Warmist crooks above: Keith "One tree" Briffa; Michael "Bristlecone" Mann; James "data distorter" Hansen; Phil "data destroyer" Jones -- Leading members in the cabal of climate quacks

The CO2 that is supposed to warm the earth is mostly in the upper atmosphere, where it is very cold. Yet that CO2 is said to warm the earth. How can heat flow from a cold body to a hot one? Strange thermodynamics!

Against the long history of huge temperature variation in the earth's climate (ice ages etc.), the .6 of one degree average rise reported for the entire 20th century by the United Nations (a rise so small that you would not be able to detect such a difference personally without instruments) shows in fact that the 20th century was a time of exceptional temperature stability.

There is an "ascetic instinct" (or perhaps a "survivalist instinct") in many people that causes them to delight in going without material comforts. Monasteries and nunneries were once full of such people -- with the Byzantine stylites perhaps the most striking example. Many Greenies (other than Al Gore and his Hollywood pals) have that instinct too but in the absence of strong orthodox religious committments they have to convince themselves that the world NEEDS them to live in an ascetic way. So their personal emotional needs lead them to press on us all a delusional belief that the planet needs "saving".

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30 June, 2012


29 June, 2012

Greenie logic hard at work

On the one hand the writer below tells us that CO2 levels in the Miocene were similar to levels today and on the other hand she tells us that the margins of Antarctica were green and hence obviously warmer. Doesn't that show that the high temperatures back then were NOT due to CO2 but rather to some other (solar? vulcanism?) influence? You would never guess it from the HuffPo narrative below

Note that the NASA press release says that "Warm conditions during the middle Miocene are thought to be associated with carbon dioxide levels of around 400 to 600 parts per million (ppm)". Thought to be? and "around"? In other words, the researchers below were just guessing about that

It may be hard to imagine, but the outer edges of Antarctica were once green, luscious and teeming with vegetation, a new study has uncovered.

Scientists at NASA, the University of California and Louisiana State University examined plant fossils taken from sediment cores beneath the Antarctic ice shelf and found that between 16.4 million and 15.7 million years ago, Antarctica was much warmer and rainier than previously thought. In fact, the continent's climate was similar to that of present-day Iceland, reaching temperatures of up to 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

The paper was published in the most recent issue of the journal Nature Geoscience.

When studying the sediment extracted from below the ice, the researchers found large quantities of pollen and algae -- an indication of abundant plant life. They also examined the plant-leaf wax from the sediment cores and were able to determine details about the water the plants drank when they were alive.

The greening of Antarctica occurred during a period of global warming called the Miocene period -- tens of millions of years after the last dinosaurs roamed the earth. Although it was long before the days of modern humans, during this time, the planet was home to mostly modern-looking species -- including apes, deer and horses.

The findings of the study have staggering implications for what increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere and a changing climate could mean for the planet in the not-so-distant future.

Levels of carbon dioxide during the Miocene era were around 400 to 600 parts per million (ppm) -- not much higher than the modern-day level of 393 ppm. According to the authors of the study, if CO2 levels increase at the same rate they are today, they will reach the amounts seen during the Miocene period by the end of this century.

Could Antarctica really become a green paradise before the end of our lifetimes? It's possible, according to Sarah J. Feakins, assistant professor of earth sciences at the USC Dornsife College and lead author of the study.

"Just as history has a lot to teach us about the future, so does past climate," she said. "What this record shows us is how much warmer and wetter it can get around the Antarctic ice sheet as the climate system heats up."

In the global warming that occurred during the Miocene era, the western part of the Antarctic ice sheet retreated, and the eastern part contracted, the scientists found. Those changes followed a period of substantial ice growth, however, and Earth's landmasses and ecosystems were substantially different from what they are today.

Although the underlying goal of this study was to better understand the impact of rising CO2 levels, only time will tell what the effects of a rapidly changing climate will be on not only Antarctica, but the rest of the planet.


Warmists tell us what global warming looks like

Some more Greenie logic:

"A trio of scientists say the scorching heat, high winds and bone-dry conditions fueling catastrophic wildfires in the US offer a preview of the kind of disasters human-caused climate change could bring.

"What we're seeing is a window into what global warming really looks like," Princeton University's Michael Oppenheimer said.

"It looks like heat, it looks like fires, it looks like this kind of environmental disaster... this provides vivid images of what we can expect to see more of in the future."

In Colorado, wildfires that have raged for weeks have killed four people, displaced thousands and destroyed hundreds of homes.

Because winter snowpack was lighter than usual and melted sooner, fire season started earlier in the US, with wildfires out of control in Colorado, Montana and Utah.

The high temperatures that are helping drive these fires are consistent with projections by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said this kind of extreme heat, with little cooling overnight, is one kind of damaging impact of global warming."

But look at the graph below:

It looks like we are actually having global cooling if wildfires are the indicator.

Much more HERE

Does the Greenie logic ever stop?

"The Register" recently relayed a new finding about the Fimbul ice shelf (floating ice) in the Antarctic: It isn't melting overall and what melting there is comes from the bottom up rather than top down. That is of course very pesky for theories about the influence of atmospheric CO2.

It is so pesky that some of the Warmists involved have "replied" to the Register. Their reply in essence: "It is only one little pesky iceshelf and doesn't tell us about the whole of the Antarcric and, anyway, satellite measurements tell us that the rest of the Antarctic IS SO melting."

What they fail to mention is that the Fimbul shelf was deliberately chosen for its potential as a bellwether of the Antarctic as a whole. As Science Daily says:

"The Fimbul Ice Shelf -- located along eastern Antarctica in the Weddell Sea -- is the sixth largest of the forty-three ice shelves that dapple Antarctica's perimeter. Both its size and proximity to the Eastern Antarctic Ice Sheet -- the largest ice sheet on Earth, which if it melted, could lead to extreme changes in sea level -- have made the Fimbul Ice Shelf an attractive object of study"

Furthermore it is precisely the satellite measurements that the Fimbul data discredits. If the satellites were wrong about the Fimbul melting, what credibility do they have in telling us about the rest of the Antarctic?

The circling of the wagons concerned is below. The last sentence contains an interesting admission:

"Crafty boffins" have discovered "no ice is being lost at all" from the eastern Antarctic, the Register claimed in delighted tones on Monday.

Is it right? Not if you take a look at the research discussed by the IT blog - which has quite the penchant for publishing skeptic takes on new climate science. In fact, the research's lead author of told us it reveals a slower melt rate than previously thought for one ice shelf - the Fimbul ice shelf in Antarctica, but doesn't contradict or undermine research which shows the continent losing mass.

Under the headline 'Antarctic ice shelves not melting at all, new field data show'. the Register says:

"Twenty-year-old models which have suggested serious ice loss in the eastern Antarctic have been compared with reality for the first time - and found to be wrong, so much so that it now appears that no ice is being lost at all."

But what did the "boffins" do, and were their conclusions as dramatic as suggested?

Scientists drilled through the vast Fimbul Ice Shelf in eastern Antarctica to see if they could find out how fast the shelf's underside is melting and determine what is causing it. They concluded that models estimating that ice shelves in this region are losing significant amounts of ice are overestimating the melt rate. Ice shelves are floating bodies of ice that connect continental ice sheets like the East Antarctic ice sheet to the sea. They range in thickness from 50 metres or so up to a couple of hundred metres.

The scientists placed recording devices in the holes they drilled in the ice, which collected data over two years. They supplemented the data from the drilling with temperature, salinity and depth readings from sensors fitted to a group of elephant seals, which were being monitored as part of a project by biologists from the Norwegian Polar Institute.

It's a very clever way to get continuous data on conditions in the area - the seals spend the entire winter around the Fimbul ice shelf. So the data from their sensor packs gave the scientists nine months' worth of detailed information about circulation changes in the water surrounding the ice sheet - how warm and salty it was at different locations and depths.

According to the paper, the combined data from the sensors on the seals and the sensors in the ice helped the scientists understand in more detail how ocean circulation patterns heat the underside of the ice shelf, something which they note had been a "major source of uncertainty" in previous attempts to assess the melt rate of Antarctic ice shelves. Previous models simply assuming that the warm deep ocean alone caused ice shelves to melt from beneath, so this is a more sophisticated approach.

Says lead author of the sturdy Tore Hattermann: "It has been unclear, until now, how much warm deep water rises below the Fimbul Ice shelf, and previous ocean models, focusing on the circulation below the Fimbul Ice Shelf, have predicted temperatures and melt rates that are too high, suggesting a significant mass loss in this region that is actually not taking place as fast as previously thought."

Slow ice shelf melt doesn't mean Antarctica's not losing ice

Based on this, the Register concludes not only that "no ice is being lost" "in the Eastern Antarctic", but also that the research casts doubt on satellite observations of ice loss in the Antarctic full stop.

According to one of the authors of the research, this isn't the case, and the conclusion doesn't accord with other research from the region. On a continental scale, satellite data from the whole of Antarctica show the continent has been losing ice in recent years, and that the ice loss is accelerating. Most of this ice loss has been from the West Antarctic ice sheet, particularly from the Antarctic Peninsula. This study doesn't undermine those conclusions.

The East Antarctic Ice Sheet is losing ice as well - it had been thought to be reasonably stable, but more recent satellite measurements indicate the body has been losing ice since around 2006, particularly along parts of the coastline.

The new research reports that its findings agree with satellite data showing a "steady state mass balance" on the Fimbul ice sheet. This means that the ice on the shelves is currently building due to snowfall while it's also melting - processes that currently balance out. But the finding that there isn't any net ice loss at present on the ice shelf isn't the same as saying the ice isn't changing, or that there's no ice loss in the wider region.

Hatterman pointed out to us:

"In west Antarctica there is continuing rapid ice loss. Direct inflow of warm deep water is eroding some ice shelves there, such as the Pine Island glacier ice shelf"

Indeed, this paper shows that the inflow of warm deep waters is the primary control of Antarctic ice sheet loss. But, Hatterman says, the findings show it's important to differentiate between different Antarctic regions to fully understand what's happening to the continent. He adds:

"Our results do not change the overall conclusion that Antarctica is currently losing mass."

Finally, one of the authors of the paper has just responded directly to the Register, saying the story "misled" readers:

"Our results suggest that the rate at which *some* ice shelves are melting is less than previously thought. We did not question the overall conclusion that the Antarctic ice sheet as a whole is currently losing mass, which has consistently been concluded from several different methods.

A few days after our article was published, a piece profiling our work appeared at the Register of the UK written by Lewis Page entitled, 'Antarctic ice shelves not melting at all, new field data show.' This is the equivalent of turning the statement "the cancer is not as bad as we thought" into "you don't have cancer."

The severely distorted version of our study's conclusions then spread rapidly across the internet. It is a pattern that climate researchers have unfortunately observed many times, part of a widening gulf of misinformation between scientists and society.

As one of the authors of this study, I can only repeat: this is not what we said. We have been misrepresented, and you, the reader, have been misled by some of those who claim - as scientists and journalists both surely should - to provide you with facts."

It seems particularly difficult for outlets to accurately report ice shelf melt in the Antarctic. We've seen occasions when the research has been overplayed to suggest too much ice loss. Now it seems the balance has swung the other way.


World’s Lakes Show Global Temperature Standstill

Schneider et al 2012 in a poster presentation to the two-day, “Taking the temperature of the Earth Conference,” that ends today, has the clever idea of looking at the temperatures of lakes and reservoirs around the world. They point out that in situ observations of lake surface temperatures are very rare on a global scale, but infrared imagery from space can be used to infer water surface temperatures of lakes and reservoirs.

They provide data for 169 of the largest inland water bodies world- wide using three satellite-borne instruments. Together they provide daily to near-daily data from 1981 through to the present, allowing them to calculate 25-year trends of nighttime summertime/dry-season surface temperature.

They find that the surface temperatures of the water bodies have been “rapidly warming” with an average rate of 0.350 ± 0.11 deg C per decade for the period 1985–2001.

Two years ago Schneider et al published what was then described as the first global survey of lake temperatures. Then the researchers found a decadal trend of 0.45 deg C.

The researchers say the results provide a critical new independent data source on climate change that indicates lake warming in certain regions is greater than expected based on air temperature data.

Note that the trend line depends entirely on the first part of the data. For the second half there is no trend

Their graph of temperature anomaly looks very familiar to anyone who is knows the global temperature datasets over the past thirty years. However, I don’t think their regression line is a good description of the data. My preliminary calculations suggest that there is no statistically significant trend post-1997. Hence an alternate description of their findings is that the world’s large bodies of water show the well known standstill of the past decade or so seen in global temperatures.

Note: While it is possible to draw a linear regression line between 1997 and 2011 (you can draw a trendline through almost anything) that yields 0.1 deg per decade it is statistically meaningless given the large variance of the data. The error on the trendline is several times its magnitude, and it is highly sensitive to moving the start and endpoint by a year or two.

Conclusion: No statistically significant trend post-1997. Since 1997 the data is best represented by a straight line of mean 0.21 deg with a large standard deviation of 0.95 deg. Below is the post-1997 portion of the researcher's graph. It is easy to see that the trendline calculated from the 1985-2011 data does not fit this section of the data in which there is no trend

SOURCE (See the original for more graphics)

After Rio – what next?

It’s time to give all mankind a real chance to enjoy genuine development

By physicist Kelvin Kemm

The Rio+20 World Environmental Conference has come and gone. The “Plus 20” comes from the fact that it took place twenty years after the first such conference, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. Between these dates, I was a delegate at the 2002 world environment conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ever since 1992 I have watched the eco-evolution taking place.

There is a good side and a bad side. The good side is that general world environmental awareness has been enhanced. That is definitely good. But there is still so much to be done, especially in poor countries where many people are always on the edge of survival, people must eke out a living off the land, and many will do whatever it takes to earn a little cash, to just survive another day.

Here in South Africa we see the daily international poaching attacks on our elephants and rhinos. It’s disgraceful. For us in the south, on midwinter’s day in June (our winters are the opposite of those in the Northern Hemisphere), the total rhinos shot this year stands at 251, just to get their horns, which are still viewed as aphrodisiacs and medicine in many Asian countries. Last year’s total was 448, more than one a day – so it’s getting worse. Poachers are now using helicopters and machine guns, and often taking chainsaws to still living rhinos.

There is much to do to sustain and protect the world’s natural environment. That should be done – but done well, and honestly. The bad side of Rio+20 is the degree of scientific dishonesty and economic manipulation that has crept into the international debate. That is shocking.

In recent years we have heard a great deal about “climate change.” I am on record as saying I do not believe human activities that produce carbon dioxide (CO2) are making any significant contribution to climate change – certainly not anything dangerous or catastrophic.

Observed climate change appears to be in line with past historic meteorological cycles – and likely linked to natural cosmic rays interacting with the magnetic fields of the earth and the sun’s interactive magnetic screening system.

But there are organisations in the world that want mankind to be at fault, so that there is someone to blame and attack, someone to tax and control, and someone to encourage to be “traditional” and “sustainable” – and consequently in a state of perpetual primitive poverty and disease ... on the edge of survival.

It was noticeable that Rio+20 moved away from the theme of “climate change.” It would appear that the disastrous climate change, which green extremists predicted with such great relish, has not been occurring. So climate change is dying as a “marketable concept.” They can’t use it to scare enough people anymore.

Thus the Rio+20 summit focused on the concepts of “biodiversity” and “sustainable development,” as the main themes, and therefore the main “worries.” If people can be made to worry, they can be made to fear, and then they can be controlled.

Rio+20 was all about international control. Certain green organisations clearly want to exert direct control over world governments, and want to impose their brand of world government on our planet, communities, businesses and families. The concepts of biodiversity and sustainable development give them the leverage.

The greens claim that our plant and animal species, our natural resources, our air and water, and our planet are in such desperate trouble that the extreme greens must take control. They will then defend “biodiversity,” and to do this they will decide what “sustainable development” actually means and how it must be implemented.

They will decide how, when and where any community will be permitted to “develop.” It is interesting to take another look at the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development, which came out of the 2002 world environment conference in Johannesburg. It included language asking that the world pay attention to “the worldwide conditions that pose severe threats to the sustainable development of our people, which include: chronic hunger; malnutrition … and endemic, communicable and chronic diseases, in particular HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis."

What happened to all these human issues at Rio+20? They were gone. For some reason, the Rio version of “biodiversity” and “sustainability” did not include humans.

In Rio the head of the WWF stated that the WWF wanted “transparent annual reporting and review on subsidy reforms, leading to the elimination by 2020 of all environmentally harmful subsidies, in particular fossil fuel subsidies.” Who do these people think they are? And why have they said nothing at all about the nearly $1 trillion that Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports has been spent worldwide just since 2004 on wind, solar, biofuel and other “renewable” energy schemes that any objective observer would understand are simply not “sustainable” on economic, environmental or any other grounds.

Moreover, this WWF statement is intended to give authenticity to some “world government,” to tell sovereign nations how to care for their own citizens.

In many African countries building a coal-fired power station will reduce CO2 emissions. How? Because there are millions of families who have no electricity, and so cook on wood or dung fires. These fires burn inefficiently and produce not just carbon dioxide, but many airborne pollutants that harm or even kill people. If thousands of these fires are replaced by a modern coal-fired power plant, the net effect would be to lead to improved air quality and less CO2 per unit of energy.

Such an action would be a significant advance, even if the CO2 actually were a problem, though much scientific evidence shows that it is not. This evidence of course is shouted down by those with vested interests in perpetuating “dangerous manmade climate change” as a thesis, and as a professional sinecure. Such an approach is not honest, and it is not science.

Meanwhile, however, European countries have introduced a carbon emissions tax on passenger aircraft flying over their airspace. The tax, per passenger, is calculated on total miles flown, so passengers flying to Europe from faraway places like South Africa and Australia pay much higher emissions taxes to the Europeans to clean up Euro air than do the EU’s own citizens, who collectively fly far more cumulative miles around Europe. Despite appeals from South Africa to spare us the tax, we were turned down. We are getting sick and tired of this high handed First World attitude.

Now from Rio+20 we are told that a goal for development is to move away from “outdated” concepts like measuring national growth using Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – and to rather use more “modern” and “equitable” measures like the “Happy Planet Index” (HPI), under which some world authority or bureaucrat is going to place an “environmental value” on keeping our environment “pristine” and “traditional.” Those values will be built into the HPI. Meantime, many people in Africa will continue to cut down habitats to burn wood and dung, and we will fight elephant and rhino poachers all by ourselves.

In Rio, eight of the world’s largest development banks announced the largest monetary commitment to come out of Rio+20, a “socially responsible” US$175 billion initiative to shift investment away from roads to public transport. They want to use the money to promote buses, trains and bicycles, instead of cars and aeroplanes.

In many parts of Africa they don’t even have a road yet. No electricity either, nor school nor clinic.

It is time for UN, EU, US and other green do-gooders to get off their anti-development high horse. It’s time to give all of mankind a real chance to enjoy genuine development. It’s time to stop using a “preserving biodiversity” ruse to keep the world’s most impoverished people forever in poverty.

Received by email

Bigger EPA Fight Still to Come

While the DC Court of Appeals has just ruled in favor of the Obama Administration in rejecting challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency's rules concerning carbon dioxide emissions from cars and light trucks (the so-called "tailpipe emissions standards"), Senior Fellow Patrick J. Michaels believes the larger battle is still to come:

"On June 25, the public comment period for the EPA's proposed regulations on coal-fired power plants ended," said Michaels. "After thorough review, I found that the report from the U.S Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), which served as the source for the scientific opinions underlying the original endangerment finding in 2010, is unrepresentative of the larger body of scientific research on the topic of anthropogenic climate change and its potential impacts on the United States."

Michaels, working with a team of experts and scientists, assembled an addendum to the USGCRP report, which they submitted as comments on June 22.

"Our review represents the most comprehensive scientific critique of the EPA Endangerment Finding on coal-fired plants ever written, and directly counters their claims on how climate change impacts in the United States, using a much more exhaustive survey of peer-reviewed science than the EPA relied upon," said Michaels.

Michaels also cautions against relying too much on static reports in rulemaking on climate change.

"No static report can provide long-term guidance as to the nature of climate change and its impacts, as this field is constantly evolving under the weight of new scientific findings. Consequently, it is imperative that the EPA reassess the current scientific understanding on at least an annual basis," said Michaels.

The EPA is expected to finalize regulations regarding emissions from coal-fired plants later this year.


Australia: Gasp! Environmental protection to be wound back to enable mining!

THE Steve Irwin Reserve on Cape York is expected to be mined, with Environment Minister Andrew Powell yesterday moving to wind back Wild Rivers environment protection.

Mr Powell released a scoping paper for a proposed management plan, which is expected to replace Wild Rivers protection on at least four rivers.

Under Wild Rivers, the previous government placed a 500m buffer zone on the Wenlock River, potentially making Cape Alumina's multibillion-dollar Pisolite Hills bauxite mine proposal unprofitable.

Wilderness Society spokesman Tim Seelig said yesterday he feared the mine would destroy the Wenlock, which had the highest number of freshwater species in Australia.

"We know Cape Alumina is just waiting to get its plans back on the table," he said. "Once protection is removed, it will be open slather."

Cape Alumina managing director Graeme Sherlock said the company was concentrating on its nearby Bauxite Hills project, rather than Pisolite Hills.

In April, Mr Sherlock said if Premier Campbell Newman changed wild rivers legislation, Pisolite Hills would be reassessed.

Cape Alumina proposes to use 12,360ha or about 9 per cent of the Irwin Reserve, which is the old Bertiehaugh cattle station.

Dr Seelig said Mr Powell was winding back the clock on environment protection.

"This will inevitably lead to more destructive development such as mining and dams in our last free-flowing rivers," Dr Seelig said.

Eight new mines had been proposed for the Cape's east and west coasts.

"(The Government needs) to commit to protecting the environment ... as the first priority and only support truly sustainable economic activities," Dr Seelig said.

He supported Mr Powell's whole-of-region conservation approach although there were few details in the scoping paper.

Mr Powell said he would release details next week but the bioregion management plan would focus on protection and management of the Cape, while allowing appropriate opportunities for economic development.

The policy would give Indigenous communities a bigger say in economic development.

Dr Seelig said he was glad Mr Powell proposed to continue the Cape York World Heritage listing process on one of the last great wild places on earth.

Activist Noel Pearson has campaigned against Wild Rivers but the process has been supported by other Murris.

The Irwin Reserve purchase was funded by former Liberal prime minister John Howard to honour television celebrity and conservationist Steve Irwin.



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28 June, 2012

Irony: Green laws may derail California's high-speed rail

"What we're talking about," President Obama once said, "is a vision for high-speed rail in America. Imagine boarding a train in the center of a city. No racing to an airport and across a terminal, no delays, no sitting on the tarmac, no lost luggage, no taking off your shoes. Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation, and ending up just blocks from your destination."

This was Obama's vision for high-speed rail in his stimulus package, toward which he devoted $8 billion. If it sounded too good to be true, it's because it was. Multiple studies and the experiences of other nations suggest that high-speed rail is a fiscal black hole. Its ridership and utility are almost always overestimated when projects are undertaken. High-speed rail lines are typically finished at costs well beyond projections, then require massive annual operating subsidies in perpetuity just to keep running.

Some Republican governors, such as Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Rick Scott in Florida and John Kasich in Ohio, wisely canceled Obama's high-speed rail projects in their own states. They did so at the risk of appearing petty, because it meant turning down hundreds of millions or even billions in federal money. But California Gov. Jerry Brown has persisted, even though the price tag for his state's rail project has gradually risen from $33 billion to $100 billion. And in order to guarantee the project goes forward despite public skepticism, Brown proposed to exempt the project from environmental injunctions. Without this exemption, it will probably be impossible to start construction by the Dec. 31, 2012, deadline stipulated by the federal stimulus law. Obama's Transportation Department reaffirmed this time limit last year when it admitted it had "no administrative authority to change this deadline."

But the environmentalists' pressure finally got to Brown. The Los Angeles Times reported last week that he is backing down on the exemption. This all but guarantees that the project is dead. Federal courts routinely issue injunctions to stop projects before they ever begin, and the city of Chowchilla has already filed a lawsuit charging that the California High-Speed Rail Authority failed to conduct a proper Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act and the National Environmental Protection Act. Studies show that the average time to complete the NEPA process is 6.1 years.

Even if Chowchilla voluntarily dismisses its suit, there is no shortage of other challenges ready to go to court. Farmers have already sued to stop the project in state court, claiming that the Rail Authority's plan violates the wording of the state ballot measure that created it. If they lose, there is nothing stopping them, or other farmers, or an environmentalist group, or anyone else from later pursuing a NEPA or CEQA claim. It may never get that far, because the state legislature has only until July 1 to approve the funds necessary to begin this fool's errand.

Despite a lack of evidence that high-speed rail will reduce traffic congestion or bring any noticeable environmental benefits, this and other rail projects have been billed as "green." It will be poetic justice if the very laws established by the green lobby help to derail it and put an end to Obama's vision of high-speed rail.


Global warming is now old hat -- even to the Greenies

Now it's "social justice" = giving money to people who didn't earn it

The Rio+20 gathering, officially the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, turned sour. The Guardian reports that one thousand NGOs (Non-Government organizations), institutions and individuals are upset with the official Rio+20 communiqué “The Future We Want.” To show their resolve, the NGOs signed a petition “The Future We Don’t Want.” [1]

Lord Christopher Monckton said “It’s all about extending the power and reach of the global-government wannabes.” “Of course, there are real environmental problems,” he added, “but they should be addressed at the local and national level — and by the free market — not by out-of-control planetary bureaucrats seeking to create a world socialist government.” [2]

The Rio Agenda

The Rio agenda involved a lot of unrelated things. The official website [3] called it “Peoples Summit for Social and Environmental Justice in defense of the commons.” The Brazilian Civil Society’s Facilitator Committee stated “The global civil society, organizations, collectives and social movements will occupy the landfill to propose a new way of living on the planet, in solidarity against the commodification of nature and in defense of the commons.” [3]

The same site [3] lists the key actors: “Three key actors will be present at Rio:

Governments and heads of state gathered in the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (commonly called the “Earth Summit”).

Non-Governmental Organisations of the UN system, grouped in 9 socio-professional groups within an informal Stakeholder Forum: women, children and youth, indigenous peoples, local authorities, NGOs, workers and unions, businesses and industries, scientific and technological communities, farmers and peasants (the groups have their own 2 (or more) Organising Partners (OP).

Citizens and organisations of civil society, i.e. social movements, multiple networks and thematic or socio-professional organisations, among them migrants, religious and spiritual leaders, social leaders, artists, journalists, urban planners, fishermen, lawyers, elected politicians and parliamentarians, the military, unions, educators and teachers, municipalities and cities… to name a few. They will form a “Peoples Summit” that will not be a parallel summit nor a counter summit, but rather a fundamental actor for Rio+20.”

The Agenda Shift

The agenda shift from the original Eco-92 gathering in Rio (1992), i.e. “global warming” to “climate change” to “environmental justice” to “social justice” happened slowly, but it was a long-term goal by its ideologists all along. By now it’s all about “social justice” with “collectives” that will tell you what you want or should do. The former buzz words ‘environment’ and ‘climate change’ have disappeared too. While “biodiversity” is still a valid buzz word, the fact that habitat loss is its major enemy is not mentioned, or understood.

Moreover, with the previously touted “Global Warming” scare, supposedly due to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, rapidly being exposed as the greatest scientific hoax since “Piltdown Man” certainly does not help its cause either. However, the new deity, “social justice” also comes with its own set of conundrums.

Social Justice

Social justice is in the eye of the beholder. It will have entirely different meanings for a well-to-do metropolitan-type city dweller compared to a subsistence farmer in the middle of anywhere. For the former, reliable on-demand electric power, 24/7, is an accustomed and vital necessity. For the subsistence farmer, having ANY power, other than his own, is progress already.

Not surprisingly then, what was previously seen as “green”, such as renewable energy from hydro-electric power plants (all of which need water-level-raising dams) are no longer all that “green.” The Rio+20 summit had a variety of protests against new hydro-electric power dams [4].

In the end, it all boils down to a simple question: What would you rather have, the subsistence lifestyle of the peasant farmer or the conveniences of the modern city dweller? The answer is obvious from a simple fact:

The majority of the 45,000 activists attending Rio+20 had not gone there by dug-out canoe!


Big carbon credit rackets in Britain

A UK court has wound up a company it says misled private investors by comparing near worthless carbon credits to gold, the latest in a string of firms found to market poor quality offsets to the general public in a practice that financial regulators say has grown exponentially in the past 18 months.

At the High Court in London on Wednesday, the UK government was successful in its request to liquidate Tullett Brown, a firm it said made 1.6 million pounds by misleading customers into buying unregulated credits at almost four times what it paid for them.

Last month, another probe by the Insolvency Service prompted the High Court to shut down a web of companies that it says made 6.5 million pounds by mis-selling land and carbon credits and were linked by the name Manor Rose.

The business practice often involves cold-calling and misleading private investors into thinking they were buying U.N. carbon credits that can be used by governments and companies to meet legally-binding emission reduction targets.

In fact, the credits offered were not regulated by the U.N. and were unlikely to meet future price projections for U.N. credits that the sellers portrayed in glossy marketing brochures from banks such as Barclays.

No-one from Tullett Brown was willing to comment on the record, but a former employee denied portraying the credits as U.N.-issued units, but did admit some employees had no experience whatsoever in financial markets.

“It’s an unregulated market, so many people trading are themselves unregulated,” he said on condition of anonymity.


Despite lacking many powers to stop the firms from marketing voluntary credits, the UK Financial Services Authority is concerned about the rise in the practice.

“We suspect that many of the firms and individuals who were previously selling land are now selling carbon credits. The figures appear to support this,” said Jonathan Phelan, an official with the Financial Services Authority.

Having received no reports about firms selling carbon credits in 2010, 78 firms were brought to the FSA’s attention in 2011 and a further 38 in the first six months of the year, he said.

The Insolvency Service, which investigated Tullett Brown, said it couldn’t provide a figure on how much mis-selling of carbon units had cost investors, but it did say that 78 rogue companies that raked in over 28 million pounds from the public through selling different assets have been shut down in the past three years.

However, the full extent of losses is likely to be much bigger because many victims fail to report that they have been tricked.

“Many are high-earning retired professionals and don’t want to contact the authorities because they feel embarrassed,” said Joe Peacock of the Insolvency Service, who led the investigation into Tullett Brown.


U.S. Court Judges Confess to Bias in Greenhouse Gas Emissions Case

Three federal judges admit to being biased in favor of a government agency when granting a landmark decision in favor of caps and taxes on “greenhouse gas” emissions. Court rules Earth’s atmosphere does act like a greenhouse after all.

In a shock landmark ruling (June 26, 2012) the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit throws out a key pro-industry petition challenging restrictions on industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called “greenhouse gases.” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson called the decision a “strong validation” of the approach the agency has taken. In contrast, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) reacted angrily,“The Obama administration is attempting to regulate greenhouse gases in the absence of legislation.”

The 81-page decision affirms that on the science of man-made global warming the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is the one and only arbiter when a case goes to trial. Completely taking the EPA’s word on the science, the court was satisfied that “greenhouse gases in the atmosphere may reasonably be anticipated both to endanger public health and to endanger public welfare.”As such, say the judges, the EPA is not contravening the Clean Air Act by radically limiting industrial emissions of carbon dioxide.

Judges Admit Bias In Favor of EPA Alarmism

Despite the gravity of the case, all three judges involved admit to their utter “bias” in favor of the federal agency on the science. The court panel admits, “we give an extreme degree of deference to the agency when it is evaluating scientific data within its technical expertise.” Crassly, the court further decided that Earth’s atmosphere does act “like a greenhouse” to the consternation of scientists not on the government payroll.

To add salt to the wound, The DC Circuit Court of Appeals actually cited a YouTube cartoon video in its effort to assist EPA break the law with respect to greenhouse gas regulation (H/T:

The findings have also caught skeptics of man-made global warming off guard at a time when they were still rejoicing at the collapse the Rio+20 Climate Summit last week. If the petitioners had known from the outset that this would be the approach of the judges then they could have saved themselves the time and huge expense.

As such, this breathtaking ruling is set to trigger a backlash among all those opposed to the creeping rise in crippling new environmental regulations. This is because all U.S. courts will be required to recognize the EPA has ultimate “technical expertise” in such matters. As such President Obama has succeeded in bypassing Congress in getting his rubber stamp for more climate taxes and more junk science on the public dole.

The EPA now has the legal green light to pursue those related environmental policies of President Obama. Obama, up for re-election later this year, already failed to drive carbon dioxide (CO2) limiting legislation through Congress earlier in his presidency. Now he has succeeded by other means via the EPA regulations that had previously determined CO2 is a “pollutant” via the Clean Air Act.


Anti-Israel journalist Gwynne Dyer compares climate skeptics to Nazis

With all the usual charm of the Green/Left. Dyer's expertise is in military history. Perhaps he should bone up on some physics too. He might even learn the melting point of ice and how far away the polar glaciers are from that

There was no law against genocide in the early 1940s; it only became an internationally recognised crime after the worst genocide of modern history had actually happened. Similarly, there is no law against ”ecocide” now. That will only come to pass when the damage to the environment has become so extreme that large numbers of people are dying from it even in rich and powerful countries.

They are already dying from the effects of environmental destruction in some poor countries, but that makes no difference because they are powerless. By the time it starts to hurt large numbers of people in powerful countries, 20 or 30 years from now, most of the politicians who conspired to smother any substantial progress at the Rio+20 Earth Summit will be safely beyond the reach of any law. But eventually there will be a law.


Al Gore: Heat Kills

From his blog:

You know what’s more dangerous than heat? The cold:

More than 2,500 people in England and Wales are likely to perish from cold in the week leading up to Christmas, experts said today.

The forecast from the Faculty of Public Health and Met Office comes amid renewed concern over the plight of the poor and vulnerable during cold snaps.

Each winter, a larger proportion of Britons die because of unseasonable cold weather than in either Finland or Russia.

An estimated 40,000 more people die between December and March in the UK than would be expected from death rates during other times of the year.

More than half the deaths are due to heart attacks, strokes and circulatory problems and a third from lung disease. When the temperature suddenly plummets, as it has this weekend, the danger is even more acute.

Professor Sian Griffiths, president of the Faculty of Public Health, which sets and maintains professional standards in public health, said: “A high proportion of preventable illness and deaths in the UK is caused by people living in damp and cold housing.

“If we see much more of the cold weather of recent days, it is likely that as many as 50,000 people will die unnecessarily over this winter. This is a tragedy in terms of human life and also creates a huge – and preventable – strain on the NHS.

Hmm: 50,000 vs. 700. Maybe we need more global warming . . .



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


27 June, 2012

Al Gore: The "Dear Leader"

America's very own Kim Jong Il

Al Gore. Just his name warms our hearts with love and admiration. He loves the environment. He cares about the environment. He’s doing everything he can to protect the environment.

He has won so many major awards for his concern about the planet. Wikipedia’s Al Gore article states:

"Gore has received a number of awards including the Nobel Peace Prize (joint award with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) (2007), a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album (2009) for his book An Inconvenient Truth, a Primetime Emmy Award for Current TV (2007), and a Webby Award (2005). Gore was also the subject of the Academy Award-winning (2007) documentary An Inconvenient Truth in 2006. In 2007 he was named a runner-up for Time’s 2007 Person of the Year."

Ah… isn’t that sweet? Why, there’s no one who cares more about the earth than Al Gore!

In addition to that article, wikipedia has a whole entire other article called Environmental activism of Al Gore, which is devoted to telling us just how much Gore cares about the Earth. He must be an incredibly wonderful caretaker of the planet, to have an article such as that!

But wait! Certain information about Gore has been repeatedly deleted from both of those articles. Gore’s supporters have made sure that readers will never learn what Gore truly thinks about the environment.

This information has been added to both articles multiple times, but it always get erased. Editors who continue to add these things to the articles get accused of “edit warring,” and if they continue to put the information into the articles, they get blocked from editing for 24 hours. If they continue adding the information after their 24 hour block expires, they get blocked for a week, then they get topic banned from editing any Gore related articles for three months, and then they get banned, permanently, from editing any of wikipedia. If they then create a new account, they get accused of “sock puppeting,” and the new account gets permanently banned.

Because of this repeated and persistent censorship, those two article on Gore are puff pieces which ignore the things that Gore has actually done to the environment.

Here is the content that Gore’s supporters have repeatedly censored from those two articles:

Gore has been repeatedly accused of environmental hypocrisy. Gore has been criticized for owning a private jet.

In July 2008 when Gore gave a speech on global warming in Washington D.C., he was criticized for bringing a fleet of two Lincoln Town Cars and a Chevy Suburban SUV, and for letting one of the vehicle’s engine and air conditioner idle for 20 minutes.

Gore has been criticized for owning stock in Occidental Petroleum, a company which drilled for oil in ecologically sensitive areas. He was also criticized because a zinc mine on his property had polluted a nearby river.

In 2010, Gore admitted that his 1994 tie breaking vote as President of the Senate in support of ethanol subsidies was actually bad for the environment, and that he did it for political reasons.

Despite Gore’s repeated insistence that global warming is causing sea level to rise, in 2010, he spent $8,875,000 on an ocean-view villa in Montecito, California.

A report by Science and Public Policy Institute pointed out 35 alleged errors in Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth.

Gore was criticized for stating that the temperature of the earth’s core was “several million degrees,” when in fact the actual temperature is several thousand degrees.

Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize award was criticized because Gore had beat out Irena Sendler, who had been nominated for saving the lives of 2,500 children and infants during the Holocaust.


Rio: Killing the Earth Since 1992


Quite possibly the only good thing about [the] Rio + 20 summit is that it coincides with the publication of a brilliant new book called Os Melancias. If you're American or Canadian you'll know it as Watermelons: The Green Movement's True Colors. In Britain, it's called Watermelons: How The Environmentalists Are Killing The Planet, Destroying The Economy And Stealing Your Children's Future. And in Australia and Kiwiland it is called Killing The Earth To Save It: How Environmentalists Are Ruining The Planet, Destroying The Economy And Stealing Your Jobs. Oh, and it's also available in Estonian.

I wish that I could say that these titles were an hysterical exaggeration but unfortunately - read the book, read the copious references - they are no more than the truth. Thanks to the junk science, bogus computer projections, and scaremongering of the environmental movement the planet and its inhabitants have suffered grievously these last 20 years. Here - courtesy of Paul Driessen and David Rothbard - are just a few examples of damage that has been done, ostensibly to save us all from the threat of Man-Made Climate Change.

Today, over 1.5 billion people still do not have electricity, or have it only a few hours each day or week. Almost 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day. Millions die every year from diseases that would be largely eradicated by access to reliable, affordable electricity for cooking and refrigeration, clinics and hospitals, clean water, sanitation, and businesses and industries that generate jobs, prosperity and health.

Opposition to large-scale electricity generation forces people to rely on open fires for cooking and heating - perpetuating lung diseases and premature death, from breathing smoke and pollutants. It also destroys gorilla and other wildlife habitats, as people cut trees and brush for firewood and charcoal.

Wind turbines slice up birds and collapse bat lungs, exacting an unsustainable toll on eagles, hawks, falcons, and other rare, threatened and endangered flying creatures.

Turbine and solar arrays cover and disrupt millions of acres of farmland and wildlife habitat, to provide expensive, intermittent power for urban areas. They require backup generators and long transmission lines, and consume millions of tons of concrete, steel, copper, fiberglass, polymers and rare earth minerals - extracted from the Earth, often in countries whose pollution control regulations and technologies are substantially below US, Canadian, European and Australian standards.

Corn-based ethanol requires tens of millions of acres, billions of gallons of water, millions of tons of fertilizer and insecticides, and enormous quantities of hydrocarbon fuels.

And these greenies are supposed to be the good guys? As soon as I've finished writing this post I shall be heading off to discuss these issues on the BBC's Daily Politics Show - on which, no doubt, a representative of some anti-capitalist, anti-freedom, anti-jobs, anti-growth environmental pressure group such as Friends Of The Earth (oh the irony of that name!) will be seeking to dismiss my arguments as those of a nature-loathing "denier" probably in the pay of Big Oil.

I think it's about time we started judging these Greenies on their track record rather than on their spin and emotionalizing, don't you?

Here are the facts: the catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming on which Maurice Strong and his watermelon cohorts asked us to bet the world economy back in 1992 hasn't happened.

That's why, at this Rio they're playing down the "Climate Change" issue and concentrating on "Biodiversity" instead.

But as Driessen and Rothbard note at Watts Up With That, there is no scientific evidence whatsoever for the greenies projections of catastrophic species loss.

Up to half of all species could go extinct by 2100, asserts astronomer and global warming alarmist James Hansen, because of climate change, "unsustainable" hydrocarbon use, human population growth and economic development. At Rio+20 activists are trumpeting these hysterical claims in reports, speeches and press releases. Fortunately, there is no factual basis for them.

Of 191 bird and mammal species recorded as having gone extinct since 1500, 95% were on islands, where humans and human-introduced predators and diseases wrought the destruction, notes ecology researcher Dr. Craig Loehle. On continents, only six birds and three mammals were driven to extinction, and no bird or mammal species in recorded history is known to have gone extinct due to climate change.

The massive species losses claimed by Hansen, Greenpeace, WWF and others are based on extrapolations from the island extinction rates. Some are just wild guesses or rank fear-mongering, with nothing remotely approximating scientific analysis. Other extrapolations are based on unfounded presumptions about species susceptibility to long or short term climate shifts - fed into clumsy, simplistic, non-validated virtual reality computer models that assume rising carbon dioxide levels will raise planetary temperatures so high that plants, habitats, and thus birds, reptiles and animals will somehow be exterminated. There is no evidence to support any of these extinction scenarios.

Hmm. Dramatic predictions of human-induced planetary doom based on nothing more substantial than a few dodgy computer projections. Now where have we seen that trick used before?


That Goddam pesky reality again!

Why can't it do what the "models" tell it?

Twenty-year-old models which have suggested serious ice loss in the eastern Antarctic have been compared with reality for the first time - and found to be wrong, so much so that it now appears that no ice is being lost at all.

"Previous ocean models ... have predicted temperatures and melt rates that are too high, suggesting a significant mass loss in this region that is actually not taking place," says Tore Hattermann of the Norwegian Polar Institute, member of a team which has obtained two years' worth of direct measurements below the massive Fimbul Ice Shelf in eastern Antarctica - the first ever to be taken.

According to a statement from the American Geophysical Union, announcing the new research:

"It turns out that past studies, which were based on computer models without any direct data for comparison or guidance, overestimate the water temperatures and extent of melting beneath the Fimbul Ice Shelf. This has led to the misconception, Hattermann said, that the ice shelf is losing mass at a faster rate than it is gaining mass, leading to an overall loss of mass.

The team’s results show that water temperatures are far lower than computer models predicted ..."

Hatterman and his colleagues, using 12 tons of hot-water drilling equipment, bored three holes more than 200m deep through the Fimbul Shelf, which spans an area roughly twice the size of New Jersey. The location of each hole was cunningly chosen so that the various pathways by which water moves beneath the ice shelf could be observed, and instruments were lowered down.

The boffins also supplemented their data craftily by harvesting info from a biology project, the Marine Mammal Exploration of the Oceans Pole to Pole (MEOP) effort, which had seen sensor packages attached to elephant seals.

"Nobody was expecting that the MEOP seals from Bouvetoya would swim straight to the Antarctic and stay along the Fimbul Ice Shelf for the entire winter," Hattermann says. "But this behaviour certainly provided an impressive and unique data set."

Normally, getting sea temperature readings along the shelf in winter would be dangerous if not impossible due to shifting pack ice - but the seals were perfectly at home among the grinding floes.

Overall, according to the team, their field data shows "steady state mass balance" on the eastern Antarctic coasts - ie, that no ice is being lost from the massive shelves there. The research is published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

This is good news indeed, as some had thought that huge amounts of ice were melting from the region, which might mean accelerated rates of sea level rise in future.


EPA’s new CAFÉ mileage standards kill

They will prevent many families from buying cars – and leave more grieving for lost loved ones

Deroy Murdock

Washington taxes and regulations keep yanking money from Americans’ wallets. Now EPA is preparing to make prices for cars and light trucks rise beyond the reach of low-income drivers. That’s bad enough. But from there, things grow deadly.

At fault is a regulatory regime known as Corporate Average Fuel Economy, and commonly called CAFÉ standards. Congress mandated these mileage rules in 1975, during a seemingly decade-long energy crisis. Washington has periodically hiked CAFÉ standards in an ongoing effort to boost automobile efficiency.

Lacking magic wands, car manufacturers spend money to obey these laws. And then – surprise! – up go sticker prices. Now EPA is using its self-proclaimed authority over carbon dioxide to justify tough new mileage standards, on the ground that they will reduce global warming and thus improve human health and welfare.

The National Automobile Dealers Association calculated on April 12 that a Chevrolet Aveo, the most affordable vehicle it studied, would climb from $12,700 to $15,700 by 2025, because of the rules. This $3,000 hike (in 2010 dollars, and without factoring in the costs of carrying a three to five-year loan) would prevent 6.8 million humble drivers from qualifying for loans to finance their purchases.

“Fuel economy improvements must be affordable,” New Mexico Ford dealer Don Chalmers told journalists at the estimate’s unveiling. “If my customers can’t buy what I’ve got to sell, there are no savings at the gas pump and there is no environmental benefit.”

Is this what Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson calls “environmental justice?”

Team Obama is fueling these anticipated price hikes by boosting CAFÉ standards from 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016 to 54.5 MPG by 2025.

As they have for 37 years, car companies will follow these new rules by making cars thinner and lighter, and made more from plastic and aluminum than from crash-resistant steel. Smaller, slighter vehicles get better mileage. But that hardly matters when a car smacks into a sycamore or cement wall, tumbles down a slope, or slams head-on into another vehicle.

That’s when even the most eco-conscious drivers would trade lower MPG for protective layers of thick steel. That’s real health and welfare.

The laws of physics are stubbornly impervious to Obama’s green slogans, no matter how abrasively he shouts them. (And note that the President and many Administration officials get chauffeured around in big limousines that are anything but low-mileage.) The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety concluded in 2007 that “None of the 15 vehicles with the lowest driver death rates is a small model. In contrast, 11 of the 16 vehicles with the highest death rates are mini or small models.”

“Fuel-standard lethality is as obvious as a smashed windshield,” J.R. Dunn observed in The American Thinker. He chillingly has detailed the mayhem that CAFÉ standards have unleashed.

According to the Brookings Institution, a 500-lb weight reduction of the average car increased annual highway fatalities by 2,200-3,900 and serious injuries by 11,000 and 19,500 per year. USA Today found that 7,700 deaths occurred for every mile per gallon gained in fuel economy standards. Smaller cars accounted for up to 12,144 deaths in 1997, 37% of all vehicle fatalities for that year.

How many deaths have resulted? Depending on which study you choose, the total ranges from 41,600 to 124,800. To that figure we can add between 352,000 and 624,000 people suffering serious injuries, including being crippled for life. In the past thirty years, fuel standards have become one of the major causes of death and misery in the United States — and one almost completely attributable to human stupidity and shortsightedness.

Focus briefly on the tears and tombstones behind these casualty figures. Most of these injuries involved major pain and hardship. Nearly each one of these CAFÉ-caused deaths featured crying loved ones, a casket, and someone inside it who probably made people smile just days earlier.

The only good news here is that road deaths have fallen lately, but for other reasons.

Says Dr. Soumi Eachempati, Chief of Trauma Services at Manhattan’s Weill Cornell Medical Center: “I feel the recent decreases in fatality data are due to many safety measures including better airbags, more states having seat belt laws, higher seat belt compliance, more strict drunk driving laws, better trauma care, better EMS, more traffic congestion in certain areas, and what some feel are safer road conditions.”

But rather than leave bad enough alone, Obama and company clamp down, ever harder. Strengthening CAFÉ standards by 53.5 percent by 2025 likely will yield deadlier cars. Airbags will do only so much while surrounded by materials that recall aluminum or vinyl siding.

Before Washington sends additional Americans to early graves, Team Obama should step off the gas pedal and ponder the physicist who wrote Traffic Safety. Dr. Leonard Evans was perfectly clear: “CAFÉ kills, and higher CAFÉ standards kill even more.”


Dodging Another UN Bullet

The Future We Want outlined a “common vision” for planetary “sustainable development,” as proclaimed by the “Organizing Partners of the Major Group of NGOs,” to guide the taxpayer-funded Rio+20 summit that ended last week in disarray and acrimony.

The activist organizations that cobbled the document together filled it with hundreds of platitudes and pseudo-solutions to global warming cataclysms, newly reconstituted as threats to resource depletion and biodiversity – and presented as standards and mandates for countries, communities and corporations.

The terms “sustainable development,” “sustainable” and “sustainability” appeared in the original text an astounding 390 times. Like “abracadabra,” these nebulous concepts were supposed to transform the world into a Garden of Eden global community, under United Nations auspices, that will use less, pollute less, and save species and planet from their worst enemy: humans.

To glean the document essence, however, readers only needed to understand two concepts: control and money – to impose the future the activists wanted.

The NGOs and UN called for “donations” from formerly rich European Union and Annex II (Kyoto Protocol) countries, at 0.7% of their gross national product per year. With the combined GNP of the contributing nations totaling about $45 trillion in 2010, the transfers would total $315 billion per year, or $3.2 trillion per decade.

President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton had previously committed the United States to provide $105 billion annually, based on our $15 trillion GNP (and strained line of credit). With US per capita GNP pegged at $47,340 – each American family of four would pay $1,325 a year. That may seem like chump change compared to TARP, Obamacare or the Obama Stimulus. But over a decade US citizens would involuntarily shell out well over a trillion dollars to UN sustainability schemes.

The UN claims it has already received more than $500 billion in pledges from governments and companies, to reduce fossil fuel use, increase renewable energy generation in poor countries, promote bicycle use in Holland, teach sustainability in universities, conserve water – and somehow still reduce global poverty. Time will tell how many are worth the paper they were printed on

To oversee this unprecedented wealth transfer to UN bureaucrats and NGO activists, The Future We Want architects sought to establish “an intergovernmental process” to assess financial needs, consider the effectiveness, consistency and “synergies” of existing instruments and frameworks, evaluate additional initiatives, and prepare reports on financing strategies. This grand scheme would be implemented by an intergovernmental committee of 30 “experts,” who will be accountable to – no one, actually, except perhaps the Secretary General of the esteemed United Nations.

The document reassured readers that “aid architecture has significantly changed in the current decade,” and “fighting corruption and illicit financial flows [has become] a priority.” Diogenes would search in vain for evidence of this.

Indeed, the very idea of still more aid must be questioned. “Has more than US$1 trillion in development assistance over the last several decades made African people better off?” Zambia-born economist Dambisa Moyo asks in her book, Dead Aid. “No,” she answers emphatically. What’s needed are investment, development, less regulatory red tape, and an unleashing of entrepreneurial instincts.

Nevertheless, the UN is determined to plow ahead, claiming that somehow, this time, they will get it right. Surely, the prospect of promoting sustainability and saving the planet and its species will convert scurrilous dictators, Western politicians and their cronies into honest leaders who would never divert eco-funding to political friends, Swiss bank accounts or crony-capitalist wind and solar projects.

With Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue bathed in green light (to symbolize ecology – or was it money?) and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment proselytizing throughout the event, surely miscreants would sin no more.

Meanwhile, Statement 61 (of 283!) helpfully pronounced that “urgent action on unsustainable patterns of production and consumption ... remains fundamental in addressing environmental sustainability” ... and each country should “consider the implementation of green economy policies in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.”

In essence, the Rio+20 message was, “You got a problem? The UN team has an app for that!”

From poverty eradication to food security, nutrition and “sustainable agriculture,” to water and sanitation, to energy, sustainable tourism and transport, and sustainable cities and “human settlements,” the Future We Want “framework for action and follow-up” had it covered! Of course, there were caveats.

Everyone has a right to safe, sufficient, nutritious food – but biotechnology, chemical fertilizers, insecticides and modern mechanized farming are unsustainable. Electricity is vital, but the 1.4 billion now without lights or refrigeration must be content with “green energy.” Health “is a precondition for, an outcome of, and an indicator of, all three dimensions of sustainable development,” but no DDT allowed.

The authors also promised “full and productive employment, decent work for all, and social protections” for workers, to clean up the oceans, stop illegal mining and fishing, and ensure that only “sustainable forest management” prevails (the cut-no-trees kind that produces uncontrollable wildfires).

The Future We Want also lauded women, the scientific and technological community, indigenous peoples, young people, workers, trade unions, small-scale farmers, NGOs and “civil society” – while placing new burdens on the corporations that will be expected to generate trillions to prop up these efforts.

The document also included multiple proposals for technology transfers – but deleted all references to protecting patents and intellectual property rights. It also excised language “respecting the right to freedom of association and assembly, in accordance with our obligations under international law.”

Thankfully – despite attendance by 45,000 delegates from 180 nations – the Rio+20 summit became just another gabfest, the mandates became even more ill-defined “goals” and “recommendations,” and the world dodged another Kyoto-style bullet.

The activists and bureaucrats will doubtless be back, in a couple more years, in an exotic new locale, with new plans for saving the planet from scary new catastrophes.

However, poor countries are slowly catching on that these UN events are little more than neo-colonialist, eco-imperialist schemes to control and restrict economic development – and poor families are beginning to realize they won’t get a dime from these sustainability pledges or derive any tangible benefits from the green schemes.



Five current articles below

Greenie white elephant mothballed in NSW

Can the ones in Qld. and Vic. be far behind? Desalination plants were all built to avoid the need for new dams (which Greenies hate) but we are now in a rainy climate cycle so they are not needed. The official meteorologists (the BOM) had their brains so mushed by Warmism that they didn't warn the politicans of natural climate cycles (El Nino, La Nina) and pretended instead that the "drought" was permanent. Huge waste of taxpayer funds resulted

Sydney's desalination plant will be mothballed this weekend even though taxpayers will keep having to pay off its construction costs.

BUT NSW Finance Minister Greg Pearce says the $2 billion development hasn't been a waste of money. "The fact that the desal plant will be turned off from the first of July will save Sydney Water customers $50 million a year," he told ABC Radio on Tuesday. "But we'll still have the security if we ever or when we eventually need to turn the desalination plant back on again."

Mr Pearce said it could be up to three years before the Kurnell plant operated again.

"At the moment of course the dams are full, so it won't go back on until they drop below 70 per cent, and then the desalination plant operates until they're up to 80 per cent again," he said.

Mr Pearce confirmed the government was still paying $16 million a month for the cost of building the plant and pipeline.

Greens MP John Kaye told ABC Radio the plant was expensive and completely unnecessary. "The problem we have now is that we're paying tens of billions of dollars to keep this plant when we don't even want to operate it," he said.

In May, the NSW government announced a 50-year, $2.3 billion deal to privatise the plant, netting it $300 million to build more roads, rail and other infrastructure.


Sad solar in Qld

Queensland solar businesses fear a dramatic boom and bust after the state government slashed the solar feed-in tariff.

MORE than 180,000 Queenslanders are in the solar bonus scheme. Those who provide power back to the grid will keep the 44 cents per kilowatt hour payment from July 9, but anyone who joins after that date will get an eight cent rate.

Stuart Stratton of Green Initiatives says the future is now uncertain for his 100-plus employees. He's "extremely disappointed" the government drastically changed the main drawcard for households.

"Where it drops over time and it's predictable, the market can shift and your business can plan for staffing levels and training," Mr Stratton told AAP. "When something like this happens out of the blue and you've got two weeks to adjust, it has potentially a massive downward impact on the business."

He imagines the next two weeks will be like "Christmas in July" - followed by silence.

Energy Minister Mark McArdle says Queensland households are subsidising the solar sector to the tune of $54 a year and it's unsustainable.

The Clean Energy Council says 4500 jobs could go as a result of the move but Mr McArdle has told ABC Radio he hasn't been briefed on possible job losses.

The Australian Solar Energy Society's John Grimes says his group had called for a graduated withdrawal down to about 20 cents per kilowatt hour. "It would have allowed solar to compete and wouldn't have resulted in, sort of, this mini boom and bust," he told ABC Radio.


Conservative Qld. Premier Campbell Newman gives the Green/Left another sock in the eye

QUEENSLAND'S extensive network of national parks will be thrown open to new eco-tourism developments that will potentially been modelled on popular New Zealand and Tasmanian ventures, with horse riders and four-wheel drivers set to gain more access.

Permits will be scaled back and the Nature Conservation Act reviewed to remove barriers to development under a wide-ranging action plan announced yesterday at a tourism forum in Cairns.

More than 300 industry heavyweights spoke to the Newman Government for two days to develop the action plan, designed to guide the ailing sector over the coming year.

Premier Campbell Newman, who attended the DestinationQ forum yesterday, said the state must "find ways to say yes" to better use and market its national parks and marine parks.

Mr Newman singled out NZ's popular Milford Track and Tasmania's Cradle Mountain Lake-St Clair National Park as examples to follow, saying visitors came from around the world to walk, stay, eat and drink.

"Those are the sorts of things, we should be doing," Mr Newman said. "They've got to be done the right way, but other jurisdictions are doing it - (and) the environment hasn't suffered."

Tourism leaders told the forum - the first of its kind in 27 years - of high operating costs and falling revenues stretching their businesses to breaking point, compounded by the high Australian dollar, competition from nearby countries as well as mountains of government red tape.

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chairman Stephen Gregg said that red tape had dissuaded many ecotourism proposals "from ever getting off the ground".

Mr Newman said cutting red tape would be a key focus, as he announced a host of new funding to be made available for regional events, indigenous rangers and to up-skill unemployed Cairns residents.

Mr Newman also indicated there could soon be a new, direct flight from Cairns to an Asian country, likely Singapore.

Mr Newman was highly critical of the industry's peak body, Tourism Queensland, announcing that it would be restructured and told to find savings that could be redirected to promotional campaigns.

A second forum will be held next year to monitor progress and begin charting a 20-year industry plan.


Federal Government tells the elderly that aged care providers will hike fees the day carbon tax kicks in

THOUSANDS of pensioners have been warned they will have to pay more for their residential care in one of the first signs of the impact of the carbon tax.

The Federal Government has written to pensioners and Commonwealth Senior Health Card holders advising that their aged care providers will hike fees by up to $3.48 a week from July 1, the day the carbon tax kicks in.

The hike of more than 1 per cent outstrips Treasury forecasts that the cost of living will rise just 0.7 per cent under the unpopular tax.

The move comes as questions mount over who else will pass on price rises to Australian consumers from this weekend.

The letter, from the Federal Department of Health and Ageing, explains that the increased aged care fees aim to "share" the assistance payments being made to pensioners to compensate them for the carbon tax.

"It recognises that many of the everyday expenses for residents are met by aged care providers," the letter says.

"It is important to note that some of the assistance that you will receive in the initial payment should be used to offset the increase in the basic daily fee."

The price rise equates to a weekly $3.48 increase in fees, which also outstrips weekly electricity hikes of $3.30 expected by most Queensland households.

A spokesman for Treasurer Wayne Swan said the assistance paid to pensioners and Senior Health Card holders was "designed to fully take into account this fee".

"From 28 May to 8 June, more than 3.2 million pensioners were paid a lump sum payment," the spokesman said.

"Pensioners will receive a permanent boost to their regular payments equal to a 1.7 per cent increase in the maximum rate of the pension from March 2013."

Labor has always insisted many households would be better off after compensation for the carbon tax, but as the tax start date looms fears are growing.

The issue is dominating Federal Parliament this week, as Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott face off ahead of Sunday's introduction of the tax.

Ms Gillard is preparing for a fortnight-long blitz around Australia to sell her tax reform, while the Opposition is set to embark on a similar tour, highlighting price rises resulting from the tax.

Labor ministers and backbenchers have been ordered into electorates to spruik the tax, as the party continues the battle to revive its popularity.

Ms Gillard told the Labor caucus yesterday that Mr Abbott would be exposed for scaremongering, with Labor planning to mock his earlier claims about the tax.

Mr Abbott yesterday said the RSPCA would face a $180,000 hike in its electricity costs each year because of the carbon tax.

Appearing alongside Mr Abbott, RSPCA chief executive Michael Linke said some of the national organisation's services would be cut and about four jobs lost.

"There is no compensation to pay for this," Mr Linke said.

But Ms Gillard accused Mr Abbott of fear-mongering.

"Presumably tomorrow he will be out trying to scare Skippy the bush kangaroo and the day after he'll be trying to scare Puff the magic dragon," Ms Gillard told Parliament.

It comes after the Coalition sent small businesses in Labor-held marginal seats flyers that apologised to customers for rising costs under the carbon tax, encouraging businesses to display the posters in their store windows.

One flyer reads: "We will always strive to keep our prices at reasonable levels but because the carbon tax will make electricity and gas more expensive, our prices will increase".

But Labor said yesterday the flyers put the businesses at risk of fines of up to $1.1 million, if they falsely increase prices and blame the carbon tax.

"Mr Abbott is potentially exposing butchers and other small businesses . He cares about nothing but his political advantage," Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury said.


Meatworks may shut Queensland plant for three weeks to avoid carbon tax

A MAJOR meatworks could shut one of its Queensland plants for three weeks to side-step a carbon tax bill expected to cost millions.

Teys Australia Meat Group is one of 295 names on a preliminary list of companies to be slugged the $23 a tonne carbon tax from July 1 after its carbon emissions were estimated as being above the threshold of 25,000 tonnes a year.

The group, which has its head office in Beenleigh, south of Brisbane, was expecting its carbon tax bill to exceed $2 million a year.

But the meat processor could dodge part of the bill by closing down its second-biggest plant at Beenleigh for several weeks to reduce its annual emissions at the location to just below the Government's 25,000 tonne tax threshold.

It is believed other meatworks with emissions above the threshold could also be considering temporary shut-downs to avoid the tax.

"We could close this plant for a period of time in the year - one or two weeks - and therefore our total emissions for the year would potentially be below 25,000 (tonnes)," Teys spokesman Tom Maguire said.

"We are talking to the Government about ways of avoiding that but to this date we haven't come to any resolution.

"Given some of our competitors don't have the same tax, we won't be able to pass the costs on."

The company will also pay a carbon tax on emissions from its Rockhampton plant but says a temporary closure there was not an option.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said the Government's $1 billion Clean Technology Program provided grants for new equipment and technology to reduce emissions.

The potential shutdown comes as Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan moves to reassure voters that carbon tax compensation will reach much higher up the income threshold than people realised.

New Treasury analysis reveals half of all families earning up to $150,000 a year will be over-compensated for the carbon tax, with tax cuts and welfare changes equivalent to 120 per cent of the expected cost.

But it might not stretch as far in Queensland as other states, with residents here facing a $3.70 a week rise in electricity prices directly related to the carbon tax.

That compares with a rise of $3.30 a week in NSW, $2.48 a week in Tasmania and $2.50 a week in Western Australia.

Prices will rise by double those amounts in some states but those increases are not as a direct result of the carbon tax.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


26 June, 2012

Going Green is Gauche on Robert Kennedy’s Private Ocean

Robert Kennedy Jr. wants you to know that he’s all in favor of green energy projects. “As an environmentalist,” he explained seven years ago in the New York Times, “I support wind power, including wind power on the high seas. I am also involved in siting wind farms in appropriate landscapes, of which there are many.”

That alone should qualify him for a Presidential Medal of Freedom… if, you know, he hadn’t supported Hillary Clinton for president rather than Barack Obama.

But Kennedy also thinks that we shouldn’t get too carried away by the prospect of “free wind power”- especially when his pet projects like the Kennedy trust fund, the Kennedy ocean views and the Kennedy beachfront property on Nantucket Sound are in conflict with “free wind power.”

I mean there is free for me, and there is free for thee. Which did you think Kennedy prefers?

There may be “many” sites, but come on: There aren’t THAT many. “I wouldn't build a wind farm in Yosemite National Park,” he claims. “Nor would I build one on Nantucket Sound, which is exactly what the company Energy Management is trying to do with its Cape Wind project.”

Darn companies always trying to DO something. Why can’t they be more like the Kennedys and get a trust fund and a few famous dead relatives, and then do nothing for a living except milk both?

Well, at least Robert Jr. admits he’s God. For a Kennedy, that’s a kind of progress.

The Cape Wind project has come under fire because SOME PEOPLE think that SOME OTHER PEOPLE are supporting or opposing the project to advance their own personal property, partisan or pecuniary interests.

Gasp! Well, THAT’s the kind of liberal food fight I want watch. Especially if it involves enviros heaving Big Gulps at other enviros, either in Manhattan- or Martha’s Vineyard.

On the one side, we have Obama and the White House, along with Mass. Governor Deval Patrick, who Republicans have accused of using undue influence on the Cape Wind project ala other green schemes just like they did with Solyndra.

“[E]mails — obtained by Cape Wind foes through a public records request,” reports the Boston Herald, “and provided to the Herald — do not specifically name Obama or Gov. Deval Patrick. But other public documents in the decade-old Cape Wind saga show that Patrick not only embraced the project but also was prodded to convince Obama to do the same.”

The White House replied with something like: “I am not a crook. What’s that stain on Monica’s dress? I killed bin Laden. It’s George Bush fault. Tax the billionaires! Take that Libya! I [heart] gays. I [heart] some Hispanics, but others not so much. Sandra Fluke may be loose, but she’s not a slut. If only Catholics would pay for abortions out of priests’ salaries we really could get this economy going again. They picked to be born in a country where my tax dollars fund the roads they drive to church on. All Democrats might be half-Cherokee for purposes of federal set aside rules. Send more stimulus.”

There was more, but I digress- which of course qualifies me to be a top Obama campaign strategist. Forward! Or better yet: Digress! It’s kind of the Obama campaign equivalent of Monty Python’s King Arthur’s call to “Run Away.”

On the other side of the Cape Wind dispute are rich, entitled, trust fund liberals who want to enjoy their tequila sunrise unimpeded, unhindered and undiluted.

While most polls show support for the project- even though it makes electricity at higher costs than regular power plants (this is Massachusetts after all) - Heartland reports that a poll “by the College of Marine Studies at the University of Delaware, found high-income residents were the least likely to support Cape Wind.”

Gee I wonder why that is? It’s not that they own ocean-front property, right?

Kennedy cites the navigation hazards in the Sound, because that’s where he and his friends drive big, bad, blinged-out boats.

Yeah: The boat Kennedy is on, pictured below courtesy MSNBC, is the BIG one in the background.

And of course, nothing drives enviros to even further extreme positions than big, bad, blinged boats when all they get is a raft with frumpy women. Is that Sandra Fluke hiding under that hat?

“We are, simply put, in a state of ecological emergency," says a letter cited by MSNBC asking Kennedy to reconsider his position. "Constructing windmills six miles from Cape Cod, where they will be visible as half-inch dots on the horizon, is the least that we can do."

Well, the least we can do actually is consider the true economic costs- you know, the ones for me and thee- and make decision based on that. That’s where liberals really have a hard time. Because their belief system includes everything except for a belief in any fixed principle, while specifically excluding the concept of hypocrisy for themselves.

And that’s what I love about in-house, liberal fights.
I can condemn both side and still be right.


Coal Matters – Even in Manhattan

Ken Blackwell

Coal today may seem of little relevance to many residents of New York City or other American urban centers. It long ago ceased to fuel the furnaces of their homes and apartment buildings in winter.

But long after it disappeared from the uses most visible to city dwellers, coal is still the critical fuel behind the everyday functions of their lives. Across the U.S., for more than a century, coal has remained quietly at work – providing in recent years nearly half the electricity that lights urban buildings and streets, keeps air conditioners humming on hot days and energizes computers and TVs to inform and entertain. Electricity generated with coal powers the factories that produce all manner of food, clothing, cars and other goods for Americans everywhere.

Coal maintains that role with good reason. It is America’s most abundant energy resource; our coal reserves are the world’s largest, sufficient to last more than 250 years. That abundance makes coal affordable; over the decades its price has been far more stable that of another major power generation fuel, natural gas. And way below costs those promising but still-unproven resources, solar and wind power.

Meanwhile, science has made coal a much cleaner fuel. Utilities’ use of coal for power generation has jumped more than 180 percent since 1970 but emissions from those plants have plummeted 75 percent. And the march of technology promises even cleaner coal in the years ahead.

Apparently, all those facts have escaped the attention of New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg. This month, he marshaled 90 U.S. mayors behind a campaign of misinformation that could in short order end the use of coal for power generation – and in doing so wipe out America’s historic coal industry.

In a letter to the EPA Administrator, Bloomberg and his fellow mayors expressed strong support for new air quality regulations that will shut down coal fired power generation on the grounds that coal is too “dirty” and must immediately be replaced with generation fueled by natural gas, solar and wind power.

Joining Mayor Bloomberg on the letter were my successor as Mayor of Cincinnati, Mark Mallory, two other Ohio mayors (Michael Coleman of Columbus and Bruce Rinker of Mayfield Village), the senior elected officials of big cities from Atlanta to Boston Chicago, Denver, Houston and Los Angeles, and the chief executives of smaller but staunchly “progressive” strongholds such as Burlington, VT, Takoma Park, MD, Maui County, HI, and Decatur, GA.

With one stroke of the pen, all wrote off the fuel that has helped make possible a century of economic growth in their cities. They accepted the higher electric rates that utility executives say are certainly on the way as today’s historically low natural gas prices zoom upward while wind and solar power, for the foreseeable future, remain very expensive.

The mayors also agreed, in signing that letter, to condemn the jobs of 555,000 Americans who mine, transport, market and utilize coal, along with their combined annual income of $36.3 billion.

All of this comes less than a year after Mayor Bloomberg announced plans to donate $50 million to the Sierra Club to support its nationwide campaign to eliminate coal-fired power plants.

On many levels, I have great respect and admiration for my fellow Republican, Mayor Bloomberg. Elected in the dark days just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he helped rebuild the city both physically and emotionally. In that and other roles he has followed a course of pragmatic progressivism, addressing public concerns on social – and environmental – issues with a common-sense approach that recognizes economic realities.

So I am surprised and very disappointed that he would lead his mayoral colleagues in demonizing a valuable American energy resource, assuring higher utility bills for Americans still strapped by a slow economic recovery, and wiping out one of our oldest industries.

My personal commitment to cleaning up and protecting our environment runs deep. I’m proud of the progress America has made these past 40 years from a land of smoggy skylines and dead rivers to one that is getting cleaner by the day.

But I also understand that our environmental ideals must be balanced with recognition of our economic challenges, both short- and long-term. We can’t build a stronger economy and create the millions of jobs we need if we’re paying sharply higher utility bills and killing a half million good-paying jobs in the process.

Numerous polls show that the majority of Americans share that pragmatism. I thought Michael Bloomberg was among them, until I saw that letter to the EPA Administrator.


Pipeline Death By a Thousand Studies

There has never been a more "shovel ready" project in history than the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been exhaustively engineered, studied, reviewed, and re-reviewed as Obama tries to kill the project without admitting that's what he's doing. At stake are about 20,000 immediate jobs, a secure supply of North American oil, billions in private investment, and the global efficiency benefits of connecting a major crude source to the world's most efficient refining center. The latest news is that rather than simply say "yes," Obama is conducting yet another open-ended study.

The original permit application for the project was submitted in 2008. The State Department exhaustively reviewed every aspect of the proposal.

The State Department issued three different press releases in the spring of 2011 -- in March, April, and June -- that included this sentence: "The U.S. Department of State expects to make a decision on whether to grant or deny the permit before the end of 2011."

The president's jobs council touted the economic benefits of pipelines in its official report, saying: "Policies that facilitate the safe, thoughtful and timely development of pipeline, transmission and distribution projects are necessary."

But what if such timely development comes into conflict with ideologically motivated, powerful environmental special interests? We now know where Obama comes down.

The environmental protest crowd decided to make this into a litmus test political issue, instead of the no-brainer source of jobs and affordable energy that it really is. Their professed concern is that developing energy from increasingly-important unconventional sources, like the Alberta oil sands, will increase global warming.

Even if they're right, they're wrong to oppose the pipeline. If the Canadians can't build a pipeline to U.S. refineries, they've already announced they'll build a pipeline to export terminals on the west coast of Canada instead, from which it will go to dirtier and less efficient Asian refineries. A lose-lose for the economy and the environment.

The State Department's exhaustive review process ended last summer, and they recommended approval. All that remained was the usually perfunctory approval of the president. But Obama ignored all the reviews, the evidence, and the recommendations of his own jobs council to side with the protest crowd. He said he would wait until after his re-election to decide whether to approve it.

Congress forced his hand in a bipartisan bill passed around Christmas. It required Obama to decide to either approve or reject the pipeline within 60 days. He rejected it.

The pipeline company resubmitted the application.

Now the State Department is conducting yet another review. A new public comment period has been opened through the end of July, and the State Department will then review those comments. Who knows how long that will take? This is despite the fact that the review issued last August all but approving the project was labeled "final."

Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, which needs the pipeline to efficiently bring some of the oil from its miraculous energy boom to market, observed: "In essence they're saying, 'OK, now we're going to start all over again.'"

With unemployment rates and gas prices still painfully high, the thousands of workers hoping for jobs building the pipeline and the millions of Americans who will benefit from the oil that will flow through it can't afford to wait. Obama needs to stop playing the endless-study game and approve the Keystone XL pipeline now.


The Scope of the Plastic Shopping Bag Problem

How big of a problem do plastic shopping bags pose to the environment?

Since the elected supervisors of Los Angeles' City Council recently voted to ban plastic shopping bags at the city's retailers, largely in response to "clean-water" advocates, who argue that the bags "pollute the ocean and the city's waterways", we thought we'd get a sense of just how big that problem really is.

Our chart below presents the answer, which refers to data that those who support bans on plastic shopping bags frequently cite in advancing their agenda:

The values shown in the chart above were originally reported in 2004. There are a number of points to note about the results for the first-ever worldwide cleanup of the coastal areas of the United States and 100 other countries:

* The use of plastic shopping bags really began taking off worldwide in the 1980s.

* By 2003, "environmental groups" estimate that anywhere from 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic shopping bags were being used annually.

* Despite never having been done before, meaning that about as many bags as could be found would be found during the Ocean Conservancy's one-day long campaign to clean up the world's coastal areas in September 2003, just 354,000 bags were collected. Most, but not all, were made of plastic.

More fascinating to us however, we've discovered that so-called "green" advocates are incredibly fond of recycling the Ocean Conservancy's 354,000 bag cleanup figure from September 2003, citing it as being a valid figure that applies year, after year, after year. We're nearly at the decade anniversary and apparently, only 354,000 bags ever get cleaned up from the world's coastal areas each year!

Either that means the problem is not getting any worse despite a great deal of economic and population growth worldwide in the intervening years, which would have greatly increased the world's consumption of plastic shopping bags, or that these environmental activists just don't care enough about the environment to bother with picking up more than 354,000 mostly plastic bags from the world's coastal areas in any given year.

The alternative possibility is that a large number of environmental activists recycle the data because updating it would take actual effort on their part. Plus, there's the little matter of how foolish they might look if they ever fail to collect at least as many as their apparent annual quota of 354,000 bags!

If only these people cared more about the environment!...


Energy Policy - Change or Die!

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Several years ago I came across a well-written book that outlined a step-by-step process for personal change. The book, Change Or Die, actually explored the psychology of change. The author, Alan Deutschman, helped me to focus several important health changes in my personal life. I chose to “Change”, not “Die.”

The Obama administration is at an important cross roads or a “Change or Die” moment as well with regard to energy. The president wants to be seen as a job creator but his green policies have squandered resources and disillusioned all but the most ardent energy zealots. The president could ease the burden of the average American citizen by simply backing away from his rigid ideology concerning energy. Ironically, his energy policies have begun to exacerbate the cash problems of our hardest working citizens. I bear no ill will toward President Obama, and I defend him whenever I can; but there are a few areas where his policies are simply indefensible.

We have all heard the administration’s cronies exhort us that “we must not balance the budget on the backs of the poor.” I most heartily agree. Neither must we attempt to save the planet by sacrificing the poor on the altar of environmental extremism. For all the administration’s rhetoric concerning working class folks, they have initiated an energy war on the poor.

For almost four years, the president’s energy policies have not truly focused on conservation or saving the earth; they have been about placating the lobby of environmental radicals who view mankind as parasites on the environment - not stewards of it. As unbelievable as it sounds, these extremists actually want energy to be more expensive.

Let me be more specific. Earlier this year, the Obama administration rejected a proposal to build a pipeline between Alberta, Canada and Texas. The “Keystone Pipeline” would have brought in about 700,000 barrels of oil a day and created tens of thousands of jobs for Americans. Although the proposal had received bipartisan support, the administration claimed it needed more time to gather and review information.

The initial application, however, was filed in 2008, and the Department of State has already conducted a three year environmental impact review. At a time when everyone in the country needs more affordable energy and jobs, the White House rejected both. Why? Because environmental extremists care more about soil composition than people.

The Keystone decision was the latest in a long series of policy choices that prevents Americans from obtaining the affordable energy we all need, and increases our dependence on petroleum from the Middle East. This policy not only drives up fuel prices, but also further weakens our already struggling economy. Who suffers most as gasoline creeps steadily toward $5 a gallon and heating and air conditioning costs rise? Not the folks making the decisions to keep it that way, I can promise you that.

Meanwhile, the White House’s two best ideas seem a little less than brilliant. First of all, it wants to combat our energy problems by investing heavily in “green” energy for the long term. Second, it wants to open the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the short term. Even a casual observer can see that the President’s green energy initiative has been financially disastrous. From the failures of flagship companies like Solyndra, which went bankrupt despite hundreds of millions of dollars of federal aid, to the cost of each green job actually created, legislators from both sides of the aisle no longer view federally funded green energy projects as the future of economic growth. To add insult to injury, a recent Wall Street Journal investigation discovered that most of the jobs reportedly “created” with countless dollars of stimulus money were temporary, and some are not even real! For example, 4.3 billion dollars went to 36 wind farms which reported the creation of “7,200 jobs,” but now employ only 300. That is a cost of over $14 million per permanent job!

As for tapping into the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, James L. Jones and Jason S. Grumet of the Bipartisan Policy Center weighed in through the New York Times, saying that this is a bad idea. They explain, “The oil reserve....should be preserved to address an emergency disruption in supply.” They go on to state the obvious solution: “Despite the traditional election-year rancor, there is actually considerable bipartisan agreement on what needs to be done. Increasing domestic oil production is extremely important to our economy and to reducing our trade deficit.”

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Grumet and Jones’ analysis is the fact that Jones is a former Obama advisor. Affordable energy must be a vital part of putting Americans back to work. Unfortunately, the man in charge appears to be brainwashed by environmental activists. The Declaration of Independence says we need a government, “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” If we accept this foundational truth, we must demand better from our president, his administration and our legislators. It’s time to call for a real change.


Eco Scare Scams Raise Obama Campaign Cash

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is in the news for its investigation into Fast and Furious. The committee has not let go, however, of the investigation into the “cozy ties” between the Obama administration and green energy projects funded through Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantees. A hearing was held on Tuesday, during which emails were released showing that a senior advisor in the DOE loan program was “too close” with a loan recipient—“giving the company access to pre-decisional information encouraging the company to make edits to internal documents.”

Tuesday’s hearing is one of the latest attacks on the loan guarantee program that have intensified since the public collapse of Solyndra drew attention to the department’s policies. The story is much bigger than Solyndra and wider than the DOE.

US energy subsidies, including spending, tax breaks and loan guarantees, increased from $17.9 billion in 2007 to $37.2 billion in 2010. The Obama administration would likely have us believe that the money spent is to reduce dependence on foreign oil while increasing international economic competiveness, to create jobs, and to address environmental degradation. However, as Peter Foster stated in his Financial Post column about the failure of the Rio +20 conference that ended on Saturday, “bogus eco scares” are being manufactured “as a rationale for payoffs”—which is certainly what has happened for the DOE subsidies.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the CEO of the company in question defended the project saying that it would “generate significant solar energy output and thereby contribute to the goal of energy independence.” What? Solar energy creates electricity. The US already has the resources to be electricity independent with enough coal, uranium, and natural gas to generate all the needed electricity for hundreds of years—if not thousands. Peter Foster’s assessment is more realistic: “a rationale for payoffs.” The subsidies to green energy projects are rife with implications of “payoffs” to Obama administration insiders, campaign donors, and other top Democrat insiders.

For example, according to the Washington Free Beacon, “Seven solar companies received fast-tracked approval by the Department of the Interior to lease federal lands in a no-bid process: Abengoa Solar, BrightSource Energy, First Solar, Nevada Geothermal Power, NextEra Energy Resources, Ormat Nevada, and SolarReserve.” Each of these seven companies received billions of DOE funds under the 1705 loan program as well as renewable energy grants from the Treasury Department—despite “junk bond” status. (Note: a junk bond is defined as a “high-risk, non-investment-grade bond with a low credit rating, usually BB or lower. … Opposite of investment-grade bond.”) And each has “connections.”

* Abengoa has two solar projects: Solana and Mojave Solar. Solana’s Fitch rating is BB+. Just before Christmas, 2010, the company received $1.45 billion from the DOE for a solar thermal plant, to use parabolic trough technology, in Gila Bend, AZ. Mojave Solar’s rating was BB. Yet the company received $1.2 billion in September 2011 for its solar assembly collection project in San Bernardino County, CA. Abengoa has connections to California’s Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein.

* BrightSource Energy has a three-unit power system project known as “Ivanpah,” located near the California/Nevada border, south of Las Vegas, that uses a proprietary power-tower solar thermal system. Ivanpah I and III have a BB+ rating while Ivanpah II is BB. On April 11, 2011, the DOE announced the finalization of $1.6 billion in loan guarantees for BrightSource’s Ivanpah project. The apparent “payoffs” to Democrats are myriad—having donated at least $21,600 to Democrats since 2008 (and zero dollars to Republicans). According to a Washington Free Beacon report, Senator Harry “Reid received almost $4,000 from Brightsource executives in the 2010 cycle, including $2,400 from CEO John Woolard, who hosted a fundraiser for the majority leader. Woolard is also a Barack Obama donor and has visited the White House 10 times since Obama took office.” Additionally, Sanjay Wagle (a significant 2008 Obama campaign supporter and contributor), a principal at Vantage Point Partners (the major stakeholder in BrightSource) was an advisor at the DOE at the time the loan was approved. And, John Bryson, BrightSource CEO, became Obama’s Secretary of Commerce (although he resigned his post late Wednesday) and has ties to an organization that helped craft the stimulus package.

* First Solar manufacturers “thin film” solar modules and is now moving into project development. While First Solar is not in the “junk bond” list, they do hold the unique distinction of being the single worst performer in the SPX in 2011. Additionally, they are linked to three junk-bond projects: Aqua Caliente (AZ), BB+; Antelope Valley Solar Ranch (CA), BBB-; and Desert Sunlight (CA), BBB-. First Solar was an early green investment of Goldman Sachs—which gave more than $1 million to the 2008 Obama campaign. Goldman Sachs executives sat on Obama’s 2008 Finance Committee and others were bundlers. In Throw Them All Out, Peter Schweizer reports on First Solar investor Paul Tudor Jones, who was a 2008 Obama bundler, and First Solar CEO Michael Ahearn, who “gives generously (and exclusively) to Democrats.”

* Nevada Geothermal Power (NGP) holds leasehold interests in six geothermal projects located in the Western United States. They hold a BB+ rating and received a $78.8 million loan, guaranteed by the DOE, in September of 2011. Executives from NGP contributed heavily in 2008 to Harry Reid’s campaign.

* NextEra Energy Resources calls itself a leader in clean energy including “operating the largest US solar energy site.” Despite its self-proclaimed “leader” status, two of its projects: Genesis Solar and Desert Sunlight, hold ratings of BBB+ and BBB-. The Genesis Solar project received $681.6 million in August 2010, and Desert Sunlight: $1.2 billion. Here, there is an obvious conflict of interest as NextEra’s CEO, Lewis Hay, serves on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

* Ormat Nevada is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ormat Technologies Inc., whose website touts “green energy you can rely on.” They have an S&P rating of BB and received $350 million in partial loan guarantees. Ormat’s lobbyist Kai Anderson and Director of Policy and Business Development Paul Thomsen were both former senate aides to Harry Reid and donors to his campaign.

* SolarReserve’s Crescent Dunes project is a solar thermal power tower plant utilizing the advanced molten salt power tower technology with integrated storage located in Tonopah, NV. The company's Fitch rating is BB, yet in September 2011, it was the recipient of $737 million in DOE loan guarantees. Obama’s law school buddy and 2008 Obama campaign bundler, Michael Froman, was managing director of alternative investments at Citigroup—which became a major investor in SolarReserve. Froman currently serves on the White House staff. Additionally, other high profile Democrats are involved with SolarReserve.

These seven green energy loan recipients are just a sampling of the risky investments the Obama administration made with our dollars, and I’ve only covered a few highlights. An entire book could be written tracking all of the interconnected dots. Since the time Obama entered into his public equity business, his success rate has been dismal—with the majority of the “high-risk” investments not producing a high-yield (in fact, at least 25 of the “investments” have gone bankrupt or are facing imminent closure).

On Friday, June 22, a guest on Varney & Co. suggested corporations use our money to spend on political campaigns and Charles Payne pointed out it’s not our money as we pay for goods and services by exchanging money that then becomes the corporations’ money. In fact, it is Obama who is using our money—the taxpayer dollars (and those borrowed from China) to fund his campaign by giving our money to high-risk projects in which his friends are involved, who then donate some of it back to him. Watch your mail box for the “thank you” note for your Obama campaign donation.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


25 June, 2012

Arctic find could cause major shift in climate debate

There's a huge amount of CO2-eating marine plants that somehow got left out of the "models". If the models had been checkable against reality, it would have been recognized that there was this huge gap in them. That no gap was detected shows how far they are from reality

Two years ago, a Canadian research team alarmed climate scientists when it published the results of a survey of the oceans. The researchers reported that the world's phytoplankton - tiny, plant-like organisms that grow in seawater - seemed to have been disappearing at a rate of about 1 per cent a year for the past century. Using measurements of ocean clarity, they found that phytoplankton biomass had shrunk by about 40 per cent on average since 1950 and that the decline was observed in eight of 10 oceans and seas that circle the globe.

Water murkiness increases or decreases depending on the amount of phytoplankton drifting on or near the surface. In bloom, masses of microscopic marine algae show up in images taken from satellites as spectacular swathes of bright green or blue in the oceans. The fewer phytoplankton, the clearer the water, with the exception of zones of near-coast pollution.

The lead author of the study, Daniel Boyce, a marine scientist at Canada's Dalhousie University, said that a global phytoplankton decline of this magnitude was ''shocking''. Why? Because phytoplankton act in the same way as living trees and plants on land. They consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen as they grow.

Scientists say that phytoplankton provide more than half of the oxygen needed for life on earth. The tiny marine plants also remove up to 40 per cent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere each year, mainly from burning fossil fuels and clearing forests. CO2 is the long-lasting global warming gas from human activity that most concerns climate scientists. Even small changes in the growth and density of phytoplankton could affect atmospheric CO2 concentrations, which have been rising steadily. In addition, phytoplankton are the basis of the marine food chain and sustain the health of fisheries. They are eaten by small ocean animals that are, in turn, eaten by larger fish and ocean creatures.

In the Arctic, the region of the world that is warming fastest, researchers have long assumed that the algae blooms only start in summer in open waters after the sea-ice melts, allowing sunlight to reach the marine plants and foster growth.

But an on-the-spot scientific survey in 2010 and 2011 using an ice-breaker, has come up with a result that astonished the scientists involved. The survey was sponsored by the US space agency, NASA, to validate images from its earth observation satellites.

The scientists found huge and highly productive phytoplankton blooms that satellite sensors could not detect because they were hidden under Arctic Ocean ice, a phenomenon one said was akin to finding a rainforest in a desert. Their findings were published on June 7.

One of the blooms extended from the sea-ice edge about 100 kilometres into the ice pack. It was up to 70 metres deep in places. The phytoplankton under the sea-ice were extremely productive, doubling in number more than once a day. Blooms in open water grow at a much slower rate, doubling in two to three days.

The researchers estimated that phytoplankton production under the ice in parts of the Arctic Ocean could be up to 10 times higher than in the nearby open ocean. They believe that thinning Arctic sea-ice is allowing sunlight to reach waters underneath and that about a quarter of the Arctic Ocean now has conditions conducive to such blooms.

Does this mean that the global ecosystem has a self-righting mechanism and that as humans pump ever more CO2 into the atmosphere warming the atmosphere and sea, and melting ice, phytoplankton production will increase and absorb the surplus greenhouse gas?

The jury is still out. But Paula Bontempi, NASA's ocean biology and biogeochemistry program manager in Washington, says that the discovery ''most certainly changes what we thought was happening in the Arctic'', where earlier research showed that phytoplankton was diminishing.

If Arctic sea-ice melts earlier in the summer because of climate change, the under-ice blooms could grow in extent or happen earlier in the year. This could affect marine life species that time their eating and breeding cycles to match peak phytoplankton growth.

Kevin Arrigo, a climate scientist at Stanford University in California and lead author of the new study, says at this point it is not known whether the rich phytoplankton blooms have been occurring under the Arctic Ocean ice for a long time without being observed, or whether they will become more widespread if Arctic sea-ice cover continues to thin as a result of global warming. The question has major political ramifications, since many countries are reluctant to curb their CO2 emissions because of the cost to economic growth. It will only be answered with more extensive research.


Huge coal-fired power stations in the ancient Arctic

Or something

A German-led team of scientists said on Thursday that the Arctic went through ice-free periods of extreme warmth over the past 2.8 million years, based on a new analysis of deep sediment in Russia.

The international team, headed by Martin Melles of the University of Cologne, Germany, drilled into an iced-over lake formed by a meteorite impact on the Chukchi Peninsula in Siberia for the longest sediment core ever collected in the terrestrial Arctic.

Since the meteorite struck an area of Lake El'gygytgyn that was not eroded by glaciers, the sediment record reaches back nearly 30 times further in time than ice cores from Greenland that cover the past 110,000 years.

The sediment reveals periods of extreme warmth that show the polar regions are much more vulnerable to change than previously thought, and are difficult to explain by greenhouse gases alone, said the study in the journal Science.

Scientists have long known that the Arctic went through climate cycles, but the latest research shows some of these warm phases were "exceptional," with temperatures four to five degrees Celsius warmer and 12 inches wetter than during normal interglacials, the study said.

Two of these "super-interglacials" happened about 400,000 years ago and 1.1 million years ago, and the data suggests it was virtually impossible for Greenland's ice sheet to have existed in its present form at those times.

But just what caused these extreme changes remains a mystery.

Since some of the Arctic changes mirror variations in the Antarctic discovered by previous studies, events at one pole may have triggered events at the other, the researchers said.

One possibility is that reduced ice cover in Antarctica led to less cold bottom water mass in the northern Pacific, triggering warmer surface waters, higher temperatures and more precipitation.

Another is that the dissolving Antarctic ice sheet led to global sea level rise that sent warm water rushing into the Arctic Ocean, the study said.


Coral reef expert rebuts UNESCO alarmism

by Walter Starck (Walter Starck is one of the pioneers in the scientific investigation of coral reefs)

A recent report by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee dated 1 June 2012 expresses great concern over threats to the Great Barrier Reef from coastal development, poor water quality and climate change. It states that,

"… there are a number of developments that, were they to proceed, would provide the basis to consider the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger."

The response to this report from the legions of eco-righteousness might best be described as delighted, with the news media and environmental groups widely presenting it an important problem demanding forceful action by government.

The Reef Is In Excellent Condition

However, like all such concerns about “threats” to the GBR, these are all only hypothetical possibilities that might occur but with no evidence to indicate that anything detrimental is actually happening. In reality the reef is in near pristine natural condition.

The human population of the region is small. Almost the entirety of the adjacent coast remains undeveloped. The port expansion at Gladstone about which the UN bureaucrats expressed great concern is over 20 Km downwind and across the prevailing ocean current from the nearest reef. Extensive experience of such dredging in GBR waters and elsewhere indicates there is no reason to expect any harm to the reef.

No degradation in water quality has been actually detected and use of agrichemicals in the catchment area has declined in recent years.

Occurrences of coral bleaching have been associated with El Niño events, not climate change. There is no indication that the frequency or intensity of such events have increased nor have floods or tropical cyclones.

Surface water temperatures show no significant trend over the past 60 years. Over the past decade there has been a slight cooling.

The maximum total catch for commercial fishing is restricted to an amount which equates with an average yearly harvest rate of only 90 g per hectare. This is about 1/1,600th of the average sustainable catch for well managed reef fisheries elsewhere.

The total damage to the reef from all of the shipping accidents that have ever occurred there would be only a fraction of one-precent of the natural damage which takes place naturally almost every year from tropical cyclones and that is well within the capacity of the reef to soon repair.

We Are Not in Such Great Condition

While the reef is in great condition, our own human ecology is not. We face a worsening global economic situation of unprecedented extent and complexity. All over the Western World economies are in trouble with productive activity struggling under a growing burden of bloated government and stifling bureaucracy for which environmentalism has provided a major impetus. Pandering to Green votes and indulging ourselves in paroxysms of righteousness over matters of political and environmental correctness is a luxury we can no longer afford. It is time to cease the obsession with non-problems and begin to address the real ones. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee is only another pack of overpaid bureaucrats jetting around the world enjoying themselves on expense accounts Craig Thomson [An Australian union boss accused of great fraud] might envy.

Promoting hypothetical problems to maintain the rort is their first priority. The World Heritage mob is comprised of members from Mexico, Thailand, Cambodia, South Africa, Colombia, Senegal and United Arab Emirates. Senegal has no coral reefs and all of the others have badly abused ones. None of the committee members have any real expertise about reefs. They would all be well advised to go home and tend to their own problems. Their threat to list the GBR as being in danger would only make themselves look stupid. As for any effect on tourism, visitors are not going to stop wanting to see the GBR because some UN committee lists it as endangered. If anything, such listing would seem more likely to increase the desire to see it.

Mindlessly swallowing the swill of lies, contradictions, misrepresentations and muddled thinking dished up by the global eco-industry is costing us dearly in our freedom, food, energy, housing, health and way of life. In terms of natural abundance and socio-economic development all of these things should be improving here. They are instead declining in availability and affordability with misguided environmentalism being a major cause.

Threatened -

Threatened is an especially popular term of emotional index in the environmentalist lexicon. It even enjoys a formal status via the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Such listing is often highly political and includes numerous so-called iconic or charismatic species whose populations are large, and healthy. Such listing is aimed at support for various eco-agendas, not any real existential concern. Even the grey kangaroo was listed for a time. It was only removed when the absurdity of having to cull several million every year to prevent overpopulation threatened the Red List itself with being re-listed from misleading to meaningless.

The mother of all environmental threats has, of course, been Anthropogenic Global Warming (a.k.a. Climate Change). AGW has become the most revered of all eco threats. To doubt it is equivalent to denying the Holocaust. Accepting it and renouncing (but not giving up) the sin of fossil fuel consumption promises to save the world, punish unbelievers and bring about a fair, harmonious, balanced, sustainable restoration of Eden. The fact that every prediction of the climate “experts” has failed and climate itself is cooling is only a test of faith for the true believers.

Sustainable –

Like all the other eco buzz words, this one appears benign until it is examined more closely. As used by the eco-alarmists it is a no brainer. The less any resource is utilised the more sustainable it becomes, so the more restrictions the better. What the urban green non-producers fail to recognise is that sustainability of the industry is also important. Whatever we don’t get from one source becomes an added pressure somewhere else.

The fisheries that Greens are so anxious to close down, have the lowest environmental impact of any means of food production and the health benefits of increased seafood consumption are substantial. The seafood our waters could produce but our fishermen aren’t permitted to catch, sustains only greater costs, human misery and environmental impacts on the land. The 70% of domestic sea food consumption we import and pay for by selling off non-renewable mineral resources sustains only bloated bureaucracy here and overfishing elsewhere.

Behind the Eco-facade

Behind the carefully contrived facade of piety and righteousness the environmental movement is heavily infected with suppurating dishonesty, delusion and perversity. It’s the kind of maladaptive response that animal behaviourists have found may arise when strong instinctual drives are blocked. In this instance it might well be a consequence of the biologically impoverished urban environment compounded by the boredom of a non-productive parasitic lifestyle which affords little purpose or meaning. It’s not unlike the obsessive compulsive neuroticism often observed in animals living in sterile cages.

In most developed nations a large majority of the population now dwell in cities and only a minority toil to produce the goods and services which support everyone. For many urbanites in particular, the natural environment has acquired a distant, romantic, somewhat sacred, status. Though themselves voracious consumers, they are removed from the production which supplies their demands. The producers who provide their needs tend to be seen as greedy exploiters and defilers of nature. Even more ironically, their own lifestyle has virtually annihilated the natural world in a small portion of the environment, yet, that is where they choose to spend their lives.

All over the Western World economies are in trouble with productive activity struggling under a growing burden of bloated government and stifling bureaucracy for which environmentalism has provided a major impetus. In developing nations it has been estimated that as many as 30 million people have been driven into landless poverty as conservation refugees. In the US, UK, Germany and Australia power grids are approaching the threshold of major blackouts as a consequence of a decade long failure to invest in new generating capacity because of uncertainty regarding environmental regulations. Meanwhile hundreds of billions of dollars have been wasted on costly, inefficient and unreliable wind and solar farms which produce only trivial amounts of power and no measurable reduction in CO2 emissions.

Without a radical change in direction, declining productivity and competitiveness in the global marketplace may soon make it impossible to maintain our vast urban resource sinks populated by large numbers of non-producers. This modern society which the environmentalists regard with such contempt looks likely to prove far more fragile and delicate than the reefs and forests about which they are so obsessed. Ironically, the sustainability they are so concerned with imposing may ultimately render they themselves and their way of life unsustainable. Even more ironic, in such circumstances their most valuable contribution to Gaia or The Ecology could well be as compost.

Of course, events don’t have to go that way. People do have a remarkable ability to abandon a strongly held belief when it becomes obvious it is costing themselves and not just others. That will be the real test of faith.

Although we all want clean and healthy air, water, and food and few do not appreciate the beauty of nature, achieving this requires knowledge, difficult decisions, costs and some trade-offs. Turning concern for the environment into another ism to serve as an opportunity for know-nothing, do-nothings to indulge in displays of self-righteousness only adds to the difficulty. Those with nothing invested and nothing to contribute but complaint have earned no right to decide.

Signing away our sovereignty to inept and unaccountable UN bureaucrats with a demonstrable track record of failure in their own countries is worse than just stupid or spineless. It is treasonous. As a liberal democracy our government is one that is supposed to be of, by and for the people. It is past time that we the people started to take back our rights and our government from those who have usurped them. It is also time to tell the UN bureaucrats to butt out, go home and deal with their own problems.

Much more HERE

Xena: Rio+20 failed to mention billions of casualties

Lubos Motl has some words about the pontifications of Lucy Lawless, a New Zealand actress best known for playing the title character of the television series Xena: Warrior Princess. Actors make their money speaking words written by others so it probably helps to have a head that is otherwise all but empty

Among many other things I experienced today, my nephew told me about various incredible catastrophes he is going to experience in his lifetime according to everything he is told at school and in the media so I decided to look at some of the sources again.

Before I did so, I also tried to explain to him the gases in the atmosphere, the fate of polar bears, projections on various energy sources in the next 50 years, and other things. But you should have no doubt that Goebbels knew why he said that a 100 times repeated lie becomes a truth. When it comes to repetition, I (and we) just can't compete with the huge industry of propaganda spreading utter insanities about global warming and similar degenerative hardcore pseudoscientific delusions.

Much of this garbage is directed at children and youth – because some people apparently think they're legitimate targets of shameless brainwashing. As Ian Plimer and Václav Klaus said, the main danger of the global warming doctrine is that the children have already been indoctrinated. Even when the adults manage to defeat the hysteria and all the nonsense it has brought with it, we will be living with a kind of a time bomb because this junk has already been hardwired into the brains of the present children who will become adults in the future.

I am sure that many men would self-confidently consider Lucy Lawless as their female counterpart or potential companion – what they would look like and how they would speak if they were female or how their partner could look like. However, she's dumb as a doorknob; it's really unbelievable.

Yesterday, she gave an interview to some New Zealand media. She complained about her surprise that so little was achieved at Rio+20. Well, this is the first sign that she is living outside the reality. Everyone who follows this topic and who has at least traces of sanity had to know that Rio+20 would achieve nothing except for ideological clichés detached from any policymaking that had to be formulated in a totally impotent way because no one really wants to implement any of the psychopathological policies that are recommended by the climate hysteria movement and that would cost trillions of dollars.

Xena, the warrior-turned-"scientist" – doesn't like that the Rio+20 documents don't mention any tipping points and the "calamitous weather events" that will affect "billions of people".

Before a discussion about the billions, it would be interesting to see at least 1 person who has been affected by weather events of the kind that statistically significantly deviate from the weather events that the mankind has known in the previous centuries and millenniums by their intensity or frequency.

In particular, she is worried about all those nations that live in the Arctic. Unless, of course, the Arctic is actually covered by an ocean – the Arctic Ocean where it's pretty difficult for humans to live – plus largely uninhabited parts of the Greenland, Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Russia, Canada, and the U.S. But I don't want to be too ambitious as a teacher who would plan to explain the concept of the "Arctic Ocean" to Lucy Lawless.

Also, it would probably be foolish to try to explain that it's pretty cold in the Arctic and if some temperature change would make the Arctic less compatible with life, it would be additional cooling, not warming. Needless to say, Lawless believes that one may build lots of new jobs by banning fossil fuels that are "dwindling" – she has probably not heard about tar sands and shale gas yet. But even if the fossil fuels were dwindling, banning them abruptly would surely not help the job market, would it?

But I exploded in laughter when she described the global role of the New Zealand energy industry. New Zealand is lucky to have an electricity industry whose 23% is made of fossil fuels, 0% is made of nuclear energy, and 77% is represented by renewable energy, especially hydropower, partly geothermal power, and – in recent years – wind energy. I say it's lucky because not every country has 24 peaks above 3 kilometers of height (they may give some potential energy to the water for your hydropower plants) much like not every country has oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. For example, Czechia (where hydropower is still the dominant "renewable" source despite the fact that we have also managed to become a solar superpower due to some insane policies of subsidies 2-3 years ago that have already been largely reverted) only has 4 peaks above 1,500 meters of altitude. So we just do need lots of fossil fuels and nuclear power plants, too. Donate us the territory of New Zealand and things may be different. But the landscape does affect what one needs to do to survive – or flourish. But let me return to Lawless' recommendation to the energy industry of her homeland:

We should be selling that energy all over the world! ROTFL. ;-)

To export her hydropower to the U.S., for example, she will have to build 10,000+ kilometers of trans-ocean or superconducting power lines to California. I suspect the construction will be funded by donations to Greenpeace New Zealand. Good luck! She's been active in this kind of business for many years but her knowledge about the real world hasn't yet surpassed the knowledge of an average girl in the kindergarten.

This misunderstanding of the concept of "distance" is pretty typical for the global warming movement, especially because of the adjective "global". The idea is that the planet is a small organism and everything is connected with everything. So if an actor in New Zealand decides to export electricity to California, New Zealand will just place the power lines between California and New Zealand, right? She's used to fly everywhere and it takes a few hours. So it can't possibly be difficult to transfer energy over 11,000 km, either, can it?

In reality, almost nothing is global. The electricity sectors of the continents and, to a large extent, countries are isolated from each other. It's not economically feasible to export hydropower from an isolated island to a different continent. The world is still very large and is composed of lots of regions that live their own local life and don't interact – and can't interact – with each other much. There's no global warming. There's local warming somewhere, local cooling elsewhere, and different places don't give a damn about what's happening elsewhere. (And in most cases, a one-degree temperature changes are irrelevant even for the same places where the change occurs.) Almost everything is local. The laws of physics, quantum field theory, is strictly local. The very idea about a global world that is one whole – something that Lawless has repeated many times as well – is nothing else than an idiocy. There is nothing unified about our planet.

Lawless also screams around 3:50 that a New Zealand female minister blew her mind when she said that their country is doing fine when it comes to the renewable fad. 77% of energy being renewable is not enough for the Princess Warrior. ;-)

It's surely fun to watch personalities like herself – which is why I sometimes do such things – but if you think about the content independently of her fame and appearance, you must cry. You must cry about the intellectual quality – more precisely, the bug-nutty, bat shit craziness – of the people who may actually be considered the world's leading opinionmakers at the beginning of the 21st century, a century that used to be connected by writers of science-fiction novels as well as many others with a rational world based on the omnipresent science and technology. Opinionmakers who shouldn't have been allowed to complete their elementary school (if not the kindergarten) because they demonstrably lack the knowledge that the elementary school should teach everyone.

If we don't look at the increasingly squeezed and harassed – yet still amazingly efficient and progressing – industry and we look at the general culture, we must conclude that most of the science-fiction writers were just wrong when they were writing about the years right after 2000. Instead of a futuristic world, most of the mankind is returning to the Middle Ages, being led by bug-nutty, bat shit crazy crackpots and witches such as Lucy Lawless.

It's sad, it's scary, but it's the memo.


Reviewing the writings of HH Lamb, an eminent climatologist who wrote before the global warming religion took hold

By Paul Homewood

Hubert Lamb was one of the leading climatologists of his time, indeed described in one obituary as the greatest. He spent most of his career at the UK Met Office before founding and becoming the first director of the Climatic Research Unit. He wrote many books, but perhaps “Climate: Present , Past & Future” was the most significant. Here we review Volume 2, amounting to 836 pages, which particularly looks at climatic trends over the centuries.

Originally published in 1977, the volume offers great insights into the thinking not only of Lamb himself, but also of many of his peers. Not only does Lamb give us the benefit of his own work and experience, but much of his research is into work carried out by a host of other scientists of his time and earlier.

Everything that follows is based on Lamb’s writings in this volume; any comments of mine will be within [ brackets ]. I would also point out that sections in italics are direct quotations from the book.

Climate during the Holocene

The Holocene begins around 10000 BC, at the end of the last Ice Age, and continues to the present. In this section, we will look at the period leading up to the Medieval Warming Period.

How did temperatures in this first part of Holocene compare with today’s and what confidence can we have in their accuracy and extent? Lamb presents a good deal of evidence to suggest that, for much of the period, temperatures were warmer than now. For instance he presents much evidence from glaciers.

It was after 2000-1500 BC that most of the present glaciers in the Rocky Mountains south of  57 o N were formed and that major re-advance of those in the Alaskan Rockies first took place.

And at their subsequent advanced positions – probably around 500 BC as well as between 1650 and 1850 AD – the glaciers in the Alps regained an extent, estimated in the Glockner region, at about 5 times their Bronze Age Minimum, when all the smaller ones had disappeared.

Treeline studies, including Southern Hemisphere sites, paint a similar picture. Quoting a study by Markgraf in 1974, which encompassed the Alps, Carpathians, Rockies, Japan, New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, East Africa and the Andes, Lamb writes :-

Summer temperatures in these regions were 2 C higher than now in the warmest postglacial times (around 5000 BC).

He then quotes a similar study by Lamarche in 1973:-

Study of the Upper Tree Line on the White Mountains in California, similarly indicates warm season temperatures about 2C higher than today all through the warmest millenia, from before 5500 BC until about 2200 BC.

[Many recent studies in Baffin Bay, Greenland and Iceland come to similar conclusions, i.e. that for much of the Holocene, temperatures were higher than now and also that the Little Ice Age was probably the coldest period in the last 10000 years.]

What about the cooler periods Lamb mentions?

He describes this as the “Sub Atlantic Period” from about 1000 BC.

Glacier advances, changes in the composition of the forests, and the retreat of the forest from its previous northern and upper limits, indicate significant cooling of world climates, its start being detectable in some places (e.g. Alaska, Chile, China) from as early as 1500 BC.

In Europe, the most marked change seems to have been from 1200-700 BC. By 700-500 BC, prevailing temperatures must have been about 2.0C lower than they had been half a millenium earlier, and there was a great increase of wetness everywhere north of the Alps.

Another aspect of the centuries of colder climate around 500 BC in NW Europe was evidently their storminess. There was perhaps a final climax of the first of these epochs of marked storminess in the great North Sea storm, or storms, about 120-114 BC, which altered the coasts of Jutland and NW Germany in a great sea flood, “The Cymbrian Flood”, which set off the migration of the Celtic (Cymbrian) and Teutonic peoples who had been living in these areas.

The probable course of prevailing temperatures in Europe and the Far East has been presented in Fig 16.22. [Not shown]. In both regions, the last few centuries BC register some general rise in temperature, representing a recovery from the coldest conditions of the onset of the Sub Atlantic climatic period, which had culminated in great glacier advances in the Alps (HEUBERGER 1968), at various times between about 900 and 300 BC, and apparently a lower snowline in the high mountains of Lebanon and elsewhere in the Near East and Equatorial Africa.

Lamb goes on to describe how temperatures recovered in the period leading up to the MWP.

There was a gradual fluctuating recovery of warmth in Europe over the 1000 years after 600 BC, particularly after 100 BC, leading to a period of warmth and apparently high sea level around 400 AD. [We would recognise this as the Roman Warming Period].

The Roman agricultural writer, Saserna, wrote that in the last century BC, cultivation of the olive and vine were spreading further north in Italy, where in the previous century, winters had been too cold for transplants to survive (WARNER ALLEN 1961).

After some reversion to colder and wetter climates in the next 300-400 years, sharply renewed warming from about 800 AD led to an important warm epoch.

Medieval Warming Period

Lamb had no doubt that the MWP was real and global.

Evidence already cited at various places in this volume suggests that, for a few centuries in the Middle Ages, the climate in most parts of the world regained something approaching the warmth of the warmest postglacial times.

He cites many examples in Europe and North America which indicate warmer temperatures than now.

[Recent studies, that have found evidence that Alaskan glaciers were smaller in the MWP than now, tie in with this North American conclusion.]

But as Lamb makes clear, the warming was not limited to the Northern Hemisphere.

Little Ice Age

Lamb has this to say about the extent of the LIA.

The period we are discussing has been dubbed “The Little Ice Age” because, not only in Europe but in most parts of the world, the extent of snow and ice on land and sea seems to have attained a maximum as great as, or in most cases greater than, at any time since the last major ice age.

Lamb also recognises that there were timing differences between the two hemispheres when he points out

On the whole the culmination seems to have come earlier in the NH, particularly in N America, the Arctic and China/Japan, and later in the SH, where the maximum advance of the glaciers in Chile seems to have been in the 18thC and the greatest extent of ice on the Antarctic Ocean may have been as late as around 1900.

There was, however, an important late climax of the Arctic sea ice around Iceland between 1780 and 1830, and many glaciers in the Alps reached their greatest extent towards 1850.

He sums this period up very well.

The course of the climatic deterioration over 500 years from 1200 AD can quite well be traced by its effects under the following headings.

  1. Increasing spread of the Arctic sea ice into all the northernmost Atlantic and around Greenland, forcing the abandonment of the old sailing routes to Greenland, which had been used from 1000-1300 AD.
  2. Advances of the inland ice and permafrost in Greenland and of glaciers in Iceland, Norway and the Alps.
  3. Lowering of the treeline on the heights in Central Europe and the Rockies.
  4. Increasing wetness of the ground and spread of lakes and marshes in many places in North, West and Central Europe, and all over Northern Russia and Siberia.
  5. Increasing frequency of the freezing of rivers and lakes.
  6. Evidence of increasing severity of the windstorms and resulting sea floods and disasters by shifting sand.
  7. In the records of harvest failure.
  8. In the records and archaeology of abandoning crop growing, tillage and vineyards, abandoned farms and villages.
  9. In the incidence of disease and death among human and animal populations.

As to the causes, Lamb explains

It is reasonable to consider the whole sequence, from about the time of Christ, through the early medieval warm centuries and the cold climate that followed, to our own times, as an oscillation on the same time scale, and possibly of basically the same nature, as the Bolling & Allerod oscillations in Late Glacial Times, the Piora oscillation [around 3000 BC], and the Bronze Age and early Iron Age changes in the last 4000 years.


Australia: Meatworks may shut Queensland plant for three weeks to avoid carbon tax

A MAJOR meatworks could shut one of its Queensland plants for three weeks to side-step a carbon tax bill expected to cost millions.

Teys Australia Meat Group is one of 295 names on a preliminary list of companies to be slugged the $23 a tonne carbon tax from July 1 after its carbon emissions were estimated as being above the threshold of 25,000 tonnes a year.

The group, which has its head office in Beenleigh, south of Brisbane, was expecting its carbon tax bill to exceed $2 million a year.

But the meat processor could dodge part of the bill by closing down its second-biggest plant at Beenleigh for several weeks to reduce its annual emissions at the location to just below the Government's 25,000 tonne tax threshold.

It is believed other meatworks with emissions above the threshold could also be considering temporary shut-downs to avoid the tax.

"We could close this plant for a period of time in the year - one or two weeks - and therefore our total emissions for the year would potentially be below 25,000 (tonnes)," Teys spokesman Tom Maguire said.

"We are talking to the Government about ways of avoiding that but to this date we haven't come to any resolution.

"Given some of our competitors don't have the same tax, we won't be able to pass the costs on."

The company will also pay a carbon tax on emissions from its Rockhampton plant but says a temporary closure there was not an option.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said the Government's $1 billion Clean Technology Program provided grants for new equipment and technology to reduce emissions.

The potential shutdown comes as Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan moves to reassure voters that carbon tax compensation will reach much higher up the income threshold than people realised.

New Treasury analysis reveals half of all families earning up to $150,000 a year will be over-compensated for the carbon tax, with tax cuts and welfare changes equivalent to 120 per cent of the expected cost.

But it might not stretch as far in Queensland as other states, with residents here facing a $3.70 a week rise in electricity prices directly related to the carbon tax.

That compares with a rise of $3.30 a week in NSW, $2.48 a week in Tasmania and $2.50 a week in Western Australia.

Prices will rise by double those amounts in some states but those increases are not as a direct result of the carbon tax.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


24 June, 2012

People Matter: Robert Zubrin’s powerful critique of antihumanism

BOOK REVIEW of "Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism", by Robert Zubrin (Encounter, 328 pp., $25.95)

A ruling idea of the last two centuries has been materialism: the notion, as arch-materialist Daniel Dennett asserts, that “there is only one sort of stuff, namely matter—the physical stuff of physics, chemistry, and physiology—and the mind is somehow nothing but a physical phenomenon.” One consequence of this belief has been the rise of antihumanism—the stripping from people of their transcendent value and a reduction of them to mere things in the world to be studied, understood, reshaped—and ultimately controlled.

As Robert Zubrin shows in his valuable survey Merchants of Despair, antihumanism’s reductive view of human nature has underpinned movements like eugenics, population control, and radical environmentalism, all of which have been eager to sacrifice human life and well-being to achieve their dubious utopias. Zubrin, a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering and fellow of the Center for Security Policy, has previously authored popular books on energy and space exploration. He shows an engineer’s sharp eye for things as they are and a scientist’s respect for the limits of knowledge, especially as regards various pseudoscientific fads.

Zubrin begins with Thomas Malthus, “the founding prophet of modern antihumanism,” who claimed in his 1798 Essay on the Principle of Population that any population always geometrically grows larger than the food supply. Malthus’s argument ignored humans’ creative ingenuity, but his theories had catastrophic consequences when applied to the real world. Believing that Ireland was overpopulated, for example, the British government allowed this food-exporting island to spiral downward into famine partly because, as Malthus himself urged, “a great part of the population should be swept from the soil.” Over 1 million Irish died of starvation and disease caused by malnutrition. Thirty years later, the same policy of neglect contributed to a famine that killed as many as 10 million people in India, again because of the Malthusian fallacy that, as Sir Evelyn Baring told Parliament, “every benevolent attempt made to mitigate the effects of famine and defective sanitation serves but to enhance the evils resulting from overpopulation.”

Charles Darwin embraced Malthus’s apocalyptic theories, too. Overpopulation, he believed, would eventually be cured by natural selection, the “weeding out of ‘unfit’ individuals and races.” As Darwin wrote in The Descent of Man: “At some future period . . . the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world.” Like Malthus, Darwin had no patience with sentimental Christian or Enlightenment ethics that sought to alleviate suffering and improve human life with medical advances such as vaccinations, or with asylums and other social-welfare institutions that cared for the sick, insane, or poor. Because of this effort “to check the process of elimination,” Darwin maintained, “the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.” As Zubrin summarizes Darwin’s argument: “Peace, plenty, care, and compassion were interferences in the course of nature. All progress was based on death.”

The mixture of Malthusian and Darwinian theory soon conjured up racist eugenics. At the forefront of the early eugenics movement was Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, who also decried humanist sentimentalism. The “unfit” must be kept from procreating, he argued, for “if these continued to procreate children, inferior in moral, intellectual and physical qualities, it is easy to believe the time may come when such persons would be considered as enemies to the State, and to have forfeited all claims to kindness.” By the turn of the twentieth century, these ideas had become articles of faith among many liberals and socialists.

Such cruel pseudoscientific theories took a fatal turn in Germany, where eugenics found its deadliest champion in biologist Ernst Haeckel, “an extreme racist, virulent anti-Catholic bigot, anti-Semite, anti-Pole, pro-imperialist, Pan-German fanatic” as well as a “militant atheist.” Haeckel and his followers sought to replace Christian ethics with “Monism,” the aim of which was to further human evolution through Germany’s conquest of inferior races and the elimination of abnormal children and invalids. The ideas also took hold in America, championed by men like General Francis Amasa Walker, president of M.I.T. In 1896, Walker wrote in the Atlantic that Hungarian, Bohemian, Polish, Italian, and Russian-Jewish immigrants were “beaten men from beaten races; representing the worst failures in the struggle for existence,” possessing “none of the ideas and aptitudes which fit men to take up readily and easily the problem of self-care and self-government.” Theodore Roosevelt would later agree, expressing his disdain for “the prevalent loose and sloppy talk about the general progress of humanity, the equality and identity of races, and the like” as the product of “well-meaning and feeble-minded sentimentalists.” These widespread prejudices, buttressed by biased I.Q. tests, ultimately led in 1924 to the discriminatory U.S. law that shut down immigration from countries considered inferior and provided a pseudoscientific justification for race-based segregation.

The Holocaust would discredit at least the public expression of eugenics. Zubrin shows that the ideas lived on, though, repackaged as “population control” and concern for the environment. Prewar eugenicists found a home in organizations like the postwar Population Council, whose founding roster, Zubrin writes, “reads like a eugenics movement reunion.” The same continuity exists between eugenics groups and environmental organizations, such as the British Union for the Conservation of Nature and the World Wildlife Fund. Particularly valuable is Zubrin’s examination of the eugenic roots of Planned Parenthood, whose founder, Margaret Sanger, wrote in 1919: “More children from the fit, less from the unfit—that is the chief issue of birth control.” These movements, Zubrin writes, soon made up “the imposing and influential population control establishment,” which became entrenched at the United Nations and in U.S. government agencies. The efforts of these groups were suspiciously concentrated in the developing world.

As Zubrin meticulously documents, the obsession with overpopulation has led to attacks on the economic and technological development that represents the best hope for improving human life around the globe. The alliance of radical environmentalism, population-control advocacy, and anticapitalist leftism continues to prolong the misery of the Third World. Rachel Carson’s scientifically challenged campaign against DDT led to the deaths of millions. Paul Ehrlich’s spectacularly wrong Malthusian predictions helped legitimize cruel policies, such as Lyndon Johnson’s withholding of food aid to India during the 1966 famine. Ehrlich wanted food aid tied to sterilization and birth-control programs and suggested adding “temporary sterilants to water supplies or staple food,” with antidotes given only when the population reached the desired size. He also wanted “luxury taxes” imposed on cribs, diapers, and children’s toys. These neo-Malthusian theories ultimately led to the 1968 creation of the Club of Rome, whose influential study The Limits to Growth shapes attitudes to the present day—for example, in the animus against genetically modified foods. Now institutionalized in E.U. policy, the refusal to allow genetically modified food denies vital crops (containing nutrients and organic pesticides engineered into them) to the Third World.

The anti-global-warming crusade against carbon-based energy is the latest assault on progress and improvement. Zubrin is correct to call the climate-change movement a “global antihuman cult.” Its assaults against dissent, embrace of messianic leaders, and apocalyptic scenarios reveal a debased religious sensibility rather than scientific rigor: “Right thinking will be rewarded,” Zubrin writes of global-warming thought police like Al Gore and economist Paul Krugman. “Wrong thinking will be punished. Many will be sacrificed. All will be controlled. The gods will take back their fire.” The warmists’ growth-killing programs, if implemented, would lead to mass immiseration.

As Zubrin concludes, antihumanist ideas and programs represent a war against human freedom and global solidarity: “If the world’s resources are fixed with only so much to go around, then each new life is unwelcome, each unregulated act or thought is a menace, every person is fundamentally the enemy of every other person, and each race or nation is the enemy of every other race or nation. The ultimate outcome of such a worldview can only be enforced stagnation, tyranny, war, and genocide.” Contrary to the arguments of the “terrible simplifiers,” as historian Jacob Burckhardt called those who reduce people to mere matter, humans are capable of freedom, creativity, compassion, and love. We should cherish these unique qualities rather than succumbing to antihumanism and self-hatred.


More computer games

If the new "study" is 2,500 times more precise than previous studies, it doesn't say much for the previous studies, does it?

The Los Angeles region will heat up over the next 50 years, with more 95-plus degree days in store, according to a new UCLA report compiled with forecasting models generated by a supercomputer.

The study, which contains data 2,500 times more detailed than previous studies, predicts weather patterns from 2041 to 2060.

It shows that the number of days with temperatures exceeding 95 degrees will increase.

By mid-century, the number of days with "extreme heat"— temperatures above 95 degrees—will triple in downtown Los Angeles, and quadruple in both the San Fernando Valley and the San Gabriel Valley, according to the study's summary of findings. Desert communities are predicted to experience five times the number of days over 95 degrees.

The hottest days are likely to break records, said Alex Hall, lead researcher on the study by UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. The current record high for downtown is 113 degrees, set on Sept. 27, 2010. Temperatures are predicted to rise 3.7-5.4 degrees across the region by 2050. The hottest days will likely be in the summer and the fall.

"Every season of the year in every part of the county will be warmer," Hall said. "This study lays a foundation for the region to confront climate change. Now that we have real numbers, we can talk about adaptation.''

The study titled "Mid-Century Warming in the Los Angeles Region," which was done with a supercomputer, contains the most precise predictions for how climate change will affect the Los Angeles area's micro climate zones—deserts, coastal areas and mountains. The micro climates are just 2 1/4 square miles.

“This is the best, most sophisticated climate science ever done for a city,” said UCLA Professor Paul Bunje, executive director of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability Center for Climate Change Solutions. “Nobody knew precisely how to adapt to climate change because no one had the data—until now.”

The city of Los Angeles commissioned the $500,000 study, which was paid for by the U.S. Department of Energy.

“UCLA’s model projects climate changes down to the neighborhood level, allowing us to apply the rigor of science to long-term planning for our city and our region,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in a statement. “With good data driving good policies, we can craft innovative solutions that will preserve our environment and quality of life for the next generation of Angelenos.”

A main concern the study reaffirms is the sustainability of Los Angeles' water resources. The region is dependent on snowfall and precipitation in the local mountains. Another study on local water resources will be released in the fall, and another study on snowpack in the Sierra Nevada range will come out in the summer of 2013.

Another regional concern is the risk of heat stroke and other heat-related maladies.

“Higher temperatures bring higher health risks,” says Dr. Richard Jackson of the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA. “Longer, harsher heat waves will cause more cases of heat stroke and heat exhaustion—even among otherwise healthy people who believe they’re immune—and higher temperatures mean more smog, with consequences for respiratory health as well.”


Down with air-conditioning!

Given a stupid premise, you can deduce a lot of stupid conclusions. Example below

The economist Thorstein Veblen once quipped that "invention is the mother of necessity." That was before the age of air-conditioning, but no technology better illustrates Veblen's point. Having developed efficient cooling, we've designed homes, businesses and transportation systems that are completely dependent on it, while the resulting greenhouse emissions create the need for even more air-conditioning.

There's little we can say to the developing world about its pursuit of air-conditioning until we end our own society's dependence on it.
Cooling of America's buildings and vehicles has the annual global-warming impact of almost half a billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. (Three-fourths of that is attributable to fossil fuels, the rest to refrigerants.) We consume more energy for residential air-conditioning than do all other countries combined, but that's about to change. Home-cooling demand worldwide is projected to increase tenfold before 2050, stimulated by rising incomes and rising temperatures in already-warm regions. Such staggering growth will swamp out efficiency gains, outstrip renewable energy and accelerate warming.

We must break this feedback loop, but what does one say to someone living in one of the tropical nations where much of the increase in cooling demand is expected? Surely not that Americans are addicted to air-conditioning and can’t give it up, but we expect Southeast Asians to get by without air-conditioners because they're used to the heat.

No, there's little we can say until we end our own society's dependence on lavish cooling. Doing that would be a good start, but addressing energy-hungry technologies one at a time won't achieve the greenhouse-gas cuts of as much as 80 percent that science says are necessary to prevent catastrophic warming. Only a per-person ceiling on overall emissions can accomplish that.

A global greenhouse ration would push us into distinguishing between absolute necessities like food or water and manufactured necessities like a houseful of refrigerated air. And making such decisions could help us recover some of the resilience our own culture has lost in the age of air-conditioning.


The moonbat gets it right for once

George Monbiot of The Guardian says that the Rio+20 draft text is 283 paragraphs of fluff

World leaders have spent 20 years bracing themselves to express 'deep concern' about the world's environmental crises, but not to do anything about them

In 1992, world leaders signed up to something called "sustainability". Few of them were clear about what it meant; I suspect that many of them had no idea. Perhaps as a result, it did not take long for this concept to mutate into something subtly different: "sustainable development". Then it made a short jump to another term: "sustainable growth". And now, in the 2012 Rio+20 text that world leaders are about to adopt, it has subtly mutated once more: into "sustained growth".

This term crops up 16 times in the document, where it is used interchangeably with sustainability and sustainable development. But if sustainability means anything, it is surely the opposite of sustained growth. Sustained growth on a finite planet is the essence of unsustainability.

As political economist Robert Skidelsky, who comes at this issue from a different angle, observes in the Guardian today:

"Aristotle knew of insatiability only as a personal vice; he had no inkling of the collective, politically orchestrated insatiability that we call economic growth. The civilization of "always more" would have struck him as moral and political madness. And, beyond a certain point, it is also economic madness. This is not just or mainly because we will soon enough run up against the natural limits to growth. It is because we cannot go on for much longer economising on labour faster than we can find new uses for it."

Several of the more outrageous deletions proposed by the United States – such as any mention of rights or equity or of common but differentiated responsibilities – have been rebuffed. In other respects the Obama government's purge has succeeded, striking out such concepts as "unsustainable consumption and production patterns" and the proposed decoupling of economic growth from the use of natural resources.

At least the states due to sign this document haven't ripped up the declarations from the last Earth summit, 20 years ago. But in terms of progress since then, that's as far as it goes. Reaffirming the Rio 1992 commitments is perhaps the most radical principle in the entire declaration.

As a result, the draft document, which seems set to become the final document, takes us precisely nowhere: 190 governments have spent 20 years bracing themselves to "acknowledge", "recognise" and express "deep concern" about the world's environmental crises, but not to do anything about them.

This paragraph from the declaration sums up the problem for me:

"We recognise that the planet Earth and its ecosystems are our home and that Mother Earth is a common expression in a number of countries and regions and we note that some countries recognise the rights of nature in the context of the promotion of sustainable development. We are convinced that in order to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environment needs of present and future generations, it is necessary to promote harmony with nature."

It sounds lovely, doesn't it? It could be illustrated with rainbows and psychedelic unicorns and stuck on the door of your toilet. But without any proposed means of implementation, it might just as well be deployed for a different function in the same room.

The declaration is remarkable for its absence of figures, dates and targets. It is as stuffed with meaningless platitudes as an advertisement for payday loans, but without the necessary menace. There is nothing to work with here, no programme, no sense of urgency or call for concrete action beyond the inadequate measures already agreed in previous flaccid declarations. Its tone and contents would be better suited to a retirement homily than a response to a complex of escalating global crises.

The draft and probably final declaration is 283 paragraphs of fluff. It suggests that the 190 governments due to approve it have, in effect, given up on multilateralism, given up on the world and given up on us. So what do we do now? That is the topic I intend to address in my column next week.


£475,000 and 300 tonnes of CO2 to send Eurocrats to Earth Summit in Rio... and they STILL can't decide on anything

The shameful cost to both the taxpayer and the environment of sending just five Eurocrats to the Earth Summit in Rio, has been revealed.

The European Commission today said it cost £475,000 to send the delegates, including Commission President José Manuel Barroso, along with an entourage of over 60 to the Rio+20 conference.

The meeting, which ends today in the Brazilian city which hosted the first Earth Summit 20 years ago, has thus far made almost no progress, with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg describing the outcome as 'insipid'.

The high financial costs were revealed in an answer to a parliamentary question submitted by London Conservative MEP Marina Yannakoudakis.

Mrs. Yannakoudakis, who is a member of the European Parliament’s environment committee, condemned the decision to send such a large delegation. She said: 'The Rio+20 Summit may address important issues, but EU needs to be mindful of the costs of sending so many officials halfway across the world.

'At a time of austerity, we must ask ourselves was it really necessary to send five European Commissioners and their entourages to Rio. Saving the planet shouldn’t cost the earth.'

The European Parliament cancelled its participation in the conference last month.

At that time German Social Democrat MEP and chairman of the environment committee said: 'The huge increase in the estimated cost of attending the summit is simply not justifiable, especially at a time when many Europeans are faced with economic hardship.'

The estimated carbon emissions of flying business class return Brussels-Rio de Janeiro is almost five tonnes of CO2 per passenger.

The UK is only sending two ministers to the summit (Deputy PM Nick Clegg and Defra Minister Caroline Spelman) with the delegation of UK officials much smaller than that of the Commission.

The EU Commissioners taking part in the summit are: President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, Commissioner for Environment, Janez Poto?nik, Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard and Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dacian Ciolo?.

The European Commission’s figures do not include staff sent to Rio by the European External Action Service nor Danish officials attending the summit as representatives of the rotating EU Presidency.


Australia: Big stink brewing over dumpanomics

Carbon tax to dump your rubbish?

The final battle against the carbon pricing scheme before its July 1 introduction will be amid the lumpy terrain and unpleasant pong of suburban garbage dumps. Local government will be fighting to the end the application of the $23-a-tonne penalty for carbon emissions which will be attracted by this usually unattractive community facility.

The circling ibis portend a tipping point in the carbon tax debate… sorry, that was pretty bad.The circling ibis portend a tipping point in the carbon tax debate… sorry, that was pretty bad.

Meanwhile, the Government will be insisting the same territory, the local landfill site, will become a boon for municipal councils as it will lead to money making prospects for them.

Rubbish tips are an ideal political battleground because while most suburban types don’t own an aluminium refinery or a coal mine, they do cart their clippings and other waste to the tip regularly.

And while the landfill sites of just 33 rubbish dumps out of 565 councils nationally will be caught up in the carbon pricing scheme, they are a frontline community resource.

Miners are allowing cries of dread about carbon pricing, but just yesterday giant Rio Tinto announced a big expansion in iron ore projects, and steel town Whyalla, one of the places said to be wiped from the economic map by the carbon scheme, is lobbying for an expansion of its airport.

While the question of electricity prices is not as clear-cut as the Opposition might insist, the matter of charges at the tip is as obvious as cash-short councils can and will make them, on rates notices or billboards at the dump.

While the scheme will affect only landfill sites which emit more than 25,00 tonnes of methane a year - the big ones - it indicates the reach and intrusion of the carbon scheme into basic community assets.

The Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate late last month said his council would not pay the carbon price when the bill arrives in July next year.

While this might cost his council more in legal fees to fight the Commonwealth in court than any savings from refusing to pay the carbon invoice, Ald Tate has become a local government hero.

The economics of rubbish dumps are not as simple as the old equation of garbage-in, gas-out might indicate.

Yesterday the Australian Landfill Owners’ Association wrote to parliamentary secretary for climate change Mark Dreyfus to lay out some of its research on how the scheme could warp competition.

It reported that in the Adelaide area there are two large sites clearly over the 25,000 tonne threshold, three smaller sites that are just below the threshold, and a further two small country sites.

“Under the current arrangements the two larger sites cannot pass through their CPM carbon costs without risking a significant loss of business to the smaller sites,” said the ALOA letter.

A second example was Hobart, where there is a relatively new regional landfill site and two smaller council-owned tips.

“Notwithstanding its intention to install a gas collection system shortly the regional landfill expects to have emissions above the threshold whilst the two smaller sites are below the threshold,” said the letter.

“This situation is preventing the larger regional site from passing carbon pass-through costs to its clients.”

And same for a third example in regional Victoria, where between Bendigo and Echuca landfill services are provided by a privately owned regional landfill and a number of smaller country landfills.

“The regional site estimates it will exceed the threshold in 2018 and as a consequence needs to initiate a partial carbon cost recovery from 1 July 2012. The operation of the smaller neighbouring sites is frustrating the regional sites ability to recover its carbon liability costs,” said the ALOA.

“These three examples demonstrate the need for the prescribed distance rule to be re-instated in the legislation and as a result ALOA calls on the Government to bring forward the review of the prescribed distance so that unfair competition between covered and uncovered sites can be avoided.”

But it’s the council sites where the issue will be felt most.

Mark Dreyfus is attempting to convince councillors they have a lucrative opportunity under the scheme to make some money by harnessing the methane and selling the carbon credits on the open market.

They could capture the gas and turn it into electricity to earn Renewable Energy Certificates which also have financial rewards attached.

“Good examples of councils taking a lead in these areas are Tweed Heads which has reduced its gas pollution so significantly, it will not have to pay any carbon price, and Newcastle City Council which generates enough electricity from its captured gas to power 3000 homes,” said Mr Dreyfus in a statement.

Ultimately the Government returns to its household assistance payments which it says will compensate for increased tip charges.

“Rate rises associated with landfill, if any, are estimated to be between 13 cents and 40 cents per household, which is covered by the federal governments average household assistance of $10.10 per household per week, delivered through pension increases, family payments and tax cuts,” said Mr Dreyfus.

Councillors are not dills. They see the opportunity. But they need time to invest in the the capital works to take advantage of those opportunities for decades to come.

Until they get that they will turn their rubbish dumps into carbon pricing martyrs.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


22 June, 2012

The hard life of Warmists

Below is a tale of how Warmist scientists -- particularly Michael Mann -- have "suffered" for their work. The article appears to have been taken down at its original source, probably indicating falsehoods in it.

Be that as it may, however, it is pathetic. It does not mention that Mann's fabled "hockeystick" can be reproduced by feeding random numbers into the computer program he used, not does it indicate that the "threat" to Australian climate scientists has been debunked as non-existent. Nobody could produce any of the alleged "threatening" emails.

And requests for copies of raw data are "onerous"? It is only refusal of those requests that has produced work. If the full raw data used by Mann and others had been promptly supplied -- as the usual scientific custom -- none of the other uproar would have happened. It is only his secrecy that has produced the various enquiries to which he has been subjected

There is much more than the excerpt below but I think enough has been said to indicate the quality of the whole thing. Telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth seems to be impossible for Warmists. They are certainly spectacularly bad at it. I have a copy of the full article. The title of the article is "The Battle Over Climate Science" by Tom Clynes and it appeared in "Popular Science"

“Weird” is perhaps the mildest way to describe the growing number of threats and acts of intimidation that climate scientists face. A climate modeler at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory answered a late-night knock to find a dead rat on his doorstep and a yellow Hummer speeding away. An MIT hurricane researcher found his inbox flooded daily for two weeks last January with hate mail and threats directed at him and his wife. And in Australia last year, officials relocated several climatologists to a secure facility after climate-change skeptics unleashed a barrage of vandalism, noose brandishing and threats of sexual attacks on the scientists’ children.

Those crude acts of harassment often come alongside more-sophisticated legal and political attacks. Organizations routinely file nuisance lawsuits and onerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to disrupt the work of climate scientists. In 2005, before dragging Mann and other climate researchers into congressional hearings, Texas congressman Joe Barton ordered the scientists to submit voluminous details of working procedures, computer programs and past funding—essentially demanding that they reproduce and defend their entire life’s work.

In a move that hearkened back to darker times, Oklahoma senator James Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, released a report in 2010 that named 17 prominent climate scientists, including Mann, who, he argued, may have engaged in “potentially criminal behavior.” Inhofe outlined three laws and four regulations that he said the scientists may have violated, including the Federal False Statements Act—which, the report noted, could be punishable with imprisonment of up to five years.

In the late 1990s, Mann developed a graph that demonstrated a recent and dramatic uptick in global mean surface temperatures. The hockey-stick-shaped curve has become emblematic to both sides of the climate debate. To the vast majority of climate scientists, it represents evidence, corroborated by decades of peer-reviewed research, of global warming. To climate-change skeptics, the hockey stick is the most grievous of many illusions fabricated by thousands of conspiring scientists to support an iniquitous political agenda.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) included Mann’s graph in its Third Assessment Report in 2001. Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim then included it in their 2006 climate-change documentary An Inconvenient Truth. The film galvanized both the pro- and contra-climate-science camps, propelling the issue of human-caused global warming into the culture wars—and Mann along with it. “Since then, my life has been crazy,” he says. “People have stolen my e-mails and bought billboards and newspaper ads to denounce me; they’ve staged bogus grassroots protests; they’ve threatened my family. I’ve been through eight investigations by everyone from the National Science Foundation to the British House of Commons. Every time, they find no evidence of fraud or misuse of information. Every time, they conclude that my methods are sound, my data replicable. And every time I’m exonerated, another investigation pops up.”

Mann has been called a “compulsive liar, a con man and an extraordinary psychological case.” Some critics accuse him of masterminding a cabal of scientists that aims to establish a new world order. Still others compare him to Hitler, Stalin and Satan.

At the time of our meeting, Mann was juggling several FOIA requests and two lawsuits—one of which would be resolved the following week, when the Virginia Supreme Court rejected the state attorney general’s demand that the University of Virginia (Mann’s former employer) turn over the researcher’s e-mails and other documents. The university spent nearly $600,000 to argue that releasing personal correspondence would chill academic research. “Yes, there’s been a toll on me and my family,” Mann says. “But it’s bigger than that. Look what it’s doing to science, when others see this and see what happens if they speak up about their research. These efforts to discredit science are well-organized. It’s not just a bunch of crazy people.”


Two thirds wrong but still 100% right?

Some typically Warmist reasoning below when they discover that their estimates of rainforest emissions have been vastly over-representated in their "models"

The carbon emissions from cutting down tropical forests may be about one third of the level previously estimated, according to an article in the journal Science.

A team of nine scientists used satellite-imagery data to better measure the effects of global deforestation between 2000 and 2005, said Nancy Harris, lead author of the article. Brazil and Indonesia produced 55 percent of the total emissions, according to the article published today.

“Deforestation is still a very large and significant problem,” Harris, a carbon and land-use specialist at Little Rock, Arkansas-based environmental group Winrock International, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “Just because our numbers are lower does not necessarily mean that deforestation is not as bad.”

Cutting down tropical forests accounted for 10 percent of man-made carbon emissions, according to the results tabulated by the team, which included research from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Policy makers, farmers, forestry experts and scientists all will need to work together to reduce worldwide carbon emissions “and the forest plays a critical role in that,” Harris said.

“Regardless of what scale these policy strategies happen at -- project scale, national scale, state levels -- we now have the ability to monitor what happens, so we can evaluate whether policies are actually making a difference,” Harris said.


Top British firms 'must file a greenhouse audit': Latest plan by Liberal zealot Clegg for more red tape

He will have a battle getting it enacted -- only in watered-down form if at all. Making it "voluntary" would be a good wheeze!

A thousand of Britain’s biggest firms will be forced to report all their greenhouse gas emissions under a scheme to ‘benefit the planet’ announced by Nick Clegg yesterday.

All FTSE-listed companies such as BP, Aviva and Tesco will have to comply with the regulations, which will cover their entire UK operations from next April.

It could be extended to all large businesses in Britain within four years as a way to calculate green taxes already imposed on firms.

While some companies are prepared for the move, business analysts expressed concerns about the short timescale and urged the Government to scrap some existing environmental red tape.

There are fears that the requirement could become a burden if imposed on smaller and medium sized firms. At present, the move will apply to 1,049 listed UK-based companies, which will have to report every ton of greenhouse gas they emit and will be placed in a league table for their green performance.

Some large companies, such as Marks & Spencer, already calculate their emissions voluntarily but others are said to be unprepared to meet the regulations.

The Deputy Prime Minister announced the scheme – the most stringent in the world – shortly after jetting in to Rio+20, the UN environment summit which began in the Brazilian capital yesterday.

Mr Clegg said that emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane are leading to dangerous global warming, sea level rises, droughts and floods and said the regulations would help businesses save money on energy bills. He added: ‘Counting your business costs while hiding your greenhouse gas emissions is a false economy.

‘British companies need to reduce their harmful emissions for the benefit of the planet, but many back our plans because being energy efficient makes good business sense too. Climate change is one of the gravest threats we face. The UK is leading the urgent action needed at home and abroad.’

The move was backed by the Confederation of British Industry as a way to standardise the way emissions are calculated.

But the CBI called for other green regulations under the Carbon Reduction Commitment to be scrapped as they do little to improve efficiency and damage business competitiveness. Alan McGill, an independent analyst with PwC, said: ‘As a company, measuring carbon means setting targets, reducing cost, increasing margins. For large companies this won’t be seen as a huge burden.

‘There may be fears that extending it to extending it beyond large listed companies, into small or medium sized enterprises could be too much of a burden.’

Mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases every year is seen as a victory for the Liberal Democrats amid claims the Treasury was against the plans.

Manufacturers’ association EEF said the current climate change legislation should have been reviewed first to reduce red tape for businesses.

Nick Clegg is leading a 50-strong UK team at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – the largest in UN history with around 50,000 people attending.


Gross misrepresentation of Russian tree-ring record by Briffa

Climategate, the 2009 exposure of misconduct at the University of East Anglia, was a terrible blow to the reputation of climatology, and indeed to that of British and American science. Although that story hasn’t been in the news in recent months, new evidence of similar scientific wrongdoing continues to emerge, with a new scandal hitting the climate blogosphere just a few days ago.

And central to the newest story is one of the Climategate scientists: Keith Briffa, an expert in reconstructing historical temperature records from tree rings. More particularly, the recent scandal involves a tree-ring record Briffa prepared for a remote area of northern Russia called Yamal.

For many years, scientists have used tree-ring data to try to measure temperatures from the distant past, but the idea is problematic in and of itself. Why? Because tree-ring data reflect many variables besides temperature. Russian tree growth, like that of trees around the world, also reflects changes in humidity, precipitation, soil nutrients, competition for resources from other trees and plants, animal behavior, erosion, cloudiness, and on and on. But let’s pretend, if only for the sake of argument, that we can reliably determine the mean temperature 1,000 years ago or more using tree cores from a remote part of Russia. The central issue that emerges is: How do you choose the trees?

It was the way Briffa picked the trees to include in his analysis that piqued the interest of Steve McIntyre, a maverick amateur climatologist from Canada. The Climategate e-mails make it clear that McIntyre earned the public scorn of the most powerful U.N. climatologists, including James Hansen, Michael Mann, and Phil Jones, while simultaneously earning their fear and respect in private.

McIntyre noticed a few problems with the way Briffa chose the sampling of Russian trees, and he wrote to Briffa requesting the data Briffa used in a published tree-ring paper. Briffa declined. And so began a four-year saga involving multiple peer-reviewed journals, behind-the-scenes maneuvering by Briffa and his closest confidants, and a Freedom of Information Act request on the part of McIntyre that appears to be on the verge of being granted. Even without the final set of data, however, McIntyre has shown beyond the shadow of doubt that Briffa may have committed one of the worst sins, if not the worst, in climatology — that of cherry-picking data — when he assembled his data sample, which his clique of like-minded and very powerful peers have also used in paper after paper.

It was already known that the Yamal series contained a preposterously small amount of data. This by itself raised many questions: Why did Briffa include only half the number of cores covering the balmy interval known as the Medieval Warm Period that another scientist, one with whom he was acquainted, had reported for Yamal? And why were there so few cores in Briffa’s 20th century? By 1988, there were only twelve cores used in a year, an amazingly small number from the period that should have provided the easiest data. By 1990, the count was only ten, and it dropped to just five in 1995. Without an explanation of how the strange sampling of the available data had been performed, the suspicion of cherry-picking became overwhelming, particularly since the sharp 20th-century uptick in the series was almost entirely due to a single tree.

The intrigue deepened when one of the Climategate e-mails revealed that, as far back as 2006, Briffa had prepared a much more broadly based, and therefore more reliable, tree-ring record of the Yamal area. But strangely, he had decided to set this aside in favor of the much narrower record he eventually used.

The question of Yamal had rightly come up when Briffa was questioned by Climategate investigators. He told them that he had never considered including a wider sample than the one he went with in the end, and hadn’t had enough time to include a wider one. However, the specific issue of the suppressed record appears to have largely been passed over by the panel, and Briffa’s explanation, like so many others given to the Climategate inquiries, appears to have been accepted without question.

But the ruse has now been shot to pieces, by the recent decision from the U.K.’s information commissioner that Briffa can no longer withhold the list of sites he used in his suppressed regional record for the Yamal area. The disclosure of these sites has allowed McIntyre to calculate what the broad series would have looked like if Briffa had chosen to publish it. He has shown that it has no hint of the hockey-stick shape that Briffa’s cherry-picked data indicated. Briffa’s decision to publish an alarming but unreliable version of the Yamal series — instead of a more reliable and thoroughly unremarkable one — has been the talk of the climate blogosphere, with many prominent commentators openly speaking of dishonesty.

Two and a half years after the initial revelation of the Climategate e-mails, new controversies, on the part of the scientists and the investigators involved, continue to emerge. Many of the players involved are desperate to sweep the scandal under the rug. However, their machinations have only succeeded in bringing renewed attention to their questionable science and ugly behind-the-scenes shenanigans, reigniting hope that more complete and more independent investigations — on both sides of the Atlantic — will yet be performed.


Winds of change among British Conservatives

A government re-think on costly green energy resources is a winning statement of intent

There was a palpable surge in Conservative fortunes when David Cameron said “No” to the euro rescue treaty. The public noticed this simple act of defiance. It shone amid the drab worthiness of most government action. Party members in particular delighted in their leader’s sudden outbreak of decisiveness. That “No” sent a positive charge through British politics. It galvanised the troops, put a spring in their step. If only for a moment, Tory hearts beat stronger and dreamed of what might yet be possible.

The good mood didn’t last long. The omnishambles, the Budget U-turns, the sapping effect of Leveson, and most of all the ever-worsening economic crisis wiped out the gains. Mr Cameron is struggling again. Conservatives yearn for red meat policies to please the voters. They want a political Plan B for a Tory majority in 2015 to replace the one based on the assumption of economic recovery and tax cuts that blew up in George Osborne’s hands last year. MPs wondering how to achieve a victory in today’s darkened circumstances want compelling measures that can be described in a few crisp words on the doorstep.

The Chancellor will shortly give them just that. In a few weeks, as part of the Energy Bill, ministers will announce a reduction of up to a quarter in the value of Renewable Obligation Certificates – or “Rocs”. Yes, I realise that’s hardly a sentence to set the pulse racing. But if one considers that Rocs are the means by which the taxpayer subsidises the wind farm industry, and that the Chancellor proposes to slash that giveaway by 25 per cent, then translated into plain English it means this: onshore wind farms will be killed stone dead.

A simple tweak of the financial incentives will halt the march of the turbines across the British landscape. An issue that has poisoned the relationship between millions of affected voters and the politicians who represent them will be resolved. Conservatives will be able to say: “We did that. We stopped the wind farm madness.” No wonder some optimists on the backbenches speak of a defining moment that will give them something to cheer – and be cheered for.

Of course, nothing can ever be quite as simple. Cabinet negotiations are not complete. The politics of so-called green energy remain painfully complex. The legacy of the last government’s enthusiasm for piling burdens on the taxpayer has not been eliminated. In all probability, the industry is not going to give up easily. There are already 3,000 turbines spinning (or, too often, not) across the landscape, with a further 4,500 planned. It may well be that some will sprout where they already have permission, and if the promoters are prepared to press on without a guaranteed income far higher than the market price of the electricity they produce. And while campaigners hope that those new turbines will now be stayed, there is uncertainty about the fate of those already in existence. Will their operators want to keep them if – as a leaked memo from Oliver Letwin, one of the Government’s greenest Tories, indicated this week – the subsidy is not only cut by a quarter straightaway, but eliminated altogether by 2020?

The Government’s about-face on wind farms is the result of greater forces that may change the dynamic of the second half of this Parliament. The first is Mr Osborne’s political decision to shift the Government off its initial enthusiasm for environmental largesse, which he signalled in his speech to Tory conference in October when he declared that Britain was no longer willing to go faster than other EU states in reducing emissions. His intervention made clear that Mr Cameron’s husky-hugging love of all things green has been set aside in the face of the economic storm. He is also acutely aware of the bottom line: voters who have endured steep climbs in the cost of living have had enough of seeing their energy bills rise. The Government is now anxiously searching for ways to mitigate the anger of voters who don’t see why they should pay more for politically fashionable green energies.

Mr Osborne’s new-found scepticism in turn gave his backbenchers permission to step up their efforts against wind farms. Earlier this year, a letter to Mr Cameron drafted by the MP for Daventry, Chris Heaton-Harris, and signed by more than 100 Tory MPs put Downing Street on notice that it faced a major rebellion if it failed to address the issue. Cabinet ministers in recent days have fallen over themselves to assure Mr Heaton-Harris that he has won. His well-marshalled campaign has demonstrated the power of the backbenches and in particular the 2010 intake. He has not only improved his prospects of a ministerial job, but he has also demonstrated that in this Government, power lies increasingly with backbenchers. The challenge for both Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne is to sell this as a moment of leadership. Having surrendered on pasties, charities, static caravans, now wind farms and next Lords reform, they cannot afford to be seen to be meekly following their MPs.

It reflects another force at play, too, which may well transform not just our physical landscapes by making wind farms obsolete, but our economic prospects as well. We saw it in yesterday’s fall in inflation: the price of energy is plummeting. With little fanfare, the discovery of vast reserves of accessible shale gas in the United States and elsewhere is rapidly changing the economics of this sector. Contrary to most predictions of barely five years ago, the US may turn out to be self-sufficient in energy. As a result, it is increasingly likely that the developed world’s reliance on Middle East oil is about to end, with untold consequences for the West’s involvement in the region.

It should also transform our economic competitiveness, as effectively unlimited quantities of relatively clean, cheap gas come on to the market, but only if we embrace a politics of cheap energy, too. Suddenly, all those trendy renewable energies whose success was predicated on an assumption that gas prices would rise inexorably, making them relatively affordable, are left looking like unjustifiable luxuries. Even James Lovelock, the nonagenarian green guru who invented the Gaia thesis, in a Guardian interview last week turned on wind farms as “ugly and useless”, renewable energy schemes as “largely hopelessly inefficient and unpleasant”, and urged Britain to “go mad” for shale.

It is no wonder Mr Osborne wants to get out of his commitments to more expensive renewable energy when he sees around him evidence that the price of traditional fuels are falling through the floor: a Chancellor whose political fate depends on producing growth would be daft to defend rising bills for both households and companies. Cheap money is being thrown at the financial crisis. Cheap energy might be the bonus that gets us going again.

For the Conservatives, there is a political bonanza to be had from this moment. Dismay about wind farms has been particularly acute among the party’s grassroots. It is no surprise that Ukip is making the most of its opposition to turbines. Switching off subsidies for wind farms puts clear blue water between the Tories and the Lib Dems. And if played right, it could put Mr Cameron on the side of a global energy revolution that promises to keep the lights on, lower the cost to voters, and energise his electoral prospects when he most needs it.


British windmills sinking into the sea

They are expensive to maintain at the best of times -- which is why California is littered with abandoned ones

Hundreds of Britain's offshore wind turbines could be sinking into the sea because of a design flaw.

It is believed the concrete used to fix some turbines to their steel foundation can wear away, causing the power generators to drop a few inches.

The fault was first discovered at the Egmond aan Zee wind farm in the Netherlands and affects those with single cylinder foundations.
burbo bank

An Antony Gormley figure and a Tall Ship flank the Burbo Bank windfarm. Dong Energy said it was one of the farms affected by a fault that caused turbines to sink

Energy company engineers are now urgently investigating what extent the turbines have been destabilised. If repairs are necessary then turbines will be shut down one at a time to prevent energy losses.

Experts from Renewables UK, which represents wind farm developers, said it could cost £50million to fix Britain's 336 turbines thought to be at risk.

Peter Madigan from Renewables UK, told The Times: 'A fault has been identified and has been shared with the industry, which has moved to see if there is a larger problem.'

Dong Energy said three of its wind farms were affected, including Gunfleet Sands off the Essex coast and Burbo Bank in Liverpool Bay.

However Centrica, which owns British Gas and Dong Energy, said there were no safety or operational issues.

Offshore farms produce more reliable power because the wind is less intermittent, and they allow firms to avoid getting entangled in the UK's labyrinthine planning regulations.

But they are notoriously expensive, and large firms including BP and Royal Dutch Shell have pulled out of the sector.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


21 June, 2012

World leaders' Rio accord is epic failure, says Greenpeace

NEGOTIATORS in Rio de Janeiro have claimed success after finalising a statement to be issued by more than 100 world leaders who arrive in the Brazilian city over the next few days.

But many observers said the "success" at the United Nations conference was possible only after the agreement was watered down so far it became meaningless.

"Rio has turned into an epic failure. It has failed on equity, failed on ecology and failed on economy," the executive director of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo, said.

The World Wildlife Fund executive director, Jim Leape, said the document was a "colossal failure of leadership and vision". And the Oxfam spokesman Stephen Hale said the world leaders should "start again".

But the Brazilian External Affairs Minister, Antonio Patriota, said the result was "very satisfying … because it is a result. As of yesterday we were facing considerable difficulties to have a text at all". And the US chief negotiator, Todd Stern, said the agreement was a "good strong step forward".

Brazilian negotiators conceded that the European Union, often a leading force at such negotiations, had taken a far weaker role due to its unfolding financial crisis. The European Commissioner for Climate Change, Connie Hedegaard, said after the deal was struck "nobody in that room was happy, that's how weak it was".

After running late into Monday night, the 49-page agreement was finally clinched on Tuesday, ready for agreement by the leaders. It states the world should negotiate new "sustainable development goals" by 2015, but could not agree even what themes they should cover. It states the world should "take urgent action on unsustainable production and consumption" but says nothing about how that should be achieved.

And the meeting failed to meet the hopes of environmental campaigners, and the Australian government, that it would at least launch a negotiation for new rules to protect the high seas, outside the boundaries of individual nations' 200-kilometre territorial zone.

That proposal was blocked by Canada, Japan, Russia and Venezuela. Mr Stern denied the US had contributed to its failure. The "high seas alliance" of 25 environmental groups that lobby on the issue said the result was "profoundly disappointing".

And a proposal to improve UN environmental decision making was also dramatically watered down. Instead of the prospect of a new UN environmental decision-making body, the agreement defers to the general assembly to decide whether the existing structures need an "upgrade".

Mr Naidoo said Greenpeace would have to give up on international negotiations and move to a campaign of civil disobedience to try to overcome the state parochialism that was stopping any progress in multilateral talks to address environmental problems.


U.N. sees fossil fuel as a key to forests, helping poor

Natural gas, including non-traditional shale gas, should play a major role in cutting greenhouse gases, protecting forests and improving the health and living standards of the world's poor, the co-head of a U.N. sustainable energy program said on Monday.

Without it, the U.N.'s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative will have difficulty meeting goals of ensuring universal energy access, doubling the world's share of renewable energy and doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030, Kandeh Yumkella, co-head of the initiative, told Reuters.

"You can't save the forest if you don't have gas," Yumkella, a native of Sierra Leone, said in an interview on the sidelines of a global development meeting in Rio de Janeiro.

"It's one of the solutions we need to reduce deforestation and reduce the two million people who die every year because of indoor air pollution because they use firewood."

Yumkella, who is also the head of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization, understands his support for natural gas is controversial, but finding the estimated $43 billion a year needed to provide electricity by 2030 to 1.3 billion people, half the number without it today, will be near impossible.

Many attending the U.N. conference, known as the Rio+20 as it comes two decades after a landmark Earth Summit in the city, see the inclusion of natural gas in the initiative as problematic.

Natural gas is a non-renewable hydrocarbon the burning of which creates carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas believed to cause global warming.

"Yumkella is a great man, but his panel is dominated by people who speak for big power industries," Pasco Sabido, climate adviser to environmental group Friends of the Earth Europe, said in an interview.

Yumkella's panel, picked by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, is co-chaired by Chad Holliday, chairman of Bank of America, Chen Yuan, chairman of the China Development Bank, and Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive of Renault-Nissan <7201.

Sabido believes Yumkella's goal to generate more energy and electricity where poor people live, using solar power and fuels made from human and animal waste and other biomass, will be sidetracked. This will hurt the poor, he said.

"Gas may be good as a stop-gap measure," said Carlos Rittl of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). "But it's not a long-term solution. We need to really move away from old energy sources."

Yumkella, who has consulted governments, industries and non-government groups such as the WWF, says it is hard to push any solution for climate change.


Mistrust has grown around environmental issues after many countries failed to meet promises made after the 1992 Earth Summit and in the Kyoto Climate Change Protocols, he said.

Rich countries have worried that changes in energy policies will make them poor while poor countries worry that the policies will prevent them from rising out of poverty.

"Any global energy initiative that doesn't put people first is bound to fail in addressing energy poverty," said Lidy Nacpil, a coordinator for the Jubilee South Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development.

"Instead of looking at community owned and managed energy, it pushes more privatization."

Yumkella feels the criticism comes with the subject. "At least we've finally managed to get energy on the agenda," he said. "Before this any talk at the U.N. of energy got sidetracked into the geopolitics of oil and gas."

Oil and gas development is essential, he said, especially as concern about energy security has led to discoveries of new resources in places such as his home, Sierra Leone, and other African nations, the region with the lowest access to electricity and clean energy.

"Think about the world 40 years from now," he said. "Is Africa going to ship their resources to the developed world for the rich guys to have their SUVs and air conditioning and all these other folks remain poor? That's a recipe for insecurity."

At the same time he praises the development of shale gas in the United States, an abundant resource that has helped the world's biggest polluter slash carbon emissions - replacing coal with cleaner gas - and making energy cheaper.

"We welcome new sources of energy, in fact you have to give the Americans credit," Yumkella said. "Fifteen years ago they decided to invest in new technology."

"Shale gas is doable if the research and development is done and it is less polluting than other forms ... At the same time we need to safeguard, we need to make sure the technologies don't do collateral damage."

Friends of the Earth's Sabido called such a position dangerous because shale gas exploitation threatens fresh water supplies and disrupts remote communities.

As for existing oil and gas technologies, much needs to be done to prevent waste and pollution. Some measures could help give the poorest energy, he said.

Part of the initiative calls for drastically reducing the amount of gas that is burned off, or "flamed", and wasted for lack of a market or pipelines

"The among of gas flamed in Africa can support 50 percent of Africa's electricity needs, the worst in Nigeria," he said.


Women march in Rio to protest 'green economy'

Thousands of women representing social and farm movements marched in central Rio Monday to rail against the "green economy" advocated by the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development.

Behind a large banner from the international peasant movement Via Campesina proclaiming "the peoples are against the mercantilization of nature", they marched several miles to the Flamengo park, the venue for the "People's Summit" organized by civil society groups on the sidelines of the Rio+20 event.

Several hundred men closed off the march to show their solidarity.

Perched atop a truck fitted with loudspeakers, a female activist howled: "This is a march of urban and rural women against this Rio+20 charade." "No to green capitalism! Yes to an economy based on solidarity, yes to people's sovereignty," she added.

People's Summit militants view the "green economy" concept touted by organizers of the official Rio+20 gathering as just "another stage of capitalist accumulation" after the failure of the current model.

"We are out on the streets to give visibility to our world struggle for an end to violence against women, for peace and demilitarization, access to common goods and economic empowerment for women," said 36-year-old Celia Alldridge, a member of the march secretariat who described herself as "half English, half Swiss".

The marchers comprised women of all walks of life, students, rural and indigenous people, some carrying placards reading "women are not meant to be slapped on the face or the buttocks."

Luise Sanuto, an ethnic Tabajara from northeast Brazil, said she faced even greater discrimination as an indigenous person." "Indigenous peoples are discriminated against and have been shown disrespect since the arrival of the (Portuguese) colonizers" in 1500.


Greenies are the Greatest Threat to Biodiversity

The UN Conference on Sustainable Development is underway in Rio de Janeiro. This time, 20 years after the original 1992 Rio “Earth Summit,” thousands of politicians, bureaucrats and environmental activists are toning down references to “dangerous man-made climate change,” to avoid repeating the acrimony and failures that characterized its recent climate conferences in Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban.

Instead, the “Rio+20” cabal is trying to shift attention to “biodiversity” and alleged threats to plant and animal species, as the new “greatest threat” facing Planet Earth. This rebranding is “by design,” according to conference organizers, who say sustainable development and biodiversity is an “easier sell” these days than climate change: a simpler path to advance the same radical goals.

Those goals include expanded powers and budgets for the United Nations, UN Environment Programme, US Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies, and their allied Green pressure groups; new taxes on international financial transactions (to ensure perpetual independent funding for the UN and UNEP); and more mandates and money for “clean, green, renewable” energy.

Their wish list also includes myriad opportunities to delay, prevent and control energy and economic development, hydrocarbon use, logging, farming, family size, and the right of individual countries, states, communities and families to make and regulate their own development and economic decisions.

Aside from not giving increased power to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats and activists, there are two major reasons for stopping this attempted biodiversity-based power grab.

1) There is no scientific basis for claims that hundreds or thousands of species are at risk

Up to half of all species could go extinct by 2100, asserts astronomer and global warming alarmist James Hansen, because of climate change, “unsustainable” hydrocarbon use, human population growth and economic development. At Rio+20 and elsewhere activists are trumpeting these hysterical claims in reports, speeches and press releases.

Fortunately, there is no factual basis for them. Of 191 bird and mammal species recorded as having gone extinct since 1500, 95% were on islands, where humans and human-introduced predators and diseases wrought the destruction, notes ecology researcher Dr. Craig Loehle. On continents, only six birds and three mammals were driven to extinction, and no bird or mammal species in recorded history is known to have gone extinct due to climate change.

The massive species losses claimed by Hansen, Greenpeace, WWF and others are based on extrapolations from the island extinction rates. Some are just wild guesses or rank fear-mongering, with nothing remotely approximating scientific analysis. Other extrapolations are based on unfounded presumptions about species susceptibility to long or short term climate shifts – fed into clumsy, simplistic, non-validated virtual reality computer models that assume rising carbon dioxide levels will raise planetary temperatures so high that plants, habitats, and thus birds, reptiles and animals will somehow be exterminated. There is no evidence to support any of these extinction scenarios.

Indeed, there is no empirical evidence to support claims that average global temperatures have risen since 1998, or that we face any of the manmade global warming or climate change cataclysms proclaimed by Hansen, Gore and others.

2) The greatest threats to species are the very policies and programs being advocated in Rio.

Those policies would ban fossil fuels, greatly increase renewable energy use, reduce jobs and living standards in rich nations, and perpetuate poverty, disease, death and desperation in poor countries.

Today, over 1.5 billion people still do not have electricity, or have it only a few hours each day or week. Almost 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day. Millions die every year from diseases that would be largely eradicated by access to reliable, affordable electricity for cooking and refrigeration, clinics and hospitals, clean water, sanitation, and businesses and industries that generate jobs, prosperity and health.

Opposition to large-scale electricity generation forces people to rely on open fires for cooking and heating – perpetuating lung diseases and premature death, from breathing smoke and pollutants. It also destroys gorilla and other wildlife habitats, as people cut trees and brush for firewood and charcoal.

Wind turbines slice up birds and collapse bat lungs, exacting an unsustainable toll on eagles, hawks, falcons, and other rare, threatened and endangered flying creatures.

Turbine and solar arrays cover and disrupt millions of acres of farmland and wildlife habitat, to provide expensive, intermittent power for urban areas. They require backup generators and long transmission lines, and consume millions of tons of concrete, steel, copper, fiberglass, polymers and rare earth minerals – extracted from the Earth, often in countries whose pollution control regulations and technologies are substantially below US, Canadian, European and Australian standards.

Corn-based ethanol requires tens of millions of acres, billions of gallons of water, millions of tons of fertilizer and insecticides, and enormous quantities of hydrocarbon fuels.

And yet, President Obama told Ghanaians in 2010 that poor, electricity-deprived, malnourished Africans should rely on biofuel, wind and solar power – and not build even gas-fired power plants.

Hunting, subsistence living and poverty are among the greatest risks to species. Denying poor families access to reliable, affordable electricity is a crime against humanity.

The Rio+20 biodiversity and sustainability agenda means artificially reduced energy and economic development. It means rationed resources, sustained poverty and disease, and unsustainable inequality, resentment, conflict, and pressure on wildlife and their habitats.

Simply put, 99% of humans and wild kingdom species are being ill served by the 0.1% UN and environmentalist elites gathered in Brazil, and purporting to speak for mankind and planet.

Our Creator has endowed us with a world rich in resources, and even richer in intelligent, hard-working, creative people who yearn to improve their lives and be better stewards of our lands, resources and wildlife. The primary obstacles to achieving these dreams are the false ideologies, anti-development agendas and suffocating regulations such as those being promoted at the Rio+20 Summit.

If we can eliminate those obstacles, the world will enjoy a rebirth of freedom and opportunity, voluntarily stable populations, and vastly improved health, welfare and justice for billions. We will also bring far greater security to Earth’s wondrous multitudes of wild and scenic areas, and plant and animal species. That would be an enormous gain for our planet and people.


How Obama Bureaucrats Fueled Western Wildfires

The smell of singed air here is inescapable. Less than 50 miles west of my neighborhood, the latest wildfire has spread across 1,100 acres. It's the fifth active blaze to erupt in our state over the past month. But ashes aren't the only things smoldering.

The Obama administration's neglect of the federal government's aerial tanker fleet raises acrid questions about its core public safety priorities. Bipartisan complaints goaded the White House into signing a Band-Aid fix last week. But it smacks more of election-year gesture politics: Too little, too late, too fake.

Ten years ago, the feds had a fleet of 44 firefighting planes. Today, the number is down to nine for the entire country. Last summer, Obama's National Forest Service canceled a key federal contract with Sacramento-based Aero Union just as last season's wildfires were raging. Aero Union had supplied eight vital air tankers to Washington's dwindling aerial firefighting fleet. Two weeks later, the company closed down, and 60 employees lost their jobs. Aero Union had been a leader in the business for a half-century.

Why were they grounded? National Forest Service bureaucrats and some media accounts cite "safety" concerns. But as California GOP Rep. Dan Lungren noted in a letter obtained by reporter Audrey Hudson of the conservative D.C. newspaper Human Events last year, a Federal Aviation Administration representative said it was a contractual/compliance matter, not safety, that doomed Aero Union's fleet.

"I am deeply troubled by the Forest Service's sudden action," Lungren warned, "particularly as California enters into the fire season. Our aerial firefighting fleet is already seriously undercapitalized." Both the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the Department of Agriculture's Inspector General have been critical of the Forest Service's handling of the matter. All of this has been known to the Obama administration since it took the reins in 2009.

Nine months after Lungren's warning, the deadly High Park fire in Larimer County, Colo., claimed a grandmother's life, destroyed 189 homes and scorched nearly 60,000 acres. Arizona, New Mexico, Washington and Wyoming also have battled infernos this summer.

After months of dire red flags from a diverse group of politicians ranging from Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry and Arizona GOP Sen. Jon Kyl to Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and New Mexico Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman, President Obama finally signed emergency legislation last week to expedite the contracting process. Obama will borrow planes from Canada and provide $24 million for new aerial tanker contracts.

But the money won't come until next year, and the dog-and-pony rescue moves will not result in any immediate relief. "It's nice, but this problem isn't fixed with a stroke of the pen," former Forest Service official and bomber pilot Tony Kern told the Denver Post this week. "You need to have the airplanes available now." Veteran wildland firefighter and blogger Bill Gabbert of adds: "The USFS should have awarded contracts for at least 20 additional air tankers, not 7."

Imagine if Obama's Forest Service had been a private company. White House eco-radicals would be rushing to place their "boots on the necks" of the bureaucrats who made the fateful decision to put an experienced aerial tanker firm out of business as wildfires raged and the available rescue fleet shrunk.

"The Obama administration is scrambling now to help ensure the Forest Service has the air assets it needs to fight the ongoing inferno," Colorado free-market environmental watchdog Sean Paige reported at last week. "But the crisis is bound to raise questions not just about whether the cancelled contract created additional weaknesses and vulnerabilities, but about what the administration has been doing over the past three summers to shore-up the service's air fleet."

Where there's smoke swirling over Team Obama there are usually flames of incompetence, cronyism and ideological zealotry at the source. The ultimate rescue mission? Evacuating Obama's wrecking crew from the White House permanently. November can't come soon enough.


Germany shows the way not to go

And that is sinkling even into traditionally "Green" German skulls

While Ivy league pundits sit comfortably in their intellectually sanitized world of academia and discuss the possible virtues and boldness of Germany’s fast-track energy transition to renewable energy (80% less CO2 by 2050), Germany’s media, business and political leaders are now sounding the alarms for disaster.

This week’s cover story of Germany’s print news magazine FOCUS carries the title: Energy End. If you can read German, by all means pick up a copy.

One year ago Germany, in a fit of hysteria, ordered 8 nuclear power plants closed immediately and the remaining 9 closed by the year 2022. By 2050 it’s energy supply must be at least 80% supplied by renewable sources – costs be damned.

This has come to be knows as the German Energiewende or “energy transition”, roughly translated. And so the mad rush to renewable energy was on in earnest. Today, just a single year later, the high costs and insurmountable technical problems (we warned them) have spooked leaders and sparked a wave of uneasiness to sweep over the country. Even the once green media are waking up and sounding the alarms.

For example FOCUS reports in its story that companies will start refusing to pay the exorbitant feed-in tariffs to power companies in a bid to force the issue all the way up to Germany’s Constitutional Supreme Court in Karlsruhe. One business manager said: "Energy costs will be the big issue of [next year's] federal elections.”

FOCUS writes that one year after the ordered shutdown of nuclear power, the readiness of Germans to accept switching over the renewable energy has collapsed.

A FOCUS survey found that 41% of Germans flat out reject paying one cent more for renewables. In East Germany, that number jumps to 52%. Only a small minority of less than 10% could imagine paying $25 a month more.

German leaders are spooked by the spiralling out-of-control costs and government seizure now spreading though the energy sector. Even leaders within the CDU, Merkel’s ruling ”conservative” party, once a staunch proponent of renewable energies, are now speaking up – and loudly! For example FOCUS quotes:

Josef Schlarmann, Chairman of the Mid-Size Companies Association, CDU party: "The discussion about the energy transition has started, and no one can stop it now.”

Michael Fuchs, Vice Chairman parliamentary party, CDU economics politician: "In the energy sector we are moving slowly but surely to a completely centrally planned economy. We have to be damn careful.”

Arnold Vaatz, Vice Chairman of the CDU parliamentary party: "The renewable energy transition is going to cost us an incalculable sum of money, and in the end cost us our competitiveness.”

Hildegard Müller, Director of the Federal Association of Energy and Water Management: "A system of increasing goverment intervention is not economically sensible and is not affordable for consumers.”

Gerd Billen, Director of Federal Association For Consumer Agencies: "The citizens just don’t have an overview of what this trip is going to cost and where it is taking them.”

FOCUS reminds its readers that the big price driver is not “greedy” power companies, but government taxes and surcharges, which make up a whopping 45% of the price of electricity. In 1998 the 80 million or so Germans paid about €2.3 billion for various surcharges, taxes etc. on electricity. Today that figure is more than 1000% higher: €23.7 billion!

Not only the costs have become major obstacles, but also the technical feasibility of renewable energies is missing, especially wind and solar, which lack the infrastructure elements for taking the power to the markets that need them. These elements include power transmission lines, back-up energy systems for when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, and power storage systems. Costs costs costs.

Schlarmann says: “What we have are highway bridges without highways.”

FOCUS then warns that Germany’s once super stable power grid, once a model of stability and reliability, is now on the brink of collapse. Even SPD (socialist party) honcho and Al-Gore-worshipper Sigmar Gabriel recently said Germany’s handling of its power system was as precarious as “operating on an open heart”. He added, “900 interventions to prop up the power grid in what was a relatively mild winter makes me nervous.”

It most certainly should. If next winter turns out to be a harsh one and the power fails and leaves citizens out in the cold, then there are going to be lots of angry people. Germany’s social powder is tinder dry.

FOCUS ends its cover story by quoting a citizen, Gisela Deckert: “I’m all in favor of renewable energy, but not like this.”

The voice of just one of millions of suckers who had bought into the false paradise promised by greens.

There was time in Germany when the idiot political leaders were more or less separated from the non-idiot leaders: in the days of East and West Germany. Since then guess who has taken over? {Angela Merkel is from the East]



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


20 June, 2012

This meaningless green drivel, by environment guru: Scientist's U-turn on doomsday claim

He was once a guru to environmentalists, claiming climate change would kill billions of humans by the end of this century. But it seems James Lovelock has had a change of heart.

On the eve of a major environmental summit, he has attacked the modern green movement – declaring its theories 'meaningless drivel'.

Almost half a century after he revealed his Gaia theory, which inspired a generation of activists, the former Nasa scientist said he believed that rising sea levels were not a problem and that wind turbines were 'useless'.

The 92-year-old described the modern green movement as a 'religion', which used guilt to gain support.

Speaking about climate change, he said: 'I'm not worried about sea-level rises.' He added: 'At worst, I think it will be 2ft a century.'

Slamming environmentalists, he said: 'It just so happens that the green religion is now taking over from the Christian religion. 'I don't think people have noticed that, but it's got all the sort of terms that religions use. The greens use guilt. You can't win people round by saying they are guilty for putting CO2 in the air.'

Mr Lovelock said he was a firm supporter of nuclear power and even voiced his support for fracking – the controversial process of extracting gas from rock deep underground, opposed by the green movement. He said: 'Gas is almost a giveaway in the US at the moment. They've gone for fracking in a big way. 'Let's be pragmatic and sensible and get Britain to switch everything to methane. We should be going mad on it.'

In an interview, Mr Lovelock described existing theories of 'sustainable development' – a key topic for discussion at the upcoming summit – as 'drivel'.

He suggested that humans should instead use air conditioning to deal with climate change in cities, citing Singapore as an example. He said: 'If we all move into cities, they become the equivalent of a nest. Then another thought comes immediately from that: if that's the way the flow is going, don't stop it, let's encourage it. 'Instead of trying to save the planet by geo-engineering or whatever, you merely have to air-condition the cities.'

Speaking about Singapore he said: 'You could not have chosen a worse climate in which to build a city. It's a swamp with temperatures in the 90s every day, and very humid.

'But it is one of the most successful cities in the world. It's so much cheaper to air-condition the cities and let Gaia take care of the world. It's a much better route to go than so-called “sustainable development”, which is meaningless drivel.

Mr Lovelock, who has conducted research at Yale and Harvard universities, has been a respected member of the academic community for decades. He discovered the presence of harmful chemicals – CFCs – in the atmosphere in the 1960s.

He developed the Gaia theory while working with Nasa. It claims that the Earth has a self-regulating system which has automatically controlled global temperature, atmospheric content, oxygen, ocean salinity, and other factors.

But last month, the scientist admitted that he had been 'alarmist' and 'extrapolated too far' with his doomsday-like predictions on the effects of climate change.

His latest comments came just a week before the Rio+20 summit, a major conference on climate change, to mark the anniversary of the landmark Earth Summit in 1992.


Perhaps We Shouldn't Listen To The Climate "Scientists" About Climate Change

Tim Worstall very foolishly expects Warmists to care about the facts

For it would appear that some climate scientists are remarkably ignorant about what is going on. And this rather worries me: the idea that people who quite literally do not know what they are talking about making government policy is scary.

I present as my example this from Sir David King, until recently the chief scientific advisor to the UK Government. There are various misunderstandings of how economics and finance work in his expressed views but this is particularly horrible:
He also believes it is imperative to fund other major infrastructure projects, such as the Severn Barrage, which would provide three gigawatts of electricity and still run in 200 years with minimum maintenance.

“The problem is that the longest time an economist will work on investment returns is 25 years. We need to look at taking a much longer view. What is missing is clear direction from number 10 and 11.”

The problem with this is that it is entirely nonsense. The report by economists into that Severn Barrage is here. You will see there, at the top of page two, that the costs and benefits are projected out to 120 years: the rough lifespan of the asset if it is ever built.

The reason the economists have downvoted the plan is not because they’re not looked out beyond 25 years: it is because they have. They’ve looked at it and found that all possible variations of the project lose money. All are more expensive than not building it and doing something else instead.

I’m entirely happy to take climatologists’ word for it about climate. Hydrologists’ about water, cloud specialists about clouds and so on but I do object vehemently when the experts on those same subjects decide to try pronouncing on a subject they’re ignorant of, economics. As Sir David clearly has done here.

This is more than just a whine or whinge: there’s an extremely important underlying point here. Whether or not climate change is happening is properly the work of those who understand climate science. However, once the determination has been made it becomes a matter of changing peoples’ behaviour and that’s not something that climate scientists know about. Whereas it is exactly what economists study. Assuming that climate change is happening, that we’re causing it and that something must be done it then becomes and economic problem, to be dealt with using economic methods and methodology.

And it’s rather worrying don’t you think that the man who until recently was the main technical advisor to the government on the subject is entirely ignorant of those matters economic?


Florida mercury scare threatens health; The mercury itself is no problem

Fish contain important nutrients but Floridians are being frightened into not eating any

Regulatory actions being debated in Florida should raise bright red flags for Sunshine State residents, other US states, and even other countries.

On May 24, the Environmental Assessment and Restoration Division of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) issued a seriously flawed draft report, proposing much stricter limits for mercury in Florida's river, stream, lake and coastal waters. The FDEP claims the rules are based on sound science and will improve environmental quality and public health.

However, my studies of mercury (Hg) and its biologically toxic form, methylmercury (MeHg), over the past ten years make it clear that the new limits are not scientifically defensible.

Not only would they raise electricity costs, while bringing no health or environmental benefits. The new standards, along with statements made by the DEP in public forums, would actually harm people's health.

First, the FDEP is wrong in claiming that mercury pollution is a new, manmade phenomenon.

The Department cites a 2008 paper that reported average mercury levels of 0.25 parts per million (ppm) in the hair of Florida Panhandle women of childbearing age (16 to 49). However, a 2002 study of 550-year-old Alaskan mummified bodies found hair mercury levels five to eighteen times higher: an average of 1.2 ppm for four adults and 1.44 ppm for four infants – and 4.6 ppm in one mummy!

Equally troubling, the FDEP draft report cited a 1972 study, but failed to highlight the study's conclusion that mercury levels in the past were at least as high as those in today's tuna. In a related study, Princeton University scientists expecting to find a 9-26% increase in MeHg instead found no increase (and actually a slight decline) in mercury levels in tuna caught between 1971 and 1998. The Princeton researchers concluded that mercury in fish is not related to human emissions, which continue to decline in the USA.

Even more important, the FDEP draft report failed to consider a 17-year-long Seychelles Islands study that found no harm, and no indications of harm, from mercury in children whose mothers ate five to twelve servings of fish per week – far more than most Floridians consume.

In establishing MeHg exposure risks from fish consumption, the researchers concluded that no consistent patterns exist between prenatal MeHg exposures and detailed neurological and behavioral tests. They also concluded that, despite remote but potential MeHg risks, "ocean fish consumption during pregnancy is important for the health and development of children, and the benefits are long lasting."

Moreover, the latest Centers for Disease Control data show blood mercury levels for U.S. women and children are already below EPA's "safe" levels for mercury – and EPA's standards are the most restrictive in the world. In addition, selenium in nearly all fish is strongly attracted to mercury molecules and thus protects both fish and people against buildups of methylmercury.

By scaring women and children into eating less fish, and thus getting fewer Omega 3 fatty acids, FDEP's misleading literature on "dangerous mercury levels" in fish will actually impair their health.

Second, the FDEP failed to note that natural sources dwarf human mercury emissions.

Forest fires in Florida alone emitted an estimated 4,170 pounds of mercury annually between 2002 and 2006. This single source of local mercury emissions is significantly higher than mercury emitted in 2009 from all manmade mercury sources in Florida, including coal-fired power plants (which emit less than 1,500 pounds per year).

The FDEP draft report did note that volcanoes are an important source of global mercury emissions, but failed to explain how enormous this natural source is. In fact, recent studies calculated that volcanoes, subsea vents, geysers and other natural sources emit up to 2 million pounds of mercury per year.

These natural sources explain why it is unsurprising to find high levels of mercury in samples taken years ago in Florida fish, panthers and raccoons – long before coal-fired power plants were on the scene. Mercury has long been part of our environment, in ocean and terrestrial waters, and in Earth's rocks and soils.

Today, mercury from natural sources represents the vast bulk of all the mercury in our atmosphere. Even eliminating 86% of all mercury from Florida's power plants (as the FDEP proposes) would bring trifling environmental and health benefits – while raising electricity rates for the state's families, retirees, schools, hospitals and businesses, costing jobs, and adversely affecting human health and welfare.

Third, the FDEP is wrong when it says mercury "pollution" in Florida's watersheds and fishes is increasing.

Since the 1970s, contaminants in fish have been monitored increasingly each year. More advisories are being issued simply because of increased sampling by state agencies, and "not necessarily due to increased levels or frequency of contamination," as even the U.S. EPA acknowledges.

Finally, FDEP's proposed new mercury limit for Florida's inland and coastal waters is an unjustifiably low 1.25 parts per trillion – which is equivalent to 0.00000125 ppm and 125 seconds in 32 million years!

The Department also assumes Hg levels in water are directly related to Hg levels in fish tissue. In fact, no such relationship exists. Indeed the FDEP draft report admits as much, when it says (page 58), "Using the data collected for the [Florida Mercury Project], no relationship is observed when comparing total mercury in the water column to total mercury in fish tissues."

It's also worth noting that even a bottle of Hunt's tomato ketchup or Jack Daniel's barbecue sauce contains at least 50 times (!) more mercury than what Florida proposes to permit in its waters.

One has to wonder why the FDEP is so intent on setting mercury levels below those that exist in nature – and why it is so reluctant to disclose, explain or discuss publicly available information from the scientific literature, so that all concerned Florida citizens can study it themselves.

Scientific inquiry must be above political pressure and partisan advocacy. Good decisions can arise only if the scientific evidence and knowledge are examined fully, without selective bias.

The FDEP needs to reconsider its mercury rulemaking, and this time base it on actual science. So do other states, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and other countries considering similar actions.


Earth Summit Babble

By Alan Caruba

Why anyone still believes anything the UN Environmental Program and its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has to say is one of those great imponderable questions. To prepare you for the flood of totally idiotic predictions to which you will be treated during the June 20-21 Earth Summit, here are just a few and I strongly advise you to ignore all of them.

A 550-page preparatory UN report, put together by “600 experts”, the Global Environmental Outlook—intended to soften up global suckers—predicts that Earth’s environmental systems are nearly at “their biophysical limits” thus subjecting the Earth to “irreversible and possibly cataclysmic world changes” and “If humanity does not urgently change its ways” it is doomed.

Notably, the Earth Summit will abandon “global warming” and “climate change” as its main theme and instead focus on “sustainability”, the utterly bogus notion that humans are using up all of the Earth’s resources.

The people most famous for really bad predictions these days are environmentalists. Rachel Carson kicked it off fifty years ago with her book, “Silent Spring”, assuring everyone that all the birds would fall dead out of the sky because of pesticide use. These days they are more likely to be chopped to shreds by wind turbines.

Ever since the early days of environmental hysteria just about every awful scenario cooked up in the fevered brains of the Greens has become front page news. There is method to their madness and it comes down to a simple equation: Scaring People Equals Money and Power.

Environmentalism is all about controlling you while picking your pocket. By any other name it is Socialism or its big brother Communism. It depends on lies backed up by a massive propaganda machine, funded by ultra-wealthy foundations, by governments who support Green programs of all sorts, and by the members of an endless succession of environmental organizations.

For example, you may recall that global warming, a massive heating of the Earth due to carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gas emissions” was predicted to occur twenty, thirty or fifty years hence when the hoax kicked off in the late 1980s. Keep that in mind when the Rio+20 United Nations Earth Summit is held in Rio de Janeiro, the site of the first conference.

Supported by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the so-called “scientists” backed up their claims with all manner of computer models, dubious graphs, and tons of “scientific” papers to convince governments and people that massive changes had to occur—primarily a huge reduction in the use of fossil fuels—or we were all doomed.

Exposed in November 2009 by the “Climategate” release of thousands of emails between the perpetrators, I still find it astonishing that not one single member of this conspiracy has gone to jail. Indeed, in 2007 the IPCC and Al Gore shared a Nobel Peace Prize.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has issued a formal request that all the “researchers” who contributed to the global warming hoax be granted immunity from prosecution. Unbelievable, eh?

Back in 1956, a geologist named M. King Hubbert released the findings of his calculations to let the world know that U.S. oil production would “peak” between 1965 and 1970. It didn’t. What has since slowed oil production in the U.S. has been the refusal of the Obama administration to issue the permits necessary to drill on federal lands and offshore. The world is afloat on an ocean of oil and, in addition, the U.S. is not running out of coal or natural gas.

Similarly, all the population predictions made by Prof. Paul R. Erhlich and his wife in 1968 have proven false as well. A colleague of his, Dr. John Holdren, is the science advisor to the President. One of the central themes of environmentalism is that humanity is to blame for harming the Earth and that there are too many people.

The other theme is that all these people are “consuming” too much of the Earth’s natural resources and should be penned up in cities and kept out of most places on Earth in order to protect its “endangered species”, etc. Meanwhile, as this is being written, huge sections of western states’ forests are going up in flames thanks to Mother Nature setting off fires off with lightning strikes.

Does it surprise anyone that the Earth Summit is calling for a “climate fund” and wants nations to kick in $100 billion? The proposal for the fund called “The Earth We Want” covers an extraordinary range of topics that includes gender equality, woman’s empowerment, and all the usual social justice and environmental clap-trap that is intended to ensnare everyone in a web of laws, regulations, and treaties aimed directly at eliminating the freedoms the West has and that many in other parts of the world want.

There is one good reason to not ignore the Earth Summit. They are telling you just what kind of an Orwellian and totalitarian world they have in mind for you.


Even "New Scientist" rebukes the IPCC for using 'grey' evidence

Skeptics have been saying the same for years

Climate scientists are likely to face charges of putting politics before science, following two controversial decisions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, earlier this month.

The IPCC decided for the first time to impose strict geographical quotas on the scientists who author its major assessment reports. There will also be a push to increase the representation of women among its authors.

Controversially, it also voted to increase the role in those assessments of "grey literature": publications not subject to peer review. Using such material in the last assessment is what led to the "glaciergate" scandal in 2010, when the report was found to have vastly overestimated the rate at which Himalayan glaciers are losing ice.

The panel publishes three voluminous assessments of the state of climate science every six years, the last of which came out in 2007Speaker.

Some critics New Scientist spoke to say the changes, which have not so far been publicly announced, will reduce the quality of the assessments by excluding the best scientists and muddying the waters between peer-reviewed and other literature.
Geographical bias

However, the changes were backed this week by a senior IPCC scientist, Thelma Krug, a Brazilian co-chair of the panel's task force in greenhouse gas inventories. Speaking at a side event at the Rio+20 environment conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, she said the changes will correct geographical biases that have skewed past assessments.

Grey literature was responsible for several embarrassing errors in the 2007 report. These included the false claim that the Himalayas could be ice-free within 30 years and the assertion that African farmers could suffer yield losses of up to 50 per cent by 2020 because of climate change. The latter claim was formally corrected at this month's Geneva meeting.

After the scandals, some called for grey literature to be banished from IPCC assessments. Instead, the meeting embraced it, and set criteria for its use. From now on, for instance, any grey literature used in an IPCC report will have to be put online so that reviewers can assess its quality.
Correcting imbalance

Krug told New Scientist this would correct an imbalance in the assessments as it is harder for people in developing countries to get research findings into the major peer-reviewed journals.

"There is a lot of information available in [the grey literature of] developing countries that would balance IPCC literature," she said.

The IPCC is an intergovernmental body, but its reports are written by scientists. In the past these have been chosen largely on their scientific merit, but from now on the 30-person IPCC bureau - which oversees all publications - will have geographical quotas. For instance Africa will have five members and North America four. In addition, each of its three working groups must now include at least one person from every continent in their eight-person bureaux.

Richard Klein, an IPCC stalwart from the Stockholm Environment Institute in Sweden, told New Scientist this was mostly a formalisation of current practices. "Membership has always been based on expertise, geographical balance and gender." But Krug said it represented a breakthrough for involvement of developing-world scientists.


Australia: Coal hard light of day for dud Green/Left scheme

Kevin Rudd's decision to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on technology to capture and store carbon has failed to deliver.

They've conferenced in empire-style Parisian ballrooms and dined in Kyoto on food cooked by a genuine Iron Chef. But deeply disgruntled former staffers believe Australia's $300 million Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute has not achieved very much.

In 2008 the then prime minister Kevin Rudd decided a fledgling technology called carbon capture and storage was the key to two of his government's big aims: joining a successful international fight to reduce global warming and continuing to be the world's largest exporter of coal.

In his grandiloquent style, he promised $400 million to a new not-for-profit company, the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, which would get CCS up and running at home and also "lead the world".

The funding was pared back over time, but industry and government sources and former staff of the institute are frustrated that much of the $300 million spent on the institute has been "squandered".

Even the man appointed to haul it away from government hand-outs and into the world of commercial reality - Brad Page, the former head of the peak electricity industry body - concedes the original $100 million a year "seed funding" given to the institute was more that it knew how to spend.

"It's actually impossible to spend that amount of money responsibly," he tells The Sun-Herald.

But his predecessors tried, in lavish ways that raised the ire of senior bureaucrats and ministers. Since 2009, more than $235 million has been delivered to the institute, $122 million of it already spent and another $113 million in its bank account, beyond the reach of Treasury's razor, information provided at a Senate estimates hearing reveals.

Treasury managed to claw back more than $80 million of the promised $400 million before it was handed over. Only about $80 million remains to be paid over the next five years.

The institute has 78 staff, including nine permanent employees overseas - two in Washington, three in Tokyo and four in Paris. Former senior employees say its first chief executive, the British businessman Nick Otter, was paid well over $500,000 a year - more than the Prime Minister.

Page insists he has "no idea" what his predecessor was paid and his own salary is "nothing like that". The institute's five board members are paid from a budget of $400,000 a year and are entitled to first-class air travel.

The first members' meeting was in Canberra, where the institute is based, in early 2009. But its second, in November 2009, attended by more than 15 Australia-based staff, was in the luxurious ballroom of the InterContinental Hotel in Paris, opposite the Paris Opera and decorated in similar ornate style.

Both industry sources and former staff concede the jaw-dropping opulence sent "all the wrong messages" to the 180 members who attended.

"The spending was very difficult to justify," said one former employee.

And it did not end in Paris. In 2010 when they met in Kyoto, they enjoyed a dinner cooked by a celebrity Iron Chef ( the institute says his services were thrown in for no extra charge by the hotel).

Documents released under freedom of information show a staggering $54,257,000 was spent on "operational expenses" in the first two years.

The spending began before the institute even existed. Rudd - who decided at a G8 meeting in Japan in 2008 that the success of CCS was vital to Australia's interest - set it up on advice from Boston Consulting, rather than the public service, at a cost of $1.5 million. By September 2008, he summoned business leaders to Canberra for a 30-minute presentation unveiling his plan.

Many were nonplussed, unsure about its aims or how it would be different from the CO2 co-operative research centre set up under the Howard government ( with almost $50 million in federal funds), Dick Wells's National Low Emissions Coal Council ($400 million in federal funding) or another international body set up by the US, the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum.

"I still have no real idea how it will work or what it will do," one chief executive said at the time.

But the public service was already doling out $65 million to future institute "partners", including $21 million to the Asian Development Bank, almost $20 million to the International Energy Agency, $10 million to the Clinton Foundation headed by the former US president, and a grant to a body called the Climate Group to "advance" CCS. The Sun-Herald understands there is deep concern about what Australia is achieving from these contracts.

The institute was soon seeking global members and now boasts more than 300, including foreign governments, corporations, industry organisations and research bodies. There was no reason not to sign up. There is no joining fee.

In July 2009, the grand idea was paraded on the international stage, its reannouncement the key initiative at the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy. It was a heady moment for the Australian prime minister, who shared the podium with the US President, Barack Obama, the leaders of the developed world listening behind him.

At the time, Australia's $400 million was termed "seed funding" with hundreds of millions from other governments also anticipated. But it took years for the US government to come good with $1 million and the European Union has only this year contributed €3 million ($3.8 million) for the institute to take over work it had previously contracted elsewhere.

Its advisory panel included the world's best and brightest, among them former World Bank boss James Wolfensohn and influential climate economist Sir Nicholas Stern. Wolfensohn has since left.

Despite all its money, it took the institute some time to clarify exactly what it would do to meet its ambitious brief. At its inception, a spokesman for Rudd said the institute would not "actually fund demonstration projects overseas" but would "provide expertise … and research".

However, in its first report to the Minister for Resources, Martin Ferguson, revealed under freedom-of-information laws, the institute said it was planning to "make approximately $50 million per annum available to support a substantial portfolio of CCS projects around the world".

And in a letter to Ferguson in February 2010, institute chairman Russell Higgins wrote proudly that the initial offer to support international projects received an "extremely encouraging" response. The institute had received requests from overseas projects asking for a total of $500 million of Australia's money. So far, the institute has spent $37 million on projects, mostly overseas. Several have failed. Only about $6 million has been spent on projects in Australia.

A total of $8 million was spent on a single CCS plant proposed by the energy company Tenaska, in Texas. In a recent report, Tenaska conceded it was still unable to bridge a "financing gap" required before the project could proceed because the US government had not provided any assistance. Internationally, the only CCS projects working on power plants are where the injected carbon dioxide serves an additional revenue-raising purpose - helping to recover more oil deposits from underground.

"They thought they could purchase an acceleration of projects overseas, but it was clear from the start that even though we had a lot of money, doing that would cost a lot more money than we had," the former employee says.

Peter Cook, the former head of the research centre CO2CRC and a professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne, says Australia should have used its money to make sure at least one domestic carbon capture and storage project was built to prove to investors that the technology worked at commercial scale.

"Some of the other countries must think we are wonderfully generous, but I believe we could be getting a lot more bang for our buck," he said.

Page says the institute's function is now "knowledge sharing" - to make sure each new project around the world does not repeat the mistakes of the last. He says the money was initially paid to overseas projects to begin building up the institute's publicly available "knowledge bank", but from now on it will commission specific research and will no longer fund projects on the ground.

As the government funding runs out, Page's job over the next two years "is to develop a strategy for the future … where our services are attractive enough to be paid for by our customers." It will almost inevitably involve fewer staff and pared back operations.

But the main knowledge being "shared" is that, like all low-emission technologies, CCS is more expensive than coal, and therefore (unless it can make a revenue stream through enhanced oil recovery) it requires upfront capital assistance from governments, and ongoing subsidies while a carbon price remains low.

The institute itself came to this conclusion after its first global "audit", released in October 2009 and Page concedes this remains the reason for slow progress on CCS around the world.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


19 June, 2012

Wind farms to lose subsidies by 2020, says British government minister

Taxpayers could stop subsidising onshore wind farms and solar power providers by the end of the decade, ministers claim. Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Letwin has confirmed that financial support – currently worth around £400million – will have ‘disappeared’ by 2020.

George Osborne is believed to be arguing for a 25 per cent cut in renewable energy subsidies. But Mr Letwin revealed in an email to a campaigner that the cut could go much further.

‘I anticipate subsidies… will come down to zero over the next few years and should have disappeared by 2020, since these forms of energy are gradually becoming economic without the need for subsidies,’ he told Terry Stewart, president of the Dorset branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.

Mr Stewart, who had written to Mr Letwin – his MP – to complain about plans for 160 wind turbines in Dorset, said: ‘The subsidy for wind turbines is iniquitous – it is a stealth tax.

‘It is being paid out to rich land owners and foreign energy companies and developers.’ Electricity companies have to pay twice the market price for energy from onshore wind farms. This is then passed on through higher bills.

While the Lib Dems are in favour of subsidising ‘green’ energy, more than 100 Tory MPs wrote to David Cameron in January to urge him not to blight the landscape with turbines. There are currently more than 3,000 onshore wind turbines in Britain, with another 4,500 expected to be erected.

Tory MP Chris Heaton-Harris said: ‘This policy is not green, progressive or sensible. The Chancellor should take an axe to these subsidies.’

The revelation is embarrassing for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, due to attend the United Nations Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil tomorrow. The Lib Dem leader has argued national wealth should also be measured by how clean a country’s environment is, rather than just how much money it earns.

Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, will announce details of subsidies for renewable energy from 2013 to 2017 in the next few weeks. It will follow a consultation on whether subsidies should be cut by more than 10 per cent.

John Constable, director of the UK charity Renewable Energy Foundation, said: ‘Extremely high subsidies have harmed the reputation and integrity of the renewables sector, which has been corrupted by easy money and undeserved fortunes.

‘Reductions in subsidies are welcome, but may not be enough to protect the consumer in very hard times, and retrospective cuts, supported by windfall taxes, cannot be ruled out.’

A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said the 2020 date referred to by Mr Letwin was an ‘aspiration’. She added: ‘It is always our aspiration to end subsidies for any energies.’


USA: Wind Farms Canceled, Layoffs Starting

Government dependence is risky business

The major federal tax and grant subsidies for windpower and other qualifying renewables are scheduled to expire at year-end. And claims of robust economics, competitiveness, and growth have given way to fear of a freer, less preferential market in 2013 and beyond. Wind’s artificial boom/upcoming bust is the risky business of political capitalism.

Last Friday’s edition of Environment & Energy Daily ran this story (sub. req.):

The American Wind Energy Association estimates that 10,000 jobs will be lost by September — primarily among manufacturers of wind turbines and components facing a dearth of orders for next year. By the end of the first quarter of 2013, the industry will have shed about 37,000 jobs without quick action on a PTC renewal, according to a widely cited study AWEA commissioned from Navigant Consulting. The industry estimates it employed about 78,000 people at the beginning of this year.

So in the next six-to-nine months, nearly one-half of the industry’s jobs will be gone just because a special tax break has lapsed? How lousy is this industry? What have we gotten for decades and tens of billions of dollars expended to date?

And what is the plan for the inevitable task of dismantling the industrial wind turbines that no longer spin but look like some industrial death scene from Planet of the Apes?

Competitive–or Almost So?

What about the repeated claims that windpower is almost competitive? Back in 1986, a representative of the American Wind Energy Association told Congress:

The U.S. wind industry has … demonstrated reliability and performance levels that make them very competitive. It has come to the point that the California Energy Commission has predicted windpower will be that State’s lowest cost source of energy in the 1990s, beating out even large-scale hydro. [1]

He added: “We are not quite there. We have hopes.”

Just last week (26 years later!) a new report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century stated that wind will be “fully competitive” with gas-fired power generation by 2016.

As reported by North American Windpower:

Based on current trends, it is predicted that the average onshore wind project worldwide will be fully competitive with combined-cycle gas turbine generation by 2016 – even in the U.S., where gas prices are expected to rebound to a point where they cover the cost of extraction, UNEP says. At present, this is true only of a minority of wind projects – those that use the most efficient turbines in locations with superior wind resources.

Such is just the latest in a long list of false hopes, exaggeration, and falsified promises from the industrial wind lobby. They present half-truths, white lies, and falsehoods to get taxpayer/ratepayer subsidies, and then warn against losing jobs to try to keep the government largesse going.

The same will be true in the future, as it has been in the past. Such is the inherent fate of dilute energy that is higher cost and intermittent, requiring blending with dense, reliable energy.


Back to the E&E News piece, here is more angst from the proponents of extending the PTC:

Wind farm developers generally say they have placed few, if any, turbine orders for next year because of uncertainty over the PTC’s fate, and several companies have already announced plans to cancel or suspend projects that already have been in development.

Just this week, developer Gamesa canceled a 30-turbine project in Pennsylvania, the third project cancellation in that state in less than a month, following Iberdrola Renewables’ decision in May to abandon two planned wind farms, according to press reports. Also last month, Invenergy delayed until at least 2015 plans for a 15- to 18-turbine wind farm in Roanoke, Va., citing uncertainty around the production tax credit.

NRG Systems, which manufactures turbine components, announced last month it would lay off 18 employees to reduce its work force to 100, with the company’s CEO saying at the time that the decision was required in the face of a “deeply unstable” industry.

“The constant threat of expiration of the PTC is an example of how government can negatively impact the private sector. … And the slowdown in the wind sector because of the games that Congress is playing with the PTC should serve as a canary in the coal mine for the broader economy,” said Joshua Freed, who directs the clean energy program at the centrist think tank Third Way.

Time is of the essence because of the 12- to 18-month lead time wind farms require before they can become operational and begin generating the tax benefits, industry sources say. Even if the credit is extended in November or December, industry representatives predict a significant downturn in 2013 compared to what is expected to be a banner year for turbine deployment this year.

The good news? Resources wasted in the wind sector can be redeployed in the resource-needy oil and gas sector! To wit: Dear Wind Industry: We Need Your Workers and Materials (and taxpayers need your cessation).


The environmental importance of a market economy

Vuk picks up on an important point about the Soviet economy of old. Growth in that economy was almost entirely a matter of greater inputs into the economy. This is a strategy that clearly runs out of steam when you've no more inputs to add: and run out of steam that sort of economy did. But we can take this argument further, as Paul Krugman did when examining the Japanese economy of the 80s and 90s. Here.
How, then, have today's advanced nations been able to achieve sustained growth in per capita income over the past 150 years? The answer is that technological advances have led to a continual increase in total factor productivity--a continual rise in national income for each unit of input. In a famous estimate, MIT Professor Robert Solow concluded that technological progress has accounted for 80 percent of the long-term rise in U.S. per capita income, with increased investment in capital explaining only the remaining 20 percent....()......But what they actually found was that Soviet growth was based on rapid--growth in inputs--end of story. The rate of efficiency growth was not only unspectacular, it was well below the rates achieved in Western economies. Indeed, by some estimates, it was virtually nonexistent.

What it boils down to uis that it is the strictures of the market that lead to that greater efficiency and technological progress. William Baumol has noted the reason why: either system can create the inventions, make the new technology. But only a market based system gives the freedom to experiment with it to increase that efficiency and then, as others become more efficient, that impetus for others to adopt in order not to go bankrupt.

The most important lesson of which in modern terms is for the various greens and environmentalists. If you really do want an economy in which resource use is reduced then you really do need to have a market economy. For planned ones just aren't any good at increasing efficiency: efficiency meaning here a reduction in resource use for any given level of output.

And when I meet, if I ever do, another environmentalist like me who argues for the free market precisely because it is environmentally sound to do so I shall rejoice. Until then, looking at the greens that we do have I can only consider them with horror. Why is it that they continually argue for policies like planning so inimical to their actual desire, reduced resource use?


Mr. Smoot vs. the Smart Meter: “Underground movement” goes mainstream

On Thursday the battle against mandatory Smart Meter deployment was taken up by the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram's popular Watchdog columnist Dave Lieber.

Lieber covered background on what he called an "underground movement" against Smart Meters, reported on the current state of affairs and gave precise information on how and where to send comments to the PUC in his article, "Give Texas Public Utility Commission your opinion on smart electric meters."

Nationwide attention like this coupled with attacks on their profits are making public utilities pay attention. Yes, attacks on their profits.

Like computer geeks who hack into their high school's computer and change their failing grade to an A, people are hacking their own Smart Meters, and other people's meters for profit, changing the settings so the meters report lower usage than is actually being consumed.

According to, this can be done "using software that can be downloaded from the Internet and it "may have cost a single US electric utility hundreds of millions of dollars annually."

While libertarians would never condone theft of services this may be the one issue that will finally get the attention of America's corporatist-statist monopolist electric utility companies and make them pause in their headlong rush to deploy their not-so-smart meters on the nation's not-so-smart electric grid.

Certainly customer complaints about inaccurate readings, health and safety concerns, radiofrequency interference and privacy issues haven't deterred them a bit here in North Texas.

On June 4 Cindy Carriger of RefuseSmartMeters told the Dallas Libertarian Examiner, "I was called back by Oncor and they assured me there is no opt-out list or waiting list."

Neither the Ft. Worth resident code-named Mr. Smoot (his name is an acronym for Smart Meter Opt Out Texan) nor the Dallas Libertarian Examiner received any reply to their inquiries.

(And sure enough, Installer Number 5 knocked on Smoot's door even as this article was being written.)

Carriger continued the pressure. On June 5 she organized a meeting in Bedford which was attended by several dozen concerned citizens and one Dallas Morning News reporter/photographer who posted his article that evening.

That story quotes what is apparently the first Texas politician, Sen. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, to demand legislation "requiring utilities to allow customers to decline a Smart Meter" if the PUC doesn't set up an opt-out program "pronto."

No longer can detractors call Smart Meter resisters conspiracy nuts. It's mainstream now.


“Sustainable justice” = redistribution of SCARCITY

The UN Rio+20 agenda means less freedom, happiness, true justice and human rights progress

Presidential candidate Barack Obama promised that his Administration would “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” He gave a clue to exactly what he had in mind when he told now-congressional candidate Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher: “When you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

Not necessarily – especially when activists, regulators, politicians and ruling elites do all they can to ensure there is less and less wealth to spread around.

Just this week, the Civil Society Reflection Group on Global Development Perspectives released a new report to the United Nations Rio+20 Earth Summit on Sustainable Development. The executive summary of No Future Without Justice begins with the heading, “The World Is in Need of Fundamental Change.” The document then offers “solutions,” which include “universal fiscal equalization” and a “massive and absolute decoupling of well-being from resource extraction and consumption.”

The 18-member Group includes no Americans – but condemns the US and other governments for their dedication to economic growth, rather than wealth redistribution, and demands that governments play a key role in promoting “sustainability” and welfare. They insist that all governments provide universal access to public health care, guaranteed state allowances for every child, guaranteed state support for the unemployed and underemployed, and basic universal pensions and universal social security.

It is, in short, the total nanny state – but with little or no resource extraction or economic growth to support it. In other words, it guarantees sustained injustice and redistribution of increasing scarcity.

The Group admits that human civilization “will still need some form of growth in large parts of the world, to expand the frontiers of maximum available resources for poor countries.” However, the massive investments needed to shift to a totally renewable energy and resource-based economy will require “massive de-growth (shrinkage) of products, sectors and activities that do not pass the sustainability test” – as devised by them, affiliated organizations and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Key financial support for the push toward “sustainability” includes a “greener” and “more progressive” tax system featuring a financial transaction tax, abolition of subsidies for all but renewable energy, cutting military spending while dramatically increasing “stimulus” spending, a compensation scheme to pay off “climate debts” to poor countries supposedly impacted by hydrocarbon-driven climate change, a new regulatory framework for financial markets, a financial product safety commission, and still more regulations for hedge funds and private equity funds. The Group also demands public control of financial rating agencies and a government takeover of international accounting standards.

To ensure that “sustainable development” permeates every aspect of society, the Group proposes a new “Sherpa” for Sustainability (with cabinet rank), a parliamentary committee on policy coherence for sustainability, a UN Sustainability Council, a Universal Periodic Review on Sustainability, and an Ombudsman for Intergenerational Justice and Future Generations. It also proposes an International Panel on Sustainability that builds on the “success” of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Of course, guiding all this would be the world’s premiere political body and bastion of freedom, fairness, democracy and human rights – the UN General Assembly.

To guide this “fundamental” shift toward the sustainability paradigm, the Group laid down eight principles – the key being the “precautionary principle,” which forbids any activity that might involve risk or “do harm.” Its own sustainability prescriptions are, of course, exempted from any reviews under the precautionary principle.

The objective, they state, is to build economies that drastically limit carbon emissions, energy consumption, primary resource extraction, waste generation, and air and water pollution. Society must also stop the asserted and computer-modeled loss of species and ruination of ecosystems.

All this naturally will require mandatory changes in consumption patterns and lifestyles (at least for the common folk), and the recognition that work (unlike capital) is not a production factor. Indeed, says the Group, work is not even a commodity. Moreover, only “decent” work qualifies under the sustainability paradigm. (While “decent work” is never defined, it presumably includes backbreaking sunup-to-sundown labor at subsistence farming, which under the Group’s agenda would be called “traditional” or “organic” farming and would not be replaced by modern mechanized agriculture.)

What is the source of all of this gobbledygook? Agenda 21, the centerpiece of the original Rio Earth Summit – which is being perpetuated, refined and redefined at parallel proceedings in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, while the main sustainability discussions are ongoing in Rio de Janeiro.

Agenda 21 states, for example, that “achieving the goals of environmental quality and sustainable development will require ... changes in consumption patterns.” This too would be achieved under UN auspices because, as Earth Summit creator Maurice Strong has explained, the days of national sovereignty are over, and the world needs to embrace a system of wealth transfer to ensure environmental security.

In short, “sustainable development” is a system that requires a redefinition of business activity, away from the pursuit of personal profit – and of government activity, away from the pursuit of individual happiness and justice – and toward the pursuit of societal good, as defined by activists and the UN.

Simply put, as Brian Sussman points out in his new book, Eco-Tyranny, the ultimate goal of those who endorse the sustainability paradigm is to expunge “the most precious” rights expressed in the American Declaration of Independence: “that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among them are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness – that to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.”

The Agenda 21 and sustainability paradigm also rejects and undermines Adam Smith’s belief that mankind’s natural tendency toward self-interest, profit and self-improvement results in greater prosperity, opportunity, health, welfare and justice for all.

Most of all, the UN/Maurice Strong/ Civil Society Reflection Group vision is merely the latest embodiment of Plato’s Republic. Under Plato’s thesis, an educated, elite, but benevolent and mythical, ruling class acts on the belief that its self-appointed philosopher kings have all the right answers, and do not require the Consent of the Governed. The rest of humanity must fall into lockstep or face the consequences; however the results will be exemplary.

Unfortunately, as Alexander Hamilton observed, men are not angels. Moreover, it defies experience and common sense to suppose that the elitist UN, UNEP and environmental activist community will ever display wisdom detached from ardent ideology – or benevolence toward the humans they seek to govern.


Are fatties starving the poor?

The familiar zero-sum game fallacy

Overweight people are a threat to future food security and increasing population fatness could have the same implications for world food demands as an extra billion people, researchers have found.

Scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine examined the average weight of adults across the globe and said tackling population weight was crucial for food security and ecological sustainability.

The United Nations predicts that by 2050 there could be a further 2.3 billion people on the planet and that the ecological implications of the rising population numbers will be exacerbated by increases in average body mass.

The world's adult population weighs 287 million tonnes, 15 million tonnes of which is due to being overweight and 3.5 million tonnes to obesity, according to the study, which is to be published in BMC Public Health.

The data, collected from the UN and the World Health Organisation, shows that while the average global weight per person is 62 kilograms in 2005, Britons weighed 75 kilograms. In the US, the average adult weighed 81 kilograms. Across Europe, the average was 70.8 kilograms compared with just 57.7 kilograms in Asia.

More than half of people living in Europe are overweight compared with only 24.2 per cent of Asian people. Almost three-quarters of people living in North America are overweight.

Researchers predict that if all people had the same average body mass index as Americans, the total human biomass would increase by 58 million tonnes.

The authors of the study say the energy requirement of humans depends not only on numbers but average mass.

"Increasing biomass will have important implications for global resource requirements, including food demand and the overall ecological footprint of our species," they wrote.

"Although the concept of biomass is rarely applied to the human species, the ecological implications of increasing body mass are significant and ought to be taken into account when evaluating future trends and planning for future resource challenges. Tackling population fatness may be critical to world food security and ecological sustainability."

Professor Ian Roberts, who led the research at LSHTM, said: "Everyone accepts that population growth threatens global environmental sustainability - our study shows that population fatness is also a major threat."



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


18 June, 2012

A suppressed truth

Greenies mainline on ice-core records -- but are those records on their side? Some findings have just leaked out in New Zealand which say not

Al Gore’s movie and book, “An Inconvenient Truth” convinced John Key and many other New Zealand politicians that catastrophic climate change was real and happening in their time, thanks largely to a now discredited temperature graph known as “the hockey stick”.

But now a real temperature graph using ice core data from Antarctica shows just how much the public and politicians were conned. The Law Dome ice core study has been languishing unpublished for more than a decade, and the picture below, featuring global temperatures on the vertical axis and the years in AD on the horizontal, shows modern temperatures are cooler than they were a thousand years ago.

How, you may ask, does an ice-core at -70 below in Antarctica measure global temperatures? Certain Oxygen isotopes are more prevalent in warmer climates, and less prevalent in the cold, and after adjusting for the known location scientists can establish – from when the oxygen was captured in the ice – how warm the circulating global atmosphere was at the time.

In comparison, the discredited “Hockey Stick” tries to suggest modern temperatures are hotter than ever.


It's no wonder the world's cooling on climate change

By James Delingpole, writing from England

They used to call it ‘Flaming June’. Nearer the mark today would be ‘Flaming ruddy awful June’. We are on the cusp of the Summer Solstice (starting on Wednesday evening), in the wake of the wettest April on record and in the midst of what promises to be a June that is both record-breakingly damp and 1.4C cooler than average. Out of our rain-streaked windows we spy leaden skies, louring clouds and oily puddles.

Of course, you are not supposed to ask yourselves: ‘Whatever happened to global warming?’

Not even if you say it particularly quietly, or as a joke. If you do, chances are you will be sharply reminded that ‘weather is not the same as climate’.

This is true. But it’s also a bit of a cop-out. After all, as most of us are now aware, there has been no ‘global warming’ since 1998, which is when the curve on the graph goes flat.

In the eternally moving battlefield of claim and counter-claim in the great climate change debate, even the fervently warmist Professor Phil Jones – of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit – concedes that there has been no ‘statistically significant warming’ since 1995.

In the simplest, human terms, therefore, no one younger than 14 years old has experienced global warming.

So why does our Government go on acting as if it’s a major problem? Why all these hugely expensive commitments to ‘decarbonisation’ and ‘renewable energy’? Why all the eco-taxes on our holiday flights and wind-farms – if the supposed threat they were designed to avert now turns out to be unsupported by real-world evidence?

It is not just ‘deniers’ who are asking these questions. Last week, in London, the Global Warming Policy Foundation hosted a lecture by a leading German green – former activist and Hamburg state environment senator Prof Fritz Vahrenholt.

The evidence for man-made global warming is looking shakier by the day, Germany’s answer to Jonathon Porritt or George Monbiot admitted. Far more likely a culprit is the sun.

Vahrenholt isn’t the only green guru to recant. Earlier this year, Prof James Lovelock graciously conceded his doomsday claims about climate change – for example his prediction that 80 per cent of all humans would be wiped out by 2100 – had been somewhat overdone.

‘The world has not warmed up very much since the Millennium,’ he said. ‘The problem is that we don’t know what climate is doing. We thought we did 20 years ago.’ Indeed we did.

But as a reminder of just how very much things have changed between then and now, we have the Rio +20 Summit opening in Brazil this week. Staged by the United Nations to mark the 20th anniversary of the world’s first Earth Summit (also held in Rio), it is turning out to be a pale imitation of the original.

The 1992 Rio Earth Summit was the greatest political gathering the world had ever seen – attended by politicians from 172 countries, including no fewer than 108 presidents and prime ministers.

At the end of it, 154 nations signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) committing themselves to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with Earth’s climate system’. In fact, symbolically, it was rather humbling – an example of how humanity coalesced in the face of a common enemy.

Alas, two decades on, about the best Rio +20 can manage is Nick Clegg. President Obama is not going, nor is Angela Merkel, nor David Cameron. Global warming no longer seems to be quite the urgent threat it was after a succession of bitingly cold winters and miserable summers.

Like the disastrous Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban summits before it, the Rio event looks set to be another damp squib, beset by bickering, achieving nothing other than a few vague, non-binding commitments to do something serious some time in the future.

How much simpler things were in the early Nineties. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had just produced its first Assessment Report in which the world’s most expert scientists all apparently agreed that the world was doomed to burn in hellfire unless man amended his wicked ways.

The three IPCC reports since then have confirmed this prognosis with increasingly shrill certainty. But, unfortunately, no one outside the Government and the green movement takes them very seriously any more, because the real world has stubbornly refused to act in accordance with all the climate scientists’ scary predictions.

Sea levels have not risen dramatically. ‘Threatened’ regions such as Tuvalu, the Maldives and Bangladesh have not drowned. Polar bear populations continue to thrive. Arctic sea ice is recovering while the Antarctic ice is expanding. But, most damningly of all, global warming stopped at the end of the last century.

And if we’re to believe Fritz Vahrenholt in his bestselling book Die Kalte Sonne (The Cold Sun) it’s in no danger of starting any time soon.

Vahrenholt’s thesis – based on the observations of increasingly respected scientists such as the Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark – is that the main agent of climate change is not CO2 but solar radiation.

Much of the mild global warming we’ve experienced in the past 150 years (a rise of about 0.8C) was, it would appear, the result of solar activity (detectable in the number of sun spots) which is now slowing down.

We are entering a period of ‘weak’ solar cycles, and this decline in activity is expected to continue until about 2040, by which time – according to some pessimistic predictions – global mean temperatures will have fallen by 2C.

For many of us, in other words, ‘global warming’ is something we will never experience again in our lifetime. From now on we can expect drabber, wetter summers and colder winters.

And as if that weren’t depressing enough, here are our political leaders regulating and carbon taxing our economies as if the non-existent global warming problem was still something to fear.

This is madness – and one day future historians will see it as such. They will gasp in astonishment that in 2011 the global carbon trading market climbed to a record $176 billion (£113 billion) – about the same as global wheat production.

They will ask how CO2 could be valued as highly as the essential foodstuff that supplies 20 per cent of the calories consumed by the seven billion people on the planet.

A good place for them to start would be the hysteria and optimism of that original Earth summit, in which a mix of panic and good intentions were allowed to override common sense. In short, blame it on Rio.


Influence Peddling with a Shade of Green

Do I need to say how this will end up?

Everybody has heard about Solyndra and the many other failures of the DOE green energy grant and loan program replete with scandalous political paybacks to Obama supporters. Now there's another one. It involves the largest single loan guarantee of the entire $16 billion program, a current Cabinet Secretary and a former Chief-of-Staff to Vice-President Joe Biden.

BrightSource Energy spent two years and half a million dollars lobbying the Obama Administration to approve a $1.6 billion loan guarantee for the gigantic Ivanpah solar-power plant in California's Mojave Desert. Facing what the company called a "do-or-die deadline" in early 2011, BrightSource pulled out all the stops and further leveraged their considerable political connections to the max.

Bernie Toon, former Chief-of-Staff to Joe Biden in the Senate, was hired to ramp-up lobbying efforts with top Administration officials. On March 9, 2011, just days after being hired, Toon escorted three BrightSource executives to the White House for a meeting with Alan Hoffman, according to a Wall Street Journal investigation. Hoffman was Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff to the Vice-President according to White House personnel reports.

On March 15, there was a meeting with officials at the White House's Office of Management and Budget.

BrightSource also leveraged the influence of company Chairman John Bryson by sending a "proposed letter" to the DOE green-energy loan program director, Jonathan Silver, threatening to call on Bryson's close personal friend White House Chief-of-Staff William Daley for intervention. Silver apparently got the message, and within hours Silver sent an email saying there was no need for Bryson to contact Daley. "Mr. Silver assured BrightSource that its deal was 'on track'" according to the WSJ.

The $1.6 billion loan guarantee was approved on April 5, and Toon's lobbying contract ended. He clipped a cool $40,000 for barely a month of his service. The next month, May 2011, Obama nominated John Bryson to be Secretary of Commerce. Bryson recently took a medical leave of absence after being involved in two hit-and-run accidents in southern California.

Regardless of all the meetings and influence peddling at the highest levels, the White House maintains that the DOE made the BrightSource loan guarantee decision "based on the project's merits" completely independent of White House pressure or political considerations.

But, they also made sure that the DOE's John Silver "didn't respond to messages seeking comment" by the Wall Street Journal about this latest messy disclosure of how business really gets done in the Obama White House.


Paper, Plastic or Cloth: Which Bag is Best for the Environment?

Which is the most earth-friendly: paper bags, plastic bags or cloth bags?

The answer to the question depends upon whether or not you really believe in science, because as they say in certain environmental activist circles, the "science is settled"! Here's the summary description of the bag found to be the best for the environment, which is defined as being the bag with the least negative impact upon the environment, as found in a very recent and thorough study on the topic:
The conventional HDPE bag had the lowest environmental impacts of the lightweight bags in eight of the nine impact categories. The bag performed well because it was the lightest bag considered. The lifecycle impact of the bag was dictated by raw material extraction and bag production, with the use of Chinese grid electricity significantly affecting the acidification and ecotoxicity of the bag.

Yes, the convential High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) (aka "plastic") bag had the least impact upon the environment of all the bags considered in the study, which considered a number of bags made from different plastics, as well as both paper and cotton-based materials!

But that's only considering using each type of bag just once. For many eco-oriented people, the whole point is to reuse other kinds of bags to counteract the perceived environmental hazards posed by the conventional plastic bag.

Fortunately, the study revealed how many times the alternatives to the conventional plastic bag would have to be reused to overcome their own negative impacts to the environment:

Here, we find that if a consumer only uses a conventional HDPE plastic bag just once (say to carry their groceries home before throwing the bag away), a paper bag would have to be reused 3 times, a heavy-duty plastic bag made from Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) would have to be used 4 times, a plastic "bag-for-life" made of non-woven Polypropylene (PP) would have to be used 11 times, and a cotton (or canvas) bag would need to be re-used 131 times!

The study reports that a canvas bag is expected to last for 52 trips (Table A.3.1). With that as a reference, a cotton/cloth canvas bag user does over twice the damage to the environment that a plastic bag using grocery shopper who throws away every plastic bag they get immediately after each shopping trip, as they will likely have to replace their more environmentally-destructive bag at least once long before they reach 131 uses!

However, if a consumer reuses 100% of their conventional HDPE plastic bags (say as trash bags), the number of uses needed for the other bags to have a lesser environmental impact than the conventional HDPE plastic bag rises by a factor of anywhere from 2.2 to 2.5, which we see in the table above. For example, that re-usable canvas bag would need to be used at least 327 times to be less damaging to the environment!

Which makes the eco-friendly canvas bag user over six times as destructive to the environment as the conventional consumer who simply re-uses all the plastic bags they get from the grocery store just once.

If only those anti-plastic bag advocates cared more about the environment....


New hope for shale oil in Utah

People in Parachute, Colorado remember all too well the Black Sunday on May 2nd 1982 when Exxon suddenly closed its oil shale development there. Over 2,000 people found themselves out of work.

People still don’t trust oil shale, and given the story of Parachute, Colorado, one can understand why. Heretofore, oil shale has been too difficult to extract and required too much energy and water to make it viable energy source.

In recent years, a company called Enefit American Oil, based out of Estonia has moved into Utah and plans on setting up shop to extract oil from the shale. Enefit and its supporters point to Estonia as a country where oil shale has been in use for a hundred years, and also claim that the company has developed a method by which the oil can be extracted from the shale with almost no water. The company also points to its track record on reclamation in Estonia and to the fact that its emissions exceed the stringent requirements of the European Union.

The company appears to have found the Rosetta Stone that will allow it to crack the shale code in the United States. Its arrival will mean energy jobs in the State of Utah and will also add another alternative to the energy options box. By all indications, the company is a bright spot in the difficult history of oil shale development in the America.


Republicans who think that Greenies can be appeased

When will they learn that there's no such thing as a happy Greenie and that no Greenie will ever vote GOP anyway?

Support for available, abundant, and affordable energy generally falls along party lines—with Republicans supporting “responsible” energy (the stuff that really works) and Democrats pushing “renewable" energy (the stuff they hope will work someday). But when an elected official, or spokesperson, makes foolish choices, he or she needs to be called to task.

I’ve encouraged people to tweet about Karl Rove’s contrarian position backing the extension of the wind energy subsidy, known as the PTC, which is set to naturally expire at the end of this year. Rove’s PTC extension support puts him at odds with most of the Republican Party. We can’t vote Rove out, but we can shame him for supporting a subsidy at a time when we have to borrow from China to do it. He should know better.

I’ve asked people to call or email Tennessee’s Republican Senator Lamar Alexander to pressure him to join his party—and coal state and vulnerable Democrats—in supporting Senator Inhofe’s resolution (SJ 37) that would neuter President Obama’s regulatory war on coal. Despite the known increase in electricity prices and the hardships the regulations will put on working families, Alexander is resolutely siding with the President.

Now, it is time to call out Republican Governor Bob McDonnell—whose actions on energy more closely resemble those of the Obama administration than his Republican colleagues.

While campaigning, McDonnell vowed to make his state of Virginia the “Energy Capital of the East Coast.” His campaign website states: “Bob McDonnell’s plan for ‘More energy, More Jobs’ takes an ‘all of the above’ approach to solving our energy crisis. His administration will continue to support the traditional sources of energy that provide thousands of jobs to Virginians and help keep our electricity costs fairly low. He will also expand investments in renewable energy sources and incentivize green job creation so that the future of Virginia remains bright.”

Governor McDonnell has made some strides—that parallel President Obama’s—toward investments in renewable energy. Though his heralded pilot offshore wind turbine project has been put on hold, in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, McDonnell touts his record: “During my term as governor, we have focused on making Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast. In just two years our state has taken aggressive actions to harness the power of offshore wind and promote greater utilization of solar energy. Had the president not stopped Virginia's offshore oil and gas efforts, a portion of the revenue from those efforts would have gone—under a law passed during my term of office—to renewable energy research.”

Notably missing is any mention of nuclear power and the important fuel that makes it possible: uranium—both of which are abundant in Virginia. The state has four nuclear reactors and one of the world’s largest uranium ore deposits. Discovered in the late 1970s, the Coles Hill deposit has yet to be tapped—despite the fact that Virginia gets 40% of its power from nuclear and 92% of the uranium comes from outside our country.

In 1982, legislators imposed a temporary moratorium on uranium mining until the state could conduct an independent environmental study and state agencies could develop an appropriate regulatory program. After all, Virginia knows how to mine coal, but they have no experience with uranium. The study was completed in 1984 and determined that “uranium development in [in Pittsylania County] can be undertaken with minimal risks.” Based on the study, the legislature's Uranium Task Force concluded that “uranium development activity can be undertaken with an acceptable level of risk and with economic benefits to the state,” and recommended, by a 15-2 vote, that the General Assembly lift the moratorium and task state agencies with developing a regulatory and permitting program. Before the moratorium was lifted, the bottom fell out of the uranium market and the company that had leased the mining rights moved on. Interest in developing the regulatory framework dissipated.

But that was then and this is now. The global uranium market is surging. With 430 nuclear power plants worldwide and 65 new reactors under construction—with more planned, more uranium is being consumed than is being mined. The difference is being made up by depleting inventories of Cold War weaponry.

The timing couldn’t be better! The economy is in shambles. People need jobs—good paying jobs. The American trade deficit is higher than ever. And, right there in one of Virginia’s most economically depressed counties—a region formerly known for tobacco farming—is a natural resource, owned by a consortium of local folks, that would create 1000 jobs—325 of which will be directly hired by the company with wages in excess of $65,000 per year for 30+ years.

Yet Governor “Energy Capital” is, according to an April 6, 2012 Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper headline, “mum on mining”—the subtitle reads: “McDonnell will pass along uranium study but won’t weigh in.” Similarly, the Danville Register headline reads: “On uranium, Gov. to stay silent.”

No one is asking McDonnell to “weigh in” based on 30-year-old data. The Virginia Coal & Energy Commission engaged the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to conduct an 18-month study of the public health and environmental impacts of uranium mining. They also hired Chmura Economics to do a socioeconomic study.

Both studies were completed in December 2011, just weeks before the 2012 General Assembly. Most people expected a bill to lift the moratorium would be introduced. Instead of touting the positive economic impacts the socioeconomic study predicted—1,000 jobs, $5 billion in new revenue for Virginia companies, $110 million in local and state tax revenue or praising the major advances in best practices and regulations made in uranium mining over the past 30 years that drastically improve the industry’s environmental performance and mitigate the environmental problems experienced during the early Cold War days of the industry, as demonstrated by the NAS study—Governor “Energy Capital” followed President Obama’s Keystone Pipeline model.

Refusing to take a decisive stand on one side or the other, McDonnell kicked the can down the road and “issues a directive to state agencies to analyze scientific and legal issues and report back prior to 2013.” This Uranium Working Group (UWG) is expected to produce another report: a “draft statutory proposal and regulatory framework” by December 1.

It is important to understand that, in addition to the 30-year-old studies and the two recent ones, members of the administration have personally been to the Coles Hill deposit site, and they have visited successful Canadian uranium mining operations. Lifting the temporary, 30-year-old moratorium would not allow one shovel of dirt to be extracted. Lifting the moratorium would allow the process of creating the rules and regulations necessary for uranium mining to begin. Actually extracting the resource would still be years down the road once the “regulatory framework” is in place.

Governor “Energy Capital” could come out with encouragement, “I eagerly await the release of the UWG’s report. I believe we can learn from successful mining operations in Canada and replicate their positive socioeconomic impact for Virginia. Assuming the report green lights the project, I look forward to issuing a recommendation that the moratorium be lifted so the state can begin layering in a regulatory regime, gathering public comments, and refining the oversight mechanism needed for future uranium mining.” Instead, he is “mum.”

Even worse, McDonnell has dodged any position. He recently expressed his lack of commitment by saying he’d reserve the right to either recommend lifting the moratorium, recommend not lifting the moratorium, or to recommend nothing at all and let the General Assembly handle it. (Perhaps his all-purpose position is to avoid having a stand for which he can be held accountable should he get the VP nod.)

A May 29 radio interview offers a clue to his motives. Like President Obama on the Keystone pipeline, he’s been pressured by environmentalists who don’t want to see any mining (or any energy development for that matter). I’ve encountered the same type of obstructionists while fighting for uranium mining in New Mexico.

All is not lost.

McDonnell seems to be waking up to the fact that no matter how many studies they do, no matter how safe uranium mining is proven to be, no matter how many jobs will be created, and no matter how much producing a product in demand on the global market will help the American economy, the environmentalists will never approve.

During the May 29 radio interview, he expressed his exasperation with them: “These people don't want us to even study it. They've made their decision. They've made up their mind that they don't want us to look at it. They don't want us to study it. They don't want us to have any mining going on. That's just ridiculous. What I want to do is just get the facts. I don't have a decision made. They do. Our job—at the direction of the General Assembly—is to get the facts and to determine ‘can we mine it safely?’”

The UWG is holding a series of four public meetings during the next six months as they draft a statutory and conceptual regulatory framework. The UWG will hear public comments following their presentation. The environmentalists have historically been activated—filling hearings with “anti” rhetoric. People, who support the prosperity a project like Coles Hill can create, sit them out.

Often the only public comment received is from the obstructionists—leaving commission or board members to conclude that the vocal minority is the majority. The first of the four meetings is being held Monday, June 18, beginning at 6:00 PM at the Chatham High School, 100 Cavalier Circle, Chatham, VA. Anyone within range is encouraged to show up, stand up, and speak up on behalf the safe extraction of uranium. Additionally, comments can be made through the UWG website.

Will McDonnell keep his campaign promise and move Virginia toward being the “Energy Capital” or will he be kowtowed by the environmentalists who don’t want “any mining going on”—making Virginia an “energy prison” with the natural resources locked up? We know he’s been pressured from the left. Perhaps he just needs pressure from the right.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


17 June, 2012


The writer below is undoubtedly an expert at agronomy, botany, rural sociology and various related disciplines but, like so many "Experts" has not got a blind clue about the big picture. What he proposes below is well-intentioned and probably beneficial and I think we should all wish him luck with it but his underlying premise is plain wrong, Malthusian wrong.

He thinks that it is the capacity of the land which dictates how much food can be grown and sees an urgent need to devise new methods which will squeeze out more food per acre. What he fails to take on board is that existing, even primitive, methods can and will produce all the food we need. The constraints on food availability are political and economic, not agronomic.

Proof? China. Under Communism, China was a big food importer. Australian wheatgrowers were very grateful for their large orders from China. And given the large Chinese population that seemed merely sensible and quite inevitable. It was not. Under capitalism, China is now a huge food exporter. It feeds most of the word with some food product or other -- from garlic to truffles. And even Chinese wine is beginning to look good.

And China still is in some ways a primitive country. Human feces are still their major fertilizer. Just think what those clever Chinese farmers could do under Western conditions!

And the nearly unmanageable agricultural surpluses produced by Europe's Common Agricultural Policy are of course well known. It's only political stupidity and corruption that keeps people poor and hungry, nothing else.

The world stands at a critical juncture in the second decade of the 21st century. International policymakers have begun to face the unspeakable possibility that we might be running out of food and the land to grow it. Staggeringly, we need to grow as much food in the next 40 years as we have done in the past 8,000 years.

The recently published United Nations Africa Human Development Report estimates that one third of all Africans do not get enough food to eat. Two thirds of agricultural lands in Africa face degradation or collapse by 2030. Meanwhile, the global population continues to grow, and people in expanding economies are demanding more food.

A new way of doing business is essential if we are going to meet the demands for food tomorrow, let alone in 2030, when urban populations become the majority in developing countries or by 2050, when we expect nine billion mouths to feed.

About 140 million hectares of forest and woodland have been lost worldwide since 1990 to plant huge swathes of food crops. But trees play a fundamental role in almost all the Earth's ecosystems and provide a range of benefits to rural and urban people. Landscapes without trees can quickly erode.

As natural vegetation is cleared for agriculture and other types of development, however, trees need to be integrated into agriculturally productive landscapes - a practice known as agroforestry. These trees yield more than environmental benefits. Adding trees to cropland can be highly profitable, producing valuable fruit, rubber, coffee, oil, cocoa, medicinal and energy products.

Agroforestry is an integrated land use that subsistence farmers throughout most of the world have developed. Almost half of the world's farmland already has more than 10 percent tree cover. But that is not enough to supply the goods and ecological services needed today.

With growing recognition that agriculture needs to drastically shift to incorporate more sustainable farming systems, agroforestry is gaining more and more prominence. It is increasingly promoted by land use managers and international development organizations for its ability to bring both livelihood and environmental benefits, especially in some of the poorest and most degraded areas of the world.

Natural forests are increasingly threatened as populations grow. This pressure can be lifted by growing trees outside forests that provide the same goods and services. For example, thousands of smallholder farmers in Africa, Latin America, and Asia are benefitting from growing superior varieties of indigenous fruit trees to earn extra income. In addition they are increasing on-farm biodiversity.

Trees outside forests also have a role in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Trees store carbon both above and below ground. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "transformation of degraded agricultural lands to agroforestry has far greater potential to sequester carbon than any other managed land use change." Trees help to buffer against the impacts of climate change by reducing erosion and runoff, improving water retention, and providing shade.

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification sees agroforestry as a key to rehabilitating land while generating production and income for land users. And the success of African countries has started to build momentum. Following reforms to the forest code in Niger, for example, farmers have again been cultivating trees and the country has seen a tremendous increase in tree cover on over five million hectares in the past 20 years.

In Senegal, planting strips of Casuarina spp. in the Niayes coastal stretch north of Dakar has stopped the movement of sand dunes and allowed market gardening to thrive. Fertilizer trees that capture nitrogen from the atmosphere and transfer it to the soil provide a low cost way for farmers to improve soil fertility and boost crop yields. In Malawi, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Niger, Burkina Faso, and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, fertilizer trees are doubling and tripling average maize yields. Yet the need to overcome policy constraints in other countries is still holding farmers back from taking full advantage of growing trees on their farms.

Clearly, a new and entirely different agricultural revolution is needed, where farm production is intensified and sustained by maintaining and enhancing the productive capacity of land rather than destroying it in search of short-term gain. In this light, trees have to be part of the future landscape. All branches of governments, development agencies and businesses need to work together in this endeavor, otherwise we cannot remodel our existing, defective agricultural system to meet the pressing needs of the future.


Money corrupts the peer-review process

And it's not only money. I personally place considerable value on peer review as a quality filter -- but only where politics or iconoclastic theories are not involved.

I personally had problems on both fronts, since my work usually led to conclusions uncongenial to the Leftist consensus in the social sciences and was hence both iconoclastic and objectionable. By dint of observing high quality standards I did however get some papers published in peer-reviewed journals.

Most of my papers were however published in journals where the editor was secure enough in his own breadth of relevant knowledge to need little assistance from reviewers -- principally Leonard Doob, Hans Eysenck and Stanley Renshon. Since they all edited widely circulated journals, it is clear that they did not underestimate their editorial expertise. Nonetheless such editors are rare and peer review deserves little respect as an evaluation of politically relevant or iconoclastic papers -- JR

The head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has referred to its work as the gold standard, based on its oft-made claim that it only surveys work published in peer-reviewed professional research papers.

Interestingly, Albert Einstein's famous 1905 paper on relativity was not peer-reviewed. It is therefore quite clear that peer-review is not a precondition for excellent, indeed epoch-making, scientific research.

So what is a peer-reviewed (also termed refereed) research paper?

Peer-review is a technique of quality control for scientific papers that emerged slowly through the 20th century, only achieving a dominant influence in science after the Second World War. The process works like this. A potential scientific author conducts research, writes a paper on his or her results and submits the paper to a professional journal that represents the specialist field of science in question.

The editor of the journal then scan-reads the paper. Based upon his knowledge of the contents of the paper, and of the activities of other scientists in the same research field, the editor selects (usually) two persons, termed referees, to whom he sends the draft manuscript of the paper for review.

Referees, who are unpaid, differ in the amount of time and effort that they devote to their task of review. At one extreme a referee will criticize and correct the writing of a paper in detail, including making comments on the scientific content; at the other extreme, a referee may merely skim-read a paper, ignoring obvious mistakes in writing style or grammar, and make some general comments to the editor about the scientific accuracy, or otherwise, of the draft paper.

Neither type of referee, nor those who lie between, pretend to check either the original data or the detailed statistical calculations (or, today, complex computer modelling) that often form the kernel of a piece of modern scientific research.

Each referee makes a recommendation to the editor as to whether the paper should be published (usually with corrections) or rejected, the editor making the final decision regarding publication based on this advice.

In essence, then, peer-review is a technique of editorial quality control. That a scientific paper has been peer-reviewed is absolutely no guarantee that the science it portrays is correct. Indeed, it is the very nature of scientific research that nearly all scientific papers require later emendation, or reinterpretation, in the light of new discoveries or understanding.

Scientific knowledge, then, is always in a state of flux. Much though bureaucrats and politicians may dislike the thought, there is simply no such thing as "settled science," peer-reviewed or otherwise.

During the latter part of the 20th century, Western governments started channelling large amounts of research money into favoured scientific fields, prime among them global-warming research. This money has a corrupting influence, not least on the peer-review process.

Many scientific journals, including prestigious internationally acclaimed ones, have now become captured by insider groups of leading researchers in particular fields. Researchers who act as editors of journals then select referees from within a closed circle of scientists who work in the same field and share similar views.

The Climategate email leak in 2009 revealed for all to see that this cancerous process is at an advanced stage of development in climate science. A worldwide network of leading climate researchers were revealed to be actively influencing editors and referees to approve for publication only research that supported the IPCC's alarmist view of global warming, and to prevent the publication of alternative or opposing views.

Backed by this malfeasant system, leading researchers who support the IPCC's red-hot view of climate change endlessly promulgate their alarmist recommendations as "based only upon peer-reviewed research papers," as if this were some guarantee of quality or accuracy.

Peer-review, of course, guarantees neither. What matters is not whether a scientific idea or article has been peer-reviewed but whether the science described is right, i.e. accords with empirical evidence.

So what about the much-trumpeted, claimed "gold standard" of strict use of peer review papers by the IPCC? Well, this has been completely exposed by Canadian investigative journalist Donna Laframboise, who showed that an amazing 30% of the articles cited in the definitive [external] Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC were from non-peer-reviewed sources, including such writings as student theses and environmental lobbyist reports.

Therefore, the repetition of the "we-only-use-peer-reviewed-information" mantra that is so favoured by lobbying and government-captive scientific organizations signals not just scientific immaturity but also a lack of confidence, or ability, to assess the scientific arguments about global warming on their own merits and against the empirical evidence.


Former Hot Era fails to confirm conclusions of current climate models

They're being wise after the event but anybody can do that

The Eemian interglacial period that began some 125,000 years ago is often used as a model for contemporary climate change. In the international journal "Geophysical Research Letters" scientists from Mainz, Kiel and Potsdam (Germany) now present evidence that the Eemian differed in essential details from modern climatic conditions.

To address the question about how climate may develop in the future, earth scientists direct their attention to the past. They look for epochs with similar conditions to today. The major identified climatic processes are then simulated with numerical models to further test possible reactions of the Earths' system.

An epoch which is often regarded suitable for such an undertaking is the Eemian warm period, which began around 125,000 years ago following the Saalian ice age. For about 10,000 years, average temperatures on Earth in the Eemian were rather enhanced -- probably several degrees above today's level. This seems to be well documented in both ice cores as well as terrestrial records from land vegetation. Substantial parts of the Greenland ice had melted, and global sea level was higher than today. "Therefore, the Eemian time is suited apparently so well as a basis for the topical issue of climate change," says Dr Henning Bauch, who works for the Academy of the Sciences and the Literature Mainz (AdW Mainz) at GEOMAR | Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel.

However, in a study which appears in the recent issue of the international journal "Geophysical Research Letters" Dr Bauch, Dr Evgeniya Kandiano of GEOMAR as well as Dr Jan Helmke of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam now show that the Eemian warm period differed from the present day situation in one critical aspect -- the development in the Arctic Ocean.

In our current warm period, also called Holocene, oceanic and atmospheric circulation delivers large amounts of heat northward into the high latitudes. The most well known heat conveyer is the Gulf Stream and its northern prolongation called the North Atlantic Drift. The currents provide not only the pleasant temperatures in Northern Europe, they also reach as far as the Arctic. Studies in the last years have shown that the oceanic heat transport to the Arctic has even increased, while the summer sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean seems to be decreasing continuously. It has long been assumed that such conditions also prevailed 125,000 years ago. Accordingly, the Arctic should have been by and large ice-free in the Eemian summers.

Dr Bauch's group examined sediment cores from the seabed in which information about the climate history of the past 500,000 years is stored. These come from the Atlantic to the west of Ireland and from the central Nordic Seas to the east of the island of Jan Mayen. The sediments contain minute calcite tests of dead microorganisms (foraminifers). "The type of species assemblage in the respective layers as well as the isotopic composition of the calcitic tests give us information about temperature and other properties of the water in which they lived at that time," explains Dr Bauch.

The samples from the Atlantic delivered the higher-than-Holocene temperature signals so typical for the Eemian. The tests from the Nordic Seas, however, tell quite another story. "The found foraminifers of Eemian time indicate comparatively cold conditions." The isotope investigations of the tests, in combination with previous studies of the group, "indicate major contrasts between the ocean surfaces of these two regions ," according to Dr Bauch. "Obviously, the warm Atlantic surface current was weaker in the high latitude during the Eemian than today." His explanation: "The Saalian glaciation which preceded the Eemian was of much bigger extent in Northern Europe than during the Weichselian, the ice age period before our present warm interval. Therefore, more fresh water from the melting Saalian ice sheets poured into the Nordic Seas, and for a longer period of time. This situation had three consequences: The oceanic circulation in the north was reduced, and winter sea ice was more likely to form because of lower salinity. At the same time, this situation led to a kind of 'overheating' in the North Atlantic due to a continuing transfer of ocean heat from the south."

On the one hand, the study introduces new views on the Eemian climate. On the other hand, the new results have consequences for climatology in general: "Obviously, some decisive processes in the Eemian ran off differently, like the transfer of ocean warmth towards the Arctic. Models should take this into consideration if they want to forecast the future climate development on the basis of past analogues like the Eemian ," says Dr Bauch.


Hickman on Lovelock

A little while ago I was rather reproving towards Ben Pile over his "intellectual" style of writing -- a style which to an extent obscured an excellent skeptical mind. In a brief resultant correspondence with him he mentioned that his own father had once asked him: "Why use 8 words when 80 would do?". He assured me however that he can write in an easily understandable way when he tries and I think his article below is proof of that

Leo Hickman has an interesting interview with James Lovelock here, and a fuller transcript of their discussion here.

Given that Lovelock predicted in 2006 that by this century’s end “billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable”, this new laissez-faire attitude to our environmental fate smells and sounds like of a screeching handbrake turn.

Indeed, earlier this year he admitted to MSNBC in an interview reported around the world with somewhat mocking headlines along the lines of “Doom-monger recants”, that he had been “extrapolating too far” in reaching such a conclusion and had made a “mistake” in claiming to know with such certainty what will happen to the climate.

But Lovelock is relaxed about how this reversal might be perceived. He says being allowed to change your mind and follow the evidence is one of the liberating marvels of being an independent scientist, something he has revelled in since leaving Nasa, his last full-time employer, in the late 1960s.

This raises some points of discussion that Hickman has in the past shrunk away from, and no doubt, given his green leanings, is made uncomfortable by. Kudos to him for that. But as I pointed out in my review of Mark Lynas’ attempt to reformulate environmentalism, these uncomfortable issues might well have been confronted years ago.

Environmentalism, ignorant to criticism, has thus developed inside an insular, self-regarding bubble. Perhaps only someone from within it could prick that bubble, revealing to its members what those outside it have been telling them for decades.

Lovelock observes, for instance, that environmentalism has developed into something resembling a religion, which is mirrored by a religiosity amongst some sceptics. On the first point, Lovelock is hardly the first to point it out. And though as a description it seems to explain the excesses of environmentalism, it isn’t enough to explain how green thinking developed in this way. And the second point seems to present environmentalists as equal and opposite forces, which is inaccurate, as we know, because ‘scepticism’ simply isn’t a political force — it has very little institutional muscle through which it can assert itself . Similarly, the substance of many arguments on Hickman’s own articles seems to have been that a handful of tiny and barely-funded organisations have been able to thwart the progress of huge NGOs and governments seeking to establish global political institutions to ‘tackle climate change’.

The interview concludes, after Lovelock’s entirely correct pointing out that ‘sustainability’ is a meaningless concept:

Lovelock says he’s doubtful that internationalist efforts of this sort achieve much: “Whenever the UN puts its finger in, it seems to become a mess. The burden of my thoughts are very much that the climate situation is more complex than we at present are capable of handling, or possibly even in the future. You can’t treat it as a scientific problem alone. You have to involve the whole world, and then there’s the time constant of human activity. Look at how long ago the Kyoto treaty was - 15 years ago - and damn all has been done. The human time constant is very slow. You don’t get major changes in under 50-100 years, and climate doesn’t wait for that.”

But the UN’s efforts were never ‘science alone’ and were from the outset a political project, which recruited scientific authority precisely as the political authority of domestic governments waned. This ought to gives us clues, both as to environmentalism’s ascendency, and its religious character. It’s no use pretending now that environmentalism was, from its beginning, a response to science which merely lost its way. The clues are there: Lovelock’s freedom to admit his mistakes are, as he explains, made possible by his freedom from institutional science. The transformation of science — its increasing specialisation, and its shift of focus, away from the material world, onto the organisation of society and formulating the basis of policy — is something which Lovelock seems to recognise as a problem, but is unable to distance himself from:

Lovelock is influenced at present by US biologist EO Wilson and his study of social insects. “He’s come up with an extraordinary theory that the nest is the unit of selection, not the individual insects. That has enormous consequences. Now consider that applied to humans. If we all move into cities, they become the equivalent of a nest. Then another thought comes immediately from that: if that’s the way the flow is going, don’t stop it, let’s encourage it. Instead of trying to save the planet by geo-engineering or whatever, you merely have to air-condition the cities.”

This Logan’s Run vision of the future - where we all live in megacities to better manage dwindling resources - might not appeal to all, he admits. “But you don’t even have to do the experiment. You only have to go to Singapore. You could not have chosen a worse climate in which to build a city. It’s a swamp with temperatures in the 90s every day, and very humid. But it is one of the most successful cities in the world. It seems to me that they are treading the path that we are all going to go. It’s so much cheaper to air-condition the cities and let Gaia take care of the world. It’s a much better route to go than so-called ‘sustainable development’, which is meaningless drivel.”

The idea of cities as ‘nests’, which better enable us to survive nature’s (now mediated, or at lest, deferred) revenge is not a real escape from the ‘Spaceship Earth’ idea of social organisation. Cities were attractive once because they offered many things than amount to a preferable way of life (for most), not simply an escape from nature — whatever her plans. The idea of limited resources still seems to forces us into megacities, whereas a proper break with environmentalism’s precepts would conceive of a future in which we are <i>less</i> bound by material constraints — natural resources and hostile environments — than more so. Cities should develop according to our wishes, not organised around the (myth of the) necessity of survival.There is little reflection, also, in Lovelock’s distancing from his alarmist past. It’s one thing to recognise the excesses of environmental orthodoxy, and its weakening foundation in science. But surely the most interesting thing is how one moves from a perspective in which ‘Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change from radically impacting on our lives over the coming decades‘ and ‘became the Earth’s infection a long and uncertain time ago‘ into one in which environmentalism is seen in as an irrational, inflexible and religious ideology. After all, Lovelock’s comments were related by Hickman just two years ago. Maybe… Just maybe… it was this view of humans — their capacities and moral value — which helps to explain environmentalism. It follows that if you think humans are stupid, and simply a virus, you might not have too much time for nuclear power.


Japan moves closer to restarting nuclear reactors

Germany is now going to look foolish if it persists with its nuclear shutdown. The only tsunami in Germany was a tsunami of hysteria

Japan moved closer to restarting nuclear reactors for the first time since last year's earthquake and tsunami led to a nationwide shutdown after a mayor gave his support Thursday to bringing two of them back online.

All 50 of Japan's workable reactors are offline because of safety concerns or for maintenance since the March 11, 2011, disaster caused radiation leaks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. Public opposition to nuclear power remains high, even though the government has been pressing for the restart of reactors because it says nuclear energy is crucial to Japan's economy.

Power companies have warned of looming shortages, as demand reaches its summer peak.

Work to restart two reactors in the western town of Ohi, which are the first ready to resume generating power, could begin as soon as this weekend now that the mayor signed off on the plan. Once the work begins, it takes about three weeks to get a reactor operating at full capacity.

The governor of Fukui, the prefecture (state) in which Ohi is located, now has to meet with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to inform him that the local governments are willing to accept the restart plan. The prime minister has to give final approval, which Japanese media reports said will likely happen Saturday.

With the high-demand summer months looming, Noda announced last week that he wants to restart Ohi's reactors as soon as possible. He also said he wants to move forward with the restart of other plants as soon as their safety is confirmed.

Before last year's crisis, Japan depended on nuclear for about one-third of its electricity and was planning to expand that further. The government is now carrying out a sweeping review of that plan.

Noda said the government has taken ample measures to ensure the two reactors in Fukui prefecture would not leak radiation if an earthquake or tsunami as severe as last year's should strike them.


Horrors! Grass grows in some parts of Antarctica

The Greenies sure have a lot to worry about

ANTARCTIC scientists are making plans to defend the continent against green alien pests. Believe it or not, green grass does grow on the Antarctic continent and scientists are calling it an alien invasion.

Paddock grasses such as poa annua, or bluegrass, are encroaching on areas that do not have permanent ice and snow cover. And alien flies have been spotted buzzing around.

Australian Antarctic Division Terrestrial biologist Aleks Terauds said such infestations had only been there a few years. Dr Terauds, speaking yesterday at a Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research forum in Hobart, said they along with unwanted micro organisms had been ferried in on the boots and equipment of scientists and tourists.

A team led by Dr Terauds yesterday announced that they had divided the vulnerable areas those with no permanent snow cover, adding up to about two thirds of the size of Tasmania into 15 distinct regions based on location, climate, flora and fauna and geology.

"While quarantine procedures are already in place for intercontinental travel, such as cleaning clothing and equipment before arriving in Antarctica, there are less biosecurity measures for intra-continental movement," Dr Terauds said.

He added that scientists had not ruled out bids to eradicate existing alien populations that could run rampant with global warming.


Australian radio commentator Alan Jones officially censured over perfectly reasonable global warming comments

Since the % of CO2 in the air is in any case tiny and there have always been large natural causes of it, what Jones said was a perfectly reasonable ballpark estimate. ALL estimates involve a large element of guesswork and assumption anyway

In a separate investigation, ACMA also looked into remarks made by Jones on March 15 last year when he told listeners on his breakfast show that "Human beings produce .001 per cent of carbon dioxide in the air."

ACMA found Jones had breached the code of practice when he made no effort to check his claims and 2GB needed to improve its processes for fact-checking or face a licence condition.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


15 June, 2012

Global Warming: Lucky to be Alive – Harder Scrutiny May Kill it Outright

Propagandists behind the idea of man-caused global warming continually frame it as a problem to be solved, not questioned. For the briefest time earlier this spring, they must have been proud to see it portrayed as settled science during a major league baseball game, when announcer Tim McCarver said he believed climactic changes result in thinner air, thus “balls are carrying much better now than I remember.”

McCarver’s outlandish claim quickly blew up because baseball stats can be checked so easily. Home run totals have declined since 2000.

The mainstream media gets away with many other tougher-to-see faults because most people don’t know much about climate science. Smart-sounding scientists and reporters are saying our CO2 emissions are worsening the climate, who are we to question them?

That is precisely what the propagandists fear the most: the public must never see crippling faults in narratives about any facet of the issue. If doubt gets out of control, it’s no less deadly than the loss of confidence that implodes any ponzi scheme. Here, the issue is kept afloat not by infusions of cash, but with ceaseless unquestioned media reports supporting the issue and about allegedly corrupt skeptic scientists.

Ocean acidification caused by CO2 absorption? A melting Arctic, drowning polar bears? Unprecedented extreme weather? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is beyond reproach?

Skeptic scientists and their supporters point to meticulous analysis of faulty IPCC methodology, and to screaming newspaper weather headlines from from long ago, and to the Arctic Ice Cap returning to its 1979-2000 average extent, and the oceans’ current alkalinity, just to name a few contradictions.

But we have a monstrous public disconnect when the mainstream media is a gatekeeper to that information. Why report it when skeptic scientists are corrupt, and nothing they say is worthy of consideration?

With remarks at the White House in March 1995, Al Gore has long insinuated that skeptics operate no differently than ‘expert shills’ paid by the tobacco industry to ‘manufacture doubt’ about cigarette smoking risks. In his 2006 movie, he directly equated a supposedly leaked coal industry memo to the infamous Brown & Williamson Tobacco “Doubt is our Product” memo, yet neither he nor his followers show how scientific doubt about global warming has not existed from the start, or more specifically, that skeptics fabricated demonstratively false climate assessments after receiving industry money.

Despite those two massive faults, Gore’s loyal followers, including many in the mainstream media, rely on this to imply there’s no legitimate scientific criticism worthy of discussion.

Problem is, when anyone digs into the accusation, all they find are bigger problems.

Al Gore says investigative reporter / Pulitzer winner Ross Gelbspan discovered leaked evidence from 1991 coal industry memos ‘proving’ skeptics are corrupt. But Gelbspan never won a Pulitzer and other authors and reporters quoted fragment sentences from those memos prior to Gelbspan’s 1997 book exposé, including Gore’s own 1992 book. Worst of all, no accuser shows the memos in full context, so how are we to know this is no less problematic than the Peter Gleick / Heartland Institute memo controversy four months ago?

Gore equates these coal industry memos to the infamous Brown & Williamson Tobacco “Doubt is our Product” memo, but an actual comparison falls flat. The full context B&W memo is found within seconds on the internet. It took me seven months to find the coal industry memos, but only my articles link to their location at Greenpeace archive scans. Anyone reading them soon sees they are merely a small pilot project PR campaign and not any kind of sinister industry directive.

Skeptic scientists have exposed the IPCC’s faulty science for two decades. Any ordinary citizen can easily spot massive faults in the efforts to smear skeptics.

We don’t need to solve a climate crisis. We instead have a politically-driven agenda begging for a top-to-bottom investigation.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Britain has wettest June since records began

Temperatures up to 10C below normal and sunshine is down 60 per cent

Britain is set to be lashed by 80mph hurricane force winds bringing three months worth of rain over the next three days with forecasters predicting it will be the wettest June since records began.

Emergency services issued a 'major flood event' alert in the South-West and Wales last night with eight inches of rain expected as a massive front of terrible weather sweeps in from the Atlantic.

Forecasters said England and Wales’ appalling June weather is officially the worst since records began more than 100 years ago. The countries are on course for the wettest ever June, temperatures are up to 10C below normal and sunshine is down 60 per cent.

MeteoGroup forecaster Julian Mayes said: 'We cannot find a period of June weather worse than this month since records began. For a 12-day period, it’s as bad as it can be.

'There’s no parallel with this month’s combination of very high rainfall, very low sunshine and very low daytime temperatures.

'The outlook is unsettled and although we don’t yet know for sure if it will be the wettest June, it’s well on the way.'

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said its 650 firefighters and 100 support staff were ready to take flood action. A spokesperson said: 'Ourselves, the police and county council are monitoring the weather forecast and will take appropriate action when needed. We have vast experience dealing with flooding, in particular floods which devastated Cornwall in November 2010.'

When 80mm of rain fell in 24 hours in west Wales last Friday, 150 people were rescued and 850 relocated as 5ft floods swept through caravan parks and villages.

Government forecasters predicted 15-20mm of rain today, plus 70-100mm over higher ground in 48 hours from midnight, with 30-50mm on lower ground.

The Weather Channel forecast more than 100mm on higher ground and warned of a 'major flooding event.' Rivers running off higher ground will fill rapidly.

The fresh deluges will fall on top of 42mm of rain in Culdrose, Cornwall, in 24 hours to 10am yesterday, plus yesterday afternoon’s expected 50-60mm from localised 'torrential downpours.'


Obama’s war on resource industries

As much as President Barack Obama claims to be concerned about jobs for Americans, he has a strange way of showing it.

Three recent actions in Alaska, West Virginia, and Arizona reveal the astonishing ways in which the Obama administration is twisting our nation's environmental laws in order to block natural resource production, and destroy jobs in the process.

On May 11, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released an assessment of the Bristol Bay watershed, an area of approximately 20,000 square miles (roughly twice the size of Maryland) in southwest Alaska.

The assessment is a superficial cut-and-paste job designed to give the EPA a basis for denying a Clean Water Act permit for a major mining project known as the Pebble Mine.

The EPA's watershed assessment concludes that a big mine could lead to the loss of 54 to 88 miles of small streams and 3.9 to 6.7 square miles of wetlands.

The Region 10 administrator claimed that a mine such as Pebble could have an adverse impact, mostly through loss of habitat, on Bristol Bay's salmon fishery, which produces half the world's wild sockeye salmon.

This claim is preposterous. The Bristol Bay watershed has thousands of miles of rivers and streams. A loss of 6.7 square miles of wetlands in a State that has 175,000 square miles of wetlands is not even a drop in the bucket.

The proposed Pebble Mine would be one of the world's largest copper, gold, and molybdenum mines. It would directly employ approximately 1,000 people for at least 30 years in high-paying jobs and indirectly create thousands more manufacturing and service jobs.

The EPA spent less than a year throwing its assessment together.

By contrast, the company developing the Pebble Mine has spent $120 million over the past eight years in commissioning an exhaustive array of environmental studies from top scientists and experts.

In February, they released an environmental baseline document of 27,000 pages.

Yet, the Obama EPA plans to use its sketchy 338-page assessment as the basis for denying a wetlands permit for the Pebble Mine — before the company even applies for it and submits the voluminous documentation required.

Even more mendaciously, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson doesn't pretend to be objective. She was the featured speaker at an anti-Pebble event last year.

The EPA is using similarly outrageous methods to shut down a coal mine in West Virginia. In early May, the Obama administration appealed a federal court decision that blocked the EPA's attempt to revoke a Clean Water Act permit for the mine.

After the Army Corps of Engineers issued the permit in 2007, the Arch Coal Co. began the $250 million investment in the Spruce No. 1 Mine that will eventually employ 250 people.

The mine has been operating for several years, but the EPA wants to shut it down even though it is not claiming that the mine has violated any of the stringent environmental protections required by the permit.

And in Arizona, it's the National Park Service that is out of control. In January, the Park Service announced a 20-year ban on any uranium mining on 1 million acres of federal lands in northern Arizona near Grand Canyon National Park.

An ongoing investigation by the House Natural Resources Committee under Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., recently revealed that the Park Service's estimates of the possible impacts of uranium mining on the Grand Canyon were strongly criticized by one of its own scientists.

In an internal 2011 email, NPS hydro-geologist Larry Martin wrote: "My personal and professional opinion is that the potential impacts stated in the DEIS (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) as grossly overestimated and even then they are very minor and even negligible."

In another email uncovered by the House committee's investigation, Dr. Bill Jackson, chief of the Park Services' Water Resources Division, wrote about Martin's findings: "There exists no information we could find that would contradict his conclusion, nor any hypothesis suggested as to how contamination of park waters might physically occur."

But the Obama administration was determined to ban uranium mining, and Jackson, being a loyal bureaucrat, went on to discuss "the best way to 'finesse' " these inconvenient scientific facts.

As destructive as these three actions are, they are unfortunately not isolated incidents. They are part of a broad campaign to restrict access to oil and natural gas as well as coal and hardrock minerals.

New mining projects could provide a major boost to the economy, but will not do so as long as Congress and the American people allow President Obama to persist in his regulatory onslaught.


Smoke and mirrors in Obama's energy policy

Petroleum is always in the news, especially in an election year, when politicians fear that voters angered by high gas prices will do them in. In addition, much attention has focused on upcoming economic sanctions on imports of Iranian oil (which will soon be imposed by the Europeans) and on financial institutions in other countries that undertake transactions with the Iranian central bank to buy Iranian oil (which will be imposed by the United States) — in the quixotic attempt to get Iran to give up its nuclear program. This nuclear program would provide security and prestige to the radical but unpopular Iranian government. But blocking Iran’s oil from the world market would theoretically tend to reduce the world’s oil supply, thus causing the higher fuel prices that politicians fear most.

To get around this electoral problem and have his cake and eat it too, Obama has gotten a wink and a nod from Saudi Arabia, a major foe of Iran, that the desert kingdom will pump more oil onto the world market to offset the reduction in Iranian oil exports. In the end, however, a worldwide glut of oil may ensue, because trade embargoes, especially those on relatively fungible items like oil, are usually sieves, rife with opportunities for evasion. Iran will discount its oil, making the product difficult to resist for oil-thirsty economies in the industrializing world. Oil tankers will mysteriously change their destinations while at sea. Even prohibitions on financial transactions can be evaded — for example, China, the world’s largest customer for Iranian oil, can use channels to buy such oil that circumvent the Iranian central bank, thus providing a loophole for Chinese financial institutions to avoid being shut out of the U.S. banking system. The probable petroleum glut may become significant when lower demand from a slowing world economy is added to augmented Saudi production and surreptitious Iranian supplies

Severely leaky sanctions that fail to bite economically, however, may be a boon to the Obama administration. Because of the likely oil glut, the oil price will stay low for the election, while Obama retains the symbolism of “doing something” about Iran’s nuclear program.

In another example of the administration’s “smoke and mirrors” in energy policy, it has touted lessening U.S. dependence on foreign oil because of lowered demand from increasing auto fuel efficiency and because of the rapid rise of U.S. oil production (production has risen by a quarter in the last four years). And that is true as far as it goes, which is not far. Net imports of U.S. petroleum have been reduced from about 60% of total consumption in 2005 to just over 40% today. Yet protectionism (euphemistically called “energy security” or “energy independence”) is as economically inefficient in energy as it is in any other product. In a worldwide petroleum market, U.S. companies should buy from the cheapest source, no matter where the oil is produced. In fact, some new U.S. production may be sold overseas.

Even with American demand declining and domestic production increasing, however, it is unlikely that the United States will become energy independent anytime soon. Although this goal is one of the few things that both political parties can agree on, it is a canard and is not even desirable. No one ever tells American voters and consumers that energy independence, even if possible, would cost them dearly in inefficiency-induced price increases. Technology has increased U.S. production, but many overseas sources of oil are still cheaper than such domestic drilling.

Even for those politicians unable to shake the erroneous notion that oil is a “strategic” commodity coming to the United States from dangerous or unfriendly Middle Eastern countries, increased production in Brazil and from Canadian tar sands will render this notion obsolete. Contrary to popular belief, the United States doesn’t currently import that much of its oil from the Persian Gulf and will likely import less in the future as production in the United States and Western Hemisphere rises.


UN Climate Scientists Plead for Immunity from Criminal Prosecution

Who are the real flat-earthers?

Climate researchers working for the United Nations have issued an astonishing plea for immunity from prosecution. Government-funded personnel sought the ruling on the eve of the latest round of climate talks scheduled for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (June 20, 2012).

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) issued it’s formal request for immunity from prosecution that includes researchers providing “evidence” supportive of the man-made global warming scare story. The perplexing plea will likely reverberate throughout the general scientific community as further affirmation that many climate scientists were not conducting honest research after all. John Bolton, a former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, questioned the motives, “The creeping expansion of claims for privileges and immunities protection for UN activities is symptomatic of a larger problem.”

High Price of Get Out of Jail Free Card

Especially worrisome is that in conjunction with the application for a sweeping “get out of jail free card” for all it’s scientists the UNFCCC is promoting a mammoth Green Climate Fund, intended to help mobilize as much as $100 billion a year for projects to lower global greenhouse gases. At the Rio conference the UN plans to trumpet a new draft planning and agenda document, “The Future We Want,” that will compel American families to pay $1,325 per year to “stop” climate change.

Bolton, alongside many savvy taxpayers, is right to worry when such an organization seeking to manage a $100 billion a year fund based on dodgy science is at the same time demanding immunity from prosecution. Can you think of a better recipe for corruption?

Worse yet, climatologists have never provided any credible evidence to back their doomsaying claims that Earth’s climate is ‘catastrophically’ warming due to human emissions of carbon dioxide. Indeed, if anything the most telling graph of U.S. temperatures, as per the latest NOAA/NCDC temperature dataset, shows cooling for the last 15 years (H/T: C3Headlines). Regardless of all such facts the Obama Administration strongly supports the Green Climate Fund and its tax-hiking objective.

Climate Fraud Akin to Banking Fraud?

But critics argue the worst crime has been inflicted upon the poorest among us. The least well off in our communities have been hit hardest by increased food and energy prices – all at a time when well-funded climatologists continue to oppose any and all independent auditing of their computer climate models. It is little wonder such ‘scientists’ are increasingly cast in the same shadow as Wall Street banksters. Worse still, latest evidence from independent researchers here, here and here suggests the greenhouse gas effect (GHE), the very cornerstone of global warming science, is also discredited.

We are seeing an increasing number of scientists insisting that it is not possible for CO2 - or any so-called “greenhouse” gas - to “trap” energy in Earth’s atmosphere – one of the most often cited claims of global warming alarmists. Critics of the GHE say the latest findings comport with satellite data and indicate that Earth emits as much infrared heat as it receives from the sun and thereby proves there is no magical atmospheric effect in play making our planet warmer than it would otherwise be. Despite these new findings dozens of government agencies aren’t interested in addressing the scientific flaws. Instead they remain firmly clamped to the teat of the climate cash cow while issuing crass statements that our atmosphere actually does act “like a greenhouse.”

Shamelessly, the sham is sustained wholesale in those well funded institutions that despite billions in funding are still using computer programs that model Earth as a flat disk lit by constant and frigid twilight. This government “flat earth modeling technique” has persisted since the early 1980′s when computers had far less processing power than today. But by sticking to their now antiquated calculating method a small and diminishing clique of climatologists think they can still get away with a fudge factor in their calculations that accounts for the additional heat they say is the “trapped” energy of the GHE.

For too long the tight-knit climate science community has been conducting a phony debate that never questions the so-called “settled science” of the GHE and only disputes the amount of warming from CO2 – a monumental intellectual travesty. But 21st Century satellite and computing power is leaving the charlatans with no room to hide their bad accounting practices.

Adept critics say that by sticking to their outmoded flat earth physics formula climatologists thus avoid the otherwise inconvenient fact that the sun actually shines on only half the planet. Is this important? Yes, because by continuing to treat Earth as if it were a flat disk is a needless statistical anomaly (or perhaps a deliberate trick?) in our age of super computers that merely serves to hide the fact that all gases in our atmosphere help to distribute solar energy around the globe and thus cool our planet. Without such gases the sun-facing side of our earth would become unbearably hot and the dark-side of our earth would be unbearably cold; an undeniable moderating effect by those gases (including carbon dioxide) that counters the pseudo scientific claims of the UN that more CO2 in the atmosphere results in more warming.

As eminent South African professor, Will Alexander recently stated (14 May 2012):

“The real tragedy is that the global warming community have showed no signs of changing their ways and entering into multidisciplinary discussions in a field where they have neither knowledge nor experience. Do they not realise that they have antagonised those of us in the engineering and applied sciences to the extent that we no longer trust their motives based on their attempts to silence all those who have contrarian views, and their deliberate departures from the truth?“

Freethinkers Oppose Flat Earth Climate Physics

Independent scientists such as those at Principia Scientific International (PSI) echo Professor Alexander’s words. It is concerned specialists from outside scientific disciplines and better skilled in math and thermodynamics who are the most outspoken. They say there is no excuse for the continued use of any computer model that treats Earth as a flat disk. They argue it is this ‘flat Earth physics,’ left uncorrected for so long, that has grown like a cancer infecting all corners of the infant science of ‘climatology.’

Now the penny drops with the UNFCCC. They understand that climate scientists have failed to prove their man-made global hypothesis and are facing increased legal scrutiny. Lawyers are sharpening their legal minds to dissect from the UN’s bloated climate science body the malignant tumor of man-made global warming. If the UNFCCC legal immunity gambit can be resisted we may yet see criminal prosecutions for the worst offenders in the climate fraud.

Regardless of any such remedy Third World starvation - a byproduct of asinine international climate policy over biofuels – will further increase as basic food staples continue to disappear. Such “progress” inflicted on us by the climate strategists to needlessly cut carbon emissions, has already accounted for the irrecoverable loss of six percent of all arable land. Thanks to the greed and hubris of a rich elite eager to profit from trade in carbon credits, global hunger skyrockets unabated and the masses remain otherwise duped by a dilettante mainstream media that still wants to believe it was for the noble cause of “sustainability” and “saving the planet.”

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Huge Australian marine reserve under fire

THE Coalition has promised to review the world's largest single marine reserve off the Queensland coast and warned it would cost Labor seats at the next election.

The Federal Government's 3.1 million sq km national marine reserve, stretching from the tip of Cape York to near Bundaberg, was yesterday welcomed by the tourism industry and environmentalists but slammed by fishing groups.

Nationals Senator Ron Boswell said the reserves would cost Labor marginal seats and the Coalition would review the network, which including about one million sq km of the Coral Sea off Queensland.

But federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said Labor was confident the issue would not prove political poison.

He said virtually all concerns of amateur fishers had been met by providing a large area outside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park for fishing.

Conceding long-line fishers would be the worst affected, Mr Burke said boundaries had been drawn to follow the shape of reefs - a bonus for charter boats and divers, although it would affect spear fishers. About $100 million would be needed to pay out fishermen nationally.

The proposal has angered commercial fishermen, who have warned the decision will shut down business and cost Australians more to buy their favourite seafood imported from China or Vietnam.

The Australian Marine Alliance released a cost-benefit analysis saying it would devastate the country's coastal communities at a $4.35 billion cost and hit 36,000 jobs for "little if any environmental benefit".

In Cairns alone, charter boat operators, game boats, aquarium collectors, spearfishing tours and commercial fisherman estimate it will cost them up to $60 million.

Skipper Graham Johnstone, who headlined the infamous Marlin Wars of the late 1970s, declared the industry would be "back on the warpath". "They think we are a soft touch," said Mr Johnston, one of the pioneers of the north's promotion as an international mecca for black marlin fishing. "We are looking into an abyss and we will not accept them meddling in our affairs."

Daniel McCarthy, president of the Cairns Professional Gamefishing Association, said members felt hijacked by the green lobby in Canberra. "What are we protecting it from?" Mr McCarthy said. "It is not about protection but about exclusion. "It'll end up a huge fattening paddock for poachers."

Queensland Tourism Industry Council chief executive Daniel Gschwind said most concerns on better protection of reefs, dive sites and game boat access had been met and this was welcome.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


14 June, 2012

Corrupt Elites Discredit Science

The article below is very cautious -- not mentioning Climategate and its subsequent whitewashes, for instance -- but still makes a good point

Reports that the public is losing “faith in science” have caused a lot of chin stroking, head wagging and even some and finger pointing among the intelligentsia — especially since the studies point to a particularly sharp decline among conservatives.

Via Meadia isn’t so sure all this is on the right; the last time we looked, environmentalists around the world were denouncing decades of careful scientific research on the safety of genetically modified organisms, with dire economic consequences for African development. We’ve also noticed a distinct lack of faith in arithmetic by blue politicians who think that promising large pensions to union workers while failing to set money aside to pay those promises is a course of action that can somehow end well.

There is no sport intellectual elites enjoy more than recounting and bewailing the follies and errors of the Great Unwashed out there in flyover land, so in the academy and elsewhere the story of declining confidence in science is seen as reflecting a declining confidence in reason itself — and evidence of the rising tide of stupidity against which we enlightened few must ceaselessly battle.

But are things really so simple? Some of the skepticism is skepticism of journalism rather than skepticism of science proper, and it is heartily deserved. The legacy media loves to report sensational conclusions based on tentative research, and is usually much less careful than scientists about qualifying and conditioning its reports. Every rat that lives another week is reported as a breakthrough and a possible cancer cure; I have lost track of how many news reports I have seen over the years promising cures for everything from obesity to Alzheimer’s.

And there is also the problem of hactivism: people so devoted to some great cause (often environmental) that they twist, distort and overstate scientific conclusions to score points. One can never forget in this context the ineffable Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN’s climate panel, who notoriously scorned opponents as “voodoo scientists” because they refused to swallow his bogus claims about Himalayan glacier shrinkage. There are a lot of people out there who aren’t skeptical about science per se, but are increasingly skeptical about the abuse of science at the hands of pamphleteers and cause junkies.

But unfortunately, something more is at work. Back in May 2011, Harvard University was rocked by the scandal of Professor Marc Hauser. A decorated senior scientist consistently voted one of the most popular professors by students, Hauser was the director of the university’s Mind, Brain and Behavior program and a trailblazer in the field of evolutionary psychology. He was also a fraud who falsified data in his experiments and was ultimately outed by his own graduate students. When the truth came out, he was barred from teaching and resigned from Harvard in disgrace.

Hauser’s case was far from an isolated incident. Seven months later, the New York Times reported on the corruption of noted Netherlands psychologist Diederik Stapel, who managed to mislead the top scientific journals and bamboozle the best science reporters (including those at the Times) with article after article of fraudulent findings:
A well-known psychologist in the Netherlands whose work has been published widely in professional journals falsified data and made up entire experiments, an investigating committee has found…

The psychologist, Diederik Stapel, of Tilburg University, committed academic fraud in “several dozen” published papers, many accepted in respected journals and reported in the news media, according to a report released on Monday by the three Dutch institutions where he has worked: the University of Groningen, the University of Amsterdam, and Tilburg…

More than a dozen doctoral theses that he oversaw are also questionable, the investigators concluded, after interviewing former students, co-authors and colleagues. Dr. Stapel has published about 150 papers, many of which … seem devised to make a splash in the media.

The Times contextualized this incident in a broader, disturbing context:
The scandal, involving about a decade of work, is the latest in a string of embarrassments in a field that critics and statisticians say badly needs to overhaul how it treats research results. In recent years, psychologists have reported a raft of findings on race biases, brain imaging and even extrasensory perception that have not stood up to scrutiny. Outright fraud may be rare, these experts say, but they contend that Dr. Stapel took advantage of a system that allows researchers to operate in near secrecy and massage data to find what they want to find, without much fear of being challenged.

“The big problem is that the culture is such that researchers spin their work in a way that tells a prettier story than what they really found,” said Jonathan Schooler, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It’s almost like everyone is on steroids, and to compete you have to take steroids as well.”

Corrupt, incompetent scientists? Lax research standards? Systemically flawed peer review processes? These problems, alas, are anything but rare. Stories like Stapel’s, plus reports on the findings of the evidence-based medicine movement about the unreliability of much medical science, and studies like Leslie John’s in Psychological Science (which revealed that the vast majority of psychologists engaged in questionable research practices and that one in ten falsified data)–not to mention the various alarmist exaggerations of some climate researchers–demonstrate that in many cases scientists have no one but themselves to blame for the loss of public faith in their work. Through laziness, politicization of findings, and outright falsification, the practitioners of some of our most important sciences have discredited their disciplines. Every Stapel and Hauser strengthens the voices of science skeptics — and rightly so.

Oh, and there’s another little problem: economics. Of all the social sciences, economics enjoys the most prestige in the academy and in the broader world outside. Yet ever since 2008 there has been a marked drop-off in the public’s confidence that the discipline of economics is producing useful findings. At any given moment qualified, credentialed and well known economists can be found supporting almost any policy option you can think of: is skepticism about the large claims economists make for their discipline really the mark of an unevolved mind?

This is a sad state of affairs. The questions being asked in the so-called soft sciences go to the heart of who we are as human beings–how we make moral decisions, what subconscious biases underlie our conscious actions, and how our mental landscape affects the way we perceive the world around us. These are crucial questions that science should investigate. But when scientific data becomes putty in the hands of unscrupulous researchers seeking not enlightenment but personal or political advancement, its entire foundation and rationale is undermined. And that too often is where we find ourselves today.

Serious soul-searching and house-cleaning must take place if the academy is to rehabilitate its reputation. Standards must be tightened, publication of experimental data must be made mandatory and peer review in the soft sciences must mean something. We hope that the documented loss of public trust in science serves as the much-needed wake-up call for reform, because until our elites acknowledge that they have a problem, there can be no solution. That acknowledgement begins with the acceptance of a truth as simple as it is deeply disquieting:

Marc Hauser wasn’t some kind of one in a million exception. He just got caught.


Warming causes cold! You can't lose when you are a Warmist

Charles Greene of Cornell has concluded that:
"Greene’s paper describes a key determinant of the Northern Hemisphere’s winter weather: the Arctic Oscillation. When that is in its positive phase, a strong set of winds called the Polar Vortex forms. These winds help trap Arctic air masses at the pole, keeping the cold out of the mid-latitudes. This also allows the jet stream to take a more direct route around the globe, moderating the weather.

But over the last few years, the Oscillation has been strongly negative; in fact, in 2010, we saw a record for the most strongly negative period we’d ever recorded. During this phase, the winds of the Polar Vortex weaken, allowing the cold Arctic air to intrude or mix into the air at lower latitudes. As a result of this, Greene told Ars two things happen to the jet stream: it gets substantially weaker, and it tends to meander widely from north to south as it traverses the globe. This can lead to the severe chills the US and Europe have experienced over the past several winters, but the meandering jet stream can also draw warmer southern air north, as happened in the US this spring.

I would go further. These cold outbreaks “use up” the cold pool, allowing the atmosphere to recover from the winter more rapidly. So an extraordinarily warm spring somewhere in the middle latitudes is doubly likely.


A Warmist fesses up

A few weeks back, I wrote up a story that purported to unveil a conspiracy between nationwide Tea Party groups and clean energy foes to coordinate a grassroots opposition to wind power projects across the country. The newspaper had gotten access to a confidential document that appeared to outline a PR strategy for coordinating opposition to clean energy projects. This document had supposedly been presented at a meeting in D.C. attended by representatives of various conservative groups. And it did indeed seem to offer a roadmap for how best to get folks to rally against wind power.

But here's the thing. John Droz Jr., who organized the meeting, contacted me shortly after I published my piece. The document in question was never discussed at the meeting, he said, and nor has it been since. And it wasn't written by him, as had been alleged. It was written by Rich Porter, a member of Wind Watch, a group that opposes wind turbines. It was submitted for consideration, but wasn't ever tackled.

"I had planned that it would be one of many items we would talk about, but (as fate would have it) we ran out of time and never discussed this document. It stands now as it did initially: the opinions of one person," Droz wrote.

Now, we emailed back and forth a number of times, and Droz ardently responded to my many questions. I think it fair that he tell his side of the story. So, I'm going to reprint his rebuttal to my (and the Guardian's) earlier post on the topic, where he says I printed numerous mistakes.

"As I just wrote, the conspiracy story is 100% false," he writes. He goes on to list the other other fallacies he says that I printed in my post:
a) That this was an attack on Obama's energy policy. Fact: Obama and his energy policy were never mentioned.

b) "A network of ultra-conservative groups is ramping up an offensive". Fact: we were individual citizens. No groups were invited or participated.

c) "The strategy proposal was prepared by a fellow of the American Tradition Institute (ATI)". Fact: the document was prepared by another US citizen, not me.

d) "The proposal was discussed at a meeting". Fact: the document was not discussed at the meeting.

e) "These documents show for the first time that local NIMBY anti-wind groups are co-ordinating and working with national fossil-fuel funded advocacy groups..." Fact: 100% false.

f) "Their main priority was co-ordinating PR strategy. "Our No 1 reason for getting together was to talk about whether there was agreement with a common message."" Fact: the Guardian writer contradicted herself here. The second sentence is accurate, yet it conflicts with what she wrote in the first one. "PR strategy" is methodology. That is a completely different matter from "message". Our primary objective was to assure that we were on the same page about the message, not PR.

g) "But conservative activists describe the ramp-up as critical to the effort to defeat Obama in the elections." Fact: False for us. We are an apolitical collection of citizens.

h) "More than 30 local wind farm opponents, all selected by Droz, came to Washington at his invitation." Fact: There were 20 attendees.

i) "Participants included members of conservative groups such as Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow " Fact: There were also participants that belonged to many other groups, like Audubon. How come Audubon wasn't listed as part of this fabricated conspiracy?

j) "Since the meeting, participants have pooled efforts to make phone calls and send email to members of Congress." Fact: False. We have made no phone calls or emails since the meeting.

Meanwhile, he says, there was no fossil fuel funding for the meeting—it was convened by him, and he says that he's never once received money from the fossil fuel industry. "In the 30+ years I have worked on environmental and energy matters, I have not received compensation from anyone, anywhere," he writes.

Now, it's clear that the meeting was indeed convened to discuss if and how to promote a common message opposing wind power. In my eyes, my initial post wasn't completely wrong—these are indeed individuals, who belong to various groups, who have a common interest in opposing wind power projects. They were discussing strategy. And I think it's fair to report on such meetings taking place—just like it's fair to report on strategy meetings at Netroots Nation or other progressive gatherings. But I regret the conspiratorial angle, and for unduly assigning so much meaning to one strategy document without considering its background.

I may disagree with Droz on numerable counts, but, especially with climate and energy issues, it's important to confer with those we disagree—there's much to be learned. I've spilled tons of negative ink about efforts to roll back environmental protections, to kill the climate bill, about the Tea Party and other groups that oppose clean energy-friendly policies. And I've never gotten such an in-depth response, or engaged in such a spirited back and forth like this.

The bottom line is this: Droz opposes clean energy (which he repeatedly says is nothing more than "a marketing term") because he believes it "has no scientific basis," not because he's paid to. He's passionate about the issue. The debate, in other words, is more complicated than we'd sometimes like to let on.


Some of the Warmists' favourite places: Iran, North Korea, Sudan

The U.N. is funneling millions of dollars worth of tradable carbon credits to corrupt nations worldwide, including Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Uzbekistan in an attempt to encourage clean energy projects in the developing world.

The U.N. Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is defined in Article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol. Western European countries fund energy projects in the developing world in order to obtain Certified Emission Reduction credits (CERs), tradable credits that enable Europeans to count foreign emission reductions towards their own domestic emission reduction targets.

“The CDM started from a page and a half in the Kyoto Protocol,” said David Abbass, a spokesperson for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. “In the beginning they thought there would be maybe 600 projects, but now there are over 4,000 projects.”

Iran, Uzbekistan, Sudan, and North Korea are among the more than 70 countries currently hosting CDM projects.

Iran, with 16 separate CDM projects, brings in around 4.8 million CERs, worth about $26 million, every year, despite numerous U.N. sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Uzbekistan, dominated for the last two decades by the autocratic Islam Karimov, hosts 20 different CDM projects, with a combined annual value of over 7.5 million CERs, or roughly $40 million.

Sudan, whose president Omar Hassan al-Bashir came to power via military coup over 20 years ago and is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Darfur, is on the receiving end of two different CDM projects, with a combined annual value of over 180,000 CERs, or almost $1 million.

North Korea is hosting seven hydroelectric dams, which may generate over $1 million in CERs annually.

North Korea, Sudan, and Uzbekistan are among the 10 most corrupt nations worldwide, according to Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index.

It is unsurprising that North Korea is using U.N. money to develop its own infrastructure, said Claudia Rosett, journalist-in-residence at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“One of the first questions with any U.N. program is, ‘Who is overseeing this?’” said Rosett. “Very often no one is.”

The worldwide expansion of the CDM has been accompanied by “troubling stories in various countries,” said Abbass. “When you have over 4,000 projects, you’ll have some projects in areas in dispute.” “We learn by doing,” he said. “We’re fixing as we go.”

CDM support is open to any country with the appropriate bureaucratic machinery in place. Abbass maintained that the CDM is not concerned with human rights issues and that the Kyoto Protocol merely set up the system—individual projects “come from interest in the private sector.”

The program was born of European self-righteousness, said Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. European governments have staked their reputations on environmental issues, but cannot meet emission reduction targets on their own, he said.

Europeans therefore “buy phony reductions” through the CDM, said Horner.

“Europeans basically say to the developing world, ‘I’ll pay you not to treat this byproduct as a waste product,’” said Horner, referring to numerous CDM projects that focus on reducing perceived waste in the developing world, from natural gas flaring to the release of methane from farm animals.

More than 83 percent of CDM projects are based in Asia, while Africa and the Caribbean account for a tiny fraction of CDM projects, according to U.N.F.C.C.C. data.

CDM projects are concentrated in Asia due to the disastrous environmental effects of communism and the bureaucratic savvy of China, experts say.

“Communism created the most intensely wasteful society the world has ever seen,” said Horner, explaining why former Soviet states in Central Asia such as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan receive substantial support from the CDM.

The Chinese government, an aggressive host for CDM projects, has manipulated the system, going so far as to re-open defunct factories in order to get Europeans to pay them to close them again.

The Chinese are adept at twisting the “mandated inefficiency” of CDM projects to their own benefit, said Horner.

Haiti has set up the bureaucratic mechanisms required to host CDM projects, but is currently sponsoring zero projects.

Dorine Jean-Paul, an energy specialist at Haiti’s Ministry of Environment, decried a lack of support from the U.N.

“I believe the U.N. is not helping the countries that need it the most,” said Jean-Paul. “Besides some training sessions that are organized with the U.N. support in the [Latin American and Caribbean] region, we don’t get assistance or funds for a specific and national identified need.”

Abbass acknowledged that CDM projects are concentrated in Asia, and said the under-representation of Africa and the Caribbean might be addressed at the upcoming Rio +20 conference.

But he also noted that any substantial changes to the CDM could be a long time coming.


The Feds Retaliate Against Advisory Board Warning About Renewables Endangering the Electric Grid

Imagine if some obscure trading desk within J.P. Morgan had tried to warn Jamie Dimon about corporate malfeasance—or perhaps a risky investment—and it turned out he tried to shut up the whistleblower. We'd never hear the end of it. Somehow the same norms don't apply in government, as shown by a federal energy regulator's reprisals against an independent advisory body.

The target is the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, or NERC, and its crime is scrutinizing the Obama Administration's anticarbon agenda. This highly respected nonprofit has monitored the power system since the 1960s and establishes best practices to keep the lights on. In 2005, Congress gave NERC a formal role as adviser. But now it may be defrocked for questioning the "pace and aggressiveness" of the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory wave in a 2010 report.

NERC's position is that the EPA goal of mothballing many or most coal-fired power plants could endanger the security of the electric-power grid, with possible blackouts and much higher energy costs. In a follow-up report last year it found that "Environmental regulations are shown to be the number one risk to reliability over the next one to five years."

Apparently that was too honest for Washington. Earlier this month the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission disclosed that it has spent months conducting a highly unusual audit of NERC. The commission oversees NERC under the 2005 law, so it has every right to check its practices. But this probe exceeded normal auditing standards and was a free-floating investigation into NERC's "economy and efficiency," whatever that means. It didn't find any rule-breaking.

Instead, the auditors question NERC's focus and statutory responsibilities, concluding that it "may have exceeded the functions" Congress intended for a reliability organization. Never mind that NERC has been doing the same job for decades and its integrity hasn't been questioned. The feds also complain about NERC's "periodic reliability assessments," otherwise considered the gold standard. They say this role "should be revisited."

In other words, the energy G-men think NERC should help protect reliability without studying the actual threats to reliability. This may be intimidation to get NERC to tone down its candor, or it could be a prelude to decertifying NERC to silence a troublesome critic. NERC tried to compromise on some of the audit's proposals while protecting its core duties, but the feds are now litigating to impose them.

The back story is that Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff is an EPA wingman and President Obama ally. He has told the trade press that he has "some real, real, real serious issues with respect to the functioning of NERC," without details, and he launched the audit on his own personal authority as boss. It's especially notable that Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur—an Obama appointee—attacked the move as "inconsistent with Commission regulations" and said it should have been put to a vote.

Bureaucratic infighting is an eternal reality of government, but Congress should ask Mr. Wellinghoff what he has to fear from honest counsel.


Inhofe alleges propaganda tactics in ‘Big Green Environmental Handbook’

Nothing is off limits when it comes to the Environmental Protection Agency’s “war on coal,” including activists’ use of children as props to reach their ends, according to Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe.

During a Tuesday afternoon floor speech urging members to pass his resolution of disapproval to stop the EPA from implementing its Utility MACT standards — designed to reduce emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), which Republicans argue will result in increased energy costs and coal plant closures — Inhofe highlighted recent guidance from the US Climate Action Network detailing to activists how to best pull at America’s heart-strings and demonize coal during public hearings.

According to the document, opponents of coal are encouraged activists to bring young children to at least two public hearings in Washington, D.C. and Chicago as visual props for testimony.

“Holding your baby with you at the podium, or pushing them in strollers, baby car seats, baby-bjorns. Older children also welcome,” the directive, titled “US EPA Carbon Pollution Standard Public Hearings How To Prepare My Testimony” explained. Among other desired props are, “asthma inhalers, medicine bottles, healthcare bills, and medication for air-toxics related illnesses.”

Based on the Sierra Club’s own recount and pictures of the event, participants followed the document’s advice.

“While activists rallied outside, hundreds of people packed the rooms in Chicago’s Metcalfe Federal Building and EPA Headquarters in Washington, including moms with small children, sportsmen in camouflage, and activists with signs and banners,” the May 24th Sierra Club post reads.

Inhofe argued that it is tactics like this which show the anti-coal advocates cannot argue on the merits.
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“EPA and their Big Green allies can’t tell the public the truth that they are crucifying oil and gas companies or that their efforts to kill coal will be ‘painful every step of the way.’ So they have been deceiving the public with talking points from their playbook,” he said referring to the document — alleging that Democratic members likely got the memo as well.

“My good friend, Senator Boxer, must have gotten this memo, as it is not unusual to see her on the Senate floor with a visual of a little child holding an asthma inhaler,” he said. “And Senator Boxer isn’t alone – we’ve seen these visuals from many of our friends on the other side of the aisle.”

Inhofe added that as his vote becomes more imminent there will be more images of suffering children.

“Get ready to see lots of pictures of babies and children wearing inhalers. But these are the same members who voted against my Clear Skies bill that would have given us a 70% percent reduction in [sulfur oxide], [nitrogen oxide] and mercury by 2018,” he said.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


13 June, 2012

Commonsense wisdom from African farmers

They know “sustainable development” really means sustained poverty and malnutrition

By Kelvin Kemm (Dr Kelvin Kemm is a nuclear physicist and business strategy consultant in Pretoria, South Africa)

If you want to learn what farmers think (and need), talk to African farmers – not to bureaucrats, environmental activists or politicos at the Rio+20 United Nations summit in Rio de Janeiro. You’ll get very different, far more honest and thoughtful perspectives.

The recent (May 24) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network conference in Pretoria, South Africa brought together delegates from agricultural communities in many African countries. FANRPAN’s primary objective is to improve food security in Africa, by ensuring that small-scale farmers can become more productive. Their obvious enthusiasm and commonsense views were heartening.

FANRPAN chair Sindiso Ngwenya of Zambia gave an incisive presentation, pointing out that agriculture is the key to reducing poverty and ensuring food security in Africa. “We call upon the world to assist us,” he said, “not by treating us as beggars, but by treating us as equals.”

Ngwenya criticised many First World attempts to use climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development arguments to prevent African agriculture from advancing. “If you are using implements that were there before Christ, how much chance do you have?” he wanted to know.

And why would anyone think these UN-EU-US issues are important to African farmers and families who are trying to feed their families and neighbors, and improve their living standards by exporting their products?

Africa does not need foreign aid in the form of handouts, Ngwenya emphasized. African farmers need modern technology and reliable, affordable electricity. They need the world to buy African produce. Instead, far too often, European and other First World countries impose rules or block African exports, using a multitude of excuses that can no longer be tolerated.

FANRPAN has decided to go “Africa-wide,” Ngwenya announced. Africa is huge –larger than the United States, China, India and Europe combined. And yet 60% of its arable land is not used at all. On the arable land that is used in most African countries, crop yields are typically a quarter of the norm in South Africa. What’s needed, he said, are modern farming methods, seeds, fertilizers and equipment –at the level of every individual farmer.

Referring to the 2011 COP-17 world environment congress in Durban, South Africa, Ngwenya pointed out that the FANRPAN slogan is “No agriculture, no deal.” However, agriculture, and particularly the advancement of rural African agriculture, was not included in past COP objectives. Many delegates criticised this, saying it reflected the First World’s hope that Africa and African agriculture will remain primitive and underdeveloped, so that rich countries can praise Africans for being “sustainable” and protecting the planet.

Africans are being told by First World activists, politicians and pressure groups to “stay in tune with nature,” delegates noted – when this attitude really reflects a well-fed First World’s maneuver to retard African agricultural improvements.

When it came to the eternal climate change saga, FRANRPAN delegates emphasized “climate-smart agriculture” and noted that Africa has always experienced dramatic weather and climate variations. What’s needed now, they stresse, is sensible, fact-based science, to predict and adapt to local and regional climate cycles and variations.

Equally impressive was learning that a group of small-scale farmers from Burkino Faso had paid their own way to attend a meeting in Windhoek, Namibia, nearly 3,000 miles (4,500 kilometers) away, to present a petition calling for the development of evidence-based policies, to replace what to now have been emotional, harmful and oppressive policies, rules and treaties.

The delegates said they were tired of the First World telling them what to do, based on First World interests and perceptions. They understand all too well that calls for “sustainable development,” “biodiversity” and climate change “prevention” really mean demands for policies and practices that ensure sustained poverty and malnutrition.

FRANRPAN CEO Dr. Lindiwe Sibanda emphasized that the real work is done on the ground, at the level of individual countries – and “policy comes from people.” Individual countries must come to their own conclusions about what works for them, and countries must align their policies to ensure food security for their people, she said. Modern methods and technologies are also required, to enhance intra-Africa food trade and enable countries to export what they are good at producing.

Her enthusiasm was praised by a farmer who spoke from the floor, with a strong French accent. “There’s a lack of resources for small farmers to come here,” he said, even for important meetings like this, but he was glad he had spent the time and money to be there. Certainly, those that did attend exhibited enough excitement and enthusiasm for the millions who could not join them.

Chairman Ngwenya wrapped up the proceedings by criticising the apparently intentional side-stepping of agricultural issues during COP-17. The First World must stop impeding African farmers and end “the paralysis by analysis,” he said. Absolutely right.

There is far too much First World smoke and mirrors, telling Africans they are saving the planet – when the real intention is to stop them from acquiring modern technology and electricity that would allow them to surge to middle class or even rich country status.

This FANRPAN conference serves notice to the United Nations Environment Programme, Rio+20 Sustainable Development Summit, Europe, United States and other obstructionists that Africa has caught on to what they are doing – and is no longer willing to play their game.

That’s good news for every African, Asian, Latin American and other poor family that wants to eat better, live better and have the freedom to pursue their dreams.

Received via email

It's raining, it's pouring, that'll be the global warming...

Background: Britain has just had what they call a "drought" (it still rains in British droughts) and the doomsters made the most of it. But in accord with the normal fluctuations of British weather Britain is now having huge downpours of rain, with resultant floods in some places

By Richard Littlejohn, commenting from England

Bill Giles, the nation’s favourite weatherman was in no doubt. Britain was burning up. Within 20 years, Dundee would soon be as balmy as Berkshire. France would be virtually uninhabitable, as the Dordogne turned into a desert.

So convinced was Bill by the imminent threat of global warming that he was ripping up his English country garden in Oxfordshire and planting olive trees instead. That was back in 1996.

To be fair to Bill, he wasn’t the only one suckered by the great global warming scam, although as a qualified meteorologist he should have known better. For the past 15 years we have been bombarded with ever more hysterical predictions about the momentous effect ‘man-made’ global warming would have on Britain.

There would be grapevines growing in the Pennines; the Midlands would resemble a Grapes of Wrath-style dustbowl; and in Torquay, giant wildebeest would sweep majestically across the veldt . . . 

Unfortunately for these alarmists, the weather has continued to have other ideas. If the warmists were right, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee would have been blessed with continuous, scorching sunshine and half the country wouldn’t be under three feet of water right now.

Britain’s weather has always been unpredictable. You might have thought they’d have got the message when snow fell in October 2008 on the very day the ‘Climate Change’ Bill was being debated in the House of Commons.

But, then again, you might just as well try to convince an Islamist suicide bomber that if he’s expecting to be greeted in Paradise by 72 virgins, there’s an outside possibility he may be disappointed.

G.K. Chesterton wrote memorably that when people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything. Never has that been more true than in the case of those who worship at the altar of global warming. Even though temperatures peaked in 1998 and the world has been getting colder ever since, the warmists refuse to be deflected from their conviction that the planet is in meltdown.

When it became apparent that temperatures were actually falling, they simply changed the name of their religion from ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’. The cooler weather was merely a ‘blip’, they declared. Keep planting the olive trees.

Those of us who had the audacity to pour scorn on their new orthodoxy were smeared as ‘deniers’ — no better than Nazi apologists who maintain the Holocaust never happened.

The virulence of their character assassination merely serves to underline the desperation of their dishonest cause. All evidence to the contrary is discarded. Try pointing out that we had ice fairs on the Thames hundreds of years ago and that Britain experienced a well-documented warm period in medieval times and you can expect a torrent of self-righteous abuse.

They’re not interested in history, they’re only interested in the here-and-now, which is why the warmists have no sense of perspective and will brook no argument.

Thus, the recent drought was proof positive that the world will soon run out of water. Yet the fact that it hasn’t stopped raining since is dismissed as statistically irrelevant.

There is, of course, no accounting for any kind of religious fanatic. They are immune to reason and consider any heretic who challenges their sacred tenets to be fundamentally evil.

The central conceit is that everything bad which happens in the world is man-made and only man can do something about it. They refuse to acknowledge that there are forces bigger than themselves at work.

This is abject nonsense. Whenever there has been a man-made disaster, nature has been quick to clean up.

After Saddam Hussein flooded the Persian Gulf with crude oil, we were told the pollution would last two million years. It was all gone in six months.

Similarly, when the BP pipeline burst in the Gulf of Mexico, it was billed as a catastrophe of biblical proportions which would wipe out an entire ecology. Two years later, tourists are back on the beaches and the seafood restaurants are doing a roaring trade.
Taking advantage: Businesses have spotted a lucrative opportunity to cash in on everything from useless War Of The Worlds wind turbines to state-subsidised solar panels

Taking advantage: Businesses have spotted a lucrative opportunity to cash in on everything from useless War Of The Worlds wind turbines to state-subsidised solar panels

If the great global warming lie was confined to the usual weird beards and dope-addled hippies left over from the Woodstock Generation, none of this would matter much. But ‘climate change’ has been appropriated by big business and big government for their own ends.

Politicians quickly seized on it as a way to expand their own empires, pass new laws and levy an exciting new range of fines and taxes. Here in Britain, Westminster remains in thrall to the green lobby, setting insane targets for carbon reduction, which will destroy what’s left of our manufacturing industry and lead to a serious energy shortage within a few years.

Despite the financial crisis and unsustainable levels of government spending and borrowing, the public sector continues to hire ‘climate change’ advisers and auditors on salaries of up to £65,000.

In the private sector, businesses have spotted a lucrative opportunity to cash in on everything from useless War Of The Worlds wind turbines to state-subsidised solar panels. They are cheered on by the BBC and the Met Office, which continues to get the weather forecast spectacularly wrong while concentrating on its new role combating ‘climate change’. Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, it’s Flaming June in Britain and it’s still raining.

What, then, became of Bill Giles, one of the original prophets of global warming doom? If you watch daytime TV, you may have spotted Bill advertising a home equity release scheme on behalf of a finance company.

Is he planting olive trees in his garden in Oxfordshire? Er, no. He’s playing golf on a time-share complex somewhere hot.

On the firm’s website, Bill writes: ‘I was delighted when they invited me to appear in their new TV advert, particularly when they offered to fly me to Spain to avoid the cold, wet UK weather!’

Be fair, though, Bill has been proved right about one thing. Yesterday the weather in Dundee was exactly the same as the weather in Berkshire — a balmy 53f (12c) and raining.


Another Candidate For Clueless Journalist Of The Year

Steve Goddard is the nemesis of the "freak weather" alarmists. He specializes in history so can show that so-called "freak" weather was common in the past too. Just another small example below

Along comes Dennis Bromage with one of the stupidest Polar Bear stories ever.

A FAMILY of polar bears are left floating in still waters as rising temperatures continue to wreak havoc on their natural habitat.

The mother and her two six-month-old cubs were marooned 60 miles out to sea off the coast of Svalbard, Norway, in the Arctic Circle.

Rising temperatures caused by global warming has seen the polar bear’s natural habitat fall apart.

Photographer Dennis Bromage, 37, from Stockton-on-Tees said: “It’s tragic. The baffled bears just stared into the water as if to say, ’where did all the ice go?’

Looks bad, eh? The next picture shows that they are actually on about 50% concentration ice, ideal for hunting.

"global warming causes ice sheet to break up"

No Dennis, that is called summer, it happens every year. Then he goes on with this unbelievable tripe.
Dennis, who was only ten feet away from the bears on a boat, said: “Their main sources of food are out to sea. "Starving … break up of ice means family can’t reach food. “If forced ashore, they will starve for the summer because there is just nothing for them to eat."

Let’s get this straight. The bears are right where they need to be to get food, and that is bad. If they weren’t there, that would also be bad. No matter where they are, that is bad.

“The ice is breaking up earlier and earlier every year. But the bears will cling on to the ice for as long as they can.”

Complete BS. In 1922, the water around Svalbard never froze all winter, and there weren’t any seals for the bears to eat. There is more ice there now than there was 90 years ago.

Hudson Bay bears go 3-4 months every summer without ice, and their population is booming. It is time to stop lying about Polar Bears, who’s population is at record high numbers.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

All Pain and No Gain

The Illusory Benefits of the Utility MACT

Executive Summary

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA)Utility MACT Rule establishes the first-ever maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) fromcoal- and oil-fired power plants.

Mercury is the principal HAP targeted by the Rule. Unlike most air pollutants, mercury poses health risks not via inhalation but after being deposited in bodies of water. Microbes can transform some of the mercury into an organic form, methylmercury, which can accumulate in aquatic food chains.

The EPA contends that pregnant women in subsistence fishing households consume enough methylmercury in self-caught fish to impair fetal cognitive and neurological development. The MACT Rule supposedly reduces the risk to unborn children by lowering methylmercury concentrations in non-commercial fish. But the agency provides no empirical evidence that any American children are harmed by mercury emissions.

With an EPA-estimated annual compliance cost of $9.6 billion, the Utility MACT Rule is one of the most costly environmental regulations in the nation’s history.The EPA claims that the Rule will deliver up to $80 billion in annual net benefits, with no risk of significant adverse impacts on fuel choice, electric supply reliability, or employment. These claims are false.


Distinguished Israeli professor says global warming caused by sun, not man

Note that this is about Giora Shaviv, not Nir Shaviv. Shavivs seem to be a wise lot

After I wrote a commentary here on June 3, 2012 about global warming and climate change and what all this might mean for the future existence of Israel as a state in the arid Middle East, an Israeli scientist that I contacted told me that he thought I was barking up the wrong tree and was wrong about global warming. This led to what, for me, was a fascinating e-dialogue.

I met Professor Emeritus Giora Shaviv, the Swartzmann-Medvedi chair in Space Sciences at The Technion in Haifa after coming across a 2009 news article in the Jewish Chronicle in London headlined “Israeli scientist denies global warming.”

Although Dr Shaviv and I don’t see eye to eye on this, I wanted to find out more about his ideas and climate views, after reading this opening lines of the London story: “A leading Israeli scientist has renounced the concept of man-made global warming at a lecture given to the British Technion Society, just days before world leaders meet to discuss ways to halt it. Professor Giora Shaviv professor of physics at the Technion, claimed that the accepted level of carbon dioxide in the air is wildly exaggerated.”

”Dr Shaviv said that though for years the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has claimed that an increase in carbon dioxide has led to an increase in temperature, in fact, the reverse is correct. He argued that the movement of the sun affects temperature, which influences the levels of carbon dioxide, and that these levels have risen and fallen for centuries, even before mankind.”

Then came the clinker: “CO2 is not responsible for heating the earth, the cause is the activity of the sun which we cannot control,” Dr Shaviv said.

And one British defender of Dr Shaviv’s views was quoted as saying:”There is a hysteria and exaggeration of the issue with people worrying that the end is nigh. People need to calm down. The reality is we haven’t got a clear idea what the climate is doing.”

So, having read all this, I emailed Dr Shaviv in Israel and in Internet time, received a reply from him and we later exchanged a few more cordial and friendly messages back and forth. He knows that I feel that global warming maybe very well spell the end of the human species in the next 500 years, if we do not halt CO2 emissions worldwide. And I know that he disgress with me.

”Dear Danny,” Professor Shaviv wrote to me, when I asked him about global warming, “I did not deny the possibility of global warming in that 2009 article you read online. I argue that

a) If at all, it is not man made, b) It is due to solar activity, c) The effect is much smaller than claimed, and d) It is periodic and warming and cooling happened in the past before the industrial revolution and when there were no humans around.”

When I asked Dr Shaviv what his opinion of climate activist Al Gore, he told me: “Al Gore is an idiot who does not know what he is talking about. He shows two graphs and hides the third one. Moreover, there is evidence that temperature rise preceded the CO2 rise (long before the industrial revolution) so that the cause and effect that Al Gore claims is completely wrong.”

When I asked Dr Shaviv what he thought about my ideas on climate change, especially about the possibility that the very future of Isreal could be at stake within the next 500 years if climate change is not halted, he replied: “I see your points, Danny, and I remain calm. The sun will take care of it.”

What Dr Shaviv was getting at was this: He believes that the sun is most responsible for the flucuations on the Earth’s temperature over millions of years and that global warming is caused by the sun even now, and is not caused by humans or the industrial output of carbon dioxide emissions or cars or India’s and China’s coal burning factories. He believes the sun will take care of eveything and that Al Gore is very very wrong about almost everything.


Australia conservative leader vows to clear way for giant Olympic Dam mine

Greenies hate mines and this one mines the ultimate horror: URANIUM! The Green/Left government are down to about 23% in the polls so Australia should have a conservative government again in about a year's time

FEDERAL Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has committed to removing all obstacles to the Olympic Dam mine's expansion and making its success a priority of the Coalition if it wins government.

He also said that Prime Minister Julia Gillard must give BHP Billiton a written assurance that the Minerals Resource Rent Tax will never be imposed on copper, gold and uranium - which are central to the expanded mine's operations.

Speaking to The Advertiser before a two-day visit to South Australia from today, Mr Abbott, right, said yesterday the Government should simply "abolish the bloody thing" to ensure the project went ahead.

"No one could be more enthusiastic about the Olympic Dam expansion than I am," he said.

"I want to do everything I humanly can to help this expansion to go ahead by not having a carbon tax, not having a mining tax, and trying to ensure that we don't have bloated construction costs because of union militancy through the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

"So there are three major incentives to go ahead that I could provide BHP were the Coalition in government."

Mr Abbott said the project was crucial to the SA economy, creating thousands of jobs and adding up to $7 billion a year in gross state product. It was "hanging in the balance", he warned. BHP Billiton was threatening to put the project on hold, citing the rising costs of doing business in Australia. While the resources giant will be one of the main contributors to Labor's multi-billion-dollar MRRT from next month, this will apply only to super profits made on coal and iron-ore mines.

Mr Abbott, however, says the company and its backers now increasingly are worried about sovereign risk - the future danger of profits being eroded by expanded taxes or more new taxes.

"No one thinks a re-elected Labor government will continue to restrict the mining tax to just those two minerals (coal and iron) and BHP now regards Australia as having serious sovereign risk issues, thanks to the Gillard Government," he said.

"The only way to persuade the mining industry the tax will not be extended to other minerals is to abolish the bloody thing and that's what we'll do."

Mr Abbott, who will visit resources industry businesses while in SA, said the Government should admit it now was putting up barriers to wealth generation.

BHP Billiton has revealed it is unlikely to go ahead with all of its major resources projects as it grapples with declining commodity prices, slowing growth in China and higher operating costs.

"If the Government were serious it would say, 'look, we got it wrong on the carbon tax, at the very least we'll bust it down to the European price rather than have it sitting there at $23 a tonne'," Mr Abbott said.

"They would also enter into a project agreement with BHP to explicitly exclude, for the life of the Olympic Dam expansion, any mining tax application to this project."

With just weeks before the carbon price and the MRRT take effect on July 1, Mr Abbott warned they might force the company's hand.

"Well, you'd have to say based on what (chief executive) Marius Kloppers and (chairman) Jac Nasser have said recently, that the project is hanging in the balance at the moment," he said.

Marius Kloppers recently said on Lateline that because of a whole range of factors including the carbon tax, Australia had moved from being a low-cost to a high-cost place to do business and Jac Nasser said "no" when asked if BHP was going to go ahead with the $80 billion worth of investment.

On the ABC's Q&A program on Monday, Ms Gillard compared Mr Abbott's unrelenting campaign against the carbon price with fears generated by the High Court's Mabo decision.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


12 June, 2012

Ya gotta laugh!

Huge excitement over an apparent temperature rise of just one tenth of one degree Celsius! plus an argument from ignorance!

As the old saying goes, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But they ignore that. Given their inability to "explain" a tiny fluctuation they say it MUST be due to human activity! They sure are exemplars of scientific rigor! They should go into epidemiology. Speculation passes for fact every day there

It's not research anyway. It's just modelling. Did they include a model where clouds had a cooling effect? I don't need to guess. For your delectation, I append the journal abstract

A US-led research group is claiming to have bolstered the argument that global warming is real, and humans are largely to blame. Scientists say this is the most comprehensive study to date on global ocean warming. The research has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The team looked at rising ocean temperatures over the past 50 years, and a dozen models projecting climate change patterns.

Australian based co-author, Dr John Church from Australia's island state of Tasmania says there's no way all of the world's oceans could've warmed by one tenth of a degree Celsius without human impact. He says nature only accounts for 10 per cent of the increase. [How does he know?]

Dr Church says researchers from America, Australia, Japan and India examined a dozen different models used to project climate change, past studies have only looked at a couple at a time.

"And this has allowed the group to rule out that the changes are related to natural variability in the climate system," he said.

Leading climate change and oceanography expert, Professor Nathan Bindoff says scientists are now certain man-made greenhouse gases are the primary cause. "The evidence is unequivocal for global warming," he said.

He says the new research balances the man-made impacts of warming greenhouse gases and cooling pollution in the troposphere, against natural changes in the ocean's temperature and volcanic eruptions.

"This paper is important because for the first time we can actually say that we're virtually certain that the oceans have warmed, and that warming is caused not by natural processes but by rising greenhouse gases primarily," he said.

The research team says the ground-breaking study will help guide further climate change research and international policy development.

Human-induced global ocean warming on multidecadal timescales

By P. J. Gleckler et al.


Large-scale increases in upper-ocean temperatures are evident in observational records. Several studies have used well-established detection and attribution methods to demonstrate that the observed basin-scale temperature changes are consistent with model responses to anthropogenic forcing and inconsistent with model-based estimates of natural variability. These studies relied on a single observational data set and employed results from only one or two models. Recent identification of systematic instrumental biases in expendable bathythermograph data has led to improved estimates of ocean temperature variability and trends and provide motivation to revisit earlier detection and attribution studies.

We examine the causes of ocean warming using these improved observational estimates, together with results from a large multimodel archive of externally forced and unforced simulations. The time evolution of upper ocean temperature changes in the newer observational estimates is similar to that of the multimodel average of simulations that include the effects of volcanic eruptions.

Our detection and attribution analysis systematically examines the sensitivity of results to a variety of model and data-processing choices. When global mean changes are included, we consistently obtain a positive identification (at the 1% significance level) of an anthropogenic fingerprint in observed upper-ocean temperature changes, thereby substantially strengthening existing detection and attribution evidence.

Nature Climate Change (2012) doi:10.1038/nclimate1553

The Overstatement Of Certainty about ocean heat content

In the discussion on the Levitus et al 2012 paper

Levitus, S., et al. (2012), World ocean heat content and thermosteric sea level change (0-2000), 1955-2010, Geophys. Res. Lett.,doi:10.1029/2012GL051106, in press

which I have posted on several times; e.g. see

Comment On Ocean Heat Content “World Ocean Heat Content And Thermosteric Sea Level Change (0-2000), 1955-2010″ By Levitus Et Al 2012

the level of uncertainty in the ocean data has not been emphasized. This post is to highlight this issue with respect to modeled uncertainty of ocean heat content changes.

As shown in the figure below from Levitus et al 2012, they claim that the uncertainty range of the observations (the vertical lines on the red line) narrows to very small levels in recent years.

However, with respect to the uncertainty of the multi-decadal global model predictions, when run in a hindcast mode, the paper

Sen Gupta et al, 2012: Climate Drift in the CMIP3 Models. Journal of Climate;doi:

provides valuable insight into this issue. I posted on this paper in

My Comments On A New Paper “Climate Drift In The CMIP3 Models” By Sen Gupta Et Al 2012

With respect to the ocean heat data specifically, Sen Gupta et al write that [highlight added]

Even in the absence of external forcing, climate models often exhibit long-term trends that cannot be attributed to natural variability. This so called ‘climate drift’ arises for various reasons including: perturbations to the climate system on coupling component models together and deficiencies in model physics and numerics…….To illustrate this we have focussed on simulated trends over the second half of the 20th century……Below depths of 1000 to 2000m, drift dominates over any forced trend in most regions. As such steric sea-level is strongly affected and for some models and regions the sea-level trend direction is reversed….”

Clearly, even if the observed uncertainty was as small as concluded by Levitus et al 2012 [which given the areal coverage they report at 2000m is unrealistically small] any attempt to use the multi-decadal climate model predictions to provide an explantion for this warming at depth (even if real) is not robust scientifically.

source of image


Windy British bishop defeated by public opposition

The Right Reverend Michael Langrish, the Bishop of Exeter, claimed his staff had been subjected to 'outright verbal abuse' over the plans to erect two turbines in three North Devon communities.

Campaigners claimed victory saying they were 'thrilled' at their 'David and Goliath victory' but were saddened that the debate had turned sour.

The proposal, which will now be dropped, was estimated to have generated a potential £50,000 a year.

The Diocese of Exeter was among the first in the country to trial the approach to improve its green credentials but the U-turn could now halt a wave of applications across the country.

A letter from the bishop was read out to congregations in Chittlehampton, Black Torrington and East Anstey in North Devon during services on Sunday.

He apologised that communities were not consulted earlier in the process but condemned what he claimed was 'hostility and aggression' disproportionate to the plans.

He said clergy and officers had been subjected to 'hostility', 'outright verbal abuse', and 'abusive and bullying tactics'.

The Bishop said: "I, and many of my colleagues, have received very unpleasant letters and those who have attended meetings in a genuine effort to explain the thinking behind our proposals have been shouted down and called liars."

But he said the diocese remained committed to reducing its carbon footprint whilst protecting rural Devon.

Peter Wood, chairman of East Anstey parish council, claimed a public meeting had been 'swamped' with 'pushy' turbine protesters from outside the parish.

"There was wrongdoing on both sides," he said. "The diocese did not consult properly but I'm saddened that we can't debate this sensibly, with reason and respect.

"I think people were rather intimidated to speak in favour of it."

Richard Hopton, who lives 180 metres from the proposed Chittlehampton turbine site, said: "I'm thrilled that the Church has seen the light and done the decent thing. "It's very sad that, according to the bishop, this has descended into abuse but I'm afraid it's an emotive issue and people get wound up."

The barrister and journalist said he had not been party to the abuse and had only heard 'robust' questioning at meetings. But he added: "This is a great moment - it's a David and Goliath victory. The Church is an enormous institution and it's a very large landowner - we have to fight. "This is a good day for Devon but it's a great day for the rest of the country too. Hopefully we have pulled a wedge out from under the bottom of the door."


Bank of Obama America Pledges $50 Billion to Combat Climate Change

Bank of America got a $45 billion bailout during the financial crisis. Think what Heartland could do with funding like that!

Bank of America Corp. (BAC) said it will contribute $50 billion over the next 10 years to address climate change, the latest company to boost its investments toward environmental goals.

The new set of goals will be effective on Jan. 1, following the anticipated completion of the bank's current 10-year pledge of $20 billion, which it said is four years ahead of schedule. "Environmental business delivers value to our clients, return for our shareholders, and helps strengthen the economy," said Chief Executive Brian Moynihan. "We met our prior goal in about half the time we set for ourselves, so more than doubling our target is ambitious but achievable."

The bank's new initiative includes lending, equipment finance, capital markets and advisory activity and carbon finance, as well as advice and investment help.

Bank of America will focus on promoting energy efficiency; renewable energy, including wind, solar and hydropower; lower-carbon transportation like electric and hybrid vehicles; and water and waste treatment and disposal initiatives.

The company said it will work with third parties to assess the impact of its commitment on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reaching other environmental goals.

The company has spent $17.9 billion toward its initial pledge, including $8.4 billion for energy efficiency activities, including low-cost loans and grants for retrofitting low-income neighborhoods for energy efficiency. It spent $5 billon on renewable energy projects, including helping the San Jose Unified School District in California to run on solar energy. An additional $1 billion went to consumer financing of hybrid vehicles.

By 2015, the company said it hopes to reduce its energy consumption by 25% from 2004, as well as reducing its paper and water consumption, and disposing of electronic waste through certified vendors.

Shares were down 4 cents to $7.52 in recent trading. The stock is up 35% so far this year.


Even the Guardian admits it: Warmism MUST drive up energy bills

Red herring campaigns can't disguise that

The environment world has a new obsession: energy bills. It's manifesting itself everywhere. Greenpeace recently urged the prime minister to "take personal responsibility for protecting consumers from high energy prices" and delivered a giant energy bill to Centrica HQ. The shadow climate secretary has declared that we should frame global warming around "bills, not bears". A new climate change direct action group spent their first interview bemoaning the monopolistic powers of the Big Six. Progressive campaign group 38 Degrees have even set-up a collective buying scheme to help people get cheaper gas and electricity. And a coalition of environment groups are focusing their campaigning efforts on using carbon taxes to tackle fuel poverty, promising warmer homes and lower bills.

It's not hard to see where all this comes from. Green policies are under attack from the likes of the Daily Mail and George Osborne, so it's important to remind policymakers and the public that rising gas prices have largely driven recent hikes in bills. Equally, campaigning on cost helps emphasise that the environment movement is in tune with people's current economic concerns. Harnessing anti-corporate sentiment makes sense too – as does coming up with new ways to empower consumers through collective buying. And making sure people aren't shivering in their beds by insulating more homes is a no-brainer.

That all makes perfect sense, but there's something about the current focus on energy bills and energy company profits that makes me uncomfortable. My fear is that the Mail and Osborne have set the agenda and everyone else is dancing to their tune, inadvertently strengthening a very unhelpful paradigm: that energy should be cheap.

That could be risky, because while cutting carbon and avoiding climate change may make perfect economic sense in the long term, the awkward truth is that doing so will add to energy costs for a long time to come. Indeed, the single most important reason that we're not yet making much progress on solving climate change globally is surely that politicians everywhere are nervous of adding to energy costs in the coming years by constraining fossil fuel use. Every nation is agreed that we should limit temperature rise and that the long-term future should be powered by abundant and inexpensive renewables, nuclear or CCS. But that doesn't make it any easier or cheaper to leave the fossil fuels in the ground in the meantime – which is the only thing that matters to the climate.

In other words, to make any progress, we need to win the argument on a more fundamental level. We need to make people care sufficiently about climate change that they're prepared to pay more for energy in the short and medium term in order to avoid potentially catastrophic environmental, social and economic impacts in the long term.

If you're not convinced, just take a look at the recent analysis of energy bills by the Committee on Climate Change. Greens usually cite this document to show that wholesale gas prices are behind recent bill increases – and also that efficiency measures could limit future rises. Those are both crucial points. But the analysis also contains a less comfortable message: that over the next decade, renewable subsidies and carbon taxes will add far more to energy bills than rising gas prices are expected to. Indeed, if ambitious efficiency measures get implemented as we hope, then by 2020 clean-energy subsidies and carbon taxes will most likely account for more than a fifth of domestic electricity bills (less if gas prices rise faster than expected, but more if gas prices end up lower than expected due to large shale discoveries or other factors).

As long as people care about climate change – about bears as well as bills, if you will – then we should be able to stomach those costs. Surveys suggest that many people (including majorities in China and India as well as the US) would in principal be willing to pay more for energy if they felt it would really help tackle global warming. That said, no one wants their bills to soar, especially in an economic downturn.

So the environment movement needs to perform a difficult balancing act. On the one hand it must defend environmental policies economically and show that it cares about rising bills. On the other, it needs to avoid adding yet more weight to the cultural expectation for – and political prioritisation of – cheaper energy. If that expectation is too great, then green policies will come under increasing stress in the coming decade as their costs increase, and anything that boosts gas supplies in the meantime (such as the EU's plan to support gas as a low-carbon fuel) will be easier to justify politically.

Of course, whatever happens we're going to need much more effort to combat fuel poverty. For as long as vulnerable people are suffering in freezing homes, we're failing as a society. But solving that problem means targeted anti-poverty assistance – not lower bills for everyone, which would tend to incentivise more consumption across the board.

In the case of driving, everyone would take this as a given. We'd never tell David Cameron "to take personal responsibility for protecting drivers from high oil prices". Neither would we organise group-buying schemes for petrol and diesel, even though the average household spends as much on driving as it does on home energy and oil company profits are, as far as I can tell, higher than those of the utilities. Of course, petrol and home energy aren't equivalent for a whole number of reasons, but I still think there's something telling in the comparison.

Maybe I'm worrying about all this too much. Perhaps campaigners are right to be devoting so much of their attention to energy bills and utility profits. But I do feel there's a risk of making the argument purely economic – all bills and no bears – because by the terms of current economics, the greenest path will almost certainly not be the least expensive path. So let's be a bit careful which paradigm we're pushing: clean is more important than cheap.


Agenda 21: Alabama may have outfoxed it. Why you should care

“Agenda 21″ sounds like a daft-but-harmless-idea you can ignore. I found it hard to get enthused, but I was wrong, and no one sums this up better than James Delingpole in “Watermelons” (aka “Killing the Earth to Save it). To paraphrase James’s brilliant work (forgive me James) from page 190:

Some of you still aren’t convinced that you need to worry about Agenda 21 because you are thinking:

a) Agenda 21 sounds way too much like Area 51, (you know Aliens and the Roswell incident). Nut job stuff.

b) It was signed in 1992. If it was that bad, we’d have heard by now. Surely?

c) What sovereign nation would be so insane as to sign itself up for a binding treaty?

James explains that it’s real, it’s important (like an anti-magna-carta), and its’ a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Governments could sign up because it was “voluntary”, but then those voluntary rules are scrupulously and doggedly enforced by the “labyrinthine, democratically unaccountable behemoth that is the United Nations.”

Furthermore, he points out that it’s not like they’ve bothered to hide their aims — they want to control your resources, your money, your actions and every decision you want to make:

“Effective execution of Agenda 21 will require a profound reorientation of all human society, unlike anything the world has ever experienced a major shift in the priorities of both governments and individuals and an unprecedented redeployment of human and financial resources. This shift will demand that a concern for the environmental consequences of every human action be integrated into individual and collective decision-making at every level.” – excerpt from The UN, Agenda 21*

Agenda 21 is very much about property rights (ie. their right to your property). Justice Gilpin-Green quotes Agenda 21:

“Land…cannot be treated as an ordinary asset, controlled by individuals and subject to the pressures and inefficiencies of the market,” Agenda 21 says. “Private land ownership is also a principal instrument of accumulation and concentration of wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice; if unchecked, it may become a major obstacle in the planning and implementation of development schemes. The provision of decent dwellings and healthy conditions for the people can only be achieved if land is used in the interest of the society as a whole.”**

Agenda 21 is so non-threatening, voluntary, and out of date, that Alabama has just written legislation specifically designed to stop it. The legislation has passed. It protects property rights against anything linked to Agenda 21, and also stops the state sending or receiving money to Agenda 21 NGO’s or GONGO’s.

Who knew that Alabama needed legislation to stop private property from being confiscated without due process? (Who knew there are Democrats against Agenda 21?)

Agenda 21 also appears in other forms like, ICLEI, or the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. Gilpin-Green says “When countries like the United States fail to adopt the environmentalist agenda promoted by the United Nations, that organization manages to bypass them by providing various incentives to state, county, and municipal organizations.” Apparently some towns get funding from the UN and display their cheques proudly. How does that work — taxpayers pay money to a government, which gives it to a foreign unelected body, which then pays their local council in order to gain influence? So much for your votes. When the chain of voting-to-power becomes so long and distant, it’s a case of your money, used against you.

More HERE (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, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


11 June, 2012

Huge fraud in reporting the U.S. temperature record

Fanatics at work

Proponents of global warming alarmism place heavy reliance on the temperature record of the United States, probably the world’s best data set. They say that the record shows significant warming in the 20th century. Most global warming realists have accepted this claim, but have questioned whether this particular temperature trend–the Earth has been getting either warmer or cooler, sometimes on a far greater scale, for millions of years–has much to do with human activity.

What is less well known is that the alarmists do not rely on raw temperature data collected by American weather stations. Rather, the alarmists adjust the data before they publish it. This chart from NASA GISS, which you likely have seen before, purports to show the temperature anomaly as measured on land in the U.S. from 1880 to approximately the present:

But that graph, like virtually every discussion of American temperature trends that you have seen, uses “adjusted” temperature data, not what was actually reported from weather stations. This chart reflects raw data from the U. S. Historical Climatology Network, the same data that were the basis–pre-”adjustment”–for the chart above:

Michael Hammer, who created this chart from the raw data, writes:
Clearly the shape of this graph bears no similarity at all to the graph shown in Figure 4 [the first graph above]. The graph does not even remotely correlate to the shape of the CO2 versus time graph. The warming was greatest in the 1930’s before CO2 started to rise rapidly. The rate of rise in 1920, the early 1930’s and the early 1950’s is significantly greater than anything in the last 30 years. Despite the rapid rise in CO2 since 1960, the 1970’s to early 1980’s was the time of the global cooling scare and looking at the graph in Figure 5 one can see why (almost 2F cooling over 50 years).

It would appear that the temperature rise profile claimed by the adjusted data is largely if not entirely an artefact arising from the adjustments applied (as shown in Figure 3), not from the experimental data record. In fact, the raw data does not in any way support the AGW theory.

So, what exactly are the adjustments that are made to the raw data by NOAA before they are published? Historically, five adjustments have been made; the only one that tended to reduce temperatures apparently has been eliminated:
It is obvious that the only adjustment which reduces the reported warming is UHI which is a linear correction of 0.1F or about 0.06C per century, Figure 2. Note also that the latest indications are that even this minimal UHI adjustment has now been removed in the latest round of revisions to the historical record. To put this in perspective, in my previous article on this site I presented bureau of meteorology data which shows that the UHI impact for Melbourne Australia was 1.5C over the last 40 years equivalent to 3.75C per century and highly non linear.

Compare the treatment of UHI with the adjustments made for measuring stations that have moved out of the city centre, typically to the airport. These show lower temperatures at their new location and the later readings have been adjusted upwards so as to match the earlier readings. The airport readings are lower because the station has moved away from the city UHI. Raising the airport readings, while not adding downwards compensation for UHI, results in an overstatement of the amount of warming. This would seem to be clear evidence of bias. It would be more accurate to lower the earlier city readings to match the airport readings rather than vice versa.

This is really a scandal. Not only does NOAA not correct for the well-recognized urban heat island effect, as I think it obviously should, it goes out of its way to re-introduce the heat island effect where better data are available!

Anthony Watts reports the discovery of more corruption of the historical record by global warming alarmists. The National Climate Data Center has been altering historical records to make past temperatures cooler than were reported at the time. This is being done so as to create an artificial warming trend over the 20th century:
Jeff Masters and [Christopher C. Burt] recently received an interesting email from Ken Towe who has been researching the NCDC historical temperature database and came across what appeared to be some startling inconsistencies. Namely that the average state temperature records used in the current trends analysis by the NCDC (National Climate Data Center) do not reflect the actual published records of such as they appeared in the Monthly Weather Reviews and Climatological Data Summaries of years past. Here is why.

Here is a typical example of what Ken uncovered. Below is a copy of the national weather data summary for February 1934. If we look at, say Arizona, for the month we see that the state average temperature for that month was 52.0°F. [Ed.: This is the paper version that was published at the time.]

However, if we look at the current NCDC temperature analysis (which runs from 1895-present) we see that for Arizona in February 1934 they have a state average of 48.9°F, not the 52.0°F that was originally published.

So the actual temperatures reported in the 1930s are being reduced, to make it appear as though global warming has been going on since then. A reduction of more than three degrees Fahrenheit is, of course, huge.

These disclosures highlight a key fact with respect to global temperature data: the data sets are utterly lacking in integrity. Global warming alarmists confidently announce that worldwide temperatures have risen by, say .1 degree over a decade. It would be extraordinarily difficult to take measurements at many locations around the globe that would actually demonstrate that proposition. But the real situation is much worse: no one tells you what temperatures were actually measured at the world’s weather stations. Rather, they report claims of global warming based on “adjusted” temperature data–adjusted by alarmists, with the systematic purpose of manufacturing a rising temperature trend. If you subtract the “adjustments,” it may well be that there has been no net warming over the last 100 years at all.

I’ve said it before; here it is one more time: global warming hysteria is not science. It is an unholy combination of religion and politics.


Pesky recent trend

A Swedish blogger who loves looking at numbers every now and again looks at the rubbish put out by the U.S. climate establishment and shows that even after all their "adjustments" there are still some embarrassing figures there. Her latest finding FROM THE OFFICIAL FIGURES is that the U.S. temperature since the year 2000 has been COOLING. Some excerpts:

As a complement to my previous post May U.S. Temperature trend/decade: – 7.8 F COOLER in 100 years, I thought it also would be interesting to look at the recent 5 months (year to date, January-May) US temperature from a “historic” perspective since we now have a whole year of official data. To see how the decade trends have evolved during the last 112 years.

Especially to see how the decade trends have evolved during the last 42 years. The period that according to the Global Warming Hysterics and computer models they worship should show a steady and accelerated increase in temperature.

I don’t know about you, but I consider a 5 month, a year by year consecutive trend 112 years long to be a “quite good” indicator.

And as I always point out:

Remember, these are the official figures. With the poor placement of stations (91 % of the stations are CRN 3 to 5 = bad to very poor); where they have purposely taken away the urban heat island effect, use huge smoothing radius, the historical “adjustment and tweaking” to cool the past etc.

Not to mention the great slaughter of GHCN stations 1990-1993 – roughly 63 % of all stations were “dropped”. Oddly enough many of them in cold places – Hmmm? Now the number of GHCN stations is back at the same numbers as in 1890.

Also remember that the US stations are now nearly a third of the all GHCN world stations.

So here are the trends:

The trend for 1970 to 2012 is 0.62 F / Decade

The trend for 1980 to 2012 is 0.44 F / Decade

The trend for 1990 to 2012 is 0.12 F / Decade

The trend for 2000 to 2012 is - 0.26 F / Decade

And as I said in the beginning – always remember that these figures are based on the official data that has been tweaked, “adjusted” and manipulated to fit their agenda (cool the past, ignore UHI and land use change factors, huge smoothing radius – 1200km etc.).

Do you notice the “accelerated warming” trend from 1970-2012 to 2000-2012??

So the “warming trend” 2000-2012 is exactly - 0.26 F degrees COOLER a decade. That is a - 2.6 F COOLER in 100 years.

And this is also the decade that the Global Warming Hysterics have been screaming at the top of their lungs, trying to scare us to death, about the catastrophic treat that the “extreme increase” in temperature is to mankind and earth.

So to summarize this evidence of this “accelerated warming” trend:

The recent 5 months trend 1970-2012 is exactly 0.62 F degrees a decade.

The recent 5 months trend 1980-2012 is exactly 0.44 F degrees a decade.

The recent 5 months trend 1990-2012 is exactly 0.12 F degrees a decade.

The recent 5 months trend 2000-2012 is exactly - 0.26 F degrees a decade.

So, far from accelerating, the “warming” trend is really DECELERATING and has now in fact moved over into cooling

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

The insanity and danger of people-haters on show

Princeton University professor Peter Singer, dubbed the "godfather" of animal rights, says Christianity is a "problem" for the animal rights movement.

Singer, author of the book "Animal Liberation" and a professor of bioethics at Princeton University's Center for Human Values, criticized American Christianity for its fundamentalist strain that takes the Bible too "literally" and promotes "speciesism." He defined speciesism as the belief that being a member of a certain species "makes you superior to any other being that is not a member of that species."

Baby Killing OK

In an address to the national Animal Rights 2002 conference in McLean, Va., on Saturday, Singer also reiterated his controversial position that a "severely disabled" infant may be killed up to 28 days after its birth if the parents deem the baby's life is not worth living.

"I think that mainstream Christianity has been a problem for the animal movement," Singer told about 100 people attending a workshop titled "When Is Killing OK? (Attacking animals? Unwanted dogs & cats? Unwanted or deformed fetuses?)"

He singled out the "more conservative mainstream fundamentalist views" that "want to make a huge gulf between humans and animals" as being the most harmful to the concept of "animal liberation."

Singer rejected what he termed "the standard view that most people hold," that "just being human makes life special." He told one questioner from the audience, "I hope that you don't think that just being a biological member of the species homo sapiens means that you do have a soul and being a member of some other species means they don't. I think that would trouble me.

"I am an atheist. I know that is an ugly word in America," he added.

Singer pointed out that the Judeo-Christian ethic teaches not only that humans have souls and animals don't, but that humans are made in the image of God and that God gave mankind dominion over the animals. "All three taken together do have a very negative influence on the way in which we think about animals," he said.

He explained that his mission is to challenge "this superiority of human beings," and he conceded that his ideas go very much against the grain in a country that mostly still believes in human superiority.

Infant's Right to Life?

Singer reiterated one of his most controversial positions regarding the right to kill a newborn infant within 28 days of birth if the infant is deemed "severely disabled."

"If you have a being that is not sentient, that is not even aware, then the killing of that being is not something that is wrong in and of itself," he stated.

"I think that a chimpanzee certainly has greater self-awareness than a newborn baby," he told

He explained that "there are some circumstances, for example, where the newborn baby is severely disabled and where the parents think that it's better that that child should not live, when killing the newborn baby is not at all wrong ... not like killing the chimpanzee would be. Maybe it's not wrong at all."

He said his original view, published in his book "Practical Ethics," that the parents should have 28 days to determine whether the infant should live has been modified somewhat since the book's release.

"So in that book, we suggested that 28 days is not a bad period of time to use because on the one hand, it gives you time to examine the infant to [see] what the nature of the disability is; gives time for the couple to recover from the shock of the birth to get well advised and informed from all sorts of groups, medical opinion and disability and to reach a decision.

"And also I think that it is clearly before the point at which the infant has those sorts of forward-looking preferences, that kind of self-awareness, that I talked about. But I now think, after a lot more discussion, that you can't really propose any particular cut-off date."

He now advocates that the life or death decision regarding the infant should be made "as soon as possible after birth" because the 28 day cut-off, based on an ancient Greek practice, is "too arbitrary."

He called his views on killing "non-speciest" and "logical" because they don't "depend on simply being a member of the species homo sapiens."

Protecting Insects

Singer was asked several questions about whether his concept of animal rights included the protection of insects, rodents or shellfish. "I think insects are, you are right, the toughest conflicts we generally face. I wouldn't kill a spider if I can avoid killing a spider, and I don't think I need to," he said.

What if termites were threatening his home? "With termites that are actually eating out the foundation of my home, and this happens, this is a more serious problem, and I think at that point, I would feel that I need to dwell somewhere, and if I can't drive them away in some way, I guess I would end up killing them," he conceded.

When asked by why humans should not be able to eat animals when animals eat other animals, Singer said that humans have to be held to a different standard.

"Animals generally are not making moral choices. Animals are not the same as humans. They can't reflect on what they are doing and think about the alternatives. Humans can. So there is no reason for taking what they do as a sort of moral lesson for us to take. We're the ones who have to have the responsibility for making those choices," he said.

One woman at the workshop, who identified herself only as Angie, asked Singer if killing humans is acceptable to defend animals. "My name is Angie, and I am not going to kill anybody, but I have a question about self preservation, because I am thinking about doing a goose intervention where people are going to be coming to my neighborhood to kill geese. I am wondering, would it be my right to kill somebody that is harming, that is killing, 11,000 geese in New Jersey?"

Singer replied, "For starters, I think it would be a very bad thing to do to the movement." He later explained that he does not support violence to further the cause of animal rights, but he does support civil disobedience, such as "entering property, trespassing in order to obtain evidence."

Singer defended his previous writings that humans and nonhumans can have "mutually satisfying" sexual relationships as long as they are consensual. When asked by how an animal can consent to sexual contact with a human, he replied, "Your dog can show you when he or she wants to go for a walk and equally for nonviolent sexual contact, your dog or whatever else it is can show you whether he or she wants to engage in a certain kind of contact."

'Hard for Someone Not to Agree'

The animal rights activists attending Saturday's conference had nothing but praise for Singer and his influence on the movement.

Singer, who was introduced as the "godfather" of animal rights, received three standing ovations during his keynote address Saturday night, attended by about 400 people. Conference participant Jennie Sunner called Singer "fundamental to the movement's inception and its movement forward."

"I am so relieved he exists ... he's so well-reasoned and well-thought-out, that it is hard for someone not to agree," she added.

"I think he's got a really important message and a really inspiring message," stated David Berg of Utah Animal Rights Coalition.

Jason Tracy of Ooh-Mah-Nee Farm Sanctuary called Singer "very, very important to our movement." He has "done a lot of great work," he said.

Those participating in the conference had a wide variety of animal issues on their agenda, from anti-fur campaigns to promoting veganism to lobbying against "factory farming."

T-shirts and bumper stickers seen at the conference included the following slogans: "Stop Hunting"; "Milk is Murder"; "Animal Liberation: Wire Cutters are a terrible thing to Waste" (with an image of a cut farm fence cut); "Beef, it's what is rotting in your colon"; and a T-shirt featuring a cow with the slogan "I died for your sins."

Barry Clausen, a critic of the Animal "rights" movement and author of the book "Burning Rage," has studied the animal rights movement for 12 years and believes that it is having an impact.

'3,000 Acts of Terrorism'

Clausen, whose book details the illegal activities of some members of the animal rights and environmental movements, believes the biggest threat the animal rights advocates pose is their ability to limit animal medical research.

"If we can't have animal research, we can't have solutions to medical problems. You just can't stop everything to save a chimpanzee," he told

Clausen cautions that some animal rights activists have been involved in acts of what he calls domestic terrorism. "Over the past 12 years, we have had over 3,000 acts of terrorism by environmental and animal rights extremists," he said.

Clausen does not pull any punches when it comes to his opinion of the animal rights activists. "I have not come across one of these people who I did not consider to be mentally ill," Clausen said.

But conference participant Sunner defended the animal activists.

"Being normal by nature means you will never do anything extraordinary, so everything revolutionary that is good has been preceded by that kind of ridicule and trivialization," she said.


'Prime suspect' in bee colony deaths is found - and it's not global warming after all

Parasitic mites have 'turbo-charged' the spread of a deadly virus that is killing honey bee colonies around the world. Bee populations have been falling rapidly in many countries, fuelled by a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.

Many suspects have been named for bee colony collapse, including popular pesticides.

Now University of Sheffield scientists studied the impact of a parasitic mite arriving in a fresh territory - Hawaii - and concluded that it is a prime suspect, since it spreads viruses while feeding on hemolymph, or bee's ‘blood’.

To clarify the link between mites and viruses, a team led by Stephen Martin of Britain's University of Sheffield studied the impact of Varroa in Hawaii, which the mites have only recently invaded.

They found the arrival of Varroa increased the prevalence of a single type of virus, deformed wing virus (DWV), in honey bees from around 10% to 100%. At the same time the amount of DWV virus in the bees' bodies rocketed by a millionfold and there was a huge reduction in virus diversity, with a single strain of DWV crowding out others.

‘It is that strain that is now dominant around the world and seems to be killing bees,’ Martin said in a telephone interview. ‘My money would be on this virus as being key.’

Other factors - including fungi, pesticides and decreased plant diversity - are thought to play a role in colony collapse, but Ian Jones of the University of Reading said the latest findings pointed to the virus and mite combination as being the main culprit.

‘This data provides clear evidence that, of all the suggested mechanisms of honey bee loss, virus infection brought in by mite infestation is a major player in the decline,’ he said.

Jones, who was not involved the research, said the findings reinforced the need for beekeepers to control Varroa infestation in colonies.

The threat to bee populations extends across much of Europe and the United States to Asia, South America and the Middle East, experts say. Bees are important pollinators of flowering plants, including many fruit and vegetable crops.


Ehrlich – Repeating The Same Crap Since Nixon Was President

Is Ehrlich the most misnamed scientist of all time? "Ehrlich" is German for "honest" or "honorable"

From The Australian Women’s Weekly Wednesday 28 July 1971:

Extinction warning: Dr. Paul Ehrlich says man is destroying the world. Too many people, and too much pollution. Scientist Dr. Paul Ehrlich warns: Do something about it, because man is on THE ROAD TO EXTINCTION.

SOMEONE once asked Dr. Paul Ehrlich if he wasn’t a bit of an alarmist. “I certainly am,” he replied. “After all, I’m alarmed.”

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Report Finds Heavy Foreign Mineral Dependance Is A National Security Threat

And Obama's EPA is making it worse

Paul Bedard at The Washington Examiner notes the release of an important study by the American Resources Policy Network that examines our lack of a national resource strategy and its implications for the defense and high tech industry. Bedard notes that far from addressing the problem, the Obama administration is exacerbating the problem by stifling new development or acting to resume cold war-era stockpiles as experts recommend.

A couple highlights from the report:

In all, the U.S. is dependent for at least 50% of its supply for 43 metals and minerals. To put it another way, if “foreign oil” appeared on the USGS dependency chart, it would appear in 44th place.

For critical metals and minerals related to defense the main supplier is China, accounting for over 40% of the minerals that we are 100% (or nearly 100%) reliant on imports for. Up and down the report China is the elephant in the room in terms of strategic minerals. There is one notable exception...

...Copper presents a notable exception to the “foreign dependency = risk for supply disruption” axiom. The United States is the world’s third largest Copper producer, yet a 2010 MIT study by Elisa Alonso notes that the risk of Copper disruption is significantly greater than for other major metals, and is at or near an historical high. The Office of the Secretary of Defense lists Copper as a metal that has, “[Already] caused some kind of weapon production delay for the DoD.” Copper is also the primary metal for other strategic and critical metals highlighted in this report. Significant amounts of Molybdenum, Rhenium (nearly 75% of world’s production), Tellurium and Selenium (95% of world’s production) come from Copper mining and refining. Copper shortages will trigger companion shortages in these metals as well. We highlight this to further demonstrate the shortsightedness of targeting metals based entirely on stand-alone percentages.

While things may sound dire - and they certainly could be - there's some good news... We have it in our power to solve these critical foreign dependencies if our government would make it a priority.

U.S. policy-makers routinely debate how best to encourage sustained economic growth, the next generation of technological progress, and the advanced weapons systems on which our national security depends. Each of these essential public policy goals presupposes reliable access to critical resources -- the metals and minerals assessed in this report – that constitute the raw material of modern development.

For our omnibus Risk Pyramid of 46 metals and minerals, known U.S. resources exist for 40. In other words, for 87% of the metals and minerals on our Risk Pyramid, domestic resources exist – the development of which could lessen our import dependency.

Of course with Obama's EPA leading the way, as we noted last month in the case of the Pebble Mine project in Alaska, the chances of developing domestic resources are nil...



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


10 June, 2012

Medieval Warm Period And Little Ice Age Show Up In South America Too – Far Far Away From North Atlantic

Based on data from a few carefully selected tree rings, dogmatic warmist scientists like to insist that the Medieval Warm Period really did not exist globally and was only a local North Atlantic phenomenon. The climate, they tell us, was pretty much steady over the last couple thousand years – until man began to prosper a hundred years ago.

However, yet another new study, one by Michael Shawn Fletcher and Patricio Iván Moreno, has been published and adds more to the growing mountain of evidence that the Medieval Warm Period was indeed a global phenomenon. This in turn means that natural climate drivers are dominating the development of the climate, and not CO2. Yeah, like we’re really surprised.

The authors did an analysis of pollen and charcoal from Laguna San Pedro, a small closed-basin lake located in the Andes of Chile. Their results reveal centennial-scale changes in vegetation, climate and fire regime since 1500 cal yr before present.

According to the study’s abstract, they found periods of relatively low summer moisture and increased fire activity between 1500–1300 and 1000–725 cal yr BP. The period 1000–725 cal yr BP (i.e. Medieval Warm Period) is characterised by remarkably rapid bulk sediment accumulation, from which they infer prolonged annual sedimentation resulting from a decrease in the duration of lake freezing under a warmer climate. Before the Medieval Warm Period, i.e. 1300–1000, they found relatively moist conditions during summer and low fire activity. After the Medieval Warm Period, from 725–121 cal yr BP, there was slow bulk sediment accumulation implying a cool and wet climate. Adios Hockey Stick!

The abstract concludes:

"Our results suggest that the Medieval Climate Anomaly chronozone was relatively warm and dry, followed by a cool-wet climate during the Little Ice Age chronozone, before a substantial modification of the vegetation landscape by Europeans occurred in the mid 1800?s. The timing and direction of changes in the Laguna San Pedro record bear a striking resemblance to multiple independent tropical Pacific precipitation reconstructions, areas where precipitation is governed by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and with the modern influence of ENSO over the climate in the region. We conclude that ENSO was the main driver of changes in growing season moisture in this part of the Temperate-Mediterranean Transition in south-central Chile over the last 1500 years.”

Here the authors lost it in the last sentence. I’m not at all convinced by their attribution to the ENSO, which is an internal oscillation occurring over annual and decadal scales. But the changes that the two authors have observed actually occur over decades, centuries and likely millenia. They really need to compare their results to solar and ocean cycle data, which today are readily available. Of course, they may not like what they find. But as scientists, they’ll surely put aside any prejudices that may exist.

If they do that, then they’ll reach a different conclusion. One thing is sure: the observed climate cycles have nothing to do with GHGs and man. That hypothesis can be fed to the shredder and dustbin.


EPA punishes the innocent for green fuels fraud

Gas station signs announcing "Biodiesel" or "Contains ethanol" have become commonplace in America. We're vaguely aware that billions of gallons of such renewable fuel are now being blended into our finished gasoline and diesel fuels. This is the Renewable Fuel Standard at work, the EPA's byzantine invitation to fraud.

The RFS program is Environmental Protection Agency's system to assure that the amount of renewable fuel being used in motor fuel meets the requirements of the law. Believe it or not, the EPA monitors every gallon of renewable fuel in our motor fuel with a unique serial number called a Renewable Identification Number, or RIN. The EPA does not assign the RIN, nor does it maintain a registry for these numbers. And that's where the horror story begins.

Producers assign RINs -- credits that can be bought and sold like shares of stock. What's more, the EPA puts the burden on refiners and importers to ensure the credits they purchase are valid.

What's to keep a dishonest producer from generating RINs in his computer without manufacturing any corresponding renewable fuel connected to those numbers? Nothing, evidently. Since last November, the EPA has accused three companies of selling RIN credits without producing any fuel to back up the credits. Clean Green Fuel of Baltimore sold more than 32 million possibly phony credits; Absolute Fuels of Lubbock, Texas, more than 48 million; and Green Diesel LLC of Houston, more than 60 million.

Clean Green Fuel owner Rodney R. Hailey was charged with wire fraud, money laundering and violating the Clean Air Act. He allegedly netted at least $9 million, but his business "consisted solely of generating false RINs" and "marketing them to brokers and oil companies," Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein wrote in an indictment.

What did Hailey do with his alleged ill-gotten gains? Federal agents seized a Gulfstream III jet ($2.5 million), along with 10 cars and trucks, including a Bentley Continental ($267,000), a Mercedes-Benz ($200,000), a 2011 Cadillac Escalade ($85,085), a couple of Ferraris, a Rolls-Royce and a Maserati. The affidavit also listed real estate holdings totaling more than $5.3 million.

Absolute Fuels CEO Jeffrey Gunselman allegedly created fake credits worth approximately $62 million and used the money for similarly lavish living.

Green Diesel of Houston received an EPA "notice of violation" -- a warning that legal action will be taken unless a problem is resolved -- for allegedly generating more than 60 million invalid biomass-based diesel RINs.

To whom did they sell the allegedly fake RINs? Here is the real hitch. The EPA puts the burden on refiners and importers to do the due diligence -- sufficient investigation -- to ensure the RINs they buy are valid. The EPA is explicitly saying "buyer beware."

A fuel industry insider said, "When folks do their own investigating, EPA will not tell us what their idea of acceptable due diligence looks like. There is no guarantee that what you consider to be due diligence will keep the agency from coming after you anyway."

As of this week, the EPA has issued "notices of violation" to 30 companies that unknowingly bought fake RINs to comply with their production obligation. Charles T. Drevna, president of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, last week told a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, "EPA officials should have alerted members of my trade association when they suspected that some companies registered with the agency were producing fraudulent credits.

"Penalizing refiners who unknowingly bought fraudulent RINs from sellers registered with EPA is unjust, irresponsible and bad policy because it punishes crime victims instead of criminals."

The best solution is to eliminate this system entirely.


IEA: China natural gas demand to double by 2017

Horrors! Natural gas is a FOSSIL FUEL!

Global demand for natural gas will likely grow 17 percent over the next five years as Chinese consumption doubles, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.

China's demand for natural gas should expand 13 percent a year through 2017 while U.S. consumption will probably grow 13 percent by 2017, the Paris-based IEA said. It forecast European demand to increase by 7.9 percent.

"Asia will by far be the fastest growing region, driven primarily by China which will emerge as the third largest gas user by 2013," said the IEA, which is made up of 28 countries, including the U.S. and most European nations.

North American is poised to benefit most from the surge in Asian demand and will likely become a net exporter of liquefied natural gas over the next five years as new projects come on stream, the IEA said. Meanwhile, Asian LNG producers such as Malaysia and Indonesia will become net importers as local demand surges and output declines.

Low natural gas prices should lead to gas generating almost as much electricity as coal in the U.S. by 2017, the agency said.

The report said the world gas trade may rise 35 percent through 2017, but growth will slow in the next two years before accelerating from mid-2014 after projects currently under construction come on line.

"The global trade balance is visibly shifting to Asia, which is now attracting increasing flows of LNG and pipeline gas," the IEA said. "Australia is set to become the new Qatar" with several plants currently under construction.

Qatar is the world's biggest exporter of LNG.

New liquefaction plants are being discussed in Australia, Russia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Asia, according to the IEA.


Britain blows hot and cold on wind farms

The arrogant, greedy wind power industry is doing the most harm to popular opinion.

Hill Farm, Tallentire, is squeezed between two of Britain’s loveliest landscapes, the Lake District National Park and the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), just at the point where they most nearly touch each other. Yet work will begin there next month on erecting six 300ft wind turbines.

Local planners had rejected the wind farm because of its “harmful effect on the landscape”, only to be overruled earlier this year by the Government’s Planning Inspectorate. The men from Whitehall agreed that the turbines would “reduce the sense of wildness and remoteness” of both specially protected areas and admitted that the they would make only a “small” energy contribution. But they still ruled that this outweighed the spoiled views.

The development is just one among many that show, as the Campaign to Protect Rural England says, that wind farms “are increasingly being directed towards more remote, tranquil areas”. Political concern, fuelled by this trend, came to a head this week when George Osborne proposed action against them.

Twenty-two turbines have already been built next to a National Nature Reserve at Thorne Moors, Humberside. Another 12 are proposed for an exposed hillside in the Forest of Bowland AONB. Permission has been granted for wind farms overlooking the site of the Battle of Naseby and the dramatic Grade I-listed Lyveden New Bield, near Oundle. And beautiful areas of the country like Cornwall – which has 94 turbines, with 29 more approved or planned – are beginning to get distinctly crowded.

Now a backlash is gathering pace. Ten days ago, East Anglian villagers won a landmark High Court ruling against a wind farm near the Norfolk Broads and the Norfolk Coast AONB. This week, Lincolnshire County Council announced that it would try to “call a halt to the unrestrained invasion of wind turbines”. And, following an appeal by 101 Tory MPs, the Chancellor wants a 25 per cent cut in subsidies to onshore wind farms, threatening sharply to reduce the number built.

Supporters are striking back. On Monday the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute will launch a report designed to “dispel myths” on wind power. And television presenter Kate Humble told the Hay Festival on Thursday that it is necessary to help keep the lights on. “People don’t like wind farms,” she said. “But the fact is that we need to have alternative sources of energy and wind farms are one of them.”

Actually, she is wrong – but, perhaps surprisingly, not about the need for wind energy, but about its popularity. For despite passionate opposition from many local groups, and increasing hostility among the chattering and political classes, the great majority of Britons back it. This week, in the latest of a series of similar opinion polls, 68 per cent of respondents told ComRes that new wind farms were “an acceptable price to pay” for greener energy. Some other polls have even shown that communities living near existing installations like them.

Yet an Ipsos Mori poll, published in March, suggests opinion is polarising. While 60 per cent still said they would support building a wind farm within five miles of their home, the numbers strongly in favour had risen from 30 to 35 per cent over the past two years, while the proportion strongly opposed had risen threefold to 21 per cent. This trend may well grow as onshore turbines proliferate: the present 3,000 or so are projected to double this decade.

Certainly the wind industry does not help its case. It should have a lot going for it: wind power produces no carbon dioxide or other pollution. Its fuel will never be exhausted – unlike oil, gas or coal – and does not have to be imported. Turbines can quickly be removed when no longer wanted, leaving uncontaminated land behind, in contrast to nuclear and fossil fuel power stations. Wind is growing fast worldwide – doubling in capacity every three years – and Britain has the best resources in Europe.

But the industry has been arrogant, overbearing, greedy and bullying. It has often ridden roughshod over local communities and (apart from enriching landowners, who can now expect a risk-free £40,000 a year for every large turbine on their land) has mopped up the financial gains, giving little back. No wonder that, while wind power remains broadly supported, the industry is increasingly hated by those who have come into contact with it.

Contrast Germany, which with less favourable resources than Britain, gets much more of its electricity from the wind. There, the development of renewable energy has been achieved largely by communities themselves, rather than being imposed on them. Two thirds of turbines are owned by individuals and groups of people, while in Britain 90 per cent are in the hands of large companies. Unsurprisingly, wind enjoys wide social acceptance there.

The industry needs to change, as we are going to need wind as part of the energy mix. Indeed, it is the healthiest of the four main low-carbon technologies. Nuclear power is increasingly in trouble, with construction companies pulling out and plants delayed.

Cleaning up fossil fuel emissions with carbon capture and storage remains well over the horizon. And energy efficiency, which should be the absolute priority, is faltering along with the Government’s much?vaunted Green Deal. So there’s a heavy burden on renewables – and on wind as the cheapest and most developed of them.

Shale gas, unfortunately, is unlikely to save the day. Britain seems to have less of it, and it is expected to be much more expensive to exploit, than has been hoped. It emits carbon dioxide, and is likely to run into local protests that will far overshadow those against wind.

Though exploiting the wind also presents inherent problems, these are less severe than is often made out. While remaining more expensive than gas, wind’s costs are falling fast, even as the fossil fuel’s price is rising rapidly. Contrary to widespread perception, more than 80 per cent of the recent energy price increase comes from gas, not renewables. And though wind is subsidised, as are all energy sources, it is much less so than fossil fuels: just one fifth as much in Britain, OECD figures indicate.

More fundamental is the objection that the wind does not blow all the time – and when it does, it may be too light or too strong to be of any use. But even this problem has been widely exaggerated – for example, by assertions that new fossil fuel power plants will have to be built to back up every kilowatt produced by the wind.

That back-up is already there, built into every grid, for the simple reason that fossil fuel and nuclear plants fail, too; 27 per cent of US nuclear reactors have gone offline for a year or more. And their failures are usually more sudden, last much longer and are more serious – since they are bigger and so bring a greater loss of power – than a passing and usually predictable drop in the wind.

Of course, we could not rely 100 per cent on the wind, but no one suggests that. National grids are relaxed about such intermittency, and studies worldwide conclude that it presents no problem when less than 20 per cent of electricity comes from the wind (at present it supplies 5 per cent of our power) and it only marginally increases costs up to some 40 per cent. After that, storage and other ways of ironing out peaks and troughs will have to be developed, but there is time for that.

Wind also requires a great deal of space: hence the increasing opposition. The answer is to go offshore – less than 4 per cent of British waters could provide some 40 per cent of our power – but, though costs will come down there as well, it is at present three times more expensive than on land.

So the industry will have to be much more careful about where it sites its turbines, and a lot more ready to consult communities and share the benefits with them. And the Government will need to encourage community ownership – and do very much more to boost the development of other renewable sources like tidal power.


The new improved Obama Volt

2013 Chevy Volts will now need only 10 1/2 Hours Charging Time to Go 38 Miles

Great news for anyone foolish enough to be in the market for a Government Motors Volt. While the base price holds steady at a luxury-level $39,995, the 2013 Volt will have an increased all-electric range of 38 miles.

On the downside, it will now take even longer to charge: 10.5 hours using household current.

That comes to over 16 minutes charging time per mile. It would literally be just as fast to walk. Government subsidies come to an incredible $250,000 for every Volt sold. But not many sell anyway. Anyone wonder why?


Heartland Institute Responds to Pacific Institute’s Reinstatement of crooked Gleick

The Board of Directors of the Pacific Institute announced yesterday it was “pleased to welcome Dr. Peter Gleick back to his position as president” of the organization. The announcement comes three months after Gleick, a prominent climate scientist, confessed to stealing confidential board documents from The Heartland Institute.

Gleick also circulated a memo, purportedly describing Heartland’s “climate strategy,” that he originally claimed to have received from Heartland, and later claimed to have received “in the mail” from an anonymous source. Heartland and others identified the memo as a fake and continue to believe it was most likely written by Gleick himself to damage Heartland’s reputation.

Since the “Fakegate” scandal broke in February, environmental groups including Greenpeace and have used the fake memo to launch disinformation campaigns against Heartland’s donors and the scientists who participate in its climate change research programs.

The following statement from Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute, may be used for attribution:

“Fakegate – which began when a fake memo was circulated to defame the world’s most prominent source of skepticism on man-made global warming – has now generated a fake investigation claiming to exonerate the person at the center of the scandal.

“Whereas The Heartland Institute has been open and honest with the public and the press, sharing emails and the results of its own internal investigations, the Pacific Institute has refused to identify who conducted its investigation, to release its report, or even to respond to our inquiries about what questions were asked of Gleick.

“As near as we can tell, this was not an investigation. It was a whitewash.

“The Pacific Institute’s board of directors has failed to perform its duty and should be deeply ashamed. We have asked the federal government to prosecute Gleick for what we believe were serious crimes he committed, and we await its decision.”



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


8 June, 2012

A new level of Greenie waffle: "boundaries"

And only Greenies can identify them of course. They are just grabbed out of the air

The United Nations has a warning: thresholds ahead.

Not only are the world's citizens failing to halt the increasing environmental strain felt across the globe, but some of the Earth's systems are nearing points of drastic, nonlinear change that could threaten both ecosystems and human development.

That's the warning advanced today by a major U.N. environmental report -- the fifth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5) -- prepared in advance of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development this month in Rio de Janeiro, known as Rio+20, which will bring a host of world leaders together to discuss the balance between growth and environmental degradation.

"If current patterns of production and consumption of natural resources prevail and cannot be reversed and 'decoupled,' then governments will preside over unprecedented levels of damage and degradation," said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme, in launching the report.

With the report, the United Nations has reaffirmed its use of a controversial new metric for assessing the world's sustainable path: "planetary boundaries." Proposed three years ago in the journal Nature, the boundaries are roughly based on the limits estimated during the past 10,000 years of human activity, and they have been seized upon by policymakers seeking a guide to the future of life on Earth.

The endorsement of world leaders for such boundaries -- say, for example, a limit for atmospheric carbon dioxide, land-use change or biodiversity loss -- is expected to be a major rhetorical highlight of the Rio+20 summit. And unlike its predecessor two decades ago, which resulted in the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity, Rio+20 is unlikely to score any international binding agreements, making the battle over its message especially important.

While planetary boundaries have been seen as a successor to global warming, climate change or biodiversity as a top-level message, some scientists have questioned the United Nations' rapid embrace of the concept. For example, instead of boundaries, the scientific focus should rest on "planetary opportunities," a high-profile group of scientists argues in the journal BioScience this month.

Indeed, there is a consensus, which includes many of authors of the original Nature paper, that the boundaries concept remains scientifically weak, is not grounded in physical limits -- except perhaps with climate change -- and has received far too much attention from the media, said Erle Ellis, a geographer at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and co-author of the BioScience paper.

"Moreover, many [scientists] are convinced that focusing on the [boundaries] approach will weaken, rather than strengthen, the role of science in informing society in environmental decisionmaking," Ellis added.

This is not to say that scientists are not concerned about the world's passing certain irreversible thresholds, like the melting of ice sheets. Indeed, a review paper published today in Nature warns that the world could be approaching a "state shift" in its biosphere (see related story). But whether these thresholds, which contain so much uncertainty, should become a policy locus is another question, and one likely to run throughout the Rio+20 meeting.


Oil galore

Hubbert's peak turned out to be a pimple

Everyone has heard about the Bakken shale, the huge expanse of oil-bearing rock underneath North Dakota and Montana that billionaire Harold Hamm thinks could yield 24 billion barrels of oil in the decades to come. The Bakken is a huge boon, both to the economic health of the northern Plains states, but also to the petroleum balance of the United States. From just 60,000 barrels per day five years ago, the Bakken is now giving up 500,000 bpd, with 210,000 bpd of that coming on in just the past year. Given the availability of enough rigs to drill it and crews to frack it, there’s no reason why the Bakken couldn’t be producing more than 1 million bpd by the end of the decade, a level that could be maintained for halfway through the century.

But as great as the Bakken is, I learned last week about another oil shale play that dwarfs it. It’s called The Bazhenov. It’s in Western Siberia, in Russia. And while the Bakken is big, the Bazhenov — according to a report last week by Sanford Bernstein’s lead international oil analyst Oswald Clint — “covers 2.3 million square kilometers or 570 million acres, which is the size of Texas and the Gulf of Mexico combined.” This is 80 times bigger than the

Getting access to the Bazhenov appears to be a key element in both ExxonMobil and Statoil‘s big new joint ventures with Kremlin-controlled Rosneft. Exxon’s recent statement says the two companies have agreed “to jointly develop tight oil production technologies in Western Siberia.”

No wonder. The geology of the Bazhenov looks just as good if not better. Its pay zone averages about 100 feet thick, and as Clint points out, the Bazhenov has lots of cracks and fractures that could make its oil flow more readily. The couple of test wells that he cites flowed at an average of 400 barrels per day. That’s in line with the Bakken average.

This Siberian bonanza might be news to most of us, but it’s old news to Big Oil. The conventional oil fields of Siberia have been producing millions of barrels a day for decades — oil that originated in the Bazhenov “source rock” then slowly oozed up over the millenia. From the looks of it, geologists have been looking at the Bazhenov for more than 20 years.

It’s only in the last five years that the technology and expertise has been developed that will enable drillers to harvest it. Lukoil‘s president Vagit Alekperov said a year ago that his company was also experimenting with the shale.

Analyst Clint figures that it won’t be hard for Big Oil to export their shale-cracking techniques to Siberia. They will be challenged, however by summer weather in Siberia, which softens the ground enough to prevent drilling for much of the season. If Russia can get its act together to deploy 300 drilling rigs to the play, Clint figures Bazhenov could be producing 1 million bpd by 2020.

This would, of course, have huge geopolitical implications. Russia, though it doesn’t have as many proved reserves as Saudi Arabia, had been outproducing the Saudis for years, averaging about 10 million bpd to Saudi’s 9 million bpd. This year, the Saudis are said to have surpassed Russia, leading some pundits to speculate that Russian oil supply had peaked and was set to begin spiralling down.

Developing the Bazhenov could reverse that decline. Unlike the Kremlin’s much ballyhooed plan to drill for oil in ice-packed Arctic waters, the beauty of the Bazhenov is that it is onshore and it underlies an area that is already criss-crossed with pipelines serving mature, conventional fields. No need for expensive icebreakers, cold-weather drillships and subsea pipelines.

If Harold Hamm is convinced the Bakken will give up 24 billion barrels, a play 80 times bigger like the Bazhenov would imply 1,920 billion barrels. That’s a preposterous figure, enough oil to satisfy all of current global demand for 64 years, or to do 5 million bpd for more than 1,000 years. Rosneft, says Clint, has already estimated 18 billion barrels on its Bazhenov acreage. Either way, it looks like they’ll still be working the Bazhenov long after Vladimir Putin has finally retired and the Peak Oil crowd realizes there’s more oil out there than we’ve ever imagined.


The dirty side of "Green"

Solar cells do not offset greenhouse gases or curb fossil fuel use in the United States according to a new environmental book, Green Illusions (June 2012, University of Nebraska Press), written by University of California - Berkeley visiting scholar Ozzie Zehner. Green Illusions explains how the solar industry has grown to become one of the leading emitters of hexafluoroethane (C2F6), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). These three potent greenhouse gases, used by solar cell fabricators, make carbon dioxide (CO2) seem harmless.

Hexafluoroethane has a global warming potential that is 12,000 times higher than CO2, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is 100 percent manufactured by humans, and survives 10,000 years once released into the atmosphere. Nitrogen trifluoride is 17,000 times more virulent than CO2, and SF6, the most treacherous greenhouse gas, is over 23,000 times more threatening.

The solar photovoltaic industry is one of the fastest-growing emitters of these gases, which are now measurably accumulating within the earth's atmosphere according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). A NOAA study shows that atmospheric concentrations of SF6 have been rising exponentially. A paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letters documents that atmospheric NF3 levels have been rising 11 percent per year.

"If photovoltaic production grows, so will the associated side effects," claims Zehner. "Even worse, there's no evidence that solar cells offset fossil fuel use in the American context." Zehner explains that alternative energy subsidies keep retail electricity costs incrementally lower, which then spurs demand. "It's a boomerang effect," remarks Zehner. "The harder we throw alternative energy into the electrical grid, the harder demand comes back to hit us on the head. Historically, we've filled that demand by building more fossil fuel plants, not fewer."

Instead, Zehner advocates shifting to energy taxes and other conservation measures. He claims that even some of the most expensive options for dealing with CO2 would become cost competitive long before today's solar cell technologies.

"If limiting CO2 is our goal, we might be better off directing our time and resources to those options first; solar cells seem a wasteful and pricey strategy," says Zehner. "It is hard to conceive of a justification for extracting taxes from the working class to fund installations of Stone Age photovoltaic technologies high in the gold-rimmed suburbs of Arizona and California."

Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism forms "a bold look at the downside of green technologies and a host of refreshingly simple substitute solutions," according to Kirkus Reviews.


Obama Administration Over-Regulating Farms Out of Business

The Obama administration is no friend of farmers, and the recent stunt involving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sending spy planes over the state of Nebraska to keep an eye on where cows drop their patties is the latest example of overreach by an administration that is bent on controlling every aspect of our lives, but farming in particular.

According to the Lincoln Journal Star, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality has been overseeing the health of Nebraska's waters for more than 30 years, and its director, Mike Linder, says he's not sure why the flyovers are taking place. Why let the states do for themselves what our all-knowing, all-seeing government can do for them?

At an agricultural conference in November 2011 keynote speaker and environmental attorney, Harriet Hageman, warned "The EPA is one of the most insidious organizations in the US." and is "a prime example of regulation without representation."

Farmers and ranchers have similar concerns about Obama's U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). During a bus tour across rural America last summer, Obama was confronted time and again by ranchers and farmers concerned that unsubstantiated regulation was regulating them out of business. According to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, proposed USDA regulations "would cost 114,000 jobs nationwide and increase retail meat prices more than three percent." A statistic likely lost on a president whose discriminating palate includes $100 steaks.

Certainly no one can forget the USDA's attempt to impose a Christmas tree "tax" (fee) to "improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees." Bah humbug.

Last fall, the Department of Labor (DOL) attempted to regulate the relationship shared between parents and their kids on family farms. According to Politico, the proposed rule would have prohibited those under age 16 from manual labor like stall cleaning using a shovel and using a battery-operated screwdriver. When I was a kid, this type of manual labor was called Saturday morning chores. The bill also limited exposure to sunlight based upon wind speed and humidity as well as participation in 4-H clubs. And Mrs. Obama wonders why our kids are so fat.

Last but not least, the Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed a rule that would reclassify all farm vehicles as commercial motor vehicles meaning anyone driving a tractor or operating certain farm equipment would require a commercial driver's license. Never mind the fact that many farm workers are migrant workers who do not qualify for drivers' licenses, let alone commercial drivers' licenses.

Admittedly, farmers have their hands dirty in this corner they find themselves backed into. Farming subsidies almost invite the government to meddle in an industry it plays such a big role in propping up. But farms are not just part of the fabric of this country; American farms provide much needed food aid to the third world. When you apply bureaucratic pressure to any industry, you run the risk of driving those same workers out of the industry, which becomes self-defeating.

Government control of the farming industry is illustrative of the Obama Administration which operates more like a dictatorship than a representative democracy. Whether it's farming, healthcare, the auto industry or energy production, there is no amount of government intervention and overreach that can replace good, old-fashioned American ingenuity and hard work.


The predictions of doom never stop (and never eventuate): "Earth Is Headed for Disaster, Interdisciplinary Scientific Review Concludes"

More modelling and a recycled false prophet

An interdisciplinary group of 22 scientists, combining paleontological evidence with ecological modeling, has concluded that the earth appears headed toward catastrophic and irreversible environmental changes.

Their report, in the June 7 issue of the journal Nature, describes an exponentially increasing rate of species extinctions, extreme climate fluctuations, and other threats that together risk a level of upheaval not seen since the large-scale extinctions 65 million years ago that killed off the dinosaurs.

The lead author of the report is Anthony D. Barnosky, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California at Berkeley, which coordinated the work in an 18-month project that inaugurated the university’s Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology.

The report’s conclusions center on a measure of the amount of the earth’s land surface that has been transformed by people, from forests and prairies to uses such as cornfields and parking lots. The percentage of transformed land now stands at 43 percent, with the world’s population at seven billion.

The scientists contributing to the report have calculated the various forms of damage that will be seen when the usage level exceeds 50 percent, as is expected around 2025, when the population reaches eight billion, Mr. Barnosky said. The scientists making those estimates include biologists, ecologists, geologists, paleontologists, and complex-systems theoreticians in the United States, Canada, South America, and Europe.

Their conclusion is that the damaging effects, when combined, appear even worse than each of the experts has seen in his or her own field, Mr. Barnosky said. “These are all driving forces that in fact are greater than what we saw in the past,” he said.

The size of the problems demands a global response, Mr. Barnosky said. “The only way out of them is cooperation between nations, between individuals on a global basis,” he said.

Yet he acknowledged that in a nation with sharp political divisions, including over environmental issues, the report may not garner much attention. “I don’t know how much it will sway the people who are just not inclined to believe any of this stuff anyway, who just basically will put their heads in the sand and say, Let’s go on with business as usual,” he said.

The authors of the report, in fact, make clear that they cannot be totally sure when the earth’s environment will reach a “tipping point” beyond which recovery to anything resembling current conditions will be impossible, or even if that will happen. “That’s the usual scientific covering-all-your-bases” statement, Mr. Barnosky said.

But for others, the warning contained in the Berkeley-led report may not be strong enough. “I suspect it’s a little too optimistic,” said Paul R. Ehrlich, a professor of population studies at Stanford University known for his 1968 book The Population Bomb.

Mr. Ehrlich said he foresees a series of dire threats to humanity, many virtually untouched by political leaders, including climate change, water shortages, and the widespread use of man-made toxins. Even a single repercussion of one of those, such as water scarcity leading to nuclear war between India and Pakistan, could devastate populations worldwide, he said.

“Generally the scientific community has spoken many times,” Mr. Ehrlich said, “but nobody’s paying any attention.”

(For good reason. Ehrlich said much the same thing in 1972: "Everybody All Disappear In A Cloud Of Blue Steam" By 1992. You'd think the Warmists would have the brains to include out such a notorious fool as Ehrlich. That they include him in shows what fools they are -- JR)


Exotic diseases from warmer climates gain foothold in the U.S.

And its due to global warming, not illegal immigration. Pity there's been no warming in the USA for many years -- but there's been LOTS of illegal immigratiuon

Diseases once thought to be rare or exotic in the United States are gaining a presence and getting new attention from medical researchers who are probing how immigration, limited access to care and the impacts of climate change are influencing their spread.

Illnesses like schistosomiasis, Chagas disease and dengue are endemic in warmer, wetter and poorer areas of the world, often closer to the equator. According to the World Health Organization, almost 1 billion people are afflicted with more than one tropical disease.

Caused by bacteria, parasites and viruses, these diseases are spread through bites, excrement and dirty water stemming from substandard housing and sanitation. Consequently, the United States has been largely isolated from them.

But Americans are traveling more, and as tropical vacationers return home, they may unwittingly bring back dangerous souvenirs. Immigrants from endemic regions are also bringing in these diseases, some of which can lie dormant for years. All the while, the flies, ticks and mosquitoes that spread these illnesses are moving north as rising temperatures make new areas more welcoming.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


7 June, 2012

Mercury mania stoops to fraud

Willie Soon

As a scientist who has spent the past ten years studying the science of mercury (Hg) and the biologically toxic form of mercury, methylmercury (MeHg), I was taken aback by the clear misuse of the phrase “good science” in a recent letter by Florida DEP’s director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration (published in the Florida Times-Union newspaper).

The director referred to FDEP’s draft report in setting a strict mercury limit in Florida’s river, stream, lake, and coastal waters, which was released May 24. After a careful examination of the draft report, however, I have come to the conclusion that it contains serious flaws such that the strict mercury limit proposed by FDEP is not scientifically defensible.

First, FDEP’s notion that mercury “pollution” in our air, water, and land is a new, manmade phenomenon is simply wrong. While FDEP cited a 2008 paper that reported mean mercury levels of 0.25 parts per million (or ppm) in the hair of a group of women of childbearing age (16 to 49) in the Florida Panhandle, a study of 550-year-old Alaskan mummies reported average hair mercury levels of 1.2 ppm for four adults and 1.44 ppm for four infants. One mummy had hair mercury levels as high as 4.6 ppm!

Even more importantly, the FDEP draft report failed to consider the 17-year-long Seychelles Islands study, which found no harm, nor any indications of harm, from mercury in children whose mothers ate 5 to 12 servings of fish per week. In establishing the exposure risk of MeHg by fish consumption (most relevant to Floridians), the authors of this study argued that no consistent patterns of adverse associations existed between prenatal MeHg exposures and detailed neurological and behavioral testing. They concluded that despite the risk of MeHg to expectant mothers, “ocean fish consumption during pregnancy is important for the health and development of children and that the benefits are long lasting.” Indeed, the latest Centers for Disease Control data show blood mercury levels for U.S. women and children are already below EPA’s “safe” levels for mercury—the most restrictive mercury health in the world.

It is useful to note the FDEP draft report cited a 1972 study that confirmed tuna mercury levels in the past were higher (or at least not substantially lower) than tuna caught in the world’s oceans today. Although expecting to find a 9 percent to 26 percent increase in levels of MeHg, Princeton University scientists found no increase (actually, a minor decline) in fish tissue mercury levels after comparing Pacific Ocean tuna samples from 1971 and 1998. Those scientists concluded fish mercury level “is not responding to anthropogenic emissions irrespective of the mechanisms by which mercury is methylated in the oceans and accumulated in tuna.”

Second, it is curious that the FDEP draft report failed to note that forest fires in the state of Florida alone were estimated to emit more than 4,000 lbs of mercury per year from 2002 to 2006 alone. This single source of local mercury emissions is comparable to, if not significantly higher than, the mercury emitted for 2009 from all manmade mercury sources in Florida, including coal-fired power plants (which emit less than 1,500 lbs per year).

The FDEP draft report also repeatedly mentioned volcanoes as an important source of global mercury emissions but somehow fell short in conveying the full scale of this natural source of mercury. A new study in the January 2012 issue of the journal Geology noted a truly huge emission of mercury during the Latest Permian era (about 250 million years ago) where the event was estimated to emit about 7,600 tons per year! This is about four times larger than current estimates of the amount of manmade Hg emissions globally, and it persisted for nearly 500,000 years.

Such large sources of mercury resulting from the natural environment can explain why it is not surprising to find high levels of mercury in old samples taken before contamination by modern sources of mercury emission. These high levels have been observed in the hair of Florida panthers and south Florida raccoons as well as fish and aquatic life.

It is equally important to dispel the false impression from the FDEP draft report that mercury “pollution” in Florida’s watersheds and fishes is increasing. A note of caution from the U.S. EPA is clear: Contaminants in fish have been increasingly monitored since the 1970s, which has resulted in more advisories being issued due solely to increased sampling by the various states and “not necessarily due to increased levels or frequency of contamination.”

I would further note there is a serious flaw in FDEP’s draft report that sets a mercury limit of 1.25 parts per trillion (or 0.00000125 ppm) as the new standard for Florida’s inland and coastal waters. It is tacitly assumed by the FDEP that water mercury levels are directly related to fish tissue mercury levels. In fact, no such relationship exists, and indeed the FDEP draft report admits on page 58 that “Using the data collected for the [Florida Mercury Project], no relationship is observed when comparing total mercury in the water column to total mercury in fish tissues.”

Perhaps it is time for FDEP to reconsider the scientific basis of its mercury rulemaking.

Why is the FDEP so intent on setting mercury levels below those existing in nature? Why is it so difficult for the FDEP to fully disclose or explain such publicly available information from the scientific literature to all concerned citizens of Florida? Scientific inquiry must be above political pressure and partisan advocacy. Good decisions can arise only if the scientific evidence and knowledge are examined fully, without a selective bias.


Quick! Where is that global warming? Subcontinental glaciers are not melting

Global cooling set to starve Pakistan

Climate change is already beginning to affect the Pakistani economy it seems: Punjab’s agricultural areas face a water shortage due to the late melting of the Himalayan glaciers that form the source of the region’s rivers, delaying the sowing of three of the four most important crops in the country – cotton, sugarcane and rice.

“The water flow in the rivers is approximately 35% below what it should be for this time of the year,” said Arshad Khan, an officer at the Punjab irrigation department. “That shortage may rise to as high as 45% in the coming months just as the sowing season starts.”

Pakistan has four major crops – wheat, cotton, rice and sugarcane. The latter three are grown in a single season. Farms that grow these crops employ close to a quarter of the nation’s total workforce and produce about 10% of the country’s total economic output. Even the most minor of changes to the yields in these crops has a disproportionately large direct impact on the economy as a whole.

In addition to their direct contribution to the GDP, these crops also have an effect on the textile, fertiliser, cement and automobile industries since farmers are large consumers of the products of each of those manufacturing sectors.

The wheat harvest season in Punjab has recently come to an end, freeing up millions of hectares for cultivation of what are known as kharif (autumn} crops since they harvested in the autumn. Yet many farmers are currently leaving their land idle since they do not have enough water to sow their crops. Delays in sowing crops can often result in lower yields since variations in temperature and weather conditions can affect the output on farms.

“The water shortage will definitely create hurdles for farmers. Many of them will find it difficult to sow their kharif crops,” said Arshad Khan. “Central Punjab is currently not getting its share of water [from the dams in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu and Kashmir]. As a result, the water level in the canals is also running low and we are unable to fulfil the requirements of farmers.”

Sowing crops is a relatively water-intensive process. “The kharif crops being sowed right now need immediate watering. If we cannot ensure water availability, the yield will go down,” said Aamir Ali, a farmer in Faisalabad district.


Another crook "cleared" by his buddies

Note: There is not one detail offered about the "review" or even about who conducted it

A review has cleared the scientist Peter Gleick of forging any documents in his expose of the rightwing Heartland Institute's strategy and finances, the Guardian has learned.

Gleick's sting on Heartland brought unwelcome scrutiny to the organisation's efforts to block action on climate change, and prompted a walk-out of corporate donors that has created uncertainty about its financial future.

Gleick, founder of the Pacific Institute and a well-regarded water expert, admitted and apologised for using deception to obtain internal Heartland documents last February.

He has been on leave from the institute pending an external investigation into the unauthorised release of the documents, although it is not entirely clear what the investigation entailed. That investigation is now complete, and the conclusions will be made public.

The leaked Heartland documents included a list of donors and plans to instill doubts in school children on the existence of climate change.

They brought new scrutiny to the efforts by Heartland to block action on global warming, and to the existence of a shadowy network of rightwing organisations working to discredit climate science.

The thinktank also tried to capitalise on Gleick's actions, devoting a section of its website to Fakegate, as it termed the sting, and appealing for donations to combat what it called leftwing bullying.

Following the expose, Heartland acknowledged most of the documents were genuine. But the thinktank claimed the most explosive document, a two-page strategy memo summarising plans spelled out in detail elsewhere, was a fake.

Heartland also accused Gleick of forging the document and published findings of computer forensics experts that the memo did not appear to be a genuine strategy document.

Gleick, for his part, has consistently denied forging the document.


Germany's Nuclear Phase-Out hits the poor

Now that they've got to buy in their electricity from French nuclear reactors (Don't laugh!)

The German government was quick to approve a phase-out of nuclear power in the country after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Now the costs of moving toward renewable energy are just being realized, and low-income consumers are paying the price.

After two weeks, the first letter arrives. The second notice comes a week later. On the fourth week, the bell rings and a technician from the power company, Vattenfall, is at the door. He has a black toolbox under his arm and he means business.

Aminta Seck, 39, has been through this twice before. If she doesn't pay the technician at least part of what she owes the company, he'll disconnect her electricity, leaving Seck and her three-year-old son Liam sitting in the dark in their two-room apartment, without lights, a working stove, refrigerator or TV.

Electricity prices in Germany have risen by more than 10 percent since the current coalition of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) took office. The price hike has been too much for some like Seck, an unemployed decorator from Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg district.

"Approximately every tenth household currently has problems paying for rising energy costs," says Holger Krawinkel at the Federation of German Consumer Organizations.

Left in the Dark

About 200,000 recipients of Hartz IV, Germany's benefits program for the long-term unemployed, had their power cut off last year because of unpaid bills, according to Paritätische Gesamtverband, an umbrella association for social movements in Germany.

The consumer protection organization for the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia estimates that number to be as high as 600,000 per year. Ulrike Mascher, president of VdK, an interest group focusing on social justice, uses terms such as "fuel poverty" and a "blatant violation of fundamental social rights," when talking about the issue.

Meanwhile, the next price hikes are just around the corner. "The cost of electricity will rise, there's no question about that," says Jochen Homann, head of Germany's state-run Federal Network Agency.

The federal Economy Ministry calculates internally that prices will increase by between three and five euro cents per kilowatt hour within the next 12 months, in order to finance renewable energy subsidies and grid expansion. Those increases amount to an additional annual burden of between €105 and €175 ($130 and $220) for a family of three.

Consumer protection advocates and interest groups focusing on social issues blame the federal government for these increases. In particular, they say, the unchecked expansion of highly-subsidized photovoltaic installations is driving prices up, without the benefit of creating a commensurate increase in supply.

The CDU-FDP coalition itself has long wanted to cut back on funding for solar energy, but the Bundesrat -- Germany's upper house of parliament, which represents the individual federal states -- voted against the measure. It is unlikely lawmakers will reach a compromise on the issue before their summer recess this year.

'A Major Debate'

More than a year has passed since the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in Japan prompted Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, to vote to gradually phase out the country's nuclear power plants, replacing them wherever possible with renewable energy sources. Yet it is only now that a serious discussion is beginning over the costs of the nuclear phase-out.

Chancellor Angela Merkel made the transition to renewable energy a top priority after dismissing her environment minister, Norbert Röttgen, last month, but essential questions remain unanswered. Who will pay for this supposed "joint effort," in Merkel's words? What's the upper limit on costs? And when will voters' positive view of the nuclear phase-out give way to frustration over rising costs?

"I am very concerned about the way energy prices are growing," says Economy Minister Philipp Rösler of the FDP, discussing what he describes as a "battle to keep energy affordable." Thomas Bareiss, who coordinates energy policy issues for the parliamentary group of the CDU and its Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), predicts: "We're going to see a major debate over who pays for the transition to renewable energy."

The last thing the chancellor wants, especially with parliamentary elections coming up next year, is to open herself up to accusations that she lacks a sense of social justice or is indifferent to social issues. Leading figures within her coalition are pondering ways to combat the steady rise in energy prices, and to divert attention away from the failures over the past 12 months.

Their list of proposed solutions ranges from reducing energy costs for low-income consumers, to a new program that would earmark billions of euros for renewable energy sources and energy storage capacity. "We can't allow electricity to become a luxury," says new Environment Minister Peter Altmaier of the CDU, who also said he intends to meet as soon as possible with representatives from social welfare organizations.


German President Warns Eco-Lobby Against Centrally Planned Energy Policy

German President Joachim Gauck gave one of the most rational speeches on energy and environmental policy. No apocalyptic scenarios, no eco-fiction and a call to deal rationally and objectively with environmental and climate issues. "There is no better fertile soil for new ideas and solutions than an open society with open markets and free competition."

Gauck called the green energy transition “An ambitious project, which Germany as a leading industrial nation decided to undertake." He continued: "It will not succeed by means of planned economy regulations. Especially not with a plethora of subsidies ... There is no better fertile soil for new ideas and solutions than an open society with open markets and free competition ... Market-based, growth-friendly environment policy means to me that costs for environmental pollution and environmental risks will be charged to the polluters and not the taxpayers."

The following sentence will also not have particularly appealed to many listeners: "Sustainability does not imply limitation or giving up, but responsibility and reason." Gauck concluded his speech with a call for "sustainable progress".

Also remarkable was that he put "scientists and engineers" on top of a list of those who are needed for a better environment. The issue of "climate" appeared at the end of the speech, with a surprisingly cautious statement: "Leading climate scientists warn that momentous global warming is virtually unstoppable."

Presumably, this cautious note was added not only because the people in the park were freezing at 12 degree midday temperatures in June and were partially clothed in winter jackets.

Just a year ago, climate change speeches in Berlin were very different. Back then, speakers always emphasised that "the climate scientists" or even "the climate science” leave "no doubt" that the great warming is going to come. Now it is only the "leading climate researchers", who "warn”. A diplomatic retreat from the all-party dogma.

It is also interesting that Hubert Weinzierl (German Federal Environmental Foundation) did not put climate at the centre of his speech either, as it was usual at such events not so long ago. He mentioned it only as part of a series of four major global problems. The others were resource efficiency, loss of nature and feeding the growing world population.

This smells like a farewell to climate change as the dominant ecological theme. You don’t have to be a comedian to consider the fact that Germany is currently increasing again the energy generation by fossil fuels because of the hasty nuclear phase-out leaves no other choice.

Incidentally, the meadow behind the English lawn on which the celebration took place, is very beautiful and rich in wild flowers. Tomorrow the fox will also dare to return there again. It might find some left-over of an eco-sausage.


Australia: Queensland Environment Minister is a climate change sceptic

(The State of Queensland is bigger than Texas and California combined and has large natural resources)

QUEENSLAND'S new Environment Minister says he is not "100 per cent convinced" that humans are causing climate change.

Andrew Powell said he believed the climate was warming and humans needed to stop polluting and reduce their reliance on non-renewable energy sources. But he said he was "sceptical" human activity was to blame for all the changes.

"I think I represent a view that is fairly consistent across a certain percentage of the population, that until I'm 100 per cent convinced I'm always going to be a bit sceptical," he said, speaking during a press conference at Newmarket.

He was backed by Premier Campbell Newman, who first registered "surprise" that Mr Powell had been questioned over his stance. "I mean the sea-level rise predictions have changed constantly over the last 15 years and I think that's what he's saying," Mr Newman said. "(Mr Powell's) saying something that a Labor Minister would never have had to the honesty to say - we don't know what the impacts are precisely."

Asked whether he believed humans were responsible for climate change, Mr Newman said: "In terms of what the precise impacts will be of climate change anybody who says they know is having a lend of you." He said it was "refreshing" Mr Powell was "prepared to tell the truth".



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


6 June, 2012

The Protean precautionary principle

Ben Pile is a throughly admirable climate skeptic but he usually writes in such an intellectual way that he gives even me a bit of a headache -- and with 200+ published academic journal articles and an interest in non-English poetry I have some claims as an intellectual myself. The following excerpt from one of his articles is pretty clear however -- with a bit of judicious re-paragraphing.

I myself always answer advocates of the precautionary principle by agreeing with it -- and pointing out how near we are to the end of a warm interglacial -- which leads to the imperative that we should be preparing urgently for global cooling

Shrill environmental rhetoric has been the growing thorn in its own side. The angrier and louder environmentalists have got, the more they have done to beset their own progress. The Joe Romms, 10:10 campaigns and George Monbiots of the world have done more to expose the real character of environmentalism than anything the sceptics have been able to throw at them. Greens are left fighting a rear-guard action… against themselves. It would be a comedy, if it wasn’t the case that the world was so invested in environmental policy-making. It is instead tragedy.

While we might welcome moves by some environmentalists to counsel their fellow greens about the incautious application of the… erm… precautionary principle, their attempts to remove themselves from the mess they have made do not show any evidence that they understand it, or can ever really escape it. Continuing his own attempts to reconcile the pro and anti-GM greens, Sunny Hundal betrays his irreconcilably contradicted perspective on today’s Liberal Conspiracy blog:
Why do most politically active right-wingers Conservatives and UKIPers deny climate change? It seems to me the science is irrelevant; they deny it because they hate the political implications of global warming and the cost of mitigation. They’ve convinced themselves that AGW is a far-left conspiracy to raise their taxes and change their lifestyle.....

Should people concerned about the growth of nuclear weapon technology, or (hypothetically) human mutation, ignore the potential consequences? Not really. It’s the job of elected representatives to voice those concerns and ask (possibly ignorant) questions. They may even campaign to stop funding. The court of public opinion drives democracy – to ignore that opinion is dangerous. The Monsanto problem should not be dismissed away, at least not for elected representatives of the left.

So democracy is good, when its about the things Sunny Hundal wants it to be about: Monsanto, nuclear proliferation, and so on. But democracy is not so good when it asks questions about the ‘political implications of global warming’. Nobody who challenges climate change orthodoxy could be, as Sunny is, concerned about the implications for democracy.

In other words, he rightly points out that political arguments are promiscuous with ‘scientific evidence’, but doesn’t notice himself hiding his own prejudices behind ‘science’, which allows him to determine that only some concerns are legitimate.

Environmentalists have always hidden their political project behind science, and speculated about to what motivates other people to see things differently… The only answer they can produce is that everyone else — even their own pals — is ‘scientifically illiterate’.

Environmentalists, between them, claim to have the monopoly on science and democracy, but are promiscuous with both. ‘Democracy’ has weight when environmentalists are hiding behind ‘public opinion’, and science is invoked in spite of it. Fundamentally, it is the precautionary principle which has allowed environmentalists to vacillate. It has been used to circumvent democracy, or to say that people are not capable of understanding the issues (i.e. risk), and then used to amplify risk, no matter what ‘science says’.

The precautionary principle applies to any technology, no matter how long it has been around, and presumes in favour of regulating it, notwithstanding that ‘scientific evidence’ may not be able to substantiate any claim that it is dangerous. Under the precautionary principle, a weak, theoretical risk is magnified by its potential impact. A nuclear accident can be widespread. Thus, nuclear power is regarded as certainly more ‘risky’ than conventional means. Similarly, under the precautionary approach, and under climate agreements, controls on the emissions of CO2 from industry are sought, not because any substantial evidence exists that they are harmful, but because we cannot say how harmful they will be.

Look carefully at the arguments for things such as containing global temperatures beneath 2 degrees, for instance, and it turns out that 2 degrees is not a limit detected by science, but is instead a arbitrary horizon of uncertainty. Before 2 degrees, we can be more sure of our assumptions. Beyond it, things become less certain, and theoretical risks are magnified. There may well exist very reasonable scientific measurements which show how a rising proportion of CO2 in the atmosphere will produce an increase in temperature. But then there is the difficult matter of how this relatively modest increase will be exacerbated by feedback mechanisms. And then there is another question about how much that warming will turn into effects throughout the climate, and in turn how much that will effect other natural processes before it is experienced by human society.

In each leap, what counts in the policy-makers perspective is not what has been shown, but what the putative risks are. Causal chains, beginning with CO2 emissions scenarios turn into story lines, each with a measure of probability attached to them. Under the precautionary principle, policy makers are obliged to take the worst case.

And under such an obligation, the likelihood of 20-30 cm of sea level rise by 2100 becomes 10 meters. Slightly warmer nights and slightly longer summers with slightly more warmer days becomes desertification and mass extinction. Slightly milder winters with slightly more precipitation becomes floods of biblical proportions. Slightly different weather patterns become the denuding of fertile grounds, and the mass migration of hundreds of millions of people looking for shelter, water and food.

To point out that this is what the precautionary principle does to ‘scientific evidence’ — even while acknowledging that climate change is a problem — is to be ‘scientifically illiterate’, or to be ‘anti-science’, or to be a ‘denier’.

So the journalists who are now rounding on anti-GM and anti-nuclear campaigners are doing so at the risk of undermining their own perspectives. I am happy to agree with them that the benefits of nuclear and GM outweigh any reasonable estimation of their risks.

But they are naive about their own arguments. The sensible estimation of risks is completely confused by the precautionary principle — risk analysis without numbers — whether the issue is GM, nuclear, or climate change.

That they are pulling the rug out from under their own feet should give us no cause for celebration yet: few of them are capable of reflecting on their own incoherence, and fewer still are reflecting on the implications for the absurd and far-reaching policies that have been created in order to ‘save the planet’. And the process of building supranational political institutions continues apace, as if there were nothing wrong with the precautionary principle — the fundamental of that institution building — at all.


Union of Concerned Scientists Cooks the Books, Media Swallow It

An environmentalist lobbying group claims corporations pay vast sums to misrepresent climate science.

The fact that at least one member of the UCS is a dog does however lend a lighter touch to their pontifications

Ronald Bailey

Last week the environmental lobbying group the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a new report entitled "A Climate of Corporate Control: How Corporations Have Influenced the U.S. Dialogue on Climate Science and Policy" [PDF]. Among other things, the report claims to trace corporate donations in 2008 and 2009 to think tanks and politicians as a way to uncover the true corporate attitudes and intentions toward climate change science and policy. According to the UCS, its analysis reveals that some corporations are climate-change science hypocrites, claiming to support the climate-change “consensus” in some venues but not in others. This climate hypocrisy allegedly produces confusion among both the public and policymakers, resulting in the defeat or delay of urgent policies needed to address climate change.

Several prominent news outlets swallowed these assertions from the UCS study. For example, the Los Angeles Times reported, “Some major U.S. corporations that support climate science in their public relations materials actively work to derail regulations and laws addressing global warming through lobbying, campaign donations and support of various advocacy groups.” In line with the findings of the UCS, the L.A. Times specifically declared, “General Electric has backed six environmental and non-partisan research groups that accept the scientific consensus on climate change, including the Brookings Institution and the Nature Conservancy. At the same time, it has funded four organizations that reject or question the consensus, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation.” Based on the UCS report, The Guardian (U.K.) stated, “Some of America's top companies are spending heavily to block action on climate change or discredit climate science, despite public commitments to sustainable and green values.” The Guardian specifically mentioned that UCS had identified General Electric as being two-faced about climate change. According to the UCS report, among the four GE-supported organizations that "misrepresent" climate-change science is the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website.

So what vast sums of money did the duplicitous executives at General Electric lavish on the Reason Foundation in 2008 and 2009 to support an implied campaign to traduce climate science? Exactly $325. How much did GE spend on matching and direct grants on the six think tanks identified by the UCS as being pro-climate consensus? That would be $497,744. At least with regard to General Electric’s contributions, it appears that the Union of Concerned Scientists has salted a follow-the-money trail with pieces of fool’s gold, which certain unwary news outlets obligingly picked up and reported as real bullion.

Let’s take a deeper look at just how much “support” General Electric has funneled into the Reason Foundation’s coffers. The UCS report notes it identified this “support” by mining General Electric’s two most recent IRS 990 forms, which report charitable giving by the GE Foundation. I asked Reason's development people how much GE has contributed to the Reason Foundation during those two years. The grand total in our files and confirmed by the 990 forms investigated by the UCS researchers: $100 in 2009, and $225 in 2008.

Puzzled, I called up Dr. Francesca Grifo, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists and director of its Scientific Integrity Program. She put me on speakerphone with her and the author of the report, Gretchen Goldman. I asked them if these minuscule donations were why GE was listed as a corporate supporter of the Reason Foundation. They answered yes. Seriously? Yes. They added that GE’s 990 forms did not disclose what the funds would be used for, darkly implying that the money might be directed to what the UCS might regard as climate disinformation campaigns.

In a memo (pdf) sent to me the next day (at my request), Grifo explained that the UCS did not have a threshold dollar amount for funds in their analysis. She added that GE's 990 forms do not provide further information on the nature of these payments. But that is simply not true. The 990 forms clearly indicate to even the casual investigator that the payments are matching funds for employees’ donations, meaning that individual GE employees gave money, and the company matched it. (GE matching fund donations to the Union of Concerned Scientists for those same two years totaled $6,980, or 21 times more than was donated to the Reason Foundation.) Grifo's memo does note that the UCS report admits “that because the details of these affiliations are not publicly available, we cannot directly link specific donations to climate-related activities.” Indeed not. But it appears that UCS nonetheless wanted credulous reporters to uncritically accept these vaguely-referenced payments as evidence of underhanded corporate influence.

Digging further into GE’s 990 forms one finds that with just a few significant exceptions, all of the money donated to the various groups is in fact corporate matching funds for employee donations. In other words, GE executives had no hand in directing these donations.

Now consider the actual amounts contributed by GE employees (through GE’s matching funds program), as well the several directed donations from the GE Foundation. With regard to matching funds, the think tanks identified by UCS as climate science “supporters” are the Brookings Institution, Earthwatch, the Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, the Woods Hole Research Center, the Worldwatch Institute, and the World Resources Institute. The UCS’ climate “misrepresenters” are the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), and the Reason Foundation. The UCS report puts together an “anti-climate: pro-climate ratio” which is based on funding allocated between the organizations identified as anti- and pro- by UCS researchers. Much of the report focuses on political giving, but let’s restrict this analysis to just the money that individual GE employees donated to think tanks and see what that might tell us about how careful and rigorous the UCS researchers were in putting their report together.

In 2009, the think tanks identified as pro-climate received matching funds from GE amounting to $5,216.40 for Brookings; $150 for Earthwatch; $44,000 for the Nature Conservancy; $30 for Conservation International; $185 for the Woods Hole Center; $150 for Worldwatch; plus a directed grant of $95,000 to the World Resources Institute; all for a grand total of $144,731.40. The think tanks categorized as anti-climate garnered $32,765 for Heritage; $750 for Cato; $50 for CEI; and $100 for Reason; for a grand total of $33,665.

In 2008, Brookings once again received $5,216.40, plus a directed grant from the GE Foundation of $100,000; Conservation International, $250; Earthwatch, $1,035; the Nature Conservancy, $173,677.03; the Woods Hole Research Center, $120; and Worldwatch, $250; plus a directed grant to the World Resources Institute of $73,500; yielding a grand total $353,013.43. GE matching funds for the opposing nonprofit think tanks came to $5,830 for Heritage; $2,450 for Cato; $25 for CEI; and $225 for Reason; amounting to a grand total of $8,530.

When you add up the allegedly pro-climate matching funds, the total is $497,744, while the total for the purportedly anti-climate funds from GE employees amounts to $42,195. Applying the UCS’s “methodology” to the think tank world, this yields a pro/anti-climate ratio of nearly 12 to 1. As for Reason Foundation, when you compare the total GE funding that went to pro-climate groups, that figure is more than 1,500 times greater than the paltry, but nevertheless much appreciated, matching funds Reason received. I do note that GE employees were uncommonly generous to Heritage in 2009, but I suspect that such giving might have more to do with growing Republican opposition to the Obama administration’s economic policies than anything to do with concerns about climate-change science. (I also asked Reason's development team about any past GE contributions to the Reason Foundation and I am unhappy to report that the corporation last contributed in 1993 in the amount of $10,000. This is just one year after the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change had been negotiated at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.)

But there’s more. Just combing through the GE 990 forms, it appears that lots of non-profits that work on climate change issues that were “supported” by the company were unaccountably overlooked by the UCS researchers. Among those missed are Greenpeace, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense, Friends of the Earth, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club. All of these non-profits were mentioned in connection with climate change hundreds of times in the Nexis database, whereas the Reason Foundation turned up only 37 times.

Adding up the funds from the 990 forms contributed in 2008 and 2009 by means of matching grants to these additional groups, the total comes to $131,086. Adjusting the pro/anti ratio to take these funds into account now finds the UCS approved funding is nearly 15 times that attributed by the UCS researchers to disapproved groups. It bears noting that the direct grants (as distinct from employee matching grants) amounting to $100,000 for the Brookings Institution and $168,500 for the World Resources Institute are chosen by executives at the head of the GE Foundation.

I also asked Grifo on what basis did the Union of Concerned Scientists determine that the Reason Foundation “misrepresented” climate change science. Grifo and Goldman could not recall during our phone conversation, but said they would get back to me the next day with their analysis in a memo. This memo cites one specific example of alleged misrepresentation, a blog post by one of Reason Foundation’s policy analysts that linked to a Daily Mail article that interpreted recent temperature data released by researchers at the U.K’s Met Office Hadley Centre as showing “no warming in the past 15 years.” As Grifo points out in her memo, the Met Office hotly disputed the Daily Mail’s interpretation of its temperature data.

I will just note that other research groups who have been monitoring the Earth’s temperature trends for decades have a different view. For example, University of Alabama in Huntsville climatologists who have been measuring the Earth’s atmospheric temperature for more than 30 years reported last year: “While Earth’s climate has warmed in the last 33 years, the climb has been irregular. There was little or no warming for the first 19 years of satellite data. Clear net warming did not occur until the El Niño Pacific Ocean 'warming event of the century' in late 1997. Since that upward jump, there has been little or no additional warming.”


Canada Leads the Way on the Pipeline No-Brainer

By Alan Caruba

“Their goal is to stop any major project no matter what the cost to Canadian families in lost jobs and economic growth. No forestry. No Mining. No oil. No gas. No more hydro-electric dams.”

That was Canada’s Natural Resources Minister, Joe Oliver, speaking on January 9, 2012 and he might have been saying the same thing about special interests and the Obama administration in America. With refreshingly plain speech, Oliver criticized environmental organizations, both in Canada and in the U.S., saying they “threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda.”

Canada is bringing common sense back into style. A June 3rd Washington Post article reported that “The government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is rewriting the nation’s environmental laws to speed the extraction and export of oil, minerals and other materials to a global market clamoring for Canada’s natural resources.” Moreover, it has “added provisions to an omnibus budget bill that would revamp the way the government reviews the environmental impact of major projects, regulates threats to fisheries, and scrutinizes the political activities of nonprofit groups.”

What is instructive is the way Canada is now leading the way against the obstacles that the environmental organizations on both sides of the border have imposed on the development of energy and other sectors of the nation’s economy. The centerpiece of this development for the moment is the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The Harper government has also proposed the repeal of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, part of the global warming hoax that would require huge reductions in so-called greenhouse gas emissions. It is seeking changes to other federal laws such as the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and Species at Risk Act.

Also under scrutiny is the proper role of non-profit organizations and “charities” that engage in blatant political activities. In typical fashion, the Sierra Club website on Monday claimed that Harper is trying to “steal tax-exempt status from charities that stand up to Big Oil.” Another environmental organization, Friends of the Earth, devotes its website to efforts to block the construction of “the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline from Oklahoma through Texas to the Gulf Coast.”

Every effort in the United States to ensure the provision of energy, whether from coal, oil, natural gas or nuclear power, continues to be assaulted by the huge environmental propaganda machine that currently sees the defeat of the pipeline as crucial to its anti-energy agenda.

On January 18, Americans were astonished to learn that President Obama had formally rejected a bid by Canadian energy company, TransCanada, to build a $7 billion oil pipeline that would link the tar sands of Alberta to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. In a time when the U.S. economy is suffering loss of jobs, the project would normally be a no-brainer.

However, opponents of the pipeline are a virtual who’s who of environmental organizations and a torrent of lies has poured forth from them regarding the project. The American Petroleum Institute estimates it will create 10,000 U.S. jobs next year with an anticipated 45,000 jobs by 2015 and close to 85,000 by 2020.

Among the lies put forth by militant environmentalists is that the environmental impact studies and securing the permits necessary for the pipeline were “rushed.” In truth, it took three years, four months, and five days up to the day TransCanada first filed the permit request to begin construction.

Obama repeated this lie, blaming Republicans for preventing “a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment.” The Obama administration had, in fact, reviewed more than 10,000 pages of environmental studies and the State Department had twice concluded that all requirements had been met!

By contrast, in 1974, the TransAlaskan Pipeline was approved by Congress in just about a year and it was built in less than three years despite being more environmentally and technically challenging.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans have been so angered by the president’s decision against the pipeline that in mid-April the House passed a short-term transportation bill that would facilitate the next stage of the oil pipeline. The bill passed 293 to 127, with 69 Democrats supporting it. It was the fourth time the House had passed a measure to expedite the stalled project, one of which failed in the Senate by a narrow vote when the president personally lobbied some Democrats to vote against it.

Let’s tip our hat to the Canadians who have concluded that environmental lobbies, think tanks, and charities are doing more to harm Canada’s interests by means of the environmental treaties and laws they have worked so hard to impose on that nation and ours. We Americans could learn a valuable lesson from our neighbors to the north.


Carbon credits a goldmine for British fraudsters

Figures obtained from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) revealed an explosion in companies fraudulently offering to deal in carbon credits – transferable certificates that allow companies to pollute. More than 100 companies have been reported to the watchdog over the past 12 months. The figure is up from just six prior to June last year.

The City watchdog has already published the names of 21 companies in its list of unauthorised firms. The list comes with the warning that some of the firms "knowingly run scams".

The companies, including Green Carbon Solutions, Global Climate Agency and Carbon Credit International, have names designed to suggest probity. In fact many of them are run by individuals who used to operate boiler room scams selling shares to unsuspecting investors.

One company approached by The Telegraph, which does not appear on the FSA list, was offering "minimum returns" of 15pc per year and up to 30pc or 40pc returns were "quite possible". The company was not authorised by the FSA.

Jonathan Phelan, head of unauthorised business for the FSA, said: "There has been a massive rise in referrals about carbon credit trading between last year and this. We have taken a close look at a number of them and referred four to other agencies. There are six we are investigating ourselves, while 21 firms have been added to our list of unauthorised firms.

"Typically we think they are the same people who have run boiler rooms and land banking fraud. They are moving from con to con."

The rise in scams around carbon credit is being seen by law enforcers at the FSA as proof that work they have been carrying out against boiler rooms and land-banking is paying off. However, as trading in carbon credits is not regulated by the FSA it makes cracking down on the market difficult.

While the FSA can name and shame companies it believes are operating scams it cannot act against them unless they are trading carbon credits as part of a collective investment scheme or a futures contract.


Pesky! USA leads world in CO2 cuts since 2006

As Obama's "Green" policies send industrial jobs to China

"US emissions have now fallen by 430 Mt (7.7%) since 2006, the largest reduction of all countries or regions. This development has arisen from lower oil use in the transport sector … and a substantial shift from coal to gas in the power sector."

How big is a cut of 430 million tonnes of CO2? It's equal to all CO2 from all Canadians outside Alberta. From a US perspective, it's equal to eliminating the combined emissions of ten western states: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada.

It seems the planet's biggest all-time CO2 polluter is finally reducing its emissions. The average American's CO2 emissions are down to levels not seen since 1964 -- over half a century ago.

Oil is the biggest source of CO2 in the USA. Now with rising oil prices, new vehicle regulations and the emergence of electric cars it looks like the USA's biggest source of CO2 will continue to fall. Considering that Americans could cut oil use in half and still use more per person than Europeans, there is clearly lots of room for big declines ahead.


Carbon tax a foundational faith for the Australian Left?

Taxes generally certainly are

LABOR was demonstrating "breathtaking arrogance" by refusing to countenance the repeal of the carbon tax under an Abbott government, the Coalition said yesterday.

"How arrogant and out of touch is this government to say it will defy the verdict of the people? The next election is going to be a referendum on the carbon tax … Any Labor Party which persists in opposition in supporting a carbon tax is a Labor Party which is arrogant and out of touch," the Coalition leader, Tony Abbott, said yesterday.

The Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, told the Herald on Monday there were no circumstances in which Labor would support a repeal, meaning the Coalition would probably have to go to a double dissolution election to abolish it and the tax would operate well into a conservative government's first term.

Combet also vowed to hold Abbott to account for his "rank" and deceitful" campaign against the tax, which he said had been based on untruths.

But Abbott is continuing his attack, saying yesterday the tax was "an act of economic lunacy" which would be "toxic for families' cost of living".

"As for the damage that the carbon tax will do, we are already seeing it. I mean, jobs are already being lost in places Kurri Kurri … Airlines are already shutting routes because of the carbon tax. Councils are already putting up rates because of the carbon tax," he said.

The Kurri Kurri aluminium smelter cited the carbon tax as a long-term consideration in its decision to mothball its operations, but said the strength of the Australian dollar and low commodity prices were far bigger reasons and that the decision would have been taken "with or without a carbon tax."

Brindabella Airlines said tax was a "major factor" in the closure of some marginal routes.

IPART has ruled that councils across NSW will need to raise rates by just 0.4 per cent to cope with the costs of the tax.

The Coalition has said it will "begin" to repeal the tax on day one, but many constitutional experts say it will be difficult to meet the requirements for a double dissolution election (two rejections by the parliament three months apart) before a new Senate takes its seat in mid-2014, meaning the repeal process could under some circumstances take years.



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5 June, 2012

Is this the end of British wind farms? Finance Minister demands Government subsidies are slashed by a quarter

George Osborne is demanding huge cuts in government aid for wind farms – a step which could kill plans for the construction of hundreds of turbines across the country. The Chancellor has told the Treasury to draw up plans for a reduction of 25 per cent in subsidies for onshore wind farms.

The intervention will provoke widespread anger among his Lib Dem coalition partners, who strongly support plans to put up hundreds of turbines in the countryside.

Environmental groups say the cut in subsidy would put an end to the development of further wind power sites – an outcome that would be welcomed by thousands of campaigners who are opposing plans for turbines near their homes.

Only last week the campaigners scored a major victory when a High Court judge ruled that the right of villagers in Norfolk to preserve their landscape was more important than the Government’s energy targets.

Last night Tory backbenchers supported Mr Osborne’s determination to slash the amount spent on renewable energy by the Government at a time of austerity.

Douglas Carswell said: ‘Why has it taken so long? A centre-right government should be bringing an end to this. One of the reasons that the economy is not growing is because energy costs are so ridiculously high because of this wind farm scam which is adding hidden surcharges to our bills.’

In February more than 100 Conservative MPs wrote to the Prime Minister to demand cuts to the £400million a year public support for wind farms, which they say is evidence of too much Lib Dem influence over policy.

Mr Osborne’s position puts him at odds with Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey – a key supporter of renewable energy.

It could also cause friction with his boss David Cameron, who promised to lead the ‘greenest government ever’ after the election.

But his intervention could restore his popularity among Tory MPs such as Chris Heaton-Harris, who has led the charge against the subsidies. Many are angry at a series of U-turns on Budget measures in recent weeks.

Juliet Davenport, of renewable electricity supplier Good Energy, said the Chancellor was giving in to Tory backbenchers who do not want turbines built in their constituencies.


Obama's Interior Department stalls clean energy query

President Obama, confronted yet again by House and Senate investigators probing the cronyism in his green energy programs, did what he often does. He simply ignored Congress.

“Last November, a request was made of the Department of the Interior for information and answers about its role in the Department of Energy’s green energy loan guarantee program, as well as favorable loans and federal land-use deals provided to certain corporations,” wrote Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., in a letter to Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last week. “It is suggestive and troubling that more than half a year has passed without DOI providing the requested documents and information.”

The lawmakers fear that several politically connected green energy companies received special treatment from the Interior and Energy departments due to their relationship with Obama. They focused their inquiry on six companies in particular: Abengoa Solar, BrightSource Energy, First Solar, Nevada Geothermal Power, NextEra Energy Resources and SolarReserve.

Issa and Sessions suspect that Salazar initiated a “fast-tracking” process that allowed some companies to receive regulatory and environmental approval and permission to use government lands for clean energy projects without adequate vetting. Whereas the review process for establishing an oil or gas lease on federal land can take more than a decade, some of these favored projects were pushed through in less than a year.

The lawmakers asked Salazar months ago about SolarReserve – which received a $737 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy last year. SolarReserve is connected to the same Obama campaign bundler, George Kaiser, who invested heavily in Solyndra.

First Solar -– a company that is also using government subsidies to buy products from itself over international borders, as the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney reported -– might soon follow Solyndra into bankruptcy. So might Nevada Geothermal, despite a $98.5 million federal loan guarantee.

Congressional investigators have uncovered some direct White House involvement in the loan process, particularly with respect to BrightSource. John Bryson, who now serves as Obama’s Commerce Secretary, once served on the board of BrightSource. He also co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). which Republican committee staffers assert has secretly helped negotiate funding agreements between green energy companies and the federal government.

But that wasn’t the only contact between BrightSource and the Obama team. In 2010, BrightSource CEO John Woolard even asked a DOE official to review a drafted letter that Bryson intended to send to then-White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, asking for help securing a loan. “We need a commitment from the WH to quarterback loan closure between OMB [Office of Management and Budget] and DOE,” the drafted message said.

BrightSource received a $1.6 billion loan guarantee, but still had to cancel its initial public offering in April. “The continued market and economic volatility are not optimal conditions for an I.P.O.,” Woolard said in a statement.

Salazar, for the last six months, has followed the same playbook that Energy Secretary Steven Chu has followed with Solyndra investigators: Stall, and give Congress as little information and documentation as possible. Attorney General Eric Holder, who leads the Justice Department, has adopted the same tactic with investigators probing the gun-walking scheme, Operation Fast and Furious, to the point that contempt charges are being considered against him.

The persistent refusal of multiple cabinet appointees to submit to congressional oversight regarding their decision-making processes raises grave concerns about what the Obama administration is hiding with regard to these projects.


Green/Leftist prophesies destruction of Israel

(Disguised as concern for Israel, of course) -- in the form of a novel written by an aptly-named Mr Laughter

I cannot see the future and I’m no prophet, but I have seen the future – so to speak — and it’s dank, dark and dystopian.
In 500 years, if we do not tame climate change and global warming worldwide, Israel will be no more and the entire Middle East will be unoccupied by human beings.

Yes, by 2500, Israel will be no more if we do not stop global warming in its tracks now. It’s written on the wind, and scientists, many of them Jewish, know it. Did you know that the Hebrew name for Al Gore’s climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth is Emet Matridah? Yes, and it means “The Truth That Terrifies.”

Okay, not everyone wants to sit at Mr. Gore’s table, and not all Jews believe in global warming. Some are vociferous critics of the climate ideas of James Hansen and James Lovelock. But there are also many Jewish scientists and climate activists who “get it” and understand that the very fate of humanity is in question.

Will humans exist a thousand years from now? Will there be any Jews alive? Will the human species be extinct by then? These are deeply Jewish questions, and I pose them here as a deeply Jewish climate activist and journalist.

Okay, you don’t have to agree with me. You may even want to criticize me and ridicule me. That’s fine. I am all ears and all points of view are welcome at my home. But let me tell you this, as a modern-day Jeremiah: God’s creation, the Earth and His people, are at risk because of what we are doing to the His creation with excessive CO2 emissions and other man-made global warming impacts.

So what am I doing about all this? Well, to make a long story short, last year, as a newbie book producer, I commissioned novelist Jim Laughter in Oklahoma to write a book about mankind’s shaky future on this third rock from the sun, and he said yes.

The novel, titled Polar City Red, is out now, in paperback and on Kindle, and the entire story, from page one to the final paragraph, belongs to Mr. Laughter. His name is on the book cover, not mine, and all profits, if any, go to him. It’s his book. But it’s my vision.

Having read the book as it was being written chapter by chapter, and again as a completed paperback, I can tell you this: climate denialists are going to say it’s not science, and die-hard climate activists are going to say it’s just fiction.

Jews are going to be of two minds, too: Some will champion the novel and see it as a book of prophecy that we need pay attention to, and others, equally eloquent, will give the book a bad grade and send the author to the back of the room. Me? I support and champion Mr. Laughter’s vision completely, and I feel this small novel could be one of the most important novels ever written by a human being.

Laughter’s “polar Western” is set in Alaska just 60 years from now, and it poses a very important and headline-mirroring question: Will mankind survive the “climapocalypse” coming our way as the Earth heats up over the next few centuries? The end is not coming in 100 years, but it might happen by 2500 A.D.

What do the rabbis have to say about all this? They are listening to the climate debate and boning up on the science, and some are already giving sermons on the issue and writing their own blog posts about it.


Historical Imagery of Greenland Glaciers Lessens Sea Level Rise Alarm

A new study using historical images of glaciers in southeast Greenland to investigate glacier response to climate changes suggests that the recently observed acceleration of ice loss from Greenland may not be a long-term phenomenon. Instead, as marine terminating glaciers reach their grounding line and as the termini of land-terminating glaciers migrate upwards in elevation, ice loss rates from glacial discharge may slacken. According to Anders Bjork and co-researchers:

[T]he recent high rate of retreat may come to a slowdown when retreating marine-terminating glaciers reach their grounding line and become less sensitive to the influence of ocean temperature, or through positive or negative feedback mechanisms relating to the cold East Greenland Coastal Current.


Our results have implications for future estimations of sea-level rise as retreat rates for marine-terminating glaciers are likely to increase as temperature rises until glacier fronts reach the grounding line, or when cold ocean currents re-establish, whereas retreat rates for land-terminating glaciers are not likely to rise in the same order of magnitude.

Such results throw a bit of cold water on alarmist ideas that rising temperatures will lead to ever-accelerating ice loss from Greenland and accelerating sea level rise.

For example, Eric Rignot and colleagues (2011) last year documented an acceleration in the rate of ice loss from Greenland (and Antarctica) over the past two decades. They extrapolated this acceleration into the future, to arrive at potential future sea level contributions from the loss of ice sheets:

At the current rate of acceleration in ice sheet loss, starting at 500 Gt/yr in 2008 and increasing at 36.5 Gt/yr2, the contribution of ice sheets alone scales up to 56 cm [22 in.] by 2100.

Rignot et al. (2011) were quick to note that this rather na‹ve extrapolation was probably less than reliable:

While this value may not be used as a projection given the considerable uncertainty in future acceleration of ice sheet mass loss, it provides one indication of the potential contribution of ice sheets to sea level in the coming century if the present trends continue.

The new Bjork et al. (2012) study (as well as a slew of other recent studies which we have discussed: see here, here, here, here, here , and here for example) strongly suggests that "present trends" will not continue-and thus the Rignot et al. extrapolation is grossly inaccurate (i.e., far too large).

Bjork and colleagues came to their conclusion by studying some recently unearthed historical photographs of the coast of southeastern Greenland that had been taken by early 20th century Danish expeditions to the region. The earliest photos were from the early 1930s. Combining those photos with a set of U.S. WWII military photos and modern satellite imagery, Bjork and fellow researchers were able to build a photographic database of the behavior of the glaciers in the region for much of the 20th and early 21st centuries, and related that behavior to climate changes observed across southeast Greenland.

They found that the glaciers respond rather quickly to climate changes. The well-known warmth of the region during the early 20th century was accompanied by relatively rapid retreat of both marine-terminating and land-terminating glaciers. As temperatures cooled from the 1950s through the 1980s, many glaciers advanced, and the warming of the past two decades has again been marked by rapid glacier retreat (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Behavior of glaciers along Greenland's southeastern coast during different periods during the past 80 years. Glaciers generally retreated during the relative warmth of the 1930s-1940s and again in the early 21st century. Some glacier advancement was observed during the relatively cool conditions of the 1960s-1970s. (source: Bjork et al., 2012)

This pattern of behavior of glacial dynamics is exactly like that of surface ice melt in Greenland that we documented in our paper (Fraunfeld et al., 2011) from last year and discussed here. In that paper, we concluded the following:

The forces acting in concert with ice melt across Greenland to produce higher global sea levels currently, should also have been acting during the extended high?melt conditions from the mid?1920s to the early 1960s. There is some qualitative indication of an observable influence of the variations in input from Greenland in the decadal rates of sea level change over the course of the past century… However, there is no indication that the increased contribution from the Greenland melt in the early to mid 20th century, a roughly 40 year interval when average annual melt was more or less equivalent to the average of the most recent 10 years (2000-2009), resulted in a rate of total global sea level rise that exceeded ?3 mm/yr. This suggests that Greenland's contribution to global sea level rise, even during multidecadal conditions as warm as during the past several years, is relatively modest.

The implications of the new results reported by Bjork at al. are in accordance.

Bjork at al. note that in the early 20th century warmth, both marine- and land-terminating glaciers increased their rates of retreat, but during the relative warmth of the early 21st century, the marine-terminating glaciers retreated at a greater rate than the land-terminating glaciers. They speculated that the reason the land-terminating glaciers did not respond as much to the recent warmth was that they had retreated to higher elevations during the warmth of the early 20th century and thus were less sensitive to further warming. Bjork et al. further speculated that even though the marine-terminating glaciers may continue their increasing rate of retreat with further ocean temperature increases, that this increase will not continue indefinitely, but will begin to slow as the marine-terminating glaciers reach their grounding line. Together, their results indicate the potential for only modest increases in the annual amount of ice loss as condition warm (similar to our findings reported above).

Currently, ice loss from Greenland contributes about one-to-two hundredths of an inch per year to the global average sea level-that's a total of 1-2 inches by the year 2100. So, even if the rate of ice loss doubles or triples, the resulting sea level rise falls far short of being catastrophic. And the more evidence that comes in, the more confidence we have that as temperatures rise, Greenland will shed ice only gradually and through somewhat self-limiting processes-rather than catastrophically through rapid acceleration and "slipping into the sea" as Al Gore so indelicately described his (incorrect) vision of the future.


Poverty Pollutes: Lomborg on the Rio+20 Conference

The current United Nations response to environmental concerns is doing more harm than good

A great article by Bjorn Lomborg appeared last week in Newsweek magazine. The author has a different analysis than I do with respect to whether significant global warming is currently being caused by humans – and whether that warming is likely to be a problem decades hence (backup link).

But despite his contrary analysis, Lomborg argues persuasively that the UN-led response to poverty and environmental issues is still fundamentally flawed. His piece examines the Rio+20 conference scheduled for later this month. Between June 20 and 22, a self-selected group of people will discuss – on behalf of all of us and prior to any meaningful consultation with most of the world’s citizenry – “The Future We Want.”

It is a terrible irony that some of the people who express the most concern about the world’s poorest communities are advocating costly, unworkable solutions that will impoverish even more of us. Wealth saves lives. It pays for hospitals, doctors, and medicine. Desperate people with sick children need all of those. The last thing they have time for is well-fed bureaucrats who tell them their poverty equals sustainable living.

Until well-intentioned green activists address these sorts of inconvenient truths, gushers of money will continue to be totally wasted. Here are a few sobering quotes from Lomborg’s piece:
As long as wind turbines and solar panels remain more expensive than fossil fuels while working only intermittently, they will never contribute much to our energy supply. Germany, the world’s largest per capita consumer of solar energy, produces just 0.3 percent of its energy this way. And to achieve this No. 1 status, the country has paid $130 billion for $12 billion worth of energy.

…The truth is that while we mull green initiatives, approximately 900 million people remain malnourished, 1 billion lack clean drinking water, 2.6 billion lack adequate sanitation, and 1.6 billion are living without electricity. Every year roughly 15 million deaths – a quarter of the world’s total – are caused by diseases that are easily and cheaply curable.

…for most of the 1.6 billion people who live without electricity, we should opt for the tested, simple, and cheap solution: hook them up to generators or power plants, which, just like ours, run mostly on fossil fuels. When the sun goes down, it’s literally lights out for those people. What makes us think they should have technologies that are more expensive, less reliable, and much feebler than the ones we rely on?

…If your family is freezing, you will cut down the last tree for fuel; if they are starving, you will strip the land bare to feed them. And if you have no certainty about the future, you will provide for it in the only way possible: by having more children to care for you in your old age…Recent history suggests that when living standards go up, people and societies reduce their pollution…helping people to emerge from poverty is one of the best things we can do for the environment.

Lomborg raises an absolutely critical idea. Is it not bizarre that UN bureaucrats want to toss the world’s current economic system into the dustbin? There’s no question it has flaws and shortcomings. But in recent decades it has nevertheless lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty. No other economic approach has ever achieved these kinds of real-world results. Writes Lomborg:
the U.N. [has] itself declared the world’s current economic model a failure…Let’s pause for a minute and consider the latest figures on global absolute poverty, which came out this year. Contrary to the U.N.’s dire assessment, humanity has never seen a clearer reduction in poverty worldwide. The proportion of people living in absolute poverty has dropped massively, from 52 percent in 1981 to 22 percent today.

With the current economic model, the U.N.’s own climate panel is forecasting an extreme reduction of poverty worldwide over the coming century: per capita income in what we now call the developing world is projected to soar to more than 23 times the 2000 level by the year 2100. So how can the U.N. argue that such economic growth needs to be overturned and replaced…?

The fact that the UN isn’t trumpeting this stunning progress, but is instead advocating that we experiment with totally unproven economic approaches tells us a great deal.

It says this organization is now run by political activists rather than pragmatic problem solvers.

While Rome burns these people are impeding the firefighters. Why? Because UN documents call for them to be organized in ten squadrons rather than five.


Australia: Women are not so green behind the wheel

Are they the modern-day equivalent of witches?

WOMEN aged between 25 and 49 have been rated the worst on the road when it comes to eco-friendly driving. A new study has found they scored poorly on everything from car-pooling, braking, airconditioning use and driving in the right gear.

At the other end of the scale, a panel of experts studying the green credentials of Australian drivers scored women over 50 as the nation's most environmentally sensitive.

The national survey of 3000 drivers was conducted for car insurer AAMI. The impact of driving behaviour on the environment was ranked to produce a "green score" out of 10. Factors taken into account included whether a driver removed unnecessary weight from the car boot, how often they serviced their vehicle and their willingness to use public transport. Key findings include:

DRIVERS of both sexes over 50 have a lower environmental impact than those aged 18-24.

OLDER motorists are most likely to service their car.

VICTORIAN drivers have the highest impact on the environment.

AAMI spokesman Reuben Aitchison said the fact that women over 25 were worse for the environment than equivalent male drivers came as a surprise.

"In particular, they were less likely to avoid high speeds or drive in a higher or lower gear than needed, and were far less likely to car-pool," Mr Aitchison said.

"The much maligned older driver sets the best example, with smoother, slower driving and attention to servicing," he said.

Greenfleet chief Sara Gipton said car manufacturers had reduced the environmental impact, but technology went only so far. "Drivers must take advantage of these improvements to get the greatest benefit," Ms Gipton said.

The release of the findings coincides with World Environment Day today.



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4 June, 2012

A "Green" fossil fuel?

Wonders will never cease. How the mighty are fallen!

Energy from gas power stations has been rebranded as a green, low-carbon source of power by a €80bn European Union programme, in a triumph of the deep-pocketed fossil fuel industry lobby over renewable forms of power.

In a secret document seen by the Guardian, a large slice of billions of euros of funds that are supposed to be devoted to research and development into renewables such as solar and wave power are likely to be diverted instead to subsidising the development of the well-established fossil fuel.

The news comes as a report from the respected International Energy Agency predicted a "golden age for gas" with global production of "unconventional" sources of gas (notably shale gas extracted by hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking') tripling by 2035.

The insertion of gas energy as a low-carbon energy into an EU programme follows more 18 months of intensive lobbying by the European gas industry, which is attempting to rebrand itself as a green alternative to nuclear and coal, and as lower cost than renewable forms of power such as wind and sun.

But green groups warned that relying on gas would raise energy prices and fail to tackle climate change, and could fatally stunt the growth of the renewables industry. Gas is a fossil fuel – but because it generates less carbon dioxide when burned than coal, gas industry lobbyists have been touting the fuel as a lower-carbon alternative to coal.

The gains of switching from coal to gas are shortlived – any gas-fired power stations constructed today would be expected to continue in operation for at least 25 years. That would mean decades of carbon poured into the atmosphere – while scientists and industry experts warn that global emissions must peak by 2020 in order to avoid the worst manifestations of climate change. "A golden age for gas is not necessarily a golden age for the climate," warned Birol.

The document seen by the Guardian has been agreed by member states and sets out the framework for Horizon 2020, billed as a €80bn programme for research and innovation for the years 2014 to 2020. Of the funds available, more than €30bn are supposed to flow to "address major concerns shared by all Europeans such as climate change, developing sustainable transport and mobility, making renewable energy more affordable, ensuring food safety and security, or coping with the challenge of an ageing population", according to the European Commission.

As part of this mission, Horizon2020 will dispense billions of euros in funds to research and development projects, and is intended to "support research and innovation activities, strengthen the European scientific and technological base and foster benefits for society". Clean energy is a key part of this, according to the document: "The specific objective is to make the transition to a reliable, sustainable and competitive energy system, in the face of increasingly scarce resources, increasing energy needs and climate change."

But the original document has been altered by officials to include explicit references to funding for gas – despite gas being a fossil fuel and a mature technology.

This reference shows that gas is now being considered in an official EU programme as a "low-carbon" form of energy, equivalent to renewables or nuclear power – despite its status as a fossil fuel.

Finally, the last paragraph of the document shows that the R&D funding programme originally intended only to support renewables has been altered to explicitly include fossil fuels. It reads: "Activities [of the research and development programme] shall focus on research, development and full scale demonstration - of innovative renewables, efficient and flexible fossil power plants (including those using natural gas) and carbon capture and storage technologies." The reference to fossil fuels has been inserted.

Renewables compete with fossil fuels such as gas for investment, and if investors see that gas - which is a mature technology with low risks and high returns on investment - is favoured, they are likely to prioritise gas investment over renewables.


Greenies who want to reduce the population are shooting themselves in the foot with their carbon scare

There have been many suggestions here on this blog, and elsewhere, that the aim of the CAGW hoax is population control.

It is obvious that the poor people of the world produce more babies; witness Africa with a birth rate much higher than the rest of the world but a very low GDP. The Africans would seem to be the model for what the Greens want the world to be: a low carbon footprint. But with their high birth rate and low production, most of Africa teeters on the brink of famine. Unable to afford energy and sanitation, many burn forests and dump their waste untreated into the environment. This would suggest that the “low carbon footprint” model is only a recipe for disaster.

On the other hand, countries with well developed economies have low birth rates but high carbon footprints. If we are to reach a stable population, one that can be sustained far into the future, a world-wide well developed economy will be required.

A well developed economy requires energy. Producing food, goods, keeping people warm or cool, assuring hygiene, and providing transportation for people, food, and products, require energy.

What are the relationships between population growth, energy consumption, and production? First, here’s a chart of electricity consumed versus GDP (Gross Domestic Product) per person for 202 countries.

It is clear from Figure 1 that to have a well developed economy with a high GDP, energy consumption must also be high. A rough trend can be seen: each KW hour produces about $10 GDP per person. The average GDP per kilowatt-hour for all countries is $8.31. The ten highest electrical power users per person are: Iceland, Norway, Kuwait, Canada, Finland, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, Luxembourg, United States, and Australia. Oil production in Africa and the Middle East distort some of the GDP numbers.

What does a high GDP do to birth rate?

In Figure 2, a fertility rate of 2 is the replacement level. Fertility rates below 2 indicate a declining population. Above 2 there is an increasing population. As you can see, most of Africa is poor and pregnant. African countries that are not poor are oil producers like Libya and Nigeria. Most European populations are in decline. The exceptions are Andorra and Gibraltar. Asian countries with thriving economies are below the replacement value. Singapore is the bottom point on fertility with a rate of 0.78 children per woman. South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau are just above that number.

There is a third leg to our stool: the relationship between fertility rate and electrical power.

Again, most of Africa, and some of Asia, is pregnant and powerless. It should be clear by now that there is an optimum electrical power and GDP necessary to result in a sustainable, stable population. Those numbers would appear to be about 3,000 KW hours and a GDP of about $30,000 annually per person. The total population is about seven billion. Therefore: 7 billion X 3,000 KWh = 21 trillion KWh.

21 trillion kilowatt-hours would seem to be a reasonable target. The world currently produces 19 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity. It appears that about 10% more electrical energy, with the accompanying improvement in GDP, primarily in Africa and some parts of Asia, would go a long way toward improving the quality of life and stabilizing population in those areas.

Energy drives civilization. This fundamental should be obvious to all, but apparently has not penetrated the consciousness of Greens, Progressives, and warmist zealots. Man builds cities to concentrate people, jobs, markets, and energy use into more efficient areas. Energy allows more efficient production, including food, technology, housing, and transportation. Cities and energy encourage creativity and innovation. More energy means a higher Gross Domestic Product.

Figure 4 shows a clear relationship between GDP and electrical power consumption. If less electricity is generated, the cost of electricity will go up (due to the economic law of supply and demand), less will be used, and GDP will go down. The converse is, of course, more desirable: more power and reducing the cost, will result in a higher GDP. High priced wind and solar is not the answer. Let the market decide how to generate more power efficiently.

For those that are screaming “what about carbon footprint!”, the market will very soon take care of that non-problem. We are currently passing the “peak oil” point. Fossil fuels, in the long term, will be a declining portion of our power production. Barring governmental stupidity, nuclear power will be an increasing percentage of energy production.

Due to the fact that carbon dioxide is a vital plant food, as well as a minor greenhouse gas, sometime in the not too distant future we will be developing schemes to keep the atmospheric CO2 level above 400 ppm or higher.

SOURCE (See the original for links and graphics)

Another EPA power grab

The Environmental Protection Agency has just taken its first abrupt step in the most dangerous power grab of our time. And it did so in direct defiance of instructions from the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The menace is hidden in a study called “An Assessment of Potential Mining Impacts on Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska.” While the draft study seems ordinary, it was released in haste on May 18 – despite the prohibition of Congress – and is widely assumed to be the first step toward an unprecedented preemptive veto of the proposed Pebble Mine, a project which has not yet requested a single permit, but promises $7 billion of new infrastructure in a place without a diverse economy if EPA doesn’t kill it.

The Oversight Committee has asked the EPA to answer a long list of questions about its first-time assertion of such preemptive veto power, which the agency claims is authorized by the Clean Water Act, Section 404(c), but the committee says is illegal.

The EPA claims its study’s “narrow scope” does not indicate that the agency has already decided to preemptively veto the mine. However, the evidence says that’s a flat-out lie.

The Agency’s quick release of its hideously negative watershed assessment – against congressional instructions – can only be seen as a deliberate and malicious end-run to rapidly poison public opinion against Pebble Mine before anyone could come out for it.

The comment period, open now and ending July 23, has been irretrievably biased by EPA’s defiant early release of its study. With overwhelming public disapproval – rigged by the EPA and its Big Green allies – EPA will be fully justified in vetoing the Pebble Mine before its first permit is requested.

Very clever. Very ruthless. Very vicious. Very illegal.

The EPA used a similar tactic by yanking a West Virginia mining permit after the mine had been running for years, instead of before as in the Pebble Mine. The West Virginia mine owner took EPA to court and won. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled:

“EPA’s position is that section 404(c) grants it plenary authority to unilaterally modify or revoke a permit that has been duly issued by the Corps [the Army Corps of Engineers] – the only permitting agency identified in the statute – and to do so at any time.

“This is a stunning power for an agency to arrogate to itself when there is absolutely no mention of it in the statute. It is not conferred by section 404(c), and is contrary to the language, structure, and legislative history of section 404 as a whole.”

The case is Mingo Logan v. EPA, decided March 23, 2012.

The Oversight Committee told EPA in a May 10 letter that, just as EPA has no authority to yank a permit retroactively, Section 404(c) gives EPA no authority to deny one preemptively.

Now we can see the Pebble tactic: Kill it before it starts. (It’s like arresting speeders before they get in the car!)

If the EPA gets away with the Pebble tactic in Alaska, the Agency will have a precedent to kill any project anywhere in America. The Obama Administration will then possess the perfect political poison pill.

This is not about the mine. This is about the Pebble tactic. Once again, this fight is not about the Pebble Mine — it is much, much bigger than that — it is about power; specifically, power over permits. Something the EPA does not and should not have.


There are no winners in the war on coal

Recently the Seattle City Council unanimously passed Resolution 31379, opposing the development of coal-export terminals in Washington State. These terminals would use local railroads for transporting coal to the shore to be shipped overseas, mainly to Asian markets.

However, according to the Associated Press, “mining and burning more coal isn’t consistent with the city’s goal to fight climate change,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, sponsor of the Seattle resolution. So the council voted the resolution down. After all, we wouldn’t want any coal dust or pollution to hit the air of Seattle would we?

The coal mined in Wyoming and Montana, specifically in the Powder River Basin, which is the coal that would be transported to Asia, is considered low-sulfur and low-ash coal. Meaning, often times this coal doesn’t have to go through a rigorous process to comply with the Clean Air Act. It doesn’t emit near as much carbon or sulfur as other types of coal mined elsewhere in the U.S. and world.

Funny how sometimes those of the radical environmentalist mindset forget the world includes more than just the U.S. The coal burned in Asia is going into the air Americans breathe as well. Wouldn’t a true environmentalist want all nations to have healthy, clean air?

The World Coal Association highlights that about 80 percent of electricity generated in China comes from coal. If the U.S. decides, as the Seattle City Council did, that coal will not be exported through its state to another nation, it will not have an impact on China’s coal use. The country will simply import it from somewhere else.

Again, from an environmental standpoint, wouldn’t it be better for China, a country more dependent on coal than the U.S., to burn a cleaner variety of American-based coal than one that emits much more carbon and sulfur? Either way, China will burn the coal, and Wyoming and Montana will find customers.

This battle has nothing to do with the environment but everything to do with a gutting a vital domestic industry, despite what Seattle City Council Member O’Brien says.

Should the U.S. become adamant about not exporting coal from Wyoming and Montana to other nations, and if the government continues its war on coal here in the U.S., then no one wins.

“The City Council is full of hot air. To fight what it calls the ‘serious impacts’ of the discredited man-made climate change hoax, the City Council has seen fit to pass a resolution condemning the Rocky Mountain coal industry and the railroads that deliver the coal to the Pacific for overseas export,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “They are declaring war in effect on these coal-producing states, as well as the workers who would be employed at the port to ship the coal. All this in a misguided attempt stop the burning of coal that will take place anyway.”

If the U.S. government follows in the footsteps of the Seattle City Council soon we will lose what was once a vibrant, productive industry. Meanwhile, the rest of the world will continue to burn coal. This is a lose-lose situation for everyone — the environmentalist, American workers and the world.


All (Green) Thumbs

It was interesting while it lasted. But it looks like the "green revolution" has entered the long slide into "What was all that about?"

In January, the Spanish government removed absurdly lavish subsidies for its renewable energy industry, and the renewable energy industry all but imploded. You could say it was never a renewable energy industry at all. It was a government subsidy industry where in exchange for creating conscience-soothing but otherwise inefficient windmills and solar panels, the government gave the makers piles of cash consumers never would.

"They destroyed the Spanish market overnight with the moratorium (on subsidies)," European Wind Energy Association CEO Christian Kjaer told Bloomberg News.

The reason the Spanish example is so important is that it demonstrates how the whole green energy "revolution" was really an ideologically driven green boondoggle from the start.

At the beginning of his administration, President Obama insisted that if we didn't follow their lead, we would surrender the hugely profitable renewable energy sector to those sagacious Spaniards. In 2009, researchers at King Juan Carlos University found that Spain had destroyed 2.2 jobs in other industries for every green job it created. It also calculated that the Spanish government has spent more than half a million euros for each green job created since 2000, while wind industry jobs cost more than 1 million euros apiece.

When asked about the study, then-White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded that he hadn't read it, but, "It seems weird that we're importing wind turbine parts from Spain in order to build -- to meet renewable energy demand here if that were even remotely the case."

Let's cut Gibbs & Co. some slack. These were the days before the White House learned there were no shovel-ready jobs, before they discovered that their "investments" in companies like Solyndra were little better than shoveling taxpayer dollars into an industrial mulcher. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that Gibbs would find it "weird" that our own domestic phylum of subsidy-seeking sucker fish might want to buy Spain's artificially cheap products in a scheme to feed off domestic subsidies here at home.

The evidence that this administration put cronyism and ideology ahead of reality is all around us. "Since 2009," reports the Wall Street Journal, "the Obama administration has awarded more than $1 billion to American companies to make advanced batteries for electric vehicles. Halfway to a six-year goal of producing one million electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, auto makers are barely at 50,000 cars." Well, that leaves just 950,000 cars to go.

Obama believed he was smart enough to start whole new industries simply by sluicing taxpayer dollars into the right maws. Any suggestion that the transition to inefficient energy sources might come at a cost to taxpayers or economic growth was derided as a "false choice."

It seems like Obama at least understands the tough choices he faces. In 2009, the president's Earth Day message was stridently dedicated to climate change. In 2012, it didn't even mention the word "climate." The administration wants everyone to believe it supports "fracking" and natural gas development. When Energy Secretary Steven Chu said he prefers high gasoline prices, the administration all but defenestrated the guy. Much to the chagrin of the green lobby, Obama will not be attending this year's Earth Summit. Heck, the current picture on the White House's energy and environment page even shows Obama happily walking past a stack of oil pipes. Subtle.

Yes, Obama threw a bone to the greens on the Keystone pipeline, but he more quietly opened up the Alaskan Arctic to new oil development, granting Shell permits to drill offshore.

"We never would have expected a Democratic president -- let alone one seeking to be 'transformative' -- to open up the Arctic Ocean for drilling," Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, told The New York Times.

Now, I have no doubt that Obama's course correction is entirely political. For instance, if he hadn't approved the Arctic drilling, Shell almost surely would have sued the administration for the billions it's spent developing its Arctic leases. That's not the kind of lawsuit Obama would want in an election year.

But saying Obama has caved to political reality doesn't change the fact that political reality is largely a function of economic reality. In Europe and America alike, voters increasingly recognize that the benefits of the green revolution aren't worth the costs, particularly when the revolutionaries don't have a clue what they're doing. The only question for voters is whether Obama has really learned his lesson, or whether he plans on reverting to type if re-elected.


Australia: Death threats just par for the course for climate skeptics

The wimps of the Green/Left claim that various criticisms of their mental ossification are "death threats" (See here). It's just projection. The skeptics are the ones that get the threats -- from Green/Left thugs

DEATH threats and vile abuse are real. They infect the daily lives of key players in the debate over climate change. But it's not what you think: the main recipients of this torrent of abuse are not climate scientists.

They are the journalists and broadcasters whose job requires them to test the received wisdom on this and many other subjects.

They are the inheritors of that great tradition in which Western civilisation has encouraged criticism of the orthodoxy in order to expose its flaws.

That tradition, which thrives on dissent, is very much alive in parts of the media. But it is under threat.

The intolerance of those who support the orthodox view on climate change has reached the point where the physical safety of those who express a contrary view is regularly threatened.

So where is the outraged media coverage? The ABC and like-minded outlets have devoted considerable resources to allegations of death threats against scientists who defend the orthodox view on climate change. Later events have undermined the veracity of those allegations, but you would never know unless you were prepared to wade through the corrections on the ABC's website.

But at the same time, real abuse and real death threats against those on the other side of this debate have been largely ignored.

At the moment, climate change is one of the "hot button" issues that brings out the crazies. But it's not just climate change.

Melbourne columnist Andrew Bolt has also had threats of physical violence for criticising Islamism and Anita Heiss's book Am I Black Enough for You?.

He has even been threatened for opposing a national day of mourning for the Black Saturday bushfires.

Bolt puts it down to the morally superior manner of those who play a leading role in setting the tone of public policy debate.

The most startling incident occurred a decade ago when an activist organisation published his home address on its website "along with an exhortation to burn the house down".

Two weeks ago a filmmaker, whom he named, used Twitter to urge his followers: "Let's assassinate Andrew Bolt." It was later removed.

A Greens candidate at the last federal election used Twitter to publish this: "Andrew Bolt is a vile c ... of a man. I openly condone hunting him down and beating him to within an inch of his life."

Sydney Daily Telegraph columnist Tim Blair says he has received "death wishes" rather than death threats. The last one contained the cheery sign-off: "Die painfully, yours sincerely ... ".

Blair says this happens relatively frequently, whenever a "hot button" issue is in the news. And the most popular trigger is "anything to do with climate change".

Most of this material arrives by email and while they are abusive, Blair says they are not real death threats. "They want you to die, rather than saying they are going to kill you," he says.

But he was worried after he published on a private website Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that had triggered death threats against the cartoonist.

The Sydney Morning Herald accompanied its report on this incident with a photograph of Blair, which led to police calling him and suggesting he might wish to move to a more secure location.

Broadcaster Ray Hadley says he usually receives about 600 emails a day on a range of subjects, and 10 per cent are abusive.

In the 11 years he has been with Sydney radio station 2GB he has received about 20 death threats, only one of which seemed serious enough to refer to police. It contained details of his movements but turned out to be the work of an eccentric pensioner with an alcohol problem.

"The rest are in the form of 'I wish you were dead and if I could make you dead I would do it' ", Hadley says. "But some of the people I know in the security industry say that if someone is going to knock you off they are not going to tell you about it."

At The Australian, editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell says he has received hundreds of death threats during his 20 years as an editor and editor-in-chief and has ignored them all.

He says the recent debate about alleged death threats against climate change scientists gave rise to an implication that death threats only came from climate change deniers. But in his experience, that is not the case.

He has received threats from both sides of the climate change debate - from those accusing him of destroying the planet for their grandchildren and from those demanding that the newspaper withdraw its support for a carbon tax. In the past two years, most of the threats from the Right have largely come from Queensland and Western Australia.

He believes there would always have been threats made against those in the media and email has simply made it more convenient.

Climate scientists, like other new players in public policy debates, were clearly shocked by the vile nature of some of the abuse they have received.

But after 20 years of abuse and threats, Mitchell has some advice: "These climate scientists need to harden up."

The abuse directed at climate scientists, bad as it was, needs to be kept in perspective.

Ten years ago, the Brisbane home of The Australian's Hedley Thomas was peppered with bullets late at night, narrowly missing his wife and children.

Thomas, who has five Walkley awards, has received threats but does not take them seriously, "because if someone wants to do you in, they are not going to give you a warning".

He says he has never been scared away from a story because of threats.

More than a decade ago, reporter Tom Dusevic was beaten by two young men with baseball bats who were waiting for him when he returned home at night. This came shortly after Dusevic had written a contentious article. But he believes it was probably just a case of mistaken identity.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


3 June, 2012

On seeing what you want to see: Warmists definitely have the eye of faith

Warmist Eric Steig claims that the graph above demonstrates that the the late 20th century was unusually warm. Can you see it? I can't. I think it shows that the Medieval warm period was warmer. I had a previous laugh at the Gergis study on May 20. Below is what Steig says, for what it is worth -- JR:

In the Northern Hemisphere, the late 20th / early 21st century has been the hottest time period in the last 400 years at very high confidence, and likely in the last 1000 – 2000 years (or more). It has been unclear whether this is also true in the Southern Hemisphere. Three studies out this week shed considerable new light on this question. This post provides just brief summaries; we’ll have more to say about these studies in the coming weeks.

First, a study by Gergis et al., in the Journal of Climate uses a proxy network from the Australasian region to reconstruct temperature over the last millennium, and finds what can only be described as an Australian hockey stick. They use an ensemble of 3000 different reconstructions, using different methods and different subsets of the proxy network. Worth noting is that while some tree rings are used (which can’t be avoided, as there simply aren’t any other data for some time periods), the reconstruction relies equally on coral records, which are not subject to the same potential (though often-overstated) issues at low frequencies. The conclusion reached is that summer temperatures in the post-1950 period were warmer than anything else in the last 1000 years at high confidence, and in the last ~400 years at very high confidence.


History ignored once again

It's hard to believe that the title on the article below is: "Climate change will create a toxic brew for herbivores". That the much warmer age of the dinosaurs supported some HUGE herbivores is completely ignored. Theory trumps fact every time among the Green/Left

A WARMER world might be a poisoned one. A compilation of studies suggests that as temperatures rise, herbivorous mammals will suffer greater effects from the toxins they eat, with animals living in dry regions at particular risk.

Mammals can maintain a constant body temperature and so are thought to be less vulnerable to temperature changes than cold-blooded animals like reptiles. But Denise Dearing at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City has found evidence that mammals feel the heat in subtle ways.

Plants produce toxins to defend themselves against animals that eat them. In response, herbivores limit the amount of toxins they eat, often by eating a wide range of plants.

That strategy may need some adjusting as climate change pushes temperatures up. Dearing found a number of lab studies scattered through the scientific literature showing that animals kept at higher temperatures become less able to process toxins (Journal of Comparative Physiology B, DOI: 10.1007/s00360-012-0670-y).

In one study in mice, raising the temperature from 26 °C to 36 °C made them more vulnerable to caffeine: they died after receiving just one-fifth of the normal lethal dose. Meanwhile, in the wild, white-throated woodrats often eat juniper, which is toxic, but they eat less of it in summer even though the juniper is readily available.


Another severe pratfall for the Warmist religion

If it’s not the global warming schemers deserting the cause, and global warming profiteers going belly up, and real life contradicting the premise, it’s another bulletin of bad news. Where will it all end for the global warming worshippers?

Here’s the latest, which just happens to devastate another assumption of the warming theorists (emphasis ours):

“A paper published today in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics finds that clouds located in the stratosphere over the poles act to cool the stratosphere by adiabatic cooling, which is the cooling of air parcels as they rise and expand, rather than by ‘trapping heat’ below the clouds resulting in ‘radiative cooling’ of the stratosphere above. This finding contradicts a tenet of AGW theory, which predicts that infrared radiation from greenhouse gases will ‘trap heat’ to create a ‘hot spot’ in the troposphere and cooling of the stratosphere. This study finds that cooling of the stratosphere is instead due to rising air parcels rather than a decrease in radiation due to heat ‘trapped by greenhouse gases’.”

As if it weren’t bad enough that European schemers are jumping off the bandwagon, and Spanish profiteers are failing at profiteering, and real life disproves the theory that CO2 brings devastating heat…

…now we find that the stratosphere could be cooling, not heating, things up.

Gee, who knew all this would lead nowhere, bankrupt the players and be based on fraud and wrong-headed science? Oh wait. Yeah. That’s what we’ve been saying for about a decade now.

Of course, more and more folks are coming around, recognizing this obsession is counterproductive and a more productive path would be to help poor people become better off, not deny them cheap electricity.

And more and more folks are understanding that the “science-is-settled” crowd that shouts down dissenters isn’t better informed. Just louder.

And of course, more and more folks are accepting the fact: there is no global warming crisis. Period.


Let us rend our garments! We have been condemned by a "spiritual author"

No wonder he quotes not one scientific fact

The Truthout website has published an article written by Richard Schiffman, who is described as " the author of two biographies as well as a journalist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, The Huffington Post, and on NPR and Monitor Radio."

In the article Schiffman, who maintains that "climate change is now virtually undisputed", joins the people who have condemned the Heartland Institute´s "offensive billboard campaign":
The science only gets better with time, and climate change is now virtually undisputed - by the people who are doing the science, at any rate. That it remains a "controversial issue" long after the results are in is thanks to a well-funded cabal of free-market think tanks, corporations and business groups that hope to win in the political arena a fight that they have long since lost in the halls of science. They are abetted by a media whose relish for conflict and a scientifically nonsensical sense of supposed "balance" has led them to give the deniers equal airtime.

In May, the Heartland Institute put up a billboard on the Eisenhower Expressway outside of Chicago comparing believers in climate change to the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. A firestorm in the press quickly convinced the Institute to pull the plug on the offensive billboard campaign.

However, Schiffman himself thinks that it is quite OK to compare "denialists" to Holocaust deniers:
But the question remains: why is the media paying any attention to the discredited ideas of the denialists? We don't give Holocaust deniers equal time to vent their noxious views, so why offer it to the climate change deniers?

The analogy might seem far-fetched, but the findings of climate scientists tell us that it is apt. We are facing a potential holocaust for life on earth, which could destroy entire ecosystems, turn productive regions into dust bowls, multiply catastrophic weather events, wipe out a large proportion of the planet's species and cost us more in dollars (not to mention lives) than all the wars in history combined.

In order to understand what kind of a man this self proclaimed scientific expert is, it is perhaps good to know how Schiffman himself chooses to introduce himself:
"My name is Richard Schiffman. I am a spiritual author and a former journalist who started writing poetry a few years back."

"Spiritual poetry is an effort to find words for the wordless. As such, it is bound, in one sense, to fail. But, paradoxically, the effort to express the inexpressible can serve as "a finger pointing toward the moon," in the language of zen. That is to say, at its best spiritual poetry brings us to the edge of the Great Mystery in which we live and move."

[Sounds like he has tumbled over the edge -- JR]


Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia in Venice: "no relationship between CO2 emissions and climate change"

Below is the Google translation from an article in Italian. It is pretty rough but I don't have the time to tidy it up. I have however read it in the original Italian so will summarize it instead:

Carlo Rubbia shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1984 and he points out that CO2 emissions don't correlate with climate change. He is however diplomatic enough to say that this may be because "other" (vaguely specified) processes may be masking CO2 effects and says that we should therefore continue to work to reduce CO2 emissions. He shows his lack of enthusiasm, however, by saying that sustainable energy is a long way off and will will have to continue to use fossil fuels for a long time yet

"It's not found a relationship between climate change and CO2 emissions." He said today in Venice Prize laureate Carlo Rubbia. "The new situation - he explained - and 'that while emissions continue, by 2000, and' a decrease in temperature." The physical phenomenon and noted that 'due to an effect of' masking ', which plays a role such as the energy stored in the oceans. "You can not 'say that the CO2 does not count - he concluded - that we still have to decrease."

The Nobel Prize considers the decisions to be taken in the next 10-15 years on the sustainability of the 'energy' will have significant consequences in the field of energy security and climate change, as well as' on growth and jobs. Costs could be high - highlights - but the price of inaction 'it would be much more "'. The Nobel and 'spoke at the annual conference' The Creation of shared value: Sustainability and Finance ', organized by the BSI Gamma Foundation Auditorium Santa Margherita in Venice. "Go towards sustainability '- added the physical - implies a broadening of the definition of cost that goes far beyond' mere economic implications of short-term interests to include economic, environmental and social long-term. In order to reconcile economic growth and sustainable development, strategic choices must be made ​​consistent, they are based on real and innovative scientific and technological developments. "Rubbia, beginning his long speech he stated that" sustainable development means to respond to this without compromising future generations, "arguing that this" fossil energy sources will be needed for decades to come. "


Australia: UNESCO meddling aims to put the State of Queensland into a Greenie straitjacket

But neither State nor federal politicians are buying it

HALTING port and industry development along Queensland's coast to protect the Great Barrier Reef is not an option, Premier Campbell Newman says.

His comments come as the UN's environmental arm UNESCO released a report that says rapid coastal development is threatening the health of the reef.

The report warns the reef could be listed as a World Heritage site in danger unless substantial changes are made to its management, sparking calls from green groups for the government to put a moratorium on massive coal port developments.

Mr Newman told reporters on Saturday that his government was committed to protecting the reef and the environment. But he made it clear halting port and infrastructure development connected to the coal and liquified natural gas industry was not an option. "We will protect the environment but we are not going to see the economic future of Queensland shut down," Mr Newman said.

Later he added: "We are in the coal business. If you want decent hospitals, schools and police on the beat we all need to understand that."

Mr Newman said the previous governments over the past decade were to blame for the "haphazard" and "ad hoc" development of ports.

"The business and economic issues that we were concerned about are very similar to the environment issues UNESCO has identified," Mr Newman said. "Very clearly there needs to be a proper strategy, orderly progression of these developments. We shouldn't be building a multitude of new ports and we won't be." Cabinet will be discussing this on Monday, he said.

Australian Marine Conservation Society director Darren Kindleysides said the world expected Australia to look after the unique reef, which was worth $6 billion annually to the tourism industry. “The rush to ship coal and gas through the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef intensifies by the day," Mr Kindleysides said. "Australia must now put the brakes on the approval of any new port and infrastructure developments risking the Reef."

The UNESCO report recommends an independent review into the management of Gladstone Harbour, which is at the centre of a diseased fish outbreak.

Mr Newman said he was already in the process of developing a water management plan for Gladstone Harbour.

He said it would be similar to the "watersway partnership" in Moreton Bay, where universities, government agencies, local councils and natural resource management groups jointly monitor water quality in creeks and rivers.

Legal issues may stop reef report response

The federal government may not be able to meet a major recommendation of the UNESCO report on the Great Barrier Reef, Environment Minister Tony Burke says.

About 45 development applications are in the pipeline that could “potentially” affect the reef including LNG and other processing facilities, port expansions, dredging, tourism developments and aquaculture.

The busy coal terminals of Abbot Point and Hay Point in north Qld are also undergoing expansion while new port facilities are anticipated on Cape York and Balaclava Island in central Queensland.

Mr Burke said the state and federal governments were already undertaking the “most comprehensive and complex assessment” ever to have been done on the reef.

It’s due to be delivered to UNESCO by February next year.

“The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s greatest treasures, it is one of Australia’s most significant environmental places and has been recognised as one of the healthiest coral reef ecosystems, and best managed marine areas in the world,” Mr Burke said.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has taken issue with key findings of the scathing UNESCO report about the management of the Great Barrier Reef.

The report, released on Saturday, noted the international body's "extreme concern" at the "unprecedented" rate of development along the Queensland coast, and warned the reef could be listed as a World Heritage site in danger.

But QRC chief executive Michael Roche said the industry was on a sustainable footing. "We believe that the scale of development is very much a steady-growth scenario, not unprecedented growth," he told AAP.

Mr Roche said he did not accept the figures about increases in shipping movements put forward by environmental group Greenpeace.

"We need to ensure that all of these comments and requests and recommendations from UNESCO are seen in the context of realistic estimates of development," he said.

Mr Roche said the industry was serious about the looking after the Great Barrier Reef. "Industry has long demonstrated its commitment to protection of the reef through direct funding of essential reef research," he said.

"(It has met) the exacting environmental protection standards of the state and federal governments in seeking project approvals."



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


1 June, 2012

Some pesky stats from Australia

Australia was founded as a branch of the most advanced civilization of its day (Britain) and was therefore very early in adoption of the latest science. One of my ancestors, for instance, was vaccinated against smallpox on his arrival in Sydney in 1828.

And meterorological records were kept from early on. Such records are rare in the Southern hemisphere so deserve some attention. If something is "global", there should be records of it in the Southern hemisphere too. We find here a careful record of Sydney temperature minima and maxima from 1859 to December 2005.

The very first line of the table is interesting. It is for January -- which is of course midsummer in the Southern hemisphere. We note that the highest maximum temperature for any month in any year was 45.3 (Celsius) on 14/01/1939. Yes: 1939.

We also note that the highest average temperature was 33.7 (Celsius) on 13/01/1896. Yes: 1896.

And I can assure you that my ancestors were not driving SUVs at that time -- though I do have a picture of one of their bullock teams proudly displayed on my wall. I am a descendant of teamsters!

Green Party nonsense: nuclear power and the problem of the precautionary principle

Since I've already ruined my chances of ever leading the warriors of the Green Party in glorious revolution, what with saying that the vandalism of publicly funded scientific research is pretty much not cool, I've decided to throw caution to the wind.

From the Greens' energy policy, I read this:

"The Green Party is fundamentally opposed to nuclear energy, which we consider to be expensive and dangerous. The technology is not carbon neutral, and being reliant on uranium it is not renewable. We consider its use, moreover, to be elitist and undemocratic. There is so far no safe way of disposing of nuclear waste. To a degree unequalled by even the worst of other dangerous industries, the costs and dangers of nuclear energy and its waste will be passed on to future generations long after any benefits have been exhausted."

This statement is problematic on a number of levels. I don't like the idea of being "fundamentally opposed" to one of the most obvious available options for keeping our lights on. If it is shown to be safe and economic, then we should use it. It's not a moral issue; it's just one more tool, which we can use well or badly, safely or unsafely. Also: how can an energy technology be "elitist"? I literally don't know what that means. Is it elitist because it's hi-tech and third-world countries can't easily make their own? Well, so are iPads, then, and Toyota Priuses. Or does the word "elitist" just mean "bad" in Green-land, in the same way that "natural" means "good"? [Edit: I can't believe I didn't pick up on "undemocratic" as well. Since when are power stations democratic institutions?]

As for it not being renewable: well, neither is sunlight or the wind, if you're taking a sufficiently long view. Eventually the Sun will consume the last of its hydrogen and expand into a red giant, probably blasting the Earth to its constituent atoms as it does so. But that's quite a long way off, so we don't worry about that. In the shorter but still decently long term, even if no more uranium deposits are found (although they will be) and no more efficient ways of using it developed (although they will be), "total identified resources are sufficient for over 100 years of supply", according to the IAEA. That ain't nothing.

"Carbon neutral" is a bit of a red herring as well in this case. It's true, nuclear power is not carbon neutral. But it's much less carbon positive, if that makes sense, than fossil fuels. The perfect is the enemy of the good, as the saying goes: just because something isn't the best possible, doesn't mean you should ignore it if it's an improvement over what is available. Furthermore, there is potential to improve the carbon emissions of nuclear; if it is made economically attractive to do so, companies will do it themselves. Targeted carbon taxes, or an auction of carbon credits, would work; certainly the latter did for industrial sulphur dioxide emissions.

But this is all a side issue, isn't it? It's about safety. Nuclear power is unsafe. Look at Chernobyl, look at Three Mile Island, look at Fukushima. It's dangerous, as the Greens say, and its cost, dangers and waste will be "passed on to future generations".

But as Prof Paddy Regan says in our paper today, that's false. Chernobyl killed about 50 people (28 people in the immediate weeks after; an estimated 19, according to the WHO, died of radiation-induced cancers in the following 20 years). Three Mile Island killed, and indeed harmed, precisely nobody. And Fukushima was the most ridiculous of all: as a vast earthquake and tsunami killed 15,000 people, the world's attention was focused on a meltdown in a 40-year-old reactor which, again, killed no one at all. As Prof Regan points out, it led to absurdities:

"The Italian foreign ministry, for example, recommended that its citizens flew out of Tokyo to avoid potential radiation exposure in the first couple of weeks following the Fukushima leak. While the radiation levels in the Japanese capital rose significantly above normal, they remained lower than the typical average background radiation levels in Rome, leading to the bizarre situation of individuals being relocated to places with higher radiation levels than those they were leaving."

He also points out that the waste from the "natural reactor" at Oklo in Gabon, which underwent a spontaneous nuclear reaction in its uranium-rich deposits two billion years ago, has moved less than 10 metres from where it was formed. "If this is what happens in nature’s random geological disposal site, a carefully chosen, geologically stable deep storage facility for vitrified nuclear fuel waste would seem safe to me," says Prof Regan.

Meanwhile, in the last 40 years, tens of thousands of people have been killed by failures at hydroelectric dams; hundreds more have died in coal mines, and of course thousands every year in the US alone from respiratory problems caused by fossil fuels. But the fear of "radiation", evident in the nonsense scares about "electrosmog", trump the very real dangers of other energy sources. (There's another interesting piece to write some day about our evolved fear of "contamination"; since the 1940s or so "radiation" has been mentally filed under "poisons", and therefore any at all is bad. But this piece is long enough already.)

The "precautionary principle", the idea that a new technology or policy should not be employed until we can be sure it is safe, sounds very reasonable. But as always, it's more complicated than that. Everything we do entails not doing something else; in this case, not using nuclear, in the short term at least, means more coal, more shale gas, more fracking, to maintain energy demands (and cutting energy use would cause its own problems, of course). Is that safer? Nuclear power has risks, of course it does. But so does everything, and nuclear power has clear potential benefits. The trick is to calmly and sensibly assess those risks and benefits, not pull up the drawbridge out of misguided fear.


Der Spiegel Skewers the World Wildlife Fund

A splendid and disturbing investigative feature in Der Spiegel explains why the WWF doesn’t deserve your charitable donations.

Screen capture from the Der Spiegel article. Click to jump to the article

Yesterday the German news magazine Der Spiegel ran an investigative feature article on the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

This is not the sort of thing one usually finds in the mainstream media, especially not in Germany. For the average member of the public, making informed decisions about which organizations deserve one’s charitable donations is difficult. This article is chock-a-block with the sort of information we all deserve to know.

Here are some direct quotes to whet your appetite:

During the 1980s the WWF reportedly funded helicopter death squads that exterminated liquidated summarily executed dozens of local poachers in a national park in Zimbabwe. The inescapable conclusion, therefore, is that while the WWF takes extreme measures to prevent poor, indigenous locals from hunting African wildlife, if you’re a wealthy foreigner different rules apply. Says the magazine:

Spanish King Juan Carlos, for example, was recently in the news after he broke his hip while hunting elephants in Botswana. Juan Carlos is the honorary president of WWF Spain, which many find outrageous. In Namibia alone, the WWF has permitted trophy hunting in 38 conservation areas.

Rich Europeans or Americans are allowed to behave as if the colonial period had never ended. They are allowed to shoot elephants, buffalo, leopards, lions, giraffes and zebras…A WWF spokesman defends this practice, saying that quotas have been established, and that the proceeds from this “regulated hunting” can contribute to conservation.

The following passage, however, is perhaps the most interesting of all. At WWF world headquarters near Geneva, the article tells us,

plaques there commemorate the people to whom the organization owes a great debt: the “Members of The 1001.” This elite group of undisclosed financiers was created in 1971 to provide financial backing for the organization.

To this day, the WWF does not like to disclose the names of the donors, probably because some of those appearing on the club’s list would not exactly help their image – people like arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi and former Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Then-WWF President Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands was able to recruit oil multinational Shell as his first major sponsor. In 1967, thousands of birds died after a tanker accident off the coast of France, and yet the WWF forbade all criticism. That could “jeopardize” future efforts to secure donations from certain industrial sectors, WWF officials said during a board meeting.

I urge you to read the whole thing here. It’s well worth your time.


America’s actual health and welfare crisis

It is EPA rules that most gravely threaten our energy, economy, health, welfare, justice, and civil rights progress

Paul Driessen

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says we face grave threats to human health, welfare and justice. She’s absolutely right. However, the dangers are not due to factory or power plant emissions, or supposed effects of “dangerous manmade global warming.”

They are the result of policies and regulations that her EPA is imposing in the name of preventing climate change and other hypothetical and exaggerated environmental problems. It is those government actions that are the gravest threat to Americans’ health, welfare, and pursuit of happiness and justice.

By hyper-regulating carbon dioxide, soot, mercury, “cross-state air pollution” from sources hundreds of miles away, and other air and water emissions, EPA intends to force numerous coal-fired power plants to shut down years before their productive life is over; sharply reduce emissions from cars, factories, refineries and other facilities, regardless of the costs; and block the construction of new coal-fired power plants, because none will be able to slash their carbon dioxide emissions to half of what average coal-fired plants now emit, without employing expensive (and nonexistent) CO2 capture and storage technologies.

EPA has also issued 588 pages of rules for hydraulic fracturing for critically needed oil and natural gas, while the Obama Administration has vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline and made 95% of all publicly owned (but government controlled) energy resources unavailable for leasing, exploration, drilling and mining.

These actions reflect President Obama’s campaign promises to “bankrupt any company that tries to build a new coal-fired power plant,” replace hydrocarbons with heavily subsidized solar, wind and biofuel energy, make energy prices “necessarily skyrocket,” advance rent-seeking crony-corporatism – and “fundamentally transform” America’s constitutional, legal, energy, economic and social structure.

Energy is the lifeblood of our nation’s economy, jobs, living standards and civil rights progress. Anything that affects energy availability, reliability and price affects every aspect of our lives. These federal diktats put bureaucrats and activists in charge of our entire economy – seriously impairing our health and welfare.

Moreover, the anti-hydrocarbon global warming “solutions” the Obama Administration is imposing will bring no real world benefits – even assuming carbon dioxide actually drives climate change. That’s largely because China, India and other developing countries are increasing their use of coal for electricity generation, and thus their CO2 emissions – far beyond our ability to reduce US emissions. These nations rightly refuse to sacrifice economic growth and poverty eradication on the altar of climate alarmism.

Even worse, the health, welfare and environmental justice benefits that EPA claims will result from its regulations are equally exaggerated and illusory. They exist only in the same dishonest computer-generated virtual reality that concocted its alleged climate change, health and environmental cataclysms, and in junk-science analyses that can best be described as borderline fraud.

Implementing EPA’s regulatory agenda will inflict severe economic dislocations and send shock waves through America’s factories, farmlands and families. Far from improving our health and welfare – they will make our economy, unemployment, living standards, health and welfare even worse.

EPA’s new automobile mileage standards alone will result in thousands of additional serious injuries and deaths every year, as cars are further downsized to meet its arbitrary 54.5 mpg requirements. Its anti-coal and anti-fracking rules will severely impact electricity generation, reliability and prices; factory, office and hospital operations and budgets; American industries’ competitiveness in global markets; employment, hiring and layoffs; and the well-being of families and entire communities. Especially for areas that depend on mining and manufacturing – and the 26 states where coal-based power generation keeps electricity rates at half of what they are in states with the least coal use and toughest renewable energy mandates (6-9 cents versus 13-17 cents per kilowatt hour) – it will be all pain, for no gain.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a White House letter to House Speaker John Boehner inadvertently acknowledged that EPA alone is still working on new regulations that the agency itself calculates will impose $105 billion in additional regulatory burdens and compliance costs. Win or lose in November, the Administration will likely impose these and other postponed rules after the elections. We, our children and grandchildren will pay for them in countless ways.

Utilities will have to spend $130 billion to retrofit or replace older coal-fired units, says energy analyst Roger Bezdek – and another $30 billion a year for operations, maintenance and extra fuel for energy-intensive scrubbers and other equipment, to generate increasingly expensive electricity.

Duke Energy’s new $3.3 billion coal gasification and “carbon dioxide capture” power plant will increase rates for its Indiana customers by some 15% the next two years. Hospitals, factories, shopping malls and school districts will have to pay an extra $150,000 a year in operating expenses for each million dollars in annual electricity bills. That’s four or five entry-level jobs that won’t be created or preserved.

Nationwide, 319 coal-fueled power plants totaling 42,895 megawatts (13% of the nation's coal fleet and enough for 40 million homes and small businesses) are already slated to close, the Sierra Club joyfully proclaimed. Illinois families and businesses could pay 20% more for electricity by 2014, the Chicago Tribune reports. Chicago public schools may have to find an extra $2.7 million a year to keep the lights and heat on and computers running.

Higher electricity prices will further strain refineries already struggling with soaring electricity costs and EPA’s sulfur and other regulations, restrictions on refinery upgrades and construction, constraints on moving crude oil to East Coast refineries, and other compliance costs – all for dubious environmental or health benefits. Three East Coast refineries have already closed, costing thousands of jobs and causing the Department of Energy to warn that pump prices are likely to soar even higher in Eastern states.

When we include discouraged workers who have given up looking for jobs, and people who have been forced to work fewer hours or at temporary jobs, our unemployment rate is a whopping 19 percent – and double that for black and Hispanic young people. America’s labor force participation rate is at a 30-year low. Our nation’s 2011 economic growth rate was a dismal 1.7 percent.

Well over a million US workers age 55 and older have now been out of work for 27 weeks or more. Not only do prospects plummet for re-employment of older workers. The longer they are unemployed, the more they are disconnected from society, the further their living standards fall, the more their physical and emotional well-being deteriorates, and the more likely they are to die prematurely.

The cumulative effect is that families have even less money to buy food, pay the rent or mortgage, repair the car or house, save for college and retirement, take a vacation – and keep people comfortable (and alive) on frigid winter nights and sweltering summer afternoons. Workers lose jobs. Health and welfare, family relationships, future prospects and psychological well-being plummet. Because they spend the highest proportion of their incomes on energy, poor and minority families suffer disproportionately.

And yet the EPA and White House regulatory agenda, regulatory onslaught and horse-blinder definition of health, welfare and justice ignore these realities – and ensure that this unconscionable situation will only get worse. In fact, the only welfare EPA’s rules will ensure is the expansion of our welfare rolls, unemployment lines and already record-setting food stamp programs.

EPA is also giving billions of taxpayer dollars to activist groups, to advance its agenda and dominate our media and hearings with false or misleading information about the costs and benefits of its programs.

Worst of all, our Congress and courts have completely abdicated their obligations to provide oversight and control of this dictatorial agency and Obama Administration. If this is the hope, change and future we can look “forward” to, our nation’s health, well-being and justice will be rolled backward.


Is Washington, D.C., Really the Environment's Savior?

Guest post by Jonathan H. Adler, a professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law and a regular contributor to the Volokh Conspiracy.

Note by JR: The market-based approaches briefly outlined below are useful contributors to real environmental problems but they cannot deal with mythical problems such as CO2 "pollution". You have to have a real problem before you can mitigate it

It can be a bit lonely working on environmental issues from the "right" side of the political spectrum. Environmental academics and activists rarely have much patience (let alone sympathy) for principles that would limit the scope of government power and few conservatives or libertarians take environmental issues seriously.

Some of my friends on the right seem to think that any environmental problem the market cannot magically solve must be a hoax. There's no doubt many environmental threats have been exaggerated, and the capacity of traditional regulatory institutions to address environmental concerns is often oversold, but serious environmental problems remain, and they should be addressed.

Yet in the political sphere, those on the right either oppose every environmental measure with a reactionary fervor or they insist that whatever we do, we just have to make it cost a bit less. Neither is a satisfactory response. Blind opposition to the Sierra Club's agenda does not an environmental policy make. Nor is there a compelling case for always doing environmental initiatives on the cheap. Across the aisle, unfortunately, concerns for regulatory costs and limitations are viewed with equal suspicion.

As illustrated in the past three posts, much of my work explores the possibility and potential of a "pro-environment" policy agenda that is consistent with principles of limited government. This sort of approach is often characterized as "free market environmentalism" or "FME." This moniker may be a bit of a misnomer in that it emphasizes the "market" rather than the underlying set of institutions upon which markets - and sound conservation - both depend, but it certainly communicates the idea of trying to reconcile free enterprise and environmental protection through the recognition and protection of property rights in environmental resources.

This approach cuts against the grain of conventional environmental policy. Suggestions for dramatic reform of environmental laws is regularly characterized as "anti-environmental." Part of the problem is the standard fable of federal environmental regulation which recounts an overly romanticized view of the federal government's role in environmental protection. Based on this fable, many believe any effort to curtail federal regulatory authority, expand protection of property rights, or create greater state flexibility is an attack on environmental protection. But it ain't necessarily so.

According to the standard fable, post-war environmental conditions got inexorably worse until the nation's environmental consciousness awoke in the 1960s and demanded action. State and local governments were environmental laggards, according to this story, and only the federal government was capable of safeguarding ecological concerns. Events such as the 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga River, memorialized in Time magazine with this picture, are pointed to as support for this traditional account. This fire, which helped spur passage of the 1972 Clean Water Act, is constantly cited as evidence of how bad things were before the federal government got involved.

Yet the standard fable is just that, a fable - a fictionalized account with some truth, but fiction nonetheless. Let's start with the 1969 fire. There was a fire on the Cuyahoga River in June 1969, Time magazine did run a photo of a fire on the Cuyahoga, and the story of the fire did help spur passage of the CWA. But that's about where the truth ends. The fire was actually a minor event in Cleveland, largely because river fires on the Cuyahoga had once been common, as they had been on industrialized rivers throughout the United States, throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But river fires were costly and posed serious risks to people and property, prompting local governments and private industry to act. The fire was not evidence of how bad things could get, but a reminder of how bad things had been.

Further, the June 1969 fire was far smaller and less significant than the fires of years past. Where there had been some major infernos on the Cuyahoga in years past, the 1969 fire was not among them. The fire burned for less than thirty minutes, and was out before the cameras arrived. (Here's the closest thing to a picture of that fire.) And that picture in Time magazine? It was not of the 1969 fire but of a fire from 1952. Apparently the editors of Time felt the need to dramatize their story of environmental ruin with a picture of a real fire, so they used the best picture they could find, even if it was not of the fire featured in their story. [For those interested, here is an extensive treatment of this history.]

The problems with the standard fable extend beyond the story of one river. While there were plenty of serious environmental problems in the 1960s, it's wrong to suggest everything was getting inexorably worse until the federal government got involved. Just as the problem of river fires had gotten better, not worse, prior to the 1969 Cuyahoga river, many environmental indicators were improving before the enactment of the major federal environmental laws. According the Environmental Protection Agency's first national water quality inventory in 1972, levels of some key pollutants had been declining significantly in the decade prior to enactment of the CWA. Ambient concentrations of some air pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, had declined substantially before enactment of the federal Clean Air Act. Wetland loss rates plummeted before the extension of federal regulatory protection. And so on.

Not every trend was positive, to be sure, but many were. In particular, those environmental concerns that were most obvious, understandable, and costly were improving -- largely due to a combination of state, local and private efforts - whereas emerging or less-well understood problems were not. In some cases federal regulation augmented and enhanced these preexisting efforts, but in other areas it imposed redundant or excessive controls that crowded out more locally tailored efforts. (For more on these points, see here and here.)

None of this means that all federal environmental regulation was unnecessary or unwise. There are some environmental problems that state and local governments are unwilling or unable to address on their own. But, contrary to the standard fable, federal environmental regulation was not always necessary or an improvement over the available alternatives. Among other things it had the effect of dampening innovation and experimentation in environmental protection, encouraging a "one-size-fits-all" approach to some environmental problems that too often becomes "one-size-fits-nobody." And if there is to be renewed experimentation and innovation in environmental policy, there needs to be a recognition that not all environmental policy decisions are best made in Washington, D.C. My own proposal for how to encourage greater environmental innovation can be found here.

In my view, greater state flexibility is a necessary, but not sufficient, for meaningful environmental reform. Environmental problems are hard, and the best solutions are not always apparent. Even where there is a broad consensus on the desirability of a particular policy approach, questions of implementation and design remain. Experimentation and innovation are necessary to discover how best to get these details right. I believe that greater reliance on property rights and market institutions will lead to more effective and equitable environmental protection, but until such approaches are tried, the claim is speculative. Only by trying new approaches can we learn which measures best succeed, or fail. I believe property-based approaches will emerge as the best (or least bad) approach to many environmental problems, but we will not know for sure until we try. And unless one is truly satisfied with current approaches to environmental protection (and few are), there is no reason not to let the experiments begin.


Australia: Jobs bonanza in new brown coal rush

If Greenies hate coal, they REALLY hate brown coal (lignite) -- but it is very close to the surface in Australia so just has to be dredged up -- making it very cheap. It has been powering Victoria for decades. It is also now the major source of power for Germany (and -- Ahem! -- Greece)

A PLAN to export Victoria's brown coal will deliver 3300 jobs and more than $11 billion in new revenue as the state plots its own mining boom.

Internal government documents seen by the Herald Sun reveal the enormous scale of the proposed project and how advanced negotiations are.

The Baillieu Government has been in secret talks with a consortium from India, Japan and Australia for more than a year about granting access to the state's huge deposits of brown coal, papers show.

That project alone would generate $11 billion in state revenue and create 3000 jobs on its construction and another 300 on-going jobs through its operation.

And the Herald Sun understands that windfall could be the tip of the iceberg, as other overseas groups are interested in similar-scale schemes.

Documents detail how a consortium led by Australian company Exergen, backed by India's biggest business group, Tata, and Japan's third-largest trader, Itochu, is in talks with the Government over one plan.

Tata Power executives met state Energy Minister Michael O'Brien and federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson in October, claiming the coal project could deliver $11 billion in royalties to Victoria's economy in the next 40 years.

Exergen has told the Government it has spent $20 million developing technology that can reduce the moisture content of brown coal from 65 per cent to 25 per cent, making it suitable for export.

Under the first stage of its Victorian project the consortium plans to spend $50 million building a full-scale commercial demonstration plant, to be operational within three years of it receiving an allocation.

Exergen is also collaborating with the CSIRO to develop the use of its treated brown coal, and claims three direct injection coal engines would be able to replace a third of the electricity generated at Hazelwood, but with vastly lower emissions.

Exergen chief executive officer Trevor Bourne told the Herald Sun his group wanted access to a billion tonnes of Victoria's brown coal, with full confidence it could make the project commercially and environmentally sound.

"We are going to invest $100 million in proving this - we are confident enough to spend that money," he said.

"We are a committed company that think we can have an impact reducing carbon dioxide and unlocking the value in the Latrobe Valley."



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


"The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement" -- Karl Popper

This site is in favour of things that ARE good for the environment. That the usual Greenie causes are good for the environment is however disputed.

By John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.), writing from Brisbane, Australia.

This is one of TWO skeptical blogs that I update daily. During my research career as a social scientist, I was appalled at how much writing in my field was scientifically lacking -- and I often said so in detail in the many academic journal articles I had published in that field. I eventually gave up social science research, however, because no data ever seemed to change the views of its practitioners. I hoped that such obtuseness was confined to the social scientists but now that I have shifted my attention to health related science and climate related science, I find the same impermeability to facts and logic. Hence this blog and my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog. I may add that I did not come to either health or environmental research entirely without credentials. I had several academic papers published in both fields during my social science research career

Since my academic background is in the social sciences, it is reasonable to ask what a social scientist is doing talking about global warming. My view is that my expertise is the most relevant of all. It seems clear to me from what you will see on this blog that belief in global warming is very poorly explained by history, chemistry, physics or statistics.

Warmism is prophecy, not science. Science cannot foretell the future. Science can make very accurate predictions based on known regularities in nature (e.g. predicting the orbits of the inner planets) but Warmism is the exact opposite of that. It predicts a DEPARTURE from the known regularities of nature. If we go by the regularities of nature, we are on the brink of an ice age.

And from a philosophy of science viewpoint, far from being "the science", Warmism is not even an attempt at a factual statement, let alone being science. It is not a meaningful statement about the world. Why? Because it is unfalsifiable -- making it a religious, not a scientific statement. To be a scientific statement, there would have to be some conceivable event that disproved it -- but there appears to be none. ANY event is hailed by Warmists as proving their contentions. Only if Warmists were able to specify some fact or event that would disprove their theory would it have any claim to being a scientific statement. So the explanation for Warmist beliefs has to be primarily a psychological and political one -- which makes it my field

And, after all, Al Gore's academic qualifications are in social science also -- albeit very pissant qualifications.

Climate is the sum of weather. So if you cannot forecast the weather a month in advance, you will not be able to forecast the climate 50 years in advance. And official meteorologists such as Britain's Met Office and Australia's BOM, are very poor forecasters of weather. The Met office has in fact given up on making seasonal forecasts because they have so often got such forecasts embarrassingly wrong. Their global-warming-powered "models" just did not deliver

A strange Green/Left conceit: They seem to think (e.g. here) that no-one should spend money opposing them and that conservative donors must not support the election campaigns of Congressmen they agree with

To Greenies, Genghis Khan was a good guy, believe it or not. They love that he killed so many people.

After three exceptionally cold winters in the Northern hemisphere, the Warmists are chanting: "Warming causes cold". Even if we give that a pass for logic, it still inspires the question: "Well, what are we worried about"? Cold is not going to melt the icecaps is it?"

It's a central (but unproven) assumption of the Warmist "models" that clouds cause warming. Odd that it seems to cool the temperature down when clouds pass overhead!

To make out that the essentially trivial warming of the last 150 years poses some sort of threat, Warmists postulate positive feedbacks that might cut in to make the warming accelerate in the near future. Amid their theories about feedbacks, however, they ignore the one feedback that is no theory: The reaction of plants to CO2. Plants gobble up CO2 and the more CO2 there is the more plants will flourish and hence gobble up yet more CO2. And the increasing crop yields of recent years show that plantlife is already flourishing more. The recent rise in CO2 will therefore soon be gobbled up and will no longer be around to bother anyone. Plants provide a huge NEGATIVE feedback in response to increases in atmospheric CO2


After much reading in the relevant literature, the following conclusions seem warranted to me. You should find evidence for all of them appearing on this blog from time to time:

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A "HEAT TRAPPING GAS". A gas can become warmer by contact with something warmer or by infrared radiation shining on it or by adiabatic (pressure) effects but it cannot trap anything. Air is a gas. Try trapping something with it!

Greenies are the sand in the gears of modern civilization -- and they intend to be.

The Greenie message is entirely emotional and devoid of all logic. They say that polar ice will melt and cause a big sea-level rise. Yet 91% of the world's glacial ice is in Antarctica, where the average temperature is around minus 40 degrees Celsius. The melting point of ice is zero degrees. So for the ice to melt on any scale the Antarctic temperature would need to rise by around 40 degrees, which NOBODY is predicting. The median Greenie prediction is about 4 degrees. So where is the huge sea level rise going to come from? Mars? And the North polar area is mostly sea ice and melting sea ice does not raise the sea level at all. Yet Warmists constantly hail any sign of Arctic melting. That the melting of floating ice does not raise the water level is known as Archimedes' principle. Archimedes demonstrated it around 2,500 years ago. That Warmists have not yet caught up with that must be just about the most inspissated ignorance imaginable. The whole Warmist scare defies the most basic physics. Yet at the opening of 2011 we find the following unashamed lying by James Hansen: "We will lose all the ice in the polar ice cap in a couple of decades". Sadly, what the Vulgate says in John 1:5 is still only very partially true: "Lux in tenebris lucet". There is still much darkness in the minds of men.

The repeated refusal of Warmist "scientists" to make their raw data available to critics is such a breach of scientific protocol that it amounts to a confession in itself. Note, for instance Phil Jones' Feb 21, 2005 response to Warwick Hughes' request for his raw climate data: "We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?" Looking for things that might be wrong with a given conclusion is of course central to science. But Warmism cannot survive such scrutiny. So even after "Climategate", the secrecy goes on.

Most Greenie causes are at best distractions from real environmental concerns (such as land degradation) and are more motivated by a hatred of people than by any care for the environment

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

‘Global warming’ has become the grand political narrative of the age, replacing Marxism as a dominant force for controlling liberty and human choices. -- Prof. P. Stott

Comparing climate alarmist Hansen to Cassandra is WRONG. Cassandra's (Greek mythology) dire prophecies were never believed but were always right. Hansen's dire prophecies are usually believed but are always wrong (Prof. Laurence Gould, U of Hartford, CT)

The modern environmental movement arose out of the wreckage of the New Left. They call themselves Green because they're too yellow to admit they're really Reds. So Lenin's birthday was chosen to be the date of Earth Day. Even a moderate politician like Al Gore has been clear as to what is needed. In "Earth in the Balance", he wrote that saving the planet would require a "wrenching transformation of society".

For centuries there was a scientific consensus which said that fire was explained by the release of an invisible element called phlogiston. That theory is universally ridiculed today. Global warming is the new phlogiston. Though, now that we know how deliberate the hoax has been, it might be more accurate to call global warming the New Piltdown Man. The Piltdown hoax took 40 years to unwind. I wonder....

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

Policies: The only underlying theme that makes sense of all Greenie policies is hatred of people. Hatred of other people has been a Greenie theme from way back. In a report titled "The First Global Revolution" (1991, p. 104) published by the "Club of Rome", a Greenie panic outfit, we find the following statement: "In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill.... All these dangers are caused by human intervention... The real enemy, then, is humanity itself." See here for many more examples of prominent Greenies saying how much and how furiously they hate you.

The conventional wisdom of the day is often spectacularly wrong. The most popular and successful opera of all time is undoubtedly "Carmen" by Georges Bizet. Yet it was much criticized when first performed and the unfortunate Bizet died believing that it was a flop. Similarly, when the most iconic piece of 20th century music was first performed in 1913-- Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" -- half the audience walked out. Those of us who defy the conventional wisdom about climate are actually better off than that. Unlike Bizet and Stravinsky in 1913, we KNOW that we will eventually be vindicated -- because all that supports Warmism is a crumbling edifice of guesswork ("models").

Al Gore won a political prize for an alleged work of science. That rather speaks for itself, doesn't it?

Jim Hansen and his twin

Getting rich and famous through alarmism: Al Gore is well-known but note also James Hansen. He has for decades been a senior, presumably well-paid, employee at NASA. In 2001 he was the recipient of a $250,000 Heinz Award. In 2007 Time magazine designated him a Hero of the Environment. That same year he pocketed one-third of a $1 million Dan David Prize. In 2008, the American Association for the Advancement of Science presented him with its Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award. In 2010 he landed a $100,000 Sophie Prize. He pulled in a total of $1.2 million in 2010. Not bad for a government bureaucrat.

See the original global Warmist in action here: "The icecaps are melting and all world is drowning to wash away the sin"

I am not a global warming skeptic nor am I a global warming denier. I am a global warming atheist. I don't believe one bit of it. That the earth's climate changes is undeniable. Only ignoramuses believe that climate stability is normal. But I see NO evidence to say that mankind has had anything to do with any of the changes observed -- and much evidence against that claim.

Seeing that we are all made of carbon, the time will come when people will look back on the carbon phobia of the early 21st century as too incredible to be believed

Meanwhile, however, let me venture a tentative prophecy. Prophecies are almost always wrong but here goes: Given the common hatred of carbon (Warmists) and salt (Food freaks) and given the fact that we are all made of carbon, salt, water and calcium (with a few additives), I am going to prophecy that at some time in the future a hatred of nitrogen will emerge. Why? Because most of the air that we breathe is nitrogen. We live at the bottom of a nitrogen sea. Logical to hate nitrogen? NO. But probable: Maybe. The Green/Left is mad enough. After all, nitrogen is a CHEMICAL -- and we can't have that!

UPDATE to the above: It seems that I am a true prophet

The intellectual Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) must have foreseen Global Warmism. He said: "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."

The Holy Grail for most scientists is not truth but research grants. And the global warming scare has produced a huge downpour of money for research. Any mystery why so many scientists claim some belief in global warming?

For many people, global warming seems to have taken the place of "The Jews" -- a convenient but false explanation for any disliked event. Prof. Brignell has some examples.

Global warming skeptics are real party-poopers. It's so wonderful to believe that you have a mission to save the world.

There is an "ascetic instinct" (or perhaps a "survivalist instinct") in many people that causes them to delight in going without material comforts. Monasteries and nunneries were once full of such people -- with the Byzantine stylites perhaps the most striking example. Many Greenies (other than Al Gore and his Hollywood pals) have that instinct too but in the absence of strong orthodox religious committments they have to convince themselves that the world NEEDS them to live in an ascetic way. So their personal emotional needs lead them to press on us all a delusional belief that the planet needs "saving".

The claim that oil is a fossil fuel is another great myth and folly of the age. They are now finding oil at around seven MILES beneath the sea bed -- which is incomparably further down than any known fossil. The abiotic oil theory is not as yet well enough developed to generate useful predictions but that is also true of fossil fuel theory

Help keep the planet Green! Maximize your CO2 and CH4 output!

Global Warming=More Life; Global Cooling=More Death.

The inconvenient truth about biological effects of "Ocean Acidification"


"The desire to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it" -- H L Mencken

'Nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action' -- Goethe

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.” -- Voltaire

Lord Salisbury: "No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome; if you believe theologians, nothing is innocent; if you believe soldiers, nothing is safe."

Bertrand Russell knew about consensus: "The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.”

There goes another beautiful theory about to be murdered by a brutal gang of facts. - Duc de La Rochefoucauld, French writer and moralist (1613-1680)

"In science, refuting an accepted belief is celebrated as an advance in knowledge; in religion it is condemned as heresy". (Bob Parks, Physics, U of Maryland). No prizes for guessing how global warming skepticism is normally responded to.

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus

"The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin." -- Thomas H. Huxley

“Affordable energy in ample quantities is the lifeblood of the industrial societies and a prerequisite for the economic development of the others.” -- John P. Holdren, Science Adviser to President Obama. Published in Science 9 February 2001

'The closer science looks at the real world processes involved in climate regulation the more absurd the IPCC's computer driven fairy tale appears. Instead of blithely modeling climate based on hunches and suppositions, climate scientists would be better off abandoning their ivory towers and actually measuring what happens in the real world.' -- Doug L Hoffman

Time was, people warning the world "Repent - the end is nigh!" were snickered at as fruitcakes. Now they own the media and run the schools.

"One of the sources of the Fascist movement is the desire to avoid a too-rational and too-comfortable world" -- George Orwell, 1943 in Can Socialists Be Happy?

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts -- Bertrand Russell

Against the long history of huge temperature variation in the earth's climate (ice ages etc.), the .6 of one degree average rise reported by the U.N. "experts" for the entire 20th century (a rise so small that you would not be able to detect such a difference personally without instruments) shows, if anything, that the 20th century was a time of exceptional temperature stability.

Recent NASA figures tell us that there was NO warming trend in the USA during the 20th century. If global warming is occurring, how come it forgot the USA?

Warmists say that the revised NASA figures do not matter because they cover only the USA -- and the rest of the world is warming nicely. But it is not. There has NEVER been any evidence that the Southern hemisphere is warming. See here. So the warming pattern sure is looking moth-eaten.

The latest scare is the possible effect of extra CO2 on the world’s oceans, because more CO2 lowers the pH of seawater. While it is claimed that this makes the water more acidic, this is misleading. Since seawater has a pH around 8.1, it will take an awful lot of CO2 it to even make the water neutral (pH=7), let alone acidic (pH less than 7).

In fact, 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.

The chaos theory people have told us for years that the air movement from a single butterfly's wing in Brazil can cause an unforeseen change in our weather here. Now we are told that climate experts can "model" the input of zillions of such incalculable variables over periods of decades to accurately forecast global warming 50 years hence. Give us all a break!

If you doubt the arrogance [of the global warming crowd, you haven't seen that Newsweek cover story that declared the global warming debate over. Consider: If Newton's laws of motion could, after 200 years of unfailing experimental and experiential confirmation, be overthrown, it requires religious fervor to believe that global warming -- infinitely more untested, complex and speculative -- is a closed issue

A "geriatric" revolt: The scientists who reject Warmism tend to be OLD! Your present blogger is one of those. There are tremendous pressures to conformity in academe and the generally Leftist orientation of academe tends to pressure everyone within it to agree to ideas that suit the Left. And Warmism is certainly one of those ideas. So old guys are the only ones who can AFFORD to declare the Warmists to be unclothed. They either have their careers well-established (with tenure) or have reached financial independence (retirement) and so can afford to call it like they see it. In general, seniors in society today are not remotely as helpful to younger people as they once were. But their opposition to the Warmist hysteria will one day show that seniors are not completely irrelevant after all. Experience does count (we have seen many such hysterias in the past and we have a broader base of knowledge to call on) and our independence is certainly an enormous strength. Some of us are already dead. (Reid Bryson and John Daly are particularly mourned) and some of us are very senior indeed (e.g. Bill Gray and Vince Gray) but the revolt we have fostered is ever growing so we have not labored in vain.

Scientists have politics too -- sometimes extreme politics. Read this: "This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism... I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child." -- Albert Einstein

The "precautionary principle" is a favourite Greenie idea -- but isn't that what George Bush was doing when he invaded Iraq? Wasn't that a precaution against Saddam getting or having any WMDs? So Greenies all agree with the Iraq intervention? If not, why not?

A classic example of how the sensationalist media distort science to create climate panic is here.

There is a very readable summary of the "Hockey Stick" fraud here

The Lockwood & Froehlich paper was designed to rebut Durkin's "Great Global Warming Swindle" film. It is a rather confused paper -- acknowledging yet failing to account fully for the damping effect of the oceans, for instance -- but it is nonetheless valuable to climate atheists. The concession from a Greenie source that fluctuations in the output of the sun have driven climate change for all but the last 20 years (See the first sentence of the paper) really is invaluable. And the basic fact presented in the paper -- that solar output has in general been on the downturn in recent years -- is also amusing to see. Surely even a crazed Greenie mind must see that the sun's influence has not stopped and that reduced solar output will soon start COOLING the earth! Unprecedented July 2007 cold weather throughout the Southern hemisphere might even have been the first sign that the cooling is happening. And the fact that warming plateaued in 1998 is also a good sign that we are moving into a cooling phase. As is so often the case, the Greenies have got the danger exactly backwards. See my post of 7.14.07 and very detailed critiques here and here and here for more on the Lockwood paper and its weaknesses.

As the Greenies are now learning, even strong statistical correlations may disappear if a longer time series is used. A remarkable example from Sociology: "The modern literature on hate crimes began with a remarkable 1933 book by Arthur Raper titled The Tragedy of Lynching. Raper assembled data on the number of lynchings each year in the South and on the price of an acre’s yield of cotton. He calculated the correla­tion coefficient between the two series at –0.532. In other words, when the economy was doing well, the number of lynchings was lower.... In 2001, Donald Green, Laurence McFalls, and Jennifer Smith published a paper that demolished the alleged connection between economic condi­tions and lynchings in Raper’s data. Raper had the misfortune of stopping his anal­ysis in 1929. After the Great Depression hit, the price of cotton plummeted and economic condi­tions deteriorated, yet lynchings continued to fall. The correlation disappeared altogether when more years of data were added." So we must be sure to base our conclusions on ALL the data. In the Greenie case, the correlation between CO2 rise and global temperature rise stopped in 1998 -- but that could have been foreseen if measurements taken in the first half of the 20th century had been considered.

Relying on the popular wisdom can even hurt you personally: "The scientific consensus of a quarter-century ago turned into the arthritic nightmare of today."

Greenie-approved sources of electricity (windmills and solar cells) require heavy government subsidies to be competitive with normal electricity generators so a Dutch word for Greenie power seems graphic to me: "subsidieslurpers" (subsidy gobblers)