Tracking the politics of fear....  

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31 May, 2006


Crazy assumptions lead them into to crazy alliances

The growing number of people who migrated from developing countries to over-populated Western states in search of a better life was damaging the planet and could be avoided, a think-tank said today. Governments and aid agencies should encourage families to stay put by tackling environmental degradation, such as the spread of deserts, that forces many to leave, rather than promote migration, the Optimum Population Trust (OPT), a British group that campaigns for a sustainable population, said.

At the same time, Britain should continue to fulfil its humanitarian obligation to genuine refugees and asylum-seekers, the think-tank said in evidence to a parliamentary inquiry on population. Parts of the planet that have been damaged by climate change, soil erosion and water shortages merely deteriorated further once their inhabitants fled. In addition, migrants typically increased their ecological footprint - the damage each person inflicts on the environment - by moving from low to high-consuming countries. "The priority must surely be to prevent or cure environmental damage, and help people to remain in their homes and communities, not abandon damaged areas of the planet to their fate," the OPT said in a report.

The ecological footprint of someone from Bangladesh increases sixteen-fold if he or she emigrated to the US, while that of a Somali citizen rises more than thirteen-times when he or she migrated to Britain. The push factors behind migration could only be solved by reducing the impact of consumption and population in richer countries and supporting environmentally sustainable development in poorer nations, the OPT said.

More here


The area in France covered by forest has grown by a third in the last 50 years, partly due to to private investors who have funded reforestation programmes as part of long-term, tax-efficient investment plans. One third of France is covered by trees, the farm ministry says, and at more than 16 million hectares, the country's forest takes up more land than all the arable crops combined.

The investment yield is not even close to that achieved on stock or bond markets. But investors do enjoy tax breaks and they get something that an equity stake can't provide -- a slice of the countryside they can pass on to the next generation. Seventy percent of France's forest is privately owned while the remaining 30 percent is state owned with just over one million proprietors owning at least one hectare of trees. "In exchange for looking after their piece of forest, owners obtain significant tax rebates," a top manager at the largest forest fund management business, CDC Foret, told Reuters. He said many people chose to invest in forests in the late 1970s, seeing them as safe havens at the time of the oil crisis. "Forests then became for many a sound investment," he added.

The country gains something too. Forests absorb the equivalent of 138 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year and provide three percent of the country's energy consumption.

Investing in forests became even more attractive after the wind storm of 1999 that destroyed many trees throughout France. But even with the fastest growing trees, investors have a considerable wait to see any return on their money. Poplars are one of the fastest trees to reach maturity. "Poplars take on average 25/30 years to grow and if the wood sells well, it can yield a return of up to six percent on investment," the manager said, adding that to be economically viable a unit requires an investment of more than 50 hectares.

French retail bank BNP Paribas says taxpayers who invest in wooded land, forests, or parts of a forest group from mid-2001 until end-2010, can benefit from a tax deduction that equals 25 percent of their investment within a limit of 5,700 euros for a single person and double for a couple. "This brought capital into forests and revived investment in this section of the economy," the CDC Foret manager added......

Reuters, 25 May 2006

Biopharm thrilla in Manila

Fruits and flowers are not the only things blooming in the tropics. At the invitation of the U.S. State Department, I presented a series of lectures and briefings in the Philippines about an exciting advance in agricultural biotechnology: "biopharming" -- the programming of plants to produce pharmaceuticals that can be purified, or that might even be delivered by eating the plant material itself. The early-stage R&D I saw during my travels was astonishing. University of the Philippines, Manila, Professor Nina Barzaga -- "The Illustrious Nina," as she is known locally -- has introduced into banana plants the genes that express potential vaccine proteins for typhoid fever, rabies and the HIV virus. She and her collaborators intend to process the bananas sufficiently to be able to standardize the dose -- by converting them to dried banana chips, for example -- and then to carry out clinical testing.

As I met with scientists, regulators, agency heads and senior politicians, I found that while much of the science is stunning, over-regulation is a significant obstruction to progress.

The concept of biopharming is not new. Many common medicines, such as codeine, morphine, bulk laxatives and the anti-cancer drugs taxol and vincristine have long been purified from plants. But biopharming's great promise lies in using gene-splicing, or genetic modification (GM), techniques to make old plants do radical new things. Gene-splicing has been applied to plants for decades in order to improve their nutritional value and agronomic traits (yield, pest- and drought-resistance and the like). The production of high value-added substances is a logical, straightforward extension.

Biopharming offers tremendous advantages over traditional methods for producing pharmaceuticals. There is great potential for reducing the costs of production: The energy for product synthesis comes from the sun, and the primary raw materials are water and carbon dioxide. And if it becomes necessary to expand production, it is much easier to plant a few additional hectares than to build a new bricks and mortar manufacturing facility. (Think Tamiflu, the anti-influenza drug, which is in short supply.)

Finally, vaccines produced in this way will be designed to be heat-stable, so that no "refrigeration chain" from manufacturer to patient will be required -- a major advance for use in developing countries, especially in the tropics and throughout Africa.

Approximately two dozen companies worldwide are involved in biopharming, and about half have products in clinical trials. The spectrum of products is broad, ranging from the prevention of tooth decay and the common cold to treatments for cancer and cystic fibrosis. Just last month, California-based Ventria Bioscience reported favorable clinical results with two human proteins biopharmed in rice and used to treat pediatric diarrhea.

There are major, interrelated obstacles to moving these projects through to commercialization, however. Excessive, unscientific regulation, the bleating of anti-biotech NGOs, and shortfalls in funding -- all conspire against the projects. Worse still, these negative factors reinforce one another. Over-regulation makes field trials difficult and hugely expensive to carry out, which makes it hard to attract Big Pharma collaborators or funders; and the NGOs endlessly wring their hands about risks and point skeptically (and cynically) to the absence of medical breakthroughs.

Critics of the new technology have made dire predictions of contamination of the food supply, warning of "drugs in your corn flakes." However, the sophistication of modern agriculture enables us to sequester different crop varieties when necessary and to cultivate safely the same species of crops for food and for new pharmaceuticals. Having said that, one must admit that human error is inevitable, so it is reasonable to ask: What is the likelihood of consumers' sustaining injury if a few biopharmed plants find their way into the food supply?

In order for unwanted health effects to be realized, several highly improbable events would have to occur. First, the active drug substance would have to be present in the final food product -- say, corn chips or oil, if the drug were made in corn, for example -- at sufficient levels to exert an adverse effect from either direct toxicity or allergy. But there is generally a huge dilutional effect, as small amounts of biopharmed material are pooled into a much larger harvest; with few exceptions (e.g. peanuts), even an allergic reaction requires the presence of more than a minuscule exposure. Second, the active agent would need to survive milling, other processing, and cooking. Third, it would need to be orally active (usually, proteins are not because they are degraded in the gut).

The probability that all of these events would occur is extremely low.

To be sure, biopharming misused could present valid safety concerns. It would be irresponsible, for example, to produce the anti-wrinkle drug Botox in an edible plant, except under very high conditions of containment, probably in a greenhouse or screenhouse: the active ingredient in the drug is, after, all, the highly lethal botulinum toxin (which is safe when injected under the skin in tiny doses).

One constant around the world is the over-regulation of agricultural biotechnology, especially biopharming. For example, the regulations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture impose highly prescriptive standards that fail to take into account the actual risks of a given situation, but mindlessly dictate one-size-fits-all, draconian requirements. These include large buffer zones between biopharmed and other crops; the requirement to leave land used to grow biopharmed plants fallow for a year following harvest; and the setting aside of planting, storage and harvesting equipment exclusively for biopharmed crops. Moreover, USDA has imposed a zero-tolerance for any biopharmed crop in food -- which is unscientific, unrealistic and unnecessary. (Regulators seem to have forgotten about the long-established tolerance levels in grains for unwanted substances such as insect parts, rodent droppings and harmful fungal toxins.)

Countries such as the Philippines that lack large, sophisticated regulatory apparatuses often follow the lead of the United States or the United Nations, whose regulations are lethal to innovation in poorer countries. If you're running a small-scale but high-quality R&D operation that can't test its biopharmed plants in the field, it's hard to convince potential commercial collaborators that you're for real.

If we can't break this vicious circle by injecting science into public policy, biopharming's development costs will continue to be hugely inflated, only very high-value-added products will become development candidates, and consumers worldwide ultimately will see few biopharmed drugs in the pharmacy. And in the process, the impressive work of people like The Illustrious Nina will be for naught.


New Study Points to an Inconvenient Truth about Global Warming

Mistakes, Ignored Data Bely Claims of Catastrophe and Extinction

Al Gore's global warming documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," is the latest in a line of films, TV shows and news features warning of a impending global catastrophe caused by human-induced climate change. Yet according to a new study published by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), the most inconvenient truth is that the science behind these claims is fatally flawed. "The complexity of the climate and the limitations of data and computer models mean all projections of future climate change are unreliable at best," said David Legates, author of the study and the director of the University of Delaware's Center for Climatic Research. "Science does not support claims of drastic increases in global temperatures, nor claims of human influence on weather events or extinctions."

The study notes that climate models used as the basis for global warming claims routinely miss key climate factors, which results in false predictions of catastrophe. Furthermore, some official reports, including the U.S. National Assessment, published in 2000, describe only the 2 most extreme predictions, ignoring 30 other models that are far less radical.

Many activists have attributed increases in hurricanes, floods, droughts, tornados, hail storms and heat waves to global warming caused by human activities. However, scientific evidence does not support their claims. For instance, the unprecedented destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was blamed on climate change - but experts say these recent storms were part of a natural cycle and the increased damage was due to increased coastal populations and development. Some have also attempted to link global warming to species extinction. However, the study notes that the link is tenuous. For example:

* Recent claims that polar bear populations are threatened by global warming ignore the fact that only two polar bear populations are declining (both in regions were temperatures are falling), while others are increasing and most are stable.

* Recent claims that coral reefs are "bleaching" (losing color and dying off) due to warming oceans ignore evidence that bleaching appears to be a healthy response in which corals expel one symbiotic species of algae for a better-adapted species that allow corals to thrive in warmer waters.

"These over-hyped claims of extinction are the 'Coca-Colalization' of science," concluded NCPA Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett. "If you want to sell a product, or a cause, just tie it to a cute, cuddly animal. Snails, snakes and spiders withering in the sun just don't pack the same emotional punch as a cuddly, furry polar bear slipping beneath the melting ice."



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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30 May, 2006


In a country where it rains every second day or thereabouts!

Circus clowns have been warned to stop throwing water at each other or risk violating a drought order. The entertainers, who work for Zippo's Circus, typically get through 20 buckets of water during their slapstick "slosh" shows. The circus is in Wallington, Surrey, this weekend and Martin Burton, who is in charge, has been warned that the routines violate the drought order issued by Sutton and East Surrey Water. "The water board has had a complete sense of humour failure," he said. "I called them up to check the act was OK and they said it broke the rules and threatened me with hefty fines and cutting off our access to water.

"It is ridiculous and they need to chill out. The great British public don't like getting wet themselves but absolutely love seeing others getting drenched. "And this treat is confined to the circus. I could collect rainwater or use mineral water but the water board are so zealous I can't be sure they won't just cut our water off without investigating if someone reports it."

A drought order has been granted by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to allow Sutton and East Surrey Water to restrict the "non-essential use" of water throughout its area of supply. The order authorises the company to prohibit or limit the use of water. It means the clowns will not be able to use water pistols or squirt water from plastic flowers.

Stuart Hislop, a spokesman for the company, said: "No-one else is allowed to fill buckets from a hose in their back garden and throw them over each other, so why should the clowns? It is a total waste of water. "Twenty buckets of water per show can soon add up and we hope Mr Burton will follow the sensible advice he has been given. "It is not setting a very good example to all these children going to the circus. We are talking about a situation here where we could run out of water."

Under the order, 275,000 properties served by the company will be banned from using hosepipes or sprinklers to water gardens, lawns, allotments, parks, golf courses or to wash vehicles. Deliberate breach of the order is a criminal offence and punishable by a fine of up to 5,000 pounds.

Mr Burton said: "I think my clowns are secretly smirking because it means they get to stay dry but I am annoyed. It means we will have to rely on mime gags instead."



One of the more distasteful features of environmental rhetoric is the terminological confusion with which it is riddled, whereby certain grants of privilege are constantly confused with rights. The rights to which serious political discourse has traditionally referred are negatively conceived and refer to limitations on how governments may act towards their citizens or how citizens may act toward each other. This conception of rights is the one put forward in, among other documents, the Declaration of Independence, the American Bill of Rights and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Rights so conceived do not require that others be forced to act in specific ways if I am to exercise my rights but only that they refrain from intervening in certain areas without my consent. Thus, my right to life does not entail that others are obligated to do everything within their power to keep me alive but only that they cannot kill me.

Unfortunately, environmentalists have a tendency to employ the term "rights," not in this negative manner but in its far more vulgar sense, to refer to some privilege that entails that others not refrain from acting, but positively act in certain ways. They are, of course, not alone in this. The last hundred years have witnessed a serious erosion in political discourse as politicians have increasingly invoked such terms as "liberty" and "rights" solely to elicit certain emotional responses in their hearers. This deterioration in political language has reached a point where it is now not uncommon to hear people speak of their "rights" to "higher education," to "quality health care," even to "truth in airline scheduling," and so on. Environmental discourse, far from being immune to such imprecision, has embraced it. And environmentalists, especially those employed as government functionaries of one kind or another, regularly use the term to refer to privileges that entail an obligation on others to provide certain services. Thus, Principle 1 of the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held at Stockholm in 1972 declared that "man has the fundamental right to . adequate conditions of life in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being." Similarly, the 1987 Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development refers to "the right of individuals to know and have access to current information on the state of the environment" and "the right to participate in decision making on activities likely to have a significant effect on the environment."

Even when the term "rights" is employed by ecologists in what is seemingly its more traditional, negative sense, as, for example, when environmentalists write of "the right to live free from pollutants" it is often so used without any regard to the context in which these rights are situated. When one refers to "the right to a smoke-free environment," as numerous spokesmen of the anti-smoking campaign often do, surely it makes sense to ask "of just whose environment are we speaking?" While I might indeed have such a right to demand of others that they not smoke on my property, have I the same right when it comes to the property of others? But even put in such bald form, the majority of environmentalists would argue that, in most cases, I would indeed have such a right. Such rights obtain, they argue (and in this they are by no means alone), because most private property is not, in reality, private at all, since members of the public (either all members of the public, as is the case with, say, a department store, or certain specific members of the public, as is the case with a business office) are invited onto the property. By virtue of this fact, nominal private property is transmuted into commonly owned property, the disposal of which can justifiably be determined by political means. Indeed, most environmentalists have extended this notion of public ownership to the whole of the natural world. They write of the "common heritage of all humanity" and of "sharing the world's resources equitably." It is as if each of us, when born, inherits our pro rata share of all the wealth of the world, the land and the oceans of the earth, and all that is on, above, or below it, without regard to the prevailing ownership of these resources. It is apparent that the term "right," as here used, designates something quite different from what is signified in the expressions "right to life," or "right to one's liberty." A "right" to a portion of the world's resources clearly obligates the civil authorities (and the population at large, who ultimately must fund the operations of the civil authorities) to certain positive acts. This is particularly true in this instance since one's "right" is, on examination, not an individual right at all, but rather a "collective" right (if such a perverse notion makes any sense at all) that, by its very nature, can be exercised only by some authority ostensibly representative of the collective.

The language of environmental science is particularly debased when the rights to which environmentalists refer pertain to non-humans. Even so eminent a jurist as William O. Douglas has referred to "the rights of nature," and this notion has been adopted by a host of other ecologists. These writers, in their attempt to emphasize the physical and biological interdependence of all life, have perverted the language of morals and politics to apply to all of nature, thus undermining all arguments that place man in a unique position with respect to the environment in which he lives. As one ecologist has observed: "Humanity has no extraordinary moral claim or rights over the natural world." Christopher Stone, Professor of Law at the University of Southern California, has proposed that "we give legal rights to forests, oceans, rivers, and other so-called 'natural objects' in the environment - indeed, to the natural environment as a whole." The extension of rights to animals, it is argued, is nothing more than a continuation of the same movement that broadened the notion of rights to encompass all human beings, regardless of color or gender. Thus Peter Singer, one of the founders of the "animal liberation" movement and the person responsible for having first formulated the notion of "speciesism," writes that "the basic element - the taking into account of the interests of the being, whatever those interests may be - must, according to the principle of equality, be extended to all beings, black or white, masculine or feminine, human or nonhuman."

The "deep ecologists," of which Singer is a less extreme example, propose nothing less than that animals, plants, trees, even minerals, have rights that must be respected lest man violate the moral injunctions ultimately derived from natural law. Indeed, the extension of the ethical universe to such natural phenomena as mountains and rivers, thus closes the circle with the most primitive forms of mysticism. If we were to accept the claims put forward by what, in the movement, are called "the deep ecologists," that rights extend to all forms of life and, in some instances, to inanimate objects as well, humanity would be frozen into inaction lest it trespass on the prerogatives of nature. What is particularly alarming is that this senseless conclusion, a clear reductio ad absurdum to most, is actually espoused by many prominent environmental spokesmen, whose antipathy for all human endeavor is one of the more repugnant aspects of their creed. For these writers humanism is a term of derision, which asserts the superiority of human life over animal and plant life and denies to non-human entities the rights that a properly construed morality dictates they possess.

Lest it be supposed that an ardent emotional attachment to the world of nature is incompatible with an abhorrence for humankind, we would do well to remind ourselves that National Socialism also embraced both a comprehensive ideology and an extensive legislative program for the "protection of nature." Shortly after taking power the Nazi government sought to give legislative voice to the notion that modern capitalist society and its property relationships had uprooted man from his legitimate place in the natural, organic world. Laws aimed at protecting animals and limiting hunting were soon followed by the law of 1 July 1935 for the protection of nature (Reichsnaturschutzgesetz). The preamble to the 1935 legislation, setting forth the rationale and intent of Nazi environmental legislation, displays the same romanticization of nature and disdain for the economic achievements of modern society that permeate current environmental literature.

Today as before, nature, in the forests and the fields, is an object of longing, joy and the means of regeneration for the German people.

Our native countryside has been profoundly modified with respect to its original state, its flora has been altered in many ways by the agricultural and foresting industries as well as by the unilateral reallocation of land and a monoculture of conifers. While its natural habitat has been diminishing, a varied fauna that brought vitality to the forests and the fields has been dwindling.

This evolution was often due to economic necessity. Today, a clear awareness has emerged as to the intellectual, but also economic, damages of such an upheaval of the German countryside..

The German government of the Reich considers it its duty to guarantee our fellow citizens, even the poorest among them, their share in the natural German beauty. It has, therefore, enacted the law of the Reich with a view toward protecting nature..

"Protecting nature" was apparently perfectly compatible with a remorseless hatred of certain groups of humans, particularly those, as Luc Ferry has pointed out, who were not rooted in the community, the "cosmopolites," whose heritage placed them outside the bounds of the social organism and who lacked connection with the soil. Ferry notes that

the philosophical underpinnings of Nazi legislation often overlap with those developed by deep ecology, and this for a reason that cannot be underestimated; in both cases, we are dealing with a same romantic and/or sentimental representation of the relationship between nature and culture, combined with a shared revalorization of the primitive state against that of (alleged) civilization.



With Al Gore's new movie opening this week, there are some inconvenient truths its maker should consider: Gore himself has done incalculable harm to the cause of combating global warming. His efforts to call attention to the dangers of climate change may prove prescient but his policy prescriptions have been nothing short of disastrous.

Consider the facts: The Kyoto Protocol, which Gore personally negotiated for the United States, was a colossal mistake-a fundamentally flawed approach that has taken nearly a decade (and counting) to recover from. If ever a treaty was dead on arrival, it was Kyoto, given that the Senate had voted 95-0 against two of its essential elements before it was negotiated. (That vote rejected any treaty that would seriously harm our economy while exempting the developing world from any obligation to reduce its emissions-a sensible litmus test.) That didn't stop Gore from agreeing to its terms, knowing full well that it would never be ratified-a remarkably cynical political move.

What's wrong with signing an impractical treaty? A lot, actually. Kyoto stopped us from pursuing more realistic alternatives. Even now, Kyoto's misconceptions haunt us: Having already agreed that the developing world need not reduce its (rapidly increasing) emissions of greenhouse gases, it will be hard to persuade those countries to reconsider. Yet without their participation, no limits on global emissions can be effective.

Before Kyoto, the world was seriously engaged in thinking through the challenge of climate change. That started in earnest after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, which committed the world to working together to avoid dangerous interference with the global climate. It left open the more difficult question of precisely what to do but it set the right goal, and for five years scientists, economists, engineers, and government officials struggled with that question. After Kyoto, that process largely ground to a halt.

Of course President Clinton never even tried to get the Senate to approve the treaty, and for seven years the rest of the industrialized world wrestled with ratification. A year ago, the Protocol finally came into effect-at least on paper. We have next to nothing to show for it. Canada is the latest country to admit (just this week) that it cannot meet its Kyoto targets; it wants to pursue voluntary measures when the Protocol expires in 2012. The rest of the participants aren't doing much better: No country has actually made substantial reductions in its greenhouse gas emissions because of Kyoto, and many European countries will miss their targets by double digits. Moreover, those limits are only a small fraction of what many scientists think is needed to stabilize the climate.

The problem with meeting these targets is simple: the necessary technologies don't exist. At best, Kyoto would mean spending a lot of money to accomplish very little. Kyoto-style targets may promote modest reductions in emissions today but they aren't going to produce the research needed for fundamental technological breakthroughs that could slash overall global emissions. Short-term, modest targets aren't incentives for ambitious long-term research.

After wasting almost a decade pursuing Al Gore's answer to climate change, Kyoto's failure is clear. The much-celebrated "trading" mechanism that was expected to cut the cost of compliance is barely functioning. Trading emissions credits works well when the technologies exist, such as smokestack "scrubbers" to remove sulfur dioxide. But greenhouse gases are another matter: There are so many sources of carbon dioxide, and so few affordable ways to get rid of it. Establishing an effective market for trading these credits is much more complicated than advocates ever imagined.

So, if not Kyoto, what? Environmentalists should thank President Bush for breathing new-albeit indignant-life into the stagnant climate-change debate when he announced in 2001 that he wouldn't pursue ratification of Kyoto. New policy opportunities opened up and people went back to the creative drawing boards. We're taking small steps in the right direction, but activists are more enamored with their politics-which dictate that anything that Bush supports must be wrong-than with spurring these nascent efforts on. Clinton and Gore continue to mislead Americans by telling us that the solutions are simple and cheap-all we need is political will to implement them. Nothing could be further from the truth: the answers to climate change are expensive and elusive; they will be found in the Los Alamos labs, not the halls of Congress.

The only way to make meaningful reductions in global greenhouse-gas emissions is to develop new clean energy and transportation technologies-and not just hybrid cars and windmills. Doing politically correct things like building solar panels would shave a few points off our total emissions, but only breakthrough technologies like hydrogen fuel cells will make real cuts possible. And their cost is the key: We can build fuel-cell cars now-for $1 million. When we figure out how to sell them for $30,000, we won't need an international treaty to get people to buy them. Almost every major car company in the world is frantically trying to unlock that puzzle and-are you sitting down?-George W. Bush, the ex-oil man who once mocked Al Gore's fascination with green cars, is pouring billions of federal dollars into the effort.

Bush has also spearheaded other efforts to develop clean energy technologies, such as the Asia-Pacific Partnership, which includes key developing countries such as China and India. Activists scorn these initiatives because they don't require emissions reductions today, but in the long run they are our only hope. The real question is how to best advance this research-government labs, private sector R&D, or some combination? What's the right level of funding, and the best way of organizing the research?

In the meantime there is one technology that could dramatically reduce America's greenhouse-gas emissions-and yet environmentalists are fervently opposed to it. Al Gore doubts it has much potential. But the only cost-effective way we know right now to produce thousands of megawatts of zero-emissions electricity is nuclear power. America, of course, hasn't built a new nuclear plant since Three Mile Island, but that's going to change. Just how many plants are built, and how quickly, will depend in part on how fierce the environmental opposition is. Will Al Gore lead the way?

National Review Online, 25 May 2006


There are a lot of folks running around shouting that recent Arctic warming is, to use a favorite alarmist word, "unprecedented"-which means, to them at least, that we are approaching "dangerous" levels of climate change. It seems a bit odd to equate "unprecedented" with "dangerous," since the former implies something that is novel, while the latter implies something that is known. So, for instance, since we know that for a good 90% of the past 400,000 years the earth was locked into ice age conditions, it would seem that a "precedented" cooling would be perceived to be far more "dangerous" than an "unprecedented" warming, wouldn't it? But we digress.

In any case, how close to being "unprecedentedly" warm are we in our northerly latitudes? (We focus here on the Arctic because the Antarctic has been cooling for the past several decades, so that pretty much eliminates temperatures there from being unprecedented).

The answer, not very. In fact, today's temperatures aren't even close to being "unprecedented." Writing in the journal Quaternary Research, Jason Briner from the Geology Department of the University of Buffalo and a host of colleagues from the United States and Canada state:

This study offers a high-resolution lacustrine Holocene climate record that spans the last ~11,200 years. The most notable feature of Holocene climate at Lake CF3 [located on Canada's Baffin Island] was the well-defined HTM [Holocene Thermal Maximum] between ~10,000 and 8500 cal yr B.P., when chironomid-inferred summer temperature was ~5C warmer than today and the duration of seasonal lake ice cover probably was the shortest since deglaciation.

Putting this finding in context, Briner et al. continue:

Pollen records from several Baffin Island lakes indicate middle Holocene temperatures ~1 or 2C warmer than present (Kerwin et al., 2004). Because pollen-based temperature reconstructions rarely extend beyond 7 or 8 ka [thousand years], they may not capture maximum Holocene warmth. Chironomid taxonomy- and ?18O-based summer temperatures from Qipisarqo Lake on southern Greenland indicate that conditions were 2 to 4C warmer in the early Holocene versus the late Holocene (Wooller et al., 2004). Diatom-inferred temperature data from Fog Lake, ~420 km south of Lake CF3 , reveal a ~4C difference between the middle and late Holocene (Joynt and Wolfe, 2001). Dynocyst assemblages from northern Baffin Bay marine cores reveal ~5C difference in sea surface temperature (SST) between the middle and late Holocene (Levac et al., 2001). Greenland ice sheet borehole paleothermometry indicates a temperature change of ~3.5C between the middle and late Holocene (Dahl-Jensen et al.,1998)

So, Briner et al.'s results add to a large amount of evidence that conditions in the Arctic were several degrees warmer than present during extended periods since the end of the last ice age (the "holocene" era). And if you think that this only applies to the region around Baffin Island, think again. UCLA's Glen MacDonald and colleagues reported this, a couple of years ago, in the same journal,

Radiocarbon-dated macro fossils are used to document Holocene treeline history across northern Russia (including Siberia). Boreal forest development in this region commenced by 10,000 yr B.P. Over most of Russia, forest advanced to or near the current arctic coastline between 9000 and 7000 yr B.P. and retreated to its present position by between 4000 and 3000 yr B.P....During the period of maximum forest extension, the mean July temperatures along the northern coastline of Russia may have been 2.5 to 7.0C warmer than modern.

And Darrell Kaufman from Northern Arizona University and his colleagues took a comprehensive look at research performed over the remainder of the Arctic and summed things up in Quaternary Science Reviews as,

The spatio-temporal pattern of peak Holocene warmth (Holocene thermal maximum, HTM) is traced over 140 sites across the Western Hemisphere of the Arctic (0-180W; north of ~60N). Paleoclimate inferences based on a wide variety of proxy indicators provide clear evidence for warmer-than-present conditions at 120 of these sites. At the 16 terrestrial sites where quantitative estimates have been obtained, local HTM temperatures (primarily summer estimates) were on average 1.670.8C higher than present (approximate average of the 20th century), but the warming was time transgressive across the western Arctic. As the precession-driven summer insolation anomaly peaked 12-10 ka (thousands of calendar years ago), warming was concentrated in northwest North America, while cool conditions lingered in the northeast. Alaska and northwest Canada experienced the HTM between ca 11 and 9 ka, about 4000 yr prior to the HTM in northeast Canada.

So there you have it. Based upon the scientific literature, it would appear that rather than approaching an era of "unprecedented" temperatures in the Arctic, we are fast approaching and era of "unprecedented" hype. We certainly hope the folks responsible for putting together the new Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the U. N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are taking notice of these developments.

World Climate Report, 25 May 2006


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

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

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 May, 2006

Sickening: Dutch told to return land they won from the sea

A photograph of a grinning boy, riding a toy tractor, has pride of place in the kitchen of Aarnout and Magda de Feijter, the owners of a 148-acre farm in the Dutch province of Zeeland. The picture is of their first grandson, Louis, and the de Feijters have always dreamed that he will one day take over the expanse of wind-rippled flax fields that has been in their family since 1835.

But there are other plans. In the name of European Union environmental directives, their farm is earmarked for flooding - the first time in Holland's centuries-long battle against water that a substantial piece of land is to be deliberately returned to the sea. Some 230 years after its flat pastures were wrested from the waters, the de Feijters' farm - their home for 33 years - is to be re-flooded to reverse the disappearance of Zeeland's mudflats and salt marshes.

For the family - raised in a province that owes its very existence to dyke systems dating from the Middle Ages - the plan is "un-Dutch". Breaching dykes is behaviour associated with invading armies, noted Mr de Feijter. Flooding a "polder", as land enclosed by a dyke is known, "has always been an act of war", he said. The couple have planted chestnut trees and apple orchards and resent hearing that it is ecologically less important than salt marshes. "Isn't this landscape beautiful?" said Mrs de Feijter. "There are birds, there are flowers. It's green."

The final decision must be ratified by parliament next year, but chances of a reprieve look slim. Dutch officials support the project, part of a scheme to re-flood 1,500 acres of land on the banks of the Western Schelde estuary. The re-flooding has been imposed by the EU Habitats directive, and the EU Birds directive. The end will be quick. Engineers will build a new dyke behind the de Feijters' land and demolish their 150-year-old farmhouse. Then they will breach the high, grass-sided dyke at the bottom of their drive and the sea will rush in.

Mrs de Feijter was eight during the flood of February 1953, when almost 2,000 people died across Holland. Now, their farm is serene. There is no feel of the coast about their polder. You could imagine yourself a hundred miles inland - until you notice the top decks of a container ship slowly slide past.

Anton van Haperen, a wetlands expert with the Dutch national forestry service, is blunt. Since 1960, Zeeland has lost two thirds of its wetlands, he said. "Farmland has less value, ecologically." Yet he has no doubt that, without EU laws, politicians would not dare to flood farmers' fields.

The de Feijters will be given compensation, worth 2 million pounds. They talk of buying a new farm and starting again, though they are in their 60s. They do not rail against the EU, instead blaming "environmental extremists". Arguably, their foes are the shoppers of Holland and Belgium, with their appetite for cheap goods from the Far East. In order to allow ever bigger container ships into Antwerp harbour, a deeper channel is to be dredged that will speed up erosion of the banks. It is that loss of habitat that must be compensated for. Gerard van Overloop, the government official who will oversee the flooding, said: "For hundreds of years, Zeeland was built by taking land from the sea. Now we are doing the opposite and it goes against our nature."



The Green/Left always pretend to find great wisdom in primitive people but that idea vanishes instantly if they see an opportunity to disrupt the fulfilment of basic human instincts. Attacking people is what environmental extremists are all about. And the fact that they have to lie about polar bears dying out does not faze them either. Even the NYT article below admits that there are more bears than ever these days

Bob Hudson says he has played in the Rose Bowl, jumped out of airplanes, scuba dived off Fiji and stalked bighorn sheep in the Rockies. But for all the excitement of his 67 years, there was one thrill he still craved: hunting polar bear in the high Canadian Arctic. He sold his beloved Jaguar XKE on eBay for $26,000 to do it. After heavy wind and snow ruined his hunt in April, he took another $14,000 out of his retirement account for a return trip. "Life is short," Mr. Hudson joked. "The last check you write should be to the undertaker, and it should bounce." Mr. Hudson, a McDonald's franchise owner from Oxford, Miss., got his trophy: a nine-foot bear bagged with a single shot from 30 yards. But the future of the hunt is far less certain for those who may want to follow his tracks.

Polar bear hunting has gotten caught up in the larger debate over global warming. Scientists and environmentalists are pushing for measures to protect the animal, whose most immediate threat, they say, is not hunters, but loss of habitat. As its icy environs shrink, the polar bear has, improbably perhaps, become the new poster face of Arctic vulnerability. Move over, baby seal. "People care about polar bears - they're iconic," noted Kassie Siegel, a lawyer at the Center for Biological Diversity. "The reality of the threat to polar bears is helping to get the word out," she said, about the effects of climate change. Her group, along with Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council, filed a petition with the United States government to list the polar bear as threatened as a way to push the American authorities to control greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon dioxide from cars.

The message has alarmed American polar bear hunters, who could be barred from bringing their trophies home from Canada, the only country from which they can legally do so. It has also run up against unbending opposition from local communities of Inuit, also known as Eskimos, and the Nunavut territorial government, which has expanded sport hunting in recent years. For polar bear hunters, who are typically wealthy Americans past 50, the trip in a caribou-skin suit on a dog sled is an age-defying passage in a land of disorienting beauty, where the sun does not set for months and nothing but a dreamy blue strip of sky distinguishes ice from cloud.

For their Inuit guides, the sport hunt is a preserver of tradition and a welcome source of income in snowbound settlements where jobs are almost as scarce as trees. "The environmentalists can say no more hunting of polar bears, but we'll keep killing them," said David Kalluk, 65, a Resolute village elder. "That's the way it has been for generations and generations."

But while the hunt may be unchanging, the globe's climate is not. Global warming and over-hunting could diminish [And pigs could fly one day] the polar bear population by at least 30 percent in coming decades, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, a network of 10,000 scientists, predicted in May. "Given what the climate models predict for continuing warming and melting of sea ice, the whole thing leads to an extinction curve," said Peter Ewins, director of the World Wildlife Fund Canada's Arctic Conservation Program. "And it's not a question of if, it's a clear question of when." Hunting, when insufficiently controlled, he added, "has the potential to really compound the problem."

Nunavut increased its annual hunting quotas by 29 percent last year - to 518 kills, an increase of 115 - saying that Inuit hunters were actually seeing an increase in polar bear populations. That impression, some scientists and environmentalists say, is simply a matter of the bear's greater visibility, as shrinking ice pushes them closer to Inuit communities. Those experts tick off a list of stresses on the polar bear: Global warming is melting the bear's icy migration routes, critical for breeding and catching seals for food, around Hudson Bay and Alaska. Poaching is threatening populations in Russia. Pollution is causing deformities and reproductive failures in Norway.

Other experts see a healthier population. They note that there are more than 20,000 polar bears roaming the Arctic, compared to as few as 5,000 40 years ago, before Canada, Denmark, Norway, the Soviet Union and the United States agreed to strong restrictions on trophy hunting in the 1970's. Some scientists say northern polar bear populations are safe from global warming, and those farther south might well find ways to adapt or simply migrate north.

Mitchell Taylor, manager of wildlife research for the Nunavut government, said warming trends had so far seriously affected only western Hudson Bay, just one of 20 areas where polar bears live. He acknowledged that over-hunting could be a problem in Baffin Bay, between Canada and Greenland. "In other areas, polar bears appear to be overabundant," he added. "People have to quit thinking of polar bears as one big continuous mass of animals that are all doing the same thing."

In Canada, a committee of scientists recommended in 2003 that the government list the polar bear as a species of "special concern," which would require federal monitoring. But the environment minister sent the recommendation back, under pressure from Nunavut officials, who complained that traditional Inuit knowledge had been ignored. "The bears are getting smaller, their reproduction is getting less effective, and I have heard about data that show their survival is in decline," said Marco Festa-Bianchet, a biology professor at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec who recently stepped down as chairman of the committee. He said the panel would complete a new report in 2008. In the meantime, he said, "the fact that the hunting quota has been increased clearly increases the level of concern."

Meanwhile, officials at the United States Fish and Wildlife Service expect to rule in December on whether the polar bear should be designated as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. That designation is a real possibility, they said, at least for several of the 13 areas where Canadian bears now roam.

The possibility that wealthy American hunters may stop coming north has raised concern among Inuit people and politicians, even those who also decry global warming as a threat to their way of life. Nancy Karetak-Lindell, an Inuit member of the House of Commons, called the effort by American environmentalists "a little intrusive and very disrespectful." In an interview, she added that the bear hunt "is more than a way of life, it's a way of survival." In Resolute, a snow-swept hamlet of shacks hugging a salty ice-packed Arctic channel, Inuit villagers hold an annual lottery to see who will get the permits to kill the local quota of 35 bears a year. Fifteen of those bears will be consumed locally, as food and to make rugs, mattresses, wind pants and mittens. The 20 other permits are sold to American hunters. With each permit, or tag, worth nearly $2,500, that means a fast infusion of nearly $50,000 a year into the community, on Cornwallis Island some 500 miles above the Arctic Circle. On top of that, the guides earn almost $8,000, and their assistants another $4,500, per hunt.

If the Americans stop coming, the guides say, they will seek other foreign hunters or kill the entire quota for themselves. Demand is already pent up. Outfitters who organize the hunting trips say there is a three-year waiting list for Americans who want to go. Hunters say few experiences can compare with the sensation of sighting a bear, then watching the Inuit guides release their huskies to surround and confuse the prey long enough for the hunters to shoot it. "This is my Disney World," said Manuel Camacho, a 60-year-old urologist from Miami, before he set out on his hunt in May.

More here


`We are fighting the same battle, for the liberation of black people. In the past that meant taking on old racists and colonialists - now it means challenging environmentalists too.' Roy Innis doesn't mince words. As national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the New York-based black civil rights group founded in the Forties, he has caused a mighty stink with his attacks on greens. Innis thinks that environmentalist thinking is helping to `strangle Africa'. He argues that European Union restrictions on the use of the pesticide DDT to combat malaria are `killing black babies'; that Western liberals' handwringing over genetically modified crops and food is `holding Africa back'; and that ideas of sustainable development are causing a `stagnation in African development'.

As you can imagine, he hasn't made himself especially popular in the process - he's even earned the tag `Uncle Tom', a stooge for Big (White) Business, from some of the more intemperate greens. `Yeah, I've heard that one', he says. `I'd like to know where these people were in the Fifties and Sixties when my organisation provided the shock troops on the civil rights battlefield. Look at my work on civil rights and you'll see I'm the opposite of an Uncle Tom.'

How has the chairman of an organisation whose members confronted the racist cops and KKK members of the American Deep South in the heady summer of '64 ended up eye-balling greens, those usually well-meaning young trendies, in 2006? CORE was founded in 1942, as the Commission of Racial Equality, by a group of interracial students in Chicago. It grew through the Fifties and Sixties to become one of the main groups involved in the protests against segregation in the South in 1963 and 1964. It organised the `Freedom Rides', when both black and white activists rode on public buses through Birmingham and Montgomery in Alabama in a naked challenge to that state's segregation of public transport, and sponsored the 1963 March on Washington at which Martin Luther King delivered his `I Have A Dream' speech. CORE also opposed imperialism and colonialism in Africa and other parts of the Third World.

Yet now Innis, chairman of CORE since 1968, speaks passionately about challenging greens. That's one hell of a turnaround, isn't it, from taking on the racist authorities to attacking people who care about nature? `We're being consistent', he says. `Our aim has always been to raise up black people, at home and in Africa. Some of the old barriers to doing that are still around but there are new ones as well.' And one of the biggest new barriers, he reckons, is the politics of environmentalism. He's particularly disturbed by the global restrictions on the use of DDT to fight malaria. His wife is a Ugandan, some of whose friends and family members have been killed by the disease. Innis has been on numerous fact-finding trips to African countries to uncover the impact of malaria on people's lives and livelihoods. `What hits me every time - every time - is that this is a disease we can control', he says. `We eradicated it in America and Europe with DDT, so why not in Africa?'

DDT - or dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, to give it its full, if rarely used, name - is a flashpoint issue in the debate about environmentalism. The pesticide kills mosquitoes, the blood-sucking pests that spread malaria. It was one of the main weapons in the Western authorities' war on malaria in the mid-twentieth century. Malaria once killed thousands of Americans and Europeans every year. It did in Oliver Cromwell, among others. As Innis has written, `From Italy and Romania to Poland to the English Channel.malarial mosquitoes ruled over Europe for centuries'. The development of DDT in the twentieth century helped to put an end to that. After the Second World War governments in Europe and the US intervened aggressively against malaria, including with DDT, and consigned the disease to the dustbin of history - at least in the West - where it belonged.

But in the Sixties and Seventies, green activists raised concerns about the impact of DDT on wildlife and the environment. Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring, widely described as the `bible of environmentalism', claimed that DDT harmed birds of prey and their eggs. Following intense lobbying and campaigning, DDT was banned in America in 1972 by the Environment Protection Agency and its use was severely restricted in Europe, which impacted on its use in countries in Latin America and Africa where malaria is still a big problem. And all of this happened despite the fact that, as a member of the organisation Africa Fighting Malaria points out, where heavy use of DDT in agricultural settings did occasionally cause harm to birds of prey that harm subsequently `proved reversible', and `after 50 years of study there is not one replicated study that shows any harm to humans at all'.

Yet African states are still put under pressure to avoid using DDT. This year the EU warned of possible agricultural sanctions against Uganda, Kenya and other countries that defiantly use DDT and vow to continue doing so. An EU official warned the Ugandan authorities that if indoor spraying of DDT meant there was `a risk of contamination of the food chain', then while `[it] would not automatically lead to a ban of food will mean that that particular consignment cannot be sent to Europe'. `The EU should be saying that DDT is safe and poses no threat to EU consumers', says Innis. `Instead they make either direct or oblique threats about possible trade sanctions. What they're really saying is, "We've benefited from DDT and gotten rid of malaria but you people in Africa cannot do the same".'

Innis has seen for himself the devastation caused by malaria. At Christmas his nephew, also a CORE activist, returned to a school in Uganda that he sponsors and found that 50 of the 500 children had died from malaria in a 12-month period. `What a waste of human life', says Innis. `What an avoidable tragedy.' He says the reason the malaria thing makes him so angry is that even in the poorest parts of Africa this disease can be stopped by a simple application of DDT. `You just spray a small amount, twice a year, on the walls of homes and it keeps 90 per cent of mosquitoes from coming in. It irritates those that do come in, which means they rarely bite. Every African home that needs it should have DDT sprayed on the walls.'

It isn't only the restrictions on DDT that anger Innis. He also champions the development of genetically modified crops, arguing that they could massively benefit African farmers. `Lots of people in America and Europe panic about GM, but I've spoken to Africans who want it', he says. `We don't want Africa to be left behind again and to lose out on this scientific revolution. GM could increase yields and ensure a good quality of nutrition.' And he isn't very impressed by arguments for sustainable development, claiming that it `stagnates real development, which is what Africa needs'.

Innis recognises that most green activists mean well. `They want to do right, but they are so wrong on some things', he says. His main concern is that environmentalist thinking has been elevated into an official dogma, taking centre stage in numerous debates about the developing world at the UN and the EU. He goes so far as to claim that green thinking about the Third World is `like a new form of colonialism'; he talks of `eco-imperialism'. `It is a colonialist mentality', he says. `Making decisions for other people from one's own perspective rather than from the perspective of the people being affected - that is my definition of a colonialist mentality and that is the approach taken by some officials and green activists to the Third World.'

The attitude of green groups (and other aid organisations) towards Africa and its problems are certainly deeply patronising and even dangerous. But I wonder if perhaps Innis, and other commentators and activists who try to challenge environmentalist orthodoxies, focus too much on the individual greens themselves - as if Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth were single-handedly, as part of some dastardly plot, subjugating the Third World to their political whims and storming the UN and the EU to force officials to spread environmentalism around the world. I would argue that these groups merely express, if in a more explicit form, the narrow outlook and low horizons of Western politics more broadly today. From the top down in the West - and especially in that creaking and slothful institution, the EU - meaningful development and industrialisation are seen as too risky and potentially damaging. Greens add a radical gloss to what is in fact a mainstream orthodoxy.

And by focusing on flashpoint issues such as DDT or GM, anti-green critics could also be said to be avoiding the hard arguments about what the Third World really needs. No doubt easy access to DDT would help to combat malaria and make life more pleasant for hundreds of thousands of Africans. But there are more fundamental reasons - to do with lack of development and widespread poverty - that means diseases can take hold in Africa in a way that they don't in most of the West. I'm sure introducing GM to Africa would be beneficial to farmers, but it would be no substitute for industrialisation and urbanisation, for liberating people from being reliant on farming in the first place, whether it be of the GM or non-GM variety.

Yet Innis is raising important - and controversial - questions. He's received a lot of flak for his arguments. Some greens seem especially irritated that a black man with a track record of fighting for civil rights is daring to criticise their aims and agenda. They claim that he has taken CORE from its civil rights roots to `the far right'. One commentator has awarded CORE the `Uncle Tom award', and the organisation has been accused of accepting `Black Gold' (geddit?) from oil companies and from Monsanto, the multinational biotech company developing GM technologies. Innis denies it. `I wish it was true. Where is the money at? I haven't seen it. I wish government and industry were giving more support to our programmes, but it's just not true.' Anyway, what does it matter where he gets his funds from if his arguments are on the money? Too often in these kinds of debates there is a tendency to look endlessly for some hidden pay packet or agenda instead of addressing the arguments being put forward. Forget about CORE's bank balance: what do greens make of CORE's arguments about the impact of environmentalism's low horizons on progress and development in Africa?

`If you criticise these things, you get a rough ride', says Innis. `Environmentalism is seen as the gospel truth, but it's far from that. We should be free to debate these things. For some people, it will be a life-and-death debate.'


Strange Bedfellows: Evangelicals learn to love big government.

When Al Gore's film on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," arrived in theaters on Wednesday, it had the usual endorsements from Hollywood stars, left-leaning politicians and radical professors. But it also had a blurb from a more surprising figure: Richard Cizik, the vice president of government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals. Mr. Cizik has been hobnobbing with an unlikely crowd lately. One day he is in a Newsweek photo spread, clutching a Bible in front of the nation's Capitol. The next he is posing barefoot in Vanity Fair, looking suspiciously as if he is walking on water. The following week he is chatting up Berkeley professors and joining political powwows with Bono.

With Mr. Cizik's help, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE)--representing 52 member denominations and about 30 million evangelicals--has become one of the most talked-about lobbying groups in the nation. But what are evangelicals lobbying for these days?

Take the Evangelical Climate Initiative, endorsed by Mr. Cizik, which has "put global warming on the evangelical agenda," according to the NAE's Washington Insight newsletter. The initiative pushes the government to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. It has been supported by Christian leaders from across the spectrum, including Rick Warren, the author of "The Purpose Driven Life"; Peter Borgdorff, the executive director of the conservative Christian Reformed Church; and Jim Wallis, the editor of the liberal Sojourners magazine.

While alliances like these may raise the eyebrows of a few purists, many evangelical leaders are too busy plotting policy to be bothered--and the environment is just the beginning. "We have a realist strategy," Mr. Cizik told me. "You go to the gays to pass the AIDS bill. You go to the ACLU to pass the prison-rights bill. You work with your erstwhile opponents to achieve the common good."

You also, it turns out, expand your notion of what the "common good" is all about. Just ask Ronald Sider. In its April 2000 issue, Christianity Today named Mr. Sider's "Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger" (1977) one of the most influential books of the 20th century. Recently rereleased and touted at pulpits across the country--the Presbyterian Church USA encourages its 11,000 congregations to use it--the book rails against the "ghastly injustice" of the free market.

Such cliches are music to the ears of NAE members. The group recently recruited Mr. Sider to co-chair the committee drafting its latest public-policy statement: "For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility." It's an ambitious document, proposing more government regulation of health care, an expansion of welfare benefits, more protections for the environment and various efforts to correct "unfair socioeconomic systems." It also rests on one central assumption: the government can solve all of our problems.

This sweeping agenda stands in stark contrast to earlier evangelical views. During the early part of the 20th century, evangelicals shied away from politics altogether, viewing it as a dirty business. It was only after the social upheaval of the late '60s that they finally emerged on the Beltway radar screen. Then, evangelicals tended to embrace small-government reforms like tax cuts and the Contract With America.

But the past few years have brought a new liberal breed of evangelical. "Why are these people punting to the federal government?" asks Jay Richards, an evangelical and a research fellow at the Michigan-based Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. "You can't be compassionate with other people's money. Even worse, they're not thinking about the consequences of these policies. They're too busy feeling warm and fuzzy and absorbing liberal ideas."

And now, these ideas are trickling out of the Beltway. In bulletins from four different Chicago-area churches, parishioners are being asked to write their senators, not a personal check. Groups representing more than 40 denominations have signed on to the public declaration of the so-called ONE campaign, whose mission is to dedicate 1% of the U.S. budget to foreign aid each year. ONE boasts the support of George Clooney, Naomi Watts and, of course, Bono. It's all very hip, and very vague. "ONE isn't asking for your money," the Web site declares. "We're asking for your voice." Well, actually, ONE is asking for your money, but the checks go to the IRS rather than directly to charity

Are evangelicals concerned that they're putting too much faith in government? "You know," Mr. Cizik told me, "I don't hear that very often. I don't think that's a huge concern among most people. I think they're enthusiastic about the progress we're making." In the past, evangelicals managed to progress without Uncle Sam. And today, there are still thousands of Christian charities around the world that use only private funds. That they are generally more effective than government-run programs seems now to be an inconvenient truth.



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 May, 2006


California air regulators have voted to develop a plan to phase out a hazardous dry cleaning solvent. Thursday's move by the state Air Resources Board could make California the first state to ban perchloroethylene, or "perc," the primary chemical used in dry cleaning. The vote came despite protests from the industry and against the recommendation of the board's own staff.

State regulators have previously declared the chemical a toxic air and water contaminant that can cause serious health problems such as cancer. The board directed its staff to study the economic effects of the phase-out to find ways to provide incentives for small businesses to replace their expensive dry cleaning equipment. New cleaning machinery can cost up to $140,000. "They made it very clear they don't want this to happen overnight, but they want to send a strong signal to dry cleaners that they should not be buying any expensive new perc equipment in the next year or two," said board spokesman Jerry Martin.

The California Cleaners Association opposed the decision, citing a 20 year study of dry cleaning employees in four European countries it says showed no increased health risks. "California and the numbers they choose to use have regulators in the rest of the nation shaking their heads," said association spokeswoman Sandra Giarde. In 2002, the South Coast Air Quality Management District became the first regulators in the nation to ban perchloroethylene, forcing more than 2000 Southern California cleaners to give up use of the chemical by 2020.



The Imperial Japanese Navy tried to burn down Oregon. It failed. Sixty years later, radical environmentalists almost succeeded.

The Los Angeles Times' banner headline read "REPORT OREGON BOMBING. Jap Aircraft Carrier Believed Sunk." It was September 15, 1942. A seaplane had been spotted near Mt. Emily, Oregon, nine miles north of Brookings. A forest fire had been started near the mountain. Harold Gardner, a forest service lookout, rushed to the area and quickly extinguished the flames. Then a forest service patrol found a foot-deep crater. Nearby were forty pounds of spongy pellets and metal fragments, some of which were stamped with Japanese ideograms. A metal nosecone was also found. That same day a Japanese submarine was sited in the Pacific thirty miles off the Oregon coast due west of Mt. Emily. An Army patrol plane bombed the sub, but results of the bombing were unknown. Less than a year after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese had set out to strike a blow against the American mainland, but they failed to cause a massive fire in the dry Oregon forest.

Fast forward sixty years to July 13, 2002. An Oregon Department of Forestry pilot spotted a rising column of black smoke near Chetco Peak, not far from where the Japanese bomb had landed. The pilot immediately reported it to the dispatcher at Grants Pass. This fire would be named Biscuit 1. Thirty minutes later a California Department of Forestry pilot, who was directing fire fighting efforts at Six Rivers National Forest, saw a new column of smoke to the north, up in Oregon. He called in the fire to the Fortuna dispatch center. This blaze would be named the Carter Fire. A lightening storm was passing over southwest Oregon. Within thirty minutes the pilot would spot three more fires. Over the next two days, lightening would ignite hundreds more fires in the Siskiyou forest. The fires merged and spread into a vast conflagration that became known as the Biscuit Fire. It burned for the next five and a half months, destroying half a million acres of forest--60 miles north-to-south at its longest, and 35 miles east-to-west--causing $150 million in damage. The fire was not extinguished until New Year's Eve.

The Biscuit Fire was only one of many that season, such as the Rodeo-Chediski Fire in east-central Arizona (467,000 acres), and the Hayman Fire southwest of Denver (135,000 acres, 133 homes destroyed, 5,300 people evacuated). During the summer and fall of 2002, 88,000 wildfires charred seven million acres, an area the size of Massachusetts. More than 800 structures were destroyed. Fire fighting efforts cost $1.7 billion in addition to the lives of twenty-three firefighters.

The calamity prompted the Bush administration and Congress to act about as quickly as Washington ever does. In August, while the fires were still burning, the president proposed his Healthy Forests Initiative, which Congress soon passed as the Healthy Forest Restoration Act. The president signed it into law on December 3, 2003.

Agitation by extremists within the environmental movement had produced decades of misguided attempts at forest management. The new law will make our forests less susceptible to catastrophic fires. But because the remedy involves a concept that is anathema to extreme enviros-- logging-- they oppose it, and are actively working to maintain our forests as tinderboxes.

A hundred years ago, each acre of a ponderosa pine forest contained about 25 mature trees. A horse-drawn wagon could be driven through the forest without the aid of a road. Ponderosa pine is intolerant of shade, and the trees grow aggressively toward the sun, throwing shadows that discourage growth below. Today that same forest might have 1,000 trees per acre. Usually these are Douglas firs, which prosper in shade, and which grow in thick stands, often so dense that a hiker cannot pass between the trunks.

As a result of this fuel load (Forest Service terminology), forest fires today are entirely unlike those of a century ago. They are hotter, faster, and more destructive. Today, 190 million acres of public forests are at an elevated risk of fires, and twenty-four million acres are at the highest risk of catastrophic fire.

What happened to the forests? Why did they degrade? Two main reasons: the suppression of small fires that destroy weak trees and underbrush and that create fire breaks, and a lack of thinning. Which is to say, logging. The failure to cull the forests has left them little more than kindling.

And why haven't the forests been thinned over the years? A vast maze of laws and regulations promoted by environmentalists had made it virtually impossible to enter the forest with a chain saw or a feller buncher. Laws and regulations effecting thinning of the national forests ran to the thousands of pages.

Prior to the 2003 law, preparing environmental documents for even a modest thinning of a patch of national forest took anywhere from six months to ten years. Then a review of plans to sell the removed timber would take another two to four years. Eight hundred requirements had to be reviewed for each forest thinning decision and a proposal to thin a few acres might be eight hundred pages long. This paperwork added up to forty percent of the Forest Service's total workload and cost $250 million each year.

In a June 2002 report, the Forest Service concluded that it "operated within a statutory, regulatory, and administrative framework that has kept the agency from effectively addressing rapid declines in forest health." The Service termed it "excessive analysis."

Even this standard of care wasn't sufficient for the extreme environmentalists. They routinely appealed any decision to thin national forests. A glimpse of the enviros at work: between January 2001 and July 2002 they appealed every single decision to thin by logging in northern Idaho and Montana. For example, the Forest Service determined that the Payette National Forest, near Hell's Canyon in Idaho, needed to be culled. Seven law suites were filed against the plan. Only one in ten of the Forest Service's decisions to thin a forest is reversed by a court on appeal.

The delays imposed by these environmentalists can be costly, and not just in Forest Service paperwork. Mark Flatten and Dan Nowicki of Mesa's East Valley Tribune give an example. In 1999, the Forest Service approved a plan to thin 7,000 acres in the Baca Ecosystem Management Area in Arizona. The Center for Biological Diversity filed a law suit in May 2000 alleging that the Forest Service didn't adequately analyze the effects of its plan on the pygmy nuthatch, among other claims. A court agreed with the environmentalists. Thinning was allowed on only 306 acres, and only trees with less than six-inch trunk diameters could be removed. In 2002 a fire swept through the Baca project area, destroying 90 percent of it.

Not too long ago, the typical environmental lawsuit raised three or four issues. Today, they may bring up twenty or more. Five thousand actions are pending against the Forest Service. Flatten and Nowicki quoted Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, who blamed "radical environmental groups" for creating a paralysis in the Forest Service's decision-making. "They [the Forest Service] end up doing so much paperwork that is redundant and unnecessary that they don't want to even put these things out because it just takes too much of their time and effort and all they do is get sued."

How does the new law work? The amount of required paperwork is reduced, but its most powerful provisions streamline the decision process. The law specifically directs courts "to expedite, to the maximum extent practicable, the proceedings. . . ." Suits can only be brought in the district court where the land is located, which prevents judge shopping. Preliminary injunctions are limited to 60 days and the court must now take into consideration the effects of doing nothing, and must specifically consider the risk of future fires. The law also puts a strict timeline to the appeals process. New regulations allow the Forest Service to take immediate action when public lands are at substantial risk of fire due to drought or fuel buildup.

Faced with a law that has made the courts less useful, the enviros have squealed like hogs caught in a gate. The Heritage Forests Campaign decried the law as "exploiting the fear of wildfires in order to . . . boost commercial logging." Matthew Koehler of the Native Forest Network said the Bush administration and some in Congress were "cynically using the wildfires in their never-ending quest to cut more trees . . ." The Alabama Environmental Council accused President Bush of trying to "'greenwash' his logging agenda." Wilderness Society president William H. Meadows called it "cynical politicking," and said the forest "is too valuable to be handed over to the logging industry." Gazing steadily into Alice's looking glass, the Sierra Club argued that logging can increase the risk of fires.

Does thinning work? In early May 2004, 35 acres of the Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge were given a "fuels treatment," as the Department of Interior calls thinning the stands of trees and removing dry brush. On May 11--a week later--lightening started a fire which the wind drove toward Ortonville, Minnesota. But the thinned forest provided the fire fighters with staging areas and fire breaks, and allowed them to quickly suppress the fire. Only 350 acres were burned.

Even reliable friends are deserting the extreme environmentalists on this issue. The liberal San Francisco Chronicle said that "leaving forests alone equates to watching them burn," and lamented that the enviros "still cling to no-action ideologies."

But facts don't mean much to ideologues. In Montana, the first major plan under the Healthy Forests Restoration Act is to remove the fuel load from the Middle East Fork drainage area in the Bitterroot National Forest. The Missoulian reports that the plan calls for logging 6,400 acres out of the area's 26,000 acres. In April, the Missoulian cautioned, "Some people view commercial logging the way others might regard loan-sharking in a cathedral." Sure enough, earlier this month, Friends of the Bitterroot, the Ecology Center, and the Native Forest Network filed a suit against the Forest Service seeking an injunction.


Free markets, forests and ownership

A great deal of nonsense has been spouted about the economics of logging and of woodchips in particular. I take the stance that only the market can determine the true value of our resources, including forests, and the uses to which they should be put. Despite the dishonesty and emotional silliness of the greens and their allies in both major parties it must be remembered that trees, like cattle, only have value to the extent that they serve human needs.

Unlike cattle, however, trees can serve to a considerable degree as consumption goods, that is, people can directly derive pleasure from them. Alternatively, trees also serve as capital goods; they are cultivated, harvested and then converted through various complex stages of production into higher value goods such as furniture, housing, paper, etc.

The question is to which use should trees be put? The market solves this problem for forestry as neatly as it solves for the wheat farming, mining or manufacturing. In the market place trees are valued, as are all other economic goods, by the subjective evaluations of consumers. Let us say that because of a forest's location the owner only faces three choices

1. He can withdraw the forest from the market and keep it as it is for his own personal pleasure.
2. He can charge people to camp in it.
3. He can cultivate and harvest the trees.

Which one will it be? The first choice is one of pure consumption and there is absolutely nothing irrational about it. However, we shall assume he eschews 1 in favour of an income. Having done his calculations, he decides (horror of horrors) on logging. What is to stop him from logging every tree? The same thing that stops the cattle farmer from slaughtering all his cattle - and that is the loss of future income. The trees are now his capital and his future income depends on maintaining his capital stock, i.e., trees.

He does not need politicians, bureaucrats or Green activists to direct his actions to conserving his capital any more than does the wheat farmer, rancher or manufacturer. The value of the forest will be the discounted sum of its anticipated income. Therefore it is in the interest of the owner to maximise the present value of his forest by not exploiting its resources beyond the point where its capital value will be reduced. (Strictly speaking, it is the internal rate of return that is maximised). Whether the trees are chipped, used as weatherboard or transformed into furniture is totally irrelevant. What is relevant is that they are turned into higher valued goods to serve the needs of consumers.

It can be said that this is all well and good in theory but what about externalities? What if logging damages local agriculture by reducing water yields? Again, there is no real problem. It must be remembered that part of the local farmers' water supply is being produced by the forest owner's capital. Until he employs that capital, the farmers are really receiving a gift from him. It is only because of his trees that they get the present water yield. The farmers can calculate the estimated value of the output they will lose when the forest owner utilises his capital and then make him an offer.

The point is that the value of the farmers' lost output should at least be equal to the value of the forest owner's income from the trees. To prevent him from harvesting his trees (i.e., force him to withhold his capital from the market) in order to save the farmers' output is, in effect, forcing him to subsidise their activities thereby distorting production by misdirecting resources to the farmers thus lowering consumer welfare.

So long as all parties have property rights and are free to negotiate there is no real problem. The essence of the argument is that private ownership of forests is far more beneficial for the public interest than state control, meaning control by politicians, bureaucrats and pressure groups. Politicians tend to serve their own interests; to them, profit maximisation only equals the maximisation of votes. And the forest industry now knows what that means. In truth, if those who favour state ownership of our forests were consistent they would also apply the same logic to demanding state ownership of agriculture.

As for the greens, if they do not want to see trees used as capital goods then the solution is simple: they can compete with consumers for the trees by offering to buy the forest. But being socialists by temperament as well as conviction, they much prefer to pick the public's pocket rather than dip into their own. Whenever greens succeed in having forest production curtailed, the pockets of the general public become that much smaller and the tax burden that much bigger.


Gore Uses Religion to Attract Convert 'Global Warming' Converts

Former Vice President Al Gore used religious references Thursday night in New York City in an attempt to convince a "town hall" meeting that human-caused catastrophic climate change is real. Gore's "Town Hall on the Climate Crisis," held at a New York theater, was timed to coincide with the release of his "global warming" disaster film, "An Inconvenient Truth," distributed by a division of Paramount Pictures. Gore compared global warming skeptics to conspiracy theorists who believe the U.S. faked the moon landing in 1969. He also announced that he supports a "petroleum tax," and he suggested a boycott of the oil giant Exxon-Mobil for its allegedly poor environmental record.

Another panelist appearing with Gore compared the effort to combat "global warming" to the 19th century movement to end slavery in the U.S. "Every faith tradition has teachings that are directly on point [to climate change]," Gore told the packed audience, which included former first daughter Chelsea Clinton. "The Book of Revelations [says] God will destroy those who destroy his creation," Gore said, noting that some evangelical Christian leaders have expressed concern about climate change. "Whatever works," Gore added, prompting applause and laughter.

Gore departed the event, sponsored by Wired Magazine, with his wife Tipper in a chauffeur-driven black Lincoln Town Car provided by a New York City limousine service. Gore noted that the Bible promotes good stewardship of the Earth. "Noah was commanded to preserve biodiversity," he said.

Lawrence Bender, the director of Gore's documentary, echoed the religious undertones when he described the conversion of his home to solar energy. "I have become evangelical basically," Bender said during the two-hour panel discussion. Joining Gore and Bender were NASA scientist James Hansen, celebrity activist Laurie David and former Dateline NBC correspondent John Hockenberry, who is currently a contributing editor to Wired Magazine. The panel discussion did not include any scientists who are skeptical about human-caused global warming.

An impassioned Gore employed apocalyptic language in urging the crowd to believe that Earth's climate is in crisis because of human activity. "If you believe what [NASA scientist] Jim Hansen said just a moment ago -- if you believe, if you accept the reality that we may have less than 10 years before we cross a point of no return -- if you believe that, this is a time for action," Gore said. He suggested that the current inhabitants of the Earth are facing a "collision between our civilization and the planet." "People [who] are alive today have been placed at a point in history that puts on us the burden of action that is almost unimaginable in the context of human history," Gore said. "We are the most powerful force of nature now. We are literally changing the relationship between the Earth and the Sun," he said. "It has the capacity to bring civilization itself to a dead halt."

Hockenberry compared the righteousness of combating "global warming" to the movement to abolish African American slavery in the 19th century. "We are here at a similar moment. We are witnesses to the emergence of an issue that could not be more urgent," Hockenberry insisted.

'Giant wake-up call'

Other panelists also used dire rhetoric to convince the audience that action must be taken to stave off what they believe is climate doom caused by the buildup of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. "I am hoping that [Gore's] movie will be a giant wake-up call for this country," Laurie David told Cybercast News Service before the event began. David, the wife of comedian/director/producer Larry David, served as the producer for "An Inconvenient Truth." "It's embarrassing that [the U.S. is] not leading on this issue," David said. "I don't even consider this an environment issue anymore. I really consider this a national security issue -- a public health issue," she added.

Despite the urgent call to action, Gore conceded that little can be done to combat what he termed a "planetary emergency." He said politics falls short of "the minimum necessary to really address this crisis." Gore dismissed the scientists who are skeptical of catastrophic human-caused climate change, comparing them to industry-funded tobacco scientists who denied a link between smoking and cancer. "There is no longer any debate. The consensus is as strong as it ever gets in science," Gore said. "[There is] still a percentage of people who think that the moon landing was staged," he added.

Gore also accused the oil and gas industry of attempting to mislead the public on the urgency of climate change. "Some of the executives of Exxon-Mobil will soon look back and feel ashamed of what they're doing by confusing the debate," he said. "I don't know why it's considered no longer acceptable to have a boycott of companies like Exxon-Mobil," he added to applause. Gore also said he supported a "petroleum tax" as long as it was "revenue neutral" and did not place an undue burden on poor Americans.

Legal liability?

Hansen, director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, agreed with Gore's characterization of climate science and wondered what culpability the U.S. will face from the consequences of "global warming." "When nations must abandon their lands because of rising seas, what will our legal liability be?" Hansen asked.

Gore praised Hansen as an objective scientist, ignoring his partisan Democratic Party ties. As Cybercast News Service previously reported, Hansen publicly endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president in 2004 and received a $250,000 grant from the charitable foundation headed by Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. Hansen also has acted as a consultant to Gore's slide-show presentations on "global warming," on which the movie is based.

Hansen, who alleged in January that the Bush administration has been suppressing science for political purposes, previously acknowledged that he once emphasized "extreme scenarios" on climate change to drive the public's attention to the issue. In the March 2004 issue of Scientific American, Hansen wrote, "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. Now, however, the need is for demonstrably objective climate-forcing scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions."

Hansen defended the $250,000 grant from the foundation run by Teresa Heinz Kerry, during an interview with Cybercast News Service following Thursday's panel discussion. "That was an environmental award," Hansen said. "I can't imagine anyone would turn down an environmental award. You don't check the politics of who provides the awards. I frankly don't understand the question," he added. Hansen bristled when Cybercast News Service asked him about his "extreme scenarios" quote. "It's pure horsesh**. That statement was taken out of context. I did not say that I had ever used extreme scenarios," Hansen insisted before ending the interview.



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 May, 2006


Al Gore's new global warming movie is apparently causing some to think that a major turning point in the debate is at hand. The ranks of the so-called global warming "skeptics" were supposedly thinned this week when prominent environmental commentator Gregg Easterbrook announced his defection in a May 24 New York Times op-ed. "As an environmental commentator, I have a long record of opposing alarmism. But based on the data I'm now switching sides regarding global warming, from skeptic to convert," wrote Easterbrook, a senior editor with The New Republic and a fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Easterbrook a "skeptic"? With "a long record of opposing alarmism"? Are there two Gregg Easterbrooks? Though Easterbrook is far from a household name, readers of environmental commentary are certainly familiar with his reputation as a left-of-center eco-contrarian - an image secured by his 1995 book entitled, "A Moment on Earth: The Coming Age of Environmental Optimism." Publicly reviled by environmentalists and hailed by their opponents, Easterbrook's book examined human impact on the environment and concluded that the environment was getting better, not worse. But 1995 is so over and now in 2006, Easterbrook concluded in the Times that "[Global warming] research is now in, and it shows a strong scientific consensus that an artificially warming world is a real phenomenon posing real danger."

So what changed Easterbrook's mind? Ironically, it was a report from the Bush administration released earlier this month. Before we get to that, consider what developments Easterbrook says in his op-ed didn't persuade him. Easterbrook writes that, in 2003, the American Geophysical Union and American Meteorological Service "both declared that signs of global warming had become compelling" and "In 2004, the American Association for the Advancement of Science said that there was no longer any `substantive disagreement in the scientific community' that artificial global warming is happening." He also notes that in 2005 the national science academies of the U.S., U.K., China, Germany and Japan issued a joint statement announcing that "significant global warming is occurring."

But it wasn't "case closed," according to Easterbrook's op-ed, until the Bush administration's Climate Change Science Program announced this month that research supports "a substantial human impact on global temperature." It's difficult to take this alleged conversion seriously. Since at least 1998, Easterbrook has consistently regurgitated global warming alarmism. In a 1998 New Republic article, Easterbrook wrote that "the scientific consensus on global warming has strengthened," that projected warming could be "quite nasty" and that "coming temperature increases appear cast in stone."

In 2000, Easterbrook criticized CBS for "trivializing the greenhouse effect" by broadcasting the 1993 miniseries "The Fire Next Time," which depicted the U.S. as destroyed by global warming in the year 2007. Later in 2000, Easterbrook wrote, "The signs of global warming keep accumulating. realistic steps against global warming could start right away. A warming world need no longer be our destiny." In 2003, Easterbrook criticized Democrats for being too critical of President Bush and discouraging him from "proposing. meaningful global warming rules." In 2004, Easterbrook wrote that, "There are troubling problems with Bush administration attitudes toward science, especially greenhouse gases." In 2005, Easterbrook wrote that "restraining greenhouse gases" was "our next great environmental project."

Contrary to assertions in his Times op-ed, Easterbrook's writings indicate that he became a global warming convert long ago - not just this month. So what's up with the melodramatic announcement of his "conversion"? Easterbrook may be thinking that Al Gore's movie and attendant hoopla will finally cause sufficient public panic to catapult the global warming alarmists to rhetorical victory. If so, Easterbrook may want to atone to the environmental activist community that he previously alienated by "A Moment on Earth" and any other eco-contrarian "moments" he has had over the last decade. Easterbrook will no doubt be welcomed and forgiven for any past sins by the environmentalists since, as a prominent eco-contrarian writer, his supposed "conversion" from skeptic to convert purports to signal the public that a major turning point in the global warming debate has been reached.

I suppose a major turning point has been reached - Al Gore and the alarmists have seemingly gone over the edge in thinking that a movie rather than scientific debate is the way to resolve the global warming controversy. There certainly has been no change in the science - there is still no persuasive evidence that humans are adversely affecting global climate or that humans can manipulate global climate by regulating greenhouse gas emission. Moreover, it's quote ironic that the tipping point for Easterbrook was a statement about global warming from the Bush administration whose viewpoint apparently is not credible until it coincides with his own. It's quite laughable that Easterbrook and the New York Times fancy his imaginary status as a new convert of any importance to the global warming debate. It's the science that's important, not a journalist's self-aggrandizement for political and possible career-advancing purposes. And if there are two Gregg Easterbrooks, will the real skeptic please stand up?



By Dr. Roy Spencer

Dear Mr. Gore:

I have just seen your new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," about the threat that global warming presents to humanity. I think you did a very good job of explaining global warming theory, and your presentation was effective. Please convey my compliments to your good friend, Laurie David, for a job well done. As a climate scientist myself -- you might remember me...I'm the one you mistook for your "good friend," UK scientist Phil Jones during my congressional testimony some years back -- I have a few questions that occurred to me while watching the movie.

1) Why did you make it look like hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, droughts, and ice calving off of glaciers and falling into the ocean, are only recent phenomena associated with global warming? You surely know that hurricane experts have been warning congress for many years that the natural cycle in hurricanes would return some day, and that our built-up coastlines were ripe for a disaster (like Katrina, which you highlighted in the movie). And as long as snow continues to fall on glaciers, they will continue to flow downhill toward the sea. Yet you made it look like these things wouldn't happen if it weren't for global warming. Also, since there are virtually no measures of severe weather showing a recent increase, I assume those graphs you showed actually represented damage increases, which are well known to be simply due to greater population and wealth. Is that right?

2) Why did you make it sound like all scientists agree that climate change is manmade and not natural? You mentioned a recent literature review study that supposedly found no peer-reviewed articles that attributed climate change to natural causes (a non-repeatable study which has since been refuted....I have a number of such articles in my office!) You also mentioned how important it is to listen to scientists when they warn us, yet surely you know that almost all past scientific predictions of gloom and doom have been wrong. How can we trust scientists' predictions now?

3) I know you still must feel bad about the last presidential election being stolen from you, but why did you have to make fun of Republican presidents (Reagan; both Bushes) for their views on global warming? The points you made in the movie might have had wider appeal if you did not alienate so many moviegoers in this manner.

4) Your presentation showing the past 650,000 years of atmospheric temperature and carbon dioxide reconstructions from ice cores was very effective. But I assume you know that some scientists view the CO2 increases as the result of, rather than the cause of, past temperature increases. It seems unlikely that CO2 variations have been the dominant cause of climate change for hundreds of thousands of years. And now that there is a new source of carbon dioxide emissions (people), those old relationships are probably not valid anymore. Why did you give no hint of these alternative views?

5) When you recounted your 6-year-old son's tragic accident that nearly killed him, I thought that you were going to make the point that, if you had lived in a poor country like China or India, your son would have probably died. But then you later held up these countries as model examples for their low greenhouse gas emissions, without mentioning that the only reason their emissions were so low was because people in those countries are so poor. I'm you really want us to live like the poor people in India and China?

6) There seems to be a lot of recent concern that more polar bears are drowning these days because of disappearing sea ice. I assume you know that polar bears have always migrated to land in late summer when sea ice naturally melts back, and then return to the ice when it re-freezes. Also, if this was really happening, why did the movie have to use a computer generated animation of the poor polar bear swimming around looking for ice? Haven't there been any actual observations of this happening? Also, temperature measurements in the arctic suggest that it was just as warm there in the 1930's...before most greenhouse gas emissions. Don't you ever wonder whether sea ice concentrations back then were low, too?

7) Why did you make it sound like simply signing on to the Kyoto Protocol to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions would be such a big step forward, when we already know it will have no measurable effect on global temperatures anyway? And even though it represents such a small emission reduction, the economic pain Kyoto causes means that almost no developed country will be meeting its emission reductions commitments under that treaty, as we are now witnessing in Europe.

8) At the end of the movie, you made it sound like we can mostly fix the global warming problem by conserving energy... you even claimed we can reduce our carbon emissions to zero. But I'm sure you know that this will only be possible with major technological advancements, including a probable return to nuclear power as an energy source. Why did you not mention this need for technological advancement and nuclear power? It is because that would support the current (Republican) Administration's view?

Mr. Gore, I think we can both agree that if it was relatively easy for mankind to stop emitting so much carbon dioxide, that we should do so. You are a very smart person, so I can't understand why you left so many important points unmentioned, and you made it sound so easy. I wish you well in these efforts, and I hope that humanity will make the right choices based upon all of the information we have on the subject of global warming. I agree with you that global warming is indeed a "moral issue," and if we are to avoid doing more harm than good with misguided governmental policies, we will need more politicians to be educated on the issue.

TCS Daily, 25 May 2006

Australian report: Nuclear power 'viable, economical'

Nuclear power makes economic sense for Australia and is viable even without government support. Science Minister Julie Bishop said a report commissioned by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation showed that a nuclear power station would be competitive with a newly built coal-fired station. "It found there are significant health risks associated with coal energy production but minimal risks with nuclear power," Ms Bishop said. The report suggested two ways that construction of a nuclear power plant could be funded, which were similar to models in operation in the US. "Overall, the report is positive about the economic basis for establishing a nuclear power industry in Australia."

It is understood the report, due to be handed to the Government today, considers public and private funding models and finds that when environmental costs are taken into account, the economics of nuclear power make more sense. It has also emerged that had plans for a nuclear power station at Jervis Bay in NSW been acted on in the 1970s, it would today be producing the world's cheapest electricity.

"It's time we did get down to a really detailed examination of what are nuclear power's prospects in Australia," said Keith Alder, the last general manager of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Mr Alder said he hoped the renewed nuclear debate would focus on Australia developing a uranium enrichment industry. "Whether we want to remain a quarry for the rest of the world or whether we establish a full industry in Australia and (export) the processed product: enrichment should take priority at this stage over whether or not we now look into nuclear power," he said. It was "crazy" that Australia held 40 per cent of the world's uranium "but we don't have any industry that processes it". And with fast-growing nations such as China and India going for nuclear power, it was time for Australia to act. "In 50 years it's going to be a bigger industry than coal," Mr Alder said. "We should be thinking about our role."

Attempts to develop an enrichment industry had got as far as negotiating a deal with an international consortium but were killed by the election of the Hawke government in 1983. "I think it's one of the greatest tragedies in Australian industrial history," he said. "It could have been the start of an enormous enterprise, very profitable in jobs and money."


The High Price of Land-Use Planning

Most people know that the San Francisco Bay Area has one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation. However, not everyone realizes that, as recently as 1970, Bay Area housing was as affordable as housing in many other parts of the country. Data from the 1970 census shows that a median-income Bay Area family could dedicate a quarter of their income to housing and pay off their mortgage on a median-priced home in just 13 years. By 1980, a family had to spend 40 percent of their income to pay off a home mortgage in 30 years; today, it requires 50 percent.

What happened in the 1970s to make Bay Area housing so unaffordable? In a nutshell: land-use planning. During the 1970s, Bay Area cities and counties imposed a variety of land-use restrictions intended to make the region more livable. These restrictions included urban-growth boundaries, purchases of regional parks and open spaces and various limits on building permits. These regulations created artificial land shortages that drove housing prices to extreme levels. Today, residents of Houston, Texas, can buy a brand-new four-bedroom, two-and-one-half bath home on a quarter-acre lot for less than $160,000. That same house would cost you more than five times as much in Marin or Contra Costa counties, seven times as much in Alameda County, and eight to nine times as much in Santa Clara, San Mateo, or San Francisco counties.

In fact, planning-induced housing shortages added $30 billion to the cost of homes that Bay Area homebuyers purchased in 2005. This dwarfs any benefits from land-use restrictions; after all, how livable is a place if you can't afford to live there? The benefits of protecting open space are particularly questionable. The 2000 census found that nearly 95 percent of Californians live in cities and towns that occupy just 5 percent of its land. Many San Francisco Bay Area counties have permanently protected more acres as open space than they have made available for urban development. When such actions make it impossible for middle-class families, much less low-income families, to afford their own homes, they represent a sad distortion of social priorities.

Moreover, as in the 1980s, California's fast-rising home prices have attracted speculators who have created huge bubbles in the state's housing markets. Bay Area prices fell by 10 percent in the early 1980s, 20 percent in the early 1990s, and are likely to fall even more as the bubble deflates in the next few years.

The impacts of high housing prices are also reverberating throughout the region's economy. First, economic growth has slowed as businesses look elsewhere to locate offices and factories. High housing costs have also increased prices for food and other consumer goods; retailers now pay $1 million per acre or more for store locations. Far from reducing driving as planners desire, high housing prices force many commuters to live farther away from their jobs, forcing more cars onto the roads. Ironically, an obsessive focus on protecting Bay Area "farmlands" (in fact, mostly marginal pasturelands) forces people to move inland and more rapidly develop the highly productive croplands in California's not-yet-so-unaffordable Central Valley.

The people most enthused about all these planning rules like to call themselves ''progressive.'' But the effects of planning on home prices are entirely regressive. Planning-induced housing shortages place enormous burdens on low-income families but create windfall profits for wealthy homeowners. Does this steal-from-the-poor, give-to-the-rich policy reflect the Bay Area's true attitudes?

Homeownership is more than just a dream, it is a vital part of America's economic mobility. Most small businesses get their original financing from a loan secured by the business owner's home. Children in low-income families who own their own homes do better on educational tests than those who live in rental housing. Barriers to home ownership reduce this mobility and help keep low-income people poor.

Predictably, planners' solutions to the housing affordability problem often make the problem worse. Planners typically require that homebuilders sell or rent 15 percent of their homes at below-market rates to low-income families. The homebuilders simply pass that cost on to the buyers of the other 85 percent of the homes they sell. Existing homeowners, seeing that new homes suddenly cost more, raise the price of their homes when they sell. The result: A few people benefit and everyone else pays more.

The solution to the Bay Area's housing affordability crisis is not a few units of affordable housing, but widespread land-use deregulation that will make housing more affordable for everyone.



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 May, 2006


A 'chilly war' has already begun, says Putin's former advisor, in which the very basic pillars of Western society are at stake. Andrei Illarionov, former economic advisor (2000-2005) to Russian President Vladimir Putin, argues that Europe's own policies have contributed to the current uncertainty over its energy security and that the Russian authorities are now able to take advantage of this situation - to the detriment of Western values and institutions:

"It is no surprise that Europe is facing a cold, dark future deprived of energy. In recent years, many European leaders have been obsessed with energy rationing. They intentionally have demonised energy production and use. They have claimed that hydrocarbon energy is too cheap and demanded a carbon tax. They have adopted the Kyoto Protocol - and cajoled Russia into joining," said Illarionov.

"Now that the bear of state interventionism and central planning is out of its cave, the Russian authorities are effectively offering the energy rationing so desired by European leaders. They shouldn't be surprised: this 'chilly war' is exactly what they have worked so hard to secure," he continued.

Illarionov suggests that the response, or absence of response, by Western leaders to actions by the Russian authorities - including violation of individual rights, disregard for freedom of speech, and aggressive behaviour towards democratically-oriented former Soviet states such as the Ukraine, Georgia and Maldova - has effectively led to a "chilly war" between Russia and the West.

"What we see now is a great battle unfolding in front of our eyes, one with implications similar to those of the Cold War. It is a battle not predicated on military, political or economic power. It is about the fundamental institutions that define western civilization - the market economy, liberal democracy, the rule of law - and the moral standards and values underlying these institutions," said Illarionov.

Illarionov explained that, in his view, energy security is symbolic of a larger issue between Russia and other G8 members in the lead-up to the July G8 meeting in St. Petersburg. "Are G8 members serious about defending the very cornerstones, defining values and institutions of Western civilisation - or will they compromise and bow to the demands and caprices of the new energy tsars?" Illarionov asked.

"The upcoming G8 meeting in St. Petersburg will be the first public test of how serious the West is about defending the values and institutions of Western civilisation. Judging by the actions of G7 leaders so far, it remains unclear whether they will stand up to this threat or not. Without this courageous leadership, Europe's future certainly will be cold and dark" he concluded.

International Policy Network. 23 May 2006


Pete du Pont is a former governor of Delaware

Since 1970, the year of the first Earth Day, America's population has increased by 42%, the country's inflation-adjusted gross domestic product has grown 195%, the number of cars and trucks in the United States has more than doubled, and the total number of miles driven has increased by 178%. But during these 35 years of growing population, employment, and industrial production, the Environmental Protection Agency reports, the environment has substantially improved. Emissions of the six principal air pollutants have decreased by 53%. Carbon monoxide emissions have dropped from 197 million tons per year to 89 million; nitrogen oxides from 27 million tons to 19 million, and sulfur dioxide from 31 million to 15 million. Particulates are down 80%, and lead emissions have declined by more than 98%.

When it comes to visible environmental improvements, America is also making substantial progress:

* The number of days the city of Los Angeles exceeded the one-hour ozone standard has declined from just under 200 a year in the late 1970s to 27 in 2004.
* The Pacific Research Institute's Index of Leading Environmental Indicators shows that "U.S. forests expanded by 9.5 million acres between 1990 and 2000."
* While wetlands were declining at the rate of 500,000 acres a year at midcentury, they "have shown a net gain of about 26,000 acres per year in the past five years," according to the institute.
* Also according to the institute, "bald eagles, down to fewer than 500 nesting pairs in 1965, are now estimated to number more than 7,500 nesting pairs."

Environmentally speaking, America has had a very good third of a century; the economy has grown and pollutants and their impacts upon society are substantially down.

But now comes the carbon dioxide alarm. CO2 is not a pollutant--indeed it is vital for plant growth--but the annual amount released into the atmosphere has increased 40% since 1970. This increase is blamed by global warming alarmists for a great many evil things. The Web site for Al Gore's new film, "An Inconvenient Truth," claims that because of CO2's impact on our atmosphere, sea levels may rise by 20 feet, the Arctic and Antarctic ice will likely melt, heat waves will be "more frequent and more intense," and "deaths from global warming will double in just 25 years--to 300,000 people a year."

If it all sounds familiar, think back to the 1970s. After the first Earth Day the New York Times predicted "intolerable deterioration and possible extinction" for the human race as the result of pollution. Harvard biologist George Wald predicted that unless we took immediate action "civilization will end within 15 to 30 years," and environmental doomsayer Paul Ehrlich predicted that four billion people--including 65 million American--would perish from famine in the 1980s.

So what is the reality about global warming and its impact on the world? A new study released this week by the National Center for Policy Analysis, "Climate Science: Climate Change and Its Impacts" ( looks at a wide variety of climate matters, from global warming and hurricanes to rain and drought, sea levels, arctic temperatures and solar radiation. It concludes that "the science does not support claims of drastic increases in global temperatures over the 21rst century, nor does it support claims of human influence on weather events and other secondary effects of climate change."

There are substantial differences in climate models--some 30 of them looked at by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change--but the Climate Science study concludes that "computer models consistently project a rise in temperatures over the past century that is more than twice as high as the measured increase." The National Center for Atmospheric Research's prediction of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit warming is more accurate. In short, the world is not warming as much as environmentalists think it is.

What warming there is turns out to be caused by solar radiation rather than human pollution. The Climate Change study concluded "half the observed 20th century warming occurred before 1940 and cannot be attributed to human causes," and changes in solar radiation can "account for 71 percent of the variation in global surface air temperature from 1880 to 1993."

As for hurricanes, 2005 saw several severe ones--Katrina and Rita both had winds of 150 knots--hitting New Orleans, the Gulf Coast and Florida. But there is little evidence linking them to global warming. A team of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists concluded that the increased Atlantic hurricane activity since 1995 "is not related to greenhouse warming" but instead to natural tropical climate cycles.

Regarding Arctic temperature changes, the Study found the coastal stations in Greenland had actually experienced a cooling trend: The "average summer air temperatures at the summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet, have decreased at the rate of 4 degrees F per decade since measurements began in 1987." Add in Russian and Alaskan temperature data and "Arctic air temperatures were warmest in the 1930s and near the coolest for the period of recorded observations (since at least 1920) in the late 1980s."

As for sea ice, it is not melting excessively. Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans concluded that "global warming appears to play a minor role in changes to Arctic sea ice." The U.N.'s IPCC Third Assessment Report concluded that the rate of sea level rise has not accelerated during the last century, which is supported by U.S. coastal sea level experience. In California sea levels have risen between zero and seven millimeters a year and between 2.1 and 2.8 millimeters a year in North and South Carolina.

Finally come the polar bears--a species thought by global warming proponents to be seriously at risk from the increasing temperature. According to the World Wildlife Fund, among the distinct polar bear populations, two are growing--and in areas where temperatures have risen; ten are stable; and two are decreasing. But those two are in areas such as Baffin Bay where air temperatures have actually fallen.

The Climate Science study concludes that projections of global warming over the next century "have decreased significantly since early modeling efforts," and that global air temperatures should increase by 2.5 degrees and the United States by about 1 degree Fahrenheit over the next hundred years. The environmental pessimists tell us, as in Time magazine's recent global warming issue, to "Be Worried. Be Very Worried," but the truth is that our environmental progress has been substantially improving, and we should be very pleased.


Awkward nuclear facts for the Left

They have probably never heard of pebble-bed technology before

New-generation nuclear reactors could be built safely anywhere in Australia because they did not pose a risk of meltdown and did not necessarily require water for cooling, according to Parliament's only doctor of physics, Dennis Jensen. The Opposition yesterday challenged the Government to rule out likely sites for reactors, but Dr Jensen, a West Australian Liberal, said later there were "all sorts of places", including in the desert. So-called generation IV reactors were gas-cooled and it was "physically impossible for them to melt down", said Dr Jensen, who is a former defence scientist and who has a doctorate in high-temperature ceramics.

As the new reactors did not require the large quantities of water for cooling needed by conventional reactors, they did not have to be on the coast, as speculated by critics this week. "The new technology allows you far more flexibility in location," Dr Jensen said. "Labor, by attempting to define potential sites for a nuclear reactor, are hoping to generate fear among people who live nearby." One version of the generation IV reactors was being developed in South Africa with support from China, he said, and the technology was attracting interest from Britain, the US and other countries. The reactors were cheaper to build than current versions and Dr Jensen said their generating costs were likely to be about the same as coal-fired stations.

In Parliament, the Treasurer and acting Prime Minister, Peter Costello, yesterday declined to answer an Opposition question about whether the Government would rule out possible sites, such as NSW's Northern Rivers region. The Opposition Leader, Kim Beazley, asked where the Government would find a place to dispose of high-level nuclear waste given it had not been able to find a place for low-level waste. National security was also a worry, he said. "Nations tend to regard those developing nuclear power for the purposes of power generation as retaining options for weaponising it, and that would be a very bad signal to send to this region," Mr Beazley said. [How dreadful!]

But the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, accused Mr Beazley of being a "charlatan", given the numerous Asian countries already with or planning to get nuclear power, including Japan, Vietnam and Thailand.

In Dublin, two days after accusing Mr Beazley of being unable to take a position on nuclear power, the Prime Minister, John Howard, accused him of hypocrisy for opposing it. Mr Howard said Mr Beazley's reaffirmation on Tuesday that Labor opposed nuclear power in Australia did not make sense. It was inconsistent to support uranium exports to other countries for nuclear power, but not be prepared to embrace it in Australia, Mr Howard said. "If nuclear power is unsafe, unacceptable . you shouldn't export any uranium to any other countries," he said. "I'm . in awe of [Mr Beazley's] hypocrisy on the issue."



On July 15, the leaders of the world's eight great industrial nations will convene in St. Petersburg, Russia, to discuss the future of the global economy. Chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin, it will mark the culmination of Moscow's 20-year transformation from the spiritual home of communism into a major capitalist power.

But the meeting will be held against a backdrop of increasing international tension about Russia's resurgence. Relations between Washington and Moscow are at their lowest ebb in 10 years, and in his recent Address to the Federal Assembly -- equivalent to the State of the Union address -- Putin remarked that "far from everyone in the world has abandoned the old bloc mentality and the prejudices inherited from the era of global confrontation."

The speech as a whole was an intricate balance between the need to arrest Russia's internal societal decline -- one-third of the population, which is shrinking rapidly, lives in poverty -- and a desire to play an ever-greater role in world affairs. Moscow's involvement in the Iranian nuclear affair is a case in point. Its refusal to sanction serious Security Council measures against Tehran is a growing source of concern to the United States and Britain.

This newfound confidence has its basis in Russia's economic resurgence since the collapse of the rouble in 1998, the single largest cause of which is the high (and rising) price of oil. Russia is the world's second-largest producer of oil, and the wealth pouring into Moscow has allowed it to retire most of its foreign debt and build up a $62 billion "stabilisation fund" to buttress its economy against a fall in oil prices. But if oil is underpinning Russia's economic growth, natural gas is the basis for its geopolitical resurgence. It possesses the world's largest reserves, and through its ownership of Gazprom -- now the world's third-largest company -- the Kremlin exercises a total monopoly on exports.

There is a growing concern in Washington and some European capitals that the actions of Gazprom and RAO UES, the state-owned electricity monopoly, are not solely driven by the profit motive. Both companies are pursuing an aggressive policy of acquiring "downstream" (i.e. distribution) assets in Europe and the Caspian basin to complement their "upstream" (i.e. production) facilities in Russia. For example, RAO UES recently purchased a majority stake in both Georgia's and Armenia's electricity networks in return for the offer of subsidized electricity. And Gazprom is currently purchasing transmission networks and distribution companies, often through middlemen organizations (one of which is being investigated by the Justice Department), in Eastern Europe and Germany. As a consequence, these state-owned monopolists are increasing Europe's structural dependence on Russian energy. And unlike oil, which can be transported anywhere in the world, gas and electricity require considerable investment in infrastructure, and hence long-term supply contracts, to be delivered to the market.

While such dependence has been growing for some years now, it was not until the Ukrainian crisis in December -- when Gazprom cut supplies to Kiev on the basis of an irresolvable "commercial dispute" -- that Europe and the United States began to question Russia's reliability as an energy partner. Since then, the EU has been scrambling to develop a new energy policy towards Russia, but a consensus remains elusive. Some countries are already too reliant on Russian energy, by dint of pipelines that date from the Soviet era, to ruffle any diplomatic feathers.

The Baltic States, Hungary and the Czech and Slovak Republics all receive more than 80% of their gas from Russia. By contrast, Berlin recently signed an agreement with Moscow to build a pipeline from the vast Shtokman field in the Barents Sea to the north German coast via the Baltic Sea. The plan has provoked a furious response from many Eastern European nations.

The Polish Defence Minister, Radek Sikorski, likened it to the pre-World War II Molotov-Ribbentropp Pact, wherein Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union secretly agreed to divide up Poland. But while such fears are overstated, the fact remains that, if the pipeline is completed, Poland and other Eastern European nations will be more vulnerable to Russia's political machinations because any 'disruptions' to supply won't now have a knock-on effect on the politically powerful Western European markets.

Such concerns were the basis of Vice President Cheney's recent comments in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius when he accused Moscow of using its energy resources as "tools of intimidation and blackmail" and its "back-sliding on democracy." Europeans share many of the same concerns, and following the rift over the Iraq war, the issue of Russia's growing assertiveness may offer the opportunity for greater transatlantic cooperation. Notwithstanding its traditional antipathy towards Russian authoritarianism, Washington has another considerable reason for weighing in on behalf on Europe: China.

Moscow has rapidly scaled up its diplomatic efforts with Beijing over the last few years -- both are fervent supporters of a multi-polar world order -- and trade tripled to $16 billion between 1999-2004. China's growing demand for energy, combined with Russia's vast untapped resources in Eastern Siberia, represents an opportunity for a further deepening of relations. However, Russia will struggle to meet both projected Chinese demand and its current European commitments without massive investment in new infrastructure. Such investment is unlikely to come from foreign investors as the climate for business in Russia becomes ever less encouraging, and it will therefore have to come from the Russian government.

If Europe feels that it cannot rely on Moscow as a stable source of energy, it will seek to diversify away from Russian gas and oil toward more expensive forms of power generation including nuclear and renewables, further undermining the continent's weak economic growth. Similarly, investing in exports to China is a very expensive, long-term proposition for Moscow, but one they are willing to undertake if they feel their European market share is sufficiently threatened.

By contrast, a free-market approach would greatly facilitate the trade in energy between Russia and Europe, because it makes eminent economic sense -- the infrastructures already exists, and demand is slowly rising. The EU, therefore, needs the United States' support to pressure Russia toward further integration into global trading system of liberalized markets and the privatization of its vast state-owned energy firms which too often conflate Russia's economic and political interests -- often to the detriment of both.

Human Events Online, 23 May 2006


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

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

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 May, 2006


There are some more pictures of the lifesaving "Three Gorges" dam in China here


Post recycled from Bob Nelson

1) Recycling is a religion that is observed by compelling people to perform rituals which, like in any religion, demand that the participants make themselves miserable for the sake of furthering some poorly defined and mythical benefit. Religious fanatics refuse to be happy -- they blindly lurch from one stupid cause to another, whether it's mindless vegetarianism so they can't enjoy meat, or "energy conservation" so they can't enjoy decent lighting (and powerful air conditioning), or giving money to bums so they can't enjoy spending it on themselves, or an obsession against abortion so that they can have an unwanted litter that they can't take care of, or revulsion of firearms so they can't defend themselves. Religious fanatics also live for imposing their prohibitions on others so that YOU won't be able to live happily and guilt-free, to say nothing of having a toilet that will flush properly.

2) If recycling made sense, we wouldn't be forced to do it. Instead, companies would pay people enough to make us want to recycle. The fact that companies find it cheaper to use so-called raw materials is a sign that recycling requires a higher net expenditure of resources. Maybe your old sutures CAN get recycled into cheese wrappers, but the time and expense of gathering them, cleaning them, reshaping them, etc. outweigh the costs of just starting fresh. No need to dig up the "studies" to prove this -- the function of prices in a free market clearly indicates what's most efficient.

3) "Where will we put all the garbage if it isn't recycled?" What are GARBAGE DUMPS for? Scenery? For example, New York City has 7M people (about 3% of the US population) -- and manages to dump all its garbage into a single dump. Therefore, the ENTIRE U.S.A. can toss its trash in about 33 of these dumps.

I've read that the whole country can put its garbage in a 64 square-mile dump. Eight miles per side -- that sounds about right. (Of course, the whole "problem" of too much garbage was CAUSED by the government by socializing garbage pick-ups, so that it feels "free" to throw away as much as you want.)

4) Recycling encourages lawlessness. All that nickel-a-bottle crap in front of people's homes invites lice-infested bums, psychos, and assorted riff-raff to make themselves feel free to trespass on people's property and rummage through their garbage. Legions of do-gooders who recycle in the name of "saving the environment" have instead attracted hoards of winos and vagrants to residential neighborhoods where they feel free to litter, defecate, etc. wherever they please -- makes for a lovely "environment", doesn't it? Sometimes they go from house to house and don't you DARE EVEN SUGGEST that they get the hell off your private property and out of your garbage can. They drag those filthy plastic bags filled with beer cans through the streets and subways. They probably spread disease. And you just KNOW that they've got violent histories. And now they're appearing right at your front door...and you better like it.

5) There used to be lots of smelly garbage trucks in neighborhoods. Now there are lots of smelly garbage trucks and lots of smelly recycling trucks. And it's not like those garbage men took a pay cut when the recycling guys showed up -- now we get to pay taxes for TWICE AS MANY union guys to haul trash around the neighborhood. Different fleets of vehicles add to the costs too -- it's more expensive to maintain different types of equipment. And the added complexity of scheduling two different types of trash haulers also adds to the costs.

6) Recycled products are shoddy. Newspapers quickly got rid of their recycled delivery bags because they felt like mushy sandpaper. Recycled cardboard feels cheap. Eastern European toilet paper HAS to have been recycled. My hamburger gets cold in those stupid paper wrappers -- I want my Styrofoam clamshell back. Remember the McDLT? (The hot side stays hot, and the cold side stays cold...)

7) We can all be criminals now. Instead of looking for burglars and murderers (don't forget about the parolee-scum pushing shopping carts of filthy "recyclables" through neighborhood streets), the police can look through people's garbage for a plastic orange juice bottle and make society safe once again for everyone else. Where does ANYONE get the right to look through garbage cans? And where does the GOVERNMENT get the right? I know where they specifically DON'T have that right -- hasn't anyone heard of the Fourth Amendment? Hello? "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, AGAINST UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES, shall not be violated..." When was the last time a garbage cop had a warrant?

8) "Recycling saves trees". Just like being a vegetarian saves cows? Stop eating meat and you won't ever see pigs and cows again. Stop eating apples and you'll never see apple trees again. Paper comes from commercial tree farms -- recycle your paper and no one will grow trees. Trees are a crop like corn, peas, and cabbages. You plant a seed, the thing starts to grow, and you pull it out of the ground and use it. You save some of the seeds and plant them to grow replacement crops. Of course, even if tossing your newspaper out really did somehow reduce the number of trees, it's not like a bunch of loggers are going to break into your backyard and cart off your favorite tree (though I really do wish that someone would remove those vomit-stench gingko trees once and for all). Commercial tree farms where new trees are constantly being grown are located in remote areas far from anyplace you'll ever be anyway.

9) Bottle deposits result in supermarkets -- the places where you buy your food -- setting aside this horridly filthy area where aforementioned scum drag their dripping bags of disease and filth. (This is only compounded when supermarkets require a 25-cent deposit for shopping carts -- as if to invite the dregs to hang around a little longer to pick up a few easy quarters.) There's also something obscene about criminalizing bottle sales unless the seller takes extra money to satisfy the recycling ritual.

10) People who for whatever perverse reason feel guilty about using paper should learn how to use a computer. I can't tell you how many times I've seen recycling zealots refuse to read anything unless it's handed to them on a piece of paper, or hit the print command to look at a couple of cells on a spreadsheet, or distribute 25 paper copies of reports instead of using e-mail or at least distribution via floppies.

11) Recycling is gross, what with things like used diapers and almost-empty beer bottles (except for those among us whose time is so absolutely worthless that they actually clean them first, which when you think about it, is cruel to the vagrants that like to squeeze the last few sips out before heading over to the supermarket).

12) As absurd as recycling is in this country, the Euromorons have turned it into an out-and-out crusade, like with stupid "green" parties trying to protect The Fatherland. So they have all sorts of idiotic regulations requiring companies to recover things they sell, like out of some bottle-deposit nightmare. Whenever such stupid legislation is passed (whether there or here), it only serves to drive marginal businesses bankrupt since the corner diner can't comply with expensive regulations like McDonald's can, and they certainly can't afford to hire teams of lawyers and accountants to figure out what all these rules mean. Meanwhile, I remember witnessing recycling heaven at the St. Petersburg railroad station as the Russians would line up for this beverage machine that squirted a foamy brownish liquid into a glass that the first Russian would drink out of, and then place back on the machine's grill so the next customer could reuse the glass.

13) It takes time to sort garbage and it takes space to have different containers for every category of trash. And I won't even get into the details of actually cleaning this crap. Instead of doing something fun or productive, people waste hours and hours on these senseless chores like there isn't a single other thing that they could do with that time...

14) "We'll run out of resources blah blah blah..." It's the job of prices, not fanatics, to signal whether we're "running out" of anything.

In short, the ostensible intents of recycling are all window-dressing -- what really matters is the guilt-cleansing ritual of deprivation and the satisfaction of imposing this religion on others.


Just one more little factory will change the world! "Red Ken" wants people to have to go out into the street to get their water -- back to the 18th century village!

The security of London's water supply is at risk unless Britain's first desalination plant is built, a public inquiry was told yesterday. Water shortages and standpipes in the streets could cost the national economy 5 billion pounds, Keith Lindblom, QC, representing Thames Water, said.

It was the first day of a five-week inquiry into the proposed 200 million pound plant in Newham, East London, which has been approved by the borough council, the Environment Agency and the Consumer Council for Water but refused planning permission by Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London. He claims that the "energy- guzzling and carbon-intensive" plant will be the "tipping point of irreversible climate change". He told the inquiry in Docklands, East London, that climate change was "the most terrible risk" to London, and suggested that Thames Water did not want to face a difficult situation, preferring the desalination plant to "an endless campaign to stop people from flushing the toilet unnecessarily each time after urinating".

Mr Livingstone accepted that were people to be reduced to getting water from standpipes it would be bad for Britain's image but suggested that there would also be adverse publicity were the plant to go ahead. He called for the plans to be shelved because Thames Water was "leaking the equivalent of three quarters of Windermere every year". John Hodgson, QC, for Mr Livingstone, told the inquiry: "Every day, Thames Water leaks a staggering 915 million litres of clean, purified drinking water from Thames's own pipes - that's 6 times the capacity of the proposed desalination plant - 800 million litres from London itself." Mr Hodgson said that every day the desalination plant was in full use, Thames Water would pump more than 150 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In a year the total emissions would be 22,600 tonnes. The plant would not even meet the current water deficit. The plant had a capacity of 140 megalitres a day; Thames claims the capital's water deficit is 263 megalitres a day, he said.

The company, which needs to supply 6.2 million people, insists it would only use the plant in times of drought. Mr Lindblom said that without it, London would be "unacceptably vulnerable to deficiencies" in its water supply. "The continuation of this degree of risk to the security of water supply in London is not acceptable. Of particular concern is the frequency with which Londoners can expect rota cuts to their water to be applied," he said.

The final decision will be made jointly by Ruth Kelly, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, and David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, after a recommendation by Bob Lyon, the planning inspector.

The Times

Drill ANWR: Realism Over Emotion

Say the phrase "drill ANWR" to an environmentalist; the reaction can be equated to having spoken the most vile four- letter word while inside the Mormon Tabernacle. The United States House of Representatives may soon cause another tirade to erupt from Greenpeace and the Sierra Club. For the sake of our country let us hope that each chamber of Congress takes a roll call vote on ANWR and that the vote tallies leave the Greens red with rage.

A vote to permit exploration and development of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is scheduled before Memorial Day. Those who claim a sincere interest in lessening America's dependence on foreign energy sources have a vested interest in a victory. The well-funded Green Lobby continually opposes ANWR drilling although such drilling would be a sensible measure to help alleviate our energy needs in the medium-term. The Green Lobby's preferred solutions - solar energy, hydrogen cars - are alternatives that can only be feasible in the long-term.

Governor Frank Murkowski (R-AK) recalled in a recent commentary published by THE SEATTLE TIMES that Alaska's North Slope once averaged two million barrels of oil a day, representing more than half the oil used on the West Coast. Now that average daily output has declined to 900,000 barrels. Guess who now makes up the difference? It's OPEC and other foreign oil producers.

The Department of Energy Information Administration lists several regimes that already or potentially are hostile to the United States. Ranking among the top importers of crude oil to the United States in February: Saudi Arabia (1.418 million barrels per day), Venezuela (1.178 million barrels per day), Brazil (0.164 million barrels per day). Mexico (1.774 million barrels per day), the leading importer, can be considered "friendly" now but there is no guarantee that will be the case after its elections this summer.

At a recent hearing, Representative Joe Barton (R-TX), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, made clear how short-sightedness has crippled America's energy security:

"At over $70 a barrel, the price of crude oil is nearly four times the spot price on the day back in 1995, 11 years ago, when then-President Clinton vetoed drilling in ANWR. They say there are no short-term fixes, I would agree with that, but if we had authorized drilling in ANWR 10 years ago, crude oil prices would not be, in my opinion, over $70-a-barrel today."

It is unfortunate, thanks to a veto by President William J. Clinton, that an important source of energy is not available now when it truly is needed. What should be done? One task is to dispel the myths manufactured by the Green Lobby media machine.

Environmentalists use the shorthand phrase "ANWR" to suggest the entire 19.5 million acre refuge will be developed for energy. Actually the area at issue covers only 1.5 million acres and it is termed the "10-02 Area" in reference to the section of the 1980 legislation expanding ANWR -- the Alaskan National Interest Lands Conservation Act - which designated land for "oil and gas exploration." Only 2,000 acres of the 10-02 Area are to be used for the permanent infrastructure -- the pipelines, oil wells, etc. The10-02 Area is neither a refuge nor wilderness and definitely not scenic despite constant claims to the contrary by the Green Lobby.

The United States Geological Survey has estimated ANWR holds a mean estimate of 10.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil. This would be the equivalent of a "Prudhoe Bay II." Murkowski, testifying on behalf of the National Governors Association on February 10, 2005, told the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

"The Coastal Plain of ANWR has been determined to be the most promising unexplored petroleum province in North America, the only area with the potential to discover an 'elephant' field like Prudhoe Bay. . . . Oil from ANWR represents a secure domestic supply, which could help fulfill US oil demand for twenty-five years or more. Government studies suggest that the Coastal Plain could produce a ten year sustained rate of one million barrels per day."

Environmentalists underplay the availability of oil from ANWR. Development of ANWR, according to a letter signed by conservative leaders and sent to the House and Senate Leadership on March 8, 2006, "would increase proven U.S. crude oil reserves by 50% and [it] is equivalent to approximately a quarter century of current imports from Saudi Arabia."

Getting Congress to pass ANWR involves a Catch 22. The House generally has supported ANWR on a stand-alone vote but generally shuns it when it is folded into a budget resolution. The Senate has not supported ANWR on stand-alone votes but will pass it as part of the budget. ANWR supporters are pleased this stand-alone vote will be held even though it remains to be seen if the Senate will take action. Why? With fuel prices at record highs it will be useful for Americans to know which of their elected representatives want to provide some much-needed relief.

Environmentalists wield clout in both parties, particularly within the Minority Party Caucus. Some Members realize the importance of ANWR as a source of energy. When the House passed the Energy Act of 2005 last spring, which included ANWR, over 40 Democrats bucked the Green Lobby to vote affirmatively. The pressure will be unrelenting. The Sierra Club and Greenpeace, motivated by preservationist policies, will continue arm-twisting Congress to prevent ANWR development.

The Senate is an even tougher arena for ANWR legislation. Obtaining a roll call vote with prices so high still has value. Americans will be able to tell which Senators really want to develop energy sources that represent a true "alternative" to Saudi and Venezuelan oil versus those who only talk the talk.

Myron Ebell, Director of Global Warming and Energy Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, argues that if the Federal Government would allow development of offshore and onshore areas, including ANWR, America could increase our energy supply and lessen our dependence upon foreign sources. Ebell wrote recently on HUMAN EVENTS ONLINE: "Within a few years, an additional million barrels a day could be flowing to West Coast refineries. And if President Clinton hadn't vetoed ANWR legislation in 1995, that oil would be flowing today." ANWR's development can help to lessen our dependence on foreign oil; so also would the careful opening of other protected onshore and offshore sites.

It's ironic that the Green Lobby, so quick and vociferous to protest ANWR, has been relatively mute so far in protesting the proposed offshore drilling by Red China off the Cuban Coast. Why is it the Greens avoid discussing the terrible environmental record amassed by Communist countries? It's worth noting that terrible record has been compounded by Communist failure to provide to their citizens freedom of speech and the right to petition their legislatures. Certainly, the Green Lobby is free to exercise its First Amendment rights in opposition to drilling but let us see if the Greens are willing to discover how dismissive true Communist dictatorships will be to their concerns.

ANWR can mirror the experience with Prudhoe Bay. Dire predictions of environmental disaster advanced by the Green Lobby never came true. Governor Murkowski told the House Energy and Commerce Committee last year that the previous experience of drilling on the North Slope should assuage the worries of disaster resurrected by the Greens. He noted:

"Oil development is compatible with the protection of wildlife and their habitat. . . . North Slope caribou herds have remained healthy throughout previous oil development. In fact, the Central Arctic caribou herd, which is located in and around Prudhoe Bay, has increased 10 fold in the last 20 years."

It's time ordinary Americans start playing hardball with politicians who, through their voting record on issues such as ANWR, effectively sabotage our energy security. If not for the Clinton veto of legislation to open ANWR for exploration we would now be reaping the benefits. Instead our reliance on overseas oil imports remains dangerously high. ANWR is not a total solution to our long-term energy needs but it has an important role in helping us surmount medium-term needs before new alternative energies or harder-to-harvest sources of oil become available.

Getting serious about meeting the energy needs of the United States means getting serious about using the resources of our country. That means developing ANWR. Delaying the use of ANWR means endangering our country's energy security, thereby imperiling our economic security. The sooner politicians understand the American people are wising up to the failure of Congress to develop available sources of domestic oil and gas the better.


Planning Too Far Ahead

Post lifted from David Friedman

"There are engineering questions about the massive storage repository proposed for the Nevada desert. Certainty about its ability to keep groundwater supplies safe falls off after about 10,000 years-while the facility needs to function as planned for several hundred thousands of years."

The quote is from an interesting article on global warming and ways of dealing with it in the latest issue of Harvard Magazine. The context is a discussion of problems in storing nuclear waste as one limit to increases in the role of nuclear power.

To me, at least, the idea of worrying about effects more than ten thousand years out is so absurd as to be marginally sane. Nobody alive knows whether our species will still exist in ten thousand years, if it exists if most humans will still live on earth, or if we still live on earth what sort of society, economy and technology we will have. If things do continue more or less along current lines-not, in my view, very likely-ten thousand years of economic growth would give us a society for which a little radioactivity in Nevada groundwater would be a trivial problem. If we assume a 1% annual rate of growth in per capita real income, it takes only about 2300 years to bring the income of the average individual up to the current income of the world.

Worrying about problems ten thousand years out is particularly odd given that nuclear power is being discussed as a way of limiting global warming. Elsewhere in the article, in the context of a time horizon of 100 to 500 years, another source suggests the possibility of sea level rises of over 200 feet. I am reluctant to trust extrapolations that far out as well-but compared to 10,000 years, a hundred years is practically as close as next Thursday. And drowning areas containing a considerable fraction of the population of the globe would be a slightly more serious problem than contamination of the Nevada water table.


A reader writes:

"Nuclear waste is NOT trash. High-level nuclear "waste" is composed of very rare heavy metals with unique material properties. We are not disposing nuclear waste but storing a valuable commodity for future exploitation. Materials science will find uses and applications for the heavy metals that can't even be conceived of today.

I don't believe even 1 in 100 people are aware of this viewpoint. Considering the media never mentions this viewpoint that is no suprise. The media prefers sticking to the alarmist script.


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 May, 2006


Canada changing course

Goodbye Kyoto, hello Asia-Pacific Partnership. They sound alike, charmingly Oriental you might say. But in fact there is a world of difference between the two climate schemes. The Kyoto Protocol is the UN-led initiative designed to reduce man-made greenhouse gases to below their 1990 levels. It has been ratified by 163 nations but only 39 of the most developed countries are currently obliged to cut their emissions by 2012. Canada was one of the prime movers of Kyoto early on. But the new Conservative government says we will never meet our 2012 target (we are apparently almost 35 per cent over at the moment).

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Australian counterpart John Howard show up in the same limo for a press conference in Ottawa. The leaders of two big energy-producing countries, neither has much time for the Kyoto climate accord, but both see nuclear as being the big energy option of the future. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press) And Ottawa appears to want to join the new Australian-inspired, U.S.-led group called the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, also known as the AP6 or, to its critics, Kyoto Lite.

The Harper government approached Washington about becoming a member of the AP6, the U.S. chief climate change negotiator acknowledged the other day. And the prime minister has been talking with his Australian counterpart John Howard, who has been on a three-day visit to Ottawa, reportedly trying to get Australia's backing as well.

At a press conference, Stephen Harper called the Asia-Pacific Partnership "the kind of initiative the world needs" and went on to say that effective climate policies must include the world's largest emitters, by which he was presumably referring to such AP6 nations as China, India, and the U.S. who are not facing Kyoto reduction targets.

The first part of that statement may well be true. But the second part is more problematic. It is often overlooked, but China and India are in fact Kyoto signatories (the U.S. and Australia bowed out for their own reasons). It is just that, as developing nations they were given a by for the first round of reductions.

And it is this aspect of the new AP6 pact - and Canada's interest in it - that has environmentalists and many European nations so worked up: They say if wealthy countries like Canada won't keep to their reduction commitments, and are also trying to lessen their load for the post-2012 period, how will the world convince countries like China and India, who are still crying poor, to shoulder their burden in 2012 as well?

The new kid on the block

In any event, the AP6 is an intriguing concept, even if it's not everyone's cup of tea. Composed of six countries - the U.S., China, India, Australia, South Korea and Japan - the group was conceived just a year ago, had its first working meeting in April and, on the surface at least, expounds a rather noble purpose: To help the developing economies of China and India in particular make their great industrial leap forward by using the best, most environmentally sound technologies the world can offer. The fact that the U.S., China and India are among the top producers of climate-warming greenhouse gases on the planet gives their cause a bit of urgency.

The U.S. and China rank one and two, while the group itself accounts for over one-half of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. Australia has been the world's biggest per capita emitter for several years and Canada is right up there as well though our emissions are something in the order of two per cent of the world's total.

Kyoto Lite?

Most environmentalists, however, are not impressed. As a technique for controlling greenhouse gas emissions, the AP6 sets no emission targets, mandates no deadlines and therefore does nothing to create incentives for companies to control emissions and sell surplus quotas.

Even some prominent Republicans, looking at the meagre $57 million US Washington has allotted this project, have called it a largely PR exercise, a face-saver for countries like the U.S. and Australia that chose not to ratify Kyoto and are now facing international heat. Australia, mind you, has said all along it intends to meet what would have been its Kyoto target; it just wasn't prepared to do that formally.

Still, the AP6 is starting to gain momentum. British Prime Minister Tony Blair, though an ardent Kyoto supporter, has voiced his approval. One selling point is the AP6 theory, based on computer modelling, that if China and India were to adopt current best practice techniques for all new power plants, that would reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 per cent.

Against this can be put more recent computer modelling by The Climate Institute of Australia. It just reported that, even with the most ambitious assumptions under AP6, the best case scenario would see global greenhouse emissions more than double by 2050.

Still, a handful of countries have been sniffing around this new partnership, according to news reports. And prominent business groups in Europe and Southeast Asia have been talking up its potential. So the jury is still out. Is it simply PR for the Kyoto-bashers? Or real enviro-politik for the developing world?

The coal pact

That is the other nickname for the AP6 and when you look at the economics of the world's cheapest, most abundant and arguably most polluting energy source - king coal - it is not hard to see why.

China is the world's biggest coal user, for its generating plants and its steel mills. And though it has plenty of its own reserves, its mines are backward and dangerous and, at its current rate of growth, forecasters predict it will need to import much more in coming years.

What's more, the four Asian members of the AP6 account for over half the world's steel production. Steel needs coal, both for electricity and the coking process. And Australia, which reportedly hatched this AP6 idea in the first place, and the U.S. are both big coal exporters looking to expand in the Asian and Indian markets.

It's not hard to connect the dots here. Nor is it difficult to see the attraction in joining the AP6 for someone like Stephen Harper especially. Australia's biggest competitor in Asian steel markets is Alberta-based Fording Coal, the CPR spin off (annual revenues $2.1 billion) that mines one of the purest and hardest metallurgical coals in the world. Joining AP6 gets Canada in on the ground in one of the niftiest buyer-meets-seller-meets-hi-tech-enviro marketplaces for coal extraction, power plant development, steel and aluminum mill construction and cement kilns for the fastest growing economies around. It also allows Harper to showcase - and this is long overdue - the fact that Alberta is in fact one of the more innovative places in the world when it comes to curtailing greenhouse gas pollution and burning what is now being called "clean coal."

In fact, Alberta's Genesee 3 power plant is one of the cleanest in the world and one of the province's biggest greenhouse gas innovators is former EnCana chief Gwyn Morgan, the man who was supposed to have become Harper's new $1 a year guy in Ottawa if only the opposition parties hadn't intervened.

Clean coal?

This is an idea whose time may have come. Even some prominent environmentalists who can't stomach the nuclear option (something Harper and Australia's Howard are also keen to promote) are urging clean coal technologies on a reluctant Ontario government to help with its electricity problems.

Still, clean coal is a concept that has to be taken with a grain of salt. Scientists, particularly in the U.S. where coal production is a big political consideration (read massive Washington investment), have come up with intriguing new ways to cut methane gases (a mine as well as atmospheric hazard), as well as capture CO2, mercury, sulphur oxide and nitrous oxides (these last two acid rain formers) before they are released into the environment.

The problem, though, especially for CO2, the largest and most ubiquitous of the greenhouse gases, is what to do with it once it's caught. It is still a gas. Technically it can be stored in containers or underground caverns. Norway has been injecting about a million tonnes a year of CO2 under the North Sea.

One of the neatest solutions, which EnCana was a big proponent of, is to pump it back into old oil beds deep underground, a process called geosequestration, to help push remaining oil deposits to the surface. But this is really only economically viable if the coal-fired generating plants are within a reasonably short pipeline distance from the oil fields. In other words, only in Western Canada and even then it seems only in exceptional circumstances.

Carrots or sticks?

At this point there are many creative ideas but no truly viable way of stripping the more substantive greenhouse gases from coal, or natural gas for that matter, and storing them easily for any length of time.

The Kyoto approach is to saddle countries with mandatory emission targets, which will force them to apportion these in turn among their major polluters. (Not an easy thing. And in Canada that means picking on Alberta a bit because its energy sector is one of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters.)

These industries then have the choice of paying a penalty if they miss their targets, or buying the latest (geosequestration?) technology even if it is something that only adds to their costs.

AP6 wants to be more carrot than stick. Its market-driven proponents seem to feel that China and India in particular will want to use their new economic wealth to buy the latest climate-friendly technology from the West at the same time as they are loading up on boatloads of so-called clean coal.

And maybe they will. Maybe they will see the advantage in staying ahead of the technological curve and avoiding the respiratory and other health costs associated with too much short-sighted growth.

From Canada's point of view, it must be very tempting to join AP6 and be a potential seller of all this high-end environmental technology that we have been experimenting with for many years now. But at some point we are going to have to do our bit and start implementing a lot more of it ourselves.

CBC News Online, 19 May 2006

Australian study: Banning plastic bags 'no real use'

It is believed to be one of the simplest ways people can help the environment, but scrapping the plastic shopping bag might not be worth the effort. The Federal Government's economic advisory body has recommended ditching plans to wipe out more than five billion plastic bags a year, saying the costs may outweigh the benefits.

The plan is supposed to save marine wildlife and reduce litter, but the Productivity Commission argues that not only is the plastic bag not a serious threat to wildlife, but governments have not taken into account the food-safety benefits of plastic bags or their typical re-use as liners for the garbage bin. Instead, the commission argues that tougher anti-litter laws or harsher fines might be a better way of addressing litter.

The plans to rid Australia of plastic bags within two years may already be in trouble. The supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles have failed to meet a 50 per cent reduction target by the end of last year. In the report on waste, due for release today, the commission will find there has been no cost-benefit analysis of a decision taken last July by state, territory and federal governments to phase out high-density polyethylene plastic bags by 2009. It finds the key expected benefits of getting rid of the plastic bag - the reduction in harm to marine wildlife through ingestion or entanglement in litter - is partially nonsense.

"Plastic bags are a highly visible and long-lasting form of litter because they can easily become airborne, are moisture resistant, and take many years to decompose," it says. But it says the extent of harm to Australia's marine wildlife is far from certain, saying the figure in use of 100,000 marine animals killed a year was based on a Canadian study done over four years in the early 1980s. It quotes Australian government research estimating that less than 1 per cent of plastic bags become litter, and that they account for only 2 per cent of litter by number.

Instead, the commission argues plastic bags may actually assist environmental impacts in landfill because of their "stabilising qualities, leachate minimisation and minimising (of) greenhouse gas emissions". As well, they provide "an important task in product and food safety, keeping uncooked meat or cleaning products separate from other foods".

The commission cites research showing that up to 75 per cent of householders re-use plastic bags as garbage bin liners or carry bags. It finds there has been no cost-benefit analysis of the impacts of banning the bags. "It is clear there would be costs that might well outweigh the claimed benefits associated with banning HDPE shopping bags, and such a ban would only address problems associated with the less than 1 per cent of plastic bags that become litter," it finds. The report recommends governments do not proceed with the plan unless they conduct a cost-benefit analysis.

Sydney beauty therapist Lesley Greenwell said she was concerned about the damage her plastic shopping bags might do to the environment, but said this did not stop her ploughing through about 10 a week. Since the 1990s, when plastic bags became an international environmental issue, Ms Greenwell said she had been trying to cut down on the number she threw away. "I do re-use bags, for rubbish or whatever I can around the home," the 27-year-old said. Ms Greenwell said she was relieved to hear about the Productivity Commission's report as it removed some of the guilt surrounding the use of plastic bags.

Planet Ark managing director Jon Dee said major supermarkets had failed to meet their goal of slashing 50 per cent of bags by the end of last year. They had only managed to reduce their use by 45 per cent, although he said the bigger problem was that non-supermarket retailers now give away 55 per cent of plastic bags.



So here we are at Chelsea in the middle of a drought, where the rain flumes off the tents and the hats and the noses and the broad-leaved gunnera. People walk past the "drought- tolerant" gardens and laugh. People walk past the Wetlands garden and laugh. The modish "New Zealand" garden sends rivulets of black volcanic New Zealand mud out into the walkways. All of Chelsea is a water feature this year.

Of course, as Chelsea is like a Posh Glastonbury - the British united at an outdoor event; one where getting steamed from midday onwards is mandatory and the rain by no means ruins things. The gardeners look jolly pleased they won't have to spend all evening mucking about with watering cans. The old money - the ones who look like they parked their horses outside, or maybe rode here on their gigantic sit-on lawn-mowers - just splay their legs a little further apart, and laugh their posh, happy laughs ("HAR! HAR!") a little louder. The new money, however, seems to have Chelsea confused with Ascot and, fearing for their floral hats and linen coats, run for the Grand Pavilion, to skulk among the displays of iris and cabbage.

More here


Three recent articles below

P.M. calls for debate on uranium

Australia and Canada will consider establishing a "uranium OPEC", using their domination of the global market to influence the spread of nuclear power. The uranium producers group would protect the interests of the two nations, which account for 52 per cent of ore production and 43 per cent of reserves.

Prime Minister John Howard also toughened his language on nuclear power in Australia. He indicated he believed nuclear-fuelled electricity stations were inevitable. "The scene on nuclear energy is going to change significantly in our country," he said. "The pressure for change is driven in part by environmental considerations, it's driven in part by the soaring price of fuel, it's driven in part by a realisation that confronting the problem of high energy pricing is one of the big economic challenges of nations such as Canada and Australia. "I want a full-blooded debate in Australia about this issue and I want all of the options on the table."

In Washington earlier this week, Mr Howard took a softer line, saying "I don't think there is a compelling economic case" for nuclear power in Australia.

Mr Howard ended a two-day visit to Ottawa, that included an address to Parliament and talks with Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The Prime Ministers agreed to direct officials to work out the structure of a uranium producers group. It would complement the US proposal for a Global Nuclear Energy Partnership of the big nuclear power users.

Mr Howard said the US proposal had implications for Australia and Canada, who must work to ensure it did not affect "our own interests or the legitimate exploitation of uranium reserves". Mr Harper said Australia and Canada would work "very closely together" to see their interests were protected. The Canadians supported Australia sending a 25-member reconstruction team to Afghanistan, where 2300 Canadian troops are operating. Mr Harper said it was not too early to make reconstruction committments, despite the increasing violence from Taliban attacks.

The above article appeared in the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" on May, 21, 2006

Experts to put nuclear power in spotlight

The viability of a domestic nuclear power industry would be scrutinised by experts set up to advise the Federal Government, the Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop, said yesterday. But Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane tried to hose down hopes that nuclear power could be the answer to soaring fuel costs and climate change. He said its massive cost meant that it would not be a viable alternative to coal-fired power for at least 15 years.

Australian Workers Union national secretary Bill Shorten, tipped by some to become the next Labor Party leader, accused Prime Minister John Howard of pushing the issue simply to exploit divisions in the Labor Party. Labor was not interested in "running a debate" on nuclear power in Australia, he said. Mr Shorten told Channel Nine's Sunday program that Mr Howard would drop the nuclear power issue as soon as he realised the public was still not comfortable with the idea. But he appeared open to overturning Labor's "three mines policy", which opposes the opening of new uranium mines, describing the capping of mine numbers as akin to being "half-pregnant". He declared himself "very interested" in the views of Labor resources spokesman Martin Ferguson, who has called for the "three mines policy" to be scrapped.

The Northern Territory's Minister for Mines and Energy, Kon Vatskalis, slammed the proposal for a debate on nuclear power. According to ABC Online, he said Australia had nowhere near the infrastructure required to support uranium enrichment.

But Mr Macfarlane said the public's view had moved on significantly in recent years. He said he would have to rethink a proposal for a report into nuclear power which he and former education minister Brendan Nelson put to the Prime Minister more than a year ago, and which the Prime Minister is expected to approve. "What we're going to have to look at is how we get some national debate going on nuclear energy," Mr Macfarlane said. But even if the public backed nuclear energy, it would still be at least 2020 before it became a viable alternative because it could not compete with the price of coal, he said. "At the moment we generate from coal from around $30 a megawatt hour. Nuclear energy is probably $60 plus," he said. Finance Minister Nick Minchin and Foreign Minister Alexander Downer have also raised the high cost of nuclear energy as a potential obstacle.

A spokesman for Ms Bishop said she was optimistic about the potential for a nuclear power industry in Australia. The spokesman said she was working on setting up a panel of experts to put together the evidence for the feasibility of a nuclear power industry.

But Labor's spokesman on arts and reconciliation, Peter Garrett, accused Mr Howard of calling for a debate when he had already made up his mind in favour of a domestic nuclear industry. Mr Howard lacked the imagination or environmental knowledge to recognise there were better alternatives, he said. Mr Garrett said some countries were using nuclear power as "a short-term bridge" to alternative energy, but that was something Australia did not need.


The Australian Left is being nuked

The report below is all the more amusing for being largely correct. The Left of the Labor party have horrors at anything nuclear while the more pragmatic majority are much less religious about it all. And by putting the matter up for serious debate, John Howard is putting the two factions at one another's throats. The report below of remarks by Peter Garrett is a cry of pain about that. It is also quite true that the Australian government is reducing its support for Greenie nuttiness -- which pains aging rock-star Garrett. The "fat boy" in the cartoon below is Kim Beazley, the overweight Federal Parliamentary leader of the Labor Party. The hairless one is Mr Garrett

Prime Minister John Howard is creating a false nuclear debate to deflect attention from a lack of action on climate change, Labor frontbencher Peter Garrett says. Mr Howard is flagging a full-scale nuclear debate when he returns from an overseas trip later this week, as momentum builds within his own party to develop nuclear power and uranium enrichment programs. Mr Garrett, a one-time Senate candidate for the Nuclear Disarmament Party, said the prime minister had left the United States a "born-again nuclear warrior".

The nuclear debate was a false one, he said. "The prime minister's creating one his great false debates, flying kites, making mischief, and covering up for the fact that he's done absolutely zip on climate change - nothing in the budget for it," Mr Garrett told ABC radio. "(He) abolishes the Australian Greenhouse Office. We've seen half a billion dollars worth of investment in wind farms and alternative technologies go overseas because of this government's lack of action. "The prime minister comes back from America as a nukes enthusiast, but he's just clouding the debate and covering his own deficiencies."

Mr Garrett said he was also concerned about senior government ministers, including Alexander Downer and Ian Macfarlane, flagging a uranium enrichment program for Australia. "I'm astonished that the government wants to push ahead with enrichment given the huge issues around safety, around proliferation, the sort of debates that we're seeing in the Middle East about rogue states. "But more importantly, why isn't this government investing in technologies that are good for the country?"

After 40 years with nuclear power, the US had not yet dealt with its own waste, Mr Garrett said. "They still haven't, after 40 years, got a successfully approved radioactive waste safe repository." The nuclear debate was a farce, he said. "It's more than hypocritical, it's a farce for the prime minister to come back from America and suddenly become born-again for nukes." Mr Garrett said his personal conviction that nuclear power was the wrong way to go was even greater now than when he was a member of the Nuclear Disarmament Party.

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.


23 May, 2006

A New Theory to Explain the Frog Declines??

Rampant dishonesty about frog populations

Scientists around the world are worried about frogs. Many frog populations are in decline, and we don't know why. We've found some small clues: something called the ranovirus is hampering efforts to restore leopard frog populations in Alberta, Canada, where they were once abundant. The chytrid fungus, which has caused frog die-offs in Australia, Africa, and Central America, has also been found in the United States.

Some false leads have also been run down. When Minnesota school kids found deformed frogs in some local ponds, the finger of accusation was pointed at pesticides. Now, the deformities have been traced to a natural parasite, the trematode, which burrows into the just-forming leg joints of tadpoles.

The absence of yellow-legged frogs in some California mountain lakes had been blamed on pesticide-laden dust rising from the intensively farmed San Joaquin Valley. However, when the fish management teams stopped stocking the mountain lakes with hungry trout, the frogs returned in large numbers.

Pesticides are still a favorite bogyman of concerned frog lovers on Internet blogs, however, and there's no shortage of funding--or publicity--or researchers blaming frog declines on farm chemicals. Guilt is a powerful human motivator, and we love to flog ourselves over the ways in which the modern world feeds itself. That may explain the latest in a long string of publications by Tyrone Hayes from the University of California/Berkeley. Hayes' article in Environmental Health Perspectives, April, 2006, is titled: "Pesticide Mixtures, Endocrine Disruption, and Amphibian Declines: Are We Underestimating the Impact?

Hayes tested Boston-pedigree frogs with the extremely low-concentration mix of nine pesticides (each at only 0.1 part per billion) that they might encounter in midwestern farming areas. He says in the abstract of the paper that frogs exposed to his dilute pesticide cocktail took longer to metamorphose to adults (by about two weeks), but "most significantly" that frog larvae "that took longer to metamorphose were smaller than their counterparts that metamorphosed earlier." That sounds ominous. Hayes suggests this could be a big factor in frog declines. Hayes' previous ominous suggestions have been enough to get him interviewed on National Public Radio, filmed by the BBC, quoted by the New York Times, and featured in the Los Angeles Times.

In the body of this paper, however, Hayes reveals that the relationship between the time to complete metamorphosis and the frogs' size at emergence was either not statistically significant (when measured by length) or only barely so (weight)! It gets worse. Hayes has no real-world evidence for any breeding-related conclusions. Why not? Neither he nor anyone else has ever solved the mystery of getting frogs to reproduce in a laboratory without injecting them with artificial hormones that would automatically ruin Hayes' hormone-centered experiments.

Worst of all for Hayes' argument: He found frogs "present by the thousands" in 2001 in a drainage ditch between two irrigated cornfields in York County, Nebraska. That's where he also found the pesticide mixture he says causes problems. Hayes then shows a photo of the same ditch two years later, after the farmer stopped planting corn and therefore stopped irrigating the field--"causing 100 percent failure of the [frog] population at this site."

Hmm. Hayes says exposing Boston-pedigree frogs to a super-low concentration of nine pesticides in a lab delays their development and might make them smaller, all of which might add up to population crash in the real world. But the real-world Nebraska frogs thrived in the pesticide-tinged irrigation ditch until the farmer cut off the water. Meanwhile, frogs have been disappearing in lots of remote places where no pesticides are used. Do we need a new theory on frog declines?



By David R. Legates, Ph.D., C.C.M. (Dr. Legates is the Delaware State Climatologist, among other distinctions)

Executive Summary

Scientific debate continues regarding the extent to which human activities contribute to global warming and what the potential impact on the environment might be. Importantly, much of the scientific evidence contradicts assertions that substantial global warming is likely to occur soon and that the predicted warming will harm the Earth's biosphere.

The Earth's climate began a warming trend after the "Little Ice Age" ended in the mid-1800s, long before global industrial development led to substantial increases in greenhouse gases beginning in the middle of the 20th century. About half of the warming during the 20th century occurred prior to the 1940s, and natural variability accounts for all or nearly all of the warming.

To assess future climate trends, climatologists rely upon General Circulation Models (GCMs) that attempt to describe Earth's climate. The many climate models in use vary widely with respect to the variables they include and in the assumptions they make about how those variables interact. Yet some official reports, including the U.S. National Assessment published in 2000, report only the most extreme predictions, ignoring others that project only moderate warming in the 21st century.

Global warming alarmists have attributed increases in hurricanes, floods, droughts, tornadoes, hail storms and heat waves to global warming caused by human activities. However, the evidence does not support their claims. In recent months, for instance:

The unprecedented destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was blamed on climate change - but experts say recent, more powerful storms are part of a natural cycle, and greater hurricane damage in North America is due to increased coastal populations and development rather than more severe storms.

Similar claims have been made about other weather phenomena in North America ; but, in fact, there is no evidence of an increase in the frequency or severity of floods, droughts, tropical cyclones, tornadoes, hail storms or other severe weather events.

Some have attempted to link the present warming trend to secondary effects, such as species extinction. However, the relationship between species extinction and climate change is even more tenuous. For example:

Recent claims that polar bear populations are threatened by global warming ignore the fact that only two polar bear populations are declining, others are increasing in numbers and the majority have stable populations.

Recent claims that coral reefs are "bleaching" (losing color and dying off) due to warming oceans ignore the evidence that bleaching appears to be a healthy response in which corals expel one symbiotic species of algae for a better-adapted species that allows corals to thrive in warmer waters.

It has also been claimed that low-lying coastal areas are endangered due to rises in sea level as the Arctic pack ice, glaciers and the mile-thick Greenland Ice Sheet melt in a warming climate. However, the evidence does not show this is occurring:

* The fact that parts of the Arctic Ocean are ice-free in the summer is said to be evidence that sea ice and the pack ice along the Arctic coast are disappearing; but changing wind patterns pushing the ice around, not rising temperatures, are responsible for navigable Arctic waters.

* In Alaska, home to many glaciers, several decades of increasingly colder temperatures in the middle of the 20th century preceded a more recent return to the average temperatures of the early 20th century.

* Temperatures at the peak of the Greenland Ice Sheet show it is actually growing colder.

* Sea levels have been rising - in fact, they have been rising since the end of the last ice age 20,000 years ago - but there is no evidence of an accelerating trend.

The complexity of the climate and the limitations of data and computer models mean projections of future climate change are unreliable at best. In sum, the science does not support claims of drastic increases in global temperatures over the 21st century, nor does it support claims of human influence on weather events and other secondary effects of climate change.



It was five years before the turn of the century and major media were warning of disastrous climate change. Page six of The New York Times was headlined with the serious concerns of "geologists." Only the president at the time wasn't Bill Clinton; it was Grover Cleveland. And the Times wasn't warning about global warming - it was telling readers the looming dangers of a new ice age. The year was 1895, and it was just one of four different time periods in the last 100 years when major print media predicted an impending climate crisis. Each prediction carried its own elements of doom, saying Canada could be "wiped out" or lower crop yields would mean "billions will die."

Just as the weather has changed over time, so has the reporting - blowing hot or cold with short-term changes in temperature. Following the ice age threats from the late 1800s, fears of an imminent and icy catastrophe were compounded in the 1920s by Arctic explorer Donald MacMillan and an obsession with the news of his polar expedition. As the Times put it on Feb. 24, 1895, "Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again."

Those concerns lasted well into the late 1920s. But when the earth's surface warmed less than half a degree, newspapers and magazines responded with stories about the new threat. Once again the Times was out in front, cautioning "the earth is steadily growing warmer."

After a while, that second phase of climate cautions began to fade. By 1954, Fortune magazine was warming to another cooling trend and ran an article titled "Climate - the Heat May Be Off." As the United States and the old Soviet Union faced off, the media joined them with reports of a more dangerous Cold War of Man vs. Nature. The New York Times ran warming stories into the late 1950s, but it too came around to the new fears. Just three decades ago, in 1975, the paper reported: "A Major Cooling Widely Considered to Be Inevitable."

That trend, too, cooled off and was replaced by the current era of reporting on the dangers of global warming. Just six years later, on Aug. 22, 1981, the Times quoted seven government atmospheric scientists who predicted global warming of an "almost unprecedented magnitude."

In all, the print news media have warned of four separate climate changes in slightly more than 100 years - global cooling, warming, cooling again, and, perhaps not so finally, warming. Some current warming stories combine the concepts and claim the next ice age will be triggered by rising temperatures - the theme of the 2004 movie "The Day After Tomorrow."

Recent global warming reports have continued that trend, morphing into a hybrid of both theories. News media that once touted the threat of "global warming" have moved on to the more flexible term "climate change." As the Times described it, climate change can mean any major shift, making the earth cooler or warmer. In a March 30, 2006, piece on ExxonMobil's approach to the environment, a reporter argued the firm's chairman "has gone out of his way to soften Exxon's public stance on climate change." The effect of the idea of "climate change" means that any major climate event can be blamed on global warming, supposedly driven by mankind.

Spring 2006 has been swamped with climate change hype in every type of media - books, newspapers, magazines, online, TV and even movies. One-time presidential candidate Al Gore, a patron saint of the environmental movement, is releasing "An Inconvenient Truth" in book and movie form, warning, "Our ability to live is what is at stake."

Despite all the historical shifting from one position to another, many in the media no longer welcome opposing views on the climate. CBS reporter Scott Pelley went so far as to compare climate change skeptics with Holocaust deniers. "If I do an interview with [Holocaust survivor] Elie Wiesel," Pelley asked, "am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?" he said in an interview on March 23 with CBS News's PublicEye blog. He added that the whole idea of impartial journalism just didn't work for climate stories. "There becomes a point in journalism where striving for balance becomes irresponsible," he said.

Pelley's comments ignored an essential point: that 30 years ago, the media were certain about the prospect of a new ice age. And that is only the most recent example of how much journalists have changed their minds on this essential debate. Some in the media would probably argue that they merely report what scientists tell them, but that would be only half true. Journalists decide not only what they cover; they also decide whether to include opposing viewpoints. That's a balance lacking in the current "debate." This isn't a question of science. It's a question of whether Americans can trust what the media tell them about science.

Business and Media Institute, May 2006

The expensive legacy of Greenie correctness in Queensland, Australia

Greenies set up such a howl whenever a dam is proposed that few politicians have been game to risk it. Now vastly more costly private water storage is needed

Rainwater tanks would be mandatory in new Queensland homes and households would be offered cash rebates to be water wise, under a plan by the State Opposition. A coalition government would also fast-track $500 million in southeast Queensland water infrastructure, including dams, as part of a plan to tackle the state's growing water crisis. Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg today plans to detail his party's water policy, which will include a $100 million kitty to fund "green rebates" for Queenslanders who install tanks and other water-friendly devices in their homes.

A cornerstone of the policy is the requirement for rainwater tanks to be installed in all new homes built where there is a reticulated water supply. "It will take the pressure off the supplies and people will become a little more self-sufficient. It's a commonsense way of being able to get more water quickly," he said. "It will take years to build dams . . . but one of the ways you can actually start conserving water is to catch what's falling off people's roofs." Mr Springborg said the proposal could save billions of litres and would be rolled out first in southeast Queensland.

Rebates would also be offered to Queenslanders who purchased other water-saving devices such as AAA-rated showerheads, water-efficient washing machines, swimming pool covers, dual-flush toilets and water flow regulators. The Opposition estimates the installation of these devices as part of the rebate scheme could save more than 150,000 litres of water each year. Mr Springborg said it was essential to implement short-term water-saving policies while longer-term projects such as dams would take time being built. "We know that we need dams . . . but we're still looking at five years down the track and we've got a water crisis that's going to be hitting in a few months," he said.

Today's policy will be the first major infrastructure announcement by the Coalition and is expected to detail significant water projects. The $500 million in water infrastructure is likely to include dam sites other than those already flagged by the Beattie Labor Government on the Mary River at Traveston and near Rathdowney. The Opposition has already promised it will fast-track construction of the Wyaralong Dam, between Boonah and Jimboomba, southwest of Brisbane. It is expected to build on the $1 billion in dams planned by the previous Coalition Government eight years ago, but has confirmed it could not resurrect the Wolffdene dam.



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 May, 2006


The crusade to fight global warming with tough reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions has entered its war-room phase. Already we are seeing the fruits of a multi-million dollar PR campaign: lavish cover stories in Time magazine ("Be Worried, Be Very Worried"), Vanity Fair, and Wired; multiple global-warming scare specials on PBS, HBO, and the network news; and, finally, the imminent release of Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Soon the Ad Council will begin airing TV spots pulling on the usual heartstrings: We have to stop global warming for the children! One of these ads--featuring a montage of kids counting down "tick, tick, tick"--is reminiscent of the infamous 1964 anti-Goldwater ad.

Unfortunately, the green warriors substitute propaganda for persuasion, insist that there is no debate about the science of climate change, and demonize any scientist who dares dissent from their views. They advocate putting the U.S. and the world on an energy starvation diet, to the exclusion of a wider and more moderate range of precautions that might be taken against global warming.

Underlying this effort is a sense of panic over two things: the collapse of the Kyoto Protocol, and frequent polls showing that Americans aren't buying into global-warming alarmism. The latest Gallup poll on environmental issues found that only 36 percent of Americans say they "worry a great deal about global warming"--a number that has hardly budged in years. Global warming, Gallup's environmental-opinion analyst Riley Dunlap wrote, puts people to sleep. Even among those who tell pollsters that the environment is their main public-policy concern (who are usually less than 5 percent of all Americans), global warming ranks lower than air and water quality, toxic waste, and land conservation.

There is no conspiracy behind the global-warming-awareness campaign; in fact, the environment lobby is quite open about what it's up to. The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies recently published a plan to elevate climate change to the top tier of the political agenda. This report, Americans and Climate Change, grew out of a summit meeting of environmental leaders held last year in--naturally--Aspen. It lists 39 recommendations for raising the percentage of the public that is alarmed by global warming from the anemic mid-30s to over 50 percent. Tactics include everything from manipulating public-school curricula to reaching out to NASCAR's fan base to seizing events like Hurricane Katrina as "teachable moments."

The Yale report also does us the favor of making its authors' desire to politicize climate change explicit. One faction of environmentalists openly argues that "the only way to proceed is to exercise raw political power, wake up the public about the urgent nature of the issue, create a major public demand for action comparable to that which stimulated major environmental legislation in the 1970s, pursue outright victory at the polls." In other words, we need to boot out those evil Republicans.

Game Over, They Say

This campaign intimidates the public and would-be dissenters with its unrelenting line that the science of global warming is settled, full stop. (Time swallowed it whole: "The debate is over. Global warming is upon us--with a vengeance. From floods to fires, droughts to storms, the climate is crashing.") The "consensus" that human activities are playing a role in the earth's so-far mild warming trend is misrepresented as agreement that we are headed toward catastrophic results that can be prevented only by immediate and drastic action.

In fact, many scientists don't believe the catastrophe scenarios. But those who dissent from the politicization of climate science face withering ad hominem attacks. For example, the National Environmental Trust and Vanity Fair attacked Frederick Seitz, the 94-year-old former president of the National Academy of Sciences, for supposedly taking money from R. J. Reynolds while he was president of Rockefeller University to deny the health effects of smoking. In fact, the money went into a medical-research project unrelated to tobacco that led to a Nobel Prize in medicine. The climate-action caucus clearly feels no shame about employing smear tactics. One might even go so far as to accuse it of scientific McCarthyism.

But try as it might, this caucus cannot change two facts that have been evident since climate change first came to the fore in the late 1980s. First, even though the leading scientific journals are thoroughly imbued with environmental correctness and reject out of hand many articles that don't conform to the party line, a study that confounds the conventional wisdom is published almost every week. Sometimes these studies even find their way into Science and Nature. Most recently, the April 20 issue of Nature carried a study that casts serious doubt on the high-temperature forecasts of computer climate models. And last fall, Science published a study finding that the Greenland ice sheet, whose perimeter melting is presented as a sign of imminent sea-level rise (never mind that the Vikings observed similar melting 1,000 years ago), is gaining ice mass in the interior. (The oddest aspect of the Greenland story is that average temperatures in southern Greenland appear to have fallen during the 20th century; ice-mass changes probably have more to do with regular variation in Atlantic ocean currents--a natural phenomenon known as Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation.) The media tend to ignore such research while giving disproportionate coverage to the latest news about melting glaciers or expiring frogs.

Climate alarm is likely to get a fresh infusion of "authoritative" science next year when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issues its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4). Early indications are that AR4 will remove its upper-bound estimate of potential warming at the end of this century (currently 5.8 degrees Celsius), assuring a fresh round of media headlines that the situation is worse than we thought. Yet the computer climate models remain plagued with weaknesses and biases--from the doubtful emissions forecasts that go into the front end, to assumptions about the linearity of the relationship between greenhouse gases and temperature that affect the results. As MIT climatologist Richard Lindzen argues, the computer models overestimate the sensitivity of climate to greenhouse gases and don't adequately account for "negative forcings" (the technical term for natural processes that mitigate potential temperature increases). It is likely, in Lindzen's judgment, that we have already reached the threshold of diminishing "positive forcings" (that is, increases in temperature) from additional greenhouse-gas emissions.

Most of the computer models predict temperature increases of two to three degrees Celsius by the year 2100, which, while not an "end of civilization as we know it" catastrophe, could cause significant problems for the planet. Even discounting for the biases in the models, these predictions still raise questions about what precautions are appropriate to take against a low-probability event with potentially serious consequences. This leads to the second difficulty for the climate-change crusade: There are alternatives to its insistence that the only appropriate policy response is steep and immediate emissions reductions (on the order of 60 percent). Kyoto's 8 percent reduction target is modest by comparison, but no nation is honestly meeting it. (Britain met its 2000 target as an unintended consequence of Margaret Thatcher's decision 20 years ago to smash the coal miners' union and move the nation to natural gas. But even with this wind in its sails, Britain is seeing its greenhouse-gas emissions start to rise again.) The energy technologies to achieve a 60 percent reduction in emissions while meeting the world's energy needs simply do not exist.

Environmentalists were against fossil fuels long before climate change rose to prominence, and this monomania is evident in their continued opposition to nuclear power, the only technology that can generate large amounts of energy without emitting greenhouse gases. (In a recent C-SPAN appearance with me, the legislative director of the League of Conservation Voters said that nuclear power had no role to play in mitigating climate change.) Instead, environmentalists advocate a supposedly market-friendly "cap and trade" program. Such a program would impose downwardly ratcheting emissions caps; but instead of creating thousands of detailed Clean Air Act-style regulations, it would grant "emissions permits" to companies, which would be able to trade these permits among each other. If one company's emissions were lower than the allowed amount, it could trade or sell its "leftover" allotment to a second company, which could add that amount to its own emissions allotment. The idea of such trading is to let the market guide emissions reductions to the companies able to undertake them most efficiently.

"Cap and trade" is thought to have been a great success in reducing sulfur-dioxide emissions at low cost. But there is a world of difference between sulfur dioxide and greenhouse gases. For a variety of reasons, curbs on sulfur dioxide did not impose any constraint on net energy production, whereas a greenhouse-gas-emissions cap ultimately would constrain energy production.

A Commonsense and Workable Plan

A sensible climate policy would emphasize building resilience into our capacity to adapt to climate changes--whether cooling or warming; whether wholly natural, wholly man-made, or somewhere in between. A resilience policy, instead of focusing solely on emissions controls, would have four parts.

First, the transition to a post-carbon world decades from now will come about more quickly and efficiently by keeping energy markets open and unregulated than by subsidizing particular energy technologies or artificially making energy more expensive for producers and consumers. Efforts to subsidize energy paths will inevitably fall prey to interest-group lobbying (as witness the domestic ethanol lobby's success in winning tariffs on foreign ethanol), and will likely delay the development of promising technologies.

Second, we should implement practical carbon-sequestration measures: the capturing and storing of carbon in any number of places, whether underground, deep in the ocean, or in biomass (think more trees). There is much sequestration research under way, but many environmentalists oppose it because it would let us off the hook for our original sin of energy consumption.

Third, we should consider strategies of adaptation to a changing climate. A rise in the sea level need not be the end of the world, as the Dutch have taught us. Developing countries with vulnerable coastlines will be better able to adapt if their economic growth is not constrained by severe energy limits. And here at home, the federal government ought to stop subsidizing flood insurance and coastal development anyway; potential climate change is another reason to eschew such policies.

Finally, we should consider climate modification. If humanity is powerful enough to disrupt the climate negatively, we might also be able to change it for the better. On a theoretical level, doing so is relatively simple: We need to reduce the earth's absorption of solar radiation. A few scientists have suggested we could accomplish this by using orbiting mirrors to rebalance the amounts of solar radiation different parts of the earth receive. Right now this idea sounds as fanciful as Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative seemed in 1983, but look what that led to. New York University physicist Martin Hoffert points out that the interval between the Wright brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk and Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon was a mere 66 years. It is entirely reasonable to expect vast changes in our technical capacity before the century is out.

In the end, a relentless campaign to extend political control over the world's energy use is likely to fail, in part because, even if severe climate change is in our future, most people intuitively recognize that rhetoric about "the end of civilization as we know it" is inconsistent with human experience. Our distant ancestors survived an ice age with little more than animal skins, crude tools, and open fire pits. For all the talk of science and progress, the global-warming alarmists betray an astonishing lack of confidence in human creativity and resiliency. It's almost as if the scientific community had abandoned the idea of evolution.

American Enterprise Institute, 22 May 2006


A tiny biosciences company is developing a promising drug to fight diarrhea, a scourge among babies in the developing world, but it has made an astonishing number of powerful enemies because it grows the experimental drug in rice genetically engineered with a human gene. Environmental groups, corporate food interests and thousands of farmers across the country have succeeded in chasing Ventria Bioscience's rice farms out of two states. And critics continue to complain that Ventria is recklessly plowing ahead with a mostly untested technology that threatens the safety of conventional crops grown for food. "We just want them to go away,'' said Bob Papanos of the U.S. Rice Producers Association. "This little company could cause major problems.''

Ventria, with 16 employees, practices "biopharming,'' the most contentious segment of agricultural biotechnology because its adherents essentially operate open-air drug factories by splicing human genes into crops to produce proteins that can be turned into medicines. Ventria's rice produces two human proteins found in mother's milk, saliva and tears, which help people hydrate and lessen the severity and duration of diarrhea attacks, a top killer of children in developing countries. But farmers, environmentalists and others fear that such medicinal crops will mix with conventional crops, making them unsafe to eat.

The company says the chance of its genetically engineered rice ending up in the food supply is remote because the company grinds the rice and extracts the protein before shipping. What's more, rice is "self-pollinating,'' and it's virtually impossible for genetically engineered rice to accidentally cross breed with conventional crops. "We use a contained system,'' Ventria Chief Executive Scott Deeter said.

Regardless, U.S. rice farmers in particular fear that important overseas customers in lucrative, biotechnology-averse countries like Japan will shun U.S. crops if biopharming is allowed to proliferate. Exports account for 50 percent of the rice industry's $1.18 billion in annual sales. Japanese consumers, like those in Western Europe, are still alarmed by past mad cow disease outbreaks mishandled by their governments, making them deeply skeptical of any changes to their food supply, including genetically engineered crops.

Rice interests in California drove Ventria's experimental work out of the state in 2004, after Japanese customers said they wouldn't buy the rice if Ventria were allowed to set up shop. Anheuser-Busch Inc. and Riceland Foods Inc., the world's largest rice miller, were among the corporate interests that pressured the company to abandon plans to set up a commercial-scale farm in Missouri's rice belt last year.

But Ventria was undeterred. The company, which has its headquarters in Sacramento, finally landed near Greenville, N.C. In March it received U.S. Department of Agriculture clearance to expand its operation there from 70 acres to 335 acres. Ventria is hoping to get regulatory clearance this year to market its diarrhea-fighting protein powder.

There has been little resistance from corporate and farming interest in eastern North Carolina. But the company's work has raised the hackles of environmentalists there. "The issue is the growing of pharmaceutical products in food crops grown outdoors,'' said Hope Shand of the environmental nonprofit ETC Group in Carrboro, N.C. "The chance this will contaminate traditionally grown crops is great. This is a very risky business.''

Deeter points out that there aren't any commercial rice growers in North Carolina, although the USDA did allow Ventria to grow its controversial crop about a half-mile from a government "rice station,'' where new strains are tested. The USDA has since moved that station to Beltsville, Md., though an agency spokeswoman said the relocation had nothing to do with Ventria. The company, meanwhile, has applied to the Food and Drug Administration to approve the protein powder as a "medical food'' rather than a drug. That means Ventria wouldn't have to conduct long and costly human tests. Instead, it submitted data from scientific experts attesting to the company's powder is "generally regarded as safe.''

Earlier this month, a Peruvian scientist sponsored by Ventria presented data at the Pediatric Academics Societies meeting in San Francisco. It showed children hospitalized in Peru with serious diarrhea attacks recovered quicker-3.67 days versus 5.21 days-if the dehydration solution they were fed contained the powder.

Ventria's chief executive said he hopes to have an approval this year and envisions a $100 million annual market in the United States. Deeter forecasts a $500 million market overseas, especially in developing countries where diarrhea is a top killer of children under the age of 5. The World Health Organization reports that nearly 2 million children succumb to diarrhea each year. But overcoming consumer skepticism and regulatory concerns about feeding babies with products derived from genetic engineering is a tall order. This is especially true in the face of continued opposition to biopharming from the Grocery Manufacturers Association of America, which represents food, beverage and consumer products companies with combined U.S. sales of $460 billion.

Ventria hopes to add its protein powder to existing infant products. There is no requirement to label any food products in the United States as containing genetically engineered ingredients. The company also has ambitious plans to add its product to infant formula, a $10 billion-a-year market, even though the major food manufacturers have so far shown little interest in using genetically engineered ingredients. But Deeter says Ventria can win over the manufacturers and consumers by showing the company's products are beneficial. "For children who are weaning, for instance, these two proteins have enormous potential to help their development,'' Deeter said. "Breast-fed babies are healthier and these two proteins are a big reason why.''



Below is the latest post from Prof. Brignell. See the original for extensive links

May you live in interesting times.
Old Chinese curse

Suddenly, after years of complacency by politicians, bureaucrats and the media, inflation is back on the agenda in a big way. Balloon goes up over inflation yells the Telegraph , while the rest of the media echo the sentiment. Followers of the best of the blogs will not be so surprised. It is all part of the master plan to return humanity to the New Stone Age. The key is energy. Modern civilisation cannot survive without it. People are packed into cities and towns that cannot possibly be self supporting. Governments of the leading economies have been sleep-walking into a disastrous situation in which that most vital commodity is in short supply. It is not just the inexorable workings of the law of supply-and-demand that apply; spurious "green" taxes also stoke the fire. Increase the cost of energy and you increase the cost of everything.

The high priests of The Religion now exert such power that they can prevent the advanced economies from developing new energy resources of their own. They will permit nothing new to be built except the monstrous, useless idols to their own creed, which scar and uglify the landscape, as a testament to the principle of sacrifice.

The prime sources of energy are becoming more and more concentrated in the most unstable and hostile regions of the world - a Russia on the road to dictatorship, the Islamic Middle East and neo-Marxist South America.

The energy policies of the Western leaders have been tantamount to treason, as they leave their peoples open to blackmail and extortion. When the proper energy policy is glaringly obvious, they have ignored it and meekly obeyed the diktats of the eco-theologians. Now they are waking up, but too late! In Australia, America and the UK, suddenly they are talking about building the nuclear power stations that were always the clearly evident way to service the base load, but in doing so they still feel the need to genuflect to the eco-myth of Global Warming. They have been in office for the best part of a decade, fiddling while Rome burned. The time to start building the new generation of nuclear reactors was ten years ago.

Then there is carbon trading. In a re-run of the Kyoto carve-up, Britain finds itself in deficit while Germany (Surprise , surprise!) is in surplus. Yet another blow to people on low and fixed incomes, as their energy bills soar!

The central banks, like generals fighting a new war with the technology of the old, can be relied on to perform their knee-jerk reaction and start jacking up interest rates, squeezing the life out of emergent industries, contributing to a degenerative spiral. Economic journalists have never appreciated the havoc wrought among small and promising businesses in such times as the Thatcherite experiments in monetarism, or the dangers of progressive de-industrialisation, but that is macro-economics for you. Ordinary people, many of whom have been sucked into debt by greedy and irresponsible banks face misery and bankruptcy.

Leaders like Tony Blair are now talking as though someone else had been in power for all these years. You have to admire the chutzpah. They have created hundreds of new crimes that threaten ordinary law-abiding people with conviction, yet vicious criminals, often illegal aliens, roam free. That, however, is nothing to the consequences of the irresponsibility over energy. Blair now says:

Britain faced the prospect of being largely reliant on foreign gas imports for its future energy needs and it would be a "dereliction of duty" if he failed to take long-term decisions.

The "dereliction" took place at the beginning of his term of office. Nothing has happened that was not totally predictable at that time. With characteristic insouciance he has simply swept the most important question of his reign under the carpet. Energy planning takes decades, not the final year of a failing rgime.


An email from Paul Martin (, Emeritus Professor of Geosciences

In my new trade book, "Twilight of the Mammoths: Ice Age Extinctions and the Rewilding of America" (U.California Press, 250 pages, 2005) I compare cultural and climatic models of late Pleistocene extinctions globally. In the USA "Twilight..." has been reviewed favorably in Science, American Scientist and ONEARTH. I'm not aware of a review in Nature.

(1) When we examine what happened in radiocarbon time in corners of the world we find very heavy extinction throughout America, Australia, Madagascar, Mediterranean Islands, New Zealand, Pacific Islands and the West Indies. In each case heavy extinction accompanies or follows human invasion and colonization.

(2) For example, in the Americas large animals from Alaska to Argentina vanish at about the same time, around 11-12,000 years ago, EXCEPT in the Greater Antilles where all sloths and other endemics disappear later, ca. 6000 years ago, when humans first colonize the Greater Antilles (Steadman, et al., recent issue of PNAS).

(3) What about Australia, Madagascar, New Zealand and other Pacific Islands? The late-glacial or Younger Dryas (~12,000 years ago) is not known to be a time of extinction in those parts of the planet, whereas prehistoric human arrival coincides with large and (in NZ) small animal extinctions. In their book Tim Worthy and Richard Holdaway indicate that petrels, wetas and other small species were obliterated by depredations of introduced Polynesian rats.

(4) Finally, to the best of my knowledge, the Greenland ice cores along with Northern Hemisphere paleo-botanical records indicate change but nothing unusual or extraordinary, much less unique, at 10-12,000 years ago, compared with earlier changes seen in the Greenland ice cores and other glacial-age fossil records..

In brief, the global pattern of extinctions in "near time" would appear to be reasonably independent of global climatic forcing and highly dependent on the spread of our species.

Whatever the cause, it is extraordinary that dozens of genera of large mammals became extinct during the late Quaternary throughout the western hemisphere, including 90% of the genera of the xenarthran suborder Phyllophaga (sloths). Radiocarbon dates directly on dung, bones, or other tissue of extinct sloths place their "last appearance" datum at ~11,000 yr BP or slightly less in North America, ~10,500 yr BP in South America, and ~4400 yr BP on West Indian islands. This asynchronous situation is not compatible with glacial-interglacial climate change forcing these extinctions, especially given the great elevational, latitudinal, and longitudinal variation of the sloth-bearing continental sites. Instead, the chronology of last appearance of extinct sloths, whether on continents or islands, more closely tracks the first arrival of people.


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 May, 2006


(From The Guardian, 17 May 2006)

The EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS), the cornerstone of its campaign to assume global leadership in combating climate change by reducing greenhouse gases, is in tatters. This week, the European commission confirmed that companies operating more than 9000 industrial plants had emitted 66m tonnes less carbon dioxide (CO2) than allowed in 2005. The news prompted charges that the commission had been hoodwinked by energy groups into granting grossly over-generous pollution permits.

To add insult to injury, the scheme is proving a recipe for windfall profits. Faced with evidence that Germany, Europe's biggest polluter, had undershot its target by 21m tonnes, the Berlin government accused the four biggest power producers - Eon, RWE, Vattenfall and EnBW - of profiteering from the ETS at the expense of consumers. The environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said these four and others had thereby stoked up their earnings by between EUR6bn (4.1bn) and EUR8bn.

In Britain, where industry pumped 33m tonnes more pollution into the atmosphere than permitted, the Department of Trade and Industry has published on its website an energy consultancy report suggesting that UK-based electricity producers - including Eon, owners of Powergen and the UK's biggest polluter, and RWE, owners of npower - are making 800m a year in windfall profits. This figure has since been revised to 1bn and rising.

Amid wild fluctuations in the price of CO2 on the fledgling ETS market, which began on January 1 2005, governments are reflecting its disarray by proposing a series of contradictory measures to stabilise the scheme. This comes despite the scheme's architects lauding it as "the most cost-effective instrument ever to combat climate change and reach the Kyoto targets for cutting greenhouse gases" and "the main driver for long-term trading schemes" worldwide.

France, which is uncertain exactly how much CO2 its industry emitted last year, wants to roll over unused permits into the next phase from 2008 to 2012. Germany wants to claw back its over-generous permits and cancel them, reducing the energy groups' earnings. But both want changes to the ETS which would prohibit companies from passing on the value of their CO2 permits directly into wholesale power prices. Britain warily backs this plan, which could cut soaring consumer bills.

The complex scheme's fundamental problems arise because governments, under pressure from power producers, give free permits up to a certain level to these very producers, who are responsible for the bulk of CO2 emissions. Those who cut their output via clean technology have allowances to spare and can sell them to, say, coal-fired generators at up to EUR30 a tonne, netting the profits.

The Edinburgh-based energy consultants IPA, who wrote the report on the DTI website, calculate that the windfall earnings would not have arisen if, say, the British government had capped permits at 45m tonnes of CO2 rather than the 130m tonnes it issued.

Analysts say one answer would be to create a genuine carbon trading system by forcing energy groups - which, after all, operate in a captive market free of outside competition - to bid for their permits. Centrica, owners of British Gas which generates 60% of its own power and buys the rest, is backing this idea. It has suggested that 10% of carbon permits be auctioned this year.

Belatedly, the British government is trying to tighten the greenhouse gas emission limits on power plants and thus slash the windfall profits. And senior Brussels officials, including the ETS architects, have vowed to impose tougher "caps" later this decade - say, 10% fewer permits under phase two.

The commission has blamed the undershoot on a mild winter in early 2005, soaring oil and gas prices leading to reduced output, faster-than-anticipated use of clean technology and even the rain (encouraging more use of hydro-power) - provoking laughter among onlookers.

Britain sued the commission last year after Brussels rejected its proposals to allow industry to emit 20m tonnes of CO2 over that originally planned. But it has dropped the case and now plans to claw back that amount and more from the power companies. RWE npower, Scottish Power, Scottish & Southern Energy, International Power and Drax, Europe's biggest coal-fired station, have taken up the cudgels and are suing Brussels over the "lost" 20m tonnes in the sector's allowances.

One clear sign that the ETS is in serious trouble is that senior EU officials say last year's undershoot is "good for the environment" when it is blindingly obvious that by failing to create a genuine market, the scheme has not encouraged investment in renewables and other low carbon technologies. Another is that these officials also suggested that Britain might escape punitive treatment because it is on course to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by the official Kyoto target of 12.5% by 2012. However, Brussels is likely to take the UK to court again later this year as the government has said it will miss the June 30 deadline for submitting its national allocation plan for 2008-2012.

This sorry mess, unlikely to be cleared up by the European court of justice, can be seen as yet another example of the EU's inability to put its vaulting ambitions into practice. The ETS was supposed to be EUR3.4bn cheaper than alternative methods of meeting its ambitious Kyoto targets; instead it is costing consumers untold billions in windfall profits and dividends for power producers and their over-fed shareholders.


(From BBC News Online, 15 May 2006)

Rising ocean temperatures look set to cause lasting devastation to coral reef systems, a study suggests. An international team of researchers looked at reefs in the Seychelles, where an ocean warming event in 1998 killed much of the live coral. The group found the oceanic reef had experienced fish extinctions, algal growth, and only limited recovery. Details have been published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The 1998 event saw Indian Ocean surface temperatures rise to unprecedented levels, killing off - or "bleaching" - more than 90% of the inner Seychelles coral. Coral bleaching has been described as a vivid demonstration of climate change in action. "[Bleaching events] are becoming more frequent and are predicted to become more severe in coming decades. They are directly linked to increases in sea surface temperatures," said lead author Nick Graham, of the University of Newcastle.

Or will it?

If the climate is warming due to greenhouse gas emissions, there could be many plausible consequences, such as melting ice and polar bears not having a home. However, of all the ecosystems in the world, coral reefs are in virtually the best position to come through unscathed. They are certainly not the worlds canary as has sometimes been stated. Consider the following points:

(1) Corals are a tropical species. They like warm water. Most of the species found on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), for example, are also found in areas with much warmer water.

(2) In a couple of hundred million years of existence, corals have survived through hotter, (and more seriously colder) periods.

(3) Coral tissue thickness, often seen as an indicator of coral health, is generally higher for corals in hotter water. Some of the highest tissue thickness' measured have occur around PNG where the water is far hotter than the GBR.

(4) For all the hype about the bleaching events on the GBR, most of the reef did not bleach and almost all that did bleach has almost fully recovered.

(5) From the statistical viewpoint it is highly improbable that bleaching only started to occur in the last 25 years. Bleaching on the GBR occurs in summers when there is a combination of low cloud cover and light winds. This drives up water temperatures to a degree or two about normal. The water temperature has not increased by a degree over the last 25 years and thus bleaching must have been occurring previously, though quite possibly at a reduced rate. The apparent increase in bleaching is quite possibly due to the very large number of scientists and managers who are now interested in the phenomenon.

(6) Data of coral growth rates from massive corals indicate that there has been a small but significant increase over the last 100 or so years. This is related to the small but significant temperature increase that has occurred in the last hundred or so years. This is not surprising, coral, by and large like hot water.

(7) Some corals clearly are killed by unusually elevated temperature. These are not the long-lived massive corals but rather the plate and staghorn corals. These susceptible corals have the living philosophy of a weed, i.e. live fast and die young. The massives are in for the long haul, they are like the forest giants that live for hundreds or years and must thus be able to withstand the extreme conditions, such as high temperature and cyclones, that will temporarily wipe out there frail but fast growing brethren.

(8) Even the susceptible corals seem to be able to adapt to higher temperatures by replacing the symbiotic plants (zooxanthellae) that are embedded within them with more suitable species.

(9) If we see a sealevel rise due to the thermal expansion of the ocean, we will see a great expansion in the area of the GBR under coral. This is because the reef flats, which now have almost no coral due to the FALL in sealevel of the last 5000 years, will be covered even by the lowest spring tides. The presently dead reef flats, which are a very large proportion of the reef (perhaps the majority), will come alive. So though rising sealevel might be bad if you live in a small South Pacific Island nation, it will be good for coral.

I have a very high regard for the hardiness of corals. The GBR was borne at a time of rapidly rising sealevel, very high turbidity and very rapidly rising temperature. Presently, they live in areas of extreme temperature (40 degree), in muddy embayments and in regions continuously affected by runoff. Provided they are not grossly overfished, as has happened in the Caribbean, they are very adaptable systems.

My message is that if you must make an argument for the Kyoto Protocol, then using coral reefs is a poor, and implausible choice. In the final analysis, corals like hot water, polar bears do not. Corals will do badly in an ice age, polar bears and alpine meadows can suffer in a warm period.

Even more coral doubts:

Close examination of coral reef reveals that when the rest of the world was experiencing warm weather, the Pacific was cold. And during a period of cold weather elsewhere in the world, the Pacific was warm and stormy

For more than five decades, archaeologists, geographers, and other researchers studying the Pacific Islands have used a model of late Holocene climate change based largely on other regions of the world. However, in a new study from the June issue of Current Anthropology, Melinda Allen (University of Auckland, New Zealand) uses evidence from the long-lived Pacific corals to suggest that the climate in the Pacific diverged from the rest of the world during two major climate periods: the "Little Ice Age" and the "Medieval Warm Period."

"These findings have relevance for both ancient and modern Pacific peoples," explains Allen. "Climate change, accelerated sea rise, and deterioration of coral reefs, along with their associated social and environmental costs, are among the most pressing concerns of Pacific Island nations today."

The new climate models presented in this paper suggest that while the rest of the world was experiencing certain weather patterns, the Pacific island region and the people who lived there were experiencing something else entirely. During the "Medieval Warm Period" ca. A.D. 900-1200, conditions in the tropical Pacific were cool and possibly dry. Similarly, during the "Little Ice Age" ca. A.D. 1550-1900, the central Pacific was comparatively warm and wet, with stormy conditions more common.

As Allen writes: "The ancient coral studies, in tandem with archaeology, offer an opportunity for investigating the impact of climate change on Pacific environment and Pacific peoples' responses to these changes - conditions which their successors are again facing in the 21st century."


Email alert from Paul Biggs (

The first picture of climate change in the northern hemisphere using data from stalagmite growth has been created by researchers at the University of Birmingham's School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

By using this new method, they have discovered that there has been a global temperature rise of 0.65 degrees centigrade over the last 500 years. The stalagmite records suggest a more gradual increase in temperatures during this time period, in addition to the rapid rise during the 20th century.

Data from tree rings has previously been the main data source used by scientists to collect information about past climate change, but trees grow for short periods - usually decades or centuries - and provide better evidence of short term climate variability. Stalagmites grow for tens of thousands of years and their layers provide a better picture of long term climate variability.

Stalagmites grow in caves and are linked to the weather as they form from rain water which has passed through soil and limestone forming calcite deposits. As the chemistry of this water and the climate of the cave change through the year, different types of calcite is deposited, creating layers or rings that are formed annually. The width of a ring, or how fast a stalagmite has grown in any one year can be linked directly to climate change.

Claire Smith, postgraduate student in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, says, 'This is the first time that ring width series from many stalagmites from across the northern hemisphere have been used in a climate change study. Because stalagmites grow for long periods of time we are confident that the information we have gained gives a clearer picture of long term climate variability than the studies that have previously used tree ring data.'

Dr Andy Baker continues, 'It is very important to get accurate measurements of climate change in the recent past, as this data is essential to calibrate computer models that predict future climate change. Also data from the past helps us understand the importance of the many natural factors that can affect climate change, and help us understand the relative importance of today's greenhouse gas induced global warming.'

Stalagmite data from China, Italy and Scotland were used in this study.

The study is published by the International Journal of Climatology and appears online here. Abstract follows:

The magnitude of recent warming, and the variability of climate on centennial-millennial time scales are compromised by questions concerning the ability of tree rings to capture low-frequency climate fluctuations. Annually laminated stalagmite records can potentially provide a low-frequency climate archive through variations in annual growth rate. Presented here is an initial attempt to demonstrate the applicability of annually laminated stalagmite series to a large-scale climate reconstruction, by producing a 500-year Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction. The reconstruction shows an overall warming trend with a magnitude of 0.65 K and several other low-frequency characteristics consistent with other independent Northern Hemisphere archives. The result is sufficiently encouraging to warrant significant future effort in characterising annual growth rate records from laminated speleothems.

New offshore drilling = more oil and fish

That clique of noisy, well-heeled and politically powerful south Florida voters is at it again. And as usual, Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Mel Martinez are pandering shamelessly. Never mind the national interest. This cantankerous group's archaic prejudices still prevail. Never mind simple logic. Their emotions still guide our national policy to the frustration of the rest of the nation, to the detriment of our economic well-being and to the bitter amusement of much of the world.

Never mind almost half a century of visible evidence against their moss-ridden bugaboos. Their zealotry, intransigence and apparently incurable block-headedness again prevail. This groveling by Republican politicians to a fringe group of highly emotional Florida voters is a national scandal by now. It's high time these hotheads in Florida got with the national program.

They need to shed their petty obsessions with the past and start assessing the national interest soberly and in light of current developments, not stale policies enacted in the heat of hysteria almost half a century ago. Most outrageous of all, their policies hurt the very people they claim to help.

I refer, of course, to offshore oil drilling, currently banned off Florida because of rich pressure groups. That shock and awe at the gas pump might wake up a few people. There's something called the law of supply and demand. Rant and rave all you want, bellow and whine all you want, throw as many tantrums as you want, hold as many rain dances as you want, hold as many s,ances with ghosts as you want, sacrifice as many virgins as you want, burn as many witches as you want - but no amount of legislation or wishful thinking will abolish it.

We need more oil and there are millions of barrels offshore, especially in the eastern Gulf of Mexico off Florida. Soon Fidel Castro himself with the help of Spanish and Chinese oil companies (who are not subject to U.S. environmental rules) will be drilling for it barely 45 miles of the Florida coast. This raises the fascinating prospect of Florida beaches fouled by the very oil we'll later use to fuel the SUVs to transport us to those beaches - all purchased from Communists who crave to blow us up. Only politicians could create such a prospect.

Actually the fouling of beaches is a long shot. The environmental dangers of oil exploration and extraction rank right up with the marvels of Cuba's healthcare as modern man's most zealously cherished fables. It's the transportation of oil that accounts for the overwhelming number of oil spills. Recall the Valdez, the Cadiz, and the Argo Merchant. These were all tanker spills.

And even these (though hyped hysterically as environmental catastrophes) always play out as minor blips, those pictures of oil soaked seagulls notwithstanding. To the horror and anguish of professional greenies, Alaska's Prince William Sound recovered completely. More birds get fried by landing on power lines and smashed to pulp against picture windows in one week than perished from three decades of oil spills. In fact, Florida's gorgeous and tourist-packed beaches have suffered from an ugly oil spill. It happened summer of 1976 off Panama City and Destin, by far the most beautiful beaches in America. That sugar white sand and those emerald waters were fouled from a tanker spill. The current drilling ban will make another such spill more likely.

The ban not only puts us at the mercy of shaky sheikdoms and Hugo Chavez for oil, it also means we'll need to keep transporting that oil stateside - typically to refineries in Louisiana and Texas. This path takes those tankers smack in front of Florida's beaches.

But there's another resource shortage that more drilling would solve. Big-Fish Stocks Fall 90 Percent Since 1950, said a National Geographic headline a couple years ago. "Our demand for seafood appears to be insatiable. From giant blue marlin to mighty blue fin tuna, and from tropical groupers to Antarctic cod, industrial fishing has scoured the global ocean. There is no blue frontier left."

Then let's create a new fishing frontier, using offshore oil platforms and the explosion of marine life that always accompany their installation. It happened here in Louisiana. The observable evidence is overwhelming. The verdict is in. Of the 3,739 offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico nowadays, 3,203 lie off the Louisiana coast. We love offshore oil drilling, and not just for the loot (taxes) extorted from oil companies for the privilege.

"Environmentalists" wake up in the middle of the night sweating and whimpering about offshore oil platforms only because they've never seen what's under them. This proliferation of marine life around the platforms turned on its head every "expert" opinion of its day. The original plan, mandated by federal environmental "experts" back in the late `40s, was to remove the big, ugly, polluting, environmentally hazardous contraptions as soon as they stopped producing. Fine, said the oil companies.

About 15 years ago some wells played out off Louisiana and the oil companies tried to comply. Their ears are still ringing from the clamor fishermen put up. Turns out those platforms are going nowhere, and by popular demand of those with a bigger stake in the marine environment than any "environmentalist."

Every "environmental" superstition against these structures was turned on its head. Marine life had EXPLODED around these huge artificial reefs. Louisiana produces on third of America's seafood In fact a study by Louisiana State University shows that 85 percent of Louisiana offshore fishing trips involve fishing around these structures and that there's 50 times more marine life around an oil production platform than in the surrounding Gulf bottoms. Louisiana produces one-third of America's commercial fisheries - because of, not in spite of, these platforms.

All of this and not one major oil spill in half a century - not one. As more assurance, today's drilling technology compares to the one used only 20 years ago about like the Kitty Hawk compares to a jumbo jet. The one that gave us the Santa Barbara Oil Spill in 1969 compares to today's like a fossil.

Market forces, not meddlesome bureaucrats, account for cleaner, safer oil drilling. A deep-water drilling rig might cost $1 billion. This thing has to produce oil daily - hourly(!) - to recoup such a gargantuan investment. A blowout and spill would shut them down for weeks. No oil company could stay in business that way.

In 1986 Louisiana started the Rigs to Reef program, a cooperative effort by oil companies, the feds and the state. This program literally pays the oil companies to keep the platforms in the Gulf. Now they just cut them off at the bottom and topple them over as artificial reefs; more than 60 have been toppled thus far.

Louisiana wildlife and fisheries officials were recently invited to Australia to help them with a similar program. Think about it: here's the nation with the Great Barrier Reef, the world's biggest natural reef, the world's top dive destination, asking for help from Louisiana about developing exciting dive and fishing sites by using the very structures that epitomize (in greenie eyes) environmental disaster.

Mark Ferrulo, a Florida "environmental activist" who lobbies incessantly against offshore drilling called Louisiana's coastal waters "the nation's toilet." Then Florida's fishing fleet must love fishing in toilets. And her restaurants must love serving what's in them. Many of the red snapper you eat in Florida restaurants are caught around Louisiana's oil platforms. We see the Florida-registered boats tied up to them constantly. Sometimes we can barely squeeze in.

It also turns out that Louisiana's natural reefs are much healthier than the much-protected and pampered Florida reefs. The Flower Garden coral reefs lie off the Louisiana-Texas border. Unlike any of the Florida Keys reefs, they're surrounded by dozens of offshore oil platforms that have been pumping away for the past 40 years. Yet according to G.P. Schmahl, a Federal biologist who worked for decades in both places, "The Flower Gardens are much healthier, more pristine than anything in the Florida Keys. It was a surprise to me, and I think it's a surprise to most people."

"A key measure of the health of a reef is the amount of area taken up by coral," according to a report by Steve Gittings, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's science coordinator for marine sanctuaries. "Louisiana's Flower Garden boasts nearly 50 percent coral cover ... in the Florida Keys ... it can run as little as 5 percent."

The panorama under an offshore oil platform staggers the most experienced divers. I've seen divers fresh from the Cayman's Wall surface from under an oil platform too wired on adrenaline to do anything but stutter and wipe spastically at the snot that trails to their chins. I've seen an experienced scuba-babe fresh from Belize climb out from under a platform gasping and shrieking at the sights and sensations, oblivious to the sights and sensations she was providing with her bikini top near her navel



Giving Chinamen electricity for light and heat, saving them from drowning in floods, and giving them water to grow crops with for feeding themselves are all unforgivable from a Greenie viewpoint

China today pours the final concrete that will mark the completion of the world's biggest dam and Beijing's most ambitious engineering project since the Great Wall. The emperors of China took hundreds of years to build the 4,000 miles (6,400km) of the Great Wall but the Communist Party has taken only 13 years to finish the $25 billion Three Gorges dam that now stands 185m (600ft) high, is 2,309m wide and can store 39.3 billion cubic metres of water where it cuts across the mighty Yangtze.

However, the dam also stands as a monument to the ability of a one-party state to push through a controversial and costly project despite unusually vocal opposition. Li Yongan, the general manager of the Three Gorges Corporation, said: "This is the grandest project the Chinese people have undertaken in thousands of years."

By 2011, the Three Gorges power station will have a generating capacity of 18.2 million kilowatts. The dam has long been an ambition of China's leaders as a way to provide power and end flooding that had led to the deaths of millions over the centuries. But debate raged for decades as to whether such a huge dam was feasible, or even needed.

In 1992, the rubber-stamp parliament approved construction - although nearly half of its members voted against it in an unprecedented show of discontent. Worries have persisted: about corruption; damage to the environment; safety; cost; what to do with the one million people forced to move; and whether China really needed a huge dam when such large-scale projects had fallen out of favour around the world.

Dai Qing, an environmentalist, said: "They had to realise this project to say, `This is something you foreigners couldn't do, but we Chinese could do it, our socialist system could do it'." Already, officials are defending charges that thousands of tonnes of silt swept along by the Yangtze will soon start to fill the reservoir, clog the turbines and turn the 600km lake into a cesspool.

Scientists say that the project could also affect water quality and even modify the local climate. Environmentalists say that it may not even prevent flooding. Nevertheless, today Chairman Mao's dream of a "wall of stones" across the Yangtze will be complete.

The Three Gorges reservoir will store 39.3 billion cubic metres of water, enough to cover Britain with a layer of water 10cm deep. One million people have been relocated from land to be submerged. The dam will use 26 massive hydroelectric turbines to generate 18,200 megawatts of power, about 15 times the output of Sizewell B nuclear power station



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 May, 2006

Wind power "conspiracy"

An example of the usual Leftist "ad hominem" attack below: If you cannot attack the argument, attack the arguer. The author is Wendy Frew, a frequent "Environment Reporter" for Australia's "Sydney Morning Herald". If I were to argue as Wendy does, I might say that she is obviously a mere journalist who is practiced in how to smear but is lost when it comes to technical knowledge and understanding

Tactics used by anti-wind farm activists in Victoria - including making misleading statements about wind energy - are being copied by some groups in NSW. Research by the Herald has found that a loose association of anti-wind farm groups in Victoria that goes by the name of Landscape Guardians, or Coastal Guardians, relies heavily for its information and tactics on the British anti-wind farm pressure group Country Guardians. That group was set up by Sir Bernard Ingham, press secretary to Margaret Thatcher when she was prime minister. Sir Bernard is now a director of Supporters of Nuclear Energy, and a former consultant to British Nuclear Fuels.

Coastal Guardians Victoria has also worked closely with the now-discredited British botanist David Bellamy {I wonder who it was who "discredited" him? Last I heard he wasn't feeling discredited!], who believes climate change is a myth. He visited Victoria's South Gippsland in 2004 to campaign against wind farms.

The spokesman for Coastal Guardians of Victoria, Tim Le Roy, said he was not worried people would get the wrong idea about his group's connection with Mr Bellamy and Country Guardians and their links to the nuclear industry. "I think the wind industry and its proponents have done the nuclear industry the greatest favour they could have asked for," he said. He believed wind energy would not help cut greenhouse gas emissions generated by energy generation.

Mr Le Roy said he had "a fairly open mind about climate change" and added people in Victoria were right to be angry about wind power because the Bracks Government had caved in to developers and ignored community concerns. "If these windmills were doing any good it would mitigate the concerns."

Mr Le Roy said wind power would not work because it needed back-up power (the national electricity grid is, in fact, already served by back-up power); green groups were split over wind power (all of Australia's major environment groups support wind power); and that wind turbines did not work because they could not store electricity. However, there is no effective way to store large amounts of electricity, regardless of whether it comes from coal or wind, energy experts say.

In NSW, one of the groups using the Landscape Guardians moniker is based in the village of Taralga. Its members are challenging a local wind farm project in the Land and Environment Court. Their president, Paul Miskelly, worked for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation for 32 years and has given talks on nuclear power.


TV Ads Seek to Upstage Gore 'Global Warming' Movie

If I were to argue as Wendy Frew (above) does, I would reduce the article below to a simple statement to the effect that Al Gore is a sore loser who cannot let go of the stupid global warming treaty he negotiated but which the U.S. Senate roundly rejected

The latest chapter in the "global warming" debate involves a movie based on the climate change warnings of former Vice President Al Gore and the efforts of a Washington, D.C., think tank to convince Americans that such warnings represent "alarmism." The movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," which opens in select theaters next week and nationwide on June 9, is narrated by the former vice president and is based on the slide show that Gore presented across the country alleging that carbon dioxide emissions are causing widespread damage to the planet. "In the United States of America, unfortunately we still live in a bubble of unreality," Gore told Grist Magazine when asked about the dangers of "global warming." The film's website adds that "humanity is sitting on a ticking time bomb."

But ahead of the film's release, the free-market environmental think tank, Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), Thursday rolls out a new television ad campaign criticizing the liberal environmental attack on carbon dioxide emissions. Fuels that produce carbon dioxide "have freed us from a world of back-breaking labor, lighting up our lives, allowing us to create and move the things we need, the people we love," the narrator in one of the ads intones.

The ad, without mentioning Gore or anyone else by name, closes with the narrator declaring that "they call it pollution, we call it life." It is one of two 60-second television spots that CEI produced and plans to air in 14 U.S. cities from Thursday until May 28. "Claims of looming climate disaster due to energy use are unfounded; our ad campaign is a call for balance in discussions of global warming," said Marlo Lewis, senior fellow in environmental policy at CEI, during a Wednesday news conference. "We have to recognize that there really is a debate over whether climate change is a crisis," Sam Kazman, general counsel for CEI, added. "Al Gore is at the forefront of calling for the regulatory equivalent of a war." As a result of Gore's efforts, Kazman complained that "our energy is under attack, our mobility is under attack."

In his interview with Grist Magazine, Gore said Americans are caught in a "category 5 denial" of "global warming, which he said "is an enormous obstacle to any discussion of solutions. "Nobody is interested in solutions if they don't think there's a problem," Gore told the magazine. The website promoting Gore's film claims that "if the vast majority of the world's scientists are right, we have just ten years to avert a major catastrophe that could send our entire planet into a tail-spin of epic destruction involving extreme weather, floods, droughts, epidemics and killer heat waves beyond anything we have ever experienced."

But Richard Lindzen, an atmospheric science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in an April 12 op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal that from his days as a U.S. senator, Gore tried to "bully" scientists who disagreed with him on the threat of climate change. "In 1992, [Gore] ran two congressional hearings during which he tried to bully dissenting scientists, including myself, into changing our views and supporting his climate alarmism," wrote Lindzen. The scientific community, he stated, did not complain "when Mr. Gore, as vice president, tried to enlist Ted Koppel in a witch hunt to discredit anti-alarmist scientists, a request that Mr. Koppel deemed publicly inappropriate. "And they were mum when subsequent articles and books by Ross Gelbspan libelously labeled scientists who differed with Mr. Gore as stooges of the fossil-fuel industry," Lindzen wrote.

The advanced screening of "An Inconvenient Truth" at the Sundance Film Festival was met with rave reviews. The Film Festival's guide calls the documentary a "gripping story" with "a visually mesmerizing presentation" that is "activist cinema at its very best."



Manufacturing firms are operating in an increasingly tough and competitive environment. Over the past year another obstacle to competitiveness has emerged - a considerable rise in the cost of energy. Companies already have to deal with a range of cost pressures, including raw materials (particularly steel and petroleum products), insurance and pension costs. While some of these, such as rising steel and oil prices, are felt internationally, cost increases specific to the UK erode profit margins and competitiveness.

EEF has therefore surveyed its members to discover the extent of the recent price increases in both gas and electricity experienced by manufacturers, and to identify what measures, if any, companies are adopting to reduce the impact of higher utility bills on their business. We conducted a similar survey in 2004, which showed that companies were beginning to feel the effect of rising energy prices. The situation has deteriorated this year, with virtually no company left unaffected by rising prices. Our results are based on responses from 371 members.

Only a few years ago UK firms were paying less for energy than their European counterparts. This situation has been reversed and evidence now confirms that large industrial users in the UK currently face both the highest gas prices and amongst the highest electricity prices in Europe, despite the fact that the UK has a fully liberalised gas market and remains the largest producer of gas in the EU.

Energy accounts for approximately 3% of total input costs in manufacturing, although this can vary widely from sector to sector. In the metals and chemicals subsectors, gas and electricity costs can account for over 10% of total input costs. The rapid rise in energy costs is causing problems for manufacturers in adjusting to the increase in prices. Related to this is the problem of passing on costs for firms that are tied to contracts with customers. For energy-intensive firms this can cause substantial cash flow problems.

These costs, combined with others, have also increased the pressure on profitability, thus hitting the investment plans of some companies. In addition, some firms with foreign parents in energy-intensive sectors take the view that the uncertain cost situation and the squeeze on profitability mean that it is more sensible to load production to sites outside the UK. Though it is unlikely to be the sole factor driving the decision, the steep rise in energy prices may provide the final push for companies to consider investing elsewhere in the world.

EEF has been carrying out extensive research on what factors have been driving the recent price increases. These include:

* higher world oil and gas prices;

* a deteriorating gas supply situation linked with market distortions in Continental Europe; and

* faster pass-through of the impact of the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) in the liberalised UK energy market.

Source (PDF).

Australia's Prime Minister says nuke power inevitable

Soaring oil prices would push Australia more quickly towards the "inevitable" use of nuclear power, Prime Minister John Howard said today. Mr Howard has also indicated the Government might have to overhaul its 18-month-old energy policy which has a heavy focus on the continuing use of fossil fuels for power generation. The Prime Minister made the comments ahead of talks with the Government of Canada - a country which with Australia holds some of the world's biggest uranium deposits.

Mr Howard said the broad use of nuclear power in Australia was inevitable and the push for its uptake was gathering momentum. "It could be closer than some people would have thought a short while ago," he told Southern Cross Broadcasting from the Canadian capital Ottawa. "I hope that we have an intense debate on the subject over the months ahead. "And the whole atmosphere in Washington, the atmosphere everywhere I go created by the high level of oil prices is transforming the debate on energy and alternative energy sources."

Mr Howard signalled changes to the government energy white paper, released in 2004. "Only 18 months ago we put out an energy white paper," he said. "Now, that white paper was a very comprehensive statement about policy but it was based on certain assumptions regarding the price of oil and those assumptions are certainly very different now. "And you have to ask the question ... as to whether if the assumptions about the price of oil are different, should the assumptions on which the policy is based be changed?"

Asked if the issue could be addressed within a few years, Mr Howard said many countries would increasingly resort to nuclear power. "And obviously as a major holding of uranium reserves that has potential benefits for Australia, not only here but also through our export sales," he said. The timing of Australia's uptake of nuclear would be governed by economic considerations, Mr Howard said. "Clearly the environmental advantages of nuclear power are there for all to see - it's cleaner and greener and therefore some of the people in the past who've opposed it should support it," he said.

Mr Howard held talks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper about uranium mining and nuclear energy in Ottawa today.


N-boost for Russia too

Russia is to commission at least two reactors a year beginning in 2010 as part of a massive effort to expand its nuclear energy sector. Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, said on Wednesday that the program would start with the construction next year of a new nuclear power plant with four reactors near St Petersburg - next to the existing nuclear plant in Sosnovy Bor.

Nuclear power now accounts for about 17 per cent of Russia's electricity generation, and the Kremlin has set a target to raise its share to one-quarter by 2030. Mr Kiriyenko said recently that Russia would have to build a total of 40 new reactors to fulfil the goal.

According to the World Nuclear Association 16 countries, not including Iran, now have proposals to build 107 new civil reactors. The majority are in Asia. Russia's announcement came as the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, faced cabinet-level opposition over his plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations following Treasury predictions of "eye-wateringly large" costs.



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 May, 2006


It's looking pretty definite now

Britain is to build the first new generation of nuclear power stations for 20 years to avoid becoming dependent on foreign gas imports. Tony Blair yesterday pre-empted his Government's energy review to say that the replacement of existing nuclear stations was back on the agenda "with a vengeance", provoking a row with environmentalists. Construction of the first new atomic plants could start within ten years under fast-track planning permission. Britain's twelve nuclear power stations currently provide 22 per cent of the country's electricity, but all but three will close by 2020. Objections to the cost and environmental record of nuclear power have ensured that no new plants have been ordered since work started on Sizewell B in 1988. However, early findings from the Government's review of the country's future energy needs show the importance of the nuclear option, the Prime Minister said last night.

Britain will be importing 90 per cent of its natural gas by 2025, leaving electricity generation reliant on potentially unstable countries in the Middle East, Africa and the former Soviet Union, he said. Mr Blair told the Confederation of British Industry last night: "These facts put the replacement of nuclear power stations, a big push on renewables and a step change on energy efficiency, engaging both business and consumers, back on the agenda with a vengeance."

Ofgem, the energy regulator, yesterday added to the sense of urgency surrounding Britain's power future by saying that the country faced shortages in gas supplies next winter if there are delays in key projects to import more gas. Nuclear energy can help to reduce the reliance on energy imports and reduce carbon emissions that cause global warming. "If we do not take these long-term decisions now we will be committing a serious dereliction of our duty to the future of this country," Mr Blair said.

It is the clearest public signal that he has made up his mind to commission new nuclear stations since The Times reported last November that Mr Blair had become convinced that new plants would be needed. The new plants will almost certainly be built on existing sites to lessen planning objections and public opposition. The Prime Minister is unlikely to encounter much Cabinet opposition, although some Labour MPs remain strongly opposed to nuclear power. Gordon Brown is believed to be in favour of the principle of building more stations, although he has insisted that the decision should be supported by a cost-benefits analysis.

Stephen Tindale, the director of Greenpeace, said: "The Prime Minister obviously made up his mind about nuclear power some time ago, and certainly well before the Government launched its energy review. "This is the latest act in a long-running farce that is the energy review. The review is a smokescreen for a decision that has already been taken." Kate Hudson, the chair- woman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said that pressing ahead with building new nuclear power stations would be "incomprehensible". Given the 15 years it would take a nuclear power station to come on stream, the cost of dealing with radioactive waste and the threat of terrorist attacks, it would be "irresponsible" to replace existing stations, she said. Tony Juniper, the director of Friends of the Earth, said: "The UK could be leading the world in the development of a low- carbon, nuclear-free economy. He seems intent on trying to waste yet more taxpayers' money on a discredited and dangerous nuclear dinosaur."

Alan Duncan, the Shadow Trade Secretary, said: "What on earth is the point of an energy review, when all he ever wanted to do was to say that you will be having nuclear power whether you like it or not?"

Sir Digby Jones, the CBI Director-General, said that Mr Blair was right to put nuclear power firmly on the agenda for the future. "With an everincreasing reliance on imported gas, and the pressing need to reduce carbon emissions, nuclear power may well form part of the solution."



The shoreline to the northeast of London has dispelled some of the concern caused by research that predicts that sea levels have risen and will continue to rise to a degree that will threaten human and wildlife communities. Evidence from a new study indicates that relatively little change in shoreline position has occurred since World War II. The study is published in the latest issue of Journal of Coastal Research.

The Dunwich-Sizewell coast is arguably one of the most scenically attractive and least spoiled in England. Reviewing its past and present coastal changes will serve to inform future management options if flood defenses and coast protection prove unsustainable.

In the past 2,000 years, the study area has experienced major changes with significant loss of land caused by marine erosion. The study, however, reports a decline in the rates of cliff erosion in certain parts. In the geologically recent past, the onshore area of eastern East Anglia has seen periods of relative uplift, probably because of block tilting and crust deformation caused by loading in the southern North Sea Basin.

At present, little scientific evidence supports a case for large-scale realignment of the defenses along this coast. Area-specific cases such as at the beach and frontal dunes of the northern end of the Minsmere Reserve Frontage are aligned too far seaward with respect to the rest of the shoreline and are eroding with the risk of wave overtopping.

If sea levels rise and increased storminess occurs as a result of global warming, these effects might not be significant for at least 30 to 50 years, the study's researchers said. But in the future, realignment might be needed in local cases to achieve equilibrium even under present climatic and sea level conditions.

To read the entire study, click here. The Journal of Coastal Research is the bi-monthly journal of The Coastal Education and Research Foundation (CERF). To read more about the society, visit here.

Newswise, 16 May 2006


Citing research suggesting that some invisibly small engineered nanoparticles might pose health risks, a coalition of consumer and environmental groups petitioned the Food and Drug Administration yesterday to beef up its regulation of nanoparticle-containing sunscreens and cosmetics and recall some products.

The legal filing was synchronized with the release of a report by the environmental group Friends of the Earth that highlighted the growing number of personal care products with nanoingredients, defined as smaller than 100-millionths of a millimeter. At least 116 such products are on the market, the report found. "Scientific bodies are beginning to develop an understanding of the serious risks that may be associated with nanomaterials," said Joseph Mendelson, legal director of the Washington-based International Center for Technology Assessment, which spearheaded the FDA filing. "Every day, consumers are being asked to be a test market for some of those risks."

Nanotechnology encompasses a wide range of materials that, because of their small size, exhibit novel chemical or biological properties. Among the FDA-regulated products being sold are sunscreens containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide nanoparticles (which offer strong ultraviolet protection while remaining colorless) and cosmetics with nanoscale liposomes -- tiny chemical bubbles that deliver moisteners and other ingredients to the skin.

A number of animal studies have shown that at least some nanoparticles can penetrate cells and tissues, migrate through the body and brain and cause biochemical damage. But whether nano-spiked cosmetics and sunscreens pose health risks remains largely unknown, pending completion of long-range studies recently begun by the FDA and other agencies.

An Australian government medical committee concluded this year that metal oxide nanoparticles in sunscreens mostly remain on the outer layer of skin, where DNA damage is not a big concern.

The FDA regulates sunscreens as nonprescription drugs and does not require extra safety tests specific for nanoparticles. The agency has little authority over cosmetics. But John Bailey, a vice president at the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, a trade group, said his level of confidence in the safety of those products is "very high." "I think these are safe and very beneficial products," said Bailey, who oversaw the FDA's cosmetics program for a decade.

Asked why companies rarely release the results of their safety studies, Bailey said the information was generally proprietary -- as are the ingredients. "We really don't know much about what they're putting in, or the levels," he said. But companies have lots of incentive to make their products safe, he added.

Two years ago, Britain's Royal Society recommended that nanoproducts not be sold until they have undergone independent safety assessments and the results are made public. It also said that products containing engineered nanoparticles should be labeled as such, a move the industry has opposed. The FDA does not comment on legal challenges and has six months to respond to yesterday's petition



Polar bears are becoming the poster-species for "doomsday prophets" of climate change, even though groups pushing for higher protection for the animals don't have the evidence to prove their case, Nunavut's manager of wildlife says. "It makes a great story because it is simple and intuitive," Dr. Mitch Taylor wrote in a 12-page document for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's review of the animal's status. "However, the reality is much more complex."

The USFWS review follows a petition from the Centre for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and other groups, who want polar bears upgraded to "threatened" on the U.S. Endangered Species list. The groups say the animals' population is suffering because of climate change, development and contaminants.

While Taylor said it's expected that climate change will affect all species worldwide, that shouldn't mean governments should rush to list every one as "threatened". Delving into the patterns of polar bear eating habits, ice floe loss, population densities and other issues, Taylor downplays the overall impact of climate change. "No evidence was presented by the proponents and no evidence exists that suggests that both bears and the conservation systems that regulate them will not adapt and respond to the new conditions," he said. "Polar bears have persisted through many similar climate cycles."

He said no one is suggesting that climate change isn't affecting some polar bear populations, but noted there are 20 polar bear populations in the world and each one should be considered independently. "The references listed [in his document] suggest that each polar bear population is unique with respect to seasonal cycles, sea ice conditions, prey base, summer-retreat areas, and fidelity," he wrote. "The 20 existing populations of polar bears are not all identical to the two populations that constitute the majority of the examples in the petition.

Taylor says many of the groups filing the petition have a long history of opposing hunting. He said Canada has one of the best management systems for polar bears in the world, allowing Inuit to hunt in a sustainable manner and generating $3.5 million in Canada through sport hunts and the sale of hides. "At present, the polar bear is one of the best-managed of the large Arctic mammals," Taylor said. "If all the Arctic nations continue to abide by the terms and intent of the Polar Bear Agreement, the future of polar bears is secure."

Taylor noted the estimated number of bears on the Boothia Peninsula, 1,300 kilometres west of Iqaluit, has actually increased to 1,500 animals from 900. He said environmental groups don't seem to want to take information like that into consideration when pressing their case. "Life may be good, but good news about polar bear populations does not seem to be welcomed by the Centre for Biological Diversity," he said.

CBC News, 15 May 2006


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

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

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 May, 2006

Another stupid food scare: Coca-Cola sued over lead content

Mr "Look at me" Bill Lockyer again, also known as an enemy of potatoes etc.

The state of California and the city of Los Angeles sued drinks giant Coca-Cola Co today seeking to stop distribution of Coca-Cola made in Mexico amid concerns over its alleged lead content. The lawsuit claims that elevated levels of lead have been detected in the paint used to decorate the outside of glass Coca-Cola bottles, as well as in the fizzy drink itself. "Millions of bottles of this product have been handled and consumed by Californians over the past four years without any warning of the danger they pose," the lawsuit claimed. The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by California attorney-general Bill Lockyer and Los Angeles city lawyer Rocky Delgadillo.

Coca-Cola said in a statement that it would "vigorously defend itself" against the "outlandish allegations". "All Coca-Cola beverages, including those made in Mexico, are safe and comply with all laws," said Ray Steed, a Coca-Cola vice president of quality and technical services.

The suit also alleges that Mexican-bottled Coca-Cola is sold in large volumes in California and that company officials knew that consumers were being exposed to unsafe levels of lead from it. The Mexican-bottled version of the leading soft drink is sweeter than its US counterpart, and is imported to feed demand from the huge Mexican population in California, the suit said.

Mr Lockyer and Mr Delgadillo reached an accord with PepsiCo in April under which the main Coca-Cola competitor agreed to take steps to prevent lead-contaminated bottles from being distributed in the western state, according to the lawsuit.


P.M. Howard flags N-power

Now that Australia's Leftist opposition is divided over nukes, Howard is upping the ante

Australia may consider building nuclear power plants as an alternative source of clean energy and to combat the spiralling price of oil. Signalling a new phase in the uranium debate, John Howard has suggested the Government could issue a white paper outlining the nuclear options for Australia. But the Prime Minister cautioned that the economic case for large-scale nuclear power plants had to be made. "It may be desirable that Australia in the future builds nuclear power plants," Mr Howard told reporters in Washington, after meetings with US Energy Secretary Sam Bodman and the chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke.

Mr Howard's enthusiasm for a possible nuclear future came after he told Mr Bodman that Australia wanted to be fully consulted over plans for the big six nuclear-power countries - the US, France, China, Britain, Russia and Japan - to forge a new informal trading bloc. But Mr Howard poured cold water on suggestions Australia could become a waste dump for nuclear material from other countries, arguing that this was never contemplated. "What I indicated to (Mr Bodman) is that we would want to be kept fully informed of how this proposal developed. At this stage, Australia is a willing seller of uranium subject to the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and our own separate safeguards," he said. "We would continue to want to be in that position, but we would want to be kept informed of any progress towards formation of what could be regarded as a fuel reprocessing group."

US President George W. Bush wants a global nuclear energy partnership as part of his push to generate a viable nuclear industry, to reduce Washington's reliance on Middle East oil, and coal.

Part of the GNEP plan is for nuclear leasing, under which nuclear countries would provide enriched uranium to other countries for energy purposes, then take back the nuclear waste. With nearly 40 per cent of the world's uranium reserves, Australia will be a key player in the world nuclear talks, along with Canada, the No2 global supplier of yellowcake.

Mr Howard is clearly seeking a public debate on the future of nuclear energy in Australia, arguing that even "radical greenies" had changed their attitude on the use of enriched uranium as an energy source. "I'm attracted to Australia selling uranium to people who want to buy it, not lease it, buy it, in other parts of the world, subject to our obligations under the (nuclear non-proliferation) treaty and subject to our own safeguard arrangements - I'm in favour of that," Mr Howard said. "And I'm in favour at all times of examining whether it is in our national interest to progress the use of nuclear power in Australia. "Now obviously that would include a consideration of whether we should process the uranium here." Whether Australia goes down the nuclear road will depend on whether the process is economically viable.

China and India - and more recently Indonesia - want nuclear energy, and Mr Howard does not want Australia to fall behind in the race to satisfy the increasing demand for uranium. But it will be hard for the Government to win public support for nuclear energy, although sections of the Labor Party also back a more open debate. The Democrats said yesterday the Northern Territory could end up with "radioactive waste the rest of the world does not want". Mr Howard refused to rule out the release of a white paper on the nuclear leasing issue, with people increasingly worried about greenhouse gases.



Prime Minister Tony Blair has angered the environmental movement by pushing for new nuclear power plants in Britain as part of a drive to ensure reliable energy supplies and combat global warming. In a speech to business leaders, Blair said nuclear energy and renewables are "back on the agenda with a vengeance" after he received the first draft of an energy review by the government, which is due to be published in July. Renewables are constant sources of energy like wind, water and solar power.

"Essentially, the twin pressures of climate change and energy security are raising energy policy to the top of the agenda in the UK and around the world," Blair told the annual dinner of the Confederation of British Industry. "The facts are stark," warned the prime minister, dressed in a tuxedo. "By 2025, if current policy is unchanged there will be a dramatic gap on our targets to reduce CO2 emissions." Carbon dioxide emissions are blamed for fuelling global warming by trapping heat-retaining gases in the Earth's atmosphere.

Britain, Blair added, will become heavily dependent on gas and at the same time move from being 80-to-90 per cent self-reliant in gas to 80-to-90 per cent dependent on foreign imports, mostly from the Middle East, Africa and Russia. "These facts put the replacement of nuclear power stations, a big push on renewables and a step change on energy efficiency, engaging both business and consumers, back on the agenda with a vengeance," the prime minister said. "If we don't take these long-term decisions now we will be committing a serious dereliction of our duty to the future of this country."

Britain currently has about a dozen nuclear power stations, most of them built in the 1960s and 1970s, providing around 25 per cent of the country's electricity. Natural gas provides about 40 per cent.

Environmental groups reacted angrily to Blair's comments, released hours ahead of his speech, as they argued that Britain can meet its future energy needs and cut polluting emissions without building new nuclear power plants. Stephen Tindale, director of Greenpeace, said: "The prime minister obviously made up his mind about nuclear power some time ago, and certainly well before the government launched its energy review." Keith Allott, head of climate change for environmental group WWF-UK, echoed Tindale's remarks.....

More here


They all want other countries to bear the pain

Europe's system for trading pollution permits - hailed as a global model for cutting greenhouse gas emissions - was thrown into turmoil on Monday night after at least two member states proposed substantial and conflicting changes to the way it operates. Figures released on Monday by the European Commission showed that most member states had given their industries far too many pollution-permitting carbon credits, and risked undermining Europe's drive to cut emissions.

Germany responded by announcing that it would recall about 12m excess permits, driving carbon emission prices to a three-week high in heavy trading. But France said firms should be allowed to hold over unused permits.

Under the scheme, companies in energy-intensive industries are issued with permits for each tonne of carbon dioxide they are allowed to produce. If they want to emit more they must buy them in the market from companies with too many. The aim of the market is to ensure companies have an incentive to invest in new technology or other efficiency measures to reduce their carbon dioxide output.

But with an excess 44m tonnes in carbon allowances last year, Brussels is now under severe pressure to ensure the scheme works more effectively in its next phase from 2008 to 2012. Brussels is calling on governments to reduce their allocation of permits by an average of 6 per cent for the second phase. Governments are due to submit their plans for the second phase by June 30....

France, where industries received about 12 per cent more permits than they needed, added to yesterday's confusion by proposing that companies should be allowed to roll over permits unused in the first phase (2005-07) of the scheme.

Financial Times, 15 May 2006.


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

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

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 May, 2006


Global Insight, Inc., the private company that brought together DRI and WEFA, the world's most respected economic analysis, forecasting and financial information companies, today announced the release of its annual European Power Price Report. The report found that the impact of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), while increasing electricity prices in all major European markets, will be materially different across these countries due to their very different mixes of generating plants.

The EU ETS, scheduled for implementation in January 2005, will make it more expensive to generate electricity using carbon-emitting fuels such as oil, gas and coal by putting a price on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Despite the fact that at least 95% of the available emissions permits will be allocated free in the first phase of the scheme (2005-2007), the price at which those allowances are subsequently traded will directly affect operating decisions. As a result, the notional or opportunity costs of the emissions will still be passed through to consumers in the form of higher prices. Generators with the largest CO2 emission allowances will receive the largest revenue windfall. The size of the windfall to each generator plant will depend on the market CO2 price and the volume of emissions credits it receives against its actual emissions.

According to the study, Germany and the UK will see the largest electricity wholesale price rises, due to their strong reliance on coal plants to generate electricity, resulting in electricity prices increasing as much as 40% by 2010.

Power prices in Italy are forecast to rise 15% given current CO2 market prices but could increase by up to 30% if those prices double. The smaller forecast impact on Italian prices, when compared to those in the UK and Germany, are due to its unusual mix of zero-carbon hydropower and high-carbon oil-fired plants. Spain and the Netherlands are forecast to fare much better, with electricity prices rising only between 10% and 20% by 2010, depending on the market price for CO2. Both countries primarily rely on gas-fired low carbon emitting power generation. Spain in addition also benefits from its hydropower plants. The study also found that Italy, Spain and the Netherlands will not be able to rely on emissions reductions from their power sectors to make progress against their Kyoto obligations and will need to import their CO2 reductions from other countries.

Dr Trevor Sikorski, Head of Global Insight's Power Service observed, "The expected price rises and windfall gains of some generator plants raises a serious question: Will governments stand by and allow industrial and household consumers to pay the higher electricity rates, with the main financial beneficiaries being the power generators' shareholders? If so, the manufacturing industry will be dealt a further blow with the inevitable result of direct and indirect job losses."

A key factor shaping the power markets in the next few years will be environmental policy. The introduction of the EU ETS, the generous incentives for greater renewable power across Europe and the application of the Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD) will all have a significant impact on plant mix and the type of new plants being built. "It highlights starkly the great problems governments will face in resolving conflicts between environmental and social objectives, both of which figure very high on the electoral agenda," added Sikorski.



Climate sensitivity is defined as the average increase of the temperature of the Earth that you get (or expect) by doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere - from 0.028% in the pre-industrial era to the future value of 0.056% (expected around 2100). If you assume no feedback mechanisms and you just compute how much additional energy in the form of infrared rays emitted by (or reflected from) the surface will be absorbed by the carbon dioxide (refresh your knowledge about Earth's energy budget), you obtain the value of 1 Celsius degree for the climate sensitivity.

While the feedback mechanisms may shift the sensitivity in either direction, Prof. Richard Lindzen of MIT, a world's leader in the sensitivity issue, will convince you that the estimate is about right but the true value, with the mostly unknown feedback mechanisms, is likely to be lower. Why is it so?

You should realize that the carbon dioxide only absorbs the infrared radiation at certain frequencies, and it can only absorb the maximum of 100% of the radiation at these frequencies. By this comment, I want to point out that the "forcing" - the expected additive shift of the terrestrial equilibrium temperature - is not a linear function of the carbon dioxide concentration. Instead, the additional greenhouse effect becomes increasingly unimportant as the concentration increases: the expected temperature increase is something like

* 1.5 ( 1 - exp[-(concentration-280)/200 ppm] ) Celsius

The decreasing exponential tells you how much radiation at the critical frequencies is able to penetrate through the carbon dioxide and leave the planet. The numbers in the formula above are not completely accurate and the precise exponential form is not quite robust either but the qualitative message is reliable. When the concentration increases, additional CO2 becomes less and less important.

In particular, there exists nothing such as a "runaway effect" or a "point of no return" or a "tipping point" or any of the similar hysterical fairy-tales promoted by various Al Gores. The formula above simply does not allow you more than 1.5 Celsius degrees of warming from the CO2 greenhouse effect. Similar formulae based on the Arrhenius' law predicts a decrease of the derivative "d Temperature / d Concentration" to be a power law - not exponential decrease - but it is still a decrease.

One might also want to obtain a better formula by integrating the formula above over frequencies:


In all cases, such a possible warming distributed over centuries is certainly nothing that a person with IQ above 80 should be producing movies about.

When you substitute the concentration of 560 ppm (parts per million), you obtain something like 1 Celsius degree increase relatively to the pre-industrial era. But even if you plug in the current concentration of 380 ppm, you obtain about 0.76 Celsius degrees of "global warming". Although we have only completed about 40% of the proverbial CO2 doubling, we have already achieved about 75% of the warming effect that is expected from such a doubling: the difference is a result of the exponentially suppressed influence of the growing carbon dioxide concentration.

In reality, the increase of the temperatures since the pre-industrial era was comparable or slightly smaller than 0.76 Celsius degrees - something like 0.6 Celsius degrees. It is consistent to assume that the no-feedback "college physics" calculation of the CO2 greenhouse effect is approximately right, and if it is not quite right, it is more likely to be an overestimate rather than an underestimate, given the observed data.

The numbers and calculations above are actually not too controversial. Gavin Schmidt, a well-known alarmist from RealClimate, more or less agrees with the calculated figures, even though he adds a certain amount of fog - he selectively constructs various minor arguments that have the capacity to "tilt" the calculation above in the alarmist direction. But the figure of 1 Celsius degree - understood as a rough estimate - seems to be consistent with everything and Schmidt claims that only intellectually challenged climate scientists estimate the sensitivity to be around 5 Celsius degrees (I forgot Schmidt's exact wording).

Three weeks ago, Hegerl et al. have published a text in Nature that claims that the 95 percent confidence interval for the climate sensitivity is between 1.5 and 6.2 Celsius degrees. James Annan decided to publish a reply (with J.C. Hargreaves). As you might know, James Annan - who likes to gamble and to make bets about the global warming - is

* an alarmist who believes all kinds of crazy things about the dangerous global warming;

* a weird advocate of the Bayesian probabilistic reasoning.

However, he decided to publish a reply saying that

* the actual sensitivity is about 5 times smaller than the Hegerl et al. upper bound -- which means that the warming from the carbon dioxide won't be too interesting;

* Hegerl et al. have made errors in statistical reasoning; the error may be summarized as an application of Bayesian priors which are unscientific.

The second point means that Hegerl et al. simply use a "prior" (a dogma or a random religious preconception that is a crucial part of the Bayesian statistical reasoning) that simply allows the sensitivity to be huge a priori - and such a huge preconception is then not removed by the subsequent procedure of "Bayesian inference". Such an outcome is a typical result of Bayesian methods: garbage in, garbage out. I am convinced that the fact that Annan was able to appreciate these incorrect points of Hegerl et al. is partially a result of my educational influence on James Annan.

Nevertheless, Annan's reply was rejected by Nicki Stevens of Nature without review with the following cute justification:

"We have regretfully decided that publication of this comment as a Brief Communication Arising is not justified, as the concerns you have raised apply more generally to a widespread methodological approach, and not solely to the Hegerl et al. paper."

In other words, Annan's reply could have the ability to catch errors that influence more than one paper, and such replies are not welcome. Imagine that Nicki Stevens is the editor of "Annals der Physik" instead of Max Planck who received Albert Einstein's paper on special relativity. Even better, you can also imagine that Nicki Stevens is the editor who receives the paper on General Relativity whose insights apply more generally. ;-)

When we apply my reasoning more generally to a widespread methodological approach, we could also wonder whether the person named Nicki Stevens realized that one half of the internet was going to discuss how unusually dumb she was.

Lubos Motl's Reference Frame, 13 May 2006


Last week the Bank of England's May Inflation Report was released. As usual it contains its CPI inflation projection in the elegant form of a "fan chart". This chart comprises a series of bands fanning out from the start date and over the projection period, and includes just 90pc of all the expected outcomes, casting the remaining 10pc into limbo. The bands widen as the time horizon is extended, indicating increasing uncertainty about outcomes.

The Bank's fan chart is an exemplary attempt to display the relative probabilities of projected outcomes. Above all, it frankly acknowledges the huge uncertainties involved in any forecasting exercise and attempts to quantify them.

One would like to think the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) would take a similar approach. Alas, nothing could be further from the truth. The IPCC was set up in 1988 by two UN organisations, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Its remit is to assess the "risk of human-induced climate change" by analysing the relevant economic and scientific information.

The IPCC is composed of representatives largely appointed by governments and is led by government scientists. It does not carry out its own research but relies on peer reviewed and published literature for its reports and assessments of future developments.

The IPCC is a hugely influential organisation. It solely provides the crucial assessments of manmade climate change that inform the decisions of international policymakers on global warming. Such policy making naturally occurs within the orbit of the UN.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was initially developed at the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the first international environmental treaty aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming. It did not set mandatory emission limits or contain enforcement provisions. The significant and path-breaking Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC of 1997 "corrected" these shortcomings. Under it, signatory countries agreed to legally binding reductions in emissions averaging 6-8pc below 1990 levels for the years 2008-12.

Compliance with Kyoto is not costless. And with the prospect of a "son of Kyoto" protocol, with potentially tighter emissions targets and higher costs, it is all the more important that the IPCC's analysis of future "human-induced climate change" is relevant, accurate and, above all, robust. This is a tall, though arguably not impossible, order. But no one should underestimate the difficulties of projecting the impact of mankind's activities on the climate. This is because the links in the chain that attempt to explain the relevant relationships are horrendously complex.

There are at least five identifiable links. First, how economic activity affects greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; second, how changes in emissions alter atmospheric concentrations of GHGs; third, how altered atmospheric concentrations of GHGs impact on "radiative forcings" (changes in the balance of radiation entering and exiting the earth's atmosphere); fourth, how altered "radiative forcings" influence global temperatures; and, how these temperature changes impact on the environment and humanity with costs and benefits.

Every one of these links is riddled with uncertainty and, therefore, should be put through the discipline of a Bank of England fan-chart style of exercise when projected forward.

Given that the IPCC's analysis looks forward to 2100, compared with the Bank's modest 2009, the only conclusion that could be drawn would surely be one of overwhelming uncertainty!

The IPCC does not, however, make any pretence at following the Bank's probabilistic approach. Its analysis of "future alternatives" is based on probability-free "scenarios". In its Special Report on Emission Scenarios (2000), for example, it discussed 40 scenarios, based on a limited range of assumptions including population change, economic growth, technological change and energy usage. It concluded that temperature increases could range from 1.7 to 6.1 degrees Celsius by 2100.

More probable scenarios are given no more prominence than less probable ones. This is a killer constraint, especially as some of the biggest doubts have been expressed about the high emission scenarios.

In addition, many of the IPCC's assumptions and much of the analysis are highly questionable, not least because of the probable influence of "political factors".*

The IPCC's analysis, on which major international policy makers depend, is quite simply inadequate. And its position as monopoly supplier of official climate change wisdom must be challenged by individual governments. More rigorous analysis is needed. It's time to "call time" on the IPCC.

The Daily Telegraph, 15 May 2006


Polar bears are cute. Just ask the marketing executives at Coca-Cola which used animated polar bears to hawk their wares in recent years. Bears, pandas, lions and elephants are "charismatic megafauna" -- meaning basically cute animals that people care about. If you want to sell a product, or a cause, just tie it to one of these animals and you've got the attention of millions of people; kids and adults alike.

Thus, environmental alarmists have made much of research claiming the Arctic's great white bear faces extinction from human-caused global warming. Snails, snakes and spiders withering in the sun just don't pack the same emotional punch as a cuddly, furry polar bear slipping beneath the melting ice.

Fortunately, a new study by David Legates, director of the University of Delaware's Center for Climatic Research, throws cold water on the claim global warming threatens polar bears survival.

Mr. Legates critiques the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment that proclaimed Arctic air temperature trends strongly indicate global warming, causing polar ice caps and glaciers to melt. However, Mr. Legates says, the Assessment ignored data that undermine these claims.

For example, coastal stations in Greenland are cooling and average summer air temperatures at the summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet have decreased by 4 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since measurements began in 1987. In addition, records from Russian coastal stations show the extent and thickness of sea ice has varied greatly over 60- to 80-year periods during the last 125 years. Moreover, the maximum air temperature they report for the 20th century was in 1938, when it was nearly four-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit warmer than the air temperature in 2000.

Ice core data from Baffin Island and sea core sediments from the Chukchi Sea also show that even if there is warming, it has occurred before. In Alaska, the onset of a climatic shift -- a warming -- in 1976-1977 ended the multidecade cold trend in the mid-20th century returning temperatures to those of the early 20th century.

In addition, a study commissioned by Canada's Fisheries and Oceans Department examined the relationship between air temperature and sea ice coverage, concluding, "the possible impact of global warming appears to play a minor role in changes to Arctic sea ice."

According to the Arctic Assessment the threat to polar bears is threefold: changes in rainfall or snowfall amounts or patterns could affect the ability of bears primary prey species (seals) to successfully reproduce; decreased sea ice could result in greater number of polar bears drowning or living more on land, negatively affecting their diet by forcing them to use their fat stores prior to hibernation; and unusual warm spells could cause the collapse of winter dens or force more bears into less desirable den areas.

Though uniquely adapted to the Arctic, polar bears are not wedded solely to its coldest parts nor a specific Arctic diet. Aside from a variety of seals, they eat fish, kelp, caribou, ducks, sea birds, the occasional beluga whale and musk ox and scavenged whale and walrus carcasses.

Interestingly, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has also written on the threats posed to polar bears from global warming. But, their own data on polar bear populations contradict claims that rising air temperatures are causing a decline in polar bear populations.

According to the WWF there are some 22,000 polar bears in about 20 distinct populations worldwide. Only two bear populations -- accounting for about 16.4 percent of the total -- are decreasing, and they are in areas where air temperatures have actually fallen, such as the Baffin Bay region. By contrast, another two populations -- about 13.6 percent of the total number -- are growing and they live in areas were air temperatures have risen, near the Bering Strait and the Chukchi Sea.

As for the rest, 10 populations -- comprising about 45.4 percent of the total -- are stable, and the status of the remaining six is unknown. Conclusion: based on the available evidence there is little reason to believe the current warming trend will lead to extinction of polar bears.

These bears have survived for thousands of years, during both colder and warmer periods, and their populations are by and large in good shape. Polar bears may face many threats, but global warming is not primary among them. Global warming alarmists are like the wizard of Oz, asking the public fear the spectacle, but not to pull back the curtain and unmask them for the charlatans they are.

The Washington Times, 15 May 2006


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

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

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 May, 2006


CO2 "pollution" is up but what about the temperature increase it is supposed to cause? See if you can find a mention of temperature in the article below. Also note that ozone destruction is said to have been falling steadily but no mention of whether the supposedly-related Antarctic "hole" has been shrinking. It hasn't of course. If the "cause" does not produce the effect it is supposed to, what does that tell you about the "cause"?

Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and some other greenhouse gases grew at record rates last year, a CSIRO scientist said today. But some of the worst ozone-depleting gases in the atmosphere had showed a drop in the past eight years, Paul Fraser, from CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, said. The results of the testing at the Cape Grim meteorological station in Tasmania will feature at a climate meeting in Sydney tomorrow.

Dr Fraser said carbon dioxide grew by two parts per million (0.54 per cent) in 2005, the fourth year in a row of above-average growth. "To have four years in a row of above-average carbon dioxide growth is unprecedented," Dr Fraser said. "In addition, the trend over recent years suggests the growth rate is accelerating." He said the 30-year record of air collected at the Cape Grim observation station showed growth rates of just over one part per million in the early 1980s but, in recent years, carbon dioxide had increased at almost twice this rate. "This is a clear signal that fossil fuels are having an impact on greenhouse gas concentrations in a way we haven't seen in the past," Dr Fraser said.

Synthetic greenhouse gases, including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), displayed a strong increasing trend. Dr Fraser said the highest growth rate, a seven parts a 1000 billion or 5.3 per cent increase, was recorded in 2005. Nitrous oxide also showed an increasing growth rate, growing by about one part per billion, or 0.3 per cent, in 2005.

Dr Fraser said there was some good news for the atmosphere. "Concentrations of methane, the second most important gas responsible for the enhanced greenhouse effect, have not grown for six years," he said. "In fact, the past two years have shown slight decreases in methane, the first time we have seen this." While the reason for decrease was not certain, Dr Fraser suggested it might be due to better management of the exploration and use of natural gas, leading to less leakage.

There also was good news for the ozone hole. "Ozone depleting gases have been decreasing since 1997," Dr Fraser says. "The fall in concentrations has continued in 2005, so we have seen a decline in concentration of ozone-depleting gases for nine years now."


Hooray! Losses lead to Greenpeace job cuts

That a largely nuisance organization survives at all is the pity -- when there are so many real conservation problems (like soil erosion and salinity) that need every attention

Conservation giant Greenpeace Australia Pacific has posted its third operating loss in as many years and culled staff numbers. Greenpeace chief executive Steve Shallhorn admitted yesterday the organisation had been forced to make 12 full-time staff members out of 80 redundant this year in a belt-tightening exercise aimed at balancing the budget. The organisation's financial report for 2005 shows it raised more than $17 million last year from supporters, almost $4million more than in 2004, but recorded a net loss of $907,000. In 2004, Greenpeace Australia was $1.2 million in the red.

According to the audited financial statement, the losses were a result of "additional investment in fundraising", an investment which Greenpeace believes has stemmed the decline in new supporter numbers over recent years. Mr Shallhorn defended the losses, saying they were planned as the organisation drew down and spent cash reserves of almost $4million. "Over three years we had the ability to spend more money on campaigns than we earned because we were drawing down reserves," he said. "This year we're moving to a balanced budget."

He admitted that Greenpeace had also wound down some campaigns and shifted others overseas under a new agreement with Greenpeace International that would see 25per cent of all the Australia Pacific arm's fundraising go offshore. Greenpeace Australia already contributes 18 per cent of its revenues to Greenpeace International each year. From next year, that contribution will rise by an additional 7 per cent in order to fund new Greenpeace offices in countries such as China, India, Thailand, Indonesia and China. "Greenpeace offices have agreed to a phenomenon known as the Global Resource Allocation where the larger offices set aside a proportion of their fundraising to be spent on campaigns in the developing world," Mr Shallhorn said. As a result, more money would be diverted to campaigning against the rapid deforestation of Melanesia, Papua New Guinea and The Amazon as well as unsustainable fishing practices in the Pacific. He said no further redundancies would be required to fund those projects.

"The last year or so has been very good for Greenpeace and we have grown the number of supporters and as 2005 financial statements show, we're raising more money each year," Mr Shallhorn said. "If anything we're finding the current climate relatively easy to get Australians to support our work and attracted an additional 1500 supporters in the last six months." Around one million Euros were spent on Greenpeace's anti-whaling campaign in January this year that saw numerous high-seas confrontations with Japanese whaling boats, but that money came from the Greenpeace International budget, a Greenpeace Australia Pacific spokeswoman said last night.



Augie Auer is irritated. The former Met Service chief meteorologist is irked by the bad science that has gone into the dire predictions about the effects of man-made global warming on the planet. Professor Auer, of Auckland, past professor of atmospheric science at the University of Wyoming, is part of a group of leading climate scientists who have formed the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, aimed at refuting what it believes are unfounded claims about man-made global warming.

In fact, he says, if we didn't have the greenhouse effect, the planet would be 33deg C colder than it is now. "The average temperature of the planet is about plus 15 deg C, it would be minus 18 deg C if we didn't have the effect of the greenhouse warming."

He said the whole history of global warming dated back to about the 1980s and he partly blames the media and partly scientists for the fears that have been raised. Some journalists were "a bit scientific illiterate" and when scientists put out the results of what their computer modelling effort would suggest, it was usually worst-case scenarios that were reported. "It was usually an envelope of figures, one which said the planet could warm 6 deg in the next 100 years and the other end of the envelope was perhaps half a deg in 100 years.

"And you know which one would be quoted," said Prof Auer. "And the scientists were, I feel, in some respects, to blame because they never came forward and said wait a minute, you took that out of context, you know there's another end to it here."

That in turn started a rather insidious triangle in which maintaining that high danger, that crisis environment, drove the research funding, he said. "Crises are what always drives the funding."

More here


A new paper by Smith et al, (Abstract below) suggests that there has been no global increase in water vapour content, undermining an important IPCC claim that the warming effect of CO2 is magnified by increased atmospheric water vapour:

Variations in annual global precipitation (1979-2004), based on the Global Precipitation Climatology Project 2.5 analysis

By Thomas M. Smith et al.


The Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) has produced a combined satellite and in situ global precipitation estimate, beginning 1979. The annual average GPCP estimates are here analyzed over 1979-2004 to evaluate the large-scale variability over the period. Data inhomogeneities are evaluated and found to not be responsible for the major variations, including systematic changes over the period. Most variations are associated with El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) episodes. There are also tropical trend-like changes over the period, correlated with interdecadal warming of the tropical SSTs and uncorrelated with ENSO. Trends have spatial variations with both positive and negative values, with a global-average near zero.



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 May, 2006

You Never Can Tell

When figuring out what to do about the overall energy situation, or predicting the future, I confess to having some degree of modesty. Looking at all the bad predictions from smart people in the past, it's easy to be less than confident when it comes to forecasting what's going to happen 10 and 50 years from now with oil, solar batteries, wave power, ethanol, Chinese motoring, hybrid cars, nuclear power, energy wars, windmills, bicycle sales, wood chips, melting glaciers or switch grass. Here, for example, are some of the more notable predictions from experts on things a lot less complicated than today's energy issues.

Explained David Sarnoff, general manager of RCA, in 1955, "Television will never be a medium of entertainment." Interestingly, that lack of vision sounded not unlike the advice Sarnoff received three decades earlier from his associates when he recommended investments in radio. "The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value," they advised, regarding the potential for radio advertising. "Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"

In 1929, on the eve of the greatest stock market crash in American history, Irving Fisher, professor of economics at Yale University, predicted a long stretch of smooth sailing. "Stocks," he advised, "have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."

Two years earlier in Hollywood, as talkies were being introduced into America's theaters, movie tycoon H.M. Warner of Warner Brothers showed he wasn't much of a prophet. "Who the hell," he asked, "wants to hear actors talk?"

In 1869, Charles Darwin envisaged an unruffled reception for his new book, The Origin of the Species: "I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious sensibilities of anyone."

In turning down the Beatles for a recording contract in 1962, the music whiz kids at Decca Recording Co. explained, "We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."

In 1966, Business Week ventured a prediction regarding the impact of Japanese automobiles in the American marketplace: "The Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big slice of the U.S. market."

In 1977, Ken Olson, founder and president of Digital Equipment Corp., issued a forecast about the future of the computer business: "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." Popular Mechanics, three decades earlier, couldn't visualize how a future computer could even fit in a house, even if people wanted one: "Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons."

Even for Albert Einstein, forecasting was a tricky business. "There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable," he proclaimed in 1932. "It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will."

Getting it wrong three times in three short sentences, was British scientist William Thomson, knighted in 1866 for his scientific expertise and best known as the king of Victorian physics: "Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax."

In the 1950s, after the successful launch of Sputnik I, the world's first artificial satellite, the Soviet Union was widely viewed as the scientific and military powerhouse of the future.

In 1975, regarding global climate changes, Newsweek saw a day when polar bears would be snowboarding into Manhattan. "The central fact is that after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the Earth's climate seems to be cooling down," it warned. "The present temperature decline has taken the planet about a sixth of the way toward the Ice Age average."

Satellite photos showed "a sudden, large increase in Northern Hemisphere snow cover in the winter of 1971-72," reported Newsweek, as well as drops in global temperatures and declines in the amount of sunshine reaching the ground in the United States.

The predicted consequence was more ice and a "drastic decline" in food output. "Meteorologists," warned Newsweek, are "almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century."

What's clear from the aforementioned miscalculations is that it's easy to introduce personal biases and fears into an analysis, and, more importantly, easy to underestimate the entrepreneurial and inventive spirit of human beings when it comes to problem solving.


Environmental Preservation: A Matter of Property

The study of the laws of economics has been greatly aided by the development of the idea of the evenly rotating economy (ERE) as an artificial construct wherein the world is held constant in a changeless and endless round of the same repetitive, mindless activities and transactions.

As Ludwig von Mises described it, ".in the evenly rotating economy there is no choosing and the future is not uncertain as it does not differ from the present known state. Such a rigid system is not peopled with living men making choices and liable to error; it is a world of soulless unthinking automatons; it is not a human society, it is an ant hill."

Environmentalists, it seems, have their own version of the ERE. The major difference is that environmentalists hold the evenly rotating environmental economy (EREE) to be real, and not as an artificial construct to look at exact conditions. Under the EREE, by holding the environment and all the processes it goes through as unchanging, the environmentalist can then readily blame the entirety of environmental changes on "greedy" human action. This is perhaps the single greatest fallacy of the environmentalist movement.

The EREE, then, like the ERE, is a convenience, though, without which we cannot apply economics to understand the real world in which we find ourselves. Unlike the EREE or the ERE, the real world is one of flux, of change, where entrepreneurial activity flourishes, interest rates rise and fall, and people come to value different goods differently at various times, the winds blow from different directions on some days, floods occur periodically, all of which show that while the environment may exhibit some broad general patterns, these patterns are not continual. We do not see rain hit the same places in the same amounts on the exact same time on the exact same days every year just as we do not see the same movements in interest rates every year.

The social sciences cannot function as a laboratory science, and this is where the ERE needs careful handling. Human nature cannot allow for all things to be held equal. Obviously, then, the environment is limited by similar constraints; it too is a dynamic place. All weather save wind cannot be held equal to see the effect it may have on the Earth; the environment is a complex, ever-changing matrix, much like that of the market economy, which, like the environment may be said to exhibit general broad patterns at times, but without a endless continuation of the same activities.

When human action is curtailed by government regulation, then economic activity goes "underground." This is another way of saying that a free market has been established in defiance of a regulated market backed by threats of government involvement. If the environment were, in a sense, "regulated" or interfered with by human emissions of pollutants, then the environment would surely adapt and continue on in its operations, much in the manner of those who make exchanges on black markets. To assume that the environment is incapable of dynamic change overlooks how our present hydrogen-oxygen atmosphere developed.

If the EREE is true as environmentalists insist, then we find that humanity is responsible for dire environmental changes. How, then, the well-meaning environmentalist asks, can the environment be "protected" from the excesses of human action? The answer, it should be obvious, is property rights. But, to the environmentalist, this is not the obvious answer, so a comparison of property rights in a hypothetical free market to empirically-proven conditions under the Soviet Union to see how the environment fares under each should provide a basis for making rational decisions regarding the role of property rights, and, as a corollary, government intervention.

Property Rights: In the Home of the Free

Murray Rothbard ingeniously solved the problem of air pollution that environmentalists quibble about endlessly. His argument for private property inclusive of air over a piece of land solves, among other things, the problem of pollution. "In so far as the outpouring of smoke by factories pollutes the air and damages the persons or property of others, it is an invasive act. Air pollution, then is not an example of a defect in a system of absolute property rights, but of failure on the part of the government to preserve property rights." If property rights include the right to modify the air over one's land, then one may pollute so long as this pollution does not spill over into the air space of another. This is an outright impossibility given the flow of air; and many cunning ways can be developed to prevent emissions from getting into the air, anywhere from storing emissions in bottles to finding ways to convert emissions into water vapor, thus alleviating the problem. Emissions, the bane of environmentalists, would be significantly reduced on a free market, as individuals who do emit pollutants could face legal action by their victims.

The free market solution, then, is based on rational calculation by the individual as to the best use of the environment under his control. The incentives to preserve and protect such environment are sensible: preserving an asset is preferable to squandering it. But, in all their recommendations to adapt society such that economic activity has less of an impact on the environment, environmentalists make no mention of property rights of air and water as developed by Rothbard. Instead, environmentalists advocate a myriad of concepts from tax breaks on hybrid cars to trading emissions between companies to meet government regulation on maximum emissions output. No matter how close to a "market" solution, these recommendations do modify property rights, sometimes blatantly, such as the alleged right to "pollute" implied by the existence of emissions trading, and the more subtle forms such as behavior modification through aforementioned tax breaks. These concepts, all of which involve government regulation to achieve the goals of the environmentalists, lead to one important question: is rational economic calculation under environmentalism possible?.....


It seems, then, that environmentalism has become the last refuge of the socialist and leftist scoundrel; by holding to the theoretical EREE to place the blame for environmental changes on human activities such as the driving of automobiles, they are in a far better position to advocate eradication of private modes of transportation in favor of public transportation under such criteria as the 'environmentally friendly' solution.

But the solution to what? To the personal enjoyment and freedom that comes with owning a car? This is hardly a solution at all; merely the imposition of arbitrary values supposedly backed by an alleged compassion for the environment with, at best, shaky scientific theories in support. If individuals are stripped of the ability to use the environment to further their own ends to the point where sustenance becomes an issue, then they will have no choice but to succumb to government for their sustenance; some will hear the siren-song of "free" housing, health care, etc., far before they reach that breaking point. The choice, then, is a clear echo of the choice between socialism and capitalism: the environment, or civilization.

As we have seen, only property rights can instill the necessary desire to be respectful and resourceful with environmental assets. The logical implication is that as the standard of living rises in a country, so the treatment and appreciation of natural resources in that country will rise.

Government modifications of property rights in the name of environmental protection will only cause a decline in the standard of living; clearly "tragedy of the commons" is not a phrase in the environmentalist lexicon. No matter which way environmentalism turns, as long as it retains its socialist ambitions and accepts the EREE as true, then the successful implementation of environmentalist policies will serve to make the environment worse over time.

More here

Critique of the IPCC

By David Henderson

(An excerpt from a text which formed the basis for a talk given in Stockholm on 5 May 2006 at a meeting convened by Timbro)

I think that their lordships were justified in voicing concerns about the IPCC. I believe that there are good reasons to query the claims to authority and representative status that are made by and on behalf of the Panel, and hence to question the virtual monopoly that it now holds.

To begin with, the principle of creating a single would-be authoritative fount of wisdom is itself open to doubt. Even if the IPCC process were indisputably and consistently rigorous, objective and professionally watertight, it is imprudent for governments to place exclusive 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.

In any case, the ideal conditions have not been realised. The IPCC process is far from being a model of rigour, inclusiveness and impartiality. In this connection, there are several related aspects that I would emphasise.

First, the Panel's treatment of economic issues is flawed. Writings that feature in the Third Assessment Report contain what many economists and economic statisticians would regard as basic errors, showing a lack of awareness of relevant published sources; and the same is true of more recent IPCC-related writings, as also of material published by the UNEP. In this area, the IPCC milieu is neither fully competent nor adequately representative.[4]

Second, the built-in process of peer review, which the IPCC and member governments view as a guarantee of quality and reliability, does not adequately serve this purpose, for two reasons.

* Reason No. 1 is that providing for peer review is no safeguard against dubious assumptions, arguments and conclusions if the peers are largely drawn from the same restricted professional milieu.

* Reason No. 2 is that the peer review process as such, here as elsewhere, may be insufficiently rigorous. Its main purpose is to elicit expert advice on whether a paper is worth publishing in a particular journal. Because it does not normally go beyond this, peer review does not typically guarantee that data and methods are open to scrutiny or that results are reproducible.

Third, in response to criticisms that have been made of published and peer-reviewed work that the IPCC has drawn on, the authors concerned have failed to make full and voluntary disclosure of data and sources. A leading instance is that of the celebrated 'hockey-stick' diagram, which was prominently displayed and drawn on in the Third Assessment Report and afterwards. Probably no single piece of alleged evidence relating to climate change has been so widely cited and influential. The authors concerned failed to make due disclosure of data and sources, and neither the publishing journals nor the IPCC required them to do so As a result, fundamental errors and evidence of deficient statistical properties were concealed until very recently.[5]

Fourth, the response of the Panel's directing circle and milieu to informed criticism has typically been inadequate or dismissive. A recent instance of such behaviour is the official response by the British government to the report from the House of Lords Select Committee, which does little credit to the department concerned.[6] Within the scientific community, as Richard Lindzen has noted, these dismissive attitudes have sometimes gone together with a disturbing intolerance of dissenting views and ideas.

Fifth, I believe that both the Panel's directing circle and the IPCC milieu more generally are characterised by an endemic bias towards alarmist assessments and conclusions. Again, this situation has been described by Lindzen. Let me add here a pertinent observation made by two German academics, one of them, Hans von Storch, a well known climate scientist. They have made the point that, in the context of climate change, 'Scientific research faces a crisis because its public figures are overselling the issues to gain attention in a hotly contested market for newsworthy information'.[7]

Largely because of the alarmist propensities of the IPCC milieu and its various allies, the treatment of climate change issues by environmental and scientific journalists and commentators across the world is overwhelmingly one-sided and sensationalist. Perhaps this is to be expected, since horror stories make good copy. All the same, it is unfortunate that in such stories non-alarmist studies and results are typically played down or disregarded, while the lack of knowledge and the huge uncertainties which still loom large in climate science are passed over. This chronic bias on the part of so many commentators is in itself a matter for concern; but even more worrying, to my mind, is the fact that leading figures and agencies connected with the IPCC process do little or nothing to ensure that a more balanced picture is presented. Some of them have become accomplices of alarmism.

Alarmist attitudes and presumptions in relation to world issues, together with a fondness for radical so-called 'solutions', have a long history: they go back well before climate change issues came into prominence, and hence predate the creation of the IPCC. They have been characteristic of the Panel's sponsoring departments and agencies, and in particular of the UNEP and the ministries which are responsible for it. From the outset, the IPCC's links with what I have termed global salvationism have affected its capacity and readiness to treat the issues objectively.

To sum up: the IPCC process, which is widely taken to be objective, representative and authoritative, is in fact deeply flawed: I would describe it as tainted. Professionally, in spite of its scale, pretensions and reputation, it is not up to the mark

The moral to be drawn. From this conclusion I draw two related morals, one general and the other specific.

The general moral, and my main single message today, is this. In relation to climate change, the overriding present need is to build up a sounder basis than now exists for reviewing and assessing the issues. A process should be established, for informing and advising governments and public opinion alike, which is more objective, more representative and more balanced than that which the IPCC has built up and shown itself unwilling to change.

Specifically and immediately, the need is to present a more effective challenge to the current IPCC process and its outcomes, with special reference to AR4.


Was it primitive hunters or climate change that caused the extinction of most of the earth's large animals? The Greenies like to say that the noble savages could not have done it and it must have been caused by climate change. The evidence however points the other way -- as Tim Flannery (a frantic Greenie on many other issues) points out most succinctly below:

Extinction of megafauna is almost a global phenomenon. Most of the world's continents and islands have lost the larger members of their fauna at some time over the last 50,000 years. Africa is the only continent which has not suffered significant extinctions.

In answering the question 'Why is this so?', I propose that people caused the extinction of megafauna' in a blitzkrieg-like fashion. This theory is based on the world-wide pattern of extinctions for the following reasons:

Firstly, the most important points about the extinction of megafauna are associated with timing. Megafauna became extinct up to 50,000 years ago in Australia and New Guinea, around 10,900 years ago in North (and presumably South) America, about 1500 years ago in Madagascar, and between 900 and 600 years ago in New Zealand. This pattern closely follows the current chronology of human expansion around the world.

Secondly, megafauna are the biggest and slowest animals in the environment. These kinds of animals are very vulnerable to hunting, but not to climate change. As people did not arrive in Africa, but evolved there, the evolution of our human ancestors from scavengers into skilled hunters happened slowly, allowing the ecosystem and its abundant megafauna time to adjust. However, that did not happen elsewhere. The extinction of megafauna was most extreme in places where humans arrived as already skilled hunters.

Other evidence to support a human-caused extinction includes the relatively recent extinction of megafauna, such as those in South Africa after 1820, when rifles were introduced. With this kind of weaponry, humans can clearly exterminate large mammals and other defenceless species.

Australasia's megafauna were once very diverse. Some species lived in the eternally wet rainforests of Papua New Guinea, while others lived in the driest deserts. The other theory of megafauna extinction that is based on climate change must argue that extinction could have happened at almost any time in the last 50,000 years, whether the climate has been warm and wet or cold and dry, or any combination in between. Under this scenario, it is my opinion that the influence of climate on megafauna extinction was so weak that it must have been negligible.



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 May, 2006


Some excerpts from a most amusing article below -- an article which does the usual brainless straight-line extrapolation from recent trends. In the very last paragraph we see just how brainless that is however. It reveals that the Artic seas were more open in 1906 than they are now! Greenie thinking really does rot the brain!

How fast is the ice cap melting?

The size of the summer polar ice cap has shrunk 20 percent since 1979, reaching its smallest size last year. With average temperatures in the Arctic rising twice as fast as elsewhere in the world, climate scientists predict the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free by the summer of 2050. In place of the white wilderness that killed explorers and defeated navigators for centuries, the world would have a blue North Pole and a seasonally open sea nearly five times the size of the Mediterranean. Last August, a Russian vessel, the Akademik Fyodorov, became the first ship to reach the North Pole without having to use an icebreaker.

Who stands to lose from all this?

The melting of the ice could shut down the Gulf Stream and wreak havoc with the world's coasts and climate. It would spell potential disaster for traditional Arctic communities, for ecosystems, and for plant and animal species-polar bears would drown or starve, and the species could become extinct. But fish would prosper. Warming Arctic waters are already creating new fishing grounds as fish migrate and adapt to new conditions. Pink salmon have been seen spawning in rivers far to the north of their traditional territory.

Who stands to gain?

The melting ice cap represents a colossal commercial opportunity. Russian icebreakers are already preparing to take tourists to the Pole for $30,000 each this summer, and the thaw could open up some highly lucrative shipping routes. A northeast sea route, north of Siberia, would allow shipping to sail from Europe to northeast Asia, cutting the journey by a third; and the fabled Northwest Passage through Canada's Arctic archipelago could be open to shipping in a few decades, cutting the journey from Europe to East Asia (now routed through the Panama Canal) by 4,000 miles. The greatest profits, however, are likely to be found under the ice.

What is being discovered there?

Oil and natural gas. A quarter of the world's untapped fossil fuels (including 375 billion barrels of oil) are thought to lie under the Arctic, and will become accessible as the ice melts. Industry experts now talk of a "black gold rush," as companies such as BP Amoco, Statoil of Norway, and the Russian giant Gasprom all race to tap already discovered reservoirs in the region. The Arctic, says Moscow-based energy analyst Christopher Weafer, "is the next energy frontier." .....

A passage across the Arctic

For hundreds of years, European explorers tried to open up new trade routes to China and Japan by using the fabled Northwest Passage through the polar coast of Canada. British mariner Martin Frobisher tried three times to get to Cathay the cold way. On his third voyage, in 1578, he sailed into Hudson Strait between the Canadian mainland and Baffin Island and ran into "a sudden and terrible tempest, whereby the ice began marvelously to gather about us." Frobisher returned to Britain defeated. The Northwest Passage claimed its most famous victim in 1845 when Sir John Franklin and 134 men, in his ships Erebus and Terror, were spotted by the crew of a whaler entering Baffin Bay. They were never seen alive again.

Finally, in 1906, Norwegian Roald Amundsen managed to sail right through. Learning from Franklin's fatal error, he realized the Arctic regions could not support large crews, and accomplished the feat with just six companions in a small, 47-ton fishing boat. Since then only a few, specially strengthened ships have made it through the mighty ice barriers that block the route even in summer. That all may soon change, as the ice melts into an open, wind-swept sea.

More here

What is that Suckling Sound?

Comment by Laer of Cheat Seeking Missiles

In the latest propaganda bomb from Kieran Suckling's Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), the litigation-driven organization that has expressed the desire to depopulate the American West, made the following statement: "The Bush administration has the worst record of protecting the nation's wildlife of any modern presidency and will go to any length to avoid protecting the nation's wildlife."

Nice rhetoric, but it's just not true. The statement was made in conjunction with CBD's lawsuit demanding that 263 species currently on the candidate list for consideration under the federal Endangered Species Act immediately be moved forward toward listing. Of the 263 candidate species, five have been added to the list during the Bush Administration. That means that other presidents, dating all the way back to Gerald Ford's administration, have seen their terms come and go without acting on 258 of the 263 species.

So why the blame on Bush? Could it be because he's cut funding for listing species? Nope. He's increased funding for species listings.

Could it be that the Fish & Wildlife Service is so tied up fighting more than 20 ESA lawsuits filed by CBD that it has neither the staff time nor the budget to proceed with listings? That's exactly what's happening. While professing that ESA is a great success, Suckling's legions of lawyers is on a mission to destroy the ESA. Here's the proof:


Faced with mounting numbers of court orders from six years of litigation, the Interior Department's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will soon run out of funds to designate critical habitat for threatened and endangered species, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Craig Manson said today.

More important, the flood of court orders requiring critical habitat designations is undermining endangered species conservation by compromising the Service's ability to protect new species . Manson said. .

"The Endangered Species Act is broken. This flood of litigation over critical habitat designation is preventing the Fish and Wildlife Service from protecting new species and reducing its ability to recover plants and animals already listed as threatened or endangered," Manson said. "Imagine an emergency room where lawsuits force the doctors to treat sprained ankles while patients with heart attacks expire in the waiting room and you've got a good picture of our endangered species program right now."

The President's FY 2004 budget request for listing totals nearly $12.3 million, an amount that, if approved by Congress, is almost double the $6.2 million appropriated in FY 2000 and a 35 percent increase over FY 2003. [The 2005 budget proposed adding another $5.0 million for listing activities.]


By David Henderson, Royal Economic Society, Newsletter, April 2006

Last year we published (Issues 128, 129 and 130) three pieces dealing with economic issues relating to climate change and the treatment of these issues by governments. In the note that follows David Henderson reports and comments on recent developments in this area.

Economic issues relating to climate change were highlighted in July last year by the publication of a report on 'The economics of climate change' from the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs. A notable feature of the report is that the Committee voiced concerns about the role and conduct of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC is the chosen instrument of governments in relation to all aspects of climate change, and its work is widely taken to be objective and authoritative. It is all the more striking that a group of eminent, experienced and responsible persons, drawn from a national legislative body and spanning the political spectrum, with the help of an internationally recognised expert adviser and after taking and weighing evidence, issued a considered and unanimous report in which the work and role of the Panel are put in question.

The British government's official response to the Select Committee report took almost five months to appear. It is largely dismissive, and in particular it rejects in toto the line taken by the Committee on the IPCC. In my view this response does little credit to the responsible department. It serves as a further illustration of precisely those aspects of the IPCC process and milieu which prompted the Committee's concerns.

Going beyond the response, the government has set up a full-scale official inquiry by the Cabinet Office and the Treasury into the economics of climate change, under the direction of Sir Nicholas Stern and due to be completed in the autumn of this year. The Stern Review's website is now well stocked. Recent additions to it are (i) three documents issued as the first fruits of the Review process, including a major lecture by Sir Nicholas, and (ii) various comments that have been made on these.

In the latter category, nine of us have sent in a collective radical critique of the three Review documents. We conclude by saying that '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.' Among their omissions - as distinct from mistakes which are also to be found - these documents make no reference to the debates of recent years on the IPCC's treatment of economic issues, and do not mention the Select Committee report.

Recent contributions to the debate have served to bring out a basic difference of opinion among economists. One school of thought, as represented in a statement of last December by 25 leading American economists including three Nobel prizewinners, as also in the Stern Review documents, holds that (to quote the latter) 'the overwhelming weight of scientific opinion supports the view that climate change represents a real and growing threat', so that 'strong action has to be taken quite soon' to limit greenhouse gas emissions. On this view, the role, procedures and conclusions of the IPCC, as also of environment departments and agencies across the world, are implicitly treated as beyond serious question; 'the science' is seen as providing a firm basis for far-reaching programmes of action.

As against this, the view which I and others have come to hold is that governments are mishandling issues which remain subject to huge uncertainties. The IPCC process, to which they have assigned a virtual monopoly, is deeply and increasingly flawed, both in its treatment of economic aspects and more generally. Rather than pursuing as a matter of urgency ambitious targets for curbing emissions, governments should take steps, the sooner the better, to ensure that they are more fully and more objectively informed and advised in matters relating to climate change. This requires action on two fronts: first, to improve the IPCC process by making it more professionally watertight; and second, to bring to an end the IPCC's monopoly status by providing for other sources of information and ideas.

Air purifiers make smog: "Here's how to create your own personal Stage 2 Smog Alert: Buy an indoor air purifier. Using a popular process called ionization, the air cleaners can actually generate ozone levels in a room that exceed the worst smog days in Los Angeles, a new study finds. The devices are popular in urban areas. They are touted as getting rid of dust, pollen and other airborne particles. Ionic air purifiers, one type of these devices, are said to work by charging airborne particles and then attracting them to metal electrodes. They emit ozone as a byproduct of this ionization process. In a small and poorly ventilated room, the ozone adds to existing ozone and creates potentially unhealthy concentrations. "People operating air purifiers indoors are more prone to being exposed to ozone levels in excess of public health standards," said study leader Sergey Nizkorodov, a chemistry professor the University of California, Irvine. The research, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, was announced today and is detailed in the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association. Ozone high in the atmosphere protects Earth from damaging ultraviolet radiation. Down here, it is called smog. Ozone can damage the lungs and cause shortness of breath and throat irritation, and it can also exacerbate asthma."

House passes $10 million hydrogen prize: "Scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs will be able to vie for a grand prize of $10 million, and smaller prizes reaching millions of dollars, under House-passed legislation to encourage research into hydrogen as an alternative fuel. Legislation creating the 'H-Prize,' modeled after the privately funded Ansari X Prize that resulted last year in the first privately developed manned rocket to reach space twice, passed the House Wednesday on a 416-6 vote. A companion bill is to be introduced in the Senate this week."


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is 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 May, 2006


Direct distillation of ethanol from sugar-cane juice (as in Brazil) is the only practical method of ethanol production. If America can import oil in tankers from Arab countries, why can it not import ethanol in tankers from Australia? Australia has huge areas of under-used tropical cropland

I cringe when the urban newspapers casually say that we can make "lots of our auto fuel" such as ethanol from cornstalks and wheat straw. It ain't so. If we turn the crop stalks into ethanol, we'll have the only problem that could be bigger than an energy shortage--a topsoil shortage. That would throw the First World's societies into the same sort of downward hunger and erosion spiral that bad farming has already forced upon Africa.

The good news is that American farms are fully sustainable for the first time in history--precisely because they're putting their crop residues back on the soil surface in no-till farming systems. The corn stalks and wheat straw form billions of tiny dams on the soil surface, which prevent howling winds and explosive raindrops from carrying soil particles away. The stalks left on the soil surface in no-till farming also guarantee a year-round supply of food for subsoil microbes and earthworms. Thus the subsoil critters proliferate, aerating the soil, and permitting rainfall to sink in, rather than running off. That protects the crop roots from drought, even as it protects the streams from silt and pollution.

In 1999, Hurricane Floyd lashed crop fields in Virginia with up to 19 inches of rain in 24 hours--and without any runoff or erosion on no-till fields. In the highly erodable Loess Hills of the upper Mississippi, soil erosion today is only 6 percent of what it was during the "black blizzards" of the 1930's Dust Bowl days, thanks largely to fertilizer, crop rotation, and low-till farming. If we turn the crop stalks into ethanol, however, it's back to serious erosion problems.

The current energy bill mandates the production of 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol per year. That would force America to use 22 percent of its corn crop to supply 4 percent of its auto fuel--without bringing down the price of gasoline. The current subsidy is 51 cents per gallon of ethanol. However, since ethanol contains 15 percent less energy than gasoline, the real subsidy is 77 cents per gallon worth of gasoline.

More to the point, America's farmers sold record amounts of corn last year for corn flakes, tacos, and livestock feed. With both population and incomes rising, world demand for these items will more than double in the next 40 years. The world is already farming one-third of the Earth's land area, including almost all of the land worth planting to crops. If we burn the corn in our cars, what will we and the livestock eat?

In the long run, every gallon of ethanol produced in America is likely to mean more soil erosion if it's made from crop stalks, or more forest cleared if it's made from corn. We could cut the deforestation in half if we made the ethanol from sugarcane, which produces ethanol far more efficiently. But America can't grow sugarcane, except in the Florida Everglades.

Let's face the environmental truth. Humanity at the moment has only two ways to environmentally satisfy our need for cost-effective energy. We can either burn fossil fuels, or burn uranium in nuclear power plants. One produces CO2, the other doesn't. If you believe CO2 causes global warming, you'll want to buy nuclear power. If you doubt the safety of nuclear power plants, then you may want to buy coal-fired electricity. Please, please, however, don't use your vote or voice to support the production of ethanol from crops and crop biomass. That would simply cause more soil erosion and more deforestation across the broad expanse of the Earth--without easing your crunch at the gas pump.



But it looks fun so don't bet on it pleasing the Greenies!

Silicon Valley's big brains think they can beat Detroit and Tokyo and save the planet - all while doing 0 to 60 faster than almost anything on the road.

Ian Wright has a car that blows away a Ferrari 360 Spider and a Porsche Carrera GT in drag races, and whose 0-to-60 acceleration time ranks it among the fastest production autos in the world. In fact, it's second only to the French-made Bugatti Veyron, a 1,000-horsepower, 16-cylinder beast that hits 60 mph half a second faster and goes for $1.25 million. The key difference? The Bugatti gets eight miles per gallon. Wright's car? It runs off an electric battery.

Wright, a 50-year-old entrepreneur from New Zealand, thinks his electric car, the X1, can soon be made into a small-production roadster that car fanatics and weekend warriors will happily take home for about $100,000 - a quarter ton of batteries included. He has even launched a startup, called Wrightspeed, to custom-make and sell the cars. But Wright isn't some quixotic loner. He's part of a growing cluster of engineers, startups, and investors, most of them based in Silicon Valley, that believe they can do what major automakers have failed at for decades: Think beyond the golf cart and deliver an electric vehicle (EV) to the mass market.

Indeed, the race for the new consumer EV has already begun: Just a year ago, Wright was working for his Woodside neighbor Martin Eberhard, co-founder of Tesla Motors, a startup that has 70 employees and a major investment from PayPal founder Elon Musk, which is building a mass-market rival to the X1. Wright left, believing he had an even better idea. Beyond that, startups are forming to equip new "plug-in" hybrids that run almost entirely on their electric motors. And around the country, a handful of other exotic EVs are showing up on the road -- including George Clooney's new ride, a $108,000 commuter coupe that's just 3 feet wide.

The more that cars become technology platforms, the more the future plays into the hands of people like Wright and Eberhard. "Automakers can't do this," Eberhard says. "If you drill into the complexity of an electric car, it's not the motor, it's the electronics and battery system, which car companies aren't good at." Adds Musk, "The time is right for a new American car company, and the time is right for electric vehicles, because of advances in batteries and electronics. Where's the skill set for that? In the Valley, not Detroit."

Wright's garage-born heroics are, in many respects, long overdue. After all, electric cars predated the gasoline combustion engine. But they soon headed for museums, replaced by gas engines. A mid-1990s wave of all-electric cars was short-lived -- GM spent more than $1 billion to introduce a short-lived electric vehicle -- and were soon replaced by Toyota's hot-selling hybrid gas-electric Prius.

So how do you build the EV of the future on a six-figure budget when GM couldn't do it with more than $1 billion? For starters, you get all the basic parts off the shelf, starting with a chassis. Wright found one he liked in the Ariel Atom, a blazing-fast custom British roadster. By itself, all the hardware in the X1 is nothing new. The X1's real secret is how Wright engineers it all to keep the car in optimum race mode whenever you hit the accelerator.

Last November, Wright towed the X1 to a racetrack near Sacramento to see how his prototype would do against a Ferrari and a Porsche. On paper, a win seemed guaranteed. But he hadn't yet run the car full out. In the first matchup, the X1 crushed the Ferrari in an eighth-mile sprint and then in the quarter-mile, winning by two car lengths. In the second race, against the $440,000 Porsche, the two cars were even after an eighth of a mile. But as the Porsche driver let out the clutch in a final upshift, his tires briefly lost traction. The X1, blazing along in its software-controlled performance mode, beat the Porsche by half a car length. It never occurred to me that I would lose," says Kim Stuart, the Porsche's driver. "It was like a light switch. He hit the pedal and was gone."

So what now? Wright isn't sure himself. Only 50 or so people have driven the car, and Wright has just begun to hold his hat out for potential investors. With $8 million in funding, he says, he is convinced he can put a consumer version of the X1 into production that meets federal safety standards, has a 100-mile range, and recharges in 4.5 hours. To bring any EV to the masses, of course, will require much improved battery technology. But a handful of startups backed by Valley VCs are claiming that big advances are just around the corner. Menlo Park-based Li-on Cells claims that its technology will double the performance of lithium-ion batteries for about half the cost. Thus, the X1 and the Tesla could be just the things to throw the EV race into high gear. As battery prices drop and performance improves, the cars could come within reach of a wider audience. And if oil prices keep climbing, more and more consumers will demand alternatives that are punchier than a Prius.



True, it needs close reading; and true, it comes from an obscure and mostly powerless institution. But it's possible to detect subtle shifts in the EU's position on the Kyoto Protocol.

In an 'Opinion' of 28 April 2006, on the effects of international agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the industrial change processes in Europe, the European Economic and Social Committee timidly opens the door for an overhaul of Europe's climate policy, especially its CO2 emission trading system.

The opening sentence is still funny: "Climate change is a unique problem that humanity has never before encountered in modern times." I always figured that climate change is of all times. It is the norm, not the exception. And mankind has coped with it pretty successfully so far. But then the 'Opinion' becomes more serious:

"Further policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must take into account all the economic parameters. If not, those states which have ratified the Kyoto protocol run the risk of having some of their manufacturing move to developed economies which are still hesitating to sign the protocol or to developing countries which are not yet subject to any quota obligations under it. This could result in economic losses and weakened competitiveness, without producing the desired global reduction in emissions."

So true. One can only wonder why nobody thought of it before. And then another pinch of realism:

"There also needs to be a realistic assessment of the will of the Member States of the EU itself to achieve far more ambitious goals of obligatory emissions reductions after 2012 with a view to the Lisbon Strategy and the results so far of measures adopted and implemented."

Surprise, surprise! Is this the beginning of the recognition that there is a gap between the greenhouse gas reduction rhetoric of EU member countries and actual results? It also seems that the EU has finally woken up to the outcome of the G-8 Gleneagles Summit and the Montreal Climate Conference. There it became clear that the major economic powers in the world were not willing to follow the EU's climate policy of cap-and-trade. Nevertheless, the 'Opinion' still makes an obligatory reference to "future negotiations":

"These negotiations must lead in the future to an acceptable way of continuing the process of reducing greenhouse gas emissions after 2012 - one that involves all the economically developed countries and the prime producers of emissions in the developing countries as a whole and especially those where development is rapid."

But subsequently reality sets in:

"Failing this, it will have to be accepted that in 2012 the Kyoto Protocol in its present form will only cover a quarter of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. As it stands now, the Protocol cannot be an effective instrument for addressing the question of global climate in the future and an approach will have to be sought which can seamlessly follow on from it. This must, however, include a rethink [!] of instruments for reducing greenhouse gases, including the EU ETS, both in terms of their real impact on the global volume of greenhouse gas emissions and their cost effectiveness and administrative burden. Steps should be taken immediately to compare the proposals and plans of various groups of countries for long-term reductions in greenhouse gases so that the right decisions can be taken in time. The global community must be involved in solving global problems by political means. It has to be openly admitted, however, that such involvement is not necessarily in the interest of all the big polluters and that, because of their size and geographical location (USA, China), they prefer a unilateral approach. If there is political failure, the EU's continued leading role in climate change issues could weaken the ability to adapt without having any tangible effect on climate change itself."

Again, so true! Again, why did nobody think of it before? And finally another surprise. How often have we heard "the science is settled" and "all scientists agree"? Apparently the EESC is not so sure any more, because it concludes:

"These problems cannot be solved without a far better understanding of both the causes of the phenomenon and the possibilities of reducing the man-made influences involved. Only adequate investment in science and research, monitoring and systematic observation will enable the necessary acceleration in scientific understanding of the real causes of climate change."

The "real causes of climate change"? And we have always been told that .....? Oh my gosh! Is this the beginning of the end?



Facing rising energy prices and political pressure to act, the House Appropriations Committee voted Wednesday to end a 23-year-old ban on natural gas exploration in federal coastal waters, the first step in what would represent a major change in how the nation treats its coast. By a vote of 37 to 25, with all four Floridians voting no, the committee passed an amendment to exempt natural gas drilling from a congressional ban on offshore energy exploration first inserted into the Interior Department appropriations bill by Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, in 1983. If the amendment, which faces a tough fight in the full House and the Senate, were to pass, it would allow natural gas drilling as close as 10 miles from Florida's west coast and 3 miles from its east coast. Most other coastal states where drilling is now prohibited also would have a 3-mile buffer.

The amendment would not affect a presidential moratorium, in place since 1990, that covers many of the same waters as the congressional ban, including much of the eastern Gulf of Mexico near the Panhandle. In an interview Wednesday in Florida, President Bush said he would not support drilling closer than 100 miles from the state's coast. But advocates and opponents of expanding offshore drilling both said Wednesday's committee vote marked a significant step. "It's a long way from happening, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't fight it every step of the way, which we intend to do,'' Young said. "Every time the price of gasoline increases, we lose more support."

The Independent Petroleum Producers Association praised the committee's action as a start toward reducing energy costs that it says are hurting many American industries. The amendment's sponsor, Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa., echoed those thoughts. "I don't believe it's an overstatement to suggest the future of the American economy may be riding on" its passage, he said.

Offshore drilling is now permitted off four Gulf Coast states - Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama - as well as Alaska and a small section of California. But for a quarter century, thanks to a rider in the Interior Department's funding bill, a congressional moratorium has protected the rest of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Peterson's amendment, which failed in a vote last year, changed the language so drilling for oil still would be banned, while natural gas exploration would be allowed. Drilling for colorless, odorless natural gas is seen as more politically palatable, but both can cause offshore pollution, and energy producers say it's hard to drill for just one or the other. Reps. Jim Davis, D-Tampa, who is running for governor, and Mark Foley, R-Jupiter, said they would introduce an amendment next week to restore the moratorium when the full House debates the Interior bill.



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 May, 2006


Europe next week will likely reveal a key flaw in its flagship strategy to tackle climate change -- a net surplus of pollution permits, says Louis Redshaw, Head of Environmental Markets at Barclays Capital. The price of permits -- or carbon credits -- could then fall as low as 5 euros, having already collapsed to 12 euros on Monday from a peak of 31 euros three weeks ago, Redshaw said. Such a price fall would almost certainly trigger further drops in power prices across Europe.

The European Union last year handed its heavy industry the tradeable credits at the launch of its carbon market to cut emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2). Crucially for the market to work there had to be fewer credits than actual emissions, to drive pollution cuts, but this is now looking unlikely. "Based on the trend we're seeing we'd expect the whole market to be long in year 1," Redshaw said. A UBS report last Friday also saw the market long on credits.

Already a clutch of EU countries have reported their 2005 carbon emissions, and all but Spain revealed emissions below their permit quota, triggering the recent price collapse. The European Commission will publish data on remaining countries on May 15. Redshaw saw a price fall to as low as 5 euros a possibility, but did not expect a complete collapse yet because of continuing uncertainty about future energy and therefore carbon demand.

More here


A left-centre political party, in office for 13 long years, had grown tired and unfocused and was ethically challenged. So it was no surprise when a resurgent conservative party won the national election. And so it was, in 1996, that John Howard became prime minister of Australia. He's still in the job today, at 66, and next week he will visit Canada. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has invited the Australian leader to address a joint session of Parliament, a rare honour. This visit might be an opportunity for Canadians to learn some more about the foreign policy of the Harper government. We hope so, because except on Afghanistan and relations with the United States, we still know little about the new government's view of our place in the world.....

Australia has not signed onto the Kyoto accord on greenhouse-gas emissions, and Harper's environment minister, Rona Ambrose, has made it clear that this government will do nothing much to honour the old Liberal signature on that deal. Still, Harper and Ambrose have promised detailed environmental policies by fall, including plans for controlling - nobody has said reducing - greenhouse-gas emissions.

So Howard's visit could be an opportunity for Canada to announce plans for adherence to the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, a sort of club for Kyoto skeptics. Members are Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

The partnership emphasizes commercially viable technological solutions, an approach critics denounce as insufficiently rigorous. That's probably correct - governments will have to lead if the world has any hope of slowing the pace of climate change.....

The Montreal Gazette, 10 May 2006


New research calls into question the linkage between major Atlantic hurricanes and global warming. That is one of the conclusions from a University of Virginia study to appear in the May 10, 2006 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters. In recent years, a large number of severe Atlantic hurricanes have fueled a debate as to whether global warming is responsible. Because high sea-surface temperatures fuel tropical cyclones, this linkage seems logical. In fact, within the past year, several hurricane researchers have correlated basin-wide warming trends with increasing hurricane severity and have implicated a greenhouse-warming cause.

But unlike these prior studies, the U.Va. climatologists specifically examined water temperatures along the path of each storm, providing a more precise picture of the tropical environment involved in each hurricane's development. They found that increasing water temperatures can account for only about half of the increase in strong hurricanes over the past 25 years; therefore the remaining storminess increase must be related to other factors. "It is too simplistic to only implicate sea surface temperatures in the dramatic increase in the number of major hurricanes," said lead author Patrick Michaels, U.Va. professor of environmental sciences and director of the Virginia Climatology Office.

For a storm to reach the status of a major hurricane, a very specific set of atmospheric conditions must be met within the region of the storm's development, and only one of these factors is sufficiently high sea-surface temperatures. The authors found that the ultimate strength of a hurricane is not directly linked to the underlying water temperatures. Instead, they found that a temperature threshold, 89 degrees Fahrenheit, must be crossed before a weak tropical cyclone has the potential to become a monster hurricane. Once the threshold is crossed, water temperature is no longer an important factor. "At that point, other factors take over, such as the vertical wind profile, and atmospheric temperature and moisture gradients," Michaels said.

While there has been extensive recent discussion about whether or not human-induced global warming is currently playing a role in the increased frequency and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes, Michaels downplays this impact, at least for the current climate. "The projected impacts of global warming on Atlantic hurricanes are minor compared with the major changes that we have observed over the past couple of years," Michaels said. He points instead to naturally varying components of the tropical environment as being the primary reason for the recent enhanced activity. "Some aspects of the tropical environment have evolved much differently than they were expected to under the assumption that only increasing greenhouse gases were involved. This leads me to believe that natural oscillations have also been responsible for what we have seen," Michaels said.

But what if sea-surface temperatures continue to rise into the future, if the world continues to warm from an enhancing greenhouse effect? "In the future we may expect to see more major hurricanes," Michaels said, "but we don't expect the ones that do form to be any stronger than the ones that we have seen in the past."

AScribe Newswire, 9 May 2006


Discussing: McClelland, J.W., Dery, S.J., Peterson, B.J., Holmes, R.M. and Wood, E.F. 2006. A pan-arctic evaluation of changes in river discharge during the latter half of the 20th century. Geophysical Research Letters 33: 10.1029/2006GL025753.


The authors note that "increasing freshwater inputs may slow North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation, a major driver of [the] Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (MOC)," and that "a slowing or cessation of [the] MOC in response to global warming could lead to relative cooling in some regions and amplified warming in others," perhaps the most significant of which phenomena is a postulated failure of the Gulf Stream that is often claimed to have the potential to dramatically cool much of Europe. The question they thus consider within the context of their research is: "How may changes in arctic and subarctic river discharge affect [the Atlantic] MOC?"

What was done

In a study designed to provide some perspective on the issue, McClelland et al. analyzed discharge records of 16 Eurasian and 56 North American rivers over the period 1964-2000. Of these rivers, all Eurasian ones and 14 of the North American ones flow directly into the Arctic Ocean, while the other 42 North American rivers flow into the Hudson, James and Ungava Bays (HJUBs).

What was learned

The five researchers determined that "discharge to the Arctic Ocean increased by 5.6 km3/yr/yr during 1964-2000, the net result of a large increase from Eurasia moderated by a small decrease from North America," but that "discharge to Hudson/James/Ungava Bays decreased by 2.5 km3/yr/yr during 1964-2000."

What it means

McClelland et al. say they "expect decreasing river discharge to Hudson, James, and Ungava Bays and increasing river discharge to the Arctic Ocean to have opposing effects on NADW formation," which leads us to ask: How significant is the net result for the maintenance of the Atlantic MOC?

The researchers go on to say that "the observed changes in river discharge over 1964-2000 amount to an increase of about 0.007 Sv to the Arctic Ocean and a decrease of about 0.003 Sv to HJUBs by the end of the record," and that "these values are relatively small compared to the ~0.1 Sv [increase] that lead[s] to abrupt reductions in NADW formation in a variety of models (Clark et al., 2002; Rahmstorf, 2002)."

McClelland et al. are right on the mark in this assessment. In fact, the net increase in freshwater discharge to the Arctic Ocean that is revealed by their analysis to have occurred between 1964 and 2000 amounts to only about 4% of the "tipping point" value that is predicted by some climate models to lead to an abrupt Atlantic MOC reduction. Hence, there is little cause for alarm in their findings. In addition, it has recently been noted by Wunsch that the models that predict decreases in, or even a cessation of, NADW formation and the Atlantic MOC are still too crude to be given much credence. In fact, he reports that depending on how the mixing coefficients are modified, fresh water additions can actually increase the North Atlantic mass circulation (Nilsson et al., 2003).

In conclusion, the totality of these several observations suggests that all of the hype surrounding the subject of a Gulf Stream shutdown due to a warming-induced increase in freshwater input to the Arctic Ocean is without a sound basis in either observation or theory.

CO2 Science Magazine, 10 May 2006

Below is the journal abstract of the study mentioned above

Several recent publications have documented changes in river discharge from arctic and subarctic watersheds. Comparison of these findings, however, has been hampered by differences in time periods and methods of analysis. Here we compare changes in discharge from different regions of the pan-arctic watershed using identical time periods and analytical methods. Discharge to the Arctic Ocean increased by 5.6 km3/y/y during 1964-2000, the net result of a large increase from Eurasia moderated by a small decrease from North America. In contrast, discharge to Hudson/James/Ungava Bays decreased by 2.5 km3/y/y during 1964-2000. While this evaluation identifies an overall increase in discharge (~120 km3/y greater discharge at the end of the time period as compared to the beginning for Hudson/James/Unvaga Bays and the Arctic Ocean combined), the contrasting regional trends also highlight the need to understand the consequences of adding/removing freshwater from particular regions of the arctic and subarctic oceans.


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 May, 2006

The Global Cooling News Blackout

By Donald Laigle

I remember seeing on the Travel Channel a program featuring a British commentator-traveler who was on a ship somewhere in a Canadian waterway. One of the locals he interviewed mentioned that there were usually a lot of icebergs in the water at this time of the year, but as the TV cameras panned out onto the water, the viewer could plainly see there were none this year. The Brit looked into the camera and said "Am I the only one that's noticing this global warming thing?"

I have been seething to respond ever since, and here at last is my response: Yes. You are the only one. The only one, that is, who believes that global warming keeps icebergs from appearing. Because if you had paid attention that day in science class you would have learned that icebergs start out as glaciers that break off-why? Are you listening now?-because of warm weather that causes the ice to melt and break off from the rest of the ice mass. It's called "iceberg calving" and it requires warmer weather and melting.

Yes, I realize that European classrooms are heavy on environmental dogma and light on hard science, but you know, this is the kind of thing even ordinary people can deduce for themselves if they choose to use their brains for that purpose instead of mouthing "liberal" platitudes.

In other words, the fact that warming didn't happen is responsible for this phenomenon of no icebergs, which you nonetheless spin to make your side look good. Because you are part of the liberal media and it is your duty to teach your environmentalist religion to the world.

Without environmentalism, you would lose your raison d'tre, your reason for getting out of bed in the morning. Without it, your existence on this planet would be useless. But Evolution, in all her glory, has chosen you to sit at the pinnacle of her...well, let's not say creation here...her chain of accidents to which you owe your existence, ever since Darwin showed the world that God is nothing but a fiction. And from your pinnacle you have a solemn duty to her to alert the rest of benighted humanity to the grave danger that has arisen due to our ignorance, namely, our mindless beliefs in traditional things like God and country and male-female marriage, all of which serve no purpose but to cause wars and hate and mistrust of the media.

I know how they think. I was a liberal. And today I discovered that the meteorologists, or at least the people who write about weather in the local paper, have joined forces with these enlightened ones. I noticed it last week already: on April 27, for the first time in my 60+ years, I saw frost on the ground as far as the eye could see. I recalled that when I was a child,my father had told me that generally, farmers in our region considered all danger of frost to be past on April 1. So I was so impressed by this ultralate frost that I got my camera, went outside, wrote the date in the frost on my car windshield and took some pics. And it happened again on April 29th. I did recall a few frosts the first week of April, but only isolated cases. Never were there several days of frost in April, to say nothing of the extreme lateness!

Meanwhile I checked the local papers for reports on this unusual phenomenon. The reporters seemed to have overlooked it. Today, May 2, it frosted again, more lightly, but you could clearly see a large blotch of frost on the neighbor's house. I snapped more pics. I spoke with a few old timers, and none of them could recall frost in May either.

Then I called the local papers, first in a neighboring county where I grew up. They had taken no notice of odd weather. I figured maybe that could be explained by the 15 mile distance from here. So I called the local paper and the editor said she didn't think it was unusual. I told them I had never seen frost in May. She said they only covered weather stories when there was a human interest side, and she asked if I had a garden. I said I didn't but I had snapshots of frost taken the 27th, the 29th and today, May 2nd. She said "I don't think we'd be interested in those."

I checked with the state climatologist and discovered they don't keep records back more than 5 years! I also called the local library, and was told they would check. Suddenly it dawned on me: where would scientists gather enough data to determine whether there really is global warming if no one, not the state climatologist, not the local news editors, no one in the appropriate positions where they might be expected to have this information, had a clue as to temperature stats of previous years?

Finally, the librarian called me back. He had found an obscure web site that actually had records dating back a half-century. Here is what he found: Record lows for this area: April 29: 28 degrees in 1949, April 30: 34 degrees once (date not given), May 1: 29 degrees in 1978, and May 2: 34 degrees in 1979. Thus, with all these lows scattered over different years, there was never a year in which it frosted on three different days at the end of April and never had there been frost reported on May 2. Never! But that wasn't news. Because truth is only whatever fits into the shoeboxes of liberalism. And this truth doesn't fit.




A new storm and a new red spot on Jupiter hints at climate change, USA TODAY and dozens of other sources explained yesterday. The temperatures are expected to change by as much as 10 Fahrenheit degrees at different places of the globe. At least close to the new spot and to the equator, nothing less than global warming is expected.


Triton is Neptune's largest Moon. Some people believe that it used to be an asteroid. Global warming was detected on Triton. Between 1989 and 1998, the temperature jumped by 5 percent on the absolute (Kelvin) scale. The same relative increase would raise the Earth's temperature by 22 degrees Fahrenheit in 9 years. See thousands of other pages about the global warming on Triton.


Another moon of Saturn's, Enceladus, would be also expected to be frozen and cold. Suddenly, Cassini has informed us that Enceladus generates its own heat. Its high temperatures seem to be incompatible with calculations based on solar energy itself, according to existing models.


Saturn itself has a rather warm southern pole, and the temperatures in that region suddenly jumped by 3-5 Kelvin degrees. Well, it's warm because it's been exposed to sunshine for quite some time but the magnitude of the temperature jumps is not trivial to calculate.


What's going on with Pluto? Well, yes, your guess is right. There is global warming on Pluto. Pluto's atmospheric pressure has tripled in 14 years, and the associated increase of temperature is estimated to be around 3.5 Fahrenheit degrees, despite the motion of Pluto away from the Sun.


Of course, the global warming on Mars is a well-known story. The warming has been used by this blog to discover the Martians. More seriously, we have explained that the dramatic and speedy melting of the Martian icecaps is caused by the greenhouse effect. 95% of "their" atmosphere is made of carbon dioxide; that's slightly more than 0.038% of our atmosphere. The warming trend on Mars is undeniable. Some people have tried to blame the global warming on NASA's rovers. Such accusations are pretty serious because NASA is already preparing plans to occupy Mars using the greenhouse effect, as ordered by George Bush. ;-)


Venus, our planet's evil sister, has already been identified as unusable for life because of ... yes, because of the greenhouse effect that occured in the past. Last month, the Venus express gave us some new hints why Venus has such a thick atmosphere that generated global warming.


The Earth is currently experiencing warming, too, although a less dramatic one than the previous examples. However, there is apparently a huge difference. The warming on the previous planets and moons was natural. On the other hand, the warming on Earth couldn't evolve naturally: it is caused by the humankind, evil corporations, and their intelligent design, most left-wing scientists believe. The warming trends can't have anything to do with the Sun whose activity is now highest in the last 1000 years: it is unethical to propose that the Sun plays any role, consensus scientists argue.

A comparison

You may ask the consensus scientists: why is there such a difference between the explanations for the warming of the Earth and the other planets and their moons? It's because the Earth is the center of the Universe, they would answer. You could also ask: why do all these planets and moons indicate warming? Shut up, the consensus scientists would answer.

Some of them would tell you that your paradox is resolved by the anthropic principle: the people on Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, Mars, Triton, and other celestial bodies cannot complain about the anthropogenic global warming because... because these people don't exist! :-)

The debate is over, Al Gore, our prophet, has announced. Terrestrial global warming, caused by the human sins, is no longer a political issue: it is now a spiritual issue. Now it's time to punish the heretics who deny that the Earth as the center of the Universe is special because of the humans who were created to the image of God - and because of their sins and SUVs.

This looks like a story about some silly priests from the 16th century Catholic Church - a story about the Dark Ages that most of us heard in the basic school. But unfortunately, what we are describing here are influential people in the 21st century ....

People who believe, much like the Church in the 15th century, that the divine truth is determined by consensus. People who believe that we should prefer awkward hypotheses if they support our spiritual values. People who believe that questions and independent thinking should be silenced.

The Reference Frame, 7 May 2006


An email from Graham Compton (, School of Biomedical and Natural Sciences Nottingham Trent University

I see that the position of the new red spot on Jupiter, rather nearer the pole than the old, is being interpreted as evidence for an increase in Jupiter's temperature (See here). In the (presumed) absence of combusting fossil fuels on Jupiter, an increase in solar input might be guessed as a possible cause, but anyway it has certainly demonstrated a dramatic increase in storm activity at high latitudes and all this with no anthropogenic input. Funny stuff, weather.

Cement firm uses waste in image clean-up

Sounds expensive

Thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste is being harnessed to manufacture Australian cement in an initiative to clean up the image of one of the world's biggest polluting industries. Flammable industrial waste, including oils, pesticides and chemical by-products, are replacing fossil fuels in powering high-intensity kilns at one of the nation's biggest cement manufacturers. The process reduces greenhouse gas emissions by reclaiming waste that would otherwise go to landfill. It is one of dozens of green initiatives up for discussion at the three-day Enviro 06 Conference and Exhibition, which started in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Geocycle, a subsidiary of Cement Australia, reclaims about 12,000 tonnes of industrial waste each year and is the only Australian company to reuse hazardous materials. The waste is transported to a processing plant in Dandenong, in Melbourne's south-east, where it is analysed and blended to produce an optimum burn potential. The waste is then loaded into 20,000 litre tanks and transported to Cement Australia's manufacturing kilns in Gladstone, Queensland, where it is burned at 1,200 degrees.

Geocycle operations manager John Hewitson said substituting waste for fossil fuels did not reduce greenhouse gases generated in the kiln but resulted in an overall reduction in emissions from landfill. "There are quite drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions overall and it's certainly, from an Australian point of view, one of the ways that Australia can remain competitive in the manufacturing of cement," Mr Hewitson said. "The cement industry is the largest generator of CO2 (carbon dioxide) of all the industries in the world. "Four or five per cent of total greenhouse gases generated is from the cement industry. "Any reduction in that is a very significant environmental improvement."

Currently six per cent of fuels burned at Cement Australia is reclaimed waste - the rest comprises fossil fuels, including coal - but the company aims to increase that to 20 per cent within 10 years. In the Netherlands the substitution rate is 83 per cent. When operating at its full potential, the process can provide a free form of energy - a scenario overseas cement manufacturers are striving to achieve, Mr Hewitson said. In Australia, greater government subsidies for purchasing reclaimed oil - used to blend waste - would boost turnover, he said. Educating industry to separate their waste was also important for improving the quality and quantity of the yield. Geocycle charges up to $600 a tonne for disposing of industrial waste. With the cost of landfill for hazardous waste set to increase to up to $1,000 a tonne in future, Mr Hewitson said there was a financial incentive for industry to find greener alternatives.



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 May, 2006


Hydro power is the most renewable source of power there is but Greenies hate anything that is actually workable

Within days China will pour the final concrete of the massive Three Gorges Dam across the Yangtze River. But completion of one of the great engineering feats of our time will not satisfy the country's energy-hungry developers. They will merely turn their attention to one of the deepest and most dramatic gorges on earth - Tiger Leaping Gorge - 900 miles (1,500km) upstream. China confirmed yesterday that another 80,000 people will be moved this year from areas to be flooded behind the Three Gorges Dam. They are among about 1.3 million being displaced.

Tens of thousands more now fear that their homes will be flooded in the new project. Environmentalists are appalled. But engineers regard a dam across Tiger Leaping Gorge as crucial for the success of the Three Gorges project, which has a small reservoir compared to the enormous flow of the river. Their plan is to add 12 dams upstream from the Three Gorges Dam. The one across Tiger Leaping Gorge would provide the largest reservoir and help most to regulate the river's flow.

Surveys have been going on for 18 months and construction of the proposed 278m-high (912ft) dam could begin as early as 2008. It would dwarf the 180m-high barrier at the Three Gorges. The reservoir would back up for 125 miles. Ma Jun, an environmental consultant from Beijing and author of the influential book China's Water Crisis, recognises the value of the project. "For every drop of water stored, it would add more value for hydropower generation than any other reservoir in China or perhaps the world," he said. But he is no fan of the plan. Although the dam would leave the 30m chasm across which tigers of legend leapt, he wondered how the gorge would look with a concrete wall across it. "The beauty of this place is unique," he said.

The ten-mile gorge is an important tourist attraction and the setting is breathtaking. Mountains soar more than 3,500m above the river to create a deep defile touched by the sun only at midday. It falls within a Unesco World Heritage-listed site that harbours great botanical riches as well as ethnic minorities who have farmed along the steep hillsides for centuries, but are now threatened. Damming the thundering river, called the Jinsha along the upper reaches, could force up to 100,000 people out of their ancestral homes. Most are from the Naxi minority, the last people to use a system of pictographic writing, who farm corn and wheat along the fertile banks. They would have to move north, to a Tibetan area where the altitude and harsh climate mean that the staples are such unfamiliar crops as barley and potatoes.

Liao Qunzhong is a farmer who has lived in Tiger Leaping Gorge all his life and hires out his mule to tourists eager to follow an ancient tea-trading path through the gorge that once supplied Tibet with tea from southern China. "If we have to move north how will we fit in with people from another community? They will not accept us. We will be strangers," he told The Times.

Such worries weigh little with the Huaneng Group, the largest independent power producer in China, which is run by Li Xiaopeng, a son of the former premier, Li Peng. A dam in Tiger Leaping Gorge would block silt being carried down into the reservoir behind the Three Gorges Dam, thus extending the working life of the power station.

Mr Ma is calling for a free and open debate before any decision is taken. "We must make a balanced trade-off," he says. "We want a transparent process. How can we face questions from our children if our decision is not based on a scientific and democratic process?" But officials in southwestern Yunnan province appear to favour the traditional approach, that of top-down government whereby decisions are simply announced by those who believe they know best.

Not everyone is waiting for a decision, however it is made. Some farmers in Tiger Leaping Gorge believe that they will receive 100 yuan a square metre in compensation for their homes and are busy extending their houses. Further upstream, at the First Bend of the Yangtze, farmers have taken the law into their own hands, refusing to allow engineers access to the area to take preliminary measurements and effectively put a stop to preparatory work. Others, certain that the dam will not touch their land, are looking on the bright side. Xiao Yang, a driver, said: "The dam will bring progress for us. And tourists will still come, if not to look at the gorge then to look at the dam just like they visit the Three Gorges Dam."

More here


GlaxoSmithKline shareholders were left shaken last night after receiving threatening letters from animal rights activists and doubtful advice from the company on protecting their identities. In a letter that began to land on investors' doormats yesterday, shareholders were given an ultimatum by a group calling itself the Campaign Against Huntingdon Life Sciences to sell their shares within 14 days or have their personal details published on a website. "We are a group set up to hold Huntingdon Life Sciences [HLS] accountable for its acts of animal cruelty," the letter states. "Holding HLS accountable means holding GlaxoSmithKline to its promise not to use HLS ever again. "The only way to hold GlaxoSmithKline to its promise is to target its financial vulnerability."

GSK, Europe's biggest drugs company, is a customer of Huntingdon Life Sciences, the most high-profile target of a militant arm of the animal rights movement. In response to the letter, which has not yet been received by institutional shareholders, the company advised shareholders to instruct their broker to hold their shares in a nominee account to avoid identification, but this advice was called into question. John Roundhill, chairman of Britain's leading registrars' association, said: "Moving to a nominees account won't create a robust defence because this information is still in the public domain." A company is able to force an account nominee to reveal the identities of those it represents by issuing a "212" notice. This information has to be made public.

A spokesman for GSK said yesterday: "We would never use 212 on anybody with less than half a million shares." However, Mr Roundhill said that many nominees operated pooled accounts where the ownership of half a million shares or more was not uncommon.

The lengthy campaign waged against Huntingdon derailed its planned listing in New York after it was forced to delist its shares in London and move its headquarters to the United States.

GSK executives were targeted two months ago. Neighbours of Simon Bicknell, the company secretary, and Sir Ian Prosser, a non-executive director, received letters accusing the two men of being rapists, while one had his house daubed with offensive slogans. More than 100 shareholders contacted Glaxo yesterday after receiving the letters, the company said.

An 80-year-old grandmother in West London who has held Glaxo shares for more than a decade said that she was shocked and angered by the letter. The former scientist, who declined to be named, said: "It's blackmail and I don't like being blackmailed." The hate campaign is being investigated by Netcu, the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit. A spokesman for Netcu advised shareholders to hand the letters to police.



As it is bank holiday Monday it seems appropriate to discuss the weather. In an age of, we are led to believe by assorted greens and eco-fundamentalists, unprecedented and potentially cataclysmic global warming, it does seem rather cool. Indeed last winter was one of the coldest for the best part of a decade and spring was a frogspawn-threatening two weeks behind schedule.

I am no climatologist but the alarmism of the scientific establishment, including the Government's chief scientific adviser Sir David King who is on record as saying the only habitable continent will be Antarctica by the end of the century if climate change is not controlled, does strike me as slightly excessive. I am, however, a trained statistician. One of the first things I read about statistics was that it was about measurement and variability. People's height varies, the number of leaves on trees varies, and so does the global average temperature over time. Climate change, therefore, strikes me as quite unexceptional. Indeed I would be amazed if it did not exist, given that solar activity varies.

There have been many fluctuations in the Earth's average temperatures. The last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago. But there was a period from about 5,500 to 2,000BC known as the Holocene Maximum when average temperatures were, apparently, about 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than they are today. Temperatures then cooled, resulting in the Little Archaic Ice Age of around 520-350BC, and then warmed into Roman times. The Dark Ages were, apparently, on the cool side, but the flowering of medieval culture happily coincided with a warm period. The subsequent Little Ice Age occurred from around 1500 to 1860 and included some bitterly cold winters in the 17th Century when the Thames froze. Greenland's icy mountains became decidedly icier and the Norse settlements died out.

Since the middle of the 19th Century average temperatures have picked up. But even over this geologically short period of time there have been discernable swings in temperature. The years 1942 to 1970 were, for example, on the chilly side and included the bitter winter of 1962/63 which was the coldest in England and Wales since 1740. Since the early Seventies, when "runaway glaciation" and a new ice age were foretold, there has been some warming.

All in all, global average surface temperatures picked up by about a modest 0.6C during the 20th Century, which geologist Dr Bob Carter of the James Cook University, Australia, for example, assesses to be within the limits of natural statistical variability. And, interestingly, global average air temperatures, which are regarded as more reliable by climate scientists, have not changed over the past 20 to 30 years. This all strikes me as little reason to take out a timeshare with the Emperor penguins.

But this is not the impression gained when reading about the so-called scientific consensus which claims that global warming is not just a major threat to the planet but is primarily man-made. The culprit is the burning of fossil fuels that results in the release of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. These emissions act as greenhouse gases, blanketing the earth, trapping the Sun's heat and, apparently, frying the Earth. But the burning of fossil fuels also results in sulphate aerosols (tiny particles in the atmosphere) that reflect the Sun's heat back into space and cool the Earth. The combustion of fossil fuels can, therefore, cool as well as warm.

Part of the scientific consensus is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was set up in 1988 under UN auspices. Its influential work claims to show that unrestricted carbon emissions will lead to hugely damaging increases in temperature. And, crucially, its work is the scientific underpinning to the UN's Kyoto Protocol of 1997, which requires signatories to restrict their carbon emissions in order to control global warming.

Suffice to say here that the UK Government is an ardent supporter of Kyoto's procedures, which are part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair's policies for "dealing with dangerous climate change", irrespective of cost.

But the IPCC's analysis is deeply flawed, as explained in an excellent report from the House of Lords. The Lords' report also contained a quote from Professor Reiter, of the Institut Pasteur in Paris, which challenged the appropriateness of the notion of scientific consensus. He said "consensus is the stuff of politics, not science". And indeed it is, as there seems to be little scientific agreement that mankind's fossil-fuel burning is the major reason for climate change. On the contrary, analyses of scientific papers on climate change by Dr Benny Peiser, of John Moores University, and Dr Dennis Bray, of the German-based GKSS National Research Centre conclude that the dissenters are in a healthy ... [minority].

The Daily Telegraph, 1 May 2006

In defence of individual ecofreedom

British Government campaigns against running domestic electrical gadgets on standby are unnecessary, and will likely prove unpopular

Last month, UK chancellor Gordon Brown was at the United Nations building in New York City, addressing ambassadors to the UN. Trying to upstage Conservative Party leader David Cameron, Brown made climate change the subject of his speech. His message: consumer goods left on standby worldwide are 'responsible' for just one per cent of global carbon emissions; but providing people with their 'right' to information about this can help them 'meet their responsibilities for environmental change' - indeed, can 'play a powerful role in making self-driven change happen'.

It's a new departure to talk about standby lights at the UN. Let's take a look at the UK figures for energy use and CO2 emissions, to see whether Brown's 'self-driven change' is the right thing to do. From 1970 to 2001, electricity's share of British home energy use rose from 18 to 20 per cent. Absolute home electricity use grew by 49 per cent. Since use of electricity for space heating has shown a general decline, 'lights and appliances' explain much of the increase in share and overall use.

Brown's 2006 Budget announced a drive to persuade retailers to encourage shoppers to buy more energy-efficient gadgets, hoping to save 0.1-0.2 mega-tonnes of carbon (MtC) in 2010 (3). The government enthuses that its Code of Conduct on Digital TV Services has, at virtually no cost, made half the UK's installed TV set-top boxes cut CO2 emissions by 0.4 MtC a year, equivalent to about one per cent of the 36.3 MtC that is linked to electrical equipment in the UK home. Similarly, Friends of the Earth wants legislation to reduce wastage from TVs and other devices that can be put on stand-by. Apparently, that would obviate the need to keep 'around one nuclear power station in the UK'.

From 2008, the EU's Eco-design of Energy Using Products (EUP) framework Directive will set mandatory energy requirements for products placed on the EU market. Until then, Whitehall highlights the labelling of appliances with an Energy Saving Trust 'Energy saving - Recommended' logo. This, it says, along with other regulations, has transformed the market for every type of refrigeration and washing equipment, with appliances given A or A+ ratings gaining market share very rapidly since 2000.

How seriously can we take these claims? The barrage of energy-saving labels that today confronts the consumer, and the injunctions to keep turning everything off, are attempts by the government to micromanage individual behaviour. Yet these efforts are much less effective than improvements in the carbon intensity of electricity supply.

In 2002, lights and appliances took 36.3 MtC of the 147.6 MtC emitted from houses in the UK, or 24.6 per cent of the total. Cooking adds 3.4 per cent to this, giving a total of 28 per cent. But the CO2 emissions for which appliance users are held responsible are made at electric power stations, not in the home. There is no carbon 'footprint' around electrical goods in the home. Rather, it is the carbon intensity of power stations that makes lights and appliances linked to rather large emissions of CO2. The origin of CO2 emissions is to be found in the national system we have for producing and distributing energy; and if the chancellor seriously wants to tackle CO2 emissions, he might be better off focusing there rather than hectoring consumers.....

Apart from the fridge, no single piece of white goods accounts for even a tenth of linked CO2 emissions. Water heaters and lights - now supplemented by one or more TVs, PCs and mobile phone chargers - are no doubt relatively weighty emitters of CO2. Nevertheless, demand-side behaviour with any single light, piece of white goods or electronic gadget that one can switch off easily can make only a tiny impact.

If everyone in the UK switched off their lights, say, day and night and all year round, perhaps a 10 per cent slice would be taken off the 28 per cent of domestic emissions that come from lights, appliances (cookers included), and electronics. Given that domestic emissions themselves account for 27 per cent of the UK total, we are talking about 10 per cent of 28 per cent of 27 per cent, or a CO2 emissions saving of precisely 0.75 per cent of the UK grand total. That, for returning to candles and gaslight.

Only a full-on hair-shirt lifestyle - lived without heat, light, hot water, ironed clothes, TV, PC or mobile phone, with a pantry and a dustpan, not a fridge or a vacuum cleaner - can allow each home a full, three-tonne annual reduction in the CO2 emissions to which it is linked.

The state's intervention into individuals' use of electrical goods in the home is mentally invasive. We can be sure that millions will not consent to keeping an eye on their stand-by lights all the time. Millions, too, would rather that their household's appliance use was not made the subject of campaigns and legislation. The government's policy is equally unlikely to make a difference to supply-side realities. Gordon Brown's science is as ignorant as his politics are authoritarian.

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.


9 May, 2006


The birds are no longer rare so could well be shot -- horrors!

Birds and trees usually go together like fish and water, but in this environmental conflict with a twist, night-herons and egrets might be killing a prized oak grove in Davis. The grove, formally known as Shields Oak Grove, is at the secluded west end of the University of California, Davis, arboretum. It contains 89 kinds of oaks collected from around the world since the 1960s. Now filled with mature trees, the grove has become a magnet for leggy wading birds. The birds are nesting and roosting in such abundance that their droppings are turning the soil salty and acidic, possibly threatening the health of the trees. Last summer, 2,400 adult birds took up quarters in the four-acre grove, producing more than 850 chicks, campus biologists estimate.

By season's end, the ground beneath the trees was white with guano, its musty odor, sharp with ammonia, almost intolerable to the human nose. A nearby gazebo used for weddings had to be closed to public use. "It's called 'White Flower Garden,' " said Kathleen Sokolofsky, the arboretum director. "Well, it was a little too white last year to do any weddings!"

As is their habit, the night-herons and egrets migrated to other roosts in the winter. With the return of spring, they are coming back. Amanda Castaneda, a research assistant at the UC Davis Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, counted 35 nests in mid-April, 60 at the end of the month. Guano is beginning to coat tree leaves, the breeze wafting a pungent scent. The case of birds vs. oaks poses quite a dilemma for the arboretum. "We're UC Davis and we want to do the right thing with the trees and the wildlife," Sokolofsky said. "In some cases we've heard, (the birds) actually kill the trees and go to a new site. The question for me is, do you let it get to that point?"

She is not apt to. Originating as a cluster of native oaks growing along the old north channel of Putah Creek and dating to the turn of the last century, the grove has grown into a nationally recognized collection of trees from California and beyond. Some of the acorns from which the oaks grew were collected from around the state four decades ago for the research of John Tucker, a UC Davis botanist who served from 1972 to 1984 as arboretum director. Arboretum staff members acquired exotic species through a seed exchange with other institutions. The trees number 365 today; their origins include Portugal, Spain, Israel, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran and Big Bend National Park in Texas. "These trees are analogous to a group of Dutch paintings in an art collection," Sokolofsky said, noting that the arboretum recently received two federal grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services totaling $106,000 to care for the oaks. In 2000, Tucker, now retired, donated $250,000 to establish an endowment to maintain and enhance the grove for education. Arboretum officials planned to showcase the grove by extending trails to entice the public beneath its canopy.

About the same time, the first black-crowned night-herons began moving in. Egrets followed. Campus wildlife biologists identified them as snowy egrets, cattle egrets and great egrets, all birds with showy white plumage. Plumage was their downfall a century ago: People killed the birds to supply the millinery industry with feathers. Laws eventually were adopted to protect the birds, enabling their populations to rebound. To this day, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 prohibits interfering with the birds when they nest. Night-herons and egrets, which are closely related, are colonial by nature, meaning they nest together, sometimes quite densely. In Shields Grove, those trees that drew birds last year - not all did - hosted an average of 25 nests each, said Ellen Zagory, the arboretum director of horticulture.

The problem in Davis is not common in California, but other states have struggled with "nuisance heronries." Ray C. Telfair II, a wildlife biologist retired from the Texas Wildlife and Parks Department, spent much of his career studying heron nesting and roosting behavior. Of 53 heron nesting spots documented in Texas, Telfair has classified 33 as nuisances. The "nuisance" tag is a social, not biological, description. The 20 cases that aren't a nuisance are "in locations where nobody's complained about them," Telfair said.

A colony has the power to rearrange the landscape. On a pair of islands in a man-made waterway called Cedar Creek Reservoir south of Dallas, Telfair watched over 30 years as native trees gave way to an exotic tree, the chinaberry, brought in as twigs with berries by nest-making egrets and herons. Many of the native oaks, elms and ash could not tolerate changes in the soil chemistry caused by the abundant bird guano, Telfair said, while the chinaberry did just fine. Intolerant trees can die quickly. Telfair has seen four species of oaks in Texas succumb in one or two years after bird colonies were established.

Mindful that in an environmentally sensitive community such as Davis the birds will have as many champions as the trees, the arboretum staff is not given to precipitous action. The one step it has taken so far is to remove remnants of last year's nests and twigs from beneath the trees to reduce the amount of nesting material.

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Ah, the magnificent din of a good pipe organ in full cry, one moment all bells and bird chatter, the next a thunderous rumble from the lower registers and a subterranean boom that sounds like a large ship is docking somewhere nearby. Needless to say, it's a sound that has underpinned church and choral music for centuries. And yet in a bizarre legal quirk, the future of the instrument has been called into question in Britain, Europe's largest organ-building nation, as a result of an opaque European ruling governing the substances used to construct organ pipes.

Two European Union directives, which come into force in the 25 EU countries in July, ban the manufacture of "electrical equipment" containing more than 0.1 percent lead. The statutes are intended principally to reduce the volume of lead seeping back into the environment mainly from discarded mobile phones and other disposable modern technologies. But the 1,000-year-old art of organ-building appears to have been swept up in the legislating zeal. Most organs these days are powered by electricity and use a certain amount of lead in their extensive run of pipework to achieve the appropriate musical voicing. Old pipes aren't discarded but are instead melted down and reused.

Senior EU officials have insisted that they do not want to penalize organ-builders, and it seems highly unlikely that "eurocrats" will start snooping around churches, ready to pounce the moment an organist strikes up with a Bach voluntary. But the British organ-building industry is alarmed at the way the EU laws (entitled the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directives) are being interpreted in Britain. British officials say that organs are indeed affected. "If an organ has electrical components, then in theory it is likely to come under the remit of the directive," says one government official on customary condition of anonymity. He adds that special exemptions will be required for any of the 80-odd companies that build organs in Britain.

More here


If there is one thing that Senator Edward Kennedy is adamant about, it is that government officials play by the rules. "The vast majority of Americans share our commitment to basic fairness," he lectured his fellow senators last May, when Republicans were threatening to trigger the "nuclear option" -- to change the Senate's rules to prevent judicial nominations from being filibustered. "They agree that there must be fair rules, that we should not unilaterally abandon or break those rules in the middle of the game."

There was nothing clandestine about that no-filibuster threat. Senate Republicans had been discussing it publicly for more than two years. Nevertheless, the senator from Massachusetts blasted the idea as egregious and underhanded. "Every child," he thundered, "knows that you don't change the rules in the middle of the game."

But Kennedy's antipathy to furtive rules changes and backroom power plays, it turns out, stops at the water's edge -- specifically, the edge of Nantucket Sound, which separates Cape Cod (where the Kennedy family has an oceanfront compound in Hyannis Port) from the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. A shoal in the center of the Sound is where Boston-based Cape Wind Associates hopes to build the nation's first offshore wind farm -- an array of 130 wind turbines capable of generating enough electricity to meet 75 percent of the Cape and Islands' energy needs, without burning any oil or emitting any pollution. The turbines would be miles from any coastal property, barely visible on the horizon. In fact, Cape Wind says they would be farther away from the nearest home than any other electricity generation project in Massachusetts.

But like a lot of well-to-do Cape and Islands landowners and sailing enthusiasts, Kennedy doesn't want to share his Atlantic playground with an energy facility, no matter how clean, green, and nearly unseen. Last month he secretly arranged for a poison-pill amendment, never debated in either house of Congress, to be slipped into an unrelated Coast Guard funding bill. It would give the governor of Massachusetts, who just happens to be a wind farm opponent, unilateral authority to veto the Cape Wind project.

When word of the amendment leaked out, environmentalists were appalled. The wind farm proposal is supported by the leading environmental organizations, and they never expected to be sandbagged by one of their legislative heroes. Even if Kennedy would prefer to see Cape Wind plant its windmills in somebody else's sailing grounds, he has always claimed to support the development of wind power ("I strongly support renewable energy, including wind energy, as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and protecting the environment" -- Cape Cod Times, Aug. 8, 2003). And what happened to all those righteous words about not throwing out the rulebook in the middle of the game?

If ever a project and its promoters have "played by the rules," Cape Wind has, and in spades. Its plans have undergone more than four years of scrutiny by federal, state, and regional regulators, with another year or more of evaluations, hearings, and studies to come. At least 18 government bodies -- from the Army Corps of Engineers to the Environmental Protection Agency to the Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management Office -- have been involved in reviewing the wind farm proposal. Cape Wind has had to surmount an astonishing variety of regulatory and due-diligence hurdles. So far it has successfully met every one.

The list of permits, approvals, licenses, and reports that regulators are requiring Cape Wind to file or obtain would overload a library. First and foremost, there is the exhaustive environmental impact statement required under federal and state law, the first draft of which, 3,800 pages long, was released in November 2004. Then there is also the Approval to Construct Jurisdictional Facilities from the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board. And the Chapter 91 Waterways License from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. And the General Stormwater Permit from the US Environmental Protection Agency. And many more, too numerous to list here.

Cape Wind has invested millions of dollars in this project, and no small part of that cost has gone to dotting every legal "i" and crossing every regulatory "t." But if Kennedy gets his way, all of Cape Wind's time, money, and effort will have been for naught -- crushed in a naked abuse of political power. And when that happens, it isn't only a Nantucket wind farm that will be dead, but another piece of the public's dwindling faith that the men and women it elects to office can be trusted to do the right thing. "Every child knows that you don't change the rules in the middle of the game," Kennedy says. Indeed. Grown senators are supposed to know it too.


Who's afraid of economic growth?

Behind today's trendy arguments about environmentalism, ethical living and happiness, there lurks a deep disdain for material progress

We live in a world in which there is an unprecedented degree of cynicism about the benefits of economic growth. Even though increasing affluence is still generally accepted as a worthwhile goal in principle, it is typically subject to numerous caveats. Among other things it is accused of damaging the environment, leading to inequality and failing to make people happy. Rapid economic growth is said to be unsustainable and, in any case, allegedly fails to raise our real standard of living. Will Hutton, a columnist on the London Observer, was right when he recently argued that 'the allegedly futile and empty materialist culture [is] deplored by conservative, liberal and religious fundamentalist alike'.

How did this situation come about? From an objective perspective it should be clear that economic growth has brought enormous social benefits and could bring many more in the future. Increasing affluence has enabled us to live longer and healthier lives than ever before. It has generally allowed a shortening of working hours and therefore more time for individuals to spend on leisure. Economic growth is also closely related to the development of science and culture. It is not growth itself that has gone wrong.

The aim of this essay is to examine how cynicism about growth has become a central element of contemporary anti-humanism. It will examine the indirect forms that growth scepticism takes while pointing out its link to environmentalism. It will then consider how anti-growth thinking has moved from being an elite middle-class phenomenon to an idea widely held throughout society. A key factor in this shift was the capitulation of the left to environmentalist and anti-growth thinking from the 1970s onwards. The slowdown in economic growth over the same period, which in turn helped undermine the legitimacy of the market, was also important.

What is growth scepticism?

It is necessary to start with a clarification of what is meant by 'growth scepticism' or 'anti-growth thinking'. It is used here to mean sets of ideas which question the benefits of economic growth. The term growth scepticism, used by Geoff Mulgan, a former senior government policy adviser in Britain, is perhaps a more accurate term than 'anti-growth thinking' as it captures the combination of formal support and questioning (2). Arguably better still would be 'growth cynicism', as that implies that negative views towards growth are part of a more general cynicism that pervades society.

It is important to recognise that direct attacks on economic growth have always been rare. The 'deep green' perspective, to use contemporary terminology, is relatively marginal. Few growth sceptics argue consistently for an end to economic growth, let alone for the economy to shrink. Instead, both historically and more recently, growth is typically linked to negative effects or qualified in some other way.

UK prime minister Tony Blair gave a typical example of growth scepticism in his speech to the G8 climate change conference on 2 November 2005. For him it is necessary to support economic growth while at the same time respecting the environment. He posed this approach in terms of a dilemma: 'How do we combine the need, not just for developed economies to grow, but in particular for the developing world to grow, and the need for people through economic growth to lift themselves out of poverty, to improve their living standards, with a proper responsible attitude to the environment?'

Similarly the doctrine of 'sustainable development', the mainstream conception of development for over two decades, both supports economic growth and calls for limits. For example, the Brundtland Report of 1987, a key official report on sustainability commissioned by the United Nations, at some points emphasises the need for growth and at others stresses environmental limits. Its favoured formula for reconciling the two is to call for the need for development, 'to ensure it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'.

In other words, mainstream politicians and thinkers have maintained a formal attachment to economic growth despite any reservations they may express. A direct attack on growth would be almost unthinkable. If they argued explicitly for a levelling off of living standards, let alone their decline, it is hard to see how they could maintain popular support. This tension - between formal support for growth while expressing doubts about its benefits - is particularly worth exploring. It provides an opening for a restatement of the need for economic growth as part of a broader development of a new humanism....

First, attacks on the alleged effects of economic growth - such as environmental degradation or inequality - frequently act as a proxy for the rejection of growth as a whole. Often the critic will be cynical about growth in general, but prefer to express his criticisms in relation to one or two particular areas. Even those who start off being in favour of growth in principle often become increasingly cynical as a result of becoming preoccupied with one particular area. Specific limited attacks, which may have some truth in particular instances, tend to grow into more general critiques.

Second, growth scepticism is part of a broader disaffection with the more general idea of social progress. It is no longer widely accepted as given that the future should be better than the past. Instead a sense of social decay and foreboding has become strong. Whereas people used to imagine utopian futures full of possibilities, it has become increasingly common to fear a dystopian future.

In addition, since economic growth is central to progress the two concepts cannot be easily untangled. As Benjamin Friedman, a professor of economics at Harvard, recently argued, for thinkers in the tradition of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment: 'although their starting point was the role of knowledge and their ultimate concern was the character of society in the broadest terms, the fulcrum of their theory of progress was economic arrangements.' He goes on to quote Auguste Comte, a nineteenth-century French philosopher who followed the Enlightenment tradition in this respect, who argued that 'all human progress, political, moral or intellectual, is inseparable from material progression'.

The link between economic growth and social progress tends to work both ways. Those who are in favour of progress generally see increasing affluence as playing a key role in advancing society. In contrast, those who doubt or even reject the possibility of progress tend also to be cynical about economic growth.

Finally, the assault on growth represents an implicit attack on the destabilising tendencies inherent in the market. The very element of capitalism that has been historically progressive - its ability to raise the productive forces - has come to be seen as problematic. No systematic alternative is offered - only the imposition of restraint on the market system. In this sense, the attacks on growth have a nihilistic element. In contrast, earlier critiques of capitalism, certainly those from the left, criticised the market on the grounds that it created barriers to the raising of productivity. Often the explicit conclusion was the need for a shift to a more productive form of society such as socialism.....

It should be clear by now that growth scepticism is closely linked to environmentalism. The idea that man should live in harmony with nature, rather than striving to dominate it, is arguably the key tenet of environmentalism. Human beings are seen as destructive creatures, both to themselves and to nature, if they stray from this path. From this starting point flows ideas such as the need to place limits on human activity and hostility towards the notion of progress. Animosity towards economic growth is therefore central to environmentalist thought.

Challenging the growth sceptics

If these are the arguments of the growth sceptics how can they be tackled? In many cases they seem to have a strong case. The world is highly unequal and there are numerous examples of environmental degradation. It is also indisputable that, despite growing affluence, a huge number of people feel unhappy in some way.

Perhaps the best starting point is to remind ourselves that economic growth and affluence have had enormous social benefits. These are all too easily forgotten in a society with little sense of history. Our lives are substantially better than those of any previous generations. Anne Krueger, first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), looked at some of the key global indicators over the previous half century in a speech in 2002. She is worth quoting at length

'Infant mortality has declined from 180 per 1000 births in 1950 to 60 per 1000 births. Literacy rates have risen from an average of 40 per cent in the 1950s to over 70 per cent today. World poverty has declined, despite still-high population growth in the developing world. Since 1980, the number of poor people, defined as those living on less than a dollar a day, has fallen by about 200 million, much of it due to the rapid growth of China and India.

'If there is one measure that can summarise the impact of these enormous gains, it is life expectancy. Only 50 years ago, life in much of the developing world was pretty much what it used in be in the rich nations a couple of centuries ago: "nasty, brutish and short." But today, life expectancy in the developing world averages 65 years, up from under 40 years in 1950. Life expectancy was increasing even in sub-Saharan Africa until the effects of years of regional conflicts and the AIDS epidemic brought about a reversal. The gap between life expectancy between the developed and developing world has narrowed, from a gap of 30 years in 1950 to only about 10 years today.'

Of course there is still a huge amount to do despite the successes of the past half-century. According to the World Bank some 2.7 billion people still lived on less than $2 a day in 2001, of which 1.1 billion lived on less than a dollar (23). But the growth sceptics are not arguing for ambitious new development to bring Third World living standards up to those in the West. On the contrary, at every stage they cast doubt on the benefits of growth. However, while it is important to use facts to help refute growth scepticism such a procedure is insufficient on its own. It is also necessary to separate the negative forms that growth can take - for instance inequality or environmental degradation - from the principle of affluence itself. It also means spelling out the broader benefits of growth such as its link to cultural and scientific advance.....

The importance of economic growth to providing a better environment should be clear. As a general rule the environment in the developed world is far better for humans than in the poorer countries. For many people in the world, malnutrition, as well as a lack of clean water and modern sanitation, are key killers. In addition, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 1.6 million people a year - that is one person every 20 seconds - dies as a result of indoor air pollution. As WHO notes:

'More than half of the world's population rely on dung, wood, crop waste or coal to meet their most basic energy needs. Cooking and heating with such solid fuels on open fires or stoves without chimneys leads to indoor air pollution. This indoor smoke contains a range of health-damaging pollutants including small soot or dust particles that are able to penetrate deep into the lungs.'

Yet those of us lucky enough to live in the developed world do not need to cope with such problems. Since the overwhelming majority of us are connected to the electricity grid, gas mains or both, the scourge of indoor air pollution is not a killer. Economic development has played a key role in improving the environment for many millions of people, although many more could gain from its benefits in the future.

Nor is material development just about economics in the narrow sense of the term. Greater affluence, including more consumer goods and better infrastructure, should certainly be welcomed, but there is also a wider story. Economic growth is also linked to broader scientific and cultural advance. Greater material development provides the resources for science to develop and provide even further benefits for humanity. As humans become free from the tyranny of scarcity, they are also better able to spend time engaging in cultural pursuits.....

Environmentalism, and with it growth scepticism, developed as a mainstream force in two phases from the 1970s. In the first stage, from the early 1970s, there developed an emphasis on the need to place limits on human activity. There are many indicators of how, after being a minority force in the 1960s, it became mainstream in the following decade. For instance, in 1970 the US celebrated its first Earth Day. In 1972 the United Nations proclaimed its Stockholm Declaration of the United Nations on the environment. Best-selling texts, such as The Limits to Growth (1972) and Small is Beautiful (1973), emphasised the dangers of resource depletion and pollution. By the mid-1970s, many prominent economists, usually from a conservative perspective, were attempting to defend the benefits of growth, including Wilfred Beckerman, Gottfried Haberler, William Nordhaus, Mancur Olson, and Robert Solow.

Growth scepticism found its way into both radical economics and public policy. It was in this period that the left gave up on the vision of socialism as a more productive alternative to the market. Instead the emphasis shifted towards regulating the market to curb its most destructive tendencies.

In the second stage, which roughly dates from the late 1980s the idea of precaution became accepted within the mainstream. It emphasised not only the actual damage being done to the environment by humanity but potential threats in the future. The increasing institutionalisation of the precautionary principle, as well as the notion of sustainable development (for example, in the 1987 Brundtland Report), were expressions of this growing consensus. Both stressed the need to place limits on human activity to thwart potential threats to future generations.

It was also implicit, and sometimes even made explicit, that the Third World could not expect to reach the economic level of the West. For example, the influential Brandt Report of 1980 argues that: 'We must not surrender to the idea that the whole world should copy the models of highly industrialised countries.'....

The defeat of the left and radical movements.

The left's capitulation on growth from the 1970s onwards was a precondition for growth scepticism becoming a mainstream outlook. As it said farewell to the working class, it gave an increasingly warm welcome to ecology. The capitulation of the left on economic growth parallels its defeat and marginalisation in political struggles. As the remnants of the old labour movement were defeated from the 1970s onwards, they became increasingly receptive to anti-growth and more generally environmentalist ideas.

Under such conditions the left stopped providing social alternatives. Instead its focus turned to the most destructive aspects of the market. At the same time as accepting that there is no alternative to the market it became a staunch advocate of regulation and restraint.

The demise of 1960s radicalism. The defeat of the student and youth radicalism of the 1960s also bolstered the mood of pessimism and so strengthened environmentalism. The strong element of anti-consumerism in the 1960s counterculture - the assumption that individuals were too preoccupied with the pursuit of material goods - helped facilitate this process....

For anyone committed to human progress it is imperative to launch a counter-attack against growth scepticism. Anti-growth thinking is a central part of the narrow consensus that nowadays passes for politics. Growth scepticism is integral to the idea that human potential should be constrained as a dangerous force. Therefore restating the case for growth is a central part of arguing for the power of humanity to create a better world.

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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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8 May, 2006


Ozone smog levels have plummeted during the last three years. Between 2003 and 2005, the fraction of the nation's ozone monitors violating the federal 8-hour ozone standard plunged from 43 percent down to a record-low 18 percent. The last three years were the three lowest-ozone years on record.

Environmental fear factories aren't celebrating. Shortly after the 2005 ozone season ended, the environmental group Clean Air Watch proclaimed "Smog Problems Nearly Double in 2005." Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection warned "Number of Ozone Action Days Up from Last Year." And EPA's New England regional office noted that "New England Experienced More Smog Days during Recent Summer." Writing on 2005 ozone levels in Connecticut, a New York Times headline warned "A Hot Summer Meant More Smog.

Ozone levels were indeed higher in 2005 when compared with 2004. 2005 was only the second lowest ozone year since the 1970s, while 2004 was the lowest. Ozone levels were so improbably low in 2004 that it would have been astounding if ozone wasn't higher in 2005. The real news was the unprecedented plunge in areas violating the ozone standard, and the fact that 2005 was one of the hottest years on record -- conditions that favor high ozone -- yet ozone levels remained at historic lows. Both stories have gone unnoticed by the mainstream media.

Fine particulate matter has also been dropping. It declined steadily each year from 1999 to 2004, before rising a few percent in 2005. Like ozone, it can jog up and down from year to year based on weather, so the rise in 2005 isn't cause for alarm. Emissions and ambient levels of PM2.5-forming pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and volatile organic compounds, continue to go down. Just as for ozone, the press has missed the drop in PM2.5 violations. Thirty percent of monitoring sites violated federal standards in 2001, but the nation cut that percentage in half by the end of 2005.

The medley of environmental scares continues as the American Lung Association (ALA) releases the latest installment of its annual State of the Air report. In some ways the report is an improvement over previous editions. Where ALA used to create the false impression that air pollution was increasing and would continue to increase, State of the Air now admits that both air pollution and emissions have been declining, and that upcoming regulations will continue to clean the air.

Nevertheless, State of the Air 2006 is still mainly nonsense on stilts. ALA continues to claim that nearly half of all Americans live in areas that violate the 8-hour ozone standard. ALA used data from 2002-2004 for its estimates -- a period for which 30 percent of ozone monitors violated the 8-hour standard. But ozone was much lower 2003-2005, with a national violation rate of only 18 percent. ALA's claim of high ozone levels today is thus based on a spike in ozone that occurred four years ago, back in the summer of 2002.

Even with the older data, ALA still counts clean areas as dirty. For example, ALA counts all 3 million people in San Diego County as living in areas that violate the 8-hour ozone standard. But only Alpine, a small rural town, actually violates the standard. The other 99 percent of San Diegans breathe clean air and have for many years. Nevertheless, under ALA's grading system, if even a tiny part of a county violates a pollution standard, ALA counts all people in the county as breathing air that violates the standard. ALA counted clean areas as dirty in dozens of other populous counties around the country, including Los Angeles, Cook (Chicago), and Maricopa (Phoenix), artificially inflating its "dirty air" tally by tens of millions of people.

Even in areas that have the worst air pollution in the nation, ALA wasn't satisfied with reporting actual pollution levels and instead resorted to pollution inflation. For example, ALA claims Riverside County in California averaged 90 days per year exceeding the 8-hour ozone standard during 2002-2004. But even Banning, the worst location in the county, averaged 50 exceedance days per year, while Indio, the best location, averaged 17.

State of the Air has received less and less press coverage with each successive edition. Doom-and-gloom is mother's milk in journalism. But ALA's report looks pretty much the same each year, and is probably starting to provoke yawns in the nation's newsrooms. If we could reduce press coverage of State of the Air as quickly as we're reducing actual air pollution, we'd be in pretty good shape. Or maybe not. Nature abhors a vacuum, and so does the environmental fear industry. If recent publicity is any guide, greenhouse gases have become the new air pollution.


State control of resources raises oil costs

A principal reason fuel prices are high and likely to remain so is a trend worldwide toward state ownership and control of oil resources that is raising questions about how quickly large tracts of oil and gas will be developed and made available to consumers.

While some state-owned oil companies, such as Saudi Arabia's Aramco, readily develop their vast oil reserves to help hold down prices and satisfy the demands of consuming nations, other major tracts of oil have fallen into the hands of governments that are less attuned or outright hostile to pleas from drivers around the world who want them to continue the flow of cheap and readily available fuel.

Bolivia, with the second-largest reserves of natural gas and oil in South America, this week became the latest example of a nation to seize control of critical energy facilities that had been operated by private companies that were gearing up to produce the fuel needed by hungry markets. Bolivian President Evo Morales' move on Monday to send national guard troops to take over Exxon Mobil, Petrobras, Repsol and other oil companies' facilities helped send the price of oil to near-record levels. The president scoffed at protests from companies that said the radical move would prevent future development, saying "foreign petroleum companies that announced they will freeze their investments can leave."

Bolivia's action shook the markets not so much because the Latin nation is a significant producer of oil -- currently it is not -- but because of the "psychological" impact of bottling up yet another critical reserve of fuel at a time of tight supplies, said Societe Generale analyst Deborah White. "Nationalizations or increased state control tend to be followed by production lower than it otherwise would have been," she said.

The American Petroleum Institute estimates that nearly 80 percent of the world's oil reserves are owned by national oil companies and 6 percent are controlled by investor-owned corporations such as Exxon Mobil and Shell. That trend -- and the tendency of states to skimp on investment in future production so they can spend their oil riches on other projects and causes -- prompted the Energy Information Administration late last year to nearly double its forecast for world oil prices, saying they would stay at high levels because of lack of investment. The trend emerged in recent years as two of the top oil producers -- Russia and Venezuela -- asserted control over their oil industries, precipitating sharp drops in investment, development and production. Their actions laid the foundations for today's soaring prices.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a left-leaning nationalist and populist whose example inspired Mr. Morales, is the most outspoken advocate of high oil prices. Venezuela sits atop the Western Hemisphere's largest oil reserves and historically has been a top supplier of the United States. The U.S. energy agency has concluded that since his election in 1998, Mr. Chavez's goal has been to increase the oil revenues that sustain his government and the country's economy through price increases rather than increased output. As a key member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), he regularly lobbies for production cuts to keep markets tight and prices high. Output has fallen from a high of 3.3 million barrels a day to about 2.76 million, though analysts say Venezuela is one of only a handful of countries that could be increasing its output substantially to ease strains in world oil markets.

Mr. Chavez this year moved to take a bigger cut of profits earned by private oil companies under contract, and seized some assets of France's Total and Italy's Eni SpA, causing western oil companies to step back from further engagement though Venezuela needs their expertise to develop its oil fields. Rather than using the profits from oil operations to invest in new production, as a private company would in response to high oil prices, Mr. Chavez has used the countries' oil wealth for economic development, to aid the poor and lavish favors on friendly countries and causes. Cuba and other Caribbean and Central American countries receive oil from Venezuela on preferential terms.

Russia, whose privatization of the oil sector in the 1990s caused a rapid increase in production that catapulted it into the world's second-largest producer behind Saudi Arabia, in 2004 moved to take control of its largest oil company, Yukos, as well as increase the state's already sizable share of revenue and profits from oil operations. The result has been a precipitous fall in new investment and production in the oil giant. While Russian President Vladimir Putin is not a member of OPEC or a vocal advocate of high oil prices like Mr. Chavez, he has said he views Russia's vast oil resources as a national treasure that should be preserved and cultivated for the good of the Russian people rather than private firms. He has taken a go-slow approach to opening up unexplored and undeveloped, but potentially huge, oil reserves in eastern Siberia.

Most oil companies in OPEC members in the Middle East have been state-owned since the 1970s, when the world's oil-rich nations first flexed their power and formed the cartel to maximize their revenues through high prices. OPEC's control over prices was blunted during a period of rapid growth in non-OPEC oil output during the 1980s and 1990s, but it has emerged as the reigning power over the oil markets once again.

While OPEC members frequently say they aim to keep oil prices in a moderate range, the failure of most to significantly increase output in response to growing demand in recent years is what led to today's record oil prices. Among the states with the largest oil resources under their control are Iraq, Iran and Nigeria, Africa's largest producer.

State-owned oil companies outside of OPEC also have aimed at raising prices rather than production so as to maximize the revenue coming into government coffers. Mexico's Pemex oil company was created in 1938 under provisions of the Mexican Constitution, which prohibits any foreign ownership of the country's oil riches. Mexico is the world's fifth-largest producer and a critical supplier to the United States. "There have been complaints from Pemex managers and Mexico's Energy Ministry that Pemex does not have sufficient funds available for exploration and investment, owing to high financial burdens placed upon the company by the Mexican government," according to the Energy Information Administration. Investment has picked up in Mexico since 2000 under President Vincente Fox's administration.

Even the few remaining producers like the United States that are advocates of private control have government policies that put critical oil resources out of reach for exploration and development. Environmental opposition against drilling on the outer continental shelf and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has left sizable reserves unavailable there for decades.

With the vast majority of the world's reserves controlled by powerful states, Max Schulz, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said that charges in Congress that major oil companies are driving up oil prices seem bizarre.

"The real giants are the state-owned oil companies," he said. "Compared to them, Big Oil seems like small fry."



By Michael Duffy

Last week saw the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. Environmental groups continue to use this as part of their irrational campaign against nuclear energy. In truth, Chernobyl was caused by communist managerial incompetence, not nuclear technology. France went nuclear in 1974, has had no significant accidents and today has 78 per cent of its power coming from nuclear plants. Its energy is almost the cheapest and its air probably the cleanest in Europe.

Last month Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the USSR, wrote that Chernobyl "was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later. Indeed the Chernobyl catastrophe was a historic turning point . the system as we knew it could no longer continue." This is an amazing admission. It suggests that Chernobyl should be seen in a new light, as an event that helped free a large part of the Earth's surface from a regime that had killed some 20 million human beings.

We don't know how many people will die as a result of Chernobyl, but it will be fewer than the number killed by the Russian Revolution. The Chernobyl Forum, which includes the World Health Organisation and the International Atomic Energy Agency, says 56 people died after the accident and up to 9300 more will die. Greenpeace claims 100,000 will die. It's a huge difference in prediction. Who do you believe: a United Nations body that depends on its reputation for accuracy, or the green fear factory?

Recently I interviewed Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace, on radio and asked why he quit the organisation. He said: "I left in the mid-'80s when the policy started to drift away from science and logic into these kind of zero-tolerance positions that I believe are based more on sensation and fund-raising around scare tactics. Look at the campaign against genetically modified crops and the whole 'Frankenstein food'. These are scare words that are attached to what is actually one of the most important advances to genetic science in history. For example, taking a gene from corn and creating the 'golden rice' which could eliminate blindness in half a million kids every year in Asia and Africa, and could eliminate chronic vitamin A deficiency in over 200 million people in the rice-eating countries."

Moore, who has an honours degree in forest biology and a PhD in ecology, says he left Greenpeace when "I was an international director, one of five. My fellow international directors had no science education. Most of them were political activists or entrepreneur environmentalists, for want of a better word, and they decided we should start a campaign to ban chlorine worldwide. I said, 'Chlorine is one of the elements in the periodic table. I don't think that's in our jurisdiction.' And they said, 'No, this is a good campaign. Chlorine is the devil's element, and it works really well for fund-raising and media and everything.'

"I said, 'Just a minute, 75 per cent of our medicines are based on chlorine chemistry, and adding chlorine to drinking water was the single biggest advance in the history of public health, and the best way to deliver that slightly chlorinated drinking water to the general public is in a PVC pipe. So give me a break. I cannot go along with this. You guys make a list of the chlorine compounds that you don't like and we'll look at them one by one like any regulatory agency would do, but you can't just condemn chlorine. We put it in swimming pools so that people don't get cholera and tetanus.'" The others weren't persuaded. Moore says: "That was the beginning of my having to leave the organisation that I helped found."

These days the green movement often seems driven by left-wing rather than environmental causes. The biggest example is population growth, which is the greatest single danger to Australia's environment. When is the last time you heard a green activist even mention immigration, a major source of that growth? When the Herald-Sun newspaper in Melbourne claimed before the 2004 election that the Greens political party wanted to reduce the population by 2 million, Senator Bob Brown took it to the Press Council on the ground that this was not the party's policy - and won.

The activists focus on other issues, such as globalisation. They claim free trade moves dirty factories offshore, thereby exporting Western environmental problems to the Third World. But in his new book, The Undercover Economist, Tim Harford of the Financial Times points out that "foreign investment in polluting industries is the fastest growing segment of foreign investment coming into the United States. In contrast, foreign investment in clean industries is the fastest growing segment of American investments abroad." The reason, Harford says, is that "seriously polluting industries like bulk chemical production require high levels of skill, reliable infrastructure and - since a lot of capital investment is involved - political stability. Why jeopardise that by moving the plant to Ethiopia to save a few dollars on environmental costs?" He notes that air pollution in China has dropped substantially as globalisation has boosted its economy, a correlation also seen in the other major developing nations of Brazil and Mexico.

It's strange that so many of the positions now advocated by green activists actually pose serious threats to the environment.



Discussing: Smith, T.M., Yin, X. and Gruber, A. 2006. Variations in annual global precipitation (1979-2004), based on the Global Precipitation Climatology Project 2.5o analysis. Geophysical Research Letters 33: 10.1029/2005.

What was done

Noting that "the Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) has produced merged satellite and in situ global precipitation estimates, with a record length now over 26 years beginning 1979 (Huffman et al., 1997; Adler et al., 2003)," the authors used empirical orthogonal function (EOF) analysis to study annual GPCP-derived precipitation variations over the period of record.

What was learned

The first three EOFs accounted for 52% of the observed variance in the precipitation data. Mode 1 was associated with mature ENSO conditions and correlated strongly with the Southern Oscillation Index, while Mode 2 was associated with the strong warm ENSO episodes of 1982/83 and 1997/98. Mode 3, on the other hand, was uncorrelated with ENSO but was associated with tropical trend-like changes that were correlated with interdecadal warming of tropical sea surface temperatures. Globally, however, Smith et al. report that "the mode 3 variations average to near zero, so this mode does not represent any net change in the amount of precipitation over the analysis period."

What it means

Citing several climate modeling studies, Huntington (2006) states there is a "theoretical expectation" that global warming will result in significant increases in global precipitation. However, as a result of their analysis of global precipitation data over the period 1979-2004 (when climate alarmists claim the world warmed at a rate and to a degree that was unprecedented over the past two millennia), Smith et al. report that most of the precipitation variations in their global data set "are associated with ENSO and have no trend." As for the variations that are not associated with ENSO and that do exhibit trends, they say that the trends are associated "with increased tropical precipitation over the Pacific and Indian Oceans associated with local warming of the sea." However, they note that this increased precipitation "is balanced by decreased precipitation in other regions," so that "the global average change is near zero." Over the earth as a whole, therefore, one of the major "theoretical expectations" of the climate modeling community remains unfulfilled, even under the supposedly highly favorable thermal conditions of the last quarter century, which observation suggests that their other major "theoretical expectation," i.e., catastrophic CO2-induced global warming, may well remain unfulfilled too.

CO2 Science Magazine, 26 April 2006

The abstract from the study mentioned above follows:

The Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) has produced a combined satellite and in situ global precipitation estimate, beginning 1979. The annual average GPCP estimates are here analyzed over 1979-2004 to evaluate the large-scale variability over the period. Data inhomogeneities are evaluated and found to not be responsible for the major variations, including systematic changes over the period. Most variations are associated with El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) episodes. There are also tropical trend-like changes over the period, correlated with interdecadal warming of the tropical SSTs and uncorrelated with ENSO. Trends have spatial variations with both positive and negative values, with a global-average near zero.


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 May, 2006


A polar bear expert debunks the scares

Tim Flannery is one of Australia's best-known scientists and authors. That doesn't mean what he says is correct or accurate. That was clearly demonstrated when he recently ventured into the subject of climate change and polar bears. Climate change is threatening to drive polar bears into extinction within 25 years, according to Flannery. That is a startling conclusion and certainly is a surprising revelation to the polar bear researchers who work here and to the people who live here. We really had no idea.

The evidence for climate change effects on polar bears described by Flannery is incorrect. He says polar bears typically gave birth to triplets, but now they usually have just one cub. That is wrong. All research and traditional knowledge shows that triplets, though they do occur, are very infrequent and are by no means typical. Polar bears generally have two cubs - sometimes three and sometimes one. He says the bears' weaning time has risen to 18 months from 12. That is wrong. The weaning period has not changed. Polar bears worldwide have a three-year reproduction cycle, except for one part of Hudson Bay for a period in the mid-1980s when the cycle was shorter.

One polar bear population (western Hudson Bay) has declined since the 1980s and the reproductive success of females in that area seems to have decreased. We are not certain why, but it appears that ecological conditions in the mid-1980s were exceptionally good. Climate change is having an effect on the west Hudson population of polar bears, but really, there is no need to panic. Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present. It is noteworthy that the neighbouring population of southern Hudson Bay does not appear to have declined, and another southern population (Davis Strait) may actually be over-abundant.

I understand that people who do not live in the north generally have difficulty grasping the concept of too many polar bears in an area. People who live here have a pretty good grasp of what that is like to have too many polar bears around. This complexity is why so many people find the truth less entertaining than a good story. It is entirely appropriate to be concerned about climate change, but it is just silly to predict the demise of polar bears in 25 years based on media-assisted hysteria.

Religious Climate Change?

The Religious Left thinks that global warming is about to break-up the Religious Right

On the religious Left, the great hope these days is that the Religious Right is melting down over Global Warming. Liberal evangelical activist Jim Wallis rejoiced about the crack-up in a recent column, claiming that "the Religious Right is losing control" thanks to environmentalist evangelicals. Wallis, head of "Sojourners" and author of God's Politics: Why the American Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Just Does Not Get It, is predicting a "sea change" among evangelicals since the Religious Right has "now lost control of the environmental issue."

The reason for Wallis's optimism is the newly-created Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI), endorsed by 86 religious leaders, which declared early this year that "human-induced climate change is real" and which urged legislation limiting carbon dioxide emissions. Those endorsing the ECI were mostly academics from evangelical colleges, with the notable exception of mega-church pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren. The New York Times and other media outlets lavished much attention on ECI's stance.

Absent from the ECI endorsement was the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and its long-time Washington representative, Richard Cizik. An enthusiast for environmental causes, Cizik is prominently included in Vanity Fair's May 2006 "Green Issue," which features the cover-line, "A Graver Threat than Terrorism: Global Warming." Inside is a full-page shot of Cizik, clad in clerical black and walking barefoot across the water, back-dropped by an apocalyptic and no doubt very hot landscape. Vanity Fair reports that Cizik often cites Revelation 11:18's ostensible warning that God will "destroy those who destroy the earth". Amen to that," Vanity Fair concludes.

Why has the ECI gotten so much play? Evangelicals have become the Republican party's largest and most reliable voting constituency, thanks in large part to concerns about abortion and homosexuality. If environmental issues can divide these voters, it might spell doom for the Republican coalition. So Jim Wallis is excited. "The Evangelical Climate Initiative is of enormous importance and could be a tipping point in the climate change debate, according to one secular environmental leader I talked to," he writes. Concern about the environment, he hopes, will lead to an evangelical embrace other issues of the Left. All of which hopes are somewhat dampened by the National Association of Evangelicals' decision not to join the ECI.

According to Wallis, Cizik and NAE president Ted Haggard, a Colorado mega-church pastor, attended environmental seminars and have experienced an "epiphany" on climate change. They were fully onboard with the issue. That is, Wallis laments, until the "Religious Right reared its head." Twenty-two of the "Right's prominent leaders" publicly asked the NAE not to adopt a position on climate change. "Global Warming is not a consensus issue," warned conservatives, including Focus on the Family's James Dobson, Prison Fellowship's Charles Colson, and the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land. (This statement was also signed by the then-interim president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, for which I work.)

"We are evangelicals and we care about God's creation," read the Dobson-Colson-Land letter. "However, we believe there should be room for Bible-believing evangelicals to disagree about the cause, severity, and solutions to the global warming issue." The letter urged NAE to foster "unity" in the Christian community.

NAE President Haggard wrote to the Dobson-Colson-Land group that the NAE executive committee recognized the "ongoing debate regarding the causes and origins of global warming" and understood the "lack of consensus among the evangelical community on this issue." NAE staffers were directed to "not exceed in any fashion our approved and adopted statements concerning the environment," as found in a 2003 document called "For the Health of a Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility."

No doubt the NAE was responding to Dobson, Colson, et al. But their response also reflected the truth that evangelicals do not have a clear scriptural or historical teaching on Global Warming--as they do on an issue such as same-sex marriage.

After the NAE vote, Cizik withdrew his signature from the Evangelical Climate Initiative, telling Christianity Today that he wanted "to display an accommodating spirit to those who don't yet accept the science on the severity of the problem." Undoubtedly the organizers of the ECI were disappointed about the absence of the NAE, which represents 45,000 churches.

Undeterred, Wallis insists that the Religious Right has been able to win with its "wedge issues" only when it could "control a monologue on the relationship between faith and politics." He wants to deflect evangelical attention away from abortion and homosexuality and towards Global Warming and poverty, focusing on an expanded welfare and regulatory state and reduced U.S. sovereignty in the world.

But contrary to Wallis's hopes, it does not appear that most mainstream evangelicals are likely to flip politically as a result of global warming. Those who argued against NAE's adopting a Global Warming stance, like Dobson and Colson, head popular para-church ministries with hundreds of thousands of supporters. In contrast, almost all of the ECI signers are academics from seminaries and Christian colleges.

Among many evangelical academics there is an ongoing self-consciousness and about their evangelical identity. Some of them want to disassociate themselves from the traditional Religious Right and its seeming preoccupation with issues of personal morality. Embracing legislation to reduce carbon emissions, backed up by a few vague scripture verses, has become an easy way to disassociate from old evangelical stereotypes.

According to Wallis, "biblically-faithful Christians" are soon going to turn against the Religious Right and instead follow his Religious Left. Instead, it seems more likely that an easy acceptance of apocalyptic warnings about a burning planet will ultimately confirm, not overturn, the political leanings of conservative evangelicals.



The Green/Left twist and turn on this issue as they do with so many other issues. Their simple worldview must not be challenged by facts. Some Australian findings

A claim that disturbed sediments at an archeological site in western NSW point the finger at humans for the extinction of Australia's megafauna has reignited the debate about what killed the giant beasts. Scientists have long argued about the fate of the animals, which included the two-tonne wombat-like Diprotodon, the two-metre-tall flightless bird Genyornis and giant kangaroos. A team led by archeologist Judith Field of the University of Sydney, who found megafauna bones and stone tools at Cuddie Springs in western NSW in the early 1990s, say climate change - Ice Age aridity - killed the megafauna, about 30,000 years ago. But others, such as Richard Gillespie and Barry Brook, who have made the latest claim, say that Aborigines caused the mass extinction either by hunting or by habitat destruction, about 45,000 years ago.

Gillespie, a radiocarbon dating expert and a visiting fellow at the Australian National University, and Brook, a population ecologist and senior research fellow in the school of environmental research at Charles Darwin University, say the animal bones, artefacts and charcoal in the sediments at Cuddie Springs do not age with depth. They say this suggests the sediments have been mixed. University of Sydney archeologist Richard Fullagar, a colleague of Field's, concedes there is "some interesting discussion on radiocarbon dating statistics", but says "the explanation they put forward is fundamentally flawed. It's wrong". "It's not like a city in the Middle East; you've got sediments where Aboriginal people have been camping for long periods of time, the artefacts are going to be scuffed around and moved around a bit," he says.

Field's people say there was a 15,000-year overlap between the time of arrival of humans and the extinction of the megafauna, suggesting long co-existence before a natural death for the animals. Gillespie, Brook and others say the overlap is about 5000 years. "The coincidence of the time of arrival [of humans] to the megafauna extinction to us looks horribly suspicious," Gillespie says.

Gillespie and Brook, in the journal Archaeology in Oceania, say the sediments have been mixed over time, probably in floods. They studied 20 published datings on material from the layers bearing bones, artefacts and charcoal. If the layers were undisturbed, as the excavators say, the ages should increase with depth. But Gillespie and Brook found that all the charcoal dates were statistically the same age, about 36,000 years old. And sand in the two upper layers was much younger than charcoal from the same levels, suggesting that the sediments had been mixed, and that some of the charcoal had been redeposited.

They also studied the animal bones for traces of protein, which have been found in stone tools at the site. "The bones from Cuddie Springs that we looked at ... there wasn't any protein there," Gillespie says. "This suggests that the bones are very old. Some of the stone tools have got hair and blood residues on them where the protein has survived ... this is anomalous if you don't find any protein in the bones in the same layer."

Gillespie says the animals were probably hunted into oblivion - "You don't have to kill every one of them for them to go extinct" - and that "people altered the landscape a bit when they turned up". Fullagar places himself in the "multi-causal" camp but rules out hunting: "There's certainly scavenging but there's no spear points or spears stuck in bones. "Hunting is very difficult and potentially dangerous," Fullagar says. "Hunters are not very successful and the chance of it causing extinction is very low. "It seems a mix of things have caused it and climate is probably standing out."

The debate goes on. Gillespie says: "It's getting to a point where two camps are down in their bunkers and there's a fair bit of heat about but nobody wants to give in. "Some people are never going to change their opinion but I think a consensus will probably be reached. It will turn up soon ... the evidence is mounting for our side. "They don't want to see the Aborigines as anything except the 'noble green'."

The Australian, 3 May 2006


Some 12,000 years ago, North American mammoths, ancient horses, and many other large mammals vanished within the short span of perhaps 400 years. Scientists cannot be sure what killed them, but a new study suggests that humans aren't off the hook just yet. The large animals' disappearance at the end of the Pleistocene era (50,000 to 10,000 years ago) happened at about the same time that many large animals, or megafauna, went extinct around the globe. Victims included species such as the saber-toothed cat and the diprotodon-a rhinolike beast that was the world's largest marsupial. Now a new study of the fossil record fuels the debate about the cause of the creatures' fate.

In North America two major events occurred at about the same time as the megafaunal extinctions: The planet cooled, and early humans arrived from Asia to populate the continent. For decades scientists have debated which of these factors was responsible for widespread megafaunal extinctions. Was the climate change simply too much for the animals to withstand? Or did the ancient mammals succumb to human hunting pressure? Many experts suggest a combination of these factors and perhaps others, such as disease. "It's hard to see this as one of those things where a single piece of evidence will make it obvious what happened," said Scott Wing, a paleobiologist at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. "The phenomenon that people are trying to explain is not something that happened in one place at one time. It happened across the globe, at different times on different continents. I think that there are clearly multiple factors involved."

Previous research had suggested that Alaska's caballoid horse species became extinct some 500 years before the first humans arrived. Those dates would mean that overhunting could not have contributed to the extinction of Alaska's ancient horses-though humans could have contributed to the demise of North American mammoths, which stayed on the scene for perhaps another thousand years. But Andrew Solow, a geostatistician at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, and colleagues have published a statistical evaluation of the fossil record that suggests that humans shouldn't be exonerated just yet. Their data, to be published in tomorrow's issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal that horses did disappear before mammoths, though only by perhaps 200 years. Their findings also suggest that both species may not have gone extinct until after human arrival-so human hunting may well have played a role in their demise.

"You can't just take the latest fossil remains [and assign their date] as the time of extinction," Solow said. "There's a sampling issue. "We constructed a confidence region-that's the set of dates that you can't rule out with confidence as the extinction times." Those dates suggested the possibility that both caballoid horses and mammoths survived well past the generally accepted arrival dates for humans.

The results don't identify the cause of the extinctions, and experts say a fossilized "smoking gun" seems unlikely. "Even if a fossil told you that [species] survived past the arrival of humans, it's still the case that there was climate change going on as well as hunting pressure," Solow said. "I think the notion that there was a single cause is probably not right. It's probably more complicated than that."

The Smithsonian's Wing believes that the complicated circumstances leave paleobiologists and others with their work cut out for them to determine just why so many of the world's large animals vanished. "I think that leaves everyone with a big job to do to investigate new sites, date remains, date human occupations, and try to do the best that they can," he said. "It may take a long time to accumulate enough evidence. But this is the kind of thing that has to happen."

National Geographic, 1 May 2006


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

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

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 May, 2006

Hybrids Consume More Energy Than SUVs

As Americans become increasingly interested in fuel economy and global warming, they are beginning to make choices about the vehicles they drive based on fuel economy and to a lesser degree emissions. But many of those choices aren't actually the best in terms of vehicle lifetime energy usage and the cost to society over the full lifetime of a car or truck.

CNW Marketing Research Inc. spent two years collecting data on the energy necessary to plan, build, sell, drive and dispose of a vehicle from initial concept to scrappage. This includes such minutia as plant to dealer fuel costs, employee driving distances, electricity usage per pound of material used in each vehicle and literally hundreds of other variables.

To put the data into understandable terms for consumers, it was translated into a "dollars per lifetime mile" figure. That is, the Energy Cost per mile driven. The most Energy Expensive vehicle sold in the U.S. in calendar year 2005: Maybach at $11.58 per mile. The least expensive: Scion xB at $0.48 cents. While neither of those figures is surprising, it is interesting that driving a hybrid vehicle costs more in terms of overall energy consumed than comparable non-hybrid vehicles. For example, the Honda Accord Hybrid has an Energy Cost per Mile of $3.29 while the conventional Honda Accord is $2.18. Put simply, over the "Dust to Dust" lifetime of the Accord Hybrid, it will require about 50 percent more energy than the non-hybrid version.

One of the reasons hybrids cost more than non-hybrids is the manufacture, replacement and disposal of such items as batteries, electric motors (in addition to the conventional engine), lighter weight materials and complexity of the power package.

And while many consumers and environmentalists have targeted sport utility vehicles because of their lower fuel economy and/or perceived inefficiency as a means of transportation, the energy cost per mile shows at least some of that disdain is misplaced. For example, while the industry average of all vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2005 was $2.28 cents per mile, the Hummer H3 (among most SUVs) was only $1.949 cents per mile. That figure is also lower than all currently offered hybrids and Honda Civic at $2.42 per mile.

"If a consumer is concerned about fuel economy because of family budgets or depleting oil supplies, it is perfectly logical to consider buying high- fuel-economy vehicles," says Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing Research, Inc. "But if the concern is the broader issues such as environmental impact of energy usage, some high-mileage vehicles actually cost society more than conventional or even larger models over their lifetime. "We believe this kind of data is important in a consumer's selection of transportation," says Spinella. "Basing purchase decisions solely on fuel economy or vehicle size does not get to the heart of the energy usage issue." The goal of overall worldwide energy conservation and the cost to society in general -- not just the auto buyer -- can often be better addressed by being aware of a car or truck's "dust to dust" energy requirements, he said. This study is not the end of the energy-usage discussion. "We hope to see a dialog begin that puts educated and aware consumers into energy policy decisions," Spinella said. "We undertook this research to see if perceptions (about energy efficiency) were true in the real world."


'Clear' human impact on climate?

Rather surprisingly, the BBC report below provides a reasonably balanced commentary on the recent semi-official report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. Most of the media have boomed the report uncritically. Documentation of the biases of the authors of the report can be found here (Scroll down)

A scientific report commissioned by the US government has concluded there is "clear evidence" of climate change caused by human activities. The report, from the federal Climate Change Science Program, said trends seen over the last 50 years "cannot be explained by natural processes alone". It found that temperatures have increased in the lower atmosphere as well as at the Earth's surface. However, scientists involved in the report say better data is badly needed.

Observations down the years have suggested that the troposphere, the lower atmosphere, is not warming up, despite evidence that temperatures at the Earth's surface are rising. This goes against generally accepted tenets of atmospheric physics, and has been used by "climate sceptics" as proof that there is no real warming. The new report, Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere, re-analyses the atmospheric data and concludes that tropospheric temperatures are rising.

This means, it says, that the impact of human activities upon the global climate is clear. "The observed patterns of change over the past 50 years cannot be explained by natural processes alone, nor by the effect of short-lived atmospheric constituents (such as aerosols and tropospheric ozone) alone," it says.

Holes in the data

But there are some big uncertainties which still need resolving. Globally, the report concludes, tropospheric temperatures have risen by 0.10 and 0.20C per decade since 1979, when satellite data became generally available. The wide gap between the two figures means, says the report, that " is not clear whether the troposphere has warmed more or less than the surface".

Peter Thorne, of the UK Meteorological Office, who contributed to the report, ascribes this uncertainty to poor data. "Basically, we've not been observing the atmosphere with climate in mind," he told the BBC News website. "We're looking for very small signals in data that are very noisy. From one day to the next, the temperature can change by 10C, but we're looking for a signal in the order of 0.1C per decade."

The report shows up a particular discrepancy concerning the tropics, where it concludes that temperatures are rising by between 0.02 and 0.19C per decade, a big margin of error. Additionally, the majority of the available datasets show more warming at the surface than in the troposphere, whereas most models predict the opposite.

For Fred Singer, of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, a prominent climate sceptic, this suggests that the report's support for the concept of human-induced climate change is spin rather than substance. "The basic data in the report is quite OK," he said, "but the interpretation that's been given is different from what the data says. "In particular, [the authors] suppress the major result of the report; that data do not agree with models."

'No inconsistency'

Measuring tropospheric temperatures is far from a simple business. Satellites sense the "average" temperature of the air between themselves and the Earth, largely blind to what is happening at different altitudes. To compound matters, instruments on board satellites degrade over time, orbits subtly drift, and calibration between different satellites may be poor.

Weather balloons (or radiosondes) take real-time measurements as they ascend, but scientists can never assess instruments afterwards; they are "fire-and-forget" equipment. Correcting for all these potential sources of error is a sensitive and time-consuming process. The report makes clear recommendations for the kind of infrastructure needed to produce higher-quality data and resolve remaining uncertainties.

Key recommendations include:Such observations could produce an unambiguous picture of tropospheric warming, removing discrepancies over the scientific picture and providing better data which can be used to improve computer models.

"I would be reticent to say the report provides a clear answer," said Peter Thorne, "but I would say it provides a clear road-map. "But we do now have overlap between what is happening and what we believe ought to be happening." [But not much and not with any certainty]


(Article from Grist Magazine, 24 April 2006, recognizing the fraudulent nature of climate scares)

I've read three separate things in the past couple days that issue similar warnings: First, a much-discussed BBC Radio 4 show on "overselling climate change" (here). Before your hackles rise: there were no "skeptics" interviewed for the piece, only experienced climate scientists.

Second, an also-much-discussed piece by Andy Revkin in the NYT Week in Review, called "Yelling 'Fire' on a Hot Planet" (here).

Third, a conference call with climate scientist James Hansen, along with some Democratic staffers, environmental groups, and journalists, hosted by the National Environmental Trust. The only place I can find it covered is this execrable piece on the execrable CNS News, but it's got the quote I want (here). Hansen was asked about the recent upsurge in media coverage of climate change:

I am a little concerned about this, in the sense that we are still at a point where the natural fluctuations of climate are still large -- at least, the natural fluctuations of weather compared to long-term climate change ... So we don't want the public to hang their hat on a recent storm, recent hurricanes for example, because those will fluctuate from year to year.

Here's Revkin:

Projections of how patterns of drought, deluges, heat and cold might change are among the most difficult, and will remain laden with huge uncertainties for a long time to come ... While scientists say they lack firm evidence to connect recent weather to the human influence on climate, environmental campaigners still push the notion.

Here's the BBC:

Dr Hans Von Storch, a leading German climate scientist and fervent believer in global warming, is convinced the effect of climate change is being exaggerated.

"The alarmists think that climate change is something extremely dangerous, extremely bad and that overselling a little bit, if it serves a good purpose, is not that bad."

Enviros (and, hell, anyone who's concerned about global warming) are in a bind. Pushing quasi-apocalyptic talk about the current effects of climate change -- for instance, citing Hurricane Katrina -- goes well beyond the available science. If enviros tie public concern about global warming to current weather events, and there are a few years of calm weather, they will look like tools. It could backfire.

There's no getting around it: It's a bitch of a problem. It's slow, long-term, uncertain, global ... everything we are evolutionarily designed to screen out. What to do? On his blog (yes, literally everybody has one), Revkin frames it this way (See here):

[Advocates] can try to frame global warming in a way that makes it seem like the kind of "here and now" crisis we are familiar with, or they can do the much harder work of reframing value systems so that we do something rare for our species: act now to limit risks facing our children and their children.

Fudge the science or change human nature. What an unappealing choice! It's late, so I won't try to cut the Gordian knot here. I'd only suggest one thing: I wish enviros would do a lot more to sell their ideas -- renewable energy, local food systems, bright green cities, etc. -- on their own merits, rather than as a way to dodge an oncoming train. Enacting those ideas would produce a better, safer, cleaner, more equitable, more enjoyable world. That's worth doing totally irrespective of climate change. Don't you think?

Another prominent Australian Greenie learns to love nukes

Apparently anything is better than burning coal!

Prominent scientist Tim Flannery has called for an end to the uranium debate, saying all alternative energy sources to fossil fuels must be considered in the fight against climate change. The author of The Weather Makers and director of the South Australian Museum said yesterday he had softened his view on nuclear power.

Dr Flannery said the nation could not afford to get "bogged down in a debate about the three mines policy" or nuclear power and instead should develop a cohesive response to global warming. "People say we can't have uranium mining because there's a danger of proliferation and that's true," Dr Flannery said. "But we have to weigh all of this stuff and deal with this in the context of threat to climate change and that's why people are getting away with rubbish about wind and uranium. "Having travelled around the world looking at energy options, I am more favourably disposed towards nuclear power than I was previously, particularly when you look at the scale of the problem in China and the use of coal."

Dr Flannery's comments come a day after the chief executive of the nation's second-largest environment group, WWF Australia, accepted the Government's planned expansion of uranium mining and exports to China. WWF chief executive Greg Bourne told The Australian the nation was "destined" to mine and export uranium and said the key was to ensure it was used only for peaceful purposes and the waste was stored safely.

His comments provoked a furious response from green groups yesterday and a prediction from both sides of the debate that WWF's position could influence Labor Party policy. Opposition environment spokesman Anthony Albanese denied the claims, but federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane welcomed Mr Bourne's comments as the third "notable backflip on the expansion of uranium mining in recent weeks - Kim Beazley, Peter Beattie and now the WWF".



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 May, 2006


The good old Ozone layer again. There is absolutely no evidence that the ban on CFC refigerants has had any effect whatever. The ban on CFCs was agreed in 1987 but it took years for it to be widely implemented. Roughly speaking, it is only for about the last 10 years that it has been in actual force. So what has happened over those last ten years?

"Weatherhead and Signe Bech Anderson of the Danish Meteorological Institute in Copenhagen analyzed data from satellites and ground stations and information from 14 modeling studies. They found that ozone levels have stabilized or increased slightly in the past 10 years. But full recovery is still decades away".

Sad news. Certainly no sign of increased ozone. But what is the heading on the article from which I have taken that quote? It is Ozone layer shows signs of recovery: scientists (!!!).

And one of the scientists concerned is quoted as saying: ""We now have some confidence that the ozone layer is responding to the decreases in chlorine levels in the atmosphere due to the leveling off and decrease of CFCs," said Dr Betsy Weatherhead, of the University of Colorado in Boulder. Not only is the ozone layer getting better, we feel it is due to the Montreal Protocol," she added in an interview.

She disbelieves her own evidence but DOES believe her "feelings". Some scientist! Environmentalism sure rots the brain!


Comment from a reader:

"I have one little problem with the theory of CFCs destroying the ozone. The destruction is supposedly caused by a chemical reaction proposed by Drs Roland and Molina. However, this chemical reaction has never been observed in nature and couldn't be made to occur in the laboratory. That tends to make one a little bit skeptical of the correctness of the explanation for the ozone hole, unless you are an environmentalist and the facts don't matter."


The article below describes an atmospheric change that has been going on since the mid-1800s -- yes: 1800, not 1900 -- and says that it must be due to all the manmade pollution of the industrial era -- even though coal and oil-burning industry spread worldwide only in the late 20th centrury:

An important wind circulation pattern over the Pacific Ocean has begun to weaken because of global warming caused by human activity, something that could alter climate and the marine food chain in the region, new research suggests. It's not clear what climate changes might arise in the area or possibly beyond, but the long-term effect might resemble some aspects of an El Nino event, a study author said.

El Ninos boost rainfall in the southern United States and western South America and bring dry weather or even drought to Indonesia, Malaysia and elsewhere in the western Pacific. As for the Pacific food chain near the equator, the slowdown might reduce populations of tiny plants and animals up through the fish that eat them, because of reduced nutrition welling up from the deep, said the author, Gabriel Vecchi. Vecchi, a visiting scientist at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lab in Princeton, N.J., and colleagues present their results in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.

The slowdown was detected in shipboard and land-based data going back to the mid-1800s. It matches an effect predicted by computer climate simulations that trace global warming to a build-up of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, the researchers report. But simulations that consider only natural influences fail to produce the observed slowdown, Vecchi said. So, it appears the slowdown is largely due to the man-made buildup of greenhouse gases, the researchers concluded. And the result lends more credibility to computer models that trace global warming to greenhouse gases, at least for their ability to forecast what will happen in the tropics, Vecchi said.

The study focused on what scientists call the Walker circulation, a huge wind pattern that covers almost half the circumference of Earth. The pattern traces a huge loop. Trade winds blow across the Pacific from east to west. The air rises in the western Pacific and then returns eastward at an altitude of a few miles. Then it sinks back to the surface and starts the loop again. The new study is based on barometric pressure readings, since differences in air pressure drive winds near the equator. Results suggest the average wind speed in the Walker circulation has weakened by about 3.5 percent since the mid-1800s. It has weakened faster since World War II than in the long-term trend since the mid-1800s, Vecchi said. Computer simulations say the circulation might weaken another 10 percent by 2100, Vecchi said.

Dennis Hartmann, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, said the study makes a strong case that the Walker circulation has slowed. While such an effect had been predicted as a result of global warming, he said, "it's not been demonstrated before as clearly as they've done here."


U.S. takes new view on DDT in Africa

U.S. government officials are enthusiastically endorsing and funding the use of DDT in sub-Saharan Africa after years of resisting calls from scientists who said the insecticide would be the best weapon for fighting malaria, despite lingering objections by some environmentalists. "We're really pretty aggressive" about supporting DDT use against the mosquitoes that spread malaria, said Michael Miller, deputy assistant administrator of the Bureau of Global Health for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Added Richard Green, director of the Office of Health, Infectious Diseases and Nutrition in USAID's global health bureau: "We think DDT is an excellent insecticide and that, in some circumstances, it has some advantages over some other insecticides that are available."

The insecticide credited with eliminating malaria in the Western world years ago was outlawed in the United States in 1972 and is banned in most countries because of environmental concerns and unsubstantiated fears it can harm humans. "We think DDT is safe when used correctly and are not aware of any human health risks," Mr. Green said.

USAID is the federal government's lead agency in efforts to help African countries find ways to battle the continent's deadliest disease, which kills about a million Africans yearly, most of them young children and pregnant women. DDT is generally cheaper and more effective than other insecticides in preventing household bites.

Later this year, Mr. Miller said, USAID will begin using DDT as part of malaria-control efforts in three nations -- Mozambique, Ethiopia and Zambia. Nearly $10 million in federal funds has been allocated this year for "indoor residual spraying" in those three countries. DDT will be one of 12 different insecticides employed in the effort, which officials hope to start in December, and it will be the one used in most of the spraying in Mozambique, Mr. Green said. Mozambique's interest in DDT is significant, because it had long ignored pleas by its neighbor, South Africa, to use it. South Africa became a DDT booster in 2003, after using it to end a malaria epidemic in the eastern part of the country.

Of the $99 million that USAID is spending on malaria control this year, $20 million is being used for indoor spraying with DDT or one of the other 11 insecticides authorized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as malaria preventives, Mr. Green noted. About one-third of USAID's total budget for malaria is financing the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), which seeks to reduce malaria deaths by 50 percent in 15 African countries by 2010 and will spend $1.2 billion to that end. This year, PMI is doing indoor spraying in hundreds of thousands of homes in three countries -- Uganda, Angola and Tanzania -- using insecticides other than DDT.

"Between 1 million and 1.5 million people will be protected," Mr. Green said. Mr. Miller said DDT may be used in Uganda next year.

More here

Australian Green group accepts uranium mines

Even some Greenpeace people are supportive!

One of the nation's largest environment groups, WWF Australia, has accepted the federal Government's push to expand uranium mining and exports. WWF chief executive Greg Bourne, former boss of BP Australasia, told The Australian yesterday the nation was "destined under all governments to be mining uranium and exporting it to a growing world market". "We have been mining uranium and exporting it for many years and we're doing more because demand is going up, whether people like it or not," he said. "The key issues are if we're going to be a nation exporting uranium, we have to know absolutely it's only being used for peaceful purposes and waste products are being stored safely."

The move is likely to drive a wedge through the environment movement, which is fighting to make the Government's planned uranium exports to China - and the nuclear power debate - a federal election issue next year. Former Greenpeace International executive director Paul Gilding, who is now an environmental consultant, yesterday defended WWF's uranium position. "I think it's rational to say: we oppose nuclear power, but given there is nuclear power let's make sure we make it as safe as possible," he said. "The risk to anybody in this area is it's such a highly ideological, almost religious, debate." Mr Gilding said WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund, had "always been the one closest to the corporate conservative side, and good luck to them. Someone needs to be."

Mr Bourne's comments come just weeks after John Howard signed a uranium export deal with China under which billions of dollars of Australian uranium could be shipped to the Asian powerhouse to fuel as many as 40 new nuclear power plants. As a condition of the deal, China has agreed not to use Australian uranium in nuclear weapons. Environment groups argue there are insufficient monitoring and safety procedures in place to prevent that occurring.

Labor is reconsidering its long-held opposition to expanding uranium mining. While resources spokesman Martin Ferguson has called for Labor to ditch the policy, environment spokesman Anthony Albanese, from the Left, is fiercely opposed to 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.


4 May, 2006

Politicians Should Quit Grandstanding; Focus on Long-Term Energy Solutions

As public anger over soaring gas prices continues to build, members of Congress have noticed that their re-elect numbers continue to go down. And so they are scrambling to find someone or something to blame. Big oil companies are the favorite scapegoat, but the President, China, automakers, the Iraq War, and speculators are also popular targets.

Most senators and representatives should be looking in the mirror in order to find who is really to blame. Those who are complaining the loudest have voted again and again over many years for policies designed to constrict energy supplies and thereby raise energy prices. To take just one example, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D.-N.D.) recently said oil companies should be required to invest their record profits in new energy production in the United States. Yet Dorgan opposes opening federal lands and offshore areas to new oil production and supports ever higher government mandates and subsidies for ethanol, which will raise rather than lower gas prices (but will also benefit his state's corn industry).

President Bush, noticing that his own poll numbers decline as gas prices rise, jumped into the blame game on April 25 when he ordered federal investigations into oil price manipulation and directed the attorney general to urge the 50 state attorneys general to conduct separate investigations.

While demagoguery and grandstanding is all that can be expected from the likes of Senators Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) and Arlen Specter (R.-Pa.), Bush knows better. Until he told us in his State of the Union speech in January that we are addicted to oil, his proposed energy policies recognized that if we are going to continue to use a lot of energy we need to produce more of it in the United States.

The President needs to get back on the right track because the current situation presents a rare opportunity. Real leadership now could channel public anger into achieving important long-term solutions to America's energy needs that have been stymied for decades by environmental pressure groups. Here is what I think the President should do.

* He should explain that current high gas prices are the result of high economic growth (no apologies necessary), which increases demand, and continuing supply problems, some of which are caused by government.

* The President should defend profits. The only alternative to prices as a way of reconciling supply and demand is rationing (and rationing is why gas prices are so low in Cuba and North Korea). When demand is high and supplies are low, producers make large profits. This is good. If oil companies weren't making profits, then investors would have no reason to invest in increasing supplies. As for a windfall profits tax on oil companies, it cannot be repeated too often that if you want less of something then raise taxes on it.

* He should barnstorm the country to build support for legislation to increase domestic energy production. Opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska to oil and gas production is at the top of this list. If ANWR has as much oil as the U.S. Geological Survey's mean estimate, this would increase America's proven domestic oil reserves by approximately 50 percent. Within a few years, an additional million barrels a day could be flowing to West Coast refineries. And if President Clinton hadn't vetoed ANWR legislation in 1995, that oil would be flowing today. Opening ANWR enjoys majority support in both the House and Senate, but was blocked last year by a determined minority. A strong push from the President now could overcome that opposition.

* Bush should direct the Department of the Interior to re-open its new five-year plan for offshore oil and natural gas production. The current draft includes very little new production. This is crazy. While the western Gulf of Mexico is now the U. S.'s largest producing oil and natural gas field, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and entire Atlantic and Pacific Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) areas are closed to production. OCS reserves are potentially enormous. Environmental concerns are unwarranted. The last significant offshore oil spill in the U. S. was in 1969. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last summer destroyed many oil rigs and platforms in the Gulf, but did not cause any significant oil spills. To overcome opposition to OCS production in coastal States such as California, Congress should share the royalties 50-50 with the States, just as it does with royalties from production on federal lands.

It is true that these are long-term policies that will not drop prices this summer. But grandstanding to score short-term political points isn't going to lower prices at the pump either-now or in the future.



Three middle school children band together, sabotage a construction site, gag a land developer and take him hostage. But their criminal conduct, aimed at saving the habitat of burrowing owls from "greedy land developers" isn't reality-based. It's the subject of a new movie that one entertainment reviewer labels "soft core eco-terrorism" for kids. The movie, "Hoot," opens Friday May 5. It features environmentally conscious teenage characters vandalizing heavy machinery by stealing parts off of them and flattening tires in order to hinder a development project.

The teens, who ultimately succeed in halting the project, spray paint a police car that is providing security, trespass, rip up surveyors' stakes, place alligators in portable toilets, release poisonous Cottonmouth snakes at the construction site and evade the police. The teenagers also debate stealing the construction trailer and sinking it into a nearby canal to further delay the project. The teenagers in the PG-rated movie face no repercussions for the illegal acts and instead are portrayed as heroically preventing the construction of a pancake house in South Florida to save the owls' habitat.

There are consequences, however, for the pancake company. In addition to facing construction delays and cost overruns because of the kids' actions, the company's project manager is arrested at the end of Hoot for violating environmental protection laws. The film's trailer urges viewers to "break the rules" and features one of the lead characters saying "You gotta start thinking like an outlaw."

Wil Shriner, the movie's director, dismissed the notion that the movie portrays eco-terrorism and instead called the teenagers' vigilante actions on behalf of the owls "mischievous." The teenagers in the film are merely reacting to the illegal behavior of adults, said Shriner, who hopes Hoot will inspire kids to take a stand to protect the earth from too much development.......

Hoot is already ruffling the feathers of at least one expert on eco-terrorism. "Hoot is not just pushing eco-terrorism. It's pushing social and political terrorism as well," Ron Arnold, author of "EcoTerror: The Violent Agenda to Save Nature: The World of the Unabomber," told Cybercast News Service. "Hoot's so-called harmless 'mischief' is training a generation to look cute while burning homes and cars and stores. Eco-terrorism is serious. Eco-terrorism is arson and pipe bombs and hate that hurts people and destroys lives," Arnold said. He had not yet seen the film when interviewed by Cybercast News Service. "Hoot's Hollywood producers wouldn't think it was so cute if it was their studio the kids destroyed," Arnold added.

But Shriner sees the movie inspiring kids to take positive action. "If you don't send a positive message to young people to care about the environment, then there is really no chance. Our ice caps are melting. Our cities are grossly over-polluted. We are way too dependent on oil. They're the ones that are gong to have to do something about ozone depletion and all these elements. The answers will come from the education and awareness of the generation that follows us," said Shriner.

More here


Analysing: Young, S.S. and Harris, R. 2005. Changing patterns of global-scale vegetation photosynthesis, 1982-1999. International Journal of Remote Sensing 26: 4537-4563.

What was done

The authors analyzed, for the majority of earth's land surface, a near 20-year time series (1982-1999) of a vegetation indicator - the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) - calculated from data obtained from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) carried aboard U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites. In doing so, they employed two different datasets derived from the sensor: the Pathfinder AVHRR Land (PAL) data set and the Global Inventory Modeling and Mapping Studies (GIMMS) dataset.

What was learned

Based on their analysis of the PAL data, Young and Harris determined that "globally more than 30% of land pixels increased in annual average NDVI greater than 4% and more than 16% persistently increased greater than 4%," while "during the same period less than 2% of land pixels declined in NDVI and less than 1% persistently declined." With respect to the GIMMS dataset, the two scientists report that "even more areas were found to be persistently increasing (greater than 20%) and persistently decreasing (more than 3%)." All in all, they say that "between 1982 and 1999 the general trend of vegetation change throughout the world has been one of increasing photosynthesis."

As for what has been responsible for the worldwide increase in photosynthesis - which is the ultimate food source of nearly all of the biosphere - the researchers mention global warming (yes, it's a very good thing), as well as "associated precipitation change and increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide," citing Myneni et al. (1997) and Ichii et al. (2002). In addition, they say that "many of the areas of decreasing NDVI are the result of human activity," primarily deforestation (Skole and Tucker, 1993; Steininger et al., 2001) and urbanization Seto et al. (2000).

What it means

As the air's CO2 content continues to rise, the biosphere should become ever more productive and the earth should get greener and greener (if we do not destroy great parcels of it), not only in spite of rising temperatures and precipitation, but often because of them.

CO2 Science Magazine, 26 April 2006


(From Philip Stott, 25 April 2006)

I have to say that David Cameron, as the Green Guru, makes me wince. He is embarrassing, a kind of middle class Coriolanus dinner party 'See my wounds' type of party host, with yummy mummy in tow. Melanie Phillips is just the right sort of commentator to out the red-faced Boy Wonder on his sled: 'Even greener than he thinks' (April 24):

"I have returned from holiday to find that the British Conservative party has passed beyond parody. While lesser political beings were doing tedious things like preside over the disintegration of the health service, have their collars felt by the police over political corruption, fail to deal with the fact that people are being murdered by those notionally being supervised by state-funded officials and other boring little things like that, the Tory party leader David Cameron dressed as a polar explorer and posed with a sled drawn by huskies on the Scott-Tuner glacier in Svalbard in Norway to show how cool he was... er, sorry, the grievous effects of global warming in shrinking the Arctic ice. Alas for Mr Cameron - he was indeed sledging on thin ice, but not in the way he thought..."

By contrast, back at The Gloomiad, 'Savonarola George', our very own Monbiot, has started to get it (if only a bit), going for gas and carbon storage: 'This is embarrassing, but I've become a fossil fuel supporter' (The Guardian, April 25):

"So in two respects, the future seems to lie in the seabed. Our natural gas supplies will be secured and our carbon dioxide buried in old gas fields and salt deposits. All my instincts rebel against this prospect, but there don't seem to be any other answers..."

Mind you, George can't yet bring himself to accept the return of King Coal:

"Even in my confessional mood, I cannot bring myself to support coal. I defy anyone who knows what open-cast mining looks like to say the words 'clean coal' without blushing. This leaves only gas..."

But, at least, the thought is there. Watch this space. The only viable mid-term future for the UK is a sensible mix of gas, coal, and nuclear, plus so-called 'renewables' at the edges. Thankfully, elements of this reality are beginning to dawn in the least likely of media worlds.....

.....meanwhile, back in Tory Toy Town, Cameron flies a private jet to be drawn by huskies to see a melting glacier in a land where many glaciers are expanding while he espouses tiny wind farms on the roof of his house.... Cameron is just risible. This is such a disaster for British politics. We desperately need brave politicians who can talk sense about climate change.


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

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

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


3 May, 2006


The price of carbon credits crashed by more than a half last week after European countries said their levels of pollution would be less than expected. The price of carbon dioxide fell from just over EUR30 per ton to close at EUR13.45 on Friday over market fears of a glut of unwanted carbon credits. If prices remain this low, companies will have less incentive to cut pollution levels. It would also threaten to render one of the cornerstones of the EU's policy to cut carbon dioxide emission levels almost impotent.

The rout was sparked by the announcements from France, the Netherlands, Estonia and the Czech Republic that their heavy industry had polluted less than expected last year. All 25 European Union countries participating in the emissions trading scheme must report last year's emission levels by 15 May. If other countries also announce lower than expected levels, the price of carbon will continue to plummet. The UK has yet to report. The scheme, launched last year, is designed to give companies an incentive to cut pollution and to punish those that do not. Each country must agree annually with the EU a national "allocation" of pollution levels for heavy industry. Households, transport and light industry are excluded from the scheme.

In turn, each heavy industry company is given an individual pollution target. This should be lower than its previous pollution level. If it exceeds this, it must buy in carbon credits to balance its books. Those companies that pollute less than their individual targets can sell the surplus on to the market. Companies do not have to settle their carbon dioxide accounts for several years. This means that if countries are polluting less than expected, there will be less need to buy in credits, causing the price to fall, just as it did last week.

The scheme has been beset by problems. The UK Government has taken the EU to court over the method by which its allocation was set.

The Independent, 30 April 2006

Coral Bleaching: What (or Who) Dunnit?

Thanks to a Senate hearing on global warming this week, Americans can expect a plateful of charges about dangers to our oceans and, in particular, coral reefs. They should take it all with a pinch of sea salt. It's not that the objects of alarms -- particularly the condition of reefs in the Indian Ocean region, raised by such nongovernmental organizations as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Pew Charitable Trusts -- aren't of concern. Coral reefs are appropriately compared to the world's rain forests as habitats for wide varieties of life. They deserve protection.

But against what? Before we blame global warming, yet again, for a change in a species behavior or environment, we need to look closely at what is most likely to affect the reefs, and what is not. The dying off of coral reefs is known as coral bleaching. This bleaching occurs when corals expel the symbiotic algae -- or Zooxanthellae -- that live in their tissues.

This is usually in response to environmental stress, in particular high sea-temperatures, but also high solar radiation, fluctuating salinities, extremely low tides and often a combination of these factors. Then, of course, there are the several instances of pollution associated with several island locations -- mostly those with poor local sewage treatment and/or luxury liners dumping their sewage within close vicinity.

Global warming had nothing to do, for example, with elkhorn and staghorn corals becoming the first species to show rapid die-offs in the Florida Keys in the late 1970s and early 1980s. An extremely cold winter in 1977-78 wiped out large areas of cold-sensitive corals. By 1981, diseases had killed most of the remaining elkhorn and staghorn colonies. Three more cold winters ensued.

The environmental organizations' conjecture about global warming today killing the reefs is based on the belief that surface sea temperatures will increase about 2 degrees C (3.6 F) over the next 100 years, and that rising carbon dioxide levels are making the oceans more acidic. The temperature increase, though, would fall within the range of temperatures along the reef today -- from 29-30 degrees Celsius (84-86 degrees Fahrenheit) in the north to around 23 degrees C (73 degrees F) in the south. And yet reefs exist nearly everywhere along this 6 to 7 degree C (11-13 F) gradient.

So all the corals aren't likely to die from their projected warming. But how likely is it that the sea surface temperatures will rise the 2 degrees C, 3.6 F, they claim. The answer is: Not very.

The ocean's response to extensive heating is "ejection" of the major localized surface heat loads by way of Deep Convection -- intense expulsions of heat for the upper ocean wherever the sea surface temperatures exceed about 27.5 C. These expulsions create huge cloud towers up over 60,000 feet into the sky readily observed by satellite. The upper level Hadley Circulation carries this energy away from the equator, eastward and poleward. The associated surface winds also cause upper-ocean mixing that blends the cooler deep waters with the warmer surface, rarely allowing the surface to exceed 30 degrees C for any significant length of time.

At the poles, heat is always lost, somewhat more in the dark winter months, but unceasingly. This cooling results in Polar Subsidence, with the cool air sinking, sending huge cool surface wind lenses eastward and equatorward along the surface. These lenses suck up heat as they flow along.

This circulation pattern is how the Earth maintains its relatively narrow temperature bounds, and it runs in cycles not of our choosing. It is extremely unusual for sea surface temperatures in the open ocean to exceed 30 degrees C, due to these and related processes.

Furthermore, the oceans are now heading into one of their periodic phases of cooling. Since the 1997-98 El Nino/Southern Oscillation, an enhanced pole-to-equator atmospheric motion due to enhanced Polar subsidence events has increased super-cooling events, in accordance with the typical 55 to 70 year dipolar Warm/Cool cycle. Of course, where it warms or cools depends on where you are standing within these large scale processes. The trend is ongoing and will dominate the Global Circulation by 2008-2012, in accordance with its ~55 year periodicity. The Russian Arctic Institute is monitoring this transition, with their scientists' Atmospheric Circulation Index measuring the latitudinal versus meridional transport of energy by surface winds. The effect of this cycle can be seen in this and last year's long, cold winters with extra near record low temperatures caused by extensive highly mobile polar cold fronts measured as cold high pressure regions in various places.

Now, if history and our experience can be trusted, we can expect an increase in seasonal cold outbursts along the western USA into the southeast, from Moscow south into Eastern Europe and the Middle East, as well as parts of lower South America and South Africa, and even south Australia, during their winter times. These will continue, per their usual time scales of about another 20-25 years, before we emerge from this cool phase and begin the transition into another epoch of generally warmer, remedial climate phases.

But what about the claims by Pew that CO2 produced from burning fossil fuels is "acidifying" the oceans? The alarms raised are based on a finding this month in an National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration study that the average pH sampled in the oceans had declined from 8.2 to approximately 8.175 -- 0.025 units -- over the last 15 years. Scary? Hardly. Recent studies also show that the pH difference was 12 times that miniscule change at the time of the last glaciation, at 8.5 units -- and the reefs have thrived under that falling pH.

It would take pH a drop of 47 times that sampled by the NOAA to reach the 7 pH level when neutrality would occur. And that would require that the oceans not only absorb billions more tons of CO2 than mankind is going to emit, but that its buffering agents -- such as carbonate, nitrate and other radicals that minimize ocean acidity by accepting and expelling hydrogen ions -- disappear.

Fortunately for corals, as all marine species but unlike modern man, they have been through cycles such as this before, on all time and space scales. Modest changes in temperature are not about to wipe them out. Neither will increased carbon dioxide, which is a fundamental chemical building block that allows coral reefs to exist at all. It is their and our friend, generally, not the enemy.

What coral reefs have not had to deal with before -- 6-plus billion people, all leaving their fingerprints, or worse, behind -- very likely will continue to cause problems. And that is where the Congress, environmental organizations and world community should focus their concern -- against the real pollutants and real human damage caused to these rain forests of the sea. (That is, not global warming.)



A group of leading climate scientists has announced the formation of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, aimed at refuting what it believes are unfounded claims about man-made global warming. "We believe this is a significant development in opening up the debate about the real effects of climate change and the justification for the costs and other measures prescribed in the Kyoto protocols," said the coalition's secretary, Terry Dunleavy. He said members of the coalition had had enough of "over-exaggerated" claims about the effects of man-made global warming and aimed to provide a balance to "what is being fed to the people of New Zealand". The coalition includes such well-known climate scientists as:

* Dr Vincent Gray, of Wellington, an expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), most recently a visiting scholar at the Beijing Climate Centre in China.

* Dr Gerrit J van der Lingen, of Christchurch, geologist/paleoclimatologist, climate change consultant, former director GRAINZ (Geoscience Research and Investigations New Zealand).

* Prof August H. (Augie) Auer, of Auckland, past professor of atmospheric science, University of Wyoming; previously chief meteorologist, Meteorological Service (MetService) of New Zealand.

* Professor Bob Carter, a New Zealander, now at the Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Queensland, Australia.

* Warwick Hughes, a New Zealand earth scientist living in Perth, who conducts a comprehensive website:

* Roger Dewhurst, of Katikati, consulting environmental geologist and hydrogeologist.

* Owen McShane, of Kaiwaka, director of the Centre for Resource Management Studies, who is convenor of the establishment committee, said many scientists and economists were concerned that the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had an effective monopoly on public announcements on global warming. "Its statements go largely unchallenged -- or go largely unchallenged in a format that will carry weight with governments, the media or the general public," said Mr McShane. "Hence, a new 'sceptical consensus' has developed that, before the next IPCC report is published in February next year, there should be a panel, or panels, of experts who have established themselves as 'auditors' of the IPCC, both here in New Zealand and abroad. "Those of us involved in forming this coalition believe that now is the time for individual countries like New Zealand to assemble their own national expert panels, so that these panels can form larger groupings with like minded-panels from other countries so as to be ready to deal with the reports to be published by the IPCC next year. "Their aim should not be to repeat, or parallel, the work of the IPCC, but to audit its reports, and to let the members of the IPCC know that such auditors are waiting in the wings," said Mr McShane. He said that the coalition's three main roles would be:

* To publish and distribute papers and commentaries produced by members of the coalition;

* To audit statements by other organisations, both in New Zealand and overseas, which are published in New Zealand, or are expected to influence New Zealand public policy and public opinion;

* To audit the forthcoming United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

The coalition has registered a website domain name,, which it expects to have running within a day or two.

The New Zealand Herald, 1 May 2006


What has happened to the null hypothesis?

Judged by their Climate Manifesto, the Climate 90 signers are not scientists. That is the unavoidable conclusion of the Climate Manifesto's language. The issues in this climate debate are simple and rather clear. The disagreement is not about rising temperatures but whether the rise can be attributed to human activity. None of the Manifesto's four points claim to solidly back their conclusion. Their approach isn't scientific at all.

1. The two groups agree on the first point: "There is increasingly unambiguous evidence of changing climate in Canada and around the world."

2. The second point has nothing to do with "science": It is a forecast. Moreover, the point does not say how the forecast is linked to "human activity" or which human activity brings it about. Since all climate scientists know that the Earth's climate has gone through periods of warming and cooling that had nothing to do human activity, and since we are now within the range of that variability, this forecast must be taken with grain of salt.

3. "Advances in climate science since the 2001 IPCC Assessment have provided more evidence supporting the need for action and development of a strategy for adaptation to projected changes." What does this statement mean, if anything? It reads like bureaucratic political blah-blah. "More evidence" does not mean "convincing evidence." And even skeptical scientists have not opposed people adapting to the warming temperature.

4. Their last, very prudently articulated fourth point suggests a lack of evidence -- it only asks for more taxpayer money to finance research. This point is fine; researchers are entitled to be lobbyists, though perhaps they should register as such." Canada," it says, "needs a national climate change strategy." First, red flags should pop in one's mind when people invoke nationalism and patriotism when talking about science. If one is talking about "global climate change," what can Canadian taxpayers, with just 33 million people scattered on an immense surface, do to have any effect? Then the signers ask for "continued investment in research, [to] understand what is happening, to refine projections of changes induced by anthropogenic release of greenhouse gases."

Does this sound as if there is strong evidence of human activity causing global warming? Not really. Which is fine, that's why there is disagreement in this field of science. This isn't the major issue. But here we come to the most troubling part of the entire manifesto, and one wonders how 90 scientists could endorse it. The principle of scientific research is NOT to confirm, and analyze opportunities and threats but to try and reject a hypothesis. Scientific research is about finding deviations, because deviations disprove rules. Science is not about going with the herd and confirming what some have found but to try and reject it. After all, the saying in science is "Even if one million people believe in an idea, it can be a very dumb idea."

The government may decide to fund further climate research but it should do so with strings attached, and finance proposals that state explicitly how they will try to reject findings rather than confirm them, let alone politicize the subject or speculate about threats. (Of course, fear mongering is easy, can find political support, and bring in money for "research" that very conveniently subsidizes pleasurable conferences in -- where else? -- warm climates. This principle should hold true for researchers on either side of this or any other scientific debate.

It is about time that taxpayers stop funding activists and lobbyists who masquerade as scientists. The government would give a strong signal by applying a scientific "Accountability Act" by putting the 90 who signed this "manifesto" on the watch list.

National Post, 28 April 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.


2 May, 2006


Often on these pages we have made the case that the debate that rages over hurricanes and climate change is largely irrelevant to climate policy, even as it used as a symbol in climate politics. The reason for the insensitivity of policy to this debate is the overwhelming influence of societal factors in driving trends in the growth in disaster losses even under assumptions that global warming has significant effects on hurricanes. We have made the case in a wide range of fora and in a wide range of ways, and yet, it seems that the urge to use hurricanes as a justification for climate-related energy policies is just too appealing, despite its grossly unsupportable scientific grounding. It does not matter whether or not scientists can establish a link between global warming and hurricanes - it won't affect how we think about climate policy.

More evidence for this perspective is provided in a recent news story about the insurance and reinsurance industries: "Regardless of whether climate change is leading to increases in the number of storms or their intensity, analyses by ISO's catastrophe modeling subsidiary, AIR Worldwide, indicate that catastrophe losses should be expected to double roughly every 10 years because of increases in construction costs, increases in the number of structures and changes in their characteristics," said [Michael R.] Murray [ISO assistant vice president for financial analysis], "AIR's research shows that, because of exposure growth, the one in one-hundred-year industry loss grew from $60 billion in 1995 to $110 billion in 2005, and it will likely grow to over $200 billion during the next 10 years."

Assume a doubling of losses every ten years for the next 80, and you get a multiple of 256. Can anyone cite a study that suggests that hurricane frequencies or intensities will increase by 1/100 of this amount? (Note that damage is not linear with intensity, but even so.) You can't. Even with less aggressive assumptions about societal change one still gets very, very large increases in impacts. For the simple math of why it is that societal growth dominates any scenario of the projected effects of climate change, and hence climate mitigation, on hurricanes, see this post we did a short while back. And there are umpteen others available on this site. I await the acceptance of this argument by the mainstream climate science community (as well as the relevant parties of the blogosphere), of which a troubling number have ignored or openly resisted this argument, and some very publicly yet without substance. But they shouldn't, as it is about as solid a policy case as one can imagine.

As we have often said, climate mitigation makes sense, and so too does preparing for future disasters, but linking the first with the second is simply unsupported by an honest policy assessment. And it seems to me that honest assessments of policy action help the case for action on climate change.

More here


Is Tony Blair our last hope? I realise that just by posing the question regular readers will think I have flipped. In fact, I am deadly serious. Blair may well be the only British political leader ready to face up to an issue on which turns the economic life or death of this country. I refer to energy - and more especially electricity - policy. Without reliable, continuous and competitive supplies of power, we have no comfort, no convenience, no economy, no jobs, no lifestyle worth having and no protection for civilised society.

While David Cameron poses as a cuddly green with a windmill and solar panel on his roof, Sir Menzies Campbell has emptily adopted "environment, environment, environment" as his mantra. Both are pathetic. After being similarly afflicted for years, a legacy-conscious Blair now seems to have plugged into reality: unless he does something about it, this nation will rightly blame him for the blackouts and chaos that are almost inevitable in 10-15 years.

On that timescale, pygmy politicians would let some other fool take responsibility for the problems to come. But they misjudge energy policy. It unerringly points the finger at the culprits for failure, because long-term security of supply requires long-term decisions. You cannot build power stations overnight and you cannot plan and build the right sort of power stations in much less than 10 years.

The British problem can be briefly stated. Coal (33 per cent) and nuclear (20 per cent) power stations currently generate just over half our electricity. Within 15 years, we could easily lose half that generating capacity because of closures on grounds of age and, in the case of coal, its carbon pollution.

On the basis of its 2003 White Paper, the Government proposes to fill that gap by reducing demand through energy conservation and with renewable sources of energy - wind, waves, tides, solar, geothermal and all kinds of biofuels - and natural gas. Gas already generates 40 per cent of our electricity but, in future, most of it will have to be imported from such unstable places as Russia, the Middle East, Algeria and Nigeria, at soaring prices as China and India demand ever more energy.

Understandably, after Mr Putin's interference with the Ukraine's gas supplies in mid-winter and Europe's hoarding of gas in cold weather, Whitehall has got the wind up. It is even more of aflutter because after 15 years' development - and growing hostility in the countryside - wind generates only 0.5 per cent of our electricity. The rest of the array of renewables, apart from fully-developed hydro-electricity, contribute little or are unproven, undeveloped or a mere gleam in the eye. Worse still, for all the improvements in the efficient use of electricity wrought by scientists and engineers and the insulation of houses, electricity demand rises inexorably by 1-1.5 per cent a year.

The Institution of Civil Engineers is more or less guaranteeing blackouts by 2020 unless we go nuclear which we know, after 50 years' generation, can produce power reliably, economically, safely and cleanly - it emits next to no greenhouse gases. Only Blair seems ready to face up to this.

Instead, wherever I go to talk on this subject as an advocate of nuclear power, I find people utterly besotted with renewables and energy conservation and what they call micro-generation.

Translated this means doing what Cameron proposes to do with his new house in Notting Hill - convert it into a mini-power station. The idea is that if we were all to do this, we would avoid nuclear and combat global warming by reducing steadily rising carbon dioxide emissions. If only these people would consult engineers. They will tell you that, since we cannot store electricity in bulk, the National Grid is a second-by-second balancing act. How, they ask, are we to balance supply and demand if we don't know where supply is coming from, when it is so disaggregated?

The greens ignore the question. For them replacing the National Grid with local, house-by-house, provision is the Holy Grail, even though the National Grid brought huge economies of scale nearly 70 years ago. Nor can they tell me where you and I will get alternative power or an engineer to repair our domestic generating system when it blows a fuse. It's bad enough now trying to get an electrician.

This is why I call these ignorant green fanatics enemies of the people. They are putting your future at serious risk. Let us pray that Tony Blair has enough political fuel left in his tank to do the right thing.

Yorkshire Post, 12 April 2006. Hat tip Philip Stott


The decision by David Cameron to cycle to work each day symbolised the reinvention of the Tories as the blue party that thought green. But last night the Conservative leader's carbon-friendly cycling was exposed as nothing more than, well, spin. Last Wednesday Mr Cameron set off as usual for Westminster on his mountain bike. But as the photographers captured him confidently pedalling away, a sleek limousine pulled up outside his Notting Hill home. Out stepped Mr Cameron's chauffeur to collect a package. Two minutes later he set off for Westminster bearing a pair of polished shoes, a briefcase and a crisp new shirt for his Lycra-clad boss. One 9km car journey and 1.7kg of carbon emissions later, and Mr Cameron was reunited with his documents and clothes for the office.

Tim Jackson, from the Centre for Environmental Strategy at the University of Surrey, said that the revelations, in today's Daily Mirror, showed that Mr Cameron's environmental pitch to voters was "just spin and rhetoric". He said: "If he was doing what he said [cycling to work] his carbon emissions would be zero. If this turns out to be true [his chauffeur regularly driving to Westminster] then it blows Mr Cameron's reputation out of the water."

Since being elected party leader Mr Cameron has introduced several initiatives on the environment, including setting up a policy group with Zac Goldsmith, editor of the Ecologist magazine. He has also pledged to install a wind turbine on the roof of his family home as part of a 10,000 pound eco-makeover.

Last week he was criticised by green campaigners after failing to pick the most environmentally friendly option for his new car. The Conservative Party has decided not to accept the government-provided car for its leader and chosen to lease, at normal commercial rates, a Lexus GS 450h, the carbon emissions from which are far higher than one of the government options, a petrol-electric hybrid Toyota Prius. However, the Lexus, also a hybrid, produces fewer emissions than the government-provided Vauxhall Omega that he currently uses.

The Tories admitted last night that Mr Cameron's chauffeur regularly picked up his belongings, adding: "David Cameron has always enjoyed cycling and if he could carry all of his documents for work he would. But he has changed his car for one that has lower carbon emissions and he has made other personal changes to help the environment such as making his home more energy-efficient, and changed his electricity supply to renewable energy."

Yesterday Mr Cameron was again out demonstrating his desire to stamp out carbon emissions by extolling the virtues of public transport in Bury. He had arrived by helicopter.

The Times, 28 April 2006

8-year legal quagmire for landowners continuing in Australia

Tim Moore will have to tread carefully when he sets foot in Cudgen Paddock at Kings Forest on the North Coast today - the tinkling froglet can be hard to see but all too easy to find. The froglets' friends say its "tching tching" call sounds like a tinkling bell. Tweed Heads property developers must sometimes think they can hear a taunting, broken till. Mr Moore, a one-time Liberal state environment minister, will take the Land and Environment Court to Cudgen Paddock to find out how wallum froglets would fare against four dozen head of cattle. The future of a billion-dollar housing project - and of Tweed Shire Council - may turn on the commissioner's assessment of what he finds.

Tweed Shire Council was sacked one year ago amid allegations it was too pro-development. The former lord mayor of Sydney Lucy Turnbull, the former Tweed mayor Max Boyd and the Department of Local Government director-general, Garry Payne, were appointed administrators. Now the Planning Minister, Frank Sartor, is threatening to "call in" the biggest development proposal on the Tweed coast by declaring the site "state signicant" and seizing planning control.

Leda Holdings wants to build 4500 to 5000 homes at Kings Forest but has been trapped in the Local Environment Plan amendment process for the past eight years. Until recently, Leda's chairman, Bob Ell, could not even get approval to run 45 head of cattle on 80 hectares of the 1064-hectare site - grazed for the past century. Last month the council approved grazing, but due to six objectors the council's solicitors would not issue consent orders or withdraw from defending an appeal Mr Ell had begun in the Land and Environment Court.

Mr Moore will hear objections from the Caldera Environment Centre and Valerie Thompson, the president of the Tugun Cobaki Alliance, who objects to the grazing on Cudgen Paddock and the nearby $543 million Tugun bypass project. She fears for the wallum froglet, common planigale and long-nosed potoroo.



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 May, 2006

'Green' Politicians Add to Gas Price Woes

Amid the race between politicians to capitalize on consumer anger at high gas prices, at least one member of Congress, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., expressed a much-needed perspective on the problem -- these same politicians own a share of the blame. During an interview with Larry Kudlow earlier this week about rising gas prices, Rep. Blackburn observed, "If we're going to work toward [energy independence], we're going to have to do some things differently. Now, I can tell you one of the things that I wish had been done differently is over the past 30 years, we have had environmental extremists driving energy policy in this country, saying no to everything."

Certainly increased demand for oil from the growing Chinese and Indian economies and instability in the Middle East are major pressures on oil prices, but both Republicans and Democrats have added to these pressures by allowing the environmental movement to tie our energy policy in knots. Bowing to environmentalist demands since the 1970s, Congress has blocked oil and gas drilling from areas like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (10.4 billion barrels of oil, according to the U.S. Geological Service) and the Outer Continental Shelf (86 billion barrels of oil, according to the Minerals Management Service).

As Cuba works out deals with Canadian, Spanish and Chinese companies to explore for oil as close as 50 miles to Key West, Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., - apparently trying to appease the League of Conservation Voters which has given him a 10 percent rating - dubbed a proposal by Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa., to allow drilling 20 miles off the Florida coast as "crazy." Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., also oppose OCS drilling thanks to oil spill hysteria whipped up by the Sierra Club. Environmentalists helped pressure Congress in 1990 to require "reformulated" gasoline (RFG) supposedly to reduce the formation of ground-level ozone or smog. The RFG process requires use of additives such as ethanol or MTBE.

The RFG requirement raised the price of gasoline not only because of the cost of the additives but because different areas of the country require different blends of fuel to address different air quality circumstances. The 17 so-called "boutique" fuels used around the country make the national gasoline supply less fungible, which causes supply bottlenecks.

And for all this pain, there appears to be little gain from RFG. A 1999 report from the National Research Council reported that, "the net impact of RFG on ambient ozone a few percent. For this reason, it is difficult to quantify the specific contribution of the RFG program to the apparent downward trend in ozone." The final kick-in-the-teeth to consumers from the RFG program came last year when environmental groups like the Natural Resource Defense Council pressured Congress to not provide legal liability protection for MTBE makers, who will stop using the additive in gasoline on May 1. (MTBE from leaking underground storage tanks had been detected in groundwater around the country, raising the specter of lawsuits against MTBE manufacturers). Gas prices will soon jump again in many parts of the country as refiners try to avoid future MTBE-related legal liability by switching to the more expensive ethanol additive.

The policy missteps didn't all occur in Congress. In the 1990s, the environmentalist-friendly Clinton Administration made Environmental Protection Agency air quality standards much more stringent. Because states that fail to meet these standards stand to lose federal highway money, state governments now require gasoline refineries to install expensive air emissions equipment. The equipment is so expensive that it makes the expansion of existing refineries economically unattractive to investors - and you can forget about the construction and permitting of new refineries.

The problem here is that domestic refineries are operating at or near capacity -- limiting supply and putting more pressure on prices. A weather calamity like Hurricane Katrina can strike the weak link -- Gulf Coast refineries - thereby limiting supply further and forcing the importation of more expensive gasoline to meet demand.

Not only are the alleged health and environmental benefits of these EPA regulations in doubt, but the EPA is getting ready to make the air quality standards even more stringent - virtually guaranteeing that expanding refinery capacity will proceed very slowly, if at all.

President Bush encouraged fuel conservation this week. That sounds reasonable and it may even be a temporary strategy for reducing gasoline demand and, therefore, prices. But conservation is not a viable long-term strategy for growing the economy. We're going to need more energy in the future, not less.

Of all the proposals and ideas offered by politicians this week, only Rep. Blackburn's questions Congress' role in the problem. No other politician has even come close to hinting that Congress has allowed our national energy policy to be hijacked by environmentalists. I'm all for environmental protection measures that do more good than harm. I'm also all for private research into alternative energy technologies that make economic sense and don't require subsidies. None of this, however, requires that politicians simply knuckle under to junk science-fueled environmental extremists.



Paavo Lipponen (soc dem), the Speaker of the Finnish Parliament, was quoted as saying in the Friday issue of Uutispiv Demari, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) organ, that Finland must build a sixth nuclear power station. "Attaining the goals of the Kyoto protocol on climate change would not have been possible without the fifth nuclear power station. The goals that are to be set after 2012 cannot by reached without a sixth one," Mr Lipponen told the paper. "The next government will face this question. We cannot afford to waste any time."

Mr Lipponen also noted with approval the recent announcement by the Green League that it could see itself working with pro-nuclear government partners. "It seems that energy policy is drawing away from the sort of fundamentalism in which someone, like the Greens or Greenpeace, knows for certain what energy form is absolutely acceptable or unacceptable." "In government you cannot have your cake and eat it. It is not acceptable that one first joins the government but then criticises it from the outside."

NewsRoom Finland, 28 April 2006


When would they yell "fire!" about global warming, Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg asked Bush administration officials at a hearing Wednesday, after the officials repeatedly declined to recommend action. The officials weren't moved by the New Jersey senator's plea, but his metaphor drew a response a few minutes later from Syun-Ichi Akasofu, director of the International Arctic Research Center in Fairbanks. "We're not sure if the house is really on fire, and to put the water there, making water damage, may be more damaging," Akasofu said.

The scientist sitting next to Akasofu, though, said it is time to drag out the fire hoses. "We know enough now to take appropriate action," said Robert Correll, senior policy fellow with the American Meteorological Society. The two scientists offered their divergent views to a few members of the Senate Commerce Committee's subcommittee on global climate change, as well as a room packed with observers.

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska and the full committee chairman, introduced Akasofu and sat through almost the entire three-hour hearing. Stevens said Akasofu had "dedicated a substantial portion of his life to this one area of science."

An activist group distributing information at the hearing questioned Akasofu's experience, though. "Global warming is not even Dr. Akasofu's primary area of study," said Ben Dunham, staff attorney for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, in a statement distributed to reporters. "He is an expert in the study of the aurora borealis, or northern lights."

Akasofu said after the hearing that while climate change isn't his primary field of research, he began learning about the issue when he was named director of UAF's Geophysical Institute in 1986. He delved more deeply into the subject in the 1990s while working to create IARC. Today, research at the center focuses on climate change. Akasofu became IARC director when it opened in 1998. "Dr. Akasofu conceived the idea of the Arctic research center," Stevens said. "This is an international center. Substantial Japanese funds have gone into that, as well as others."

Akasofu, in his testimony, said the Arctic climate has warmed in recent decades but scientists don't know how much warming is due to human production of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. Such gases, along with water vapor, absorb heat radiated from Earth and thus contribute to temperature increases, scientists say. "It is urgent to identify both natural and man-made components of the present warming," Akasofu said. The problem, Akasofu said, is that the most advanced computer models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, when fed real historical data, cannot reproduce what actually happened.

"This is what we call hind-casting. We're using the last 50 years of data ... so we think it's the best scientific test of the greenhouse hypothesis," Akasofu said. Using the scientific method, researchers observe global warming, hypothesize the causes and then seek to verify those hypotheses using supercomputers, Akasofu said. "If the computer simulation and observation agree, then our understanding becomes scientific fact," he said. "But if the computer cannot reproduce what we observed, then hypothesis has to be disproved." In fact, he said, the models fail to reproduce the strong warming that actually occurred in the continental Arctic in recent decades. Yet many scientists cling to their hypotheses, he said. "That gets into the area of what we call science fiction," he said.

After the hearing, Akasofu acknowledged that the computer models, not the hypotheses, could be the problem. However, he said, that is speculation and doesn't help answer the question. The models, run on the most powerful supercomputers in the world, are the best that scientists can do now, he said.

Others at the hearing, though, said some recent hind-casting has matched actual data far better than earlier efforts. Thomas Armstrong, director of the U.S. Geological Survey's Earth Surface Dynamics Program, pointed to recent work by Jonathan Overpeck of the University of Arizona in Tucson. "They were able to mimic very well the proxy record," Armstrong said. Proxies refer to historical physical phenomena, such as tree rings, that researchers correlate with historical temperatures.

Akasofu, in his testimony, emphasized that "it is incorrect to conclude that the present warming in the Arctic is due entirely to the greenhouse effect caused by man."

Lautenberg asked Akasofu whether he knew of any peer-reviewed scientific paper that made such a broad claim. Akasofu said he had not. "I believe that it is more the press that takes that view," Akasofu said.

Akasofu included a chart in his testimony that documented a 1.5-degree Celsius rise in average Arctic temperatures from 1920 through 1940 while worldwide fossil fuel consumption was relatively stable. Then, from 1940 through 1970, average Arctic temperatures dropped by nearly as much, even while worldwide carbon dioxide from fossil fuel combustion grew rapidly, Akasofu noted. That poses a challenge to the hypotheses that say greenhouse gases are the principal cause of the warming seen since 1970, he said. The apparent contradiction needs far more study, he said.

Correll, though, said the cooling between 1940 and 1970, which was also reflected to a lesser degree in global temperatures, was likely a natural phenomenon that masked the growing effects of carbon dioxide. Correll said it is clear that human influences caused most of the 1-degree Celsius overall increase in global temperatures during the past century. Sen. David Vitter, R-La. and the subcommittee chairman, asked Correll how he could be so sure. Correll said no computer climate model can reproduce the actual warming without adding in the effects of the human-produced carbon dioxide.

Akasofu was not convinced. "Our question is ... how many degrees and where?" he said. "And our observations show that the largest, most prominent warming was taking place in the continental Arctic. But somehow, the IPCC computer ... could not reproduce that. And that means to me it's something else."

Fairbanks Daily News, 27 April 2006


Too much ideology involved

The World Bank has been accused of publishing false accounts and wasting money on ineffective medicines in its malaria treatment programme. A Lancet paper claims the bank faked figures, boosting the success of its malaria projects, and reneged on a pledge to invest $300-500m in Africa. It also claims the bank funded obsolete treatments - against expert advice.

The bank has denied the allegations and says it is investing $500m to $1bn over the next five years. But it also admits it is not easy, and sometimes "not even possible", to know exactly how much input from each donor goes into a specific activity.

The claims against the bank, made by 13 international public health experts headed by Amir Attaran, of Canada's University of Ottawa, centre on the financial pledges the fund made to fight malaria on the African continent and a programme in India. The researchers accused the bank of failing to reverse historic "neglect" of the battle against malaria and of hyping their spending on that battle in Africa....

The Lancet study also alleges that the World Bank hyped the results of its malaria control programme in India. They quote the bank saying that it reduced deaths from malaria in the Indian states of Gujarat by 58%, Maharashtra by 98% and Rajasthan by 79%. The authors say they doubted malaria could be reduced so markedly in such a short time and requested and obtained official statistics from India's own national malaria programme.

According to India's Directorate of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, deaths from malaria rose in all three states in the 2002-3 period in question. "Because we were refused access to the original data sources, we cannot discern the cause of the bank's many statistical errors and particularly whether those errors arise from unintentional mistakes or from intentional data falsification or fabrication," the authors say...

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.