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31 March, 2006

U.K. Misses Its Own Climate Change Targets-- WHAT NEXT?

As the U.K. today faces the reality that its official policy for fighting climate change has failed to deliver its own ambitious targets, it must acknowledge the harsh impact of cap and trade systems, which fail to protect the environment but instead have a damaging impact on energy prices, economic growth and jobs

The UK Government today announced that its Climate Change Programme Review, on which it has spent more than a year, will not deliver its key global warming target to cut CO2 emissions to 20 per cent less than 1990 levels by 2010.

The International Council for Capital Formation (ICCF) urged U.K. policymakers to stop one-sided catering to environmental pressure groups and instead help to build practical, global solutions that will balance environmental goals with sound economic development. "The high costs of compliance with a major pact like Kyoto are proving to be a heavy burden for industry and energy companies to bear," said ICCF Director Dr. Margo Thorning."If the U.K. stays this course consumers will ultimately pay the price in higher energy costs and lost jobs. In fact, indications are that the Emissions Trading Scheme is already raising UK energy prices."

A series of in-depth studies recently published by ICCF has analyzed the economic and energy implications of meeting emissions reductions defined under the Kyoto Protocol through an emissions trading regime in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and Germany.The studies show a significant rise in energy costs for consumers and businesses if the four countries meet their Kyoto emissions reduction targets in 2010 including:

* Increasing energy bills: An average increase in electricity prices of 26% and an average increase of 41% of natural gas prices by 2010 (across UK, Germany, Spain)

* Significant job losses: Job losses of at least 200,000 in each of Italy, Germany, UK and Spain to meet Kyoto targets by 2010 - rising to as many as 611,000 in Spain in 2010

* Damage to economy: A significant reduction in annual GDP below base case levels by 2010: 0.8% for Germany (18.5 billion Euros), 3.1% for Spain (26 billion Euros), 2.1% for Italy (27 billion Euros) and 1.1% for the UK (22 billion Euros).

These economic effects are already being felt throughout the European Union, as sentiments appear to be changing over cap and trade systems.Last September, mounting concerns over Kyoto led the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, whose own authority has been long waning, to state, "The truth is no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long term environmental problem.To be honest, I don't think people are going, at least in the short term, to start negotiating another major treaty like Kyoto."

ICCF noted that near-term emission reductions in developed countries should not take priority over maintaining strong economic growth and that the best course for the U.K. is to focus on the development of new, cost-effective technologies for alternative energy production and conservation while encouraging the spread of economic freedom and economic growth in the developing world. "Energy use and economic growth go hand in hand," Thorning said."The U.K. should reject mandatory programs, look to free market policies based on technology and reducing energy intensity, and work with developing countries on cleaner development - promoting improvements in their living standards while slowing their very rapid growth in greenhouse gas emissions."



A sign of Ireland's great growth in prosperity: Exactly what the Greenies aim to stop

Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions from transport rose almost six times faster than the European average with more than a million extra cars on the country's roads now. Greenhouse gas emissions rose by 130% over a 10-year period in Ireland, compared to an EU average rise of 22%. The increase is in line with the country's major economic growth over the last decade, but poses a huge challenge for meeting Kyoto targets and is a serious threat to health.

Fine Gael MEP Avril Doyle wants the Government to introduce bio-fuels fast as the best chance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A report from the European Environment Agency (EEA), to be launched today, shows that more goods and passengers are being transported farther and more often across Europe. But the figures show that Ireland has raced ahead with a 160% increase in freight transport compared to the European average of 34%. .....


Australian climate policy interests Blair

Australia has held talks with Tony Blair on forging a post-Kyoto accord to cut carbon emissions, with the British Prime Minister calling for a "real dose of realism" in the debate over greenhouse gases. John Howard and senior government ministers yesterday discussed with Mr Blair a possible climate strategy involving the world's 20 biggest carbon emitters, including China, India, Australia, the US and Britain. Mr Howard signalled he was keen to explore options, suggesting the recently formed Asia- Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate as a bridge to get other nations "into the tent". Australia and the US are among a few countries that have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, amid concerns the regime will unfairly penalise developed economies that rely strongly on fossil fuels as an energy source.

Mr Blair, who has championed a global push to cut greenhouse gases, described the Asia-Pacific framework, dubbed AP6, as a "very important positive sign". It comprises Australia, the US, China, India, Japan and South Korea. Climate change was one of a number of issues discussed as Mr Blair met cabinet ministers in Canberra yesterday. It is understood Mr Blair and government MPs discussed the need for progress on climate change, with the British leader later accepting that countries such as Australia were reluctant to embrace the Kyoto targets. "Countries are going to be very worried about external targets being imposed on their economic growth," Mr Blair told reporters.

Instead, Australia is hoping the AP6 framework will emerge as a serious group that can lead to the introduction of cleaner energy technologies to cut greenhouse emissions. A group of about 45 Australian representatives, mainly from industry, will travel to the US next month to discuss ways to spend hundreds of millions of dollars offered by governments. But there is a recognition that more will have to be done to combat the rising levels of carbon emissions.

Mr Blair's discussion yesterday revolved around a group of about 20 countries - including the six AP6 members - that could drive global reform. Mr Blair said there was need for a new framework "that allows us to move forward in a disciplined way". "But I think the fact that you've got these initiatives at the moment, all tending in the same direction, is actually a positive sign."


No showers at night for Brisbane?

Greenie opposition to dams to service Australia's third-largest city is taking its toll

Water pressure is to be turned down at night across southeast Queensland in a desperate bid to stop the region from running out of the precious resource. The dramatic step, with the potential to affect fire-fighting abilities in some areas and increase pumping costs for developers, is one of several conservation initiatives from a drought management taskforce. Without serious rain, experts predict the city will run out of water in August 2008 - even with tough stage three water restrictions to come in in May. The wet season is almost at an end. And the Brisbane City Council has been told there is a less than 50 per cent chance of above-median rainfall before the harsher restrictions take effect.

Environment and sustainability committee chair Helen Abrahams said the decision to turn down pressure was taken because most mains burst at night. Brisbane loses 10 per cent of its water from an average of seven main breaks each day. In some areas, pressure is too high; in others, too low. Cr Abrahams said most breaks occurred at night time, "when we are all asleep and not using the water . . . the pressure builds up in the system. So by a simple way of putting valves at various locations, we can actually reduce that pressure at night time, reduce the incident of breaks, and therefore be able to increase the pressure in the morning when you get up and your domestic use increases again."

In August the council revealed that ageing water pipes in the inner city area were dangerously below firefighting standards. It was claimed that emergency crews were hampered in some densely populated older suburbs with a large number of timber houses, because they received less than one-third of the water volume and velocity needed to control blazes. Developers, who have spent thousands of dollars on pumps to increase water pressure in their buildings to offset the city's poor infrastructure, now face even greater expense. "We would prefer the city take action to actually repair the water mains," said Steve de Nys of the Property Council of Australia industrial committee. It was disappointing that infrastructure fees paid by developers were diverted to the general fund rather than being used on repairs and upgrades, he said....

More here


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

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

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


30 March, 2006


Global warming advocates are typically leftists, and it is a curiosity today that there are others on the left who have views that entail that global warming isn't occurring. I refer to those humanities professors who insist that truth is subjective, that the scientific method is unreliable and merely reflects current power relations, that reality is some sort of construct, etc.

Obviously, if all this is right, then it is false that global warming is happening objectively. We need to see a debate between these two groups, since both can't be right. If global warming is occurring, and if we can know this via science, then why are we paying these professors to dish out such garbage in our colleges and universities?

On the other hand, if these professors have some legitimate criticisms of the scientific method, fine. Let's hear them. But that will mean a legitimation of the skepticism that so many on the right now have concerning global warming.


Tony Blair was accused last night of caving in to American pressure by proposing a watered-down replacement for the Kyoto Protocol that relies on new technology rather than binding greenhouse gas cuts as the solution to climate change. The Prime Minister will call today for a new international goal of stabilising temperatures and carbon emissions at present levels when the Kyoto agreement expires in 2012, to be achieved primarily by investment in cleaner energy technologies.

Though the plan will be presented as a way of resolving deadlock over the best way to tackle global warming, it was attacked by environmental groups as a toothless sop to the Bush Administration that would fail unless backed by rigorous targets. "In attempting to try to bring Bush on board he's moving so far that we might end up without a coherent framework," Mike Childs, of Friends of the Earth, said. "The trouble with saying we need new technology without having targets is that the business community won't invest. It will keep its money in coal, oil and gas."

Mr Blair's proposal, which comes as the Government admitted that it would miss its pledge to reduce carbon dioxide output by 20 per cent of 1990 levels by 2010, will be laid out in a speech to a climate change conference in Wellington, the New Zealand capital. It is intended to break the international stalemate over the Kyoto Protocol, which sets targets for emissions reductions by rich countries but is repudiated by the US. A source close to the Prime Minister said it was now clear that Kyoto was a "dead-end street", as it has developed into a religion that countries stand implacably for or against.

Sir David King, Mr Blair's influential Chief Scientific Adviser, has argued that the world should seek to stabilise atmospheric carbon dioxide at 550 parts per million (ppm) by 2050, which he says is an achievable target that would limit the worst impacts of global warming. This goal, however, has been criticised as insufficient by green groups, who point to research suggesting that a maximum level of 400-450 ppm would be needed to confine climate change to 2C (3.6F) of warming.

Mr Blair has accepted that the US will not sign up to a "son of Kyoto" agreement that involves concrete reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, and fears that a failure to agree a new climate pact would be a disaster for the planet.

Peter Ainsworth, the Shadow Environment Secretary, described the new initiative as appalling. He said: "He's taking his cue from George W. Bush. One has a sense of towels being thrown in all over the place."

Michael Roberts, of the CBI, said: "Tony Blair is right to say that technology is important to tackling climate change - but firm international commitments to cut carbon emissions will also help to drive technological change."

American objections to Kyoto stem from concern about the security of its energy supplies, and the damage that binding carbon emissions cuts might cause to its economy. It has said it will not sign up when two of the world's largest polluters - China and India - are not part of the process.

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat environment spokesman, said: "It's very regrettable that the Prime Minister is cooling on targets. Technology is not a substitute for having a clear framework."



Visitors to the Statue of Liberty may not know it, but the monument's elevator now runs on a new, biodegradable hydraulic fluid made from soy oil. Until recently, Lady Liberty's elevator used mineral oil formulations derived from petroleum-based stocks. But the National Park Service (NPS), which manages both Liberty and Ellis Island, has decided to "go green," using products made from renewable sources that are less polluting. In February 2002, NPS building and utilities foreman Jeff Marrazzo contacted ARS chemist Sevim Erhan about the feasibility of developing a biobased fluid for use in the statue's elevator.

Erhan, at ARS's National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), Peoria, Illinois, recalls Marrazzo's specifications for such a product: It had to readily break down in the environment in case of a leak; it had to come from a renewable resource; the process for making the biofluid had to be economical and nonpolluting; and it had to meet all industry standards for safety and performance, such as for viscosity, stability, and flame resistance.

It so happened that Erhan's group at NCAUR's Food and Industrial Oil Research Unit already had the expertise and equipment in place for attempting such a technological feat.

Erhan's first order of business was to examine the chemical structure that gives mineral-oil-based hydraulic fluids their functional properties, such as transferring energy in moving parts. Along with Atanu Adhvaryu, a Pennsylvania State University postdoctorate scientist working at NCAUR, Erhan then formulated a new elevator hydraulic fluid using soy oil and tested it extensively to see that it had the necessary properties.

Though other vegetable oils will work, soy oil was chosen because of its low cost, chemical versatility, and availability as a renewable, home-grown resource, says Erhan. Second only to corn as America's most widely grown crop, soy is the nation's leading source of food-grade oil. Yet only 517 million pounds--3 percent of the total supply--are used for industrial purposes, according to the latest figures from Soy Stats.

Agri-Lube, Inc., a Defiance, Ohio, firm collaborating with Erhan's lab, scaled up production of the final biobased formula for testing--first by Otis Elevator using a 50-gallon sample, and then by Mazzarro at Liberty Island using 1,000 gallons.

In both tests, the biofluid worked as well as or better than the mineral-oil-based formulations, especially in terms of lubricity and biodegradability. "We noticed the bioformula also had a higher flashpoint than the mineral-oil-based fluids," says Agri-Lube owner Jack Stover, who is negotiating licensing rights to commercialize ARS patents on the hydraulic fluid and two vegetable-oil-based printing inks. Erhan hopes innovations like these will spawn new market outlets for soy and other oilseed crops while easing the reliance on petroleum and its burden on the environment.


The Environmentalists Are Trying to Frighten the Natives

(Post lifted from economist George Reisman)

In a manner reminiscent of witch doctors urging primitive people to sacrifice their sheep and goats in order to mollify the wrath of the gods, today's environmentalists and their shills in the media and academe repeatedly urge the people of the United States and the rest of the modern world to sacrifice their use of energy and their standard of living in order to avoid the wrath of the Earth and its atmosphere. That wrath will allegedly take one form or another: a new ice age (recall the predictions of Paul Ehrlich) or, if not a new ice age, then global warming and a resulting rise in sea levels. And if global warming and a rise in sea levels of 1 to 3 feet over the next 100 to 150 years is not sufficiently frightening, then a rise in sea levels of 13 to 20 feet over centuries lying still further in the future is projected. Both of these sea-level results are supposed to proceed from a projected rise in average global temperature of 4 degrees, and of average temperature in the Arctic specifically of 5 to 8 degrees. (See Melting Ice Threatens Sea-Level Rise" and "Climate Data Hint at Irreversible Rise in Seas" in today's [March 25, 2006] New York Times.)

None of these predictions is based on any kind of scientific experiment. Nor could they be. A scientific experiment would require a laboratory somewhere that contained two identical planets, Earth 1 and Earth 2. There would be just one difference between them. The human population of Earth 1 achieves an Industrial Revolution and rises to the level of energy use and standard of living of our own present-day Earth and its likely level of energy use within the next century. In contrast, the human population of Earth 2 fails to advance beyond the energy use of the Dark Ages or pre-industrial modern times. And then the scientists in the laboratory observe that the average temperature of Earth 1 comes to exceed the average temperature of Earth 2 by 4 degrees, and that of its Arctic region by 5 to 8 degrees, and that its sea level proceeds to rise by the number of feet described, while the sea level of Earth 2 remains unchanged.

Obviously, this is not how such temperature and sea-level projections are arrived at. They are reached on the basis of combining various bits and pieces of actual scientific knowledge with various arbitrary assumptions, which combinations are then fed into computers and come out as the results of "computer models." Different assumptions produce different results. The choice of which bits and pieces of scientific knowledge to include also produces different results. The process is very similar to an individual with a spreadsheet combining various financial formulas with various assumptions about rates of return, periods of time, tax rates, and so forth, and then coming out with projections of his retirement income.

Imagine being a member of a jury, charged with deciding the guilt or innocence of a defendant on the basis of such computer models. Would it then be even remotely possible to render a verdict that met the standard of "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

Yet this is the caliber of the evidence on the basis of which the environmentalist prosecutors/persecutors of Industrial Civilization want us to convict it and condemn it to death. Yes, the death of the Industrial Revolution and Industrial Civilization. That is what is meant by such statements as, "`we will have to commit soon to a major effort to stop most emissions of carbon to the atmosphere,'" i.e., to stop the consumption of most or all oil, coal, and natural gas, and thus throw the world back to the pre-Industrial ages. (This particular statement was made by Dr. Jonathan T. Overpeck of the University of Arizona, one of the "scientists" referred to in The Times' articles. Its meaning is supported by major segments of the environmental movement with little or no opposition from the rest of the movement.)

Industrial Civilization is not a disembodied concept. It is the foundation of the material well-being and of the very lives of the great majority of the 6 billion or more people now living. It's destruction would mean the collapse of the production of food and medicine and literally result in worldwide famines and plagues. This is a result that would be of great satisfaction to those environmentalists who believe that the pre-Industrial World's population limit of about a billion people was somehow more desirable than the subsequent growth in population to its present size. But it would not be of any comfort or joy to those who had to suffer and die in the process and who saw their loved ones suffer and die. Nor would it be of any comfort or joy to the survivors, who would have to live lives of abject poverty and misery.

There are juries that bring in verdicts in defiance of all reason. The question is, is the jury of contemporary public opinion in the developed world in general and in the United States in particular so simple minded and irrational as to bring in a totally unjustified death-penalty verdict not only against modern Industrial Civilization, but against most of the human race at the very same time?


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

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

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


29 March, 2006


(Comment by Iain Murray)

There's a definite whiff of a co-ordinated scare campaign over global warming at the moment. There have been some questionable doomsday papers in the major science journals Science and Nature, complete with policy recommendations in the body of the science, front page articles in the Washington Post, cover stories from Time magazine, and a major new advertising campaign from Environmental Defense and, shame on them, the Ad Council. All these attacks seem dedicated to scaring Congress into some sort of action to force Americans to cut back on their economy-sustaining use of energy.

First of all, there is nothing new in the science to justify such alarmism. Pat Michaels has the lowdown on that here.

As for the reality of cutting greenhouse emissions, the sort of things that are being talked about on the Hill would do virtually nothing to reduce warming, even accepting the alarmist projections (note, not predictions - the science is too uncertain to allow that), as my colleague Marlo Lewis has pointed out. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom is about to publish its much delayed review of climate change policy tomorrow. It seems it will recognize that the sort of policies that green groups want adopted just aren't feasible, although it will spin away the fact the the UK is unlikely to meet its Kyoto targets any more. The UK Environment Secretary has even been quoted as saying that tackling global warming is "more complicated" than they thought as recently as 2000.

We could have told her that. If you fall for exaggeration, hype and alarmism, you're probably going to get yourself into trouble.


Next week's government review of climate change programmes will not impose the kind of targets on industry to cut greenhouse gas emissions that green groups are calling for, the Environment Secretary indicated yesterday. But Margaret Beckett insisted the government would not drop its overall target of cutting the UK emissions by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2010, despite recent figures showing carbon dioxide levels have actually increased since Labour came to power.

Friends of the Earth describes the Climate Change Programme Review which Mrs Beckett will publish tomorrow as the "acid test" of the government's credibility on global warming. It has urged the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to adopt a series of solutions to cut global warming gases from transport and industry and get Britain back on track to meet its commitments.

Since Mr Blair came to power in 1997, the UK's emissions of CO2 have risen by 1.9 per cent, leaving the country just 5.6 per cent below 1990 levels. Experts suggest that Britain will struggle even to meet its Kyoto Protocol commitment of a 12.5 per cent cut by 2010, let alone its more ambitious self-imposed targets. Environmentalists claim that a row with the Department of Trade and Industry has stopped Mrs Beckett from imposing a three million tonne ceiling on annual CO2 emissions by industry. Alan Johnson's DTI has reportedly argued for a nine million tonne cap, to avoid harming competitiveness.

Mrs Beckett said: "We are not abandoning our 20 per cent. "We do believe that that is something we can achieve. "We are not necessarily going to give the kind of specific targets for each sector that some people might want to see at this moment." Mrs Beckett said she hoped the review would get across the message that tackling climate change was a matter not just for government, but for individuals, communities and businesses. The review would "certainly move us very much in the right direction", but was "very much not the last word" on climate change, she said. Mrs Beckett denied that a delay of about a year in the publication of the review was due to rows with the DTI. "We did postpone publishing the review because we hoped we could draw all the strands together, but it hasn't been possible to quite do that," she said.

The Scotsman, 27 March 2006


The amount of sunshine reaching earth is increasing but that only explains PART of global warming, of course

A series of independent studies around the world show a significant rise in the amount of sunshine penetrating the atmosphere to be absorbed by the earth's surface and turned into heat. The research will concern climate researchers who are already predicting a rapid rise in global temperatures due to man-made emissions of so-called greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. "The enhanced warming we have seen since the 1990s along with phenomena such as the widespread melting of glaciers could well be due to this increased intensity of sunlight compounding the effect of greenhouse gases," said Professor Martin Wild of the Institute of Atmospheric and Climate Science in Zurich, Switzerland.

Researchers will present their findings to the European Geophysical Union conference in Vienna next week. They reverse a 30-year trend. Measurements of sunshine levels between 1960 and 1990 had shown a decrease in the amount of sunshine reaching the earth, a phenomenon known as global dimming. This was thought to have been caused by dust, smog and other pollutants, mainly from industrialised western countries.The pollutants, known as aerosols, reduced sunshine levels by absorbing and scattering solar radiation and promoting the formation of clouds that reflected radiation back into space.

In the last two decades, however, there have been significant decreases in such pollutants, partly due to industry becoming cleaner but largely because of the collapse of the Soviet Union and much of its heavy industry. Wild said: "Sunshine levels had been decreasing by 2% a decade between 1960 and 1980 - a total decline of about 6%. Now they are going up again. Perhaps this is why our Swiss glaciers are melting."

A 6% increase in the amount of solar radiation reaching earth would have a powerful impact on climate, especially when added to the warming effect of greenhouse gases which have already raised global temperatures by about 0.6C. Researchers predict an additional rise of at least 1.5C by 2050. Such rises could be disastrous for agriculture [Why? Rather the reverse], wildlife and human settlements in many regions, especially the tropics. But scientists warn they may have to revise these calculations sharply upwards if the impact of "global brightening" has to be factored in.

Atsumu Ohmura, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, has collated measurements from 400 sites worldwide and found an increase in sunshine at 300 of them, sited mainly in Eurasia and the Polar regions. Some showed a decline in sunshine since 1990, largely in fast-developing countries such as China and India. "A widespread brightening has been observed since the 1980s. This may substantially affect surface climate, the water cycle, glaciers and ecosystems," said Ohmura.

The Sunday Times, 26 March 2006


(By Dennis T. Avery, a senior fellow for Hudson Institute in Washington, DC and the Director for Global Food Issues ( He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State)

Humans now control Earth's climate, James Hansen of NASA told CBS' "60 Minutes" last week. His evidence: the edges of the Greenland ice sheet are melting rapidly. Hansen says the speed of this melting proves that man-made greenhouse gases are responsible.

Sorry, Dr. Hansen, but the melting edges of the Greenland ice sheet don't prove your point. Melting around the edges is exactly what the Vikings saw on Greenland 1000 years ago when they named the island-for its green coastal meadows. They moved in with their cattle, and thrived for 300 years, during what we now call the Medieval Warming. The Vikings' mistake was thinking that Greenland would stay warm, that the Earth's climate was stable. Greenland was then warmer than today, and the summers were longer. There was ample grass and hay for the Vikings' dairy cows. The Norse settlement grew to 3000 people.

Then Greenland's climate suddenly got colder. The Little Ice Age had begun. Sea ice moved south, and the Vikings' sailing ships could no longer get through to trade wood for seal furs. Shorter summers produced less hay to feed the Viking cows through longer, colder winters. The last written record found in the abandoned Viking colonies was dated 1408.

Our panic-prone scientists seem to have forgotten their own ice cores, drilled deep into the Greenland ice sheet in the 1980s. These ice cores document a natural, sudden-but-moderate 1500-year global warming cycle. Oxygen isotopes in the ice layers show 300 worldwide warmings over the past 500,000 years. The ice cores tell us that variations in the sun are constantly warming and cooling our planet. The big Ice Ages come about every 100,000 years. The warm interglacial periods like our own last about 10,000 to 12,000 years.

Through it all, however, runs the moderate, natural 1500-year climate cycle that raises temperatures about 2 degrees C above the mean for 750 years or so-and then abruptly drops the temperatures 2 degrees C below the mean (at the latitude of northern Europe).

Man's climate impacts are puny compared to the million-degree heat of the sun. There's no evidence that human-emitted CO2 has added much to the current temperatures. Our moderate warming to date-0.8 degree C-virtually all occurred before 1940, and thus before much industrial development.

If you want to talk about sudden, ice cores from the Freemont Glacier in Wyoming show it went from Little Ice Age cold to Modern Warming warm in the ten years between 1845 and 1855. Naturally.

Greenland today has 20,000 people, 50,000 sheep and a sizeable fishing industry. But the climate cycle will turn in a few more centuries. Then Greenland's sheep will be in serious trouble and its fishermen will need icebreakers to reach the fishing grounds. (There were no fish bones in the Norse colonies' trash heaps).

As for melting ice from Greenland flooding London, remember that it didn't happen during the Medieval Warming, so it's unlikely to happen in the Modern Warming. The melting of 100 cubic kilometers of Greenland ice would raise sea levels by only 0.01 inch. Dr. Hansen should know that recent satellite research shows Greenland's interior ice sheet has thickened 2 inches in the past 11 years, because warmer temperatures are evaporating more seawater to make more snow.

The Vikings can be forgiven for missing the 1500-year climate cycle. They didn't have thermometers, written records or the ice core histories. NASA's Dr. Hansen cannot be let off the hook so easily., 26 March, 2006


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

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

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


28 March, 2006


The Greenies won't like this:

A healthy form of bacon, ham and even pork scratchings could soon be available after the cloning of pigs genetically modified to produce beneficial fats. The piglets have been enhanced with a gene from a nematode worm to give their meat up to five times the normal level of omega 3 fatty acids. A diet rich in these fats, usually found in fish and vegetable oils, has been linked to improved brain function and a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, suggesting that the pigs' meat could be sold as a healthier option.

The pigs - three of which were named Salmon, Tuna and Trout after fish high in omega 3 fats - are the first cloned livestock that can make the beneficial compounds. The success, by a research team in the US, paves the way for a new era of animal breeding, in which animals are genetically engineered to make their meat healthier.

While GM and cloned meat is not approved for human consumption in the US or Britain, scientists are working on chicken, beef and fish with enhanced omega 3 fat content. Jing Kang, of Harvard University, said: "I think we will be eating transgenic animals in the near future. Livestock with a healthy ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids may be a promising way to rebalance the diet without relying on diminishing fish supplies or supplements."

Meat is generally low in omega 3 fatty acids and high in omega 6 fatty acids, which do not have the same healthy properties. Fish such as salmon and tuna are omega 3 rich, but some scientists are concerned about people eating a lot of such fish because they contain toxic heavy metals such as mercury, and because of the pressure on collapsing fish stocks.

While the beneficial effects of omega 3 fats were challenged in a study published last week, the Food Standards Agency recommends that people eat at least a portion of oily fish and a portion of white fish every week.

The new research, which will be published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, suggests that GM pork could be another option. "While fish is one of the best food sources of omega 3 fatty acids, we have been warned to limit consumption because of high mercury levels," said Yifan Dai of the University of Pittsburgh, the study's lead author. "These animals could represent an alternative source." ...

As well as their potential for producing healthier meat, the GM animals have value as laboratory models for investigating the effects of omega 3 fatty acids on heart function. "Pigs and human beings have a similar physiology," Professor Prather said. "We could use these animals as a model to see what happens to heart health if we increase the omega 3 levels in the body. It could allow us to see how that helps the heart. "If these animals are put into the food chain, there could be other benefits. First, the pigs could have better cardiovascular function and therefore live longer, which would limit livestock loss for farmers. Second, they could be healthier for human consumption."

More here


Because attention-seeking behaviour never stops

Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense, has teamed with the Ad Council, which has challenged social norms with public service campaigns like "Friends don't let friends drive drunk" and Nancy Reagan's "Just say no." In a series of TV and radio spots that one publicist termed "edgy" - and that a global warming skeptic called "the ultimate triumph of propaganda over science" - the group is hoping to spawn a massive shift in social awareness that will send millions rushing to turn down their thermostats, inflate their car tires and recycle their plastic. All in an effort to reduce carbon emissions, which many scientists say contributes to global warming.

The first ads in what will be a multi-year campaign are going out to TV and radio stations nationwide Thursday. As is the norm with public service ads, stations will run them at no cost, when they choose. Krupp got the idea about a year ago. Struck by what he called a "cascade" of scientific evidence, he said he realized global warming is "the overwhelming environmental issue of our generation ... Our children's future is at stake." He called Peggy Conlon, president of the Ad Council, who was intrigued. A global warming ad campaign would be a first, she said. The council, which conducts public service ad campaigns with the help of volunteer agencies, stays away from politics. But it's big on mobilization - for seat belts, for father involvement, for youth volunteerism, against crime.

Environmental Defense had already worked with the Ad Council in the 1980s. Remember "If you're not recycling, you're throwing it all away"? Back then television and radio stations donated about $300 million worth of ad time, Krupp said. Recycling increased. Another of the ads, all done by Ogilvy New York, shows a fragile plant growing near train tracks, then a speeding locomotive. A man appears. "Global warming," he intones over the "chugga-chugga of the train. "Some say irreversible consequences are 30 years away. Thirty years? That won't affect me." He walks off. But behind him - right in the path of the train! - is a little girl, blonde curls framing her puzzled frown. The ads steer viewers and listeners to, which also debuts Thursday and includes tips on how Americans can stick to a "low-carbon diet."

James Taylor, an editor with the Heartland Institute, a public policy organization that is skeptical of global warming, said the campaign is partisan and out of line with the Ad Council's stated mission. "To the extent that the Ad Council says individuals should take advantage of opportunities to be energy-efficient in a general sense, that is quite admirable," he said. "But any implication that the scientific debate over global warming is settled ... is simply wrong." He said the campaign "amounts to nothing more than an end-run around a skeptical Congress, a skeptical president and a sharply divided scientific community." The Ad Council's Smokey the Bear "gave us advice on preventing forest fires," Taylor said. "He did not jump into the debate on national forest policy."

President Bush has declined to take action on greenhouse gas emissions, saying the case is unproven. Many scientists have found indisputable evidence that the planet is warming. The Arctic polar cap is melting, and sea levels are rising. But there's debate over what's causing it and whether it's a short-term blip or a persistent trend. Either way, is a viewing public fixated on March Madness and sitcoms really ready to confront the end of the planet as we know it and do something about it? "They're up against a huge amount of clutter," says Los Angeles marketing consultant Larry Londre.

Besides, if people haven't turned down their thermostats by now, what's going to make them start? The public has heard most of this stuff for years - to spare not only the planet, but also their wallets.....

The ads remind Tom Hollihan, associate dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Southern California, of the 1964 presidential campaign ad that featured a little girl plucking petals off a daisy. An unseen man spoke about the threat of nuclear holocaust if Barry Goldwater were elected. "They're borrowing from the same playbook," Hollihan said. "The notion of a ticking clock, irreversible harm. It's a time-tested, persuasive strategy."

More here


When the link between "mad cow" disease and vCJD was established a decade ago, Britain looked to have a mass outbreak on its hands. Projections suggested that the condition might kill up to 500,000 people for whom nothing, barring a great medical breakthrough, could be done.

As time has gone on, it has become clear that this worst-case scenario is not going to happen. To date, 154 people have died of vCJD, and six are ill. The number of deaths reported annually has fallen steadily since a peak of 28 in 2000, with five last year and one so far in 2006. Last year the most definitive epidemiological research, by Paul Clarke and Azra Ghazi of Imperial College, London, predicted that no more than 70 more people were likely to die. Another 3,000 are probably infected, but will die of other causes before showing symptoms of the brain-wasting disease.

The Lancet study fits squarely within this picture, but adds a new twist. The mouse experiments appear to confirm that, for most people, the incubation time for vCJD is so long that they are unlikely to develop the condition even if they are infected with the rogue prion proteins that cause it. The research, however, also shows that people with all three of the genetic variations that affect susceptibility to vCJD can be infected, even though only one seems vulnerable to the clinical disease. The implication is that the disorder is almost certain to cause a few new infections every year.

More here


Facing a worsening crunch in the supply of electricity, soaring prices, and rolling blackouts, top New England utility officials are thinking about some once-unthinkable solutions: more coal and nuclear power.

Officially, no proposals for new nuclear reactors or coal-fueled power plants are in the works. But in an interview with the Globe, Gordon van Welie, chief executive of Independent System Operator New England, which runs the six-state power grid, broached the idea of coal and nuclear plants -- along with better conservation and wind power -- as steps the region, overly reliant on natural gas, must consider to stave off a power crisis.

''We don't want coal. We don't want nuclear power. We don't want windmills off the coast of Massachusetts. We don't want windmills in Vermont," van Welie said. ''We don't want any of that stuff, but then once you've made that decision, acknowledge what the costs are. You can't have it both ways."

To many environmentalists, coal and nuclear remain nonstarters. But as ISO New England girds for the possibility of having to impose Third World-style rolling blackouts as soon as the summer of 2008 to stretch out insufficient electric supplies, van Welie said, regional officials must "start tackling the resource mix issue." That refers to New England's much heavier reliance on gas and oil and less on coal and nuclear power than other regions, for producing electricity.

About $6 billion worth of new electric plants began operating in New England between 2000 and 2004 -- almost all built to run on natural gas. Had this winter been colder, ISO New England foresaw rolling blackouts, because demand for gas for heat and electricity could have outstripped supply.

Van Welie is not specifically urging the construction of coal- or nuclear-powered plants, nor does he have any authority to build or approve them. But he is the region's top official responsible for keeping the lights on, and he has thought in detail about where and how coal and nuclear plants could be built.

"There are several sites where you could go" for nuclear generation, van Welie said, including the Seabrook, N.H., nuclear site -- in the 1970s, there was a plan for a second reactor there -- and two decommissioned plants, Millstone I in Waterford, Conn., and Maine Yankee in Wiscasset, where new reactors could be built.

"If we're going to go down the path of coal in New England, you'd want to keep it near the water" for barge delivery of coal, van Welie said, to avoid "all the problems you're having in the Midwest," where congested railroads struggle to deliver Wyoming and Appalachian coal to power plants. New coal plants here would have to use "gasification," warming the solid fuel to yield clean-burning methane gas, he added.

Van Welie doesn't underestimate the hostility that burning coal or generating nuclear power would provoke. ''You know there's going to be a lot of opposition for anything that's big and ugly. We can't even get wind power built in New England," he said, referring particularly to the controversy-mired 130-tower Cape Wind proposal in Nantucket Sound.

Alan Nogee, clean energy program director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Cambridge environmental group that has criticized unsafe nuclear industry practices, said he understands van Welie's job ''is to say everything's on the table."

But, Nogee said: ''Coal and nuclear face enormous challenges trying to expand in this region. I would be really surprised to see any serious nuclear proposals anywhere in the Northeast."

''Building a new nuke up at Seabrook is not a good idea," said Seth Kaplan senior attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation, a Boston environmental group. ''What is a legitimate conversation is to say: If we aren't going to do things like that, what are we going to do?"

Good options, Kaplan said, include better ''demand response" efforts to encourage power conservation on hot days and super-efficient ''distributed generation" of electricity on site by businesses, industries, and institutions.

Kaplan said van Welie's group is ''honestly trying to be agnostic" about how to do it, but his comments reflect the fact that ''the ISO is a bunch of engineers who are paid to keep the lights on."

Boston Globe, 23 March 2006


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

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

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


27 March, 2006


By the end of this month, 100 percent of the electricity that powers the Old Lady in the Harbor and Ellis Island, where millions of Americans first set foot in America, will be "green power." Windmills in West Virginia and Pennsylvania will supply the electricity [Let's hope the wind keeps blowing!] that powers up the floodlights that shine on Miss Liberty's torch and the air conditioning that keeps all those immigration records from mildewing. "It's a powerful public-policy statement to fuel such an important symbol in that way," says Jim Coyne, a renewable energy expert at FTI Consulting in Cambridge, Mass.

In some ways, shifting away from the heavy use of oil and natural gas is part of the US government's energy strategy. President Bush said wind power could provide up to 20 percent of the nation's electricity. The General Services Administration (GSA), which runs US government facilities, has been switching over to green power for some time. In the Northeast and Caribbean (Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands) regions of the country, 33 percent of the electricity usage, or about 75 million kilowatt hours, are now renewable energy. These include buildings such as the Peter Rodino Office Building in Newark, N.J., and New York's 26 Federal Plaza, which houses the GSA and the FBI. Until the latest contract was signed, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island received half their electricity from green sources. The GSA also notes that going green is not costing taxpayers more money, because it buys electricity in bulk. "It's a wash," says Emily Baker, a spokeswoman for the GSA in New York. "Plus, there are so many other benefits such as the money farmers get from leasing their land for windmills."

Alternative sources of energy are still relatively small in the US energy picture, representing only 1 to 2 percent of US electricity use. But the industry is growing quickly: A record 2,400 megawatts were installed in 2005, enough to support the annual consumption of 650,000 homes. This year is expected to top last year, says Mr. Coyne.

The Statue of Liberty won't be directly hooked up to the windmills. [How did I know that? We wouldn't want the lights to go off and on all the time, would we?] The GSA is purchasing a renewable energy credit. The electricity the windmills produce is fed into the nation's electrical grid, offsetting the same amount the government uses. The process reduces the amount of electricity that needs to be produced by the conventional means of oil, gas, or coal. The statue and Ellis Island consume same amount of electricity used by 1,000 homes for a year, according to Pepco Energy Services, which is supplying the power to the statue. Although Ms. Lazarus had no idea the Statue would ultimately use clean energy, she wrote: "Give me ... your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Her words now take on new meaning.



The stupidity that happens when your farm lobby makes you use good ol' American corn as a feedstock instead of the vastly more practical sugarcane. Brazil uses ZERO fossil fuels in producing ethanol and already does so on a large scale. Something to learn there?

Late last year in Goldfield, Iowa, a refinery began pumping out a stream of ethanol, which supporters call the clean, renewable fuel of the future. There's just one twist: The plant is burning 300 tons of coal a day to turn corn into ethanol - the first US plant of its kind to use coal instead of cleaner natural gas.

An hour south of Goldfield, another coal-fired ethanol plant is under construction in Nevada, Iowa. At least three other such refineries are being built in Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota. The trend, which is expected to continue, has left even some ethanol boosters scratching their heads. Should coal become a standard for 30 to 40 ethanol plants under construction - and 150 others on the drawing boards - it would undermine the environmental reasoning for switching to ethanol in the first place, environmentalists say. "If the biofuels industry is going to depend on coal, and these conversion plants release their CO2 to the air, it could undo the global warming benefits of using ethanol," says David Hawkins, climate director for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington.

The reason for the shift is purely economic. Natural gas has long been the ethanol industry's fuel of choice. But with natural gas prices soaring, talk of coal power for new ethanol plants and retrofitting existing refineries for coal is growing, observers say. "It just made great economic sense to use coal," says Brad Davis, general manager of the Gold-Eagle Cooperative that manages the Corn LP plant, which is farmer and investor owned. "Clean coal" technology, he adds, helps the Goldfield refinery easily meet pollution limits - and coal power saves millions in fuel costs. Yet even the nearly clear vapor from the refinery contains as much as double the carbon emissions of a refinery using natural gas, climate experts say. So if coal-fired ethanol catches on, is it still the "clean, renewable fuel" the state's favorite son, Sen. Tom Harkin likes to call it?

Such questions arrive amid boom times for America's ethanol industry. With 97 ethanol refineries pumping out some 4 billion gallons of ethanol, the industry expects to double over the next six years by adding another 4.4 billion gallons of capacity per year. Tax breaks as well as concerns about energy security, the environment, and higher gasoline prices are all driving ethanol forward.

The Goldfield refinery, and the other four coal-fired ethanol plants under construction are called "dry mill" operations, because of the process they use. The industry has in the past used coal in a few much larger "wet mill" operations that produce ethanol and a raft of other products. But dry mills are the wave of the future, industry experts say. It's their shift to coal that's causing the concern. Scores of these new ethanol refineries are expected to be built across the Midwest and West by the end of the decade, and many could soon be burning coal in some form to turn corn into ethanol, industry analysts say. "It's very likely that coal will be the fuel of choice for most of these new ethanol plants," says Robert McIlvaine, president of a Northfield, Ill., information services company that has compiled a database of nearly 200 ethanol plants now under construction or in planning and development.

If all 190 plants on Mr. McIlvaine's list were built and used coal, motorists would not reduce America's greenhouse gas emissions, according to an in-depth analysis of the subject to date by scientists at University of California at Berkeley, published in Science magazine in January....

Coal may end up being merely a transitional fuel in the run-up to cellulosic ethanol, including switch grass and wood, says another RFA spokesman. While ethanol production today primarily uses only the corn kernel, cellulosic will use the whole plant. Cellulosic ethanol, mentioned by President Bush in his State of the Union speech, could turn the tide on coal, too, by burning plant dregs in the boiler with no need for coal at all. "It's a fact that ethanol is a renewable fuel today and it will stay that way," says Matt Hartwig, an RFA spokesman. "Any greenhouse-gas emissions that come out the tailpipe are recycled by the corn plant. I don't expect the limited number of coal-fired plants out there to change that."



(From World Climate Report, 21 March 2006 -- including several reasons why the "models" have got it wrong)

Just when you were starting to believe that variations in the amount of energy coming from the sun weren't responsible for much of the observed surface warming during the past 20 years, comes along a paper in Geophysical Research Letters from two researchers at Duke University, Nicola Scafetta and Bruce West, that concludes otherwise:

We estimate that the sun contributed as much as 45-50% of the 1900-2000 global warming, and 25-35% of the 1980-2000 global warming. These results, while confirming that anthropogenic-added climate forcing might have progressively played a dominant role in climate change during the last century, also suggest that the solar impact on climate change during the same period is significantly stronger than what some theoretical models have predicted.

Scafetta and West arrive at their conclusions after applying a mathematical scheme that allows the cycles in solar variations to explain the cycles in temperature variations. They find this empirical method far superior to theoretical (i.e. climate models) methods because empirical methods take advantage of real behavior while theoretical methods are just that-theories-which very likely do not capture all of the real-world intricacies relating solar energy to climate processes. The authors summarize:

The sun played a dominant role in climate change in the early past, as several empirical studies would suggest, and is still playing a significant, even if not a predominant role, during the last decades. The impact of solar variation on climate seems significantly stronger than predicted by some energy balance models.The significant discrepancy between empirical and theoretical model estimates might arise because the secular TSI [total solar irradiance] proxy reconstructions are disputed and/or because the empirical evidence deriving from the deconstruction of the surface temperature is deceptive for reasons unknown to us. Alternatively, the models might be inadequate because of the difficulty of modeling climate in general and a lack of knowledge of climate sensitivity to solar variations in particular.

In fact, theoretical models usually acknowledge as solar forcing only the direct TSI forcing while empirical estimates would include all direct and indirect climate effects induced by solar variation. These solar effects might be embedded in several climate forcings because, for example, a TSI increase might indirectly induce a change in the chemistry of the atmosphere by increasing and modulating its greenhouse gas (H2O, CO2, CH4, etc.) concentration because of the warmer ocean, reduce the earth albedo by melting the glaciers and change the cloud cover patterns.

In particular, the models might be inadequate: (a) in their parameterizations of climate feedbacks and atmosphere-ocean coupling; (b) in their neglect of indirect response by the stratosphere and of possible additional climate effects linked to solar magnetic field, UV radiation, solar flares and cosmic ray intensity modulations; (c) there might be other possible natural amplification mechanisms deriving from internal modes of climate variability which are not included in the models. All the above mechanisms would be automatically considered and indirectly included in the phenomenological approach presented herein.

The bigger the observed solar impact, the smaller the observed human impact. The smaller the human impact, the less sensitive the climate is to greenhouse gas emissions. The less sensitive the climate is to greenhouse gas emissions, the less the impact greenhouse changes (and greenhouse gas emissions restrictions) will have in the future.

Reference: Scafetta, N., and B. J. West, (2006). Phenomenological solar contribution to the 1900-2000 global surface warming. Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 33, L05708.

(The Doi (permanent) address for the full article referred to above is here)


As Britain faces a miserable summer of hosepipe bans and drought, households in some of Japan's most densely populated cities are to be "punished" for saving too much water. The national drive to cut down on water usage - galvanised by having the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on the environment signed on its doorstep - has been a catastrophic success. A drop in consumption of up to 10 per cent over the past five years has shocked even the water authorities and several plan to impose an emergency 20 per cent price rise next week to protect their revenues.

Unlike Britain, Japanese water boards are tacitly hoping that the conservation trend reaches a plateau soon. "The Government cannot, of course, tell people to use more water but there is rising concern over how far the average monthly water bill might fall," a senior member of the Government's committee on natural resources said. The concern is financial and, say experts, exposes the legacy of Japan's worst pork-barrel excesses. The water boards have spent the past two decades in an expensive orgy of dam construction and river management.

Even last year, amid calls from the Ministry of Finance to reduce the number of public works projects, there remained 200 dam projects on the go, sucking about 400 billion yen (2 billion pounds) from the public purse. Seven years ago the number was twice as high. The Government, via the water boards, has borrowed heavily to finance the spree and long-term payment plans to the dam builders were based on the stability of revenues.

Kazuhiko Arita, the leading Japanese expert on the water industry, believes that the country has undergone an overnight change of mindset and become less wasteful of water. "The use of tap water is decreasing everywhere. Now we have to pay for the fact that the country based its planning on the excessive demand forecast and kept building completely useless dams."

Sei Kato, of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, admitted that the burden of paying for all the dams and other engineering projects was catching up with the water boards, but insisted that the projects were all undertaken to ensure stable supplies. The local boards have also spent heavily on maintaining the system itself: total leakage in metropolitan Tokyo in 2004 amounted to about 4.8 per cent, and the authorities believe that this can be reduced to 4 per cent by the end of this year.

Unfortunately for the Government, the need to meet loan payments coincides with a surge of environmentally conscious product development by the country's biggest manufacturers of white goods. Sharp, Matsushita and Sanyo have all based recent marketing on water efficiency, and the buying public has been hooked.

Many houses filter the water as it leaves the kitchen tap - a process that usually wastes a lot of water because the filters empty themselves every two minutes. A new version made by Panasonic stores the water for ten minutes, and manages to save each household a tonne of water a year.

Most striking has been the steep rise in the use of dishwashers. Where ten years ago the machines were a relative rarity in Japan, they have now become commonplace. In the days of hand-washing the pots and pans, Japanese would tend to leave the taps running and got through about 150 litres a day on washing-up. The average dishwasher does the same job with about 10 litres. The dishwasher boom has also coincided with technological advances in the science of lavatories. The two biggest bathroom equipment makers have developed lavatories that use six litres of water per flush - half the amount used in 2001. Even more water is saved because 80 per cent of lavatories in homes have as standard a sink on top of the cistern, which allows the water that would be refilling the system anyway to be used for handwashing. An Inax spokesman explained that the eco6 lavatory will save a family of four about a bath full of water every two days - the equivalent of about 45,000 litres a year.



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

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

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


26 March, 2006


When tropical Cyclone Larry lashed the Queensland coast at the weekend it raised questions of whether it was a sign of a changing climate. Could it be the harbinger of a new drought-busting La Ni¤a weather cycle? Could it be a product of human-induced climate change? Or is it just too soon to tell?

Larry slammed into Australia's northeast coast on Sunday morning, local time. Initial reports said it was the most powerful cyclone to hit the continent in decades, moving at unusual speed and packing winds of up to 290 kilometres an hour. Dr Geoff Love, director of meteorology at the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says Larry was on a par with Cyclone Tracey, which devastated Darwin in 1974. The BOM categorises cyclones from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most severe. Love says Larry was probably "high category 4, probably not quite 5" and neither unusual nor unexpected. "Larry was no different from any other tropical cyclone," he says.

But Love says more cyclones hit tropical Queensland in La Nina conditions, a possible sign that Australia is headed for a change after emerging from El Nino three years ago. "With an El Nino, cyclones tend to form out closer to the dateline and probably occur before they reach Australian longitude, in La Ni¤a they form closer to the Australian coast," he says. Records going back to the 1880's show a clear La Nina-El Nino cycle, Love says.

The La Nina and El Nino effects are two extremes of an atmospheric and oceanic oscillation in the Pacific Ocean. They have a direct and significant impact on climate in some parts of the world, including Australia. El Nino occurs when the surface of the ocean warms and leads to drier conditions in Australia, which mean more droughts and fires. Cooling surface waters cause La Nina , which causes wetter conditions and more flooding. The two phases switch every few years. But they don't always neatly alternate, making it difficult to make predictions.

Love says there have been about 20 El Ninos and 20 La Nina s in the past 120 years. This amounts to about 20 six year cycles made up of roughly four neutral years and two years of El Nino or La Nina, or one year of each. Australia is currently in what Love calls a "neutral, weak, wishy-washy" period, although there are signs we're trending towards La Nina. "I think we have been sort of just on the borderline," he says. "The Americans have a lower threshold, they're calling it a weak La Nina. We're saying it's just short of being a La Nina."

The latest global tropical cyclone season, which is just coming to an end, has been described as one of the worst in recent times, making it tempting to view Cyclone Larry as a product of human-related climate change. Grant Beard, a climatologist with the BOM's National Climate Centre, says the recent increase in intense tropical cyclones may be linked to warming. "Looking at the globe ... it seems that the number of intense tropical cyclones has increased over the last 30 years," he says. "That's linked probably to the rising ocean temperatures and this is one sign of the enhanced greenhouse effect."

Dr Kevin Walsh is associate professor of meteorology at the University of Melbourne and previously worked on the effect of climate change on tropical cyclones at CSIRO. He says climate change is likely to have some impact on cyclones, although this is yet to be proved. "All the projections say sea temperatures are warming and there are well known theoretical relationships between the warmth of the ocean and tropical cyclones," he says. "But it's controversial whether those effects have yet been detected."

Love says only time will tell whether Larry is the product of climate change. "The jury's out," he says. "Any one event by itself doesn't prove or disprove anything."


A tiny rodent is the hottest political issue in Colorado

Here in Colorado, the hottest political issue of the day may not be the war in Iraq or the out-of-control federal budget, but rather the plight of a tiny mouse. Back in 1998, a frisky eight-inch rodent known as the Preble's meadow jumping mouse gained protective status under the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA). What has Coloradans hot under the collar is that some 31,000 acres of local government and privately owned land in the state and stretching into Wyoming--an area larger than the District of Columbia--was essentially quarantined from all development so as not to disrupt the mouse's natural habitat. Even the Fish and Wildlife Service concedes that the cost to these land owners could reach $183 million.

What we have here is arguably the most contentious dispute over the economic impact of the ESA since the famous early-'90s clash between the timber industry and the environmentalist lobby over the "endangered" listing of the spotted owl in the Northwest. That dispute eventually forced the closure of nearly 200 mills and the loss of thousands of jobs. Last week the war over the fate of the Preble's mouse escalated when a coalition of enraged homeowners, developers and farmers petitioned the Department of the Interior to have the mouse immediately delisted as "endangered" because of reliance on faulty data.

The property-rights coalition would seem to have a fairly persuasive case based on the latest research on the mouse. It turns out that not only is the mouse not endangered, but it isn't even a unique species.

The man who is almost singlehandedly responsible for exposing the truth about the Preble's mouse is Rob Roy Ramey, a biologist and lifelong conservationist, who used to serve as a curator at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Mr. Ramey's research--published last year in the peer-reviewed journal Animal Conservation--concluded that the Preble's mouse "is not a valid subspecies based on physical features and genetics." The scientist who conducted the original research classifying Preble's as unique now agrees with Mr. Ramey's assessment. Even scientists who defend extending the mouse's "endangered" status admit that it is 99.5% genetically similar to other strains of mice.

Nor is the mouse on the road to extinction. "The more people look for these mice, the more they find. Every time scientists do a new count, we find more of the Preble's mouse," Mr. Ramey says. It's now been found inhabiting twice as many distinct areas as once thought. These are mice, after all, and the one thing rodents are proficient at is breeding. The full species of the meadow jumping mouse, far from being rare, can be found over half the land area of North America.

"The federal government has effectively shut off tens of millions of dollars of economic development," complains coalition spokesman Kent Holsinger, "based on saving a species that we now know doesn't even exist." But green groups and Department of Interior bureaucrats, who regard the ESA as a sacred pact--the modern-day equivalent of Noah's Ark, as former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt called it--pledge to fight any change in status.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Ramey has been accused of being "dishonest," a "whore for industry" and a "shill for the Bush administration." Under intense political pressure from environmental activists, he was removed from his curator's job at the museum. "I've been nearly stampeded by a herd of agitated elephants in Africa and suspended from some of the highest cliffs in North America, but nothing prepared me for the viciousness of the attacks from the environmentalist lobby," he tells me.

Meanwhile, the Preble's mouse continues to impose huge costs on local communities. One water district in Colorado was recently required to build two tunnels for the mice under a man-made pond to spare the critters the inconvenience of having to scurry around it. Regulators even asked local officials if it would be feasible to grow grass in the tunnels for the mice, which was only slightly less absurd than padding the mouse thoroughfares with red carpet. The extra cost to the water project to make it mouse-friendly? More than $1 million. The Fish and Wildlife Service also has the authority to assess penalties on property owners if they even inadvertently spoil mouse habitat. Owners can even be fined if their cats do what cats do: chase and apprehend mice.

Because of preposterous regulations like there, many land owners resort to extreme measures. A comprehensive 2003 survey found that more than one in four land owners impacted by the Preble's mouse regulation "admitted to actively degrading habitat following the species listing in 1998." This is often precisely what happens in these situations: Because most of 1,500 or so species that have been listed as threatened since 1972 are anything but, people have no respect for the designation and attempt to force the species away from their land. For truly endangered species, the ESA is a disaster.

Many of these land owners have been so strong-armed by federal bureaucrats that they have come to believe--with good reason--that the original and widely supported intent of the ESA has been subverted into a back-door means to slam the brakes on economic development. "It's a cost-free way for the government and the greens to impose land-use control on property owners," says R.J. Smith, an ESA expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Therein lies the crux of the problem. The law tries to achieve the societal policy goal of saving species from extinction by imposing all of the costs on a hapless few. House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo has sensibly proposed reforms that allow land owners to get fair compensation from the government if their land is depressed in value due to a wetlands or endangered species designation. That seems equitable: If society wants to preserve habitat for the common good, then the cost should be borne by all taxpayers, not individual land owners, who would no longer regard endangered species as an economic plague on their property.

If anything good can come out of the Preble's mouse fiasco in Colorado, it will be that it has awakened Congress to the reality that the ESA isn't just failing property owners but the very irreplaceable species it was designed to protect.



Britain cannot ignore recent, international climate change agreements as it struggles to meet its domestic carbon emission targets, a government official told a Reuters conference on climate change and investment. Britain is set to announce this month whether it will meet by 2010 a target to reduce its emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide -- commonly blamed for global warming-- by 20 percent from 1990 levels. But since it set that target, the global Kyoto Protocol and the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) have created carbon markets that allow polluters to buy their way toward meeting their limits on emissions.

These markets make it more difficult for Britain to view its emissions targets in isolation, given that from next year UK companies will be able to buy permission to emit carbon from as far afield as China or India. "It is now obligatory for us to have our energy-intensive industries within the EU ETS," Henry Derwent, Head of the Climate Change Programme at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, told the conference late on Monday. "It would be politically pretty difficult for us to say that we repudiate the whole Kyoto mechanisms and the whole extension of the market to Europe in order to maintain absolute purity of a set of domestic targets. It's got broader, wider than that."

The government says Britain is currently heading toward only a 10 percent carbon reduction by 2010. To include within this domestic target emission reductions that industry had bought from outside the country could help it meet its goal but prove politically difficult to explain.

Failure to meet its 2010, self-imposed target would not represent any treaty violation but would be an embarrassment to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has put tackling climate change high on his agenda. Britain is on track to meet its separate, Kyoto Protocol carbon emission targets for 2008 to 2012.

Reuters, 21 March 2006


A remarkable scientific claim was made by Jim Hansen in a CBS News story. The article included the statement:

"Those human changes, he says, are driven by burning fossil fuels that pump out greenhouse gases like CO2, carbon dioxide. Hansen says his research shows that man has just 10 years to reduce greenhouse gases before global warming reaches what he calls a tipping point and becomes unstoppable. He says the White House is blocking that message."

My question is where is the modeling support, or other theoretical support, for the claim that "man has just 10 years to reduce greenhouse gases before global warming reaches what he calls a tipping point"? While I completely support Jim Hansen's right to make such a statement, as a climate scientist it is a requirement to provide the scientific peer reviewed reason for such a forecast. In addition, based on whatever scientific evidence Dr. Hansen has, what specific policy action would have to be taken within the next ten years to avoid the "tipping point"? What theoretical tool has he used to produce the policy recommendations?

While I agree with Dr. Hansen that the climate system does have "tipping points", the reality is, since our knowledge of the real world climate system variability and change remains limited, that we do not know if human activity moves us closer or further from them. It is prudent to persue "no regrets" policy (i.e. "win-win") regardless. However, if policymakers are to move beyond these policies, the scientific evidence must be based on solid peer reviewed research.

The quote by Ralph Cicerone in the same news article does not add substance to the discussion, unfortunately:

"`Climate change is really happening,' says Cicerone. Asked what is causing the changes, Cicerone says it's greenhouse gases: `Carbon dioxide and methane, and chlorofluorocarbons and a couple of others, which are all the increases in their concentrations in the air are due to human activities. It's that simple.'"

The 2005 NRC Report from the National Academy presents a more complex message. An excerpt from the Report states:

"Policies designed to manage air pollution and land use may be associated with unintended impacts on climate. Increasing evidence of health effects makes it likely that aerosols and ozone will be the targets of stricter regulations in the future. To date, control strategies have not considered the potential climatic implications of emissions reductions. Regulations targeting black carbon emissions or ozone precursors would have combined benefits for public health and climate. However, because some aerosols have a negative radiative forcing, reducing their concentrations could actually increase radiative warming. Policies associated with land management practices could also have inadvertent effects on climate. The continued conversion of landscapes by human activity, particularly in the humid tropics, has complex and possibly important consequences for regional and global climate change as a result of changes in the surface energy budget."

The climate system is clearly not as "simple" as expressed by Ralph Cicerone.

More here


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

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

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


25 March, 2006


And it was not even a clever fraud. That "Nature" was so keen to attack "Britannica" suggests that "Britannica" must still adhere to at least some traditions of scholarship. Given its recent degeneration into a propaganda sheet, "Nature" would hate that. The full reply from "Britannica" can be found here (PDF). There is a very weak reply by "Nature" here (PDF)

Nature magazine has some tough questions to answer after it let its Wikipedia fetish get the better of its responsibilities to reporting science. The Encyclopedia Britannica has published a devastating response to Nature's December comparison of Wikipedia and Britannica, and accuses the journal of misrepresenting its own evidence. Where the evidence didn't fit, says Britannica, Nature's news team just made it up. Britannica has called on the journal to repudiate the report, which was put together by its news team.

Independent experts were sent 50 unattributed articles from both Wikipedia and Britannica, and the journal claimed that Britannica turned up 123 "errors" to Wikipedia's 162. But Nature sent only misleading fragments of some Britannica articles to the reviewers, sent extracts of the children's version and Britannica's "book of the year" to others, and in one case, simply stitched together bits from different articles and inserted its own material, passing it off as a single Britannica entry.

"Almost everything about the journal's investigation, from the criteria for identifying inaccuracies to the discrepancy between the article text and its headline, was wrong and misleading," says Britannica. "Dozens of inaccuracies attributed to the Britannica were not inaccuracies at all, and a number of the articles Nature examined were not even in the Encyclopedia Britannica. The study was so poorly carried out and its findings so error-laden that it was completely without merit." In one case, for example. Nature's peer reviewer was sent only the 350 word introduction to a 6,000 word Britannica article on lipids - which was criticized for containing omissions.

A pattern also emerges which raises questions about the choice of the domain experts picked by Nature's journalists. Several got their facts wrong, and in many other cases, simply offered differences of opinion. "Dozens of the so-called inaccuracies they attributed to us were nothing of the kind; they were the result of reviewers expressing opinions that differed from ours about what should be included in an encyclopedia article. In these cases Britannica's coverage was actually sound." Nature only published a summary of the errors its experts found some time after the initial story, and has yet to disclose all the reviewer's notes.

So how could a respected science publication make such a grave series of errors?

When Nature published the news story in December, it followed weeks of bad publicity for Wikipedia, and was a gift for the project's beleaguered supporters. In October, a co-founder had agreed that several entries were "horrific crap". A former newspaper editor and Kennedy aide John Siegenthaler Snr then wrote an article explaining how libellous modifications had lain unchecked for months. By early December, Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales was becoming a regular feature on CNN cable news, explaining away the site's deficiencies.

"Nature's investigation suggests that Britannica's advantage may not be great," wrote news editor Jim Giles. Nature accompanied this favorable news report with a cheerful, spin-heavy editorial that owed more to an evangelical recruitment drive than it did a rational analysis of empirical evidence. It urged readers to "push forward the grand experiment that is Wikipedia."

(Former Britannica editor Robert McHenry dubbed Wikipedia the "Faith based encyclopedia", and the project certainly reflects the religious zeal of some of its keenest supporters. Regular Register readers will be familiar with the rhetoric. See "Wikipedia 'to make universities obsolete').

Hundreds of publications pounced on the Nature story, and echoed the spin that Wikipedia was as good as Britannica - downplaying or omitting to mention the quality gap. The press loves an upbeat story, and what can be more uplifting than the utopian idea that we're all experts - at whatever subject we choose? The journal didn't, however, disclose the evidence for these conclusions until some days later, when journalists had retired for their annual Christmas holiday break. And this evidence raised troubling questions, as Nicholas Carr noted last month. Many publications had assumed Nature's Wikipedia story was objectively reporting the work of scientists - Nature's staple - rather than a news report assembled by journalists pretending to be scientists.

And now we know it was anything but scientific. Carr noted that Nature's reviewers considered trivial errors and serious mistakes as roughly equal. So why did Nature risk its reputation in such a way?

Perhaps the clue lies not in the news report, but in the evangelism of the accompanying editorial. Nature's news and features editor Jim Giles, who was responsible for the Wikipedia story, has a fondness for "collective intelligence", one critical website suggets. "As long as enough scientists with relevant knowledge played the market, the price should reflect the latest developments in climate research," Giles concluded of one market experiment in 2002. The idea became notorious two years ago when DARPA, under retired Admiral Poindexter, invested in an online "terror casino" to predict world events such as assassinations. The public didn't quite share the sunny view of this utopian experiment, and Poindexter was invited to resign.

What do these seemingly disparate projects have in common? The idea that you can vote for the truth. We thought it pretty odd, back in December, to discover a popular science journal recommending readers support LESS accurate information. It's even stranger to find this institution apparently violating fundamental principles of empiricism. But these are strange times - and high summer for supporters of junk science.



The real (attention-seeking) agenda of the allegedly gagged climatologist who seemed extremely audible anyway

The scientist touted by CBS News' "60 Minutes" as arguably the "world's leading researcher on global warming" and spotlighted as a victim of the Bush administration's censorship on the issue, publicly endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president and received a $250,000 grant from the charitable foundation headed by Kerry's wife. Scientist James Hansen has also admitted that he contributed to two recent Democratic presidential campaigns. Furthermore, he acted as a consultant in February to former Vice President Al Gore's slide show presentations on "global warming," which Gore presented around the country.

But Scott Pelley, the "60 Minutes" reporter who profiled Hansen and detailed his accusations of censorship on the March 19, edition of the newsmagazine, made no mention of Hansen's links to Kerry and Gore and none to the fact that Kerry's wife -- Teresa Heinz Kerry -- had been one of Hansen's benefactors. Pelley's "Rewriting the Science" segment focused on Hansen's allegations that the Bush administration was preventing his views from becoming publicized because it did not like his conclusions. Hansen's complaints were first publicized in January. "In my more than three decades in the government, I've never witnessed such restrictions on the ability of scientists to communicate with the public," Hansen told Pelley.

But Hansen had made similar claims of another Republican White House allegedly censoring his views. In 1989, Hansen claimed that President Bush's father - then-President George H. W. Bush - was censoring his climate research. Kerry and about a dozen other senators eventually co-signed a letter written by Gore, who was also a senator at the time, demanding an explanation for the alleged censorship.

Hansen has previously acknowledged that he supported the "emphasis on extreme scenarios" regarding climate change models in order to drive the public's attention to the issue, but Pelley's "60 Minutes" report made no mention of that admission. "Not only are [Hansen's] apocalyptic predictions not coming true, but more and more countries are beginning to realize that they will destroy their economies just under Kyoto 1, to prevent about 0.1 degrees of warming," Paul Driessen, the author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death, told Cybercast News Service. "Hansen's rants might still garner headlines in the Washington Post and New York Times, and raves from CBS - especially if you believe every beetle infestation, forest fire, cold snap, hot flash, dry spell, flood, frog death and malaria outbreak is due to global warming - but they're complete hogwash," Driessen said.

In endorsing Kerry's presidential bid late in the 2004 campaign, Hansen conceded that it could harm his reputation. "Dr. Hansen, 63, acknowledged that he imperiled his credibility and perhaps his job by criticizing Mr. Bush's policies in the final days of a tight presidential campaign." according to the Oct. 26, 2004, edition of the New York Times. In a speech delivered on that same day, Hansen praised the Massachusetts senator, declaring that "John Kerry has a far better grasp than President Bush on the important issues that we face."

Three years earlier, Hansen had accepted the $250,000 Heinz Award granted by the foundation run by Kerry's wife Teresa. But the same day Hansen publicly endorsed Sen. John Kerry's presidential candidacy in 2004, the New York Times quoted Hansen as saying that the grant from the Heinz Foundation had had "no impact on my evaluation of the climate problem or on my political leanings."

But George C. Deutsch, who served as a spokesman for NASA until resigning in February, said he quickly learned that "Dr. Hansen and his supporters have a very partisan agenda and ties reaching to the top of the Democratic Party." Deutsch resigned his post earlier this year following a controversy surrounding a false resume claim that he graduated from Texas A&M University. Deutsch also denied that the Bush administration was clamping down on scientific views that did not support its preferred conclusions. "There is no pressure or mandate from the Bush administration or elsewhere, to alter or water down scientific data at NASA, period," Deutsch said, according to a Feb. 11, article in the Washington Post. Instead, he said, there existed a "culture war" at the federal agency. "Anyone perceived to be a Republican, a Bush supporter or a Christian is singled out and labeled a threat to their views. I encourage anyone interested in this story to consider the other side, to consider Dr. Hansen' s true motivations and to consider the dangerous implications of only hearing out one side of the global warming debate," Deutsch added.

Hansen fired back at Deutsch's assertions in an online statement published in February, calling Deutsch's claims "nonsense." "I can be accurately described as moderately conservative," Hansen wrote, while acknowledging that he had endorsed Kerry for president in 2004 "because he recognized global warming problem." Hansen stated that he had great respect for former Vice President Al Gore, noting that he met with Gore in January 2006 and ended up consulting Gore on his climate change slide show presentations. "I have great respect for Vice President Gore and his dedication to communicating the importance of global warming. He has a better understanding of the science of global warming than any politician I have met, and I urge citizens to pay attention to his presentation, which I understand will come out in the form of a movie," Hansen wrote. Hansen wrote that his only two political contributions were to Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and to either the 2000 Al Gore presidential run or the Kerry 2004 campaign. "I don't remember which," Hansen stated.

Hansen, described by Pelley in the "60 Minutes" report as an "independent," also reportedly refused to go along the Clinton administration on the issue of "global warming." The Clinton administration "wanted to hear that warming was worse than it was," Pelley reported.

In the March 2004 issue of Scientific American, Hansen appeared to be justifying the past use of climate models to scare the public into believing the "global warming" problem was urgent. "Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one time, when the public and decision-makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue," Hansen wrote in 2004. "Now, however, the need is for demonstrably objective climate-forcing scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions."

Patrick J. Michaels, the author of several books on climate change, including the recently published "Shattered Consensus: The True State of Global Warming," declared that Hansen has "advocated the use of exaggeration and propaganda as political tools in the debate over global warming." Michaels, who leveled his charges in a Feb. 21 commentary entitled "Hansen's Hot Hype," wrote that "Hansen thought the public should be subjected to nightmare scenarios regardless of the scientific likelihood of catastrophe, simply in order to gain people's attention." Michaels, who believes claims of catastrophic, human-caused "global warming" are scientifically unfounded, is a climatologist at the University of Virginia and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Michaels has previously credited Hansen with taking a more moderate stance toward climate change. "The irony is that, in recent years, Hansen's positions on global warming have come increasingly in line with those of the administration he claims is censoring him," Michaels said.

Several attempts to contact Hansen for comment were not returned. Telephone calls to Bill Owens and Catherine Herrick, the two CBS News employees who produced Pelley's "60 Minutes" segment, were referred to the network media affairs office. "60 Minutes" spokesman Kevin Tedesco defended the segment, telling Cybercast News Service that "it was a fair and accurate report."



The Big River tract in California's Mendocino County is a sprawling expanse of towering redwoods and Douglas firs, woods that for years have provided an ideal habitat for rare spotted owls and endangered coho salmon and steelhead trout. Now, it's all up for sale. Big River, neighboring Salmon Creek and dozens of other forests across the nation have come on the market in recent years as timber companies shed holdings that are worth more as real estate than as a source of lumber. The trend has spurred a land rush that has conservation groups scrambling to raise money to buy environmentally sensitive tracts in competition with private investors seeking to snap up the land for development.

A recent U.S. Forest Service study predicted that more than 44 million acres of private forest land, an area twice the size of Maine, will be sold over the next 25 years. The consulting firm U.S. Forest Capital estimates that half of all U.S. timberland has changed hands in the past decade. The Bush administration also wants to sell off forest land, by auctioning more than 300,000 acres of national forest to fund a rural school program. "The nation has never seen anything like this," said Conservation Fund President Lawrence A. Selzer, whose 20-year-old group is hoping to raise $48 million in the coming months to buy the 16,000 acres that make up Big River and Salmon Creek. "It has the potential to permanently and profoundly change the landscape of America."

The United States still has large swaths of forest -- much of it private -- that provide critical habitat for large animals such as bears and cougars as well as recreational opportunities for the public. But if the selling spree continues, environmentalists fear, these areas could be cut up into much smaller parcels in which condominiums and trailer parks would replace soaring trees. The sales have attracted limited national attention because they are mostly private transactions and involve local planning decisions, but the stakes are enormous. In the Pacific Northwest, New England, Southeast and parts of the upper Midwest, traditional timber companies or newly emerging timber investment management organizations, known as TIMOs, own vast stretches of forest that rival the national forest system.

Today, a third of the U.S. land mass is forest -- the same proportion as in 1907 but just 71 percent of what existed before settlement by Europeans -- and 57 percent of it is privately owned. But competition from cheap imported lumber, soaring land prices and pressure from Wall Street are now prompting timber companies to sell. Stephen Levesque, the Campbell Timberland Management area manager who oversees the company's forest holdings in Mendocino, said new state regulations have made lumber operations increasingly expensive and developers have come by with tempting offers. The company recently sold off 160 acres that are likely to become lots for residential homes. "There's tremendous pressure for development," Levesque said....

Environmental groups such as the Conservation Fund, the Nature Conservancy and the New England Forest Foundation have tried to limit the environmental impact of the sell-off by purchasing habitats that hold the greatest ecological value, but they cannot afford to buy all the vast expanses and halt this trend outright.

More here


The giant Bufo Marinus toad (introduced from from Brazil) is a great pest in Northern Australia -- killing a lot of wildlife by its poison

Territorians are being offered free beer in return for live cane toads. The RSPCA, Coopers Brewery and the Cavenagh Hotel have teamed up in the name of animal welfare and the result is that toads can be turned into beer. In a move designed to turn seasoned Top End beer drinkers into lean, mean, toad-catching machines, the three Darwin organisations have got together to set up a toad-for-beer exchange. Anyone over the age of 18 who captures a toad and delivers it alive to the Darwin RSPCA qualifies for a glass of icy cold Coopers beer at the Cavenagh Hotel. ``Everyone who takes a cane toad to the RSPCA to be disposed of humanely gets a voucher for a free pot of Coopers ale at the Cav,'' Coopers Brewery's NT sales executive Sean Gould said. He said there would be a beer for each toad -- up to a limit of six a day.

``It's an idea we had from the locally-produced movie Bufo Marinators that screened at the Cav last week,'' Mr Gould said. The film, which featured a posse of toad hunters and a simulated orgy of bufo killing, caused quite a fuss. ``We want to encourage the humane treatment of animals,'' acting chief executive of RSPCA Darwin Lindsay Wilkinson said yesterday. ``If you get a free Coopers out of it then it's a bonus.'' Cavenagh Hotel general manager Brett Simmonds said: ``It's all about the toads, not about the beer.'' But the toads must be alive. ``No coupons for squashed toads,'' Mr Wilkinson said. He was keen to make it clear he wasn't starting a roadkill collection. ``Healthy, live, no squashed cane toads,'' he said.

And Mr Simmonds agreed, saying the deal was ``fresh toads for fresh beer''. While the toad catchers are enjoying their cold ale, the RSPCA will be busy euthanasing the toads with sodium pentobarbitone, an overdose of barbituates administered with a few drops on the skin that kills toads immediately. ``It's the most humane way to kill an animal,'' Mr Wilkinson said. ``They just go to sleep.''

But beer fiends shouldn't get too worked up. Mr Simmonds said there would be a six-pot maximum per person per day. ``The idea is to get people catching toads and taking them for humane disposal, not to get people too drunk,'' Mr Simmonds said. ``If you take six toads in to the RSPCA, you get six vouchers. If you take 100 toads, you get six vouchers.'' But he's worried people will get the wrong idea and deliver a bucket load of toads to his pub hoping to trade them for a few cold ones. Mr Simmonds said no one would get a beer for taking a toad to the pub. He said the toads must be taken to the RSPCA at 80 Boulter Rd Berrimah between 1pm and 5pm on weekdays. Vouchers for the promotion will be valid until April 30.



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

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

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


24 March, 2006


In Monty Python's classic "Hungarian Phrasebook" sketch, a Hungarian tourist walks into a British tobacconist's shop, and, consulting a faulty phrasebook, tells the clerk, "I will not buy this record, it is scratched." The clerk, looking confused, responds, "Uh, no, no, no. This is a tobacconist's," and says "cigarettes" as he holds up a pack. "Ya! See-ga-rets! Ya!" responds the Hungarian customer. "My hovercraft is full of eels." What does this have to do with anything? Quite simply, the debate over corporate social responsibility (CSR) has come to resemble this exchange. The rhetorical battle has been joined, but the two sides just can't seem to agree on what they're fighting over. In fact, they keep talking past each other.

My organization has made the case against the CSR doctrine repeatedly (see here and here). We have sought to engage CSR's advocates. But, unfortunately, we often seem to be speaking different tongues. (A recent Reason magazine debate on CSR between Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey; Economics Nobel Laureate, Milton Friedman; and Cypress Semiconductor CEO, T.J. Rodgers brought no one closer to agreement.)

This confusion centers on the crucial question: What exactly constitutes a corporation's "social responsibility"? That question hovered around a recent conference on CSR, "Is Corporate Social Responsibility Serious Business," hosted by the American Enterprise Institute. Many of the presentations were insightful and informative, others less so; the discussions were lively; but in the end, there was no more agreement on that question.

Defining Responsibility

Professor Elaine Sternberg of Tulane University made a solid case against CSR. She argued that, by giving a hazily defined class of "stakeholders" a say over corporate decisions, "CSR would deprive owners of their property rights." She noted that, "Business ethics is about conducting business ethically," [emphasis added] not about pursuing goals extraneous to the company's mission. And, because business ethics derives from the very nature of business, owner value is enhanced over the long term by ethical business behavior.

Prof. David Vogel of the University of California, Berkeley, countered that "responsible" firms - as so defined by CSR advocates - do not perform any worse than do firms that ignore the CSR paradigm. The overall impact of "responsibility" on profitability is marginal, he argued, because the resources that corporations can devote to such activity are modest, due to the requirements imposed by the need to improve shareholder value.

Arguing over the effects of CSR on company performance hardly seems like a clash of worldviews. But it's when we get to the question of whether companies should adopt CSR that the disagreement chasm widens. For what should corporations be responsible? Even accepting corporate responsibility for certain problems, which problems are legitimate to begin with?

Vogel and some subsequent panelists emphasized the need for corporate America to tackle the alleged problem of climate change, a position that presupposes certain conclusions that are far from settled. He said that, while useful in helping tackle some social problems, "There are some cases in which CSR is simply a band aid." In such cases, government regulation becomes necessary "to change the incentives of business."

Another way to describe this strategy is for government to intentionally distort the market. And for what? The Kyoto Protocol, one such attempt to "change incentives" to address climate change, is unraveling as you read this, along with many of the scientific assumptions behind it. To argue that businesses must tackle climate change as an impending problem is specious to the point of being, well, irresponsible.

Professor Mark Cohen of Vanderbilt University said that, as globalization has increased pressures against regulation, voluntary social initiatives, in the form of CSR, have taken the place of some social welfare regulation. He also noted that CSR can bring benefits to corporations. It can enhance name recognition and can be an effective way to raise competitors' costs. Major players can leverage suppliers to raise costs for products by labeling them "socially responsible." Cohen provides McDonald's buying only certified fish as an example.

Sternberg responded by noting that neither Vogel nor Cohen defined corporate responsibility. The cases they cite, she argues, constitute an "external bolt-on" to the business, while responsibility is inherent to business in that it is reflected in "how you conduct your business every day, every time." She is right, but most CSR advocates reject this view as morally insufficient, since they view improving mankind as part of business' responsibility.

So if we can't define what constitutes "responsibility," how is this debate supposed to get anywhere? Rather than considering whether CSR is good for business or what societal problems, if any, businesses should tackle, the question that ought to be debated is: What constitutes a corporation's social responsibility?

Elaine Sternberg offered a good starting point. Some subsequent panelists who agreed with her put forth views consistent with hers. But many who did not simply talked past the problem of defining "responsibility," and put forth policy recommendations based on assumption businesses must address certain problems. Worse, the most often cited such "problem" was climate change, which, as noted, may not be a problem at all.

Good for Business?

One example of a company serious about climate change that was brought up was Enron, which strongly supported the Kyoto Protocol, and, as Sternberg noted, had "one of the most stringent" CSR codes. Vogel acknowledged that Enron was "embarrassing" to the CSR community, since the company "did have a very impressive record of social involvement" - which didn't do its employees and investors any good - though he noted, "I don't think Enron fleeced its shareholders because it was responsible, but CSR did not help, either."

Enron's pro-Kyoto Protocol position would likely be supported by most pro-CSR advocates - ignoring the fact that for Enron, Kyoto presented a golden opportunity for rent-seeking. A global mandatory carbon emissions cap-and-trade regime would have created a huge new - artificial market - in carbon permits for Enron to take advantage of. As Cohen also noted, large companies can use CSR to leverage suppliers to raise costs for competitors. So in this regard, it's good for certain businesses.

Of course, CSR advocates put forth a less cynical pitch to CEOs interested in their bottom line. Aron Cramer of the pro-CSR group Business for Social Responsibility, argued that corporations need a "social license to operate" within a community, and that CSR can help them obtain it. And how to do this? By listening to advocacy from so-called non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Cramer acknowledges that many activist NGOs are hostile to the market, and that "it doesn't make sense for companies to engage" with such groups, but says that the majority of NGOs aren't hostile to the market and that their positions are worth companies' time to take seriously.

What Should Companies Do?

But again, this all skirts the question: Should businesses be doing any of this? NGOs are not shareholders; if their goals are consistent with shareholders' interests, why do they need to ask companies to listen to them in the first place? Professor Sternberg's definition offers a good foundation for answering this question. Clive Crook of The Atlantic Monthly, whose article in The Economist, "The Good Corporation," sparked considerable debate on CSR, adds another important consideration: "Profit seeking serves the social purpose." To that I would add the corollary: By doing anything to reduce their bottom line, companies make the world poorer - and there's nothing responsible in that.


Urban Planning - we need to stop it

By Bob Smith

For weeks now, I've been attacking urban planning, the disease that has, for decades, infected our city governments. Urban planning is destroying the character of our cities and selling them to the highest bidders and/or those with the most political clout. Ironically, many of the urban planning crowd bemoan that people are fleeing to the suburbs, which are expanding into former farmland. The simple truth is that the boredom and expense of urban planning is what people are fleeing from, and no increase in planning will bring them back.

City urban planning would not exist in a libertarian society, because cities would not have the authority to interfere in private property issues. They would not have the ability to take property and give it to developers who present a grand plan for redevelopment. If a developer could convince enough people to sell their property, gradually accumulating enough space for a large development, then it would happen, but the developer would profit or lose his own money, not that of the taxpayers, and the previous owners would have voluntarily sold out at a fair price. You think there would be no more large developments? Hogwash. DisneyWorld, a mammoth development, was created under those conditions... no eminent domain... no pressure to sell. I'm sure there are local examples as well. Such a developer may have to pay a high price to get a large section of adjacent properties already being profitably used, but that assures that all existing property owners will get a fair return on their own investment.

Urban planners disparage the untidiness of UNplanned areas. They do not understand the diverse needs of people, and mistakenly believe that they can design areas that will be better than we can choose for ourselves. I've admitted that there is a little urban planner within me... I have that urge to remake everything around me to match what I believe is best. I've learned to control that urge, and to appreciate the different choices that others make. Some of my learning has been from neccessity. On a small fixed income now, I can appreciate the need for low-cost housing (not subsidized housing) as never before. Still, I have many neighbors who can afford even less than me. For them, there is NO good alternative anywhere in the cities... nothing cheaper than what I have. They can form a group of a large number of people to share an apartment or small house. Doing that is often illegal, and not very comfortable. They can try to get into subsidized housing, but their pride will take a hit even if they succeed, and it often takes years.

In a libertarian society, we would have very few building codes. Yes, that sounds shocking now, but most of America was built without them. Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home, could never have been built under today's building codes. Jefferson designed it himself, and parts of it are creativily strange. He hated to sleep, so the spiraling stairs to upstairs bedrooms are almost impassably cramped and steep.

Planners believe that, without building codes, houses would be built with little concern for safety. There is a grain of truth in that concern. Some low-cost housing would probably be built with a little less concern for safety (by current standards), but poor people have always been willing to risk a bit more in order to have shelter. Currently, they don't have that choice, at least in urban areas.

Any architect, and a great many amateurs, could design and build safe, attractive, livable homes at far lower cost than is now available, if only zoning and building codes were eliminated. Many have tried, only to be thwarted by governments. There are many building methods that simply are not allowed in our cities, where our poorest citizens must live. Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes were adapted decades ago into a form that could be built by an amateur, at very low cost. Blown concrete over inflatable domes is another inexpensive building method, as is pressed straw/mud construction, underground structures, and many others. See any of them around your city? No, if you want one, you have to go out in the country where zoning and building codes don't exist... where you have the freedom to build truly inexpensive and energy-efficient housing.

It isn't just low-cost housing that is harmed by zoning and building codes. Those controls cramp creativity at all levels. Every new method, or material, or building technique has to go through a battle with the controls already in place. To those who feel bound to defend the controls, there is no such thing as a better way, there is only the accepted, dictated way.

What you would see in a libertarian society is a much more diverse surrounding. I know you would see more creative, unusual homes, but perhaps not radically different-looking. Most people have traditional taste, and would probably remain that way by choice. In that libertarian society, you would see a serious proliferation of commercial businesses, many very small start-up businesses, because they would be much easier and less expensive to start without much regulation. The failure rate of small businesses would decrease, because each business wouldn't be saddled with such high taxes and regulation. With lower costs, each would require less in sales to sustain themselves, so we would have many more of them, with much more variety... and lower prices.

A large percentage of our population has a dream of leaving their boring job and opening some kind of business. Many do so, but it becomes harder every year, as government controls drive up the minimum expense and increase the amount of time, and expertise, needed to comply with regulations. The people who MOST fervently want to open their own business are those whose background and education doesn't qualify them for career opportunities as an employee. They dream of having their own business... understanding and willing to put in the extreme effort needed, and to risk failure... just for the opportunity to be successful. Our overbearing governments are killing that dream for all but the most determined. The obstacles for them to overcome are so great that there is a special section within the U of Chicago law school that teaches law students how to assist in small (especially minority) business startups. That special school was founded by the libertarian Institute for Justice. Someone wishing to start a small business on their own NEEDS a specially-trained attorney just to wade through the morass of regulation and paperwork.

In a libertarian society, opening a small business would be as easy as it seems like it should be. You would just do it. Opening a small business need not be any concern of the city, county, or state. Why should it be? The business affects only their customers, if they can attract them and keep them. A business cannot remain in business unless its products or services are in demand, reasonably priced, and unless they do business fairly. If a business fails, it affects nobody but them. If a business succeeds, it certainly won't be because of government involvement. It is the way America was built... millions of small businesses, most of them run by immigrants.

We were once an amazing nation, filled with entrepreneurial spirit and a can-do attitude that literally screamed WATCH MY SMOKE. I don't think that attitude is dead, but it has been severely stifled with governmental roadblocks put in place through the pressure of big business, labor unions, and elected officials who are either corrupt or who believe they have the right to rebuild the world in their own image.

To the urban planners, both those in universities and those who sit on city planning commissions, I issue the often-declared demand of libertarians to government... JUST GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY. We are not helpless children in need of parental government protection, nor are we irresponsible kids who require tight controls. Citizens formed governmental units to serve them and perform a few functions. We've allowed it to degrade into us being the servants to government. It is time for us to start putting government back into the role of servant to us.


(From here)

The airing of doubts about global warming that I solicited last week has been remarkable: 169 blog comments (albeit with some repeats) and a number of private emails (including one from a college suitemate and engineering classmate I haven't seen in 18 years). I started the whole discussion because I felt communication on an important scientific issue had broken down, and I figure the best way to make sure we've reconnected the wires is to try and summarize what everyone has been saying. That way, you can correct me if I've misunderstood, misclassified, or just plain missed something. Later, I can take a stab at analyzing the comments and answering some of the requests for further reading, and I hope the discussion will continue from there.

The two most common arguments were:

I've organized the comments into categories. Obviously there is some overlap among them.

  1. Warming may not actually be occurring. Most respondents seemed to agree that the global average temperature is rising, but some did not. Their doubts hinged mostly on the reliability of temperature and CO2 reconstructions.

    1. This past winter was so cold. Where's the warming?
    2. The hockey-stick graph, which suggests the present warming trend is historically anomalous, is flawed. One respondent said it "has been proven false by many papers." Others worried that, at least, it downplays the natural variability in climate.
    3. The ice core data, one of the ways used to reconstruct past climate conditions, are dubious. They may not represent the global paleoclimate because they sample only a few locations; they appear to contradict the paleobotanic (leaf stomata) data; and they cannot be meaningfully compared with modern surface temperature readings, because they are distinct data sets.
    4. Ground temperature readings are subject to systematic errors such as the urban heat island effect. One respondent went further and complained that the Climatic Research Unit raw temperature data are "kept under wraps," so outside observers cannot verify that selection effects were properly accounted for.
    5. Ground temperature readings contradict satellite measurements.
    6. Reports of changes in polar climate are anecdotal and could be localized effects.

  2. The present warming could be a natural uptick. Respondents pointed out that climate conditions fluctuate because of volcanism, the obliquity cycle, changes in solar output, and internal (chaotic) variability. Why, they asked, do climate scientists attribute all pre-industrial fluctuations to such natural causes and all industrial-age ones to anthropogenic ones? One respondent put it this way: "Every time I read that we have had 'the hottest summer in 100 years' I wonder what caused that hot summer 100 years ago."

    1. It could be a rebound from the Little Ice Age or indeed the last Pleistocene glaciation.
    2. It correlates "nearly perfectly" with solar output.
    3. It could be explained by variations in cloud cover, which alter how much sunlight the planet absorbs. The cloud cover could, in turn, be explained by variations in cosmic ray flux, modulated by solar magnetic cycles.
    4. It could be explained by decreases in Earth's magnetic field strength.
    5. It could be explained by natural methane sources, ranging from termites to the recently discovered aerobic processes in plants.
    6. It could be partly anthropogenic, but the natural variability is larger. A number of respondents argued that it is hubris to suggest that humanity could have such a large effect on the planet. "Many people seem to have a very exaggerated view of how significant we---and our activities---are," one wrote.

  3. CO2 emissions cannot explain the warming. This is complementary to the previous item on natural causes, but I broke it out because respondents offered such a variety of hypotheses for why CO2 cannot cause warming.

    1. Negative feedbacks stabilize the climate system against the direct effect of added CO2. One respondent wrote: "The Earth's ecosystem is far too robust to be affected by this minor change [in CO2 levels over the past century]."
    2. If CO2 drove climate, changes in gas levels should be followed by changes in temperature. Yet paleoclimate data show the opposite: temperature changes first, then the gas levels.
    3. In modern times, temperature and CO2 have been only weakly correlated. For instance, there have been long periods of declining temperatures even as CO2 levels have risen. Climate scientists attribute this to masking by aerosol cooling, but their explanation struck many respondents as ad hoc. Also, most human emissions came after 1950, yet the rise in temperature started earlier.
    4. High CO2 levels earlier in geologic history (for example, during the late Ordovician) did not correlate with high temperatures.
    5. CO2 is a pittance compared to water vapor. By one estimate, it can cause only 0.2% to 0.3% of the warming.
    6. The greenhouse effect has "saturated"---further CO2 input does not increase it.
    7. No one has done lab experiments to study CO2 absorption.
    8. If CO2 causes warming, then the warmed air should rise, reducing air pressure at the surface. That is not observed. The correspondent who raised this objection cited Marcel Leroux's "Mobile Polar Highs" theory.
    9. Although CO2 may be a factor, rising levels of this gas are due not to emissions but to reduced uptake by the oceans (perhaps caused by a diminished phytoplankton population).

  4. Climate models are unconvincing. In this category, I put the argument that, whatever the inherent plausibility of anthropogenic global warming, climate scientists have yet to present a solid case. The concerns here revolve around the inability of models to capture the complexity of the climate system.

    1. The correlation of CO2 levels with temperature is not causation.
    2. Weather forecasting is so unreliable. How could long-term climate forecasting be any better?
    3. The range of model predictions is wide, casting doubt on their reliability.
    4. Models can't even predict El Nino.
    5. Models can't even explain past data. One respondent wrote: "Claiming the models can predict climate is either wishful thinking, ignorance or deceit." Others were more circumspect. One of the few respondents to say what could change their minds wrote: "I'd like to see environmental data from the 1970s fed into today's climate models and the 'predictions' match what actually happened." Another asked whether models can explain climate over geologic time.
    6. Models are not proof. They can be used to prove anything. Being non-falsifiable, they are not really science.
    7. The burden of proof rests with those claiming anthropogenic warming. Because mitigating climate change would entail huge costs, and because past warming episodes have been natural, it is up to climate scientists to dispel all reasonable doubts---not to climate skeptics to prove them wrong.

  5. Warming is a good thing, so we shouldn't try to stop it. The arguments here varied from specific benefits of warming to general reassurances that Earth and its inhabitants have done just fine in earlier periods of warming.

    1. It will increase humidity in tropical deserts and improve the lot of high-latitude regions.
    2. Higher CO2 levels encourage plant growth, and that's good.
    3. Sea level will rise gradually enough that we can readily adapt. The example the respondent gave was beachfront property. Its value will gradually decline as sea levels gradually rise, encouraging a move farther inland over the usual cycle of property investment.
    4. Historically, humanity has done better during periods of warmer climate.
    5. For most of its history, Earth has been warmer than today. The idea is that global warming is nothing to fear because it merely takes us back to a more natural set of conditions. Animals and plants seemed to do just fine in those periods of warm climate. One respondent wrote: "Our present chilly climate is the aberration when judged on a geological time scale." Over geologic time, the global mean temperature is 22 degrees C, versus today's 15.5 degrees C.
    6. It staves off the next glaciation, which we're due for.
    7. Claims that global warming has worsened storm damage, or will do so, are overblown. If storm damage seems to have increased, it is simply because more people live in storm-prone regions and their plight is more widely publicized than before.
    8. Attempts to stop global warming would do more damage they than avert. Warming might be bad, but it is better than the alternative, be it Kyoto or some other mitigation strategy. The underlying assumption here is that the null strategy---letting the economy adopt non-carbon energy sources as commodity prices dictate, without any explicit reference to global warming---carries the least costs.

  6. Kyoto is useless, or worse. Many of the complaints were specific to the Kyoto Protocol, which sets up a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases.

    1. It would bankrupt us. One correspondent said Kyoto mandates "a practically unlimited expenditure of effort (and money, naturally)."
    2. Even it would not bankrupt us per se, it would divert resources from other, better-established priorities.
    3. It would reduce warming by a meager 0.02 degrees C.
    4. It exempts developing countries, whose emissions intensity and growth rates are much higher than those of developed countries.
    5. People may claim to support it, but their energy-wasting habits belie their true sentiments.

  7. People who argue that human activity causes global warming can't be trusted. Now we get to what seems to be the single biggest complaint: doubts as to the competence or motivation of scientists and others who accept anthropogenic climate change. Many respondents perceive scientists as jumping to conclusions, haughtily dismissing doubters, refusing to take the time to explain things, and adopting absolutist positions. One respondent wrote: "What data would convince me? I don't know if data is the problem as much as needing to perceive an objective voice." Cataloging these complaints has been hard, but here is my attempt.

    1. Climate scientists have lost their credibility by making bad calls.

      1. They used to predict an imminent ice age.
      2. They falsely attributed the ozone hole to CFCs. The respondent who raised this point wrote that the ozone hole was clearly not due to CFCs because it began to recede before CFCs were phased out.
      3. They uncritically accepted the hockey-stick graph, which was clearly "fraudulent" from the start.
      4. They are guilty of doomsaying, which has been so consistently wrong in the past.
      5. They were too quick to connect last year's hurricane season with global warming.

    2. Climate scientists behave unscientifically.

      1. They ignore contrary data and alternative explanations. Respondents complained that climate scientists are guilty of groupthink. For them to admit they might be wrong would hurt their reputation and funding chances, so they tend to cling to positions with a fervor that the data do not justify. The IPCC was said to seek out evidence that supports its preconceived conclusion. Similarly, people complained that scientific journals do not publish contrary data, presumably because of negative peer reviews by dogmatic climate scientists.
      2. They are arrogant. Researchers, wrote one respondent, "go ballistic if anyone voices doubt." Another said: "A person with doubts, or simply unanswered questions, is shut out of the debate. One can only ask questions when it is phrased with unwavering support for warming."
      3. They have let themselves get caught up in activists' agendas.
      4. They themselves have an activist agenda. Respondents were suspicious that global climate change fits a little too conveniently into a certain environmentalist narrative that holds that humans can do no good (least of all if those humans are Republicans). Moreover, respondents said that if taken at face value, global warming seems to demand Soviet-style government action, which is problematic in its own right and a sign that the hypothesis is ideologically motivated. Because the U.S. is often singled out for its policies, there is a whiff of anti-Americanism, too.
      5. They have a financial interest in global warming. Now we're starting to get into more serious accusations that scientists push global warming because it helps them curry favor with granting agencies. One person wrote: "There are no grants available to disprove global warming.... [Researchers] gather at government's teats for monetary nourishment, telling mommy whatever she wants to hear." Kyoto, too, has created vested interests and a strong incentive to "massage data."

    3. Activists and journalists have gone overboard.

      1. Experts do not, in fact, argue that humanity is the main cause of global warming.
      2. The media sensationalizes warming. It focuses on worst-case scenarios and presents tenative research as definitive.
      3. Scientific American lost its own credibility on the subject when it printed a one-sided critique of Lomborg's book. One respondent claimed that the magazine "threatened legal action to stifle debate" about Lomborg's book.

Wildlife "experts" thin out the pupfish: "Years ago, Southern Nevadans would visit the desert oasis of Devil's Hole to swim, camp, and picnic -- possibly mimicking the behaviors of prehistoric man in that forbidding section of the Mojave, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas in today's Death Valley National Monument. Animals visited the springs at night. In the cavern springs lived tiny pupfish, which managed to survive these 'assaults' for a very long time. Then wise government functionaries decided to step in and fence off the area, in order to 'protect' the minnow. You're ahead of us, aren't you? Disruption inadvertently caused by scientists trying to study the pupfish are among the factors cited for the fact the creatures -- which numbered 533 when the G-men went to work and which still counted in the hundreds only two years ago -- now number only 84 and appear to be nearing extinction."


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

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

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


23 March, 2006


Mexico's giant Cantarell oil field, in the Gulf of Mexico off the Yucatan, was supposedly discovered in 1976 after a fisherman named Cantarell reported an oil seep in the Campeche Bay. Last week, Mexico announced finding another giant oil field off Veracruz, the Noxal, estimated to hold more than 10 billion barrels of oil.

Exploration yielded surprising results. It turned out that Mexico's richest oil field complex was created 65 million years ago, when the huge Chicxulub meteor impacted the Earth at the end of the Mesozoic Era. Scientists now believe that the Chicxulub meteor impact was the catastrophe the killed the dinosaurs, as well as the cause for creating the Cantrell oil field.

The impact crater is massive, estimated to be 100 to 150 miles (160 to 240 kilometers) wide. The seismic shock of the meteor fractured the bedrock below the Gulf and set off a series of tsunami activity that caused a huge section of land to break off and fall back into the crater under water.

Proponents of the abiotic, deep-earth theory of the origin of oil point argue that the deep fracturing of the basement bedrock at Cantarell caused by the meteor's impact was responsible for allowing oil formed in the Earth's mantle to seep into the sedimentary rock that settled in the huge underwater crater. Geologists have documented that the bedrock underlying the crater shows "melt rock veinlets pointing to large megablock structures as well as a long thermal and fluid transport" as part of the post-impact history. In other words, the bedrock at Cantarell did suffer sufficiently severe fracturing to open the bedrock to flows of liquids and gases from the deep earth below.

An important, but neglected, study of the bedrock underlying the Saudi oil fields provided strong evidence that the oil fields resulted from fractures and faults in the basement rock, not from a disproportionately large number of dinosaurs having died for some reason or another uniquely on the Arabian Peninsula. The study published in 1992 by geologist H.S. Edgell argued that the Saudi oil fields, including the giant field at Ghawar, were "produced by extensional block faulting in the crystalline Precambrian basement along the predominantly N-S Arabian Trend which constitutes the 'old grain' of Arabia."

In other words, according to the abiotic, deep earth theory of oil's origin, we do not have to assume that all the dinosaurs herded like Elephants to Saudi Arabia at the end of the Mesozoic Era, where they died in a giant heap that produced oil. Bedrock cracks, whether or not due to meteor impacts, can serve to open the above sedimentary layers to trap oil deposits seeping upward.

Until the 1960s, geologists considered collisions of extraterrestrial objects with the Earth as interesting, but not necessarily important. Since Cantarell was discovered, geologists have come to realize that the intense shock waves generated in meteor impact events have significantly shaped Earth's surface, distributed its crust, and fractured its bedrock. Over 150 individual geological structures, many masked over by subsequent sedimentary deposits, have been identified as important, ranging from circular impact bowls measuring from only a few kilometers in diameter to as much as 200 kilometers (approximately 125 miles) in diameter. Moreover, Cantarell has stimulated interest in meteor impact structures as potential locations to explore in order to find oil producing sites.

In recent years, we have only begun exploring the Gulf of Mexico for oil. So far the results are impressive. Instead of imploring Congress to examine the oil producing potential of wood chips and switch grass, President Bush may be better advised to press ahead to extend oil exploration into the Gulf of Mexico to the limits current technology will permit.

Wouldn't the Bush administration and other "peak oil" advocates be surprised to find that a resource as close as the Gulf of Mexico might just rival the 260 billion barrels of oil reserves Saudi Arabia currently claims?

Human Events, 21 March 2006


A review of the findings from more than 100 peer-reviewed studies shows that although many aspects of the global water cycle have intensified, including precipitation and evaporation, this trend has not consistently resulted in an increase in the frequency or intensity of tropical storms or floods over the past century. The USGS findings, which have implications on the effect of global climate change, are published today in the Journal of Hydrology. "A key question in the global climate debate is if the climate warms in the future, will the water cycle intensify and what will be the nature of that intensification," said USGS scientist Thomas Huntington, who authored the study. "This is important because intensification of the water cycle could change water availability and increase the frequency of tropical storms, floods, and droughts, and increased water vapor in the atmosphere could amplify climate warming."

For the report, Huntington reviewed data presented in more than 100 scientific studies. Although data are not complete, and sometimes contradictory, the weight of evidence from past studies shows on a global scale that precipitation, runoff, atmospheric water vapor, soil moisture, evapotranspiration, growing season length, and wintertime mountain glacier mass are all increasing. The key point with the glaciers is that there is more snowfall resulting in more wintertime mass accumulation - another indication of intensification. "This intensification has been proposed and would logically seem to result in more flooding and more intense tropical storm seasons. But over the observational period, those effects are just not borne out by the data in a consistent way," said Huntington.

Huntington notes that the long term and global scale of this study could accommodate significant variability, for example, the last two Atlantic hurricane seasons. "We are talking about two possible overall responses to global climate warming: first an intensification of the water cycle being manifested by more moisture in the air, more precipitation, more runoff, more evapotranspiration, which we do see in this study; and second, the potential effects of the intensification that would include more flooding and more tropical storms which we don't see in this study," said Huntington.

Eurekalert, 15 March 2006

Gators and a Lot of Guff

Few experiences inspire awe like paddling a canoe through a Florida swamp filled with otters, turtles and tropical birds. Or spending the night on high ground surrounded by the subsonic thrumming of gators, harmonics dueling around you like a gigantic Aboriginal didgeridoo. As the resident of an island surrounded by Florida swampland, I understand the moral sentiment behind Michael Grunwald's "The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise." There is indeed such a thing as a swampy paradise. But I wouldn't go as far as Mr. Grunwald. His message, to quote one of his milder passages: "The Everglades is a test....If we pass it, we may get to keep the planet."

It is true that the disappearance of the Everglades, the wide, slow marsh river flowing seasonally from Lake Okeechobee (in the center of the state) south to Florida Bay, would be a great tragedy, but the "river of grass" isn't going to disappear, and it is decidedly not a test. It is too clearly sui generis to portend the fate of the planet. Nor can it exist in isolation from, you know, human beings.

For "pure" environmentalists, with whom Mr. Grunwald feels much sympathy, restoring the Everglades means re-establishing natural, rainy-season flooding from the Kissimmee River basin north of Lake Okeechobee to the southern end of the peninsula. Unfortunately, an Everglades that now stretches across four million acres and accommodates seven million people at its edges can never be "natural" in the sense that an unmanaged, self-sustaining ecosystem is natural. Nor should it be, at this point.

It is true that the original Everglades would be largely intact today if not for big, tax-subsidized drainage efforts. But those efforts began decades ago and cannot now be undone. And Florida would cease to exist if they were. Judged by wateriness alone, the state is closer to the Netherlands than Nebraska. Only a vast system of canals, pumphouses and banked-up rivers and lakes -- many begun under the New Deal and intensely elaborated in the early 1960s -- makes Florida habitable and farmable.

And makes cities possible. Without water management, there would be no Naples, Orlando, Miami and Fort Lauderdale -- no retirement and no spring break. The pure environmentalists are horrified by all this nonwatery activity. They haven't proposed a massive resident relocation yet, but it is implied by their Druidic vision of pristine nature. The population of the Orlando area has increased by millions since the early 1960s, when the nearby Kissimmee River was "channelized" to contain floods. Even more millions now live in the areas protected by the Okeechobee flood-control system to the south. Where are these people supposed to go if Florida is run by Gaia and not the state government's water authority?

Conservationists would prefer to "restore" the Everglades by first preserving what is still natural there -- by adjusting hundreds of small inefficiencies in damming and eco-management, even erecting new dikes for the sake of the Everglades themselves. Pure environmentalists, by contrast, want to expand the idea of restoration to "take back," at enormous cost, some of the most valuable real estate in the country.

A $9 billion Everglades restoration project, approved by Congress in 2000, has taken its cue from the pure environmentalists, dismantling various flood controls and de-channelizing various rivers. Mr. Grunwald doesn't like the project only because it does not go far enough. He would like statewide "sheet flow," letting water go where it will. That would include the front porch and cropland of many a contented Floridian.

A key problem for the restorers is that the environmental data they use to guide them come from 1960 and after. As it happens, the early 1960s ended a long (40-year) cycle of high-intensity, and frequent, hurricanes. The 40 years that followed -- true to pattern -- were less wet and windy. But we are now re-entering a peak-hurricane cycle, as Wilma declared last year and climatologists confirm. A lot of cheerful suggestions about dismantling flood controls are based on the wrong part of the sine curve.

Thus environmentalists are pushing to prevent the lowering of water levels in Lake Okeechobee in preparation for storms, because fresh-water releases from the second largest lake in America disrupt the ecosystem of the brackish Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. Similarly, they attack the use of herbicides needed to keep canals clear of the weeds that clog pumps. But such resistance courts disaster. Dan Canfield, an aquatic ecologist at the University of Florida, warns that a "perfect storm" or even a series of smaller hurricanes could do as much damage to Orlando or south Florida as Katrina did to New Orleans.

Rather than accepting a compromise between humans and habitat, Mr. Grunwald radicalizes the process with coal-mine-canary metaphors. He cites the efflorescence of red-tide algal blooms, which are "massacring" Florida's "dolphins, oysters and manatees" by poisoning them. Yes, the algae are poisonous, but there are simply no data to show that they are more populous now because of manmade "runoff." They were spotted by the Spanish in colonial America and remarked upon by the scientist-explorer Angelo Heilprin in 1886, before a few thousand residents could affect Florida's waters. They are part of the state's natural ecosystem.

Similarly, Mr. Grunwald worries over phosphorus levels in the water, but he doesn't need to. Phosphorus is mined in Florida. The soil is full of it. Nature is responsible for most of the mineral's presence, runoff less so. In any case, Mr. Grunwald uses a pollution standard that has long been discredited: a phosphorus-to-water ratio of 10 parts per billion. Even the Clinton administration cast the standard aside. (A bottle of Evian water has 200 parts per billion.) Important scientists, too -- e.g., Prof. Curtis Richardson of the Duke University Wetland Center -- reject the ratio as evidence of pollution.

The Everglades debate, including such exaggerations, is reminiscent of the one that distorted forest management a decade ago. The fervor of environmental purists -- almost religious in its intensity -- has the effect of discrediting practical policies and leading to foolish ones. We had unnecessarily destructive forest fires a few years ago, until sanity returned to policy. Perhaps destructive floods will do the same in Florida. At some point, people must be seen as part of the nature we are trying to preserve.



Chancellor Gordon Brown has a chance in Wednesday's budget to put his money where his mouth is after campaigning by the government has helped put global warming on the world's political agenda. But if past experience is anything to go by, he will duck the issue, according to environmentalists who accuse the government of letting pro-green taxation slide and failing to promote clean technologies like microgeneration. "Green taxes have fallen under Labour, despite promises to increase them when they came to power," said Tony Juniper, head of Friends of the Earth. "At the same time, UK carbon dioxide emissions have risen."

The pressure is on Brown as the Conservative Party has decided the environment is a vote-winner. The green lobby underscores its case that Labour has consistently missed opportunities by noting that increases in fuel excise taxes have been frozen since 1999. As fuel prices remain high and volatile -- the reasons always given for the freeze -- there is no anticipation that Brown will bite the bullet on Wednesday. "The high level of petrol prices probably rules out any increases in excise duties on fuels," said Deloittes adviser Roger Bootle.

But with the surge in popularity of gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles designed for off-road use but more frequently now found in rich urban locations, environmentalists want Brown to bring in big road tax differentials. Friends of the Earth want a zero road tax on the most fuel efficient cars and up to 500 pounds on the least efficient. But Greenpeace -- noting that vehicle carbon dioxide emissions range from the Toyota Prius's 104 grammes per kilometre to the Range Rover's 389 grammes -- goes even further, calling for a top road tax rate of 1,800 pounds. "By rewarding energy efficiency and increasing taxes on dangerous and polluting forms of transport, Brown can help to combat climate change and end fuel poverty," said Greenpeace director Stephen Tindale.

The government has already announced that biofuels should make up five percent of road fuels by 2010 and Brown is expected to put flesh on the bones of the plan on Wednesday -- and possibly even take it further. Biofuels can be made using crops from grains to sugar and oilseeds as well as recycled cooking oils, and are a rapidly growing but hitherto neglected backwater of the green pantheon.

Also on the green wish list is a revamp of the tax system to penalise waste and promote efficiency in the battle against global warming that is blamed in large part on the burning of fossil fuels. The Green Alliance, a lobby group that counts academics, environmentalists and businessmen among its members, said in a recent report that energy efficient households should win tax benefits, and that water meters should become standard. It also proposed that environmentally unfriendly products like disposable batteries and high energy lightbulbs should likewise be penalised.

With the government in the throes of a study of how to meet future energy demand, Friends of the Earth called for major tax breaks and other incentives for household installations of micro-generation systems like solar cells and mini wind turbines. The government has said it will come up with a policy on micro-generation in the near future, although it is unclear whether Brown will announcement the first steps on Wednesday.

Reuters, 20 March 2006


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

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

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


22 March, 2006


More pictures here

As I was born and bred in Innisfail, this story had more than the usual interest for me. I in fact remember well living through a similar cyclone in Innisfail when I was about 11.

By way of background it may be worth noting that all North Queensland houses have long been built to be cyclone resistant. Roofs are screwed down and the roof frame is bolted to the house. And the house is bolted to the stumps on which it is set and the stumps in turn are both deep-set in the ground and braced to withstand lateral force. So while many houses were damaged, most stayed intact enough to protect their occupants. The lack of deaths was certainly no accident.

I reproduce below comments from three different writers on the matter

Nobody killed in big Queensland blow

The devastation Hurricane Katrina caused in the United States probably helped save lives in Queensland's cyclone ravaged north, an expert said today. No-one was killed or suffered serious injuries despite the ferocious nature of category five Cyclone Larry, the most powerful cyclone to hit Australia in decades. However, Larry, which made landfall yesterday, destroyed homes, uprooted trees, downed powerlines, and ruined banana and cane crops in and around the town of Innisfail, which bore the brunt of its fury.

Professor Tom Hardy, a cyclone expert with the Australian Maritime College, said it was amazing that no-one was killed. He said the experience of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama last August and killed more than 1000 people, probably helped save north Queenslanders' lives. "I think that the big hurricanes in New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico this last year made people realise 'Oh my gosh, that can happen here'," Prof Hardy said today. "Whereas if this happened a year ago, I think there would have been a few people (asked to evacuate) who would've said 'No, I'm just going to stay here, I've lived here for 20 years and nothing's happened'.

"New Orleans got whacked but I think Innisfail maybe learned a little bit about that." Prof Hardy said a combination of better building standards and warning systems also probably contributed to a lack of casualties. He said most north Queenslanders would have been unaware of what to expect from Cyclone Larry after decades of relatively minor cyclones. "I think we did a damn good job of being prepared for it because no-one died, and the damage will be something that we can recover from," he said.


Technologically Advanced, Modern Economy, Survives Category 5 Cyclone without a Single Fatality

An interesting comparison below lifted from Jennifer Marohasy

A category 5 cyclone, more severe than Cyclone Tracy or Hurricane Katrina, lashes Far North Queensland and there is not a single fatality. It perhaps says something about Australia, modern economies and democracies and their potential capacity to adapt and to survive? Congratulations Far North Queensland! When we were less technologically advanced, that is on 10th March 1918 and a severe cyclone hit Innisfail, over 80 people died. Following is the note in the Bureau of Meterology records for that event:

"This cyclone is widely regarded as the worst cyclone to hit a populated area of Queensland. It crossed the coast and passed directly over Innisfail. Pen on Post Office barograph was prevented from registering below 948 hPa by flange on bottom of drum. 926 hPa read at the Mourilyan Sugar mill at 7 pm 10 Mar. The eye wall reached Innisfail at 9 pm. In Innisfail, then a town of 3,500 residents, only around 12 houses remained intact the rest being blown flat or unroofed. A report from the Harbours and Marine Engineer indicated that at Maria Creek the sea rose to a height of about 3m above high water (If this refers to HAT the water was 4.65m above the tide for that day). Around 4.40pm 10 Mar at Bingil Bay a tidal wave was seen surging in from the east into Bingil Bay taking the bridge over the creek 400 m inland. Mission Beach was covered by 3.6 m water for hundreds of metres inland, the debris reached a height of 7m in the trees. All buildings and structures were destroyed by the storm surge in the Bingil Bay Mission beach area. The surge was 2.6m at Flying Fish Point. Babinda also had many buildings destroyed and some reports suggest that not one building was left standing. There was widespread damage at Cairns and on the Atherton Tablelands. Recent reports suggest that 37 people died in Innisfail while 40 to 60 (mostly aborigines) lost their lives in nearby areas."

The lessons of cyclone Larry

Comment by Benny Peiser below noting that the North Queensland experience is great evidence of how technologically advanced societies can cope very well with even very dangerous natural changes and events:

Throughout human history, natural disasters such as cyclones and hurricanes have had devastating impacts on human life and societies. Until fairly recently, tens of thousands of people around the world were killed each year as a result of tropical mega-storms. Although it is technically impossible, for the time being, to completely neutralise the damage tropical storms bring with them, it is possible, as a result of effective disaster warning and preparedness to significantly reduce the potential risks to human life, infrastructure and the economy.

Disaster warning systems have become essential social mechanisms in the forecast, detection and mitigation of natural disasters. People exposed to natural hazards are increasingly relying on the effectiveness of warning systems. They are most effective for natural catastrophes that develop gradually and relatively slowly, such as floods or tropical cyclones. In 1991, for example, 600,000 people in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh were evacuated in advance of a tropical cyclone, thus minimising the number of fatalities to just over a thousand. 13 years earlier, in comparison, over 10,000 people were killed in a similar cyclone that transpired without any warning. The significant decline in storm-related deaths since 1950 has been attributed to improvements in tornado-warning systems.

The experience with Cyclone Larry only underlines this encouraging development. As Jennifer Marohasy points out above, Cyclone Larry, the strongest cyclone to have hit Australia in almost 100 years, has produced not a single fatality. Cyclone Larry demonstrates that technologically advanced, open societies which develop disaster early warning strategies and effective planning that provides resilience to such disasters can reduce the risks to human life to almost zero. The key lesson of Cyclone Larry is simple: Human adaptation, effective disaster planning, social resilience and proper insurance cover are beginning to transform tropical mega-storms from devastating human catastrophes into managable nuicances.


When the Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded the world held it’s breath. We were told that a major catastrophe had taken place. Greenpeace, 10 years after the 1986 disaster said that the accident is “blamed for the deaths of some 2,500 people, has affected millions and displaced hundreds of thousands, many of whom have still not been able to return to their homes.” Greenpeace called nuclear power “the most dangerous energy source yet devised by humankind”.

Since that claim was made another long eight years have passed. But now the United Nations has released a new report disputing these claims. First we learn that results of the accident were not nearly as deadly as was originally projected. Second, we find that while the accident was horrific the official response made things worse for large numbers of people. Chernobyl also has some lessons on the detrimental effects of welfare.

And we will see that even after hundreds of scientists produce an exhaustive report on the matter the environmental ideologues refuse to change their tune and instead denounce the scientists.

The myth-busting report Chernobyl’s Legacy was published by the Chernobyl Forum which is a collection of supranational organisations like the World Health Organisation, the UN Development Programme, the World Bank, the governments of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine and a host of other groups. It was formed in 2002 to study the effects of the disaster and the official response to it.

In 1986 when Reactor #4 exploded it was predicted that tens of thousands would die. The UN report notes that “Claims have been made that tens or even hundreds of thousands of persons have died as a result of the accident.” But, these “claims are exaggerated”.

This doesn’t mean no one died. But the numbers directly attributed to the accident are much lower than most would assume. In 1986, the year of the accident, 28 people died from exposure to radiation. All of them had been emergency workers at the reactor. From 1987 until 2004 another 19 died and “long term radiation-caused illness may have led to the deaths” of additional emergency workers.

The main problems found among the general population was with young children who drank milk that was produced by cows that ate contaminated grass. For them there was a clear increase in thyroid cancer. But this cancer is very treatable. The report noted: “For the 1152 thyroid cancer cases diagnosed among children in Belarus during 1986–2002 and treated, the survival rate was 98.8%.”

Except for these two groups the direct medical impact of Chernobyl was minimal. The UN report says: “Among the general population affected by the Chernobyl radioactive fallout, however, the radiation doses were quite low, and ARS (acute radiation syndrome) and associated fatalities did not occur.”

Chernobyl took place in 1986. The socialist system collapsed in 1989. In the years immediately following the collapse living standards dropped. The economy was a total disaster and health care had become almost non-existent. People all across the region saw life expectancy decline. And among this general increase in death rates and illnesses the results of Chernobyl have to be found. But Chernobyl’s effects were tiny in comparison to the larger picture. The 50 some deaths are firm numbers. But the projections of possible other deaths are estimates. The UN said: “the number of deaths over the past 20 years that may have been attributable to the accident are only estimates with a moderately large range of uncertainty. The reason for this uncertainty is that people who received additional doses of low-level radiation have been dying from the same causes as unaffected people. Moreover, in all the groups studied, of both emergency workers and resident populations, any increase in mortality as compared to control groups was statistically insignificant or very low. Estimates related to projected deaths in the future are even less certain, as they are subject to other major confounding factors. In reality, the actual number of deaths caused by the accident is unlikely ever to be known with precision.”

The New York Times reported, “for the millions who were subjected to low levels of radioactive particles spread by the wind, health effects have proved generally minimal.” They reported that there was no rise in leukaemia rates except for a small number of plant workers. Nor has any increase in birth defects been noticed nor decrease in fertility rates.

The reason for this is simple. Only people in the immediate vicinity of the accident were exposed to sufficient radiation to cause problems. Radiation is a natural phenomena and we are all exposed it through day to day living. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commissions puts it this way: “Radiation is all around us. It is naturally present in our environment and has been since the birth of this planet.”

People seem mostly unaware that radiation is a natural phenomenon and that we are all exposed to low levels of radiation every day. The average American is exposed to 300 millirems of radiation per year and over 80% of that is from natural sources. But residents of Denver receive a dose of about 1000 millirems just because of the altitude of the city. A person working in a nuclear power plant is exposed to about 300 additional millirems per year while regulations limited occupational exposure per year to 5000 millirems. But pilots, airline crew members and frequent flyers can be exposed to an additional 500 to 600 millirems. That’s quite a bit when you consider that living next door to a nuclear power plant only increases exposure by 1 millirem per year. But if even that worries you then remember that the human body produces about 40 millirems per year entirely on it’s own.

Levels of exposure as a result of the accident, for most, was lower than what many people experience naturally. Chernobyl’s Legacy stated, “that the average doses received by residents of the territories contaminated by Chernobyl fallout are generally lower than those received by people who live in well known areas of high natural background radiation in India, Iran, Brazil and China.” ....

Of course environmental activists and antinuclear ideologues also had reasons to exaggerate the consequences hence the predictions of hundreds of thousands of deaths as a result of the accident. Add to that the natural tendency of the media to prefer the sensational aspects of any story and it is no wonder that people around the world were in an induced panic about the accident. Individuals who lived in the general vicinity suddenly found themselves being relocated, often against their will. They lost their homes and were subjected to regular medical check ups which had to raise their anxiety levels. Many of these people simple came to assume that they had been exposed and were doomed.

Yet fear itself is detrimental to health. Dr. Fred Mettler who lead the UN team said: “People have developed a paralysing fatalism because they think they are at much higher risk than they are, so that leads to things like drugs and alcohol use, and unprotected sex and unemployment.”(16) The Chicago Sun-Times reported that “anxiety caused by fear of the radiation is causing serious mental health problems, and worries and ‘shows no signs of diminishing and may be even spreading,’ the International Atomic Energy Agency said...” And the Washington Post noted that the report said “that lifestyle disease, such as alcoholism, among affected residents posed a much greater threat than radiation exposure.” .....

So how has the UN report been taken? The media finds it a fascinating story because it has the element of sensationalism that sell papers or boost ratings. But the beneficiaries of Chernobyl and the ideological groups that use the accident for their own agendas are furious. They refuse to accept the report and instead denounce the UN for producing it.

Greenpeace, in particular, is most upset. William Peden from the group said that the projection of maybe 4,000 deaths in total from the disaster “is ridiculous” and “many thousands more may die in the decades to come.” Jan van de Putte, another Greenpeace activist says the UN was “denying the real implications” of Chernobyl and that is “insulting [to] the thousands of victims”. He also said it is dangerous because it may lead to “relocating people in contaminated areas”.

But one clear example of how ideologues bend science around politics was when Greenpeace “said that the 4000 deaths only relate to a studied population of 600,000 whereas radiation was spread over most of Europe and the reports omits the impact on millions of Europeans.” It omits it because there isn’t any. Most of the radiation fell within a few dozen miles of Chernobyl and the levels of radiation, to which the surrounding 600,000 people were exposed, was mostly within the range of normal exposure from natural sources. Beyond there, to the rest of Europe, exposure levels were below natural levels.

One antinuclear coalition is the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. They immediately attacked the report and repeated the Greenpeace argument. They argued that the 4000 projected deaths only take into account the 600,000 in the immediate vicinity and “given that tens of millions of people were exposed to Chernobyl radiation... [a study] among the entire affected population would be expected to find far greater casualties.” They report that there is “no safe exposure level to radiation.”

So Denver is dangerous. The US Capitol Building is dangerous. In fact every human body is dangerous. Those international flights to environmental confabs around the world typically expose the activists to more radiation than they would get living next door to a nuclear power plant for a year. But it’s nuclear power they are wanting to stop so that risk gets exaggerated and blown out of proportion. And it is this type of scare-mongering that is ruining the lives of so many deemed to be “victims of Chernobyl”.

More here

Senate will try again to open up drilling in Arctic wildlife refuge

The Senate plans to take up a measure again to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling, Senate Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M. said today. Less than three months after failing to attach similar language to a Defense Department spending bill, drilling supporters hope to use a budget bill to permit exploration in the nation's largest, untapped oil deposit.

Proponents are taking that tack because budget bills, under Senate rules, are not subject to a filibuster. That means the measure would need only a simple majority rather than 60 votes to get through the Senate. When drilling supporters tried a similar strategy last year, it was blocked by moderate House Republicans opposed to drilling in the northern Alaska refuge. Whether they can round up enough votes in an election year remains uncertain.

Meanwhile, Domenici's committee is expected today to approve a bill that would allow drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, despite continued opposition from Florida leaders.



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

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

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


21 March, 2006

Far-Left agenda hurts Greens in Tasmanian elections

The Greens were once very influential in Tasmania

The Greens thought themselves king-makers but instead suffered a king-hit likely to cost them at least one seat and official party status. The Greens, who had hoped to force their policy platform on a minority government, were yesterday rethinking policy and strategy instead. Kim Booth looked likely to lose in Bass, depriving the Greens of the four members needed for the extra parliamentary resources that go with official party status. Labor believes the Greens may yet lose a second of its four MPs, Tim Morris in rural Lyons, but this appears unlikely.

Greens leader Peg Putt blamed the drop in their vote -- from 22per cent in a poll four weeks ago to 16per cent on Saturday -- on the "grubbiest, most vicious" smear campaign in Tasmanian political history. "Despite coming into the poll looking like we could gain more seats, we just couldn't come back over the top of the negative fear and smear campaign that was run against us from so many quarters," she said. "Perhaps we need to take another look at the fact that negative campaigning has become the norm in Australian politics and that other parties are using that to drive where the electorate goes." She said the party would also take a look at its policy of refusing to guarantee support for budgets in a hung parliament and whether it had failed to focus sufficiently on core environmental issues. She accused both major parties, logging companies, big business and the evangelical Exclusive Brethren group of running smear advertisements against them.

Labor warned a minority government would deter investment and destroy the economy, with Premier Paul Lennon claiming house prices would fall if he failed to achieve majority government. A $100,000 advertising campaign funded by a mostly anonymous group of businessmen also pleaded for majority government. The Greens were also targeted by advertising paid for by forestry companies, while ads placed by the Liberals and Exclusive Brethren church members claimed Greens' policies would threaten the state's social fabric.



Stars, not greenhouse gases, are heating up the Earth. So says prominent University of Ottawa science professor Jan Veizer. He knows challenging the accepted climate-change theory may lead to a nasty fight. It's a politically and economically loaded topic. Yet, he is speaking out about his published research. "Look, maybe I'm wrong," he said. "But I'm saying, at least let's look at this and discuss it. "Every one of these things (parts of his theory) has its problems. But so does every other model" of how Earth's climate behaves.

Veizer says high-energy rays from distant parts of space are smashing into our atmosphere in ways that make our planet go through warm and cool cycles. Cosmic rays are hitting us all the time -- a well-known fact. What's new is that researchers are asking what cosmic rays do to our world and its weather.

- Last year, the British science journal Proceedings of the Royal Society published a theory that cosmic rays "unambiguously" form clouds and affect our climate.

- Florida Tech and the University of Florida are jointly investigating whether cosmic rays are the trigger that makes a charged thundercloud let rip with lightning.

- In 2003, scientists from NASA and the University of Kansas suggested that cosmic rays "influence cloud formation, can affect climate and harm live organisms directly via increase of radiation dose," an effect they claim to trace over millions of years of fossil history.

Veizer has published his theory in Geoscience Canada, the journal of the Geological Association of Canada. The article is called "Celestial Climate Driver: A Perspective from Four Billion Years of the Carbon Cycle". In his paper, he concludes: "Empirical observations on all time scales point to celestial phenomena as the principal driver of climate, with greenhouse gases acting only as potential amplifiers." The idea is that cosmic rays hit gas molecules in the atmosphere and form the nucleus of what becomes a water vapour droplet. These in turn form clouds, reflecting some of the sun's energy back to space and cooling the Earth.

Yet the numbers of cosmic rays vary. When there are more cosmic rays the Earth is colder. When there are fewer cosmic rays the Earth is warmer. "The question is, therefore, 'Where do we have lots of cosmic rays?' " Most rays come from younger stars, which are clustered at some regions in the galaxy through which our solar system has passed its 4.5-billion-year history. Our own sun deflects some of these rays away, but the sun's activity grows stronger and weaker. All of these factors can change the number of cosmic rays that hit us. The Earth's magnetic field also blocks some cosmic rays. Scientists can reconstruct records of that field for the past 200,000 years, and he argues there's an extremely close match between cold times in our climate and times when the magnetic field allowed more cosmic rays to hit us.

Even in recent times he argues that other cosmic factors can affect our climate as plausibly as carbon dioxide, or more so. The warming of Earth in the past 100 years -- about 0.6 degrees Celsius -- matches a time of the sun's growing intensity, he says.

Questioning the fundamentals of climate change -- the theory that man-made gases such as carbon dioxide are building up and warming our climate -- is a fast way to start a nasty, personal fight in the science world. But Veizer's credentials make it tough to challenge his findings.

The recently retired professor still holds a research chair and supervises grad students and postdoctoral fellows. A native of Bratislava, Veizer left because Russian troops entered Czechoslovakia in 1968. He's been building up honours ever since in the field of geochemistry -- learning about Earth's past by the chemistry preserved in rocks and sediments.

The Royal Society of Canada called him "one of the most creative, innovative and productive geoscientists of our times," and added: "He has generated entirely new concepts that have proven key in our understanding the geochemical history of Earth."

He won the 1992 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, worth $2.2 million Cdn, representing the German government's highest prize for research in any field. The prize ended up financing his research. The judges said he "has in front of his eyes the overall picture of the Earth during its entire 4.5 billion years of evolution," and he is "one of the most creative ... geologists of his time."

Yet, for years he held back on his climate doubts. "I was scared," he says.



(From Journal of Hydrology Vol. 319, No 1-4, pp. 83-95, March 15, 2006)

Evidence for intensification of the global water cycle: Review and synthesis.

By: Huntington, Thomas G.


One of the more important questions in hydrology is: if the climate warms in the future, will there be an intensification of the water cycle and, if so, the nature of that intensification? There is considerable interest in this question because an intensification of the water cycle may lead to changes in water-resource availability, an increase in the frequency and intensity of tropical storms, floods, and droughts, and an amplification of warming through the water mapor feedback. Empirical evidence for ongoing intensification of the water cycle would provide additional support for the theoretical framework that links intensification with warming. This paper briefly reviews the current state of science regarding historical trends in hydrologic variables, including precipitation, runoff, tropospheric water vapor, soil moisture, glacier mass balance, evaporation, evapotranspiration, and growing season length. Data are often incomplete in spatial and temporal domains and regional analyses are variable and sometimes contradictory; however, the weight of evidence indicates an ongoing intensification of the water cycle. In contrast to these trends, the empirical evidence to date does not consistently support an increase in the frequency or intensity of tropical storms and floods.


4. Summary

Substantial uncertainty regarding trends in hydrolclimatic variables remains because of differences in responses among variables and among regions as well as major spatial and temporal limitations in data. There are large gaps in spatial coverage for some hydrologic indicators; therefore, trends in these areas are unknown. The risk in assuming that trends in these areas are comparable to those measured in other related areas is that the observed trends may simply represent regional redistribution rather than true global intensification. In spite of these uncertainties, the observed trends in most of the variables are consistent with an intensification of the water cycle during part or all of the 20th century at regional to continental scales (Table 1).

Consistency in response among multiple variables lends observational support for theoretical arguments and GCM predictions that warming will likely result in further increases in evaporation and precipitation. The theoretical hydrologic response to a warming-induced intensification as manifested in an increasing frequency and intensity of tropical storms and floods (Knutson and Tuleya, 1999; Tuleya and Knutson, 2002; Karl and Trenberth, 2003) is not supported by the preponderance of evidence to date. Because of the long-term return intervals and stochastic nature of the occurrence of extreme events, however, it may require substantially more time before a change in frequency can be detected (Free et al., 2004). The lack of detectable trends in the frequency and intensity of tropical storms during the 20th century should not be taken as evidence that further warming will not lead to such changes in the future, particularly as the rate of warming in the 21st century is expected to be several times greater than in the 20th century (Cubasch and Meehl, 2001).

On balance, the weight of evidence is consistent with an ongoing and future intensification of the hydrologic cycle and emphasizes the need for improving our capabilities to monitor and predict the consequences of changing hydrologic regimes. Future improvements in spatial resolution and longer periods of data collection, combined with enhanced process-level understanding of complex feedbacks involving water, will reduce our current levels of uncertainty. Primary hydrologic feedbacks include increases in atmospheric water vapor that result in more heat trapping, changes in cloudiness and the properties of clouds that can increase or decrease surface warming, changes in snow cover and snow or ice surface melt that influence albedo and therefore the radiative balance (Abdalati and Steffen, 1997; Karl and Trenberth, 2003).

(The Doi (permanent) address for the full article above is here)


(Governments usually manage to get the answers they want out of enquiries they set up. Britain's Stern review would appear to be a particularly egregious and unscholarly example of that -- as the following group of eminent signatories points out)

By: Ian Byatt, Ian Castles, David Henderson, Nigel Lawson, Ross McKitrick, Julian Morris, Alan Peacock, Colin Robinson and Robert Skidelsky

In this note we comment on the three related documents (the 'Oxonia papers') that were issued at the end of January 2006 as the first fruits of the Stern Review of the economics of climate change. These comprise a discussion paper entitled 'What is the Economics of Climate Change?', Sir Nicholas Stern's Oxonia Lecture with the same title, and a short Technical Annex on 'The science of climate change'. Except where otherwise indicated, the page references that follow are to the discussion paper.

We believe that these documents constitute a false start: they do not provide a sound basis for the further work of the Review team. If the Review exercise is to serve a useful purpose, its treatment of the issues has to be more inclusive, more informed, and less dominated and constrained by questionable or mistaken presumptions.

'The science': a misleading picture

Taking their cue from the Technical Annex, both lecture and discussion paper have opening sections that deal with scientific aspects. What is concluded under this heading forms the point of departure for what both documents have to say about economics: as Sir Nicholas puts it in his lecture (p. 5), 'the science... actually shapes all the economics that follows'.

From all three papers, one would gather that the main scientific issues relating to climate change are now substantially settled. Both lecture and discussion paper take as given the state of the world, and the prospects and possibilities for the future, that emerge from the work of climate scientists as summarised in the Annex. The picture of reality thus presented is accepted and reproduced unquestioningly.

This picture is sombre, even dramatic; and accordingly, far-reaching inferences are drawn for economic policy. Lecture and discussion paper take the view that the starting-point for economic analysis must be that 'climate change is a serious and urgent issue' (pp. 3 and 6), since 'the overwhelming weight of scientific opinion supports the view that climate change represents a real and growing threat' (p. 9). It is true that at one point (p. 18) the discussion paper notes that 'it is important to recognise and incorporate any benefits from climate change'; but aside from this passing observation, and understandably in view of what is presumed here about 'the science', the whole emphasis is on the risks and dangers arising from anthropogenic global warming.

As to what follows from this supposedly science-based diagnosis, Sir Nicholas holds (p. 5 of his lecture text) that 'strong action has to be taken quite soon'. The action in question chiefly comprises measures and programmes to curb greenhouse gas emissions - in a word, 'mitigation'. True, the discussion paper makes the point (p. 19) that 'promoting and managing adaptation is an essential policy response'; and in a recent talk that he gave in Delhi, Sir Nicholas has made the point that 'this is not a contest between mitigation and adaptation'. But in lecture and discussion paper alike it is asserted that 'we will have to go far beyond the actions currently agreed if we are to stabilise greenhouse gases at any acceptable level' (p. 3). A corollary, since such far-reaching actions, to be effective, must be world-wide in scope, is that 'Climate change should become a central element in the whole set of international engagements' (p. 27). An ambitious world-wide programme to limit greenhouse gas emissions is represented as a matter of urgency.

In our view, these various interrelated judgements are too confident and unqualified. What is said here about the scientific aspects gives insufficient weight to the pervasive uncertainties which still surround projections of climate change, largely because of the extraordinary complexity of the system under study. This complexity has been emphasised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) itself, in its Third Assessment Report, where the point is made that:.

'In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible. The most we can expect to achieve is the prediction of the probability distribution of the system's future possible states by the generation of ensembles of model solutions.'

We think that these uncertainties are underplayed in the Technical Annex, and hence in the lecture and discussion paper: it is in fact misleading to speak of 'the science', as though it were virtually settled.

Although the Oxonia papers take it that there is a consensus among climate scientists, they offer no survey evidence. The only recent survey of climatologists of which we are aware, which was conducted by the highly-regarded Institute of Coastal Research (GKSS) in Germany, concluded that 'These results...seem to suggest that consensus is not all that strong and only 9.4% of the respondents "strongly agree" that climate change is mostly the result of anthropogenic causes.' The survey also found that fewer than a quarter of respondents strongly agreed that the IPCC reflects the consensus of thought in the climate science community.

The treatment of scientific aspects in these documents is unbalanced; and for this reason alone, it does not provide a firm basis for the radical policy recommendations that both the lecture and the discussion paper derive from it.


An issue which is likewise not touched on, in either the lecture or the discussion paper, is whether governments should continue to treat the IPCC as their sole permanent and virtually unchallenged source of information, evidence, analysis, interpretation and advice on the whole range of issues relating to climate change. Even if the IPCC process were less open to question professionally, there are grounds for concern about placing such heavy reliance, in matters of extraordinary complexity where huge uncertainties prevail, on a single source of analysis and advice and a single process of inquiry. Viewed in this light, the very notion of setting consensus as an aim appears as questionable if not ill-judged.

Implicitly, the lecture and discussion document treat the IPCC's role and conduct as above question. In so doing, they limit the scope and the potential usefulness of the whole Review, since such an exercise should consider, as a central question, how far, and in what ways, the treatment of climate change issues by the Panel and its member governments could be improved. In taking this restrictive stance, the Oxonia papers disregard, among other pertinent writings, the report from the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs. This is an extraordinary omission.

When the Stern Review was launched, the official press announcement said that the team 'will conduct a comprehensive review of the evidence'. Reading the Oxonia papers leaves the impression that such a treatment will not be attempted, still less achieved.


On the evidence of these three documents, the Stern Review appears as a misdirected exercise. By taking as given hypotheses that remain uncertain, assertions that are debatable or mistaken, and processes of inquiry that are at fault, the Review has put itself on a path that can lead to no useful outcome. Unless Sir Nicholas and his team think again, and redefine their task, their final report will serve only to illustrate, and to reinforce, the present mishandling by governments of issues relating to climate change.

More here


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

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

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


20 March, 2006


A follower of an eco-terrorism group and two other Newcastle residents were sentenced Friday in Sacramento federal court for their roles in attempted firebombings of buildings under construction. Ryan Daniel Lewis, the 22-year-old admitted adherent of the Earth Liberation Front - a radical group that targets suburban development - was sentenced to six years in federal prison for orchestrating arsons in Placer and Amador counties in late 2004 and early 2005. Two of his acquaintances, sisters Lili Marie Holland, 21, and Eva Rose Holland, 26, were sentenced to two years each in prison. In an earlier plea agreement, the women faced three years and three months behind bars. A fourth person arrested in the case, Jeremiah Colcleasure, 21, also of Newcastle, is scheduled to be sentenced in May. He pleaded guilty to attempted arson earlier this month.

Immediately after U.S. District Judge Edward J. Garcia sentenced Lewis on Friday, the bespectacled Newcastle man - who had been free on bond since November - was remanded into custody and led out of the courtroom past a row of his sobbing relatives. Garcia called Lewis the ringleader who recruited the Holland sisters and another acquaintance to exact acts of violence on property under misguided ideals. At times, the judge chided defense attorneys for misusing the term "idealism" in explaining their clients' actions. "I don't understand why you and the other lawyers talk about ideals," Garcia said to Lewis' attorney. "I consider this type of terrorism (a) most serious crime."

Earlier in the day, Garcia had allowed the Holland sisters, who reiterated their remorse before the court, to surrender to authorities April 28. Lewis did not make a statement before the judge. Friday's sentencing marked the first successful prosecution of ELF activity from the Oregon border to Bakersfield and should serve, authorities said, as a cautionary tale for others influenced to act on behalf of the shadowy organization.

In January, three other followers of ELF were arrested on suspicion of plotting a bombing campaign on local targets, including Nimbus Dam and fish hatchery and a forest genetics lab in Placerville. "Domestic terrorists mistakenly believe they are on the moral high ground, but their actions are those of cowards," U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott told reporters after the sentences were handed down. "Let today's sentencings be a warning to idealistic young people that if they make the wrong decisions, they will spend several years in prison."

But Lewis' attorney, Timothy Zindel, said he did not believe the six-year sentence was warranted for a "kid who made a serious mistake." He said Lewis was not a terrorist. "I don't agree that the Earth Liberation Front is a terrorist organization; (terrorism) it's a word that is cheapened in how it's thrown around," Zindel said after the sentencing hearing. Anyone involved in a "protest crime has to watch out ... the federal government is very unforgiving."

The trio, who were arrested last year, admitted conspiracy to plant incendiary devices at an upscale housing development in Lincoln after leaving a Christmas party in 2004. On Dec. 27, 2004, four homemade incendiary devices with kitchen timers were found in two homes under construction. "ELF" was painted in a cul-de-sac and other graffiti was discovered, including the statements "U will pay" and "Leave."

Lewis also confessed to placing firebombs inside an office building under construction in Auburn and devices inside apartments near completion in the Amador County town of Sutter Creek early last year. The bombs in Lincoln and Auburn failed to ignite, and sprinkler systems in Sutter Creek managed to abate much of the damage. However, one device did spark a fire, causing at least $243,000 in damage.

In the original indictment, the defendants faced a minimum of five years and up to 20 years in prison on each charge, including conspiracy to commit arson, attempted arson and additional counts of arson against Lewis. In October, however, Lewis and the Holland sisters pleaded guilty as part of an agreement reached with the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Steven Lapham. They were sentenced Friday on charges reached in their plea agreements: two counts of attempted arson and one count of arson against Lewis; one count each of attempted arson for the Holland sisters.

More here


When millionaire businessman Johan Eliasch decides to head for his country estate, it involves a slightly longer trek than a drive to the Cotswolds. After leaving his office in London's Mayfair, it is a 12-hour journey by air and road before he can view his 400,000-acre plot in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The estate is the size of Greater London.

Eliasch, 43, a banker, film producer and chief executive of the Head sports equipment company, has bought it from a logging company to protect the plants and wildlife. He sees himself as a pioneer on the new frontier of climate change. Eliasch, who is also deputy treasurer of the Conservative party, is part of a growing trend towards "green colonialism". Rich people with chequebooks instead of pith helmets, charities and trusts are buying vast swathes of the Third World or "renting" the timber rights to stop trees being cut down. It is a breakaway from the methods that have characterised the international conservation movement for the past 50 years.

The traditional approach relied on agencies and charities cajoling governments in developing countries to set aside state-owned land to create national parks and nature reserves. Now individuals and organisations are taking direct responsibility for the land.

Eliasch, who is valued at 355 million pounds in The Sunday Times Rich List, is believed to have paid about 8 million for his jungle park in Brazil. He plans to visit again next month. "The Amazon is the lung of the world," he said last week. "It provides 20% of the world's oxygen and 30% of the fresh water." He is now lobbying insurance companies to follow his lead with billions of dollars of their own money. "In theory you can perhaps buy the Amazon for $50 billion," he said. "It would be a very quick payback because a hurricane like Katrina will cost them a similar amount in payouts. "You can plot a direct correlation between cutting down trees which absorb carbon dioxide and the global warming and extreme conditions which lead to hurricanes like Katrina."

He is campaigning for conservationists like himself to be given carbon credits for preserving trees, similar to the financial grants made to timber companies to plant saplings after they have cut down acres of forest. He will use any such money to buy more forest.

Eliasch, the son of a Swedish industrialist, has invited scientists to search his segment of the Amazon for wildlife and plants that may have beneficial extracts for medicine. His estate lies 1,600 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro. It is just north of the Madeira river, an Amazon tributary, where dolphins swim alongside piranhas. Two species of squirrel-sized marmoset monkeys were discovered in the region six years ago. "The biodiversity is amazing," said Eliasch.

Across the Atlantic, Paul van Vlissingen, 65, the owner of Calor Gas who is worth 1.1 billion pounds and owns an 81,000-acre estate in Ross-shire, has spent 15 million pounds buying or leasing land in four African countries to preserve as wildlife parks. Van Vlissingen, who is terminally ill, said in a statement earlier this year: "There is so much more to be done if the great natural museums of Africa are to be saved and restored."

Bill Adams, a professor of conservation at Cambridge University, said: "It is an interesting development. If there is an ethical motive for buying the land, it is likely to be effective. "But I do not know about encouraging insurance companies to buy up the rainforest. I don't think their business managers will go for that."



The latest Science magazine features a paper linking increasing sea-surface temperatures to global increases in the most severe hurricanes, but it does NOT mention global warming as the cause. Think the newspapers won't?

Over the last few decades, hurricane climate experts have largely eschewed linkages between global warming and increases in the number or strength of hurricanes. That is, until late last summer, when a series of highly publicized papers claimed otherwise. The papers pointed out that sea-surface temperatures (SSTs), the essential fuel of hurricanes, have been increasing in the primary hurricane-development regions pretty much globally since 1970 (the start of global satellite hurricane track and intensity records). Over that time, hurricane intensities have also been on the rise. And since global warming causes SSTs to rise, that must be the cause of the recent spate of strong hurricanes.

The problem with this logic is that hurricanes require a very specific environment to flourish. High SSTs are a necessary but not sufficient condition to spin up strong storms. It is also important that there be very little change in the winds with height; that near surface winds blow in such a manner to cause moist air to gather near the storm's center; and that temperatures decline rapidly with height to promote a very unstable atmosphere, among other factors. One criticism of the studies from last summer is that the focus was almost entirely on SSTs only. In order properly to link hurricane trends to SSTs (and global warming), you need to discount trends in these other, critical variables.

This week's Science paper by Hoyos, Agudelo, Webster and Curry again uses data on global hurricane intensity since 1970. They report that the global increase in category 4 and 5 hurricanes is linked to SST but not any of the other factors.

The authors base their case on the observation that SSTs are increasing in all ocean basins over the period of record, but the other key hurricane-development variables they examined do not show consistent relationships across the same basins. For example, in the six ocean basins they examined, the authors found a significant increase in atmospheric moisture levels in the East Pacific only, and vertical wind shear (the change in wind height) only weakened significantly in the North Atlantic (more on this observation later).

Let's look at their results more carefully. Figure 1 shows the trend in an index of "moist static stability." Essentially, strong hurricanes can more easily form when this index value is low. In five of the six ocean basins, the authors find a statistically significant decline in moist static stability. But it's especially interesting to note that climate models (run under scenarios of increasing carbon dioxide) are also consistent in their forecasts of temperature changes in the lower atmosphere. They all report that the atmosphere will become more stable (e.g., Knutson and Tuleya, 2004). But that's the opposite of what's shown in Figure 1. So the only way to make the case that these changes are carbon dioxide-induced is to ignore the climate models, and who's willing to step forward and do that?

An examination of the number of category 4 and 5 storms from 1945-present shows that we are indeed currently experiencing a high frequency of major storms. But recent years are comparable to another fairly active period in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The aforementioned Science papers only considered the period from 1970 onward, because those data are believed to be the most accurate and internally consistent. However, the long term data from both the Western Pacific and the North Atlantic (the world's two most active regions) are reasonably good, especially with respect to the number of strong storms, which are obviously more likely to be detected.

Another factor in the recent spate of strong storms is a long-term cycle in SSTs. In the Atlantic, for example, all hurricane researchers are aware of the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO), a somewhat periodic cycling between high and low SSTs in the North Atlantic, including the primary hurricane formation zones. Figure 3 shows one of several incarnations of the AMO. Note the clear tendency toward positive AMO values beginning in the late 1960s. There were a lot more strong hurricanes from the 1940s through the mid-1960s (positive AMO), which was followed by a quiescent period (negative AMO). Any evidence of increasing SSTs based on a data set that begins around 1970 will identify an artificial trend that is really part of a longer-term cycle. The Science authors had perfectly legitimate reasons to begin their analysis in 1970, but a broader perspective is needed before you can call that increase a global warming signal.

With respect to North Atlantic hurricanes, an interesting paper was just published by Jyotika Virmani and Robert Weisberg in Geophysical Research Letters. One reason SSTs can build up is the lack of evaporation, as evaporation plays a big role in cooling ocean surface waters. Virmani and Weisberg showed that in 2003, 2004 and 2005, the position of the Bermuda High pressure system shifted from its mean position, forcing much weaker trade winds in the primary hurricane development region. Weaker winds mean less evaporation and higher SSTs. They also calculated that most of the 1-2 degrees celsius warming of ocean waters observed can be accounted for by the observed slackening of the trade winds. And when they examined the long-term pattern of trade winds in this region, the winds began weakening in 1970.

A major hurricane is a very unique event - a lot of disparate factors must become organized in just the right way to allow a major storm to develop. While high SSTs are one critical ingredient, they alone are insufficient to generate a whopper storm. SSTs have been increasing since 1970, as have major hurricanes, but the connection is not nearly as simple as some authors are suggesting. And careful scrutiny of ALL of the available data shows the connection to global warming is less than tenuous.

TCS DAILY, 16 March 2006


Shrieks take the place of evidence

UN experts are meeting to determine the risks which climate change poses to some of the world's special places. The UN's cultural and scientific wing Unesco says climate change threatens World Heritage Sites such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Tower of London.

The two-day meeting aims to develop plans of action to mitigate the threat. Environmental groups want such action to include pledges to reduce emissions, but the US says Unesco has no authority to act on climate change.

In a position paper issued in advance of the Paris meeting, the US says Unesco has no brief to consider anthropogenic climate change as a "threat" to protected sites because it is an unproven theory. Its position appears very different from that of the British government, which is funding the meeting. ....

BBC News Online, 16 March 2006


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

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

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


19 March, 2006

Burning Forests for Energy

Environmental causes are endlessly fashionable in Europe and America. You know a movie star or successful entrepreneur has arrived when he or she announces they have become an environmentalist. What's usually overlooked is how these fashionable causes play out in the rest of the world, particularly underdeveloped countries. There've been more than a few bad examples. The banning of DDT has led to a huge resurgence of malaria in the tropics. Boycotting genetically engineered foods in Europe has played havoc with African farming. Now it's emerging that "biofuels"-the latest environmental craze- is leading to the decimation of forests in South America and Asia. The result may be the end of a few more endangered species plus a big new boost in global warming.

You may not remember the DDT episode. It started in 1962 with Rachel Carson and her book, Silent Spring. Carson charged that DDT was being overused in agriculture -which was true-but added the dubious claims that it was threatening North American bird life and causing cancer. The cancer charged turned out to be a false alarm. A generation of workers was exposed to DDT without showing any ill effects. The bird-life charge was also exaggerated. The Environmental Protection Agency concluded so, but its first commissioner, William Ruckelshaus, bowed to pressure and banned it anyway. By 1986 we were telling African countries they wouldn't get our foreign aid if they didn't stop using DDT. The result has been a huge resurgence of malaria. More than a million people die each year, and tens of millions suffer lifelong debilitation. Even some environmentalists are now admitting that DDT could be used in dusting for mosquitoes, but public inertia is hard to overcome.

Genetically modified (G.M.) foods have followed a similar trajectory. U.S. consumers have actually been marvelous about accepting G.M. products. One third of our corn and three quarters of our soybeans are now genetically engineered and nobody bats an eye. A gaggle of alarmists did manage to create a scare over some G.M. taco shells from Mexico a few years ago, but it blew over quickly. Not so in Europe. From 1998 to 2004, the European Union banned even experimenting with GM crops, and has made farmers liable for spreading its "contamination." The World Trade Organization ruled last month that the decision had more to do with protecting European farmers than science, but the damage is already done.

Swiss scientists have developed a vitamin-A-rich breed of "golden rice." Vitamin A deficiency causes a million deaths around the world each year, plus blindness in 350,000 school-age children. Yet Asian and African countries have resisted accepting golden rice for fear that Europe won't take their exports. Even in the midst of drought and starvation, Zambia has refused donations of genetically engineered American corn.

Turning our attention to another pet cause of fashionable environmentalists, now comes the news that biofuels are accelerating the decimation of tropical forests. American and European environmentalists have long urged that we should replace oil imports with "solar energy" by burning corn-based ethanol in our gas tanks. President Jimmy Carter gave it a federal gas tax exemption, of which Archer-Daniels, the agribusiness giant, has become the chief beneficiary, producing more than half our output. Seven percent of the U.S. corn crop now goes into "gasohol," a 90/10 blend of gasoline and ethyl alcohol that replaces 2 percent of our oil. Still, environmentalists aren't satisfied. They point to Brazil, where one quarter of the cars are built to burn any amount of alcohol from sugar cane. Why can't we be like them? What they don't recognize is that Brazil is cutting down huge tracts of Amazon forest in order to make way for this crop.

In spite of this destruction in the name of (ostensibly) sound environmental policy, Southeast Asia is joining the parade. Tropical forests are being cleared for palm oil plantations, where the entire crop will be sold to Europe and America as "biodiesel." Friends of the Earth-which has promoted biofuels since the 1970s-recently sounded the alarm. "Between 1985 and 2000, the development of oil-palm plantations was responsible for an estimated 87 percent of deforestation in Malaysia," declaims a recent report. The usual method of clearing forests is to burn them down. Even the Tanjung Puting National Park in Borneo is being ravaged, thus threatening the habitat of orangutan, rhinos, gibbon, and several other species.

The world is a complicated place, and environmental policies need to be carefully thought out rather than embraced on little more than what passes for current wisdom among the fashionable set. After all, it's not just all good guys and bad guys. Our enthusiasm for environmental purity can often end up doing more harm than good.



Even the trains that remain after the never-ending "cuts" will be shorter

Dozens of train carriages used on rural lines are to be taken out of service by Britain's biggest train company to save money. The shorter trains will mean that thousands of passengers a day will have to stand during the summer on services across the West Country. Two-carriage trains will serve some stations where up to 400 people will be queueing to board in July and August. The worst-affected routes will be from Cardiff to Portsmouth via Bristol; from Weston-super-Mare to Bristol; and the St Ives branch line in Cornwall.

First Group, which has agreed to pay the Government 1 billion pounds over the next decade for the right to run the Greater Western franchise, will save o100,000 a year for each carriage it removes. These will be returned to the leasing companies that own them and stored in sidings. They are likely to be stripped of their special liveries depicting West Country scenes such as St Michael's Mount and the great gardens of Cornwall.

Keith Walton, chairman of the Severnside Community Rail Partnership, said: "It is scandalous that the Government is allowing these carriages to be withdrawn only a year after it gave permission for trains to be lengthened to cope with rising demand. "The existing three-coach trains between Trowbridge and Bath have more than 40 people standing in the peak so it makes no sense to cut them down to two coaches. Nothing is more likely to push people back into their cars than having to stand all the way on a train."

The Times revealed two weeks ago that, from December, First Group was planning to remove up to half the daily trains on branch lines and three quarters of the services at rural stations on main lines.

Alistair Darling, the Transport Secretary, admitted that he was partly responsible for the West Country cuts. He said: "I am not seeking to avoid blame. We cannot be in the business of carting fresh air round the country. If we are terrified to go near any service for fear of flak, then sooner or later we will come a cropper." Mr Darling said that the Liskeard-to-Looe branch line, in Cornwall, which is losing five of its thirteen daily services, had attracted an average of only nine passengers a train in the twelve months to last April. But the Devon and Cornwall Community Rail Partnership said that Mr Darling was using misleading figures based only on tickets sold.

Richard Burningham, the partnership's manager, said: "Trains on the Looe branch are so crowded in summer that the conductor cannot get down the aisle to sell tickets."

First is understood to be reconsidering some of the December cuts after 5,000 passengers wrote in to object. First said: "We won't be able to accommodate every suggestion but we do promise to look at the feedback we have received and make changes where possible within the financial and timetable constraints of the franchise."


Do Britons need another hosepipe ban?

The political leadership's tight-fisted and moralistic approach to water supply is a bigger problem than lack of rainfall

Thames Water, the company that supplies the Thames Valley region of England, including London, this week announced a ban on the use of hosepipes. It joins a number of other companies in placing restrictions on water usage. Water, as with many other facets of modern life, has become a focus for exhortations about using less.

Conditions in southern England have been unusually dry for some time now. [Hey! Global warming should produce MORE rainfall!] The period from November 2004 to January 2006 has been the second driest since records started in 1914, and the driest since 1920-22, with just 724mm of rain (2). Southern Water, already under a hosepipe ban, has been taking extra water from rivers to keep reservoirs moderately stocked. Orders to allow compulsory water metering have been approved for the Folkstone and Dover area.

According to Thames Water, rivers are now flowing at between a half and a third of their normal level and boreholes are at their lowest level ever. Other factors have contributed to the shortages. The population of the south-east is rising with an extra 800,000 people expected to move into the region in the next decade. Water usage per head has been creeping up, too. So, more people are using more water just at the time when the heavens are providing substantially less.

How can it be that a few months of dry weather can have such an impact? After all, this is not some poor and arid backwater. According to Forbes magazine, inner London is the richest area in Europe with a significant chunk of the Thames area (Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire) coming seventh on the same list. Is it really beyond the wit of planners to provide sufficient infrastructure to meet demand?

One problem highlighted frequently is leaking pipes. Thames Water hasn't exactly covered itself in glory on this issue, losing 915 million litres per year. While there is an ongoing drive to cut these losses by 200 million litres over the next four or five years, Britain's water system has suffered from decades of neglect. That won't be turned around overnight and there are practical limits on how much these losses can be reduced.

A solution put forward by Thames to try to deal with this increasing demand is to build a desalination plant at Barking. This would supply up to 150 million litres by taking water from the ebb tide (with only a quarter of the salt content of seawater) and squeezing it through fine membranes to produce drinkable water. While this is a relatively expensive way of producing clean water, it makes sense in an area with less available rainwater than far hotter cities like Madrid, Rome or Istanbul.

However, the plan was blocked by London mayor Ken Livingstone in April 2005. The proposal was regarded as out of step with the 'sustainable management of water supply resources in London'. Thames Water was told to fix more leaks and cut water usage instead. Given the ongoing shortages, Thames Water is now planning to appeal against this decision.

In the meantime, consumers have been bombarded with all sorts of advice about how to save a bit of water here or there: turn the tap off when you brush your teeth; pour the water from peeling the spuds on to the garden; take a shower not a bath. The most appealing advice of all came from Livingstone himself last year: 'We are asking people to consider - and obviously it is a matter of personal choice - that if all you have done is take a pee, you don't need to flush the toilet every time.' That idea caused a bit of a stink, and not just in lavatories.

For all the guff about 'sustainability', it is this tight-fisted, moralising approach to water supply which is unsustainable. Like it or not, water usage is going to continue to rise and dry periods like the current one will occur from time to time. It makes sense to put in place sufficient supply to meet current and future demand - and that means reservoirs, treatment plants and efficient distribution. While there may be a drought at present, water shortage is a social and technical problem, not a natural one.

That doesn't mean that water couldn't be used more efficiently. Modern toilets and domestic appliances use far less water than in the past and further efficiency gains are undoubtedly possible without reducing effectiveness. Exhortations and restrictions are likely to be far less effective than policies that actively encourage change. For example, in various parts of the USA, including New York, households have been offered grants to replace old toilets with more efficient modern ones. This may be a sensible short-term option to postpone the more expensive construction of a reservoir or treatment plant.

However, the message we are getting is that it is our overconsumption which is to blame. A Thames Water spokesman told Spiked that the introduction of the hosepipe ban was as much about raising awareness of water usage as it was about the amount of water saved from a ban itself.

We should be more concerned about planners and authorities that treat power showers, dishwashers and car washes as unnecessary luxuries rather than things we might all want to enjoy. Watering our gardens should not be a criminal offence.



(From Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Volume 21, Issue 3 , March 2006, Pages 111-113)

Climate change and the migration capacity of species

By Richard G. Pearson

Department of Herpetology & Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY 10024, USA

In a recent paper, McLachlan et al. presented evidence that migration rates of two tree species at the end of the last glacial (c. 10-20 thousand years ago) were much slower than was previously thought. These results provide an important insight for climate-change impacts studies and suggest that the ability of species to track future climate change is limited. However, the detection of late-glacial refugia close to modern range limits also implies that some of our most catastrophic projections might be overstated.

The migration rate debate

Studies that predict the potential impacts of future climate change on biodiversity usually consider two scenarios regarding the ability of species to track the changing conditions: either unlimited or no dispersal 1, 2 and 3. In reality, the migration capacity of species is likely to fall somewhere between the two; however, the degree to which species can achieve rapid large-scale migrations is still poorly understood. New molecular evidence reported recently by McLachlan et al. suggests that migration rates of two North American tree species (American beech Fagus grandifolia and red maple Acer rubrum) at the end of the last glacial [c. 10-20 thousand years ago (ka)] were much slower than has previously been deduced from the fossil pollen record. These findings provide an important warning as to the limited potential for species to keep pace with future climate change.


It's not all bad news

Although McLachlan et al. provide yet more warning as to the potentially severe effects of climate change on biodiversity, there is an important additional interpretation of their findings. If postglacial colonization from isolated refugial populations was common, then the concept that species respond to climate change by undergoing large-scale distribution shifts to track optimal conditions might be erroneous. Instead, the ability of species to maintain low-density isolated populations for long periods of time while the regional climate is unsuitable becomes of paramount importance. This ability provides a fundamental challenge to the 'bioclimate envelope' models that are often used to project future impacts on biodiversity.

Bioclimate envelope models use associations between environmental variables and known distributions of species to define environmental requirements that can be projected under scenarios of future climate change. The models predict large-scale distribution shifts and are usually run at coarse spatial resolutions, for example across 50x50 km cells [3]. By averaging climates over large cells, the models do not incorporate localized microclimates within which low-density populations can persist. Thus, just as the fossil pollen record is too coarse to identify small populations, bioclimate envelope models might be too coarse to incorporate a key mechanism by which species can persist through rapid changes in climate. The result will be overly pessimistic predictions of extinction risk from climate change.


New research is constantly improving our understanding of the responses of species to climate change, yet often reminds us that current knowledge is inadequate, and that predictions of future impacts are fraught with uncertainty. To improve predictions of climate-change impacts on biodiversity, new modeling approaches are required that address fine-scale impacts and that can identify potential refuges from conditions that are regionally unfavorable. Unfortunately, such efforts are likely to be hampered by the difficulties of making regional climate-change predictions. There is also the need to use more dynamic and mechanistic modeling approaches that integrate envelope models of envrionmental requirements with simulations of the dispersal of species across landscapes.

In light of McLachlan et al.'s study, such dispersal models should not rely on extraordinarily rare long-distance dispersal events to achieve rapid migrations, but should instead incorporate dispersal and life-history traits (e.g. seed production and survival) that limit migration capacity. In addition, models will be required to incorporate land-use data alongside climate-change scenarios, because modern human-dominated landscapes are very different from those at the end of the last glaciation. Furthering our understanding of past responses to climate-change gives an important insight into what responses we can expect in future, yet the magnitude of impacts on biota caused by anthropogenic climate change remains difficult to predict. The article by McLachlan et al. provides reason to think that some of our most catastrophic projections of climate-change impacts might be overstated, yet the low potential for rapid migration implied by the new analysis gives no cause for optimism.


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

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

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


18 March, 2006

Hot Air Hysteria: Dubious base-level for CO2 comparisons at work again

Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are at record highs according to a new report from the UN's World Meteorological Organization. The implication is that manmade greenhouse gas emissions and therefore, global warming, are spiraling out of control. But the report is misleading to the extent it claims that the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) level - reported by the WMO to be 377 parts per million (ppm) in 2004 - is 35 percent higher now than during pre-industrial times when the CO2 level allegedly was around 280 ppm.

While there's no dispute concerning the current CO2 level, there is plenty of room to dispute the WMO's 280 ppm-estimate for pre-industrial atmospheric CO2, according to March 2004 testimony before the U.S. Senate by Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski, a senior Polish scientist who has spent 40 years studying glaciers in order to reconstruct the history of human impact on the global atmosphere.

Atmospheric CO2 can be measured directly by air sampling or estimated indirectly by, for example, studying air trapped in ice cores drilled from glaciers. Direct measurements of atmospheric CO2 taken by scientists during the 19th century - beginning around 1810 - ranged from about 250 ppm to 550 ppm, with an average value of 335 ppm, according to Dr. Jaworowski. Global warming alarmists, however, prefer to estimate pre-industrial CO2 indirectly by means of ice cores, from which they derive the much lower pre-industrial revolution estimate of 280 ppm. The lower estimate makes industrial-era greenhouse gas emissions appear to be dramatically higher.

But Dr. Jaworowski says that the ice core-based CO2 estimates are unreliable. First, ice core-based CO2 estimates vary even more than the 19th century direct measurements, generally ranging from 160 ppm to about 700 ppm with some readings as high as 2,450 ppm. But because the higher estimates are politically incorrect - that is, they don't support the notion of manmade global warming - Dr. Jaworowski says they haven't been mentioned in the published scientific literature since the mid-1980s when global warming fever began to spread.

The official "rationale" for ignoring the higher ice core readings is that they supposedly have been "contaminated" by the contemporary atmosphere -- but it's an excuse that actually undermines the validity of all ice cored-based measurements. Ice core data do get contaminated, according to Dr. Jaworowski, but in the opposite direction.

In order for ice core data to be considered reliable, the ice matrix must be a closed system - that is, once air is trapped in ice it should remain unchanged. But Dr. Jaworowski says that glaciers aren't closed systems. Liquid water is present even in the coldest Antarctic ice (-73 degrees Centigrade). "More than 20 physico-chemical processes, mostly related to the presence of liquid water, contribute to the alteration of the original chemical composition of the air inclusion in polar ice," Dr. Jaworowski told Senators.

The act of drilling for ice core samples further alters the composition of the trapped air. As deep ice is compressed, trapped air bubbles turn into tiny crystals. Drilling decompresses ice cores - causing cracks in the ice and decomposition of the crystals into gases which differentially escape at varying pressures and depths - leading to a net depletion of CO2 in the air trapped in the ice cores, according to Dr. Jaworowski. "This is why the records of carbon dioxide. in deep polar ice show values lower than in the contemporary atmosphere, even for epochs when the global surface temperature was higher than now," Dr. Jaworowski testified.

If pre-industrial CO2 levels are in fact closer to the directly measured 19th century average of 335 ppm versus the questionably estimated 280 ppm, then human activity would be correlated with a much smaller increase in atmospheric CO2 levels - which only adds to the confusion over global warming.

Mean global temperature appears to have warmed by about one degree Fahrenheit during the 20th Century. About half that warming occurred prior to 1940, while most of the century's manmade greenhouse gas emissions occurred after 1940. The global cooling that occurred from 1940 to 1970 - which led some worriers to sound alarms during the mid-1970s about a looming ice age - actually occurred simultaneously with increasing manmade greenhouse gas emissions.

There really are only two certainties in the debate over climate change. First, we really don't have a sufficient understanding of climatic processes to predict with reasonable certainty the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate.

But we do know that mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions - like those required in Europe by the Kyoto Protocol and currently advocated in the U.S. by Sens. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Jeff Bingman, D-N.M., - will harm the economy by making energy more expensive and less available. European nations are already choosing to forgo global warming alarmism and compliance with Kyoto in favor of economic survival and growth. Let's hope that message gets through the global warming ice core in which Sens. Domenici and Bingaman seem to be trapped



The United States and Russia yesterday united to throw their weight behind nuclear energy, with America calling for a "very substantial rebirth" of the industry. The endorsement of atomic power by the two former Cold War foes will provide a significant boost to the ambitions of American, French and Russian nuclear industries.

However, their stand, unveiled at a meeting of G8 energy ministers in Moscow, was greeted with dismay by environmentalists and signalled a shift from the line endorsed at last year's summit in Gleneagles, which focused on renewable energy.

Addressing the meeting, Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, called for unity among G8 member states in tackling energy supply problems and said: "Atomic energy alternatives must be accessible to other countries, including developing countries."

Samuel Bodman, the US Energy Secretary, said after the meeting: "We are hopeful of a very substantial rebirth of the global nuclear industry."

A joint statement issued by all the energy ministers hinted at the continuing division among G8 member states over nuclear energy, which is endorsed strongly by France, Russia and the US but remains controversial in Germany, which is committed to closing its nuclear power plants. The ministers called for development of new energy technologies, but conceded that fossil fuels would "remain the basis of the world energy industry for at least the first half of the 21st century".

Atomic power was highlighted as a key alternative in the search for carbon-free energy. "For those countries that wish, wide-scale development of safe and secure nuclear energy is crucial for long-term, environmentally sustainable diversification of energy supply."

The draft statement issued by the Russian Energy Ministry, which does not yet reflect official G8 policy, notably failed to address the crisis in Ukraine in January, when Gazprom stopped the flow of gas to its neighbour after Ukraine refused to accept a price increase.

Neither Russia nor the United States showed any sign of willingness yesterday to ratify the Energy Charter, a treaty that seeks to establish a liberal regime in the transport and distribution of energy supplies. The acceptance among the G8 energy ministers of the need for a renewed focus on the delivery of more hydrocarbons and a new push for nuclear power is likely to please both the White House and the Kremlin, which has been pushing for a global monitoring system for the production and sale of nuclear fuel.



The original of this article has lots of lovely graphs in it that I have not endeavoured to reproduce below

This week Science Magazine's on-line SciencExpress reports that Antarctica has been losing large amounts of ice mass over the past three years, contributing to sea level rise at a rate of 0.4 ñ 0.2 mm/year. This comes on the heels of a paper published by Science two weeks ago that reported that Greenland was also losing big chunks of ice and contributing to sea level rise at a rate of 0.57 mm/yr.

If this sounds like one of those repeating news stories -- Coup in Haiti, Osama Sends a Tape, etc. -- it is. And so is the response. Natural variability is sufficiently large on yearly and multidecadal time scales that it is simply impossible to conclude that anything other than natural variability is at play in either of these two stories.

The SciencExpress paper by Isabella Velicogna and John Wahr reports on 34 months of data recorded by a new NASA satellite that measures the pull of gravity. Variations in the gravitational field are related to variations in the local mass beneath the satellite. If the mass changes, the satellite observes a different degree of gravitational pull.

Velicogna and Wahl attempted to use the gravity variations observed over Antarctica to determine whether Antarctica was gaining or losing mass. But, their analysis is complicated because variations in gravity can be caused by many things. These include variations in atmospheric pressure (the atmosphere has a certain mass); gravity signals arising from outside of Antarctica; and mass changes from a process known as post-glacial rebound -- slow, ongoing changes to the earth's crust as it adjusts to the removal of its huge ice load from the last ice age. Each of these effects needs to be correctly accounted for before estimating snow and ice changes. After this process, Velicogna and Wahr derived the time history of the variations in ice mass covering Antarctica (from April 2002 through August 2005) shown in Figure 1.

Additionally, the researchers calculated the ice mass changes for the two major ice sheets across Antarctica -- the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) and the Eastern Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) -- which together cover the vast majority of the continent. Figure 2 shows that the there is no trend in the EAIS (which is about 3 times as large as the WAIS) and that virtually all of the mass loss is coming from the WAIS.

This differs from the results published by Davis et al. in Science magazine just last summer, which used a different satellite and over a longer time period -- May1982 through May 2003. While Davis et al. did find that the smaller WAIS was losing mass, they also found that the much larger EAIS was gaining mass at a rate that exceeded the loss over the WAIS. In total, Davis et al. found that Antarctica was gaining mass (from increased snow accumulation) and contributing to a decline in sea level of about 0.09 mm/yr. The differences between these two results likely lie somewhere in the collection of factors that include different time periods, different spatial coverages, and in analysis uncertainties.

However, one thing is clear. The beginning of the Velicogna and Wahl analysis occurs during an unusually high point in the longer record of Davis et al. (Figure 3). This means that the apparent decline in the record of Velicogna and Wahl may simply be a short term correction to an anomalously high mass gain during a period of long-term mass growth. But who is to know for sure? It is impossible to tell anything about a trend in a system as vast as Antarctica with less than three years worth of data.

Records of the extent of sea ice surrounding Antarctica are available from satellite observations starting back in the late 1980s. Figure 4 (from the National Snow and Ice Data Center) shows that there has been a slight increase in sea ice during the past two decades. Floating sea ice is a different system than the one being measured by either of the two studies mentioned above. Nevertheless it gives some indication as to what is going on in the environs of the extreme Southern Hemisphere. And it certainly doesn't look like ice is disappearing (notice, however, that there is a lot of variation on the yearly to multi-yearly scale).

So, all the Velicogan and Wahl results really demonstrate is that there are short term variations in the amount of ice and snow covering the Antarctic continent. Other data indicate that over the course of the past several decades at least, that the ocean-land system of Antarctica has been experiencing a growth in the amount of snow and ice there

There is nothing inherently noteworthy about the results of this three year study of Antarctic ice trends. This is not to disparage the scientific work of Velicogna and Wahl. It is to suggest that their paper serves more as a initial investigation into some of the applications of observations of gravitational variations, rather than bearing any relevance to the issue of global climate change and its implications.


(From CO2 Science Magazine, 8 March 2006)

Considerable fanfare was recently accorded the study of Rignot and Kanagaratnam (2005), when "using satellite radar interferometry observations of Greenland," they detected "widespread glacier acceleration." Calculating that this phenomenon had led to a doubling of "the ice sheet mass deficit in the last decade" and, therefore, a comparable increase in Greenland's contribution to rising sea levels, they went on to claim that "as more glaciers accelerate ... the contribution of Greenland to sea-level rise will continue to increase."

With respect to these contentions, we have no problem with what the two researchers have observed with respect to Greenland's glaciers; but we feel compelled to report that what they have calculated with respect to the mass balance of Greenland's ice sheet and what they say it implies about sea level are diametrically opposed to the story told by other more inclusive real-world data.

A simple introduction to the issue is provided by Dowdeswell (2005), who writes in an accompanying "perspective" piece that "the Greenland Ice Sheet gains mass through snowfall and loses it by surface melting and runoff to the sea, together with the production of icebergs and melting at the base of its floating ice tongues." Hence, it is perfectly clear, as he continues, that "the difference between these gains and losses is the mass balance; a negative balance contributes to global sea-level rise and vice versa."

Where Rignot and Kanagaratnam went wrong was in estimating Greenland's mass gain via snowfall over the vast interior of the ice sheet during the time that coastal glaciers were accelerating. Instead of relying on measurements for this evaluation, they relied on the calculations of Hanna et al. (2005), who used meteorological models "to retrieve annual accumulation, runoff, and surface mass balance."

When actual measurements of the ice sheet via satellite radar altimetry are employed, quite a different perspective is obtained. Zwally et al. (2005), for example, found that although "the Greenland ice sheet is thinning at the margins," it is "growing inland with a small overall mass gain." In fact, for the 11-year period 1992-2003, Johannessen et al. (2005) found that "below 1500 meters, the elevation-change rate is -2.0 ñ 0.9 cm/year, in qualitative agreement with reported thinning in the ice-sheet margins," but that "an increase of 6.4 ñ 0.2 cm/year is found in the vast interior areas above 1500 meters." Spatially averaged over the bulk of the ice sheet, the net result, according to the latter researchers, was a mean increase of 5.4 ñ 0.2 cm/year, "or ~60 cm over 11 years, or ~54 cm when corrected for isostatic uplift."

Consequently, and in direct contradiction of the claim of Rignot and Kanagaratnam, Greenland has experienced no "ice sheet mass deficit in the last decade." Quite to the contrary, it has been host to a net accumulation of ice, which Zwally et al. find to be "contributing -0.03 ñ 0.01 mm a-1 to sea-level change." As a result, the net accretion of ice on Greenland over the past decade has actually been ever so slightly lowering global sea level.

As for the future, whereas Rignot and Kanagaratnam contend that "as more glaciers accelerate ... the contribution of Greenland to sea-level rise will continue to grow," Zwally et al. report that "thinning at the margins of the Greenland ice sheet and growth at higher elevations is an expected response to increasing temperatures and precipitation in a warming climate," and this observation suggests that Greenland's accreting-ice trend of the last decade would likely continue in a warming world, which is once again just the opposite of what Rignot and Kanagaratnam contend.

In light of these several observations, it is a sad commentary on the politicization of science that the American Association for the Advancement of Science's press release about the Rignot and Kanagaratnam paper was entitled "Greenland glaciers dumping ice into Atlantic at faster pace." Although technically correct, it failed to convey the far more important knowledge that earth's hydrologic cycle was sucking water out of the ocean and depositing it on Greenland in the form of snow at an even faster pace.


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

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

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


17 March, 2006


Normally new rivers, seas and mountains are born in slow motion. The Afar Triangle near the Horn of Africa is another story. A new ocean is forming there with staggering speed -- at least by geological standards. Africa will eventually lose its horn.

Geologist Dereje Ayalew and his colleagues from Addis Ababa University were amazed -- and frightened. They had only just stepped out of their helicopter onto the desert plains of central Ethiopia when the ground began to shake under their feet. The pilot shouted for the scientists to get back to the helicopter. And then it happened: the Earth split open. Crevices began racing toward the researchers like a zipper opening up. After a few seconds, the ground stopped moving, and after they had recovered from their shock, Ayalew and his colleagues realized they had just witnessed history. For the first time ever, human beings were able to witness the first stages in the birth of an ocean.

Normally changes to our geological environment take place almost imperceptibly. A life time is too short to see rivers changing course, mountains rising skywards or valleys opening up. In north-eastern Africa's Afar Triangle, though, recent months have seen hundreds of crevices splitting the desert floor and the ground has slumped by as much as 100 meters (328 feet). At the same time, scientists have observed magma rising from deep below as it begins to form what will eventually become a basalt ocean floor. Geologically speaking, it won't be long until the Red Sea floods the region. The ocean that will then be born will split Africa apart.

The Afar Triangle, which cuts across Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti, is the largest construction site on the planet. Three tectonic plates meet there with the African and Arabian plates drifting apart along two separate fault lines by one centimeter a year. A team of scientists working with Christophe Vigny of the Paris Laboratory of Geology reported on the phenomenon in a 2006 issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research. While the two plates move apart, the ground sinks to make room for the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

Bubbling magma and the smell of sulphur

A third crevice cuts south, splitting not far from Lake Victoria. One branch of the rift runs to the east, the other to the west of the lake. The two branches of this third crevice are moving apart by about one millimeter a year.

The dramatic event that Ayalew and his colleagues witnessed in the Afar Desert on Sept. 26, 2005 was the first visual proof of this process -- and it was followed by a week-long series of earthquakes. During the months that followed, hundreds of further crevices opened up in the ground, spreading across an area of 345 square miles. "The earth has not stopped moving since," geophysicist Tim Wright of the University of Oxford says. The ground is still splitting open and sinking, he says; small earthquakes are constantly shaking the region.

Scientists have made repeated trips to the area since the drama of last September. Locals have reported a number of new cracks opening in the ground, says geologist Cynthia Ebinger from the University of London, and during each visit, new crevices are discovered. Fumes as hot as 400 degrees Celsius (752 degrees Fahrenheit) shoot up from some of them; the sound of bubbling magma and the smell of sulphur rise from others. The larger crevices are dozens of meters deep and several hundred meters long. Traces of recent volcanic eruptions are also visible.

In a number of places, cracks have opened up beneath the thin layer of volcanic ash that covers the region. As there is no ash in the fissures, it's clear that they opened up after the volcanic eruptions, most of which took place at the end of September or in October, 2005. A number of locals who fled the eruptions have reported that a black cloud of ash -- spewed out of the Dabbahu volcano -- darkened the sky for three days.

Much more here


As the [U.K.] Government seeks to find a way to secure energy supplies for the future while reducing carbon emissions, nuclear power is back on the agenda. This has put the wind up the windfarm/renewable energy lobby and prompted the Sustainable Development Commission to launch another scare campaign. Despite its claim to be "balanced", and admission that nuclear power can generate large amounts of electricity with low CO2 emissions, the report radiates worst-case "what if?" arguments, throwing in every predictable point about unpredictable risks from accidents to terrorist attacks. Wouldn't it be more honest if it just said that it hates most technology, doesn't trust humanity and fears that the end of the world is nigh?

Most revealing is the commission's concern that "a new nuclear programme would give out the wrong signal to consumers". What the commission means is that booming new nuclear power stations might stop us believing that we need to cut our use of electricity and consume less of everything. For these people, "sustainability" means re-educating us to make do and mend and live more frugally, using global warming as a bogeyman to make the children behave. If the wheel was invented today, some of them would argue that we shouldn't use it because it might make kids obese.

Perhaps there is a good argument against building nuclear power stations. But try as they might, they have not come up with one. This should fill the authorities with confidence to explore the possible applications for nuclear science, from energy and transport to medicine, while finding new ways to cope with the waste.

New Labour has instead made a fuel rod for its own back by its spineless refusal to put the case for nuclear power. In an act of pre-emptive grovelling, it set up bodies such as the SDC under Jonathan Porritt, the green guru. Sir Jonathan might now claim that the SDC would have recommended nuclear if it were the best option. Yet last year he was already declaring in his "balanced" way that to proceed with any nuclear programme would be "foolish" and "a very serious own goal". The only own goal that the Government scored was giving him the authority to advise it in the first place.

Let open nuclear war commence, with the safety gloves off. If the Government seriously believes in the need for nuclear power as part of future energy supply, it should not knuckle under to the arguments of the Planet of the Apes lobby. It should nuke 'em.

More here

The Lancet Pricks Itself

By Henry I. Miller

The term "medical journals" elicits automatic respect from most people. Not from me: I read them. I've found the editors to be increasingly hubristic and anti-business; and even worse, not to know what they don't know. The British journal The Lancet is a case in point. Having previously erred by publishing an obviously flawed paper purportedly showing toxicity of gene-spliced potatoes, another containing wild and irresponsible (but damaging) speculation about the possible dangers of the insecticide DDT, and a commentary about a link between autism and vaccines that contain the preservative thimerosal, The Lancet again has gone off the deep end. This time the issue is the regulation of chemicals in Europe. (What this has to do with medicine isn't entirely clear, but it illustrates the expansive, do-gooder mindset of the editors.)

The Lancet's biases are unmistakable: Chemicals bad, regulation good. Therefore, REACH (Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals), the EU's sweeping plan, which The Lancet believes is "designed to reign in an industry that for decades had placed chemicals on the market with, at best, only irregular government oversight," is laudable; while any attempts to introduce rigorous scientific and economic analysis into regulation can only be the product of cynical, self-serving interference.

According to The Lancet, REACH was right on track until "European lawmakers met The Lobby. In what some European Commissioners say is the largest lobbying effort in the modern history of the EU, European and American chemical manufacturers orchestrated a multilayered and multipronged lobbying campaign that encompassed all the original 15 EU member states plus the 10 new ones, as well as countries outside the continent such as Japan, Mexico, and the USA."

In spite of the bad rap that lobbying has gotten recently on this side of the pond, however, all lobbying is neither negative nor motivated by special pleading. At its best, it is a means to educate policymakers about important and sometimes arcane issues.

The Lancet's sanguine view of REACH is demolished by the meticulously argued, "Europe's Global REACH," released last November by the Hayek Institute in Brussels. It concludes that REACH will harm Europe and its trade partners economically - without any convincing evidence of health or environmental benefits. REACH would extend to all chemicals produced in or imported into Europe the bogus "precautionary principle," which holds that if the evidence about a product, technology or activity is any way incomplete, it should be prohibited or at least stringently regulated.

Potential risks should be taken into consideration before proceeding with any new activity or product, to be sure, whether it is the siting of a power station or the introduction of a new flame retardant. But what is missing from precautionary calculus is an acknowledgment that even when technologies and products introduce new risks, most confer net benefits -- that is, their use reduces other, far more serious hazards. Vaccines have occasional side effects, for example, but they confer net benefits. The danger in the precautionary principle - which in concept is centuries old - is that it focuses exclusively on the risks - often purely hypothetical ones, at that - and diverts consumers and policymakers from seeking possible solutions to known, significant threats to human health. Its overall impacts may be overwhelmingly net-negative.

The costs of REACH's precautionary approach will be prodigious. The European Commission's own estimates range up to 5.2 billion Euros, but according to a study produced by the Nordic Council, the price tag could be as much as 28 billion Euros. This higher estimate includes both direct and indirect costs, and assumes that the latter may amount to as much as 2.5 times the former.

REACH's supporters maintain that businesses can absorb this high price tag easily, but the Hayek Institute analysis offers a very different view. Its author, public policy scholar Angela Logomasini, points out that cost estimates that are favorable to REACH are incomplete, fail to consider a host of direct costs, and often completely neglect the indirect costs.

Moreover, REACH's advocates ignore its disproportionately harsh impact on small businesses and businesses in the newer EU member nations. A study conducted by consulting firm KPMG on behalf of the European Commission concludes: "The heaviest burden will be on SMEs [small and mid-sized enterprises] which cannot consistently fulfill the REACH requirements and so it is predicted that most of them may face financial troubles, may be taken over by bigger ones, or even shut down."

These prospects should raise serious concerns for Europeans. Small and mid-sized firms represent more than 99 percent of EU businesses, and account for two-thirds of the jobs. The imposition of REACH will increase unemployment and diminish competition -- which will lead to less innovation and higher prices.

The Lancet's take on these monumental costs? "While EU regulation involves unpleasant upfront costs, it also provides predictability and efficiency." The Hayek Institute's analysis suggests that REACH will offer few predictable benefits to offset the potentially devastating costs. In a review of the benefits claimed for REACH, Logomasini shows that the "studies" that purport to demonstrate benefits depend more on unsupported assumptions and wishful thinking than on science or logic. The European Commission's only study of likely benefits from REACH, conducted by Risk and Policy Analysis Limited (RPA) in 2003, addresses occupational exposure to chemicals and attempts to estimate the extent to which REACH would reduce health problems among workers. However, it is based on sketchy, incomplete, and inconsistently collected data assembled from a handful of member governments that is of questionable relevance to REACH.

The RPA report explicitly assumes that problems related to currently known chemical causes will be addressed by existing laws, while REACH will prevent currently unknown health problems from chemicals. But if these cases are unknown, how can we know they are caused by chemicals or are even work-related? Obvious errors and insufficient documentation in the report only compound problems with the study, which makes no mention of having been peer reviewed.

REACH's presumed benefits are based on the assumption that testing chemicals, filing paperwork, and pursuing politically correct product bans will somehow reduce cancer rates. But as the Hayek Institute analysis makes clear, the vast majority of cancers are not related to chemicals. According to the World Health Organization, the major preventable causes are tobacco use, diet, and infections, which account for 75 percent of cancer cases worldwide. WHO bases these findings on a landmark study conducted by scientists Sir Richard Doll and Richard Peto, which concluded that all environmental pollution might amount to only as much as two percent of cancers.

In the interest of free markets and economic growth, we need global regulatory policies that make scientific sense and that encourage innovative research and development. But by promoting the precautionary principle, EU politicians are performing a disservice. The only winners will be the European regulators, who will enjoy additional power, and the anti-science activists who will have succeeded in erecting yet more barriers to the use of superior technologies and useful products.

The Lancet should narrow its focus and stick to what it does well, assuming that something in that category can be identified.



Can there be any more electrifying sight on television than a snow leopard careering down a near-perpendicular Himalayan mountain in pursuit of a deer calf? The leopard gains, the calf stumbles. Seized by the hindquarters, it wrests itself free in a last, desperate bid then cartwheels over a cliff into a fast-flowing river. Does it survive? We may never know.

This is nature red in tooth and claw, as seen on Sir David Attenborough's Planet Earth series. So gripped are we by the action that we may overlook the subtext: this is also nature under threat. The snow leopard is a rare creature that has never before been filmed like this. Hunted, trapped and pursued, its numbers have declined to fewer than 5,000. It is on the Red List of endangered species. As every conservation body worth its salt will assure you, where man intrudes, wild life is on the retreat.

It is a message that is applied not just to the Himalayas but to the hills and moorland of Britain. It bolsters the ethos and the coffers of impeccable organisations like the WWF, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and government-sponsored bodies such as English Nature and its Scottish and Welsh equivalents. Their running theme, rarely challenged in public, is that, where wild birds and animals are in decline, the hand of man, whether farmer, landowner, forester or sportsman, can be detected. Intensive farming, commercial exploitation and leisure pursuits such as hunting or shooting have driven some species to the point of extinction. Unless these human activities can be reined in, goes the story, the future for wildlife is bleak.

It is a deeply flawed message - at best a half-truth, at worst a deliberate distortion. Past masters at selling it are the RSPB, which last week issued yet another grim account of persecution, this time in the Peak District, which is to be the subject of an adjournment debate in Westminster Hall today.

Peak Malpractice, as the report is titled, claims that birds of prey, such as goshawk, hen harrier and peregrine, are in steep decline because of "illegal persecution". "The scale of decline is shocking and to bird-of-prey experts, there is no natural explanation," an RSPB statement says. English Nature is blunter. It places the blame firmly at the door of grouse moor owners. "Areas where protected species have been affected coincide with driven grouse moors," it says. "These include some of the most important conservation sites in Europe."

You will find any number of similar stories on the RSPB's website. What you will not find are some very inconvenient facts, based not on propaganda but on science, which have been issued by the Game Conservancy Trust. Its own report, Nature's Gain, presents a very different picture. It shows that on land that is managed for shooting, whether moorland, woods or pasture, wildlife is thriving. Over the past ten years, on grouse moors, for instance, golden plovers, curlew (pictured) and lapwing, which are under threat in so many parts of England and Wales, have multiplied by up to five times. The merlin, Britain's smallest bird of prey, is twice as common on grouse moors as elsewhere. In the North Pennines area, which the RSPB complains about, curlew have increased by 18 times more than in the Berwyn Special Protection Area, which is managed as a bird reserve.

Pheasant shooting, widely condemned by conservationists, has done wonders for small birds such as robins, blackbirds and finches. The cultivation of woods and verges and the planting of game crops have resulted in wild bird numbers quadrupling in some areas. On one sample farm, in Leicestershire, where modern farming goes hand in hand with shooting, song birds, brown hares and harvest mice have shown dramatic improvement. The explanation is simple. In these places, nature is "managed " to encourage wildlife. Heather is burnt, which stimulates new growth. Vermin are controlled. Predators such as foxes and crows are kept down.

Contrast this with the RSPB's own lamentable record. On Langholm Moor, where the society, allied with Scottish Natural Heritage, presided over an experiment to withdraw all gamekeeping, the number of birds, including hen harriers, grouse, waders, and all songbirds, has crashed. It is now, to all intents and purposes, a desert area. On Lake Vyrnwy, a reservoir area in Mid-Wales managed by the RSPB, curlew, plover and lapwing have declined to near-zero. Black grouse, which once thrived, are being wiped out, not just by foxes, but, embarrassingly for the RSPB, by the goshawks that they so much favour. Data for other species, like stonechats and short-eared owls, are simply not recorded - perhaps because the results are so bad.

I wanted to know how the RSPB had done on Geltsdale, a former grouse moor in Cumberland that it has managed since the 1970s. The only current report available, however, is sketchy. There seem to be no hen harriers, despite their being a "target" species; there are reasonable results for stonechats and grasshopper warblers; some golden plover were recorded. Most of the report, though, is taken up with a list of alleged incidents involving the persecution of birds of prey in the 1990s by neighbouring estates.

I have no doubt that there are examples of gamekeepers who break the law. But they do far more for conservation than most of their critics. Organisations such as the RSPB would be well advised to form partnerships with them, rather than targeting them as persecutors. Man may indeed be part of the problem in the world's great wilderness areas but when it comes to the hills and moors of Britain, he is definitely part of the solution



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

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

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


16 March, 2006


As a regular Sushi eater, I take this seriously!

Ah, fish. Not only are they tasty and usually low-fat, they're chock-full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, high-quality protein, essential nutrients, and. poisonous levels of mercury?

After reading recent media reports, you'd think we all need to give up fish right now in order to avoid dying from too much mercury consumption. Eat too much sushi, and you might as well be the next one chopped up and dipped in soy sauce. But how much faith should we really put into these reports?

The problem is that two interest groups are fighting to control the debate. On the one side, industry-hating Greens are hyping the dangers of mercury as part of a campaign to insert more regulations into the Clean Air Act. After all, some of the mercury in the world's water supply is a result of contamination by power plants.

On the other side, the food industry is looking out for its own. Some of these groups are out to convince Americans that there's nothing to be worried about. In the end, consumers should be thoughtful and educated. By examining the facts and not overreacting, we can have our fish and eat it too.

The Facts

The Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency tend to lean on different sides of the fish debate - the FDA on the side of consumption, and the EPA on the side of caution. But in 2004, they issued a joint report for those most at risk of mercury harm (mothers-to-be, nursing moms, and young children). The agencies offered three common-sense recommendations that will allow women and children to "receive the benefits of eating fish and shellfish and be confident that they have reduced their exposure to the harmful effects of mercury." These recommendations are what doctors often hand to their pregnancy-minded patients.

In addition to heeding the recommendations in this report, we can look at the guidelines of what constitutes a risky level of mercury consumption. The environmental groups panic when tests show that mercury levels exceed the FDA and EPA's recommended limits - but those limits have a 1000% safety margin built into them. In other words, there's probably no reason to worry if you're above the limit - unless you're 800% over it. And you'll rarely find someone with that level unless her legs turn into fins in the bathtub.

The FDA has written that its mercury "Action Level" of 1.0 part-per-million "was established to limit consumers' methyl mercury exposure to levels 10 times lower than the lowest levels associated with adverse effects." The same goes for the EPA's recommended "Reference Dose." As David Martosko of the the Center for Consumer Freedom said about the recent sushi scare, "Sounding health alarms about mercury levels this low is like worrying about driving a car at one-tenth the speed limit."

Debunking the Hype

Armed with these basic facts, you'll be able to debunk most of the scare reports yourself. For instance, when you hear that a Greenpeace report has found that "one in five women of childbearing age that were tested have mercury levels exceeding the EPA's recommended limit," you'll be able to ask: "How much were the levels exceeded - 1% or 800%?"

Then, even if you didn't realize that Greenpeace only published part of that study that it had funded (and not the part that found that "the current results do not provide evidence of an increasing or decreasing trend. in mercury concentrations for a given amount of fish consumption), you'll still be one step ahead of any of your neurotic friends. Let's look at what else the media is missing:

* A new study of Seychelles Islands indicates that mothers who ate a lot of fish during pregnancy had children who outperformed other kids whose mothers ate less fish.

* Alaska's Public Health Department tested the hair of eight 550-year-old Alaskan mummies for mercury and found levels averaging twice the blood-mercury concentration of today's Alaskans. (I love the Center for Consumer Freedom's response: "Perhaps those paleo-Inuits should have spent their time picketing mercury-spewing undersea volcanoes instead of fishing.")

* Dr. Joshua Cohen of Harvard University believes the health benefits of fish outweigh any potential risk, noting recently on Good Morning America, "If people ate more fish, then the number of heart attacks and strokes would decrease."

Now, I'm not going to tell you to throw caution to the wind and adopt an "eat, drink, for tomorrow we die" mentality. Those of you who are pregnant, nursing, or thinking of becoming pregnant in the next year should follow your doctors' recommendations, since children are at the most risk of having brain development affected by high doses of mercury.

The rest of you, however, should be able to eat your sushi, crab cakes, shrimp cocktails, and tuna fish sandwiches in moderation and with clear consciences. No need to miss out on the tastiness and health benefits of fish and shellfish because of a few nervous ninnies in the media.



The National Grid, responsible for running Britain's gas and electricity pipes and wires, yesterday issued an unprecedented warning that the country was in danger of not having enough gas to meet demand. It issued its first-ever "gas balancing alert" to the market, telling traders that gas demand might have to be reduced, initially for businesses. The move sent wholesale prices spiralling up fourfold.

The British gas supply market has been caught out by unexpectedly cold weather and a technical problem: the country's only significant gas storage facility on the Rough offshore field in the North Sea is out of action due to a fire. Centrica, which operates Rough and runs the British Gas residential supply firm, said it could not be sure when it would get the emergency supply facility back into action.

Wholesale gas prices have risen to their highest level in four months, increasing the likelihood of further hikes in domestic gas bills which have already increased by a quarter in recent weeks. The gas crisis will restart the political debate in the European Union about the continental energy market. Despite a pending shortage of gas in Britain which could lead to some manufacturing companies having their supplies cut off, there has been little help from France, Germany or the Netherlands where supplies are still plentiful. The price of wholesale gas in Britain hit 250p a therm yesterday, three times more than in the Netherlands. Despite this, London gas traders said they were struggling to source new supplies. The newly-enlarged Interconnector pipeline from continental Europes was running only half-full, they said.

National Grid confirmed it had posted a gas balancing alert but insisted that this did not mean the country was about to run out of gas. "It is just a signal to the market that there is an increased possibility that there might need to be a reduction in gas demand," said a spokesman. He added that some large industrial users might have to forego supplies. Centrica, parent group of British Gas, claimed that more severe weather than had been anticipated by meteorologists had taken energy traders and suppliers by surprise. But a spokesman for the company said no further residential price rises were planned at this time."We pushed through substantial increases so we are not intending to introduce another one," the spokesman said.

British Gas, which has 53% of the residential gas market, hit consumers with a 22% rise from March 1. This followed a 14% increase in September last year and a 12% hike 12 months earlier. The company has been offering domestic users the chance to fix the price of their gas supplies for up to four years while many industrial gas users have switched to alternative fuels. PowerGen, another major gas supplier which is owned by the German utility E.ON, has just raised its gas prices for domestic customers by 24.4%. Electricity prices have been increased 18.4% by PowerGen while most other suppliers have increased their energy prices but by smaller amounts.

The inability of traders to obtain new gas in Europe will infuriate British politicians and give further ammunition to the European commission which last week called for faster deregulation of continental markets. A lack of transparency means it has been hard to discover exactly where the bottlenecks are and why suppliers on the continent are not switching gas to Britain. Yesterday the spot price of gas in the Netherlands had reached 70p per therm. But the Interconnector pipeline to Britain was handling only 8m cubic metres, when it could handle 16m.

From The Guardian, 14 March 2006. I note that "The Guardian" does not know the difference between "forgo" and "forego"


By Alan Caruba

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to tell you that, years ago in the 1980s, I worked for a producer of a particularly effective pesticide that was applied with nothing more toxic than water. It is now, like so many other pesticides, not available to pest control professionals because it was literally forced off the market by the Environmental Protection Agency that insisted millions of dollars of testing be repeated for its continued registration. The company decided it just wasn't worth it. I have served as the public relations counselor to a state pest management association that began in 1941 when its founding members decided they needed to better understand the science involved with combating one of the most ancient vectors of disease and property damage, the billions of insect and rodent Pests that besiege us to this day. Over the years since then, they have invited scientists to educate their members to better serve their customers.

So, when I read yet another anti-pesticide news story in my daily newspaper, my first reaction was to heave a sigh of disgust and turn the page. My next reaction was the same one that caused me to create The National Anxiety Center to dispute the endless environmental lies designed to influence public opinion and policy. I got angry. "The nation's streams and rivers, from the Midwestern corn belt to the Hawaiian Islands to the suburbs of New Jersey are infused with dangerous pesticides, the U.S. Geological Survey reported yesterday." If you read no further than that first paragraph you would, like millions of other Americans, conclude that your health was endangered. You would be wrong.

Like all such newspaper and other media stories that sound the warning klaxon, you have to read further to discover there is no danger. Further into the story, you would learn that, "To what degree the findings represent a threat to human health is not certain. Most concentrations detected did not exceed federal human-health benchmarks." That was paragraph eight. In the next paragraph, the article notes that, "How the compounds may interact in the human body is poorly understood."

And, if you read still further, you would find a quote from Jay Vroom, president of Croplife America, that "Normal water purification procedures used by municipalities.would remove most traces of pesticides." The key word here is "traces" because the measurements trumpeted in the first paragraph reflect a million parts per gallon and even a billion parts per gallon. Translation? So little presence of pesticides as to constitute no health threat whatever. Moreover, your local water company removes those trace elements before you ever drink them. So why then is the sidebar to the article titled "Drink at your own risk"?

To scare you. That is the single operational mode of all environmental organizations and the data they serve up to the mainstream media that cleverly puts the scare in the first paragraph, confident that you are not likely to read to the end of the story, nor even understand that the threat they are describing is non-existent.

In a similar fashion, the nation's leading science magazines have become so debased by their alliance with environmentalists that one can no longer trust their latest "news." A case in point is a recent issue of Science magazine that reported Antarctica is melting. Two weeks earlier, it reported that Greenland was also losing big chunks of ice. Run for your life, the sea level is about to swamp all the coastal cities of the world. As Dr. Patrick Michaels noted on Tech Central Station, however, "Natural variability is sufficiently large on yearly and multidecadal time scales that it is simply impossible to conclude that anything other than natural variability is at play in either of those two stories." In other words, a study based on the last three years of ice mass cannot possibly be taken seriously. Unless, of course, you are an editor for Science magazine. If you are a scientist who follows such variations, you would know that over the course of the past several decades, the ocean-land system of Antarctica has been experiencing a growth in the amount of snow and ice. The lies the environmental movement has put forth over the last few decades can and does fill entire libraries. They have been aided and abetted by the mainstream media that knows that scary news sells newspapers and attracts views and listeners.

Spring is right around the corner as I write and I guarantee you that billions of insect and rodent pests are about to debut once more to plague homeowners, apartment dwellers, and everyone else. It's a good time to keep the phone number of your local pest management firm on the speed dial.


The government looks set to provoke another damaging row with the European Commission over greenhouse gas emissions by deliberately missing the deadline for allocating emissions allowances to British businesses. Under the terms of the European Union's emissions trading scheme, all member states must submit drafts of their "national allocation plans", detailing the amount of carbon dioxide they propose to allow businesses to emit, for the second phase of the scheme by the end of June. The first phase of the scheme began in 2005, while the second will run from 2008 to 2012.

But the government said that it would miss the June deadline, submitting the plan later in the summer instead. This will infuriate the Commission, which is at loggerheads with London over the government's attempt to raise the amount of carbon dioxide British businesses could emit under the first phase of the scheme. Brussels is demanding that governments submit their plans by June to give enough time to complete its assessment by mid-2007, since the next trading period will start in 2008. It says that such a timetable must be kept, given that it took a year to assess the original plans. A spokeswoman for Stavros Dimas, the EU's environment commissioner, pointed out that Brussels launched legal proceedings against the countries that missed the deadlines for the first national plans. The Commission is concerned that other member states will try to bend the rules for the scheme if the UK succeeds in doing so.

The government is believed to want to submit its draft allocation plan after other member states because of a perception that Britain was disadvantaged in the first phase of the scheme when it was first to submit its plan, with a tight limit on emissions. Other member states then submitted their plans with looser limits on greenhouse gases than the UK's. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "Following public consultation, we aim to submit a [national allocation plan] to the Commission in the latter part of the summer in time to meet the deadline for the final installation-level allocations by December 31 2006."

More here


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

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

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


15 March, 2006

Greenhouse theory smashed by biggest stone

The Tungushka object, not human emissions, caused the slight 20th century warming

A new theory to explain global warming was revealed at a meeting at the University of Leicester (UK) and is being considered for publication in the journal "Science First Hand". The controversial theory has nothing to do with burning fossil fuels and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. According to Vladimir Shaidurov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the apparent rise in average global temperature recorded by scientists over the last hundred years or so could be due to atmospheric changes that are not connected to human emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of natural gas and oil.

Shaidurov explained how changes in the amount of ice crystals at high altitude could damage the layer of thin, high altitude clouds found in the mesosphere that reduce the amount of warming solar radiation reaching the earth's surface.

Shaidurov has used a detailed analysis of the mean temperature change by year for the last 140 years and explains that there was a slight decrease in temperature until the early twentieth century. This flies in the face of current global warming theories that blame a rise in temperature on rising carbon dioxide emissions since the start of the industrial revolution. Shaidurov, however, suggests that the rise, which began between 1906 and 1909, could have had a very different cause, which he believes was the massive Tunguska Event, which rocked a remote part of Siberia, northwest of Lake Baikal on the 30th June 1908.

The Tunguska Event, sometimes known as the Tungus Meteorite is thought to have resulted from an asteroid or comet entering the earth's atmosphere and exploding. The event released as much energy as fifteen one-megaton atomic bombs. As well as blasting an enormous amount of dust into the atmosphere, felling 60 million trees over an area of more than 2000 square kilometres. Shaidurov suggests that this explosion would have caused "considerable stirring of the high layers of atmosphere and change its structure." Such meteoric disruption was the trigger for the subsequent rise in global temperatures.

Global warming is thought to be caused by the "greenhouse effect". Energy from the sun reaches the earth's surface and warms it, without the greenhouse effect most of this energy is then lost as the heat radiates back into space. However, the presence of so-called greenhouse gases at high altitude absorb much of this energy and then radiate a proportion back towards the earth's surface. Causing temperatures to rise.

Many natural gases and some of those released by conventional power stations, vehicle and aircraft exhausts act as greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide, natural gas, or methane, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are all potent greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide and methane are found naturally in the atmosphere, but it is the gradual rise in levels of these gases since the industrial revolution, and in particular the beginning of the twentieth century, that scientists have blamed for the gradual rise in recorded global temperature. Attempts to reverse global warming, such as the Kyoto Protocol, have centred on controlling and even reducing CO2 emissions.

However, the most potent greenhouse gas is water, explains Shaidurov and it is this compound on which his study focuses. According to Shaidurov, only small changes in the atmospheric levels of water, in the form of vapour and ice crystals can contribute to significant changes to the temperature of the earth's surface, which far outweighs the effects of carbon dioxide and other gases released by human activities. Just a rise of 1% of water vapour could raise the global average temperature of Earth's surface more then 4 degrees Celsius.

The role of water vapour in controlling our planet's temperature was hinted at almost 150 years ago by Irish scientist John Tyndall. Tyndall, who also provided an explanation as to why the sky is blue, explained the problem: "The strongest radiant heat absorber, is the most important gas controlling Earth's temperature. Without water vapour, he wrote, the Earth's surface would be 'held fast in the iron grip of frost'." Thin clouds at high altitude allow sunlight to reach the earth's surface, but reflect back radiated heat, acting as an insulating greenhouse layer.

Water vapour levels are even less within our control than CO levels. According to Andrew E. Dessler of the Texas A & M University writing in 'The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change', "Human activities do not control all greenhouse gases, however. The most powerful greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is water vapour, he says, "Human activities have little direct control over its atmospheric abundance, which is controlled instead by the worldwide balance between evaporation from the oceans and precipitation."

As such, Shaidurov has concluded that only an enormous natural phenomenon, such as an asteroid or comet impact or airburst, could seriously disturb atmospheric water levels, destroying persistent so-called 'silver', or noctilucent, clouds composed of ice crystals in the high altitude mesosphere (50 to 85km). The Tunguska Event was just such an event, and coincides with the period of time during which global temperatures appear to have been rising the most steadily - the twentieth century. There are many hypothetical mechanisms of how this mesosphere catastrophe might have occurred, and future research is needed to provide a definitive answer.

This story was originally here: but was quickly taken down. I commented on the suppression of this story yesterday. The Abstract and a link to the original scientific paper is given below:

Atmospheric hypotheses of earth's global warming

From: arxiv, 6 March 2005

By Vladimir Shaidurov


Two hypotheses are presented, outlining a new cause for global warming. We propose that the crucial factor in global warming is the amount and position of water vapour through the atmosphere. The purpose of this report is to open the debate and to encourage discussion among scientists.

Crackdown on animal-rights activists hasn't slowed them

New Jersey guilty verdict puts focus on extremists' tactics that Congress is trying to curb

Animal-rights activists around the country - at least the most extreme - are becoming increasingly militant. And law enforcement officials and lawmakers are stepping up efforts to combat those who break the law. These interconnected trends came to a head in New Jersey last week when an animal rights group and six of its members were convicted of inciting violence in their campaign to shut down a company that uses animals to test drugs and other consumer products. The group, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC), claims its actions constitute free speech. But federal prosecutors and the jury in a Trenton, N.J., courtroom called it harassment, stalking, and conspiracy - the first such conviction under the 1992 Animal Enterprise Protection Act. The lab, Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), the largest of its kind in the world, is based in Britain and New Jersey.

Antivivisectionists and other animal-rights proponents have been organized in the US since at least the mid-19th century. But recently, their most extreme members have become more aggressive. Much of the focus for animal-rights supporters is on companies that produce animal products (mainly meat and fur). In their sights, too, are universities, hospitals, and other institutions that kill animals for medical research or product development. And they have been targeting anyone who does business with animal testers - financial institutions, contractors, and service providers, some with only a tenuous connection. Activists' tactics include vandalism, personal warnings by e-mail and phone message, and other threats directed at family members - what's called "tertiary targeting."

"There really isn't a week that goes by that I don't hear about an incident," says Jacquie Calnan, president of Americans for Medical Progress in Alexandria, Va., which represents universities, pharmaceutical and biomedical corporations, and research organizations.

Most of those engaged in medical science say animal testing is crucial to find cures for disease and new devices meant to keep people healthy. "Virtually every human being in the country has benefited from animal research," says John Young, a lab animal veterinarian and director of comparative medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. For example, recent research (including the human genome project) established that mice and humans are virtually identical in their genetic makeup. Specially bred mice are used to investigate ways to treat human diseases.

US research facilities use more than 1 million animals every year: dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, monkeys, sheep, and other farm animals. Add in mice and rats (more than 90 percent of all lab animals), and the total jumps to nearly 30 million, according to the US Department of Agriculture. While most such animals eventually are killed, supporters of such research say avoiding animal suffering is a major consideration in their work. "I don't know of a scientist or veterinarian who is not committed to the welfare of the animals," says Dr. Young.

Members of SHAC, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), strongly disagree. In some cases, they've infiltrated research labs to produce photos and videos that show otherwise. "It's clear that if you look at the science we have much better ways of testing drugs to see whether they're going to be toxic or helpful in human beings," says Jerry Vlasak, a trauma surgeon in Canoga Park, Calif. "Unfortunately ... the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] is still requiring animal testing, but they're way behind the science on this issue," says Dr. Vlasak, who's also a spokesman for radical animal rights activists that often announce their "direct actions" anonymously. "The scientific alternatives are out there."

That's a minority view in the medical community, and it is one that many lawmakers oppose. Members of the US House and Senate are sponsoring the "Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act." It would toughen the 1992 Animal Enterprise Protection Act by imposing penalties for veiled threats to individuals and families, economic disruption or damage, and "tertiary targeting."

Along with the recent indictment of ALF activists charged with arson and other crimes in Oregon and other parts of the West, the convictions in New Jersey are a setback for extremist animal-rights activists. Still, the crackdown by the FBI and other police agencies has not slowed activists' efforts. One anonymous group just launched a website listing the home addresses of 2,000 employees from 30 companies doing business with Huntingdon Life Sciences. "From CEOs to lowly sales reps, from Alabama to Hawaii, we've sniffed them out," activists are told. "Visit them often, and make the message clear: when you contract with HLS... you get us


By Richard S. Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, March 2006



The issue of man induced climate change involves not the likelihood of dangerous consequences, but rather their remote possibility. The main areas of widespread agreement (namely that global mean temperature has risen rather irregularly about 0.6C over the past century, that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have increased about 30% over the past century, and that carbon dioxide by virtue of its infrared absorption bands should contribute to warming) do not imply dangerous warming. Indeed, we know that doubling carbon dioxide should lead to a heating of about 3.7 watts per square meter, and that man made greenhouse heating is already about 2.7 watts per square meter. Thus, we have seen less warming than would be predicted by any model showing more than about 0.8 degrees C warming for a doubling of carbon dioxide. This is consistent with independent identifications of negative feedbacks.

Alarming scenarios, on the other hand, are typically produced by models predicting 4 degrees C. After the fact, such models can only be made to simulate the observed warming by including numerous unknown factors which are chosen to cancel most of the warming to the present, while assuming that such cancellation will soon disappear.

Alarm is further promoted by such things as claiming that a warmer world will be stormier even though basic theory, observations, and even model outputs point to the opposite.

With respect to Kyoto, it is generally agreed that Kyoto will do virtually nothing about climate no matter what is assumed. Given that projected increases in carbon dioxide will only add incrementally to the greenhouse warming already present, it seems foolish to speak of avoiding dangerous thresholds. If one is concerned, the approach almost certainly is to maximize adaptability.


After spending years describing the physics of climate to audiences concerned with global warming, I came to the realization that I was speaking to people who were not aware of the basic premises of the issue. The listeners were typically under the impression that the case for climate alarm was self-evident and strong, and that concern for the underlying physics constituted simply nit-picking in order to see if there were any remotely possible chinks in the otherwise solid case. Given that most people (including scientists) can rarely follow 15 minute discussions of somewhat complex science, the conclusion of the listeners is that the objections are too obscure to challenge their basic prejudice.

I decided, therefore, to examine why people believed what they believed. What I found was that they had been presented mainly three claims for which widespread scientific agreement existed. While these claims may be contested, they are indeed widely accepted.

The only problem is that these claims do not suggest alarm. Rather, upon careful analysis, they make clear that catastrophic implications are grossly unlikely, but cannot be rigorously disproved. Thus, the real situation is that the supporters of alarm are the real skeptics who cling to alarm against widely accepted findings. The profound confusion pertaining to this situation is only reinforced by quibbling over the basic points of agreement. Such quibbling merely convinces the public that the basic points of agreement must be tantamount to support for alarm. We will begin by analyzing the popular consensus.


In a recent set of articles in the New Yorker, which defend climate alarmism, Elizabeth Kolbert presented a fairly good summary of the popular consensus:

All that the theory of global warming says is that if you increase the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, you will also increase the earth's average temperature. It's indisputable that we have increased greenhouse-gas concentrations in the air as a result of human activity, and it's also indisputable that over the last few decades average global temperatures have gone up.

To be sure, this statement makes the logical error of ignoring other sources of climate change or the ubiquitously changing nature of climate. However, strictly speaking, the statement is not wrong. A briefer summary was provided by Tony Blair:

The overwhelming view of experts is that climate change, to a greater or lesser extent, is man-made, and, without action, will get worse.

Of course, this statement is too brief to actually mean much, but, given that climate change is always occurring, it is implausible to argue that all change is for the worse. Certainly, North America and northern Europe are much more pleasant without 2 km of ice cover.

How have such anodyne statements become the mantra for alarmism? Let us break up these points of agreement so as to be able to better examine this question. Let us also begin introducing all-important numbers into the claims.

1. The global mean surface temperature is always changing. Over the past 60 years, it has both decreased and increased. For the past century, it has probably increased by about 0.6 ~0.15 degrees Centigrade (C). That is to say, we have had some global mean warming.

2. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and its increase should contribute to warming. It is, in fact, increasing, and a doubling would increase the greenhouse effect (mainly due to water vapor and clouds) by about 2%.

3. There is good evidence that man has been responsible for the recent increase in CO2, though climate itself (as well as other natural phenomena) can also cause changes in CO2. Let us refer to the above as the basic agreement. Consensus generally refers to these three relatively trivial points.



So where does all this leave us? First, I would emphasize that the basic agreement frequently described as representing scientific unanimity concerning global warming is entirely consistent with there being virtually no problem at all. Indeed, the observations most simply suggest that the sensitivity of the real climate is much less than found in models whose sensitivity depends on processes which are clearly misrepresented (through both ignorance and computational limitations). Attempts to assess climate sensitivity by direct observation of cloud processes, and other means, which avoid dependence on models, support the conclusion that the sensitivity is low. More precisely, what is known points to the conclusion that a doubling of CO2 would lead to about 0.5C warming or less, and a quadrupling (should it ever occur) to no more than about 1C. Neither would constitute a particular societal challenge. Nor would such (or even greater) warming likely be associated with discernibly more storminess, a greater range of extremes, etc.

Second, a significant part of the scientific community appears committed to the maintenance of the notion that alarm may be warranted. Alarm is felt to be essential to the maintenance of funding. The argument is no longer over whether the models are correct (they are not), but rather whether their results are at all possible. Alas, it is impossible to prove something is impossible.

As you can see, the global warming issue parts company with normative science at a pretty early stage. A very good indicator of this disconnect is the fact that there is widespread and even rigorous scientific agreement that complete adherence to the Kyoto Agreement would have no discernible impact on climate. This clearly is of no importance to the thousands of negotiators, diplomats, regulators, general purpose bureaucrats and advocates attached to this issue.

At the heart of this issue there is one last matter: namely, the misuse of language. George Orwell wrote that language "becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." There can be little doubt that the language used to convey alarm has been sloppy at best. Unfortunately, much of the sloppiness seems to be intentional.

A question rarely asked, but nonetheless important, is whether the promotion of alarmism is really good for science? The situation may not be so remote from the impact of Lysenkoism on Soviet genetics. However, personally, I think the future will view the response of contemporary society to 'global warming' as simply another example of the appropriateness of the fable of the Emperor's New Clothes. For the sake of the science, I hope that future arrives soon.


(Article by Nigel Lawson. Lord Lawson is a member of the economic affairs committee of the House of Lords, which last year conducted an inquiry into, and published a report on, the economics of climate change. The article is a long one because Lord Lawson covers all the bases. I have reproduced it in full below because it is broken up into 6 pieces in its original form, which makes it very hard to scan)

There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is generally adopted. --Schopenhauer

Next week marks the deadline that has been set for reactions to the less than satisfactory discussion paper that has emerged from the government's belated review of the important issue of the economics of climate change. It is important for David Cameron [Tory leader], too. For, while rightly giving the environment a high priority, he is in danger, over this issue, of making commitments which, in government, he would find it extremely damaging to honour.

Crucial though the economics of climate change is, the starting point clearly has to be the science. I readily admit that I am not a scientist myself; but then the vast majority of those who pronounce with far greater certainty than I shall on this aspect of the issue are not scientists either; and the vast majority of those scientists who speak with great certainty and apparent authority about climate change are not in fact climate scientists at all.

We know for certain only two things. The first is a matter of history rather more than science: namely, that since about 1860, when accurate temperature records were first collected on a comprehensive basis, northern hemisphere temperatures have risen by about 0.6 degrees Celsius ; and that this coincides with a steady growth in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, a significant part of which is a consequence of industrial and other man-made emissions.

The second is that our planet is kept from being too cold for life as we know it to survive by the so-called greenhouse effect, which traps some of the heat from the sun's rays. This is overwhelmingly - somewhere between 75 and 95 per cent - caused by clouds and other forms of water vapour; and the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere accounts for most of the remainder. But so great is the uncertainty of climate science that it is impossible to say - and it is hotly disputed - how much of the modest warming that has been experienced since 1860 is due to the man-made increase in carbon dioxide.

The United Nations intergovernmental panel on climate change (usually known as the IPCC) has produced immensely complex computerised models which generate a specific temperature rise for any projected increase in carbon dioxide emissions; but of course the outcomes simply reflect the assumptions implicit in the models, and it is these assumptions that are inevitably highly speculative. The IPCC models assume that the recorded warming during the 20th century was entirely caused by man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, of which carbon dioxide is clearly the most important.

This may be true; but equally it may not be. There are, for example, climate scientists who believe that the principal cause has been land-use changes, in particular urbanisation (the so-called urban heat island effect) and to some extent forest clearance for farming. But much more important is the fact that the Earth's climate has always been subject to natural variation, nothing to do with man's activities. Again, climate scientists differ about the causes of this, although most agree that variations in solar radiation play a key part.

It is well established, for example, that a thousand years ago, well before industrialisation, there was what has become known as the mediaeval warm period, when temperatures were probably almost as high as, if not higher than, they are today. Going back even further, during the Roman empire, it was even warmer - so much so that the Romans were able to produce drinkable wine in the north of England. More recently, during the 17th and early 18th centuries, there was what has become known as the little ice age, when the Thames was regularly frozen over in winter, and substantial ice fairs held on the frozen river became a popular attraction.

Even during the period since 1860, for which we have accurate temperature records, the picture is complicated. While the amount of man-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has, since the industrial revolution, steadily increased, the corresponding temperature record is more cyclical, displaying four distinct phases.

Between 1860 and 1915 there was virtually no change in northern hemisphere temperatures. Between 1915 and 1945 there was a rise of about 0.4 degrees Celsius . Between 1945 and 1965 the temperature fell by about 0.2 degrees Celsius - and alarmist articles by Professor James Lovelock and others began to appear, warning about the prospect of a new ice age. Finally, between 1965 and 2000 there was a further increase of about 0.4 degrees Celsius , thus arriving at the overall increase of 0.6 degrees Celsius over the 20th century as a whole. Although, so far this century, there has been nothing to match the high temperature recorded in 1998, it would be rash to assume that this latest upward phase has ended.

At first sight, this might suggest a considerable natural variability, and thus inherent unpredictability. The official IPCC story, however, which is incorporated into its model, is that, before 1965, power stations (largely coal-fired) emitted large amounts of sulphur, producing sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere, which had a cooling effect - by dimming the sun's rays - that more than offset the warming effect of the carbon dioxide. Since 1965, it is claimed, when the industrialised West took steps to prevent this pollution, the carbon dioxide effect has reigned supreme.

Again, this may be so - or it may not be. Certainly, it makes it even harder to explain as man-made the 0.4 degrees Celsius increase in temperature between 1915 and 1945, when power station emissions were as dirty as they have ever been. So much for the science.

But the IPCC's scenarios - which incidentally it insists are not forecasts, although it must be well aware that that is how they were bound to be interpreted - showing a rise in global temperatures of between 1 degrees Celsius and 6 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, derive not only from the speculative assumption that the increase which has already degrees Celsius curred is entirely due to the rise in man-made carbon dioxide emissions. They also depend crucially on the IPCC's assumptions about how much these emissions will, on a business-as-usual basis, rise further between now and the end of this century. And this is a matter of economics rather than science.

Two economic assumptions are of particular importance. These are, first, the rate of world economic growth between now and the end of this century; and, second, the energy intensity of that growth.

The IPCC's various scenarios assume a rate of world economic growth over the whole of this century of between 2.2 per cent and 3 per cent a year. History would suggest that, while perfectly possible, this is somewhat on the optimistic side. Even more optimistic is the way in which these overall world growth rates are assumed to be composed. Essentially, they are derived from assuming a very high rate of growth in the developing world as a whole over the next 100 years, with the result that living standards in terms of GDP per head steadily converge with those of the developed world by the year 2100.

In other words, living standards throughout the developing world, in all the IPCC scenarios, are projected to be, by 2100, substantially higher than they are in Europe and the United States today. This may happen - indeed I hope it will, and it should certainly cheer up those who might otherwise be depressed by the climate alarmists - but it is clear that the IPCC's scenarios fail to capture the realistic range of possibilities.

As to the IPCC's projections of the rate of growth of carbon dioxide emissions which these rates of economic growth may be expected to generate, the position is even more perplexing. Over the past 30 years the annual growth in world carbon dioxide emissions has been roughly half the rate of growth of the economy as a whole, and within those 30 years the energy intensity of growth has been steadily declining.

This is hardly surprising. In the first place, economic progress is a story of increasing efficiency in the use of all factors of production. In the case of labour, this is customarily referred to as growth in productivity; but precisely the same applies to energy. Secondly, the pattern of world economic growth has been changing, with services, which are less energy-intensive, growing faster than manufacturing, which is more so.

What is surprising, however, is that every one of the IPCC's scenarios for the 21st century assume, without offering any evidence, that this trend will now be abruptly reversed, and that as a result the growth in carbon emissions per unit of output will be significantly greater than in the recent past. It is clear, to say the least, that the IPCC scenarios do not capture the true range of plausible futures.

Thus there is a pronounced upward bias in its emissions scenarios, which of course feeds directly into a pronounced upward bias in projected climate change. And that is assuming, as the IPCC does, that the whole of the 0.6 degrees Celsius warming that degrees Celsius curred during the 20th century was attributable to man-made emissions - which, as we have seen, is itself distinctly uncertain.

Does all this mean that we can forget about the threat of climate change altogether? I do not believe that would be wise, not least because natural climate variations are likely to continue to degrees Celsius cur, irrespective of human actions. But what it does mean is that we need to stand back and think more rationally about the most cost-effective form of insurance policy to take out against a supposed man-made threat which is both less certain and less urgent than is commonly supposed, but which, together with natural variation, cannot altogether be dismissed as a threat.

It is clear that the present approach, under which the industrialised countries of the world agree to somewhat arbitrarily assigned fixed limits to their carbon dioxide emissions by a specified date - the so-called Kyoto system - is the most expensive and least rational insurance policy, and that the sooner it is abandoned the better.

Even its strongest advocates admit that, even if fully implemented (which it is now clear it will not be), the existing Kyoto agreement, which came into force last year and expires in 2012, would do virtually nothing to reduce future rates of global warming. Its importance, in its advdegrees Celsius ates' eyes, is as the first step towards further such agreements of a considerably more restrictive nature. But this is wholly unrealistic, and fundamentally flawed for a number of reasons. In the first place, the United States, the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, has refused to ratify the treaty and has made clear its intention of having no part in any similar future agreements. And if anyone should imagine that this is simply an eccentricity of the present Bush administration, it is worth recalling that, during the Clinton presidency, the US Senate voted by an eloquent majority of 95 to 0 against ratifying Kyoto.

In the second place, the developing countries - including such major contributors to future carbon dioxide emissions as China, India and Brazil - are effectively outside the prdegrees Celsius ess and determined to remain so. It is this that has led to the creation of the so-called `Asia-Pacific partnership on clean development and climate', a counter-Kyoto grouping of the United States, China, India, Australia, Japan and South Korea, which held its inaugural meeting earlier this year.

The developing countries' argument is a simple one. They contend that the industrialised countries of the Western world achieved their prosperity on the basis of cheap carbon-based energy; and that it is now the turn of the poor developing countries to emulate them. And they add that if there is a problem now of excessive carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere, it is the responsibility of those who caused it to remedy it.

Be that as it may, the consequences are immense. China alone last year embarked on a programme of building 562 large coal-fired power stations by 2012 - that is, a new coal-fired power station every five days for seven years. Since coal-fired power stations emit roughly twice as much carbon dioxide per gigawatt of electricity as gas-fired ones, it is not surprising that it is generally accepted that within the next 20 years China will overtake the United States as the largest source of emissions. India, which like China has substantial indigenous coal reserves, is set to follow a similar path, as is Brazil.

Then there is the cost of the Kyoto approach to consider. The logic of Kyoto is to make emissions permits sufficiently scarce to raise their price to the point where carbon-based energy is so expensive that carbon-free energy sources, and other carbon-saving measures, become fully economic. This clearly involves a very much greater rise in energy prices than anything we have yet seen. There must be considerable doubt whether this is politically sustainable - particularly when the economic cost, in terms of slower economic growth, would be substantial.

In reality, if the Kyoto approach were to be pursued beyond 2012, which is - fortunately - most unlikely, the price increase would in practice be mitigated in the global economy in which we now live. For as energy prices in Europe started to rise, with the prospect of further rises to come, energy-intensive industries and processes would progressively close down in Europe and relocate in countries like China, where relatively cheap energy was still available. No doubt Europe could, at some cost, adjust to this, as it has to the migration of most of its textile industry to China and elsewhere. But it is difficult to see the point of it. For if carbon dioxide emissions in Europe are reduced only for them to be further increased in China, there is no net reduction in global emissions at all. Indeed, given the nature of Chinese power generation, there might well be an increase.

So, if not Kyoto, what is the most sensible approach? Far and away the most cost-effective policy for the world to adopt is to identify the most harmful consequences that may flow from global warming and, if they start to occur, to take action to counter them. There are three reasons that this approach is the most cost-effective.

The first is that most of the likely harmful consequences of climate change are not new problems but simply the exacerbation of existing ones, so that addressing these will bring benefits even if there is no further global warming at all. The second reason is that, unlike tackling emissions, this approach will bring benefits whatever the cause of the warming, whether natural or man-made. And the third reason that this would be the most cost-effective way to prdegrees Celsius eed is that there are benefits as well as costs from global warming. Globally, the costs may well exceed the benefits - although here in northern Europe it is quite possible that, over the next 100 years, the benefits will exceed the costs - but it is clear that a policy of addressing directly the adverse effects enables us all to pdegrees Celsius ket the benefits while diminishing the costs.

What, then, are the principal adverse consequences of global warming? First and foremost, there is the problem of coastal flooding as sea levels rise. Sea levels have in fact been rising very gradually for as long as records exist, and even the IPCC admits that there is little sign of any acceleration. But it could happen, and there is a clear case for government money to be spent on improving sea defences in low-lying coastal areas. The Dutch, after all, have been doing this very effectively for 500 years. The governments of the richer countries can do it for themselves; but in the case of the poorer countries, such as Bangladesh, there is an obvious argument for international assistance.

A second identified cost of global warming is damage to agriculture and food production as the climate changes. This is almost certainly exaggerated in the IPCC studies, which assume that farmers carry on much as before - the so-called `dumb farmer' hypothesis. In reality they would adapt by switching to strains or crops better suited to warmer climates, and indeed by cultivating areas which have hitherto been too cold to be economic; so little government action would be required.

A third alleged threat from climate change is that of water shortage. In fact, the volume of water flowing down the world's rivers has increased over the 20th century as a whole. But in any event, there is massive wastage of water at present, and clearly ample scope for water conservation measures, including in particular the pricing of water - which would also help on the farming front.

Addressing these specific consequences is not only far and away the most cost-effective approach to global warming: it also buys time. Time to learn to understand better the highly uncertain science of climate change; and time to allow technology to develop more economic sources of low-carbon energy than we have now. And on precautionary grounds it may be sensible for governments to use this time to encourage both low-carbon technological development and its diffusion.

It has to be said that this is not an easy message to get across, not least because climate change is so often discussed in terms of belief rather than reason. It is, I suspect, no accident that it is in Europe that climate change absolutism has found the most fertile soil. For it is Europe that has become the most secular society in the world, where the traditional religions have the weakest popular hold. Yet people still feel the need for the comfort and higher values that religion can provide; and it is the quasi-religion of green alarmism and what has been termed global salvationism - of which the climate change issue is the most striking example, but by no means the only one - which has filled the vacuum, with reasoned questioning of its mantras regarded as a form of blasphemy. But that can be no basis for rational policy-making.

From The Spectator, 11 March 2006


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

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

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


14 March, 2006

Long-maligned oil platforms a haven for overfished species

Marine biologist Milton Love drives a hybrid car, displays a banner of leftist icon Che Guevara on his laboratory wall - and has backing from big oil. The reason is his finding that long-maligned oil platforms off California's Central Coast may be a haven for overfished stocks of groundfish. The research is good news to oil executives, who are looking for reasons not to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to remove the platforms once the oil stops flowing.

Environmentalists say oil companies are hiding behind fish to escape their obligation to remove the rigs. "Just because fish are there doesn't mean the platform constitutes habitat," [Huh?? What is habitat, then?] said Linda Krop, an attorney for the Santa Barbara-based Environmental Defense Center. "That's like taking a picture of birds on a telephone wire and saying it's essential habitat."

The 27 platforms - skeletal-looking structures that house dormitories, offices and massive pumps - were installed over the last four decades and now produce 72,000 barrels of oil daily. Environmentalists and coastal residents despise them for disrupting the ocean's natural ecology and otherwise flawless coastal views. Federal law requires oil companies to remove the platforms when operations are complete, though no one knows whether it will be years or decades before deposits under the sea floor run out.

Oil companies already are pressing state and federal officials to keep the rigs in place, citing Love's finding that platforms provide homes for bocaccio, cowcod and other fish. Love said many fish adopt platforms because they can't reach decimated natural reefs where they once thrived.

Claims that platforms help fish haven't convinced federal officials. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday it might eventually consider letting platforms remain as fish habitat, but wanted to know more about their effects on marine life. Since the 1950s, when heavy fishing began in the region, some species have been reduced to 6 percent of their previous numbers, according to Love. Overfishing has led to an economic disaster, leading some fisheries to close and causing the groundfish fleet to shrink by a third.

If the platforms were removed, environmentalists contend, fish would return to the natural reefs that hug Southern California's coast: boulder fields and low-lying, rocky outcroppings that can host sponges and other invertebrates.

Love, a UC Santa Barbara researcher, films fish in a submarine that hums around the platforms and then counts them in his lab. His findings: Large fish prefer crevices at the platforms' base, while smaller ones like the middle section above their predators. At Platform Gail, which stands in 739 feet of water nine miles off the Ventura coast, Love found what he believes to be the highest density of two species of overfished rockfish in Southern California. Love stresses that his research doesn't draw conclusions about whether the platforms should be removed. What's irrefutable, he says, is that some platforms are surrounded with fish packed as tightly as "cocktail wieners in a can." "If anyone wants to come up and count the fish, we'll provide the first beer," says Love. "But they're going to have to bring the rest. And they're going to need a few cases because we have 11 years of research."

Love gets about 80 percent of his research money from the government, and the rest from the California Artificial Reef Enhancement Program, a Sacramento nonprofit group funded almost entirely by oil companies. The group has contributed about $100,000 a year to Love's research since 1999, executive director George Steinbach said. Love says no amount of oil industry money can sway his research - fish either cluster at the platforms or they don't. And because they do, his personal view is that the rigs should stay in place, cut below the waterline so that ships can pass safely over them. "It's immoral to kill large numbers of animals anywhere on earth, and if you remove a platform you'll kill many millions of animals," he says.

Proposals to keep the platforms are modeled on programs in the Gulf of Mexico, where more than 200 rigs have been converted into artificial reefs either by toppling them or by cutting them below the waterline.

Krop, the environmental lawyer, says rig-to-reef conversions make more sense in the Gulf of Mexico because the waters there have a mud bottom, not natural reefs. Converting platforms between Long Beach and Point Conception north of Santa Barbara could be $600 million to $1 billion cheaper than removing them, Steinbach said. In exchange for letting the rigs stay, Steinbach said, oil companies would contribute up to half their savings to state conservation programs. Widespread opposition from environmentalists and residents has killed legislation that would have allowed such a deal


Environmentalist View of Easter Island Disaster All Wrong, Researchers Say

This new paper by two anthropologists agrees with last year's paper by anthropologist Benny Peiser and debunks imaginative physiologist Jared Diamond

The first settlers on Easter Island didn't arrive until 1200 AD, up to 800 years later than previously thought, a new study suggests. The revised estimate is based on new radiocarbon dating of soil samples collected from one of oldest known sites on the island, which is in the South Pacific west of Chile.

The finding challenges the widely held notion that Easter Island's civilization experienced a sudden collapse after centuries of slow growth. If correct, the finding would mean that the island's irreversible deforestation and construction of its famous Moai statues began almost immediately after Polynesian settlers first set foot on the island.

The study, conducted by Terry Hunt of the University of Hawaii, Manoa and Carl Lipo of California State University, Long Beach, is detailed today in the online version of the journal Science.

The conventional story [As per Jared Diamond]:

According to one widely held view, a small band of Polynesian settlers, perhaps no more than a few dozen people, arrived on the Easter Island sometime between 400 and 1000 AD. The settlers lived in harmony with the environment for hundreds of years and the population slowly grew. Some scientists estimate that at its height, Easter Island's population may have been as much as 20,000 people. Around 1200 AD, the story goes, the inhabitants began cutting down the island's subtropical trees and giant palms in large numbers to build canoes and to transport the giant stone statues, which started going up around this time.

The large-scale deforestation led to soil erosion and over a span of several centuries, the island's ability to support wildlife and farming was compromised. People began to starve. In a last ditch effort at survival, they became cannibals.

The collapse of both the island's ecology and civilization was so complete that by the time the Dutch arrived in the 1700s, Easter Island was a sandy grassland void of nearly all its native wildlife; its human inhabitants were reduced to a starving population of 3,000 or less. This is the story pieced together by researchers over the past several decades, but Hunt and Lipo think it is wrong.

No Garden of Eden:

Crucial to the conventional account of events on Easter Island is the time when settlers first arrived. If colonization didn't begin until 1200 AD, then the island's population wouldn't have had time to swell to tens of thousands of people. "You don't have this Garden of Eden period for 400 to 800 years," Hunt said in an accompanying Science article. "Instead, [humans] have an immediate impact."

Also, the few thousand people Europeans encountered when they first arrived on Easter Island might not have been the remnants of a once great and populous civilization as widely believed. The researchers think a few thousand people might have been all the island was ever able to support. "There may not have actually been any collapse," Lipo told LiveScience. "With only 500 years, there's no reason to believe there had to have been a huge [population] growth."

Europeans and rats to blame:

The researchers also dispute the claim that Easter Island's human inhabitants were responsible for their own demise. Instead, they think the culprits may have been Europeans, who brought disease and took islanders away as slaves, and rats, which quickly multiplied after arriving with the first Polynesian settlers. "The collapse was really a function of European disease being introduced," Lipo said. "The story that's been told about these populations going crazy and creating their own demise may just be simply an artifact of [Christian] missionaries telling stories."

At a scientific meeting last year, Hunt presented evidence that the island's rat population spiked to 20 million from the years 1200 to 1300. Rats had no predators on the island other than humans and they would have made quick work of the island's palm seeds. After the trees were gone, the island's rat population dropped off to a mere one million.

Lipo thinks the story of Easter Island's civilization being responsible for its own demise might better reflect the psychological baggage of our own society than the archeological evidence. "It fits our 20th century view of us as ecological monsters," Lipo said. "There's no doubt that we do terrible things ecologically, but we're passing that on to the past, which may not have actually been the case. To stick our plight onto them is unfair."


Below are excerpts from the actual paper summarized above:

Late Colonization of Easter Island

By Terry L. Hunt and Carl P. Lipo

Department of Anthropology, University of Hawai'i-Manoa
Department of Anthropology and IIRMES, California State University Long Beach

Abstract: Easter Island (Rapa Nui) provides a model of human-induced environmental degradation. A reliable chronology is central to understanding the cultural, ecological, and demographic processes involved. Radiocarbon dates for the earliest stratigraphic layers at Anakena, Easter Island, and analysis of previous radiocarbon dates imply that the island was colonized late, about 1200 AD. Significant ecological impacts and major cultural investments in monumental architecture and statuary thus began soon after initial settlement.


Our analysis and dates for Rapa Nui imply that colonists arrived around AD 1200. The founding Polynesian population then grew rapidly, had immediate, major, and visible impacts on the island's biota and physical landscape, and began investing in monumental architecture and statuary within the first century or two of settlement. Although still poorly dated, monumental architecture and statuary are known from islands such as the Societies, Marquesas, and Austral Islands perhaps as early as AD 1200. Nearly immediate building of monuments, carving giant statues, and transporting them to every corner of the island may have been cultural investments, homologous to forms elsewhere in eastern Polynesia, that mediated against over-population and resource shortfalls in an unpredictable environment. Such a model would help to explain the success of ancient Polynesians on tiny, remote Rapa Nui. Demographic and cultural collapse resulted from European contact beginning in AD 1722 with the devastating consequences of newly introduced Old World diseases to a non-immune Polynesian population.


A post by Lubos Motl, 8 March 2006 commenting on and explaining "Verification r2 revealed" in Climate Audit

As we discussed many times, the fundamental scientific statement that is used to justify various global policies to fight the so-called "global warming" is the conjecture that the warming in the 20th century is unprecedented. The primary experimental evidence is based on the reconstruction of temperatures in the past millenium.

We did not have thermometers 500 years ago. Instead, we must use "proxies" such as tree rings etc. The hypothesis behind this scheme is that a good estimate of the past temperatures can be obtained as a particular linear combination of vectors of numbers extracted from these proxies. You try to find the right linear combination that optimally reproduces the observed temperatures in the calibration period (probably something like 1850-2000) and then you extrapolate the same linear combination of the proxies to guess the temperatures in the past, before we had any thermometers.

Can this procedure be trusted? In order to answer this question, you need verification statistics, a certain kind of generalized correlation coefficients for multi-variable linear regression. Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick have shown in their papers - especially the latest paper in Geophysical Research Letters - that the statistical procedures used by Mann, Bradley, Hughes (MBH98, MBH99) in their "hockey stick" papers are flawed. Quantitatively, this fact shows up through very poor values of the R2 verification statistic.

Although a theoretical physicist would always prefer the R2 statistic, there also exist alternative formulae to quantify the quality of a "model", such as the RE statistic. In all cases, these numbers are between 0 and 1, with a value below 0.2 indicating a poor model. In previous climate papers, R2 was widely used. However, because it turns out that the R2 coefficient may be very low for various reconstructions, R2 suddenly became politically incorrect and some climate scientists even argue that it is "silly" to calculate R2 and only RE should be looked at because of something and especially because its values are higher.

Because Ross McKitrick and Steve McIntyre published a paper that has shown that the results of MBH are statistically insignificant and because the global warming and the hockey stick is a kind of dogma for a certain segment of the climate scientists, they have spent a significant portion of the last year or two by attempts to create and publish a paper that would invalidate the results of McKitrick and McIntyre. Otherwise, the state-of-the-art situation is that the hockey stick reconstruction has been proved to be an artifact of flawed statistical methods.

The paper of Ammann and Wahl could have become such a paper that could potentially save the most important part of the global warming theory. However, it turns out that according to Ammann and Wahl, the R2 verification coefficients for the early stages of the MBH paper are extremely low, just like McKitrick and McIntyre argued. The debate on that page attracted some people who are well educated in statistics. A typical interpretation of a low squared statistic combined with a higher RE statistic is that they deal with overfitting - the "model" for calculating the past temperature depends on too many variables. At any rate, the predictions can't be trusted. The RE statistic is spuriously high only due to self-correlations of the proxies in the calibration period.

It seems that once you analyze papers that were proposed as evidence for "extraordinary" warming in the 20th century, you will see that they are based on estimates of the temperature in the past millenium that look like worthless noise and guessing. You won't read these mathematical analyses in the media. Instead, the media will offer you irrational and hysterical whining of politicized scientists, politicians, and polar bears.

"Green" policies hurt Australia's State of Queensland

Instead of dammed rainwater, Queenslanders will now be getting unpalatable and possibly unhealthy water from underground. And water restrictions make it VERY hard for gardeners -- people whom you might (if you were foolish) think Greenies would be sympathetic to

The decision to scrap the Wolffdene Dam was "stupid" and Queenslanders are now paying the price with water restrictions, according to State Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg. In 1989, then-premier Mike Ahern decided to fast-track a $167 million-plus plan to build the Wolffdene Dam across the Albert River, south of Beenleigh, to serve the fast-growing population between Brisbane and the Gold Coast. But it would also have destroyed a stretch of the picturesque Albert Valley and inundated 1100 houses, forcing more than 3000 residents from their homes in the villages of Tamborine, Wolffdene, Luscombe and Cedar Creek.

Residents, backed by supporters from around the state, mounted one of the strongest and most effective protest campaigns in Queensland. The Labor Party backed the residents and newly-elected premier Wayne Goss scrapped the dam project in his first week in power.

Mr Springborg said the decision was short-sighted."It was one of the best sites in Queensland for a dam and it would have ensured there was ample water for south-east Queensland for generations to come." University of Queensland civil engineering Emeritus Professor Colin Apelt agrees. But he said the major mistake was made years earlier by the National Government in not restricting residential development in the area....

More here


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

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

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


13 March, 2006


I need someone to explain to me how this is consistent with global warming: A flight of American military aircraft were forced down onto the Greenland icecap by bad weather in 1942. Exactly 50 years later, some enthusiasts went back to salvage the downed aircraft. They succeeded. But where did they find the aircraft? Geographically, the aircraft were quite close to where they had landed. The icecap had not moved much. But they were under 268 feet of ice!

That sounds an awful lot like a thickening icecap to me, not a shrinking one! I certainly cannot see how the aircraft could have sunk down 268 feet into solid ice! It seems to me that the aircraft stayed right where they were while the snow fell and the icecap gradually grew over the top of them -- and grew not just a few feet thicker but 268 feet thicker!

I guess that the icecap could have melted away at the bottom as fast as it grew at the top but why would it do that and where would the water go? And how could it remain water under such freezing conditions?


Excerpts below from a Special Report in Nature 440, 136-137 (9 March 2006): "Church joins crusade over climate change". Also see below some information about Green Jihadist De Witt and his dubious theology.

Fire and brimstone are coming to the aid of US science, as evangelical scientists and their allies in the religious community embark on a battle against climate change. "The time has come...for destroying those who destroy the Earth," says Calvin DeWitt, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, quoting from the Scriptures. The Bible teaches stewardship of the planet, he says, which is partly why 86 prominent US evangelical Christians last month signed the 'Evangelical Climate Initiative' calling for mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions.

The movement began in 2000, when 50 evangelical scientists - including DeWitt - signed a statement calling for policy-makers to take steps towards reducing the threat of climate change. It is a rare move in the United States, where environmentalists and the religious community often find themselves in opposite camps. Climate activists hope the initiative will have the political clout to help sway President George W. Bush's administration towards mandatory emissions cuts. Bush has not signed up to the international Kyoto Protocol on regulating greenhouse gases. Instead, he is promoting clean-energy technologies through agreements such as the six-nation Asia-Pacific partnership. Yet many of Bush's core supporters are religious conservatives.

Evangelicals are a powerful social force in the United States, with the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) boasting 30 million members. 'Evangelical' is an umbrella term encompassing more than 50 denominations whose members typically believe in Jesus Christ and that the Bible is the authoritative word of God. The NAE has not officially endorsed the climate initiative, but many of the organization's leaders believe it represents a growing consensus that climate change is a matter for concern.

Climate researchers are watching the movement with optimism. Jim White, a University of Colorado geochemist who studies ice sheets in Greenland, says that it will almost certainly accelerate public support for action on climate change. "To have a group that has historically fought the notion come around - I think that does impact on the public's thinking," he says.

And it is this public support that some believe could influence conservative legislators. Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, based in Arlington, Virginia, says that the lack of significant public demand for action on climate has hampered acceptance by members of Congress. "So I think the evangelical initiative is welcomed by all," she adds.

John Houghton, a leader in the Christian environmental movement (see 'The man who preaches science' ), says the task is particularly hard in the United States. He lectures frequently to international audiences and says that, outside the United States, he rarely encounters resistance to the validity of climate-change science. But leaders of the initiative feel the science is now solid enough to convince even the unbelievers. "If there was not such an overwhelming scientific consensus, we probably wouldn't be able to get traction on this issue in our community," says Ball.

A union between evangelicals and scientists was only a matter of time, says DeWitt, who has written at length on "evangelical environmentalism". Raised in the Christian Reformed Church, he grew up believing that investigation of the natural world goes hand in hand with biblical theology. Not until he went to college did he become aware of the divide between the two communities. "We've built this illusion that we can talk about ourselves on the one hand and the environment on the other hand," says DeWitt.

For many evangelicals, the flashpoint was the growing realization that climate change could wreak its worst effects on the poorest countries, in the form of heat waves, floods and tropical diseases. Sea-level rise could immerse low-lying regions, and agricultural productivity could be sharply reduced in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa. More than ever, evangelicals are viewing their call to respond as a biblical and moral imperative. "It's a bigger question now," says DeWitt. "Do you really answer to the creator of Heaven and Earth?"

Benny Peiser comments:

"Nature's new friends openly call for violent action: "the time has come...for destroying those who destroy the Earth." What next? Burning heretics and climate sceptics at the stake? In light of the long and violent history of apocalyptic terror against unbelievers, it may only be a question of time when green fear-mongering turns to persecution and physical violence. Nobody should be surprised if Nature's new allies will turn against other sceptics on other issues of their fundamentalist agenda at some stage."

Lowdown on De Witt:

Calvin B. DeWitt, co-founder of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), is a professor of environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. DeWitt is also the Director of the Au Sable Institute for Environmental Studies, a Christian environmental stewardship institute in Michigan. The Institute's mission is to "bring healing and wholeness to the biosphere and the whole of Creation." Rounding out DeWitt's credentials is his role as president of the Christian Environmental Council.

DeWitt helped found the EEN in 1993. The EEN claims to be a coalition of mainstream evangelical leaders concerned about the environment. Closer examination of the EEN's connections reveal there is nothing mainstream about it: When the EEN launched a multi-million dollar public relations campaign in January 1996 to convince the American people that the Endangered Species Act is the "Noah's Ark of our day," it was the Washington, D.C.- based Fenton Communications that ran the group's media relations. Fenton Communications has long been a favorite of the far left: During the 1980's, for example, Fenton Communications had contracts with the Christic Institute and the communist governments of Angola and Nicaragua. It was Fenton that managed to talk CBS's "60 Minutes" into reporting as fact an unproven claim by the Natural Resources Defense Council that alar, a chemical used to ripen apples, was a serious cancer risk to children. Horrified parents across the nation quit purchasing apples as a result of the report.

But Fenton Communications isn't the EEN's only questionable association. The EEN's cost of ad production in defense of the Endangered Species Act was underwritten by the Environmental Information Center (EIC), which is a virtual "Who's Who" of liberal Democratic Party politics: Philip E. Clapp, the EIC's executive director, served as a member of the national steering committee of Environmentalists for Clinton-Gore; Mike Casey, the group's media relations director, came directly to the EIC from the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee; and staffer Arlie Schardt served as press secretary for Albert Gore's unsuccessful presidential bid. Board Members of the EIC include Francis C. Beineke of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Douglas Foy of the Conservation Law Foundation.

The EEN operates on a $200,000 annual budget out of the Philadelphia offices of Evangelicals for Social Action, another notoriously liberal "evangelical" counter group. One of EEN's key leaders is Ron Sider, who is president and founder of Evangelicals for Social Action. Sider is also one of the leaders of "Call to Renewal," a religious coalition established to counter the Christian Coalition. Sider was also an outspoken critic of the GOP's "Contract with America," telling Christianity Today that the GOP plans to "slash $380 billion from programs for the poor" while giving "$245 billion in tax cuts to the rich and middle class" -- a statement virtually indistinguishable from the White House line.

While Calvin DeWitt is a professor of environmental studies, he has few credentials as a biblical scholar. Yet DeWitt, it seems, has exploited the Scripture for political purposes. He has done so by quoting verses of Scripture out of their full context in order to promote his own political agenda. He has, for example, asserted that the Bible lays out a series of "stewardship principles." These principles, according to DeWitt, are the earthkeeping principle, the fruitfulness principle, and the Sabbath principle. DeWitt suggests that "stewardship of creation is the care and keeping of the life-sustaining integral system of which people are but a part, which, when fully practiced by all, becomes a way of life, and thus no longer has to bear the label 'stewardship.'"

Take Genesis 1:22 for example: "And God blessed them(the fish and birds), saying, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.'" DeWitt claims this verse means that God gives the first and primary blessing to be fruitful and to multiply to the fish and birds. Building on this, DeWitt posits that since all of the fruitfulness and multiplication blessings are given to all other creatures before humans, then humans are to defer to all creatures. His rationale is that since these are the first blessings given, the creatures come before the humans. But Genesis 2:18-19 contradicts his interpretation of Genesis 1:22: "Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.' So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever man called every living creature, that was its name." In addition, Genesis 1:28 explains that God created humans in His image, and gave humans the intellectual and physical capability to "subdue the earth and to have dominion over every living creature that moves upon the earth." Clearly, this particular book (Genesis 1) of the Scripture implies that God gave humans power over the earth and all its creatures.

Another example of DeWitt's intellectual dishonesty is his use of Genesis 2:15: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till and to keep it." DeWitt's interpretation of this verse of Scripture is that God expected Adam to "serve" the garden. However, it seems that DeWitt's interpretation of Genesis 2:15 directly contradicts Matthew 4:10: "Then Jesus said to him, 'Be gone, Satan! for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.'"

In Christian Environmental Stewardship: Preparing a Way for Action, a paper written by Dr. DeWitt, DeWitt states that "biblical teachings reinforce our responsibility for the care and keeping of Creation: they give the grave warning that those who destroy the Earth themselves will be destroyed (Revelation 11:18)." In this case, DeWitt does not even take one whole verse out of context. Rather, he has the audacity to take one phrase out of one verse out of context. Revelation 11:18, in its entirety states: "The nations raged, but thy wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, for rewarding thy servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear thy name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth." The "destroyers" clause is hardly what DeWitt claims: A reinforcement of humans' responsibility to care for and keep God's creation. Rather, it seems as though God is explaining that those who have chosen not to serve the Lord will be punished. For it is those who have chosen to live their life independent of God who are the true "destroyers of the earth."


Building new nuclear plants is not the answer to tackling climate change or securing Britain's energy supply, a government advisory panel has reported. The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) report says doubling nuclear capacity would make only a small impact on reducing carbon emissions by 2035. The body, which advises the government on the environment, says this must be set against the potential risks.

The government is currently undertaking a review of Britain's energy needs. It regards building nuclear capacity as an alternative to reliance on fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. As North Sea supplies dwindle, nuclear is seen by some as a more secure source of energy than hydrocarbon supplies from unstable regimes. Proponents say it could generate large quantities of electricity while helping to stabilise carbon dioxide CO2 emissions. But the SDC report, compiled in response to the energy review, concluded that the risks of nuclear energy outweighed its advantages.

Jonathon Porritt, chair of the SDC, commented: "There's little point in denying that nuclear power has benefits, but in our view, these are outweighed by serious disadvantages. "The Government is going to have to stop looking for an easy fix to our climate change and energy crises - there simply isn't one."

Energy minister Malcolm Wicks, who is leading the government's review, said the SDC's findings made an "important and thorough contribution" to the debate. "Securing clean, affordable energy supplies for the long term will not be easy. No one has ever suggested that nuclear power - or any other individual energy source - could meet all of those challenges," Mr Wicks said. "As the commission itself finds, this is not a black and white issue. It does, however, agree that it is right that we are assessing the potential contribution of new nuclear [plants]."

The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), the representative body for the UK's nuclear sector, gave the report a more cautious welcome. Philip Dewhurst, chairman of the NIA, said the SDC report was not as negative as they had feared. "What the report is basically saying is that the government has got to make a choice between renewables and nuclear. "The SDC is saying you cannot have both, but of course you can. We support having both renewables and nuclear," he told the BBC News website.

"The key factor about nuclear is its base load which means it keeps working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Everyone would agree that some renewable technologies are intermittent at best."....

More here


Scientists in energy-poor Japan said Friday they have found a new source of gasoline -- cattle dung. Sakae Shibusawa, an agriculture engineering professor at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, said his team has successfully extracted 1.4 milliliters (0.042 ounces) of gasoline from every 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of cow dung by applying high pressure and heat. "The new technology will be a boon for livestock breeders" to reduce the burden of disposing of large amounts of waste, Shibusawa said. About 500,000 metric tons (551,155 U.S. tons) of cattle dung are produced each year in Japan, he said.

Gasoline extracted from cow dung is unheard of, said Tomiaki Tamura, an official of the Natural Resources and Energy Agency. Japan relies almost totally on imports for its oil and gasoline needs.

The team, helped by staff from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology near Tokyo, produced gasoline by adding several unspecified metal catalysts to the dung inside a container and applying a 30-atmosphere pressure and heat of up to 300 degrees Celsius (572 degrees Fahrenheit), Shibusawa said. Details of the catalysts could not be disclosed, he added. The team hopes to improve the technology so that it can be used commercially within five years, Shibusawa said.

In a separate experiment revealing another unusual business potential for cow dung, another group of researchers has successfully extracted an aromatic ingredient of vanilla from cattle dung, said Miki Tsuruta, a Sekisui Chemical Co. spokeswoman. The extracted ingredient, vanillin, can be used as fragrance in shampoo and candles, she said. Tsuruta said the vanillin was extracted from a dung solution in a pressurized cooker in a project co-organized by a Japanese medical research institute.



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

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

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


12 March, 2006


I have highlighted the funniest bits.

In Westminster [the British Parliament] the age of environmental correctness is dawning. Everyone is desperately keen to be green. The other day, a Conservative asked a perfectly reasonable question about Zimbabwe or something and a Labour MP snapped back: "Still driving that big 4x4, are you?"

Green snobbery is especially rampant at Environment Questions. Everyone is always up in arms over cars (evil) and holidays abroad (almost satanic) but yesterday MPs exceeded even their usual standards for green outrage when they got uppity about household batteries. The Liberal Democrats, who live to name-and-shame on such things, have discovered that the Government's recycling strategy has a "batteries not included" tag. They accused the Government of allowing 600 million batteries a year to go into landfill (which could make for a pretty lively landfill).

Ben Bradshaw, the minister, was in a good mood for he is a bride-to-be, having just announced that he is to have a same-sex civil partnership ceremony. Nevertheless, Mr Bradshaw was clearly embarrassed about the batteries and started babbling about the European Union's draft Batteries Directive, which is apparently heading our way soon. "But isn't there still a phenomenal amount to do?" demanded the Lib Dems (though if anyone needs new batteries, it is them). "Yes!" cried Mr Bradshaw. Such was his predicament that he did not even lie.

The Tories are in a race to be even more sanctimonious than the Lib Dems. Andrew Robathan, a former army officer, led the charge yesterday. What, he demanded, was the Government going to do about cars that idle? It was, he said, simply unacceptable. Mr Bradshaw did not laugh at this but leant forward as if idling cars were an even worse crisis than languishing batteries. The worst culprits of all, cried Mr Robathan, were government ministers. They must learn to "switch off". "If Westminster City Council doesn't have that power, will YOU instruct all ministerial drivers to switch off their engines?" Mr Bradshaw, who is a cyclist and therefore a bit unhinged about cars, nodded eagerly. I think he could already see himself, no doubt in a snazzy uniform, racing round issuing instant fines to ministers and their lazy old cars.

He may even have been thinking of what had happened to Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, when she went to Cabinet that very morning. She has a Rover but when it tried to leave No 10, the hydraulic ramp came up at exactly the wrong time. The car dangled in mid-air. Surely this constituted the perfect punishment for idling ministers in their environmentally incorrect cars. Mr Bradshaw's thoughts returned to the Commons with a start. He chortled: "I too get very annoyed by motorists who leave their vehicles idling for no reason."

Suddenly he became aware that next to him was his boss Margaret Beckett. It must be said that she is not a green snob. Indeed, yesterday, she told us for no apparent reason that there was no way to get from Latin America to London on a bicycle. (Is this true? Don't tell the Lib Dems.) Mrs Beckett is not allowed a Jag or a Rover but she does have a car, albeit a Peugeot, and it must have to idle, if only occasionally. Mr Bradshaw let out a little bark and said that, of course, there could be good reasons for ministerial cars to idle. But then a junior minister, Jim Knight, just couldn't resist a little name-drop about his hybrid car. "Not in our Priuses," he snorted, as snobs do


Assessing Antarctica's Mass Balance Via Measurements of Time-Variable Gravity from Satellites

Discussing: Velicogna, I. and Wahr, J. 2006. Measurements of time-variable gravity show mass loss in Antarctica. Sciencexpress: 10.1126science.1123785.

What was done:

Using measurements of time-variable gravity from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, the authors determined mass variations of the Antarctic ice sheet for the 34 months between April 2002 and August 2005.

What was learned:

Velicogna and Wahr concluded that "the ice sheet mass decreased significantly, at a rate of 152  80 km3/year of ice, equivalent to 0.4  0.2 mm/year of global sea level rise," all of which mass loss came from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, since they calculated that the East Antarctic Ice Sheet mass balance was 0  56 km3/year.

What it means:

What these results imply about the real world is highly dependent upon their ability to truly represent what they presume to describe; and in this regard Velicogna and Wahr say there is "geophysical contamination ... caused by signals outside Antarctica," including "continental hydrology ... and ocean mass variability." The first of these confounding factors, according to them, "is estimated [our italics] using monthly, global water storage fields from the Global Land Data Assimilation system," while "the ocean contamination is estimated [our italics] using a JPL version of the Estimating Circulation and Climate of the Ocean (ECCO) general circulation model [our italics]."

In addition to these problems, the two researchers note that the GRACE mass solutions "do not reveal whether a gravity variation over Antarctica is caused by a change in snow and ice on the surface, a change in atmospheric mass above Antarctica, or post-glacial rebound (PGR: the viscoelastic response of the solid Earth to glacial unloading over the last several thousand years)."

To adjust for the confounding effect of the variable atmospheric mass above Antarctica, Velicogna and Wahr utilize European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) meteorological fields, but they acknowledge that "there are errors in those fields," so they "estimate [our italics] the secular component of those errors by finding monthly differences between meteorological fields from ECMWF and from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction."

With respect to post-glacial rebound, Velicogna and Wahr say "there are two important sources of error in PGR estimates: the ice history and Earth's viscosity profile." To deal with this problem, they "estimate [our italics] the PGR contribution and its uncertainties using two ice history models [our italics]."

All of these estimates and adjustments are convoluted and complex, as well as highly dependent upon various models. In addition, the estimates and adjustments do not deal with miniscule effects, as Velicogna and Wahr acknowledge that "the PGR contribution is much larger than the uncorrected GRACE trend." In fact, their calculations indicate that the PGR contribution exceeds that of the signal being sought by nearly a factor of five!!! And they are forced to admit that "a significant ice mass trend does not appear until the PGR contribution is removed."

In light of the latter humungous confounding problem, Velicogna and Wahr rightly state in their concluding paragraph that "the main disadvantage of GRACE is that it is more sensitive than other techniques to PGR." In fact, considering the many other adjustments they had to make, based upon estimations utilizing multiple models and databases with errors that had to be further estimated, we are led to totally discount the significance of their final result, particularly in light of the additional fact that it did not even cover a full three-year period. Much more likely to be much more representative of the truth with respect to Antarctica's mass balance are the findings of Zwally et al. (2005), who determined Antarctica's contribution to mean global sea level over a recent nine-year period to be only 0.08 mm/year compared to the five-times-greater value of 0.4 mm/year calculated by Velcogna and Wahr.


Zwally, H.J., Giovinetto, M.B., Li, J., Cornejo, H.G., Beckley, M.A., Brenner, A.C., Saba, J.L. and Yi, D. 2005. Mass changes of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and shelves and contributions to sea-level rise: 1992-2002. Journal of Glaciology 51: 509-527.



From "Science" magazine

A Major Ecosystem Shift in the Northern Bering Sea

By Jacqueline M. Grebmeier et al.

"Until recently, northern Bering Sea ecosystems were characterized by extensive seasonal sea ice cover, high water column and sediment carbon production, and tight pelagic-benthic coupling of organic production. Here, we show that these ecosystems are shifting away from these characteristics. Changes in biological communities are contemporaneous with shifts in regional atmospheric and hydrographic forcing. In the past decade, geographic displacement of marine mammal population distributions has coincided with a reduction of benthic prey populations, an increase in pelagic fish, a reduction in sea ice, and an increase in air and ocean temperatures. These changes now observed on the shallow shelf of the northern Bering Sea should be expected to affect a much broader portion of the Pacific-influenced sector of the Arctic Ocean."

Back to the village well for Brisbane, Australia

Anything rather than build enough dams

Thousands of Brisbane residents will get a taste of the Outback when they are connected to bore water over coming months. Suburbs from Darra to Eight Mile Plains will receive a mixture of groundwater and dam water once 40 new bores are connected to local water mains. The taste and characteristics of the water will change, but the magnitude of the difference will not be determined until tests are done. Bores will be dug at two sites each in Darra and Runcorn, and properties in Sunnybank, Algester, Parkinson and Kuraby/Eight Mile Plains.....

The city wants to generate 20 megalitres of water a day as part of its $30 million aquifer project. The first bore in Darra struck water at 80m yesterday. Residents will be connected to bore water over the next few months once it has been treated. Water Services Association of Australia executive director Ross Young said the taste of groundwater would vary according to the physical characteristics of the aquifer. "It might be harder to get a lather up in the shower and it might taste different, but it's perfectly safe to drink," he said. "People will get used to the taste if the supply is consistent."

Six years of below-average rainfall have left the Wivenhoe, North Pine and Somerset dams at a third of capacity. [That reminds one of the 60 consecutive bad seasons Soviet Russia had]

More here


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

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

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


11 March, 2006


The article below may be correct. But it seems most unlikely. Aircraft wiring insulated with a plastic product going by the trade-name of Kapton was the subject of big safety concerns in the 90s and was as a consequence phased out and replaced by double-insulated wiring which added a sheath of teflon around the Kapton. The double-insulated wiring is to my knowledge (and I am no expert) now used on most commercial aircraft. But because they have had some minor role in calling attention to past safety problems, the folks at the Green/Left magazine "Mother Jones" have leapt into glad action now that they have noted another problem that seems to involve Kapton. Apparently a problem switch in some Ford trucks uses the same Teflon/Kapton "sandwich" that aircraft wiring uses. But you will note below NO mention of the fact that commercial aircraft use it. My guess is that if it is safe in airliners, it is safe in your pickup.

Note that even this anti-Kapton site does not criticize use of the Teflon/Kapton "sandwich" in aircraft. It says: "By 1992, Boeing was out of Kapton and into its new and safe TKT, a Kapton insulation wrapped in a teflon "sandwich" with which there have been no major recorded problems".

It is probably very awful of me but the fact that "unsafe at any speed" Ralph Nader is involved in the latest scare also makes me think it is all hokum

"Why in God's name would you use this material?" asks former Pentagon analyst Edward Block. He's referring to Kapton, a plastic film often used to insulate wire. "It's like having dynamite in your suitcase." Block is a wiring expert who is among those responsible for banning Kapton in most military aircraft because of its propensity to erupt into flames. That was in the 1980s. In the 1990s, the Coast Guard eliminated Kapton from its helicopter fleet, NASA grounded the shuttle fleet for five months while inspecting damaged Kapton wire, and the Clinton administration called aging Kapton wiring an issue of "national concern." The Australian, Israeli, and Canadian governments have all investigated and in many cases prohibited its use in their planes.

So why is Kapton still in millions of Ford cars, trucks, and SUVs? Since the early 1990s, the company has used this DuPont-manufactured material in the hydraulic pressure switch that shuts off cruise control when drivers hit the brakes. Coated with Teflon, Kapton serves as a barrier between the flammable brake fluid and the electric current just millimeters away. Yet years of use can cause cracking in the Teflon, leaving the Kapton membrane and the switch itself vulnerable to ignition from the current-which, in Ford vehicles, continues even when the engine is off. "Imagine your insulating material," Block says, "which is designed to hold in or contain current, acting like a sparkler."

In the past seven years, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has investigated the role of these switches in more than 500 blazes that have ravaged cars, houses, and garages, and reportedly killed at least one person. The agency analyzed 260 cases of fires in Ford sedans-Crown Victorias, Lincoln Town Cars, and Mercury Grand Marquises-with model years between 1992 and 1997. In 1999, the company recalled nearly 300,000 of those vehicles. And by March of last year, the NHTSA had received more than 200 complaints of fires in Ford trucks-F-150 pickups, Expeditions, and Lincoln Navigators-with model years from 1995 to 2002.

But Ford maintains that the root cause of the fires is too complex to fault a single component. Although the automaker acknowledges evidence of overheating in the cruise-control components in some models-attributing it to a "systems interaction" of leaking brake fluid, Teflon corrosion, age and mileage, plus the location of the switch-it has recalled less than a third of the vehicles with the Kapton switches.

Gail Chandler, a spokeswoman for Texas Instruments, which manufactures the switches, insists they're safe. "We don't think there's anything wrong with the switch itself or with Kapton," she says. "We've thoroughly tested these products and have not found there to be a problem." Ford spokeswoman Kristen Kinley agrees. "We do not believe the switch is the root cause of these under-hood fires," she says. "Therefore, the Kapton also is not the issue."

Last September, the NHTSA made some headway, as Ford contacted owners of 3.8 million of its vehicles, asking them to go to local dealerships to have their cruise controls disconnected. Eventually, they could have the feature restored with a new part installed that would act as a circuit breaker in case of overheating. The recall was the fifth largest in American automotive history, but it still leaves 11 million cars and trucks with Kapton switches on the road. The investigation continues.

A two-year NHTSA study of Ford sedans with switch fires stressed that cracking in the Kapton barrier was caused by wear and abnormal stresses during the manufacturing process. NHTSA spokesman Rae Tyson won't speculate on Kapton's role in the current investigation, maintaining that dozens of engineering and environmental variables are involved. "We really do need to understand the root cause of failure, and we aren't there yet," he says.

Nearly 30 years after the Ford Pinto fiasco was exposed by this magazine, consumer advocates are now confronting Ford for being slow to address this known fire threat. Ralph Nader chastised the automaker in early September: "Ford Motor Company's sluggish and piecemeal approach to its automotive responsibilities betrays motorists' safety. If this part has now been recalled on three separate occasions, why isn't it simply removed from the fleet?" In an open letter to Ford CEO William Clay Ford Jr., Nader added: "How much longer will you allow this $20 part to imperil the public?"


Yep! Just as cooling can be proof of global warming, trees can be a sign of a desert to Greenies. Happening at the moment in Porto Alegre, Brazil, is a United Nations "conference" on agrarian reform. And to get their rocks off, there has just been a "coincidental" activity:

"About 2,000 protesters on Wednesday invaded a plantation in southern Brazil owned by Aracruz, the world's biggest producer of bleached eucalyptus pulp, and caused what the company said was millions of dollars of damage and losses. The demonstrators, most of them women, said they opposed the mass cultivation of eucalyptus trees near one of Aracruz's four main factories in Brazil. The pulp is used to produce cellulose, the main ingredient of paper. "We don't want the green desert of the cellulose firms. We want a country that produces food," said Irma Ostroski, coordinator for the Via Campesina peasants' organization which staged the raid on the Barba Negra farm in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil's southernmost state.

Aracruz said the demonstrators destroyed saplings and laboratory equipment. "They smashed up the heart of the farm," Aracruz's regional orchard director Renato Rostirolla said. The damage included the loss of 20 per cent of the saplings ready for planting -- about one million plants. "The laboratory was completely destroyed, especially seeds and tests, and broken computers," he said. The lost tests included 15 years worth of genetic research. Actual damage was about $400,000 but the intangible losses ran to millions of dollars, Aracruz said in a statement.

Agricultural Development Minister Miguel Rossetto condemned the action in a statement from Brasilia. State governor Antonio Hohlfeldt said police had video of the damage and intended to investigate those responsible. Although Via Campesina publicized the invasion on its Web site, it did not mention any damage. When asked by Reuters, Ostroski said the protesters staged a "symbolic action" of destroying saplings. "As we were more than 2,000 women, it's impossible to say how far people went," she said."

The result: Aracruz is suspending a projected billion dollar investment in Porto Alegre, which pleases the Porto Alegrans no end. Who wants jobs? Brazil already has huge unemployment. Why not a little more? To the wreckers of the Green/Left, unemployment is fine and dandy. It just generates more discontent for them to feed on. More here


Below is what appears to be an official NASA comment on the Zwally et al paper discussed on this blog yesterday (second post down). I have corrected below the repeated misspelling of "losses". A very scholarly bunch! I have reddened the amusing bits and done a little bit of fisking (in italics)

In the most comprehensive survey ever undertaken of the massive ice sheets covering both Greenland and Antarctica, NASA scientists confirm climate warming is changing how much water remains locked in Earth's largest storehouses of ice and snow. "If the trends we're seeing continue and climate warming continues as predicted, the polar ice sheets could change dramatically," said survey lead author Jay Zwally of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "The Greenland ice sheet could be facing an irreversible decline by the end of the century."

Other recent studies have shown increasing losses of ice in parts of these sheets. This new survey is the first to inventory the losses of ice and the addition of new snow on both continents in a consistent and comprehensive way throughout an entire decade.

The survey shows there was a net loss of ice from the combined polar ice sheets [To spell that out: Northern icecap growing and Southern icecap shrinking. Not so impressive when you put it that way, though] between 1992 and 2002 and a corresponding rise in sea level. The survey documented for the first time extensive thinning of the West Antarctic ice shelves, an increase in snowfall in the interior of Greenland and thinning at the edges. All are signs of a warming climate predicted by computer models.

The survey combines new satellite mapping of the height of the ice sheets from two European Space Agency satellites. It also used previous NASA airborne mapping of the edges of the Greenland ice sheets to determine how fast the thickness is changing. Researchers used nine years of elevation mapping over much of Antarctica and 10.5 years of data over Greenland from the European Remote-sensing Satellites 1 and 2. The survey pinpointed where the ice sheets were thinning and where they were growing. In Greenland, the survey saw large ice losses along the southeastern coast and a large increase in ice thickness at higher elevations in the interior due to relatively high rates of snowfall. This study suggests there was a slight gain in the total mass of frozen water in the ice sheet over the decade studied, contrary to previous assessments.

According to Zwally, this situation may have changed in just the past few years [Zwally disowns his own work]. Last month NASA scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., reported a speed up of ice flow into the sea from several Greenland glaciers. That study included observations through 2005; Zwally's survey concluded with 2002 data. "The melting of ice at the edges of the ice sheet is also increasing, which causes the ice to flow faster," Zwally said. "A race is going on in Greenland between these competing forces of snow build-up in the interior and ice loss on the edges. But we don't know how long they will be approximately in balance with each other or if that balance has already tipped in favor of the recently accelerating outflow from glaciers."

The situation was very different in Antarctica. The ice sheets had a major net loss of ice due to outflow from West Antarctica. These losses, which may have been going on for decades, outweighed the gains in snow and ice seen in the East Antarctic ice sheet and parts of West Antarctica. Also thinning were the ice shelves around West Antarctica, where temperatures have been increasing. The floating ice shelves are vulnerable to climate change. Some ice shelves in the Antarctic Peninsula have totally disintegrated in recent years, allowing the ice from the land to move into the ocean faster.

When the scientists added up the gains and losses of ice from the Greenland and Antarctic sheets, there was a net loss of ice to the sea. The Greenland ice sheet annually gained approximately 11 billion tons of water, while Antarctica lost about 31 billion tons per year. The 20 billion net tons added to the oceans is equivalent to the amount of fresh water annually used in homes, businesses and farming in New York, New Jersey and Virginia.

"The study indicates that the contribution of the ice sheets to sea-level rise during the decade studied was much smaller than expected [Whoops! Models all wrong again!], just two percent of the recent increase of nearly three millimeters (0.12 inches) a year," Zwally said. "Current estimates of the other major sources of sea-level rise - expansion of the ocean by warming temperatures and runoff from low-latitude glaciers - do not make up the difference, so we have a mystery on our hands [What an excellent basis for policy!] as to where the water is coming from. Continuing research using NASA satellites and other data will narrow the uncertainties in this important issue and help solve the mystery."

A more intelligent approach to conservation

Replacing coercion with incentives for co-operation

Nearly 500,000ha of private land in Queensland has been declared a flora and fauna refuge by its owners. Environment Minister Desley Boyle told State Parliament yesterday another 21 landholders had signed up for the Government's nature refuge program. "Their properties - from the wet tropics in far north Queensland to Mount Tamborine in the south - cover 2379ha and bring the total number to 182, covering 412,700ha," she said.

Ms Boyle said the program, initiated in October 2003, gave individual landowners the power to protect native plants and animals by signing an agreement with the Environment Protection Agency that stays in place after on-selling. Incentives to sign up includes reimbursement of land transfer duty and tax for eligible landowners under an associated Green Reward scheme. Since the scheme started, $111,000 had been reimbursed to 19 eligible landholders covering 8105ha of land, Ms Boyle said.

The latest land added to the program includes habitats for the green ringtail possum, rufous owl, grey goshawk and glossy black cockatoos.



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

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

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


10 March, 2006

Antarctica: Long Term Policy, Short Term Data - A Poor Fit

Post lifted from The Commons blog

Today we were subjected to breathless news reports that - to quote the Washington Post's page one headline - the "Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Melting Rapidly: New Study Warns Of Rising Sea Levels". Its author, Juliet Eilperin, goes on to state that the ice sheet "is losing as much as 36 cubic miles of ice a year in a trend that scientists link to global warming, according to a new paper ..."

So what is this "trend" based upon? The trend, reported in a paper in yesterday's Sciencexpress [by Rignot and Kanagaratnam], which offers previews of coming attractions in Science magazine, is based on data collected over a 34-month period!

Sorry, Juliet, 34 months does not a "trend" make, unless you are 3-year old, in which case you can be forgiven for thinking that's a truly long time. like ... almost forever. Juliet, however, does go on to restore some balance to her story by quoting Richard Alley, "One person's trend is another person's fluctuation." Bravo!

Let's now look at the second part of the two-punch headline, namely, the warning regarding rising sea levels. It turns out that the resulting ice melt would raise sea level by 0.4 millimeters per year. Well, that works out to 1.6 inches per century. I guess I better hurry and relocate to higher ground - I have heard you can drown in a thimble-full of water (and I don't swim). That also means 1.3 feet in a 1,000 years. Seems I have to live longer than Methuselah to enjoy that beachfront property. Damn!

This is the second time in a month that there has been much ado about short term trends. In mid-February, another paper in Science reported that the glaciers in Greenland were melting more rapidly than previously thought [paper by Velicogna and Wahr]. That paper estimated that Greenland ice sheet was losing 224 cubic kilometers per year. That means it will take another 5,400 years to melt the remaining 1,200,000 cubic km, which might raise sea level by 23 feet (7 meters), or so I am told. That is a sea level rise of 0.05 inches per year.

Now this second paper was based on as much as 9-years worth of data. Phenomenal by comparison - but is this long enough?

To get an idea as to the answer, nearby I have two plots of temperature "anomalies' (i.e., fluctuations around the long term means) from 1880 through 2005 for the Antarctic (actually everything south of 60 degrees S). The top curve provides trends for land surface temperatures. The bottom curve is a composite for land and sea temperatures, hence the difference between the magnitude of the trend (0.12 degrees C per decade vs. 0.01 degrees C per decade).

What this shows is that you can get any kind of trend you want depending on when you start your 3- or 9-year period. Ditto, if you want to work with a 50- or 60-year period. In other words, beware long term policies based on short term data.

Nevertheless, the Washington Post reports that based partly on these studies, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.) said yesterday that the "United States must act quickly to impose mandatory limits on carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases."

Perhaps, from the point of view of these two gentlemen, any "fluctuation" that lasts for 2 or 6 years is sufficiently long to base robust policy on.

Greenland and Antarctic Contributions to Sea Level Rise

Discussing: Zwally, H.J., Giovinetto, M.B., Li, J., Cornejo, H.G., Beckley, M.A., Brenner, A.C., Saba, J.L. and Yi, D. 2005. Mass changes of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and shelves and contributions to sea-level rise: 1992-2002. Journal of Glaciology 51: 509-527.

What was done:

The authors determined changes in ice mass "from elevation changes derived from 10.5 years (Greenland) and 9 years (Antarctica) of satellite radar altimetry data from the European Remote-sensing Satellites ERS-1 and -2."

What was learned:

Zwally et al. report that "the Greenland ice sheet is thinning at the margins (-42 ? 2 Gt a-1 below the equilibrium-line altitude (ELA)) and growing inland (+53 ? 2 Gt a-1 above the ELA) with a small overall mass gain (+11 ? 3 Gt a-1; -0.03 mm a-1 SLE (sea-level equivalent))." Likewise, they say that "the ice sheet in West Antarctica (WA) is losing mass (-47 ? 4 Gt a-1) and the ice sheet in East Antarctica (EA) shows a small mass gain (+16 ? 11 Gt a-1) for a combined net change of -31 ? 12 Gt a-1 (+0.08 mm a-1 SLE)." Hence, they report that "the contribution of the three ice sheets to sea level is +0.05 ? 0.03 mm a-1." Furthermore, although not impacting sea level, they note that "the Antarctic ice shelves show corresponding mass changes of -95 ? 11 GT a-1 in WA and +142 ? 10 Gt a-1 in EA."

What it means:

We often hear horror stories about the potential for Greenland and Antarctica to add many meters to the level of the seas in response to global warming. However, Zwally et al. put things in proper perspective by noting that the real-world data they processed indicate that the ongoing contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea-level "is small relative to the potential contribution from ice sheets." How small? At the current sea-level-equivalent ice-loss rate of 0.05 millimeters per year, it would take a full millennium to raise global sea level by just 5 cm, and it would take fully 20,000 years to raise it a single meter. In addition, Zwally et al. report that "the contribution of the ice sheets is also small compared to the most recent estimate of current sea-level rise of 2.8 ± 0.4 mm a-1 from satellite altimetry (Leuliette et al., 2004)," which in their words, "further confounds possible explanations of the causes of contemporary sea-level rise."

In conclusion, the real-world findings of Zwally et al. suggest that the climate-alarmist hype about global warming causing sea levels to rapidly rise to dangerous heights due to the mass wasting of earth's great ice sheets is simply false. This outrageous claim is nothing more than a scare tactic designed to persuade the public to accept the bitter pill they prescribe for the solving of a patently obvious non-problem.


Below is the Abstract of the Zwally et al. article referred to above (Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 51, No. 175, 2005)

Mass changes of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and shelves and contributions to sea-level rise: 1992-2002

Changes in ice mass are estimated from elevation changes derived from 10.5 years (Greenland) and 9 years (Antarctica) of satellite radar altimetry data from the European Remote-sensing Satellites ERS-1 and -2. For the first time, the dH/dt values are adjusted for changes in surface elevation resulting from temperature-driven variations in the rate of firn compaction. The Greenland ice sheet is thinning at the margins (-42~2Gt a-1 below the equilibrium-line altitude (ELA)) and growing inland (+53~2Gt a-1 above the ELA) with a small overall mass gain (+11~3Gt a-1; -0.03mma-1 SLE (sea-level equivalent)). The ice sheet inWest Antarctica (WA) is losing mass (-47~4Gt a-1) and the ice sheet in East Antarctica (EA) shows a small mass gain (+16~11 Gt a-1) for a combined net change of -31~12 Gt a-1 (+0.08mma-1 SLE). The contribution of the three ice sheets to sea level is +0.05~0.03mma-1. The Antarctic ice shelves show corresponding mass changes of -95~11 Gt a-1 in WA and +142~10 Gt a-1 in EA. Thinning at the margins of the Greenland ice sheet and growth at higher elevations is an expected response to increasing temperatures and precipitation in a warming climate. The marked thinnings in the Pine Island and Thwaites Glacier basins of WA and the Totten Glacier basin in EA are probably icedynamic responses to long-term climate change and perhaps past removal of their adjacent ice shelves. The ice growth in the southern Antarctic Peninsula and parts of EA may be due to increasing precipitation during the last century.


They sure know how to get people out of those evil cars

Branch lines across the West Country are to lose up to half their daily trains, despite rapid growth in passenger numbers over the past four years. The Government, which wants to reduce the rail network's 5 billion pound annual subsidy by at least œ1 billion, has authorised the biggest cuts to rural services since the Beeching report of 1963 after claiming that the lines are so poorly used that they are "in the last-chance saloon".

However, official figures obtained by The Times show that passenger numbers on the lines have increased by up to 40 per cent in the past four years, more than double the average rate of growth across the network. The figures are from Wessex Trains, the present operator, which has increased frequency at minimal extra cost since taking over in 2001. First Group, which takes over next month, has announced that services will be cut on all branch line in Devon and Cornwall.

Last week The Times disclosed that First was merely complying with the service levels set by the Department for Transport. Alistair Darling, the Transport Secretary, tried to blame First for making the cuts, but has now admitted that he approved service levels well below the present frequency.

On the Newquay branch in Cornwall, which will have only four trains a day from December instead of seven, passenger numbers have grown by 40 per cent since 2001. The St Ives branch will lose ten of its twenty-six daily services, despite attracting 25 per cent more passengers. The Looe Valley line, which recorded growth of 16 per cent, will have its services cut from thirteen to eight.

In Devon, the Tarka line from Exeter to Barnstaple will lose one service a day and most trains will no longer stop at several small stations. Wessex had upgraded them and installed new shelters, resulting in a 26 per cent increase in passengers.

Stuart Walker, Devon and Cornwall secretary of the Railfuture campaign group, said: "It is absurd to be cutting services on lines which are proving increasingly popular. Ministers keep saying they want more people to use public transport, but as soon as they do services are being cut." He said that it was deceitful of the Government to claim that the cuts were a commercial decision. "These cuts are the result of a reduction in public support for the railways," he said. "The Government could have stipulated that the existing frequency must be maintained, but it failed to do so. It's not just the branch lines but the main line too, where commuter trains which have standing room only are being withdrawn."

The 17.16 from Truro to Penzance, which carries 200 commuters, is being withdrawn, leaving a 100-minute gap in the timetable. Mr Walker said he feared that many commuters would switch back to cars. Tim Davies, head of transport co-ordination at Devon County Council, said that the Government had failed to inform rail users about its plans to withdraw support for rural services. "It's been done behind closed doors because the DfT wanted to get the highest possible premium payments from First," he said. First has agreed to pay the DfT 1 billion pounds over the next ten years for the right to operate the Greater Western franchise. Railfuture had hoped that First would use its profits on the lucrative London-Bristol main line to prop up rural services in Devon and Cornwall. However, the DfT is instead allowing First to cut services on the branch lines to fund the premium payments.



Red/Greens wanting to hurt the rich is what it is really about. Though if they got their way, it is the workers they would price out of air travel, not the rich. Article by Anatole Kaletsky

As I write this, I am flying back from a two-day trip to New York, as a result of which I am responsible for creating 1.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Next week I will be making two return flights to Europe, adding another 0.2 tonnes, and the week after that, I will be taking my entire family on a holiday to the Caribbean, creating roughly six tonnes of CO2.

Am I a carbon criminal for creating 7.4 tonnes of pollution, thereby bringing forward the day of judgment when we will all get our just deserts by roasting in a technological, post-enlightenment version of Dante's Inferno? Since none of my trips was strictly necessary for my survival, nor even for my ability to earn a decent living, I suspect that many readers will instinctively condemn me as a criminal, or at least a self-indulgent sinner. That certainly seems the gist of the moralistic debate in Britain about the contribution of air travel to climate change.

On the Today programme, for example, I recently heard the interviewer claiming, to a beleaguered representative of the Government or some pro-business lobby, that air travel was set to become the biggest single contributor to global warming. So why was the Government not taking some action to stop people flying? When it was pointed out that, according to the best estimates, air travel would create only 5 per cent of global carbon emissions by 2050, the interviewer seamlessly and quite unrepentantly changed his story: "Yes, but flying is the fastest growing cause of climate change" - a statistic that could only be true because aircraft emissions are increasing from such a low, almost infinitesimal, starting point, at present accounting for just 2 per cent of global CO2.

Why do I raise this issue? Because the debate on air travel suggests that many people in Britain, including most of the media and large parts of the political elite, still see the world through a Marxist prism: they still distrust economic incentives and market forces, preferring a benign, omniscient government to solve all social problems. Worst of all, they still feel instinctively that society is in a permanent state of class war.

Let's start with economics. Every serious study of aircraft pollution has concluded that the surest way of reducing emissions would be to bring airlines into the European regime for carbon trading. The idea is that airlines would be allocated an annual limit for carbon emissions, which they could trade among themselves. In order to expand beyond these limits, airlines would have buy "carbon credits" from earthbound industries such as power stations, steelmakers and motor manufacturers, who would then find ways of reducing their carbon emissions by an equivalent amount.

The merit of emissions trading is not just that it forces passengers to pay for pollution and airlines to become more efficient, since this would also be true of taxing airline fuel. The real advantage is that carbon trading allows airlines to pay for carbon reduction on the ground instead of in the air. And because there are many ways of reducing ground-based emissions readily available, every pound spent on ground-based carbon reductions is hundreds of times more effective than the same amount spent in the air.

To illustrate, let me return to my own globetrotting this month. The voluntary carbon reduction scheme introduced by British Airways on their website shows that a passenger who wants to offset the entire 1.2 tonnes of carbon created by a transatlantic round trip needs to spend only 9 pounds on planting new trees or subsidising an energy-efficiency programme in rural India. By contrast, an additional 9 pounds per ticket fuel tax would achieve absolutely no carbon reduction, since it would not be remotely sufficient to deter people from flying. As for promoting technological improvements in aircraft, a fuel tax would add nothing to the incentives that airlines already face. BA, for example, spends 1.4 billion pounds each year on fuel; so any technology that can save fuel is already worth adopting. This, indeed, is why airlines go on spending billions on new generations of aircraft and why jets replaced propellers decades ago.

Why, then, do environmentalists campaign for new airline taxes (which would be totally ineffective) or for outright bans on air travel (which will never happen), instead of arguing calmly for the economically rational solution of bringing airlines into a carbon-trading scheme?

Here we come back to the true political content of the flying debate. Opponents of flying are less interested in the practical prospects for reducing carbon emissions than they are in forcing politicians to "take a stand" against frivolous travel - ideally by banning it outright in the utopian visions of the authoritarian Greens. And behind the puritan contempt for travellers' self-indulgence lies an even deeper political agenda.

Airline travel is seen instinctively as a luxury, an indulgence of the prosperous classes. Denouncing air travel is therefore like sabotaging fox hunts, rioting against globalisation in the City of London or terrorising universities over "animal rights".

On closer inspection none of these single-issue protests has much to do with its putative objectives. Just as opponents of air travel are not really focused on the most effective way to reduce carbon emissions, the people who campaign against hunting or animal experiments are not really concerned about minimising animal suffering. If they were, they would be campaigning against meat-eating instead of pharmaceuticals, picketing abbatoirs instead of university labs and throwing blood at leather shoes and sheepskins instead of mink furs.

What, then, are these new protest movements really about? They seem primarily a way of expressing contempt for the rich and privileged, showing solidarity with the poor and downtrodden and creating an imaginary vanguard for a 21st-century version of Marxist class war. The end of communism and the rise of Tony Blair have left left-wing radicals with few options. So let them campaign for punitive taxes on air travel. Even if they succeeded, they would be less harm than old Labour's 98 per cent income tax


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

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

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


9 March, 2006


Scottish politicians spent a billion dollars on their new "green" parliament building and it is still not "green" enough. And it is falling apart, as well

Holyrood managers had to face up to a fresh embarrassment yesterday - their much-vaunted, energy-efficient building is losing heat, lots of it. New thermal imaging pictures of the Scottish Parliament not only show major heat loss, but reveal that the situation has deteriorated in the past year. One expert even warned this could indicate a serious problem of water seeping in behind the granite cladding, which could shatter parts of the outside of the building in time.

The news is the latest embarrassing development to hit the parliament building in the last week. Seven days ago it emerged that the decorative ponds outside the front entrance were being redesigned after a tourist fell in. Then, last Thursday, a wooden beam in the roof of the debating chamber swung free, forcing the parliamentary authorities to close the chamber indefinitely. Now, just when George Reid, the Presiding Officer, had hoped the building was at last getting past the worst of its troubles, it has emerged there could be a problem in the way part of the building retains heat.

The Holyrood building cost 431 million pounds to construct and was three years late. It was designed to reflect the best practice in environmentally friendly building methods. It does not have air-conditioning. Instead, a through-flow of air is supposed to keep the building cool in summer and warm in winter. This does not always work, however, and many offices now have fans and heaters to regulate the temperature - probably worse for the environment than any air-conditioning system.

Last year, British Gas commissioned a series of thermal imaging pictures of the building to see how energy efficient it was. Some heat loss could be seen but the general assessment was good. The latest audit has been commissioned by BBC Scotland for its radio programme Hot Air, and shows the situation has deteriorated in 12 months.

Stewart Little, from IRT Surveys in Dundee, who took the pictures, says on today's programme, hosted by Lesley Riddoch: "Above the main entrance, at parapet level, you can see a panel in white and red. That's either missing insulation which hasn't been installed in the first place, or it's moisture getting down the back of the cladding and soaking down the insulation. "The best case scenario is it's just heat loss because of missing insulation. The pessimistic view is, if it's water getting in it could freeze, expand the crack, water gets in again. Eventually, you could blow the face off the cladding itself so a chunk of granite could fall off."

Shiona Baird, the Green spokeswoman on energy, said: "Buildings and institutions of such national importance should set an example to the rest of Scotland on careful energy use."

The Welsh Assembly, opened by the Queen last week, has already won a top rating for its green credentials from the Building Research Establishment, covering everything from its construction methods to the design of the toilets. The 66 million pound building uses renewable energy resources which will cut costs by up to 50 per cent.

A Scottish Tory spokesman said: "The Scottish Parliament Corporate Body should look hard at all these issues to see what needs to be done." A spokeswoman for the Scottish Parliament insisted the building conformed to rigorous heat-efficiency targets, but added she could not comment on the specific issues raised in the pictures until the parliament's experts had examined them.




The Economic Impacts of Climate Change: Evidence from Agricultural Profits and Random Fluctuations in Weather

By Olivier Deschenes and Michael Greenstone

Executive Summary:

This paper measures the economic impact of climate change on US agricultural land by estimating the effect of the presumably random year-to-year variation in temperature and precipitation on agricultural profits. Using long-run climate change predictions from the Hadley 2 Model, the preferred estimates indicate that climate change will lead to a $1.1 billion (2002$) or 3.4% increase in annual profits. The 95% confidence interval ranges from -$1.8 billion to $4.0 billion and the impact is robust to a wide variety of specification checks, so large negative or positive effects are unlikely. There is considerable heterogeneity in the effect across the country with California's predicted impact equal to -$2.4 billion (or nearly 50% of state agricultural profits). Further, the analysis indicates that the predicted increases in temperature and precipitation will have virtually no effect on yields among the most important crops. These crop yield findings suggest that the small effect on profits is not due to short-run price increases. The paper also implements the hedonic approach that is predominant in the previous literature. We conclude that this approach may be unreliable, because it produces estimates of the effect of climate change that are very sensitive to seemingly minor decisions about the appropriate control variables, sample and weighting. Overall, the findings contradict the popular view that climate change will have substantial negative welfare consequences for the US agricultural sector.


Climate change campaigners yesterday condemned the government for rejecting a 55 million pound plan to build 27 wind turbines each 115 metres (377ft) high on a windy ridge just outside the eastern boundary of the Lake District national park. The energy minister, Malcolm Wicks, and rural affairs minister Jim Knight said they had accepted an inspector's conclusions that the need to protect the landscape outweighed the benefits of securing a source of renewable energy.

The decision was denounced by bodies promoting wind power as part of the answer to the problems caused by climate change. The turbines, between Borrowdale and Bretherdale near Tebay, Cumbria, would have produced 1.5 times the power of Cumbria's existing 11 wind farms and 77 turbines. The Whinash scheme, 30 miles east of the Sellafield nuclear plant, had divided campaigners, with Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth in support but the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Council for National Parks and Friends of the Lake District against. Other opponents included environmentalist David Bellamy, who threatened to chain himself to one of the turbines if they were built; writer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg; climber Sir Chris Bonington; and writer Hunter Davies. David Maclean, Conservative MP for Penrith and the Border, had condemned the wind farm as "a steel noose being placed round the neck of the Lake District".

The ministers' decision, which follows a seven-week public inquiry in Cumbria last year, is likely to cause a rethink of the development of windpower in remote, windy parts of the country with a high landscape value. Promoters were said to have been scouring Cumbria in search of new turbine sites. But wind power supporters said yesterday they feared the balance would now tip towards nuclear energy.

Commenting on the recommendation of the planning inspector, David Rose, Mr Wicks said: "Tackling global warming is critical but we must also nurture the immediate environment and wildlife. This is at the crux of the debate over wind energy. On this occasion, we agree with the independent inspector that the impact on landscape and recreation would outweigh the benefits in terms of reducing carbon emissions."

But Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, said he was appalled by the decision. "On the one hand, ministers say they support renewable energy and on the other turn down carefully worked-up proposals that would have minimal environmental impacts while helping to fight climate change - the greatest threat of all. "The ministers who decided this should be ashamed. No wonder the government is failing to tackle climate change. As each day goes by Labour's commitments to the environment become more and more unbelievable."

Stephen Tindale, executive director of Greenpeace, said: "Any government that wants to expand airports and turn down windfarms is simply not fit to govern. It's hard to believe that the nuclear industry has not played some role in this. "Climate change will ravage beautiful areas like the Lake District. I hope those responsible will be willing to explain to future generations how they played their part in allowing the savage grip of global warming to trash the countryside and claim hundreds of thousands of lives."

"We are delighted," said Andrew Forsyth, director of Friends of the Lake District. "We feared that the requirement for renewable energy would outweigh questions of the damage caused to the site and Cumbria in general. But it is quite clear that the weight of evidence made it easy for ministers to decide it was the wrong development in the wrong place on the wrong scale."



An email from Charles Warren Hunt (, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The oceans of the world hide evidence of huge subsidence of sea level. Among them are seamounts in the Pacific 600m below present sea level but with surface materials that clearly show development under atmospheric conditions. Submarine canyons rivalling Grand Canyon in depth and width plus huge deltas of debauched debris. The canyons may have been partly sculpted by submarine processes but presently show no adjacent connection to a continental river that could provide a source of material. Salt deposits that must have resulted from evaporation of seawater at sea level but are now located hundreds of metres below sea level.

Decline of sea level due to land surface emergence has also occurred at astonishing levels. Aside from wave-cut terraces high above present sealevel that characterize some seacoasts, such as California's, there are great prehistoric seaways that bisect continents, such as the long-lived North American seaway between the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Ocean that was open through most of Tertiary and even Quaternary time, but was recently elevated up to 1000m above sealevel.

The metre or two rise in sea level from Anarctic ice sheet melting is trivial by comparison with what has happened in the not so distant past and may happen again at any time. Mankind should not be surprised to experience rapid uplift and subsidence of terrain.

I presented evidence for specific instances of late Pleistocene and Recent uplift and subsidence of Rocky Mountain terrain in my book, ENVIRONMENT OF VIOLENCE: Readings of Catastrophism Cast in Stone


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

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

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


8 March, 2006


This week something happened that seems to me to epitomise our times. In a shopping mall I passed a shopper carrying two of those green bags that proclaim the owner's environmental values. Our eyes met and I gave her a vague nod of approval, as you do. Once in the car park, she leapt into a super-sized Toyota LandCruiser and roared off. Choking in the exhaust fumes, I reflected on the increasing contradiction between the values we proclaim and the lives we lead. In the world of identity politics, consistency is out: beliefs are adopted like moral fashion statements. We insist on our right to have everything. Now.

Women crave the career and the children, men demand internet porn plus family values, everyone wants to be green but live as they damn well like. I know that by no means has all idealism become tainted like this, but it seems to me to be on the increase.

Once upon a time, hypocrisy was the homage vice paid to virtue. This required a certain connection between the word and the deed. You could tell the world you cared for the environment, or you could drive a massive, energy-guzzling pollute-mobile. But not both. Not at the same time, anyway. If you did, other people tended not to take you seriously. We seem to have moved on, or maybe backwards. In the years before the Reformation, the wealthy could buy indulgences from the church to take care of their sins. Maybe that's what those green bags represent for the shopper I saw - sort of moral carbon sinks.

I'm not sure how we got here, but it seems associated with a declining interest in facts. Possibly we are now so overwhelmed by information we've given up trying to arrange it logically, and just cling to any strands of meaning we find emotionally congenial. But the facts should still matter.

Jared Diamond's book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, is the most critically and commercially successful serious book in Australia at the moment. Diamond visited our shores last year and it's no exaggeration to say we fawned on him. He was invited to give a Deakin Lecture and addressed crowds at prestigious venues around the country. The Sunday Telegraph called Collapse "a work of great importance from one of the world's great thinkers". In The Age, Tim Flannery said it was "probably the most important book you'll ever read".

Since then, the book has had a deep effect on many readers, and is referred to as evidence that Australia is going to hell in a handcart. So it might surprise you to learn that its Australian chapter is so riddled with major factual errors as to make nonsense of Diamond's conclusions. In a detailed review, biologist Jennifer Marohasy, of the Institute of Public Affairs, concluded it is "full of factually incorrect information". The review in this newspaper last March by Peter Christoff, vice-president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said the Australian chapter has a "deep litter of factual inaccuracies which then makes one doubt the rest of the book". (Although, somewhat strangely, the rest of the review was positive and Christoff urged people to send the book to the Prime Minister.)

Diamond's office did not respond to several requests last month for him to discuss these serious problems with his critics on Radio National. It's inconceivable that a writer could survive and flourish in the face of this sort of criticism unless the audience simply didn't care about facts any more. Welcome to the new world of public debate, where anything goes, as long as it's the latest thing. The very concept of hypocrisy is, like, so yesterday.

Maybe it needs to be renovated. Maybe, for example, we should ask the advocates of urban consolidation - which involves forcing most new families to live in concrete boxes next to railway lines in outer suburbs - where they themselves live. (Most I've met are childless and live in trendy inner-city flats, or are older people on generous blocks in established suburbs.)

Then there's immigration, supported so long and so unctuously by the educated middle classes. As I've noted before, the overcrowding, infrastructure inadequacy and job competition brought about by immigration (or government failure to cope with it) generally occur lower down the social scale and in distant parts of the city; meanwhile immigrants provide the migration enthusiasts with a servant class of gardeners, cleaners, dishwashers, and so on. As for opposing mandatory detention, it's a lot easier if unidentified illegal immigrants are unlikely to settle in a street near you.

The good news is that sometimes hypocrisy curls up and dies by itself. For years, many in the eastern suburbs sneered at shopping malls. Apparently their external ugliness outweighed their benefits, which were (merely) that they brought ordinary Australians a shopping variety, quality and amenity previously the preserve of the rich. Some good news: since the new Westfield opened in Bondi Junction, eastern suburbs criticism of malls has disappeared.

But moral vanity still flourishes. My favourite example at the moment is the environmentalists in fashionable suburbs who disparage McMansions for using energy-wasting air-conditioning. The fact that it's five or more degrees hotter out west in summer doesn't seem to concern the critics in places such as Waverley. But then, it's easy to occupy the moral high ground when it gets ocean breezes.



To estimate the various overall ownership costs of hybrids, CR picked six current models that we've tested and totaled their major costs and savings over the first five years, the longest period for which reliable data on all the cost components are available. Five years is also a typical period of car ownership. We did the same thing for each model's closest all-gasoline-powered equivalent and compared the two. We assumed the vehicles were purchased in California, the leading market for hybrid sales.

After factoring in federal tax credits and fuel savings that are based on gas prices rising to $3 and then $4 a gallon, our calculations show that the most cost-effective hybrids, the Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Prius, still cost $3,700 and $5,250 more than their all-gas peers after five years. Models with the highest cost difference--the Honda Accord Hybrid, Lexus RX400h, and Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited--ranged from $10,250 to $13,300 more. Here's a rundown of our findings:

Fuel savings: $700 to $3,300. The fuel savings you'll see depends less on a hybrid's overall mpg than on how much better it is than competitive vehicles. In our study, the Escape Hybrid, Prius, and Lexus RX400h provide the most fuel savings, although the smaller Prius gets 44 mpg and the Escape and RX400h SUVs only 26 and 23 mpg, respectively. The smallest fuel savings comes from the Honda Accord Hybrid because its 25 mpg is only 2 mpg better than the V6 Accord EX's.

For our study, we used CR's real-world fuel-economy figures, which are based on the driving style of a typical person in a mix of city and highway conditions. You can get better gas mileage, as many drivers do, by adjusting your driving style for optimum fuel economy (See our April 2006 report on how to get the most mileage from your fuel dollars).

Tax credits: $650 to $3,150. New federal tax credits can take some of the bite out of a hybrid's higher price. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2006, however, after each manufacturer sells 60,000 hybrid units, the credits are gradually phased out. This limit applies to each automaker's total hybrid sales, regardless of brand. Thus, the limit for Toyota/Lexus is only 60,000; the same is true for Ford/Mercury.

As we went to press, the Internal Revenue Service had not yet released its calculations, so we used estimates from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, a Washington think tank. As with fuel savings, the tax credits vary a lot because they're based on the amount of hybrid power produced and how much better a model's gas mileage is compared with benchmarks for its class. Once the credits are phased out, hybrids will cost $650 to $3,150 more than our totals show.

Higher retail price: $4,000 to $8,800. A hybrid's higher price is understandable, considering its advanced technology and additional drive system. But some hybrid models, such as the Accord, Highlander, and RX400h, carry higher premiums because they're positioned as the top-of-the-line trim levels for their model line, providing extra engine performance and additional standard features. If these attributes aren't important to you, look for a hybrid with a lower markup.

The prices we used, provided by CR's Auto Price Service, reflect market realities. While a hybrid typically sells for close to its full retail price, you can usually buy the conventional models we studied for less: about 5 to 7 percent more than the CR Bottom Line Price. Conventional models are more likely to carry sales incentives.

Some automakers want to cut price premiums on hybrids. "We've said we want to sell 1 million hybrids a year by about 2012," says Dave Hermance, executive engineer for advanced-technology vehicles at Toyota. "To do that, we need to reduce the costs and thus reduce the MSRP premium by about $1,000."

John German, Honda's manager of environmental and energy analysis, says, "At current fuel prices, if we get their added cost down to $1,000 to $1,500, that's when hybrids will go mainstream." But he adds, "That's not going to happen anytime soon," estimating about 20 to 30 years. In the meantime, the higher price also increases related costs such as sales tax and finance charges, as shown in the chart.

More here


From Quaternary International, Article in Press, Corrected Proof. What this guy says is so counterfactual that he must be quite insane -- as must be the editors who accepted it for publication

The agricultural revolution as environmental catastrophe: Implications for health and lifestyle in the Holocene

By Clark Spencer Larsen


One of the most fundamental developments in the history of our species-and one having among the most profound impacts on landscapes and the people occupying them-was the domestication of plants and animals. In addition to altering landscapes around the globe from the terminal Pleistocene and early Holocene, the shift from foraging to farming resulted in negative and multiple consequences for human health. Study of human skeletal remains from archaeological contexts shows that the introduction of grains and other cultigens and the increase in their dietary focus resulted in a decline in health and alterations in activity and lifestyle. Although agriculture provided the economic basis for the rise of states and development of civilizations, the change in diet and acquisition of food resulted in a decline in quality of life for most human populations in the last 10,000 years. [What planet does this guy live on?]


6. Conclusions

Most of us are well aware of the dramatic changes in the Earth's landscapes as forests give way to agricultural land, and the resulting environmental degradation, loss of species, and other disasters (e.g., McKee, 2003). A common misperception is that prior to modern times, humans were much more concerned about managing their environment so as to avoid the problems that have surfaced in such a dramatic fashion in the 20th century. However, study of ancient landscapes in Mesoamerica, North America, and the Middle East shows evidence that earlier agriculturalists had profound impacts, highly negative in some areas, on the lands they exploited (see Abrams and Rue, 1988; Denevan, 1992; Kirch et al., 1992; Redman, 1999; Krech, 1999; Heckenberger et al., 2003). In the Mediterranean basin, for example, nearly all landscapes were degraded or otherwise transformed in dramatic ways (van der Leeuw, 1998). The analysis of the past reveals that the current threats to the landscape have their origins in the period of human history when plant domestication began 10,000 years (or so) ago. Finally, once the effects on Earth's climate by industrial-era human activities-the so-called greenhouse effect-were recognized, a number of workers assumed that it related to just the last couple of hundred years (e.g., Crutzen and Stoermer, 2000). However, new evidence of anamolous trends in CO2 and CH4 possibly owing to agricultural-related deforestation after about 8000 years ago, indicates that the negative impact involving greenhouse gases began soon after the start of agriculture (Ruddiman, 2003).

Coupled with these negative changes to the landscape was the decline in health and quality of life. Skeletal evidence indicates that these impacts on health were immediate-as soon as humans began to farm, health declines commenced due to population crowding, altered workloads, and increased nutritional deficiencies. In looking at different health indicators, there is variability. For example, some agriculturalists show far more skeletal evidence of iron deficiency anemia, and rice agriculturalists may be less prone to dental caries. Taken as a whole, farming was a mixed bag-it provided food for a growing world population, but with negative consequences for the health and wellbeing. These negative consequences have been largely ameliorated today in developed nations, made possible by advances in medical care, varied and nutritional diets, and stringent sanitation and water treatment laws. In the non-developed or developing world-the majority of population-the production and consumption of a limited number of plants continues to negatively impact millions of our species. At no other time in the history of our species has there been so much nutritional deficiency, crowd-related infections, infant mortality, and poor health generally. [Which is why life-expectancy has never been so high, I guess] The situation does not look like it will improve. In the next couple of decades, farmers globally will be called upon to provide food for nearly 8 billion people, representing nearly a 40% increase. Most of the growth in population will be in developing countries whose ability to produce the food necessary for the survival of all is diminishing (Gardner, 2004). Clearly, the change in how humans acquired food in a few centres 10,000 years ago has now engulfed much of the world in a profound way, arguably not for the better, either then or now.


A comment below from Steven Cochrane (

"Living to the ripe old age of 35 is an improvement in "quality of life" over living a relatively healthy life of 80 years? I think Mr. Clark Spencer Larsen needs to be released naked in the wilderness and told that he has to make his own tools, weapons, clothing, shelter and forage and hunt his food for just one month. If he is not killed and eaten by lions, wolves, bears or by falling off a cliff (oh yes, we do have all these things in western North America), he may find that our smallest antagonists in the summer months, mosquitoes and flies, will eat him alive and just before he passes out from the millions of bug bites, open sores and maggot infestation the coyotes will disembowel him and the last thing he will hear is the beautiful wild howl of coyotes happy for a good meal. Now that's quality of life!

All these fine people that think we should return to the "simple" lifestyle of our ancestors and "return to nature" have apparently never experienced that "simple" life style, or even thought it through to its ultimate conclusion; it's a short, hard life. So my solution to the problem is to round up all the environmentalists, anarchists, and movie stars and give them a taste of the "simple" life style, what's your pleasure rancher, farmer or cave man? Oh, there will be no modern technology available and no TV cameras; after all you can't make computer chips in your wood and mud hut or cave."


From CO2 Science Magazine, 1 March 2006

What will it take to feed five billion rice consumers in 2030? That is the question that plagues the mind of Gurdev S. Khush (2005) of the International Rice Research Institute in Metro Manila, Philippines. "According to various estimates," in his words, "we will have to produce 40% more rice by 2030 to satisfy the growing demand without affecting the resource base adversely," because, as he continues, "if we are not able to produce more rice from the existing land resources, land-hungry farmers will destroy forests and move into more fragile lands such as hillsides and wetlands with disastrous consequences for biodiversity and watersheds," echoing sentiments previously expressed by Wallace (2000), Tilman et al. (2001; 2002), Foley et al. (2005), and Green et al. (2005). Hence, as Khush puts it, the expected increase in the demand for food "will have to be met from less land, with less water, less labor and fewer chemicals."

How is it to be done?

Khush suggests a number of strategies for attacking the multifaceted problem, including conventional hybridization and selection procedures, ideotype breeding, hybrid breeding, wide hybridization and genetic engineering, all designed to increase the yield potential of rice. In addition, he emphasizes breeding for increased resistance to diseases and insect pests, as well as for enhanced abiotic stress tolerance, which is needed to withstand the negative impacts of drought, excess water, soil mineral deficiencies and toxicities, as well as unfavorable temperatures (both hot and cold).

We agree that all of these things are needed; however, as indicated by Tilman et al. (2001), "even the best available technologies, fully deployed, cannot prevent many of the forecasted problems." This was also the conclusion of Idso and Idso (2000), who acknowledged that "expected advances in agricultural technology and expertise will significantly increase the food production potential of many countries and regions," but who went on to note that these advances "will not increase production fast enough to meet the demands of the even faster-growing human population of the planet."

Fortunately, we have a strong ally in the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 concentration that may help us meet and surmount this daunting global challenge. Atmospheric CO2 enrichment, for example, has been demonstrated to significantly increase rice photosynthesis and biomass production (see our compilations of over 100 individual experimental results for photosynthesis and biomass responses of rice to CO2-enriched air in the Data section of our website). In addition, elevated CO2 concentrations have been shown to enhance the ability of rice to cope with both biotic and abiotic stresses (see Agriculture (Species - Rice) in our Subject Index). Hence, in addition to our purposeful directed efforts to increase rice yields in the years and decades to come, we will experience the unplanned help provided by the CO2 emissions that result from the burning of fossil fuels.

Working together, these two positive forces may help us meet the clear and present need to ramp up rice production to the degree required to adequately feed the world a mere quarter-century from now, and to do so without usurping all of the planet's available land and water resources and thereby consigning the bulk of "wild nature" to the ash heap of history. Without the help of both approaches, we will in all likelihood fail and, with the rest of the biosphere, suffer unimaginable negative consequences.


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

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

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


7 March, 2006


By Miranda Devine. Good to see her giving blogging geologist Louis Hissink a plug

Most of us haven't a clue how mobile phones actually work, or satellite navigation systems, or computers, or the internet, or microwave ovens, or digital cameras, or iPods. A generation ago the average person could probably tune up the family car. But these days cars are full of computers. God knows what's under the bonnet. The same goes for all the high-tech gadgets we use to erase boredom and make our daily lives work so smoothly. Never before in the history of the world have so many people known so little about how stuff works.

There is a consequence of this ignorance. Somebody does know how stuff works, and knowledge is power. Thus, as we become enslaved by our ever-more sophisticated technology, we are at the mercy of those with The Knowledge, and their arrogance is growing. Beware geeks bearing gifts.

The irony is that, in an era in which science and technology are king, irrationality and superstition are on the rise. Fundamentalist religion is gripping the globe, women's magazines are full of psychics and palm readers and gardening by the stars. Creationists are making a comeback in the classroom. Chinese herbalists are springing up on every corner, and parents take their children to homeopaths. Earth is Gaea, and nature knows best.

Global warming has followed the acid rain scares of the past, the population bomb, the Club of Rome, Silent Spring, all the environmental scares that never came to pass, as the terror du jour - "the greatest threat facing humanity today", as Dr Tim Flannery tells us in an ad for solar panels.

In The March Of Unreason: Science, Democracy, And The New Fundamentalism, the bicycle-riding British Liberal Democrat Lord Dick Taverne maps the growing irrationality that threatens to push us back to the Dark Ages. "In the practice of medicine, popular approaches to farming and food, policies to reduce hunger and disease and many other practical issues, there is an undercurrent of irrationality that threatens the progress that depends on science and even [threatens] the civilised basis of our democracy," he writes.

At the same time as we become more gullible, we also become more cynical about government, corporations and Big Media. Every time I write an article pointing out there is no scientific consensus on the extent of man-made - as opposed to natural - climate change, or that attacks on genetically modified food are flawed, I am accused, quite seriously, of being on the payroll of Monsanto or Western Mining. The violent, incoherent, mouth-frothing fury from greenies to such columns puts me in mind of the insane reaction in the Islamic world to the Danish Muhammad cartoons.

Environmentalism is the powerful new secular religion and politically correct scientists are its high priests, rescuing the planet from the apocalypse of climate change, as the Doomsday clock ticks down. Kyoto is the Promised Land and Bush/Howard/capitalism/industry/farmers are Satan.

Perth exploration geologist Louis Hissink suspects "politicised science has replaced religion as the arbiter of human affairs ... priesthoods of both organisations are concerned with what happens in the future and that current behaviour is thought to affect that future, hence it needs to be proscribed and prescribed". It used to be men in purple robes who controlled us. Soon it will be men in white lab coats. The geeks shall inherit the earth.


And probably the horses too!

Psychologists, psychiatrists, and public school counselors are reporting an increasing number of cases of anxiety disorders in students that are taught environmental subjects. The problem seems to be the most prevalent in kindergarten through 6th grade, when students are at ages where impressionable minds accept new information authoritatively. Complaints of generalized anxiety, school phobia, nightmares, and insomnia are the most common. Some teachers that cover environmental materials even report incidents of fights in the classroom. "The altercations usually end up with shouts like, 'oh yeah? well my dad can beat up your dad!' The students involved invariably come from households with differing political or religious beliefs", said a teacher at Woodland, Vermont's Henry David Thoreau Equal-Outcome Learning Center.

ecoEnquirer received an e-mail from one Woodland teacher who has experienced many of these problems firsthand. Teacher Amanda Deerfield wrote, "I try to give the studends a first-rate edukation, but the responce to enviromentel instruction have had sum very negativ results. Right now they are in my clasrooom watchin that moovie The Day After Tommorrow, and I can already hear them shouting at each uther."

Principal John Spanker noted, "Since these conflicts seem to arise from misinformation that parents are feeding their kids at home, we suggest that parents stop trying to teach their children...that job should be left to the professionals."

Some parents have objected to specific teaching materials that their children have brought home from school. The two environmental books most often objected to are, "Heather Has Too Much Stuff", and "Help! Mom! There's a Polluter Under My Bed!". One local Woodland parent, who declined to be identified for fear of retribution toward his child, told us, "These kids shouldn't be taught this controversial stuff at such a young age. What ever happened to reading, writing, and arithmetic? My kids come home knowing their 'carbon footprint', how much sea levels are supposed to rise, and Al Gore's middle name, but they can't write a complete sentence telling what they have learned!"

Principal Spanker disagreed, saying, "Times have changed. Learning has changed. We all want the same things for our kids' future: a clean environment, equal opportunity with equal pay, presidents that don't act like cowboys, and a clean environment. The kids need to know the truth...after all, they are tomorrow's leaders. I'm just thankful that we have psychotropic medications to get us through these difficult formative years." [!!!!]



A reader writes:

"Just to let you know, the website, to which you linked under Greenies Scare the Kids, is a parody and satire website. See here: Sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference between parodied environmentalism and the modern, non-sensical environmentalism"


By Dr Gerrit J. van der Lingen -- Published in Newsletter of the Geological Society of New Zealand, N0 138, November 2005: 60-64.

The major part of Phil Maxwell's "Paleo Potpourri" in July's Newsletter was a diatribe against Michael Crichton and Bjorn Lomborg, two people who dared to criticise certain beliefs of environmentalists, especially the doctrine of AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming). No scientific arguments mind you, just gratuitous name-calling and insults.

This is not uncommon in the debate on global warming.

I have been collecting some of the insults levelled at AGW sceptics: cash-amplified flat-earth pseudo-scientists; the carbon cartel; villains; refuseniks lobby; polluters; a powerful and devious enemy; deniers; profligates; crank scientists. The list is endless. I remember the reaction of a Canadian scientist who dared to ask critical questions at a meeting on global warming. He was totally taken aback by the virulent reaction, "it was as if I was back in the Middle Ages and had denied the Virgin Birth". A common slur is also that all sceptics are in the pockets of the oil industry.

The global warming debate has left the realm of science a long time ago. It has become totally politicised. Any scientific criticism is not met with a scientific response, but with name-calling and a stepping up of the scare tactics. Some sceptics have even lost their jobs or are told to shut up or else. Many of the global warming doomsayers seem to be obsessed with a longing for Apocalypse. A good New Zealand example was the acceptance speech of Peter Barrett, when he received the (well-earned) Marsden Medal. He predicted the extinction of the human race by the end of this century due to AGW. Sir David King, the science advisor to the British Government has said that the threat of global warming is more serious that the threat of terrorism. I wonder if he would dare to repeat that in public after the recent London terrorist bomb attacks.

A favourite ploy by AGW alarmists is to repeat ad infinitem that the science about AGW has been settled and that there is consensus among scientists that it is happening and that it will have cataclysmic consequences for our planet. People using these consensus arguments forget that scientific truth is not determined by consensus. But apart from being unscientific, the consensus argument is also a myth. There are thousands of independent scientists who do not accept that the science behind Kyoto has been settled. "Independent" means not being dependent for one's livelihood on research funding from the public purse controlled by politicians for whom the AGW scare is a godsend. As Bob Carter recently told a Rotary group in Melbourne, each year between 3 and 4 billion dollars is being spent on climate research. Phil Maxwell makes the snide comment that "most of the Global Warming Deniers are elder members of the scientific community desperately carrying on a rearguard action". It is indeed true that a large proportion of these independent scientists are retired people. They can afford to be independent.

Of those thousands of independent scientists, hundreds are active in giving lectures, writing books, articles and letters to the newspapers, debating the science and discovering many flaws in it. I know of many New Zealand scientists who are AGW sceptics. I won't mention the names of those who have not spoken out publicly, but I can mention those who have been active in public: Bob Carter, professor of geology in Townsville Australia (originally from Otago University); Chris de Freitas, Associate Professor environmental sciences at Auckland University; Vincent Gray, retired chemist living in Wellington (who wrote a booklet "The Greenhouse Delusion", published in the UK); Augie Auer, the well-known meteorologist; and myself. Unfortunately, none of us is "in the pockets of the oil industry". Unfortunately, because I could do with some extra pocket money.

Scientific audits

In recent time, several people have started to carry out scientific audits of the science behind Kyoto. A good example is the audit of the "Hockey Stick" graph that forms one of the two major pillars for the conclusions in the "Summary for policy makers" in the 2001 Third Scientific Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It can be found 5 times in that publication and has been used extensively by politicians and GLOWDISC (GLObal Warming DIsaster SCenario) promoters. On this graph was based the conclusion that the climate has been stable over the last Millennium and that the 1990s was the warmest decade in a thousand (later extended to two thousand) years and that 1998 was the warmest year in that decade.

The Hockey Stick graph was first published by Mann, Bradley and Hughes in 1998 in Nature (vol. 392: 779-787). It is now generally referred to as "MBH98". Two Canadian statistical experts, McIntyre and McKitrick set out to audit the Hockey Stick. They had great trouble getting the necessary information from Michael Mann. He put many obstacles in their path and even refused to release his computer code, saying that "giving them the algorithm would be giving in to the intimidation tactics that these people are engaged in" and that "if we allowed that sort of thing to stop us from progressing in science, that would be a very frightening world". He apparently was not willing to accept that one of the litmus tests of a scientific theory is its reproducibility. Anyhow, McIntyre and McKitrick found serious flaws and deliberate manipulation of data in the methods used by MBH98 to obtain their Hockey Stick. They even found that that the statistical methods used by MBH98 always produces a hockey stick shaped graph, even when random numbers are used.

For those who want to acquaint themselves with this audit, details can be found here. The MBH98 statistical methods have also been criticised by the German Professor Hans von Storch, co-author of the book "Statistical analysis in climate research" (Cambridge University Press. But Mann still refused to release his computer code. The story of the Hockey Stick saga was then published in the Wall Street Journal (14th Feb 05). As a result of this, on 23d of June a committee of the US House of Representatives ordered Mann to release his code and to account for his activities in relation to the Hockey Stick. The same requests were made to the Chairman of the IPCC (not surprisingly, the IPCC is in total denial), the Director of the National Science Foundation, and to the two co-authors of the Hockey Stick paper, Bradley and Hughes. We now wait with baited breath for their answers.

The reason why the Hockey Stick is so important is the fact that it tries to do away with the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age (and further back with the Dark Ages Cold Period and the Roman Warm Period). Those natural climate fluctuations are an embarrassment to the hypothesis that mankind is mainly to blame for the present warming. In its first Scientific Assessment Report (1990), the IPCC still had a temperature graph showing the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. It is now clear in the 2001 report that the IPCC has deliberately eliminated these natural climate fluctuations with sleight of hand.

The second pillar of the IPCC scientific assessment report is the analysis of world temperatures, mainly from land-based stations. On these analyses is based the statement that the global temperature has risen by 0.6 centigrade since the middle of the nineteenth century and that mankind is to blame. The main author of these analyses is Phil Jones (e.g. Jones and Briffa, 1992, The Holocene, vol 2: 165-179). The quality of these analyses has been strongly criticised, based mainly on the quality of some of the data, especially from third world countries and on the influence of the so-called "Urban Heat Island effect". The temperature of large cities with lots of tar seal and concrete can be as much as 5 centigrades above normal. I remember a good anecdote about this. Some time ago, Paul Holmes ran a TV program about the temperature in Wellington. He interviewed the then Mayor of Wellington, Mark Blumsky, who was concerned that the temperature, measured at Kelburn, showed Wellington in a bad light and was bad for tourism. He had noticed that it was generally much warmer in the inner city. He therefore had ordered the thermometer moved from Kelburn to the inner city.

Like in the MBH98 case, some independent scientists asked Jones for his basic data. He first said that "the data was on one of many diskettes at his office and he could not locate it without going to a lot of trouble". When Warwick Hughes ( Warwick is a geology graduate from Auckland working in Australia. His website is worth a visit) also asked for those data he got the reply: "We have 25 or so years 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". No comment is necessary here.

I was recently invited to join a group of independent scientists in the Netherlands under the leadership of Professor Arthur R”rsch of Leiden University, which is preparing a submission to the Dutch Parliament asking for an independent scientific audit of the advice given to the government that made them decide to sign the Kyoto Protocol. It is high time that a similar request is made to the New Zealand government. I doubt if the Royal Society could fulfil that role, as it seems to have accepted the scientific validity of the AGW doctrine. It has become clear in recent weeks that the government's Kyoto sales pitch that it could make hundreds of millions of dollars from carbon credits has been phony and that the New Zealand public will now have to spend more than a billion dollars in buying credits. An audit is sorely needed but don't hold your breath that this will happen.

"Adolf" Lomborg

Phil Maxwell calls Bjorn Lomborg (author of the book "The Skeptical Environmentalist - measuring the real state of the world" - Cambridge University Press) "the darling of anti-environmentalists everywhere". The vilification of Lomborg is a long and sad saga. Lomborg is a statistician and an environmentalist. He was even a member of Greenpeace. However, when he started to collect material to counter arguments by the American economist Julian Simon, who had criticised many of the exaggerated claims by environmentalists, he found that Simon was right on many points. This led to his much-maligned book. The irony is that he based much of his book on official reports and statistics by international organisations such as the World Bank, Food and Agricultural Organisation, World Health Organisation, and many United Nations organisations. It is also ironic that he accepts that man-made greenhouse gases contribute to global warming.

But his main criticism is that the Kyoto Protocol will have negligible effects on climate change and that the estimated cost of implementing Kyoto, 150 billion dollars per year (!), would be much better spent in providing clean water and sanitation to the third world. But by analysing many of the exaggerated claims of environmentalists and finding them to be often incorrect, he upset their profitable eco apple carts. Environmental extremists attacked him with all the weapons at their disposal, no holds barred. He has even been called the "Antichrist" and Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the IPCC, compared him with Adolf Hitler.

CO2 not a pollutant

Talking about "polluting industries", Phil Maxwell is also perpetuating the myth that carbon dioxide is a pollutant. It does not matter how often independent scientists point out that CO2 is not a pollutant but a plant fertilizer and an essential ingredient for life on earth, they keep repeating this mantra. Hundreds of experiments with plants growing in an atmosphere with double the present level of CO2 have shown an increase in productivity of between 20 and 50 percent (references to these studies can be found on the excellent co2science website). Increased plant growth due to increased CO2 levels have been noted already in many areas.

2005 - the Year of the Great Awakening

I have been writing the occasional email newsletter, titled "Global Warming and Cooling". In Newsletter No 7 (June 2003) I wrote that the year 2005 would be "The Year of the Great Awakening". This was based on the Kyoto Protocol itself. In Article 3, paragraph 2, it states: "Each party included in Annex I [these are the developed countries who ratified the Protocol and who together account for 55% of all greenhouse emissions. Developing countries are exempt] shall, by 2005, have made demonstrable progress in achieving its commitments under this protocol." Well, we know by now that New Zealand will default. Emissions have risen more than 22 percent since 1990 (The Press, 12 July 2005). But other signatories to the Kyoto Protocol are not doing much better. The European Union has been one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the Kyoto Protocol and has been very scathing of the US for not signing Kyoto. However, emissions in Europe have risen by 16.4 per cent since 1990, while the US increase was 16.7 percent. Canada increased its emissions by 23.6 percent, and Japan 18.9 percent. Sobering figures.

Article 3, paragraph 9 states that subsequent Kyoto commitments (after 2012) have to be considered "at least seven years before the end of the first commitment period". That will be 2005 as well. As we know from last December's COP10 meeting in Buenos Aires, participating countries could not agree on any emission reductions after 2012. Future Kyoto targets will have to include developing countries. But countries like China and India, who are quickly developing into major greenhouse gas emitters, made it clear that they would not jeopardise their growing economies by any restrictive Kyoto agreements. But the biggest blow came from Italy, which declared that it would not sign up to any new agreements after 2012.

The big irony is the fact that economic growth and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are incompatible. This was also the big contradiction of the recent G8 conference in Gleneagles. Tony Blair had set two major items on its agenda: reducing poverty in Africa and tackling global warming. But as we can see from China and India, reducing poverty has to be accompanied by an increase in energy generation and thus an increase in emissions, unless all generation comes from nuclear power. And that would be anathema to environmentalists. New Zealand's economy is growing and the demand for electricity is growing by about 3 percent per year. Whatever the hype, wind power will only be able to make a small dent in that demand. The Green Party is against new hydro power, against coal-fired power stations and against nuclear power. Implementing their agenda will inevitably result in brown-outs and black-outs.

It is obvious that full implementation of the Kyoto Protocol would require a stop to any economic growth and the draconian plans for further drastic reductions in emissions (up to 60 to 80 percent for CO2) would require a substantial contraction of economies.

Even some politicians are waking up. Just before the G8 conference, on July 6, the Select Committee on Economics of the House of Lords in Britain released a report titled "The Economics of Climate Change". The report is highly critical of the British Government for not having carried out a proper costing of the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. It is also highly critical of the policies and actions of the IPCC. It urges the government to take a different approach to climate change in the future than the one followed for the Kyoto Protocol and to emphasise adaptation to climate change rather than dubious emission controls. The full 86-page report can be found here

Geologists as independent scientists

It is clear that the politicising of climate science has resulted in an abandoning of good scientific practice and ethics. Any critical scientific discussion of the science behind the AGW doctrine is shouted down, ridiculed or ostracised. But fortunately there are sufficient independent scientists who keep the flame of good scientific practice burning, although not much of this is reaching the general public. As explained above, there are groups who are now carrying out proper scientific audits and are looking into alternative theories to the one-eyed IPCC hypothesis. More studies are coming out about the role of the sun in climate change and several groups are revisiting the theory of greenhouse gases, especially the role of carbon dioxide, which was first formulated by the Swedish scientist Arrhenius in the nineteenth century.

Geologist can play an important role in these independent assessments. Geologic history tells us how climate has changed naturally at all time scales, from the two "snow-ball earth" periods in the Precambrian, through the ice ages in the Ordovician and Carboniferous-Permian, to the Cretaceous warm period, to the ice-age period we are living in now, and from the 1500-year climate fluctuations in the Holocene through the century-scale fluctuations in the past millennia (of which the present "Modern Warm Period" is one), to the climate effects of the 11-year sunspot cycles. Glaciologists can tell the AGW alarmists that the retreat of some glaciers is not due to AGW. They can point out that many glaciers have been retreating since the Little Ice Age, while others have been static or are advancing. They can point out that many glaciers started to retreat already in the eighteenth century, long before any increase in man-made greenhouse gases. For instance, the Franz Josef Glacier started to retreat in 1750 and has had several advances since then as well, the last one starting in 1996. Another example is the large Gangotri Glacier in the Himalayas which has been retreating since 1780.

Sea level rise caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions is another favourite scare topic of AGW alarmists. But geologists know that sea level has risen by 120 metres since the last ice age. They also know that there have been fluctuations in the Holocene. About 6000 years ago the sea level in this part of the world was about two metres higher than it is now. It went down after that and has been rising again for quite some time. It is also known that the rate of sea level change has not been accelerating since the middle of the nineteenth century, notwithstanding an increase in atmospheric CO2. A real nail in the coffin of alarmism was the report on sea level change in the Maldives by a group of INQUA scientists under the leadership of the INQUA president Professor Nils-Axel M”rner (Global and Planetary Change, vol 40: 177-182, 2004). The Maldives in the Indian Ocean has been a favourite scare subject of AGW alarmists. They tell us that this island group is about to disappear under the ocean waves due to our profligate energy lifestyle. But M”rner et al. found that sea level in the Maldives had been falling in the last 30 years.

We geologists can help to steer climate science away from the ideological hype and straight-jacket and return it to its proper functioning.

And the politicians lecture us about using trains instead of cars....: "The State Government promised to ease the squeeze but, as these pictures show, the Brisbane-Gold Coast train still earns its nickname the Bombay Express. Men in suits sit on the dirty floor, while women bring camp chairs and grab every available centimetre of space on crowded morning runs. Some wags suggest it won't be long before passengers clamber up on to the roof - as they do on packed trains in India - in order to get to work in Brisbane... Ms Veale challenged politicians to take the early-morning commute. "They have got no idea. They get chauffeur-driven to work - I'd like to see them stand up on the train for an hour, or worse, sit on the floor."


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

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

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


6 March, 2006


When the Environmental Protection Agency cuts allowable particle pollution levels more than 45 percent, you might expect commendations from environmentalists and the press. You'd be disappointed. EPA recently proposed reducing allowable daily levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from 65 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) down to 35 ug/m3. The change would nearly double the number of pollution monitoring locations that violate federal PM2.5 standards. Environmentalists were unimpressed. Clean Air Watch complained "President Bush Gives Early Christmas Present to Smokestack Industries." According to the American Lung Association "EPA Proposes `Status Quo' Revisions to PM [Standards]."....

A more realistic assessment is that EPA substantially tightened its PM2.5 standard, but by a bit less than its science advisory panel recommended, and not by nearly as much as environmentalists wanted. That this could be called "status quo" is a mark of how detached from reality the bizarre world of air pollution politics has become....

EPA's Clean Air Science Advisory Committee (CASAC), a group of outside scientists and health experts, recommended somewhat tougher standards than EPA proposed-a 30 ug/m3 daily limit, and a 13-14 ug/m3 annual limit. Activists wanted EPA to go further still. The Lung Association pressed for a daily standard of 25 ug/m3 and an annual of 12 ug/m3. This would have put about 75 percent of America's metropolitan areas in violation of the standards. Although EPA didn't go as far as CASAC recommended, calling EPA's proposal "status quo" is a gross misrepresentation. Environmentalists are also creating the false impression that current standards are weak and that little is being done to reduce particulate matter. For example, John Balbus of Environmental Defense claimed "The old standard was so weak that there was room to lower the number without actually making big improvements on the ground."

In reality, 35 percent of the nation's PM2.5 monitors exceeded the annual PM2.5 standard in 1999 -- the year that EPA began national PM2.5 monitoring, and two years after EPA adopted the standard. Only the 8-hour ozone standard had a higher violation rate. And regardless of where the standard is set, "big improvements" have indeed occurred on the ground. Average PM2.5 levels dropped 15 percent from 1999 to 2004.

Frank O'Donnell of Clean Air Watch pilloried the new standards for "not requiring any additional cleanup from the power industry beyond what's already planned under earlier, industry-friendly rules." O'Donnell fails to mention that those ostensibly "industry-friendly" power-plant rules reduced sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions nearly 33 percent between 1990 and 2003, and require future SO2 emissions to be reduced another 77 percent below 2003 levels. SO2 is by far the largest source of industrial PM2.5 in the eastern U.S., and existing requirements will get rid of most of it.....

It is possible that EPA's tougher PM2.5 standard won't require any new emission-reduction requirements in some metropolitan areas. If so, it won't be because the new standard is lax, but because EPA has already clamped down so severely on the major sources of PM2.5 that no additional regulations would be necessary. Leave it to environmentalists to turn the stringency of past regulations into an apparent liability....

The debate over where EPA should set PM2.5 standards also confuses process -- the standards -- with the actual measures that reduce PM2.5. The fact that federal air pollution regulations are generally national or at least multi-state in scope means that PM2.5 will continue to go down all over the U.S., including in places that already comply with EPA's proposed standards.

Could public debate on air pollution be any more absurd? EPA proposes a new standard that would reduce allowable peak PM2.5 levels by 45 percent and that would double the national PM2.5 non-attainment rate. Yet environmentalists call this "status quo" with a straight face, health scientists claim EPA ignored their recommendations, and journalists endorse these false assessments.

Environmentalists then criticize the standard on the grounds that it might not require adoption of any new regulations, ignoring that this could only be true if EPA had already adopted regulations sufficiently demanding to attain the new standard. Perhaps next time environmentalists would be appeased if EPA instead delayed any actual pollution reductions until after a new standard is adopted.

Polls continue to show that most Americans mistakenly believe air pollution has been worsening and that too little is being done to improve air quality. With our current band of "reliable sources" for air pollution information, is it any wonder?

More here


An email from John McLean (

Rignot and Kanagaratnam (2006) claim that atmospheric warming is the cause of the acceleration of Greenland's glaciers are highly doubtful.

For starters the acceleration appears to be occurring at a few glaciers in the west - Jakobshavn Isbrae, Nordenskiold and some "unsurveyed" glacier(s) for which the melting was estimated but lacks verification - and in the south east. By my calculation of the given figures, the "SMB 2005" values for glaciers in northern Greenland should total -0.4, not -2.3 and this new figures indicates a deceleration since year 2000.

(Rignot was quoted widely as saying that these northern glaciers are "waiting" to warm but what a metaphysical absurdity from a scientist!)

Jakobshavn Isbrae is more than 5km wide and from the picture in "Science" the Kanggerdlusuaq glacier appears to likewise be very wide. This suggests that the glaciers are grounded on subsea rocks and the weight of ice has acted as a brake.

A branch of the north-Atlantic drift current takes warm water down the east coast of Greenland and up the west coast to Disko Bay. Over the last 5 years this has produced a regular patch of warmer water off south-eastern Greenland and into the Davis Strait. (When I travelled up the west coast by coastal ferry in September 2003 the ship's captain remarked that winter sea-ice was no longer reaching as far south as it had 5 years before, which confirms both the current and the warming).

I surmise that these warmer waters have melted the bottom of various glaciers, which has reduced the friction on the rocks beneath and allowed the glaciers to accelerate. It is as simple as that!

Air temperature appears to have little or no effect. Over the last 4 years the annual average temperatures at Angmagssilak, in eastern Greenland, have been roughly the same as those for the much longer period from 1928 to 1963. The temperature in 2003 was abnormally high but those of 2002, 4 and 5 were exceeded several times in that earlier 35 year time-frame. From my recollection of graphs of the long-term variation in ocean levels no significant increase in sea level occurred during this extended period of local warming.

One wonders why some people are so enthusiastic about blaming atmospheric temperatures for every natural event. Could it be a repeat of the hype that followed 2002 being the warmest year since 1998 or it just that after more than 20 years the AGW lobby are still unable to prove their case?

PS. When I visited Jakobshavn at the end of summer 2003, at least 15km of ice extended from the last patch of open water back to the edge of the ice cap. The ice at least 10km upstream showed the kind of structure that "Science" shows in an image accompanying Dowdeswell's article and attributes to icebergs which formed and then rejoined the main glacier. A much more likely cause of fracturing is the traverse of the hills (probably of granite) seen in the background of the image. Never let the facts get in the way of a good caption!


From Science Policy

Under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization's Commission on Atmospheric Sciences, its Tropical Meteorology Research Program Panel has just issued a statement on hurricanes and global warming (here in PDF).

The statement is significant not only because it was drafted by nine prominent experts, but because it includes in its authorship Kerry Emanuel, Greg Holland (second author of Webster et al. 2005), Ton Knutson, and Chris Landsea. Frequent readers will recognize these names as people not always in agreement. That they came together to produce a consensus statement is good for the community, and also gives a good sense on where they agree and disagree.

While the statement has enough background and language to allow anyone to selectively cherry pick from it in support of any perspective, here is the take-home message from the statement

"The research issues discussed here are in a fluid state and are the subject of much current investigation. Given time the problem of causes and attribution of the events of 2004-2005 will be discussed and argued in the refereed scientific literature. Prior to this happening it is not possible to make any authoritative comment."

Therefore, for those of us not involved in primary research on hurricanes and climate change, any conclusions, or predictions about how future research will turn out, about the role of global warming in hurricanes will necessarily be based on non-scientific factors. If you are like the IPCC, then you will assume that observed climate phenomena can be explained by natural variability unless and until the thresholds of "detection and attribution" can be achieved. This is a high threshold for identification of greenhouse gas effects on climate, and it is of course not the only approach that could be taken. But it is the approach of the IPCC.

If you are politically or ideologically motivated to use the threat of stronger hurricanes in pursuit of some goal, then you will bet that a link will indeed be established. And similarly, if you are politically or ideologically motivated to discount the threat of stronger hurricanes in pursuit of some goal, then you will bet that no link is immediately forthcoming.

The reality is that the present state of science does not allow us to come to a conclusion that global warming has affected hurricanes (e.g., see this PDF). It is suggestive, and different experts disagree about what future research will tell us. I'd bet that this condition of uncertainty about future research will be with us for a long time. Thank goodness its resolution is not of particularly large importance for understanding and implementing those actions known with certainty to be most effective with respect to hurricane impacts (e.g., here in PDF).


An email from S. Fred Singer (

It seems to be generally accepted now that the frequency of tropical cyclones has not been increasing. But there is a valid scientific debate about the intensity of hurricanes -- not their frequency - and both sides may be right. Here is my personal view:

1. First, the physics of the problem: There is no question that hurricanes derive their energy from the latent heat of water vapor evaporated from the sea surface. Therefore, a warmer sea-surface temperature should produce a stronger hurricane.

2. But the Gulf of Mexico is generally warmer than the Atlantic - a well-known geographic anomaly. So it is only necessary for the North Atlantic Oscillation to shift the hurricane track into the Gulf. This may account for the observed cyclical pattern of intensity, which seems to match that of the NAO.


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

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

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


5 March, 2006


Comment from Riley Still (

Once again, "Science Express " has struck. The scary news now is that Antarctica is losing 36 cu miles of ice per year. In the we read:

Science Express reports a new study

"However the latest survey - using a new technique to measure the mass of ice with NASA satellites - has become the first to suggest that overall it is in 'significant decline'. They found it was losing 36 cubic miles a year, enough to raise global sea level by 0.4 millimetres a year.

"The report's chief author, Dr Isabella Velicogna of Colorado University, said: "This is the first study to indicate the total mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet is in significant decline. "
My in-depth research reveals that Antarctica has 7,900,000 cu miles of ice. My computerized ice balance model estimates it will take 220,000 years for all the ice to be gone!! By then we will be in the next Ice Age. At .4 mm per year, my computerized ocean sea levels are rising model estimates that it will take 1,000 years for sea levels to rise 15 inches!!

Note this extensive study lasted less than four years. Dr. Velicogna might have said "This is the only study to indicate ..."

My ark is ready!


An email from Munich mineralogist Friedrich Hahnemann ( points out that panic about resource scarcity goes back to the 1920s and the Nazis. More on that here

Some points about the water and oil wars: The 20th century saw a lot of violence. Most of it was due to vanity and lure for power, not at all for reasonable reasons like ressources or commodities. I don't believe that there is any war between France and Germany or France and England in the last thousand years that can be explained with lack of clean water. I think that clean reasoning in a civil society is the real scarce resource, since normally neighbors of a river profit from peaceful resolution of conflicts. Human culture started at rivers like Euphrates and Tigris.

But to explain the conflict between Israel and its neighbors with water rights is a total neglicence of the power and inherent risk of violent disagreement about religious and cultural opinions and attitudes. But who brought that up?

I would like to inform you about a now forgotten author, Anton Zischka. An Austrian-born best selling author in the twenties, millions of copies translated in a dozen languages - a self made man who could afford a private plane and a Finca on Mallorca based on his writing. He basically popularized the thesis that natural resources are the "real" reason for armed conflicts, based on then well renowned theoreticans like the Haushofer brothers (General and Geographer, founders of the so called Geopolitik).

Zischka's books in the thirties were sold world wide and were used for the Nazi propaganda effort, e.g. as text books in German Schools. Zischka positioned Germany (as did Haushofer for Japan) as pacifist and technology sharing anticolonist nation, only driven to fight by the oil and resource hungry US. This story is still quite popular today. Maybe, since people's beliefs turned green from brown, the theory holds more water.

But at least Germany starting really big wars like WWI and WWII had to do with stone-age minds ruling a top modern industrial society, not with water rights on the Rhine or Danube.


From Financial Times, 2 March 2006. The writer is visiting reader in science at Aston University, Birmingham

It is said that turkeys are so stupid that when it rains they stare up at the sky with their mouths open until they drown. Turkey farmers insist this is an apocryphal story put about by those who know nothing of the ways of Meleagris gallopavo.

There is a no less apocryphal tale about Homo sapiens, according to which humans stare up at the sky and do nothing as the earth's climate changes and their livelihoods go down the drain. It would be funny were it not at the heart of so many dire predictions of the effects of global warming. From cities vanishing under rising seas to global starvation as key crops fail, they blithely ignore the time-honoured response of humans confronted by climate change: adaptation.

When the glaciers retreated at the end of the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers downed spears and took up farming instead. When American farmers were hit by the Dustbowl droughts of the 1930s, they responded by switching to hardier crops, diversifying production and improving irrigation - which allowed them to ride out an even greater drought that struck in the 1950s.

Yet despite this long history of successful adaptation, the climate change debate remains doggedly focused on mitigation strategies, such as the Kyoto protocol, that seek to compel the whole atmosphere to do our bidding. Even the staunchest supporters of such mitigation policies would concede that they have thus far been more honoured in the breach than the observance. The reason is not hard to find: politicians are chary of doing anything that threatens economic growth, and mitigation carries a hefty price tag.

Politicians might be more keen to take decisive action if they knew what happens when adaptation is factored into the equation. The dangers of failing to consider adaptation have long been recognised. Almost a decade ago, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation warned that predictions of the impact of climate change that ignored adaptation were "unrealistic". In 2001, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, widely regarded as the voice of the climate science community, declared that adaptation must be considered alongside mitigation when developing strategies for dealing with climate change.

Yet as the UK House of Lords select committee on economic affairs pointed out last summer, adaptation remains the Cinderella of the climate change debate. Its report was summarily dismissed by climate scientists, who claimed the committee lacked the expertise needed to pronounce on the subject. Only climate scientists obsessed with mitigation could deny that by comparison adaptation has received scandalously short shrift.

Take the latest study of the likely effect of global warming on Africa, published this week by an international team of scientists in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It concludes that as crops wilt under heat and drought, African food production may be "severely reduced". Yields of maize, Africa's favourite crop, will be especially badly hit.

Only after reaching this headline-grabbing conclusion do the researchers state that they have taken no account of attempts farmers might make to avoid such a calamity, such as planting different crops or making better use of land and irrigation. They hint that a switch to other crops such as sorghum might help, but give few details.

When the effects of adaptation are taken into account, the results are frequently revelatory. In research about to appear in the journal Environment and Development Economics, a team led by Robert Mendelsohn of Yale University examines the economic impact of predicted climate change when adaptation is included. It finds that a warmer world can actually produce net economic gain - at least for the richest nations. In contrast, the poorest nations look set to suffer disproportionately, essentially because they have hot climates already.

This has important implications for policies for dealing with the impact of climate change. Because if rich nations actually thrive on a warmer planet, they will be in a position to assist more vulnerable nations to deal with the effects - without jeopardising their own economic growth.

Many questions have still to be addressed: what is the optimal mix of mitigation and adaptation, and how should rich nations assist those worst affected by global warming? But the biggest question of all is why climate scientists still seem so reluctant to accept that humans are more resourceful than the average turkey.


"We're fighting to improve the quality of life for everyone in our country. To build a dynamic economy we will put economic stability first so people know their mortgages are safe. To build a strong society we show that the right test for our policies is how they help the most disadvantaged in society, not the rich. We will improve public services for everyone, not help a few to opt out. And to build a sustainable environment we will put climate change and environmental policy at the heart of our agenda, not just an afterthought"

Unless you follow British politics closely, you would never guess. It is from the now sadly decayed British Conservatives.


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

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

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


4 March, 2006

Warming to Efficiency

Readers of recent news reports may think it's news that U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the main global-warming gas, are at an all-time high. The real news would be if they dropped steeply, which could only occur with a very warm winter (less space heating), a very cold summer (less air conditioning) or a huge recession, because it takes energy to make things.

Carbon dioxide has been called breath of our civilization, and as we are technologically constituted, it most certainly is. We burn fossil fuels (which combust mainly to carbon dioxide and water) for manufacturing, to go places, and to produce electrical power. While we could certainly substitute in more nuclear fuels for power production, the same forces that are so exercised about global warming being caused by carbon dioxide, in general, won't permit the nuclear option. (That being the definition of environmental insincerity.)

So it is not news at all that our emissions are at a record high along with GDP. What is more newsworthy is how the emissions per unit of GDP -- the economic bang for the energy buck -- continue their steady decline. We now produce a constant dollar's worth of goods and services with only 78% of the energy we used in 1990. In 1990, we used about two-thirds of the energy we used in 1970 for the same dollar's worth. These are remarkable increases in efficiency in the last 35 years.

The New York Times recently reported that the 2004 change in overall emissions was nearly double the annual average, neglecting to report that single-year statistics are virtually meaningless. If one had taken the average of the last five years and compared that to figures generated back to the mid-'90s, percent changes in emissions of carbon dioxide turn out to be remarkably constant.

For 1999-2004 the increase averaged 0.8% per year. From 1996 through 2001 the change averaged 1.0%. Given year-to-year fluctuations, these numbers are indistinguishable from each other.

The same applies on a global scale. Our computer models for global warming have assumed, for decades, that carbon dioxide would increase at 1% per year in the atmosphere. For those decades the real rate of increase has been quite constant, and less than half of 1%. In the ten years ending in 2004, the average rate of increase was 0.49%. Ten years before it was 0.41%, and ten years before that, 0.42%. This is why climate models have generally predicted too much warming, too fast -- about twice as much, in fact.

Taken together, all of these facts mean that most of the assumptions about the growth of global warming gases in the atmosphere have to be thrown out. There's little, if any, exponential increase, and the vibrant economies continue to produce more and more things with fewer increments of carbon dioxide.

But, if carbon dioxide is the cost of economic growth, it would seem obvious that it will continue its upwards ascent for the foreseeable future. Will it? The answer lies in the well-established trends towards increasing efficiency in economies such as the United States' (despite the large number of SUV's panting in increasingly long traffic jams). This did not happen here because of concerns about global warming -- because no one really gave much of a care about it until New Orleans got smacked by a Category 3 (yes, it's been downgraded) hurricane.

Instead, the increases in efficiency resulted because businesses compete with each other to produce things that cost less to run and build. And, if they are built, people will come. And so do investors. As an example of this process, get on your Yahoo financial tracker and plot the stock performance of Honda, Toyota, GM and Ford for the last two years. You'll find the share price of the producers of the Accord and the Camry up an average of 40% while the American companies have dropped 50% in value. This creates a snowball effect in a warming world. People in vibrant economies have capital to invest in increasingly efficient companies, which rewards them with more capital, which is re-invested etc.

The prospering companies are efficient in many ways. They use less energy to produce cars in their newer plants. Their cars use less energy on the road. Their labor forces tend to be relatively young and they haven't been promised the moon in benefits and retirement with 40% of their time on earth left to run. As these companies accumulate capital, they have been reinvesting it in development of even more efficient vehicles, some of which may emit no carbon dioxide at all, which means that some day the pressures for efficiency may indeed drive carbon dioxide emissions down. But, without investment in those technologies -- made by private individuals in publicly traded corporations -- be assured that development of the clean machines of the future will be delayed until the planet gets warmer than some might want it.


The Age of Corporate Environmentalism

Surprise--big business has learned that it's pretty easy being green. It's just a matter of finding inexpensive ways of accomodating Greenie nuttiness. Ya gotta keep the customers happy. To a businessman, a fad is just another market

Ask Bob Langert about the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and he starts to chuckle. "When we meet the regulators, it's kind of nice," says the senior director for social responsibility at the McDonald's Corporation. "We just got an award from the EPA. When we see the regulators, we always hope it's because they're giving us an award."

Such coziness between big business and big government might make readers nervous-but it's not what you think. McDonald's won this year's Climate Protection Award by cooperating with Greenpeace to build a prototype McDonald's restaurant with greener refrigerant technologies, which reduce problematic emissions from cooling units and cut energy costs by 17 percent. Cooperation between corporations and greens was done right, and everybody won.

Well, almost everyone won. It was a shame to lose a perfectly good bad guy. The idea of the rich corporate villain gleefully dirtying Mother Earth is powerful and appealing. Children of the 1980s encountered this supervillain in comics, movies, public awareness videos, and science textbooks. Times were good for mandatory recycling, for mandatory emissions reductions, for anything mandatory aimed at restraining corporate polluters.

But in the late '90s, something peculiar started happening. The men in suits were still middle-aged, round, and white. They were still just as concerned with profit and golf. Very few of them sported tie-dyed attire, aside from the occasional whimsical Jerry Garcia tie. But the men in suits started caring. Or at least acting like they cared. Which, if you ask a spotted owl, is the same thing. So environmental activists across the nation bought their own ties and started dealing with corporations as almost-equal partners in planet saving. Businesses in turn learned that it's pretty easy being green.

"What's hot right now are voluntary environmental programs," says Jorge Rivera, assistant professor at the George Washington University business school. Mandatory environmentalism is "effective, but expensive," Rivera says, and it often produces nothing but "greenwashing," where companies satisfy the letter of the law as quickly and as cheaply as they can rather than making a serous effort to innovate. (In some cases, this actually means an increase in environmental damage, as when harmful emissions are converted to less-regulated but more harmful forms.) And since "a lot of the big, obvious stuff has already been done," Rivera notes, it isn't really effective to mandate uniform change to bring about marginal gains. So to ward off excessive regulation, help the bottom line, and get brownie points at the same time, companies started playing nice with environmental groups.....

Oily P.R. Stunts

Environmental groups are (mostly) thrilled to have made so much progress-FedEx drivers in San Francisco use hybrid delivery trucks, Starbucks uses fewer disposable cups-but are still understandably wary of the corporations' motives. Perhaps you too suspect that companies are making nice with greens only for the good P.R. And perhaps you suspect that they only make changes when there's a profit to be made. If so, you are almost completely right.

But there are better and worse ways to strike the balance between the demands of shareholders and the demands of Greenpeace. For an example of a company apparently trying to single-handedly save the planet through expensive public relations alone, one needn't look farther than the corporate darling of serious environmentalists and greenish consumers alike: BP

BP is first among many companies that have opted to do their environmental penance in the glare of the spotlight. British Petroleum (recently rechristened BP, following KFC's model in removing unsavory words from its brand name) has been much ballyhooed for its commitment to the environment. Most of the ballyhooing is being done by BP itself.

A gas and oil company with $225 billion in revenue, BP is part of an industry that will keep environmental advocacy groups in business for as long at it exists. Yet these days BP is styling itself "Beyond Petroleum" and declaring that it's "thinking outside the barrel." BP's Environmental Team has crafted an elaborate advertising campaign and rebranding effort, recently expanded to the Web. Its goal: to convince the world that a company that sucks dead dinosaurs out of the earth, turns them into gasoline, and delivers that gas to SUVs can also be environmentally friendly enough to use a green and yellow sunburst (or is it a flower?) as its logo.

On the company's Web site, casual visitors can select from the following tabs: "About BP," "Environment and Society," and "Products and Services." In that order. Never mind that BP's spending on green projects constitutes less than half of 1 percent of its revenue. It publicly supports stricter pollution regulations and the Kyoto Protocols, the international agreement calling for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and gives money to groups that lobby for both. BP is selling itself as the anti-ExxonMobil.

Greening Home Depot

Home Depot offers another, perhaps more sustainable model of green-corporate cooperation. It decided to use its power in the lumber market to do some good-after a little gentle prodding from the Rainforest Action Network.

Ron Jarvis, now Home Depot's vice president of merchandising for lumber products, enjoys recounting the tizzy his career trajectory caused in environmental circles. In 1999 Jarvis' bosses asked him to leave his position as a regional merchandise manager and come to their Atlanta headquarters to serve as the environmental global product manager. A "shock wave went through some of the environmental groups," he says. They were aghast that "Home Depot had just taken one of their lumber guys and put [him] over the environment."

Politically speaking, the late '90s had been rough years for the company. The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) had targeted it for selling wood from illegally cut rainforests and old-growth forests. And when RAN targets you, expect more than a letter writing campaign. On May 25, 1999, the group announced a day of "ethical shoplifting" and encouraged its members to "borrow" timber from Home Depots across the country, which they later handed over to the FBI. A guy in a black bear costume affixed himself to one store's rafters and hollered through a bullhorn about Home Depot's failings. It wasn't clear that Home Depot, a national chain frequented by suburban men primarily interested in low prices and the horsepower available in competing models of riding lawnmowers, would have the will or the energy to transform itself.

In 2005 Home Depot sold more than $400 million in wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. It does not buy old-growth timber or wood from recently cleared rainforests. Its Web site boasts that "typical Team Depot activities include conservation projects, beautification efforts, and cleanups." Every Home Depot employee is required to keep an animal from an endangered species as a pet. (Just kidding about that last one.)

Four-hundred million dollars seems like a lot of wood, and Home Depot is the largest lumber buyer in the world. But its purchases account for only about 1 percent of the trees cut down worldwide. Still, says Jarvis, who has the authority to sever logging contracts with any supplier whose practices harm endangered forests or otherwise injure the environment, "Does that mean that we turn our back and walk away and say that we do not have a social responsibility, that the impact's not great enough? No."

Actually, as Jarvis recently reminded an audience at the Companies for Corporate Responsibility investor conference, Home Depot has been buying certified wood since 1994. The problem, it discovered, was that the supply of certified wood wasn't adequate; people still bought the cheaper, uncertified stuff if given the choice. After RAN's campaign grew more intense, Home Depot decided to use its market power to reduce the price of certified wood by selling it exclusively. The will, Jarvis says, was there all along. The company just needed a little reassurance that customers who wouldn't pay extra from conscience alone would still buy at Home Depot when asked to fork over a few more cents per two-by-four.....

The Greenpeace-Big Mac Ceasefire

In the run-up to the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Greenpeace threatened a campaign against companies (at the time sponsoring a "green" Olympic village) that failed to invest in new refrigerant technology. Greenpeace advocated propane as an alternative coolant, but "we didn't agree with their solution," says Langert, mostly because propane is "flammable, explosive. And we're not taking any safety risks." McDonald's partnered with Coca-Cola and other suppliers to develop a carbon dioxide-based cooling system. Then it built its prototype in Denmark.

As it turns out, the Denmark store uses a lot less energy-17 percent less-than a regular McDonald's. The hardware costs are higher, since McDonald's had to design many units from scratch, but the energy savings are incentive enough to keep working on the technology because of the long-term savings it provides. "We just had another refrigeration summit meeting," says Langert. He thinks it is important to encourage voluntary cooperation with other players, because "we need others demanding industry standards. We can't do it alone."

Even Greenpeace likes the results. "It's good," it announced in a press release about the EPA's Climate Protection Award, "to see Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Unilever stepping up with solutions. We look forward to continued work with these companies to reduce global warming emissions." Don't get too happy, though: "As always, Greenpeace approaches our relationships with these corporations very deliberately and seriously. While we are proud of our continuing work with Coca-Cola, McDonald's, and Unilever on green refrigeration technology, it is obviously not a Greenpeace stamp of approval on the overall environmental and social footprints of these companies."......

Langert, who is 49, says he knows he predates Murray's generation, which takes corporate cooperation on environmental initiatives for granted. He's sanguine about the future of the alliance, even as he looks with a jaundiced eye at some of his greener colleagues. He notes that he has had a career trajectory that they could do worse than to imitate. He says he has "managed to do the right thing, somehow, fairly often." He pauses, then sums up corporate environmentalism in a single tidy sentence: "We were willing to invest money into something, but if is really going to be sustainable, it has to be economical as well." ....

McDonald's executive Mats Lederhausen puts it more colorfully. Lederhausen was instrumental in instituting green-friendly policies when he ran McDonald's Sweden. Swedish McDonald's, not to be outdone by its Danish neighbors and their fancy HFC-free prototype, buys all of its energy from renewable sources and serves organic food. Lederhausen has long argued that "doing good is good business" and apparently can get quite upset at the environmental movement's residual anti-corporatism. When he was asked, by author Marc Gunther, to respond to the criticism that McDonald's could be truly socially responsible only by shutting down, he fired out this reply: "That really pisses me off, quite frankly. You don't attract 46 million customers daily by happenstance. You do it because you fill a need that is pretty strong and because your products are pretty damn good. I'm not saying there aren't a lot of things we can do better. But, I mean, give us a break. We deserve a break today!"

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CO2-induced global warming: a skeptic's view of potential climate change

(Excerpt from a paper by Sherwood B. Idso in which he looks at what has actually been happening rather than at "models")


Over the course of the past 2 decades, I have analyzed a number of natural phenomena that reveal how Earth's near surface air temperature responds to surface radiative perturbations. These studies all suggest that a 300 to 600 ppm doubling of the atmosphere's CO2 concentration could raise the planet's mean surface air temperature by only about 0.4øC. Even this modicum of warming may never be realized, however, for it could be negated by a number of planetary cooling forces that are intensified by warmer temperatures and by the strengthening of biological processes that are enhanced by the same rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration that drives the warming. Several of these cooling forces have individually been estimated to be of equivalent magnitude, but of opposite sign, to the typically predicted greenhouse effect of a doubling of the air's CO2 content, which suggests to me that little net temperature change will ultimately result from the ongoing buildup of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere. Consequently, I am skeptical of the predictions of significant CO2 induced global warming that are being made by state-of-the-art climate models and believe that much more work on a wide variety of research fronts will be required to properly resolve the issue.


Twenty years ago I was heavily involved in the measurement of solar and thermal radiation fluxes at the surface of the Earth, concentrating on their responses to changes in atmospheric composition that were produced by unique local weather phenomena. About the same time I also became interested in carbon dioxide induced global warming; and I decided to see if I could learn something about the subject from the natural experiments provided by the special meteorological situations I was investigating.

My idea was to determine the magnitudes of radiative perturbations created by various climatic events and observe how the near surface air temperature responded to the resultant changes in the surface radiation balance. From this information I sought to develop a surface air temperature sensitivity factor, defined as the rise in surface air temperature divided by the increase in surface-absorbed radiation that prompted the temperature rise. Then, by multiplying this factor by the increase in downwelling thermal radiation expected to be received at the surface of the Earth as a result of a doubling of the atmosphere's CO2 concentration, I hoped to obtain a rough estimate of the likely magnitude of future CO2 induced global warming.



As demonstrated by the results of the several natural experiments described above, a large body of real-world evidence points to the likelihood of a future CO2 -induced global warming of but a tenth to a third of what is currently predicted by theoretical numerical models of the Earth-ocean-atmosphere system. However, the observed global warming of the past century, which has occurred in concert with a 75 ppm rise in the air's CO2 content, has already exceeded the 0.4øC increase in temperature that my analyses suggest would require an atmospheric CO2 increase of fully 300 ppm; and it is only natural to wonder if this relatively large warming of the last hundred years was produced by the relatively small concurrent rise in the air's CO2 content. This question is of crucial importance, for if the global warming of the past century was wholly the result of the concurrent rise in atmospheric CO2 , it would imply that the primary conclusion derived from my natural experiments is incorrect.

Although the question cannot be unequivocally resolved at the present time, it is possible that the warming of the Earth over the last hundred years may well have been wholly unrelated to the concurrent rise in atmospheric CO2 ; for the observed temperature increase may have been produced by changes in a number of other climatically-important factors, such as the energy output of the sun, for example, which is looking more and more like a major determinant of Earth's climate each year (Baliunas & Jastrow 1990, Foukal & Lean 1990, Friis-Christensen & Lassen 1991, Lockwood et al. 1992, Scuderi 1993, Charvatova & Strestik 1995, Lean et al. 1995, Baliunas & Soon 1996, 1998, Soon et al. 1996, Hoyt & Schatten 1997). Indeed, it is even possible that the global warming of the past century may have been nothing more than a random climatic fluctuation.

That some alternative explanation of the observed warming is, in fact, quite plausible is readily evident when the temperature increase of the past century is viewed from the broader perspective of the past millennium. From this improved vantage point, the warming of the last hundred years is seen to be basically a recovery (Idso 1988b, Reid 1993) from the global chill of the Little Ice Age, which was a several-hundred-year period of significantly cooler temperatures than those of the present that persisted until the end of the nineteenth century (Grove 1988, Whyte 1995). And as ice-core data give no indication of any drop in atmospheric CO2 over the period of the Little Ice Age's induction (Friedli et al. 1984, 1986), something other than CO2 had to have initiated it, implying that the inverse of that something-or even something else (or nothing at all, in the case of a random climatic fluctuation) -is likely to have been the cause of its demise.

But what if temperatures were to rise even higher in the future? Here, again, the long historical perspective proves invaluable; for it reveals that the Little Ice Age was preceded by a several-centuries-long period of significantly warmer temperatures than those of the present (Le Roy Ladurie 1971, Lamb 1977, 1984, 1988, Keigwin 1996). And while the Earth was traversing the entire temperature range from the maximum warmth of this Little Climatic Optimum (Dean 1994, Petersen 1994, Serre-Bachet 1994, Villalba 1994) to the coolest point of the Little Ice Age, the CO2 content of the atmosphere, as inferred from ice-core data, varied not at all (Idso 1988b). Consequently, the Earth can clearly warm even more than it has already warmed over the last century without any change in atmospheric CO2 , suggesting that even continued global warming- which appears to have peaked (Hurrell & Trenberth 1997, Spencer 1997)-would imply very little (and possibly nothing at all) about the potential for future CO2 -induced climatic change.


Although the evidence I have presented suggests that a doubling of the air's CO2 content could raise Earth's mean surface air temperature by only about 0.4øC, there are a number of reasons to question whether even this minor warming will ever occur. There are, for example, a variety of ways by which rising temperatures may strengthen the cooling properties of clouds and thereby retard global warming. In addition, several biological processes that are enhanced by the aerial fertilization effect of atmospheric CO2 enrichment can directly intensify these climate-cooling forces.

With respect to the first of these subjects, it has long been recognized that the presence of clouds has a strong cooling effect on Earth's climate (Barkstrom 1984, ERBE Science Team 1986, Nullet 1987, Nullet & Ekern 1988, Ramanathan et al. 1989). In fact, it has been calculated that a mere 1% increase in planetary albedo would be sufficient to totally counter the entire greenhouse warming that is typically predicted to result from a doubling of the atmosphere's CO2 concentration (Ramanathan 1988). And as the typically predicted warming may be 3 to 10 times larger than what could actually occur, according to my interpretation of the real-world evidence I have presented herein, it is possible that but a tenth to a third of a 1% increase in planetary albedo may be sufficient to accomplish this feat.

Within this context, it has been shown that a 10% increase in the amount of low-level clouds could completely cancel the typically-predicted warming of a doubling of the air's CO2 content by reflecting more solar radiation back to space (Webster & Stephens 1984). In addition, Ramanathan & Collins (1991), by the use of their own natural experiments, have shown how the warming-induced production of high-level clouds over the equatorial oceans totally nullifies the green-house effect of water vapor there, with high clouds dramatically increasing from close to 0% coverage at sea surface temperatures of 26øC to fully 30% coverage at 29øC (Kiehl 1994). And in describing the implications of this strong negative feedback mechanism, Ramanathan & Collins state that `it would take more than an order-of-magnitude increase in atmospheric CO2 to increase the maximum sea surface temperature by a few degrees,' which they acknowledge is a considerable departure from the predictions of most general circulation models of the atmosphere.

In addition to increasing their coverage of the planet, as they appear to do in response to an increase in temperature (Henderson-Sellers 1986a, b, McGuffie & Henderson-Sellers 1988, Dai et al. 1997), clouds in a warmer world would also have greater liquid water contents than they do now (Paltridge 1980, Charlock 1981, 1982, Roeckner 1988). And as the heat-conserving greenhouse properties of low to mid level clouds are already close to the maximum they can attain (Betts & Harshvardhan 1987), while their reflectances for solar radiation may yet rise substantially (Roeckner et al. 1987), an increase in cloud liquid water content would tend to counteract an initial impetus for warming even in the absence of an increase in cloud cover. By incorporating just this one negative feedback mechanism into a radiative-convective climate model, for example, the warming predicted to result from a doubling of the air's CO2 content has been shown to fall by fully 50% (Somerville & Remer 1984); while a 20 to 25% increase in cloud liquid water path has been shown to totally negate the typically-predicted warming of a doubling of the air's CO2 content in a 3-dimensional general circulation model of the atmosphere Slingo 1990).

Another negative feedback mechanism involving clouds, which is estimated to be of the same strength as the typically-predicted greenhouse effect of CO2 (Lovelock 1988, Turner et al. 1996), has been described by Charlson et al. (1987). They suggest that the productivity of oceanic phytoplankton will increase in response to an initial impetus for warming, with the result that one of the ultimate by-products of the enhanced algal metabolism-dimethyl sulfide, or DMS-will be produced in more copious quantities. Diffusing into the atmosphere where it is oxidized and converted into particles that function as cloud condensation nuclei, this augmented flux of DMS is projected to create additional and/or higher-albedo clouds, which will thus reflect more solar radiation back to space, thereby cooling the Earth and countering the initial impetus for warming (Shaw 1983, 1987).

There is much evidence-700 papers in the past 10 yr (Andreae & Crutzen 1997)-to support the validity of each link in this conceptual chain of events. First, there is the demonstrated propensity for oceanic phytoplankton to increase their productivity in response to an increase in temperature (Eppley 1972, Goldman & Carpenter 1974, Rhea & Gotham 1981), which fact is clearly evident in latitudinal distributions of marine productivity (Platt & Sathyendranath 1988, Sakshaug 1988). Second, as oceanic phytoplankton photosynthesize, they are known to produce a substance called dimethylsulfonio propionate (Vairava-murthy et al. 1985), which disperses throughout the surface waters of the oceans when the phytoplankton either die or are eaten by zooplankton (Dacey & Wakeham 1988, Nguyen et al. 1988) and which decomposes to produce DMS (Turner et al. 1988). Third, it has been shown that part of the DMS thus released to the Earth's oceans diffuses into the atmosphere, where it is oxidized and converted into sulfuric and methanesulfonic acid particles (Bonsang et al. 1980, Hatakeyama et al. 1982, Saltzman et al. 1983, Andreae et al. 1988, Kreidenweis & Seinfeld 1988) that function as cloud condensation nuclei or CCN (Saxena 1983, Bates et al. 1987). And more CCN can clearly stimulate the production of new clouds and dramatically increase the albedos of pre-existent clouds by decreasing the sizes of the clouds' component droplets (Twomey & Warner 1967, Warner & Twomey 1967, Hudson 1983, Coakley et al. 1987, Charlson & Bates 1988, Durkee 1988), which phenomenon tends to cool the planet by enabling clouds to reflect more solar radiation back to space (Idso 1992b, Saxena et al. 1996). In fact, it has been calculated that a 15 to 20% reduction in the mean droplet radius of Earth's boundary-layer clouds would produce a cooling influence that could completely cancel the typically-predicted warming influence of a doubling of the air's CO2 content (Slingo 1990).

Another way in which the enhanced production of CCN may retard warming via a decrease in cloud droplet size is by reducing drizzle from low-level marine clouds, which lengthens their life-span and thereby expands their coverage of the planet (Albrecht 1988). In addition, since drizzle from stratus clouds tends to stabilize the atmospheric boundary layer by cooling the sub-cloud layer as a portion of the drizzle evaporates (Brost et al. 1982, Nicholls 1984), a CCN-induced reduction in drizzle tends to weaken the stable stratification of the boundary layer, enhancing the transport of water vapor from ocean to cloud. As a result, clouds containing extra CCN tend to persist longer and perform their cooling function for a longer period of time.

The greater numbers of CCN needed to enhance these several cooling phenomena are also produced by biological processes on land (Went 1966, Duce et al. 1983, Roosen & Angione 1984, Meszaros 1988); and in the terrestrial environment the volatilization of reduced sulfur gases from soils is particularly important in this regard (Idso 1990). Here, too, one of the ways in which the ultimate cooling effect is set in motion is by an initial impetus for warming. It has been reported, for example, that soil DMS emissions rise by a factor of 2 for each 5øC increase in temperature between 10 and 25øC (Staubes et al. 1989); and as a result of the enhanced microbial activity produced by increasing warmth (Hill et al. 1978, MacTaggart et al. 1987), there is a 25-fold increase in soil-to-air sulfur flux between 25øN and the equator (Adams et al. 1981). Of even greater importance, however, is the fact that atmospheric CO2 enrichment alone can initiate the chain of events that leads to cooling.

Consider the fact, impressively supported by literally hundreds of laboratory and field experiments (Lemon 1983, Cure & Acock 1986, Mortensen 1987, Lawlor & Mitchell 1991, Drake 1992, Poorter 1993, Idso & Idso 1994, Strain & Cure 1994), that nearly all plants are better adapted to higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations than those of the present, and that the productivity of most herbaceous plants rises by 30 to 50% for a 300 to 600 ppm doubling of the air's CO2 content (Kimball 1983, Idso 1992a), while the growth of many woody plants rises even more dramatically (Idso & Kimball 1993, Ceulemans & Mousseau 1994, Wull-schleger et al. 1995, 1997). Because of this stimulatory effect of elevated carbon dioxide on plant growth and development, the productivity of the biosphere has been rising hand-in-hand with the recent historical rise in the air's CO2 content (Idso 1995), as is evident in:

(1) the ever-increasing amplitude of the seasonal cycle of the air's CO2 concentration (Pearman & Hyson 1981, Cleveland et al. 1983, Bacastow et al. 1985, Keeling et al. 1985, 1995, 1996, Myneni et al. 1997),

(2) the upward trends in a number of long tree-ring records that mirror the progression of the Industrial Revolution (LaMarche et al. 1984, Graybill & Idso 1993), and

(3) the accelerating growth rates of numerous forests on nearly every continent of the globe over the past several decades (Kauppi et al. 1992, Phillips & Gentry 1994, Pimm & Sugden 1994, Idso 1995).

In consequence of this CO2 -induced increase in plant productivity, more organic matter is returned to the soil (Leavitt et al. 1994, Jongen et al. 1995, Batjes & Sombroek 1997), where it stimulates biological activity (Curtis et al. 1990, Zak et al. 1993, O'Neill 1994, Rogers et al. 1994, Godbold & Berntson 1997, Ineichen et al. 1997, Ringelberg et al. 1997) that results in the enhanced emission of various sulfur gases to the atmosphere (Staubes et al. 1989), whereupon more CCN are created (as described above), which tend to cool the planet by altering cloud properties in ways that result in the reflection of more solar radiation back to space. In addition, many non-sulfur biogenic materials of the terrestrial environment play major roles as both water and ice-nucleating aerosols (Schnell & Vali 1976, Vali et al. 1976, Bigg 1990, Novakov & Penner 1993, Saxena et al. 1995, Baker 1997); and the airborne presence of these materials should also be enhanced by atmospheric CO2 enrichment.

That analogous CO2 -induced cooling processes operate at sea is implied by the facts that:

(1) atmospheric CO2 enrichment stimulates the growth of both macro- (Titus et al. 1990, Sand-Jensen et al. 1992, Titus 1992, Madsen 1993, Madsen & Sand-Jensen 1994) and micro- (Raven 1991, 1993, Riebesell 1993, Shapiro 1997) aquatic plants, and

(2) experimental iron-induced (Coale et al. 1996) increases (acting as surrogates for CO2 -induced increases) in the productivity of oceanic phytoplankton in high-nitrate low-chlorophyll waters of the equatorial Pacific (Behrenfeld et al. 1996) have been observed to greatly increase surface-water DMS concentrations (Turner et al. 1996). There is also evidence to suggest that a significant fraction of the ice-forming nuclei of maritime origin are composed of organic matter (Rosinski et al. 1986, 1987); and the distribution of these nuclei over the oceans (Bigg 1973) has been shown to be strongly correlated with surface patterns of biological productivity (Bigg 1996, Szyrmer & Zawadzki 1997). Hence, there may well exist an entire suite of powerful planetary cooling forces that can respond directly to the rising carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere over both land and sea. And in view of the relative weakness of the CO2 greenhouse effect at current atmospheric CO2 partial pressures, as revealed by the natural experiments I have described herein-a likely warming of only 0.4øC for a 300 to 600 ppm doubling of the air's CO2 content-these CO2 -induced cooling forces could potentially negate a large portion (or even all) of the primary warming effect of a rise in atmospheric CO2 , leading to little net change in mean global air temperature.


There is no controversy surrounding the claim that atmospheric CO2 concentrations are on the rise; direct measurements demonstrate that fact. The basic concept of the greenhouse effect is also not in question; rising carbon dioxide concentrations, in and of themselves, clearly enhance the thermal blanketing properties of the atmosphere. What is debatable, however, is the magnitude of any warming that might result from a rise in the air's CO2 concentration. While admittedly incomplete and highly approximate general circulation models of the atmosphere predict that a 300 to 600 ppm doubling of the air's CO2 content will raise mean global air temperature a few degrees Celsius, natural experiments based upon real-world observations suggest that a global warming of no more than a few tenths of a degree could result from such a CO2 increase. Which conclusion is correct?

Several complexities of Earth's climate system make accurate predictions of global climate change very difficult for general circulation models of the atmosphere and probably account for the deviations of their predictions from those of the natural experiments I have described herein.

First, there are a number of planetary cooling forces that are intensified by increases in temperature and which therefore tend to dampen any impetus for warming; and many of these phenomena are only now beginning to be fully appreciated, much less adequately incorporated into the models.

Second, nearly all of these cooling forces can be amplified by increases in biological processes that are directly enhanced by the aerial fertilization effect of atmospheric CO2 enrichment; and most of these phenomena are also not included in general circulation model studies of potential CO2 -induced climate change.

Third, many of these cooling forces have individually been estimated to have the capacity to totally thwart the typically-predicted (and likely overestimated) warming of a doubling of the atmosphere's CO2 concentration.

Fourth, real-world measurements have revealed that contemporary climate models have long significantly underestimated the cooling power of clouds (Cess et al. 1995, Pilewskie & Valero 1995, Ramanathan et al. 1995, Heymsfield & McFarquhar 1996), even when demonstrating their ability to completely negate the likely overestimated global warming that is typically predicted to result from a doubling of the air's CO2 content.

In light of these observations, it is my belief that it will still be a very long time before any general circulation model of the atmosphere will be able to accurately determine the ultimate consequences of the many opposing climatic forces that are both directly and indirectly affected by the rising CO2 content of Earth's atmosphere. Consequently, although many equally sincere and thoughtful scientists may feel otherwise, I believe that these models do not yet constitute an adequate basis for developing rational real-world policies related to potential climate change.

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

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

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3 March, 2006


Bacteria Turn it into Biodegradable Plastic

Bacteria are everywhere, silently going about their business of breaking down cellulose, fermenting foods or fixing nitrogen in the soil, among a host of other activities. Given their ubiquity and diversity of functions, biotechnologists have been searching for new uses for different strains of the microscopic organisms, such as consuming oil spills or even capturing images. Now biologists at the University College Dublin in Ireland have found that a strain of Pseudomonas putida can exist quite happily on a diet of pure styrene oil--the oil remnant of superheated Styrofoam--and, in the process, turn the environmental problem into a useful, biodegradable plastic.

Kevin O'Connor and his European colleagues turned the polystyrene into an oil through pyrolysis--a process that heats the petroleum-based plastic to 520 degrees Celsius in the absence of oxygen. This results in a chemical cocktail made up of more than 80 percent styrene oil plus low volumes of other toxicants. The researchers then fed this brew to P. putida CA-3, a special strain of a common soil microbe, fully expecting that the oil would have to be further purified in order to enable bacterial growth.

But the bacteria thrived on this new diet, turning 64 grams of undistilled styrene oil into nearly 3 grams of additional bacteria. In the process, the bacteria stored 1.6 grams of the energy of the styrene oil as a biodegradable plastic called polyhydroxyalkanoates, or PHA. This plastic can stand up to heat but also breaks down more naturally in the environment than petroleum-based products. Thus, though the biology-powered process results in some toxic byproducts such as toluene and requires significant energy to drive the pyrolysis, it fuels hopes that Styrofoam--and the polystyrene molecule that makes it--can become more environmentally friendly.

This would be good news for the U.S., which produced three million tons of polystyrene in 2000, according to the EPA, and threw away 2.3 million tons of the stuff, consigning the waste to rest for long years in landfills. The PHA from this process could be turned to more productive uses; it is already being used to make everything from forks to vitamins. And the process might not just be useful for getting rid of disposable cups. "Due to the general applicability of pyrolysis for plastic conversion to an oil and the large number of microorganisms capable of PHA accumulation from a vast array of molecules, the principle of the process described here can be applied for the recycling of any petrochemical plastic waste," the scientists claim in the paper presenting their findings in the April 1 issue of Environmental Science & Technology. Apparently, bacteria recycle, too.


WTO and biotech food: Who really won?

The long-awaited World Trade Organization decision on biotechnology applied to agricultural products, finally released earlier this month, elicited a great deal of buzz throughout the business, financial and biotech communities. Most analyses scored it a resounding victory for the United States and its co-complainants, and a stinging defeat for European protectionism. The reality is that it is a partial and largely hollow victory. For not having achieved a more complete and meaningful success, the United States, Canada, and Argentina, which jointly filed the complaint, have only their own unscientific, excessively risk-averse regulatory policies to blame.

Details of the 1,000-plus-page decision are still largely confidential, but a leaked copy of the conclusions and recommendations section makes clear that the WTO bluntly scolds the EU for denying it had imposed a moratorium on biotech food approvals from 1998 to 2004.

That finding was a foregone conclusion. Until the WTO case was filed, European politicians freely admitted that a moratorium existed. Although anti-biotechnology activists hailed it as a sign of European moral superiority, in 2001 then-EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstr”m acknowledged that the moratorium was "an illegal, illogical, and otherwise arbitrary line in the sand." When it came time for a WTO defense, the Europeans flip-flopped by attempting to deny that a moratorium had ever existed -- but still, they argued, if it had existed, it would have been perfectly legal. This strategy is reminiscent of the lawyer who claims on behalf of his client: "My client denies that he was at the scene of the crime, but even if you can prove that he was, he denies that he was responsible. And if you can prove that he committed the crime, he didn't mean to. And he promises never to do it again."

Although the EU's position was weak, it is reassuring, nevertheless, to see both its illegal practices and mendacity acknowledged.

The WTO decision also makes clear that existing national bans on certain biotech foods in Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Luxembourg are blatant violations of those countries' treaty obligations. When the United States filed its initial complaint in 2003, European politicians insisted the move was unnecessary. EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy boasted, "We are confident that the WTO will confirm that the EU fully respects its obligations." But then, as now, the European Commission was famously impotent in persuading its rogue members to conform to EU policies. That those violative national bans all still exist argues the need for intervention by the international community. (Ironically, reflecting Europe's ongoing game of bureaucratic musical chairs, the current WTO Director General is none other than Pascal Lamy.)

The most important victory for the United States and its partners is the WTO's judgment that the EU failed to abide by its own regulations and has violated the provision against "undue delay" -- a significant term of art -- in its voting on applications for the marketing of twenty-five agbiotech products. The culprit here is the European Commission's highly politicized, sclerotic, two-stage approval process: Each application first must be cleared for marketing by various scientific panels, and then must be voted on by politicians.

Significantly, the WTO assumed the validity of "the conclusions of the relevant EC scientific committees regarding the safety evaluation of specific biotech products." Although all twenty-five product applications already had been approved by EU scientists, for transparently political reasons rather than concerns about consumer health or environmental protection, the EU Regulatory Committees and Council of Ministers repeatedly refused to sign off on the final approvals.

In this context, it is important to recall, as discussed further below, that these are superior products made with a state-of-the art technology. In 2003, EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs David Byrne acknowledged that the official European Commission position was that currently marketed, gene-spliced crop varieties pose no greater food safety or environmental threat than the corresponding conventional food varieties. The safety and usefulness of the technology have been endorsed by dozens of scientific bodies around the world, including the French Academies of Science and Medicine, UK Royal Society, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, American Medical Association, and many others.

The good news, then, is the WTO panel's chastisement of the European Union for failing to follow its own regulatory rules. The bad news is the absence from the panel report of any condemnation of those rules themselves, in spite of the fact that they are blatantly unscientific and clear violations of the trade treaties enforced by the WTO....

It is unlikely that WTO's slap on the wrist will induce any major change in EU policy. At a "background" briefing on February 8, an "EU official" lashed out at the WTO decision: "It is nevertheless clear, beyond any doubt, that the EU will not have to modify its GMO ["genetically modified organisms"] legislation and authorization procedures and that the main thrust of the panel's conclusions concern the past . . . It is therefore not clear, and it never was, why the complaining parties brought this case forward in August 2003 when they were fully aware that the new EU regulatory system was to be applicable only a few months later." (In other words, we deny that we committed the crime, but if it can be proved that we did, we promise not to do it again.)

As long as these defiant pronouncements and unscientific policies remain, Europe will continue to foster a hostile legal environment for biotech products. Even if the EU does approve some of the twenty-five pending biotech products, because uncertainty is anathema to R&D -- especially in a sector in which most new products are low-value-added -- few companies are likely to risk the tens of millions of dollars in regulatory costs to pursue new ones. Even worse, the less developed nations of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, which once anticipated that agricultural and food biotechnology could provide them a brighter and more self-sufficient future, will continue to be shut out of the important European market by policymakers' callous obstructionism.

The limitations of the WTO decision are not the fault of the organization, but of national regulatory policies worldwide that defy sound science and common sense. The only winners from such wrong-headed public policy are European and other government regulators, whose bureaucracies will remain fat, happy and gratuitous; and anti-science activists, who rejoice at excessive, unscientific, stultifying regulation. The biggest losers are the rest of us, who systematically will be denied access to safer, more nutritious, and affordable products.

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Not seeing the Climate Forest for the Trees

A recent article appearing in the journal Nature discusses the finding of a new source of atmospheric methane from plant growth, in particular from forests. Methane is a greenhouse gas. Emissions of methane, like those of its more famous counterpart carbon dioxide, have been increasing during the last two centuries as the planet's population and economic activity have increased. Methane has also been linked to the recent increases in global temperatures, though the rate of increase for atmospheric methane has slowed in the last decade or so

Forests, especially those with younger trees, serve to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, as many studies have shown. Some countries, such as the United States, are asking for carbon credit in any international carbon control schemes for maintaining healthy forests. That said, one of the reactions to this article from those who follow the global climate change debate and blame humanity for recent climate change has already taken the following form: Countries such as the United States should not be allowed to claim any 'carbon credit' for re-forestation.

However, in the Nature study, the authors themselves do not claim that this newly-found natural source of atmospheric methane is leading to an increase in greenhouse gasses. Instead, they try to account for this new "source" within the parameters of what is presently known about the methane budget in the climate system. In other words, this new source overlaps with other known sources of atmospheric methane, such as fossil fuel use, animal and rice agriculture, and landfills

The Nature study also supports one of the main arguments that has been made for decades by scientists more skeptical of claims of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change. These scientists have argued that the climate system is not simple to understand and that there is still a lot we need to learn. This lack of knowledge is an especially acute problem when we consider the interactions between one part of the climate system and another.

Some background information is in order here. Climate scientists look at the earth-atmosphere system as an integrated system that is generally thought of as being "closed"; that is not gaining or losing mass to outer space even if there is energy exchange between our planet and outer space.

The earth-atmosphere system is composed of five sub-systems, each of which exchange mass and energy with each other. These five sub-systems are the: a) atmosphere, b) oceans, c) ice - covered regions (cryosphere), d) land masses (lithosphere), and e) plant and animal life (biosphere). The complex interaction among these separate parts of the system has been problematic for climate modelers to represent adequately and is one of the reasons that these models are not considered entirely reliable for predicting future climate changes. It is the study of these kinds of physical processes where there are discoveries waiting to be made that will greatly advance our understanding of the environment, and will require the cooperative efforts of scientists with different specialties.

Additionally, the Nature study demonstrates that there is still more work to be done regarding the global budgets or cycles of both carbon dioxide and methane and how these cycles may have changed over the past century. So while there are those who will be tempted to use the Nature study to promote more of the doom and gloom global warming agenda, the study is actually a more powerful supporter of the skeptics' arguments.

Finally, this new publication should also put a large dent in the argument put forth by environmentalists (and some scientists themselves) that the science surrounding global warming is already settled and that the debate needs to shift to what needs to be done to address global warming.


'Oil Addiction' Talk Boosts Enviro Leftists

“America is addicted to oil.”

With these five words in his State of the Union speech, President George W. Bush confounded steadfast allies on energy policy and emboldened his bitterest enemies. Political sages often counsel paying more attention to deeds than to words, but in this case, the President’s irresponsible rhetoric is likely to have far more damaging consequences than the minor policy changes he went on to recommend.

The addiction remark was the top headline in newspapers across the country and around the world. Environmental pressure groups quickly jumped on the President for admitting the obvious while still refusing to do anything about it. For example, Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, wrote: “It was bizarre … this President seems clueless about addiction. You don’t follow up your first acknowledgement of your problem by saying that in 15 or 20 years you will cut back or seek treatment.”

Fill Your Chevy

The environmentalists are correct that the policies offered don’t amount to much. Bush proposed to reduce our oil imports from the Middle East by 75% by 2025 by increasing funding for research into new energy technologies by 22%. For automobiles, the President has decided that the fuel of the near future is going to be ethanol produced “not just from corn, but from wood chips and stalks or switch grass.”

Bush’s goal is meaningless. Only 20% of our current imports come from the Middle East, but even if it were zero, supply disruptions there (or anywhere) will raise the price of oil for everyone, because prices are set in a world market.

Second, the policies proposed are ridiculous. Over the past 35 years, the Department of Energy has spent billions and billions of taxpayer dollars on research into the not-so-new technologies referred to in the President’s speech without much to show for it. For example, ethanol (that is, ethyl alcohol—the stuff we drink) can be made from cellulosic materials such as wood chips, but decades of research have so far failed to make production commercially viable even with the huge federal subsidies ethanol producers receive.

Even if you agree with the goal and the policies, calling our use of oil an addiction is still a huge mistake. No one is addicted to oil or gasoline. I don’t wake up in the middle of the night with a sudden urge to sneak out of the house and go top off my Chevy’s tank at the nearest pusher’s roadside stand. I do buy lots of gasoline because it’s the best value product that gives me the mobility to do what I want to do.

Making us feel guilty about using energy is bad enough. Much worse is the implication that the producers of petroleum products are somehow doing something immoral by selling a product that we would be better off without. Thus President Bush has contributed significantly to the ongoing process of de-legitimizing (and even demonizing) the oil industry and is thereby undermining the ability of one of our most vital industries to continue to produce all the energy we need.

Five Little Words

This is not just a theoretical possibility. The day after his speech, environmental groups were sending out lists of all the policies that would be necessary to get us off our oil habit. These include much higher corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards for cars and trucks, much higher gas taxes, and windfall-profits taxes on oil company profits. Although the White House also said the next day that the administration still fully supports the pro-energy policies that Bush campaigned on in the 2000 and 2004 elections, his five little words had already worsened the prospects in Congress for legislation to open a small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or offshore areas in the Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas production. And Sen. Arlen Specter (R.-Pa.) immediately used the President’s speech to call for anti-trust investigations of excessive oil company profits.

Environmentalists have been pushing the oil addiction talk for years. Now and for years to come, whenever anyone argues for policies that would help increase oil supplies and keep gasoline affordable, they will be able to reply, “Even President Bush agrees that we need to kick the oil habit.”



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

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

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


2 March, 2006

Here Comes Lunar Power

How fitting! Though if I have got my physics right, it is really the rotational energy of the earth that is being tapped by these schemes

A drama is unfolding in New York City's East River. This summer the Popsicles at a Gristedes supermarket on Roosevelt Island, midstream between Manhattan and Queens, will be kept icy by power generated just a stone's throw from the riverbank. Anchored 30 feet down, six underwater turbines will turn day and night, driven by the tidal flows in the channel. At a fish-friendly 35 rpm, the propellers will crank out up to 200 kilowatts of clean power, or roughly half the peak needs of the supermarket.

Projects like this one are still small fry. But hydropower, the granddaddy of green energy, is making a comeback. Think Hoover Dam, but less visible and a whole lot easier on the environment. This born-again breed of clean energy isn't yet on the agenda for George W. Bush, who is out barnstorming the nation on behalf of renewable power. The President is pointing to the earth for plant-based ethanol, to the sky for wind power, and to the sun for photovoltaics. But he should also be pointing to the moon, say fans of the new hydropower, and to the seas that lie below it. Tugged by lunar gravity and stirred by wind and currents, the oceans' tides and waves offer vast reserves of untapped power, promising more oomph than wind and greater dependability than solar power.

The appeal of next-generation hydropower is hard to miss. "It's local, reliable, renewable, and clean. Plus, it's out of sight," says Trey Taylor, president of Verdant Power LLC, the Arlington (Va.) startup developing the East River site. Adds Roger Bedard, ocean energy leader at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the industry's research-and- development arm: "Offshore wave and tidal power are where wind was 20 years ago, but they'll come of age faster." By 2010, Bedard predicts, the U.S. will tap about 120 megawatts of offshore wave energy -- enough to power a small city -- up from virtually zero today.

The planets are certainly in alignment for hydro. Prices for natural gas and coal are high, making renewables more cost-competitive. And in an effort to halt climate change and cut energy imports, 19 states have mandated that a share of their power come from green sources. Demand for alternatives is soaring: U.S. wind capacity surged by nearly 2,500 megawatts last year, up 35%, and solar is sizzling.

Wind and solar won't be able to satisfy all the green-power mandates. So more than two dozen companies worldwide are developing systems to unlock the power of waves and currents. The first to sell devices to a commercial project is Edinburgh's Ocean Power Delivery Ltd. Its Pelamis system is a snake-like steel tube that floats, semi-submerged, in the ocean.

In its Scottish factory, OPD is putting the finishing touches on three of these 400-foot-long machines. This summer they'll be towed to a site three miles off Portugal's northwest coast and hooked into the power grid. Lying low in the water, the snakes are invisible from a distance, unlike offshore wind farms that are causing "not in my backyard" complaints across the Atlantic, in Cape Cod. Initially the project will supply 2,500 kilowatts of juice, enough to run 1,500 Portuguese homes. OPD hopes to have 30 units at the site by 2008, pumping out enough current to power a town of 15,000 homes.

With its vast stretches of shoreline, the U.S. has some 2,300 terawatt-hours of potential near-shore wave power, estimates EPRI. That's more than eight times the yearly output of the nation's existing fleet of hydroelectric dams -- "a very significant resource," says Bedard. What's more, since water is heavier than air, marine systems pack a bigger punch than wind power. Because they work not by impounding rivers behind costly bulwarks but by tapping water's energy as it ebbs, flows, rises, or falls, upfront costs are lower than for dams. Maintenance to keep away barnacles and similar "biofouling" generally runs higher than for wind. Still, on balance, wave energy will evolve to be cheaper than wind was at similar levels of development, Bedard believes.

The power is more predictable, too. Unlike dam-based hydroelectric generators, which depend on rain or snowpack to keep current flowing and which shut down during droughts, newer "hydro- kinetic" systems exploit less capricious natural forces. "Lunar power" is the term offered by experts such as George Hagerman, a senior research associate at Virginia Tech and co-author of a recent EPRI marine-energy study. "You can't know if the wind will be up in an hour," he says, "but you can predict the tide 1,000 years from now."

More here


Since global warming should INCREASE evaporation and hence precipitation, the reasoning has to be pretty devious. Making deserts green is the real "threat"

Across the world, they are coming: the water wars. From Israel to India, from Turkey to Botswana, arguments are going on over disputed water supplies that may soon burst into open conflict. Yesterday, Britain's Defence Secretary, John Reid, pointed to the factor hastening the violent collision between a rising world population and a shrinking world water resource: global warming. In a grim first intervention in the climate-change debate, the Defence Secretary issued a bleak forecast that violence and political conflict would become more likely in the next 20 to 30 years as climate change turned land into desert, melted ice fields and poisoned water supplies. Climate campaigners echoed Mr Reid's warning, and demanded that ministers redouble their efforts to curb carbon emissions.

Tony Blair will today host a crisis Downing Street summit to address what he called "the major long-term threat facing our planet", signalling alarm within Government at the political consequences of failing to deal with the spectre of global warming. Activists are modelling their campaign on last year's Make Poverty History movement in the hope of creating immense popular pressure for action on climate change.

Mr Reid used a speech at Chatham House last night to deliver a stark assessment of the potential impact of rising temperatures on the political and human make-up of the world. He listed climate change alongside the major threats facing the world in future decades, including international terrorism, demographic changes and global energy demand. Mr Reid signalled Britain's armed forces would have to be prepared to tackle conflicts over dwindling resources. Military planners have already started considering the potential impact of global warming for Britain's armed forces over the next 20 to 30 years. They accept some climate change is inevitable, and warn Britain must be prepared for humanitarian disaster relief, peacekeeping and warfare to deal with the dramatic social and political consequences of climate change.

Mr Reid warned of increasing uncertainty about the future of the countries least well equipped to deal with flooding, water shortages and valuable agricultural land turning to desert. He said climate change was already a contributory factor in conflicts in Africa. Mr Reid said: "As we look beyond the next decade, we see uncertainty growing; uncertainty about the geopolitical and human consequences of climate change. "Impacts such as flooding, melting permafrost and desertification could lead to loss of agricultural land, poisoning of water supplies and destruction of economic infrastructure. "More than 300 million people in Africa currently lack access to safe water; climate change will worsen this dire situation." .....

More here


(From BBC News Online, 7 September 2004)

The solution to one of the thorniest problems in the Middle East may be taking shape on an anonymous-looking building site in south-west Israel. Private contractors are building what they call a "water factory". And they believe they may have found the Holy Grail, the Philosophers' Stone: an economical way to turn sea water into high quality drinking water.

It has become almost a cliche in the Middle East that the most divisive issue is not land, not oil, but water. In fact many experts believe water will be the cause of the next war in the region. So the prospect of limitless supplies of cheap drinking water has the engineers here very excited indeed. "Thinking about this concept of water factory, I think that the water problems, not only in the Middle East, but in the rest of the world can be solved, at comparatively competitive prices," enthused Gustavo Kronenberg, one of the engineers in charge of the project. "There is no problem of water, the problem is to get out the salt. There is plenty of water in the sea."

But the real problem until now has been the cost. Water desalination has been the technology of last resort, the Rolls-Royce solution for a rich desert kingdom like Saudi Arabia. Now this plant at Ashkelon, on Israel's Mediterranean coast, promises to provide water at around $0.52 a cubic metre. That's only marginally more expensive than the existing water costs in Israel. At the moment the water company provides supplies at around US $0.45 a cubic metre. The water from the new plant will be higher quality, and costs are coming down all the time. In fact costs are going down so fast that the makers are even discussing building desalination plants in rainy old England.

When it is finished next year the Ashkelon plant will produce 100 million cubic metres a year. That's roughly one seventh of the domestic water demand in Israel (excluding agriculture and industry).

The key to the success is a technology called "reverse osmosis". Essentially this involves water being pushed through a membrane or filter at a very high pressure. That high pressure means it uses a lot of energy. At the Ashkelon plant they have cut the costs by building their own power station as part of the unit. New technology recycles spare energy as part of the process. The membranes themselves are being continually upgraded to improve efficiency as well.......


Australia's new chief scientist is an award-winning molecular plant science expert who preaches the benefits of genetically modified foods. After a nine-month search to fill the vacant post, CSIRO scientist Jim Peacock, 68, will take on the role of the nation's top adviser on science. Former chief scientist Robin Batterham resigned in May after a storm of controversy over his part-time role and claims of a conflict of interest with his private-sector employment as chief technologist at mining giant Rio Tinto.

Mr Peacock is almost certain to take on the job full-time after previously criticising Mr Batterham's part-time role. Described as one of the CSIRO's "living treasures", Mr Peacock led one of the organisation's most successful sections, the plant industry division, for 25 years. He has scotched arguments that GM crops could become eco-vandals by rejecting claims genes could "jump the fence" and infect neighbouring crops with GM-modified genes.

One of his passions is the secrets behind the genes that control when a plant flowers the key to developing GM crops. Last year, the agri-scientist warned that state government bans on the planting of GM canola crops were costing the economy hundreds of millions of dollars worth of exports. 'We can change our foods so that our most common staple foods will help guard against the onset of these diseases and will make a significant contribution to reducing the enormous expenditure of therapeutic medicine," he told the National Press Club at the time. "Diabetes is the epidemic of the 21st century. If the important starch component of these cereals had a low glycemic index, we would be a long way to reducing the incidence and severity of diabetes."

Mr Peacock was also a co-recipient of the inaugural Prime Minister's Science Prize in 2000 and is a member of the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council. In 2004, Mr Peacock slammed the Howard Government's attempts to back money-spinning science at the expense of basic, "public good" research. As president of the Australian Academy of Science, Mr Peacock has also argued the position should be full-time to ensure the chief scientist could advise the government without any suggestion of bias.



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

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

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


1 March, 2006


They were causing global warming earlier this year

Europe's "Little Ice Age" may have been triggered by the 14th Century Black Death plague, according to a new study. Pollen and leaf data support the idea that millions of trees sprang up on abandoned farmland, soaking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This would have had the effect of cooling the climate, a team from Utrecht University, Netherlands, says. The Little Ice Age was a period of some 300 years when Europe experienced a dip in average temperatures.

Dr Thomas van Hoof and his colleagues studied pollen grains and leaf remains collected from lake-bed sediments in the southeast Netherlands. Monitoring the ups and downs in abundance of cereal pollen (like buckwheat) and tree pollen (like birch and oak) enabled them to estimate changes in land-use between AD 1000 and 1500. The team found an increase in cereal pollen from 1200 onwards (reflecting agricultural expansion), followed by a sudden dive around 1347, linked to the agricultural crisis caused by the arrival of the Black Death, most probably a bacterial disease spread by rat fleas. This bubonic plague is said to have wiped out over a third of Europe's population.

Counting stomata (pores) on ancient oak leaves provided van Hoof's team with a measure of the fluctuations in atmospheric carbon dioxide for the same period. This is because leaves absorb carbon dioxide through their stomata, and their density varies as carbon dioxide goes up and down. "Between AD 1200 to 1300, we see a decrease in stomata and a sharp rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide, due to deforestation we think," says Dr van Hoof, whose findings are published in the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

But after AD 1350, the team found the pattern reversed, suggesting that atmospheric carbon dioxide fell, perhaps due to reforestation following the plague. The researchers think that this drop in carbon dioxide levels could help to explain a cooling in the climate over the following centuries. From around 1500, Europe appears to have been gripped by a chill lasting some 300 years.

There are many theories as to what caused these bitter years, but popular ideas include a decrease in solar activity, an increase in volcanic activity or a change in ocean circulation. The new data adds weight to the theory that the Black Death could have played a pivotal role.

Not everyone is convinced, however. Dr Tim Lenton, an environmental scientist from the University of East Anglia, UK, said: "It is a nice study and the carbon dioxide changes could certainly be a contributory factor, but I think they are too modest to explain all the climate change seen." And Professor Richard Houghton, a climate expert from Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts, US, believes that the oceans would have compensated for the change. "The atmosphere is in equilibrium with the ocean and this tends to dampen or offset small changes in terrestrial carbon uptake," he explained.

Nonetheless, the new findings are likely to cause a stir. "It appears that the human impact on the environment started much earlier than the industrial revolution," said Dr van Hoof.



Arctic weather is set to return with a vengeance this week as icy blasts chill most of Britain. Weather forecasters say that temperatures could plunge to as low as minus 6C (22F) in some areas, as snow and severe frost endured in Scotland overnight fan out across England. Last night gritters were out in Lincolnshire, East Anglia and the South West, and the Highways Agency told drivers to look out for stretches of ice on roads that they had not managed to treat. A spokesman said that drivers should watch the forecasts and not go out without a shovel.

Spring is supposed to begin tomorrow. "Mother Nature does not always stick to her calendar," a spokesman for the Met Office said. "The next few days will be a timely reminder that winter is still with us." Overnight temperatures in northern Scotland were expected to drop to minus 15C, with snow settling up to 20cm (8in) deep. Daytime temperatures there are unlikely to rise above freezing.....

From December until mid-February, colder conditions swept west through Europe and across southeast and southern Britain. Average temperatures dropped below the average for this period from 1971 to 2000. In southern England it has been the coldest December and January for nine years...

But the evidence from Britain's gardens is in line with the predictions by the Met Office. Guy Barter, of the Royal Horticultural Society, said that English gardens had suffered colder than average temperatures and little rain, while Scotland's shrubberies benefited from more normal levels of precipitation. At the RHS Garden at Wisley, in Surrey, temperatures fell to minus 6C in November, the lowest recorded there since 1976. "We have seen milder winters in the last four or five years," Mr Barter said. "This one has come as a bit of a shock."

More here

Protect Private Property Rights, 85 Groups Tell Senate, in Endangered Species Act Reform

Today, a letter signed by 85 major national and state policy organizations was delivered to Senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee. The letter warns Senators that any Endangered Species Act reform effort must include strong private property rights protections. The coalition letter was spearheaded by The National Center for Public Policy Research. "Whatever action the Senate takes on ESA reform should reflect the national, bipartisan outcry for strong property rights protections," said David Ridenour, vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research. "Quite simply, when the government takes your property, the least it can do is pay for it."

National policy organizations signing the letter include: Coalitions for America, the American Conservative Union, the National Taxpayers Union, Eagle Forum, National Center for Policy Analysis, 60 Plus Association, National Legal and Policy Center, the Property Rights Foundation of America, and the American Family Association, among many others.

The letter was also signed by the Honorable Edwin Meese III, who served as U.S. Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan, and the Honorable Don Hodel, who served as both U.S. Secretary of Interior and Secretary of Energy in the Reagan Administration. Former Senator Malcolm Wallop (R-WY) signed the letter as well.

State policy groups, including the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Oregonians in Action, the James Madison Institute, the Illinois Policy Institute, and the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, among others, also signed the letter. "Today, private landowners live in fear of the ESA. Those who harbor endangered species on their property or merely own land suitable for such species can find themselves subject to severe land use restrictions that can be financially devastating," said Ridenour. "This creates a perverse incentive for landowners to preemptively 'sterilize' their land to keep rare species away. Such sterilizations benefit no one - least of all the species the ESA was established to protect." "Property owners should not be punished for being good environmental stewards, yet that is exactly what the ESA does," said Peyton Knight, director of environmental and regulatory affairs for The National Center.

In order to fix the ESA's perverse incentive problem, the letter says property owners who are denied the use of their land should be given 100 percent, fair market value compensation for losses. This would bring the ESA in line with the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees such compensation ("nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation"). "Americans nationwide were outraged when, in Kelo v. City of New London, the Supreme Court ruled that government could evict property owners to financially benefit private interests," said Knight. "As terrible as eminent domain abuse is, at least the victims in eminent domain cases are compensated. Landowners who lose their property under the Endangered Species Act don't receive a dime."

Under the current ESA, landowners who apply to the Department of Interior for permission to use their property, are often forced to wait years for a response - years during which they often are unable to use the land they legally own, and on which they pay taxes.

The letter suggests that establishing a simple time limit within which the Department of Interior must issue final decisions to landowners' requests could prevent this injustice.

Meaningful ESA reform faces a big hurdle in the Senate, as the chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Act is liberal Senator Lincoln Chafee (R-RI). The National Center tried to schedule a meeting to discuss upcoming reform efforts with Senator Chafee's staff. However, the prospect of a meeting was immediately rebuffed by the Senator's staff after The National Center made it clear it wished to discuss the importance of protecting property rights in such a meeting. "Allergy season is just around the corner and 'property rights' are apparently ragweed to the Chafee office," said Knight. "Unfortunately, this strangest of allergies hurts American property owners and endangered species more than it does the Senator and his staff."


EPA-Mandated NOx Reductions Poised to Increase Urban Smog

Short-term effect may be paraded as excuse for more regulation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be allowed to implement potentially counterproductive smog-prevention regulations after the U.S. Supreme Court on November 14 let stand a lower court decision that a legal technicality prevented the National Alternative Fuels Association (NAFA) from challenging the regulations. According to regulations implemented in 2000, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposes to reduce the formation of ground-level ozone, a key smog component. Ozone forms when nitrous oxides (NOx) react with volatile organic compounds (VOC) on hot, sunny days. Accordingly, "smog season" in the U.S. tends to run from approximately April 1 through September 30.

A cursory look at the components of ozone formation would lead one to believe cutting either NOx or VOC concentrations would reduce ozone and, hence, smog. However, computer models and real-world observations indicate the equation is not so simple. Ozone formation is not dependent only on the mere presence of NOx and VOC. "Ozone formation depends on the ratio of VOC to NOx, and different ratios of VOC/NOx lead to very different outcomes," explained Joel Schwartz, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

According to computer models, "when the VOC/NOx ratio is high--greater than about 10 to one--ozone formation is limited by the availability of NOx, and VOC reductions have no effect on ozone levels. But when the VOC/NOx ratio falls below 10 to one, VOC reductions begin to reduce ozone," Schwartz observed. Paradoxically, when the VOC/NOx ration is below 10 to one, "reducing NOx actually increases ozone."

Urban areas currently tend to have the lowest VOC/NOx ratios and are therefore most prone to this paradox. According to the computer models, NOx reductions in urban areas will actually increase ozone and, thus, smog. "Smog in many urban areas increases when NOx concentrations are further reduced, while declines generally occur in less heavily populated areas," noted Dr. Kay Jones of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The computer models, moreover, have been verified by real-world observations. "A disproportionate number of exceedances of the ozone standard are occurring on weekends, when emissions of ozone-forming chemicals--especially NOx--are down anywhere from 10 to 40 percent," Schwartz reports. "At some monitoring locations in the Los Angeles area, weekend exceedances account for nearly 80 percent of total exceedances. And these ozone increases are occurring in spite of large declines in NOx. Although the `weekend effect' is most pronounced in California, it is becoming increasingly prevalent in other cities across the nation, including Denver, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York." "EPA failed to consider compelling science that its NOx reducing regulation would actually severely worsen the nation's air quality," observed a summary of the issue prepared by NAFA.

Despite these findings, EPA has targeted NOx for significant short-term reductions. While the agency has mandated that both NOx and VOC must be significantly reduced in the long term, which computer models predict will result in long-term smog reduction, the front-loading of NOx reductions may result in near-term increases in smog levels in urban areas. "Ozone is not very likely to improve much in the future," explained Doug Lawson, a researcher with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. "In fact, it's very likely to get worse, given that all the regulations in place for the next decade or so have larger NOx reductions built in to them than VOC reductions, which is exactly what takes place now on weekends relative to weekdays."

The negative effects of this policy are twofold. The first negative effect is apparent: Increases in urban smog result in greater discomfort and greater alleged health impairments associated with smog. Second, a short-term rise in ground-level ozone and resulting smog is likely to be paraded by activist groups as "proof" that EPA's mandated NOx reductions are not stringent enough. More stringent, and more costly, reductions would then be advocated on the false premise that more stringent NOx reductions would further reduce ground-level ozone. "EPA ignored other viable less costly solutions, which could have easily resolved the stated ozone problem," observed the NAFA summary.

A solution, agreed Schwartz, lies in targeting more front-loaded VOC reductions rather than front-loaded NOx reductions. "What makes this strategy appealing is that VOC reductions will reduce ozone in most places, especially places where most people live," Schwartz noted. "After substantial near-term VOC reductions, later NOx reductions would achieve the EPA's ozone standard on the same schedule as currently planned, but with less harm in the interim. In addition, this change would give each non-attainment area flexibility to tailor its ozone reduction strategy based on the specifics of local emissions and air chemistry."



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

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

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