 2004, it generated 13 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions from food transport. In the 12 years to 2004, air freight underwent the highest growth rate of all types of food transport, when food kilometres by air nearly trebled.

The food industry was told in April to cut its carbon emissions, when Defra launched its Food Industry Sustainability Strategy. Ministers urged retailers to cut journey lengths and concentrate on the market for locally sourced goods. The Government wants the food and drink industry to reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent within four years. Excluding transport, the food and drink sector accounted for 11 per cent of Britain's energy consumption in 2002.

Leading supermarkets insist that they are doing their utmost to reduce their food miles. A spokesman for Sainsbury's said: "We are making significant progress to address this issue. The mileage our lorries make has reduced by 5 per cent in the past year." A spokeswoman for Tesco added: "Over the past couple of years, we have reduced the miles travelled by suppliers to our distribution centres by 23 per cent and reduced fuel usage by 14 per cent. We are also investing in alternatives to road transport such as rail freight. "To ensure availability all year round we do import some fresh produce. Where we do, we use sea rather than air freight wherever possible - less than 3 per cent of our total imports are brought in by air."

"It is early days," a Defra spokeswoman said. "We are continuing to work closely with the food industry to help to decrease the impact that it has on the environment." Ministers admitted in March that Britain is likely to miss its target to cut carbon dioxide emissions by a fifth by 2010, a much more ambitious commitment than the Kyoto Protocol.

Chris Huhne, environment spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said: "Our own research has revealed that supermarket lorries travel the equivalent of almost four return trips to the Moon every day. This highlights the need for government action to encourage them to use more local suppliers. "Supermarkets are a major part of our communities. With one supermarket for every 10,000 people, the big chains have a duty to provide environmentally friendly alternatives by supporting local producers."



Queensland scientists will attempt to create supercharged sugarcane crops designed specifically to fuel our cars. Others are working on a plan to create green fuel from algae grown in farm dams and lagoons across the state. The work is funded by national grants as the Federal Government attempts to improve our research into alternative fuels. Queensland has won the bulk of the $10.5 million announced yesterday under the Renewable Energy Development Initiative Program. CSR Sugar has secured $5 million for its work on "SugarBooster" - a program to develop high yielding sugarcane varieties increasing the amount of fermentable sugar.

Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, who announced the grants yesterday, said the program could dramatically boost Australia's green fuel industry. Bardon company SQC Pty Ltd has received $200,000 to help commercialise the process which could utilise suitable farm dams and irrigation lagoons to grow the algae. Other grants include $258,000 for a solar collector in NSW and $2.3 million for a renewable energy grid connector in the Northern Territory.


Drug-loving Australian Greens

By Andrew Bolt

The irrational cravings the Greens and other Leftists have for easier drugs runs so deep that we must conclude the worst. This month's "drugs, please" came from the Victorian Greens, who promised to scrap all criminal sanctions for drug users and give addicts free heroin. Last month's came from the Democrats' leader in South Australia, Sandra Kanck, who told Parliament that ecstasy (or MDMA) was "not a dangerous drug". In fact, she chirruped, "one of the best things you could probably have done for the people on the Eyre Peninsula who had gone through that trauma (of bushfires) was give them MDMA."

The federal Greens are no better, vowing at the last election to decriminalise drug use and consider free heroin for addicts. And three years ago its (now quietly deleted) policy was to make softer drugs "more freely available" because people need "the opportunity to achieve personal fulfilment" and that "may, for some people at particular times, involve the use of drugs".

I said this hankering for easier-to-get drugs was irrational -- but only if the Left's aim is to cut drug use. You see, make anything more available, and more people will use it. So when Switzerland pioneered "safe" injecting rooms, overdose deaths tripled. And when the Howard Government instead got tough on drugs, deaths dropped.

The sorry conclusion? These "more drugs" policies are clearly drawn up by people so selfish, unimaginative or arrogant that they can't imagine anyone who isn't exactly like they fancy themselves -- rational, and strong enough to take drugs without hurting anyone. I sure don't say they use drugs themselves, mind. But I can introduce them to plenty of junkies who once shared their lethal conceits.



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

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

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


21 July, 2006

Running out of oil?

By Walter E. Williams

"Proven" oil reserves, oil that's economically and technologically recoverable, are estimated to be more than 1.1 trillion barrels. That's enough oil, at current usage rates, to fuel the world's economy for 38 years, according to Leonardo Maugeri, vice president for the Italian energy company ENI. Mr. Maugeri provides a wealth of information about energy in "Two Cheers for Expensive Oil," published by Foreign Affairs (March/April 2006) and reprinted on the same date in Current.

There are an additional 2 trillion barrels of "recoverable" reserves. Mr. Maugeri says these oil reserves will probably meet the "proven" standard in a few years as technological improvement and increased sub-soil knowledge come online. Estimates of recoverable oil don't include the huge deposits of "unconventional" oil such as Canadian tar sands and U.S. shale oil, plus there are vast areas of our planet yet to be fully explored. For decades, alarmists have claimed we're running out of oil. In 1919, the U.S. Geological Survey predicted that world oil production would peak in nine years. During the 1970s, the Club of Rome report, "The Limits to Growth," said that, assuming no rise in consumption, all known oil reserves would be entirely consumed in just 31 years.

There are several factors that explain today's high prices. There has been a huge surge in demand for oil as a result of rapid economic growth in China and India, as well as in the United States. Another factor is the under-exploration. Mr. Maugeri says Saudi Arabia has 260 billion barrels of proven reserves, accounting for 25 percent of the world's total, but only one-third of the oil known to lie below its surface. Russia's reserves are three times its proven reserves of 50 billion barrels. While high prices are beginning to stimulate investments in oil exploration, they've lagged for several decades out of fear of oil gluts and low prices. It's going to be 2010 before today's investments yield fruit.

A substantial increase in oil production alone cannot ease today's high prices because of weak refining capacity. Not a single refinery has been built in the United States for 30 years. Improvements to existing refineries failed to keep up with growing demand and tougher environmental regulations. We're the world's only industrialized country with a net deficit in refining capacity that comes to 20 percent of domestic demand. That makes us highly vulnerable to disasters like last year's hurricanes. Exacerbating weak refining capacity are regulations whereby gasoline produced for one state may not be sold in another. There are 18 mandated different types of gasoline sold in the United States.

The long-term outlook for oil is good. There's an increase in oil-drilling technology and exploration. Oil as a source of energy has been in decline. In 1980, oil was 45 percent of energy consumption; today, it's 34 percent, yielding ground to natural gas, coal and nuclear energy. Recently, the House of Representatives passed "The Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act of 2006," which now awaits a Senate vote. Offshore oil exploration has been banned since 1982, despite Department of the Interior estimates that suggest the presence of 19 billion barrels of oil and 84 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The House of Representatives also passed the "Refinery Permit Process Schedule Act of 2006." Should these measures become law, our energy capacity will be enhanced significantly.

America stands alone in the world as the only nation that has placed a substantial amount of its domestic oil and natural gas potential off-limits. That reflects the awesome control that radical environmentalists have over Congress. With high fuel prices, Americans might be ready to put an end to that control.


Momentum building for offshore energy exploration

It's interesting what $3-a-gallon gasoline will do to Americans' views on energy exploration. In 1990, when President George H.W. Bush issued a presidential directive that prohibited energy exploration off the Atlantic, Pacific and Alaskan coasts and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, the environmental movement cheered and few objected. We could afford to be magnanimous. Energy prices were a third of their current level, the prospect of finding more seemed open-ended, and China and India were placing little demand on the world market.

In 1998, with little having changed, President Clinton extended the moratorium on exploration in these areas to 2012. Again, with little objection. Today, the urgency is overwhelming. High energy prices, unstable and/or unfriendly governments in the top oil-producing regions and significant demand from the two most populous countries have Americans taking a second look at those moratoria.

The House of Representatives has made its move with the Deep Ocean Energy Resources, or DOER, Act of 2006. DOER, as currently constructed, wouldn't repeal the current restrictions. But it would give coastal states that want offshore drilling the power to opt out of them.

The legislation makes permanent the ban on energy production within 50 miles of the coastline unless a state legislature votes to end those restrictions and allow drilling. From 50-100 miles, states would have to affirmatively pass legislation to prohibit drilling. Only beyond 100 miles would states would have no authority to stop drilling.

Under the legislation, states that allowed drilling would share in the royalties collected on oil and gas leases in the new areas opened for exploration. Today, with just the western and central Gulf of Mexico open for drilling, the federal government collects between $4 billion and $8 billion annually in such royalties. Obviously, this number would increase if the rest of the America's coastal regions were opened for exploration.

Given that it's been years since estimates were last attempted -- the last oil company lease was abandoned in 1990 -- nobody knows for sure how much energy lies in the areas that the DOER Act would open. But the Department of the Interior, which regulates offshore drilling, suggests that 19 billion barrels of oil and 84 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be available. Considering we use 7 billion barrels and 23 trillion cubic feet annually, this could be a substantial source of additional supply for decades to come.

And initial estimates often prove considerably low. The Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska, originally projected to produce no more than 9 million barrels, recently sent its 15 billionth barrel south through the Alaska pipeline. The western and central Gulf also already has produced more energy than originally expected.

With all this energy out there, demand at all-time highs and prices remaining high, what has taken so long? The biggest problem has been environmental concerns on the part of Florida lawmakers worried what a spill would do to their tourism industry. But we haven't had a major oil spill from an offshore well since a 1969 accident near Santa Barbara, Calif. Even the National Academy of Sciences says that "improved production technology and safety training of personnel have dramatically reduced both blowouts and daily operational spills."

The danger of such spills has been reduced so much that only 1 percent of the oil in North American waters comes from offshore oil wells -- most comes from natural seepage from the sea floor. And during Katrina and Rita, despite winds that reached 170 miles per hour and lashing waves that took out a quarter of America's domestic energy production, no significant spills were reported.

Opposition from Florida lawmakers appears to be softening. Sen. Mel Martinez, a Republican, is part of a group that has reached a compromise to get an offshore bill onto the Senate floor, although Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, has gone no further than to call the proposal "promising." Compared to the House bill, the Senate's approach is narrower, seeking to open one specific energy-rich region in the eastern Gulf. If the Senate passes this measure, the House and Senate would then have to reconcile their respective bills and send the final version to the president. It's hard to predict what would emerge from such a process, but anything that gets the ball rolling towards more domestic energy production would be welcome.

America has a problem: high oil and natural gas prices and competition for scarce resources that figures only to grow more intense. Thankfully, it also has something of a solution -- substantial reserves under its control that could be captured with little risk to the environment. It's time Congress gets serious about bridging the growing gap between supply and demand. And this could be just the way to do that.


Follow The Money: In Washington, Everyone's Got An Agenda

After watching An Inconvenient Truth and sitting through one of Al Gore's PowerPoint presentations, I have just one question remaining: Why is Al Gore pushing Enron's agenda? Before you decide that I'm delusional, check out my new book, The Big Ripoff : How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money, and my section called "Green: The Color of Money." The book shows how Enron was a key lobbyist for the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change (the Holy Grail of Gore's Crusade), and how almost every environmentalist policy we are being fed by Washington is really a meal ticket for one big business or another.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a fellowship with a think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute - yes, that Competitive Enterprise Institute - which takes donations from foundations, corporations, and individuals. My colleagues' motivations come under fire when they oppose some regulation or tax, and many dismiss the arguments of industry-funded groups. The Big Ripoff is about looking at everyone's motivations, so I welcome your scrutiny. But if all industry-funded positions were dismissed--if the media disregarded arguments put forward by anyone connected to a business who stood to profit--than many environmentalist campaigns of the day would also have to get thrown out.

A Carbon Dioxide tax? That's the policy advocated by Duke Energy CEO Paul Anderson, whose company is unusually reliant on coal-fired power plants. Is this altruism for the sake of the planet? Not really: many of Duke's coal plants are in regulated markets where his company has a government-enforced monopoly. If a CO2 tax drives up Anderson's prices, it's not as if anyone can undercut him. Customers pay more, no less coal gets burnt, and Anderson gets good PR.

Ethanol? This is an easy one: Archer Daniels Midland is America's top ethanol producer, and its former chairman Dwayne Andreas was a very generous donor to both parties. Andreas once dropped off an envelope of $100,000 in Richard Nixon's West Wing. He also gave $100,000 to Nixon's opponent Hubert Humphrey. Federal and state policies provide all sorts of subsidies and special tax breaks for ethanol, and now Washington is mandating the use of this corn-based fuel. And, oh yeah, ADM predicts an ethanol shortage now. The potential effect on gas prices is terrifying.

And the Kyoto global warming treaty? Enron pushed it hard. In 1997, Ken Lay met with Clinton and Gore in the White House and boosted the treaty. In 2000, an Enron memo exclaimed that the treaty would be "good for Enron stock!" The company planned to get rich off of brokering a government-created industry in carbon-credit trading. Also, Enron's coal-fired power plants were all in third-world countries unaffected by the treaty. At this point, the environmentalist asks, "well, who cares who gets rich off of a CO2 tax, ethanol, or Kyoto if all those things are good for the planet?" The Big Ripoff has two responses to that:

1) Pointing out who profits from "green" policy is as legitimate as pointing out who would profit from deregulation or tax cuts--a favorite media pastime. Sure, it doesn't amount to an argument against the policy, but it ought to be considered.

2) The Big Ripoff argues that ethanol subsidies, CO2 taxes, and Kyoto--especially as they are exploited by big business--will not improve the environment. In brief: ethanol evaporates more than gasoline, releasing more smog-causing hydrocarbons; also, the energy intensity of producing ethanol, plus the potential damage to soil from single-crop farms, pose environmental threats in themselves. Under Kyoto, Enron would have had more incentive to expand its third-world coal-fired power plant business. The CO2 taxes wouldn't reduce coal use by regulated power companies, who could pass on the cost no sweat.

These three environmental proposals are typical of Washington policy and the exemplify the Ripoff: Politicians push rules that they say are for our own good. But Washington lobbyists raked in $2.28 billion in 2005, with about $2 billion of that coming from business lobbyists--you can bet they don't invest that much for nothing. Because small business and the average American don't have that sort of access, the policies tend to enrich big business while driving up costs for consumers and taxpayers and choking off entrepreneurs.


A pro-nuclear Prime Minister

The media are desperately trying to portray Howard as in conflict with US policy but only they think so. Australia is a major supplier of uranium and PM Howard is keen to use that as the basis for an Australian nuclear industry -- to the horror of the Australian Greens

John Howard has given his strongest sign he wants a domestic uranium enrichment industry, and he agrees that the Bush administration's new global nuclear policy influenced his decision to conduct an inquiry into Australia's policy. The Prime Minister's desire to join the uranium enrichment club risks a conflict with President George W. Bush's global nuclear energy partnership, a radical US initiative to prevent nations moving into enrichment reprocessing. In a historic joint concord before the G8 summit this week, Mr Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to work together "to allow all nations to enjoy the benefits of nuclear energy without pursuing uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing capabilities".

Asked directly in Washington last month what the Bush administration's attitude would be towards an Australian decision to become an enrichment nation, a senior US official replied: "I'm not able to say."

Asked about Mr Bush's GNEP in an interview with The Australian, Mr Howard said: "I'm not suspicious of it. But I'm keen to keep an eye on it and keen to ensure it doesn't damage Australia's position. "The fact that this (GNEP) isbeing developed is a reason why we should look more closely at whether we should process uranium."

In political terms, Mr Bush seeks a new global nuclear bargain. Nuclear supplier nations such as the US, Russia, Britain, France, China and Japan would provide user nations with reactors and nuclear fuel on a "cradle to grave" basis in exchange for a guarantee they would not enter into enrichment, reprocessing and technologies necessary to produce weapons.

Mr Howard left no doubt about his personal preference. "It does seem odd that you wouldn't enrich uranium, doesn't it?" he said. "One of the great historical anomalies of the Australian economy which most Australians could never understand is that we had the best wool in the world and we sent it overseas to be processed and we bought it back at a much higher price. "That always struck people as rather odd. I would be keen to avoid that occurring."

Any Australian decision to enrich uranium creates a potential conflict for the US between its global policy and its alliance obligations. Under GNEP, an Australian enrichment decision would be seen as a bad precedent, but this conclusion would be offset by trust in Australia as a close US ally and responsible nuclear player.

Mr Howard said he had not tested US sentiment on Australia's enrichment option. "I think any administration would accept it," he said. "Certainly, the present one would accept it. I can't imagine a future administration would have a different view. We would be seen as a totally reliable and trustworthy country."

After launching his vision on Monday for Australia to become an energy superpower based on its huge reserves of coal, gas and uranium, Mr Howard said he was working closely with Canada to ensure that the world's two biggest uranium producers were not locked out of the nuclear fuel-cycle. "Each of us has a very direct interest in the nuclear fuel cycle, and there is a body which is still embryonic being put together by the United States and the other nuclear powers which we will have to watch very carefully," Mr Howard said. "We have to watch that it doesn't impact negatively on Australia and Canada. "I am not suggesting there is any malevolence on the part of these other countries, but we will have to watch for any unintended consequences."



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

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

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


20 July, 2006

Environmentalists Ask Supreme Court to Impose Kyoto Agenda: Lawsuit Would Regulate what You Exhale

Environmentalists, repeatedly rejected by the democratic process and unable to pass the Kyoto Protocol or their radical agenda, are doing what liberals invariably do when defeated in the marketplace of ideas: turning to the courts. On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to review Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, in which environmental lobbies and twelve activist states petition the Court to label everyday carbon dioxide a "pollutant" and compel the EPA to regulate it. That's right - carbon dioxide, the clear, odorless, non-toxic, natural substance that we exhale with every breath and that plants require to flourish, is now a "pollutant," according to environmentalists. Plaintiffs thus seek to impose the Kyoto Protocol via litigation, superseding the electoral process and imposing tremendous costs upon the American economy.

Even more alarming, success in this lawsuit would commence a flood of similar lawsuits, once again completely removing a critical issue from the democratic process. We've all seen how well that worked on other issues such as asbestos, tobacco and abortion. What would be next? Elimination of sports or other activities that cause heavy breathing? Strict regulation of methane gas and bovine farting?

Not surprisingly, the roster of plaintiffs includes the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Environmental Trust, Friends of the Earth, Environmental Defense, the Conservation Law Foundation, the Environmental Law Clinic, the Bluewater Network and... Elliot Spitzer. Additionally, the participating states include California, Washington, D.C., Rhode Island, Vermont, Oregon, New York, Washington, New Jersey, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Notice anything that those states and Washington, D.C. have in common from the 2004 Presidential election, with the single exception of New Mexico? Just asking.

Regardless, the issue presented is whether the 1970 Clean Air Act compels the EPA to label carbon dioxide a "pollutant," thereby requiring regulation. In response, the EPA and several other states assert that carbon dioxide is a natural substance that the EPA has no authority to regulate, and that the issue must be decided through the democratic process, not the courts. For its part, the Clean Air Act itself specifically identifies 190 "pollutants" subject to regulation, carbon dioxide not among them. Not to be deterred, Plaintiffs nevertheless allege that the Act somehow implies a mandatory duty to regulate CO2. According to them, the CO2 mandate has remained dormant since 1970, until miraculously discovered by environmental lawyers in 1998. This assertion is preposterous for several reasons.

First, the Act specifically states that global warming "shall not be construed to be the basis of any additional regulation." One can scarcely imagine a more unequivocal pronouncement on this issue. Furthermore, the single reference to CO2 in the Act states that the EPA must not infer regulatory authority over it.

Second, the federal government has never regulated CO2 emissions. This is no surprise, since CO2 is the natural byproduct of fossil fuel combustion, which provides 85% of America's energy. As noted by the EPA, "virtually every sector of the U.S. economy is either directly or indirectly a source of greenhouse gas emissions" such as CO2. Consequently, regulating CO2 would require draconian changes to our economy and the way that we live, and the costs of such regulation would be catastrophic.

Third, Congress has repeatedly renounced the position advocated by Plaintiffs. The Kyoto Protocol, which calls for CO2 regulations and otherwise resembles Plaintiffs' position, was rejected in 1997 by a 95-0 Senate vote. Similarly, Congress has debated environmentalist proposals on literally hundreds of occasions, and consistently rejected proposed regulatory climate policies. In three consecutive years during the Clinton Administration, for example, Congress expressly prohibited implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.

Simply put, the current status of this issue is beyond dispute. Americans have repeatedly considered and rejected the Kyoto Protocol and other efforts that require or even authorize carbon dioxide controls, most recently in 2003. Environmentalists' assertion that Congress has latently authorized CO2 regulation is therefore absurd. This is properly an issue for the electorate to decide, not the courts. Should Plaintiffs prevail, it will constitute yet another judicially-imposed disaster upon the American economy and governmental system.



The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case being brought by a dozen states, several major cities, and environmental groups who want carbon dioxide, widely believed to be contributing to the current global warming trend, to be designated as a pollutant. The plaintiffs are challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's decision in 2003 that carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a pollutant that would come under the regulatory portions of the Clean Air Act. That decision has been upheld by two lower court rulings. A Supreme Court decision siding with the plaintiffs could have wide-ranging consequences, since it would open the door for the regulation of myriad human activities that produce carbon dioxide, especially the use of automobiles and the production of electricity by utilities.

To examine the role that carbon dioxide plays in our daily lives, let's review a little basic science. Whether we like the sound of it or not, everything is made of chemicals; including people. Many chemicals are absolutely necessary for humans to live, for instance oxygen. Just as necessary, human metabolism produces by-products that are exhaled, like carbon dioxide and water vapor. So, the production of carbon dioxide is necessary, on the most basic level, for humans to survive. (We haven't heard yet whether the plaintiffs will later want to see water vapor regulated, which is by far the Earth's most important greenhouse gas.) Moving beyond our body's needs, for humans to thrive we use a variety of fuels to get the necessary work done. Burning of these fuels releases larger amounts of carbon dioxide than do our bodies, and as a result the CO2 concentration of the global atmosphere has risen by about 30% over the last 100 years: from 300 parts per million (ppm) in the early 1900's, to its present value of about 380 ppm.

The carbon dioxide that is emitted as part of a wide variety of natural processes is, in turn, necessary for vegetation to live. It turns out that most vegetation is somewhat 'starved' for carbon dioxide, as experiments have shown that a wide variety of plants grow faster, and are more drought tolerant, in the presence of doubled carbon dioxide concentrations. Fertilization of the global atmosphere with the extra CO2 that mankind's activities have emitted in the last century is believed to have helped increase agricultural productivity. Doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide will probably occur late in this century. And even though carbon dioxide formation requires oxygen, there is no danger that the production of carbon dioxide will deplete the vast store of atmospheric oxygen, which is 550 times as abundant as CO2. In short, carbon dioxide is a natural part of our environment, necessary for life, both as 'food' and as a by-product.

Yet, the possibility that there might be some negative consequences associated with its production has led some to want to regulate it. This harkens back to the 'precautionary principle': if something has potential negative side effects, don't do it. Those that advocate the precautionary principle apparently haven't noticed that no one lives his life according to it. Central to the argument that CO2 be regarded as a pollutant subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act is that it "may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare." This will be difficult to prove scientifically, since we have no way of proving that current global warmth is due to carbon dioxide emissions. While some theoretical modeling research that has suggested that all of the current global warmth could be explained by the extra CO2 we have produced, there is an element of circularity inherent in this type of science. The computer models built to predict climate fluctuations were based upon knowledge of what the answer was to begin with. Natural climate fluctuations (such as a small change in cloudiness) can also cause temperature changes, but since we don't understand what causes them, we can't model them.

But even if the 1 deg. F warming in the last 100 years can be convincingly demonstrated to be due to humans, it will be just as difficult to prove harm to human health and welfare. This is why the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the plaintiffs last year. Proving harm from global warming is confounded by natural climate fluctuations that are so large that the global warming signal becomes lost in the noise. Note that the 1 degree of warming in the last century is much less than what humans routinely endure as part of normal weather variations and the progression of the seasons. And throughout human history, warm has always, on balance, been better than cold.

And, contrary to what Al Gore's movie implies, we have always had droughts, floods, major hurricanes, tornadoes, and ice calving off glaciers and falling into the ocean. There is no convincing evidence that weather has gotten more severe, more drought-prone, or more flood-prone, as a result of global warming. Yet we are exposed to claims that 'global warming is killing people now'.

Even if CO2 production has some negative consequences, it is not at all clear at what level the costs associated with increasing carbon dioxide concentrations would even come close to the benefits associated with its production. Our risk-adverse culture tends to forget that our daily lives involve balancing a wide variety of risks and benefits. The risks and benefits of one possible decision are weighed against the risks and benefits of another decision. It would be hard to find a more beneficial natural resource, with fewer risks, that has elevated humanity to new heights in prosperity, health, and longevity, than fossil fuels.

Nevertheless, it could be argued that in some sense, all human activities, products, and by-products represent 'pollution' and pose a possible "danger to public health and welfare." Car accidents claim 40,000 lives each year in the U.S. alone. Why don't we regulate everything out of existence that has the potential to cause harm? Because the things we use on a daily basis provide benefits that greatly outweigh the risks. Assuming that CO2 is eventually classified as a pollutant, and the EPA is given regulatory authority over potential ingredients of climate change, it seems critically important to avoid past regulatory mistakes. The government has a long history of instituting regulations that end up doing more harm than good. It would be difficult to imagine a regulation that carries so much potential for harm to humanity as the regulation of carbon dioxide.


Nature's Embrace?

Post lifted from Cafe Hayek

Cynthia Emerlye expresses a wish in this letter published in today's New York Times:

"Thomas L. Friedman struck a chord of guilt in me when he suggested that attention is a victim of our electronics-filled digital age ("The Age of Interruption," column, July 5). I offer myself as an example. I live in a stunningly beautiful rural part of Vermont. My studio sits above a flowing stream. Wildlife regularly pass beside my window.

The other night as I worked away at the computer, I was oblivious to it all. Then the electricity suddenly went out (something that happens often in the country). I groped out of my "cave" looking for a candle, tripped over the vacuum cleaner, and landed in front of the glass door.

After cursing, I looked outside. The sky was blazing with stars, and hundreds of fireflies danced above the lawn and through the meadow. I opened the door and walked outside in a trance. Such beauty and tranquillity have been available to me every day, every evening, with only a little attention required by me. Yet I have remained in my self-imposed lockup chained to a flickering computer screen.

I am hopeful that we will all wake up someday, break these electronic bonds and walk into the waiting embrace of Mother Nature.

Cynthia Emerlye
South Pomfret, Vt.,
July 5, 2006

Here's one of my deepest wishes -- that one day the likes of Ms. Emerlye and others who romanticize nature will realize that without modern commerce and industry Mother Nature doesn't warmly and lovingly embrace human beings; she strangles us in a death grip.

Consider, for example, Thomas Babington Macaulay's description of life in the 17th-century Scottish highlands -- before anything beyond rudimentary commerce and industry reach there:

His lodging would sometimes have been in a hut of which every nook would have swarmed with vermin.  He would have inhaled an atmosphere thick with peat smoke, and foul with a hundred noisome exhalations. At supper grain fit only for horses would have been set before him, accompanied by a cake of blood drawn from living cows.

Some of the company with which he would have feasted would have been covered with cutaneous eruptions, and others would have been smeared with tar like sheep. His couch would have been the bare earth, dry or wet as the weather might be; and from that couch he would have risen half poisoned with stench, half blind with the reek of turf, and half mad with the itch.

Thomas Babington Macaulay, The History of England, Vol. 3 (Philadelphia, John C. Winston Co., n.d.), page 279.

A very un-Green Prime Minister

No nonsense about the evils of dams from John Howard

Australians living in major cities should not have to tolerate water restrictions, Prime Minister John Howard said yesterday. In a damning assessment of the nation's water infrastructure provided by local authorities and the states, Mr Howard suggested even the ancient Romans had superior policy in the area to modern-day Australia.

The Prime Minister, addressing the Committee for Economic Development in Sydney, also made a case for turning Australia into a global energy superpower incorporating a thriving nuclear power sector.

But he said one of the most urgent tasks was to create water projects that would deliver a genuinely "transformative impact" on water management. "If ancient Rome's 11 aqueducts 2000 years ago could deliver a billion litres of water to it millions of inhabitants every day . . . how can we seriously tolerate major water constraints in our great cities?" he said. Mr Howard said he saw little reason why large cities should be gripped by water crisis. "Having a city on permanent water restrictions makes about as much sense as having a city on permanent power restrictions," he said. "We would not tolerate it with electricity, we should not tolerate it with water."

The Prime Minister said two critical assumptions had to be overcome immediately if we were to reverse the trend - that water be used only once and that storm water be carried off to the oceans.

Mr Howard also said Australia turning its back on nuclear energy was like Saudi Arabia turning its back on oil. The Prime Minister will also oversee steps to encourage greater energy exploration. "While known oil reserves are declining, Australia remains relatively unexplored, particularly for petroleum in frontier offshore areas," he said. Mr Howard said Australia's energy exports were forecast to grow to around $45 billion in 2006-07 - more than three times what we earned last year from meat, grains and wool combined.

Greenpeace and Nature Conservation Council protesters who heckled Mr Howard outside the forum, said the PM had done nothing to increase alternative energies in a decade of power.



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

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

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


19 July, 2006


This summer is only half over and already we have been treated to the film "Too Hot Not To Handle," Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," as well as the news that the Supreme Court will get involved in the question of whether carbon dioxide (CO2) should be considered a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. In an attempt to reinforce the idea that CO2 is a pollutant, Gore and others often speak of "CO2 pollution" in the global atmosphere. Before you train yourself to add the "p" word to your CO2 vocabulary, consider the following very convenient facts about this rather important constituent of atmospheric chemistry:

1. CO2 comes from the Earth itself. The gas is produced naturally by hot spots in the crust that we see as volcanoes or fissures under the sea. The outgassing from the crust has occurred throughout the Earth's five billion year history and continues to this day. Had you visited the Earth 3.5 billion years ago, you would have found atmospheric concentrations of CO2 around 70,000 parts per million (ppm) as opposed to the current value near 378 ppm. Over most of the history of the Earth, CO2 levels were very much higher than the level we see today.

2. Obviously, something must have happened to reduce the levels of CO2 from the large values seen billions of years ago. As it turns out, CO2 combines with water in the atmosphere to form carbonic acid, and this naturally-occurring slightly acidic rainfall reacts chemically with silicates that make up the Earth's crust. At the timescale of billions of years, CO2 fluctuated enormously with changes in the temperature of the Earth (and the oceans), the amount of land surface exposed to weathering, and geological activity.

3. The CO2 story became even more complex as life evolved in the oceans. Creatures in the seas cleverly produced calcium carbonate shells from ions that were once floating around the atmosphere as CO2. As the shells rained to the seafloor bottom, the CO2 basically had been taken from the atmosphere and deposited as rock layers beneath the sea. Earth's ecosystem drew down the CO2 levels to a few thousand parts per million.

4. Around one half billion years ago, a new player emerged in the CO2 budget of the atmosphere. By that time, the ozone layer was sufficiently developed to block out much of the ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, and at long last, the vascular land plants spread throughout the Earth. In case you have forgotten your basic biology, plants survive via photosynthesis -- they are able to take CO2 from the atmosphere, build their mass, and release oxygen. You guessed it -- animals evolved to eat the plants, and gloriously, the animals breathe in oxygen and give out CO2.

5. Atmospheric CO2 continued to fluctuate, largely due to the changes in the temperature of the Earth. During glacial times, often forced by changes in the Earth's orbit, the oceans would hold more CO2, and the atmospheric levels of the gas would fall. During the most recent glaciation (the one that ended around 12,500 years ago), atmospheric CO2 levels dropped to under 200 ppm which is perilously close to the 100 ppm level below which plants would no longer be capable of photosynthesis and the global ecosystem would suffocate. If someone is concerned about dangerous levels of atmospheric CO2, going low is far more dangerous than going high! As the Earth warmed following the end of the most recent glaciation, atmospheric CO2 levels moved up to around 250 ppm.

6. In just the right circumstances (e.g., swamps with little oxygen in the water), plants can die but not decay. They can be buried by geological processes and ultimately form coal, oil, and natural gas. As fate would have it, there were many such swamps in the past, and many plants were converted into fossil fuels. Humans evolved, discovered the various fossil fuels, and burned them to produce energy. Industrialization hit the streets, humans enormously increased their burning of fossil fuels, and CO2 levels are up to around 387 ppm, and the concentrations are on the rise.

7. Plants all over the planet evolved when atmospheric CO2 levels were very much higher than what we have today. Literally thousands of biological experiments show that when atmospheric CO2 levels increase, plants grow faster, bigger, more resistant to any number of stresses, and far more water-use efficient. In many ways, plants must feel like they are going home to a world in which they evolved with CO2 levels up to ten times what we have today. In order to make CO2 more sinister, claims are made that ragweed and poison ivy will grow more vigorously in the future, and indeed they will. But so will every tree in the forest, grasses in our rangelands, and every agricultural crop.

There is no doubt that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, and holding everything else constant, elevated CO2 will act to warm the Earth. But as we see in the CO2 story, the levels of this gas have fluctuated enormously over the history of the Earth, and the ecosystems of the planet have evolved to cope with these variations. To suddenly label CO2 as a "pollutant" is a disservice to a gas that has played an enormous role in the development and sustainability of all life on this wonderful Earth. The Supreme Court ruling will be interesting, but Mother Earth has clearly ruled that CO2 is not a pollutant.



In a sneak peek of what could be fashion's future, leggy models draped in dresses by designers like Oscar de la Renta and Versace strut their stuff on the runway. But this is no Paris or New York fashion show. Rather, the scene is a Toronto biotechnology conference and the dresses are made from a new fiber called Ingeo, made largely from genetically engineered corn. The Biotechnology Industry Organization used the fashion statement last week to burnish its battered image as an environmental scourge.

Biotechnology is quietly playing a growing role in an apparel industry waking up to its customers' concerns about the environment and the country's reliance on the foreign oil used to make synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon. But the trend is raising concerns among some environmental purists who oppose genetically engineered crops of any kind. "Ingeo still supports genetically engineered crops and we really view it as a slippery slope," said Jill Dumain of Ventura, Calif.-based Patagonia Inc., which pays a premium to use only organic cotton in its clothes. But other clothiers are developing biodegradable fabrics from natural fibers that have their start as genetically engineered crops.

Of course, cotton is still by far the most popular natural fiber. But chances are even the T-shirt you're wearing is made at least partly from genetically engineered crops. That's because 52 percent of cotton grown last year was genetically engineered with a bacteria gene to resist bugs without the need for pesticides, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Now, with more apparel manufacturers turning to Ingeo, more clothes on the rack will have gotten their start in a gene lab. Nearly half the nation's corn crops are genetically engineered to withstand sprayings of a popular weed killer.

NatureWorks LLC, the Nebraska company that turns corn into Ingeo, said it doesn't separate the genetically engineered crop from the conventionally grown crop that comes into its factory. So there's a good chance that just about every Ingeo product is derived, at least in part, from genetically engineered corn. "We think there is a tremendous future for it, particularly because the consumer world is starting to wake up and recognize that it makes sense to employ some of these different materials as an alternative to both energy and fabric," said Martin Dudziak, research director for Linda Loudermilk Inc., a designer making Ingeo clothes. Depending on how it's finally used, the fiber can feel like cotton or polyester. "It has all of the attributes of polyester," said Steve Davies of NatureWorks, "and is much more environmentally friendly."

Early next year, Linda Loudermilk will begin selling five different items, including jeans, made from Ingeo. Many other clothing companies, such as the sock maker Fox River Mills Inc. of Osage, Iowa, plan to follow suit.

Biotech's largely unseen hand in creating natural fibers has set off a debate among apparel makers who consider themselves environmentally sensitive. Many critics of agricultural biotechnology - from organic farmers to the Sierra Club - fear the engineered crops will co-mingle with conventionally grown plants. Others draw a distinction between genetic engineering in food crops and those used in fashion. "Would I prefer that the world was nothing but organic agriculture? Yes," said Leslie Hoffmann, director of the nonprofit environmental group Earth Pledge, which hosted the Toronto fashion show and staged a similar event in April at the biotechnology industry's annual convention in Chicago. "But on the other hand, (genetically engineered crops) have a much higher yield per acre and use less pesticides," she said.

There are even plans to develop for the U.S. market corn-based, disposable diapers that biodegrade quickly rather than filling landfills for decades. An Ingeo diaper is already being sold in Italy and Spain, but making an inexpensive diaper to compete with disposable products in the United States remains a hurdle.

NatureWorks makes the raw materials for Ingeo, fermenting sugar extracted from corn and turning it into plastic-like pellets that are made into the fabric sold to apparel makers like Linda Loudermilk. Other uses for NatureWorks' pellets include the produce packaging found in Wal-Mart stores. But the small subsidiary of food and agricultural products company Cargill Inc. sees a big future cracking into the $181 billion apparel industry with its pellets. NatureWorks declined to discuss Ingeo sales figures.

Because NatureWorks doesn't separate the genetically engineered corn from the conventionally grown corn, it can't serve companies who demand biotech-free Ingeo. For its European customers, who are notoriously averse to genetically engineered crops, the company promises to buy an amount of organic corn equal to the amount of corn it took to produce their Ingeo orders. That still isn't enough for some environmental purists. "They can't separate it," said Patagonia's Dumain, "and that's our problem."


Australia: Red tape cut for greenhouse reports

Proposals for a single mandatory reporting system of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions will be developed by the end of the year. The Council of Australian Governments yesterday agreed its preferred option was to devise a "single streamlined system that imposes the least cost and red tape burden". Senior federal and state officials will report to the next COAG meeting in December with proposals for streamlining emissions and energy reporting.

"The report should be based on the preparation of national purpose-built legislation to provide for cost-effective mandatory reporting and disclosure at the company level at the earliest practicable date," the COAG communique says. "The report will also need to include advice on timing, thresholds and governance arrangements."

Yesterday's meeting agreed that the National Pollutant Inventory would no longer be used as a vehicle for reporting greenhouse gas emissions. No further work will be undertaken by the Environment Protection and Heritage Council on incorporating greenhouse gas emission reporting in the index. However, the states and territories reserved the right to use the index if there was no agreement by December.

The meeting also agreed that the commonwealth, states and territories would work together to maximise opportunities for Australia to reduce emissions through clean coal and other technologies. The meeting also moved to streamline environmental approvals across the country. The federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act allows for agreements with the states and territories to accredit their environmental assessment and approvals process. Agreements are in place with Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory but are yet to be completed with the remaining states and the ACT.

Officials said finalising the outstanding agreements would provide certainty for business by ensuring that proposed developments were assessed by the relevant jurisdiction, without duplication by the commonwealth. Senior officials will report by December on a strategy to further streamline the approval process.


The Greenies won't like this one: "A contaminated lake designated hazardous is turning out to be a source of novel chemicals that could help fight migraines and cancer. "It's exciting to know that something toxic and dangerous might contain something of value," says Andrea Stierle, a chemist at the University of Montana in Butte. Berkeley Pit Lake, also in Butte, filled with groundwater after the copper mine closed in 1982. Dissolved metal compounds such as iron pyrites give the lake a pH of 2.5 that makes it impossible for most aquatic life to survive. In 1995 Stierle discovered novel forms of fungi and bacteria in the lake. More recently her team has found a strain of the pithomyces fungi producing a compound that binds to a receptor that causes migraines and could block headaches, while a strain of penicillium fungi makes a different compound that inhibits the growth of lung cancer cells. This week they reveal that a novel compound called berkelic acid from another new strain of penicillium fungus reduces the rate of ovarian cancer cell growth by 50 per cent (Journal of Organic Chemistry, vol 71, p 5357). Stierle is rushing to identify more of these extremophile creatures before the toxic site is cleaned up.


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

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

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


18 July, 2006


As usual, nothing makes the Greenies happy. Below read the thoughts of "sustainable development" guru, Lester Brown. He has had an epiphany that the growing need for crops to create biofuels will compete with the need for crops for food. And, like any self respecting Greenie, his solution is " international body to oversee the biofuel/food problem." He also seems to confuse world "demand" with "production", stating that while world demand is to grow by 20 million tons and 14 million of that is for biofuel, thus leaving just six million tons to satisfy food needs.

The dreamy Mr. Brown also overlooks the most basic fact about world food supplies: The chronic problem that the word has with food supplies is SURPLUS food. That's why the governments of almost all the world's developed countries spend billions propping up their farmers. Europe has so much surplus food that they cannot even give away that they end up destroying lots of it

The surging demand for corn, sugar cane and vegetable oils to make Earth-friendlier biofuels is pitting hungry cars against hungry people, and trouble's brewing, says sustainable development pioneer Lester Brown.

Biodiesel and ethanol, both made from food crops, have been recently touted as the way to free America of its addiction to foreign oil and to stem the rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But the growing demand for biofuels is beginning to adversely affect food supplies worldwide, and could eventually lead to serious economic and political instability, warned Brown, president of the World Policy Institute. "In effect what we have are 800 million motorists who want to maintain their mobility and two billion people who want to survive," he said in a press conference on Thursday, announcing the release of a new report on the problem.

Those two billion are the same people who already spend more than half their annual income - in most cases less than $3,000 - on food, he said. The competition between corn and ethanol struck home to Brown recently, he said, as he was reading U.S. Department of Agriculture grain production numbers. "I was looking at USDA grain estimates and two numbers jumped out at me," he said. World grain demand is projected to grow by 20 million tons this year. Some 14 million tons of that demand is expected to be for biofuels for cars in the United States. That leaves just six million tons to satisfy the food needs of many countries that import U.S. grain - at a time when grain stocks are at a 34-year low and climate change and water shortages are making it harder than ever to grow grain, he said.

What's driving the demand for biofuels is the high price of oil, said Brown, which has made biofuels economically attractive. At the same time, it's becoming clear that the price of a basic staple food like corn is no longer based on its demand as a food, but also as a fuel. "Everything we eat can be converted into ethanol or biodiesel," Brown explained. "As a result, the line between the food economy and energy economy has become blurred." That means fuel prices can drive up food prices, bad news for the two billion people whose food may fetch a higher price if it fills a gas tank.

Already the world market for sugar is seeing reduced supply and rising prices because Brazil has shifted huge amounts of sugar cane from export markets to making domestic ethanol, Brown explained. Brazil is one of the world's top sugar producers. "In Europe the margarine producers are complaining because they're having difficulty getting vegetable oil because biodiesel is sucking it up," Brown noted. The problem will also affect meat, dairy and egg production, Brown pointed out, since just about all animal feed can be made into fuel. What's needed, he said, is an international body to oversee the biofuel/food problem. Right now, he noted, "in effect no one is in charge." And that, said Brown, could lead to economic instability, civil unrest and even the collapse of governments.

Brown's dire outlook is not shared by those in the ethanol fuel trade, however. "No one's saying we're going to take every kernel of corn and turn it into ethanol," said Mat Hartwig, spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association in Washington, D.C. "In the fuel versus food debate it's not an either or situation. We can do both." Even individual kernels of corn can be used in both food and fuel, Hartwig explained. Corn can be processed to extract the sugars for making ethanol, leaving behind a high-protein "distiller's grain" that can then be used for animal feed, he said. "It's not as though we're taking that entire kernel out of the food process."

There is also the future prospect of cellulosic ethanol to consider, said Hartwig. That's ethanol that can be made from cellulose - the husks and other inedible parts of plants. It's harder to do, but there is a lot of investment and work going on now to make cellulosic ethanol viable by 2015, he said. As for the economic implications, so far it's been good for U.S. farmers and reduced the need for federal subsidies, said Hartwig. "This is a growing market that's creating economic activity in rural areas that are the last to feel economic up turns and the first to feel slow downs."



Ethical shopping may sound like the pastime of well-meaning hippies, but tell that to the boardroom. A retail revolution is underway, according to market analysts, and the trend dubbed "ethical consumerism" is now big business. According to a report by the Institute for Grocery Distribution, shoppers are increasingly prepared to pay a premium for high-quality organic, free-range or fair trade products. Even Tesco is branching out from its bulk-buy, low-cost strategy, it said.

Ethical consumerism is now worth 25 billion pounds a year in Britain, with 4 billion coming from food and drink sales. That market, while accounting for only 4 per cent of total food sales, is growing at an annual rate of 7.5 per cent - much faster than conventional groceries at 4.2 per cent. The trend is so great that Britain has been chosen to host the world's largest organic store, which will open within months in West London. The arrival of the US organics chain Whole Foods looks set to accelerate the expansion of ethical shopping. The company, which made a $136 million after-tax profit selling ethical goods to affluent Americans, is preparing to open a 75,000sq ft shop on the site of Barkers of Kensington, the 135-year-old store that closed this year.

Shopping habits in Britain are changing rapidly. Annual sales of fair trade products are worth 200 million pounds. In the US, Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retailer, has earmarked a chunk of its $570 million-plus advertising budget to promote the sale of organic foods. And Whole Foods' smaller rival, Wild Oats, generated sales of more than $1 billion last year. Independent retailers account for only a quarter of the $14 billion organic food market.

Whole Foods, founded in 1980 by John Mackey, a college dropout and vegan animal rights activist, caused uproar among American consumers last month when it stopped selling live lobsters and crabs because it believes the trade in sentient crustaceans to be inhumane. The ban did not come about overnight, however. The company spent seven months studying lobster behaviour to determine whether the animals suffered when kept in tanks. Whole Foods decided to stop selling the creatures because it could not ensure that they would be treated with respect and compassion on the journey from the Maine sea bed to the dining table. Mr Mackey said: "We place as much emphasis on the importance of humane treatment and quality of life for all animals as we do on the expectations for quality and flavour." His company has earned the nickname "the Wal-Mart of wheatgerm", and profit remains a priority despite the emphasis on ethics. Mr Mackey, 52, bought the London-based organics chain Fresh & Wild in 2004 for 21 million pounds, but he has claimed that these stores may not survive where Whole Foods outlets are opened nearby.

The Institute for Grocery Distribution believes that the ethical shopping trend is growing so fast that soon it will apply as much to toothpaste, soap and tea towels as it does to organic milk, free-range eggs and chicken and fair trade coffee and chocolate. It has even identified several types of ethical shopper. These include Showboaters, who are concerned with their middle-class image, Guerrillas, who boycott certain brands, and Lapsed Activists, who would like to do better. Julie Starck, of the institute, said: "For years retailers and manufacturers have focused on price and competing on whose is the cheapest. Shoppers may still like low prices, but now they want to be sure where the food comes from."



Rep. Richard Pombo, the Tracy Republican who heads the House Resources Committee, stirs conflict with almost every major initiative he launches, from offshore drilling to Indian gambling. Few members of Congress have as much influence over the nation's environmental laws as Pombo. And no topic has been more contentious than his legislation to overhaul the Endangered Species Act. The House approved Pombo's sweeping rewrite of the 1973 law on a 229-193 vote in September. It was widely denounced by environmentalists as a disturbing retreat from habitat protection and a paperwork nightmare for agencies seeking to revive the country's 1,268 threatened and endangered plants and animals, 186 of which are in California.

In the Senate, Pombo's bill was greeted even by Republicans with a measure of skepticism. The Bush administration, while supporting it, is worried about the cost of Pombo's plan to compensate landowners for restrictions on their property use. In an interview, Pombo discussed why he thinks the act signed into law by President Nixon needs an overhaul and how his bill would work.

Q: What are your problems with the Endangered Species Act now?

A: I didn't like the way it treated private property owners. It was heavy-handed. It didn't really matter what the facts were on the ground or what the science was. It was decisions being driven by somebody in Washington who had never even been to the area being regulated. I felt it was wrong for them to come in and tell someone who had been farming for a hundred years that you can no longer farm it any more because it was endangered species habitat. But the more I got into it, I began to realize that the act didn't work. At some point, the agency began to focus on land-use control and forgot all about recovering species. This was driven by lawsuits. (Environmentalists) would file a lawsuit on the designation of critical habitat, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would lose. As more of a defensive posture, they began focusing on designation of critical habitat and they forgot all about recovering species and whether or not the habitat that was being protected actually did anything.

Q: There have been some reports, peer reviewed, that have shown the act has been working, that species on the list 13 or more years are by and large stable or improving.

A: That's not accurate. Less than 6 percent of the species listed by the Fish and Wildlife Service will even qualify as recovering, as moving in the right direction. Nearly 40 percent of the species on the list they don't even know what their status is. It's over 70 percent of the population that is either declining in population or they have no idea.

Q: So you don't think the act is working at all?

A: I wouldn't say it hasn't worked at all. But it hasn't worked the way it should.

Q: How would your bill change it?

A: It completely changes the focus. (By) getting away from the current process of protecting habitat, what we say is that you have to adopt a recovery plan. Once you've adopted a recovery plan, whatever habitat is necessary to fulfill that is what is protected. The focus is on how we recover the species. . The other thing is that for about 90 percent of the species, at least part of their habitat is on private property. If you don't bring in private property owners, it's never going to work.

Q: The environmentalists claim your bill is just a wholesale elimination of essential habitat.

A: The funny part is the idea for doing away with critical habitat and going with recovery habitat actually came from environmental groups. When they originally brought that up during negotiations over this, I said no, we have to fix critical habitat. But the more I thought about it, I realized they were right, that that was the only way we were going to do this -- to completely do away with the current process of protecting habitat and go with something different.

Q: How would that work?

A: This is where science comes in. You identify species as endangered or threatened and you come up with a recovery team. Independent science looks at it and says this particular species needs this kind of habitat, these are the reproduction rates, this is what we have to do to get it to a sustainable population. To do that, this is the kind of habitat we need and this is how much we think we need. So all of the habitat that is protected is tied directly back in to the recovery plan.

When the red-legged frog was originally listed, (environmentalists) sued and won. So Fish and Wildlife responded with a 5 million-acre map of habitat. They just mapped any creek in Northern California and designated it as critical habitat, even if it was a dry creek bed. It had nothing to do with recovering the species. Then they got sued by developers and that 5 million acres shrunk to less than a million acres. It still has nothing to do with recovering the frog. .

(Under my bill,) you come up with a recovery team that says, 'This is what we need to do, and this is the kind of habitat we need.' You go to the property owner and say, 'Look, you've got cattle ponds that we think could be potential habitat. If we propagate frogs there, and this is how you have to manage your property to do it, we'll give you a grant or tax credit' or something that helps them. Then all of a sudden the property owner doesn't see it as a negative and you actually do something to recover the species. As it is now, the guy says, 'I might have red-legged frogs there, so I'm going to dry up that pond and water my cattle out of a trough because I don't want to lose use of my property.'

Q: It's late in the congressional session. Are you resigned to this carrying over until next session?

A: Not yet. We are still talking to the Senate. The ideas we put on the table passed overwhelmingly. Whether or not we can get this done, I'm not sure. But I am not willing to give up now.



Named for the Esselen Indian tribe indigenous to Big Sur, the Esalen Institute is a nonprofit alternative-education center situated, not incidentally, on the edge of the Western world, looking East. The weathered redwood buildings and geodesic domes sprinkled about the grounds hearken back to the early 1960s, when Stanford graduate students Michael Murphy and Richard Price gave life to their vision of a sanctuary where thinkers of all stripes -- philosophers, psychologists, artists, academics, spiritual leaders, experientialists, you name it -- could come to pursue "the exploration of unrealized human capacities." Over the years, more than 300,000 people have indulged in the Esalen experience, the vast majority of them through personal-growth workshops, says publicist Megan McFeely.

The institute can accommodate just 120 overnight guests at a time, though as many staff members usually are on hand, including a contingent of work-study program participants who come for a month at a time. The few rooms not filled with students and instructors are made available to the public for what the institute terms "personal retreats." "It's not a hotel -- we don't encourage people to look at it that way," McFeely says. "We're not about being a spa; we're about being a place for personal transformation."

That's not to say that Esalen is lacking in sybaritic elements: There's plenty of that, as well. But the overriding impression I took away, after chatting with guests and instructors over meals and while exploring the campus, was of intellectual stimulation, not physical indulgence. The place was positively buzzing with creative energy; I could almost see the wheels turning in everybody's heads.

Not having time for a workshop, my overnight visit was on the "personal retreat" plan, from midafternoon on the first day through lunch on the second. Our room was a simple affair, very dated and '60s-ish, with weathered plywood walls, a tiny bath, sliding doors opening onto a narrow cement slab and a spectacular view of the ocean and the bathhouse directly below.

The baths have been restored

Ah yes, the baths. The mineral hot springs flowing from the side of the cliff were, until 1998, partially contained in natural rock pools and redwood tubs where Esalen guests came to soak and to tune in to the natural environment. The baths were Esalen's signature attraction, an icon of the institute's unfettered philosophies. It all crashed down in an El Ni¤o storm packing 100-mph winds and humongous sea swells. Rebuilding took three years.

The new $6 million bathhouse, anchored to bedrock, is modern in design and features indoor and outdoor soaking pools of various temperatures, as well as semiprivate pavilions and open-air areas for massage. It's all coed, and while guest literature proclaims the baths to be "clothing optional," the atmosphere is such that most people would feel more bare in a swimsuit than in a birthday suit; it really is that relaxed and natural.

At any rate, sitting in warm water up to your neck under a starry sky, with the sea pounding a lullaby on the rocks below, is a quintessential Northern California experience. Add a massage -- Esalen-style, characterized by long, sweeping strokes -- and you'll be in fine fettle to attend the free movement and meditation sessions, dance performance, arts-and-crafts classes and other activities programmed daily and open to all guests. You never know who you might encounter along the way; over the years many cultural newsmakers have contributed to the institute's intellectual stew.

Check out the guest list

In the revolutionary atmosphere of the '60s, Esalen garnered a reputation for being as far out as it got. Fritz Perls, co-founder of Gestalt therapy, made his name teaching workshops here in the early years. Psychologist B.F. Skinner, cult author Carlos Castaneda and Nobel Prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling led seminars, too. Singer Joan Baez was in residence for a time; gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson worked a stint as a gate-keeper. The Beatles made an appearance. So did LSD gurus Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary, beat icons Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, and many other cultural newsmakers of the day.

In the late 1980s, Esalen was back in the spotlight again, this time for a Soviet-American exchange program whose "hot-tub diplomacy" during the Yeltsin era helped improve relations between the two Cold War superpowers.

Meanwhile, more frontier thought was percolating behind the scenes, where seminars delved into the cutting edge of everything from physics and consciousness to sports psychology, international relations, medicine, meditation, massage, environmental studies, evolutionary theory, race relations and paranormal intelligence. The human potential movement was off and running, and Esalen has remained core to the cause ever since.

Metaphysically speaking

Now in its fifth decade, the institute continues to offer an extensive, round-the-calendar schedule of more than 500 open-to-the-public workshops a year, some as straightforward as "Afro- Cuban Drum and Dance" and "Women and Aging," others as offbeat as "Spirit Medicine" and "The Mind Beyond the Brain." A separate set of invitation-only conferences focusing on topics such as metaphysics, economics and globalization is operated through the institute's Center for Theory and Research. Although programming for the public has evolved with the times (think yoga, wellness, hiking), Esalen's mission remains unapologetically high-minded. The goal, to quote from institute literature, is "to create and further approaches that will help unlock the immense reservoir of currently unused human potential and turn it to the benefit of present and future generations throughout the world." Whew. See what I mean about being hard to articulate?

Harry Feinberg, who recently took the reins as Esalen's executive director of operations, puts it in more down-to-earth terms: "The basic mission is to provide a safe environment for anyone to be able to come in and explore where they are in their own life and where they're headed," he says. "There aren't many places like that."

Nature's heartbeat

There aren't many places that enjoy such an eye-popping setting, either. Esalen's lush campus sprawls across 120 acres of a ridge-top plateau hugging the spectacular Big Sur coastline. Inland trails lead through lush forests where where streams bubble and beams of sunlight filter between towering redwoods. Expansive organic gardens provide much of the produce served in the camplike dining hall, where healthy, buffet-style meals are taken at shared tables. Evenings, the collegiate atmosphere is reinforced with late-night snacks (brownies, cinnamon rolls), a crowd around the bar and impromptu guitar-and-song sessions around a patio fireplace. The sound of the sea, Mother Nature's heartbeat, is a constant background rhythm by which this rarified world seems to turn. "What a spectacular place; it sinks right into your body experience," Feinberg said as we admired the view from a broad green sward of lawn overlooking the classic panorama.

Candles, didgeridoos: Not for all

From the moment I arrived at Esalen until the moment I left, I was struck with an almost palpable sense of having been catapulted into a bubble separate from the rest of the world. I loved it -- but not everyone would. The touchy-feely, getting-in-touch-with-yourself aspects of the overall scene probably explain why Esalen's clientele is more heavily weighted to women than to men. Being open to new experiences is a definite prerequisite.

After dinner, my female friends and I returned to the bathhouse for "didgeridoo meditation," certainly a new experience for me. Candles had been lit everywhere, and the pools, massage tables, floors and ledges were occupied by lounging guests wrapped in towels, sheets or nothing at all. A young man, accompanied by a woman on guitar, played haunting melodies on the flute-like aboriginal instrument, creating a fragile, magical ambience.

Walking back to my room, I suddenly realized I had a mile-wide grin on my face, and that I had fallen, like so many before me, under Esalen's invigorating spell. Part of it, to be sure, was a nostalgia element: I felt like I'd stumbled into my hippie-dippie past. And part of it was confirmation that idealism can be respected, that the past can have a future and that people who care really can make a difference in our world.


The Competitive Enterprise Institute has just released a new FAQ here (PDF) on global warming, by Iain Murray. It is very readable and answers all the alarmist claims. Everything is backed up with references to the scientific literature. The FAQ addresses such important and misunderstood topics as "the scientific consensus," sea level rise, the satellite temperature record vs the surface record, the accuracy of the models, the economic assumptions behind the models, and much more. It is a concise, one stop guide to dealing with the alarmist claims.


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

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

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


17 July, 2006


Global warming may doom the Napa Valley, CBS News warned its July 12 "Evening News" audience. Yet correspondent John Blackstone excluded any scientists, including those who otherwise believe in man-made global warming, who warn that new computer models are conclusive or don't match up against recorded climate patterns. "New research says global warming threatens to make the Napa Valley too hot to make fine wine," Blackstone warned. A new study by Purdue University's Noah Diffenbaugh, Blackstone added, predicts that "across the country global warming could destroy more than 80 percent of the best vineyards."

But scientists who had a skeptical take on Diffenbaugh's conclusions were missing from Blackstone's report. In a July 11 article on Diffenbaugh's study, San Francisco Chronicle environment reporter Jane Kay cited University of Alabama's John Christy and the National Center for Atmospheric Research's (NCAR) Kenneth Trenberth as skeptics of Diffenbaugh's conclusions. Christy found "that using a model to reproduce past observations" was not "successful for the years 1910-2003" when calculating central California climate changes for a recent study published in the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate, Kay reported.

"I would not base economic decisions on the output of regional predictions from these models," Christy told the Chronicle. "As Alabama's state climatologist, I've watched agriculture closely during these past 20 years, and I've seen how farmers have applied clever adaptations to overcome many negative impacts on their produce, including those from climate variations."

"Models are not good enough for this purpose in my view," agreed NCAR climate analyst Kevin E. Trenberth, who is no global warming skeptic. Kay added that most of Trenberth's colleagues "don't yet accept predictions of future effects on crops," even though they believe in melting glaciers producing "rising sea levels."

Blackstone also left out a key fact reported by the CBS Web site: historically, climate change devastated grape growing well before the industrialization which many environmentalists blame for today's climate change. "A thousand years ago when Viking explorers arrived on the coasts of eastern Canada and New England, they named the region Vinland, a designation that has perplexed many historians since grapes are uncommon there now," CBS News and the Associated Press reported in a July 12 article available on

The CBS/AP article even cited Diffenbaugh noting that English vineyards - now resurging from warmer weather - got a chilly reception in "the Little Ice Age" that begin in the Middle Ages.


The report might also have noted that modern grape varieties even grow in the tropics (e.g. in the Australian city of Townsville) and it will be a long time before the Napa valley is as hot as the topics. The tropical grapes in fact grow faster so are valued as providing fresh table grapes long before the harvest in cooler latitudes takes place


The most useful pesticides (pyrethroids) that are still permitted kill lots of things too -- what an amazing thing for a pesticide to do! Down with all pesticides! Welcome to all cockroaches, lice, ticks and grubs!

California next month will begin to regulate a broad class of pesticide that has become the dominant home and garden bug-killer. The state Department of Pesticide Regulation in August will notify manufacturers of pyrethroid insecticides that they must share data on their products or those products will be banned from sale in California. The data will drive a regulatory review that could result in use restrictions or a ban on specific products. In doing so, California steps out ahead of the federal government and other states in regulating pyrethroids, found to be deadly to aquatic life at very low concentrations.

Mary-Ann Warmerdam, director of the Department of Pesticide Regulation, said it will be the biggest pesticide regulation effort in state history, involving 600 consumer products sold in hardware stores, garden centers and pet stores. "We know we have enough caution flags, and that requires a regulatory effort," said Warmerdam. "I would rather see pyrethroids stay on the market, because of their positive attributes. But that only happens if we all work together."

Pyrethroid insecticides are those with active ingredients that end in "thrin" -- permethrin and cypermethrin mostly in household products, and the more potent bifenthrin and cyfluthrin used by pest-control professionals. At the retail level, the products are sold in sprays or in granules added to fertilizers spread on lawns. They are also used in some pet soaps and shampoos. Examples include Raid, Decathlon, Ambush, Easygone and Terro.

Consumers won't see any immediate changes. But within a few months, retail stores may begin to offer more educational materials to help consumers cut back on pesticide use. Manufacturers must respond within two months to the state's request for data; then they'll have a year to deliver that data. Those that don't respond or refuse to cooperate will have their products banned, said Warmerdam. The state will work with manufacturers to analyze the data and conduct additional studies and then decide what specific regulations will be most effective. That could happen by 2008. "Pyrethroids are a real problem in the urban setting, and their use is going up," said Pete Price, a lobbyist with the League of Conservation Voters. "I think it's in everyone's interest that we get more serious in the state about managing urban pesticide use."

Pyrethroids are manufactured versions of pyrethrins, natural insecticides produced by certain species of chrysanthemum. These stronger synthetic derivatives began to dominate the retail market in 2000. That coincided with the phasing out of pesticides more dangerous to humans and water quality, mainly the organophosphates diazinon and chlorpyrifos. Pyrethoids are considered safer, partly because they don't easily dissolve in water. But researchers found instead that pyrethroids attach easily to soil particles, hitching a ride when overwatering washes topsoil into storm drains. They are also more harmful to fish and other aquatic creatures than the products they replaced.

Tracking the problem is difficult, because consumer pesticide use is not regulated. But a study completed in June for the San Francisco Estuary Project suggested that residential application of pesticides far exceeds commercial and farm use. Donald Weston, a UC Berkeley environmental toxicologist, made headlines last year with a research paper that found pyrethroids from urban runoff in the sediment of several Roseville creeks. The chemicals, found at low concentrations of five parts per billion, killed virtually all the tiny shrimp-like crustaceans that lived in the sediment. Subsequent testing of 18 other creeks in Northern California yielded similar results. "We found pyrethroids in about 85 percent of the places we looked," Weston said. "It doesn't take many homeowners misusing -- or even using -- these products to contaminate a substantial stretch of stream." Weston briefed a number of state water quality officials Thursday during a visit to Pleasant Grove Creek in Roseville. Joining the tour were representatives of industry and environmental groups.

Laurie Nelson, a legislative advocate for the Consumer Specialty Products Association, said her group supports the state's approach to pyrethroids. "The water agencies are finding out that it (pyrethroids) seems to be a problem in some areas, and we're willing to step up and address it," said Nelson, whose group represents pesticide manufacturers. "If we're part of the problem, we're willing to be part of the solution, too."

During the regulatory review, Warmerdam said her agency expects manufacturers and retailers to get serious about consumer education to prevent misuse of pyrethroids. Likewise, the state hopes homeowners will exercise more care. Warmerdam said this can start first by minimizing pyrethroid use and then by carefully following product label instructions. "There's an obligation on the part of all of us to ensure what we do doesn't have broader implications for the environment," she said.



Tom Brokaw's special on global warming claims to have ``no agenda,'' though some viewers will quickly suspect he's out to make us sweat. If mankind doesn't change its polluting ways, New Yorkers will soon be snorkeling to work. That's the basic message of ``Global Warming: What You Need to Know,'' which airs on July 16 at 9 p.m. New York time on the Discovery Channel. Brokaw, like former Vice President Al Gore and many prominent scientists, is convinced that carbon-dioxide emissions are the main cause of global warming and that without serious change we should expect gondoliers in San Francisco. The former NBC anchorman delivers the bad news in his trademark solemn monotone and travels widely to marshal his argument.

In the ice fields of Patagonia, glacier expert Stephan Harrison explains that ice is melting at an incredible rate. In Montana, the 66-year-old Brokaw says Glacier National Park may be glacier-free ``in my lifetime.'' Geologist Mark Serreze takes us into the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, where core ice samples reaching back 600,000 years provide a startling fact: heat- trapping carbon-dioxide levels have reached an all-time high, which bodes ill for the planet's health. In the Amazon rain forest, tree harvesting, farming and drought are reducing the ability of the ``Earth's lung'' to cleanse the air of CO2. In China, growing energy demands are being met by large-scale production of CO2-belching, coal-fired power plants.

No Dissent: Then there's the U.S., world leader in C02 emissions thanks to our love of the internal-combustion engine, large appliances and jet travel. Brokaw relies largely on a handful of experts in the two- hour show, particularly NASA's James Hansen and Princeton professor Michael Oppenheimer. Both support Brokaw's view of global warming and consider the scientific debate closed. Brokaw scoffs at the notion that there are ``any remaining doubts humans are behind temperature rises,'' while Hansen says ``99.5 percent of scientists say we know what's going on.''

You'll find more dissent at a North Korean political rally than in this program, which would have benefited from contrarian views, perhaps from MIT's Richard S. Lindzen or William Gray, the world's foremost expert on hurricanes and a critic of global- warming orthodoxy. Both are serious scientists, yet neither appears to be in Brokaw's Rolodex.

Kyoto Protocol: Brokaw does ask Oppenheimer why critics ``refuse to believe it's a fact.'' Oppenheimer says some may find the issue too ``frightening,'' while others have a ``financial interest'' in the status quo. In other words, critics are stooges for industry. Does that mean Brokaw is a stooge for environmentalists?

While the show claims some of the damage is ``irreversible,'' Brokaw holds out hope that personal and political action can bring about significant change. Americans can greatly reduce their CO2 output by driving smaller cars, taking the bus, using fluorescent light bulbs and exercising a bit more thermostat discipline. Brokaw praises the Kyoto Protocol, which sets goals for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions in industrialized countries. The Bush administration opposes the agreement, saying it would hurt the U.S. economy and not have much impact in heavily polluting countries like China.

The program offers a host of possible solutions, including wind farms, solar energy, increased use of ethanol and buildings that utilize recycled material and energy saving-technology. If we don't act soon, Brokaw says, we may reach a ``tipping point'' of no return: New York and other coastal cities will be submerged, while Bangladesh will vanish beneath the waves. We're also told there could be mass extinction of wildlife, a plague of disease-bearing insect swarms, extreme weather and famine causing mass starvation. A powerful presentation, to be sure, though certainly one with an agenda.



The slanted coverage of the debate over global warming is on display almost every day. But a good recent example was the June 23 USA Today story headlined, "Global warming stoked '05 hurricanes, study says." That headline ran across the entire top of page 4 of USA Today. A picture with the story showed emergency workers battling Hurricane Katrina. You have to read to the 7th paragraph to find out that an expert named William Gray of Colorado State University believes "more intense hurricanes" are due entirely to natural changes. It turns out that Gray has been described as "the world's most famous hurricane expert" and that he has been studying hurricanes for 50 years.

The story, however, highlighted a new report finding that "Global warming helped fuel 2005's destructive hurricane season…" Gray, in the 7th paragraph of the story, called that "ridiculous." Gray, former director of the National Hurricane Center, has told the Washington Post that global warming is "one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people." That is also the claim made by Senator James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment Committee. Gray placed that quote on the cover of one of his scientific papers analyzing global warming and hurricanes.

In testimony before the Inhofe committee, he said that he has been dismayed over "the bogus science and media-hype" associated with the man-made global warming theory. "As a boy, growing up here in Washington, D.C.," he said, "I remember the many articles on the large global warming that had occurred between 1900 and 1940. No one understood or knew if this warming would continue. Then the warming abated, and a weak global cooling trend set in from the mid-1940s to the early 1970s. The global warming talk ceased and speculation about a coming ice age came into vogue. I anticipate that the trend of the last few decades of global warming will come to an end, and in a few years we will start to see a weak cooling trend similar to that which occurred from the mid-1940s to the early 1970s."

In a sense, getting Gray's views on page-seven of a story is a step forward. Like gay rights, the idea of questioning a human role in global warming is being thrown aside by many in the media as not even worthy of attention. What we are seeing is opinion journalism, in which journalists sharing Al Gore's opinion about global warming are manipulating the coverage. In a famous Los Angeles Times op-ed, Victor Navasky of The Nation magazine said that the problem with modern journalism was not that there was too much opinion, but too little. He means liberal opinion. It is noteworthy that Navasky, a professor of journalism at Columbia, is chairman of the Columbia Journalism Review.



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

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

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


16 July, 2006


Before 1999 the accepted view on climate change was that the world had undergone a warming period in the middle ages, followed by a mid-millennium cold spell and a subsequent warming period -- the current one. That all changed when paleoclimatologist Michael Mann's research paper eliminated the Medieval warm period from the history books. With a nice, steady temperature oscillation that persists for centuries followed by a dramatic climb over the past century, Mann's work produced the "hockey stick" graph.

The trouble is that there's no reason to believe Mann, or his "hockey stick" graph of global temperature changes. Subsequent studies have shown Mann's analysis to be less than definitive:

* In 2003, Ross McKitrick and Steven McIntyre published an article in a peer-reviewed journal showing that Mann's methodology could produce hockey sticks from even random, trendless data.

* Furthermore, in a soon to be released report by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the three researchers -- Edward J. Wegman of George Mason University, David W. Scott of Rice University and Yasmin H. Said of Johns Hopkins University -- find that Mann's methodology is biased toward producing "hockey stick" shaped graphs.

In addition to debunking the hockey stick, Wegman goes a step further in his report, attempting to answer why Mann's mistakes were not exposed by his fellow climatologists. His conclusion is that the coterie of most frequently published climatologists is so insular and close-knit that no effective independent review of the work of Mann is likely.

Source. An extended summary of the report can be found here. Note this quote from the Wegman report:

"It is important to note the isolation of the paleoclimate community; even though they rely heavily on statistical methods they do not seem to be interacting with the statistical community. Additionally, we judge that the sharing of research materials, data and results was haphazardly and grudgingly done. In this case we judge that there was too much reliance on peer review, which was not necessarily independent. Moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that this community can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility. Overall, our committee believes that Dr. Mann's assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade of the millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by his analysis.

Canada still telling lies about climate history

It says it right here on the Official Climate Change Web site of the Government of Canada: "The 20th century has been the warmest globally in the past 1,000 years." This statement is wrong on several counts, and the Government of Canada knows it. After all, the knowledge that it is wrong is the product of two Canadians who have become internationally renowned in climate circles for having debunked the idea that the world is warmer than it has been in a millennium.

The two Canadians are Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick. The saga of their attack on one of the great iconic myths of global warming theory has been chronicled in media all over the world, from The Wall Street Journal to The New York Times and the BBC. Top science publications such as Nature and Science have taken on the issue. It is the subject of Congressional inquiry and, most recently, review by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

For the latest on their work, which continues to reverberate through the global science community, see their article on this page. The National Academy of Sciences essentially upheld the McIntyre/McKitrick critique of the 1,000-year temperature change claim, widely known as the Hockey Stick graph, and downgraded it to a 400-year statement. One of the NAS panelists said the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had sent a "very misleading message" when it adopted the Hockey Stick as the great global symbol of man-made global warming.

Despite its now dubious authenticity, the Hockey Stick continues to appear in Government of Canada publications and Web sites. It was there yesterday, a great anchor in the piles of misleading propaganda produced by Ottawa to shape opinion on climate change.

Outside of the National Post, which first carried the McIntyre/McKitrick critique of the Hockey Stick, the story has been largely ignored by Canadian media. The Globe and Mail has yet to carry one story on the subject. Only a handful of scattered references have appeared in other newspapers across the country, notably the Calgary Herald. The Toronto Star's only acknowledgement was a column by Jay Ingram, who essentially said the debate among scientists was undermining public confidence in science.

At the CBC, Quirks and Quarks, the corporation's flagship radio science show, has steadfastly ignored one of the biggest Canadian-origin science stories around. Two Canadian scientists rock the world climate community, trigger international reaction, Congressional investigation and a National Academy of Sciences report that supports the Canadians' critique of official United Nations science. No news there, apparently.

Fortunately, the CBC does not run Canada. Unfortunately, the Government of Canada does, and it's handling of the 1,000-year climate claim and the Hockey Stick remains a model of disingenuous fabrication. It is, in short, a Big Lie. When the government says, "The 20th century has been the warmest globally in the past 1,000 years," it reports an untruth. Even the United Nations IPCC didn't go that far. It said there isn't 1,000 years of data for the southern hemisphere, so there's no way of knowing the 1,000-year history of global temperatures.

What the IPCC did say is that it is "very likely" the 1990s was the warmest since 1861. It also said it was "likely" (as opposed to "very" likely) that "the increase in surface temperature over the 20th century for the northern hemisphere" was greater than any century in the past 1,000 years.

That looked to be the case before McIntyre and McKitrick came along. Now, according to the National Academy of Science panel, after a review, there exists a "high level of confidence" that temperatures of the recent past are higher than at any level over the past 400 years. As for 1,000 years, the NAS panel said there's too much uncertainty to have much confidence in a conclusion.

So the Government of Canada claim was never true to the IPCC science, such as it was, and now it is even less true. In fact, it is dead wrong. A science reassessment and correction is in order. That task should fall to the Science Assessment and Integration Branch under the Atmospheric and Climate Science Directorate at the Meteorological Service of Canada. The branch took a look at McIntyre and McKitrick back in February, 2005, and glossed over the problems by saying the paper was a "reminder that science proceeds with hesitant steps." The story behind the Hockey Stick has advanced beyond such bromides about scientific progress.

See the Truth. That's one of the marketing promotions for Al Gore's science fiction movie, An Inconvenient Truth. The movie promotes global warming theory, using the bogus Hockey Stick graph as part of its claim to scientific authenticity. But it's hard to See the Truth when you're using a Big Lie to get your message across. One expects such crafty manipulation from Al Gore, but we should not expect it from the Government of Canada.



The Government is to outlaw standby switches on televisions and video and DVD players to cut the amount of electricity wasted in the home. Refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers will have to become energy-efficient, and lightbulbs that burn too much energy will be phased out.

According to yesterday's Energy Review, standby facilities use 8 per cent of all domestic electricity. Lighting, set-top boxes, televisions, chargers, fridges, freezers, washing machines and computers were highlighted as wasteful products that must be redesigned to save power. New homes, which are already four times more energy-efficient than the average household, are to face stringent regulations.

Businesses will have to phase out or reduce drastically the energy used by computers, printers and photocopiers left on standby. By cutting wastage and making equipment more efficient, ministers hope to win a significant reduction in Britain's energy requirements.

Energy efficiency is one of the main planks of the Government's Energy Review, which is intended to lay out how Britain receives and uses its power for the next 20 years. Ministers want to shift energy production away from traditional fossil fuel sources to improve security of supply. The Government hopes that the measures in the review will reduce emissions by an additional 13 to 17 per cent by 2020, on top of the estimated 14 per cent already expected.

Power companies will be expected to play their part. They will be offered incentives to reduce the electricity supplied to each home by encouraging customers to put in insulation or install solar panels

More here


The air above Yatabe Minami elementary school is heavy with humidity. The playground swelters without the slightest breath of breeze, and on the highest trees the leaves do not flicker. The sails of the Darius-Savonius generator stand still. Tsukuba, the town that prides itself as Japan's most hallowed scientific research centre, is the site of perhaps the world's worst electricity wind farm: in the 12 months it has operated, its windmills have consumed 43 times more power than they have generated.

The project to make Tsukuba a self-sufficient showpiece for green energy has failed, bringing scorn upon the government programme to test alternative sources. It is likely to be cited by sceptics elsewhere, including in Britain, where the Government published its energy review this week. Tsukuba is involved in civil litigation, criminal investigations and an assault on the academic reputation of Waseda University, Japan's most respected seat of learning.

Amid the embarrassment of Tsukuba's stagnant windmills things have descended into farce. To give the appearance of a functioning alternative energy programme, when dignitaries visit and on parent-teacher evenings, the generators become motors and the sails are made to turn artificially.

For the children of Tsukuba, who watched with fascination as the 10m turbines rose in their grounds, summer science projects are in ruins. They had planned to keep daily registers of how much electricity the windmills were producing but, after a couple of weeks of finding the needles stuck at "0.0kWh", the excitement faded. The three windmills at Yatabe are among 23 installed last July at schools around the high-tech university town of Tsukuba, which had intended to install first dozens, then possibly hundreds more. Home to top-secret industrial laboratories, Japan's space programme and a big robotics institute, Tsukuba has long been pitched as its technology showcase.

Unfortunately it has an average wind-speed of 2.5km/h (1.5mph) - a far cry from the 15-20km/h needed to make a wind farm work. At some schools one or two windmills have occasionally begun spinning in winter gusts. Among them, the 23 windmills have produced one megawatt in 12 months, having been expected to generate more than 200. Experts in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry are appalled. Shunji Kawamura, the director of its Industrial Technology Research Institute, said: "It should have been perfectly clear the windmills would never work." The sails of the model of windmill purchased by Tsukuba are not turning, but nevertheless consume nearly three megawatts a year.

The Tsukuba City citizens' ombudsman has taken the local authorities to court, demanding that the taxpayers' wasted millions be returned. The academics and industrialists who form the ombudsman's body have found what they claim is a network of bid-rigging scams and other corruption associated with the project. Police have begun a criminal investigation. "Tsukuba has the reputation of being the highest-tech city in the world, but it is run by people out of the 19th century," Daijiro Kameyama, the head of the Shisei ombudsman, said. Tsukuba City is conducting its own civil suit against Waseda University, whose research suggested that the windmills would generate huge amounts of free electricity. The windmills were built by a Waseda University spin-off company.



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

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

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


15 July, 2006

Coastal craziness

In a 1997 speech at a conference in Monterey, a radical environmentalist named Peter Douglas called for the U.S. Constitution to be amended to make courts the "arbiters" in what he called the "debate" over property owners' rights. It was just another day at the green pulpit for Douglas, who thinks government powers should be used to coerce individuals to "care with mind and heart for Gaia and all life she sustains."

Unfortunately, Douglas is in a position to use coercive powers in pursuit of his extremism. He is the longtime executive director of the California Coastal Commission, an institution whose hostility toward property rights makes the typical eminent domain-abusing redevelopment agency seem like pikers.

Consider the case of San Luis Obispo engineer Dennis Schneider, who hoped to build his dream home on a cliff above the ocean in a remote area north of Cayucos. Incredibly by normal cognitive standards, typically by Coastal Commission standards, the agency blocked his plans on the grounds that the home would be such an aesthetic affront to passing kayakers, boaters and surfers that it would violate their rights. We are not making this up.

Thankfully, on June 28, the 2nd District Court of Appeal said this was nonsense in a brisk 12-page decision that seemed perplexed at where the Coastal Commission comes up with stuff like this. The answer, of course: from the untethered imagination of its executive director.

Schneider's ordeal isn't over yet. After pondering Gaian case law and the need for kayaker empowerment, Douglas is pushing for an appeal. But of course he would - if the Coastal Commission doesn't feel obligated to take the U.S. Constitution seriously, why should it take a state court seriously?

Source. (HT Cheat Seeking Missiles)


The World Heritage Committee (WHC) has rejected a motion calling for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. The WHC meeting in Lithuania heard evidence that 125 sites including the Himalayas and the Great Barrier Reef are at risk from climate change. Campaigners wanted the WHC to agree that the only way to protect such sites was by reducing emissions, which would have obliged governments to make cuts.

But in discussions on Monday this option was rejected by the UNESCO body. A further clause encouraging countries to draw on projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) when assessing risks to World Heritage Sites was also rejected.

Environmental campaigners have reacted with frustration, and blamed the move on lobbying by governments opposed to restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. "We are extremely angry that the World Heritage Committee has not taken any meaningful action to protect some of the most important sites on Earth from climate change," said Peter Roderick, co-director of the Climate Justice Programme. "They are good at drawing up wonderfully drafted documents, but the idea of actually doing anything seems to pose a problem. "The world is entitled to expect better from the Committee; bending over backwards as a result of fear of the US and Canada will tarnish its reputation."

Two years ago, Climate Justice co-ordinated petitions from environmental groups saying that three World Heritage Sites - Sagarmatha National Park in the Himalayas, Huascaran National Park in Peru and the Belize Barrier Reef - were being irreparably damaged by the impacts of human-induced global warming. The Sagarmatha petition was backed by Everest pioneer Sir Edmund Hilary. Subsequent petitions were lodged concerning the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park on the US-Canada border and Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

A survey conducted by the World Heritage Committee among its member nations found that 125 sites are threatened by climate change. These include the Tower of London which could be damaged by rising sea levels. "The survey by the World Heritage Committee suggests that climate change is already impacting on scores of the world's most spectacular natural heritage sites," said Catherine Pearce, climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth International. "Unless the international community takes urgent action to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases the situation will get much worse."



In my salad days to be labelled green would mean that you were deemed (dusts off old school thesaurus) gullible, ignorant, immature, inexpert, naive, starry-eyed, unworldly and wet behind the ears. Today many wear the green label with pride, as a sign of grown-up wisdom.

But I think the old meanings still apply. There remains a hole in the Doh!-zone layer between starry-eyed, unworldly policies of officials in green-tinted glasses, and the way that most people live in the multicoloured real world. For instance, this week the first person to be prosecuted for failing to recycle her household rubbish was cleared. Magistrates in Exeter ruled that there was insufficient evidence that Donna Challice, a mother of three, had put rotting food in the green recycling bin intended for cans, paper, plastic and glass. The council complained that they should not have to find “direct evidence of an individual contaminating a recycling bin”, and demanded that the law be changed to make it easier to hand out 1,000 pound fines for unproven offences, no doubt on recycled paper.

This little case puts the bin-lid on the mixture of the absurd and the authoritarian in many green policies. Domestic recycling is a load of rubbish, a messy waste of our most precious resource — time. It is far too small-scale to make any real difference to big issues of waste disposal. The only result of these compulsory recycling policies is to sort people into two imaginary piles — the pious and the polluters. And when something like the Exeter case trashes such unworldly, simple-minded notions, the authorities attempt to bin the need for messy evidence before finding the ungreen guilty.

Or look at the Government’s Energy Review. All attention has been focused on the inclusion of the nuclear option. But what seems truly outrageous is the idea that so-called renewables, such as wind power and burning biofuels, could provide enough green energy to meet a fifth of the UK’s rising needs. That would surely not be realistic even if all of Britain’s hills and coastlines were covered with giant wind turbines, and the fields of this green and pleasant land were filled with garish yellow rape that makes it look as if some superhuman graffiti artist has run riot with a spray can.

Then last week MEPs voted overwhelmingly to impose new taxes on airlines — to punish them for carbon pollution and to curb the growth of cheap flights. Never mind that millions are now voting with their feet and expanding their horizons by flying around Europe and the world. Never mind that, as the airlines point out, the Euro measures are purely discriminatory and fly in the face of any realistic strategy. What do the ignorant and starry-eyed guardians of Europe care about such mundane matters, when they are doing the work of Gaia?

Only the gullible could believe that such eco-illogical ideas are a step forwards. Domestic recycling laws would bring back drudgery that should have been abolished with the invention of the municipal dustbin. Renewable energy means reversing history by spreading out energy production across the country again, instead of concentrating it in efficient power stations. And restricting air travel means trying to return the worldly-wise masses to a state of village idiocy. To see this garbage passed off as the progressive alternative is enough to make some of us feel green with nausea.


New Australian nuclear reactor

Green groups have condemned the nuclear watchdog's decision to grant the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) an operating licence for a new $330 million research reactor. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) today gave the go ahead for ANSTO to operate the Open Pool Australian Light-water (OPAL) research reactor at Lucas Heights, in Sydney's south. However, the watchdog has imposed strict conditions on ANSTO's licence, including the need to provide regular safety and security reviews.

But green groups and local residents say the safety and environmental risks associated with the new reactor are too high and it should not be allowed to operate. Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney said it was irresponsible for the facility to start operating amid a battle over the Federal Government's plan to build a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory. "We believe for the federal regulator to licence the operation of what will be by far the largest generator of radioactive waste in Australia before there's an agreed management of that waste, is a deeply flawed decision," he said.

There are also concerns about giving the go-ahead to the new reactor just a month after four accidents occurred in one week at the existing Lucas Heights nuclear reactor. "That should have been a wake up call about how quickly things can go wrong with nuclear reactors," Greenpeace campaigns manager Danny Kennedy said. "Unfortunately, decision makers don't seem to be listening. "It's extremely reckless to introduce a nuclear reactor into a major growth corridor of our largest city."

Local residents have also accused the nuclear watchdog of ignoring the concerns they outlined in 11,000 submissions opposing the new reactor. People Against a Nuclear Reactor (PANR) spokeswoman Genevieve Kelly said residents were worried that there was no adequate emergency plan in place in the event of a major accident or terrorist attack. She said residents' fears were compounded by the fact there had been no independent assessment of whether the new reactor should be allowed to operate. "It is like having Dracula in charge of the blood bank," she said. "No one with any independence is appointed to protect the public in these matters. The Federal Government regulates itself."

But ANSTO defended the need for the new reactor and said it met the highest possible standards imposed upon the nuclear industry. "Not only will OPAL increase ANSTO's capacity to supply Australia and the region with critically important radiopharmaceuticals, it will provide world leading capability for our scientists to apply nuclear research to such areas as biotechnology, food and molecular biology, nanotechnology, health, environmental management processes and engineering," ANSTO executive director Ian Smith. "This research will result in tangible social and economic benefits for Australia."



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

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

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


14 July, 2006


Low doses of dioxin may not be as carcinogenic as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states in its draft risk assessment, according to a panel of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). In an analysis released today, the panel called on EPA to clarify uncertainties and better justify some assumptions about the danger of dioxin.

Historically found in herbicides and industrial waste, today dioxins come mainly from incineration of municipal trash. Emissions have dropped by about 90% since 1987, yet the compounds have contaminated soils and water worldwide and have made their way through the food chain by accumulating in animal fat. In lab animals, dioxins cause tumors, birth defects, and many other problems. But the risks to the general public from long-term, low-dose exposure are difficult to establish.

In its first risk assessment of dioxin, in 1985, EPA called the compound a "probable human carcinogen." As more data came in, the agency reassessed the threat, and in 2000 it gauged that the cancer risks for the most exposed people were 10-fold higher than it previously thought (Science, 16 June 2000, p. 1941). This was controversial, however, as was the agency's view that cancer risk depends linearly on dose (which would mean there is no safe dose). In 2004, after an interagency working group couldn't agree on the report, the 1800-page document was sent to the NAS for review.

A key finding of the 18-member committee is that EPA should not simply assume a linear relationship between low doses and cancer risk. That "is not the most scientifically justified approach," says toxicologist David Eaton of the University of Washington, Seattle, who chaired the panel. Rather, EPA should consider a nonlinear dose response with a threshold below which dioxin has no impact on cancer. Further evidence for such a response comes from a series of animal tests on dioxin, published last year by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science's National Toxicology program, the panel found. A nonlinear dose response would imply a lower cancer risk, although the panel did not calculate the amount. The panel also said the agency should quantify the uncertainties surrounding the risks of cancer and other health problems.

The committee's recommendations are "pretty important," says Martin Van den Berg, a toxicologist at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, who reviewed the NAS report. "In practice, the risk of dioxins with respect to carcinogenesis might have been overrated." Eaton says that EPA should be able to follow its recommendations and finalize the report in a year or so. "We hope that they can complete this in a timely fashion."



The first person to be prosecuted for failing to recycle household rubbish was cleared of any offence yesterday after magistrates decided that there was insufficient evidence to convict. Donna Challice, 31, a mother of three, had denied that she was responsible for repeatedly leaving rotting food in a green recycling bin intended for items such as cans, paper, plastic bottles and glass. Mrs Challice denied six counts of contaminating the recycling bin and claimed that the food waste was put there by passers-by while the bins were on the street awaiting collection.

The decision by magistrates could have implications for other councils trying to persuade householders to sort their waste before putting it in the appropriate bins. Exeter City Council, which brought the prosecution, called for a change in the law to make it easier to get a conviction. The court was told that Mrs Challice was one of a number of residents who were sent warning letters by Exeter City Council alerting them of fines of up to o1,000 for failing to separate items for the green recycling bins. Council officials made several inspections of Mrs Challice's bin and on every occasion found food waste, including discarded takeaways, contaminating the recyclable items.

However, Frances Eastwood, the chairman of the bench at Cullompton Magistrates' Court in Devon, said that the council had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was Mrs Challice who was responsible for putting the food waste into the bins. Mrs Challice had repeatedly told council investigators that neither she nor her children, Warren, 14, Kimberley, 12, and Ryan, 10, had put the food into the bin outside her home in Hazel Road, Exeter. Mark Shell, her solicitor, said: "Who put the items in the bin? We do not know. It is not our problem. It is the Crown who have to satisfy the court that it was the defendant."

After the case Mike Trim, the Exeter City Council recycling officer, said: "We will have to look at the implications for us and other local authorities. It will be hard to bring cases like this if there has to be direct evidence of an individual contaminating a recycling bin. "It's hard to see how you can carry out surveillance practically on what people do in their own homes and their own back gardens. This case shows the Act is not working in its current form." He said that the council would continue to enforce the recycling regulations. He added: "The cost of this case to the council is about 5,000 to 6,000 pounds, but it has been worth it because the cost of contamination to us each year is 100,000 pounds." Mrs Challice left court without making any comment but Mr Shell said that she was delighted at the outcome.


Good, bad ideas from 'greenies'

Post lifted from The Locker Room

I groaned when I saw the cover of the latest Newsweek -- filled with the promise of more environmental silliness.

But I must admit that the lead story was pretty good. Sure, some of the ideas sound goofy. But the key is that most of the 10-page article dealt with private citizens and companies testing their ideas without resorting to public money or government regulation.

Writer Jerry Adler makes a brief mention of green government policies in Chicago and Austin, Texas. I'm in no position to debate the merits of those initiatives, but I presume voters in both communities would have a better chance of killing off wasteful local programs than trying to fight federal or state policies.

With those exceptions, I approached the other ideas with an open mind. If the developers of recycled-denim insulation can find a market for their product -- without government intrusion -- more power to them.

After reading that article, I figured there must be a catch. I was wrong. There were two.

First, there's the sidebar that criticizes President Bush's environmental policy. It seems some people can't understand why a man who uses captured rain and wastewater for his ranch's landscaping -- not to mention an underground geothermal system for heating and air conditioning -- wouldn't use the coercive power of government to force more people to do the same.

"Whatever motivated him to build a green ranch before he was president hasn't been translated at all into policy," says Frances Beinecke of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Perhaps Beinecke can find a clue in the sentence that describes the president's response to global warming.

Bush thinks new technologies-not treaties-can save the day.

Here's the second catch. As if the magazine was trying to soften us up for the blow, the green issue ends with a column: "What We Need Is Policy."

Writer Jane Bryant Quinn throws the whole market-based solution idea out the window. If only the magazine's printer could have skipped that page.


Too bad about what the people want in their housing

The cul-de-sac, a feature of almost every housing development built since the Second World War, has reached the end of the road. Estate agents emphasise the benefits of living in a dead end with no passing traffic. But it is precisely the lack of passers-by that has prompted the Government to condemn cul-de-sacs in its guidance on street design. It recommends instead a series of blocks arranged in a grid, a building pattern pioneered 2,000 years ago in Roman towns. The draft guidance, Manual for Streets, says that blocks are more conducive to walking and cycling, and make more efficient use of space. It says that cul-de-sacs often cause people to make long detours to reach shops and schools, encouraging them to travel by car.

The guidance says: "A dead-end road system of loops and lollipops has been the dominant layout of suburban housing developments for the last 30 years. It could be argued that most housing developments of this type lack any sense of coherent urban structure. "Many suffer from layouts that make orientation difficult, create leftover and ill-defined spaces, have too many blank walls and facades and are inconvenient for pedestrians, cyclists and buses."

Andrew Cameron, technical director of WSP Group, the consultancy which helped to produce the manual, said that research in the US had found that people living in cul-de-sacs weighed, on average, 6lb more than those living in grid-type developments. "The environment within which we live affects not just how we move about but our health as well. The Victorians were good at creating connected networks of streets, like in Clapham or Balham in South London. You get more street activity on these than on cul-de-sacs," he said.

The Space Syntax Laboratory at University College London found in the 1990s that householders were 30 per cent more likely to be burgled if they lived in a cul-de-sac. Ben Hamilton-Baillie, a street design consultant, said: "People may like the apparent exclusivity of cul-de-sacs, but, like gated communities, they often lead to a sense of isolation." Richard Hebditch, policy co-ordinator at Living Streets, formerly the Pedestrians' Association, said: "If you don't happen to get on with the people who live on your cul-de-sac, it can be a nightmare. A grid pattern is better at linking homes to a wider community."

Barratt Homes, one of Britain's biggest residential developers, defended the cul-de-sac and said that it planned to continue building them. A spokesman said: "A great many homebuyers like cul-de-sacs - and so do many planning authorities. As well as allowing houses to be arranged so that other houses in the close are visible, thereby improving security, they are not subject to through traffic and are, therefore, rightly perceived to be safer for pedestrians, especially little ones. Our experience is that cul-de-sacs also often help build a sense of neighbourliness and community."

The guidance manual establishes what it describes as a "hierarchy of modes", with pedestrians at the top, followed by cyclists then public transport users. Car users are at the bottom of the list. It concludes: "This hierarchy should be adhered to in the design process - this may at times result in reduced vehicle capacity and increased vehicle delay so that other modes can be accommodated



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

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

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


13 July, 2006


Press release from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw's lack of objectivity and balance on the issue of global warming appears to have tainted his upcoming Discovery Channel documentary called: "Global Warming: What You Need To Know" airing on July 16. Brokaw's partisan past and his reliance on scientists who openly endorsed Democrat Presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004 and who are financially affiliated with left wing environmental groups, has resulted in a documentary that is devoid of balance and objectivity. Colorado State climatologist and professor of atmospheric sciences at Colorado State University, Roger Pielke, Sr, viewed an advance copy of the Brokaw's special and declared that it contained "errors and misconceptions." "The show relied on just a few scientists with a particular personal viewpoint on this subject which misleads the public on the broader view that is actually held by most climate scientists," Pielke wrote on July 7.

Unfortunately, viewers should not expect a scientifically balanced view of the climate from the former NBC newsman. Brokaw who has been affiliated with the Sierra Club and has recently lavished praise on former Vice President Al Gore's film "An Inconvenient Truth." Brokaw, who called Gore's film "stylish and compelling", has called the science behind catastrophic human caused global warming `irrefutable." Brokaw also chose to ignore all 60 scientists who wrote to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in April of 2006 questioning the science of climate alarmism.

Brokaw's partisan environmental credentials are so firmly established that the former anchor was offered a job in the Clinton-Gore Administration to be the director of the National Park Service in 1993. According to The Washington Post, Brokaw `very seriously' considered the offer at the time but decided to remain with NBC News. "I have a lot of friends in the environmental movement," Brokaw said. Brokaw's wife also serves as vice president of the environmental group Conservation International.

In his new Discovery Channel special, Brokaw does not disclose the potential and known biases of the scientists he chose to feature. For example, Brokaw presents NASA's James Hansen as an authority on climate change without revealing to viewers the extensive political and financial ties that Hansen has to Democratic Party partisans. Hansen, the director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, received a $250,000 grant from the charitable foundation headed by former Democrat Presidential candidate John Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz. Subsequent to the Heinz Foundation grant, Hansen publicly endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president in 2004, a political endorsement considered to be highly unusual for a NASA scientist.

Hansen also has acted as a consultant to Gore's slide-show presentations on global warming, on which Gore's movie is based. Hansen has actively promoted Gore and his movie, even appearing at a New York City Town Hall meeting with Gore and several Hollywood producers in May. Hansen also conceded in the March 2004 issue of Scientific American that the use of "extreme scenarios" to dramatize climate change "may have been appropriate at one time" to drive the public's attention to the issue --- a disturbing admission by a prominent scientist.

Brokaw's special also features Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University. Brokaw once again fails to disclose Oppenheimer's partisan and ideological affiliations to viewers. Brokaw fails to note that Oppenheimer actively campaigned against President George Bush in 2004 and, like Hansen, endorsed Senator Kerry for president. Oppenheimer was affiliated with the partisan group Scientists and Engineers for Change and the green group Environment2004 financially bankrolled in part by the Heinz Foundation where Teresa Heinz-Kerry serves as the chairwoman. Environment2004, which put up billboards in Florida mocking President Bush in the final months of the 2004 presidential election. Viewers of Brokaw's program will not be informed that Oppenheimer personally donated to the group Environment2004, a group that was so partisan it encouraged visitors to their Webpage to "get involved" in defeating President Bush by playing a game called "Whack-a-Bush." In addition, Oppenheimer also serves as a "science advisor" to the left wing and politically charged group Environmental Defense and was a co-founder of Climate Action Network. Finally, Oppenheimer appeared with Hollywood activist Leonardo DiCaprio and Gore's movie producer Laurie David on Oprah Winfrey's talk show.

Brokaw's special has led climatologist Pielke to conclude that Brokaw presents "a narrow view of the issue of natural and human climate variability and change." "It is a disappointment that this show, hosted by Tom Brokaw, did not use the two hours to present a balanced view on the spectrum of perspectives on the human influences on the climate system," Pielke wrote.

Pielke has authored more than 275 peer reviewed journal articles on climate. According to Pielke, Brokaw also presents flawed science in his program. "Rapid glacial retreat is not a new observation, nor are all glaciers retreating. The Grand Pacific glacier in Glacier Bay National Park, for example, retreated 48 miles from 1794 to 1879, and a further 17 miles by 1916. Large masses of glacial ice breaking from the Antarctic continent are not a new feature of this region," Pielke noted.


The energy crisis is threatening 1.4m manufacturing jobs in Britain and is about to spark another round of household power bill rises, the Government will be warned tomorrow. The stark message to MPs comes from the Energy Intensive Users Group, representing major manufacturers, and the Amicus trade union, which will tell MPs that gas supplies are no longer secure. The warning will precede Tuesday's publication of the Energy Review, in which the Prime Minister will recommend sweeping away planning restrictions that delay windpower and gas storage facilities and allowing the Government to push through a nuclear rebuilding programme.

Fears of more price increases come after ScottishPower last month raised gas prices by 17% and electricity bills by 10%. Analysts expect other suppliers, such as British Gas and Powergen, to follow suit within weeks, with combined household bills, already touching 1,000 pounds a year, likely to rise by at least ten%.

The EIUG will present a confidential report by the Government's own energy consultant Ilex that claims 400,000 direct jobs and onem indirect jobs are in danger in the event of a three-week interruption of gas supplies - a very real possibility according to the group.

Wholesale gas prices are 55% higher than in 2005 and EIUG director Jeremy Nicholson told Financial Mail: 'Our members are reporting job losses and reductions in investments. We are seeing an accelerated decline of manufacturing.' Nicholson said a crisis last winter, when the UK came within 24 hours of running out of gas, was averted only because heavy users of energy cut back significantly. But he warned that the situation could only get worse as the UK became more reliant on imported gas.

The Energy Review's emphasis on streamlining planning will delight the wind power and gas storage industries, which have suffered from years of planning delays. Financial Mail asked power company bosses and industry experts what they wanted to see in the Energy Review.

* Nicholson said: 'We want to ensure British industry gets the secure, competitive energy supplies it needs to stay in business. It would be reckless to allow Russia, or the vagaries of the weather, to determine whether the lights stay on.'

* Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy said: 'Let's not forget what all this is about. We want to keep the lights on, keep costs down and deal with climate change. This is a huge challenge but also an opportunity to deliver secure, clean and affordable energy for the long term.'

* Dr Paul Golby, chief executive of E.ON UK said: 'What we need to see are decisions that ensure security of supply through diversity of generation...also ensuring we reduce our carbon emissions.'

* Jake Ulrich, managing director of Centrica Central, said: 'We want a tough approach to carbon emissions and a strong carbon price - delivered through the Government providing long-term support for market-based solutions. Liberalisation of European energy markets is vital to achieving fair prices for energy, as well as allowing free flows of gas to the UK.'

Mail on Sunday, 9 July 2006


One of the last barriers to the construction of a new generation of nuclear power stations will be swept away in a fundamental reform of the planning system, announced yesterday in the Goverment's Energy Review. People living near proposed nuclear plants and wind farms will lose the right to question their necessity or general safety, as planning inquiries are limited to considering local issues for projects of national importance, Alistair Darling, Trade and Industry Secretary, said.

Most household windmills and solar panels will become exempt from planning permission as part of a strategy to encourage "microgeneration" of renewable electricity close to home. The measures will reduce Britain's carbon emissions by between 19 million and 25 million tonnes by 2020, a cut of between 13 and 17 per cent on current projections. This will bring the country more than a third of the way towards the Government's goal of cutting 1990 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. The decision to back a new generation of nuclear reactors infuriated environmental groups. Tony Juniper, of Friends of the Earth, said: "This is a huge mistake. Nuclear power is unsafe, uneconomic and unnecessary."

Others, however, welcomed the backing for nuclear as the only sensible option. Professor Robin Grimes, of Imperial College London, said: "New nuclear build is the only viable way of generating the capacity to deliver a reduction in carbon emissions."

While the review increases support for renewable energy and efficiency savings, the document is clear that these measures cannot in themselves fill the "energy gap" and provide Britain with the low- carbon, secure electricity supply that it needs. Mr Darling said that as 25 gigawatts of coal-fired and nuclear capacity was due to be lost by 2020 - 30 per cent of the present total - some of this would have to be replaced by new atomic plants to prevent over-reliance on imported natural gas.

New nuclear reactors would have to be funded entirely by the private sector, without government subsidies, and the review does not state how many plants or of what sort should be built. For both the renewable energy and nuclear goals to be achieved, however, the planning system needed an urgent overhaul to stop urgently needed plants and wind farms being held up for years, Mr Darling said.

At present, wind farms take an average of 21 months to secure planning consent, and 11 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity is awaiting consent. Without reform, the prospects for nuclear are likely to be even worse: the inquiry into the last plant to be built, Sizewell B, lasted more than six years and the prospect of similar delays is discouraging new investment.

To overcome this, the Government will issue national "statements of need" after consultation, in the case of nuclear power, in a White Paper towards the end of the year. Once such statements have been issued, local inquiries will not be able to challenge the necessity of individual plants, but only to hear objections based on local concerns.

Mr Darling said that nuclear plants "could make a contribution to reducing carbon emissions and reducing our reliance on imported energy", but that the Government took no view on how many should be built. Without nuclear power, Britain will be dependent on natural gas for 55 per cent of its energy needs by 2020, compared with 38 per cent at present. As North Sea stocks are being exhausted, up to 90 per cent of this would have to be imported, much of it from potentially unstable countries.

Possible sites for nuclear power plants will be investigated in a government-led initiative, which will begin early next year. A new system of safety licensing will also be introduced. Instead of considering each application to build a nuclear reactor from scratch and in isolation, the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) will instead "pre-license" individual designs.

The NII will examine the safety case of a proposed design, a process that is expected to take about three years. If it passes muster, it will issue a design acceptance certificate valid for ten years. After an operator selected a site and obtained local planning permission, it would then begin the phase of the licence application. The NII would assess the proposed site and issue a formal licence within twelve months. After a design acceptance certificate has been issued for one reactor, it would clear the way for the construction of similar models. For each new plant, only a site licence would be required, which would take up to 12 months to secure, compared with four to five years under the existing regime.

More here

The Real Cost of Gasoline: Get Over It!

Time out for a reality check. Amidst the blizzard of stories about how high motor fuel prices are hurting America and big oil companies are raping consumers, we decided to do some calculations. The graphic below tells the story: current gasoline prices are a bargain. Yes, they are high when compared to prices over the past twenty years or so. But when compared to the entire post-World War II period, gasoline today is cheap, cheap, cheap.

We came up with this chart by combining two sets of data: the constant dollar price of gasoline and transportation intensity. The first metric is easily understood. Transportation intensity is the total energy consumed in all types of transportation. Since 1949, the amount of energy used in America for transportation has been steadily declining when measured per dollar of GDP output.

If high prices were a big cost to the economy, we should see slowing demand. But according to the Energy Information Administration, March 2006 gasoline sales were nearly 375 million gallons per day. That's the second-highest March consumption figure in the EIA database. (The highest figure was March 2005.) Indeed, gasoline consumption numbers throughout 2005 were at or near record highs every month - even with the devastating effects of the two hurricanes.


Climate double standards: "Many climate alarmists like to point to catastrophic weather events as "proof" that the climate is changing for the worse-but don't expect them to claim that the climate is changing for the better when there's a drop in such events. A 30-county area in central Nebraska and north-central Kansas, part of the West Texas-to-North Dakota "Tornado Alley" region, did not experience a single tornado for the first half of this year-the first time this has happened since 1950. What does this mean for long-term climate trends? Nothing, of course. Yet had there been an increase in tornadoes, we'd never hear the end of it from the climate doomsayers."


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

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

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


12 July, 2006

Crocs before people

Relatives of a young girl killed by a crocodile want a cull of the reptiles, but their plea fell on deaf ears yesterday. The eight-year-old girl was on the Blythe River in northern Arnhem Land on Saturday night when taken by a croc. Police and rangers yesterday continued searching the river, about 400km east of Darwin, in the hope of finding her body. Search co-ordinator NT Police Acting Supt Tony Fuller said police had found no sign of the girl's body or the crocodile which attacked her. "The crews out there are very experienced, particularly the parks and wildlife people -- if anyone is going to find them, they will," Supt Fuller said.

The girl's grieving uncle, Ronnie Barramala, said croc numbers needed to be reduced. "They're pests. Too many, too many," Mr Barramala said. The girl was the NT's third fatal croc attack victim in 18 months. Hunting crocodiles in the Northern Territory was banned in 1971 and the Government yesterday ruled out a cull. "It's not an issue, not a question before government at the moment," Acting Chief Minister Syd Stirling said.

Police believe the girl was collecting water from the river's edge between Maningrida and Ramingining about 9pm. It was not known how large the crocodile was. Supt Fuller said the attack happened in a remote area.


When Regulating Wetlands Means Ruining Lives

Writing in Human Events, Senior Fellow R.J. Smith takes a look at recent Supreme Court action regarding wetlands and includes a few stories about wetlands regulations run amuck:

"...The Wall Street Journal's Max Boot has referred to this CWA-EPA-Army Corps axis as "The Wetlands Gestapo" for very good reason. In every state of the union, small landowners have faced bureaucratic nightmares when some federal or state agent suddenly showed up and said their property contained protected wetlands -- whether wet or dry. And typically these landowners have entered no-exit mazes of bureaucratic red tape running on for years and years, and even decades, of extremely costly permit-seeking and legal proceedings, vainly seeking to exhaust all available "administrative remedies" so that their cases might become ripe for seeking takings compensation. Meanwhile, they were paying taxes on land they could not use.

The best example of the naked power behind the CWA surfaced in Maine, where Gaston Roberge owned a 2.8-acre commercial lot which he had allowed the town to use to dump fill. When he tried to sell it for his retirement the Corps charged him with having an illegally filled wetland. In the subsequent legal discovery process, an internal Corps memo was located recommending "Roberge would be a good one to squash and set an example" in order to create a climate of fear among landowners and developers.

While most victims suffer "only" substantial monetary losses and the loss of the use of their land, others have fared far worse. James Wilson, a Maryland developer, created some wildlife ponds on his land and was found guilty of violating the CWA and sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and fined $4 million. In Florida, Ocie Mills and his son each spent 21 months in prison for filling a dry ditch with clean building sand in order to construct the son's personal home.

Perhaps the most notorious case was that of John Pozsgai who had escaped Communist Hungary in 1956 to live in the land of the free. He purchased property in Pennsylvania for a home and to build a truck repair shop. He cleaned up part of the land and a storm-water drainage ditch, removing an illegal dump containing more than 5,000 old tires. The tire-filled ditch had flooded during heavy rains. Yet the Feds considered it a stream, declared the dump removal a CWA violation, and Mr. Pozsgai was fined and imprisoned, serving one and a half years in federal prison, another year and a half in a "halfway house," and then five years of supervised probation. The family was forced into bankruptcy and his daughter is still vainly attempting to gain Mr. Pozsgai a presidential pardon..."


"Smart Growth" Policies Hurt

It is not uncommon to find workers in the Washington, DC area who suffer a two-hour commute each way to their jobs. Some travel from as far as West Virginia or Pennsylvania. In many cases, the cause is not preference but finance. Simply put: There is lack of affordable housing in the region. It is a problem nationally, not just in our nation's capital.

Steep increases in property values are often attributed to a robust real estate market or an area's appeal for living, working and attracting business. However, another more flagrant and largely overlooked cause is so-called "smart growth" planning. There is mounting evidence that smart growth policies have already prevented thousands of American households from their claim of the American Dream of owning their own home.

Designed as an environmentally-sensitive response to perceived suburban overcrowding or "sprawl," smart growth policies crowd housing units together into clusters of dense, skyward structures. In over 100 cities and regions across America, smart growth plans have been implemented on a false premise that growth should be controlled by concentrating it. These new "American utopias," as smart growth proponents have called them, claim to offer "mixed use" amenities of urban life, whereby transportation, retail shops and dwellings are intertwined.

Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and NIMBY suburbanites support these policies because they want to protect open space. They claim that concentrating people together through restrictive urban growth boundaries encourages mass transit use, reduces automobile dependence, cuts air pollution and preserves the "aesthetic and natural assets of communities."

But smart growth development restrictions pose a distinct problem for regions experiencing population growth. The overall shortage of housing can create affordability and quality of life problems for families entering the housing market, particularly those with low and moderate incomes and upwardly mobile minorities.

The problem is largely overlooked but could have far-reaching consequences. According to an econometric report commissioned by The National Center for Public Policy Research, one million households who bought homes between 1992 and 2002 would not have been able to do so had smart growth policies such as those found in Portland, Oregon been extended nationwide. Smart growth proponents consider Portland's policies a model for other metropolitan areas. Of this displaced group, a disproportionate number - 260,000 - would have been black.

Just How Smart?

Smart growth can even create the sprawl it is intended to prevent. Steven Greenhut, an opinion writer for the Orange County Register, points out that those "who want a bigger place [that may be unavailable because of smart growth policies] simply move away, thus promoting the sprawl that Smart Growthers are trying to stop."

In November 2004, Bozeman, Montana residents passed a $10 million taxpayer-funded "land trust" bond in an effort to help halt "sprawl" in the fast-growing but traditionally small college town. County officials use the fund to bait local ranchers into forfeiting development rights on their estates - in effect, creating a green development buffer. In an area awash with open space, this buffer cuts off affordable housing to many residents who now are forced to move to the lower-cost and distant countryside and to commute into town.

Smart growth can also be seen as a crude attempt to exclude less affluent and, in particular, minority residents from communities. Development restrictions in Richland County, South Carolina prevent much of the county's prime farmland - owned for generations by descendents of black sharecroppers - from being subdivided. County planners and environmentalists say they wanted to prevent the rapid commercial growth in nearby Columbia from spreading to the farmland, ruining the county's traditionally rural character.

In reality, their policy keeps black property owners from selling their land to small business developers or giving property to their children. Segregation has ended, but today these families face a new economic form by being denied the wealth from the selling of their own land. Smart growth proponents cry out that building more suburban homes would exacerbate already clogged roads, schools and neighborhoods. But how responsible is a policy that has some residents resorting to extreme measures simply to find a space to sleep at night?

A troubling example involved a Waldorf, Maryland woman who was arrested in 2004 on child endangerment charges for locking her four and five year old daughters in a commercial storage unit while she worked during the day and spent nights at her mother's home. Felicia M. Dorsey pleaded guilty for moving into the $65 a month space, which does not have running water, with her daughters for three nights after being evicted from her Waldorf apartment and unable find space at a homeless shelter. Unfortunately, Dorsey is not alone in seeking such makeshift shelter. Sheds, cars, trailers and even the woods are sometimes the only affordable option for families.

In Maryland's Charles County, where Dorsey and her daughters lived, the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment was $1,218 the year she was evicted. The median home price in 2005 was $298,000 - up from $237,000 in 2004. As housing prices continue to climb in growth-restricted areas, the $58 to $149 per month it costs to rent storage shelter, depending on its size, is an attractive alternative for those squeezed out of their homes. Far from creating a utopia, smart growth planning perverts the housing market with "grand designs" that limit choice of housing types and locations. Reducing the supply of homes while demand increases drives home prices to unprecedented levels.

Unleash the Market

Instead of a top-down approach, there must be a market-based solution that is both mindful of long-term development impacts and is flexible enough to distinguish among the different housing needs of all residents. Dr. Samuel Staley of the Buckeye Institute, for instance, proposes that consumers - not politicians or bureaucrats - determine appropriate housing densities through "performance zoning." Development would correspond to various standards that are community-established such as appropriate levels of road congestion or home vacancy levels.

The greatest advantage to a flexible and voluntarily-imposed solution is that it would not unnecessarily drive up home prices. The cost of housing would instead be a reflection of a number of demand pressures. Smart growth has a woeful record of pricing-out affordable housing for many middle income Americans. The smartest way to put housing back into reach is to let the market determine the supply and demand that planners are now dictating.


A balanced look at some "natural" diets

American ingenuity has found one solution to the energy crisis: food you never need to cook. There's no need for fuel when everything you eat---from salad to, well, more salad-is served up at piping room temperature. I'm speaking of the raw food diet, for those who find the vegan lifestyle of no animal food products far too opulent. This is particularly popular in, where else, California, yet it's making its way across the country.

On one level, the raw diet has much going for it. Hardly anyone on this diet is overweight. With mostly fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and sprouted beans, the diet is low in fat and high in nutrients. Some followers believe the raw lifestyle can prevent or cure cancer; and it has high-profile adherents, such as Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a few years ago. One another level, this is just whacked.

Natural: A dangerous word

Like many alternative diets, the raw food diet is grounded on a few solid principles. Americans eat too much processed food; and fresh, minimally prepared food is more nutritious. Blackened food, that delicious charbroiled taste, can cause cancer in the long run. But on closer examination, the raw diet makes little sense biologically.

A primary claim among raw food advocates is that the raw diet is a natural diet. After all, no other animal cooks its food, and humans only started cooking after the domestication of fire. But "natural" is always a dangerous word. Humans have evolved to eat and survive on a wide range of diets. The Inuit have survived thousands of years almost entirely on a diet of raw fish and meat. Some cultures, conveniently in regions of prolonged growing seasons, shun all meat as unnatural.

That said, humans have always eaten some cooked food. So, too, do many land animals; and so did our human ancestors. How? Largely in the form of roasted grasshoppers or other small critters caught in forest fires and brushfires. Fire foraging was quite natural and helped secure our survival. This is how we developed the taste for cooked food.

Cooking up claims: Another main claim by raw food advocates is that heat (from cooking) destroys enzymes in the food. Enzymes are proteins that serve as catalysts for specific biochemical reactions in the body. There are indeed many forms of enzymes. There are plant enzymes, digestive enzymes and metabolic enzymes, for example. And, yes, heat can destroy enzymes. But plant enzymes, which raw dieters wish to preserve, are largely mashed up with other proteins and rendered useless by acids in the stomach. Not cooking them doesn't save them from this fate. Anyway, the plant enzymes were for the plants. They helped with the plants' growth, and they are responsible for the wilting and decomposition of plants after they are harvested. They are not needed for human digestion. Human digestive enzymes are used for human digestion.

Raw foods certainly aren't safer than cooked food, as some claim. Most commercial chicken and a good deal of beef and pork, sadly, are loaded with bacteria and parasites. Cooking kills this, unless the meat is rancid. Major and surprising sources of food-borne illness, however, are raw sprouts, green onions and lettuce. These must be washed thoroughly before consumption. Raw (unpasteurized) milk is dangerous and mostly illegal to buy; trust your source. Raw (sprouted) kidney beans and rhubarb are poisonous.

Despite major flaws in the raw diet philosophy, one needs to question why a so-called natural diet leaves the dieter dependent on pills for B12 (impossible to get without animal products, such as meat or eggs) or zinc (very hard to get on a raw diet).

A healthier idea

Amusingly, the raw diet pits one questionable food philosophy against another, the macrobiotic diet. The macrobiotic diet emphasizes locally grown whole grains, vegetables, seaweeds and soy products. Cooking, based on seasons, is essential to bring out the energy in the food. Like the raw food diet, adherents believe a macrobiotic lifestyle can prevent and even cure cancer, and this was promoted in the United States by Aveline Kushi, who died of cancer.

The macrobiotic people got it right, though. While cooking can destroy vitamin C, it helps with the absorption of carotenoids such as beta-carotene and other nutrients. This is why the macrobiotic diet and most nutritionists recommend a mix of some raw products with cooked food. The macrobiotic diet is one of the healthiest around, actually, despite the strange philosophical baggage that accompanies it. And Americans would be a far healthier lot if we subscribed to it to some degree.

Similarly, we should welcome the take-home message of the raw food diet: Eating fresh vegetables, sprouts, nuts and seeds is good for you. But lighten up and light up the stove.



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

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

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


11 July, 2006


The dangers of radiation to human health have been exaggerated significantly, according to scientists who have examined the legacy of the Chernobyl disaster 20 years ago. Research into the aftermath of the meltdown at the Soviet nuclear reactor has suggested that low levels of radioactivity are not as harmful as believed — and may even be beneficial. [Hooray! Hormesis gets a rare mention]

Evidence from people and animals exposed to fallout has convinced experts that the risks of radiation follow a much more complex pattern than predicted. Generally, the hazards are thought to rise directly with increasing doses of radiation. But the new theory suggests that there is a threshold, below which any amount of exposure is probably safe. The theory will be outlined on Thursday during a BBC Two Horizon documentary. It will intensify controversy over the safety of nuclear power in the week in which the Government’s energy review is expected to back a new generation of atomic plants.

Scientists on the programme said that there was mounting evidence that the dangerous reputation of radiation and nuclear energy was unjustified. Mike Repacholi, of the World Health Organisation radiation programme, said: “People hear radiation, they think of the atomic bomb and they think of thousands of deaths. They think that the Chernobyl reactor accident was equivalent to the atomic bombing in Japan, which is absolutely untrue.”

The Chernobyl disaster was initially predicted to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths. Two decades later the death toll stands at 56. The United Nations Chernobyl Forum estimates that no more than 4,000 people will die as a direct result of fallout, while radiation may be a contributory factor in another 5,000 deaths.

Dr Repacholi said that even these estimates could be too high. While 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer have been detected in the Chernobyl region, with 15 deaths, many can be attributed to better detection because of the screening conducted after the disaster. The main negative health impacts of Chernobyl were not caused by the radiation, but a fear of it, he said. “We know that there were low doses of radiation received by a large number of people. We don’t want to minimise the effects but we also know that the fear and anxiety about radiation was a much greater factor and it’s this fear which has caused a huge number of health complaints that have overloaded the healthcare system.”

The low number of deaths and adverse health effects suggests that the low levels of radiation to which people around Chernobyl were exposed were not as dangerous as had been assumed. Further evidence has been taken from wildlife in the most contaminated area around the reactor. Research by Professor Ron Chesser, of Texas Tech University, found that mammals exposed to 8 to 15 millisieverts of radiation a day — equivalent to 8,000 chest X-rays — showed none of the genetic damage that his team had expected. “The radioactivity, even though it was very high according to all of our measures, was not enough to result in any appreciable measure of DNA damage in animals that lived their entire life in this area,” Professor Chesser said. “This was something that that we really didn’t expect.” Other research into natural background radiation also suggests that low levels of exposure do not cause genetic damage or cancer. Antoine Brooks, of Washington State University, said: “We have, through our fear of radiation, parlayed it into a major player, which it is not.”

The Times

Off Shore Drilling Victory Step In The Right Direction

The House voted Thursday to end a quarter-century offshore drilling ban and allow energy companies to tap natural gas and oil beneath waters from New England to Alaska. The vote puts the needs of consumers ahead of special interests and is long overdue, according to National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett. "Its long past time that Congress acted put America's security and economic needs ahead of the desires of powerful environmental lobbyists," said Burnett. "Ending the moratorium, with state revenue sharing, is a positive step in that direction. The question is whether the Senate will follow or take the road too often traveled."

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) has estimated that the Outer Continental Shelf contains more than 85 billion barrels of oil, quadruple current U.S. reserves and more than 419 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Of these reserves, between 21 and 41 billion barrels of oil and between 94 and 164 trillion cubic feet of natural gas lie under the East and West Coasts, and in portions of the Gulf of Mexico where production is currently banned.

According to Burnett, these moratoria were put in place due to environmental concerns. Yet while off-shore platforms have occasionally had substantial spills or leaks, technology has improved greatly since the earliest platforms were built. As proof, very little oil was spilled into the Gulf in the aftermath of hurricane's Katrina and Rita. Indeed, despite the fact that the storms destroyed 111 production platforms - most of them built before new standards were imposed in 1998 - and seriously damaged another 52 platforms and 457 pipelines, the MMS has found only six hurricane-related oil spills of at least 1,000 barrels and none of the spills impacted shores or wildlife.

"The U.S. is the only industrialized country with substantial coastlines not actively seeking new offshore oil and gas deposits," noted Burnett. "Canada and even economically backward Cuba are moving forward with plans to drill in off-shore areas that abut U.S. coastal waters. Since pools of oil do not respect international boundaries, it is almost certainly true that Canada and Cuba will be accessing oil that could otherwise be developed by and for the benefit of Americans."



In three decades of columns, I've never quoted myself at length, but here it's necessary. Al Gore calls global warming an "inconvenient truth," as if merely recognizing it could put us on a path to a solution. That's an illusion. The real truth is that we don't know enough to relieve global warming, and -- barring major technological breakthroughs -- we can't do much about it. This was obvious nine years ago; it's still obvious. Let me explain.

From 2003 to 2050, the world's population is projected to grow from 6.4 billion people to 9.1 billion, a 42 percent increase. If energy use per person and technology remain the same, total energy use and greenhouse gas emissions (mainly, carbon dioxide) will be 42 percent higher in 2050. But that's too low, because societies that grow richer use more energy. Unless we condemn the world's poor to their present poverty -- and freeze everyone else's living standards -- we need economic growth. With modest growth, energy use and greenhouse emissions more than double by 2050.

Just keeping annual greenhouse gas emissions constant means that the world must somehow offset these huge increases. There are two ways: Improve energy efficiency, or shift to energy sources with lower (or no) greenhouse emissions. Intuitively, you sense this is tough. China, for example, builds about one coal-fired power plant a week. Now a new report from the International Energy Agency in Paris shows all the difficulties (the population, economic growth and energy projections cited above come from the report).

The IEA report assumes that existing technologies are rapidly improved and deployed. Vehicle fuel efficiency increases by 40 percent. In electricity generation, the share for coal (the fuel with the most greenhouse gases) shrinks from about 40 percent to about 25 percent -- and much carbon dioxide is captured before going into the atmosphere. Little is captured today. Nuclear energy increases. So do "renewables" (wind, solar, biomass, geothermal); their share of global electricity output rises from 2 percent now to about 15 percent.

Some of these changes seem heroic. They would require tough government regulation, continued technological gains and public acceptance of higher fuel prices. Never mind. Having postulated a crash energy diet, the IEA simulates five scenarios with differing rates of technological change. In each, greenhouse emissions in 2050 are higher than today. The increases vary from 6 percent to 27 percent.

Since 1800 there's been modest global warming. I'm unqualified to judge between those scientists (the majority) who blame man-made greenhouse gases and those (a small minority) who finger natural variations in the global weather system. But if the majority are correct, the IEA report indicates we're now powerless. We can't end annual greenhouse emissions, and once in the atmosphere, the gases seem to linger for decades. So concentration levels rise. They're the villains; they presumably trap the world's heat. They're already about 36 percent higher than in 1800. Even with its program, the IEA says another 45 percent rise may be unavoidable. How much warming this might create is uncertain; so are the consequences.

I draw two conclusions -- one political, one practical. No government will adopt the draconian restrictions on economic growth and personal freedom (limits on electricity usage, driving and travel) that might curb global warming. Still, politicians want to show they're "doing something." The result is grandstanding. Consider the Kyoto Protocol. It allowed countries that joined to castigate those that didn't. But it hasn't reduced carbon dioxide emissions (up about 25 percent since 1990), and many signatories didn't adopt tough enough policies to hit their 2008-2012 targets. By some estimates, Europe may overshoot by 15 percent and Japan by 25 percent.

Ambitious U.S. politicians also practice this self-serving hypocrisy. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a global warming program. Gore counts 221 cities that have "ratified" Kyoto. Some pledge to curb their greenhouse emissions. None of these programs will reduce global warming. They're public relations exercises and -- if they impose costs -- are undesirable. (Note: on national security grounds, I favor taxing oil, but the global warming effect would be trivial.) The practical conclusion is that if global warming is a potential calamity, the only salvation is new technology. I once received an e-mail from an engineer. Thorium, he said. I had never heard of thorium. It is, he argued, a nuclear fuel that is more plentiful and safer than uranium without waste disposal problems. It's an exit from the global warming trap. After reading many articles, I gave up trying to decide whether he is correct. But his larger point is correct: Only an aggressive research and development program might find ways of breaking our dependence on fossil fuels or dealing with it. Perhaps some system could purge the atmosphere of surplus greenhouse gases?

The trouble with the global warming debate is that it has become a moral crusade when it's really an engineering problem. The inconvenient truth is that if we don't solve the engineering problem, we're helpless.



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

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

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


10 July, 2006

A rationalist crusader does the math on global warming

A Lomborg update

Bjorn Lomborg is a political scientist by training, but the charismatic, golden-haired Dane is offering me a history lesson. Two hundred years ago, he explains, sitting forward in his chair in this newspaper's Manhattan offices, the left was an "incredibly rational movement." It believed in "encyclopedias," in hard facts, and in the idea that mastery of these basics would help "make a better society." Since then, the world's do-gooders have succumbed to "romanticism; they've become more dreamy." This is a problem in his view, and so this "self-avowed slight lefty" is determined to nudge the whole world back toward "rationalism."

Well, if not the whole world, at least the people who matter. In Mr. Lomborg's universe that means the lawmakers and bureaucrats who are charged with solving the world's most pressing problems--HIV/AIDS, malaria, malnutrition, dirty water, trade barriers. This once-obscure Dane has in recent years risen to the status of international celebrity as the chief advocate of getting leaders to realize the world has limited resources to fix its problems, and that it therefore needs to prioritize.

Prioritization, cost-effectiveness, efficiency--these are the ultimate in rational thinking. (It strikes me they are the ultimate in "free markets," though Mr. Lomborg studiously avoids that term.) They are also nearly unheard-of concepts among the governments, international bodies and aid groups that oversee good works.

Mr. Lomborg's approach has been to organize events around the globe in which leaders are forced to think in new ways. His task is certainly timely, with groups like the U.N. engaged in debate over "reform," and philanthropists such as Warren Buffett throwing billions at charitable foundations. But, I ask, can the world really become more rational? "It's no use just talking about all the great things you'd like to accomplish--we've got to get there," says Mr. Lomborg.

Bjorn Lomborg busted--and that is the only word for it--onto the world scene in 2001 with the publication of his book "The Skeptical Environmentalist." A one-time Greenpeace enthusiast, he'd originally planned to disprove those who said the environment was getting better. He failed. And to his credit, his book said so, supplying a damning critique of today's environmental pessimism. Carefully researched, it offered endless statistics--from official sources such as the U.N.--showing that from biodiversity to global warming, there simply were no apocalypses in the offing. "Our history shows that we solve more problems than we create," he tells me. For his efforts, Mr. Lomborg was labeled a heretic by environmental groups--whose fundraising depends on scaring the jeepers out of the public--and became more hated by these alarmists than even (if possible) President Bush.

Yet the experience left Mr. Lomborg with a taste for challenging conventional wisdom. In 2004, he invited eight of the world's top economists--including four Nobel Laureates--to Copenhagen, where they were asked to evaluate the world's problems, think of the costs and efficiencies attached to solving each, and then produce a prioritized list of those most deserving of money. The well-publicized results (and let it be said here that Mr. Lomborg is no slouch when it comes to promoting himself and his work) were stunning. While the economists were from varying political stripes, they largely agreed. The numbers were just so compelling: $1 spent preventing HIV/AIDS would result in about $40 of social benefits, so the economists put it at the top of the list (followed by malnutrition, free trade and malaria). In contrast, $1 spent to abate global warming would result in only about two cents to 25 cents worth of good; so that project dropped to the bottom.

"Most people, average people, when faced with these clear choices, would pick the $40-of-good project over others--that's rational," says Mr. Lomborg. "The problem is that most people are simply presented with a menu of projects, with no prices and no quantities. What the Copenhagen Consensus was trying to do was put the slices and prices on a menu. And then require people to make choices."

Easier said than done. As Mr. Lomborg explains, "It's fine to ask economists to prioritize, but economists don't run the world." (This sounds unfortunate to me, although Mr. Lomborg, the "slight lefty," quickly adds "Thank God.") "We now need to get the policy makers on board, the ones who are dealing with the world's problems." And therein lies the rub. Political figures don't like to make choices; they don't like to reward some groups and not others; they don't like to admit that they can't do it all. They are political. Not rational.

So all the more credit to Mr. Lomborg, who several weeks ago got his first big shot at reprogramming world leaders. His organization, the Copenhagen Consensus Center, held a new version of the exercise in Georgetown. In attendance were eight U.N. ambassadors, including John Bolton. (China and India signed on, though no Europeans.) They were presented with global projects, the merits of each of which were passionately argued by experts in those fields. Then they were asked: If you had an extra $50 billion, how would you prioritize your spending?

Mr. Lomborg grins and says that before the event he briefed the ambassadors: "Several of them looked down the list and said 'Wait, I want to put a No. 1 by each of these projects, they are all so important.' And I had to say, 'Yeah, uh, that's exactly the point of this exercise--to make you not do that.'" So rank they did. And perhaps no surprise, their final list looked very similar to that of the wise economists. At the top were better health care, cleaner water, more schools and improved nutrition. At the bottom was . . . global warming.

Wondering how all this might go over with Al Gore, I ask Mr. Lomborg if he'd seen the former vice president's new film that warns of a climate-change disaster. He's planning to, but notes he wasn't impressed by the trailers: "It appears to be so overblown that it isn't helpful to the discussion." Not that Mr. Lomborg doesn't think global warming is a problem--he does. But he lays out the facts. "The proposed way of fixing this--to drastically reduce carbon emissions now and to solve a 100-year problem in a 10-year time frame, is just a bad idea. You do fairly little good at a fairly high price. It makes more sense to solve the 100-year problem in a 50-year time frame, and solve the 10-year problems, like HIV-AIDS, in a five-year time frame. That makes sense, and is the smart way to spend money."

Slipping into his environmentalist's shoes, he also says people need to get some perspective. "The U.N. tells us global warming will result in a sea-level change of one to two feet. It is not going to be the 30 feet Al Gore is scaring us with. Is this one to two feet going to be a problem? Sure," he says. "But remember that this past century sea levels rose between one-third and a full foot. And if you ask old people today what the most important things were that happened in the 20th century, do you think they are going to say: 'Two world wars, the internal combustion engine, the IT revolution . . . and sea levels rose'? It's not to say it isn't a problem. But we fix these problems."

Perhaps Mr. Lomborg's greatest coup at the recent Copenhagen Consensus event was getting the attention of John Bolton, a foe of U.N. inefficiency and bureaucratic wheel-turning. "I called Bolton's secretary and we finally got them to agree and she said 'Okay, you can have him for one hour.' And I said 'No, we need him for two days.' And she laughed her heart out and said 'That's never going to happen.'" But happen it did, and Mr. Bolton was an enthusiastic supporter, appearing with Mr. Lomborg to announce the results of the exercise and lamenting that too often at the U.N. "everything is a priority." There is already talk of a bigger U.N. event in the fall.

Still, it strikes me that simply getting the top folks to prioritize (which itself would be a minor miracle) is only a start. How does Mr. Lomborg intend to deal with a compartmentalized bureaucracy, where every unit claims it is sacred and each one is petrified of losing funding? Here, Mr. Lomborg himself turns a little less rational and a little more political. It's no accident that the consensus organizers tell its participants to consider what they'd do with an "extra" $50 billion. "Most of these guys, the day-to-day guys at the U.N., went into their business to 'do good.' And we need to appeal to that bigger sense of virtue. The best way to do that is talk about 'extra' money, so that they aren't worried about losing their own job."

Mr. Lomborg hopes that prioritization up top will inspire "competition" down below. "Most people work in their own circles--malaria guys talk to malaria guys, malnutrition guys to malnutrition guys. But if they understand that there are other projects out there, and that they also have price tags, and that the ones with the best performance are the ones that will get the extra money--you start to have an Olympics for best projects. And that means smarter ideas for how to solve problems." In fact, Mr. Lomborg wishes there were more Al Gores. "It's good we have someone educating about global warming. But we need Al Gores for HIV/AIDS, Al Gores for malnutrition, Al Gores for free trade, Al Gores for clean drinking water. We need all these Al Gores passionately roaming the earth with power-point presentations, making the case for their project. Because at that point, the real Al Gore would be slightly sidelined, since he's arguing for the most expensive cure that would do the least good."

Mr. Lomborg is smart enough to realize that what really bothers political leaders with this approach is that "it would be launching a ship and it's unknown where it will land. That makes people uncomfortable." A Copenhagen Consensus exercise for the Inter-American Development Bank in Latin America or for the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. (both of which Mr. Lomborg is working to organize) could result in findings that suggest the leaders of these organizations have been throwing good money after bad for years.

"Right now, politicians know that in public they have to say they support all things, and suggest there is an infinite amount of money to give to an infinite amount of good causes. Semiprivately, they know that if they have 10 good causes, the easiest thing is to give one-tenth of the funds to each--so there are no complaints. But privately they know there isn't enough money for everything and that they probably should have given most of it to the one or two groups that would do the most good."

At the very least, the Copenhagen Consensus might make it harder for public figures to defend bad decisions. "If you have a rational list that tells you that you do a lot more good preventing HIV/AIDS, then those in favor of such projects have slightly better arguments. Those arguing for climate change have slightly worse arguments." And while this may not change the world, it could be a start. "The Consensus isn't about getting it perfectly right," says Mr. Lomborg. "It's about getting it slightly less wrong."


Israel presses from oil from shale

Proposed energy plant could help vastly reduce oil imports

With oil prices hovering around $70 a barrel, Israel is looking for ways to reduce its near-total dependence on energy imports. It's pondering the use of the nation's huge reserves of oil shale - a dark, crumbly rock loaded with hydrocarbons - located in the central and southern parts of the country. Thanks to a technical breakthrough, it should be possible to extract fuel oil from the shale for less than $20 a barrel. That could allow Israel eventually to cut its crude imports by up to one-third.

Shale is already used as a fuel for power plants in Israel and Estonia, where the rock is burned like coal to drive steam turbines. Israel's small shale-fired power plant was built nearly 20 years ago. But past attempts to extract liquid oil from shale weren't economically feasible: The process cost upwards of $50 per barrel at a time when oil was selling for less than half that.

Now, the tables have turned. A Russian-born Israeli immigrant named Moshe Gvirtz developed a technique in the 1990s to squeeze oil from shale by mixing the rock with a residue from conventional oil refining and putting it through a catalytic process. The dramatically improved results, coupled with soaring crude prices, have inverted the economics of oil shale. That could help not just Israel but dozens of other countries, including the U.S., that are rich in shale reserves.

Some challenges

A Haifa-based engineering firm called A.F.S.K. Hom Tov, which owns the patented process, is now gearing up to exploit the opportunity. "The technology could reduce dependence on imports and substantially reduce Israel's overall energy bill," says Israel Feldman, the company's co-founder and managing director. A.F.S.K. Hom Tov has proposed building a plant that could produce up to 3 million tons of oil annually, or roughly 30 percent of Israel's current oil imports.

How does it work? Older technologies squeezed oil out of shale by putting the crushed rock under enormous pressure at high temperatures. But the process developed by Gvirtz costs far less. The shale is mixed and coated with bitumen, a remnant of normal oil refining, then put through a catalytic converter under relatively low pressure. The output is synthetic oil that can be refined into gasoline and other products.

The only problem for Israel is that its shale is relatively low quality, with a "caloric value" of only around 15 percent, compared with values of 20 percent or higher in other countries. That means A.F.S.K. Hom Tov has to use more shale for a given output of oil.

Dream revived

But in an interesting wrinkle, the company also has developed a way to burn the leftover shale - which still contains residual fuel - that could someday be used to drive a 100-megawatt power plant in southern Israel. The dream of exploiting shale's potential is far from new. Ten years ago, a study conducted for the Israeli Energy Ministry by a panel consisting of some of the country's leading technical experts found that a 3-million-ton-per-year shale plant could turn an annual profit of $20 million to $59 million if oil were priced at $18 a barrel. On that basis, the experts strongly backed shale-oil technology and recommended the Israeli government finance a pilot plant.

But "falling energy prices and Israel's decision to switch to natural gas led the Israeli government to put the homegrown technology on the back burner," says Moshe Shahal, a former energy minister and now a leading Tel Aviv corporate lawyer who represents A.F.S.K Hom Tov (Hebrew for "good heat"). Only when oil prices began skyrocketing again last fall did Shahal and the company resume serious efforts to market the process locally as well as abroad.

Desert plant

Not surprisingly, an updated feasibility study by local energy consulting firm Eco-Energy found that the shale plant would be even more profitable today. "The cost of producing a barrel of oil using the process would be around $17 a barrel," estimates Amit Mor, managing director of Eco-Energy. At that price, the proposed plant would be a veritable gold mine, with annual profits between $188 million to $317 million. Mor notes that the projections are based on the U.S. Energy Deptartment's forecasts of an average oil price of $45 to $50 a barrel in the coming 25 years.

So far, A.F.S.K.'s process has only been tested on a laboratory scale. The company is planning an industrial-scale plant to be built at Mishor Rotem in the Negev Desert. "We hope to be in full-scale production in 2010 or 2011 at the very latest," says Feldman. That will entail construction of a pipeline from the Ashdod refinery located 80 kilometers (48 miles) to the north that would be used for transferring the necessary bitumen needed for the production process. A parallel pipeline would transport the synthetic oil back to Ashdod for refining.

International appeal

A.F.S.K. has already made a formal request to Israel's National Infrastructure Ministry for mining rights at Mishor Rotem. It has also asked the Industry, Trade, and Labor Ministry for government backing for the ambitious project. "The technology is extremely interesting and, with oil prices at these levels, there is a lot of interest on our part to develop shale," says Yaakov Mimran, Petroleum Commissioner at Israel's National Infrastructure Ministry. The two ministries are expected to give the green light in the next few weeks for a pilot plant to test the process. The company hopes to have the necessary licenses and government financial support in hand by the end of this year.



We have had crippling heat, torrential rainstorms, a heart-wrenching World Cup defeat and the traditional early exit from Wimbledon. Now, in a final blow to the British summer, the fizz is set to go out of our drinks. Drinks manufacturers have revealed that the UK is suffering from a shortage of carbon dioxide - the gas dissolved in drinks such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi to create the refreshing bubbles.

The demand for carbonated drinks is at its highest during the summer months and they have been particularly popular as Britain sweltered under the recent heatwave. But with local supplies of CO2 running low, manufacturers are being forced to ship it in from Eastern European countries. The C&C Group - the Irish drinks company behind Magners cider, recently launched as an upmarket drink in the UK with a high-profile advertising campaign - is one of the firms worst hit. Since last month, it has been bringing in emergency supplies of CO2 gas from Poland because of the shortage in the UK.

The crisis was caused by an explosion at one of the UK's biggest CO2-producing plants, based in Billingham, Teesside, which meant production had to be shut down when demand from the soft drinks industry was at its highest. The factory's parent company, Terra Nitrogen, is still repairing the damage caused by the incident on June 1. Production was also cut back over the winter because of the high prices of natural gas, a main raw ingredient for the manufacture of ammonia for fertiliser, of which CO2 is a by-product. Last night, a spokesman for Terra Nitrogen said: 'Following an incident on June 1, our ammonia plant in Billingham has been out of action. 'That won't be back on-line until about the end of July. It is one of the largest plants in the country. 'We have another plant down in Bristol but unfortunately that has also been having a couple of problems so production has been on and off. 'Over the winter we took our ammonia plant off-line at Billingham because of the gas prices.' There were other manufacturers in the same situation.'

To make fizzy drinks, carbon dioxide is injected into the liquid under high pressure so that large amounts are dissolved. When the bottle or can is opened, the pressure is released and the carbon dioxide comes out of the solution, forming bubbles. The carbonated drinks were inspired by mineral water from natural springs, which was said to have healing properties and was found to contain dissolved carbon dioxide. The first artificial fizzy drink was made in 1772 by English clergyman and chemist Dr Joseph Priestley, who published a paper called Directions For Impregnating Water With Fixed Air and offered the resulting soda water to friends. It was first made commercially by Jean Jacob Schweppe, who set up the Schweppes company in 1783.



Former Vice President Al Gore has long argued that human activities - primarily the burning of fossil fuels - are causing the Earth to warm significantly, with potentially catastrophic results. His most recent attempt to persuade the general public of his view is a movie and companion book entitled An Inconvenient Truth.

Most of the material in the movie is not new. It is largely based on a slide show Gore has given more than a thousand times to audiences around the world. Gore has persistently erred in his presentation of climate science for years; unfortunately, he has not taken this opportunity to correct his errors. The movie is filled with misstatements, half-truths and verbal sleights of hand concerning what we can and can't say with some level of certainty regarding the causes and consequences of climate change.

Is Tennessee Warmer? Gore says that since he was a child, he has seen the effects of global warming on his family farm. Inconveniently for Gore, however, any changes on his farm could not have been caused by global warming. According to National Climatic Data Center records, Tennessee has cooled by more than a half degree since Gore was born. Indeed, monthly temperature records show the state's warmest 30-year period since 1895 was 1925 to 1954.

Is Global Warming Causing the Snows of Kilimanjaro to Melt? Early in the film, Al Gore shows some powerful photographs of the diminishing snow-pack on Kenya's Mount Kilimanjaro, implying that human-induced warming is the cause. The snows of Kilimanjaro are retreating, but according to studies in the International Journal of Climatology and the Journal of Geophysical Research, the retreat began in the late 19th century - before most human greenhouse gases were emitted. It is largely due to the decline in precipitation (snowfall) on the mountain as a result of the clearing and burning of the rainforests at its base for agriculture. Precipitation is also declining in parts of the Amazon as the rainforests are cleared. Thus, while humans are to blame for the retreat of Kilimanjaro's glaciers, global warming is not.

Will Melting Polar Ice Sheets Cause Flooding of Coastal Cities? Gore uses stunning computer-generated images to show what would happen to the world's coastal areas if the Greenland and West Antarctica ice sheets melted. Sea levels would rise by as much as 40 feet, radically changing coastlines and creating many refugees. What Gore doesn't say about the threat to the ice sheets is as important as what he does say, however. Ice and snow is accumulating in the interior of Greenland and Antarctica, but decreasing around the edges. A 2005 study in the Journal of Glaciology by a NASA scientist concludes that there is a net loss of ice that will result in higher sea levels. But the loss is occurring slowly: 0.05 millimeters on average per year. At that rate, it will take a millennium for the oceans to rise 5 centimeters (roughly 2 inches) and 20,000 years to rise a full meter. More recent research indicates that the pace of melting has increased. But even under the worst case it would take at least several centuries - 1,800 years by one calculation - for the scenario painted in the movie to play out, giving humans a considerable amount of time to adapt.

Do All Scientists Agree? Gore says "the debate is over," "the science is settled," and "scientists agree," humans are causing global warming. The most telling piece of evidence for Gore is a study in the journal Science by Naomi Oreskes, professor at University of California at San Diego. Oreskes searched the Institute for Scientific Information database for 1993 to 2003 studies dealing with global climate change. She analyzed 928 abstracts, 25 percent of which did not mention human influence. According to Oreskes, 100 percent of the studies that addressed human influence on current climate trends either explicitly or implicitly endorse the view that humans are to blame for the current warming. Researchers who tried to replicate Oreskes findings came up with quite different results. Searching the same database using the same keywords, Benny Peiser, of John Moores University, found 1,117 peer reviewed publications with abstracts. In contrast to Oreskes, he found that:

* Nearly three times as many studies (3 percent) either rejected or doubted that humans are a cause of the current warming as those that explicitly endorsed the "consensus view" that humans are causing warming (1 percent).

* Another 29 percent implicitly accepted the consensus view, but most focused on the projected impacts of climate change rather than its causes.

* Two-thirds of all of the studies either made no mention of human influence or dealt with methodological issues, possible responses to climate change or natural factors that contribute to it.

Scientists Hans von Storch and Dennis Bray - both of whom accept the consensus view - surveyed their fellow climate scientists worldwide in 2003. They asked, "To what extent do you agree or disagree that climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic [human] causes?" Of the 530 responses, a majority (55.8 percent) indicated moderate to strong support for the consensus view, while 30 percent indicated varying degrees of skepticism. The number of scientists who strongly disagreed with the consensus view (10 percent) outnumbered those who most strongly supported it (9 percent). Contrary to Gore's claims, 55.8 percent is hardly as strong a consensus as science ever produces about a theory.

No Inconvenient Solutions. Gore says global warming is the most serious threat ever to face human civilization. So what should we do about it? Surprisingly, Gore's list of remedies is so meek and mild they are unlikely to offend a single significant voter group. He does not call for a higher gasoline tax or any other tax on fossil fuel. He does not endorse gasoline rationing, mandatory no-drive days or banning SUVs and stockcar races. He does pay lip service to the idea that the United States should limit carbon emissions as called for by the Kyoto Protocol, but nowhere does he mention that doing so might lower anyone's (any voter's) wages or cause any inconvenience whatsoever.

Furthermore, according to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, if all of the signatories to the Kyoto Protocol met their greenhouse-gas reduction targets, the Earth would at most be 0.07 degrees Celsius to 0.19 degrees Celsius cooler than without Kyoto. Most analysts argue that it would take multiple Kyotos to substantially reduce future warming. Yet on this "consensus" Gore is amazingly silent.

Conclusion. The Christian Science Monitor coined a new term to describe An Inconvenient Truth and films like it: the "docu-ganda." Docu-gandas differ from documentaries in that the goal of the filmmaker is to influence rather than inform. One media expert interviewed by the Monitor argued that marketing such films as documentaries could be "dangerous if viewers take everything they are saying as the whole truth." A second expert noted that "the danger of the advocacy documentary is that things might be being kept 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 to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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

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


9 July, 2006

'Global warming not affecting India'

Former scientific adviser to the Prime Minister and eminent scientist Vasant Gowarikar feels that global warming has not affected the Indian climatic system. Speaking at the inauguration of a National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC) sponsored workshop at Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA), Gowarikar pointed towards the India Meteorological Departments data on cyclones and rainfall, which are indicators of global warming. ``If we look at the last 115 years of data on cyclones, we will find that the highest number of cyclones (10) hit the country in 1893, 1926 and 1930. If we check last 20 years' data, the highest number of cyclones in that period, which is six, hit the Indian shores in 1992 and 1998,'' Gowarikar said.

He then pointed out that the highest rainfall recorded in the country was in 1917, with 1457.3 cm of rainfall and the lowest was around 913 cm in 1918. ``In the last 20 years, the highest rainfall was recorded in 1988 with 1288 cms while the lowest was in 2000 with 939 cms. If climate change has taken place in terms of warming, that should reflect on this data. But there is nothing to indicate the claims of warming affecting the Indian climate system,'' Gowarikar said.

According to him, many scientists across the world have claimed that the global warming has affected India, which was not true. ``Many point out to the heavy rainfall over Mumbai on July 27 in 2005. But it is to be noted that while places like Santa Cruz received 94.4 cms of rainfall, Colaba recorded only 7.3 cms of rain in a period of 24 hours,'' Gowarikar said. According to him, the monsoon is one of the most complex weather phenomenon as it involves both local and global factors.

Gowarikar blamed the western countries for global warming and suggested that the developed nations should be putting in more efforts to undo the harmful effects of all these years. ``India should not be made the part of a gang responsible for global warming. It is a phenomenon that is affecting the western nations more,'' he said.

Gowarikar also expressed his concerns about the damage been done to the hills in the name of development. ``Without the hills, we won't have any rains. Moreover, the ground water levels are depleting day by day. This will eventually lead to desertification, which is an irreversible process,'' he said.


Don't forget: Politicians share blame with Lay for energy debacle

By Dan Walters -- Sacramento Bee Columnist

The purveyors of revisionist political history are back at work this week, inspired by the death of Enron Corp. founder -- and convicted felon -- Kenneth Lay to revive the myth that were it not for Enron and Lay, California wouldn't have experienced its 2001 energy crisis. "We cannot allow his death to rehabilitate his image," state Sen. Joe Dunn, D-Santa Ana, was quoted in one obituary. "This is a man who is responsible for damaging millions of lives." Dunn led a legislative investigation into Enron's exploitative energy trading schemes, and this year ran for state controller as "the man who cracked Enron," an overblown claim that didn't save him from being rejected by Democratic voters.

Attorney General Bill Lockyer had the good manners to remain silent about Lay's death from heart disease three months before he was to be sentenced for lying to mask the failing company's condition. It was Lockyer who in 2001 told an interviewer that "I would love to personally escort Lay to an 8-by-10 cell that he could share with a tattooed dude who says, 'Hi, my name is Spike, honey.' "

Dunn and Lockyer have been the most vociferous politicians in blaming Lay and Enron for California's energy woes, but they're not alone. Gray Davis, the governor when the crisis struck, claimed vindication last May when Lay was convicted along with associate Jeffrey Skilling. The energy meltdown -- soaring costs and blackout-inducing shortages -- began Davis' political slide that culminated in his 2003 recall.

Did Lay's Enron play a role in the crisis that continues to cost California consumers tens of billions of dollars? Of course, but it was just one of many factors, and not even the most important one. Lay was an advocate of electric utility deregulation, but so were many others. Properly constructed, deregulated energy markets have worked elsewhere and could work in California, but the state's politicians fumbled.

In the mid-1990s, then-Gov. Pete Wilson and Daniel Fessler, Wilson's Public Utilities Commission president, pushed for deregulation, saying that competition could bring down California's high power rates. The PUC formulated a plan but the Legislature -- especially a state senator named Steve Peace -- decided to intervene. Lobbyists for utilities, power generators, traders such as Enron and consumer advocates engaged in marathon negotiating sessions known in the Capitol as the "Steve Peace death march" and produced a scheme that legislators, including Lockyer as a state senator, unanimously endorsed in 1996.

Retail power rates were frozen while utilities bought juice from a newly created wholesale market at prices that had no caps. It worked well enough for a few years because wholesale rates were low and stable, but when power shortages -- chiefly from a drought in the Pacific Northwest -- emerged in 2000, utilities began experiencing billions of dollars in new costs that they could not pass on to their retail customers, driving them toward bankruptcy. The illogical system began to collapse.

The scheme's flaws were compounded by Davis' paralysis when the first shortages hit in 2000. Had he and his PUC president, Loretta Lynch, acceded to utilities' pleas to abandon the spot market and sign long-term supply contracts, the crisis could have been averted. Even Enron was willing to sell long-term power for about 5 cents a kilowatt-hour. Davis' deer-in-the-headlights procrastination encouraged the market manipulators and six months later, when the state finally sought long-term supply contracts to avert blackouts, prices were much, much higher.

It was California politics at their worst. The system grants every "stakeholder" on a major issue a virtual veto if it is not satisfied with the product, and satisfying every interest often results in unworkable monstrosities. The 1996 scheme was one such product; all interests were placated but in the rush to ratify the agreement, no one explored potential downside risks -- the same expedient approach that later generated the state's chronic budget deficits. It's convenient for politicians such as Lockyer and Davis to blame Enron, but if they had been doing their jobs 10 years ago and six years ago, the crisis wouldn't have occurred.



In a recently published missive I had expressed skepticism about Al Gore's story of global warming and climate change. So not surprising I received some harsh rebukes for this.

I am not a trained climatologist and so I rely in my understanding on those who make themselves clear to me and also embrace certain principles as they propose solutions to problems they identify. Now this means, very briefly, that the sort of call to arms found in Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth" and similar offerings is unacceptable.

As an example of his predilection to go to government for solutions, Al Gore is most upset with George Bush for refusing to increase government regulation of whatever has an impact on the environment. Gore's solutions, in other words, are exclusively coercive -- give more power to the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency (under his leadership, of course) and we will then be on our way to solving the problems he and his team of experts have identified.

What Gore & Co., ignore is not environmental but economic science and sound principles of political economy. Economist have successfully shown the inefficiency of government intervention for purposes of solving nearly any problem at all. For his work on this issue, James Buchanan received the Nobel Prize in 1986. He developed "public choice theory," a set of principles he and his colleague Gordon Tullock laid out in their book, Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy (University of Michigan Press, 1962). It shows beyond any reasonable doubt-certainly less doubt than what Al Gore gives us -- that when one entrusts problem-solving to government agents, one can expect that there will be mismanagement because bureaucrats promote their own vested interest and agendas when they hold their positions, not the so called "public interest." (Part of the problem is that in most cases what some group labels "the public interest" is actually the private or vested interest of that very group. Yes, even scientists working for government exhibit this behavior pattern-they are very interested in garnering government grants and subsidies whether the work these support has anything at all to do with the welfare of the citizenry.)

OK, now it follows from this that whatever problem is at issue, calling upon governments to solve it is very risky if not outright delusional. My own skepticism about Al Gore & Co. isn't so much about the diagnosis but the cure, although even the diagnosis shows plenty of evidence of special pleading. (Nearly all the predictions are put in terms of what "may" happen, not what will.)

But most of all what is of very serious concern is how readily the likes of Al Gore will toss aside considerations of due process and civil liberties, not to mention private property rights, just so as to implement what they call "precautionary" policies, ones that do as much damage to the principles of a free society as any part of the Patriot Act. In another words, Al Gore & Co., are-and pardon my derivative language here-addicted to government.

Now there are those who will cavalierly dismiss my concerns as right wing, oil-interest-driven ideology that simply blinds the likes of me to what is imperative for humanity's survival and welfare. Au contraire! It is, instead, the folks lined up with Al Gore who show an unwavering, dogmatic commitment to handling all problems by means of coercion, the governmental way. (There is a wonderful book about this, Jonathan R. T. Hughes' The governmental habit: Economic Controls from Colonial times to the Present [Basic Books, 1977; republished by Princeton University Press, 1991].) To test whether I am right about this, just ask anyone who joins Gore & Co., what their solutions involve. They involve state imposed restrictions, higher taxation, an environmental disaster czar, and similar measures that are not becoming of a free society but of a top down tyranny.

Until and unless those showing great concern for the environment demonstrate that they understand the public choice problems of reliance on government and they respect the rights of individual human beings as they approach the problem, they do not deserve respect. Some of what they produce may be diagnostically sound but as to their cure, forget about it.



I don't wholly agree with the analysis below but the underlying point seems sound: That the human response to climate change may make that change beneficial rather than disastrous

One of archaeology's "big questions" is explaining the origins of civilization. In anthropology, "civilization" has a technical definition. To qualify as a civilization, a society must have all or most of the following characteristics: cities with large populations; a hierarchical social organization, with a king, pharaoh or president at the top of the organizational chart; an economy based on agriculture; monumental architecture; and a system of record-keeping.

The earliest civilizations arose in Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley and northern China. Based on this definition, there were no indigenous civilizations in the Ohio Valley. And the arrival of European civilization derailed any chance of one developing.

Various theories have been proposed to explain how this social complexity developed and why it developed in some areas and not others, but archaeologists and historians have not formulated any one satisfying explanation. Nick Brooks, a climate-change researcher at the University of East Anglia in England, offers his idea in the latest issue of Quaternary International. "The emergence of complex societies coincided with or followed a period of increased aridity," which began 8,000 years ago but intensified periodically in subsequent millennia, he said.

In this view, global climate change caused the profound social changes that have been referred to as the "urban revolution." Brooks states that during large-scale droughts, people would have been forced to concentrate in places where water was available. The social consequences of this aggregation included the formation of managerial elites who controlled the distribution of resources and directed the construction of large monuments to represent and justify their authority. Brooks sees these worldwide social upheavals as ways societies adapted to changing environments.

Most anthropologists reject such explanations as too simplistic. The environment, they say, cannot alone determine human responses. But when cultures worldwide adopt similar solutions to similar problems, perhaps it's useful to view civilization as a successful, if not inevitable, response to global environmental changes.

The editors of this issue of Quaternary International point out that although "no simple rules seem to govern human (cultural) evolution," it is crucial to try to understand how humans respond to environmental catastrophes. It is increasingly relevant to us today in the wake of devastating tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes and the threat of global warming.



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

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

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


8 July, 2006


Email from S. Fred Singer (

Here are some comments on the NY Times article (27 June) "How to Cool a Planet" by Wm Broad

I was appalled to read of the proposal by Paul Crutzen to release vast quantities of sulfur dioxide in the stratosphere to overcome "a potential planetary crisis." (This and other geo-engineering proposals will be published in the August issue of Climatic Change.) It was even more appalling to learn about the endorsement by Ralph Cicerone, president of the US National Academy of Sciences.

I am surprised to see such ideas advanced by environmental advocates. They should know that stratospheric aerosols, while reflecting some sunlight, will also provide the surface areas for heterogeneous reactions that destroy stratospheric ozone.

Crutzen estimates the annual cost of his sulfur proposal at up to $50 billion a year. Bjorn Lomborg can tell him of much better ways to spend such large sums of money. At least, Martin Apple is honest enough to see global warming fears as a source for massive research funding.

A few years ago, Edward Teller told me about similar proposals to create stratospheric aerosols. I was much too polite to contradict him but I remember shaking my head sadly. It shows how even great men can get carried away by unreasonable climate fears. Skeptics of anthropogenic global warming are correct to dismiss this kind of geo-engineering as a "costly effort to battle a mirage."

On the other hand, ocean fertilization and enhancing cloud albedo with saltwater mists may have some promise and are worth exploring.

The discussion prompted me to pull some old calculations out of my files and review the idea of a space-based solar radiation shield, combined with a solar power supply. Here are the numbers, which should still be valid. Assume a world population of 10 billion around 2050, requiring 5 kilowatt of electric power per capita. Total power demand is 50 billion kW. With a solar constant of 1.4 kW/m2 and photovoltaic conversion efficiency of 7%, the required collecting area is 5x10^11 m2, or 700x700 km2.

Compared to the cross-section of Earth of 1.27x10^8 km2, the collecting area is only 0.4%. However, a 0.4% reduction of solar irradiance could offset a substantial amount of GH warming. And if we choose to reduce the insolation for certain critical areas, we might even initiate another ice age. This is illustrative, of course. There are many practical problems that must be solved. And it is also necessary to establish a real need for such a combination project.

Bald-Eagle/DDT Lies Still Flying High

Pennsylvania officials just announced success with their program to re-establish the state's bald eagle population. But it's a shame that such welcome news is being tainted by oft-repeated myths about the great bird's near extinction. In its July 4 article reporting that the number of bald eagle pairs in Pennsylvania had increased from 3 in 1983 to 100 for the first time in over a century, the Associated Press reached into its file of bald eagle folklore and reported, "DDT poisoned the birds, killing some adults and making the eggs of those that survived thin. The thin eggs dramatically reduced the chances of eaglets surviving to adulthood. DDT was banned in 1972. The next year, the Endangered Species Act passed and the bald eagles began their dramatic recovery."

While the AP acknowledged the fact that bald eagle populations "were considered a nuisance and routinely shot by hunters, farmers and fishermen" - spurring a 1940 federal law protecting bald eagles - the AP underplayed the significance of hunting and human encroachment and erroneously blamed DDT for the eagles' near demise. As early as 1921, the journal Ecology reported that bald eagles were threatened with extinction - 22 years before DDT production even began. According to a report in the National Museum Bulletin, the bald eagle reportedly had vanished from New England by 1937 - 10 years before widespread use of the pesticide.

But by 1960 - 20 years after the Bald Eagle Protection Act and at the peak of DDT use - the Audubon Society reported counting 25 percent more eagles than in its pre-1941 census. U.S. Forest Service studies reported an increase in nesting bald eagle productivity from 51 in 1964 to 107 in 1970, according to the 1970 Annual Report on Bald Eagle Status. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service attributed bald eagle population reductions to a "widespread loss of suitable habitat," but noted that "illegal shooting continues to be the leading cause of direct mortality in both adult and immature bald eagles," according to a 1978 report in the Endangered Species Tech Bulletin. A 1984 National Wildlife Federation publication listed hunting, power line electrocution, collisions in flight and poisoning from eating ducks containing lead shot as the leading causes of eagle deaths.

In addition to these reports, numerous scientific studies and experiments vindicate DDT. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists fed large doses of DDT to captive bald eagles for 112 days and concluded that "DDT residues encountered by eagles in the environment would not adversely affect eagles or their eggs," according to a 1966 report published in the "Transcripts of 31st North America Wildlife Conference." The USFWS examined every bald eagle found dead in the U.S. between 1961-1977 (266 birds) and reported no adverse effects caused by DDT or its residues.

One of the most notorious DDT "factoids" is that it thinned bird egg shells. But a 1970 study published in Pesticides Monitoring Journal reported that DDT residues in bird egg shells were not correlated with thinning. Numerous other feeding studies on caged birds indicate that DDT isn't associated with egg shell thinning. In the few studies claiming to implicate DDT as the cause of thinning, the birds were fed diets that were either low in calcium, included other known egg shell-thinning substances, or that contained levels of DDT far in excess of levels that would be found in the environment - and even then, the massive doses produced much less thinning than what had been found in egg shells in the wild.

So what causes thin bird egg shells? The potential culprits are many. Some that have been reported in the scientific literature include: oil; lead; mercury; stress from noise, fear, excitement or disease; age; bird size (larger birds produce thicker shells); dehydration; temperature; decreased light; human and predator intrusion; restraint and nutrient deficiencies. Most of this evidence was available to the Environmental Protection Agency administrative judge who presided over the 1971-1972 hearings about whether DDT should be banned. No doubt it's why he ruled that, "The use of DDT under the regulations involved here does not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife."

Yet it's the myths, not the facts that endure. Why? The answer is endless repetition. The environmentalists who wanted DDT banned have constantly repeated the myths over the last 40 years, while most of DDT's defenders lost interest after the miracle chemical was summarily banned in 1972 by EPA administrator William Ruckleshaus. Why was banning DDT so important to environmentalists? Charles Wurster, a senior scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund - the activist group that led the charge against DDT - told the Seattle Times (Oct. 5, 1969) that, "If the environmentalists win on DDT, they will achieve a level of authority they have never had before. In a sense, much more is at stake than DDT."

Banning DDT wasn't about birds. It was about power. The sooner the record on DDT is set straight, the sooner the environmentalists' ill-gotten "authority" will be seen for what it is.


A Convenient Lie

By John Stossel

When he was in college, atmospheric-science professor John Christy was told, "it was a certainty that by the year 2000, the world would be starving and out of energy." That prediction has gone the way of so many others. But environmentalists continue to warn us that we face environmental disaster if we don't accept the economic disaster called the Kyoto treaty. Lawyers from the Natural Resources Defense Council (another environmental group with more lawyers than scientists) explain: "Sea levels will rise, flooding coastal areas." And Al Gore's new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," depicts a future in which cities are submerged by rising sea levels. Wow.

But many scientists laugh at the panic. Christy says, "Doomsday prophecies grabbed headlines but have proven to be completely false. Similar pronouncements today about catastrophes due to human-induced climate change sound all too familiar."

But the media can't get enough of doomsday. The Washington Post reported that because of melting ice caps and glaciers, "The End Is Near!" But melting Arctic ice won't raise sea levels any more than the melting ice in your drink makes your glass overflow. MSNBC and the BBC ran stories on the coming calamity from Greenland's melting glaciers. Unlike Arctic ice, those melting glaciers could raise sea levels. But other reports note that Greenland's ice has been thickening in the interior of Greenland.

The former vice president's film shows dramatic film of big chunks of ice breaking off glaciers, but the "calving" of icebergs is a normal, natural process involved in the growth of glaciers into the sea. The movie features some majestic glaciers that existed in the 19th Century that have all but disappeared today -- but it doesn't bother to mention any of the glaciers growing in Norway, New Zealand and even the United States. The U.S. Forest Service reports that the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska's Tongass National Forest is advancing so rapidly, it threatens to close off a major fjord. He shows shocking time-lapse photos of ice disappearing from Mt. Kilimanjaro. The ice there has been melting for over a hundred years.

Climate always changes. "An Inconvenient Truth" implies that all serious scientists agree that it is a crisis, and that the United States must immediately reduce carbon dioxide emissions as dictated by the Kyoto treaty the Bush administration so arrogantly refuses to sign -- the same treaty the Clinton-Gore administration didn't even submit to the Senate. But even advocates of Kyoto admit that if all nations signed the agreement and obeyed it, it would affect global temperatures by less than a tenth of a degree!

To achieve a meaningful reduction in emissions, politicians would have to set drastic limits on driving, air conditioning and all industrial production. I suppose "essential" car use would be allowed, and politicians would decide what is essential. A $10 a gallon tax on gasoline might be a start, and Al Gore could funnel the tax money to the scientist "friends" he repeatedly cites in his movie.

Let's calm down. The scary claims about heat waves and droughts are based on computer models. But computer models are lousy at predicting climate because water vapor and cloud effects cause changes that computers fail to predict. They were unable to anticipate the massive amounts of heat energy that escaped the tropics over the past 15 years, forcing modelers back to the drawing board. In the mid-1970s, computer models told us we should prepare for global cooling.

The fundamentalist doom-mongers ignore scientists who say the effects of global warming may be benign. Harvard astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas says added carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may actually benefit the world because more CO2 helps plants grow. Warmer winters would give farmers a longer harvest season.

Why don't we hear about this part of the global warming argument? "It's the money!" says Dr. Baliunas. "Twenty-five billion dollars in government funding has been spent since 1990 to research global warming. If scientists and researchers were coming out releasing reports that global warming has little to do with man, and most to do with just how the planet works, there wouldn't be as much money to study it." And the politicians would have one less excuse to take control of our lives.


Wildfires May Be Linked to Global Warming

What a lot of rubbish! Wildfires have become more serious because of Greenie restrictions on previous preventive burning practices by forest managers

The increase in the number of large western wildfires in recent years may be a result of global warming, researchers say. An analysis of data going back to 1970 indicates the fires increased "suddenly and dramatically" in the 1980s and the wildfire season grew longer, according to scientists in Arizona and California. "The increase in large wildfires appears to be another part of a chain of reactions to climate warming," said Dan Cayan, a co-author of the paper and director of the climate research division at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He said that while part of the increase may be attributed to natural fluctuations, evidence also links it to the effects of human-induced climate warming.

Scientists have become increasingly concerned in recent years about the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels. Average worldwide temperatures have risen this century as a result of what many believe is a greenhouse effect from that pollution.

The researchers used the files of the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service to analyze 1,166 fires of more than about 1,000 acres. Their findings are published Thursday in the online edition of the journal Science. Beginning about 1987, there was a change from infrequent fires averaging about one week in duration to more frequent ones that often burned five weeks or more, they reported. The length of the wildfire season was extended by 78 days. The researchers said the changes appear to be linked to annual spring and summer temperatures, with many more wildfires burning in hotter years than in cooler years.

They also found a connection between early arrivals of the spring snowmelt in the mountainous regions and the incidence of large forest fires. An earlier snowmelt, they said, can lead to an earlier and longer dry season, which provides greater opportunities for large fires. "I see this as one of the first big indicators of climate change impacts in the continental United States," said research team member Thomas Swetnam, director of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona in Tucson. "We're showing warming and earlier springs tying in with large forest fire frequencies. Lots of people think climate change and the ecological responses are 50 to 100 years away. But it's not 50 to 100 years away -- it's happening now in forest ecosystems through fire."



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

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

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


7 July, 2006

Greenie versus Greenie: Tidal power versus tigers

Nothing in real life ever suits the Greenies

Tigers in the world's largest reserve for the big cats are threatened by Indian plans for a tidal power project that will only provide electricity for a few thousand families, scientists and critics said on Friday. The proposed US$9-million plant will generate just four megawatts of power -- enough to light up 15,000 homes -- as water from tidal rivers is allowed to rise in one of many creeks dissecting the Sunderbans and is then released through a turbine. But conservationists fear large areas of the swampy mangrove park, home to about 280 tigers in the eastern state of West Bengal, will be washed away in the process. "It is too small a power project but has the potential to wipe out tiger habitat and harm the fragile ecology," S.R. Banerjee, state WWF director told Reuters. "We have asked the central government to stop this madness."

Three of the 50 or so islands that make up the Indian side of the Sunderbans -- the rest lie in neighbouring Bangladesh -- have been lost to sea erosion in recent years. S.P. Gon Chowdhury, director of the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency and architect of the scheme, said there was no cause for concern. "We will get all necessary clearances before starting the work later this year," he told Reuters. "There will be no threat to the tigers." The state minister for the Sunderbans, Kanti Ganguly, said the environment would be protected and the project was important for improving the living standards of hundreds of people. "We are going ahead with the project and the environmental hazards will be hardly any because the people behind the project have taken precautions," he told Reuters on Friday. "This project is important for raising the lifestyle of hundreds of villagers as they cannot live in the dark forever. "Once the project strarts later this year the perception of the conservationists will change forever."

But environmentalists say it is hard to see how the plant -- which would be India's first tidal power scheme -- can avoid both eroding some areas of the 350 sq km (135 sq mile) park and silting up others as the natural flow of water is disrupted. "Once the canal is blocked by sluice gates, the flow of water will be completely restricted causing widespread sedimentation and siltation," Pranabesh Sanyal, a senior official of the National Coastal Zone Management Authority, said. "This will lead to eventual destruction of a large part of the mangrove," he said of the region where the river Ganges flows into the Bay of Bengal.

The state government plans to construct two sluice gates at either end of the Durgaduani creek, which connects two rivers. During high tides, sea water will be allowed into the creek and as the level rises it will be released through a turbine. Over the past year, Indian officials, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, have expressed alarm at reports of a dramatic fall in the tiger population because of rampant poaching and human encroachment on leading sanctuaries. A century ago, there were about 40,000 tigers in India but according to official estimates, there are now barely 3,600 and some wildlife experts say there could be fewer than 2,000. A single tiger can fetch up US$50,000 on the black market. So it's trappers and hunters that are the problem: Not dams



Thanks to Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, the global warming debate is back on our political radar screen. We can let the scientists sort out the accuracy of his vision of a world tilting toward ruin. But even if Gore & Co. are correct that the international community must immediately act to stem the increase in global temperatures, conspicuously absent is any acknowledgment that the Asian economic revolution has made whatever problem exists much more difficult to solve. The folks who focus on U.S. noncompliance with the Kyoto agreement as the only impediment to a global solution are as outdated in their thinking as were the explorers of the Middle Ages who thought the world was flat.

Yes, the United States, as the world's largest economy, remains the biggest source of greenhouse gases, and any international solution would require American participation. But for any global agreement to win approval in Washington, it must recognize the belief that the restraints on emissions required by Kyoto will cost American jobs.

China, and to a lesser degree India and the other Asian tigers, are industrializing at a frenetic pace. Any agreement to limit global warming must include their participation. An acknowledgment of that reality by the environmentalists is the required first step in any effort to deal with the problem of rising world temperatures.

The Kyoto agreement was signed in 1997 before U.S. companies began outsourcing millions of jobs to China and India. The pact exempted both and other developing nations from the requirements of curbing emissions. The rationale was that the United States and Western Europe had caused most of the problem, so they should bear the brunt of the sacrifice. It was a noble but impractical idea. Even British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose nation signed the accord, acknowledged that "no country will want to sacrifice its economy" in the process. The United States refused to approve the agreement for that reason. Although Western European nations did, some of them have failed to keep the commitments they made.

That's why the idea that all the environmental folks have to do is show the Chinese how much they are polluting to get them to happily agree to the Kyoto limits is almost as naive as it is simplistic. The New York Times reported recently that the Chinese are so dependent on dirty coal for their power needs that their "dangerous brew of soot, toxic chemicals and climate-changing gases" is ruining the air quality not just for their own citizens but also for those in neighboring Asian nations. In fact, the Times reported, the Chinese emissions are making the air in non-urban parts of the Western United States as dirty as ever recorded.

It is hard to see the Chinese easily agreeing to curb their emissions. Doing so would require expensive technology on their industrial plants that would make their products more expensive in the international marketplace. Therefore, what American politician would support such steps at home with the knowledge that doing so would make U.S. products more expensive at the same time some of their global competitors are not complying? It is easy for those no longer in the political trenches to take the absolutist position, but political death wishes are in short supply at the White House and in Congress these days. That's why Mr. Gore and his buddies should learn to speak Chinese if they want to get an agreement that will be accepted in Washington.

The Baltimore Sun, 29 June 2006


Flood defences were torn down yesterday to allow the North Sea to swallow a chunk of the Essex coast and create the biggest man-made saltmarsh in Europe. The Wallasea saltmarsh will be a sanctuary for wildlife and has been created as compensation for the loss of similar habitat elsewhere on the coast. It will take up to five years for the marsh and mudflats to attract all the plants and animals associated with such habitat but the first birds and marine creatures were already in residence last night. Avocets were among the first to make use of the new saltmarsh as the tide flowed in yesterday afternoon and they are expected to be quickly followed by a range of other seabirds, fish, and molluscs.

Allowing the sea to encroach at Wallasea is in line with government policy on letting coastlines recede and minimising the cost of defences in the face of rising sea levels. Mechanical diggers moved into position early in the morning to tear down more than 300 yards of sea wall, which have for decades prevented the sea from encroaching on land. Seawater began flooding the 115-hectare (284-acre) site at high tide in the afternoon.

Mark Dixon, the project manager for the scheme, by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said that the saltmarsh would provide an unrivalled feeding station for thousands of birds. He said: "It takes two years for all the saltmarsh to get established. That's when it's a completely living marsh. In five years it will be fully established. "But straight away we are going to get fish in there and in a matter of days we will have some of the interesting invertebrate creatures living in the muddy bits. Some seaweed will be there within a fortnight."

Saltmarshes are rich feeding grounds for birds and especially important to migrants which use them to refuel. Fish also find plenty of food in them and use them as nurseries. Much of the richness is attributable to hydrobia, tiny marine snails, which colonise the mud in huge numbers. Seaweeds, sea grasses and sea asparagus will create "meadows in the sea" in the saltmarsh. Mr Dixon added: "The Wallasea saltmarsh is like a supermarket for the birds."

The Essex coastline is one of the most important in Britain for migrating birds but the natural saltmarshes that were once common have been destroyed by development and sea defences. In the 15th century the county had 35,000 hectares (86,000 acres) but now only 2,000 hectares remain.

More here


Fans of the European approach to greenhouse gas emissions should meanwhile consider what is going on in Germany, France, and Greece. The beloved cap and trade-based Emissions Trading Scheme, touted as "effective" by Al Gore, is proving to be useless. The UK's chief cheerleader for emissions trading, Michael Grubb, had this to say the other day: "I have been a big supporter of the EU ETS, but hearing the German news I feel more depressed than I ever have done about our ability to tackle climate change...I really believed that Europe would lead the way through the EU ETS but now I wonder whether this will ever happen."

Friends of the Earth is even more upset:

Friends of the Earth Europe said the EU is "shamefully off-course to meet its international Kyoto Protocol obligations". Jan Kowalzig, climate campaigner of the organisation said: "As these new figures embarrassingly show, our European leaders still haven't woken up to the climate crisis. Europe's governments make grand statements about their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, yet economy and industry Ministers continue to block or water down policy measures to switch to renewable energies, reduce energy waste or introduce fuel consumption standards for cars".

As Tony Blair has conceded, economic growth will always win out over fears about future weather when the two are put up against each other, wherever you are. Those who are worried about global warming have to suggest something other than an economic straitjacket if they want to be listened to. They have consistently failed to do this, becoming shriller and shriller in their rhetoric. Unfortunately for them, reality has a habit of winning out.

NRO, 29 June 20006


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

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

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


6 July, 2006


If you grow up in England, as I did, a few items of unquestioned wisdom are passed down to you from the preceding generation. Along with stories of a plucky island race with a glorious past and the benefits of drinking unbelievable quantities of milky tea, you will be told that England is blessed with its pleasant climate courtesy of the Gulf Stream, that huge current of warm water that flows northeast across the Atlantic from its source in the Gulf of Mexico. That the Gulf Stream is responsible for Europe's mild winters is widely known and accepted, but, as I will show, it is nothing more than the earth-science equivalent of an urban legend.....

After completing my Ph.D. at Columbia University in New York City, I took a temporary postdoctoral position at the University of Washington in Seattle, where I should have immediately realized that something was wrong with the Gulf Stream-European climate story. Seattle and British Columbia, just to the north, I discovered, have a winter climate with which I was very familiar-mild and damp [like Britain], quite unlike the very cold conditions that prevail on the Asian side of the Pacific Ocean. This contrast exists despite the fact that the circulation of currents in the Pacific Ocean is very different from the situation in the Atlantic....

Because sea-surface temperatures vary less through the seasonal cycle than do land-surface temperatures, any place where the wind blows from off the ocean will have relatively mild winters and cool summers. Both the British Isles and the Pacific Northwest enjoy such "maritime" climates. Central Asia, the northern Great Plains and Canadian Prairies are classic examples of "continental" climates, which do not benefit from this moderating effect and thus experience bitterly cold winters and blazingly hot summers. The northeastern United States and eastern Canada fall somewhere in between. But because they are under the influence of prevailing winds that blow from west to east, their climate is considerably more continental than maritime....

One subtle but important effect stems from a fundamental principle in physics: the conservation of angular momentum. In meteorology, this principle translates to a rule that atmospheric flow must closely conserve the total angular momentum of a column of air. The angular momentum of the air contains two components: one arising from the rotation of the Earth (which meteorologists call the "planetary component") and another from the curvature of the fluid flow itself. The planetary component, which in the Northern Hemisphere is directed counterclockwise, is at a maximum at the pole and zero at the equator.

The conservation of angular momentum, it turns out, causes the mountains of North America to contribute substantially to the dramatic difference in temperatures across the Atlantic. To fathom why, you must first understand that the troposphere (the lower part of the atmosphere, where weather takes place) is bounded at the top by the tropopause, a region of stability where temperature increases with height and which acts somewhat like a lid. Thus when air flows over a mountain range-say, the Rockies-it gets compressed vertically and, as a consequence, tends to spread out horizontally. When a spinning ice skater does as much, by spreading his arms, the conservation of angular momentum slows his spin. An atmospheric column going up a mountain behaves in a similar way and swerves to the south to gain some clockwise spin, which offsets part of the counterclockwise planetary component of its spin.

On the far side of the Rockies, the reverse happens: The air begins to stretch vertically and contract horizontally, becoming most contracted in the horizontal when it reaches the Atlantic. And as with an ice skater pulling in his arms, conservation of angular momentum demands that the air gain counterclockwise spin. It does so by swerving to its left. But having moved to the south after crossing the mountains, it is now at a latitude where the planetary component of its angular moment is less than it was originally. To balance this reduction in angular momentum, the air acquires more counterclockwise spin by curving back around to the north. This first southward and then northward deflection creates a waviness in the generally west-to-east flow of air across North America and far downwind to the east.

Such waves are of massive scale. The southward flow takes place over all of central and eastern North America, bringing Arctic air south and dramatically cooling winters on the East Coast. The return northward flow occurs over the eastern Atlantic Ocean and western Europe, bringing mild subtropical air north and pleasantly warming winters on the far side of ocean.

Topographically forced atmospheric waves contribute significantly to the large difference in winter temperature across the Atlantic. When Battisti and I removed mountains from our climate models, the temperature difference was cut in half. Our conclusion was that the large difference in winter temperature between western Europe and eastern North America was caused about equally by the contrast between the maritime climate on one side and the continental climate on the other, and by the large-scale waviness set up by air flow over the Rocky Mountains.

Evidence from ocean sediments suggests that at times during the last Ice Age the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation was considerably weaker than it is today, or perhaps it even shut down entirely. One such event took place about 12,900 years ago, during the last deglaciation, and is called the Younger Dryas (after a European cold-dwelling flower that marks it in some terrestrial records). The Younger Dryas began with a dramatic reversal in what was a general warming trend, bringing near-glacial cold to the North Atlantic region. This episode ended with an even more dramatic warming about 1,000 years later. In Greenland and western Europe, the beginning and end of the Younger Dryas involved changes in winter temperature as large as 20 degrees taking place in little more than a decade. But the Younger Dryas was not a purely North Atlantic phenomenon: Manifestations of it also appeared in the tropical and southern Atlantic, in South America and in Asia.

For many years, the leading theory for what caused the Younger Dryas was a release of water from glacial Lake Agassiz, a huge, ice-dammed lake that was once situated near Lake Superior. This sudden outwash of glacial meltwater flooded into the North Atlantic, it was said, lowering the salinity and density of surface waters enough to prevent them from sinking, thus switching off the conveyor. The North Atlantic Drift then ceased flowing north, and, consequently, the northward transport of heat in the ocean diminished. The North Atlantic region was then plunged back into near-glacial conditions. Or so the prevailing reasoning went.

Recently, however, evidence has emerged that the Younger Dryas began long before the breach that allowed freshwater to flood the North Atlantic. What is more, the temperature changes induced by a shutdown in the conveyor are too small to explain what went on during the Younger Dryas. Some climatologists appeal to a large expansion in sea ice to explain the severe winter cooling. I agree that something of this sort probably happened, but it's not at all clear to me how stopping the Atlantic conveyor could cause a sufficient redistribution of heat to bring on this vast a change.

In any event, the still-tentative connections investigators have made between thermohaline circulation and abrupt climate change during glacial times have combined with the popular perception that it is the Gulf Stream that keeps European climate mild to create a doomsday scenario: Global warming might shut down the Gulf Stream, which could "plunge western Europe into a mini ice age," making winters "as harsh as those in Newfoundland," or so claims, for example, a recent article in New Scientist. This general idea been rehashed in hundreds of sensational news stories.

The germ of truth on which such hype is based is that most atmosphere-ocean models show a slowdown of thermohaline circulation in simulations of the 21st century with the expected rise in greenhouse gases. The conveyer slows because the surface waters of the subpolar North Atlantic warm and because the increased transport of water vapor from the subtropics to the subpolar regions (where it falls as rain and snow) freshens the subpolar North Atlantic and reduces the density of surface waters, which makes it harder for them to sink. These processes could be augmented by the melting of freshwater reserves (glaciers, permafrost and sea ice) around the North Atlantic and Arctic.

But from what specialists have long known, I would expect that any slowdown in thermohaline circulation would have a noticeable but not catastrophic effect on climate. The temperature difference between Europe and Labrador should remain. Temperatures will not drop to ice-age levels, not even to the levels of the Little Ice Age, the relatively cold period that Europe suffered a few centuries ago. The North Atlantic will not freeze over, and English Channel ferries will not have to plow their way through sea ice. A slowdown in thermohaline circulation should bring on a cooling tendency of at most a few degrees across the North Atlantic-one that would most likely be overwhelmed by the warming caused by rising concentrations of greenhouse gases. This moderating influence is indeed what the climate models show for the 21st century and what has been stated in reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Instead of creating catastrophe in the North Atlantic region, a slowdown in thermohaline circulation would serve to mitigate the expected anthropogenic warming!

The Longevity of a Legend

When Battisti and I had finished our study of the influence of the Gulf Stream, we were left with a certain sense of deflation: Pretty much everything we had found could have been concluded on the basis of results that were already available.... All Battisti and I did was put these pieces of evidence together and add in a few more illustrative numerical experiments. Why hadn't anyone done that before? Why had these collective studies not already led to the demise of claims in the media and scientific papers alike that the Gulf Stream keeps Europe's climate just this side of glaciation? It seems this particular myth has grown to such a massive size that it exerts a great deal of pull on the minds of otherwise discerning people.

This is not just an academic issue. The play that the doomsday scenario has gotten in the media - even from seemingly reputable outlets such as the British Broadcasting Corporation - could be dismissed as attention-grabbing sensationalism. But at root, it is the ignorance of how regional climates are determined that allows this misinformation to gain such traction. Maury should not be faulted; he could hardly have known better. The blame lies with modern-day climate scientists who either continue to promulgate the Gulf Stream-climate myth or who decline to clarify the relative roles of atmosphere and ocean in determining European climate. This abdication of responsibility leaves decades of folk wisdom unchallenged, still dominating the front pages, airwaves and Internet, ensuring that a well-worn piece of climatological nonsense will be passed down to yet another generation.

Much more here

Toilet bowl cancer scare deserves a good flush

Do the deodorant toilet bowl blocks used in public restrooms cause cancer?

"Chemical compounds in household products like mothballs and air fresheners can cause cancer by blocking the normal process of cell suicide," reported University of Colorado researchers this week. The chemical compounds at issue are naphthalene, which is used in mothballs, and para-dichlorobenze (PDCB), which is used in deodorant toilet bowl blocks and other air fresheners. The study spawned worrisome headlines from the United Press International ("Mystery of carcinogenic mothballs solved") and "[Colorado University] sniffs out cancer link in mothballs"). "This study shows why mothballs and some air freshener products may be harmful to humans," said study author Ding Xue. "Understanding how carcinogenic compounds can trigger tumor growth is important for federal regulatory agencies that deal with human exposure to hazardous chemicals," Xue added. Since consumers use more than one million pounds of naphthalene and PDCB annually, should this new study cause worry?

First, the researchers did not study whether the chemicals actually caused cancer in humans. Instead, they studied the effects of the chemicals on nematodes - worms, that is. When the worms were exposed to the chemicals, cells that normally would have died, instead survived, according to the researchers.

Before addressing the more general proposition that chemical-caused biological effects in worms might be reasonable predictors of chemical effects on humans, consider the existing studies involving actual human exposure to naphthalene and PDCB. We can only consider such studies very briefly, however, since there are none that link either chemical to cancer in humans.

As the Environmental Protection Agency says on its web site, "Available data are inadequate to establish a causal association between exposure to naphthalene and cancer in humans" and "No information is available on the carcinogenic effects of [PDCB] in humans."

And it's not like naphthalene and PDCB are new substances that no one knows anything about. Naphthalene was produced in the early 19th century and was in widespread use as an insect repellent (moth balls) by 1900. The use of PDCB as an insecticide/moth repellent dates back to 1912. By 1934, 21 million gallons of naphthalene and PDCB were used annually in the U.S. alone. Virtually everyone is exposed to naphthalene - not only from moth balls, but also from the burning of coal and gasoline - and PDCB, typically from toilet deodorant blocks. Moreover, despite the large scale production of naphthalene and PDCB, no studies report higher cancer rates among workers who would be expected to have relatively high exposures to the chemicals.

That brings us to the University of Colorado's worms. Neither naphthalene nor PDCB reportedly caused cancer in the worms - it's not even clear that worms can get cancer in the first place. The chemicals reportedly merely delayed cell death, which may be linked with cancer, but not necessarily. Not only is the relevance of this particular biological event to cancer development unclear, but relevance of worm biology to humans is also questionable -- worms and humans, after all, belong to different animal groups or phyla. So why use worms in the first place if their relevance to humans is dubious?

"[Testing chemicals] on lab rats can take two years to complete," Xue said in a media release. "But we can do the same kind of [tests with worms] in two weeks," Xue added. Xue's goal, therefore, is to be able to test chemicals on worms rather than animals because the process is shorter and less expensive. Xue's idea is not entirely illogical, but it does increase the uncertainty in extrapolating research results -- at least lab rats are in the same animal phylum as humans. But Xue may want to reconsider the whole notion of laboratory testing of chemicals for their potential to cause cancer.

The idea that typical human exposures to chemicals increase cancer risk and that testing chemicals on lab rats is a good way to find out whether particular chemicals pose cancer risks is a now largely discredited idea leftover from 1970s-era hysteria over chemicals. Since the 1970s, millions of lab rats have been poisoned with thousands of chemicals to produce uncountable cancer scares and incalculable regulatory and consumer costs. But when you compare the results of those high-dose lab rat experiments with much lower-dose, real-life human exposures to chemicals, it's become clear over the years that the lab rat experiments are of little-to-no relevance to humans. Based on Xue's naphthalene/PDCB study, it doesn't appear that lab worms represent an improvement over lab rats. So next time you're in a public restroom and you see one of those toilet deodorant blocks, you can flush away any cancer anxiety that you may have.


Texas: Feathers must not be ruffled

State wildlife officials will observe tonight whether a fireworks display just offshore of this Galveston County island community wreaks havoc at a nearby nesting site of thousands of endangered brown pelicans. Some preservationists fear the privately financed fireworks display's loud booms and bright sprays of pyrotechnic light might disrupt life in the nesting area of the endangered brown pelican on North Deer Island, causing some chicks to starve if their parents are so spooked by the fireworks that they flee the nests and lose track of their offspring. It is against federal law to harm or harass endangered species.

"But you can't do anything until the disturbance is observed," Houston Audubon Society president Stennie Meadours said. "Parks and Wildlife told us that they would observe the fireworks wherever the display is located to see if there is any disturbance to the birds."

An unidentified Tiki Island homeowner has paid for a July Fourth holiday weekend display for the past three years, said Mayor Charlie Everts, a retired Houston police officer. The man has had the display set up on a spit of land about 600 yards from North Deer Island, and no one has complained about the event until it was mentioned in a community newsletter this year, he said.

At least one complaint by a Tiki Island resident to the Audubon Society this week raised concerns among bird preservationists that the fireworks would harm the strong recovery of the brown pelican evident along the Texas coast in recent years. The complaint led to meetings among state and local officials. Everts said the fireworks do not violate city ordinances because they are set off on land outside the city and the pyrotechnics are legal in unincorporated parts of the county.

On Wednesday, Meadours and representatives of the Texas Department of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Texas General Land Office boated the North Deer Island area, looking for bits of dry land more distant from the nesting area than the one on which the fireworks have been set off in recent years. On Thursday, Everts said representatives of all three agencies agreed that the fireworks staging area should be moved to a tiny island a bit farther west of North Deer Island than the normal site. But Everts said state officials will monitor the show despite the compromise on location. "We think that satisfies everyone involved, and the fireworks will go on, and the residents of Tiki Island will be able to enjoy them, and there won't be any danger to the birds," said Aaron Reed, a spokesman for the state parks and wildlife agency.

North Deer Island is a federal bird sanctuary used as a nesting site by an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 pairs of birds of different species annually, according to information on the state fish and wildlife department's Internet site. Roseate spoonbills, reddish egrets and white-faced ibises also nest on the island. About one-third of the island is made from materials dredged from nearby shipping channels. "It is the most productive colonial bird nesting site in Galveston Bay, and it's the only place the brown pelicans are nesting this year here," Meadours said.

The island is just south of the Intracoastal Waterway, along which towboats pushing thousands of barges travel each year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has taken the brown pelican off the endangered species list along the entire Atlantic coast and the coasts of Florida and Alabama among the Gulf states. The species remains on the endangered list in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. [How can it be an "endangered species" in just one place?]

Everts said the man who is paying several thousand dollars for the fireworks display asked not be to identified although he sat in on Thursday's meeting with state officials. Audubon Society officials and members and representatives for the state agencies said they did not learn the man's name. "We had a nice meeting, and everybody was after the same goal," Everts said. "I think we got the mission accomplished."



From Alternet

As the Age of Air-conditioning has waxed, America's social and political climate has deteriorated -- among Democrats, Republicans and independents, from north to south -- and that deterioration can't be completely separated from the climate-control technology that grew along with it. Imagine a country where economic life, by necessity, slows during the summer. Where potential customers stay home or go swimming on a hot afternoon, so salespeople are sent home early. Where factories simply shut down the line for a couple of weeks. That was this country before air-conditioning, but in 2006, it sounds like a distant, exotic land. In today's rapid-growth, high-consumption "service economy," workers and consumers, like computers and ovens, are components, each of which is maintained at an appropriate operating temperature.

Air-conditioners are not inherently right-wing devices. You'll hear them whirring all over Washington, D.C., this time of year, outside offices occupied by Republicans, Democrats and political groups across the spectrum, from the NRA to NOW and beyond. Only a tiny number of politicians, and no leading member of either major party, would dare put ecological limits ahead of short-term economics. Who's going to suggest that summer be a time to back off and simply not make, sell and buy so much stuff? None will dare say that a million and a half people have no business living and working in a place like Phoenix or that Miami has grown beyond supportable limits. And the ecological damage done by that refusal to slow the wheels of commerce is irreversible (see See Part I).

If it means keeping control of Middle Eastern and Central Asian oil and gas, the White House and most members of Congress have no problem calling for sacrifices: the prospect of a trillion dollars out of taxpayers' pockets, the blood of many thousands, the devastation of whole nations. But don't expect political leaders to ask that Americans save energy by sweating a bit more. They certainly aren't asking themselves for any sacrifices. As Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated combat veteran and harsh critic of the Iraq war, recently said of Karl Rove, "He's sitting in his air-conditioned office on his big, fat backside saying, 'Stay the course.' That's not a plan."

The political system is wilting partly because its roots have become shallow. People are becoming less and less inclined to gather spontaneously in noncommercial places, and air-conditioning reinforces that social chill. A shady suburban street on a pleasant 85-degree summer evening can be as free of human life as it might be during a Christmas Eve ice storm. Keeping people indoors and comfortable reinforces a tight focus on the individual or nuclear family rather than a larger community, and that is part of what's crippling grassroots political action. Air-conditioning helps numb us to the prospect of ecological breakdown on a planetary scale as well. It's more tempting to think of global warming as a problem that only people in sweltering Bangladesh will have to deal with when we view their flood-prone plight from a seat in a cool living room or movie theater.

Lack of toughness in dealing with summer heat and personal discomfort will make any efforts to kick the carbon habit seem just as feeble. Clinging to air-conditioning as a necessity is the best way to prove anti-ecological conservatives right when they dismiss renewable energy as inadequate. Better insulation and 'green' energy can never be enough to satisfy the nation's summer demand for A/C. Just to air-condition buildings -- and do nothing else -- would require eight times as much electricity from renewable energy as is currently produced. In a paper published in the journal Science in 2002, a team of 18 leading energy researchers predicted what would be required to supply the world's expected energy needs in the year 2050 without adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Finding, in the words of a press release announcing the article, that "no existing alternative energy source, nor combination of sources, currently exists that could adequately replace the energy produced by fossil fuels," they struggled to identify as-yet-undeveloped technologies that could supply the planet's needs, assuming per-capita consumption remains similar to today's.

Few of the strategies they considered -- including outlandish ones like a set of 660 photovoltaic solar arrays, each the size of Manhattan Island, placed in outer space -- appear likely to become reality. And, warned the authors, "the disparity between what is needed and what can be done without great compromise may become more acute as the global economy grows." The only effective approach will be to slash current energy consumption, especially where it is most wasteful.

Along with keeping cars parked, we could start by throwing open a few windows. The United States devotes 18 percent of its electricity consumption just to air-condition buildings. That's more than four times as much electricity per capita as India uses per capita for all purposes combined. Producing that power for climate control in our interior spaces is playing a big role in distorting the planet's climate. To achieve the deep reduction in our greenhouse gas emissions that's going to be necessary, while insisting that we remain an air-conditioned nation, would take us into the realm of science fiction -- or maybe into a nuclear power-plant construction boom.

Lacking political will to urge restraint or sacrifice, a growing number of lawmakers in both parties are considering the nuclear option. Conventional thinking seems to be leading mainstream environmentalists in the same direction. The venerable organization Environmental Defense is taking tentative first steps down that grim cul-de-sac. Here is its president Fred Krupp, speaking to NPR a year ago: "I think we have to have an open mind and certainly ask the serious tough questions about nuclear power that, um, need to be asked. And we should not just throw it off the table from the get-go." The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has taken a similar position: that if fuel and wastes can be dealt with safely, "NRDC would not seek to exclude nuclear generation from competing on a level playing field with other reduced-carbon energy sources."

Luxuries like comfort air-conditioning are affordable only in a make-believe world with unlimited fossil fuel reserves and a method for pumping carbon dioxide into outer space (or unlimited tolerance for nuclear disaster and storage for radioactive wastes). In a greenhouse future, we will need every kilowatt we can squeeze out of wind machines, solar arrays, and biomass just to fulfill essential needs. None will be left over for cooling down the Astrodome.

If it now seems absurd to suggest that Americans give up air-conditioning, it's because we've become too used to living in the land of plenty. In her history "Air Conditioning America: Engineers and the Controlled Environment, 1900-1960," Gail Cooper tells how the U.S. government's War Production Board in May 1942 banned the manufacture or installation of air-conditioning systems "solely for personal comfort." Plans were even drawn up to remove the few existing comfort air-conditioning systems from commercial and government building for use in military production facilities.

The end of World War II and the economic boom of the 1950s brought a reversal of attitude that is still with us today. Cooper quotes one industry executive of the time who announced, "The problem has been one of selling the public on the idea that air-conditioning is no longer a luxury." But, says Cooper, that idea didn't require much selling: "Architects, builders and bankers accepted air-conditioning first, and consumers were faced with a fait accompli that they had merely to ratify." If air-conditioning could be banned by the United States in wartime and then be declared a necessity in a time of abundance, we need not regard it as inevitable today. In an era when air-conditioning systems are proliferating, heating up the planet and chilling the social and political climate, their most important feature has become the "off" switch.


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

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

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


5 July, 2006


The United States has frozen its carbon dioxide emissions at a time when signatories of the Kyoto Protocol are conceding that they cannot meet their own targets, according to official figures released last week. While the American economy grew by 3.5% last year, more than twice the European average, its fossil fuel emissions were up by only 0.1% - with no growth in road pollution and a drop in aircraft emissions. Its progress came as several members of the European Union (EU) missed the deadline to submit new targets to reduce their carbon footprint with Germany demanding an opt-out for its power stations and Spain and Portugal preparing to abandon their target.

The US Energy Department said last week that rising fuel prices had a profound effect on its economy, encouraging the shift to more efficient technology and seeing a decline in carbon usage, which many European countries would find enviable. The oil price rises hit the US proportionately harder as its petrol is taxed at a lower rate. Pump prices in the United States jumped 19% to 61cents (35.2p) a litre while UK prices rose by just 3.6% to 89.4p a litre with similar rises across Europe. Road pollution increases were halted across the US and aircraft CO2 emissions declined. American industry reduced its carbon emissions overall by 3.3% - a trend reflecting the economic shift from manufacturing

Since 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was first signed, the US has now made more progress in reducing its per capita fossil fuel emissions than the UK, France, Spain, Finland, Sweden and Japan - even before its economic growth is considered.

The US is frequently criticised for having the highest CO2 emissions in the world - 19.5 tons per person. This is more than twice the level of Britain, at 9.5 tons a head, which itself is sharply ahead of nuclear-driven France at 6.8 tons a head. The Bush administration has said this is because the US generates more wealth than any country in the world, and it has instead said carbon emissions should be judged as a function of economic wealth created, not per capita.

Although President George Bush pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, after a bipartisan vote in Congress, America has made substantially more progress than its European counterparts, which are still signed up to reach its targets. The EU has moved to a new flagship environment policy called the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), and all 25 member states were due by the end of last week to have submitted their carbon reduction targets for the period from 2008 to 2012. Those countries that went public with their plans had low ambitions.

The German government said last week it would be able to reduce its carbon emissions by only 1% by 2012 and has said this will not apply to its new power plants. David Miliband, UK Environment Secretary, acknowledged last week that the government is "off track" in meeting its own target of reducing emissions by 20% under the 1990 baseline set by Kyoto. It has met the 10% target. Spanish carbon emissions were 48% above the 1990 base in 2004, more then treble the 15% limit of its Kyoto target. Portugal, Greece and Ireland - also Kyoto signatories - all have emissions at least 20% higher. Of the 30 industrialised countries which signed Kyoto, 17 were exceeding their targets at the time the last count was taken, in 2004. Japan pledged itself to a 6% drop in its 1990 emissions levels, yet has so far experienced a 7% rise.

The main US increase was registered from air conditioning, reflecting an economic boom in America's hotter states. Arizona's economy grew by an extraordinary 8.7% over the year and Nevada's by 8.2% - both on a par with the growth rates in India.

The Business Online, 2 July 2006


Business groups hit out at the Government for cutting its cap on carbon emissions which they say will push up energy prices and make Britain less competitive. David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, said the Government would issue 3pc fewer carbon credits, which give companies the right to emit carbon dioxide, from 2008 to 2012 under the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme.

Electricity companies are allocated less carbon credits than they need to encourage investment in environmentally friendly power generation and have to make up the shortfall by buying credits from others. Businesses believe electricity companies will be forced to buy even more carbon credits from 2008 with the extra costs passed on to customers. They claim Britain already has some of the highest energy costs in Europe.

CBI deputy director-general John Cridland said: "Such a demanding cut is likely to feed through to higher electricity prices, and with firms already struggling to meet energy costs, the Government is taking a risk with the competitiveness of UK business."

Business groups also fear that other European governments will dole out more credits than Britain which will keep down their electricity costs. Britain was one of the few EU countries last year to have issued fewer carbon credits than industry and electricity suppliers needed. Martin Temple, the director-general of the manufacturers' organisation EEF, said: "These proposals will leave the UK significantly out of step with the rest of Europe and hurt our competitiveness when we can ill afford it."

Mr Miliband claimed the impact on electricity prices would be small. Industrial energy prices would have a one-off rise of 1pc and domestic customers 0.5pc. About 7pc of the carbon credits will be auctioned by the Government from 2008. Currently it distributes carbon credits for free. Mr Miliband said the auction at today's carbon prices would raise £150m a year with much of it earmarked for a new fund to invest in renewable energy. The CBI welcomed the fund but said it was unlikely to soften the impact of the proposed cuts in carbon credits.

However, the environmental group Friends of the Earth said Britain should have been more ambitious in the cap. The Government will fall short of its own target of a 20pc cut by 2010.

The Daily Telegraph, 30 June 2006


Images of swamped homes in the U.S. Northeast deepened suspicions over global warming, giving ammunition to scientists and others who say greenhouse gas-spewing cars and factories are fueling extreme weather. Meteorologists cautioned that no one should read too much into one storm. But the Atlantic Ocean is unusually warm for this time of year, they said, creating excess moisture in the atmosphere that can swiftly build a powerful rainstorm.

Paul Epstein, associate director of Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment, said the Atlantic is warming faster than scientists projected even a decade ago, and he expects such storms as the one seen this week from Virginia to New York to become common. "Scientists and climatologists are looking at one another and we're just stunned because no one, even in the 1990s, projected the magnitude of the storms and degree of warming in the Arctic that we are seeing," he said. Epstein sees a clear pattern: rain has increased in the United States by 7 percent in three decades; heavy rain events of more than 2 inches a day are up 14 percent and storms dumping more than 4 inches a day rose 20 percent.

The floods that forced up to 200,000 evacuees from a historic Pennsylvania coal town on Wednesday followed a year of erratic weather in other parts of the region, including record rainfall in May and June in Massachusetts, a spring-like January in Maine and Vermont's worst autumn foliage in memory. On February 12, Boston dug itself out of its largest snowfall for a single day when 17.5 inches fell -- an abrupt change from the second-warmest January on record in much of New England. Rhode Island's January was the warmest in 56 years. In Maine, lakes froze later, then thawed, faster than many could remember.

Most scientists say greenhouse gases could cause huge climate changes like floods, heat waves, droughts and a rise in sea levels that could swamp low-lying Pacific islands by 2100. But not everyone blames human pollution for drenching the U.S. Northeast. "The climate is warming," said Bernie Rayno, senior meteorologist at "The real question is: 'Are humans causing it or is it occurring because of natural cycles?' We believe that we are in a natural cycle like we were back in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. And that was a time of big climate swings."

Brenda Ekwurzel of the Union of Concerned Scientists sees a gradual shift over the past 50 years toward heavier rain and more violent weather, including the record-shattering hurricane season that produced 28 storms last year. "We do expect to see an increase in the intensity of rainstorms particularly in the Northeast," she said.

At current projections, Epstein said, a typical day in Boston could feel like present-day Richmond, Virginia, in 100 years under one model of the atmosphere and oceans produced by the federally funded New England Regional Assessment of 2001. Epstein, who contributed to that study, said another model that sees Boston resembling Atlanta, Georgia with a 10-degree Fahrenheit (5.6-degree C) rise in temperature over a century could be conservative. "What we are seeing is really the pace and magnitude of these changes are much greater than we had imagined, so in fact the models each year become underestimates," he said.

The Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit trade group, said the Northeast looked "woefully unprepared" to the risk of floods. "We're entering a period of time when we should expect more severe and frequent hurricanes and at the same time we've got this trend toward more and more people moving into coastal areas," said spokeswoman Jeanne Salvatore. "The risk is a lot higher than most people anticipate."

Reuters, 29 June 2006

Australian Greenies: Heads I win, tails you lose

Last summer was the hottest on record. But last month many parts of Australia reported record or near-record cold nights. The average minimum temperature was 1.69 degrees below the long-term average, making it the second-coldest June since 1950.

As people pile on extra clothes they may be sceptical about global warming. But Grant Beard of the Bureau of Meteorology's National Climate Centre said global warming could in fact be driving down overnight winter temperatures. The cold spell, he explained, was being fuelled by the high pressure systems that increasingly dominate southern areas of Australia during autumn and early winter. "High pressure systems are associated with clear nights, low humidity and light winds. These are perfect ingredients for low overnight temperatures," he said.



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

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

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


4 July, 2006

The real news about Mann-made global warming

Last week's release of a National Academies of Science (NAS) report entitled "Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years" was the result of a congressional request to look into the controversy surrounding the now-famous "hockey stick" temperature curve. The media portrayed the findings of the NAS review panel as some sort of new statement about how warm the Earth is at present, and totally missed the real news: that the original claim of Mann et al. of unprecedented warmth in the last 1,000 years -- based mostly upon tree ring data, especially from the southwest U.S. -- was dubious at best.

For the last several years, the hockey stick has been a poster prop for manmade global warming. For instance, it figures prominently in Al Gore's new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth." But the statistical and data analysis methods that Mann et al. used to arrive at their 1,000 year temperature reconstruction were strongly criticized by some. The hockey stick played down the warmth of the "Medieval Warm Period" of 1,000 years ago, as well as the later coolness of the "Little Ice Age."

Also, the uncritical acceptance of the hockey stick for inclusion in the U.N.'s Third Assessment Report on global climate in 2001 gave many scientists the impression that the editors of that report wanted to believe the hockey stick more than they were convinced of its validity.

In their attempt to not publicly scold Mann and his coauthors for questionable data analysis methods, the authors of the new report instead chose to restate the evidence for how warm the Earth has gotten recently. What the media didn't notice, however, is that the 1,000 year figure that was central to the whole hockey stick debate had now been replaced in the report by a figure of 400 years. Since most of the last 400 years was dominated by the "Little Ice Age," the warming during the 20th century should be welcomed by humanity.

The report says that surface temperature reconstructions before this period (about 1600) have "less confidence" and that "uncertainties...increase substantially backward in time..." for any of these proxy estimates of ancient temperatures. One review panel member told me that the statisticians on the panel were amazed when it was revealed that the method underlying the hockey stick had essentially no statistical skill when validated.

This is pretty harsh language for an NAS report written by review panel members, several of whom are equivalent to foxes guarding the hen house. Researchers who have bought into the validity of using proxy measures for ancient climate reconstructions aren't about to throw away the "best" method the paleoclimate research community has, even if it can not be validated with real temperature measurements (the thermometer was not even invented until the 1600's).

One rather amazing characteristic of the hockey stick is the so-called "divergence problem": the strong warming in the late 20th century is not even indicated in the tree ring data that were used to reconstruct the last 1,000 years of supposed temperature variations. Much of the 20th century warming (the blade of the hockey stick) represents real temperature measurements, not tree ring reconstructions, since they don't show the warming. This raises a natural question, which the panel shrugged off: If tree rings do not show the strong warming of the late 20th century, how do we know there wasn't a similar temperature spike 1,000 years ago?

Keeping the door open to the possibility that Mann might be right anyway, the new report says that it is at least "plausible" that we are warmer now than anytime in the last 1,000 years. But this is a much lower level of certainty than has been associated with the hockey stick by the media, bureaucrats, and movie stars (like Al Gore).

But what was the biggest news in the media coverage of the NAS report last week? The biased nature of the media coverage. It almost seems like the media covering the report looked for familiar phrases that fit their global warming paradigm (e.g., "...warmer than the previous 400 years..."), without noting the important conclusions that addressed why the report was written in the first place.

Indeed, much of the press coverage managed to connect the words "warmer than" with a report reference to "2,000 years" to come up with widespread statements (not supported by the report) that the Earth is warmer now than when Jesus Christ walked the Earth. Apparently, sound bites are still preferred over truth.

The NAS review panel report admits that it is difficult to conclude that we are warmer now than 1,000 years ago, but that we are very likely warmer than anytime in the last 400 years. Since what this really means is that we are warmer now than any time during the "Little Ice Age" (and thank goodness for that), one wonders whether we really know anything about past climate reconstructions from tree ring data.


The holy grail in a grain of rice

Who among us hasn't experienced a touch of the trots from stomach flu or food poisoning? For those of us fortunate enough to live in an industrialized country with ready access to health care, diarrhea is little more than a nuisance, most often involving some discomfort and bloating, and a day or two off from school or work; but in the developing world it can be deadly. In sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Latin America and Asia with poor access to health care, clean water, and other resources, diarrhea is the number-two infectious killer of children under the age of five (surpassed only by respiratory diseases), accounting for two million deaths a year.

However, thanks to a simple but ingenious innovation by a California company, those numbers may soon be a relic of the past, like the mortality from smallpox and bubonic plague-if we don't let naysayers and special interests get in the way.

Since the 1960's the standard of care for childhood diarrhea in the developing world has been the World Health Organization's formulation of rehydration solution, a glucose-based, high-sodium liquid that is administered orally. This low-tech product was revolutionary. It saved countless lives and reduced the need for costly (and often unavailable) hospital stays and intravenous rehydration. However, this product did nothing to lessen the severity or duration of the condition, which over time leads to malnutrition, anemia and other chronic health risks. Other approaches to treatments and preventive measures-including changes in public policy, improvement of water treatment and the development of vaccines-have not yielded significant, cost-effective results.

The solution (literally and figuratively) may be an ingenious, affordable innovation from Ventria Bioscience that combines high- and low-tech. It is an improvement on current oral rehydration that could be a veritable Holy Grail: two human proteins produced inexpensively in rice that radically improve the effectiveness of rehydration solutions.

It has been known for decades that breastfed children get sick with diarrhea and other infections less often than those fed with formula. Recent research done in Peru has shown that fortifying oral rehydration solution with two of the primary protective proteins in breast milk, lactoferrin and lysozyme, lessens the duration of diarrhea and reduces the rate of recurrence. Although the availability of an oral rehydration solution that lowers the severity, duration and recurrence of diarrhea would be of modest benefit to those of us in the developed world, it could be a near-miraculous advance in the developing world.

Ventria partnered with researchers at the University of California, Davis, and at a leading children's hospital and a nutrition institute in Lima, Peru, to test the effects of adding human lactoferrin and lysozyme to a rice-based oral rehydration solution (which provides more nutrition and tastes better to kids than glucose-based oral rehydration solution, so they're more likely to drink it).

The researchers found that when lactoferrin and lysozyme are added to rice-based oral rehydration solution, the duration of children's illness is cut from more than five days to three and two-thirds. This improvement is thought to be caused by the antimicrobial effect of lysozyme, which has long been known to be one of the primary protective proteins in breast milk. Moreover, over the twelve-month follow-up period, the children who had received the lactoferrin and lysozyme had less than half the recurrence rate of diarrhea (eight percent versus eighteen percent in the controls). This effect is probably caused by lactoferrin, which promotes repair of the cells of the intestinal mucosa damaged by diarrhea.

These developments represent significant progress in managing diarrhea and keeping it from becoming a chronic, recurring health risk.

What makes this approach feasible is Ventria's invention of a method to produce human lactoferrin and lysozyme in genetically modified rice, a process dubbed "biopharming." This is an inexpensive and ingenious way to synthesize the huge quantities of the proteins that will be necessary. (In effect, the rice plants' inputs are carbon dioxide, water and the sun's energy.)

Sounds like a great success for Ventria and end of story, right? Not by a long shot. Virtually every biotech breakthrough brings the creeps out of the woodwork, and this one is no exception. One radical biotech opponent remonstrated, "The chance this will contaminate traditionally grown crops is great. This is a very risky business."

Rubbish. Rice is self-pollinating, so outcrossing-interbreeding with other rice varieties-is virtually impossible. But even in a worst case, "contaminate traditionally grown crops" with what? With two human proteins normally present in tears, breast milk and saliva? Contamination, indeed!

Equally shameful was the comment of Bob Papanos of the U.S. Rice Producers Association: "We just want [Ventria] to go away," he said. "This little company could cause major problems." The truth is that it is the Luddite rice producers themselves who are causing major problems by their willingness to let the antagonism toward biotechnology by foreign importers of American rice interfere with the development of life-saving new products.

Biopharming has brought us to the verge of a safe, affordable solution to one of the developing world's most pressing health problems. It will be the first of many to come-if only we can keep the troglodytes at bay.


Al Gore and The Da Vinci Code

Al Gore's messianic certainty that our planet will perish without his guidance is a modern example of gnosticism. The Da Vinci Code movie is a purely fictional attack on Christianity employing, as part of the background material, one of the gnostic gospels to provide a patina of ancient, secret wisdom powerful enough to unravel existing civilization. Mr. Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, goes further, making the gnosticism of his book Earth in the Balance the whole content.

Mr. Gore is the loudest spokesman for an elitist group who are dead certain that only they know the truth, a group prepared to impose their doctrine upon mankind regardless of the costs in human life and well-being. In that respect, the Gospel of Al follows the pattern of gnostic eruptions from the earliest days of Christianity, through the 18th century advent of socialism. Mr. Gore unites in a single personality the messianic pretensions of the gnostic mystic and the scientistic (pseudo-scientific) materialism of today's liberal-socialist theoreticians.

Karl Marx's gnostic vision inaccurately predicted the inevitable, revolutionary triumph of socialism. In the Marxian manner, Mr. Gore, a liberal-socialist, preaches a sweeping, gnostic revelation of earth's End Times, a catastrophic destruction of life that will befall civilization, if we don't repent and follow the Gospel of Al. Mark your calendars. The Gospel of Al predicts that the End Times of atheistic materialism will commence in about ten years.

In his book, Mr. Gore writes, "But [writing this book] has also led me to undertake a deeper kind of inquiry, one that is ultimately an investigation of the very nature of our civilization and its relationship to the global environment." He fears that, ".we will not be able to see how dangerously we are threatening to push the earth out of balance." This is the gnostic core: the deep knowledge revealed to Mr. Gore, without which we are doomed. He stands ready to save civilization, if we will only heed his gospel and accept him as our savior (i.e., elect him President).

This is remarkably similar to Auguste Comte's founding The Religion of Humanity in the 1830s. Comte was confident that he uniquely had fathomed the Immutable Law of History that was propelling civilization into the age of scientific socialism. He predicted that all of humanity would abandon ancient traditions and forms of government to follow his positivistic philosophy.

To construct his Immutable Law, which has proved somewhat more flexible than he imagined, Comte took fragments of history and reworked them to fit his hypothesis. Mr. Gore and his greenhouse-gas gang have used the same approach. Evidence that contradicts the greenhouse-gas hypothesis is removed from consideration. For example, Mr. Gore's charts and graphs ignore the Medieval Warm Period, from approximately 1000 AD into the 1300s, and the Little Ice Age, from the late 1300s into the 1800s, both worldwide phenomena. During the Warm Period, today's uninhabitable, ice-covered areas of Greenland were cozy enough for Vikings to establish farming colonies. In the Little Ice Age, glaciers advanced all over the world, in the Swiss Alps crushing whole villages. Yet Mr. Gore belittles these massive phenomena with jokes. His followers dismiss them as fiction.

Mr. Gore is, of course, free to speak his mind. The mischief arises from his call for us to repent our sins by abandoning use of fossil fuels and subscribing to the Kyoto Protocol.

When assessing the reliability of Mr. Gore's all-or-nothing gospel, let's not forget that the same crowd who now champion Mr. Gore's word as revelation of gnostic truth were, thirty years ago, equally firmly convinced that the earth faced an imminent disaster from a new ice age. In its April 28, 1975, edition, Newsweek featured an article titled "The Cooling World." Let's also not forget that these same liberal-socialists in the 1980s were firmly convinced that President Reagan was about to provoke the Soviet Union into World War III by re-arming the United States and branding the USSR an evil empire.

Becoming followers of the Gospel of Al will entail more than just piously mouthed sentiments. There will be a real price to pay. Many studies have documented the enormous economic costs from compliance with the Kyoto standards of CO2 emissions control. All have demonstrated that the actual costs in lost jobs and reduced standards of living will far outweigh any theoretical benefits. In an article posted on the Slate website, New Republic editor Gregg Easterbrook wrote:

This raises the troubling fault of An Inconvenient Truth: its carelessness about moral argument. Gore says accumulation of greenhouse gases "is a moral issue, it is deeply unethical." Wouldn't deprivation also be unethical? Some fossil fuel use is maddening waste; most has raised living standards. The era of fossil energy must now give way to an era of clean energy. But the last century's headlong consumption of oil, coal, and gas has raised living standards throughout the world; driven malnourishment to an all-time low, according to the latest U.N. estimates; doubled global life expectancy; pushed most rates of disease into decline; and made possible Gore's airline seat and MacBook, which he doesn't seem to find unethical.

A less respectful review of the movie can be found in Wesley Pruden's column in the Washington Times.



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

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

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


3 July, 2006


Imagine a tropical South Pacific island about 32 km around and with a central volcanic peak 650 metres high. The slopes of the island taper down to a narrow band of agricultural terraces and coastal flats. Just offshore lie idyllic, clear-water, blue lagoons bounded by fringing coral reefs. All this, and the warm, equable climate of 18-23 degrees annually, is enjoyed by a local population of about 10,000 people.

An aircraft arrives, bearing a party of mostly young, well educated and articulate westerners. They bear sophisticated laptop computers and data projectors, with which they display beautifully crafted photographs and other graphical images that all reinforce one overwhelming message-global warming is here and it is going to wreck your environment and society unless you take steps to prevent it.

You must stop driving cars-not that there are many of those on our island, bicycles, without helmets, being a naturally preferred form of personal transport-and you must mend many other of your ways. Most importantly, seeing as you get one vote (like the USA) at the United Nations, your small nation must align its political support with those other angelic organisations and countries that are fighting to stop the scourge of global warming.

Leading speakers with the visiting group will be female, for the planners of this and similar operations have long since learned that marketing environmentalism using female presenters conveys all sorts of desirable subliminal messages, to do with genuineness, gentleness and looking after Mother Earth.

Few of our islanders have advanced degrees or training, and even fewer have them in science. They are helpless in front of the onslaught of facts and cleverly, but oh so nicely, presented opinion. There are few voices to balance or moderate the propaganda onslaught. Lacking the science facts which show that-outside of computer models-hypothetical human-caused global warming is a contrived problem, our islanders are easily convinced. Their guilt first having been awakened, it is then reinforced, and finally remorselessly jerked. When the aircraft takes the westerners away again, the guilt-as intended-will long remain. And so will the cargo cult expectations of increasing temperatures and rising sea-levels.

Now, unlike the messages of the zealous pro-global warmers, I am not making any of this up. Last week, between May 19th and May 25th, a South Pacific Climate Change team from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) conducted a week-long program of climate-change related activities in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. The WWF advised that this was the first of a series of similar activities which will be carried out under a three-year project partnership between the WWF, the National Environment Service and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) under the sponsorship of the European Union. The overall aim of the project is "to support the Cook Islands in implementing its national commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change."

Much of the money that is used to fund these NGO propaganda circuses is donated by well meaning school pupils and other young people, worldwide. "Pernicious" is not a strong enough word to describe the misuse of these funds in support of fundamentalist environmental evangelism.

In the early 19th century, Western nations sent missionaries out into newly discovered Polynesia. Their intentions were undoubtedly benign, but the result was most often a complete undermining of local native culture. Today, Western nations have spawned, and continue to support with tax relief and direct financial contributions, eco-evangelism. As for their former missionary counterparts, organisations like the WWF would like to think that God is on their side. Whether she is or not, many of the activities in which environmental NGOs now engage have become dangerously destabilising of both rational environmental protection and of sensible global governance.

Rarotonga and other South Pacific islands lie within the Pacific political realm of influence of Australia and New Zealand. For the European Union, aided by NGOs, to still be conducting cargo cult exercises in this region in the 21st century is simply outrageous. And, being Australian, I naturally think that the government should do something about it. Perhaps they could send a gunboat on any future such occasions; after all, New Zealand sent one to French Polynesia in protest about nuclear tests that were being undertaken there. Rather than carrying ammunition, the ship could be loaded with a cargo of leaflets, computer slide shows and the type of rationalist scientists who are committed to delivering a balanced account of our planet's always-changing climate.


A complete list of things caused by global warming

(From Prof. Brignell. See original for links)

Air pressure changes, anxiety, aggressive polar bears, algal blooms, Asthma, avalanches, billions of deaths, blackbirds stop singing, blizzards, blue mussels return, budget increases, building season extension, bushfires, business opportunities, business risks, cannibalistic polar bears, Cholera, civil unrest, cloud increase, cloud stripping, CO2 emissions from plants, conferences, coral bleaching, coral reefs grow, cold spells, crumbling roads, buildings and sewage systems, damages equivalent to $200 billion, declining fish stocks, Dengue hemorrhagic fever, desert advance, desert life threatened, desert retreat, destruction of the environment, disappearance of coastal cities, Dolomites collapse, drought, drowning polar bears, dust bowl in the corn belt, early spring, earlier pollen season, earthquakes, Earth light dimming, Earth slowing down, Earth spinning out of control, Earth wobbling, El Nio intensification, erosion, emerging infections, encephalitis,, Everest shrinking, evolution accelerating, expansion of university climate groups, extinctions (ladybirds, pandas, polar bears, gorillas, whales, frogs, toads, turtles, orang-utan, elephants, tigers, plants, salmon, trout, wild flowers, woodlice, penguins, a million species, half of all animal and plant species), experts muzzled, extreme changes to California, famine, farmers go under, figurehead sacked, fish catches drop, five million illnesses, floods, Florida economic decline, food poisoning, footpath erosion, forest decline, forest expansion, frosts, fungi invasion, Garden of Eden wilts, glacial retreat, glacial growth, global cooling, glowing clouds, Gore omnipresence, Great Lakes drop, greening of the North, Gulf Stream failure, Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, harvest increase, harvest shrinkage, hay fever epidemic, heat waves, hibernation ends too soon, hibernation ends too late, human fertility reduced, human health improvement, hurricanes, hydropower problems, hyperthermia deaths, ice sheet growth, ice sheet shrinkage, inclement weather, Inuit displacement, insurance premium rises, invasion of midges, islands sinking, itchier poison ivy, jellyfish explosion, krill decline, landslides, landslides of ice at 140 mph, lawsuits increase, lawyers' income increased (surprise surprise!), Nile delta damaged, Malaria, malnutrition, Maple syrup shortage, marine diseases, marine food chain decimated, Melanoma, methane burps, melting permafrost, migration, microbes to decompose soil carbon more rapidly, more bad air days, more research needed, mudslides, next ice age, no more French wine, nuclear plants bloom, ocean acidification, outdoor hockey threatened, ozone loss, ozone repair slowed, ozone rise, pests increase, plankton blooms, plankton loss, railroad tracks deformed, rainfall increase, rainfall reduction, refugees, release of ancient frozen viruses, resorts disappear, rift on Capitol Hill, rivers raised, rivers dry up, rocky peaks crack apart, salinity reduction, Salmonella, sea level rise, sex change, ski resorts threatened, smog, snowfall increase, snowfall reduction, societal collapse, squid population explosion, tectonic plate movement, tides rise, tree foliage increase (UK), tree growth slowed, trees less colourful, trees more colourful, tropics expansion, tsunamis, Venice flooded, volcanic eruptions, wars over water, water bills double, water supply unreliability, water scarcity (20% of increase), West Nile fever, whales move north, wheat yields crushed in Australia, white Christmas dream ends, wildfires, wind shift, winters on Britain colder, wolves eat more moose, wolves eat less, workers laid off, World bankruptcy, Yellow fever.


June ended in scorching heat over much of Britain yesterday, bringing good news for sellers of ice-cream, barbecues and sunscreen but causing more ballgirls at Wimbledon to wilt in the sun. Last month was on course to have been the hottest June for 30 years, and perhaps the fourth hottest in a century. It continued the trend of extreme weather in 2006, which saw a freezing March and sodden May. William Hill drastically cut its odds on June having the hottest day of the year after a flurry of late betting.

Provisional statistics suggest that they may have been wise to do so. London saw the hottest June day for 61 years, as temperatures reached 31.4C (88.5F) at Heathrow on June 12. The average temperature for Central England for the month could be over 16.1C (61F), including both day and night. This beats even 2003, when heatwaves are reckoned to have killed thousands.

The previous highest average temperature for June was in 1976, when a stifling heatwave hit 32C (90F) or more in southern England for 15 consecutive days. This was a truly phenomenal event - no heatwave before or since has reached such heights for more than five successive days.

The parallels with 1976 do not stop there. Both that year and 2006 have seen extraordinarily long droughts in parts of southern England, lasting well over 12 months. In addition, the June of '76 was a mixed bag of weather, with bouts of cooler and wetter weather breaking up the hot spells - much the same as this year, which featured a powerful Atlantic gale that rolled in last week (around June 20-21) and gave Wimbledon its soggy start. The reason for the drought, and later the heat, was stubborn blocks of high pressure that kept our more usual Atlantic weather at bay. So instead of the expected rain and wind, the Great Drought saw soaring temperatures, wildfires and water rationing. Dire warnings from water companies have brought suggestions that this year could see a similar scenario.

But cool off - we may not be quite so hot and bothered for long. Simply assuming that we are in for a repeat of 1976 - standpipes and all - would be a mistake. Trying to make a long-range forecasts based on previous years is a minefield for the unwary, and this year the outlook is very difficult to predict.

More here


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

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

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


2 July, 2006


Time magazine has named MIT's Kerry Emanuel one of the world's 100 most influential people. Congrats to him, I certainly think he is brilliant and the honor is well deserved. However, I can't imagine that Kerry is too happy with the unfortunate blurb Time put together to describe him.

It's easy to argue about the hypothetical causes and effects of global warming. It's a lot harder for any serious disagreement to continue when extreme weather is demolishing a major American city. The U.S. experienced just such a moment of clarity last year when Hurricane Katrina laid waste to New Orleans, awakening all of us to the true cost of climate change. It was Kerry Emanuel, an atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who helped us make the connection.

Perhaps before writing that bit of nonsense Time might have visited Kerry's homepage and considered this statement he has posted:

Q: I gather from this last discussion that it would be absurd to attribute the Katrina disaster to global warming?

A: Yes, it would be absurd.



To begin with, it is useful to recall perhaps the principal way science distinguishes itself from other discourses: the reliance on discovery of facts through observation, and validation of theory through test and falsification - in short, the scientific method. This procedure evolved in Western Europe in contrast to the medieval mechanism for establishing truth, which was reference to authority, in the form of the Church Fathers, Aristotle, or other accepted texts. The seismic shift in worldview that a change from authority to observation as source of truth induces is difficult to appreciate in hindsight, but there is little question that it was a seminal step in the rise of the West and the creation of modernity.

But it is precisely the strength of this core characteristic of the scientific discourse that creates the potential for nightmare science. The nightmare arises in this way. We have, as scientists, established the validity of science through adoption of a process that institutionalizes observation, and thus grants us privileged access to truth, at least within the domains of physical reality. In doing so, we have destroyed authority as the source of privileged knowledge -- and, concomitantly, assumed much of the power that used to reside in the old elite (e.g., the Church).

But now suppose that scientists become increasingly concerned with certain environmental phenomenon -- say, loss of biodiversity, or climate change. They thus not only report the results of the practice of the scientific method, but, in part doubting the ability of the public to recognize the potential severity of the issues as scientists see them, become active as scientists in crafting and demanding particular responses, such as the Kyoto Treaty. These responses, notably, extend significantly beyond the purely environmental domain, into policies involving economic development, technology deployment, quality of life in many countries, and the like.

In short, the elite that has been created by practice of the scientific method uses the concomitant power not just to express the results of particular research initiatives, but to create, support, and implement policy responses affecting many non-scientific communities and intellectual domains in myriad ways. In doing so, they are not exercising expertise in these non-scientific domains, but rather transforming their privilege in the scientific domains into authority in non-scientific domains. Science is, in other words, segueing back into a structure where once again authority, not observation, is the basis of the exercise of power and establishment of truth by the elite. But the authority in this new model is not derived from sacred texts; rather it is derived from legitimate practice of scientific method in the scientific domain, extended into non-scientific domains. Note that this does not imply that scientists cannot, or should not, as individuals participate in public debate; only that if they do so cloaked in the privilege that the scientific discourse gives them they raise from the dead the specter of authority as truth.

Why is this nightmare science? Precisely because it raises an internal contradiction with which science cannot cope. In an age defined by the scientific worldview, which is the source of the primacy of the scientific discourse, science cannot demand privilege outside its domain based not on method, but on authority, for in doing so it undermines the zeitgeist that gives it validity. When demanding the Kyoto Treaty as scientists, it is themselves, not their opponents, that they attack.

More here


The contemporary environmentalist movement faces a stark choice: change tactics or fade into irrelevance. Over the past decade, environmentalists have achieved few political victories and utterly failed to influence the general public. As indicated by a recent MIT study, the public knows little about environmental problems, and cares less. Out of 21 national and international issues, Americans ranked environmental problems 13th, well below terrorism, taxes, crime, and drugs.

Alarmism-the environmental movement's basic strategy-has led to this dead end. Since Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," the movement has been dominated by doomsday scenarios. Even on the first Earth Day in 1970, biologist George Wald predicted that "civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken" while the New York Times warned that "man must stop pollution and conserve his save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction." Fortunately, such apocalyptic forecasts have repeatedly proven to be wrong.

Take biologist Paul Ehrlich's popular Malthusian broadside, "The Population Bomb." Farsighted Ehrlich predicted that a "population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make," causing world-wide famine and the death of "hundreds of millions of people" annually from starvation. Oops-in the subsequent 35 years, increased agricultural productivity exceeded population growth and the total amount of cultivated land barely increased.

Ehrlich is hardly alone; the environmental movement has spawned a remarkable number of would-be Cassandras. Between 1970 and 2006, global cooling predictions mysteriously morphed into global warming fears. Concerns about rampant Dodo-ism proved baseless: the rate of animal extinction in the U.S. has been declining since the 1930s, and only seven species have gone extinct since 1973. And rather than running out of resources, the world has experienced a commodity glut, with the prices of most metals and minerals dropping by 30 to 50 percent. The litany of failed apocalypses goes on.

Not that this history of crying wolf has chastened contemporary environmentalists. Activists and researchers still issue dire warnings with mind-numbing regularity. Just three weeks ago, a panic-stricken Time magazine story on global warming shouted, "Be Worried, Be Very Worried." Harping on worst-case scenarios like a 220-foot rise in the ocean's water level, the article more closely resembled "The Day After Tomorrow" than a serious report.

Although such scare mongering persists, it has reached the point of diminishing returns. Knowing the movement's track record of false alarms, the American public dismiss dire environmental warnings out of hand. Moreover, these alarming reports attract a disproportionate amount of media attention, discrediting the environmentalist movement twice over: First when the sensational predictions drown out more plausible reports, then again when the highly-publicized disaster fails to occur.

Contrary to popular opinion, the U.S. environment is getting healthier. The U.S. population has more than doubled since 1970, yet forest coverage has increased. Measurements of major air pollutants-sulfur, suspended particulates, and carbon monoxide-have registered declines of 15 to 75 percent. Likewise, the number of healthy rivers and lakes has roughly doubled since the first Earth Day, and Lake Erie, declared "dead" in the 1970s, now supports a healthy fishing industry. There are exceptions to this positive trend, but the overall direction is unmistakable: The U.S. natural environment is improving.

Of course, environmentalists claim credit for this trend. Alarmists can't lose: either doomsday comes true, or their warnings averted disaster. Certainly, part of the positive trend is due to activism and government regulations, but much of the change is a result of increased technological efficiency as well as longstanding trends that predate the rise of environmentalism.

Although the impact of the movement's past achievements is uncertain, its future success clearly depends on a fundamental reevaluation of long-unquestioned theories and policies. Doomsday warnings no longer shock the public into action; instead, environmentalists need to develop moderate arguments that don't depend on the 'stick' of calamity. This means abandoning Soviet-style "command-and-control" regulation, epitomized by the Kyoto Treaty, and exploring ideas, like the use of DDT, that are currently considered heretical.

Until environmentalists cease depending on nightmare scenarios, they will fail to influence the public at large. Let the next generation of environmentalists begin to reestablish the movement's credibility by exploring currently heretical ideas and producing moderate, nuanced reports, even if they do not make for good press.

More here

The future of nuclear energy in Australia

On June 6, the Prime Minister announced the establishment of a task force to conduct a comprehensive review into the future of the nuclear industry in Australia, covering uranium mining, uranium enrichment and the future of nuclear power. In light of soaring prices of oil, coal and uranium oxide - the main sources of energy - such an inquiry is long overdue.

As a result of a veto imposed by environmentalists and Aboriginal activists on Labor governments, the expansion of Australia's uranium industry has been restricted since the 1970s, and most new uranium mining projects have been stopped in their tracks.

The other matters to be examined by the nuclear energy inquiry are more complex, and refer to matters of less immediacy, even if in the long-term they are of considerable importance - including uranium enrichment and reprocessing, and the competitiveness of nuclear power reactors. However, as neither Australia's Government nor the Opposition has shown much interest in the viability of Australian manufacturing industry, preferring the easy alternative of buying cheaper imports from overseas, it is hard to believe that any recommendation of the inquiry in these areas will be taken seriously.

Despite the restrictions on production, Australia is currently the world's second largest producer of uranium oxide behind Canada. Australia's uranium is sold strictly for electrical power generation only, and safeguards are in place to ensure this. Australia currently supplies uranium oxide to the United States (where nuclear power provides 20 per cent of the country's electricity), Japan (30 per cent), South Korea (40 per cent), France (77 per cent), UK (20 per cent), Sweden (50 per cent), and Germany (30 per cent).

In announcing the inquiry, Mr Howard noted that "recent developments in global energy markets have renewed international interest in nuclear energy as a technology that can help meet growing demand for electricity without the fuel and environmental costs associated with oil and gas. This also comes at a time when energy prices and energy security are key considerations for future economic growth in a lower emissions future". The price of uranium oxide has increased six-fold since 2001.

Mr Howard also noted that a growing number of environmentalists now recognise that "nuclear energy has several other advantages over fossil-fuel electricity generation, including significant lower levels of air pollution and greenhouse emissions".

Australia has some 40 per cent of the world's known reserves of uranium ore, but the development of uranium mines in Australia has been severely restricted as it requires the approval of both state and federal governments: the states control mining, but the Federal Government controls export approvals.

There are currently three uranium mines operating in Australia: the Ranger mine in Arnhem Land (in the Northern Territory), the Roxby Downs copper-gold-uranium mine in South Australia, and the small Beverley mine in outback South Australia. These are low-cost mines, and have been expanded to meet growing demand for uranium oxide, a low-value raw material used for the production of enriched uranium which fuels the world nuclear power stations.

However, a string of uranium deposits around the country have been blackballed by state and territory government vetoes. These include the rich Jabiluka and Koongara deposits in the Northern Territory; the Honeymoon and Billeroo West deposits in South Australia; the large Kintyre, Yeelirrie and Mulgra Rock deposits in Western Australia; and the Westmoreland, Valhalla and Ben Lomond deposits in Queensland. As things stand at the moment, state Labor Governments have prevented the establishment of any new uranium mines. The new federal inquiry will have to find ways to deal with these, in the national interest. At the moment, a coalition of environmentalists associated with the Australian Conservation Foundation and Aboriginal activist groups have a stranglehold on public policy.

In light of the fact that uranium has been safely mined for decades in Australia, and that Aboriginal Australians have been beneficiaries of mining operations, the current veto on new mines is intolerable. Until this is changed, there will be little action on the ground. The line taken by the federal Opposition leader, Kim Beazley - that the Australian Government should be concentrating on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power - is both bizarre and irrelevant given that Australia's uranium is being supplied to electricity utilities in the northern hemisphere. One can only conclude that Mr Beazley is happy that Labor's policy is being determined by vociferous minority groups on the fringes of the political process.



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

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

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


1 July, 2006


The opening assumptions are wrong: Greater warmth PROMOTES plant growth (as anybody who has visited the tropics knows) and warmer seas should produce MORE evaporation/rain (and hence more soil moisture). And the innovative aspect of the article -- causing an unenclosed space to preserve an unusually high concentration of CO2 -- sounds a very approximate and hard-to-control procedure, given the speed of gaseous diffusion etc. Talk about false premises! Editorial summary given below followed by the journal abstract. The article is of course from the now sadly misnamed "Science" magazine. The findings can only have been arrived at via one of those famous "models", which will give you any result you want -- dependant only on the assumptions plugged in. And you can be assured that the assumptions were very "Green"

Plant Productivity Benefits of High Carbon Dioxide Busted

Although rising CO2 levels may reduce global crop yields through the effects of higher temperatures and decreased soil moisture, arguments have been made that direct fertilization effects will more than offset these losses. Long et al. (p. 1918; see the Perspective by Schimel) present a critical analysis of data on which the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change base their projections that elevated CO2 will have a fertilizing effect. The original estimates came from experiments conducted in the 1980s in greenhouses and sheltered enclosures. More sobering figures are derived from open-field studies in which increased CO2 levels enhanced crop yields ~50% less than in enclosure studies.

Food for Thought: Lower-Than-Expected Crop Yield Stimulation with Rising CO2 Concentrations

Stephen P. Long et al.

Model projections suggest that although increased temperature and decreased soil moisture will act to reduce global crop yields by 2050, the direct fertilization effect of rising carbon dioxide concentration ([CO2]) will offset these losses. The CO2 fertilization factors used in models to project future yields were derived from enclosure studies conducted approximately 20 years ago. Free-air concentration enrichment (FACE) technology has now facilitated large-scale trials of the major grain crops at elevated [CO2] under fully open-air field conditions. In those trials, elevated [CO2] enhanced yield by 50% less than in enclosure studies. This casts serious doubt on projections that rising [CO2] will fully offset losses due to climate change.


I have just received the email below (from but have not had time to follow it up

My name is Maria at Crew Creative. We are currently working on Discovery Channel's new special GLOBAL WARMING - Hosted by award-winning journalist Tom Brokaw and produced by the global alliance of Discovery Channel, the BBC and NBC News Productions, the two-hour special presents the facts and leaves it up to the viewers to determine their own truth about global warming.

We would love to send you a screener of the show, so you can decide how you feel about this show. Please let me know if you'd be willing to write a review on your site. The special premieres Sunday, July 16, 9-11 PM.

At the link below, you'll find video, photos, the program press release and more.

You are more than welcome to and are highly encouraged to utilize any of the assets on the page, but please do not link directly to our server.


Even Germany cannot afford the Kyoto nonsense so they resort to underhand methods to break their foolish promises

Germany proposes to tighten its greenhouse gas emissions limit in the second round of the EU's carbon market, but will allow new coal plants to opt out, the environment minister said on Wednesday. The plan cuts the number of free pollution permits handed to heavy industry by nearly 6 percent, Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel told a news conference in Berlin. But the limits do not apply to new power plants, including heavily polluting coal plants, for 14 years from 2008, the start of the new 2008-12 phase. This potentially undermines the emissions limits set under the plan, and could allow Germany to avoid replacing its nuclear power plants. Nuclear is carbon-free but faces some public opposition.

All EU states must submit their phase 2 plans to the European Commission by June 30, and the European Commission can reject plans if it deems these too soft on pollution. The new German carbon dioxide (CO2) quota is 482 million tonnes per year, down from 499 million tonnes in the first phase of the trading scheme, 2005-07, and includes 12 million tonnes to be handed out to new power plants.

German CO2 emissions by heavy industry in 2005 were 474 million tonnes, and the new plan proposes to include an additional 11 million tonnes emissions, from so-called chemical cracker units, implying 485 million tonnes emissions which the new quota will cut by 3 million tonnes.

The plan cuts the quota disproportionately more for utilities, to combat windfall profits in 2005. But the overall quota is also diluted by allowing German firms to buy up to 60 million tonnes a year of CO2 pollution permits from abroad through a trading tool allowed under the Kyoto Protocol.

The trading scheme accounts for some 55 percent of all German CO2 emissions. Transport and households are not included in the scheme but are set reduction targets of their own under national climate measures.

The World Wildlife Fund said the plan was too weak and suggested the EU Commission reject it. "In our assessment, the plan is a climate political sell-out and kowtows to the interests of the big energy companies," it said in a statement. The WWF also estimated that the energy companies would still be able to make windfall profits of up to 8 billion euros (US$10.06 billion) a year.

Reuters, 29 June 2006


(An editorial in "The Australian" newspaper below)

When federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran declared this week that wind farms are a "complete fraud" that "only exist on taxpayer subsidies", he injected the first dose of sanity seen in the renewable energy debate for a long time. Wind power fulfils just 2 per cent of the country's electricity needs, is unreliable even on the gustiest of days and is emblematic of everything wrong with the quest for so-called sustainability. Greens love wind farms for symbolic reasons, as does federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell - so long as no turbines are sited in a marginal Liberal seat within cooee of a protected parrot. But, so far, the only ones who do well off wind farms are the companies that own them - and not even they dispute their poor economics. Wind farmers get huge subsidies and a guaranteed market share and return.

It is not just on wind farms where politics and feelings are allowed to trump economic reality. Senator Campbell and his ilk like to be seen on the "right" side of the environment. Meanwhile, so-called progressives try to shut down debate over global warming even though the science is far from settled. When The Philippines' Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, it threw out vast amounts of ozone-depleting greenhouse gases. But the particles it cast skyward also lowered temperatures. Scaremongering polemics such as The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery (who is a paleontologist, not a climatologist, by training) have been shown to be riddled with errors. The Kyoto Protocol is far too flawed an instrument to reduce pollution. Australia needs to apply cost-benefit analyses to environmental issues, not sentiment or politics.

Seen in this light, Australia's environmental policy is all over the shop. It is not just wind power that fails the cost-benefit test. Plastic shopping bags are set to be phased out by 2008 at a cost of $840 million simply because inner-city voters don't like them, despite Productivity Commission data showing the bags to be only a minor threat. Water policy is driven by Greens, farmers and politicians, each with an interest in making city-dwellers feel guilty over every flush. Yet capital city residents consume less than 10 per cent of Australia's water; the real waste occurs in agriculture, particularly in the cultivation of cotton and rice. In Queensland, the Greens are doing their best to hold up a dam that will supply water for the fastest-growing region of the country. Recycling plants dump toxic chemicals and salt into rivers - including the Murray. Nor do "sustainable" policies create sustainable jobs. Victoria spends between $599,565 and $999,782 in subsidies per job, per year, in the renewable energy sector. And creating jobs sorting glass is hardly the stuff of a knowledge nation. Even in a world where carbon use is constrained, technologies such as clean coal and geosequestration make more sense for coal-rich Australia than wind power (or nuclear, for that matter). Feelgood environmentalism may win votes. But not only does it fail to pay the bills - it also doesn't save the planet.



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

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

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