Saturday, June 30, 2007


(From Environmental Science & Policy)

A decision inventory approach for improving decision support for climate change impact assessment and adaptation

By Christopher R. Pyke et al.


Assessing and adapting to the impacts of climate change requires balancing social, economic, and environmental factors in the context of an ever-expanding range of objectives, uncertainties, and management options. The term decision support describes a diverse class of resources designed to help manage this complexity and assist decision makers in understanding impacts and evaluating management options. Most climate-related decision support resources implicitly assume that decision making is primarily limited by the quantity and quality of available information. However, a wide variety of evidence suggests that institutional, political, and communication processes are also integral to organizational decision making. Decision support resources designed to address these processes are underrepresented in existing tools. These persistent biases in the design and delivery of decision support may undermine efforts to move decision support from research to practice. The development of new approaches to decision support that consider a wider range of relevant issues is limited by the lack of information about the characteristics, context, and alternatives associated with climate-related decisions. We propose a new approach called a decision assessment and decision inventory that will provide systematic information describing the relevant attributes of climate-related decisions. This information can be used to improve the design of decision support resources, as well as to prioritize research and development investments. Application of this approach will help provide more effective decision support based on a balanced foundation of analytical tools, environmental data, and relevant information about decisions and decision makers.


Decision support provides a link between decision making, scientific information, and analytical tools. The annual number of publications describing the development or application of decision support systems has grown steadily over the last three decades (Fig. 1) with applications spreading across a broad range of disciplines (Fig. 2). Moreover, these trends underestimates the actual extent of the practice, because it tracks only the use of the term "decision support" and misses important related activities such as soil or agricultural extension services.....


The provision of effective decision support for climate impact assessment and adaptation is a challenging goal. Current approaches are dominated by systems designed to improve the quantity or quality of information available to decision makers. However, theory and practical experience suggest that decision support systems are more likely to lead to desired outcomes when they balance the provision of information with concern for organizational and political processes. These considerations reflect an underdeveloped dimension to existing decision support tools. A more balanced approach will require new data on the characteristics and context surrounding decisions and decision makers. This new information can be used to improve the delivery of decision support, as well as help identify sensitive decisions and valuable adaptive opportunities. Progress in these areas will represent an important contribution toward the long term goal of encouraging the effective use of decision support for adaptation to climate change.


If you have an interest in global warming and its effect on mountain glaciers, you will be thrilled to know that there are over one million websites on the subject. Even before you get to the first site, you already know what you will find. Burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, the Earth is warming, mountain glaciers are in full retreat all over the planet, delicate ecosystems are in peril, and humans who rely on the freshwater from mountain glaciers better get creative fast.

Recall that in the Gore film, a great deal of attention was paid to the diminishing "snows of Kilimanjaro" - Gore has made hay in Glacier National Park as well pointing to shrinking glaciers. Retreating mountain glaciers have become a poster-child of the global warming alarmists - no presentation on the subject is complete without one. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says in their recent 2007 Summary for Policymakers "Mountain glaciers and snow cover have declined on average in both hemispheres. Widespread decreases in glaciers and ice caps have contributed to sea level rise."

Someone in Europe missed the memo on this subject as a recent article has appeared in the Journal of Geophysical Research entitled "Very high-elevation Mont Blanc glaciated areas not affected by the 20th century climate change." To say the least, we at World Climate Report were interested in what the authors had to say.

The research was conducted by six scientists from leading agencies and departments in France and Switzerland that deal with hydrology and glaciology. Before you see the title of the article and immediately suspect some conspiracy funded by European coal companies, be aware that the research was funded by Observatoire des Sciences de l'Univers de Grenoble (OSUG), the European Programs ALPCLIM and CARBOSOL, and by the city of Chamonix Mont-Blanc. Given the title of the article, we wonder if the six scientists will ever be funded again by any European agencies.

Mont Blanc is located on the border of Switzerland and France, and the summit of Mont Blanc is clearly visible from the United Nations complex in Geneva - the home of countless meetings of the IPCC and other international agencies addressing the climate change issue. How ironic - based on the title of the article, we doubt the research will be prominently featured in any upcoming IPCC meeting in Geneva.

The Vincent et al. team collected a variety of datasets that could help them understand how the high elevation glaciers of Mont Blanc were impacted by variations and trends in climate. Among other findings, they found that the mass balance of the glaciers is strongly controlled by precipitation, not temperature. The team used accurate survey maps from 1905 to compare to maps they generated with modern GPS measurements, and by subtracting the two surfaces, they could determine changes in the ice fields during the 20th century. Vincent et al. state "The most striking features of these figures are the small thickness changes observed over the 20th century. For both areas, thickness variations do not exceed ~15 m. The average changes are +2.6 m at Dome du Gouter and -0.3 m at Mont Blanc. Considering the uncertainty interval, i.e., ~5 m, it can be concluded that no significant thickness change is detectable over most of these areas".

Putting all their findings together regarding the surface mass balance (SMB) of these two glaciers, they state "All these results suggest that the SMB at Dome du Gouter and Mont Blanc did not experience any significant changes over the 20th century."

The first sentence of their conclusions section states "Geodetic measurements carried out in 1905 and 2005 on the highest ice fields of the Mont Blanc range indicate small thickness changes and show that these very high-elevation glaciated areas have not been significantly affected by climate change over the last 100 years."

Later in the conclusions section, they write "In any case, this study reveals that the very high-elevation ice fields in the Mont Blanc area have not been affected by the climate warming. The 20th century climate warming affected the atmospheric temperature in the Alps by +1øC. However this change did not significantly affect the ice deformation rate in the high-altitude ice fields since the ice temperature remains far below the melting point and therefore keeping the glacier frozen to its bed."

We get the message, but we strongly suspect folks at the United Nations in Geneva would have no time for this message from the top of nearby Mont Blanc!



An interview:

Most leading climate experts don't agree with Henrik Svensmark, the 49-year-old director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen. In fact, he has taken a lot of blows for proposing that solar activity and cosmic rays are instrumental in determining the warming (and cooling) of Earth. His studies show that cosmic rays trigger cloud formation, suggesting that a high level of solar activity-which suppresses the flow of cosmic rays striking the atmosphere-could result in fewer clouds and a warmer planet. This, Svensmark contends, could account for most of the warming during the last century. Does this mean that carbon dioxide is less important than we've been led to believe? Yes, he says, but how much less is impossible to know because climate models are so limited.

There is probably no greater scientific heresy today than questioning the warming role of CO2, especially in the wake of the report issued by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That report warned that nations must cut back on greenhouse gas emissions, and insisted that "unless drastic action is taken . . . millions of poor people will suffer from hunger, thirst, floods, and disease."

As astrophysicist ?Eugene Parker, the discoverer of solar wind, writes in the foreword to Svensmark's new book, The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change, "Global warming has become a political issue both in government and in the scientific community. The scientific lines have been drawn by 'eminent' scientists, and an important new idea is an unwelcome intruder. It upsets the established orthodoxy."

We talked with the unexpectedly modest and soft-spoken Henrik Svensmark about his work, the criticism it has received, and truth versus hype in climate science.



Many people worry about global warming today. They fear the polar ice caps will melt, raising sea levels and creating environmental chaos. Such concerns are not new. The historical record tells us of many warming episodes - and subsequent cooling periods - that have bedevilled humans for thousands of years.

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato, who lived in 427-347 BC, wrote about major climate changes known in his day. In the dialogue, "Timaeus," he argued global warming occurs at regular intervals, often leading to great floods. Said Plato, "When... the gods purge the Earth with a deluge of water, the survivors... are herdsmen and shepherds who dwell on the mountains. But those who... live in cities are carried by the rivers into the sea."

In the dialogue, "Critias," Plato wrote about weather-related geological changes. He referred to "formidable deluges" that washed away all the top soil, turning the land into a "skeleton of a body wasted by disease." What were now plains had once been covered with rich soil, Plato said, and barren mountains were once covered with trees. The yearly "water from Zeus" had been lost, he went on, creating deserts where the land was once productive.

Plato's student, Aristotle, who lived from 384 BC to 322 BC, also recorded evidence of global warming in his work, "Meteorologica." He noted that in the time of the Trojan War, the land of Argos was marshy and unarable, while that of Mycenae was temperate and fertile. "But now the opposite is the case," Aristotle wrote. "The land of Mycenae has become completely dry and barren, while the Argive land that was formerly barren, owing to the water has now become fruitful." He observed the same phenomenon elsewhere covering large regions and nations.

Theophrastus, a student of Aristotle who lived 374-287 BC, discussed climate change in his work, "De ventis," which means "The Wind." He observed that in Crete, "nowadays the winters are more severe and more snow falls." In earlier times, he said, the mountains there bore grain and fruit, and the island was more populous. But when the climate changed, the land became infertile. In his book, "De causis plantarum," Theophrastus noted the Greek city of Larissa once had plentiful olive trees but that falling temperatures killed them all.

In the first century AD, an ancient Roman named Columella wrote an agricultural treatise called, "De re rustica." In it, he discussed global warming that had turned areas once too cold for agriculture into thriving farm communities. Columella cites an authority named Saserna who recorded many such cases. According to Saserna, "regions which formerly, because of the unremitting severity of winter, could not safeguard any shoot of the vine or the olive planted in them, now that the earlier coldness has abated and weather is becoming more clement, produce olive harvests and the vintages of Bacchus [wine] in greatest abundance."

In the Middle Ages, people began recording the temperature and climate-related phenomena, such as the dates when plants began to blossom annually. They were aware of a warming trend that began around 900 and a cooling trend that began around 1300. We know that during the warm period, the Vikings established settlements in Greenland where perpetual ice had previously covered the land. Ancient Norse records tell us these settlements were abandoned after 1250 when falling temperatures made farming less viable and spreading ice in the sea made transportation more difficult.

The cooling trend led to heavy rains in 14th century Europe that were too much for the crops, leading to reduced agricultural output and numerous famines. In the 15th century, a warming trend returned, which lasted until the middle of the 16th century when temperatures again started to fall. By the 17th century, it was clearly apparent that a cooling trend was altering sea routes, changing the kinds of crops farmers could grow, fishing patterns and so on. Glaciers began to advance rapidly in many places and rivers that had long been ice-free year round started to freeze in the winter. This "little ice age" continued well into the 19th century.

Since then, we have been in a warming cycle that appears to have accelerated around 1950. The point is that we know a great deal about climate changes from the historical record and need not rely solely on scientific studies of core samples, tree rings and so on. These changes occurred long before industrialization and could not possibly have been man-made in any way. They don't prove man is not now affecting the climate through carbon dioxide emissions, but they do tell us temporary warming trends are common in human history. It may only be a matter of time before another cooling trend comes along.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Put your money where your `myth' is

Meet the Ivy League professor and expert on forecasting who is challenging Al Gore to a $20,000 bet that he is wrong on global warming

Al Gore's doom-mongering documentary An Inconvenient Truth - in which he turned his rather drab PowerPoint presentation on climate change into a cinematic warning to the world about man's toxic impact on the planet - has generated miles of newspaper column inches. He's won widespread praise from greens for converting `ordinary people' (ie, the previously uncaring popcorn-chomping masses) to the green cause. He's been given a telling-off by some climate scientists for twisting the data in order to send a moral message about mankind's destructiveness (1). Others have accused him of being a hypocrite: apparently Gore, who has two very big homes, used 221,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in 2006, 20 times the American national average (2). And now, in the latest post-Truth twist, Gore has been challenged to a $20,000 wager that he is wrong on global warming.

`The aim of the bet is really to promote the proper use of science, rather than the opinion-led science we have seen lately.' Scott Armstrong is professor of marketing at the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, and an international expert on forecasting methods. Last week he faxed and posted (to be on the safe side) his `Global Warming Challenge' to Gore. He challenged the former US vice-president to a 10-year bet in which both parties will put forward $10,000. Gore would put his money on his forecasts that temperature will rise dangerously in the coming decade, while Armstrong will put his money on what is referred to as the `naive model': that is, that temperatures will probably stay the same in the coming years. `Gore says there are scientific forecasts that the Earth will become warmer very rapidly. But I have not found a scientific forecast that supports that view. There are forecasts made by scientists, of course, but they are very different from a scientific forecast', says Armstrong.

Armstrong got the idea for the climate change wager from the late Julian Simon, an economist at the University of Maryland who was a friend of Armstrong's. In 1980, Simon bet the population scaremonger Paul Ehrlich that natural resources were not scarce and shrinking, as Ehrlich and other Malthusian environmentalists claimed. Ehrlich accepted: he chose five metals (copper, chrome, nickel, tin and tungsten) and bet Simon that in 10 years' time the price of these metals would have risen exponentially due to their continued depletion by human adventure. In fact, when 1990 arrived, the price of all of Ehrlich's metals had fallen. Simon won the bet and Ehrlich handed him a cheque for $576.07. Armstrong expects to win his bet with Gore, too (that's if Gore accepts; he hasn't responded yet). But even if he were to lose, `at least I will have started a debate about forecasting', he tells me.

Armstrong and his colleague Kesten Green, senior research fellow at Monash University in Australia and also an expert on forecasting, have been conducting research into the global-warming forecasts put out by Gore and organisations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). And they discovered that most climate-change forecasters use bad methodology. They are set to present their findings at an International Symposium on Forecasting in New York on Wednesday. `What we have is climate forecasters effectively translating their own opinions into maths', says Armstrong. `Their claims are not built on clear and thorough scientific forecasts but on their own outlooks.' In Global Warming: Forecasts by Scientists versus Scientific Forecasts - the paper they are presenting at the symposium, which spiked has seen - Armstrong and Green point out that the IPCC's Working Group One Report predicted `dramatic and harmful increases in average world temperatures over the next 92 years', and they ask: `Are these forecasts a good basis for developing public policy?' The answer provided in their paper is an emphatic `no' (3).

Armstrong and Green - whom I'm sure won't mind being referred to as forecasting geeks - argue that those who predict sweeping changes in the climate break many of the golden rules of forecasting, as laid out in the 2001 book The Principles of Forecasting. In their paper, they assessed `the extent to which long-term forecasts of global average temperatures have been derived using evidence-based forecasting methods'. They surveyed 51 scientists and others involved in making global-warming predictions, asking them to provide scientific articles that contained credible forecasts to underpin their view that temperature will rise rapidly. Most of those surveyed - 30 out of 51 - cited the IPCC Report as the best forecasting source. Yet according to Armstrong and Green, the forecasts in the IPCC Report are not the outcome of scientific forecasting procedures - rather the Report presents `the opinions of scientists transformed by mathematics and obscured by complex writing' (4). Indeed, in their `forecasting audit' of the IPPC Report, Armstrong and Green found that it violated 72 of the principles of forecasting.

Such as? `Well, some of the principles of forecasting can appear counterintuitive, so bear with me', says Armstrong. `One of the principles is that agreement amongst experts is actually not a very good measure of accuracy. This is especially true if experts are working closely together, and towards a certain goal, as they do in the IPCC. Such an atmosphere does not tend to generate reliable or accurate forecasts. Another principle of forecasting is that when there is uncertainty, your forecasts should be conservative, you should hedge your bets a little bit. The IPCC and others do exactly the opposite: despite their uncertainty, the fact that they don't know for certain what will happen, they are radical in their predictions of warming and destruction and so on.'

The IPCC Report violated these two principles of forecasting, claims Armstrong, and 70 more. As an example of why forecasting needs to be done properly, in their paper for the symposium he and Green point to various headlines that have appeared in the New York Times over the past 80 years. On 18 September 1924: `MacMillan Reports Signs of New Ice Age.' On 27 March 1933: `America in Longest Warm Spell Since 1776.' On 21 May 1974: `Scientists Ponder Why World's Climate is Changing: A Major Cooling Widely Considered to be Inevitable.' (5) `Those forecasts were made with a high degree of confidence, too', he says. `Where are they now? It is very important that forecasts are built on proper forecasting principles, and that uncertain forecasts are treated as such.'

Armstrong and Green may have a point about the IPPC Report consisting more of scientists' opinions rather than scientifically validated forecasts of temperature change. And it will be interesting to see if Gore accepts their bet. But I can't help wondering if one of the main problems with the debate about climate change today is precisely the focus on forecasting, whether it is the allegedly wild forecasting contained in the IPCC Report or the more principled forecasting proposed by Armstrong and Green.

To debate the future on the basis of scientific forecasts about temperature is to denigrate human activity and impact. Humans don't, or at least shouldn't, sit around waiting for the inevitable to occur; we are capable of shaping our world and of addressing and solving problems as they arise. The Forecast View of History - which takes climatic developments of the past and measures them against the present, in order to make predictions about the future - tends to be fatalistic, viewing humans as objects of history rather than as creators of change. Perhaps we should spend less time forecasting what will (allegedly) happen, like modern-day tealeaf-readers, and more time making things happen in the way we want and need them to. I would put my money on human ingenuity over scary weather forecasts any day of the week.



The world is blinding itself to the reality of its energy problems, ignoring the scale of growth in demand from developing countries and placing too much faith in renewable sources of power, according to two leaders of the global energy industry. The chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell today calls for a "reality check".

Writing in The Times, Jeroen van der Veer takes issue with the widespread public opinion that green energy can replace fossil fuels. Shell's chief gives warning that supplies of conventional oil and gas will struggle to keep pace with rising energy demand and he calls for greater investment in energy efficiency. Instead of a great conversion to wind power and solar power, Mr van der Veer predicts, the world will be forced into greater use of coal and much higher CO2 emissions, "possibly to levels we deem unacceptable". Alternative energy sources, such as renewables, will not fill the gap, says Mr van der Veer, who forecasts that even with major technological breakthroughs, renewables could account for only 30 per cent of energy supply by the middle of the century. "Contrary to public perceptions, renewable energy is not the silver bullet that will soon solve all our problems," he writes.

The warning from Royal Dutch Shell coincides with a critique of public energy policy by Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil. Speaking at the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London, Mr Tillerson pointed to a widespread failure by policymakers to understand the extent to which the aspirations of people in developing countries are fuelling growth in demand for energy. Mr Tillerson said that world energy demand would rise by 45 per cent by 2030, and fossil fuels - oil, natural gas and coal - were the only energy sources of sufficient size, adaptability and affordability to meet the world's needs.

Mr van der Veer casts doubt today on the oil and gas industry's ability to keep up with accelerating demand. "Just when energy demand is surging, many of the world's conventional oilfields are going into decline," he writes. Although there is no shortage of oil and gas in the ground, Mr van der Veer says, the industry currently lacks the technology to recover even half of that resource.

Mr Tillerson, speaking at Chatham House, expressed doubts about the oil industry's ability to raise its game significantly without access to the oil reserves of the Opec countries of the Middle East. "The supply outlook for nonOpec countries will be modestly up or flat," Mr Tillerson predicted. He was sceptical about the drive by governments to increase use of biofuels and said that a fifth of America's corn crop was being used to produce four billion gallons of ethanol, compared with targets of 12 billion gallons by 2012.

The ExxonMobil chief criticised the EU's carbon trading system, calling it an administratively complex system that lacked transparency and failed to deliver a uniform and predictable cost of carbon. "It's all about moving the money around," he said. Mr Tillerson said he would prefer a carbon tax that would enable the cost of carbon to spread through the economy in a uniform way, letting governments use the revenues to mitigate its effect by reducing employment or income taxes.

Source was global warming that brought down the Babylonians?...

Post lifted from The horny-headed economist. See the original for links

I just made my morning coffee, only to discover (thru Drudge) the UN now contends it is my engergy use and my carbon footprint that has caused all the slaughter in Darfur. The same source organization, however, has often said that nothing about this is new:

Desertification, the phenomenon of encroaching desert lands, is hardly a novel occurrence in the history of mankind. It has played a salient role in hastening the decline of civilizations since ancient times. For example, both the Sumerian and Babylonian empires suffered telling blows when their agricultural productivity was destroyed, a gradual process principally attributable to improper drainage practices that allowed excessive salt concentrations to pollute their irrigated lands.

Archaeologists also have suggested that prolonged desiccation undercut the agricultural basis of the Harappan culture, a people who lived in the third millennium B.C. in what is now Pakistan. Finally, there seems little question that the Mediterranean littoral of Africa was far more fertile and cultivatable in the Carthaginian era (600-200 B.C.) than it is today.

Nonetheless, while man's experience with desertification may not be new, realization of it and its far-reaching ecological impact is. Worldwide recognition of desertification as a transnational environmental problem did not come about until 1968, when a severe drought struck the Sahel, a region in western Africa lying along the southern margin of the Sahara.

For six years, the countries of the Sahel - Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad - were devastated by uninterrupted drought and resultant famine. The natural and human consequences were tragically catastrophic: Lake Chad shrunk to only one-third of its normal size; the Niger and Senegal river systems failed to flood, thus leaving barren much of the most productive croplands in the region; shallow wells dried up, seriously restricting the grazing range of pastoralists; vegetation was denuded as starving animals stripped the land.

Reasonable rainfall did return to the Sahel in 1974, but not before drought, famine, and disease had killed an estimated 250,000 people and millions of domestic animals. As the tragedy and human suffering of people in the Sahel unfolded between 1968-1974, international attention became focused on their plight and the primary reason behind it: the inability of man to cope with spreading deserts in harsh climes.

More Proof!

(Post lifted from GM's Corner. See the original for links)

Of what? Don't ask.

South Africa: Johannesburg recorded its first confirmed snowfall for almost 26 years overnight as temperatures dropped below freezing in South Africa's largest city....

Australia: Local citrus producers have their fingers crossed waiting to see if their fruit suffered frost damage after the area experienced its coldest June day ever last week.


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, June 28, 2007


By W J R Alexander et al.


This study is based on the numerical analysis of the properties of routinely observed hydrometeorological data which in South Africa alone is collected at a rate of more than half a million station days per year, with some records approaching 100 continuous years in length. The analysis of this data demonstrates an unequivocal synchronous linkage between these processes in South Africa and elsewhere, and solar activity. This confirms observations and reports by others in many countries during the past 150 years. It is also shown with a high degree of assurance that there is a synchronous linkage between the statistically significant, 21-year periodicity in these processes and the acceleration and deceleration of the sun as it moves through galactic space. Despite a diligent search, no evidence could be found of trends in the data that could be attributed to human activities. It is essential that this information be accommodated in water resource development and operation procedures in the years ahead.

More here


If you want to convince the world that an overwhelming majority of scientists believe in global warming, then start by ignoring scientists who are not true believers. First, establish lists of scientists with your approved position, then smear dissidents. Soon, up-and-coming scientists will be afraid to cross the rigid green line.

So the Society of Environmental Journalists put together a guide on climate change that lists a number of publications on global warming, scientists and seven environmental groups, each with positive descriptions. Under the "Deniers, Dissenters and 'Skeptics' " category are four listings -- all negative -- they suggest that these folk are venal, partisan and bad scientists or all of the above.

According to the SEJ guide, University of Virginia professor Patrick Michaels "still claims to be the Virginia 'state climatologist' although the state has disavowed him." The publisher of George Mason University professor Fred Singer's books is connected with the "Moonie" leader, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank has received oil money. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., has a flack "whose resume brags of starting the 'Swift Boat' story that injured candidate John Kerry."

The short list, with a senator even, suggests they had run out of dissident scientists -- or dissident scientists they could squeeze into the venal-lightweight box. James O'Brien -- director of the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies and former Florida state climatologist, and not listed in the SEJ guide -- said of the guide's terms for nonbelievers: "I don't like the term 'deniers.' They're trying to say we're like Holocaust deniers."

He didn't make that up. Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman recently wrote that "global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future."

It ought to tell you something that the guide focuses not on the issues, but personal issues and credentials of nonbelievers. Oooooo, a senator has a flack who spins. How nefarious. I'm sure global warming guru and former Vice President Al Gore only hired monks. Most insulting is the insinuation that skeptics are after money, while believers are pure.

Nonsense, David Legates, Delaware state climatologist, told me. Dire global warming predictions draw the big bucks in research these days: "There's a lot more money to be made by saying the world is coming to an end than to say that this is a bunch of hooey."

"Hooey" is the term also used by Reid Bryson, the father of scientific climatology, with the (Madison, Wis.) Capital Times, as he explained, "If you want to be an eminent scientist, you have to have a lot of grad students and a lot of grants. You can't get grants unless you say, 'Oh global warming, yes, yes, carbon dioxide.' " Legates tells students who are not global-warming true believers, "If you don't have tenure at a major research university, keep your mouth shut."

Dissenting scientists do not deny that the planet is getting warmer. As O'Brien noted, "I believe that there is global warming and it's probably due to natural as well as human causes." But also: "It's not occurring as fast as the alarmists say," and its consequences won't be as dire as they say.

SEJ should see the value in skeptics who challenge the global-warming orthodoxy -- which can make global warming forecasts more concise -- instead of suggesting that no good scientists have alternative views. O'Brien sees a schism in the science community, with real-world scientists -- think former director of the National Hurricane Center, Neil Frank -- on one skeptic side, and environmentalists and ecologists, who "if they see more turtles this year than last year, they write a paper" on the worst-case-scenario other.

Legates noted that state climatologists deal in patterns and cycles and "tend to be more skeptical of the extreme climate change scenarios." Politicians, thus, have begun to stifle state climatologists who are not global-warming boosters -- oddly with little complaint that evil politicians are trying to censor noble scientists.

Oregon state climatologist George Taylor is a skeptic. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat, asked Oregon State University to stop Taylor from using a title he had used without complaint since 1991. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, also a Democrat, pulled a similar move on Michaels, who is now the American Association of State Climatologists-designated state climatologist in Virginia.

As if it's a bad thing to be recognized by fellow climatologists, instead of a politician -- at least to the Society of Environmental Journalists.



Rich countries are being hypocritical in criticizing China's greenhouse gas emissions while using the country's cheap labor in industries that pollute, Asian business and government leaders said Monday. "This is green imperialism," Nor Mohamed Yakcop, Malaysia's deputy finance minister, told a panel discussion on global warming at the World Economic Forum on East Asia, a two-day conference that ended Monday.

The next meeting will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's main city, in June 2008. China has come under increasing pressure from the United States in particular to take more forceful measures to curb carbon dioxide emissions. China relies on coal, among the dirtiest fuels, to provide two-thirds of its energy. Asian leaders also criticized the U.S. and Australia for not signing the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which caps the amount of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases that can be emitted in industrialized countries. China signed the treaty but is exempt from emission reductions because it is considered a developing country, a situation often cited by the U.S. and Australia for rejecting the treaty.

Nor Mohamed said there was no point singling out one country when climate change is a global problem. "Companies that are polluting in China are owned by American, European, Japanese and others. They are benefiting from the cheap labor, from the resources and at the same time accusing China of pollution," the Malaysian official said. "Let's take the hypocrisy out of the equation," he said.

Addressing another session, Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive of Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co., said the private sector must play a leading role in addressing climate change while governments take their time formulating laws to limit carbon dioxide emissions. The industry has to make technically sophisticated cars that are less polluting, he said. "You cannot forget the fact that when someone's going to go and buy a car, you want him or her to be relieved of the guilt of emitting CO2, and that's something that we need to address."

China overtook the United States in carbon dioxide emissions by about 7.5 percent in 2006, according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency's report. While China was 2 percent below the U.S. in carbon dioxide emissions in 2005, voracious coal consumption and increased cement production caused the numbers to rise rapidly, the agency said.

China also uses other numbers to contend that it is not the worst offender: With 1.3 billion people, China spews about 10,500 pounds of carbon dioxide per person, while the United States releases nearly 42,500 pounds per person, about four times as much. Chen Feng, the chairman of China Hainan Airlines, said now was not the time to assign blame but to create an international solution, saying developed nations were the original polluters. "So the way I see it is, you were bandits before you became right-minded people," he said.

President Bush recently proposed a meeting of the 15 biggest emitters of greenhouse gases to set an emissions goal. Japan's environment minister called the proposal "significant" but said it was crucial that the top emitters participate. "Without the participation of United States, China and India - the main emitters - we will not stop global warming," Masatoshi Wakabayashi said.

Ralph R. Peterson, the chairman of a U.S. management, design and construction firm, said Asia's economic growth path appears unsustainable because of high and inefficient energy consumption that contributed to pollution. He said Southeast Asian nations produce 11 percent of global output and use 21 percent of world oil. China's output is 5.5 percent of world gross domestic product while it uses 15 percent of global energy. India's energy efficiency is one-tenth the global average, while China's water use per unit of GDP is four times the world's average. "If it takes much more energy to produce one unit of GDP in Asia, then we have a problem," he said.


Renewable energy?

Republicans and Democrats are currently at loggerheads in the Senate over a bill to require the nation's utilities to draw a fixed percentage of their electricity from so-called "renewable energy." The Democratic bill, sponsored by Democratic Energy Committee Chairman Dave Bingaman, of New Mexico, would have utilities get 15 percent of their electricity from wind, solar and other "renewable" sources by 2020. This version seems to be one vote short of beating a promised Republican filibuster.

Republican Senator Pete Domenici, also of New Mexico, has offered an alternate bill that would keep the same requirement but allow nuclear power and -- bizarrely -- "clean coal" to be included under the rubric of "renewable." That bill was soundly defeated, 56-39, with seven Republicans joining the Democrats to defeat the measure. A special committee is now trying to work out a compromise.

There is only one small point that makes this whole discussion rather irrelevant. According to the laws of physics, there is no such thing as "renewable energy."

The Second Law of Thermodynamics, developed during the 19th century, is said to be the only principle of Newtonian physics that survived the Einsteinian revolution. Therefore it is worthy of respect. The Second Law is expressed in a variety of ways -- "entropy," "disorder," the "dispersal of energy," the irreversibility of time. For the sake of this discussion, one of its principal corollaries is more than sufficient -- "Energy cannot be recycled."

The First Law of Thermodynamics (actually discovered after the Second Law) says that energy is always conserved and never destroyed. This seems to suggest perpetual motion. If we could only keep recycling the same energy, we would never run out.

The Second Law -- first posited by Sadi Carnot in 1824 -- contravenes this possibility. It holds that as energy is used to do work, some of it inevitably becomes irrecoverable. Energy is never destroyed. It transmutes from one form to another -- heat to mechanical motion to electricity to mechanical motion and perhaps back again to heat. In the process, however, some of the energy inevitably becomes inaccessible as "waste" or low-grade heat. Once dispersed, this energy achieves a state of high disorder or entropy. It cannot be reused, renewed, or recycled because it would take more energy to reassemble it than could be recovered.

The gasoline in your automobile engine, for example, transforms into mechanical motion. As it is consumed, however, some energy is inevitably thrown off as engine heat or friction against the road. Eventually all the momentum of your car will eventually be transformed into low-grade heat. The energy is still out there but it cannot be recycled or renewed. Therefore you will need a refill.

Calling some sources of energy "renewable" suggests that they can be used over and over, as opposed to other forms of energy, which will eventually run out. This is very misleading. What we really mean is that some forms of energy are inexhaustible, at least for our purposes. The energy of the sun is inexhaustible with respect to life on the planet. But it is not infinite. The solar energy falling on New York would not be enough to run the city, even if 100 percent of it were utilized. Therefore it must be collected elsewhere and transported, which itself consumes energy. The sun may come up day after day, but it does not provide unlimited amounts of energy.

Most "solar energy" actually comes to us in indirect forms, where the gathering and transporting is the limiting factor. Hydroelectricity derives from the sun's power to evaporate water and return it as rain. Yet there are only so many good dam sites. Hydro power supplied 20 percent of our electricity in 1980 but only 10 percent today, since most of its potential has been used. Wind comes from the sun's uneven heating of the atmosphere, but wind power is highly dispersed and must also be gathered and transformed. The wind is unpredictable and cannot be relied upon for large amounts of dispatchable electricity. Once wind reaches 20 percent of a grid, it begins to create voltage balance problems.

Direct solar electricity is free for the taking but does not arrive in very large amounts. The solar energy falling on a square-meter card table is enough to power one 100-watt light bulb. At best it could probably provide our indoor lighting. It is not enough, however, to run industrial machinery or highly sophisticated electronic networks. The great advantage of solar electricity is that it is strongest when it is needed most -- on hot summer afternoons when electrical demand peaks. Solar electricity could definitely relieve natural gas peaking plants in powering our summer air conditioning.

Fossil fuels are stored solar energy and renewable over the geological ages. We just don't have time to wait around for them to renew. Oil and gas supplies are somewhat limited and now lie mostly in countries that are politically unpredictable. We have so much coal in the U.S. we will probably never run out, but it is the prime source of air pollution and greenhouses gases. "Clean coal" is extremely expensive and will create huge problems in trying to bury whole oil fields worth of liquid carbon dioxide deep in the earth.

"Biofuels" are a gray area. They are "solar" and "renewable" but only within very strict limits. Sunshine is just one contributing factor. Much more important are land, water, fertilizer and other agricultural resources. Growing energy will compete with growing food. Nor are biofuels "carbon neutral." Burning this year's crop instead of leaving it in any of the numerous carbon sinks -- plant material, soil, the food chain -- increases the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Calling biofuels "carbon neutral" is just poor accounting. They will both strain agricultural resources and contribute to global warming.

There is one other source of energy that is close to being as inexhaustible as the sun. That is nuclear power, which might be called "terrestrial energy." Our planet generates huge amounts of heat. The temperature in its interior -- 7,000 degrees C. -- is hotter than the surface of the sun. What is the source of this heat? Some of it comes from the pressures of gravitational collapse, but almost half is generated by the disintegration of two tiny elements, uranium and thorium.

Terrestrial energy is tapped at geothermal sites, where heat from the earth's molten core comes in contact with groundwater. We perform this same heat exchange in what is called a "nuclear reactor." A nuclear plant is simply the duplication of a geothermal site under more controlled conditions.

Terrestrial energy is not infinitely renewable, but then neither is any other source of energy. It does not rely on solar energy stored in carbon bonds and therefore does not put carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. It is about as "green" as energy can get. It can probably stand by itself but is definitely worth including in any portfolio of "clean, renewable energy."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Swedish Scientist Accuses UN's IPCC of Falsifying Data and Destroying Evidence

If you listen to the global warming alarmists working for the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or folks like soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore, sea levels across the globe are rising at a rate that will eventually doom us all.

According to Swedish paleogeophysicist Nils-Axel Moerner, who's been studying and writing about sea levels for four decades, the scientists working for the IPCC have falsified data and destroyed evidence to incorrectly prove their point.

Moerner was recently interviewed by Gregory Murphy of Executive Intelligence Review, and began by making it clear that the sea level claims made by the IPCC are a lot of nonsense (emphasis added throughout, h/t Eduardo Ferreyra):

[W]e can see that the sea level was indeed rising, from, let us say, 1850 to 1930-40. And that rise had a rate in the order of 1 millimeter per year. Not more. 1.1 is the exact figure. And we can check that, because Holland is a subsiding area; it has been subsiding for many millions of years; and Sweden, after the last Ice Age, was uplifted. So if you balance those, there is only one solution, and it will be this figure.

That ended in 1940, and there had been no rise until 1970; and then we can come into the debate here on what is going on, and we have to go to satellite altimetry, and I will return to that. But before doing that: There's another way of checking it, because if the radius of the Earth increases, because sea level is rising, then immediately the Earth's rate of rotation would slow down. That is a physical law, right? You have it in figure-skating: when they rotate very fast, the arms are close to the body; and then when they increase the radius, by putting out their arms, they stop by themselves. So you can look at the rotation and the same comes up: Yes, it might be 1.1 mm per year, but absolutely not more.

1.1 mm per year? That means that if this were to continue for 1000 years, sea levels would be 1.1 meters higher. Doesn't sound very catastrophic, does it?

Moerner then addressed what in his view was a ridiculous error by the IPCC:

Another way of looking at what is going on is the tide gauge. Tide gauging is very complicated, because it gives different answers for wherever you are in the world. But we have to rely on geology when we interpret it. So, for example, those people in the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], choose Hong Kong, which has six tide gauges, and they choose the record of one, which gives 2.3 mm per year rise of sea level. Every geologist knows that that is a subsiding area. It's the compaction of sediment; it is the only record which you shouldn't use. And if that figure is correct, then Holland would not be subsiding, it would be uplifting. And that is just ridiculous. Not even ignorance could be responsible for a thing like that.

But that was just the beginning of Moerner's problems with the IPCC:

Now, back to satellite altimetry, which shows the water, not just the coasts, but in the whole of the ocean. And you measure it by satellite. From 1992 to 2002, [the graph of the sea level] was a straight line, variability along a straight line, but absolutely no trend whatsoever. We could see those spikes: a very rapid rise, but then in half a year, they fall back again. But absolutely no trend, and to have a sea-level rise, you need a trend.

Then, in 2003, the same data set, which in their [IPCC's] publications, in their website, was a straight line-suddenly it changed, and showed a very strong line of uplift, 2.3 mm per year, the same as from the tide gauge. And that didn't look so nice. It looked as though they had recorded something; but they hadn't recorded anything. It was the original one which they had suddenly twisted up, because they entered a "correction factor," which they took from the tide gauge. So it was not a measured thing, but a figure introduced from outside. I accused them of this at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow -I said you have introduced factors from outside; it's not a measurement. It looks like it is measured from the satellite, but you don't say what really happened. And they answered, that we had to do it, because otherwise we would not have gotten any trend!

That is terrible! As a matter of fact, it is a falsification of the data set. Why? Because they know the answer. And there you come to the point: They "know" the answer; the rest of us, we are searching for the answer. Because we are field geologists; they are computer scientists. So all this talk that sea level is rising, this stems from the computer modeling, not from observations. The observations don't find it!

Pretty extraordinary, wouldn't you agree? A "correction factor." Honestly, the way these folks manipulate data is nothing less than astounding. Yet, Moerner wasn't finished, as he later detailed an incident when IPCC scientists actually destroyed evidence which refuted their rising sea level claims:

This tree, which I showed in the documentary, is interesting. This is a prison island, and when people left the island, from the '50s, it was a marker for them, when they saw this tree alone out there, they said, "Ah, freedom!" They were allowed back. And there have been writings and talks about this. I knew that this tree was in that terrible position already in the 1950s. So the slightest rise, and it would have been gone. I used it in my writings and for television. You know what happened? There came an Australian sea-level team, which was for the IPCC and against me. Then the students pulled down the tree by hand! They destroyed the evidence. What kind of people are those? And we came to launch this film, "Doomsday Called Off," right after, and the tree was still green. And I heard from the locals that they had seen the people who had pulled it down. So I put it up again, by hand, and made my TV program. I haven't told anybody else, but this was the story.

They call themselves scientists, and they're destroying evidence! A scientist should always be open for reinterpretation, but you can never destroy evidence. And they were being watched, thinking they were clever.


The very "Green" founder of The Whole Earth Catalog believes the environmental movement will eventually reverse its position on four core issues

The success of the environmental movement is driven by two powerful forces -- romanticism and science -- that are often in opposition. The romantics identify with natural systems; the scientists study natural systems. The romantics are moralistic, rebellious against the perceived dominant power, and combative against any who appear to stray from the true path. They hate to admit mistakes or change direction. The scientists are ethicalistic, rebellious against any perceived dominant paradigm, and combative against each other. For them, admitting mistakes is what science is.

There are a great many more environmental romantics than there are scientists. That's fortunate, since their inspiration means that most people in developed socie-ties see themselves as environmentalists. But it also means that scientific perceptions are always a minority view, easily ignored, suppressed, or demonized if they don't fit the consensus story line.

Take population growth. For 50 years, the demographers in charge of human population projections for the United Nations released hard numbers that substantiated environmentalists' greatest fears about indefinite exponential population increase. For a while, those projections proved fairly accurate. However, in the 1990s, the U.N. started taking a closer look at fertility patterns, and in 2002, it adopted a new theory that shocked many demographers: human population is leveling off rapidly, even precipitously, in developed countries, with the rest of the world soon to follow. Most environmentalists still haven't got the word. Worldwide, birthrates are in free fall. Around one-third of countries now have birthrates below replacement level (2.1 children per woman) and sinking. Nowhere does the downward trend show signs of leveling off. Nations already in a birth dearth crisis include Japan, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Russia -- whose population is now in absolute decline and is expected to be 30 percent lower by 2050. On every part of every continent and in every culture (even Mormon), birthrates are headed down. They reach replacement level and keep on dropping. It turns out that population decrease accelerates downward just as fiercely as population increase accelerated upward, for the same reason. Any variation from the 2.1 rate compounds over time.

That's great news for environmentalists (or it will be when finally noticed), but they need to recognize what caused the turnaround. The world population growth rate actually peaked at 2 percent way back in 1968, the very year my old teacher Paul Ehrlich published The Population Bomb. The world's women didn't suddenly have fewer kids because of his book, though. They had fewer kids because they moved to town.

Cities are population sinks-always have been. Although more children are an asset in the countryside, they're a liability in the city. A global tipping point in urbanization is what stopped the population explosion. As of this year, 50 percent of the world's population lives in cities, with 61 percent expected by 2030. In 1800 it was 3 percent; in 1900 it was 14 percent.

The environmentalist aesthetic is to love villages and despise cities. My mind got changed on the subject a few years ago by an Indian acquaintance who told me that in Indian villages the women obeyed their husbands and family elders, pounded grain, and sang. But, the acquaintance explained, when Indian women immigrated to cities, they got jobs, started businesses, and demanded their children be educated. They became more independent, as they became less fundamentalist in their religious beliefs. Urbanization is the most massive and sudden shift of humanity in its history. Environmentalists will be rewarded if they welcome it and get out in front of it. In every single region in the world, including the U.S., small towns and rural areas are emptying out. The trees and wildlife are returning. Now is the time to put in place permanent protection for those rural environments. Meanwhile, the global population of illegal urban squatters -- which Robert Neuwirth's book Shadow Cities already estimates at a billion -- is growing fast. Environmentalists could help ensure that the new dominant human habitat is humane and has a reduced footprint of overall environmental impact.

Along with rethinking cities, environmentalists will need to rethink biotechnology. One area of biotech with huge promise and some drawbacks is genetic engineering, so far violently rejected by the environmental movement. That rejection is, I think, a mistake. Why was water fluoridization rejected by the political right and "frankenfood" by the political left? The answer, I suspect, is that fluoridization came from government and genetically modified (GM) crops from corporations. If the origins had been reversed -- as they could have been -- the positions would be reversed, too.

Ignore the origin and look at the technology on its own terms. (This will be easier with the emergence of "open source" genetic engineering, which could work around restrictive corporate patents.) What is its net effect on the environment? GM crops are more efficient, giving higher yield on less land with less use of pesticides and herbicides. That's why the Amish, the most technology-suspicious group in America (and the best farmers), have enthusiastically adopted GM crops.

There has yet to be a public debate among environmentalists about genetic engineering. Most of the scare stories that go around (Monarch caterpillars harmed by GM pollen!) have as much substance as urban legends about toxic rat urine on Coke can lids. Solid research is seldom reported widely, partly because no news is not news. A number of leading biologists in the U.S. are also leading environmentalists. I've asked them how worried they are about genetically engineered organisms. Their answer is "Not much," because they know from their own work how robust wild ecologies are in defending against new genes, no matter how exotic. They don't say so in public because they feel that entering the GM debate would strain relations with allies and would distract from their main focus, which is to research and defend biodiversity.

The best way for doubters to control a questionable new technology is to embrace it, lest it remain wholly in the hands of enthusiasts who think there is nothing questionable about it. I would love to see what a cadre of hard-over environmental scientists could do with genetic engineering. Besides assuring the kind of transparency needed for intelligent regulation, they could direct a powerful new tool at some of the most vexed problems in the field.

For instance, invasive species. Most of the current mass extinctions of native species is caused by habitat loss, a problem whose cure is well known-identify the crucial habitats and preserve, protect, and restore them. The second greatest cause of extinctions is coming from invasive species, where no solution is in sight. Kudzu takes over the American South, brown tree snakes take over Guam (up to 5,000 a square kilometer), zebra mussels and mitten crabs take over the U.S. waterways, fire ants and fiendishly collaborative Argentine ants take over the ground, and not a thing can be done. Volunteers like me get off on yanking up invasive French broom and Cape ivy, but it's just sand castles against a rising tide. I can't wait for some engineered organism, probably microbial, that will target bad actors like zebra mussels and eat them, or interrupt their reproductive pathway, and then die out.

Now we come to the most profound environmental problem of all, the one that trumps everything: global climate change. Its effect on natural systems and on civilization will be a universal permanent disaster. It may be slow and relentless -- higher temperature, rising oceans, more extreme weather getting progressively worse over a century. Or it may be "abrupt climate change": an increase of fresh water in the north Atlantic shuts down the Gulf Stream within a decade, and Europe freezes while the rest of the world gets drier and windier. (I was involved in the 2003 Pentagon study on this matter, which spelled out how a climate change like the one 8,200 years ago could occur suddenly.) Can climate change be slowed and catastrophe avoided? They can to the degree that humanity influences climate dynamics. The primary cause of global climate change is our burning of fossil fuels for energy.

So everything must be done to increase energy efficiency and decarbonize energy production. Kyoto accords, radical conservation in energy transmission and use, wind energy, solar energy, passive solar, hydroelectric energy, biomass, the whole gamut. But add them all up and it's still only a fraction of enough. Massive carbon "sequestration" (extraction) from the atmosphere, perhaps via biotech, is a widely held hope, but it's just a hope. The only technology ready to fill the gap and stop the carbon dioxide loading of the atmosphere is nuclear power.

Nuclear certainly has problems -- accidents, waste storage, high construction costs, and the possible use of its fuel in weapons. It also has advantages besides the overwhelming one of being atmospherically clean. The industry is mature, with a half-century of experience and ever improved engineering behind it. Problematic early reactors like the ones at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl can be supplanted by new, smaller-scale, meltdown-proof reactors like the ones that use the pebble-bed design. Nuclear power plants are very high yield, with low-cost fuel. Finally, they offer the best avenue to a "hydrogen economy," combining high energy and high heat in one place for optimal hydrogen generation.

The storage of radioactive waste is a surmountable problem (see "A New Vision for Nuclear Waste," December 2004). Many reactors now have fields of dry-storage casks nearby. Those casks are transportable. It would be prudent to move them into well-guarded centralized locations. Many nations address the waste storage problem by reprocessing their spent fuel, but that has the side effect of producing material that can be used in weapons. One solution would be a global supplier of reactor fuel, which takes back spent fuel from customers around the world for reprocessing. That's the kind of idea that can go from "Impractical!" to "Necessary!" in a season, depending on world events.

The environmental movement has a quasi-religious aversion to nuclear energy. The few prominent environmentalists who have spoken out in its favor -- Gaia theorist James Lovelock, Greenpeace cofounder Patrick Moore, Friend of the Earth Hugh Montefiore -- have been privately anathematized by other environmentalists. Public excoriation, however, would invite public debate, which so far has not been welcome.

Nuclear could go either way. It would take only one more Chernobyl-type event in Russia's older reactors (all too possible, given the poor state of oversight there) to make the nuclear taboo permanent, to the great detriment of the world's atmospheric health. Everything depends on getting new and better nuclear technology designed and built.

Years ago, environmentalists hated cars and wanted to ban them. Then physicist Amory Lovins came along, saw that the automobile was the perfect leverage point for large-scale energy conservation, and set about designing and promoting drastically more efficient cars. Gas-electric hybrid vehicles are now on the road, performing public good. The United States, Lovins says, can be the Saudi Arabia of nega-watts: Americans are so wasteful of energy that their conservation efforts can have an enormous effect. Single-handedly, Lovins converted the environmental movement from loathing of the auto industry to fruitful engagement with it. Someone could do the same with nuclear power plants. Lovins refuses to. The field is open, and the need is great.

Within the environmental movement, scientists are the radical minority leading the way. They are already transforming the perspective on urbanization and population growth. But their radicalism and leadership will have to increase if humanity is to harness green biotech and step up to its responsibilities for the global climate. The romantics are right, after all: we are indi-visible from the earth's natural systems


A relic of the days when the earth REALLY had global warming -- without a power station or motor vehicle in sight

The fossilised remains of a giant tropical penguin have been uncovered by paleontologists. The extinct creature was at least 1.5m taller than even the emperor penguin, and had the longest beak ever known among the aquatic birds. It would have swum in tropical waters 36 million years ago during one of the warmest periods on Earth since the death of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Researchers were astonished by the size of the penguin, especially the beak, which, at 18cm, is more than twice as long as the rest of its skull. Remains of the Icadyptes salasi were unearthed on the southern coast of Peru along with another previously unknown, ancient tropical penguin, Perudyptes devriesi, which was alive 42 million years ago.

Until the fossils were found, penguins had been thought to have first swum in low-latitude equatorial waters 10 million years ago. But the new discoveries have put back the date by about 30 million years. The two fossilised penguins, the most complete and among the earliest discovered, are casting new light on the how the features of modern penguins evolved, and when and where they were distributed in the oceans.

Their appearance in equatorial waters took place long before the world started to cool, from about 34 million years ago, to the point where ice-caps formed at the poles. Julia Clarke, of North Carolina State University in the US, was one of the team of scientists from Peru, Argentina and the US who studied the fossils, which were discovered in 2005. She said: "We tend to think of penguins as being cold-adapted species - even the small penguins in equatorial regions today. "But the new fossils date back to one of the warmest periods in the last 65 million years of Earth's history. "The evidence indicates that penguins reached low-latitude regions more than 30 million years prior to our previous estimates." ...

Despite the two extinct species showing a willingness to leave the cooler waters of the high, southern latitudes, Dr Clarke cautioned against assuming that modern penguins will be able to cope with the warmer temperatures predicted through climate change today. "These Peruvian species are early branches of the penguin family tree - comparatively distant cousins of living penguins," she said. "In addition, current global warming is occurring on a significantly shorter timescale. The data from these new fossil species cannot be used to argue that warming wouldn't negatively impact on living penguins." [Religion speaking: There already ARE penguins in warmer waters right now. Below is a picture of a Galapagos penguin. The Galapagos Island are right on the equator. You can't get more tropical than that]



Anyone who thinks that climate change is purely a partisan issue isn't paying attention. Increasingly, the national debate on global warming is breaking down between carbon states - those that produce coal, oil and automobiles - and those that see a future beyond fossil fuels. Republicans and Democrats are all over the map.

This carbon-state split flared up in Washington last week when Rep. Rick Boucher, a Democrat from the coal state of Virginia, unveiled draft energy legislation that would prevent California and other states from enacting their own greenhouse gas laws. The legislation would also restrict the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gas emissions - a reaction to a Supreme Court ruling in April that said the EPA must treat these gases as a pollutant, regulate them or explain why it won't.

U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, is also mulling energy legislation that could block California from implementing its "clean-car" law - enacted in 2002 and opposed by auto manufacturers in his state. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a strong statement Tuesday aimed at Boucher and Dingell. "Any proposal that affects California's landmark efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or eliminate the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions will not have my support," Pelosi said.

The speaker's statement effectively kills any chance that Boucher's bill will reach the House floor. But the issue isn't going away. Although polls show that U.S. residents are increasingly concerned about global warming, the nation remains divided over how to control industrial emissions. The divisions do not align themselves with the red-state, blue-state checkerboard. They are aligned based on a presumption of politicians that their home states and districts could win or lose with mandatory caps on greenhouse gases, or with an increasingly warming climate.

You can see this trend playing out in the presidential race. Some Republicans running for president - John McCain comes to mind - are stronger on climate policies than many Democrats in Congress, particularly those who represent carbon states such as Michigan, West Virginia, Alaska and Texas. On the Democratic side, Sen. Christopher Dodd has a stronger climate platform than Sen. Hillary Clinton, who seems as hesitant to affiliate herself with Al Gore as Al Gore did in affiliating himself with Bill Clinton back in 2000.

While Democrats hope to position themselves as the counterpoint to President Bush and his dithering policies on global warming, they have yet to unify their ranks behind a coherent strategy for responding to this threat. To do this, leaders such as Pelosi must not only blunt the clumsy legislative efforts of fossil fuel apologists, such as Boucher and Dingell, they need to rebuke the false choice that climate laws are sure to doom places such as Detroit and the Appalachian coalfields.



Record chill blitzes Tasmania. If record hot weather anywhere proves global warming (as the newspapers and Greenies so often tell us), then the story below must surely prove global cooling. Or am I missing something?

THE spate of chilly weather is set to ice southern Tasmania's coldest June on record. Grove, just south of Hobart, has had 21 mornings in a row when the mercury plunged to 2C or below, the Bureau of Meteorology said yesterday. And the average minimum for Hobart this month has been just 3.1C -- a dramatic low compared to the usual 5.2C.

A balmy May and 20 years of mild winters made the chill more of a shock, said Ian Barnes-Keoghan, from the bureau's climate section. "It's been very dramatic," he said. "Overnight temperatures have been creeping up in the past couple of decades, so cold nights have become less common and this is a bit of a flashback."

Southern Tasmania's figures were a standout for June. "And May was so warm, the temperature didn't drop below 5C," Mr Barnes-Keoghan said. "A couple of places are on track for the coldest June on record, although the temperatures might pick up during the rest of this week."

The frost has been good for fruit-growers. Huon Valley grower and Fruit Growers Tasmania spokesman Thomas Frankcomb said apples and cherries needed the chill. "It helps the fruit buds mature so when they pop in the spring they pop evenly and with good, strong flowers," Mr Frankcomb said.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Malpractice in science

I was writing at my laptop on Saturday, June 16, while watching television and the disbarment proceedings of the lawyer and prosecutor Mike Nifong of Raleigh, North Carolina. The proceedings were led by the chairman of the disciplinary committee, F. Lane Williamson, who stripped the prosecutor of his lawyer's license and disbarred him. According to Williamson, Nifong had broken North Carolina's rules of professional conduct more than two dozen times. Stunningly he had also withheld exculpatory DNA evidence showing that all 3 of the defendants were innocent.

The legal process of exoneration of the 3 young men had taken more than a year, destroyed their lives, and sullied the entire lacrosse team, the reputation of Duke University and its hate-filled faculty. It directly impacted the families, friends, and the community not to mention the several million dollars spent in the defense of innocent young men. At least we can acknowledge that in the legal systems in our nation we do have an appeals process for legal malpractice, however slow, ponderous, and costly it is.

Unfortunately, we do not have such a corrective system to appeal scientific malpractice, no fixed rules for scientific misconduct and few penalties of any significance. A few get noticed, a few are embarrassed, but serious sanctions are rare and are quite sporadic ( Examples abound in environmental science, regulation, and litigation. Adding to this are too many editors of science journals who have assumed advocacy roles for promoting specific agendas, as well as the failure of the peer review processes.

DDT is one of the most effective tools ever in the fight against malaria ( Yet it was banned in 1972 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is still banned and the malarial death rates continue by the thousands. And talk about the repression of evidence. During the DDT hearings of 1972, some scientists stated that DDT was a human carcinogen. This was shown to be untrue. Some scientists said that DDT caused eggshell thinning in birds. This was also shown to be untrue. Some scientists said that DDT caused declines in bird populations. This was untrue. A number of bird populations increased many times during the periods of DDT use. Even with substantial contrary evidence available at the time, the EPA proceeded to ban DDT. And talk about scientific malpractice ruining lives. The EPA ban with full support of the environmental movement has led to the malaria deaths of more than 30,000,000 people since then. Additionally, hundreds of millions suffer from the non-fatal effects of the disease. Yet we have no appeals process for such scientific malpractice, not even follow-up activities to determine impacts of the decision to ban DDT.

There are many other environmental issues as well which have involved heavy use of scientific malpractice, with no threat of scientific review or penalties. Without any viable process for appealing the malpractice of science, the nation and the world continue to suffer egregiously both in horrendous wasted costs and millions of lives lost. The global warming issue is just the latest in a long series of pseudo-alarms involving scientific malpractice.

And talk about the misrepresentation of data. The `hockeystick" issue is but one. The irresponsible research paper which developed the hockeystick chart was presented by the authors as representing the last 1000 years of global temperature data. In actuality it did not do this. Problems were found immediately. The chart did not show, for example, the well-known Middle Age Warming which peaked around 1100 AD at a warmer time when Vikings were farming in and raising sheep in Greenland. It did not show the Little Ice Age which lasted for centuries and extended into the 1800s. Yet this chart was approved by the IPCC editors and reviewers, was embraced by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and incorporated into its 2001 Third Assessment Report (TAR). Based in part on these findings the IPCC had urged the nations of the world to embrace these findings and use them to formulate crippling multi-national energy and emission policies.

Only with great diligence and phenomenal computer and statistical skills by two men, was the fraud discovered. Without them this may never have been discovered, certainly not by the IPCC and supporters. See for example, ( All of those parties above, the authors, the IPCC editors, the peer reviewers, and the IPCC itself are culpable in promoting the fraud of the hockeystick. The warmer times of the Medieval Warming Period and the cooler times of the Little Ice Age and the million years of earlier global climates all tell a different story of climate change and its likely causes. And these didn't involve mankind, CO2, or the so-called crimes of capitalism. Talk about withholding exculpatory evidence.

And talk about harmful agendas and the ethically challenged among the warmers. In December, 2006 Dr. David Deming, a geophysicist at the University of Oklahoma, gave testimony to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works ( In 1995 he had published an article in Science on borehole data which indicated a slight warming in North America over the past 100 to 150 years. And talk about media bias. The week his Science article appeared he was contacted by a reporter at National Public Radio (NPR). He offered to interview Dr. Deming only on the condition that Deming state that the warming was due to human activity. Deming refused and the reporter hung up. Talk about the suppression of information. In that same testimony Deming said he got an astonishing email from a major researcher in the area of climate change. The researcher said "We have to get rid of the Medieval Warming Period". The MWP was inconsistent with the warming agenda. "An Inconvenient Truth", one might say.

Such unscientific and irresponsible behavior can go unchecked and uncorrected indefinitely because there is no formal corrective structure in place in science, as there are in the legal community. There is no price to be paid by abusers. Orchestrating pre-determined scientific outcomes is dishonest, unethical, costly, and dangerous. We saw this in the DDT fiasco. In fact it is not science. It is naked dishonesty. In promoting the case of "man-made global warming" which specifically targets and limits the US capacity to produce energy from fossil fuels (providing transportation and 55% of our electricity), it is also treasonous.


Hold the line on global warming

What should conservatives do about global warming? Jim Manzi suggests in his June 25 National Review cover story ("Game Plan") that conservatives embrace junk science and "manage" global climate change so that they can "peel off" 1 percent of the votes from the "opposing coalition" in some future presidential election.

Manzi's is a recipe for social, political and economic disaster - not just for conservatives, but for everyone, with the possible exception of the misanthropic, back-to-nature socialists among us. "It is no longer possible, scientifically or politically, to deny that human activities have very likely increased global temperatures.," intones Manzi, who has apparently spent too much time watching "An Inconvenient Truth." It's clear from his article that he neither understands the science nor the politics of global warming.

Manzi says we should believe in global warming because of the "underlying physics." He writes, "All else equal, the more CO2 molecules we have in the atmosphere, the hotter it gets." But both the underlying physics and historical climate data debunk this statement. Different greenhouse gases absorb different wavelengths of energy emitted by the Earth. The fact that only a limited amount of the Earth's emitted energy is available for absorption by CO2 and that CO2 has to compete with water vapor and clouds for that energy, results in a crucial (but little publicized) logarithimic relationship between CO2 and temperature - that is, as atmospheric CO2 increases, it absorbs less and less additional energy to produce correspondingly less and less additional warming. At some point, adding more atmospheric CO2 doesn't significantly change atmospheric temperature.

To analogize, consider a window with many shades, each blocking half the incoming light. As successive shades are pulled, the transmitted light is halved and the effect of each shade is diminished. Eventually, there's no additional effect because previous shades have already absorbed the light to all but a vanishing degree. As more shades won't block more light, more CO2 won't cause significantly more warming.

In fact, there's been more than enough greenhouse gas in the atmosphere to cause much greater warming than actually occurs since long before humans discovered fire. From a historical perspective, consider the relationship between carbon dioxide emissions and global temperature for the period 1940-1970. As atmospheric CO2 levels steadily increased during this period, global temperatures decreased, giving rise to the 1970s-era scare of an impending ice age. It's also clear that, if there has been a relationship between atmospheric CO2 and global temperature since the 1970s, it's not readily apparent.

And let's not forget the third-rail of global warming debate - one that Al Gore carefully slid over in his movie - the actual relationship between carbon dioxide and global temperature. While alarmists would have us assume that increases in atmospheric CO2 precede and cause increases in global temperature, the scientific data say the exact opposite. Historical data taken from polar ice core samples indicate that increases in temperature have preceded increases in atmospheric CO2 by several hundred years. Not letting this "inconvenient truth" spoil his movie, Al Gore only describes the relationship between atmospheric CO2 and temperature as "complex."

Indeed, it is. So why let it get in the way of the most subtle yet audacious political power grab of our time. Manzi has taken Gore's bait and is running with it. We'll get to the politics in a moment, but there are a few other points to make about Manzi's presentation of the science. Manzi writes that, "The most important scientific debate is really effects," by which he refers to the notion that changes in atmospheric CO2 cause a complicated set of feedback effects that supposedly magnify and reduce the greenhouse effect. Manzi specifically mentions that higher atmospheric temperatures melt the polar ice caps, which in turn, supposedly causes more warming, and that more atmospheric CO2 increases plant growth which removes CO2 from the atmosphere, thereby cooling the climate.

The reality, however, is that these feedback loops are hypothetical in nature and no one really understands them, if they exist. No one knows why the Arctic ice caps seem to be receding. Glacial melting is a complex geologic event that seems to have little to do with atmospheric temperatures.

During the warming period from 1880 to 1938, it's estimated that the atmospheric CO2 increased by an estimated 20 parts per million. But from 1938 to 2003 - a period of essentially no increase in Arctic warming - the atmospheric CO2 increased another 60 parts per million. It doesn't seem plausible, then, that Arctic temperatures are significantly influenced by atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases.

Global warming worriers can take no comfort from Antarctic data either. Over the last 30 years, atmospheric CO2 increased by about 15 percent, from about 328 parts per million to about 372 parts per million. But the Antarctic temperature trend for that period indicates a slight cooling. This observation contrasts sharply with the relatively steep Antarctic warming observed from 1949 to 1974, which was accompanied by a much more modest increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.

As to trees removing CO2 from the atmosphere, well, some do and some don't. Researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (April 17) that while tropical forests exert a cooling influence on global climate, forests in northern regions, because of their absorption of sunlight, exert a warming influence - and it's not just a trivial climatic effect. Based on the researchers' computer modeling, forests above 20 degrees latitude in the Northern Hemisphere - that is, north of the line of latitude running through Southern Mexico, Saharan Africa, central India and the southernmost Chinese island of Hainan - will warm surface temperatures in those regions by an estimated 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the year 2100. It would seem that climate jihadists might well start their anti-warming campaigns in the chainsaw isle of their local hardware stores, rather than coming for our SUVs, incandescent light bulbs and thermostats.

Manzi's reading of the political situation is as wrong-headed as his facts and reasoning on the science. He suggests that conservatives turn global warming alarmism into a political advantage by essentially out-marketing the enviros on the solutions. "Conservatives should propose policies that are appropriately optimistic, science-based and low-cost. A key political question is there fore which side could more effectively use its position on carbon taxes to peel off 1 percent of the relevant votes from the opposing coalition," he writes.

Why won't putting a happy-face on being the low-cost-provider of planetary apocalypticism work? Because averting planetary disaster is not what global warming alarmism is all about. There are many nefarious agendas driving the global warming controversy, none of them have anything to do with "saving" the planet, and to pretend they don't exist is to truly live in denial.

First, there are the radical left-wing environmentalists whose goal - through control of energy production and use, and ultimately the economy - is global socialism. As Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore related in the recent Channel 4 (UK) documentary, entitled "The Great Global Warming Swindle," by the mid-1980s, environmental goals - e.g., clean air and clean water - had become so mainstream that activists had to adopt more extreme positions to remain anti-establishment. Then when the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended, many "peace-niks" and left-wing political activists moved over to environmental activism, bringing their "neo-Marxist" political philosophy with them. As Moore puts it, environmentalism became the "new guise for anti-capitalism."

Then there are the Europeans who are responsible for launching global warming alarmism in the first place. When Margaret Thatcher became UK Prime Minister in 1979, her mandate was to reduce Britain's economic decline. Thatcher wanted to make the UK energy-independent through nuclear power - she didn't like her country's reliance on coal, which politically empowered the coal miner unions, or oil, which empowered Middle Eastern states. So Thatcher latched onto her science adviser's notion that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide warmed the planet in a harmful way, thereby providing the perfect political cover for advancing her nuclear power agenda without having to fight the miners or Arab oil states. She empowered the U.K. Meteorological Office to begin global climate change research, a move that eventually led to the 1988 creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations' group that has come to be the "official" international agency for global warming alarmism.

The Europeans now see global warming as a means of hampering U.S. economic competitiveness through increased energy prices. In a global warming-worried world, it becomes more expensive to use coal, for example. About 52 percent of U.S. electricity is produced by burning coal. France, in contrast, gets 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. Guess whose economy takes the hit. The Europeans also know that environmentalists and trial lawyers will ensure that greenhouse gas emissions regulations are strictly enforced in the U.S. The same cannot be said for Europe.

There is also the gigantic global warming bureaucracy that's been created over the last 20 years. Whereas there used to be only a handful of scientists who called themselves atmospheric scientists, now there are legions of self-proclaimed "climatologists" along with the attendant bureaucracies to support them. U.S. taxpayers alone support this gang to a tune of about $5 billion per year. Where a zoologist might previously have had difficulty getting a grant to study the mating habits of squirrels, a whole new world of possibilities opens up if the newly minted climato-zoologist asks for funding to study whether changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide are making female squirrels friskier.

Perhaps the most effective of these pro-global warming groups is big business. The alternative energy industry uses global warming fearmongering to sell subsidized, but still high-priced energy. Wal-Mart wants us to pay $5.99 for inferior but climate-friendly light bulbs, rather than $0.75 for traditional incandescent bulbs. Dupont and other manufacturing giants want Congress to dole out global warming pork for their past, voluntary reductions in greenhouse gases. Goldman Sachs owns part of the climate exchanges on which permits to emit greenhouse gases are to be traded. Global warming hysteria was just that, until big business climbed aboard the climate railroad. Now with its army of lobbyists in Washington, many businesses see global warming as a lucrative endeavor and they are trying to engineer congressional action for their own limited interests.

And let's not forget Congress and other state and local politicians who, not surprisingly, have adopted the Green veneer of virtue. "Green-ness" has become the new moral high ground that few dare to challenge. Those that do are pilloried as "skeptics" and likened to Holocaust deniers. It's no surprise that so many politicians - not a courageous lot to start with - have opted to join the Big Green machine.

All this apparently is lost on Manzi whose penultimate thought is, "But by getting past denial and taking a science-based approach to the issue, a clever candidate could take a principled stand that pays major tactical dividends." But cleverness will not likely protect our freedoms and wallets from the Greens, Europeans, global bureaucracy, rent-seeking businesses and Congress. These groups need to be sternly faced-down with the scientific and economic realities of global warming. Right now, conservatives are leading the charge in favor of sound science, and against climate clamoring and profiteering. That should continue to be our "game plan." That is the principled stand.


Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren: Most Economists Predict a Bright Future

Will our children and grandchildren live in a better world, or will economic and social conditions decline? Every culture has worried over this question-often for good reason. One would think that modern man, living amid ever-rising material comforts and a security unimagined by his ancestors, would have moved beyond this fear. But despite our growing prosperity there is a renewed fear in many quarters that we are living on borrowed time, because we're running out of resources and endangering our very environment.

Once, economists would have been counted among the pessimists. The moniker "the dismal science" surely stuck for such a long time because so many economists followed the lead of Thomas Malthus, who predicted that population growth in the face of resource constraints would inevitably squelch hopes for a broad-based rise in standards of living. Today, however, there are strong indications that the fog of gloom among economists has evaporated. The evidence of more than two centuries of burgeoning economic growth worldwide is hard to refute, and economists have revised their expectations and models in this light. Economic histories now bear titles like Growth Triumphant; a history of twentieth-century global investment is titled Triumph of the Optimists; and introductory textbooks work through the New Growth Theory, forecasting unchecked economic growth and likening the economy to a perpetual motion machine.

Further evidence that it's time to rename economics the "cheerful science" comes from a recent survey I conducted of professional economists. I found that by wide margin economists are exceptionally optimistic about the future of the American economy: most predict that the robust economic growth of our recent history will continue into the foreseeable future. My respondents' median prediction is that per capita income in the United States will grow at a rate slightly less than the 2 percent inflation-adjusted growth rate of the past sixty years. Almost half forecast a growth rate equal to or greater than 2 percent. Only one economist in my poll predicts economic decline for our grandchildren.

If my respondents are correct and economic growth continues at this pace, incomes will rise more than three-fold in the next sixty years-average incomes would equal approximately $147,000 in today's dollars. If the growth rate does dip slightly, say to 1.8 percent per annum, incomes would almost triple, rising to only $131,000. These predictions are eye-popping.

In addition, economists believe that the U.S. will continue to be one of the world's richest countries sixty years from now. Twenty-eight percent predict that the U.S. will have the highest per capita income in the world six decades from now. The largest group, 71 percent, expects the U.S. to be "not the highest, but in the top tier." Again, only a single pessimist predicts that the U.S. will fall from the top tier.

Finally, economists expect that within the next couple of generations many (perhaps most) countries and regions that are currently poor and economically underdeveloped will achieve standards of living equaling or surpassing today's level in the richest countries. My survey asked: "Sixty years from now what countries or regions (if any) will have joined the group of developed nations with an income per capita approximately equaling or surpassing today's level in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia and Western Europe?" Of those who answered the question, 62 percent put China on the list, two-thirds mentioned other places in East Asia, one-third mentioned India, and 40 percent selected all or parts of Latin America-with Chile mentioned most frequently, followed by Brazil and Mexico. Unfortunately, the vast majority also believe that deep poverty will persist in Sub-Saharan Africa for generations to come.

The bottom line is that most economists are very optimistic about the economic future of almost all the world. They find pessimism implausible because the forces that have driven past growth-the accelerating pace of technological innovation and the strong incentives embedded in the capitalist system that steer us around potential roadblocks-aren't likely to disappear anytime soon. Moreover, the consensus among economists is that climate change has very little potential to slow down our economic growth machine. Rather, economists identify the major challenges facing the American economy over the next sixty years as coping with the effects of an aging population and flaws in the Social Security system, exploding health care and health insurance costs, and our inefficient educational system.

Perhaps it's time for us to stop worrying about a future of deprivation and finally learn how to handle unrelenting prosperity.


Energy policy: Big, bold and bogus

Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says their energy plan involves "bold steps and big ideas." These steps, if taken, will trod on the necks of American consumers, because Reid's big ideas will counterproductively impose arbitrary mandates on our auto, food, fuel and appliance industries. The latest Senate sham, spuriously referred to as the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007, will actually hurt consumers, reduce energy efficiency and swindle more money from the taxpayers. The misleading title isn't worth repeating; let's just call it S.1419.

A New York Times article on June 12 emphasized lobbying by competing interests relative to the spoils that will be spilled from the federal treasury and the damage expected from this bill promoted by our inept and self-serving, pardon the expression, "representatives." Some say this proposed legislation may be even more divisive than the attempt by the Senate to codify illegal immigration. Former Senator John Breaux (D-La), now lobbying for a corporate management company, called it "the mother of all bills."

And this mother is designed to stick it to all of us.

Sen. Reid says the Democrat plan "is all about harnessing power.." Right, Harry. It's about your power over the hapless citizens of this country. You would mandate phony fuels that will raise energy and food prices; impose government designs on appliances that will increase their costs and reduce product performance and reliability; restrict gasoline industry profits that will interfere with normal market economics and induce shortages; and force arbitrary gas mileage numbers on our auto industries that will make cars more expensive, less safe and reduce our choices. I call this an abuse of power, Sen. Reid.

Apparently duped by environmental utopians, Reid and others spout the "renewal" energy mantra that "exists literally all around us," as he naively states. In their feeble minds grass and grain will substitute for highly efficient "fossil fuels." Ben Lieberman, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, and many others have debunked the renewable fuels scam that Congress perpetrated on us back in 2005 with what he calls "the biggest energy policy failure in recent years."

Government mandated corn-made ethanol costs more and is less efficient that gasoline. It does not decrease "greenhouse" emissions. It won't reduce "dependency" on foreign oil. It did lead to higher food prices. According to an Iowa State University study, this stupidity has already cost everyone of us in America nearly $50 more for food annually. What will be our cost increase when S.1419 requires four times more ethanol production than the current mandate?-not to mention many other unintended (and intended) consequences.

The Times reports that this onerous proposed law was authored mainly by Democrat Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, chairman of the Energy Committee (more likely crafted by his left-leaning staffers and environmental lobbyists). Experiencing abundant sunshine in that desert-state may have made him light-headed with the idea that we can replace gas, oil and coal energy with such things as solar panels. Windmills will also help us to "energy independence." Picture these people walking around wearing beanies with little propellers on top, symbols of the wackiness they want to impose on us all: doing whatever to save the planet from God only knows what.

Bingaman's bill, clearly divisive, pits various segments of our economy against each other-reason enough to declare this bad law. Government restrictions and subsidies create lobbyists representing business groups who know the economic damage that will be inflicted by do-good, know-nothing regulation and taxation. For example, former Democrat representative Charles Stenholm from Texas now lobbies to protect oil producers and cattle ranchers from the unfair federal subsidies given to corn-made ethanol producers.

The food industry has fired off a letter warning the senators-ignorant or disdainful of our economic system-that their heavy-handed subsidies for ethanol will increase the cost of food to consumers. Energy-consuming companies are broadcasting TV ads pointing out to our resident subversives that our foreign enemies support Congressional self-inflicting attempts to hurt our economy. Naturally, our auto industry fights government actions that will subvert their struggles to provide Americans with high-quality and safe vehicles competitive with foreign makers. Electric utilities and coal producers oppose government requirements to force them to produce 15 percent of the power we all need with "renewable"-read, costly and inefficient-energy sources.

While the dim-bulbs in our Capital inflict us with requirements to use more renewables, they have restricted sugar-based ethanol imports from Brazil; guaranteeing a market for one of their favorite domestic charities. Mr. Lieberman believes that ethanol subsidies will eventually cost each American household $200 "for the privilege of higher fuel and food prices." He also documents that by forcing us to buy reduced energy use appliances we can expect poor performance and more expensive machines we need to maintain our already efficient and comfortable standard of living. Harry Reid and Senate meddlers would change that by bureaucratically giving "efficiency priority over everything else," says Lieberman.

And what will this misguided policy do to our safety on the highways? Lighter personal vehicles necessary to meet government Corporate Average Fuel Economy, arbitrarily picked to achieve some unknown (and unjustified) reduction in vehicle emissions of carbon dioxide, will likely increase deaths on the highway. The National Academy of Sciences believes downsizing vehicles has resulted in annual deaths matching the numbers of our soldiers killed in Iraq over the past several years. The market will produce smaller vehicle for those consumers willing to buy them. We don't want government forced price increases, limited choice and greater safety risks.

Finally, S.1419 will make it a crime to profit from selling gasoline to us. If a company charges an "unconscionably excessive price" for its product, government power kicks in and kicks us consumers. Make no mistake, this draconian action will slow the free flow of this critical commodity and result in shortages. Mr. Lieberman says the "vague and subjective phrasing" in this bill will effectively result in price control and reduce supplies. Even the government Federal Trade Commission "is on record stating that such legislation is a bad idea," says Lieberman. If our legislators can't write clear and concise law, they have no business doing so.

This Senate bill is so potentially destructive to our comfort, convenience and economic welfare that it cannot be defended with rational debate. Wild conjecture, unreasonable emotion and subversive intent drives this legislation. Mr. Lieberman says, S.1419 "is so counterproductive it would need substantial improvements just to be ineffective."

This bill must be buried quickly, or we all will suffer from the plague it will spread.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, June 25, 2007

CAFE Kills, and Then Some: Six Reasons to Be Skeptical of Fuel Economy Standards

BACKGROUND: In 1975, Congress enacted Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations to reduce gasoline consumption. Current CAFE standards require an average of 27.2 miles per gallon (mpg) for cars and 21.6 mpg for light trucks. As part of its debate over the Energy Bill (S.1419), the U.S. Senate is now considering raising CAFE standards to require all passenger cars and light trucks to average 52 mpg. Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), Christopher Bond (R-MO) and Mark Pryor (D-AR) have proposed an alternative increase, which would require a 36 mpg standard for cars by 2022 and 30 mpg for light trucks by 2025.

Auto and truck manufacturers and the United Auto Workers trade union support the Levin-Bond amendment, which would raise standards 31 percent for passenger cars and by 35 percent for light trucks. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and others in the Democratic leadership, along with major environmental organizations, support the 52-mpg standard.

An expected reduction in gasoline usage is the most common reason cited for raising CAFE standards. It is not clear, however, that CAFE standards are particularly helpful in reducing gasoline use. Meanwhile, there are significant disadvantages to the standards, especially the harsh -- and very likely unattainable -- 52 mpg level for both cars and light trucks as proposed in the Energy Bill, which the auto manufacturers and the UAW say could possibly be a death knell for the domestic auto industry.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: CAFE standards already result in the deaths of approximately 2,000 Americans every year, since smaller cars are less crashworthy. By failing to acknowledge this in their policymaking, Congress has cost thousands of Americans their lives. Now Congress is poised to compound the dangers by raising CAFE standards still further -- so much so, it may kill the domestic auto industry itself.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: CAFE standards have little impact on greenhouse gas emissions, and the environmental benefits of increasing CAFE standards are frequently overstated. Their impact on human health is more certain: CAFE standards have resulted in tens of thousands of deaths since their adoption. Furthermore, raising CAFE standards at this time -- particularly to the draconian level of 52 mpg for both cars and light trucks -- would significantly harm auto manufacturing jobs in the U.S., raise vehicle prices, and reduce vehicle choices for families1 and for those who use vehicles for towing and moving goods.

DISCUSSION: Opponents of increasing CAFE standards raise the following concerns:

1) Increasing mpg reduces the per-mile cost of operating vehicles, which increases the number of miles driven, thus reducing or eliminating any CAFE benefit. Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren of the Cato Institute explain why this is the case:

Energy efficient appliances reduce the costs of operation. This might not be a big deal when it comes to, say, the television set (we won't watch more TV just because it costs a little less to turn on the set). But for appliances like air conditioners that make all the difference during peak demand periods, energy efficiency reduces the marginal cost of energy services and thus increases -- not decreases -- energy consumption. This is a well-known phenomenon called the 'rebound effect.' The same goes for automobile fuel efficiency. Environmentalists argue that increasing the miles per gallon of the cars we drive would save more energy than increased drilling could produce. But the data show that fuel consumption goes up whenever automobile fuel efficiency goes up. Nearly all the gains in fuel efficiency disappear once we account for the demonstrable increases in driving that such investments produce.2

James Taylor, editor of the Heartland Institute's Environment News, cites supportive data:

[USA Today columnist John] Merline noted people drive their vehicles more when increased fuel economy makes the price per mile cheaper. "The number of miles driven by passenger cars and light trucks climbed 104 percent between 1975 and 2000, according to the Department of Transportation," noted Merline.

A 2001 study conducted by the National Research Council (NRC) reached the same conclusion. According to the NRC, CAFE "reduces the fuel cost per mile of driving, thereby encouraging faster growth in vehicle travel than would otherwise be the case."

"NHTSA neglects the adverse effects from the increased driving induced by the proposal," agreed Randall Lutter and Troy Kravitz in a February 2003 study released by the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies. "By lowering the costs of driving, NHTSA's proposal increases vehicle miles traveled, thereby boosting traffic accidents and congestion. The increase in the costs of accidents and congestion fully offsets and probably outweighs the social benefits resulting from greater fuel economy."3

Writing in the Wall Street Journal in 2001, Kimberly A. Strassel observed, "[s]ince 1970, the United States has made cars almost 50% more efficient; in that period of time, the average number of miles a person drives has doubled."4

2) CAFE standards are dangerous. In 2002, the National Academy of Sciences released a report, "Effectiveness and Impact of CAFE Standards 2002," concluding that since CAFE standards were imposed in the U.S. in 1975, an additional 2,000 deaths per year can be attributed to the downsizing of cars required to meet CAFE standards.

In 2001, Charli E. Coon, J.D. of the Heritage Foundation wrote:

The evidence is overwhelming that CAFE standards result in more highway deaths. A 1999 USA TODAY analysis of crash data and estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that, in the years since CAFE standards were mandated under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, about 46,000 people have died in crashes that they would have survived if they had been traveling in bigger, heavier cars. This translates into 7,700 deaths for every mile per gallon gained by the standards.5

3) CAFE increases are less likely to reduce gas consumption than are gas tax increases:

In a 2002 essay published in the Los Angeles Times, the Cato Institute's William A. Niskanen and Peter Van Doren noted, "since the CAFE standards were introduced, the average fuel economy has increased by 114% for new cars and by 56% for new light trucks, but the U.S. consumption of imported oil has increased from 35% to 52%." Niskanen and Van Doren recommended that if reducing gas consumption is the goal, an increased gasoline tax is more likely to get the job done: "In contrast to a tax on gasoline, CAFE standards are an imperfect and inefficient method of signaling drivers about the true costs of the gasoline that they consume."6

The Congressional Budget Office took a similar view:

This issue brief focuses on the economic costs of CAFE standards and compares them with the costs of a gasoline tax that would reduce gasoline consumption by the same amount. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that a 10 percent reduction in gasoline consumption could be achieved at a lower cost by an increase in the gasoline tax than by an increase in CAFE standards. Furthermore, an increase in the gasoline tax would reduce driving, leading to less traffic congestion and fewer accidents. This analysis stops short of estimating the value of less congestion and fewer accidents and, therefore, does not draw any conclusions about whether an increase in the gasoline tax would be warranted. However, CBO does find that, given current estimates of the value of decreasing dependence on oil and reducing carbon emissions, increasing CAFE standards would not pass a benefit-cost test.7

4) CAFE standard increases will harm domestic automakers and employment in the domestic auto industry.

As National Center for Public Policy Research Senior Fellow Eric Peters writes:

The legislation differs from previous fuel economy standards in that it would apply to both passenger cars and "light trucks" -- a category of vehicle that includes pick-ups, SUVs and minivans -- and which has up to now been held to a separate (and less stringent) fuel economy standard of 21.5-mpg vs. 27.5-mpg for passenger cars.

As a result, [legislation to increase CAFE standards] would disproportionately hurt American car companies, which have their profit centers in large pick-ups and SUVs -- while giving a competitive leg-up to imports, which make most of their money selling smaller, inherently more economical passenger cars.

It's much easier to tweak the design of a compact or mid-sized front-wheel-drive passenger car with a four or six-cylinder engine that already gets 32 mpg to the 35 mpg mark than it is to get a full-size, V-8 powered truck or SUV from 20-something mpg to 35 mpg. Thus, the impact of the [legislation to increase CAFE standards] will hurt American car companies most where they are especially vulnerable -- at a time when they can least afford another legislative knee-capping. GM, Ford and Chrysler have all posted alarming losses recently, even as the quality and appeal of their vehicles has been on the upswing. Hitting them with a 35-mpg fuel economy edict would have the same effect as sucker punching someone already laid low by the flu.8

Furthermore, more stringent CAFE standards will make new cars more expensive, which will depress sales generally.

5) Some individuals, families and businesses need the large vehicles a CAFE standard increase will tend to drive out of the market for towing or storage capacity or simply to transport their families. Laws requiring parents to transport children -- in some states, children up to eight years of age -- in approved child safety seats effectively reduces available seating in the back seat of most small (and many mid-sized) sedans to two persons. For safety reasons, transporting a third child in the front seat is inappropriate in most vehicles, and is illegal in some areas, making larger vehicles all but mandatory for many families with children.

6) The argument that increasing CAFE standards will reduce global warming is grossly overstated. Even if greenhouse gas emissions due to human activities are significantly, and harmfully, raising global temperatures, which remains a subject of debate, increasing CAFE standards would have scant impact. As Charli E. Coon, J.D., of the Heritage Foundation wrote in 2001:

Nor will increasing CAFE standards halt the alleged problem of "global warming." Cars and light trucks subject to fuel economy standards make up only 1.5 percent of all global man-made greenhouse gas emissions. According to data published in 1991 by the Office of Technology Assessment, a 40 percent increase in fuel economy standards would reduce greenhouse emissions by only about 0.5 percent, even under the most optimistic assumptions.


Pesky that China is now the biggest CO2 emitter. It's their OWN countries that Greenies want to harass. So we read:

The words of Andrew Pendleton, Senior climate analyst, Christian Aid:

Rich countries cannot blame China for climate change when the primary reason for the expansion in its greenhouse gas emissions is producing cheap goods for western markets (China passes US as worlds biggest CO2 emitter, June 20). As most of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were emitted by rich countries in industrialising, we can hardly lecture China as it tries to develop. Tragically, these finger-pointing politics are being played out while the impact of climate change on the world's poorest is becoming ever more apparent. The new UN figures showing that the number of refugees rose last year by 14% is backed up by recent research from Christian Aid indicating that by 2050, 1 billion people will have been forced to leave their homes.

What we must do with great urgency is share the burden of reducing both rich and developing world emissions in a way that reflects historical and current responsibility and capability.

The words of Dr Victoria Johnson, Climate change researcher, New Economics Foundation:

Carbon footprint data from the Global Footprint Network, which also includes levels of consumption, shows that the per capita carbon footprint of people living in China is still almost one-tenth that of the average person living in the US, and a quarter that of someone living in the UK. The US and other developed nations are increasingly consuming goods produced by other countries, a process driven by globalisation. This has resulted in the geographical displacement of the emissions resulting from the goods we consume, usually to countries with higher carbon intensities.

By ignoring the driver of demand, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency's misleading conclusions simply take us further away from an international climate change agreement based on responsibility. And a recognition that, as consumers, we must not only do things differently, but also do less.


The pitter-patter of tiny 'footprints'

Women in Britain are having more children. And for some green miserabilists that can only mean more mouths to feed and more carbon to clean up. The old misanthropic Zero Population Growth attitudes are still alive and well among Greenies and their fellow-travellers

Last week, the UK Office for National Statistics released the latest figures for live births, revealing that the fertility rate - the number of live births per 1,000 women - is at its highest level for 26 years.

The number of babies born rose from 1.8 babies per woman in 2005 to 1.87 in 2006, the fifth annual rise in a row (1). While young, British-born women are having fewer children, older women and immigrant women are more than making up for it. The `mini-baby boom' is perhaps all the more remarkable given the relentless dire warnings about the `risks' for women in having children (2). And yet, the fact that most women are still choosing to have babies is, for some commentators and professionals, problematic and even `irresponsible'.

We can look upon the increased fertility rate as positive for a number of reasons. For one thing, the fact that women are choosing to have children later in life reflects the improved position of women in British society. The postwar peaks in the fertility rate depended on keeping women at home. But as society's attitudes have changed, women have been able to carry on into higher education, establish careers and gain economic independence, too. Of course, even today, women will still be expected to shoulder the burden of childcare, reflecting the market's inability to provide collective assistance in child rearing. But the fact women now plan to have children around their careers, rather than motherhood being the only `career' going, is a development surely worth celebrating.

Not everyone is of the same opinion. Allan Pacey of the British Fertility Society said that although `it's reassuring that more people are getting pregnant and starting to reverse the population decline. I wouldn't want these figures to send the message that it's okay to have babies much later in life' (3). Why not? What happened to choice? Although it's true that it is more difficult for women to conceive in their late thirties and early forties than in their twenties, and there is a small increase in the possibility of birth defects, there have been massive advances in reproductive technologies. When 63-year-old Patricia Rashbrook gave birth in April 2006, it was clear that age is not the barrier to reproduction it once was. Limitations on motherhood seem to have more to do with the views of health professionals than any scientific barrier.

The increase in the UK's fertility rate is positive for another reason: it means the misanthropic overpopulation lobby hasn't won all the arguments just yet. Most adults still see taking on responsibility for raising the next generation as both important and worthwhile, a reflection that maybe the human race isn't such a `lost cause' after all. The rising fertility rate also refutes priggish suggestions that the entire British population are far too addled by drink and drugs to bother with children.

Ironically, though perhaps not surprisingly, there are those who can only read grim negativity into the increased fertility rate. David Nicholson-Lord of the Optimum Population Trust said: `We advocate that people should stop at two or have one fewer child than they planned for environmental reasons. The current population is unsustainable. The closer we get to two births per woman, the more concerned we get.' (3)

Fears about `rising population' are nothing new, of course. Thomas Malthus saw population increases as problematic because he reckoned, wrongly, that agricultural productivity wouldn't be able to cope with greater numbers. `The power of population', he wrote, `is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race.' Without checks on population growth, whether human or natural, there would be famine, he argued.

While Malthus was proved wrong by events, other population worries surfaced. From the late nineteenth century until the 1940s, elitist thinkers constantly fretted that the `wrong' type of people were breeding in greater numbers and thus threatened the `moral fibre' of Western nations (4). Eugenics and forced sterilisation of `inferior people' were championed by elite thinkers, until such ideas and practices were well and truly discredited by the Nazi experience.

The revival of population `concern' by organisations like the Optimum Population Trust is in some ways worse than the old elite's contempt for the masses. At least bourgeois intellectuals in the early twentieth century believed that some humans had distinguishable and worthwhile attributes that needed to be preserved. By contrast, today's environmentalists see all humans as parasites on nature, a uniquely destructive force on the planet whose presence shouldn't be welcomed, let alone encouraged. So David Nicholson-Lord sees no difference between `good' or `bad' people, as previous elite thinkers would have done; rather he thinks that any population increase is necessarily bad because it causes environmental damage. Becoming a parent is reprehensible because it increases the number of `carbon footprints' on the earth.

Environmental policies are often demanded because of the urgent need to tackle climate change and to safeguard future generations. Campaigners insist that reducing carbon emissions is about ensuring the survival of the human race, not just saving endangered species or rainforest trees. This is why critics of environmental orthodoxies are sometimes painted as being `selfish', `short-sighted' and even `anti-human'; apparently to ignore climate change is to be blas‚ about humanity's future. In truth, if environmentalists had their way, there wouldn't be any future generations to `save' - or certainly there would be generations vastly shrunken in number. For Nicholson-Lord, if there's a choice between the environment and humanity, the former must and should take priority. As he tetchily puts it: `people aren't considering the environment when they are planning their family' (5). Want to do `your bit' to stop climate change? Don't have any children!

Unfortunately, these sorts of foul outbursts also reveal the extraordinary political consensus around environmentalism and, by proxy, anti-humanism. So instead of counter-debates and discussions on the gloomy prognosis of climate change alarmists, we merely get various shades of green. As a consequence, `the environment' has gone beyond an `objective reality' to become a subjective moral absolute. Mentioning the magic words `the environment' has become a way of imposing an unquestionable `good' over any issue in human society, whether it is on expanding airport runways, building new homes, improving infrastructure for transport or starting a family.

At root lies a sentiment that humans no longer have a place on the planet. The fewer of us, the better. The increased fertility rate in Britain is something worth celebrating. But safeguarding the prosperity and future of the next generation will require fewer measures to `save the environment' and more arguments to counter environmentalists. Honestly, humanity's survival depends on it.


Greenie politics of empty gesture from the Australian Left

Comment by Christopher Pearson

KEVIN Rudd calls climate change "the great moral challenge of our times". His guru, German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, certainly wouldn't have agreed, given his old-fashioned preoccupations with abortion and eugenics. But it's the kind of rhetorical flourish that probably tells us all there is to know about the Opposition Leader's moral compass. As he sees it, a hypothetical threat - which has got a lot of people vaguely worried about something that may well never materialise - trumps poverty and preventable disease in the developing world, international peacekeeping initiatives and winning the long war against terrorism.

If Rudd wants to paint himself as a moral crusader, with curbing greenhouse gas as his great cause, he should at least be prepared to demonstrate that he means business. So far all the Opposition has had to offer is gesture politics and desperate attempts to shirk debating the economic and social costs of bizarre prescriptions advanced by various climate change fanatics, including Labor's environment spokesman Peter Garrett.

Labor holds it as an article of faith that there can be no serious response to climate change unless and until Australia ratifies the Kyoto Protocol. That is the beginning and the end of what the Australian Labor Party is pleased to call its comprehensive approach to climate change. It's no more than a shibboleth, as group-defining as a Masonic handshake and almost as much of an anachronism.

Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol is a hand-me-down policy bequeathed to Rudd by Kim Beazley and to Beazley by Simon Crean before him. As a policy, it is intellectually threadbare because most of what it has delivered is the illusion of making a difference rather than the reality. For people looking for some sort of insurance against the risks climate change is said to pose, the debate moved beyond Kyoto years ago. Australian diplomatic initiatives culminating in the foreshadowed Sydney Declaration at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum summit, and bringing the Group of Eight nations into post-Kyoto undertakings, are much more pragmatic, but Labor has tended to trivialise them because it didn't think of them first.

The existing Kyoto targets cover barely one-third of global emissions. The agreement does not cover the US, India or China, leading emitters now and for the foreseeable future. Even in the most unlikely event that all the signatories to Kyoto meet their targets, emissions are set to rise 41 per cent in 2010. Without Kyoto, the increase would be 42 per cent. It's a case of much ado about not much.

China and India are perfectly reasonable in seeing economic development as their main priority if they are to lift many hundreds of millions more of their people out of poverty. They simply won't sign up for emissions targets that shackle their capacity for growth, notwithstanding the moral hectoring of affluent advanced economies, which historically were the main emitters. India and China sought and won exemptions that they are unlikely readily to surrender.

As for the chief proponents of the protocol, most have proved unable to meet their Kyoto aspirations. From the outset it has been obvious to all but the zealots that the Kyoto system was designed by Europeans, adopting European prescriptions that suited European interests, with precious little regard for highly fossil-fuel-reliant economies such as Australia's. Yet even in the countries where the protocol is defended most fervently, performance on carbon emission cuts is abysmal.

As the latest report of the European Union Environment Agency makes clear, the 15 EU economies of western Europe taken together have succeeded in achieving only a 1.5 per cent reduction in emissions since the 1990s, against a Kyoto target of 8 per cent. It is only when you count the eastern Europeans, whose decrepit smokestack industries crumbled after the collapse of the Soviet empire, that the EU begins to get close to meeting its commitments.

Were Rudd's Labor as serious as it claims to be about climate change, there is another crucial policy it would have to reconsider. Of those countries in western Europe that have achieved significant emission reductions, almost all have nuclear power generation or access to nuclear-powered electricity grids. For example, Sweden gets 46 per cent of its electricity supply from nuclear power, Belgium 54 per cent, Finland 28 per cent, Germany 27 per cent, Britain 15 per cent and France a hefty 78 per cent.

The ALP remains obsessed with a shambolic and unworkable Kyoto system. Yet at the same time, as John Howard never tires of pointing out, it remains an unwavering ideological opponent of the one energy source capable of providing an alternative baseload electricity supply with negligible carbon emissions. This is less of a climate change policy than a climate change posture.

For all I know, at heart Rudd may be as sceptical about greenhouse gas-induced global warming as Michael Costa, the Labor Treasurer of NSW, who openly dismisses it as a bad joke. But no matter what the Opposition Leader thinks, caucus would insist on ratifying the Kyoto Protocol if he wins the election. Julia Gillard and Greg Combet, to name but two, are feudal chieftains who just wouldn't take no for an answer.

As the last rounds of preselections are finalised, a clearer picture is emerging of what a Rudd government would look like. A lot more union officials will be entering parliament and demanding frontbench positions at the expense of younger and more politically savvy people who presently occupy them, especially the women. It would not be a ministry of all the talents, comparable with the first Hawke cabinet.

It's unlikely that many would aspire to be change-managers with a commitment to economic reform, like the best of the class of 1983. Nor are they technocrats in Tony Blair's New Labour mould. The main emphasis would be on re-entrenching the union movement's anachronistic privileges as far as possible and otherwise playing it safe and keeping faith with party pieties. The mind-set that gave us the no-new-mines policy on uranium and steadfastly resisted the sale of Telstra for the past 11 years on some elusive principle, after selling off far more strategic assets in public ownership, would be much in evidence. In so far as we can judge from its platform, it would be a government that seldom allowed the high cost of implementing bad policy to deter it from doing so.

As most readers will know, I am a greenhouse sceptic and bitterly regret that the Howard Government didn't use the advantages of incumbency to stimulate a far better informed debate on climate change than we have seen so far. I have repeatedly urged the Prime Minister to sack or move sideways the string of environment ministers who so often became the hopeless captives of their advisers, only to see the Government en masse follow suit.

Watching the federal Government poised to spend billions of dollars on a notional problem when there's no shortage of real problems that need fixing, is wormwood and gall to me. The only crumb of comfort is that some of the projects funded under the greenhouse rubric can be defended on other grounds. For example, coal is a dirty fuel as well as a source of carbon dioxide. Burning it, and any other type of fossil fuel, as cleanly and efficiently as possible makes sense. Again, there are other reasons Australia may choose to pay the developing world to stop deforestation apart from carbon storage, including protecting the diversity of species and the earth's supply of oxygen.

Apart from those considerations, I suppose if there's going to be any kind of government intervention on greenhouse gas emissions, it would be better to leave it to the Coalition's relatively cautious style of management rather than entrust it to green enthusiasts. It is, after all, only by virtue of a hard-nosed approach to bargaining and pleading a special case for fossil fuels in our domestic economy that Australia got an achievable Kyoto target in the first place and became one of the few countries on track to meet it. In any event, as we are reckoned to be responsible for only 1.5per cent of global emissions, our contribution to curbing them should also be commensurately modest.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Climate Activists' Credibility Gap

By Steven Milloy

Organic yogurt king and Stonyfield Farm CEO Gary Hirshberg may have thought that he avoided the buzzsaw this week by ducking a TV appearance with me. Guess I'll just have to go on without him. The news hook for our scheduled appearance was Hirshberg's new global warming effort called ClimateCounts. The project's ostensible goal is to help consumers make "climate-conscious" purchasing decisions. Electronics/computer shoppers, for example, are steered toward IBM and Sony products, rather than Apple's, since the latter fared abysmally in ClimateCounts' survey of the so-called "carbon footprints" of 56 consumer products companies.

Global warming hysteria and the concept of the carbon footprint, in particular, have been debunked many times in this column already. Suffice to say, the ClimateCounts survey commands no credibility here, and consumers who shop based on the survey's recommendations may as well consult with an astrologist to guide their purchasing decisions. So here are some other relevant tidbits about ClimateCounts' leadership that viewers may have heard from me had Hirshberg not gotten cold feet about appearing on CNBC's "On the Money" program on June 19.

Stonyfield Farm's organic yogurt has long been marketed through dubious efforts to scare consumers away from conventional (i.e., not marketed as "organic") yogurt. One Stonyfield ad, for example, reads: "Synthetic Bovine Growth Hormone. Your baby doesn't want it. We're pretty sure cows don't either." Synthetic bovine growth hormone (also known as rbST) is widely administered to dairy cows to increase milk production. According to the Food and Drug Administration - but contrary to the Stonyfield ad - rbST is safe to humans and cows. Milk from cows given rbST contains no more bovine growth hormone than milk from cows not treated with rbST.

Organic dairy producers, who are desperately in need of reasons to get consumers to buy their more expensive products, nevertheless try to scare consumers about conventionally produced milk - even though the Department of Agriculture has stated that "organic" is strictly a marketing term without any health or environmental connotations, and the FDA and state regulators specifically have warned organic dairy producers against scaring consumers about rbST.

Another fearmongering Stonyfield ad reads, "Earth to mom! Yogurts made without the use of antibiotics, hormones and toxic pesticides." It seems that Stonyfield would almost have consumers believe that conventional yogurt makers actually add these substances to their products. Stonyfield coupons feature a cow with a talk bubble that reads "You are what I eat." Below the cow, the label reads "No Hormones. No Phony Ingredients. No Yucky Stuff." Another Stonyfield ad reads, "Because very few recipes call for antibiotics and toxic persistent pesticides." Finally, the above-mentioned "Your baby doesn't want it either" ad states that "pediatricians recommend milk that doesn't come from cows treated with synthetic bovine growth hormone."

I'm not sure to which "pediatricians" Stonyfield refers, but both the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Medical Association have deemed milk from rbST-treated cows to be safe. Hirshberg's Stonyfield, therefore, hardly has a surplus of scientific credibility that it can share with ClimateCounts.

But the credibility gap with ClimateCounts doesn't end with Hirshberg. The group's executive vice president is Lisa Witter, who is also chairman of Fenton Communications - a name that should be very familiar to aficionados of the history of health and environmental scare-mongering. Fenton Communications is the infamous, left-wing public relations group that orchestrated actress Meryl Streep, CBS' 60 Minutes and the Natural Resources Defense Council to bring about the entirely bogus 1989 scare involving the apple-ripening chemical Alar. Even assuming it were true that Alar slightly increased cancer risk in laboratory rats - no small assumption given the well-known limitations of laboratory animal studies in determining human cancer risk - a human would have to consume 19,000 quarts of apple juice per day for life to get the same dose of Alar as the rats.

Moreover, the purpose of the scare was fundraising for environmental activists. The head of Fenton subsequently acknowledged that the scare "was designed so that revenue would flow back to the NRDC from the public." Fenton also was a major force in the silicone breast implant scare, serving as the PR firm to the trial lawyers in implant litigation. Fenton once issued a phony press release hyperventilating about the results of a breast implant study that appeared in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet. Five days later, the journal forced a correction from Fenton because the PR firm had made it look as though The Lancet had issued the scary release, rather than the Command Trust, Fenton's trial lawyer front-group.

As laid out in the August 2000 report entitled "Fear Profiteers" that I helped edit, Fenton Communications has also been a key player in numerous scares, including those involving biotech foods, "toxic" chemicals in breast milk, toys and medical equipment made with PVC plastic, chemicals in the environment alleged to mimic hormones and, of course, rbST. None of these scares have a scientific leg to stand on and all have been debunked over the course of time. Whether you believe in manmade global warming or not, you ought to question the bona fides of ClimateCounts given its roots - Stonyfield Farm's dubious marketing and Fenton Communications' fear profiteering.


Icebergs good for marine life

Icebergs released into Antarctic waters by global warming [released by LOCAL warming would be more accurate] are hotspots for wildlife, researchers have found. The break-up of Antarctic ice shelves has increased dramatically the number of icebergs and they have proved an unexpectedly rich habitat. Nutrients released into the water by the melting ice promote the growth of phytoplankton, which attract krill, which are then preyed on by bigger animals such as whales. Sea areas that would normally be barren - up to two miles (3km) from the icebergs - have become rich in animal life, including a variety of fish.

Among the birds observed by scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, in the US, were Cape petrels and Antarctic fulmars. Penguins, whales and seals are attracted by the krill and fish.

Almost 1,000 icebergs were counted in 4,300 sq miles (11,000 sq km) of the Weddell Sea, and scientists calculated that overall they had increased the "biological productivity" in nearly 40 per cent of the sea. Life thrives in such quantities around the icebergs studied that the researchers describe them as free-floating estuaries. "We envision free-drifting icebergs in the Weddell Sea as hotspots of continual micro-nutrient release that sustain the accompanying attached and pelagic communities," they say in their report, published in the journal Science."

The researchers suggest that the eruption of life around the icebergs could be helping to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Some of the greenhouse gas is absorbed by the ocean and, in turn, by animal life which, when it dies, can sink to the seabed where the carbon is trapped. Because more animal life is being created in the region there is more that can sink to the sea floor and therefore increase the quantity of carbon removed from the atmosphere. "Free-drifting icebergs could serve as areas of increased production and sequestration of organic carbon to the deep sea, a process unaccounted-for in current global carbon budgets," they say.


Rediscovered: Prophecies are almost always wrong

More than 100 studies have found that experts are often poor forecasters. In one survey Professor Philip Tetlock, of the University of California at Berkeley, obtained 82,361 forecasts from 284 academics, other commentators and professional advisers in the areas of politics and economics. The experts had to select one of three answers (that a situation would not change or would get better or get worse).

The experts performed more poorly than they would have done had they allocated forecasts at random. As an article on Tetlock by Louis Menand in The New Yorker put it: "Human beings who spend their lives studying the state of the world, in other words, are poorer forecasters than dart-throwing monkeys, who would have distributed their picks evenly over the three choices." Tetlock found that the more famous the commentators or forecasters, the more unreliable their forecasts.

Given the compelling evidence for the futility of predictions in many fields, why do they continue to be made by experts and eagerly consumed by most of us? Taleb speculates it's because human nature craves explanations. When we were evolving as hunter-gatherers, those of us who could make snap judgments about simple matters, such as whether a stranger was an enemy or the direction in which prey had run off, survived. Our ancestors had to explain something to themselves quickly and then act on that explanation. We also needed explanations for other simple but important phenomena, such as the significance of changing seasons for living arrangements.

Taleb proposes that as result of this, human nature has a hunger for explanations that overrides everything else, even intelligence. Most of us cannot tolerate uncertainty about things that are important to us, to the point where a bad explanation is better than no explanation. So our hearts avidly consume predictions even though our heads know that the future is unpredictable.

Taleb doesn't say so, but this theory could explain why predictions have become more common with the decline of religion and its explanation of the (long-term) future. Human nature abhors a vacuum. (At this point in the column I'd planned to drop in G.K. Chesterton's famous comment that a person who no longer believes in God will believe in anything. Unfortunately, Taleb didn't use those words, although he came close several times.)

Our craving for explanations applies not just to the future, but to the past. Taleb suggests most of the explanations given by historians for important events are unprovable or demonstrably wrong. One example is the popular historians' view that World War I was seen as inevitable by contemporaries due to a series of mounting tensions and escalating crises. I recall having to regurgitate this view when invited to explain the causes of the war in my School Certificate examination. But the historian Niall Ferguson has shown, by looking at the prices of British imperial bonds that reflected investors' views on the government's future financing needs, that well-informed people had no idea war was coming.

Taleb calls this need to impose explanations on the flux of facts of which life consists the "narrative fallacy". We find too many facts impossible to handle, maybe because life now is far more complex than when we evolved in the Pleistocene era. As soon as the flux starts to confuse us, we embrace ideas prematurely and then cling to them through "confirmation bias", ignoring or downplaying evidence that contradicts them. We tend to like the explanations that those around us like, because this promotes group solidarity.

Experts in non-testable areas of knowledge are just as susceptible to this as the rest of us. Knowledge can inform a choice of explanation. Beyond that, it can make it more "sticky", harder to change. The danger with experts in many fields is that while their judgments might be no better than ours, their capacity to (apparently) justify those judgments is far greater.

What do we miss when we seek to understand the flux of randomness with false explanations? Taleb believes most of us underestimate the role played by chance and by the improbable. What is portrayed as merit in careers and lives is often just luck.



I regret that your report (Feb 22) on Isaac Newton's beliefs failed to put them into any historical context. What is noteworthy about recent research is not that Newton was an "apocalyptic" thinker: all Protestant scholars in 17th-century Britain held such views. The apocalyptic consensus is not difficult to understand, given that any departure from the literal reading of the Book of Revelation was considered heresy. Edmond Halley, who was confronted with this accusation in 1691, presented papers to the Royal Society on "the necessity of the world's coming to an end", to prove "that I am not guilty of asserting the eternity of the world".

In Newton's days nearly everyone believed in heavenly retribution and the catastrophic end of the world. The Church worked hard to scare an insubordinate flock, while political radicals prophesied cometary disaster and social upheaval. Newton, in contrast, kept publicly quiet on the subject for most of his life. He endeavoured to discredit both camps by debunking their shared belief in impending doomsday.

In the unpublished manuscripts referred to, Newton did ponder the end of the world "in the year of the Lord 2060", but stressed: "I mention this period not to assert it, but only to show that there is little reason to expect it earlier, and thereby to put a stop to the rash conjectures of interpreters who are frequently assigning the time of the end, and thereby bringing the sacred prophecies into discredit as often as their conjectures do not come to pass. It is not for us to know the times and seasons which God hath put in his own breast."

By pushing back a tentative date for the apocalypse by more than 500 years (if not advocating an indefinite point in time), Newton assailed both an over-zealous orthodoxy and political radicals whose fanaticism had led to a century of mayhem and who threatened the stability of British society. Far from being a prophet of doom, Newton calculatingly established the foundations of the scientific age that turned terrifying comets into predictable objects and wild fear-mongering into dispassionate risk analysis.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, June 23, 2007


An email from noted British science writer, David Whitehouse []

The new report by the BBC Trust is to be welcomed very much by all those who care for the practical expression of the highest journalistic standards and the fair reporting of climate change and not just the illustration of the consensus viewpoint, as has been happening at the BBC.

Part of the BBC Trust report states: "Climate change is another subject where dissenters can be unpopular. There may be now a broad scientific consensus that climate change is definitely happening, and that it is at least predominantly man-made. But the second part of that consensus still has some intelligent and articulate opponents, even if a small minority."

It's easy to over interpret words but pay attention to the phrase "there MAY be a broad scientific consensus." It will be interesting if this viewpoint by the BBC's ultimate governing body reaches the news bulletins.

The next section of the report is also interesting. "Jana Bennett, Director of Television, argued at the seminar that 'as journalists, we have the duty to understand where the weight of the evidence has got to. And that is an incredibly important thing in terms of public understanding - equipping citizens, informing the public as to what's going to happen or not happen possibly over the next couple of hundred years.'

Roger Mosey, Director of Sport, said that in his former job as head of TV News, he had been lobbied by scientists 'about what they thought was a disproportionate number of people denying climate change getting on our airwaves and being part of a balanced discussion - because they believe, absolutely sincerely, that climate change is now scientific fact."

I don't think anyone would argue that climate change was not a scientific fact or that it is always happening, for one reason or another. But behind those comments one can see that some scientists, or groups of them, have clearly learned the techniques of lobbying the media from political parties in order to get their own viewpoint expressed and limit the viewpoint of those whom they disagree with....

It seems that such lobbying had an effect on BBC News climate change coverage, as they admitted in their own words. In November 2005 the BBC had already decided that the science of global warming was established and that because in their view the number of sceptics was 'dwindling' the contrary viewpoint was irrelevant so that they did not have to report it.....

But now that has changed. The Trust has recognised that the climate change coverage on BBC News was not impartial news coverage but a de facto campaign. The BBC Trust report again:

"The BBC has held a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus. But these dissenters (or even sceptics) will still be heard, as they should, because it is not the BBC's role to close down this debate. They cannot be simply dismissed as 'flat-earthers' or 'deniers', who 'should not be given a platform' by the BBC. Impartiality always requires a breadth of view: for as long as minority opinions are coherently and honestly expressed, the BBC must give them appropriate space.

'Bias by elimination' is even more offensive today than it was in 1926. The BBC has many public purposes of both ambition and merit - but joining campaigns to save the planet is not one of them. The BBC's best contribution is to increase public awareness of the issues and possible solutions through impartial and accurate programming."

Personally it is heartening that the BBC Trust recognise what has been going on as I have previously argued that what was happening was bias by elimination. I also hope that the BBC will decide not to use the phrase 'climate change deniers' as it is inaccurate and pejorative.

The BBC Trust report continues: "Acceptance of a basic scientific consensus only sharpens the need for hawk-eyed scrutiny of the arguments surrounding both causation and solution. It remains important that programme-makers relish the full range of debate that such a central and absorbing subject offers, scientifically, politically and ethically, and avoid being misrepresented as standard-bearers."

These are wise words and not before time. The only standard the BBC should be bearing is good journalism and it is good that, in the case of climate change, the BBC Trust has reminded them of that.

Climate change: don't spoil a good story with facts

Gore's film, telecast last year, declared that it is now certain that increased greenhouse gas emissions, particularly CO2, would lead to melting ice-caps, more hurricanes, more droughts and deserts, rising sea-levels which would make some countries uninhabitable, disastrous food shortages, increasing numbers of heat-related deaths, widespread species extinction, and other calamities.

But is it true? Many highly respected meteorologists and climate scientists do not agree.

In a recent address, Professor Bob Carter, from the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University of North Queensland, highlighted the reality as opposed to the propaganda of climate change.

He said that much of the public discussion on global warming was underpinned by two partly self-contradictory assumptions. The first is that there is a "consensus" of qualified scientists that dangerous human-induced global warming is upon us; and the second is that although there are "two sides to the debate", the dangerous-warming side is overwhelmingly the stronger.

He said, "Both assertions are unsustainable. The first because science is not, nor ever has been, about consensus, but about experimental and observational data and testable hypotheses.

"Second, regarding the number of sides to the debate, the reality is that small parts of the immensely complex climate system are better or less understood - depending upon the subject - by many different groups of experts."

He added, "Some key questions and answers that are relevant to the climate-change debate include the following. Is there an established Theory of Climate? Answer: no.

"Do we understand fully how climate works? No. Is carbon dioxide demonstrated to be a dangerous atmospheric pollutant? No. Can deterministic computer models predict future climate? Another no.

"Is there a consensus amongst qualified scientists that dangerous, human-caused climate change is upon us? Absolutely not. Did late 20th-century temperature rise at a dangerous rate, or to a dangerous level? No, in either case.

"Is global temperature currently rising? Surprisingly, no. And finally, is the IPCC [the International Panel on Climate Change] a scientific or a political advisory body? Answer: it is both."

Despite this, much of the media, together with outgoing UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Al Gore, British economist Nicholas Stern and others without scientific credentials, have attempted to close off discussion by asserting that the debate is over.

Professor Carter said, "Human-caused global warming has become the environmental cause celebre of the early 21st century. The strong-warming alarmist camp currently includes the United Nations, most Western governments, most of the free press, many large corporations (including Enron, before it failed), the major churches, most scientific organisations and a large portion of general public opinion.

"This phalanx of support notwithstanding, there is no scientific consensus as to the danger of human-induced climate change. There is, therefore, a strong conflict between the level of public alarm and its scientific justification. How can this be?"

He added, "In a democracy, the media serve to convey to the public the facts and hypotheses of climate change as provided by individual scientists, governmental and international research agencies, and NGO and other lobby groups. "In general, the media have promulgated an alarmist cause for climate change; they have certainly failed to convey the degree of uncertainty that is characteristic of climate science, or a balanced summary of the many essential facts that are relevant to human causation."


Winnipeg River: Better than Ever

There is little doubt that increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will generally cause the Earth to warm and alter precipitation patterns in various parts of the globe. Changes in precipitation and temperature will thereby impact hydrological systems, and the global warming alarmists love to show images of floods or dried-up streams to make the threat of the anthropogenic greenhouse effect look as bad as possible. Indeed, the global warming scare has deep roots in the drought of 1988 over the southeastern United States that created an anomalous low flow on the Mississippi River (recall headlines about the Mississippi River drying up?). If you have forgotten, the summer of 1988 also gave us the huge wildfires of the West (Yellowstone Park burned in that summer and fall) as well as Hurricane Gilbert, and those images of how global warming will impact us have lived on powerfully ever since.

The literature on how the enhanced greenhouse effect will alter streams and rivers shows us everything from floods to record-breaking low flows, and of course, both will be bad for humans and natural ecosystems. Floods are definitely bad, but in low flow situations, agriculture will be severely impacted, direct human use of water would need to be curtailed, and if the stream provides hydropower, the impacts can be severe in the energy sector.

Canada is a mid-to-high latitude, northern hemispheric land mass where global warming is expected to be far greater than in other parts of the world, and this warming will surely be felt by the streams across their country. An article has appeared in a recent issue of Journal of Hydrology entitled "Streamflow in the Winnipeg River Basin, Canada: Trends, Extremes and Climate Linkages" by Scott St. George of the Geological Survey of Canada and the University of Arizona. The final sentence of the abstract caught our eye as he wrote "the potential threats to water supply faced by the Canadian Prairie provinces over the next few decades will not include decreasing streamflow in the Winnipeg River basin." We knew immediately that we had a Winnipeg winner on the line! Let the world know that funding for his work was provided by Manitoba Hydro, the Manitoba Geological Survey, the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

St. George explains that "Several Canadian provinces rely heavily on hydroelectric energy, and generate substantial revenue from the sale of electricity to other provinces and the United States. In Manitoba, hydropower provides nearly 95% of total electricity production." The Winnipeg River (Figure 1) is a major player in the hydropower game, and for a variety of reasons, this river is the focus of his research. St. George collected flow gauge, temperature, and precipitation data from throughout the basin from 1924 to 2003 and performed extensive statistical analyses on trends in the data as well as on the relationship through time between streamflow and climate.

Well, contrary to what the global warming crusade would lead you to believe, there is good news from the Great White North. St. George states "Trend analysis indicates that mean annual flows of the Winnipeg River have increased substantially since 1924." As seen in the figure below of monthly flow levels, six meet the "statistically significant" criterion, all six show an increase in flow, and the six months with substantial increases in discharge all occur in the winter season. St. George notes "the presence of similar trends at upstream gauges demonstrates that direct anthropogenic interference in the hydrological system is not the primary cause of these changes." These trends are real, robust, and statistically significant.

Is global warming causing snow to melt thereby increasing the flow in the winter season? Absolutely not. St. George discovers that "Streamflow between October and March is most strongly related to precipitation between August and October, with significant relationships observed using lags up to 6 months." Sure enough, he finds that "Rising winter discharge across the basin has coincided with increasing annual and seasonal precipitation" and that "This change largely reflects increases in summer (May-July) and autumn (August-October) precipitation, as no significant trends were observed for winter (November to January) precipitation."

Recall that the author collected temperature data for the study area, and if you are not a sworn believer in global warming, please have a look at this sentence "No significant trends were identified in annual, monthly or seasonalised temperature records." This alone is an astounding finding and very little comment about it appears in the paper. Recall that climate models predict the greatest warming to occur in interior portions of large landmasses of the Northern Hemisphere. St. George collects temperature data for this area in interior Canada from 1924 to 2003 and finds no warming - amazing. Can you believe that you didn't see this on the front pages of newspapers worldwide?

If you think drought and low flows might be an ever-increasing problem in the Winnipeg River Basin, St. George found that the year of lowest flow was 1977 (back in the hey-day of the global cooling scare). The next lowest flow in his 1924-2003 study period was in 1931, followed by 1988, 1932, 1940, 2003, 1911, 1941, 1930, and 1981 (you do the math)! Years of highest river discharge, from record high to lower, are 1974, 1966, 2001, 1927, 1969, 1950, 1970, 1965, 1971, and 1997.

St. George gathers the data, finds an increase in summer precipitation (we are sure the agricultural community is disappointed in having more summer rain), no change in temperature (not likely going over well in the climate alarmist camp), more discharge in the Winnipeg River (and we presume an increase in hydropower production), and no changes in flooding or low flows. In the final sentence he writes again "it seems likely that the potential threats to water supply faced by the Canadian Prairie provinces over the next few decades will not include decreasing streamflow in the Winnipeg River basin." Enough said!



You have probably heard that China is building new coal-fired power plants at the rate of one every week to 10 days. In late 2004, the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reported that three countries-the United States, China, and India-are planning to build nearly 850 new coal plants, "which would pump up to five times as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce." These new plants will "bury" Kyoto.

CSM elaborated: "By 2012, the plants in three key countries - China, India, and the United States - are expected to emit as much as an extra 2.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide, according to a Monitor analysis of power-plant construction data. In contrast, Kyoto countries by that year are supposed to have cut their CO2 emissions by some 483 million tons."

These numbers don't tell the whole story, because coal is surging all around the world, not just in the Big Three countries. As CSM observes: "With natural gas prices expected to continue rising, 58 other nations have 340 new coal-fired plants in various stages of development. They are expected to go online in a decade or so. Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, and Turkey are all planning significant new coal-fired power additions. Germany also plans to build eight coal plants with 6,000 megawatts capacity."

A more recent article reports that Germany-yes, oh-so-green, bullish-on-Kyoto Germany-is planning to build 26 new coal-fired power plants. And now comes a report that demand for thermal coal in Russia is expected to triple by 2020, with coal-based generation doubling its share of Russian power production from about 20 percent to 38-40 percent. The upshot of all this should be, but isn't, obvious to folks on Capitol Hill. Kyoto-style regulation is at best a costly exercise in futility.


Greenie toilet stupidity comes to Australia

As usual, all it achieves is to inconvenience people

With mounting horror, customers at the Candana Designs fancy bathroom shop in Woollahra read the large sign erected in the toilet section: "To comply with Australian Standards all toilets are required to flush with a maximum of six litres of water. In order to comply with this regulation, manufacturers have reduced the size of the 'throat' inside the toilet pan. In most cases this necessitates using a toilet brush after flushing and flushing a second time." In other words, to flush a toilet properly, you'll need to flush twice and use 12 litres of water - which is more than the amount used by the old nine-litre toilets with wider "throats", which are better at ingesting potential blockages.

Thousands of years of sanitation and a drought have brought us to this point: toilets that don't do what toilets are supposed to do. That famous 19th-century British pioneer of sanitary plumbing, Thomas Crapper, would be rolling in his grave. Thanks to new federal regulations which came into force on January 1, it is now illegal to install a toilet that does not have a six-star water efficiency rating.

According to Marc Reed, managing director of Candana Designs, the feeble flush of the new eco-friendly toilet has made a lot of customers hopping mad. "We've had numerous complaints from people who . are paying $2000 for a toilet . and say it's not flushing. The old toilets used to flush everything away. But with the six-litre, it only takes 80 per cent of the waste away and you have to flush it again - which means you're using more water than you used to." As a result, Reed says, there is now a growing market for second-hand toilets.

While six-litre/three-litre flush toilets have been the norm for new houses for years, to the average consumer, new water-efficient toilets mean a lot more action with the toilet brush and the constant threat of blockages. It's not a matter often referred to in polite company, but the toilet is nonetheless something Australians use, on average, five times a day, accounting for one quarter of household water use. As those who have experienced a new eco toilet know, having to flush several times is not the worst of it. There is also the problem of what is known in the trade as "marking", as the water sits lower down the bowl, leaving exposed vast expanses of vitreous china.

A narrower throat also means more blockages. If you happen to have an over-zealous user of toilet paper in your family, colloquially known as the "scruncher", this is inclined to happen regularly.

Often children will continually flush the toilet in an attempt to hide the evidence of their profligacy. The inevitable result is water that rises and rises and rises as you stare transfixed, feet stuck to the floor as it reaches the rim, and then subsides, or doesn't, in which case your feet are stuck to the floor in more ways than one. You can find yourself channelling Peter Sellers's character Hrundi V. Bakshi from The Party. The water-conscious are fond of saying "if it's yellow, let it mellow", but if it's brown it's supposed to flush down, not erupt all over your bathroom floor.

Australia's foremost toilet expert is Dr Steve Cummings, head of research and development at Australian manufacturer Caroma, inventor of the dual flush toilet. In an interview this week that would make Kenny proud, he explained that Caroma has spent "hundreds of thousands of hours" designing its eco-friendly toilets, test-driving new designs at its Wetherill Park laboratory, where artificial materials are used to monitor the flush.

Unlike many imported brands, Caroma has not sacrificed throat size to increase suction. "We've put a lot of effort into fine-tuning the design of the pan and the cistern," he says. "If you design a toilet properly . if the toilet seat, the water surface area and the user are ergonomically aligned . the target area [should be hit]." He does point out that much "depends on the diet" of the user, which may account for some of the "enormous problems" with blockages that occur in America.

Caroma's sales in the US have doubled in the past year, as water consciousness takes hold, and the old super-sized 20-litre American models are outlawed. Cummings says he has had just a handful of complaints about Caroma's eco-friendly toilets. "The toilet brush has been around since the 19th century," he says, not very sympathetically. "Some people just don't want to clean the toilet." In the US, he warns, "they have plungers".

And there's much more to come. Caroma's Smartflush uses just 4.5 litres/three litres. Its new waterless urinal, the H2Zero Cube, last month won the Australian Design Awards' inaugural sustainability prize. Its secret is a one-way airtight valve that would save 2 million litres of water a year in the average office building. Worried about the smell without water? There is a built-in deodoriser, activated by the heat of the urine. Hmmm.

As the rain pours down on Sydney this week, we are left with these absurd legacies of the drought, from small-throated toilets to dribbling showers to Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull's latest discussion paper about putting recycled sewage into our drinking water. But no new dam for Sydney has emerged for discussion, as the population continues to grow.

Meanwhile, on the South Coast, at Braidwood and Hillview and Nerriga, near where the Welcome Reef Dam would have been built on the Shoalhaven River, rainfall recorded in the past 20 days was 150 millimetres, 181 millimetres and 274 millimetres respectively. That would have been a nice start for a dam, not to mention saving wear and tear on the toilet brushes of 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 generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, June 22, 2007


Big chill hits Queensland, Australia. (Queensland is about the size of California and Texas combined)

BONE-chilling winds of up to 75km/h have blasted through southeast Queensland, bringing down trees, powerlines and even a brick wall. The southwesterly winds saw Brisbane record its lowest June temperature on record. A maximum of 13.1C was recorded at the airport but the wind chill factor dragged this down to only 5.6C.

At a Fortitude Valley construction site, a freestanding wall collapsed on to a neighbouring unit block at about 5am, hammering the roof with up to 80 concrete bricks. Builder Ivano Berlese said it was a "freak of nature". "It really must have come through here hard, because the wheelie bins were all blown over and there was a power line down in another street," he said. Five people were evacuated from the top floor of the building at about 5:30am and allowed back in briefly a few hours later, to pick up some belongings.

The wind was also blamed for halting train services on the Cleveland line, after blowing debris on to overhead wires. Queensland Rail said buses were organised to transport passengers between Lindum and Cleveland, during the morning peak. Fallen trees and branches also caused disruption to traffic and power supply. More than 4000 homes and businesses were blacked out across southeast Queensland throughout the day.

The Lockyer Valley, Gatton, Dayboro and the Sunshine Coast fared the worst. Brisbane escaped relatively unscathed from blackouts. The cold snap pushed southeast Queensland electricity usage to its highest this winter as people turned on power-hungry reverse cycle airconditioners and heaters.

Weather bureau statistician Ann Farrell said the previous June record for the airport was 13.9C in 1958 and the coldest overall was 10.6C in August 1954. Toowoomba was worse off, recording a wind chill temperature of -9.3C overnight, with parts of the Darling Downs reporting a blast of early morning sleet and snow. At noon it had risen to -3.8C. All of the Downs and Granite Belt reported extremely cold conditions, with Warwick 1C at 2pm and Applethorpe -1.2C, thanks again to the wind. Overnight Brisbane dipped down to -2.5C, allowing for the wind factor.

Ms Farrell said overcast conditions had caused the temperature to be about 5C lower than predicted. "Once cloud cover comes over and it combines with cold air, the temperatures won't go up," she said. Better conditions are predicted for today although it will remain cold, with clear skies. Moreton Bay was no place to be with gusts recorded to 76km/h at the Inner Beacon, about halfway between the mainland and Moreton Island.


Read the sunspots

The heading on the post above was satirical. This post is not: The mud at the bottom of B.C. fjords reveals that solar output drives climate change - and that we should prepare now for dangerous global cooling

By R. TIMOTHY PATTERSON. R. Timothy Patterson is professor and director of the Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, Canada

Politicians and environmentalists these days convey the impression that climate-change research is an exceptionally dull field with little left to discover. We are assured by everyone from David Suzuki to Al Gore to Prime Minister Stephen Harper that "the science is settled." At the recent G8 summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel even attempted to convince world leaders to play God by restricting carbon-dioxide emissions to a level that would magically limit the rise in world temperatures to 2C.

The fact that science is many years away from properly understanding global climate doesn't seem to bother our leaders at all. Inviting testimony only from those who don't question political orthodoxy on the issue, parliamentarians are charging ahead with the impossible and expensive goal of "stopping global climate change." Liberal MP Ralph Goodale's June 11 House of Commons assertion that Parliament should have "a real good discussion about the potential for carbon capture and sequestration in dealing with carbon dioxide, which has tremendous potential for improving the climate, not only here in Canada but around the world," would be humorous were he, and even the current government, not deadly serious about devoting vast resources to this hopeless crusade.

Climate stability has never been a feature of planet Earth. The only constant about climate is change; it changes continually and, at times, quite rapidly. Many times in the past, temperatures were far higher than today, and occasionally, temperatures were colder. As recently as 6,000 years ago, it was about 3C warmer than now. Ten thousand years ago, while the world was coming out of the thousand-year-long "Younger Dryas" cold episode, temperatures rose as much as 6C in a decade -- 100 times faster than the past century's 0.6C warming that has so upset environmentalists.

Climate-change research is now literally exploding with new findings. Since the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the field has had more research than in all previous years combined and the discoveries are completely shattering the myths. For example, I and the first-class scientists I work with are consistently finding excellent correlations between the regular fluctuations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate. This is not surprising. The sun and the stars are the ultimate source of all energy on the planet.

My interest in the current climate-change debate was triggered in 1998, when I was funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council strategic project grant to determine if there were regular cycles in West Coast fish productivity. As a result of wide swings in the populations of anchovies, herring and other commercially important West Coast fish stock, fisheries managers were having a very difficult time establishing appropriate fishing quotas. One season there would be abundant stock and broad harvesting would be acceptable; the very next year the fisheries would collapse. No one really knew why or how to predict the future health of this crucially important resource.

Although climate was suspected to play a significant role in marine productivity, only since the beginning of the 20th century have accurate fishing and temperature records been kept in this region of the northeast Pacific. We needed indicators of fish productivity over thousands of years to see whether there were recurring cycles in populations and what phenomena may be driving the changes.

My research team began to collect and analyze core samples from the bottom of deep Western Canadian fjords. The regions in which we chose to conduct our research, Effingham Inlet on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, and in 2001, sounds in the Belize-Seymour Inlet complex on the mainland coast of British Columbia, were perfect for this sort of work. The topography of these fjords is such that they contain deep basins that are subject to little water transfer from the open ocean and so water near the bottom is relatively stagnant and very low in oxygen content. As a consequence, the floors of these basins are mostly lifeless and sediment layers build up year after year, undisturbed over millennia.

Using various coring technologies, we have been able to collect more than 5,000 years' worth of mud in these basins, with the oldest layers coming from a depth of about 11 metres below the fjord floor. Clearly visible in our mud cores are annual changes that record the different seasons: corresponding to the cool, rainy winter seasons, we see dark layers composed mostly of dirt washed into the fjord from the land; in the warm summer months we see abundant fossilized fish scales and diatoms (the most common form of phytoplankton, or single-celled ocean plants) that have fallen to the fjord floor from nutrient-rich surface waters. In years when warm summers dominated climate in the region, we clearly see far thicker layers of diatoms and fish scales than we do in cooler years. Ours is one of the highest-quality climate records available anywhere today and in it we see obvious confirmation that natural climate change can be dramatic. For example, in the middle of a 62-year slice of the record at about 4,400 years ago, there was a shift in climate in only a couple of seasons from warm, dry and sunny conditions to one that was mostly cold and rainy for several decades.

Using computers to conduct what is referred to as a "time series analysis" on the colouration and thickness of the annual layers, we have discovered repeated cycles in marine productivity in this, a region larger than Europe. Specifically, we find a very strong and consistent 11-year cycle throughout the whole record in the sediments and diatom remains. This correlates closely to the well-known 11-year "Schwabe" sunspot cycle, during which the output of the sun varies by about 0.1%. Sunspots, violent storms on the surface of the sun, have the effect of increasing solar output, so, by counting the spots visible on the surface of our star, we have an indirect measure of its varying brightness. Such records have been kept for many centuries and match very well with the changes in marine productivity we are observing.

In the sediment, diatom and fish-scale records, we also see longer period cycles, all correlating closely with other well-known regular solar variations. In particular, we see marine productivity cycles that match well with the sun's 75-90-year "Gleissberg Cycle," the 200-500-year "Suess Cycle" and the 1,100-1,500-year "Bond Cycle." The strength of these cycles is seen to vary over time, fading in and out over the millennia. The variation in the sun's brightness over these longer cycles may be many times greater in magnitude than that measured over the short Schwabe cycle and so are seen to impact marine productivity even more significantly.

Our finding of a direct correlation between variations in the brightness of the sun and earthly climate indicators (called "proxies") is not unique. Hundreds of other studies, using proxies from tree rings in Russia's Kola Peninsula to water levels of the Nile, show exactly the same thing: The sun appears to drive climate change.

However, there was a problem. Despite this clear and repeated correlation, the measured variations in incoming solar energy were, on their own, not sufficient to cause the climate changes we have observed in our proxies. In addition, even though the sun is brighter now than at any time in the past 8,000 years, the increase in direct solar input is not calculated to be sufficient to cause the past century's modest warming on its own. There had to be an amplifier of some sort for the sun to be a primary driver of climate change.

Indeed, that is precisely what has been discovered. In a series of groundbreaking scientific papers starting in 2002, Veizer, Shaviv, Carslaw, and most recently Svensmark et al., have collectively demonstrated that as the output of the sun varies, and with it, our star's protective solar wind, varying amounts of galactic cosmic rays from deep space are able to enter our solar system and penetrate the Earth's atmosphere. These cosmic rays enhance cloud formation which, overall, has a cooling effect on the planet. When the sun's energy output is greater, not only does the Earth warm slightly due to direct solar heating, but the stronger solar wind generated during these "high sun" periods blocks many of the cosmic rays from entering our atmosphere. Cloud cover decreases and the Earth warms still more.

The opposite occurs when the sun is less bright. More cosmic rays are able to get through to Earth's atmosphere, more clouds form, and the planet cools more than would otherwise be the case due to direct solar effects alone. This is precisely what happened from the middle of the 17th century into the early 18th century, when the solar energy input to our atmosphere, as indicated by the number of sunspots, was at a minimum and the planet was stuck in the Little Ice Age. These new findings suggest that changes in the output of the sun caused the most recent climate change. By comparison, CO2 variations show little correlation with our planet's climate on long, medium and even short time scales.

In some fields the science is indeed "settled." For example, plate tectonics, once highly controversial, is now so well-established that we rarely see papers on the subject at all. But the science of global climate change is still in its infancy, with many thousands of papers published every year. In a 2003 poll conducted by German environmental researchers Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch, two-thirds of more than 530 climate scientists from 27 countries surveyed did not believe that "the current state of scientific knowledge is developed well enough to allow for a reasonable assessment of the effects of greenhouse gases." About half of those polled stated that the science of climate change was not sufficiently settled to pass the issue over to policymakers at all.

Solar scientists predict that, by 2020, the sun will be starting into its weakest Schwabe solar cycle of the past two centuries, likely leading to unusually cool conditions on Earth. Beginning to plan for adaptation to such a cool period, one which may continue well beyond one 11-year cycle, as did the Little Ice Age, should be a priority for governments. It is global cooling, not warming, that is the major climate threat to the world, especially Canada. As a country at the northern limit to agriculture in the world, it would take very little cooling to destroy much of our food crops, while a warming would only require that we adopt farming techniques practiced to the south of us.

Meantime, we need to continue research into this, the most complex field of science ever tackled, and immediately halt wasted expenditures on the King Canute-like task of "stopping climate change."


Greenies don't WANT CO2 levels reduced

Except by inflicting suffering on us, of course

A clash with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is threatening to scuttle a U.S. company's plan to "seed" the Pacific Ocean with iron dust to offset global warming. Planktos Inc., which has offices in Vancouver and San Francisco, wants to set sail this month from Florida to dump more than 45 tonnes of iron dust into the sea near the Galapagos Islands. The iron nutrients would stimulate the growth of phytoplankton, which would then absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide -- an experimental process Planktos compares to reforestation.

A for-profit "ecorestoration" company, Planktos plans to sell carbon credits from this and other projects to firms such as Vancouver's Wedgewood Hotel and Spa, which has agreed to buy 5,000 tonnes of carbon credits. The firm launched its "Voyage of Recovery" program in March, mustering its supplies and launching a public relations campaign in Washington, D.C., to promote its "green message of hope."

But in May, the EPA warned the firm it may need a permit under the U.S. Ocean Dumping Act if it uses its U.S.-registered vessel, the Weatherbird II. Planktos CEO Russ George says U.S. regulations should apply only when a firm dumps levels of a substance that are one per cent or more above the level considered toxic. His firm's plan would fall "roughly a billion times below regulatory limit," he said.

If the EPA stands in his way, he says he will use a flag-of-convenience ship. "There are 42,000 large vessels on the ocean in world today. We have shipping agents in Central America working for us lining up vessels that might be able to assist."

Planktos' controversial plan, which has drawn fire from environmental groups and many scientists, will be on the agenda of this week's meeting of the International Maritime Organization in Spain, which sets international shipping standards for matters such as ocean dumping.

In a submission to the group, of which both Canada and the U.S. are members, the American government urges other nations to scrutinize any such project, adding that "Planktos was not able to provide the EPA with any information ... (on) the potential environmental impacts" of the plan. In particular, the U.S. cites the possibility that the project would lead to toxic algae blooms, and that the decomposing plankton masses would release other greenhouse gases or choke off the oxygen supply in the deep ocean.

Nonsense, says Mr. George. "The world has spent the last 20 years and more than $100 million" developing the science behind the plan, he says. "These questions have all been addressed," he says, blaming the EPA's reservations on "fearmongering" by environmental groups, such as the Ottawa-based ETC Group, which discovered the U.S. government document this week. He adds that the plan would not only draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, but by restoring dwindling plankton levels, it would help reverse the ongoing acidification of the ocean -- a climate-change-related process that is killing the planet's coral reefs.


Why not tie carbon taxes to actual levels of warming? Both skeptics and alarmists should expect their wishes to be answered

After much effort, G8 leaders last week agreed to "stabilize greenhouse-gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." This is the same wording as in Article Two of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed in 1992. In other words, after months of negotiations, world leaders agreed on a text they had already ratified 15 years earlier.

Global-warming policy is stuck in a permanent stalemate for very basic reasons. Important divisions of opinion still exist on the extent of humanity's influence on climate, whether or not the situation is a crisis, whether and how much greenhouse-gas emissions should be cut, if so how to do it, and what is the most we should be prepared to pay in the process. With this stalemate in mind, I would like to propose a thought experiment about a climate policy that could, in principle, get equal support from all sides.

The approach is based on two points of expert consensus. First, most economists who have written on carbon-dioxide emissions have concluded that an emissions tax is preferable to a cap-and-trade system. The reason is that, while emission-abatement costs vary a lot, based on the target, the social damages from a tonne of carbon-dioxide emissions are roughly constant. The first ton of carbon dioxide imposes the same social cost as the last ton. In this case, it is better for policy-makers to guess the right price for emissions rather than the right cap.

Most studies that have looked at that the global cost per tonne of carbon dioxide have found it is likely to be rather low, less than US$10 per tonne. We don't know what the right emissions cap is, but, if we put a low charge on each unit of emissions, the market will find the (roughly) correct emissions cap.

Second, climate models predict that, if greenhouse gases are driving climate change, there will be a unique fingerprint in the form of a strong warming trend in the tropical troposphere, the region of the atmosphere up to 15 kilometres in altitude, over the tropics, from 20 degrees North to 20 South. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that this will be an early and strong signal of anthropogenic warming. Climate changes due to solar variability or other natural factors will not yield this pattern: only sustained greenhouse warming will do it.

Temperatures in the tropical troposphere are measured every day using weather satellites. The data are analyzed by several teams, including one at the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH) and one at Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) in California. According to the UAH team, the mean tropical tropospheric temperature anomaly (its departure from the 1979-98 average) over the past three years is 0.18C. The corresponding ing RSS estimate is 0.29C.

Now put those two ideas together. Suppose each country implements something called the T3 tax, whose U.S. dollar rate is set equal to 20 times the three-year moving average of the RSS and UAH estimates of the mean tropical tropospheric temperature anomaly, assessed per tonne of carbon dioxide, updated annually.

Based on current data, the tax would be US$4.70 per ton, which is about the median mainstream carbon-dioxide-damage estimate from a major survey published in 2005 by economist Richard Tol. The tax would be implemented on all domestic carbon-dioxide emissions, all the revenues would be recycled into domestic income tax cuts to maintain fiscal neutrality, and there would be no cap on total emissions.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, June 21, 2007


A truism among scientists and technologists is that the more the public understands what they do, the more the public will support their activities. The basic idea is that the more people know about science, the more they will love it. However, with regard to nanotechnology, new research published by the Cultural Cognition Project at the Yale Law School casts some doubt on the sunny premise that more information leads to more acceptance.

In the study, "Affect, Values, and Nanotechnology Risk Perceptions: An Experimental Investigation," researchers polled 1,850 Americans about their attitudes toward nanotechnology. Eighty-one percent of those polled had heard nothing at all (53 percent) or "just a little" (28 percent) about nanotechnology. Nevertheless, after being offered a bare bones two-sentence definition of nanotech, 89 percent of respondents had an opinion on whether the benefits (53 percent) of nanotech would outweigh the risks (36 percent).

So how could people who know nothing or almost nothing about a new technology have an opinion about its safety? Pre-existing world views, of course. "The driving force behind these snap judgments, we found, was affect: the visceral, emotional responses of our subjects, pro or con, determined how beneficial or dangerous they thought nanotechnology was likely to be," write the authors.

The researchers relying on work by social scientist Aaron Wildavsky divided Americans into four cultural groups with regard to risk perception: hierarchists, individualists, egalitarians and communitarians. Hierarchists trust experts, but believe social deviancy is very risky. Egalitarians and communitarians worry about technology, but think that social deviancy is no big deal. Individualists see risk as opportunity and so are optimistic about technology.

"Egalitarians and communitarians, for example, tend to be sensitive to claims of environmental and technological risks because ameliorating such risks justifies regulating commercial activities that generate inequality and legitimize unconstrained pursuit of self-interest," claim the researchers. "Individualists, in contrast, tend to be skeptical about such risks, in line with their concern to ward off contraction of the sphere of individual initiative. So do hierarchists, who tend to see assertions of environmental technological risks as challenging the competence of governmental and social elites." Not surprisingly, the researchers found that people who were concerned about environmental risks such as global warming and nuclear power, were also concerned about nanotechnology.

However, the Yale Cultural Cognition researchers made another more disheartening discovery. In their poll they gave a subset of 350 respondents additional facts - about two paragraphs -- about nanotechnology to see if more information would shift public risk perceptions. They found that it did. In this case, the more information people had, the more they retreated to their initial positions. Hierarchists and individualists thought nano was less risky, while egalitarians and communitarians thought it was more risky.

"One might suppose that as members of the public learn more about nanotechnology their assessments of its risk and benefits should converge. Our results suggest that exactly the opposite is likely to happen," note the researchers. What seems to be happening is that individuals use information to affirm their pre-existing cultural identities rather than evaluate risks in purely instrumental terms.

Think now of the scientists, technologists and yes, regulators who have to try to bridge these diverse cultural values. More specifically they have to figure out how to persuade communitarians and egalitarians that technology somehow affirms their values. And this is no easy task. History clearly shows technological progress that has been absolutely essential to the creation of wealth and health in the West over the past two centuries has generally provoked resistance from egalitarians and communitarians.

Scientists may themselves have cultural barriers to overcome when it comes to talking with egalitarians and communitarians. Scientists often think of themselves culturally as good egalitarians, but as pioneers on the frontiers of knowledge they are operationally individualist. In addition, scientists are supposed to change their minds in the light of new data, not seek out biased information to confirm their pre-existing theories.

Unfortunately, the Cultural Cognition researchers left the problem of how to handle these polarizing cultural values for future research. The "major conclusion" of the study is that "mere dissemination of scientifically sound information is not by itself sufficient to overcome the divisive tendencies of cultural cognition." With regard to nanotechnology, it "could go the route of nuclear power and other controversial technologies, becoming a focal point of culturally infused political conflict."


Helping along the appearance of global warming

Remember in January when the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its good friends in media trumpeted that 2006 was the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States? NOAA based that finding - which allegedly capped a nine-year warming streak "unprecedented in the historical record" - on the daily temperature data that its National Climatic Data Center gathers from about 1,221 mostly rural weather observation stations around the country.

Few people have ever seen or even heard of these small, simple-but-reliable weather stations, which quietly make up what NOAA calls its United States Historical Climatology Network (USHCN). But the stations play an important role in detecting and analyzing regional climate change. More ominously, they provide the official baseline historical temperature data that politically motivated global-warming alarmists like James Hansen of NASA plug into their computer climate models to predict various apocalypses.

NOAA says it uses these 1,221 weather stations -- which like the ones in Uniontown and New Castle are overseen by local National Weather Service offices and usually tended to by volunteers -- because they have been providing reliable temperature data since at least 1900. But Anthony Watts of Chico, Calif., suspects NOAA temperature readings are not all they're cracked up to be. As the former TV meteorologist explains on his sophisticated, newly hatched Web site, he has set out to do what big-time armchair-climate modelers like Hansen and no one else has ever done - physically quality-check each weather station to see if it's being operated properly.

To assure accuracy, stations (essentially older thermometers in little four-legged wooden sheds or digital thermometers mounted on poles) should be 100 feet from buildings, not placed on hot concrete, etc. But as photos on Watts' site show, the station in Forest Grove, Ore., stands 10 feet from an air-conditioning exhaust vent. In Roseburg, Ore., it's on a rooftop near an AC unit. In Tahoe, Calif., it's next to a drum where trash is burned. Watts, who says he's a man of facts and science, isn't jumping to any rash conclusions based on the 40-some weather stations his volunteers have checked so far. But he said Tuesday that what he's finding raises doubts about NOAA's past and current temperature reports. "I believe we will be able to demonstrate that some of the global warming increase is not from CO2 but from localized changes in the temperature-measurement environment."

Meanwhile, you probably missed the latest about 2006. As NOAA reported on May 1 - with minimum mainstream-media fanfare - 2006 actually was the second- warmest year ever recorded in America, not the first. At an annual average of 54.9 degrees F, it was a whopping 0.08 degrees cooler than 1998, still the hottest year. NOAA explained that it had updated its 2006 report "to reflect revised statistics" and "better address uncertainties in the instrumental record." This tinkering is standard procedure. NOAA always scientifically tweaks temperature readings for various reasons -- weather stations are moved to different locations, modernized, affected by increased urbanization, etc. NOAA didn't say whether it had adjusted for uncertainties caused by nearby burn barrels


Energy bill just a straw in the wind

Debate is now under way in the Senate over a sprawling bill that would impose major changes in the country's energy policy. In theory, the country could see mandates for renewable fuel use, investment in the storage of carbon dioxide and punishment for companies that engage in price gouging.

But like the massive immigration measure that failed in the Senate earlier this month, the energy package pieced together by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will likely founder unless some major deals can be brokered. There are many moving parts and competing interests, and there's only a limited amount of time to get things done.

So consider this round a dry run. After all, the massive Energy Policy Act of 2005 took four years to cobble together. But the debate is still important, because it will likely set the tone of energy policy for at least the next decade--and ultimately have direct effects on what you could end up paying for food, cars and electricity during that time.

"This is just a first ride," says Frank Maisano, a spokesman for several different energy industries in Washington. "It underscores the heavy lifting that needs to be done to get this thing through."

One of the stickiest debates involves the standard for renewable fuels. The bill includes a provision to essentially quintuple the amount of renewable motor fuels to 36 billion gallons per year by 2020.

But last week, 15 food and drink producers, including Heinz, Kellogg and Coca-Cola, sent a letter to Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warning them about the effects of such an ambitious goal and the price effects of diverting corn to ethanol production.

"[I]f our country produces anything short of a record corn crop, the changes proposed in [the bill] could deal a detrimental blow to livestock producers," the companies said, noting that food prices rose by 7.3% in the first three months of the year.

In addition, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., plans to introduce an amendment that will require utilities to use renewable fuels in at least 15% of their production of electricity, also by 2020. The idea has not been popular in the Southeast, where there is not a lot of wind energy, and firms like Southern Company are lobbying against such a proposal. Opponents of the standard argue that it will cause added costs to be passed on to consumers.

More here


Ambitious goals to fight climate change look less achievable as coal use continued to soar last year in China and India, data compiled by BP Plc showed on Tuesday. The data confirmed that China was on track to overtake the United States as the world's number one carbon emitter this year, one analyst said. "I would still say 2007, this is the year," said Gregg Marland, senior scientist at Austria's International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, and the U.S. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC).

China's CO2 emissions in 2006 were over 5.7 billion tonnes versus nearly 5.9 billion tonnes in the United States, with China up 8.5 percent and the United States falling slightly, Marland estimated on Tuesday, using the new BP data.

Coal releases more of the planet-warming greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) than any other fossil fuel. But coal was the fastest growing fuel globally worldwide last year, BP's annual Statistical Review of World Energy showed, rising at a rate that was slightly down on last year but well above the average for the last decade.

A U.N. panel of climate scientists last month said that global CO2 emissions should peak by 2015, to keep atmospheric concentration at levels which the European Union says will avoid the worst effects of climate change. Manchester University's Kevin Anderson, research director at the Tyndall Centre's energy and climate change programme, said the BP figures suggested this goal was unlikely to be reached. "None of this is pointing to peaking in 2015," Anderson said. "Without a big global policy change you're seeing very rapidly rising emissions to 2020, 2025."

G8: Last week the eight leading industrialised countries agreed to work with big developing countries to try to clinch by 2009 a new global U.N.-sponsored climate change deal, to succeed or extend the Kyoto Protocol from 2013. But they failed to agree on a target or timetable for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

No matter what developed countries agree to, it is the rapidly growing developing countries that are increasing their consumption of fossil fuels. China and India now account for nearly half of all the world's coal consumption, to power their booming economies, and their combined share rose more than 2 percentage points in 2006. "The high-carbon economies grew so fast that they out-did the rate of energy efficiency improvements in the developed world," said Christof Ruhl, BP's deputy chief economist.

Total consumption of fossil fuels -- coal, oil and natural gas -- last year dropped in most leading developed countries, including in the United States, Japan, Britain and Italy. But consumption rose in nine out of the top 10 developing countries, with notable increases in China, Saudi Arabia and India, at 8.6 percent, 5 percent and 4.8 percent respectively. The world in total last year consumed 9.6 billion tonnes of fossil fuels, in oil equivalent, versus 9.3 billion tonnes in 2005, the BP data showed.



Indians know how to talk the moralistic talk of the West too. You can't beat the Indians at talk. It is one of their major exports, after all

India will not curb its greenhouse gas emissions as long as the West continues to treat it as a 'second class global citizen' with less right to pollute than the developed world, a senior Indian environment official has said. Pradipto Ghosh, who retired last month as India's environment secretary and now sits on a committee advising India's prime minister on climate change, warned that the West must "get serious" about its own cutting emissions if it wanted progress on the issue.

His comments confirm the massive gulf between the West and the world's emerging economies a week after President Bush agreed to enter UN-sponsored climate change negotiations on condition that India and China also agreed to play their part. Mr Ghosh reiterated India's position that it would not compromise its continued 8 per cent economic growth to arrest global warming, arguing that it was historical polluters in the industrialised West who must make the first move. "The fact is that India has a very, very large number of poor people who are living in conditions of which people in the West can have no conception unless they have visited India's villages and urban slums. "The goals of addressing climate change cannot supersede our goals of maintaining our current rates of GDP growth and poverty alleviation programs, as was agreed by everyone at Kyoto," he told The Telegraph in New Delhi.

At the heart of India's position on climate change is the notion that India - whose population is predicted to reach 1.5bn by 2050 - must be allowed to pollute on a per capita basis equally with the West. That would imply drastic cuts in emissions in developed countries if the world is meet the target of keeping global warming within the generally agreed 'safe limit' of two degrees, as set out by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"The prime minister [Dr Manmohan Singh] has said that while pursuing our policies of development and poverty alleviation, we will ensure that our per capita emissions will never exceed developing countries," Mr Ghosh added. "This is our challenge to the West. 'You do the best you can, and we'll match it'. If the West thinks that India will subscribe to any long-term solution that is not based on per capita emissions then it is very misguided."

His remarks emphasise the divide which will face developed and developing nations when they meet in Bali, Indonesia in December to start negotiations on a new climate change agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012. Despite claims of a climate change 'deal' at the G8 summit last week, the meeting only served to increase Indian irritation at being treated as "petitioners not partners" at the global top table.

India's prime minister let it be known the G8 decision to deliver their final communique‚ before meeting with the G5 countries - India, China, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa - had made him question the worth of even attending the summit.

Mr Ghosh said it was now up to the world to decide how big the 'carbon pie' should be at a certain point in the future - say, 2050 - and then agree that by that date all nations should have an equal entitlement relative to their size of population. At present, the average America citizen accounts for more than 15 times the carbon emissions of the average Indian - the average Briton seven times - while in absolute terms India's emissions are predicted to surpass those of the US in 30 years time.

"This [Global warming] is a challenge for the West. Those countries have been at a tremendous party since the nineteenth century and now the party has to come to an end. It is the West that has to get serious about this problem. "India will not accept an endgame where Western people continue to pollute the earth in perpetuity at three or four time the rate of people in this country. And my impression is that China agrees.

"We see a lot of resistance to this idea [of counting emissions on a per capita basis] but the intellectual force of the idea is unassailable. We often hear from the West that 'it can't be done' or 'it's impracticable', but we say 'do the maths and make a plan to make it possible'.

In the meantime, Mr Ghosh added, India was actively taking measures to increase energy efficiency in industry and continue its economic advances while polluting at a far slower rate than the West did when undergoing the same transition. "There does seem to be a reluctance to appreciate our position," he concluded, "There seems to be an idea around that developing countries like India must accept the position of being second class global citizens in our planet. "We can only hope that this is not the frame of mind in which negotiations are approached 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 generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007


An email from Charles Warren Hunt [] of

John Brignell "says it all" on the subject of our apparently failing civilization and science's inability to assure its perpetuation. I want to express my view that the failure in this respect of science commenced about 1958 when editors were demoted and "peer review" became obligatory for publication of papers in most professional journals.

In the first place, peer review is an oxymoron: there are no "peers" for innovation. A typical early example: Galileo's "peers" fixed him good, it might be said.

And the post-1958 crowd do it every day to anything they don't like, which is anything in a field where they think they are the most knowledgeable people. I hardly know where to start to name the scientific nonsense that is taught today as fact in my own field (geology, 62 years experience); and I'm sure it must be the same in other fields.

Caribbean corals and sediments yield clues to hurricane frequency

At the time of Hurricane Katrina, it was universally asserted by Warmists that increased hurricane frequency was intimately linked to global warming. So if the hurricane activity of recent years is in fact normal and not especially high, that must mean that the temperature is normal too and that there is no significant global warming -- or am I missing something?

The recent spike in hurricane activity in the North Atlantic-a trend that some scientists blame on climate change-actually reflects a return to normal frequency after a lull in the 1970s and 1980s, a new analysis confirms.

Between 1995 and 2005, meteorologists recorded an annual average of 4.1 category-3-or-stronger hurricanes in the North Atlantic and the Caribbean. Such hurricanes exhibit steady wind speeds exceeding 178 kilometers per hour. From 1971 through 1994, however, an average of only 1.5 such hurricanes swept through the same region each year, says K. Halimeda Kilbourne, a paleoclimatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo.

Two factors thought to strongly influence hurricane formation are wind shear-an atmospheric phenomenon in which adjacent layers of air move at different speeds or in different directions-and sea-surface temperature. Strong wind shear tends to rip apart tropical storms before they strengthen into hurricanes, says Kilbourne. On the other hand, a sea-surface-temperature rise can provide more energy to a hurricane as it forms.

Kilbourne and her colleagues studied a variety of marine records to estimate year-to-year variations in wind shear back to 1730. For instance, the luminescence of growth rings in coral under ultraviolet light reveals how much organic matter has been washed from land by thunderstorms, which don't form as readily or as often if wind shear is high. Also, the number of marine microorganisms in seafloor sediment-in particular, that of a species called Globigerina bulloides-indicates the upwelling of nutrient-rich waters, another measure of wind shear at the ocean's surface.

When the researchers looked for correlations between wind shear, other scientists' estimates of sea-surface temperature, and hurricane frequency, they found that wind shear has a much stronger influence in the North Atlantic than surface temperature does. They also found that large variations in hurricane frequency have been the norm, they report in the June 7 Nature.

Overall, between 1730 and 2005, the North Atlantic has experienced an average of 3.25 category-3-or-stronger hurricanes each year, says Kilbourne. However, at least six lengthy intervals since 1730 had hurricane activity comparable to today's. In general, such boosts in hurricane frequency occurred when wind shear was weak. Most periods of low hurricane activity since 1730 were marked by strong wind shear, she notes. Some of these intervals even occurred when sea-surface temperatures were higher than normal.

Other analyses of long-term natural records bolster the connection between strong wind shear and reduced hurricane frequency, says Jeffrey P. Donnelly, a coastal geologist at Woods Hole (Mass.) Oceanographic Institution. By studying sediments from a lake in Ecuador and a lagoon in eastern Puerto Rico, he and his colleagues compared the timing of hurricanes during the past 5,000 years with that of El Ni¤os-weather phenomena that increase wind shear over the North Atlantic. The researchers reported in the May 24 Nature that periods with strong, frequent El Ni¤os experienced a lower-than-average number of hurricanes.



Perhaps China should drop a nuke on Berlin. I am sure that would help concentrate minds on reality rather wonderfully. Nobody could do anything about it and a lot of Israelis would think of Exodus 21:24. It won't happen but only an insane Greenie would threaten China

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel has called for punitive duties on imports from polluters if India and China do not move to slow the growth in greenhouse gas emissions. In an interview released Saturday by the news magazine Der Spiegel, he said absolute cuts in emissions could not be demanded from India and China because they needed to raise living standards. "But we can demand from them that they use the aid we offer them to disconnect economic growth from climate damage," he said. If they did not, the West could use a "border tax" on their exports as an incentive.

He said the "climate duty" would hit products from nations which refused to take part in international action against climate change. The tax had been discussed within the European Union and Washington had been briefed, he said.

When environment ministers from emerging nations were told in Sweden a week ago that it was under study, they had protested. "Of course it needn"t come to this. The developing countries are now willing to negotiate. That's new," said Gabriel, who has chaired EU environmental policy for the past six months as part of the German EU presidency.

He was asked what would happen if the European steel or aluminium industry collapsed and production moved to China because of laxer carbon-dioxide emissions rules. "We"ll tell them, you have to pay up on your products at the border to the European Union, to the United States and to Japan," he replied.



A succinct and dignified reproof in the best British tradition

As a non-scientist I cannot have read one-hundredth of the number of scientific articles read by Robert May, yet I am familiar with at least a score (each citing a score more) questioning key parts of the theory that there is a threat of catastrophic man-made global warming. So when Lord May claims (April 6) that "not one" respected scientist is unconvinced, far from persuading me he only makes me doubtful of his other claims.

Moreover, by applying the term "denial" (with all its loaded undertones) to sceptical scientists; by referring to them inaccurately as "well funded" by the oil industry; and by likening those who stress the uncertainties of climate science to unprincipled lobbyists for tobacco companies, Lord May enters on the field of personal vilification - not a suitable place for a distinguished former President of the Royal Society.

There is a great deal more money and acceptability available to consensus scientists than to dissenters. This suggests that the work of the doubters should be taken very seriously, since it brings with it problems both of funding and of exclusion from the friendly embrace of the Establishment. I admire such people, much as I have admired other dissidents like Solzhenitsyn, Pastor Bonhoeffer - oh, and Galileo and Darwin.

Matheson & Co, 3 Lombard Street, London EC3



Pollution permits, the biggest money-loser for commodity investors this year, are poised for a rebound that may spark a 10 percent jump in electricity costs for the 260 million consumers from London to Bucharest. Prices for allowances that give utilities and factories the right to pump a ton of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will climb 20 percent in the next 12 months, according to Lueder Schumacher, an analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort in London.

The reason: Governments are handing out fewer certificates in the three-year program. So-called carbon permits, created to reduce dependence on coal and oil, boosted nuclear plant earnings for E.ON AG, Germany's largest power producer, and Finland's Fortum Oyj.

Companies from steelmaker Arcelor Mittal to industrial gas maker Air Liquide SA face electricity prices that doubled since 2004, a year before the emissions program. Clean energy doesn't come cheap," said Francisco Blanch, the head of global commodities research at Merrill Lynch & Co. in London. "If you want to reduce emissions, you are going to have to pay for more expensive power."

Permits for 2008 ended last week at 22.78 euros a ton, after reaching a 13-month high of 26 euros on May 30, according to Amsterdam's European Climate Exchange, which has the largest share of EU carbon-dioxide trading. Prices may rise to above 30 euros by 2009, according to Dresdner Kleinwort's Schumacher. Per Lekander, an analyst at UBS AG in London, predicts allowances will reach 30 euros next year. By comparison, certificates for the initial, three-year trading phase are almost worthless.

The EU emissions trading program is aimed at reducing carbon dioxide, the main gas blamed for global warming. Some 11,400 factories and power sites have been granted emissions permits, which trade on exchanges such as the ECX and the European Energy Exchange in Germany. Holders of surplus credits can sell them to companies that fail to meet their emissions restrictions, which require one permit for each metric ton of carbon dioxide produced.

Increased demand for permits may help increase earnings at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. and other financial firms, analysts said. Banks and brokerages generated as much as $12 billion in revenue from trading energy and commodities in 2006 [That's a lot of money for paperwork -- money that the average person ends up paying], said Ethan Ravage, a San Francisco-based consultant for the financial services industry. Banks don't disclose profits from emissions trading specifically. ``The gold rush is not over'' for emissions traders, he said by telephone.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Green Goodies: It's payback time for another left-leaning lobby

First came Big Labor. Then the tort lawyers. What special interest lobby remains for the Democratic majority to reward for services rendered this past election? The answer rests in the ecstatic press releases tumbling out of the nation's largest environmental groups, as they oversee the House's pending energy legislation. That is, if "energy" is the right word for West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall's green-payoff of a bill. Ostensibly the legislation is a rollback of any energy production advances of recent years. But also tucked deep in its heart is an extraordinary new tool to allow environmentalists to lock up private property across the country. Bill presented; bill paid.

Like union and trial-bar groups, the extreme environmental community forked over a hefty wad of cash last year to help put Democrats in the majority, as well as to keep key environmental allies in their seats. But they also went the extra mile, singling out Republicans viewed as most ideologically hostile to liberal green goals and targeting them in campaigns. Most Wanted was former House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo.

The Californian was an environmental innovator, one reason he leapfrogged past far more senior members of the Resources Committee to take its helm in 2003. His subsequent successes lay in getting rural-state Democrats to come along with pioneering overhauls of outdated, 1970s-style environmental policy--from the Healthy Forests Act to reform of the Endangered Species Act and public-lands drilling. Those victories, and Mr. Pombo's commitment to property rights, enraged coast-state Democrats and environmental groups, who viewed him as slightly less progressive than Attila the Hun.

Their fury was unleashed in last year's campaign. By some estimates, a half-dozen environmental groups spent north of $3 million to get Mr. Pombo sacked. Defenders of Wildlife opened an office in his Stockton district, staffed with a dozen people, for that purpose. Since most of Mr. Pombo's constituents admired him for his environmental work, their tactic was character assassination. The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund (a 527) sent out mailings with the jaw-dropping suggestion that since Mr. Pombo didn't hold a hearing about supposed abuses in the Marianas Islands (a U.S. territory) that he supported "forced abortion," "child prostitution" and "sweatshop labor." Nowhere was the word "environment" even mentioned.

The smear campaign worked. Mr. Pombo was ousted, along with other key environmentalist targets, including Arizona's J.D. Hayworth, Indiana's Chris Chocola, John Hostettler and Mike Sodrel, Kentucky's Anne Northup and North Carolina's Charles Taylor. The broader Democratic victory slipped the Resources chairmanship to Mr. Rahall, who may hail from rural West Virginia, but votes like a resurrected Rachel Carson. (Last year he earned a 92% voting score from the League of Conservation Voters, which takes effort.) With his most worthy ideological opponents banished, he's been largely free to pursue a pure green agenda, handing out goodies to the environmental crew that helped get him his job.

But first, housekeeping. In a little semantic poke to their opponents, Democrats quickly changed the title of Mr. Rahall's group to the Natural Resources Committee. This was accompanied by the heave-ho of moderate Democrats who had signed on to Mr. Pombo's reform agenda. California's Dennis Cardoza, who co-authored the species reform, was dropped, as was Louisiana's Charlie Melancon, who'd worked with Mr. Pombo on offshore drilling.

They were replaced with better spawn of Mother Earth, including Lois Capps (California), Patrick Kennedy (Rhode Island) and John Sarbanes (Maryland). Mr. Rahall also sprinkled staff jobs on greens, including from groups active in the 2006 campaign. Two of three senior policy advisers hail from Defenders of Wildlife and the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics; others come from the Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club.

These are the folks who helped write the "energy" bill that passed committee this week. Broadly, the bill fulfills one big ambition of environmental groups in recent years: a rollback of any smarter use of public (or even private) lands for energy use. Gone are previous gains for more drilling, more refineries, more transmission lines. But the big prize was an unprecedented new power allowing green groups to micromanage U.S. lands. That section creates "a new national policy on wildlife and global warming." It would require the Secretary of the Interior to "assist" species in adapting to global warming, as well as "protect, acquire and restore habitat" that is "vulnerable" to climate change. This is the Endangered Species Act on steroids. At least under today's (albeit dysfunctional) species act, outside groups must provide evidence a species is dwindling in order for the government to step in. This law would have no such requirements. Since green groups will argue that every species is vulnerable to climate change, the government will be obliged to manage every acre containing a bird, bee or flower.

It's a green dream come true, carte blanche to promulgate endless regulations barring tree-cutting, house-building, water-damming, snowmobile-riding, waterskiing, garden-planting, or any other human activity. The section is vague ("protect," "assist," "restore") precisely so as to leave the door open to practically anything. In theory, your friendly Fish & Wildlife representative could even command you to start applying sunblock to your resident chipmunks' noses.

The draft of Mr. Rahall's bill was greeted by a glowing letter from 13 environmental outfits--EarthJustice, Environmental Defense, American Rivers, the usual crew--voicing their "strong support" for the legislation. As they might, since it appears they wrote it. A May 29 letter from Defenders of the Wildlife Executive Vice President Jamie Rappaport Clark--President Clinton's onetime wilderness guru--crowed that her group "worked with committee and congressional staff as they developed" the new global warming wildlife program. She also extols the big bucks that will flow to federal and state wildlife agencies as a result of that global warming initiative.

Mr. Rahall's bill still has a long way to go. Other sections of an energy policy are still mired in the House; the Senate has yet to weigh in; and President Bush, with any luck, will veto any legislation that grants a freeze of every dirt clod in America--publicly or privately owned. Still, when it comes to rewarding their friends in the green community, don't blame House Democrats for not trying.


Global warming obsession to create noise pollution

Targets for reducing aircraft noise will have to be sacrificed to halve the climate change emissions of a new generation of airliners, easyJet said yesterday. The budget airline unveiled a model of what it described as an "eco-jet", which would use open rotor engines invented in response to the oil crisis of the 1970s. It hopes that these engines will generate 50 per cent less CO2 than those used on its current aircraft.

Manufacturers abandoned the design in the 1980s because the oil price fell and fuel efficiency became less important. The engines would be much more efficient than existing ones, but also noisier because they would have no outer shell around the rotating blades. Rolls-Royce is among several manufacturers working on open rotor engines, which are double the diameter of existing engines and produce the same amount of thrust with half the fuel. The eco-jet would also be designed to fly more slowly to save fuel, adding five to ten minutes to most journeys within Europe.

Andy Harrison, chief executive of easyJet, said: "There is a trade-off between noise and carbon dioxide emissions. We think reducing CO2 should be the priority." The aviation industry has agreed a target with the European Commission to reduce noise from new aircraft by 50 per cent by 2020. Mr Harrison said that the new jet would not be able to meet this target, but could achieve a 25 per cent reduction in the noise perceived on the ground by attaching the engines at the rear of the aircraft and using the tailfin to direct the noise upwards.

Speaking at a conference in London, he said: "This is not Star Trek. This is the future. "We at easyJet think that global warming is a near certainty and that this generation need to take action now. "Aircraft technology is an important component to achieving improvements and efficiency, and particularly environmental efficiency." He said that the new jet could enter service by 2015 but airlines would first have to persuade the leading manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, to develop it. "We are currently spending 4 billion on aircraft - they are listening to us," he said. Mr Harrison added: "The aircraft example we have unveiled today represents the next major step forward in airframe and engine technology."

The lightweight structure and open-rotor engines are based on technologies that are being developed by manufacturers. The wings of the eco-jet are swept forward rather than back in order to reduce drag. "This is realistic and it is achievable. If it were to be made available today, we would order hundreds of them for fleet replacement and to achieve the green growth that our industry has committed to." Airbus promised yesterday to increase its research budget by 25 per cent from next year and said that by 2020, all of its new aircraft would produce 50 per cent less CO2.

Budget airlines have been under fire recently from environmental groups and politicians for their contribution to global warming. According to figures from the Intergovern-mental Panel on Climate Change, airlines contribute only 2 per cent of global carbon emissions. But aviation is the fastest growing source of emissions and has no credible alternative source of fuel.

Mr Harrison said that low-cost airlines were generally more environmentally efficient than other carriers, pointing to the low average age of easyJet aircraft and a higher number of passengers per flight. He also announced that easyJet would shortly introduce a carbon offsetting scheme and had already called for 600 of Europe's oldest aircraft to be banned from the skies. He said that easyJet's contract with Airbus ran to around 2014, and would be in the market for its next generation of aircraft from 2015. "The environmental performance will be a crucial consideration in the design that we select," he said.

Richard Dyer, Friends of the Earth's aviation campaigner, said: "It is important that the aviation industry looks at ways to significantly reduce its impact on climate change. "But unless this includes massive cuts in the anticipated growth in air travel, it is unlikely to be achieved


California goes dim on lightbulb ban idea

Thomas Edison can rest in peace -- his incandescent light bulb won't be banned by California lawmakers this year after all. Legislation to phase out the common bulb was shelved this month, elbowed aside by a competing bill that sends lighting makers an ultimatum: Conserve energy, or the party's over. Assembly Bill 1109 would require the state to set an energy-efficiency standard for light bulbs that Edison's nearly 130-year-old invention can't currently meet -- but might in the future.

"We've really worked hard to make sure that we're not playing that game of picking winners and losers," said Assemblyman Jared Huffman, who crafted the bill. Supporters hail AB 1109 as a national model that would reduce electrical demand, curb emission of 6 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, and save ratepayers $3 billion per year by negating the need for five new power plants.

But opponents blast the bill as a backdoor ban on incandescents and the latest link in a chain of bills that intrude upon consumer choice. "Sacramento keeps getting into people's knickers," said Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine. "We are getting into ever-increasing levels of detail in demanding how people live their lives."

Besides the light bulb bill, the Assembly voted this month to require toilets that use less water, ban restaurants from using trans fats, and to create a $250 million program to subsidize sales of solar water heaters costing $6,000 apiece. The Assembly considered, but rejected under pressure from the auto industry, legislation designed to benefit the environment by assessing a $2,500 surcharge on the the sale of gas-guzzling vehicles to fund rebates for fuel-efficient models. "Leave people alone, and let them make their own decisions," DeVore said.

Huffman, a San Rafael Democrat, said that creating a light bulb energy standard hurts nobody. California already requires products ranging from refrigerators to air conditioners to meet efficiency targets, he said. "If we can nudge the market in a positive direction that works for the environment and works for consumers, why not do it?" Huffman said. Under AB 1109, the California Energy Commission would create standards that by 2018 would reduce electricity consumption by 50 percent for indoor lighting and 25 percent for commercial and outdoor lighting.

All three of the nation's largest bulb makers -- GE, Sylvania and Philips -- offer both incandescents and energy-efficient models, so none would be placed at a competitive disadvantage, Huffman said. The lighting industry supports the bill. The most prominent opponent, California Chamber of Commerce, objects primarily to sidestepping existing recycling programs to create one specifically for bulbs. AB 1109 was passed by the Assembly, 49-29, with most Republicans voting no. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken no position.

Michael Siminovitch, director of the California Lighting Technology Center, a project of UC Davis, said creating an energy standard is more practical than banning incandescents. "You can't just eliminate a class of technology if there's not something ready and able to replace it that will give the kinds of benefits that people expect," he said.

For Californians, the issue targets one of their most widely used and vitally needed household products, depended upon for everything from reading to dining. The prime target of Huffman's legislation is Edison's 19th century invention, the low-cost but wasteful incandescent, which converts only 5 percent of the electricity it uses into light, the remaining 95 percent into heat. GE, formerly known as General Electric, has announced plans to retain the traditional incandescent but overhaul its technology to create bulbs that are twice as energy-efficient by 2010 and, ultimately, nearly four times more efficient.

Mark Murray of Californians Against Waste, which is sponsoring AB 1109, said passage likely would push most firms toward alternative technologies. Murray said he envisions incandescents being used a decade from now for specialty purposes -- ranging from light therapy to sun lamps -- but not routinely for home lighting.

Two potential alternatives for household lighting are halogen bulbs, currently used in headlights, and light-emitting diode bulbs, or LEDs, used in traffic lights and Christmas decorations. The leading candidate to replace the common light bulb is the compact fluorescent lamp, or CFL. Fifty-six percent of homes already use at least one CFL, records show. The California Energy Commission says CFLs can cost 10 times more than incandescents -- a gap often lowered by subsidies -- but that they burn so much longer and use so much less electricity that they save about $20 per bulb over a three-year period.

Driving the market toward compact fluorescents potentially could create disposal problems for millions of discarded bulbs, however. "You have the unintended consequence of favoring light bulbs that have (a neurotoxin) in them," DeVore said of AB 1109. Compact fluorescents contain trace amounts of mercury, which can cause respiratory, kidney or other health problems. Huffman said he takes the issue seriously, noting his bill would limit the quantities of mercury in each bulb and would require creation of recycling systems. Jim Metropulos, of Sierra Club California, said he is satisfied with the precautions. "It's setting up a system where we're now going to deal with the waste," he said


Al Gore is Right (About the Wrong People)

Post lifted from New Editor . See the original for links. I could fisk the nonsense myself but I hope the few comments below show how delusional the Greenie article is. With respect to the last point mentioned, I might add however that I was born and bred in tropical Australia, where dengue fever is endemic. And I can assure everyone that the population there is as healthy and as vigorous as any. Dengue is indeed a nasty illness -- like a bad flu -- but most people get over it, much as they do for any flu. That cold weather brings on all sorts of illnesses too is not of course mentioned.

From "The Assault on Reason":

It is simply no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. I know I am not alone in feeling that something has gone fundamentally wrong.

We're with you, Al. From's Timeline: The Frightening Future of Earth:

Our planet's prospects for environmental stability are bleaker than ever...

When has the environment ever been "stable?" Is that even desirable? I thought evolution relied on change. But then, climate-screechers sound more like creationists these days, echoing fundamentalist Christians anticipating the apocalypse.

Epic floods will hit some areas while intense drought will strike others. Humans will face widespread water shortages. Famine and disease will increase. Earth's landscape will transform radically, with a quarter of plants and animals at risk of extinction...

Floods and water shortages. Why will famine increase if Canada and Siberia turn from tundra into growing climes? Why would we not figure out how to get more water from wet places to dry places?

2050 - In Australia, there will likely be an additional 3,200 to 5,200 heat-related deaths per year. The hardest hit will be people over the age of 65. An extra 500 to 1,000 people will die of heat-related deaths in New York City per year. In the United Kingdom, the opposite will occur, and cold-related deaths will outpace heat-related ones.

The Aussies won't buy air conditioners? How do people survive in Phoenix and Riyahd today? I know most homes in London are already heated, so I guess the over-65 set will be taking strolls during blizzards more in 2050.

2085 - The risk of dengue fever from climate change is estimated to increase to 3.5 billion people.

We can't figure out the epidemiology of avian flu today, but we've got 2085 covered!

The garden of good and evil

With its hectoring rhetoric, the green movement is in danger of becoming a quasi religion, writes Simon Castles. Note that this article appeared in Australia's most Leftist major newspaper! Progress?

CLIMATE change denial is something we'll hear plenty about in the coming months. Leading up to the election, Kevin Rudd will repeat ad nauseam his claim that John Howard is a rolled-gold climate change denier. And next month, the ABC broadcasts the controversial documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle, which will lead to further charges that the film-makers, the film's talking heads and the ABC board are in denial.

Whatever your views on global warming, the term "climate change denial", and the speed with which it has become part of everyday language, shouldn't be welcomed. The term is reductive, as well as offensive in its connotations. It encapsulates the way the environmental movement, for all its good intentions, is increasingly adopting the sanctimonious, hectoring and stifling attributes of organised religion. To question climate change today is to be cast as a denier of an absolute truth.

That people who used to be called "climate change sceptics" are now called "deniers" is quite deliberate. The aim is to suggest that climate change scepticism is somehow akin to Holocaust denial. The moral repugnance we feel for the latter, we should essentially feel for the former. The connection is subliminal mostly, but some commentators have been more than happy to spell it out. British journalist Mark Lynas wrote: "I put (climate change denial) in a similar category to Holocaust denial — except that this time the Holocaust is yet to come, and we still have time to avoid it. Those who try to ensure we don't will one day have to answer for their crimes." In Nuremberg-style trials, one presumes. Guardian columnist and author George Monbiot wrote: "Almost everywhere, climate change denial now looks as stupid and unacceptable as Holocaust denial."

Closer to home, Margo Kingston wrote: "David Irving is under arrest in Austria for Holocaust denial. Perhaps there is a case for making climate change denial an offence. It is a crime against humanity, after all."

Such attempts at moral equivalence are deeply repugnant and, frankly, stupid. The murder of 6 million Jews happened; the worst consequences of climate change are yet to happen, and we can't even say with certainty what they will be. To start judging people guilty for denying things that haven't happened yet — for having contrary thoughts — is surely to trump Orwell's nightmare vision.

It also corrupts the central tenet of science — that hypotheses are there to be tested; to be verified or falsified. As scientist Thomas Huxley said of his discipline, "scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin". The overwhelming majority of scientists believe in man-made climate change. No argument from me. But when you read or hear that "the jury is in" on climate change, or the "science is settled", alarm bells should ring. Science is never really settled. It can always be challenged. Science that isn't open to challenge isn't science; it's more like faith.

A group of 38 scientists recently wrote an open letter to the production company behind The Great Global Warming Swindle, insisting that the doco be altered before its release on DVD. "Free speech," they wrote, "does not extend to misleading the public by making factually incorrect statements." Really? We'd better do away with that internet thing then.

These scientists are no doubt passionate in their beliefs, and concerned about climate change and the content of the doco. But when any group starts telling us what free speech is and isn't allowed, we should be worried. As Brendan O'Neill quipped on the Spiked website: "What next, a House Committee on Un-Scientific Activities?"

I am not a scientist; I don't pretend to understand the science of climate change. And I'm certainly not arguing that global warming is a swindle. But like the novice in an art gallery, I know what I don't like, and that's a censorious culture, the demonisation of people and ideas, and the undermining of rational debate. The more the most zealous greenies argue that climate change is beyond debate, the science beyond interrogation, and that anyone who disagrees is no better than a Holocaust denier, the more they sound to me like religious extremists, and the more I don't want to listen to them.

Monbiot says that he wants to "make people so depressed about the state of the world that they stay in bed all day, thereby reducing their consumption of fossil fuel". Strewth. I spent my childhood under the tutelage of deeply repressed Christian Brothers and priests, but I don't recall ever hearing anything quite so fun-denying, guilt-inflicting and self-flagellating as that.

There is plenty that is good and positive about the green movement. But we need to be wary of the slippery slope between sensible environmentalism and environmentalism as a quasi religion. And boy, does the green movement seem like a religion sometimes. The similarities are there in the rhetoric. We must reject profligate ways or face climate doom (sinners must repent or go to hell). We ought to feel guilty when we're wasteful, but if our footprint is light on the earth, self-righteousness and superiority are the reward. If we are bad, we should buy carbon credits (aka, do penance). We should never seriously doubt or question the facts, and can demonise those who dare to.

Whatever your opinion on climate change, the undermining of debate by casting sceptics as little better than a bunch of David Irvings should be a cause for concern. It is anti-science and anti-intellectual. The planet may face many threats, but free speech, open debate and scepticism are not among 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 generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Uganda's Director of Health Services, Dr. Sam Zaramba: Give Us DDT

Though Africa's sad experience with colonialism ended in the 1960s, a lethal vestige remains: malaria. It is the biggest killer of Ugandan and all African children. Yet it remains preventable and curable. Last week in Germany, G-8 leaders committed new resources to the fight against the mosquito-borne disease and promised to use every available tool. Now they must honor this promise by supporting African independence in the realm of disease control. We must be able to use Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane -- DDT...

In 2006, Uganda worked with President George Bush's Malaria Initiative to train 350 spray operators, supervisors and health officials. In August 2006 and again in February 2007, we covered 100,000 households in the southern Kabale district with the insecticide Icon. Nearly everyone welcomed this protection. The prevalence of the malaria parasite dropped. Today, just 3% of the local population carries the disease, down from 30%.

This exercise pays for itself. With 90% fewer people requiring anti-malarial medication and other public-health resources, more healthy adults work and more children attend school. When we repeated the test program in Kabale and neighboring Kanungu district this year, our spray teams required little new training and were rapidly mobilized. Our health officials at every level were able to educate our communities, implement spraying programs and evaluate operations. With each passing year, it will now be easier and less expensive to run the programs.

But DDT lasts longer, costs less and is more effective against malaria-carrying mosquitoes than Icon. It functions as spatial repellent to keep mosquitoes out of homes, as an irritant to prevent them from biting, and as a toxic agent to kill those that land. The repellency effect works without physical contact. And because we will never use the chemical in agriculture, DDT also makes mosquitoes less likely to develop resistance...

Africa is determined to rise above the contemporary colonialism that keeps us impoverished. We expect strong leadership in G-8 countries to stop paying lip service to African self-determination and start supporting solutions that are already working.


U.S. space monitoring of warming cut back

If you need satellites to detect it, I think that tells you how negligible the warming is

The Bush administration is drastically scaling back efforts to measure global warming from space, just as the president tries to convince the world the U.S. is ready to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gases. A confidential report to the White House, obtained by The Associated Press, warns that U.S. scientists will soon lose much of their ability to monitor warming from space using a costly and problem-plagued satellite initiative begun more than a decade ago. Because of technology glitches and a near-doubling in the original $6.5 billion cost, the Defense Department has decided to downsize and launch four satellites paired into two orbits, instead of six satellites paired in three orbits.

The satellites were intended to gather weather and climate data, replacing existing satellites as they come to the end of their useful lifetimes beginning in the next couple of years. The reduced system of four satellites will now focus on weather forecasting. Most of the climate instruments needed to collect more precise data over long periods are being eliminated. Instead, the Pentagon and two partners - the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA - will rely on European satellites for most of their climate data.

"Unfortunately, the recent loss of climate sensors ... places the overall climate program in serious jeopardy," NOAA and NASA scientists told the White House in the report. They said they will face major gaps in data that can be collected only from satellites: about ice caps and sheets, surface levels of seas and lakes, sizes of glaciers, surface radiation, water vapor, snow cover and atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Rick Piltz, director of Climate Science Watch, a watchdog program of the Washington-based Government Accountability Project, called the situation a crisis. "We're going to start being blinded in our ability to observe the planet," said Piltz, whose group provided the AP with the previously undisclosed report. "It's criminal negligence."

Bush has repeatedly cited his administration's record on researching global warming as a response to criticism of his opposition to forced reductions in the greenhouse gases blamed for it. The administration has been spending about $5 billion a year on global warming: $2 billion on climate research and $3 billion on technologies for combating it. Bush requested $331 million for work on the scaled-back satellite system next year in his fiscal 2008 budget proposal. Congress has yet to act on it.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences have both cautioned that downsizing the satellite program will result in major gaps in the continuity and quality of the data about Earth gathered from space. NASA and NOAA agreed in April to restore sensors that will enable the satellites to map ozone. NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher said that would give scientists a better idea of the content and distribution of atmospheric gases. But seven other climate sensors are still being eliminated or substantially downgraded by lower-quality equipment to save money, according to the report to the White House. Most of the satellites, which were scheduled to launch starting next year, have been delayed to between 2013 and 2026.

White House science adviser Jack Marburger, for whom the report was intended, acknowledged that climate scientists had been depending greatly on the planned satellites. "We're obviously very concerned about this," he said. "It got in trouble and we couldn't fit all those instruments on it ... leaving us with a number of problems and questions: How do we maintain our momentum in this very important area of science?"

Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., who chairs the House Committee on Science and Technology, called for a hearing later this week on the satellite program. The committee wants to hear from Marburger and the satellite program's director, Air Force Brig. Gen. Susan Mashiko, and to receive an update from congressional investigators. "You're looking at a program that's roughly $6 billion over budget with no hope of recovery," said Alisha Prather, the spokeswoman. "They can't even tell us when different pieces of the puzzle may be functional. ... It's failed leadership."

NASA spokeswoman Tabatha Thompson said a final version of the "impacts" report was delivered to Marburger on Jan. 8. It was not made public because it is "a pre-decisional document within the administration," she said.


Greenie war on dishwasher detergents

Guess what phosphate and CO2 have in commen? They are both great fertilizers for trees and crops. Yet the Greenies hate both. Perhaps we should call the Greenies the Brownies -- they're infantile enough. Of course, less effective detergents will mean you have to run your dishwasher longer -- thus using more power and maybe more water -- so we have the usual self-defeating Greenie policy that does nothing other than make life more expensive and difficult for everyone -- but that is the real Greenie aim anyway.

Environmental activists in a handful of states are about to remove the phosphate lurking under your sink. Chances are the dishwasher detergent you stow there now is one of the leading name brands-- Procter & Gamble's Cascade or Reckitt Benckiser's Electrasol. Both contain phosphates. But the big-name manufacturers are racing to develop and market new, phosphate-free or "P-Nil" products by July 1, 2010. "There's an ironclad commitment on the part of industry to meet this date," says Dennis Griesing, the Soap and Detergent Association's vice president for government affairs. "That's my charge to my members. Whoever gets there first has a great marketing advantage."

The industry didn't exactly rush to make a commitment. Griesing's organization vigorously fought the move to phosphate-free until Washington State passed a law in March 2006 limiting the amount of phosphates in household dishwasher detergent sold in that state to 0.5%, or a trace amount, effective July 1, 2010 (in most of the state). Now, with other states racing to jump on the phosphate-free bandwagon, the soap association has conceded the larger battle and is focusing on ensuring consistent regulations across the states. Mainly, it wants to make sure the bans are limited to dishwasher detergents for household use, and that they won't go into effect until July 1, 2010.

"The detergent industry realized they were going to face a patchwork of state laws," says Martin Wolf, director of product and environmental technology for Seventh Generation, which has made a "green" non-phosphate dishwasher detergent since 1997. (Seventh Generation is itself a member of the Soap and Detergent Association.) "Once the first domino fell, it was only a matter of time before the rest would fall, so they're trying to pass uniform bills." In just the last six weeks, Maryland, Vermont, Minnesota and Illinois have followed Washington state's lead. (The Illinois bill is on the governor's desk.) Massachusetts and Michigan are likely to follow this year.

To the industry's dismay, Maryland pols one-upped their Washington counterparts by making their law effective six months earlier, on Jan. 1, 2010. They also instructed the state's department of environment to research the "prospective availability" of low-phosphate alternatives for the commercial market (including schools and factories) and report back by Dec. 1, 2008. "I'll be back in Annapolis next year to ask Maryland to change its effective date from January to July," says Griesing of the Soap and Detergent Association. And, he says, the association will continue to defend phosphate use in commercial markets, because there would be technical problems with extending the ban to commercial dishwashers, which run at higher temperatures and on shorter cycles.

Does the industry really need those six extra months to come up with new consumer products? After all, the move to phosphate-free dish detergent has been a long time coming. Environmentalists got phosphates out of laundry detergent in the late 1980s. Back then, the Soap and Detergent Association got an allowance for up to 8.7% phosphate content in dishwasher detergent in state legislation covering laundry detergent, based on its claim that phosphates were needed to clean dishes that had been used for starchy foods, like macaroni and cheese.

Since then, phosphate-free "green" brands made by Seventh Generation, Trader Joe's and Ecover have hit the market. They cost a little more and have just a 1% market share. But in a 2005 report, Consumer Reports concluded they do the job just fine, giving all three brands its top rating of "excellent." With the cleaning success of those products and the current surge in environmental activism on the state level, it was inevitable that the issue would be recycled. The impetus for the Washington state ban was the Sierra Club's efforts to clean up the Spokane River, says Craig Engelking, legislative director for the Sierra Club's Cascade chapter. He handed out Ecover tablets to state legislators to prove there is an effective non-phosphate alternative.

The Soap and Detergent Association originally tried to defeat the Washington bill. But with state Senate majority leader Lisa Brown, whose district encompasses the Spokane River, backing it, the industry couldn't stop the bill. It did, however, get the ban delayed in most of the state until July 1, 2010, instead of the July 1, 2008, date the sponsors wanted. The 2008 date was kept for three counties in the Spokane area. Earlier this year, state legislators defeated an industry attempt to delay the 2008 start date in those counties.

So what's the problem with phosphates? When discharged into waterways, they cause excessive growth of algae, which can smell bad and which robs the water of oxygen that fish need to survive. Dishwashing detergent is hardly the only culprit. Levels of phosphates in fresh waterways can be much higher than normal because of contamination from municipal and domestic wastewater, whether you're hooked up to a sewer or have a septic system, says Helen Suh MacIntosh, an associate professor in environmental health at Harvard University. Fertilizer runoff from farms and lawns contribute to the problem. So, if you want to help the trout stream that runs through your vacation property, Macintosh recommends making the switch to phosphate-free detergent and organic lawn fertilizer.

In Maryland, scientists estimate that the change on the household dishwasher front will reduce phosphorus pollution to the Chesapeake Bay by 3%. "Every little bit counts," says Jennifer Aiosa, a senior scientist at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Annapolis, Md. If you eat a lot of macaroni and cheese and like clean plates, what should you do? Under the new laws, stockpiling detergent with phosphate for use after the ban takes effect isn't illegal. "There are no phosphate cops kicking down [homeowners'] doors," Griesing assures consumers. Or, you could just try rinsing your plates before the macaroni hardens on them. Just like your mom told you to.


March of the Lemmings: Media Shuns Climate Change Report's Good News on Sea Levels

Remember the headlines last summer, spurred by the release of Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth, warning that massive amounts of Antarctica's ice sheets are melting, threatening to raise sea levels 20 feet worldwide and wipe out Antarctica's Emperor penguins and polar bears? And alarming reports that Greenland's glaciers are shrinking so rapidly that a third of Florida and the lower part of Manhattan could be swept away within the next 200 years?

Well guess what? The long awaited Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report summary released early in February threw some badly needed cold water on that over-heated hype. According to the IPCC, based on the work of 2,500 scientists around the globe, Antarctica's ice sheets will "remain too cold for widespread surface melting," and "is expected to gain in mass due to increased snowfall."1

The report summary also says there is no scientific consensus that Greenland's ice caps are melting enough to contribute to increased sea levels.2 And while the writers do acknowledge unknowns, including some observed variability and local changes in glaciers in the polar regions that could contribute to future increased sea levels, it states that overall "there is no consensus on their magnitude."3

In spite of recent criticism by some complaining that the IPCC is "too conservative," its conclusions are consistent with the findings last month in Science. The article's authors, scientists with the Polar Science Center at the University of Washington and the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, observe that two among the largest glaciers in Greenland thought to have been melting rapidly and flowing into the sea, have now actually stabilized, bringing their rate of discharge back to previous levels. The scientists discovered that Greenland's second and third largest glaciers, which have been making headlines recently for doubling the amount of discharge between 2000 and 2005, have over the past two years reversed course and actually increased in mass.4

The authors attribute inaccurate assessments of the glaciers' activity to "snapshots" scientists have been taking in the region: "Our main point is that the behavior of these glaciers can change a lot from year to year, so we can't assume to know the future behavior from short records of recent changes."5

What does all this mean for future sea levels? The IPCC estimates seas globally will rise somewhere between 7 and 23 inches by the next 100 years, a lower estimate than presented by the IPCC in 2001,6 and a far cry from Al Gore's 20- to 40-foot prediction in An Inconvenient Truth.

To put the IPCC's estimate in context, the average global sea level rise during the 20th century was 6-8 inches, and 3-7 inches during the 19th century, although it is difficult for scientists to be precise.7

But none of these factoids really matter. Our lawmakers and the media continue to warn us to head for the hills. Senator Feinstein calls the sea level estimate "catastrophic," warning that "low-lying nations and coastal communities will be lost to flooding."8 ABC's Good Morning America asks viewers via a graphic, just prior to the report's release, "Will billions die from global warming: new details on thirst and hunger."9 And numerous articles and news programs fabricate doom by highlighting what's not in the IPCC report. As Bill Weir of ABC's World News comments, "what we didn't hear as much about... [in the] grim report about... a looming climate catastrophe is rising water. And... that may be the scariest part of all."

Even some print-media are inventing stories about climate change where none exist. A recent front-page article in The Washington Post blares in its headline: "Climate Change Is Linked to Damage, Destruction of Old Sites Around Chesapeake." The article tells a disturbing tale of cemeteries along the Chesapeake Bay being washed away by rising bay waters. The inside page of the article reveals the main cause as a geological quirk that is causing the land in the region to sink and the soil to erode. But the front page attributes the gravesites' damage to "rising water levels - an old problem, apparently accelerated by climate change." [Emphasis added]. The author provides no evidence to this claim, just a non sequitur that the IPCC reports sea levels are expected to rise up to 23 inches.10

The good news is, the IPCC news isn't so bad. The bad news is, you wouldn't know it reading news reports. Climatologist Patrick Michaels got it right when he predicted "what's not new in today's IPCC report - that humans are warming the planet - will be treated as big news, while what is new - that sea levels are not likely to rise as much as previously predicted - will be ignored."11 The march of the media lemmings will continue. With hope, the rest of us will manage to keep our cool.


Climate change behind Darfur killing?

This is on a par with the accusations that the Jews are to blame for the civil war among Arabs in Gaza. Available land in Africa was shrinking (mostly due to population growth and overgrazing by goats) long before global warming was noticed

THE slaughter in Darfur was triggered by global climate change and that more such conflicts may be on the horizo, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says in an article published today. "The Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change,'' Mr Ban said in a Washington Post opinion column.

UN statistics showed that rainfall declined some 40 per cent over the past two decades, he said, as a rise in Indian Ocean temperatures disrupted monsoons. "This suggests that the drying of sub-Saharan Africa derives, to some degree, from man-made global warming,'' the South Korean diplomat wrote. "It is no accident that the violence in Darfur erupted during the drought,'' Mr Ban said in the Washington daily.

When Darfur's land was rich, he said, black farmers welcomed Arab herders and shared their water, he said. With the drought, however, farmers fenced in their land to prevent overgrazing. "For the first time in memory, there was no longer enough food and water for all. Fighting broke out,'' he said. A UN peacekeeping force may stop the fighting, he said, and more than two million people may return to rebuilt homes in safe villages. "But what to do about the essential dilemma: the fact that there's no longer enough good land to go around?'' "Any real solution to Darfur's troubles involves sustained economic development,'' perhaps using new technologies, genetically modified grains [Whoa there boy! That's not allowed!] or irrigation, while bettering health, education and sanitation, he said.

Khartoum agreed this week to accept 23,000 UN and African Union peacekeepers after four years of fighting, which has killed at least 200,000 people. Yesterday, the Australian Government said it was considering sending some peacekeeping assistance to Sudan despite fears it would overstretch the defence force. The UN has formally requested Australia to contribute as many troops as it can. "If there's anything we can do, perhaps in terms of some very small technical assistance to the United Nations force that's going to go to Darfur, then we might be able to do that," , Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said yesterday.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, June 17, 2007


They don't just curl up and die out but propagate quickly to where-ever the climate suits them best. Journal abstract follows:

Frequent Long-Distance Plant Colonization in the Changing Arctic

By Inger Greve Alsos et al

The ability of species to track their ecological niche after climate change is a major source of uncertainty in predicting their future distribution. By analyzing DNA fingerprinting (amplified fragment-length polymorphism) of nine plant species, we show that long-distance colonization of a remote arctic archipelago, Svalbard, has occurred repeatedly and from several source regions. Propagules are likely carried by wind and drifting sea ice. The genetic effect of restricted colonization was strongly correlated with the temperature requirements of the species, indicating that establishment limits distribution more than dispersal. Thus, it may be appropriate to assume unlimited dispersal when predicting long-term range shifts in the Arctic.

Science 15 June 2007: Vol. 316. no. 5831, pp. 1606 - 1609

It is the Green/Left who are responsible for energy "shortages"

The post below points out how simple solving the "problem" would be without the politics of destruction at work

Contrary to what politicians have been spouting recently, American energy independence can be accomplished with very simple solutions. These solutions are so obvious, in fact, that it begs the questions why these policy modifications have not been implemented. In reality, the reason these changes haven't been implemented has a straightforward answer as well: limousine liberals do not "really" want energy independence.

If energy independence was their goal, we would never hear anyone tell us that ethanol, wind power, solar power, florescent light bulbs, hybrid cars, or bio-diesel can achieve anything of significance. We would never be bombarded with misinformation from the "glittering gems of colossal ignorance." We would never be told that using more energy to improve our standard of living and prosperity is an addiction. Moreover, we would not have to sit through ridiculous congressional hearings with "Big Oil" CEOs; maybe I am the only one who watches CSPAN?

So, allow me the daunting task of outlining how we achieve energy independence. In doing so, I will also dispel many of the common myths recapitulated today about our "precious natural resources." Be amazed at how simple my plan really is.

The first thing we must do is eliminate all regulations imposed on energy producers, including the elimination of all license or permit requirements. Doing this alone will solve our energy troubles, but I have also outlined more fixes within the paragraphs below. Total deregulation will allow small energy companies to enter the market and compete with large conglomerates. This competition will guarantee that there will never be an "energy crisis." Once small companies enter the market, the supply of energy will increase and the price will plummet. Imagine your electric bill each month being less than $20 and paying less that $1 at the pump for a gallon of gas.

On a side note, even the people who care about the environment will legally be allowed to sell their wind or solar power to their neighbors. Private Citizens are currently prohibited from legally profiting from the energy they produce in most places. Say thank you to big government.

While some may argue that my plan will only help big corporations, it will actually benefit every American citizen including small businesses. Contrary to popular belief, large energy companies want the market to be regulated thereby guaranteeing them with a monopoly over the supply of energy. Big oil continues to be "Big Oil" because nobody can enter the marketplace and compete with them due to governmental imposed barriers to entry. Deregulation would change that.

The next aspect of this deregulation plan would be to allow new refineries to be built. This would also include oil drilling off the coast of Cuba, California, and in Alaska. If we do not do this soon, China will drill near Cuba and we will have to clean up after them. Waiting any longer will be disastrous. At least allow us to get at the oil before China, and use it for our strategic reserve.

Before these plans can take effect, the public must get behind it. However, in order for the public to get behind it, key liberal myths must be shattered. One of the greatest myths that must be dispelled is the fable of fixed natural resources. First, the largest mine ever drilled to exploit any natural resource is ten miles deep. It is 4000 miles to the center of the Earth demonstrating that we have not even scratched the surface. Moreover, our Earth is so packed with natural resources, only a lack of technology prevents us from exploiting them. Second, we are never going to run out of oil for hundreds of years, and by that time, there will be new innovations that will likely displace oil, so long as free enterprise is allowed to thrive. But, until then, we can easily eliminate our reliance on foreign oil by exploiting our own.

Ethanol is not going to cure this problem either. The next time someone tells you that Brazil is energy independent, tell that person that Brazil has only 5% of the energy needs as America. While we could potentially get 5% of our energy source from ethanol, it also has the negative effect of significantly raising the price of food, thereby offsetting any benefits.

The final myth is that drilling in Alaska will hurt the caribou. Actually, caribou live in a very cold climate and have no ability to avoid it. However, whenever man builds gas or oil pipelines near the caribou, the caribou huddle close to it because it is warm. Who would have thought, the caribou do not like to freeze to death either? (See above Picture)

The third prong of my plan is to go completely nuclear. We should allow the construction of 500 nuclear plants over the next decade. For the love of god, even France does it; can you get more liberal than France? This has allowed France to have the cleanest air out of all developing countries.

Nevertheless, the limousine liberals perpetuate the fallacy that nuclear energy is dangerous simply because a rundown plant in a communist country had a meltdown many years ago. Don't tell them that more people have died from vending machines falling on them, glass windows, buckets, and hair dryers, than nuclear plants in America. This nuclear fear is based entirely on ignorance. Either that or the environmentalists are really socialists in disguise.

Finally, when all these simple plans are implemented, we will be completely energy independent. Our economy will skyrocket. We will no longer have to pay homage to the Saudi royal family. Iran and Venezuela's brutal leaders will now longer have the means to oppress their people. Best of all, the caribou will thank us in Alaska.


Crichton on environmentalism as a religion

I studied anthropology in college, and one of the things I learned was that certain human social structures always reappear. They can't be eliminated from society. One of those structures is religion. Today it is said we live in a secular society in which many people--the best people, the most enlightened people--do not believe in any religion. But I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious.

Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.

Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday--these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know. I certainly don't want to talk anybody out of them, as I don't want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don't want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can't talk anybody out of them. These are not facts that can be argued. These are issues of faith.

And so it is, sadly, with environmentalism....

Source. See also Prof. Brignell for a much fuller exploration of this theme.

Silver lining admitted but darkness of cloud illogically insisted on

The AP story below makes some pretty obvious points about the benefits of a warmer climate but look at the illogical ending tacked on to it. After pointing out the EXPANSION of areas for food production they say that food shortages might result!! The sentence concerned is liturgy rather than intelligent comment

It is not in former US vice-president Al Gore's famous PowerPoint presentation on the environment, but there are upsides to global warming. Northern hemisphere homes could save on heating fuel; Canadian farmers could harvest bumper crops; Greenland might become awash in cod and oil riches; shippers could count on a shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific; forests might expand; and Mongolia could have a go-go economy. It is all speculative, even facetious, and any gains are not likely to make up for upheavals elsewhere. But, might there be a silver lining for the frigid regions of Canada and Russia?

"It's not that there won't be bad things happening in those countries; there will be -- things like you'll lose polar bears," said professor Robert Mendelsohn of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. "But the idea is that they will get such large gains, especially in agriculture, that they will be bigger than the losses."

Professor Mendelsohn looked at how gross domestic product around the world would be affected under different warming scenarios though to 2100. Canada and Russia came out as beneficiaries, as did much of northern Europe and Mongolia because of projected gains in agricultural production.

New York state orchardist Chris Loken started diversifying year ago, adding peach, apricot and plum stands to his staple crop of apples. "I've been betting on it for years," Mr Loken said. Cold winters still trouble his new trees but the 75-year-old farmer was counting on a trend of milder winters. "This farm here has been set up for the future," he said.

The future may have arrived in icy Greenland, where fishermen are thrilled by the return of cod and farmers are reporting higher yields. Danish environment researcher Jesper Madsen said Greenland stood to gain immensely if the retreating ice there cleared the way for more oil drilling. Economist Richard Tol of the Economic and Social Research Institute in Ireland said Canada would be the biggest winner for tourist visits in a warmer world. It would get a 220 per cent increase in international tourist arrivals by the end of the century, followed by Russia with a 174 per cent jump, and Mongolia, up 122 per cent.

But the negatives can include planet-wide food and water shortages, mass flooding and extinction.



A report released today by the Australian Childhood Foundation, in the lead up to their annual fundraiser Childhood Hero Day Thursday 14 June, has revealed that Australian children are deeply concerned about the state of the environment and the impact of climate change. The report, 'Children's fears, hopes and heroes - Modern Childhood in Australia', surveyed 600 10-14 year-olds across Australia and revealed that:

* 52% are scared that there will not be enough water in the future

* 44% of children are worried about the impact of climate change

* 43% of children are worried about the pollution in the air and water

Dr Joe Tucci, CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation, said "Children's sense of their place in the world is under threat. Children are nervous about global problems and the implications for the future they are faced with. "It is often said that children and young people live in the here and now with little regard for the future. These findings clearly challenge this popular notion."

The report also revealed that more than a third of children were anxious about terrorism, were worried about having to fight in a war and one in four believed the world will end before they reach adulthood.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Fiendish Jews turn dew into clean water

In between eating juicy Muslim babies, of course

A low-tech way to turn dew into fresh, usable water has been developed by two architects at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Inspired by the dew-collecting properties of leaves, the invention can extract a minimum of 48 liters of fresh water from the air each day. Depending on the number of collectors used, an unlimited daily supply of water could be produced even in remote and polluted places. Their invention recently won an international competition seeking to make clean, safe water available to millions around the world.

The brainchild of Technion Architecture and Building Planning grad student Joseph Cory and his colleague Eyal Malka, "WatAir" is an inverted pyramid array of panels that collects dew from the air and turns it into fresh water in almost any climate. According to Cory, WatAir can be easily incorporated into both rural and urban landscapes because it has a relatively small base. Its vertical and diagonal design utilizes gravity to increase the collection areas. The panels are flexible and easy to collapse when not in use, and provide shelter from rain and heat and play areas for children.

The project was selected from 100 entries from North America, Europe, Africa and Asia as the winner of the "drawing water challenge" sponsored by Arup - a global firm of designers, engineers, planners and business consultants specializing in innovative and sustainable design. "WatAir is a wonderfully simple concept which draws its inspiration from nature," said competition judge Jo da Silva. "This is a simple and effective idea using tried and tested technology."



"The open admission by a climate scientist of the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Dr Jim Renwick, that his organisation achieves only 50 per cent accuracy in its climate forecasts, and that this is as good as any other forecaster around the world, should be a wake-up call for world political leaders," said Rear Admiral Jack Welch, chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

Yesterday the coalition published an analysis of seasonal climate predictions by NIWA over the past five years which found that the overall accuracy of the predictions was just 48 per cent. Defending the Niwa record, Dr Renwick said his organisation was doing as well as any other weather forecaster around the world. He was quoted by the country's leading newspaper, the New Zealand Herald as saying: "Climate prediction is hard, half of the variability in the climate system is not predictable, so we don't expect to do terrifically well." Later on New Zealand radio, Dr Renwick said: "The weather is not predictable beyond a week or two."

Admiral Welch said that these statements warrant immediate attention by governments around the world. "Dr Renwick is no lightweight. He was a lead author on Working Group I of the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, and serves on the World Meteorological Organisation Commission for Climatology Expert Team on Seasonal Forecasting. He is presumed to be au fait with the abilities of the official governmental climate prediction community round the world.

"All round the developed world, governments are being pressured by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to accept the integrity of scenarios of future climate behaviour agreed by their own climate bureaucrats, but these bureaucrats are the very people that Dr Renwick now tells us get it right only half the time. Worse, he tells us they are unable to predict weather beyond a week or two, yet in conjunction with the IPCC they presume to tell us what to expect over the next few decades.

"The link between climate and weather is well known: climate is determined by averaging weather variables over an extended period (usually 30 years) at one place or for a region. How can there be any faith in climate predictions by officials who admit they are unable to forecast the weather beyond a week or two? "Perhaps now, governments will pay heed to those many independent climate scientists around the world who have been challenging the exaggerated projections by IPCC officials, and those political zealots such as Al Gore who use those predictions to mislead the ordinary public.

"In the light of these revelations and recent strong evidence that the sun not carbon dioxide controls the climate, the new Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon would do the world a great service by creating an opportunity for the world to hear from the independent scientists who disagree with the IPCC's blaming mankind for climate variability that is natural and historic. There is no scientific justification for some of the extremist economic and social penalties that a minority of zealots are trying to impose on the people of the world.

"This is a matter of grave import and urgency for poorer nations who will suffer most from the proposed penal measures," said Admiral Welch.



While the mainstream press focuses on Monday's symbolic "no confidence" vote over Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the Senate also took up the energy bill, legislation with far-reaching implications for investors and at least one presidential candidate. Fuel-efficiency standards for automakers, and renewable energy requirements for utilities will dominate the headlines, but amendments promoting coal-based fuels fall squarely into the "politics makes strange bedfellows" department.

It turns out Democratic presidential aspirant and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has more in common with the U.S. Air Force than the Natural Resources Defense Council or when it comes to solving America's dependence on foreign oil. Both Obama and the Air Force have determined the path to energy independence runs through the coal mines of Appalachia, Wyoming and, yes, Illinois.

This unlikely pairing has both political and investing implications for those gaming the possibility of an Obama presidency. Coal's political appeal is clear: There are more than 250 billion tons of recoverable coal reserves in the U.S., the equivalent of about 800 billion barrels of oil, or more than three times Saudi Arabia's proven oil reserves, according to the National Mining Association.

Thus, while the popular press, celebrities and a certain former vice president focus on "greenhouse gases," the energy bill is likely to contemplate recent legislative proposals such as taxpayer-funded loan guarantees to build coal-to-liquid plants. Spearheading current legislation in the House are Rick Boucher (D., Va.) and Geoff Davis (R., Ky.), while Senate sponsorship is coming from Republican Jim Bunning of Kentucky, who co-sponsored the Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act of 2007 with Obama in January.

Illinois ranks as the nation's seventh-leading coal producer, according to the Department of Energy. Nearly 32 million tons of Illinois coal were mined in 2005, generating nearly $1 billion in gross revenue, according to the Illinois Department of Commerce. Such statistics help explain Obama's support for coal-based initiatives. But amid a January backlash from environmentally conscious Democratic primary voters, Obama largely ceded leadership on the issue to Bunning.



In January the Bush administration promised bold, eye-popping initiatives on energy and the environment in the State of the Union address. But the White House failed to deliver. Bush proposed reducing U.S. gasoline consumption by 20 percent over ten years, largely by increasing subsidies and mandates for alternative fuels and tightening auto fuel-economy standards. Such proposals are hardly path breaking, and certainly failed to justify the pre-speech predictions. More ethanol is not an inspiring energy future.

In May, by comparison, there was little effort to hype the president's announcement of a new climate-policy agenda in preparation for the G-8 summit in Heiligendamm. Everyone knew climate change topped host Angela Merkel's agenda, and that President Bush and the German prime minister were leagues apart on the issues. The big question was not whether Bush would propose something new, but whether he would acquiesce to European demands.

So it was a surprise when, at the tail end of a speech outlining his G-8 agenda, President Bush seized the global initiative on climate-change policy. On May 31, the president announced support for a new international framework on climate change under which the 15 largest emitters of greenhouse gases would adopt their own parallel commitments on climate change on the way to a long-term emission-reduction goal.

The president also stressed the need to accelerate the transfer of advanced technologies to other nations by eliminating tariffs and other trade barriers on clean-energy advances and making clean energy a new priority for international financial institutions.

Whereas the Kyoto Protocol and European proposals sought to establish firm near-term emission-reduction targets that few nations would actually meet, the Bush stressed the development and deployment of efficiency-enhancing and emission-reducing technologies in an effort to reduce carbon intensity. In this regard the president's plan built upon the preexisting, but little noticed, Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, an agreement among the United States, Australia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea to develop and deploy clean energy technologies among member nations.

Environmentalists and some European environmental ministers were quick to dismiss Bush's plan. Yet others, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon praised the president's initiative. Japan and Australia were downright enthusiastic, and China responded more favorably than it has to Europe's emission-reduction demands.

Within a week, Bush had transformed the climate-policy dialogue. The president's proposal became the basis for the G-8's climate resolution and, for the first time, created an opportunity for developing nation participation in a meaningful climate-policy framework. Not bad for a president often accused (sometimes rightly) of obstructionism on environmental issues.


Australia: Trains may be "green" but they cost taxpayers a bomb

TAXPAYERS fork out $900 to subsidise every Traveltrain passenger journeying from Brisbane and Cairns - the equivalent of seven air fares. Damning new figures have revealed a massive blowout in the cost to taxpayers of keeping Queensland Rail's Sunlander and Tilt Train services operating. The figures show the State Government's subsidy cost has more than tripled in just six years and taxpayers will be slugged $130 million in 2007-08. Plummeting passenger numbers in the age of budget airfares has been blamed for the blowout.

Transport Minister Paul Lucas last night said the Government was committed to keeping rail services operating - regardless of the costs. However, the Coalition accused the Government of milking cash from coal companies - who must pay for track improvements - to subsidise inefficient services. A comparison of Budget figures shows the subsidy cost of each passenger per kilometre will be 50> in 2007-08 compared with 15> in 2001-02. A passenger wanting to travel one way by train between Brisbane and Cairns pays $206.80 for an economy seat and up to $742.50 for a first-class cabin. The journey would take between 26 and 31 hours. However, the real cost would be $1106.80 and $1642.50 without the 50>/km subsidy for the 1800km trip.

But with air fares between Brisbane and Cairns as cheap as $129 one way, the Government could fly about seven people for free at the same price it pays to send a single Traveltrain passenger on the same journey. The flights take two hours and 25 minutes.

In 2001-02, 632,000 passenger trips were made on Traveltrain. This fell to 432,000 in 2006-07. The Tilt Train derailment in 2005 contributed to the fall in passenger numbers. Queensland Rail was predicting an increase in patronage of 1250 in 2007-08.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, June 15, 2007


It's bad science to use Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro as a poster child for global warming's nefarious effects, two researchers say, pointing to other mechanisms causing the melt of the tropical glacier at the mountain's summit.

Kilimanjaro's ice has been melting away for more than a century, and most of that melt occurred before 1953, prior to the period where science begins to be conclusive about atmospheric warming in that region, according to Philip Mote of the University of Washington and Georg Kaser of the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

Also, as a tropical glacier, the processes governing ice melt on Kilimanjaro (located in Tanzania) are different than those on other mid-latitude glaciers located closer to the Earth's poles. These other mid-latitude glaciers become warmed and melted by surrounding air in the summer, while the air around Kilimanjaro's 19,340-foot peak (the tallest in Africa) is generally well below freezing. Instead, melt on Kilimanjaro is caused by sublimation, which turns ice directly into water vapor at below-freezing temperatures-essentially the glacier gets a giant case of moisture-sapping freezer burn.

In an article in the July-August edition of American Scientist, Mote and Kaser also cited decreased snowfall in the area as a driver of melt because bright, white snow reflects sunlight back into the atmosphere; if there's not new snow, sunlight gets absorbed and melts the ice.

The scientists say that other declining glaciers, like the South Cascade Glacier in Washington, would be a better poster child for the plight of glaciers in a warming world, which are indeed diminishing overall as a result of climate change. It's just that Kilimanjaro is one exception to the trend. Government photographs taken from 1928 to 2000 have shown that the South Cascade Glacier lost half its mass in that time. "There are dozens, if not hundreds, of photos of mid-latitude glaciers you could show where there is absolutely no question that they are declining in response to the warming atmosphere," Mote said.


Mote's exaggerations about American glaciers are discussed here

Activists to Demand Explanations from Caterpillar at Stockholder Meeting Wednesday

Deneen Borelli of the African-American group Project 21 will confront Caterpillar Inc. management at the corporation's shareholder's meeting Wednesday, demanding it explain why it joined the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), which lobbies for energy restrictions on the U.S. economy that would hurt both low income individuals and Caterpillar customers.

The Congressional Budget Office found that the restrictions USCAP seeks would hurt the poorest fifth of the population more than other income groups. As a percentage of wages, the poorest quintile would pay nearly double the costs borne by the richest quintile. The "cap-and-trade" system for which Caterpillar is lobbying also would target major Caterpillar customers.

"Caterpillar's participation in the United States Climate Action Partnership is an example of both corporate financial and social irresponsibility," said Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli. "Financially, cap-and-trade regulations will harm the mining industry -- a key customer of Caterpillar's products -- thereby hurting future profits and shareholders' interests. In addition, cap-and-trade will have a negative economic impact on consumers, especially lower-income households. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 'most of the cost of meeting a cap on CO2 emissions would be borne by consumers,' disproportionably harming fixed- and lower-income households. What kind of CEO would intentionally cause financial hardship to his company and millions of consumers?"

Caterpillar's stance has already cost it money: Robert E. Murray of Murray Energy Corporation has stopped doing business with Caterpillar: "Caterpillar has joined with some of the most radical environmentalists who have been enemies of mining, including coal, for decades... As a result of this, I sent [Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens] a letter a couple of months ago telling him that Murray Energy Corporation will no longer do business with Caterpillar. This will result in the loss of millions of dollars in business to Caterpillar."

Farmer Joyce Morrison says, "Where Caterpillar used to think first about American agriculture, they have now joined with groups that have been consistently opposed to the growing of America's food, and opposed to the use of Caterpillar machinery. It is difficult to understand why Caterpillar would work with groups who are unfriendly to agriculture when agriculture has been a source of Caterpillar's success."

70+ public policy organizations and affected companies sent a letter Tuesday to Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens urging him to immediately withdraw Caterpillar from USCAP. The letter is available at


Farmers in global warming alarmists' crosshairs

When politicking in farm belt states, global warming alarmists frequently assert that restrictive global warming legislation will benefit farmers. Farmers are told measures taken to address global warming will encourage more ethanol production and induce industry to purchase carbon sequestration credits from farmers engaging in no-till agriculture. Once out of the farmers' earshot, however, alarmists are making it all too clear that farmers are seen as more of a problem that needs correction than a friend who deserves reward.

Stephan Singer, the World Wildlife Fund's European Head of Climate and Energy Policy, told Reuters on April 30 that beef consumption is a major contributor to global warming, because the methane emitted from cattle is a key greenhouse gas. "The diet of the West has a big impact on the atmosphere," Singer said. San Jose State University sociology professor Dan Brook told attendees at an April 16 public lecture that giving up meat is "even more important than switching from an SUV to a Camry" because agriculture is "the number one cause of greenhouse gases."

Singer and Brook are not out of the mainstream of global warming alarmists. A December 2006 report from the Livestock, Environment and Development (LEAD) Initiative--which is supported by the World Bank, European Union, United States Agency for International Development, and United Nations--claims farmers are doing more damage to the Earth's climate than all the SUVs in the world combined.

The report, "Livestock's Long Shadow," asserts that the "livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global."

The LEAD report does not acknowledge agriculture as a good-guy mitigator of greenhouse gases. Nor does it envision enriching farmers as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To the contrary, claims the report, "The livestock sector is a major player, responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent. This is a higher share than transport."

Farmers unsure of whether they are seen as friends or foes of global warming alarmists need only consider the following statement in the LEAD report: "At virtually each step of the livestock production process, substances contributing to climate change or air pollution are emitted into the atmosphere, or their sequestration in other reservoirs is hampered. Such changes are either the direct effect of livestock rearing, or indirect contributions from other steps on the long road that ends with the marketed animal product."

Indeed, despite promises to the contrary, U.S. farmers are unlikely to be paid for sequestering carbon dioxide. In any cap-and-trade carbon legislation, sequestration would be rewarded only if it exceeds today's sequestration baseline. Status quo sequestration will receive no reward; only additional sequestration will be rewarded.

Moreover, in any carbon trading scheme, farmers would be net purchasers rather than net sellers of carbon sequestration credits. According to EPA, agricultural soils in the U.S. in 2001 sequestered 15.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, compared to total agricultural emissions of 526 mmtCO2e. Emissions were 35 times as great as sequestration.

Furthermore, to the extent non-farmers may be required to purchase carbon sequestration credits, they will get far more bang for their buck paying for the preservation or planting of forests than they will by giving money to farmers. According to EPA, forests in the U.S. sequestered 50 times as much carbon dioxide equivalent in 2001 than did agricultural soils. Also, the Environmental Defense publication "What Business Can Do about Global Warming" tells businesses that "forests can sequester more carbon more quickly than agricultural lands."

What about ethanol? Will ethanol revenue compensate for the sacrifices that will be demanded of farmers? The answer is not for long. Corn is already obsolete as an ethanol feedstock. According to the Houston-based CLEAN Energy group, Brazilian-grown sugarcane is more than five times more efficient at making ethanol than U.S.-grown corn. Any serious ethanol market will funnel money to Brazil rather than to U.S. farmers.

Even in the short term, farmers' higher corn income will be mitigated by higher costs associated with greenhouse gas restrictions. Agriculture is an energy-intensive industry, and higher fertilizer and fuel prices will militate against higher corn income. Additionally, corn farmers' gain will be livestock farmers' loss, as livestock farmers will be forced to pay higher prices for animal feed. Farmers beware: Greenhouse gas restrictions are nowhere near as farmer-friendly as global warming alarmists would lead you to believe.


Rescuing Australia's blacks from the Greens

By Noel Pearson

THE aspirations of indigenous people in remote Australia to re-establish a real economy underpinning the sustainability of their society are at odds with the vision of urban-based conservation organisations such as the Wilderness Society. The confrontation that has emerged between the advocates of land rights in Cape York and those who advocate for so-called wilderness may be the start of a sharpening clash of values.

Traditional land owners and communities in northern Australia are caught in a dilemma: the preservation of the natural and cultural heritage is foremost among their concerns about the future of their land and culture, while they also understand economic development is essential for the future of their people. Without economic development, indigenous people are dying on welfare dependency. The only other solution to a real economy is wholesale migration to urban areas and the abandonment of their culture: to die in a miserable urban underclass. So which is it to be: no development and continuing the downward spiral of social breakdown, or seeking development that can sustain people on their traditional lands?

In the wider society, attitudes towards the environment and development range between two extremes. The extreme of one side argues that environmental and development policy must serve the needs of the human species and nature must yield. Few tears are shed when another species becomes extinct. The extremity of the other side argues that policy must serve the needs of preserving and enhancing ecological diversity and humans must yield. Few tears are shed when thousands die and billions suffer in poverty. It may be that the underlying psychology of extreme Western environmentalism is that mass depopulation from disease and starvation would be an ecological benefit.

The rest of us, positioned somewhere between these two extremes, want something called sustainable development. The achievement of sustainable development depends on working out this conflict between the two camps, which seem interested only in their own side of the argument. Somehow, compromises are fashioned out of this conflict, because if either side had its way, development would either stop completely or it would be completely unrestrained.

But does the vast middle determine the terms of the policy debate, or is the concept of sustainable development just a veneer for what is really a crude struggle between two extreme (whitefella) ideologies? When indigenous groups I know of are confronted by the opportunities and challenges of economic development, and they are faced by a wider society that is generally divided into two opposing camps, they have to come to terms with both sides of the argument. They hear the precaution and prudence of those who advocate for the environment, and this precaution and prudence resonates for them, because it is part of their tradition. But they also can see that the world beyond their own is underpinned by development, and they too need development. So they seek to balance the need for development with the imperatives of environment and culture. They seek sustainability.

The problem facing indigenous people in Cape York is that in recent years land-use policy has been most influenced by the relatively extreme end of the green spectrum. Single-issue environmental organisations, which see conservation in a particular way, are in a unique position to determine policy affecting remote parts of Australia because of the value they provide to political parties in delivering green votes in marginal seats in urban centres. They are able to trade environmental lock-up in remote and regional areas for organised green electoral support. But the capacity to deliver 2 per cent to 3 per cent of the vote in marginal seats hardly represents a basis for a mandate to determine crucial environmental and social sustainability questions.

This week Queensland Premier Peter Beattie tabled the Cape York Peninsula Heritage Bill, which represents our best opportunity to strike a balance between conservation and development for the future of this region. This law has the potential to ease Cape York people’s struggle to reconcile conservation and development. The tabling of this bill represents the culmination of decades of conflict between pastoralist, mining, Aboriginal and conservationist interests. In 1996, at the height of the controversy over native title in pastoral leases, Rick Farley succeeded in bringing together the conflicting parties, who signed the Cape York heads of agreement on land use. The former head of the National Farmers Federation and member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation was a conservationist (he was a founder of Landcare), a cattleman and a supporter of Aboriginal people. It was he who guided the parties to the view that we needed to find a balanced solution.

Farley succeeded in bringing the parties together because the conservation lobby was led by Greg Sargent, a campaigner from the Wilderness Society who understood that conservation needed to respect the land rights of indigenous people as well as the economic development needs of the pastoralists and people who lived in the region. The third person responsible for bringing these parties together was Goombra Jacko, an elder from the Junjuwarra clan.

Beattie has finally delivered on the hopes of these men. The new law provides for joint management of Cape York’s national parks between the state Government and the traditional owners. The original wild rivers legislation that threatened to frustrate indigenous economic development will be amended to protect native title rights and interests and to provide for mandatory water allocations for indigenous communities in each of the catchments affected by a wild river declaration. Indigenous communities will be able to make applications for vegetation clearing on Aboriginal land for sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and animal husbandry.

This new legislative framework is a step in the right direction. It provides indigenous communities with the key to the door when it comes to finding real jobs and pursuing enterprise. The new legislation needs to allow indigenous communities to take advantage of development opportunities that are supported by science and economics.

Australia, and indeed the world, has entered a phase where the environment looms large on domestic and international agendas. The environment has not been so pressing an electoral issue since the 1990 election won by Bob Hawke.

In crisis conditions it is important for nations to make rational decisions. The recessionary effects of wild decision-making based on electoral impulses is a risk the Australian people face in the lead-up to this year’s poll. The consignment of indigenous people in remote Australia to perpetual welfare dependency on the grounds of environmental lock-up is another risk. The problem with the latter is that the potential indigenous victims of these policies do not have electoral power and their needs are likely to be overrun.

The search for sustainable development will continue as legitimate concerns for the future of the environment grow. I hope Western environmentalism does not turn out to have a fundamentally misanthropic (nature before humans) and genocidal (just keep the indigenes on welfare) ethical foundation.



THE price of uranium - already up 85 per cent since January - could reach $US200 a pound within two years, Australia's biggest securities firm, Macquarie, says. Analysts have revised forecasts for the nuclear fuel upwards following its dramatic run this year, driven by dwindling supplies and limited expansion opportunities. The spot price of uranium rose to $US138 a pound last week. It began the year at $US72 a pound.

Macquarie analysts Max Layton and John Moorhead believe the price will average about $US125 a pound this year, but have tipped a peak of about $US150 a pound by year's end. "We would not be surprised to see prices move up to around $US200 a pound over the next two years," they said, citing supply deficits and growing interest in speculative trading.

The world uranium market is expected to remain in deficit for at least the next two years as secondary supplies of ex-military uranium are depleted and miners race to catch up with demand. In March, Paladin Resources shipped the first uranium from its Langer Heinrich project in Namibia - the world's first new uranium mine in more than a decade.

Canada's Cameco was due to bring on the giant Cigar Lake mine soon but a flood last October will delay production until at least 2010. At the same time, concern about climate change has prompted a rush towards nuclear power, with 30 nuclear reactors under construction and 74 more planned.

Macquarie has forecast a 14.4 per cent rise in reactor requirements, but demand could be much higher with a further 182 reactors proposed, mostly in Asia. Resource Capital Research recently raised its uranium price forecast to $US125 a pound this year, and $US140 a pound next year. The value of Australian uranium explorers was up 23 per cent in the first three months of the year

Macquarie said reports suggested almost 20 per cent of mine supply, or about 8000 tonnes of uranium, was being held off the market by traders - and tipped increased speculative activity could quickly drive prices lower. Mr Layton and Mr Moorhead said traders, speculators and hedge funds could "very quickly become drivers of the down leg to this cycle".

The New York Mercantile Exchange launched a uranium futures market last month, which Macquarie has described as a "potentially bullish wild card". The June contract closed yesterday at $US137 a pound, while the December contract was at $US148.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, June 14, 2007


An email from Jay Lehr, Science Director, The Heartland Institute []

Why doesn't some one call a spade a spade and explain that essentially all G8 Summit efforts to forge a global warming pact are nothing more than a charade to make the world think these world leaders are doing something for humanity while in most cases they are powerless to even improve the economies and quality of life for their own citizens.

Margaret Mead the famous anthropologist once told me that in every culture she studied there was an effort by the haves to collectivise the have-nots. She said it would appear that socialism is to society what weeds are to a garden. Both will always be with us. The wave of global warming rhetoric sweeping the world is just the latest example of this on a larger scale than ever attempted before. While it will fail as have all efforts to collectivise society, it could well set progress for mankind back a few decades.


George Monbiot, the environmental campaigner, scourge of the automobile industry and champion of not owning cars, has finally bought himself . . . a car. Notwithstanding pledges to live a green lifestyle and be a model to others, he has given in to temptation and acquired a secondhand Renault.

The car industry will be silently celebrating the news. Monbiot has championed an anticar movement that has grown rapidly in influence to the point where many owners now feel guilty about using their cars. His most recent book Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning was a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic. He once described the pro-car lobby as "antisocial bastards" and has blamed cars for ruining children's lives. "Our children are growing upsocially stunted: instead of playing together they are playing alone on their computers, partly because the streets are both dangerous and choked with cars."

In what can only be described as a comprehensive U-turn, Monbiot has chosen a Renault Clio, an economical hatchback but not the most frugal in fuel consumption or carbon emissions. He bought it from a friend for an undisclosed amount. As zealots will be quick to remind him, it emits 115g/km , 10% higher than a Toyota Prius, the petrol-electric hybrid belovedof CO2 of the green movement.

Jeremy Clarkson, Monbiot's long-standing antagonist, said: "I'm glad he hasn't gone for a Prius - that would have marked him out as an idiot. I just hope the bonnet doesn't fly up [Renault Clios have been criticised for faulty bonnet catches] because he'll be killed - then where would the world be?"

Monbiot says the Clio is the first car he has owned since he sold a Ford Escort in 1989. His move from Oxford to rural Wales with his family in January meant a change of lifestyle, and he discovered he needed personal transport. "I had cars from 1982 to 1989, then I didn't have a car until about six weeks ago," he says. "I've had to break a long-time commitment, but the only way to get by, we decided, was to have the occasional use of a car."

For ordinary motorists struggling with their consciences, Monbiot's decision will come as no surprise and will prompt the obvious question: if one of the country's highest-profile green campaigners can't manage without a car, how can the average commuter? Monbiot admits he is open to charges of hypocrisy but says people he has so far confessed to have been understanding. "I still feel pretty awful about it," he admits. "The rule is, if it's at all possible to travel by any other means, then that's what we do. The car is a last resort and I haven't even used a tank of petrol yet." (The Clio is in fact a diesel.)



This is only a theory but so is what it displaces. It is however a theory based on new evidence

Don't look now, but another big chunk of the "evidence" for man-made global warming suddenly disappeared. Poof! Researchers just reported that the world's most recent case of "abrupt climate change" - which occurred a mere 12,000 years ago - was probably due to a comet strike, not to "climate sensitivity." The Younger Dryas occurred as an Ice Age was ending. As the climate began to warm, a huge and sudden rush of fresh meltwater broke out from the Great Lakes and swept out to sea. The water surge was monumental enough that the meltwater lowered the salinity of the ocean, shut down the Atlantic conveyor currents, which disperse the planet's heat, and threw the northern hemisphere back into another thousand years of Ice Age. It raised temperatures near Greenland by a startling 15 degrees C, even as it doubled annual rainfall.

Modern climatologists have savored the Younger Dryas event as massive evidence of what comes when we push the planet's climate too close to a "tipping point." Further human-driven warming, they say, will make such abrupt climate changes more likely, with searing droughts, torrential rainfall, and extreme heat. The National Academy of Sciences issued a 2002 report titled Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises, which said abrupt climate changes have been especially common when the climate system was being forced to change most rapidly. According to that theory, greenhouse warming today could be drastically increasing risks from climate change.

At least, that's what the experts said until the latest meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Acapulco on May 23rd when James Kennett of the University of California/Santa Barbara presented evidence of a dramatically different cause for the Younger Dryas event: a comet that struck somewhere near the Great Lakes. "Highest concentrations of extraterrestrial impact materials occur in the Great Lakes area and spread out from there," Kennett says. "It would have had major effects on humans. Immediate effects would have been in the North and East, producing shockwaves, heat, flooding, wildfires, and a destruction and fragmentation of the human population."

Paleontologists had assumed a huge lake of meltwater accumulated near the Great Lakes due to the Ice Age ending, but had never located its possible site. Nor have they explained a thin layer of charred sediment found throughout North America that dates from 12,000 years ago. The sediment layer contains carbon spheres whose creation would have required temperatures of at least 4000 C. Electron microscopes reveal that the carbon beads contain tiny diamonds whose creation would have required enormous temperatures and pressures. The U.S. sediment layer does not contain much iridium, which is the telltale signal of an asteroid strike. That argues for a comet, made up primarily of "dirty ice," rather than an asteroid like the one which hit Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs.

Kennett says the ice sheet could have absorbed the impact of the comet's "dirty ice," even as the comet's heat produced the flood of meltwater. Kennett says the comet may have destroyed 15 mammal species and might have left only a few surviving humans from North America's early Clovis culture. America's bison survived, but much smaller in size and with a remarkable similarity in their DNA-indicating that they descended from a small group of comet survivors.

The comet theory comes as a crushing blow to the climate alarmists. It follows the publication of Unstoppable Global Warming-Every 1,500 Years, which assembles the historic and scientific evidence of a long, natural climate cycle that swings temperatures about 2-4 degrees C over its lifetime-accounting for the Medieval Warming, the Roman Warming and the Holocene Warming 5,000 years ago.

Then came Henrik Svensmark's demonstration at the Danish Space Research Institute, of how cosmic rays link changes in the sun's irradiance to the formation of the low, wet clouds that cover more than 20 percent of the earth. The clouds are nature's thermostats, deflecting more or less heat back out to space depending on the sun's strength.

Now the alarmists have lost the "abrupt climate change" of the Younger Dryas. More and more, recent science is pointing to our modern warming as being part of a 1500-year cycle that stretches back at least a million years. If the Younger Dryas was caused by a comet, perhaps we should rethink being frightened by the neighbor's SUV.



THE government's policy of promoting biofuels for transport will come under harsh attack this week from one of its senior science advisers. Roland Clift will tell a seminar of the Royal Academy of Engineering that the plan to promote bioethanol and biodiesel produced from plants is a "scam".

Clift, professor of environmental technology at Surrey University, sits on the scientific advisory council of Defra, David Miliband's environment department. He will tell the seminar that promoting the use of biofuels is likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions. Clift's comments will amount to a direct challenge to Miliband, who has published a strategy promoting biofuels.

It coincides with a surge of anger among environmentalists over the weak pledges on climate change that emerged from last week's G8 summit. The audience on Thursday will also include Howard Dalton, Miliband's chief scientist at Defra, who is expected to speak in defence of biofuels.

Clift said: "Biodiesel is a complete scam because in the tropics the growing demand is causing forests to be burnt to make way for palm oil and similar crops. "We calculate that the land will need to grow biodiesel crops for 70-300 years to compensate for the CO2 emitted in forest destruction."

Clift will also condemn plans to produce British biodiesel from rapeseed, pointing to research showing the crop generates copious amounts of nitrous oxide - an even more powerful global warming gas than CO2

The attack comes as the government increases its support for biofuels. Next year it will introduce a requirement for 3% of all fuel sold on UK forecourts to come from a renewable source. Across the EU the renewable transport fuels obligation will increase this to 5% by 2010, with the British government pushing for a target of 10%. Miliband wants British farming to diversify into biofuels. "It is an important part of our vision for a diversified farming sector," he said in a recent speech.



Last week we held a school meeting to tackle the disturbing problem of childhood obesity. The jolly headmistress put forward a plan by which we should all subscribe to a binding target that the children will reduce their average weight by five kilos in five years' time. George, the school bully, disagreed. George said the targets plan was purely rhetorical and the operative date so far in the future that it relieved everyone of the burden of doing anything now. We would do better to focus on policies rather than statements of aspiration and undertake research and analysis of why children were so fat and what could be done about it.

But George is less fractious since the Iraqi gang started teasing him and we all went away having strongly agreed to consider losing weight. The rest of the world berates the US for failure to ratify the Kyoto treaty but it makes little difference whether countries adhere to the treaty or not. Apart from the estimable Swedes, the only important countries likely to come close to meeting their carbon reduction obligations are Britain and Germany, and these for unrelated reasons.

Margaret Thatcher took revenge on the union leader Arthur Scargill by closing coal production and market forces shut down the polluting heavy industry of the old communist provinces. The carbon emissions trading scheme borders on farce, doing little to reduce emissions but providing a subsidy to emitters. Angela Merkel, born in the east, would surely recognise the problem.

Planners at the centre, conjuring targets from the air and marshalling stage armies of workers and resources, were distant from the realities of what was happening on the ground. That dissonance leads to a frame of mind in which every failure is the preliminary to yet more heroic declaration. The general reaction to Kyoto's operational irrelevance has not been to ask why the agreement has failed to achieve its aims but to assert that we must embrace still more ambitious goals in a successor treaty.

It is boorish of the US to point out that this is humbug, but their offence is to articulate what any sensible person should feel. Energy, along with agriculture, is the last home of the methods of socialist planning. Agriculture exemplifies micro-management, in which yet more complex measures follow from the unintended consequences of earlier plans, and carbon trading promises to go the same way.

Energy offers an irresistible temptation to engage in long-range planning because of the extended lead times associated with investment in both production and consumption. All such planning requires that those who would undertake it hold information that they do not have and to which they cannot realistically aspire. Britain is still paying for the massive programme of investment in electricity generation begun in the 1960s, forged in the then prime minister Harold Wilson's "white heat of technology", language reminiscent of Mao's great leap forward and with results only somewhat less disastrous.

The plans ran massively over time and over budget, which mattered less than it might have because the capacity was not needed anyway. The antidote is modesty of aspiration and acknowledgement that many uncertainties cannot be resolved. Britain, perhaps alone in Europe, has learnt this lesson about energy policy, even though the preoccupation with climate change has revived the delusion that computer modelling can allow us to describe the future.

New investment has been small-scale and incremental and has required no leaps of faith or technological breakthroughs. So it should remain. In an uncertain world, successful economic development - whether directed towards economic growth or environmental friendliness - is piecemeal, tentative and adaptive. That is why we should not allow Europe's energy needs to be planned by multinational, multi-utility behemoths or set a target for the temperature of the world. It is also why when people tell us what the planet will or should be like in 2050, we should recall how large and unforeseeable have been the economic, political and environmental changes in every 50-year period for the past several centuries.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

An easy way of getting rid of CO2 (If we are stupid enough to waste the building blocks of all life on earth)

Greenies won't like the method of course -- as it does not make us suffer

MOST solutions to the problem of global warming are tediously, almost oppressively, quotidian. Switch the lights off. Stop using fossil fuels to make electricity. Run an efficient car. Don't fly. A few grandiose projects have also been suggested, such as giant parasols in space or adding iron to the ocean to encourage planktonic algae to grow and soak up carbon dioxide. On the whole, though, those big ideas are either mad or could have dangerously unpredictable consequences.

That does not mean that lateral thinking about the problem has no place. And the idea proposed by Alfred Wong of the University of California, Los Angeles, at last week's meeting of the American Geophysical Union, in Acapulco, is about as lateral as they come. Dr Wong reckons the problem is not so much that CO2 is being thrown away, but that it is not being thrown far enough. According to his calculations, a little helping hand would turn the Earth's magnetic field into a conveyor belt that would vent the gas into outer space, whence it would never return.

The site of the conveyor Dr Wong is proposing to build is the Arctic. More specifically, he is suggesting it be over one of his workplaces, the High Power Auroral Stimulation facility near Fairbanks in Alaska that he set up 20 years ago to stimulate and study artificial auroras.

The Arctic sky is special because it is one of the two places (the other being the Antarctic) where the magnetic shield of the Earth opens up to outer space. Auroras, such as the one pictured above, pleasingly testify to a stream of particles from the sun that gets through and hits the atmosphere. These particles bring with them many gigawatts of power that Dr Wong wants to harness to reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

His idea starts with the fact that CO2 molecules like to team up with loose electrons, to form CO2 ions. A few percent of the CO2 molecules in the air manage to find such electrons. As a result they become negatively charged.

The second piece of luck is that all over the Earth there is a constant vertical electrical field. The surface and the atmosphere form a giant battery, as the lightning discharges of thunderstorms demonstrate. This field tends to make negatively charged ions, such as those of CO2, drift upward. At first this happens slowly, because collisions with other molecules keep throwing the drifting ions off course. But after a few days they arrive at an altitude, about 125km up, which is so rarefied that an ion can move freely about. This is when the last stage of their one-way trip into space begins: sailing along the magnetic field of the Earth.

High in the polar regions, the lines of magnetic force point almost straight upwards. When a charged particle is in a magnetic field, it tends to travel along that field's lines of force, spiralling as it goes. In the case of a CO2 ion at an altitude of 125km, it spirals round 17 times a second.

However, as it travels upwards, it experiences a weakening field. It must then make fewer turns per second, in obedience to a law of physics called the conservation of magnetic moment (this is similar to the law of conservation of angular momentum that slows a spinning ice dancer down as he spreads his arms). And because it cannot just shed its energy of movement, it is forced to travel faster and faster in the direction of the field. The eventual result is that it is ejected into space.

That, at least, is the theory. And although CO2 is too rare even in today's atmosphere for the phenomenon to be detected by existing satellites, an equivalent ejection of oxygen, a far more abundant gas, can be detected from space. So it seems more than likely that Dr Wong's analysis of what is going on in nature is right. The question is, can CO2 molecules be given an artificial leg-up into space, so that they leave the atmosphere in sufficient numbers to make a difference to climate change? Dr Wong thinks they can.

The leg-up he proposes comes in two stages. First, he has to ionise more CO2. There are many ways this might be done, but for a first experiment Dr Wong proposes zapping dust in the atmosphere with powerful lasers, to release electrons that can then combine with CO2. Having created the ions, he will then nudge those that have drifted upwards to the appropriate height with radio waves of exactly 17 cycles a second, which will give them a nice stock of energy at the beginning of their spiralling phase.

Once they are there, Dr Wong expects the incoming stream of charged particles that cause auroras to deliver the bonus that will make the whole thing work, by dumping some of their energy into the spiralling as well. This should happen through a process called stochastic resonance: the spiralling molecules get preferential treatment, so to speak, because they stand out in what is otherwise an environment of random movements.

So far, Dr Wong has only rough calculations of the energy needs of his scheme, but these suggest that his lasers and radio transmitters, even if powered by fossil-fuel generated electricity, should cause far less CO2 to be put into the atmosphere than they ship out of it. The key to this efficiency is the free energy arriving by stochastic resonance. If the particles do their bit, he thinks that a few dozen megawatts of additional electrical power is all that will be needed to make a dent in the amount of CO2. Exactly how big that dent would be, he is not yet sure. But he is pretty sure it would be big enough to help.


Kyoto exits (stage Left)

Kyoto is dead. You didn't read about it in the paper, but like the famous Dead Parrot sketch in Monty Python, it's a goner. The G-8 leaders of the biggest economies in the world just proclaimed a "compromise": George W. Bush would accept that climate change is a possible problem, and all the Europeans would change the Kyoto target from 2012 to 2050! The National Post of Canada writes:

"The Kyoto accord will survive as a rallying point for environmentalists. But as a relevant policy instrument, it effectively died this week at a seaside German resort.

If nothing else, the G8 agreement on climate change put an end to the aggressive push by one-note environmentalists --- such as Al Gore and Stephane Dion --- to impoverish Western economies by insisting they meet arbitrary emission targets by 2012. From now on, international leaders will be looking for bigger cuts than those mandated under Kyoto, but within more workable deadlines -- 50% by 2050 being one benchmark under discussion."

Well, a lot is bound to change between now and 2050. For one thing, we'll have much better science. And a lot better technology. And China and India will be major economic powers. Europe's "screw America" attitude will certainly change, because Europe changes all its attitudes every couple of decades.

So Kyoto is a goner. Aussgepufft, you might call it. And good riddance, because it was a terrible idea, based on insecure science and speculative models, leading to a vast and self-destructive allocation of enormous economic resources to a ghostly globalist fantasies of doom. It was a terrible idea that would have wreaked permanent damage, just to empower the transnational elites.

In fact, the whole dialogue is beginning to sound like Monty Python.

Reality: "Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now."

Green elites: "No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!"

Reality: "The plumage don't enter into it. It's stone dead."

Greens: "Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting!"

Reality: "All right then, if he's restin', I'll wake him up! (shouting at the cage) 'Ello, Mister Polly Parrot! I've got a lovely fresh cuttle fish for you if you show..."


The mainstream media will be late with the real news, as usual. But give them a couple of months to change their story line, and they'll have to talk up the G-8 "compromise" as real progress for the world. And then they'll have to find another eco-scare. What'll it be? Bird flu? Flesh-eating bacteria? Attack of the Killer Tomatoes? Nope, those have been done. Check your local theaters for the next eco attack


Greens want to keep the poor as they are

"People here have no jobs," Mark Fenn admitted, after taking documentary producers on a tour of his $35,000 catamaran and the site of his new coastal home. "But if you could count how many times they smile in a day, if you could measure stress" and compare that with "well-off people" in London or New York, "then tell me, who is rich and who is poor?" Fenn is coordinator of the World Wildlife Fund's campaign against a proposed mining project near Fort Dauphin, Madagascar. The locals strongly support the project and want the jobs, development, improved living standards and environmental quality the state-of-the-art operation will bring.

People there live in abject poverty, along dirt roads, in dirt-floor shacks, and are hardly able to afford food on their $1,000-a-year average incomes. There is little power, no indoor plumbing. The local rain forest has been destroyed for firewood and slash-and-burn farming. People barely eke out a living.

But Fenn claims the mine will change the "quaint" village and harm the environment. He says he feels "like a resident," his children "were born and raised" there, and the locals "don't consider education to be important" and would just spend their money on parties, jeans and stereos. Actually, Fenn lives 300 miles away and sends his children to school in South Africa. And the locals hardly conform to his insulting stereotypes. "If I had money, I would open a grocery store," said one. "Send my children to school," start a business, become a midwife, build a new house, said others.

You have to see the film, "Mine Your Own Business," to fully grasp the callous disdain these radicals have for the world's poor. Don Imus' intemperate remarks were insensitive. But Fenn's demeaning, even racist, statements perpetuate misery.

These enemies of the poor say they are "stakeholders" wishing to "preserve" indigenous people and villages. They never consider what's wanted by the real stakeholders - those who live in these communities and must endure the consequences of harmful campaigns waged all over the world.

The WWF, Greenpeace, Oxfam, Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network and other multinational activist groups battle mines in Romania, Peru, Chile, Ghana and Indonesia; electricity projects in Uganda, India and Nepal; biotechnology that could improve farm incomes and reduce malnutrition in Kenya, India, Brazil and the Philippines; and DDT that could slash malaria rates in Africa, where the disease kills 3,000 children a day.

They harp on technology's speculative hazards and ignore real, life-or-death dangers that modern mining, development and technology would reduce or prevent. They never mention the jobs, clinics, schools, roads, improved housing and small business opportunities - or the electricity, refrigeration, safe water, better nutrition, reduced disease and fewer dead children. They pervert "sustainable development" to mean no development, and ignore how mines will lay the foundation that will sustain prosperity and better living standards for generations.

Agitators use global warming and "corporate social responsibility" to force companies to acquiesce to their agendas - and ignore human rights to energy and technology, and people's desperate cries for a chance to take their rightful places among the Earth's healthy and prosperous people.

They extol the virtues of microcredit, to support minimal family enterprises, and demand debt forgiveness and more foreign aid for corrupt dictators - but oppose economic development that would eliminate the need for international welfare. They blame Newmont Mining for accidents that killed five people over a two-year period in Ghana, but refuse to admit that their pressure campaigns cause millions of deaths every year. One could justifiably call it eco-manslaughter - or a racist experiment on powerless, impoverished Third World families.

Yes, there are environmental impacts from mines, dams and other development. There are health and other risks. But the Industrial Revolution also brought those changes. Are we worse off for it? Do we want to return to the jobs, lifestyles and living standards of pre-industrial, pre-electric America, when 95% of Americans were farmers, cholera and malaria were ever-present, and the average life expectancy was 45?

Would any of the greens, politicians and celebrities who clamor to keep the world's poor "indigenous" (and thus impoverished, energy-deprived and diseased) care to live that lifestyle for even one month? Would they exchange their 10,000-square-foot mansions for a hovel, give up electricity and stop globe-trotting in private jets?

Why hasn't the United Nations criticized the institutional racism being perpetrated in the name of "saving the planet"? Where are U.S. civil rights groups, media, churches and these poor countries' leaders? This intolerable situation cannot continue. People of conscience must no longer remain silent.


Church concerns

In the past, Tom Mullen, President of Catholic Cleveland Charities, testified on his concern about the rising costs of energy that would be caused by the imposition of a carbon cap and trade scheme. Specifically, he said that the one-fourth of children in his city living in poverty:

"will suffer further loss of basic needs as their moms are forced to make choices of whether to pay the rent or live in a shelter; pay the heating bill or see their child freeze; buy food or risk the availability of a hunger center."

Recently, the Congressional Budget Office found that an allowance allocation scheme would increase costs to the poor - who already spend up to five times as much of their monthly outlays for energy. The report found that it would transfer wealth from the poor to the rich. A reverse Robin Hood, if you will.

These thoughts were echoed in a letter sent to me yesterday by Barrett Duke, Vice President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention - which I request be entered into the record along with a resolution passed last June by the Southern Baptist Convention on Environment and Evangelicals. Duke wrote in his letter that that the science was unsettled and if global warming policies:

"make the delivery of electricity to [undeveloped countries] more difficult, millions of people will be condemned to more hardship, more disease, shorter lives and more poverty."

What makes this all the more tragic is the science to buttress global warming hysteria is so shaky. That has led to increasing numbers of political leaders coming forth to publicly say so. The latest is former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt just this week said the topic of global warming is "hysterical, overheated, and that is especially because of the media. We've had warm- and ice-ages for hundreds of thousands of years." He added that believing we can alter global warming by any plans made at the G-8 is "idiotic." Schmidt's comments follow similarly strong statements by Czech President Vaclav Klaus and former French Socialist Party Leader Claude Allegre.

The global warming alarmists are becoming increasingly desperate as more and more scientists convert from belief in a man-made catastrophe to skeptics as new science becomes available. We will be issuing a report soon detailing the hundreds of scientists who have spoken out recently with differing views from Al Gore, the United Nations, Hollywood elitists, and the media's version of climate science.

Even putting the issue of science aside, religious leaders who have bought into the global warming hype need to consider the big picture of unintended consequences of legislative `solutions.' One example of unintended consequences by climate crusaders was the recent proclamation by a UK supermarket company announcing it would usher in `carbon friendly' policies and stop importing food from faraway nations. As a February 21, 2007 BBC report found:

"Kenyan farmers, whose lifelong carbon emissions are negligible compared with their counterparts in the West, are fast becoming the victims of a green campaign that could threaten their livelihoods."

We need to consider what Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg discovered: diverting precious resources to solve a so called "climate crisis" is not in the best interests of the developing worlds poor. `Solutions' to global warming may be much worse than the feared problem."

Next, let me discuss someone who the media frequently cites in an attempt to show evangelicals are moving toward the side of global warming activism - Rev. Richard Cizik, a global warming alarmist. A 2006 Vanity Fair Magazine article had Cizik posing for a picture where he was walking on water dressed like Jesus. Cizik shares the beliefs of liberals on the issue of population control. In a May 2006 speech to the World Bank, he told the audience, "I'd like to take on the population issue. We need to confront population control and we can-we're not Roman Catholics after all-but it's too hot to handle now." In short, Cizik does not represent the views of most evangelicals.

My final thoughts are about biblical perspectives. While I read the Bible, I do not pretend to be a scholar. But I have read what has been written by some scholars on the topic of man's relation to creation and what stewardship means from a biblical perspective. I would like at this time to introduce for the record the Cornwall Declaration, which I think provides a biblically based interpretation of God's calling to us to be stewards.

We should respect creation and be wise stewards, but we must be careful not to fall into the trap of secular environmentalists who believe that man is an afterthought on this Earth who is principally a polluter. Rather, we are made in God's image and should use the resources God has given us. I'll leave you with a final thought from Romans 1:25 "They gave up the truth about God for a lie, and they worshiped God's creation instead of God who will be praised forever. Amen."


China gets real about biofuel nonsense

China’s communist rulers announced a moratorium on the production of ethanol from corn and other food crops yesterday at the very time that Western leaders are rushing to embrace alternative food-based fuel technology. Beijing’s move underlines concerns that ethanol production is driving up rapidly the costs of corn and grain. It appears to reflect a growing reality about food-based alternative fuel: it is far more expensive both economically and environmentally, than Western politicians are likely to admit.

Calls for biofuels are politically attractive for European and US politicians, amid rising petrol prices and concerns about global warming and an overreliance on Middle Eastern oil.

Communist officials in Beijing, however, who do not have the political concerns of democratically elected leaders in the West, have reacted to a rapid rise in food prices and an intense demand on farm land that threatens to make ethanol production unsustainable.

President Bush, who with Britain wants to see a huge increase in corn-based ethanol, called in January for the annual production of 35 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol in the US. Although that is a hugely popular rhetoric in the Mid-west wheat belt states — the heart of America’s political battleground — environmentalists soon pointed out that such a goal would require an additional 129,000 square miles of farmland, an area the size of Kansas and Iowa combined.

The rush to corn-based ethanol is causing food-price inflation in the US, as it increases the cost of corn grain feedstock and the availability of the crop for such staples as cereal and corn syrup. The ethanol boom has created mass planting of corn at the expense of other crops, which helps to drive up prices, too. Futures prices for corn in the US have nearly doubled in eight months.

In China grain security has for decades been at the top of the party’s political priority list, and a 43 per cent increase in the price of China’s staple meat — pork — over last year to recent record highs as a result of rapidly rising feed prices is certain to have triggered concern at the highest level of the party. Xu Dingming, an official of the National Energy Leading Group, told a recent seminar: “Food-based ethanol fuel will not be the direction for China.”



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007


11/06/2007: Augie Auer has died. The veteran meteorologist and former TV3 weather presenter suffered a heart attack in Melbourne while dining with family members last night. He was on holiday to celebrate his wedding anniversary and 67th birthday. His son Andy is planning to travel to Australia this afternoon to help with plans to bring Mr Auer's body back to New Zealand.

Mr Auer emigrated to New Zealand in 1990 after 22-years at the University of Wyoming as Professor of Atmospheric Science. In New Zealand he became the chief meteorologist for MetService until 1998. He is attributed with improving and updating the technical competence of the MetService weather forecasting staff. In 1998 he became TV3's weekday weather presenter and the network's resident meteorologist in 2002. He recently became involved in the debate over global warming, helping to found the Climate Science Coalition, a group that questions claims humanity is responsible for rising temperatures.

Coalition spokesman Owen McShane says news of his death comes as a terrible shock. He says Mr Auer was simply a good man and despite often being the subject of personal abuse for his stance on climate change, he never let it get to him.

See here for a recent reference to Augie Auer

Bush 1, Greens 0

Just call him George W. Bush, star international diplomat. Don't snicker, don't spit out your coffee. Instead, read over the final document on climate change released yesterday by the Group of Eight. Yes, it ' s a major shift in how the world will address the supposed threat of global warming. It ' s also largely the vision put forth years ago by none other than George W. Bush -- that international cowboy -- even if few European politicians will admit it.

Don't expect anyone to admit it. When Mr. Bush unveiled his new climate framework last week, calling on the world ' s powers to reduce greenhouse emissions, it was portrayed as a capitulation. He ' d removed the last "obstacle" to world unity on this issue, and seen the error of his ways. At this week ' s Democratic presidential debate, every candidate vowed to fix the damage Mr. Bush had done to America ' s international reputation, his Kyoto failure the obvious example.

There ' s been a capitulation on global warming, but it hasn ' t happened in the Oval Office. The Kyoto cheerleaders at the United Nations and the European Union are realizing their government-run experiment in climate control is a mess, one that ' s incidentally failed to reduce carbon emissions. They ' ve also understood that if they want the biggest players on board -- the U.S., China, India -- they need an approach that balances economic growth with feel-good environmentalism. Yesterday ' s G-8 agreement acknowledged those realities and tolled Kyoto ' s death knell. Mr. Bush, 1; sanctimonious greens, 0.

Not that the president ' s handling of the climate issue has been stellar. The science of global warming is still unsettled, yet Mr. Bush in 2002 caved and laid out a voluntary emissions-reduction program. Instead of getting credit, he ' s spent the ensuing years getting shellacked for not doing more. This has laid the groundwork for today ' s calls for mandatory curbs that would harm the economy. It ' s also given Washington an excuse to re-micromanage the energy sector. Think ethanol.

But compared to Kyoto , Mr. Bush ' s vision has been sublime. The basic Kyoto philosophy is this: Set ever lower mandatory targets, ratcheting down energy use, and by extension economic growth. The program was viewed by environmentalists and politicians as a convenient excuse for getting rid of unpopular fossil fuels, such as coal. In Kyoto-world, governments exist to create draconian rules, even if those dictates are disguised by "market" mechanisms such as cap-and-trade.

President Bush ' s approach is opposite: Allow economies to grow, along the way inspiring new technologies and new forms of energy that lower C02 emissions. Implicit is that C02-control technologies should focus on energy sources we use today, including fossil fuels. In Bush-world, the government is there to incentivize industry, coordinate with it, and set broad goals.

Take your pick. Under the vaunted Kyoto, from 2000 to 2004, Europe managed to increase its emissions by 2.3 percentage points over 1995 to 2000. Only two countries are on track to meet targets. There ' s rampant cheating, and endless stories of how select players are self-enriching off the government "market" in C02 credits. Meanwhile, in the U.S., under the president ' s oh-so-unserious plan, U.S. emissions from 2000 to 2004 were eight percentage points lower than in the prior period.

Europeans may be slow, but they aren ' t silly, and they ' ve quietly come around to some of Mr. Bush ' s views. Tony Blair has been a leader here, and give him credit for caring enough about his signature issue to evolve. He began picking up Mr. Bush ' s pro-tech themes years ago, as it became clear just how much damage a Kyoto would do to his country ' s competitiveness. By the end of 2005, he admitted at a conference in New York that Kyoto was a problem. "I would say probably I ' m changing my thinking about this in the past two or three years," he said. "The truth is, no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long-term environmental problem." He doubted there would be successor to Kyoto , which expires in 2012, and said an alternative might be "incentives" for businesses. Mr. Bush couldn ' t have said it better.

Or consider nuclear plants. President Bush has pushed hard for more nuclear, with its bountiful energy at zero C02 cost. This was long anathema to British and German politicians, whose populations are virulently anti-nuke and who balked at any official recognition of nuclear benefits. As Kyoto has ratcheted down other energy sources, nuclear has looked better. By 2005, the G-8 document out of Gleneagles contained an explicit acknowledgment that nuclear energy mattered. The EU ' s energy pact, signed earlier this year, also contained a nod to nuclear. Europe has also gone from trying to banish coal, to using tech to make it cleaner.

Then there's Mr. Bush ' s insistence that any "global" program must include big emitters such as China and India ( Kyoto doesn ' t). Though it received little press, the U.S. in 2005 started the Asia-Pacific Partnership, a voluntary climate pact between it and Australia, Japan, South Korea, China and India . Unlike Kyoto -- in which a government sets a national target for emissions, and then forces a few unlucky industries to make cuts -- the Partnership gets industry execs from every sector across the table from relevant government ministers, and devises practical approaches to reductions. This parallel diplomatic approach has proved far more acceptable to countries like China , and played a role in that country ' s own recently released climate plan.

Pride is pride, and the Europeans haven't entirely given up on Kyoto principles. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has spearheaded these climate talks, went into this G-8 meeting in Heiligendamm advocating binding reductions. Yet she admitted earlier this week that her plan was off the table, as the U.S. held firm.

Yesterday ' s declaration, far from mandatory targets, instead sets a "global goal" of halving emissions by 2050. It invites the "major emerging economies" to join in this endeavor. It acknowledges that different approaches across the world can "coordinate rather than compete." It reports that "technology is a key to mastering climate change" and lauds government "incentives." It admits that "over the next 25 years, fossil fuels will remain the world ' s dominant source of energy," and talks up the "peaceful use of nuclear energy." It even explains that any program "must be undertaken in a way that supports growth in developing, emerging and industrialized economies." Close your eyes, and you might think this was President Bush in the Rose Garden.

Will congressional Democrats prove as pragmatic? Even as Europeans have wised up, the left has been pushing for a Kyoto here. Should Democrats start to stumble on the difficulties, they could always ask Mr. Bush -- that new international climate ambassador -- for some advice.


Green tyranny turns up the heat

The article below is MOST unusual from a Scottish newspaper. A sign that the tide is turning?

'THERE is very important climatic change going on right now, and it's not merely something of academic interest. It is something that, if it continues, will affect the whole human occupation of the earth - like a billion people starving. The effects are already showing up in a rather drastic way." Wow! Scary, or what?

Well, actually, not very. That apocalyptic warning was conveyed in an article in Fortune magazine in 1974, on the alarming phenomenon of global cooling and an imminent new Ice Age. The American Institute of Physics awarded the magazine a Science Writing Award. By last year, Fortune's doomsday scenario had discernibly altered to: "The media agrees with the majority of scientists: global warming is here. Now, what to do about it?"

So much for expert and media opinion on climate change. If, however, you are tempted to mock these naked emperors, have a care. Scepticism may soon incur severe penalties. David Roberts, an American climate militant, recently wrote of global warming sceptics, "we should have war crimes trials for these bastards - some sort of climate Nuremberg". Mark Lynas, another Green propagandist, mused: "I wonder what sentences judges might hand down at future international criminal tribunals on those who will be partially but directly responsible for millions of deaths from starvation, famine and disease in decades ahead. I put [climate change denial] in a similar moral category to Holocaust denial."

To listen for two minutes to a global warming zealot is to appreciate how open-minded Osama bin Laden is. The derogatory term 'climate change denier' is part of a massive propaganda exercise to demonise those who dissent from an imposed orthodoxy. The leftist think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has advised supporters, "at least for popular communications, interested agencies now need to treat the argument as having been won. This means simply behaving as if climate change exists and is real, and that individual actions are effective... The 'facts' need to be treated as being so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken."

In classic totalitarian style, indoctrination of children is a priority. Last March, pupils at Prestonpans Infant and Nursery School, East Lothian, earned plaudits by objecting to a fund-raising balloon race, on the grounds that balloons might harm dolphins and turtles. They insisted a ban on balloon races be written into the school's 'green constitution'. A promising beginning: with further education, these Young Pioneers [a reference to Soviet youth groups] may eventually be trained to denounce their parents for eco-crimes.

Suppression of dissent is made necessary by the inconsistencies between the Greens' propaganda and observed reality. Their claim that the polar ice-caps are melting and sea levels rising was contradicted even by the recent fourth report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which unobtrusively reduced its 2001 prediction of sea level rises by 52.7%, to preserve a minimal scientific credibility. As for the Arctic ice-cap, shrinkage has been observed - it happens seasonally - but its depth increased as it bunched up close to the Canadian land-mass. At the opposite pole, despite much-hyped film of the Larsen ice shelf fragmenting, the ice mass has increased by 8%. Temperatures in East Antarctica have fallen, which is what one would expect if the sun is the principal agent in climate change.

Al Gore, the Greens' answer to Sergei Eisenstein, has made an ironically entitled film, An Inconvenient Truth, denouncing man-made global warming. It proved an own-goal when the core ice samples featured in it demonstrated that increased CO2 emissions have historically followed 800 years after periods of warming, rather than preceding them. The UN's team of tame scientists is often invoked as definitively authoritative. They are chosen for their compliance with the climate agenda. In this instance, the normal scientific discipline is reversed: the conclusion is preordained and the men in white coats are expected to construct the evidence - a convenient untruth.

The CO2 hysteria is absurd, considering the minute contribution made by human beings. Of course the climate is changing - it always has done, hence the thriving vineyards of Northumberland in the 12th century and the Thames frozen three feet deep in the 19th - but human activity is largely irrelevant. The world's climate is controlled by solar activity, by variations in the earth's rotation and orbit, by external factors in space and, terrestrially, by clouds and volcanic activity. If the Canutes of the IPCC imagine they can control those elements, they are even more infatuated than they appear.

This is not a scientific but a political issue. Fear is the instrument used by governments to increase their power over citizens: the 'War on Terror' is an example. The grand peur orchestrated over climate change affords governments an opportunity to impose unimaginable restrictions on their populations. The UN - the most ambitious criminal enterprise in history - is the instrument of supra-national authority that will rubber-stamp the new tyranny. That assembly of dictators, genocides and thieves cut its teeth on scams such as the Oil for Food programme in Iraq. Now it is casting its net wider.

There is a bad time coming. Life in the developed world will be made a misery with compulsory recycling, statutory imposition of mercury-based light bulbs that damage the eyesight, escalating eco-taxes and myriad regulations that will reduce us to environmental servitude. The Scottish landscape is being raped by hideous, non-productive (but highly profitable) wind turbines. The amoral concept of 'carbon trading' will freeze economic advance in the developing world, as governments trade their populations' access to technology for hard cash destined to repose in Swiss banks. Crooks, both institutional and individual, will make billions.

Dr Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, claimed that, if the Kyoto programme is implemented, "millions of lives will be lost that could otherwise be saved and the eventual impact of climate change on the Third World will be much worse as countries will be less equipped to adapt". The real 'bastards' who will kill millions are the Greens. Nuremberg trials, anyone?


Global warming as fashion

The climate debate is reaching a crisis. When I hear the words "global warming", my temperature rises to the point where I want to reach for a gun. Back in 1976 BCCC (Before Catastrophic Climate Change), Peter Cook and Dudley Moore did a Derek and Clive sketch called Cancer, tut-tutting over everything as a symptom of the big C. "I heard that George Stit had moved away from the Willesden area and gone up round Chadwell Heath." "Cancer?" "Yeah." "Tch, Christ. You remember the Nolan twins? . . . They've taken up darts." "Cancer?" "Yep." "Tch." If they were around to remake that sketch in AD (Anno Doom-ini) 2007 it might be called Global Warming.

Man-made global warming has become the new Act of God, to be blamed for everything people fear or loathe. The numberwatch website has an impressive list ranging from A for allergies to W for world bankruptcy. Global warming is now the default argument for putting your pet cause on the side of the angels. The path to the moral high ground is apparently monopolised by those leaving smaller carbon footprints.

Worse, man-made global warming always seems to be the ethical argument for cooling or even freezing man-made development. An Inuit from Greenland shipped in to tell a public inquiry why Stansted airport should not damage Essex woodlands summed up the case. He conceded it wouldn't make much difference to climate change, but "everyone can say that about almost everything they do. It is an excuse for doing nothing". Yet most things we are told to do - from scrabbling in compost to cancelling holiday flights - will not make much difference to anything.

More to the point, the crusade against global warming is now the biggest "excuse for doing nothing", an all-purpose argument that airport expansions must be grounded, road proposals parked, housing schemes demolished and the lights put out on new power stations.

It is hard to see how anybody can be sure of "the truth about climate change", given the highly politicised state of this ostensibly scientific discussion. But we can be pretty certain that there is no history of solving problems through standing still or turning the meter backwards. The farther ahead humanity moves, the better equipped we are to cope with anything.

Not everything that emits more carbon is evil, and treading on a flower is not necessarily a matter of planetary life and death. There's a good reason, for example, why London is the biggest sinner on the new map of UK carbon emissions: it is where more people live, and lead productive lives. Let us all pledge to try to cut emissions of climate hysteria - "before", as they say, "it's too late!" and civilisation freezes over.


Horrors! The slight global warming during the 20th century has been good for trees!

For more than two decades, northern hemisphere vegetation has become gradually more lush, according to new research based on NASA satellite data. Researchers confirm that plant life seen above 40 degrees north latitude, which represents a line stretching from New York to Madrid to Beijing, has been growing more vigorously since 1981. One possible cause is rising temperatures, linked perhaps to the buildup of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

The area of northern vegetation has not actually expanded, but it has increased in density. The growing season has also increased by several days. Furthermore, Eurasia appears to be greening more than North America, with more lush vegetation for longer periods of time. "When we looked at temperature and satellite vegetation data, we saw that year-to-year changes in growth and the duration of the growing season were tightly linked to year-to-year changes in temperature," said Liming Zhou of Boston University.

Zhou and colleagues also examined the differences in vegetation growth between North America and Eurasia, because the patterns and magnitudes of warming on the two continents are different.

The greenness data from satellites were strongly correlated with temperature data from thousands of meteorological stations on both sides of the world. The Eurasian greening was especially persistent over a broad area from central Europe through Siberia to far-east Russia, where most of the vegetation is forests and woodlands. North America, in comparison, shows a fragmented pattern of change notable only in the forests of the East and grasslands of the upper Midwest.

Dramatic changes in the timing of both the appearance and fall of leaves are recorded in these two decades of satellite data. The researchers reported a growing season in Eurasia that is now nearly 18 days longer than it was before. Spring arrives a week early and autumn is delayed by 10 days. In North America, the growing season appears to be as much as 12 days longer.

The researchers used a temperature data set developed from the Global Historical Climate Network. Dr. James Hansen, of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, developed this data set and said, "The data were compiled from several thousand meteorological stations in the United States and around the world. The stations also include many rural sites where the data are collected by cooperative private observers."

Scientists believe the results indicate a greener planetary greenhouse. "This is an important finding because of possible implications to the global carbon cycle," said Ranga Myneni of Boston University. "However, more research is needed to determine how much carbon is being absorbed, and how much longer it will continue." Carbon dioxide is a main greenhouse gas, and scientists suspect it plays an important role in rising global temperatures. If the northern forests are greening, they may already be absorbing carbon -- a process that can impact global temperature changes.

The greening trend revealed by this research provides an important piece of the puzzle of global climate change, and will help scientists produce more accurate predictions of how greenhouse gases will affect our climate in the decades to come.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, June 11, 2007


Below is one version of an article that has been in a lot of media lately. Our old friend James Hansen, the "muzzled" NASA scientist, is talking through his muzzle again. Never has any muzzled person talked so much and so misleadingly. That he claims to have been muzzled by the Bush administration tells you a lot about the delusional world he lives in.

What we have below are foolish extrapolations of short term and local trends coupled with more guesswork-intensive "models". You can prove anything with models. If you want to see vividly how dishonest "science" is done, see here. If you want a sober summary of ALL the recent evidence of what is happening in Greenland, see here. And note that even the IPCC says there is no OVERALL melting in Antarctica. Faced with that nasty realism, Greenie scientists obviously HAVE TO find some bits that are melting, irrelevant though that is.

Update: An article by Jim Manzi explains briefly how climate models rely on guesswork.

WHILE world leaders talked about global warming in Germany, scientific reports of melting at the poles continued to flood in. In Antarctica, a satellite study revealed that hundreds of glaciers are speeding up as they flow into the sea. In Greenland, the number of days a year when snow melts is on the rise, NASA has found.

As well, research using a new climate model developed by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York suggests the Earth is close to a tipping point that would start the disintegration of the Western Antarctic ice sheet and Arctic sea ice. A Goddard researcher, James Hansen, said dangerous climate change was likely to occur if the global temperature rose by about 1.7 degrees above the pre-industrial level, which is below the 2 degree upper limit world leaders are aiming for. This was due to natural feedback mechanisms that could amplify the impact of a small temperature rise, he said. "If global emissions of carbon dioxide continue to rise at the rate of the past decade, this research shows there will be disastrous effects," he said.

Published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, the study used a computer model that incorporated more information than previous ones on factors such as changes in solar radiation, volcanic particles, soot, land use and clouds.

In another study, British Antarctic Survey scientists reported this week they had tracked the flow of more than 300 previously unstudied glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula using satellite radar systems. They found the rate at which they slid into the sea increased by 12 per cent between 1993 and 2003. The British team's leader, Hamish Pritchard, said the Antarctic Peninsula had experienced some of the fastest warming on Earth, with a rise of nearly 3 degrees in the past 50 years. "Eighty-seven per cent of its glaciers have been retreating during this period and now we see these glaciers are also speeding up," he said. The cause was meltwater acting as a lubricant between the ice and underlying rocks, said Dr Pritchard, whose study is published in the journal Geophysical Research.

Satellite observations of the Greenland ice sheet, which are made daily, have shown that the period when snow melted during 2006 was 10 days longer than the average for the previous 18 years. A study published in the journal Eos found the melt also occurred at higher altitudes than before.

Dr Marco Tedesco, of NASA's Joint Centre for Earth Systems Technology, said melted and refrozen snow absorbed up to four times more energy from the sun than dry snow, creating a feedback loop that could accelerate melting.


Global cooling?

Early snow in Southern Australia gets ski resorts off to good start. If melting snow and ice in some places proves global warming, surely extra heavy snowfalls in other places proves global cooling? Or am I missing something?

The timing could not have been better. As thousands of holidaymakers made their way yesterday to the NSW and Victorian ski fields for this weekend's opening of the season, that precious white stuff, which went missing for much of last winter, began to fall. With forecasters predicting a winter ofabove-average snowfall, it seems the disappointment of last season will quickly be forgotten.

The NSW town of Thredbo got off to a good start yesterday, with about 5cm of snow falling on the slopes. The resort will start operating lifts from this morning. Perisher Blue had two lifts running yesterday. In Victoria, Mount Hotham and Mount Buller had about 26cm of natural snow, with extra cover from snow-makers.....

Thredbo's businesses spent yesterday preparing for the arrival of the hordes of tourists who descend on the slopes for the opening weekend of the ski season. The town's population has already swelled with the arrival earlier this week of about 700 seasonal workers. Although the slopes open for skiers and snowboarders today, some took advantage of the empty slopes yesterday for more gentle activities. For the Fisher family, from Mackay in Queensland, the sight of snow was a novelty. At the urging of their four children, David and Julie Fisher made a special detour from their round-Australia trip for an afternoon of toboganning.



Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that George W Bush reads The Independent. How would the President have reacted when he read the headline on page 4 of Tuesday's edition? It announced: "Miliband goes to US to deliver ultimatum on climate change". My suspicion is that Bush would have had another choking fit over his pretzels. In fact, he might have died laughing. Miliband? Ultimatum? Our likeable Environment Secretary can't even deliver a respectable ultimatum to his own colleagues: remember how he was squashed like a gnat by Gordon Brown three months ago when he floated the idea of hypothecated carbon taxes?

Even supposing that George Bush is a man capable of changing his mind - and there is very little evidence of that - would this be the David to poleaxe the American Goliath? The British media seem to have developed a dangerously Eurocentric view of the global politics of climate change. Another headline, this time over a weekend article by the doyen of British environmentalist writers, Geoffrey Lean, declared: "The world must isolate Bush over climate change."

The truth, as has become clear during the course of the G8 summit at Heiligendamm, is that it is Bush who has isolated Europe over climate change. Canada, China and even Japan have shown enthusiasm for Bush's proposal to bypass the UN and hold a series of multilateral meetings - to be convened by America - which would seek agreement on mutually acceptable targets for CO2 emission reductions.

This ambush, not so much a cold shower as a diplomatic drenching for the summit hostess, Angela Merkel, should have come as no surprise. For some time now, the Americans have involved the major CO2-emitting nations in negotiations quite separate from the Kyoto process. This negotiating process also has a name, rather less well known in this country: it is called the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. Essentially, it adopts the American idea of solutions relying on technology rather than taxes and carbon caps: new forms of energy efficiency, so-called "clean coal" and fuel cells are the sort of things the Asia-Pacific Partnership has been discussing.

It might seem astonishing to Europeans that the country which hosted the original Kyoto conference would entertain the American proposal. The reason is China. If any nation feels threatened by competition from China it is Japan. As the People's Republic has rapidly become an economic colossus, on the verge of becoming the world's biggest emitter of CO2, it is now unimaginable for Japan to handicap itself by subscribing to a policy which imposes much higher energy costs on its own businesses while leaving China free to do whatever it wants - and that was the consequence of Kyoto.

While Tony Blair has presented himself as being devoted to the Kyoto protocol, his remarks in a pre-summit interview on Wednesday show that he knows the real deal: "There are two political realities. One is that America will not sign up to a global deal unless China is in it and the second is that China will not sign up to a deal that impedes its economic progress. Unless you get these key players together sitting round the table and agreed, you will float back into a Kyoto-style process which may end up with a treaty at the end of it but does not include the big emitters."


Members should reconsider energy bill

When the House Natural Resources Committee meets today to markup chairman Nick Rahall's energy bill, members should seriously consider the impact of some of the costly and damaging provisions being offered.

The bill would have the effect of reducing access to domestic energy sources at a time of high international prices and increasing demand. Restricting sources of new oil and gas supplies means higher costs for both consumers and business, which will raise prices throughout the economy and amount to a stealth tax on energy use.

Elements of the bill will also interfere with revenue sharing agreements between States and the federal government over drilling and mining royalties, and delay the construction of vital new energy infrastructure nationwide. Even alternative energy sources like wind and solar facilities would suffer delays.

Chairman Rahall may have put the word "reform" in the title, but his bill displays little to justify the term. Real reform would consist of opening domestic resources to exploration, giving producers more freedom to build and upgrade their facilities and eliminating taxpayer subsidies across the board.


EPA issues new wetlands guidelines

The Bush administration made it harder Tuesday for non-permanent streams and nearby wetlands to be protected under the federal Clean Water Act. The new guidance issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers requires that for such waters to be protected there must be a "significant nexus" shown between the intermittent stream or wetland and a traditional waterway. And the guidance says a determination will be made on a case-by-case basis, analyzing flow and other issues. Environmentalist argued that would negate the broader regional importance of many such waterways in the aggregate on water bodies downstream.

Assistant EPA Administrator Benjamin Grumbles said the new guidance to regional offices and enforcement officials "sends a clear signal we'll use our regulatory tools" to meet President Bush's promise of no net loss of wetlands. He said it "maintains ... the Bush administration's strong commitment to wetlands conservation."

Environmentalists said the new rules will put in jeopardy many of the intermittent streams and headwaters that now fall under the Clean Water Act, and result in less protection of wetlands. "This guidance adds unnecessary and unintended hurdles for agencies and citizens trying to protect our wasters," said Jan Goldman-Carter, an attorney for the National Wildlife Federation, and she called it a "retreat from protecting many important headwaters streams and wetlands."

Under the new guidelines, it will be determined on a case-by-case basis whether such tributaries or adjacent wetlands significantly affect traditionally navigable waterways and, thereby, are subject to the Clean Water Act. John Paul Woodley Jr., the assistant Army secretary who oversees the Corps of Engineers, said the policy "will foster ... predictability and consistency" in determining whether a permit should be issued to conduct activities in an intermittent tributary or adjacent wetland.

Grumbles said the new guidance conforms with a ruling by the Supreme Court a year ago. A divided court said that while the government can block development in a wetland, even miles from a traditional waterway, it can do so only if there is a significant connection shown with the waterway.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

More on global warming as an explanation for all ills

Post lifted from Taranto. See the original for links

Why should we care about global warming? The Associated Press reports it is "threatening cultural landmarks from Canada to Antarctica, the World Monuments Fund said Wednesday":

New Orleans' hurricane-ravaged historic neighborhoods, the Church of the Holy Nativity under Palestinian control in Bethlehem, cultural heritage sites in Iraq and Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary in Peru are among the locations listed on the fund's top 100 most endangered.
The U.S. locations also include historic Route 66, the fabled east-west highway flanked by eccentric, deteriorating attractions, and the New York State Pavilion, a rusting remnant of the 1964 World's Fair in New York City's Queens borough.

Surely it's oxygen and water, not CO2, that are causing the World's Fair pavilion to rust. And if Machu Picchu (elevation 7,710 feet) is in danger pavilion rising sea levels, we're all doomed anyway. But then there's this:

In Antarctica, a hut once used by British explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott has survived almost a century of freezing conditions but is now in danger of being engulfed by increasingly heavy snows.

If too much snow is endangering the hut, maybe we should encourage global warming.

Gasoline refining forced offshore by Greenie restrictions

With gasoline prices averaging $3.22 for a gallon of regular nationwide over the Memorial Day weekend, traditional economic logic might suggest that this would be a good time to invest in new U.S. oil refineries and increase the supply of gasoline.

Yet no new refinery has been built in the United States in three decades, only one is in the works and oil companies are scaling back planned investments in new, expanded or modernized U.S. refineries rather than increasing them. Overseas, however - where it's generally cheaper and easier to build refineries - a boom in construction is under way to meet the growing demand for gasoline in the United States and in big developing countries such as China and India. That means that Americans increasingly will be filling their tanks with imported gasoline.

In 2005, imported liquid fuels - mostly oil and an increasing amount of gasoline - accounted for about 60 percent of U.S. consumption, according to the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department. In a long-term assessment this month, the EIA said that figure could grow to 67 percent by 2030. "We are outsourcing refining," said Severin Borenstein, an economist and energy expert at the University of California-Berkeley. "I think that this is primarily because of community resistance ... people don't want to live by refineries, but they still want the gasoline."

Refineries are being built in Saudi Arabia, India and China. For Saudi Arabia, the world's leading oil producer, tight refining capacity amounts to a brake on its oil sales. In 1970, global refining capacity was about 47 million barrels per day. Today it's about 83.5 million, but only 17.5 million is refined in the United States. The Paris-based International Energy Agency projected last year that the world's refining capacity will have to grow to 93 million barrels per day in 2010 and to 118 million by 2030 to meet demand.

The growth of global refining capacity will determine whether gasoline prices moderate, stay high or rise even higher. Many energy experts think that crude oil may be more available by 2010, but more barrels of oil won't help reduce prices unless there's more refining capacity to turn it into gasoline. Congress passed legislation in 2005 to streamline the permitting process, hoping to encourage new investment in U.S. refineries. President Bush offered military bases to house them. Yet only one new U.S. refinery is planned, in Arizona, and it's been in the works for a decade. "There are just a vast number of barriers for a start-up oil refinery in the United States," said Ian Calkins, a spokesman for the Arizona Clean Fuels Yuma project, which has faced environmental and community hurdles and now a lawsuit over former American Indians tribal lands.

The $3.5 billion refinery, planned for 100 miles southwest of Phoenix, would process a modest 150,000 barrels of oil per day when it comes online in 2011. Still, investors who're willing to plunk billions into a project that offers only long-term returns must be found. "It's almost a non-starter to the vast majority of investors," Calkins said.

The cost of meeting state and federal regulations also drives refinery expansion overseas. The American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for the oil industry, said its members had spent $50 billion over the past decade to comply with environmental, safety and other regulations - about the cost of building 10 big refineries. "Environmental regulations ... play a large role in restricting the development of new refining capacity and the loss of some existing capacity," said Robert Dauffenbach, an economist and associate dean of the University of Oklahoma's Price College of Business.

President Bush's goal of a 20 percent reduction in gasoline use by 2020 also has U.S. refiners scaling back investment plans from $1.8 billion over the next five years to about $1 billion.


British residual pollution falling

But don't worry! Now that the real pollutants have just about been defeated, there's always an imaginary pollutant to worry about -- CO2!

Britain's green and pleasant land has just got that bit pleasanter, researchers have concluded after measuring pollution levels. Levels of a group of toxic chemicals polluting gardens and fields have fallen to their lowest point for more than 100 years, a nationwide survey has revealed. Emissions of dioxins from factories and power plants have been stemmed so effectively by bans and caps that contamination levels in soil have fallen for the first time since the Industrial Revolution.

The most comprehensive survey of toxic chemicals polluting Britain's towns and countryside has revealed that carcinogenic dioxin levels have fallen by 70 per cent since the late 1980s. "Britain is definitely a pleasanter land than it was 30 years ago," said Declan Barraclough, of the Environment Agency, who led the research that measured toxins at 200 locations across Britain. It showed that while dioxin levels rose steadily from 1850 to 1985, they have fallen sharply in the past 20 years. However, researchers found that while levels have fallen, they are still twice as high in urban and industrial areas as they are in rural locations. Previously, levels of dioxins in the atmosphere have been shown to have fallen but the survey was the first to address soil contamination levels, where the toxins last much longer.

Dioxins are an unwanted byproduct of combustion processes involving organic material, including fossil fuels, with traces of chlorine. They have been linked to several cancers. Dr Barraclough said: "These are the big, bad boys of the environment. These are the mafia of contaminants - you don't want them round for dinner, they're not nice. "A lot of them are either toxic to us or to wildlife. A lot of them are carcinogenic. They hang around for years and accumulate in the body. "But they've fallen very significantly and this is hugely important. It means by regulating dioxin emissions we've reversed an upward trend that went on for more than 100 years."

Other toxins were assessed by the researchers, including poly-chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Concerns about the toxicity of PCBs first emerged in the 1960s. By the early 1990s, the levels found in soils had been cut to one eight-hundredth of their peak. The UK Soil and Herbage Pollutant Survey published yesterday showed that levels have fallen slightly further in the past 15 years, but towns and industrial areas contained up to twice as much as rural parts of the country. Researchers were concerned to find more PCBs than were expected still in the soil, and said it is likely that the toxins, which are similar to dioxins and are carcinogenic, are still escaping from sources such as window sealants.

Dr Barraclough said of PAHs, which are another cancer-causing contaminant and can be found in cigarette smoke, that levels appear to be falling, but more research needed to be done to be sure.

The risk to human beings from such pollutants is thought to come from inhaling them after they break free from substances containing them, and from eating plants that absorb them from the soil.

Though contaminant levels were within acceptable levels, it remained important to monitor them, he maintained, especially as they can damage wildlife. "We know PCBs can cause deformities in bird chicks, particularly herons, and we can still pick them out in birds of prey," he said. "We don't want another peregrine falcon crash."

The researchers measured levels of 12 metals, arsenic, 22 PAHs, 26 PCBs and 17 dioxins.



The leaders of five major developing nations on on Thursday signalled they would not bow to pressure from the Group of Eight to commit to binding targets in the fight against global warming. Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa insisted ahead of talks with G8 leaders on Friday that their "different capacities and interests" must be considered when tackling climate change.

The leaders of the G8 on Thursday agreed to seek "substantial" cuts in global emissions and "seriously consider" the target of cutting climate-changing gases by at least half by 2050. "We commit to achieving these goals and invite the major emerging economies to join us in this endeavour," the most industrialised countries said in declaration issued at their summit in Heiligendamm in northeastern Germany.

After a meeting in Berlin to agree their position, the so-called Plus Five group of emerging nations said they needed help from more developed nations in combatting the pollution caused by their rapidly expanding economies. "Regarding matters that will be discussed in Heiligendamm with the G8 countries, the leaders were pleased to note opportunities for joint collaboration in the fields of cross-border investment, research and innovation, climate change, energy and development," a statement from the leaders said. "The consensus view was that all of these challenges must be addressed from a multi-lateral regional and bilateral perspective taking into consideration the interests and capacities of different states."

India said it would not waver in its refusal to accept mandatory restrictions on its output of greenhouse gases. "India's position on climate change has not changed," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna told AFP. Both India and China, which have a combined population of 2.4 billion and rising pollution levels, reject restrictions on emissions because for fear that it would slow their economic growth and affect efforts to fight poverty.

An advisor to South African President Thabo Mbeki said African nations "by and large agreed" with the position that the industrialised world must take the lead in slashing emissions. Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticised the G8 agreement in Heiligendamm for setting a too-distant goal on capping emissions. "What is happening with this long deadline is that nobody will do anything until the last minute... We will arrive in 2049 without having done anything," he said. "It is necessary to have a shorter horizon."

The stance of the Plus Five nations poses another challenge for German Chancellor Angela Merkel after her tenacious battle to secure a G8 accord on climate change in the face of strong reservations from the United States.......


The Bored Whore of Kyoto

Nothing drove home Russia's place in the growing pollution-trading business better than what one carbon finance guy told me at a conference last month sponsored by Gazprom and the World Bank. We were on drink number three or four at the reception when he dropped the green pretense and came clean. "I don't know if climate change is caused by burning coal or sun flares or what," said the Moscow-based carbon cowboy. "And I don't really give a shit. Russia is the most energy inefficient country around, and carbon is the most volatile market ever. There's a lot of opportunity to make money."

This is what all the PowerPoint arrows and boxes had been spelling out in bureaucratese during the conference entitled "Kyoto: Carbon Market Opportunities for Russian Enterprises," but it was nice to hear it in plain English. I toasted the fellow's honesty and promised not to use his name. Some of his colleagues, he explained, were "first generation" carbon finance types. More idealistic, they don't appreciate the crass cash take on the business.

For two days I listened to speakers probe the dry nexus between development finance, commodity trading, and environmental policy. It didn't keep me on the edge of my seat, but it did open a window into how the architects of Kyoto imagined Russia's role in the treaty. Boiled down to its essence, they scripted Russia as a poor dirty whore in need of a shower and some nice new clothes. These were treats European governments, financiers, and carbon traders could provide, in exchange for a little something.

The purpose of the Gazprom/World Bank event was to introduce Russia to these Kyoto-era carbon suitors, and to educate local industry about how best to profit from the growing trade in carbon credits. Because what's climate change about if not profit? The global market for carbon reduction credits is worth more than $20 billion and booming. The business bustles at the heart of "market-friendly" Kyoto.

Carbon trading is basically a loophole -- a "flexible mechanism" in Kyoto-speak -- that allows developed nations continue with business as usual while claiming to address the climate crisis. Because most industrialized Kyoto signatories won't sacrifice short-term economic growth to cut emissions at home -- best accomplished by mandatory absolute cuts accompanied by a draconian carbon tax -- Kyoto lets them instead make efficiency investments in places like Russia and China, where it's cheaper to reduce CO2 and where there's plenty of low-hanging fruit. How many tons of CO2 countries save abroad equals how many carbon credits they get toward meeting their own national targets. Targets that they are in reality missing, in some cases by a wide margin.

The idea is similar to the one behind the trendy personal "carbon offset" industry, but transferred to the international level. Just as Brad Pitt and Al Gore can invest in some reforestation project in Tamil Nadu and then declare themselves "carbon neutral" without changing their carbon-intensive lives, so too can France invest in Russia and claim Kyoto success without cutting its domestic CO2 output. Critics of personal offsets and Kyoto's credit scheme have compared them to the medieval Church practice of selling Indulgences to sinners. It's a good analogy. Kyoto's carbon-trading game allows signatory nations to think they're going to heaven while we continue slouching toward likely global warming hell.

With Kyoto driving carbon's growth as a hot commodity, and with negotiations on Kyoto II slated to start later this year, it can be easy to forget that just a few years ago the treaty was headed for the dustbin. With Washington on the sidelines, the principal nations fell short of representing the 55 percent of global emissions needed for Kyoto's activation. For seven years the treaty languished. When Bush was reelected in 2004, the coffin and nails came out.

And then Vladimir Putin, of all people, saved the day. After years of playing behind-the-scenes hardball with Europe, Putin agreed to suppress his visceral hatred for a global environmental treaty perceived as limiting Russia's sovereignty. It was a clean trade: He would sign Kyoto in exchange for favorable treaty terms and strong European support for Russia's entry into the WTO. As a bonus, Putin also received a miasma of environmental credibility, which suited the Russian president like a negligee on Andre the Giant.

Russia's signing onto Kyoto didn't signify any real interest in climate change. The only cost to the Kremlin was a bit of pride, as Russia received the sweetest Kyoto deal of all. Because the benchmark year for measuring reductions was set at 1990, the collapse of Russian industry after Perestroika guaranteed that Russia would not be close to that level by 2012, Kyoto's deadline. Depending on the breaks, Russia may not approach 1990 levels for another 20 years. Thus not only does Russia not have to make any cuts in its emissions during the next four years, but it was handed thousands of Kyoto-stamped "emission reduction credits" -- basically carbon stock that can be sold on the international market or saved for an unseasonably rainy day. Europe was so desperate for Putin's signature it also gave Russia millions of "carbon sink" credits for its vast tracts of virgin forests.

Far from the "economic Auschwitz" former Putin advisor Andrei Illiaronov claimed Kyoto would be for Russia, it turned out to be an economic pinata. Russia hasn't seen this many gift certificates since the last time the World Bank was in town.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, June 09, 2007


Not vice versa, as the warmists would have it. Abstract below:

Marine Radiocarbon Evidence for the Mechanism of Deglacial Atmospheric CO2 Rise

By Thomas M. Marchitto et al.

We reconstructed the radiocarbon activity of intermediate waters in the eastern North Pacific over the past 38,000 years. Radiocarbon activity paralleled that of the atmosphere, except during deglaciation, when intermediate-water values fell by more than 300 per mil. Such a large decrease requires a deglacial injection of very old waters from a deep-ocean carbon reservoir that was previously well isolated from the atmosphere. The timing of intermediate-water radiocarbon depletion closely matches that of atmospheric carbon dioxide rise and effectively traces the redistribution of carbon from the deep ocean to the atmosphere during deglaciation.

Global warming as the modern equivalent of "witchcraft" -- It explains everything

Taranto had a good comment on this: "We were wondering just how much global temperatures went up between 2005 and 2006, so we checked with NASA. It turns out the average global temperature actually declined by 0.09 degrees centigrade. Maybe the cats had to go into heat to keep warm."

Droves of cats and kittens are swarming into animal shelters nationwide, and global warming is to blame, according to one pet adoption group. Several shelters operated by a national adoption organization called Pets Across America reported a 30 percent increase in intakes of cats and kittens from 2005 to 2006, and other shelters across the nation have reported similar spikes of stray, owned and feral cats.

The cause of this feline flood is an extended cat breeding season thanks to the world's warming temperatures, according to the group, which is one of the country's oldest and largest animal welfare organizations. "Cats are typically warm-weather, spring-time breeders," said the group's president, Kathy Warnick. "However, states that typically experience primarily longer and colder winters are now seeing shorter, warmer winters, leading to year-round breeding." "Basically, there is no longer a reproduction lull with cat breeding cycles, and unfortunately, it seems more people are bringing boxes of kittens into our agencies during winter now," she added. Studies have shown that global warming is altering the breeding seasons of other animals, such as migratory birds and penguins.

One possible solution to stem the tide of cats is to make sure pets are spayed or neutered. "We have long discussed the benefits of spaying and neutering cats," said Pets Across America Vice President Bob Rhode. "It is likely that global warming is probably not going to be slowing any time soon, therefore, it benefits everyone when pet owners take action and spay and neuter their pets."


Dirty snow may warm Arctic as much as greenhouse gases

Another finding of "not guilty" for the carbon dioxide "witch". But this COULD lead to a war on soot -- but that might actually be beneficial so don't hold your breath

The global warming debate has focused on carbon dioxide emissions, but scientists at UC Irvine have determined that a lesser-known mechanism - dirty snow - can explain one-third or more of the Arctic warming primarily attributed to greenhouse gases. Snow becomes dirty when soot from tailpipes, smoke stacks and forest fires enters the atmosphere and falls to the ground. Soot-infused snow is darker than natural snow. Dark surfaces absorb sunlight and cause warming, while bright surfaces reflect heat back into space and cause cooling. "When we inject dirty particles into the atmosphere and they fall onto snow, the net effect is we warm the polar latitudes," said Charlie Zender, associate professor of Earth system science at UCI and co-author of the study. "Dark soot can heat up quickly. It's like placing tiny toaster ovens into the snow pack." The study appears this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Dirty snow has had a significant impact on climate warming since the Industrial Revolution. In the past 200 years, the Earth has warmed about .8 degree Celsius [Less than one degree! What a calamity!]. Zender, graduate student Mark Flanner, and their colleagues calculated that dirty snow caused the Earth's temperature to rise .1 to .15 degree, or up to 19 percent of the total warming. In the past two centuries, the Arctic has warmed about 1.6 degrees. Dirty snow caused .5 to 1.5 degrees of warming, or up to 94 percent of the observed change, the scientists determined.

The amount of warming by dirty snow varied from year to year, with higher temperatures in years with many forest fires. Greenhouse gases, which trap outgoing energy, are primarily responsible for the remaining temperature increase and are considered the Earth's most important overall climate changing mechanism. Other human influences on Arctic climate change are particles in the atmosphere, including soot; clouds; and land use. Humans create the majority of airborne soot through industry and fuel combustion, while forest and open-field fires account for the rest. Because of human activity, greenhouse gas levels have increased by one-third in the last two centuries. "A one-third change in concentration is huge, yet the Earth has only warmed about .8 degrees because the effect is distributed globally," Zender said. "A small amount of snow impurities in the Arctic have caused a significant temperature response there."

Previous studies have analyzed dirty snow's effect on climate, but this is the first to take into account realistic emissions from forest fires in the Northern Hemisphere and how warming affects the thickness of the snow pack. In some polar areas, impurities in the snow have caused enough melting to expose underlying sea ice or soil that is significantly darker than the snow. The darker surfaces absorb sunlight more rapidly than snow, causing additional warming. This cycle causes temperatures in the polar regions to rise as much as 3 degrees Celsius during some seasons, the scientists say. "Once the snow is gone, the soot that caused the snow to melt continues to have an effect because the ground surface is darker and retains more heat," Zender said. Dirty snow is prevalent in East Asia, Northern Europe and Northeastern United States.

Zender believes policymakers could use these research results to develop regulations to mitigate global warming. Limiting industrial soot emissions and switching to cleaner-burning fuels would leave snow brighter, he says. New snow falls each year, and if it contained fewer impurities, the ground would brighten and temperatures would cool. Carbon dioxide lives in the atmosphere for a century, so cutting back on emissions can prevent further warming but does not produce immediate cooling.


Hurricane frequency fluctuates naturally

Hurricanes in the Atlantic are increasing because of natural weather patterns rather than global warming, a study has concluded. Growing numbers of hurricanes battering the United States and the Caribbean have made their presence felt in the past decade and are forecast to worsen. Global warming has been cited as a possible cause but researchers looking at sediment and coral deposits have now identified natural variations in their frequency. Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005, was "unexceptional" when historic patterns of such stormy weather are analysed, they suggested.

Global warming may even have been responsible for unusually low levels of hurricanes in the 25 years before 1995 when the number began rising, according to the scientists, led by the Geological Survey of Sweden. Using deposits trapped in sediment to indicate when hurricanes had taken place, the researchers built up a record detailing their number and frequency going back 270 years. They found that the decline in hurricanes during the 1970s and 1980s was matched by similar declines in the past, indicating natural variations in the weather patterns. "The record indicates that the average frequency of major hurricanes decreased gradually from the 1760s until the early 1960s, reaching anomalously low values during the 1970s and 1980s," they reported in the journal Nature. "Furthermore, the phase of enhanced hurricane activity since 1995 is not unusual compared to other periods of high hurricane activity and appears to represent a recovery to normal hurricane activity."

The findings are at variance with the conclusions in February of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations organisation addressing global warming. The UN panel stopped short of blaming increased frequency of hurricanes on man-made temperature rises, but said it was "more likely than not" that greenhouse gas emissions had contributed to the greater intensity of cyclonic storms.

The Swedish-led research team suggested that hurricane levels were normal, though they accepted "a future possibility" of higher sea temperatures contributing to more intense hurricanes.The researchers were unable to identify any direct link between increased hurricanes and rising sea level temperatures, beyond the requirement for a minimum temperature of 27C (81F) to be reached before a hurricane developed. From 1730-2005 there were on average 3-3.5 major hurricanes each year.

The researchers from Sweden, the US and Puerto Rico said that being able to calculate vertical wind shear - the differences in wind speeds at different heights - was crucial in determining the frequency of hurricanes. Higher wind-shear levels disrupt developing hurricanes; low wind-shear levels fail to batter the storms sufficiently to prevent them developing. The researchers suggested that higher air temperatures caused by global warming may have led to stronger vertical wind shear, which has destroyed developing hurricanes in the Atlantic before 1995, explaining the dearth.

Deposits of sediments accumulated from increased run-off from rainfall and plankton remains associated with increased levels of nutrients and provided clues to the scientists to historic vertical wind shear and hurricanes. They were able to check their readings of the data by comparing their findings with documentation of hurricanes.

In the wind

-- From 1995 to 2005 there were an average of 4.1 major hurricanes (categories 3-5) in the Atlantic compared with an average of 1.5 from 1971-94

-- Five periods in the past 270 years were found to have had the same lack of hurricanes, combined with high wind shear, as 1971-94: 1730-36, 1793-99, 1827-30, 1852-66 and 1915-26

-- Six periods were identified as having the same high levels witnessed since 1995: 1756-74, 1780-85, 1801-12, 1840-50, 1873-90 and 1928-33



Hot air to deal with hot air seems appropriate

Leaders of the G8 nations have agreed to a compromise deal on tackling climate change, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said. "We agreed... that CO2 emissions must first be stopped and then followed by substantial reductions," she said. Reports said the leaders had agreed to hold talks on a replacement to the Kyoto Protocol within a UN framework. Mrs Merkel had been pushing for a 50% cut in emissions by 2050. The US had resisted calls for targets to be fixed. She said G8 leaders had agreed to consider her target, but there was no suggestion that a final agreement would include any mandatory commitment to major emissions cuts.

According to an extract from the agreed text published on the G8 website, the leaders agreed to take "strong and early" action. "Taking into account the scientific knowledge as represented in the recent IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] reports, global greenhouse gas emissions must stop rising, followed by substantial global emission reductions," the text says.

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg, in Heiligendamm, says the German chancellor has portrayed the deal as a major success. The compromise appears to bring Mr Bush's plan into the wider UN-brokered process - something the US had previously resisted.



The compromise at the G8 climate summit appears to be based on the US-and Canadian-backed climate plan presented by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe The G8 has essentially agreed that any effective international framework on climate change must include China, India and other major greenhouse gas emitters from the developing world.

More importantly, by offering a deal to cut global CO2 emissions by half, not just those of a handful of richer nations, the G8 has shifted international pressure away from the West and onto China and India.

The BBC claim that "the compromise appears to bring Mr Bush's plan into the wider UN-brokered process - something the US had previously resisted" is a bit of a red herring as Bush's own climate initiative doesn't see itself outside the UNFCCC framework: "Under The President's Proposal, The United States Will Convene The Major Emitters And Energy Consumers To Advance And Complete The New Framework By The End Of 2008. The U.S. remains committed to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and we expect the new framework to complement ongoing UN activity...."


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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, June 08, 2007


The EU's carbon trading scheme has increased electricity bills, given a windfall to power companies and failed to cut greenhouse gases, it is claimed. An investigation by BBC Radio 4's File on 4 programme has found that after two and half years the scheme has yet to cut in carbon dioxide emissions. The consumer body Energywatch said customers are getting a raw deal.

But a government minister has promised that the scheme's next phase will be a big improvement. The EU's Emission Trading Scheme - a key part of the UK Government's drive to combat climate change - began in 2005 and created a trade in carbon allowances. It is essentially a permit to pollute. Power generators received their allowances free of charge but were allowed to reflect the value of those in increased prices to customers, as if the companies had actually had to buy the allowances. Energywatch believes this increased electricity bills by about 7% in 2005.

And according to one government estimate, that delivered windfall profits of up to 1.3bn pounds to the generators in that year - higher than environmental campaigners had claimed last year. However, so far the carbon scheme has brought no clear payback in terms of cutting emissions. Provisional government figures from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) suggest CO2 output in Britain actually went up, by 1.25% last year wiping out a slight drop of 0.01% in 2005. It is also reckoned that CO2 emissions across the EU also rose by between 1 and 1.5% over the last two years.

The chief executive of Energywatch, Allan Asher, said , "Consumers increasingly accept the need for reductions in carbon. "However they are paying the price and not seeing the benefits. The big generators are banking huge amounts of money and consumers aren't benefiting."

But the Minister for Climate Change, Ian Pearson, told File on 4 that the carbon trading scheme has been an administrative success yet concedes there have been problems in the first three year phase to the end of 2007. "If you are saying to me it hasn't achieved a massive amount so far when it comes to CO2 reductions, well I agree with you and I think Phase Two will be a big, big improvement...and a key instrument in helping us all to achieve our carbon reduction targets across Europe."


Paying for carbon

When it comes to "doing something" about global warming, two approaches are usually trotted out. One is trading permits to emit carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. Yet it now appears that most existing carbon trading schemes are vastly inefficient, open to fraud, or both. Thus, it is worth looking at the other option, a tax on carbon emissions, to be levied on gasoline and most electricity use. A quick survey of the realities of carbon taxes reveals that the game might not be worth the candle.

Economists attempt to account for the "social cost" of carbon dioxide emissions -- that is, the economic value of the damages caused by global warming that many attribute to CO2. Many studies have shown wildly varying results due to the various uncertainties surrounding the topic, and also depending on whether each study takes mankind's innate ability to adapt and innovate into account.

A leading expert in the economics of climate change, Dr. Richard Tol, reviewed these studies and found that there were significant uncertainties. He concluded that it "is unlikely that the marginal damage costs of carbon dioxide emissions exceed $50/tC [dollars per ton of carbon] and are likely to be substantially smaller than that." One indicative smaller figure is $16/tC, which represents the mean estimate of all the studies at a discount rate of 3 percent, which is consistent with how governments value future costs and benefits. Because a ton of CO2 contains less than a third of a ton of carbon, these figures translate to a maximum of $14 and just under $5 respectively.

Another recent review, the "Stern Review," which was commissioned by the British government, estimated the marginal social cost per ton of CO2 emissions at $85. As Dr. Tol's research shows, this is actually an outlier in the literature and outside the mainstream of economic thought. Nevertheless, because the Stern Review has been so widely cited, it needs consideration here.

Many economists believe that to account for those costs, governments should levy a tax -- called a Pigou Tax after its inventor, a 19th century British economist, Arthur Pigou -- to deter or at least bring home to people the cost of their activity.

How big would a Pigou Tax have to be to account for the social cost of household electricity use? One megawatt hour (MWh) of coal-fired electricity use produces 0.95 metric tons of CO2, so the tax would need to be levied per kilowatt hour (KWh) of electricity used, depending on the social cost of carbon used. At Stern's figure of $85, the state should levy a tax of 8 cents per KWh. At $14, the tax would be a cent-and-a-half, and at $5, a half cent.

According to the 2001 census, the average American household uses 10,660 (KWh) of electricity per year. This means that at the social cost level of $85, the average household would see its electricity bills rise by $852 a year. At $5, the increase would be $53.

Turning to gasoline, a social cost of $85 per ton of CO2 implies a gas tax of 74 cents per gallon, a cost of $14 implies a tax of 12 cents and $5 a tax of 4 cents. The average household uses 1,143 gallons of gas a year, which means that at the Stern Review level, the household's annual fuel expenses would increase by $845. At the social cost levels of $14 and $5, the bills would increase by $140 and $45.

For the average family on median income ($44,334), the extra burden of energy taxation at the level implied by the Stern Review would represent a loss of about 4 percent of total household income -- an unconscionable rise in taxation that would need to be offset with taxation reductions elsewhere. Taxation hikes at the more realistic estimates of social cost, however, are unlikely to affect consumer behavior. At the lowest, but still respectable, estimate of social cost, bills would increase by a mere $98 a year, a sum likely to be absorbed. The same is likely true of the $300 increase implied by a social cost of $14.

The effectiveness of a Pigou tax in reducing carbon emissions is questionable. A tax high enough to force reductions in energy use would greatly burden the poor and obstruct economic growth, while a lower tax is unlikely to lead to emissions reductions at all.

Attempting to moderate behavior through carbon pricing will either fail or impose significant social costs of its own. If we need to do something about global warming, it is to move on from talking about forcibly reducing emissions and working instead to see how we can reduce any possible impacts on the world. A rich and resilient world will be better than one made poorer through overpriced carbon constraints


What If?

Post lifted from Belmont Club. See the original for links

The world famous physicist Freeman Dyson discusses Global Warming with a twist, at Classical Values.

He starts out in the first video (on the left) talking about vegetation. He says you can't do good science without good data. He notes that the data on vegetation is sparse (as in almost totally non-existant). The money went into computer models instead of data gathering. It figures. Computers are sexy. Electronic wind vanes and anemometers are not. He also notes that the carbon in vegetation dwarfs the carbon in the atmosphere.

In the second video he says the real problem is not CO2 induced global warming, but CO2 induced stratosphere cooling which may lead to bigger ozone holes.

He ends with the fact that the lowest cost way to control CO2 in the atmosphere is not by controlling energy production and use, but by planting or cutting down plants. He suggests more irrigation. For that we are going to need cheap fresh water.

The problem for political environmentalism is that Dyson takes a broad view of the issue when a narrow, dogmatic view is necessary to advance the current policy agenda. Starting from the premises the discussion rapidly escapes the confines of the standard Global Warming narrative. That is to say it escapes from its political prison. That raises an interesting question about the prescriptive policy changes being promoted. Are they actually based on the correct model? And if they are predicated on the wrong model would they have the same effect as swallowing the wrong medicine would have for a patient? If environmentalism were about science first and politics afterward the question would be easy to answer. Alas, today we live in a world of post-normal science.

The weather is a complex and nonlinear system, and the solutions advanced to solve "Global Warming" don't seem to take that fully into account. We will inevitably learn more about the environment as time goes on, and some of the facts will probably be at variance with the Global Warming narrative. Ideally we should adjust but I'm afraid that politics will create policy rigidities which will stifle movement when a rapid decision cycle is necessary when attempting to deal with any complex system.


European leaders have expressed dismay over U.S. President George W. Bush's June 1 call for the creation of a long-term dialogue among the 15 largest greenhouse gas-emitting countries. The plan, they say, is another stall tactic designed to allow the Bush administration to appear as though it is trying to work with the international community on climate issues, when in reality it is not. Such action, they say, would take time and attention away from the difficult work being done on the issue via the Kyoto Protocol process.

In reality, however, the Bush plan signals the end of Kyoto -- and the beginning of a new international consensus that relieves Kyoto's pressures on governments. The United States, China, India, Canada and Australia produce more than half of the world's greenhouse gas emissions -- and those emissions are growing.

To be effective, then, any climate regime that endeavors to make real cuts in emissions must include these countries. By bringing the Pacific Rim countries into alignment on the issue, Bush has brought the United States far more power over global greenhouse gas emissions policy than Europe ever has had. With this, Bush takes from Europe its one global foreign policy success story....

Though from a U.S. perspective Kyoto was flawed in many ways, it was this lack of restrictions on developing countries that rendered ratification a nonstarter in the United States. Despite the tone of the current political conversation in the United States, in a 1997 vote both Republicans and Democrats unanimously vowed to reject any climate treaty that did not include commitments from developing countries. Sens. John Kerry, Paul Wellstone, Barbara Boxer and many of the climate issue's current champions were among those who essentially declared Kyoto dead on arrival. Within four months of taking office, Bush did the same, saying the United States would take no part in talks regarding a treaty it had no interest in joining.

Amazingly, the global reaction to Bush's announcement was shock. Bush became an environmental pariah at home and around the world, with Greenpeace dubbing him the "Toxic Texan" and European leaders pleading for the United States to reconsider.

From the European standpoint, simply bringing the United States into the climate change conversation is far more important than forcing it to cut its emissions by 2012. Given that the United States is the world's single-largest source of carbon emissions, any deal that does not have explicit American buy-in simply cannot achieve the ultimate end goal: reducing global emissions to the point of heading off the worst-case scenario of global warming.

To get the United States into the talks, then, G-8 leaders agreed in 2005 in Gleneagles, Scotland, to stop pressing for U.S. adherence to Kyoto if Washington agreed to take part in international discussions on the issue. European leaders hoped this would bring the United States into the fold for the more important negotiations on a broad and binding treaty that would address what happens after Kyoto expires in 2012.

U.S. activists fit their tactics into this broad European strategy. Kyoto proponents in the United States considered it a foregone conclusion that, under Bush, the United States would not pass a greenhouse gas-emissions-reducing policy on environmental grounds. The trick, then, was to get Bush to budge for other reasons. Environmental groups thought that if industry were faced with a maze of climate-related regulations at the state and local levels, then business -- normally hostile to greenhouse gas-related policies -- would appeal to the administration for harmonization. This, the environmentalists believed, would sneak in a U.S. greenhouse gas policy via the back door.

The environmentalists' key insights were simple: One of the few things businesses dislike more than patchwork regulation is uncertainty -- and having dozens of constantly changing competing regimes is about as uncertain as one can get. Therefore, the environmentalists believed industry would be more successful than they had been in lobbying the administration for a unified national policy on greenhouse gases. The strategy was a sound one, and local/state directives have proliferated, with laws in 15 states now forcing some climate change-related action or accounting on industry -- laws the Supreme Court already has ruled constitutional.

In the end, however, both U.S. environmental groups and European governments miscalculated. The former mistakenly assumed industry's desire for a single standard would lead industry to Kyoto; it only led industry to Washington. The latter assumed that dropping discussion of Kyoto I would lead Washington to participate in Kyoto II; instead, it led Washington to the Pacific.

History will remember 2007 as the year the United States lost its infamous position as the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases to China, an event that has been inevitable for years. From the U.S. point of view, therefore, any successful greenhouse gas-limiting agreement is not dependent upon Washington's participation, but on Beijing's. As such, Bush has engaged China, India, Australia, Canada and even a discontented Japan -- birthplace of the Kyoto Protocol -- in separate negotiations outside the Kyoto system. Called the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, this strategy eschews firm caps on emissions -- which the Americans, Chinese and Indians oppose and which have thus far proved impossible to align with Australian and Canadian resource policy.

It instead focuses on sharing technology that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in developing countries; it also offers companies that are developing efficiency-related technologies an expanded market for their products. Key among such technologies are clean coal, nuclear, carbon capture/sequestration and fuel cells. The Europeans at first saw this "Pacific direction" as a stall tactic, but deemed it acceptable as long as the goal remained intact -- that the United States would eventually join Kyoto. That too was a miscalculation. Ultimately, U.S. industry and the Bush administration believe joining an international regime only brings more uncertainty, as both the ideological and practical design of such regulations not only originates in but also is designed explicitly for Europe....

With Australia and Canada unwilling to divorce their climate plans from that of the United States, the likely membership in any Kyoto II would be limited to Europe alone. (Europe is the only significant signatory that actually has put the current Kyoto Protocol into practice.) But this time there will be a clear alternative, which will constantly raise the question: Why doesn't Europe get with the program?

More here


Former German Chancellor [Prime Minister] Helmut Schmidt called for an end to the "hysteria" over global warming in the lead-up to the summit. The topic is "hysterical, overheated, and that is especially because of the media," Schmidt told Germany's Bild daily. There has always been climate change on earth, Schmidt said. "We've had warm- and ice-ages for hundreds of thousands of years," he said, and added that the reasons behind the multiple climate changes have been "inadequately researched for the time being." To assume that global climate change can be altered by any plans made at the Heiligendamm summit is "idiotic," he said.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

More deluded Greenie misanthropy

Excerpts below from Paul Watson, Founder and President of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. He not only wants to kill 5 out of six people on earth but he even wants to kill your cat! He says that doom for all is the only alternative but the fact that for centuries world living standards have been steadily RISING as the world's population grows shows that it is hatred of people rather than the facts that drives him. That he even thinks it is worth proposing unprecedented mass murder shows how deeply unhinged he is

Today, escalating human populations have vastly exceeded global carrying capacity and now produce massive quantities of solid, liquid, and gaseous waste. Biological diversity is being threatened by over-exploitation, toxic pollution, agricultural mono-culture, invasive species, competition, habitat destruction, urban sprawl, oceanic acidification, ozone depletion, global warming, and climate change. It's a runaway train of ecological calamities. It's a train that carries all the earth's species as unwilling passengers with humans as the manically insane engineers unwilling to use the brake pedal.

The latest reports from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List (IUCN) - a database measuring the global status of Earth's 1.5 million scientifically named species - states quite confidently that we will lose half of them by 2150. This is a cataclysmic prediction, yet it is strangely absent from the world's media. No one wants to hear about it. It's depressing. We would rather collectively deny ecological realities.

I've heard from some denialists that species extinction is natural. Yes it is, but the normal extinction rate over millions of years has been about one species per year and the niche vacated is readily filled by another species that begins to specialize in filling that niche. But, we are now losing species faster than they can be replaced and entire ecological niches are being vacated permanently.....

But, would we do this if we were diagnosed with a terminal disease? No, as depressing as that revelation would be, we would address possible remedies. We would look for a cure. We would try to survive.

The planet's ecosystem is a collective living organism and operates very much like the human body. Water is the blood of the earth. It provides the same function in the body as it does for the earth. Water transports nutrients to the land and transports waste to the sea or more specifically the estuaries and salt marshes that function as the liver for the earth, cleansing the water of the toxins. Water circulates through the ecosystem from the sea into the clouds falling back onto the land and returning to the sea again. It is pumped by the energy of the sun, the heart of the earth. It's a continuous cyclic movement of nutrient bearing, waste removing action that keeps the land fertile.

A river is an artery and a vein, and streams and brooks are capillaries. Put a dam on a river and you cut off an artery preventing nutrients from moving downstream and you cut off the vein preventing the waste from the land from being removed and cleansed. Plankton, plants, and especially forests are the lungs of the earth, removing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Overfishing, plankton harvesting, and deforestation is literally diminishing global lung capacity. Species work interdependently to develop mutually beneficial strategies that maintain and strengthen ecosystems. Every species removed diminishes the system and weakens the collective body of the biosphere.

Humans are presently acting upon this body in the same manner as an invasive virus with the result that we are eroding the ecological immune system. A virus kills its host and that is exactly what we are doing with our planet's life support system. We are killing our host the planet Earth.

I was once severely criticized for describing human beings as being the "AIDS of the Earth." I make no apologies for that statement. Our viral like behaviour can be terminal both to the present biosphere and ourselves. We are both the pathogen and the vector. But we also have the capability of being the anti-virus if only we can recognize the symptoms and address the disease with effective measures of control....

I remember walking along the beaches in Vancouver harbour a few decades ago. Every single stone overturned sent a flurry of disturbed baby crabs scurrying to find new cover. I was fascinated by the sheer number of tiny crustaceans that I observed on those walks. Today, I have not found a single young crab under a single rock on those beaches. They were picked clean by Vietnamese immigrants that descended like locusts onto those beaches and stripped them clean. And criticism of that exploitation immediately elicited accusations of racism.

Today racism, cultural rights, and the right to exploit nature for commercial gain are the weapons used to defend gross over-exploitation of species and the destruction of natural habitats. An extinction event is a quickly accelerating process. The number of species removed will rise relevant to the rising number of host species. There is only one cure, only one way of stopping this rising epidemic of extinctions. The solution requires an extraordinarily immense effort by all of human society but it is achievable.

We need to re-wild the planet. We need to "get ourselves back to the garden" as Joni Mitchell once so poetically framed it. This is a process that will require a complete overhaul of all of humanities economic, cultural, and life style systems. Within the context of our present anthropocentric mind-set the solution is impossible. It will require a complete transformation of all human realities.

We should not be living in human communities that enclose tiny preserved ecosystems within them. Human communities should be maintained in small population enclaves within linked wilderness ecosystems. No human community should be larger than 20,000 people and separated from other communities by wilderness areas. Communication systems can link the communities.

In other words, people should be placed in parks within ecosystems instead of parks placed in human communities. We need vast areas of the planet where humans do not live at all and where other species are free to evolve without human interference.

We need to radically and intelligently reduce human populations to fewer than one billion. We need to eliminate nationalism and tribalism and become Earthlings. And as Earthlings, we need to recognize that all the other species that live on this planet are also fellow citizens and also Earthlings. This is a planet of incredible diversity of life-forms; it is not a planet of one species as many of us believe.

We need to stop burning fossil fuels and utilize only wind, water, and solar power with all generation of power coming from individual or small community units like windmills, waterwheels, and solar panels. Sea transportation should be by sail. The big clippers were the finest ships ever built and sufficient to our needs. Air transportation should be by solar powered blimps when air transportation is necessary.

All consumption should be local. No food products need to be transported over hundreds of miles to market. All commercial fishing should be abolished. If local communities need to fish the fish should be caught individually by hand.

Preferably vegan and vegetarian diets can be adopted. We need to eliminate herds of ungulates like cows and sheep and replace them with wild ungulates like bison and caribou and allow those species to fulfill the proper roles in nature. We need to restore the prey predator relationship and bring back the wolf and the bear. We need the large predators and ungulates, not as food, but as custodians of the land that absorbs the carbon dioxide and produces the oxygen. We need to live with them in mutual respect.

We need to remove and destroy all fences and barriers that bar wildlife from moving freely across the land. We need to lower populations of domestic housecats and dogs. Already the world's housecats consume more fish than all the world's seals and we have made the cow into the largest aquatic predator on the planet because more than one half of all fish taken from the sea is converted into meal for animal feed.

We need to stop flying, stop driving cars, and jetting around on marine recreational vehicles. The Amish survive without cars and so can the rest of us.

Who should have children? Those who are responsible and completely dedicated to the responsibility which is actually a very small percentage of humans. Being a parent should be a career. Whereas some people are engineers, musicians, or lawyers, others with the desire and the skills can be fathers and mothers. Schools can be eliminated if the professional parent is also the educator of the child.

This approach to parenting is radical but it is preferable to a system where everyone is expected to have children in order to keep the population of consumers up to keep the wheels of production moving. An economic and political system dependent on continuous growth cannot survive the ecological law of finite resources. There is, of course, a complexity of problems in adjusting to a new design that will simply allow us to survive the consequences of our past ecological folly.

Curing a body of cancer requires radical and invasive therapy, and therefore, curing the biosphere of the human virus will also require a radical and invasive approach. It won't be easy but then it's better than the alternative.


Truthless Tasmanian Greenie

Greenie "facts" are rarely anything of the sort

CELEBRITY protesters are giving activism a bad name. Australians have endured the truly mediocre musician Pink blathering on about the wool industry, actress Toni Collette sounding off on wool and mining, and now Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan has weighed in (again) on the timber industry... Highly quotable, he is frequently consulted by the ALP's media arm, the ABC, whenever the national broadcaster wants an articulate critic to paint a word portrait of an island state populated by oafish rampaging thugs intent on raping the environment. As the poster boy for the deep Greens, his work has been featured in The Guardian, the voice of the Left in Britain, and has a longish whine currently featuring in London's conservative newspaper The Daily Telegraph, and the Melbourne-based left-wing periodical The Monthly....

Sufficient to say that an injection of fact might enhance some of the author's exports. Another who feels the same way is Federal Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation Minister Eric Abetz, who yesterday took a critic's blue pencil to Flanagan's most recent work at the biennial conference of the Institute of Foresters of Australia and the New Zealand Institute of Forestry at Coffs Harbour on the NSW North Coast.

According to Abetz, who actually does know something about forestry, as opposed to Flanagan, whose knowledge may lie in the literary field, the essay "tells more untruths than Pinocchio on a bad day". In fact, Abetz claims Flanagan has inserted some 70 "deliberate or inexcusably negligent errors of fact, selective citing of fact, or twisting of facts".

He takes the writer to task for making claims such as "the great majority of Tasmanians appear to be overwhelmingly opposed to old-growth logging", and asks, if this is so, why the Greens, the only party with a policy to completely end old-growth forestry in Tasmania, polled just 17 per cent of the vote at the 2006 state election - a decline on the previous election. He also cites the 2004 federal election, noting that Labor, supported by the Greens, lost two House of Representative seats and a Senate seat, and the Greens' vote went backward, with policies aimed at shutting the Tasmanian forest industry.

In the second paragraph of his article, Flanagan makes the claim that the Federal Court has found the forestry industry to be illegal, but this, too, is at best a huge stretch and at worst an untruth because the court actually ruled that in one small patch of forest, Forestry Tasmania was operating outside the terms of the Tasmanian Regional Forest agreement, as defined by the court. Readers on the mainland and in Britain wouldn't have a clue about the details of the case and would no doubt believe Flanagan's bald assertion.

It is a pity his audience won't and don't want to hear Abetz's response, but though the author claims that Tasmania's great forests will soon "belong only to myth as the last of these extraordinary places is sacrificed to the wood-chipper's greed", the reality is that Tasmania will continue to have 47 per cent of its forests forever protected, including 79 per cent of the old-growth forests, and more than half of the Styx.

Nor do Flanagan's repeated claims that old-growth forests are logged for wood chips stand up. Those trees are logged for their precious timber for craft wood, furniture and veneers. Only the residue is chipped for paper - which is better than permitting it to be wasted.

What is it about timber - the most sustainable, most energy efficient of all our resources - that people like Flanagan cannot get their heads around or dislike so intensely? Do they really want to live in concrete boxes decorated with moulded plastics and admire fittings made of long chains of polymer? Tasmania is home to all manner of self-appointed protest groups, Doctors for Forests, Lawyers for Trees, whatever. Perhaps Flanagan wants to initiate Novelists for Paperless Books. What is obvious is his fiction is apiece with the myths that have sustained the Greens and the loopier members of the Green Left for decades, and bears no relation to the realities underpinning the island's industry and economy.



Along with almost all intellectually gifted, sophisticatedly modern and environmentally conscious people, I was horrified last week when I first heard President Bush's so-called proposals on global climate change ahead of the G8 summit this week in Germany. How could he? After all the hopes placed in the world's leadership for sensible policies to combat the greatest threat to our civilisation since Hannibal crossed the Alps? How could he let us down this time?

Of course, the reasons for my concern were somewhat different from those of the vast and expanding climate change lobby; all those hip young people from Greenpeace and all those teachers who want compulsory readings from Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth to replace morning assembly. My concern was that, as it was initially presented, the proposals seemed to represent a genuinely alarming change of heart by Mr Bush. After years of steadfastly resisting the insistent demands of the climate alarmists, of bravely ignoring the ridicule of the world's media elites, Mr Bush was finally caving in.

The talk from officials in Washington was all about the global scientific consensus on the need to reduce carbon emissions, about the need for international agreements. Over in Brussels C. Boyden Gray, Mr Bush's sibilantly smooth Ambassador to the European Union, was out there on all the news programmes, confirming that, yes, this really was Mr Bush's Damascene moment.

Fortunately, as the rest of the world quickly discovered to its horror, it took only a slightly more detailed perusal of the speech than Ambassador Gray had obviously given it to realise that this great capitulation by the United States was nothing of the sort. Mr Bush was not, after all, kneeling at the altar of the Church of Environmentally Aware Correctness and asking to be baptised anew in the healing waters of Kyoto-style targets and carbon emissions caps. He was, in fact, to the disgust of the climate change lobby's hierarchy, politely declining to join the Gadarene rush of European Union's leadership into the economic abyss and, instead, largely repeating the only really sensible set of proposals to deal with the challenge.

The parties meeting at the G8 this week will do their best to hide their divisions on the subject, but there is no getting away from it. Europe remains intent, at least in its public declarations, to commit itself to policies that are based on what can only be called an ideology of climate change, a faith-based approach to long-term environmental policy, with scant reference to hard political and economic facts. The US has opted for pragmatism.

The broad outlines of the American approach can be summarised as follows. Yes, global warming is a reality. Yes, it is caused in significant part by human activity and, yes, much of that is the result of the production of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. But, no, we will not sign up to targets that are either unattainable or meaningless, or worse, if taken seriously will prove economically self-immolating.

Into this category can certainly be put Angela Merkel's plans for strict targets on global temperatures (can we also aim for compulsory targets on the number of wars, terrorist attacks and embarrassing defeats by our national football teams while we're at it?) No, we will not ignore the inescapable reality that three quarters of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the next 50 years will be produced by developing countries, which means that, even if we reduced our own countries to a stone-age level of economic activity, we would make barely a dent in the scale of C02 emission concentrations in the atmosphere.

And so, yes, we will continue to place much hope (and quite a lot of our cash) in the rapidly expanding possibilities of technological change. Early estimates for the US in 2006 show that emissions actually fell last year for the first time since 1991, and for the first time ever in a year when the US did not experience a recession. That suggests that American companies and consumers are already finding ways to trim their carbon footprint and to lower the carbon concentration of their economic activity.

This progress would certainly be further assisted by good public policy, such as a carbon tax, a proposal many of the current crop of presidential candidates on both sides of the political divide, now favour.

Have you noticed, by the way, that Europeans like to sneer at the US for being antiscience and replacing the rule of reason with Biblical fundamentalism? In fact, almost all the really exciting new research into the technologies of emissions reduction, carbon capture and carbon sequestration are being done by clever scientists in the US.

Most of the dire warnings of the global climate change crowd are based on the most extreme projections of the impact of warming, combined with projections of absolutely no improvements in the technology that will help us deal with the challenge over the next century. You don't have to be a sunny optimist to think that that gloom-laden scenario, wholly at odds with historical precedent, will prove to be more than a little off the mark.



The developing world's resistance to Western-led initiatives over climate change stepped up yesterday when China rejected the European Union's key global warming target. Unveiling its own long-awaited "Climate Change Action Plan", the Chinese government said the EU's goal of keeping a rise in global temperatures to within two degrees centigrade was in need of more work. "I fear this lacks a scientific basis," said Ma Kai, the minister in charge of China's chief economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission.

China has already given notice that it will reject any calls for a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions at the G8 meeting of major economic powers in Germany this week. India, which like China is not a member of the G8 but attends as a representative of major emerging economies, has also rejected emissions caps. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, a third member of the same "developing nation club", has meanwhile attacked a proposal by President George W Bush for a summit of 15 polluting nations to come up with a global climate change plan by the end of next year.

Developing countries supported the Kyoto accord on global warming partly because it set them no clear targets for their contribution to the fight against global warming. All argue that with per capita emissions far lower than the West's, they should be allowed to first focus on development and the environment later.

China has become increasingly defensive since the International Energy Agency reported that it could overtake the United States this year as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. The goals which China announced yesterday do not differ from existing targets, several of which are not yet being met. Among them is a plan to improve energy intensity - the consumption of energy per unit of gross domestic product - by 20 per cent from 2005 to 2010. Given that its GDP is rising by an average of about 10 per cent per year, even that figure would only slow the growth of energy use, not cut it. Last year, the reduction in China was only 1.2 per cent, far short of the four per cent needed every year to meet its stated goal.


Congress: Don't interfere with oil and gas ... please!

Congress could take concrete steps to help consumers at the pump by removing roadblocks to new oil production, reducing restraints on refining capacity, and improving the investment climate, says H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Congress bears far more blame than private oil companies for high gas prices, explains Burnett:

* While oil companies' overall profits are large, at about 9 cents per dollar of revenue, their profit margins are much lower than many industries including banking, pharmaceuticals, computers and many household goods.

* The oil industry has been repeatedly investigated by multiple agencies at the request of both Democratic and Republican Congresses, and Democratic and Republican administrations, but it's never been found to be guilty of colluding or price fixing.

* This is no surprise, since even the largest private oil company in the world owns less than 3 percent of the oil that it delivers to the market each day.

* World oil prices are not set by big oil companies in the United States, but rather by supply and demand conditions in the market, as often manipulated by state-run oil companies -- who own most of world's oil -- in OPEC and Russia.

* Even in the face of congressional hostility and forced nationalization of foreign-owned oil and gas deposits, the industry has done its best to increase oil reserves -- the number of oil and gas wells operating in the United States has tripled since 2000.

By contrast, rather than helping consumers, Congress's actions have reduced the available supply of gasoline and made us more dependent on foreign oil, says Burnett.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

They call this a consensus?

"Only an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the global warming crisis. The time for debate is over. The science is settled." So said Al Gore ... in 1992. Amazingly, he made his claims despite much evidence of their falsity. A Gallup poll at the time reported that 53% of scientists actively involved in global climate research did not believe global warming had occurred; 30% weren't sure; and only 17% believed global warming had begun. Even a Greenpeace poll showed 47% of climatologists didn't think a runaway greenhouse effect was imminent; only 36% thought it possible and a mere 13% thought it probable.

Today, Al Gore is making the same claims of a scientific consensus, as do the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and hundreds of government agencies and environmental groups around the world. But the claims of a scientific consensus remain unsubstantiated. They have only become louder and more frequent.

More than six months ago, I began writing this series, The Deniers. When I began, I accepted the prevailing view that scientists overwhelmingly believe that climate change threatens the planet. I doubted only claims that the dissenters were either kooks on the margins of science or sell-outs in the pockets of the oil companies.

My series set out to profile the dissenters -- those who deny that the science is settled on climate change -- and to have their views heard. To demonstrate that dissent is credible, I chose high-ranking scientists at the world's premier scientific establishments. I considered stopping after writing six profiles, thinking I had made my point, but continued the series due to feedback from readers. I next planned to stop writing after 10 profiles, then 12, but the feedback increased. Now, after profiling more than 20 deniers, I do not know when I will stop -- the list of distinguished scientists who question the IPCC grows daily, as does the number of emails I receive, many from scientists who express gratitude for my series.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped believing that a scientific consensus exists on climate change. Certainly there is no consensus at the very top echelons of scientists -- the ranks from which I have been drawing my subjects -- and certainly there is no consensus among astrophysicists and other solar scientists, several of whom I have profiled. If anything, the majority view among these subsets of the scientific community may run in the opposite direction. Not only do most of my interviewees either discount or disparage the conventional wisdom as represented by the IPCC, many say their peers generally consider it to have little or no credibility. In one case, a top scientist told me that, to his knowledge, no respected scientist in his field accepts the IPCC position.

What of the one claim that we hear over and over again, that 2,000 or 2,500 of the world's top scientists endorse the IPCC position? I asked the IPCC for their names, to gauge their views. "The 2,500 or so scientists you are referring to are reviewers from countries all over the world," the IPCC Secretariat responded. "The list with their names and contacts will be attached to future IPCC publications, which will hopefully be on-line in the second half of 2007."

An IPCC reviewer does not assess the IPCC's comprehensive findings. He might only review one small part of one study that later becomes one small input to the published IPCC report. Far from endorsing the IPCC reports, some reviewers, offended at what they considered a sham review process, have demanded that the IPCC remove their names from the list of reviewers. One even threatened legal action when the IPCC refused.

A great many scientists, without doubt, are four-square in their support of the IPCC. A great many others are not. A petition organized by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine between 1999 and 2001 claimed some 17,800 scientists in opposition to the Kyoto Protocol. A more recent indicator comes from the U.S.-based National Registry of Environmental Professionals, an accrediting organization whose 12,000 environmental practitioners have standing with U.S. government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. In a November, 2006, survey of its members, it found that only 59% think human activities are largely responsible for the warming that has occurred, and only 39% make their priority the curbing of carbon emissions. And 71% believe the increase in hurricanes is likely natural, not easily attributed to human activities.

Such diversity of views is also present in the wider scientific community, as seen in the World Federation of Scientists, an organization formed during the Cold War to encourage dialogue among scientists to prevent nuclear catastrophe. The federation, which encompasses many of the world's most eminent scientists and today represents more than 10,000 scientists, now focuses on 15 "planetary emergencies," among them water, soil, food, medicine and biotechnology, and climatic changes. Within climatic changes, there are eight priorities, one being "Possible human influences on climate and on atmospheric composition and chemistry (e.g. increased greenhouse gases and tropospheric ozone)."

Man-made global warming deserves study, the World Federation of Scientists believes, but so do other serious climatic concerns. So do 14 other planetary emergencies. That seems about right.


India in blow to G8 hopes on climate

INDIA has dealt an early blow to hopes that this week's G8 summit will set new greenhouse gas reduction targets, declaring yesterday that it will neither accept a binding emissions cap nor agree to curbs that stunt its economic growth.

Following weekend talks between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Brazil's visiting President Lula de Silva on how to deal with climate change, Indian officials insisted yesterday they would not allow environmental policies to imperil plans to improve the lot of the country's impoverished masses. "We are willing to work in partnership in this process to cut emissions but we cannot accept equal responsibility (for the global mess caused by the industrialised nations)," an Indian official said.

India is one of the world's top polluters, ranked fourth behind the US, China and Russia. However, like China, it argues that the industrialised world is to blame for global warming and must bear the burden of reversing it.

Neither India nor Brazil are members of the G8 but are among five nations invited to the summit at which German Chancellor and current G8 president Angela Merkel will seek agreement for a global reduction in emissions to50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. China, Mexico and South Africa are the three other non-G8 member states invited to the summit. China and India, with their booming economies and projections for growth, are seen as crucial to any agreement.

But India maintains that its commitment to improving the lot of its people must take precedent over any imperative to help clean up the global mess caused by the world's industrialised nations. With more than 40 per cent of its 1.1 billion people surviving on less than a dollar a day, it is estimated that, if India can maintain current annual growth rates of about 10 per cent, it will still take about 25 years to end poverty.

The country's top environmental official, Pradipto Ghosh, said yesterday that "legally mandated measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are likely to have significant adverse effects on the GDP growth of developing countries, including India". Dr Ghosh added that plans to cut back on greenhouse gases could also have "serious implications for our poverty-alleviation programs: this is not the path we want to pursue".



China has said an EU proposal seeking to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius did not have scientific backing and it needed to be studied before it was used to set policy. Ma Kai, director of China's National Development and Reform Commission, which steers climate change policy, told reporters that the EU proposal had not been subjected to proper study. "I fear this lacks a scientific basis," he said of the EU's proposed goal.

China says its response to the threats of climate change must give overriding priority to economic development as the nation seeks to balance ambitions for growth with fears of environmental calamity. The remarks came in China's first national plan on climate change, which sets out the country's broad policies on global warming and greenhouse gas pollution. "The first and overriding priorities of developing countries are sustainable development and poverty eradication," the plan states. "China will continue to actively tackle climate change issues in accordance with its national sustainable development strategy in the future."

The unveiling of Beijing's broad blueprint comes two days before President Hu Jintao attends a meeting of Group of Eight leaders in Germany at which global warming will feature. His country is facing international pressure to spell out targets for taming greenhouse gas emissions, which are trapping more heat in the atmosphere and threatening dangerous climate change.

International contention over emissions is set to intensify as negotiations open on extending a UN treaty on global warming and emissions beyond 2012, when the first phase of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol ends. China and other developing countries signed that treaty, but under current rules they do not have to set goals for emissions. Beijing is willing to strengthen international cooperation on climate change, but any regional cooperation should "complement" the Kyoto Protocol, the UN-sponsored treaty, the Chinese plan says.

US President George W Bush has signalled that he might seek an international agreement on the issue outside the Kyoto framework. "Regional cooperation on climate change, in any form, should function as a helpful complement to the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol rather than replacing or weakening them," China's plan states, referring to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto's parent treaty.



Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has flatly rejected President Bush's proposals for parallel global negotiations to combat climate change, insisting that countries come to agreement at the United Nations, and not under US leadership. In a rare interview with a British newspaper, President Lula told the Guardian that Brazil, a fast developing country whose support is critical to a global deal on emission cuts, had not even been informed that Mr Bush was contemplating a new negotiating framework, before the US president made his announcement last Thursday. "The Brazilian position is clear cut," Mr Lula said. "I cannot accept the idea that we have to build another group to discuss the same issues that were discussed in Kyoto and not fulfilled. "If you have a multilateral forum [the UN] that makes a democratic decision ... then we should work to abide by those rules [rather than] simply to say that I do not agree with Kyoto and that I will develop another institution," said Mr Lula, who was in London to watch Friday's England-Brazil international football friendly.



As Chancellor Angela Merkel seeks to convince world leaders to cut greenhouse gases at a G8 summit this week, one of the biggest brown coal-fired power plants ever built is taking shape in this depressed town. Hosting the Group of Eight summit in Heiligendamm, Germany may see itself as a guardian of the environment and sometimes wags a green finger at the rest of the world's efforts to tackle global warming. But residents of this eastern town, where the population has halved since 1990, are delighted by the plant and by a plan to fuel it by re-opening an opencast pit which closed eight years ago.

The plant on the outskirts of Boxberg near the Polish border will emit 4.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year -- as much as 1.5 million cars -- and is one of 26 coal-burning plants due to be built in Germany. "Everyone here is in favor of the new power plant," said Boxberg mayor Roland Trunsch. "The town would have died without it. People went out to protest in the streets to get it built. The CO2 doesn't bother any of us. The jobs are more important."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Deadly "biofuels"

HE survived decades of Colombia's murderous guerrilla uprisings. He lived through paramilitary purges and steered well clear of the cocaine overlords who swarmed across his rural region. It was something completely different that killed Innocence Dias. He died because the world is turning green.

The global quest for alternative sources of environmentally friendly energy has attracted high-profile support from American politicians, including President George W Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California. Celebrities such as Daryl Hannah, the actress, and Willie Nelson, the country singer, are leading a campaign to promote green fuels. Yet the trend has already had disastrous consequences for tens of thousands of peasants in rural Colombia. A surge in demand for biofuels derived from agricultural products has unleashed a chaotic land grab by a new breed of gangster entrepreneurs hoping to cash in on the world's thirst for palm oil and related bioproducts.

Vast areas of Colombia's tropical forest are being cleared for palm tree plantations. Charities working with local peasants claim that paramilitary forces in league with biofuel conglomerates - some of them financed by US government subsidies - are forcing families off their land with death threats and bogus purchase offers. "The paramilitaries are not subtle when it comes to taking land," said Dominic Nutt, a British specialist with Christian Aid who recently visited Colombia. "They simply visit a community and tell landowners, `If you don't sell to us, we will negotiate with your widow'."

Dias was one of several landowners around the remote settlement of Llano Rico who decided not to abandon his property when the paramilitaries first moved into the area. "My father felt protected because he had a local government position," said his daughter, Milvia Dias, 29. Even when paramilitaries warned the villagers that if they stayed they would be considered left-wing guerrilla sympathisers, Dias refused to be bullied. "He had cattle and land and one day, after all this happened, he went out to fix a hole in one of the farm's fences," his daughter said. He never came back. A search party found him with his throat cut and seven stab wounds in his torso. "We held the funeral at 5pm the same day and we ran away the next morning," said Dias. The land is now covered in palm trees owned by Urapalma, a Colombian enterprise that has repeatedly been accused in court proceedings of improperly invading private property.

Nutt said last week that he had heard stories of paramilitaries cutting off the arms of illiterate peasants and applying their fingerprints to land sale documents. In many cases, Nutt added, the land is collectively owned by indigenous people or Afro-Colombians and protected by federal laws that courts seem unable or unwilling to enforce. There is no reliable estimate of how many thousand acres have been appropriated, or how many of the 3m Colombians who have lost their homes since 1985 were forced out by the palm oil business.

Washington has been struggling for years to persuade Colombian farmers to turn their backs on coca leaf production in favour of other crops. Desperate to find energy alternatives to expensive and politically volatile sources of Middle Eastern and Venezuelan oil, Bush is also advocating a global increase in biofuel production.

Alvaro Uribe, the president of Colombia, has urged local palm oil producers to more than double the land they have under cultivation within four years. Uribe's critics complain that he has effectively given a green light to paramilitaries. At a congressional hearing on Colombia last week, Luis Gilberto Murillo-Urrutia, the former governor of Choco province, told a House foreign affairs subcommittee that US trade policy was likely to "generate an expansion of palm oil cultivation in Afro-Colombian territories . . . there is evidence that palm oil companies, taking advantage of the vulnerability of Afro- Colombian people, have been taking over lands illegally".

For Don Enrique Petro, 67, formerly a wealthy landowner from Curvarado, growing international awareness of the human cost of a green conscience has come several years too late. "I arrived in Curvarado 39 years ago with my wife and five sons," he said last week. He bought a patch of jungle and slowly transformed it into a 30-acre spread with 110 cows, 20 bulls and 10 horses.

He lost two sons and a brother to the guerrilla wars and in the early 1990s fled his land for five years. When he returned, he found a right-wing paramilitary group in control. "They said they wanted my land to fight the guerrillas," Petro said. "They were lying. It was so they could grow palm on it and make money." Petro refused to sell up. He claims he was eventually taken prisoner by the paramilitaries and, when released, found his land had been planted with palm trees belonging to Urapalma. The company has denied that it is cooperating with paramilitaries or acquiring land illegally.

The world's demand for alternative fuels is unlikely to diminish, but Nutt argued that biofuel consumers should put pressure on Colombia to return stolen land. Celebrities such as Hannah are beginning to distinguish between palm oil and less controversial biofuels such as ethanol, which is derived mainly from corn. "I want biofuels that are grown and produced in a sustainable manner," said Hannah, who leads a pressure group which is lobbying for US government standards on green fuel production. "I would not buy biodiesel made from palm oil."


Democrats Support Destructive Limits on America's Energy Sector

At today's EPW Committee hearing today, Senate Democrats expressed support for reducing mercury emissions from every power plant by 90 percent. Proponents of this approach generally claim that each power plant should be able to reduce mercury emissions by at least 90 percent, even though this level of reduction is not currently achievable and control technology vendors refuse to guarantee the performance of mercury removal technologies at these stringent levels.

FACT: According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), setting a 90% reduction mandate on mercury would cost up to $358 billion. A 90 percent reduction would result in fuel switching away from coal, which is our most abundant and least costly energy source, to natural gas. Increased reliance on natural gas for electricity generation will further increase prices, seriously impacting the ability of businesses to compete in the global marketplace and of families to pay their utility bills.

Further, like many other pollutants, mercury levels have also come down dramatically. Numerous industries that used to emit high levels of mercury, such as the municipal waste incinerators, have been controlled. The power sector industry is merely the latest industry to be regulated. And the regulations are significant - President Bush's Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) will reduce power plant mercury emissions by 70 percent. And because the rule acts in coordination with CAMR- which reduces SO2, NOx, and particulate matter - it can be done for $2 billion. That's right - cutting 70% will cost $2 billion, but incrementally increasing that amount to beyond what the technologies can reliably do would cost up to $358 billion.

Finally, draconian mercury mandates fail to address the mercury emissions from outside of the United States. According to the EPA, Asia is responsible for 53 percent of mercury emissions worldwide, and that U.S. power plants contribute only about 1 percent of the mercury in the oceans. In fact, according to EPA, U.S. emissions of mercury were reduced by nearly half, from 1990 to 1999. While we have made great progress in reducing these emissions, they have been offset by increases in emissions from Asia, particularly China.


Mercury concern overblown

Since 1970, we have had tremendous economic growth, and tripled our energy use and vehicle miles traveled. Despite this, instead of tripling our pollution or doubling or even holding it constant, we have cut our pollution levels by more than half. This is a success story that - hard as it is to believe - few people even realize is true.

This gets to the heart of my greatest concern over the mercury debate. Few understand it, and some have preyed upon that lack of understanding. We are literally scaring ourselves to death over mercury. A few years ago, when EPA and the FDA issued a joint advisory on mercury and environmentalists turned up their alarmist rhetoric, tuna consumption plummeted. People became afraid to eat fish because they believed it was bad for them.

Let's be clear: all seafood has some level of mercury - always has and always will. It is an element, pervasive in the environment and bioaccumulative. The question is not whether mercury causes birth defects and even kills in high doses - it does. The question is whether it's harmful in extremely low quantities. According to the biggest, best designed and longest running study ever done, the answer is a resounding "NO."

What most people do not realize is that is that the dose makes the poison. Fish is brain food. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduces colon and lung cancers and numerous other ailments, and aids brain development in the womb. The Seychelles Islands study found that, even though their seafood-rich diet meant they consumed more mercury than Americans, eating the seafood was beneficial. Let me repeat: by discouraging people from eating fish, we are literally scaring them to death.

That isn't to say we shouldn't make progress in bringing down mercury levels. We should and we are. But we need to put the issue in perspective. Like other pollutants, mercury levels have also come down dramatically. Numerous industries that used to emit high levels of mercury, such as the municipal waste incinerators, have been controlled. The power sector industry is merely the latest industry to be regulated. And the regulations are significant - the Clean Air Mercury Rule will reduce power plant mercury emissions by 70 percent. And because the rule acts in coordination with the Clean Air Implementation Rule - which reduces SO2, NOx, and particulate matter - it can be done for $2 billion.


Why is the Vatican Backing Climate Change Theory?

On May 10, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's representative at the United Nations, addressed the Economic and Social Council of the UN on the hot topic of climate change. His comments were disturbing to many since he seemed to indicate the Vatican was taking sides in the contentious debate around the causes of climate change. Furthermore, by failing to clarify that the Vatican does not support population control as a means to address global warming his use of the terminology employed by groups advocating population control as the primary solution to avert disaster is also raising eyebrows.

Archbishop Migliore stated, "The scientific evidence for global warming and for humanity's role in the increase of greenhouse gasses becomes ever more unimpeachable . . . and such activity has a profound relevance, not just for the environment, but in ethical, economic, social and political terms as well."

While debate among climate scientists rages about the human contribution to climate change and global warming, many are concerned that the Vatican ambassador has chosen to take sides on this controversial issue.

A few months ago the Evangelical leadership of the United States ventured into similar territory when the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) published the Evangelical Climate Initiative. The statement claimed that "climate change" is "human-induced" and would result in the deaths of "millions of people.most of them our poorest global neighbors," through climatological disasters such as hurricane Katrina.

Prominent Evangelical spokesmen, including Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson, and the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land called on the NAE to back down from its controversial stand "We believe there should be room for Bible-believing evangelicals to disagree about the cause, severity and solutions to the global warming issue . . . Global warming is not a consensus issue, and our love for the Creator and respect for His creation does not require us to take a position," Dobson, Land and others wrote.

In language that could be equally addressed to the Vatican, Dobson told the NAE that certain individuals "are using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time, notably the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage and the teaching of sexual abstinence and morality to our children."

Another concerning comment in the Archbishop's address to the UN was a glowing reference to "sustainable development", UN lingo which has long been associated with population control. "There is still time to use technology and education to promote universally sustainable development before it is too late," he concluded.

Those in the pro-life community who have been following developments at the United Nations for the past decade are well acquainted with the language employed by Archbishop Migliore. It is the same as that which has been spouted by those seeking to force population control on developing nations by inciting fear of climate disaster and false promises of prosperity with from depopulation.

Joan Veon, a veteran UN expert who has reported on about 100 United Nations conferences explained what UN policy-makers mean when they use the term sustainable development. In 1992 during the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development Veon observed: "Sustainable development basically says there are too many people on the planet, that we must reduce the population."

Not only UN experts but also national leaders have admitted publicly that population control lies at the heart of plans to combat global warming. Last month China boasted that its one-child policy, which has been criticized by many nations for including forced abortion and sterilization, had reduced greenhouse gases. Speaking at a meeting in Oslo on the UN's Kyoto Protocol, Hu Tao of China's State Environmental Protection Administration said the one-child population control policy has slowed "global warming" by limiting the population to 1.3 billion. "This has reduced greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

In 2004 Russian presidential economic advisor Andrei Illarionov called the Kyoto Protocol - a UN sponsored treaty to reduce greenhouse gases - an "undeclared war against Russia" since it required depopulation. Quoting a British team of scientists and government officials Illarionov said, "As long as you reduce your population, you can meet the Kyoto Protocol requirements."

Recently population control advocates have become more open about their agenda. A report published May 7 by the Optimum Population Trust declared that the best "carbon-offset strategy" was to reduce the number of human beings and thus defeat the "global warming" phenomenon. "Population limitation should therefore be seen as the most cost-effective carbon offsetting strategy available to individuals and nations," read the report, A Population-Based Climate Strategy. "The most effective personal climate change strategy is limiting the number of children one has," the report says. "The most effective national and global climate change strategy is limiting the size of the population."

The stance of most of the pro-life movement regarding the environment was recently expressed by Czech President Vaclav Klaus in March of this year. "All of us are very much in favour of maximum environmental protection and protection of nature," he said in an interview with the Cato Institute. "But it has nothing in common with environmentalism, which is ideological and practically attacking our freedom." Environmentalism is, he said "a way of introducing new forms of statism, new forms of masterminding human society from above."

Should the Vatican wish to get into the game of prediction of man-made climate disasters perhaps they should revisit Biblical interpretations of natural disasters resulting from the sinfulness of mankind. The Biblical account of Noah's Ark describes the whole known population of the earth being drowned in a flood except for Noah and his family, who were faithful to God. To say nothing of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the flood was caused, teaches the Church, not by global warming, but by global sinning.


A reminder about the limitations of rationality when dealing with Greenies

"Then came Paul Ehrlich’s “The Population Bomb” (1968), in which he opened famously by saying, “The battle to feed humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s, hundreds of millions of people will starve to death, in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” Writing in Ramparts magazine, he went even further, “Hundreds of millions of people will soon perish in smog disasters in New York and Los Angeles…the oceans will die of DDT poisoning by 1979…the U.S. life expectancy will drop to 42 years by 1980, due to cancer epidemics.” Hepatitis and dysentery would sweep America by 1980 and nearly all of us would wear gas masks. Over 65 million Americans would starve in the 1980s, leaving only 22.6 million starved Americans alive in 1990. In 1990, he incredibly justified his claims as being right – a trait common to Doomsday prophets."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Monday, June 04, 2007


EUROPE was yesterday struggling to decide whether George Bush, the US president, had experienced a road-to-Damascus conversion over the fight against climate change or was still dragging his heels. For some leaders, the announcement on Thursday that Mr Bush was seeking a meeting of the 15 leading greenhouse gas emitting countries was "groundbreaking", heralding a new approach by the United States to the whole issue. But others complained it was simply a restatement of the "classic US line" with no firm targets to cut emissions and prevent global warming.

Mr Bush became a hate-figure for environmentalists when he decided against implementing the Kyoto treaty [Rubbish! The U.S. Senate made that decision] on climate change in 2001, saying it would cost US jobs and wrongly excluded developing nations. In his speech on Thursday, the US president said he wanted the group of leading polluters, including the US, China, India and major European countries, to come up with a global target for carbon emissions but decide themselves how to reach that target.

On a visit to Finland, the EU Energy Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, said the new statement was a major step in the right direction, representing "a completely new approach" for Mr Bush. "For me, it's very welcome and groundbreaking news," he said. He added that it was particularly important for the Group of Eight countries meeting next week.

However the Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas, had a very different take to his energy counterpart on the significance of Mr Bush's comments. "The declaration by President Bush basically restates the US classic line on climate change - no mandatory reductions, no carbon trading and vaguely expressed objectives," he said. "The US approach has proven to be ineffective in reducing emissions."

The German environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said Mr Bush's announcement could be seen as progress only if it prepared the way for a United Nations pact to extend the Kyoto Protocol past 2012. "If it is an attempt to hamper such an international climate change agreement, then it is dangerous," he said. "The European Union and also the G8 should not be content with initiating a process that just means we'll have some vague agreements between ten or 15 countries in the world."

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, wants the G8 to agree now on a need for world cuts of about 50 per cent in emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. Her spokesman, Ulrich Wilhelm, said it was too early to predict the outcome of the G8. "I think we can say at this stage that it's going to be tough," he said.



A Guardian investigation has found evidence of serious irregularities at the heart of the process the world is relying on to control global warming. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which is supposed to offset greenhouse gases emitted in the developed world by selling carbon credits from elsewhere, has been contaminated by gross incompetence, rule-breaking and possible fraud by companies in the developing world, according to UN paperwork, an unpublished expert report and alarming feedback from projects on the ground.

One senior figure suggested there may be faults with up to 20% of the carbon credits - known as certified emissions reductions - already sold. Since these are used by European governments and corporations to justify increases in emissions, the effect is that in some cases malpractice at the CDM has added to the net amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere...


Truth about Kyoto: huge profits, little carbon saved

More on the Guardian's road to Damascus -- revealing below major flaws in the global system designed to reduce emissions

[...] The carbon market's leading analysts, Point Carbon, recently calculated that this scheme handed out 170m too many EUAs. In the early days, nobody realised quite how badly the commission had miscalculated, and so the price of the EUAs was quite high, at up to EUR30 a tonne. But individual companies, particularly energy companies, rapidly saw they had millions of tonnes of EUAs that they didn't need, and so they sold their surplus, making huge profits. A 2005 report by IPA Energy Consulting found that the six UK electricity generators stood to earn some 800m pounds in each of the three years of the scheme.

A separate report by Open Europe, in July 2006, found that UK oil companies were also poised to make a lot of free money: 10.2m for Esso; 17.9m for BP; and 20.7m for Shell. And behind this profiteering, the environmental reality was that these major producers of carbon emissions were under no pressure from the scheme to cut emissions. At the other end of this EU market, smaller organisations like UK hospitals and 18 universities, who had been given far fewer EUAs, were forced to go out and buy them - while the price was still high. So, for example, the University of Manchester spent 92,500 pounds on EUAs. Now that the truth about the glut has been revealed, the university would be doing well if it managed to get 1,000 pounds for the lot of them.



Russia this week gave a surprise green light to carbon trading under the Kyoto Protocol to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but needs to start approving actual projects to unlock a multi-billion dollar market. Russia is the single largest supplier of oil and gas to the European Union and also the world's third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the United States and China. As a big player in both energy and climate change, it is well-placed to cash in on the sale of emissions cuts, or carbon credits, to other industrialised countries, but has long delayed implementing the necessary rules.

Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov signed a government decree on Monday defining guidelines. "If there were 50 steps, we're at step 49," said Arthur Houston, a Russia manager at London-listed carbon project developer Camco. "Now we need to know the final text of the decree, on how to apply. We're expecting that to be posted on the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade website over the next week."

The government would post the final draft on Friday, said a westerner working in Russia's embyronic carbon trading industry, who declined to be named. "This is the big one, it's what everyone's been waiting for for over a year and a half," said Abyd Karmali, a climate change consultant at ICF International.

Kyoto allows rich countries to meet caps on greenhouse gas emissions by investing in emissions-cutting projects in other countries, part of a $30 billion global carbon market. That market is meant to target cheapest emissions cuts and so cut the cost of fighting climate change. Russia could be a cheap source of credits for example by simply plugging holes in its vast network of gas pipelines, which currently leaks a potent greenhouse gas, methane.

Russia could sell up to 500 million tonnes of emissions cuts in carbon dioxide equivalent by 2012, estimated Karmali, which would value the market at $5 billion, assuming current prices. Carbon project developer the Russian Carbon Fund put the market size at up to 350 million tonnes, and underlined the need for further details and operation in practice. "This is an important step, it's something the market's been waiting for for some time, but one should not be fooled that it takes care of everything," said Morten Prehn Sorensen, chief climate change officer at RCF. "Details needs to be fleshed out, like where applications should be submitted. Markets will want to see it in operation and issued approvals."

Russia also needs U.N. approval to trade carbon, expected by early next year, and has already ordered from French firm Seringas the necessary registry software to log transactions, Sorensen said. But the carbon market needed to know when that registry would be up and running, said Shell's Garth Edward. "The government decision is the first step, now they need to operationalise that. The time frame for turning around applications is unclear," Edward added.

Under the Kyoto Protocol industrialised countries can either buy carbon credits from developing countries, under the pact's Clean Development Mechanism, or else from each other under Joint Implementation, as in the case of Russia.



EU efforts to speed action on climate change took a blow on Tuesday when Japan refused to follow the EU line on how to establish a new international regime once the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. A statement from EU president Germany, which chaired a gathering of EU and Asian foreign ministers in Hamburg ahead of next week's meeting of Group of Eight (G8) leaders, said talks to establish a new regime should be completed by 2009.

But Japan said it could not accept a 2009 target, saying big polluters such as the United States, China and India should be included before any such target was set. "Japan cannot agree with this because we should think about how we can invite non-Kyoto members such as the U.S., China and India and others," Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mitsui Sakaba told reporters. "We should work first for the inclusion of those countries. Fixing the target should come much later."

Germany is leading a drive to persuade the United States to follow Europe's lead on climate change before a June 6-8 summit of the Group of Eight industrial nations. Chancellor Angela Merkel wants the G8 to agree concrete steps that would prepare the ground for an extension of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which commits signatories to reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. "We need the Asians as well," said a spokeswoman for EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. "Global warming is something that is global and we need all continents participating in the post-Kyoto plan."



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Sunday, June 03, 2007


Absorbtion and release of carbon by the oceans is universally recognized as crucial to determining atmospheric levels of CO2 but the paper below reveals fundamental disagreements over what happens in the oceans. Popular language summary of latest paper given below followed by journal abstract:

Competition between degradation and preservation of organic matter in the sea and on the sea floor plays a central role in controlling how much oxygen is in the atmosphere, as well as how carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other elements are cycled through the biogeosphere. Because the quantity of carbon in marine sediments is huge, small differences in the balance between these processes can have large impacts, which has made this problem challenging to model. Rothman and Forney (p. 1325; see the Perspective by Middelburg and Meysman) now present a consistent model in which the intrinsic reactivity of organic material is constant and that the rate of decay depends on bacterial abundance. This explanation is fundamentally different from chemical models in which organic-matter degradation rates depend on intrinsic reactivity.

Physical Model for the Decay and Preservation of Marine Organic Carbon

By Daniel H. Rothman and David C. Forney

Degradation of marine organic carbon provides a major source of atmospheric carbon dioxide, whereas preservation in sediments results in accumulation of oxygen. These processes involve the slow decay of chemically recalcitrant compounds and physical protection. To assess the importance of physical protection, we constructed a reaction-diffusion model in which organic matter differs only in its accessibility to microbial degradation but not its intrinsic reactivity. The model predicts that organic matter decays logarithmically with time t and that decay rates decrease approximately as 0.2 x t-1 until burial. Analyses of sediment-core data are consistent with these predictions.


Fireplaces to be banned in California

Throwing a few logs on the fire on a nippy evening, or boosting a home's market appeal by advertising its wood-burning fireplace, could go the way of the coal chute and the ice box for many Southern Californians if newly proposed air quality regulations are adopted. As part of air pollution plans designed to meet federal deadlines, South Coast Air Quality Management District officials have proposed a ban on wood-burning fireplaces in all new homes in Los Angeles, Orange and portions of Riverside and San Bernardino counties. In addition, on winter days when pollution spikes, wood-fueled blazes in all fireplaces would be banned in highly affected areas. That could amount to about 20 days a year, district officials said. Another measure that would require closing off wood fireplaces or installing $3,600 pollution control devices before a home could be sold had been dropped as of late Thursday, an AQMD spokesman said.

Regulators say that with an estimated 5,400 premature deaths attributable to soot each year in the region, no source is too small to target. Numerous studies have shown that the fine particulate matter in soot sinks deep into the lungs, causing serious health problems. But critics, including homebuilders and real estate agents, say the regulations could hurt sales by robbing homes of one of their most enjoyable features. Air district staffers say a daily reduction of 192 tons of nitrogen oxides, an ingredient in harmful particulate pollution, is needed across the region to meet the Clean Air Act requirements, and that 7 tons of that could come from restrictions on fireplaces.

Barbara Burner, a Realtor for 25 years, said that with such a small amount of pollution at issue, she doesn't think the restrictions are merited. "A home is an emotional buy," said Burner, who works for Century 21 in Thousand Oaks and has three wood-burning fireplaces in her own home. "A fireplace - especially a beautiful fireplace, and what people normally mean by that is a wood-burning fireplace - it's the thing people like to have."

The fireplace rules are one piece of a plan also designed to reduce soot from diesel engines and ozone smog that AQMD's board will vote on today. "Our governing board will consider adopting their air quality plan, which includes more than three dozen measures," air district spokesman Sam Atwood said. "One of those measures would be for the first time to have a program that would reduce pollution from residential fireplaces and wood stoves."

The plan also includes truck-only lanes on the 710 and 15 freeways, and electric rail lines from Los Angeles' Westside to Ontario airport and from the ports to Inland Empire warehouses. Reducing paint thinner emissions and gas station and refinery leaks is also part of the host of proposed measures.

If the overall plan is approved, another vote is scheduled for September to finalize the fireplace regulation. "There aren't any easy rules left in terms of substantially reducing" fine particulate air pollution, said Jane Carney, a Riverside attorney and an AQMD board member. Riverside and other Inland Empire communities would likely be targeted by fire bans during cold winter months. Carney said there are "pretty obvious adverse impacts of wood smoke on pollution. If you stand close to a wood fire and breathe, you can feel it in your throat and in your lungs." Carney said that while she would listen to comments from the public and the building industry, attractive alternatives to wood fireplaces are available. "Let me tell you, the natural gas logs are wonderful," she said.

Carney also said she would consider even tougher measures to clean up fireplace pollution, such as a complete regional wintertime ban on wood fires. Air pollution regulations on fireplaces have been adopted in an estimated 50 counties, air districts or cities across the West, particularly in colder areas, said John Crouch of the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Assn.

Numerous trade groups oppose the fireplace measures. Mark Grey, environmental director for the Building Industry Assn. of Southern California, said the group would especially oppose any ban on wood-burning fireplaces in new homes.

A fireplace is "a popular feature. People want to be able to have a wood fire at certain times of year, and the AQMD did not bring to us any data that would demonstrate that wood smoke emissions are significant," Grey said. "From the statistics that we can see, most . homes burn wood in their fireplaces twice a year - on Christmas Eve and during the Super Bowl." There are an estimated 1.9 million homes with fireplaces in Southern California out of about 5 million total housing units, regulators said.

Environmentalist Tim Carmichael, who heads the Coalition for Clean Air, said that while it was important to take every step possible to clean the region's air - still the most polluted in the nation - it would be difficult if not impossible to enforce any sort of ban on wintertime fires. "At some level we believe these sorts of controls need to be looked at, but . the big question is, is it enforceable?" Carmichael said. "Could you really get people to stop doing this?"

Atwood, the air district spokesman, said that with about 100 inspectors responsible for pollution sources ranging from oil refineries to gas stations, enforcement would be tough. But Crouch, of the hearth and patio association, said, "Given how far out of attainment the South Coast is for fine particulates, and the fact that wood burning is not as significant in Southern California as it is in, for instance, in Seattle or Denver or someplace colder, I think they've charted a reasonable regional path here."



It always was a crock to try to get around the fact that warmer seas give off more evaporation

There will be more flooding and less drought than has been forecast in widely used projections of global warming, according to a new study. The study using measurements taken by NASA weather satellites compared ocean rainfall from 1987 to 2006 to earlier climate model projections of what that precipitation would be. The models, based on physics equations, were found to be off the mark, according to the study released Thursday by the journal Science.

"The increase in global rainfall associated with global warming may be three times greater than currently predicted," says study lead author Frank Wentz of Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) in Santa Rosa, Calif. In the last century, temperature records indicate average surface temperatures have risen roughly 1 degree, with a bigger increase, perhaps 3 to 7 degrees, projected by 2100. Global warming has become a hot scientific and political issue, focusing attention on the release of greenhouse gases, which retain heat in the atmosphere. Such gases include carbon dioxide, released when coal, oil and natural gas burn.

Projections have suggested that rainfall will rise in coming decades, but not as fast as temperature, leading to drier days and droughts worldwide. In February, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) cited studies showing "extreme drought increasing from 1% of present-day land area to 30% by the end of the century."

The new study suggests models are flawed, underestimating how increased humidity in a warmer climate produces more rain clouds, Wentz said by e-mail. The February IPCC report said global warming makes it "very likely" that storms bringing heavy rains will occur more often in coming decades. The satellite study shows rainfall falling in patterns that mirror IPCC projections, but in greater amounts.


Earth-Friendly Greens Camouflaging the Poor's Plight

"People are pollution" anyway, according to the Greens. Let the poor die!

Many people are aware that the world's poor desperately need economic development. Few realize, however, that a major obstacle to overcoming global poverty is the anti-development and anti-human environmental movement that camouflages itself under ubiquitous "Earth-friendly" shades of green. This lack of awareness is no accident. It's come about through a "See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil" syndrome, where "evil" refers to the many ills of the modern environmental movement.

The syndrome is borne out by recent events related to the eye-opening documentary, "Mine Your Own Business: The Dark Side of Environmentalism," a film about environmentalist efforts to stop economic development in poverty-stricken regions around the world. The syndrome's "see no evil" aspect is exemplified by the efforts of Greenpeace and 80 other environmental organizations to block the movie from being shown in Romania (where much of the film was shot) and Washington, D.C. A Greenpeace official was invited to be a special guest at the film's Washington, D.C., premiere at the National Geographic Society headquarters. Instead of accepting the invitation, which included the opportunity to participate in a post-screening discussion panel, Greenpeace sent a letter to the Society expressing outrage at the decision to permit the film's screening. A Greenpeace-friendly newsletter demonstrated absurdly warped logic by asking a National Geographic spokesman whether the organization would rent out its facilities for the showing of a pro-Nazi propaganda film or a pornographic movie.

"I'm appalled by their demand to shut down the film," said Frayda Levy, president of the screening's co-sponsor, the Moving Picture Institute. "We invited [Greenpeace], but instead of joining us for a discussion, they display breathtaking narrow-mindedness. Regardless of whether you love or hate 'Mine Your Own Business,' it deserves to be seen. What makes them so afraid of this film?" Levy wondered in a media release.

The "hear no evil" aspect of the syndrome is demonstrated by the recent experiences of "MYOB" filmmakers at the International Finance Corp., the private finance arm of the World Bank. Though filmmakers Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney declined comment, the IFC apparently had contacted them about hosting a screening of "MYOB" in the bank. The IFC finances a lot of large infrastructure projects and has had to wrestle with anti-development environmental groups that try to block those development efforts. Not only did the IFC invite the filmmakers to screen the documentary, it also offered as a form of payment to do what it did with Al Gore's documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," that is, purchase 200 DVDs and distribute them to local schools. McAleer and McElhinney jumped at the offer.

But a rather sheepish IFC official subsequently contacted the filmmakers and said that the bank had rethought its offer. The bank could only find the funds to buy 10 copies of "MYOB" and it had decided it would not distribute them to local schools. Instead, the bank would lend them internally to bank employees. A final condition was that the filmmakers were not allowed to tell anyone or announce to anyone that the IFC showed the film. After the screening, World Bank employees, on a one-by-one basis, reportedly commented to McAleer and McElhinney about how true "MYOB" was, but that they were not allowed to say so within the bank.

The syndrome's "speak no evil" aspect is exemplified by my recent personal experience with consumer products giant Procter & Gamble, which touts its support for "sustainable development" on its Web site. Concerned that the company was promoting a concept that has become an Orwellian eco-activist term for blocking all development opportunities no matter what the humanitarian costs, a shareholder group with which I am affiliated filed a related shareholder proposal with the company. In negotiations concerning the proposal, we asked Procter & Gamble to consider distributing copies of "MYOB" to its employees as a way of providing them an alternative viewpoint on "sustainable development" and to make a public statement to the effect that the company thought it was important to hear alternative viewpoints on environmental topics.

But while the company agreed to distribute copies of "MYOB" to its employees, it refused to make the public statement. Procter & Gamble's position was that it didn't want to be seen as endorsing a particular organization's point-of-view - an ostensibly reasonable position except that the company has previously publicly endorsed the viewpoints and mission of the Rainforest Alliance, an anti-development environmental group. Without the public acknowledgment, we doubted that the company was serious about the need for balanced views on sustainable development. Since negotiations collapsed, we'll be raising the issue with Procter & Gamble's CEO, Alan G. Lafley, at its annual shareholder meeting this fall.

The combination of intimidating environmentalists and intimidated organizations has resulted in a tragic absence of debate about the environmental monkey on the backs of the world's poor. Until we can at least talk about what environmental policies may be doing to developing nations - let alone debate these policies - we will have little hope of changing the lamentable state of affairs that has blocked life-saving economic development.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

We beat global warming!

Post lifted from Don Surber. See the original for links

London Daily Mail: "Freak snow, freezing temperatures and tropical storms across Europe are making the Bank Holiday washout here look almost pleasant. In Spitzing in Germany, locals have been forced to wrap up after ten centimetres [4 inches] of snow brought out the snowploughs for the first time this year."

Bloomberg: " Argentina rationed electricity to companies and severed natural gas supplies to Chile as a cold wave prompted record demand for electricity in South America's second-largest economy. The temperature in many parts of Argentina fell below freezing yesterday, pushing electricity demand to a record 18,300 megawatts, according to the country's energy regulator. Argentina cut shipments of gas to Chile to meet the surge in demand, forcing their neighbor to rely on residual gas in the pipeline."

From South Africa's IOL: "Dozens of people were feared killed in remote parts of north-western Nepal after the areas were hit by a freak snow storm, officials said on Tuesday."

Denver Post: "A sudden storm dropped heavy rain and up to 4 inches of hail on the metro area, enough to turn streets white"

What the hell has happened? Is global warming a lie? Or did we just beat it by Al Gore planting all those Guilt Trees in Kenya? I say it is the latter. We did end Global Cooling in the 1970s by switching from Right Guard spray-on to a roll-on. Boy, are we something else or aren't we?

Global Warming Hysteria is a National Security Issue

Recently in the news several retired US generals, came out in favor of using defense resources for fighting the effects of global warming. The news media only carried it for a day or so, but it raised some potent strategic issues that should be discussed. In a news release dated April 15, 2007, the leader of the group, Retired Marine Corps General Zinni turned climatologist and claimed that the US must stop global warming. The group argues that conflicts will be ignited because of the affects of droughts, famines, floods, and hurricanes brought on by human caused global warming, and America must become a constructive force in ending it.

A question for these generals

Why should we rely on strategic guidance from these men who, over the last 20 years, misguided the military in a focus on total war with a conventional enemy? Prior to 1989 this was an understandable orientation, but post-Persian Gulf War 1991 the threat evolved sharply toward asymmetric warfare as the preferred method of waging war against the US and the west. While the true emerging threat was in asymmetric war or terrorism, these climatologist generals were focused on, and caused the military to devote manpower and resources mostly to massed armored and mechanized formations rolling through the Folda Gap in Germany, along with strategic bombing.

These same generals resisted addressing the rising threat of urban warfare, terrorist warfare, and other "hugging" methods of combat that mitigated the might of a technologically advanced and superiorly resourced and trained military's overmatch capabilities.

While General Zinni preached containment of Iraq in the late 1990s, Al Qaeda prepared and launched several attacks from General Zinni's area of responsibility in the central region. Now the very generals that were derelict in their duties to recognize the rise of Islamic Fascism want us to heed their dire predictions on unproven theories of human-caused global warming? They had their chance in the 90s to recognize and prepare the military that they controlled for the true threat of asymmetric warfare, but they ignored it. They should have no reasonable expectation of us listening to their advice on anything.

To be sure, droughts, famines, floods, hurricanes and other climate related disasters could cause conflict that might draw in the United States, but these are is not the main risks we face. These retired generals are making the same mistake in singing on to the global warming hysteria as they did with emergence of asymmetric warfare and terrorism in the 90s. They identify the blatantly obvious first order effects, but predictably do not even try and conceder the second and third order effects of their proposed actions.

The real National Security risk: hyped and unproven man made global warming.

If we, as a nation, divert our economy to fight the phantom threat of the man-made global warming myth, our belligerent competitors around the world will benefit. Administering the prescriptions offered to combat global warming is a kin to throwing trillions of dollars down the drain. Think of China. China would be more than happy to see us divert any part of our economy from capitalism to fighting global warming in a fruitless effort. Wasting those resources gives China a way to speed its efforts to catch and surpass us as the preeminent world power.

Our economy and security are dependant on growth. Every dollar wasted on global warming takes away from the growth of our economy and allows China, and other belligerent conventional competitors, to close the gap. China is delighted to promote the myth that American must stop growing to preserve our environment; not because they care for the environment, but because they see it as an opportunity to catch us on the world stage, while they are exempt from the same restrictions under the Kyoto Accords.

The same can be said for any peer competitor, but more importantly for any asymmetric competitor of ours. How long will it be before we hear Al Qaeda (AQ), or other terrorist groups, chastise the US for environmental reasons, or accuse the US of taking more than our share of the world's resources?

Why would AQ pretend to care for the environment?

AQ and groups like them, indeed all of our enemies, understand that we can't be defeated through military means, but only through manipulation of information in their favor. They seek to influence the American people to turn the people against the policies of the US government, and ultimately against the US government itself with civil strife. The worldwide fanaticism surrounding global warming right now is obvious to our enemies as a source of leverage against us. AQ will use this irrational fear to affect the way the people of the world view the US a country and world leader, but more importantly to influence how our citizens view their own country.

If school teachers in America are able to turn kids against their parents for hurting the environment, then how much easier will it be for clever belligerent countries and terrorist groups to be able to use environmental issues like global warming to manipulate one of the most emotional and divisive issues that confront our country today?

So the next time one hears of one of our enemies chastising the US with regard to global warming, remember that it is not out of a concern for the environment, it is an effort to cripple the US and lessen our influence, and ultimately destroy us. Likewise, the next time you hear one of these retired general preach to us about something military (let alone environmental issues), remember that these are the same men that totally dropped the ball on their watch in the 90s, during the rise of the use of terrorism as a weapon of asymmetric warfare.


Serious Words To Think About

Post lifted from Blue Crab. See the original for links

There is more than enough hyperventilation going on right now about global warming or global climate change or whatever you want to call it. But NPR interviews NASA Administrator Michael Griffin who makes an excellent point that really requires a bit of thought:

"Michael Griffin NASA Administrator has told America's National Public Radio that while he has no doubt a trend of global warming exists "I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with."

In an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep that will air in Thursday's edition of NPR News' Morning Edition, Administrator Griffin explains: "I guess I would ask which human beings - where and when - are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take."

Earth's climate has varied - widely - through the years. Greenland got its name because when it was discovered it was actually green. The original colonists there died off when the climate changed and it got very, very cold. It was not the ice-swept desolation it mostly is today. 10,000 years ago, the glaciers reached well into the heartland of America. 2,000 years ago, North Africa, now desert, was the grain basket for the Roman Empire.

Who is to say this particular climate, at this very moment, is the be-all and end-all of perfection? Al Gore and his sycophants? The UN with its staggering record of incompetence? Really? "I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take".

Earth's climate has varied - widely - through the years. Greenland got its name because when it was discovered it was actually green. The original colonists there died off when the climate changed and it got very, very cold. It was not the ice-swept desolation it mostly is today. 10,000 years ago, the glaciers reached well into the heartland of America. 2,000 years ago, North Africa, now desert, was the grain basket for the Roman Empire.

Who is to say this particular climate, at this very moment, is the be-all and end-all of perfection? Al Gore and his sycophants? The UN with its staggering record of incompetence? Really?

"I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take". Think about that. Seriously.


Westminster City Council is doing its bit to save the planet by installing energy-saving street lamps in every thoroughfare in the borough, the BBC reports. The bold initiative follows a "successful trial" of the 1,000 pounds-a-pop Furyo Lanterns on Harrow Road which saved "on an average day", enough juice to light a house for two days and cut carbon emissions on the test highway by 0.28 tonnes over three weeks.

The bulbs in question apparently "reflect light in a much stronger way meaning low wattage bulbs can be used" and boast "solar microchips" which flick on the switch as required, replacing the traditional timer. Councillor Alan Bradley of Westminster Council trumpeted: "Not only will these lights make a significant difference to the environment, but they save money too. These changes are vital and will help preserve our heritage and the city for everyone to enjoy for generations to come."

So far so good. However, the Beeb says that if Westminster replaces all of its 29,000 street lights, it will save "up to 20,000 pounds every year". Since the cost of the new, whale-hugging illumination is 29 million, it will therefore recoup its outlay in a mere 1,450 years. Westminster council says it has "no fixed timetable for installing the lamps", and given the amortisation period on this particular project, we suggest there's no need to rush.



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

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


Friday, June 01, 2007

More Greenpeace deception

No admission below that global temperatures went both up and down in the 20th century and that the 60s were one of the cold periods. And glacial expansion and contraction is mainly a function of variations in precipitation (rainfall/snowfall), anyway

MOUNT Everest is suffering the effects of climate change with a picture released for the first time showing devastating effects. The image taken last month shows a dramatically different landscape to photos taken in the same spot almost 40 years ago. In a picture taken in 1968, the Middle Rongbu glacier skirts through the mountain valley with the peaks above thickly covered with snow. But almost exactly the same shot taken this year by a Greenpeace team reveals much barer peaks and a scarcely visible glacier.

Greenpeace said the radical changes are due to the effects of climate change. "The degradation of the Everest environment and glacial retreat is, Greenpeace believes, a direct result of climate change," a spokeswoman said.

A team travelled to Everest last month to see the Middle Rongbu glacier and compare its current state to how it was according to photos taken in 1968. The photo had to be taken approximately 1km away from the 1968 viewpoint instead because the glacier has retreated so much in the past 40 years. Greenpeace estimate it has moved back by 2km, raising fears millions will soon be at risk because of the Rongbu glaciers' important role as a water source to China and India's rivers.


Greenies attack bottled water

I think it's a crock myself but only because it is rarely any better than reticulated water. But each to his own

world's fastest-growing beverage is a boon to the industry but a bust for the environment and for the more than 1 billion people worldwide who lack access to clean drinking water, according to a new Vital Signs Update from the Worldwatch Institute.

Excessive withdrawal of natural mineral or spring water to produce bottled water has threatened local streams and groundwater, and the product consumes significant amounts of energy in production and shipping. Millions of tons of oil-derived plastics, mostly polyethylene terephthalate (PET), are used to make the water bottles, most of which are not recycled. Each year, about 2 million tons of PET bottles end up in landfills in the United States; in 2005, the national recycling rate for PET was only 23.1 percent, far below the 39.7 percent rate achieved a decade earlier.

"Bottled water may be an industry winner, but it's an environmental loser," says Ling Li, a fellow with the Institute's China Program who authored the update. "The beverage industry benefits the most from our bottled water obsession. But this does nothing for the staggering number of the world's poor who see safe drinking water as at best a luxury, and at worst, an unattainable goal." An estimated 35-50 percent of urban dwellers in Africa and Asia lack adequate access to safe potable water, according to Worldwatch's State of the World 2007 report.

Consumers in industrial countries choose to drink bottled water for taste and convenience, while in developing countries, unreliable and unsafe municipal water supplies have driven the growth in consumption. Yet many poorer people who seek improved drinking water supplies cannot afford the bottled version. Bottled water can be between 240 and 10,000 times more expensive than tap water; in 2005, sales in the United States alone generated more than $10 billion in revenue.

Global consumption of bottled water more than doubled between 1997 and 2005, securing the product's place as the world's fastest-growing commercial beverage. The United States remains the largest consumer of bottled water, but among the top ten countries, India has nearly tripled its consumption, while China more than doubled its consumption between 2000 and 2005.

In industrial countries with highly regulated water supplies, tap water has been proven to be just as safe, or safer, than its commercial counterpart. In the United States, regulations concerning bottled water are generally the same as for tap water, but are weaker for some microbial contaminants. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates bottled water at the federal level, permits the product to contain certain levels of fecal matter, whereas the Environmental Protection Agency does not allow any human waste in city tap water. Bottled water violations are not always reported to the public, and in most cases the products may be recalled up to 15 months after the problematic water was produced, distributed, and sold.


Greenie dam frenzy ratchets up

Al Gore has been hectoring Americans to pare back their lifestyles to fight global warming. But if Mr. Gore wants us to rethink our priorities in the face of this mother of all environmental threats, surely he has convinced his fellow greens to rethink theirs, right?

Wrong. If their opposition to the Klamath hydroelectric dams in the Pacific Northwest is any indication, the greens, it appears, are just as unwilling to sacrifice their pet causes as a Texas rancher is to sacrifice his pickup truck. If anything, the radicalization of the environmental movement is the bigger obstacle to addressing global warming than the allegedly gluttonous American way of life...

But tearing down the Klamath dams, the last of which was completed in 1962, will do more harm than good at this stage. These dams provide cheap, renewable energy to 70,000 homes in Oregon and California. Replacing this energy with natural gas -- the cleanest fossil-fuel source -- would still pump 473,000 tons of additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. This is roughly equal to the annual emissions of 102,000 cars.

Given this alternative, one would think that environmentalists would form a human shield around the dams to protect them. Instead, they have been fighting tooth-and-nail to tear them down because the dams stand in the way of migrating salmon. Environmentalists don't even let many states, including California, count hydro as renewable.

They have rejected all attempts by PacifiCorp, the company that owns the dams, to take mitigation steps such as installing $350 million fish ladders to create a salmon pathway. Klamath Riverkeeper, a group that is part of an environmental alliance headed by Robert Kennedy Jr., has sued a fish hatchery that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife runs -- and PacifiCorp is required to fund -- on grounds that it releases too many algae and toxic discharges. The hatchery produces at least 25% of the chinook salmon catch every year. Closing it will cause fish populations to drop further, making the demolition of the dams even more likely.

But the end of the Klamath won't mean the end of the dam saga -- it is the big prize that environmentalists are coveting to take their antidam crusade to the next level...

Large hydro dams supply about 20% of California's power (and 10% of America's). If they are destroyed, California won't just have to find some other way to fulfill its energy needs. It will have to do so while reducing its carbon footprint to meet the ambitious CO2 emission-reduction targets that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has set. Mr. Schwarzenegger has committed the Golden State to cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 -- a more stringent requirement than even in the Kyoto Protocol.

The effect this might have on California's erratic and overpriced energy supply has businesses running scared. Mike Naumes, owner of Naumes Inc., a fruit packing and processing business, last year moved his juice concentrate plant from Marysville, Calif., to Washington state and cut his energy bill in half. With hydropower under attack, he is considering shrinking his farming operations in the Golden State as well. "We can't pay exorbitant energy prices and stay competitive with overseas businesses," he says.

Bruce Hamilton, Sierra Club's deputy executive director and a longtime proponent of such a mandate, refuses to even acknowledge that there is any conflict in closing hydro dams while fighting global warming. All California needs to do to square these twin objectives, he maintains, is become more energy efficient while embracing alternative fuels. "We don't need to accept a Faustian bargain with hydropower to cut emissions," he says.

This is easier done in the fantasy world of greens than in the real world. If cost-effective technologies to boost energy efficiency actually existed, industry would adopt them automatically, global warming or not.

As for alternative fuels, they are still far from economically viable. Gilbert Metcalf, an economist at Tufts University, has calculated that wind energy costs 6.64 cents per kWh and biomass 5.95 kWh -- compared to 4.37 cents for clean coal. Robert Bradley Jr., president of the Institute for Energy Research, puts these costs even higher. "Although technological advances have lowered alternative fuel prices in recent years, these fuels still by and large cost twice as much as conventional fossil fuels," he says.

But suppose these differentials disappeared. Would the Sierra Club and its eco-warriors actually embrace the fuels that Mr. Hamilton advocates? Not if their track record is any indication. Indeed, environmental groups have a history of opposing just about every energy source.

Their opposition to nuclear energy is well known. Wind power? Two years ago the Center for Biological Diversity sued California's Altamont Pass Wind Farm for obstructing and shredding migrating birds. ("Cuisinarts of the sky" is what many greens call wind farms.) Solar? Worldwatch Institute's Christopher Flavin has been decidedly lukewarm about solar farms because they involve placing acres of mirrors in pristine desert habitat. The Sierra Club and Wilderness Society once testified before Congress to keep California's Mojave Desert -- one of the prime solar sites in the country -- off limits to all development. Geothermal energy? They are unlikely to get enviro blessings, because some of the best sites are located on protected federal lands.

Greens, it seems, always manage to find a problem for every environmental solution -- and there is deep reason for this... Thus, even in the face of a supposedly calamitous threat like global warming, environmentalists can't bring themselves to embrace any sacrifice -- of salmons or birds or desert or protected wilderness. Its strategy comes down to pure obstructionism -- on full display in the Klamath dam controversy. Yet, if environmentalists themselves are unwilling to give up anything for global warming, how can they expect sacrifices from others? If Al Gore wants to do something, he should first move out of his 6,000 square-foot Nashville mansion and then make a movie titled: "Damn the salmon."


Greenie claims reflect their times

It is strange, at a time when the social construction of science is an established idea (Thomas Kuhn's 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which he describes science's progress through `paradigms', is on every undergraduate's reading list) that nobody thinks to look at the social construction of global warming theories. Global warming science is being produced in highly febrile times; and history tells us that the more the political temperature rises, the more science's view of nature is distorted.

If you look at the dates on the citations in Six Degrees that deal with carbon feedback cycles, global emissions scenarios or the impact of temperature rises on agriculture and ecosystems, then you'll see that the majority of them date from 2004-2006. It was only very recently that scientists started running the models on which Six Degrees is based, predicting the collapse of ecosystems and wild feedback loops that would take us from two degrees to apocalypse. Why was this? If we trace the development of scientific theories about global climate, we can see how they shift in predictable relation to the preoccupations of the time - which suggests that a similar thing could be occurring now.

The assumption for much of the twentieth century was that the climate system was stable, and that it would adjust to absorb imbalances. One past director general of the UK meteorology office stated: `The atmosphere is a robust system with a built-in capacity to counteract any perturbation.' (1) Where opinion differed from this, it did so in highly predictable ways, in direct relationship not to the shiftings of the planet but to the shiftings of the political zeitgeist.

We find that in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, as the world seemed to be poised on a knife's edge and total destruction a possibility, a number of climate scientists - at the same time and independently of each other - discovered instabilities in the climate system. In 1964, one ice expert discovered instability in the Antarctic, which he said `provides the "flip-flop" mechanism to drive the Earth into and out of an ice age' (2). Others came to the same conclusion, and the `flip-flop mechanism' was the subject of scientific meetings and conferences.

In the 1970s, in the context of the global slowdown and the end of the easy years of the postwar boom, climate scientists started to predict that the climate would become harsher in future. One oceanographer predicted that the `amiable climate' we had been used to would give way to a new ice age. A Time magazine article summed up that scientists disagreed over whether there would be `runaway glaciation' or `runaway deglaciation', but what was certain was that `the world's prolonged streak of exceptionally good climate has probably come to an end - meaning that mankind will find it harder to grow food' (3). So a society in the grip of the energy crisis finds that in the future it will be `harder to grow food'.

We can also see political concerns imprinted on scientists' theories of the Earth's past. In the 1980s, scientists formulated the theory that the dinosaurs had been wiped out by the striking of a giant asteroid. One scientist at the time noted that such theories should be measured not just by the facts of nature, but also against the concerns of the age. `[The asteroid theory] commanded belief because it fit with what we are prepared to believe.. Like everyone else...I carry within my consciousness the images of mushroom clouds.. [It] feels right because it fits so neatly into the nightmares that project our own demise.' (4)

Fast forward to the early twenty-first century, when scientists decided that the climate system was fragile and subject to dramatic and irreversible shifts. In 2001, one academy declared: `Geoscientists are just beginning to accept and adapt to the new paradigm of highly variable climate systems.' (5) The phrase everybody started to use was `tipping point', meaning the point where the Earth's system would reach its `limit' and tip over into an irreversible change. (This was particularly the case after the 2004 Hollywood hit, The Day After Tomorrow, which envisaged the onset of a global freeze in a matter of hours.) The question many scientists started asking of nature was `what is its tipping point?'. At what point would the Arctic and Antarctic go into irreversible meltdown? At what point would the carbon cycle go into reverse? At what point would this or that ecosystem collapse? When would extreme weather events start to increase?

Scientists started to carry out impact studies, and they started to look at feedback cycles. These are loaded concepts: impact - showing the damaging effect of temperature rise on ecosystems - and feedback - the inbuilt instabilities that could lead to `runaway' change. Nature was viewed as fragile, interconnected, and liable to spin away dramatically beyond our control. In 2005, one Russian scientist predicted an `ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climactic warming' (6). It is these studies, then, that form the references at the back of Lynas' book, and which provide the basis for his claims of the meltdown that will occur at two degrees.

You don't have to be Thomas Kuhn to read the (mixed) metaphors here. We're hitting the `ecological buffers', says Lynas, `fiddling with the earth's thermostat'. Once feedback starts, `the accelerator will be jammed, and there will be nothing we can do to cut the speed of climate change'. `[N]o one can say for sure where this tipping point might lie, but it stands to reason that the harder we push the climate, the closer we are likely to get to the edge of this particular cliff.' Just as in the 1980s asteroid theories felt `right' because of the images scientists carried in their consciousnesses, so now, too, the political climate colours models of nature. We can see how social anxieties - a fear of change, a sense of the fragility of things - guide the questions that scientists ask, and the kinds of theories that ring true.

That doesn't mean, of course, that these theories are incorrect. Every theory of nature to some extent draws its metaphors from the society of the time. In Darwin's theories of natural selection we see something of the individualistic market society of the nineteenth century, with individual organisms fighting it out and the `fittest' surviving. In the early twentieth century, when political opinion shifted away from competition and towards social reform, biologists started to focus on the cooperative relationships between organisms, founding the science of ecology and posing theories of selection `for the good of the species'. Science must draw its models from society, because after all scientists are human beings not machines; science is a model of nature reconstructed in our heads. This is not a source of inaccuracy, but the essence of intellectual enterprise: nature cannot be accessed `in the raw' but always must be described with words and reconstituted in thought.

As a rule of thumb, the more self-critical the science, and the more it tests itself against reality, the more accurate it will be. If all theories draw their metaphors from society, some do so justifiably - in a way that grasps nature's real operation - and some do in a way that merely distorts and mystifies. So, as it happens, Darwin was right and the `good of the species' theorists were wrong: their theory was based merely on wishful thinking, on how they wanted nature to behave rather than how it really did. The thing that separated Darwin from others was his systematic testing: he spent years closely scrutinising species, measuring his ideas against the evidence before his eyes. Even in his Origin of Species he raised all the facts that did not fit into his theory, and sought to adapt his ideas in order to explain them.

The less self-reflective the science, and the more it is founded on political and moral campaigns, the less reliable it is likely to be. And in Lynas, we see how global warming science has become a foil for a whole series of political and moral agendas, a way of discussing everything from the sins of consumerism to human arrogance. Outlining the effects of a four degrees rise in temperature, Lynas writes: `Poseidon [God of the sea] is angered by arrogant affronts from mere mortals like us. We have woken him from a thousand-year slumber, and this time his wrath will know no bounds.' Not only Poseidon and Gaia but also terms such as `Mother Nature' and `nature's revenge' have slipped into everyday discussion about climate change. Darwin did not, so far as we know, give names of Gods to his finches. When scientific concepts start to be discussed in such emotional terms, it suggests that they say more about wish than reality.

The scope for climatology to slip into fantasy is heightened by the fact that it is a relatively open and uncertain field. Time and again in the twentieth century, climate scientists noted how shaky their art was. It was a case of one man, one model, and everybody thought that theirs was the right one. Today's models include many interacting factors that are incompletely understood, and different models can produce drastically different results. Lynas quotes a couple of studies that found that global warming will lead to increased rainfall in the Sahel, meaning higher crop yields, but another study that found severe drought. (Needless to say, he favours the drought scenario.) When Oxford University's project asked people to download and run climate models on their home computer, each with tiny differences from the next, the results came back between three degrees and 11 degrees warming, for a doubling of atmospheric CO2. Even when scientists' models agree, this could just as much indicate commonly held assumptions - for example, notions of `tipping points' - rather than scientific truth.

That doesn't mean that global warming doesn't exist, but it does mean that many of these predictive models currently being produced are likely to be extremely inaccurate, verging on total fantasy. Any form of science that is morally and politically loaded, and involves putting large numbers of variables into a computer to predict changes for 50 years hence that cannot be tested, is going to be distorted. While the world's climate does appear to have warmed - the earth is on average 0.7 degrees warmer than it was 150 years ago, before large-scale industrialisation - it's a fair leap from 0.7 degrees to apocalypse. As a non-climatologist, it seems logical to me that carbon dioxide emissions will cause global warming in some form - but if global warming meltdown starts in eight years' time, I will eat my copy of Six Degrees, appendices and all. That is a conviction founded not on an analysis of Geophysical Research Letters, but on a consideration of the circumstances in which such science is produced.

Today's preoccupation with fragility and collapse means that models take a one-sided view of nature. Feedback cycles can indeed increase atmospheric carbon dioxide, and some soils do give out methane when they warm. But feedback cycles also work the other way, too, with plants and the sea absorbing some of the extra CO2 we add to the atmosphere (indeed, for much of the 1990s, climate science was preoccupied with the question of `missing' CO2; that is, CO2 added to the atmosphere by industry that appeared to have disappeared). And while ecosystems do sometimes collapse - there have been rapid climate shifts and mass extinctions in the past - they also adapt and change, and new species benefit from the decline of the old (when the Earth was warmer, trees grew in the Antarctic). When there are rapid paradigm shifts of this kind, when scientists one year assume that nature is stable and the next that it is not, this is probably due not to a change in nature but to a change in society.

To recap, it is perhaps political rather than scientific analysis that can help us to understand the bias that underlies today's climate science. The notion of nature as fragile and subject to collapse is a relatively recent one, which is likely to owe more to the anxious zeitgeist than to climate realities. There are two more aspects of Six Degrees that are worth discussing. First, its notion that tackling climate change is an historic challenge; and second, its idea that global warming holds within it moral lessons, for humanity and for individuals. These help to explain why the idea of global warming is now so compelling and has come to dominate public life. For it provides, not just an expression of anxiety, but also a way out of that anxiety: a way of reframing the big issues of historical purpose and personal morality.

When global warming becomes so laden with moral meaning, it becomes difficult to approach it as an environmental problem - to work out to what degree it is a problem, and what would be the most appropriate response.....

When Guy Callender stood up in front of the Royal Society in the 1930s and suggested that the temperature rise of the nineteenth-century was due to burning fossil fuels, he painted a very positive picture. Indeed, in the 1950s the Soviet Union hatched plans to increase warming, by spreading soot on the Siberian snow to absorb heat and even by setting fire to unused coal seams. Other scientists thought that global warming would have a negative effect on human welfare, but this was not a political or moral divide, and they used dry terms such as `inadvertent climate modification'. The questions were: was it happening?; would its effect be good or bad?; what measures should be put in place in response? Guilt didn't come into it.

Here's the rub: when an environmental problem becomes a generational mission, nobody wants very much to solve it. Lynas criticises the notion that `the white knight of technology will come riding to the rescue' - this is in fact `the most pervasive and enduring form of denial'. There is no `miracle energy cure', says Lynas. Indeed, you often hear environmentalists say that the hopes of a `silver bullet' to solve global warming is merely `avoiding' the question. Avoiding how? What they mean is that it is not energy production that must change; it is us. Global warming is not a problem to be solved; it is a lesson to be lived.

We need a new school of thought in the global warming debate, which is founded not on scientific facts but on political critique. It is only this that can explain the way in which the issue is framed, or its hold over social life and public debate. Lynas' books suggest the attraction of the global warming issue has little to do with environmental problems. Instead, global warming appears to provide answers to life's big questions, offering a new kind of historic mission and a new structure for personal morality.

Only global warming doesn't really answer any of these big questions - it shuts them down, solving the problem of meaning by abolishing meaning itself. As we look forward to 2050, we could hope to find some more profound answers to the riddle of existence than that measured in the rise and fall of carbon atoms. We could also hope to find some more sensible (but, possibly, less dramatic) solutions to any environmental challenges we face.

We need to strip drama from climatology, and add drama to our lives. The question of how we live should be subject to mass, passionate debate, and Geophysical Research Letters should be left in the basement of the Radcliffe Science Library for the consultation of specialists.

Much 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 generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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