Tracking the politics of fear....  

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30 June 2006


The German government is about to trigger a new crisis in Europe's flagship climate policy, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). BBC News understands the German cabinet is likely to agree a deal that will reduce carbon emissions from industry by only 0.6% between 2004 and 2012. The decision is likely to influence other EU countries, including the UK, which still have to set their own caps.

Environmental groups describe the target as "pathetic and shameful". "These figures are unbelievably unambitious," said Regina Gunther from WWF Germany. "It is shameful that our environment minister has agreed to this." Climate analysts now fear a meltdown of EU climate leadership. "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," said Professor Michael Grubb of the UK Carbon Trust, set up by the British government to help create a low-carbon economy. "I really believed that Europe would lead the way through the EU ETS but now I wonder whether this will ever happen."

The news will offer comfort to US climate sceptics who predicted that Europe would talk big on climate change but fail to impose large carbon cuts on its own industries.

The decision represents a major success for the German business lobby. Last year, German industries were so successful in lobbying that their government handed them 21 million tones of carbon permits more than they actually needed. This pushed down the value of carbon in the EU ETS carbon market and made emissions savings less attractive to businesses across the EU. The carbon price bounced back when carbon traders found that some nations such as the UK had forced unexpectedly large CO2 cuts on their power sectors.

A German environment ministry spokesman, Michael Schroeren, argued that his nation's carbon targets up to 2012 were stricter than they appeared. He said last year's carbon emissions total of 474 million tonnes from big industry might have been anomalously low, so Germany had to allow for that. Mr Schroeren said Germany was still committed to its Kyoto targets, but would achieve carbon cuts through other measures. One plan is to cut three million tonnes of carbon by training motorists to drive more economically.

The normally temperate Professor Grubb poured scorn on the suggestion of an anomaly. "The German position is ridiculous - their emissions had been coming down over a long period of time. Last year's figures are definitely not a blip and this agreement is certainly nothing to do with protecting the climate."

Environmentalists are also angry that the German government has decided to hand companies all their emissions permits free of charge. The EU encourages member states to auction up to 10% of permits in order to create a more genuine market in which firms have to reveal their true intentions. But this has been rejected. The UK says it will auction between 2% and 10% of permits. The UK will cut CO2 between three and eight million tonnes.

At least the Germans will be announcing their EU ETS plans on deadline on Friday. Most other EU nations do not have their plans ready. The UK government is waiting on the German decision because in the last phase of the EU ETS, British firms complained that the Germans had been given too many carbon permits, conferring a competitive advantage. The Swedish government has agreed a lax cap on CO2 and is expected to stick to that unless Germany and the UK impose much stricter caps. This now looks most unlikely, and will badly undercut the EU's position in international negotiations on climate.

The German news comes as the European Environment Agency released figures showing that the EU is badly under-achieving on its Kyoto targets. EU emissions rose by 0.4% in 2004 relative to the previous year. UK emissions rose 0.2 %. In 2004, the combined EU-15 emissions were only 0.9% below 1990. Under the Kyoto Protocol, Germany has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 21% from 1990 levels by the period 2008-2012.

BBC News, 27 June 2006


Dr. Harlan L. Watson is Senior Climate Negotiator and Special Representative at the U.S. Department of State

Washington cannot rule out joining any successor to the UN's Kyoto Protocol for curbing global warming beyond 2012 but such a move would face big legal hurdles, the US chief climate negotiator said on Monday. President George W. Bush withdrew the United States from Kyoto in 2001, saying its caps on greenhouse gases would cost jobs and that poor nations were wrongly excluded until 2012.

"I never rule anything out," Harlan Watson told Reuters during a climate conference at Chatham House, London, when asked if Washington might re-join the 163-nation pact beyond 2012. He noted that many US Democrats and some Republicans favour a Kyoto-style system to cap emissions. Republican "Senator (John) McCain and other potential (presidential) candidates have spoken very favourably for a cap and trade system," he said. Bush will step down in January 2009. "If you're looking beyond 2012 it's all speculation," Watson added. "I can't speak for what the next administration might do."

Kyoto obliges 35 industrial nations to cut emissions of carbon dioxide by an overall 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. Negotiators from Kyoto nations are discussing new, tougher targets beyond 2012. Watson said there was a "mechanical problem" for joining a second phase after dropping out of the first. "It would require substantial changes in the current rules of the game." Many countries, including developing nations such as China and Brazil, would be reluctant to let an industrial nation join without first meeting its original, albeit dropped, targets. "It doesn't mean something might not work out," Watson said.

Committing to legally binding emissions targets, as likely under Kyoto, would require changes to laws in the United States. "A quantified (emissions) cap would mean changing (US) environmental law, addressing our Clean Air Act. It took nearly 14 years to update our energy legislation. There needs to be a majority in the US Senate and you need a majority in both sides of the Congress."

Watson said he saw no chance that even a pro-Kyoto US president would seek to join the treaty before 2012. Former President Bill Clinton never submitted Kyoto for ratification in the Senate, knowing it would be defeated.

After abandoning Kyoto, Bush has set a goal of cutting the amount of carbon produced per dollar of US gross domestic product by 18 percent in the decade to 2012. That goal will still allow carbon emissions to rise overall.

US emissions grew by 1.7 percent in 2004 because of economic growth and a rising population.

"I wouldn't expect such a dramatic increase in 2005, although I'm not sure if it will actually drop," Watson said. High fuel prices may have discouraged emissions growth in 2005.

Reuters, 27 June 2006


Two years ago, a Danish environmentalist called Bjorn Lomborg had an idea. We all want to make the world a better place but, given finite resources, we should look for the most cost-effective ways of doing so. He persuaded a bunch of economists, including three Nobel laureates, to draw up a list of priorities. They found that efforts to fight malnutrition and disease would save many lives at modest expense, whereas fighting global warming would cost a colossal amount and yield distant and uncertain rewards.

That conclusion upset a lot of environmentalists. This week, another man who upsets a lot of people embraced it. John Bolton, America's ambassador to the United Nations, said that Mr Lomborg's "Copenhagen Consensus" (see articles) provided a useful way for the world body to get its priorities straight. Too often at the UN, said Mr Bolton, "everything is a priority". The secretary-general is charged with carrying out 9,000 mandates, he said, and when you have 9,000 priorities you have none.

So, over the weekend, Mr Bolton sat down with UN diplomats from seven other countries, including China and India but no Europeans, to rank 40 ways of tackling ten global crises. The problems addressed were climate change, communicable diseases, war, education, financial instability, governance, malnutrition, migration, clean water and trade barriers.

Given a notional $50 billion, how would the ambassadors spend it to make the world a better place? Their conclusions were strikingly similar to the Copenhagen Consensus. After hearing presentations from experts on each problem, they drew up a list of priorities. The top four were basic health care, better water and sanitation, more schools and better nutrition for children. Averting climate change came last.

The ambassadors thought it wiser to spend money on things they knew would work. Promoting breast-feeding, for example, costs very little and is proven to save lives. It also helps infants grow up stronger and more intelligent, which means they will earn more as adults. Vitamin A supplements cost as little as $1, save lives and stop people from going blind. And so on.

For climate change, the trouble is that though few dispute that it is occurring, no one knows how severe it will be or what damage it will cause. And the proposed solutions are staggeringly expensive. Mr Lomborg reckons that the benefits of implementing the Kyoto protocol would probably outweigh the costs, but not until 2100. This calculation will not please Al Gore. Nipped at the post by George Bush in 2000, Mr Gore calls global warming an "onrushing catastrophe" and argues vigorously that curbing it is the most urgent moral challenge facing mankind.

Mr Lomborg demurs. "We need to realise that there are many inconvenient truths," he says. But whether he and Mr Bolton can persuade the UN of this remains to be seen. Mark Malloch Brown, the UN's deputy secretary-general, said on June 6th that: "there is currently a perception among many otherwise quite moderate countries that anything the US supports must have a secret agenda...and therefore, put crudely, should be opposed without any real discussion of whether [it makes] sense or not."

The Economist, 22 June 2006

For more on the work and initiatives by Bjorn Lomborg, see

Wind farm claims 'hot air'

Wind farms don't live up to the hype that they're an environmental saviour, [Australian] federal agriculture minister Peter McGauran says. Mr McGauran's first voiced his concerns in a speech to dairy farmers earlier this week, contrasting with federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell's position in support of wind energy. "Wind farms don't live up to the hype that they're the environmental saviour and a serious alternate energy source," Mr McGauran told ABC radio today.

However, Renewable Energy Generators of Australia chief Susan Jeans said Mr McGauran's comments were out of line. "I suspect it's best that we let the environment minister comment on matters relating to renewable energy," Ms Jeans told ABC radio.

Mr McGauran said the giant propellers devalued land. "The deleterious affect they can have on their neighbours is so serious it means that they should not be allowed to get away with the exaggerated claim," he said. "Their claims are fraudulent in regard to the environmental and energy terms." " ... these wind farms are not producing any electricity of any measurable amount and because they are having such an affect on rural communities they should only be permitted where the community is ... accepting of 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.


29 June 2006


The June 27, 2006 Associated Press (AP) article titled "Scientists OK Gore's Movie for Accuracy" by Seth Borenstein raises some serious questions about AP's bias and methodology. AP chose to ignore the scores of scientists who have harshly criticized the science presented in former Vice President Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth."

In the interest of full disclosure, the AP should release the names of the "more than 100 top climate researchers" they attempted to contact to review "An Inconvenient Truth." AP should also name all 19 scientists who gave Gore "five stars for accuracy." AP claims 19 scientists viewed Gore's movie, but it only quotes five of them in its article. AP should also release the names of the so-called scientific "skeptics" they claim to have contacted.

The AP article quotes Robert Correll, the chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment group. It appears from the article that Correll has a personal relationship with Gore, having viewed the film at a private screening at the invitation of the former Vice President. In addition, Correll's reported links as an "affiliate" of a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm that provides "expert testimony" in trials and his reported sponsorship by the left-leaning Packard Foundation, were not disclosed by AP. See

The AP also chose to ignore Gore's reliance on the now-discredited "hockey stick" by Dr. Michael Mann, which claims that temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere remained relatively stable over 900 years, then spiked upward in the 20th century, and that the 1990's were the warmest decade in at least 1000 years. Last week's National Academy of Sciences report dispelled Mann's often cited claims by reaffirming the existence of both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. See Senator Inhofe's statement on the broken "Hockey Stick."

Gore's claim that global warming is causing the snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro to disappear has also been debunked by scientific reports. For example, a 2004 study in the journal Nature makes clear that Kilimanjaro is experiencing less snowfall because there's less moisture in the air due to deforestation around Kilimanjaro.

Here is a sampling of the views of some of the scientific critics of Gore:

Professor Bob Carter, of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University in Australia, on Gore's film: "Gore's circumstantial arguments are so weak that they are pathetic. It is simply incredible that they, and his film, are commanding public attention."

"The man is an embarrassment to US science and its many fine practitioners, a lot of whom know (but feel unable to state publicly) that his propaganda crusade is mostly based on junk science." - Bob Carter as quoted in the Canadian Free Press, June 12, 2006

Richard S. Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, wrote: "A general characteristic of Mr. Gore's approach is to assiduously ignore the fact that the earth and its climate are dynamic; they are always changing even without any external forcing. To treat all change as something to fear is bad enough; to do so in order to exploit that fear is much worse." - Lindzen wrote in an op-ed in the June 26, 2006 Wall Street Journal

Gore's film also cites a review of scientific literature by the journal Science which claimed 100% consensus on global warming, but Lindzen pointed out the study was flat out incorrect. "A study in the journal Science by the social scientist Nancy Oreskes claimed that a search of the ISI Web of Knowledge Database for the years 1993 to 2003 under the key words "global climate change" produced 928 articles, all of whose abstracts supported what she referred to as the consensus view.

A British social scientist, Benny Peiser, checked her procedure and found that only 913 of the 928 articles had abstracts at all, and that only 13 of the remaining 913 explicitly endorsed the so-called consensus view. Several actually opposed it."- Lindzen wrote in an op-ed in the June 26, 2006 Wall Street Journal.

Roy Spencer, principal research scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville, wrote an open letter to Gore criticizing his presentation of climate science in the film: "Temperature measurements in the arctic suggest that it was just as warm there in the 1930's...before most greenhouse gas emissions. Don't you ever wonder whether sea ice concentrations back then were low, too?"- Roy Spencer wrote in a May 25, 2006 column.

Former University of Winnipeg climatology professor Dr. Tim Ball reacted to Gore's claim that there has been a sharp drop-off in the thickness of the Arctic ice cap since 1970. "The survey that Gore cites was a single transect across one part of the Arctic basin in the month of October during the 1960s when we were in the middle of the cooling period. The 1990 runs were done in the warmer month of September, using a wholly different technology," -Tim Ball said, according to the Canadian Free Press.


Are maggots more important than people?

Nobody does a funeral like the rural Irish. Forget mumbled condolences made over cucumber sandwiches, like you might get at a Home Counties cremation. The Irish sing and drink around the open coffin of their loved ones, before wailing as they watch the undertaker nail it shut.

I've been to my fair share of funerals in the west of Ireland, where my parents are from. Once, aged 14, I watched as a relative spilt some whisky on my uncle's body.

Hush descended on the house, before an old aunt cried: "Ah well, he liked a drink in life...I'm sure he won't mind one in death."

Irish funerals can be grand affairs. My grandfather, a farmer, lived a simple life in a small cottage in Galway. Yet his burial earlier this year was like a mini state funeral.

His body - mummified so that it looked and felt like a waxwork dummy - was laid out in the funeral home. Family members formed a kind of guard of honour around him, as pretty much the entire town passed through, touching or kissing his forehead in a final paying of respects.

Now, the traditional Irish funeral is under threat from those bores in the European Union.

Stavros Dimas, the EU environment commissioner, wants a Europe-wide ban on some of the chemicals used by embalmers. He says that the chemicals pose a danger to living organisms.

But they're used on dead people. What living organisms is he worried about, exactly? The maggots and beetles that feast on the deceased?

The Irish Association of Funeral Directors protested: "Viewing the deceased is part of Irish culture and it is recognised that such practice is an important part of bringing closure to bereavement."

How typical of the EU to put the safety of "living organisms" over the personal needs and desires of a population.

How predictable that EU bureaucrats should view the dead as potential pollutants whose disposal must be carefully managed, rather than as loved ones who deserve a decent send-off.

Here, the EU is not alone. It is fashionable now to view dead bodies as a potential threat to the environment. More and more people are opting for funerals designed to have a minimal impact on nature. "Natural burials", as they're known, are the fastest-growing trend in the market. Woodland burials are especially popular. The deceased is placed in a biodegradable casket - made of willow, bamboo or paper - and buried in the unconsecrated earth of a nearby forest. In 1997 there were 52 natural burial sites in Britain; now there are 214, and rising.

From the EU's anti-embalming measures to the rise of "natural burials", the changing shape of funerals reveals much about how we view man today: as a polluter.

Funerals are not only about how we see death, but also about how we value life.

For believers, funerals have traditionally been about celebrating the deceased's earthly life and praying for him to reach the afterlife; for atheists, they were a way to mark an individual's life as important, valuable.

Now, some are using funerals almost as a way of apologising for their existence, opting to have themselves hurried into the earth with a minimum of fuss.

From the cradle to the grave, man is seen as a wicked despoiler. Newborn babies are said to damage the environment with all those disposable nappies they use, and now even our dead bodies are seen as toxic.

And in between, we're chastised for everything from using deodorant to driving cars.

When we see ourselves as a plague on the planet - as the polluters of our surroundings rather than as the makers of history - it's fitting that funerals should be more concerned with disposing of the dead quietly, quickly and efficiently than with giving our loved ones the fanfare exit they deserve. What a sad state of affairs. Previous generations will be turning in their graves.



(A Year after Gleneagles: Tony Blair's speech at King's College London, 26 June 2006)

Professors, alumni, students, ladies, gentlemen, I am delighted to be here tonight and to have been asked to contribute to this new series of commemoration lectures.

King's, of course, is an institution with a long history and a superb reputation at home and across the world. Your students and staff have made a huge contribution over the last 175 years to our knowledge and well-being.

The College was co-founded by one of my predecessors at Downing Street, even though I'll accept that the Duke of Wellington is far more famous for battles won outside Parliament than within...


Achievements at Gleneagles

Let me recap what we actually achieved at Gleneagles.

Six months before the Gleneagles Summit, at the annual UN talks on climate change, in Buenos Aires, the EU and the US were at loggerheads simply about whether we could even talk about tackling climate change after 2012, when the first stage of Kyoto expired. In fact, climate change was not even on the agenda at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2003 in South Africa.

By making climate change a priority for Gleneagles, I wanted to re-start a more meaningful, more practical conversation between the key international players - the G8 plus five other major emerging economies. The aim was to get consensus that we needed urgent action to address climate change, to agree on practical actions we could take now - working with business and consumers - to reduce emissions, and to establish an ongoing dialogue with key countries on a strong international framework for after 2012.

We achieved all three of these objectives. We established a new consensus on the need for action which set the foundation for much more successful UN talks on climate change at the end of 2005 in Montreal, compared to the talks a year before in Buenos Aires. The G8 agreed a wide ranging and very practical Plan of Action on measures we could take now to clean up the way we produce and the way we all use energy, and how to fund in particular developing countries to be able to access this clean technology too. And we established the Gleneagles Climate Change Dialogue, with 20 of the biggest energy using countries. The next meeting of this group will be in Mexico in October to further drive forward the Gleneagles action plan, and to discuss the elements of a future international framework and the outcomes of the Stern review on the economics of climate change.

But we also achieved some practical action.

* The International Energy Agency has developed 4 practical energy efficiency proposals that we are discussing at St Petersburg

* The World Bank has pushed forward planning for an investment framework to lever billions of dollars to help poor countries get access to clean technology

* The EU, under our presidency, agreed to help build a demonstration clean coal power station with China

* The EU agreed a new initiative with India on renewable technology.


Next steps on Climate Change

On climate change, in the next 12 months we need to build a global consensus about the scale of the action we need to take, and the long-term goal we're all working towards. We need to begin agreement on a framework that the major players - US, China, India and Europe - buy into and has at its heart a goal to stabilise temperature and greenhouse gas concentrations. And we need to accelerate discussions - we can't take the 5 years it took Kyoto took to negotiate.

I believe a clear goal and a strong framework would help spur the technology revolution we need. It is vital to give business the certainty it needs to invest in cleaner technology and reduce emissions, so that they can produce the clean products consumers want to buy.

You need goals whether you are planning a government programme for developing technologies or setting targets for the private sector. I happen to believe in such targets because I have seen them work. The EU emissions trading scheme has already been shown to be an incredibly powerful incentive for private sector action, involving around 12,000 installations across 25 countries. This market is already estimated to be worth ?5.4 (sic) billion. And the investment decisions that are being made now, both within Europe and across the world, will determine what happens to global emissions in the next 15-20 years. But this also need to go further. That's why, within the EU, I believe we need to give a clear, strong signal to business that the emissions trading scheme should be extended and strengthened, after 2012 and made the heart of a global carbon market.

We also need more investment in research into cleaner technology, to bring that technology from design to manufacture, and to enable it to be used by households in both developed and developing countries. The OECD already estimates that the market for cleaner investment in developing countries through the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism is worth about $10billion. But we know this won't be enough on its own. And we will need stronger action to help the poorest countries adapt to climate change, both now and in the future.

Finally, we need to back all this up with real action to reduce UK domestic emissions. The UK has already reached its target under the Kyoto Protocol, 7 years ahead of schedule. We will be doing twice as much as we have to by 2012. A track record very few can better.

Regarding our much more ambitious 20% target on CO2 we are getting closer but are not there yet. The energy review will be critical in setting out new measures to help us go further, including on renewables and energy efficiency.

We also need to recognise that taking action on climate change is not just a matter for Governments. Yes, Government needs to give a lead. But ultimately each of us also has a responsibility to act in our daily lives. In the choices we make - whether it's in the energy we use at home, or how we move around - we also can each make a contribution towards tackling this global challenge. ...



The Supreme Court plunged on Monday into the acrimonious debate over global warming and whether the government should regulate "greenhouse" gases, especially carbon dioxide from cars. The ruling could be one of the court's most important ever on the environment. Spurred by states in a pollution battle with the Bush administration, the court said it would decide whether the Environmental Protection Agency is required under the federal clean air law to treat carbon dioxide from automobiles as a pollutant harmful to health. The decision could determine how the nation addresses global warming.

President Bush has rejected calls by environmentalists and some lawmakers in Congress to regulate carbon dioxide, the leading heat-trapping "greenhouse'' gas going into the atmosphere. Bush favors voluntary actions and development of new technologies to curtail such emissions.

But a dozen states argued that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping chemicals from automobile tailpipes should be treated as unhealthy pollutants. They filed a lawsuit in an effort to force the EPA to curtail such emissions just as it does cancer-causing lead and chemicals that produce smog and acid rain.

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to take the case after a divided lower court sided with the administration. Arguments will be late this year, with a ruling by next June.

"This is going to be the first major statement by the Supreme Court on climate change. ... This is the whole ball of wax,'' said David Bookbinder, an attorney for the Sierra Club, one of a number of environmental groups that joined the states in their appeal to the high court.

While the case doesn't specifically involve carbon releases from power plants, environmentalists said a court decision declaring carbon dioxide a harmful pollutant would make it hard for the agency to avoid action involving power plants which account for 40 percent or the carbon dioxide released into the air.

Cars and trucks account for about half that amount.

The EPA said in a statement that the agency "is confident in its decision'' not to regulate the chemical under the federal Clean Air Act and plans to argue its case vigorously before the high court

Recently, Bush told reporters he views global warming as a serious problem and has "a plan to be able to deal with greenhouse gases'' short of regulating their use. It includes developing new technologies for cleaner burning coal, using alternative motor fuels such as ethanol as substitutes for gasoline and expanding nuclear power to produce electricity.

Critics argue that carbon emissions have continued to increase-though the rate of increase has declined-and only regulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will stem the amount going into the atmosphere.

"It is encouraging that the high court feels this case needs to be reviewed,'' said Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., who has campaigned in Congress to regulate carbon dioxide. "It is high time to stop relying on technicalities and finger pointing to avoid action on climate change.''

The states involved, which together account for more than a third of the car market, say the Clean Air Act makes clear carbon dioxide is a pollutant that should be regulated if it poses a danger to public health and welfare. They argue it does so by causing a warming of the earth.

The administration maintains that unlike other chemicals that must be controlled to ensure healthy air, carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is not a dangerous pollutant under the federal law. And, officials argue, even if it is, the EPA has discretion over whether to regulate it, considering the economic costs involved.

The agency should not be required to "embark on the extraordinarily complex and scientifically uncertain task of addressing the global issue of greenhouse gas emissions'' when voluntary ways to address climate change are available, the administration argued in its filing with the high court.

While a federal appeals court sided with the administration, its ruling was mixed.

One judge said the states and other plaintiffs had no standing because they had not proven harm. A second judge said even if the law gave the EPA authority to regulate carbon dioxide, the agency was not obligated to do so. A third judge, in the minority, said the EPA was violating the law by not regulating the chemical.

In their appeal, the states maintained the case "goes to the heart of the EPA's statutory responsibilities to deal with the most pressing environmental problem of our time''-the threat of global warming.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit were California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. They were joined by a number of cities including Baltimore, New York City and Washington D.C., the Pacific island of America Samoa, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Greenpeace, and Friends of the Earth.

Associated Press, 26 June 2006


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

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

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


28 June 2006


Press release:

Washington, D.C. - Senator. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works commented on today's announcement by the U.S. Supreme Court to agree to hear the case of whether the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must regulate carbon dioxide to fight global warming under the Clean Air Act.

"It is my hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will bring finality to this issue by rejecting this meritless lawsuit," Senator Inhofe said. "For the past 30 years, Congress has addressed and legislated extensively on the highly controversial and complex subject of global climate change. It has always been clear, however, that the Clean Air Act was intended to regulate pollution, not emissions of carbon dioxide. "Unfortunately, those who have failed to impose their draconian ideology through legislation are now trying to use the courts to overturn the will of Congress."

Senator Inhofe has been active in climate change litigation, having most recently filed an amicus brief earlier this year urging the dismissal of a nuisance lawsuit that was brought against American Electric Power Co., Southern Co., Xcel Energy Inc., Cinergy Corp. and Tennessee Valley Authority.


Post lifted from Taranto

Parade magazine, the Sunday newspaper supplement, has joined the global-warming alarmists with a cover story titled "Why You Can't Ignore the Changing Climate." Author Eugene Linden writes:

From the Fertile Crescent to the Yucatan peninsula, past civilizations made the fatal mistake of assuming that good weather would continue. An abrupt shift to drought in Mesopotamia 4,200 years ago probably spelled the doom of the Akkadian culture, which united city-states into the first known empire. Others see the fingerprints of climate in the collapse of the Mayans around 900 A.D., the disappearance of the Anasazi from the American Southwest a few centuries later and the end of Norse expansion into the New World in the 14th century. A recurrent pattern of history has been for civilizations to take root and flourish while the weather is good, only to fall when the weather suddenly changes.

You'd think that this history would put things in some perspective, reminding us that weather and climate have never been constant and are beyond human control. Quite the contrary. As reader Gayle Trotter notes:

These ancient civilizations did not assume good weather would continue. In fact, they had elaborate religious rituals (sometimes involving human sacrifice and infanticide) to attempt to influence the weather. I would argue that our current environmental policy is about as effective at influencing the weather as their ancient religious ceremonies, and indeed, environmentalism has become a new religion in our age.

Sure enough, Linden advises that you can help stop "warming the globe" by engaging in various rituals: "buy a fuel-efficient car; take mass transit; and, when you can, bicycle or walk to work."

Drinking sewage unpopular

So it's an unlikely alternative to the dams that Greenies hate

The first Australian mayor to be dumped from office for backing recycled drinking water has warned Toowoomba Mayor Di Thorley she risks the same fate. Ten years ago Caboolture Shire residents ditched their mayor, John White, after he had served for 16 years on the council. He blamed his demise on a plan to recycle purified sewage from the local wastewater treatment plant. "I didn't see it as an election issue but very emotive terms were used and the topic was used to divide the public," he said. "One day I was the rooster, the next I was a feather duster."

Cr Thorley, who plans to contest the 2008 council election, is backing a similar plan for drought-stricken Toowoomba, where residents are facing a July 29 referendum on water recycling. Mr White warned she risked a similar fate and he called for a co-ordinated approach from the State Government instead of allowing individual councils to cop the flak. "If (her) opposition chooses to use this as an issue then she will become a feather duster as well," he said.

He admitted that if he had been able to foresee the deep divisions the debate caused he would have advocated recycling for uses other than drinking. Cr Thorley said that although she did not underestimate how concerned some residents were about the issue she would not back down. "I've acknowledged that people take this seriously but I have not seen that as a reason to make me lose courage," she said. "I think 1997 in Caboolture was a very different time. "They weren't faced with running out of water, no one thought Wivenhoe Dam could run dry and you didn't have climate change in the media day after day."

Mr White said he was pleased the debate had led Caboolture to spend millions of dollars to improve its water treatment facilities and to embrace recycling of water for parks, gardens and sporting fields. "It defies logic to treat millions of litres of water and then dump it into the ocean," he said. In 1999 Caboolture upgraded its sewage treatment works, treating the effluent to A-class standard rather than building an outfall pipeline to Moreton Bay. The recycled effluent is now used for new housing and industrial developments and major water users including school grounds, the town's showgrounds and sporting fields, parks and gardens, roadworks and building sites.



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 June 2006


The 2008 Beijing Olympics is being billed as one of those glorious defining moments in history that will signal China's arrival as an economic power. But what if the global media pack and the millions of tourists who descend on China two years from now take away a less-than-flattering impression of the Middle Kingdom?

Yes, China is a remarkable growth story. But it is also fast becoming an ecological wasteland, home to world-class smog, acid rain, polluted rivers and lakes, and deforestation. Environmental problems play a role in the death of some 300,000 Chinese people each year, according to World Bank estimates.

China's torrid growth statisticsthe mainland clocked 10%-plus growth in the first quarteralso mask the huge economic costs of this evolving environmental crisis. On June 5, China's State Environmental Protection Administration [SEPA] issued a report that the mainland's pollution scourge costs the country roughly $200 billion a year, or some 10% in gross domestic product, from lost work productivity, health problems, and government outlays. That is a staggering admission.


China, of course, isn't the first high-speed developing economy to grapple with the tradeoffs between prosperity that lifts millions out of poverty and environmental damage that degrades living standards [see, 2/27/06, "Is Beijing Greedy for Oil?"]. Think of Japan in the 1960s. What's different is China's outsized impact on the global environment.

China's economy is only about one-fifth the size of the U.S, but is already the second biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, second only to the U.S. China's emissions jumped 33% during a 10-year period ended in 2002, according to the latest World Bank figures. A miasma of dirty air from China is spreading across East Asia and even reaching the West Coast of the U.S.

There is no denying that Chinese President Hu Jintao's government takes the problem seriously. Not only is it bad for the mainland's international image, but it could be an explosive political issue later in the decade if left unresolved.


Pan Yue, vice-minister of SEPA, predicted last summer at an environmental conference in Beijing that "the pollution load of China will quadruple by 2020" if nothing is done. Some 20% of the population lives in "severely polluted" areas, according to SEPA estimates, and 70% of the country's rivers and lakes are in grim shape, figures the World Bank.

Changing all this will require a tremendous amount of political focus by Beijing. It will need to crack down on environmental renegades inside Chinese industry, encourage a move from high-sulfur coal as the mainland's primary energy source, and push to secure the most environmentally friendly technologies from abroad [see, 8/22/05, "A Big Dirty Growth Engine"].

The "policy elite has realized that China, with its huge scale of economic development and emissions, cannot consume energy and pollute the earth the way traditional economies have done in the past," says Wenran Jiang, director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta, Canada, who made a presentation on climate change in early June to Chinese and World Bank officials....


While China can't do much about its ravenous energy demand, it could do a far better job of shifting to cleaner technologies and using its power more efficiently. China consumes more than three times the world energy average to produce one dollar of gross domestic product4.7 times the average for the U.S., 7.7 times the average for Germany, and 11.5 times the average for Japan [see, 4/11/05, "China's Wasteful Ways"].

Beijing has mapped out a plan that calls for hiking reliance on natural gas from 3% to 10% by 2020. Plants fired by gas burn fuel twice as efficiently as turbines fired by coal, which now accounts for two-thirds of China's fuel. The plan also calls for building 30 new nuclear reactors. Cummins (CMI) imports and makes diesel engines for mainland buses that are 30% more efficient than gas engines.

Royal Dutch Shell Group (RD) is licensing technology to fertilizer plants that converts coal into synthetic gas, which burns more efficiently. General Electric (GE) is making a killing selling gas turbines. And both GE and Veolia, of France, are marketing technologies that will harness the methane gas produced from decomposing garbage and sewage, as well as the huge amounts of gas that escape from China's coal mines.

MSNBC, 19 June 2006


The Greenies won't like it. Deserts are "natural"

China's deserts are shrinking annually at a rate of about 3,000 square miles. A senior forestry official said that the new finding sharply contrasts with the 4,000 square mile annual expansion at the end of the 20th century, the official news agency Xinhua reported. Zhu Lieke, deputy director of the State Forestry Administration said data showed the desertification that started in China in the late 1990s has been "primarily brought under control." Addressing the Beijing International Conference on Women and Desertification, Zhu said that although China is much more aware of the problem than in the past, "the work in this regard remains tough." Chinese officials say desertification affects the lives of 400 million people and causes annual economic losses of 54 billion yuan ($6.75 billion). The Chinese government spends about 2 billion yuan ($250 million) a year fighting desertification.



Global emissions of the heat-trapping gas carbon dioxide will rise 75 percent from 2003 to 2030, with much of the growth coming from coal burning in developing countries, the U.S. government forecast on Tuesday. Developing countries are growing more quickly than industrialized economies, whose growth "tends to be in less energy-intensive sectors," the report said. While the United States is the world's leading emitter of CO2, its emissions growth rate will soon be surpassed by China and India.

Global emissions of CO2 will hit 43.7 billion tonnes in 2030, up from 25 billion tonnes in 2003, the Energy Information Administration said in its annual forecast. By 2025 global CO2 emissions could hit 40.05 billion tonnes annually, up 0.03 percent from the forecast issued last year, said the EIA, the statistics arm of the Department of Energy. Last year's report did not look as far ahead as 2030.....

Humans cause much of the buildup of CO2 by burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas, and the most CO2-intensive fuel, coal. Coal burning, which is growing in China and India, and to a lesser extent in the United States, could overtake oil as the largest fuel source of CO2 emissions after 2015, the EIA said.

The forecast did not include potential effects of CO2 reduction plans, including the international pact known as the Kyoto Protocol, saying the long-term impact of such plans are not yet known....


The report said that in four years, CO2 emissions in rapidly developing countries in Asia, such as China and India, will surpass those from North America. In 2003, CO2 emissions of 6.8 billion tonnes from North America were about 12 percent higher than those in developing Asia, a far more populous region, according to the EIA. By 2010, that changes. Developing Asian countries will emit about 9.1 billion tonnes of CO2, surpassing North American emissions by about 21 percent, according to the EIA.

Emissions from North America should average 1.3 percent growth per year from 2003 to 2030 and hit 9.7 billion tonnes by 2030, the EIA said. In developing Asian countries, emissions should average 3.6 percent growth to reach 16 billion tonnes by 2030, the report said. Total U.S. emissions have risen by 15.8 percent from 1990 to 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said.

In Russia and eastern Europe, which experienced an economic downturn late last century, CO2 emissions won't return to 1990 levels until after 2025, according to the EIA. Emissions of CO2 in developed Asian countries will rise an average 0.9 percent per year from 2003 to 2030 to 2.6 billion tonnes, while developed European countries will build an average 0.7 percent per year to 5.1 billion tonnes over the same time, the EIA said.

More here

Australia: Business helps preserve the natural environment

Recruitment king Geoff Morgan is one of growing number of millionaires who are helping to bankroll a fund that's at the forefront of an environmental putsch. But unlike past environmental battles where activists take on bulldozers and police, the Australian Bush Heritage Fund relies on suits and big business to quietly buy up large tracts of land and establish environmental reserves.

Donors such as Morgan, the managing director of Talent2 and co-founder of the recruitment company Morgan & Banks, have helped Bush Heritage become the most active and largest land conservancy group in Australia. It now owns 24 reserves tallying almost 700,000ha and worth $14million across Australia. Collectively, these acquisitions protect more than 158 species of threatened plants and animals and more than 63 threatened vegetation communities. Its latest acquisition is a 63,000ha reserve called Boolcoomatta, five hours from Adelaide and adjacent to the newly formed Bimbowrie National Park.

Bush Heritage chief executive Doug Humann won't divulge the names of his donors but the list includes some leading names in Australian business. Among the influential cohort are Carol Schwartz, a director of Highpoint Property Group and president of the Melbourne International Arts Festival board; Simon Mordant, joint chief executive of Caliburn Partnership; Graham Turner, founder and managing director of Flight Centre; Louise Sylvan, chief executive of the Australian Consumers' Association and deputy chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission; and Helen Lynch, deputy chairwoman of Pacific Brands, former chairwoman of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and a non-executive director of Southcorp and Westpac Bank.

Corporations that support Bush Heritage through payroll donations are Allens Arthur Robinson, BlueScope Steel, Goldman Sachs JBWere, Integral Energy, Perpetual Trustees, UBS and Westpac. Donations of $2 or more are tax-deductible, property gifts valued at more than $5000 are deductible. Humann says the fund relies on "a lot of people who give us smallish sums of money or regular sums". "We've got a few people, foundations and trusts who give us quite substantial one-off sums and there are others who have pledged over a number of years," he says. "Their pledge might be for hundreds of thousands of dollars a year."

Bush Heritage is also finalising a gift of $1million a year over the next three years. "That's the largest donation I've been associated with." Humann says. "It is the result of an individual who has established a private fund."

Morgan says his financial contribution to Bush Heritage has been substantial but adds "giving is not just a financial thing. I'd like to think that with Bush Heritage I've come up with ideas, as I know other people have, to help them be more successful." Morgan, together with business partner Andrew Banks, formed recruitment powerhouse Morgan & Banks in 1985 and pushed sales growth to more than $700 million a year. It became Australia's most successful recruitment firm before being sold, bought back, floated and then sold again, with the pair pocketing an estimated $1 billion.

Morgan says his five-year involvement with Bush Heritage is not about fertilising his own business opportunities but "helping this organisation become as good as they can be". "People give money and they think that's great," he says. "They wash their hands of it and then move on and, you know, start standing under the shower for 15 minutes. It is about who you want to be as a person. It is not how other people measure you. It is how you measure yourself when you look in the mirror every day. I'm not worried about what other people think of me, I'm worried about what I think of me."

Morgan says he is not like his former neighbour, HIH boss Ray Williams, who "used all of the public company money to make himself look good. For Andrew (Banks) and I, every dollar we give is our own money, not anybody else's. "I think the Australian approach is about getting on and doing it. It is not a personal marketing campaign. That's making you out to be bigger than the cause. I don't like that sort of philosophy. "I think you need to have a mentality where you have a gift bank in your mind. And I like to make sure that I'm in credit all the time on the giving side."

Morgan says he agrees with Bush Heritage's pragmatic approach. "The more private enterprise leads the way rather than just relying on government departments, the better off we'd be, particularly in environmental terms. "It's a negative and small view that we have to worry about the economy. If the environment is stuffed we won't worry about the economy. I'm scared about the lack of action in this country. We lead the world in many areas, why don't we lead the world in the environment? More people need to get angry about it."

Morgan's entree into Bush Heritage came via Schwartz who donates both time and money. "Our support is financial and I guess my support is in the context of introducing Doug Humann to people like myself who have an awareness of what the issues are," Morgan says. "I wouldn't say that it (her financial commitment) is major in the context of the sorts of donations that Bush Heritage receives but from my point of view it was substantial. I always give according to what my means are and what my priorities are and there are lots of competing priorities. "For me it is a lot harder to give hours as opposed to writing a cheque. I can write a cheque for $500 easier than giving an afternoon of my time. What I have done is facilitated many meetings and introductions. That, I think, is more valuable than my financial contribution."

Schwartz riles at the suggestion she is helping to establish an influential business network that will enhance personal business opportunities via the environment. "I hate the word networking," Schwartz says. "I prefer the word facilitation because networking has connotations that people want something out of the relationship. All I'm doing is facilitating an introduction for them to be able to develop that interest that I think is waiting there just to be ignited."

Schwartz, like Morgan, says the people she introduces to Bush Heritage are not "looking for an opportunity other than having a real interest in the Australian environment and in creating a sustainable Australian environment. They really want to know how they can do that. "I actually don't think that with an organisation like Bush Heritage and the sort of people one introduces to that organisation, that those alternative motives are there. It is just too easy to go along to a pure business lunch and have that sort of opportunity."

Schwartz describes her first visit to a reserve in western Queensland called Carnarvon Station as "remarkable". "I have never been in that part of Queensland before. As you drive to Carnarvon Station you actually go through this area where forests have been felled for grazing. I've never seen that before. I thought I was driving through a nuclear wasteland. It was just horrible. It is really scary stuff. Then we get to Carnarvon Station which is actually like an oasis in the middle of this nuclear desert." Schwartz says she will remain committed to Bush Heritage because "they are involved in an issue that is really important for my children and grandchildren, and that they are effective and will be able to deliver outcomes".

In the past 15 years landcare groups have grown from an estimated 200 community-based groups to more than 4000, involving about 120,000 volunteers across Australia. There are now more than 20 million hectares in conservation reserves. Increasingly, these reserves are private holdings. Green senator Bob Brown started the trend by establishing Bush Heritage in 1990 with the purchase of two small parcels of land, Liffey River and Drys Bluff, adjacent to the Tasmanian World Heritage area. Brown modelled Bush Heritage on the US's The Nature Conservancy, one of the world's biggest environmental organisations. The Nature Conservancy is the richest conservation group in the world, with total revenue in 2000 of more than $US784 million ($1.070million) and assets of about $US2.8billion. Then as now, Bush Heritage relied on a network of influential people to raise funds for its first two purchases. Brown called on friends including Judy Henderson, John Williamson, Phillip Adams, Jenny Kee, Jo Vallentine and Roger Woodward. More often than not, Bush Heritage donors never see the reserves. Morgan says he trusts the fund to manage and preserve its reserves and hopes to visit in the future.



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 June 2006

A useful chart from The Locker Room


Environment Minister Rona Ambrose is daring opposition parties to bring down the minority Conservative government and fight an election campaign on the issue of climate change. "I say, 'Bring it on,'" Ambrose said Thursday in the House of Commons, responding to a question from the Bloc Quebecois. "Our government, in four months, is miles better than the 13-year Liberal record and the non-record of the Bloc."

While the New Democrats have accused her of ducking her responsibilities and giving up on the international Kyoto protocol on climate change, Ambrose said her government is working on reducing greenhouse emissions. "This government has never rejected Kyoto. We have never pulled out of Kyoto. We are working within the Kyoto protocol," she said before the House rose for its summer break. "What we are doing is putting a reasonable, achievable, affordable domestic plan in place that will ensure that the mess that the Liberals made out of Kyoto over the last 13 years will be addressed and we will make a success out of our made-in-Canada plan."

Minutes later, Prime Minister Stephen Harper pointed out that the Kyoto protocol had an important shortcoming. "If Kyoto were fully implemented by all the countries of the world tomorrow, it would do absolutely nothing to control smog which is one of the reasons why this government and this environment minister have been working hard to develop a plan to deal with just that," Harper said.

The New Democrats and the Bloc attempted to table a motion calling for Ambrose's resignation in the Commons environment committee, earlier this week, but the Liberals blocked it from going through after the Conservatives threatened to make it a confidence vote that could trigger a fall election.

The government has been criticized by environmentalists and opposition parties for saying Canada cannot honour its commitment under Kyoto to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. The NDP said it will spend the summer touring Canada explaining its own strategy to meet the targets through new energy efficient policies for homes, communities, transportation, industry, government operations and international co-operation. "This is a set of realistic proposals," said NDP environment critic Nathan Cullen at a news conference. "This is a set of proposals that demands finally that the government step up to the plate, join with industry leader, join with every day Canadians to make the environment a better place."

The latest proposals from the NDP call for a retrofit of 75 per cent of federal government and crown corporation facilities, and new directives forcing them to use renewable sources of energy and more efficient goods and equipment. Overall the five-point plan would permanently reduce greenhouse gases by 209 megatonnes per year at an annual cost of $940 million, NDP energy critic Dennis Bevington said.

Harper said he was pleased to see the new NDP ideas on the table and would look at them carefully. Ambrose is expected to deliver her own plan on climate change and clean air in the fall.

CanWest News Service, 22 June 2006


In their political heart-of-hearts, all Governments (including those in Europe) know that there is absolutely nothing we can do predictably about climate change, and, indeed, extremely little practically to curb the rise of 'greenhouse gas' emissions. Unfortunately, through a type of tabloid-hysteria in the old broadsheet world, including the BBC, the politicians have been persuaded to adopt knee-jerk reactions and to lecture people that they can, and that they must, "do something" about climate. They are now in a bind of their own making. Whatever they do, they will be damned. They can have no predictable effect on climate, and there is no way, even, that they will manage a significant reduction in gas emissions. Yet, they must continue to speak as if they are cutting, and can cut, emissions, and to argue that they will, miraculously, control climate. At some point, a lot of little boys and girls are going to spot the deception and to cry out: "The Emperors have no clothes!"

Here are the stark political realities:

(a) First, no country is reporting its true emissions of 'greenhouse gases'. Indeed, new research shows that Britain, for example, may be emitting 92% more methane (CH4) than declared under the Kyoto Protocol; Germany 62% (Germany has now acknowledged this fact and has raised its original estimates by 70%); France 47% [see: 'Kyoto promises are nothing but hot air' (New Scientist, June 21) and 'Methane emissions twice official level - study', (The Guardian, June 22)]. Further, the New Scientist makes the following telling observations:

"The most alarming failure of greenhouse gas emissions reporting is thought to have occurred in China, the world's second largest emitter. In the late 1990s, when its economy was growing by 10 per cent a year, the Chinese government reported a dramatic fall in CO2 emissions to the UN climate change convention. It declared that, after a long period of steep increases, emissions had fallen from 911 million tonnes of carbon a year in 1996 to 757 million tonnes in 2000, a drop of 17 per cent.

China said the fall in emissions was achieved by burning less coal, an assessment it based on a decline in coal production. Some analysts praised the country for using coal more efficiently, but that picture was called into doubt when declared coal production and emissions estimates resumed their fast rise. Estimates for 2004 put China's CO2 emissions above 1200 million tonnes.

Most analysts now conclude that the drop in emissions was entirely illusory [my italic]. It coincided with major changes in the organisation of the Chinese coal industry, which replaced state targets with a market system. 'Emissions figures before 1996 were inflated because mine officials had production targets to meet, and declared they had met them when they had not,' one analyst told New Scientist. By 2000, this effect had gone, and 'subsequent figures for CO2 emissions are probably more accurate as a result.' While the Chinese government may not have intentionally misled the international community over its emissions at the time, the incident reveals how easy it could be to fiddle official figures."

(b) Secondly, all emissions continue to rise, even according to official figures. The latest statistics show that 'greenhouse gas' emissions in the EU increased by 0.4% between 2003 and 2004, and even grew in the ever-pious UK by 0.2% (and these statistics exclude emissions from aircraft and shipping). On a world scale, CO2 emissions are now predicted to augment by 75% between 2003 and 2030, mainly because of exponential growth in the developing world [see: 'World CO2 emissions to rise 75 pct by 2030' (Planet Ark, June 21)]:

"Global emissions of CO2 will hit 43.7 billion tonnes in 2030, up from 25 billion tonnes in 2003, the Energy Information Administration [US] said in its annual forecast. By 2025 global CO2 emissions could hit 40.05 billion tonnes annually, up 0.03 percent from the forecast issued last year, said the EIA, the statistics arm of the Department of Energy. Last year's report did not look as far ahead as 2030."

By 2010, developing Asian countries will surpass North American emissions by some 21%.

(c) Thirdly, most efforts to curb emissions will be gobbled up by: (i) the significant return to coal that is currently taking place; (ii) the fact that more efficient energy buildings are still new, and additional, build; (iii) the continued growth in transport and free trade; (iv) the fact that most people, underneath, remain largely unmoved by the 'global warming' hype (just look at the 'EnviroSpin' Mini Poll, opposite); and, we hope, (v) continued world economic growth.

So, what can we expect? Much more of this hot air: 'EU, US to agree "urgent" action on climate change' (Planet Ark, June 21). Which means, being deconstructed?

+ A great deal of international talk about 'new technology' solving the crisis, while allowing growth to continue unchecked;

+ Increasingly ludicrous carbon-trading schemes;

+ A sudden, and rising, interest in 'adaptation' to climate change;

+ An awful lot of gibberish about YOU doing your bit with your light bulbs and your rubbish (largely a waste of time);

+ A load of waffle from young, eager, fresh-faced political hopefuls, like David Cameron and David Miliband, not to mention from all the soppy Lib Dems (you can shoot snipe off their backs); and,

+ Increasingly angry Greens, who will, nevertheless, continue to employ the 'global warming' hype to try to change your evil ways of living;

+ Meanwhile, world emissions will continue to rise, and, as ever, climate will change - but in what directions? Who knows?

Sometimes one really does wish one lived on another planet where the only strains came from a Schubert Quartet. I don't think I can stand it. It'll have to be Radio 3 from now on in the morning.

Philip Stott, 22 June 2006


Over the last few weeks, several good, even excellent articles have been published on the vicissitudes of the EU's Emissions Trading System. However, many of them overlook one crucial factor: In the bewildering array of technicalities, the original, and ostensibly only, purpose of the scheme -- the reduction of putative man-made global warming-- has been forgotten.

The recent crash of the CO2 emission market shows it is a very special market, indeed. Revelations in April that some EU member states had granted their companies an excess of permits more than halved the carbon price from EUR30 per ton to EUR11 in just a few days. Subsequently the price rebounded to about EUR14 per ton now.

Carbon trading has been presented as a "market-based", cost-effective solution to mitigate the effect of man-made global warming. Governments set limits to carbon emissions and then permit trading in credits. Companies in energy-intensive industries receive permits for each ton of carbon dioxide they are allowed to emit. If they want to emit more they must buy them from companies with a surplus. The aim of the market is to ensure companies have an incentive to invest in new technology or other efficiency measures to reduce their CO2 emissions.

There is a two-tier allocation procedure. First, international agreement must be reached on the total volume of emissions, and on the burden sharing, which sets emission ceilings for each country. Subsequently, big energy-intensive companies in each country receive their share of the national allocation of emission permits. But here countries face a dilemma. On the one hand they want to do something about global warming. But they also do not want their national industries to suffer. Therefore, they are tempted to give them far too many pollution-permitting carbon credits, which risks undermining Europe's drive to cut emissions. This dilemma manifests itself in a tug-of-war between national ministries of economic affairs and environment ministries. Apparently, the economic ministries have carried the day so far.

What about the "progress" on the international stage? At last July's G-8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, world leaders failed to reach agreement on a follow-up to Kyoto after 2012. Nor was there any support at December's climate conference in Montreal for such a follow-up. As a matter of fact, Europe remained isolated in pushing for an extension of its system of binding caps on carbon dioxide emissions in conjunction with tradable emission rights. And Europe's climate policy suffered another setback at last month's climate meeting in Bonn, which ended in a deadlock. There, the developed countries reached a consensus that they would not take on further commitments until the developing world also considered emission targets. The developing nations, on the other hand, reached consensus as well, holding firmly to the position they will not take on such commitments.

The proponents of Kyoto have always argued that the agreement was only the first step towards a far more comprehensive scheme which would ultimately include all countries in the world and would aim at greenhouse gas emission cuts of around 60 percent by 2050. But it has become clear there will be no "son of Kyoto" after 2012. So the question arises: what useful purpose could be served by continuing Europe's current emission trading system, given the fact that its impact, if any, will be undetectable, even with the most sophisticated thermometers? The only rational policy decision would be to abandon it as soon as possible. However, rationality is in short supply on the climate question.

TCS Daily, 19 June 2006


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

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

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


25 June 2006


By Steve McIntyre

The early rumors on the NAS Panel was that it was "two handed" - on the one hand, ..., on the other hand, ... with something for everyone. I'd characterize it more as schizophrenic. It's got two completely distinct personalities. On the one hand, they pretty much concede that every criticism of MBH is correct. They disown MBH claims to statistical skill for individual decades and especially individual years.

However, they nevertheless conclude that it is "plausible" - whatever that means - that the "Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period over the preceding millennium". Here, the devil is in the details, as the other studies relied on for this conclusion themselves suffer from the methodological and data problems conceded by the panel. The panel recommendations on methodology are very important; when applied to MBH and the other studies (as they will be in short order), it is my view that they will have major impact and little will be left standing from the cited multiproxy studies.

Update: Eduardo Zorita's take posted up below was:

In my opinion the Panel adopted the most critical position to MBH nowadays possible. I agree with you that it is in many parts ambivalent and some parts are inconsistent with others. It would have been unrealistic to expect a report with a summary stating that MBH98 and MBH99 were wrong (and therefore the IPC TAR had serious problems) when the Fourth Report is in the making. I was indeed surprised by the extensive and deep criticism of the MBH methodology in Chapters 9 and 11

I thought that the tone of the question period showed that some reporters were pretty unsettled - there were questions about the "over-selling" of MBH with the panel taking pains to suggest that IPCC would be responsible rather than MBH (conveniently omitting that Mann was section author of the section promoting MBH and in his capacity of IPCC author, ratcheted up the statistical claims); there was discussion of what "plausible" meant, with a reporter wondering if this was "damning with faint praise".


In the preface, North summarizes the criticisms:

Critics of the original papers have argued that the statistical methods were flawed, that the choice of data was biased, and that the data and procedures used were not shared so others could verify the work. (ix)

He left out the criticism that concerned the Barton Committee and launched the entire matter - that adverse results were withheld or even misrepresented. In its text, the panel concedes every one of our criticisms of the statistical methods, providing some useful new guidelines. However, they do not apply these guidelines to either to MBH or to other studies.

They do not clearly discuss biased data selection, but concede that strip-bark samples, such as bristlecones, which we had strongly criticized, "should be avoided in temperature reconstructions". However, they then proceed to rely on studies that rely on strip-bark bristlecones (and foxtails) and even the criticized MBH PC1 (which is even illustrated in an alter ego in Figure 11-2.)

They do not grasp the nettle of reporting on previous data and method availability, but do endorse the principle that sharing data and methods is a good thing in paleoclimate. Schizophrenically, their graphics and conclusions rely heavily on studies where data and/or methods are not available.

They stay well away from grasping the nettle of providing an opinion on whether adverse MBH results were withheld or misrepresented. However, they report factual findings that MBH failed cross-validation tests and was not robust to presence/absence of all dendroclimatic indicators, contrary to prior claims of Mann et al.

Flawed Statistical Methods

On p 107, the panel reports our two principal criticisms of MBH statistical methods, finding

"Some of these criticisms are more relevant than others, but taken together, they are an important aspect of a more general finding of this committee, which is that uncertainties of the published reconstructions have been underestimated. Methods for evaluation of uncertainties are discussed in Chapter 9."

Chapter 9 then sets out some important guidelines, dealing with several critical issues that we raised in our presentation: that it is inadequate to just consider one statistic in assessing a statistical model; that confidence interval calculations should use verification period residuals rather than calibration period residuals; that autocorrelation should be considered in calculating confidence intervals.

The panel's schizophrenia is very evident here, because, having set out these methods, they do not apply these methods to the models in front of them. D'Arrigo et al 2006 report that their model does not verify after 1985 during the period of warming of most direct interest. The panel was aware of this, the matter came up in presentations, but did not directly report or discuss this.

The panel recommends the use of a Durbin-Watson statistic for calibration, but do not report the failure of the various models under this statistic, even though they were aware of this failure. (We presented this information to them in our presentation. ...

More here


They will need lots more trailer parks for the poor in future

New Mexico is spearheading a national effort to redefine building standards so that they reduce emissions linked to global warming. The "2030 Challenge" is a national initiative backed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. The challenge seeks to immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new buildings and to make all buildings completely independent of fossil-fuel energy by the year 2030. It has so far been embraced by the mayors of Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Chicago, Miami and Seattle, all of whom have ordered that new city-owned buildings adhere to the standards.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson issued an executive order earlier this year requiring that all new state buildings and major renovations meet the challenge's call for a 50 percent reduction in fossil fuel energy consumption from what traditional buildings use. The New Mexico Environment Department tracks state emissions and reports them as a member of the Chicago Climate Exchange, a voluntary, legally binding program whose members agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one percent each year. The 2030 Challenge calls for new building standards to go into place every five years, with each new round of standards further reducing energy use in new buildings by another 10 percent. By 2030, the challenge calls for new buildings to be completely free from a dependence on fossil fuels and to not release greenhouse gasses....

Bruce Milne, a biology professor and director of the Sustainability Studies Program at the University of New Mexico, says of the 2030 plan, "in my mind, it's the only strategy that is designed to work," explaining that the plan sets a specific goal for states to meet in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Milne was recently appointed to serve on Gov. Richardson's climate change advisory group. He says the group has come up with 70 ideas on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and possible incentives to make it work. One of those ideas, he says, includes a tax break for businesses that adopt clean energy policies and for farmers who convert manure into renewable energy. He says any tax incentive would have to be passed by the state Legislature and that the group hopes to propose such incentives to the 2007 session.

More here


There's lots of talk about nasty-sounding "chemicals" ("liquid fluoride"!) below so a Greenie would froth just to read it

The generation and use of energy is central to the maintenance of organization. Life itself is a state of organization maintained by the continual use of sources of energy. Human civilization has reached the state it has by the widespread use of energy, and for the large fraction of the world that aspires to a higher standard of living, more energy will be required for them to achieve it.

Therefore, I embrace the idea that we need energy, and probably need much more of it than we currently have. We should never waste energy, and should always seek to use energy efficiently as possible and practical, but energy itself will always be needed.

This weblog is about the use of thorium as an energy source of sufficient magnitude for thousands of years of future energy needs. Thorium, if used efficiently, can be converted to energy far more easily and safely than any other energy source of comparable magnitude, including nuclear fusion and uranium fission.

Briefly, my basic principles are:

1. Nuclear reactions (changes in the binding energy of nuclei) release about a million times more energy than chemical reactions (changes in the binding energy of electrons), therefore, it is logical to pursue nuclear reactions as dense sources of energy.

2. Changing the binding energy of the nucleus with uncharged particles (neutrons inducing fission) is much easier than changing the nuclear state with charged particles (fusion), because fission does not contend with electrostatic repulsion as fusion does.

3. Naturally occuring fissile material (uranium-235) will not sustain us for millennia due to its scarcity. We must fission fertile isotopes (uranium-238, thorium-232) which are abundant in order to sustain energy production for millenia. Fertile isotopes such as U-238 and Th-232 basically require 2 neutrons to fission (one to convert, one to fission), and require fission reactions that generate more than 2 neutrons per absorption in a fissile nucleus.

3. For maximum safety, nuclear reactions should proceed in a thermal (slowed-down) neutron spectrum because only thermal reactors can be designed to be in their most critical configuration, where any alteration to the reactor configuration (whether through accident or intention) leads to less nuclear reactions, not more. Thermal reactors also afford more options for achieving negative temperature coefficients of reactivity (which are the basic measurement of the safety of a nuclear reactor). Reactors that require neutrons that have not been slowed significantly from their initial energy (fast-spectrum reactors) can always be altered in some fashion, either through accident or intention, into a more critical configuration that could be dangerously uncontrollable because of the increased reactivity of the fuel. Basically, any fast-spectrum reactor that is barely critical will be extremely supercritical if its neutrons are moderated in some way.

4. "Burning" uranium-238 produces a fissile isotope (plutonium-239) that "burns" inefficiently in a thermal (slowed-down) neutron spectrum and does not produce enough neutrons to sustain the consumption of uranium-238. "Burning" thorium-232 produces a fissile isotope (uranium-233) that burns efficiently in a thermal neutron spectrum and produces enough neutrons to sustain the consumption of thorium. Therefore, thorium is a preferable fuel, if used in a neutronically efficient reactor.

5. Achieving high neutronic efficiency in solid-fueled nuclear reactors is difficult because the fuel sustains radiation damage, the fuel retains gaseous xenon (which is a strong neutron poison), and solid fuel is difficult to reprocess because it must be converted to a liquid stream before it is reprocessed.

6. Fluid-fuel reactors can continuously strip xenon and adjust the concentration of fuel and fission products while operating. More importantly, they have an inherently strong negative temperature coefficient of reactivity which leads to inherent safety and vastly simplified control. Furthermore, decay heat from fission products can be passively removed (in case of an accident) by draining the core fluid into a passively cooled configuration.

7. Liquid-fluoride reactors have all the advantages of a fluid-fueled reactor plus they are chemically stable across a large temperature range, are impervious to radiation damage due to the ionic nature of their chemical bond. They can dissolve sufficient amounts of nuclear fuel (thorium, uranium) in the form of tetrafluorides in a neutronically inert carrier salt (lithium7 fluoride-beryllium fluoride). This leads to the capability for high-temperature, low-pressure operation, no fuel damage, and no danger of fuel precipitation and concentration.

8. The liquid-fluoride reactor is very neutronically efficient due to its lack of core internals and neutron absorbers; it does not need "burnable poisons" to control reactivity because reactivity can continuously be added. The reactor can achieve the conversion ratio (1.0) to "burn" thorium, and has superior operational, safety, and development characteristics.

9. Liquid-fluoride reactors can retain actinides while discharging only fission products, which will decay to background levels of radiation in ~300 years and do not require long duration (>10,000 year) geologic burial.

10. A liquid-fluoride reactor operating only on thorium and using a "start charge" of pure U-233 will produce almost no transuranic isotopes. This is because neutron capture in U-233 (which occurs about 10% of the time) will produce U-234, which will further absorb another neutron to produce U-235, which is fissile. U-235 will fission about 85% of the time in a thermal-neutron spectrum, and when it doesn't it will produce U-236. U-236 will further absorb another neutron to produce Np-237, which will be removed by the fluorination system. But the production rate of Np-237 will be exceedingly low because of all the fission "off-ramps" in its production.

11. We must build thousands of thorium reactors to displace coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium as energy sources. This would be impractical if liquid-fluoride reactors were as difficult to build as pressurized water reactors. But they will be much simpler and smaller for several reasons. They will operate at a higher power density (leading to a smaller core), they will not need refueling shutdowns (eliminating the complicated refueling equipment), they will operate at ambient pressure and have no pressurized water in the core (shrinking the containment vessel dramatically), they will not require the complicated emergency core cooling systems and their backups that solid-core reactors require (because of their passive approach to decay heat removal), and their power conversion system will be much smaller and power-dense (since in a closed-cycle gas turbine you can vary both initial cycle pressure and overall pressure ratio). In short, these plants will be much smaller, much simpler, much, much safer, and more secure.

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.


24 June 2006


Many countries may be grossly underestimating the quantity of greenhouse gases they emit according to a new method of monitoring output, scientists said on Wednesday. The new "top-down" system measures the actual amount of gases such as carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere, compared with the traditional "bottom-up" method which estimates what is likely to be produced on the ground. The findings, still the subject of scientific debate, could destabilise the European Union's fledgling carbon trading system and have implications for the Kyoto treaty.

"Work at the (European Commission's) Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Italy suggests huge under-reporting of many national CH4 (methane) emissions," said Euan Nisbet of London's Royal Holloway University. "Top-down science is still somewhat in its infancy. But the gas they measure is there, not an estimate of what they think should be there," he told Reuters.

According to work by Peter Bergamaschi at the JRC in Ispra, Italy, top-down science suggests that Britain may be reporting only half its actual methane emissions and France only two-thirds, the magazine New Scientist said on Wednesday. By contrast, Ireland and Finland may be over-reporting the methane coming from their peat bogs.

Britain defended its estimates on Wednesday, saying they were calculated in line with international guidelines reviewed each year by independent international experts. The government's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said in a statement that it believed Bergamaschi overestimated British methane emissions by at least half. "Bergamaschi's work cannot separate natural methane emissions from man-made ones. There is significant uncertainty in how much natural methane is produced in the UK, which is carried into Bergamaschi's model," DEFRA said.

Nisbet said making the same calculations for carbon dioxide, more plentiful but less damaging, was more complicated. The world needed a chain of monitoring stations, similar to the seismic system set up in the 1950s to monitor nuclear bomb tests, he said. Nisbet said China, which is building a coal-fired power station a week to fuel its booming economy, had good monitoring as had Canada, as well as Kyoto refuseniks the United States and Australia. There was virtually no monitoring in South Asia, very little in Africa and the tropical oceans were scantily covered.

Reuters, 22 June 2006


Global-warming alarmists take it for granted that they have the "scientific consensus" on their side. The truth is that their views can be as much an article of faith that avoids or elides basic facts. I was reminded of this recently after suggesting on our weekly television show--"The Journal Editorial Report" on Fox News Channel--that "everyone agrees there has been some warming over the past century, but most of it happened before 1940."

"Not true," declared a subsequent editorial in the New Republic magazine. "The last three decades have seen the sharpest rise." TNR suggested I was what they've dubbed an "Exx-Con"--that is, a conservative whose views on climate change are so unmoored from reality that they can only be explained by a slavish devotion to Exxon and other big oil firms.

But it is TNR that's having trouble with the facts here. I'll grant that my off-the-cuff remarks could have been worded a bit more precisely. I probably should have said "more than half" instead of "most." But that doesn't change the fact--as the NASA charts nearby illustrate--that the early 20th century saw a rise in global and U.S. temperature, followed by about three decades of declining or stable temperatures that global-warming alarmists have a hard time trying to explain. (Don't let the slope of the chart scare you either; we're looking at small variations here.)

The relevant part of TNR's May 25 piece seems to be based on an innumerate May 16 attack on me at the far-left Web site Mediamatters said almost identically that "the last three decades (1976-2005) have seen a sharper rise in global air temperature." But rather than fess up to its source, TNR responded to my complaint with the pretense of assigning a fact-checker to the case before deciding there would be no correction.

The Mediamatters attack suggests I'm wrong because the difference between the coldest early-20th-century year and the warmest mid-century year is very slightly smaller that the difference between 1976 and 2005. But if the issue is by what date "most" of the warming occurred, there are three relevant data points, not four--the 1970s trough doesn't matter. And the difference between 1907 (the coldest year) and 1944 (the warmest mid-century) is .59 degrees Celsius, while the difference between 1944 and 2005 is .42 degrees. "Most" of the warming that has taken place over the last century had indeed occurred by about 1940.

One could leave it at that. But I want to avoid the other mistake my critics make, which is thinking that long-term temperature trends should be measured by the difference between single, and possibly anomalous, years. That's why the NASA graphs contain a line representing the five-year rolling average. Looking at things this way still supports my point, admittedly a bit less so.

In any case, the graph at issue presents a challenge to those who claim that the recent warming trend is primarily caused by carbon dioxide and is not part of a natural rebound from a cool 19th century. The early 20th century saw a rise in temperature rise at least as great. And far, far more CO2 has been pumped into the atmosphere in the years following 1940 than the years before.

What's more, there's a debate over whether recent global data is biased upward by the fact that many measuring stations are located in or near cities around the world that have grown rapidly over the past half-century. Anyone who's ever crossed the George Washington Bridge can understand the concept of the urban "heat island" effect.

In that regard, a recent study of Greenland--where allegedly melting glaciers are allegedly threatening a catastrophic sea-level rise--published in Geophysical Research Letters is fascinating. It finds that Greenland is no warmer today than it was in the 1920s, and that "although there has been a considerable temperature increase during the last decade (1995-2005) a similar increase occurred during the early part of the 20th century (1920-1930) when carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases could not be a cause." The U.S. temperature graph shows much the same. The U.S. inarguably produces more reliable data than most other countries, or the sparsely sampled oceans that cover most of the globe, and we've seen very little warming since the 1930s.

Finally, a word about motive. Why wouldn't I want to be on the safe side and embrace the Kyoto Protocol? Not because of an attachment to oil companies, but because meaningful CO2 cutbacks would entail drastic reductions in energy use by billions of people in places like China and India who are finally getting a chance at a better life. The New Republic doesn't seem to have addressed such consequences in any serious way. Attempting to wave someone out of the argument by calling them an Exx-con is much easier than confronting the difficult facts beneath the global warming debate.

The Wall Street Journal, 21 June 2006

Wind farm 'hits eagle numbers'

Wind farm turbine blades are killing a key population of Europe's largest bird of prey, UK wildlife campaigners warn. The RSPB says nine white tailed eagles have been killed on the Smola islands off the Norwegian coast in 10 months, including all of last year's chicks. Chick numbers at the species' former stronghold have plummeted since the wind farm was built, with breeding pairs at the site down from 19 to one. Scientists fear wind farms planned elsewhere could also harm birds. And there are fears Britain's small population of the birds could be adversely affected.

The number of chicks born each year at the site has fallen from at least 10 to three last year, with births outside the borders of the site falling too. Only one chick is expected to fledge from the site this year. Smola, a set of islands six miles off the north-west coast of Norway, was designated an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International in 1989 because it had one of the highest densities of white tailed eagles in the world.

Scientists now fear wind farms planned for the rest of Norway could have a similar impact on the birds. RSPB conservation director Mark Avery told BBC News more care needed to be taken when choosing a site for wind farms. He said: "The problem is if wind farms are put in stupid places where there are lots of vulnerable birds and lots of vulnerable rare birds." He said most wind farms would not cause any harm to birds but that the Smola wind farm had been badly sited in a place where it put white tailed eagles at risk. He said: "It seems these birds are flying around a lot of the time and they're colliding with the wind turbines and being killed in big numbers. "So this colony that is very important - was very important - has been practically wiped out because this wind farm was built in exactly the wrong place."

The RSPB says it supports renewable energy, including wind farms, as a way of tackling climate change, which it sees as the biggest threat to wildlife. But it is urging developers and governments to take the potential impact on wildlife such as eagles properly into consideration when planning new wind farms in future.

Researchers are now running weekly checks for dead birds at the 68-turbine Smola site, with both conservationists and the wind farm operator calling on the Norwegian government to improve its environmental impact assessments of such sites. And the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research has launched a four-year study at the site to assess the impact of the turbines on various species of birds and the ability of white tailed eagles to adapt to them. Meanwhile, Statkraft, which operates the Smola site, says it is doing everything it can to find a solution to the problem


Leftist radiation hysteria in Australia

Deputy Opposition Leader Jenny Macklin's workout with the dog whistle on nuclear issues would put a bull elephant to shame. Macklin has found a pliant media open to her bellowing and willing to run the sort of nuclear scare campaign which could have brought the Cold War to boiling point. Mischievously, she has made a series of accusations about incidents at the Lucas Heights nuclear facility which bear little relation to the scope or magnitude and, too frequently, the press has not checked the facts before publishing her overblown claims.

In the past week, headlines have ranged from "Safety scare for nuclear workforce" to "Radioactive gas leak -- Lucas Heights worker contaminated in pipe rupture" but, before donning safety suits, it is worth looking at the facts and determining who actually poses the greater threat to public safety, Lucas Heights or Macklin. With her insinuations and accusations, she is not dissimilar to the menace who dangerously encourages panic by calling "fire" in a crowded cinema. Her exaggerated concern about the few incidents at Lucas Heights is ludicrous as not one has been of the level necessary to be reported to the regulator, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Authority (ARPANSA). Not one.

The terms of the Act and the licences issued by ARPANSA require details of any significance -- the exposure of a worker beyond regulatory limits -- to be provided in 24 hours. Other less significant events are reported to ARPANSA during routine quarterly reporting. There were three incidents in the past week in addition to a pipe rupture the previous week, which released very low levels of radioactive gas (common in radiopharmaceutical production), which again were not reportable to ARPANSA. Each was of a minor nature and there are no continuing concerns for the health of the workers. Not one of the incidents occurred in the reactor but in places well removed from its vicinity.

According to ANSTO, in the first of the three incidents on June 14, a worker received a low radiation dose of iodine-123, used in the diagnosis of thyroid cancer, while packaging the product for patient use. He received 4 per cent of the annual limit for radiation workers and significantly less than a patient would in a nuclear medicine scan. He did not need any treatment and continued to work.

In the next incident, a worker's trousers and shoes were contaminated on June 15 when he dropped a vial with a small amount of technetium-99m. His skin was not contaminated and his clothing was cleaned. He did not receive radiation above that associated with normal work.

The day after, a worker at the National Medical Cyclotron in Camperdown was cleaning up waste in a thallium-201 production area when a pack of radioactive material burst. A small splash found its way beneath his safety glasses and into his eye. He had his eye washed at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital next door. He received less than 1 per cent of the annual radiation dose for an eye, but as chemicals were involved, he was also seen by an eye specialist.

For all Macklin's blustering, such incidents would not normally be reported outside ANSTO because the dose levels were significantly less than the reportable amount and there were no releases of radioactivity outside the laboratories. But she is blowing the dog whistle for all she is worth because of the need for Labor to corral the green, anti-nuclear, anti-development vote.

More here


Dozens of motorists have been stranded by blizzard conditions in New Zealand's North Island as heavy snowfall closes all main roads through the region. Temperatures in the central North Island plummeted to -10 degrees Celsius overnight and it is still snowing. Until crews can clear roads the only way to travel between Auckland and Wellington is via the west coast state highway through Taranaki. Motorists and semi-trailers have been stranded by the snow and landslides, and schools in the worst affected areas are likely to be closed again today. Civil defence authorities are also bracing themselves for flooding in Gisborne and Hawkes Bay after forecasts that they are in for another 150 millimetres of rain. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Helen Clark today will visit parts of the South Island that are still without power, 12 days after a severe snow storm.



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 June 2006


(Post lifted from The Good Blair)

Reported in The Guardian:

Climate change is bringing animals out of hibernation prematurely, making them lose weight and causing them stress, Italian scientists said yesterday. Spring-like temperatures too early in the year are waking animals up sooner and putting their feeding and breeding habits out of kilter with the environment.

Meanwhile, in Canada:

Bears in the suburbs north of Vancouver have been coming out of hibernation as hungry as ever but later than usual this spring because of a heavier than normal snowpack from the winter. The report Thursday was one of six complaints police said they received about bears in the area that day.

Not cold enough for some; too cold for others. Why can't the weather be perfect all the time? I blame humans.

Do I see a new psychological syndrome on the horizon?

(Post lifted from The Locker Room. Salesmen do tend to end up believing their own propaganda)

Rob Bradley--energy expert extraordinaire sent out this clip from "The Houston Environmental News Update" which lists announcements of interest to enviros. This was one of the announcements.



Houston Climate Protection Alliance's meeting on Sunday, June 18, will discuss the emotional toll of dealing with such issues as global warming, pollution, overpopulation, eco-footprinting, and energy supply vs. demand. Nan Hildreth, a co founder of the group, asks, "Have you ever cried, raged, or carried a cold ball of fear in your gut over what you see happening to our biosphere?" She says these feelings are often reasonable, but if they continue too long they are bad for you and can impair your effectiveness as an activist. The meeting will feature Tim Mock and others who will discuss and share ways to improve emotional coping skills. The meeting is from 1 - 3pm at First Unitarian Universalist Church, 5200 Fannin at Southmore, Room 303. For more information, contact Nan Hildreth at (713) 842-6643."


Success in the search for a bull that eats and burps less is tipped to curb the nation's greenhouse emissions by more than half a million tonnes over the next 25 years. Scientists from NSW's Department of Primary Industries have been working for the past 15 years to find a way to breed more efficient beef cattle. When cattle munch a meal, explained one researcher, Robert Herd, much of the food is converted by fermentation into methane gas. "Ten per cent of the energy eaten is just burped off," he said, adding that feed was the biggest cost in raising beef cattle.

His team found that certain cattle can eat significantly less food, and thus belch less gas, but somehow grow as much steak as regular animals. They also discovered the cattle carry a protein that could be used as a genetic flag to signal the special talent. After a decade of research, the scientists came up with a blood analysis that has been developed into a commercial test for selecting bulls able to breed the most food-efficient cows and steers.

Although it has been developed to cut farming costs, the scientists now believe the burp-reduced cattle will also help fight global warming, because methane is also a greenhouse gas, many times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Another member of the research team, Andrew Alford, has calculated that even by the most conservative estimates, the cattle should reduce Australia's methane emissions by 568,100 tonnes over 25 years - a 3 per cent reduction in the gas belched by beef herds. If methane-efficient cattle were used by all farmers, the reduction could be up to 16 per cent. Mr Alford said that if a carbon trading program was introduced, the reduced belching could even be worth money to farmers - about $2.16 per cow each year. "The estimated 568,100 tonnes of methane abated over the 25 years could, on current values for carbon trading, imply an annual return of $5 million across the national beef industry."

Australia's livestock is blamed for about 12.3 per cent of national greenhouse emissions. Stopping 568,100 tonnes of methane from entering the atmosphere, the scientists said, is equal to blocking 11.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. The leader of the department's methane research effort, Roger Hegarty, said it may be possible to develop other methane-efficient animals, including sheep. He said that if a tax was ever levied on greenhouse emissions, curbing livestock belching would be crucial for farmers. Dr Hegarty estimated 95 per cent of methane from beef cattle was belched. The rest, he said, was "flatulence".



In his State of the Union Address, President Bush said that "America is addicted to oil." But it would be more accurate to say that America is addicted to opportunity, and oil and its products help us seize it. American oil consumption is indeed rising, from more than 15 million barrels a day in the early 1980s to more than 20 million today. It is likely to continue to increase--another 33% over the next 25 years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy--because crude oil is a useful substance. Some 40% of our oil consumption is for cars and light trucks; 32% for buses, railroads, ships, trucks and agricultural machinery; and another 17% goes into petrochemicals to produce products from plastic to paint. These uses represent opportunities, not addictions.

The problem is that America's domestic petroleum production has significantly declined, from 10 million barrels a day in 1970 to about 5 million today. Our response has been increasing importation of oil, now more than 12 million barrels a day. So expanding America's energy production is the obvious priority. Common sense would suggest that we should begin tapping into the estimated 102 billion barrels of oil sitting under America's Outer Continental Shelf and in Alaska. That domestic supply could replace America's importation of foreign oil for some 25 years. But our country's political establishment, from Congress to the press and the presidency, has worked for a quarter century to prevent increases in our energy supply.

In 1980 President Carter imposed a "windfall profits" tax on oil companies, which raised $40 billion rather than the $227 billion promised. Rather than easing energy shortages, the tax reduced domestic oil production by between 3% and 6% and gave imported oil from foreign countries a competitive advantage that increased imports of foreign oil by about 10%.

In 1990 the first President Bush issued a presidential directive forbidding access to about 85% of Outer Continental Shelf oil and natural gas reserves. In 1998 President Clinton extended the moratorium through 2012.

In 1995 Mr. Clinton vetoed a budget bill that would have allowed oil exploration and drilling in part of the Alaska Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. Prudhoe Bay fields, just to the west of ANWR, have delivered 15 billion barrels of oil through the Alaska pipeline to the U.S. market without damage to Alaskan land, caribou or other wildlife. ANWR contains 10 billion barrels of oil, so Mr. Clinton's veto today is costing America about a million barrels of oil each day. Yet Congress has repeatedly defeated efforts to open ANWR to exploration.

As the Heritage Foundation points out, the U.S. "is the only nation in the world that has placed a significant amount of its potential domestic energy supplies off-limits." Congress has also limited the capacity to refine our oil. After Hurricane Katrina, a bill to streamline the refinery permitting process--we have not built a new one since 1976--and encourage the building of refineries on closed military bases was blocked in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee when every Democratic senator, along with Jim Jeffords (I., Vt) and Lincoln Chaffee (R., R.I.) voted "no."

We could reduce our importation of, and "addiction" to, foreign oil in various ways. Nuclear power is one. We have 104 nuclear power plants in operation in America that provide clean energy and decrease by 700 million tons the CO2 released into our atmosphere each year. But we have stopped building nuclear power plants: Construction of the last one began three decades ago. President Bush has proposed the Nuclear Power 2010 Initiative to facilitate plant construction. Sixteen companies have expressed interest, and 25 new nuclear plants are under consideration.

Offshore drilling for natural gas is another way. There are some 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas on the Outer Continental Shelf. We currently consume about 23 trillion cubic feet per year, so that amounts to a 19-year supply. But the House last month voted 217-203 to block the opening of some Outer Continental Shelf areas to natural gas exploration and drilling.

Then there is ethanol, the heavily subsidized energy produced from crops like corn, soybeans and sunflowers. Ethanol producers receive a 51-cent-a-gallon federal subsidy, which cost the government $1.4 billion last year, and are protected from international ethanol imports by a 2.5% tariff and an import duty of 54 cents a gallon. But it is not clear that ethanol is a good economic or energy bargain. Producing it requires diesel fuel for tractors to plant and harvest the corn and fertilizers, and pesticides to allow it to grow, so it takes about seven barrels of oil to produce eight barrels of corn-based ethanol. But then more truck or rail fuel is required to deliver it, since there are no pipelines from corn country to urban areas, making shipping ethanol about double the cost of shipping gasoline. In the end ethanol may be a more expensive fuel. Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) says there is no policy reason for ethanol: "If the ethanol producers and the corn growers weren't benefiting from this, we wouldn't be doing it."

Cleaner coal technology--we have 200 years worth of coal--is being pursued, as are other energy sources such as wind and solar power that may ultimately be some help in meeting our energy needs. So what does the political establishment think of all these energy alternatives? Except for ethanol, wind and solar power, not much. Sen. Hillary Clinton's energy speech to the National Press Club last month perfectly (and politically correctly) makes the establishment's point. Yes, she is for wind power, solar power and increasing the amount of oil stored in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, all good things. But she is also:

* For a windfall profits tax on oil (though she doesn't call it that), which would, as in 1980, reduce domestic oil production; and for higher taxes on oil companies so government, rather than the market economy, can regulate energy production.

* Against the construction of additional nuclear power plants--America's cleanest source of energy--because of her "real concerns" about the "quality of the oversight provided by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission." That translates into not enough governmental control over an industry that is too hot to touch politically.

* Against ANWR drilling (she has voted against it half a dozen times), and against additional offshore drilling.

* For greatly expanded--and greatly subsidized--ethanol production.

Her overall goal is "reducing our dependence on foreign oil by at least 50% by 2025." But expanding nuclear power, drilling for the proven reserves of oil and gas off our coasts, and even eliminating the ethanol import tariffs and subsidies all are politically incorrect energy policies that the Washington establishment will not permit. That's too bad, because they are the correct policies that would help a great many Americans enjoy greater opportunity. But that's the political establishment's thinking, which makes government control--not oil--the addiction that is misdirecting our national energy policy.



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 June 2006

Why Liberals Fear Global Warming More Than Conservatives Do

Observers of contemporary society will surely have noted that a liberal is far more likely to fear global warming than a conservative. Why is this? After all, if the science is as conclusive as Al Gore, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times and virtually every other spokesman of the Left says it is, conservatives are just as likely to be scorched and drowned and otherwise done in by global warming as liberals will. So why aren't non-leftists nearly as exercised as leftists are? Do conservatives handle heat better? Are libertarians better swimmers? Do religious people love their children less?

The usual liberal responses -- to label a conservative position racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic or the like -- obviously don't apply here. So, liberals would have to fall back on the one remaining all-purpose liberal explanation: "big business." They might therefore explain the conservative-liberal divide over global warming thus: Conservatives don't care about global warming because they prefer corporate profits to saving the planet. But such an explanation could not explain the vast majority of conservatives who are not in any way tied into the corporate world (like this writer, who has no stocks and who, moreover, regards big business as amoral as leftists do).

No, the usual liberal dismissals of conservatives and their positions just don't explain this particularly illuminating difference between liberals and conservatives. Here are six more likely explanations:

-- The Left is prone to hysteria. The belief that global warming will destroy the world is but one of many hysterical notions held on the Left. As noted in a previous column devoted to the Left and hysteria, many on the Left have been hysterical about the dangers of the PATRIOT Act and the NSA surveillance of phone numbers (incipient fascism); secondhand smoke (killing vast numbers of people); drilling in the remotest area of Alaska (major environmental despoliation); and opposition to same-sex marriage (imminent Christian theocracy).

-- The Left believes that if The New York Times and other liberal news sources report something, it is true. If the cover of Time magazine says, "Global Warming: Be Worried, Very Worried," liberals get worried, very worried, about global warming. It is noteworthy that liberals, one of whose mottos is "question authority," so rarely question the authority of the mainstream media. Now, of course, conservatives, too, often believe mainstream media. But conservatives have other sources of news that enable them to achieve the liberal ideal of questioning authority. Whereas few liberals ever read non-liberal sources of information or listen to conservative talk radio, the great majority of conservatives are regularly exposed to liberal news, liberal editorials and liberal films, and they have also received many years of liberal education.

-- The Left believes in experts. Of course, every rational person, liberal or conservative, trusts the expertise of experts -- such as when experts in biology explain the workings of mitochondria, or when experts in astronomy describe the moons of Jupiter. But for liberals, "expert" has come to mean far more than greater knowledge in a given area. It now means two additional things: One is that non-experts should defer to experts not only on matters of knowledge, but on matters of policy, as well. The second is that experts possess greater wisdom about life, not merely greater knowledge in their area of expertise. That is why liberals are far more likely to be impressed when a Nobel Prize winner in, let us say, physics signs an ad against war or against capital punishment. The liberal is bowled over by the title "Nobel laureate." The conservative is more likely to wonder why a Nobel laureate in physics has anything more meaningful to say about war than, let us say, a taxi driver.

-- People who don't confront the greatest evils will confront far lesser ones. Most humans know the world is morally disordered -- and socially conscious humans therefore try to fight what they deem to be most responsible for that disorder. The Right tends to fight human evil such as communism and Islamic totalitarianism. The Left avoids confronting such evils and concentrates its attention instead on socioeconomic inequality, environmental problems and capitalism. Global warming meets all three of these criteria of evil. By burning fossil fuels, rich countries pollute more, the environment is being despoiled and big business increases its profits.

-- The Left is far more likely to revere, even worship, nature. A threat to the environment is regarded by many on the Left as a threat to what is most sacred to them, and therefore deemed to be the greatest threat humanity faces. The cover of Vanity Fair's recent "Special Green Issue" declared: "A Graver Threat Than Terrorism: Global Warming." Conservatives, more concerned with human evil, hold the very opposite view: Islamic terror is a far graver threat than global warming.

-- Leftists tend to fear dying more. That is one reason they are more exercised about our waging war against evil than about the evils committed by those we fight. The number of Iraqis and others Saddam Hussein murdered troubles the Left considerably less than even the remote possibility than they may one day die of global warming (or secondhand smoke).

One day, our grandchildren may ask us what we did when Islamic fascism threatened the free world. Some of us will say we were preoccupied with fighting that threat wherever possible; others will be able to say they fought carbon dioxide emissions. One of us will look bad.


'No subsidy needed' for new nuclear generators

Nuclear power stations are economically viable without government guarantee or subsidy, the chief executive of British Energy claimed yesterday. The head of the company that supplies a fifth of Britain's electricity said that the cost of replacing ageing nuclear generators was highly competitive compared with funding new gas powered stations, lean coal stations and other technologies, including some sources of renewable power. Bill Coley, a 40-year veteran of the nuclear industry, said: "I don't believe that nuclear power requires any subsidy to make it viable in the market place. There are great examples of new nuclear plant in place in other countries at very competitive prices."

Mr Coley's comments follow speculation that the Prime Minister is to rule out financial incentives for new nuclear power plants when he announces the Government's new energy strategy next month. According to internal Whitehall studies, which have been discussed with the Treasury, soaring gas prices and the rising cost of tradeable carbon permits will make the construction, operation and decommissioning of nuclear plants commercially attractive. Previously it has been argued that new nuclear stations would require huge subsidies, an argument that appeared to be supported by the financial collapse of British Energy four years ago, when wholesale power prices plunged.

Mr Coley, who joined British Energy 15 months ago, also appeared to rule out indirect market subsidies for nuclear power yesterday. He said many studies had demonstrated that nuclear power stations could be built at present for about 30 pounds per megawatt hour, with a breakeven level of 20 pounds per megawatt hour. "Price is not the barrier, the biggest barriers here are the time it takes to get permits and planning," Mr Coley said.

However, Mr Coley and Steven Billingham, British Energy's finance director, believe that the current merchant generator environment - in which standalone power stations sell their output to the highest bidder through a mixture of short and long-term contracts - is unsuitable for nuclear power, which has relatively high fixed costs and cannot be switched on and off to take advantage of peak prices. One option under discussion in the industry is that new nuclear power stations would require substantial "off-take agreements" either with large energy retailers, such as British Gas, or major industry groups, such as the chemical or paper-making industries.

British Energy receives an average realised price of 32 pounds per megawatt hour but has sold three quarters of this year's output at 43 pounds per megawatt hour. Since British Energy was restructured, the Government has the right to take 65 per cent of the generator's free cashflow - 105 million pounds in the year to 2006. The company is also prevented from building new nuclear power stations until 2010. However, Mr Coley hopes that the Government will find a role for British Energy if it decides to build new nuclear power stations


Cockatoo may pulp proposal for mill

A $650 million pulp mill in South Australia is under threat from the red-tail black cockatoo, despite the bird never being seen on the planned site. The Environment Department in Canberra insists the project needs federal approval because of the potential dangers it poses to the rare cockatoo, for which the closest feeding spot is 4km away. The developer of the Penola Pulp Mill, due to begin production by 2009, warned yesterday that the intervention could threaten the project, which is expected to generate more than 600 jobs during construction and permanently employ 120 people. It would produce 350,000 tonnes of pulp a year.

The mill's project manager, John Roche, told The Australian he was alarmed by the Environment Department's move, given that federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell had blocked a Victorian wind farm because of a perceived threat to the orange-bellied parrot. Senator Campbell's decision to bar the Bald Hill wind farm sparked a state rights brawl between Canberra and Victoria, with the Bracks Government launching a Federal Court challenge in an attempt to overturn the decision. The wind farm battle also exposed a number of other projects around the country that were investigated after being identified by Senator Campbell's department as potential threats to native wildlife.

Under the pulp mill plan, Penola intended to remove seven 200-year-old river red gums that contained hollows potentially suitable for nesting by the cockatoos, which number about 1000 and are listed as nationally threatened species.

Mr Roche said he was concerned by the decision, given the Bald Hills wind farm block. "It plays on our mind because that was a project that was fully approved and then turned over," he said. A spokesman for Senator Campbell said last night the minister could not comment while the department was conducting the approval process. The department will investigate whether removing the trees would harm the cockatoo. If the tree removal were found to threaten the future of the cockatoo, Senator Campbell could veto the project.

In a submission to the department, Penola acknowledged the seven river red gums contained large hollows suitable for nesting by the cockatoo. It said that while 95 per cent of cockatoo nesting activities were within 2km of known foraging sites, the planned pulp mill was 4km to 5km from the nearest foraging site. Anecdotal evidence from landowners indicated no cockatoos had been seen nesting in the trees.

As a compromise, Penola plans to set aside a 200ha conservation area with hundreds of mature trees, including river red gums. Birds South-East president Bryan Haywood welcomed the compromise last night and said birdwatchers did not want the project stopped. However, he said they were opposed to unnecessary clearing of potential nesting habitat as it took more than 100 years for a hollow to develop in a tree.

Mr Roche said the mill was now subject to environmental and planning assessments at a local, state and federal level. The project would be considered for approval by the local council over the next three months. "There has probably been tens of thousands of these trees cut down in the past 10 years for plantations," he said. The project could be at risk if the approval process was not completed quickly, he said. "The cockatoos are the most significant environmental hurdle we face. All of the other work is done. Air, noise, water. There is no impact."



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 June 2006


How fast is global energy use growing? Is climate change getting worse? And will we face a worldwide oil shortage soon? These questions, and more, were addressed at last week's launch of BP's Statistical Review of World Energy. For more than half a century, BP has produced an annual compendium of data on global energy trends. Always of interest, this year's effort left me reassured, but worried too.

The backdrop to this report, of course, is a sharp rise in energy prices - particularly oil. Brent crude averaged $55 a barrel in 2005, up from $38 the previous year. So far in 2006, oil has surged again, averaging $65 a barrel and peaking at $74 in May. For a while the global economy sailed on regardless. But in recent months expensive oil has begun seeping through into inflation. Across the world, interest rates are rising and stock markets convulsing as a result of sky-high energy costs. The UK is not immune. A rate rise is now almost inevitable, possibly as soon as August, after last week's news that inflation had breached the Bank of England's 2 per cent target. Again, the reason is the cost of fuel.

Yet BP's report shows the world is reacting to soaring oil and gas prices by stemming its energy use. In 2005 world energy demand grew by 2.7 per cent, down sharply from 4.4 per cent the previous year. In the US, the world's largest energy consumer, demand actually fell - even though the economy grew by 3.5 per cent. So, for the first time in more than two decades, the US combined above-trend growth with an absolute decline in fuel consumption. That is good news.

BP's data shows that the world is tailoring its energy use, too - switching to relatively cheaper sources. Gas prices, for instance, have risen much less than the price of oil. As a result, global gas demand grew by 2.3 per cent last year while oil use rose by only 1.3 per cent. That, again, is reassuring.

But when you look elsewhere in the report, you discover that coal - the "dirtiest" fuel source - has taken up much of the energy slack. Coal is the world's fastest growing fuel, with consumption up by 5 per cent last year, driven in large part by an almost insatiable demand from power stations in China. This is worrying. The current concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 380 parts per million. As the world switches away from expensive oil and gas towards cheap coal, the environment is taking the strain. As Lord Browne, BP's chief executive, observed: "The level of emissions worldwide is now about 20 per cent higher than when the Kyoto protocol was signed in 1997."

Nor is it likely that "renewable" energy sources will come to the rescue. BP stressed its commitment in this area - announcing a 270 million pound investment to create a "biosciences energy research laboratory" attached to a major university. But its report makes clear that wind power accounted for only 0.7 per cent of global electricity production in 2005. Even the much-vaunted use of ethanol generated energy equivalent to a mere 0.4 per cent of global oil use.

Perhaps the biggest long-term concern is that the oil will simply run out - with global production peaking in the near future and then spiralling into decline. Until quite recently, such "peak oil" theories were largely confined to doom-mongers and cranks. But earlier this month the boss of French-owned Total, one of the world's major oil outfits, said global demand was so strong that production could peak as early as 2020.

Browne adopted his most persuasive voice to try to knock this view into touch. "There isn't a shortage of oil reserves," he said. "There really isn't". But buried in BP's report is an interesting - and chilling - fact. Between 1985 and 1995 global oil reserves grew by 3 per cent per year as new fields were discovered. Last year, in contrast, reserves increased by only 0.55 per cent - despite sky-high prices and a desperate search for new oil. I look forward to next year's BP Energy Review, particularly to seeing that crucial figure on the growth in oil reserves.

Sticking with oil, last week I visited Richard Edward - a small, family-run printing outfit in Thamesmead. If you want to understand the business implications of high energy costs, I suggest you give them a call. "High oil prices are killing us," says company executive Louisa Moger. "Our paper suppliers are energy intensive, we're energy intensive and so are our distributors. And just as our fuel costs are going through the roof, competition from Asia means we can't pass these costs on to customers".

This phenomenon - the impact of high oil prices on profitability - is the subject of a new study by BDO Stoy Hayward, the business services firm. It shows that in the past six months the rising crude price has cost UK businesses an additional 11.3 billion pounds. Perhaps inevitably, manufacturing has been hit worst, suffering 2.3bn of additional oil-related costs. As a result, the report predicts a sharp rise in UK manufacturing firms going bankrupt - from 1,800 in 2005 to 2,150 this year. But the report shows the striking detrimental impact of oil in other sectors too - including transport, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and construction. High oil has, so far, provoked UK inflation - and the expectation of higher rates. The impact of the black stuff on profits could soon bring us higher unemployment too.

The Sunday Telegraph, 18 June 2006


The rising costs of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by smokestack industries may trigger a shift in major investments in such sectors from Europe to countries where carbon controls are less strict, analysts said. The European Union's carbon market is supposed to control the supply of pollution permits to heavy industry, and so drive cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, as the bloc tries to meet its Kyoto Protocol goals and fight climate change.

The European Commission will press some EU states to tighten permit quotas in the second phase of the trading scheme, from 2008-2012, especially after industry got more permits than it needed last year. But analysts say an overly tough approach could drive up the price of permits, called carbon credits, to as much as 40 euros ($50.48) per tonne in the second phase, from some 15 euros per tonne now.

"In the future, (European) companies may decide to make big investments abroad, say in Brazil, because Europe is too expensive," Michael Grubb, chief economist at the Carbon Trust, a UK thinktank, told a European power conference last week. "There is an option of driving energy-intensive industries out of Europe," he said on Friday.

Europe's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is already changing the way energy-intensive companies conduct business, with costs of carbon emissions influencing strategic, organisational and economic decisions, executives from energy firms and sector analysts said at the conference. Raffaele Chiulli, CEO of energy firm EuroFuels -- part of the world's second-biggest cement maker Holcim -- said rising production costs on the back of carbon prices have already influenced decisions on the location of new production. "This may lead to competitive disadvantage for EU producers against importers from countries not subject to ETS and to loss of market shares," Chiulli told the conference. Buying carbon credits at current prices raises Holcim's production costs by 20 percent and on top of this, the cement maker's costs increase because electricity prices rise as utilities have to factor in carbon market prices, Chiulli said.

The trading scheme controls the emissions of the power, pulp and paper, oil and gas and steel and cement sectors. Its impact can be wider because carbon prices can push up power prices. In a strange twist, power firms -- some of Europe's biggest polluters -- have profited by passing on to consumers the cost of using pollution permits which they need to burn fossil fuels, but which they got for free at the market's outset. To cut their costs further, utilities are investing in green projects in poorer countries to buy pollution reduction units using a Kyoto Protocol tool, as they say CO2 reduction costs in Europe are too high. Such moves are seen by some observers as a precursor for shifting major investments outside the EU.

Reuters, 13 June 2006


It is now firmly established, repeated ad nauseam in the media and elsewhere, that the debate over global warming has been settled by scientific consensus. The subject is closed. It seems unnecessary to labour the point, but here are a couple of typical statements: "The scientific consensus is clear: human-caused climate change is happening" (David Suzuki Foundation); "There is overwhelming scientific consensus" that greenhouse gases emitted by man cause global temperatures to rise (Mother Jones).

Back when modern science was born, the battle between consensus and new science worked the other way around. More often than not, the consensus of the time -- dictated by religion, prejudice, mysticism and wild speculation, false premises -- was wrong. The role of science, from Galileo to Newton and through the centuries, has been to debunk the consensus and move us forward. But now science has been stripped of its basis in experiment, knowledge, reason and the scientific method and made subject to the consensus created by politics and bureaucrats.

As a mass phenomenon, repeated appeals to consensus to support a scientific claim are relatively new. But it is not new to science. For more than a century, various philosophical troublemakers have been trying to undermine science and the scientific method. These range from Marxists who saw science as a product of class warfare and historical materialism -- Newton was a lackey of the ruling classes and pawn of history -- to scores of sociological theorists and philosophers who spent much of the 20th century attempting to subvert the first principles of modern, Enlightenment science.

Reproduced on this page is the latest Wikipedia entry titled "Consensus Science." It sets out a bit of context for one aspect of the use of consensus in science. While the Wikipedia item is a useful, if rough, polemical introduction to the issue, it doesn't begin to plumb the ocean of dense philosophical discourse behind the movement to turn science -- the pursuit of fact, knowledge and truth through the scientific method, based on reason and experiment -- into a great social swamp of beliefs marked by consensus, social arrangements and customarily accepted ideas.

Throughout the 20th century, science was overwhelmed by the sociology of science and "sociological explanations of knowledge." At the extreme, we end up with the idea that there are no facts and nothing is verifiable. "Customs and conventions are seen as the creations of human agents, actively negotiated and actively sustained, under the collective control of those who initially negotiate them.... Scientific knowledge is seen as customarily accepted belief." This is from "Sociological Theories of Scientific Knowledge," an essay by Barry Barnes, University of Edinburgh, in the Routledge Companion to the History of Modern Science (1990).

Most of the recent history of science theory is a series of attempts by one camp after another to demolish the basic principles of science and install a new order based on political and sociological collectivism. While early hard-core Marxist views on science were too crazy to gain support, various "New Marxists" came along with more subtle forms of subversion. "This New Marxism," said Roy Porter of London's Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, "has aimed to depriviledge science, restoring it to the same plane as other belief systems."

If science were to become a belief system, then the belief with the greatest number of followers would become established fact and received knowledge. Knowledge based on observation and rational inference would play second fiddle to what Barnes calls "customarily accepted belief." This belief is "sustained by consensus and authority." This is not just one science writer proposing a theory. Barnes is reporting on the mainstream elements of new science thought over more than a century. Ideas come from such well-known brand names such as Marx and Kant, but mostly from a procession of philosophers even most scientists have never heard of. It's a jungle, to be sure, filled with impenetrable language and philosophical jargon. But the trend is clear. Global warming science by consensus, with appeals to United Nations panels and other agencies as authorities, is the apotheosis of the century-long crusade to overthrow the foundations of modern science and replace them with collectivist social theories of science.

"Where a specific body of knowledge is recognized and accepted by a body of scientists, there would seem to be a need to regard that acceptance as a matter of contingent fact," writes Barnes. This means that knowledge is "undetermined by experience." It takes us "away from an individualistic rationalist account of evaluation towards a collectivist conventionalist account." In short, under the new authoritarian science based on consensus, science doesn't matter much any more.

If one scientist's 1,000-year chart showing rising global temperatures is based on bad data, it doesn't matter because we still otherwise have a consensus. If a polar bear expert says polar bears appear to be thriving, thus disproving a popular climate theory, the expert and his numbers are dismissed as being outside the consensus. If studies show solar fluctuations rather than carbon emissions may be causing climate change, these are damned as relics of the old scientific method. If ice caps are not all melting, with some even getting larger, the evidence is ridiculed and condemned. We have a consensus, and this contradictory science is just noise from the skeptical fringe.

Jasper McKee, professor of physics at the University of Manitoba and editor of Physics in Canada, asked recently: "Is scientific fact no longer necessary?" Apparently it's not. "In the absence of hard scientific fact or causal relationships, a majority vote of scientists can determine scientific truth." Perhaps, says Mr. McKee, the great scientific revolution begun in the Renaissance of the 17th century is over and the need for science is gone. "The prospects," he says, "are alarming." In the end, though, real science can only win. If real science produces truth that the consensus method cannot, any consensus will inevitably fail to hold. Until then, however, we will have to live with the likes of David Suzuki.

National Post, 16 June 2006


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

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

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


20 June 2006

Greening a Homeland Bureaucracy: Chemical Plant Security Issue Hijacked by Green Activists

Nearly five years after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D.C., Congress is still debating how to shore up security at the nation’s chemical plants. Legislation has languished because special interests have attempted to use the issue to pursue an unrelated agenda. In particular, environmental activists and their allies in Congress seek to use security needs as an excuse to reduce or phase out the use of so-called toxic chemicals—many of which provide important public health benefits. So it’s no surprise that it has taken five years to shift the debate in a more productive direction.

Sen. Diane Collins (R-ME), Chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, recently offered a bill, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act (S. 2145), that attempts to manage risks rather than remove chemical products from the marketplace. The Collins bill represents important progress in setting a proper focus for the issue, but challenges remain. First, green activists and their allies in Congress are working to shift the focus back to their agenda. Second, the Collins bill poses a new set of problems associated with an overly bureaucratic approach and excessive enforcement provisions.

The Changing Agenda. Despite claims that the issue is somehow new, the proposals debated actually date back to the 1980s. At the time, the political catchphrase was “toxics use reduction.” The agenda was clear: reduction and elimination rather than management of chemicals. Congress rightly rejected the toxics-use-reduction concept as unreasonable.

But the green activists’ anti-chemical agenda has advanced masqueraded under other headings. By 1990, anti-chemical activists advocated and their allies in Congress passed into law an “accidental release” provision in an amendment to the Clean Air Act.[i] This provision mandated “risk management planning,” which requires chemical plants, public utilities, and government installations to develop “worst-case scenario” estimates about potential accidental releases. These scenarios involve highly improbable horror stories about the potential for catastrophic, accidental chemical releases. The law then directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make these stories public. The program’s ostensive goal was to educate the public about risks, but it has been used by green activists, politicians, and the media to generate unwarranted fears about chemicals, which have led to calls for regulation to restrict them.[ii]

Moreover, the program created a new problem. In 1999, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the FBI, and the CIA pointed out that an EPA proposal to post the worst-case scenario information online posed a national security risk. While the data didn’t reveal anything about actual risk probabilities, it could still aid terrorists in selecting the biggest and most vulnerable targets and formulating plans to attack the nation’s chemical plants and basic infrastructure.

Congress punted. Rather than demanding that EPA keep all the sensitive information classified, it allowed the agency to decide how much of the data it would post online. EPA then proceeded to post most—though not all—online, including detailed executive summaries containing some of the most sensitive worst-case-scenario data. After September 11, 2001, EPA pulled the data off the Internet. Yet green activists had already downloaded the summaries, which they host online today. The information also is available in government libraries across the nation.

Stoking Unwarranted Fears. Since 9/11, anti-chemical activist groups have capitalized on public fears about terrorism, dressing the issue of toxics use reduction in the guise of a chemical plant security bill. The first proposal in this area was offered by Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) in 2001. His bill (S. 1602) proposed to reduce and phase out “dangerous” chemicals and replace them with “inherently safer technology.” The end goal was the same as the long-rejected “toxics use reduction” scheme: grant regulators authority to essentially ban or reduce politically unpopular chemicals. Yet many products are valuable because they are “toxic” or “inherently dangerous.” Indeed, the toxic properties of pesticides and disinfectants are what make these products valuable in the war against deadly pathogens. Banning or reducing their use would only undermine public health and safety, yet activists continue their efforts.

To advance their cause under the new banner of chemical security, green activists, reporters, and their allies in the federal regulatory bureaucracy use the worst-case data to sell horror scenarios in the hope of prompting Congress into passing regulations to phase out chemicals in the name of security. In particular, activists and politicians cite an EPA study that asserts that there are 123 industrial plants in the United States that, if attacked, could each release enough chemicals to harm 1 million or more people.[iii] Yet this study is based on implausible worst-case scenarios: It ignores any safety measures currently in place and assumes that every possible chemical container would be breached, releasing the maximum amount of chemicals, under the worst possible wind conditions. It also assumes that all safety and mitigation measures at the plant would fail, and that no one would evacuate from the surrounding community. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has joined this chorus, using these scenarios to hype up fears to push along legislation. DHS claims to have found 300 plants that could each produce more than 50,000 casualties if they suffered from a catastrophic release of hazardous materials.[iv]

Using this data to justify more federal controls makes no sense because such theoretical scenarios say nothing about actual risks. Applied to the airline industry, worst-case planning would demand that we need even more regulation on airplanes—and that we could never have enough regulation—because airlines’ mere existence places millions of people at risk based on the “worst case scenario” airplane crash. A similar line of reasoning would assume that terrorists could—unhindered by anyone—crash the world’s largest jets, filled to capacity, into the largest and most populated buildings at the most vulnerable spots and that no one could evacuate the buildings or the surrounding areas.

Refocusing the Issue. Fortunately, the Bush Administration and allies in Congress—including Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.)—have worked to bring the issue into proper perspective. They succeeded in shifting jurisdiction from EPA to the Department of Homeland Security, and relevant legislation now falls under the homeland security committees on the Hill. Recently, the administration underscored this new focus by publicly rejecting recommendations in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to study policies to promote “inherently safer technology.”[v] In response to the GAO report, DHS commented that switching to allegedly “safer technologies would not generally result in more secure chemical facilities…The use of inherently safer technologies tends to shift risks rather than eliminate risks, often with unintended consequences.”[vi]

Fortunately, Sen. Collins’s bill does not emphasize the need for firms to pursue so-called “inherently safer technology” as a security measure. Rather, it focuses on ways to ensure that facilities assess and manage risks associated with chemicals, rather than press firms to eliminate valuable products or change manufacturing processes. However, one provision could be misconstrued to advance the anti-chemical activists’ agenda. In the section defining what would constitute a security measure at a chemical plant, the bill lists several items, including “the modification, processing, substitution, or reduction of substances of concern.” [Emphasis added] [vii] While firms may decide to take such measures, legislation need not list specific items, lest regulators use this provision to push firms “substitute” chemicals—a move that, as Department of Homeland Security officials pointed out, may simply substitute one risk for another.

The issue of inherently safer technology will likely continue as the center of debate, as Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) is expected to offer an amendment to include such language in the bill during its committee markup. In addition, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) recently began circulating a draft bill sponsored by him and other Senate Democrats—including John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Biden (D-Del.)—that would include language to mandate the switch to “inherently safer technology.” [viii]

Other provisions in the Collins bill have also been controversial. Her first draft attempted to preempt states from passing additional chemical security bills. As a national security issue, this approach enables the federal government to take the lead. It also would have eliminated laws—such as one recently enacted in New Jersey—that focus on the anti-chemical agenda rather than security. Political compromises led Sen. Collins to add to the bill a provision indicating that it won’t preempt states from enacting more stringent regulations. This could be changed during committee markup as an amendment on the Senate floor. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has expressed public support for the addition of a federal preemption provision. [ix]

Another positive aspect of the Collins bill is the fact that chemical plant plans are to remain confidential and will not be subject to Freedom of Information Act requests. This provision will help avoid problems associated with public release of similar data by EPA as part of its risk management plan program.

Serious Points of Concern. While the Collins bill has the proper focus, some serious problems remain. The bill requires facilities to develop vulnerability plans that assess their risks of attack and include plans to prevent them. These plans would be reviewed and approved by the Department of Homeland Security, and would replace more flexible ongoing voluntary efforts, but it is not clear that they would be any better or worse than the current system.

The new program also appears to needlessly increase bureaucratic federal mandates since it overlaps considerably with EPA’s risk management program. One solution would be to shift EPA’s existing program to Homeland Security, add a security aspect to those plans, and limit public access to them. This approach would eliminate the need for firms to file separate reports and comply with different agencies, each with different guidance policies. After all, both the EPA and DHS programs address chemical releases—the only difference is that one focuses on accidental releases and the other on intentional releases. Both are more appropriately addressed by emergency planning experts than by environmental bureaucrats.

In addition, the Collins bill would create a new emergency planning structure for chemical plants rather than rely on the system already set up under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).[x] EPCRA created various levels of government emergency planning committees at the state and local levels. The Federal Emergency Management Agency already participates in these efforts, and these state and local bodies serve as vehicles for communications under the EPA risk management program. Instead of working through these existing institutions, the Collins bill would create a duplicative structure that includes creation of “Infrastructure Protection Regional Security Offices” around the nation as well as “area coordinators” and other federal personnel.[xi] It is unclear as to why the federal government would need to create so much additional bureaucracy rather than simply set policies to sharpen the focus on this issue within existing institutions.

If poor performance under the EPCRA system is the reason for setting up a new system, then it would be wiser to examine and repair EPCRA rather than create a parallel structure. After all, if we learned anything from Hurricane Katrina, it is that we need to streamline and improve existing emergency planning institutions, and that we don’t need new levels of bureaucracy to navigate through national crises.

Finally, enforcement provisions in the Collins bill should also raise red flags for anybody who cares about private enterprise. These provisions are so broad that they give the Department of Homeland Security unqualified power to shut down chemical plants, levy fines of up to $1 million a year, and place owners or operators in jail for up to one year if a plant doesn’t gain the agency’s approval of a vulnerability assessment. [xii] These penalties are extreme. Under current law—as outlined in EPA’s National Contingency Plan,[xiii] EPA cannot even begin an emergency response to “abate, prevent, minimize, stabilize or eliminate” a release unless the release presents an “imminent and substantial danger to public health and welfare or the environment.” [xiv] If that standard is good enough for EPA, then why should DHS have the power to shut down a plant because it does not comply with paperwork mandates?

Of course, if a plant’s security is found to be so lax that it places public health and safety in imminent and substantial danger, then allowing a federal shutdown would be appropriate. There is no reason to allow the Department of Homeland Security to shut down a plant simply because it deems a vulnerability assessment as “deficient.” It should have to show that the facility represents an imminent and substantial danger to public health and safety. DHS should not have such wide authority to shut down American businesses as currently exists in the Collins bill.

Conclusion. If Congress is to pass a chemical plant security bill, public health would be best served if it focuses on ensuring that existing systems work well and are placed under the authority of the proper security and emergency planning agencies. It is clear that the Department of Homeland Security is better situated than the Environmental Protection Agency to address such concerns. The current debate appears to be moving in that direction, but pending proposals take the least efficient approach, and they include enforcement mechanisms that pose a serious threat to our free enterprise system. Consolidating such planning in the Department of Homeland Security, eliminating duplicative processes, and sharpening the focus of existing planning mechanisms—rather than creating new ones—would make more sense


Weekly Standard: Adrift?

Post lifted from Amy Ridenour

Quick on the heels of its recommendation that conservatives support the Senate pro-amnesty immigration bill (for political rather than principled reasons, yet), the Weekly Standard is apparently laying the groundwork for a change in the conservative position on global warming.

From the June 12 issue, in an article by Contributing Editor Irwin M. Stelzer praising Treasury Secretary-designate Hank Paulson with all the enthusiasm usually reserved for people named Bush, comes this:
Then there is the environment, a policy area in which the Bush administration is in something of a time warp. No honest person can with certainty assert that global warming is a threat. But any responsible person can see that the evidence is sufficient to suggest that it might be, and that some action to contain emissions of greenhouse gases is an insurance policy worth having. Paulson is Wall Street's greenest titan, chairman of the Nature Conservancy, a bird-watcher, an advocate of a greenhouse gas emissions trading system for the United States and of mandatory curbs on emissions if voluntary action proves inadequate. At Goldman, he allocated $1 billion for investment in renewable energy and energy-saving projects. He is likely to make his voice heard in an administration that is said to be ready to move from its justifiable opposition to the Kyoto treaty to more positive proposals for emissions reduction.
No word from the Weekly Standard on the price tag of the "insurance policy worth having" (known as 'cap and trade' to those of us speaking plainly) as if 1) the cost wasn't billions, to be borne mostly by those who can least afford it, and 2) the "insurance policy" would actually lessen global warming IF (a big IF) the environmental left's position on global warming is accurate.

Will we soon see the Weekly Standard join the New Republic in name-calling skeptics of the notion that slowing the U.S. economy would have a notably beneficial impact on the world's weather?

And, speaking further on the Weekly Standard, but not on global warming: After noting for some time Fred Barnes's fawning coverage of Karl Rove, I wondered in April: If Karl Rove were to be indicted, would Fred Barnes spin it as a positive development?

Based on the Fred Barnes/Weekly Standard coverage of Fitzgerald's reported decision not to indict Rove, I'm guessing "yes." Barnes begins his article with "The lefties and the media are right about Karl Rove. That's why they're in a dither now that Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald has cleared Rove of any criminal wrongdoing in the overblown leak case..."

I'm not a lawyer, but I believe a decision not to indict is not in any respect the same thing as being "cleared" of "any criminal wrongdoing." There is such a thing as an "immunity agreeement," after all, and I believe Fred Barnes and the editors who presumably check his copy most likely have heard of it, as Monica Lewinsky had such a deal in a case that received a tad bit of media coverage, including in the Weekly Standard.

I'm not saying Rove committed a criminal act, by the way, or signed an immunity agreement. When I'm not reading the Weekly Standard (a magazine that used to be my favorite, but which recently has caused my contrarian impulses to kick in), I actually tend, all things equal, to be a fan of Rove. But I am wondering why Fred Barnes seems to want Tony Snow's job so much, and why the Weekly Standard, a magazine that so often in the past published truly thought-provoking pieces, so frequently lately seems to be adrift.


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 June 2006

Science kept out by the greens' dogma

To environmentalists data is an evil that demystifies the romance of nature, writes Ian Plimer. Ian Plimer is professor of geology at the University of Melbourne

I write from the Arkaroola Wilderness Resort in the far north Flinders Ranges of South Australia where I do geological field work in this mountainous and unforgiving wilderness in summer. This is a privilege. Field work is an attempt to understand nature and this intimacy with nature stimulates questioning. Science is based on dominant paradigms that are open to change at any time. Our understanding of nature requires a depth and breadth of knowledge, a healthy uncertainty, a willingness to change and a measure of awe provoked by the complexity of nature.

Nature changes rapidly and continues to surprise. Climate, sea level, the atmosphere, life, landscapes and temperature all change rapidly by many mechanisms for a diversity of reasons. For millions of years hominids and other organisms have survived, adapted and become extinct as a result of these changes. Nature is not mysterious; it is quantifiable. Science is married to evidence and divorced from value judgement.

We scientists argue about the data, which may be from measurement, calculation, observation or experiment. The explanation of data - a theory - is the neatest way of explaining such data and this, too, provokes healthy argument. New data or a re-evaluation of old data commonly results in the abandonment of a treasured popular paradigm. This is the methodology of science.

Herein lies the problem with city-based greens and religious fundamentalists such as creationists. The idol for worship is a dogmatic ideology enshrined in value judgements that allows no change despite scientific data to the contrary.

Nature is made the mystery by greens in isolation from integrated interdisciplinary scientific knowledge, somewhat contrary to traditional Christian views where the mystery is the supernatural. It is for this reason that I argue that environmental groups are a modern urban religion, albeit terribly flawed. From Paul Tillich's theological perspective, the change from the dominant paradigm to dogma is a shift from preliminary to ultimate concerns resulting in evil.

Creationists have not evolved from the science and inexact literalist contradictory theology of the mid-17th century when the popular scientific paradigm was that the planet was 6000 years old and a mythical great flood shaped the planet's surface, deposited fossiliferous sediments and killed sinners.

The greens can not accept that the good old days were not good old days, that natural changes are far greater than even their worst case human-induced doomsday scenario and that we now live in a society blessed with saviours such as science, technology and industry. Our greens bathe in the benefits of an industrial society yet, for reasons of nefarious politics, hypocrisy and ignorance, decide to be both within and without our industrial society.

Many city folk have lost contact with nature and this can be deeply disturbing. Such disconnection produces a romantic yearning for that which never existed, a yearning to be at one with nature despite a lack of understanding of nature and a yearning to do something, whatever something might be. This disconnection produces irrationality, contradictions and the creation of green fundamentalism as the new religion of urban environmentalists. Disconnection of city people from nature has only added to the frustration of depoliticised rural people, thereby creating political instability. In the cities, this disconnection is exacerbated by the lack of connection between seasons and seasonal foods or killing and meat protein and an uncompromising dogma about those outside cities who take risks to produce the energy, water, food and mineral resources we so voraciously consume.

We watch asinine survival programs unaware that there are 20 film support crew out of shot. Such programs appeal to our primitive instincts yet show how disconnected from nature we really have become. We plant gardens comprising water-hungry northern European vegetation, consume more and more water, don't build new dams and don't collect roof rainwater. We buy a four-wheel-drive to use on highways in the wilderness or watch concocted nature programs on television. We feel good to see large green areas on maps called national parks and then promptly forget about these areas. The ancient monastics were correct. An extended time in a desert wilderness allows the discarding of trivialities, an interaction and connection with nature and an understanding of our place in the world. And it is not really a very important place after all.


Put a Stop to 'Big Tofu'

You've surely heard about the political bogeymen "Big Oil" and "Big Tobacco," but when it comes to your freedom to choose the foods you eat, there's no special interest more powerful than "Big Tofu." From attacks on movie theater popcorn to fast food burgers, Big Tofu wants to keep you from dining on steak, French fries, soda and anything else it deems bad for you. The top priority: protect you from yourself by imposing its vegan-leaning, beans-and-rice, "if-it-tastes-good-it-must-be-bad-for-you" views on what constitutes a proper diet.

As laughable as that may sound, the food nannies wield considerable influence in Congress, the media, and state governments. Nowhere has this influence been as strong as in the state of California, where yesterday's anti-establishment radicals are today's elected officials. And, by using its pull in the nation's most populous state, Big Tofu is increasingly in the position to dictate food policy to the other 49.

Take, as an example, the California law known as Proposition 65. Under Prop 65, a product that has any amount of any substance suspected of causing some health effect in some animals has to carry health warning labels. That may sound like a good thing, but the law is most often used by activists to hammer politically unpopular food producers with irrelevant and out-of-context "warnings."

For example, world renowned University of California at Berkeley biochemist Bruce Ames has documented how naturally occurring substances in plants—such as caffeic acid in coffee and limonene in orange juice—are among the most potent carcinogens in the human diet.

As long as the left coast set keeps sipping their cafe lattes, though, you'll never hear about that. Nor should you worry, since there's not nearly enough of either of those substances in your diet to make them dangerous. But under Prop 65, the amount doesn't matter. The law is all about scaring consumers away from foods Big Tofu just don't like.

What makes Prop 65 especially pernicious is its so-called "bounty hunter" provision, which allows anyone to file a lawsuit to enforce the warnings. The latest is a nuisance suit against five popular restaurant chains in California, filed by a group that promotes vegetarian diets. The lawsuits allege that char-grilled beef and chicken supposedly represent a cancer threat because of trace amounts of a substance called pyridine, formed when meat is cooked at high temperatures no different than your backyard barbeque.

And California Attorney General Bill Lockyer is suing several fast food restaurants and potato chip makers over a substance called acrylamide, which is formed naturally any time starchy foods are baked or fried.

It doesn't seem to matter to Lockyer that the Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have concluded that these naturally occurring levels of acrylamide pose no health threat to consumers. It doesn't matter, because Prop 65 isn't about protecting anyone's health. Its purpose is to promote two of Big Tofu's most important goals.

First, however spurious they may be, labels that warn about carcinogens or toxins in food will surely scare consumers away. That's why snack makers and fast food restaurants have been targeted: Big Tofu doesn't think consumers can or should be trusted to choose those foods for themselves.

Second, once foods are forced to wear a Prop 65 warning in California, they become targets for ambulance-chasing lawyers around the country. "Of course, the company is guilty," they'll tell juries. "It says right on the label that the product contains a carcinogen." The only alternatives for food companies are to re-label their products for the rest of the country or pay the huge fines that could drive them out of California or out of business. Fortunately, Congress is taking a small step toward stopping this insanity by passing the National Uniformity for Food Act. The proposed law would empower the Food and Drug Administration to set national, science-based food labeling standards. And that will help bring an end to the scaremongering of politically-motivated state rules.

Big Tofu's media rampages against Chinese food, fettuccine Alfredo, popcorn, burgers, and soft drinks are hardly news. But too few people know how Big Tofu's legal strong-arming and backroom blackmail ultimately result in higher food prices and fewer choices for consumers. It's time to tell Big Tofu that it doesn't know beans about food science, food safety, or the needs of American consumers. And the National Uniformity for Food Act is a good first step to restoring some common sense to our food labeling system.



As primitive man moved out from his sub-tropical paradise, it was his ingenuity that enabled him to cope with the rigours of the more hostile climate. Furs, houses and energy, in the form of fire, opened up new regions to conquest. The horse was exploited to supplement man's own inadequate musculature, so transport and agriculture combined to provide the basis of viable settlements and trade. Mankind became largely concentrated in villages, towns and, ultimately, cities. These were not inherently viable, but the process of invention, which eventually led to the industrial revolution, provided a framework within which they could thrive. Industry, ugly, careless and unaesthetic though it might be, was the hub around which the new civilisation developed. Science and its methods, begun as the mental exercise of a few dilettantes, grew into the driving force. Those who had been enslaved by the requirement for menial tasks of a manual and, later, mental nature, were gradually liberated from them and leisure ceased to become a monopoly of the privileged few. Science freed humanity from many of the random hazards of life, such as infectious disease.

Unfortunately, science also provided support for the base aggressive instincts of mankind, in the form of weapons of hideous capability. This led to a hostility to science that is now all-pervading.

We arrived at the paradoxical situation in which the ingredients that liberated man from a life of toil also gave him the leisure to develop new systems of belief that were hostile to those very props. Knock them away and there would be a rapid return to the short and brutish fight for survival that was the everyday experience of stone-age man. Yet many of the very people who benefited most from the freedom to think, which came from the exploitation of extra-human sources of energy, became those who sought to undermine them.

Thus the keystone of western civilisation is energy. Those who would destroy it, from within or without, simply have to cut off supply of this vital commodity to ensure its collapse into primitive chaos.

It is one of the characteristics of the human child that he throws his toys out of the pram without thought as to how he will cope without them. Much of the activity is, of course, purely ritual. The dedicated townie, who would not last more than a few days in the real world of nature, rides his bike to the supermarket and buys so-called organic food, which he takes back to a home adorned with a token and quite useless windmill. He votes for a youthful and plausible politician who has never run anything, but promises to do away with the trappings of a civilisation that has kept him alive against all the odds.

It is one of the greatest ironies of modern history that the most accessible forms of fossil fuel are concentrated outside the western democracies, who have sleep-walked into a situation in which they are now subject to blackmail and coercion. The gurus of primitivism fly round the world (how come they can afford to when most of us cannot?) promoting myths such as first global cooling and then global warming, to which, according to their strictures, they are contributing more than their fair share; myths that do not stand up to the most cursory scientific examination.

The Green fifth column actively oppose the development of any realistic sources of energy, from fossil to nuclear, while promoting those that are intermittent, impracticable, expensive and inadequate.

Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.

(From John Brignell, 9 June 2006)


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

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

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


18 June 2006


Discussing: Scafetta, N. and West, B.J. 2006. Phenomenological solar contribution to the 1900-2000 global surface warming. Geophysical Research Letters 33.


The 20th century is said by climate alarmists to have experienced a temperature increase that was unprecedented over the past two millennia, due primarily to CO2-induced global warming. For the moment, we will forget about the "unprecedented" part of this claim and focus on the attribution portion, in a review of a paper that looks at the role played by solar radiation variability over the 20th century.

What was done

Scafetta and West developed "two distinct TSI [total solar irradiance] reconstructions made by merging in 1980 the annual mean TSI proxy reconstruction of Lean et al. (1995) for the period 1900-1980 and two alternative TSI satellite composites, ACRIM (Wilson and Mordvinov, 2003), and PMOD (Frolich and Lean, 1998), for the period 1980-2000," after which they used what they deemed to be appropriate climate sensitivity transfer functions to transform the TSI histories they developed into 20th-century temperature histories.

What was learned

The two researchers determined that the sun contributed some 46-49% of the 1900-2000 global warming of the earth; and considering that there may have been uncertainties of 20-30% in their sensitivity parameters, they suggest that the sun may possibly have been responsible for as much as 60% of the 20th-century temperature increase.

What it means

The role of the sun in 20th-century global warming, according to Scafetta and West, has been vastly underestimated by the climate modeling community, with various energy balance models producing estimates of solar-induced warming over this period that are "two to ten times lower" than what they found.. Why is this so? The two researchers say "the models might be inadequate because of the difficulty of modeling climate in general and a lack of knowledge of climate sensitivity to solar variations in particular." They also note that "theoretical models usually acknowledge as solar forcing only the direct TSI forcing," thereby ignoring "possible additional climate effects linked to solar magnetic field, UV radiation, solar flares and cosmic ray intensity modulations." In this regard, we additionally note that some of these phenomena may to some degree be independent of, and thereby add to, the simple TSI forcing Scafetta and West employed, which suggests that the totality of solar activity effects on climate may be even greater than what they calculated.

CO2 Science Magazine, 14 June 2006


Half of Americans chilling out over global warming, but many hot under the collar about pandemic, terrorists. Public opinion can be such a weird thing. Today comes word of a new poll in which Americans were asked which of four dangers really worries them. Roughly the same proportion that believed global warming "could happen" in their lifetimes believed a collision between the Earth and an asteroid "could happen" before they die.

Now, bear in mind that virtually all climate scientists say global warming already is happening -- and, hey, just ask those Alaskans who are seeing their homes and roads crumble as the permafrost melts! The most authoritative, if somewhat dated, look at this is the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Why then did only 24 percent said global warming "could happen" while 25 percent said the asteroid collision "could happen?" Two other big dangers scored much higher on Americans' radar, even though they are -- while fairly probable -- not yet a certainty: a pandemic that wipes out a major portion of the population, and further terrorist attacks on America. Just over 50 percent of those polled said both could happen before they're pushing up daisies.

When you look at those responding that one of the four either "could" or "will" happen in their lifetimes, it's 80 percent for terrorist attacks, 74 percent for the pandemic, 47 percent for global warming and 31 percent for the asteroids. It would be fascinating to speak with the 6 percent who said an asteroid collision "will happen" in their lifetime, dontchathink?

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 13 June 2006


Albert Einstein once said, "Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods." While the gods must consider An Inconvenient Truth the ultimate comedy, real climate scientists are crying over Al Gore's new film. This is not just because the ex-vice-president commits numerous basic science mistakes. They are also concerned that many in the media and public will fail to realize that this film amounts to little more than science fiction.

Gore's credibility is damaged early in the film when he tells the audience that, by simply looking at Antarctic ice cores with the naked eye, one can see when the American Clean Air Act was passed. Dr. Ian Clark, professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Ottawa (U of O) responds, "This is pure fantasy unless the reporter is able to detect parts per billion changes to chemicals in ice." Air over the United States doesn't even circulate to the Antarctic before mixing with most of the northern, then the southern, hemisphere air, and this process takes decades. Clark explains that even far more significant events, such as the settling of dust arising from the scouring of continental shelves at the end of ice ages, are undetectable in ice cores by an untrained eye.

Gore repeatedly labels carbon dioxide as "global warming pollution" when, in reality, it is no more pollution than is oxygen. CO2 is plant food, an ingredient essential for photosynthesis without which Earth would be a lifeless, frozen ice ball. The hypothesis that human release of CO2 is a major contributor to global warming is just that -- an unproven hypothesis, against which evidence is increasingly mounting.

In fact, the correlation between CO2 and temperature that Gore speaks about so confidently is simply non-existent over all meaningful time scales. U of O climate researcher Professor Jan Veizer demonstrated that, over geologic time, the two are not linked at all. Over the intermediate time scales Gore focuses on, the ice cores show that CO2 increases don't precede, and therefore don't cause, warming. Rather, they follow temperature rise -- by as much as 800 years. Even in the past century, the correlation is poor; the planet actually cooled between 1940 and 1980, when human emissions of CO2 were rising at the fastest rate in our history.

Similarly, the fact that water vapour constitutes 95% of greenhouse gases by volume is conveniently ignored by Gore. While humanity's three billion tonnes (gigatonnes, or GT) per year net contribution to the atmosphere's CO2 load appears large on a human scale, it is actually less than half of 1% of the atmosphere's total CO2 content (750-830 GT). The CO2 emissions of our civilization are also dwarfed by the 210 GT/year emissions of the gas from Earth's oceans and land. Perhaps even more significant is the fact that the uncertainty in the measurement of atmospheric CO2 content is 80 GT -- making three GT seem hardly worth mentioning.

But Gore persists, labeling future CO2 rises as "deeply unethical" and lectures the audience, "Each one of us is a cause of global warming." Not satisfied with simply warning of human-induced killer heat waves -- events in Europe this past year were "like a nature hike through the Book of Revelations," he says -- he then uses high-tech special effects to show how human-caused climate changes are causing more hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods, infectious diseases, insect plagues, glacial retreats, coral die-outs and the flooding of small island nations due to sea level rise caused by the melting of the polar caps. One is left wondering if Gore thinks nature is responsible for anything.

Scientists who actually work in these fields flatly contradict Gore. Take his allegations that extreme weather (EW) events will increase in frequency and severity as the world warms and that this is already happening. Former professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg Dr. Tim Ball notes, "The theories that Gore supports indicate the greatest warming will be in polar regions. Therefore, the temperature contrast with warmer regions -- the driver of extreme weather -- will lessen and, with it, storm potential will lessen."

This is exactly what former Environment Canada research scientist and EW specialist Dr. Madhav Khandekar found. His studies show there has been no increase in EW events in Canada in the past 25 years. Furthermore, he sees no indication that such events will increase over the next 25 years. "In fact, some EW events such as winter blizzards have definitely declined," Khandekar says. "Prairie droughts have been occurring for hundreds of years. The 13th and 16th century saw some of the severest and longest droughts ever on Canadian/American prairies." Like many other researchers, Khandekar is convinced that EW is not increasing globally, either.

On hurricanes, Gore implies that new records are being set as a result of human greenhouse gas emissions. Besides clumsy errors in the presentation of the facts (Katrina did not get "stronger and stronger and stronger" as it came over the Gulf of Mexico; rather, it was category 5 over the ocean and was downgraded to category 3 when it made a landfall), Gore fails to note that the only region to show an increase in hurricanes in recent years is the North Atlantic. Hurricane specialist Tad Murty, former senior research scientist Department of Fisheries and Oceans and now adjust professor of Earth sciences at U of O, points out, "In all other six ocean basins where tropical cyclones occur, there is either a flat or a downward trend." Murty lists 1900, 1926 and 1935 as the years in which the most intense hurricanes were recorded in the United States. In fact, Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, has stated that global warming has nothing to do with the recent increase in hurricane frequency in the North Atlantic. Murty concludes, "The feeling among many meteorologists is that it has to do with the North Atlantic oscillation, which is now in the positive phase and will continue for another decade or so."

More here

Global cooling hits Australia

The Perth metropolitan area has shivered through its coldest night on record. The bureau of Meteorology says records tumbled overnight. Duty forecaster Brad Santos says Perth recorded its first official freeze. "With the mercury dipping to minus 0.6 degrees and that beats the previous record of zero back in July 1997 and july 1998," he said. A record low was also recorded at Jandakot of minus three degrees. The cold snap also saw several records broken in towns in the south-west. "At 6:00am (AWST) Collie reported a temperature of minus 5.8 degrees, which is its all time lowest minimum," Mr Santos said. "Also Bridgetown as well the temperature was around minus five degrees which is also a record minimum temperature. The bureau is predicting another cold night tonight, ahead of rain on Monday.



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 June 2006


A boost for the abiotic theory. Summary below followed by journal abstract

The reduction reactions that organic carbon underwent during its initial low-temperature preservation on the way to petroleum have been obscure (other than that the process retained distinct biomarkers of the original source that have proven highly useful in paleoecology). The reactions, which saturate double bonds, have long been thought to be the work of bacteria. Hebting et al. (p. 1627, published online 11 May; see the cover and the Perspective by Hayes) now show through both laboratory experiments and field studies that the major reactions proceeded inorganically and involved hydrogen sulfide and other sulfur species.

Biomarker Evidence for a Major Preservation Pathway of Sedimentary Organic Carbon

By Y. Hebting et al

Hydrogenation processes leading from biomolecules to fossil biomarkers in anoxic sediments are crucial for the preservation of organic matter. However, these processes are still poorly understood. The present identification of several reduced carotenoids in recent sediments attests that these processes operate at the earliest stages of diagenesis without structural or stereochemical specificity, implying a nonbiological reduction pathway. Sulfur species (e.g., H2S) are the hydrogen donors involved in such reduction, as demonstrated with laboratory experiments. These reactions allow the preservation of abundant organic carbon in the rock record.


There is a conceit among the American Left that the American Right cleaves to bad science out of deference to religion, while the left is all-science all-the-time. Former Veep Al Gore's new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," however, shows how unscientific -- and downright faith-based -- the left has become.

Is global warming human-induced? Gore says that it is, and he may well be right. Last month in the New York Times, Gregg Easterbrook of the Brookings Institution announced that he had converted from global-warming "skeptic to convert." Easterbrook noted that a 1992 survey found that a mere 17 percent of members of the American Geophysical Union and American Meteorological Society believed in greenhouse-gas climate change. Since then, scientists have found more evidence of the phenomenon.

Gore was wrong in 1992 when he wrote that 98 percent of scientists agreed with him on global warming. Witness the survey cited above. Now he is wrong when he argues in his movie that there is a complete consensus on global warming today. As proof Gore cites a 2004 study that looked at 928 climate abstracts and found none that refuted global-warming dogma. That says more about the researcher than the scientific community.

There are a number of well-known scientists who don't believe that global warming is human-induced, or who believe that if it is, it is not catastrophic. Hurricane expert William Gray of Colorado State University believes the Earth will start to cool within 10 years. Neil Frank, former director of the National Hurricane Center, told the Washington Post that global warming is "a hoax." Climate scientist Robert Lindzen of MIT believes that clouds and water vapor will counteract greenhouse-gas emissions.

So you have to ask yourself: Why does Gore pretend that apostates do not exist? Scientists acknowledge contradictory data. But the faith-driven Gore argues that all scientists agree with him -- well, except for those who are bought and paid for by big polluters. Because this is a crusade -- and not about science -- Gore is drawn, not to the most reasoned scenarios, but the most apocalyptic.

Consider this exchange with ABC's George Stephanopoulos -- formerly of the Clinton/Gore administration -- who questioned Gore's prediction that global-warming could cause sea levels to rise 20 feet. "But the consensus is several inches over the next century. Right?" asked Stephanopoulos on June 4. "Not 20 feet?"

"Not at all," Gore replied. He added that the scientists he talks to -- his disciples, if you will -- see it his way. He ignores the less catastrophic theories, which predict a rise of an inch per decade, or three feet over the next century. To Gore, the worst-case scenario is the only scenario.

I thought Gore's chart comparing carbon-dioxide increases to temperature spikes was dramatic. But because Gore omits what he does not want to see, I have to listen to former NASA scientist, Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama, when he tells me, "It is an alarming chart, but there are so many alternative explanations for what he's showing. He's giving it one possible explanation and making it sound like the only explanation." Spencer says it is "more likely" that the higher temperatures increased carbon-dioxide levels.

Spencer, who also writes for TCS Daily (which receives some funding from ExxonMobil), believes that some global warming is human-induced, but "I don't believe in climate catastrophe. And: "It comes down to whether you believe the climate system is fragile or resilient." It all comes down to belief -- and that is the problem. Global warming has become so politicized that scientists must believe in it. If they predict dire consequences, they win praise from true believers and grants for their important research. Scientists who question the prophecies of doom can expect to be marginalized.

Oddly, Gore begins "An Inconvenient Truth" discussing a young classmate who wondered if South America and Africa once had been connected. Their teacher ridiculed the friend, who turned out to be right. Sometimes the know-it-alls are wrong. Now Gore is the know-it-all teacher -- and woe to any scientist who does not agree with him, not just on global warming, but on a 20-foot rise in sea level. It is this alarmism -- this extremism -- that has led many a thinking person to question global warming. It's hard to trust those who believe only the most extreme scenario.

Besides, whenever the establishment says you have to believe something, you want people who question the establishment. Or as global cooling guru Gray once said, "Consensus science isn't science."

San Francisco Chronicle, 13 June 2006


(From Geophysical Research Letters, 33, L11707, 13 June 2006)

Greenland warming of 1920-1930 and 1995-2005

By Petr Chylek et al.

[1] We provide an analysis of Greenland temperature records to compare the current (1995-2005) warming period with the previous (1920-1930) Greenland warming. We find that the current Greenland warming is not unprecedented in recent Greenland history. Temperature increases in the two warming periods are of a similar magnitude, however, the rate of warming in 1920-1930 was about 50% higher than that in 1995 - 2005.


5. Discussion and Conclusion

[14] We have analyzed temperature time series from available Greenland locations and we have found that:

[15] i) The years 1995 to 2005 have been characterized by generally increasing temperatures at the Greenland coastal stations. The year 2003 was extremely warm on the southeastern coast of Greenland. The average annual temperature and the average summer temperature for 2003 at Ammassalik was a record high since 1895. The years 2004 and 2005 were closer to normal being well below temperatures reached in 1930s and 1940s (Figure 2).

Although the annual average temperatures and the average summer temperatures at Godthab Nuuk, representing the southwestern coast, were also increasing during the 1995-2005 period, they stayed generally below the values typical for the 1920-1940 period.

[16] ii) The 1955 to 2005 averages of the summer temperatures and the temperatures of the warmest month at both Godthaab Nuuk and Ammassalik are significantly lower than the corresponding averages for the previous 50 years (1905-1955). The summers at both the southwestern and the southeastern coast of Greenland were significantly colder within the 1955-2005 period compared to the 1905-1955 years.

[17] iii) Although the last decade of 1995-2005 was relatively warm, almost all decades within 1915 to 1965 were even warmer at both the southwestern (Godthab Nuuk) and the southeastern (Ammassalik) coasts of Greenland.

[18] iv) The Greenland warming of the 1995-2005 period is similar to the warming of 1920-1930, although the rate of temperature increase was by about 50% higher during the 1920-1930 warming period.

[19] v) There are significant differences between the global temperature and the Greenland temperature records within the 1881-2005 period. While all the decadal averages of the post-1955 global temperature are higher (warmer climate) than the pre-1955 average, almost all post-1955 temperature averages at Greenland stations are lower (colder climate) than the pre-1955 temperature average.

[20] An important question is to what extent can the current (1995-2005) temperature increase in Greenland coastal regions be interpreted as evidence of man-induced global warming? Although there has been a considerable temperature increase during the last decade (1995 to 2005) a similar increase and at a faster rate occurred during the early part of the 20th century (1920 to 1930) when carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases could not be a cause. The Greenland warming of 1920 to 1930 demonstrates that a high concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is not a necessary condition for period of warming to arise. The observed 1995-2005 temperature increase seems to be within a natural variability of Greenland climate. A general increase in solar activity [Scafetta and West, 2006] since 1990s can be a contributing factor as well as the sea surface temperature changes of tropical ocean [Hoerling et al., 2001].

[21] The glacier acceleration observed during the 1996-2005 period [Rignot and Kanagaratnam, 2006] has probably occurred previously. There should have been the same or more extensive acceleration during the 1920-1930 warming as well as during the Medieval Warm period in Greenland [Dahl-Jensen et al., 1998; DeMenocal et al., 2000] when Greenland temperatures were generally higher than today. The total Greenland mass seems to be stable or slightly growing [Zwally et al., 2005].

[22] To summarize, we find no direct evidence to support the claims that the Greenland ice sheet is melting due to increased temperature caused by increased atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. The rate of warming from 1995 to 2005 was in fact lower than the warming that occurred from 1920 to 1930. The temperature trend during the next ten years may be a decisive factor in a possible detection of an anthropogenic part of climate signal over area of the Greenland ice sheet.

Bush Plans Vast Protected Sea Area in Hawaii

This won't please the Greenies of course -- because Bush did it and because it doesn't disrupt the lives of anybody much

President Bush will create the world's largest protected marine area today, designating as a national monument a 1,200-mile-long chain of small Hawaiian islands and surrounding waters and reefs that are home to a spectacular array of sea life, senior administration officials said last night. In his second use of the 100-year old National Antiquities Act, which empowers the president to protect important cultural or geological resources instantly, Mr. Bush will enact a suite of strict rules for the area, including a five-year phasing out of commercial and sport fishing, officials said.

The chain of largely uninhabited atolls, seamounts, reefs and shoals, which sweeps northwest from the big islands of Hawaii, is called the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and is home to some 7,000 species of marine life, including endangered green sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals and millions of breeding seabirds.

Earlier yesterday, the region, which at 140,000 square miles is nearly the size of California, was to have been named a national marine sanctuary, a different kind of protection that could have taken a year to enact. But Mr. Bush, in a last meeting to consider the plan and timetable, decided to cut things short, said a senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to take attention away from Mr. Bush's public statement today. "He said, Look, I've got this authority, I'm going to use it," the official said. "What we avoid is another year or more in process when we already have consensus," he said, noting that national-monument status avoided the prospect of lawsuits over proposed sanctuary regulations. Since the Clinton administration, environmental campaigners had pushed for marine sanctuary status for the area, and as recently as early last night they were girding for months of public debate over the proposed sanctuary rules with a few groups representing Pacific fish-processing companies and fishing fleets.

Last night, representatives of the conservation groups were at first startled by the sudden switch, but were then exultant. "This is really for the first time saying the primary purpose of this area of the ocean is to be a pristine, or nearly pristine, kind of place," said David Festa of a private group. "It would take it off the books as a fishing ground. That's really the first time we'll have done that in any kind of sizable area."

Some environmentalists noted yesterday that the extra protection was an easy call for the administration, in part because there was little significant opposition in Hawaii or Washington. The move could also help the re-election prospects of Linda Lingle, Hawaii's Republican governor, who last fall banned commercial activities in state waters in the area and endorsed the federal sanctuary plan. They noted that there were only eight commercial fishing boats licensed to fish in the remote islands, and that rising fuel costs had made such trips less and less profitable.

Still, representatives of groups seeking to sustain Pacific fishing activity expressed concern as news of the new designation spread. Kitty M. Simonds, executive director of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council, one of eight regional advisory bodies to federal fisheries agencies, said the group planned to fight a complete closing of fishing in the area. "We supported the sanctuary concept but wanted the continuation of our healthy bottom fisheries up there," Ms. Simonds said in a telephone interview.

The move builds on actions of several previous presidents, notably Theodore Roosevelt and Bill Clinton. In 1909, Roosevelt designated much of the island chain a national wildlife refuge. At the end of his second term, Mr. Clinton issued two executive orders protecting marine resources around the refuge and ordering federal marine agencies to prepare for the marine sanctuary designation.

Jean-Michel Cousteau, the marine explorer and filmmaker, said it was important to ensure that the designation came with meaningful rules and enough money to protect and further study the region's biological resources. He recently spent five weeks filming in the area and showed the resulting documentary at the White House in April. A senior administration official said the film had a powerful effect on Mr. Bush and Laura Bush. Only once before, in February, has Mr. Bush created a national monument: at the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan. Some 400 remains of enslaved and free Africans from the 17th and 18th centuries were discovered there in 1991.



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 June 2006


But apparently daytime aircraft flights are now good!

Restrictions on night flights could ease the aviation industry's fast-growing contribution to global warming, a study says. At certain altitudes, aircraft produce contrails, the vapour wake caused when water in the chilly atmosphere is condensed by the plane's hot exhaust. These contrails have a surprisingly big but also complex effect on the climate. Because they are clouds, they trap heat that is emitted by the Earth's surface, creating a "greenhouse effect" that adds to warming. Yet during daytime, these clouds have a cooling effect because they are white and reflect some of the Sun's energy back into space. In certain conditions, contrails can exist for several hours.

Meteorologists at the University of Reading in southern England estimated the radiation caused by contrails at a busy flight corridor in south-east England. Using high-resolution aircraft flight data and routine weather balloon data, they looked at "persistent" contrails: wakes that remained for an hour or more after the aircraft had flown over. Night flights account for only 22 per cent of Britain's annual air traffic but contribute between 60 to 80 per cent of the greenhouse effect from contrails, the scientists found. "We also found that flights between December and February contribute half of the annual mean climate warming, even though they account for less than a quarter of annual air traffic," lead researcher Nicola Stuber said. The study appears in the weekly British science journal Nature....

Environmentalists are angry, complaining that airlines get a free ride when it comes to environmental taxes. In addition to rescheduling night flights for the daytime, planes could diminish their contribution to global warming by changing their altitude. A study published last year in the journal Transportation Research suggests that the regions of "ice-supersaturated" air where contrails form is only about 500 metres thick. The goal would be to fit sensors on aircraft that could inform pilots where this layer lies, thus enabling them to shift altitude accordingly.

More here


Nutty anthropologist disproves his own claims -- Proves that it is primitive society that is fragile

Our ancestors made themselves and us more vulnerable to the vagaries of nature and the weather once they switched from hunting and gathering to farming. So says Brian Fagan, emeritus professor of anthropology from University of California at Santa Barbara, who spoke on the impact of climate change on ancient societies at the Environmental Wars conference of the Skeptics Society last weekend. Fagan's chief claim is that Farming in this case stands for the advent of more complex and interconnected societies. Fagan argues that nimble hunter/gatherers could respond to environmental changes faster than farmers and urbanites who are tied to their land and their cities.

Fagan began his talk by describing his sojourn as a young man in a village of subsistence farmers in the Zambezi Valley in Africa. These farmers lived on the edge. In September and October, the farmers cleared and burnt the land in preparation for planting. Once the land was ready, they waited for the rain and when it came they hurried to plant their crops. The year Fagan lived in that village, the rain failed after the crops were planted and the village granaries emptied and the villagers suffered starvation. He noted in passing that he did not have any trouble getting food. "I have never forgotten what I learned about vulnerability," declared Fagan.

Fagan posits that human societies increased their vulnerability to natural catastrophes over the past 10,000 years (evidently more fully described in his book, The Long Summer: How climate changed civilization). Thus, climate change is responsible for humanity's shift to farming. Farming, according to Fagan, began in the Fertile Crescent after temperatures plunged during a global cold snap known as the Younger Dryas period. People living off abundant forests of pistachio nut trees and other plant foods had actually settled into permanent villages. As temperatures fell, the forest began to disappear and Neolithic people could no longer depend on its bounty. But instead of moving on, people in the area began the deliberate cultivation of wild plants; in other words, they became farmers. Fagan argues that farming led to "radically enhanced vulnerability," even though the new economy "spread like wildfire" and dominated the region by 8000 BC.

Fagan turns next to ancient Egypt where the Pharaonic system was established on the basis of abundant grain harvests. The Pharaohs claimed authority based on their ability to intercede with the gods to supply the annual Nile River floods that nourished Egypt's bountiful grain fields. Fagan notes that a good flood was a mere nine feet. However, a 60 year period of gradual drying began around 2180 BC as an El Nino drought struck the Ethiopian headwaters of the Nile. In fact the river became so dry that people could walk across it. In the face of these grain shortages, Egypt fell apart and local warlords seized control. It took 100 years for Egypt to reunify and later Pharaohs massively invested in irrigation and grain storage in order to avoid the fate of their improvident predecessors.

Fagan then considers the rise and fall of the Moche on the north coast of Peru between 200 and 600 AD. Northern Peru is one of the driest areas on earth, but the Moche thrived by settling in river valleys that laced the region. These irrigation societies were headed by a caste of warrior priests who were treated by their people as infallible gods, according to Fagan. However, around 600 AD a major earthquake wiped out the Moche's irrigation systems. After the earthquake an intense El Nino drought finished off the Moche, and the culture's rigid, inflexible leaders were overthrown.

Fagan's final dolorous example of human vulnerability to climatic events is Europe in the year 1315. Medieval life was set by the passage of seasons and never seemed to change. Ninety percent of Europeans lived from one harvest to the next. The only noises heard in this bucolic world were those made by the wind, birds, and church bells. Then one day it started to rain and rain and rain. The fields turned to mud and marginal soils washed away. By Christmas people were hungry. The stormy period lasted for seven years and by 1321 one and half million Europeans had died of starvation.

Fagan argues that modern human societies are as vulnerable as the earlier ones. But is that so? Let's go back to his account of the invention of agriculture. What happened is that our ancestors exchanged one set of vulnerabilities for another when they switched from gathering wild nuts and berries to farming.

Of course, there are always tradeoffs. Some archaeologists argue that early farmers were in general less healthy than their hunter/gatherer ancestors resulting lower life expectancies. They claim that farmers suffered more epidemic diseases from living in close quarters with others and that their limited grain-based diets fostered malnutrition. However, these claims are disputed, and in any case, even if ancient farmers experienced lower life expectancies than hunter/gatherers, they must have also experienced higher fertility rates because human populations began to grow after the invention of agriculture.

Farming produced storable food surpluses that freed some portion of the population from having to spend every day all day scrounging for their subsistence. True, many of these people wasted a lot of effort on religious mumbo jumbo, but some spent their time inventing pottery, writing, weaving, metal working and so forth. Rather than increasing vulnerability these new arts and technologies helped make people more resilient rather than more vulnerable. On balance, the switch made humanity less vulnerable to the vagaries of nature. Farming increased the security of food supplies, and allowed the creation of larger scale societies in which people could trade surpluses. Dynasties and even cultures pass into history, but farmers and farming remain.

As evidence of our increased modern vulnerability to nature's whims, Fagan cites the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Katrina proves many things-among them, don't trust governments to build levees or organize effective emergency responses-but does it demonstrat increased overall vulnerability? Hardly. Katrina killed more than 1,800 people (there are hundreds more still missing), destroyed billions of dollars of property, and disrupted energy supplies, yet the American economy shrugged off the blow and continued to expand. Our elaborate globe-spanning networks of energy supplies, computers and trade actually buffer us against the effects of natural disasters.

Look back at Fagan's experience living in a village in the Zambezi Valley, where the anthropologist actually missed the lesson he should have learned. Recall that Fagan said that he never lacked for food. Didn't he ask himself: Why are the villagers starving while I'm not? Unlike the Zambezi villagers, Fagan had access to the outside modern world that could supply him Nestle chocolate, canned Spam, rolled oatmeal, powdered milk and whatever else he needed. He was less vulnerable to starvation because he did not depend on the rains falling at a specific time in a specific place.

The good news is that when the rains fail in southern Africa today, the villagers have greater access food and other supplies from across the globe-much as Fagan had five decades ago. For example, four years ago, when famine threatened (due to drought and unbelievably stupid government policies) grain was rushed to Zambia and Zimbabwe and starvation mostly averted. It is very unlikely that droughts or floods will devastate every agricultural region across the globe all at once. Mother Nature can still be a bitch, but Fagan is simply wrong when he claims that modern societies are more and more vulnerable to her caprices. Our interconnected and globalized world provides more and more of humanity with radically enhanced security rather than increased vulnerability.

Reason Online, 9 June 2006

Scientists respond to Gore's warnings of climate catastrophe

"The Inconvenient Truth" is indeed inconvenient to alarmists

"Scientists have an independent obligation to respect and present the truth as they see it," Al Gore sensibly asserts in his film "An Inconvenient Truth", showing at Cumberland 4 Cinemas in Toronto since Jun 2. With that outlook in mind, what do world climate experts actually think about the science of his movie? Professor Bob Carter of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University, in Australia gives what, for many Canadians, is a surprising assessment: "Gore's circumstantial arguments are so weak that they are pathetic. It is simply incredible that they, and his film, are commanding public attention."

But surely Carter is merely part of what most people regard as a tiny cadre of "climate change skeptics" who disagree with the "vast majority of scientists" Gore cites? No; Carter is one of hundreds of highly qualified non-governmental, non-industry, non-lobby group climate experts who contest the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing significant global climate change. "Climate experts" is the operative term here. Why? Because what Gore's "majority of scientists" think is immaterial when only a very small fraction of them actually work in the climate field.

Even among that fraction, many focus their studies on the impacts of climate change; biologists, for example, who study everything from insects to polar bears to poison ivy. "While many are highly skilled researchers, they generally do not have special knowledge about the causes of global climate change," explains former University of Winnipeg climatology professor Dr. Tim Ball. "They usually can tell us only about the effects of changes in the local environment where they conduct their studies." This is highly valuable knowledge, but doesn't make them climate change cause experts, only climate impact experts. So we have a smaller fraction.

But it becomes smaller still. Among experts who actually examine the causes of change on a global scale, many concentrate their research on designing and enhancing computer models of hypothetical futures. "These models have been consistently wrong in all their scenarios," asserts Ball. "Since modelers concede computer outputs are not "predictions" but are in fact merely scenarios, they are negligent in letting policy-makers and the public think they are actually making forecasts."

We should listen most to scientists who use real data to try to understand what nature is actually telling us about the causes and extent of global climate change. In this relatively small community, there is no consensus, despite what Gore and others would suggest. Here is a small sample of the side of the debate we almost never hear:

Appearing before the Commons Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development last year, Carleton University paleoclimatologist Professor Tim Patterson testified, "There is no meaningful correlation between CO2 levels and Earth's temperature over this [geologic] time frame. In fact, when CO2 levels were over ten times higher than they are now, about 450 million years ago, the planet was in the depths of the absolute coldest period in the last half billion years." Patterson asked the committee, "On the basis of this evidence, how could anyone still believe that the recent relatively small increase in CO2 levels would be the major cause of the past century's modest warming?" Patterson concluded his testimony by explaining what his research and "hundreds of other studies" reveal: on all time scales, there is very good correlation between Earth's temperature and natural celestial phenomena such changes in the brightness of the Sun.

Dr. Boris Winterhalter, former marine researcher at the Geological Survey of Finland and professor in marine geology, University of Helsinki, takes apart Gore's dramatic display of Antarctic glaciers collapsing into the sea. "The breaking glacier wall is a normally occurring phenomenon which is due to the normal advance of a glacier," says Winterhalter. "In Antarctica the temperature is low enough to prohibit melting of the ice front, so if the ice is grounded, it has to break off in beautiful ice cascades. If the water is deep enough icebergs will form."

Dr. Wibjorn Karlen, emeritus professor, Dept. of Physical Geography and Quaternary Geology, Stockholm University, Sweden, admits, "Some small areas in the Antarctic Peninsula have broken up recently, just like it has done back in time. The temperature in this part of Antarctica has increased recently, probably because of a small change in the position of the low pressure systems." But Karlen clarifies that the 'mass balance' of Antarctica is positive - more snow is accumulating than melting off. As a result, Ball explains, there is an increase in the 'calving' of icebergs as the ice dome of Antarctica is growing and flowing to the oceans. When Greenland and Antarctica are assessed together, "their mass balance is considered to possibly increase the sea level by 0.03 mm/year - not much of an effect," Karlen concludes.

The Antarctica has survived warm and cold events over millions of years. A meltdown is simply not a realistic scenario in the foreseeable future. Gore tells us in the film, "Starting in 1970, there was a precipitous drop-off in the amount and extent and thickness of the Arctic ice cap." This is misleading, according to Ball: "The survey that Gore cites was a single transect across one part of the Arctic basin in the month of October during the 1960s when we were in the middle of the cooling period. The 1990 runs were done in the warmer month of September, using a wholly different technology."

Karlen explains that a paper published in 2003 by University of Alaska professor Igor Polyakov shows that, the region of the Arctic where rising temperature is supposedly endangering polar bears showed fluctuations since 1940 but no overall temperature rise. "For several published records it is a decrease for the last 50 years," says Karlen

Dr. Dick Morgan, former advisor to the World Meteorological Organization and climatology researcher at University of Exeter, U.K. gives the details, "There has been some decrease in ice thickness in the Canadian Arctic over the past 30 years but no melt down. The Canadian Ice Service records show that from 1971-1981 there was average, to above average, ice thickness. From 1981-1982 there was a sharp decrease of 15% but there was a quick recovery to average, to slightly above average, values from 1983-1995. A sharp drop of 30% occurred again 1996-1998 and since then there has been a steady increase to reach near normal conditions since 2001."

Concerning Gore's beliefs about worldwide warming, Morgan points out that, in addition to the cooling in the NW Atlantic, massive areas of cooling are found in the North and South Pacific Ocean; the whole of the Amazon Valley; the north coast of South America and the Caribbean; the eastern Mediterranean, Black Sea, Caucasus and Red Sea; New Zealand and even the Ganges Valley in India. Morgan explains, "Had the IPCC used the standard parameter for climate change (the 30 year average) and used an equal area projection, instead of the Mercator (which doubled the area of warming in Alaska, Siberia and the Antarctic Ocean) warming and cooling would have been almost in balance."

Gore's point that 200 cities and towns in the American West set all time high temperature records is also misleading according to Dr. Roy Spencer, Principal Research Scientist at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. "It is not unusual for some locations, out of the thousands of cities and towns in the U.S., to set all-time records," he says. "The actual data shows that overall, recent temperatures in the U.S. were not unusual."

Carter does not pull his punches about Gore's activism, "The man is an embarrassment to US science and its many fine practitioners, a lot of whom know (but feel unable to state publicly) that his propaganda crusade is mostly based on junk science."

In April sixty of the world's leading experts in the field asked Prime Minister Harper to order a thorough public review of the science of climate change, something that has never happened in Canada. Considering what's at stake - either the end of civilization, if you believe Gore, or a waste of billions of dollars, if you believe his opponents - it seems like a reasonable request.



Professor Stephen Hawking's latest fears for the future of humanity have been criticised by academics for being contradictory and little more than hype for his forthcoming book. The famous physicist said that the human race was likely to be wiped out by a manmade, doomsday virus before the millennium was out, unless we set up colonies in space. He told a UK national newspaper that genetic engineering could be used to "improve" human beings to meet the challenges of long-duration space travel. Professor Hawking's comments came in advance of his new publication entitled The Universe in a Nutshell.

But Dr Benny Peiser, from Liverpool John Moores University, UK, was highly critical of the reported remarks. He told BBC News Online that Hawking's predictions of terrestrial disaster had become increasingly wide-ranging and unreasonable in recent years.

And space visionary Sir Arthur C Clarke told BBC News Online: "I am surprised Professor Hawking didn't mention the danger of an asteroid impact which is inevitable sooner or later. Admittedly, this is most unlikely to wipe out the human race, but it could send us back to the Stone Age."

Leading British anthropologist Dr Benny Peiser described the comments in the Daily Telegraph newspaper as "regrettable hype". "Over a year ago, he warned that the Earth was likely to get hotter and hotter as a result of manmade CO2 emissions 'until it will be like Venus with boiling sulphuric acid'... Now, drawing on the dread of bioterrorism, his latest doomsday prophecy foretells our certain self-destruction as a result of biological research." He added: "Apocalyptics typically exaggerate the possible dangers we may face in the future while ignoring or underestimating the probability of finding a social, technological or medical remedy for the predicament."

Dr Peiser said that humans and our hominid ancestors had survived more than five million years of recurring onslaughts from ice ages, impacts from space, and global plague epidemics. "Technological and societal evolution has now reached a level of complexity that renders the probability of human survival for the next 1,000 years drastically higher than at any previous stage of our long history. "There is no reason to believe that our generation or [any in this] millennium will be the last one on Earth," he added.

BBC News Online


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

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

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


15 June 2006


Sounds a mouldy idea to me!

The 12 million square feet of dreary new carpet the state buys for its offices each year -- enough to cover 208 football fields or 47 miles of four-lane freeway -- is about to get a lot greener. Under a new government purchasing policy called the "California Gold Sustainable Carpet Standard," companies selling broadloom to the state will be required to ensure it contains at least 10 percent recycled fiber and fewer smelly and headache-inducing emissions, known as "volatile organic compounds."

Details of the new carpet standard, which goes into effect Sept. 1 and which is being watched closely by a dozen other states, are described in a management memo the state has sent all its department heads. A copy of the memo was obtained by The Bee. The standard requires that carpet vendors that want to do business with the state must also:

* Take back more worn carpets and ensure their fibers get recycled at specialized facilities, such as L.A. Fiber Co. of Los Angeles.

* Get certified by a third party as a maker of environmentally friendly and sustainable carpets, whether they are made with petrochemical or bio-based materials.

Carpet makers that are members of the Carpet & Rug Institute, a Georgia-based national trade group representing about 90 per cent of manufacturers, are aware of California's new standard and are gearing up to ensure their products and manufacturing processes will meet it, said Bill Branch, a spokesman for the Department of General Services. "California did go a little further on the carpet standard, as California is wont to do, adding a few little twists, but nothing that has got we people in the industry exercised," said Werner Braun, the institute's president. "The industry was out there doing this before California got involved, so it was happy that California has decided to standardize its carpet purchases."

California buys about $26 million worth of new carpet for its departments and agencies each year, Branch said. It replaces worn broadloom and outfits new government buildings and leased facilities, he added. Branch said the state removes and needs to dispose of 5.3 million square feet of worn carpet every year. A December 2004 study by the California Integrated Waste Management Board estimated that about 840,000 tons of worn carpets land in California landfills each year, representing about 2 percent of all state waste.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to see worn carpets diverted from landfills to recyclers, adopting an executive order in 2004 to promote environmentally sustainable practices in state buildings, Branch said. Recyclers take old carpets and process them into new carpet underpads, furniture battings and cushions, reinforcing filler for concrete, fence posts, road underlayment, plastic lumber and automotive parts.

Asked whether the more stringent requirements will boost prices the state pays for its new carpets, Branch replied: "We have heard from some in the carpet industry that this should not affect carpet prices." California's new carpet policy is the result of ongoing efforts that began in October 2003. An interagency carpet working group has met 13 times since then to develop the carpet standard, a more stringent version of a draft national standard. State officials also held two public meetings in 2005 that were attended by many players in the national carpet and design industry, Branch said. The carpet effort is part of a larger state task force whose mission is to develop more environmentally friendly purchasing policies.


Keeping Taxpayers in the Dark (Ithaca Solar Panels lose nearly a million bucks)

Once again proving that social engineering and taxpayer money shouldn't mix comes this news from Ithaca, New York: In 1999, the Tompkins County Board of Representatives voted to install solar power on the roof of the country library. (In cold, dark upstate NY.)

It will be paid for with $551,025 of County funds -- an addition to the library capital project -- and $455,514 in grants from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy.

So, how much power has their system generated since $1,006,539 was spent to install it? 460,124 kilowatt hours (kWh) since it was installed, in July of 2001. On the open market 460,124 kWh would cost a commercial user (assuming an astronomically high average price of $0.10 per kWh) about $46,000. Only in The City of Evil could spending over a million dollars to generate at most $9,358 worth of electricity per year make sense.


We Don't Harm Nature, Nature Harms Us

I recently came across an advertisement with a big picture of a polar bear and a penguin off some paradise shore with a long, nice beach and palm trees in the background. The text said something like "are you afraid of what's happening to the environment? Us too, buy our products and it will all get better." I don't blame companies for trying to sell their products, but all this global warming talk makes me nervous. No, I'm not nervous because humankind is beating up the environment causing our own destruction. That, I am sure, is not really true. I am nervous because all this talk of nature, and this planet for that matter, means two things: first, that people are ignorant and gullible, and second, that technology-hating progress-wanna-stopper environmentalists will get even more influential.

That people are ignorant and gullible is perhaps no news, but that a lie can so firmly get rooted among people all over the world as this greenhouse effect thing is certainly terrifying. Everybody "knows" something very bad is going on and that it is the market's and the corporations' fault. The newspapers and TV and radio stations are packed with reports of yet another "natural disaster" and journalists never seem to miss the opportunity to make it seem more government is needed to fix it all. The global and domestic markets are way too free of government intervention, they say.

Of course all the ignorants out there eventually will believe this massive propaganda. People in general like to be fed with information rather than get off their butts and try to find it themselves (a single Google search would lead them to the unbiased facts on It does not really matter what the united media and politics front claims when they do it so persistently and on a global scale; as we know, you just have to repeat one lie over and over again to make people believe it is true. It is the same whether corporations are said to cause a global meltdown of nature or saying the earth is flat and the center of the universe.

Sooner or later someone will, by mistake or not, find the truth and be brave and strong enough to claim everybody's wrong even though he or she will be persecuted. Like Copernicus and Galileo claimed everybody was wrong about the world and the universe. It is impossible to know who will be the one who finally makes the big crack in the wall of lies, but someone will. Sooner or later.

The problem comes with the thing that makes me nervous: the environmentalists. These people seem to have a Rousseauean "noble savage" ideal and want us all to live in the jungle like apes. At least, they are doing whatever they can to stop everything that is civilized and increase everything that is not. They seem to want to abolish technology, science, and everything about the economy, but they really, really want to increase the size of government and they would probably not hesitate to use it to force urban people into body labor at some distant farm or preserve somewhere.

When you combine the two, the gullible and truth-avoiding masses with the increasing influence of anti-civilizationists, you make me real nervous. It should be no surprise statists in general welcome the judgment day prophesies of the environmentalists. Even if they do not share the same end goal, they do have a common interest in increasing the size of government. And if lying is all it takes to realize that, then why the hell wait?

But I fail to realize how they could ever get this far, even though power seems to be an enormous incentive for people to actually do something. It is easy to understand that they can just continue to play their game now when the ball is already in play. But it takes a lot of skill to get it rolling in the first place. How do they do it? In spite of everything, all the facts show the exact opposite of what these people say. These guys are real pros. Based on data collected only for the last one hundred years (collection of climate data began in the early 20th century), out of earth's total estimated lifetime of five billion or so years, the environmentalists claim everything we know and hold dear is going down the drain. And they can do it pretty much unquestioned too. They must be doing something right or they have hired the world's very best communication experts to work 24/7 on creating this mass hysteria.

After all, the findings in the old ice buried deep down on the poles show the climate is always changing and that throughout history the temperature has been frequently bouncing up and down. There's a reason the Vikings called that big island northeast of Canada "Greenland" when they discovered it in the 9th century, don't you think? The truth, it seems, is that we have not screwed nature even though we are not always as loving and caring as we perhaps should be. We've been screwed by environmentalists.


The Past is the Key to the Present: Greenhouse and Icehouse over Time

(Excerpts from an article by Professor Ian Plimer, School of Earth Sciences, The University of Melbourne)

For 80% of time, planet Earth has been a warm wet greenhouse planet. Polar icecaps are rare, plants have only be on Earth for 10% of time and 99.99% of all life that has ever existed is extinct. Global atmospheric CO2 and CH4 have been variable over time and have decreased over time whereas O2 has been in the atmosphere for 50% of time, has greatly fluctuated and has increased over time. There have been 5 major and numerous minor mass extinctions of complex life, extinction opens new environments for colonisation and, because former terrestrial animals have become extinct, we humans now have a habitat.

Sea levels have risen and fallen thousands of time by up to 400 metres, land levels constantly rise and fall and massive rapid climate changes derived from supernovae, solar flaring, sunspots, meteorites, comets, uplift of mountain ranges, pulling apart of oceans, stitching together of land masses, drifting continents, orbital changes, changes in the shape of Earth, ice armadas, changes in ocean currents and volcanoes. There is no evidence that life has changed climates. The major components of the atmosphere have been added by volcanicity and other components are added by life, principally from the organisms that have ruled and continue to rule the world (bacteria). The messages written in stone show that the lithosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and biosphere are constantly interacting on our dynamic evolving planet. There is no evidence to suggest that the future of planet Earth will be significantly different from its past. However, planet Earth is not a spaceship and the great environmental changes in the past have been related to rocky and icy visitors from space.....

The zenith of the last glaciation was 18,000 years ago. Sea level was 130 metres lower than today, temperature was 10-15øC lower than today and there were very strong cold winds. The northern hemisphere was covered by ice to 38 §N with more northern areas such as Scandinavia was covered by 3 km of ice. The loading of the polar areas with ice changed the shape of the planet, the planet's rotation changed and as a result ocean currents distributing heat across the Earth were changed. Humans lived very short lives around the edge of ice sheets. Australia was scoured by anti-cyclonic winds that deposited sand dunes and carried sea salt spray to be trapped in the inland basins. Tasmania and parts of the south eastern highlands of Australia were covered in ice and sea level was so low that Aboriginals walked to Tasmania from mainland Australia. Rainforest disappeared with the Amazon Basin consisting of grasslands and copses of trees.

The northern polar ice sheet started to melt 14,700 years ago. There were very rapid and major temperature fluctuations, sea level rose and fell and the total sea level rise over the last 14,700 years has been at least 130 metres. Land masses previously covered with ice started to rise. For example, Scandinavia is still rising and has risen more than 340 metres over the last 14,700 years. As a counterbalance, the Netherlands, south eastern England, Schleswig-Holstein and Denmark are sinking. The breaching of dams of melt waters filled the oceans with cold surface waters 12,000-11,000 and 8,500-8,000 years ago resulting in changed climates, an increase in sea level and changes to ocean currents. After these intensely cool periods, temperatures rose by 5-10øC in the space of a few decades. Sea level rise resulted in the breaching of the Mediterranean into the Black Sea Basin some 7,600 years ago and is probably the origin of the Sumarian, Babylonian and biblical stories of a great flood.

One of the consequences of a massive sea level rise over the last 14,700 years is that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet was no longer unpinned by the land. Two thirds of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapsed into the oceans and sea level rose 12 metres. The final third of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has yet to collapse to produce a 6 metre sea level rise as part of the dynamic post-glacial climate on Earth. Climate changes induced by changes in ocean currents cooled North Africa, grasslands changed to a desert, humans migrated and the great Mesopotamian cities were established.

Sea levels were 1-3 metres higher in a greenhouse 6,000 years ago. There was 20% more rainfall. Cold dry periods, glacier expansion and crop failures between 5,800 and 4,900 years ago resulted in deforestation, flooding, silting of irrigation channels, salinisation and the collapse of the Sumerian city states. Long periods of El Nino-induced drought resulted in the abandonment of Middle Eastern, Indian and North American towns. In 1470 BC (?), Thira exploded and threw 30 cubic kilometers of dust into the atmosphere. The tsunami, ash blanket and destruction of Thira greatly weakened the dominant Minoans. This led to the rise of the Mycaeneans and Greeks. One volcano changed the course of western history.

Global cooling from 1,300 to 500 BC gave rise to the advance of glaciers, migration, invasion and famine. Global warming commenced again at 500 BC, there was an excess of food and great empires such as the Ashoka, Ch'hin and the Romans grew. Contemporary records and Roman clothing shows that conditions were some 5øC warmer than today.

In 535 AD Krakatoa exploded, as did Rabaul in 536 AD. The Earth passed through cometary dust in 536 AD. The dusty atmosphere reflected heat and darkness prevailed and, as a result, the climate cooled and there was famine and warfare. Changes in ocean currents resulted in the Medieval Warm Period from 900 to 1300 AD. The first to feel the change were the Vikings who were able to navigate the northern waters, colonized Newfoundland, colonized Greenland and established extensive trade routes as far south as the modern Gulf States. On Greenland, crops were grown and there were cattle. This would not be possible today. The warmer wetter climate of Europe produced excess crops and wealth which resulted in the building of castles, cathedrals and monastries. As with previous greenhouse events, there was great prosperity.

In 1280 AD, volcanic eruptions on Iceland and a change in ocean currents started the Little Ice Age which finished in 1920. The North Sea froze in 1303 and 1306-1307, there was massive famine in 1315 and the plague pandemic attacked the weakened population in 1347-1349. There was massive depopulation and it took Europe 250 years to reach the population of 1280 AD. During the Little Ice Age, there were warmer periods associated with sunspot activity. During minimum sunspot activity (1440-1460, 1687-1703 and 1808-1821), the intensely cold conditions were recorded by the Dutch masters and King Henry VIII was able to roast oxen on the frozen Thames. There were food shortages. Short cold periods occurred after the eruptions of Tambora (1815) and Krakatoa (1883) respectively. In fact, 1816 was known as the 'year without a summer'. This was the time when Turner painted stormy oceans and skies full of volcanic dust, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein and Byron wrote Darkness.

The twentieth Century and early 21st Century AD are times of natural post-glacial rebound. Ice sheets, a rare phenomenon in the history of time, still exist. Sea level is relatively low, as are global temperatures and atmospheric CO2. Between 1920 and 1945, there was a period of warming (0.37øC) and another that commenced in 1976 (0.32øC). In 1976-1977, global temperatures in the lower atmosphere jumped 0.3øC, sea surface temperature in the equatorial Pacific jumped 0.6øC, sea surface temperature during upwelling increased 1.5 to 3øC but there was reduced upwelling, the heat content of the upper 300 metres of the world's oceans increased, there was increased wave activity in the North Sea and the length of the day changed. The stepwise increase in temperature in 1976-1977 shows that there was a major re-ordering of the ocean heat transport coinciding with an orbital change expressed as a change in the length of the day. Maybe global warming of the 20th Century is just a measure of the variability on a dynamic evolving planet?

To put such measurements into perspective over the history of time, changes in atmospheric temperature in the 20th Century can only be considered small and slow. A 24 year global coverage of satellite atmosphere temperatures shows only modest warming in the Northern Hemisphere and a slight cooling in the Southern Hemisphere. Temperature measurements from balloons agree with the satellite measurements for the period of overlap. Because greenhouse warming is a phenomenon of the atmosphere, significant changes should have been recorded. They have not.

Science is married to evidence and bathes in modest uncertainty. The nature of science is skepticism and science encourages argument and dissent. Scientific evidence is derived from reproducible observation, measurement, experiment and calculation. Evidence in geology is interdisciplinary, terrestrial and extra-terrestrial and shows the complex and fascinating intertwining of evolving natural processes on a dynamic planet. Scientists engage in healthy argument about the veracity of evidence. On the basis of evidence, an explanation called a scientific theory is constructed. A scientific theory is the best available explanation of evidence, it may change with new evidence and it must be coherent with the existing body of knowledge. Scientists also argue about scientific theory. Scientific theories are testable and once the scientific theory has been tested over time, it becomes accepted into the body of knowledge. The word belief is not used in science because belief is untestable. This process has not taken place with the construction of what is popularly called the greenhouse effect. Furthermore, science is unable to make judgments about what is good or bad. These are judgments with vary with time and are based on contemporary politics, religion, aesthetics and culture.

Underpinning the global warming and climate change mantra is the imputation that humans live on a non-dynamic planet. On all scales of observation and measurement, sea level and climate are not constant. Change is normal and is driven by a large number of natural forces. Change can be slow or very fast. However, we see political slogans such as Stop Climate Change or government publications such as Living with Climate Change demonstrating that both the community and government believe that climate variability and change are not normal. By using the past as the key to the present, we are facing the next inevitable glaciation yet the climate, economic, political and social models of today assess the impact of a very slight warming and do not evaluate the higher risk of yet another glaciation. Geology, archaeology and history show that during glaciation, famine, war, depopulation and extinction are the norm.

In 1831, Admiral Sir James Robert George Graham had the Union Jack hoisted on a volcanic land mass that suddenly appeared near Sicily. It was called Graham Bank and was claimed by England. It was also claimed by the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies who called it Isola Ferdinandea, the French (L'Isle Julia) and other powers who variously named it Nerita, Hotham, Scicca and Corrao. In the subsequent dispute over ownership, France and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies almost came to war and England and the Two Kingdoms of Sicily had a diplomatic row. During the intense diplomatic dispute, the island quietly slipped back underwater. In 1987, US warplanes thought the dark mass 8 metres below sea level was a Libyan submarine and attacked it with depth charges.

In February 2000 when the volcano again stirred, Domenico Macalusa, a surgeon, diver and the Honorary Inspector of Sicilian Cultural Relics, took action. He persuaded Charles and Camilla, the last two surviving relatives of the Bourbon Kings of the Two Sicilies to fund the bolting of a 150 kg marble plaque to the volcano at some 20 metres below sea level. The plaque pre-empted ownership if the volcano ever again rose above sea level. It was placed underwater in September 2001, by November 2002, person or persons unknown had smashed the plaque into 12 pieces. This rock is worth nothing, is of no use as a territorial possession and is of no scientific interest and yet the French and Bourbons nearly came to war 170 years ago and the English and Italians are still in dispute. Graham Banks serves to show that whatever political decisions we humans make, the land rises and falls, sea level rises and fall and climates change as they have done since the dawn of time.


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 June 2006

Spacecraft seek climate clarity

An admission that the experts don't even know the basics about many of the variables that they so gaily inject into their "models"

Some of the gaping holes that exist in our understanding of the Earth's atmosphere will be answered by two new satellites launched on Friday. The Cloudsat and Calipso missions will study how clouds and aerosols (fine particles) form, evolve and affect our climate, the weather and air quality. Scientists say knowledge gaps in such areas severely hamper their ability to forecast future climate change. Different types of cloud, for example, can help cool or warm the planet. "We will be making the key observations that address this problem," said Dr Graeme Stephens, the Cloudsat principal investigator from Colorado State University, US.

The US space agency (Nasa) satellites were launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 1002 GMT, after a week of delays due to technical problems and unfavourable wind conditions. They have been put in a 705km (438 miles) circular, sun-synchronous polar orbit, where they will fly in formation just 15 seconds apart. The spacecraft are part of an Earth-observation constellation Nasa calls the "A-Train".

The Cloudsat spacecraft carries an extremely sensitive radar. It sends short pulses of microwave energy down into the atmosphere, and by recording the way these pulses are scattered back to the satellite obtains a picture of the structure and water content of clouds. "The strength of the return from the radar is actually directly related to the amount of water that's in clouds. Effectively, it allows us to weigh the clouds," explained Dr Stephens. "The time delay of the pulses means we can look at different levels and that gives us the profile of clouds."

Calipso stands for Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite. It uses lidar, which fires pulses of shorter wave energy - in the infrared and visible part of the spectrum - down into the atmosphere to obtain a different, but complementary, set of data from Cloudsat's. In particular, Calipso is concerned with aerosols. These very fine particles are thrown up into the atmosphere by natural processes, such as volcanic eruptions, dust and sand storms, and even sea spray. Human activities, also, produce aerosols: through burning of forests; and industrial and vehicle emissions.

Aerosols take very complex forms, and contain a range of chemical compounds. They can be solid or liquid, or even solid material inside a drop of liquid. And their longevity is highly varied, with some aerosols lasting a few days and others hanging in the air for months. "The bottom line here is that to measure aerosols is very difficult; you need a variety of instruments," explains Dr Charles Trepte, Calipso project scientist from the US space agency's Langley Research Center. "Nasa and other agencies have been making measurements of aerosols from space for many years, but the problem is that they haven't been able to measure all the properties; and one thing they are missing is the vertical distribution of aerosols in thin clouds."

Aerosols have a fundamental relationship with clouds by providing the nuclei on which cloud droplets can form. Clouds that form in clean air are made up of droplets that tend to get bigger because they form on fewer nuclei; and these clouds tend to rain more, too. Clouds that develop in dirty air form many more, but smaller, droplets. These clouds also look brighter. By picking apart these details, Calipso will help scientists understand the direct and indirect effects of aerosols on climate. "Directly, they can scatter sunlight back to space and have a cooling effect just by reducing the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth system," said Dr Trepte. "They can also absorb solar radiation and warm the atmosphere, possibly alter circulations, change the thermal stability of the atmosphere and perhaps inhibit convection. "And then they have the indirect effects of changing cloud properties, allowing them to last longer, changing the amount of precipitation - either increase it or decrease it - and perhaps even dim or brighten clouds so that they have better or worse reflecting properties."

The Cloudsat and Calipso missions have a number of objectives:

* Together, the satellites will provide the first statistics on the vertical structure of clouds. Scientists will be able to see clouds from their tops to their bottoms - like getting a CT scan of clouds from space

* Cloudsat and Calipso will give researchers the first indirect but validated estimate of how much clouds and aerosols contribute to the vertical distribution of atmospheric warming

* Cloudsat will provide the first global estimates of the percentage of Earth's clouds that produce rain

* Cloudsat will afford scientists the first vertically sliced picture of how much water and ice are in Earth's clouds

* Cloudsat will provide the first ability to detect snowfall from space

* Cloudsat will offer the first estimates of how efficiently the atmosphere produces rain from condensates

* Calipso will provide the first statistics on the global vertical distribution of aerosols and aerosol types

* Calipso will reveal for the first time how often "sub-visible" cirrus clouds - very thin clouds invisible to the naked eye - occur, and whether they change with the seasons

The new understanding obtained through the spacecraft will be fed into computer models, to improve their predictions. This should lead not just to better weather and air quality forecasts, but to reduced uncertainties in our expectations of future climate change. "A tiny, tiny fraction of the water on our planet is in clouds and yet that tiny, tiny fraction is what provides the fresh water on which humans depend," Dr Stephens said. "Clouds replenish our fresh water resources and yet we can't really tell you today how clouds will change under the pressures of global climate change."



Debates about energy on Fox News, the Republican Party's megaphone, reflect just how far Bush and his supporters have strayed from a priori economic truths, in adopting the Democratic agenda. The two ubiquitous interlocutors typically invited to "debate" energy-one a Democrat; the other a Republican-have no real disagreement about policy or the facts undergirding it. Their only quarrel concerns the degree to which Bush is carrying out the Democrats' plank; Democrat pinkos say not fast enough; Republican pinkos give him full marks.

Democrats don't even have to argue their case for the repugnant Marxist theory of environmentalism; Bush has accepted and acted on it-its fallacies inform his policies. As I've written:

"The theory used to be that capitalism was going to cause the impoverishment of the worker. The exact opposite transpired. Greater economic freedom, especially in developed nations, has enabled those who, in previous centuries would have lived short, nasty and brutish lives, to afford the accoutrements of modernity. The theory now is that the capitalist has taken a slight detour - the worker's demise will indeed follow as soon as the capitalist is through despoiling the environment."

Republicans have been converted: they are now "watermelons"-green on the outside, red on the inside. Duly, they ignore that supply and demand determine the price of gas-and that, other than taking care in future not to reduce supply by pulverizing a country that was once a major oil producer-supply has to be increased to reduce prices.

Furthermore, the price system is the best way to conserve. Americans are already adjusting consumption because of prices. Dare to meddle with these, as Bill O'Reilly advocates, and shortages or surpluses will follow in short succession. If you cap prices (or profits, as Comrade Bill advocates), people will conserve less because prices will have been artificially lowered, and suppliers will have no incentive to drill for crude and bring it to market. If the eco-idiots don't want lines at the pump the likes Iraqis are now enduring, let the price system work to conserve-and to secure supply.

Any impending scarcity is the responsibility of the powerful environmental lobby's opposition to oil exploration-and the governments that have heeded it. This lobby has seen to it that a domestic moratorium and thousands of regulations and restrictions have been foisted over the years on industry in a bungling attempt at conservation. The prices at the pump are their handiwork. Absent legislative barriers to exploration, courtesy of ignorant environmentalists, high prices would, ordinarily, signal to oil companies that there are profits to be made, and that they should intensify drilling, refining, etc. In short, get more product to market.

As to the "commie cars" Bush is pushing, much to the delight of Democrats: Don't expect Bush (who recently spoke of reducing "greenhouse admissions"), the Fox fillies, affiliated fops, or any other ignoramus on the networks, to tell you what they apparently don't understand-also the only thing you need to know about electric, hydrogen, and hybrid gas-and-electric vehicles-these are only as good as the original source of energy that powers them.

Take the Hydrogen vehicle: energy is released when water (H2O) is separated into Hydrogen and Oxygen. Notwithstanding that this process is not economically viable, and thus far more wasteful than oil extraction, to bring about this reaction, coal, natural gas, nuclear power, or a hydroelectric dam is required first. Dah! America's "People's Car"-engineered due to the same central planning that brought into being the lowly Russian Lada (it was decreed by USSR's Ministries Council)-is only as clean as "the original source of energy that generated the vim that powers it."


Arnie's Carbon mania

A wise investor puts her money in investments that offer the highest returns at the lowest cost. A poor investor puts his money in investments that offer low returns at a higher cost. I don't know what you'd call an investor who puts lots of money into "investments" that offer no benefits, but "Schwarzenegger" might be a good label. The Governor's pledge to lower greenhouse gas emissions in California to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 will bring Californians little or no environmental benefit, while costing the citizenry a substantial amount of money. The Governor has long pandered to California's environmental interest groups, but as an earlier (and wiser) Republican Governor named Reagan observed, "Facts are stubborn things." So let's look at the stubborn facts.

If it worked perfectly, the legislation now in front of the California Legislature -- largely in line with the Governor's plan -- would lower California greenhouse gas emissions by 145 million tons by the year 2020. That might sound like a large reduction. But let's do some math. Global emissions of greenhouse gases in 2020 are estimated to be about 42.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent -- yes billions, with a 'b.' If California avoids emitting 145 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, that's about a 0.3 percent (three-tenths of one percent) reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions. Now let's figure out what benefit that provides. Despite people mislabeling greenhouse gases as "pollutants," greenhouse gases are non-toxic: the only benefit you get from reducing them is to avoid some degree of global warming in the future.

The predicted warming by the year 2020 according to the absolute worst-case computer models of the United Nations[2] is about about 1.3 degree (Fahrenheit). If we make the assumption that California's action will knock out temperature change equal to its greenhouse gas reductions (0.3 percent) we see that California's actions will avert about four one-thousandths of a degree of warming, an amount far too little to measure, much less to offer any benefits to Californians (or anyone else, for that matter).

So much for benefits, let's talk about costs. California politicians like to talk about California as if it were a country. So, let's pretend that's true, and assume the likely cost of GHG reductions in California will be similar to what's been estimated in other high-tech, economically-powerful countries. A 2002 study looked at the impact of greenhouse gas reductions on the economies of four European countries with goals about 20 percent weaker than what the Governor is proposing, so we'll call those least-cost estimates. Germany, according to that study, would lose nearly 3 percent of its gross domestic product and up to 1.3 million jobs annually by 2020, and ever after. The Netherlands would lose about 2 percent of GDP, and up to 180,000 jobs, while the UK would also lose about 2 percent of GDP, which could cost them up to 750,000 jobs.

What could the Governor do if he was serious about the threats posed by our ever-changing climate? The best thing he could do would be to drop the ludicrous idea of instituting global weather control via greenhouse gas controls and focus on making California's infrastructure resilient in the face of any climate change from any cause. For example, he might fix the perverse incentives that led people to put houses and business down in areas sensitive to small fluctuations in water supply, or weather. He might crusade against insurance subsidies that enable people to build (and repeatedly rebuild) in flood plains, on eroding beachfronts, on the ever-sliding hills of Malibu, or other regions particularly susceptible to climate-induced damage. He might end water subsidies that let farmers grow water-intensive crops in the desert, while wasting massive quantities of fresh water. He might work to establish competitive free markets in energy, agriculture and transportation to make these vital goods lean, mean, responsive machines.

It's not easy to communicate the idea that a policy of resilience and adaptability is in the best interests of Californians. Indeed, in the changing climate of California politics, it's apparently easier to play the role of carbon's Kindergarten Cop.



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 June 2006


Now the green-energy crowd is touting cellulosic ethanol. This is a blunder, one they will regret more than any of their previous blunders. It will level forests, destroy wetlands and disrupt ecosystems all around the globe. Or at least it will if the enabling technology ever becomes economical. And it might. Even a Republican President, in a State of the Union address, resolved to develop the technology "for producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks, or switchgrass."

The green logic is simple: Use carbohydrates to replace hydrocarbons. Farmers and the lumber industry generate copious amounts of cellulose-rich waste. America has lots of spare prairie, which grows grass. Gather the waste, harvest the grass and renewable biomass can replace dwindling supplies of crude. The global warming problem is solved, too, because plant growth pulls carbon out of the air.

In fact what lies ahead is an environmental debacle. Corn contains sugar, and sugars are easy to turn into ethanol. Just ask Anheuser-Busch or E. & J. Gallo. But to get a high-grade fuel out of wood, stalks or grass you have to take apart cellulose, a much tougher molecule. Some microbes and fungi can do it. So can cows, but only by filling their massive guts with those same microbes. And they do it inefficiently, and make quite a mess.

But the grass-to-fuel boosters don't plan to use cows. They plan to build chemical refineries that do the cow-gut thing much better. The key technical challenge is cheap production of huge quantities of robust, cellulose-splitting enzymes. Biochemists and genetic engineers could well find ways to deliver.

Plants won't celebrate if they do. (Consider, by way of analogy, how we humans might feel about a scheme to perfect flesh-eating bacteria, those mercifully rare strep bugs that digest muscles, fat and skin tissue with horrifying speed.) Plants pack their seeds with readily digestible sugar because they want animals to eat them. Most of the seeds get digested, but those that slip through get deposited, prefertilized, in some distant spot, where they grow another plant. Cellulose, by contrast, is the adult plant's armor and scaffold. Voracious animals don't strip every last plant off the face of the earth only because most animals must work so hard to digest what plants are mostly made of.

We humans, however, are exceptionally clever at stripping and exploiting. What we can't eat, we burn in our cooking fires and hearths. Or we burn down trees just to clear space for seed-bearing crops. Or for pasture to feed our cows. Western countries began to curb their appetite for green cellulose only a couple of centuries ago, when they discovered that it's often easier to dig up fossilized forms, like coal and oil. Most of humanity, however, still relies on the fresh stuff.

Now picture a world in which cellulose-splitting enzymes are cheaper than bottled water, and a pint poured into the steel cow behind your hut will quickly turn a hundred pounds of wood chips or grass into a gallon of diesel. However sensibly we Americans might use the enzymes in Kansas, we know where cow-gut chemistry will inevitably lead in rural Burundi, India or China. Sure, a villager will fill the still with waste cellulose first. The enzymes, however, are just as happy to take apart freshly cut wood or grass, and that's what villagers will use instead when they need or want more energy than waste alone can supply. Just as villagers do today when they cook. The one difference is this: When the villager harvests wood or grass today, he can only bake chapatis, heat his hut or feed his cow. With cheap enzymes at hand, he can also power a generator and a motorbike.

History has already taught us what a carbohydrate energy economy does to a rich, green landscape--it levels it. The carbon balance goes sharply negative, too, when stove or cow is fueled with anything but waste or crops from existing farmland. It's pleasant to imagine that humanity might get all its liquid fuels from stable, legacy farms or from debris that would otherwise end up as fungus food. But that just isn't how humans have historically fed whatever they could feed with cellulose.

From the perspective of all things green, cellulose-splitting enzymes are much the same as fire or cow, only worse. Fire and cow consume cellulose, but the process is generally messy and inconvenient, which is a big advantage, from the plant's perspective. To improve on wood-burning fires, or grass-eating cows, perfect the cellulose-splitting enzyme. Then watch what 7 billion people will do to your forests and your grasslands.



Embarrassment for those who have faith in models: Climate change in Africa's Sahel region challenges researchers and policymakers because the best models around predict opposite outcomes, reports Catherine Brahic

Computer models of future climate often disagree about the scale of likely change but predictions for the Sahel are also contradictory about the direction of change and give policymakers little help in preparing for the future. The semi-arid Sahel stretches across Africa just south of the Sahara. The region suffered severe drought during the second half of the 20th century, and the famine it caused is thought to have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and affected millions more.

Scientists initially believed that the decline in rainfall was caused by overgrazing and people clearing vegetation to make way for more farming and herding. But since the mid-1980s, several computer models have suggested that changes in the surface temperature of the oceans have changed the dynamics of the West African monsoon and are therefore to blame. This hypothesis has gained widespread support but there still some disagreement. Different models point the finger at different oceans - some say the influence of the Indian Ocean is most important, others the difference between the North and South Atlantic.

Most scientists agree that the greenhouse gases and aerosols that human activities release into the atmosphere are partially to blame for changing ocean temperatures. The question, then, is how this will affect future rainfall. Again, the answers depend on the models used. Last year US-based researchers Martin Hoerling and James Hurrell looked at all of the most recent climate models, averaged them out, and came to the conclusion that the Sahel's recent fate would be reversed in the 21st century. Global warming, they concluded, would bring much-needed rainfall to the region - one of the very few positive outcomes of greenhouse gas emissions (see Decades of drought predicted for southern Africa).

But in late 2005, Isaac Held of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published the results of a new climate model that suggested that, far from becoming wetter, the Sahel faces a period of "dramatic drying" if greenhouse gas emissions are not checked (see Climate model refutes predictions of wetter Sahel). Held's team readily admitted that their results, from a single model, should not be the basis for policy decisions. But one striking point meant the results could not be discarded. The model mimicked the region's recent climate more faithfully than any previous one had - an important measure of how reliable it is.

Why the differences? Understanding why the models predict such widely divergent futures "is a scientific priority that requires really getting into the bowels of the models" says Alessandra Giannini, a climate expert at Columbia University in the United States. "There must be something in the models' physics that is causing them to respond differently."



Discussing: Herrmann, S.M., Anyamba, A. and Tucker, C.J. 2005. Recent trends in vegetation dynamics in the African Sahel and their relationship to climate. Global Environmental Change 15: 394-404.


There has been a long history of assertions of widespread and irreversible desertification occurring in the Sahel of Africa (Dregne, 1983; Lamprey, 1988; Middleton et al., 1997). During the 1970s, in particular - when Lamprey's report was originally written - the United Nations spearheaded a massive media campaign to warn the world about the phenomenon; and as recently as August 2002, leaders of the UN Environment Program told the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg that over 45% of the continent was at that time experiencing severe desertification. Several years earlier, however, scientists had already begun to realize that these assertions were no longer true, as demonstrated by the work of Nicholson et al. (1998) and Prince et al. (1998), which fact has been confirmed by the more recent studies of Eklundh and Olsson (2003), Anyamba and Tucker (2005) and Olsson et al. (2005), as reported in our Editorial of 11 Jan 2006.

What was done

Herrmann et al. provide addition support for the newer findings as a result of their investigation of "temporal and spatial patterns of vegetation greenness and rainfall variability in the African Sahel and their interrelationships based on analyses of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) time series for the period 1982-2003 and gridded satellite rainfall estimates."

What was learned

For the period 1982-2003, the three researchers determined that "the overall trend in monthly maximum NDVI [was] positive over a large portion of the Sahel region, reaching up to 50% increase in the average NDVI in parts of Mali, Mauritania and Chad." In addition, they found that "rainfall emerges as the dominant causative factor in the dynamics of vegetation greenness in the Sahel at an 8 km spatial resolution," but that "the presence of spatially coherent and significant long-term trends in the residuals suggests that there might be another, weaker, causative factor," which is also suggested by the fact that the "recovery of vegetation greenness [was] beyond what would be expected from the recovery of rainfall conditions alone."

What it means

Herrmann et al. state that their study "confirms previous regional-scale findings for the period 1982-1999 by Eklundh and Olsson (2003) and Olsson et al. (2005), who observed widespread positive trends of both time-integrated NDVI and NDVI amplitudes, and Anyamba and Tucker (2005), who [observed] increases in growing season NDVI across most parts of the region." In concluding, they thus say that "a greening of the Sahel expressed in positive trends in NDVI indicates a net increase in biomass production during the period 1982-2003, which challenges the notion of irreversible desertification in the Sahel."

We would only add that this positive development has occurred in the face of the concurrent expression of the twin evils of the radical environmentalist movement, i.e., increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration and air temperature that are claimed to be unprecedented over the past two millennia or more, which should lead one to wonder: are these phenomena really the greatest threat facing the planet today, as members of this movement claim? Maybe more CO2 and warmth are not so bad after all. Indeed, maybe they're not bad at all. In fact, maybe they're actually good.

CO2 Science Magazine, 7 June 2006

Nuclear should be a part of our energy future, say Christine Todd Whitman & Patrick Moore

From the minute the alarm clock goes off in the morning to the moment we adjust the thermostat before bed, our lives are fueled by electricity. We are amazed at the seemingly endless parade of new, life-improving, and life-saving technologies, but too little attention is paid to the looming shortage of energy needed to power them. America takes for granted that the lights will come on or the air conditioning will comfort us at the flip of a switch. It's wonderful that we feel so confident in the reliability of our electricity supply. But there are concerns on the horizon.

The US Department of Energy projects that the nation will need 45 percent more electricity by 2030. Where is this going to come from? Energy conservation, greater efficiencies in the production of natural gas, oil, coal, and hydro power, and a genuine commitment to renewables such as wind, solar, and geothermal power will be needed. Across America today companies are reducing their demands for power without slowing their growth, but those efforts won't be enough in and of themselves. We will continue to need a mix of power sources, and nuclear energy must play an increased role in supplying our nation's growing demand for electricity.

Nuclear energy offers numerous benefits and advantages over other sources. It's cleaner. Nuclear energy has the lowest impact on the environment -- air, land, water, and wildlife -- of any major energy source. It produces no harmful greenhouse gases or controlled air pollutants, its waste byproducts are isolated from the environment, and it requires less land to produce the same amount of electricity than any other electricity sources. It's safe. Strict government regulations and continuous training by the industry ensure that the safety of operations and the security of facilities exceed the highest standards of any American industry. It's cheaper. Nuclear plants are the most efficient on the electricity grid, and nuclear power has the lowest production cost of all major sources of electricity other than hydropower.

Public support for nuclear energy has never been stronger. A recent nationwide poll by Bisconti Research found that 86 percent of Americans see nuclear energy as an important part of meeting future electricity needs and 77 percent agree that utilities should prepare now to build new nuclear plants in the next decade. The business and manufacturing community is supportive, recognizing the value of a cost-effective, reliable, and predictable energy source, and the numerous indirect benefits nuclear energy offers, such as economic growth, job creation, and technology innovation. And nuclear energy has garnered solid backing from policymakers, evidenced by the desire to host new nuclear plants among state and county officials and bipartisan congressional support for new nuclear plants in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Americans don't pay much attention to energy issues beyond the cost. It still comes as a surprise to many Americans that nuclear energy already powers one of every five US homes and businesses, and that some states, including New Jersey, Illinois, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, rely on nuclear energy for more than half of their electricity.

The world's finite supply of natural resources requires that we focus on a diverse energy portfolio that includes clean, affordable, and sustainable solutions. Nuclear energy, right here and right now, is one of those solutions. We have joined together to lead the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition to ensure the United States embraces nuclear energy as part of a diverse energy plan for our future. The CASEnergy Coalition will help raise awareness of the benefits of clean and safe nuclear energy and continue to build policymaker and public support for nuclear energy as a component of a comprehensive plan to meet America's future electricity needs.

We must plan today to meet our energy needs of tomorrow in a manner that protects the environment. Building new nuclear plants and expanding existing facilities takes time. Working together, we must broaden and advance the national dialogue to include the issues of rising electricity demand, energy conservation, and efficiency. We must educate the public about the merits of nuclear energy, including both the benefits of nuclear plants and the challenges that remain, including a federal facility for managing spent nuclear fuel rods. We will have this dialogue with community leaders, academics, environmentalists, businesses, and policymakers at every level to set the stage for the next generation of nuclear energy. We must act now to secure our energy future. 2030 is closer than we think.



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 June 2006


Gardeners love it but the Greenies don't -- even though it is "natural"

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. joined environmental groups Friday to launch a campaign against huge dairies that they blame for polluted groundwater in the Central Valley. "Mega-dairies cannot just ignore the hormones, antibiotics, bacteria and toxins in their millions of gallons of manure waste at the expense of the health of California families," Kennedy, a longtime environmental advocate, said in a news release.

These dairies, some with thousands of cows, have edged out the smaller farmer, leading to a greater concentration of animals and more wet manure that pollutes area waterways, said environmental groups Baykeeper and the Sierra Club. "Of course, there are dairies that are putting a lot of money into complying with environmental laws. But they're an industry like any other. There are people who are going to get around rules if they can and in this case it is very harmful," said Carrie McNeil, director of a local chapter of Baykeeper.

The groups, backed by Kennedy, launched the campaign to raise awareness and push state officials to adopt stricter water standards, McNeil said. Kennedy has lead similar efforts against large poultry and hog farms on the East Coast. But Michael Marsh, of the Western United Dairymen, said dairy owners know that dumping water or waste off their grounds can mean jail time and fines in the millions of dollars, prompting most of them to comply. "Dairies have impact just like any other human activities. We try very hard to minimize that," he said.


Death to the Tree-Killing Death Tax

A predominantly Democratic group of U.S. senators wants to preserve a law that destroys 2.98 million acres of forests annually - an area the size of Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks, combined. When the Senate votes this morning, Republicans and fair-minded Democrats should stop this arboricide by killing the federal death tax.

"While liberals support the Death Tax in order to break up concentrations of wealth, large and concentrated land holdings often are good for the environment," says Cato Institute tax-policy director Chris Edwards. "The Death Tax winds up favoring developers over natural habitat."

The death tax comes alive once human beings pass away, then fatally stomps on flora and fauna alike. According to a Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC) study released last month, "The estate tax undoubtedly is bad for environmentally-important habitats and is a serious impediment to preserving endangered and threatened species." The death tax is particularly onerous for endangered animals, "since half of all listed species are primarily found on privately-owned land," the JEC concluded, citing a May 2003 report from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Selling and splitting up land is especially tough on animals like the endangered Florida panther. It needs to run freely in up to 450 square miles of open space.

Relying on a 2001 analysis, JEC found that "approximately 2.6 million acres of forest land must be harvested each year to pay for the estate tax. Another 1.3 million acres must be sold to raise funds to pay estate taxes, of which close to one-third (29 percent) is either developed or converted to other uses." Add these extra 377,000 acres to the figure above, and the death tax devours some 2.98 million acres each year. Put differently, a tree-filled area nearly equal to Yellowstone's 2,219,271 acres and Yosemite's 761,266 acres annually is converted into two-by-fours or parking spots so that Americans who just buried loved ones can endure the additional nightmare of shipping Uncle Sam large chunks of their inherited assets.

These 2001 numbers pre-date the gradual reductions in death-tax rates from 55 percent in 2002 to 46 percent today, and the increases in asset levels at which these rates apply. Nonetheless, these statistics remain relevant.

The House of Representatives voted 272-162 on April 13, 2005, to terminate this tax; President Bush will sign its death certificate, if the Senate cooperates. If the Senate does not permanently repeal the tax, it will revert from the 0 percent rate in 2010 to the previous 55 percent rate in 2011. At that point, the perverse incentives to log forests and pave prairies will rise from the dead. Indeed, they could intensify. As Baby Boomers mature, so do their properties. When they eventually pass away, more and more acreage will pass down to their heirs - likely more than in 2000, when the Forest Service's study was conducted - and at higher values than prevailed back then. (Land prices nearly always rise across time.) Pricier property will mean higher death taxes, prompting more heirs to exploit their land to pay their tax bills, rather than let wildlife roam through untouched habitat.

"Death tax supporters think they're visiting vengeance on rich old people who've gone to their graves, but they're really wreaking havoc on other living things, like forests, meadows, lakes, and all the creatures they support," says National Taxpayers Union communications director Pete Sepp. "Committed liberals should commit the death tax to their compost heap of history."

A big problem here is that the death tax strikes many who are land-rich and cash-poor. In a May 2003 study, Pamela Villarreal of the National Center for Policy Analysis found that "The average tree farm is valued at about $2 million, while the average annual household income of a tree farmer is less than $50,000." Such cash flow cannot cover huge death-tax liabilities. So, up go the "For Sale" signs. Among the 33 percent of forest owners who paid the death tax, "40 percent sold timber or land in order to make the payment . About 57 percent of those who sold land had no other assets available to pay the estate tax."

U.S. Department of Agriculture research found that in Mississippi alone, 18 percent of death-tax cases involved the tax-driven sale of land or timber, causing increased development on those properties. "There are tons of reasons to end the death tax: It's economically damaging, unfair to hardworking Americans, and disproportionately hurts small and minority business owners," says Mallory Factor, chairman of the Free Enterprise Fund. "Atop all this, it is also environmentally destructive. The federal government appraises farmland at a higher value because of the surrounding commercialization and development of land. But farmers don't want to sell, they want to farm. When they die, the farmland is valued so highly that the death tax ends up breaking up the family farm - and the land gets developed anyway."

Yes, progress requires land development. Without trees, things like newspapers, desks, and homes would be rarities. Still tree harvesting and land development should satisfy market needs, not federal tax debts.

While it's no surprise that tax fighters like Cato's Chris Edwards, NTU's Pete Sepp, and FEF's Factor hate this levy - FEF has aired $3.7 million in TV commercials urging the death tax's repeal - even the Nature Conservancy's Michael Bean has slammed it. He once called the death tax "highly regressive in the sense that it encourages the destruction of ecologically important land in private ownership."

It's bad enough that the death tax double-taxes and sometimes triple-taxes the assets that decedents bequeath the bereaved. It also spells death for trees, endangered species, and other living things. The Senate should give Mother Nature a break and put the death tax to death


Now almost certain that Brits will get more nukes

Gordon Brown [heir apparent to Tony Blair] backs more nuclear power stations in Britain in a move today that makes it certain that the Government will soon approve the commissioning of new plants. Any hopes of anti-nuclear campaigners and many Labour MPs that a change of prime minister might see a reversal of Labour's pro-nuclear stance will be extinguished by the Chancellor's article in The Times today in which he explicitly supports new stations. At the same time he clears away one of the last remaining areas of potential policy difference with Tony Blair, helping what most politicians believe will be a handover of power within 12 months.

The Government's energy review is due to report within weeks. The widespread expectation is that it will recommend that the power gap will have to be filled by a mix of more renewable sources, greater fuel efficiency and nuclear stations, probably built on existing sites. Mr Brown has never uttered anti-nuclear sentiments but his emphasis has always been on the need to justify the long-term costs of waste disposal and decommissioning. Today he leaves no doubt. Mr Brown writes that over the coming weeks and months "we will demonstrate our enhanced flexibility with further reforms in planning, skills and labour markets, and in energy policy, including new nuclear".

A Treasury source said yesterday that the Chancellor had accepted the argument in principle for more nuclear stations and would do what was necessary to achieve them. He added that Mr Brown still believed that the key issue was to hammer out the commercial and financial details to ensure that it represented the best deal for the country. Sources said that companies were watching the situation to see whether they were to be given a blank cheque, and they needed to know that the Government would be hard-headed in negotiations over new building. "But Gordon is up for nuclear, no doubt."

Mr Brown's endorsement of nuclear power came as Mr Blair gave yet another hint that his own mind was made up. After a summit in Paris with President Chirac, the Prime Minister said that a new agreement to share nuclear expertise showed that energy policy was "right at the top of the agenda". A bilateral nuclear forum will bring together ministers, business and experts from each side of the Channel. Mr Blair said: "The establishment of a British-Franco nuclear forum will allow us to discuss all the policy issues. One thing is for sure: this policy, for reasons of energy security, is right at the top of the agenda." He insisted that he was not pre-empting the results of the energy review. But people would look back with anger in 20 or 30 years if today's politicians ducked the decisions that could secure electricity supplies for the future.

Mr Blair said: "We have 20 per cent of our electricity today from nuclear power. In 15 or 20 years' time, that's gone. Today we are 80 or 90 per cent self-sufficient in gas and oil. In 15 or 20 years' time we will be importing 80 to 90 per cent. "The decisions we take today will be felt in 15, 20 or 30 years' time, and I don't want people looking back and saying, `What were those guys doing, when the facts were very clear and very obvious to them?' "


A rising tide of bad science in Australia

During the past fortnight the reportage of the debate on greenhouse gases has come close to what the climate-change industry is apt to call a tipping point, the point of no return. Almost every day, it seems, true believers in catastrophist science have been coming out with fresh claims that the debate is over and all the world now acknowledges the gravity of the matter.

Julia Baird, a columnist with The Sydney Morning Herald, was among the more artless cheerleaders. "The nuclear energy debate this week has been fascinating and - no matter what your thoughts on its use here - a relief of sorts. At least we're all agreeing on one thing - global warming and climate change are serious, and potentially catastrophic, problems. "Serious scientific research is no longer being misrepresented as a left-wing beat-up propelled by mad greenies and anxious scientists. At last, the vocal deniers are shrinking like the Wicked Witch of the West, drenched by a bucket of melting icecaps."

So there you have it. Greenhouse gas sceptics have, at the stroke of a pen, been turned into deniers , the moral equivalent of anti-Semites, along with David Irving and the pseudo-historians who say the Holocaust never happened. What's more, those wicked few of us left who still refuse to face facts are confounded by the evidence of polar meltdowns that threaten to engulf us. As if to reinforce the point, ABC television's mid-evening news last Saturday reported, as though it were a fact, the following: "For thousands of years, Alaskan islanders have lived on this remote island. As their part of the earth slips away, the Bush administration stands accused of trying to silence nature's compelling warnings."

Whether in the form of Alaskan inundations, drowning atolls in the Pacific or the flooding of New Orleans, there seems to be no shortage of cataclysmic events and no shortage of scientists, journalists and even multinational corporations prepared to attribute them to greenhouse gas-induced global warming.

Last year Munich Re, an insurance conglomerate, solemnly warned us that rising sea levels and coastal erosion caused by global warming were going to be two of the biggest problems for insurers in the new millennium and - wonderful to relate - that premiums would have to rise accordingly.

Closer to home, at the end of May The West Australian reported new predictions of sea levels rising by up to a metre by the end of the century. John Church, a CSIRO researcher, and Will Steffen, director of the Australian National University's Centre for Resource and Environment Studies, announced that they "wouldn't be buying low-lying homes because rising oceans would affect their value".

Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell is a born-again believer in the greenhouse crisis, or "cooking the planet", as an editorial in The Australian Financial Review rather breathlessly encapsulated it last Tuesday. But, sensing how these extravagant claims might erode the plausibility of the theory, Campbell dismissed them out of hand and said that significant sea rises were still between 1000 and 2000 years away: "Climate change is a very serious issue. However, we have trouble enough ensuring people take it seriously without ludicrous claims like this."

The federal Opposition's spokesman on the environment Anthony Albanese responded by saying that Campbell should respect scientists and not shoot the messengers when he didn't like the message. "Low-lying Pacific nations are flooding because of climate change and it is a window to the future for Australia unless action is taken."

There are more generally accepted and empirically testable processes that account for the selective inundation of the Pacific atolls. I refer, of course, to the constant rising and subsidence of the earth's surface. Ian Plimer, head of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Adelaide, is an eminent greenhouse sceptic with a nice turn of phrase who's had plenty to say on this subject in The Independent Weekly and deserves a wider audience. "Subsidence can play some cruel tricks ... This is what is happening in many Pacific Ocean atoll nations and this subsidence produces an apparent sea-level rise. We naughty fossil-fuel burners are not causing sea levels to rise. Some, but not all, of the Pacific Ocean atoll nations are sinking as part of a normal geological process," he says.

Albanese and those who share his convictions should think long and hard about that phrase "some, but not all". Why should some low-lying coral formations be engulfed and others arbitrarily spared by the self-same rising seas ? Plimer points to Charles Darwin's book The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs, published in 1842. In it Darwin showed that volcanoes emerge at various heights above the sea floor and provide platforms for the growth of coral. If sea levels fall or a volcano rises further from the sea floor, coral attaches itself, only to be killed on exposure to air. Places such as Vanuatu feature coral reefs well above sea level on the sides of volcanoes, due to their having risen. If the sea level rises, volcanoes become inundated and coral attaches itself to them, so that they grow vertically as well as horizontally as the sea level continues to rise, producing atolls. The same thing happens if a volcanic island begins to sink.

The moral of the story, as Plimer says, is that "a rise in sea level produces coral atolls. It does not destroy them. Darwin showed this in 1842. Atolls were drilled to test Darwin's theory by [Douglas] Mawson's Antarctic compatriot T.W. Edgeworth David and Darwin's coral theory has been validated by more than 150 years of independent, interdisciplinary science. Why has this been ignored by the catastrophists?" There is another element in the cycle that contributes to the illusion of engulfing sea levels. "Coral atolls can sink due to compaction of coraline sand, pumping of groundwater or sinking of the volcanic substrate. This is a normal process that induces the rapid growth of coral to re-form the atoll."

The sooner Albanese and Bob Sercombe, the ALP's spokesman on Pacific Island affairs, come to terms with all this, the better. In January this year in The West Australian (a journal much concerned with inundation) they co-wrote an article entitled "Time for us to help drowning neighbours". Their disaster plan encompassed rescuing whole populations, accepting them as "climate change refugees" and assisting them "with intra-country evacuations when people are moved to higher ground". They say we should help evacuees "to adapt to new countries" and "provide assistance to preserve their cultural heritage".

This is daylight madness. Our island neighbours may well have claims on our foreign aid, but as a matter of charity rather than any sort of entitlement. In the absence of compelling evidence, and in defiance of Darwin's model, Labor shouldn't be encouraging them to believe that they are the victims of profligate coal, gas and oil-fired economies. Nor should it be creating unrealistic expectations that, as the largest regional consumer of fossil fuels, Australia has endless obligations to a new class of mendicants from Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Carteret or the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Never mind, you may be thinking, about Pacific islands and their vagaries. Even if we accept Plimer's account, it doesn't explain away the melting polar ice. The sinking island in Alaska may be subsiding rather than being engulfed by a rising tide, but it's still being submerged and what about all that extra water, that rising tide? Plimer notes that "the tidal measuring station at Port Adelaide is sinking, thereby recording a sea level rise". The same is true of many other areas of subsidence, a fact apparently lost on most contemporary oceanographers. "If there is a sea-level rise we would expect every atoll in every ocean to be inundated. But we don't see this. We would expect harbours around the world to record a sea level rise. This is not recorded. So something is seriously wrong with the catastrophist dogma."



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 June 2006


Al Gore's new movie, An Inconvenient Truth is a powerful visual rendering of a variety of natural events that are claimed to prove that manmade global warming is upon us and rapidly getting worse. We all know that a well-done film can have a powerful emotional impact. This is a well-done film

While you might have been under the mistaken impression that such things have happened before the modern global warming era, Gore associates severe weather events such as floods, droughts, and storms (for instance Hurricane Katrina) with mankind's use of fossil fuels. Other than the possibility that current tropical warmth could be making hurricanes a little stronger (which is debatable), there is little or no scientific evidence that global warming has caused more severe weather.

One of the more dramatic themes of the movie is the melting of the ice sheets -- Greenland and Antarctica -- and their contribution to sea level rise. Views in the movie of ice crashing into the ocean as it calves from glaciers will no doubt have the intended effect -- to scare people into believing that global warming is serious, ergo we must do something about it. Many people will come away from the film thinking, "global warming is obviously real because all that ice is falling into the ocean." But glaciers are continuously flowing entities. As long as snow continues to fall on them, they slowly spread outward like thick molasses, dramatically dumping their frozen cargo into the ocean.

Global warming is not required for this ice calving process to occur, any more than it is required for a river to flow toward the sea. It is part of the Earth's natural hydrologic cycle, whereby the ocean continuously evaporates water into the atmosphere, which is later returned back to the ocean again, either in liquid or frozen form.

Yet these movie visuals will appeal to our emotions, confusing our more rational thought processes. The intent is to associate in our minds these entirely natural processes with manmade pollution. Al Gore recently told Grist Magazine, "I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it (global warming) is..." I am reminded of Gore's angry, bellowing accusation of President Bush with respect to Iraq: "He played on our fears!" That is exactly what Mr. Gore is doing in this movie.

If we move beyond the emotional appeals, we find that the current science on the subject of whether the ice sheets are losing more ice than they are gaining from snowfall (the real issue), is somewhat mixed. Currently, the consensus of opinion is that the Greenland ice sheet has been experiencing a net loss in recent years, while the same conclusion about Antarctica is much less certain.

But a note of caution: our ability to actually measure this net loss is quite new and -- like all global warming related measurements -- subject to large uncertainties in both the measurements themselves and whether the measured changes can be attributed to mankind's activities. As an example, it has been fifteen years since John Christy and I started measuring global temperature trends from satellites. Yet we (and others) are still finding new corrections that need to be made to the data. The signals of global warming are so small compared to natural climate variability that it is usually difficult to measure them with any degree of certainty.

Another common mistake among scientists (and we never seem to learn our lesson on this one) is to infer some sort of long-term trend from an observed short-term change. If Greenland has lost ice in recent years, just the possibility that this could be part of a long term trend is sufficient to get lots of press claiming this conclusion as fact. But even if Greenland has been losing more ice than it has been gaining in recent years, this says nothing about whether the process is due to mankind.

But let's assume that the current period of global warmth is mostly due to mankind, and that this warming is indeed causing a net loss of ice from the ice sheets. What should we do about it? It's one thing to point out a problem, but another thing entirely to do something substantial to fix the problem. Therein lies the potential danger of movies such as "An Inconvenient Truth."

Al Gore's movie is reminiscent of Rachael Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring, which helped give birth to the modern environmental movement. The book provided scientific evidence, conveyed through eloquent prose, that our indiscriminant use of the pesticide DDT was having some negative environmental, and possibly human, side effects.

Unfortunately, it is often the case that policy decisions based upon emotion rather than facts can lead to unintended, negative consequences. As an eventual result of Carson's book, many countries of the world severely restricted the use of DDT. But without access to even very small amounts, some African countries now have a combined death toll of about 1-1.5 million people per year from malaria. Many millions more are permanently disabled.

Only relatively recently has the pendulum begun to swung with regard to DDT, and Africans are increasingly employing small amounts of the substance (despite international restrictions) and experiencing dramatic reductions in the incidence of malaria.

The dangers of misguided global warming policies resulting from activist movies like An Inconvenient Truth could have similar or worse effects on the world's poor than what has resulted from restrictions on DDT. While responsible DDT use has many more human benefits than dangers -- with virtually no negative effects on the environment -- the effect of DDT restrictions on our daily lives pales in comparison with the negative consequences that restricting access to affordable energy would bring.

Human health and longevity are directly related to wealth generation, which in turn requires abundant, inexpensive energy. Humans must alter their environment in order to thrive, and this takes energy.

I fear that Al Gore is becoming a modern day Rachel Carson. The New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani favorably compared the book and film versions of An Inconvenient Truth with Silent Spring. The New Republic's Frank Foer called it a "cinematic Silent Spring." Emotional appeals will effect public policy changes, which will have widespread, unintended negative consequences.

On a positive note, Gore's movie provides an opportunity to spur public debate on the global warming issue. It is critically important for us to become better informed about global warming, how much of it is natural versus manmade, and especially what might be done from a policy standpoint about the manmade part.

We must be wary of letting emotional appeals govern policy decisions that have real world, life-or-death consequences, especially in the poorer countries of the world.

TCS Daily, 8 June 2006


Post lifted from Philip Stott

Yesterday was a classic for carbon claptrap in the UK, from BBC Television, from scientists, and from big business. What nonsense is being peddled in the name of 'global warming'!

BBC Television, as ever, was the worst, with yet another gloom-mongering effort, 'Five disasters waiting to happen' (BBC 2). The only disaster is that we have to pay a licence fee for what is, essentially, Government propaganda (give me radio any day). Interestingly, I received e-mails (timed during the programme) from incensed 'EnviroSpin' readers about 'the twaddle' that was being peddled uncritically on the programme. I got the impression that the red-hot e-mails were sent to let off steam before folk were tempted to throw a brick through the screen. I have to say that, personally, I gave the programme the widest of berths - the weather was too nice to waste on watching hyperbolic 'rubbish on the tele'. Until BBC Television grows up about the science, economics, and politics of climate change, it really is better for one's health to chill out with a glass of wine and The Times crossword in the garden. Thankfully, today's Times also gives the programme a wide berth, their television reviewer likewise having had better things to do or to watch. I'm not surprised - the more BBC Television churns out this unbalanced stuff on climate, the more people will switch off, both physically and mentally. It really is time for a hard-nosed Beeb producer to declare that "enough is enough", and to put an end to so much over-egged output. Meanwhile, the rest of the world sails happily away from the Good Ship 'Kyoto'.

But, of course, jaw-droppingly naive scientists don't help either. Yesterday, some earnestly warned of the dangers of drag in cars proudly sporting two St George's flags in support of 'Our David' and the lads at the World Cup - that's an extra litre of of fuel per hour! I think, for once, a two-finger sign is entirely justified. "Put out more flags", say I. And, don't underestimate the hidden class warfare in all this - St. George's flags are perceived as working class, the ill-bred bling of Essex Man. "Get yer flags out, luv!"

Then, finally, there was big business and a wondrous meeting between members of the pompously-named 'Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change' (including Shell UK and Standard Chartered Bank) with Tony Blair. This proved to be a glorious example of protean capitalism at work. Of course, we have to help (lead?) on climate change, but only when we have positive incentives and a boost to that bottom line. I just love the way that big business embraces the 'global warming' myth, and then turns it to its own advantage, ever (quite rightly) with an eye to building that competitive edge. The same is happening with 'organics'. "Go for it lads!"

So, Tuesday was but another day of carbon claptrap.

I suspect, at some point, that we are really going to weary of it. In the meantime, we must smile wryly, yet again, at La Com‚die Humaine, and at our self-delusional world. Sadly, as readers of this blog are too well aware, not a smidgen of the carbon claptrap will make one blind bit of predictable difference to climate.

One price of Greenie dam-hatred is loss of plants and gardens

Australia: The gardening and irrigation industries say up to 6,000 jobs have been lost, because of water restrictions in several states. Some nursery operators have lost more than 30 per cent of their turnover and they say it is the worst downturn in memory. With many dams across Australia down to 30 to 40 per cent of capacity, state and local governments say they do not have any choice but to implement water restrictions. Sydney is already on level three water restrictions and Brisbane is about to do the same.

Brisbane gardeners will only be able to water with buckets or watering cans from next week. But Jolyon Burnett, from the Irrigation Association of Australia, says the banning of sprinkler systems is hurting the industry. "We estimate that turnover across the board is probably down somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent," he said. "We're seeing some 6,000 job losses across the entire green industry, both full and part-time."

Tom Swift has been installing irrigation systems for 30 years and says the introduction of water restrictions has cut his turnover by more than a third. "I'm just hanging in there to be honest, and trying to make the most of a much smaller business than what I had before," he said.

The Federal Government's water spokesman Malcolm Turnbull says there is no need for long-term restrictions and he is calling on the states to stop using water utilities as cash cows. "We can have as much water as we need," he said. "There is ample scope for augmenting or increasing the water supply in our big cities. We don't have to build pipelines across Australia, we don't even have to build new dams. "There is more than enough water that can be won from recycling and better use of waste water and storm water." The states say the Federal Government should increase its own spending on water management.


Australians agreeing to nuclear power: poll

Almost half of Australians have given nuclear power plants the thumbs up as a replacement for coal, oil and gas power plants, a poll shows. A Morgan Poll has revealed that 49 per cent of Australians approve of nuclear power plants, while 37 per cent disapprove of their use to help cut greenhouse gas emissions. The remaining 14 per cent are undecided

But the poll shows 87 per cent of Australians are concerned about the disposal of nuclear waste if plants are introduced here. Twelve per cent of people say they are not concerned about the waste while one per cent are undecided.

Morgan research surveyed 594 Australian men and women aged 14 and over on June 7 and 8. The poll reported 54 per cent of respondents agreed Australia should continue developing and exporting uranium for peaceful purposes. But 36 per cent said we should not produce uranium.

Pollster Gary Morgan said after much debate on the nuclear industry, more Australians approved than disapproved of the introduction of nuclear power plants to replace coal, oil, and gas plants to stop greenhouse gas emissions. "However, with 87 per cent of Australians concerned about the disposal of nuclear waste the government needs to assure Australians that there will be no adverse effects if nuclear energy is introduced," Mr Morgan said.

The release of the poll comes after Prime Minister John Howard announced an inquiry, to be headed by nuclear physicist and former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski, would investigate Australia's nuclear options.



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 June 2006


Below is the title and abstract from an article by Schaefer et al., just published in Science of 9 June 2006, Vol. 312. no. 5779, pp. 1510 - 1513:

Near-Synchronous Interhemispheric Termination of the Last Glacial Maximum in Mid-Latitudes

"Isotopic records from polar ice cores imply globally asynchronous warming at the end of the last glaciation. However, Be exposure dates show that large-scale retreat of mid-latitude Last Glacial Maximum glaciers commenced at about the same time in both hemispheres. The timing of retreat is consistent with the onset of temperature and atmospheric CO2 increases in Antarctic ice cores. We suggest that a global trend of rising summer temperatures at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum was obscured in North Atlantic regions by hypercold winters associated with unusually extensive winter sea ice.

So at the end of the last ice age the earth warmed up unevenly. It warmed up much sooner in Southern and intermediate latitudes than it did in the Arctic. The Arctic stayed very cold for thousands of years longer than the rest of the world did.

OK. That's rather odd. But our researchers can explain it. Good old atmospheric CO2 is OF COURSE to blame for the warming but the Arctic area had supercold winters which cancelled out the effect in the North.

That's what philosophers call a "deus ex machina" explanation. It is about as informnative as saying that the hand of God did it. It is not a scientific explanation at all unless there is a good independent explanation (as distinct from mere speculation) of WHY the North had extensive ice and WHY the CO2 effect did not melt it.

Gaseous diffusion is very rapid and the CO2 should have managed to have spread widely and fairly evenly with thousands of years to do so. So to say that it had different effects in climatically similar parts of the world is mumbo jumbo. The results are in fact most consistent with CO2 having nothing to do with the thaw.

The Bogus Benzene Scare

Another day, another exaggerated scare story about the dangers of soft drinks. If it weren't enough that the fat police have targeted fizzy drinks in their crusade to slenderize the world, now Coca-Cola and Cadbury-Schweppes have been added to a Florida suit already involving Pepsi, Kraft Foods, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Polar Beverages and In zone Brands. The suit alleges that the benzene in their drink products exceeds the one part per billion standard established in Florida -- a standard that is one fifth the federal level set for US drinking water -- and this constitutes a carcinogenic hazard. Benzene at certain levels is associated with leukemia in humans.

As a matter of fact, test results by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have found that five of 100 soft drinks tested -- one for each company sued -- did exceed the water benzene limits. But mostly ignored by the lawsuit and the scare stories is that the testing procedures used exaggerate the benzene in sodas and that the safety limit for water is set far below levels where benzene causes harm.

That matters little to the Environmental Working Group, which initiated fears about soda pop and various other fruit drinks containing benzene. In a letter to the FDA in February, the EWG asked the agency to issue a warning that soft drinks may contain benzene, claiming that it was a "clear health threat." Knowing full well that the agency was in the process of completing tests on soft drinks, the EWG also then swaggered about demanding the agency release the results of any tests that it had performed to determine whether benzene was present in soft drinks. It in addition made the outrageous claim that the agency had suppressed information about the health risks of benzene.

The claims are similar to those of Ross Getman, a Syracuse, NY, lawyer representing parents in suits to remove soda from schools, in a newspaper column in which he wrote that the FDA had gone along with industry back in the 1990s to keep the presence of benzene in soft drinks from the public.**

The release of the FDA's completed survey has only turned up the EWG's volume. "FDA's test results confirm that there is a serious problem with benzene in soda and juices," said Richard Wiles, senior vice president at Environmental Working Group. "There is no excuse for deliberately putting chemicals that form high levels of potent cancer-causing benzene in popular drinks. This is a wake-up call for the beverage industry. It is time to get benzene-forming ingredients out of sodas and juices."

One is minded to suggest to Wiles that he get a grip before leaping off into hyperbole. And meanwhile, before the scared-of-soda crowd panics you into throwing out your pop, you might want to inoculate yourself with a few actual facts about benzene and benzene in soft drinks.

First of all -- and this may sound scary, but it isn't -- benzene is ubiquitous. Not only is it a chemical solvent and gasoline additive ranked among the top 20 chemicals in terms of use in the United States, benzene also forms from natural processes such as forest fires, and is routinely found in both rural and urban air. For example, ambient air levels of benzene have been found at 182 ppb (parts per billion) in Los Angeles and at 179 ppb in London. And most importantly, it is also found in many foods such as meats, eggs and bananas.

Our knowledge about the effects of benzene on humans come from epidemiological studies of workers exposed to it in industries such as rubber, oil and shoe manufacturing, as well as from animal studies. The workers who have shown higher risks of leukemia were exposed to levels of benzene in parts per million, not the parts per billion found in a few soft drinks. Despite EWG and the lawsuit's claims about benzene in soda being a "clear health threat," no human studies have shown benzene as causing cancer at the levels found in soda pop.

Indeed to reach the same level of exposure to benzene as those lab animals or industrial workers who suffered health effects, someone would have to consume 10,000 bottles of those soft drinks with benzene them. And as the FDA study showed, they are few. And its study has been confirmed by other food safety agencies. The UK's Food Standards Agency found that more than two-thirds of the samples it tested were not merely below the five parts per billion threshold but had undetectable levels of benzene. Or, to put the risk in perspective, it would take the benzene found in 20 liters of a soft drink that contained benzene -- about what it takes to fill a gasoline tank -- to equal the benzene the average person who lives in a city breathes in a single day.

The benzene found in a few soft drinks has nothing to do with contamination, just as the benzene found in Perrier in 1990 was not caused by contamination. Instead, it is the combination of Vitamin C in some soft drinks (mostly juice-containing drinks), reacting with preservatives -- such as sodium benzoate -- that are used in soft drinks to prevent the development of health threatening bacteria that poses the problem. And mostly that occurs from exposure of cans and bottles to heat in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit for a substantial period of time.

Finally, and most importantly, the industry and the FDA -- in opposition to the EWG's outrageous claims -- haven't been colluding to hide a health threat from the public. Instead, they've been cooperating to make soft drinks safer. Though the FDA's handling of the benzene issue has been sometimes less than surefooted, the FDA began the joint research program to understand the causes of benzene formation when the industry first learned of the presence in some products in 1990 and reported it to the FDA. They then moved to reformulate soft drinks to prevent its development. In 1993 the FDA published the results of this research -- results which showed that the benzene levels in soft drinks were not considered a health risk.

In November when the FDA received lab reports showing low levels of benzene in certain soft drinks, it began to collect and test samples of soft drinks. Since November the FDA has analyzed more than 100 soft drinks and other beverages susceptible to benzene contamination. The results of FDA sampling shows that "the vast majority of beverages sampled contain either no detectable benzene or levels below the 5 ppb limit for drinking water, and do not suggest a safety concern."

Of the 100 drinks sampled, five had levels of benzene that exceed the drinking water standard. These were Safeway Select Diet Orange, Crush Pineapple, AquaCal Strawberry Flavored Water Beverage, Crystal Light Sunrise Classic Orange and Giant Light Cranberry Juice Cocktail. Even with these drinks the benzene was found only in a few production batches. And of these, two were within the World Health Organization's standard of 10 ppb for water -- which shows how exacting and safe the U.S. standard is. Nonetheless, in accordance with FDA and industry standards, the products are being reformulated.

As Laura Tarantino, director of the FDA's Office of Food Additive Safety, noted: "This is likely an occasional exposure, it's not a chronic exposure. ... the amount of benzene you are getting in a soda is very, very small compared to what you're being exposed to every day from environmental sources."

So benzene is not present in most soft drinks, in those that it is, the level is not harmful. And the FDA, far from covering up the risks of benzene has, is taking the appropriate steps to test and measure the risk, while the industry is reformulating drinks to ensure they meet the agency's most exacting standard.

And as for the EWG and the trial lawyers, while it is good to have watchdogs to ensure industry and regulators are playing square, their false and shrill alarms will only turn off the public if they ever stumble upon a real threat to the public health.



Next time you take a plane flight, take a look out the window. If you're over a city, you'll see roads that form a grid connecting homes, offices and stores. But if you are flying over the suburbs, you'll see roads that look like trees. The trunks are great big feeder streets with branches splitting off. At the ends of the branches are what look like circular leaves. Those are the cul-de-sacs, the dead-end streets that have become a symbol of suburban life. Since the end of World War II, millions of cul-de-sacs have been built on the fringes of American cities.

In recent years, however, the cul-de-sac has fallen out of favor with urban planners [The Soviets had lots of "planners". Very nice if you want to remove from people the power to make decisions for themselves] and architects. Some cities have even banned them. To understand why, I recently visited a cul-de-sac in Carderock Springs, Md., where I lived when I was in the sixth and seventh grades. Traveling with me was Jeff Speck, an urban planner who works at the National Endowment for the Arts.

Behold "the American dream, circa 1960," he said, surveying my old neighborhood. "One, two, three, four, five houses surrounding a circular drive. Each house looks inward at the donut hole of plants in the middle. Each house is very carefully designed with windows on the front and back and not on the sides, so they don't really see each other." Now, I had some trouble finding my own house because the trees are so much taller now. But some things haven't changed. First, you can still hear the rumble of traffic on the nearby freeway.

"And the other thing we hear are the birds," said Speck. "And that's actually the Scylla and Charybdis of the suburban condition. On the one hand, you do have this feeling of a close contact with nature, because you don't have cars going by every minute within the community. The only cars that come by are going to be the ones that are parking nearby."

Suburban Isolation

On the other hand, there's the problem of having to drive your car almost everywhere. Or, in Speck's words, the uneasy feeling that "your car is no longer an instrument of freedom but a prosthetic device." Driving is the only way to get from a typical cul-de-sac to a restaurant, a store or your office. And on the roads that funnel back to that main trunk, the traffic is usually awful. That is one reason urban planners such as Speck do not think much of cul-de-sacs. Neither do anti-sprawl activists, many architects and some city managers and mayors. If these critics have a leader, it is probably William Lucy, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Virginia. He says a national debate is brewing about the future of the cul-de-sac. "The era of the cul-de-sac is certainly threatened; it's a battleground," Lucy says. "The professionals tend to think that the connected neighborhood is the good neighborhood. And the developers and the realtors are more of a mixed mind."

Some of the earliest American cul-de-sac communities were built in Radburn, N.J., in the 1920s. By the mid-1950s, they were everywhere. Developers learned that cul-de-sacs allowed them to fit more houses into oddly shaped tracts, and to build right up to the edges of rivers and property lines. "Going over the lines had two problems," Lucy says. "One, it was expensive to try to traverse the obstacles. Second, it made connection to other neighborhoods or other subdivisions, and that was contrary to the notion of safety."

Safety Hype

Lucy says safety has always been a big selling point for cul-de-sacs. From the beginning, builders noted that they gave fire trucks extra room to turn around, and that they prevented strange cars from speeding by on their way to somewhere else. Ads for cul-de-sacs often pictured children riding bikes and tricycles in the street. These days, those images seem grimly ironic to people who actually look at safety statistics. For example, Lucy says cul-de-sac communities turn out to have some of the highest rates of traffic accidents involving young children. "The actual research about injuries and deaths to small children under five is that the main cause of death is being backed over, not being driven over forward," he says. "And it would be expected that the main people doing the backing over would in fact be family members, usually the parents."

Armed with such arguments, critics of the cul-de-sac have won some victories in recent years. In cities such as Charlotte, N.C., Portland, Ore., and Austin, Texas, construction of cul-de-sac-based suburbs has basically been banned. In other places, cul-de-sac communities have been retrofitted with cross streets.

Safe in the American Dream

But one important group still appears to be in love with the cul-de-sac: homebuyers. Theres Kellermann, a realtor who lives and works in Carderock Springs, says buyers still line up to live on dead streets. "When I put ads in about a house that has just been listed, if it has a cul-de-sac I say: 'Cul-de-sac location -- location within location,'" says Kellerman. "It has no through street, [so] nobody will race by -- not even the teenagers that go on their little racing sprees, because they can't go anywhere." A recent study backs up Kellerman. It showed that buyers will pay 20 percent more for a home on a cul-de-sac.

Even cul-de-sac critic Jeff Speck says he understands the attraction. In recent years, he's helped design some well-known grid-like "new towns," where it is possible to walk to places like a corner store. But for some cul-de-sacs -- like the one in Carderock Springs -- Speck says he would do some extra driving. "I am not embarrassed to say [that] if I could afford this I would happily raise a family in this environment," he says. And Speck says this isn't just an American dream anymore. He says that in countries like the Philippines and China, and in parts of the Middle East, cul-de-sacs are fast becoming all the rage.


Chill out over global warming

You'll often hear the left lecture about the importance of dissent in a free society. Why not give it a whirl? Start by challenging global warming hysteria next time you're at a LoDo cocktail party and see what happens.

Admittedly, I possess virtually no expertise in science. That puts me in exactly the same position as most dogmatic environmentalists who want to craft public policy around global warming fears. The only inconvenient truth about global warming, contends Colorado State University's Bill Gray, is that a genuine debate has never actually taken place. Hundreds of scientists, many of them prominent in the field, agree. Gray is perhaps the world's foremost hurricane expert. His Tropical Storm Forecast sets the standard. Yet, his criticism of the global warming "hoax" makes him an outcast. "They've been brainwashing us for 20 years," Gray says. "Starting with the nuclear winter and now with the global warming. This scare will also run its course. In 15-20 years, we'll look back and see what a hoax this was."

Gray directs me to a 1975 Newsweek article that whipped up a different fear: a coming ice age. "Climatologists," reads the piece, "are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change. ... The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality." Thank God they did nothing. Imagine how warm we'd be?

Another highly respected climatologist, Roger Pielke Sr. at the University of Colorado, is also skeptical. Pielke contends there isn't enough intellectual diversity in the debate. He claims a few vocal individuals are quoted "over and over" again, when in fact there are a variety of opinions. I ask him: How do we fix the public perception that the debate is over? "Quite frankly," says Pielke, who runs the Climate Science Weblog (, "I think the media is in the ideal position to do that. If the media honestly presented the views out there, which they rarely do, things would change. There aren't just two sides here. There are a range of opinions on this issue. A lot of scientists out there that are very capable of presenting other views are not being heard."

Al Gore (not a scientist) has definitely been heard - and heard and heard. His documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," is so important, in fact, that Gore crisscrosses the nation destroying the atmosphere just to tell us about it. "Let's just say a crowd of baby boomers and yuppies have hijacked this thing," Gray says. "It's about politics. Very few people have experience with some real data. I think that there is so much general lack of knowledge on this. I've been at this over 50 years down in the trenches working, thinking and teaching."

Gray acknowledges that we've had some warming the past 30 years. "I don't question that," he explains. "And humans might have caused a very slight amount of this warming. Very slight. But this warming trend is not going to keep on going. My belief is that three, four years from now, the globe will start to cool again, as it did from the middle '40s to the middle '70s."

Both Gray and Pielke say there are many younger scientists who voice their concerns about global warming hysteria privately but would never jeopardize their careers by speaking up. "Plenty of young people tell me they don't believe it," he says. "But they won't touch this at all. If they're smart, they'll say: 'I'm going to let this run its course.' It's a sort of mild McCarthyism. I just believe in telling the truth the best I can. I was brought up that way."

So next time you're with some progressive friends, dissent. Tell 'em you're not sold on this global warming stuff. Back away slowly. You'll probably be called a fascist. Don't worry, you're not. A true fascist is anyone who wants to take away my air conditioning or force me to ride a bike.



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 June 2006

In Algoreland, Failure is a Success

As eco-expert Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," continues its limited run, one has to question the success of a movie that has pulled in a measly $1.34 million in the last two weeks. Gore's apologists are claiming that if you look at the small number of theaters the movie is playing in - 77, the average take is almost $18,000 per outlet. Of course, it certainly helps if the 77 theaters are located in liberal strongholds such as New York City or Los Angeles. Try showing this political film in Winston-Salem, North Carolina or any city in Texas. How anybody can triumph a movie that has pulled in a mere $1.34 million and call it a success is beyond ludicrous - except in Algoreland.

To take this liberal spin to an even more confusing level, it's now being reported that Gore's name can no longer be found on Paramount Studio's poster campaign for the 100-minute film. "It's not a political movie," a top studio executive said (Uh-huh), but that still doesn't explain the removal of the ex-Vice President's name from the posters, as the Drudge Report revealed -- Research from a competing film studio might be on to something more obvious as to the name wiped clean of the newest print run of posters; ".marketing research showed little audience interest in a movie starring Al Gore," says a movie executive.

Could it be that the only inconvenient truth here is that the movie is a box office bomb?



Their cynicism inadvertently displayed

Environmentalist group Greenpeace is claiming an anti-nuclear memo issued last week for President's Bush's visit to the Limerick nuclear power plant near Pottstown, Pa., was an in-office joke that mistakenly got released, but no one at the organization is laughing.

Bush, on his second visit to a nuclear power plant within the last year, called for the expansion of nuclear power generation by reviving fuel processing, reducing regulations on the industry and developing procedures for handling radioactive wastes. In many quarters, nuclear energy is increasingly seen as part of the solution to U.S. energy independence and as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "Nuclear power helps us protect the environment and nuclear power is safe," the president said.

Greenpeace, in preparation for the president's visit, distributed a fact sheet opposing expansion of nuclear energy and warning of the dangers posed by the Limerick reactors. "This volatile and dangerous source of energy" is no answer to the country's energy needs, the memo, issued by Greenpeace Media Officer Steve Smith, read.

Smith continued, apparently at a loss for words: "In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE]."

Unfortunately, the fact sheet "fill-in-the-blank and all" was sent out. Smith told the Philadelphia Inquirer a colleague who inserted the exaggerated language into a draft was responsible for the mix-up. "Given the seriousness of the issue at hand, I don't even think it's funny," Smith said. A final version of the fact sheet was later released, without mention of Armageddon. It warned of potential meltdowns and airplane crashes.



New model of reef-island evolution: Maldives, Indian Ocean

By P.S. Kench, R.F. McLean, S.L. Nichol, 2005, Geology, Vol. 33, No. 2, pp. 145-148

A new model of reef-island evolution, based on detailed morphostratigraphic analysis and radiometric dating of three islands in South Maalhosmadulu Atoll, Maldives, is presented. Islands initially formed on a foundation of lagoonal sediments between 5500 and 4500 yr B.P. when the reef surface was as much as 2.5 m below modern sea level. Islands accumulated rapidly during the following 1500 yr, effectively reaching their current dimensions by 4000 yr B.P. Since then the high circum-island peripheral ridge has been subject to seasonal and longer-term shoreline changes, while the outer reef has grown upward, reducing the energy window and confining the islands. This new model has far-reaching implications for island stability during a period of global warming and raised sea level, which will partially reactivate the energy window, although it is not expected to inhibit upward reef growth or compromise island stability. ... Contrary to most established commentaries on the precarious nature of atoll islands, our data and model present an optimistic view for the Maldivian islands. They have existed for >5000 yr, are morphologically resilient rather than fragile systems, and are expected to persist under current scenarios of future climate change and sea-level rise.


Statement as of 8:55 am EDT on June 7, 2006

Record event report:
National Weather Service Tallahassee FL
855 am EDT Jun 7 2006

... Record low temperature shattered at Tallahassee Florida!...

AR 6:51 am EDT this morning... the temperature at the Tallahassee Regional Airport dropped to 54 degrees. This obliterates the old record low of 57 degrees set in 1991.



In 1929, when flying was still in its infancy, one writer who loved taking to the skies wrote: "Flying was a very tangible freedom.... It was beauty, adventure, discovery -- the epitome of breaking new worlds." Fast forward 70 years to 1999 and one prominent British newspaper columnist wrote: "Flying across the Atlantic is now as unacceptable as child abuse." He went on to say that because planes emit CO2s that harm the environment, they are contributing to a "killing field" that will make "genocide and ethnic cleansing look like sideshows at the circus of human suffering."

How have we gone from seeing man-made flight as liberating, something that allows us to go on adventures of discovery, to viewing it as tantamount to abuse, a selfish, uncaring act that we should be ashamed of? I think the contrast between that 1929 view of flying as a very tangible freedom and the more modern view of flying as a kind of abusive pastime shows that there is more to this issue than carbon emissions, pollution and cheap holidays. At root, it is about how we view ourselves, and our role in the world -- and it seems to me that some of today's anti-flying arguments are a microcosm of some of the worst trends of our time, capturing the killjoy, miserabilist spirit that seems to dominate today.

Firstly, today's demands that we should fly less, or should fly more responsibly, always seem to come with a generous side order of snobbery. Green-leaning activists and commentators seem to be especially exercised by "cheap flights", or "easyJet quickies" as they call them. In other words, by flights that allow the working classes to jet off for a week of sun in Spain, or for some revelry in Eastern Europe, or even for some funfair-riding and junk food-eating in somewhere like Florida.

Behind the concern about cheap flights there seems to lurk a deeper concern about the apparently "cheap people" who take them. I'm often struck by how explicitly activists will target a certain kind of flying. One newspaper recently published a 10-point action plan for combating climate change, no.2 of which said: "Put an end to cheap flights." It called for the authorities to "curb passenger enthusiasm" for cheap flying before it has "catastrophic" consequences.

Also, it seems to me that the demands for higher taxes on flying -- even for "prohibitive taxes" -- seem designed to price certain people out of the flying game. Everyone from radical green activists to the Lib Dems and the Tories seems to want higher taxes on flights -- which, in the end, will mean that a certain class of people will have to make do with Bognor Regis instead of Bologna.

Let's not beat around the bush here: the attacks on cheap flights make a clear value judgement about different kinds of holidays. And holidays facilitated by cheap flights are seen as unworthy, as lazy, laddish breaks to sunny destinations that are a waste of time and a waste of environment.

The targeting of cheap flights makes an explicit divide between "our" holidays and "their" holidays -- between the eco-aware middle-class family's trip to Mongolia, where they buy beads from local women and suchlike, and the young hedonistic lads who go for a knees-up in Magaluf. One holiday is seen as worthy, even worth expending some CO2s on; the other is seen as unworthy, "cheap", unnecessary.

That kind of snobbery towards certain tourists has long existed. When the middle classes and, heaven forbid, even the lower middle classes first started venturing on trips to the British seaside one posh Reverend said: "Of all the noxious animals, the most noxious is a tourist." Today we might talk about the noxious gases that tourists leave behind them, rather than about the tourists themselves being noxious, but the sentiment, it seems to me, is quite similar.

But the attack on flying is not motivated only by a loathing of certain tourists, a certain class of people, but also by a kind of self-loathing, a view of all of us as polluters who should tiptoe apologetically around the world, if at all. Beyond the cheap flights discussion our changing attitude to flying itself reveals something about our changing attitude to humanity.

Once flying was seen as pleasurable -- it was nice to ride in the sky and look out at the clouds. In the words of one writer in the last century, being in the air could be "very pure and fine, bracing and delicious." Today, by contrast, we worry about air rage when we're in the skies, the threat posed by other people who might have had a couple of vodkas too many. Or we worry about DVT, the threat posed to our legs by sitting down for too long, or the potential for terrorism.

In the past, travel was seen as something that made us who we were - it contributed to our personalities, to our personal humanity. You would describe someone as well-travelled. People would boast about where they had been and what they learnt while they were there. Today, people tend to come home from holiday and instantly log on to that website where you can apologise for how far you've travelled and donate enough money to plant enough trees to make up for all the CO2s you expended on your trip. You're ashamed of your travelling rather than proud of it.

In the past, flying was seen as a great advancement on past generations, even as a tribute to past generations. Wilbur Wright, one of the great developers of man-made flight, said: "The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors, who in their gruelling travels in prehistoric times, looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space." Today we don't think about past generations and how much they struggled; we think about the threat that we apparently pose to future generations with all our flying, or we think about the spread of disease. Apparently, the growth of global air travel means that something like bird flu will easily take hold.

What we can see in the flying debate is all our fears and anxieties writ large. Of course, flying may well damage the environment; I'm pretty certain that it lets out harmful emissions. However, lots of stuff we do pollutes -- that is the nature of living in an advanced and industrialised society.

We will have to deal with such pollution and find ways to handle it, because it is unreasonable and unrealistic to say we should have less flying. Let us remember that flying can be a "very tangible freedom" and stop worrying that by travelling we are doing something reckless and irresponsible.



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 June 2006


An email from an Israeli reader:

Water Environmentalists in Israel are a plague worse than anywhere, because they are convinced that Israel is placed somewhere Between Lake Maggiore in Switzerland and the Great Lakes in Canada. They demand to have flowing rivers with crystal clear fresh water, swimmable and with silvery fish. They don't realize that Israel is a miniature place in the dry Middle East, a desert, and it has the world's highest population density. Simply put, it never had rivers, except the Jordan which is a miserable stream that would never be thought as a river anywhere except in the desert.

Anyway, the Government has abdicated and is "recreating" rivers and lakes. The Government has recognized the "right of Nature to water" and 10% of Israel water resources are assigned to freely flow to the sea. The longest "river" is the Yarkon, that has some 20 km from its source to the Sea in Tel Aviv, but Tel Aviv demands a respectable river like say, the Hudson, the Rhine, the Seine in Paris, or at least like the Danube in Vienna.

Since Israel already uses about 100% of its water resources, the 10% required will come from seawater desalination. Already the world's largest desalination plant is working in Ashdod. We need more to free up enough water to satisfy Nature's rights, and it costs about 1 US $ per cubic meter (including pumping).

That's not all. Israel has no so called nature left, so it is importing European deer and eagles and wolves and other "nature" as imagined by our environmentalists. Nature also needs space, open land, forests, and land is the scarcest resource in this country, where a hectare can cost about 10 million US$. So there is a violent and I mean violent fight for space, against roads, development, swimming beaches, everything that is not Nature. This is happening everywhere, it not exclusive to Israel, but it is inhumane in a country so densely populated as Israel.

The ethnic aspect is interesting - Israel's population is 20% native Arab, which are implicitly considered Nature by environmentalists. They have the world's highest vegetative growth (check it out) - up to 4.5 per year. So the restrictions and zero population growth and so on are directed only toward the Jewish population, specifically toward the middle class Ashkenazi population. Of course environmentalists here are also all middle class Jews, so it is a case of curious but rabid self hate.

Just now in Tel Aviv we are having electricity cuts, as the Electric Company is unable to satisfy the demand. People are stuck in lifts, hospitals are on generators, air conditioners are out of service (and it is H O T ). People are desperate. The problem is that the Tel Aviv's "Reading" Plant is forbidden to operate by the Ministry of Environment because it was contaminating the environment. The Minister of Environment says that the Electric Company did not ask for renewal of its permit, and as soon they submit the form, he will grant it. The joke is that this is not a joke, it is happening.


Yesterday the Government decided to renew the operation of the Reading Plant, contamination and all. By this weekend we in Israel shall enjoy lifts again (many are scared to be trapped in an elevator by a sudden breakdown of the electricity supply, so they are walking the stairs – good for us!) and also the people on lung machines may have to worry less (there were reported casualties).

The former Minister for Environment Mr Gideon Ezra publicly returned the prize he had received from Green Organizations for his courage of confronting the powerful Israel Electric Corporation and taking the decision of closing down the Reading Plant. He was much applauded when he ordered the closing of the Plant.


As the planet heats up, the population grows and natural resources are exploited, drylands - over half of the world's productive land - are becoming increasingly infertile and uninhabitable. This process - called desertification - is a direct cause of famine in third world countries. But it is not just an African or Asian problem: desertification affects over two thirds of the drylands in the US. Israeli scientists, using know-how gained from decades of 'making the desert bloom', are at the forefront of the global effort to find new technologies that take the pressure off of our valuable drylands.

"Israel is an arid and semi-arid country," explains Eli Feinerman, dean of the faculty at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences in Rehovot. "Chronic scarcity of water is a fact of life in Israel." This is why finding new methods for seawater desalination and waste water are critical for this region - but not just here."

The HU researchers are among the world leaders working on novel solutions to desertification, an issue which is gaining worldwide attention. The United Nations declared 2006 the International Year of Deserts and Desertification, and the slogan of World Environment Day on June 5th is 'Don't Desert Drylands'.

Drylands, areas with low rainfall and high evaporation rates, cover 41 percent of the earth's surface. But these are no empty stretches of sand dunes: one third of the world's population lives and farms on these lands, ninety percent of whom are in developing countries. As well as its human inhabitants, drylands are home to various plant and animal life; each dryland area is unique in terms of how it evolved and who and what has made its home there. In 1981 the US had around 390 million hectares of drylands, but now it is estimated that around 74 percent are affected by desertification.

It is a fine line between dryland and desert, and drylands are crossing that line daily due to climate changes and human activities such as over-farming, deforestation and bad irrigation. This leads directly to a loss of the biological and economic productivity of these lands - and as our planet's population increases, losing land that could be lived on and used for agriculture is a critical problem. From its establishment in 1948, Israel, with sixty percent of its land defined as arid, has developed many innovative tools and methods to prevent her lands from becoming desert.

Feinerman, former chairman of the Israel Committee for Agricultural Water Pricing, predicts that in the next few years agriculture in Israel will move from using from fresh water to treated waste water, and he hopes that by the end of the decade, Israeli farmers will get half their water supply from recycled waste water. "I don't think that there is any other place in the world where 50 percent of the irrigation water is recycled waste water," he says.

One of those working on ways to bring about this scenario is Avner Adin, professor of Water Treatment Technology from the HU Faculty's Department of Soil And Water Sciences and president of the Israel Water Association. "Three thousand years ago, Moses struck a rock with a stick and water came out," he told ISRAEL21c. "We don't have that privilege so we have to use research, development and technology to provide solutions."

Adin's laboratory is working on how to clean water of particles of all sizes, ranging from several millimeters to a few nanometers (one billionth of a meter). These particles may be bacteria, algae, soil, earth, clay. The larger ones can be trapped by regular filters; it's the tiny particles that pose the problem. However, one thing these minuscule contaminants have in common is that they have a negative electric charge which means that, like two similar poles of a magnet, these particles push each other away. "Our target is to neutralize the charge and get them to stick together into larger particles so they can be filtered out," he explains.

To this end, Adin and his lab use a technique called electro-flocculation. Instead of using chemicals, which can pollute the environment, to neutralize the particles' charge, their device uses electrodes made of iron or aluminum. When the waste water passes the electrodes, which have a small electric current flowing across them, positively-charged aluminum or iron ions attract the negatively charged particles and they join to form larger particles which can be filtered out. "We have constructed the first electro flocculation plant in the world," says Adin. The plant, in the Israeli town of Gan Yavne, can clean 2400 cubic meters of water per day. "This is a major development in the field."

Oded Shoseyov, a professor at the Faculty's Institute of Plant Sciences and Agriculture, is concerned with the next step: the crops that this water is irrigating. "I am working on plant genetic modification for reforestation," he says. "The importance of forests cannot be overestimated. Every year forest five times the size of the state of Israel is logged." Less trees means more carbon dioxide, and this is a major factor in the greenhouse effect that leads to desertification.

Shoseyov and his team identified several genes connected with the cellulose in trees that is one of the crucial factors in tree growth. By modifying these genes, they have created transgenic plants that grow far faster than regular trees. The first tree they modified was the poplar, the paper industry's most popular tree. Shoseyov conducted a field trial in the US, and "after two years most of [the transgenic poplars] outperformed the control group," he told ISRAEL21c. "Some produced up to 370 percent more wood than the controls." The transgenic poplars were logged and it was found that their wood was also of a higher quality. He is currently running a field trial of modified eucalyptus trees - also widely used to make paper - in Israel and planning a field trial in Thailand. "A normal tree takes about three times the amount of land to produce the same amount [of wood] as the transgenic technology," he says.

Shoseyov has also modified potato plants to shorten their growth cycle and require less water. "This is important for Israel, and also for northern countries such as Sweden where the land freezes," he says. Sweden is testing his transgenic potato plants. Shoseyov is the chief scientist for a Rehovot-based Israeli start-up, CBD Technologies, which licensed his research from the Hebrew University in order to commercialize the techniques.

Further up the food chain, fish are Jaap van Rijn's research focus. The current method for growing cultured fish has them in earth-bottomed ponds, with only a few fish per pond. This takes a lot of water - around fifty cubic meters per kilogram of fish - and these ponds can only be used for around seven months of the year, when the weather is warm enough. If the fish need seawater, then the situation is even more limited: the fish are either grown in cages in the sea or in ponds very close to it.

Van Rijn, a senior lecturer in aquaculture, has developed a system for growing fresh or seawater fish in inland ponds, even in the desert - and with around a hundred times more fish in each pond. "We have done away with earth-bottomed ponds and moved to tanks, lined with plastic or concrete, where we treat and recirculate water," he said. His temperature-controlled system can be used all year and is completely closed: only a small amount of water needs to be added to compensate for evaporation. The water is cleaned using various types of bacteria, which break down the most serious pollutants, carbon and nitrogen, turning them into carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas and removing them from the system.

After first testing the system with freshwater fish such as carp, Van Rijn then adapted it for marine fish like sea bass: "We fill up the pond and add salt to the optimum salinity the fish need," he explains. The salt content stays level because the water is recycled.

In experiments, the prototype of the inland system demonstrated that only forty liters of water are needed per kilogram of fish, instead of around 5000 liters that a conventional system uses. And the fish seem to be happy: generally, a commercial fish is around 400 grams. "Two weeks ago we had a fish which was 1200 grams," boasts van Rijn, peering down into the tank.

Recycling waste water, speeding up plant growth and raising fish in the desert are just some of the ways in which Israeli researchers are fighting desertification and preserving drylands and all those who live on them, not just in Israel but worldwide. If techniques such as these are adopted and commercialized, the future may not be as dry as the United Nations fears.



Below is a small extract from here -- including an inconveniently truthful chart

Average global temperatures in the Early Carboniferous Period were hot- approximately 22 degrees C (72 degrees F). However, cooling during the Middle Carboniferous reduced average global temperatures to about 12 degrees C (54 degrees F). As shown on the chart below, this is comparable to the average global temperature on Earth today!

Similarly, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Early Carboniferous Period were approximately 1500 ppm (parts per million), but by the Middle Carboniferous had declined to about 350 ppm -- comparable to average CO2 concentrations today!

Earth's atmosphere today contains about 370 ppm CO2 (0.037%). Compared to former geologic times, our present atmosphere, like the Late Carboniferous atmosphere, is CO2- impoverished! In the last 600 million years of Earth's history only the Carboniferous Period and our present age, the Quaternary Period, have witnessed CO2 levels less than 400 ppm.

Global Temperature and Atmospheric CO2 over Geologic Time

Late Carboniferous to Early Permian time (315 mya -- 270 mya) is the only time period in the last 600 million years when both atmospheric CO2 and temperatures were as low as they are today (Quaternary Period ).

There has historically been much more CO2 in our atmosphere than exists today. For example, during the Jurassic Period (200 mya), average CO2 concentrations were about 1800 ppm or about 4.8 times higher than today. The highest concentrations of CO2 during all of the Paleozoic Era occurred during the Cambrian Period, nearly 7000 ppm -- about 19 times higher than today.

The Carboniferous Period and the Ordovician Period were the only geological periods during the Paleozoic Era when global temperatures were as low as they are today. To the consternation of global warming proponents, the Late Ordovician Period was also an Ice Age while at the same time CO2 concentrations then were nearly 12 times higher than today-- 4400 ppm. According to greenhouse theory, Earth should have been exceedingly hot. Instead, global temperatures were no warmer than today. Clearly, other factors besides atmospheric carbon influence earth temperatures and global warming.

There is an article from the year 2000 here which sets out some of the evidence for the "perverse" real-world relationship between CO2 and temperature

Turtle blocks $11 billion gas project

A little-known turtle has blocked - at least for now - Western Australia's much vaunted $11 billion Gorgon LNG project. WA's Environmental Protection Authority said today the huge gas export project on Barrow Island off WA's far north coast was environmentally unacceptable mainly because of the risk to the rare and threatened flatback turtle. It is the second time the EPA has rejected the Gorgon proposal, which was first rejected in July 2003. But WA Cabinet overrode the EPA decision in September 2003, allowing restricted access to Barrow Island to the project which is forecast to provide 6000 jobs and boost Australia's gross domestic product (GDP) by $2 billion.

Today EPA chairman Wally Cox said subsequent work done by the Gorgon joint venture partners - ExxonMobil, Shell and project operator Chevron - had highlighted the land and marine conservation values of the island and surrounding waters. "Flatback turtles in particular would be put at risk from the proposal with two of the most important nesting beaches located adjacent to the proposed LNG processing plant site and the materials off-loading facility," Dr Cox said. "There is very little science available on the life-cycle, behaviour and feeding habits of flatback turtles and as a consequence it is not possible at this time to identify management measures that would ensure ongoing survival of this Pilbara flatback turtle population. "As a result, the proposal in its present form cannot meet the EPA's environmental objectives and is considered environmentally unacceptable."

Flatback adult turtles shells grow up to 99cm and weigh about 90kg. They live in bays, coastal shallow reefs and grassy shallows and eat sea cucumbers, jellyfish, molluscs, prawns, other invertebrates and seaweed. Dr Cox also said the partners had not been able to demonstrate risk could be reduced to satisfactory levels in areas such as dredging and the introduction of non-indigenous species.

The Gorgon field has enough gas to power a city of one million people for more than 800 years and there has been enough reserves set aside to power WA for 40 years. Gorgon LNG is one of seven big gas projects - worth an estimated total of $50 billion - being considered for development in WA. The joint venture partners are due to make a final investment decision on the project towards the end of the year or early in 2007. The EPA recommendation will now be sent to the state and federal environment ministers with a ministerial decision due towards the end of the year.


Note the following comment from a nature site:

"Though we don't know for certain, the flatback turtle is probably the least threatened sea turtle with an annual nesting population of up to 10,000. It can be found near Indonesia and Papua New Guinea but only breeds on the north and northeastern coasts of 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.


7 June 2006

Al Gore's telling whoppers again: Look carefully before swallowing his warming theories whole

Al Gore will be in Houston this week promoting his movie and book, An Inconvenient Truth. Predictably, his message is dire. The planet must be saved - and quickly - from manmade carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions produced by coal, petroleum and natural gas usage. Self-interested consumer choices are the culprit, and a government-directed reshaping of energy production and consumption is necessary. The Gore-led campaign is clear: A grass-roots movement must arise to force politicians to give us our bitter medicine - smaller cars, more expensive appliances and higher gasoline prices and electricity rates.

Wait! Before we jump to government energy-planning, let's look at the track record of the sky-is-falling crowd. Didn't we hear in the 1960s that the "population bomb" would cause food riots in American cities and mass starvation globally? Didn't the Club of Rome in the 1970s predict the end of mineral resources by now? Wasn't global cooling the scare before global warming? Isn't it suspicious that the problem is always individual behavior, and the solution is always government action?

There should be great hesitation before swallowing the Chicken Little du jour. The good news is that the bad news about the climate is exaggerated. Leading climate scientists such as Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Houston's own Dr. Neil Frank, a hurricane expert, as well as popular writers such as Michael Crichton, John Stossel and George Will are not careless, deceivers or plain bad folks. They are reporting the flaws in the analysis behind climate alarmism.

What are some of the inconvenient truths that An Inconvenient Truth fails to consider? First, CO2 is not a pollutant but a building block of life, benefiting plant life and agriculture. The one-third increase in atmospheric concentrations of CO2, from pre-industrial levels, has produced a "greening" of planet Earth, and this will continue for decades to come. Second, the surface warming that many scientists associate with manmade greenhouse gas emissions shows a relatively benign distribution. Minimum (night, winter) temperatures have been increasing twice as much as maximum (daytime, summer) temperatures. Higher night-time temperatures and longer growing seasons reinforce the carbon-fertilization effect, aiding plant growth and agricultural productivity.

Third, the actual rate of global warming to date is well below the high levels predicted by some climate models. As climate scientists know, it is feedback effects that turn a low level of predicted warming into a potentially problematic one; yet it is the nature and impact of such feedbacks that are most in dispute. Real-world climate is far too complex to be modeled. Local weather predictions several days out are notoriously suspect; models predicting the global climate decades and even a century out are will-o'-the-wisps.

At a minimum, Al Gore should add some caveats to his stage show. Citizens and policy-makers should beware those who habitually blame free markets for problems and call on government planning to solve them. Many climate economists argue that global warming - whether man-made or natural - has significant economic benefits, not only costs. The Impact of Climate Change on the United States Economy, an anthology by 26 specialists, pointed out that the United States would be a net beneficiary from most warming scenarios in the 21st century. It concluded: "Agronomic studies suggest that carbon fertilization is likely to offset some if not all of the damages from warming."

Strangely, the environmental lobby that is at war with fossil fuels is also warring with nuclear power and hydroelectricity, the only two large-scale, low-emission substitutes for hydrocarbon energy. And they seem to forget that their beloved windpower has its own set of environmental problems. A California representative of the Sierra Club labeled wind turbines "the Cuisinarts of the air." The bird-kill problem is an important argument that environmentalists are currently using against the proposed construction of a wind farm in the Gulf of Mexico, just off the coast of Padre Island and south of Baffin Bay.

Without Texas' renewable energy mandate, and without a slew of special subsidies, this environmentally controversial project would not be on the drawing board. What utility, after all, wants to buy electricity that goes away every time the wind stops blowing?

Al Gore has been a master of exaggeration ever since then-Sen. Gore blamed the heat and drought of the summer of 1988 on manmade global warming. Eighteen years later, despite contrary evidence that the human influence on climate has significant benefits, not only costs, and that a political cure could be far worse than the alleged disease, he is creating more heat than light. It is time for cooler heads to prevail.



"Think Progress" offers nothing new in its latest post about my NR cover story. It says Pat Michaels is wrong in believing that Curt Davis’s study of Antarctic ice shows that the ice sheet was growing through 2002, and calls Michael’s opinion of the study “key” to my piece. In doing so, it retreats into irrelevancies. Prior to Think Progress’s latest post, I had already acknowledged that Michaels might be wrong. I had also pointed out that, if he were, it would not affect my argument, which from the beginning has conceded that the latest studies show net ice losses in both Greenland and Antarctica. The claim that this shouldn’t scare us into capping CO2 emissions does not depend on showing that Antarctica was gaining ice until the last three years; this would simply be one addition to the many other considerations that weigh against alarmism. If Michaels is wrong, all of the following nevertheless remain true: (1) estimates of the mass of the entire Antarctic ice sheet exist for only the past three years, a period too short to establish the existence of a climate trend or recommend an appropriate policy response; (2) natural phenomena can be invoked to explain a significant portion of observed ice-cap melting; (3) the evidence is as yet insufficient to prove that melting will cause sea-level rise of a dangerous level; and (4) CO2 controls along the lines of Kyoto would have a negligible impact. That's more than enough to justify both the words on NR’s cover and the substance of my argument. 

Keep in mind, moreover, that Michaels’s being wrong about the Davis study doesn’t mean that Antarctica was losing ice between 1992 and 2003. It just means we don’t know. Think Progress’s position essentially amounts to this: “Part of Antarctica was gaining ice. Another part was losing it. What was happening on balance? Beats us. But, by all means, be very worried.” (If Think Progress were always so compelling, how would we on the right stay in business?) 

Not only has Think Progress not addressed my central contentions, it has also failed to correct the errors and omissions I have pointed out in its replies to me. These include its assertion that I wrote that when you factor coastal ice loss into Davis’s study, it still shows that the Antarctic ice sheet is growing; its claim that my discussion of Ola Johannessen’s study of ice buildup in interior Greenland failed to acknowledge coastal loss; its claim that my discussion of Greenland’s temperature history is contradicted by average global temperature records; and its implication that I'd denied that human activity causes warming, when what I'd said was that there is disagreement about how much warming it causes. When Davis explained the mistake I'd made, I immediately corrected myself. Think Progress seems constitutionally incapable of acting likewise. This isn't just sloppy argumentation; it is intellectual dishonesty. As I see little point in further debating such an interlocutor, I'll sign off here, wishing Think Progress luck in pleading the case that we should all hyperventilate over something we don't know.



The end of the world is near! What seemed to be Nostradamus and a few other Doomsday prophets' domain recently became the latest craze in the betting industry. Forecasts on natural disasters such as a comet hitting the planet on May 25 are proliferating around the world. These "warnings" are usually based on the interpretation of known prophecies or "psychic disclosures" coming from other planets, like in the case of the comet originally set to cause the worst Tsunami ever experienced by mankind on 5/25.

"I have received information psychically, which is corroborated by scientific data, according to which on May 25, 2006 a giant tsunami will occur in the Atlantic Ocean, brought about by the impact of a comet fragment which will provoke the eruption of under-sea volcanoes. Waves up to 200 m high will reach coastlines located above and below the Tropic of Cancer. However, all of the countries bordering the Atlantic will be affected to greater or lesser destructive and deadly levels. This site is dedicated to life, to civic responsibility and to information. There is still time to save lives. Thanks for participating in the world-wide alert!" said Eric Julien on his Web site Save Lives In May.

Mankind obviously cheered when this "psychically" received information didn't come true. People across the planet were still busy putting rubber boats and rafts away when a new prophecy of the Apocalypse hit the wire. "There is much debate over the interpretation of the Bible, especially over Revelation, but if we are to interpret 2000 as the end of the millennium 6-6-06 could be the end of the world" stated Matt Ross spokesperson for

The final book of the New Testament is Revelation, and for centuries theologians have pondered its highly symbolic, prophetic language. Revelation describes an apocalypse that will put an end to the world at the end of the millennium. It is prophesied that it is then that a great war will be fought between good and evil. Could the sixth day of the sixth month in the year 2006 be the end of the world as we know it?

A new wake of relative optimism on Doomsday taking place at a later date recently spread around the globe with the latest interpretation of the Inca astrological observations. "Wi1laru Huayta, a Peruvian "spiritual messenger" says that 2013 is the end of the Inca calendar , and in that year- a "huge asteroid" 3 times larger than Jupiter will pass close to earth, causing cataclysms that will kill off most of humankind." says the UK Web site Beyond 2012.

While 2013 remains a viable "back up plan" for the ones who want the world to cease to exist, online sportsbook posted 10-1 odds that there will be an Apocalypse on 6-6-06. The real question on these wagering odds is.....who will cash out winning bets should the world really come to an end?, 4 June 2006

Australian eco-dream ends with whimper

The Rocky Point power plant has been sold for one-twelfth of what it has cost the publicly-owned Stanwell Corporation to keep it running. Investment bank Babcock & Brown found $5 million in small change for the co-generation plant in the same week it forked out $317 million for the South Australian assets of US company NRG.

Once one of the poster projects for the Labor Government, Rocky Point was quietly sold off last week with only a statement on the Stanwell website. The plant initially was to supply green electricity to 10,000 households as well as steam and electricity to industrial users, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 100,000 tonnes per year. But it has been plagued by operational problems and faced environmental fines for allowing contaminated water to be dumped in the Logan River, killing fish.

The problems with water supply and fuel forced the directors to start writing down the value of the plant since it was commissioned in February 2002. In June, 2002, $18.9 million was dropped off the value, another $18.2 million in 2003 and another $10.7 million last June, making the plant worth $7.5 million. In an announcement on its website, which now does not feature any information about Rocky Point, Stanwell said the sale would let it concentrate on bigger projects.

Babcock is looking to raise $2.9 billion to invest in energy projects. It already has a sizeable amount of cash, buying the South Australian assets of US-based NRG on Friday for $317 million to add to its 3000 megawatt worth of energy assets. A spokeswoman for Babcock said the bank would put more money into Rocky Point, which it bought in a joint venture with US company National Power. "We don't tend to take passive investments. We will try to pull the business into profitability," she said.

Stanwell said in a statement it would concentrate on developing large scale energy projects. Its major project is the coal-fired 1400 megawatt Stanwell power station near Rockhampton and it runs hydro power stations and wind farms. Energy Minister John Mickel, one of the shareholding ministers, said in a statement yesterday the price paid was the market value after a tender process. Stanwell confirmed 11 potential buyers were sent an information memorandum in May 2003 with four bids received in June of which two developed into conditional binding offers.

Mr Mickel described the plant as a learning experience and Stanwell overall was operating at a profit. "At the time of its commissioning, Rocky Point was a pioneering plant," he said. "It has provided Stanwell, the Queensland Government and the wider biomass co-generation industry with valuable knowledge and experience." Stanwell also said its probity audit report confirmed chairman Elizabeth Nosworthy - who also is the deputy chairman of Babcock & Brown - did not have a conflict of interest as she did not take part in negotiations for the sale.



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 June 2006


A good excuse to sell policies and put their rates up

Climate change isn't just a crisis. It's a business opportunity--at least in the view of insurance industry leaders, who are mapping out a strategy that could force the rest of the economy to grapple with global warming as never before.

American International Group, the world's largest insurer, announced two weeks ago that it was "actively seeking to incorporate environmental and climate change considerations across its businesses." It is developing new products to respond to the global drive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Last month, the No. 1 insurance broker, Marsh & McLennan, distributed a white paper to a roster of Fortune 500 clients, suggesting that corporations ranging from soft-drink companies to banks may need to respond to global warming or be left out in the cold.

These are the first such moves by U.S. insurers, but in Europe, giant reinsurers like Swiss Re have long been active in the Kyoto Protocol, under which 36 nations have been participating in a market-based system to cut carbon dioxide. The phenomenal growth of that fledgling market, coinciding with last year's record claims due to the violent Gulf Coast hurricanes, has focused insurers on the money that could be made--or lost--on climate change. That's a welcome development for environmentalists. "They are a high-leverage, high-impact industry," says Mindy Lubber, president of the shareholder activist group Ceres. Ceres coordinates the Investor Network on Climate Risk, institutional investors who manage $3 trillion in assets and have been pushing for insurers to become advocates on the issue, much as they pushed successfully in the past for fire codes or auto safety regulations.

Many attribute insurers' new climate awareness to the record $55.3 billion in natural disaster losses they sustained in 2005, double the previous high point set just the year before, with Hurricane Katrina leading the pack.


Insurers certainly are pushing through massive rate increases on the southeastern coast of the United States, retreating from some areas altogether, but the companies maintain that these are standard underwriting decisions, separate from their climate change activities. "We don't make the leap where we are saying that we endorse the idea that hurricanes are a direct result of global warming or that global warming is a direct result of human activities," says Chris Winans, an AIG vice president. "But we take the possibility seriously."

The climate strategies the insurers have spelled out aren't about avoiding losses; they're about generating revenue. For example, AIG aims to get in on Europe's carbon-trading scheme, a market valued at $10 billion last year and, although climbing out of a precipitous fall a few weeks ago, one that is expected to surpass $25 billion in 2006. Even though the United States has not signed on to Kyoto and does not participate, AIG says it will invest in projects around the globe aimed at generating credits to trade on this market. (Buyers would be factories or power companies that are struggling to meet their emissions limits under the treaty.)

Karl Schultz of the consulting group Energy Edge in London says there's "something of a feeding frenzy" of investors clamoring for United Nations approval of their green energy projects so they can trade credits. "Now you're seeing a whole new breed of people coming out of the more traditional financial institutions--the pure business suits as opposed to suits that carry the green badge," Schultz says. AIG also wants to advise corporations, consulting with them on how to get into the carbon market and even developing a new insurance policy to protect against the risk of a project's failure to generate tradable credits.

Lawsuit risk.

Insurance broker Marsh also is positioning itself as a corporate consultant on climate change, which it regards as a "megatrend risk," along with terrorism or pandemics. Marsh dispatched six executives on a leadership building/climate awareness expedition to Antarctica this year. The firm's white paper warned that beverage companies will need to be concerned about water availability in case of drought, and banks will have to worry if they have high-risk loan portfolios. Most significant, Marsh warned that it was unlikely that companies' current environmental policies would protect against lawsuits over climate change.

Courts so far have rejected carbon claims against energy firms, but future lawsuits may be a more predictable risk than hurricanes.

Swiss Re has been talking about similar ideas for more than a decade--perhaps not surprisingly, since as a reinsurer it takes on much of the catastrophe risk from front-line insurers. The company is now in the forefront of some potentially profitable businesses, such as the global market in weather derivatives, which mushroomed from $8 billion to at least $40 billion in just the past year. These financial instruments allow energy companies, farmers, and other businesses dependent upon weather (an estimated 30 percent of the U.S. economy) to hedge the risk of excessively hot conditions or drought. "Wherever there is a risk," says Ivo Menzinger, head of sustainability for Swiss Re, "there is also an opportunity."

Of course, for those who buy insurance industry services, that also means new costs. Forget what's happening in Washington, D.C. The incentive for climate change action may come not from politicians but from a marketplace that is already raising the price of protection.



EDF Energy chief Vincent de Rivaz has stated that financial backing for new nuclear build would require nuclear power to be classified as a non-carbon-emitting form of generation within the European emissions trading scheme (ETS). However this would then amount to a subsidy of nuclear by fossil-fuelled power plants.

Currently nuclear power is not an active element within the EU ETS due to its negligible emissions of greenhouse gases while operating. Instead, the operators of nuclear fleets benefit in indirect ways from the scheme through higher prices for power, a reduction in the competitiveness of competing thermal generators and the absence of legal restrictions on their annual output.

However, what Mr de Rivaz has argued is that nuclear power's formal inclusion in the scheme would provide it with additional financial security as it may then be issued with certificates giving the right to emit. These credits would not be needed by nuclear plants and could be sold on to other ETS emitters, creating an additional revenue stream for nuclear as well as enhancing its financial security for investors and creditors, although the lack of certainty past 2012 may well be cause for concern.

It is not immediately clear whether the ETS should be changed to accommodate nuclear, or if these credits would be better parceled out purely at a national level by adjusting each state's national allocation plan (NAP). Each state within the EU has allocations set aside for installations that are expected to be built before the planned end of the first phase of the ETS. If some of these credits were given to the builders of new nuclear plant, it would avoid having to take credits already allotted to existing coal and gas power stations away.

While moves like this would enhance the attractiveness and likelihood of new nuclear build, this move would be opposed by almost all of the companies that either do not want to, or are unable to, participate in the building of new nuclear plant. Operators of thermal stations will correctly point out that the money that they will have to pay to purchase these credits will amount to a subsidy for nuclear and renewable generators are likely to claim that they should also be entitled to free credits.

Governments have the unenviable task of balancing commercial, environmental and security of supply issues against each other to decide upon an optimum fuel mix. With additional thermal generation currently "business-as-usual" in many countries and thermal plants receiving emission credits for free, many commentators argue that the incentives need to be changed to encourage diversity.

Yet changing the incentives amounts to moving the goalposts for energy companies as well as the instant revaluation of their asset base, a move that would surely spark further disputes about conflicting interests in the marketplace.


More on the Tropical Arctic of the Past

New York Times article below:

The first detailed analysis of an extraordinary climatic and biological record from the seabed near the North Pole shows that 55 million years ago the Arctic Ocean was much warmer than scientists imagined - a Floridian year-round average of 74 degrees. The findings, published today in three papers in the journal Nature, fill in a blank spot in scientists' understanding of climate history. And while they show that much remains to be learned about climate change, they suggest that scientists have greatly underestimated the power of heat-trapping gases to warm the Arctic. Previous computer simulations, done without the benefit of seabed sampling, did not suggest an ancient Arctic that was nearly so warm, the authors said. So the simulations must have missed elements that lead to greater warming.

"Something extra happens when you push the world into a warmer world, and we just don't understand what it is," said one lead author, Henk Brinkhuis, an expert on ancient Arctic ecology at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.

The studies draw on the work of a pioneering 2004 expedition that defied the Arctic Ocean ice and pulled the first significant samples from the ancient layered seabed 150 miles from the North Pole: 1,400 feet of slender shafts of muck, fossils of ancient organisms and rock representing a climate history that dates back 56 million years. While there is ample fossil evidence around the edges of the Arctic Ocean showing great past swings in climate, until now the sediment samples from the undersea depths had gone back less than 400,000 years.

The new analysis confirms that the Arctic Ocean warmed remarkably 55 million years ago, which is when many scientists say the extraordinary planetwide warm-up called the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum must have been caused by an enormous outburst of heat-trapping, or greenhouse, gases like methane and carbon dioxide. But no one has found a clear cause for the gas discharge. Almost all climate experts agree that the present-day gas buildup is predominantly a result of emissions from smokestacks, tailpipes and burning forests. The samples also chronicle the subsequent cooling, with many ups and downs, that the researchers say began about 45 million years ago and led to the cycles of ice ages and brief warm spells of the last several million years.

Experts not connected with the studies say they support the idea that heat-trapping gases - not slight variations in Earth's orbit - largely determine warming and cooling. "The new research provides additional important evidence that greenhouse-gas changes controlled much of climate history, which strengthens the argument that greenhouse-gas changes are likely to control much of the climate future," said one such expert, Richard B. Alley, a geoscientist at Pennsylvania State University.

The $12.5 million Arctic Coring Expedition, run by a consortium called the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, was the first to drill deep into the layers of sediment deposited over millions of years in the Arctic. The samples were gathered late in the summer of 2004 as two icebreakers shattered huge drifting floes so that a third ship could hold its position and bore for core samples.

Estimates of the prevailing temperatures in the different eras represented by the sediments were made in part by tracking the comings and goings of certain algae called dinoflagellates that typically indicate subtropical or tropical conditions. Because the samples lacked remains of shell-bearing plankton that are usually relied on to provide temperature records, the researchers used a newer method for approximating past temperatures: gauging changes in the chemical composition of the remains of a primitive phylum of microbes called Crenarchaeota. Some scientists familiar with the research said that while there were still questions about the precision of this method at temperatures like those in the ancient Arctic Ocean, it was clear that the area was warm.

The temperatures recorded in the samples, right through the peak of warming 55 million years ago, were consistently about 18 degrees higher than those projected by computer models trying to "backcast" what the Arctic was like at the time, according to one of the papers.

Another significant discovery came in layers from 49 million years ago, where conditions suddenly fostered the summertime growth of vast mats of an ancient cousin of the Azolla duckweed that now cloaks suburban ponds. The researchers propose that this occurred when straits closed between the Arctic Ocean and the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The flow of water from precipitation and rivers created a great pool of fresh water, but about 800,000 years after the blossoming of duckweed began, it ended with a sudden warming of a few additional degrees. The researchers suggest that this signaled when shifting land formations reconnected the Arctic with the Atlantic, allowing salty, warmer water to flow in, killing off the weed.

The researchers said the sediments held hints that Earth's long slide to colder conditions, and the recent cycle of ice ages and brief thaws, began quite soon after the hothouse conditions 50 million years ago. A centerpiece of their argument is a single pebble, about the size of a chickpea, found in a layer created 45 million years ago. The stone could have been deposited on the raised undersea ridge only if it had been carried overhead in ice, said Kathryn Moran, a chief scientist on the drilling project, who teaches at the University of Rhode Island. The stone was probably embedded in an iceberg or perhaps a plate of sea ice that tore free from a gravelly shore. It sank as the ice melted or broke apart, Dr. Moran proposed. Such "dropstones" have long been used to date when an oceanic region has been ice covered or ice free.

The amount of ice-carried debris in the sediment layers began to increase about 14 million years ago, the scientists said. That is also about when the great ice sheet that now weighs down eastern Antarctica originated, Dr. Moran noted. In general, the results from the Arctic drilling project suggest that the cooling and ice buildup at both poles happened in relative lockstep. This simultaneity tends to support the idea that the cooling was caused by a drop in concentrations of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, which mix uniformly in the global atmosphere, said Dr. Moran and other members of the team.

Julie Brigham-Grette of the University of Massachusetts, an expert in past Arctic climates who was not connected with the new studies, cautioned against giving too much significance to the single sample, and particularly the single stone from 45 million years ago. Dr. Brigham-Grette said it was vital to try to mesh the new core results with data gathered around Arctic coasts, where there is plenty of evidence for warm conditions in at least some places as recently as 2.4 million years ago. Despite her doubts, she said, the project was a stunning achievement. "It's all very, very exciting to me, because now we can start to rewrite the history of the Arctic," Dr. Brigham-Grette said. "It's like working a giant landscape puzzle of 500 pieces. For a while we only had 100 pieces. Now we have 100 more, and the picture is getting clearer."

Australia: Crazy Greenie-inspired use of dammed water

Dam water is used to keep rivers flowing while severe restrictions are placed on water use by people

Severe water restrictions were introduced in Canberra because more than half its supplies were pumped into rivers downstream. A report from the Canberra branch of Engineers Australia said environmental flows last year from two key reservoirs to maintain the Cotter and Queanbeyan rivers had "seriously reduced the total quantity of water held in reservoirs". "As a result, it has been necessary to impose severe restrictions on water used by ACT and region consumers," the report said.

Since the report was written, the ACT has come out of the drought, the Government has reduced its environmental flows, making more water available to the community, and water has been sent from the Cotter River to the Googong River. A spokeswoman for Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said yesterday: "A lot has changed since then." A 2004 ACT Government report found that the ACT was allocating more than half of its total water resources to environmental flows, providing an average of 272 gigalitres to the environment out of the average 494 gigalitres available.

Engineers Australia, which represents 27,000 engineers, said that the release of such large quantities for environmental purposes had a serious impact on the ACT's water resources and called for additional storage facilities to address the issue. "The current need for water restrictions arises from the fact that since January 2000, flows in the Cotter and Queanbeyan Rivers have been very much less than average, with the result that storage in the reservoirs has been substantially depleted," the report said.

Since 2000, the ACT has faced the threat of water restrictions more often than any other Australian town or city, the report said. "We are concerned regarding the impact these releases have had on the supply of water to residents of the ACT and region which has resulted in the need over a period of two years to restrict water supply to households," it said. The group recommended to a meeting of the Environmental Engineering Society that additional water storage facilities be built as a matter of urgency.



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 June 2006


Record winter snowfall does not count, apparently!

Much attention has been paid to the disappearance of ice and snow in the Polar Regions and mid-latitudes in the Northern hemisphere in recent years attributed to global greenhouse gas warming. Of course in the summer, the snow and ice cover retreats to the highest latitudes. Satellite (NOAA CPC) data suggest that the summer levels of polar ice have been at unusually low levels in recent years, perhaps the lowest since the 1930s and 1940s (Polyakov, 2004).

Regardless of the changes in the summer season, the snow and ice have come roaring back each year in the early fall, and winter levels of ice and snow across many parts of the hemisphere are higher than they have been in many years and in some places in over a century.

Here in the U.S., it all started in March of 1993, when the "Storm of the Century" brought heavy snowfall (up to 4 feet) from Alabama to New York and New England with losses that totaled $7.6 billion and approximately 270 deaths. Then the "Blizzard of '96" in January deposited 1 to 4 feet of snow over the Appalachians, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast; followed by severe flooding in parts of same area due to rain and snowmelt inflicting approximately $3.5 billion damage and 187 deaths.

That winter, the snows started early and never stopped coming. All-time seasonal snowfall records were set in dozens of cities in the east and central states including Boston (107.6" or 286% of normal), New York City (75.6 inches of 276% of normal), Philadelphia (63.1 inches or 303% or normal) and Baltimore, MD (63.5 inches or 303% of normal)

In the last few years, all time single storm records were shattered in the northeast cities. Just this last winter, on February 11-12th 2006 a blizzard set new all-time snowstorm record for Central Park in New York City with 26.9 inches. On February 17-18, 2003 a snowstorm set new all-time snowfall record for Boston with 27.5 inches. Another blizzard on January 24-25 2005 brought 22.5" at Boston's Logan Airport, along with high winds, 6 foot drifts and bitterly cold temperatures. Many measurements near Logan were 27-28" and the storm was compared by many to the blizzard of '78.

Boston since 1992/93 had had 5 years that rank among the top 10% snowiest winters in over 130 years of record, including numbers 1, 3, 5, and 7. If you do a 12-year running mean of average snowfall, the period from 1993/94 through 2004/05 for Boston, the average is the highest in the entire record dating back to the 1880s. New York City (with annual snowfall data back to 1869), for the first time ever, had four successive years with over 40 inches of snow the last four winters. Its four-year running mean is the highest its entire 137 year record.

A few years ago you might recall, the Mt. Baker Ski Area in northwestern Washington State reported 1,140 inches of snowfall for the 1998-'99 snowfall season ending June 30, 1999. This was a new world record for seasonal snowfall.

Not just a local phenomenon

When you look at the Northern Hemispheric winter snow data (recorded back to 1967) you see a recent similar heavy snowfall trend. The average snowfall during the October to March period of 2002/03 exceeded the previous records set in the infamous cold and snowy period of the late 1970s.

More here


Mr. Clarkson is a popular BBC motoring journalist. He loves cars as much as Greenies hate them

For many years I've poked fun at environmentalists, fondly imagining that my opposition to their nonsense was about as ineffectual as Denmark's opposition to American policy in the Middle East. Oh sure, the eco-people sprang out of the bushes from time to time to plant a custard pie in my face, in the same way that a 16-stone man might leap out of bed at night and swat a particularly annoying bluebottle.

And yes, when I make jokes about gassing badgers, funny little men with curious downloading habits go onto the internet and put my name and address in their To Be Killed folders. But despite this I've always felt like a bit of beef dripping in a big vat of tofu. No, really. The eco-ists have the ear of the prime minister, the leader of the opposition, the whole of the BBC, most of the country's newspapers, every single university campus and nearly every government in the world. Whereas I have the ear of the Ford Capri Owners Club. Which is comprised of half a dozen men in Dennis Waterman-style leather bomber jackets.

Last week, however, it transpired that I may be more of a nuisance than I imagined. Jonathon Pot-Porritt, the former director of Friends of the Earth, who now heads the government's UK Sustainable Development Commission, says he can't get his message across because everyone's too busy watching me driving round corners too quickly on Top Gear. He called me a bigoted petrolhead and said that anyone who shuts me up should be given a knighthood. Now I've seen Goodfellas, and as a result I know that "shutting someone up" is Martin Scorsese speak for having someone killed. Crikey. A man in the government wants me dead. And it's not like they haven't done this kind of thing before . . . So I'd just like to say, if my body is found in a wood at some point in the not too distant future, it wasn't suicide. Tell Lord Hutton that Swampy Porritt did it.

I should be worried, I suppose, but mostly I'm rather flattered. For years I've felt like King Canute sitting on the beach, watching helplessly as the tide of eco-offal rolls inexorably towards the shore. But now Mr Pot-Porritt has come out of nowhere to say that I really do have the power to hold back his plans to make trains out of cardboard and create electricity by composting Tories.

I should explain at this point that Pot-Porritt and I have history. I once interviewed him on a television show, and out of common courtesy the producer edited the slot to ensure we both scored an equal number of points. In fact Porritt made a tit of himself, trying to argue that cars were responsible for the then floods in Uckfield, East Sussex. Unfortunately, my mother-in-law lived in Uckfield and I knew full well that the waterlogged high street had nothing whatsoever to do with global warming, and everything to do with the way the local flood plain had been buried under a million tons of Prescott-approved housing. Porritt stammered a lot and was forced to agree. But he said the heavy rain was all our fault. In much the same way that he now says the drought is all our fault. And what's more, he even has Sir David Attenborough on side these days.

Now my respect for The Attenborough as a broadcaster is boundless. He could tell me that I was a giant panda and I'd believe him. He could come on the television and say koala bears can fill in tax forms and I'd stroke my chin, appreciatively. But when he comes on the television to say Sienna Miller's Range Rover has broken the Gulf Stream and overheated a guillemot, well I'm sorry but I just nod off. Because finger-wagging environmentalism, even from the God of the electric fish tank, is catastrophically boring. No honestly. Being told to give up polythene to prevent something that might not happen is like being told to give up drink because it might damage your liver. Yeah but, when you're at a party having a nice time, really: who gives a damn.

I can prove this. Because last weekend the BBC ran a save-the-planet quiz show on BBC1 against Top Gear on BBC2. And guess what? More people watched the planet being savaged than watched a load of weird beards trying to save it.

I offer a piece of advice then to Mr Pot-Porritt this morning. Try living like I do. Don't drop litter. Recycle whatever can be recycled, without talking about it. Grow your own vegetables. Eat meat. Use whatever means of transport is the most convenient. And when you wake to find the sun is shining, call some friends round for a barbecue and be happy. Don't worry about the topsoil and the coral reefs. Remember that in 1900 we lived for an average of 49 years and that now we live to an average of 78. Remember too that we have reduced poverty more in the past 50 years than we did in the preceding 500. And rejoice at the news that all the waste generated by the United States in the whole of the 21st century - all of it - will fit in a landfill site just 18 miles across. You will enjoy your short time here on earth so much more and what's more, if you stop telling us what to do all the time, so will we.



It may be hard to imagine the world getting so hot that scientists and engineers would design a fleet of 55,000 mirrors, each bigger than Manhattan, and send them into space to deflect sunlight away from Earth. Or that they would mimic a major volcanic eruption in order to cool the melting Arctic, shooting dust and other particles into the upper atmosphere where they would scatter the sun's light away from Earth.

Using geoengineering, the large-scale manipulation of the environment, to combat global warming has been proposed by scientists like Lowell Wood at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. He argues that simulating a volcanic winter -- the cooling that follows major volcanic eruptions like Mount Pinatubo in 1991 -- is the most practical approach to managing global warming. "It appears, of all the things I have heard discussed, to be the most economical and readily implemented," Dr. Wood says.

The idea of interfering with nature in such an aggressive and intentional way is seen as irresponsible by many other scientists and environmentalists. They worry that focusing on high-tech fixes will distract politicians and ordinary citizens from the measures that could be taken today to reduce the world's dependence on fossil fuels, which produce carbon dioxide when they are burned. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases act like a solar blanket, trapping heat in the atmosphere. "If we really knew we could do this, there is no question it would lessen efforts to push politicians to reduce carbon dioxide levels," says David Keith, an expert on geoengineering who holds the Canada Research Chair in Energy and the Environment at the University of Calgary.

But what if global warming is more severe or happens more quickly than scientists predict? The worst-case scenarios are bad enough, and would see cities like Vancouver, New York and Shanghai swamped by rising sea levels caused by melting Greenland and Antarctic ice. Other parts of the world could be periodically devastated by more severe droughts, hurricanes and other weather. "You would like to have a backup system to try. To have an alternative," Mike MacCracken, with the Climate Institute in Washington, said.

Research needs to done, both to determine if geoengineering schemes would work and what unintended consequences they might have, said Dr. Keith, who recently moved to the University of Calgary from the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He is working on what may turn out to be an economical way to capture carbon dioxide from the air and store it underground. It sounds more like tinkering than large-scale manipulation, but Dr. Keith considers his work to be geoengineering. But he worries that if he is successful, it will give people a false sense of security. "You don't want people to jump to conclusions that everything can be solved," he said.

When the time comes to make a decision, in 30 or 50 years, Dr. Keith said, politicians will need to know which geoengineering proposals will work and which won't, how much they will cost and what the risks are. "It is essentially a statement of fact, that whatever we do now, people in 2050 are going to think about this. I'm not saying they are going to do it, but they are going to think about this." He has written a number of articles about the options. Mimicking a volcano by shooting particles that scatter light into the upper atmosphere could damage the ozone layer. Using mirrors in space would cause the sun's light to flicker. "That would be distracting," Dr. MacCracken said. To avoid brief, repeated eclipses, one giant mirror would have to be built, but Dr. MacCracken said that would require a manufacturing base on the moon.

John Bennett of the Sierra Club of Canada wondered if it wouldn't be easier to reduce our use of fossil fuels. Edward Teller didn't think so. The father of the hydrogen bomb was also one of the most prominent early proponents of using geoengineering to fight global warming.

More here

Australian water restrictions now severe

Failure to build dams now biting

The water shortage in southeast Queensland reached crisis point yesterday with the announcement that tough new restrictions would be introduced on June 13. Under the new Level 3 restrictions, residents of Brisbane and most of the southeast region will only be able to use buckets and watering cans to water their gardens and wash their cars. Under the Level 2 restrictions now in place, sprinklers are banned but residents can use hand-held water hoses on alternate days.

SEQWater chief executive Peter Burrows said that based on the expected consumption rates, the region's three main water storages - the Wivenhoe, Somerset and North Pine dams - would drop to 30 per cent of capacity just before the June 10-12 Queen's Birthday long weekend. Mr Burrows said the combined level of the three dams was down to 30.24 per cent yesterday. The dam levels had been dropping between 1 per cent and 2 per cent over the past month. Storage capacity was expected to hit 30 per cent next Friday or Saturday.

Sprinklers are also banned in Sydney, but hand-held hosing of lawns and gardens and drip irrigation is allowed on Wednesdays and Sundays before 10am and after 4pm. Under permanent water restrictions introduced in Melbourne in March last year, hand-held hosing is allowed at any time and sprinklers can be used between 10pm and 10am.

The Level 3 announcement in southeast Queensland sparked a row between the state Government and Opposition over plans to use recycled water. Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said southeast Queensland residents could be drinking recycled sewage water in two years under a secret state government plan. He said the Beattie Government planned to use a proposed western corridor pipeline for recycled water to pump treated effluent into the Somerset and Wivenhoe dams.

But Peter Beattie said it was not government policy to send recycled water into dams. The Premier said the Government and local councils believed the western corridor recycled water scheme could initially supply the Swanbank and Tarong Power stations, and could later be used for industry and agriculture. But in a joint statement, Mr Beattie and Water Minister Henry Palaszczuk did not rule out the possibility of using recycled water in dams. "Any council plan to put water into dams will need to be (put) first to the community as part of a full and transparent debate," Mr Palaszczuk said.


Radiation vaccination may be possible, say scientists: "Scientists in the United States say it may soon be possible to vaccinate emergency workers against the effects of a nuclear explosion. The researchers have found that a form of gene therapy appears to protect mice from the effects of exposure to radiation. Ever since the September 11 attacks on the United States there have been growing concerns that terrorists may attempt to explode a crude nuclear device, called a dirty bomb. Experts say that such a bomb, made up of nuclear waste wrapped around a conventional explosive, could disperse large amounts of radiation over a city area and that significant numbers of people would die within 30 says of exposure. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have been trying to develop a treatment that would protect emergency workers and others who respond to the scene of such an explosion. In experiments with mice they used a tiny artificial sac to deliver a protective compound to every cell. Twenty-four hours later the mice were exposed to doses of whole body radiation. Those that had been given the gene therapy survived."


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 June 2006


Environmental activists are teaming up with state attorneys general and trial lawyers to bankrupt the nation's livestock farmers - in the name of saving the environment. If the situation wasn't so serious, it would be hilarious. The activists - including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and Union of Concerned Scientists - are trying to convince Congress that the nation's farms should be treated as industrial waste sites and therefore subject to severe penalties under the federal Superfund law. Some state attorneys general, supported by trial lawyers, have filed lawsuits toward the same end. Why? Because, they argue, animal manure is a hazardous substance.

They are now demanding that Congress refuse to clarify that the Superfund law was never intended to apply to natural animal waste. They are claiming - falsely - that without Superfund, animal waste would be unregulated. The fact is that manure already is heavily regulated under the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and other federal and state regulations. They are claiming - falsely - that small family farms won't be affected. The reality is that under Superfund, huge penalties can be levied against small operations and even individuals. Tens of thousands of small family farmers could be affected.

Congress never intended the Superfund law to apply to the nation's farms - it was designed to clean up industrial waste sites like Love Canal. But because it did not specifically exempt animal waste, activists are now seizing on this lack of clarity to haul farmers before the courts and apply the draconian penalties permissible under Superfund. If the activists are successful, farmers could face penalties of many millions of dollars and thousands of small farmers could be forced off their land. "The domestic livestock industry would be driven from this country, the grain industry would be crippled, and farm families and communities would be devastated," Oklahoma Farm Bureau chief Steve Kouplen warned Congress last November. "If animal manure is found to be a hazardous substance under Superfund, then virtually every farm or ranch in the United States could be written off as a toxic Superfund site," says Missouri cattleman Mike John, who is also president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

The activists' efforts are a deliberate distortion of the law, devised by some local authorities and a small army of trial lawyers seeking large settlements in which they - and the activist groups - would be the chief beneficiaries. "It's simply a shake-down," one dairy farmer told Congress.

"It would be a mockery of congressional intent," commented Bob Stallman, head of the American Farm Bureau Federation. He notes that farms and ranches that raise livestock are already among the most regulated business sectors for environmental quality, subject to extensive federal and state laws and regulations.

Farmers are by their nature pro-environment. Healthy crops and livestock depend on a healthy environment. None of this apparently matters to the activists, who may also see manure as a means to gain political sway over farmers.

Given that federal and state environmental regulators are often sympathetic to, if not in outright league with, environmental activists, and that the Superfund law provides regulators with much discretion as to how to identify and manage sites to be cleaned up, treating farms as Superfund sites would essentially provide activists a powerful political weapon to be used against farmers at the activists' discretion. Farmers who don't toe the environmentalist line may find their farms declared as Superfund sites.

Congress inadvertently caused this problem in the first place by not exempting animal manure from the original Superfund law. But who could imagine that such an exemption would be necessary? The good news is that Congress can quickly solve the problem by passing a simple amendment to the Superfund law, clarifying that farm manure is not considered a hazardous substance under the Act. A bipartisan bill to this effect has already been introduced in the House with nearly 160 co-sponsors. A companion bill with bipartisan support is about to be introduced in the Senate. Congress needs to get this done soon for the sake of this country's farmers, consumers - who would face escalating food prices and shortages - and just plain common sense. Cattleman Mike John says, "It's just plain insulting to suggest naturally occurring manure on our family farm deems us a Superfund site." Manure, it seems, is the appropriate word for this latest activist initiative.


Scientists Say Arctic Once Was Tropical

Scientists have found what might have been the ideal ancient vacation hotspot with a 74-degree Fahrenheit average temperature, alligator ancestors and palm trees. It's smack in the middle of the Arctic. First-of-its-kind core samples dug up from deep beneath the Arctic Ocean floor show that 55 million years ago an area near the North Pole was practically a subtropical paradise, three new studies show. The scientists say their findings are a glimpse backward into a much warmer-than-thought polar region heated by run-amok greenhouse gases that came about naturally.

Skeptics of man-made causes of global warming have nothing to rejoice over, however. The researchers say their studies appearing in Thursday's issue of Nature also offer a peek at just how bad conditions can get. "It probably was (a tropical paradise) but the mosquitoes were probably the size of your head," said Yale geology professor Mark Pagani, a study co-author. And what a watery, swampy world it must have been. "Imagine a world where there are dense sequoia trees and cypress trees like in Florida that ring the Arctic Ocean," said Pagani, a member of the multinational Arctic Coring Expedition that conducted the research.

Millions of years ago the Earth experienced an extended period of natural global warming. But around 55 million years ago there was a sudden supercharged spike of carbon dioxide that accelerated the greenhouse effect. Scientists already knew this "thermal event" happened but are not sure what caused it. Perhaps massive releases of methane from the ocean, the continent-sized burning of trees, lots of volcanic eruptions.

Many experts figured that while the rest of the world got really hot, the polar regions were still comfortably cooler, maybe about 52 degrees Fahrenheit. But the new research found the polar average was closer to 74 degrees. So instead of Boston-like weather year-round, the Arctic was more like Miami North. Way north. "It's the first time we've looked at the Arctic, and man, it was a big surprise to us," said study co-author Kathryn Moran, an oceanographer at the University of Rhode Island. "It's a new look to how the Earth can respond to these peaks in carbon dioxide." It's enough to make Santa Claus break into a sweat.

The 74-degree temperature, based on core samples which act as a climatic time capsule, was probably the year-round average, but because data is so limited it might also be just the summertime average, researchers said. What's troubling is that this hints that future projections for warming, several degrees over the next century, may be on the low end, said study lead author Appy Sluijs of the Institute of Environmental Biology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Also it shows that what happened 55 million years ago was proof that too much carbon dioxide - more than four times current levels - can cause global warming, said another co-author Henk Brinkhuis at Utrecht University. Purdue University atmospheric sciences professor Gabriel Bowen, who was not part of the team, praised the work and said it showed that "there are tipping points in our (climate) system that can throw us to these conditions."

And the new research also gave scientists the idea that a simple fern may have helped pull Earth from a hothouse to an icehouse by sucking up massive amounts of carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, this natural solution to global warming was not exactly quick: It took about a million years. With all that heat and massive freshwater lakes forming in the Arctic, a fern called Azolla started growing and growing. Azolla, still found in warm regions today, grew so deep, so wide that eventually it started sucking up carbon dioxide, Brinkhuis theorized. And that helped put the cool back in the Arctic.

Bowen said he has a hard time accepting that part of the research, but Brinkhuis said the studies show tons upon tons of thick mats of Azolla covered the Arctic and moved south. "This could actually contribute to push the world to a cooling mode," Brinkhuis said, but only after it got hotter first and then it would take at least 800,000 years to cool back down. It's not something to look forward to, he said.



U.S. power companies are rushing to build coal-fired plants, in part because they are hoping to get them on the books ahead of potential U.S. regulations on greenhouse gases, the author of a book on the coal industry said in an interview. "There's a dawning awareness in the coal industry that it is as good as it's going to get right now," Jeff Goodell, author of "Big Coal," to be published by Houghton Mifflin next month, said in a telephone interview. "Changing politics in America are not going to favor the coal industry," he said.

U.S. companies have submitted plans to build 120 plants that burn coal -- which emits more carbon dioxide than any other fuel -- though even the power industry says costs and permitting could pare that figure. Unlike the European Union, whose members signed the Kyoto Protocol, the United States has no market for emissions of CO2 and other gases most scientists believe cause global warming. President George W. Bush favors voluntary means of cutting heat-trapping emissions, and in 2001 he pulled the United States out of the Kyoto agreement. In its first phase, the pact requires rich countries to cut CO2 by about 5 percent under 1990 levels.

But politicians thought to be mulling a run for the White House in 2008, including U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton and perhaps former Vice President Al Gore -- both Democrats -- and Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain, support greenhouse gases regulations. "Once you get a price on carbon ... that changes the whole competitiveness of coal plants," said Goodell, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine, whose book stemmed from a 2001 cover story he wrote for the New York Times Magazine. "All of a sudden other things look more competitive and (coal plants) make less sense," he said about the potential for wind and solar power.

For its part, the U.S. power industry doesn't see the coal rush related to a potential CO2 regime. "It's far more a response to... natural gas prices and concerns about fuel diversity, than ... companies trying to predict what the future may look like in terms of CO2 regulation," said Dan Riedinger, spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute.

To be sure, many things are sparking interest in coal. While U.S. oil imports have been rising since the 1970s, the country won't have to ship in coal any time soon. It has more coal than any other country, more than double China's, and nearly eight times Western Europe's. And a rush in the 1990s to build power plants that run on natural gas have led to record prices for the fuel in each of the last three years.


The planned U.S. plants could lead to greater emissions of greenhouse gases especially as few of them would be equipped with a new, more efficient technology, Goodell said. The technology, called integrated gasification combined cycle, trims CO2 emissions, but costs about 10 percent more. Even so, equipment that captures the gas can be added to it more cheaply than traditional coal plants. American Electric Power Co Inc. and Cinergy Corp. are planning to build IGCC coal plants. But the lion's share of the plans call for dirtier conventional plants, including TXU Corp.'s (TXU.N: Quote, Profile, Research) plans for eight of them in Texas.

How any new U.S. coal plants would fit into a U.S. carbon scheme is anybody's guess. To create a market the EU handed down emissions allocations to power plants. Companies that cut emissions under set limits sell credits to those who could not cut them. The market traded $7 billion in credits last year and is expected to grow much more. If a market operates in a similar way in the United States -- the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases -- utilities that squeeze in plants now instead of after the regulations are set up could save money. "The question is how plants will be grandfathered in and what kind of allowances will be made for plants under construction and in permitting stages, " said Goodell. "That's going to be a huge battle."



Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, is already making waves, not surprisingly. Lately, you cannot pick up a newspaper or watch the news without some headline about greenhouse gases, global warming or efforts to combat it.

Despite many questions, governments around the globe seem to be in a frenzy to respond to a public that seems to want something done and to growing pressure from green groups that demand that something be done. People may like the idea of government mandates to curb greenhouse gases, but they won't like the sticker shock that comes from many of the proposed solutions. Those who are frustrated by rising gas and energy prices will be outraged when they see the price tag for Mr. Gore's proposed solutions.

Despite the lack of scientific consensus over global warming, there are factual economic conclusions that can be drawn from government mandates to curb greenhouse gases.

To date, Mr. Gore continues to advocate U.S. involvement in the Kyoto treaty or its successor. In 1997, the Senate voted 95-0 to reject signing the treaty, citing the harm that the treaty could cause the economy.

Nearly a decade later, the European Union, Canada and other ratifying countries have failed to make a dent in emissions growth under the emissions trading system (ETS) of the Kyoto Protocol. What have been affected are the economies of countries struggling to meet their targets.

European Environmental Agency data show that the 15 EU ratifying countries are expected to be 4 percent above their emissions target in 2010 instead of 8 percent below 1990 levels, as required under the protocol. An association of British engineers and manufacturers recently reported that part of the 34 percent increase in British electricity prices in 2005 was because of the ETS.

Studies by the recognized macroeconomic research firm of Global Insight show a significant rise in energy costs for consumers and businesses if Britain, Italy, Spain and Germany meet their Kyoto emissions reduction targets in 2010.

These costs are already being recognized as several European companies have announced that they will shift production to non-Kyoto countries, taking with them thousands of jobs. Norsk Hydro, a Fortune 500 energy and aluminum supplier, closed several production sites in Germany because of higher costs related to emissions trading and electricity prices.

All of these economic pains have led to many changed sentiments in Europe. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, once an ardent Kyoto supporter, stated, "The truth is no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long-term environmental problem. To be honest, I don't think people are going, at least in the short term, to start negotiating another major treaty like Kyoto."

Similarly, the new government under Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has expressed concerns over the growing economic pains it has experienced as a Kyoto member. This month, Mr. Harper released his new budget and dropped most if not all of the Kyoto-based environmental programs.

Despite the lessons from our neighbors, many in the United States still insist on some Kyoto-style domestic agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Democratic Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut have introduced legislation to reduce U.S. emissions to 2000 levels in 2010.

The economic consulting firm CRA International analyzed the economic impact of the McCain-Lieberman cap-and-trade proposal and found that it would cost average U.S. households $450 to $720 a year. The United States would lose as many as 840,000 jobs in 2010 and up to 1.3 million jobs by 2020.

The greater risk for the United States under a fixed cap on emissions is the collision it would face with rapid population growth. The 15 EU countries are having difficulty meeting their Kyoto targets with negligible population growth. In sharp contrast, U.S. population is projected to grow more than 20 percent from 2002 to 2025. More people means more energy and at least some additional greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr. Gore's movie will spark a new round of discussion about global warming, and policymakers from state houses to the United Nations will have choices about how to respond. They can learn from the lessons of the past under Kyoto and look to curb greenhouse gases through policies that will encourage research and development in cleaner technologies.

They can look to remove economic barriers that hinder investment and market reform to facilitate new technologies. Global solutions such as the new Asia Pacific Partnership on Development focus on economic growth and technology transfer that can truly be a catalyst to change.

Countries in the APP include India, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States. Their annual carbon dioxide emissions were nearly 50 percent of the global total in 2002. By reducing the barriers to the adoption of new energy efficiency technology and cleaner, less-emitting energy sources in developing countries, the APP can reduce energy poverty in developing countries as well as energy intensity (the amount of energy used to produce $1 of output). Slowing the growth of emissions in developing countries is a cost-effective approach to addressing the potential threat of climate change.

The other choice is to follow Mr. Gore and tinker with failed policy that would lead to sharp increases in already high energy prices, lost jobs and reduced revenue. That's an inconvenient truth that we cannot afford.


Nuclear power push for desalination plant in Australia

Australia should tackle a shortage of power and water by embracing nuclear power plants that also desalinate water. As John Howard prepares to announce an inquiry into nuclear energy, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer argued yesterday for building desalination facilities alongside nuclear power plants. The call came as academic and former Labor prime ministerial adviser Ross Garnaut suggested China's demand for energy meant all greenhouse gas emission-friendly technologies, including nuclear, would have to be supported. "Developments using coal are going to be very important in the Chinese future. The main constraint on that will be what I would see as the inevitable, eventual place of China in effective global greenhouse regimes. The alternative to that - greenhouse anarchy on a global scale - doesn't bear thinking about," Professor Garnaut said.

Mr Downer, warning that the threat of climate change would force Australia to consider new technologies, has predicted that one desalination plant powered by nuclear energy could deliver half of South Australia's water requirements and replace three-quarters of the water currently delivered by the Murray River. "Such a project would have two enormous environmental advantages, large-scale electricity supply with no CO2 emissions, and keeping much-needed water in the Murray," he said yesterday. "I believe this is an idea we cannot afford to dismiss, and certainly not on ideological grounds. It deserves serious study."

The NSW Government still keeps plans for a desalination plant on the books for Sydney although it was scrapped after a range of protests. Then NSW premier Bob Carr also raised the need to consider nuclear energy as a means to supply clear electricity until renewable energy sources improved. Western Australia has announced plans for a desalination plant but is implacably opposed to nuclear power as well as uranium mining.

In his speech to the Energy Supply Association of Australia, Mr Downer predicted the post-Kyoto reality was that the world needed to look to new technology to tackle climate change and allow China and India to pursue continued economic growth. Dismissing "the conventional view" that nuclear power was too expensive, Mr Downer said Australia should examine the potential for complementary processes such as desalination. "This could make nuclear very attractive in areas facing both power and water shortages," he said. "For example, it may be possible to build a nuclear plant in South Australia, supplying 1000 megawatts an hour of electricity and 75 gigalitres a year of water, at a cost in the order of 2.5 to three billion dollars.



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 June 2006


To anyone who spent time watching hurricane forecasts last summer, Max Mayfield may seem like a hero. The director of the National Hurricane Center predicted many of the season's worst storms. But a day before the start of the 2006 hurricane season, environmental groups called for Mayfield and other officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, to resign. "NOAA is actively covering up the strong and growing scientific link between more powerful hurricanes and global warming," said Mike Tidwell, who represents a group called the U.S. Climate Emergency Council.

The groups demanded that Mayfield and NOAA administrator Conrad Lautenbacher step down. "They must resign immediately," said Tidwell, in front of about 30 protesters who'd gathered for a morning rally outside NOAA headquarters in Silver Spring, Md.

NOAA officials declined to be interviewed today but released a statement saying the agency had not taken a specific position on the relationship between global warming and hurricane behavior. "We recognize there is an ongoing scientific debate and will continue to support research that might identify detectable influences of global warming in hurricane frequency and/or intensity," the statement said.

One NOAA official, speaking on background, said today that not all of the agency's scientists agree a global warming-hurricane link exists. Mayfield put the blame on natural climate cycles when he testified before Congress in September 2005. "The increased activity since 1995 is due to natural fluctuations and cycles of hurricane activity," he said at the time.

But a growing body of peer reviewed scientific evidence - including a study released today by researchers at Pennsylvania State University and MIT - downplays the role of natural cycles and blames global warming - brought on by human activities - as a factor heating the Atlantic Ocean, which in turn fuels more intense hurricanes that may affect the United States. "There have been some views put forward that what we are seeing in the Atlantic is due to a natural variability," said Greg Holland, a climatologist at the National Center for Hurricane Research. "The problem is that what we're seeing in the Atlantic is mirrored all the way around the world. We're actually looking at an entire world that is heating up, not just the Atlantic Ocean, which is why we are absolutely convinced that there is a very large greenhouse warming signal in what we're seeing."

Recent studies have shown that while the overall number of hurricanes has not increased significantly, their intensity has increased. Holland said the frequency of the strongest Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled around the world since 1970. Climate scientists say the increase is a result of warmer water temperatures that put more water vapor into the atmosphere, which acts as fuel. "A hurricane reaches out and grabs the available water vapor, sucks it into the storm, and then dumps it down and concentrates it," says Kevin Trenberth, a climatologist at the National Center for Hurricane Research. "So when it rains, it pours now much more than it did 30 years ago."

Scientists like Trenberth try to quantify just how much impact global warming has on storms. "We think that probably the best number we can put on it about now is something like 8 percent," he said. "So in New Orleans [during Katrina], where they had 12 inches of rain, about 1 inch of that was probably due to global warming and the other 11 would have happened maybe anyway."

But following the 2005 season, NOAA released a statement discounting any link between global warming and worsening hurricanes. It set off a furor among some NOAA scientists, who charged the agency prevented them from speaking freely about climate change issues. NOAA backed away from that statement in February, and NOAA administrator Lautenbacher sent an e-mail to agency staff. "I am a strong believer in open, peer reviewed science as well as in the right and duty of scientists to seek the truth and to provide the best scientific advice possible," the e-mail read. Lautenbacher encouraged scientists "to speak freely and openly" with journalists.

As for Mayfield, he suggested in a recent interview that he'd be willing to see more evidence that hurricanes are getting worse because of global warming. "I'm willing to be convinced either way here," Mayfield told ABC's Ned Potter. "I'm always looking forward to looking at new data. If I get convinced, so be it. But I'm not convinced yet."

ABC News, 31 May 2006

Comment on the above:

When I read this the first two times I thought it came from The Onion, but apparently it's true. The upshot is, sometimes I have to agree with Rush Dumbimbaugh. There are environmental wackos out there every bit as misguided as the far right freaks who call for assassinations of South American heads of state and protest military funerals in the name of God.

"NOAA is actively covering up the strong and growing scientific link between more powerful hurricanes and global warming," said Mike Tidwell, who represents a group called the U.S. Climate Emergency Council.

Hmmm...really? So two independent research groups have published a very small handful of papers in the past year supporting a link between tropical storms and AGW (e.g.). Meanwhile, a small handful of other papers, published by other independent research groups, either do not find such links (e.g.) or say that the signal of the increase is buried in the noise of societal changes (e.g.).

I said in the title "science that doesn't exist." I don't mean that science supporting a link between TS's and AGW doesn't exist. Rather, I mean that the protesters are arguing (again, based on a very small number of papers all published in the past year) that a strong scientific consensus exists (and that NOAA is conspiratorially covering it up). I am arguing that despite strong words from the various scientific camps, no scientific consensus has yet become apparent (and won't for a few years). To protest stating otherwise is a gross misunderstanding of how science works and, worse, is stretching science toward a political goal. If there is a Republican War on Science, this must be the Democrats getting revenge.

If we want to actually follow the accepted machinations of scientific process, the most appropriate statement comes from NOAA:

"We recognize there is an ongoing scientific debate and will continue to support research that might identify detectable influences of global warming in hurricane frequency and/or intensity," the statement said.

and not from dimwits who think that changing the leadership of NOAA does anything at all to change the science:

2 Studies Link Global Warming to Greater Power of Hurricanes

New York Times article below. Comment follows

Climate researchers at Purdue University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology separately reported new evidence yesterday supporting the idea that global warming is causing stronger hurricanes. That claim is the subject of a long-running scientific dispute. And while the new research supports one side, neither the authors nor other climate experts say it is conclusive.

In one new paper, to appear in a coming issue of Geophysical Research Letters, Matthew Huber of the Purdue department of earth and atmospheric sciences and Ryan L. Sriver, a graduate student there, calculate the total damage that could be caused by storms worldwide, using data normally applied to reconciling weather forecast models with observed weather events.

The Purdue scientists found that their results matched earlier work by Kerry A. Emanuel, a hurricane expert at M.I.T. Dr. Emanuel has argued that global warming, specifically the warming of the tropical oceans, is already increasing the power expended by hurricanes.

The approach used by the Purdue researchers, concentrating on what is called reanalysis data, has never been tried for this purpose before, Dr. Huber said in an interview, adding, "We were surprised that it did as well as it did." In a statement accompanying the release of the study, Dr. Huber said the results were important because the overall measure of cyclone activity, whether through more intense storms or more frequent storms, had doubled with a one-quarter-degree increase in average global temperature.

In the other new study, Dr. Emanuel and Michael E. Mann, a meteorologist at Pennsylvania State University, compared records of global sea surface temperatures with those of the tropical Atlantic and said the recent strengthening of hurricanes was attributable largely to the rise in ocean surface temperature.

Some researchers say long-term cycles unrelated to global warming are the major cause of hurricane strengthening in recent decades. But Dr. Emanuel and Dr. Mann, whose work is to be published in Eos, a publication of the American Geophysical Union, maintained that the cycles, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, had little if any effect.

In fact, they reported that the most recent cooling cycle could just as well be attributed to the presence of particle pollutants in the atmosphere that block sunlight and, they said, could have temporarily counteracted some of the influence of warming from accumulating greenhouse gases. Dr. Mann said the new findings also suggested that as efforts to cut pollution by particles and aerosols continued to intensify, their cooling effects would diminish while the heating effects of greenhouse gases would remain unconstrained. As a result, he said, "we could be in for much larger increases in Atlantic sea surface temperatures, and tropical cyclone activities, in the decades ahead." He joked that some might urge an increase in pollution, but called it "a Faustian bargain."

Stanley B. Goldenberg, a meteorologist with the Hurricane Research Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who has expressed skepticism about any connection between global warming and hurricane intensity, said he had not seen the new papers but had read nothing in other recent research to change his view. "There's going to be an endless series of articles from this circle that is embracing this new theology built on very flimsy interpretation" of hurricane data, Mr. Goldenberg said. "If global warming is having an effect on hurricanes, I certainly wouldn't base it on the articles I've seen."


Comment on the above:

You won't find more blantantly obvious example of cherrypicked science than in today's New York Times, which has an article on two new peer-reviewed studies on hurricanes and climate change. Given the debate over climate change and hurricanes the new studies are certainly newsworthy. However, it is what is left out of the Times story that makes the cherrypicking stand out undeniably.

The New York Times makes (and has made) no mention of two other just-published peer-reviewed studies (links here and here) providing somewhat different perspectives on the hurricane-climate issue and its policy significance (I am a co-author on one of the studies. It does not deny a global warming-hurricane link, but instead characterizes the literature in the context of an exchange with others with a different view). These studies, which are two among a larger family of research, are not necessarily "the other side" but they do add important context selectively ignored by the Times. In today's article, for balance the New York Times interviewed NOAA's Stanley Goldenberg, who is a respected scientist, but who hadn't seen either of the papers referred to in the article or published a peer-reviewed study this month. Interviewing one of the authors of recent peer-reviewed work would have necessarily required referencing that work.

To the extent that the New York Times has a powerful role in shaping how policy options are framed and discussed, it does a disservice to the public and policymakers when it cherrypicks science. I suppose this is because they have decided to pick sides in the political debate over climate change and that political calculus shapes its editorial decisions.


Nearly ten years after the Kyoto accords, our planet continues to careen helplessly toward certain environmental destruction. The skies are choked with pollutants. Polar bears are plunging through the thinning ice caps. Ben Affleck is still having problems finding a decent comeback project. Thankfully, with the new release of Al Gore's blockbuster eco-documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," the world is finally heeding the disaster looming on the horizon. But mere consciousness is not enough to cure our current climate ills - it takes action. Here are a few simple things you to put the planet on the road to recovery.

1. Turn off faucets when not in use. While a single dripping faucet may not seem to be much of an environmental hazzard, the numbers really begin to add up when you're hosting a Sierra Club fundraising party for Laurie David and all 10 of your bathrooms are in use. Have your domestic staff check to make sure that electonic sink sensors are working properly, and use other water conservation methods such as installing low-flow bidets. Remember to remind your guests: "If it's yellow, let it mellow."

2. Upgrade to a new Gulfstream G550. Next time you take off for Cannes or Sundance or that big Environmental Defense Fund gala, stop and think how much fuel that clunky old G450 is using. Not only does the new G550 have 10.8% better fuel efficiency, it's quieter, has real burled walnut, and with a maximum cruising speed of Mach 0.885 you'll never be late for the Palm d'Or ceremony!

3. Crush a Third World economic development movement. One of the most pressing threats facing our environment is rising incomes in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Only a generation ago, these proud dark people were happily frolicking in the rain forest, foraging for organic foods amid the wonders of nature. Now, corrupted by wealth, they are demanding environmentally hazardous consumer goods like cars and air conditioning and malaria medicine. You can do your part to stop this dangerous consumer trend by supporting environmentally aware leaders like Robert Mugabe and Fidel Castro to foster an economy of sustainable low-impact ecolabor camps.

4. Don't Have Babies. Many people are shocked when they learn that fewer than 25% of the Screen Actors Guild and Directors Guild have been spayed or neutered. Sure, babies make great fashion accessories and it's fun to give them awesome names, like Kumquat Wildebeest Paltrow and Toploader Enchilada Cage. But these miniature humans will eventually grow and begin ravenously consuming the Earth's depleted reserves of aux pairs and psychotherapists.

5. Alternative fuel motorcades. Let's face it: whether you are on an international press junket or going to an awards banquet, motorcades are a way of life. But this doesn't mean you can't make your red carpet entrance in an eco-friendly way. When possible, tell your publicity team to request a electric, hybrid, or E-85 stretch limo for you and your entourage. Later, when you are vomiting outside the Viper Club, encourage the paparazzi to share the photos to conserve high energy use camera flash pods.

6. Go on a random killing spree. If science has taught us anything, it is that human beings are the root cause of our current environmental mess, and it's high time that we address these two-legged eco problems head on. Next time you're on your way to a location shoot, do a little shooting of your own - have the driver lower the tinted windows and pop a few caps on behalf of Mother Earth. Not only will you be doing the environment a good turn, it will earn you valuable youth market "street cred."

7. "Green begins at home." Whether you live in East Hampton or Topanga Canyon, there are dozens of little things you can do around your compound to minimize harm to the environment. For instance, have your groundskeeping staff lower the water levels in your koi ponds, and turn off your energy-wasting security cameras between 1 AM and 7 AM. If you own a summer ranch in Montana, send an email to the trail boss and tell him/her to add Beano to your cattle herd's feed to reduce ozone-depleting methane emissions.

8. Phase out the entertainment industry by 2011. If there is one sector of our economy that typifies America's obscene energy waste, it is the entertainment industry. Every year untold gigawatts are consumed to power studio kleig lights, theater projectors, popcorn machines, and multi-city concert tours, with no discernable benefit to society. With your help, this destructive drag on our environment can be reversed within five years. Do your part by pledging to greenlight only those films that have recycled or incomprehensible story lines, and by signing preachy and unlistenable musical acts. By purging the entertainment market of its dangerous popular appeal, you will be reducing the public's desire to make wasteful and expensive SUVs trips to their local concert halls, cineplexes and video stores.

9. Commit suicide. As an eco-aware, planetary resource parasite, you will eventually want to kill yourself to spare the environment any further damage that your personal existence has already caused. However, it is important that you plan your suicide carefully as not to disturb the ecosystem's delicate balance. Self immolation, while poignant, can release up to 50 kg of airborne fluorocarbons. Why not try the the hot new Malibu trend, ritual Japanese sepukku? it's exotic, elegant, and your intact corpse will make a great compost pile addition.

10. Support eco-friendly organizations and political candidates. Finally, you can make a major impact for environmental good through community legislative action. Like it or not, getting Washington to take action on environmental issues requires intensive lobbying and the election of eco-thinking representatives, and this takes money. There are literally hundreds of worthy environmentalist organizations and candidates out there, and the choices can be confusing. Fortunately, I have taken the work out of this for you. Before you do #9, make a legacy of your commitment to eco-action: send me a bundled contribution via PayPal to my email address, and I will see to it that it gets to the right place. Together, we can make a difference!



Britain is more reliant on coal for its electricity than it has been at any time over the past decade, according to government figures. The amount of coal consumed by UK power stations increased last year to the highest level since 1996, as record gas prices forced electricity suppliers to find other sources of power. This pushed up Britain's carbon dioxide emissions to their highest in 10 years, figures from the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) show. They also help explain why ministers tried to lower targets for cuts to carbon emissions.

The government research, which has been quietly released on the DTI website, also shows that domestic coal production plunged by 18pc last year. Imports of the carboniferous fuel "were 21pc higher at a new record level and generators' demand for coal was up 3.5pc". According to the DTI report "deep mined production fell to a record low of 9.5m tonnes, while opencast coal production was at its lowest level since 1975 and 13pc lower than in 2004. Ellington mine closed due to flooding leaving only eight major deep mines."

Stubbornly high oil and gas prices over the past year have meant that coal, which is a more inefficient source of energy, is once again a viable option for generators. According to the DTI's numbers, power generators burnt 32.7m tonnes of coal last year, measured in terms of its oil-equivalent weight. This compares with 31.3m tonnes in 2004 and a record low of 25.5m tonnes in 1999.

Because coal is a more polluting fuel than other sources, the UK's carbon emissions rose by half a million tonnes last year to 157.4m tonnes, the highest since 1996. Even after accounting for newly-planted forests, which reduce CO2 levels, net emissions were still the highest since 2000.

The Daily Telegraph, 30 May 2006

South Australian wind farms shelved

Millions of dollars worth of Mid North wind farm projects are being shelved because the Australian Government is holding off boosting renewable energy targets. Only one proposal is likely to break ground by the end of the year and that's because it has its own "built-in" consumer, having been optioned by Australian Gas and Light. Other wind farms have not been so lucky and have suspended construction until Canberra's politicians extend the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target scheme.

The targets, set by the Federal Government, call for energy suppliers to source two percent of their power from renewable sources. This target has, however, just about been met leaving wind farm companies with no inducement to continue with their projects as they cannot guarantee the sale of their energy. An $180 million wind farm at Waterloo which would have produced enough power to supply, for example, the Clare and Gilbert Valleys regional demand about 90 per cent of the time and which would have employed anywhere between 50-100 people during the construction of the 39 wind turbines, has been suspended. "We would like to revisit the project in the future and have asked the Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council for a 12 month planning approval extension," Tasmanian company Roaring 40s public relations and communications manager Josh Bradshaw said.

He said the industry was lobbying the Federal Government for an extension to the MRET scheme to a minimum of five percent. "We will continue to lobby and a delegation of major wind energy companies travelled to Canberra this month and spoke with the Prime Minister's office to highlight some of the concerns we have. "And while there were no firm commitments they did acknowledge the investment problems we are facing," Mr Bradshaw said. A proposal by Wind Prospect for a 170MW wind farm of 85 turbines in the Barunga and Hummocks Ranges, west of Snowtown, which would have supplied the energy needs for more than 132,000 average homes, has also stalled....

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 June 2006


Another loser who hates the world

In an apparent bid for leniency, one of three people charged in an eco-terrorism plot pleaded guilty in Sacramento federal court Tuesday and agreed to testify against the other two. Lauren Weiner pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in connection with the trio's alleged plans to blow up commercial and governmental facilities in the Sacramento region. She agreed to cooperate with the government's investigation and prosecution of the case, including testifying against co-defendants Eric Taylor McDavid and Zachary O. Jenson. The 20-year-old Weiner admitted that one of their targets was the U.S. Forest Service's Institute of Forest Genetics in Placerville.

McDavid, Jenson and Weiner were accused in a grand jury indictment with conspiring to blow up the genetics lab in Placerville, the Nimbus Dam and nearby fish hatchery in Rancho Cordova, and cellular telephone towers and electric power stations in unspecified locations. Weiner also admitted the group planned to take credit for their actions on behalf of the Earth Liberation Front, which the FBI has identified as a terrorist movement dedicated to violent attacks on what its followers believe are symbols of society's destruction and exploitation of the environment. Congress has defined federal crimes of terrorism to include those involving the use of explosives that are "calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct."

Weiner is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 8, but she probably will not be sentenced until the prosecutions of McDavid and Jenson are completed. The 28-year-old McDavid, originally from Foresthill and who prosecutors claim was the leader of the group, and Jenson, 20, who is homeless, have been held without bail since being arrested Jan. 13. Weiner was released on $1.2 million bail and has been living with her mother in Pound Ridge, N.Y.

The case is based on extensive electronic surveillance -- both audio and video -- and on information from a paid FBI informant who posed as an ELF sympathizer and infiltrated the group.

As part of her written plea agreement, Weiner acknowledged her approval of targeting cellular telephone towers and other corporate facilities with homemade explosives. She admitted purchasing two books -- "The Poor Man's James Bond" and "The Survival Chemist." "On Jan. 11, Weiner assisted in purchasing several items to be used in making destructive devices, including canning jars, coffee filters, a mixing bowl, a hot plate, petroleum jelly, a gasoline can, bleach, an extension cord and battery testers," according to the plea agreement.

During the six days before their arrest in a shopping center parking lot in Auburn, the three defendants, along with the informant, occupied a cabin in Dutch Flat that had been rigged by the FBI for audio and video surveillance before the foursome moved in.

Weiner pleaded guilty to a charging document filed Tuesday by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Endrizzi that replaced the indictment only for Weiner. The charging document describes reconnaissance visits she and her cohorts made Jan. 10 to the dam and hatchery and later to the genetics lab. Two days later, according to the information, Weiner took part in measuring and heating bleach "in order to create crystals necessary for an explosive device."



Few organisations relish occupation of the moral high ground more than the Independent newspaper, a fact evidenced by its daily attempts to attain the summit thereof by varying, often bizarre routes (last week's front-page campaign to save the bumblebee comes to mind). As with so many moralists, however, the Independent's own behaviour reveals it to be woefully lacking in the ethical area.

This time the specific case in point concerns the organisation's treatment of Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish statistician who feels that - given that global warming is just one of several problems facing humanity this century (others being, inter alia, provision of clean drinking water, education and health care to the world's poor) - the Kyoto accord is a sub-optimal strategy in terms of maximising total global utility. For expressing and supporting this view, Mr. Lomborg - a former Greenpeace supporter - has been vilified with the venom reserved for the apostate.

In some respects, therefore, the May 18 column by Johann Hari (now available here) is typical of the treatment meted out to Mr. Lomborg on a regular basis. What's different in this case - given that it appears in a supposedly respectable newspaper - is not the vindictiveness of the original attack, but the fact that the blatant falsity of the accusations is being completely ignored by the editors, who don't deign even to acknowledge receipt of Mr. Lomborg's polite and repeated attempts at correction.

As for Mr. Hari's errors, I've covered them in detail here, and so apologise for the repetition - briefly, in ascending order of importance, they are that:

Mr. Lomborg's claims to be an environmentalist are lies - "... nor is he an environmentalist. He claims to have been a member of Greenpeace, but the organisation cannot find any records of him." (This from the text on Mr. Hari's website. The relevant passage in the dead tree edition reads "He claims to have been a member of Greenpeace, but the organisation says he was never active in their campaigns." It's unclear which version came first, or why the strange change was made).

Mr. Lomborg reiterates that he was a regularly paying member of Greenpeace in the 80s. I'll let Mr. Hari's apparent assumption that only Greenpeace members (or, perhaps, only those "active in their campaigns") may call themselves environmentalists pass without further comment.

"He has never written a peer reviewed scientific paper, and there's a reason for that." This claim represents either shocking ignorance or a shocking lie on Mr. Hari's part. In fact, the entire book The Skeptical Environmentalist - the one which so offends Mr. Hari - was stringently peer reviewed by its publisher, Cambridge University Press. Indeed, anticipating controversy, Cambridge subjected Mr. Lomborg's work to a more than usually rigorous review process, which included a climatologist, an environmental economist (and IPCC reviewer), and an expert in biodiversity and sustainable development (see my prior post for details).

The preceding incorrect assertions lead Mr. Hari to conclude, falsely, that "the two central planks of his public image - here is a green guy who has reassessed the scientific evidence and come up with a new reading - are false" (i.e., that Mr. Lomborg is a liar on two fronts).

Mr. Hari blatantly misrepresents Mr. Lomborg's position on climate change policy, characterising it as an argument that "we should do nothing about run-away global warming", and as a call "for junking the whole idea of restraint and opting for climatic anarchy". In fact, Mr. Lomborg has termed as "optimal" a 6% reduction in current emissions levels, increasing to 10% by 2100.

It is of course possible that Mr. Hari made these assertions from mere ignorance - anyone who refers to the great scientist "Gallielo" (final sentence, print and online versions), or who thinks that the book of "Revelations" [sic] predicts a 1,000 year war (rather than a post-Armageddon millennium of peace), is automatically to be suspected thereof. What's truly upsetting about the whole affair is the reaction of his employers to Mr. Lomborg's attempts to clear his name; i.e., to completely ignore them.

Last Tuesday, Mr. Lomborg sent a polite response via the email address designated by the Independent for letters to the editor, detailing the errors in Mr. Hari's column. Nothing, not even an acknowledgment of receipt, was received in return. On Thursday, he specifically addressed the same response to "reader's editor" Guy Keleny. (In addition, I had previously informed Mr. Keleny of the inaccuracies in Mr. Hari's column.)

Once again, not even the courtesy of an acknowledgment of receipt was forthcoming. Mr. Keleny's regular corrections column, published Saturday (not online), was more concerned with whether "bêtes noire" or "bêtes noires" represented correct usage than with honourably acting to set the record straight vis-à-vis Mr. Lomborg. Needless to say, no correspondence from the latter has been published.

It is, of course, one thing for a columnist to launch a passionate attack against those with whom he disagrees - indeed, this is in large part what they're paid to do. And it's inevitable that mistakes will be made at times (although it's not clear whether Mr. Hari's transgressions of fact were mere errors or deliberate lies). But the column in question was specifically labelled as an attempt to destroy the credibility of that opponent (to "bury the high priest of fossil fuels", as the print edition headline put it; "it is time to bury him", the lead paragraph reiterates) - and was based on assertions that aren't "suspect", or "controversial", but which are quite easily shown to be blatant misstatements of fact.

In such a case, the most basic demands of moral conduct require that the Independent take corrective steps - their refusal to do so is indefensible; their failure to even acknowledge Mr. Lomborg's communication(s) is unspeakably rude. When it was written, Mr. Hari's column may merely have been extraordinarily bad journalism - given what the Independent's editors now know, but refuse to admit to their readers, it has since become libel.


Warmed Over: Al Gore's new movie is the feel-good hit of the summer--but not much more.

It's only been out a week, but audiences seem not to have poured forth from Al Gore's movie and, in an unprecedented reversal of political polarity, demanded higher gasoline prices. This is bad news for Republicans, who will bear the burden of high gas prices to the polls in November. Not that Mr. Gore's movie advocates higher gasoline prices. It reportedly doesn't advocate any policy that would actually relieve the fears of climate worriers. When he last sought the White House in 2000, recall, it was Mr. Gore who persuaded President Clinton to open up the strategic reserve to provide consumers with cheaper gas, harm to the climate be darned.

Here's a test. What if science showed conclusively that global warming is produced by natural forces, with all the same theorized ill effects for humanity, but that human action could forestall natural change? Or what if man-made warming were real, but offsetting the arrival of a natural ice age? Would Mr. Gore tell us meekly to submit to whatever nature metes out because it's "natural"?

Mr. Gore's next movie should be about the urge to propitiate the gods with sacrifices, a ritual whose appeal did not go out with the Aztecs. Yes, Al, let us give billions to alternative energy bureaucrats and emissions regulators. This we do as a tribute to your shamanism, although it will make little appreciable difference to the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That said, a valid service is performed in satisfying the eternal human appetite for gloom and doom (and no virgins were sacrificed), distracting people from the reality of life, which is that we all are doomed, while the universe, the Earth and all that environmentalists hold dear will go remorselessly on and on without us.

In a million years, the time it takes the earth to sneeze, the planet will likely be shorn of any conspicuous sign we were ever here, let alone careless with our CO2, dioxins, etc. Talk about an inconvenient truth.

How much more securing, in a way, to believe we are ruining the planet than the planet just does not care about us, and will run rampant with life long after we are dust. And how pleasant to be able to transmute our fury over our fate into incoherent feelings of self-heroism against our present "enemies." Thus Washington Post columnist, and future dust, Sebastian Mallaby: "By their contempt for expert opinion on everything from Iraqi reconstruction to the cost of their tax cuts, Republicans have turned [Al Gore] into a hero. By their serial dishonesty, Republicans have created a market for 'An Inconvenient Truth.' " That felt good, didn't it? That satisfied a need.

But we digress. A remarkable and improbable thing is that, despite presumably devoting decades of study to the subject of global warming, nothing Al Gore has learned leads him to say anything that would strike the least informed, most dogmatic "green" as politically incorrect. He doesn't discover virtues in nuclear power. He doesn't note the cost-benefit advantages of strategies that would remove CO2 from the atmosphere, rather than those that would stop its creation. Anybody who deeply searches into any subject of popular debate inevitably comes back with views and judgments to shock the casual thinker. Mr. Gore utterly fails to vouchsafe this reliable telltale of seriousness.

That man-made carbon dioxide has a net planetary warming effect is an important hypothesis, one that science can make stronger or weaker, but can't prove. It may be true, but a layperson only has to look into the antecedents of today's "consensus" to realize it wouldn't be too surprising if tomorrow's consensus were that CO2 is cooling, or neutral, or warming here and cooling there.

And evidence of warming is not evidence of carbon-driven warming. These are different things, at least until scientists can be reasonably certain they've eliminated other factors and interrelationships that contribute to climate variability. But scientists are not close to understanding or even knowing all the factors that play into "climate change," a process that might as well be called "climate," since climate is always changing.

Finally, warming and what might cause warming are subjects entirely separable from the urge to gather up all the most dire and extreme speculation about what a warming earth would be like for humans and present it as scientific "truth."

Mr. Gore's narrative isn't science, but science fiction. It also contains a large element of political fiction, relying on the hack theme of good guys versus bad guys. Hint to filmmakers: An honest policy argument usually takes the form of one of two questions: "Whose rights trump?" and "What's welfare maximizing?" Mr. Gore did not discover global warming and hasn't been a voice in the wilderness. Our political system has looked at the question closely, in a way Mr. Gore's film doesn't, and repeatedly concluded that the cost of action is greater than the known or surmised risks. That's all it can do. Thus the Senate and Presidents Clinton and Bush all made clear that they wouldn't sign up for a Kyoto gesture that imposes real costs with no real benefits.

This argument will come back again and again, as it must. As for the auteur, where many politicians seem like overhungry adolescents, Mr. Gore seems like a stifled 9-year-old--by turns spoiled and bullied, unwilling fully to meet expectations but unwilling also to take his own path. So what about gas prices? He needs to decide: Does he want to be a presidential contender or does he want to be the deliverer of "inconvenient truths" about climate change?



Particularly around Australia's vast coral reefs

Annual harvest trends, catch per unit of effort and catch per unit of area, are fundamental metrics of fishery management. Figures for the Great Barrier Reef show no evidence of decline and the catch per unit of area is less than 1 per cent of what is widely considered sustainable for reef fisheries. Why are these standard metrics being ignored by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)? What is the evidence in support of GBRMPA claims of over-fishing?

The Great Barrier Reef commercial fishing harvest is now limited to an annual quota of 3,061 tonnes. Averaged over the 347,000 km2 of reef and lagoon area in the Great Barrier Reef, this comes to just under 9 kg/km2/year. The average harvest, over a broad range of reef areas elsewhere in the Pacific, is 7,700 kg/km2/year, and even the conservation NGO, World Resource Institute, cites 4,000 kg/km2/year as being a sustainable level for coral-reef fisheries. The entire West Indian/Caribbean reef area is less than half that of the Great Barrier Reef and the reef fish harvest is over 100,000 MT. The Florida Keys, with less than 1 per cent the reef area of the Great Barrier Reef, has for many years sustainably supported a larger catch than the entire Great Barrier Reef.

With a harvest quota of less than one per cent of the widely accepted sustainable yield for reef fisheries, why do we then also have extensive closed areas, limited licences, quotas, closed seasons, size limits, bag limits, prohibited species, gear restrictions and even restrictions on the sale of catch?

Figured over the entire reef and lagoon area, the boats participating in the Great Barrier Reef commercial line fishery enjoy an average density of over 500 km2 per boat. The average number of days fished per boat, however, is only about 50 per year. Thus, the mean fishing boat density comes to over 4,000 km2 per boat on any particular day. For all practical purposes, commercial fishing pressure on the Great Barrier Reef as a whole is virtually non-existent.

There are of course some more favoured and accessible areas that do receive greater fishing pressure than other areas, but this only means that most of the region receives even less than the extremely low average figures indicate. However, as the extensive coral trout surveys (conducted by GBRMPA but unpublished) clearly show, even these popular areas show no clear evidence of over fishing.

With a fishing intensity of one small vessel in over 4,000 square kilometres of reef waters and a total harvest restricted to an annual catch that averages 90 grams per hectare, claimed threats of over-fishing are simply absurd and the increasingly elaborate restrictions entirely unwarranted.

Economic value

GBRMPA has widely claimed the value of Great Barrier Reef-based tourism to be worth $3.5 billion, and the reef component alone as being $1.4 billion. They also have often cited the value of commercial fishing as being only about $119 million. The actual reef component of most visitors' stays is a single day-trip during which they spend a few hours on the reef, and only about half of all visitors to the region even visit the reef. The value of reef tours (about $150 million) is in fact very close to the value of reef-based commercial fishing (about $130 million).

Attributing the total value of all regional tourism to a one-day visit to the reef by about half of all visitors is no more justifiable than would be attributing it all to commercial fishing, based on the fact that most visitors eat seafood during their stay. When the value of recreational fishing (about $240 million) is added, the value of fishing activity can be seen to be over twice that of reef tourism.

Is the value of Great Barrier Reef tourism claimed by GBRMPA deliberately intended to mislead Parliament and the electorate, or just grossly incompetent economic analysis?

In the lead-up to the recent large expansion of no-fishing "green zones", GBRMPA estimated the impact on commercial fishing to be between $0.5 million and $2.5 million. The Great Barrier Reef fishing industry restructuring cost estimate is now $50 million and could easily double before completion. On top of this is the ongoing economic loss, which a University of Queensland study has estimated to be $23 million annually in foregone production.

Was this GBRMPA mis-estimate also a deliberate attempt to mislead Parliament and the electorate, or just incompetence again?

It is also interesting to note that, in the most recent Access Economics report commissioned by GBRMPA (and also widely cited by them), the estimate of the Great Barrier Reef catchment area's tourism value is $4.3 billion. By implication and misrepresentation, GBRMPA is laying claim to the entirety of regional tourism, when the true Great Barrier Reef component is about 3.5 per cent of this amount. In other words, they are exaggerating by about 3,000 per cent.

Reef management

Reef managers are now claiming that the Great Barrier Reef has the best-managed reef fishery in the world. What we have in fact is the most over-managed, costly, highly restricted, smallest, and least productive reef fishery in the world. By this criterion we could also have the best-managed grazing industry and agriculture as well. All we have to do is reduce them by 99 per cent and any associated problems will become negligible.

How much of the widespread public support for GBRMPA is based upon misinformation they themselves have promoted?

Water quality reviews

Threats to water quality are currently a major GBRMPA concern receiving wide publicity. In particular, siltation, nutrient run-off and herbicide contamination from agriculture have been cited as major concerns.

David Williams has conducted the most comprehensive review to date of effects of run-off on the Great Barrier Reef. His work was conducted for GBRMPA and funded by them. He found there was little evidence of such impacts. In the summary, he stated, "clear impacts of enhanced run-off of sediments, nutrients and contaminants (as a result of land use) on coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem have proven difficult to detect. Impacts are unlikely for the majority of reefs that are located well offshore."

An earlier detailed review, focused particularly on nutrients, likewise said: "It is tempting to conclude that the water quality status of the central Great Barrier Reef is not at immediate risk and that at current nutrient input rates, external sources will have little future impact on water quality ...".

How does GBRMPA reconcile these findings with its claim of declining water quality? Where is the evidence for declining water quality that these researchers were unable to find? Agricultural use of fertiliser and herbicides has been decreasing for some years. What is the evidence for an increasing impact? How does agri-chemical run-off in the rivers - that is within Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safe guidelines - become a threat to the reef when diluted a further million-fold in the ocean?


Australia has the world's third largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), just below those of the United States and France, but ahead of Russia, with the total area actually exceeding that of its land territory. In terms of EEZ area, Australian fisheries harvest rate is about one-twentieth that of the US. The wild caught harvest here comes to just under 40 kg/km2 per year. In the US, the relatively small sub-tropical Gulf coast region alone produces over three times the total commercial catch of all of Australia.

Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Mexico, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Burma have only a fraction of the EEZ area of Australia and are each producing over five times or more wild caught harvest than Australia, in addition to as much as 25 times greater aquaculture production.

Despite our small population, vast EEZ and ideal circumstances for extensive aquaculture, we still do not even produce enough seafood to meet domestic demand. Imports now amount to 70 per cent of consumption by edible weight and cost $1.8 billion. A CSIRO study estimates that, by the year 2020, an additional 610,000 MT will be needed to meet growing demand. This amount represents an almost 400 per cent increase in imports over the next one-and-a-half decades.

This raises two very important questions:

First, is the relatively low level of the Australian wild catch fishery really at the limit of capacity for the resource? Is an annual harvest of only 0.4 kg/ha actually the maximum that our waters can sustain? If our fish stocks are so depleted, why do so many Indonesian fishermen keep coming so far, and facing such risks, if the resource is truly so meagre? Are they coming here to sunbathe?

Second, why should Australian aquaculture be at a cost disadvantage to Europe, North America or Japan - all of which have booming aquaculture industries much larger than Australia's, despite more difficult natural conditions, plus equal or greater cost for land, labour and equipment? The overwhelming disadvantage of Australian aquaculture and fisheries is clearly neither natural nor economic, but government-imposed restrictions, demands, changes and uncertainties.

A much more empirical, rational, evidence-based and experimental approach to management is sorely needed. A far more inclusive, cohesive, organised, determined and effectively aggressive approach must be taken by the industry itself.

Commercial fishermen, aqua-culturists and recreational anglers all face similar threats from an overzealous and incompetent bureaucracy. All must put aside blaming one another and join forces to confront the real enemy. Divide and conquer is the bureaucrats' most effective tactic, and a united front of opposition is the one thing they and their political overseers cannot ignore. Everyone involved will have to accept some compromises in formulating objectives. Clear, well-reasoned demands are badly needed. Legal, political, public relations and scientific expertise is essential, and money will have to be spent.

In the end, a key objective must be for the industry itself to assume a strong role in its own management and regulation. This is entirely in keeping with fundamental democratic principles and the only means of avoiding the kinds of disastrous decisions now being made by academic experts and managers with little knowledge of the realities of either the industry or the actual resource.



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 June 2006

Ya Gotta Laugh!

Should be good fodder for a cartoon

Toyota was recalling almost one million Prius cars amid safety concerns with the model's steering. Toyota Prius NHW20 model vehicles produced in Japan from July 2003 to November 2005 were being recalled. The recall affects 2596 Australian cars and 990,000 internationally. Toyota says on some vehicles, under certain conditions, the steering intermediate shaft may become loose or develop a crack. There have been no reported incidents of this condition in Australia.

The recall also affects some Corolla and Avensis models that are not available in Australia. "Owners of an affected vehicle will most likely become aware of a problem with the steering as a result of increased noise such as a rattle or a `knocking' sound," Toyota said. "In the worst case, if the vehicle continues to be operated under these conditions, the steering connection may separate or fracture, which could result in loss of steering." Owners of affected vehicles will be contacted by letter in early June requesting them to contact their nearest Toyota dealer to arrange for the problem to be fixed.



Germany is the world's biggest user of wind power, and it has ambitious plans to build even more wind turbines. It has decided that generating nuclear power is not the way forward, and it has decided eventually to close all the country's existing nuclear power stations. The country's great hope for is for a future of green energy, and in particular wind power. However, some observers are now questioning whether all the investment in wind power makes economic sense.

Alsleben is a small market town in eastern Germany on the banks of the Saale river. It's a quiet place surrounded by rolling farmland, but for the past few weeks the people here have been getting used to some new neighbours. On the hills above them are 37 giant wind turbines. Alsleben is now the site of one of the biggest wind farms in the country. Close up the engineering is impressive. The blades for these wind turbines are longer than the wing of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet. They are all built in the shape of aerofoils, in order to withstand speeds of up to 270 km an hour. The site is owned by the US industrial conglomerate, General Electric. It is convinced that wind energy makes economic sense. GE reckons the demand for wind power in other European countries will grow in the same way that it has in Germany.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Germany is committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions. Wind power has obvious advantages as the electricity it generates is non-polluting. Germany's politicians plan to have 20% of the country's energy coming from renewable sources like wind by 2020.

But a row is brewing over the cost of building the power lines which will be needed. Germany's energy agency says this will cost 1.1bn euros ($1.4bn) or an extra 17 euros a year for each household. But energy specialist Professor Wolfgang Pfaffenberger, of Bremen International University, says these figures are too low and it will be domestic customers who will foot the bill. "It is a big problem for industrial users to pay these extra prices because other countries have cheaper energy. To keep the jobs here, and stop businesses from leaving, more of the costs will be pushed to the domestic sector."

Alsleben's new wind farm is designed to supply electricity to 30,000 homes, but when the wind stops blowing, the blades stop turning and the power output falls to zero. Critics say this underlines one essential drawback: you can't depend on wind for energy. Even if you build wind farms you still need conventional power plants in case the wind fails. "We face many hours a year with more or less no wind," says Martin Fuchs, chief executive of one of Germany's biggest electricity grid operators, E.On Netz. "We can save only a very small number of conventional power stations." Surges of wind-generated electricity risk overloading the grid, he adds, causing power blackouts.

These are charges the wind power industry robustly rejects. Christian Kjaer, of the European Wind Energy Association, says all electricity grids are designed to cope with power fluctuations. "Fossil fuel or nuclear power stations are truly intermittent," he argues. "You never see 1000 megawatts of wind energy shutting down in a second, yet that's what conventional power stations do."

For now, few in Germany are questioning the country's wind energy programme. The savings in terms of greenhouse gas emissions are politically popular. Yet there is a lingering question-mark over the cost of all this, and whether building so many wind turbines truly makes economic sense



A climate scientist is warning Alberta politicians not to get caught up in the hysteria over global warming. Timothy Ball likens the furor over climate change to the apprehension over the Y2K problem, which turned out to be a costly dud. The former University of Winnipeg professor told an all-Tory legislature committee yesterday that dramatic climate changes are common in history and they shouldn't get too excited about the greenhouse gases being blamed for global warming. "I understand that you have to respond," he said. "You can't ignore any environmental issue, but you have to set priorities."

He claimed Ottawa spent $5 billion to avoid predicted year 2000 computer crashes, while countries that spent nothing had no problems. "You can spend billions with the wrong priorities because people are so concerned and their fears are preyed upon," said Ball, a Victoria, B.C., consultant. He claimed Environment Canada has spent $3.7 billion on climate change over five years and has been forced to close weather stations to pay for it.

Pembina Institute policy analyst Chris Severson-Baker said he was surprised the committee would provide a forum for "a climate change debunker." "The scientific consensus is so strong on this that to say things like that is like trying to argue the earth is flat. It's just false," he said. "People in a position to do something ought to be focused on coming up with creative policy solutions."

Environment Minister Guy Boutilier said Alberta will reduce carbon dioxide emissions regardless of disagreement among scientists on the issue. "We'll be the first province in Canada with strong regulations on carbon dioxide emissions, and I believe it's a prudent approach in managing risk."

A spokesman for federal Environment Minister Rona Ambrose said the Conservatives are committed to reducing greenhouse gases, but not at any cost. "It's been pretty clear the previous government was willing to spend anything with little result," Ryan Sparrow told the Sun. "We're focusing on a more holistic approach."

While some MLAs applauded Ball's presentation on behalf of the Friends of Science, Neil Brown suggested Ball was playing games with statistics and demanded to know who is funding the organization. "I have never received any money from any oil and gas company," Ball responded.

The Edmonton Sun, 30 May 2006


Provinces are free to pay for it themselves if they want to meet Kyoto's greenhouse-gas reduction targets, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the House of Commons yesterday in an apparent rejection of Quebec's $328-million request for a provincial Kyoto plan.

Yesterday's meeting of the House of Commons was the first since Quebec Premier Jean Charest and the rest of the National Assembly supported a motion urging Ottawa to meet its Kyoto reduction targets. The motion also called for the federal government to help finance Quebec's emission reduction programs, a proposition Bloc Quebecois Gilles Duceppe asked Mr. Harper to support yesterday. "This government encourages discussions between the federal government and the provinces on climate change and programs that can improve the situation," Mr. Harper replied in French. "If a provincial government wants to take certain decisions, their own decisions in their own jurisdictions, they can also use their own money."

Public support for Mr. Harper's Conservatives has been on a steady rise for months in Quebec, and Tory strategists openly acknowledge the province is key to the party's hopes for a majority in the next election. But Mr. Duceppe, whose party repeatedly raised Kyoto and the National Assembly vote with Mr. Harper during Question Period, said the Conservatives' environment policies will ultimately hurt them in Quebec.

Mr. Duceppe predicted that "the real face of that government" will be revealed through positions on the environment and issues such as the gun registry and the fiscal imbalance.The environment continues to dominate questions from the Liberals, Bloc and the NDP in light of the Conservatives' decision not to continue funding several Liberal environment programs and to challenge the basic principles of the international Kyoto Protocol. Mr. Harper's government has countered that the recent budget pledged billions toward public transit and that a full "Made in Canada" plan for the environment will be released this fall as part of a new Clean Air Act.

The governing party received a political boost yesterday after Liberal MP John Godfrey raised a leaked report from the C.D. Howe Institute that he said shows that under the previous government, Canada was on its way to meeting 80 per cent of its targets by 2010, two years before the 2012 deadline. Environment Minister Rona Ambrose responded by saying the report also found that the Liberal plan would have spent billions on purchasing credits overseas, doing little to reduce Canadian emissions. "I am really glad that the Conservatives were elected so that we can make sure that the pipe-dream plan goes up in smoke," Ms. Ambrose said.

The Globe and Mail, 30 May 2006


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

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

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