Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nutty old Lovelock is at it again

Climate war could kill nearly all of us, leaving survivors in the Stone Age, apparently

We need a climate change 'Churchill' to lead us away from planet-wide devastation, writes James Lovelock in the latest edition of Conservation magazine. 'We have enjoyed 12,000 years of climate peace since the last shift from a glacial age to an interglacial one,' says Lovelock.

In a small way, the plight of the British in 1940 resembles the state of the civilized world now. At that time we had had nearly a decade of the well-intentioned but quite wrong belief that peace was all that mattered.

The followers of the peace lobbies of the 1930s resembled the environmentalist movements now; their intentions were more than good but wholly inappropriate for the war that was about to start. It is time to wake up and realize that Gaia, the Earth system, is no cozy mother that nurtures humans and can be propitiated by gestures such as carbon trading or sustainable20development.

Gaia, even though we are a part of her, will always dictate the terms of peace. I am stirred by the thought that Gaia has existed for more than a quarter the age of the universe and that it has taken this long for a species to evolve that can think, communicate, and store its thoughts and experiences.

If we can keep civilization alive through this century perhaps there is a chance that our descendants will one day serve Gaia and assist her in the fine-tuned self-regulation of the climate and composition of our planet.

We have enjoyed 12,000 years of climate peace since the last shift from a glacial age to an interglacial one. Before long, we may face planet-wide devastation worse even than unrestricted nuclear war between superpowers. The climate war could kill nearly all of us and leave the few survivors living a Stone Age existence. But in several places in the world, including the U.K., we have a chance of surviving and even of living well.

For that to be possible, we have to make our lifeboats seaworthy now. Back in May 1940, we in the UK awoke to find facing us across the Channel a wholly hostile continental force about to invade. We were alone without an effective ally but fortunate to have a new leader, Winston Churchill, whose moving words stirred the whole nation from its lethargy: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat."

We all need modern Churchills to lead us from the clinging, flabby, consensual thinking of the late twentieth century and to bind our nations with a single-minded effort to wage a difficult war.


Australia: Warmism now a mass-market fad

PRODUCTS with labels spelling out how much they pollute are set to appear on supermarket shelves next year, giving shoppers yet another way to turn consumerism into social activism. The greenhouse gas emissions associated with the entire production of everyday products will be clearly labelled on them, alongside a pledge by those participating companies to reduce them every two years.

A similar scheme has been operating in Britain for two years with the support of 20 companies, including the retailers Tesco and Boots, and products such as chips, soft drinks, laundry powder and even bank accounts carry the black footprint logo. The scheme's owner, Britain's Carbon Trust, has licensed Planet Ark to roll out the scheme here. Planet Ark's project manager, Diane Mann, said: "We are always talking about empowering the consumer to make a change and this is one way that they can do it … by endorsing a company that has committed to change."

Australian consumers are already voting with their wallet. Sales of products carrying the green frog of the Rainforest Alliance have risen 23 per cent in the past year, and sales of Fairtrade products are set to rise by 80 per cent this year.

In Britain, the Carbon Trust looked at every step of the supply chain of a bag of chips - from growing the potatoes to their transport, manufacture and packaging. It found the majority of emissions came from the farming and transport of potatoes to the factory, leading the company - Walkers, which is part of the PepsiCo empire - to pressure farmers to uses potato varieties that retain less water and are lighter to transport. Walkers reduced its overall emissions by 7 per cent - which amounted to 6g less CO2 a bag - allowing it to keep the footprint logo for another two years.

Ms Mann said she was holding talks with a number of international and local companies to sign up for early next year.

Ben Peacock, the founder of Republic for Everyone, an ad agency that specialises in ethical causes, said: "All the research I'm seeing is showing that green issues are still top of the mind for some consumers even though there's a recession."



The UK's Met Office has had its funding for climate research slashed by a quarter, following withdrawal of financial support by the government's Ministry of Defence (MoD). The loss of £4.3 million (US$7.0 million) in funding from the MoD will affect the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change in Exeter, the world-class climate modelling institute whose researchers made key contributions to the last assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007.

"This news comes as a shock," says climate scientist Martin Parry, formerly at the Met Office and now at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London. "The UK's core modelling work on climate change has been funded from this source, up to now." "Global and regional security will be threatened by climate change, and the MoD is hopelessly wrong to think it is outside its responsibility," adds Parry, who co-chaired the IPCC's working group on climate impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.

In a statement, an MoD spokesperson said that the cuts, which will come into effect immediately, were made with a view to "prioritizing success in current operations, such as Afghanistan".

This will be the first time that Met Office climate research has gone without MoD cash, according to a Met Office spokesman. The office became an executive agency of the ministry in 1990 and a commercialized trading fund in 1996. By 2008, one-sixth of its budget of £176.5 million came from commercial services. But government, and the MoD in particular, has continued to be its main customer and funder.

In 2007, the MoD signed a three-year deal worth £12 million with the Met Office, to part-fund its Integrated Climate Programme (ICP), which makes up the bulk of its climate research. Although the MoD has withdrawn its remaining funding, a Met Office spokesman insisted that the programme is not threatened. The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is committed to providing £4 million per year in funding up until 2011 to ICP, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will provide approximately £10 million in annual funding over the same period.

The Met Office is now in negotiations with these departments, and with the Department for International Development (DfID), in an effort to recoup some of the lost funding. "If they don't recoup it, they are going to be in serious trouble," said Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeller at NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York. "Losing 25% of your funding is a huge deal. Five percent is generally containable, but 25% is not an amount you can hope to absorb easily."...



India fended off pressure at the recently concluded Major Economies Forum to agree to greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments in a declaration being prepared for the G8+5 summit that is to be held in Italy in July. The Major Economies Forum, supported by the US, is a conglomeration of 20 countries, including key emerging economies and industrialised nations. Critics believe it was set up to force a decision at the global climate negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Officials told TOI that at the forum, the US and other developed countries insisted on India and other developing countries to agree to a declaration for the G8 summit that would require GHG reducing commitments from them in the long run. "At the same time, the rich nations stayed ambivalent on what targets they would take in the short to mid-term," an official said.

The rich nations have demanded that growing economies like India and China take on emission cuts in the long run while running shy of either taking deeper short-term targets or discussing technology and funds transfer for adaptation to poorer nations.

The G8+5 declaration, if one is hammered out in time, could become an overarching political statement of the key nations that would force negotiations at the UN meetings in a particular direction. The UN negotiations are seen by developing countries to be far more democratic and where India and China hold the trump card along with the G77 block. The G8 club is perceived by observers to be a forum where pressure on emerging economies can be piled on heavy as it is difficult for them to be seen as "nay-sayers".

There was also limited talk on other issues on the climate table favourable to India - technology and finance.



The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports that Great Lakes water levels are up from this time a year ago. Lakes Michigan and Huron are up 12 inches, Lake Superior 2 inches and Lake Erie 5 inches while Lake Ontario is unchanged. Even Lake St. Clair is up 9 inches. Erie and Ontario (and St. Clair) are between 2 and 6 inches above long-term monthly averages for June. Superior, Michigan and Huron are only 6 to 7 inches below long-term averages for June. While this change in the water levels is pronounced, it is not unusual. The Great Lakes have a history of considerable fluctuation in water levels.

During the last 10 years, water levels in the Great Lakes have been below long-term averages. For 30 years prior to that the levels were above average. In fact, historical water level data indicates there is no normal water level for the Great Lakes. A normal water level and an average water level are not the same thing.

The press has been quick to report on lower-than-average Great Lakes levels over the last decade. Many of the articles quote environmental and other groups predicting the dire consequences of global warming's influence. "Warming saps Great Lakes: Water levels could take big drop as Earth gets hotter" is the headline of an article that appeared April 7, 2007, in The Detroit News. In the article, Scudder Mackey of Canada's University of Windsor predicts that in a worst case scenario, Lake St. Clair's shoreline could recede by as much as 3.5 miles. In the same article George Kling, a University of Michigan ecologist, suggests that within 30 years summers in Michigan are likely to feel more like those in Kentucky today and that by the end of the century, summer weather will resemble Arkansas and northern Mississippi.

Climate change alarmists predicting doomsday scenarios for the Great Lakes are probably not too pleased with the draft report "Impacts on Upper Great Lakes Water Levels: St. Clair River" released May 1, 2009, by the International Joint Commission. The report found that the difference in water levels between Lake Michigan-Huron and Lake Erie of 9 inches between 1962 and 2006 was caused by three factors:

* A change in the conveyance of the St. Clair River, mostly likely caused by a large ice jam that occurred in the mid-1980s;

* Glacial isostatic adjustment (the rebounding of the earth's crust after the melting of the glaciers about 10,000 years ago);

* Changes in climate patterns.

If lower-than-average water levels in the Great Lakes is caused by global warming, then increasing water levels must be caused by global cooling, right? Of course the global cooling connection to Great Lakes water levels is just as spurious as the global warming claims. Maybe it is time to take a pause and understand that as much as we might like to, man does not control nature. At the very least we should not undertake expensive and job-killing policy initiatives such as cap-and-trade of CO2 because of predictions regarding the Great Lakes, which are proving to be wrong.


Composting is bad for your health

Giant compost heaps used to recycle garden waste and leftover food could be harming the health of those living nearby, experts have warned. Researchers fear the industrial-scale sites increase rates of asthma, respiratory infections and skin complaints among locals unless they are correctly regulated.

There are already nearly a hundred commercial composting facilities in the UK, handling more than 1.7million tons of waste per year. The number is expected to double as councils scramble to meet Government targets for recycling organic household waste.

But critics warn that the sites lead to increased numbers of rats and flies which help to spread disease. Compost also contains bacteria, spores and fungi that can become airborne in emissions known as bioaerosols, which are potentially harmful to humans. A Government-backed study by the Environment Agency and Cranfield University has already found that among 44 sites examined, only eight had produced adequate risk assessments on protecting the surrounding area from bioaerosols.

Studies on workers at composting sites have also shown that there is a risk of respiratory infections from organisms that thrive in decaying organic matter and diseases such as farmer's lung, a common cause of breathing difficulties among farm workers. Peter Sykes, head of the centre for public protection at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff, said: 'There is certainly an occupational risk to people working in compost sites, but the risk to residents living nearby is less well known. 'It depends on how the waste is being turned, the weather and the landscape itself.'

A survey of 132 residents living near a composting facility in Coven, Wolverhampton, carried out for Ken Purchase, MP for Wolverhampton North East, found that 66 felt the health of someone in their family had been harmed by the facility. Mr Purchase said: 'What is clear is that the nuisance is persistent and that the smell alone prevents residents enjoying the pleasure of their gardens and, in some cases, means doors and windows have to remain shut even on good summer days.'

It usually takes three months for organic waste to turn into usable compost, during which time temperatures inside the compost heaps can hit nearly 150F (65C).

In most sites waste is piled up in the open and regularly turned over by heavy machinery, which aids composition but spreads dust.

The Environment Agency is now producing new guidance for composting sites on how to reduce their emissions.

The UK produces more than 100million tons of food and other organic waste each year but currently just 2.8million tons are sent for composting.

Trelawney Dampney, managing director of Dorset-based Eco Sustainable Solutions and a director at the Association for Organics Recycling, said the industry was aware of the concerns and followed Environment Agency guidance to try to avoid any risk to the public. He said: 'The Environment Agency advises that all sites should be more than 250 yards from residential dwellings because within 250 yards the exposure to bioaerosols could be reasonably high, especially if they are down wind.'



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


Monday, June 29, 2009

Some remnant of sense

Obama opposes global warming tariffs

BARACK Obama has expressed opposition to a provision that would impose trade penalties on countries that did not accept limits on global warming pollution. Obama has told a small group of reporters at the White House that, at a time when the global economy is still deep in recession, he thought "we have to be very careful about sending any protectionist signals out there", The New York Times reported. "I think there may be other ways of doing it than with a tariff approach," the president was quoted by the paper as saying.

On Friday. the US House of Representatives narrowly passed legislation to limit pollution blamed for global warming, handing Obama a hard-fought major victory. By a 219-212 margin, lawmakers voted for the first time in US history to limit heat-trapping carbon emissions and shift the US economy to cleaner energy in a move backers said will create jobs and restore Washington's shaky leadership on climate change ahead of global talks set for December. The Senate is still to vote on the measure.

Obama, hoping to build momentum in the Senate after the narrow victory in the House, delayed the start of a Sunday golf game to speak to a small group of reporters in the Oval Office, The Times said. He acknowledged that the initial targets for reducing emissions of heat-trapping gases set by the House bill were quite modest and would probably not satisfy the governments of other countries or many environmental groups, the report said.

But he said he hoped to build on those early targets in fashioning a more robust program in the future as part of his administration's efforts to move the nation from an economy based on fossil fuels toward one built on renewable energy sources.


Polar bear expert barred from conference by Warmists

No dissent from the Warmist Gospel allowed: Mitchell Taylor, who has studied the bears for 30 years, was told his views 'are extremely unhelpful’

Over the coming days a curiously revealing event will be taking place in Copenhagen. Top of the agenda at a meeting of the Polar Bear Specialist Group (set up under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature/Species Survival Commission) will be the need to produce a suitably scary report on how polar bears are being threatened with extinction by man-made global warming.

This is one of a steady drizzle of events planned to stoke up alarm in the run-up to the UN's major conference on climate change in Copenhagen next December. But one of the world's leading experts on polar bears has been told to stay away from this week's meeting, specifically because his views on global warming do not accord with those of the rest of the group.

Dr Mitchell Taylor has been researching the status and management of polar bears in Canada and around the Arctic Circle for 30 years, as both an academic and a government employee. More than once since 2006 he has made headlines by insisting that polar bear numbers, far from decreasing, are much higher than they were 30 years ago. Of the 19 different bear populations, almost all are increasing or at optimum levels, only two have for local reasons modestly declined.

Dr Taylor agrees that the Arctic has been warming over the last 30 years. But he ascribes this not to rising levels of CO2 – as is dictated by the computer models of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and believed by his PBSG colleagues – but to currents bringing warm water into the Arctic from the Pacific and the effect of winds blowing in from the Bering Sea.

He has also observed, however, how the melting of Arctic ice, supposedly threatening the survival of the bears, has rocketed to the top of the warmists' agenda as their most iconic single cause. The famous photograph of two bears standing forlornly on a melting iceberg was produced thousands of times by Al Gore, the WWF and others as an emblem of how the bears faced extinction – until last year the photographer, Amanda Byrd, revealed that the bears, just off the Alaska coast, were in no danger. Her picture had nothing to do with global warming and was only taken because the wind-sculpted ice they were standing on made such a striking image.

Dr Taylor had obtained funding to attend this week's meeting of the PBSG, but this was voted down by its members because of his views on global warming. The chairman, Dr Andy Derocher, a former university pupil of Dr Taylor's, frankly explained in an email (which I was not sent by Dr Taylor) that his rejection had nothing to do with his undoubted expertise on polar bears: "it was the position you've taken on global warming that brought opposition".

Dr Taylor was told that his views running "counter to human-induced climate change are extremely unhelpful". His signing of the Manhattan Declaration – a statement by 500 scientists that the causes of climate change are not CO2 but natural, such as changes in the radiation of the sun and ocean currents – was "inconsistent with the position taken by the PBSG".

So, as the great Copenhagen bandwagon rolls on, stand by this week for reports along the lines of "scientists say polar bears are threatened with extinction by vanishing Arctic ice". But also check out Anthony Watt's Watts Up With That website for the latest news of what is actually happening in the Arctic. The average temperature at midsummer is still below zero, the latest date that this has happened in 50 years of record-keeping. After last year's recovery from its September 2007 low, this year's ice melt is likely to be substantially less than for some time. The bears are doing fine.


Energy Myths and Realities

Talk to graduands by by Keith O. Rattie, CEO of Questar, a Utah gas company

Good morning, everyone. I’m honored to join you today.

My perspective on global warming changed when I began to understand the limitations of the computer models that scientists have built to predict future warming. If the only variable driving the earth’s climate were manmade CO2 then there’d be no debate – global average temperatures would increase by a harmless one degree over the next 100 years. But the earth’s climate is what engineers call a “non-linear, dynamic system”. The models have dozens of inputs. Many are little more than the opinion of the scientist – in some cases, just a guess. The sun, for example, is by far the biggest driver of the earth’s climate. But the intensity of solar radiation from the sun varies over time in ways that can’t be accurately modeled. Another example, water vapor is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. [The media now calls CO2 a "pollutant". If CO2 is a "pollutant" then water vapor is also a "pollutant" – that's absurd, but I digress]. Some scientists believe clouds amplify human CO2 forcing, others believe precipitation acts as the earth’s thermostat. But scientists do not agree on how to model clouds, precipitation, and evaporation, thus there’s no consensus on this fundamental issue.

But the reality for American consumers is that whether you buy that the science is settled or not, the political science is settled. With the media cheering them on, Congress has promised to “do something”. CO2 regulation is coming, whether it will do any good or not. Indeed, President Obama’s hope of shrinking the now the massive federal budget deficit depends on vast new revenues from a tax on carbon energy – so called “cap and trade”. Harry Reid has promised cap and trade legislation by August.

Under cap-and-trade, the government would try to create a market for CO2 by selling credits to companies that emit CO2. They would set a cap for the maximum amount of CO2 emissions. Over time, the cap would ratchet down. In theory, this will force companies to invest in lower-carbon technologies, thus reducing emissions to avoid the cost of buying credits from other companies that have already met their emissions goals. The costs of the credits would be passed on to consumers. Because virtually everything we do and consume in modern life has a carbon footprint the cost of just about everything will go up. This in theory will cause each of us to choose products that have a lower carbon footprint. Any way you slice it, cap and trade is a tax on the way we live our lives – one designed to produce a windfall for government.

The long term goal with cap and trade is ‘80 by 50′– an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050. Let’s do the easy math on what ‘80 by 50′ means to you, using Utah as an example. Utah’s carbon footprint today is about 66 MM tons of CO2 per year. Utah’s population today is 2.6 MM. You divide those two numbers, and the average Utahan today has a carbon footprint of about 25 tons of CO2 per year. An 80% reduction in Utah’s carbon footprint by 2050 implies a reduction from 66 MM tons today to about 13 MM tons per year by 2050. But Utah’s population is growing at over 2% per year, so by 2050 there will be about 6 MM people living in this state. 13 MM tons divided by 6 MM people = 2.2 tons per person per year. Under ‘80 by 50′ by the time you folks reach my age you’ll have to live your lives with an annual carbon allowance of no more than 2.2 tons of CO2 per year.

Question: when was the last time Utah’s carbon footprint was as low as 2.2 tons per person per year? Answer: probably not since Brigham Young and the Mormon pioneers first entered the Salt Lake Valley (1847). You reach a similar conclusion when you do the math on ‘80 by 50′ for the entire U.S. ‘80 by 50′ would require a reduction in America’s CO2 emissions from about 20 tons per person per year today, to about 2 tons per person per year in 2050. When was the last time America’s carbon footprint was as low as 2 tons per person per year? Probably not since the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620.

In short, ‘80 by 50′ means that by the time you folks reach my age, you won’t be allowed to use anything made with – or made possible by – fossil fuels.

So I want to focus you on this critical question: “How on God’s green earth – pun intended – are you going to do what my generation said we’d do but didn’t – and that’s wean yourselves from fossil fuels in just four decades?” that’s a question that each of you, and indeed, all Americans need to ask now – because when it comes to “how” there clearly is no consensus. Simply put, with today’s energy technologies, we can’t get there from here.

The hallmark of this dilemma is our inability to reconcile our prosperity and our way of life with our environmental ideals. We like our cars. We like our freedom to “move about the country” – drive to work, fly to conferences, visit distant friends and family. We aspire to own the biggest house we can afford. We like to keep our homes and offices warm in the winter, cool in the summer. We like devices that use electricity – computers, flat screen TVs, cell phones, the Internet, and many other conveniences of modern life that come with a power cord. We like food that’s low cost, high quality, and free of bugs – which means farmers must use fertilizers and pesticides made from fossil fuels. We like things made of plastic and clothes made with synthetic fibers – and all of these things depend on abundant, affordable, growing supplies of energy.

And guess what? We share this planet with 6.2 billion other people who all want the same things.

America’s energy use has been growing at 1-2% per year, driven by population growth and prosperity. But while our way of life depends on ever-increasing amounts of energy, we’re downright schizophrenic when it comes to the things that energy companies must do to deliver the energy that makes modern life possible.

We want energy security – we don’t like being dependent on foreign oil. But we also don’t like drilling in the U.S. Millions of acres of prospective onshore public lands here in the Rockies plus the entire east and west coast of the U.S. are off-limits to drilling for a variety of reasons. We hate paying $2 per gallon for gasoline – but not as much as we hate the refineries that turn unusable crude oil into gasoline. We haven’t allowed anyone to build a new refinery in the U.S. in over 30 years. We expect the lights to come on when we flip the switch, but we don’t like coal, the source of 40% of our electricity – it’s dirty and mining scars the earth. We also don’t like nuclear power, the source of nearly 20% of our electricity – it’s clean, France likes it, but we’re afraid of it. Hydropower is clean and renewable. But it too has been blacklisted – dams hurt fish.

We don’t want pollution of any kind, in any amount, but we also don’t want to be asked: “how much are we willing to pay for environmental perfection?” When it comes to global warming, Time magazine tells us to “be worried, be very worried” – and we say we are – but we don’t act that way. Let me suggest that our conversation about how to reduce CO2 emissions must begin with a few “inconvenient” realities.

Reality 1: Worldwide demand for energy will grow by 30-50% over the next two decades – and more than double by the time you’re my age. Simply put, America and the rest of the world will need all the energy that markets can deliver.

Reality 2: There are no near-term alternatives to oil, natural gas, and coal. Like it or not, the world runs on fossil fuels, and it will for decades to come. The U.S. government’s own forecast shows that fossil fuels will supply about 85% of world energy demand in 2030 – roughly the same as today. Yes, someday the world may run on alternatives. But that day is still a long way off. It’s not about will. It’s not about who’s in the White House. It’s about thermodynamics and economics.

Now, I was told back in the 1970s what you’re being told today: that wind and solar power are ‘alternatives’ to fossil fuels. A more honest description would be ’supplements’. Taken together, wind and solar power today account for just one-sixth of 1% of America’s annual energy usage. Let me repeat that statistic – one-sixth of 1%.

Undaunted by this, President Obama proposes to double wind and solar power consumption in this country by the end of his first term. Great – that means the line on this pie chart would become a slightly thicker line in four years. I would point out that wind and solar power doubled in just the last three years of the Bush administration. Granted, W. started from a smaller baseline, so doubling again over the next four years will be a taller order. But if President Obama’s goal is achieved, wind and solar together will grow from one-sixth of 1% to one-third of 1% of total primary energy use – and that assumes U.S. energy consumption remains flat, which of course it will not.

The problems with wind and solar power become apparent when you look at their footprint. To generate electricity comparable to a 1,000 MW gas-fired power plant you’d have to build a wind farm with at least 500 very tall windmills occupying more than 30,000 acres of land. Then there’s solar power. I’m holding a Denver Post article that tells the story of an 8.2 MW solar-power plant built on 82 acres in Colorado. The Post proudly hails it “America’s most productive utility-scale solar electricity plant”. But when you account for the fact that the sun doesn’t always shine, you’d need over 250 of these plants, on over 20,000 acres to replace just one 1,000 MW gas-fired power plant that can be built on less than 40 acres.

The Salt Lake Tribune recently celebrated the startup of a 14 MW geothermal plant near Beaver, Utah. that’s wonderful! But the Tribune failed to put 14 MW into perspective. Utah has over 7,000 MW of installed generating capacity, primarily coal. America has about 1,000,000 MW of installed capacity. Because U.S. demand for electricity has been growing at 1-2 % per year, on average we’ve been adding 10-20,000 MW of new capacity every year to keep pace with growth. Around the world coal demand is booming – 200,000 MW of new coal capacity is under construction, over 30,000 MW in China alone. In fact, there are 30 coal plants under construction in the U.S. today that when complete will burn about 70 million tons of coal per year.

Why has my generation failed to develop wind and solar? Because our energy choices are ruthlessly ruled, not by political judgments, but by the immutable laws of thermodynamics. In engineer-speak, turning diffused sources of energy such as photons in sunlight or the kinetic energy in wind requires massive investment to concentrate that energy into a form that’s usable on any meaningful scale. What’s more, the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine. Unless or until there’s a major breakthrough in high-density electricity storage – a problem that has confounded scientists for more than 100 years – wind and solar can never be relied upon to provide base load power.

But it’s not just thermodynamics. It’s economics. Over the past 150 years America has invested trillions of dollars in our existing energy systems – power plants, the grid, steam and gas turbines, railroads, pipelines, distribution, refineries, service stations, home heating, boilers, cars, trucks and planes, etc. Changing that infrastructure to a system based on renewable energy will take decades and massive new investment.

To be clear, we need all the wind and solar power the markets can deliver at prices we can afford. But please, let’s get real – wind and solar are not “alternatives” to fossil fuels.

Reality 3: You can argue about whether global warming is a serious problem or not, but there’s no argument about the consequences of cap and trade regulation – it’s going to drive the cost of energy painfully higher. that’s the whole point of cap and trade – to drive up the cost of fossil energy so that otherwise uneconomic “alternatives” can compete. Some put the total cost of cap and trade to U.S. consumers at $2 trillion over the next decade and $6 trillion between now and 2050 – not to mention the net loss of jobs in energy-intensive industries that must compete in global markets.

Given this staggering cost, I hope you’ll ask: will cap and trade work? If Europe’s experience with cap and trade is an indication, the answer is “no”.

With much fanfare, the European Union (EU) adopted a cap and trade scheme in an effort to meet their Kyoto commitments to cut CO2 emissions to below 1990 levels by 2012. How are they doing? So far, all but one EU country is getting an “F”. Since 2000 Europe’s CO2 emissions per unit of GDP have grown faster than the U.S.! The U.S. of course did not implement Kyoto – nor did over 150 other countries. There’s a good reason why most of the world rejected Kyoto: with today’s energy technologies there’s no way to sever the link between CO2 emissions and modern life. Europe’s cap and trade scheme was designed to fail – and it’s working as designed....

Reality 4: Even if America does cut CO2 emissions, those same computer models that predict manmade warming over the next century also predict that Kyoto-type CO2 cuts would have no discernible impact on global temperatures for decades, if ever. When was the last time you read that in the paper? We’ve been told that Kyoto was “just a first step.” Your generation may want to ask: “what’s the second step?”

That begs another question: “how much are Americans willing to pay for ‘a first step’ that has no discernible effect on global climate?” The answer here in Utah is: not much, according to a poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates published in the Deseret News. 63% of those surveyed said they worry about global warming. But when asked how much they’d be willing to see their electricity bills go up to help cut CO2 emissions, only half were willing to pay more for electricity. Only 18% were willing to see their power bill go up by 10% or more. Only 3% were willing to see their power bill go up by 20%.....

Let me close by returning to the lessons my generation learned from the 1970s energy crisis. We learned that energy choices favored by politicians but not confirmed by markets are destined to fail. If history has taught us anything it’s that we should resist the temptation to ask politicians to substitute their judgments for that of the market, and let markets determine how much energy gets used, what types of energy get used, where, how and by whom energy gets used. In truth, no source of energy is perfect, thus only markets can weigh the pros and cons of each source. Government’s role is to set reasonable standards for environmental performance, and make sure markets work.

I’ve covered a lot of ground this morning. I hope I’ve challenged your thinking about your energy future. Mostly, I hope you continue to enjoy freedom, prosperity – and abundant supplies of energy at prices you can afford!


The Gauleiter complex in Britain

(Gauleiters were local Nazi officials. Post from Prof. Brignell)

In these pages we have frequently remarked that the British experience should be taken as a warning of what could happen in the USA . Nevertheless, Americans have gone ahead with their own experiment in authoritarian socialism. Typical of the phenomenon is hurriedly and ill drafted legislation that puts power into the hands of minor and unelected officials. It is an unfortunate characteristic of some people that such power goes to their heads, and many of those in positions that once were intended to represent servants of the people now come to regard themselves as the masters. In Britain much of the primary legislation comes directly from Brussels in the form of “Directives”, which are diktats, emerging from a secretive bureaucracy, that have never been properly debated or received the benefit of expert advice.

American politicians now have their own version of this process, as exemplified by the bizarre goings-on that led to the House of Representatives passing a weirdly inapposite Climate Change Bill. The cost of the Global Warming Myth, already staggering, is about to increase by orders of magnitude, tantamount to economic suicide.

One of the many dubious claims of the proponents is that it will create Green Jobs. This is a dysphemism for a new class of people living off the taxpayer. A major sub-class is The Snoopers. We had them in the UK during the post-war Labour Government. They were tasked with such duties as preventing private enterprise. It was largely Winston Churchill’s successful campaign against The Snoopers that brought that spendthrift Government to an end. Nowadays opposition leaders are considerably less effective.

Now The Snoopers are back. They pry into our garbage bins, secretly film us and employ covert agents to follow us (justified by legislation originally promoted as being anti-terrorist). One couple were subjected to a prolonged stake-out to check that they were living where they claimed to be and not evading the equality rules in the educational lottery. A teenager was prosecuted for allowing a toddler to discard a sweet wrapper. Fortunately, our judges still have enough power to treat such cases with the derision they deserve. What is not disclosed is how much this snooping impoverishes the taxpayer, but it is not difficult to imagine the cost of several weeks of secret surveillance. Also typical is the fact that the actions in question were not even offences until the advent of New Labour Government. It is not only a crime to want to select a school for your child (unless you are rich), there are now so many new offences that no one, even the lawyers, knows what is legal or illegal. There are literally thousands of new crimes (including the Orwellian sounding enviro-crimes). When the Government is enacting seven new laws every day, without a semblance of proper debate, ordinary people are exposed to legal hazards of which they are completely unaware.

These are the conditions under which the Gauleiters thrive. Every citizen is threatened with the circumstances of Kafka’s Joseph K, arraigned for crimes and misdemeanours unknown, and helpless in the face of an all powerful officialdom. Furthermore, ordinary people are now encouraged to become informers. Records show that 28 Gestapo were able to rule a million people by the use of informers. Many people were wrongly arrested owing to accusations motivated by malice or revenge. When journalists enquire about cases like those mentioned above, the response always comes from someone called “A Spokesman”, anonymous and unelected. There is no comeback if they get it wrong. The ultimate insult is that the poor chumps they pick on have been forced to contribute to the inflated salaries these officials command. One of the greatest financial burdens carried by the poorer elements of society, such as pensioners, is the dramatic inflation of local taxes.

Look on this America. It is your future.


Pesky! Old light bulbs can be more efficient than the twisty monstrosities

Just as authorities in much of the Western world have moved to phase out the incandescent lightbulb, American boffins believe they have developed a process which can make the oldschool lights more efficient than energy-saving lamps. Optics boffins at the Rochester Uni in New York state say they've developed a process in which an ordinary lighbulb is zapped with a femtosecond-long pulse of extremely high-energy laser light. The laser blast travels through the glass to hit the tungsten filament, causing complex nano- and micro-structures to form on its surface.

Once the lasered light bulb is than powered up, according to the Rochester scientists, it emits a lot more light for the same energy compared to an untreated bulb - equivalent to 40 per cent energy savings. The process of lasing incandescent bulbs wouldn't be expensive, apparently, so they'd remain cheap compared to fluorescent energy-saving jobs. According to Rochester Uni:

"The process could make a light as bright as a 100-watt bulb consume less electricity than a 60-watt bulb while remaining far cheaper and radiating a more pleasant light than a fluorescent bulb. Despite the incredible intensity involved, the femtosecond laser can be powered by a simple wall outlet, meaning that when the process is refined, implementing it to augment regular light bulbs should be relatively simple."

It seems that Professor Chunlei Guo of Rochester hit upon the idea of brightening-up lightbulb filaments following earlier experiments in which he and his team used laser zapping to turn metals completely black. This worked so well that Guo and his cohorts wondered if they could reverse the process. "We fired the laser beam right through the glass of the bulb and altered a small area on the filament," says the prof. "When we lit the bulb, we could actually see this one patch was clearly brighter than the rest of the filament, but there was no change in the bulb's energy usage."

It seems that Guo and his team of lightbulb-blasting boffins can also produce other strange effects, getting incandescent bulbs to emit partially polarised or differently-coloured light - without the energy-wasting filters that would normally be necessary.

It's the efficiency-enhancement aspect of the studies which could make headlines, however. Both the US and European Union governments are now committed to firm timetables which will see incandescent bulbs phased out in favour of more energy-efficient alternatives, such as fluorescents. This is being done in order to save energy and so lower carbon emissions. But if it's as simple as Guo suggests to enhance an incandescent with his laser process, this may turn out to have been an unnecessary or even retrograde step.

Guo's research has been accepted for publication by the journal Applied Physics Letters, but isn't out yet. In the meantime, there's a pop-sci release from the university here.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Bye, Bye Jobs! U.S. oil companies may cope with climate laws by 'closing fuel plants, cutting capital spending and increasing imports'

America’s biggest oil companies will probably cope with U.S. carbon legislation by closing fuel plants, cutting capital spending and increasing imports. Under the Waxman-Markey climate bill that may be voted on today by the U.S. House, refiners would have to buy allowances for carbon dioxide spewed from their plants and from vehicles when motorists burn their fuel. Imports would need permits only for the latter, which ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Officer Jim Mulva said would create a competitive imbalance.

“It will lead to the opportunity for foreign sources to bring in transportation fuels at a lower cost, which will have an adverse impact to our industry, potential shutdown of refineries and investment and, ultimately, employment,” Mulva said in a June 16 interview in Detroit. Houston-based ConocoPhillips has the second-largest U.S. refining capacity.

The same amount of gasoline that would have $1 in carbon costs imposed if it were domestic would have 10 cents less added if it were imported, according to energy consulting firm Wood Mackenzie in Houston. Contrary to President Barack Obama’s goal of reducing dependence on overseas energy suppliers, the bill would incent U.S. refiners to import more fuel, said Clayton Mahaffey, an analyst at RedChip Cos. in Maitland, Florida. “They’ll be searching the globe for refined products that don’t carry the same level of carbon costs,” said Mahaffey, a former Exxon Corp. refinery manager.

The equivalent of one in six U.S. refineries probably would close by 2020 as the cost of carbon allowances erases profits, according to the American Petroleum Institute, a Washington trade group known as API. Carbon permits would add 77 cents a gallon to the price of gasoline, said Russell Jones, the API’s senior economic adviser. “Because it’s going to be more expensive to produce the stuff, refiners will slow down production and cut back on inventories to squeeze every penny of profit they can from the system,” said Geoffrey Styles, founder of GSW Strategy Group LLC in Vienna, Virginia. “We will end up with less domestic product on the market and a greater reliance on imports, all of which means higher, more volatile prices.”

U.S. motorists, already facing the steepest jump in gasoline prices in 18 years, would bear the brunt as refiners pass on added costs, Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson told reporters after a May 27 meeting in Dallas.

“U.S. refineries get 2 percent of allowances to cover any increases in costs they may incur,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi. Drivers, airlines and trucking companies would pay an additional $178 billion annually, or about $560 for each man, woman and child in the U.S., according to the API, whose 400 members include Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil and the U.S. unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company.

“That kind of price impact would significantly hurt the competitiveness of U.S. refiners versus importers,” said Glenn McGinnis, chief executive officer at Arizona Clean Fuels Yuma, a Phoenix-based company that’s attempting to build the nation’s first new refinery in three decades.

Such estimates and talk of rising imports are scare tactics that oil companies are using to wheedle concessions from lawmakers, said John Coequyt, the Sierra Club’s chief lobbyist in Washington. Refiners are trying to gain relief on carbon-permit costs that’s meant for manufacturers such as steelmakers that are threatened by foreign competition, he said. “It’s definitely saber rattling, and it’s a hell of a threat,” Coequyt said. “The strategic value of this is pretty obvious. They want to qualify for rebates under the competitiveness test, which of course they do not.”

GSW’s Styles, a former Texaco Inc. refinery and trading manager, said the risks are real. Plants unable to turn a profit under the new rules would be closed, he said.

The permit-cost imbalance would open the door for overseas refiners, such as India’s Reliance Industries Ltd., owner of the world’s largest crude-processing complex, to ship more fuel to U.S. oil companies, said Bill Holbrook, spokesman for the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association in Washington. "It’s going to give domestic refiners a distinct disadvantage,” said Holbrook, whose trade group represents such fuel makers as Chevron Corp. and Valero Energy Corp.

Companies such as San Antonio-based Valero, the biggest U.S. refiner, will respond by stepping up efforts to acquire overseas plants that can ship fuel to their home market, said Brian Youngberg, an analyst at Edward Jones & Co. in Des Peres, Missouri. Valero said last week that it will continue to seek acquisition opportunities after Total SA bought the stake it had agreed to purchase in a Netherlands refining venture.

About 2 million barrels of daily U.S. refining capacity will shut down because carbon costs will be several times the operating profits for some plants, Ihne said. That’s equivalent to 12 percent of the nation’s fuel-making capacity. Jones, the API economist, said there could be as much as 3 million barrels of idled processing capacity.



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


Sunday, June 28, 2009


A suppressed EPA study says old U.N. data ignore the decline in global temperatures and other inconvenient truths. Was the report kept under wraps to influence the vote on the cap-and-trade bill?

This was supposed to be the most transparent administration ever. Yet as the House of Representatives prepared to vote on the Waxman-Markey bill, the largest tax increase in U.S. history on 100% of Americans, an attempt was made to suppress a study shredding supporters' arguments.

On Friday, the day of the vote, the Competitive Enterprise Institute said it was releasing "an internal study on climate science which was suppressed by the Environmental Protection Agency."

In the release, the institute's Richard Morrison said "internal EPA e-mail messages, released by CEI earlier in the week, indicate that the report was kept under wraps and its author silenced because of pressure to support the administration's agenda of regulating carbon dioxide."

Reading the report, available on the CEI Web site, we find this "endangerment analysis" contains such interesting items as: "Given the downward trend in temperatures since 1998 (which some think will continue until at least 2030), there is no particular reason to rush into decisions based on a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain most of the available data."

What the report says is that the EPA, by adopting the United Nations' 2007 "Fourth Assessment" report, is relying on outdated research by its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The research, it says, is "at best three years out of date in a rapidly changing field" and ignores the latest scientific findings.

Besides noting the decline in temperatures as CO2 levels have increased, the draft report says the "consensus" on storm frequency and intensity is now "much more neutral."

Then there's one of Al Gore's grim fairy tales — the melting of the Greenland ice sheet and glaciers the size of Tennessee roaming the North Atlantic. "The idea that warming temperatures will cause Greenland to rapidly shed its ice has been greatly diminished by new results indicating little evidence for operations of such processes," the report says.

Little evidence? Outdated U.N. research? No reason to rush? This is not what the Obama administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were telling us when they were rushing to force a Friday vote on Waxman-Markey. We were given the impression that unless we passed this cap-and-tax fiasco, polar bears would be extinct by the Fourth of July.

We have noted frequently the significance of solar activity on earth's climate and history. This EPA draft report not only confirms our reporting but the brazen incompetence of those "experts" that have been prophesying planetary apocalypse.

"A new 2009 paper by Scafetta and West," the report says, "suggests that the IPCC used faulty solar data in dismissing the direct effect of solar variability on global temperatures. Their report suggests that solar variability could account for up to 68% of the increase in Earth's global temperatures."

The report was the product of Alan Carlin, senior operations research analyst at the EPA's National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE). He's been with the EPA for 38 years but now has been taken off all climate-related work. He is convinced that actual climate observations do not match climate change theories and that only the politics, not the science, has been settled.

Thomas Fuller, environmental policy blogger with the San Francisco Examiner, wrote Thursday in a story developed in conjunction with Anthony Watts' Web site wattsupwiththat.com: "A source inside the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed many of the claims made by analyst Alan Carlin, the economist/physicist who yesterday went public with accusations that science was being ignored in evaluating the danger of CO2."

All this is particularly interesting because of the charges by Al Gore, NASA's James Hansen and others that the Bush administration and energy companies actively suppressed the truth about climate change.

One of the e-mails unearthed by CEI was dated March 12, from Al McGartland, office director at NCEE, forbidding Carlin from speaking to anyone outside NCEE on endangerment issues such as those in his suppressed report.

Carlin replied on March 16, requesting that his study be forwarded to EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, which directs EPA's climate change program. Carlin points out the peer-reviewed references in his study and points out that the new studies "explain much of the observational data that have been collected which cannot be explained by the IPCC models."

For saying the climate change emperors had no clothes, Carlin was told March 17: "The administrator and the administration have decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision. . . . I can only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office."

In other words, the administration and Congress had their collective minds made up and didn't want to be confused with the facts. They certainly didn't want any inconvenient truths coming out of their own Environmental Protection Agency, the one that wants to regulate everything from your lawn mower to bovine emissions and which says the product of your respiration and ours, carbon dioxide, is a dangerous pollutant and not the basis for all life on earth.

The problem the warm-mongers have is they now are in a position of telling the American people, who are you going to believe — us or your own lying eyes? Forget the snow in Malibu, the record cold winters. Forget that temperatures have dropped for a decade.

In April, President Obama declared that "the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over." Apparently not, for as he spoke those very words his administration was suppressing science to advance a very pernicious ideology.


Monckton summarizes the skeptical case

The warming effect of greenhouse gases is less than one-tenth the UN's central estimate.

Spencer et al. (2008, cloud albedo); Douglass (2008, tropical mid-troposphere temperature change); Lindzen & Choi (2009 in press, outgoing long-wave radiation); and Armstrong, Green & Soon (2009 in press, zero-change benchmarking of climate forecasts) empirically confirm theoretical demonstrations (Schwartz, 2007; Monckton, 2008; Monckton & Evans, 2009 in draft) that climate sensitivity - the warming effect of all greenhouse gases, not just of CO2 - is less than one-fourth of the UN's current central estimate. A CO2 doubling would cause just 1.5 Fø warming, not the 5.9 Fø imagined by the UN.

`Global warming' is nothing new.

It was 10 Fø warmer than today in each of the past four interglacial periods; 2-3 Fø warmer for most of the past 10,000 years; warmer in the Minoan, medieval, and Roman warm periods. The rate of warming is nothing new either: the warming rate equivalent to 2.9 Fø/century from 1975-1998, when humankind might have had a small influence, was exactly the same as the warming rates from 1860-1880 and from 1910-1940 (House of Lords Written Answer, 2009).

There has been no statistically-significant `global warming' for almost 15 years.

In fact, for almost eight years, on all measures, there has been global cooling at 3.4 Fø/century. Oceans have also been cooling ever since 3300 automated bathythermographs were deployed in 2005. The ocean cooling definitively proves the UN wrong about "global warming": if there were any, 80% of it would have to show up in the top 400 fathoms of the world's oceans, but it is not happening. It follows that all recent reports that "global warming" has caused adverse weather events must be incorrect, because there has not been any. The UN's central estimate, on its "business-as-usual" scenario, is for 6 Fø warming in the 21st century, but in the 30 years since accurate satellite temperatures became available in 1980 the warming rate has averaged just 2.7 Fø/century - less than half the UN's prediction.

CO2 concentration is rising at less than half the UN's predicted rate.

The UN's central estimate is that CO2 concentration will grow exponentially to reach 836 parts per million by volume this century, but in fact it is growing linearly towards just 575 ppm. This factor alone demands a halving of all UN temperature predictions. Methane concentration stopped rising in 2000 and has hardly changed since.

Contrary to reports, the climate is doing just fine:

Global Sea-ice Extent A steady heartbeat for 30 years.

Arctic Sea Ice Normal in winter, down a little in recent summers, but well within natural variability.

Arctic Temperature Warmer in the 1930s and early 1940s than today.

North-West Passage Amundsen sailed through it in 1903. It was also open in the mid-1940s.

Greenland Mean ice-sheet thickness grew by 2 in/yr from 1993-2003 (Johannessen et al., 2005).

Polar Bears Population up fivefold since the 1940s.

Antarctic Sea Ice Growing for 30 years.

Antarctic Temperature Little change in 50 years.

Antarctic Peninsula Ice-shelves about 1/55 the area of Texas have gone, but were not there in the Middle Ages.

Sahara Desert Greening so fast that 300,000 km2 has become vegetated, allowing nomadic tribes to settle where they haven't been seen in living memory.

Droughts and Floods Variable as usual. Hurricanes and Other Tropical Cyclones Lowest activity for 30 years.

Sea Level Rising at 1 ft/century since satellite measurements began in 1993, compared with average 4 ft/century over the past 10,000 years. No sea-level rise in the last three years. UN High-end Forecast Slashed from 3ft to <2ft sea-level rise by 2100: UN best current estimate 1 ft 5 in.

Bangladesh Has gained 70,000 km2 land area confounding UN sea-level forecasts.

Pacific Atolls Not at risk: corals can grow towards the light at 10x the rate of sea-level rise, which is why so many atolls are just above sea level.

Maldives No sea-level rise in 1250 years (Morner, 2004).

Ocean acidification is a scientific impossibility. Henry's Law mandates that warming oceans will outgas CO2 to the atmosphere (as the UN's own documents predict it will), making the oceans less acid. Also, more CO2 would increase calcification rates. No comprehensive, reliable measurement of worldwide oceanic acid/base balance has ever been carried out: therefore, there is no observational basis for the computer models' guess that acidification of 0.1 pH units has occurred in recent decades.

There is no economic case for costly measures to mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions. To prevent 1 Fø of warming, 1-10 trillion tons of CO2 emission would have to be foregone - the equivalent of shutting down the entire US economy for 170-1700 years. The Waxman/Markey Climate Bill would cost $160 billion/year (White House estimate) and, even if implemented fully, would cool the climate by just 0.0005-0.005 Fø/yr.

Secretary Chu's grand plan to paint the world white would cool the climate 0.2 Fø at the very most, at a cost of $200 trillion.

Overtaxing & overregulating US fossil-fuel industries would increase the world carbon footprint. Not that the carbon footprint matters (see point 1). However, if the US kills its own fossil-fuel industry, US corporations and jobs will move to China and other third-world economies, where carbon emissions per unit of output are higher than in the US. China and India will not be cutting their emissions



American researchers say they have uncovered a mathematical mistake made by the dinosaur boffinry community, meaning that the weight of live dinos has long been massively overestimated. In a development with devastating consequences for various much-fancied works of fiction, it now appears that in fact the dinosaurs were significantly slenderer than had been thought.

"Paleontologists have for 25 years used a published statistical model to estimate body weight of giant dinosaurs. By re-examining data in the original reference sample, we show that the statistical model is seriously flawed," says Gary Packard of Colorado State University.


Sun spot cycle impacting global warming and cooling

The sun has been very quiet, with a decreasing number of sunspots and flarings since January 2002, and predictions of a return to the higher cycle seen at the end of the 20th century have not verified. But there have been some recent signs of increased sunspots as of early to mid June, but it's too soon to tell if it will prove meaningful.

The calm on the surface of the sun ultimately will have some say in the course of weather across the Earth. For one, if the sunspot pattern does not revitalize soon, and continues for the next few months or years, it is conceivable that a more volatile pattern of trough formation and cold intrusions could occur, with the polar ice caps undergoing some growth and global sea surface temperatures less prone to rise in critical areas.

For instance, with an emerging El Nino the lack of solar energy influx may provide a critical boost of equatorial SSTs from going into the "strong" +ENSO designation. A weak to moderate El Nino episode, against what appears to be a neutral PDO configuration, may mean better capacity for -EPO and +PNA ridge development against an invigorated storm track running close to 30 N Latitude.

That, in combination with better-organized snow and ice fields in northern Canada, may well mean that the character of the upcoming autumn and winter could be far different (yes, longer-lasting and more frequent cold advection cases) than the past three NDJFM periods. The sun has been very quiet, with a decreasing number of sunspots and flarings since January 2002.

An active sun outputs a little more energy, more ultraviolet, which cause warming in the atmosphere through ozone chemistry, and through the diffusion of galactic cosmic rays, which normally cause increased low clouds through ion-mediated nucleation. Fewer cosmic rays mean fewer clouds, more sun. The opposite happens when the sun is quiet as it has been the last few years.

The sun has become more active so far in June with cycles 24 spots in middle latitudes.

This has been an unusual cycle. In 2003 and as late as 2006, NASA was expecting a start to the new cycle in December 2006 and a big cycle 24 peaking in 2010 or 2011. In subsequent releases by NASA, the new cycle was pushed back and estimates for the amplitude decreased.

On Sept. 23, 2008, in a briefing at NASA headquarters, solar physicists announced that the solar wind is losing power. "The average pressure of the solar wind has dropped more than 20% since the mid-1990s," says Dave McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. "This is the weakest it's been since we began monitoring solar wind almost 50 years ago."

This activity came late enough in the month of May, to keep the monthly number for May below the value of 14 months ago of 3.2 that it is replacing in the 13-month running mean. That means the solar cycle minimum can’t be earlier than November 2008, making it at least a 12.5 year long cycle 23. This is about two years later than the early estimates of the solar minimum.

The value needs to fall below 3.4 in June to move the minimum to December. That is still possible if the sunspot group continues to decay as most have done as they crossed the disk in recent months. If it stays below that value, we will likely see the solar minimum in December 2008 as 14 months before that the sun was very quiet with just a sunspot number of 0.5. If not, the minimum will be November.

We added 22 more sun spotless days to the total for this cycle transition, which as of June 1 had now reached an amazing 614 days. We are likely to add additional days and add 2009 to 2007 and 2008 as recent years in the top ten since 1900. Only the early 1900s had a similar 3-year stretch of high sunspot days (1911, 1912, and 1913).

It also marks the longest cycle in 150 years, tying the one that peaked in 1848. You have to go back to the Dalton minimum in 1816 to find a longer cycle 12.7 years. In 3 of the 5 most recent cycles, the sun had rebounded significantly by years 12 and 13 well into the next cycle.

Theodore Landscheidt in New Ice Age Instead of Global Warming warned the decline could continue in solar activity until a Maunder Minimum like level was reached about 2030.

The Russians appear to agree. Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Russian Academy of Science said he and his colleagues had concluded that a period of global cooling similar to one seen in the late 17th century - when canals froze in the Netherlands and people had to leave their dwellings in Greenland - could start in 2012-2015 and reach its peak in 2055-2060.

The late Rhodes Fairbridge of Columbia University had found with the help of NASA and the JPL, every 179 years or so, the sun embarks on a new cycle of orbits. One of the cooler periods in recent centuries was the Little Ice Age of the 17th century, when the Thames River in London froze over each winter. The next cool period, if the pattern holds, began in 1996, with the effects to be felt starting in 2010. Some predict three decades of severe cold..

Clilverd et al (2006) in a paper “Predicting Solar Cycle 24 and Beyond” found by using an harmonic analysis of the multiple cycle frequencies of solar cycles in a model that correctly has caught the activity the past 250 years with a sunspot number standard deviation of 34. Their analysis suggest cycles 24 and 25 will be the lowest (quietest and thus coolest) in nearly 200 years. The two cycles should be like those of the Dalton Minimum.

Much will be learned the next 5-15 years if the solar cycle decline with cooling temperatures continues. Past studies have shown that sunspot numbers correspond to warming or cooling trends. The twentieth century has featured heightened activity, indicating a warming trend.

Solar activity has shown a major spike in the twentieth century, corresponding to global warming. This cyclic variation was acknowledged by a recent NASA study, which reviewed a great deal of past climate data. The report indicates solar cycles have been impacting Earth since the Industrial Revolution.

Some researchers believe that the solar cycle influences global climate changes. They attribute recent warming trends to cyclic variation. Skeptics, though, argue that there's little hard evidence of a solar hand in recent climate changes.

A new research study from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland looking at climate data over the past century has concluded that solar variation has made a significant impact on the Earth's climate. The report concludes that evidence for climate changes based on solar radiation can be traced back as far as the Industrial Revolution.

Past research has shown that the sun goes through eleven-year cycles. At the cycle's peak, solar activity occurring near sunspots is particularly intense, basking the Earth in solar heat. According to Robert Cahalan, a climatologist at the Goddard Space Flight Center, "Right now, we are in between major ice ages, in a period that has been called the Holocene."

Thomas Woods, solar scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder concludes, "The fluctuations in the solar cycle impacts Earth's global temperature by about 0.1 degree Celsius, slightly hotter during solar maximum and cooler during solar minimum. The sun is currently at its minimum, and the next solar maximum is expected in 2012."

According to the study, during periods of solar quiet, 1,361 watts per square meter of solar energy reaches Earth's outermost atmosphere. Periods of more intense activity brought 1.3 watts per square meter (0.1 percent) more energy.

While the NASA study acknowledged the sun's influence on warming and cooling patterns, however it concluded that man had replaced the sun as the primary cause of current warming patterns.

NASA's own new study acknowledges that solar variation has caused climate change in the past. I don’t know any scientists who disagree with that fact. And even the study's members, mostly ardent supports of AGW theory, acknowledge that the sun may play a significant role in future climate changes. Peer reviewed papers are necessary since it allows the two sides to debate the science and not the politics. Both sides claim flaws in the others methods and/or data. This ongoing process is healthy, as I doubt either side has all the answers. As I said in my global warming position paper a few years ago, we may not have to wait more than 10-15 years for indications of which side is right, the AGW side or the sun and ocean side. Both have made predictions, time will tell.


Forest owners stand to win big in climate bill

For years, landowners have gotten paid for not farming. Now they may get paid for not cutting down trees. While U.S. families could see their annual energy bills rise hundreds of dollars under a massive climate bill that President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are trying to push through the House, owners of large swaths of forestland — timber companies, large farms, even foreign countries — could reap billions of dollars.

The bill is aimed at curbing the gases, largely carbon dioxide from power plants and vehicles, blamed for global warming. But it would allow polluters to buy credits from owners of forestland as an alternative to switching to fuels other than coal and gas or installing expensive equipment to capture the greenhouse gases. The land owners would get the credits because trees suck up greenhouse gases, preventing them from reaching the atmosphere and acting like a blanket to warm the Earth.

The premise is that at some point, the sources of greenhouse gases will find it cheaper to switch to other fuels or install pollution controls than to keep paying for the credits. "In effect, the public is going to pay polluters to plant trees," says Frank O'Donnell of the advocacy group Clean Air Watch. "Does that really lead to a major improvement in global warming? I don't know and I'm not sure anybody knows."

Calculating carbon. Here's how it works, hypothetically: Say an acre of forestland sucks up two additional metric tons of carbon after a landowner plants more trees on his land or promises to rotate the way he cuts them down so more are standing at once. If the pollution market created by the legislation is currently trading at $20 a ton, then the landowner could stand to make $40 per acre if he qualifies for the program — a potentially good investment for owners of thousands of acres of forest, such as timber companies or large corporate farms.

The legislation would also extend to international forests, promising to pay some countries that agree to slow their harvesting of trees abroad. The Agriculture Department, which includes the U.S. Forest Service, will oversee the domestic program and develop regulations for verifying whether a forest owner's particular tract of land is actually capturing carbon. Farm state lawmakers had threatened to vote against the bill if the Environmental Protection Agency was given that authority. Rep. Collin Peterson, the Minnesota Democrat who led the fight to include the offsets for forests and other agricultural programs, said many farmers don't trust the EPA.

The program is not unlike another set of payments that many farmers have been receiving for years — conservation subsidies that pay farmers not to plant on environmentally sensitive land. Farmers and foresters are also exempt from the bill's greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements under the bill.


More Telling Tall Tales With Trends

This post is from last year but well worth repeating for the light it shines on the darkness at the heart of Warmism

This Spring, I pointed out a couple of times [here and here] that the inherent flaw in the Global Warming argument was the selection of an unusually low temperature period as a starting point. This results in an upward overall linear trend for all conditions. It is this "cherry picking" of historical data that allows alarmists to make "startling" comments that earth's temperature has increased by about 1° F over more than a century. This chart was used to illustrate the phenomenon:

Now a post at Icecap by George Taylor, CCM, points out another tall tale using trends. This time, the starting point was from an exceptionally snowy period so that a return to a more normal period would be seen as a dramatic reduction of snow cover in the Northwest.

The top chart was used to "prove" that global warming was causing a dramatic reduction in snow cover. The bottom chart shows the "unabridged" version. Where's Waldo? The Machiavellian approach of alarmists is obvious: the end [proving global warming] justifies the means [deception and deceit].

SOURCE (See the original for links)


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


Saturday, June 27, 2009

The U.S. Senate is now the only hope for sanity

House narrowly passes major energy-climate bill

In a triumph for President Barack Obama, the Democratic-controlled House narrowly passed sweeping legislation Friday that calls for the nation's first limits on pollution linked to global warming and aims to usher in a new era of cleaner, yet more costly energy. The vote was 219-212, capping months of negotiations and days of intense bargaining among Democrats. Republicans were overwhelmingly against the measure, arguing it would destroy jobs in the midst of a recession while burdening consumers with a new tax in the form of higher energy costs.

The House's action fulfilled Speaker Nancy Pelosi's vow to clear major energy legislation before July 4, and sent the measure to a highly uncertain fate in the Senate.

Obama lobbied recalcitrant Democrats by phone from the White House as the debate unfolded across several hours, and Al Gore posted a statement on his Web site saying the measure represents "an essential first step towards solving the climate crisis." The former vice president won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work drawing attention to the destructive potential of global warming.

On the House floor, Democrats hailed the legislation as historic, while Republicans said it would damage the economy without solving the nation's energy woes. It is "the most important energy and environmental legislation in the history of our country," said Rep. Ed Markey of Massachusetts. "It sets a new course for our country, one that steers us away from foreign oil and towards a path of clean American energy."

But Rep. John Boehner, the House Republican leader, used an extraordinary one-hour speech shortly before the final vote to warn of unintended consequences in what he said was a "defining bill." He called it a "bureaucratic nightmare" that would cost jobs, depress real estate prices and put the government into parts of the economy where it now has no role.

The legislation would require the U.S. to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and by about 80 percent by mid-century. That was slightly more aggressive than Obama originally wanted, 14 percent by 2020 and the same 80 percent by mid-century. U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are rising at about 1 percent a year and are predicted to continue increasing without mandatory limits.

Under the bill, the government would limit heat-trapping pollution from factories, refineries and power plants and issue allowances for polluters. Most of the allowances would be given away, but about 15 percent would be auctioned by bid and the proceeds used to defray higher energy costs for lower-income individuals and families. "Some would like to do more. Some would like to do less," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in advance of the final vote. "But we have reached a compromise ... and it is a compromise that can pass this House, pass that Senate, be signed by the president and become law and make progress."

One of the biggest compromises involved the near total elimination of an administration plan to sell pollution permits and raise more than $600 billion over a decade — money to finance continuation of a middle class tax cut. About 85 percent of the permits are to be given away rather than sold in a concession to energy companies and their allies in the House — and even that is uncertain to survive in the Senate. The final bill also contained concessions to satisfy farm-state lawmakers, ethanol producers, hydroelectric advocates, the nuclear industry and others, some of them so late that they were not made public until 3 a.m. on Friday.

Supporters and opponents agreed the result would be higher energy costs but disagreed vigorously on the impact on consumers. Democrats pointed to two reports — one from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the other from the Environmental Protection Agency — that suggested average increases would be limited after tax credits and rebates were taken into account. The CBO estimated the bill would cost an average household $175 a year, the EPA $80 to $110 a year.

Republicans questioned the validity of the CBO study and noted that even that analysis showed actual energy production costs increasing $770 per household. Industry groups have cited other studies showing much higher costs to the economy and to individuals.

The White House and congressional Democrats argued the bill would create millions of "green jobs" as the nation shifts to greater reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar and development of more fuel-efficient vehicles — and away from use of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal. It will "make our nation the world leader on clean energy jobs and technology," declared Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who negotiated deals with dozens of lawmakers in recent weeks to broaden the bill's support.

Pelosi, D-Calif., took an intense personal interest in the measure, sitting through hours of meetings with members of the rank and file and nurturing fragile compromises.

At its heart, the bill was a trade-off, less than the White House initially sought though it was more than Republicans said was acceptable. Some of the dealmaking had a distinct political feel. Rep. Alan Grayson, a first-term Democrat, won a pledge of support that $50 million from the proceeds of pollution permit sales in the bill would go to a proposed new hurricane research facility in his district in Orlando, Fla. "This is revolutionary. This is a moment in history," declared Markey, a co-sponsor of the bill.

Republicans saw it differently. This "amounts to the largest tax increase in American history under the guise of climate change," declared Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.


The hot one from the Democrats

By Wesley Pruden

You can't blame the Democrats for hurrying to enact their hot-air legislation. The public is finally paying attention, recognizing the global warming crisis for what it is, a giant scam that will cost every American plenty. The globe isn't warming - it's actually cooling, in fact - and there's no crisis.

The only "crisis" Thursday in Washington was what to do with Al Gore. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had invited the ex-veep to Washington to appear Friday with senior Democrats to make a last-minute appeal for votes for the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Note there's not a word about "global" or "warming" in the title of the legislation. Once you stink up perfectly good words, you have to find new ones. (That's why liberals now call themselves "progressives.")

Mrs. Pelosi canceled Al's invitation late Wednesday night because one of his signature rants - "the sky is falling, the earth is melting" - would likely harm, not help her cause. Mrs. Pelosi said she would prefer to have Al making harmless telephone calls from his palatial house in Tennessee, and an aide says she doesn't want him "in the air for five and half hours" when he could be sitting down outside Nashville dialing for votes. (She presumably sent him a prepaid calling card.) "It's a question of what was energy efficient for the vice president," she said. "We were narrowing the list of undecideds. We had a great narrowing of the undecideds."

Given the size of their margins in Congress, the effort to pass the global warming bill shouldn't even be close. But it is. President Obama, who imagined only yesterday that he could remain royally aloof atop Mount Olympus, parsing his favorite Urdu poetry for Islamic insights, had to step out into 91-degree heat Thursday to make still another pitch to the undecideds. "We've been talking about this issue for decades," he said. "Now is the time to act." Quickly, before the globe cools even more than it has over the past decade, he didn't dare to say.

Despite all the pressure the speaker and her flacks and minions can exert on reluctant Democrats, a considerable number of Democratic congressmen who know better and understand that their constituents are learning better every day, are reluctant to walk the plank. They don't look forward to explaining to the home folks later why their congressman voted to squeeze the life out of their communities with the largest tax increase in history.

Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, the partner in this crime with Rep. Henry Waxman of California, jokes that the global warming tax will cost every American family only $175 a year, "no more than a postage stamp a day." That's just for starters; the tax rises every year. But the tax won't rise dramatically until the year 2020, when Messrs Markey and Waxman and a lot of their colleagues are counting on being safely dead, beyond human punishment.

Like most good scams, cap and trade as outlined in the Markey-Waxman legislation is simple. The government sets a cap on how much pollution the nation's factories, cars (and flatulent cows) are allowed to expel into the atmosphere. Companies can buy, sell or trade their emissions, or lack thereof. (If the cows must be cited for violations, Al Gore, a onetime tobacco farmer, can measure the barnyard effluvium.)

But the most acute pain will be the rising costs of everything as companies pass the effects of the tax on to consumers. Nobody knows this better than Mrs. Pelosi and her merry band of robbers. When this far-reaching legislation was debated in the House Energy Committee, the Republicans offered amendments to suspend the legislation if the price of gasoline exceeds $5 a gallon, if the price of electricity rises more than 10 percent over 2009, and if the unemployment rate, now hovering close to 9 percent, exceeds 15 percent. The Democrats, who know very well the devastation this "biggest tax increase in history" is likely to wreak on American families, nevertheless defeated all three amendments.

Hypocrisy, as we know, is the tribute vice pays to virtue, and nobody is louder in tribute than certain Democrats. Just before the Gores moved into the vice presidential residence on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, they were invited by Marilyn and Dan Quayle to inspect the premises. Tipper Gore was disappointed to see that the fireplace in the master bedroom had been closed. "Well," Mrs. Quayle told her, "the fireplace is wasteful and contributes to pollution." "Oh, I know," Tipper replied. "But a fireplace in the bedroom is so cozy." When the Quayles moved out, the fireplace was reopened.



As in America, the Senate is the crucial battleground

As the US Congress considers the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, the Australian Senate is on the verge of rejecting its own version of cap-and-trade. The story of this legislation's collapse offers advance notice for what might happen to similar legislation in the US-and to the whole global warming hysteria.

Since the Australian government first introduced its Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) legislation-the Australian version of cap-and-trade energy rationing-there has been a sharp shift in public opinion and political momentum against the global warming crusade. This is a story that offers hope to defenders of industrial civilization - and a warning to American environmentalists that the climate change they should be afraid of just might be a shift in the intellectual climate.

An April 29 article in The Australian described the general trend-and its leading cause.
There is rising recognition that introduction of a carbon tax under the guise of "cap and trade" will be personally costly, economically disruptive to society and tend to shift classes of jobs offshore. Moreover, despite rising carbon dioxide concentrations, global warming seems to have taken a holiday....

With public perceptions changing so dramatically and quickly it is little wonder Ian Plimer's latest book, Heaven and Earth, Global Warming: The Missing Science, has been received with such enthusiasm and is into its third print run in as many weeks. [It's now up to the fifth printing.]

The public is receptive to an exposé of the many mythologies and false claims associated with anthropogenic global warming and are welcoming an authoritative description of planet Earth and its ever-changing climate in readable language.

One of the most remarkable changes occurred on April 13, when leading global warming hysteric Paul Sheehan - who writes for the main Sydney newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, which has done as much to hype the threat of global warming as any Australian newspaper - reviewed Plimer's book and admitted he was taken aback. He describes Plimer, correctly, as "one of Australia's foremost Earth scientists," and praised the book as "brilliantly argued" and "the product of 40 years' research and breadth of scholarship."

What does Plimer's book say? Here is Sheehan's summary:
Much of what we have read about climate change, [Plimer] argues, is rubbish, especially the computer modeling on which much current scientific opinion is based, which he describes as "primitive."...

The Earth's climate is driven by the receipt and redistribution of solar energy. Despite this crucial relationship, the sun tends to be brushed aside as the most important driver of climate. Calculations on supercomputers are primitive compared with the complex dynamism of the Earth's climate and ignore the crucial relationship between climate and solar energy.

To reduce modern climate change to one variable, CO2, or a small proportion of one variable-human-induced CO2-is not science. To try to predict the future based on just one variable (CO2) in extraordinarily complex natural systems is folly.

In response, this is Sheehan's conclusion: "Heaven and Earth is an evidence-based attack on conformity and orthodoxy, including my own, and a reminder to respect informed dissent and beware of ideology subverting evidence." This cannot be interpreted as anything but a capitulation. It cedes to the global warming rejectionists the high ground of being "evidence-based," and it accepts the characterization of the global warming promoters as dogmatic conformists.

The political impact has been manifested in a series of climb-downs as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's government has been forced to delay its plans for cap-and-trade controls. On May 4, the government announced it would postpone the onset of the scheme until mid-2011, a year later than originally planned.

On June 4, this delayed emission trading scheme passed the House of Representatives despite a vote against it by the opposition. But it now faces almost certain defeat in the Australian Senate. Whereas the Labor government controls 32 votes in the Senate, the opposition Liberal-National coalition controls 37 and is committed to vote against it if the Rudd government will not grant more time to consider the outcome of the Copenhagen climate conference in December and US Senate deliberations. This itself is a compromise position, because many of the coalition parliamentarians now want to vote unconditionally against an ETS in any form.

There are 7 other votes in the Senate: five Greens who say the scheme doesn't go far enough but who could be induced to go along; one independent, Nick Xenophon, who has pledged to vote against the bill unless the government waits till after Copenhagen; and one other, Senator Steve Fielding of the Family First Party, who has decided to investigate the whole thing first hand. Fielding could turn out to be the single deciding vote.

His story is particularly interesting. Andrew Bolt, who has been leading the charge against the global warming hysteria for years, notes that Fielding's investigation "could blow apart the great global warming scare."

Fielding went to the US to assess the American evidence for global warming at close quarters. As Melbourne's Age reported on June 4:
Senator Fielding said he was impressed by some of the data presented at the [US Heartland Institute's] climate change skeptics' conference: namely that, although carbon emissions had increased in the last 10 years, global temperature had not.

He said scientists at the conference had advanced other explanations, such as the relationship between solar activity and solar energy hitting the Earth to explain climate change.

Fielding has issued a challenge to the Obama White House to rebut the data. It will be a novel experience for them, as Fielding is an engineer and has an Australian's disregard for self-important government officials. Here is how The Age described his challenge:
Senator Fielding emailed graphs that claim the globe had not warmed for a decade to Joseph Aldy, US President Barack Obama's special assistant on energy and the environment, after a meeting on Thursday…. Senator Fielding said he found that Dr. Aldy and other Obama administration officials were not interested in discussing the legitimacy of climate science.

Telling an Australian you're not interested in the legitimacy of your position is a red rag to a bull. So here is what Fielding concluded:
Until recently I, like most Australians, simply accepted without question the notion that global warming was a result of increased carbon emissions. However, after speaking to a cross-section of noted scientists, including Ian Plimer, a professor at the University of Adelaide and author of Heaven and Earth, I quickly began to understand that the science on this issue was by no means conclusive….

As a federal senator, I would be derelict in my duty to the Australian people if I did not even consider whether or not the scientific assumptions underpinning this debate were in fact correct.

What Fielding's questioning represents is just the tip of the kangaroo's tail. He speaks for a growing number of Australians who will no longer take green propaganda on trust.

And that's what makes Plimer so influential—not just his credibility as a scientist, but the righteous certainty with which he dismisses man-made global warming as an unscientific dogma. He writes: "The Emissions Trading Scheme legislation poises Australia to make the biggest economic decision in its history"—Australia generates 80% of its electricity from coal, which would essentially be outlawed—"yet there has been no scientific due diligence. There has never been a climate change debate in Australia. Only dogma."

Plimer is not a "skeptic," a term which would imply that he merely has a few doubts about the global warming claims. Instead, he rejects the whole myth outright, and this seems to have emboldened and liberated a great many Australians who were already chafing under global warming conformity. As Plimer puts it:
[T]here are a large number of punters [Australian for "customers" or "gamblers"—in this case, skeptical customers who may or may not buy what the government's selling] who object to being treated dismissively as stupid, who do not like being told what to think, who value independence, who resile from personal attacks and have life experiences very different from the urban environmental atheists attempting to impose a new fundamentalist religion. Green politics have taken the place of failed socialism and Western Christianity and impose fear, guilt, penance, and indulgences onto a society with little scientific literacy.

Australia is not that different from America. If a shift in public opinion against the global warming dogma can happen on one side of the earth, it can happen on the other—especially when the US edition of Plimer's book, scheduled for July 1, hits the stands.

His role, Plimer says, is to show "that the emperor has no clothes." After three decades of relentless global warming propaganda, it's about time.


Lights out

Already President Obama and the Democratic Congress have raised taxes on smokers, boosting the cigarette tax. But a tax increase that affects just a fifth of the electorate is unlikely to lead to a second Boston Tea Party. The Obama budget blueprint anticipates a return to Clinton-era marginal tax rates on upper-income earners, but that can easily be justified as a tax hike borne by the wealthy who failed to pay their "fair share" while the Republicans were in office.

Cap and trade will hit the wallets of many Americans who are firmly middle-class and fancy themselves admirers of Hope and Change. That's why Republicans, even after unveiling their own energy alternative this month, have kept up the rhetorical assault against the Democrats' "national energy tax."

In every conference call and press conference on energy policy since the start of the year, House Republicans have pilloried "cap and tax." The National Republican Congressional Committee sent out a fundraising letter on Tuesday containing the following broadside: "Cap-and-trade is nothing more than a tax which starts accruing the moment you flip on your light switch. This 'light switch tax' will raise energy costs by hundreds of dollars for the average family and between 1.8 and 7 million American jobs could be lost."

Bill Clinton's honeymoon came to a close when he shelved his middle-class tax cut and proposes tax increases that didn't just fall on the top 1.5 percent. Southern and industrial state Democrats stripped his budget of the most egregious tax increases -- such as the BTU-based energy tax -- but the damage was done. Democrats in marginal districts didn't want to vote with Clinton to raise their constituents' taxes. Those who did often went down to defeat in 1994. Thus did a Congress with Democratic majorities almost as large as those President Obama enjoys today come within one vote in each house of defeating the Clinton tax increase. Were it not for the votes of Al Gore in the Senate and Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky in the House, Clinton's 1993 tax-and-budget bill would have been defeated despite tiny Republican minorities.

Ask yourself where Al Gore and Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky are now.

Democrats have tried to save Obama and Pelosi from the cruel fate of Waxman-Markey. Congressman Colin Petersen (D-MN) stalled the bill in the Agriculture Committee. Factions ranging from the Blue Dogs on the right to the Congressional Black Caucus on the left expressed their concerns about the bill's price tag. Petersen relented after Pelosi cut a deal. And the Blue Dogs once again seem to content to roll over and have their tummies scratched by the leadership...

According to a least one poll (pdf), cap and trade is deeply unpopular among the most Democratic voting bloc in the country: African Americans. That survey was commissioned by a group of black conservatives, but the reluctance of some in the liberal Congressional Black Caucus to support Waxman-Markey suggests that the concerns within this community are real.

Just a few more votes like this and it could be lights out for some red-state Democrats.


Trojan hearse

Indeed, the Waxman-Markey bill (as it’s commonly called, after its two chief sponsors) would be the largest tax increase in world history, as well as transfer vast wealth from consumers to big-business special interests.

And it would put Washington in charge of people’s lives in a way not seen since the Second World War—which was the last time Americans needed ration coupons to buy gasoline, food and other commodities.

The core of the complex 1,201-page bill is what’s called a “cap and trade” system. This would put a cap or limit on greenhouse-gas emissions—mainly on carbon dioxide produced by burning coal, oil and natural gas, three fuels that provide more than 80 percent of America’s energy. And the law lowers the cap every few years—ordering emissions to drop 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent below by 2050.

The “trade” part of the scheme would let companies buy and sell the government-issued ration coupons. Thus, a business closing down a factory and moving overseas could sell its no-longer-needed coupons to a firm that’s still trying to stay in business.

Cap-and-trade backers tell us that it’s a reasonable, effective way of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources and higher energy efficiency. But it’s proving anything but reasonable or effective in the European Union, which started a similar scheme several years ago. The prices of ration coupons have fluctuated wildly, electric rates have risen steeply and emissions haven’t gone down (at least not until businesses began curtailing production in this recession).

But even if it produced the promised results, cap-and-trade wouldn’t be worth it. For starters, the bill’s sneaky, indirect tax is still a tax—and a huge one. This would vastly increase fossil-fuel prices—which would make greens happy by making higher-priced alternatives such as wind power competitive, but would make Americans as a whole miserable, by forcing us to use less energy and pay much more for it.

Realize, too, that almost every recession of the last 60 years, including today’s mess, has followed a sharp rise in energy prices. Why would we want lawmakers to mandate a recession?

Understandably, Waxman-Markey’s supporters pretend the bill’s impact won’t be too severe. But independent economic studies have estimated the costs from $1,500 to more than $3,000 per year for the average family.

Then, this week, the Congressional Budget Office released an estimate of just $175 a year per family—then dropped it to $80. Green groups crowed—but no one really believes that number.

Certainly, the bill’s supporters in Congress don’t. If they did, these Democrats wouldn’t have voted down Republican amendments to the measure that would have suspended cap-and-trade if gasoline hit $5 a gallon, electricity prices doubled or unemployment topped 15 percent.

For that matter, similar government policies in Britain are already costing families $1,200 a year—and that’s in just the early stages.

During last year’s campaign, Sen. Barack Obama acknowledged: “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

And the Obama plan was less pernicious than Waxman-Markey. It would at least auction off the ration coupons, giving the federal government revenues that could fund programs or reduce the debt. Waxman-Markey gives away 85 percent of the ration coupons to big corporations. So while American consumers are stuck with ever rising energy prices, special interests will make enormous windfall profits.)


The Climate Change Climate Change

The number of skeptics is swelling everywhere


Steve Fielding recently asked the Obama administration to reassure him on the science of man-made global warming. When the administration proved unhelpful, Mr. Fielding decided to vote against climate-change legislation. If you haven't heard of this politician, it's because he's a member of the Australian Senate. As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to pass a climate-change bill, the Australian Parliament is preparing to kill its own country's carbon-emissions scheme. Why? A growing number of Australian politicians, scientists and citizens once again doubt the science of human-caused global warming.

Among the many reasons President Barack Obama and the Democratic majority are so intent on quickly jamming a cap-and-trade system through Congress is because the global warming tide is again shifting. It turns out Al Gore and the United Nations (with an assist from the media), did a little too vociferous a job smearing anyone who disagreed with them as "deniers." The backlash has brought the scientific debate roaring back to life in Australia, Europe, Japan and even, if less reported, the U.S.

In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming. In the Czech Republic, where President Vaclav Klaus remains a leading skeptic, today only 11% of the population believes humans play a role. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to tap Claude Allegre to lead the country's new ministry of industry and innovation. Twenty years ago Mr. Allegre was among the first to trill about man-made global warming, but the geochemist has since recanted. New Zealand last year elected a new government, which immediately suspended the country's weeks-old cap-and-trade program.

The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. -- 13 times the number who authored the U.N.'s 2007 climate summary for policymakers. Joanne Simpson, the world's first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak "frankly" of her nonbelief. Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming "the worst scientific scandal in history." Norway's Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the "new religion." A group of 54 noted physicists, led by Princeton's Will Happer, is demanding the American Physical Society revise its position that the science is settled. (Both Nature and Science magazines have refused to run the physicists' open letter.)

The collapse of the "consensus" has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth's temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.

Credit for Australia's own era of renewed enlightenment goes to Dr. Ian Plimer, a well-known Australian geologist. Earlier this year he published "Heaven and Earth," a damning critique of the "evidence" underpinning man-made global warming. The book is already in its fifth printing. So compelling is it that Paul Sheehan, a noted Australian columnist -- and ardent global warming believer -- in April humbly pronounced it "an evidence-based attack on conformity and orthodoxy, including my own, and a reminder to respect informed dissent and beware of ideology subverting evidence." Australian polls have shown a sharp uptick in public skepticism; the press is back to questioning scientific dogma; blogs are having a field day.

The rise in skepticism also came as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, elected like Mr. Obama on promises to combat global warming, was attempting his own emissions-reduction scheme. His administration was forced to delay the implementation of the program until at least 2011, just to get the legislation through Australia's House. The Senate was not so easily swayed.

Mr. Fielding, a crucial vote on the bill, was so alarmed by the renewed science debate that he made a fact-finding trip to the U.S., attending the Heartland Institute's annual conference for climate skeptics. He also visited with Joseph Aldy, Mr. Obama's special assistant on energy and the environment, where he challenged the Obama team to address his doubts. They apparently didn't.

This week Mr. Fielding issued a statement: He would not be voting for the bill. He would not risk job losses on "unconvincing green science." The bill is set to founder as the Australian parliament breaks for the winter.

Republicans in the U.S. have, in recent years, turned ever more to the cost arguments against climate legislation. That's made sense in light of the economic crisis. If Speaker Nancy Pelosi fails to push through her bill, it will be because rural and Blue Dog Democrats fret about the economic ramifications. Yet if the rest of the world is any indication, now might be the time for U.S. politicians to re-engage on the science. One thing for sure: They won't be alone.



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


Friday, June 26, 2009

"Noble savages" were not "conservationists" and "living in harmony with nature" after all

Megafauna demise is traced to arrival of blacks in Australia around 50,000 years ago. That has always been the obvious conclusion but scientists have resisted it because of the Green/Left romanticization of native people. Any alternative to our hated modern world is to be preferred, even if you have to make most of it up

Debate has raged about the demise of "whopper hopper" P. goliah. A fossil study of the extinct giant kangaroo has added weight to the theory that humans were responsible for the demise of "megafauna" 46,000 years ago. The decline of plants through widespread fire or changes toward an arid climate have also played into the debate about the animals' demise. But an analysis of kangaroo fossils suggested they ate saltbush, which would have thrived in those conditions. The research is in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

There has long been dissent in the palaeontology community about the cause for extinctions worldwide after the end of the last ice age. Central to the debate has been the demise of the Australian megafauna, including animals such as marsupial lions, hippopotamus-sized wombats and the 2m-tall giant kangaroo Procoptodon goliah.

Last year, researchers dated fossils from Tasmania with the best precision yet, finding that many species survived more than 2,000 years after the arrival of humans. The researchers concluded that the megafauna eventually met their end due to hunting.

Now, researchers from Australia and the US have combined radiocarbon dating with a so-called microwear analysis of the teeth of P. goliah to determine what it ate and drank. Different sources of water and food leave trace amounts of particular types, or isotopes, of hydrogen and carbon atoms, which are deposited in the teeth like a recorded diet. Additionally, tiny patterns of wear give clues about the type of food a given creature chewed. The team concluded that the giant kangaroos fed mainly on saltbush shrubs.

Because fire does not propagate well among saltbush, and because it thrives in a dry, arid climate, the case supporting two of the three potential causes for extinction was weakened. Evidence suggests therefore that the P. goliah was hunted to extinction.

However, it is just one of many species whose disappearance fuels the debate, and there is much more work to be done before it can be considered a definitive proof. "I'm a little hesitant to make a big conclusion," said co-author of the study, Larisa DeSantis of the University of Florida. "What's really exciting is that this is one of the first instances where we've been able to use both isotopes and the microwear method to identify this very unique diet," she told BBC News. Dr DeSantis said that she was pursuing a similar analysis of other megafauna fossils in other regions of Australia.

"This study neatly ties up several loose threads in the long-running extinction debate," said Richard Roberts of the University of Wollongong in Australia. "By independently reaching the same conclusion for two very different environments - the mountainous rainforests of Tasmania and the dry rangelands of inland Australia - the mystery is no longer whether humans were ultimately responsible for the disappearance of the giant marsupials, but how they did it."


Hansen the political activist

Any pretense that he is an unbiased scientist is clearly disproven by his own actions -- denials notwithstanding. He is basically just a childish attention-seeker. When as a little kid, he said "Mommy, look at me", his mother probably did not look

James E. Hansen, the NASA climate scientist who has become an outspoken campaigner against coal burning, was among 31 protesters arrested on charges of obstructing officers and impeding traffic during a protest against mountaintop mining. They had initially sought to enter the grounds of a facility run by Massey Energy, the biggest company conducting mountaintop mining in West Virginia. But several hundred miners and relatives, along with supporters of the coal industry, blocked the entrance, according to the Charleston Gazette.

The protesters included Ken Hechler, 94, a former congressman, the actress Darryl Hannah and the executive director of the Rainforest Action Network. (Here are more photos from the day’s events, taken by Antrim Caskey.)

In a statement distributed by the Rainforest Action Network, Dr. Hansen said:
I am not a politician; I am a scientist and a citizen. Politicians may have to advocate for halfway measures if they choose. But it is our responsibility to make sure our representatives feel the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not what is politically expedient. Mountaintop removal, providing only a small fraction of our energy, should be abolished.

Dr. Hansen has said for years that growing reliance on coal, far more so than oil, is the biggest threat to the global climate. As a result, he has strongly criticized the climate bill that is facing a vote by the full House of Representatives on Friday. He cites studies concluding that various provisions would allow expanded coal use in coming decades despite an overall cap on emissions of carbon dioxide. In a profile of Dr. Hansen by Elizabeth Kolbert in the current issue of the New Yorker (subscription required), she pressed him on his stance:
Dr. Hansen pointed out that the bill explicitly allows for the construction of new coal plants and predicted that it would, if passed, prove close to meaningless. He said that he thought it would probably be best if the bill failed, so that Congress could “come back and do it more sensibly".

I said that if the bill failed I thought it was more likely Congress would let the issue drop, and that was one reason most of the country’s major environmental groups were backing it. “This is just stupidity on the part of environmental organizations in Washington,” Dr. Hansen said. “The fact that some of these organizations have become part of the Washington ‘go along, get along’ establishment is very unfortunate.”

Dr. Hansen has pushed far beyond the boundaries of the conventional role of scientists, particularly government scientists, in the environmental policy debate.



Despite indications that much of President Obama's agenda is meeting intra-party skepticism all over Capitol Hill, there is one policy nexus where congressional leaders are still doggedly determined to move the country left: energy and the environment. Speaker Pelosi will reportedly allow a vote on the controversial Waxman-Markey "cap-and-trade" legislation at the end of this week.

And it gets even better. Not content to tempt political fate by imposing huge carbon taxes on the American middle class, Democrats have added a provision which imposes stiff tariffs on our trading partners if they don't adopt aggressive carbon restrictions of their own.

You heard correctly: progressives have authored a bill that earns the mortal enmity of domestic energy consumers and our most crucial trading partners at the same time. Economy-killing climate policies and a trade war - together at last!

What happened is this: An early draft of Waxman-Markey already contained triggers that gave the president the choice to introduce carbon tariffs if jobs and industry "leak" overseas to countries that don't constrain emissions so dramatically. (China and India come to mind.) The original version empowered the president to impose the carbon-linked tariffs beginning in 2025.

But though the language is not public yet, the House Ways and Means Committee is reportedly considering provisions that will give extra comfort to protectionists. Leaks from Hill offices indicate that the president would now be forced to impose the carbon tariffs - and could only opt out of doing so with permission from both chambers of Congress. Carbon-intensive imports would be subject to penalties at the border unless the country of origin requires emission reduction measures at least 80 percent as costly as ours. (The original Waxman-Markey bill had a threshold of 60 percent.)

Unfortunately for the amendment's authors, World Trade Organization rules make fairly clear that trade-limiting measures imposed to protect the environment should have the purpose of protecting the environment, and not to address any adverse competitiveness effects on domestic industry. Break that connection between measure and purpose, and you've got yourself a problem. The result could be litigation, retaliatory tariffs, or both. Does anyone really expect China to stand idly by in 2025 as their trade is embargoed?

And just for the sake of discussion, exactly how much global warming will be prevented by this assurance of future trade turmoil? Well, let's use the federal government's own model which - we are not making this up - is called MAGGIC (Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse-gas Induced Climate Change). It comes from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

Let's compare the effects of Waxman-Markey to the United Nations' "business-as-usual" emissions scenario that's in their big 2007 climate change compendium. If the U.S. only adopts Waxman-Markey, global warming would be reduced by a grand total of 0.2°F by 2100. This is too small to even detect, because global temperatures bounce around by about this amount every year. For those who like to think more near-term, the amount of warming prevented by 2050 would be 0.07 of a degree.

According to the UN, without Waxman-Markey the warming from 1990 to 2050 would be 2.8°F, and 5.3° by 2100. (Of course, observed warming since 1990 is running about 40 percent below the expected rate, largely because there hasn't been any net warming since the very warm year of 1998.)

Now, let's be completely unrealistic and assume that every nation that has "obligations" under the (failed) Kyoto Protocol cuts emissions as much as we do. Then the saved warming balloons all the way to 0.14°F by 2050 and 0.4° by 2100, or 5 and 7 percent, respectively, of the "business-as-usual" total.

Let's add it all up. We don't do anything measurable to reduce global warming, we alienate some of our biggest trade partners, we risk a trade war, and Americans are allowed to emit the same carbon volumes as the average citizen did in 1867. What's not to hate?

All of which explains why Waxman-Markey is being rushed to the floor. If people find out what is really in it, how risky it is and how small the purported benefits, it is hard to believe that it will pass.



As the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill nears a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives, environmental groups are "teetering at the edge of existential crisis," writes Josh Harkinson. "Almost all environmental groups agree that Waxman-Markey is far from ideal," but some are supporting it, while others "believe the bill is so deeply flawed it might actually make matters worse." Critics say the bill "lines the pockets of polluters with little to show for it. The most it would cut carbon emissions by 2020 is 17 percent below 1990 levels, nowhere near the 25 to 40 percent reduction sought by scientists and international climate negotiators."

Other concerns are that the bill may decrease clean energy production, as it would overrule higher renewable mandates in states like California; it would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants; and it would auction just 15 percent of emissions permits, giving a whopping 50 percent "to the fossil fuel industry for free."

Some environmentalists blame the United States Climate Action Partnership, "a coalition of industry and moderate environmental groups," for sticking with a "quietly hammered out" agreement developed during the Bush administration. Others criticize President Obama, "who spoke out in favor of auctioning off pollution permits during his campaign ... but is now thought likely to sign whatever bill crosses his desk." Meanwhile, the industry front group Cooler Heads Coalition is planning efforts to oppose the bill, with "scientific skeptics and legislative critics," reports Greenwire.



On Thursday, the Met Office launched its new report on global warming: UK Climate Projections 2009, otherwise known as UKCP09. This is based on the output of Hadley Centre climate models that predict temperature increases of up to 6°C with wetter winters, dryer summers, more heatwaves, rising sea levels, more floods and all the other catastrophes that one would expect from similar exercises in alarmism.

What makes this report different from any of its predecessors is the resolution of the predictions that the Met Office is making. They are not just presenting a general impression of what might happen globally during this century, or even how climate change could affect the UK as a whole. They are claiming that they can predict what will happen in individual regions of the country - down to a 25km square. You can enter your postcode and find out how your street will be affected by global warming in 2040 or 2080.

All this is rather unexpected. In May last year, I posted here and here about a world summit of climate modellers that took place at Reading University. On the agenda was one very important problem for them; even the most powerful super-computers that have been developed so far are not capable of running the kind of high resolution models that they claim would allow them to reduce the degree of uncertainty in their predictions, and also make detailed regional predictions that policy makers would like to have so that they can build climate change into infrastructure planning.

Here are a couple of excerpts from the conference website:
The climate modelling community is therefore faced with a major new challenge: Is the current generation of climate models adequate to provide societies with accurate and reliable predictions of regional climate change, including the statistics of extreme events and high impact weather, which are required for global and local adaptation strategies? It is in this context that the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) and the World Weather Research Programme (WWRP) asked the WCRP Modelling Panel (WMP) and a small group of scientists to review the current state of modelling, and to suggest a strategy for seamless prediction of weather and climate from days to centuries for the benefit of and value to society.

A major conclusion of the group was that regional projections from the current generation of climate models were sufficiently uncertain to compromise this goal of providing society with reliable predictions of regional climate change.

Modellers also fretted that the GCMs, or General Circulation Models, were blunt instruments.
Current generation climate models have serious limitations in simulating regional features, for example, rainfall, mid-latitude storms, organized tropical convection, ocean mixing, and ecosystem dynamics. What is the scientific strategy to improve the fidelity of climate models?

This was summed up by Julia Slingo (at that time Professor of Meteorology at Reading University, who also chaired part of the conference) in a report by Roger Harrabin on the BBC News website:

So far modellers have failed to narrow the total bands of uncertainties since the first report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1990.

And Julia Slingo from Reading University admitted it would not get much better until they had supercomputers 1,000 times more powerful than at present. "We've reached the end of the road of being able to improve models significantly so we can provide the sort of information that policymakers and business require," she told BBC News. "In terms of computing power, it's proving totally inadequate. With climate models we know how to make them much better to provide much more information at the local level... we know how to do that, but we don't have the computing power to deliver it."

Professor Slingo said several hundred million pounds of investment were needed. "In terms of re-building something like the Thames Barrier, that would cost billions; it's a small fraction of that. "And it would allow us to tell the policymakers that they need to build the barrier in the next 30 years, or maybe that they don't need to."

If, since the conference, several hundred million pounds had been invested in producing a new generation of supercomputers, a thousand times more powerful than the present generation, and the Met Office had already developed and run the kind of high resolution models which were so far beyond the scientist's grasp just a year ago, then I suspect that this might have seeped into the media and we would have head about it. So far as I am aware, the fastest supercomputers are still a thousand times slower than the modellers consider necessary for credible regional scale modelling of the climate.

So I wondered whether Professor Slingo had anything to say about the Met Office's new. In fact, she did:
"Through UKCP09 [UK Climate Predictions 2009] the Met Office has provided the world's most comprehensive regional climate projections with a unique assessment of the possible changes to our climate through the rest of this century. "For the first time businesses and other organisations have the tools to help them make risk-based decisions to adapt to the challenges of our changing climate." Slingo confidently explained the 'breakthrough' to Bloomberg. "We can attach levels of certainty," she said.

So what’s changed since last year? Well one thing is that Julia Slingo has a new job. She has been appointed as Chief Scientist at the Met Office. So far as I know, the limitations that lack of computing power place on the accuracy and resolution of models are just the same.

During a rather bad-tempered interview on Thursday evening’s Newsnight, Kirsty Wark asked Hilary Benn, the UK Environment Secretary, why local authorities were being told to use the Met Office predictions as a template for infrastructure planning when their report had not been peer reviewed and the authors had postponed publication of information about the methodology that they had used. She also told him that there was considerable concern among other climate scientists about the Met Office’s research.

Myles Allen made an appearance on the programme warning that local authorities should be very wary about planning infrastructure projects on the basis of climate models unless they were sure that the science was robust. Mr Benn parroted the usual mantras without addressing the questions, and looked as though he would have much preferred to be elsewhere.



17 JUN 2009 From the ongoing OGS conference on Observational Oceanography in Trieste, Italy - Rome, 17 June (Apcom) - No water warming processes are likely to be undergoing in the Mediterranean. It's one of the preliminary results obtained under MedArgo, the "sister project", coordinated by OGS [the Italian National Institute on Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics].

MedArgo deals specifically with the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding countries and is part of EuroArgo, the European component of the international Argo project.

Argo's objective is an intensive analysis of the seas to see what are the impacts of climate change and global warming on the waters of our planet and, consequently, also on its ecosystems. That is why 60 European scientists are comparing data and knowledge at the Second EuroArgo Conference on Observational Oceanography, being held in Trieste, and organized by OGS.

In order to study the chemical and physical parameters of the waters of the seas, OGS uses special tools called "float profilers" [?], battery-powered cylindrical tubes released into sea currents. Devices last between 3 and 4 years and collect 150-200 profiles before being abandoned.

"These instruments - says Pierre-Marie Poulain, Head of the Remote Sensing Group at OGS and coordinator of MedArgo - go down to an average depth of 350 meters and remain there for five days. Then they do a quick foray to 2,000 meters and come back up, measuring the physical parameters of the water column and transmitting the data via satellite. Everything is done in real time: the data arrives at research centers, scattered throughout the world, where it is processed, managed and disseminated to the community of scientists."

At present, there are around 3,000 profilers worldwide, spaced apart by about 300 kilometers. In the European seas there are 800 profiles, 23 of which in the Mediterranean Sea, with the objective of bringing the total to 30 for a complete coverage of the basin.

As well as coordinating the launching of the profilers, OGS is also involved in collecting the data recorded on the characteristics of currents, temperature and salinity. The researchers from Trieste are, in fact, among the few with the oceanographical skills needed to perform the necessary quality control.

MedArgo so far has collected a series of data that illustrate what is happening in the Mediterranean. "The Mediterranean current - adds Poulain - is an important engine of the local circulation, because it influences all motions of this enclosed sea. On the basis of information gathered so far, all we can anticipate is that at the moment there are no processes warming the waters. But we will have more details only at the end of the project, with the final data in hand."



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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pelosi concedes 'not enough votes to pass global warming bill'‏

House Democratic leaders are furiously lobbying their members and moderate Republicans to support a landmark energy bill in the face of resistance from some conservative members of their own party, and staunch opposition from the GOP — roadblocks that are making it difficult to find the 218 votes necessary to pass the measure, according to Democratic leadership aides.

A vote on the Clean Energy and Security Act, which would restrict emissions of green house gases and require use of alternative energy in an effort to slow the effects of global warming, is scheduled for Friday.

The legislation’s lead sponsors held a pep rally outside the Capitol on Wednesday to whip up support for the legislation’s passage. “We are going to pass the most important energy and environment bill in history,” declared Rep Ed Markey, D-Masachusetts, chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. “We are going to reduce the carbon we send up into the atmosphere but at the same time we are going to begin to back out the oil that we import from countries that we should not be importing it from.”

The legislation would require a 17 percent emissions reduction from 2005 levels by 2020, mandate electric utilities to meet 20% of their electricity demand through renewable energy sources by 2020, provide $90 billion for new investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, along with $60 billion for carbon capture and sequestration. Another key provision, termed “cap-and-trade,” would require industries and manufacturers to cut carbon emissions by setting up a system where they could buy and sell pollution credits.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi conceded Wednesday evening that there were not enough votes to pass the bill, but that meetings with Democrats and Republicans were ongoing. Many Democrats from rural districts are concerned about the bill’s effect on the manufacturing of ethanol and other biofuels, while Republicans have questioned the overall price tag to Americans. “This legislation has really been quite an experience for all of us,” said Pelosi. “This is really about regional differences, as well as philosophical differences.”

Democrats are hoping that a recent evaluation by Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which estimates that the annual economywide cost of the cap-and-trade program in 2020 would be $22 billion — or about $175 per household, is enough to alleviate concerns of some members.

But House Republican leaders claim the CBO estimate is too low, and doesn’t adequately gauge the harmful effect that stricter regulations will have on business and industry. “There is no question that the cap and trade bill will cost millions of jobs and it is pretty evident, I think now, given the word that we are hearing that the other side has 190 votes at this point, far short of that which are needed to pass this bill,” said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Virginia.

Despite concerns about not getting any Republicans to ultimately support the bill, Democratic leaders are hoping their more conservative members coalesce around a “grand agreement” being worked out with Rep Colin Peterson (D-MN), chairman of the Agriculture Committee and a leading voice for rural Democrats concerned with the bill.


Obama's EPA Makes a Mockery of Due Process

Surely climate alarmists enjoy enough unfair advantage over their rational counterparts, what with the mainstream media shamelessly suppressing the findings of the latter for political purposes. But now there’s compelling evidence that alarmists within our government have also taken unfair advantage, suppressing the results of their own climate study for the same nefarious reasons.

Sixty days ago yesterday, EPA chief Lisa Jackson released the Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act. The proposal initiated a statutory period of public commentary – ending yesterday – providing a forum to experts and interested parties on both sides of the “CO2 as pollutant” issue prior to any regulatory action.

But on the final day of the public commentary period, a dispatch was submitted to the EPA accusing them of attempting to cover-up an internal study that imperiled the outcome predetermined by both the agency and its puppeteers – the Obama administration. And the intraagency emails attached to the letter -- submitted by Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) general counsel Sam Kazman [PDF] -- leave little room for doubt.

One EPA office director actually demanded that the endangerment-challenging study be barred from circulation within the agency, never disclosed to the public, and not placed in the docket of the proceeding. And, as Kazman observed dead-on, the communications between that EPA National Center for Environmental Economics (NCEE) Office Director -- Al McGartland -- and study author Alan Carlin, an NCEE Senior Operations Research Analyst, made clear that it was the study’s conclusions rather than its merit that earned it its place on the trash heap.

In a March 16 email to McGartland (who in a prior email had forbade his speaking to anyone outside NCEE on endangerment issues) and three other NCEE staffers, Carlin requested that his study be forwarded to EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation (OAR), which directs EPA’s climate change program. Carlin pointed out that roughly two-thirds of his references were from peer-reviewed publications and that his comments “explain much of the observational data that have been collected which cannot be explained by the IPCC models.”

The next day, Carlin received two emails from McGartland. The first announced the director’s decision not to forward Carlin’s comments to OAR, explaining that he could “only see one impact of your comments given where we are in the process, and that would be a very negative impact on our office.” The second was a direct order arriving eight minutes later: “I don’t want you to spend any additional EPA time on climate change.”

Now that’s democratic public commentary at work. Can’t imagine why the term bureaucrat is more often than not slung pejoratively.

In all likelihood, the threat of CO2 regulation is merely an Administration ruse to coerce legislation. And Waxman-Markey is short on votes, even with proponents in both Houses pushing their skeptical colleagues to capitulate rather than ordain the EPA as the most powerful agency in the country. Remove that specter and remove with it the cap-and-trader’s ace-in-the-hole. Both at home and in Copenhagen in December.

Writes Kazman: “CEI hereby requests that EPA make this study public, place it into the docket, and either extend or reopen the comment period to allow public response to this new study. We also request that EPA publicly declare that it will engage in no reprisals against the author of the study, who has worked at EPA for over 35 years.”

The attorney reminded the agency of Obama’s April 27th speech to the National Academy of Sciences, in which he declared that “under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.”

He might have also mentioned that during her confirmation hearings in January, Lisa Jackson assured the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, "If I am confirmed, I will administer with science as my guide,” adding that “political appointees will not compromise the integrity of EPA's technical experts to advance particular regulatory outcomes."

At the time, we mocked the glaring absurdity of both oaths. Now we denounce their impudence. And their own mockery of process.


Don’t treat C02 as a pollutant

From higher energy bills to lost jobs, the impact of carbon regulations will hurt us far more than CO2 itself ever could

A few days before this year's Earth Day, America's ideological greens received a present they have been desiring for years: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – responding to a 2007 US Supreme Court ruling – officially designated carbon dioxide (CO2) as a pollutant. That spurred Democrats in Congress to push a major climate change bill. In the next 25 years, their massive cap-and-trade scheme would, according to a Heritage Foundation study, inflict gross domestic product losses of $9.4 trillion, raise an average family's energy bill by $1,241, and destroy some 1,145,000 jobs. Democrats want it passed by July 4.

Get ready for a veritable Pandora's box of complications.

A generation ago, it was considered great progress against pollution when catalytic converters were added to automobile engines to change poisonous carbon monoxide to benign carbon dioxide. Now, CO2 has been demoted.

The EPA's characterization of CO2 as a pollutant brings into question the natural order of things. By the EPA's logic, either God or Mother Nature (whichever creator you believe in) seriously goofed. After all, CO2 is the base of our food chain. "Pollutants" are supposed to be harmful to life, not helpful to it, aren't they?

Of course, it is true (although environmentalists often ignore it when trying to ban such useful chemicals as pesticides, insecticides, Alar, PCBs, and others) that "the dose makes the poison." Too much oxygen, for example, poses danger to human life. So what is the "right" concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere? There is no right answer to this question. The concentration of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere fluctuated greatly long before humans appeared on Earth, and that concentration has fluctuated since then, too.

The current concentration is approximately 385 parts per million. Some scientists maintain that 1,000 parts per million would provide an ideal atmosphere for plant life, accelerating plant growth and multiplying yields, thereby sustaining far more animal and human life than is currently possible. Whatever standard the EPA selects will be arbitrary.

"Forget about the plants," say the greens. "What we're trying to control is how warm Earth's atmosphere gets." To which I reply, "With all due respect, are you kidding me?"

As with a "right" concentration of CO2, what is the "right" average global temperature? For 7,000 of the past 10,000 years, Earth was cooler than it is now; mankind prospers more in warm climates than cold climates; and the Antarctic icecap was significantly larger during the warmer mid-Holocene period than it is today. Are you sure warmer is bad or wrong?

And how do you propose to regulate Earth's temperature when as much as three-quarters of the variability is due to variations in solar activity, with the remaining one-quarter due to changes in Earth's orbit, axis, and albedo (reflectivity)? This truly is "mission impossible." Mankind can no more regulate Earth's temperature than it can the tides. Even if the "greenhouse effect" were greater than it actually is, the EPA and Congress would be powerless to alter it for several reasons:

1. Human activity accounts for less than 4 percent of global CO2 emissions.

2. CO2 itself accounts for only 10 or 20 percent of the greenhouse effect. This discloses the capricious nature of the EPA's decision to classify CO2 as a pollutant, for if CO2 is a pollutant because it is a greenhouse gas, then the most common greenhouse gas of all – water vapor, which accounts for more than three-quarters of the atmosphere's greenhouse effect – should be regulated, too. The EPA isn't going after water vapor, of course, because then everyone would realize how absurd climate-control regulation really is.

3. Even if Americans were to eliminate their CO2 emissions completely, total human emissions of CO2 would still increase as billions of people around the world continue to develop economically.

Clearly, it is beyond the ken of mortals to answer the metaquestions about the right concentration of CO2, or the optimal global average temperature, or to control CO2 levels in the atmosphere. I feel sorry for the professionals at the EPA who are now expected to come up with answers for these unanswerable questions.

However, I do not feel sorry for the political appointees, like climate czar Carol Browner, because it looks as if they are about to get what they evidently want – the power to increase their power over Americans' lives and pocketbooks via CO2 emission regulations.

From higher energy bills to lost jobs, the impact of CO2 regulations will hurt us far more than CO2 itself ever could. Let's nail shut the lid on this Pandora's box before it swings wide open.



Four articles below

Global warming isn't real, says Senator Fielding

Family First senator Steve Fielding has made up his mind on climate change - the world is not warming now, and humans aren't changing the climate. The government and the country's top scientists have tried to convince Senator Fielding, who holds a crucial vote in the upper house, that global warming is real. But he's released a document setting out his position.

"Global temperature isn't rising," it says. On emissions trading, Senator Fielding said he wouldn't risk job losses on "unconvincing green science". The document says it is a "fact" that the evidence does not support the notion that greenhouse gas emissions are causing dangerous global warming.

Senator Fielding later sought to clarify his position, saying he believed in global warming, but he did not think the world was warming now and did not think humans were causing global warming. "Over the last 15 years, global temperatures haven't been going up and, therefore, there hasn't been in the last 15 years a period of global warming," Senator Fielding told AAP. "I think that global warming is real, and climate change is real, but on average global temperatures have stayed steady while carbon emissions have increased over the last 15 years. "Man-made carbon emissions don't appear to be causing it."

Because of the numbers in the upper house, Senator Fielding's verdict means the government will have to rely on the opposition to get its emissions trading scheme (ETS) legislation passed. The Senate was initially supposed to vote on the ETS this week, but that now appears unlikely as the legislation has been shunted towards the bottom of the agenda....


Senate conservatives delay vote on Warmist laws

KEVIN Rudd attacked the Coalition yesterday for deferring a vote on the emissions trading scheme until August, saying it was more evidence of Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull's "lack of leadership". "They have such strength of leadership that they have now resolved to vote not to vote ... They cannot unite themselves even to bring on a vote for the simple reason that they fear that they will split right down the middle," the Prime Minister said during question time.

The Coalition wants to delay a final vote on the laws until after the UN climate meeting in Copenhagen in December, but Mr Turnbull told the Business Council of Australia last week he wanted to avoid a double-dissolution election on the issue.

Yesterday's delay was achieved through a deal between the Coalition and Independent senator Nick Xenophon, in which the Coalition promised to bring the laws to a vote for the first time when the Senate resumes after the winter break in August. That commitment means the government could bring them on for a second vote in November, just before the Copenhagen conference, with the necessary three-month interregnum for that vote to be the one that decides whether they become a possible trigger for a double-dissolution election.

Business lobbyists welcomed the delay because it gives them time to finalise negotiations with the government over crucial regulations and proposed compensation. But the Climate Institute think tank said the delay "further hinders low carbon investments and hurts Australia's global credibility".

"Stretching out the squabbles in the Senate on clean energy and low carbon industrial legislation like the renewable energy target and now the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme helps nobody," Climate Institute chief executive John Connor said. The delay came as the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry released a study into the effects of the scheme on small and medium businesses including food processing, plastics and chemicals, and machinery and equipment manufacturing.

The study found the scheme would generate extra costs that would reduce the firms' profitability by between 4 and 7 per cent. A large part of that impact came from the expected inclusion of transport fuels in the scheme from 2014.

Mr Turnbull and his climate change spokesman Greg Hunt have indicated the opposition is "predisposed" to support the government's proposed 20 per cent renewable energy target after it has been considered by a Senate committee, but several Coalition MPs at yesterday's party meeting said they were not inclined to support the laws.


Major changes in views on the environment

We live in a world in which we are constantly bombarded with the results of surveys about attitudes to political, social and economic issues of the day. Even the Australian Statistician undertakes surveys that produce subjective data that has potential implications for government policies.

The state of the environment is a prime survey target as it is now of considerable interest to a high proportion of the community. It is not surprising, then, that last week the Statistician undertook a survey covering environmental views and behaviour. This is the Bureau's first such survey and I examined it with considerable interest.

That led me to write to the Statistician querying the approach adopted and pointing out the importance of taking the utmost care in surveying present attitudes on the environment. What I had particularly in mind was not only the legislation on an emissions trading scheme (ETS) to be debated in the Senate but also the international meeting (in December) in Copenhagen on the mooted global scheme to reduce CO2 emissions.

The attitudes (supposedly) adopted by the Australian public on such issues could have a significant influence on relevant policies adopted by our government and opposition parties. A survey of such attitudes by the normally respected Statistician would assume even greater significance than one by firms involved in the survey business.

The basis of my querying the Statistician is that, while the questions seem largely to fall into the category of having obvious answers, they could be quoted as providing general support for government policies to reduce emissions. The basic survey question was "Are you concerned or not concerned about climate change, water shortage and accumulation of waste". It was the only question asked relevant to those issues.

Faced with such a question, it would be difficult to imagine a majority "Not concerned" answer. That in fact was the case, with "concern" being expressed by nine out of ten about water shortages, around three-quarters about climate change and nearly seventy per cent about the accumulation of waste.

My letter to the Statistician suggested it would have been more meaningful to adopt the approach of some surveys overseas and attempt to identify a wider range of aspects on which people assess environmental issues For example, in surveying views on global warming, the Gallup poll in the US asks "thinking about what is said in the news, in your view is the seriousness of global warming - [generally exaggerated, generally correct or is it under-estimated]?" Note also that the Gallup survey is about global warming not the meaningless concept of "climate change" used by the Statistician.

The US Gallup poll is of particular interest given the reported "passionate" belief of President Obama that the world faces a serious threat of dangerously high temperatures from increasing emissions and the current consideration by Congress of ETS legislation also. Importantly, the Gallup poll for March recorded a big jump in Americans judging the seriousness of global warming to be exaggerated, up to 41 per cent from 31 in 2005 and 35 last year. Evidently the President's passion has had little effect so far.

This Gallup polling also produces a rating of seriousness of various environmental issues and, of eight environmental issues (including water supply and water and air pollution), global warming not only ranked last but had fallen by 6 percentage points in extent of concern since last year. Although a general diminution of concern about environmental issues was to be expected given the economic downturn, the continued relatively low ranking for global warming led Gallup to suggest "something unique may be happening with the issue".

Also of considerable interest is the latest survey by the Pew Research Center. This shows that "Protecting the environment" has dropped from tenth to sixteenth on the priority issues for American voters and global warming was last on the top twenty priority list.

These surveys have obvious implications in terms of the all-important US policy position on global warming- and should also do so for the policy positions of Australia's political parties too. Unfortunately, our major political parties seem way behind the ball game in gauging both community attitudes and the fundamental flaws in the science used in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


GREENWASH: Shopping centre reserves parking for hybrid vehicles

Shopping mall operator Westfield has installed hybrid-only car-parking spaces at some of their shopping centres.

Here’s a pic I took this morning of the spaces at Westfield Hornsby in Sydney. They are sited directly opposite the main entry. They are empty. They usually are.

What I find fascinating about this is that Hornsby is a battlers’ area so there are very few Toyota Prius cars or other hybrids. Some have noted that the hybrid Lexus RX400h SUV produces 192g/km of CO2 but the non-hybrid Volkswagen Golf 118TSI produces 144g/km of CO2, suggesting that the hybrid designation is arbitrary and does little to assist the environment.

Basically all Westfield have done is removed two of the best parking spaces in the complex and allocated them to those wealthy but environmentally conscious souls who had the money to buy one of these expensive motor vehicles. [VEXNEWS: We are reminded of the former Soviet Union with its special express lanes on highways for ministerial vehicles in the form of Zim limousines. All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.]

This does not benefit their customers, the only benefit is to Westfield. This pointless action gives them a warm, fuzzy inner-glow and something to boast about in corporate communications and with pesky left-wing environment reporters keen to denigrate Westfield’s big shrines to retail as concrete eyesores.

SOURCE (See the original for pix)


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


Wednesday, June 24, 2009


This sure shows that the bill is about political power -- not the climate

Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of heat-trapping gases that cause global warming, but President Obama's plan to fight climate change would result in the nation burning more coal a decade from now than it does today. The administration's plan, the centerpiece of a 700-page legislative package, proposes strict limits on emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide.

But to attract vital support from congressional Democrats representing heavily coal-dependent areas, authors of the legislation, including Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills), have made a series of concessions that substantially soften its effect on coal -- at least over the next decade or so. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency projects that even if the emissions limits go into effect, the U.S. would use more carbon-dioxide-heavy coal in 2020 than it did in 2005.

That's because the bill gives utilities a financial incentive to keep burning coal by joining the cap-and-trade system -- a kind of marketplace where polluters could reduce their emissions on paper by buying pollution reductions created by others. These so-called offsets, for example, could be created and sold by farmers who planted trees, which filter carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Environmental groups also say the bill could set off a boom in the construction of new coal plants because of provisions that would restrict legal efforts to block such projects.

Leading Democrats -- and some major conservation groups, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council -- say the moves have helped attract coal-district Democrats to support the bill without undermining the plan's environmental goals. "We've ensured a role for coal" in the nation's energy future, said Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), one of the leading coal champions in the House.

But some environmentalists remain skeptical that offsets can reduce greenhouse gases to avoid catastrophic warming of the atmosphere. "This is greens making a deal with the devil," said Ted Nordhaus, chairman of the Breakthrough Institute, an environmentalist think tank that recently completed a detailed critique of the bill's coal provisions.

Obama and House leaders "gave the coal guys everything they wanted," said Michael Shellenberger, the institute's president. "The result is legislation that, when all is said and done, will increase coal generation and make it harder to move away from it."

The EPA projects Obama's plan would slow the growth in coal over what would have occurred in the absence of emission limits. Emissions from coal would grow at roughly the same rate as overall coal use, until "clean coal" technology becomes commercially viable.


Some concentrated skepticism from Britain

Melting ice caps,global warming,our favourite foods giving us cancer. The doom-mongers love to tell uswe're all going to hell in a handcart. But don't panic! A new book uncovers some inconvenient truths that give the pessimists pause for thought ...

The overwhelming scientific consensus is that we are all going to hell in a handcart. Climate change - the inexorable warming of Earth's atmosphere caused by mankind's addiction to fossil fuels - is to blame for what we are told will be a parched and inhospitable future. The polar ice caps will melt, causing sea levels to rise. Vast swathes of the world will flood, drowning some of our greatest cities - and a great many polar bears.

It gets worse: we also face a plague of obesity, heart disease and diabetes as we consume a growing mountain of fatty fast food. And if that weren't enough, increasing amounts of chemicals and radiation in our environment are causing an epidemic of cancer. This is the consensus view and to question it is, at best, to be labelled naive and, at worst, a heretic.

But a stubborn band of thinkers persists in questioning this grim, accepted view, pointing to inconvenient truths which do not fit the doom-and-gloom narrative. Indeed, this group of prominent scientists is picking holes in the doomsday consensus. Many of these theories now appear in a new book by Stanley Feldman, a professor of anaesthetics at London University, and Vincent Marks, a former professor of clinical biochemistry and dean of medicine at the University of Surrey.

Here are some of their more awkward discoveries, which may yet give the pessimists pause for thought...


The consensus view is that man-made CO2 is causing the lion's share of global warming. But natural changes in the Sun's power may be as much to blame.

There is good evidence that the cause of at least some of global warming is an increase in the intensity of the Sun's heat. Indeed, global temperatures appear to be more closely related to solar activity, which is constantly changing, than to levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

After all, the Earth warmed up more during medieval times than during the 20th century, and it cooled down considerably during the Little Ice Age of the 16th and 17th centuries - without any manmade event that would have affected CO2 output. Temperatures also dipped between 1940 and 1975 - a period of intense industrial activity.

Meanwhile, data from between 1880 and 2000 shows a close correlation between increased solar activity and higher average temperatures on Earth. So couldn't it be that the Sun is responsible for heating us up after all?


It has become a key part of the climate change mantra that some of the world's most beautiful islands are at risk of sinking below the waves, thanks to sea level rises caused by global warming.

But so confident are property owners in the Maldives that the sea is receding, they are building a flurry of lavish seafront hotels. Meanwhile, Tuvalu in the Pacific - also cited as being most at risk - has actually seen a fall in sea levels.


Today, about 0.038 per cent of the atmosphere consists of carbon dioxide, the main man-made climate change gas. This figure has certainly risen over the past 200 years or so - the 'pre-industrial' level of CO2 was closer to 0.02 per cent.

But what is often ignored is that in the Earth's past, carbon dioxide levels have often been as much as ten times higher than they are today.

For example, during the Cretaceous era, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, CO2 levels were five to ten times what they are today. The planet was certainly warmer then, but life thrived and there was no runaway greenhouse catastrophe of the sort that the doom-mongers insist we face if we let levels rise further. They also, it should be noted, came down again naturally.


The doom-mongers love showing us images of polar bears in peril, floating on isolated ice rafts. But most populations are doing very well, thank you. Despite the (limited) melting seen in the Arctic ice cap over the past 50 years, polar bear numbers have more than doubled since 1950 - and that's despite the fact that 50 to 100 bears are now shot every year.

Indeed, polar bears aren't bothered by the odd stretch of open water - they are very capable swimmers. In fact, it is not even clear that the Arctic ice is melting. The summer of 2008 was the coldest in Anchorage, Alaska, for 40 years.


And it's a similar story at the South Pole. Although some Antarctic penguin colonies, especially those near human bases, have decreased in size, overall, penguin numbers are steady or increasing.


Some scientists have warned that if the Arctic ice cap melts, the resulting flood of cold water in the Atlantic could push the Gulf Stream - the warm current which keeps Britain relatively balmy - further south. If this happens, they have made dire predictions that northern Europe could become a frozen wasteland.

Unfortunately for them, there is no evidence to support this view. In fact, the Gulf Stream is as strong as ever - and is getting warmer, not colder. Nor is it changing direction.


A warmer climate and an increase in CO2 will be a boon for farming and agriculture in general. One can even envisage returning to the warmer landscape of Roman times, when vineyards were common in England.

With less severe winters, it will also be possible to grow many crops that, because they are susceptible to the occasional frost, cannot be grown at present.



Access to green technology is becoming a growing stumbling block in global efforts to fight climate change, with US lawmakers bristling at what they see as China's attempt to "steal" US know-how. China and India have led calls for developed nations to share technology to help them battle global warming as the clock ticks to a December meeting in Copenhagen meant to seal a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

The US House of Representatives this month unanimously voted to make it US policy to prevent the Copenhagen treaty from "weakening" US intellectual property rights on a wind, solar and other eco-friendly technologies. Congressman Rick Larsen, a member of President Barack Obama's Democratic Party who authored the measure, said the United States was caught between concern both over the climate and its soaring trade deficit with China.

"The US can be part of China's solution for the problems that they admittedly have with energy efficiency and emissions. And I think legitimately we want to be part of that solution -- we're the two largest emitters of C02 in the world," Larsen said. "But we need to couple being part of that solution with making it part of the solution on the trade deficit as well," he said ahead of the measure's approval.

Representative Mark Kirk, a Republican who joined Larsen on a recent trip to China, said that climate change was the most contentious issue during talks with Chinese leaders. Kirk said the Chinese essentially were seeking "the stealing of all intellectual property" related to energy efficiency and climate change. Kirk warned that China's position could change the political dynamics in Washington, where promoters of a bill to force emission cuts say the United States stands to create millions of jobs in a new green economy. "Right now a number of green industries like the climate change bill coming out. But if an international treaty sanctions the theft of their intellectual property, then there will be hardly any green jobs built in the United States," Kirk said.

The United States is the only major industrialized nation to reject the Kyoto Protocol, with former president George W. Bush saying it was unfair by making no demands of fast-growing developing nations such as China and India. Despite a recession, President Barack Obama has vowed to work to halt the planet's warming, which UN scientists warn will threaten severe weather and the extinction of plant and animal species later this century if unchecked.

More than 180 countries promised at a December 2007 meeting in Bali, Indonesia to take part in the next global treaty with a "common but differentiated responsibility" for developed and developing economies. But 12 days of talks this month in Bonn came up with no visible progress, with top Chinese negotiator Li Gao accusing rich nations of reneging on sharing technology and watering down commitments to cut emissions. "There is an attempt to obliterate the principle of 'common but differentiated responsibility' and to split up the developing countries," Li told China's state Xinhua news agency. Shyam Saran, India's envoy on climate change, also criticized rich nations, which he said bore the historic responsibility for climate change. India has proposed setting up global "innovation centers" to work on green technology.

A report last month by experts for the UN climate body called for a "balanced" approach, stressing the importance of intellectual property rights but saying all nations needed to accept the terms. Technology transfer "is certainly a big and important question that might be a roadblock" in global negotiations, said Daniel Kessler of Greenpeace. The environmental group has called for public and private funds on climate change to be pooled into an independent global body, funded to the tune of at least 140 billion dollars a year. But such funding may prove hard to come by. The European Union, champion of the Kyoto Protocol, has come under fire from environmentalists for declining to put a figure on climate aid, saying it is waiting to see other nations' proposals.



President Obama, in close discussions with Energy Secretary Stephen Chu and Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach is to give the green light for US consumption of oil sand oil, or rather the import of fuels considered among the "dirtiest" in the fuel market. In a meeting last week, President Obama decided that the Canada's oil sands represented an important part of national security supplies for petroleum in America's near future.

The move is not without immediate precedent, as Francois Cardinal at cybercress.ca notes, both Hillary Clinton had offered support for oil sands at a recent conference on energy security, and Obama's national Security adviser General Jim Jones was similarly adamant that the US would be foolish to reject the possibility of a stable source from a close partner in Canada.

The move will disappoint many in the green movement, given Obama has previously been less supportive of oil sands, noting that the Us needed to ween itself off dirty and dangerous oil supplies.



It's a beautiful day outside; clear blue sky, scarcely the whisper of a breeze, temperature hovering around a gently cossetting 20C, greenfinch wheezing away nearby. This is good news for me because as soon as I finish this article I intend to spend the rest of the day under the horse chestnut tree with a pitcher of neat alcohol. But it is also good news for Britain and the rest of the world.

Last Thursday we were all frightened out of our wits by a new report from the Met Office about what life in Britain would be like in 2080: scorching African sun, all the crops dying, plagues of locusts and mosquitos. Cows collapsing in the fields because they had not worn enough Factor 30; half of Yorkshire and Norfolk washed away by the sea, middle England flooded by swollen rivers, Essex a lifeless arid desert (no change there, then); impeccably well-mannered middle-class people on their knees sucking the last molecules of moisture from dusty, exhausted standpipes in Notting Hill; famine, pestilence and death flapping its wings over our heads like a big black bat, cackling to itself.

This was the UK Climate Projections 2009, as envisaged by the Met Office and presented by a dutifully grave Hilary Benn, who insisted that we all had a responsibility to do something, anything, to stave off this apocalypse. So I did. I checked out the Met Office forecast for my village for the next 48 hours. Cloudy, it said. Bit of rain. Temperature of 17C, wind gusting at a remarkably precise 31mph, it said. Short of predicting 6ft snowdrifts, ball lightning and gallons of newts falling from the sky, how much more wrong could it be?

And if it is that wrong over a forecast for the next 48 hours, how much faith should we have when it tells us, with a sort of smug and overweening confidence, what's going to happen in 70 years' time? How about none whatsoever?

Something terrible has happened to our weathermen since that evening in October 1987 when Michael Fish, with a patronising smirk, assured us we need not worry our silly heads about any of this hurricane nonsense - about five hours before Britain was flattened.

I think it is a case of Met Office overcompensation. These days they have hair-trigger reactions and are given to biblical pronouncements. Last weekend, for example, we were assured that by Monday we would all be drowned, with vast swathes of the country submerged by floods. It did not happen, anywhere. Thank the Lord the Met Office wasn't around in Noah's day with its comprehensive five-day forecast for the Ararat region or that dove would never have been released.


Global warming: The science is not settled

By J. Winston Porter (J. Winston Porter is president of Environmental Strategies in Leesburg, Va., and was formerly an assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Will Rogers once quipped that it's "what we know that ain't so" that gets us in trouble. This might well apply to global warming , where the "science is settled" side is rapidly pushing massive plans in Congress to reduce carbon dioxide. But the science is not settled. If it were, we would have great confidence in all these statements: 1) the world is getting warmer, 2) that's more bad than good, 3) humans are causing the warming, and 4) we know how to fix the problem.

If either of the first two statements is wrong, then warming is not a crisis. If either of the last two is not correct, we can't fix it. What are the chances that all four are true?

To find out, we must multiply the four individual probabilities by each other. For example, if each statement has a 70 percent chance of being correct, the overall probability is just 24 percent that all are true. Let's now look at these four issues.

The world is getting warmer. Complex and controversial computer models are used to predict future temperatures. But all we really "know" is based on actual measurements. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the world has warmed about 0.8 degrees centigrade since 1880.

Early in this period, ocean temperatures were measured by dropping a bucket overboard and sticking a thermometer in it. Techniques evolved over time, leading to the use of satellites over the past 30 years.

Scientists have spent years massaging these data, but it's hard to compare buckets and satellites, particularly with such small temperature changes. To further complicate things, over the last decade, global temperatures have cooled. Also, it now seems that the hottest years of the last century were in the 1930s, not the 1990s, as we had been told earlier. So, how confident are we of even measured temperatures, not to mention ones predicted by computer simulations of the entire world's climate?

Warming is more bad than good. Any temperature changes, up or down, will have both positive and negative impacts. Extreme cold conditions lead to more deaths than hot ones. Warming conditions cause ocean levels to rise, but also allow forests and crops to grow faster. Effects can also be regional; there is some ice melting in the Arctic, but ice is increasing in the larger Antarctic. Are we really sure that the world is at just the right temperature, and any increases will be catastrophic?

Humans are causing the warming. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have increased over the last century or so. But water vapor still provides over 95 percent of greenhouse gas influences. So, how likely is it that the very small percent of carbon dioxide produced by humans is causing warming?

The IPCC's 2007 science report lists seven global warming indicators. For two of these indicators, it is said to be "likely" (at least 66 percent chance) that mankind is a contributor, and for the other five, human contributions are deemed "more likely than not" (at least 51 percent chance). Hardly a ringing endorsement of human-caused global warming !

We know how to fix global warming. Congress and the administration think so, as they steam ahead with "cap and trade" or other costly schemes to control carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, scientists are still studying fixes ranging from focusing more on other greenhouse gases to reducing deforestation to shooting particulates into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight. Others suggest that we simply adapt, if necessary, to possible warming impacts, such as slow increases in ocean water levels.

The bottom line: We don't know enough to spend megabucks on speculative solutions to what may be a nonproblem. Instead, let's move ahead on two common-sense fronts.

First, we should expand measures which make sense from several angles, including possible warming. Improved energy efficiencies, cleaner coal technologies and more nuclear power all make sense. Wind and solar can also play a role.

Second, we need serious scientific debate of the four issues I raised. But this time, let's listen carefully to both believers and skeptics. That's the way science is supposed to work.



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


Tuesday, June 23, 2009


An email from Norm Kalmanovitch [kalhnd@shaw.ca]

The actual science mandate of the IPCC was simply to investigate and quantify possible human causes for the observed warming of the past century. This mandate is so simple and straightforward that a team of just half a dozen researchers could have fulfilled this mandate within a few weeks, yet with over 2500 scientists, the IPCC has operated for over twenty years, produced four major reports, had countless meetings and conventions around the world, but still has not even come close to fulfilling their original mandate.

The first order of business to meet the mandate should have been to define a reference temperature dataset on which to evaluate the global temperature changes. Satellites had been recording global temperatures for ten years at the time of the IPCC formation, and since these measurements are far more precise and completely free of the physical biases of land based temperature data, this would have made the perfect reference.

Global temperature is an instantaneous average of the temperature of all parts of the world, and since this is constantly changing as areas of the world go from day to night, from cloud cover to open sky, and are affected by both warm and cold winds; this temperature cannot actually be measured. What can be measured by satellites is an overall daily average which can be summed into and displayed as a monthly average. From this, the best that can be determined is a temperature trend; i.e. global warming or global cooling.

Since temperature is the average kinetic energy of a body, global warming would require the addition of energy to the measured body, and global cooling would require some loss of energy from this body.

In physical terms this would mean that global warming results from a net addition of energy into the Earth's system relative to the energy leaving the Earth's system through radiation at night, and global cooling (as we are now experiencing) would require a net loss of energy from the Earth's system relative to the energy leaving the Earth's system through radiation at night.

Human contribution to this energy balance could take place, by changing the insulating capacity of the Earth's atmosphere, by changing the reflectivity of the surface through land use, by changing the amount of heat retained by the urban heat island effect, and by the addition of heat energy from sources that are not part of the natural system.

The only one of these factors that could immediately be ruled out is the changes to the insulating capacity of the Earth's atmosphere, because the only human sourced agent that could do that is CO2. Observational evidence from the Nimbus 4 satellite in 1970 clearly shows that most of the possible effect from CO2 on the Earth's radiative spectrum had already been achieved, and this was verified by the fact that during the previous global cooling period from about 1942 to 1975, CO2 emissions were increasing at record rates from post war industrialization. Any increases in the insulating capacity of the Earth's atmosphere from increases in CO2 emissions were obviously having no measurable effect, so the only possible influence from humans would have to come from the other factors mentioned.

Instead of investigating the remaining possible human causes for the observed warming, the IPCC completely dismissed these possible causes, violating its mandate. Instead the IPCC went about promoting the clearly false concept of CO2 emissions causing what is essentially a physically impossible degree of warming, violating not only its mandate, but violating the very essence of science protocol and ethics. Even more repulsive to any honest scientist was that the IPCC adopted this false concept as fact making ridiculous claims about potential effects if the globe warmed to the degree that was stated, and using this to promote what can only be assumed is some sort of political agenda.

Today, twenty years after its inception, the world is once again cooling as CO2 continues to rise, and the IPCC is still claiming that the world needs to cater to various carbon trading and taxing schemes to stop global warming, while admitting that there is currently no global warming, and making no predictions about when this global warming will reoccur.

A litre of gasoline produces 8700kcal of heat energy when burned and about 2.4kg of CO2. The heat energy produced is sufficient to heat one km3 of air by 0.0000036°C; the CO2 produced has zero heating effect. Supposedly according to the IPCC, 2500 of the world's top scientists have yet to figure this out.

Leftist commentator on BBC chat show lumps "climate deniers" in with "gay bashers" and "Fascist sympathizers"

Transcript excerpt:


I think this is one of the most alarming aspects of current Conservative policy and it suggests that Cameron’s moderation is something of a veneer if he is willing to leave the mainstream of Europe where Merkel, where Sarkozy are, where power is, where decisions are made and join this very freakish group. I mean I would like to hear from Caroline whether she would say it hasn't been decided yet but all of those likely to form this new alliance if they can get enough of these freakish parties in ,will you say yourself that you will object strongly if it does include any gypsy-haters, any gay-bashers, any fascist sympathizers and any climate deniers? Because if it includes any of those a respectable Conservative party should have nothing to do with it.

Full transcript downloadable HERE. The comment is towards the end of the programme. The remark was greeted with applause from the studio audience.

Reason clouded by CO2 obsession

By Peter Schwerdtfeger, emeritus professor of meteorology at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia

ALTHOUGH there are many doubters of man-made climate change, I am not yet one of them. But I remain unconvinced that carbon dioxide is the sole bete noire. Two decades ago, I pored over the spectral properties of the infra-red radiation of this gas, which is essential to plant life, and found that it was almost completely overshadowed by the radiative properties of water vapour, which is vital to all forms of life on earth.

Repeatedly in science we are reminded that happenings in nature can rarely be ascribed to a single phenomenon. For example, sea levels on our coasts are dependent on winds and astronomical forces as well as atmospheric pressure and, on a different time scale, the temperature profile of the ocean. Now, with complete abandon, a vociferous body of claimants is insisting that CO2 alone is the root of climatic evil.

I fear that many supporters of this view have become carried away by the euphoria of mass or dominant group psyche. Scientists are no more immune from being swayed by the pressure of collective enthusiasm than any other member of the human race. I do not believe for one moment that undisciplined burning of fossil fuels is harmless, but the most awful consequence of the burning of carboniferous fuels is not the release of CO2 but the large-scale injection ofminute particulate pollutants into the atmosphere.

Detailed studies led by internationally acclaimed cloud physicist Daniel Rosenfeld of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have revealed that the minute water vapour droplets that form around some carbon particles are so small as to be almost incapable of being subsequently coalesced into larger precipitable drops. In short, the particulates prevent rainfall.

Rosenfeld's research group has shown that humans are changing the climate in a much more direct way than through the release of CO2. Rather, pollution is seriously inhibiting rain over mountains in semi-arid regions, a phenomenon with dire consequences for water resources in the Middle East and many other parts of the world, including China and Australia.

Rosenfeld is no snake-oil salesman. As an American Meteorological Society medallist, he has an internationally endorsed research record in cloud physics that no living Australian can claim to emulate. It is more than 20 years since Australia was a knowledgeable force in cloud physics and cloud seeding. CSIRO's relevant division has long been disbanded and its cloud-seeding techniques based on the use of expensive silver iodide have been superseded by the Israelis using an inexpensive and far more natural product: sea salt.

Chinese and Israeli researchers have shown that the average precipitation on Mt Hua near Xi'an in central China has decreased by 20per cent amid increasing levels of man-made air pollution during the past 50 years. The precipitation loss was doubled on days that had the poorest visibility because of pollution particles in the air. This explains the widely observed trends of decrease in mountain precipitation relative to the rainfall in nearby densely populated lowlands, which until now had not been directly ascribed to air pollution.

Some of the most chilling evidence was presented by Rosenfeld's Australian-based research associate Aron Gingis in a 2002 submission to the House of Representatives standing committee on agriculture, fisheries and forestry concerning future water supplies for Australia's rural industries and communities.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's satellite map of southeast Australia, enhanced by Rosenfeld, shows the frightening persistence and longevity of pollutant trails across vast areas, including the all-important Snowy Mountains catchments. It may well be concluded that the increasing emissions from the phalanx of brown coal-burning power stations at Hazelwood and other locations in Gippsland, Victoria, have substantially wrecked the natural precipitation processes over the once hydrologically rich Australian Alps.

If Rosenfeld's scientific interpretations are correct, then southern Australia would greatly benefit from the application of his discoveries. At the very least, Rosenfeld's conclusions should be accorded appropriate evaluation and testing by an unprejudiced panel of peers.

Yet his work so far has been ignored in Australia because it does not fit in with the dominant paradigm that holds CO2 responsible for reduced rainfall in semi-arid regions.

Scientists, like all other people, need to remain open to competing views and avoid the danger of being locked into tunnel vision through group obsession, which is what global warming seems to have become.


Fun! Russia to INCREASE its CO2 output

Russia plans to release 30 percent more greenhouse gases by 2020 under an emissions target scheme announced on Friday by President Dmitry Medvedev. The plan would reduce emissions by 10-15 percent from Russia's emissions in 1990 when it was part of the Soviet Union and its emissions were far higher than they are today.

This angered environmentalists, and the target also is likely to fall short of expectations from developing countries. "It's not enough, it's very low," said Alexey Kokorin, the Russia spokesman for environmental protection group WWF.

Medvedev's announcement was interpreted as an opening shot in United Nations negotiations meant to seal a new climate treaty in December to replace the Kyoto Protocol. Under those talks, rich nations are meant to propose mid-term emissions targets. Russia is the last major country to do so.

Green groups and developing countries want industrialized countries to trim their emissions by 25-40 percent below 1990 levels, referring to a range of cuts suggested by a U.N. panel of climate scientists. "Based on the current situation by 2020 we could cut emissions by about 10-15 percent," Medvedev told Russian state television, according to a copy of his comments supplied by the Kremlin.

Arkady Dvorkovich, the Kremlin's chief economic adviser, later clarified to Interfax news agency that the reduction would be from 1990 levels, before the Soviet Union fell and Russia's heavy industry collapsed. Since then, its carbon emissions have returned to an upward curve along with its industrial revival, preserving Russia's place as the world's third largest polluter behind China and the United States.

The target laid out on Friday meant cumulative cuts of 30 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases from 1990 to 2020, Medvedev said. This implies Russia will emit about 3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas in 2020 compared with 2.2 billion tonnes in 2007. "We will not cut off our development potential," Medvedev said.

Under Kyoto, Russia has to return its emissions to 1990 levels by 2008-12. Green groups and developing countries were disappointed last week by Japan's proposals for a 2020 target barely stiffer than its Kyoto Protocol goal, and were again downbeat on Friday after Russia's announcement.


Latest British climate predictions are a joke

Projections by the UK's Climate Impact Programme released on Thursday come with strict caveats about how they should be used and their margin for error. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Met Office argue that, even though the projections are far from certain, they will be useful to help plan for climate change in the UK. But others have warned that the uncertainties in the projections are too great to be of practical use

Defra has produced projections of climate change and consequent weather using advanced computer modelling techniques. Up until now, most projections have been at a sub-continental level - giving information at a regional level in squares of 300km on a side. Defra's projections are among the first in the world to give information at a local level - to the scale of large cities of 25km square and, in some cases, projecting weather patterns to a village scale of 5km square.

The UK's Climate Impacts Programme projections were explicitly designed to help local authority planners and businesses make investment decisions to adapt to the consequence of climate change. But according to Dr Myles Allen of Oxford University, who was among those who carried out an independent review of the projections, said that they may not be reliable enough at this stage to make some of the most important policy decisions. "If your decisions depend on what's happening at these very fine scales of 25 km or even 5 km resolution, then you probably shouldn't be making irreversible investment decisions now," he said.

The review, published on Thursday, says that the projections are "credible" but does raise concerns that the statistical techniques used are untested and have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. The last assessment by a committee set up in 2007 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that these kinds of so-called "probabilistic" projections could only be applied reliably on a global scale - of 1000km square. "The IPCC explicitly stepped back from making probabilistic projections on this sort of scale," said Dr Allen.

"The method that's been used to produce this projection is a very specific one. "It's not been used before for this climate change approach and we thought that it would be helpful to provide a much more conservative method, something the IPCC would have used in 2007 just to provide users with a context and something to compare with so that they can see which aspects of these projections are robust."

Defra has not accepted the recommendation to provide an an alternative set of projections by the independent review panel because officials felt that having two sets would be confusing.

Dr Leonard Smith of the London School of Economics' Grantham Institute says he cannot see how any planner could make decisions on probable climate outcomes that are so uncertain that they might change substantially in 20 years. "It's very hard to find a rational way of using them," he said. "If the numbers are used in a naive way, then you are very likely to design a power plant or reservoir that doesn't meet the needs of the population."

Many in the scientific community were particularly astonished that Defra published projections at a scale of 5km square - which are even more uncertain than the 25km square projections. Among them was Professor Sir David King who was involved in commissioning the projections when he was the government's chief scientific advisor. "If you include a 5km scale in your predictions, you are probably pushing things beyond what is realistic. So I'm a little surprised that scientists were prepared to go that far.



ENERGY bills will hit a shocking £5,000 a year to strike a blow to millions of struggling families, experts warned last night. Consumer champions said the massive sum was a "wake-up call", marking the end of cheap electricity and gas. Bills will rise by up to 42 per cent ayear over the next decade - with the biggest single increase an eye-watering £1,280.

But they said this will be boosted by a yearly £548 to help overhaul the UK's out-of-date energy supply system. And they warned that the huge rise would stretch household budgets to breaking point and dump hundreds of thousands more people into fuel poverty.

Experts at uSwitch.com said that average annual bills have more than doubled from £580 five years ago to £1,243 today. Over the next decade customers will suffer even steeper price rises with fees quadrupling by 2020, they warn. Investment in outdated infrastructure and new green energy policies will drive bills higher.



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


Monday, June 22, 2009

Big embarrassment: Ozone saver is global warmer

THE green movement’s greatest triumph – the abolition of ozone-destroying CFC gases in the 1980s – may become its biggest embarrassment because of research showing that their replacements are sharply accelerating global warming. CFC, or chlorofluorocarbon, gases were widely deployed in air-conditioning and refrigeration units before they were found to destroy the ozone layer and banned under the 1987 Montreal protocol.

They were replaced by HFCs – hydrofluorocarbons – gases that have far less effect on ozone but have since been revealed as extremely powerful greenhouse gases. A ton of HFC23 used in refrigeration has the same global warming potential as 14,800 tons of CO2. A ton of HFC-134a, widely used in vehicle air-conditioning units, is equivalent to 1,430 tons of CO2. The problem has been increased by the rising demand for refrigeration and air-conditioning because of economic expansion and population growth in Asia.

A study out this week will warn that, by 2050, HFCs could account for up to 19% of global warming. “By 2050, the contribution of HFCs to global warming will be more than that of current global CO2 emissions from houses and office buildings,” said Guus Velders of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, who did the research. “The contribution of HFCs to global warming is currently small, but can increase to between 9% and 19% of the total contribution by 2050.” CO2 He found that by 2050 the demand for HFCs was likely to have increased by 800% compared with today’s figures.

A separate study by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a campaign group, found that the biggest source of HFC emissions entering the atmosphere was air-conditioning in vehicles. Large amounts are also released in the manufacture of insulating foam used to make buildings more energy efficient. Commercial refrigeration, including shop, restaurant and hotel chiller cabinets, are another big source.

The problem with air-conditioning and refrigeration units is that they leak the HFC coolants into the air, with about 30% lost each year. This means that HFC production has to rise to keep pace with new units and losses from existing ones.

The EIA said: “Atmospheric concentrations of hydrofluorocarbons are rising at about 15% per year, faster than any of the other [main] greenhouse gases, even though there are viable alternatives available that do much less damage.”

In 2005, global production of HFCs was estimated at 280,000 tons, roughly equivalent to half a billion tons of CO2 governmental Panel on Climate Change predicts this will rise to the equivalent of 1.2 bil by 2015. lion tons of CO2 Tony Juniper, the former director of Friends of the Earth, who was involved in campaigning against CFCs in the 1980s and 1990s, said industry had long known about the global warming threat from HFCs.

“We did not know so much about HFCs back in the 1980s,” he said. “But the evidence about them has been around since the 1990s and that should have given policy makers and business time to replace them too. “The Montreal treaty was still a triumph in avoiding an ecological catastrophe that would have followed the loss of the ozone layer. [Rubbish! There is NO sign that the Antarctic ozone hole is shrinking. It is just oscillating from year to year as it always did. Bring back CFCs!] Now we need to use that experience to avoid the threat of destruction from global warming.”


Beware the Greenies who think people are parasites

Eco-terrorism is a manifestation of the human-baiting in modern culture, contends Brendan O'Neill

IN earlier eras, from biblical times to the dawn of the Enlightenment, Earth was seen as the property of man, something we should conquer and tame and use to our advantage. Mankind should have "dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and every other living thing that moves on the Earth", said God in the book of Genesis. Even more forthrightly, a follower of the great scientific thinker Francis Bacon (1561-1626) said man should "put nature on the rack" and extract its secrets.

Today, by contrast, man is seen not as the owner of Earth but as a pox on it. We're an alien presence, an infestation, a malady that has made the planet terminally ill. Indeed, some now argue that Earth needs to be "liberated" from human beings, set free from our toxic presence so that it can revert to being a wild, unspoiled ball of water and gas hurtling happily through space.

That is the implication behind the name of a campaign group that popped up in Melbourne recently. The Earth Liberation Front secretly visited the home of Graeme York, boss of the Hazelwood Power Station in Victoria, and hand-delivered what has been described as a menacing letter. It threatened to harm York's property if he didn't stop polluting the planet by producing all that pesky electricity.

The ELF is an eccentric, misanthropic gang. It was founded in Brighton, England, in the early 1990s, as a sister organisation to the Animal Liberation Front, and has since gone global, carrying out an estimated 17 guerilla attacks across the world. In 2001 the FBI classified it as the main domestic terror threat in the US. Where the ALF only wanted to liberate rabbits and rats from humanity's evil grip, ELF ominously thinks the planet itself should be freed from our reign of terror, and perhaps emptied of humans altogether.

It is tempting to write off the ELF as a small, crazed group of dreadlock-sporting crusties that spout the kind of eco-nonsense most of us find offensive. Tempting, but wrong. In truth, the idea that humans are a fundamentally destructive presence on Earth, a carbuncle or itchy sore, is now widespread, even respectable and fashionable. The ELF can be seen as a crude physical manifestation of the humanity-baiting that informs much of mainstream environmentalism and contemporary thought.

John Gray, one of Britain's most respected intellectuals and until recently the professor of European thought at the London School of Economics, says humanity is a "plague on the planet". He echoes James Lovelock, the Gaia-inventing granddaddy of modern environmentalism, who thinks we have become a disease: "Humans on Earth behave in some ways like a pathogenic organism, or like the cells of a tumour or neoplasm. The human species is now so numerous as to constitute a serious planetary malady." From this warped point of view, it makes perfect sense to "liberate" Earth from humanity, in the same way a surgeon "liberates" a person's body from a cancerous growth.

Many now believe that natural disasters or the emergence of new diseases are attempts by Gaia to rid "herself" of the human virus.

The American novelist Kurt Vonnegut, hero to disaffected youth, said shortly before his death in 2007: "I think the Earth's immune system is trying to get rid of us. And it's high time it did."

In the 80s, Earth First! -- then a rather trendy environmentalist outfit, which later spawned the ELF -- said "the possible benefits of (AIDS) to the environment are staggering: just as the plague contributed to the demise of feudalism, AIDS has the potential to end industrialism." This view of humans as a pox has trickled down into popular culture. In the hugely popular Matrix films, one of the sinister agents sent to infiltrate humanity says: "Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague and we are the cure." Now the ELF fancies itself as the cure.

Even today's less hysterical and officially endorsed environmentalist campaigns treat the human presence on Earth as something shameful and dirty. Terms like "human footprint" and "human impact", used everywhere from school classrooms to newspaper reports, suggest that humans have an ultimately corrosive relationship with the poor beleaguered Earth.

Indeed, it is striking that the ELF chose to focus on the problem of electricity generation in its threatening letter to York, just months after this year's UN-endorsed Earth Hour, when 1 billion people across the world were encouraged to turn out their lights for one hour. The Sydney Opera House turned its lights down; cities around the world fell into a voluntary darkness. This sent the powerful message that humans have interfered too much with the planet and that buzzing cities, lit-up buildings and light itself are things we should be ashamed of.

The ELF took this mainstream message to its logical guerilla conclusion when it threatened one of the men responsible for generating electricity.

The threat of the ELF should be taken seriously by law enforcement agencies, but in order to really challenge such groups we will have to take up the misanthropy of modern society. Humans have not destroyed the planet; we have humanised it, turning what without us would be another pointless planet orbiting the sun into a place of abundance, community, exploration. We don't need to rein in the "human footprint" but rather stamp it even more indelibly on our planet, and in the future, on other planets too.


Greens told no alternative to fossil fuels

Saudi oil boss says that despite the world push towards greener energy, there is no choice but to rely on fossil fuels

LISTEN to ministers and green campaigners and you would think that we are on a happy path to greener energy, with renewable sources of power freeing us from reliance on fossil fuels.

It is a pipe dream, according to a leader of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry. Abdallah Jum’ah, who stepped down last year as chief executive of Saudi Aram-co, the state-owned oil company, said objective assessment of the world’s energy needs showed renewable resources would provide only a minute share of what was required. Oil, gas and coal would remain the fuels of choice - and there was plenty of oil left, he told the Royal Academy of Engineering last week.

Jum’ah’s words will anger environmentalists, economists and former oil-industry executives who have argued we are near peak oil production, and that it will run out sooner rather than later. Renewable energy will grow at a faster rate than oil, but the supply will remain small, said Jum’ah.

“The volume of new energy supplied by renewables will still be only half of the additional energy provided by oil or by gas and only a fourth of the new energy expected to come from coal,” he said.

Much “renewable” energy was generated by burning wood and other biomass for heating and cooking in the poorest countries – energy use that is “neither environmentally friendly nor efficient”.

“Geothermal, wind and similar renewables account for less than 1% of today’s energy supply, meaning breakthroughs in efficiency and economic performance, and sizeable investments in infrastructure, will be required before they have a large impact. An objective assessment shows they face considerable obstacles.”

While renewables were struggling to get off the ground, the world’s demand for energy would grow quickly. The International Energy Agency forecasts that it will go up 45% by 2030 largely because of demand from emerging economies (see graphic above). Oil and other fossil fuels would have to fill the gap, he said. Reserves were available.

“The world’s endowment (including unconventional sources such as tar sands) is estimated at 15 trillion barrels. Even after more than a century of widespread use, we have consumed only 1 trillion barrels.”

He said oil consumption would rise because there were few alternatives. “Political rhetoric has made people believe there is a solution around the corner but there is not, he said.”

Jeremy Leggett, boss of renewables company Solar-century and chairman of a UK industry taskforce on peak oil, said Jum’ah’s comments were to be expected. “We believe this at our peril. Western economies allowed themselves to be duped by the investment-bank-ing industry, which massively overstated assets, and we cannot make the same mistake with the oil industry.”



Germany's environment minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) has warned that Germany risks losing out to China on environmentally friendly technologies in the international markets of the future. Beijing was not only developing renewable energy "super-fast," said Gabriel during his visit to Beijing. He is especially worried that Chinese developments of new green technologies could soon overtake leading industrial nations such as Germany.

[...] With regards to the preparations for a new global agreement on climate change, Sigmar Gabriel, the German environment minister, called for more efforts by the United States. "The climate talks won't fail due to Beijing," said the minister in the Chinese capital. Washington's rejection of the Kyoto Protocol would not be acceptable. During the preliminary negotiations, China has been taking a more "progressive" stance than other states, environment minister Gabriel said.

More HERE. [In German. transl. BJP]

Former Finnish Greens Spokesman Admits Greens are Socialists.......

I'm sure everyone has heard the line that Greens are "watermelon socialists, green on the outside, and red on the inside." Well Finnish commentor and Tundra Tabloids friend, Kumitonttu, informs me that Former Greens Spokesman, Osmo Soininvaara, the same guy who said that: "If one gets an exceptional permission to marry an 11-year-old girl in Finland, then having sex with her is OK according to the Finnish legislation, too."

...has now come to admit that the recent results from the Euro elections in Finland, show that the Greens are in fact a party of the Left.

Osmo Soinivaara: "Eurovaalien merkittävin tulos oli perinteisen vasemmiston alamäki ja vihreiden nousu monin paikoin konservatiivien vastavoimaksi."

(The main result of the last elections for the European Parliament is the misery of the traditional leftist parties and respectively, the rise of the Greens as a counterpart for the conservatives).

But that's not all, he goes on further to describe what is traditonally known as (but isn't) the far-Right wing, as being a product of the Left. This is the first time that the Tundra Tabloids has seen a socialist politician admitting the obvious, who have been up until now, all to pleased in villifying the Right-Wing for Nazism and Fascism, when all along it was the Left that gave birth to those movements.

Soininvaara continues: "Populisteja on kutsuttu äärioikeistoksi, mutta retoriikaltaan he ovat vasemmistolaisia".

(The populist speech is usually defined as right-wing extremism, but it is actually leftist rhetoric.)

"Populistiset liikkeet vetävät työttömyyden uhkaamia duunareita ja kurjistuvaa maaseutua kuten 1930-luvullakin. Myös maahanmuuton ja erityisesti islamilaisuuden vastaisuus vetää äänestäjiä. Maahanmuuttoon myönteisesti suhtautuvien on lähdettävä keskusteluun mukaan myöntäen ongelmat, sillä moni kokee aidosti maahanmuuton uhkasi."

("Populist movements attract the workers living under the uncertainty of their jobs as well as the people in the country side whose economical situation gets worse all the time - the case is identical to the 1930's. Opposing immigration and especially Islamization attracts the voters. Those who stand for immigration must join the debate and admit the problems there really are, because many feel the immigration as a threat.")

"Vihreillä ei ole syytä vahingoniloon demareiden ahdingon vuoksi. Demarit ovat olleet vihreiden tärkeimpiä liittolaisia."

("The Greens must not rejoice over the defeat of the social-democrats. They have historically been the main allies for the Greens.")

"Moni on blogillani sanonut, että nuorille kaupunkilaisille on vain kaksi puoluetta, kokoomus ja vihreät. Jos demarit yhä kuihtuvat ja vihreät kasvavat, meidän on otettava aivan uudenlainen rooli politiikassa ja valmistauduttava aivan uudenlaiseen vastuuseen. Vastuu oikeudenmukaisuudesta on silloin meillä."

("Many have wrote in the comments section of my blog that for young urban people there are just two parties; the conservatives and the Greens. If the social-democrats keep shrinking and the Greens keep growing, we have to take a whole new role in the politics and be prepared to a completely new kind of political responsibility. The responsibility of justice is the for us."

In other words, with the demise of the Social Democrats and other hard Left parties, the Greens will enjoy a swelling of their ranks with these other socialists. I can't think of any better anlaysis to explain the Greens' philosophical roots, as well as their relationship between the fellow red Socialist and Fascist comrades.


RAKING IN THE CASH: Fury over Australian "Green" Senator’s fundraising scam

Last week Senator Brown, in a soap opera type performance, publicly appealed for donations supposedly to stave off imminent bankruptcy and consequent expulsion from the Senate—a claim backed up dramatically by no less an authority than the Clerk of the Senate, although it is there in black and white in the Constitution, section 44, (iii). Even the hapless lawyer of The Castle could have told Senator Brown that.

Senator Brown’s alleged financial plight was due to having to pay $239,000 in legal costs incurred because of his own personal ill-considered legal challenge to selective logging in the Wielangta forest. This $239,000 comes on top of Senator Brown’s personal costs. According to the Age, Senator Brown said “he had $10,000 cash to his name, and little chance of selling remaining property by the due date. He has already raised more than $600,000 in costs for the case that was lost in the High Court. “I don’t have the money,” he said.


You probably missed it, but Senator Brown slipped into his YouTube broadcast that he actually meant ‘technical bankruptcy’—by which I assume he means not actual or real bankruptcy—but there was no such disclosure in his media release which was faithfully regurgitated by many of the fawning members of the media.

Nor was there any challenge, by the way, to Senator Brown’s vehement condemnation of people who take legal action against him. Legal action against Senator Brown by its very definition, it seems, must be bad. And, of course, legal action, no matter how ill-advised, taken by Senator Brown is also by very definition good. The double standard is easy to ignore if consistency and intellectual rigour and integrity are not part of the framework under which you operate.


We are told Senator Brown’s public appeal resulted in a deluge of support. But what would-be donors were not told last week was that, as at October 2008, Senator Brown’s so-called Wielangta forest fund—but actually the RJ Brown forest account—had already raised $739,000 at a bare minimum. How do we know this? Because, after being shamed into disclosing this fund’s receipts to the register of senators’ interests, Senator Brown had disclosed at least $739,000 in donations by October 2008. Even then he did not detail donations for May to July 2008, nor has he disclosed donations received in the seven months since October 2008. In other words, there are up to 10 months missing.

Clearly the senator does not abide by the same accountability rules he so self-righteously insists be imposed on everybody else. For example, Senator Brown has not disclosed the proceeds of his allegedly successful Wild Photos exhibition held earlier this year. So it follows that prior to his public appeal Senator Brown’s account had undoubtedly received more than the $739,000 he has to date disclosed, and probably significantly more.


Which brings me to the question of Senator Brown’s personal legal costs. So far as the register of senators’ interests is concerned, Senator Brown has only disclosed legal costs of $35,000 for the six months from 1 July 2005 to January 2006. A press release issued by Senator Brown said:

The High Court awarded no costs against Senator Brown because of the public interest of the case … However, the Federal Court’s decision to award costs against Senator Brown may leave him with a bill, including his own representation, of $200,000 to $300,000. However, numerous recent briefings by Senator Brown put his personal legal costs at $600,000.

When pressed on exactly this point last Wednesday evening by Gerard McManus from the Herald Sun, Senator Brown’s office confirmed his personal legal costs were $600,000. Even on this basis, when making his recent appeal he needed less than $100,000 to pay legal costs and maybe nothing at all.


It is extraordinary that, immediately the Herald Sun probed and questioned the apparent healthy state of his fund and the veracity of his claims to be on the verge of bankruptcy, Senator Brown closed down his appeal, saying there had been a huge public response and that any extra money would be put into the campaign to save Australia’s forests.

This includes, the so-called Triabunna 13, individuals facing the Supreme Court for blockading and chaining themselves to machinery, costing struggling contractors tens of thousands of dollars. I wonder how many well-meaning people who gave to save Senator Brown from phantom bankruptcy knew their donations could be used to defend these irresponsible antics.


I understand that Senator Brown is now explaining the discrepancy between what he raised and what he owes by claiming to journalists that his personal legal costs are not $600,000 but $1 million.

Like many of Senator Brown’s claims, this latest claim to be on the verge of personal bankruptcy just does not add up. His approach to fundraising and accountability is reminiscent of Max Bialystok of The Producers.


Senator Brown must now come clean, become accountable, cease flouting his obligations to the Senate and disclose all amounts he has received, when he received them and the amounts paid out and to whom.

The fact is Senator Brown’s legal challenge to selective logging in Wielangta was always ill-advised and dubious.

Sadly, some so-called environmental activists have in the past put cuddly animals on their websites to solicit donations for what are essentially scams, preying upon people’s good nature and gullibility. This latest stunt by Senator Brown, crying poor over legal costs, will be seen in the same light or worse.


For all his talk about Wielangta’s wedge-tailed eagle, the marvellous swift parrot and the ancient stag beetle, the policies advocated by the senator actually contributed to the destruction of their habitat. By this I mean Senator Brown’s calls against selective logging and hyperbole about the mushroom clouds of fuel reduction burns.

Such measures, if allowed, would have mitigated the almost total destruction of Wielangta and the wildlife contained therein in the devastating 2006 bushfire, which killed more stag beetles and destroyed more swift parrot habitat than 100 years of selective harvesting ever did.

The fact is Senator Brown’s legal challenge lost not on a technicality but on the law. Remember the law? It is what everyone else has to abide by unless, it seems, they are a Green crusader. Regrettably, to Senator Brown and his gullible followers, science, the rule of law, accountability and, above all, truth are often relative concepts.

Sadly it seems that, if you bang on enough about how much you really care about forests, some misguided people will give you money—even if you may not need it and even if your policies and legal challenges would see those same forest habitats destroyed.


My challenge to Senator Brown is this: be accountable. Immediately disclose to the Senate, as is required, exactly how much your fund raised prior to last week’s appeal, and disclose and substantiate your progressive personal legal costs. Anything less, Mr President, will be a wholesale abrogation of his duties as a senator and ethically bankrupt.



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


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Washington update

By Myron Ebell

Update on House Energy Rationing Bill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) are making mighty efforts to get the Waxman-Markey energy-rationing bill to the House floor before the Fourth of July recess, which is scheduled to begin on 26th June. The main obstacle to passage appears to be a group of moderate Democrats centered in the Agriculture Committee and led by Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the Committee’s Chairman. Peterson claimed to have forty-five votes as he started horse trading with Pelosi and Waxman. I expect that the Democratic leadership will come up with enough votes to pass H. R. 2454 narrowly and with only a handful of Republican votes. They are rushing because they realize that the bill could implode at any time. Should you care to tell your Representative whether to vote Yes or No on H. R. 2454, the Capitol switchboard number is (202) 225-3121. Live operators will connect you to your Member even if you don’t know his name if you give your zip code.

Republicans Introduce a Pro-energy Bill

House Republicans on Wednesday unveiled the latest version of their pro-energy bill, the American Energy Act. The bill would increase domestic energy production, particularly oil and gas on federal lands and offshore areas, and includes no rationing provisions. This could be the Republican substitute amendment when Waxman-Markey comes to the floor. It would draw a very clear distinction between Republicans, who think we need to increase access to energy, and Democrats, who think we need to force people to pay much more and use much less energy.

Boxer Wants Energy Rationing Bill by August

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, announced on Thursday that she plans to mark up the Senate version of Waxman-Markey in her committee before the August recess. Right now, there are probably enough votes to move the bill out of committee, but support in the full Senate looks far short of the 60 necessary to invoke cloture and proceed to a final vote. It’s not even clear to me that generic cap-and-trade legislation has majority support in the Senate.

California Scheming

California, the world leader in energy rationing (after North Korea, Cuba, etc.), now looks likely to go bankrupt by the end of July. Californians Pelosi, Waxman, and Boxer are actively promoting at the federal level the policies that are contributing to the decline of the once-Golden State.


Farmer Brown fights back

To all appearances, green special interests are on a roll. They have managed to get committed environmentalists appointed to key congressional committees and regulatory positions. They have a president in the White House who agrees on the broad contours of their agenda. They have already won increased fuel economy regulations, restrictions on drilling for oil and gas in the West, and billions of dollars of subsidies for wind and solar power.

But their hot streak may soon run into some trouble. Why? Because they have provoked the most powerful special interest in congressional history: farmers. These are the same folks who once convinced Congress to pay them to grow nothing. Now they are holding hostage legislation to fight so-called climate change.

At issue is ethanol, a fuel distilled from corn that can be used to run cars, but which shouldn't be used to run cars. Ethanol is more expensive than gasoline, so it increases our pain at the pump. And burning food for fuel increases the demand for food, which makes it more expensive, so ethanol also increases our grocery bills.

That's precisely why farmers love ethanol. It increases the value of their crops. In 2007, the powerful farm lobby convinced Congress to enact a Soviet-style ethanol production quota that forces Americans to use increasing amounts of corn-fuel. As a result, U.S. farmers divert more than 500 billion pounds of corn into the fuel supply every year.

At the time, environmentalists supported ethanol, because they labored under the mistaken notion that it is a "green fuel," which results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions thought to cause climate change. It's true that combusting ethanol emits less carbon than gasoline, but that doesn't mean much. The ethanol industry is burning so much food for fuel that it has depleted the global grain supply.

Farmers in developing countries are clear-cutting rain forests to make room for arable land to grow crops and meet global demand. According to many scientists, these land-use changes result in massive emissions of greenhouse gases.

Environmentalists campaigned to include these "indirect" emissions in the Environmental Protection Agency's calculation of ethanol's "lifecycle emissions." It's an important distinction, because in 2007, Congress also imposed a requirement that most new ethanol production should produce 20 percent less "lifecycle" greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline. If such emissions are taken into account, much of the ethanol produced from corn could fail to meet Congress's requirements.

Farm special interests lobbied fiercely against including indirect emissions, arguing that the science was inexact. The environmentalists prevailed. In early May of this year, the EPA announced it would include the controversial emissions in its calculation of ethanol's lifecycle emissions.

Now the farm lobby is hitting back. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Colin Peterson exploded in a hearing in late May, declaring the EPA is going to "kill" the ethanol industry. Peterson last week told the Hill newspaper that he has lined up 45 members of the House Democratic Caucus to oppose the Waxman-Markey Clean Energy and Security Act, a major climate change mitigation bill that Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to bring to the floor for a vote by July 4. If Peterson is not bluffing -- and he'd have to have the world's best poker face to pull that one off -- then he has the votes to kill the bill. The smart money is on Peterson, who now has all the leverage. That could be bad news because environmentalists will do anything to get a climate law, even if it means they have to embrace ethanol.

Expect Pelosi to cave and permit the farm lobby to write an amendment to the bill that forces the EPA to exclude indirect emissions from its calculations. That would saddle American consumers with a climate bill to raise their utility bills and more ethanol to inflate the price of food and fuel. That's a lose-lose-lose for everyone except for the special interests and their influential backers in Congress.


New book suggests Earth not such a benevolent mother after all

And we are going to need all the CO2 we can get.

In the past 50 years it has become commonplace to think of Earth as a nurturing place, straining mightily to maintain equilibrium so that life might continue and flourish. The Gaia hypothesis, named for the ancient Greek goddess of Earth, even put forth the idea that our planet behaves as a kind of giant organism, with its complex systems finely tuned to compensate when one system gets out of kilter.

But actually it is the Gaia view that is out of kilter, says Peter Ward, a University of Washington paleontologist who has looked closely at conditions that existed during numerous mass extinction events in Earth's history. In a new book, he suggests the planet ultimately is inhospitable to life, and that life itself might be the primary reason. Rather than Gaia, he invokes the darker Medea from Greek mythology.

"The Medea hypothesis says life is already shutting down Earth as a habitable planet. Not just the diversity of life, but the actual biomass," Ward said. "Life keeps evolving, and there are unintended, often negative, consequences." "The Medea Hypothesis: Is Life on Earth Ultimately Self-Destructive?" was published in April by Princeton University Press. In the 208-page book, Ward argues that humans have to use engineering to manage their environment or face potential extinction if the Earth is left to manage itself.

"The engineering I'm talking about is not girders and sky shields. It's engineering microbes to take over food production and energy production," he said. Microbes have undergone evolution, a sort of natural engineering, throughout Earth's history, he said, and humans have the ability to guide such changes to clean the environment, for example, or regulate carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Like Gaia, Medea is a mythological character, though she is decidedly much darker in nature. Medea was married to Jason at the time he pursued the Golden Fleece but, according to legend, he left her and in revenge she killed their two children.

Ward, a UW professor of biology and of Earth and space sciences, says numerous mass extinctions show that our planet behaves in somewhat the same way. For example:

* The evolution of oxygen-producing organisms twice plunged Earth into ice ages as carbon dioxide, crucial for photosynthesis, was stripped from the atmosphere.

* The evolution of the first true animals caused extinction of most stromatolites, layers of microbes living in sediment in the oceans' intertidal zones. The result was somewhat more complex life forms, but a vastly smaller volume of living matter.

* The evolution of the first forests 400 million years ago is considered one of the great events in Earth history. But tree roots pushed into subsurface rocks, exposing them to increased weathering. The weathered elements again stripped carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and plunged the Earth into a 90 million-year ice age.

"The irony is that we have way too much carbon dioxide right now, but we should stash it in a bank because we're going to need it," Ward said. "The end of life as we know it is when we reach just 10 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere." Currently, carbon dioxide is at 380 parts per million and rising, creating a greenhouse effect that most climate scientists say will greatly increase temperatures around the world, with some severe consequences. For example, with the melting of mountain and polar ice sheets, the world's most-productive agricultural land will be submerged and humans will struggle to find food, Ward said.

He noted that throughout Earth's history, carbon has been stripped from the atmosphere and stored in trees, rocks, even the oceans. He said those processes will continue until atmospheric carbon dioxide drops to 10 parts per million, a point at which no plants can live. Once plants are gone, within 20 million years the oxygen will plummet to 1 percent of the total atmosphere and life as we know it will end. "Then you've gotten to a point where it will be forever impossible to get diversity of life back. It will be forever impossible to regain an oxygen-rich atmosphere. That's not Gaia. It's the opposite of Gaia," he said.

He notes that of 15 mass extinction events in Earth's history, only the one 65 million years ago that brought an end to the age of dinosaurs was likely caused by a comet or asteroid crashing into the planet's surface. The others all resulted from Earth's own processes.

"There's no Gaia. There's just this dumb, blind life. It tries out all kinds of new things that are good for new kinds of life but are detrimental to everything else that exists. The innovations lead to disaster," Ward said. He added that, contrary to recently popular beliefs, the planet likely would not somehow "heal itself" if all humans were suddenly removed. Instead, he said, humans are the key to saving the planet and, in the end, are perhaps the only true Gaian force.

"We're not renting. We're the owners, but there can be a cost to the rest of nature of our ownership," Ward said. "There is an easy fix - the only fix is intelligence. Knowing that there is a problem is what will get us out of it. We're the only ones who can put our hands on the controls."


Warmist scorn for "purists" who demand that facts be “correct”

"Hockeystick" Mann admits he's no "purist"

Over at Seed Magazine in a collection of views on “framing,” Penn State climatologist Michael Mann explains why it was necessary to misrepresent what the IPCC does on the cover of his co-authored book titled “Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming”:
Often, in our communication efforts, scientists are confronted with critical issues of language and framing. A case in point is a book I recently co-authored with Penn State colleague Lee Kump, called Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming. The purists among my colleagues would rightly point out that the potential future climate changes we describe, are, technically speaking, projections rather than predictions because the climate models are driven by hypothetical pathways of future fossil fuel burning (i.e. conceivable but not predicted futures). But Dire Projections doesn’t quite roll off the tongue. And it doesn’t convey -- in the common vernacular -- what the models indicate: Climate change could pose a very real threat to society and the environment. In this case, use of the more technically “correct” term is actually less likely to convey the key implications to a lay audience.

As one of those “purists” who would like to receive information that is technically “correct” I probably can judge that book by its cover. In contrast, in another commentary on framing at Seed, ASU science policy expert Clark Miller suggests an alternative, richer view of framing:
Two competing models of framing exist. The first views framing as a tactical choice in communication. Spinning information to comport with culturally embedded narratives purportedly raises its credibility with target audiences. This model presumes an ignorant and uninformed public, with all the dangers that implies for democracy. I reject this model.

The second model views framing, instead, as how humans make sense of and give meaning to events in the world --- the lens through which they interpret disparate observations, models, data, and evidence in light of their values. This model posits framing as an ineradicable element of reasoning, even in science, and a facility for rich, nuanced storytelling as a foundation for human community.

Both models recognize that humans structure their understanding of policy through narrative and story. Rather than exploiting this structure for political gain, however, the second model acknowledges that any specific policy frame is, at best, partial and incomplete. Any frame reflects only one way of looking at a policy problem, leaving out potentially critical pieces of knowledge and significance.


The Big Chill

Congress shouldn't fight global warming by freezing the economy


Two months ago this column offered an analysis of the Waxman-Markey global warming bill, its enormous cost and its practical impossibilities. Sometime in the next few weeks Congress will begin consideration of the bill, one of the priorities of the Obama administration and the Al Gore enthusiasts who think that Earth will die unless the governments of the world regulate our electricity, energy, autos, economies and backyards.

They do not seem to believe that energy is of any significance to our economy or our people. But the truth is it matters to all of us--to those who drive, heat our houses and run businesses, cities, towns, hospitals and schools.

So they have put together the "cap and trade" bill, the goal of which is to control the annual amount of CO2 emissions that will be permitted. First comes setting the "cap," the amount a business is permitted to emit, and then "trade," allowing them to buy permits to emit more CO2 or sell permits if their emissions are lower. It will be the largest and widest intervention by government into the lives of Americans since the 1940s.

The Manhattan Institute's Jim Manzi concludes that the benefits of Waxman-Markey would not be much. Historical data show that the average rate of warming in the 30 years from 1977 to 2007 was just 0.32 degree Fahrenheit per decade. The expected warming in the next hundred years is estimated to be about 0.50 degree Fahrenheit per decade, and the new bill is estimated to lower global temperatures by about 0.18 degree Fahrenheit by 2100. Manzi estimates the additional economic costs of the bill would be 0.8% of gross domestic product, while the economic benefits would be just 0.08%--so the costs would be 10 times the benefits.

The cost of reducing emissions turns out to be greater than the cost they impose on societies. According to a 1999 Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas estimate, the emissions cuts the Kyoto Protocol would have required in 2010 were likely to reduce America's GDP by $275 billion to $468 billion, or $921 to $1,565 per person, and of course Kyoto does not apply to fast-growing developing countries such as China and India.

An April study by Charles River Associates tells us that if the Obama proposal to reduce CO2 emissions becomes law, it will have a serious impact on the availability and cost of energy. By 2025, just 16 years from now, the cost of natural gas would rise 56%, electricity 44% and motor fuel 19%. Annual household purchasing power would annually decline by an average of $1,827. And America will lose 3.2 million jobs.

There are alternatives. Earlier this month the National Center for Policy Analysis (for which I serve as policy chairman) issued a global warming analysis titled "10 Cool Global Warming Policies." Among them: eliminating energy subsidies and barriers to nuclear power, establishing biotech crops, reducing automobile pollution and developing new technology.

The starting point is the scope of our government's existing energy subsidies. They total nearly $17 billion annually--including $4.9 billion for renewable energy (wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric), $3.3 billion for coal, $2.1 billion for natural gas and petroleum liquids, $1.3 billion for nuclear power, and $1.2 billion for electricity. Many of these subsidies actually encourage carbon emissions by reducing the cost of energy from coal and petroleum. Eliminating them would be a good first step in letting the market, as opposed to the government, control energy emission costs.

Nuclear power is the only emission-free energy technology that can significantly reduce carbon emissions. America's nuclear plants avoid nearly 700 million metric tons of CO2 emissions each year. But the government has made the construction of nuclear plants almost impossible. Of those currently operating in the U.S., the newest one was built starting in 1977. Of the 45 nuclear power plants now under construction world-wide, only one is in America.

Energy use is of course a source of greenhouse gas emissions. As the study says, "Petroleum used in transportation and industrial production accounts for 44 percent of energy related CO2 emissions; coal accounts for 36 percent, and natural gas for 20 percent." Unfortunately the popular modern energy priorities--corn based ethanol (which government subsidizes at 51 cents a gallon for the 36 billion gallon production the Congress has required by 2022) instead of reducing carbon emissions increases them over time, and wind and solar power--good ideas that we should keep working on--only supply electricity 30% to 40% of the time.

Energy development and creation have been essential to America's success over the past several centuries, and they are important for America's future. But the Obama-Waxman-Markey legislation has it backwards: By reducing energy availability, their proposals would kill jobs, reduce purchasing power, shrink the economy, and raise the cost of every fuel we use.

All of which would have almost zero impact on global warming. America cannot go forward successfully with this kind of thinking. We need nuclear power, more oil and gas to support our increasing energy needs, and a clear understanding that depriving us of energy, as this bill would do, would be a very substantial mistake.


An Open Letter to All Members of the Australian Federal Parliament

Soon our elected representatives will be asked to vote on Senator Wong’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

This scheme is not about carbon or pollution. Its main effect is to provide for a cap on the human production of carbon dioxide, a colourless harmless natural gas. Carbon dioxide is no more a pollutant than oxygen or water, the other two atmospheric gases on which all life on earth relies.

The bill will also levy a tax on whatever carbon dioxide is produced, and levy an excess production tax on anyone whose production exceeds the legal cap. It is a carbon dioxide Cap-n-Tax Bill.

There is no human activity whatsoever that does not generate carbon dioxide. Therefore any attempt to measure, cap and tax human production of carbon dioxide must eventually extend to every human activity (the UK government already floated the idea that every person be issued with a personal carbon ration card).

This is a very serious proposal, with wide-ranging implications for all aspects of economic life and personal freedoms. It could only be justified if there was a clear and urgent danger that additional human production of carbon dioxide is highly likely to cause dangerous global warming. There is no evidence that this is the case – just computer models and scare forecasts.

Neither the scientific questions, nor the cost benefit analysis has been subject to any critical independent analysis.

The diagram below illustrates the sequence of decisions that should be made before this bill gets assent. If the answer to ANY ONE of the boxed questions is “NO”, there is no justification for Australia rushing ahead with its Cap-n-Tax Bill.

This diagram, although light-hearted, has a factual basis and conveys some very serious messages.

It is highly unlikely that anyone could honestly answer “Yes” to every question, which is what is required to justify passage of the bill. This suggests that there is a high likelihood that the bill will have NO CLIMATE EFFECT WHATSOEVER and thus be a costly exercise in self delusion.

Start from the bottom left

Start from the bottom left



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


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Atmospheric Scientist: Obama's climate report 'would make Pravda editors blush with envy on how they can misconstrue and mis-report truths for a propaganda angle'

The following is a guest post by Atmospheric scientist Dr. Chris Walcek, a professor at the University at Albany in NY and a Senior Research Associate at the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center who studies the relationship of pollutants within the atmosphere

In the climate report's EXECUTIVE SUMMARY there is statement that WINTER temperatures across the northern great plains have increased MORE THAN 7 degrees over the past 30 years. Whenever I see ABSURD claims like these, I delve into archived temperatures (Global Historical Climate Network) archived at our National Climate Data Center and wade through the analysis to see the "truth". Attached are two figures showing actual thermometer measurements (I doubt that actual thermometer measurements are shown ANYWHERE in this report...) This was the first site I looked at.... but I am confident that the conclusions are robust and more general.

Why only look at winter temperatures (3 months of the year), and IGNORE the other 75% of the measurements? because summer temperatures and annual temperatures show COOLING!!

Why only look at the past 30 years, and IGNORE the entire 100 years, thus "throwing out" over 70% the data? because over the entire record the trends are negligible and show little warming.

Where the HECK did they get 7 degree F warming??? Sioux City Iowa shows winter temperatures only increasing about 3 F warming in recent decades. They probably compared one recent year with a single year 50 years ago, neglecting to tell us that winter temperatures in the northern great plains naturally vary from year-to-year by 15-18 degrees F ALL THE TIME!! next winter could be 10-20 degrees warmer or cooler than this winter in any location in the upper great plains, and even a 7F warming is well within the natural "noise". (but that 7 F number is apparently pure fiction!!))


Scientist Rejects Romm's Claims about solar activity

UN IPCC Scientist and UK based atmospheric science consultant, Richard Courtney, says why Joe Romm's article rejecting the possibility of global cooling is 'nonsense.'

Firstly, it is plain wrong when it asserts: "The deniers have been rooting for a Maunder Minimum to stifle global warming."

I know of nobody who has been "rooting" for cooling, but I know of several so-called "deniers" who assert that slight warming (as could be expected if the AGW-hypothesis is right) would provide net benefits.

Secondly, article shows a degree of confidence that cannot be justified when it says; "The sunspot cycle is about to come out of its depression, if a newly discovered mechanism for predicting solar cycles — a migrating jet stream deep inside the sun — proves accurate."

NASA's predictions of the next solar cycle have all been wrong: e.g. see their predictions of only three years ago here.

Any prediction of the future has to be based on a model of some kind, and no model's predictions should be trusted unless the model has demonstrated forecasting skill. Any forecast can turn out to be correct as a chance result, and forecasting skill is demonstrated by provision of a series of forecasts that concur with subsequent events by more than could be expected by chance. (The UK Met. Office has done much work to develop methods for assessing the forecasting skill of its weather forecasts).

The predictions in the above URL were only three years ago and the NASA team has not made any demonstrably better forecasts since. Simply, their recent track record demonstrates that their forecasting methods have the same reliability as the casting of chicken bones to predict the future. Indeed, if they are now using "a newly discovered mechanism for predicting solar cycles" then that method is totally untried, untested and has no demonstrated worth of any kind. Of course, any guess could be right, so NASA may be right this time (but I would not bet on it) and if this prediction were right then on its own that would prove nothing.

Thirdly, the article is in denial of observed natural climate variability when it says: "But human-caused global warming is so strong that not bloody much stifling has been going on given that “this will be the hottest decade in recorded history by far,“ nearly 0.2°C warmer than the 1990s."

Anybody who looks at the records of global temperature can see a series of cycles that are overlayed on each other. For example:

1. There seems to be an apparent ~900 year oscillation that caused the Roman Warm Period (RWP), then the Dark Age Cool Period (DACP), then the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), then the Little Ice Age (LIA), and the present warm period (PWP).


2. There seems to be an apparent ~60 year oscillation that caused cooling to ~1910, then warming to ~1940, then cooling to ~1970, then warming to ~2000, then cooling since. So, has the warming from the LIA stopped or not? That cannot be known because the pattern of past global temperature fluctuations suggest that the existing cooling phase of the ~60 year cycle is opposing any such warming. And that cooling phase can be anticipated to end around 2030 when it can be anticipated that then either

(a) warming from the LIA will continue until we reach temperatures similar to those of the MWP


(b) cooling will set in until we reach temperatures similar to those of the LIA.

But this begs the question as to why such global temperature fluctuations occur. The article asserts certainty of what will happen based on a belief in AGW. But - as I have said before - I address the question as follows.

The basic assumption used in the climate models is that change to climate is driven by change to radiative forcing. And it is very important to recognise that this assumption has not been demonstrated to be correct. Indeed, it is quite possible that there is no force or process causing climate to vary. I explain this as follows.

The climate system is seeking an equilibrium that it never achieves. The Earth obtains radiant energy from the Sun and radiates that energy back to space. The energy input to the system (from the Sun) may be constant (although some doubt that), but the rotation of the Earth and its orbit around the Sun ensure that the energy input/output is never in perfect equilibrium.

The climate system is an intermediary in the process of returning (most of) the energy to space (some energy is radiated from the Earth's surface back to space). And the Northern and Southern hemispheres have different coverage by oceans. Therefore, as the year progresses the modulation of the energy input/output of the system varies. Hence, the system is always seeking equilibrium but never achieves it.

Such a varying system could be expected to exhibit oscillatory behavior. And, importantly, the length of the oscillations could be harmonic effects which, therefore, have periodicity of several years. Of course, such harmonic oscillation would be a process that - at least in principle - is capable of evaluation.

However, there may be no process because the climate is a chaotic system. Therefore, observed oscillations such as ENSO, NAO, PDO and etc. could be observation of the system seeking its chaotic attractor(s) in response to its seeking equilibrium in a changing situation.

Very, importantly, there is an apparent ~900 year oscillation that caused the Roman Warm Period (RWP), then the Dark Age Cool Period (DACP), then the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), then the Little Ice Age (LIA), and the present warm period (PWP).

As I suggest above, all the observed rise of global temperature in the twentieth century could be recovery from the LIA that is similar to the recovery from the DACP to the MWP. And the ~900 year oscillation could be the chaotic climate system seeking its attractor(s). If so, then all global climate models and 'attribution studies' utilized by IPCC and CCSP are based on the false premise that there is a force or process causing climate to change when no such force or process exists.

But the assumption that climate change is driven by radiative forcing may be correct. If so, then it should be noted that it is still extremely improbable that – within the foreseeable future – the climate models could be developed to a state whereby they could provide reliable predictions. This is because the climate system is extremely complex. Indeed, the climate system is more complex than the human brain (the climate system has more interacting components – e.g. biological organisms – than the human brain has interacting components – e.g. neurones), and nobody claims to be able to construct a reliable predictive model of the human brain. It is pure hubris to assume that the climate models are sufficient emulations for them to be used as reliable predictors of future climate when they have no demonstrated forecasting skill.

Simply, the past history demonstrates that it cannot be known whether or not global temperature will resume its rise from the LIA which began long before significant anthropogenic emissions. Many hypotheses and theories can be used to provide any prediction of future global temperature anyone wants to make, but there is no reason to accept any such prediction as being more likely to be correct than any other. So, my bottom line on the article is that if it were in print then it would make a good substitute for toilet paper, but as it is only on the web it does not have even that much use.


Climate thuggery: Markey tries fed agency to intimidate cap-and-trade opponent

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) tried to use the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to intimidate a utility executive who testified against the Waxman-Markey climate bill. Immediately after MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company Chairman David Sokol testified against cap-and-trade on June 9, Rep. Markey sent a letter to FERC chairman Jon Wellinghoff asking for an investigation of MidAmerican.

Although Rep. Markey quickly sent up a follow-up letter asking FERC not to focus on solely MidAmerican but on all investor-owned utilities, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee rebuked Markey on June 12:
… Our witnesses… have every right to expect that in exchange for their honesty with us, they will not be subjected to sanction, retribution and vengeance simply because the facts and opinions they offer do not square with those of the Committee’s members. Exercising the power of the Majority requires a special responsibility to protect witnesses.

… As the hearing was still under way, however, Mr. Sokol and his company became the focus of apparent intimidation when Chairman Markey by letter dated the day of the hearing, asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to answer specific questions about investment and transmission-related activities of MidAmerican Energy and its parent, investor Warren Buffett…

… An after-the-fact rationalization, however, does not change the appearance that Chairman Markey’s June 9 letter to FERC was intended to badger and harass a witness whose offense was merely daring to disagree with Mr. Markey on a matter of professional experience and knowledge.

Mr. Sokol, who voluntarily testified at Congress’s request on Tuesday, could assume from his trip to Washington that if you are a good citizen and you agree to testify truthfully before the Congress, you better make sure that your views do not conflict with those of the ruling Majority. Otherwise, you will risk having the Majority abuse its powers by sending a government regulator to harass you and your company.

We have grave concerns about Chairman Markey’s actions and their implications for the future. Not only might they damage the reputation of this Committee as being a place where truth is welcomed and honest debate is cherished; it could well make all witnesses think twice before accepting an invitation to appear before us to tell us something other than exactly what the Majority wants to hear. Honest, fair public policy can only be made if a full range of opinions are presented to Congress, not just what the Majority wants to hear.

Sadly, this is not the first time the nation has seen this sort of troubling behavior from its officials. As you know, within the memories of many of us, agents of the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies were systematically dispatched to cow dissidents and smother protest against government policy. Just this week the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee instructed Democrat health care lobbyists not to meet with Republicans. If a pattern of intimidation and bullying is being created by the Majority party, it is a sad thing. As members of the Minority party, we will do everything possible to stop this emerging pattern.

We implore you to take whatever actions are necessary to make certain that this sorry episode is vacated and never replicated. Rather than trying to explain his way around his specific questions that FERC has not answered yet, Chairman Markey should explicitly rescind his request to have FERC pry into the activities of Mr. Sokol, Mr. Buffett, and MidAmerican. No company in America or its employees should be harassed. We are confident that you agree with us on the basic protection all witnesses before our committee have a right to expect…

Will the real Luca Brazzi [Mafia enforcer] please raise his hand?

SOURCE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Climate of hatred: Prominent scientist refused service due to skepticism

Prominent MIT physicist and global warming skeptic, Richard Lindzen, was recently refused the services of a Boston-area art appraiser because of global warming. As Lindzen described in an e-mail:

In our recent house fire, an 18th century oriental rug was burnt, and we needed an appraisal of its value for our insurance. We were referred to a dealer, [name withheld], who agreed to do the appraisal. However, when my wife, Nadine, brought him the burnt rug, he rudely turned her away saying that he had sent me an email explaining his position…

Here’s the text of the art appraiser’s e-mail to Lindzen:

I am sorry to inform you that after some consideration, I’ve decided not to perform the appraisal service that you’ve requested. Your writing on the subject of global warming is offensive to me personally, and I feel that I would have difficulty being an impartial appraiser of value given my view on the subject.

If you’re not familiar with Lindzen, here’s a clip from his bio:

Prof. Lindzen is a recipient of the American Meteorological Service’s Meisinger, and Charney Awards, the American Geophysical Union’s Macelwane Medal, and the Leo Huss Walin Prize. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the American Geophysical Union and the American Meteorological Society. He is a corresponding member of the NAS Committee on Human Rights, and has been a member of the NRC Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate and the Council of the AMS.

So maybe the art appraiser should stick to appraising art?


Coldest Weather in 100 Years to Strike by 2012

Today, for the first time in over two years, the Director of the Space and Science Research Center (SSRC) in Orlando, Florida, has issued a new prediction of the next climate change intended to emphasize the imminent ill-effects of this new climate period in an important warning to the American people and their leadership in Washington.

According to Center Director John Casey, “The climate change predictions which I started to pass out to our government and media in early 2007 based upon the ‘RC Theory’ have now come to pass, exactly as forecast. Global warming has ended, conclusively, as predicted. The Earth’s average temperature has begun its steep decline within the time frame I said it would. And last but not least, the Sun has entered a state of ‘hibernation’ when I said it would.

This new solar period is one of the most amazing events in the history of science. During solar hibernations, the Sun makes significant reductions in output which always, always, brings long cold climates to the Earth. Unbelievably, this historic phenomena is still largely and intentionally unreported by the media and our leaders and therefore unknown by the American people. The new cold climate will usher in global travail that will be amplified specifically because of the catastrophic climate change policies of the administration of President Barack Obama that will leave most citizens unprepared.”

As to when the ill-effects of the new cold climate will be felt, Director Casey added, “The most frequent question I am asked is how soon will it get cold and just how cold? The purpose of this press release is to give the people an answer to that fundamental question in a more refined schedule to plan their adaptation to the next climate change.

It is now possible to make an estimate of the timing of the descent into the next cold climate depths based upon the past behavior of the these solar cycles that have ruled the Earth for at least the last 1,200 years. The forecast of these major cold eras and solar hibernations associated with these cycles shows them to be accurate to over 90% using the RC Theory. The good news is that the SSRC will do what ever it can to get this information out even though our own government will not.”


Australia: Wong is wrong

Actually, she is just a loyal apparatchik doing the bidding of her political master, Prime Minister Rudd. She is completely out of her depth in anything other than Leftist politics

By Bob Carter, David Evans, Stewart Franks and Bill Kininmonth

Steve Fielding recently attended a climate change conference in Washington, DC. Listening to the papers presented, the Family First senator became puzzled that the scientific analyses they provided directly contradicted the reasons the Australian government had been giving as the justification for its emissions trading legislation. Fielding heard leading atmospheric physicist Dick Lindzen, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, describe evidence that the warming effect of carbon dioxide was much overestimated by computer climate models and remark: "What we see, then, is that the very foundation of the issue of global warming is wrong. "In a normal field, these results would pretty much wrap things up, but global warming-climate change has developed so much momentum that it has a life of its own quite removed from science."

Another scientist, astrophysicist Willie Soon, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, commented: "A magical CO2 knob for controlling weather and climate simply does not exist." Think about that for a moment with respect to our government's climate policy.

On his return to Canberra Fielding asked Climate Change Minister Penny Wong to answer three simple questions about the relationship between human carbon dioxide emissions and alleged dangerous global warming. Fielding was seeking evidence, as opposed to unvalidated computer model projections, that human carbon dioxide emissions are driving dangerous global warming, to help him, and the public, assess whether cutting emissions would be a cost-effective environmental measure.

After all, the cost to Australian taxpayers of the planned emissions trading bill is about $4000 a family a year for a carbon dioxide tax of $30 a tonne. The estimated benefit of such a large tax increase is that it may perhaps prevent an unmeasurable one-ten-thousandth of a degree of global warming from occurring. Next year? No, by 2100. The questions posed were:

* Is it the case that CO2 increased by 5 percent since 1998 while global temperature cooled during the same period? If so, why did the temperature not increase, and how can human emissions be to blame for dangerous levels of warming?

* Is it the case that the rate and magnitude of warming between 1979 and 1998 (the late 20th-century phase of global warming) were not unusual as compared with warmings that have occurred earlier in the Earth's history? If the warming was not unusual, why is it perceived to have been caused by human CO2 emissions and, in any event, why is warming a problem if the Earth has experienced similar warmings in the past?

* Is it the case that all computer models projected a steady increase in temperature for the period 1990 to 2008, whereas in fact there were only eight years of warming followed by 10 years of stasis and cooling? If so, why is it assumed that long-term climate projections by the same models are suitable as a basis for public policy-making?

As independent scientists attending the meeting, we found the minister's advisers unable, indeed in some part unwilling, to answer the questions. We were told that the first question needed rephrasing because it did not take account of the global thermal balance and the fact much of the heat that drives the climate system is lodged in the ocean.

Que? What is it about "carbon dioxide has increased and temperature has decreased" that the minister's science advisers don't understand?

The second question was dismissed with the comment that climatic events that occurred in the distant geological past were not relevant to policy concerned with contemporary climate change. Try telling that to geologist Ian Plimer. And regarding the accuracy of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's computer models, we were assured that better models were in the pipeline. So the minister's advisers apparently concede that the models that have guided preparation of the emissions trading scheme legislation are inadequate.

These are not adequate responses.

It was reported in the Business Age last July that the ministry of climate change's green paper on climate change, which was issued as a prelude to carbon dioxide taxation legislation, contained scientific errors and over-simplifications. Almost 12 months on, our experience confirms that the scientific advice Wong is receiving is inadequate to justify the exorbitantly costly upheaval of our society's energy usage that will be driven by the government's ETS legislation.

All Australians owe Fielding a vote of thanks for having had the political courage to ask in parliament where the climate empress's clothes have gone. Together with the senator, and the public, we await with interest any further answers to his questions that Wong's advisers may yet provide.

Geologist Bob Carter, carbon modeller David Evans, hydrologist-climatologist Stewart Franks and meteorologist-climatologist Bill Kininmonth attended the meeting between Steve Fielding, Penny Wong, Chief Scientist Penny Sackett and ANU Climate Change Institute executive director Will Steffen. Sackett has so far declined to answer Fielding's questions on this page.



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


Friday, June 19, 2009


An email from Mark Lawson [mlawson@fairfaxmedia.com.au], Journalist/Reports Editor, The Australian Financial Review

The national science academies, which have been in the forefront of warning us about global warming will not hesitate to warn of impending disaster over almost anything. From the way in which the warnings on so called "ocean acidification" have been endorsed by a host of academies, and repeated and even embellished by senior scientists, one suspects that many of the scientists concerned have not looked in any detail at the material behind the warnings, or thought sceptically about them.

Most readers will have seen something recently on ocean acidifcation where researchers point to the increase in CO2 causing a shift in the chemical composition of the topmost level - top metre or so - of the oceans. Some media reports have given the impression that the fish will be swimming in sulphuric acid very soon, but the shift requires precise measurements to detect.

Although the changes are comparatively slight, research at the Antarctic Climate Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre in Hobart, Tasmania, and elsewhere indicates that the shift may causes changes in the calcite-secreting planktonic foraminifera. Further, those changes can be linked to increases in atmospheric CO2.

There is a lot more about changes in various species, including results from tests taken in lab conditions and some field sampling that may give cause of concern and speculations/projections about what may happen to the food chain, and to coral reefs on a site dedicated to the issue. Different articles on the issue usually includes a statement that the effects on the ecosystem are difficult to predict and that more work has to be done.

Ian Plimer, professor of mining geology at the University of Adelaide and author of the book Heaven+Earth debunking greenhouse science points out that the ocean's acid-alkaline balance varies considerably, depending on, say, whether the measurement is taken near the coast or near a volcanic vent. He also says that CO2 levels have been much higher in the geological past with no noticeable gap of shelly creatures, so he regards the whole issues as "a complete furphy" (a furphy is a wild tale).

Besides nothing dramatic really showing in the fossil record there is, as yet, no measurable affect on fish population stocks or on marine production. In any case, over fishing is a major problem the world over. Changes in human activity can greatly affect stocks in a given fishing ground, and those variations may completely overshadow any changes these researchers are talking about. Cray and abalone fishing in Australia, for example, are strictly controlled.

If politicians decide to spend a few millions to keep an eye on the changes, as there may be damage to a commercial breed of fish that response would probably fit the evidence gathered to date.

However, the InterAcademy Panel On International Issues (IAP) decided to release an extraordinary statement saying in part, ``we could be looking at fundamental and immutable changes in the makeup of our marine biodiversity. The effects will be worldwide, threatening food security, reducing coastal protection and damaging the local economies that may be least able to tolerate it''.

This statement was endorsed, seemingly without question, by 70 national science academies, including the Royal Society, the US National Academy of Sciences and the academies of Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the Netherlands. In an article in the Sydney Morning Herald (June 2, 2009 Scientists warn acid is killing oceans) Royal Society president Martin Rees, an astronomer, was quoted as saying we faced an "underwater catastrophe."

This is not scientists behaving responsibly; this is scientists behaving oddly. The existing material does not justify these over-the-top warnings. Why did the IAP decide to issue this warning and why was it endorsed so easily?

Lies, Damned Lies and BBC Climate Reports

When the global warming alarmist house of cards finally collapses, exposing the pseudo-science/scare-journalism axis that has perpetrated the world's greatest mass delusion, among the first led out into the public square for ritual humiliation ought to be BBC ‘science' and ‘environment' correspondents.

Firstly, for submitting fraudulent CV's to BBC Human Resources claiming they actually knew something about science. Secondly, for asserting, as public service (public-paid) broadcasters, that they were only reporting ‘what scientists were saying.'

No doubt they will also adopt the same mitigation Scoop's William Boot called upon - that they were really only Gardening Correspondents who took a wrong turn in the BBC corridor one day. They will claim that their news editors ‘water-boarded' destroying their ‘testicular fortitude' thereby forcing them to concoct a veritable cornucopia of journalistic drivel to feed the public angst. That resulting in warnings of global apocalypse via everything -- everything from swine flu to SARS to the Mad Cow Disease (not to mention their ‘toxic' farts) -- but, mainly by employing the daddy of all scare scams: warm-mongering.

So science is turned on its head. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is reported by the BBC as a ‘pollutant' and thus all exhaling humans are ‘toxic'. Faith, not science, now prophesies that ‘higher CO2 emissions cause global warming' - even though the actual data reveals global warming ended in 1998, while CO2 emissions continued to rise. Planet Gore-ism propaganda finds a ready home displaying its wares via the ‘world's broadcaster'. Next an epidemic of teenage sleep-denying stress is brought on by viewing science-fiction horror flicks entitled ‘An Inconvenient Bunch of Statistical Crap', as media-induced hysteria invades our schoolrooms. And the evening news presents us with a steady procession of reports warn us that if we don't sell our SUV's and buy dull light-bulbs, dire prognostications will befall us. We will see the end of the Gulf Stream, the demise of islands (various), the loss of both polar ice caps and the bulk of the world's population - not to mention the nightly re-showing of those cuddly polar bears floating about on a chunk of ice.

This June, in the wake of Japanese scientists disputing the UN IPCC's anthropogenic warming orthodoxy (which, needless to say, the BBC didn't report), the Japanese Government put forward what the BBC's Environment Correspondent Richard Black called "weak" carbon targets. Writer/blogger Maurizio Morabito helpfully provides us with stark ‘numerical evidence' of Black's - thus the BBC's - biased reporting. Morabito says: "The article is made up of 469 words. Of those, 249 make up "neutral" sentences (54%). Negative comments are made of 156 words (34%). Only 58 words (13%...a mere three sentences!!) are left to explain the reasons for the Japanese government's decision."

It wasn't so long ago - April 2008 to be precise - that the actions of the BBC's environment reporter Roger Harrabin epitomised the lack of integrity in the BBC news reporting. Having confirmed (for once) that global warming appeared to have peaked in 1998 Harrabin went as far ‘change the news' to accommodate the anger of a climate activist.

Then there is Susan Watts, BBC TV's Newsnight's science editor, who informed the British public that "Scientists calculate that President Obama has just four years to save the world". It was unclear whether she meant from climate catastrophe or a prospective Palin White House. (I assume the former, liberal hand-wringing angst over Sarah Palin will come soon enough.) Watts later confirmed, via her blog, that she was referring to comments by Dr James Hansen. For the uninitiated Hansen is the resident alarmist nut-job at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies - a man whose ‘science' his more serious NASA colleagues are queuing up to skewer publicly.

In ‘BBC Abandons "impartiality" on warming' Chris Booker provides other examples of Watts' "bizarre" reporting, including editing Obama's inaugural speech "to convey a considerably stronger impression of what Obama has said on global warming than his careful wording justified." Booker also reminds us that, "as late as August 28, 2008, it [the BBC] was still predicting the Arctic ice might soon disappear". By the end of the year, the Arctic ice was reported as having grown by 30 percent. Needless to say, those reports too were frozen out of BBC reports. Then there was the controversy over an ‘impartial' BBC devoting 15 hours of airtime to the Live Earth/Al Gore Propaganda Show in 2007. It featured at one point a giant poster of Michael Mann's famous computer modelled "hockey stick" temperature graph. As Booker points out, "one of the most discredited artefacts in the history of science".

Okay, so why pick on the BBC? Haven't they enough troubles playing down internal reports that confirm their ideologically leftwing and liberal biases? True enough. But the BBC loves to call itself, as we have noted, the ‘world's broadcaster'. Fair enough. But its scientifically-challenged science/enviro correspondents, as Dr Richard North's excellent 2006 report ‘The BBC's Climate Change Meltdown' notes concerning those that know more science than they (mentioning Harrabin and Watts by name), they "give us every sign that they think sceptics are fools or knaves or both". Cometh the time then, only the highest profile ritual humiliation will do.

The BBC, replete with its increasingly shabby values, is now a growing player in the American and Canadian markets too, with shows including Dancing With The Stars - a programme, by the way, that cause celebrities to rush around expelling enormous quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. If I sound a tad peevish, it's with good reason. As a British citizen I am forced annually to subsidize the BBC (British Bias Corporation) via Britain's iniquitous TV licence fee ‘tax'. Fact is, there was a time in Britain when ‘end is nigh' placarders and other much-loved eccentrics, operated at the margins of society. Sadly, today they have moved indoors, gained a degree in journalism and become proficient at state of the art graphics. Novelist Graham Greene once wrote, "A petty reason...why novelists more and more try to keep a distance from journalists is that novelists are trying to write the truth and journalists are trying to write fiction". We might add, given the BBC's appalling reporting record on climate issues, "mostly science-fiction, too".


A libertarian comment on Obama's Climate Change Report

This morning I woke to a lengthy report by NASA showing alleged imminent disaster from climate changes. The report states unequivocally that some huge percentage of the change is human induced, although nothing shown demonstrates or supports this claim. The time line of many of the videos showing erosion and melting of snow is not clear and there are no comparisons to earlier changes in the earth’s climate, no indication of whether other periods of the earth’s history have had changes similar in size or frequency.

But the report has one clear feature. It is scary and anyone not in the know about these matters cannot but be worried from what it contains. And I am not in the know—I am no expert, that's for sure, nor are most American citizens.

So why should it be distrusted? Well, pretty much for the reason that virtually all government reports need to be distrusted —remember those WMDs—especially when their policy implications are the accrual to government of massive powers to control the lives of the citizenry. All of the recommendations broadcast in this report would, if followed, require massive transfer of resources from the private sector to the government, in addition to the imposition of aggressive regulations and controls, i.e., violaitons of our rights.

The bottom line here is, not at all surprisingly to anyone who has focused on how governments everywhere tend to function, that governments must have more power to deal with a crisis, with no clear proof of the need for any government intervention —no one’s rights are being violated other than by some externalities (which is nothing new).

But even if something needed to be addressed, there is no reason to believe that the government is competent or suited to be the agent of remedy. That is not what governments are about. When, however, they are entrusted with —or simply grab—a job unsuited to their competence and mission, the results will be highly regrettable.

One need not attribute ill will to those who propose these massive government “solutions” to problems facing us, including at the global environmental level. The conceit that "we are the government, and we are here to help" is an old one, all the way from ancient Sparta to modern Washington, D.C.

Folks with power tend to imagine themselves wise, as well, but that is a grave mistake. It has gotten many societies into terrible trouble, when government is taken to be the master who will deal with all the problems. Invariably the citizens become servants of the master.

The way the report came across from NASA, by the way, fully confirms such worries. There was no mention of any skepticism about global human induced climate change —specifically, global warming—despite the fact that world wide the number of highly educated skeptics is growing. The computer models, on which predictions are made which, then, supposedly justify various coercive precautionary measures governments, are to undertake are now in considerable dispute. (Oddly, the recent economic fiasco is being blamed by some of the analysts on the flawed models used to estimate the significance of various types of risks but no one seems to be considering that this should be a warning about trusting such models in other areas.)

For me, personally, there is virtually no excuse for increasing the power governments wield over citizens, none. The most general but also persuasive reason is simple: governments are but other people and these other people have no credible authority to control the rest of us no matter what the excuse that’s invoked this time—with numerous others, equally suspect, having been invoked before.

But the governmental habit is very difficult to extinguish and people haven’t begun to work on that task until rather recently, with the American Founders having given a major but by no means necessarily lasting impetus for such extinction. If anything, the current political leadership across the U.S.A. has all be abandoned that brilliant legacy of Jefferson, Madison, Jay and Co., that began to demote government from its pretense at superiority. President Obama seems to be entirely unaware of —or resistant to—their teachings.


Global Warming Bill Is A Job-Killer

Environment: Democrats failed to create jobs with their unnecessary, pork-laden stimulus bill. Now they want to kill even more of them with an equally unnecessary global warming bill.

The party that cares so much about jobs for "working families" sure has a funny way of saving them. Amid pre-summer frosts and hailstorms, the White House this week released a sky-is-falling report on global warming that outdoes even Al Gore in predicting doomsday scenarios.

"Heat waves will become more frequent and intense," the report warns, unleashing an apocalypse of "major insect outbreaks" and herbicide-resistant, garden-choking . . . "weeds" (horrors!). "Heat waves" in the Midwest and "extreme heat" in the Northeast will lead to "increases in heat-related deaths."

Really? Tell that to berry farmers in Michigan, whose crops have been delayed by a cold snap for the second spring in a row. Or New Englanders, who have seen temperatures drop four degrees below normal.

It's all a set-up for a painful government fix. The public duly alarmed, the White House embraces a House bill to control industrial carbon emissions through a punishing cap-and-trade scheme. The Democrats' energy bill would have the effect of de-industrializing America and cost millions of jobs — something its authors, Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, indirectly acknowledge. Buried in the fine print of their jobs-killing bill is a provision to provide relief against massive dislocations.

"The Democrats' bill has an unemployment provision that provides 70% of your job benefit for at least three years — in addition to any other unemployment benefits — if you lose your job because of that bill," Rep. Joe Barton, D-Texas, said. "They, at least tacitly, recognize that their bill is going to cost millions and millions of jobs." In other words, the cap on emissions requires a cap on job losses.

Even a top White House official concedes cap-and-trade regulations would cause severe job losses. "Job losses could occur throughout the economy but would probably be especially large in industries associated with high-carbon fuels," said White House Budget Director Peter Orszag — but he said it in 2007, when he was congressional budget director.

Democrats argue the bill will create jobs "in the long run" by creating a green economy. They cite "green jobs" like making parts for windmills and growing grass on building rooftops. Luddites unite! "I think the creation of jobs by this bill far outstrip any losses," Gore recently testified before Markey's panel. "There would be potentially massive job losses if we did not adopt this legislation."

Gore also insisted that global warming is "accelerating" — ignoring reports to the contrary, including one by NASA that notes the sun is the coolest and calmest it has been in 100 years. In other words, the solar cycle that led to minor increases in average temps is over, and we are entering a cooling phase.

Apparently, Gore includes NASA scientists among the "outlier quacks" he thinks are conspiring with the "carbon polluters" in "a massive fraud" and cover-up about "man-made global warming."

The former vice president has a vested interest in continuing to emit such hot air — beyond books and films and prizes. He's a partner in a capital firm called Kleiner Perkins, which has invested some $1 billion in 40 companies that stand to benefit from cap-and-trade regs. Gore would also benefit.

Meanwhile, America's unemployment rate is heading to double-digit territory — a level not seen in a generation. Besides being wholly unnecessary, such draconian environmental regulation risks making higher unemployment in America permanent, a la Europe.



India is planning to raise its coal production target, and the new government is committed to the reform of the sector, including divestment in coal-mining monopoly Coal India Ltd., the country's coal minister said Wednesday. Coal Minister Shriprakash Jaiswal said reforms will be pursued, but meanwhile state-run coal miners including Coal India will likely raise their production targets to match increases in local demand. "It is imperative that coal production should be increased beyond the set target ...We want to set strict targets for our companies to make sure our production grows quickly," he said.

However, he added, "Raising production in the next three months will be difficult because of rains. We'll at least try to maintain output."

Faced with rising imports, India has been desperately trying to raise production, but successive governments have failed to introduce reforms that would open the sector to private investment. An industry regulator is also needed to shepherd through gradual reforms.



Angered by White House decisions on everything from greenhouse gases to car dealerships, congressional Democrats from rural districts are threatening to revolt against parts of President Barack Obama's ambitious first-year agenda. "They don't get rural America," said Rep. Dennis Cardoza, a Democrat who represents California's agriculture-rich Central Valley. "They form their views of the world in large cities."

Cardoza's critique was aimed at Obama's Environmental Protection Agency, but it echoes complaints rural-district Democrats have about a number of Obama administration decisions. "I wouldn't say it's a complete strikeout, but they've just got a few more bases to it when it comes to the rural community," said Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu.

A rural revolt could hamper the administration's ability to pass climate change and health care legislation before the August recess. Democrats from farm states are some of the same moderate members Obama must win to get almost any piece of his agenda through the Senate: Landrieu and Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Without their votes, Democrats can't move legislation over Republican filibusters. In the House, rural Democrats threaten to marshal nearly 50 votes against the climate and energy bill backed by the administration. [...]

While these issues play out most dramatically in farm states, they could have an impact that spreads much further. Forcing rural Democrats to vote for climate change legislation could create problems for the Democrats nationally in 2010 and 2012. "If Collin Peterson and these rural and conservative Democrats in the House are unable to work out some arrangement with [Henry] Waxman and [Ed] Markey, it could resonate beyond the Beltway," said Al Cross, director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and a veteran Kentucky political reporter.

Cross noted that 80 percent of the electricity that rural cooperatives generate comes from coal-fired power plants - the same ones that would take a hit under the current legislation. And many of these regions that run on coal also happen to be electoral swing states, leaving Republicans licking their chops.



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


Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Past And Future of Climate by David Archibald

Solar expert pessimistic. Thinks severe cooling is getting underway

Will the next cycle be a Dalton Minimum repeat, or a start of a new Maunder Minimum?

This is what David Archibald went on to say to SC25.Com in a recent email: He believes that start of Solar Cycle 24 could also be the start of a new Dalton or Maunder Minimum, the historic cooler conditions on Earth (see the period on display on the above overlay) that correlate to low solar activity and "Global Cooling".

He then said that the Maximum Sunspot count he expects is HALF of that forecast by NASA, in that David only expects no more then 45 Sunspots at the SC24 Maxima (last seen in 1803), and in his own words "it could even be south of that".

David also pointed out....."Solar Cycle 24 might not start until some time in 2010, and then be 15 years long. So Solar Cycle 25 might not start until 2025"......so is it bad news for the site name, no,.......we will keep you informed on the progress of Solar Cycle 24...if that Solar Cycle is bad news then SC25 could be a lot worse.....stay turned.


The exploding carbon tax

The costs imposed by the cap and trade system are equivalent to raising a family of four's income tax by 50 percent

by Martin Feldstein

The cap and trade legislation supported by the Obama administration is a stealth strategy for a massive long-term tax increase. It is a large tax on all American households, and the tax burden rises in future years without any need for further legislation. It will evolve into an enormous new source of tax revenue for the government.

A cap and trade system is supposed to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by raising the price of CO2-intensive goods and services like gasoline, electricity, and a wide range of industrial products. This, in theory, will induce consumers to shift their spending to services and products that involve lower levels of CO2 emissions. It achieves these price increases by requiring firms that create CO2 in their production process, or sell goods like gasoline that create CO2 when used, to have a permit per ton of CO2 emission.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that reducing the level of CO2 to 15 percent less than the total level of U.S. emissions in 2005 would require permit prices that would increase the cost of living of a typical household by $1,600 a year. To put that $1,600 carbon tax in perspective, a typical family of four with earnings of $50,000 now pays an income tax of about $3,000. The tax imposed by the cap and trade system is therefore equivalent to raising the family's income tax by about 50 percent. (Some advocates of a cap and trade program argue that the cost to households could be much less than $1,600 if the government uses the tax revenue to finance transfers to low income households and tax cuts to others, but since there is no way to know how the future revenue would actually be used, the only number we have to consider is the $1,600 direct increase in the burden on households.)

The Waxman-Markey bill that recently passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee would cause an even greater initial rise in the cost of living by its requirement to cut CO2 emissions to 17 percent less than the 2005 level of emissions rather than the 15 percent reduction assumed in the CBO estimates. (European officials are, moreover, calling for the United States to agree to a much bigger initial cut--20 percent less than the U.S. emission level in 1990.)

As the legislated CO2 reduction increases automatically after 2020, the price of the permits would rise to further limit consumers' demand for CO2-intensive goods and services. The Waxman-Markey legislation requires the CO2 level in 2050 to be an amazing 83 percent less than it was in 2005, and a study by the EPA estimates that the price of the permit would rise from about $20 a ton in 2020 to more than $75 a ton in 2050. The higher permit costs would be reflected in the prices that households would pay for CO2-intensive goods and services.

Rises in the cost of living would be greater for households that use more energy and CO2-intensive goods and services. The implied rate of the cap and trade carbon tax would therefore rise with income. In that way it would act like an income tax--reducing the reward for additional effort by putting a tax wedge between the individuals' additional work effort and the resulting increase in their standard of living. But while it would collect more tax from higher income households, the cap and trade tax would be a relatively heavier burden on lower-income and middle-income households. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that spending on "carbon based energy" is 21.4 percent of income among households in the lowest income quintile but only 4.1 percent of income in the highest income quintile.


Trains more harmful for climate than planes

Assuming that CO2 emissions are harmful

A new study has suggested that greenhouse gas emissions generated by trains are much higher than those produced by an airplane. Unlike previous studies on transport emissions, this one looks beyond what is emitted by different types of car, train, bus or plane while their engines are running and includes emissions from building and maintaining the vehicles and their infrastructure, as well as generating the fuel to run them. Including these additional sources of pollution more than doubles the greenhouse gas emissions of train travel.

The emissions generated by car travel increase by nearly one third when manufacturing and infrastructure are taken into account. In comparison to cars on roads and trains on tracks, air travel requires little infrastructure. As a result, full life-cycle emissions are between 10 and 20 per cent higher than “tailpipe” emissions.

According to a report in New Scientist, Mikhail Chester and Arpad Horvath of the University of California, Berkeley, included in their calculations data on the “life expectancy” of each component of each mode of transportation, such as the tracks used by a train and the airports used by aircraft. They calculated the total “travel kilometers” each component allows and how many tonnes of greenhouse gases were emitted to build and maintain each component. This allowed them to calculate the component’s emissions per kilometre travelled, for each mode of transport per kilometre for each traveller on board.

Cars emitted more than any other form of transport with the notable exception of off-peak buses, which often carry few passengers. Passengers on the Boston light rail, an electric commuter train, were found to emit as much or marginally more than those on mid-size and large aircraft. This is because burning fossil fuels generates 82 per cent of electricity in Massachusetts.

More than half of the life-cycle emissions from rail come not from the engines’ exhausts, but infrastructure development, such as station building and track laying, and providing power to stations, lit parking lots and escalators. “Any government considering expanding its rail network should take into account the emissions it will generate in doing so,” Chester said. “New rail systems should serve as links to other transit modes, as is often the case in Europe and Japan,” he added. “We should avoid building rail systems that are disconnected from major population areas and require car trips and parking to access,” he explained.


Geologist points out major flaws in Obama's 'new scare report'

Below is a guest post by Geophysicist Dr. David Deming, associate professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oklahoma who has published numerous peer-reviewed research articles

1. The new scare report issued by the Obama administration refers to the work of Stephen H. Schneider six times. You will recall that Schneider is infamous for telling Discover magazine (October, 1989, p. 45-48) that "we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have...each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest."

2. There has been no sea level rise for the past three years.

3. Hurricane, typhoon, and tropical cyclone activity is at a 30-year low.

4. The satellite data (UAH MSU) currently show that mean global temperature is about the same as it was in June of 1979 ...no, if anything, it is LOWER.

5. Mean global sea ice is at the 20-year mean level, and the same as it was in 1979 when monitoring began.

6. Global "warming" is based almost entirely on the record from meteorological stations. Anthony Watt's survey of 1221 weather stations is now 70 percent complete, and shows that an astonishing 69 percent of these stations are likely to have serious errors, due to their being located near heat sources such as asphalt paving, air conditioning vents, etc.

After following this subject now since the mid 1980s, I become more skeptical every year. I am now beginning to conclude that global warming simply does not exist.


Climate Sensitivity (CS), Negative Feedback (NF), and all that

(SEPP Science Editorial #17-2009 of 6/13/09)

Based on empirical evidence, various researchers have concluded that CS is much smaller than the model-derived values quoted by the IPCC. Some of the empirical studies compare observed temperature trends over time with IPCC values [Schwartz, Monckton, etc]; others [Douglass, Singer, NIPCC] compare observed and modeled patterns of temperature trends (“fingerprints”)’

CS is conventionally defined as the equilibrium temp rise caused by a doubled forcing of GH gases; it is often taken to be just a doubling of CO2 levels. The ‘canonical’ CS values of the IPCC range from 1.5 to 4.5 C, with a median of 3.0 C. Many model calculations show higher values, depending on assumptions about cloud parameters; for example, Stainforth et al [2005] quote as high as 11.5 C.

The empirical values for CS are all well below the IPCC’s; some are 0.5 C or even less, corresponding to a trend of Global Mean Sfc Temp (GMST) of only about 0.05 C/decade and a tropical troposphere trend of about 0.1 C/decade. These trends are at or below the limit of detection, because of the interfering effects of aerosol emissions (both natural and anthropogenic), volcanic eruptions, El Niños and other, less dramatic atmosphere-ocean interactions.

The ‘fingerprint’ method can only conclude that anthropogenic effects are not detected [NIPCC], and yields no values for CS – only an upper limit of perhaps 0.3 C, an order of magnitude smaller than the IPCC’s median value.

How to account for the huge discrepancy between IPCC and NIPCC? In principle, one can invoke natural forcings, both external (solar) and internal, as well as aerosols that affect the optical properties of the atmosphere. It is tempting, however, to first investigate the possibility of negative feedbacks within the climate system itself, principally the various effects of water in the atmosphere.

Atmospheric water can occur in three different forms: as a gas -- water vapor (WV), as liquid cloud droplets, and as solid ice particles. In principle, one can measure the climate effects of each component, as we shall discuss below.

1. Liquid: The negative feedback effects of water droplets are easiest to visualize [Singer WSJ 1988]. As the oceans warm, increased evaporation can increase cloudiness, increasing optical albedo, and reducing the incidence of solar radiation at the surface – thus reducing any warming caused by increasing GH gases. But measuring such an albedo change is difficult, requiring accuracies of a fraction of a percent and exceptional stability over a number of years.

2. WV: Models all assume a constant relative humidity with altitude; thus WV in the cold upper troposphere (UT) will radiate at a low temperature and contribute little to OLR (outgoing long-wave radiation), with the remainder therefore coming from the warm surface. (Total OLR is fixed and must equal absorbed solar energy.) However, if atmospheric processes manage to achieve a drying of the UT (as GH gases increase) [Ellsaesser, Gray, Lindzen], then WV will radiate at the higher temperature of the boundary layer, contribute the bulk of the OLR, and leave less IR emission from the surface.

Satellite measurements, such as by the AIRS instrument, can resolve the WV bands in the OLR and determine the source temperature. Data would be required versus latitude, and over a number of years.

3. Ice: Convective activity in the tropics can transport moisture to heights near the tropopause where ice crystals would form cirrus clouds, often invisible but having strong absorption properties over the entire effective IR region. A reduction of the area covered by cirrus (“iris effect” – Lindzen) would permit more escape of IR from the surface and thus produce a cooling -- a negative feedback.

Again, AIRS data could obtain the necessary confirming data by observing long-term trends.

NF is not a sure thing; aerosols and/or natural forcings can reduce and even overcome GH warming. At present, one cannot tell which of the possible NF effects is dominant; but the right kind of data could help settle the issue. Establishing the magnitude of NF would independently confirm the low values of CS.


As Wind Power Grows, a Push to Tear Down Dams

This is Greenie destructiveness at its craziest. Tear down a reliable power source and replace it by a highly intermittent one?? That will mean NO power at all for parts of most days

For decades, most of the nation’s renewable power has come from dams, which supplied cheap electricity without requiring fossil fuels. But the federal agencies running the dams often compiled woeful track records on other environmental issues.

Now, with the focus in Washington on clean power, some dam agencies are starting to go green, embracing wind power and energy conservation. The most aggressive is the Bonneville Power Administration, whose power lines carry much of the electricity in the Pacific Northwest. The agency also provides a third of the region’s power supply, drawn mostly from generators inside big dams.

The amount of wind power on the Bonneville transmission system quadrupled in the last three years and is expected to double again in another two. The turbines are making an electricity system with low carbon emissions even greener — already, in Seattle, more than 90 percent of the power comes from renewable sources.

Yet the shift of emphasis at the dam agencies is proving far from simple. It could end up pitting one environmental goal against another, a tension that is emerging in renewable-power projects across the country.

Environmental groups contend that the Bonneville Power Administration’s shift to wind turbines buttresses their case for tearing down dams in the agency’s territory, particularly four along the lower Snake River in Washington State that helped decimate one of North America’s great runs of wild salmon.

Bonneville wants to keep all the dams, arguing that they not only provide cheap power but they also make an ideal complement to large-scale installation of wind power. When the wind slows and power production drops, the agency argues, it can compensate quickly by telling the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation, which operate the dams, to release more water from reservoirs to turn the huge generators. When the wind picks up, dam operations can be slowed.

The dams help alleviate a need for natural-gas-fired power plants, which are used in other regions as a backup power source when the wind stops blowing, but which release carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming.

By balancing wind power with hydropower, the Bonneville Power Administration says it believes it can limit the use of natural gas and coal plants across the West, even as the region’s demand for electricity rises. Around the country, dams provide 6 percent of electricity generation — double the amount from other renewable sources like wind, solar power and biomass — and much of that is concentrated in the West.

The influx of wind on Bonneville’s system has come as a result of renewable power goals set by governments in the Western states, which aim to reduce their output of greenhouse gases. Bonneville says that when the wind is blowing most strongly, 18 percent of the power in its control area now comes from wind, and that number may rise to 30 percent next year. (Not all of that is consumed in the Pacific Northwest; some is sold to California.)

The rise in wind power means that the dam agency has emerged as a national test case for how to integrate large amounts of intermittent wind power into a regional electric grid. “I’ve described this as a grand experiment,” said Stephen J. Wright, the administrator of the 72-year-old Bonneville Power Administration.

The agency stresses the challenge it faces, making sure the lights stay on despite the ups and downs of the wind. Many new wind farms lie along the gusty Columbia River corridor, and their concentration means that changes in the wind can bring sudden dips and spikes in the power they generate. “We can have periods that go from full, maximum wind output to zero across an hour,” Mr. Wright said.

Because of its erratic nature, wind power — and the need for dams or other backup systems — has become intertwined with the fate of salmon, perhaps the biggest environmental controversy in the Pacific Northwest.

For decades, environmentalists, fishermen and some local politicians, who want to save the endangered salmon, have fought Bonneville and the Army Corps of Engineers, which want to keep the lower Snake River dams. A federal judge overseeing the dispute has accused the federal agencies of not working hard enough to save the salmon and had raised the possibility of breaching those dams to aid the fish.

Wild salmon ride the river in two directions. They spawn far upstream, and the young fish swim downriver to the Pacific Ocean. They spend several years there, feeding and growing quite large, before swimming back upstream to spawn and die.

The large reservoirs created over the decades as the dams were built have slowed and complicated their journeys, and slashed survival rates. Fish ladders help on the way back upstream, but those salmon that get through in both directions end up traumatized and weakened, biologists say.

When it comes to helping salmon, Bonneville has “been dragged kicking and screaming every inch of the way,” said Bill Arthur, a Sierra Club representative in the Northwest. Mr. Arthur praised the agency’s efforts to add wind power, but he argued that the four lower Snake River dams, which are far smaller than major dams like Grand Coulee, were not needed to back up wind power.



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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Climate change is happening 'here, now': US government report

Of course there is climate change. There always has been. The only interesting question is whether mankind can do anything about it. Periods of warming and cooling oscillate and the last period of warming ended 10 years ago

THE harmful effects of global warming are being felt "here and now and in your backyard", a groundbreaking US government report on climate change warned today. “Climate change is happening now, it is not something that will happen decades or centuries in the future,” Jerry Melillo of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts, one of the lead authors of the report, told AFP.

Climate change, which the report blames largely on human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases, “is under way in the United States and projected to grow,” said the report by the US Global Change Research Program, a grouping of a dozen government agencies and the White House.

The report is the first on climate change since President Barack Obama took office and outlines in plain, non-scientific terms [non-scientific indeed] how global warming has resulted in an increase of extreme weather such as the powerful heatwave that swept Europe in 2003, claiming tens of thousands of lives. [If global warming caused that, why have we seen no similar episodes since?]

Hurricanes have become fiercer as they gather greater strength over oceans warmed by climate change. [Widely disputed by experts]

Global warming impacts everything from water supplies to energy, farming to health. And those impacts are expected to increase [No harm in expecting. But many expectations are disappointed], according to the report titled Global Change Impacts in the United States.

Areas of the country that already had high levels of rain or snowfall have seen increases in precipitation because of climate change [Since there has been no significant change for 10 years, that's an unlikely "because"], says the report, which focuses on the US but also tackles global climate change issues.

“We focused on regions of the US because another big message we wanted to get across is that not only is climate change happening now, but it's happening in your backyard,” said Melillo. “You care a great deal more about a tornado in your own backyard than one half a world away,” said David Doniger, senior policy director at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Arid areas, such as the largely desert US Southwest, are experiencing more droughts. [So some places get more rain and some get less. How is that an indication of overall change? If there really was warming, total rain should increase]

On the US Gulf Coast, sea level rise is particularly pressing [Only on the Gulf coast? That doesn't sound very global!]; in the Northwest, how long snowpack sits on the mountains might be [and might not be] an issue, and farmers in the Midwest are concerned because winters have become milder, allowing more pests to survive the season. [Have you ever met a happy farmer?]

But climate change also operates in a global nexus and the US cannot be viewed in isolation, the 196-page report says. Climate change-related food production problems in one part of the world can affect food prices and production decisions in the US, he added. [Political decisions are the major influence, though] “There is a whole host of connections when you discuss climate change; the US cannot be viewed as an island,” Melillo said.

The chief aim of the report is to help US policymakers and the general public make decisions on how to act to halt climate change, Melillo said. The report's release comes just six months before countries from around the world meet in the Danish capital Copenhagen for a UN conference that aims to produce an ambitious, new climate pact aimed at rolling back global warming.

Experts have been thrashing out a draft of a negotiating text for the new pact meant to take effect from the end of 2012, spelling out curbs on emissions by 2020 that will be deepened by 2050.

Reports issued by the previous administration of president George W. Bush - who famously rejected the Kyoto Protocol [It was actually the U.S. Senate that rejected it], the previous UN framework on climate change - were highly technical and did not cover as many issues as the sweeping first report issued by the Obama White House, said Melillo.

The report stresses the need for immediate action against global warming, saying: “Future climate change and its impacts depend on choices made today.” “We have the power to determine how bad this could be and to avoid the worst impacts of global warming,” said Doniger. [Only given some rather mad and counterfactual assumptions -- about clouds, for instance]

“It's like Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol,' where the ghosts come and show Scrooge the way the future could unfold into either a happy future or a disastrous future. “This shows us that the future is in our hands, just as it was in Scrooge's hands,” said Doniger. [Hubris]

SOURCE. The original report can be found here

Some comments on the above report from Roger Pielke Jr

Imagine if an industry-funded government contractor had a hand in writing a major federal report on climate change. And imagine if that person used his position to misrepresent the science, to cite his own non-peer reviewed work, and to ignore relevant work in the peer-reviewed literature. There would be an outrage, surely . . .

The Obama Administration has re-released a report (PDF) first issued in draft form by the Bush Administration last July (still online PDF). The substance of the report is essentially the same as last year's version, with a bit more professionalism in the delivery. For instance, the photo-shopped picture of a flood appears to be removed and the embarrassing executive summary has been replaced by something more appropriate.

This post is about how the report summarizes the issue of disasters and climate change, including several references to my work, which is misrepresented. This post is long and detailed, which is necessary to support my claims. But stick with it, or skip to the end if you've seen the details before (and long-time readers will have seen them often), there is a surprise at the end.


So a person responsible for misrepresenting science in a government report has ties and presumably financial interests with companies that have an interest in climate policy outcomes? No, couldn't be. Could it?

For those wanting a more rounded picture of extremes in the United States, here is what an earlier CCSP report concluded about extreme events in the United States, but which was uncited by this new CCSP report in this paragraph:

1. Over the long-term U.S. hurricane landfalls have been declining.

2. Nationwide there have been no long-term increases in drought.

3. Despite increases in some measures of precipitation (pp. 46-50, pp. 130-131), there have not been corresponding increases in peak streamflows (high flows above 90th percentile).

4. There have been no observed changes in the occurrence of tornadoes or thunderstorms

5. There have been no long-term increases in strong East Coast winter storms (ECWS), called Nor’easters.

6. There are no long-term trends in either heat waves or cold spells, though there are trends within shorter time periods in the overall record.


The con is on: how carbon credits neuter Cap & Trade

An economist ridicules the current U.S. climate bill

In my discussion of the Cap & Trade scheme for carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2E) emissions (greenhouse gases) proposed by U.S. Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Edward Markey, D-Mass. (the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act of 2009), I argue that the two key issues are (1) the size of the overall quota and (2) the enforcement of the rule that without a permit, you cannot emit.

Prima facie, the scheme looks tough. The Discussion Draft Summary of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 reads: “The draft establishes a market-based program for reducing global warming pollution from electric utilities, oil companies, large industrial sources, and other covered entities that collectively are responsible for 85% of U.S. global warming emissions. Under this program, covered entities must have tradable federal permits, called “allowances,” for each ton of pollution emitted into the atmosphere. Entities that emit less than 25,000 tons per year of CO2 equivalent are not covered by this program. The program reduces the number of available allowances issued each year to ensure that aggregate emissions from the covered entities are reduced by 3% below 2005 levels in 2012, 20% below 2005 levels in 2020, 42% below 2005 levels in 2030, and 83% below 2005 levels in 2050.”

In fact, the scheme is a total con. It permits the US to increase CO2E emissions until 2020. The escape mechanism used - carbon offsets or carbon credits - suggests that for the period 2020 - 2050 also, the supposed intent of the Act - to reduce CO2E emissions in the US - will be neutered.

Provided the secondary markets for permits are efficient, Cap & Trade is equivalent to a tax on CO2E emissions. They both have the same informational requirements for the policy authorities/regulators: the authorities must be able to monitor and measure the actual volume of CO2E emissions. That is not a minor challenge, because there are many sources of CO2E emissions, and many of them are either hard to monitor or too small-scale to warrant the fixed cost of monitoring. That’s why ACES exempts entities that emit less than 25,000 tons per year of CO2 equivalent. So my father-in-law’s barbecue activities will probably be exempt. That is just as well, as his grilled swordfish is to die for. Monitoring and measuring the actual volume of emissions is difficult, but in principle it can be done in a way that can be independently verified.

Carbon offsets: a con for our time

The ACES bill allows polluters to purchase up to 2bn tonnes a year in carbon “offsets”, over and above the total allowance provided by the permits of the Cap & Trade scheme. This 2bn-tonne annual offset allowance exceeds all the CO2E emission reductions envisaged between now and 2040! As further icing on the environmental cake, many of these offsets could be purchased overseas (and be based on overseas ‘carbon offset operations’), and would therefore not reduce US domestic emissions, even if they reduced overseas emissions (which they probably won’t anyway, as I argue below).

What is a carbon offset or carbon credit? A carbon offset or credit is the right to an additional allowance to emit greenhouse gases, which is created by some activity or investment that has reduced carbon emissions, or rather, that is alleged to have reduced carbon emissions, based on some counterfactual, hypothetical scenario. This credit can be sold by the originator to interested parties such as a US utility that wishes to emit more CO2E than the sum of its free allowance and any additional purchases it has made of additional permits in the secondary market for permits.

An example is tree planting. Joe Bloggs plants a bunch of trees, say in a re-forestation project in the Amazon jungle. A number is put on the amount of C02 that will be absorbed by these additional trees. This becomes a carbon offset or carbon credit that can be sold by Joe to some avid polluter in America. What’s wrong with this? Nothing, except that the claim about the additional CO2 that will be absorbed by the tree planting project is non-verifiable. Even if we can determine exactly how much CO2 will be absorbed by the re-forested patch of jungle between now and Kingdom Come, we still don’t know what we need to know. What we need to know is how many of these additional trees would have been planted in the absence of the carbon offset or carbon credit scheme. If Joe would have planted the same number of trees in any case, even without the incentive of the revenue from the carbon offsets/credits, the project is not ‘additional’.

It gets better. Carbon credits/offsets have been awarded not just for planting trees, but also for not cutting them down. The logic is impeccable - if without the carbon offsets I would have cut down the trees, CO2 absorption would have been lower, so the scheme is additional - but non-verifiable. “Hello, Honey! Busy day again. Been hard at it, not cutting down those trees again. Money’s on the way.” It’s rather like a counterfactual version of the set-asides of US and EU agricultural policy.

For carbon offsets or carbon credit schemes to work you don’t just have to monitor and measure actual carbon emissions. You have to be able to monitor and measure carbon emissions in a hypothetical, counterfactual ‘parallel’ universe in which the carbon offset scheme does not exist. We can build mental, mathematical models of that hypothetical, counterfactual universe, but we cannot measure it objectively, the way we can, in principle, measure actual emissions. Controlled experiments are not possible. Natural experiments are likely to be few, far between and of dodgy quality.

So how does one establish the degree of additionality of schemes and projects that are proposed as candidates for carbon credits or carbon offsets generating activities or investments? Well, you hire an expert. I know there are honest and incorruptible experts. I also know that there are sufficient numbers of dishonest, corruptible experts who will certify anything for the right price. I fear that any claim to additionality for even the wonkiest carbon-offsets generating project will be certified by some unscrupulous, dishonest expert, agency or business. The shameful recent experience of the rating agencies in the rating of complex structured financial products shows how low experts and professionals will stoop if the price is right.

This generalised “trahison des clercs” has produced a vast and growing industry of verifiers and certifiers of candidate carbon offset producing projects, investments and activities. No doubt there are competent, well-intentioned and honest practitioners of the CO2E additionality arts. The problem is, we will never know. We have to take the word of experts and professionals who are exposed to the most naked conflict of interest. There have already been reports of claims for carbon credits/offsets that were so blatantly ridiculous (including the repeated not cutting down on the same patch of hardwood forest). The world will be taken for a massive ride if we don’t kill the whole carbon offsets/carbon credits business outright.

The political economy of the birth of this demented carbon credit/offset scheme was the perception in the rich industrial countries that the developing countries had to ‘get something’ out of the war on global warming. Perhaps they should. Carbon credits/offsets, however, are not the way to do it. An elaborate con, employing mainly consultants and specialised businesses from the advanced industrial countries, is not a solid foundation for economic development.


Given the reality that ACES allows CO2E emissions to be increased, effectively indefinitely, some of the more bizarre features of the law make more sense. There is no economic problem (‘just’ a breach of faith) with the fact that Candidate Obama’s election promise that 100 per cent of carbon trading permits would be auctioned off in the carbon market has been scrapped. About 85 per cent of the allowances will be given away to various interested and hard-lobbying parties in the energy sector; local electricity distribution companies are scheduled to receive 35 per cent of the permits.

The initial allocation of the permits is a distributional issue, not an efficiency issue. It determines how the scarcity rents created by the permits are allocated. It need not interfere with the efficient abatement of CO2E emissions, as long as the allocation does not depend on current and future planned or expected emission volumes. Even if all permits are given free of charge to the biggest historical polluters, they will have a scarcity value (opportunity cost) to these historical polluters. They can keep them and continue to pollute, or they can sell them in the secondary market for permits. If this secondary market for permits is reasonably efficient (admittedly an untested conjecture), the right signals will be given to ensure that the mandated overall reduction in emission volumes is achieved in the most cost-efficient manner.

But what does not make even an ounce of sense in the draft ACES law, is that regulators will be required to ensure that distributors and other recipients of free permit allocations, pass on the full value of these allowances to the consumer. Consumers, whose energy demand is the ultimate cause of the CO2E emissions, will therefore have no financial or price incentive to reduce their energy consumption. The allocations of permits to the energy producers will have no value to these energy producers, because they have to pass the scarcity rents on to the consumers.

The result is that the entire permit scheme does not alter the price or quantity constraints faced by any participant in the CO2E scheme. Therefore, emissions will not be reduced. But that is inconsistent with the supposed desire to reduce emissions to 83 percent of their 2005 level by 2020 and to 17 percent of the 2005 level by 2050. Except that is it not inconsistent if there is no intention to reduce emissions at all, but instead every intention to permit them to be raised above their 2005 levels. And that is of course what is going on.

A similar sleight of hand can be found in another part of the ACES Act - ‘the renewable electricity requirement’. This begins at 6% in 2012 and gradually rises to 25% in 2025. But the governor of any state may choose to meet one fifth of this requirement with energy efficiency measures. This means that the renewable energy objective is emasculated by allowing power companies to count efficiency savings as part of their renewable energy target. Think about it. Energy savings already get rewarded, because you need fewer CO2E emissions permits. Counting them in addition as a contribution to renewable energy is double counting.


The American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act of 2009 is worse than nothing: it is a con and a fraud. It pretends to be a vehicle for reductions in CO2E emissions. In fact it is designed to permit increases in CO2E emissions.

Reducing CO2E emissions is painful. America doesn’t do pain any longer. Be it the environmental or the fiscal arena, only painless solutions are politically acceptable and feasible. When there are no painless solutions, problems are allowed to fester and grow until they finally blow up. It is time for America to grow up and to accept that there are problems for which there are no painless solutions.


Ice shelves stable over at least the last six years

Yes. Bits of ice do break off and always have but there is no increase in it happening

ANTARCTIC ice shelves are showing no sign of climate change, six years of unique research have shown. Scientists from Western Australia's Curtin University of Technology are using acoustic sensors developed to support the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to listen for the sound of icebergs breaking away from the giant ice sheets of the south pole. "More than six years of observation has not revealed any significant climatic trends," CUT associate professor Alexander Gavrilov said yesterday.

Professor Gavrilov and PhD student Binghui Li are investigating whether it is possible to detect and monitor significant changes in the disintegration rate of the Antarctic ice shelf by monitoring the noise of ice breaking. The pair are using two acoustic stations, one 150km off Cape Leeuwin, the southwest tip of WA, and another off the gigantic US military base on Diego Garcia in the Chagos Archipelago, in the Indian Ocean. "They are part of a network of underwater acoustic receivers, or hydrophones," Dr Gavrilov told The Australian yesterday.

The stations have been used to locate nuclear explosions detonated by India.

More than 100 signals from Antarctica are detected weekly by the Cape Leeuwin station. They are then transmitted to Geoscience Australia in Canberra. "Six years of results is not long in the scheme of things, so we will keep watching," Dr Gavrilov said. The pair will present their research at a conference in Europe later this month.


Monckton on the genocidal Green/Left and their push for world dictatorship

An interview

Murphy: In the Senate and the House and on Capitol Hill, there's a debate on the Cap and Trade Bill, known as the Waxman-Markey bill, which has devastating effects on rationing energy. What other effects will the bill have?

Monckton: The first effect is that this is the largest tax increase ever to be inflicted on a population in the history of the world. And it is also the most pointless and unnecessary tax increase. Winston Churchill used to say that the only legitimate purpose of taxation is to raise revenue. But what has happened on the left in politics is that the left are now using taxation not only as an instrument of raising revenue, but as an instrument of policy, to try to make people behave in a way which the left thinks is desirable.

So they have decided that "global warming" as they used to call it, "climate change" as they began to call it, and "energy security" as the bill now calls it-and "absolute rubbish," as I call it-is a problem that needs to be addressed by inflicting taxation on the entire population.

However, it occurred to them, after I testified in front of them and told them so, that if they were to put up the cost of energy, then that cost would fall disproportionately on the very poorest taxpayers. Or even if they weren't taxpayers, it would fall disproportionately on them, because energy costs form a far larger proportion of the household budget of poor people than of wealthier people.

And the first response I got when I said this to the committee was, "Why are you calling them `poor people'? We call them `low income families.' " And I said, "That means that they are poor, and if they are poor, we should say that they are poor, and we should do something about it, rather than making them poorer still. And I'm not here," I said, "to bandy words about what is the politically correct phrase about somebody who is poor. Somebody who is poor is disadvantaged by not having enough money to live on." "And so, let's call a spade a spade. This bill will in particular needlessly, pointlessly, extravagantly, hurt the poor."

Now, of course, the Democrats eventually realized this. So they decided that they would use some of the revenue from taxing the richer purchasers to subsidize the poorer purchasers so that they can go on using energy. But of course, the moment that you do that, you undermine the purpose of the bill, which is to stop people from using lots of energy.

Murphy: In the past you've described the global warming scare, fraud, hoax-you've used numerous words to describe this-as a "genocidal" policy, similar to the policy of how AIDS was handled, or to the ban on DDT. Is that still your view?

Monckton: What we have here, is a faction in politics, and it's a worldwide faction, that really came out of the Marxist extreme left when the Berlin Wall collapsed, and found its new home in the environmental movement. And it got into the environmental movement and took it over. A friend of mine is one of the founders of Greenpeace, and he said, "All of us who are genuine environmentalists left after a year, because the Marxists moved in and took it over."

So, what we have, is what I call the traffic light faction: the greens too yellow to admit that they're really red. And it's they who are trying to say to us that this climate scare is real, so that they can impose upon us measures that would drastically reduce the human population by direct intervention, if necessary.

But why does this fail, even if they are eventually granted the authoritarian powers that would be necessary to enforce the sterilization of the male population, or to enforce a one-child policy? These were policies that were tried, respectively, in India and China, and both have abjectly failed. The only way to prevent the population in the poorer countries (or the "lower-income countries") from rising rapidly beyond the resources of that country being able to cope with them is to raise the standard of living of the general population of these countries. Nothing else works.

This is perhaps the fundamental fact of demographics: that if you want to stabilize populations in poorer countries, you must raise their standard of living. Nothing else works whatsoever. So, we come along and we say, even to China and India, and this is what the Democrats have been saying, "Either you agree that you will not ever burn CO2 into the atmosphere at the rate we did, that you will keep yourselves poor, or we will impose protectionist trade sanctions upon you."

I heard the Democrats arguing this when I was testifying in front of them, and I told them what an extremely bad idea that was. And why it's a bad idea, is because even if protectionism worked- and, of course, it always, in fact, backfires on the person who tries to impose it-all it would do is to keep China, India, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, and other large countries, poor. If it keeps them poor, their populations will continue to increase rapidly. If their populations continue to increase rapidly, their carbon footprints will increase rapidly in the long run, if not in the short, and probably even in the short. So you will have achieved the precise opposite of what you say you're intending to do, and you will have a growing population, when the left's real aim is to reduce population.

So what they are advocating at the economic and political level, simply doesn't work. And it works no better than their attempts to ban DDT, which led to the deaths of 40 million children in the poorer countries. A totally unnecessary ban. DDT is not dangerous! You can eat it by the tablespoonful- do you no harm at all. But they invented a scare that it causes cancer, which it does not. They invented a scare that it might thin the eggshells, which it does not-unless you happen to deprive the birds of calcium in their diet, before you do the measurement, which is how they got the bogus result they based it on.

So, we've seen these lies and manufacturing of data before. Same with HIV, where, as with any other fatal, incurable infection, it should have been treated as what's called a notifiable disease, carriers isolated immediately to protect the rest of the population. This was not done. The result? Twenty-five million dead, 40 million infected and going to die, and heaven knows how far the epidemic will continue to spread. In Washington, D.C., here, where we're speaking from, 3% of the population is now infected with HIV, and that means that there's a good chance that Congressmen and Senators rubbing shoulders with cleaners and other basic labor inside Congress, some of them are going to get infected before very long, because the correct public health measure wasn't taken, because yet again, the left had a policy on this and the policy did not accord with scientific reality at any point.

So we've seen it with DDT-they acted against the science: 40 million killed. We've seen it with AIDS- they acted against the science: 25 million killed, 40 million infected and going to die. And already people are now dying, all over the world, of starvation, as a result of the biofuels scam which came out of the global warming scare and has taken, for instance, one third of all the agricultural land of the United States out of producing food, for people who need it. Now it's producing fuel for automobiles that don't.

In any view, whichever aspect of this scare you look at, the policies of the left are not just heroically stupid, but deeply damaging for the future of humankind, and particularly damaging for the very poorest.

Murphy: That is very true. What is coming out- you've identified the biofuels scam as hurting the poor with food starvation, which is listed as one of WHO's top causes of death. Now, [UN Secretary-General] Kofi Annan has just issued a bizarre, bogus report stating that 300,000 people have died already as a result of global warming or climate change per year, and more deaths are possible. But the policies that he's advocating to solve this will kill billions of people, and will eclipse that, even if it were true.

Monckton: Let's look at this report. It's produced by the usual crowd of rent-seekers wanting to enhance the role of the UN as a world government. That's what is really behind this: It's world government that the left are after. And world government, of course, does not mean democratic government. It means autocratic government, rather like the EU writ large. And this report they produced is plainly nonsense, and you can just look at one simple fact, and that is that for the last 15 years, as [MIT climatologist] Dick Lindzen is about to tell us, there has been no statistically significant global warming. For the last eight and a half years, there has actually been a trend of global cooling, and quite a rapid one.

So, why is Kofi Annan coming along now, 15 years after the warming stopped-and, of course, the warming was pretty unremarkable even while it was happening; it was entirely within natural variability-but the warming stopped 15 years ago, and only now do they tell us that this warming was killing people. It certainly can't have been killing people recently, because we've been having global cooling. And that one fact is enough to establish what complete nonsense this UN report is.

All it is, is another way of keeping this flagging, failing scare in the headlines between now and the Copenhagen Climate Summit organized by the UN for December 2009. And at that summit, they are hoping the first steps to turn the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change into a world government will be taken. They are not frankly particularly worried about whether they get a deal on who should cut global emissions by how much. It is not, and never was, about that. It is not and never was about the climate.

As Vaclav Klaus, the president of the European Union at the moment, has rightly said, "It's not about climatology; it's about freedom." They want to take our freedom away. They want to set up a world government which will tell the rest of us how to behave, and which will certainly not be subject to any democratic recall or accountability or constraint. And they will do this by saying that, of course, the peoples of the world if left to their own devices, would screw up the planet, because of the emissions of carbon dioxide. Therefore, to save you from yourselves, we are going to ask your government to hand over their sovereignty and their powers-of course in our democratic countries, their powers are peoples' powers-to unelected bureaucrats, technocrats, and dictators, so that they will govern us in the future. That is what this is all about, and they have to be stopped, which is why I am here.

Murphy: There was an interesting report that didn't get much play, that came from the Center for International Cooperation at New York University. This had different scenarios-in the one they were promoting, there would be no deal at Copenhagen; everything falls apart. And in another scenario, there is a deal at Copenhagen, but it falls apart. And then there's one where you agree over time to make emission cuts. But the key to the one they are pushing is that they want two things: One, to set up an IAEA-type of agency to govern all nations, willing or unwilling, on the carbon emissions, so your world government question is there. And, two, they want to use carbon credits as-and this is really wild and outlandish, but based on the credit crisis we're having right now, the economic downturn, the breakdown crisis-they want to use carbon credits as the new currency, with the IMF as the clearing house, central bank for the world. This is just ridiculous.

Monckton: Well, no, it isn't ridiculous, you see. It's dangerous. That's what it really is. This is exactly the type of mechanism which those who are in the small cabal that is plotting all this are working on in order to bring about world government before anyone notices. That is why they're so very angry with us. Because what we're saying is that as far as the science is concerned, there is no basis for doing anything whatsoever about the climate, which has looked after itself for four and a half billion years and will continue to do so. Our perturbations of it are so small as to be entirely insignificant, so insignificant that they cannot hope to be distinguished from natural climate variability, as even NASA itself said the other day. There is no basis scientifically for doing anything.

The correct policy to address a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing. However, they are not concerned with whether there is a problem or not. They merely wish to pretend that there is a problem, and try to do so with a straight face, for long enough to persuade, not the population, because we have no say in this, but the governing class in the various member-states of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: That they should hand over their powers as government to the United Nations or to a new agency, or possibly just to the existing climate panel, merely restructured a bit. So that we would no longer be free to decide what our currency would be, or how much of it there should be, or what we could burn, or what we could do.

These things would be dictated to us by the dictators at the center. And this is an extremely dangerous moment, because it repudiates freedom, it repudiates democracy, it denies us both of those. It repudiates any form of justice. It is a kick in the teeth for the poor. It has no merit whatsoever except to enhance the wealth and the power of the governing elite, and that really what we're seeing here is a conspiracy of the governing class against the governed. And if the governed continues to be as passive, and acquiescent, and as unquestioning as too many of them are being in Europe (it's a little better in the States), then this faction is going to get its way, and when it gets its way, we shall realize that it's far too late for us to do anything to throw it into reverse.


Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Reviewing Climate Change and Cap and Trade Programs to Insure Investor Protection

Based upon information supplied to it by the Space and Science Research Center (SSRC), the Securities and Exchange Commission has begun a review of the Obama administration’s carbon trading, ‘emission allowance,’ and climate change permitting programs to insure investors are adequately protected.

According to SSRC Director, John Casey, “The reason for our request to the SEC is straightforward. Since global warming has ended, there simply is no need to implement a massive government tax or investment/trading programs in a vain attempt to control it. The natural repeating cycles of the Sun which caused the past global warming have now reversed to a normal though potentially dangerous cold phase. The unbelievable $646 billion tax on the people paid for through cap and trade programs and spelled out in the proposed 2010 federal budget is the largest environmental tax in the history of the United States. It is also completely unnecessary. Here we are creating a huge tax and investment system to counteract something that does not exist and yet not spending the first dollar to get our country prepared for the rapidly advancing coldest weather in over 200 years!

As a result, the SSRC in conjunction with its parent company, have asked the SEC to insure that publicly traded companies and their investors are protected from the real prospect of what I believe could be highly risky if not illegal (“worthless securities”) trading in climate change control instruments. In a March 19, 2009, letter to SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro, I have asked that she take several definitive steps to protect investors. The least of these steps is that the SEC needs to insure investors are provided full and accurate disclosure of climate change investment risks. Investors should be told that there is no global warming and that the coming cold weather may make any such investment vehicles worthless in a few years as the world comes to recognize man made climate change for the failed concept that many experts believe it is. I can see investors, Wall Street firms, and public companies losing tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars because of these climate change control efforts by the Obama administration.”

On whether a political appointee such as Chairman Schapiro will do anything to interrupt the climate change and global warming programs of the Obama administration, Casey voiced optimism saying, “Chairman Schapiro has been given a free hand and wide ranging mandate to revamp the SEC and toughen its investor protections in light of a wave of scandals and other financial crises that have rocked Wall Street over the past two years. I am hopeful that she will stand up to partisan politics by making all such climate change controlling investment programs contain full disclosure of the risks involved. I would like her to go beyond that as specified in my letter by for example, halting all carbon trading. I have not announced the SEC’s review previously to allow them sufficient time to look into the matter. Now that the SEC has had the ball in their court for the past three months, I hope we will see a ruling soon, especially with climate legislation now being considered by Congress.”

In looking at the climate change question objectively Casey injected, “The SSRC is the leading independent science research organization in the United States on the science of and planning for the next cold climate era. I was the recipient of heavy and often irrational criticism from all sectors when I first announced my research and the forecast of the next climate change to the media, US government, and the scientific community. Now that my predictions have come to pass, scientists and prominent leaders from around the world have now joined the fray in the effort to spread the word about the dramatic changes taking place in the Sun and what really causes climate change on Earth.

Accordingly, the SSRC is now the most quoted source on the world wide web on the subject of the climate change to this new cold era. I will continue my efforts to alert the media, our government, and the American people on how this next climate period will unfold and what effects it will have on everyone.

This request to the SEC for investor protection and disclosure of the inherent risks of carbon trading is another logical step in support of that mission. The on going process of the SSRC to speak the truth about climate change will also accelerate as the cold weather gets closer. This Wednesday for example, the SSRC will issue a new climate forecast, the most important of its kind in over two years. It will provide a more detailed schedule for how soon the deepest cold will arrive and start to create food shortages in the United States because of expected crop damage. In the meantime, let’s hope the SEC does the right thing by protecting investors from the folly that is called ‘man made climate change.’ ”



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


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Green" cars

Sea Level Rise Gored

Latest models show only a tiny rise compared with the Al Gore scenario

Nature Geoscience has a new review paper out on sea level rise. Based on a review of the literature, it concludes that global average sea level rise is unlikely to exceed one meter by 2100:
As the present warming trend is expected to continue, global mean sea level will continue to rise. Here we review recent insights into past sea-level changes on decadal to millennial timescales and how they may help constrain future changes. We find that most studies constrain global mean sea-level rise to less than one metre over the twenty-first century, but departures from this global mean could reach several decimetres in many areas.

A search of Google News for the lead author's name -- Glenn Milne -- shows no news stories on the article. [Funnily enough!]


Heresy from HuffPo below

If the lack of climate "consensus" can be acknowledged on HuffPo, can the rest of the Green/Left be far behind?

Energy prices have been going higher again. With the price of crude oil closing Friday at $72 a barrel, roughly double its level in January, talk of energy independence is again prevalent.

But energy independence is not a desirable goal for the country (and it may not be doable, either). Lower energy prices raise real wages for all Americans. Paying more for energy in order to get it from wind or solar sources lowers productivity and destroys wealth, and will actually be adversarial for long term economic growth.....

The other argument for energy independence, the ecological desire to "save the planet", is equally dubious. Someone has to take the unpopular stand and say it: We had record cold temperatures in many American cities last winter, and many well-respected scientists doubt the thesis behind global warming. Even if global warming is happening, there is no clear evidence mankind is the cause. And even if mankind was causing the globe's temperatures to rise, it isn't clear that would be calamitous for us and what's more, the solutions offered by the proponents of global warming may be worse than the problem itself.

Take cap and trade for example. In the midst of a deep recession, cap and trade would substantially raise the cost of energy and shut down U.S. factories, shipping jobs to China. The only beneficiaries will be government bureaucrats who, in running the oversight and enforcement of the new environmental rules, will see their power soar and authority expand at the expense of ordinary Americans.

Lyndon Johnson once said "being president is like being a jackass in a hailstorm. There's nothing to do but stand there and take it." Sometimes a President has to internalize that lesson.


A more pragmatic Greenie

Seems rather confused to me -- JR

If Adam Werbach, 36, former environmentalist prodigy and lapsed vegetarian, doesn't seem like your typical green activist, it's because he's adamantly not one. Dressed in the simple, casual corporate attire popularised by Silicon Valley's finest, the Californian candidly informs me that environmentalists make for terrible dinner conversation.

He is in the employ of several of America's most nefarious executives, and declares with a detached shrug that it would be "a good thing" if the current green bubble burst. He lambasts the Federal Government for failing to save the US auto industry whilst revelling in its "death spasms" - they are "exciting", apparently.

Only the odd university campus throwback expression about "the strange microcosm of George Bush America" prevents me from thinking I've stumbled into an interview with a Wall Street banker rather than the bright young thing elected to presidency of the Sierra Club, America's oldest and most venerable environmental organisation, at the alarmingly tender age of 23.

It is paradoxes such as these which explain how, when Werbach sits down to write a latest offering on sustainability issues that is not a green bible but rather a corporate business manifesto, his converted fellow "post-environmentalists" have long since ceased to be surprised.

Strategy for Sustainability, Werbach's new book, concerns itself with organising the great uninitiated. It doesn't stop with corporate executives, but rather represents one facet of the ambitious strategy of Saatchi & Saatchi's sustainability-oriented "S" brand, of which he is global president, to create a billion-person movement.

Just as his apathy towards the very notion of a left/right political spectrum leads him to dismiss (albeit nostalgically) any environmentalist movement not apolitical in its composition, Werbach sees no need to choose between grassroots and top-down proselytising. In practical terms, with nearly one-third of all Americans entering Wal-Mart's doors every week while he briefs the men and women managing the shelves, the boundaries rapidly blur.

"Wal-Mart's a lot less controversial than it used to be" he declares, in softly-spoken rebuke to those former colleagues who accused him of selling out when he signed up his consultancy's biggest client in 2006. It has managed to dramatically introduce sustainability right at its business core in mid-course, he tells me, and on a scale so large that it ended up "writing standards that the government should have been writing". And after all, why not employ its considerable resources for the planet's good? Werbach's research has uncovered that reuniting corporations with their most inherent raison d'être - to make money - tends to lead them in this direction anyhow.

Ironically, in his 1997 book Act Now, Apologise Later, Werbach referred to Warren Buffet's corporation, the world's largest publicly-listed company, as a "new breed of toxin." But he has long since eschewed such conventional thinking, following instead the divergent path signalled by his 2004 "Is Environmentalism Dead?" speech to the California's Commonwealth Club.

The broad idea is that environmentalism has traditionally been more concerned with ideology than outcome, and thus has unduly elevated certain companies, products or outcomes only good in a single, narrow element. Contrarily it has tended to denigrate certain parties via a similarly blinkered logic.

Sustainability consultants are often accused of trying to have their cake and eat it in pursuit of an unrealistic panacea. That such paeans to moral and prudent profitability should appeal during our financially-straitened times is hardly surprising; how much happier to view General Motors' ignominious bankruptcy as an opportunity for proactive sustainable development than as the long overdue coup de grace for an industry brought to its knees by financially unviable times.

The assumption that mandatory efficiency standards such as the Obama administration's newly instated 35.5 miles to the gallon for all new cars by 2016 are not punitive coffin nails delivered by new bully owners, but the very salvation of the US$1.5 billion sector, entices far beyond environmentalist circles.

As do all good consultants', Werbach's calculations proudly exude a strong sense of pragmatism, made perhaps more ostensible through his attacks on green idealism. Impassioned bloggers' declarations that Wal-Mart is inherently "awful" and "needs to have its corporate charter revoked and then be shut down" on San Francisco Bay Guardian's website involuntarily cast Werbach's assertion, that small improvements in such places go a long way, as such.

Inevitably the reality is rather more muddled, as revealed by a closer inspection of economic principles which seem neoclassical in their confidence in the free market to ultimately demand sustainable strategy, yet positively Keynesian in their belief that regulatory action (though self-imposed) can and should aim to render companies "bubble-proof".

On the matter of the global recession, "the good thing about the credit crisis is that it forces re-evaluation of strategy", but simultaneously "companies have pulled back on those innovation investments in a capital-constrained world".

Inevitably the question remains: might not halting investment in such abominable polluters as the oil industry be the solution to environmental woes after all? It is possible to perceive in Werbach's demeanour a steady willingness for compromise that has surely shaken off the trappings of youthful anti-establishment indulgence. But it would also be disservice to mistake this recalculation for ambivalence:

Do companies which aren't based on sustainable business models, I ask, have a role to play? "Yeah - they have to die!", and there's a twinkle in the veteran activist's eye here. Not only that, but "Their role is to become carcasses that will feed the rest".

Werbach has always seemed slightly embarrassed by journalists' wilful efforts to paint him as the maverick of environmentalism, as emphasised by the self-effacing shrug I meet when I try to address his alleged air of controversy.

And to his credit, he does try to push his principles further than most. "I was with Novo Nordisk yesterday, the largest maker of diabetes medicine", he explains. "And we were talking about how to tie climate change to diabetes prevention... What we have seen is that when people are pre-diabetic and are exposed to information about global warming, they're better at beginning behaviours that will slow the chances of them getting diabetes."

So it seems it will not just be our bank accounts and the ozone layer which benefit from that trip to the recycling depot, but our bodily well-being itself. Such expansive logic, to which Werbach's strategy seems prone, is surely boosted by the short-term volatility embodied by the credit crisis: "With the complete failure of the industry, it's a pretty good time to be born actually."


Climate change nonsense

British taxes on airline flights have already been doubled for "Green" reasons. Not enough, apparently. Yet another tax on airline flights proposed for Britain

An awful lot of nonsense about climate change is spouted, as we know. I think the thing that bugs me the most though is that people don't seem to be understanding the very reports they rely upon for their logic and calls to action. You know, things like various greenies insisting that we should revert to local and regional economies....when the very IPCC report they rely upon for predictions of climate change states that this would make things worse, not better. Today's example comes from the private sector:

Airline passengers should pay a global tax on carbon and accept an increase in the cost of flying for the sake of the environment, the chief executive of British Airways has told The Times. The airline is the first in the world to propose that all airline passengers should pay an additional sum which would be likely to rise steadily over time.

BA is proposing that the tax should raise at least $5 billion (£3 billion) a year to be used to combat tropical deforestation and help developing companies to adapt to climate change.

That there should be a price for carbon emissions, as there should be for other externalities, I have no problem with, indeed welcome. And as the Stern Review pointed out, we can do this either by Pigou taxation or by cap and trade. We'll leave aside the bit where that report points out that it doesn't matter what you spend the taxes on, it's simply the addition into market prices of those costs that does the work.

But what I would like Bill Walsh (for it is he suggesting this) to understand is that the very same report/review which provides logical support for this position also gives us what that price should be. And as a result of that suggestion, Gordon Brown has doubled Air Passenger Duty. As far as Stern is concerned, as far as both the price and logic of the argument are concerned, the external costs of aviation are already included in the market prices people pay to fly from or to the UK.

It's already been done, no more taxes are needed. It would be fine to call for a different system, but not to call for an additional one.



Our politicians haven't noticed that the problem may be that the world is not warming but cooling, observes Christopher Booker

For the second time in little over a year, it looks as though the world may be heading for a serious food crisis, thanks to our old friend "climate change". In many parts of the world recently the weather has not been too brilliant for farmers. After a fearsomely cold winter, June brought heavy snowfall across large parts of western Canada and the northern states of the American Midwest. In Manitoba last week, it was -4ºC. North Dakota had its first June snow for 60 years.

There was midsummer snow not just in Norway and the Cairngorms, but even in Saudi Arabia. At least in the southern hemisphere it is winter, but snowfalls in New Zealand and Australia have been abnormal. There have been frosts in Brazil, elsewhere in South America they have had prolonged droughts, while in China they have had to cope with abnormal rain and freak hailstorms, which in one province killed 20 people.

None of this has given much cheer to farmers. In Canada and northern America summer planting of corn and soybeans has been way behind schedule, with the prospect of reduced yields and lower quality. Grain stocks are predicted to be down 15 per cent next year. US reserves of soya - used in animal feed and in many processed foods - are expected to fall to a 32-year low.

In China, the world's largest wheat grower, they have been battling against the atrocious weather to bring in the harvest. (In one province they even fired chemical shells into the clouds to turn freezing hailstones into rain.) In north-west China drought has devastated crops with a plague of pests and blight. In countries such as Argentina and Brazil droughts have caused such havoc that a veteran US grain expert said last week: "In 43 years I've never seen anything like the decline we're looking at in South America."

In Europe, the weather has been a factor in well-below average predicted crop yields in eastern Europe and Ukraine. In Britain this year's oilseed rape crop is likely to be 30 per cent below its 2008 level. And although it may be too early to predict a repeat of last year's food shortage, which provoked riots from west Africa to Egypt and Yemen, it seems possible that world food stocks may next year again be under severe strain, threatening to repeat the steep rises which, in 2008, saw prices double what they had been two years before.

There are obviously various reasons for this concern as to whether the world can continue to feed itself, but one of them is undoubtedly the downturn in world temperatures, which has brought more cold and snow since 2007 than we have known for decades.

Three factors are vital to crops: the light and warmth of the sun, adequate rainfall and the carbon dioxide they need for photosynthesis. As we are constantly reminded, we still have plenty of that nasty, polluting CO2, which the politicians are so keen to get rid of. But there is not much they can do about the sunshine or the rainfall.

It is now more than 200 years since the great astronomer William Herschel observed a correlation between wheat prices and sunspots. When the latter were few in number, he noted, the climate turned colder and drier, crop yields fell and wheat prices rose. In the past two years, sunspot activity has dropped to its lowest point for a century. One of our biggest worries is that our politicians are so fixated on the idea that CO2 is causing global warming that most of them haven't noticed that the problem may be that the world is not warming but cooling, with all the implications that has for whether we get enough to eat.

It is appropriate that another contributory factor to the world's food shortage should be the millions of acres of farmland now being switched from food crops to biofuels, to stop the world warming, Last year even the experts of the European Commission admitted that, to meet the EU's biofuel targets, we will eventually need almost all the food-growing land in Europe. But that didn't persuade them to change their policy. They would rather we starved than did that. And the EU, we must always remember, is now our government - the one most of us didn't vote for last week.



No chance of cutbacks from India or China

As another set of climate talks wrap up with little outward sign of progress, are the chances of a new global deal to combat the threat of global warming slipping out of reach? Even battle-hardened green campaigners saw few reasons for optimism this week in Bonn. One group was considering whether to simply reissue the same press release about the state of negotiations they sent out last year, partly as a protest at the impasse, but partly because the picture has simply not changed since.

The deadlock extends further back than last year. Since the messy compromise that was the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, climate change has always been more about the politics than the science. And while the message from the scientists has hardened over the last decade, the politics has remained largely the same.

In one corner sit the rich countries: made wealthy by development fuelled by the burning of coal, oil and gas. And in the other corner sit the poorer nations, many of them eager to follow the same track. Kyoto crudely divided the fight against climate change along similar lines, with only the rich nations handed binding targets to reduce their greenhouse gas pollution. That was fair, the reasoning went, because rich countries were largely responsible for the problem, and had the resources to develop cleaner technology. Poorer nations would be allowed to carry on as they wished, with a tacit understanding that the burden would be shared more widely in future.

Fast-forward a decade, and the neat division of Kyoto has blurred. Large developing nations such as China and India sit at or near the top of the emission charts. Meanwhile global warming threatens a plague on both Kyoto's houses - rich and poor alike. The cuts in carbon that scientists say are needed to avert catastrophic damage cannot be achieved by the developed world alone.

To make a meaningful difference, a new treaty must address the soaring emissions from the developing world, as well as make room for the US, which rejected the Kyoto process because it resented the economic advantage it would hand to China.

This is where the science and politics of climate change clash head-on. And, so far, the politics is winning. For all the talk of economic opportunities of the green economy, bringing down greenhouse gas emissions on the scale required is likely to prove very expensive, especially in the near-term. And for all the talk of international cooperation, nations are determined to protect their own self-interest. And so the macabre climate dance continues: the developed world still wants to take on some kind of targets, while the poorer nations point out that richer countries have failed to honour past pledges, both on emission cuts and to hand over money to help them.



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


Monday, June 15, 2009

The Climate Caper and the RAT Scheme

Another book written by a senior Australian Scientist, Garth Paltridge, is about to published by the same people who published Ian Plimer’s best seller “Heaven and Earth”. This is what the publisher has to say:

“So you think the theory of disastrous climate change has been proved! You believe that scientists are united in their efforts to force the nations of the world to reduce their carbon emissions! You imagine perhaps that scientists are far too professional to overstate their case!

“Maybe we should all think again. In his book The Climate Caper, with a light touch and nicely readable manner, Professor Paltridge shows that the case for action against climate change is not nearly so certain as is presented to politicians and the public. He leads us through the massive uncertainties which are inherently part of the ‘climate modelling process’; he examines the even greater uncertainties associated with economic forecasts of climatic doom; and he discusses in detail the conscious and sub-conscious forces operating to ensure that scepticism within the scientific community is kept from the public eye.

I have not yet read The Climate Caper” but Ray Evans has, and had this to say:

“Having read the manuscript I can endorse this book without reservation. It is written by a scientist who was at the top of the scientific establishment in Australia, and who saw at first hand the intellectual corruption which went hand in hand with government funding of science "research". “The book is written in a whimsical style, reminiscent of P G Wodehouse, and is difficult to put down.”

About the author:

Emeritus Professor Garth Paltridge is an atmospheric physicist and was a Chief Research Scientist with the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research before taking up positions in Tasmania as Director of the Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies and CEO of the Antarctic Cooperative Research Centre.

His research ranged from the optimum design of plants to the economics of climate forecasting. He is best known internationally for work on atmospheric radiation and the theoretical basis of climate. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

He was in industry for a while as Director of the Environmental Executive of the Institute of Petroleum. He spent various separate years overseas in postings concerned with research or research administration - in the UK, Geneva, New Mexico, Colorado and Washington D.C. In Geneva he was involved in the early development of the World Climate Program. In Washington he was with the US National Climate Program Office at the time of the establishment of the IPCC.

To order the book, go here

The above is a press release from Viv Forbes [info@carbon-sense.com] of the Carbon Sense Coalition

Tennessee Burger King Defends Its "Global Warming Is Baloney" Sign

The Burger King in Tennesse that says "Global Warming Is Baloney" went on the record to defend itself with Leo Hickman of the Guardian. What followed was "one of the more memorable calls" Hickman's ever had as a journalist.

The franchise remains defiant, saying, "We're not sheeple around here, and while Barack Obama would like to have you believe that no one is entitled to have a view other than his, if someone wants to stand up and say "Global Warming is Baloney", then I'm all for it."

If you missed this story, here's a catch-up. Chris Davis, a reporter for the Memphis Flyer, spotted a Burger King blaring "Global Warming Is Baloney" on its sign early last week. When he called the franchise to ask about the sign, the franchise played dumb, saying "I don't see that sir." The reporter told them he had photos of the sign. The franchise didn't know what to say to that, and told him to call Burger King's corporated HQ. Here's the full transcript.

The absurd story gained traction across the web, moving from the Memphis Flyer to the Guardian to HuffPo, eventually landing on Keith Olbermann's show, where Olbermann included the Burger King franchise, in his "Worst Person Ever" schtick.

Yet, the parent company of the local franchise, Mirabile Investment Corporation (MIC), wasn't willing to talk with reporters until yesterday, when Leo Hickman of the Guardian got J.J. McNelis, MIC's marketing president, on the phone and asked about the sign.

Here's an excerpt:
GUARDIAN: Me: BK Corp issued a statement saying that 'global warming is baloney' wasn't their view and that they had asked you to take them down. Is that your understanding of it?

McNelis: I can't speak for them. I would think they would run from any form of controversy kinda like cockroaches when the lights get turned on. I'm not aware of any direction that they gave the franchisee and I don't think they have the authority to do it. The franchisee can put on a sign whatever he wants.

Me: They're saying that within the terms of the franchisee contract it says something along the lines that signs outside a restaurant can't be used to express any political or religious views.

McNelis: Well, it maybe a religious belief for some folks, but it's certainly not for the franchisee here and I don't think that it's necessarily political either. But I have to tell you that I don't read the franchise agreement with regularity or else I would have a bad case of insomnia.

...Me: BK Corp are saying that they've demanded that these signs get taken down and that they have now been taken down...

McNelis: Burger King can tell me to use my left hand when I scratch my nose instead of my right but that doesn't mean I'm going to use my right. They can say whatever they want. The management team can put the message up there if they want to. It is private property and over here in the US we do have some rights, not withstanding a franchise agreement that I could load a Brinks vehicle with I've got so many of them. By the time the BK lawyers work out how to make that stick we'd be in the year 2020. I don't think the franchisees are particularly concerned about that. BK can bluster all they want about what they can tell the franchisee to do but we have free speech rights in this country so I don't think there's any concerns. Don't come away from this conversation with the impression that the franchisee did anything because the BK Corporation told him he had to. They're only printed words on paper. The contract is only as strong as the ability to enforce it. Some things can be enforced, other things can't. I know BK would like to have you believe they have the authority and the willingness to make us do all kinds of different things, but that's not how the world works.


Scared silly about global warming

Exaggerating the dangers of climate change does more harm than good

By Bjorn Lomborg

The continuous presentation of scary stories about global warming in the popular media makes us unnecessarily frightened. Even worse, it terrifies our kids.

Former US vice president Al Gore famously depicted how a sea-level rise of 6m would almost completely flood Florida, New York, Holland, Bangladesh and Shanghai, even though the UN estimates that sea levels will rise 20 times less than that, and do no such thing.

When confronted with these exaggerations, some of us say that they are for a good cause and surely there is no harm done if the result is that we focus even more on tackling climate change. A similar argument was used when former US president George W. Bush’s administration overstated the terror threat from Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

But this argument is astonishingly wrong. Such exaggerations do plenty of harm. Worrying excessively about global warming means that we worry less about other things, where we could do so much more good. We focus, for example, on global warming’s impact on malaria — which will be to put slightly more people at risk in 100 years — instead of tackling the half-billion people suffering from malaria today with prevention and treatment policies that are much cheaper and dramatically more effective than carbon reduction would be.

‘Nowhere is this deliberate fearmongering more obvious than in Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, a film that was marketed as ‘by far the most terrifying film you will ever see.’’

Exaggeration also wears out the public’s willingness to tackle global warming. If the planet is doomed, people wonder, why do anything? A record 54 percent of US voters now believe the news media make global warming appear worse than it really is. A majority of people now believe — incorrectly — that global warming is not even caused by humans. In the UK, 40 percent believe that global warming is exaggerated and 60 percent doubt that it is man-made.

But the worst cost of exaggeration, I believe, is the unnecessary alarm that it causes — particularly among children. Recently, I discussed climate change with a group of Danish teenagers. One of them worried that global warming would cause the planet to “explode” — and all the others had similar fears. In the US, the ABC TV network recently reported that psychologists were starting to see more neuroses in people anxious about climate change. An article in the Washington Post cited nine-year-old Alyssa, who cries about the possibility of mass animal extinctions from global warming.

In her words: “I don’t like global warming because it kills animals, and I like animals.” From a child who is yet to lose all her baby teeth: “I worry about [global warming] because I don’t want to die.”

The newspaper also reported that parents were searching for “productive” outlets for their eight-year-olds’ obsessions with dying polar bears. They might be better off educating them and letting them know that, contrary to common belief, the global polar bear population has doubled and perhaps even quadrupled over the past half-century, to about 22,000. Despite diminishing — and eventually disappearing — summer Arctic ice, polar bears will not become extinct. After all, in the first part of the current interglacial period, glaciers were almost entirely absent in the northern hemisphere, and the Arctic was probably ice-free for 1,000 years, yet polar bears are still with us.

Another nine-year old showed the Washington Post his drawing of a global warming timeline. “That’s the Earth now,” Alex says, pointing to a dark shape at the bottom. “And then it’s just starting to fade away.” Looking up to make sure his mother was following along, he tapped the end of the drawing: “In 20 years, there’s no oxygen.” Then, to dramatize the point, he collapsed, “dead,” to the floor.

And these are not just two freak stories. In a new survey of 500 US pre-teens, it was found that one in three children between the ages of six and 11 feared that the Earth would not exist when they reach adulthood because of global warming and other environmental threats. An unbelievable one-third of our children believe that they don’t have a future because of scary global warming stories.

We see the same pattern in the UK, where a survey showed that half of young children between the ages of seven and 11 were anxious about the effects of global warming, often losing sleep because of their concern. This is grotesquely harmful.

And let us be honest. This scare was intended. Children believe that global warming will destroy the planet before they grow up because adults are telling them that .

When every prediction about global warming is scarier than the last one, and the scariest predictions — often not backed up by peer-reviewed science — get the most airtime, it is little wonder that children are worried.

Nowhere is this deliberate fearmongering more obvious than in Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, a film that was marketed as “by far the most terrifying film you will ever see.”

Take a look at the trailer for this movie on YouTube. Notice the imagery of chilling, larger-than-life forces evaporating our future. The commentary tells us that this film has “shocked audiences everywhere,” and that “nothing is scarier” than what Gore is about to tell us. Notice how the trailer even includes a nuclear explosion.

The current debate about global warming is clearly harmful. I believe that it is time we demanded that the media stop scaring us and our kids silly. We deserve a more reasoned, more constructive and less frightening dialogue.


The year without a summer

Is this where we are heading now? With the way the sun is going, a major volcano could just push us into it

The year 1816 is still known to scientists and historians as "eighteen hundred and froze to death" or the "year without a summer." It was the locus of a period of natural ecological destruction not soon to be forgotten. During that year, the Northern Hemisphere was slammed with the effects of at least two abnormal but natural phenomena. These events were mysterious at the time, and even today they are not well understood.

First, 1816 marked the midpoint of one of the Sun's extended periods of low magnetic activity, called the Dalton Minimum. This particular minimum lasted from about 1795 to the 1820s. It resembled the earlier Maunder Minimum (about 1645-1715) that was responsible for at least 70 years of abnormally cold weather in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Maunder Minimum interval is sandwiched within an even better known cool period known as the Little Ice Age, which lasted from about the 14th through 19th centuries.

But the event that most severely shaped 1816's cold phenomena was the catastrophic eruption the previous year of Tambora on the island of Sumbawa, in modern-day Indonesia. The ash clouds and sulfur aerosols spewed by this volcano were widespread, chilling the climate of the Northern Hemisphere by blocking sunlight with gases and particles.

A third factor also could have played a role. During both the Dalton and the Maunder minima, the Sun shifted its place in the solar system - something it does every 178 to 180 years. During this cycle, the Sun moves its position around the solar system's center of mass. This particular trick of gravity is known as "inertial solar motion." Scientists have not yet confirmed whether or not inertial solar motion affects Earth's climate directly, but it remains a possibility.

The combined influences of the Sun's changes in magnetism, a major volcanic eruption, and possibly even the wobbling of the Sun's position were responsible for famine, drought, and destructive snows and rains in the Northern Hemisphere in 1816. Diary entries and newspaper accounts abound of the unusual spring and summer cold. People even noted the sky's abnormal color, the large sizes of sunspots, and other curiosities. Because most people in the Northern Hemisphere were subsistence farmers, crop failure meant not only hardship, but often death. Crop yields in parts of America and Europe sank dangerously low for a year, causing eyes to focus on a blotchy Sun and an angry God - or both.

A Miserable Summer

The people who survived the drought and cold would long after refer to 1816 as "eighteen hundred and froze to death." Sleet fell in the Northeast United States, and snowdrifts remained 2 feet deep in late spring. In Franconia, New Hampshire, 88- year-old physician Edward Holyoke, an amateur astronomer and meteorologist who kept detailed weather records for 80 years, wrote on June 7: "exceeding[ly] cold. Ground frozen hard, and squalls of snow through the day. Icicles 12 inches long in the shade at noon day."

Nobody could recall such a cold spring. Sheep froze in meadows and small birds were "easily caught by reason of the cold" or were found dead in fields. Massachusetts physician William Bentley wrote on June 12: "in few seasons have we heard more bitter complaints against cold weather than since June has come in."

Others recorded killer droughts and a strange, tepid dryness wafting on northwest winds. A vivid impression of that summer in the Northeast United States appeared in verse:

The trees were all leafless, the mountains were brown

The face of the country was scathed with a frown

And bleak were the hills, and the foliage sere

As had never been seen at that time of the year.

A certain degree of normalcy returned for part of the summer. In some coastal areas, the weather was "bland and agreeable, if humid." Spurting vegetable growth could fool anyone: even astute long-time weather observers like Holyoke described June 17 to August 17 as "uniformly fine."He wrote in a confident hand that the crop outlook was better "than could have been anticipated."

But then the cold struck again. On August 21, Holyoke wrote in a tenser hand, recording the frosts and snows that killed off the meager bean and corn crop. The difference between August 17 and 21 was like summer compared with winter. The fields were "as empty and white as October." This particular damaging frost affected areas from southern Canada to North Carolina. Cold struck again on September 11, and people tended fields as if dressed for December. In an age characterized by backbreaking labor, the "poverty year," as 1816 was called by some, was a harrowing ordeal.

The bad weather wasn't confined to North America. The summer weather in parts of Europe was so bad that it reminded people of November. On June 16, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley noted that the weather at Lake Geneva turned abruptly from dry and beautiful to lashing rain, with howling winds and vicious lightning storms. Shelley was spending the "cold and rainy" summer in Switzerland with various literati. Most were confined indoors on stormy June 22, where rounds of ghost stories ensued. They pledged to record these fables on paper, and Mary Shelley was the first to prevail (by 1818). As a fruit of her labors, we have the Gothic chiller Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus.

A Strange Solar Max

First, let's focus on how the Sun made 1816 a bad year. The Dalton and Maunder minima were extended periods of very weak solar activity, spanning about 25 years and 70 years, respectively. Records from these periods show far fewer sunspots than normal, meaning the Sun's magnetic activity was very weak during those years. Even though the Sun is covered by relatively few dark sunspots when it is not magnetically active, it also has fewer bright regions, known as plages and faculae. Sustained periods of weak magnetic activity make the Sun slightly dimmer, so Earth receives less solar light energy.

Scientists have recently reconstructed this weak magnetic activity by measuring various chemical isotopes in tree rings, for example, and matching them to weather and temperature oddities. Cosmic rays transmute nitrogen-14 in Earth's upper atmosphere, creating the radioactive isotope carbon-14. In the 1970s, solar astronomer John Eddy of the High Altitude Observatory in Boulder, Colorado showed that carbon-14 concentration in annual tree growth rings is higher when fewer sunspots blemish the Sun's surface.

There's an astronomical explanation for this linkage. Strong magnetic activity on the Sun is passed on to the solar wind - a stream of protons and helium nuclei flowing outward from the Sun at high speed. A strong magnetic field in the solar wind shields Earth from cosmic rays. Because fewer cosmic rays collide with Earth, less carbon-14 forms in the atmosphere. But when solar magnetism is weak, more galactic cosmic rays can reach Earth and make more carbon-14. The carbon-14 in turn combines with oxygen molecules in the atmosphere to make the heavy version of carbon dioxide that will ultimately be incorporated into the cellulose of growth rings of living trees.

Suspicious 19th-century eyes turned upward at an angry God, and at the Sun. Fingers pointed to a spotty Sun as the culprit for the strange and unpredictable weather. In 1816 sunspots were so large that they could be seen without telescopes. One report notes the presence of particularly large sunspots from May 3 to 10, and again on June 11, when a dry fog due to Tambora's effects reddened and dimmed the disk of the Sun. This reddened condition acted as a solar filter and made the large sunspots stand out easily, even to unaided eyes.

The sunspots made quite an impact on the average person, who "at the time believed that the large spots appearing on the Sun's disk lessened the number of rays of light and consequently the earth was to that extent cooler than usual," wrote Sidney Perley in the 1891 book Historic Storms of New England. The dark spots certainly dimmed sunlight, but the spots alone couldn't explain the unseasonable cold and snow. If sunspots were the only culprit, the cooling effects from the reduced sunlight should have come and gone through each 27-day solar rotation. In addition, large sunspots seldom last longer than a month, which would otherwise be necessary to explain the extended period of cooling.

Ironically, 1816 occurred around the maximum of the Sun's 11-year sunspot cycle. But the sunspot groups counted in 1816 amounted to a mere 35, as opposed to about 100 for a normal year around solar maximum. This is about the lowest sunspot maximum ever recorded, so astronomers call it a "weak solar maximum."


Greenie versus Greenie

Conservation and animal protection groups filed a federal lawsuit Thursday to halt the ongoing construction of a Greenbrier County wind farm, saying the project will kill the endangered Indiana bat.

The Animal Welfare Project and Mountain Communities for Responsible Energy believe they are the first organizations in the nation to challenge a wind energy project on environmental grounds in federal court.

The lawsuit, brought under the Endangered Species Act, and filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland, alleges the 124-turbine project will injure and kill scores of Indiana bats that live in caves near the wind farm.

"Wind power may be part of the solution for climate change, but locations such as the Beech Ridge project site are entirely inappropriate for industrial wind facilities," said D.J. Schubert, wildlife biologist with the Washington-based Animal Welfare Institute. "We cannot allow a new ecological crisis to be created in the name of solving an existing one."



The German-language version of the pro-business Financial Times urged its readers on Thursday to vote for the Green party in the forthcoming European elections.

"Whoever wants to bring meaningful change with his vote should this time tick the Green box. They are the only party putting forward real ideas for Europe," the paper said in an editorial on its famous pink pages.



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


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Naturalism Has Been Hijacked

Man is not a cancer on the planet

Mankind has really been put in its place over the past 500 years. Why only the other day, back in 1400, the sun orbited the earth; man was God's consummate work of art; humans were masters of themselves and the domain God provided for them.

Our secular fall from grace began with Copernicus, who dislodged the world from its celestial catbird seat. Later, Darwin established that man, far from being the animal kingdom's pièce de résistance, was a bit like a baboon in clothes. Then Mendel documented the laws of inheritance -- so much for free will -- and Freud subordinated what was then left of our minds to unseemly drives over which we have little control.

In the 20th century, technology assumed a size and complexity too big to fit into what was left of our brains. In the 1890s, an intelligent layman could achieve a rudimentary grasp of the scope of current scientific thought. Perhaps no one -- scientist or not -- fathoms the full scope of technology today.

According to scientist and futurist Raymond Kurzweil, the coming technological-evolutionary quantum leap, known as the Singularity, will erase the line between human beings and technology. He maintains that technology's exponential progress will result in part-human, part-machine beings with infinitely greater brain power and life-spans approaching immortality.

Mr. Kurzweil envisions the time, if a body part fails, one need only grab its replacement from the pantry and snap it in place. Already, lawyers are busy devising the constitutional framework for a post-human future, in view of the shifting nature of what comprises a human being. The classic paradox comes to mind: Once the knife's blade and handle are each replaced several times, is it still the same knife? Once all your parts have been replaced a few times, are you still you?

Now a segment of the Green movement presents a fresh challenge to mankind's place within nature. Humans, the thinking goes, are one species among the many, a life form coexisting with others, our rights commensurate with those of snail darters, mosquitoes and coral reefs.

The new environmentalist thinking occupies that treacherous terrain between rationality and romanticism. It's highly logical, too, an all-encompassing equation where everything is equivalent to everything else -- communism at a cellular level.

The premise glows with the innocence we forsook when Adam larcenously appropriated an apple from its rightful owner, the tree.

This dangerous new unnatural naturalism sees the planet as a realm of halcyon purity. Conversely, mankind is portrayed as a cancer on the planet. Welcome to secular subhumanism.

The Earth-Firsters are not fools. There are choice elements in their deranged philosophy that merit consideration; such is the essence of temptation. However, their failure is that they undermine their cause with acts of brutality. Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, a Ph.D. with kindred neo-Luddite views, was one such activist run amok, responsible for dozens of injuries and four deaths. He is a case study of how, contaminated with extreme emotion, logic becomes toxic.

Self-described "evo-lutionaries" and animal-rights activists feel justified in spiking trees, burning down housing developments, vandalizing laboratories and threatening the lives of researchers and their families. By all means save the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, but not at the cost of human lives, no matter how few. That way lies madness.

One activist author posits that the planet can support only one billion people -- a number surely including the writer, his friends and extended family. Another activist advocates saving the world through euthanasia, abortion, suicide and sodomy. However, the truly repugnant part of this story is that these are both tenured professors in wealthy universities.

In Switzerland, proposed legislation protects the rights of plants. As you roam the Swiss mountains, do not violate the rights of the wildflowers by picking them: An undercover gnome might arrest you. Internationally, the greener-than-thou brigade scorns bioengineered seeds -- the 20th century achievement that vastly increased the world's food supply and rescued billions from starvation -- forgetting that nature has been creating hybrids since the beginning of time.

A Yale professor maintains that owning pets is a kind of species colonialism, an exploitative master-subject relationship. The word "pet" is now viewed as pejorative; if you must hold a creature hostage, call it your "animal companion."

The political views of the Eco-elitists defy easy categorization, if not also comprehension. Their anti-business stance might mark them as liberals, while their hard-edged fundamentalist views about nature and brittle nostalgia for a lost Peaceable Kingdom are surely conservative.

Perhaps they are little more than one of nature's newest 21st century hybrids: Progressive-Reactionaries.


Getting Out of Town Ahead of the Weather

Jon Huntsman, the Republican governor of Utah, has had one foot out the door since being named Ambassador to China by President Obama. But he will still be chair of the Western Governors Association when it holds its annual meeting in Salt Lake City this weekend.

Moreover, it looks like his final days in office will be marred by a controversy over just whose tax dollars are being spent on a highly controversial "Western Climate Initiative." Paul Chesser, a global warming skeptic who is a researcher with Climate Strategies Watch, submitted Freedom of Information Act requests and discovered that the initiative -- aimed at supporting dramatic reductions in carbon emissions -- has contracted or partnered with a wide range of liberal climate change groups. A full-time WGA staff member has been detailed to manage the climate project. The subsidies to pay for all this will likely be a topic of discussion at the governors' meeting because a majority of state governors didn't sign on to it. Many of them view draconian reductions in carbon emissions as a serious threat to their states' economies.

One governor I spoke with points out that the WGA is supposed to operate on a consensus basis. He says the WGA's involvement in planning climate change proposals is serious overreach. "The dues states give WGA come from tax money and I was surprised to learn just how much the WGA seems to be getting ahead of many of the states on carbon regulation," he told me.

Governor Huntsman is likely to be long gone when real answers about the WGA's runaway climate program are unearthed. He'll be in China, working at the uphill task of convincing the Chinese to undertake carbon reductions promoted by the Obama Administration. This week, talks between the U.S. and China on such curbs ended with little progress -- Beijing's negotiators making clear they aren't willing to sacrifice economic growth for benefits that are unquantifiable and perhaps illusory.


A report of some of the talks at the International Conference on Climate Change

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) had just recently returned from China - where he was the lone Republican in the delegation that was led there by Speaker Pelosi during the Memorial Day break. As has been widely reported, Speaker Pelosi made the visit almost entirely about “climate change” issues, and Rep. Sensenbrenner took advantage of the opportunity to ask a few questions of top Chinese officials.

He point-blank asked the Premier and other high officials if they were going to participate in whatever “process” comes out of the big Copenhagen meeting (the successor to Kyoto) in December; he was told by everyone of whom he asked that question that: No, China would not be signing on to any agreements in Copenhagen - they instead plan to set up their own standards and do things their own way. Whatever “mechanisms” come out of Copenhagen, it is clear that China, India, and many other countries simply will be opting not to participate.

Rep. Sensenbrenner’s main fear vis-a-vis the official United States participation in the Copenhagen discussions is that we will sign agreements merely for the sake of signing.

Given these political realities, Rep. Sensenbrenner has concluded that the cap-and-trade plans now being discussed in Congress will be disastrous - since they amount to unilateral economic disarmament.

Rep. Sensenbrenner is from Wisconsin, and a clear political fault line is emerging in the swirl of all of these “cap-and-trade” discussions. The industrial Midwest is home to a disproportionate share of America’s manufacturing employment, and it relies very heavily for base-energy on coal. This region of the country is in the crosshairs of all the “green” efforts that are emerging from Washington.

David Tuerck of the Beacon Hill Institute made a few macro-economic remarks regarding the cap-and-trade proposals.

He first noted that the notion of “green jobs” involves not ab initio creation of jobs - but rather represents a diversion of jobs from one field to another (at best); we’ll come back to this problem below.

The present incarnation of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade proposal uses 2005 carbon dioxide emissions as a base; the goal is to mandate regular decreases from this level over time. The reductions are at first rather modest - with a goal of a 3% reduction (from 2005 levels) by 2012. However, after that, the reductions become increasingly draconian - exceeding an 80% reduction by 2050. Exactly what technologies will allow this to be achieved is something that remains unspoken.

The overall economic consequences of this proposal also remain unspoken. By his analysis, the total world cost of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade proposal comes out to something like $20 trillion. He also concludes that these proposals (in reality) amount to an enormous-and-growing de facto carbon tax - and that this tax will amount to $714 per emitted ton of carbon dioxide by 2050.

One of the real highlights of this event (and which I leave as the final section of Part III) was the chance to hear the thoughts of Prof. Gabriel Calzada of King Juan Carlos University in Spain.

Prof. Calzada, you might recall, recently led a study of what went on with Spain’s big “green energy drive” (a model frequently held up to us as one to emulate) over the past decade or so; I mentioned this study a couple weeks back in my big essay “Rhapsody in Green,” and to begin I can simply reprise what I wrote there:

The results have been - to say the least - not only disappointing, but very negative. The salient economic highlights are findings that: 1) For every four “green” jobs created, nine other jobs were destroyed; 2) Among those “green” jobs, only 1 in 10 was a real, full-time job. None of this is a surprise; “alternative energy” requires overly-massive use of scarce resources - resources that can only be taken away from better and more productive activities.

However, in his Washington remarks, Prof. Calzada discussed matters that went far beyond just the economics and failed-outcomes of the Spanish green energy effort. This is a remarkable and frightening story - a story that we ignore at our own peril.

It’s now easy to forget that until the mid-1970s, Spain was a poor and authoritarian backwater corner of Europe; the steady rise of the Spanish economy - under an open political system - has been a very remarkable story.

However, in 2001, a new commitment was made in Spain - based on a desire to allow the steady economic growth to continue, while somehow at the same time something would allow carbon dioxide emissions to reverse their long-term co-traveling trend and decrease. The same reasoning that was bruited there back-then is what we are now hearing domestically - that the efforts required to effect the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions would create unspecified magic new technologies and large numbers of “green jobs” that would boost the economy. It should have been obvious from the get-go that what was really starting was a rationing system - as resources had to be redirected to less-productive activities and rationed into the required/desired slots.

As is always the case with “alternative” energies, the mother’s-milk was a firehose-torrent of government subsidies. In the Spanish case, according to Prof. Calzada, subsidies for wind power battened a cost-to-create gap that amounted to being de facto 90% above the market price - while the subsidies for solar power amounted to being 575% above the market price. To further the use of this “green electricity,” the Spanish government provided both guaranteed minimum pricing, and a requirement that all generated “green electricity” must be purchased by the utility firms for at least the floor price.

One problem with this sort of thing - and one that “policy-makers” remain all-too-oblivious to (or which they just conveniently ignore) is that when you open a sluice-gate, water will flow where it wants to flow (rather than just where you want it to flow). (In a more apt analogy for certain parts of what follows, it was not kept in mind that if you keep a dirty kitchen…. you will be swarmed with roaches.)

With the lush subsidies and the guaranteed minimum prices, providers of “green” energy quickly discovered that they could make returns on their “investments” (sic?) of 12% - 20%. This of course is the sort of year-over-year return that can only be matched by the likes of Bernie Madoff - which should have been a warning sign about the underlying basis of the whole game.

Thus, it was not a surprise that this “return” caused a stampede into the sector, leading to a “green bubble” economy (or, to be more precise, a “renewable energy bubble”).

Beyond the subsidy-driven mania of the artificially-high returns, even more dangerous and sinister things began to happen.

It doesn’t take much business acumen to note that if you have a guaranteed return of 12% - 20% while interest rates are much lower than those levels, someone has set up a perfect type of arbitrage situation for you to exploit. So, not surprisingly, there was a tremendous rush to borrow as much money as possible - since it was guaranteed that one could, as it were, buy low and sell high. Thus, many (if not most) of the newly-minted (pun intended) “green” energy companies became very, very highly leveraged (that’s finance-speak for “they got themselves into a great deal of debt”) because the rules of the game made it a no-brainer - as long as the bubble didn’t burst.

To make matters worse, by Spanish federal law one had to receive a Spanish government license to produce “green” electricity - mainly because a license was required to be allowed into the part of the game in which produced-power had to be purchased by the utilities. This was the keeping of the dirty kitchen that led to (surprise!) an influx of roaches. With the guaranteed easy returns, there was a stampede for licenses - which led to both a long “line” for licenses and a need for a considerable wait for the issuance of those licenses. This quickly led to a “corruption bubble” as various players tried to get themselves jumped-forward in the line (to be able to get into the money-generating game more quickly), and/or to be allowed into the game when the gate-opening was in doubt.

As a final complication, it was obvious that the “green electricity” that was produced by wind and solar projects was (as noted above) much, much more expensive than electricity produced by various plain-old, plain-old methods - and the utilities were obligated to buy all of the “green” electricity produced at a very high mandated floor price. With all of this “green electricity generation” coming from a blizzard of independent “green” power generators, this put the conventional utilities de facto into the role of middlemen - between the generators and the end-customers.

The normal thing to do in this situation would be the standard (and necessary) practice of passing those inflated costs on to the end-customers. However, the Spanish politicians who had been pushing this whole scheme didn’t want end-user electric rates to rise - since this would make the cost of the “green drive” clear to both individual and industrial users, and would likely touch off a revolt against the whole scheme. So the Spanish government issued IOUs to the utilities, promising to pay them the difference between the price that they needed to charge and the price that they were mandated to charge…. 15 years down the road.

So the utilities found themselves eating enormous losses because they were being forced to buy high and sell low…. and all that they had to show for it was an accumulating pile of IOUs from the Spanish government. It was the mid-2000s, so what did you do? Well, you took all those IOUs to some investment bankers and asked them to “securitize the debt” - in other words, convert that debt into debt instruments that could be marketed, so that (rather than sit there on dead-weight debt) you can generate some cash flow off of that debt. Like many (most?) such debt instruments created during that period (e.g., sub-prime mortgages), there was really no viable cash flow into that debt instrument - and these debt instruments became another pile of “toxic assets” that had had assumed-worth but which eventually found their true worth of basically zero.

This was ultimately a train-wreck waiting to happen, but there was one last problem that kept the whole circus going for just a little longer. As noted above, a key structural problem was that nine of every ten jobs in the “green energy sector” were non-permanent jobs; basically, most of the jobs created were directly related to “installation” (of windmills, solar panels, etc.) - and these jobs could only exist as long as there was continuing growth in the primary installation of such items (the jobs would simply disappear when market-saturation and a steady-state were reached).

So rather than try to carefully diffuse the bubble and bring things carefully back down to earth, the Spanish government was more fearful of the concurrent consequences of massive job losses as “installation employment” wound down. This caused a further growth in subsidies in order to keep installation - and the associated jobs - going.

Taken together, this whole story is one of a pyramid scheme that produced a giant bubble - one that took on a life of its own, to the point that no one had the fortitude to try to wind down (what they had themselves created) in a minimally-damaging fashion.

Instead, pushed by its own weight and by the global economic downturn, the Spanish “green energy bubble” has burst - and rather badly. There have been massive job losses in the green energy sector, as all of those “installation” jobs have now vanished. The underlying collateral damage - hidden by the bubble during its good years - has also been quite high; according to Prof. Calzada’s analysis (as noted above), because of the long-term misallocation of resources, for every four “green” jobs (most of them temporary) created, nine other jobs (most of them real and permanent) were either directly destroyed or simply never came into being. The collateral damage caused by the implosion of the “toxic assets” has also been high. And as a final addition of insult to injury, the lack of investment in good, low-cost energy availability has led to an outflow of employment (particularly in manufacturing) from Spain.

As a consequence of this fiasco, today Spain’s unemployment rate sits just a bit below 18%.

Why the “Spanish model” is still held up (in some quarters) as a model escapes me - on both practical and moral grounds.


Obama's Greenie rules obstruct GM revival

The future of GM and Chrysler depend on increasing their production of small cars and hybrids, says the Obama administration — even as sales of small cars and hybrids are in the tank.

Obama has been hawkish on hybrids, pouring money into GM in part to force it to transition to hybrid vehicles. “The plants shut down for a period during the height of the Depression, and major shifts in production have been required to meet the changing times,” he has said. “Tractors became automobiles. Automobiles became artillery shells. SUVs are becoming hybrids as we speak.”

Well, no. GM announced today that it has suspended production of the Chevrolet Malibu hybrid due to poor sales. A glut of 2009 models is sitting on dealer lots. In fact, the Malibu hybrid has been losing sales to its sister four-cylinder gasoline model, which gets similar mpg numbers (22 city/33 highway compared with 26/34 for the hybrid) but is $4,000 cheaper.

Meanwhile, in order to meet government mandates, Fiat-run Chrysler says it plans a profound makeover to adopt the European automaker’s platforms in order to expand its small-car lineup. Plans include production of the Fiat 500 minicar as well as the Alfa Romeo MiTo which have been popular in Italy.

Trouble is, Chrysler will be selling in the U.S. market where small car sales in May dove 39 percent compared to a 27 percent decline in SUV sales. With its vast experience running auto companies, however, Washington apparently sees something that the industry has been missing all these years.


Regulated to Death

Obama’s CAFE standards will prove bad for business and lethal for consumers

May 19 was a perfect day for a White House photo op. The sun was out, the Rose Garden was full, and everyone was smiling, even the CEOs of several automakers — which was ironic, because they were there to sign a suicide pact.

President Obama was unveiling, in his words, a “historic agreement” — a “harbinger of a change in the way business is done in Washington.” The federal government’s fuel-economy standards were being ratcheted up yet again, to 39 mpg for cars and 30 mpg for SUVs and other light trucks by 2016. That is one huge increase over the current standards, 27.5 and 23.1 mpg. And it is just latest turn in a decades-long saga known as Corporate Average Fuel Economy.

CAFE regulations were imposed in the wake of the 1973 oil embargo. They mandated gradual increases in the fuel-economy standards that new cars were required, on balance, to meet (i.e., not every new car had to meet the standards, but an automaker’s fleet had to average out to the stipulated target).

Fuel economy has certainly improved since CAFE’s enactment. The most rapid increase came in the decade after CAFE first took effect in 1978, when fuel economy for new domestic cars rose from 18 mpg to over 27 mpg. But rising gasoline prices also contributed, by stoking consumers’ demand for vehicles that used less gas. A 2002 National Research Council study was unable to determine whether CAFE was the most important force, while Brookings Institution scholar Robert W. Crandall believes that gas-price increases accounted for nearly all of the improvement.

Higher CAFE standards are also touted as a way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The relationship may sound logical — use less gas, import less oil — but it’s not borne out by history. CAFE standards rose in the 1980s, but so did our net dependence on foreign oil — from 37 percent in 1980 to 42 percent in 1990. In fact, our overall use of gas increased as well. There is a basic reason CAFE standards may have only a weak impact on oil consumption. Higher fuel efficiency reduces the marginal cost of driving — that is, the more miles per gallon your car gets, the less it costs you to drive each additional mile. So higher fuel economy may actually encourage more driving, and CAFE’s impact on gas consumption may therefore be far weaker than its proponents claim.

But CAFE does have some strong effects — such as increasing new-car prices and restricting the range of models available to the public. CAFE probably contributed to the demise of the full-size station wagon, which had low fuel economy. That, ironically, may have contributed to the rise of the SUV, an even less fuel-efficient model that fell into the less regulated “light truck” category.

And then there is CAFE’s impact on safety. It restricts the production of larger, heavier vehicles, which generally get fewer miles per gallon than smaller, lighter cars. But they’re also more crashworthy: They have more mass with which to absorb collision force, and more space in which occupants can safely decelerate (with the help of seat belts and air bags) before striking the car’s interior. According to the National Research Council study, the 27.5 mpg standard — which was Congress’s target when it initially enacted CAFE — contributed to about 2,000 traffic fatalities per year.

Since the regulations have been on the books for more than three decades, that adds up to a whopping death toll, one that CAFE’s proponents have refused to admit. The agency that runs CAFE, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has run into trouble over this issue. More than two decades ago, my organization, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, began challenging the NHTSA for refusing to factor safety into its deliberations when setting CAFE standards. In 1992, a federal appeals court agreed with us, and found that the agency, whose middle name is literally “Safety,” had used “fudged analysis,” “statistical legerdemain,” and “bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo” to obscure the fact that one of its programs was killing people.

I naively thought this would spell the end of CAFE. After all, if a private manufacturer had produced something that caused a mere fraction of CAFE’s carnage, it would long ago have been forced out of business. But I failed to appreciate just how different the rules of survival are for government projects. Not only did CAFE continue, but its requirements are now more stringent, and more lethal, than ever.

When industry and government shake hands over a product mandate, consumers had better run for the hills. President Obama promised that the costly technologies required under the new standards would rapidly pay for themselves in reduced gasoline costs, but he sounded like a used-car salesman. If these technologies were so great for consumers, then they’d be great for carmakers’ bottom lines. In that case, they wouldn’t need to be mandated by government.

But the auto industry did have one reason to celebrate. It was getting something that regulated industries will kill for: harmonization of regulations. For several years carmakers had faced the possibility that California and other states would impose more stringent fuel-economy standards than those at the federal level, under the guise of reducing carbon-dioxide emissions. California, however, had agreed to hold off temporarily on enacting its own standard, given the increased stringency of the new federal rule. The nightmarish scenario of having to meet different standards for different parts of the country was thus removed, at least for the time being. Instead of multiple nooses around its neck, the industry will have only one.

If you want to see how the industry is learning to live with that noose, consider General Motors’s shifting stance on CAFE. Last June, in comments filed with the NHTSA, it warned that a 35 mpg standard might require the use of “expensive technologies . . . that consumers may not find acceptable — due to price concerns, drivability issues, loss of utility, and noise/vibration acceptance levels.” And that was under the assumption that the 35 mpg standard would be in place by 2020, which would have allowed more breathing room than President Obama’s target of 2016 does.

But in December, when GM filed its restructuring plan with Congress in a bid for bailout funds, those concerns were gone. Instead, GM offered a mea culpa: “GM has made mistakes in the past . . . [including] insufficient investment in smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles for the U.S.” And at the Rose Garden ceremony, GM declared that it was “fully committed” to the president’s approach. So it is that an industry’s commitment to consumers is being replaced by a commitment to government.

But for the government to achieve what it desires, consumers have to behave in a certain way, and there’s no guarantee they will. Suppose they don’t flock to the new cars — what then? They may well hold on to their old cars longer, which means that our on-the-road fleet could end up having lower fuel economy than if CAFE hadn’t been changed at all. And that scenario will be even more likely if gas prices stay low, because then the public will have even less reason to sacrifice such things as comfort and safety in the name of fuel economy.

So we have a Bizarro World in which the auto industry may root for high gas prices because they make complying with CAFE easier, even though they also make driving more expensive. And government may well try to boost gas prices, given that its auto-bailout funds and regulatory scheme hang in the balance. Simply raising gas taxes would probably be too politically honest; voters would never accept it, and rightfully so. But a complicated cap-and-trade approach, such as that contained in the new Waxman-Markey climate bill, might be politically viable. It would boost gas prices, avoid getting labeled a tax, and be good for the Earth all at once. What could be better?

There was a disturbing but largely unreported prelude to the White House event. A week before the ceremony, Charles A. Hurley, who had been nominated by the president to head the NHTSA, withdrew his name. What reportedly killed his nomination was his work for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which is perhaps the last industry group to recognize the tradeoff between CAFE and vehicle safety publicly.

Making use of decades of auto-crash data, the Institute has long advised consumers on the importance of size and weight in car safety. It drove the point home again last April, by releasing a report on a series of mini-car test crashes in which the vehicles performed significantly worse than mid-size cars.

But well-founded as it was, Charles Hurley’s view on CAFE and safety was too much for environmentalists. They have never admitted the tradeoff in the past, and now they apparently will go gunning for anyone who does. Dan Becker, former head of the Sierra Club’s global-warming program and reportedly a key player in killing Hurley’s nomination, said: “I’d rather talk about the future than . . . kick a dead horse. This gives the Obama administration the opportunity to choose someone who is committed to both sides of NHTSA’s jurisdiction — safety and fuel economy.” So much for the laws of physics.

Hurley’s fate provides an Orwellian contrast to President Obama’s recent claim that “under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.” Science taking a back seat to ideology? Buckle up, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.


Nuclear power can be a Cash Cow

One of the biggest raps against nuclear power is that it can’t make money and requires huge subsidies from the federal government.

Tell that to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Exactly two years ago, the country’s largest public utility restarted Brown’s Ferry Unit 1 — a 1,100-megawatt reactor originally damaged in a 1976 fire that is generally regarded as the nation’s second worst nuclear accident. TVA spent $1.8 billion on the renovation and expected to pay off the construction debt in ten years.

Now it is finding the reactor may pay for itself in three years. Like most other reactors in the country, Brown’s Ferry is now making close to $2 million a day. “Once you get these things up and running, the operating expenses are minimal,” says David Blee, executive director of the U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council. “Once you pay off the construction debt, you’re sitting on a cash machine that may keep ringing up profits for another 60 years.”

Reactors have huge startup costs, of that there is no doubt. Current estimates are that plants on the drawing boards may take $8 to $10 billion to complete — more than the net worth of many utilities. But these costs are deceptive. Wind and solar installations actually cost more, since you need dozens of square miles of real estate for wind farms and sprawling solar collectors to get the same output. The advantage of wind and solar is that they don’t have to go through five years of licensing procedures at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Utilities and merchant companies must now spend $100 million just to get their applications before the NRC. (All costs of the procedure are born by the applicants.) But once construction is complete, reactors have absorbed 75 percent of their lifetime expenditures. Fuel and operating costs make up only 25 percent of total costs, as opposed to 70 percent for coal and 90 percent for natural gas, the other two sources of base-load power.

Here’s another interesting statistic. Natural gas plants now make up 39 percent of America’s total generating capacity but produce only 20 percent of our electricity. Nuclear, on the other hand, makes up 10 percent of our capacity but generates the same 20 percent. That’s because reactors are up-and-running 90 percent of the time while natural gas plants operate at only 20 percent capacity. The reason? Natural gas is so expensive that plants only run as a last resort.

Yet that last resort will be expanding under Waxman-Markey. One of the overlooked aspects of the Obama Energy Tax’s “renewable portfolio mandate” is that the all-out promotion of wind and solar actually means an all-out commitment to natural gas. Wind and solar generators can quit at any time so they must be paired with natural gas turbines, which are essentially jet engines bolted to the ground. Because they do not boil water, gas turbines can be started and accelerated at a moment’s notice to follow wind-and-solar’s vagaries. Unfortunately, it’s also among the most wasteful and expensive ways to generate electricity, which means prices will be increasing.

So here’s another telling statistic. Spain jumped into renewable energy with both feet in 2004 and has found electrical costs climbing 30 percent in five short years. In the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos study that Chris Horner has discussed frequently in this space, three scholars found that the creation of 47,000 “green jobs” in the wind, solar, and mini-hydroelectric industries had been more than offset by the loss of 110,000 jobs in major energy-consuming industries such as metallurgy, cement, and food processing. Several major manufacturers have relocated new plants in — guess where? — France, to take advantage of cheap nuclear electricity. Acerinox, the world’s second-largest manufacturer of stainless steel, has warned the Spanish government that it too will be disinvesting unless barriers to new nuclear construction are removed.

So get ready for higher electricity prices if the Waxman-Markey’s “renewable portfolio standard” of 17 percent by 2020 makes it through Congress. And get ready to see America’s already gutted manufacturing sector further disemboweled.



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


Saturday, June 13, 2009


An email from S. Fred Singer [singer@sepp.org]

It is clear that Lambeck doesn't understand the limitations of climate models. There is no credible theory at all for sea-level rise. The so-called "semi-empirical theory" of Rahmstorf is sheer fantasy.

Experts on actual sea level data (Trupin and Wahr, Bruce Douglas, Holgate) agree that there has been no acceleration of the rate of rise during the past century. How do Lambeck and Rahmstorf explain the absence of positive acceleration during the strong global warming interval of 1920-40? They cannot, and ignore it.

Green-Growth Hype

"Study: Jobs in Fledgling Green Sector Growing," reads the headline of an Associated Press dispatch. The characterization is sort of accurate--but only sort of:
The fledgling renewable energy industry has grown steadily over much of the past decade, adding jobs at more than twice the national rate, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts study released Wednesday. Solar and wind-power companies, energy-efficient light bulb makers, environmental engineering firms and others expanded their work force by 9.1 percent from 1998 to 2007, the latest year available, according to Pew. The average job growth in all industries was 3.7 percent during the same period.

The entire energy sector has experienced growth in recent years as well, according to the Bureau of Labor. Bureau data shows coal mining jobs jumped 16 percent from 2003 to 2009. Oil and gas extraction jobs jumped 28 percent.

It's rather tendentious to tout the growth of "green energy" jobs when energy jobs of other colors have grown considerably faster, and (although the AP does not mention this) from a higher base.

This misleading framing of the data did not originate with the AP; the Pew press release is titled "Pew Finds Clean Energy Economy Generates Significant Job Growth." But this points to a way in which media bias often operates. Rarely do news reporters merely rewrite a press release touting a study that comes from a conservative or free-market group. Instead, they take a more critical approach in order to compensate for the group's bias. There's nothing wrong with that; the fault lies in journalists' failing to apply a similar skepticism to liberal groups.


To Hell with Earth Day; Long Live Arbor Day!

Once upon a time in America, schoolchildren celebrated a lovely little holiday called Arbor Day. The young scholars would sing songs about Johnny Appleseed, recite Joyce Kilmer into the ground, learn the difference between an oak and a maple, and bundle up against the spring chill to go outside and plant an actual tree. The planting, like Arbor Day itself, was both symbolic and practical, and a nice lesson in the ways in which conservation and renewal begin at home. Fittingly, Grant Wood, rooted in Iowa, made Arbor Day the subject of one of his best paintings.

But that was then, and this is now. Beyond its hometown of Nebraska City, Nebraska, Arbor Day has faded into obscurity; its historic date, April 22, will be given over this year to that dreary shower of corporate agit-prop known as Earth Day. The difference between Arbor Day and Earth Day is the difference between planting a tree in your backyard and e-mailing a machine-written plea for a global warming treaty to your UN representative.

The date of Arbor Day has always varied from state to state, usually depending on the planting season. Its very lack of fixity was part of its charm. California observes it on March 7, Luther Burbank’s birthday, but before its most recent transplantation to the last Friday in April (this year the 24th), most states declared it to be April 22, the birthdate of J. Sterling Morton of Nebraska City, the father of Arbor Day.

Morton was a newspaper editor and member of the Nebraska Board of Agriculture. Desirous of windbreaks, shade, lumber, and the simple aesthetic pleasure of that woody wonder that only God can make, Morton proposed a statewide tree-planting festival. He got his wish: on April 10, 1872, more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska, and over the next sixteen years 350 million new trees brought a sylvan touch to the prairie state. Other states picked up on the idea, and by 1882, schoolkids around the country celebrated Arbor Day with parades, ceremonial plantings to honor the dead, and the introduction of seeds to soil, which begins the miracle.

But perhaps, in its reliance on the public school system, Arbor Day contained the seeds of its own destruction. States, and later the federal government, could not resist tweaking Arbor Day. It became Arbor and Bird Day in some places, which was harmless enough, but before long it was hijacked by the highwaymen of the Good Roads movement—the apostles of Progress who would go on to pave America with your ancestors’ tax dollars.

Thus by the teens the U.S. Bureau of Education was flooding the nation’s schools with bulletins promoting the bizarre hybrid “Good Roads Arbor Day.” You see, “If a people have no roads, they are savages,” as bureau propaganda put it. Properly instructed on Good Roads Arbor Day, American striplings might grow up “to relieve our country of this stigma of having the worst roads of all civilized nations.” Which they did: Who says public education doesn’t work?

(Piling yet another progressive cause atop the faltering branch of Arbor Day, the organizers of the West Virginia Arbor and Bird Day cheeped, “We can have a good system of consolidated schools only where we have good roads.”)

Nevertheless, Arbor Day survived, frequently observed in hamlets and parks and neighborhood schools—until it was clear-cut by Earth Day.

Earth Day was not of ignoble birth. It was the legislative child of Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), a thoughtful liberal, who envisioned it as a national teach-in on the environment. The first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, was a hectoring mix of street theater, corporate p.r., and speeches by such paragons of restraint as Senators Ted Kennedy and Bob Packwood. Funding came, in part, from Dow Chemical and the Ford Motor Company. (The most prominent public opponents of the first Earth Day were the Daughters of the American Revolution, who had also fought vainly against the Uniform Holiday Act of 1968, which spawned the commerce trumps tradition three-day weekend.)

In the four decades since, Earth Day has become a bloodless holiday for pallid urbanites, the sort of technology-dependent yuppies whose rare encounters with the unregulated outdoors usually end in paralyzing fears of Lyme disease. Earth Day is about as green as a $100 bill. So on April 22 this year, when the networks and the schools and the politicians are droning on about the oppressive bore that is Earth Day, commit a simple act of resistance and patriotism: Plant a tree.


The UN’s Climate of Futility

Climate bureaucrats from 180 countries came together in Bonn, Germany, to craft yet another proposal to replace the UN’s failed Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Whatever comes out of the meeting will be up for formal adoption at an even bigger meeting in Copenhagen next December.

Remember Kyoto? It would have required us to reduce our national emissions of carbon dioxide to 7 percent below 1990 levels. Europe, Canada, and pretty much the rest of the developed world had similar “obligations.” Kyoto failed because, simply put, it was too costly, both politically and economically. It would have had no detectable effect on global warming, anyway — “preventing” about seven-hundredths of a degree Celsius by 2050. The Earth’s surface temperature bounces around about twice that amount naturally from year-to-year, so it would have been impossible to determine Kyoto’s “benefit.”

What’s the response of the U.N. and the Obama administration to this failure? The meeting in Bonn proposes even more drastic cuts in emissions. The legislation currently being discussed in the House of Representatives, and supported by the president, would reduce U.S. emissions to 83 percent below 2005 levels. If implemented, this would allow the average American in 2050 to emit only as much carbon dioxide as the average American emitted in 1867. That target is right in the middle of the range being discussed in Bonn.

No one has any idea how this would be accomplished. The president supports the Waxman-Markey “cap and trade” bill — aptly renamed the Obama Energy Tax in this space, since it would amount to the largest tax increase ever instituted by any government in history. Entities that emit carbon dioxide — power plants, GM (Government Motors), you when you drive your car — will be required to reduce emissions by 83 percent over the next 40 years. Those who can’t do this will have to purchase a permit from someone or something that did.

This will make anything using, produced from, or transported via fossil fuels prohibitively expensive. How costly? The last time gas went up to $4 a gallon, the nation’s consumption dropped by about 4 percent. What does the price have to be to cut it by 83 percent? No one really knows, but it will surely be extremely high.

All this will have minimal effect on global warming. Using standard scientific models (such as they are), we can estimate that, if every nation in the world that has obligations under the current Kyoto Protocol begins to reduce emissions soon and reaches the 83 percent target by 2050, the amount of warming prevented by then is a mere 0.08 degrees Celsius by 2050 and 0.22 degrees by 2100, compared with what the United Nations calls “business-as-usual.”

Business not “as usual” won’t be very much business at all, at least in the U.S., where the average per capita emissions would have to drop to where they were after the Civil War. In response, businesses will migrate to where cheap energy is available, such as India and China. Both countries have made it quite clear that they simply will not go along with the emissions reductions being talked about in Bonn and Washington. The political pressure to develop their economies is orders of magnitude stronger than any pressure to hinder that development with artificially expensive energy.

Nor are China and India reluctant to exploit the new administration’s frequently stated desire to “work with the international community” (read: the U.N.) on climate change. So, Beijing and New Delhi are ratcheting up the stakes even farther. China, for example, may agree “in principle” to some vague reductions in emissions at some future time, but only if the developed nations of the world agree to send a check for 1 percent of their GDP annually as payment.

For all its new internationalist intentions, even the many environmental radicals in the Obama administration will recognize the perils of a policy that would lead to another round of de-industrialization in the U.S. while paying competitors to bury our economy. And they have one escape hatch: the U.S. Senate.

Absent some extreme climatic change, there is no way that the Senate is going to go along with the House or with Obama on the issue of drastic cuts in emissions. Consequently, negotiators in Bonn will say that everything that the U.S. does is contingent upon what the Senate will do.

The smartest policy for the new “internationalist” administration would be to support the massive emissions reductions proposed in the House legislation, and to delay consideration by the Senate until after the Copenhagen meeting, where it is sure to die. Obama can burnish his international environmental credentials, please those within his own administration, and avoid further destruction of the economy.


Meteorologist: Climate change reconsidered. Reasons to question beliefs‏

By MICHAEL MOGIL (Mogil is a certified consulting meteorologist, retired National Weather Service employee and a longtime weather educator)

Proponents of anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change have ruled the roost for years. Following the release of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments and Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” book and movie, the media focused on “impending doom,” shunning skeptics. Only recently have several thousand credible scientists offered organized evidence, research and persuasion that explain how forces far greater than those of mortals are effecting climate change. Their data and explanations indicate that the incredible, soon-to-be-spent megamillions, will have little effect on lowering human-caused carbon-dioxide emissions. On June 2, “Climate Change Reconsidered — The Report of the Non-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC)” (See here), documenting this scientific evidence, was unveiled at the Third International Conference on Climate Change in Washington, D.C.

We are in a warming period now, but there is no consensus on human causation. Although temperatures have risen over the past five centuries, manifestations of our Industrial Revolution have only been at work for about 200 years. Thus, more than half of the current warming period occurred before humans started overproducing carbon dioxide.

Warming and cooling periods have happened many times over geologic time (about 4.5 billion years). In fact, past temperatures have been warmer than they are today.

Since we are talking geologic time, notice how most climate change pronouncements key on “warmest in 30 years” and “strongest hurricane ever.” Yet, true weather records date back only about 60 years for hurricanes and tornadoes. This is due to technological advances like satellites, radars and enhanced communications. For other weather variables, the period of record is usually far less than 100 years. A 30-year period, which defines daily average temperatures, is equivalent to one second now compared to five years geologically.

What drives such changes if humans don’t? Solar output is not constant. We are now in a solar minimum with lower global and regional temperatures. This year, parts of the northern Rockies have experienced late-season snowfalls. The northern tier has had frost risks even into early June.

Back in 1816, New England missed summer. Its coldness was linked to volcanic eruptions.

Other contributors to climate change include changes in the Earth’s rotation, slight variances in the tilt of its axis, continental movement, advances and retreats of glaciers (which has happened throughout geologic time), shifts in ecosystem distribution and changes in ocean levels and circulation patterns. In fact, we incorrectly believe that climate is fixed; rather, it is always changing. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington showcases such changes over eons. You can also learn about the exhibit here.

While large numbers of record daily high temperatures are still being reported, meteorologist Anthony Watts has questioned the reliability of U.S. temperature records (See here). By photographing and visually inspecting some 850 stations in the U.S. (but extrapolating their findings globally), Watts noted that 89 percent failed to meet even the National Weather Service’s own locating requirements. Many of the stations were “located next to the exhaust fans of air-conditioning units, surrounded by asphalt parking lots and roads, on blistering-hot rooftops, and near sidewalks and buildings that absorb and radiate heat.”

Thus, contrary to claims by the anthropogenic climate change community, there is stark evidence that we are not the culprit. And before we spend “anything that it takes” to solve this now unproven problem, we may want to reassess public opinion. In fact, given that large parts of the world won’t make the changes that the U.S. and Europe are considering, it seems folly to have some nations air condition themselves while others leave the “barn doors open.”

Nonetheless, we must be better stewards of Planet Earth. For any action we take, individuals and families, governments (at all levels) and businesses (large and small) need to look at cost-benefit-risk aspects. Everything needs to be on the table as possible solutions. For decreasing oil usage, I think it is presumptuous to take half of our options off the table while touting only costly-to-produce (but possibly viable) solar, wind and ethanol.

Understanding is crucial if we are to make intelligent choices. Thus, I urge all readers not to blindly accept what I state here. Rather, I hope that you will question your beliefs, statements you may have heard and other aspects of this issue to arrive at your own conclusions. In doing so, you will demonstrate what graces the masthead on these editorial pages, “Give light and the people will find their own way.”


Climate cops for Australia?

FRONTLINE police will be forced to become "carbon cops" under the Government's blueprint to cut greenhouse emissions. The Herald Sun can reveal Australian Federal Police agents will have to prosecute a new range of climate offences. But they are yet to be offered extra resources, stretching the thin blue line to breaking point.

"The Government is effectively saying to us, 'Ignore other crime types'," Australian Federal Police Association chief Jim Torr said. The group had been trying for months, without success, to discuss the issue with Climate Change Minister Penny Wong, he said.

Interpol has warned the carbon market will be irresistible to criminal gangs because of the vast amounts of cash to be made. Possible rorts include under-reporting of carbon emissions by firms and bogus carbon offset schemes. "If someone is rorting it by even 1 per cent a year, we're talking about many, many millions of dollars," Mr Torr said.

Ms Wong's office said AFP agents would be expected to enter premises and request paperwork to monitor firms' emissions reductions. They would act on the 30-strong Australian Climate Change Regulatory Authority's orders. It said the authority could appoint staff members or police as inspectors. She said the Department of Climate Change had spoken to the AFPA and the parties would talk again. Carbon trading involves carbon emissions rights buying and selling. Businesses can offset emissions by investing in climate-friendly projects, or carbon credits. Ms Wong's office said provisions had been made to ensure compliance. "Inspectors may enter premises and exercise other monitoring powers," she said. "The inspectors may ask questions and seek the production of documents. There is provision for the issue of monitoring warrants by magistrates."

The AFP's 2855 sworn agents are involved in law enforcement in Australia and overseas, investigating terrorist threats, drug syndicates, people trafficking, fraud and threats against children.

Mr Torr said breaking carbon trading laws would be like breaking other laws. "These offences will constitute another federal crime type, along with narcotics importing, people smuggling and all the rest of it, that the AFP will be expected to police," he said. "I can see very complex, covert investigations . . . a lot of scientific expertise required."

The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is facing Senate defeat unless it can secure the support of key cross-benchers or the Opposition. Opposition climate change spokesman Andrew Robb said the scheme was problematic.



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


Friday, June 12, 2009


Discussing: "Esper, J. and Frank, D. 2009. The IPCC on a heterogeneous Medieval Warm Period. Climatic Change 94: 267-273."

In an important paper recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Climatic Change, Swiss scientists Jan Esper (of the Swiss Federal Research Institute) and David Frank (of the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research) take the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to task for concluding in their fourth assessment report (AR4) that, relative to modern times, there was "an increased heterogeneity of climate during medieval times about 1000 years ago."

This finding, if true, would be of great significance to the ongoing debate over the cause of 20th-century global warming, because, in the words of Esper and Frank, "heterogeneity alone is often used as a distinguishing attribute to contrast with present anthropogenic warming." On the other hand, if the IPCC's contention is false, it would mean that the warmth of the Current Warm Period is not materially different from that of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), suggesting there is no need to invoke anything extraordinary (such as anthropogenic CO2 emissions) as the cause of earth's current warmth, which does not yet appear to have reached the level experienced a thousand years ago (when there was much less CO2 in the air than there is today), as is indicated by the materials archived in our Medieval Warm Period Project. And, of course, this outcome would also be of great significance.

So what did the two Swiss scientists find? By means of various mathematical procedures and statistical tests, Esper and Frank were able to demonstrate that the records reproduced in the AR4 "do not exhibit systematic changes in coherence, and thus cannot be used as evidence for long-term homogeneity changes." And even if they could be thus used, they say "there is no increased spread of values during the MWP," and that the standard error of the component data sets "is actually largest during recent decades." Consequently, the researchers concluded that their "quantification of proxy data coherence suggests that it was erroneous [for the IPCC] to conclude that the records displayed in AR4 are indicative of a heterogeneous climate during the MWP."

Nevertheless, the homogeneity issue remains unresolved, for as Esper and Frank also note, "an estimation of long-term spatial homogeneity changes is premature based on the smattering of data currently available." And that is why we continue to post the results of one new study each and every week that provides additional data on the Medieval Warm Period. We are determined to see this question -- and others associated with it -- clearly resolved, one way or the other. And as may be seen from the ever-expanding results of our Interactive Map and Time Domain Plot, the MWP is looking ever more global and substantial with every passing week.


Journal abstract follows:


By Jan Esper and David Frank


In their 2007 report, IPCC working group 1 refers to an increased heterogeneity of climate during medieval times about 1000 years ago. This conclusion would be of relevance, as it implies a contrast in the spatial signature and forcing of current warmth to that during the Medieval Warm Period. Our analysis of the data displayed in the IPCC report, however, shows no indication of an increased spread between long-term proxy records. We emphasize the relevance of sample replication issues, and argue that an estimation of long-term spatial homogeneity changes is premature based on the smattering of data currently available.


Science, belief and rational debate

From Scientific Alliance newsletter 12th June 2009

The scientific method is a valuable way to advance objective knowledge. By testing a hypothesis against observation, it can either be falsified or supported. Not proved, of course, but nevertheless over time sufficient evidence can accumulate for a hypothesis to be generally accepted as the best available explanation. It is then known as a theory. Hence, although the vast majority of scientists and citizens (at least in Europe) accept Darwin's description of evolution, this is still regarded as a theory rather than fact. This is important, because as our understanding develops, apparently satisfactory theories may be replaced by others.

For simple things such as the effect of the Earth's gravity on objects we are familiar with, collecting the evidence is straightforward and no experiments have been done which contradict the theory of gravity. But over the last century, it has been accepted that classical Newtonian mechanics is actually only valid at a certain scale (which encompasses everything in our normal Earthbound existence). At the atomic scale, we enter the abstruse realm of quantum mechanics, and on a cosmic scale Einstein's theory of relativity is currently the best description of what goes on across the observable universe.

Importantly, both of these deviations from the familiar everyday world as explained by Newton arose because observation did not fit with prediction: the theory broke down at very large and very small scales. The boundaries of knowledge have since been pushed back steadily, leading to a general acceptance of quantum mechanics and relativity as the best theories to date to explain observations.

On a cosmic level, there is still much we do not know. It is now generally accepted that the Big Bang theory describes the universe better than the previously-competing Steady State model. But current models require the universe to be composed largely of as-yet-undetected "dark matter" and "dark energy" if observations are to be consistent with theory. And on a broader scale, the search for a "theory of everything" which brings together quantum mechanics and relativity and explains gravity remains unresolved, with the large amount of work on the development of string theory potentially being a historical dead end.

This sort of work engenders fierce scientific rivalries, and the formation of a consensus view can take many years, but it is essentially an internal professional competition, of little direct relevance to the average citizen (apart from the fact that their taxes pay for it). However, when we come to issues which affect non-scientists more directly, other interest groups become more involved.

A classic recent example which is often quoted is of the cause of stomach and duodenal ulcers. Many readers will remember that stress and spicy foods were considered the primary causes of peptic ulcers, until the Australian scientists Robin Warren and Barry Marshall discovered the bacterium Helicobacter pylori in 1982 and proposed that colonisation by this micro-organism was the main factor. Warren took the rather extreme step of deliberately infecting himself (and inducing symptoms of gastritis) and publishing the results before the theory began to gain acceptance.

In this case, doctors and scientists "knew" that stress and diet were the main causative factors for ulcers because that was what they had been taught and that was the basis on which patients were treated. It is human nature to accept facts rather than continually question them: indeed, society would probably not function if we did not behave like this. To overturn received wisdom requires either unexplained observation (as for the behaviour of the universe) or one or more awkward individuals who are sufficiently motivated to do their own experiments.

But when we turn to environmental issues, the situation becomes more complex still. To test a hypothesis, it is always best if only one independent variable can be changed at a time. In the laboratory, this is usually possible, but when hypotheses have to be tested purely by observation of highly complex systems, life gets much more difficult. And it is difficult to think of something much more complex than global climate.

It is well known that there were serious concerns raised about climate change in the 1970s, although at that time the worry was about cooling and descent into a new Ice Age. However, attention soon turned instead to global warming. A sudden jump in temperature in the mid-1970s was followed by an upward trend over the next two decades, and it was perfectly logical to hypothesise that this increase was caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

This quickly became the new paradigm, linking humankind's burning of fossil fuels directly to environmental change on a global scale. Unfortunately for the cause of rational debate, this also quickly became the only acceptable hypothesis for large swathes of the scientific community, pretty much everyone who considered themselves an environmentalist and the liberal elites in Western democracies. The problem was, is (and will remain so for the foreseeable future) that it is impossible to do experiments on the Earth's climate. All we can do is observe.

Scientists often model systems to predict what effects might be expected if variables change in a certain way. In the absence of anything resembling evidence for the causative effect of global warming, computer modelling was enthusiastically embraced to project likely changes on the basis of the understanding of how climate worked. So far, so good, but the output from these models, rather than being seen as indications of what might happen if the hypothesis was right, have taken the place of experimental observation.

So, in a circular argument, the models which are based on a particular hypothesis (the greenhouse effect with positive feedback) are taken to "prove" the hypothesis because they reproduce the pattern of twentieth century temperature change. Similarly, the projections for future temperature rise (which, we should remember, cover a large range) are regularly quoted as what will happen if carbon dioxide emissions are not drastically cut back.

Large numbers of people have been sufficiently convinced by the arguments to take it as read that the greenhouse gas hypothesis is essentially correct and that disaster will occur unless radical cuts are made in emissions. They have moved beyond the stage of questioning to simply not listening to anyone who raises doubts. But, what is worse, they are putting their faith in a hypothesis unsupported by anything more than circumstantial evidence. Because no-one can do more than point to observations, no new evidence is going to be produced which – as in the story of peptic ulcers – will provide direct, irrefutable corroboration of an alternative theory.

In the meantime, the belief in the greenhouse gas hypothesis is such that legitimate criticism based on contradictory evidence – the lack of predicted warming of the upper troposphere, the measured cooling of Antarctica, the lack of change in the rate of sea level rise or the failure of the models to explain or predict recent temperature trends, for example – are dismissed as the propaganda of paid lobbyists or cranks. All societies will gain if we make sure we understand the problem before taking corrective action rather than jump on the currently fashionable bandwagon. Addressing critics' questions seriously is a necessary first step.

Whatever the result, a better understanding of our climate will ensure that we take appropriate action rather than invest so much in one particular preferred "solution" which shows little chance of success. Whatever the result, science will be the stronger for it. But, if things continue as they are and the catastrophists' view of climate change turns out to be wrong, it would hardly be surprising if the average person fails to place much faith in science.


Prosecuting “Future Crimes”

From Ed Ring's new site:

The “World Future Council” has recently issued a press release stating “Crimes against Future Generations need to become taboo” (pdf), with a lead sentence that states the following: “How can we prevent and prosecute activites today that severely threaten the living conditions and health of those living in the future?”

Does this sound sinister to you? If you don’t buy into some of the dominant concepts of mainstream environmentalism today, if you appreciate the potential for unintended consequences, and if you are paying attention the ongoing momentum of mainstream environmentalism, you will find this pronouncement sinister indeed. Here’s more:

“The fundamental rights of future generations need to be recognized in international justice. Investigating the concept of Crimes against Future Generations is a very important initiative to support this,” according to Prof. Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger, a World Future Council “Councillor.”

Like most utopian concepts, this all sounds great except for one glaring, fatal flaw: We can’t predict the future, or the judgement of history. For example, in their press release, WFC notes the problem of rainforest destruction due to oil drilling - ignoring the fact that most rainforest destruction in the past decade or more has been financed by proceeds from European emissions allowance auctions, because “carbon neutral” biofuel plantations were considered until fairly recently to be eligible carbon offset projects. Deforestation on the scale of hundreds of thousands of square miles was enabled by social engineers of WFC’s ilk, their misguided utopian idealism only matched by their political savvy. In this case, the judgement of the future is already here - and the guilty parties are the same people who are proposing we create a new area of international law to prosecute who, themselves? Clearly, in the case of rainforests, they didn’t see the future very well at all, nor are they being honest today about what really happened.

Another obvious example of the simplistic arrogance of the WFC’s press release is their distaste for nuclear power, despite the potential of nuclear power to make significant contributions to global energy supply. Nuclear power is cleaner and safer than ever, but to read this press report you would think Chernobyl was yesterday. The irony is fascinating - these people presume to be so certain of the judgement of history some time in the future that they wish to prosecute those of us today whose projects may not fit their world view, yet these futurists have no faith in the potential for technology to deliver safe nuclear power! What technologies do they like, and why, and will their assessments be any more accurate than the ones that lead to the incineration of Indonesian rainforests to plant oil palms?

If crimes against the future are going to be prosecuted, perhaps we should prosecute those who in the name of environmentalism, fought, often successfully, to eliminate nuclear power, eliminate coal power, banned DDT and genetically modified crops, and in general restricted resource development of all kinds. Because when the history of the 21st century is written, it may be this version of environmentalism will be to blame for condemning humanity to a dark age of scarcity that was completely, utterly avoidable. So where are the legal briefs for this case? In what international court shall we file this lawsuit against environmentalists for “crimes against the future?”

Environmentalism today has been hijacked by powerful vested interests, including public sector unions, corporate cartels, and the “international community,” whose primary concern is preserving their elite status and squelching competition. They are abetted by irresponsible journalists who have not taken it upon themselves to verify all of the doomsday predictions coming out of the PR mills such as that of the WFC, nor are willing to consider alternative world views that might embrace entrepreneurial activity and resource development. They are also abetted by ambitious consultants, service professionals and entrepreneurs of all stripes who see in the green mania a good way to grow their businesses - and if they don’t think too hard, they may even consciously think they are saving the planet. But when the judgement of history is upon us, one hundred years hence, maybe it will be those who wanted to reform environmentalism, right-size government, and roll back the power of big labor who will be seen to have fought the good fight. Green is a complex color - it reflects a great deal of genuine beauty and promise, but shades of darkness as well.

Prosecuting “crimes against the future” is a snake pit, writhing with opportunists and their useful zealots, and nothing more. It is dangerous, it discredits the genuine values and challenges of environmentalism that should be addressed, and threatens our freedom.


Caterpillar CEO Commits to Pro-Cap-and-Trade Lobbying Course While Admitting Risk to USA and His Own Corporation; Says Stockholders Who Object Can Just Sell Their Stock

Should We Sell Our Stock in America, Too, Mr. Owens?

Caterpillar CEO James Owens admitted Wednesday at his company's annual stockholder meeting that the carbon caps his company supports could hurt the U.S., U.S. heavy industry and Caterpillar itself. Owens made the admission in response to questioning by Tom Borelli, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project, who attended the meeting on behalf of the Free Enterprise Action Fund.

Owens told Borelli and stockholders that the U.S. and Caterpillar will be harmed if carbon caps are adopted by the U.S. but not adopted by the rest of the world. The key industrial nations of China and India are extremely unlikely to adopt carbon caps.

Borelli also asked Owens how Owens would be held accountable if Caterpillar's lobbying led to "a regulatory avalanche leaving the U.S. in an uncompetitive situation." Owens responded by telling Borelli to just sell his stock.

"Caterpillar CEO Owens' flippant remark that stockholders can just sell their stock if Caterpillar's lobbying efforts harm the company leaves me wondering: Does Owens expect us to sell our stock in America, too? Because by lobbying for legislation that would harm individual Americans and American competitiveness, it sure seems like that's what Mr. Owens and his board of directors have done," said Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. "Mr. Owens freely admits the legislation his firm backs will hurt the country and his company unless it also is adopted by major nations worldwide, but everyone knows the powerhouses China and India have no interest in doing so."

Owens also said Caterpillar did not support the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, which was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in May. When pressed by Borelli, Owens declined to say Caterpillar would lobby against Waxman-Markey if it went to the floor, but Owens also declined to deny the company would lobby for it.

Owens also said the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), an environmentalist-big business coalition to which Caterpillar belongs, did not support Waxman-Markey, but USCAP urged members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to vote in favor of the legislation's passage when the bill was considered in the committee last month.


Beware of blood lust on the Left

Scratch a global warming fanatic these days and you may find a wannabe executioner

The way I figure it, wish death upon your political opponents once and it can be ignored as just a warped jest. Do it twice and it looks like evidence of mounting frustration with your neighbors’ inability to see your cause’s crystalline righteousness.

Do it three times and folks around you should start reaching for their hog legs (Don’t know the meaning of that firearms industry technical term? Google it, then read the entry in the Urban Dictionary).

It seems there are more than a few global warming fanatics these days whose patience is wearing thin with those of us who refuse to endorse repeal of what the true believers view as three of the 20th century’s greatest evils – privately owned cars that empower people to go where they please, suburbs that let them permanently escape city life, and free market capitalism that produces a wider prosperity than seen anywhere else in human history.

So we increasingly hear such folks muttering darkly about things that remind of Robespierre’s cure for counter-revolutionary thinking. Take the most recent example, a post on Talking Points Memo by “The Insolent Braggart” who poses an interesting question: “So when the right wing f--ktards have caused it to be too late to fix the problem, and we start seeing the devastating consequences and we start seeing end of the World type events - how will we punish those responsible. It will be too late. So shouldn’t we start punishing them now?”

It would be easy to dismiss this as an isolated example, something akin to the slightly warped jest mentioned above, except for one thing: The sentiment expressed in this anonymous post on one of the Left’s most widely read blogs isn’t exactly unique.

As Marc Morano of Climate Depot (yes, he’s a confirmed denier) points out, global warming fanatics have for several years now been calling for jail or execution for people who disagree with them: “NASA’s James Hansen has called for trials of climate skeptics in 2008 for ‘high crimes against humanity.’

Environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. lashed out at skeptics of 2007, declaring ‘This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors.’ In 2009, RFK, Jr. also called coal companies ‘criminal enterprises’ and declared CEO’s ‘should be in jail... for all of eternity.’

In 2006, the eco-magazine Grist called for Nuremberg-Style trials for skeptics. In 2008, Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki called for government leaders skeptical of global warming to be thrown ‘into jail.’”

What worries me is that this blood lust for vengeance among global warming extremists is mirrored elsewhere on the Left on other issues. The ardor of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. John Conyers for show trials of former Bush administration officials for their roles in the Iraq War may have cooled for now, but don’t think for a minute they’ve given up on the idea.

Never mind that such trials would unleash a deadly cycle of revenge and counter-revenge not seen since Oliver Cromwell rolled Charles I’s head down the steps of Parliament. Lose a political bout in those days, and you probably lost your head, too.

Then there is the Obama administration’s stealth drive to silence Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and the rest of the conservative Talk Radio firmament. They’re not calling it the Fairness Doctrine any more. Now it’s “diversity panels,” which supposedly are citizens groups that will “advise” radio stations on whether or not they are airing sufficiently diverse programming.

This ACORN-izing of broadcast audience feedback will put the mob inside the offices of programming directors everywhere. When mobs with political agenda s don’t get what they want, they start busting up people and property.


Australia has best start to a snow season in a decade

Global cooling strikes again

THE best start to a snow season in a decade should have all of Australia's major ski fields up and running by the weekend. Extensive snowfalls this week have created a good base at all the major NSW and Victorian ski resorts with more snow due over the next two days. Snowmaking machines will also be enhancing the natural cover. For the first time in history, Perisher is looking to open Mt Perisher for the second weekend of the season.

The heaviest fall in either state in the past 24 hours has been at the Victorian cross country venue at Lake Mountain, where only three months ago the state's deadly bushfires had ravaged the landscape. Some 40 centimetres has fallen at Lake Mountain and all cross country trails are open. Of the main downhill locations, the Victorian resorts of Mount Buller and Falls Creek had registered the highest falls, each receiving around 25cm in the 24 hours to 5pm (AEST) on Wednesday.

Falls Creek had an average cover of 44cm with one lift open, and Mt Buller had 56cm on the ground, where six lifts are due to roll on Friday. Two lifts operated on Wednesday at Mt Hotham where there was an average cover of around 40cm.

In NSW, one lift operated at Thredbo on Wednesday with 10cm of fresh snow bringing the overall cover to around 50cm, but the slopes remained officially closed to the public. Perisher had two lifts in action with one run open, but snow falls throughout the day have made prospects of a more extensive opening likely later this week. Snowmaking will add to the cover in all resorts with a new front expected to cross the Alps from Friday.



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


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mythical acceleration in sea-level rise

An email from Cliff Ollier [cliffol@cyllene.uwa.edu.au]

Kurt Lambeck presented a ‘review’ of Ian Plimer’s book on Australia's ABC radio, which was basically an attempted character assassination with little factual content. Here is an extract from his talk, with the only thing approaching a clear statement of (disputable) fact.

Extract from Lambeck: “There is in fact a quite remarkable convergence of the interpretation of the observational evidence of what has been happening to sea level in the past 100 or so years. This points to an increase in the globally averaged rates by a factor of about 2, and this is consistent with what is expected from the climate models that include both natural and anthropogenic forcing”

Lambeck’s assertion can be contrasted with a recent statement from Holland. Holland is very low and would be particularly vulnerable to any large rise of sea level. It is also a world leader in coastal study and engineering, and they are not alarmed. In a piece in the December 11, 2008, issue of NRC/Handelsblad (Rotterdam’s counterpart to the New York Times) Wilco Hazeleger, a senior scientist in the global climate research group at KNMI (the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) wrote:

Extract from Hazeleger: “In the past century the sea level has risen twenty centimetres. There is no evidence for accelerated sea-level rise. It is my opinion that there is no need for drastic measures. Fortunately, the time rate of climate change is slow compared to the life span of the defense structures along our coast. There is enough time for adaptation.”


Japan, a major emitter of greenhouse gases and a key player in the global warming debate, set a new target on Wednesday that would reduce emissions 15 percent by 2020 from 2005 — a goal quickly called inadequate by environmentalists. But Japan’s 15 percent mid-term target reduction, announced by Prime Minister Taro Aso [above] in a televised news conference on Wednesday, comes to just 8 percent below Tokyo’s emissions levels in 1990. That’s not much more, environmentalists say, than the 6 percent cut by 2012 that Tokyo committed to under the Kyoto Protocol, which the country has struggled to meet.

Still, Mr. Aso called Japan’s new target “ambitious,” one that would require sacrifices from Japanese companies and public. Raising fuel efficiency to achieve the new target could ultimately help Japan, he said. “We are all responsible for stopping climate change,” Mr. Aso said. “We must ask the Japanese people to make sacrifices. That is the cost of saving our planet.”

The European Union has promised to cut emissions by 20 percent from levels in 1990, and by 30 percent if other rich nations follow suit. In the United States, which did not sign the 1990 Kyoto pact, a bill that would reduce emissions by 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels recently cleared a congressional panel.

“Japan’s target is not nearly enough to stop the effects of global warming,” said Naoyuki Yamagishi, the head of the climate change program at the environmental advocacy group, WWF Japan. “Japan has failed to step up to its international responsibilities,” he said.

Japanese businesses argue that their factories are already among the world’s most energy-efficient, and the country will struggle to cut greenhouse gas emissions further. Since the oils shocks of the 1970s, Japanese companies have actively pursued energy-saving technologies, a drive that has made the country a leader in “green” cars and alternative energy.

In 2006, Japan emitted 0.24 kilograms of carbon dioxide per U.S. dollar in gross domestic product, less than half the level in the United States and a tenth of that in China. Though Japan has the world’s second-largest economy, it ranks fifth in global emissions rankings, behind the United States, China, Russia and India.

Industry leaders also warn that stringent emissions reduction targets will hurt Japan’s frail economy. The country is in its worst recession since World War II, amid a collapse in global demand for its mainstay exports. Last month, industry groups took out a full-page advertisement in Japan’s largest daily paper warning deep emissions targets could hurt economic growth.

“The mid-term targets need to be fair to all countries, realistic, and place equal burden on a country’s citizens,” the Keidanren, Japan’s largest business lobby, said in a statement Tuesday. The lobby had backed a target that would have allowed for a 4 percent increase in emissions from 1990, or a 4 percent decrease compared to 2005.

The government had been considering a range of targets, from the industry-backed 4 percent increase from 1990 to one backed by environmentalist groups that would cut emissions by 25 percent. Mr. Aso was quick to point out that unlike targets set under the Kyoto Protocol, which allowed countries to use emissions offsets and other schemes, the 15 percent decrease will come from real cuts. The government recently introduced subsidies that spur the use of solar power in Japanese homes, as well as incentives on low-emission cars. The 15 percent target, Mr. Aso stressed, was a compromise he had reached after consulting extensively with scientists and economists, as well as with members of the public.

To meet the targets, Japan will pursue breakthroughs in environmental technology, as well as expand the use of nuclear energy. Mr. Aso has said Tokyo aims to expand solar output by a factor of 20 and put more “green” cars on Japanese roads. He said he believed Japanese companies could boost efficiency even further.


And here's the reason behind Japan's decision:

Prime Minister Taro Aso held a meeting at the Prime Minister's Office with representatives of labor union and industrial organizations to discuss a mid-term target for addressing global warming.

The Prime Minister first met with Mr. Tsuyoshi Takagi, President of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (RENGO), and then with Mr. Junro Naito, President of the Japan Federation of Basic Industry Workers' Unions, and Mr. Hiroyuki Nagumo, President of the Federation of Electric Power Related Industry Worker's Unions of Japan (Denryoku Soren), which was followed by a meeting with Mr. Fujio Mitarai, Chairman of the Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), Mr. Tadashi Okamura, Chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), Mr. Tsunehisa Katsumata, Chairman of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), and Mr. Akio Mimura, Representative Director and Chairman of Nippon Steel Corporation. The Prime Minister exchanged views with them on a 2020 mid-term reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions.



Japan has announced a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 15% over the next 11 years - a figure derided by environmentalists as "appalling". The target equates to a cut of about 8% from 1990 levels, the commonly used baseline. By comparison, the EU plans a 20% reduction over the same period.

The announcement comes in the middle of talks on the UN climate treaty in Bonn.

Some observers say Japan's goal is not enough to persuade developing countries to cut their own emissions. "The target is not strong enough to convince developing nations to sign up for a new climate change pact," said Hidefumi Kurasaka, professor of environmental policies at Japan's Chiba University.

Announcing the target, Prime Minister Taro Aso argued it was as strong as the EU's because it does not include "flexible mechanisms" such as international carbon trading.

But Kim Carstensen, leader of the global climate initiative at environment group WWF, said the 8% target represented virtually no advance from the 6% cut that Japan had pledged, under the Kyoto Protocol, to achieve by 2012. "Prime Minister Aso's plan is appalling," he said. "[It] would mean that Japan effectively gives dirty industries the freedom to pollute without limits for eight years."

Japan's annual emissions are currently about 6% above 1990 levels, despite its Kyoto Protocol pledge to make cuts.



"China launches green power revolution to catch up on west" [sic] shrieks the front page headline in today's Guardian. It's a nonsense, of course. Modern China cares about as much about "anthropogenic global warming" as Chairman Mao did about providing his population with five-course steak dinners. AGW's only use, as far as the Chinese are concerned, is as an ingenious device to suck up money and power from the gullible west.

And this isn't meant to be an insult to the Chinese, by the way. I mean it wholly as a compliment to their far-sightedness, shrewdness and pragmatism. Over the last ten days, delegation after US delegation has gone to China in a vain bid to persuade its leadership to believe in - or at least pay lipservice to - the mythical beast they call ManBearPig.

How has China responded? Why, with exactly the mix of incredulity, scorn and cynicism you'd expect of a hungry, fast-industrialising nation whose priority is economic growth rather than, say, assuaging breast-beating liberal guilt about how we've sinned against Mother Gaia and must now flagellate ourselves for our sins with swingeing new eco taxes and punitive regulation.

Here is what Li Gao, China's chief climate change negotiator has to say on the subject: "Developed countries have neither enough active responses to proposals from developing countries about emission-cut target by 2020, nor interests in providing funds and technologies to help developing countries adapt to climate change."

This is diplomatic hardball speak for: "If you in the West wish us to play your silly carbon emissions cutting game, you must not only bribe us with large sums of money but you must also place your industries at an even greater competitive disadvantage by crippling them with CO2 legislation from which we, in developing countries like China, Brazil and India, shall remain happily exempt."

To anyone who understands China, this is all so obvious as scarcely to be worth stating. As one of my contacts, a Shanghai-based US industrialist put it at the time of Nancy Pelosi's cap-in-hand begging mission to Beijing: "The idea of looking to China for any sort of environmental leadership or effective environmental cooperation is simply preposterous. China currently appears to be operating under a triad of very basic principles:

1) No policies shall be enacted which would interfere with China's economic growth

2) China shall increase its energy production and security by any and all means possible, as quickly as possible.

3) Int'l agreements shall transfer massive amounts of capital, industry, & technology from the West to fund China's energy development."

What beggars belief is that the whole of the current US administration thinks that China is in fact gullible and pliable. First, came the deeply humiliating visit by Nancy "Waterboarding? What waterboarding?" Pelosi, in which she determinedly avoided mentioning China's human rights record, the better to sell America's interests down the river on green issues.

So desperate was Pelosi to secure a climate change deal that, somewhat chillingly, she even appeared ready to treat Americans in future not unlike citizens of communist China, saying: "Every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory ... of how we are taking responsibility."

This week it has been the turn of Todd D Stern, Hillary Clinton's envoy on climate change to have the Chinese flip him the bird in Beijing. Reports the Washington Post: "On Monday, Vice Premier Li Keqiang told Stern that China would 'actively' participate in climate talks but only on the basis of a 'common but differentiated responsibility' to reduce emissions, according to a transcript of his comments published on the official Web site of China's State Council." ie - "Sell us your souls and, er, hey, how does 'zilch' sound as a reasonable trade-off?"

All this is, of course, absolutely disastrous news for the environmentalist extremists who play such a large and terrifying role in the Obama administration. But for anyone in the West, in the US especially, who cares about liberty, the state of the economy, or the free citizen's inalienable right not to have his every hard-earned cent sucked into the gaping maw of eco tax and eco regulation in order to solve a problem that doesn't even exist, China's hard-headed realism may well be our only hope of salvation.


Plan to Combat Global Warming? Pie in the Sky

by Jonah Goldberg

Whenever you hear a politician start a sentence with, "If we can put a man on the moon ... ," grab your wallet. For years, Democrats, enthralled by the cargo cult of the Kennedy presidency, have used the moon landing as proof that no big government ambition is beyond our reach. The latest example of anthropogenic-lunar empowerment is global warming. Al Gore and Barack Obama routinely cite the Apollo program as proof that we can make good on the president's messianic campaign pledge to stem the rising ocean tides and hasten the healing of the planet.

The problem with the "if we can put a man on the moon, we can certainly spend trillions on this or that" formulation is that it sees political and scientific accomplishments as interchangeable. The moon landing was a daunting but nonetheless discrete challenge. Throw in enough brainiacs and blank checks -- and heroes willing to risk their lives -- and it was almost foreordained that someone would make that small step for man and that giant leap for mankind.

But politicians see things through a political lens -- every great accomplishment looks like a political accomplishment. Kennedy cultists seem to think that JFK's pledge succeeded in part because he was eloquent and inspiring and popular. No doubt all that helped. But if Kennedy had promised that by the end of the decade America would have a fully functioning perpetual motion machine, his grand challenge would be remembered as a joke.

Recall that Kennedy's successor, with far more political capital than Kennedy had, promised to defeat poverty. Historian Steven Hayward notes that in 1966, Lyndon Johnson's commander in the War on Poverty, Sargent Shriver, told Congress that the White House believed poverty in America would be eliminated within 10 years. "Why," Hayward wryly asks, "should social science be more difficult than rocket science?"

I don't know that one is more difficult than the other, but I do know that they are not interchangeable. Physics is good at figuring out how to split atoms. Sociology, not so much.

Obama seems to be on both sides of the lesson. The president says he wants to invest massively in scientific research, eventually spending 3 percent of gross domestic product on scientific R&D, with a big chunk devoted to energy research. Who knows? That might work. But at the same time, the Democrats are pushing their cap-and-trade scheme -- the Waxman-Markey climate bill -- through Congress, and it surely won't work.

The Apollo engineers' motto was "Waste anything but time." Waxman-Markey seems to do that one better, promising to waste everything, including time. It's a legislative blunderbuss that fails any remotely honest cost-benefit analysis, as Jim Manzi painstakingly demonstrates in the current issue of National Review. Under the bill, the government would sell or give away waivers -- call them ration cards -- for carbon emissions, worth tens of billions of dollars. The system is destined to become politicized. Waivers will be granted to favored industries and donors in states with political clout.

If everything worked exactly according to plan, it would cost the economy trillions of dollars over the coming decades. Meanwhile, climatologist Chip Knappenberger -- administrator of the World Climate Report, an avowedly global-warming-skeptical blog -- uses standard climate models to show that the payoff would be to reduce global temperatures by about 0.1 degree Celsius by 2100. Sponsors of the legislation haven't offered a competing analysis.

"The costs would be more than 10 times the benefits," writes Manzi, "even under extremely unrealistic assumptions of low costs and high benefits." All the while, China, India and other countries are simply scoffing at the suggestion they curtail their carbon emissions.

Now, I am more skeptical about the threat of global warming than Manzi is, never mind the Al Gore chorus. But let us assume the chorus is right and it is the moral equivalent of a war for our very survival as a civilization. The question remains: Why? Why this approach? Why see global warming as an excuse to expand government regulation and taxation rather than invest in problem-solving?

The U.S. government could spend trillions on research into scrubbing carbon from the air, bioengineering organisms to eat greenhouse gases or crafting substances to reflect more heat back into space. We could establish prizes for development of long-life batteries or clean coal technologies. And if any of these investments paid off, decades from now the benefits would still dwarf Waxman-Markey at a fraction of the cost. It hardly takes a rocket scientist to see that.


The EPA’s protection racket

The Environmental Protection Agency is making “significant strides” on issues such as “protecting children’s health” and “confronting climate change,” says a memo from EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson. Not surprisingly, the agency has requested a 37 percent budget increase for fiscal year 2010.

Politically speaking, the new Obama EPA may indeed be making some strides. But what concrete public-health benefits can Jackson — or any EPA administrator — realistically claim to have achieved?

The EPA’s public-health mission is misleading, because it is charged with addressing risks that are too small to measure or be regulated away. The agency’s current risk-assessment practices compound the problem, harming both public health and our economic well-being. The agency issues extremely high benefit estimates for its regulations. But these estimates are out of touch with reality.

For example, the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) reported in 2004 that over a ten-year period, most of the benefits from significant federal regulations resulted from just four EPA Clean Air Act rules. The OIRA noted that the uncertainty related to EPA estimates was “large.” A better description would be to say that the estimates are “highly implausible.”

Retired scientist Michael Gough, formerly with the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, has demonstrated that the total number of cancers that the EPA could feasibly regulate away is small. Gough came to this result by analyzing the data found in Sir Richard Doll and Richard Peto’s landmark 1981 study on the causes of cancer, along with risks estimates in the 1989 EPA study Reducing Risk.

Reducing Risk was an internal EPA research project designed to assess whether the agency was on the right track. It determined that the EPA had set the wrong priorities, devoting substantial resources to low-tier risks. This report remains relevant today, as do Gough’s findings.

Using data from Reducing Risk and the Doll-Peto study, Gough found that no more than 3 percent of all cancers can be associated with environmental pollution. “If the EPA risk assessment techniques are accurate,” he wrote, “and all identified carcinogens amenable to EPA regulations were completely controlled,” which is impossible, “about 6,400 cancer deaths annually (about 1.3% of the current annual total of 435,000 cancer deaths) would be prevented. When cancer risks are estimated using a method like that employed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the number of regulatable cancers is smaller, about 1,400 (about 0.25%).”

It is worth emphasizing that the widely accepted Doll-Peto study shows that the overwhelming majority of cancers result from sources outside EPA control. That is why the World Health Organization has suggested in its World Cancer Report (2003) that cancer-prevention efforts should focus on three factors: tobacco use, diet, and infections — which together, the WHO notes, account for 75 percent of all cancer cases worldwide.

The EPA’s mission involves spending considerable amounts of tax dollars to regulate risks that are in most cases too insignificant to be scientifically demonstrated. The agency has compounded this problem by employing highly questionable scientific assumptions when assessing risks — such as emphasizing high-dose rodent studies.

The environmentalists like animal tests and the uncertainty of their results. These studies give the EPA an excuse to rely on the precautionary principle — the notion that, without full knowledge of the risks, it is “better to be safe than sorry,” and thus better to regulate even more tightly.

Reliance on animal studies also allows regulators to choose from a wide range of animals when extrapolating to humans. A certain chemical doesn’t cause cancer in rats? Try it on mice. Or monkeys. Then say that humans are just like whichever animal eventually got cancer after being given a very high dose — and add that humans (particularly children) may be even more sensitive. Regulations end up having layer after layer of extra precaution.

No wonder activists feigned outrage when the EPA considered a study to assess the effects of common household chemicals and pesticides on toddlers. The study wouldn’t have exposed kids to additional chemicals — only observed kids whose families already used existing, EPA-approved products sold on the market. The National Academy of Sciences approved the ethics of such an approach, but activists quashed it — knowing that the EPA would be left relying on vaguer animal studies when crafting regulations.

Further faulty studies and misguided regulations do more than hinder the economy. They also lead to bans on valuable products that otherwise could be saving lives, such as chemicals that fight disease-carrying insects, retard the spread of fires, and help grow healthy fruits and vegetables (one of the few dietary factors shown to combat cancer).

Ironically, contracting the EPA’s budget would do more for public health than increasing it. Congress should keep this in mind. Until the EPA refocuses its scientific assumptions to target genuine risk, lawmakers should not boost its funding.



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


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Monckton explains

`Global warming', painting your roof white, and the Chattanooga Chu-Chu. A science-based answer by The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley to a science-based question from Rush Limbaugh. Chu's `Texas Longhorn' (A point here, a point there, and a whole lotta bull in between.)

Steven Chu, entertainingly described as an "Energy Secretary", says we can Save The Planet from "global warming" by painting our rooftops and roads white. He says making roofs and roads paler would have the same effect as taking every automobile in the world off the road for 11 years. The Limbaugh Question Rush Limbaugh, entertainingly as always, but pointedly, asks:

"Now, would somebody explain to me how he knows this? . If we can do something that will effectively remove the carbon emissions of every car on the road for 11 years, then why are we doing anything else? Why are we doing cap and trade? Why are we getting rid of SUVs? . How much paint is this going to take, by the way? How much of a footprint does paint manufacturing leave? I need a scientist to answer this for me. I understand how clouds at altitude can help reflect the heat, but I want to know where does that reflected heat go? Are we being told here that reflected heat is not damaging at all, but direct heat is? It seems to me that, if we had `global warming', wouldn't we want dark roofs to absorb the heat?"

His Lordship's Elegant Answer:

Steven Chu, like the Chattanooga locomotive whose name he proudly bears, is all steamed up about nothing, exists in a previous century, goes slowly and pointlessly backwards and forwards over the same ground, pulls a lot of fellow-travellers along with him, makes scary hooting and howling noises from time to time, keeps on missing points, is invariably late, and needs massive Federal subsidies to keep the whole show on the rails until his gravy-train hits the sand-trap.

Rush Limbaugh is really asking three questions: Does the Chu-Chu's science make the grade, or is he off track? Does his proposal make any more economic sense than your average steam railroad? Is "global warming" a global crisis rather than a signal failure of prediction? I'm happy to answer all three questions. No, No, and No. Let's do the science one first.

The Sexual Life of Heteroatomic Molecules: When radiant energy such as sunlight meets a planetary surface, one of three things happen. The surface transmits the energy to a body with which it is in intimate contact, or it reflects the energy as though it were a mirror, or it simultaneously absorbs and emits the energy. Transmission doesn't really come into it much at this stage, so reflection and absorption/emission are what we're talking about. "Global warming" happens, so the theory goes, because, though the Earth's atmosphere is more or less transparent to short-wave radiant energy (ultra-violet and visible light), that accounts for about half of all incoming solar radiation, it is not transparent to long-wave (infrared) radiant energy, that accounts for the other half.

The long-wave half of the incoming solar radiation interacts with what scientists call "heteroatomic" molecules and socialists call "greenhouse gases". The long-wave half of the incoming solar radiation interacts with what scientists call "heteroatomic" molecules and socialists call "greenhouse gases". Roughly speaking, these are red-blooded gaseous molecules made up of three or more atoms. They like to interact with long-wave radiation. Water is the commonest and therefore the most important heteroatomic gas. Each water molecule has two hydrogen atoms combined with one oxygen atom.

Carbon dioxide, though there is very little of it in the atmosphere, is the next most important heteroatomic gas. Each carbon dioxide molecule has two oxygen atoms combined with one carbon atom. Short-wave radiation does not get intimate with heteroatomic molecules. It disdainfully ignores them. But those sexy little photons of long-wave radiation like to interact with heteroatomic molecules and have a good time, setting up what is known as a "quantum resonance" that generates heat.

This is where "global warming" comes from. About one-third of the incoming short-wave radiation that passes through the atmosphere hits the Earth's surface, bounces off, and is reflected straight back up through the atmosphere and, harmlessly, into space. It doesn't warm the atmosphere because, on the whole, short-wave radiation is far too grand to say hello to the heteroatomic molecules it meets. It cuts them dead and goes on about its business. No warming results.

However, two-thirds of the short-wave radiation that reaches the Earth's surface is simultaneously absorbed and emitted by the surface in obedience to Kirchhoff's radiative-transfer law. But, in the process, the temperature at the Earth's surface changes the incoming short-wave radiation into outgoing long-wave radiation. This is called "displacement" - like being kicked out of bed.

And the long-wave radiation, unlike its short-wave cousins, isn't stand-offish at all. It's happy to say a warm Howdy-doody to any heteroatomic molecule it meets. What's more, heteroatomic molecules have the hots for long-wave radiation. So warming results from their meetings with it.

The Chu-Chu's notion is that painting some of the Earth's surface white will increase what scientists call its "albedo". Just as some gentlemen prefer blondes and some prefer brunettes, each type of heteroatomic molecule resonates with particular wavelengths of long-wave radiation. And carbon dioxide resonates with wavelengths in the near-infrared. The average temperature of the Earth is around 59 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 288 degrees Kelvin. Wien's displacement law dictates that it is solely the temperature of the absorbing/emitting surface that determines the peak wavelength of the resultant outgoing radiation.

As a rule of thumb, the peak wavelength, measured in microns, or very tiny fractions of an inch, will be 2897 divided by the temperature (in degrees Kelvin) of the absorbing/emitting surface. This means that, regardless of whether the incoming solar radiation that meets the Earth's surface is long-wave or short-wave, friendly or stand-offish, the peak wavelength of the outgoing long-wave radiation from the Earth's surface will be around 10 microns. And that's in the near-infrared, just about where it's very likely to meet some very friendly carbon dioxide molecules.

That's enough molecular sex. Enter the Chu-Chu The Chu-Chu's notion is that painting some of the Earth's surface white will increase what scientists call its "albedo". And, for all those energetic photons, albedo is the opposite of libido. It's a turn-off, big-time. The Earth's albedo is the fraction of all incoming solar radiation that will be reflected straight back into space, so that none of those photons gets to date any of the heteroatomic molecules. No dating, no warming. The Chu-Chu hopes, in a Puritanical sort of way, that if he can increase the Earth's albedo he'll reduce the photons' libido, so that fewer of them get to interact socially with the heteroatomic molecules they meet on their way back out into space, and less "global warming" will happen.

Or, to put it another way, he hopes that he and his mates can get huge Federal subsidies to study the idea before anyone notices that it's what polite scientists call "hogwash".

Is he wrong or is he wrong? Will painting the town white be a cool thing to do? Scientists answer questions like this by doing a little math. As we'll see, it's a pity the Chu-Chu didn't get his taxpayer-funded abacus out before tooting his whistle. Here's the math he didn't bother to do. It's not difficult, and - unlike most math - it's kinda fun, particularly when you see the answer. How much warming, in Fahrenheit degrees, will we prevent with the Chu-Chu's cunning plan?

About 75% of the Earth is covered in water or ice. Not even the Chu-Chu can paint water, though he probably thinks that with enough taxpayer subsidy he can walk on it. And there's no need to paint ice because it's white already. That leaves 25% of the surface. Let's cautiously assume that 2% of the land is covered in roads or buildings with roofs: 2% of 25% is 0.5% of the Earth's surface. That's how much of it we have to paint. All that roof-painting will reduce global warming by one-fifth of a Fahrenheit degree. If that.

About 40% of the atmosphere is covered in clouds. They're white too, so they already reflect a lot of those glamor-puss photons right back into space where they came from. Then we have to allow for the fact that most buildings and roads are not in the tropics, where most of the sunlight comes in. We also have to allow for the fact that white paint is not a perfect reflector. And up to 30% of the land surface of the Earth is covered in snow for up to six months of the year. These factors bring us down to the equivalent of just 0.2% of the "global warming" at the Earth's surface. Maybe.

Then we have to divide that by 2, because half of the incoming radiation from the Sun is long-wave already, and - however much white paint we throw around - it gets all up close and personal with those hunky heteroatomic molecules on the way in from space. So, if we paint every road and every roof whiter than white, we'll send just 0.1% more of those curvaceous photons straight back into space, where they came from. Don't you love it when big government thinks big? At your expense, of course.

How much warming, in Fahrenheit degrees, will we prevent with the Chu-Chu's cunning plan? For this, we need a little math. Increasing the Earth's albedo (and reducing its libido) by 0.1% would cut the average amount of solar radiation in the atmosphere from 236 to 235.6 Watts per square meter, which translates to a global cooling of just o.2 Fahrenheit degrees.

Let's pretend that the UN's climate panel is right in assuming that "global warming" caused by humans is going to warm the world by 7 Fahrenheit degrees this century. Actually, it will probably be more like 1 Fahrenheit degree, but let's clamber aboard the Chu-Chu's bandwagon even as the wheels are noisily falling off. Seven Fahrenheit it is, then. All that roof-painting will reduce global warming by one-fifth of a Fahrenheit degree. If that. The world's temperature monitoring stations won't even be able to measure it. And, even after we've painted everything we can, we still have another six and four-fifths Fahrenheit degrees to go.

And at what cost? That's the question that gravy-train drivers like the Chu-Chu never bother to ask, because - just like Amtrak - they'll be passing the check right along the line to the taxpayer. That's you and me, and I So, Mr. Taxpayer, it's going to cost you $17 trillion to reduce global temperature by just 0.2 Fahrenheit degrees. Chu-Chu only made up that story to keep the dead horse of "global warming" in the news for another few months, in the hope that the hated nations of the free West can be hornswoggled into giving up their independence to a new world government.


Earth's Incredible Dissolving Corals

In a paper recently published in Geophysical Research Letters, Silverman et al. (2009) created a model of coral calcification based on field observations of gross community (SST) and live coral cover, after which they calculated calcification rates for more than 9,000 reef locations using model values concentrations, which exercise led them to conclude that "by the time atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 will reach 560 ppm, all coral reefs will cease to grow and start to dissolve."

What's wrong with this picture? For starters - and as actually acknowledged by the researchers themselves - "coral reefs were exposed throughout their geological history to higher temperatures and CO2 levels than at present and yet have persisted," which is a pretty amazing admission for them to make, in light of the fact that they have boldly declared that when the atmosphere's CO2 concentration reaches 560 ppm in the not too distant future, "all coral reefs will cease to grow and start to dissolve."

So how did the five modelers get things so wrong? ... as we clearly believe they did. For one thing, they say their calculations "are based on the assumption that an increase of 1øC in the maximum summer monthly average SST [relative to pre-Industrial Revolution or PIR values] will result in bleaching that will reduce the live coral cover [of a reef] by 50%."

This means that if a reef's live coral coverage parameter (AC, which can vary from 1.0 to 0.0) was initially 0.5, it will decline to 0.25, as they describe it, "when monthly average model SST increases by >=1øC above the temperature of the warmest month during PIR," and that "a further decrease of AC to 0.125 is invoked by the model on the next encounter with >=1øC SST increase," so that the reef's live coral coverage gradually dwindles away to next to nothing over the course of subsequent SST spikes.

Fortunately, real-world corals do not behave in this manner. They almost always recover from bleaching episodes, and they come back even better prepared for the next bleaching, so that equally severe - or even more severe - high temperature anomalies often have less of a negative effect on them than prior heat waves had; and this phenomenon enables earth's corals to indefinitely maintain - and possibly even expand -their undersea structures, which end result is just the opposite of what Silverman et al. assume in their model.

In describing the work of Adjeroud et al. (2002), for example, Adjeroud et al. (2005) reported that an interannual survey of reef communities at Tiahura on the French Polynesian island of Moorea "showed that the mortality of coral colonies following a and yet have bleaching event was decreasing with successive events, even if the latter have the same intensity."

Commenting on these and the similar observations of others, the seven French scientists additionally noted that the "spatial and temporal variability of the impacts observed at several scales during the present and previous surveys may reflect an acclimation and/or adaptation of local populations," such that "coral colonies and/or their endosymbiotic zooxanthellae may be phenotypically and possibly genotypically resistant to bleaching events," citing the work of Rowan et al. (1997), Hoegh-Guldberg (1999), Kinzie et al. (2001) and Coles and Brown (2003) in support of this conclusion.

Still other researchers have also confirmed the phenomenon of thermal adaptation in coral reefs. Guzman and Cortes (2007), for example, studied coral reefs of the eastern Pacific Ocean that had "suffered unprecedented mass mortality at a regional scale as a consequence of the anomalous sea warming during the 1982-1983 El Nino." At Cocos Island, in particular, they found in a survey of three representative reefs (which they conducted in 1987) that the remaining live coral cover was only 3% of what it had been prior to the occurrence of the great 1982-1983 El Nino (Guzman and Cortes, 1992); and based on this finding and the similar observations of other scientists at other reefs, they predicted that "the recovery of the reefs' framework would take centuries, and recovery of live coral cover, decades."

Just 15 years later, however, they found that the mean live coral cover had increased nearly five-fold - from 2.99% in 1987 to 14.87% in 2002 - at the three sites studied during both periods, while the mean live coral cover of all five sites studied in 2002 was 22.7%. In addition, they found that "most new recruits and adults belonged to the main reef building species from pre-1982 ENSO, Porites lobata, suggesting that a disturbance as outstanding as [the 1982-1983] El Nino was not sufficient to change the role or composition of the dominant species."

The most interesting aspect of the study, however, was the fact that a second major El Nino occurred between the two assessment periods; and Guzman and Cortes state that "the 1997-1998 warming event around Cocos Island was more intense than all previous El Nino events," noting that temperature anomalies "above 2øC lasted 4 months in 1997-1998 compared to 1 month in 1982-83." Nevertheless, they determined that "the coral communities suffered a lower and more selective mortality in 1997-1998, as was also observed in other areas of the eastern Pacific (Glynn et al., 2001; Cortes and Jimenez, 2003; Zapata and Vargas-Angel, 2003)," which finding is indicative of a significant thermal adaptation following the 1982-83 El Nino.

Researchers One year later, in a paper published in Marine Biology, Maynard et al. (2008) described how they analyzed bleaching severity in three coral genera (Acropora, Pocillopora and Porites) via underwater video surveys of five sites in the central section of Australia's Great Barrier Reef in late February and March of 1998 and 2002, while contemporary sea surface temperatures were acquired from satellite-based Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer data that were calibrated to ship- and drift buoy-obtained measurements, and surface irradiance data were obtained "using an approach modified from that of Pinker and Laszlo (1991)."

With respect to temperature, the four researchers report that "the amount of accumulated thermal stress (as degree heating days) in 2002 was more than double that in 1998 at four of the five sites," and that "average surface irradiance during the 2002 thermal anomaly was 15.6-18.9% higher than during the 1998 anomaly." Nevertheless, they too found that "in 2002, bleaching severity was 30-100% lower than predicted from the relationship between severity and thermal stress in 1998, despite higher solar irradiances during the 2002 thermal event." In addition, they found that the coral genera that were originally most susceptible to thermal stress (Pocillopora and Acropora) "showed the greatest increase in tolerance."

In discussing their findings, Maynard et al. said they were "consistent with previous studies documenting an increase in thermal tolerance between bleaching events (1982-1983 vs. 1997-1998) in the Galapagos Islands (Podesta and Glynn, 2001), the Gulf of Chiriqi, the Gulf of Panama (Glynn et al., 2001), and on Costa Rican reefs (Jimenez et al., 2001)," and they noted that Dunne and Brown (2001) found similar results in the Andaman Sea, in that "bleaching severity was far reduced in 1998 compared to 1995 despite sea-temperature and light conditions being more conducive to widespread bleaching in 1998."

As for the significance of these and other observations, the Australian scientists stated that "the range in bleaching tolerances among corals inhabiting different thermal realms suggests that at least some coral symbioses have the ability to adapt to much higher temperatures than they currently experience in the central Great Barrier Reef," citing the work of Coles and Brown (2003) and Riegl (1999, 2002). In addition, they stated that "even within reefs there is a significant variability in bleaching susceptibility for many species (Edmunds, 1994; Marshall and Baird, 2000), suggesting some potential for a shift in thermal tolerance based on selective mortality (Glynn et al., 2001; Jimenez et al., 2001) and local population growth alone." Hence, they concluded their results suggested "a capacity for acclimatization or adaptation."


Correcting Krugman on climate

In a previous article, I argued that Paul Krugman's recent articles in support of government efforts to mitigate climate change — and in particular the Waxman-Markey legislation pending in Congress — were typically misleading. Specifically, Krugman's estimate that "serious" efforts to fight climate change would cost only 2 percent of GDP by the year 2050 was much lower than what the IPCC "consensus" itself said about aggressive measures like Waxman-Markey, and in any event these estimates all assumed that politicians worldwide implement the policies in textbook fashion.

In the present article I wish to continue my criticism of Krugman's writings in support of Waxman-Markey. We will see that even on mainstream, neoclassical economic terms, Waxman-Markey fails a cost/benefit test by a huge margin. It's not even close.

Krugman Trick to Downplay Costs Would Also Minimize Benefits

In a passage intended to show just how cheap even aggressive climate action can be, Krugman writes, Consumers would end up poorer than they would have been without a climate-change policy. But how much poorer? Not much, say careful researchers, like those at the Environmental Protection Agency or the Emissions Prediction and Policy Analysis Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Even with stringent limits, says the M.I.T. group, Americans would consume only 2 percent less in 2050 than they would have in the absence of emission limits. That would still leave room for a large rise in the standard of living, shaving only one-twentieth of a percentage point off the average annual growth rate.

Elsewhere I have written about this neat little trick of translating a fairly large impact into an apparently negligible amount, by switching from the level of the impact into a reduced rate of annual growth. After all, two percent of global output in 2050 is a fantastic amount of income. To give a ballpark, in 2007, using the "purchasing power parity" approach, global GDP was about $66 trillion.

So if we conservatively assume that real global GDP (and yes we're ignoring all of the Austrian critiques about such a concept) grows at 3.5 percent annually, then MIT's estimate of the cost of fighting climate change works out to $5.8 trillion in the year 2050 alone. In other words, we're not talking about a one-shot cost here; we're saying the annual cost in the year 2050 will be $5.8 trillion (in 2007 US dollars). Somehow I think that if Dick Cheney suggested that fighting the global war on terror would "only" cost 2 percent of world output by 2050, Paul Krugman might raise more of a fuss.

In any event, Krugman's column seems rather one-sided, doesn't it? After all, when trying to decide if a particular policy makes economic sense, the standard mainstream thing to do is check whether the costs are lower than the benefits. And yet, the modeled benefits of fighting climate change aren't mentioned anywhere in Krugman's column. It is simply taken for granted that the US government must do something — and quick! As Krugman says in another column (again without pointing to any specific evidence), "It's time to save the planet."

Yet this is rather noneconomist talk, isn't it? It sounds a bit like saying, "Teachers should get a huge pay raise, because education is very important."

Yes, if the planet itself were in jeopardy, then just about any forfeited economic output would be worth it, if it could avert that catastrophe.

But of course "the planet" isn't in danger. What people really mean by such language is that "the desirability of living on earth as judged by our descendants" is at risk. Well then, exactly what are the risks? And let's be scientific and objective about this, folks! No consulting fringe "deniers." I want to draw from the consensus of world experts, as codified in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).

Now things get really interesting, and we see why Krugman and other proponents of Waxman-Markey haven't been talking about the quantitative, net benefits of their plans. As Jim Manzi points out, according to middle-of-the-pack estimates of various dials (such as the level of global emissions without strict government controls, the sensitivity of the climate to these emissions, the vulnerability of future generations to warmer temperatures, etc.), the IPCC reports that the hit to global GDP would be between 1 and 5 percent, for 4 degrees Celsius of (additional) warming that would probably not occur until the 22nd century.

Yikes, up to a 5 percent loss in total global output — an inconvenient truth indeed! Oh wait, Krugman has shown us how to deal with such alarming numbers. If we just shave 0.05 percentage points off of global GDP growth — for example, if the world economy grows at 2.95 percent per year, rather than 3 percent — then, as Krugman has already demonstrated, global GDP in the year 2050 will be 2 percent lower than it otherwise would have been.

Now if we just let the simulation run until the year 2114, the gap between 3 percent growth and 2.95 percent growth will have grown exponentially into a 5-percentage-point difference.

What does all this mean? Quite simple: the differential in growth rates that Krugman considers quite negligible when weighing the costs of fighting climate change works just as well for the differential in growth rates that the IPCC middle-of-the-pack forecasts say the world would suffer under unrestricted emissions.

In other words, by Krugman's own criteria, the best-guess IPCC estimate of the benefits of fighting climate change are just as negligible as Krugman considers the MIT estimate of the costs of fighting climate change.

Mainstream Economic Models Would Never Justify Waxman-Markey

The more I have investigated these matters, the more shocked I become. One doesn't even need to rely on Austrian or public-choice arguments to show that Waxman-Markey is crazy.

For example, William Nordhaus is one of the pioneers in the field of climate-change economics, and he is no laissez-faire ideologue; Austrian readers may recognize Nordhaus as Samuelon's coauthor of a textbook that is sympathetic to "market failure," to say the least.

Yet according to Nordhaus's "DICE" model of the global climate and economy, if the whole world were to implement the stringent emissions caps (83% below 2005 levels by the year 2050) contained in Waxman-Markey, the net loss of the policy would be enormous.[1] It's true, such stringent limits would reduce the amount of climate damage future generations would suffer, but the harms imposed on the economy (because of the emission caps) would more than outweigh these benefits. Indeed, Nordhaus's model says that the present discounted value of these different impacts (i.e., slowing climate change but also slowing economic growth) is somewhere in the range of negative $14 trillion to negative $21 trillion, measured in 2005 US dollars. (I give more details of this derivation here.)


Paul Krugman is a very sharp guy, conversant in many different fields. Yet his analysis of the economics of climate change is as wrongheaded as his analysis of depressions. Relying just on the IPCC "consensus" estimates as well as a leading model such as Nordhaus's, it is impossible to justify the draconian emission cuts in Waxman-Markey.

Partisans on both sides of the debate concede that if the United States imposes unilateral emission cuts, there will be a negligible effect on global temperatures. But, ironically, if the whole world were to foolishly follow us down this path, one of the leading mainstream models projects that the globe would be many trillions of dollars poorer for it — and that figure includes the alleged benefits of mitigating harmful climate change.


Could cap and trade cause another market meltdown? A view from the Left

The same Wall Street players that upended the economy are clamoring to open up a massive market to swap, chop, and bundle carbon derivatives. Sound familiar?

You've heard of credit default swaps and subprime mortgages. Are carbon default swaps and subprime offsets next? If the Waxman-Markey climate bill is signed into law, it will generate, almost as an afterthought, a new market for carbon derivatives. That market will be vast, complicated, and dauntingly difficult to monitor. And if Washington doesn't get the rules right, it will be vulnerable to speculation and manipulation by the very same players who brought us the financial meltdown.

Cap and trade would create what Commodity Futures Trading commissioner Bart Chilton anticipates as a $2 trillion market, "the biggest of any [commodities] derivatives product in the next five years." That derivatives market will be based on two main instruments. First, there are the carbon allowance permits that form the nuts and bolts of any cap-and-trade scheme. Under cap and trade, the government would issue permits that allow companies to emit a certain amount of greenhouse gases. Companies that emit too much can buy allowances from companies that produce less than their limit. Then there are carbon offsets, which allow companies to emit greenhouse gases in excess of a federally mandated cap if they invest in a project that cuts emissions somewhere else—usually in developing countries. Polluters can pay Brazilian villagers to not cut down trees, for instance, or Filipino farmers to trap methane in pig manure.

In addition to trading the allowances and offsets themselves, participants in carbon markets can also deal in their derivatives—such as futures contracts to deliver a certain number of allowances at an agreed price and time. These instruments will be traded not only by polluters that need to buy credits to comply with environmental regulations, but also by financial services firms. In fact, a study (PDF) by Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions anticipates that if the United States passes a cap-and-trade law, the derivatives trade will probably exceed the market for the allowances themselves. "We are on the verge of creating a new trillion-dollar market in financial assets that will be securitized, derivatized, and speculated by Wall Street like the mortgage-backed securities market," says Robert Shapiro, a former undersecretary of commerce in the Clinton administration and a cofounder of the US Climate Task Force.

Banks like JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs already have active carbon trading desks that deal in instruments connected to Europe's cap-and-trade system and voluntary markets here. But business will explode if a cap-and-trade system becomes law. So it's no surprise that the financial industry has taken an intense interest in the fine print of the Waxman-Markey bill. According to data compiled by the Center for Public Integrity, the financial services industry has 130 lobbyists working on climate issues, compared to almost none in 2003. They represent companies like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and AIG (before it was shamed into temporarily halting its lobbying activities last fall). The industry "wants lawmakers to create a brand-new revenue stream for its bottom line, and cap and trade would do it," says Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen, who is a member of a Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) advisory committee considering how carbon trading should be regulated.

Among environmental groups, there is, understandably, less focus on the finer points of financial regulation. "The derivatives side is not something that a person who comes to the table worried about carbon emissions has on their agenda," says Michael Greenberger, a derivatives expert at the University of Maryland who has also served in the CFTC and the Justice Department. "Those people—and they're fighting a good battle—opened the door."

Already, the industry has achieved its main objective: The Waxman-Markey bill would create a big, convoluted market for carbon derivatives. Experts from the Congressional Budget Office have said that the most stable and effective form of cap and trade would involve a system in which the government periodically sets prices in much the same way that the Fed determines interest rates. That would prevent volatility, which would in turn remove the temptation to gamble on big price swings. In other words, it would provide far less opportunity for wheeling and dealing—and profits. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) offered a proposal for a managed-price cap-and-trade scheme, but failed to gain any traction. Meanwhile, industry groups like the International Swaps and Derivatives Association pushed for a system in which a "broad suite" of financial products can be traded, and that's what Waxman-Markey delivers.

In an especially audacious move, the industry also argued that cap and trade should allow the very same types of unregulated instruments that helped spread risk throughout the financial system like a cancer, contributing to the economic meltdown. In particular, it lobbied for "over the counter" carbon derivatives—deals conducted directly between two parties with no one monitoring the risk. (Perhaps the most notorious form of OTC derivative is the credit default swap, which crippled AIG when it issued too many high-risk swaps while lacking the money to cover them.)

On this front, however, Wall Street was less successful. The day before the bill passed out of committee, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) inserted language requiring all allowance derivatives to be either traded on an exchange or cleared by an organization registered with the CFTC. This would provide a paper trail for regulators, although the reporting requirements for clearinghouses are less stringent than those for public exchanges. Stupak also added limits to prevent speculators from cornering too much of the market. Still, the bill leaves many vital specifics to the White House, directing the president to form a task force to determine precisely how to avoid "fraud, market manipulation and excess speculation." Andy Stevenson, finance adviser at the National Resources Defense Council, says, "I would feel comfortable if much more of it were explicit." He applauds the bill's "spirit" but cautions that "the details are important."



A strong showing by pro-industry Conservatives in elections to the European Parliament could make it hard for Green parties to capitalise on their own gains. Greens won 51 seats, up from 43, as the European Union's parliament prepares to debate a swathe of new laws in the next year to curb greenhouse gas emissions. A stronger Green voice could also help Europe maintain its influence in global climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December.

But the ecologists will have to compete with a powerful conservative grouping. The centre-right European People's Party (EPP), which will have 267 out of 736 seats, proved a formidable force last year in watering down climate legislation in favour of industry. The EPP won 36.3 percent of the seats in the assembly, little changed from 36.7 percent previously, but gained influence as its main Socialist rivals fell further behind.

"The Greens are stronger, but the centre-right is stronger too," said Cecile Kerebel at French think tank Ifri. "The centre-right parties do not have the most forward-looking policies for the climate and energy and think more about protecting their own industries," she added.

Governing centre-right groups won in Germany, France, Poland and Italy, and Green parties did well on a bad night for Socialists, who failed to cash in on widespread discontent with Europe's handling of the global economic crisis.

Greens scored their biggest triumph in France, where they won about 16.3 percent of the votes, less than 1 percent behind the Socialists, whom they beat in Paris. "This should strengthen our hand," Philippe Lamberts, co-president of the European Green Party, told Reuters. "We made gains where we could articulate that the way out of the financial and economic crisis is through a Green new deal to stimulate the economy," he added.


Some analysts see the Greens' biggest challenge on climate policy coming from Germany, where the pro-business Free Democrat Party was the biggest winner, pointing to a possible alliance with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives after the autumn election. "This is not good for the climate agenda," said analyst Simon Tilford at Britain's Centre for European Reform. "Pro-business need not necessarily mean opposed to the climate agenda, but there is a concern about countries where members of the European Parliament have been more easily influenced by the industry lobby -- and that includes the German centre-right," he added.

German conservatives were particularly influential last year in watering down legislation to curb climate-warming gases from cars, which threatened the profits of big German automakers such as Mercedes and BMW. Their influence will be particularly important in the coming years as the EU gears up for a swathe of tough new rules to tackle surging emissions from road transport.

However, German support for industry could go hand in hand with some aspects of fighting climate change, said Susanne Droege at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. "If the conservatives take over, I see further support for industry policy that would favour the climate, as industry could sell those Green technologies all over the world," she said. "I also see a shift to nuclear policy, but that would undermine renewable energies," she added.

With their increased seat tally, Green parties are starting to reach a mass that could tip the balance in the parliament committees that help shape EU law, said Tony Long, director of the European policy office of environment group WWF. That is territory traditionally held by the Liberal alliance, which won 81 seats. "That's the game to play for," Long said. "But the Greens find it more difficult to do alliance-building than other parties. When you have principles, it's more difficult to cut deals."

Greenpeace European unit director Jorgo Riss also saw hard work ahead in building alliances beyond the traditional pro-climate camp of Greens, British Liberals and some Socialists. "The picture is getting more fragmented, and building big alliances will require more small groups," he said. "That'll take more work."


Climate insurance

By Lawrence Solomon

Before the Kyoto Treaty of 1997, before the Rio Conference of 1992, before the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's first report in 1990 or even its creation in 1988, even before the first ever World Climate Conference in 1979 expressed concern that "continued expansion of man's activities on Earth" may lead to climate change, the reinsurance industry spotted the potential that climate change had for its bottom line. (Reinsurers insure insurance companies.)

In determining the level of claims that insurers must pay out, man-made "climatic variations become most significant," explained Munich Re, one of the world's largest reinsurers in a 1973 publication, citing "the pollution of the Earth's atmosphere" by CO2.

"We wish to enlarge on this complex of problems in greater detail, especially as-- as far as we know-- [climate change's] conceivable impact on the long-range risk-trend has hardly been examined to date."

Since those early days, when manmade climate change was a virtually unknown theory, other far-sighted reinsurers, chiefly giant Swiss Re, have joined Munich Re in aggressively warning of climate-change dangers. In doing so, the reinsurers have been doing their duty in maximizing shareholder profit.

Fear of climate change, in fact, has been the biggest boon in insurance industry history. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the insurance industry has no interest in minimizing future risks to the public, in climate change or in any other field. To the contrary, the more that risks exist and the more that the insurance industry can charge to insure against those risks, the larger the potential market for insurance industry products.

The insurance industry's chief concerns are to minimize the risks to itself by determining the level of premiums that are commensurate with the risks -- this is the job of actuaries -- and to embellish the risks whenever it can, to drum up more business.

Nothing beats the drum better for the insurance business than the threat of looming catastrophe, and no threats have ever loomed larger than those from global warming -- in the public's mind, it is blamed for hurricanes, cyclones, flooding and other extreme weather events that represent many of the insurance industry's most profitable business sectors. Swiss Re capitalizes on these fears by citing climate change as one of the five biggest causes for increases in property damage.

Not only do global-warming threats extend to all regions of the world, but global warming especially plays well in the emerging countries of the Third World -- the focus for most predictions of catastrophe. This corresponds precisely with Swiss Re's marketing strategy: As concluded in a 2004 Swiss Re report entitled Exploiting the growth potential of emerging insurance markets -- China and India in the spotlight, "Emerging markets will be at the frontier of insurance in the 21st century."

Yet although the Third-World insurance market is the world's fastest growing, this potential remains largely untapped. "In many emerging markets, the costs of catastrophes are either uninsured or insufficiently insured," states Swiss Re in its recently published report, Natural catastrophes and manmade disasters in 2008. "As a result, individuals and companies are vulnerable, and tend to be overly dependent on government or other international organizations for aid."

Swiss Re laments the lack of awareness of the risks the Chinese run without insurance. "Between 1980 and 2008, Shenzen's population grew from 300,000 to roughly 12 million. Given the history of powerful tropical cyclones hitting the South China Sea coast, the potential impact of this rapid growth on both insured and uninsured losses is enormous. [Swiss Re estimates show that] the total loss potential in China is enormous and that there is a strong need to develop insurance. Today, a [major catastrophe] would leave the vast majority of the losses uninsured. China serves only as an example. The situation in many other Asian emerging markets does not differ substantially from that of China."

To raise awareness in China and the rest of the developing world, Swiss Re works with China and other Third-World governments to impress on them the future risks that they face from climate change. It sponsors international climate-change conferences that help shape the agenda for scientific discussions. And it works with the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, where it is an official expert reviewer. These efforts at raising global awareness of climate change have been productive beyond compare. When the press reports the IPCC conclusions about the catastrophes to come, for example, it is reflecting, in part, an IPCC document influenced by the reinsurance industry.

The centrality of the reinsurance industry in the climate-change debate can also be seen in its close relationships over two decades with major environmental organizations, Greenpeace among them. Prominent U. K. environmentalist Fred Pearce, in a New Scientist article published on the eve of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, lauded Greenpeace for having "shown the way" by engaging the insurance companies in the international climate-change negotiations, and achieving a "coup" by persuading the companies to speak out. In Greenpeace's own account of its relationship with the reinsurers, published in Greenpeace & The Financial Sector --The Possibility Of Profitable Relationships Between Not-For-Profits And For-Profits, it documents its role in enlisting the aid of the reinsurers as lobbyists in aid of greenhouse-gas reforms.

In Greenpeace's mind, the multi-trillion-dollar insurance industry may have been decisive in tipping governments to supporting climate-change legislation, and in this Greenpeace may well be right. Greenpeace may also be right in noting where the reinsurers most often chose to air their views: "in forums provided by Greenpeace, rather than one organized by government actors or international economic agencies."

That Greenpeace orchestrated the reinsurers' conversion into public advocates for climate change reform, however, is a delusion. The reinsurance industry, then as now, had an interest in extreme weather events and it knew where its interest lay -- if CO2 did exacerbate climate, the reinsurers would have had a financial incentive to pump more of it into the atmosphere. Whether or not CO2 exacerbates climate catastrophes, the reinsurers have an incentive to make us believe that it does, and with many of us they have succeeded.



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


Tuesday, June 09, 2009


On March 3, The New York Times Magazine created a major flap in the climate-change community by running a cover story on the theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson that focused largely on his views of human-induced global warming.

Basically, he doesn't buy it. The climate models used to forecast what will happen as we continue to pump CO2 into the atmosphere are unreliable, Dyson claims, and so, therefore, are the projections. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, his first since the Times article appeared, Dyson contends that since carbon dioxide is good for plants, a warmer planet could be a very good thing. And if CO2 does get to be a problem, Dyson believes we can just do some genetic engineering to create a new species of super-tree that can suck up the excess.

These sorts of arguments are advanced routinely by climate-change skeptics, and dismissed just as routinely by those who work in the field as clueless at best and deliberately misleading at worst. Dyson is harder to dismiss, though, in part because of his brilliance. He's on the faculty at the Institute for Advanced Study, where as a young physicist he hobnobbed with Albert Einstein. When Julian Schwinger, Sin-Itiro Tomonaga and Richard Feynman shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in physics for quantum electrodynamics, Dyson was widely acknowledged to be almost equally deserving - but the Nobel Committee only gives out three prizes for a given discovery.

Nevertheless, large numbers of climate modelers and others who actually work on climate change - as Dyson does not - rolled their collective eyes at assertions they consider appallingly ill-informed. In his interview with Yale Environment 360, Dyson also makes numerous assertions of fact - from his claim that warming today is largely confined to the Arctic to his contention that human activities are not primarily responsible for rising global temperatures - that climate scientists say are flat-out wrong.

Many climate scientists were especially distressed that the Times gave his views such prominence. Even worse, when the profile's author, Nicholas Dawidoff, was asked on NPR's "On The Media" whether it mattered if Dyson was right or wrong in his views, Dawidoff answered, "Oh, absolutely not. I don't care what he thinks. I have no investment in what he thinks. I'm just interested in how he thinks and the depth and the singularity of his point of view."

This is, to put it bluntly, bizarre. It matters a great deal whether he's right or wrong, given that his views have been trumpeted in such a prominent forum with essentially no challenge. So I visited Dyson in his Princeton office in May to probe a little deeper into his views on climate change. [...]

e360: Do you mind being thrust in the limelight of talking about this when it is not your main interest. You've suddenly become the poster child for global warming skepticism.

Dyson: Yes, it is definitely a tactical mistake to use somebody like me for that job, because I am so easily shot down. I'd much rather the job would be done by somebody who is young and a real expert. But unfortunately, those people don't come forward.

e360: Are there people who are knowledgeable about this topic who could do the job of pointing out what you see as the flaws?

Dyson: I am sure there are. But I don't know who they are.

I have a lot of friends who think the same way I do. But I am sorry to say that most of them are old, and most of them are not experts. My views are very widely shared.

Anyway, the ideal protagonist I am still looking for. So the answer to your question is, I will do the job if nobody else shows up, but I regard it as a duty rather than as a pleasure.

e360: Because it is important for you that people not take drastic actions about a problem that you are not convinced exists?

Dyson: Yes. And I feel very strongly that China and India getting rich is the most important thing that's going on in the world at present. That's a real revolution, that the center of gravity of the whole population of the world would be middle class, and that's a wonderful thing to happen. It would be a shame if we persuade them to stop that just for the sake of a problem that's not that serious.

And I'm happy every time I see that the Chinese and Indians make a strong statement about going ahead with burning coal. Because that's what it really depends on, is coal. They can't do without coal. We could, but they certainly can't.

So I think it is very important that they should not be under pressure. Luckily they are, in fact, pretty self-confident; (neither) of those countries pays too much attention to us.


UK: Government launches “kitchen bin war”

A Government campaign will see the end of confusing 'best before' labels, reduced packaging, and five new plants to convert waste into energy

An ambitious "War on Waste" campaign to tackle Britain's mountains of food-based rubbish with a range of radical new measures is to be launched tomorrow. The programme will scrap "best before" labels on food [Thus creating a health risk], create new food packaging sizes, build more "on-the-go" recycling points and unveil five flagship anaerobic digestion plants, to harness the power of leftover food and pump energy back into the national grid. The government hopes that its plans will reduce the 100 million tons of waste the country produced last year, which included 20 million tons of food waste and 10.7 million tons of packaging waste.

On Tuesday, Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for the Environment, will announce plans to dispense with "best before" labels, in an attempt to reduce the estimated 370,000 tons of food that is thrown away despite being perfectly edible. The latest government research into food labelling showed that the British are very cautious when it comes to eating anything that has passed its "best before" date: 53 per cent of consumers never eat fruit or vegetables that has exceeded the date; 56 per cent would not eat bread or cake; and 21 per cent never even "take a risk" with food close to its date.

"One of the things we found in our research is that confusion over date labelling is one of the major reasons for throwing food away. Often people don't realise the difference between 'best before' and 'use by'," said Richard Swannell, director of retail and organics at Wrap, the Government waste watchdog. It is working with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and leading retailers to get rid of the "sell until", "display until" and "best before" tags, which confuse customers, causing them to throw away edible food.

"It is an issue that we want to address, but there has to be a balance, as we have to protect consumer safety," said an FSA spokesman. "Not eating out-of-date food is one of the simplest ways of preventing food poisoning."

Ahead of the launch, Mr Benn said: "It's time for a new war on waste. It's not just about recycling more – and we are making progress there – it's about rethinking the way we use resources in the first place. "We need to make better use of everything we produce, from food to packaging, and the plans I'm setting out over the next few days will help us to achieve that. We all have a part to play, from businesses and retailers to consumers."

The minister added: "Too many of us are putting things in the bin simply because we're not sure, we're confused by the label, or we're just playing safe. This means we're throwing away thousands of tons of food every year completely unnecessarily. I want to improve labels so that when we buy a loaf of bread or a packet of cold meat, we know exactly how long it's safe to eat."

On Tuesday, the Government will also unveil plans for dealing with packaging, including increased glass collection from pubs, clubs and restaurants, a huge expansion of "on-the-go" recycling points for aluminium cans, and new packaging sizes for supermarkets.

In addition to tackling food waste and packaging, the Government will reveal plans to use the waste we do produce as fuel. Tomorrow Mr Benn will announce the location of five new anaerobic digestion plants, built with the help of £10m in state funding. The facilities compost waste in the absence of oxygen, producing a biogas that can be used to generate electricity and heat. Mr Benn said: "We need to rethink the way we deal with waste – to see it as a resource, not a problem."

The UK produces 100 tons of organic waste a year. If processed anaerobically this would produce enough energy to power two million homes, or Birmingham five times over. Anaerobic digestion plants are widely used across Europe, and are already being used by high street retailers such as Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer to tackle their food waste.

Michael Warhurst, senior waste and resources campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "This should be happening across the country, instead of councils still putting money into building incinerators. They are the technology of the past – this is the future."


Svensmark theory to get more testing

The team from the CLOUD experiment - the world's first experiment using a high-energy particle accelerator to study the climate - were on cloud nine after the arrival of their new three-metre diameter cloud chamber. This marks the end of three years' R&D; and design, and the start of preparations for data taking later this year.

The CLOUD team will be able to recreate the conditions of any part of the atmosphere inside the new chamber, from the polar stratosphere to the low level tropics.

The link between cosmic rays and climate change is one that has been hotly debated over the past decade, grabbing the attention of the media. The idea revolves around the possibility that particles entering the atmosphere from space can affect cloud formation, which in turn affects the climate. But despite the controversy surrounding the theory, the central question - 'do cosmic rays help create clouds?' - has barely been tested in a laboratory before.

The CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets) experiment here at CERN will be one of the first experiments in the world directly to test the effect of cosmic rays on cloud formation under controllable laboratory conditions. The experiment's three-metre diameter aerosol/cloud chamber arrived on Wednesday 20 May. This crucial piece of the experiment will be used to recreate carefully various conditions in the atmosphere.



Does the `Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai' slogan still hold value at the climate negotiations? Or could the Sino-India leadership of the G77+China grouping come undone in the lead up to the crucial climate talks at Copenhagen by the end of 2009?

This concern has been nagging a powerful section of the Indian establishment ever since the ball began to roll towards a possible international deal in Copenhagen. But the doubts seem to have been put to rest with China taking a strong and unequivocal stance at the ongoing discussions at Bonn.

At the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations, G77+China makes up a formidable group and the India-China team is seen as the bulwark that holds the disparate team together in the face of diplomatic and economic onslaught from EU and other industrialized nations. Sticking together, the powerful block has been able to neutralize the economic influence of the rich countries with its moral position (`the rich were to blame for climate change not this collective of nations') and some of their own economic muscle flexing.

But in the past year, some senior Indian officials (though not directly involved in climate change negotiations) have been voicing concern and some news in the media from industrialized nations has been indicating that China may be ready to strike out on its own breaking the block. A fear had been expressed in the Indian quarters that a US-China deal on the side could break the G77, and as a consequence leave India to fend for itself.

But China's strong statements at the ongoing Bonn negotiations and its formal submissions just before have left no room for doubt that it is sticking to the demands that G77 nations have collectively made.

The collective has asked that rich nations make commitments to take deep cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions in the short run, that they transfer technology and funds to other countries under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) to help them reduce their emissions in the long run and adapt to inevitable changes that existing levels of emissions will cause.

At Bonn, China has admonished the clutch of industrialized nations for making unreasonable demands at the last moment. Indian officials attending the Bonn meet TOI that China had been more aggressive than usual in pillorying the rich nations for their stance. China has made several interventions during the negotiations demanding that the draft text for the new agreement adhere to the original convention -- which favours the G77 stance. It has demanded the industrialized country's block to "remedy the injustice" of eating more than their fair share of the atmospheric shape by taking a high level of targets for emission reductions in the short run.

While it is anyone's guess how the Copenhagen deal may shape out in the months to come, there is a belief in the opposition camp too that if G77 sticks together it would put immense pressure on US as well as EU to not only take notional emission cuts but also shell out funds that they are loath to do.

Indian delegates talking to TOI said that there was a strong sense at Bonn that with China in particular and G77 in general holding on to their guns, it could bargain for a more balanced agreement in Copenhagen.


Brrrrr. Too cold for ice cream!

The long winter of 2009 continues with unseasonable cold and snow continuing in many parts of the world. Below is a small sampling of articles on the June chill.

Record-low temp recorded in International Falls

Cool has pushed growth of Western Canada's wheat and barley crop at least 10 days behind schedule

Unseasonably-cool weather slows ice cream sales

Frost may force Brazil to cut this year's corn output forecast

It's June...so it must be snowing: Great British summer goes from sweltering to shivering in just a week

'Unusually cold spring continues' -- two more cold records set in N. Dakota

Isn't this June? Snow sticking around on Pikes Peak...'7 foot snowdrifts'

North Dakota city sees first June snowfall in 60 years

'Devastating freeze': Spring frost in Texas killed '99% of our peach crop this year'

Schoolchildren rescued from hiking trip as June snow and cold hits California

Freezes were noted this morning in parts of Montana

Prediction: Northwest Passage won't clear this year

Wyoming: Unseasonably cool temperatures brought a late spring snowstorm and freeze warnings

New record lows were again established in southern Alberta

Below normal temps bring frost damage to Michigan hayfields

Erie, PA: Temperature dips to record low of 40

Winnipeg likely 'to see a record low maximum temperature'

Parts of Canada forecast to get 4 to 8 inches...'set new record lows'

SOURCE (See the original for links)

China cracks the electric car problem

A Chinese firm says its four-seater battery car can cover 250 miles - a claim that appears to be almost feasible. It won't do much for the carbon-phobes though, as the electicity still has to be generated somewhere and battery-construction is very polluting

In the week that General Motors filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, ending a century of global dominance, the centre of gravity of the world’s car industry shifted perceptibly towards China. Here, some of the biggest strides in motor engineering are being made, including one shown to The Sunday Times on an industrial estate in Hangzhou, 90 miles southwest of Shanghai. This is where engineers for New Power have beaten western rivals to achieve what they claim is the first production-ready, all-electric car to offer a range comparable to petrol-powered vehicles.

For years, engineers in Europe, America and Japan have struggled to achieve the perfect balance: a battery that is small and light enough to fit in a family car, yet capable of storing enough energy to keep it going for a practical range between top-ups. The Reva G-Wiz, Britain’s bestselling electric vehicle, has a range of no more than 48 miles between charges; the Smart ED, on trial in the UK, beats it by only 14 miles; and although the electric Mini claims a range of 150 miles, it is only a two-seater (the huge battery taking up the back seat), and BMW has no plans to put it into production.

New Power, by contrast, claims to have developed an electric four-seater with a range of 250 miles and plans to bring it to the UK “within the next couple of years”. Known as the Zhong Tai (the name translates roughly as “peace and safety for the people”), it has lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged in 6-8 hours from a conventional socket, or in two hours from a high-power recharging point. With a top speed of 75mph and an estimated price tag of between £16,300 and £20,500 in Britain, the Zhong Tai could be both practical and affordable enough to make drivers part with their internal combustion engines for good.

The Sunday Times was the first western publication to put New Power’s claims to the test. On first impressions the Zhong Tai looked anything but remarkable. The car’s basic bodywork and chassis are based on a 2006 Daihatsu Terios, a compact 4x4, the licence for which was bought and adapted for Chinese production, originally as a petrol car. The electric version looks identical to a conventional Terios from the outside, with the recharging point where the petrol cap should be and only the absence of an exhaust pipe giving the game away.

The interior feels a little dated but that reflects how much standards of comfort have advanced in the past three years. The dashboard display flashed up speed, distance travelled and the percentage charge left in the batteries — 75% when we first stepped into the car.

At New Power’s spartan headquarters, Mao Zhong, the company’s general manager, outlined how his car could “solve the emissions problems” plaguing both China — where the number of cars is predicted to hit 150m by 2020 — and the rest of the world. On paper, it seems astonishing that such a small operation, with a staff of just 30, should have produced China’s first production-ready all-electric car. But the Zhong Tai has been in development for six years, backed by Zotye, a mainstream car maker, of which New Power is a “green” subsidiary.

Chinese industry has put huge efforts into battery development, a fact that was reinforced last month when Volkswagen said it would be collaborating with BYD, a Chinese manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries, to develop its first hybrid vehicles.

Still, New Power’s claims of a 250-mile range were remarkable so we were intrigued to find out how the vehicle would perform. Tipping the scales at 1.2 tons, the Zhong Tai sounds like a cumbersome beast. Its battery alone weighs about 660lb. It is housed under the car, although in the model I tried, a further auxiliary battery took up a good proportion of the boot space.

The claimed acceleration rate is 0-60mph in 12sec and the car is, indeed, quite spritely. When I pressed hard on the accelerator, the car leapt from 18mph-54mph in just 5sec, but then alarms started screeching and the engine had to be restarted. There was another worry. Accidentally touching the battery in the boot resulted in a mighty electric shock, although the company insisted this was a minor fault and rectified it within minutes.

And what of that all-important 250-mile range? Unfortunately, we couldn’t cover that distance in the time available for the test but by keeping an eye on the charge monitor it was possible to get an idea as to the veracity of New Power’s claims. At the start of the test the car had a three-quarters charge; 120 miles of reasonably hard driving later, it was showing a 42% charge. Assuming the power meter was accurate and proportional, the company’s claim is not unfeasible.

On an open road, at an average speed of 60mph, the car’s range drops to about 170 miles, according to New Power. Reduce average speed to 48mph and the company claims an average range of 218 miles. In “city driving with stops and starts”, the company reckons it can reach its maximum range of about 250 miles.

The Chinese government has announced plans to set up a 10 billion yuan (£890m) fund to promote alternative energy and is offering generous grants towards the production of electric vehicles, stating that all car companies should be producing one green vehicle by 2011.

The Zhong Tai is set to go into production next year, eventually building towards annual production of 20,000 vehicles. Wu Aibing, public relations director for New Power, claims the company is “in conversations about co-operation for overseas distribution” in the UK and US.

The company has been in touch with Electric Village, a London-based marketing company specialising in electric vehicles, about promoting the car in Britain. “The new vehicle is game-changing in the rapidly emerging electric car sector,” says Stewart McKee, the chief executive of Electric Village. “Hence we are looking at a distribution and sales strategy for the UK market.”

Even if New Power’s reliability and range claims hold up under further testing, there are still question marks about the car’s potential success, particularly in foreign markets.

Chinese exports, such as the Jiang-ling Landwind, a large petrol-powered SUV, have failed European safety tests. Aside from safety, the Zhong Tai’s retro looks may not appeal to image-conscious westerners.

However, with most mainstream European car manufacturers putting off electric car production until 2011 or later, and current options offering a range of no more than about 50 miles, this car could lead the way to a practical all-electric automotive future.



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


Monday, June 08, 2009

Skeptics From Around the Globe: ITALY

Quote below from Dr. Franco Battaglia, professor of Environmental Chemistry University of Modena:

"It follows that scientists worldwide have not only failed to understand anything, but are hoaxers and dreamers: the anthropogenic global warming is the most colossal forgery of the century....the biggest sham of the last 15 years...the conjecture of anthropogenic global warming should be regarded as pure speculation today- physically disproved by the real facts"


Note also that Dr Battaglia was one of those who advised the American Physical Society to change its policy statement from this:
Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth's climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes.

The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

Because the complexity of the climate makes accurate prediction difficult, the APS urges an enhanced effort to understand the effects of human activity on the Earth’s climate, and to provide the technological options for meeting the climate challenge in the near and longer terms. The APS also urges governments, universities, national laboratories and its membership to support policies and actions that will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases.

to this
Greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, accompany human industrial and agricultural activity. While substantial concern has been expressed that emissions may cause significant climate change, measured or reconstructed temperature records indicate that 20th -21st century changes are neither exceptional nor persistent, and the historical and geological records show many periods warmer than today. In addition, there is an extensive scientific literature that examines beneficial effects of increased levels of carbon dioxide for both plants and animals.

Studies of a variety of natural processes, including ocean cycles and solar variability, indicate that they can account for variations in the Earth’s climate on the time scale of decades and centuries. Current climate models appear insufficiently reliable to properly account for natural and anthropogenic contributions to past climate change, much less project future climate.

The APS supports an objective scientific effort to understand the effects of all processes – natural and human -- on the Earth’s climate and the biosphere’s response to climate change, and promotes technological options for meeting challenges of future climate changes, regardless of cause.

See here

Note: The above advice was not accepted

Weather Malarkey

By Alan Caruba

I have never been able to figure out why people who know that the forecast for the local weather is likely to be wrong by the afternoon of the same day or within 48 hours still believe that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change can accurately predict what it will be ten, twenty or fifty years from now.

At the third Conference on Climate Change held last week in Washington, DC., an event sponsored by the non-profit, free market think tank, The Heartland Institute, “Climate Change Reconsidered: The 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change” (NIPCC) was announced. It offers a very different picture from the endless scare campaigns of the leading environmental organizations or, for that matter, from the White House and Congress.

Edited by Craig Idso and S. Fred Singer, two climatologists, it runs a whopping 900 pages that includes 35 contributors and reviewers of climate data. Its final 200 pages are mostly appendices, including a directory of all scientists who signed the Global Warming Petition that, in March, numbered 31,478 of them.

The Petition urged the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997, and any other similar proposals. One of those proposals is a nation-destroying epic “climate” bill intended to limit greenhouse gas emissions, mainly carbon dioxide, with an absurd “cap-and-trade” program that is little more than a huge tax on all use of energy by Americans.

Suffice it to say that the original Kyoto Protocols were rejected unanimously by a former Senate when they were first announced and, since they are allegedly directed at saving the Earth from “global warming”, the threat of this calamity ended around 1998 when the Earth began to cool. It has been in a cooling cycle ever since.

Is the U.S. Temperature Record Reliable?

Neither the protocols, nor the current “climate” bill have any merit whatever. Both are based on falsified “scientific” data courtesy of the UN Panel. Bad, inaccurate weather information seems to be the stock-in-trade of environmental organizations and thanks to Anthony Watts, a meteorologist with some 25 years in the forecasting business and chief meteorologist for KPAY-AM radio, a publication, “Is the U.S. Temperature Record Reliable?” is available from The Heartland Institute ($12.99 per copy for 1-10 copies.)

As Watts points out, “The official record of temperatures in the continental United States comes from a network of 1,221 climate-monitoring stations overseen by the National Weather Service, a department of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).”

Until now, however, “no one had ever conducted a comprehensive review of the quality of the measurement environment of those stations.” Watts recruited 650 volunteers and their findings are astounding and disturbing.

“We found stations located next to the exhaust fans of air conditioning units, surrounded by asphalt parking lots and roads, on blistering-hot rooftops, and near sidewalks and buildings that absorb and radiate heat. We found 68 stations located at wastewater treatment plants, where the process of waste digestion causes temperatures to be higher than in surrounding areas.”

The report found that 89 percent of the stations, nearly 9 out of 10, failed to meet the National Weather Service’s own requirements that stations must be 30 meters (about 100 feet) away from an artificial heating or radiating/reflecting heat source.

So, based on these monitoring stations, very little of the temperatures reported by the U.S. Weather Service are accurate and, more importantly, provide false data which has been used to underwrite the “global warming” hoax.

Filled with photos of the stations and charts of the data they produce, the conclusion is inescapable: “The U.S. temperature record is unreliable.”

When one considers that during the course of a single day and night, the temperature anywhere can vary widely, the notion that anyone can determine the nation’s or entire Earth’s average temperature based on such stations around the world is literally impossible.

Weather satellites provide a better gauge and, as noted, they have been reporting a cooling Earth since 1998.

The Greens aren’t the only ones who can make predictions, albeit for the purpose of scaring people into believing the bogus “global warming” hoax, I can do that too. I predict that the Greens will unleash an unholy attack on The Heartland Institute’s NIPCC report in order to discredit it.

Now, who are you going to believe? The thermometer your home or apartment uses to determine the temperature outside or the Greens? As for your local weather report, it is useful for perhaps a day, maybe two. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

For more information, visit www.surfacestations.org.


NASA's James Hansen summarized

It's been more than 20 years since James Hansen first warned America of impending doom. On a hot summer day in June 1988, Hansen, the head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, came to Washington to announce before a Senate committee that "the greenhouse effect has been detected and it is changing our climate now."

The greenhouse effect would have looked obvious enough to anyone watching on television. The senators conducting the hearing, including Al Gore, had turned the committee room into an oven. That day it was a balmy 98 degrees, and as former Colorado senator Timothy Wirth later revealed, the committee members "went in the night before and opened all the windows. And so when the hearing occurred, there was not only bliss, which is television cameras and [high ratings], but it was really hot."

Hansen has been a star ever since. On the 20th anniversary of his testimony to Congress and still serving in the same role at NASA, Hansen was invited back for an encore performance where he warned that time was running out. He also conducted a media tour that included calling for the CEOs of fossil fuel companies, including ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy, to be put on trial for "high crimes against humanity and nature."

If you hear the echo of Nuremberg in those trials, it's because Hansen doesn't shy away from Holocaust metaphors to make his point. In 2007, Hansen testified before the Iowa Utilities Board not in his capacity as a government employee but "as private citizen, a resident of Kintnersville, Pennsylvania, on behalf of the planet, of life on Earth, including all species." Hansen told the board that "if we cannot stop the building of more coal-fired power plants, those coal trains will be death trains--no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species."

More recently, but presumably still in his capacity as a private citizen and defender of the Earth, Hansen wrote an op-ed for the Guardian in which he described coal-fired power plants as "factories of death." This on the heels of testifying in a British court on behalf of six Greenpeace activists on trial for causing $60,000 in criminal damage to a coal-fired power station in England. The Greenpeace activists had offered climate change as a "lawful excuse" for their actions and with Hansen's helpful testimony were acquitted of all charges. Less than six months later, Hansen--a federal employee--would call for "the largest display of civil disobedience against global warming in U.S. history" as part of a protest at the Capitol power plant in Washington.

Hansen, by his own count, has conducted more than 1,400 interviews in recent years. Yet Hansen would also insist, in a speech just days before the 2004 presidential election, that the Bush administration had "muzzled" him because of his global warming activism. When asked about this contradiction in 2007, Hansen told Rep. Darrell Issa that "for the sake of the taxpayers, they should be availed of my expertise. I shouldn't be required to parrot some company line."

But Hansen has never parroted the company line. As the head of NASA's Weather and Climate Research Program from 1982 to 1994, John Theon was James Hansen's supervisor. Theon says that Hansen's testimony in 1988 was "a huge embarrassment" to NASA, and he remains skeptical of Hansen's predictions. "I don't have much faith in the models," Theon says, pointing to the "huge uncertainty in the role clouds play." Theon describes Hansen as a "nice, likeable fellow," but worries "he's been overcome by his belief--almost religious--that he's going to save the world."

William Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, also describes Hansen's belief in a man-made global-warming catastrophe as "almost religious" and says he "never understood how [Hansen] got such a strong voice" in the debate. Gray's efforts to predict hurricanes also lead him to question Hansen's computer models. "He doesn't have the clouds in right, and he doesn't have the deep ocean circulation," Gray says. "It's a giant scam in my view."

Yet Hansen has been well rewarded by the scientific community for his efforts, winning the American Meteorological Society's highest award for atmospheric science earlier this year. Gray says he was "appalled at that," particularly in light of the fact that Hansen wasn't even trained as a -meteorologist. Gray distributed a paper describing the choice as a "hijacking" of the AMS: "By presenting Hansen with its highest award, the AMS implies it agrees with his faulty global temperature projections and irresponsible alarmist rhetoric," Gray wrote.

Indeed, Roy Spencer, who served as the senior scientist for climate studies at NASA's Marshall Center, puts Hansen "at the extreme end of global warming alarmism." Spencer doesn't know of anyone "who thinks it's a bigger problem than [Hansen] does." Spencer, a meteorologist by training and a skeptic of man-made global warming, was genuinely muzzled during the Clinton administration. "I would get the message down through the NASA chain [of command] of what I could and couldn't say in testimony."

Spencer left NASA with little fuss for a job at the University of Alabama in 2001, but he still seems in awe of Hansen's ability to do as he pleases. "For many years Hansen got away with going around NASA rules, and they looked the other way because it helped sell Mission to Planet Earth," the NASA research program studying human effects on climate. Spencer figures that "at some point, someone in the Bush administration said 'why don't you start enforcing your rules?' "

Gray says that Hansen's "testimony is not working out" anyway. There's been a "slight cooling since 2001. .  .  . They're scrambling," he says. And indeed Hansen got caught with his hand in the cookie jar in 2007, when Stephen McIntyre, the man who debunked the infamous "hockey stick" graph showing stable Northern Hemisphere surface temperatures for most of the last millennia before a sharp upturn, found a flaw in Hansen's numbers. McIntyre analyzed NASA's temperature records for the last century and found that, contrary to Hansen's charts, 1998 was not the hottest year on record. That honor belongs to 1934, and five of the ten hottest years on record are now found prior to World War II.

Theon says the same kind of models that now predict runaway warming were predicting runaway cooling prior to 1975, when the popular fear was not melting ice caps but a new ice age, and "not one model predicted the cooling we've had since 1998." Spencer insists "it's all make believe--if you took one look at the assumptions that go into this, you'd laugh." But none of that seems to matter too much.

"Gore was in his corner and now the president is in his corner," Theon says. "They don't understand what the hell is going on."


The Littlest Totalitarian


‘Helping Dad become a better man: priceless.” That’s the closing line of a new MasterCard commercial. You know those commercials; they’ve been out for nearly a decade. A typical one goes something like this: “Bric-a-brac: 17 dollars. White elephant: 28 dollars. Getting your wife to remove the restraining order: priceless.”

Only this one has a little boy tailing his father — a man who looks like a perpetually adolescent extra from the old sitcom Friends — through a home-improvement store pointing out ways the carbon-profligate old man can reduce his footprint. The boy replaces the usual narrator as well. “Energy-saving bulb: four dollars,” quoth the child. “Reusable bag: two dollars. Helping Dad become a better man: priceless.”

There are two kinds of folks in this world: those who find this sort of thing creepy, and pod people. Okay, maybe that’s a bit too strong. But how anyone could fail to find this commercial one of the more disturbing convergences of corporate power, advertising, and progressive groupthink is beyond me.

If you can’t see why, maybe it will help to look a few spaces ahead of where we are. In Britain, an electric utility launched a website for kids that teaches them how to become “climate cops.” Their duty is to keep a “watchful eye” and monitor the “energy crimes” of their family and neighbors, with the ultimate goal of building a “climate-crime case file.” Beware that Johnson kid with the clipboard going through your recyclables.

If you still can’t see why this kiddie Gestapo stuff is offensive, change the issue from environmentalism to eating habits (you know that’s coming, by the way), or religion, or just about any subject where you don’t think a six-year-old should be scolding you for weakness of character or informing on you to the authorities.

Now, it’s not that I think kids shouldn’t be encouraged to be civic-minded. And while I find today’s climate obsessions to be suffused with religious hysteria, I don’t see anything terrible in encouraging kids, or anyone else, to conserve resources. But that’s not the issue here. Nor is environmentalism per se. It’s the kids.

There is something evil about recruiting children to lobby their parents on political causes. Okay, it’s not always evil; sometimes it can be funny, like the time in 1965 when Soupy Sales told the children watching his TV show to sneak into their parents’ bedrooms and take the “green pieces of paper” from their wallets and send them to him.

Sales apologized for cracking a joke that a few kids took seriously. But no apologies are forthcoming from MasterCard for broadcasting something in earnest that in a healthy society would be seen as a joke. The idea of enlisting children to the Cause is as fashionable today as it was under Robespierre. To crack the bunker walls of the family and seduce the children has always been a top priority of totalitarians, hard and soft. Progressives love to elevate the sagacity of children — Hillary Clinton says some of the best theologians she’s ever met have been five-year-olds — because doing so gives children all the more authority when they parrot the talking points of the latest progressive fad.

James Lileks asks about the MasterCard ad: “If the kid didn’t learn these steps to righteousness at home, where did he get them?” Precisely. It’s not as if normal, uncoached six-year-olds talk about making their fathers “better men.”

If the man in the ad were a better father, he would have scolded his kid for the disrespect and demanded to know who was teaching him such crap.


Sea Ice Extent Now Normal in the Arctic

NOTHING seems to be going to plan for those who believe in anthropogenic global warming and an imminent climate crisis. According to thermometer and satellite data global surface temperatures are not increasing, the oceans aren’t warming, and now it seems not even the Arctic is melting.

The latest satellite data on Arctic sea ice extent suggests that there is now a normal amount of sea ice in the Arctic – normal is defined as about average for the period 1979 - 2007.

And when all is said and done, if the climate system is not accumulating heat, the AGW hypothesis is invalid.

The graph is from ‘Daily Updated Time series of Arctic sea ice area and extent derived from SSMI data provided by NANSEN’, See here

More discussion at WUWT on sea ice extent, here


Fortune Tellers and Planners, Public and Private

This is about predictions generally, with particular reference to financial and business predictions, but its application to Warmism should also be obvious

Throughout history, as far back as we have records, there have been fortune tellers and magicians. That is, there have been people who claimed to have a means of knowing the future and others who purported to know how to manipulate or control the course of events by rituals or other means. All kinds of methods were used to divine the future, from the flight of birds to the shape of the livers of sacrificed oxen.

It would seem that thinking of this kind has a deep appeal to human beings, that we may even be hardwired by evolution to be attracted to it. Seemingly the idea of a future that is somehow knowable and determinable eases anxiety and makes the world seem safer and tamer. (This also explains the persisting appeal of conspiracy-based theories of history and current affairs. Apparently many people would rather believe that the world is run by incredibly cunning and evil people than admit that no one is “in charge.”)

No One Knows

The claim to be able to predict or direct the future is wrong, and to the extent we believe it, we will do incredibly dangerous things. In some ways we can make predictions about what will happen—if we couldn’t, life would simply be impossible. Thus on the basis of what has happened already, we can predict fairly confidently that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow. We can be almost as confident that the Chicago Cubs will not win the World Series—or can we? The problem with the second kind of prediction is that it works on the basis of past regularities or statistical aggregates involving human interaction. Most of the time these predictions pan out, but not always.

One major problem is unforeseen and (more importantly) unforeseeable events, which completely change what can reasonably be anticipated and make nonsense of what looked like sound expectations. Another problem is that people will change their behavior on the basis of what they confidently expect to happen. Sometimes this makes the anticipated event even more likely, but occasionally it has the opposite effect and confounds all the confident prognostications. In reality, while we can guess at bits of it and have reasonable expectations in some areas, the human future is ultimately radically unknowable merely on the basis of past experience, on both a micro and a macro level.

It is also true that all of us seek to influence the course of future events. Simply by living and acting we have an influence to some degree. This, however, is largely not a matter of definite purpose on our part. We influence the future in ways we do not anticipate or intend. Beyond that we often consciously try by acting in certain ways to make particular outcomes more likely and others less so. In other words, we make plans assuming that our actions will have the results we anticipate and desire. Sometimes things work out, but often they do not. The more elaborate and longer-term the plans, the greater the likelihood that things will not work out as expected. This applies to both individual and collective action.

All of this has an obvious bearing on economic thinking and on what we can reasonably expect from public policy. Essentially, we should have modest and humble expectations of what it can achieve. We should be prepared to accept that most policies will fail; that is, they will not bring about their anticipated outcomes. We should also expect that in many cases public policy will have consequences that were not only unforeseen by those advocating them, but could not have been foreseen—even by critics.

Above all, this means that the idea of using political power to plan or guide the course of events is ultimately a fantasy, one that can only end in disappointment. Sometimes government policies will work out the way they were intended to, but more often something will derail them or they will produce unexpected and often unwelcome results. This is of course one of the central arguments made against government planning by the Austrian school of economists, most notably Mises and Hayek. The solution for them is to use the outcome of the interactions of individuals in markets and other social institutions to generate signals, such as prices, that correct errors and provide some degree of guidance as to what course of action one should follow to achieve a desired result. One of the most important aspects of this process is insurance, essentially a series of transactions (bets, effectively) that provide a rough guide to the chances of certain undesirable events happening.

The Austrian analysis, moreover, does not only apply to government. It also applies to private institutions. Thus much of the planning by large private firms or churches or charities fails in the same way that government planning does. It is less dangerous or apparent because firms and other private organizations, while organized on a nonmarket basis internally, are embedded in a wider system of market relations that swiftly reveal when plans are not working out. Therefore they are corrected more swiftly.

However, this self-correcting mechanism can break down. One problem is the one I touched on in a previous column (“The Recurring Crisis,” www.tinyurl.com/de214b): the distorting effects of the government monopoly of money. As money is the medium in which prices are expressed, distortion of its supply will have systemic effects and delay corrections from taking place, making the problems more severe than they need be. This is exacerbated by another phenomenon that is purely private in origin and reflects the human weakness for certainty alluded to earlier. Just like the Romans, our own society has its class of augurs and fortune tellers, but now they appear as economic forecasters and academics. Individuals who take their omens and prophecies seriously will believe that they can know and control the future and act on that basis. This is bad enough, but it’s made worse by another flaw in human psychology: our propensity for crowd manias. The combination of these traits with the government monopoly of money is what has produced a global financial crisis.

In the last ten to fifteen years a curious form of intellectual hubris came to possess the professions of economics and finance. Many participants came to believe that complicated mathematical modeling made it possible to estimate risks so accurately that the future was truly knowable in the sense that any possible outcome was somehow taken account of. The result was a misplaced confidence that led people to make highly risky bets on the basis of an assumed knowledge of the future returns on investment and growth in the value of various classes of assets. When combined with the mistaken monetary policy of the Fed, the result was disaster once things did not work out as expected.

What should we take from this? Mainly that we need to be more humble and aware of the limitations of human knowledge. Above all we should remember that government is no wiser and in many ways less well informed than private actors.



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


Sunday, June 07, 2009

U.S. Senate Minority Report: More Than 700 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims

Scientists Continue to Debunk "Consensus" in 2008 & 2009

Over 700 dissenting scientists (updates previous 650 report) from around the globe challenged man-made global warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore. This new 2009 255-page U.S. Senate Minority Report -- updated from 2007's groundbreaking report of over 400 scientists who voiced skepticism about the so-called global warming "consensus" -- features the skeptical voices of over 700 prominent international scientists, including many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN IPCC.

This updated report includes an additional 300 (and growing) scientists and climate researchers since the initial release in December 2007. The over 700 dissenting scientists are more than 13 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media-hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers. The chorus of skeptical scientific voices grow louder in 2008 and 2009 as a steady stream of peer-reviewed studies, analyses, real world data and inconvenient developments challenged the UN's and former Vice President Al Gore's claims that the "science is settled" and there is a "consensus."

On a range of issues, 2008 and 2009 proved to be challenging for the promoters of man-made climate fears. Promoters of anthropogenic warming fears endured the following:

Global temperatures failing to warm;

Peer-reviewed studies predicting a continued lack of warming;

a failed attempt to revive the discredited "Hockey Stick";

inconvenient developments and studies regarding rising CO2; the Sun; Clouds; Antarctica; the Arctic; Greenland's ice; Mount Kilimanjaro; Causes of Hurricanes; Extreme Storms; Extinctions; Floods; Droughts; Ocean Acidification; Polar Bears; Extreme weather deaths; Frogs; lack of atmospheric dust; Malaria; the failure of oceans to warm and rise as predicted.

In addition, the following developments further secured 2008 and 2009 as the year the "consensus" collapsed.

Russian scientists "rejected the very idea that carbon dioxide may be responsible for global warming".

An American Physical Society editor conceded that a "considerable presence" of scientific skeptics exists.

An International team of scientists countered the UN IPCC, declaring: "Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate".

India Issued a report challenging global warming fears.

International Scientists demanded the UN IPCC "be called to account and cease its deceptive practices," and a canvass of more than 51,000 Canadian scientists revealed 68% disagree that global warming science is "settled."

A Japan Geoscience Union symposium survey in 2008 "showed 90 per cent of the participants do not believe the IPCC report."

This new report issued by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's office of the GOP Ranking Member is the latest evidence of the growing groundswell of scientific opposition challenging significant aspects of the claims of the UN IPCC and Al Gore. Scientific meetings are now being dominated by a growing number of skeptical scientists. The prestigious International Geological Congress, dubbed the geologists' equivalent of the Olympic Games, was held in Norway in August 2008 and prominently featured the voices of scientists skeptical of man-made global warming fears.

Even the mainstream media has begun to take notice of the expanding number of scientists serving as "consensus busters." A November 25, 2008, article in Politico noted that a "growing accumulation" of science is challenging warming fears, and added that the "science behind global warming may still be too shaky to warrant cap-and-trade legislation."

Canada's National Post noted on October 20, 2008, that "the number of climate change skeptics is growing rapidly."

New York Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin noted on March 6, 2008, "As we all know, climate science is not a numbers game (there are heaps of signed statements by folks with advanced degrees on all sides of this issue)," Revkin wrote.

In 2007, Washington Post Staff Writer Juliet Eilperin conceded the obvious, writing that climate skeptics "appear to be expanding rather than shrinking."

Skeptical scientists are gaining recognition despite what many say is a bias against them in parts of the scientific community and are facing significant funding disadvantages.

Dr. William M. Briggs, a climate statistician who serves on the American Meteorological Society's Probability and Statistics Committee, explained that his colleagues described "absolute horror stories of what happened to them when they tried getting papers published that explored non-`consensus' views." In a March 4, 2008, report Briggs described the behavior as "really outrageous and unethical... on the parts of some editors... I was shocked."

Highlights of the Updated 2009 Senate Minority Report featuring over 700 international scientists dissenting from man-made climate fears:

"I am a skeptic.Global warming has become a new religion." - Nobel Prize Winner for Physics, Ivar Giaever.

"Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly..As a scientist I remain skeptical...The main basis of the claim that man's release of greenhouse gases is the cause of the warming is based almost entirely upon climate models. We all know the frailty of models concerning the air-surface system." - Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson, the first woman in the world to 4 receive a PhD in meteorology, and formerly of NASA, who has authored more than 190 studies and has been called "among the most preeminent scientists of the last 100 years."

Warming fears are the "worst scientific scandal in the history. When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists." - UN IPCC Japanese Scientist Dr. Kiminori Itoh, an award-winning PhD environmental physical chemist.

"The IPCC has actually become a closed circuit; it doesn't listen to others. It doesn't have open minds. I am really amazed that the Nobel Peace Prize has been given on scientifically incorrect conclusions by people who are not geologists." - Indian geologist Dr. Arun D. Ahluwalia at Punjab University and a board member of the UN-supported International Year of the Planet.

"So far, real measurements give no ground for concern about a catastrophic future warming." - Scientist Dr. Jarl R. Ahlbeck, a chemical engineer at Abo Akademi University in Finland, author of 200 scientific publications and former Greenpeace member.

"Anyone who claims that the debate is over and the conclusions are firm has a fundamentally unscientific approach to one of the most momentous issues of our time." - Solar physicist Dr. Pal Brekke, senior advisor to the Norwegian Space Centre in Oslo. Brekke has published more than 40 peer-reviewed scientific articles on the sun and solar interaction with the Earth.

"The models and forecasts of the UN IPCC "are incorrect because they only are based on mathematical models and presented results at scenarios that do not include, for example, solar activity." - Victor Manuel Velasco Herrera, a researcher at the Institute of Geophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico

"It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don't buy into anthropogenic global warming." - U.S Government Atmospheric Scientist Stanley B. Goldenberg of the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA.

"Even doubling or tripling the amount of carbon dioxide will virtually have little impact, as water vapour and water condensed on particles as clouds dominate the worldwide scene and always will." - . Geoffrey G. Duffy, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering of the University of Auckland, NZ.

"I am convinced that the current alarm over carbon dioxide is mistaken...Fears about man-made global warming are unwarranted and are not based on good science." - Award Winning Physicist Dr. Will Happer, Professor at the Department of Physics at Princeton University and Former Director of Energy Research at the Department of Energy, who has published over 200 scientific papers, and is a fellow of the American Physical Society, The American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Academy of Sciences.

"Nature's regulatory instrument is water vapor: more carbon dioxide leads to less moisture in the air, keeping the overall GHG content in accord with the necessary balance conditions." - Prominent Hungarian Physicist and environmental researcher Dr. Miklos Zagoni reversed his view of man-made warming and is now a skeptic. Zagoni was once Hungary's most outspoken supporter of the Kyoto Protocol.

"For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming? For how many years must cooling go on?" - Geologist Dr. David Gee the chairman of the science committee of the 2008 International Geological Congress who has authored 130 plus peer reviewed papers, and is currently at Uppsala University in Sweden.

"Gore prompted me to start delving into the science again and I quickly found myself solidly in the skeptic camp. Climate models can at best be useful for explaining climate changes after the fact." - Meteorologist Hajo Smit of Holland, who reversed his belief in man-made warming to become a skeptic, is a former member of the Dutch UN IPCC committee.

"The quantity of CO2 we produce is insignificant in terms of the natural circulation between air, water and soil... I am doing a detailed assessment of the UN IPCC reports and the Summaries for Policy Makers, identifying the way in which the Summaries have distorted the science." - South Afican Nuclear Physicist and Chemical Engineer Dr. Philip Lloyd, a UN IPCC co-coordinating lead author who has authored over 150 refereed publications.

"Many [scientists] are now searching for a way to back out quietly (from promoting warming fears), without having their professional careers ruined." - Atmospheric physicist James A. Peden, formerly of the Space Research and Coordination Center in Pittsburgh.

"All those urging action to curb global warming need to take off the blinkers and give some thought to what we should do if we are facing global cooling instead." - Geophysicist Dr. Phil Chapman, an astronautical engineer and former NASA astronaut, served as staff physicist at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Much more HERE


An important event in the global warming debate occurred this week, with the release of Climate Change Reconsidered, an 880-page book produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change Reconsidered is authored by Dr. Fred Singer and Dr. Craig Idso, with 35 additional contributors. The purpose of the book is to "present an authoritative and detailed rebuttal of the findings of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on which the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress rely for their regulatory proposals." You can download it in its entirety at the linked site.

At the highest level, these are the conclusions of Climate Change Reconsidered:
The scholarship in this book demonstrates overwhelming scientific support for the position that the warming of the twentieth century was moderate and not unprecedented, that its impact on human health and wildlife was positive, and that carbon dioxide probably is not the driving factor behind climate change.

The authors cite thousands of peer-reviewed research papers and books that were ignored by the IPCC, plus additional scientific research that became available after the IPCC's self-imposed deadline of May 2006.

The book is replete with detailed statistical data and arguments of the sort that global warming alarmists refuse to engage in. It contains far too much data to summarize, but here are the "key findings" in Chapter 3, titled "Observations: Temperature Records."

* The IPCC claims to find evidence in temperature records that the warming of the twentieth century was "unprecedented" and more rapid than during any previous period in the past 1,300 years. But the evidence it cites, including the "hockey-stick" representation of earth's temperature record by Mann et al., has been discredited and contradicted by many independent scholars.

* A corrected temperature record shows temperatures around the world were warmer during the Medieval Warm Period of approximately 1,000 years ago than they are today, and have averaged 2-3ºF warmer than today's temperatures over the past 10,000 years.

* Evidence of a global Medieval Warm Period is extensive and irrefutable. Scientists working with a variety of independent methodologies have found it in proxy records from Africa, Antarctica, the Arctic, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America.

* The IPCC cites as evidence of modern global warming data from surface-based recording stations yielding a 1905-2005 temperature increase of 0.74ºC +/- 0.18ºC. But this temperature record is known to be positively biased by insufficient corrections for the non-greenhouse-gas-induced urban heat island (UHI) effect. It may be impossible to make proper corrections for this deficiency, as the UHI of even small towns dwarfs any concomitant augmented greenhouse effect that may be present.

* Highly accurate satellite data, adjusted for orbit drift and other factors, show a much more modest warming trend in the last two decades of the twentieth century and a dramatic decline in the warming trend in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

* The "fingerprint" or pattern of warming observed in the twentieth century differs from the pattern predicted by global climate models designed to simulate CO2-induced global warming. Evidence reported by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) is unequivocal: All greenhouse models show an increasing warming trend with altitude in the tropics, peaking around 10 km at roughly twice the surface value. However, the temperature data from balloons give the opposite result: no increasing warming, but rather a slight cooling with altitude.

* Temperature records in Greenland and other Arctic areas reveal that temperatures reached a maximum around 1930 and have decreased in recent decades. Longer-term studies depict oscillatory cooling since the Climatic Optimum of the mid-Holocene (~9000-5000 years BP), when it was perhaps 2.5º C warmer than it is now.

* The average temperature history of Antarctica provides no evidence of twentieth century warming. While the Antarctic peninsula shows recent warming, several research teams have documented a cooling trend for the interior of the continent since the 1970s.

If you want to inform yourself about the global warming debate, there is no better place to begin.


'Worse Than Fiction'

From the WSJ:

Global warming alarmists are fond of invoking the authority of experts against the skepticism of supposedly amateur detractors -- a.k.a. "deniers." So when one of those experts says that a recent report on the effects of climate change is "worse than fiction, it is a lie," the alarmists should, well, be alarmed.

The latest contretemps pits former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, now president of the Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum, against Roger Pielke, Jr., an expert in disaster trends at the University of Colorado. Mr. Annan's outfit issued a lengthy report late last month warning that climate change-induced disasters, such as droughts and floods, kill 315,000 each year and cost $125 billion, numbers it says will rise to 500,000 dead and $340 billion by 2030. Adding to the gloom, Mr. Annan predicts "mass starvation, mass migration, and mass sickness" unless countries agree to "the most ambitious international agreement ever negotiated" at a meeting this year in Copenhagen.

Even on its own terms, the numbers here are a lot less scary when put into context. Malaria kills an estimated one million people a year, while AIDS claims an estimated two million. As for the economic costs, $125 billion is slightly less than the GDP of New Zealand. Question: Are targeted campaigns using proven methods to spare the world three million AIDS and malaria deaths a year a better use of scarce resources than a multitrillion-dollar attempt to re-engineer the global economy and save, at most, a tenth that number? We'd say yes.

But the Annan report deserves even closer scrutiny as an example of the sleight of hand that so often goes with the politics of global warming. Unlike starvation, climate change does not usually kill anyone directly. Instead, the study's authors assume a four-step chain of causation, beginning with increased emissions, moving to climate-change effects, thence to physical changes like melting glaciers and desertification, and finally arriving at human effects like malnutrition and "risk of instability and armed conflicts."

This is a heroic set of assumptions, even if you agree that emissions are causing adverse changes in climate. Take the supposedly heightened risk of conflict: The authors suggest that "inter-clan fighting in Somalia" is a product of climate change. A likelier explanation is the collapse of a functioning Somali government and the rise of jihadists in the region.

Enter Mr. Pielke, who, we hasten to add, does not speak for us (nor we for him). But given the headlines the Annan report has garnered, his views deserve amplification. Writing in the Prometheus science policy blog, Mr. Pielke calls the report a "methodological embarrassment" and a "poster child for how to lie with statistics" that "does a disservice" to those who take climate change issues seriously.

Mr. Pielke's critique begins by citing a recent peer-reviewed paper by three German researchers that "it is generally difficult to obtain valid quantitative findings about the role of socioeconomics and climate change in loss increases." Reasons for this, the researchers explain, include "the stochastic [random] nature of weather extremes, a shortage of quality data, and the role of various other potential factors that act in parallel and interact."

The report does admit to a "significant margin of error," but this hardly excuses the sloppiness of its methodology. "To get around the fact that there has been no attribution of the relationship of GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions and disasters," Mr. Pielke notes, the Annan "report engages in a very strange comparison of earthquake and weather disasters in 1980 and 2005. The first question that comes to mind is, why? They are comparing phenomena with many 'moving parts' over a short time frame, and attributing 100% of the resulting difference to human-caused climate change. This boggles the mind."

It gets worse. The Annan report cites Hurricane Katrina as a case study in the economic consequences of climate change. Yet there's not even remotely conclusive evidence that temperature increases have any effect on the intensity or frequency of hurricanes. The authors also claim that global warming is aggravating the El Niño effect, which has "ruined livelihoods, led to lost lives and impaired national economies." Yet new research "questions the notion that El Niños have been getting stronger because of global warming," according to Ben Giese of Texas A&M.

We could go on, except we're worried about the blood pressure of readers who are climate-change true believers. Our only question is, if the case for global warming is so open and shut, why the need for a report as disingenuous as Mr. Annan's?


Waxman-Markey Whacks Industry

The so-called Waxman-Markey bill snaking its way through the greasy halls of Congress looks likes the most expensive thing to hit the economy since the financial crisis began. Even the normally mild-mannered Wall Street Journal called it “one of the most ambitious efforts to re-engineer American social and economic behavior in decades, presenting risks and opportunities for a wide array of businesses from Silicon Valley to the coal fields of the Appalachians.”

First off, the stated objective of cutting carbon emissions by 83% by 2050 will go down in history as outrageous – akin to when Who drummer Keith Moon drove his Lincoln Continental into the pool at the Holiday Inn. I think members of Congress must be smoking the same thing Moon was.

To show you how patently ridiculous such a goal is, I turn to Questar’s CEO – a man with the unfortunate name of Keith Rattie. Questar is an oil and gas company. Rattie is an engineer. He has been in the business since the 1970s. He walks us through the basic math in a speech he made at Utah Valley University on April 2 called “Energy Myths and Realities.” Rattie uses Utah as an example:

“Utah’s carbon footprint today is about 66 million tons per year. Our population is 2.6 million. You divide those two numbers and the average Utahan today has a carbon footprint of about 25 tons per year. An 80% reduction in Utah’s carbon footprint by 2050 implies 66 million tons today to about 13 million tons per year by 2050. If Utah’s population continues to grow at 2% per year, by 2050, there will be about 6 million people living in our state. So 13 million tons divided by 6 million people equals 2.2 tons per person per year.

“Question: When was the last time Utah’s carbon footprint was as low as 2.2 tons per person? Answer: Not since Brigham Young and the Mormon pioneers first entered the Wasatch Valley and declared, ‘This is the place.’”

You can extend this math over the whole country – a growing mass of 300 million people. To meet the Waxman-Markey bill’s goals would mean we have to go back to a carbon footprint about as big as the Pilgrims’ at Plymouth Rock circa 1620.

So I think the bill is absurd. I think it is also a great blow to what is left of American industry. But who cares what I think? As the great Jeffers wrote, “Be angry at the sun for setting/ If these things anger you.” This is the way the world works. Politicians do dumb things. We have to play the ball where it is. And that means we have to figure out who wins and who loses.

Here are some thoughts along those lines…

Agriculture. Agriculture, for whatever reasons, is exempt from the new rules. So farmers don’t have to worry about those manure pools out back or the flatulent cows emitting methane all over God’s green meadows. Those big tractors? Burn up that diesel! Agriculture is a winner by virtue of not losing, like a hockey team that skates to a tie.

Steel. Big loser. U.S Steel, AK Steel and even foreign steel companies with US operations all get a big kick in the family jewels on this one. Steelmaking emits all kinds of carbon dioxide. The worst-case scenario here is that the US simply won’t be making steel at some point in the future. The plants will all go to Brazil. China is already the biggest steel producer in the world. Now we just handed the country a bunch of new business. Avoid big steel in the US.

Utilities. Mostly losers. Under the bill, utilities will have to get 12% of their electricity from renewable sources. That means they are going to spend money buying windmills and solar panels. For some of the coal utilities, this is bad news – even though they caught a break when the government made a change to let coal have carbon permits for free to start off with. Gas utilities are better off, as they emit less carbon, but since coal gets some free carbon allowances upfront, their advantage will not be as big as I made out in my letter to you a month ago. (See, the problem with writing about potential legislation is the rules change every week.)

Still, I’d avoid coal producers or coal utilities. They wear big targets on their backs and can’t do much about it, except spend a lot of money. Bad for shareholders. There may be some very good ideas on the picks-and-shovel angle for coal, though. For example, a number of companies will sell equipment to clean up coal. And of course, the solar and wind guys are big winners.

Oil refiners. Losers. This is an industry in which it is hard to make money most of the time as it is. Now, under the new bill, refineries are really screwed. Basically, they are on the hook for about 44% of US carbon emissions. They would be among the biggest buyers of carbon emission allowances. I think with one stroke of the pen, the US government just made the US refining industry that much smaller. Lots of these older refineries will just have to close. US imports for gasoline will rise.

I think the refinery industry already sees the writing on the wall. This is one reason why Valero, the biggest US refinery, has been quick to get into the politically favored ethanol business. It’s also expanding overseas. Avoid the refineries.

Trading desks. Winners. It figures. As if the government doesn’t help financial firms enough, it is going to hand them a nice tomato in trading carbon credits. The head of Morgan Stanley’s US emission trading desk said: “Carbon, while relatively small, is a critical piece of our commodities offering.” So some financial firms with trading desks in carbon get a nice little payday.

To sum up, this is only the beginning. At the end of the day, this obsession with carbon footprints means that Americans are going to have to pay a lot more for products that use fossil fuels. It means we are going to pay a lot more for energy. Obama and his crew can draw up whatever fantasies they want, but they can’t repeal the laws of economics, which, like forces of nature, win out every time.



Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso and five Cabinet ministers concerned failed to reach a consensus Friday on a national midterm emissions reduction target despite the prime minister's plan to announce it next Wednesday.

The differences emerged chiefly between the Environment Ministry's hope to set an ambitious target and the industry ministry's demand for a lower target.

"There were differences in opinion between the ministers. I candidly think that we need to make efforts to put them together," Environment Minister Tetsuo Saito told a news conference, saying that he conveyed his view that a cut of 15-25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels would be desirable.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshihiro Nikai separately told reporters, "I asserted that it would not be appropriate to impose a tremendous figure on people by turning to an idealistic theory."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said, "Though we have to take both views into consideration, we naturally have to think about moving in a direction which is ambitious and exercising our leadership in tackling global warming."

Kawamura told a news conference that the participants did not reach consensus over which direction Japan should take.



China's official news agency has accused rich countries of shirking their duty to fight climate change and seeking to divide developing countries, warning that negotiations for a new global climate pact face deep disputes.

The commentary by China's state-run Xinhua news agency on Fiday comes while negotiations in Bonn seek to foster consensus ahead of a key conference in Copenhagen in December that aims to announce a new international agreement on global warming.

It also comes shortly before the chief U.S. climate change envoy, Todd Stern, arrives in Beijing for talks. China and the United States are the world's top two emitters of the greenhouse gases from human activity that are stoking global warming, and agreement between them is vital for a new pact.

But the official commentary, and earlier remarks by a senior Chinese negotiator, showed much divides Beijing from Washington over actions to contain greenhouse gas emissions. "A small number of developed countries have been constantly seeking to shirk their responsibilities and are hoping to revise the basic principles of the negotiations," said the commentary, after noting recent remarks by U.S. officials.

"The climate change negotiations involve all the countries in the world, and there are complex clashes of interests and some conflicts are deep-seated."



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


Saturday, June 06, 2009

Recently up on GRL: Cooling admitted

But "within a long-term warming trend", of course. Actually that is pretty right. Temperatures have been rising in a zigzag way ever since the Little Ice Age. But that rise began long before SUVs!

Is the climate warming or cooling?


Numerous websites, blogs and articles in the media have claimed that the climate is no longer warming, and is now cooling. Here we show that periods of no trend or even cooling of the globally averaged surface air temperature are found in the last 34 years of the observed record, and in climate model simulations of the 20th and 21st century forced with increasing greenhouse gases. We show that the climate over the 21st century can and likely will produce periods of a decade or two where the globally averaged surface air temperature shows no trend or even slight cooling in the presence of longer‐term warming.

Easterling, D. R., and M. F. Wehner (2009), Is the climate warming or cooling?, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L08706

Obama’s Green Delusions

The false promises of renewable energy

By Alex Alexiev

Standing in front of an array of photovoltaic solar panels at Nellis Air Force Base last Wednesday, President Obama gave us to understand that his vision for an America powered by clean, renewable energy and awash in green jobs is becoming a reality faster than anyone could have imagined. Nellis, near Las Vegas, is the home of the largest solar-energy plant in the Western Hemisphere and, in the president’s words, a “shining example” of what renewable energy can do to put our economy on a “firmer foundation for economic growth.” It is a success story that needs to be replicated “in cities and states across America,” Obama said, and he announced a “solar energy technology program” to do just that.

The figures do indeed look impressive at first sight. The $100-million plant was built without a penny of government money, we are told, yet it provides the base with electric power costing 2.2 cents per kilowatt/hour, which is less than one-fourth of the 9 cents that Nevada Power charges its other customers. The annual savings will amount to $1 million, guaranteed for 20 years. Proof positive, it seems, that our green future is now. Or is it?

Beyond these numbers, uncritically reported by the mainstream media, is the reality of a make-believe industry touted by environmental zealots, corporate freeloaders parading as entrepreneurs, and a president capable of staggering disingenuousness. If the Nellis solar project is a “shining example,” it is a shining example of everything that’s wrong with Obama’s green delusions. The project makes no economic sense on its own merits and, like all renewable-energy projects, was made possible only by a combination of government coercion and state and federal handouts at the expense of utility customers and the American taxpayer. The coercion in this case came in the form of a state mandate that Nevada utilities must obtain 20 percent of their power from hugely expensive renewable sources by 2015; the handouts came in the form of a 30 percent federal tax credit, accelerated depreciation rates, “solar energy credits,” and similar goodies. It is such government largesse — and the promise of more to come — that convinces the renewable-energy industry’s corporate welfare queens to line up behind dubious projects like Nellis.

In his speech at Nellis, President Obama asserted that he wants “everybody to know what we’re doing here in Vegas,” and he pointed to Germany as an example to follow in the solar business. He should have followed his own advice and looked more closely at the German example. After Germany guaranteed solar producers a rate seven times as high as the market rate, the country’s electric bill jumped by 38 percent in one year.

Obama also should have mentioned what happens to investors who fall for Washington’s green hype. For the two private companies involved in the Nellis project, it has not been a success story. SunPower Corp., the builder of the solar plant, has lost 75 percent of its market value in just the past year and is facing an uncertain future (to put it mildly). MMA Renewable Ventures, a San Francisco–based firm, which financed the project, was recently sold to the Spanish company Fotowatio for the fire-sale price of $19.7 million, after losing more than half of its business between 2007 and 2008.

The Spanish purchase of the dying MMA made no business sense except in one critical area: It allowed Fotowatio to establish a beachhead in the United States, which, with $20 billion of green-energy tax incentives in 2010 alone, increasingly looks like the world’s last refuge for solar freeloaders. Most European countries have seen the damage that green energy can do to their economies and are rapidly (if quietly) scaling back their support. This is especially true in the countries that have been leaders on solar and wind power. Both Germany and Spain have dramatically slashed their subsidies for renewables, and Spain has reduced its commitment to green power from 2400 megawatts in 2008 to 500 megawatts or less in 2009.

There is yet another lesson from Spain that Obama prefers not to discuss. The $100-million Nellis project created 200 jobs at a cost of $500,000 per job. The longer Spanish experience, according to a recent study from Juan Carlos University, shows a cost of $774,000 for each government-subsidized green job created since 2000. More disturbingly, for each of these jobs, 2.2 jobs in other industries were destroyed because of higher energy prices, not counting manufacturers who vote with their feet. This is surely a success story that Americans can do without.


Comment On Joe Romm’s Weblog On El Niño and Global Warming

Climate Progress has a weblog post by Joseph Romm titled “Breaking: NOAA puts out “El Niño Watch,” so record temperatures are coming and this will be the hottest decade on record“. This is an interesting and very bold forecast of record temperatures by Joe Romm, and, if this does occurs, it would substantially support his claims on the dominance of human-caused global warming. Only time will tell, of course, if this warming will occur.

However, unfortunately, he still does not understand that i) the appropriate metric to monitor global warming involves heat in Joules, most which occurs in the oceans (e.g. see), and ii) that the accumulation Joules in the upper ocean has not occurred since 2003 (e.g. see and see). Even Jim Hansen agrees that the ocean is the dominant reservoir for heat accumulation (e. g. see).

In Joe Romm’s weblog, there is the text: “As a side note: Roger Pielke, Sr.’s “analysis” of how there supposedly hasn’t been measurable ocean warming from 2004 to 2008 is uber-lame. In the middle of a strong 50-year warming trend, any clever (but cynical) analyst can connect an El Niño-driven warm year to a La Niña-driven cool year a few years later to make it look like warming has stopped. In fact, the latest analysis shows “that ocean heat content has indeed been increasing in recent decades, just like the models said it should.”

This text shows a failure to understand the physics of global warming and cooling. There are peer reviewed analyses that document that upper ocean warming has halted since 2003 (e.g. see and see). Even the last few years of the Levitus et al 2009 paper shows this lack of warming (see).

Joe Romm, since he disagrees with this, should present other observational analyses of the continued accumulation of heat content in Joules since 2003. He should also focus on this time period since the Argo network was established, as it is this data network which is providing us more accurate assessments of the heat content in the upper ocean than is found in the earlier data.

If he continues to use the global average surface temperature trends as the metric for global warming, he will convince us that he does not recognize i) that surface temperature, by itself, is not a measure of heat (e.g. see), and ii) that there are major remaining uncertainties and biases with the surface temperature data set (e.g. see, see and see).

He writes: “In the middle of a strong 50-year warming trend, any clever (but cynical) analyst can connect an El Niño-driven warm year to a La Niña-driven cool year a few years later to make it look like warming has stopped.”

He ignores that since 2003, global warming (the accumulation of Joules) has stopped. An objective scientist [as opposed to a "clever (but cynical) analyst"] would report this scientific observation. He would find more appreciation and respect for his viewpoints if he properly presented the actual observational finding, and discussed its implications as to where we are with respect to the accumulation of Joules over time.

I have proposed such an approach in my weblogs. See here and here.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

The Hidden Costs of Capping Emissions

"Suddenly it has become rather less appealing that we should divert trillions of dollars, pounds and euros into the fantasy that we could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 80 per cent. All those grandiose projects for `emissions trading', `carbon capture', building tens of thousands more useless wind turbines, switching vast areas of farmland from producing food to `biofuels' are being exposed as no more than enormously damaging and futile gestures, costing astronomic sums we no longer possess."

-By Christopher Booker, "2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved," December 29th, 2008.

If 2008 was the year global warming was disproved, 2009 may be the year that the agenda of radical environmentalism is laid to waste. As ALG News has reported, the scientific "consensus" around man-made global warming has unraveled like an old ribbon. And now, the economic "consensus" around it may be starting to unwind as well. With the economy in a clear downturn, the people are questioning the costs of going green. Suddenly it is not so fashionable to save the planet. It may become more important to restore economic growth than to strangle energy output.

It's simple, really. If financial capital was the lifeblood of the economy, energy is its food. And without it, or if it costs too much, nations the world over would be unable to sustain their peoples. The American people were given a powerful lesson on what energy price shocks can feel like this past summer, and they will not be eager to pay that price again.

By constraining the use not for conservation but out of ideological imperative, the economic consequences are negative: an additional price is attached to the use of energy. That additional cost is not the product of a supply shortage, but of regulation that constrains the use of that supply. And it is a cost that the economy simply cannot afford right now.

Carbon cap-and-trade, or other like restrictions on emissions, could cost the global economy trillions in excessive taxes, increased prices and restrictions. These costs are deliberate, the product of a policy that is designed to change people's behavior to use less carbon-based energy. That is the basic argument in favor of reducing carbon emissions: By increasing costs, the consumer will only be able to consume less.

But it's more like a dirty secret that advocates of reducing carbon emissions do not wish to be emphasized. And it is one that opponents of capping carbon emissions who wish to save the energy industries must point out: The costs of wasting precious capital in the midst of a global economic meltdown are unbearable.

In the end, there is a cap on how much the greens will be able to accomplish, and that will be directly proportional to how well the opponents of radical environmentalism capitalize upon the fissures in the scientific "consensus" on "man-made" climate change, and how well they promote the true costs of capping carbon emissions to the American people.


Australian States claim they will lose from Warmist scheme

STATE governments have released modelling showing they will be $2.2 billion a year worse off by 2012 under the federal Government's emissions trading scheme, with NSW and Queensland's coffers to be hardest hit. The modelling, by Access Economics, was delivered to last week's meeting of state leaders in Brisbane and publicly released yesterday as the House of Representatives passed legislation setting up the new emissions trading scheme.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said it would be a "matter for the states" if they wanted to pursue extra financial compensation from the commonwealth to make up for the impact of the scheme. She cited former prime minister Paul Keating's quote that it was unwise to come between a state premier and a bucket of money.

According to the modelling, which did not take into account the changes to the scheme announced by the Rudd Government early last month, higher costs and lower mining royalties will mean NSW loses 0.18 per cent of the gross state product it could otherwise anticipate, or $861 million a year, by 2013-14. Queensland would be $457million a year worse off, or 0.15 per cent of GSP. It shows that, proportionately, the Northern Territory will be the worst affected, losing 0.37 per cent of projected GSP, or $82million.

The release of the modelling came as uncertainty continued over whether failure by the Senate to pass the legislation before the lengthy winter break would constitute the first of two "rejections" necessary for it to become the trigger for a double-dissolution election. The Government insists the legislation has been exhaustively debated and scrutinised by Senate committees and two weeks should be ample time for Senate consideration.

"We have said for a number of months we want this legislation debated and voted on in June," Senator Wong said. "We think there has been plenty of debate, plenty of discussion. "The only calls for delay in this parliament are from (Opposition Leader) Mr (Malcolm) Turnbull, who wants to delay because he is unable to stand up to the sceptics in his own partyroom and to have a position on this legislation that is constructive."

But the clerk of the Senate, Harry Evans, said constitutional uncertainty would result if the Government tried to insist that a "failure to pass" the laws in the next two weeks of sittings constituted a rejection. "I don't think that would be reasonable but in the end it would come down to whether the Government could persuade the Governor-General it was reasonable," he said.

The issue is important because if the first vote on the bill is not taken until the Senate resumes in August, the second and final vote could be delayed until after the UN climate change meeting in Copenhagen in December, as the Opposition has demanded.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change, Greg Combet, had a third meeting with the coal industry yesterday without making any significant progress in resolving a dispute about compensation offered under the scheme.

Senator Wong is holding talks with the Greens to see whether she can secure passage of the scheme without the Senate support of the Opposition.


Stifling innovation

Despite the plethora of bad economic news this year, good news abounds for pro-regulatory, litigation-happy "consumer activists" on the left -- and their attorney camp-followers.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson recently announced her plan to subject chemicals in our environment to even more stringent risk assessments, chasing minuscule risks to human health for no real purpose. Her plan involves the IRIS program -- Integrated Risk Information System -- which will now be used to characterize health risks of chemicals, however tiny the exposure. The chemophobes running the EPA are once more taking the lead in promulgating junk science, likely in an effort to justify their request for a budget increase of 37%, amounting to over $10 billion.

It appears Jackson's unstated goal is to import here, by stealth, the European system, which employs the Precautionary Principle. This dogma asserts that substances in our environment are hazardous until proven otherwise, necessitating bans and product withdrawals until long-term studies prove them safe. This "better safe than sorry" tenet would lead to stagnation of new product development. What company with any sense would invest millions of dollars in formulating any truly new product, knowing that litigation and regulation will force them to delay marketing until some far-off approval from the EPA? Worse still, the "toxicity" of synthetic chemicals is inferred from high-dose rodent tests, bearing little or no relevance to human health.

While Jackson states that this overhaul is needed to improve "transparency" of risk assessment for public health entities, the real beneficiaries will be plaintiffs' attorneys, who will use these "risks" as a basis of litigation, alleging various adverse health effects. Even the threat of such lawsuits will likely cause many companies to cave in to activists' demands for product withdrawals or scary labeling -- with big settlements as part of the deal. None of this has anything to do with enhancing human health.

The new administration is pushing an anti-business agenda, cutting through resistance from industry and true consumer advocates. Recently, President Obama ruled that federal agencies must review regulations dating back to the Clinton years to eliminate some that relied on federal preemption (that is, even products deemed safe at the federal level will now be more easily subject to state-by-state lawsuits). With uniform federal-level regulations comes a stable business climate for development of innovative new products. Conversely, the imminent loss of such stability -- as federal dominance yields to a patchwork of unwieldy local laws -- will lead to risk-aversion and stagnation. Unmoored local standards will ultimately be deformed by persuasive trial lawyers and lay juries.

New product development will slow to a trickle -- consumer choice on a range of products will become the victim of stultifying intimidation from "consumer activists" and their coterie of lawyers, as has already been demonstrated in the area of innovative pharmaceuticals.

The Association of Trial Lawyers of America has lately refashioned itself as the "American Association for Justice," and its membership would have you believe they are now merely simple seekers of Truth and Justice -- but this tiger has not changed its stripes. The trial lawyers' concern with "the rule of law," which they claim motivates their new campaign against preemption, goes exactly as far as strategically necessary to produce big damage awards or settlements -- wrung from jury-fearing, meek corporate bottom-liners.

Add to this that Justice Souter, a relative moderate on many regulatory issues, will soon be replaced by the more "empathic" and lawsuit friendly Sonia Sotomayor, and we have a formula for even more trouble ahead.

In this climate, every time EPA -- with its new, stricter, more precautionary approach -- hints even in a non-committal fashion at the possible "toxicity" of some chemical or product, it will be inviting a wave of state-by-state lawsuits, with the plaintiffs stifling industry and likely getting a sympathetic hearing from the High Court at the end of the day. Let us hope Congress and the public are very cautious about embracing EPA's precautionary new mission.



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


Friday, June 05, 2009


An email from Petr Chylek [chylek@lanl.gov] advises that the paper abstracted below has just been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters (2009GL038777R). PDF copy available from Chylek. The paper shows that Arctic temperatures tell us little of general interest as they do not vary in accordance with temperatures elsewhere but do vary in accordance with changes in ocean currents

Arctic air temperature change amplification and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation

By Petr Chylek, C.K. Folland, G. Lesins, M. Dubey and M. Wang


Understanding Arctic temperature variability is essential for assessing possible future melting of the Greenland ice sheet, Arctic sea ice and Arctic permafrost. Temperature trend reversals in 1940 and 1970 separate two Arctic warming periods (1910-1940 and 1970-2008) by a significant 1940-1970 cooling period. Analyzing temperature records of the Arctic meteorological stations we find that (a) the Arctic amplification (ratio of the Arctic to global temperature trends) is not a constant but varies in time on a multi- decadal time scale, (b) the Arctic warming from 1910-1940 proceeded at a significantly faster rate than the current 1970-2008 warming, and (c) the Arctic temperature changes are highly correlated with the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) suggesting the Atlantic Ocean thermohaline circulation is linked to the Arctic temperature variability on a multi-decadal time scale.


The United States is not likely to enter into a new international treaty to reduce the emissions blamed for global warming without China and other major greenhouse-gas emitters on board, the Obama administration's chief climate negotiator said Wednesday. U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern told reporters in a conference call that China and other major developing countries are critical to making any international agreement work, and there is not going to be a new treaty to curb greenhouse gases without them. The stance is similar to one taken by the Bush administration which pulled out of the current climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, citing the lack of participation of developing countries.

"I would not say that the United States is going to race forward with major players like China on the sidelines," said Stern, the U.S. special envoy for climate change at the State Department. Other countries "don't want to come in without the United States, and the United States does not want to come in without them, or China, or the other main players."

Stern, along with White House science adviser John Holdren and assistant energy secretary David Sandalow, heads to China next week in an effort to boost cooperation between the two countries on clean energy technologies and find some common ground on a new international accord. The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, and countries are scheduled to meet in Copenhagen, Denmark in December to broker a replacement. The U.S. during the Bush administration pulled out of the Kyoto treaty, citing a lack of participation by developing countries and potential harm to the U.S. economy.

The Obama administration is willing to sign onto an agreement, and is already taking steps to reduce global warming pollution. But it too says the participation of developing countries is essential.

China and the United States are the world's largest emitters of climate-altering pollution, accounting for 40 percent of worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas. The culprit is the same in both places — a dependence on fossil fuels such as coal for electricity and an insatiable appetite for oil.

The trip marks the second high-profile visit to China by U.S. officials in recent weeks to talk climate change. Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other House Democrats traveled to China with a similar message: that the U.S. and China must work together to curb global warming. The House is currently working on legislation that would limit greenhouse gases for the first time, reducing emissions by roughly 80 percent by mid-century. Stern on Wednesday said that the U.S. must act to reduce emissions at home.


Scientist who boasted he could 'slaughter' skeptics in debate backs off

Warming Promoter Backs Off After Numerous Scientists Accept Debate Challenge

Professor Stephen Schneider of Stanford University, a prominent proponent of man-made global warming fears, appears to be backing off of his boast that he could "slaughter" skeptical scientists in a global warming debate. In a May 24, 2009 interview, Schneider publicly boasted any skeptical scientist would be "slaughtered in public debate" against him. But after many dissenting scientists happily took up the debate challenge, it now appears Schneider is shying away from any such debate.

"I certainly will not schedule some political show debate in front of a non-scientific audience," Schneider told the San Francisco Examiner in a follow up June 1, 2009 article. "A presidential like debate format with shallow staccato jibes and no nuanced arguments, no--confusion only in that style. I never do those anymore," Schneider explained.

Former Colorado State Climatologist Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. publicly accepted Schneider's global warming debate challenge just days after it was issued. "I would be glad to debate Dr. Schneider...he represents a narrow perspective on climate science," Pielke Sr. said on May 24, 2009.

"If [Climatologist] Roger [Pielke Sr.] wants a debate, he can set one up at the American Meteorological Society meeting or the American Geophysical Union meeting and if dates work I'll be happy to go and will encourage others like Ben Santer or Kevin Trenberth to join in. That I would do," Schneider now asserts.

Schneider explained: "Some of the skeptics are going ballistic over my admittedly too provocative word 'slaughter'--though given the framing I said I believe it would happen. But they misquote me in saying I challenged them to a debate. I challenged them to go to a legitimate scientific meeting with a knowledgeable audience and challenge from the floor with a room full of experts. I think they would be pretty unhappy with the outcome."

Update: Meteorologist Joe D'Aleo weighs in on Schneider's "terms" for a global warming debate: "In other words, like the sports teams that prefer to play in the friendly confines of their home park than at a hostile away team's stadium, Schneider insists on having the debate at one of the conferences attended by grant toting scientists and thus have a crowd of fellow alarmists to cheer him on.


Climatologist Rejects Global Warming as Cause of Plane Crash

Some nut has been claiming that the French airliner which crashed into the Atlantic crashed because global warming causes more storms and storms downed the plane. Since there has been no global warming since 1998, on that logic, global warming did NOT affect the plane

Dr. Michaels comments about the claim from a Russian scientist that man-made global warming may have caused the crash of Air France plane: ( See: 'Did global warming help bring down Air France flight 447?' -- 'Russian climatologist believes global warming played a significant part.' )

Dr. Michaels: "Perhaps someone should remind our Russian friend that computer models indicate that the upper tropoposphere should warm more than the surface there (the so-called upper tropopospheric hot spot). The last I heard that reduces the surface-upper air temperature gradient, which INCREASES stability, REDUCING convection.

The paper Douglass et al. couldn't find the UTHS and so concluded the models were systematically flawed. Santer et al. tortured the data and claimed that Douglass couldn't find it because his statistics were too straightforward. Santer's study, amazingly, published in 2008, only used data through 1999, although it was readily available through 2007. Wonder why?


U.S. House puts climate bill on quick pace for passage

Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives have put major environmental legislation on a fast-track, boosting chances a climate change bill will pass this month or next, leading lawmakers said on Wednesday. On May 21, the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved a bill requiring reductions of industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases of 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, from 2005 levels.

The climate change bill, along with healthcare reform, are top priorities of President Barack Obama, and House Democrats hope to approve both initiatives before an August recess.

The legislation would mark a major change in U.S. policy from the previous administration of President George W. Bush and a victory for activists seeking to put the brakes on what they fear is accelerating global warming that could induce more severe flooding and droughts and the melting of polar ice. But it is a delicate balancing act for Obama, who must weigh the environmental benefits against the expected costs new legislation would bring to both consumers and businesses in an economy still trying to fight its way out of recession.

Pushing ahead after the Energy and Commerce committee's action, House leaders are placing strict deadlines for other panels to review the controversial legislation in the hope of passing it quickly in the full House. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel told reporters he has been given a June 19 deadline for his panel to review the nearly 1,000 page bill and determine what changes it wants to make involving tax- and trade-related components. "We're going to make it," Rangel said of the June 19 date. But he added that members of his committee still have not decided what changes it might seek.


Meanwhile, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson told reporters Democratic leaders want to address farm-state lawmakers' concerns over a related Environmental Protection Agency proposal on ethanol and other biofuels. These lawmakers have been threatening to withhold their support for the climate change bill unless safeguards were achieved.

And the House Science and Technology Committee was seeking to approve its contribution to the bill as it debated legislation creating a federal climate control agency to improve knowledge of the problem and provide forecasts and warnings to the public about changes in weather and climate.

Representative Rick Boucher, who helped craft the climate bill moving through the House with provisions to protect the coal industry in states like his state of Virginia, said, "I think we'll have the votes" to pass the bill in the House in coming weeks, possibly this month. He told Reuters that the Senate was also "rapidly getting itself ready" to handle the complex legislation. Senate Democratic leaders have said they would try to pass a bill this year, although the schedule has been uncertain.


Australia: Swing Senator wavers on climate change legislation

Family First senator Steve Fielding, whose vote could be critical to the Rudd Government's emissions trading system, yesterday heard warnings of dire economic consequences if carbon trading schemes were introduced.

Wisconsin Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner told a climate change conference in Washington attended by Senator Fielding that electricity bills would double or triple under US cap-and-trade legislation. And he denounced the climate change movement as simply transferring wealth to developing countries.

Mr Sensenbrenner said that without China and India signing any climate change legislation, it would be foolish for the US or any other country to take the lead, arguing that capping emissions in the US would allow other countries to take an advantage.

"What we are seeing is the Third World using the collective guilt of the First World to have a massive transfer of wealth to help them fund their development," he told more than 300 delegates at the climate conference held by a US free-market thinktank called Heartland.org.

Mr Sensenbrenner was in China last week with Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and said he was discouraged. "What we heard from our Chinese interlocutors consistently is that they would never sign a treaty that mandates an emissions cut. They said they would do it their own way," he said. He said China would go its own way regardless of what was negotiated at the Copenhagen environmental summit in December. "If China and India stay out of it, we should stay out of it," Mr Sensenbrenner said.

Delegates heard from a number of scientists questioning whether man-made activity could influence the global climate, with keynote addresses citing solar flare activity rather than greenhouse gas emissions as a reason for global warming.

While climate change advocates challenge these claims, Senator Fielding said the arguments presented yesterday were giving him pause to reflect on the entire debate over climate change.

"I'm not sure we should be signing anything before Copenhagen," he said after listening to Mr Sensenbrenner. "If it's true climate change is driven more by solar changes, then I have to consider if (climate change legislation) is worth doing."



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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Tacking non-science on to the end of good science

Below are the last 3 paragraphs of a perfectly good BBC scientific report on the topography of part of the Antarctic continent.

"There's been a lot of climate change over the last 14 million years," Dr Siegert said. "And what we can say about this place in the middle of the Antarctic is that nothing has changed."

But, he warned, if levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide continued to rise, in around 1,000 years they will approach the same levels that existed "before there was persistent ice sheet in Antarctica".

"This puts the ice sheet into the context of global climate and what conditions are needed to grow an ice sheet," explained Dr Siegert. "The worrying thing is that we seem to be going back to carbon dioxide concentrations consistent with there being a lot less ice around."


The author must have known that he was speaking nonsense but no doubt felt obliged to toe the official line or lose his funding. He simply assumes a linear relationship between CO2 and temperature, quite ignoring at least two facts: 1) CO2 levels have been rising sharply in the last 10 years when temperatures have in fact been trending downwards; 2). On some occasions in the geological past, CO2 levels have been 10 times higher than now, and those times were ICE ages! It is sad to see scientists compelled into dishonesty by politics. We condemn how that happened under socialists like Stalin and Hitler but it happens under modern-day Leftist pressure too. We are not far off a Fascist State -- JR

A fine example of Warmist methodology

An email from DuPree Moore [dupreemoore@bellsouth.net] regarding Warmist enthusiast Andrew Glikson.

Glikson takes a brief intermediate warming trend which occurred at the end of the 20th century, and extrapolates it indefinitely into the future. He claims that the rate of warming is unprecedented. Tipping points and catastrophes are everywhere.

In fact it was an entirely unremarkable intermediate trend, very similar to one which occurred earlier in the 20th century. Those two trends were separated by an intermediate cooling trend of similar magnitude and duration, but opposite sign. So Mr. Glikson's trend merely brought temperature back up to where it was before. It is a statistical tossup whether the hottest temperature of the 20th century occurred during the 1990's or the 1930's.

Glikson ignores the climate record for the period when we have the most reliable data, namely the past 3000 years, including the earlier decades of the 20th century. That record shows several periods when temperature and warming rate were significantly higher than the late 20th century. There were no tipping points, no climate catastrophes of any sort.

Glikson finds that record inconvenient, so he goes back over a million years to find what he alleges to be a similar set of conditions, which of course resulted in catastrophe. During which decades of that ancient time, precisely, does he find this brief correlation? One is reminded of a comment by novelist James Fenimore Cooper that the safest place to set the action of a novel is on the moon, because there is no danger of anyone finding any contrary evidence about conditions there.

Glikson seems not to notice that the intermediate warming trend upon which he stakes his professional reputation as a climate forecaster came to an end about ten years ago. He ignores the data before and after his chosen period. That is not unusual for this debate. Partial data sets are the stock in trade of global warming advocates.

Energy price deceit

Congress tries to hide its cap-and-trade energy price increases

Last month, leading Congressional climateer, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, pushed out a sweeping 1000-page bill that aims to dramatically reshape how Americans will use energy in the 21st century. At the heart of the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act is a cap-and-trade proposal for limiting the emissions of carbon dioxide by American industry and consumers. Carbon dioxide, produced by burning fossil fuels and chopping down forests, is building up in the atmosphere where it is thought be the chief cause of man-made global warming.
The ACES Act would establish an artificial carbon market by setting a limit on the amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted each year. Beginning in 2012, a national cap—or total maximum CO2 emissions—would be set and then ratcheted downward annually. Under ACES, the U.S. would emit 17 percent less carbon dioxide in 2020 than it did in 2005, eventually falling to 83 percent less than emitted in 2005 by 2050.

Electric and gas utilities, cement plants, steel foundries, and other companies would be required to have one emissions permit for every ton of CO2 discharged from their smoke stacks. Under a cap-and-trade scheme, emissions permits can be allocated and/or auctioned up to the set cap. Once allocated, the market allows companies emitting less than their quota to sell their excess permits to emitters needing to buy extra to meet their cap. This process sets a price on each ton of carbon dioxide.

The central fact of the cap-and-trade proposal is that it will increase the price of energy. If energy prices don't go up, the goal of getting energy producers, manufacturers, and consumers to shift away from carbon generating fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) toward low-carbon sources of energy (nuclear, solar, wind, conservation) will not be achieved.

Whatever else they are, the folks in Congress are not stupid when comes to protecting their electoral viability. They are painfully aware of the fact that, while Americans express support for regulations to reduce greenhouse gases, 77 percent in a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll declared themselves either "very concerned" or "concerned" that "federal regulation of greenhouse gases could substantially raise the price of things you have to pay for."

So in an attempt to ward off voter displeasure over higher energy prices brought about by Congressionally-mandated carbon rationing, the denizens on Capitol Hill have tacked on a number of Rube Goldbergesque policy obfuscations designed the mask the price increases. These include subsidies and tax breaks for retrofitting buildings to use less energy, setting energy conservation appliance standards, subsidies for higher mileage automobiles, and imposing a renewable fuel standard on utility companies, among many other things.

The chief technique that Congress is using to hide the mandated price increase in electricity and natural gas from voters is giving away free emissions permits to local electricity and gas distribution companies. In the ACES bill, some 30 percent of emissions permits are allocated free to local distribution companies who are supposed to sell the permits and then pass along the money to consumers as a lump sum rebate to offset their higher utility bills. Why a lump sum?

As Harvard University environmental economist Robert Stavins explains in his article on "The Wonderful Politics of Cap-and-Trade," the hope is that such rebates will compensate "consumers for increases in electricity prices, but without reducing incentives for energy conservation." Even if they are getting a rebate, higher monthly electric bills will still likely annoy voters. But let's assume that this scheme actually works as intended and blunts household displeasure about paying more for electricity and natural gas.

There's one big problem: The proposal merely shifts the price paid by consumers for energy from local utilities to other products and services. For example, Resources for the Future economists Rich Sweeney and Dallas Burtraw calculate that auctioning all of the carbon emissions permits would result in a price of $20.91 per metric ton. However, allocating 30 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions permits free to local utilities as proposed under the ACES bill would mean lower electricity prices, and lower prices would mean more consumption. The result is that there would 24 percent fewer emissions reductions in the electricity sector than would have been the case had all permits been auctioned.

The higher emissions in the electricity sector make it harder for other sectors of the economy—automobiles, construction, steel, cement, food processing, retail, agriculture—to stay below the national cap on carbon dioxide emissions. And this pushes up the demand for the remaining permits, which boosts their prices. Sweeney and Burtraw calculate that the requirement for increased emissions reductions in other sectors under a national cap would raise the allowance price to $26.90 per metric ton. The result, according to Sweeney and Burtraw, is that "this raises the costs of goods and services from these sectors."

So this plan to allocate "free" permits could well end up costing consumers even more than they "save" on their household electricity and natural gas bills. Fearing the electoral consequences of honesty, Congress is trying to hide the fact that they are increasing energy prices by distracting the American people with a torrent of rebates, subsidies, and tax incentives, along with plenty of happy talk about renewable energy and creating "green jobs." The result is that Congress has devised a complicated and inefficient scheme where distributing a "free" commodity actually makes products and services more expensive than it would otherwise have to be. That's truly "wonderful politics"!


Reading environmental propaganda to kids...

Comment from a British mother

Oh dear. Both my children have been fans of the Topsy and Tim books - as I was many years before (and yes, Miss Terry is still teaching them, and they are still at school with Andy Anderson and Josie Miller). When we were lucky enough to recently win a book token in a raffle, I said they could both choose a book of their choice. My son chose a brand new Topsy and Tim called Topsy and Tim Go Green. As I said, oh dear.....

"Miss Terry says the world is all messed up with rubbish and fumes and stuff," Tim tells Mummy at the opening of the book, and she suggests recycling as a solution. So far, so-so. But it's the rest of the book which made me groan. Perhaps it's the bit when Dad chooses organic carrots, telling Tim "no nasty chemicals on these" or when Tim points out how cars make the air "all smelly and yucky." Dad of course suggests biking to work from now on. It's strange how he didn't realise the benefits until Tim told him so.

I usually enjoy reading books to my son, but I found this one hard work. To me it was was pure children's propaganda, and while I'm all for recycling and doing our bit, I'm not convinced that children (and their parents) should be so blatantly preached at through the books they read. And this Topsy and Tim book, although one of the worst offenders, is nowhere near the only one.

Publishers have clearly realised that "green" books work. We also have "Peppa Pig Recycling Fun" on our bookshelf, and Dr Seuss's The Lorax (written way back in 1971, and which is in a different class). On a larger level, Simon and Schuster have set up their own Little Green Books imprint. Their aim is to "teach kids to be eco-friendly".

As I said, it's not that I don't want to save the world (would anyone admit that they want to destroy it?). I just don't like being patronised by children's books. I don't mind them having messages, although subtle is better. It was the blatant nature of the Topsy and Tim books which got me (and funnily enough, especially the organic carrots, as many families can't afford to go organic and I found this particularly unhelpful).

I'm convinced there are ways to pop messages into books, even for young children, in a more subtle way. Look at the themes of "being different is okay" in Kevin Henkes Chrysanthemum or to "be happy with what you've got" in A Squash and a Squeeze. Or how about "not to run away from your parents just because you think you're big enough" (!) in Little Rabbit Lost (one of my favourites).

And you know what? I don't think children like to be preached to either. My son hasn't asked for his new Topsy and Tim to be read to him again (now that is a waste of paper) because the story isn't good and nothing really happens. To be honest, he also knows all about recycling - we have a box, he learns about it at nursery etc - so there was nothing new there either. If you're going to write a book with a message, I'd suggest making it clear, but not forgetting about the characters and the story.

Even books which do have an obvious message or point to make can be okay. I was recently sent two stories of Monkey Lou, a new kind of "green" superhero (you can see him above). Although they are picture books, these are probably for slightly older readers, as they are quite wordy, and I have to admit that I first opened them with dread. Well, I was expecting a lot more propaganda.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. The stories do, obviously have an environmental theme, but they aren't too "in your face". They build up the characters first, add in some tension and impart information at the same time - pretty impressive. Even the list of "interesting facts" at the end are, well, interesting. And my son has requested them numerous times already.

So, while I'm not saying these books are perfect, they have realised that it is the story which engages a child - not just issues to beat their parents with! Topsy and Tim, take note.


Australian "Green" bureaucrats victimizing blacks

A $15 MILLION Howard government project to enable Aboriginal people on Cape York to build their own homes has been stalled for more than two years because the Queensland Government is insisting that trees in the vast unpopulated region cannot be cleared. The delay has become so serious that Hopevale's Mayor, Greg McLean, will be without a home in six months because he has to give back the one he is renting to his sister, who is returning to the community from Cairns where she has had to live to receive thrice-weekly dialysis treatment for kidney failure. But with a dialysis machine now being installed at nearby Cooktown hospital, she can return to her home and get her treatment there.

Mr McLean and his wife, Joan, expected the freehold home development project in Hopevale would have proceeded and they would have purchased their own home, but not a blade of grass has been cut on the 200ha block. Howard government indigenous affairs minister Mal Brough gained approval for the development in March 2007 and $15million was provided to cover the infrastructure costs - surveying, roads, sewage, water and electricity, with Indigenous Business Australia as the lead agency handling the proposal and managing the funding.

The Queensland Government ordered an environmental study of the block owned in freehold title by the Hopevale Council, which bought it several decades ago from a cattle grazier whose family had owned it for more than a century. The state Government has told Hopevale that because the block is forest country, it cannot be cleared unless the council provides a similar area of cleared country for revegetation. However, so little of the 110,000ha of land owned under native title by Hopevale people has ever been cleared that there is no such block available - so a bureaucratic green tape deadlock has been reached and no work done.

Hopevale has a severe housing shortage with 1700 residents crammed into 224 homes. No new homes have been built for three years, and because of land tenure disputes with the Government, all the homes must be rented and nobody can buy one and own it.

Mr McLean yesterday said that home ownership by indigenous people should be more than just a dream. "I have this week had to complete a tenancy agreement to try to get a rental home here, but there are none available," Mr McLean said. "My wife and I had the reasonable expectation that this housing estate known as Miller's Block would be developed with the money that Mal Brough got for Hopevale, but that has not happened."

Mr Brough, who is no longer in parliament, yesterday said it was appalling that the project had been allowed to stall through government ineptitude and bureaucratic bungling. "Enabling Aboriginal and Islander people to own their own homes and provide for their families is something that is pivotal to getting rid of welfare dependency and giving them pride and dignity," he said.

"This was a farm for more than 100 years - it is not pristine rainforest. It is unbelievable that government bungling has stalled this project and the money that the Howard government provided is sitting in a bank account somewhere. We have the temerity to demand that indigenous people get their act together, but the fact is, as is shown in this case, it is the Government that cannot get its act together.

"You just cannot keep doing this to people - building them up and then putting artificial barriers in front of them. What does the Government really want from these people? Do they want them to live in sub-standard conditions or are we actually going to do something about it, as distinct from just continuing to talk and wring our hands?"


The Green dream

The “Green Dream” is rapidly devolving into a “Green Nightmare” of zero-results foolishness, corruption, rent-seeking, and political destabilization. Good intentions do not obviate bad results - as physics has this strange habit of always winning. And those bad results are spilling out in all sorts of directions that go far beyond the mere supplying of energy.

Another nation which is frequently held up as a model for “green energy” is Germany; this is particularly notable - since for much of North America northern, foggy Germany is a closer climatic analog than is warm, sunny Spain. So how is that one working out?
The world looks to Germany to be a leader in Green Energy. There’s been a great deal of hype surrounding Chancellor Angela Merkel’s very ambitious goals of dramatically reducing the county’s emissions by 2020. Yet the German experience should also provide some pause to President Obama and others proposing such changes in the United States. It turns out that goals are potentially unrealistic, perhaps even dangerous, for numerous reasons. One reason that makes them so unrealistic is that they are seriously hamstrung by effectively cutting off the single largest source of CO2-free energy available anywhere in the world right now: Nuclear Power.

This reflects how much Germany has been influenced by green politics. In the years of the Socialist-Green government stretching from 1998 – 2005, nuclear power was considered an anathema. The Green party has its roots in the anti-nuclear power movement of the seventies. One of the most important items on their agenda when they came into power was to completely eliminate Germany’s use of nuclear power in the now infamous Atomaustieg or Nuclear exit which mandated that Germany no longer use nuclear power by the year 2020.

Much of that should sound familiar on this side of “the pond” as well. But to clarify a key aspect, in 1998, as a condition of joining a coalition government headed by Gerhard Schröder’s Social Democrats, the Green Party demanded a concession that Germany would shut down all of its nuclear power plants. This was pure politics, and was simply an attempt to impose an ideology onto reality. There have been numerous consequences, such as:
Ironically Germany remains one of the leading countries when it comes to nuclear technology. Areva, France’s nuclear leviathan has a large R&D facility here in Germany…. The German engineers working here in Erlangen are regularly sent abroad to help with the building and maintenance of nuclear plants throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

I’ve actually dined with German nuclear engineers in Kyiv (Kiev), who shake their heads in amazement that they are spending most of their time these days traveling to nuclear projects in Ukraine and Russia, with nothing to do at home. (Similarly, nuclear engineering Ph.Ds I know who work at the nuclear power R&D center at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee have long noted that by far the greatest interest in their work comes from…. China and Taiwan.)

But, ultimately, green fantasies can’t keep the lights on. So if you want to de-nuclearize, what happens?
Germany’s desire to reduce greenhouse gases and live without nuclear power has taken some almost absurd turns over the years. For one thing, Germany appears to be turning to its single cheap and abundant supply of energy, albeit a very dirty one, coal. Germany has both some cleaner anthracite and a lot of very dirty bitumen mines. These mines provide an enormous portion of Germany’s electricity….

To meet the country’s electric power needs with nuclear power off the table, Germany is being forced to build more plain old coal-fired power plants. Great, isn’t it?
In addition to wind, the German greens have been trying to believe that solar power is workable. However, as noted above, there is one very significant problem:
The single most absurd aspect of the Green’s [sic] desire to eliminate Germany’s reliance of [sic] nuclear power are massive subsidies that it has provided for both solar and wind power generation. Germany, while not the gloomiest country in Europe, is not exactly sunny. It has huge annual amounts of precipitation and dark, grey winters.

Does that sound familiar? It should to anyone in the more northerly parts of North America - where sunshine is a rather scarce commodity.

But perhaps the most frightening aspect of all goes beyond the silliness and hideous expense of “alternative energy.” The mindless drive for “green energy” is leading to even more disastrous consequences:
Germany has shunned nuclear and coal in an attempt to use wind and solar. Renewable sources are not only much more expensive but also cannot begin to provide the amount of energy at economical rates. Germans are also big fans of natural gas but the problem is Germany has very little of it. Germany has had to import its natural gas, some from fairly reliable partners like the Netherlands and the United Kingdom but mostly from an increasingly assertive and authoritarian Russia.

So rather than promote independence in energy, Germany’s green policies are making it ever more dependent on an autocracy.

This moves the mindlessness of “green energy” beyond the problem of economic waste - to one of dangerous geopolitical consequences. In Germany’s case, the unfulfillable green fantasy is forcing Germany to make up the difference with, among other things, large amounts of imported Russian natural gas. As a consequence, Germany is increasingly becoming “Finlandized” and virtually a client state of Putin’s Russia. Germany is increasingly acting as a sort of Russian interests section inside the EU and NATO (neither of which is Russia a member); as a stunning example, last year Germany used its veto power inside NATO to more-or-less single-handedly block all NATO efforts to even begin the process of opening membership paths for Ukraine and Georgia - two vulnerable post-Soviet states that are frantically trying to build bridges to “the West” as protection against yet another re-absorption into the latest rendition of the Russian empire.

In addition, Germany is planning to join Russia in building a direct (and ecologically-questionable) gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea - to bring Russian natural gas directly to Germany, bypassing Germany’s fellow EU member countries in eastern Europe.

Not surprisingly, these events are (justifiably) setting off alarm bells across eastern Europe - where episodes of Russo-German “cooperation” in the not-too-distant past (such as the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement of 1939) are still remembered. Will Germany be all too happy to bargain-away the “new Europe” eastern countries (and fellow EU members) back into a tacitly-acknowledged status of being inside the “Russian sphere of influence” in exchange for natural gas supplies? Given the German behavior inside NATO with regard to Ukraine and Georgia, that’s an entirely legitimate concern. It’s strange to see how the mindless German drive for “green energy” is leading - via a pigheaded chain of causality - to the political destabilization of central and eastern Europe.

But let’s move on. Germany is an obviously-poor setting for solar energy. In contrast, sunny Australia seems to be a good location. In Australia, there is a plan in place that should sound familiar. Householders are given a large subsidy for the installation of private solar panels - with one of the notions being that when panels are generating electricity not needed by the household, that surplus electricity can be sold back onto the grid. How is this plan working out?
Brisbane environmental lawyer Jo Bragg and her ["]partner["], Gary Kane, spent $28,000 on three roof panels to generate solar power for their home in the inner Brisbane suburb of Highgate Hill. After receiving a federal government rebate of $8000, they hoped to recover their investment in a cleaner planet within a few years by selling excess power into the mains electricity grid. In the three months to April, they used 1384 kilowatt hours and produced 388 kilowatt hours of excess power, for which they received the princely sum of $12.96 after taxes.

Looking at the exchange rate as of last Friday (29 May), the Australian dollar is trading at about $0.78 U.S. So to translate to U.S. dollars, the panels cost about $22,000, the Australian federal government provided a rebate of about $6,200, and in three months of use they received a little more than $10 for the power their system returned to the grid. At that rate, it will take nearly 400 years to recoup the investment (and that has to assume no further maintenance or upgrading costs). Naturally, the response from Ms. Bragg is that more subsidies are required - but let’s not go there.

Of course, one important aspect of solar panels is that they don’t just fall from the sky in whole form. They have to be manufactured; the manufacturing processes involved are very similar to those used in the semiconductor industry. These processes require the presence of a lot of very nasty materials, chemicals, and gases - both as inputs and as outputs; the groundwater contamination problems at the sites of many “original” (1950s/1960s) semiconductor manufacturing facilities are now well-known.

Well, for some reason, the manufacturing infrastructure for solar technology - for both input materials and for panel manufacturing - seems to be migrating (to lamentation from some other jurisdictions) to China. Hmm. Why might that be the case?
The first time Li Gengxuan saw the dump trucks from the nearby factory pull into his village, he couldn’t believe what happened. Stopping between the cornfields and the primary school playground, the workers dumped buckets of bubbling white liquid onto the ground. Then they turned around and drove right back through the gates of their compound without a word. This ritual has been going on almost every day for nine months, Li and other villagers said.

In China, a country buckling with the breakneck pace of its industrial growth, such stories of environmental pollution are not uncommon. But the Luoyang Zhonggui High-Technology Co., here in the central plains of Henan Province near the Yellow River, stands out for one reason: It’s a green energy company, producing polysilicon destined for solar energy panels sold around the world. But the byproduct of polysilicon production — silicon tetrachloride — is a highly toxic substance that poses environmental hazards. “The land where you dump or bury it will be infertile. No grass or trees will grow in the place. . . . It is like dynamite — it is poisonous, it is polluting. Human beings can never touch it,” said Ren Bingyan, a professor at the School of Material Sciences at Hebei Industrial University.

That’s nasty stuff - with nasty consequences. But once again, we can see the consequences that flow from mindless “green” drives and the subsidies that they require - in this case, horrible environmental contamination in China is being caused by subsidies foisted onto the “problem” and artificially inflating demand. These sorts of chemical byproducts can be dealt with safely - those methods are already known. But they are rather expensive - so, not surprisingly, solar component manufacturing is naturally migrating to jurisdictions that have lax environmental laws and no open political processes for the affected citizens to stop the contamination - a sad reality of what is supposed to be a big step up in environmental care.

So while China is becoming home to the ugly realities of solar component fabrication, and is well-known for its rapid construction of more and more new coal-fired electric power plants, it is also making large efforts to expand its nuclear power capacity:
China’s nuclear power sector will triple in size over the next decade. According to the latest data from the National Energy Administration, China will activate 24 new reactors by 2020. That new capacity should allow the country to more than quadruple the quantity of electricity it generates from fission. With 11 reactors now in place, China has about 9.1 gigawatts of nuclear capacity. Within a decade, that capacity is expected to hit 40 GW, thereby doubling nuclear’s share of the Chinese electric market from 2 percent to 4 percent. The latest units being built are at the Sanmen Nuclear Power Plant in Zhejiang province. The three-phase scheme, with an investment of more than $5.9 billion earmarked for the first phase, will incorporate the application of the third-generation pressurized water reactor technology AP1000 introduced from US-based Westinghouse.

In contrast to the solar component mess described above, China is wisely choosing to import (safe and reliable) nuclear engineering technology from the United States (and, in other projects, from France and Germany). And as I noted above, friends who work in nuclear engineering R&D at Oak Ridge National Lab have long noted that most of the interest in their work comes from China and Taiwan.

But it’s not only China - a similarly-rapid ramping-up of the construction of nuclear power plants is also underway in South Africa:
Eskom appears to be kickstarting its massive nuclear energy plans again. The utility, which halted its nuclear bidding programme for Nuclear-1 in December last year, has now revised its application to the environmental authorities, asking to be allowed to combine authorisations to develop Nuclear-1, Nuclear-2 and Nuclear-3 power stations at all three coastal sites earmarked for the nuclear programme.

The wider world seems to have figured what to do to get the safest, most-reliable electricity at (this is important) the lowest cost. Meanwhile…. we haven’t picked on wind turbines in awhile (or in this essay at all), so let’s stop for a moment and rectify that shortcoming.

They “explode!”

On calm days, they burst into flames!

In that first one, it’s interesting to see one of the turbine blades fly off and scythe down the turbine tower like a blade of grass. But the second one is rather disturbing - since it’s obvious from both the other windmills and from the nearly-vertical rise of the smoke pall that this is happening on a calm day. Are wind turbines a spontaneous fire hazard? I don’t know, but it’s an interesting question to ask (and have answered) - given the “plans” kicking around to put these things all over the heavily forested ridgelines of various mountainous parts of the country.

But in equally serious matters, the “wind bubble” is showing unmistakable signs of bursting. For example:
The UK’s only wind turbine manufact­uring plant is to close, dealing a humili­ating blow to the government’s promise to support low-carbon industries. Vestas, the world’s biggest wind energy group, said today that it would close its Isle of Wight facility, which employs about 700 people and makes blades for wind farms in the US. The group had planned to convert the factory in Newport so it could make blades for the British market, but said this morning that the paralysis gripping the industry meant that orders had ground to a halt. Such low demand could not justify the investment, Ditlev Engel, the chief executive, told the Guardian.

When something requires huge subsidies to be viable, a sharp recession has a way of putting a stop to those subsidies - and wind power just isn’t viable without massive subsidies. This implies that wind power is a racket - basically, a great way of taking taxpayer monies (via subsidies) and directing them into your own pocket. Well, if that’s indeed the racket in question, what kind of “organization” might take an interest in getting in on a few pieces of the action?
Anti-Mafia magistrates in Sicily have opened a sweeping investigation into the wind power sector where local officials, entrepreneurs and crime gangs are suspected of collusion in the construction of lucrative wind farms before their eventual sale to multinational companies. Italian and EU subsidies for the building of wind farms and the world’s highest guaranteed rates, €180 ($240, £160) per kwh, for the electricity they produce have turned southern Italy into a highly attractive market exploited by organised crime.

The creation of jokes (and other related forms of humor) will be left as an exercise for the reader.

But none of this should really be a surprise - when you dump large amounts of “free money” on the floor, various devious characters will appear and find ways to game the system to channel great gobs of that free money into their own pockets.

Another good example of this kind of “gaming-of-the-system” (link is to a .pdf file) is:
…. it has now become apparent that China is creating HFCs [hydrofluorocarbons - ed.] – with 12,000 times the global warming potential of CO2 – for the purpose of being paid to destroy them under Kyoto. This is what such schemes have always created, from the British in India offering bounties for poisonous cobras – which led to mass breeding of the creatures – to the modern-day version of that ploy.

To translate that into street English, various players in China (and apparently in India as well) have looked carefully at various incarnations of payments to polluting countries - in the guise of “greenhouse gas emission reduction payments.” Seeing that the cost of manufacturing the offending substances (in this case, HFCs) is much less than the payments earned for their destruction, these players are cranking up the production of HFCs for the sole purpose of then being paid a very nice “profit” for immediately destroying them. This is probably procedurally correctable - but it tells us (once again - plus ça change and all that) that all attempts to promote inherently-uncompetitive “alternative energies” will - by their very nature - set up systems that can be gamed and exploited by fraudsters.

The games of “Mafia Wind” and HFC creation-and-destruction are obviously feeding some nice returns into certain pockets. But ultimately they are small potatoes; the real big money (and big opportunity for cheating one’s way to undue influence) is provided by various “cap-and-trade” proposals. How do we know that? Well, just from recent experience with another cap-and-trade area:

A woman who traded air pollution credits among Southern California businesses admitted in federal court today that she defrauded a New York investment firm. Anne Masters Sholtz, 40, of Bradbury, pleaded guilty this afternoon to one count of wire fraud, a charge that carries a potential penalty of five years in federal prison. By pleading guilty, Sholtz admitted her involvement in a scheme in which she used forged documents and her knowledge of trading pollution credits to defraud AG Clean Air, a New York-based company that trades in energy credits.

That was four years ago, but the lesson is clear - if you keep a dirty kitchen, you will attract roaches.

Of course, we’re also now finding out that if you hand something like cap-and-trade over to Congress, it quickly transforms itself into cap-and-pork:
On May 15th Henry Waxman and Edward Markey, the Democratic point-men on climate change in the House of Representatives, unveiled a bill that would give away 85% of carbon permits for nothing, with only 15% being auctioned.

Oops! The permits will now be handed out as pork to favored interests - and the Obama budget plans now have a $600 billion hole in them (since the “take” from auctioning permits won’t be there). Leave it to Congressional leftists to take a bad response to a completely non-existent problem - and make things even worse.

But just as important, when one boils away all the fluffy gauze of rhetoric that gets spun around cap-and-trade, one basically finds that it amounts to a crippling energy tax. Not surprisingly, this is equally crippling to economic development and job creation.

A good example is presently unfolding in Louisiana. Nucor is (surprisingly) now the nation’s largest steel producer. Nucor has always been a well-run company, and has been the most visibly-successful of the “new steel” corporations - those who, rather than using large blast furnaces and the rawest of raw materials, use electric arc furnaces and scrap steel as the input. Since they do not face the constraint of requiring easy access to iron ore, coke, and limestone, “mini-mill” operators such as Nucor have a great deal of geographic flexibility in where they choose to locate their facilities.

Early in 2008, Nucor announced that it was going to build a new steel mill - with a total direct investment of $2 billion and the direct creation of 700 jobs. Due to the economic downturn, the construction of that mill is on hold - pending a revival of the demand for steel. Nucor has boiled the site selection down to two locations - Louisiana and Brazil. While they wait, the choice may be forced by any cap-and-trade legislation coming out of Washington:
Global demand for iron/steel will be met one way or another so the Nucor facility or something like it will be built somewhere in the world (by Nucor or someone else)…. If this facility is built in the U.S. by Nucor, it will be the most efficient, most environmentally friendly facility of its kind in the world - a facility utilizing “best available control technology” (BACT) as defined by the U.S. EPA.

Nucor runs a good ship. But there are realities in the world - and not every ship is run as well as is Nucor:
If a facility like this is built in another country [by someone other than Nucor - ed.], it is very likely to have less stringent emission control equipment because environmental standards are lower in Brazil and many other countries versus the U.S. There is a significant risk that adoption of a new industrial greenhouse-gas control policy by the U.S., without similar commitments from other countries, could hurt both our economy and global climate change [sic - ed.] because it could encourage large manufacturing operations to be developed in countries that have lower environmental standards than the U.S.

There are two take-aways from this:

1) If Nucor builds the plant in Brazil rather than Louisiana, they will build it to meet high standards - the only difference is that no jobs will be created in the U.S.

2) If Nucor doesn’t build this plant, other (less-scrupulous) players will meet the demand for steel but do so in a much more environmentally-detrimental way. (This is basically what is happening with the location of polysilicon-for-solar-components manufacturing in remote parts of China.)

That’s what these sorts of “cap-and-trade” schemes boil down to for regular folk - the jobs get exported, and in many circumstances the net environmental impact is even worse. But in any case, this entire problem compresses down to a frightening reality - the constraints are all based on rationality and real constraints…. and these are things that various “green fantasies” not only choose to ignore - they must ignore them to continue in existence.

An example of the level of silly irrationality to which greenism has sunk was recently provided by (of all outfits) Domino Sugar - which recently announced that it was selling carbon-free sugar. I don’t like to put in a non-functional link, but I will on the odd chance that it comes back. That’s the link to the company’s recent announcement, and one can only assume that it was pulled in (deserved) embarrassment after receiving a good deal of (deserved) ridicule - but the vigilant Anthony Watts has preserved a visual record here.

This is, of course, great fun. The basic form of a sugar molecule is C6H12O6, and the combination molecule of “sucrose” (plain old table sugar) is C12H22O11. So “carbon-free sugar” is…. water. So we now have carbon-free sugar - and doubtless carbon-free ethanol cannot be far behind. Apparently, there’s been little progress on carbon-free charcoal - although that one should be rather easy.

Okay, I’ll stop the fun there - and note that the Tiger has a surprising number of obtuse readers who can’t handle a joke. We all know what’s really going on here, but the way it came out is unforgivably silly. I’ll just let Tony Watts provide the non-punchline:
Ok, I’m being a bit extreme, I realize the idea is to promote a carbon neutral production of sugar. But really, couldn’t the marketing people at Domino realize how stupid this claim sounds? I’ll bet the guys at the Domino company labs are having a fit. I’d love to see the emails that went flying when they learned of this one. Beakers were probably flying across the lab too. But some companies will do anything to appear green these days, because they want to keep that “other green footprint” high. Ah, the sweet smell of success.


That’s a lot of turf to cover, and it’s difficult to come up with an appropriate summary. Perhaps the best one that can be offered is to ponder the common thread that seems to run through all of these stories - and of the “green fantasy” in general. The more contact that the various “green dreams” have with reality, the more they appear to be a modern-day form of some sort of “children’s crusade.” Basic aspects of simple physics have to be willfully ignored - and that’s on top of the need to also ignore basic realities of economics, politics, and sociology.

During my travels around the world, I’m frequently invited to lecture to university engineering students. One of the general notions of engineering that I always try to convey is that good engineering - on a day-to-day basis - requires a level-headed understanding of constraints and trade-offs; in particular, it is necessary to understand the trade-offs inherent in any challenge, and to manage those trade-offs to best advantage for the situation at hand. Constraints provide the limits - and serve to demarcate the boundaries beyond which some genuinely new innovation will be required.

“Green energy” requires intentional neglect of both trade-offs and constraints. The present trade-offs are very poor, and the constraints are also a very harsh reality. The most important need would be some fundamentally-different event grounded in physics - comparable to the late-19th century determination that matter could be converted to energy. However, even with that finding, it took another half-century to achieve a viable technology. With nothing new appearing in the realm of fundamental physics, it is very unlikely that some change is actually imminent; it would be foolish to plan on such a miracle occurring at all - let alone to assume that it would also rapidly translate into a viable technology.

For the moment, the entire “green drive” has to rely on the poor use (and profligate waste) of scarce resources - whether those resources are tangible or financial. This profligate waste of resources starves other projects - those of at-least-equal (or higher) value - of needed investments. This will leave everyone poorer in general, the energy challenges unresolved, and other more valuable outcomes stillborn.

“Greenism” requires a childish failure (or unwillingness) to recognize that having a high standard of living (which includes good health) has impacts on the wider world - impacts that cannot simply be wished away, but that must be dealt with via sober handling of the inherent trade-offs.

Hopefully, some adult rationality will soon return to this landscape; we can’t afford the alternative (pun intended) much longer….



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


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Breath Tax

The rationale for the “Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009,” otherwise known as Cap and Trade, is that environmental catastrophe awaits us if we do not control the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) flowing into the atmosphere. This hysteria has been propelled by alarmists using computer models to predict (not to prove) that what-used-to-be-called-Global-Warming-before-it-became-clear-that-the-earth-is-cooling-so-it-is-now-called-Climate Change is caused by man made emissions of carbon dioxide.

The scam–ur uhm–I mean the idea works like this: government will set a limit on the amount of CO2 companies may produce. Companies will then be forced to purchase emissions permits for every ton of CO2 produced. Companies that exceed their limits will be able to purchase or trade for additional permits with companies that emit less than their allotted cap. Waxman-Markey seeks an “80 percent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050”? And a “100 percent auction to ensure every ton of carbon is paid for.”

While supporters of Cap and Trade attempt to direct our attention to large-scale carbon emitters in the coal and oil industries make no mistake; the repercussions from this tax will be felt in every American household.

The Congressional Budget Office noted that cutting carbon emissions just 15% would result in customers facing “persistently higher prices for products such as electricity and gasoline. Those price increases would be regressive in that poorer households would bear a larger burden relative to their income than wealthier households would.” This conclusion is echoed by the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis, which further determined that Waxman-Markey will reduce GDP by $9.6 trillion, increase the federal debt by 26%, kill 1.1 million jobs, increase peak year unemployment to 2.5 million workers and raise the energy bill paid by a typical family by about $1,500 annually. Of course what is a little economic hardship if it means saving the sky from falling?

Every day new scientific discoveries emerge calling into question the computer models on which this carbon hysteria is based. Ferenc Miskolczi, an atmospheric physicist with 30 years of experience and a former researcher with NASA’s Langley Research Center realized the models rely on mathematical equations derived more than 80 years ago. These differential equations ignore proper boundary conditions and assume an atmosphere that is infinitely thick. Miskolczi derived a new solution using the proper boundary conditions (the atmosphere is 65 miles thick) and voila! no more global warming.

There is also a new study conducted by the university of Wisconsin and the US National oceanic and atmospheric administration, which concludes that 70% of the sharp temperature rise in the North Atlantic over the last 30 years is due to dust blowing out to sea from the deserts of North Africa – A small detail the computer models failed to account for.

What is more remarkable is that, even assuming some human component, if Waxman-Markey meets all its goals of reducing carbon emissions, the EPA calculates that the impact on world temperature would be no more than two-tenths of a degree Celsius at the end of the century. Found here. That is a lot of pain for very little gain.

But Global warming is not about science it is about politics and this administrations choice to ignore facts is about a political means to social control. The President’s own lawyers admit as much.

Three weeks ago Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) produced a white house memo to the EPA that, in his words, repeatedly suggests “a lack of scientific support for this proposed finding” [that greenhouse gases are a danger to public health]. Barrasso then quoted directly from the document, “making the decision to regulate carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act for the first time is likely to have serious economic consequences for regulated entities throughout the US economy, including small businesses and small communities.” If that’s not change you can believe in I don’t know what is.

There is an old joke that if the government could it would tax the very air that we breathe. As social commentary Waxman-Markey’s assumption that we can save the planet by taxing CO2 – a substance every human being emits with every breath taken–is absurd indeed. It’s also an old joke that is not very funny.



The successor to the Kyoto Protocol will be negotiated in large part at the United Nations Climate Change Conference hosted in Copenhagen this December, and as such the lobbying, horsetrading and politicking has already begun in earnest. Judging by the early entries, the theme seems to be Massive Estimates of Death.

The St James's Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium last week compared global warming to all-out nuclear war. Meanwhile, the Global Humanitarian Forum, headed by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, released a 103-page report ('Anatomy of a Silent Crisis') estimating that 'every year climate change leaves over 300,000 people dead, 325 million people seriously affected, and economic losses of US $125 billion.'

These are genuinely alarming, sit-up-and-pay attention sort of figures. The problem is that once you've sat up and paid attention enough to examine them a bit more closely, you find that the means by which the figures were arrived at isn't very compelling. Referring to the 300,000 souls, page 1 of the reports states: 'These figures represent averages based on projected trends over many years and carry a significant margin of error. The real numbers could be lower or higher...' before going on to say, 'These already alarming figures may prove too conservative.' Or not, as the case may be.

Later, in the section entitled 'Attribution of weather-related disasters to climate change', it says 'there is not yet any widely accepted global estimate of the share of weather-related disasters that are attributable to climate change' before going on to make one up by the unusual expedient of using earthquake disasters as a proxy for the weather. (See page 86 for the full explanation.)

This is just a snapshot, but it's fairly representative. The report contains so many extrapolations derived from guesswork based on estimates inferred from unsuitable data sets that you have to ask some serious questions about the methodology. Cryptically, Mr Annan states in the introduction: 'Humanity is facing a rare challenge. But it is a common challenge.' Like the report itself, you know what he's driving at, but have to ask yourself if there wasn't a better way of putting it.



Roger Pielke, Jr.

Last week I was very critical of a report issued by the Global Humanitarian Forum, run by Kofi Annan former Secretary General of the United Nations. Over the weekend I see that Annan described the report as not being a scientific study:
The research was carried out by Dalberg Global Advisers, a consultancy firm, who collated all existing statistics on the human impacts of climate change. The report acknowledges a "significant margin of error" in its estimates. Mr Annan said the report could never be as rigorous as a scientific study, but said: "We feel it is the most plausible account of the current impact of climate change today."

Why can't the work produced by the GHF be "as rigorous as a scientific study"? Well, one answer is that scientific studies on this topic simply don't give the desired answers. But if it is not a "scientific study" then what is it?

Keith Kloor who is a Scripps Journalism Fellow here at CU at the Center for Environmental Journalism comments on the excellent reporting by Andy Revkin on the report, as compared to the rest of the overly credulous media which essentially reprinted the GHF press release without obtaining any other perspectives. Keith also noted the absolute silence in the blogosphere on the report:
so far, the questionable assertions and exaggerated nature of the Global Humanitarian Forum report have gone unremarked on by environmental bloggers and pundits. Nobody from this side of the spectrum has accused the press of being stenographers, that's for sure.

Of course, if it was George Will making a few dodgy claims the blogosphere would erupt in a collective fit of indignation. But dodgy numbers about the impacts of climate change? Yawn.

Perhaps one reason for this can be found in the comments of Andrew Freedman, who blogs at the Washington Post, who seems to suggest that the accuracy and truth aren't really what matter so much here, it is getting lined up behind the proper politics:
. . . as policymakers increasingly consider taking major steps to address climate change, it is becoming more important for experts to detail how climate change is already affecting human populations, and whether it poses a truly mortal threat now or sometime in the future. Whether or not any death can be said to have been 'caused by' climate change is debatable, but the message that climate change may already be adding stress to society, particularly in the developing world, is well-established.

The methodology of the Global Humanitarian Forum's report may not be something to replicate, but the general aim of bringing the human toll from climate change into a clearer focus should be.

So it appears that Freedman is saying - Well at least the folks at GHF tried, and if they made a few mistakes, it is OK because it shows both their commitment to the issue and helps to bring the threat of climate change into clearer focus. To the extent that this view is shared, it explains both the credulity of the media and lack of critique in the blogosphere on the GHF report. More broadly, this attitude explains a lot of the collective behavior seen on the climate issue displayed by the intelligentsia.


A small thought about climate change

We've just had a crowd of Nobel Laureates telling us all how urgent is the need to do something about climate change. And we've also just had a group of not scientists telling us that hundreds of thousands are already dying from the effects. That latter used some, umm, creative methods to reach that conclusion, for I was previously entirely unaware that earthquakes were indeed caused by climate change.

However, this leads to me to ponder a little on what Lord Stern told us. That was that we could sort this all out for the remarkably low price of 1-2% of GDP, spent year by year over the next few decades. Given the size of the UK economy this means some £14 billion to £28 billion a year. And we're also told that this amount should be used to correct the price system, so that matters currently external to the markets become internal to the pricing system. This so called Pigou taxation.

This makes sense, I have to say, as the amount of damage, by Lord Stern's figures again, done by Britain's emissions are again in this sort of range: £14 billion to £28 billion.

Now whether I actually swallow all of these numbers is a different matter, but let's take them at the logic of their proponents. We know the problem, we know how to solve it, we know how much the problem costs and we know how much the solution costs. Excellent.

But, but....well, how much are we already paying in such green taxes? That depends a little on exactly how you want to calculate what is a green tax but adding up landfill tax, air passenger duty, the petrol tax rises from the fuel duty escalator and so on we get to a figure of....£14 billion to £28 billion again. Which means that, by the logic of the Stern Review, we've actually already solved climate change.

No, not even I think that to be actually correct, as Lord Stern himself doesn't. For he keeps telling us that we must do much more, much more quickly, in order to solve the problem, as those Nobel Laureates were also telling us last week.

Which, sadly, leaves us with one inescapable conclusion. We're not going to crack this at that low cost of 1-2% of GDP per year over the decades. It's going to be much much more expensive than that: which means we really need to reopen the calculations of whether we want to stop climate change or would prefer to adapt to it.



With a sigh of relief, no doubt

Thousands of delegates from 180 countries are meeting in Bonn to parley, once again, about ailing measures to protect the climate. Time is short: in December, a new deal is supposed to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

So far, however, the twelve-day conference has failed to agree on key issues. Environmental and development organizations blame the impasse on the industrialised countries. Issues of contention are new and more ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions from industrialised nations and a possible contribution of so-called emerging countries.

The draft text for Copenhagen proposes, among other things, that the industrialised countries cut their emissions of greenhouse gases by 25-40% 2020 compared to 1990. The EU has agreed a cut of up to 30 percent. The new U.S. president Barack Obama has only proposed that the United States would reduced their emissions to 1990 levels.

Sigmar Gabriel, the German environment minister blames the deadlock on industrialized and developing countries alike. "They continue to play Mikado," he says. "Everyone says they'll lose if they move first." Until now, not even medium-term goals have been narrowed down. According to Gabriel, a reduction of 15 percent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels, as discussed by the U.S. Congress, is far behind the demands by the IPCC.

EU climate targets under threat

Poorer countries, on the other hand, are categorically opposed to any obligatory emissions cuts. Even the question what level of assistance they expect from the developed world has not been seriously discussed yet. Gabriel warns that the prevailing deadlock is jeopardising the EU's own climate targets. The EU agreed last December to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels. "If the others don't join in, we cannot uphold this target."

SOURCE [In German. transl. BJP]


By Dr. Tim Ball

"The reason universities are so full of knowledge is students come with so much and they leave with so little." Marshall McLuhan

Business is business.

Bjorn Lomborg criticized businesses for taking advantage of the 'green' opportunities available because governments have bought the message that human CO2 is causing global warming. He talks about a "Climate-Industrial Complex" comparing it with the "Military-Industrial Complex" that President Eisenhower warned about.

I partially agree with Lomborg's concern that, "Spending a fortune on global carbon regulations will benefit a few, but dearly cost everybody else." Why partially? His use of the word carbon is scientifically incorrect, and I don't agree with his belief global warming or climate change are problems. I have no sympathy with his claim that some businesses are exploiting Cap and Trade opportunities. Of course they are. Almost every business is taking advantage of the green hysteria; it is what business is all about. Business is about making money and I have no difficulty with that. What angers me is the hypocrisy of businesses that claim they're acting to stop warming or save the planet. Rubbish, they're doing it for profit. They couldn't do it for long if they lost money. (Government bailouts aside.)

Business is not the problem, except when exploited for personal gain by politicians like Al Gore. The real threat is the Political - Academic - Climate Complex. Climate research funded by taxpayers is being exploited by academics to advance their careers with virtually no accountability and all within unassailable mostly taxpayer funded institutions.

Academic Business

A dramatic change in the role of academia has occurred. It portends a loss of independent thought and political control of education at the highest level. It also creates academics who will produce research to support politicians who may ensure their funding. Congressman Waxman's comment that he didn't understand his own Cap and Trade bill but just listened to the scientists is disturbing on many levels.

If he doesn't understand the science he won't know if they're telling the truth, but then it isn't about the truth. It is about political agendas and the new academia, the power base of these scientists, is the best place to find that message.

Independence to Elitism

Universities are medieval institutions being dragged kicking and screaming into the 18th century. Go to convocation and see them dressed up in Elizabethan robes and hats. In England in the Middle Ages, universities were involved in "town and gown" fights as they physically fought with citizens but also sought non-interference. Most of this occurred in university towns, but the result was universities everywhere championed non-interference. Despite this, most still expect 'townies' to pay the bill almost without question. They have used the banner of independence to make themselves elitist and unaccountable while they produce mostly useless research. The phrase 'it is purely academic' means it is irrelevant to the real world.

They are elitist because they have very narrowly defined intelligence. As Claus Moser said, "For hundreds of years Britain has been brilliant at educating an elite; the problem is the other eighty percent." That eighty percent has many other forms of abilities and intelligence that are usually more beneficial to society. Little of any consequence comes from academic research most of which is done to advance the individual within the system, not to benefit the world. Very few, including the academics, read the hundreds of academic journals turned out every year. They are intellectually incestuous because everyone in academia is a product of the academy. They only allow graduation when a person is indoctrinated. Hiring, promotions and tenure are all controlled by the academics. Committees dominated by academics determine everyone in management from Presidents to Deans. The prisoners are running the prison and the wardens are promoted prisoners.



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


Tuesday, June 02, 2009


An email from Norm Kalmanovitch [kalhnd@shaw.ca] below, responding to a comment on this article. See the post here of May 31

The measured global temperature record which started around 1856 shows that the Earth was in a warming cycle until around 1880. The CO2 record shows that CO2 was increasing by about 0.21ppmv/year over this period. During the cooling cycle which followed from 1880 to 1910, the CO2 concentration increased at a rate of about 0.30ppmv/year.

The next warming cycle from 1910 to 1942 saw a dramatic increase in global temperature, but the rate of increase in CO2 concentration only grew to 0.33ppmv over this time period. The well documented global cooling period from 1942 to 1975 that had the world concerned about an impending return to the equivalent of the Little Ice Age, had a contemporaneous rise in atmospheric CO2 that equated to 0.63ppmv/year; almost twice the increase in CO2 of the previous warming cycle.

During the warming that took place from 1975 to 1998, the rate of CO2 increase took another dramatic jump to 1.54ppmv/year, but this was followed by an increase to 1.91ppmv/year that we are currently experiencing during the present ongoing cooling cycle. Each successive cooling cycle has had an increase in the rate of CO2 growth over the previous warming cycle, indicating that there is no possible correlation of CO2 with global warming.

In 1988 Hansen et al published a paper "Global Climate Changes as Forecast by Goddard Institute for Space Studies Three-Dimensional Model" in the Journal of Geophysical Research that introduced a "CO2 forcing parameter". This parameter had no actual physical basis, but was merely based on the assumption that a 100ppmv increase in CO2 was directly and primarily responsible for the measured increase in global temperature of 0.6°C that had been observed over the past century.

This assumption ignored the fact that over this time period there was both cooling and warming concurrent with rising CO2 concentration, and considering that this paper was published just 13 years after a 33 year cooling trend that also had a concurrent increase in CO2 concentration there is no possible valid rationale for this assumption. Essentially in the 46year period from 1942 to when the paper was published in 1988, there were 33years of cooling and only 13years of warming concurrent with increases in CO2, yet the models used a forcing parameter that directly related only warming to CO2 concentration increases.

With no basis in fact, this parameter is entirely a fabrication, and the projections of climate models that are based on this fabricated parameter are also meaningless fabrications. In addition to the fabrication, there is a bit of scientific fraud in the creation of this CO2 forcing parameter.

The Earth had been warming since the Little Ice Age at a rate of about 0.5°C/century. The temperature value that went into determining the CO2 forcing parameter was 0.6°C, with the difference from the 0.5°C/century value likely due to the urban heat island effect. Even if this difference was directly due to CO2 increases, the difference between the observed temperature and the natural warming since the Little Ice Age is only 0.1°C but the full 0.6°C was used to fabricate the forcing parameter.

It seems that one fabrication leads to another, and when it became obvious that the natural warming of 0.5°C/century since the Little Ice Age demonstrated the obvious deficiency in this forcing parameter of the climate models, the MBH98 temperature proxy also known as the "hockey stick" was fabricated to remove the Little Ice Age and allow the full 0.6°C temperature increase to be related to CO2 increases.

Considering that the climate models are the only support for the AGW premise, and the AGW premise is the only support for the climate models, exposing this simple fabrication is all that needs to be done to put an end to this circular argument that forms the basis for the entire climate change lunacy.


World leaders are to meet for an unprecedented second summit on climate change this year to try to get agreement on a tough new treaty by December, and may even get together for a third time before the end of the year.

The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, is to call the world's heads of government to New York in September to "galvanise political will" about what he describes as "the defining issue of our time". And there are plans for another G20 summit to discuss the issue in the autumn. These will follow a meeting of 17 key world leaders convened at the initiative of President Barack Obama immediately after the annual G8 summit in July. Observers cannot remember any similar progression of top-level meetings to address any issue over such a short period of time.

The moves come as pressure mounts on the leaders to reach agreement at December's vital negotiations in Copenhagen, billed as the world's last chance to get to grips with global warming before it escalates out of control.

On Friday a think tank headed by the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan reported that climate change was already killing 300,000 people and affecting 300 million. The day before, 20 Nobel Prize winners, meeting in London, warned that it posed as great a threat as nuclear war. And in Copenhagen on Tuesday 500 business chief executives called for "an ambitious and effective treaty" to "help establish a firm foundation for a sustainable economic future".

The summits are part of an extraordinarily intense series of meetings over the next six months that will take negotiators from Bonn to Bangkok and from Barcelona to the Ilulissat in Greenland. The first three are formal discussions on a UN treaty for the Copenhagen talks, while key ministers from 30 countries will go to the small Greenland town next to the Arctic's fastest melting glacier at the end of next month to try to hammer out a "political declaration" to accompany it.

The next round of negotiations opens in Bonn tomorrow, but no one is expecting a breakthrough. Talks in the former West German capital in April made little progress beyond agreeing to draw up negotiating texts. These will be on the table for the first time tomorrow, but they mainly serve to highlight divisions between countries and show how far there is to go in six short months to meet December's deadline.

One of the main stumbling blocks is how much rich countries will undertake to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases in the short to medium term. There is general agreement that they should be reduced by a drastic 80 per cent on 1990 levels by 2050, the minimum that scientists say will be needed to avoid dangerous climate change. But setting more immediate targets is proving much harder.

Ten days ago, China flung down the gauntlet by calling on rich countries to cut emissions by 40 per cent by 2020. The only advanced economy to come near that is the European Union, which has promised unilaterally to reduce them by 20 per cent by then, rising to 30 per cent if other countries follow suit. But at present there is little sign of other industrialised nations taking up the challenge; despite the new priority President Obama is giving to climate change, his plans would amount to a cut of only a few per cent from 1990 levels.

In return, developing countries, including China and India, would agree to slow the growth of their emissions through "measurable, verifiable and reportable" measures. But India has just signalled that it will not open such plans to global scrutiny unless rich countries deliver on a promise to provide funds to help it tackle and adapt to climate change.

That is the second sticking point. Developing countries want to get at least $200bn a year, which works out at about 0.5 per cent of rich nations' economic output and is about the same size as current development aid. It is a relatively small sum, especially in the context of the amounts spent in recent months on bailing out the banks, but developed country government are baulking at it. Last week Australia described the demands as "unimaginable".

In the end, senior negotiators say, success or failure will depend not so much on the climate talks themselves, but on whether the world adopts a Green New Deal as the best way to revive the world's economy.


Economic crisis shreds climate policies

The Politics of Climate Change conference, organised by Policy Network in association with the Centre for the Study of Global Governance, is to be held at the London School of Economics Friday 5 June. The event’s website states that it “will bring together leaders of the highest rank from the worlds of politics, academia and business” with the aim “to discuss how the present economic crisis can lead to a business revolution in low-carbon industries and how the state can best play an active, incentivising and facilitating role in this process.”

Ahead of the conference, the project leaders Anthony Giddens and Roger Liddle invited conference speakers and delegates to submit a “bold and imaginative answer to the following question:

‘What is the biggest obstacle governments in industrialised economies have to overcome in achieving low-carbon transition and what action should they prioritise.’”

The response of Dr Benny Peiser, a social anthropologist and senior lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, is interesting:

“The battle over global warming and low-carbon policies will not be decided over scientific issues. It will be determined by governments and law-makers on the basis of hard-nosed national and economic interests. This is where the green utopia for a low-carbon transition in the near future is likely to crash into the buffers.

“As we get closer to the Copenhagen conference, the chances of a global climate agreement are fading rapidly. In fact, the probability of a Kyoto-style treaty with legally binding emissions targets are now close to zero as the gap between the developed and the developing nations has been growing ever wider.

“The global economic crisis has rendered costly climate policies more or less untenable. It has become hugely unpopular among voters who are increasingly hostile to green taxes. The intriguing fact that the global warming trend of the late 20th century appears to have come to a halt has led to growing public scepticism about claims of impending climate catastrophe.

“Carbon taxes and cap-and-trade schemes have turned into considerable liabilities for political parties and governments alike. A climate revolt among Eastern and central European countries has forced the EU to renounce its unilateral Kyoto-strategy. President Obama’s administration is struggling to push its cap-and-trade bill through the US Senate because senators of his own party, the Blue Dog Democrats, are opposed to proposals they fear as being too costly and too risky.

“Developing nations are demanding financial support to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars (per year) in return for their support of a post-Kyoto climate treaty. In view of the astronomical demands made by China, India and Africa, Western governments and their voters are increasingly reluctant to agree to injurious obligations that risk weakening their economic competitiveness even further.

Perhaps the most critical factor for the growing scepticism in Europe is the vanishing strength of Europe’s centre-left and green parties, whose members were once among the most forceful climate alarmists. Labour and green parties throughout Europe have lost much of their popularity and support. Today, few have remained in positions of power.

“The principles of fairness, technological progress and economic growth used to stand at the heart of social democratic governments. Advancing the interests of poor and disadvantaged members of society was essential to the popular appeal of social democratic and Labour parties. The centre-left have substituted these social democratic ideals for an environmental programme in which the rhetoric of saving the planet has taken priority over the principle of liberating the underprivileged and disadvantaged from poverty and dereliction today.

“In effect, green policies are gradually pricing the working and lower-middle classes out of their comfort zone. Labour parties may sincerely believe that their utopian low-carbon plans will save the planet. But in the process they are destroying the very foundations of their political support and movement.”

SOURCE (See the original for links)


A SPECIES of starfish has confounded climate change doom-mongers by thriving as sea temperatures and acidity increase - a scenario that is likely as the world gets warmer. Most studies have concluded that sea animals with calcified shells or skeletons, such as starfish, will suffer as carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels dissolves in the sea, making the water more acidic and destroying the calcium carbonate on which the creatures depend.

But the sea star Pisaster ochraceus may ride out the climate storm. Rebecca Gooding and colleagues at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, exposed sea stars to rising temperatures and water acidity. They thrived in temperatures of up to 21 °C and atmospheric CO2 concentrations of up to 780 parts per million - beyond predicted rises for the next century (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0811143106).

The sea star seems to survive because its calcium is nodular, so unlike species with continuous shells or skeletons it can compensate for a lack of carbonate by growing more fleshy tissue instead. The team therefore warn against assuming that global warming will have the same impact across groups of similar species.



By B. Sudhakara Reddy and Gaudenz B. Assenza


For over two decades, scientific and political communities have debated whether and how to act on climate change. The present paper revisits these debates and synthesizes the longstanding arguments. Firstly, it provides an overview of the development of international climate policy and discusses clashing positions, represented by sceptics and supporters of action on climate change. Secondly, it discusses the market-based measures as a means to increase the win-win opportunities and to attract profit-minded investors to invest in climate change mitigation. Finally, the paper examines whether climate protection policies can yield benefits both for the environment and the economy. A new breed of analysts are identified who are convinced of the climate change problem, while remaining sceptical of the proposed solutions. The paper suggests the integration of climate policies with those of development priorities that are vitally important for developing countries and stresses the need for using sustainable development as a framework for climate change policies.


The clash between sceptics and supporters is likely to endure, and may even become more pitched as the stakes on climate change are raised. The expansion of scientific knowledge is unlikely to end the debate, as each side will get more data to confirm their case. Sceptics will continue to assail supporters for blending science with environmental activism, and supporters will maintain their doubts about the scientific credibility of sceptics, because of their links to economic interests.

Regardless of who is right in this debate, each side is valuable to the other. A vocal group of contrarians is necessary to achieve scientific progress, since it forces supporters to improve their science and vice versa. It is necessary to point out the flaws in assumptions, logic and method, and to propose counter-arguments for every argument. The problem is not the scientific controversy, but the way in which science is used by economic and political interests, and the risk that scientists become pawns in a high-stakes political game.

Development may well be a better strategy for reducing the impacts of climate change than focusing on greenhouse gas emission reduction. Developing countries, with less ability to prosper, afford and use new technologies, have higher rates of hunger; poorer public health services; greater incidence of infectious and parasitic diseases; less access to education, safe water or sanitation; and, therefore, greater mortality rates and lower life expectancies. It is a proven fact that there are a large number of 'no-regret options' waiting to be exploited. These options have the potential to be welcomed by sceptics, supporters as well as neutral observers as they provide the dual benefit of economic improvement of the masses and climate change mitigation, a concept of win-win situation. Hence the resources that are spent on emission reduction for the sake of avoiding impacts are better spent on vulnerability reduction in developing countries. This approach would enhance societies' abilities to cope not only with climate change, but adversity in general, regardless of its cause, or whether it's man-made or not. Such a multifaceted and holistic approach would help to improve the lives of people living in poverty, without compromising the ability to address future challenges, whether caused by climate change, or something else entirely.

To compare the two strategies to reduce the impact of climate change, one has to address the tradeoffs between environmental protection and development in general, or even between emission reduction and development aid. In a narrow sense, cutting emissions helps alleviating malaria and water shortage. In a broader sense, the same money can be spent differently to alleviate malaria and water shortage even more. Only by considering the broader question, we can decide how much effort should be expended on development, thereby on greenhouse gas emission abatement.

The climate negotiations will succeed only if developing countries are driven by development priorities, and if there are countries or groups of countries among them willing to take a leadership role to push the process forward. This approach offer a chance to make climate change policy matter to developing countries by aligning it more directly with their interests. Since development is a key priority for governments in developing countries climate change policies can be on development priorities that would make it attractive to all the stakeholders. This may be the easiest path for many developing countries to take first steps in longer term action on climate change. However, in the absence of leadership, even well-intentioned players remain uncoordinated, which increases the transaction costs. Hence, the issue of climate change should be approached at multiple levels through local and national development projects, as well as through multilateral efforts to establish cooperation mechanisms within an equitable and efficient sustainable development regime.

Energy Policy, 37:8, August 2009, 2997-3008


By Martin Feldstein -- a professor of economics at Harvard University and president emeritus of the nonprofit National Bureau of Economic Research, and who was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1982 to 1984.

The Obama administration and congressional Democrats have proposed a major cap-and-trade system aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Scientists agree that CO2 emissions around the world could lead to rising temperatures with serious long-term environmental consequences. But that is not a reason to enact a U.S. cap-and-trade system until there is a global agreement on CO2 reduction. The proposed legislation would have a trivially small effect on global warming while imposing substantial costs on all American households. And to get political support in key states, the legislation would abandon the auctioning of permits in favor of giving permits to selected corporations.

The leading legislative proposal, the Waxman-Markey bill that was recently passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, would reduce allowable CO2 emissions to 83 percent of the 2005 level by 2020, then gradually decrease the amount further. Under the cap-and-trade system, the federal government would limit the total volume of CO2 that U.S. companies can emit each year and would issue permits that companies would be required to have for each ton of CO2 emitted. Once issued, these permits would be tradable and could be bought and sold, establishing a market price reflecting the targeted CO2 reduction, with a tougher CO2 standard and fewer available permits leading to higher prices.

Companies would buy permits from each other as long as it is cheaper to do that than to make the technological changes needed to eliminate an equivalent amount of CO2 emissions. Companies would also pass along the cost of the permits in their prices, pushing up the relative price of CO2-intensive goods and services such as gasoline, electricity and a range of industrial products. Consumers would respond by cutting back on consumption of CO2-intensive products in favor of other goods and services. This pass-through of the permit cost in higher consumer prices is the primary way the cap-and-trade system would reduce the production of CO2 in the United States.

The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that the resulting increases in consumer prices needed to achieve a 15 percent CO2 reduction -- slightly less than the Waxman-Markey target -- would raise the cost of living of a typical household by $1,600 a year. Some expert studies estimate that the cost to households could be substantially higher. The future cost to the typical household would rise significantly as the government reduces the total allowable amount of CO2.

Americans should ask themselves whether this annual tax of $1,600-plus per family is justified by the very small resulting decline in global CO2. Since the U.S. share of global CO2 production is now less than 25 percent (and is projected to decline as China and other developing nations grow), a 15 percent fall in U.S. CO2 output would lower global CO2 output by less than 4 percent. Its impact on global warming would be virtually unnoticeable. The U.S. should wait until there is a global agreement on CO2 that includes China and India before committing to costly reductions in the United States.

The CBO estimates that the sale of the permits for a 15 percent CO2 reduction would raise revenue of about $80 billion a year over the next decade. It is remarkable, then, that the Waxman-Markey bill would give away some 85 percent of the permits over the next 20 years to various businesses instead of selling them at auction. The price of the permits and the burden to households would be the same whether the permits are sold or given away. But by giving them away the government would not collect the revenue that could, at least in principle, be used to offset some of the higher cost to households.

The Waxman-Markey bill would give away 30 percent of the permits to local electricity distribution companies with the expectation that their regulators would require those firms to pass the benefit on to their customers. If they do this by not raising prices, there would be less CO2 reduction through lower electricity consumption. The permit price would then have to be higher to achieve more CO2 reduction on all other products. Some electricity consumers would benefit, but the cost to all other American families would be higher.

In my judgment, the proposed cap-and-trade system would be a costly policy that would penalize Americans with little effect on global warming. The proposal to give away most of the permits only makes a bad idea worse. Taxpayers and legislators should keep these things in mind before enacting any cap-and-trade system.



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


Monday, June 01, 2009

The New MIT Climate Study: A Real World Inversion?

Considering that climate models are predicting global temperatures to be rising at a rate far greater than they actually are, you would think that the model developers would be taking a long, hard look at their models to try to figure out why they are on the verge of failing.

In fact, I would expect to soon start to see papers in the scientific literature from various modeling groups attempting to explain why their models have gone awry and to provide an accompanying downward revision of their projections of 21st century temperature change. After all, how long a period of no warming can be tolerated before the forecasts of the total warming by century’s end have to be lowered? We’re already into our ninth year of the 100 year forecast period and we have no global warming to speak of.

So imagine my surprise when a paper just appeared in the Journal of Climate by a group of researchers at M.I.T. that nearly doubled the existing expectations of the total warming by the year 2100!

This is quite a gutsy group, for not only are they saying that the prevailing model projections—which are already way too hot—are warming things up too slowly, but that when they re-examine the model inputs, they predict a best-guess warm-up that lies very near the current worse-case projections. The research group led by Andrei Sokolov and Ronald Prinn expects that the most likely warming by the year 2100 to be 5.2ºC with a 90% confidence range bounded by 3.5ºC on the low side and 7.4ºC on the high side. Like I said, gutsy.

Just to put that in perspective, I present Figure 2 which shows generally what the temperature rise during the next 90 years, 7 months needs to look like for that prediction to be true.

Figure 2. Observed and projected 21st century temperatures and trends.

This is utterly incredible and virtually impossible. As a picture is valued at about thousand words, I probably couldn’t come up with a thousand more choice ones than Figure 2 is worth. So I’ll leave it at that.

If you are interested in analysis by someone who is able to conjure up a few words to describe the more blatant problems with the M.I.T. study, Roy Spencer is happy to provide one. He starts out:

Climate science took another step backward last week as a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was announced which claims global warming by 2100 will probably be twice as bad as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted.

He goes on from there to describe what is wrong with the study—foremost in Dr. Spencer’s mind being the overly high climate sensitivity term:

But as I have mentioned before, the use of statistical probabilities in this context is inappropriate. There is a certain climate sensitivity that exists in the real climate system, and it is true that we do not know exactly what that sensitivity is. But this does not mean that our uncertainty over its sensitivity can be translated into some sort of statistical probability.

The use of statistical probabilities by the IPCC and the MIT group does two misleading things: (1) it implies scientific precision where none exists, and (2) it implies the climate system’s response to any change is a “roll of the dice”.

We know what the probability of rolling a pair of sixes with dice is, since it is a random event which, when repeated a sufficient number of times, will reveal that probability (1 in 36). But in contrast to this simple example, there is instead a particular climate sensitivity that exists out there in the real climate system. The endless fascination with playing computer games to figure out that climate sensitivity, in my opinion, ends up wasting a lot of time and money.

True, there are many scientists who really do think our tinkering with the climate system through our greenhouse gas emissions is like playing Russian roulette. But the climate system tinkers with itself all the time, and the climate has managed to remain stable. There are indeed internal, chaotic fluctuations in the climate system that might appear to be random, but their effect on the whole climate system are constrained to operate within a certain range. If the climate system really was that sensitive, it would have forced itself into oblivion long ago.

To read more of Dr Spencer’s analysis, check out his article “The Global Warming Climate Gamble.”

Ultimately, he arrives at a similar conclusion as do I: [I]t is only a matter of time before the climate community placing all its bets on the climate models is revealed to be a very bad gamble.

Update: Several commentors have asked to see a longer-term history of observations against which to compare the M.I.T. 21st century projections.

Since the projections only cover the period from 2001 to 2100, I originally only showed the observations that thus far have occurred during that period (Figure 2). But for those want to see a longer perspective, I introduce Figure 3, the observed temperatures since 1900 along with the M.I.T. 21st century projections. To me, this doesn’t makes the projection look any better, but you can judge for yourself.

Figure 3. Observed temperatures from 1900 through 2008 along with the 21st century projections from M.I.T.


A Layman’s Explanation of Why Global Warming Predictions by Climate Models are Wrong

Written by Dr. Roy W. Spencer

I occasionally hear the complaint that some of what I write is too technical to understand, which I’m sure is true. The climate system is complex, and discussing the scientific issues associated with global warming (aka “climate change”) can get pretty technical pretty fast.

Fortunately, the most serious problem the climate models have (in my view) is one which is easily understood by the public. So, I’m going to make yet another attempt at explaining why the computerized climate models tracked by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – all 23 of them – predict too much warming for our future. The basic problem has been peer reviewed and published by us, and so cannot be dismissed lightly.

But this time I will use no graphs (!), and I will use only a single number (!!) which I promise will be a small one.

I will do this in three steps. First, I will use the example of a pot of water on the stove to demonstrate why the temperature of things (like the Earth) rises or falls.

Secondly, I will describe why so many climate model “experts” believe that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will cause the climate system to warm by a large, possibly catastrophic amount.

Finally, I will show how Mother Nature has fooled those climate experts into programming climate models to behave incorrectly.

Some of this material can be found scattered through other web pages of mine, but here I have tried to create a logical progression of the most important concepts, and minimized the technical details. It might be edited over time as questions arise and I find better ways of phrasing things.

The Earth’s Climate System Compared to a Pot of Water on the Stove

Before we discuss the average temperature of the Earth, let’s start with the simple example of a pot of water placed on a stove. Imagine it’s a gas stove, and the flame is set on its lowest setting, so the water will become warm but will not boil. To begin with, the pot does not have a lid.

Obviously, the heat from the flame will warm the water and the pot, but after about 10 minutes the temperature will stop rising. The pot stops warming when it reaches a point of equilibrium where the rate of heat loss by the pot to its cooler surroundings equals the rate of heat gained from the stove. The pot warmed as long as an imbalance in those two flows of energy existed, but once the magnitude of heat loss from the hot pot reached the same magnitude as the heat gain from the stove, the temperature stopped changing.

Now let’s imagine we turn the flame up slightly. This will result in a temporary imbalance once again between the rate of energy gain and energy loss, which will then cause the pot to warm still further. As the pot warms, it loses energy even more rapidly to its surroundings. Finally, a new, higher temperature is reached where the rate of energy loss and energy gain are once again in balance.

But there’s another way to cause the pot to warm other than to add more heat: We can reduce its ability to cool. If next we place a lid on the pot, the pot will warm still more because the rate of heat loss is then reduced below the rate of heat gain from the stove. In this case, loosely speaking, the increased temperature of the pot is not because more heat is added, but because less heat is being allowed to escape.

This example is the same fundamental situation that exists with climate change in general, and global warming theory in particular. A change in the energy flows in or out of the climate system will, in general, cause a temperature change. The average temperature of the climate system (atmosphere, ocean, and land) will remain about the same only as long as the rate of energy gain from sunlight equals the rate of heat loss by infrared radiation to outer space.

Again, the average temperature of the Earth (like a pot of water on the stove) will only change when there is an imbalance between the rates of energy gained and energy lost.

Global Warming

What this means is that anything that can change the rates of energy flow — in or out of the climate system — can cause global warming or global cooling. For instance, if the amount of cloud cover reflecting sunlight back to space decreases from, say, a change in weather patterns, then more sunlight will be absorbed by the land and ocean. As a result, there will then be an imbalance between the infrared energy lost and solar energy gained by the Earth. The Earth will warm until the amount of infrared energy loss to space (which goes up with temperature, like the heat loss by the pot went up with temperature) once again equals the amount of energy gained by the sun.

But just as in the case of the pot of water, we can also cause global warming by reducing the rate at which the Earth loses energy. For instance, the so-called greenhouse effect of the atmosphere, due mostly to water vapor, clouds, carbon dioxide and methane, acts like a radiative blanket, warming the lower atmosphere and the surface. In the theory of manmade global warming, increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere (presumably due to burning of fossil fuels) slightly enhances the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect. An energy imbalance results because the rate of cooling of the Earth is then reduced slightly — somewhat like putting the lid on the pot of warm water — and as a result the Earth is expected to warm until equilibrium is once again restored.

Now for a magic number that we will be referring to later, which is how much more energy is lost to outer space as the Earth warms. It can be calculated theoretically that for every 1 deg C the Earth warms, it gives off an average of about 3.3 Watts per square meter more infrared energy to space. Just as you feel more infrared (heat) radiation coming from a hot stove than from a warm stove, the Earth gives off more infrared energy to space the warmer it gets.

The $64 Trillion Question: By How Much Will the Earth Warm?

This 3.3 Watts per sq. meter represents how much extra energy the Earth loses if ONLY the temperature is increased, and nothing else is changed. In the real world, however, we can expect that the rest of the climate system will NOT remain the same in response to a warming tendency.

In fact, the most important scientific debate in global warming theory is not over what I have just described, which virtually all climate scientists will agree with. The main debate is instead over how clouds (and to a lesser extent other elements in the climate system) respond to that warming, thereby enhancing or reducing the warming. These indirect changes that further influence temperature are called feedbacks, and they determine whether manmade global warming will be catastrophic, or just lost in the noise of natural climate variability.

Returning to our example of the whole Earth warming by 1 deg. C, if that warming causes an increase in cloud cover, then the 3.3 Watts of extra infrared loss to outer space gets augmented by a reduction in solar heating of the Earth by the sun. The result is a smaller temperature rise. This is called negative feedback, and if it exists in the real climate system, then manmade global warming will become, for most practical purposes, a non-issue.

But if the cloud cover of the Earth decreases with warming, then more sunlight will be let in and the Earth will warm to an even higher temperature. The same is true if the water vapor content of the atmosphere increases with warming. These are called positive feedbacks, and all 23 climate models tracked by the IPCC now exhibit positive cloud and water vapor feedback. The main difference between models that predict moderate warming versus those that predict strong warming has been traced to the strength of their positive cloud feedbacks.

Obviously, the question of how clouds in the REAL climate system respond to a warming tendency is of paramount importance, because that guides the development and testing of the climate models. Ultimately, the models must be based upon the observed behavior of the atmosphere.

So, what IS observed when the Earth warms? Do clouds increase or decrease? While the results vary with which years are analyzed, it has often been found that warmer years have less cloud cover, not more.

And this has led to the conclusion that cloud feedbacks in the real climate system are probably positive, although by an uncertain amount. The interpretation goes like this: Warming causes a decrease in clouds which then causes still more warming. That’s positive cloud feedback. And if cloud feedbacks end up being too strongly positive, then we are in big trouble from manmade global warming.

How Mother Nature Fooled the World’s Top Climate Scientists
At this point an important question needs to be asked that no one asks: What caused the initial warming? By definition, cloud feedback can not occur unless the temperature changes…but what if that temperature change was caused by clouds in the first place?

This is important because if decreasing cloud cover caused warming, and this has been mistakenly interpreted as warming causing a decrease in cloud cover, then positive feedback will have been inferred even if the true feedback in the climate system is negative.

As far as I know, this potential mix-up between cause and effect — and the resulting positive bias in diagnosed feedbacks — had never been studied until we demonstrated it in a peer-reviewed paper in the Journal of Climate. Unfortunately, because climate research covers such a wide range of specialties, most climate experts are probably not even aware that our paper exists.

So how do we get around this cause-versus-effect problem? Our very latest research, now in peer review for possible publication in the Journal of Geophysical Research, shows that one can separate, at least partially, the effects of clouds-causing-temperature-change (which “looks like” positive feedback) versus temperature-causing-clouds to change (true feedback).

We analyzed 7.5 years of our latest and best NASA satellite data and discovered that, when the effect of clouds-causing-temperature-change is accounted for, cloud feedbacks in the real climate system are strongly negative. The negative feedback was so strong that it more than cancelled out the positive water vapor feedback we also found. It was also consistent with evidence of negative feedback we found in the tropics and published in 2007.

In fact, the resulting net negative feedback was so strong that, if it exists on the long time scales associated with global warming, it would result in only 0.6 deg. C of warming by late in this century.

Natural Cloud Variations: The Missing Piece of the Puzzle?

In this critical issue of cloud feedbacks – one which even the IPCC has admitted is their largest source of uncertainty — it is clear that the effect of natural cloud variations on temperature has been ignored. In simplest of terms, cause and effect have been mixed up. (Even the modelers will have to concede that clouds-causing-temperature change exists because we found clear evidence of it in every one of the IPCC climate models we studied.)

But this brings up another important question: What if global warming itself has been caused by a small, long-term, natural change in global cloud cover? Our observations of global cloud cover have not been long enough or accurate enough to document whether any such cloud changes have happened or not. Some indirect evidence that this has indeed happened is discussed here.

Even though they never say so, the IPCC has simply assumed that the average cloud cover of the Earth does not change, century after century. This is a totally arbitrary assumption, and given the chaotic variations that the ocean and atmosphere circulations are capable of, it is probably wrong. Little more than a 1% change in cloud cover up or down, and sustained over many decades, could cause events such as the Medieval Warm Period or the Little Ice Age.

As far as I know, the IPCC has never discussed their assumption that global average cloud cover always stays the same. The climate change issue is so complex that most experts have probably not even thought about it. But we meteorologists by training have a gut feeling that things like this do indeed happen. In my experience, a majority of meteorologists do not believe that mankind is mostly to blame for global warming. Meteorologists appreciate how complex cloud behavior is, and most tend to believe that climate change is largely natural.

And this cause-versus-effect issue is not limited to just clouds. For instance, there are processes that can cause the water vapor content of the atmosphere to change, mainly complex precipitation processes, which will then change global temperatures. This has long been known, but again, climate change research covers such a wide range of disciplines that very few of the experts have recognized the importance of obscure studies that have been published.

While there are a number of other potentially serious problems with climate model predictions, this issue alone has the power to mostly deflate all predictions of substantial global warming. It is only a matter of time before others in the climate research community realize this, too.

SOURCE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Airborne Bacteria Discredit Climate Modeling Dogma

Clouds are a major weak point in Warmist models. Changing the assumptions greatly changes the results

The formation of low-level clouds—clouds that have a cooling effect on Earth's climate—has vexed climate scientists for years. Current climate models treat cloud cover simplistically and make the assumption that cloud cover decreases as temperatures rise. New data from a cloud sampling experiment indicates that biological material—bacteria, spores and plant material—may account for 1/3 of the airborne material involved in cloud formation. Furthermore, biological material can form clouds at much warmer temperatures than mineral dust. These new discoveries indicate that modelers have the effects of temperature on low cloud cover backwards, placing all model predictions in doubt.

A team led by Kim Prather, of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of California San Diego, used an aircraft with a specially designed lab instrument called a mass spectrometer to identify the particles that ice crystals and water droplets form around. Ice crystals, sampled from clouds and quickly analyzed while in flight, showed bits of biological material along with other aerosols. “The key to cloud formation is these little seeds that feed the clouds,” Prather said in an interview. “We are basically trying to understand what is forming clouds.”

Aerosols, including dust, soot, salt from ocean spray and organic materials, form the seeds clouds grow from. Around these tiny particles, water and ice in the atmosphere condense and grow, a process called nucleation. Scientists are trying to understand how clouds form, because clouds play a critical role by both cooling the atmosphere and affecting regional precipitation.

“By sampling clouds in real time from an aircraft, these investigators were able to get information about ice particles in clouds at an unprecedented level of detail,” Anne-Marie Schmoltner, of the National Science Foundation's Division of Atmospheric sciences, said in a statement. “By determining the chemical composition of the very cores of individual ice particles, they discovered that both mineral dust and, surprisingly, biological particles play a major role in the formation of clouds.”

Sampling clouds above Wyoming, the researchers found that biological matter accounted for 33% of the particles in ice crystals, and mineral dust accounted for 50%, some of it from as far away as Asia. The findings suggest biological particles that get swept up in dust storms help induce cloud formation. While it has long been known that microorganisms or parts of them get airborne and travel great distances, this study, reported in Nature Geoscience online, is the first to measure their participation in cloud ice formation.

In climate change science, which derives many of its projections from computer simulations of climate phenomena, the actions of aerosols on clouds represent what scientists consider the greatest uncertainty in modeling predictions for the future. Because General Circulation Models (GCM) use a very coarse grid—on the order of 100 km square—the effect of cloud formation processes cannot be accurately modeled, even if there were enough spare computer cycles to do so. Instead, simple average values for cloud cover effects are used to calculate the impact of clouds on temperature, and that is where the faulty assumptions have been applied.

According to Dr. Roy Spencer, meteorologist and former Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the warming in models is known to be mostly controlled by low and middle level clouds. He explains in a posting on his blog:

The main reason the models produce so much warming depends upon uncertain assumptions regarding how clouds will respond to warming. Low and middle-level clouds provide a ‘sun shade’ for the Earth, and the climate models predict that those clouds will dissipate with warming, thereby letting more sunlight in and making the warming worse.

The important participation of biological and mineral aerosols in cloud formation provides a viable explanation for increased, not decreased cloud formation as Earth heats up. As I reported in an earlier post, dust and material from North Africa seems to have a significant impact on the tropical Atlantic. In other places, climate change is also being blamed for increase in airborne particulates.

An obvious cause would be desertification, long touted to be an effect of global warming. But there are subtler linkages as well. Extended growing seasons, also being attributed to global warming, give plants more opportunity to contribute to airborne material. Drought, leading to more natural fires, would contribute carbon based aerosols while stressed plant populations could be more susceptible to bacterial infection, increasing the amount of airborne bacteria.

This implies a negative feedback loop: global warming increases aerosols, which increases low and medium level cloud cover, cooling the climate. To again quote from Dr. Spenser: “If feedbacks end up being negative... then extra CO2 will have caused even less warming, which means that there is even more room for natural cloud variability to explain the warming experienced in the last 50 to 100 years.”

This is not the first indication that bacteria may help regulate climate. Professor Brent Christner of Louisiana State University, with colleagues in Montana and France, reported evidence in the journal Science that “rain-making” bacteria are widely distributed in the atmosphere. “My colleague David Sands from Montana State University proposed the concept of 'bioprecipitation' over 25 years ago and few scientists took it seriously, but evidence is beginning to accumulate that supports this idea,” said Christner.

There has been speculation that biological particles could factor heavily into the precipitation cycle, affecting climate, agricultural productivity and even global warming for some time now. This is because it is well established that biological particles can promote nucleation and at higher temperatures than particles of mineral dust. Many ski resorts use a commercially available freeze-dried preparation of ice-nucleating bacteria to make snow when the temperature is just a few degrees below freezing.

“The role that biological particles play in atmospheric processes has been largely overlooked. However, we have found biological ice nuclei in precipitation samples from Antarctica to Louisiana - they're ubiquitous. Our results provide an impetus for atmospheric scientists to start thinking about the role these particles play in precipitation,” said Christner. Non-biological particles are good at collecting water at temperatures below about 14°F (-10°C), biological particles seem to be the main active nuclei above that temperature, according to Christner's findings. Unfortunately, this knowledge isn't incorporated into climate models.

“Our results provide an impetus for atmospheric scientists to start thinking about the role these particles play in precipitation,” says Prof Christner. “It clearly demonstrates that we are just beginning to understand the intricate interplay between the planet's climate and biosphere.”

Even prior to the discovery of the bacteria climate link, aerosols' role in cloud formation had been inadequately portrayed in climate models. Joyce E. Penner, a leading atmospheric scientist at the University of Michigan, presented a talk on the topic “Aerosol-Cloud Interactions and Climate Projections,” during a panel at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco on Feb. 17, 2007. Using known temperature data starting in 1850, two different climate models were compared. One had low climate sensitivity and small amounts of aerosols and the other high climate sensitivity and high amounts of aerosols. Penner's group showed that both models follow almost identical predictive paths in the past, but diverge significantly when predicting the temperature in the future.

Further, Penner's presentation discussed the predictive capability of three other climate models: the US NCAR-Oslo model, a French model and a Japanese model. Tests showed that large differences and significant changes in results occurred, especially when having the models predict both aerosols and their cloud effects using assumed historical aerosol levels. It is no secret to savvy climate modelers that their models are not capable of accurately predicting future climate change. “We know that aerosol effects on clouds need to be included in climate models,” Penner said.

These are just the latest revelations about the shaky foundation climate models are built on. Missing factors and erroneous feedback loops highlight how arbitrary decisions, which happen to reinforce the modeler's desired result, can undermine a model's veracity. Nobody denies that atmospheric CO2 increases environmental heating. The problem is that, relative to other forcings, this is a small effect that is quickly overwhelmed by other factors. A slight change in cloud cover can completely nullify any effect of CO2, and we have no way of accurately predicting cloud cover—certainly not with the models currently available.

Answers to fill the gaps in our spotty knowledge can only be found in one place—Earth's physical environment. Still the allure of computer models keeps climate scientists gazing at display screens instead of the real world. Dr. Prather, Dr. Christner and their respective teams are to be commended for taking what is becoming a radical step in climate science—actually performing experiments and observing nature.


Global cooling is killing trees

A large number of eastern red cedar trees in south central Nebraska died this spring, probably from very cold temperatures in March. The dead trees mostly are in windbreaks in an area from southwest of Hastings to north of Columbus and are mostly younger trees under about 10 feet tall.

A Nebraska Forest Service forest health expert and UNL Extension officials examined many of the trees earlier this month. They believe a sudden freeze in early spring is the likely cause of the problem. “We’ve seen some long windbreaks where as many as two-thirds of the cedars died over the winter,” said Mark Harrell, Nebraska Forest Service forest health program leader. “When something like this happens over the winter to a large number of trees, it’s almost always caused by a sudden, large drop in temperature.”

Harrell said other factors, such as stress from the recent drought combined with root damage from disease-causing fungi in the soil, have been killing smaller groups of trees at some locations, but a freeze injury is the most likely cause where large numbers of trees are affected at this time of year over a wide area.

“We saw no evidence of any significant disease or insect problem on the foliage or anything that could be controlled with a pesticide treatment, so there’s no reason to spray the trees to try to control anything,” Harrell said.

It would be good to wait a few weeks to see if some of the brown trees grow out new foliage, Harrell suggested, because it is possible that the freeze killed only the foliage, and the branches may grow new foliage if given enough time.


The ocean acidification scare again

Odd that corals have survived in the geological past when CO2 levels were much higher than now

CLIMATE change is turning the oceans more acid in a trend that could endanger everything from clams to coral and be irreversible for thousands of years.
Seventy academies from around the world urged governments meeting in Bonn for climate talks from June 1-12 to take more account of risks to the oceans in a new UN treaty for fighting global warming due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.

The academies said rising amounts of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas emitted mainly by human use of fossil fuels, were being absorbed by the oceans and making it harder for creatures to build protective body parts. The shift disrupts ocean chemistry and attacks the "building blocks needed by many marine organisms, such as corals and shellfish, to produce their skeletons, shells and other hard structures", they said. On some projections, levels of acidification in 80 per cent of Arctic seas would be corrosive to clams that are vital to the food web by 2060, it said. And "coral reefs may be dissolving globally" if atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide were to rise to 550 parts per million (ppm) from a current 387 ppm.

Corals are home to many species of fish.

"These changes in ocean chemistry are irreversible for many thousands of years and the biological consequences could last much longer," they said. Martin Rees [a well-known and dedicated alarmist], president of the Royal Society, the British science academy, said there may be an "underwater catastrophe". "The effects will be seen worldwide, threatening food security, reducing coastal protection and damaging the local economies that may be least able to tolerate it," he said.

The academies said that if current rates of carbon emissions continue until 2050, computer models indicate "the oceans will be more acidic than they have been for tens of millions of years".


Australian Warmist laws to hit farmers

EMISSIONS trading could rip away as much as 22 per cent of farmers' income, government researchers say. That translates to up to $11,000 in income lost each year for an average-sized farm, with sheep and beef producers to be hardest hit. An Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics report, issued today, paints an alarming picture of the cost of emissions trading for rural communities.

The Government is set to introduce an emissions trading scheme in 2011, with agriculture partially exempt until at least 2015.

In the worst case scenario - where agricultural processors don't put up their prices, instead passing all the higher costs on to farmers - beef farmers would lose 22 per cent of their income in 2015. Sheep farmers would also fare badly, losing 17 per cent of income. Broadacre industries and dairy farmers are next in line, losing between 11 and 15 per cent of their income.

Cows and sheep emit plenty of methane, a noxious greenhouse gas, which partly explains why the costs are high.

However, the economic impact is considerably less if processors don't pass through all the costs of the ETS on to farmers.

The research is based on operators continuing with their current farming practices, instead of trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and costs under the ETS. The ABARE report said the ETS would cost farmers through higher prices for electricity, fuels and freight.

Direct emissions - such as methane burped by cows - will not be covered until 2015, and it's expected that some farmers will get most of those emissions permits for free.

ABARE executive director Phillip Glyde, who released the report, said the ETS was not all bad news for farmers. "In combination with a global response to climate change, (it) will reduce the expected negative effects of climate change on agricultural productivity in Australia,'' Mr Glyde said.



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


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