Thursday, May 31, 2007

Britain's new Greenie righteousness: Don't drive your kids to school

For the sake of the planet, let them get attacked by pedophiles and other predators. People are pollution, after all

If there is one thing likely to make parents like me send our children to school in a stretch limo, it is sanctimonious lectures about how not walking risks global destruction. It is government-backed Walk to School Week, billed as "a celebration of how walking to school can reduce air pollution and help save the planet". I admit that, when needs must, my wife, rather than the Devil, drives our daughters to the local junior school. Otherwise, I enjoy walking them - often my most strenuous exercise, and our longest uninterrupted chat. I now discover, however, that it is also meant to be my moral duty.

In the leaflet for Walk to School Week given to children, "Strider", a cartoon talking foot, attacks car-produced "evil pollutants" that increase global warming and are "going to destroy your planet". Strider warns children: "Each time you use a car their army gets stronger and stronger." It's war! So, "Come on mum," say the multi-ethnic kids in the pictures, "let's walk to save the world!"

Let us pass over questions about Strider's scientific expertise at this point, since none of this has anything to do with teaching the complex science of climate change. It is about delivering a simplistic moralistic warning of man-made doom to our children - and through them, to us. The Walk to School website even declares that "We want people to see walking to school as a great way to `do your bit' in the same way as recycling your bottles or turning off lights". When did it become the job of schools to help to forge a pseudo Blitz spirit in the Government's "war" on global warming?

Educational crusaders are using alarmist warnings to re-educate our children in how to behave. Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, plans to make geography lessons even more explicit morality tales about man-made global warming, in order to help to "lock in a culture change that could, quite literally, save the world". So messing around with the curriculum or walking to school can avoid an apocalypse? In the name of global warming it seems that we are now expected to believe "quite literally" anything.

This policy of indoctrination, indoctrination, indoctrination risks raising children's "awareness" at the expense of their education. They can end up "aware" that life on Earth is ending but ignorant of where the planet's great rivers begin; less well-schooled in geography than in guilt-tripping their parents.

Campaigners complain that "only" 49 per cent of primary pupils walk to school. By coincidence, a survey suggests that half of 7 to 11-year-olds often lose sleep worrying about the havoc they have heard climate change will wreak. Maybe they are too scared to get out of bed - or just too tired to walk the straight and narrow path with Strider.


Green attack on British football

What did you do on Saturday, the sunny day of the FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Chelsea which took place at the rather spectacularly done-up Wembley Stadium? Maybe you were one of 89,826 fans jammy enough to get tickets for the game and to watch it underneath Wembley's new gleaming, cathedral-style arc. Or perhaps you were one of the estimated 500million people who watched it on TV (United and Chelsea's fanbases stretch way beyond the white cliffs of Dover into Europe, Africa and Asia). Maybe, like thousands of others, you watched the game over a pint in a local pub. Or perhaps you don't very much care for football and did something completely unrelated instead: shopping, sleeping, sunbathing.

Or.were you one of a small handful of miserabilist windbags who spent the day pointing out how destructive the FA Cup Final is likely to be for the environment? We should have seen it coming. A few hours before the Cup Final kicked off, it was reported that the event would make an `eco-footprint' 3,000 times the size of the Wembley pitch. Academics totted up the number of pies and other unsavoury savoury products the Wembley-attending fans were likely to consume (the fat bastards) and the number of miles they were likely to drive, and worked out that each fan's `eco-footprint' would be nearly 10 times what it would have been if he or she had watched the game from home.

What curmudgeonliness. The anti-FA Cup miserabilism provided a striking (if somewhat unwitting) snapshot of the inherently elitist streak in the politics of environmentalism. Where millions of people around the world were glued to watching a major annual event in that most mass of mass sports, football, certain green-minded individuals seized an opportunity to lecture and hector the nation about its dirty habits. It was the political equivalent of a dirty tackle from behind. It's high time we showed these greens the red card.

Claims that the first FA Cup Final to be played at Wembley in seven years would make a damaging dent in the natural environment emanated from academics at Cardiff University. I know - you would think that a university has better things to do than put the dampers on a big sporting event. And Cardiff? Maybe they're bitter that Wembley has re-assumed its rightful place as Britain's big national stadium, thus kicking Cardiff's Millennium Stadium into touch. According to the Guardian, Cardiff University found that `the average fan's taste for beer and pies makes up a large chunk of the ecological impact [of the FA Cup Final in Wembley]'. Cardiff's Andrea Collins said, `They are highly processed food and drink products which require a lot of energy to produce' (1). She also said that a lot of waste would be `generated outside [Wembley] stadium', especially by fans driving their cars or using up some other breed of `transport miles' (2).

Cardiff's claims were based on a study it carried out of the FA Cup Final of 2004 when Manchester United played Millwall at the Cardiff Millennium Stadium. Back then researchers found that before, during and after the game Man Utd and Millwall fans ate 37,624 sausage rolls, pies or pasties, 26,965 sandwiches, 17,998 hot dogs, 12,780 burgers, 11,502 packets of crisps and 23,909 portions of chips. They rinsed it all down with 303,001 pints of lager, 66,584 pints of beer, 38,906 pints of cider, 12,452 bottles of wine, 90,481 shots and 63,141 bottles of alcopops. This `binge' left a mark on Cardiff city centre: 37 tonnes of glass, eight tonnes of paper and 11 tonnes of uneaten food were left behind, and none of it was recycled! Can you believe it? Football fans watched a game and then went out to celebrate/commiserate over grub and booze and they didn't even take their rubbish home with them to deposit it in their recycling compost machines (3).

During the 2004 Cup Final, fans' use of transport contributed the largest part of the `eco-footprint'. The researchers found that fans travelled an average of 367 miles each (well, if you are going to hold an English Cup Final in Wales.), 47 per cent of them by car, 34 per cent by rail and the rest in coaches or minibuses. Apparently, all this travelling made an `eco-footprint' that measured 1,670 `global hectares' - though quite how you get from miles travelled by football fans to a footprint measured in hectares is anyone's guess (4). Extrapolating from these 2004 findings, the Cardiff boffins now say that Saturday's final at Wembley will have caused an `eco-footprint' 3,000 times the size of the Wembley pitch. Got that? A study of what fans ate and drank during an FA Cup Final in 2004 can throw light on the amount of land (the eco-footprint) required to provide the necessary resources to replenish those used up by fans at an FA Cup Final in 2007. And they say that those who question the green ethos use dodgy science..

Having colonised the educational sphere and the political sphere, the rapacious green ethos is now spreading into the world of leisure. Even that previously purely emotional sphere of football fandom is being subordinated to the demands of the green priests. Last year's World Cup was similarly measured in terms of its ecological impact. The German authorities claimed that the event would emit 100,000 tonnes of CO2, which they tried to offset by investing $1.5billion in environmental protection projects in Africa and Asia. They also `educated' fans attending World Cup games by issuing them with green advice leaflets, making them drink from recyclable and refillable beer cups, and serving hotdogs without any packaging (5). In Britain, the Football Association has set itself the task of making football `carbon-neutral' (6).

Behind the claims that big cup finals are destroying the environment there lurks an old-fashioned fear and loathing of football fans, of their cavalier attitudes and their potentially destructive and violent impact. Old concerns about large gatherings of working-class men (and some women) are now swaddled in PC environmentalist lingo. Where thousands of fans were traditionally seen as a heaving riot waiting to happen (and sometimes still are), now many see them as toxic waste-creators; where fans used to be looked upon as a threat to public order, now they are described as a threat to the natural order. You can see the fear of the masses in those scary-sounding numbers of how many pints they drink and portions of chips they eat: they are not seen as individuals coming together to cheer their team, but as an out-of-control mass, an intolerable blob, eating tonnes of food, drinking tonnes of booze and leaving behind tonnes of shit.

The anti-fan component to the greening of football is clear in the solution put forward: to change mass behaviour. David James, until recently the England team goalkeeper and a leading light in the football world's efforts to make the game more planet-friendly, says the real problem is `habit and tradition': `Football is pure bloke territory: it's still acceptable to spit out gum and chuck bottles on the floor, and the industry mirrors this selfishness across the scale.' James says the football authorities must re-educate people and reshape their `attitudes' - that is, effectively de-bloke them. `We've got to make use of football as a driving force for environmental change. We'd be stupid not to. It doesn't take a think tank to see that the game holds a powerful influence over kids and adults around the world.' (7) In short, the authorities should exploit football to change the way fans think and behave. Even the old fan-hating law'n'order lobby never tried that - they might have whacked fans across the head, but they didn't try to change what was inside their heads.

It takes a killjoy of the highest order to hector football fans for not thinking about the consequences of their behaviour while they're watching a game. Like Catholic priests of old, the greens demand that we stop and think before doing anything potentially `destructive' or `immoral'. They seem not to understand that there are moments in life when we simply lose ourselves in passion or fury and throw `good sense' and `good behaviour' to the wind. No self-respecting football fan is going to think about recycling a hotdog napkin when his team is 1-0 down and there are only five minutes left; no fan whose team has just won the FA Cup is going to collect together all his beer bottles as he drinks himself silly and put them in a bottle bank on the way home. Life, love, football: they just don't work like that. And if you can't see why, then maybe you'd be better off watching bowls.


Coal to motor fuel push undermines the Greenies

Hardly unexpected though. There is no such thing as a happy Greenie. NO alternative would suit them. Even windfarms are out of favour now that a lot of them have actually been built

Even as Congressional leaders draft legislation to reduce greenhouse gases linked to global warming, a powerful roster of Democrats and Republicans is pushing to subsidize coal as the king of alternative fuels. Prodded by intense lobbying from the coal industry, lawmakers from coal states are proposing that taxpayers guarantee billions of dollars in construction loans for coal-to-liquid production plants, guarantee minimum prices for the new fuel, and guarantee big government purchases for the next 25 years.

With both House and Senate Democrats hoping to pass "energy independence" bills by mid-July, coal supporters argue that coal-based fuels are more American than gasoline and potentially greener than ethanol. "For so many, filthy coal is a dirty four-letter word," said Representative Nick V. Rahall, Democrat of West Virginia and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. "These individuals, I tell you, have their heads buried in the sand."

Environmental groups are adamantly opposed, warning that coal-based diesel fuels would at best do little to slow global warming and at worst would produce almost twice as much of the greenhouse gases tied to global warming as petroleum.

Coal companies are hardly alone in asking taxpayers to underwrite alternative fuels in the name of energy independence and reduced global warming. But the scale of proposed subsidies for coal could exceed those for any alternative fuel, including corn-based ethanol. Among the proposed inducements winding through House and Senate committees: loan guarantees for six to 10 major coal-to-liquid plants, each likely to cost at least $3 billion; a tax credit of 51 cents for every gallon of coal-based fuel sold through 2020; automatic subsidies if oil prices drop below $40 a barrel; and permission for the Air Force to sign 25-year contracts for almost a billion gallons a year of coal-based jet fuel.

Coal companies have spent millions of dollars lobbying on the issue, and have marshaled allies in organized labor, the Air Force and fuel-burning industries like the airlines. Peabody Energy, the world's biggest coal company, urged in a recent advertising campaign that people "imagine a world where our country runs on energy from Middle America instead of the Middle East." Representative Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat whose district is dominated by coal mining, is writing key sections of the House energy bill. In the Senate, champions of coal-to-liquid fuels include Barack Obama, the Illinois Democrat, Jim Bunning of Kentucky and Larry Craig of Wyoming, both Republicans.

President Bush has not weighed in on specific incentives, but he has often stressed the importance of coal as an alternative to foreign oil. In calling for a 20 percent cut in projected gasoline consumption by 2017, he has carefully referred to the need for "alternative" fuels rather than "renewable" fuels. Administration officials say that was specifically to make room for coal.

The political momentum to subsidize coal fuels is in odd juxtaposition to simultaneous efforts by Democrats to draft global-warming bills that would place new restrictions on coal-fired electric power plants. The move reflects a tension, which many lawmakers gloss over, between slowing global warming and reducing dependence on foreign oil. Many analysts say the huge coal reserves of the United States could indeed provide a substitute for foreign oil.

The technology to convert coal into liquid fuel is well-established, and the fuel can be used in conventional diesel cars and trucks, as well as jet engines, boats and ships. Industry executives contend that the fuels can compete against gasoline if oil prices are about $50 a barrel or higher. But coal-to-liquid fuels produce almost twice the volume of greenhouse gases as ordinary diesel. In addition to the carbon dioxide emitted while using the fuel, the production process creates almost a ton of carbon dioxide for every barrel of liquid fuel.

Coal industry executives insist their fuel can actually be cleaner than oil, because they would capture the gas produced as the liquid fuel is being made and store it underground. Some could be injected into oil fields to push oil to the surface. Several aspiring coal-to-liquid companies say that they would reduce greenhouse emissions even further by using renewable fuels for part of the process. But none of that has been done at commercial volumes, and many analysts say the economic issues are far from settled. "There are many uncertainties," said James T. Bartis, a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, who testified last week before the Senate Energy Committee. "We don't even know what the costs are yet."


The Greenhousers Strike Back and Out


I began this series of critiques of the greenhouse fearmongers with an evocation of the papal indulgences of the Middle Ages as precursors of the "carbon credits"-ready relief for carbon sinners, burdened, because all humans exhale carbon, with original sin. In the Middle Ages they burned heretics, and after reading through the hefty pile of abusive comments and supposed refutations of my initial article on global warming I'm fairly sure that the critics would be only to happy to cash in whatever carbon credits they have and torch me without further ado.

The greenhouse fearmongers explode at the first critical word, and have contrived a series of primitive rhetorical pandybats which they flourish in retaliation. Those who disagree with their claim that anthropogenic CO2 is the cause of the small, measured increase in the average earth's surface temperature, are stigmatized as "denialists," a charge which scurrilously combines an acoustic intimation of nihilism with a suggested affinity to those who insist the Holocaust never took place.

The greenhousers endlessly propose that the consensus of "scientists" on anthropogenic climate change is overwhelming. By scientists they actually mean computer modelers. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and their computer-modeling coterie include very few real climatologists or atmospheric physicists. Among qualified climatologists, meteorologists and atmospheric physicists, there are plenty who do not accept the greenhousers' propositions. Many others have been intimidated into silence by the pressures of grants, tenure and kindred academic garottes.

Peer review, heavily overworked in the rebuttals I have been reading, is actually a topic on which the greenhousers would do well to keep their mouths shut, since, as the University of Virginia's Pat Michaels has shown, the most notorious sentence in the IPCC's 1996 report ("The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate") was inserted at the last minute by a small faction on the IPCC panel after the scientific peer-review process was complete. Here's how Dr Fred Goldberg describes the probable culprit, Professor Bert Bolin, a politically driven Swede who was the first chairman of the IPCC, from 1988 to 1998. Goldberg's very interesting paper is entitled, "Has Bert Bolin fooled us all concerned climate change caused by humans?":

""In 1995 IPCC presented its second report: The Science of Climate Change". In this report a large number of researchers work through hundreds of scientific reports and delivers a comprehensive report where they conclude that there is no evidence that human beings have had an influence on the climate. This conclusion is of course very important for politicians and policymakers around the world. But what happened? The editor of the IPCC -report then deleted or changed the text in 15 different sections of chapter 8 (The key chapter concerning whether human influence exists or not) which had been agreed upon by the panel of contributors involved in compiling the document. In practice politicians and policymakers only read the so-called Executive Summary for Policy Makers. In this document consisting of a few pages it is clearly stated that humans have influenced the climate, contrary to the conclusions of the scientific report.

"Professor Fredrik Seitz, former chairman of the American Science Academy, wrote in the Wall Street Journal already the 12th of June 1996 about a major deception on global warming: "I have never before witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer-review process than the events that led to this IPCC report." He gave many examples of changes and redefinitions and finished by demanding that the IPCC process should be abandoned.

"Had somebody subordinate to Bert Bolin within IPCC made these changes it is reasonable to think that Bert Bolin himself would correct the errors. That he has not done is why I draw the conclusion that it must be Bert Bolin himself who is responsible for the changes and no subordinate person has dared interfere with his boss."

I should acknowledge one imprecision in my description of Dr. Martin Hertzberg's graph in my first column-"the smoothly rising curve of CO2"-that prompted several intemperate responses, charging that I couldn't possibly expect CO2 or carbon levels to drop just because of a one-third cut in manmade CO2. Indeed, I should have written "one could not even see a 1 part per million bump in the smoothly rising curve." Even though such transitory influences as day and night or seasonal variations in photosynthesis cause clearly visible swings in the curve, the 30 percent drop between 1929 and 1932 caused not a ripple. Empirical scientific evidence that the human contribution is in fact less than a fart in a hurricane, as Dr. Hertzberg says.

As for the alleged irrefutable evidence that people caused the last century's CO2 increase, the "smoking gun" invoked by one of my critics, Dr. Michael Mann, and his fellow fearmongers at, the claim is based on the idea that the normal ratio of heavy to light carbon-that is, the Carbon-13 isotope to the lighter Carbon-12 isotope, is roughly 1 to 90 in the atmosphere, but in plants there's a 2 percent lower C13/C12 ratio. So, observing that C13 in the atmosphere has been declining steadily though very slightly since 1850, they claim that this is due to man's burning of fossil fuels, which are generally believed to be derived from fossilized plant matter. On the naive and scientifically silly assumption that the only way that plant-based carbon can get into the atmosphere is by people burning fuels, they exult that here indeed is the smoking gun: decreases of C13 in the atmosphere mean that our sinful combustions are clearly identifiable as major contributors to the 100 ppm increase in CO2 since 1850.

This is misguided, simply because less than a thousandth of the plant-based carbon on earth is bound up in fossil fuel. The rest of the huge remaining tonnages of plant-based carbon are diffused through the oceans, the forests, the grasslands and the soil. In other words, everywhere. Obviously, lots of this C13-deficient carbon has the opportunity to oxidize into CO2 by paths other than people burning fuel, i.e., the huge amount of plant material that's naturally eaten or decayed by the biosphere.

Perhaps even more significantly, cold ocean waters absorb lightweight C12 preferentially, resulting in lots of C13-deficient carbon in the oceans. This low-C13 carbon most certainly would have been released massively into the atmosphere over the course of the world's warming trend since 1850, when the Little Ice Age ended. All of these larger natural pathways for emitting low-C13 carbon into the atmosphere have been considerably accelerated by this same warming trend. So once again, the greenhousers have got it ass-backward. The 100 ppm increase in CO2 can't be uniquely attributed to humans because at least as plausibly it could be the effect, not the cause, of the warming that started after the Little Ice Age denied by Dr. Michael "Hockey Stick" Mann.

I had promised that this third column would pose the question "Are things really so bad," a theme I will take up in this series, along with a continuation of these rebuttals. Originally I had hoped to deal with criticisms at the end of the series. I have changed my plans since committed greenhousers like George Monbiot (honorary chairman of the King Canute Action Committee, committed to beating back non-existent anthropogenic global warming by tactics which would have zero impact anyway) that I have ignored their rebukes. In actual fact I was offline, in Russia, flying thither over the Arctic and thus able to make a direct review of the ice cap. So wait a couple of weeks for my next column before you critics let fly again. Coming up: how greenhouser theologians deal with the global water cycle and the highly embarrassing and persistent lag between temperature and subsequent atmospheric CO2 change. After that, I'll offer a real treat: the nightmare visions of the greenhousers and how many of their quavering predictions have fallen under the implacable guillotine blade of reality.



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

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

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


Wednesday, May 30, 2007


An email from Michael Martin-Smith []

Last year I made, slightly tongue in cheek, the suggestion in an open letter to Ha'aretz that the confrontation over Iran's nuclear programme could be defused by offering to help that country develop reactors powered by Thorium rather than Uranium 235. I even proposed, that if Iran herself were to undertake the R&D as a nationalistic programme, the Iranians would not only achieve their nuclear ambitions, but also would win a technological/ commercial lead which they could legitimately exploit in the global economy. Furthermore, since a Thorium reactor would produce much lower levels of waste than present day reactors, and no Uranium or Plutonium, Iran would, by going down this path, achieve nuclear power generation without having to constantly deny an intention or even possibility of manufacturing nuclear weapons at all! Israeli leaders could give their Air Force Commanders a well earned break, and ease their fingers twitching, as they now are, nervously over their little red buttons.

Also, with much lower intensity of its nuclear wastes, the idea of a "dirty" terrorist bomb would be essentially nullified, since evidence is that low levels of waste do NOT justify the expensive and disruptive contamination exercise as carried out at Chernobyl, and which would be the principal aim of the putative terrorists of Al Qa'eda et al. In our radiation phobic culture, the frenzied reaction to such a "weapon" would be far more destructive of lives and welfare than an attitude of benign comparative neglect followed by regular medical checks; no I131, no carcinoma of thyroid, should simplify matters.Follow up studies at and near Chernobyl after 20 years suggest that such an approach would have worked as well as all the dislocation; with a Thorium based reactor,or an attempted terrorist "dirty bomb" based on Thorium generated wastes, this would be true a fortiori. A good response to terrorists is to refuse to be terrorised?

Come back, Terry Thomas and David Niven - such divine nonchalance would be a tonic to us all... I was delighted to learn in another recent article that within two-three years, scientists at Imperial College in London, together with counterparts in the USA, are to further investigate and develop the potential for Thorium based reactors.

Recent work at the Technion Institute in Israel, with collaboration at Russia's Kurchatov Institute, on the safe and economic glassification of low level wastes suggest that by 2010 or so , we may have at last learned how to "close the loop" in safe nuclear power generation - safer production, no risk of terrorism/proliferation, and safe disposal of fewer and less radioactive wastes.

Thorium, I understand, is actually more plentiful for miners than is Uranium, and would bring India (a major site of deposits) a considerable boon in economic development. An opportunity to save Iran's face, and avert the looming confrontation with its nuclear ambitions, bring wealth and development to a still struggling India, free us from Mid East oil, combat carbon dioxide emissions without penury or hyper-regulation, and buy time for Helium 3 based nuclear fusion and advanced space based solar power over the next 50 years or so? Such an opportunity is rare indeed; too good to be true? - I suspect not. But too good to be taken up - very likely!!


The environmental movement began as a protest against Western culture's alienation from nature. This alienation was said to have its roots in the Judeo-Christian heritage that sets man apart as a special creation above the natural kingdom (see Genesis 1:28, 29). Environmentalism advanced the antithesis that puts an all-wise Mother Nature on a pedestal above the human race. The natural is lauded and, to quote an old one-liner, "only man is vile."

There is a very pervasive anti-human bias in environmentalism, and it is expressed in a bias against human technology, economic growth and human prosperity. Global warming theory is popular because it is just another big stick to beat up on human activity. Human activity cops the blame for everything from the disappearing green tree frogs to almost any natural disaster.

It is as if Augustine's old doctrine of original sin has come back to haunt us again. It was a doctrine that said every single calamity on the earth, including the disaster of death itself, was all man's fault - or was it woman's fault? Anyhow, in this present orgy of human blaming, eagerly supported by media sensationalism, the alienation of man from nature has become worse than what it was before environmentalism tried to correct it.

I want to propose that we look at our human relationship to nature in a new way. This will be like putting on a whole new pair of glasses that puts biotechnology and every other kind of human technology in a much more positive light. I propose that we recognize that the same natural evolutionary process that brought bees, birds and mammals into existence, has also brought Homo sapiens into existence.

By saying this I am not trying to empty this emergence of everything of its awe and wonder. I am just pointing out the scientific reality that humankind emerged through the same natural processes as every other living thing. This means that the human species is nature too. If every other form of life made up of living cells with genes and DNA is what we call nature, then Homo sapiens, whose genes are 98.7% the same as the chimpanzee, is also nature.

When ants accomplish an amazing feat of technology in constructing a termite's nest, or elephants make water holes with their feet, or beavers construct a dam across a stream, we call that nature. On what basis can we then say that human technology is man-made rather than natural? This is philosophical and scientific nonsense, yet we keep repeating this nonsense like the slogan of the pigs in Animal Farm, "Four legs good, two legs bad" - as if what is done by a creature with four legs, six legs or no legs is natural and must be good for the environment, whereas what is done by a creature with two legs is man-made and must be bad for the environment.

If human intelligence evolved through the same natural process that produced a fox's cunning and a beaver's dexterity, then all human intelligence is natural and all human technology is natural. I am not saying it is necessarily good, but it's undeniably as natural as the technology of a bee hive, the weaving of a spider's web or the navigational equipment of migratory birds.

In human consciousness nature has finally become conscious of itself. "We may think of ourselves," says the great mythologist Joseph Campbell, "as the functioning ears and eyes and mind of this earth." Heretofore nature could only act in a random order of hit and miss. As such, nature has often been wasteful and prone to structural flaws, as the ABC science reporter, Robyn Williams, has made all too clear in his recent satire, Unintelligent Design. But now Mother Nature has acquired in this human mind what Julian Simon has called "the ultimate resource," and a power that the brilliant Princeton physicist, Freeman Dyson, has described as being "infinite in all directions."

"Nature has structural flaws and physical limitations" writes Greg Easterbrook (A Moment on the Earth) "Genus Homo may be able to change that. People may be here because nature needs us - perhaps needs us desperately...There is no reason in principle why nature ought to oppose the arrival of the high-speed analytical powers of the mind. Nature may have been dreaming of these very powers for 3.8 billion years." (pp.668-669).

This is why the late physicist Heinz Pagel could write in Dreams of Reason that it is high time that we discard "the radical distinction between mind and nature." This includes, of course, the distinction between natural and man-made.

Full paper here

Blue Skies, High Anxiety

Our air is cleaner than it's been in a century, writes Joel Schwartz. So why do Americans worry it's so dirty and dangerous?

Americans are driving more miles, using more energy, and producing more goods and services than ever. But at the same time, the air quality in America’s cities is better than it has been in more than a century—despite the fact that the U.S. population has almost quadrupled and real GDP has risen by a factor of nearly thirty. But Americans aren’t aware of this good news—or don’t believe it. Polls show the public thinks that air pollution has been steady or even rising over the last few decades, that it will worsen in the future, and that it is still a serious threat to people’s health. They are convinced that pollution is a serious problem throughout the country, that it is a major cause of asthma and other respiratory diseases, and that it shortens the lives of tens of thousands of people.

Much of what Americans think they know about air pollution is false. Through exaggeration and sometimes even outright fabrication, the main purveyors of the story—journalists, government regulators, environmentalists, and even health scientists—have created public fear out of all proportion to the actual risks.

Air pollution has been declining for decades across the United States. The chart below tells the story. Between 1980 and 2005, average levels of air pollution fell between 20 percent and 96 percent, depending on the pollutant. For example, sulfur dioxide, which results mainly from the burning of coal and the smelting of some metals, is down 63 percent, while carbon monoxide, the vast majority of which comes from automobiles, is down 74 percent. At the same time, coal usage increased more than 60 percent and miles of driving nearly doubled.

Virtually the entire nation now meets federal standards for sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and lead. The country is also near full compliance for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s older standards for ozone (the “one-hour” standard) and particulate matter (the “PM10” standard for airborne particulate matter less than ten micrometers in diameter).

Compliance has also greatly improved for the more stringent ozone and PM standards the EPA adopted in 1997. In 1980, about 75 percent of the nation’s ozone monitors violated the eight-hour ozone standard, but the rate was down to 18 percent at the end of 2005. About 90 percent of the nation violated the fine particulate matter (PM2.5, or airborne PM under 2.5 micrometers in diameter) standard in 1980, but the proportion had dropped to 16 percent by the end of 2005.

Much of what Americans think they know about air pollution is false. Journalists, government regulators, environmentalists, and even health scientists have created public fear out of all proportion to the actual risks.

Air pollution will continue to decline. The EPA tightened automobile emission standards in 1994, 2001, and 2004. The last of those rules requires reductions that will cut automobile emissions (including those from SUVs and pickups) by 90 percent below the emissions of the current average car. Even after accounting for expected increases in total miles of driving, the net effect will be a reduction of more than 80 percent in total automobile pollution emissions over the next couple of decades. Emissions from on- and off-road heavy-duty diesel vehicles will follow a similar trajectory as 90 percent reduction requirements come into effect for these vehicles in 2007 and 2010, respectively. Industrial emissions will also continue to fall under the EPA’s Clean Air Interstate Rule, which will eliminate most remaining power plant pollution.

Despite the nation’s spectacular progress, polls show that most Americans think air pollution has stayed the same or even increased, and will worsen in the future. Typical is a 2004 poll by the Foundation for Clean Air Progress, which found that only 29 percent of respondents believed that “America’s air quality is better than…it was in 1970.” Some 38 percent said it was worse, and 31 percent said it was about the same. In fact, by any measurement, air quality is enormously improved.

Nevertheless, it’s hardly surprising that Americans are pessimistic about air pollution, since much of the information they receive is at odds with reality. Here are a few examples of the distortions:

The lack of context adds to misperceptions about pollution. Clearly, some place in the United States has to be the worst at any given time. But even in the worst areas of the country, air pollution is much lower now than it used to be. Riverside, California, has the highest PM2.5 levels in the country, but PM2.5 in Riverside has dropped by more than half since the early 1980s, even as the area’s population has more than doubled. Ignoring and obscuring these large improvements add to the gap between public perception and actual air quality.

The most serious claim leveled against air pollution is that even at current levels it kills tens of thousands of Americans each year. The EPA credits federal pollution regulation with preventing hundreds of thousands of premature deaths during the last 35 years, and, as a result, believes the Clean Air Act has delivered tens of trillions of dollars in benefits. But the existence of these benefits depends on whether the comparatively low air pollution of the last few decades is deadly. Controlled human and animal studies suggest that it is not.

Even air pollution at levels many times greater than Americans ever breathe doesn’t kill laboratory animals. As a recent article in the journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology concluded, “It remains the case that no form of ambient [particulate matter]—other than viruses, bacteria, and biochemical antigens—has been shown, experimentally or clinically, to cause disease or death at concentrations remotely close to U.S. ambient levels.”

Researchers cannot, of course, do laboratory studies on people to see if air pollution will kill them. But they can look for milder health effects in human volunteers. Such studies also provide little support for claims of serious harm.

Two major forms of particulate matter—sulfates and nitrates—are simply nontoxic. In fact, ammonium sulfate, the main form of particulate matter from coal-fired power plant emissions, is used as an “inert control”—that is, a substance without any health effects—in human studies of the effects of acidic aerosols. Inhaler medications to reduce airway constriction are delivered in the form of sulfate aerosols. Nevertheless, in a glut of reports with scary titles like “Death, Disease, and Dirty Power” and “Power to Kill,” environmentalists have been running an aggressive campaign against coal-fired electricity, claiming that tens of thousands of deaths are caused by power plant particulates.

Even “carbonaceous” particulate matter—the noxious, sooty emissions from diesel trucks and other motor vehicles—causes surprisingly little reaction, at least at concentrations encountered in urban air. Studies sponsored by the Health Effects Institute had healthy and asthmatic volunteers ride an exercise bike while breathing concentrated PM2.5 collected in the Los Angeles area, or concentrated diesel exhaust. In both cases, the exposures were many times greater than typical levels in urban air, and even a few times greater than peak levels in the most polluted cities. Nevertheless, there were no changes in symptoms or lung function in either the healthy or asthmatic subjects.

Controlled laboratory evidence, therefore, indicates that low-level air pollution doesn’t cause premature death. The claim that tens of thousands of Americans die each year from even the relatively clean air in modern American cities instead rests on indirect evidence from so-called “observational” epidemiology studies, in which researchers look for correlations between air pollution and risk of death in large groups of people.

Observational studies work with subjects who are not randomly selected and with pollution exposures that are not randomly assigned. Researchers use statistical methods to try to remove the biases inherent in the resulting data. Most epidemiological studies you read about in the newspaper—studies that assess the effects of diet or health habits on the risk of cancer or heart disease, for example—are of this nonrandomized, observational variety.

Most health claims based on such observational studies are turning out to be false when tested in large, randomized clinical trials—a “gold standard” methodology that avoids the biases of observational methods and is the type of study required for drug approvals. Spurious health claims from observational studies have become such a pervasive concern in the medical literature that health researchers have been creating new journals specifically designed to combat the problem.

Perhaps not surprisingly, regulators, environmentalists, and most air pollution epidemiologists have ignored these weaknesses and continue to assume that observational studies provide valid information about air pollution’s health effects. They point to the thousands of observational studies that have reported a positive association between low-level air pollution and risk of death as proof that the harm is real. But implementing an invalid methodology over and over again doesn’t improve its validity.

Of course, air quality regulation isn’t just about preventing death, but also about mitigating lesser, but still serious, health concerns. The entire corpus of air pollution health claims, however, rests on surprisingly thin evidence. Asthma is the most conspicuous example. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the prevalence of asthma nearly doubled in the U.S. during the last 25 years. Environmentalists have made asthma sufferers the literal poster children for air pollution activism, parading them before regulatory agency hearings and creating the impression that air pollution is a major culprit. The Carolinas Clean Air Coalition’s website goes so far as to claim that “1⁄3-1⁄2 of all asthma in North Carolina is due to air pollution.”

Only 29 percent of those polled believed that ‘America’s air quality is better than…it was in 1970.’

But how can air pollution be the cause of rising asthma if asthma prevalence rose at the same time that air pollution of all kinds sharply declined? Also, asthma is most common in wealthy Western countries that have relatively low air pollution levels, while developing countries with awful air pollution have comparatively little asthma.

Environmentalists and regulators also create the impression that air pollution accounts for a large proportion of all respiratory distress. According to an EPA fact sheet, “Ozone can irritate lung airways and cause inflammation much like a sunburn…. People with respiratory problems are most vulnerable, but even healthy people that are active outdoors can be affected when ozone levels are high.” “Digging Up Trouble,” a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists on diesel construction equipment in California, claims that “as much as 10 to 20 percent of all summertime hospital visits and admissions for respiratory illness are associated with ozone.”

But regulators’ own technical studies belie these exaggerations. Researchers from both the EPA and the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, have published technical reports suggesting that eliminating all human-caused ozone (somewhere around one-quarter to one-half of ozone is natural or transported from other countries) in the United States—a much larger reduction than required to comply with the current eight-hour ozone standard—would prevent no more than 1 or 2 percent of all asthma emergency room visits and respiratory hospital admissions.

Even these small benefits are inflated, because they omit contrary evidence. For example, researchers from Kaiser Permanente studied the relationship between air pollution and respiratory distress in California’s Central Valley, and reported that higher ozone was associated with a statistically significant decrease in serious health effects, such as hospital admissions. Although it was the sponsor of the Kaiser research, CARB omitted this result from its study of the benefits of ozone reductions.

The pattern of asthma attacks also indicates that ozone can’t be a significant factor in exacerbating such respiratory diseases. Emergency room visits and hospitalizations for asthma are lowest during July and August, when ozone levels are at their highest.

What about the long-term effects of pollution on respiratory health? Key evidence comes from CARB’s Children’s Health Study (CHS), long-term research begun in 1993. After following more than 1,700 children from ages 10 to 18, University of Southern California scientists published a study in The New England Journal of Medicine using CHS data that found no association between ozone and lung growth or capacity—despite the fact that some of the communities in the study exceeded the federal eight-hour ozone standard more than 100 days per year.

The same report also suggests that particulate matter, even at the highest U.S. levels, causes little developmental harm. Long-term exposure to PM2.5 at twice the level of the federal standard was associated with only a 1 to 2 percent decline in children’s lung capacity.

The researchers’ press release on the study created a false appearance of serious risk. Titled “Smog May Cause Lifelong Lung Deficits,” the release asserted, “By age 18, the lungs of many children who grow up in smoggy areas are underdeveloped and will likely never recover.” This is what newspapers reported, rather than what the study actually found. It is just one of many cases in which health experts have created an appearance of much greater harm than justified by the underlying evidence.

The most recent results from the CHS, published in The Lancet, the respected British medical journal, last January, concluded that even growing up near a major freeway was associated with only about a 1 percent decline in total lung capacity. That finding was based on pollution levels during the 1990s, when measurements showed that automobile and diesel truck emissions were two to four times greater than now. Nevertheless, in a familiar pattern, the researchers claimed they had uncovered serious harm, and this is what newspapers uncritically reported.

Still, if air pollution is not the threat most Americans think it is, don’t we have the Clean Air Act and aggressive regulatory authorities to thank? Not really. Regulators and environmentalists have created the impression that air pollution was on an ever-rising trajectory before the federal government stepped in to protect Americans from unrestrained capitalism. In reality, air pollution had been dropping for decades before the 1970 adoption of the modern Clean Air Act.

Pittsburgh reduced particulate levels by more than 75 percent between the early 1900s and 1970. Chicago, Cincinnati, and New York all have records going back to the 1930s or 1940s showing large reductions in smoke levels. Nationwide monitoring data demonstrate that particulate levels declined nearly 20 percent between 1960 and 1970, while sulfur dioxide declined more than 30 percent. Los Angeles began reducing ozone smog in the 1950s, soon after skyrocketing population and driving created this new form of air pollution. Ozone levels in Los Angeles have been dropping ever since.

Air pollution is not unique in this respect. For decades before the federal government got involved, a range of environmental concerns was being mitigated by a combination of ad hoc local and state regulation, nuisance lawsuits, and market forces that pushed for better efficiency and technology. Other dangers were declining as well. Per mile of driving, the risk of dying in a car accident dropped 75 percent between 1925 and 1966, the year Congress created the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The risk of dying on the job declined 55 percent between 1930 and 1971, the inaugural year of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. And for all of these risks, the rate of improvement was about the same before and after the federal government stepped in.

After several decades living under what legal scholar David Schoenbrod calls the “modern administrative state,” it may seem unimaginable that public goods like cleaner air or safer cars could be delivered without the command and control of powerful national regulators. Unfortunately, we didn’t merely trade a decentralized system for an equivalent centralized one. Instead, federal air quality regulation has added a great deal of collateral damage into the bargain.

A good example is a policy called New Source Review (NSR), which requires businesses to install state-of-the-art pollution controls when they build a new plant or upgrade an existing one. Routine repair and maintenance are exempt, allowing existing older plants to keep operating without cleaning up their emissions. The idea was that emissions would decrease over time as existing facilities reached the end of their natural useful lives and were replaced by clean modern plants.

It didn’t work out that way. By increasing the costs of new and upgraded plants relative to existing ones, NSR encouraged businesses to keep old plants running as long as possible—ironically slowing progress on air quality. And NSR is just one among many requirements with perverse outcomes.

By the mid- to late-1990s, regulatory economists estimated that the Clean Air Act was costing Americans on the order of 1 to 2 percent of GDP per year—about $1,000 to $2,000 per household. The incremental costs of attaining the tougher ozone and PM2.5 standards that the EPA has adopted since then will likely add an additional $1,000 or so a year to the average household’s outlay, but will provide little or no incremental health benefit in return.

Between 2003 and 2005, the proportion of the nation’s ozone monitors violating the EPA’s eight-hour standard plummeted from 43 percent to 18 percent.

The EPA’s war on pollution marches on, nevertheless. The agency recently adopted a new PM2.5 standard, and plans to propose a tougher ozone standard in June that will represent a vast expansion of the Clean Air Act’s reach. About 23 percent of the nation’s metropolitan areas violate the current standard. This fraction would double even under the EPA’s least stringent alternative. Under the most stringent alternative, literally the entire nation would become a Clean Air Act “nonattainment” area.

Federal air quality regulation suffers from incentives to create requirements that are unnecessarily stringent, intrusive, bureaucratic, and costly. The Clean Air Act charges the EPA with setting air pollution health standards. But this means that federal regulators decide when their own jobs are finished. Not surprisingly, no matter how clean the air, the EPA continues to find unacceptable risks. The EPA is like a company that gets to decide how much of its product customers must buy. Congress also charges the agency with evaluating the costs and benefits of its own programs. Not surprisingly, the EPA finds the benefits to be far in excess of the costs.

But the conflicts of interest go much deeper. The EPA and state regulators’ powers and budgets depend on a continued public perception that there is a serious problem to solve, yet regulators are also major funders of the health research intended to demonstrate the need for more regulation. Regulators decide what questions are asked, which scientists are funded to answer them, and how the results are portrayed. Regulators also provide millions of dollars a year to environmental groups, which use the money to augment fear of pollution and seek increases in regulators’ powers.

Before the EPA was created, decentralized actions were delivering the improved air quality that an increasingly wealthy and educated polity was demanding. Before the era of compulsively detailed regulation, the government’s role was, to paraphrase economist Sam Peltzman, complementary to market forces, evolving gradually and incrementally, and largely working in concert with people’s values and preferences.

By contrast, today’s federal regulatory system imposes revolutionary institutional changes that often override people’s preferences and suppress individual initiative and creativity. Schoenbrod, a law professor and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, began his career as an idealistic attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council during the 1970s. But his experiences convinced him that the modern administrative state is unkind to the people it claims to be protecting. Regulators, he says, have “left the public more anxious about pollution than ever. Such anxiety fuels the growing power of the administrative state.”

The prospects for improving air quality regulation are not encouraging. Even the Bush administration has aided alarmism rather than reform. Environmentalists and many newspaper editorial boards have relentlessly pilloried the president for supposedly “gutting” the Clean Air Act and increasing air pollution. Meanwhile, back in the real world, air pollution continues to hit new record lows; the Bush EPA has imposed the nation’s toughest-ever air pollution standards and regulations, going far beyond where the Clinton administration chose to tread; and, perhaps most ironic, the Bush administration has justified this vast expansion of the Clean Air Act based on the same spurious health claims through which environmentalists and regulators maintain unwarranted public anxiety.

Realistic public information on air quality is a prerequisite for popular support for a sensible regulatory system focused on results and net improvements in Americans’ welfare. Unfortunately, the media have so far shown little interest in improving environmental reporting. True, many journalists realize that environmentalists are often prone to exaggeration and that the regulatory system suffers from significant structural problems. But they also seem to believe regulators and environmentalists are well-intentioned, while the critics of regulation must have nefarious motives. Alas, speculation about motives is a poor basis for judging the value of public policies or regulatory institutions. As C. S. Lewis wrote, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.… [T]hose who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”


Dangerous "Green" car

The shocking image of this tangled wreck of what was a Reva all-electric car has prompted road safety authorities to keep it off Australian roads. The wreckage of the Indian-built car is the result of a simulated crash at just 48 km/h.

The crash test dummy at the wheel of the Reva has its legs crushed, and hangs limply and exposed out of the door, its head having taken the full force of the disintegrated bonnet and windshield during the crash. Watch the crash test below:

But the man who wants Australian metropolitan commuters to go green in the Reva, says the shocking crash test has little relevance and that he knows the car is not as safe as other vehicles on our roads. Adrian Ferraretto, general manager of The Solar Shop in Adelaide, has been pushing for trials of the Reva here for years, and yesterday defended its safety record on the basis that it is allowed on roads elsewhere under the classification of a heavy quadricycle.

"We know the car's not as safe as say an S-Class Mercedes Benz or a Hummer or other passenger cars, but it has a different application," Mr Ferraretto said. "It's for low-speed city motoring. I don't think (the crash tests are) relevant. While it's not as safe as other passenger cars, it's safer than a motorbike."

The test on the Reva was conducted by UK motoring magazine Top Gear. It prompted road authorities in Britain to conduct their own crash tests and re-examine the road laws which allowed it on the roads there. Footage from the test was shown at a recent Australian Transport Council meeting of state and federal transport ministers. At the start of this month, as an outcome of that meeting, the Reva all-electric car was banned from use on Australian roads as it had failed a frontal crash test and did not comply with safety standards. An application by the West Australian Government to trial the Reva, an automatic two-door hatch, was rejected by the Australian Transport Council.

In Britain, however, the Reva - known as a G-Wiz - is classed as a heavy quadricycle and therefore has not had to meet the same safety standards as a car. Australia has no such vehicle category.


Global cooling? Britain colder than Alaska!

The Brits were widely certain that their unusually warm summer proved global warming. What now?

More than 74,000 homes across the east of England were left without electricity yesterday as wind and heavy rain brought down power lines. EDF energy said last night that it had restored power in most areas but 4,000 homes were still without electricity. The disruption came as millions of Britons shivered through the washed-out Bank Holiday, which weather forecasters had predicted.

Plummeting temperatures, gales and torrential rain persisted. Public transport was disrupted, events were cancelled and emergency services were kept busy. In Alaska temperatures hit 16C (61F) – practically balmy compared with England’s average of 11C. Parts of Siberia were warmer than High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, the coldest spot in the country, where temperatures fell to 5C. The Met Office reported that the weekend was one of the wettest and coldest bank holidays for years, far below the May average of 17C.

However, indoor attractions were celebrating the bad weather. Shops and museums in London were bustling and the new 62 million Dickens World, an indoor theme park in Kent, was filled to capacity. Thames Water confirmed that the deluge had made water restrictions less likely this summer.

Seaside resorts were heavily booked by families counting on bursts of sunshine. But by Saturday afternoon all hope had evaporated. Much of England endured downpours topping 50mm (2in). St Catherine’s Point, on the Isle of Wight, had received almost 75mm since the start of the Bank Holiday. Ferries to the island were cancelled and two yachts from France had to be rescued in the Channel.

In Exeter, three teenagers who camped beside the River Exe had to be rescued after being surrounded by fast-flowing water. One of Britain’s biggest carnivals, the Luton International Festival, which was expected to attract more than 100,000 people, was cancelled.

Most of Western Europe suffered too. The weather will improve today, then it is misery again for most of the week.



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

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

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


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

More Debunking Of The Global Warming Hysteria

Post lifted from Flopping Aces. See the original for links

A new study released this week by the National Center for Policy Analysis, "Climate Science: Climate Change and Its Impacts", is taking the Environazi's to task once again. Here is an editorial from the WSJ which breaks it down a bit:

"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.

[...]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.

Meanwhile ANOTHER climate scientist, this time Dr. William Cotton, has come out in opposition to this man-made global warming hysteria, saying exactly what we have been saying for some time. We just don't understand climate enough to predict what will happen 10 years from now, let alone 100. And there is just no solid evidence to suggest we humans are causing global warming:

"I am not exactly speaking out against global warming. But, I don't think the science is as solid as many lead us to believe. Don't get me wrong, the science of how greenhouse gases directly affect climate is strong. But where it gets messy is all the feedbacks in the system that the theory relies upon and most particularly the role of clouds. Also when it comes to future scenarios (predictions?) decades or longer I point out there are many other factors affecting climate and some of these can be quite large but often are not predictable. Many of these are related to aerosols either natural (volcanoes) or manmade. Then there is also the wildcard with respect to solar variability impacting climate. I think there is something going on there that we just don't understand. I try to keep up on papers in that area and so far am not convinced about their physical arguments especially the cosmic ray/cloud cover arguments But just because we can't explain it doesn't mean something important isn't happening.

I have attached a copy of the recent talk I gave at the University of Tel-Aviv. I didn't put it on a slide but I also point out that this position is purely from my personal scientific evaluation. My book on "Human Impacts on Weather and Climate," 2nd Edition by Cotton and Pielke published by Cambridge is out by the way.

I also point out that I am very "green" as I ride a bicycle to and from work 12 miles a day, I have a Toyota Prius, fly a sailplane, sail boats and paddle kayaks, have an electric lawnmower and weedwacker, florescent lights throughout the house, and support reducing pollution of all sorts.

I put the figure showing the correlation between greenhouse gas emissions and population to show that the bottom line is we are overloading our planet and that as long as we keep putting more and more people on it we will be increasing the likelihood of serious impacts on water resources, air quality, and weather and climate. However, as a scientist I have to draw the line between being "objective" and being an advocate of policies."

Now this is an honest assessment by someone who quite obviously believes humans are impacting the planet, but is not following the money to advocate the man-made global warming industry. Because make no mistake about it.... It is a industry...

Devastating Critique of Climate Modeling

Post lifted from American Thinker. See the original for links

This Website posting (hat-tip NRO's Iain Murray) from Dr. R.A. Pielke Sr., a bona-fide climate scientist and author of a book on climate modeling, is just devastating to Global Warming alarmists.

'That the (UN's) IPCC states that this (climate modelling) is a "much more easily solved problem than forecasting weather patterns just weeks from now" is clearly a ridiculous scientific claim.'

Although there is a fair bit of scientific jargon, let's count the ways it refutes the UN IPCC:

1. This direct rebuttal from a leading climate modeler is ipso-facto evidence belying claims of "scientific consensus".

2. It correctly notes that climate models must, by definition, be more complicated than weather models. Long term factors such as ocean currents, changes in vegetation, the global economy, etc, which have no bearing on short term weather must be accounted for in climate models. The sets of mathematical relations are thus inherently more complex, requiring more equations to account for these extra parameters, leaving more room for error.

3. "Tunable components" refers to non-dimensional coefficients or correction factors that are adjusted (tuned) so that the predictions of the equations fit the real world data with high fidelity. This is done to improve the models' accuracy for further predictions. Despite the fact that weather models may be tuned quite frequently with real-world data, they still cannot predict accurately beyond four or five days. In contrast, many years or decades must pass before the predictions of "multi-decade climate models" can be compared with empirical data for the purposes of "tuning".

But I found some of the most devastating revelations in the comments from other climate scientists:

"....we've been modeling the climate with supercomputers for more than a decade, why is there no public "scorecard" comparing predictions to actual reality? I think if we are going to base massive changes to the economy on the predictions of these models, they should at least make public predictions, a decade out, each year. Then we should be able to compare them to the previous year's predictions and climate measurements."

Dr. Pielke replies that he has previously called for testable climate model predictions to be verified (or not) with careful measurement of heat accumulating over time in the oceans -- with a weblink to that page of his site recording this request -- but his call has apparently fallen on deaf ears at the IPCC and among the climate modelling community at large. Perhaps this further comment referring to Dr. Pielke's proposed test of climate models sums up the situation best:

"Thats the metric alright. But the energy-deprivation-crusaders aren't going to be signing up for this. Because they've been on a years-long evidence-filibuster."

Arnold confronts his most powerful enemy ever: the laws of physics

Post lifted from American Thinker. See the original for links

The Governator, a.k.a Arnold Schwarzenegger, is now talking up "the hydrogen economy of the future," which will supposedly save us from our energy woes. Or maybe it'll be electric cars, biofuels and solar. Or all of the above. If this were a wrestling match, Governor Arnold would have that dirty old oil economy down on the wrestling mat, begging for mercy.

The trouble is that the stern laws of physics are different from pro wrestling and Hollywood action epics. Because the current crop of "solutions" have one thing in common. They require more energy to manufacture than they yield. They are lousy energy conversion and transport methods, not new energy sources. High school physics students are supposed to know that energy sources can only be converted from one kind to another, but there's no "conventional" way to create it. Only in your dreams, Governor, Sir.

Science knows of only two ways to obtain energy on this planet. Either we convert it from the fusion reactor of the sun --- using solar collectors or green plants, or through sun-made oil, coal, methane, shale sands, water flow, wind, or tidal power. Or, we can produce energy from a radioactive mass, like the sun itself. That's nuclear energy, which produces radiant heat from uranium or plutonium.

It is still true that oil, coal and nuclear are far and away the biggest and best, most cost-efficient methods available. The United States is fortunately rich in coal, shale, and natural gas, but because of environmentalist overkill, the country has a declining future in oil. You can convert any energy source into a different form, as long as you don't mind slipping down the efficiency hill, step by step, with all the finality of the Frankenstein Monster clumping downstairs. There's nothing we can do about it. We can turn oil into hydrogen, and coal into electricity --- and end up running "clean" electrical or hydrogen cars. Trouble is, you lose BTUs at every single step. And you get more total pollution, because now you're using even more coal, oil, and nuclear input for the same energy output. There's no free lunch, in economics or physics.

You can always dream of efficiency improvements that could theoretically make up for these basic facts of physics. So maybe hydrogen fuel cells will let us store energy at high efficiency. Great, but we still have to get the energy from the same old sources: coal, oil or nuclear. So Reuters was far out into Fantasyland the other day when it claimed that new hydrogen storage discoveries will help us get to energy paradise. But hydrogen storage won't help energy production. We still have to get it in the first place. Too bad, but the media flunks high school physics. (Just like most of them probably did the first time.)

Or we could make everybody drive small cars and motor scooters --- and be at the mercy of bigger vehicles... Bottom line for Arnie's hydrogen-electric cars? Barring a scientific miracle, they are inherently much worse than gas-powered cars. It's the Tinseltown "solution" to reality --- expensive and wasteful, much dirtier to start with, but cleaner once we see it. It looks great, as long as you don't peek behind the cardboard scenery. So this is a shell game, covered up by hype and scientific ignorance. The end users think they're not using those bad old fuels. In fact, they are still using them and getting less for their money. Millions of people will end up using more petroleum and coal - it'll just be out of sight somewhere in Nevada.

So the next time Governor Arnie talks up a "hydrogen economy" for California, will somebody please ask him what energy sources he is proposing to use, to free up hydrogen molecules from water or methane? Reporters never seem to remember basic physics --- it would get them fired. But somebody please ask. If the Goobernator is an honest man, he will say:

Hydrogen will be produced from oil, coal, and nuclear power at a big loss in efficiency. It's going to take billions and billions of dollars in tax money to create a Giant Monument to My Ego, and it's not going to pay for itself in the foreseeable future. Solar energy isn't ready, and won't be for years.

If he doesn't say that, he's ignorant or lying. Even the Governator can't fake out the laws of physics.


A top United Nations official says he is no longer alarmed by Canada's stand on the Kyoto Protocol now that he better understands the Conservative government's position. "I must admit, I was worried for some time, but I was much encouraged by the clarification," Yvo de Boer, executive secretary to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said in Montreal Tuesday. He said he now understands that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government wasn't rejecting the value of the Kyoto accord, but rather observed its objectives cannot be met within the target deadline.

De Boer was responding to reporters' questions after addressing about 300 delegates, including environmentalists and politicians. The UN official's statements clearly pleased federal Environment Minister John Baird, who was at the media event and also addressed the delegates. Since coming to office 16 months ago the Conservative government has committed $9 billion of new money to protecting the environment, Baird said. He used the event to announce the federal government will also contribute $4.5 million of new money to Environment Canada's Habitat Stewardship Program to protect species at risk.

Baird also praised his government for its energy and fuel efficiency strategies. Last month, the Conservatives announced an environment plan that would force large industries to reduce the intensity of their emissions by at least 18 per cent, starting in 2010.

Baird's words failed to impress conference delegate Faisal Moola, director of science for the David Suzuki Foundation, who accused the minister of using the "government's baby steps" on climate change as evidence of Canada's commitment to the biodiversity treaty. In fact, Moola said, Canadians would be surprised to know that both the previous Liberal government and the current Conservative one have failed to make use of Canada's Species at Risk Act to protect iconic species such as the beluga whale, the polar bear and caribous. Canada's most endangered species is the northern spotted owl, which lives in British Columbia - there are only 14 left, Moola said. Yet Ottawa has refused to use the Species at Risk Act to halt the logging of its habitat, Moola added.



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

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

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


Monday, May 28, 2007

Bush ratchets up atrocious CAFE regulations

President Caves to Environmentalists in Expanding Failed Fuel Economy Scheme

President Bush this week ordered increased Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, exacerbating an already-defective fuel economy program. This dramatically reverses several years of White House policy, which had previously issued studies detailing the negative cost/benefit consequences of CAFE mandates. The disappointing announcement also indicates a surrender to hysterical environmental special interests but will achieve none of its advertised goals.

Rather, the regulations will merely impose even more new burdens on the nation's beleaguered automobile industry and gasoline refineries, at great cost to America's economy and infrastructure. Within the next ten years, carmakers will be forced to produce vehicles with greater fuel efficiency, and refiners must add more inefficient more expensive ethanol and other additives to their gasoline.

Beginning promptly next year, the proposal mandates a 4% annual increase in fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks to 34 miles per gallon by the year 2017. By comparison, current federal CAFE standards require that passenger cars achieve 27.5 miles per gallon, and light trucks must achieve 22.2 miles per gallon. The regulations will also require an increase in renewable and alternative fuels to 35 billion gallons per year (from approximately only 5 billion gallons per year currently).

As always, this government folly will result in even higher gas and automobile prices, as well as decreased auto safety, for consumers. The ominous nature of the President's proposal is perhaps best illustrated by those who applaud it. According to Sierra Club Director Dan Becker, "right now, they seem to be saying things the right way."

The more fundamental problem with the regulations, however, is that they simply don't work. The CAFE system was imposed in 1975 as a response to the oil embargo, but America today imports an even greater portion of foreign oil than it did then.

In addition, heightened mileage requirements have backfired on their intended purpose because consumers responded to greater fuel efficiency by driving even more miles, buying even more cars, and using even more gasoline. Ever since the 1975 CAFE standards imposed mileage mandates, people chose to buy bigger cars and live in increasingly-distant suburbs from their workplaces. Between 1990 and 2000, for example, the number of workers whose commutes exceed 60 minutes increased almost 50%, according to the Census Department.

Consumers have also opted for the increased safety of bulkier models that are better able to scoot the kids to soccer practice, haul hardware store and remodeling purchases home and tow recreational trailers and boats. Simply put, CAFE masterminds foolishly ignored the countervailing incentives that they created for consumers, and assumed that people would just maintain their driving habits and options preferences.

Furthermore, increased mandates will do nothing to address the mythical "climate change" issue. With worldwide economic expansion in places like China and India so frenzied, global greenhouse emissions will grow regardless of any miniscule reduction in American automobile emissions. As it is, auto emissions only constitute 20% of total American emissions, which themselves are a small portion of worldwide manmade emissions, which themselves are a tiny portion of global carbon emissions compared to natural processes such as oceanic releases, volcanoes, methane from dying plants, live animals, swamp seepage and other non-manmade emissions.

On the other hand, these mandates will put American auto makers at even greater competitive disadvantage, because Japanese and other foreign competitors will be better able to adapt to the new standards. As it is, the American Big Three are hemorrhaging losses, shuttering manufacturing plants and laying off thousands of American employees. What a deal - more losses by the Big Three, more layoffs and higher gas and car prices.

It is particularly disappointing that President Bush mischaracterized last month's atrocious Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts v. EPA to rationalize his decision. The Court in that case simply held that the EPA could either regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) or decide that it would not or could not do so. The White House, however, inaccurately stated that "the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA must take action under the Clean Air Act regarding greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles." The Supreme Court's decision was abysmal enough, but President Bush should not attempt to duck responsibility by misrepresenting its ruling.

Unfortunately, ailing automakers and gas suppliers simply present too soft a boogeyman, and feel-good environmental platitudes too easy a justification. With the White House apparently surrendering, it is now up to American consumers and voters to resist this counterproductive policy before we suffer additional damage.


Honour for a Greenie mass-murderer?

At times it seems that there are more sites honoring Rachel Carson than Josef Stalin at his peak. There's an environmental advocacy institute (at Chatham University, her alma mater), a state office building in Harrisburg, several research institutions, a number of schools (no less than eight, by my count), and here in Pittsburgh, we got this bridge.

The bridge in question, once known as the 9th Street Bridge, was renamed the Rachel Carson Bridge late last year at the request of Esther L. Barazzone, president of Chatham University. It's one of three downtown suspension bridges crossing the Allegheny. Together they're known as the "Three Sisters". The other two are named for Roberto Clemente and Andy Warhol, respectively. (Andy probably wouldn't have minded the "sisters" appellation, but as for Roberto... I wouldn't care to speculate.)

The renaming resolution was a piece of political boilerplate passed unanimously by the Allegheny County Council with no debate or publicity. According to Eileen Watt, who sponsored the motion, the Council was looking to honor a woman who was a native of Pittsburgh. (Which is not quite the case, Carson having been raised in Springdale, twenty miles north.) Very little mention was made concerning Carson's actual accomplishments, something for which the Council may come to feel grateful.

Because Carson's accomplishments are effectively wrapped up in Silent Spring, a book hailed as "one of the five most influential of the 20th century" (Modern Library) and "One of the hundred most significant of the past millennium" (Life Magazine), but one which many view as one of those books, like Das Kapital and Mein Kampf, that we'd very much like to somehow see unwritten.

In 1958 Carson received a letter from her close friend Olga Huckins, which told a strange and alarming story. A short time previously, Huckins' bird sanctuary north of Cape Cod had been sprayed for insects, leading to a mass die-off of birds. The pesticide implicated was DDT. Carson looked into it, her alarm deepening she discovered several similar incidents involving fish and birds. Originally set on treating the subject in an article, she instead embarked on a book-length project, spending over four years on the manuscript that became Silent Spring.

Silent Spring was published in September 1962 to immediate and near-universal acclaim. It was a strange time in American history - the public had only recently endured scares over radioactive fallout from nuclear testing and a horrifying incident involving the pregnancy drug thalidomide, which led to gross birth defects. Silent Spring rode this wave of paranoia as if designed for it.

Along with a thirty-week run on The New York Times bestseller list, the book was discussed in the Senate, debated by Congressional committees, analyzed by the presidential Science Advisory Committee and widely covered on television. All of which was a deep pity, because Silent Spring was an extremely dishonest and flawed piece of work.

Carson's book was rife with omissions, misrepresentations, and errors. She neglected to mention that the spraying of Huckin's bird sanctuary was accompanied by fuel oil, which would have harmed the birds in and of itself. The fact that DDT had eliminated malaria in the northern hemisphere went unnoted. The threat of cancer (Carson herself had been diagnosed with breast cancer while at work on the book) was overemphasized -- to put it mildly -- on no scientific basis.

But far worse was the tone of hysteria permeating the entire work. DDT was not simply a chemical compound, to be analyzed dispassionately like any other. No - it was representation of absolute evil, a demonic threat to all forms of life, one that had to be ousted from the environment at all costs. Such an overwrought treatment is perhaps understandable from a woman effectively writing under the gun of cancer, but it's scarcely acceptable in a work purporting to be a serious scientific study.

This attitude of Carson's was imported into environmentalism whole, becoming the standard for dealing with environmental matters of all kinds. DDT became target number one for the new environmental movement (one organization, the World Wildlife Fund, was founded with no other goal than its elimination). It was an uphill battle for several years, since serious scientific analysis of Carson's claims overthrew virtually all of them. DDT did not cause cancer. It had no health effects whatsoever on humans, mammals, or any other higher animals. The sole deletorious effect involved the eggs of raptors, where ambiguous evidence of shell-thinning was discovered. Even the Environmental Protection Agency, founded in answer to the uproar generated by Silent Spring, dismissed claims against DDT.

The environmentalists solved that one by going straight to the top. The EPA's head, William D. Ruckelshaus, was a committed environmentalist and a member of several environmental organizations, with widespread connections throughout the movement. On June 14, 1972, Ruckelshaus rescinded the registration for DDT, effectively banning the compound. (Many sources, such as this site, claim that there never was any such ban, a contention easily answered by this EPA release.) Ruckelshaus later worked for the World Wildlife Federation, a fact that may or may not be relevant.

With the Ruckelshaus ban, the DDT story deepens into tragedy. One thing unmentioned throughout the debate was the fact that DDT had effectively eliminated malaria in the developed world. Though not as fearful as diseases such as plague or tuberculosis, malaria was a greater killer than any of them, perhaps responsible for up to 300 million deaths in the 20th century alone. Malaria was a slow killer, a parasite that debilitated and weakened over years of repeated attacks. Even when it didn't kill, it reduced its victims to lives of unending misery.

DDT had ended its reign throughout Europe, the American South, and Latin America, one of the greatest humanitarian advances in recorded history, and one effectively forgotten by the 1970s. Also forgotten was the fact that one more challenge remained. Africa had been left out of previous international efforts due both to its vastness and the fact that the anopheles mosquito and the malaria parasite differed slightly from the species of other regions, seriously complicating any eradication campaign. Consideration was being given to overcoming those problems when the DDT ban undercut all such efforts.

Environmentalists and aid bureaucrats insisted that DDT could be replaced by other pesticides and procedures such as "integrated vector management." But mosquitoes quickly developed resistance to newer pesticides, and vector management was a gimcrack theory that failed everywhere it was tried.

Malaria rates began soaring worldwide, not only in Africa but in areas which a few years earlier had been malaria-free. Only a small number of nations with the financial ability to fund their own programs, such as Ecuador, Mexico, and South Africa, continued DDT use. In all cases, these countries remained healthy. (The Clinton administration demanded that Mexico give up DDT as a condition for NAFTA being put into effect. This was done, and malaria rates shot sky-high.)

Despite clear evidence as to the effects, international aid groups such as the World Health Organization and USAid ceased supporting DDT operations. By the mid-80s, malaria had reached and surpassed previous levels. Up to 500 million people were suffering attacks each year. Two to three million of them died as a result. Up to nine-tenths of the dead were children under five. So it continued for a quarter of a century. The tide began to turn when South Africa was persuaded in 1995 to abandon DDT in favor of the more expensive pyrethroid. Within three years, resistant mosquitoes appeared. By 2000, malaria cases had shot up by more than 1200%, to 62,000. The government resumed DDT spraying, and within months the disease rate dropped by four-fifths.

Other African nations began pleading for DDT. The UN had been attempting to ban the pesticide worldwide, but could not ignore evidence of such magnitude. An exception was made for spraying for health purposes, and aid organizations encouraged to begin financing such programs. Even so, it took another five years (and ten to fifteen million-odd deaths) to overcome bureaucratic inertia. It was only last September that the WHO acquiesced to such programs. Environmental organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace all applauded the decision. It was what they'd wanted all along, so they said.

One of the crucial figures in the fight for DDT was Sen. Tom Coburn, who spent a decade or more fighting alone against Greens, international aid bureaucrats, and the media on behalf of the wretched of the earth. Coburn spent those years contemplating armies of children dead for an empty ideology. So it's no surprise that it was he who stepped in to put a halt to Sen. Benjamin Cardin's resolution honoring Rachel Carson for her great work on the occasion of her centennial this Sunday.

Carson was not directly responsible. She is far from the equivalent of Hitler or Pol Pot that some overheated individuals claim to see in her. Neither are Ruckelshaus or the faceless aid bureaucrats, though we're getting closer to the bone there. No malice was involved in this case, no hatred, no hostility. We are simply confronted with the terrible mystery of human stupidity rendering the highest intentions more murderous than the worst.

But Rachel Carson lit the fuse, and no reinterpretation can ever change that. As Coburn is well aware, you do not pass resolutions in favor of people who were involved in the deaths of millions, however inadvertently. Neither do you name bridges after them, or institutes, or office buildings, or schools. (Or put up statues to them, which is Esther Barazzone's latest scheme.) In particular the schools, since you do not want to give naive children any notion at all that Carson's way is the way that things ought to be done.

It's doubtful that Sen. Coburn or anyone else will ever make any real impression on Carson's reputation. She is an archetype now, something of a goddess-figure embodying human decency and right action. People will sacrifice at her altar despite everything. But that doesn't mean that such gestures as the senator's are empty - at the very least, they embody a statement that the truth is there for those who want it. That counts for quite a bit. And there's also the fact that people still call it the 9th Street Bridge, in defiance of all the signs and fanfare. That voice of the people counts for something too.


Mobile homes and SUVs defended in Congressional inquiry

Today's full committee hearing on "The Issue of the Potential Impacts of Global Warming on Recreation and the Recreation Industry" revealed that misguided government regulations may help steal part of the American way of life away from recreation seekers. Today's hearing uncovered the dangers of so called global warming "solutions" as they may potentially impact the recreation industry. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said:

"The recreation industry's true threats come not from climate change -- which has always changed and will always change -- but from the so-called global warming `solutions' being proposed by government policymakers. Misguided efforts to `solve' global warming threaten to damage the travel and recreation industry and consequently threaten the American dream."

As Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition testified, the biggest threat to recreation may very well come from legislative "solutions" to climate change. "We ask the Congress to be wary of the danger of actions that would discourage healthy active lives and travel to see special places like national parks," Crandall said.

"The reality is that a reasonably fuel-efficient SUV - or even a large motorhome - gets more passenger miles per gallon when occupied by a family than does even the most fuel efficient car available today when occupied solely by a driver. And the benefits to the nation are large," Crandall explained. "We ask your help in protecting the ability of Americans to purchase vehicles that meet these needs," he added.

Barry McCahill, the president of the SUV Owners of America, noted that the cars of yesteryear were able to tow large recreational trailer or boats, but current cars do not have the ability.

"Today, just one percent of cars have the capacity to tow a small trailer or fishing boat. Why? Because of Federal fuel economy mandates," McCahill testified.

McCahill also spoke about how the use of four wheel drive vehicles for towing recreational vehicles and trailers was a key component of the American dream by bringing "families together outdoors, having fun and creating memories."

"This lifestyle, along with boating, horse shows and many other forms of outdoor recreation, could disappear if fuel economy mandates are pushed to the extreme -- or at minimum a luxury that only the wealthy could continue to enjoy," McCahill testified.

The safety of four wheel drives vehicles over passenger cars was also an important consideration, according to McCahill. "Based on 10 years of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that SUVs are 5-7 times safer than passenger cars," McCahill said. "Declines in death rates (since 1978) have been largest for SUV occupants, showing that larger vehicles are safer than smaller ones," he continued.

"Thousands of lives have been lost because of unintended safety consequences from CAFE-induced vehicle downsizing. Whole forests have been decimated to print enough paper to explain its complexities," he added. "We are not a one-size-fits-all society and light trucks fill an important economic and social niche," he concluded.


WHAT WARMING? Both Hemispheres Report Unusual Cold and Snow

The media loves to seize on every warm winter day or summer heat wave as some kind of "proof" of man-made catastrophic global warming. But what the establishment media likes to conveniently ignore is periods of unusual cold or snow. (See post: "Hysterical Global Warming Hypocrisy From ABC Regarding Heat Waves and Cold Snaps" ) Several nations on Earth are currently experiencing rather cold and snowy weather at the moment.

[Note: The mainstream media also loves to ignore the sea change occurring in the scientific community as many scientists who once believed in man-made climate doom now have reversed themselves and are skeptical.] (See EPW Blog: Prominent Scientists Reverse Belief in Man-made Global Warming - Now Skeptics )

The below articles detail some of the unusual cold and snow occurring at the moment. One article below chronicles the Memorial Day snow advisory for the Colorado Mountains where up to 8 inches is expected. (and this after the Denver area received "one of the snowiest winters on record" in 2007.)

Parts of Wyoming are also being buried under a snowstorm while winter weather is persisting in Oregon and parts of Canada. A huge snowstorm in China has closed highways and stranded motorists. In addition, South Africa just set 54 new cold weather records with some parts seeing snow for the first time in 33 years as snow and ice continue to fall. Finally, winter has arrived early in Australia as the snow season is off to a promising start for the winter recreation industry.

Now the question is, will the same media that sensationalizes every warm weather event to promote climate alarmism, highlight the current icy grip of winter for many areas?

Articles from past few days beg question -WHAT WARMING?

Colorado Mountains under Memorial Day snow advisory, up to 8 inches expected
Denver had "one of the snowiest winters on record."
California seawater temperatures are unusually cold
Family stranded in Oregon snow found OK
Highways closed, motorists stranded as snow buries China
A taste of winter; Freezing rain, snow hits parts of Canada
Heavy snow forecast for Wyoming Mountains
Winter arrives early as Australia's snow season off to promising start
South Africa sets 54 cold weather records as snow and ice continue
First snow in parts of South Africa in 33 years leaves poor out in cold
Cold causes power cuts in Pretoria
21 killed as South African cold snap persists
Homeless bear the brunt of the S. African big chill
Cold affects S. African vegetable trade



US carbon-dioxide emissions declined by 1.3 per cent in 2006 even as the world's largest economy expanded by 3.3 per cent, the White House announced late Wednesday. The US Energy Information Administration issued a so-called flash estimate of carbon-dioxide emissions that showed a decline of 78 million metric tons last year in the United States.

In a statement, US President George W Bush touted the report as validating his energy and climate-change policies. He called in 2002 for the US to reduce so-called greenhouse-gas intensity or emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 18 per cent within a decade. The 2006 emissions report shows a decline of 4.5 per cent in carbon-dioxide intensity, the largest one-year drop since 1990, "putting us well ahead of what is needed annually to meet my greenhouse-gas intensity reduction goal ... by 2012," Bush said. "We are effectively confronting the important challenge of global climate change through regulations, public-private partnerships, incentives, and strong economic investment," Bush said.

Bush has been widely criticized by other governments for withdrawing the US from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which was never ratified by the US Senate. A recent United Nations conference found that manmade factors were likely a strong and growing factor in global climate change, taking a much stronger stance on the issue than the Bush government.



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

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

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


Sunday, May 27, 2007


An email from Wendell Krossa []

Re the comments that none of the apocalyptic doomsayers has been right and they always fail- I would ask: What exactly are they missing? Apocalyptic doom-saying evidences a serious pathology at work. In the first place, it is a distorting perception of reality that holds a dismal view of humanity as essentially evil and bent on screwing things up. This denies the essential goodness of human consciousness and the infinite creative potential of human minds.

Corollary to this is the apocalyptic misperception that human freedom is a dangerous thing that allows people to engage in destructive enterprise. This is astounding, that all the great success of the past few centuries (lengthened life-spans, reduced child mortality, reduced disease, more comforts and conveniences, less violence in the world, cleaner and protected environments) can be dismissed as peripheral byproducts of a movement that is essentially destructive to life and nature (liberated people engaging in creative enterprise).

But it shows how the pathology of apocalyptic distorts human perception of reality. If apocalyptic were some nutty but benign sideshow then we could bemusedly watch the entertainment from the sidelines. But it is unacceptably dangerous to human society and advance. Apocalyptics don't just want to entertain you; they want to control your life and tell you just how to live in onerous detail.

Peter Foster of the National Post noted the other day that all this environmental doomsterism leads to "the almost universal call for centrally directed global mobilization to 'do something'. Now" (The Madness of Eco-crowds, May 23/07). Hence, the oft heard comment that disgruntled socialists are finding rebirth in environmentalism.

No matter how nutty we may consider apocalyptic, it is a dangerous movement because apocalyptics scare people and scared people are more easily manipulated and controlled. So apocalyptic is a direct assault on human freedom.

But perhaps the most serious impact of the pathology of apocalyptic is the waste of human potential. This is evident in the redirection of significant public and private funds that could be better invested elsewhere (Lomberg and others speak to this prioritizing of world concerns in Global Crises, Global Solutions). Along with this there is the redirection of research skills and time that could be better employed attending to issues that are of genuine concern to the planet.

There is also the overall constraining of economic growth and development that makes everyone poorer in the end (fear and guilt over using abundant energy sources to continue economic growth). And there is the unnecessary fear and guilt over enjoying the bounty of life and the abundance that Earth provides for human advance (natural and healthy consumption of the goods and services of our economies).

It reminds me of the horrific waste of human potential in the past century under socialist regimes. It is hard to imagine a greater 'evil' than to waste human lives and minds. Add to this the apocalyptic pressure to return us all to some low-consumption, peasant utopia that never existed. Apocalyptic simply ruins what ought to be the great party of life.

Julian Simon expressed something of this in his excellent book Ultimate Resource. He said the actual conditions on Earth should lead humanity to throw a party to outdo all parties. "We ought to sing, dance and be merry...but instead we see gloomy faces. They (the doomsters) are spoilsports and they have had bad effects...don't let them spoil our merry day" (p.408). He added that doomsterism undermines public morale and weakens the spirit of adventurous enterprise.

I would venture further that apocalyptic always fails because it misses the most fundamental trends in reality and life. It misses the trend of reality and life toward increasing order, organization, complexity, and toward something better. In human society this is evident in the trend toward something more humane. James Payne (The History of Force) and Stephen LeBlance (Constant Battles) both captured this in their histories of the decrease in violence over the life of human civilization.

These long term trends are never realized in steady upward trajectories but suffer setbacks along the way due to residual drives that sometimes overcome the better element of humanity (natural disasters and disease are also destructive setbacks). But these setbacks do not define the overall long term trends. They are more the nature of aberrations. The entire history of the universe, life on Earth and the progress of human society are evidence of the fundamental rising trajectory toward something better.

Without getting too spiritual about it let me also venture that all these positive trends traced by researchers like Simon speak to a fundamental generosity and goodness at the core of reality and life. Apocalyptic misses this entirely. But then wasn't it Nietzsche who said that we all hold some basic orientation toward life- either denying or affirming it.

Actual South American Snow Cover Data Show No Climate Change

Within the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the authors of the chapter focusing on snow, ice, and frozen ground (Chapter 4) state that "The cryosphere integrates climate variations over a wide range of time scales, making it a natural sensor of climate variability and providing a visible expression of climate change." In their very next sentence, the authors concede that "the cryosphere has undergone large variations on many time scales associated with ice ages and with shorter-term variations." This is a conscientious caveat to their report, because it is widely accepted that Earth's cryosphere, or frozen realm, has changed significantly in the past with variability in planetary temperature. It should not be too difficult to understand the concept that periods of reduced snow and ice across Earth have historically coincided with planetary warmth. With a risk of tugging on that particular linchpin of Al Gore's scientific knowledge, here comes new research findings associated with snowpack variability in the Andes Mountains of South America.

Outside of Antarctica, snow cover in the Southern Hemisphere has not received much attention in the climate change debate. In fact, within the snow, ice, and frozen ground chapter of the AR4, approximately 800 words along with three figures and one table are dedicated to snow cover variability in the Northern Hemisphere, compared to less than 400 words and no accompanying graphics for variability in the Southern Hemisphere. We're here to help spread the word on findings from the southern half of Earth.

Very late in 2006, the Journal of Climate published the research work of Mariano Masiokas (Instituto Argentino de Nivolog­a, Glaciolog­a y Ciencias Ambientales and Department of Geography, University of Western Ontario) and colleagues entitled "Snowpack variations in the central Andes of Argentina and Chile, 1951-2005: Large-scale atmospheric influences and implications for water resources in the region" (Masiokas et al. 2006). The research team used snow course data from each side of the central Andes in Chile and Argentina to develop the "first regional snowpack series." The team employed the six longest and most complete snow course records for the 55-year period in the region, covering an area stretching from 30S to 37S latitude. Their variable for study is annual maximum snow water equivalent (MSWE).

The snowpack of the central Andes serves as much more than a monitor of climate change. The authors explain that "over 10 million people in Central Chile and central-western Argentina depend on the freshwater originating from the winter snowpack of the central Andes." Alarming is their charge that "coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models especially targeted to investigate high-elevation sites" have indicated that "for the next 80 years the central Andes will probably experience significant temperature increases" (Bradley et al. 2004; Masiokas et al. 2006). To make matters worse, Masiokas et al. note that "independent general circulation model simulations also predict a significant decrease in precipitation over the region for the next five decades" (Cubasch et al. 2001). The combination of higher air temperature and less precipitation in the central Andes over the rest of this century is not the recipe for a problem-free regional water supply. The climate models seem to be sending a strong message to over 10 million people in Chile and Argentina. Surely this trend is already evident given the global warming of the past several decades that is supposedly unprecedented within Earth's climate record, right? Wrong.

Masiokas et al. found no such trend in MSWE, stating that the regional record "shows a non-significant positive linear trend (+3.95% per decade) over the1951-2005 interval," or an absolute increase of greater than 21% over the period (Figure 1). The group matched the MSWE record with mean monthly streamflow data for the primary rivers in the region. They found that river discharges on both sides of the central Andes "are strongly correlated with the snowpack record and show remarkably similar interannual variability and trends."

Figure 1. The regional snowpack (MSWE) series from the central Andes expressed as percentages from the 1966-2004 base period. The dashed lines indicate one standard deviation in the 1951-2005 regional snowpack record. MSWE means for the 1951-76 and 1977-2005 periods are shown as thick horizontal lines.

The work is important for two reasons. First, it once again either proves that general circulation models are not completely reliable, or it shows that little or no climate change has occurred in the central Andes, or both. Second, it introduces snow cover data from the Southern Hemisphere - a rarity in climate change circles. Within the snow, ice, and frozen ground chapter of the IPCC's AR4, South American snow cover is briefly mentioned among the few words dedicated to the Southern Hemisphere. One of the IPCC's conclusions is derived from newspaper accounts: "A long-term increasing trend in the number of snow days was found in the eastern side of the central Andes region (33S) from 1885 to 1996, derived from newspaper reports of Mendoza City." The other "conclusion" uses the altitude of the 0 Celsius line from atmospheric profile data at one location as a surrogate for the behavior of the snow line of the western Andes. But instead of the indirect evidence reported in the IPCC, Masiokas et al. provide data for the real thing-actual snow on the ground. In so doing, they shed more doubt on the reliability of global circulation models while boosting the hopes of more than 10 million people in Chile and Argentina.


In support of the above, note that the research below found no change in global precipitation WORLDWIDE -- very different from what warming would have produced:

Variations in annual global precipitation (1979-2004), based on the Global Precipitation Climatology Project 2.5o 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 Nio/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.


Send your underwear to the Undersecretary

Top-loading laundry machines have long been a low-priced, dependable home appliance. But no more-the federal government has wrecked them with its energy-efficiency regulations. That's the finding of the June 2007 issue of Consumer Reports. In its words: "Not so long ago you could count on most washers to get your clothes very clean. Not anymore. .What happened? As of January, the U.S. Department of Energy has required washers to use 21 percent less energy, a goal we wholeheartedly support. But our tests have found that traditional top-loaders . are having a tough time wringing out those savings without sacrificing cleaning ability, the main reason you buy a washer." Some of the top-loaders tested had "the lowest scores we've seen in years."

In fact, out of the 21 new top-loader models that Consumer Reports tested, it couldn't pick a single one as a "Best Buy": "[F]or the first time in years we can't call any washer a Best Buy because models that did a very good job getting laundry clean cost $1,000 or more."

Government mandates for higher efficiency are almost always accompanied by claims that the higher prices they cause will be more than offset by their alleged savings from lower energy costs. But that raises a fundamental question-if these new technologies are so good, then why do we need laws to force consumers to buy them? In fact, efficiency mandates often flop, and in some cases they flop disastrously. Government fuel efficiency rules for cars, for example, already contribute to thousands of deaths each year due to vehicle downsizing. Many people dislike compact fluorescent bulbs for perfectly valid reasons, but there is now a push to mandate their use by banning incandescent bulbs.

The risks of the laundry washer rules were pointed out long ago. But despite the fact that these problems have now developed, Congress may well boost efficiency requirements once again-not just for washers (as if they haven't done enough damage already) but for cars, trucks and a huge range of appliances and machinery.



Targets and timetables for carbon emission cuts are still out but a call for a major meeting in December to agree the way forward on global warming is back in the latest draft conclusions to be put to next month's G8 summit. The draft, seen by Reuters and dated May 15, reinstates a call for the meeting in Bali in December to make progress on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol which is the only global deal on cutting carbon emissions but which lapses in 2012. "We are committed to moving forward in that forum and call on all parties to actively and constructively participate in the negotiations on a comprehensive agreement at the UN Climate Conference in Indonesia in December 2007," the draft says.

That paragraph was excised from a previous draft in April. Many other paragraphs stressing the urgency of the climate crisis remain deleted in the latest draft. Diplomats says the cuts were made by a group of countries led by the United States but including Canada and Japan. Negotiations to expand and extend Kyoto beyond 2012 are barely moving and diplomats are hoping that the G8 summit in the German resort of Heiligendamm from June 6-8 will agree on a declaration strong enough to revitalise the talks.


Australia: A Greenie absurdity made real

MEET Queensland's first carbon farmer. Peter Allen, pictured, a third-generation farmer from Moura, has signed a $1 million deal for doing nothing at all. In a historic transaction, mining company Rio Tinto bought the rights to carbon dioxide stored in 3500ha of Mr Allen's heavily vegetated property, 575km northwest of Brisbane. Instead of clearing the land to run cattle, Mr Allen will preserve the trees for 120 years to ensure they soak up carbon dioxide.

When you hear talk of carbon offsets, this is where the money goes. Many of the state's farmers stand to reap multimillion-dollar incomes from selling carbon rights to large corporations or individuals wishing to become carbon neutral. "It's not like I have won the lotto or that I'm a tree-hugger. It was a purely financial decision," Mr Allen said. "We looked at the return on developing that land for grazing, compared to the return from the carbon rights. "We had to think hard before we decided to lock that land up for the next 120 years. "If it had been any less money, we wouldn't have done it."

This time last year, Mr Allen had eight bulldozers ready to knock down a swathe of trees on an investment property just outside Charleville. Under the State Government's moratorium on land clearing, farmers were given until December last year to enact one final clearing permit. Rio Tinto stepped in, offering Mr Allen and five other farmers money in exchange for their inaction. A total of 12,060ha was spared, the carbon rights secured under a legally binding contract. It is believed to be Australia's biggest carbon-trading deal.

The carbon industry is expected to boom after the Prime Minister's Task Group on Emissions Trading hands down its blueprint next Thursday. But as the carbon industry gears up, questions have been raised about the lack of regulation over the voluntary offset market - the system through which airline passengers, rock festival patrons and motorists can pay for their pollution. Green watchdogs say the voluntary market is open to exploitation, with no controls on who can sell carbon and no checks on the work carried out. Further questions have been raised about the effect of tree-planting, the popular method used by most carbon offsetters.



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

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

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


Saturday, May 26, 2007


An email from David Whitehouse [] below -- noting statistical shenanigans at NOAA -- including that great Greenie practice of treating as "outliers" anything that does not suit them. The latter part of the summary blue line in the graph below is pure fiction -- as a look at the detailed figures reveals. That we are now in a plateau phase of a temperature oscillation is wilfully ignored. It is a perfectly legitimate statistical practice to ignore the occasional aberrant value as an outlier but it is certainly not justifiable when there are lots of such "outliers" in close succession

You know my view of global warming - first allegiance should be to the data. Looking at NOAA's data on annual global mean temperature over land and ocean here shows something interesting which I know others have referred to. NOAA says of 2006 that it was the 5th warmest year on record but adds that it is in reality statistically indistinguishable from previous years. Indeed looking at the graph it's apparent that the last six years show no warming trend and are well within each others error bars. In fact the past ten years are statistically equivalent to no increase.

Clearly the past ten years have been warmer than the previous ten years and the blue line shows a trend of about 0.015 degrees a year. But I wonder what is the statistical justification of carrying that rising trend through the past ten years. It seems predicated on passing through the exact centre of the 2001 error bars and allowing 1998 (an El Nino year) to be 2 standard deviations above the trend. Is the blue line justified in showing a 0.1 degree rise all within the (larger) error bars that themselves show no trend?


Hurricanes over the past 5,000 years appear to have been controlled more by El Nino and an African monsoon than warm sea surface temperatures, such as those caused by global warming, researchers said on Wednesday. The study, published in the journal Nature, adds to the debate on whether seas warmed by greenhouse gas emissions lead to more hurricanes, such as those that bashed the Gulf of Mexico in 2005.

Some researchers say warmer seas appear to have contributed to more intense hurricanes, while others disagree. The UN International Panel on Climate Change said this year it was more likely than not that humans contribute to a trend of increasingly intense hurricanes.

Frequent strong hurricanes thrived in the Western Atlantic during times of weak El Ninos, or warming of surface waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, and strong West African monsoons even when local seas were cooler than now, the study said. "Tropical sea surface temperatures as warm as at present are apparently not a requisite condition for increased intense hurricane activity," Jeffrey Donnelly, the lead author and researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said in the study.

Intense hurricanes made landfall during the latter half of the Little Ice Age, a period of cooling that occurred approximately from the 14th to mid-19th centuries, he said.

Donnelly took core sediment samples from coastal lagoons in Puerto Rico to determine the frequency and strength of hurricanes that hit the Caribbean island over thousands of years. The storms whipped up sand and other coarse grains that were deposited in the lagoons. He compared the deposits with historic paleoclimatology records to determine that the storms hit during periods when El Ninos were weak and when Western African monsoons were strong. Intense hurricanes hit when local sea surface temperatures were warm or cool.

In fact, "the Caribbean experienced a relatively active interval of intense hurricanes for more than a millennium when local sea surface temperatures were on average cooler than modern," the study said. Changes in intense hurricane activity should be better predicted with more study of the Eastern Pacific and West African climate patterns, it said.


Appalling and unhealthy results of recycling mania in the Unhinged Kingdom

Sharon Lock, 36, has three bags of rubbish in her cluttered garage. They have accumulated there in the three days since her husband spent his Sunday morning driving to the tip seven miles away. Since February, when East Cambridgeshire District Council introduced fortnightly black-bag collections in Bottisham, he has been making the journey twice a week. "It's a real pain in the butt, to be honest with you", the mother of one said. "My son, Drew, is 2 and we can't have dirty nappies and food sitting in the garage for a fortnight. The smell is horrendous."

Lucy Baynes, who gave birth to her first child Zac only five weeks ago, tells a similar story. Two days before the fortnightly collection in leafy Bottisham, there is already a pile of black bags stacked against a post outside her garden, one of the communal collection points for the village. "Initially I thought the scheme was a good idea, but the stacks of rubbish are disgusting. That pile will be humming in the summer, and there will be more foxes and cats."

The council halved black bag collections in Bottisham only weeks ago, having already done so last summer in the village of Witchford. The pilot schemes are a response to the Government's controversial drive to push councils into cutting down on landfill and boost recycling, which Ben Bradshaw, the Environment Minister, said has resulted in 144 councils already experimenting with fortnightly collections.

Voters in many of these local authorities, including East Cambridgeshire, will be taking part in local elections next week. If sitting councillors are going to suffer as a result of their decisions to cut back on the dustmen, you would expect it to be at the hands of people such as Mrs Lock and Ms Baynes. Yet neither of these women will be voicing their frustration over refuse at the polls next week, because neither of them will be voting at all. Both cite their young children as a reason why they have not engaged with the election campaign, and both seem decidedly uninterested in whether the 17 Liberal Democrat councillors, 16 Conservatives and 6 independents will hold their seats on May 3.

Among those in the village who will vote, post office closures and council tax were both mentioned as reasons to back one party over the other, but not one person told The Times that the backlog of binbags would influence their decision. Which is perhaps why Colin McLean, the village's Conservative councillor, is relatively relaxed about the issue: "People have not been shaking hands over it on the doorstep," he said, "but nor have they been shaking fists."

Back in Bottisham, where the residents have had less time to adjust to the changes, John Humphreys expresses the mood of many people: "It is a diminution of the service which they tell us is an improvement, which gets up people's noses, and its an imposition, but compared with the big issues like the NHS it is not important. The retired teacher is less than thrilled about having to store nonrecyclable rubbish for two weeks before it is taken off his hands. But he will not be swayed by the battle of the binbag when he goes to vote. "We are the compliant people of England, and life's too short," he said. "It's not worth going to the barricades over."


Ethanol mania hits China -- hurts food supply

To a growing list of grievances over the rapid pace of economic change in their country, Chinese have another to add: a surge in the price of pork, caused partly by the country's drive to curb pollution. China consumes more pork per capita than any other nation and the meat is at the heart of myriad dishes, most frequently stir-fried with vegetables or chillies. It is also served as meatballs in a popular dish known as Lion's Head or in Dongpo rou, pork belly braised for hours into sweetish unctuous melt-in-your-mouth chunks named after an 11th-century poet.

But many Chinese are having to curtail their passion for pork after prices almost doubled in some cities compared with a year ago. Some consumers are now paying a record 10 yuan (60p) per jin (about 1 lb/4.5kg) and there is official concern about possible unrest among an urban population fretting over poor housing, a volatile jobs market, severe congestion and pollution.

China's Communist leadership is particularly sensitive to any issues that are likely to stir popular anger - and the price of food is acutely important to a people who use the words "Have you eaten?" as a greeting. State media said: "The relevant management offices attach great importance to this and have organised experts to investigate the market."

China boasts the world's largest population of hogs, with about 485 million at the end of last year. Most are reared on large farms, but tens of millions are the pride and joy of smallholders who keep one or two animals that live virtually in the family home. They feed on scraps from the table and ensure a windfall when the animal goes to slaughter, often at Chinese new year.

The cause of the rise in prices is much debated. An outbreak of blue ear disease - porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome - a year ago, wiped out more than a million pigs. But the biggest factor driving up prices appears to be the cost of corn for feed. Corn is in short supply because harvests have been diverted to produce ethanol. Corn-based ethanol is used mainly for blending with petrol to reduce quantities of harmful emissions and China has been promoting wider use of biofuel to curb pollution before the Beijing Olympics next year.

An official at the New Hope Group, China's biggest private feed grain producer, in the southwestern province of Sichuan said: "Supply is tight and this is making corn more expensive. We are seeing contradictions between supply and demand."

Perhaps mindful of last year's street protests in Mexico over a shortage of corn-based tortillas, Beijing is urging consumers to be patient. The Price Bureau, which monitors consumer trends, said that it was confident the price of pork would now start to fall slowly, partly because farmers are raising more pigs to take advantage of the higher prices and in part because people eat less pork in the summer.



British government is all talk

BP has abandoned plans to build a "green" power plant in a snub to Alistair Darling on the day that the Trade and Industry Secretary unveiled a new energy strategy aimed at reducing carbon emissions. Just hours after Mr Darling announced his Energy White Paper yesterday, the oil giant halted work on a 1bn-plus carbon capture and storage facility in Scotland, blaming delays in state subsidies.

BP's decision is an embarrassment for the minister, whose White Paper is designed to underline the Government's commitment to take a global lead in cutting greenhouse gases. The oil company, in a joint venture with Scottish & Southern Energy, has spent 30m during the past 18 months preparing to build a gas-fired power plant that would generate electricity and store 90pc of the emissions created in a depleted North Sea oil field. Similar projects are planned by other power companies.

But because the advanced technology makes such plants uneconomic, the Government promised to kick-start two or three facilities with subsidies. BP said yesterday that it had hoped to get a decision on state aid by the end of 2006, but this was pushed back to the end of 2007. But the White Paper indicated that a decision might not come until well into 2008 or beyond. "That's an extension too far," said a BP spokesman. "It would have been difficult to keep the project alive when there is uncertainty about funding. We have already spent a lot of money on the project."



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

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

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


Friday, May 25, 2007


Britain's foreign minister on Tuesday said she expected no discussion of numerical targets for greenhouse gas emissions at a meeting of the leaders of the Group of Eight wealthy nations in Germany next month. British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett was asked by reporters in Tokyo whether she was concerned about a possible gap in climate change policy between the European Union and Japan, ahead of the summit at Heiligendamm in Germany.

"I don't think anyone envisages the idea that there should be some discussion about setting numerical targets at Heiligendamm," she said after a meeting with her counterpart, Foreign Minister Taro Aso. "There has been a misunderstanding of the nature of the discussions that we expect," Beckett said. "What we are both anxious to see is discussions about whether there should be a further international framework and what might be an effective framework," she said, referring to hopes that a new agreement will take the place of the Kyoto protocol, which expires in 2012.

Japan is finalising a proposal for a new global framework to cut greenhouse gas emissions from 2013, and plans to unveil it later this week, Kyodo news agency said on Monday, quoting government officials. But the United States, which did not ratify the Kyoto agreement, has been pushing for a strongly worded statement on climate change to be deleted from a final communique for the June 6-6 summit.



Email from Michael Martin-Smith []

Just a few words in support of Gary Alexander, the recovering Apocaholic; I recently watched a documentary on the mediaeval Black Death plague which is "credited" with having wiped out 25% or more of the population of Eurasia in less than 5 years. In some regions of Europe the toll was even greater, with losses of over 50 %, in a matter of months. I have always been impressed ,since my schooldays, with how little mention this awful event merits in most school history books- and yet it was by far the nearest to "Armageddon" our species has reached in all of recorded history.The reason for this is, I believe, both astonishing and heartening. For, despite all the anguish and horror the Black Death must have caused, both to people en masse and as individuals, we find within barely a generation , "normal service resumed", in the larger perspective, both for good and ill - and even major social and scientific advances, over the ensuing century or two in many respects. I suspect that, on close examination, the Black Death, horrible though it was, could probably have been a midwife to the modern world... The evidence is that whoever or whatever does give us "Armageddon" is going to have their work cut out!

Email from Tim Ball []

Great article in this time of environmental hysteria. My comment is there have been hundreds of doomsayers but not one has been right. The proof is if one was right we wouldn't be here today.


Some excerpts below from a very comprehensive article highlighting the gross ignorance behind this proposal

My apologies for the length of this article, but this has turned into something of a horror story. Only a short while ago, I thought that the power factor issue was most important, then that a vast number of enclosed light fittings (probably hundreds of millions worldwide) cannot be used with CFLs was critical. Now, it turns out that dimmers are a far bigger issue that first imagined. What happens in houses where dimmers are fitted? These must be removed completely, not simply set to maximum and left there. Who's going to pay to have millions of dimmers worldwide removed by electricians? You, the homeowner - that's who.

Power factor is still very important ... while you only pay for the actual energy used (as shown on the packaging), power companies have to provide the full voltage and current (also shown on many packages and/or other literature). The relatively poor power factor increases distribution losses and therefore the cost of getting electricity to your house.

Now, we also have the European Union (EU) singing the same silly song. It was recently announced that the 490 million citizens of the 27 member states will be expected to switch to energy-efficient bulbs after a summit of EU leaders yesterday told the European Commission to "rapidly submit proposals" to that effect. I wonder just how much research was done before this piece of lunacy was announced? None, perhaps?

Nothing in this article is conjecture or CFL bashing (I like CFLs, and use them wherever possible in my home and workshop), merely simple facts that a great many people have overlooked. The reasons are described below (yes, it's mostly technical), and for those who want to know more about power factor, the use of CFLs in existing luminaires, or any of the other factors involved, please read on .....

The current cry to ban the humble incandescent lamp (also known as GS - general service) may not seem like such a bad idea at first glance, but there are a number of issues that have not been addressed (or even thought about, based on what has been heard so far). Incandescent lamps are inefficient, typically over 95% of all energy consumed is converted into heat - not light. By comparison, the CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) has a dramatically higher efficiency, although it falls well short of a full sized (18W or 36W) standard fluorescent tube.

Many people have tried CFLs in any number of locations, but they are not always liked because of their colour rendition (many colours look wrong under all forms of fluorescent lighting), and because they are considered by many to be rather ugly. These dislikes are not necessarily major issues of course, although there are many users who would disagree.

Lighting is actually a very complex topic, and although it seems pretty simple on the surface, there are many factors to consider that proposed legislation will utterly fail to address. Just look at the European RoHS (restriction of hazardous substances) legislation as an example of how wrong things can get when governments become involved in things they don't understand.

This article is not intended to be a complete and final discussion - because lighting is so complex, I am bound to miss things, and I can only rely on the information I can get my hands on. There is undoubtedly a great deal that I won't find. Hopefully though, this article may get a few people thinking of the long term implications of the proposed ban (which is almost completely meaningless in real terms).

As a side issue, although I have (mostly) used the term "efficiency" in this article, this is actually relatively meaningless for lights. The correct term is luminous efficacy, usually expressed in lumens / Watt. While not strictly accurate, comparing the relative efficiency of different light sources does make it easier to comprehend - few people outside of the lighting industry will really have a proper grasp of the concept of luminous efficacy, so I have elected to keep the term "efficiency" in the interests of making the article as easy to understand as possible.

Many people would have seen the story circulating the Net about a woman in Maine (US) who broke a CFL in her daughter's bedroom, and was quoted $2,000 to clean up the mercury. This is what happens when bureaucrats become involved in things they don't understand (like lighting for example). This story is scare-mongering at its lowest. While I have no doubt that the figure is correct, it would be plain stupid to involve bureaucrats in something as trivial as a broken CFL.

Yes, mercury is a potent neurotoxin, but metallic mercury is relatively safe. The real danger comes from the vapour and various salts and compounds (as may easily be created in landfill for example) ... not from 5mg of mercury buried in the carpet. Having said that, I'm not sure I'd be happy letting a small child play on the floor where any fluorescent lamp had been broken. Kids have enough things to cause them damage or injury without adding tiny glass shards and mercury to all the other concerns.

Perhaps governments and CFL manufacturers could provide the necessary cleanup procedures that should be undertaken to ensure that the area is reasonably safe after "contamination". At present, you will find a great many conflicting opinions as how best to clean up after a breakage, but almost no usable information about the possible risk from the mercury itself. For myself, I'd probably not be at all concerned, but my kids are grown up and have their own homes. With small children around, I'd want to know with reasonable certainty that a recommended cleanup process would make the area safe enough for them to play on.....

If the powers that be (wherever in the world they are) are serious, then the obvious answer to working out if there are any genuinely worthwhile benefits to a ban on incandescent lamps is fairly simple. Conduct a trial. Select a small town, and choose 50% of randomly selected dwellings to continue the way they are already, and get the other 50% to use CFLs exclusively. No modifications to light fittings, no changes to anything other than the type of lamps used.

With careful monitoring of both sets for lamp failures, total energy usage (electricity, gas, heating oil, etc.) and overall satisfaction or otherwise, a realistic set of statistics can then be developed to show exactly what the outcome of a wholesale ban would achieve. This is real science, using a controlled test environment to gather information that can be expected to be reasonably representative of the benefits to the area tested and anywhere else that has similar climate. Data may be extrapolated to determine a realistic potential outcome for other localities.

While businesses may be included, many (if not most) will be found to be using conventional tube fluorescent lamps, because of the necessity for good lighting in most areas of business (cinemas, nightclubs and many restaurants being notable exceptions).

Such a trial needs to be run for 1 year, and at the end, people will have real data from real homes in a realistic environment. This is a far cry from the situation at present, where we have a few zealots sprouting figures that either make no sense, are often obviously false, or are simply the same as the (often wrong) figures sprouted by other zealots. I'm getting rather fed up with some of the claims, as they seem to be based entirely on fantasy. One I saw claimed that "Changing one incandescent lamp for a CFL will save 9 pounds in one year, or 100 pounds over the life of the lamp." (or along those lines - I can't find the quote this time around). Based on those figures, the lamp has to last for over 11 years - a fairly unlikely scenario. In common with many such claims, the lamp power wasn't mentioned, what it replaced wasn't mentioned, and no supporting data was mentioned either. In other words, the figures claimed have no substance at all - pure horse-feathers.

One thing I have seen in countless forum sites, blogs and other areas is especially disconcerting. Some people seem to have a completely black and white approach to many things. So much so that Hempel's Paradox (look it up - it's worth it) is applied in full ... i.e. All ravens are black, therefore anything that is not black is not a raven. There are people who have used their own version of this 'logic' with the CFL debate ...

"I have used CFLs in sealed luminaires without failure, (Ravens are black)
therefore all CFLs can be used in all sealed luminaires without failure" (therefore anything not black is not a raven).

What this denies is that anyone's claim or experience that differs from that of the writer is even a possibility. It is instantly wrong, because it doesn't match the (very limited) experience of the person making the claim. Bear in mind that anyone who uses this line of argument has involved no research, no scientific principles, and no experimental data other than the claim itself. Some people using such an approach can be shown that their logic is flawed, but others will never be convinced. Ravens are indeed (usually) black, but non-black ravens probably do exist (but no, I don't actually recall seeing one

Incandescent Lamp Characteristics

Benefits ...

Low purchase price
Simple, low technology manufacturing (minimal energy usage to manufacture)
Excellent power factor (unity)
Easily dimmed with simple and cheap TRIAC dimmers
Pleasant, "human friendly" colour rendition (and colour temperature)
Colour Rendering Index (CRI) of close to 100 (100 is optimal) [6]
No hazardous materials used in manufacture
Can be used at any temperature, freezers and ovens are no problem (~-18øC and ~250øC respectively)
Relatively modest initial (inrush) current when switched on (~10 to 20 times running current)
Recycling (although it would be nice) is not really needed because of small amount of materials used
No electro-magnetic interference problems

Deficiencies ...

Low efficiency, far more heat than light (typically less than 5% efficient)
Relatively short life (typically 500-2,000 hours)
High running cost for a given light output

In may be premature to write off the poor old incandescent lamp anyway. General Electric (GE) is apparently developing an incandescent lamp that matches the efficiency of typical CFLs [4], and no doubt others will follow before too much longer. One site I looked at claimed that it takes about 1kWh to manufacture an incandescent lamp. No further details were given.

The Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) also seems simple from the outside - you can't see what's inside, but there is quite a bit of technology involved. The tube itself contains around 5mg of mercury, mercury vapour (mercury is an extremely potent neurotoxin ), and various phosphors that emit visible light when stimulated by the intense ultraviolet radiation emitted by a mercury arc discharge. There is still some conjecture regarding the toxicity of the phosphors, with various claims and counter-claims. It is generally better to err on the side of caution with any chemical compound, so a designated recycling program is essential before the mandatory use of CFLs becomes a reality. Such a program should be in place now to deal with standard fluorescent lamps, as these also contain the phosphors and the mercury. In Europe, the WEEE Directive (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) has already addressed the issue of recycling, but it has not been mentioned so far for Australia. Interestingly, some CFL manufacturers have even stated that the expected boom in CFL sales will create problems with the mercury (it's true - look it up).

Proponents of the anti-incandescent lamp stance will point out that the reduction in energy usage by using CFLs will prevent far more mercury entering the atmosphere than will be liberated by the (inappropriate) disposal of defunct CFLs. While this may be true at present, there are serious moves afoot to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power stations [2], so the point may be lost to scientific advances before too long. Consider too that mercury from power stations is distributed, not concentrated in landfill.

The CFL is not as efficient as a standard full-size fluorescent lamp, but still manages to achieve quite respectable performance. An efficiency of around 6-10% seems to be indicated, but there are so many factors that influence the apparent efficiency that direct comparisons are difficult.

The technology used in modern CFLs is quite astonishing for a throw-away product. The incoming mains is rectified to obtain DC, and there is some degree of ripple reduction by a filter capacitor. A switchmode inverter is then used to obtain the necessary voltage to strike the arc within the tube, and additional circuitry is included to limit the current to the nominal value needed to produce the required power. All of this must fit into the base of the lamp itself. Dedicated lamp housings are becoming available so that only the tube itself needs to be replaced (at present they seem aimed primarily at commercial applications).

The disadvantage of all this is that the power factor is far worse than an incandescent lamp. You don't pay for the extra current drawn, but the power utility must still provide cabling, transformers and generating plants that can handle the total load current, regardless of the power factor. There is still a significant saving, but this could easily be eroded because of two significant failings of CFL technology as it exists at present.

Readily available CFLs cannot be dimmed effectively with a normal wall-plate dimmer, so must run at full power at all times (some provide a low power setting by switching off and back on quickly). Incandescent lamps are often dimmed to very low power levels for extended periods (while watching TV for example), so their power usage will be perhaps 20% of the rated power, in some cases even less.

CFLs will fail prematurely if switched on and off many times a day. Many people already know this, so may be tempted to leave lights on that would otherwise be switched off, so a household might have 4 or 5 CFLs running for hours at a time, where they may have had only 1 or 2 incandescent lamps switched on (and possibly on dimmers, thus reducing power significantly).

Another area where CFLs cannot be used is at very low or very high temperatures. Most will not start at all at temperatures below -20øC, and a lot will refuse to start (or will have very low light output) at even higher temperatures. Because of the electronics in the base of the lamp, temperatures above around 50øC will shorten their working life considerably. Electronics components have highly accelerated failure rates as temperature goes up from the standard 25øC 'reference' ambient.

Note that premature failure (* above) is very difficult to judge unless the switching is logged. Some makers quote switching cycle data, most don't. Some newer models of CFL use active inrush current limiting, so will not stress switching systems when CFLs are used in large numbers (from the same switch). A standard CFL has the potential for an inrush current of up to around 4 to 5A, since it is limited only by the equivalent series resistance (and to a lesser extent the capacitance) of the filter capacitor, along with any series resistance. Series resistance will usually be kept to a minimum, as it contributes nothing more than heat (and reduces overall efficiency).

A very common question in forum sites is along the lines of "My light fitting says that the maximum lamp power is 60W. Can I use a 20W CFL that has the same light output as a 100W lamp?"

The standard answer given in Q&A sites is an unqualified "yes", however there is one major factor that must be considered but rarely gets a mention. Some CFL packaging states that the lamps must not be used in fully enclosed light fittings, but in reality, no CFL is suitable. The reason is temperature. Because of the electronic circuitry, all CFLs can only be used where they have reasonable ventilation to prevent overheating. Excess heat doesn't bother an incandescent lamp, and temperatures well in excess of 100øC won't cause them any problems at all. Remember that the filament is already operating at around over 2,000øC, so a bit more won't hurt (although wiring insulation and even the lamp socket itself will be damaged eventually). Some sealed light fittings use high temperature wire internally, because they get too hot inside for ordinary PVC insulation - which will fail quite quickly at elevated temperatures.

Because of the electronic circuitry, the maximum ambient temperature for a CFL should remain as low as practicable, with most manufacturers warranting their products to a maximum of 50øC. This has forced a complete re-design for recessed downlights [7], and many other light fittings are completely unsuitable. If the heat from the tube and the electronics cannot escape, the temperature will potentially rise to well over 50øC, and the lamp's life and light output will be badly affected.

There are far too many factors that need to be considered to even try to answer the question here, but as a guide, if the light fitting is completely sealed (or recessed into the ceiling with no way for hot air to escape) then the answer is no. Not simply "no" to the question, but no to the use of any CFL in a completely sealed (or even just poorly ventilated) light fitting.

Many of the sites that offer advice have zero technical expertise, and a lot seem to assume that CFLs emit almost no heat at all. Anyone who has used one knows that this most certainly is not the case.


Save energy, buy a Hummer

People who subscribe to catastrophic global-warming scenarios sometimes buy hybrid vehicles to do their part in saving the planet. As for me, I'd be more likely to buy a Hummer if I thought man-made global warming was a real problem. The reason is simple. Though hybrids have much higher fuel efficiency, their overall energy cost exceeds that of SUVs, including the Hummer. The overall energy cost of the Honda Accord hybrid, for example, is $3.29/mile; for the Hummer H3 it's $1.949/mile.

This interesting statistic comes from CNW Marketing Research Inc., which spent two years collecting data on how much energy it takes to plan, build, use, and dispose of specific vehicle makes and models. CNW's figures on energy use are impressively inclusive. They factor in such details as the distance auto-plant employees drive to work, electricity usage at car dealerships, and literally hundreds of other variables.

The 479-page study is free and well worth digging into. Readers will find, for example, that the fuel a car burns over its lifetime isn't the largest portion of its energy use, just the most visible. Also interesting is that energy consumed during manufacturing makes up only a small part of the total energy cost/mile.

And it's easy to get tripped up calculating energy use. Toyota, for example, says it reduced by 30% the energy it consumes to build vehicles in Japan. But CNW says Toyota's claims ignore the energy demands of its suppliers building full-module components. In some cases, the energy requirements of these suppliers actually exceed those of Toyota had the automaker kept the work in-house.

It also becomes clear why hybrids don't score well on lifetime energy use. The first generation of hybrids is likely to be scrapped earlier than comparable ordinary vehicles, simply because first-generation technology rapidly loses maintenance support. Repairs quickly become a losing proposition.

Hybrid components are also more expensive to make and recycle. H2 Hummers, for instance, have about $800 worth of medium-weight steel, which takes about $200 worth of energy to produce. The steel is easily recycled. The infrastructure to do so has been in place for decades. But the Prius has lightweight steel and steel composites that cost about $585 and take roughly $230 worth of energy to produce. Disposal of this metal is more energy intensive than that in the Hummer though there is less of it.

The complexity of hybrids and their relatively low volumes also works against them when repairing accident damage. A Prius, for example, needs nearly three times more time and twice as many parts costing nearly nine times more than a comparable small car in an identical accident. Complexity also takes a toll during design and development. The energy to design and develop a Prius runs $29,000/vehicle. For a Corolla, it's just $2,600.

All in all, the report points the way for those who truly want to minimize planet-wide energy use. The clear choice is a used original VW Beetle. Its overall energy cost is a mere $0.05/mile.


Hidden costs of corn-based ethanol

Policymakers and legislators often fail to consider the law of unintended consequences. The latest example is their attempt to reduce the United States' dependence on imported oil by shifting a big share of the nation's largest crop -- corn -- to the production of ethanol for fueling automobiles. Good goal, bad policy. In fact, ethanol will do little to reduce the large percentage of our fuel that is imported (more than 60 percent), and the ethanol policy will have ripple effects on other markets.

Corn farmers and ethanol refiners are ecstatic about the ethanol boom and are enjoying the windfall of artificially enhanced demand. But it will be an expensive and dangerous experiment for the rest of us. On Capitol Hill, the Senate is debating legislation that would further expand corn ethanol production. A 2005 law already mandates production of 7.5 billion gallons by 2012, about 5 percent of the projected gasoline use at that time. These biofuel goals are propped up by a generous federal subsidy of 51 cents a gallon for blending ethanol into gasoline and a tariff of 54 cents a gallon on most imported ethanol to help keep out cheap imports from Brazil.

President Bush has set a target of replacing 15 percent of domestic gasoline use with biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel) during the next 10 years, which would require almost a fivefold increase in mandatory biofuel use, to about 35 billion gallons. With current technology, almost all of this biofuel would have to come from corn because there is no feasible alternative. However, achieving the 15 percent goal would require the entire current US corn crop, which represents a whopping 40 percent of the world's corn supply.

This would do more than create mere market distortions; the irresistible pressure to divert corn from food to fuel would create unprecedented turmoil. Thus, it is no surprise that the price of corn has doubled in the past year -- from $2 to $4 a bushel. We are already seeing upward pressure on food prices as the demand for ethanol boosts the demand for corn. Until the recent ethanol boom, more than 60 percent of the annual US corn harvest was fed domestically to cattle, hogs, and chickens or used in food or beverages. Thousands of food items contain corn or corn byproducts.

In Mexico, where corn is a staple food, the price of tortillas has skyrocketed because US corn has been diverted to ethanol production. Any sort of shock to corn yields, such as drought, unseasonably hot weather, pests, or disease could send food prices into the stratosphere. Such concerns are more than theoretical. In 1970, an outbreak of a fungus destroyed 15 percent of the US corn crop.

Politicians like to say that ethanol is environmentally friendly, but these claims must be put into perspective. Although corn is a renewable resource, it has a far lower yield relative to the energy used to produce it than either biodiesel or ethanol from other plants. Moreover, ethanol yields about 30 percent less energy per gallon than gasoline, so mileage drops off significantly. Finally, adding ethanol raises the price of blended fuel because it is more expensive to transport and handle.

Lower-cost biomass ethanol -- for example, from rice straw (a byproduct of harvesting rice) or switch grass -- would make far more economic sense, but large volumes of ethanol from biomass will not be commercially viable for many years. (And production will be delayed by government policies that subsidize corn-based ethanol.)

American legislators and policy-makers seem oblivious to the scientific and economic realities of ethanol production. Brazil and other major sugar cane-producing nations enjoy significant advantages over the US in producing ethanol, including ample agricultural land, warm climates amenable to vast plantations, and on-site distilleries that can process cane immediately after harvest.

Thus, in the absence of cost-effective, domestically available sources for producing ethanol, rather than using corn, it would make far more sense to import ethanol from Brazil and other countries [such as good old reliable Australia] that can produce it efficiently. American politicians may be thrilled with the prospect of corn-derived ethanol, but if they don't adopt policies based on science and sound economics, consumers around the world may suffer.



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

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

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


Thursday, May 24, 2007


Comment from Canada

A few weeks ago in a column I wrote about David Suzuki's rudeness and hypocrisy I admitted that similar to that green guru, I too love this planet and try to have as small a negative environmental impact as possible but unlike him, I don't believe that human-made CO2 is the main driver of global warming. I received hundreds of e-mails -- most recounting often hilarious stories of run-ins people had with Suzuki, finding out for themselves that his TV persona is a lot friendlier than his off-camera one.

But it was an e-mail from a fella named Gerald in the Niagara region, that indicates just how good a job the man-made global warming believers have been at selling their message. "If humans are not the cause of global warming ... who is?" Gerald wrote. My response was: "Gee, Gerald. Can you really not think of anything? Nothing at all?" Then I suggested he find the nearest child and ask them what makes the earth warm. The next day I got a reply. "Do you mean the sun?" he queried, in all sincerity. "Yes, Gerald. That big, burning yellow ball up in the sky is, not surprisingly, the main driver of global warming."

Yesterday, world renowned paleoclimatologist and geology professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Dr. Tim Patterson, was in Calgary to pass that basic message on. Though his message was rather technical. He brought reams of proof, scientific studies, graphs and the like to back up his claims. Indeed, one of the more interesting, if not alarming statements Patterson made before the Friends of Science luncheon is satellite data shows that by about the year 2020 the next solar cycle is going to be solar cycle 25 -- the weakest one since the Little Ice Age (that started in the 13th century and ended around 1860) a time when people living in London, England, used to walk on a frozen Thames River and food was scarcer.

"This should be a great strategic concern in Canada because nobody is farming north of us." In other words, Canada -- the great bread basket of the world -- just might not be able to grow grains in much of the prairies. After the Little Ice Age, "things warmed up precipitously with no help from carbon dioxide," pointed out Patterson, in a telephone interview.

Indeed, the world warmed up until about 1940 and then the temperatures started to fall until the late 1970s when scientists started predicting another ice age. "Post World War II, as the world started cooling, CO2 was going up like crazy. All the evidence shows that warming periods were all solar driven and that there is no correlation between CO2 and temperature."

But solar flaring on its own, says Patterson, does not account for most of the warming -- which is an increase of 0.8C since the end of the Little Ice Age. It's only when its coupled with evidence about galactic cosmic rays, do all the historic warming (and cooling) pieces fit together. Cosmic rays -- caused by the explosion of supernovas -- constantly bombard the Earth. The more cosmic rays, the more cloud cover and the cooler the earth. However, when the sun is flaring -- as it is now -- it essentially blows away the cosmic rays and the earth warms. That, however, is expected to come to an end in 2020.

As the saying goes, by then all of the billions of dollars wasted battling CO2 emissions, rather than pollutants, for instance, will be money pumped down the CO2 sink hole. In 2020 hindsight on the great global warming scare will be 20/20. It won't be a pretty picture.


Bad Climate "Science"

The ideology goes in before the science goes on

Assume that human greenhouse-gas emissions are causing dangerous changes in the Earth's climate. What should we do about it? Public debate on climate change has focused almost solely on requiring large reductions in fossil-fuel energy consumption. Enter the journal Nature with a new feature article on another potential means of dealing with climate change.

Dubbed geoengineering, it involves purposely "engineering" the planet's climate in ways intended to offset warming from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Although Nature's discussion of the various possibilities is fascinating on its own, the article is more interesting for its implicit insights into climate scientists' blinkered view of how to deal with greenhouse risks.

One geoengineering possibility involves injecting sunlight-reflecting sulfate particles into the stratosphere, intended to mimic what large volcanic eruptions already do every once in a while. In a more science-fiction-like vain, another proposal would place numerous small "sunshades" in orbit to prevent a small amount of sunlight from reaching the Earth's surface. For many climate scientists, however, the goal of studying geoengineering isn't to determine whether any particular proposal is practical or safe, but "to show, with authority, that all such paths are dead-end streets," and that the focus needs to be on requiring large reductions in people's fossil-fuel energy consumption.

Much of the climate community still views [geoengineering] with deep suspicion or outright hostility. Geoengineering, many say, is a way to feed society's addiction to fossil fuels. `It's like a junkie figuring out new ways of stealing from his children,' says Meinrat Andreae, an atmospheric scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany.

In fact, as Nature reports, Andreae urged Nobel Prize-winning scientist Paul Crutzen not to publish a recent article on climate geoengineering, fearing it would distract policymakers from what Andreae sees as the urgent need to cut fossil fuel use. Every scientist who expressed an opinion in the article thinks reducing fossil fuel use is the policy of choice for mitigating human-caused greenhouse warming.

What is so striking is how these scientists, who rightly highlight the need for careful scientific analysis in characterizing the climate effects of GHG emissions, unwittingly forsake science when thinking about how to mitigate climate change. Instead, they jump right from "burning fossil fuels causes dangerous climate change" to "therefore the best way to stop climate change is reducing fossil fuel use."

The question of what the world's people will have to give up if they drastically reduce their use of fossil-fuel energy remains unasked. Indeed, none of the scientists profiled in the Nature article show any awareness that the relatively inexpensive and abundant energy from fossil fuels could be anything but harmful to humankind. This myopia appears again and again:

no one thinks that, in the short term, a world cooled by engineering would be preferable to one cooled by a reduction in carbon dioxide levels. And no one thinks that, as yet, we know enough to embark on any sort of large-scale engineering. Models of geoengineering's benefits need to be a lot more accurate than models of the harm that will be done in its absence. As [climate scientist Ken] Caldeira puts it, if you can be no more precise about the chances of harm under the status quo than to give them as 50%, that's still something to worry about. But if a proposed intervention has a 50-50 chance of doing good or harm, that's something to avoid.

In other words, we should worry about the risks of climate change; we should worry about the risks of geoengineering; and we should apply our most meticulous and careful scientific thought to characterizing these risks. But we should not consider - indeed we should remain utterly unaware of - the risks of forcing wealthier people to stop using, and preventing poorer people from starting to use, the fossil-fuel energy that played a leading and essential role in the vast improvements in human health, prosperity, and life expectancy during the last hundred years.

When it comes to thinking about mitigating climate change, scientists such as Andreae, Caldeira, and many others are checking their scientific faculties at the door and unwittingly smuggling in their ideological policy preferences under the guise of dispassionate scientific analysis and authority.

To the extent that human greenhouse-gas emissions are causing dangerous changes in the Earth's climate, the best ways to mitigate those changes can only be determined by the same relentless application of science as we demand for the understanding of climate change itself. That means transparently defining measures of human welfare - the values side of the policy equation - and then carefully assessing not only the risks to human welfare of burning fossil fuels but also the benefits - as well the risks and benefits of geoengineering and of restricting people's access to fossil-fuel energy.

Even taking it as given that greenhouse-gas emissions are altering the climate in potentially dangerous ways, still, we must ask whether there are negative health and mortality effects from higher energy prices; whether restrictions on fossil-fuel energy would make us poorer; and whether a poorer-but-cooler world is better for humankind than a richer-but-warmer world. Likewise, could some geoengineering technique mitigate human-caused climate change without the need to give up the benefits of fossil-fuel energy; or buy us a few more decades to find new ways to produce abundant energy as or more cheaply, but without undesirable climate changes? Most climate scientists jump over these questions or assume the answer without any apparent awareness that they've failed to subject their preferences to scientific scrutiny.

This blind spot for the human-welfare effects of climate-mitigation policies also shows up in assessing the risks of geoengineering. Scientists rightly note that geoengineering could itself have unintended and undesirable spinoff effects. For example, the Nature article highlights work by Alan Robock of Rutgers, which concluded that sulfate from the 1783 Laki volcanic eruption in Iceland weakened the Indian monsoon and also reduced rainfall in Africa's Sahel. Nature goes on to note:

it is easily argued that betting the monsoon on the ability of [climate] models to accurately capture such subtleties [i.e., geoengineering's potential for unintended consequences] would require a foolhardy level of trust, a remarkable lack of concern for hundreds of millions of livelihoods or a startling desperation in the face of the alternative.

What is astonishing is climate scientists' obliviousness that the exact same concerns apply to policies to ration, tax or otherwise restrict access to fossil-fuel energy.

What accounts for scientists' policy blinkers? It's hard to know for sure, since we're talking about what goes on inside people's heads. I suspect part of the answer lies in an implicit assumption, even by many scientists, that alternatives to fossil-fuel energy are just as cheap and convenient, but that dark corporate and government forces have prevented them from being disseminated. Never mind the countervailing evidence such as the fact that decades of $5 and $6 per gallon gasoline in Europe has failed to create economically viable alternatives to gasoline- or diesel-powered automobiles.

Another potential contributor is a wooly-minded romantic environmentalism that seems to have infected scientists as much as anyone else. This also comes through in Nature's profile:

Hans Feichter, a climate modeller at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, speaks for the vast majority of his colleagues when he says `the role of a geoscientist is to understand nature, not to change it.' Climate scientists have proved themselves happy to advocate massive changes aimed at shifting the climate. But they are massive changes in technology, in geopolitics, in social norms...Not changes in the workings of the stratosphere. Not changes in the natural.

Where does one start in unwinding all the fallacious assumptions implicit in this confused line of thinking? Why should the goal of climate policy be to make the world more "natural"? And why should anyone think "natural" is better than "artificial"? Why is it okay to force "massive changes" in how people live their lives without even a nod to the possibility that this could cause "massive" harm of its own?

In fact, it is exactly because we have made our environment less "natural" that we have improved the lot of humankind. "Natural" means horrifying percentages of our children dying of infectious diseases and mothers dying in childbirth; lifespans of only 30 or 40 years for those who survive these earlier tribulations - years lived in backbreaking toil merely to avoid starvation; and constant nagging pain from injuries and infections.

Climate scientists' ignorance of the factors that contribute to long, safe, healthy, and prosperous lives for the world's people is what makes them so dangerous in the debate over what to do about climate change. Their scientific credentials give them great authority on the world policy stage. Yet like the boyfriend who is in fact "high maintenance" while unwittingly believing himself to be "low maintenance," climate scientists believe their policy recommendations to be based on science, rather than on unexamined prejudices that are yet to be subjected to scientific scrutiny. Only at our peril do we continue to dance to their tune.



The European Commission is upholding its system of billions-worth of state subsidies for coal mining. In a report on the subsidies for the sector, the Brussels authority on Monday concluded that there is "no need for changes". The environmental protection organization Greenpeace criticized the commission for failing to wind down coal production. If Europe is serious about climate protection, tax payers money should be plugged into technologies for renewable energies instead of subsidising dirty coal, Greenpeace demanded. In 2005, the EU provided some 4.1 billion euro in state aid to eight European Union countries, corresponding to 11 million euro per day....



German scientists re-examining projected melting of Arctic permafrost from global warming say massive releases of methane are unlikely this century. Scientists say as the Earth's climate warms, permafrost will continue melting and methane bound in frozen sediments could escape into the atmosphere. Because methane is a greenhouse gas, that would exacerbate global warming.

One permafrost model, presented in late 2005, indicated near-surface Arctic permafrost would completely degrade during the 21st century. But Georg Delisle and colleagues at the Federal Institution for Geosciences and Natural Resources in Hanover offer an alternative model designed to have a more complete mathematical formulation of the physical processes in permafrost.

The German researchers note that ice-core analyses previously made by other scientists indicate minimal release of methane during warm periods occurring during the last 9,000 years. Based on the new model and the ice-core findings, Delisle concluded that scenarios calling for massive releases of methane in the near future from degrading permafrost are questionable. The research is detailed in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.



In Ponder the Maunder we find a 15-year-old High School student speaking more sense about global warming than you will read in most newspapers.

In Apocaholics Anonymous you will find an amusing catalogue of all the prophecies of doom that have got major media attention in the last 50 years or thereabouts. There were an amazing number of such false prophecies.


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

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

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


Wednesday, May 23, 2007


If you're the type of person who sets aside money today for the university education of your great-great-great grandchildren, even if it means that you may not be able to afford university tuition for your own children, you may think it sensible for society to invest now in major measures to stop global warming. If you're not this type -- and who in his right mind is -- you should forget about Kyoto-like greenhouse-gas reduction targets and the crash programs that would be required to meet them. Doing so would not only be economically prudent, it would be -- by almost any measure -- the ethical thing to do.

So argues celebrated economist William Nordhaus, author of pathbreaking books and studies on global warming, and generally considered the most authoritative economist in the climate change field. His verdict on global warming alarmism, as exemplified by the UK's Stern review, which demanded drastic measures now to avert climate change calamity later: "Completely absurd."

The Stern review, released last year to banner headlines, argues that the cost of inaction greatly exceeds the cost of action. It has been much criticized for its selective use of data -- Sir Nicholas Stern piles one worst-case scenario upon another to arrive at his fantastical costs, and Dr. Nordhaus is among those who note this failing.

In fact, Sir Nicholas uses Nordhaus as a source for global-warming costs that could present themselves well after the year 2100, although Nordhaus characterized that data as particularly unreliable. But a series of unreliable, worst-case scenarios centuries off, by themselves, still would not warrant the extreme greenhouse gas prevention investments that the Stern review recommends.

To make an economic case for immediate action, Sir Nicholas adjusted his model to have us paying now for potential damage that could be happening hundreds of years from now. Sir Nicholas estimates the potential costs of climate change to be so great as to force on us a "20% cut in per-capita consumption, now and forever." Yet his data showed low damages from climate change in the next two centuries.

To overcome his data, he applied to his model what economists call a "near-zero social discount rate." Doing so brings forward future expenses -- in the Stern review's case, expenses that might occur in the 23rd and 24th centuries. The Stern review then presents us with a tab that includes these far-out costs, and the invoice is eye-popping indeed.

But the Stern review approach defies logic, as Dr. Nordhaus illustrates by demonstrating just where zero social-discount-rate thinking leads. "Suppose that scientists discover that a wrinkle in the climatic system will cause damages equal to 0.01% of output starting in 2200 and continuing at that rate thereafter," he explains. "How large a onetime investment would be justified today to remove the wrinkle starting after two centuries? The answer is that a payment of 15% of world consumption today (approximately US$7-trillion) would pass the review's costbenefit test. This seems completely absurd.

The bizarre result arises because the value of the future consumption stream is so high with near-zero discounting that we would trade off a large fraction of today's income to increase a far-future income stream by a very tiny fraction." Moreover, who should be asked to forgo that consumption? It hardly seems fair to keep back poor countries, yet, if paid by the rich countries alone, the decline would far exceed that of the Great Depression.

Some climate-change alarmists argue that we should invest in combating climate change now as an insurance policy against the risk of future damage. Sounds prudent, until you consider the premium to be paid. "Suppose that we suddenly learn that there is a 10% probability of the wrinkle in the climatic system that reduces the post- 2200 income stream by 0.01%," Dr. Nordhaus explains, again to illustrate the Stern review's logic. "What insurance premium would be justified today to reduce that probability to zero? With conventional discount rates, we would probably ignore any tiny wrinkle two or three centuries ahead. If we did a careful calculation using conventional discount rates, we would calculate a break-even 0.0002% insurance premium to remove the year 2200 contingency, and a 0.0000003% premium for the year-2400 contingency. Moreover, these dollar premiums are small whether the probability is large or small. "With the review's near-zero discount rate, offsetting the low-probability wrinkle would be worth an insurance premium today of almost 2% of current income, or $1-trillion. We would pay almost the same amount if that threshold were to be crossed in 2400 rather than in 2200."

Dr. Nordhaus's conclusion about such scares: "We are in effect forced to make current decisions about highly uncertain events in the distant future, even though these estimates are highly speculative and are almost sure to be refined over the coming decades." Dr. Nordhaus discounts climate-change alarmism, but not climate change itself. He advocates research to better understand its consequences and to develop more efficient technologies. He advocates the elimination of subsidies that artificially increase greenhouse- gas emissions, and other "no-regrets" measures that would benefit the environment without harming the economy. The costs of climate change are real, he believes, and society should act. But not overreact



Across Britain, cities are plunged into darkness. In London, the Underground grinds to a halt, leaving panicked commuters stranded in oppressively hot carriages. In office blocks, lifts stop operating and the air-conditioning shuts down. Employees swelter in stifling conditions. This is not the postapocalyptic vision of some film-maker, but a realistic scenario as Britain grapples with a looming energy crisis.

The statistics are frightening. In only eight years, demand for energy could outstrip supply by 23% at peak times, according to a study by the consultant Logica CMG. The loss to the economy could be 108 billion each year."The idea of the lights going out is not a fantasy. People seem to accept that security of energy supply is a right. It is not. The industry will have to work hard to maintain supply and for that we need a clear framework," said Simon Skillings, director of strategy and energy policy at Eon UK, Britain's largest integrated energy company.

This Wednesday, the government's delayed energy white paper will attempt to provide some answers. It is a crucial document that will determine whether Britain can deliver on its pledge to slash carbon emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020. The white paper will seek to tackle a host of tough issues -- from nuclear power to energy efficiency, renewable power sources and clean-fuel projects. A planning white paper, due tomorrow, is also seen as crucial after a number of energy projects have been delayed for years or slapped down by local authorities.

The scale of the challenge is immense. By 2015, Britain's generating capacity could be cut by a third as ageing coal and nuclear power stations are closed. Britain is also moving from being self-sufficient in oil and gas as North Sea production declines. In 2005, the UK became a net importer of gas. By 2010, imports could account for 40% of British gas needs; by 2020, 80% to 90%.

The most contentious area is likely to be nuclear power. Nuclear reactors account for about 20% of Britain's electricity, but this will shrink to 6% in 20 years as ageing plants are closed down. By 2023, only Sizewell B could be in operation. Already controversial, the government's commitment to building new nuclear power stations became even more sensitive when the High Court agreed with the environmental lobby group Greenpeace that the consultation process was"seriously flawed".

The white paper is expected to give guidance on how the government would like to see new reactors built, but will have to stress that any decision will depend on a new, more detailed, consultation round. What the energy industry wants is clarity. Even so, energy companies, including RWE, Eon, Suez, EDF, General Electric and Westinghouse, have already held talks with British Energy about using the sites of its eight nuclear power stations to build new reactors.

Combining the need to secure Britain's energy supply and reduce carbon emissions will require 55 billion in investment in the next few decades, according to Logica CMG. Exactly where the money will be spent hangs in the balance. One of the big issues is how the government plans to encourage operators to build cleaner but more expensive power stations.

To make the economics work, much will depend on the price of carbon and the credits power operators need to buy if they overshoot emissions targets. This falls under the EU emissions-trading scheme. If the EU cracks down and imposes higher penalties on"dirty" power producers, the price of carbon would in theory be pushed up. Centrica believes that carbon prices would need to double from the current, 19 euros per tonne to make a1 billion clean-coal project it is considering in Teesside economically viable."If the UK is to hit tough targets on reducing CO2 emissions, it is vital that the structure of the EU emissions-trading scheme is optimised to encourage the building of really low-emitting power generation stations," said Jake Ulrich, managing director of Centrica Energy.

Another key area is carbon capture; this involves trapping carbon-dioxide emissions from coal or gas-fired stations and storing them underground, probably in old North Sea oil reservoirs. Schemes include Centrica's Teesside proposal while BP is considering building a 500m power station in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, in partnership with Scottish & Southern Electricity. However, power-industry executives claim that each project would need several hundreds of millions of pounds in government support -- far higher than the Treasury's financing plans.

Meanwhile, the government is under pressure to encourage desperately needed new gas-storage facilities. The UK has storage capacity to cover only two weeks of gas needs against two to three months for France and Germany. New objectives for renewable energy are also expected. The renewables obligation, where suppliers are bound to source a rising percentage of electricity supply from renewable sources, will be refocused to give more support to costlier offshore wind farms and biomass projects used to co-fire coal-powered stations.

Britain is already struggling to meet its ambitious target of supplying 10% of electricity needs from renewables by 2010 and 15% by 2015. Today's figure is about 2%."The goals are very ambitious and we are currently behind the curve. Investment would have to be accelerated very substantially to have any chance of meeting those targets," said Jayesh Parmar of Ernst & Young.

Those targets are likely to get even tougher. In a little-noticed detail, the EU agreed in March to make it compulsory for 20% of all energy used to come from renewable sources by 2020. As for the British consumer, the white paper will underline the need for smart meters, which measure exact energy use and cost, to be installed in people's homes. There is also support for microgeneration projects -- small-scale wind turbines, solar panels and gas devices to create electricity. However, the sums are tiny -- "12m pounds in grants is up for grabs this month from the Department of Trade and Industry, in addition to6.8m already paid out.

The big question is whether the UK can act fast enough to tackle the looming crisis. Even if the government's nuclear plans remain intact, it could be at least 10 years before the first new nuclear station is ready. A typical coal or gas-fired project could take between three and five years to construct.



A load of coal is about to hit the green fan. Earlier this month we attended a conference on coal-fired electric power. A titanic collision is in progress, albeit unseen so far. An iceberg ahead in the night. The ship unable to swerve. Here's the deal. US peak power use increases pretty steadily about 20,000 MW a year. It has for 40 years, an incredible straight line in a world of economic wiggles. We handle this growth with spurts of power plant construction. The last spurt was around 2000 and we quietly built about 150,000 MW, all natural gas-fired because gas was cheap and green. That is roughly 150 large power plants.

Now gas is prohibitively expensive, we are once again running out of power, and coal is the only large scale option. So the industry is gearing up to build a huge new fleet of coal fired power plants. They will do so for there is no option. You can't make electricity out of political rhetoric, would that you could. What this cold shot of reality will do to the great green political movement presently underway remains to be seen. It will not be a pretty picture. Enjoy the show.


A revealing analogy in the New York Times

Post lifted from American Thinker. See the original for links

re: Jerome J. Schmitt's "Mindless reporting in the NYT Magazine" of May 19, 2007. Mr. Schmitt points out that "climate modeling is a premier example of the thermodynamics of open systems", in the first paragraph of the article, bravo! But he misses an astonishing quote down in the eighth paragraph....

"...James Hansen, the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (and one of Gore's own gurus), who wrote, in The New York Review of Books, "Al Gore may have done for global warming what `Silent Spring' did for pesticides."

Man, I couldn't even tell you where to START with THAT admission. Let's see, Carson's "S/S" pretty much killed off the worldwide use of DDT bringing malaria back from the brink of extinction to once again thrive and kill people by the millions instead of by the hundreds, and it was all based on a pack of lies.

Well, I'd say that Gore's book hasn't YET done "for" humanity what Carson's book has, but it could if we aren't careful!

Biodiversity good for mental health

The findings below are entirely to be expected, given our evolutionary origins, but it is interesting that the effects can be obtained from an artificial environment like a park. Pristine wilderness is not necessary

Biodiversity, an area's richness in different species, is good for more than just the environment, researchers have found: it benefits us psychologically, at least in city parks and green spaces. For the world's burgeoning city populations, "public urban greenspaces provide one of the few avenues for direct contact with the natural environment," the researchers noted in a paper describing the study. "Such contact has measurable physical and psychological benefits."

A wide diversity of organisms is good for more than just the creatures themselves, research finds. (Image courtesy City of Vernonia, Oregon) For instance, a 1984 study by Roger Ulrich at Texas A&M University found that hospital patients recovered faster if their hospital room windows overlooked trees rather than brick walls. The new study shows that benefits of this sort "increase with the species richness of urban greenspaces," wrote the authors, Richard Fuller and colleagues at the University of Sheffield, U.K.

The findings appeared online May 15 in the research journal Biology Letters. Fuller's team studied 15 urban parks and green spaces throughout the U.K., analyzing their biodiversity levels and questioning visitors. The visitors were given questionnaires asking whether coming there helped them clear their minds, gain perspective on life, think easily about personal matters or feel connected to nature. Visitors not only felt better in more biodiverse places: they could roughly accurately gauge the level of biodiversity, at least in terms of easily visible speciesbirds, butterflies and plants, the scientists found.

The findings are important since about half of the world's people now live in cities, increasingly isolated from nature and its benefits, Fuller and colleagues wrote. The results "indicate that successful management of urban greenspaces should emphasize biological complexity to enhance human wellbeing in addition to biodiversity conservation," they concluded.



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

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

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


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Incredible Greenie intrusiveness in Britain

Ministers want a slop bucket for food waste to be placed in every kitchen under their latest plan to generate green electricity. Instead of throwing out scraps, households would be required to store them separately for at least a week until they are collected by recycling teams. The rules will oblige some homes to sort rubbish into five containers - or potentially risk fines. Some councils already insist on separating glass, metal, paper and nonrecyclable refuse.

David Miliband, the environment secretary, is expected to unveil the scheme this week as part of the government's waste strategy. Food accounts for about a fifth of domestic waste and releases greenhouse gases when dumped in landfill. Now local authorities are set to be given the power to introduce schemes whereby methane generated by decomposing food will instead be trapped and used to generate electricity.

The proposal is part of a wider shake-up of Britain's waste collection. The government also plans to give councils the power to introduce "pay per throw" charges, levied according to the weight of rubbish. Households would not be charged for recycled waste. During the recent council elections there was a backlash in some areas against the scrapping of weekly collections. Fortnightly collections were blamed for causing infestations of vermin.

However, advocates of recycled kitchen waste insist that sealed containers will provide a hygienic solution. The idea was inspired by the government's waste body, Wrap, which found that homes across Britain waste a total of 3.3m tons of food a year. He is also likely to outline a plan for giant incinerators to burn more than 20% of rubbish that cannot be recycled. This too would be used to generate energy.


Yet another source of oil that Greenies oppose

You can't drill for it and you can't dig for it

The world's largest untapped oil reserves - in northern Canada - have become the new front line in the battle between environmentalists and the energy industry. Shell, a self-styled "green" energy company, is to invest billions of pounds in exploiting the Athabasca tar sands. Environmentalists say the tar sands are the world's dirtiest oil deposits and that refining them generates three to four times more CO2 than normal oil extraction.

However, Clive Mather, chief executive of Shell Canada, said rising demand and surging oil prices could not be resisted. "The deposits are huge, potentially even greater than in Saudi Arabia," he said. "The time is right to exploit them." The Athabasca tar sands are named after the river that runs through them. They contain about 1.7 trillion barrels of oil, of which 175 billion can be reached with existing technologies and another 135 billion could be tapped with technologies under development. The total of 310 billion barrels would give Canada the world's largest oil reserves - bigger than Saudi Arabia's 264 billion.

For western countries, especially America, Canada's oil is a chance to cut dependence on the Middle East, but the environmental costs could be huge. This is because tar sands comprise viscous bitumen and sand, a mixture that can currently only be extracted by digging it out, destroying the overlying forests. The Athabasca region has already been scarred with huge pits, some hundreds of feet deep. Alongside them lie vast ponds that hold the contaminated sands and other residues left after the oil is removed.

Shell, along with Suncor and Syncrude, the other main oil companies in the area, are developing a second extraction method where superheated steam is pumped into the ground to melt the oil so that it can be sucked out as a liquid. However, both processes, and the subsequent refining, require huge amounts of energy - equivalent to up to 30% of the energy contained in the extracted oil. Shell and its partners are extracting about 150,000 barrels of oil a day but now want a fivefold expansion to 770,000 barrels. A barrel is roughly equivalent to 35 gallons. Suncor and Syncrude are each planning similar expansions to about 500,000 barrels a day. This will require so much energy that the oil firms want to lay a pipeline across 800 miles of forest to tap into gas reserves in the Mackenzie river basin, in Canada's far north. There are also proposals to build a nuclear power station near the tar sands.

Such plans are causing alarm among environmental groups such as Britain's WWF. It has set up an office in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, to campaign for restraints on development and improved monitoring. "Tar sands are the worst kind of source for oil," said James Leaton, WWF's policy adviser on gas and oil. "Extracting oil takes huge amounts of energy and devastates the local environment by destroying the forest and polluting rivers, lakes and the air."

Leaton and other environmentalists contrast Shell's operations in Canada with the firm's public relations, which portray it as the greenest of oil companies. Privately, however, Shell executives make clear that they are simply doing what oil companies are meant to do - extract oil. They say it is the job of governments to regulate the pace.

In Alberta little interference is likely from a state government with a powerful dislike of regulation. Rob Renner, Alberta's Conservative environment minister, said: "We believe the speed of development is best left to the free market." Under Renner the monitoring of industrial pollutants from the tar sands has largely been handed over to the oil companies. One result is that the Athabasca river, and Lake Athabasca, into which it flows, are widely believed to be heavily polluted. Medical staff at Fort Chipewyan, on the shores of the lake, have reported a surge in rare cancers.

The decision to exploit such oils is provoking a political backlash with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, effectively banning them. He has issued a fuel standard demanding a cut in "carbon intensity", a measure of the CO2 generated in producing and using them. Ten other American states and the European Commission are considering similar measures.


Come, friendly bombs, fall on Brown's eco-towns

With his plans to erect zero-carbon homes in zero-car suburbs, Britain's Gordon Brown builds on the Blairites' small-minded approach to housing

Britain's prime-minister-in-waiting, Gordon Brown, has announced that one of his first big initiatives will be to build `eco-towns' - that is, areas with new houses that emit little or no carbon, where there is little need for people to drive cars, and where the most a home-owner aspires to is to watch his electricity meter to ensure he isn't using up too much of the nation's energy. For all his claims to be bringing something `new' to Britain, Brown's small-scale and small-minded attitude to housing seems entirely in keeping with his predecessor's.

In the closing months of the Blair decade, Haringey Council in north London pushed through a remarkable innovation in housing policy. It wanted to check which residents were failing to claim grants to buy fuel. It also wanted to check which homes in Haringey lie empty. First and foremost, however, it wanted to indict all the local homes it deemed wasteful of energy. So the Council hired a plane, equipped it with a thermal imaging camera, and posted colour-coded street maps of the offending energy wasters on the web (1).

In terms of the direct intrusion of the government on the British house, the Blair decade has been remarkable. A recent pamphlet by the Centre for Policy Studies, a Thatcherite think-tank, could point to no fewer than 266 ways in which the state is able to enter people's homes (2). Indeed, Labour government minister Ruth Kelly's Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG), successor to John Prescott's Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (1997-2006), plans further controls. If parliament agrees, all houses in England and Wales will only ever get sold once the state rates them for their carbon emissions - from a disgusting `not environmentally friendly', rating 1 to 20, to a mystical `very environmentally friendly', rating 82 to 100 (3).

Just what physical units these ratings consist of, the new Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) do not say. At the end of the Blair years, the CLG invokes the 2006 Stern report on climate change, which was commissioned by Gordon Brown, whenever it can; yet when some more basic science is required, Ruth Kelly's empire is silent.

Still, in a striking, therapeutic reversal of the Roman, adult commandment caveat emptor, Blair's infantilising doctrine of consumer protection has come to housing. Anyone out to sell a house in England and Wales will have to pay the state upwards of 600 pounds, just so buyers can receive mandatory Home Information Packs (HIPs), each containing an EPC, the title deeds and details of local searches.

In an Orwellian 2007, the government wants at least 7,500 Home Inspectors to knock on millions of British doors. The country now needs to build no fewer than five million new homes in the next decade (4). Instead, Haringey's spy-in-the-sky and the CLG's HIP approaches to housing confirm that displacement activities have triumphed in the Blair years.....

New Labour puts houses out of reach, but in your face

As Brown was forced to concede in statements over the weekend, Blair has left Britain with a crisis not just of housing supply, but also of affordability. The price of an average house in the UK has risen from œ77,531 in 1997 to a likely œ200,000 in 2008 (6). According to the Halifax, residential property is too expensive for people to buy in 70 per cent of British towns.

Along with first-time buyers, public sector workers - above all, nurses and firefighters - face the greatest difficulties in affording a home. Yet it is on public sector workers that much of the British economy, especially in the north of England and the devolved regions, now depends. As for those public sector workers who are searching the south of England, in vain, for property cheap enough to suit their pockets, things are now so bad that the conservative Financial Times recently came out in favour of paying such ill-starred individuals higher wages. The FT ridiculed Blair's schemes of houses built for `key workers', noting: `Those who are not eligible - young or low-paid workers in the private sector, academics, or the many key workers who cannot get into one of the subsidised schemes - are left with fewer, more expensive properties to buy, while existing homeowners prosper as the subsidies drive up prices.' (7)

Existing homeowners - the middle classes - have indeed prospered from Blair's divisive housing policies; indeed that was always a deliberate strategy on his part. Similarly, there have been only incremental annual increases in the building of new dwellings. In 1997/8, just 180,566 new homes were built in Great Britain, only for the total to go almost straight down until 2001/2. By 2005/6, the pick-up was to just 196,307. That amounted to a rise in housing output of less than nine per cent over eight years (8).

New Labour and the propertied classes conspire with rural romantics, environmentalist reaction, narcissistic architects and authoritarian planners to make new homes harder and harder to build. Despite the standardised houses made by Georgians, Victorians and inter-war builders of semi-detached suburban properties, there are no plans to emulate the Toyota Motor Company and manufacture light, airy, personalised, œ100,000 homes that are ready to receive roofs in the space of six hours (12). Instead, a homeopathic approach dominates: the more house numbers are diluted within a solution of sustainable communities and `place making', the more effective housing policy is deemed to be (13)....

It was the architect Richard Rogers who, made official adviser to John Prescott early on in Blair's premiership, first suggested that nearness makes for neighbourliness (18). Nine years after Prescott put Rogers in charge of the Urban Task Force, this inane idea continues to dominate the New Labour imagination. The urge to make housing and cities `compact' has become so deep-seated that housing minister Yvette Cooper has been forced to blame local authorities for exceeding central government's already excessive targets for the percentage of houses built on brownfield sites (19).

Zero carbon, maximum regulation

In the old days, the Prescott doctrine of `sustainable communities' was mainly a pretentious protest against sprawl, the suburbs, the working class and all that. Yet as environmentalist opinion has grown more strident, so the nuances of housing sustainababble have changed. Government continues to plead for place-making and better home design; but the dogma that British homes must save the planet trumps everything.

Over his final winter, Blair saw the CLG embark on a series of `consultations' with interested parties. By March 2007, one of the weirdest of such exercises had closed, marked by the publication, over 90 pages, of Planning Policy Statement: Planning and Climate Change - Supplement to Planning Policy Statement 1 (20). It is worth getting a flavour of the CLG's housing Newspeak at the end of a decade of Blairite managerialism. In paragraph 1.14 of the consultation document, under the heading `Transitional Arrangements', we read the following:

`The need to take steps to mitigate and adapt to climate change is not a new requirement. RPBs and LPAs should already be taking steps to ensure that development plans contribute to global sustainability by addressing the causes and potential impacts of climate change. RPBs and LPAs may, however, come under pressure or themselves consider it necessary to halt plan-making so as to allow time to absorb the full implications of the policies in Planning and Climate Change, in its draft form as well as when finalised. The Department considers that such pressure should normally be resisted, but anticipates that RPBs will consider whether the content of emerging revisions of RSS, and LPAs similarly for DPDs, is consistent with the Key Planning Objectives set out in Planning and Climate Change.'

RPBs, anyone? They are regional planning bodies, and work with unelected regional development agencies (RDAs). LPAs? Local planning authorities, offshoots of local authorities. RSS? Regional spatial strategies in England, prepared by regional assemblies, which are only indirectly elected. DPDs? Development plan documents, prepared by LPAs.

This kind of planning gobbledegook, and the unelected appointees that go with it, is not an accident. Under Blair, the purpose of planning has become to stop new houses being built. For proof, look no further than paragraph 6 of the consultation document - that on Key Planning Objectives....

In the Blair terminus, fighting climate change comes before `enabling the provision' of new homes. Reducing the need to travel and especially to drive, and sustaining biodiversity, comes before technological innovation. Indeed, regional planning bodies will have to produce `regional trajectories' for the future carbon performance of new residential and commercial development (paragraph 1.7).....

Wherever, immediately after Blair, a major housing scheme is planned, at least 10 per cent of its energy supply will have to be `gained onsite and renewably and/or from a decentralised, renewable or low-carbon, energy supply' (paragraph 22). But now, since his weekend pronouncement, PM-in-waiting Gordon Brown has shown once again that a parsimonious, small-is-beautiful approach to society's burgeoning energy needs will always take precedence over large numbers of spacious homes that people can buy and own in full.

Much more here

Global warming "to be a joke in 5 years" says meteorologist

Climate change will be considered a joke in five years time, meteorologist Augie Auer told the annual meeting of Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers in Ashburton this week. Man's contribution to the greenhouse gases was so small we couldn't change the climate if we tried, he maintained. "We're all going to survive this. It's all going to be a joke in five years," he said.

A combination of misinterpreted and misguided science, media hype, and political spin had created the current hysteria and it was time to put a stop to it. "It is time to attack the myth of global warming," he said. Water vapour was responsible for 95 per cent of the greenhouse effect, an effect which was vital to keep the world warm, he explained. "If we didn't have the greenhouse effect the planet would be at minus 18 deg C but because we do have the greenhouse effect it is plus 15 deg C, all the time."

The other greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen dioxide, and various others including CFCs, contributed only five per cent of the effect, carbon dioxide being by far the greatest contributor at 3.6 per cent. However, carbon dioxide as a result of man's activities was only 3.2 per cent of that, hence only 0.12 per cent of the greenhouse gases in total. Human-related methane, nitrogen dioxide and CFCs etc made similarly minuscule contributions to the effect: 0.066, 0.047 and 0.046 per cent respectively. "That ought to be the end of the argument, there and then," he said. "We couldn't do it (change the climate) even if we wanted to because water vapour dominates."

Yet the Greens continued to use phrases such as "The planet is groaning under the weight of CO2" and Government policies were about to hit industries such as farming, he warned. "The Greens are really going to go after you because you put out 49 per cent of the countries emissions. Does anybody ask 49 per cent of what? Does anybody know how small that number is? "It's become a witch-hunt; a Salem witch-hunt," he said.



An attempt to block the DVD release of The Great Global Warming Swindle displays contempt for free speech -- says this "Guardian" writer

A recent reaction to a climate change denial documentary broadcast on primetime TV displays contempt for free speech and political ineptitude. Bob Ward, a former press officer at the Royal Society, has published an open letter to Martin Durkin, maker of a documentary film broadcast recently on Channel 4 television that denies human influence on climate change. The letter is signed by a number of climate scientists and other academics with an interest in climate change.

I have no time for Durkin or his film, but take issue with Ward's letter, which, as reported by David Adam in the Guardian, demands that the DVD of Durkin's documentary be either withdrawn or corrected of its scientific errors. The open letter states that " ... it is in the public interest for adequate quality control to be exercised over information that is disseminated to the public to ensure that it does not include major misrepresentations of the scientific evidence and interpretations of it by researchers."

If Durkin's Great Global Warming Swindle DVD should be withdrawn or corrected, what about Al Gore's hyperbolic An Inconvenient Truth, soon to be distributed to all schools in England courtesy of Her Majesty's government? Ward complains that Wag TV, the production company responsible for Durkin's film, will not be bound by any Ofcom ruling against Channel 4. Channel 4 is restricted by a code of conduct when it comes to what may be broadcast, but Wag TV as an independent, commercial entity is free to distribute the DVD, and I'm not sure how it could be otherwise.

We are all of us surrounded by wild claims, ideological nonsense, misrepresentations and downright lies. But it is no business of the state, or assemblies of the scientific great and good, to pronounce on what may or may not be published. So challenge Durkin and show him up as the dissembler he undoubtedly is. But win the battle by force of argument. The data are on the side of those arguing that human beings are largely responsible for current climate change, and do not require backing up with bullying tactics.

Durkin is reported by Raphael Satter in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer to have acknowledged two scientific errors, and said that these will be corrected in the DVD. That is an astute move by Durkin, but Ward et al demand that all the errors be removed, and then declare that if this were done, the documentary would fall to pieces.

I'm not so sure about this. Durkin could remove all the blatant scientific errors, and still make a superficial case based on issues that are not clear-cut, and over which there remains some scholarly debate. Reality is ever thus, yet given the increasing predictive power of climate models backed by hard data, the majority view of climate change is the only credible one to take.

But try explaining that to a mass audience. It can and should be done, but not in the combative rhetorical style beloved of the media and a number of scientific protagonists. Ward is quoted in Satter's article as saying: "Free speech does not extend to misleading the public by making factually inaccurate statements. Somebody has to stand up for the public interest here."

Strong stuff, but very, very wrong. Free speech does indeed extend to coming out with any old rubbish, and people - even highly intelligent ones - frequently do. Others are free to point out factual errors, and in doing so attempt to convince the masses of the truth. Like Bob Ward, I complained to the broadcasting regulator about Durkin's documentary. I did so not because I object to the line taken by Durkin, but rather because the filmmaker offered no space for opinions contrary to his own. The documentary was pure polemic subsidised by the taxpayer.

But Ward is going much further than a complaint to Ofcom, both in his open letter and discussions surrounding it. Regarding the demand for "quality control", it is not clear who would be the adjudicators, and even if Ward et al are right about the science (I am convinced they are), this is not a proper way for scientists to behave.

My principal objection to Ward's open letter is that it shows contempt for free speech, and an unwarranted lack of confidence in the ability of the public to think critically. A secondary objection is that it displays political ineptitude, and may prove counterproductive.



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

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

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


Monday, May 21, 2007

Gore's "Assault on reason"

An Aptly Titled Tome -- comment by by Christopher J. Alleva

Al Gore has most assuredly secured his place in the pantheon of modern media deities, right along side Paris Hilton and Sean Penn. His legacy as a senator and later vice president may be lackluster, but he has transcended those shortcomings by pulling off one of the most successful propaganda campaigns of all time. Public relations professionals will study his global warming campaign for decades on.

In between knocking down big paydays from investment bankers and six figure speaking fees, Gore has been the front man of this truly amazing campaign. Until he stumbled into this global warming gig, he was the Frank Burns of American Politics. The butt of all the jokes with the classic whiny demeanor. Bill Clinton was always Hawkeye Pierce to Gore's Frank Burns. Who can forget his greatest line ever? After pulling back his concession to then Governor Bush, he chortled: "you don't have to get snippy about it" But all that's behind him.

As he was making his finale on Capital Hill back in March, wowing the media once again, Penguin Books announced plans for an encore performance. Yet, another book tour featuring a new book written under his name aptly titled Assault on Reason. When I first heard about it I said to myself, now there's a topic this man knows all about. Arguably, his expertise is so great he scarcely needs a ghostwriter. His last book, An Inconvenient Truth, is perhaps the biggest assault on reason since the Pope went after Galileo in the 17th Century.

The mendacity of this work was stunning. Numerous errors, misstatements and outright lies have been detailed in many rebuttals, especially by Chris Horner and Marlo Lewis from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Mendacious as it may be, that has not stopped a gullible media from swallowing it hook line and sinker as the metaphor goes, and foisting it on the American public. Their implacable lack of skepticism has been truly remarkable.

Audacious must be Al Gore's middle name. How else can you describe someone that would publish a book that calls for a complete reordering of the world and then follows it up with a book with the premise that if you don't buy it you're assaulting basic reason.

The self-important catalog description of the book reveals Gore's inherent conceit.

"A visionary analysis of how the politics of fear, secrecy, cronyism, and blind faith has combined with the degration of the public sphere to create an environment dangerously hostile to reason."

My father used to say if you point your finger at someone there are four pointed back at you. Other than Bill and Hillary Clinton, I can hardly think of anyone that has shown a greater mastery of the politics of fear. Secrecy and cronyism are literally a way of life for him.

The timing of Gore's book release is obviously designed to undercut those that disagree with his cabal. Its safe to predict that the media will all roll over again. What else would you expect, Al is a media god. Time Magazine is dutifully first out of the gate publishing a short excerpt teaser in their latest issue. To no avail, I did some research to discover who Al's ghostwriter is. So far its still a secret (at least to me). Al is kind of like the Milli Vanilli of the literary and political world, lip synching his way all the way to the top. Unlike Rob and Fab, I don't think Al will be served with any class action lawuits for deceptive sales practices on "his" book. I may be wrong, but don't think we'll be unearthing anything like Reagan's "In his Own Hand" collection of personal writings from Al after he retires. Uncashed royalty checks perhaps, thoughtful prose, probably not.

Since this essay is nominally about Al Gore's new book, I guess I'll comment on the actual excerpt if I have to. The prose is downright turgid and the writing style is akin to congressional testimony. In other words, bring the No Doze. Unintended irony oozes from every paragraph. The writer vainly attempts to be profound but comes off looking trite instead. The editors at Penguin must have been pulling out their hair out; consoled only in the knowledge that no one will actually read the book. The television interviews will be carefully scripted no ad libing. Just follow the teleprompter baby.

The media may think Al Gore is a god but I think history will judge him more harshly. The sheer audacity of his global warming campaign is stunning to behold. The blind faith of the media is far more disturbing. Hopefully, this will be his last book.


More on Gore

Civil discourse is being well-informed, engaging in courteous communication, and being open to considering or, at least, respecting other points of view, and having the humility to be open to changing information and conclusions. Better understanding and peaceful progress emerges, in a dynamic and democratic process.

By contrast, aside from the profane and intolerant, there's the elitist view of discourse, self-labeled as "rational" by Al Gore and some fellow Democrats, that intrudes the government, and political power, into deciding which discourse deserves to be heard. I wrote about one variant of this power-grab earlier this week, the use of Democrats of the "Fairness Doctrine As Political Intimidation." Today, on the anniversary of his 1000th post, oft-quoted by me, Democrat campaign law expert Bob Bauer, extends the analysis:

On this anniversary day, the subject is one to which these postings return with fair frequency: the fashionable trepidation over failed democratic "discourse" and the urge, through regulation, to bring it back to life. This is the view that speech has gone bad, imperiling good government: and that in government action to improve speech lies the road to salvation. Regulated political speech becomes the stated condition of sound policy and good government. This seems quite wrong-headed..

Bauer presents Al Gore's case (common to many others):

Gore says many of the usual things, about the evils of television and the horrors of declining newspaper readership. Like others with his outlook on the dilapidated state of national discourse or "conversation," he is certain that the citizen is misinformed, the victim of deliberate lies and her own indolence. There is a wealth of facts which will yield the "truth" if reason-real logic applied to hard information-is brought to bear in analyzing them. Nothing less than the "truth" is within our grasp if only we would employ the tools of reason, availing ourselves of facts. There are right answers and wrong ones and we can have the right ones to each of the major and complex questions facing our nation and world-specific questions of national security or climate policy and also, breathtakingly, the more abstract, loftier challenges of "human survival, freedom and barbarity, justice and fairness." But we must not be ignorant, illogical and unreasonable when we have the choice of being well-informed and logical and reasonable..

Some who think as Gore does are blunt in the statement of their purposes. Dennis Kucinich, for example, would like to exhume the Fairness Doctrine, demanding balance from broadcasters in the treatment of contemporary policy issues. As Kucinich told Lou Dobbs (another man of reason) in January, he, too, is worried about protecting the "marketplace of ideas. That's what the First Amendment is all about." It is clear to him that the market is failing, because the public has chosen poorly, on Iraq and free trade, having been starved of the facts and reasonable argument necessary for the correct conclusions. "How could we have the trade policies which we have, for example, if there was a free and uninhibited exchange of ideas over NAFTA and GATT and the WTO?" Well-informed and reasonable people would never have agreed to such travesties!

However, Bauer points out:

This is elite judgment masquerading as populism. The people need elite protection, against themselves and those who habitually con them: protection against the excesses and distortions of the speech market. Bad speech, the unreasonable and poorly supported kind, must be molded into "discourse." Speech is the raw material that government can process into healthy discourse. Discourse is the lingua franca of good policy. It is the way to truth.

To his credit, Gore has made his case to the public on the issues he cares about with films and books. He has spoken, written and filmed his points. Others can judge whether, on those issues, he has been well-informed and reasonable. In his analysis of "what has gone wrong in our democracy," he is not.

I'm not a scientist, and have environmental leanings, so I'm willing to believe that there are possible dangers from global warming. But, unlike politicians jumping on a bandwagon, I'm still open to varying viewpoints, particularly when informed scientists move toward skepticism, others toward dismay at the argument, and others decry a stifling of scientific discussion. The huge costs of transforming the world's economies, and effects on those most poor, require more consideration than just calling for radical government programs, indeed as this study points out some alternatives are far more benign and salutary. The Wall Street Journal reminds us of scientific humility and caution:

Every dogma has its day, and we've lived long enough to see more than one "consensus" blown apart within a few years of "everyone knowing" it was true. In recent decades environmentalists have been wrong about almost every other apocalyptic claim they've made: global famine, overpopulation, natural resource exhaustion, the evils of pesticides, global cooling, and so on. Perhaps it's useful to have a few folks outside the "consensus" asking questions before we commit several trillion dollars to any problem.

Instead, with some exaggeration, but not offbase, Bloomberg TV reviewer says of a typical network program on global warming, "You'll find more dissent at a North Korean political rally than in this program, which would have benefited from contrarian views." To win an argument, one may stifle opposition, or engage in civil discourse. I prefer the latter, and am concerned that those now in Congressional and media power miss the distinction, in regards to global warming as to so many other critical issues to our future.


Coal Man: There's at least one CEO left who is not buying global warming hysteria

Every good party has its wet blanket. In the case of the energy industry's merrymaking for a global warming program, the guy in the dripping bedspread is a 67-year-old, straight-talking coal-mine owner by the name of Robert E. Murray.

You won't hear many of Mr. Murray's energy-biz colleagues mention him; they tend to avoid his name, much as nephews avoid talk of their crazy uncles. GE's Jeffrey Immelt, Duke Energy's Jim Rogers, Exelon's John Rowe--these polished titans have been basking in an intense media glow, ever since they claimed to have seen the light on global warming and gotten behind a mandatory government program to cut C02 emissions. They'd rather not have any killjoys blowing the whistle on their real motives--which is to make a pile of cash off the taxpayers and consumers who'll fund it.

And yet here's Mr. Murray, killjoy-in-chief at the global warming love-fest. "Some elitists in our country can't, or won't, tell fact from fiction, can't understand what a draconian climate change program will do [to] the dreams of millions of working Americans and those on fixed incomes," says the chairman and CEO of Murray Energy, one of the largest private coal concerns in the country. He's incensed by his fellow energy CEOs' "shameless" goal of fattening their bottom lines at the "expense of the broader economy." So these past months he's emerged from his quiet Cleveland office and jumped on the national stage, calling out the rest of his industry's CO2 collaborationists. He's testified in front of Congress; become a regular on television and radio programs; sat for profiles by journalists; and written letters to other energy companies exhorting them to think of the broader consequences.

It seems unlikely his campaign will slow the runaway global-warming train now hurtling through Washington. But Mr. Murray is certainly making the ride less comfortable for some corporate players. "For me, global warming is a human issue, not just an environmental one," he says in his slow, gravelly way, nursing a cup of coffee at a local shop here after recent congressional testimony.

"The science of global warming is speculative. But there's nothing speculative about the damage a C02 capture program will do to this country. I know the names of many of the thousands of people--American workers, their families--whose lives will be destroyed by what has become a deceitful and hysterical campaign, perpetrated by fear-mongers in our society and by corporate executives intent on their own profits or competitive advantage. I can't stand by and watch."

Tough words, and unusually brash ones for a respected CEO, though Mr. Murray is uniquely situated to deliver them. Unlike other energy executives--at industrial firms such as GE that make millions on wind turbines, or utilities such as Duke or Exelon who are making big financial bets on "clean energy"--coal CEOs such as Mr. Murray are the bad boys on the global-warming scene, and will see zero upside in a global-warming program. While the industry has certainly made advances on the real pollution front (sulfur dioxide/nitrogen oxide), coal still accounts for the vast majority of all electricity-related C02 emissions.

The only way to really cut carbon emissions would be to severely limit the use of coal-fired power plants and manufacturing facilities, which is exactly what environmentalists have wanted for years. "We're one of the targets of this campaign," says Mr. Murray. "Putting in place a global warming program is about putting limits on the coal business and low-cost energy." The Ohio coal miner therefore has nothing to lose by speaking hard truths.

He's also well-qualified to speak them, hailing from a long line of coal miners proud of their roots and their industry. A no-nonsense guy, Mr. Murray became the family provider after his father was paralyzed in a coal-mining accident. By 16, he was mowing lawns every day after school, using a coal miner's cap with a light on the front so he could continue to work past dark. He'd set his sights on a medical career when he was unexpectedly offered a chance at a scholarship to become a mining engineer. "I'm a fourth-generation miner, but it's only by happenstance," he chuckles.

There followed 31 years at the North American Coal Corporation, where he rose to CEO and then left in 1987 after a disagreement. Striking out on his own, he mortgaged his home to buy his first mine. Today, Murray Energy operates 11 coal mines in Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Utah, producing 32 million tons of coal annually ($800 million in sales) for U.S. electric utilities. He employs about 3,000, although he estimates that if you look at all the secondary jobs created to provide goods and services for miners, his company has helped create some 36,000 jobs.

Those jobs are top of Mr. Murray's list of concerns, and he's been determined to make people hear about them. At a recent speech to the New York Coal Trade Association, designed to whip some of his fellow coal industry friends into action, Mr. Murray recalled what happened in his region after the 1990 Clean Air Act, which imposed drastic reductions in coal production: "In Ohio alone, from 1990 to 2005, nearly 120 mines were shut down, costing more than 36,000 primary and secondary jobs. These impacted areas have spent years recovering, and some never will. Families broke up, many lost homes, and some were impoverished . . ." He finishes the thought by noting that a global warming program would make those prior coal cuts look like small potatoes.

These speeches and TV appearances have become more frequent--and it's a measure of just how big an irritant he's become to global-warming politicians and their new buddies in the energy industry, that when Mr. Murray was invited to impart his wisdom to Congress at a hearing in March, Democrats tried to keep him from testifying. They later gave in, although Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee Chairman Jim Costa pointedly left the room when it was Mr. Murray's turn to testify.

Had Mr. Costa bothered to stay, he'd have heard a useful, and irrefutable, analysis of just what today's legislative proposals for a global warming program would mean to the economy, including the nation's many miners. "Some 52% of this country's electricity is generated from coal," Mr. Murray says. "Global warming legislation would place arbitrary limits on the use of coal, yet there's nothing to replace it at the same cost. There's nuclear, but the environmentalists killed it off and aren't about to let it come back. There's hydro, but we're using that everywhere we can already. There's natural gas, but supply and pipeline capacity is limited, and it's three times the cost of coal. Politically correct--and subsidized 'alternative energy' is very limited in capability and also expensive.

"So what you are really doing with a global warming program is getting rid of low-cost energy," he says. The consequences? Americans have been fretting about losing jobs to places such as China or India, which already offer cheaper energy. "You hike the cost of energy here further, and you create a mass exodus of business out of this country." Especially so, given that neither of those countries is about to hamstring its own economy in order to join a Kyoto-like accord. He points out that since 1990, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 18%, while China's have increased by 77%. Mr. Murray also notes that many countries that have joined Kyoto have already failed to meet their targets.

Mr. Murray, like most honest participants in this debate, can reel off the names of the many respected scientists who still doubt that human activity is the cause of rising temperatures. But he tends to treat the scientific debate almost as a sideshow, an excuse for not talking about what comes next. "Even if the politicians believe 100% that man is causing global warming, they still have an obligation to discuss honestly just what damage they want to inflict on American jobs and workers and people on fixed incomes, in the here and now, with their programs."

This is where Mr. Murray really gets rolling, on his favorite subject of his fellow energy executives and the role they are playing in encouraging a mandatory C02 program. "There is this belief that since even some in the energy industry are now on board with a program, that it must be okay. No one is looking at these executives' real motives."

To understand those motives, you've first got to understand how a cap-and-trade plan works. The government would first place a cap on CO2 emissions. Each company would then be given an "allowance" for emissions. If the company produced less CO2 than allowed, it could sell the excess credits to others. If a company wanted to produce more CO2 than its allowance, it would have to buy credits. "The strategy for these folks now is to go to Washington, help design the program to suit their companies, and snap up all the carbon emission allowances," says Mr. Murray. "The more allowances they get, the more they'll have to sell, and the more money they'll make. . . . This has nothing to do with creating 'regulatory certainty,' which is how they like to sell their actions. This has to do with creating money, for their companies, off the back of an economy that will be paying more for its energy."

Mr. Murray reserves special criticism for those companies that have joined the high-profile U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a coalition pushing for mandatory controls on greenhouse gas emissions. "Some of them see profits--such as Caterpillar, General Electric, DuPont, Alcoa, General Motors, British Petroleum, Shell Oil, ConocoPhillips, Entergy--and all are just trying to look 'green.' But none of it is good for America."

He says that if these companies think the good times will last, they've been smoking their own products. "These CEOs were picked because they know how to work the political scene within their companies and are doing the same with the public on this issue. They are focused on short-term profits, and maybe it's true that a cap-and-trade program will help them with their next earnings statement. What they won't acknowledge is that, once a cap-and-trade program is in effect, the politicians will want to keep lowering, lowering, lowering the cap. That means fewer and fewer allowances. In the long term, this will starve American energy--though that isn't something they are telling their shareholders."

Mr. Murray does business with many of these companies, and in February he sent strongly worded letters to their executives, pointing out the hazard of mandatory CO2 reductions to the nation. His letter to Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers ended, "You are promoting the wrong policies for your company, for mine and my employees, and for the American people . . . Your company may well have some short-term benefits, but slowing down our economy--and with it the global economy--over the long term will not help anybody."

Mr. Rogers responded with a letter that said while he respected Mr. Murray's views, he couldn't help. "Legislation is coming. We can help shape it, or we can stand on the sidelines and let others do it," he wrote. It seems some have already given up on this battle.


Some Kinds of Knowledge Are Too Dangerous?

In a recent academic conference on Ethics and Climate Change at the University of Washington, associate professor of philosophy Steve Gardiner demonstrated why we are all happy he has decided on an academic career.

He attacked Paul Crutzen's proposal that we begin to research "geo-engineering", the currently speculative technological ideas that might enable us to reverse the effects of potential future global warming, either by removing carbon from the atmosphere or ameliorating its effects. These ideas range from very prosaic things like planting more trees to more spectacular efforts like injecting particulate matter into the upper atmosphere.

Crutzen has sensibly suggested that since it will take a long time to figure out if many of these ideas could work, it's smart to start research now so that, if possible, we have this as an option when and if it becomes necessary. It's hard to see how any practical person could argue with researching these concepts. Gardiner has this to say about Crutzen's proposal:

"In summary, Crutzen's argument is that geoengineering, though arguably an evil in itself might turn out to be a lesser evil than the likely alternative; hence, he thinks, we should prepare just in case we are compelled to endorse that evil."

Gardiner apparently never considers the idea that maybe it's not an "evil" at all. If such an approach could work - and it should be noted that Paul Crutzen has won the Nobel Prize for his work on CFC / Ozone atmospheric chemistry, so there is a refutable presumption that he is a slightly better judge of whether or not this is feasible than Gardiner - why would it be an evil? Why would it be a bad thing if we could avoid having to restructure the whole economy, thereby condemning billions of people to an unnecessarily long climb out of poverty? If a global warming problem emerges and we could engineer our way out of it, why shouldn't we?

Gardiner's objection is not idiosyncratic, but is a standard point of view among those who want the entire world economy to be changed according to their instructions. They think that the hope of a technical solution will sap the political will to break the eggs needed to make their omelet. I guess the professors think that some kinds of knowledge are just too dangerous for the rest of us.



Automobile manufacturers are demanding that Brussels allow them an additional three years to prepare for stringent new carbon-dioxide emission limits due in 2012. The European Carmakers' Association, ACEA, on 15 May, called on the Commission to allow manufacturers sufficient preparation time before implementing legislation that would force them to cut CO2 emissions from new cars to an average of 130 grammes per kilometre across the fleet.

The EU's executive wants the target to be met by 2012, but ACEA President Sergio Marchionne argued that this would be too soon as the legal framework will probably not be ready before 2009. By then, he said, the cars of 2012 will have left the drawing tables. "The industry must be granted sufficient lead time to meet any new requirements, and the first feasible date for that to be accomplished is 2015," he stressed. Marchionne added that the Commission's plan to place nearly the entire burden of CO2 reductions on the vehicle industry - neglecting other more industry-friendly means of reducing CO2, such as traffic management, biofuels and taxation - would cost Europe thousands of jobs.

But environmentalists are accusing carmakers of attempting to shirk their responsibilities by calling for such an integrated approach and point out the industry's failure to reduce CO2 emissions on a voluntary basis. A voluntary agreement, signed with the Commission in 1998, requires European car manufacturers to bring average fleet CO2 emissions down to 140 g/km by 2008. But they have so far only succeeded in bringing the figure down to 163 g/km. The Commission now wants overall emission levels down to 120 g/km by 2012, with carmakers to bear the responsibility of bringing the figure down to 130 g/km through improved engine technology alone.

Parliament has yet to approve the Commission's plan, but according to various press reports, UK Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies, who is rapporteur on the proposal, could propose extending the timeframe - possibly to 2014, when new rules on other pollutant emissions from cars, known as Euro 6, come into force. "It takes years to change production lines and research the technology. We don't want to chase the industry out of Europe," the Financial Times reported him as saying.



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

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

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


Sunday, May 20, 2007


The United States will fight climate change by funding clean energy technologies and will continue to reject emissions targets or cap and trade schemes, its chief climate negotiator Harlan Watson said on Thursday. Germany wants G8 countries at a meeting it hosts next month to agree to halve climate-warming carbon emissions by 2050 and promote carbon trading as a way to penalise greenhouse gas emissions. British Prime Minister Tony Blair also wants the United States to take a tough stand, and global warming featured at his farewell summit with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington on Thursday. But such demands on the world's biggest carbon emitter are set to fall on deaf ears. "We don't believe targets and timetables are important, or a global cap and trade system," Watson told Reuters, speaking on the fringes of a U.N. hosted climate change meeting in Bonn. "It's important not to jeopardize economic growth." Watson also rejected the idea of a long-term target, say to halve or more greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century.



Germany had hoped for a deal on climate change Ian Traynor in Brussels and Luke Harding in Moscow Germany's hopes of striking a new grand bargain between Russia and Europe, locking both into a close embrace for years to come, have been dashed before a crucial EU-Russia summit. As the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, flew to Samara on the Volga last night for dinner with President Vladimir Putin and to open today's summit, it was clear that the meeting was being hijacked by a long list of disputes focused on eastern Europe and the Balkans. Currently chairing the EU, Germany has prepared the summit as an opportunity to secure Russian agreements on energy security, human rights and climate change. But Berlin's wooing of Moscow has fallen foul of the worsening estrangement between President Putin and the west in recent months.



Dan Reynolds Pittsburgh Business Times As forces across the country gear up to control carbon dioxide emissions, the chief executive of a major Pittsburgh manufacturer sounded a cautionary warning on Wednesday. John Surma, the chairman and CEO of U.S. Steel Corp. (NYSE: X), which employs about 43,000 globally, said jobs in the Pittsburgh and national steel industry could be in jeopardy if efforts to curtail so-called greenhouse gasses aren't implemented in a fair and measured manner. "If it were to be done too significantly and too quickly, it could be dire," said Surma, who said any rush to limit greenhouse gases could expose the flank of U.S. steelmakers to steel made in China, where carbon dioxide restraints won't be as readily applied. Surma made the comments after a breakfast address to members of the Pittsburgh Technology Council at Downtown's Omni William Penn Hotel. During his talk, Surma said the science to remove carbon dioxide emissions from the iron and steel making process is still decades away.



It is an ominous sign that the prestigious scientific institution has changed its motto from 'on the word of no one' to 'respect the facts'. Nullius in Verba, the motto of the prestigious Royal Society in London, is usually translated as 'on the word of no one'. When it was coined back in 1663, it was intended to distance science from the methods of the ancient universities, which relied heavily on the personal authority of the scholars. 'On the word of no one' highlighted the independent authority that empirical evidence bestowed on science; knowledge about the material universe should be based on appeals to experimental evidence rather than authority.

Lately, however, the Royal Society has dropped any mention of 'on the word of no one' from its website. Instead, it talks of the need to 'verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment'. Lord May of Oxford, erstwhile president of the Royal Society and former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, offers us a whole new translation: 'respect the facts.' This provides the title of his recent review in the Times Literary Supplement (TLS), in which he gave the scientific nod of approval to seven recent publications on climate change, including books by George Monbiot, Al Gore and Sir Nicholas Stern (1).

The Royal Society's 'motto-morphosis' - where it has gone from saying 'on the word of no one' to demanding that we 'respect the facts' - points to an important shift in the way that scientific authority is used to close down debate these days.


If you break a CFL light bulb...

A quick calculation shows that the 5 mg of mercury in an energy-conserving CFL is enough to fill an average size room (100 cubic meters volume) with the 0.05 mg/cubic meter vapor concentration that is considered hazardous for long term chronic exposure. Since this is the rule for laboratories, it probably does not account for people who might be especially sensitive, including infants, small children and pregnant women. As with allergies, different people can have vastly different responses to exposures to toxins.

The admonition to open the window for 15 minutes after a CFL break does not account for the various sizes / shapes of rooms, placement of windows (or absence thereof) and whether there is adequate cross-ventilation. And of course, it is not so convenient to ventilate a room thoroughly with outdoor air during the dead of winter in a northern clime.

Far be it from me to fuel a scare, but CFL backers are the global warming alarmists, after all, who have much less science to back up their claims for concern about climate change. It might be instructive to review the OSHA regulations concerning handling of mercury employed at CFL manufacturing plants. I bet the precautions are quite stringent.


Think Tank Challenges Greenpeace to Meet Transparency Standards

Statement of National Center Vice President David Ridenour on Greenpeace's "ExxonMobil's Continued Funding of Global Warming Denial Industry":

Today The National Center for Public Policy Research is challenging Greenpeace and its affiliates to disclose the sources and amounts of its 2006 donations exceeding $50,000. If it does so, The National Center for Public Policy Research will do the same.

We're making this challenge in light of allegations in Greenpeace's May 17 report, "ExxonMobil's Continued Funding of Global Warming Denial Industry," which suggests that it is improper for 41 groups, including The National Center for Public Policy Research, to accept contributions from ExxonMobil because the positions of at least some of them on climate issues is not precisely in accordance with those of Greenpeace.

Most of the groups singled out for criticism in the Greenpeace report work on a wide variety of public policy issues. For most of the groups, climate policy is just a small fraction of their portfolio.

Greenpeace - perhaps based on its own behavior - assumes that donations influence the stands groups such as ours take. They do not. So that the public can judge for themselves, we're challenging Greenpeace to complete transparency through disclosure of major gifts.

Funding from energy companies is not what is fueling the vigorous climate debate. What is fueling the debate is genuine, sincere belief that great uncertainties remain - both on the science and on the appropriate public policy response.

As the stakes, and the costs, of the climate debate are immense, it is entirely proper that many voices and perspectives be considered - not just those of Greenpeace and its allies. If Greenpeace disagrees with others, it might more productively use its resources debating the issue itself, rather than focus on the fact that certain groups also addressing climate issues receive less than 1% of its revenue from ExxonMobil -- as ours did.

Greenpeace has profited more from corporate largesse than The National Center for Public Policy Research and similar groups ever will. Although Greenpeace has a policy against accepting direct corporate donations, the group just received a $27 million bequest from the heir of a major shipping company, a company which emitted 7.13 million tons of CO2 in 2005 (about .12% of ALL U.S. CO2 emissions).

Further, Greenpeace Executive Director John Passacantando's compensation is three times - perhaps more - the total amount of corporate contributions The National Center for Public Policy Research received in 2006. Perhaps that fact puts things a little more into perspective.

If Greenpeace expects its call for public disclosure of grants of other groups to be taken seriously, they should lead by example. If not, they're the real "denial industry."



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

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

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


Saturday, May 19, 2007

The latest scare

We have to wait until the very end of the article to find out the full truth

The oceans are losing the capacity to soak up rising man-made carbon emissions, which is increasing the rate of global warming by up to 30 per cent, scientists said yesterday. Researchers have found that the Southern Ocean is absorbing an ever-decreasing proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The excess carbon, which cannot be absorbed by the oceans, will remain in the atmosphere and accelerate global warming, they said. The reduced ability to absorb carbon is thought to be a result of high winds acting on ocean currents bringing deeper waters that already contain high levels of carbon to the surface.

The higher winds are themselves believed to have been caused by climate change due to a combination of changes in the ozone layer and carbon emissions. The scientists from countries including Britain, France and Germany, said their findings marked the first time that one of the world's natural "carbon sinks" had been shown to be weakened by Man's own actions.

Ian Totterdell, a climate modeller at the Met Office Hadley Centre, described the research as "an important piece of work". He said: "This is the first time we have been able to get convincing evidence that a change in the uptake of CO2 by the oceans is linked to climate change. "It's one of many feedbacks we didn't expect to kick in until some way into the 21st century."

While a reduction in absorption rates by carbon sinks has long been forecast, the discovery that the Southern Ocean is mopping up less of Man's carbon emissions has come at least two decades earlier than expected. The Southern Ocean is the world's biggest marine carbon sink and accounts for 15 per cent of all the carbon taken out of the atmosphere. Temperatures are already predicted to rise by almost 1.5C (2.7F) by the middle of the century, without taking into account any further emissions caused, for example, by the rapid construction of fossil fuel power plants in China and India.

The weakening of the Southern Ocean's absorption rates- which could be in the range of 5 to 30 per cent- is likely to result in an increase in the rate at which temperatures rise, scientists say. "This is serious," said Corinne Le Qu, of the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), two of the world's leading environmental research centres. "This is the first time that we've been able to say that climate change itself is responsible for the saturation of the Southern Ocean sink. "With the Southern Ocean reaching its saturation point more CO2 will stay in our atmosphere. Since the early 1980s the carbon sink hasn't changed. In the same period the emissions have gone up by 43 per cent." Dr Le Qu led a team measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide, which found that, despite this rise in emissions since 1981, the quantity absorbed by the ocean was static.

Since the industrial revolution an estimated 500 giga-tonnes of carbon dioxide has been released into the atmosphere through the use of fossil fuels, cement manufacture and changes in land use. About a quarter of this has been absorbed by the oceans and a further quarter taken up by vegetation.

The research, published in Science, identified changes in wind patterns caused by climate change as being the direct cause of the weakened ability to absorb carbon dioxide. While able to pinpoint the hole in the ozone layer and carbon emissions as the man-made causes of the increased winds, the researchers were unable to identify which of them had the greater effect. The net quantity of carbon dioxide absorbed by the Southern Ocean remained at 0.3 billion tonnes a year from 1981 to 2004, according to calculations by the research team. In 1981 it absorbed 0.6 billion tonnes from the atmosphere but emitted 0.3 billion tonnes back into it. In 2004 it absorbed 0.8 billion tonnes but emitted 0.5 billion tonnes. In the report they said that climate models project more intense Southern Ocean winds if CO2 levels continue to increase over the next century.

The researchers accepted there were limits to the data available from the Southern Ocean and that "the magnitude of the CO2 sink is heavily disputed". Professor Chris Rapley, director of BAS, said uncertaintities remained, but the findings were "a serious concern". He said the reduced efficiency of the ocean to act as a carbon sink would make it harder to reduce emissions to levels that were low enough to limit temperature rises to 2C.


Czech president calls for rational debate on global warming, rejects "current hysteria"

Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Wednesday called for a rational debate on global warming, rejecting what he called "hysteria" driven by enviromentalists. "Let's bring the debate to whether the 0.6 (degree Celsius warming over the last century) is much or little, how much Man has contributed to the warming and ... if there is anything at all Man can do about it," Klaus said when presenting his book "Blue, Not a Green Planet."

He charged that groups other than scientists have now seized on the topic and ambitious environmentalists are fueling a global warming hysteria that has no solid ground in fact and allows manipulation of people. "It is about a key topic of our time, and that is the topic of human freedom and its curtailment," Klaus said. "The approach of environmentalists toward nature is similar to the Marxist approach to economic rules, because they also try to replace free spontaneity of the evolution of the world (and of mankind) with ... global planning of the world's development," Klaus writes in his book. "That approach ... is a utopia leading to completely other than wanted results," he says.

Klaus, an economist by profession, has repeatedly warned that policy makers are pushed by the widespread fear of global warming to adopt enormously costly programs that eventually may have no positive effect. Klaus served as Czechoslovak finance minister after the 1989 fall of communism and as Czech prime minister after Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993. As president, he now has mainly ceremonial powers.


ERAU professor seeks balance in global warming debate

Nick Shipley, an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University freshman, had just spent a week of classes watching two films with polar-opposite conclusions about global warming. "After watching 'An Inconvenient Truth,' I was relatively convinced," Shipley said one day last month in class. "(Al Gore) did a good job in presenting his points very methodically one after the other. They all build up to essentially prove his point. "After watching 'The Great Global Warming Swindle,' my thinking completely changed," he said. "I kind of did a complete flip-flop."

College students aren't the only ones being confronted with climate change, its causes and what -- if anything -- can be done about it. A Democratic Congress, an Academy Award for "An Inconvenient Truth" and continuing United Nations' proclamations have all contributed to the drumbeat for reducing carbon dioxide emissions as a strategy for fighting global warming. Some scientists are concerned the forces that are shaping debate and making policy decisions are not based on truths -- convenient or not.

James Wanliss, a space physicist who teaches at Embry-Riddle, showed students the two films in an honors course titled "The Politics and Science of Fear" because he said more and more the public is being sold one side of an issue with many dimensions. "I fear that attempts are being made to purposefully subvert the public understanding of the nature of science in order to achieve political goals," he wrote in an e-mail. "Science is not about consensus, and to invoke this raises the hackles of scientists such as myself. The lure of politics and publicity is no doubt seductive, but it nevertheless amazes me that so many scientists have jumped on the bandwagon of consensus science, apparently forgetting or ignoring the sad history of consensus science."

"An Inconvenient Truth," the documentary starring Gore and a lot of graphs, makes the case that humans have contributed mightily to a 1-degree rise in the Earth's temperature in the last 50 years. It uses images of melting ice caps and dying polar bears to nudge viewers toward action for reasons of morality. "The Great Global Warming Swindle," an anti-Gore documentary, doesn't question the Earth's temperature increase but takes to task the questions of why and what's next. For example, it suggests solar activity may have more to do with the planet's warming than carbon dioxideemissions.

Wanliss said he doesn't necessarily subscribe to either film, but believes his students -- and the public -- should remain skeptical of theories such as Gore's explanation of global warming. Other Embry-Riddle scientists are less outspoken than Wanliss, but one -- John Olivero, professor and chairman of the department of physical science -- allowed that skepticism is an essential tool of the scientific method. "Science lives with internal conflict all the time," Olivero said. "Part of what we have to do is continually challenge each other." That process, they say, leads scientists closer to truths that may be elusive for lifetimes.

The truths of global warming are, if not inconvenient, incomprehensible, Wanliss argues. "The atmosphere is incredibly complicated, and we know very little about it," he said. "We are studying a system which is so big . . . we don't know what all the variables are." Pointing to quotes in magazine articles, Wanliss says Gore and the producers of the "Swindle" film are purposefully overstating their science as a means to a political end.

His views are certainly controversial. Penelope Canan, a professor of sociology at the University of Central Florida, leans toward Gore's way of thinking. "There's really no doubt that human activities have altered the global carbon cycle and the natural balances that have thickened the blanket of greenhouse gases that have kept our planet like Baby Bear's soup for thousands of years," she said in an e-mail. "I am certain that the data presented by Al Gore was digested by hundreds of thousands of research hours and peer-reviewed data by the world's leading scientists."

Sam Rabin, a freshman activist at Stetson University who helped screen "An Inconvenient Truth" on his campus, said many policymakers avoid difficult decisions that may come from carbon dioxide emission limitations, while journalists ramp up the skeptics' arguments in the name of balance. "This is horribly misguided and counterproductive," Rabin wrote in an e-mail. "There is virtually no scientific debate about global warming or its cause." But Wanliss' students at Embry-Riddle leaned toward the skeptical. The professor said that is an important lesson about science. "You want certainty, but it's hard to get that," he said. "Science isn't about certainty."


Greenies as fire-worshippers

For those who lived under communist rule - like the author of this piece - it is obvious that science played the central role in their ideology. Starting with Marx, communists claimed that their ideology was based completely upon rational scientific calculation, as opposed to traditional faith. They claimed that science can account for not only the material world, but also the world of ideas and social behavior. That explains why communists always paid great attention to economics and sociology. The failure of those pseudo-scientific disciplines could itself be a topic for a paper. However, here I am only discussing one interesting feature of the scientific cult - its close relation to fire-worship.

Fire was undoubtedly the first and the most important scientific discovery in the history of the mankind. By learning to use fire, people gained a decisive advantage over all other species. Fire made it possible for people to populate territories with cold climate and use a wider range of nutrients. I cannot imagine any possible discovery which would influence the life of modern people to the same extent as fire influenced the life of our ancestors. Hence, fire-worship at that time was equivalent to the belief in the power of science.

The relation of science and fire is especially obvious from the documentary films about science. There, scientists are always shown with something related to fire. It could be a laser, a faraway star or galaxy, an atomic reactor, a starting rocket, or at least twinkling lights on the instrument board. Earlier, it used to be a blast-furnace or a steam-engine. I wonder if the current assault on smoking is driven by the desire to exterminate the competitors, namely the non-scientific fire users.

- - - - - - - - - -

During the medieval period of the Dark Ages people probably did not believe in science very much. However, as the instrumentation and means of production became more and more complicated and science started to play an important role in European societies, the worship of science reappeared. Not surprisingly, the name of that historical period is the Enlightenment. The means for propagandizing the science cult is education; those who do not want to educate themselves about science are usually called "dark" people.

Undoubtedly, the Global Warming Catastrophe is closely related to science. It was predicted by scientists and can be avoided only by scientific means. With Global Warming, the religion of science has obtained its Apocalypse. But what is the reason for that terrible punishment? It is the unwise burning of fuels, burning by rough uneducated people who are not entitled to use the fire. It is the desecration of fire by the mankind. Scientists aloner are entitled to burn fire and distribute the power of fire to the people, but only in the amounts they consider sufficient. Clearly, they cannot and do not want to prohibit fire, because the fire is their power, but they want to be the only ones in the control of the fire. By the way, the accusation that the Bush administration has the desire to control Mid-Eastern oil is a typical projection of one's aggression on the enemy.

In the light of the above piece, what else could be expected from the scientific fire worshippers? Probably, the prohibition of matches, grills and fireplaces as unsafe, restrictions on fireworks, and of course the prohibition of firearms. Later one may expect limitations on the use of electric power and natural gas, as well as recommendations to avoid cooking and frying. The prohibition of all combustive liquids, including alcohol. Finally, any unauthorized use of fire will be prohibited.

And Science will prevail.



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

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

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


Friday, May 18, 2007


Alarmist messages about global warming are counter-productive, the head of a leading climate research centre says. Professor Mike Hulme, of the UK's Tyndall Centre, has been conducting research on people's attitudes to media portrayals of a catastrophic future. He says strong messages designed to prompt people to change behaviour only seem to generate apathy. His initial findings will be shown to a meeting run by the British Association for the Advancement of Science. "There has been over-claiming or exaggeration, or at the very least casual use of language by scientists, some of whom are quite prominent," Professor Hulme told BBC News.

His concern is that these exaggerations have given the green light to the media to use the language of fear, terror and disaster when covering scientific reports - even when those reports are much more constrained in their description of the course of likely future events. He says extravagated claims simply generate a feeling of helplessness in the public. "My argument is about the dangers of science over-claiming its knowledge about the future and in particular presenting tentative predictions about climate change using words of 'disaster', 'apocalypse' and 'catastrophe'," he said.

The study compared the responses of a group of people shown sensational media coverage with those given the more sober information from scientific reports. The initial findings suggest that those shown doom-laden messages tended to believe the problem could come to a head further into the future. This group also felt there was little they could do to affect the planet's future. "Not only is this not a good way of presenting climate change science, but even in trying to effect change, it's self-defeating," Professor Hulme said.

He is speaking at the British Association's two-day Science Communication Conference in London. He will pick up themes he raised in a Green Room article on the BBC News website last November. These were subsequently echoed by two leading Royal Meteorological Society figures - Professors Paul Hardaker and Chris Collier - in March this year. They said reports of catastrophe and the "Hollywoodisation" of weather and climate were creating confusion in the public's mind. All three men hold the view that human activity lies behind the recent rise in Earth's global average temperature.



University of Washington climate scientist Mark Albright was dismissed on March 12 from his position as associate state climatologist, just weeks after exposing false claims of shrinking glaciers in the Cascade Mountains. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels (D) had asserted in a February 7 Seattle Times editorial, "the average snow pack in the Cascades has declined 50 percent since 1950 and will be cut in half again in 30 years if we don't start addressing the problems of climate change now."

Albright knew from his research that the Cascade Mountains snow pack had not declined anywhere near what Nickels asserted, and that the snow pack has actually been growing in recent years. Albright sent emails to his colleagues informing them of the factual data. At most, according to reliable datasets, the Cascade Mountains snow pack declined by 35 percent between 1950 and 2000. Moreover, even that number is misleading. Nickels and other global warming alarmists deliberately choose 1950 as the "baseline" for Cascade Mountains snow pack because 1950 was a year of abnormally heavy snowfall resulting in an uncharacteristically extensive snow pack. Albright noted in his emails the current snow pack is only marginally lower than the long-term average since 1943. Moreover, the Cascade Mountains snow pack has been growing since the late 1970s.

Albright's emails were particularly embarrassing to Philip Mote, the Washington state climatologist. Mote had become well-known within the scientific community through his work documenting an asserted decline in Cascade Mountain glaciers. In late February, University of Washington atmospheric scientist Dennis Hartmann agreed to referee the brewing dispute.

After reviewing the data, Hartmann concluded on February 22, "While some stations show a 50 percent downward trend in April 1 snow water equivalent between 1950 and present, we believe the overall observed trend for the Cascade Mountains of Washington and Oregon is smaller. "One set of observations using all of the Cascade mountain stations in Washington State ... from 1945 until the present shows a snow water equivalent decrease of about 30 percent," Hartmann noted. "If an earlier starting date is chosen, the trend is smaller, but the number of stations available before 1945 is relatively small and their average altitude is high. "If a shorter record is chosen, starting in about 1975 for example, there is a small increase in snow water equivalent," Hartmann concluded

After Hartmann announced his conclusions, Mote became increasingly upset that Albright was distributing emails keeping his colleagues informed of the latest developments regarding the Cascade snow pack. In early March Albright was told he would have to submit any emails connected with his associate state climatologist position to Mote for pre-approval prior to distribution. When Albright refused to submit to Mote's censorship, Mote stripped him of his associate state climatologist title. Mote asserted he was not trying to censor Albright's views, but that Albright's emails simply needed to go through proper quality checks.

Cliff Mass, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, told the March 15 Seattle Times, "In all my years of doing science, I've never seen this sort of gag-order approach to doing science." "Anytime politics intrudes on science, science is degraded and society as a whole is the loser," said Sterling Burnett, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. "That is why the whole global warming issue is a mess right now. Scientists have not reached a scientific conclusion yet, but the politicians want to jump the gun and be seen as saviors on the issue. This is a recipe for disaster."

Burnett continued, "The reputation of science as an independent and nonpartisan source of knowledge is put at risk whenever scientists are censored for sharing scientific knowledge. Scientists should never be pressured to come up with predetermined conclusions or punished for challenging the status quo. "The essence of science is reasoned skepticism and the courage to either be wrong or show that others are wrong--all in the bold pursuit of truth. The bold pursuit of truth should never be discouraged," Burnett noted.


More Greenie deception

Another example is a bit of "global warming" alarmism from The headline: "California-Sized Area of Ice Melts in Antarctica." The lead paragraph:

Warm temperatures melted an area of western Antarctica that adds up to the size of California in January 2005, scientists report.

But go a few paragraphs down, and you find that this is much less of a big deal than it sounds:

NASA's QuikScat satellite detected snowmelt by radar pulses that bounce off of ice that formed when snowmelt refroze (just as ice cream turns to ice when it is refrozen after being left out on the counter too long.)

Maximum high temperatures of 41 degrees Fahrenheit that persisted for about a week in Antarctica caused a melt intense enough to create an extensive ice layer.

In other words, a summer heat wave caused snow on the surface to melt for a week or so, but it froze again when the weather cooled down. LiveScience quotes Konrad Steffen of the University of Colorado: "Increases in snowmelt, such as this in 2005, definitely could have an impact on larger scale melting of Antarctica's ice sheets if they were severe or sustained over time." Definitely! The only thing is, they weren't.



The accelerating destruction of the rainforests that form a precious cooling band around the Earth's equator, is now being recognised as one of the main causes of climate change. Carbon emissions from deforestation far outstrip damage caused by planes and automobiles and factories. The rampant slashing and burning of tropical forests is second only to the energy sector as a source of greenhouses gases according to report published today by the Oxford-based Global Canopy Programme, an alliance of leading rainforest scientists.

Figures from the GCP, summarising the latest findings from the United Nations, and building on estimates contained in the Stern Report, show deforestation accounts for up to 25 per cent of global emissions of heat-trapping gases, while transport and industry account for 14 per cent each; and aviation makes up only 3 per cent of the total. "Tropical forests are the elephant in the living room of climate change," said Andrew Mitchell, the head of the GCP. Scientists say one days' deforestation is equivalent to the carbon footprint of eight million people flying to New York.

Reducing those catastrophic emissions can be achieved most quickly and most cheaply by halting the destruction in Brazil, Indonesia, the Congo and elsewhere. No new technology is needed, says the GCP, just the political will and a system of enforcement and incentives that makes the trees worth more to governments and individuals standing than felled. "The focus on technological fixes for the emissions of rich nations while giving no incentive to poorer nations to stop burning the standing forest means we are putting the cart before the horse," said Mr Mitchell.

Most people think of forests only in terms of the CO2 they absorb. The rainforests of the Amazon, the Congo basin and Indonesia are thought of as the lungs of the planet. But the destruction of those forests will in the next four years alone, in the words of Sir Nicholas Stern, pump more CO2 into the atmosphere than every flight in the history of aviation to at least 2025.

Indonesia became the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world last week. Following close behind is Brazil. Neither nation has heavy industry on a comparable scale with the EU, India or Russia and yet they comfortably outstrip all other countries, except the United States and China. What both countries do have in common is tropical forest that is being cut and burned with staggering swiftness. Smoke stacks visible from space climb into the sky above both countries, while satellite images capture similar destruction from the Congo basin, across the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo.

According to the latest audited figures from 2003, two billion tons of CO2 enters the atmosphere every year from deforestation. That destruction amounts to 50 million acres - or an area the size of England, Wales and Scotland felled annually. The remaining standing forest is calculated to contain 1,000 billion tons of carbon, or double what is already in the atmosphere. As the GCP's report concludes: "If we lose forests, we lose the fight against climate change."


Australia: Arrogant Leftist "planner" wants smaller houses "to limit their impact on the environment"

VICTORIA'S Planning Minister has said McMansion-style homes are water wasters suffering from "housing obesity". Justin Madden, an architect who lives in a two-storey heritage-protected home, has said he wants more small homes on new housing estates. He has said big houses found in suburbs such as Caroline Springs and Tarneit often suffer from "housing obesity". "Melbourne's household growth - and by that I mean dwellings - is twice the population growth," Mr Madden has said. "Our increasing affluence has led to bigger houses, and I'm sure you're familiar with the description McMansions, and one of my favourites, 'housing obesity'."

But residents in Caroline Springs, Mr Madden's electorate, have said he is attacking their Australian dreams. Peter Attard, who lives in the suburb with his wife and three children, has said the chance to have a big home is "what makes Australia the best country in the world".

While the state Government delays ordering stage 4 water restrictions, Mr Madden has branded bigger houses water wasters. "When we need to minimise our consumption of things like energy and water, many of us are living in houses that consume more water and more energy than we need," he has said.

But Mr Attard has said home-owners take environmental responsibilities seriously. "I've got a whole grey water system hooked up through my house. It was designed with energy-saving measures," he has said. "The size of our house is none of the minister's business - we've worked hard, we can afford a big place, and we've got a family that fills it!"

Speaking at a planning summit yesterday, Mr Madden has flagged a competition to design smaller, more energy efficient new housing. He has said large designs and extravagant lifestyles were undermining Victoria's environmental requirements for new homes. "We've put in place five-star energy rating into new housing and that's making housing more efficient," Mr Madden said. "(But) to counter that, what people are doing is building bigger housing . . . four bedrooms, a study, the entertainment room, and as well as that they're filling it with electronic equipment."

But Caroline Springs residents Mick and Jasmina Fazlic have said Mr Madden has got it wrong. With daughter Melissa, 12, the couple say all the space in the house is used, and Mr Fazlic runs his business from home. "If you work hard, you make money. You want to enjoy that," he said.

Neville Rodger, a six-year Caroline Springs resident, has agreed size does not govern the efficiency of the house. "We've got 5000-litre water tanks that take in all the water off the roof," Mr Rodger has said. "We're not wasting water at all."

Mr Madden has since softened his stance, assuring residents the state did not dictate house size. "We do not want to tell Victorians how big their houses should be. That is up to them," he has said. Mr Madden, who recently applied to Heritage Victoria to add a family room and two bedrooms to the back of his own home, has said housing obesity is defined by the size of the household relative to the house size. "We want to ensure these houses are built as sustainably as possible, both to limit their impact on the environment, and to keep down the costs of running a household."

The size of an average new detached home in Victoria has risen by 50 per cent in the two decades to 2005, reaching 255 square metres.



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

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

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


Thursday, May 17, 2007


Germany is at the forefront of growth of European coal power, with plans to build 15 new coal-fired plants that run counter to the EU's battle against dirty fuel. The European Union aspires to be the world's first low carbon economy and its emissions trading scheme is designed to limit production of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is emitted in large quantities by burning coal.

But Germany, the world's sixth largest greenhouse gas emitter, is planning 15 new coal plants by 2012 because it is cheaper to burn coal than more environmentally-friendly gas, even with the added cost of offsetting emissions of CO2, a gas that contributes to global warming. "Only if the price of CO2 emission allowances went up to 45 euros ($60.64) a tonne would coal generation become so unattractive as to tip the balance in favour of gas," said Walter Wintersteller of consultancy Booz Allen. The carbon cost of coal burning is now just over 20 euros a tonne.

"Our figures clearly support decisions in favour of coal-based generation," said Stephan Wulf, analyst at private German bank Sal Oppenheim. Gas-fired power plants produce only about half of the CO2 emitted by coal units and are cheaper and quicker to build. But in Germany, gas feedstock is currently 45 percent more expensive than coal, Oppenheim bank said.

Power companies and European policy makers are also wary of being overly dependent on imported Russian gas and of the rising cost of gas, which is linked to high oil prices. "It would not make sense to put in gas turbines when this increases the dependence on Russian gas," Wulf said.

Whereas the European Union imports a quarter of its gas from Russia, coal is available from a variety of sources across the globe, meaning supplies are less vulnerable to disruption. Germany's preference for coal also stems from strong political opposition to nuclear power, which provides a third of all electricity but under current laws must be phased out by the early 2020s. As Germany can draw on domestic brown coal and also better-quality, cleaner-burning imported hard coal to fire its plants, coal is a logical alternative.



Mainstream climatologists who have feared that global warming could have the paradoxical effect of cooling northwestern Europe or even plunging it into a small ice age have stopped worrying about that particular disaster, although it retains a vivid hold on the public imagination. The idea, which held climate theorists in its icy grip for years, was that the North Atlantic Current, an extension of the Gulf Stream that cuts northeast across the Atlantic Ocean to bathe the high latitudes of Europe with warmish equatorial water, could shut down in a greenhouse world. Without that warm-water current, Americans on the Eastern Seaboard would most likely feel a chill, but the suffering would be greater in Europe, where major cities lie far to the north. Britain, northern France, the Low Countries, Denmark and Norway could in theory take on Arctic aspects that only a Greenlander could love, even as the rest of the world sweltered.

All that has now been removed from the forecast. Not only is northern Europe warming, but every major climate model produced by scientists worldwide in recent years has also shown that the warming will almost certainly continue. "The concern had previously been that we were close to a threshold where the Atlantic circulation system would stop," said Susan Solomon, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "We now believe we are much farther from that threshold, thanks to improved modeling and ocean measurements. The Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Current are more stable than previously thought."

After consulting 23 climate models, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in February it was "very unlikely" that the crucial flow of warm water to Europe would stall in this century. The panel did say that the gradual melting of the Greenland ice sheet along with increased precipitation in the far north were likely to weaken the North Atlantic Current by 25 percent through 2100. But the panel added that any cooling effect in Europe would be overwhelmed by a general warming of the atmosphere, a warming that the panel said was under way as a result of rising concentrations of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases. "The bottom line is that the atmosphere is warming up so much that a slowdown of the North Atlantic Current will never be able to cool Europe," said Helge Drange, a professor at the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Bergen, Norway.

Temperate Europe is vulnerable because of its northern perch. The latitude of Britain equals that of frigid Newfoundland. Norway corresponds to the southern half of Greenland. The annual mean temperature difference of 10 to 20 degrees across the North Atlantic (all temperature units shown here are in Fahrenheit) is often entirely attributed to the North Atlantic Current. But in recent years, climatologists have said prevailing winds and other factors independent of the current are responsible for at least half of the temperature anomaly.

For the European warm-water current to stop altogether, the Greenland ice sheet would have to melt fast enough to create a vast freshwater pool in the North Atlantic. Freshwater dilution on that scale would make the current less dense, preventing its two main strands from sinking south of Iceland and west of Norway as they must before they can double back toward the Equator on the underside of what is often called the Atlantic conveyor belt. "The ocean circulation is a robust feature, and you really need to hit it hard to make it stop," said Eystein Jansen, a paleoclimatologist who directs the Bjerknes Center for Climate Research, also in Bergen. "The Greenland ice sheet would not only have to melt, but to dynamically disintegrate on a huge scale across the entire sheet." The worst imaginable collapse would likely take centuries to play out, he said.

Any disruption to the North Atlantic Current - whose volume is 30 times greater than all the rivers in the world combined - would thus occur beyond the time horizon of the United Nations climate panel. The last big freshwater dilution is thought to have occurred 8,200 years ago, when a huge lake atop the retreating North American ice sheet burst through to the Atlantic. For about 160 years, Dr. Jansen said, Europe experienced a severe chill that today would "stress society quite a lot."

If the North Atlantic Current weakened 25 percent this century, fractionally offsetting the effect of global warming, Britain in 2100 would still be about 4 degrees warmer than today, the United Nations panel estimated. In France, the net warming would be 5 degrees and here in Norway a bit more, depending on latitude. When climate modelers simulate a 50 percent slackening of the North Atlantic Current, they still see a net warming in those countries. It is when they completely switch off the current, as they say nature is disinclined to do, that the European climate cools to a level below that of today.

Scientists at the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research near London found that a shutdown of the North Atlantic Current in 2049 would cause temperatures in most of Britain and Norway to fall from a level several degrees warmer than today to a level 4 or 5 degrees chillier than today. That would be enough to curtail agriculture sharply. France, though, would still be slightly warmer than it is now.

In a 1998 cover article for The Atlantic Monthly titled "The Great Climate Flip-flop," William H. Calvin spelled out a worst-case scenario for Atlantic Ocean dynamics and concluded, "I hope never to see a failure of the northernmost loop of the North Atlantic Current, because the result would be a population crash that would take much of civilization with it, all within a decade."

In 2004, the makers of the Hollywood blockbuster "The Day After Tomorrow" imagined the sudden icing over of Manhattan after a disruption in North Atlantic currents. Europe's fate was alluded to by the implied flash-freezing of the British royal family in Balmoral Castle.

Preparing for a cold future has never been high on the political agenda. Perhaps understandably, European leaders have been more preoccupied with responding to the 2003 summer heat wave that killed 15,000 people across France and the need for new dike technology to keep the Netherlands from being inundated by rising seas associated with melting ice caps.

Richard Seager, a senior research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in Palisades, N.Y., said that Europeans should trust what they feel in the air. "Britain and western Europe have had one heat wave after another so far this century," Dr. Seager said. "It's phenomenal. The idea that anyone is worried about a new ice age I find rather odd."



We will continue this column's look at the unintended consequences and knee-slapping irony of our society's mindless lurch toward becoming "green" by considering two new studies on alternative fuels.

From hybrid cars costing far more than they save in the way of fuel economy to Northern latitude forests causing global warming, to mercury-containing compact fluorescent light bulbs potentially turning homes into toxic waste sites, it's becoming more apparent every day that green-ness is not necessarily what it's cracked up to be.

Perhaps you have fallen (as did President Bush and the Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005) for the ethanol lobby's line that ethanol is a "cleaner-burning fuel." You may then be quite chagrinned to learn about a new study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology (April 18) from Stanford University atmospheric scientist Mark Z. Jacobson concluding that ethanol poses substantial health risks. "If every vehicle in the United States ran on fuel made primarily from ethanol instead of pure gasoline, the number of respiratory-related deaths and hospitalizations would likely increase," states the media release for Jacobson's study. "Ethanol is being promoted as a clean and renewable fuel that will reduce global warming and air pollution," said Jacobson, "but our results show that a high blend of ethanol poses an equal or greater risk to public health than gasoline, which already causes significant health damage."

Jacobson's results are based on computer modeling of future air quality based on two scenarios -- a vehicle fleet fueled by gasoline and a vehicle fleet powered by E85, a popular blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Jacobson's modeling found that while E85 vehicles reduce atmospheric levels of two carcinogens -- benzene and butadiene -- they increase the levels of two other carcinogens -- formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. "As a result, cancer rates for E85 are likely to be similar to those for gasoline," Jacobson said.

The study also projected a 4 percent increase in ozone-related deaths nationwide (9 percent for Los Angeles) and increases in asthma-related emergency room visits and respiratory-related hospitalizations. Jacobson concluded by asking, "If we're not getting any health benefits, then why continue to promote ethanol and other biofuels?"

The ethanol lobby's effort to parry to this study amounts to changing the subject. On its Web site, the American Coalition for Ethanol directs the media to another analysis that "shows that ethanol use reduced carbon monoxide and particulate matter emissions by at least one-third." Carbon monoxide and particulate matter, however, are entirely different substances than formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.

Less than a week later, a study published in Chemistry and Industry, a journal of the Society of the Chemical Industry, reported that biodiesel, another alternative motor vehicle fuel, "could increase rather than reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional diesel." According to the media release, researchers compared the emission of greenhouse gases by the two fuels across their overall life cycles from production to combustion in cars.

Though the results showed that biodiesel (derived from rapeseed grown on dedicated farmland) emits nearly the same amount of carbon dioxide as conventional diesel when burned in an engine, growing rapeseed emits significant levels of nitrous oxide (laughing gas), which is 200 to 300 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Unfortunately for the greenhouse gas-crazed European Union, rapeseed-derived biodiesel is the major biofuel used across Europe and was expected to play an important role in helping the EU to meet its greenhouse gas reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. Under a 2003 EU directive, biofuel use is supposed to increase from 2 percent of all transport fuels to 10 percent by 2010. Oops.

But we ought not be too surprised. It's part-and-parcel of the folly of eco-panic -- like the ongoing problem with the fuel additive known as MTBE. In the 1980s, environmentalists pressured Congress to require that so-called oxygenates be added to gasoline to reduce tailpipe emissions. Of the two oxygenates available at the time, MTBE and ethanol, the Environmental Protection Agency blessed MTBE because it was cheaper and easier for refiners to use than ethanol.

What no one counted on was the 1980s-era problem of leaking underground storage tanks (known as LUSTs) at gasoline stations and other storage facilities. The combination of MTBE's high water solubility -- meaning it moves faster than other fuel components in soil -- and the widespread problems of LUSTs turned MTBE into a national groundwater nightmare, which, according to a 2005 American Water Works Association study, could cost $25 billion to $33 billion to clean up.

Moreover, while oxygenated gasoline (also known as "reformulated gasoline" or "RFG") added $0.10 to $0.20 to the price of a gallon of gas, it's unclear whether any public health or environmental benefits were derived from its use. As the National Academy of Sciences reported in 1999, "although long-term trends in peak ozone in the United States appear to be downward, it is not certain that any part of these trends can be significantly attributed to the use of RFG."

While further study of ethanol and biodiesel are needed, the current round of alarming results raises lots of pressing questions that ought to be considered before we take another environmentalist-prodded MTBE-like plunge into The Great Green Unknown.



If all the proposed coal-fired power plants in India and China are set up, the additional carbon dioxide emission will be many times the cuts proposed by the Kyoto Protocol, according to a report by Standard & Poor's.

The Kyoto protocol envisages controlling atmospheric carbon dioxide at the level of 500 parts per million. The report by S&P's Aneesh Prabhu from New York and Kim Eng Tan of Singapore says that coal consumption is likely to grow by 3 per cent every year in India and China over the next 30 years, which is far higher than the 0.6 per cent increase likely in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.

The report says that the Indian stance on the issue is complicating issues. "India believes that it has not significantly contributed to the global stock of greenhouse gases that reside in the atmosphere." Citing the ethical aspects of climate change's economic impact, it contends that uncompensated mitigation by developing countries would slow economic growth and poverty reduction efforts.

Reacting to the report, Greenpeace's energy expert K Srinivas said, "We have submitted a proposal to reduce coal dependence for our energy sector to 10 per cent by 2050. Right now coal accounts for 67 per cent of our energy needs," he said. "Currently India releases around 1,100 million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year. In the next five years this level can double if India goes ahead with the plan to achieve energy sufficiency based on coal-based power," he added.

India is third at the moment in the carbon intensity sweepstakes, which measures carbon dioxide emissions per $1000 of GDP. The S&P report says that various energy efficiency measures can reduce greenhouse gas intensity in India by a third.

Srinivas of Greenpeace feels that energy efficiency can, in fact, reduce our energy demand by 50 per cent. The S&P report adds that coal-fired power plants remain the cheapest and at the same time the dirtiest power source for India and China. "The extent to which rapidly developing nations will be able to shift away from coal-fired generation and towards low-carbon energy investments is crucial to reducing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide."



Nigel Lawson may be in idyllic semi-retirement in France - but, as he tells William Keegan, he still has the stomach for a battle over climate change that could keep him in the headlines alongside his celebrity offspring


Which brings us back to current preoccupations: Lawson's active membership of the high-powered House of Lords economics committee, which has already reflected his sceptical view on global warming. I got the impression that he would have liked at least half of our interview to be about global warming, but trust that he appreciates that there is still a lot of interest in the Chancellorial history of the father of Nigella.

At any rate, he expatiated enthusiastically on the way he was attracted by the 'multi-dimensional' aspects of global warming - the science, the economics and the politics. Whatever the mounting scientific evidence, he believes the economic implications - the choices, the complications, the alternatives - are not fully understood.

'It has always seemed to me that the economic dimension is very important, but also very neglected. People thought that once the science was straightened out - and it is true that there is not a lot of scope for differences in the science - all would follow. But it doesn't. It is not at all clear what makes economic sense - or what is politically feasible.'

Lawson insists that the conventional view - urgent action now to help future generations - is unfair. 'How big a sacrifice is it reasonable to ask people today to bear, in order to benefit generations 100 years hence who'll be substantially better off than we are today?' he asks.

He is fully in sympathy with the Chinese for resisting the Kyoto-type approach. 'I understand their view entirely. I've no time for the Chinese regime, but they have a huge population, most of whom are extremely poor, and the most important thing is to lift them out of poverty because otherwise they'll die in large numbers. They need the fastest possible rate of growth, and that means the cheapest energy. The point is that the Chinese are not prepared to sacrifice the present generation for the generation 100 years hence, and that is absolutely understandable.'

The old Chancellor with a new cause is insistent: 'The idea that the European Union should take the lead [over global warming] and that the UK should lead within the EU only means we suffer, because we lead and others don't follow.'

He is quite determined, and fully aware of the risks to his reputation in the face of what has become a formidable and fashionable consensus. With that familiar twinkle in his eye, he added: 'As a superannuated has-been, I've got involved because political correctness makes it damaging for anyone in politics to speak out. I don't need to worry.'

Indeed, my host went on to say that he has had a big response from the public. 'My postbag, or should I say my email bag, has been overwhelmingly favourable.' So there you are. Watch out Nigella, dad's back in town, and clearly only semi-retired in Gascony.



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

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

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


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

New 'twilight zone' detected around clouds

Clouds are a crucial variable in climate models but it is clear that we still know little about how they work

There seems to be something new under the sun -- in the sky, specifically -- that could complicate scientists' efforts to get a fix on how much the world will warm in the future. Greenhouse gases are not the only things in the air that influence the temperature of our atmosphere. Clouds and small airborne particles called aerosols also play an important and complicated role. And now a new ingredient has been discovered: an extensive and previously unseen "twilight zone" of particles that represents a gradual transition from cloud droplets to dry particles.

In a study published last month, scientists from the Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, Israel, and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., document for the first time that air around clouds that was previously considered clear is actually filled with particles that are neither cloud droplets nor typical dry aerosols such as dust and air pollution. Worldwide, up to 60 percent of the atmosphere labeled as cloud-free in satellite observations is actually filled with this twilight zone of in-between particles, according to the study.

"With the highly sensitive Earth-observing instruments NASA has used since 2000, we can distinguish aerosols and clouds in greater detail than ever before," said Goddard's Lorraine Remer, a co-author on the study. "But the area around clouds has given us trouble. The instruments detected something there, but it didn't match our understanding of what a cloud or an aerosol looked like. What we think we're seeing is a transitional zone where clouds are beginning to form or are dying away, and where humidity causes dry particles to absorb water and get bigger."

Precisely accounting for everything in the atmosphere that can influence changes in global temperatures is critical to scientists' quest to accurately predict what Earth's climate will be in the future. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which assessed the potential risks of human-induced climate change, notes that the overall effect of clouds and aerosols on the amount of heat held in the atmosphere is still uncertain. Finding a previously unknown ingredient in the mix further complicates an already complex picture, but it also holds out the promise of resolving some nagging problems in climate change science.

"The effects of this zone are not included in most computer models that estimate the impact of aerosols on climate," said lead author Ilan Koren of the Weizmann Institute "This could be one of the reasons why current measurements of this effect don't match our model estimates." The study was published April 18 in the American Geophysical Union's Geophysical Research Letters.

Atmospheric scientists have been aware of an indistinct "halo" of particles immediately surrounding individual clouds, which are sometimes visible to the naked eye. These are thought to be aerosols accumulating moisture and growing in size, or a cloud droplet shrinking as it evaporates. But the newly detected twilight zone extends far beyond single clouds to fill an entire cloud field.

The research team first came across evidence for this transitional zone in satellite measurements of aerosols that looked "suspicious," according to Remer. "After working with several years of data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra and Aqua spacecraft, we consistently saw what appeared to be elevated levels of aerosols near clouds. But we couldn't be sure that the instrument wasn't actually detecting stray light bouncing off of the clouds."

The region around clouds is difficult to accurately observe with instruments like MODIS because they operate like our eyes, collecting light reflected by objects below. Scientists interpret the different characteristics of the light received, matching them to known light patterns from different objects such as clouds. But clouds are notorious light scatterers, and the "glare" from the edge of clouds makes it hard to clearly detect what is around them. To be on the safe side, scientists mapping worldwide aerosols with MODIS avoid a 1-kilometer border around clouds.

To find out whether the apparent aerosol detection around clouds in the satellite data was real, Koren and his colleagues, including the late Yoram Kaufman of NASA Goddard, turned to an independent observing system on the ground: the NASA-sponsored Aerosol Robotic Network. The automated instruments in this global network minimize scattered light effects as they track the sun and take readings of the amount and size of aerosols in a narrow column of atmosphere between the instrument and the sun. When the sun is blocked by a cloud, the instrument doesn't make one of its regularly scheduled readings, which provides an indirect measure of the presence of a cloud.

Combining thousands of observations from 15 sites around the world, the researchers found that the amount of aerosol systematically increased as clouds got closer, as did the size of the particles. This held true regardless of whether the site was in a relatively clean setting or one where aerosols from air pollution or biomass burning were common. "We found that the region affected by this cloud field 'twilight zone' extends to tens of kilometers beyond the identified cloud edge," said Koren. "This suggests that 30 to 60 percent of the atmosphere previously labeled as 'cloud-free' is actually affected by cloud-aerosol processes that reflect solar energy back into space."

Introducing this new factor could lead climate scientists to recalculate their best estimates of how Earth's atmosphere holds and reflects solar energy -- the key to accurately predicting the future of global warming. "Current estimates of the effect of aerosols on global temperatures, which is primarily cooling, may be too small because the large contribution from this transition zone has been overlooked," Remer said. "If aerosols are offsetting warming more than we thought, it's possible that warming could increase more than expected in the future if aerosols continue to decline, as has been reported recently."

This summer the scientists hope to get a closer look at the "twilight zone" and the hard-to-detect particles inside it with new measurements by the Aerosol Robotic Network and NASA aircraft.


Changes on Neptune Link Sun and Global Warming

Skeptics of manmade global warming have found further support in research linking solar output with the planet Neptune's brightness and temperatures on Earth. The findings appeared in a recent issue of Geophysical Research Letters. The authors of the article, H.B. Hammel and G.W. Lockwood from the Space Science Institute in Colorado and the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, note that measurements of visible light from Neptune have been taken at the Observatory since 1950. Those measurements indicate that Neptune has been getting brighter since around 1980. And infrared measurements of the planet since 1980 show that Neptune has been warming steadily as well.

The researchers plotted on a graph the changes in visible light from Neptune over the past half-century, changes in temperatures on Earth during that period, and changes in total solar irradiance. The results: The correlation between solar irradiance and Neptune's brightness was nearly perfect; so was the correlation between changes on Earth and solar output, according to a report on the research appearing on World Climate Report, a climate change blog.

"When the sun is more energetic and putting out more energy, the Earth tends to warm up, and when the sun cools down, so does the Earth," World Climate Report notes. "The Hammel and Lockwood article reveals that the same is true out at Neptune - when the sun's energy increases, Neptune seems to warm up and get brighter . . .

"How is it possible that the Earth's temperature is so highly correlated with brightness variations from Neptune? The news from Neptune comes to us just weeks after an article was published showing that Mars has warmed recently as well. "If nothing else, we have certainly learned recently that planets undergo changes in their mean temperature, and while we can easily blame human activity here on the Earth, blaming humans for the recent warming on Mars and Neptune would be an astronomical stretch, to say the least."


Journal abstract follows:

Suggestive correlations between the brightness of Neptune, solar variability, and Earth's temperature

H. B. Hammel & G. W. Lockwood

Long-term photometric measurements of Neptune show variations of brightness over half a century. Seasonal change in Neptune's atmosphere may partially explain a general rise in the long-term light curve, but cannot explain its detailed variations. This leads us to consider the possibility of solar-driven changes, i.e., changes incurred by innate solar variability perhaps coupled with changing seasonal insolation. Although correlations between Neptune's brightness and Earth's temperature anomaly-and between Neptune and two models of solar variability-are visually compelling, at this time they are not statistically significant due to the limited degrees of freedom of the various time series. Nevertheless, the striking similarity of the temporal patterns of variation should not be ignored simply because of low formal statistical significance. If changing brightnesses and temperatures of two different planets are correlated, then some planetary climate changes may be due to variations in the solar system environment.

(From: GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 34, L08203, doi:10.1029/2006GL028764, 2007)


Feeling crowded? Paul Watson is. The founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a militant environmental organization, writes that human overpopulation is "a virus . . . killing our host the planet Earth," and so the number of people living in the world should be slashed by 85 percent.

"No human community should be larger than 20,000 people," Watson insists in a new essay. "We need to radically and intelligently reduce human populations to fewer than one billion." He describes mankind as "the AIDS of the Earth," and calls for an end to cars, planes, and all ships save those powered by sail.

The views of a fanatic? Yes, but Watson is also a co-founder of Greenpeace and a former member of the Sierra Club board of directors, not to mention one of Time magazine's 20th-century environmental "heroes," and even one of the elder George Bush's "Daily Points of Light." Nutty though his support for eliminating 5.5 billion human beings and most modern conveniences may be, it is not likely to hurt his standing among the green elite. On the contrary: Within the environmental movement, antipathy to population growth and technology is utterly conventional.

In their 1990 book "The Population Explosion," for example, Paul and Anne Ehrlich described "the birth of an average American baby" as a "disaster for earth's life-support systems." Al Gore made a similar claim two years later in "Earth in the Balance." A father of four, Gore also declared that "no goal is more crucial to healing the global environment than stabilizing human population" -- i.e., bringing fewer children into the world.

Bemoaning human fecundity has been in vogue at least since 1798, when Thomas Malthus wrote his famous essay arguing that since people multiply faster than the food supply, more babies eventually mean more starvation and misery.

Malthus was wrong (as he later acknowledged), but here we are two centuries later, and neo-Malthusian misanthropy is as fashionable as ever. A report published this week by the Optimum Population Trust, a British think tank, recommends population reduction as the "most effective" strategy to prevent climate change. "The greatest thing anyone . . . could do to help the future of the planet," suggests OPT co-chairman John Guillebaud, "would be to have one less child."

But that's not what the evidence shows. When Malthus was writing, just before the turn of the 19th century, the Earth was home to some 980 million human beings. The global population today is about 6.5 billion, a sevenfold increase. If the alarmists are right -- if more humanity means more suffering and devastation -- our lives should be far more impoverished, degraded, and pitiful than those of our ancestors. But they aren't. By and large, human beings today are healthier, wealthier, safer, cleaner, better fed, and more productive than those who lived in 1800.

Anyone tempted to dismiss such a claim as hopelessly naive should spend some time poring through *The Improving State of the World,* a new book by longtime policy analyst Indur Goklany. A former US delegate to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Goklany has assembled a mountain of data making the case that as nations grow wealthier, the quality of human life rises. Far from being a disaster for our species and the planet, Goklany argues, economic growth and technological change have been a boon for both, making it possible for ever more people to live ever-improving lives in an ever-cleaner environment. That is not to ignore the fact that there is still terrible misery in the world, or that modern industrialized countries far outstrip the developing world in wealth. At the same time, it is in the world's poorest societies that some of the greatest strides are being made.

Take food. Since 1950, the world's population has soared by more than 150 percent. Yet food has become so abundant thanks to the Green Revolution that global food prices (in real terms) have plunged 75 percent. Over the past generation, chronic undernourishment in poor countries has been slashed from 37 percent to 17 percent, despite the fact that there are far more mouths to feed. In the United States, meanwhile, staples such as potatoes and flour have dropped in price (relative to income) by more than 80 percent.

Or take infant mortality. Before industrialization, children died before reaching their first birthday at a rate exceeding 200 per 1,000 live births, or more than one in five. "In the United States as late as 1900," Goklany writes, "infant mortality was about 160; but by 2004 it had declined to 6.6." In developing countries, the fall in mortality rates began later, but is occurring more quickly. In China, for instance, infant mortality has plunged from 195 to less than 30 in the past 50 years. Life expectancy? From an average of 31 years in 1900, it was up to 66.8 worldwide in 2003.s to come later -- nearly eight years later for cancer, nine years for heart diseases, and 11 years for respiratory diseases.

Education, child labor, clean air, freedom, famine, leisure time, global poverty -- by almost any yardstick you choose, humanity is thriving as never before. It is not true that living standards must fall as population rises. On the contrary: Where there are free markets and free minds -- economic growth and technology -- human progress and hope are all but guaranteed.

"Humanity, though more populous and still imperfect, has never been in better condition," Goklany writes. Our lives are better than our ancestors'. Our descendants' can be better than ours.


Hot Air, Cold Cash: Who are the Merchants of Fear?

Leftist writer Alexander Cockburn says below that the usual Leftist claims about science being "bought" are true -- but who are the buyers and who are the bought?

No response is more predictable than the reflexive squawk of the Greenhouse fearmongers that anyone questioning their claims is in the pay of the energy companies. A second, equally predictable retort contrasts the ever-diminishing number of agnostics to the growing legions of scientists now born again to the "truth" that anthropogenic CO2 is responsible for the earth's warming trend, the melting of the icecaps, the rising of the seas, the increase in hurricanes, the decline in penguin fertility and other horrors too numerous for individual citation.

Actually the energy companies have long since adapted to prevailing fantasies, dutifully reciting the whole catechism about carbon-neutrality, sniggering jovially over Tom Friedman's rapturous endorsement of "clean coal", repositioning themselves as eager pioneers in the search for virtuous alternative fuels, settling comfortably into new homes, such as British Petroleum's "Energy Biosciences Institute" on the UC Berkeley Campus, first fruit of a $500 million deal between the oil company and a campus whose founding family - the Hearsts - did after all make its pile in the mining business.

In fact, when it comes to corporate sponsorship of crackpot theories about why the world is getting warmer, the best documented conspiracy of interest is between the Greenhouser fearmongers and the nuclear industry, now largely owned by oil companies, whose prospects twenty years ago looked dark, amid headlines about the fall-out from Chernobyl, aging plants and nuclear waste dumps leaking from here to eternity. The apex Greenhouse fearmongers are well aware that the only exit from the imaginary crisis they have been sponsoring is through a door marked "nuclear power", with a servant's sidedoor labeled "clean coal". James Lovelock, the Rasputin of Gaia-dom, has said that "Nuclear power has an important contribution to make." (I refer those who rear back at the words "imaginary crisis" to my last column on this topic, where I emphasize that there is still zero empirical evidence that anthropogenic production of CO2 is making any measurable contribution to the world's present warming trend. The greenhouse fearmongers rely entirely on unverified, crudely oversimplified computer models to finger mankind's sinful contribution.)

The world's best known hysteric and self promoter on the topic of man's physical and moral responsibility for global warming is Al Gore, a shill for the nuclear industry and the coal barons from the first day he stepped into Congress entrusted with the sacred duty to protect the budgetary and regulatory interests of the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Oakridge National Lab. White House "task forces" on climate change in the Clinton-Gore years were always well freighted by Gore and his adviser John Holdren with nukers like John Papay of Bechtel.

As a denizen of Washington since his diaper years Gore has always understood that threat inflation is the surest tool to plump up budgets and rabblerouse the voters. By the mid Nineties he positioned himself at the head of a strategic and tactical alliance formed around "the challenge of climate change", which had now stepped forward to take Communism's place in the threatosphere essential to all political life. Indeed, it was in the New Republic, a tireless publicist of the Soviet menace in the late 70s and Reagan 80s, that Gore announced in 1989 that the war on warming couldn't be won without a renewal in spiritual values.

The footsoldiers in this alliance have been the grant-guzzling climate modelers and their Internationale, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose collective scientific expertise is reverently invoked by all devotees of the Greenhouse fearmongers' catechism. Aside from the fact that the graveyard of intellectual error is stuffed with the myriad tombstones of "overwhelming scientific consensus", the IPCC has the usual army of functionaries and grant farmers, and the merest sprinkling of actual scientists with the prime qualification of being climatologists or atmospheric physicists.

To identify either the government-funded climate modelers or their political shock troops, the IPCC's panelists, with scientific rigor and objectivity is as unrealistic as detecting the same attributes in a craniologist financed by Lombroso studying a murderer's head in a nineteenth-century prison for the criminally insane. The craniologist' fingers and calipers were programmed by the usual incentives of stipends, grants and professional ego to find in the skull of that murderer ridges, bumps and depressions, each meticulously equated with an ungovernable passion, an ethnic deficit or a mental derangement. The murderer's individual head became a universal model, the particular promoted to an unassailable theory.

At least Lombroso and his retinue measured heads. All Al Gore has ever needed is a hot day or some heavy rain as opportunity to promote the unassailable theory of man-made global warming. Come a rainy summer ('95), a perfectly routine El Nino ('97) or forest fire in Florida ('98) and Gore was there for the photo op, the uplifted finger warning of worse warming to come. '97 also found Gore in Glacier National Park, pointing at Grinnell glacier and telling the press gravely that it was melting, which indeed it has been since the end of the Little Ice Age,1450 to 1800. Mid-latitude glaciers expanded then, just as they contracted in the Medieval Warming Period, hotter than today and thus so vexing to climate alarmists like Michael Mann (now a reigning weather bureaucrat at the IPCC) that they had wiped it off their historical temperature graphs, just like an editor in Stalin's time cropping a team photo of early Bolsheviks to get rid of recently anathematized undesirables.

Man-made global warming theory is fed by pseudo quantitative predictions from climate-careerists working primarily off the big, mega-computer General Circulation Models which include the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the Department of Commerce's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab, a private GCM which used to be at Oregon State before the University of Illinois lured the team away. There's another one at Livermore and one in England, at Hadley.

These are multi-billion dollar computer model programming bureaucracies as intent on self-preservation and budgetary enhancement as cognate nuclear bureaucracies at Oakridge and Los Alamos. They are as unlikely to develop models confuting the hypothesis of human-induced global warming as is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to say the weather is possibly getting a little bit warmer but that there's no great cause for alarm and indeed some reason for rejoicing, since this warming (whose natural causes I discussed in that recent column) gives us a longer growing season and increased CO2, a potent plant fertiliser. Welcome global greening.

Back in the early 1970s, in agencies such as its Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) the UN did nourish some quite radical plans for a new international economic order, one establishing more favorable terms of trade for the poorer nations. By the late 70s all such hopes were vanishing under the neoliberal tide and the Reagan-Clinton era finished them off. By the late 1980s the UN high brass clearly perceived the "challenge" of climate change to be the horse to ride to build up the organization's increasingly threadbare moral authority, and to claim a role beyond that of being an obvious American errand boy. In 1988, the United Nations Environment Program, originally formed in 1972, was united in unholy bureaucratic matrimony with the UN's World Meteorological Organization, giving us the IPCC.

The cycle of alarmist predictions is now well established. Not so long before some new UN moot on What To Do About the Weather, a prominent fearmonger like James Hansen or Michael Mann will make a tremulous statement about the accelerating tempo and dimensions of the warming crisis.

The cry is taken up by the IPCC, (and in the 1990s, by the Clinton/Gore White House), with the press releases headlined by the New York Times, with exactly the same intentional lack of critical evaluation as that newspaper's recycling of the government's lies about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. Months and years later come the qualifications and the retractions, long after new contracts and grants have been awarded, and fresh legions hired to staff the ever-expanding empires of the threatmongers. (The Pentagon has at last caught on, and instructed by a glitzy admiral-led study from the Center for Naval Analysis, is building the intellectual foundation for huge new budget increases based on hypothetical connections between global warming and burgeoning, famine-driven terrorism.)

When measured reality doesn't cooperate with the lurid model predictions, new compensating "factors" are concocted, such as the briefly popular sulfate aerosols of the 1990os, recruited to cool off the obviously excessive heat predicted by the models. Or the existing, inconvenient data are water-Xboarded into submission as happened with the ice-core samples that fail to confirm the modellers' need for record temperatures today as opposed to half a million years ago. As Richard Kerr, Science magazine's man on global warming remarked, "Climate modelers have been 'cheating' for so long it's become almost respectable."

The consequence? As with the arms spending spiral powered by the Cold War merchants of fear, vast amounts of money will be uselessly spent on programs that won't work against an enemy that doesn't exist. Meanwhile, real and curable environmental perils are scanted or ignored. Hysteria rules the day, drowning urgently needed environmental cleanup in our backyard while smoothing the way for the nuclear industry to reap its global rewards.



Eminent Italian scientist puts the boot into the IPCC

President George Bush meets Pope Benedict in June. Some Vatican authorities are lobbying the Pope to press the U.S. administration to act on global warming. "It's not for me to say what the Pope and President Bush should discuss, but certainly they will discuss current issues and therefore I imagine and I hope they will [discuss climate change]," said Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Vatican organization charged with developing policy for the environment and social issues.

Cardinal Martino spoke at the start of "Climate Change and Development," a Vatican study seminar two weeks ago designed to "search for solutions to the phenomenon of global warming." The 80 scientists, politicians, theologians and bishops in attendance were asked to consider that: "Global warming may bring about not only the imposition of drastic corrective means to protect the natural environment, but also a grave threat that destabilizes the world." By the seminar's end, the 80 participants had heard dire warnings from some experts, but they heard much more, too -- that global warming is natural, the cause of warming being primarily solar and that it can be beneficial.

During the two-day event, tensions were often high -- the Catholic News Service, which interviewed participants at the private event, described how one pastor needed to calm down a distraught participant in the corridor, and used words like "bitter" and "heated" to set the early mood at the seminar. No one left the seminar thinking that the science of global warming is settled. To the dismay of those hoping that the high-level group would inspire a Church-led climatechange crusade, the Cardinal, in closing the seminar, urged caution in taking any position on global warming.

The man most responsible for quelling any potential call to action is one of the Vatican's own, Antonino Zichichi, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Dr. Zichichi, who made the seminar's most powerful presentation, set its tone. It amounted to a damning indictment of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the body responsible for most of the dire warnings that the press reports daily. Dr. Zichichi demonstrated "that models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are incoherent and invalid from a scientific point of view," reported Zenit, a news service that acts as an extension of the Vatican administration.

"On the basis of actual scientific fact 'it is not possible to exclude the idea that climate changes can be due to natural causes,' and that it is plausible that 'man is not to blame.' " Dr. Zichichi has concluded that solar activities are responsible for most of the global warming that earth has experienced -- he estimates that man-made causes of global warming account for less than 10% -- and his conclusions have gravitas: This man is the president of the World Federation of Scientists, past president of the European Physical Society, past president of the Italian National Institute for Nuclear and Subnuclear Physics, and past president of the NATO Science Committee for Disarmament Technology.

He is also Italy's most renowned scientist, credited with the discovery of nuclear antimatter, the discovery of the "time-like" electromagnetic structure of the proton, the discovery of the effective energy in the forces which act between quarks and gluons, and the proof that, despite its complex structure, it is impossible to break the proton.

"There is a need to do more work, with a lot more rigour, to better the models being used," he argued in a 60-page written paper that accompanied his speech to the seminar. The Vatican seminar was extraordinary, participants agree: Faith and reason met in inspired discussion and debate about global warming, and despite the occasional heat, came away the wiser for it.

How different from the debate on climate change conducted by environmental groups, or, for that matter, the Parliament of Canada, the U.S. Congress or the German Reichstag, where global warming discussions rely on faith alone, and result in one-sided dogma.



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

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

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


Tuesday, May 15, 2007


The 2007 IPCC Statement for Policymakers (SPM) makes the following finding, "Eleven of the last twelve years (1995 -2006) rank among the 12 warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature (since 1850)" [based on "The average of near surface air temperature over land, and sea surface temperature."]. and "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures..."

This claim, which is repeated throughout the media reports on the IPCC report, however, is disingenuous. Other analyses of global heat system changes do not support the claim of continued warming of the climate system. Climate Science has discussed ocean heat content changes and has reported on the recent correction which concluded that the upper ocean did not cool during this time period, although the upper ocean has not warmed either which is at variance to what is expected from the IPCC Statement of Policymakers.

In this weblog, we report on data that was conveniently ignored in the 2007 IPCC SPM in their report on whether or not the climate system is continuing to warm. The data are the global average temperatures for different layers in the atmosphere from satellite measurements of the Earth's microwave emissions by Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) This data can be used to assess whether the warming trends reported in the 2007 IPCC SPM have continued in recent years.

As shown clearly in Figure 7 on the RSS website, the following conclusions can be made: 1. Since about 2002 there has been NO statistically significant global average warming in the lower and middle troposphere, and 2. Since about 1995 there has been NO statistically significant cooling in the stratosphere.

The IPCC SPM conclusion that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal" is wrong as it ignores the lack of such warming in recent years by these other metrics of climate system heat changes. Their focus on the global average near surface temperature trends neglects to report that there are major issues with the robustness of this climate metric of global warming as reported in the papers cited in:

Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: "Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends". J. Geophys. Res. in press,

many of which were available to the writers of the IPCC SPM but conveniently ignored. At the very least, the lack of recent tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling in the RSS data and the warming claimed for the near surface air temperatures conflicts with the multi-decadal global climate models in terms of how these temperatures are predicted to change.

Perhaps global warming will begin again. However, the neglect to include the recent lack of tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling (both of which are predicted to continue quasi-linearly for the coming decades by the multi-decadal global climate models, except for major volcanic eruptions) results in a seriously biased report by the IPCC. It has been disappointing that the media so far has chosen to parrot the statements in the IPCC SPMs rather than do investigative reporting on these issues.



The Optimum Population Trust's claim that having a large family is an eco-crime exposes the anti-human streak in green politics

Having large families is an eco-crime according to the Optimum Population Trust (OPT). 'The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet is have one less child', the Trust says. It is actually modest compared to the more extreme versions of environmentalist hostility to humankind. 'Wildlife has more right to live on the earth than humans do', according to one group, which goes on to say: 'Humans are too great a threat to life on earth: they should be phased out.' At least that is the view of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, which hopes our will be the last generation of humans

Then there is the Church of Euthanasia, with its snappy slogan: Save the Planet, Kill Yourself. Moderate environmentalists might object that the deep ecologists are on the fringes, and not typical of the movement. But if the Church of Euthanasia is off in the sidelines, egging on lonely teenagers to top themselves while it trolls suicide websites, the OPT's message that we are the problem is mainstream. The OPT's trustees include the Green Party veterans Jonathan Porritt and Sara Parkin, the climate change diplomacy veteran Sir Crispin Tickell as well as the actress Susan Hampshire.

As the chattering classes' preoccupation with climate change reaches fever pitch, the extremists feel more confident to draw conclusions that others baulk from. That is because the extremists are only drawing out the underlying philosophy of environmentalism to make it more explicit. Indeed, the deep ecologists pre-date the more contemporary environmentalists. The current philosophy of 'sustainable development' was framed precisely because it was thought that the original aim of zero growth was too much for people to get their heads around. The underlying philosophy is that mankind is the pathological species, the scourge of the planet. Since James Lovelock coined the deeply mystical concept of Gaia - of a natural balance - mankind has been cast in the role of the disturber of the balance. At its most extreme, the misanthropism of a John Gray or a Jared Diamond looks forward to 'nature's revenge', the point where the laws of nature reassert themselves in the mass extinction of the human race.

Lots of lazily left-wing people think that they can reconcile their ambition to improve the lot of the poor with the goal of carbon reduction. South African academic and activist Patrick Bond thinks of himself as an environmentalist - though in his commitment to social redress he imagines that we can reduce world greenhouse gas emissions and get electricity supply to two billion people who currently do not get it (apparently there are some savings to be made in aluminium smelting which will help). Even American leftists imagine that they can rally to the cause of the working class and still cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Most environmentalists do not agree, thinking that any answer must involve 'horrendous costs to American industry and lifestyle'. There is a default to extremism that is written into environmentalism. And that is not surprising. If you hold that human life is worth less than the natural order, then you will have less respect for its sanctity.

The ecological outlook is an expression of middle-class rage at the masses, which from time to time becomes explicit. One example is Jon Ablewhite, currently serving time at Her Majesty's Prison Lowdham Grange for disinterring the corpse of Gladys Hammond, whose son-in-law owned Darley Oaks Farm where guinea pigs were bred. Ablewhite and his friends' six-year long hate campaign knew few restraints because the animal rights activists started with the assumption that people's interests were inferior. 'Jon is driven by the desire to right a wrong', said his mother, widow to a vicar and missionary.

Unabomber Ted Kaczynski campaigned for years against the technocratic society, posting bombs to electronics companies, while hiding out in a shack in the woods until he was arrested in the late 1990s. Environmentalism, like all political discourses that take shortage as their starting point, will tend towards misanthropic solutions. Any movement that begins with the view that mankind must be curtailed to reduce the pressure on the environment will have to start thinking how it will select those who must make sacrifices.



They blame their own destructiveness on others

Charles Schumer wants to investigate gas prices. Look in the mirror, Chuck. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. That's the Democrats' energy policy. Considering that nothing much has changed on the supply side while demand continues to increase worldwide, it would be a mystery if gas prices did not reach record heights - especially in the face of continued boutique fuel mandates, NIMBY refinery bans, greenie restrictions on domestic energy development, etc.

On Monday, gas prices surged to a nationwide record average of $3.07 per gallon, according to the Lundberg Survey, breaking the previous record of $3.03. Sen. Schumer, like most Democrats, thinks it's the oil companies' fault. "The looming question is, are they putting money into maintenance and keeping up refineries as they should?" Schumer asked.

Our refineries are doing more than ever, but their numbers are dwindling and no new ones are being built. The reason is not greed, but cost and regulations. From 1994 to 2003, the refining industry spent $47.4 billion, not to build new refineries, but to bring existing ones into compliance with ever new and stringent environmental rules. That's where those allegedly excessive profits go. In 2006, the blending of ethanol into gasoline reached a new high of more than five billion gallons and production if new clean-burning ultra low-sulfur diesel fuel topped a record 2.6 million barrels a day at the end of last year. The fact is that U.S. refining capacity has been growing at about 1% a year for the past decade - the equivalent of adding a mid-size refinery every year. Since 1996, U.S. refiners have expanded capacity by more than 2 million barrels a day This is a remarkable achievement in the face of environmental mandates setting new ethanol usage and low-sulfur requirements.

But the last major refinery built in the U.S. was in Garyville, La., in 1976 and the ones we have are getting older, no matter how well they're maintained. Fifty out of 194 refineries were shut down from 1990 to 2004. There is no slack in the system. Like the cars they fuel, periodic maintenance us required. At least we build new cars.

Earlier this year, AAA of Northern California reported a 45-cent-a-gallon jump in price at the pump in one month. But gasoline production in California was off 6% for the week ended March 2 as refineries shut down for the very maintenance Schumer demands. Lundberg cites at least a dozen additional partial shutdowns in the U.S. and internationally that have cut refining capacity. One of the nation's largest refineries, a BP plant in Indiana that processes more than 400,000 barrels of oil daily, will not be operating at full capacity for several months for unexpected repairs.

Schumer has asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate if rising gas prices are the result of oil company malfeasance or even a conspiracy. Last year, he wrote a letter to ask the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. In its response, the FTC said two previous investigations into unfair business practices by the oil industry found no evidence of wrongdoing. But there's plenty of wrongdoing in the Senate, which has done nothing to increase domestic energy supplies or refining capacity. In 2005, Sen. James Inhofe introduced the Gas PRICE Act, which would have streamlined permitting procedures, reduced boutique fuel mandates and offered closed U.S. military bases as sites for new refineries. Where was Sen. Schumer's support?

The only thing we we'd like to hear from Sen. Schumer is just where in New York state he'd like a new refinery to be built and what incentives he is prepared to offer.


Schwarzenegger can't win: Still not green enough

He should have known that there is no pleasing the Greenies. But his critics are probably right in saying that his Greenie act is only for the purpose of photo opportunities

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has boosted his environmental profile by signing global warming agreements with states and foreign governments, most recently one this month with the Australian state of Victoria. Schwarzenegger officials say the agreements are intended to force the federal government to take a more stringent approach to tackling global warming. But some critics note the signings have given Schwarzenegger opportunities for photo-ops with foreign leaders, and Democrats have raised concerns that the Republican governor is using the deals to predispose California to a market-based system in which companies can buy their way out of emissions reductions. Each of the agreements Schwarzenegger has signed calls for research into how California companies can trade emissions credits with firms in other regions.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, said he fears Schwarzenegger is advancing a global trading system well before California regulators agree to use that approach. Nunez co-wrote last year's landmark Assembly Bill 32 requiring a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. "I would be much more confident if the governor put the brakes on carbon-trading agreements with other entities and stepped on the gas on the implementation of AB 32, which requires real reductions in emissions levels," Nunez said. "I wish there would be more focus on emissions reductions and less on carbon credit markets."

In negotiating last year's law, Democrats wanted to focus heavily on strict emissions caps in California, while Schwarzenegger sought to allow businesses to purchase credits if they could not reduce their greenhouse gas pollution in time. The final law said California may use emissions credits as an option but never committed the state to doing so. The California Air Resources Board is responsible for examining a market-based solution and determining its necessity.

The five deals signed by Schwarzenegger range from a pact with 10 Northeast states to coordinate a trading system to this month's deal with Victoria, an agreement to share environmental research and align carbon-trading programs. The governor also has penned deals with Manitoba, the United Kingdom and four other Western states along similar lines. Linda Adams, Schwarzenegger's Environmental Protection Agency secretary, said state regulators are pursuing a variety of global warming solutions that include emissions caps, incentives and trading systems. "We're not pushing the market approach on anyone, but in our design we want to make sure the door is open when and if California and others move toward a market system," Adams said. "The European Union is very anxious for California to enter into their trading system because they feel -- and I agree -- that an international carbon market is one of the tools that we need to address this problem."

Nunez and some environmentalists believe the deals are promotional for the governor. Schwarzenegger's agreement with the United Kingdom last year led to two major photo opportunities with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. His office sent out photos of his Victoria signing with Australian, American and California flags in the backdrop. Deep within the Victoria agreement was the disclaimer that it "is not intended to create any legally binding rights or obligations."

But Adams said the agreements have significant value in pressuring the Bush administration and foreign governments to take a stronger stance on greenhouse gases. "We send a strong message not only to the U.S. government but other federal governments that states and provinces are not waiting to join this international fight," Adams said. "We're going to move forward with or without them."

Businesses support the governor's efforts to broaden a potential network of emissions credit trading partners because it increases the number of compliance options. "If there's a choice between making a huge investment for some needed emissions reduction (in California) vs. purchasing an offset from somebody making a reduction somewhere else at a lower cost, we'd like the opportunity to do that lower-cost option," said Dorothy Rothrock of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association. Emissions credits allow some companies to phase in cleaner equipment rather than having to purchase new machinery all at once, said Terry Tamminen, the former Schwarzenegger EPA director who still advises the governor. He said criticism of the governor's exploration into market solutions is "just politics." "Certainly, it's not a preconceived outcome," Tamminen said of a market-based approach to AB 32. "But the whole world is moving in that direction. We'd be idiots not to examine this and consider how it might work and how it might be a tool that might help us."

Bill Magavern, senior legislative advocate for the Sierra Club, said the governor has raised consciousness about global warming by signing deals with other states and nations. But he said emissions trading is unproven. "I think the governor's rhetoric on global warming solutions has been unbalanced because he talks so much about emissions trading," Magavern said. "The Air Resources Board is also working on standards, so in some ways it's more a presentation problem. But clearly the governor is enamored with emissions trading."

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, rebuked Schwarzenegger in October when the governor issued an executive order directing the ARB to develop a market-based program. Schwarzenegger also drew criticism from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office in February for requesting 24 permanent positions at the ARB be used to implement a market-based greenhouse gas system. Nunez said the governor has helped bring attention to AB 32 through his agreements. But he warned that Schwarzenegger may be "putting the cart before the horse." "The law talks about emissions reductions, not about avoiding compliance by buying offsets," Nunez said. "It's ultimately the administration that needs to focus on the law."


"Science" magazine comes a cropper once again

How could they publish such an absurdity? Fusion on a table top -- with the vastly high temperatures that would require??? Their greenie religion has completely shut down their brains. Temperature isn't heat but even so a very melted tabletop would tend to be expected. One would have thought that they would have learnt caution from the unreplicable Fleischmann-Pons "cold fusion" claims of the '80s. I suppose we should be thankful that "Science" has at last followed the matter up

The plot continues to thicken around the bizarre case of a Purdue University professor who claims to have created nuclear fusion using a revolutionary and unproven process based on sound waves

Purdue released a statement confirming a New York Times story that the university has reopened the investigation of possible misconduct by professor Rusi P. Taleyarkhan. The new inquiry, launched at the urging of a congressional subcommittee, is the latest effort to resolve allegations that Taleyarkhan used questionable methods in attempting to substantiate his claims relating to bubble fusion, also known as sonofusion.

Taleyarkhan has been at the center of a storm of controversy since 2001, when he set out to publish his findings on sonofusion while working as a researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Taleyarkhan claimed that he had succeeded in producing an energy-releasing nuclear fusion reaction by bombarding a beaker of acetone with ultrasonic pulses.

The theory behind sonofusion is that ultrasound affects liquid by producing then crushing microscopic bubbles at such a rapid rate that the resulting heat causes surrounding atoms to fuse together. Taleyarkhan's experiments involved first bombarding the acetone with neutrons, to enhance the effect of the sonic waves.

Fellow researchers at Oakridge were unable to replicate the experiment, however, and several scientists who had been invited to review Taleyarkhan's research were publicly critical of his work. However, the scientist succeeded in having his paper published by the academic journal "Science" in 2002. He continued his research after accepting a post on the nuclear engineering faculty of Purdue University in Indiana.

Taleyarkhan again came under fire following the publication of papers in 2005 that appeared to substantiate his claims to achieving a successful nuclear sonofusion reaction. While Taleyarkhan hailed the publications as independent confirmation of his findings, allegations were made that the subsequent experiments were conducted by researchers connected to Taleyarkhan , using Taleyarkhan's own apparatus, and that Taleyarkhan had deliberately omitted his name as a coauthor of the reports. Purdue launched an investigation, later exonerating Taleyarkhan of any wrongdoing.

Now a congressional subcommittee has intervened, calling for Purdue to reopen the investigation. The House Committee on Science and Technology's investigations and oversight subcommittee , chaired by North Carolina Democratic Congressman Brad Miller, conducted a review of Purdue's investigation and released a report that is highly critical of the university's handling of the matter.

Miller's subcommittee has cited concerns over the public funds used to support Taleyarkhan's research as the basis of its interest in the case. However, Taleyarkhan and his supporters have questioned those motives, suggesting that politics may be taking precedence over science. If Taleyarkhan's desktop experiments were verified, the existence of a low-cost method for generating vast quantities of clean energy could potentially make conventional nuclear reactors obsolete



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

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

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


Monday, May 14, 2007


A two-week UN climate conference has ended in disarray. Germany's Secretary of the Environment, Sigmar Gabriel, refused to sign the final document on behalf of the European Union. For him and others, the final document did not go far enough. The text "does not only fall behind our expectations, but even weakens the promises agreed by the international community in Johannesburg hardly five years ago", Gabriel warned.

The Europeans had failed, among other things, with their initiative to obligate all countries to deliver long-term energy plans by 2010. The 130 odd developing and emerging countries in the Group of 77 (G77) plus China rejected the EU proposal because it would have subjected their energy policy under the control of industrial nations. Canada, now lead by a conservative government backed the the G77-countries and welcomed the meagre final declaration.

In contrast, the EU was supported by spokesperson for women and native tribes who also demanded a greater sense of responsibility in environmental and climatic questions and stricter restrictions of energy consumption. In the name of the EU, Germany also objected to the vote of the next CSD.



Alex Salmond moved a vital step closer to becoming First Minister of Scotland yesterday after his party struck a deal to work with the Greens. The agreement will ensure that the two Green members of the Scottish Parliament vote for him and support his appointments. A new presiding officer should also be in place next week after Alex Fergusson, the Conservative MSP, confirmed he will stand for the post.

In return for co-operation from the Greens, the Scottish National Party will back a climate change bill as an early measure and will nominate a Green MSP to chair a Holyrood committee. However, the Greens will not be obliged to back SNP leader Mr Salmond in a confidence vote or to support his party's budget plans. The arrangement is a relatively loose form of co-operation, but the Greens have indicated that they would be prepared to consider a more formal pact if the Liberal Democrats changed their stance and agreed to take part in government. But if, as expected, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives abstain in the vote for First Minister, the SNP will have enough votes with the Greens to appoint Mr Salmond.

Despite the agreement, Labour last night refused to concede that he now seems certain to be elected to the top job next week. But Mr Salmond said the deal would set the tone for the four years of the new parliament, adding: "The Scottish Greens represent a substantial body of opinion in Scotland, regardless of MSP numbers."

Robin Harper, the co-leader of the Greens, said the arrangement laid the foundations for "progressive new politics" in Scotland. He added: "These constructive discussions have identified many shared objectives, including blocking nuclear power, tackling climate change and extending the powers of the Scottish Parliament." In a signed statement, the two parties agreed to oppose the building of nuclear power stations and would seek to use the planning process in Scotland to block new plants. The talks between the Greens and the SNP were sparked by last week's election result, which left the Nationalists with 47 seats, one more than Labour.


What Mikhail Gorbachev reveals about Greenie motivations

The most remarkable aspect of the man-made global warming claim is the lack of solid scientific evidence for it. Yet there are those whose apparent goal it is to advance this theory at all costs. Blatant in their disregard of the facts, they try to convince as many as would believe of the real nature of this alleged danger. But since this activism does not rest on scientific evidence or hard facts, it must be driven by motives other than those publicly stated. This much at least should be obvious, but sadly far too many people have failed to make this inference. Blinded by fear, they have not considered the possibility that those fanning the flames of hysteria may harbor ulterior motives.

To see just what those motives may be, we need to go no further than Mikhail Gorbachev whose remarkable political transformation offers a striking insight into the true character of the man-made global warming movement. Formerly leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev is now one of the world's most vocal global warming activists. This is an unlikely role indeed for a man who during his years in power showed no inclination to address environmental issues. This could not have been for lack of opportunity, given that he presided over a country which suffered from extensive ecological damage wrought by years of gross disregard and mismanagement. Had he had the inclination, there was much to do about the lamentable state of his country's environmental condition. Gorbachev, however, not only did nothing, but brazenly continued the Soviet regime's ecologically disastrous policies.

But nothing revealed his true attitudes more glaringly than the explosion of a nuclear reactor at Chernobyl. His first reaction was not to launch a clean-up operation, but to conceal the fact. Initially he denied that anything happened at all. Then, when radioactive clouds reached countries hundreds of kilometers away, he claimed that it was only a 'minor' accident. It was only under the pressure of growing evidence that Gorbachev finally admitted the truth. While mounting the cover-up, the time and energy that could have been used to contend with the unfolding ecological catastrophe were irretrievably lost.

But that was not all, for Gorbachev also decided to sacrifice the lives of thousands whom he refused to evacuate or even notify of the danger. Scores died and countless others suffered from diseases caused by exposure to radiation. Many could have been saved had Gorbachev done the decent thing. Chernobyl thus stands as tragic evidence of Gorbachev's disdain both for nature and human life which, sadly, is all too often found in those who espouse the communist worldview.

Yet today this man is one of the world's most prominent eco-lobbyists and an ardent proponent of global warming. The question is how we are to reconcile Gorbachev's past behavior of environmental destructiveness with his present-day activism. We would do well to ponder this, because the answer sheds light not only on a wily personal reinvention, but also on the motives of those responsible for the creation and spreading of the global warming hysteria.

The many interviews and statements made by Gorbachev since the collapse of the Soviet Union offer important clues. What they essentially reveal is that despite the ignominious fall of communism, Gorbachev has not changed his basic ideological convictions. In other words, this life-long party apparatchik remains an unrepentant communist to this day. This should surprise no one, since people rarely change their thinking later in life, especially if they are as willful and ideologically driven as Gorbachev apparently was. After all, it was his ideological rigor that enabled him to successfully negotiate the dangerous waters of Soviet politics and emerge as his country's supreme leader barely a week after his fifty-fourth birthday.

But ejected from power less than seven years later, he faced a challenge. Unwilling to retire, he needed to find a new outlet for his political energies. This posed a problem, because Gorbachev could not afford to openly fly the banner of his communist convictions, since a declaration of allegiance to this well-discredited ideology would have resulted in his marginalization if not ridicule.

To remain credible, Gorbachev had to look for a more respectable platform from which to continue his efforts. This he quickly found in environmentalism and less than two years after his fall from power he founded Green Cross International, a Geneva-based eco lobby group.

It is not at all surprising that Gorbachev--like so many others on the left--has found environmentalism so attractive given that it in a furtive way tends toward the very essence of socialism. It is precisely this covert quality that makes this brand of activism so palatable to true believers in the post-communist era.

Environmentalism's socialist tendencies are already inherent in its starting premise which is that this world is headed for destruction because of the way modern societies conduct their life and affairs. The principal culprits are the business enterprise--whose relentless pursuit of profit has ecologically devastating consequences--and the masses whose excessive and irresponsible consumption exacerbate the already precarious situation. The only way to avert the looming catastrophe, then, is to rein in the greedy business and direct people's behavior in environmentally conducive ways. This naturally can only be done by a government properly equipped for the great task at hand.

The net result of environmental activism is thus an empowered state exercising close oversight over the business and private spheres. In Marx's parlance, the means of production--and indeed nearly aspects of societal life--are placed under state control. This is nothing if not socialism rising, and since it also happens to be something Gorbachev has been striving for all of his life, it should come as no surprise that he has been an enthusiastic proponent ever since Marxism-Leninism became a byword for failure.

But while even the most basic forms environmentalism have proven themselves to be a potent vehicle for advancing socialist ideals, the potential of global warming has exceeded almost all expectations in this regard. All of the elements of the harrowing scenario it so vividly paints--its global scope, its imminence, its catastrophic potential--point toward the need for immediate and drastic measures on a wide scale. It should not take very long to realize that such a comprehensive response can only be mounted by a state armed with vast powers to decree, to regulate and to tax, powers which the devotees are only too eager to grant.

It is precisely for these reasons that the idea of man-made global warming so appeals to Mikhail Gorbachev who never did anything for the environment when he was in the position to do so. It is as paradoxical as it is revealing that this man who now parades as an angel of ecological salvation is by virtue of his actions at Chernobyl and elsewhere responsible for more environmental destruction than any other person alive.

The case of Mikhail Gorbachev carries an outstanding educational value, because it shows what the global warming alarmism is ultimately about. The glaring deceitfulness and duplicity on display here could well serve as emblems for the whole movement whose real objectives are sharply at variance with its promulgated goals.

We can only regret that President Reagan is no longer around to admonish Gorbachev for his spurious activism in the same way he chastised him for his dictatorial high-handedness by the Berlin Wall. One can almost picture Ronald Reagan standing in Kyoto's main square rebuking this old communist thus:

Mr. Gorbachev, if there is any honesty left in your heart, take off your mask. Do not exploit lies to further your devious agenda. Tell us candidly what your goals are so that we can have an honest debate. Stop erecting those bogus smokescreens and stop scaring the gullible with pseudo-science. Mr. Gorbachev, take off that ugly green mask. And so should the whole man-made global warming lobby.


The Solar Conveyor Has Slowed

Post lifted from Classical Values . See the original for links

Reliapundit left a comment at my blog about this story which I think covers my theory of why we are seeing a big push for global warming taxes. [Emphasis added]

the political schmucks running agw crowd are NOT dumb.

they KNOW we are near the end of this warming cycle, and that's EXACTLY why they are pushing so dang FURIOUSLY HARD to get agw taxes and regulations in place ASAP ASAP ASAP - because in a few years it will be cooling --- they want to hamper capitalism/free markets / industrialization/globalization --- it's always been the left's long term goal - and they KNOW that it's NOW OR NEVER!

And now the rest of the story: NASA says the solar conveyor has slowed. The solar conveyor speed predicts the sunspot level two cycles in advance, about 20 years.

"Normally, the conveyor belt moves about 1 meter per second--walking pace," says Hathaway. "That's how it has been since the late 19th century." In recent years, however, the belt has decelerated to 0.75 m/s in the north and 0.35 m/s in the south. "We've never seen speeds so low."

According to theory and observation, the speed of the belt foretells the intensity of sunspot activity ~20 years in the future. A slow belt means lower solar activity; a fast belt means stronger activity. The reasons for this are explained in the Science@NASA story Solar Storm Warning.

"The slowdown we see now means that Solar Cycle 25, peaking around the year 2022, could be one of the weakest in centuries," says Hathaway.

What does all this have to do with the climate on earth? Let us look at the climate when sunspot levels were low:

...the Sporer, Maunder, and Dalton minima coincide with the colder periods of the Little Ice Age, which lasted from about 1450 to 1820. More recently it was discovered that the sunspot number during 1861-1989 shows a remarkable parallelism with the simultaneous variation in northern hemisphere mean temperatures (2). There is an even better correlation with the length of the solar cycle, between years of the highest numbers of sunspots. For example, the temperature anomaly was - 0.4 K in 1890 when the cycle was 11.7 years, but + 0.25 K in 1989 when the cycle was 9.8 years. Some critics of the theory of man-induced global warming have seized on this discovery to criticize the greenhouse gas theory.

All this evokes the important question of how sunspots affect the Earth's climate. To answer this question, we need to know how total solar irradiance received by the Earth is affected by sunspot activity.

Intuitively one may assume the that total solar irradiance would decrease as the number of (optically dark) sunspots increased. However direct satellite measurements of irradiance have shown just the opposite to be the case. This means that more sunspots deliver more energy to the atmosphere, so that global temperatures should rise.

If sunspots are going to decline in the near future the global warming era may be over. Especially if the sun's effect on Clouds turns out to be affected by solar activity as some scientists have experimentally proved. So are things warming up now?

1. Since about 2002 there has been NO statistically significant global average warming in the lower and middle troposphere, and

2. Since about 1995 there has been NO statistically significant cooling in the stratosphere.

The IPCC SPM conclusion that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal" is wrong as it ignores the lack of such warming in recent years by these other metrics of climate system heat changes...

Well what do you know? In addition global temperatures have been on the decline for the last few years. We had a spike in 2004 I believe, but otherwise temperatures have been declining since about 2000 or so.

Obama's Auto History

CAFE is not the cure for what ails American car makers

Barack Obama blew into Detroit on Monday, where he offered a tart indictment of "the tyranny of oil" and, by extension, the U.S. automotive industry. "For years, while foreign competitors were investing in more fuel-efficient technology for their vehicles, American auto makers were spending their time investing in bigger, faster cars," he declared. "And whenever an attempt was made to raise our fuel-efficiency standards, the auto companies would lobby furiously against it, spending millions to prevent the very reform that could've saved their industry." Where to begin?

The Democratic Presidential candidate was extolling Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which require auto makers to produce cars that get a certain mileage across their entire fleet. These mandates currently stand at 27.5 miles per gallon for passenger vehicles and 22.5 miles to the gallon for "light trucks" like minivans and SUVs. They were enacted in 1975 on the heels of the Arab oil embargo, and raising them has now become an all-purpose political gesture toward reducing carbon emissions and dependence on foreign oil.

Mr. Obama would ratchet up CAFE standards by 4% a year beginning in 2009, or about one mile per gallon per year. Congressional Democrats are pushing legislation that would raise them to 35 miles per gallon by 2020, and the Bush Administration is hawking its own, more modest plan as well. This is all the triumph of politics over experience.

Since 1974, domestic fuel economy has risen by about 60%. The gains initially came through sharp reductions in the size and weight of cars; think of the Pinto or Chevette. Since the 1990s, improvements have been driven by technological advances. But over the same period, oil imports have increased; Americans use more gasoline than ever and hence emit more as well.

That's because the indirect tax of mileage standards is an exceptionally inefficient way to influence consumption. CAFE doesn't affect how many vehicles are on the road (a figure that keeps going up). And by making cars and trucks more fuel-efficient, it may encourage people to drive more. If you get more miles to the gallon, then driving becomes cheaper, so driving demand goes up and offsets any overall efficiency gains.

Designing high mileage vehicles is relatively easy--they're all over Europe--and such cars have been introduced to the American market in the past. Consumers have plenty of such options to choose from now. But aside from fads like the Prius, Americans have proved unwilling to buy them. The miles-per-gallon advances over the last 30 years have translated into bigger, more powerful cars with more features. These are the vehicles Americans actually want.

Not without reason, either: There is a tradeoff between safety and efficiency. The National Academy of Sciences concluded that CAFE standards contributed to as many as 3,200 additional fatalities each year, because downsized cars are less safe in accidents. Other studies from the Brookings Institution and the Competitive Enterprise Institute put that number significantly higher.

So much for Senator Obama's claim that fuel efficiency is the savior of GM, Chrysler and Ford. Their problems, rather, are due to public perceptions of quality and to legacy labor costs. Pensions and health care cost Detroit an estimated $1,500 or more per vehicle than foreign competitors, and raising CAFE standards won't do anything about that. Mr. Obama generously offered to let the government pick up 10% of the Big Three's health-care tab in exchange for assurances on fuel economy--which means putting taxpayers on the hook for union and management mistakes going back 50 years.

CAFE would only add to that burden on Detroit. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that raising CAFE standards by 3.8 miles per gallon would cost $3.6 billion per year, which would reduce consumption by 10% over 15 years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates this would add $3,000 to $5,000 to the price of an American vehicle. The United Auto Workers says it could cost the jobs of 17,000 auto workers and 50,000 auto-parts workers.

What exactly would that get us, in terms of reducing emissions or oil use? Almost nothing. Passenger vehicles account for about 20% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions; a 10% cut of 20% is just 2%. This would not make a huge difference in domestic oil consumption either, because passenger vehicles account for 40% of U.S. oil demand; so a 10% cut reduces total oil consumption by 4%. These reductions are negligible compared to global emissions and energy demand.

Senator Obama's Detroit speech was cast in the press as bold truth-telling. Yet the quickest and most efficient way to deter gasoline consumption, if that is his real objective, is not CAFE standards, but higher gasoline prices--i.e., through a carbon tax. Consumers clearly don't want to pay more for gas, however, so Senator Obama wasn't so bold or truth-telling as to suggest that. It seems he has his eye on the voter market more than the car market.



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

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

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


Sunday, May 13, 2007


Ever since I first started doing research into environmentalism over 30 years ago, it has seemed obvious to me that they are simply a revival of mankind's most primitive religion -- nature worship. Awe before nature is in fact probably so primitive and goes back so far that it has to an extent been hardwired into us.

But many religions are extremely destructive of human welfare -- with Islam being a rather obvious example -- and the plainly misanthropic (people-hating) nature of environmentalism was obviously always going to be a big problem. That problem was for many years obvious in only minor ways. An outright people-hating message was obviously never going to gain much traction so Greenies had to present their demands for change under the old Leftist label: "It is for your own good". And convincing people that something is for your own good when it is actually bad for you is a hard sell. As a result, the nature-worshippers DID inadvertently do us some good in that some of the things they pushed for -- such as cleaner air and water -- really were good for us.

Of late, however, Greenies have really hit the jackpot. They have finally found something that is REALLY bad for us that they can push to the credulous as being good for them. I refer, of course to the global warming craze. It has for some time seemed to me that the vast economic destruction that this craze has already got underway establishes environmentalism as a really evil religion.

But, while there is no doubt that environmentalism is a misanthropic religion, I have come to doubt that that the environmentalists are really most to blame for their excesses. I think there is another force at work which is doing most of the damage. And it is the same force that underlies most Leftism: Excess ego. But it is not ego in politics that is the problem. It is ego in science. It is dishonest science that gives the global warming scare its legs. The average Greenie is just part of a Greek chorus in the background.

But am I not being absurd? How can I say that scientists are on a large scale ego-filled to the point of dishonesty? And how does ego come into science?

Let me initially make clear what I am saying: I am saying that scientists pump up the global warming scare not because they are subscribers to the Greenie religion (though they may well be) but because it inflates their egos. And the clearest proof that ego inflation is a hugely distorting influence on science comes from an area of science that has very little to do with environmentalism and which is arguably the most respected area of scientific research: The medical literature.

So am I now REALLY descending into absurdity? I wish I was. If we cannot trust the academic literature of medicine for an objective view of reality, whom can we trust? I will not attempt to answer that question but I do want to point out that it is crystal clear that we CANNOT trust the academic medical literature. Anyone who knows anything about that literature will know how subject to fashion it is and how what is proclaimed as bad for you in one era is in a later era proclaimed as good for you (e.g. alcohol).

There is more than fashion at work, however. As I document daily on my Food & Health Skeptic blog, there is a constant flood of absurdities appearing in the medical literature. There needs to be more than fashion behind that. And what is behind it is simply attention-seeking. Every scientist wants to be seen as someone who has "discovered" something. But real discoveries are rare so the slightest hint that a scientist has observed something going on will be trumpeted worldwide. And because real discoveries are rare, any purported discovery will be piled onto by lots of other scientists who want to be in on the glory of having made a contribution to the elucidation of this new phenomenon.

The clearest example of this is the cholesterol and polyunsaturated fats obsession. To cut a long story short, there is NO evidence that a low cholesterol diet lowers the amount of cholesterol in your blood nor is there any evidence that saturated fats in your diet are bad for you. In fact, some studies have shown that people on a diet low in saturated fats die SOONER. I have a research review up on today's issue of my Food & Health Skeptic blog that sets out in detail the evidence concerned. Yet we are still bombarded with messages about the desirability of a diet low in cholesterol and low in saturated fats. Our supermarkets are full of products that prominently and proudly proclaim that they are "low" in those constituents.

So why have the research findings not got through to the general public? Because scientists themselves ignore research that does not suit them. Let me tell you why:

The "easy" area of medical research is epidemiology: Take a large group of patients. Get reports from them on where they stand on a variety of attributes (e.g. how fat they are or how much fat they eat) and then wait to see who dies. Once you have got a large enough group of dead patients you then look through your files to see if there is something that the dead patients tend to have more of. Very often you find something, as you would on chance alone. Real scientists refer to such a procedure as "data dredging" and discount it but real scientists are a rare breed. Attention-seeking scientists are far more common and it is their reports of such rubbish findings that fill the medical literature.

But such rubbish findings are a godsend to other scientists. They can then put in for big funding to study this new finding. There is a new bandwagon that they can leap onto. But the only really conclusive way of verifying or falsifying the new "finding" is a longditudinal double-blind study -- i.e. you have to get a large and representative group of people and get half of them to change their ways in some respect (e.g. eat less fat). You then wait for years and see which group dies soonest. And at the end of that time what do you find? You typically find that the epidemiological hypothesis is not confirmed. The intervention (change) you have done to people's habits is just as likely to have done harm as good but most often it has done nothing at all. And that is where the cholesterol and saturated fat research has arrived at after all the years during which the "evil fat" gospel has been rammed down people's throats.

So where do you go from there? Do you admit that the theory you have built your career on (and which has delivered to you a cornucopia of research dollars) was all wrong? I think you can guess the answer to that. What you say is: "More research is needed" -- and carry on as before. And the poor old mug taxpayer coughs up more dollars to keep the nonsense alive.

And much the same applies to global warming theory. It initially looked good but, as more and more evidence accumulates, the holes in it get bigger and bigger. You can see that in the IPCC reports. They have progressively scaled down their predictions of what sea-level rise we are to expect. But there is NO WAY that they can admit that the whole thing is a crock so, as the evidence turns against them, they ratchet up the hysteria to keep those research dollars flowing. And it works. "More research is needed" has become the mantra of many politicians too.

But it leaves the average person totally betrayed. Attention-seeking medical scientists have led him towards useless lifestyle changes that may even harm him and attention-seeking climate scientists have led him to support political programs that will certainly impoverish him. So dishonest science is in fact a far greater evil than the rather wacky tribe of kneejerk nature-lovers.

Clinging to disproven theories is also rampant in my own field of academic specialization -- psychology -- but, fortunately, nobody takes much notice of psychologists.

For more on the poor track record of epidemiological "findings", see the sad caution from a medical researcher that I reproduced as part of my post about the latest vitamin D nonsense. Note also another review article on cholesterol and fat myths that I have linked to before.


Wu Gui has been a coal miner for 34 years. He says coal is a key to China's economic success. China's manufacturing juggernaut is largely fueled by coal-fired power stations, like this one in Datong, Shanxi province. Seventy percent of China's energy comes from coal, the dirtiest of all fuels to produce energy. Coal is literally powering China's seemingly unstoppable rise to superpower status, but not without costs to people and the environment. Coal miner Wu Gui, who has been working the mines for 34 years, describes his role in China's economy as "a glorious job." "I am making a contribution to the country," he says. "If we couldn't find coal, China couldn't get richer and more powerful, and we wouldn't be able to improve people's living standards."

Beijing is relying on men like Wu to power its future, says Yang Fuqiang of the global Energy Foundation. He notes that China is the world's leading consumer of coal. China will build 500 coal-fired power plants in the next decade, at the rate of almost one a week. This massive appetite for coal means equally huge greenhouse gas emissions. But Xu Dingming, one of the men in charge of China's energy policy, says coal-fired power plants are the quickest solution to its urgent need for more power.

China has more than 10 million people who still don't have electricity. In rural areas, many children have never seen an electric light. Coal-fired power plants are not just bringing light to rural villages. They're also powering the factories that make up China's exploding manufacturing base. In the past year, China has added generating capacity that is equal to the whole of France's electricity grid.

But this ravenous demand for electricity is putting pressure on the coal mines - and there's a terrible price to be paid. In the village of Xishui, 69-year-old Tou Deyue scrambles over the rubble outside his front gate. "Look how it's all collapsed here," he says. "You can imagine how much worse it was underground." Each day when he sees the rubble, he's reminded of his loss - his son died inside the coal mine, along with 71 others, in a gas explosion two years ago.

Tou says that the rising price of coal blinded the mine boss to everything. Three days before the explosion, someone had reported a gas leak in the mine. But the boss ignored it and ordered miners to keep working, Tou says. He says the boss only cared about production and profit - not the safety of workers. China has 5 million coal miners and the search for coal kills thousands of them each year.

But there's another price that the whole world will pay in terms of the effects on climate. Beijing needs coal to fuel economic growth - and guarantee its very survival. Yet its coal habit means it will soon overtake the United States as the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, some say as early as this year. How much money and effort Beijing chooses to put into controlling the emissions will be a critical factor in global warming. If China doesn't act aggressively, its addiction to coal will have a profound effect, not just domestically but on the rest of the world as well.



The European Commission told Estonia on Friday to slash its proposed cap on 2008-2012 industrial carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by nearly 50 percent in its latest move to shore up the emissions trading scheme. The European Union executive demanded Estonia limit emissions from companies covered by the scheme to 12.7 million tonnes annually, a 47.8 percent reduction from the country's original proposal.

The EU scheme sets limits on the amount of CO2 factories such as power stations and oil refineries may emit. Companies sell permits to emit if they come in below their caps or buy them if they produce more CO2 than allowed.

Preliminary data from 2006 showed Estonian companies covered by the scheme emitted 12.04 million tonnes of CO2 that year, far below a government allocation of more than 18 million tonnes. Estonia is a small player in the overall EU scheme. Roughly 40 installations in the country were covered in the 2005-2007 period, accounting for less than 1 percent of the total number of allowances issued EU-wide. Germany, by comparison, had some 1,850 installations in that period, accounting for about 23 percent of CO2 allowances.

But the Commission's action is significant in sending a consistent signal to the carbon market that it wants to create scarcity in the number of permits available in the second phase. Carbon prices for 2008 delivery rose 15 cents to 19.25 euros per CO2 tonne on the European Climate Exchange after the Commission decision, reversing an earlier fall.

The scheme is the 27-nation EU's key tool to fight climate change and meet commitments to cut emissions agreed under the Kyoto Protocol. Brussels has now issued decisions on 20 plans. Of those, only three countries -- Britain, France and Slovenia -- have not been forced to adjust their proposed caps.

The Commission demanded big cuts after 2005 data showed EU governments gave away more emissions rights to industry than needed, leading to a crash in CO2 allowance prices. In addition to cutting its cap, the Commission said Estonia must provide more information on how companies that enter the scheme at a later stage will be treated.



A few months ago I referenced a talk given by the National Hurricane Center's Chris Landsea on hurricanes and climate change, and whether the recent upsurge in activity is due to global warming or changes in the way we monitor hurricanes. Landsea's argument, in contrast to the likes of Kerry Emanuel, Greg Holland, Judith Curry and others, is that observers missed so many storms during the pre-satellite era that a re-analysis of past data might explain why hurricanes seem to have become more common and destructive in the last 30 years. We missed so many past storms, in fact, that Landsea's research suggests historical Atlantic storm totals should be inflated by 3.2 named storms a year between the period of 1900-1965, and 1 storm between 1966 and 2002, to match the modern era.

He has now published this work in the American Geophysical Union's peer-reviewed EOS Transactions, but, so far, I've been unable to find so much as an abstract online. Landsea sent me a copy of his paper, however, and it includes the intriguing graphic below, which goes a long way toward making his point.

The point made by the graphic is pretty simple -- three-quarters of known hurricanes struck land in the pre-satellite era, whereas only 59 percent do so in the modern era. I think we all know the reason for this discrepancy is that, without satellites, past observers were missing sea-only hurricanes, or "fish storms." The critical question is how much of an artifact all the new observational equipment has inserted into the Atlantic hurricane dataset.

Landsea argues it's rather large, writing in the paper: "Thus large, long-term 'trends' in tropical cyclone frequency are primarily manifestations of increased monitoring capabilities and likely not related to any real change in the climate in which they develop. Obviously, better monitoring in recent decades will also increase our ability to accurately measure tropical cyclone intensity and duration, though these are beyond the scope of this article."

Others, such as Holland, say the "observational artifact" in past hurricane data is much smaller. But if Landsea is right, the present hurricane activity we've seen in the Atlantic is consistent with storm activity during the last century. What is becoming clear with Landsea's new work, along with this recent article in Geophysical Research Letters, is that the debate over global warming and hurricane activity remains very far from being settled. Anyone who tells you otherwise is ignoring the scientific literature.



An email to Benny Peiser from Syun-Ichi Akasofu [], Director International Arctic Research Center P.O. Box 757340 930 Koyukuk Drive Fairbanks, Alaska

Thank you very much for including my contribution "Is the Earth still recovering from the 'Little Ice Age'?" in your information system. There have been a number of responses, but none of them has so far found any flaw. It appears that the Little Ice Age is forgotten. I gave several talks to professional groups on the contents, but they cannot find any fundamental error. Therefore, I decided to update my contribution. My conclusion is based on what many people agree on. I would very much appreciate it if you would kindly include the updated version. Here is the link

A REAL danger (unlike all the Greenie scares): "Altogether it is thought -though it is really only a guess, based on extrapolating from cratering rates on the Moon-that some two thousand asteroids big enough to imperil civilized existence regularly cross our orbit. But even a small asteroid -the size of a house, say-could destroy a city. The number of these relative tiddlers in Earth-crossing orbits is almost certainly in the hundreds of thousands and possibly in the millions, and they are nearly impossible to track. The first one wasn't spotted until 1991, and that was after it had already gone by. Named 1991 BA, it was noticed as it sailed past us at a distance of 170,000 kilometres -in cosmic terms the equivalent of a bullet passing through one's sleeve without touching the arm. Two years later, another, somewhat larger asteroid missed us by just 145,000 kilometers -the closest pass yet recorded. It, too, was not seen until it had passed and would have arrived without warning."


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

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

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


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Statement on Climate Change Policy from The American Association of Petroleum Geologists

The American Association of Petroleum Geologists, an international organization of over 30,000 earth scientists, supports expanding scientific climate research into the basic controls on climate, specifically including the geological aspects of climate change. This research should be undertaken by appropriate federal agencies involved in climate research and their associated grant and contract programs. Such support includes major research efforts into potential effects of decreasing as well as increasing temperatures and the mitigation of such effects. This research is important to sustain the ability of agriculture to feed the growing global population as well as to understand the effects of a colder climate upon society.

Geologists who study past climate variations understand that current climate warming projections fall well within documented natural variations in past climate. Therefore, for scientific reasons, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists does not support placing a carbon tax upon fossil energy sources as a tool to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, nor do we support any implementation of the Kyoto Protocol prior to Senate ratification.


One of the most contentious debates in American public policy today encompasses proposals to restrict emissions of the minor atmospheric gas carbon dioxide in order to mitigate a perceived human influence on global climate. Current proposals (Kyoto Protocol signed by the executive branch of the U.S. government, but not ratified by Congress) would federally tax crude oil at the rate of about $43.50 per barrel (1). No reduction in existing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would result from this massive transfer of wealth from the private sector into the federal government.

Recognizing the potential impact on the United States and world economy of such taxation and restriction of energy use, it is important that greenhouse theories be tested thoroughly and quickly. Scientific examination of the government case for such draconian taxation does not support the supposition of human-induced global climate change; in fact, the study resulted in recognition that the supposition is neither provable nor disprovable. The following observations are germane to the position:

Scientific research has been stimulated by the proposal. Recently published research results do not support the supposition of an anthropogenic cause of global climate change (2).

Detailed examination of current climate data strongly suggests that current observations do not correlate with the assumptions or supportable projections of human-induced greenhouse effects.

Background: Geologists know that --

Climate is constantly changing, and has varied significantly over human history. Climate changes over any time scale chosen, whether as small as a decade or as long as a geologic era.

Natural variability has been demonstrated to exceed any supportable estimate of human-induced variability.

Earth is still emerging from the Little Ice Age (A. D. 1250 - 1850). Significant rises in global temperature are a predictable consequence. The current level of global warming is real and natural.

Geologic controls on climate are significant. Long term changes can be demonstrated to occur congruently with geologic tectonic changes. Little is truly understood of the controls on short term changes. Solar variability, for instance, is significant in centennial to millennial changes, among other possible controls that should be examined.

Attempts to engineer Earth's very complex climate before understanding natural controls on climate are risky, if not impossible.


Science requires that all aspects of theory be investigated and that assumptions be tested.

Human-induced global temperature influence is a supposition that can be neither proved nor disproved. It is unwise policy to base stringent controls on energy consumption through taxation to support a supposition that cannot be substantiated.

Climate naturally varies constantly, in both directions, at varying rates, and on many scales. Warming events have been historically good for most human society, while cold events have been deleterious to much of society. It is vital that climate research to examine the effects of a colder climate also be supported. Critical target areas of this research should include the potential impact of climate change on food production. Further research should concentrate on mitigation techniques to combat any serious effects of either colder or warmer climate, naturally or artificially caused, on the ability of the world to feed itself.

The AAPG urges that any actions to implement or to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and any future declarations of climate policy be delayed until there is better understanding of present climate and the impacts of policy implementation, as well as some provision for mitigating errors in policy. There is no current viable substitute for petroleum-based fuels in the world's energy budget and economy.


Bottled water has high environmental costs

Is there anything the Greenies are happy about? I myself think that drinking bottled water is foolish on cost-benefit grounds but cost-benefit is not what it is all about. It is a modern-day potlatch (purchase of prestige) and people are welcome to spend their money any way that's legal if they want. As modern Puritans, the Greenies do however hate conspicuous consumption and potlatch is clearly that so they had to find SOME way of criticizing bottled water

BOTTLED water, the world's fastest growing beverage, carries a heavy environmental cost, adding plastic to landfills and putting pressure on natural springs, the author of a new US report said today. "Bottled water is really expensive, in terms of environmental costs and economically," said Ling Li, who wrote the report for the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute.

While many in developed countries thirst for safety, cleanliness, taste and social cachet when they buy bottled water, more than one billion of the world's poorest lack access to clean drinking water, bottled or not.

And in developed countries, bottled water may be scrutinised using lower standards than plain tap water, the report said. The environmental impact can start at the source, where some local streams and underground aquifers become depleted when there is "excessive withdrawal" for bottled water, according to the report.

In addition to the energy cost of producing, bottling, packaging, storing and shipping bottled water, there is also the environmental cost of the millions of tonnes of oil-derived plastic needed to make the bottles. "The beverage industry benefits the most from our bottled water obsession," Ms Ling said. "But this does nothing for the staggering number of the world's poor who see safe drinking water as at best a luxury and at worst an unattainable goal." Worldwatch estimated 35 to 50 per cent of urban dwellers in Africa and Asia lack adequate access to safe potable water.

Most water is bottled in polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, which requires less energy to recycle and does not release chlorine into the atmosphere when burned. But recycling rates have declined: about 23.1 per cent of PET water bottles were recycled in the United States in 2005, compared with 39.7 per cent 10 years earlier, the report said.

Bottled water costs from 240 to 10,000 times as much as water straight from the tap. In dollars, that means such water sold in most industrialised countries costs $US500 to $US1000 ($605 to $1210) a cubic metre compared with US50 cents (60 cents) a cubic metre in California, where the quality of tap water is high. World consumption of bottled water more than doubled between 1997 and 2005, with the United States being the largest consumer. US residents drank nearly 28.6 billion litres in 2005, the report found. Among the countries that use bottled water, India's consumption nearly tripled for the period, and China's more than doubled between 2000 and 2005. Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Germany, France, Indonesia and Spain round out the top 10.


Clinton, Obama sign onto to Boxer's $4,500 climate tax on American families

Senate Environment & Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have proposed the "Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act" aimed at combating climate change....

FACT: A new MIT study concludes that the Sanders-Boxer approach would impose a tax-equivalent of $366 billion annually, or more than $4,500 per family of four, by 2015. And the annual costs will grow after 2015.

The Kyoto Protocol would have imposed an equivalent tax of over $300 billion a year, 10 times the size of the Clinton-Gore tax increase of 1993. In addition to the MIT study, a new Congressional Budget Office study released recently, details how a carbon cap-and-trade system would result in massive wealth redistribution from the poor and working class to wealthier Americans.

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), EPW Ranking Member, said today: "Carbon caps would artificially and needlessly raise the cost of energy the most on the people least able to afford it. It astounds me that any Senator could support such a proposal."


Inconvenient truths

By David Deming, Ph.D. (David Deming is a geophysicist, an adjunct scholar with the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and associate professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oklahoma).

The largest single factor driving the debate on global warming is the Al Gore film An Inconvenient Truth. The movie has been marketed as a scientific documentary, but in fact it is an artful and deceptive propaganda film.

The claims made in An Inconvenient Truth are either wrong, disingenuous, or misleading. Gore frightens his audience by showing the breakup of the Larsen Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. He then states that if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to melt it would raise sea levels worldwide by 20 feet. But Gore conveniently neglects to inform us that over the last several decades, 80 to 90 percent of Antarctica has been growing colder, in direct contradiction to greenhouse theory. The main ice accumulation in Antarctica is not melting, it's getting thicker.

Gore leads his audience to believe that for the last 650,000 years of Earth's climate history, carbon dioxide has determined temperature. But it's well documented in the scientific literature that changes in temperature preceded changes in carbon dioxide. Temperature controlled carbon dioxide by regulating the release and absorption of this gas from the oceans.

An Inconvenient Truth fails to inform viewers that projections of future warming from carbon dioxide are based on computer models whose reliability and accuracy are completely unknown. As a scientist who has done computer modeling and studied geophysical inverse theory, I find it alarming that people are seriously considering restructuring our entire civilization on the basis of computer models that cannot even be tested.

Gore's claim that "zero percent" of scientists disagree on global warming is not true, and demonstrates a profound ignorance of science and the provisional nature of scientific knowledge. The former vice president of the United States could also use a lesson on basic economics. He makes the remarkable claim that we won't damage our economy by switching from fossil fuels - which are inexpensive, reliable, and abundant - to alternative fuel sources that are expensive, unreliable, and scarce. Europe's experience demonstrates otherwise. As reported in the Washington Post April 9, Europe's attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions has proven to be a bureaucratic nightmare, with high energy prices, unforeseen consequences, and "significant economic costs." European businesses are losing customers to Chinese competitors.

Oh yes, China. The Chinese currently have 2,000 coal-fired power plants, and are proceeding to enthusiastically grow their economy by building a new plant every week. Incredibly, Al Gore says that China should get a free pass on carbon dioxide. He wants the average American to shoulder the responsibility for stopping global warming. The package for An Inconvenient Truth instructs us how to accomplish this. We are supposed to alter the composition of Earth's atmosphere by switching from incandescent to fluorescent light bulbs, keeping the tires on our cars properly inflated, and planting trees. These recommendations are only exceeded by pop singer Sheryl Crow's recent assertion that global warming can be stopped by restricting the use of toilet paper.

On the morning of April 8, Charlotte, North Carolina, experienced a low temperature of 21 degrees Fahrenheit. It was the coldest temperature ever recorded in Charlotte for the month of April. But if you think record cold weather is going to falsify global warming, you're hopelessly naive. On April 11, a Purdue professor told the Christian Science Monitor that "this is what you might expect of global warming," because global warming "isn't necessarily always a warmer climate, but a more variable climate." In other words, all weather variations are evidence for global warming. I can't make this stuff up.

Global warming has long since moved from scientific hypothesis to pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo. It is the latest and most successful in a long line of disingenuous excuses to wage war on technology, progress, and the human mind. The predatory demagogues who peddle this dangerous nonsense are enemies of the human race.


A "Green" prison?

Toilet paper is becoming a sought after commodity at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility after officials began limiting inmates to one roll at a time to trim costs. Officials say the prison has long had a limit, but they learned recently that it hadn't been enforced. Increased enforcement began this month. Under the prison policy, inmates are restricted to four rolls of toilet paper each month or on an "as-needed" basis.

Steve Schneider, public information officer for the prison, said officials also restated restrictions on other personal items, including soap and toothpaste, as a result of stockpiling and overuse. The increased enforcement has angered many of the more than 1,600 inmates housed at the facility.

"Some take this for granted," inmate Carl Kennedy said in a letter to The Hutchinson News. "But in here it's part of a safeguard for widespread infections. We use it to blow our noses, clean sinks, toilets and tables." Prison officials said the policy could save the prison nearly $600 each month if each inmate uses one less roll each month. "There are a lot of things that individually don't cost much," said Kansas Department of Corrections spokeswoman Frances Breyne. "But when you multiply that by hundreds, it makes a drastic impact."

Schneider insists inmates won't go without toilet paper. Charmin four-packs can be purchased at the prison canteen for $2.70, and anyone who produces an empty roll will receive a new roll of toilet paper. One side effect of the policy could be that toilet paper will become a new form of currency among inmates. "Anything you restrict becomes a thing of value," Schneider added. "It automatically becomes a means of dealing and trading."



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

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

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


Friday, May 11, 2007


Some Germans are beginning to realize that global warming at the levels predicted by the IPCC might be rather a pleasant thing for Germany. Two articles from a major German newsmagazine ("Spiegel") below

Not the End of the World as We Know It

How bad is climate change really? Are catastrophic floods and terrible droughts headed our way? Despite widespread fears of a greenhouse hell, the latest computer simulations are delivering far less dramatic predictions about tomorrow's climate. Svante Arrhenius, the father of the greenhouse effect, would be called a heretic today. Far from issuing the sort of dire predictions about climate change which are common nowadays, the Swedish physicist dared to predict a paradise on earth for humans when he announced, in April 1896, that temperatures were rising -- and that it would be a blessing for all.

Arrhenius, who later won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, calculated that the release of carbon dioxide -- or carbonic acid as it was then known -- through burning coal, oil and natural gas would lead to a significant rise in temperatures worldwide. But, he argued, "by the influence of the increasing percentage of carbonic acid in the atmosphere, we may hope to enjoy ages with more equable and better climates," potentially making poor harvests and famine a thing of the past. Arrhenius was merely expressing a view that was firmly entrenched in the collective consciousness of the day: warm times are good times; cold times are bad.

During the so-called Medieval Warm Period between about 900 and 1300 A.D., for example, the Vikings raised livestock on Greenland and sailed to North America. New cities were built all across Europe, and the continent's population grew from 30 million to 80 million. The consequences of the colder temperatures that plunged civilization into the so-called Little Ice Age for several centuries after 1300 were devastating. Summers were rainy, winters cold, and in many places temperatures were too low for grain crops to mature. Famines and epidemics raged, and average life expectancy dropped by 10 years. In Germany, thousands of villages were abandoned and entire stretches of land depopulated.

The shock produced by the cold was as deep-seated it was long-lasting. When temperatures plunged unexpectedly once again in the 1960s, many meteorologists were quick to warn people about the coming of a new ice age -- supposedly triggered by man-made air pollution. Hardly anyone at the time believed a warming trend could pose a threat. It was not until the rise of the environmental movement in the 1980s that everything suddenly changed. From then on it was almost a foregone conclusion that global warming could only be perceived as a disaster for the earth's climate. Environmentalists, adopting a strategy typical of the Catholic Church, have been warning us about the horrors of greenhouse gas hell ever since -- painting it as a punishment for the sin of meddling with creation. What was conveniently ignored, however, is that humanity has been reshaping the planet for a very long time, first by clearing forests and plowing fields, and later by building roads, cities and factories.

In the age of climate change, it has become a popular social pastime to scour the weather forecast for omens of doom. Has it ever been as hot in April as it is this year? Is this lack of rain normal? Could all this mean that the end is nigh?

Nowadays hardly anyone dares to question the increasingly shrill warnings about our climate, as more and more people jump on the hand-wringing bandwagon. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, for example, recently said that climate change poses at least as big a danger to the world as war. German Chancellor Angela Merkel agrees, calling developments "more than alarming," and asking: "Are we willing to accept the fact that we now have completely unprecedented weather phenomena, such as tropical nights in the Harz (Mountains) region?" The fact that tropical nights, as every meteorologist knows, are nothing new in Germany -- every summer has always had a few -- seems to have escaped her attention.

The apocalyptic mood seems to grow each time the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases a new section of its climate change report. Climate hysteria appears to be more contagious than a flu epidemic. "We only have 13 years left to save the earth," screamed a recent front-page headline in the German tabloid Bild. "If mankind is unable to stop the greenhouse effect by the year 2020, it will bring about its own demise -- and a horribly tortured one at that."

But how bad is climate change really? Will global warming trigger plagues of Biblical proportions? Can we look forward to endless droughts and catastrophic floods? Or will Arrhenius end up being right after all? Could rising temperatures lead to higher crop yields and more tourism in many places? In other words, is humanity actually creating new paradises? The truth is probably somewhere between these two extremes. Climate change will undoubtedly have losers -- but it will also have winners. There will be a reshuffling of climate zones on earth. And there is something else that we can already say with certainty: The end of the world isn't coming any time soon.

Largely unnoticed by the public, climate researchers are currently embroiled in their own struggle over who owns the truth. While some have always seen themselves as environmental activists aiming to shake humanity out of its complacency, others argue for a calmer and more rational approach to the unavoidable. One member of the levelheaded camp is Hans von Storch, 57, a prominent climate researcher who is director of the Institute for Coastal Research at the GKSS Research Center in Geesthacht in northern Germany. "We have to take away people's fear of climate change," Storch told DER SPIEGEL in a recent interview. "Unfortunately many scientists see themselves too much as priests whose job it is to preach moralistic sermons to people."

Keeping a cool head is a good idea because, for one thing, we can no longer completely prevent climate change. No matter how much governments try to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it will only be possible to limit the rise in global temperatures to about 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. But even this moderate warming would likely have far fewer apocalyptic consequences than many a prophet of doom would have us believe.

For one thing, the more paleontologists and geologists study the history of the earth's climate, the more clearly do they recognize just how much temperatures have fluctuated in both directions in the past. Even major fluctuations appear to be completely natural phenomena. Additionally, some environmentalists doubt that the large-scale extinction of animals and plants some have predicted will in fact come about. "A warmer climate helps promote species diversity," says Munich zoologist Josef Reichholf. Also, more detailed simulations have allowed climate researchers to paint a considerably less dire picture than in the past -- gone is the talk of giant storms, the melting of the Antarctic ice shield and flooding of major cities.

Improved regionalized models also show that climate change can bring not only drawbacks, but also significant benefits, especially in northern regions of the world where it has been too cold and uncomfortable for human activity to flourish in the past. However it is still a taboo to express this idea in public. For example, countries like Canada and Russia can look forward to better harvests and a blossoming tourism industry, and the only distress the Scandinavians will face is the guilty conscience that could come with benefiting from global warming.

There is no doubt that there will be droughts in other parts of the world, especially in subtropical regions. But the widespread assumption that it is developing countries -- that is, the world's poor -- who will, as always, be the ones to suffer is incorrect. According to current predictions, precipitation in large parts of Africa will hardly decrease at all, except in the southern part of the continent. In fact, these same forecasts show the Sahel, traditionally a region beset by drought and famine, actually becoming wetter.

By contrast, some wealthy industrialized nations -- in fact, those principally responsible for climate change -- will likely face growing problems related to drought. The world's new drought zones lie in the southern United States and Australia, but also in Mediterranean countries like Spain, Italy and Greece. All of this will lead to a major shift within Europe, potentially leading to tough times for southern Spain's mega-resorts and boom times for hotels along the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts. While the bulk of summer vacationers will eventually lose interest in roasting on Spain's Costa del Sol, Mediterranean conditions could prevail between the German North Sea island of Sylt and Bavaria's Lake Starnberg. The last few weeks of spring in Germany offered a taste of what's to come, as sun-loving crowds packed Berlin's urban beach bars and Munich's beer gardens.

The predicted temperature increase of 3 degrees Celsius would mean that summers in Hamburg, not far from the North Sea coast, would be as warm as they are today in the southwestern city of Freiburg, while conditions in Freiburg would be more like those in Marseille today. Germany will undoubtedly be one of the beneficiaries of climate change. Perhaps palm trees will be growing on the island of Helgoland in the North Sea soon, and German citizens will be saving billions in heating costs -- which in turn would lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions.

But climate change will also have its drawbacks. While German summers will be less rainy, fall and winter rainfall in the country's north will increase by up to 30 percent -- and snow will be a thing of the past. Heavy downpours will also become more common. To avoid flooding, steps will have to be taken to provide better drainage for fields and farmlands, as well as to restore natural flood plains.

Meanwhile, the Kiel Institute for World Economics warns that higher temperatures could mean thousands of heat-related deaths every year. But the extrapolations that lead to this dire prediction are based on the mortality rate in the unusually hot summer of 2003, for which Germans were wholly unprepared. But if hot summer days do become the norm, people will simply adjust by taking siestas and installing air-conditioning. The medical benefits of higher average temperatures have also been ignored. According to Richard Tol, an environmental economist, "warming temperatures will mean that in 2050 there will be about 40,000 fewer deaths in Germany attributable to cold-related illnesses like the flu."

Another widespread fear about global warming -- that it will cause super-storms that could devastate towns and villages with unprecedented fury -- also appears to be unfounded. Current long-term simulations, at any rate, do not suggest that such a trend will in fact materialize. "According to our computer model, neither the number nor intensity of storms is increasing," says Jochem Marotzke, director of the Hamburg-based Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, one of the world's leading climate research centers. "Only the boundaries of low-pressure zones are changing slightly, meaning that weather is becoming more severe in Scandinavia and less so in the Mediterranean."

According to another persistent greenhouse legend, massive flooding will strike major coastal cities, raising horrific scenarios of New York, London and Shanghai sinking into the tide. However this horror story is a relic of the late 1980s, when climate simulations were far less precise than they are today. At the time, some experts believed that the Antarctic ice shield could melt, which would in fact lead to a dramatic 60-meter (197-foot) rise in sea levels. The nuclear industry quickly seized upon and publicized the scenario, which it recognized as an argument in favor of its emissions-free power plants.

But it quickly became apparent that the horrific tale of a melting South Pole was nothing but fiction. The average temperature in the Antarctic is -30 degrees Celsius. Humanity cannot possibly burn enough oil and coal to melt this giant block of ice. On the contrary, current climate models suggest that the Antarctic will even increase in mass: Global warming will cause more water to evaporate, and part of that moisture will fall as snow over Antarctica, causing the ice shield to grow. As a result, the total rise in sea levels would in fact be reduced by about 5 cm (2 inches). It's a different story in the warmer regions surrounding the North Pole. According to an American study published last week, the Arctic could be melting even faster than previously assumed. But because the Arctic sea ice already floats in the water, its melting will have virtually no effect on sea levels.

Nevertheless, sea levels will rise worldwide as higher temperatures cause the water in the oceans to expand. In addition, more water will flow into the ocean with the gradual thawing of the Greenland ice sheet. All things considered, however, in the current IPCC report climatologists are predicting a rise in sea levels of only about 40 centimeters (16 inches) -- compared with the previous estimate of about one meter (more than three feet). A 40-centimeter rise in sea levels will hardly result in more catastrophic flooding. "We have more computer models and better ones today, and the prognoses have become more precise as a result," explains Peter Lemke of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the northern German port city of Bremerhaven.

Some researchers do, however, estimate that regional effects could produce an 80-centimeter (31-inch) rise in the sea level along Germany's North Sea coast. This will lead to higher storm surges -- a problem the local population, already accustomed to severe weather, could easily address by building taller dikes.

Another comforting factor -- especially for poorer countries like Bangladesh -- is that none of these changes will happen overnight, but gradually over several decades. "We still have enough time to react," says Storch.

In short, the longer researchers allow their supercomputers to crunch the numbers, the more does the expected deluge dissipate. A rise in sea levels of several meters could only occur if Greenland were largely ice-free, but this is something scientists don't expect to happen for at least a few more centuries or even millennia. This lengthy timeframe raises the question of whether the current prognoses are even reliable. A healthy dose of skepticism is a good idea, especially when scientists become all too confident and make themselves out to be oracles. But there can be a wide gap between their predictions and the end result -- a fundamental weakness of all computer simulations that present only incomplete pictures of reality.

In the early years, for example, computer modelers underestimated the influence of aerosols, especially the sulfur particles that are released into the atmosphere during the combustion of oil and coal or during volcanic eruptions. These pollution particles block sunlight and thus cause significant cooling. The failure to adequately take aerosols into account explains why earlier models predicted a more drastic rise in temperatures than those in use today. One major unknown in the predictions depends on how quickly countries like China will filter out the pollutants from their power plant emissions -- if the air becomes cleaner it will also heat up more rapidly.

Other factors that can either weaken or strengthen the greenhouse effect are still not fully understood today. For example, will the carbon dioxide trapped in the world's oceans be released as the water heats up, thereby accelerating global warming? And how much faster do land plants and sea algae grow in a milder climate? Plant proliferation could bind more carbon dioxide -- and serve to slow down the greenhouse effect.

But the main problem lies in correctly calculating the effects of clouds. The tops of clouds act as mirrors in the sky, reflecting sunlight back into space -- thus cooling the planet. But the bottom sides keep the heat radiated by the earth from escaping into the atmosphere -- causing temperatures to rise. Which of the two effects predominates depends primarily on the altitude at which clouds form. Simply put, low clouds tend to promote cooling while high clouds increase warming. So far scientists agree on only one thing, namely that more clouds will form in a greenhouse climate. They just don't know at which altitude. Even the most powerful computer models are still too imprecise to simulate the details. However, the clouds alone will determine whether temperatures will increase by one degree more or less than the average predicted by the models. This is a significant element of uncertainty. "Clouds are still our biggest headache," concedes Erich Roeckner of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology.

Roeckner is a conscientious man and a veteran of climate research, so he, of all people, should know the limits of simulation programs. Roeckner, who constantly expects surprises, neatly sums up the problem when he says: "No model will ever be as complex as nature."


'We Are Children of the Tropics'

Biologist Josef Reichholf discusses the benefits of a warmer climate for animals and plants, large cities as centers of biological diversity and the myth of the return of malaria

SPIEGEL: Mr. Reichholf, are you worried about global warming?

Josef Reichholf: No. Personally, I'm even looking forward to a milder climate. But it will also not pose any major problems for mankind as a whole.

SPIEGEL: Where does your optimism come from?

Reichholf: The vast majority of people today already live under warmer and, in many cases, far more extreme conditions than we pampered Central Europeans. Homo sapiens is the only biological species that can handle practically any type of climate on earth -- from the deserts to the polar regions, from the constantly humid tropics to the high altitudes of the Andes. Not even the animals that follow human society most closely, the rats, have developed such an astonishing ability to adapt in the course of evolution.

SPIEGEL: In what sort of climate does man feel most comfortable?

Reichholf: Biologically speaking, we are children of the tropics. Wherever man lives, he artificially creates tropical living conditions. We do this with warm clothing, and with heated offices and homes. A tropical temperature of about 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit) constantly prevails underneath our clothing.

SPIEGEL: But, as an ecologist, aren't you at least concerned about animals and plants?

Reichholf: Many species are certainly threatened, but not by climate change. The true danger comes from the destruction of habitats, such as the rampant deforestation of species-rich tropical forests. Particularly as a conservationist, I believe that focusing on the greenhouse effect is very dangerous. The climate is increasingly being turned into a scapegoat, to deflect attention from other environmental crimes. A typical example is the misleading debate over catastrophic flooding, which is in fact caused by too much development along rivers and not by more extreme weather events, which we can't change anyway.

SPIEGEL: What do you see as the greatest threat to plants and animals?

Reichholf: Industrial agriculture is the number one killer of species in Germany. With their monocultures and over-fertilized fields, farmers have radically impaired the living conditions for many animals and plants. Many species have already fled from the countryside to the cities, which have been transformed into havens of biodiversity. We are also seeing another interesting phenomenon: Major cities, like Hamburg, Berlin and Munich, have formed heat islands where the climate has been two or three degrees warmer than in the surrounding countryside for decades. If higher temperatures are truly so bad, why do more and more animals and plants feel so comfortable in our cities?

SPIEGEL: And what is your view of the prognoses that global warming will cause up to 30 percent of all animal species to become extinct?

Reichholf: It's nothing but fear-mongering, for which there is no concrete evidence. On the contrary, there is much to be said for the argument that warming temperatures promote biodiversity. There is a clear relationship between biodiversity and temperature. The number of species increases exponentially from the regions near the poles across the moderate latitudes and to the equator. To put it succinctly, the warmer a region is, the more diverse are its species.

SPIEGEL: Are you saying that the greenhouse effect could even help improve biodiversity in the long term?

Reichholf: Exactly. And this can also be clearly inferred from the insights of evolutionary biology. Biodiversity reached its peak at the end of the tertiary age, a few million years ago, when it was much warmer than it is today. The development went in a completely different direction when the ice ages came and temperatures dropped, causing a massive extinction of species, especially in the north. This also explains why Europe has such a high capacity to absorb species from warmer regions. It just so happens that we have many unoccupied ecological niches in our less biodiverse part of the world.

SPIEGEL: In other words, for you global warming means more flourishing landscapes on the planet?

Reichholf: Indeed. When it becomes warmer, many species receive new habitats. The overall picture is clearly positive, as long as we don't destroy the newly developing habitats right away by intervening in nature in other ways. It's no accident that most of the species on Germany's red list of endangered species are the heat-loving species. Many of them could be given new opportunities to survive in Germany.

SPIEGEL: But aren't you underestimating the rapid pace of the current warming? Many animals and plants are unable to adapt quickly enough to a changing climate.

Reichholf: This claim is already contradicted by the fact that there have been much faster climate fluctuations in the past, which did not automatically lead to a global extinction of species. As a biologist, I can tell you that only the fewest animals and plants are accustomed to rigid climate conditions. Take our little wren, for example. Many would call it a sensitive little songbird. But the wren thrives just as well in Stockholm as it does in Munich or Rome. It even lives above the tree line in the Alps. The only places we don't see wrens are where there are no bushes or trees growing at all.

SPIEGEL: But there are certainly animals that live in very limited niches. For example, how would polar bears survive global warming?

Reichholf: Then let me ask you in return: How did the polar bear survive the last warm period? Perhaps Knut at the Berlin Zoo is an exception, but polar bears in the wild don't exactly survive by sucking on ice. Seals are the polar bear's most important source of food, and the Canadians slaughter tens of thousands of them every spring. That's why life is becoming more and more difficult for polar bears, and not because it's getting warmer. Look at the polar bear's close relative, the brown bear. It is found across a broad geographic region, ranging from Europe across the Near East and North Asia, to Canada and the United States. Whether bears survive will depend on human beings, not the climate.

SPIEGEL: Is there really no plant or animal species that isn't at risk of extinction because of a further rise in temperatures?

Reichholf: I certainly can't think of any. There are a few flatworms that can only exist in icy cold springs. These creatures do in fact appear to be disappearing in places where the springs are warming up. But this could also be a coincidence, because the closest relatives of these worms tolerate a much broader temperature spectrum.

SPIEGEL: Conversely, should we be worried that malaria, as a result of global warming, will break out in our latitudes once again?

Reichholf: That's another one of those myths. Many people truly believe that malaria will spread as temperatures rise. But malaria isn't even a true tropical disease. In the 19th century, thousands of people in Europe, including Germany, the Netherlands and even Scandinavia, died of malaria, even though they had never gone abroad. That's because this disease was still prevalent in northern and central Europe in previous centuries. We only managed to eliminate malaria in Europe by quarantining the sick, improving hygiene and draining swamps. That's why I consider it virtually impossible that malaria would return to us purely because of climate change. If it does appear, it'll be because it has been brought in somewhere.

SPIEGEL: Why has it become a dogma that we should be afraid of warmer times?

Reichholf: It's a mystery to me. As recently as the 1960s, people were more concerned about a new ice age -- and that would indeed pose a great danger to us. The most catastrophic eras were those in which the weather became worse, not phases of warmer climates. Precisely because we have to feed a growing population on this planet, we should in fact embrace a warmer climate. In warmer regions it takes far less effort to ensure survival.


A great excuse to put insurance premiums up

Lloyd's of London, the world's oldest insurer, offered a gloomy forecast of floods, droughts and disastrous storms over the next 50 years in a recently published report on impending climate changes. "These things are fact, not hypothesis," said Wendy Baker, the president of Lloyd's America in an interview on Monday. "You don't have to be a believer in global warming to recognize the climate is changing. The industry has to get ready for the changes that are coming."

In a report on catastrophe trends Lloyd's is disseminating to the insurance industry, a bevy of British climate experts, including Sir David King, chief scientist to the British government, warn of increased flooding in coastal areas and a rapid rise in sea level as ice caps melt in Greenland and Antarctica.

Northern European coastal levels could rise more than a meter (3 feet) in a few decades, particularly if the Gulf Stream currents change, the report says. Floods, which now account for about half of all deaths from natural disasters, could multiply and become more destructive, with annual flood damages in England and Wales reaching 10 times today's level, according to some studies. At the same time, drought patterns that are already forming in some parts of the world are going to get worse, particularly in southern Africa. Even the lush Amazon may dry up, and with less vegetation, more carbon dioxide will leak into the atmosphere, making the global warming problem even worse, the Lloyd's study says.

Baker said Lloyd's has formed a partnership with American International Group, the world's biggest insurer, Harvard University's Center for Health and the Global Environment and the Insurance Information Institute, a research group. The four will hold a forum in the fall of 2007 to look at the severity and consequences of future natural catastrophes


Green car crashes

An electric car beloved of green-minded celebrities and promoted as the environmentally friendly alternative for city drivers may be banned after failing a basic crash test carried out by the Department for Transport. The Government is so concerned by the lack of protection offered by the G-Wiz that it rushed out a statement last night stating that it was urgently seeking a review of the European regulations covering the sale of the cars.

The tiny car, made in Bangalore, India, has enjoyed a recent surge in popularity in London because it is exempt from the congestion charge and parking fees in dozens of car parks. Several celebrities, including Jonathan Ross, Kristin Scott Thomas and Bamber Gascoigne, have bought one and have publicly praised its very low emissions and the ease of parking it in the tightest spaces. A total of 750 are already being driven in London and another 100 are about to be delivered to customers.

Reva, the Indian company which makes the G-Wiz, did not have to carry out the crash tests which are compulsory for cars because its vehicle is technically defined as a quadricycle. Until the G-Wiz was introduced, most quadricycles were four-wheel motorbikes and were considered a special case which could be exempted from minimum occupant protection standards. But Reva describes itself as a car company and markets the G-Wiz as a greener alternative to a conventional car.

The DfT decided to buy a G-Wiz and carry out its own crash test after becoming concerned by the rapid growth in sales. It found "serious safety concerns" after crashing a G-Wiz at 35mph into a deformable barrier, which is the normal test for cars.

Stephen Ladyman, the Transport Minister, said: "The safety regulations that govern this type of vehicle were designed at a time when it was thought they would cover four-wheeled motorcycles and some small, specialised commercial vehicles. Not city runabouts that resemble small cars. "But, given increasing environmental concerns, new vehicles that qualify as quadricycles have come to the market and are becoming more popular for urban use. Therefore it is right that we reconsider the regulations for this type of vehicle and whether safety regulations should be made more stringent. "Now we have the initial findings of our tests we will be taking this up with the European Commission and manufacturers, and will publish more information when the full programme of tests is complete."

The DfT carried out the test on April 24 and received the preliminary results last Friday. They were so poor that it decided to act immediately rather than wait for a few weeks until the full report was available. The Government has found itself in an awkward position because it has encouraged drivers to switch to low emission cars and has exempted the G-Wiz and other electric vehicles from paying vehicle excise duty. A DfT spokeswoman said: "We want to help people explore environmentally friendly forms of transport but they must be safe." She added that a further crash test would be carried out on another electric car classed as a quadricycle. She refused to name the model.

GoinGreen, the British company which imports the G-Wiz, said it had a very good safety record, with no reported deaths or serious injuries associated with the 2,000 vehicles sold in Britain and India to date. Keith Johnston, the company's managing director, said the G-Wiz tended to be driven short distances in cities at low speeds. It is certified to travel on motorways but has a top speed of only 45mph. He added that the review requested by the Government should consider raising the maximum weight for quadricycles to allow safety features to be added. The G-Wiz only just complies with the existing weight limit, which is 400kg without the battery. "We could add airbags but that would add to the weight," he said. Mr Johnston said that Reva had done some simulated crash tests but he did not know the details


Scientists look high in the sky for power: "Scientists are eyeing the jet stream, an energy source that rages night and day, 365 days a year, just a few miles above our heads. If they can tap into its fierce winds, the world's entire electrical needs could be met, they say. The trick is figuring out how to harness the energy and get it down to the ground cost-effectively and safely. Dozens of researchers in California and around the world believe huge kite-like wind-power generators could be the solution. As bizarre as that might seem, respected experts say the idea is sound enough to justify further investigation. The jet stream typically blows from west to east 6 to 9 miles over the northern hemisphere at speeds up to 310 mph. By lofting generators into the upper atmosphere, scientists theorize they could capture the power of the jet stream and transmit the electricity along cables back to Earth."


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

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

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


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Travel: the new tobacco

This one gave me a laugh. The founder of "Rough Guides" (promoting travel) now believes that our addiction to 'binge flying' is killing the planet. Sounds like a severe case of Leftist guilt syndrome

Mark Ellingham, founder of the Rough Guides and the man who encouraged a generation of travellers to pack a rucksack and explore the world, has compared the damage done by tourism to the impact of the tobacco industry.

Ellingham now says travelling is so environmentally destructive that there is no such thing as a genuinely ethical holiday. He wants the industry to educate travellers about the damage their holidays do to the environment. The development he regrets most is the public's appetite for what he calls 'binge-flying'.

'The tobacco industry fouled up the world while denying [it] as much as possible for as long as they could,' said Ellingham. 'If the travel industry rosily goes ahead as it is doing, ignoring the effect that carbon emissions from flying are having on climate change, we are putting ourselves in a very similar position to the tobacco industry.'

Although the aviation industry now accounts for just 5.5 per cent of the CO2 generated in the UK, it is one of the fastest-growing generators of the pollution. Some experts estimate that flying could treble in the next 20 years.

'Climate change is an issue that dwarfs all others and the impact of flying is key to this,' said Ellingham. 'All of us involved have a responsibility to inform travellers as clearly and honestly as possible about the environmental cost of their journeys. We must encourage travellers to travel less and neutralise their carbon footprint through offsetting. It is hard to say the positive impact travelling has can ever outweigh the damage done by simply travelling to the destination,' he said. 'Balancing all the positives and negatives, I'm not convinced there is such a thing as a "responsible" or "ethical" holiday.'

Ellingham is calling for a 100 green tax on all flights to Europe and Africa, and 250 on flights to the rest of the world. He also wants investment to create a low-carbon economy, as well as a moratorium on airport expansion.

It was 25 years ago this week when Ellingham sat down at his kitchen table and wrote his first guidebook, using his mother's typewriter. Alongside Lonely Planet, Ellingham's publications revolutionised the travel industry, particularly by encouraging young people to explore the world. 'At that time travelling, as distinct from a two-week holiday, was a niche interest. Students went InterRailing, while the more daring would go island-hopping in Greece,' he said.

In the past 25 years, he said, there has been 'a huge growth in expectation of what people think they can do on holiday. People have more money. Flights cost a fraction of what they did then.'

Last week Easyjet came under criticism from environmentalists for delaying the launch of its carbon emission offsetting scheme, blaming a market riddled with 'snake-oil salesmen'.

Alongside guides enticing travellers to fly, Ellingham also publishes environmental titles, including the Rough Guide to Climate Change which is nominated for the Royal Society Prize for Science Books award, to be announced next week. Even so, he is keenly aware of the incongruity of making pronouncements about how people should moderate their behaviour. 'I acknowledge that I'm speaking about all of this from an apparently contradictory position but it's a question of working with what's realistic: if Rough Guides was to disappear overnight, I don't think anybody would fly any less. I think it's an entirely ethical position of mine to work with what's realistic by encouraging people to moderate the amount they fly, rather than stop altogether,' he said. 'It's up to people to make up their own minds about how they live their lives.'

While determined to encourage people to reduce the number of flights they take, Ellingham admits he has no intention of stopping himself, and he does not expect others to do so either. 'As a "recovering travel writer", I fly less than I would like to, but more than I know that ethically I should. The deal I have made with myself is to limit the number of flights I take to one long-haul and two or three shorter flights each year,' he said. 'I very much respect the purist attitudes of those who say they will never fly again, but it's totally unrealistic to expect the majority to do the same.'

Ellingham is aware of another contradiction in his position. While being hugely destructive, tourism also has so many positive effects that it would be disastrous to the economies of many nations if it were to stop or even be curbed.

Encouraging people to reduce the number of flights they take, however, is no easy task. Ellingham said he has been horrified by a new travelling trend. 'If there was just one thing I could change, it would be this new British obsession for binge flying,' he said. 'We now live in a society where, if people have nothing to do on a Saturday night, they go to Budapest for 48 hours. We fly anywhere at the slightest opportunity, 10 times and upwards a year. This needs to be addressed with the greatest urgency.'


Federal Efficiency Rules Ruin Washing Machines

New Consumer Reports Findings Should Raise Doubts About Government Energy Mandates, Especially for Cars

New findings by Consumer Reports on washing machines demonstrate that their performance has been severely degraded by federal energy efficiency standards. The findings should raise alarms about the federal government's push to tighten its energy conservation mandates, especially when it comes to more complex technologies such as the automobile.

The just released June issue of Consumer Reports finds that many new top-loading models are "sacrificing cleaning ability" due to the Department of Energy's new standards. The standards, which were issued in 2001 but took effect this year, require the machines to use twenty-one percent less energy. The new models comply with these rules, but when it came to cleaning ability "some had the lowest scores we've seen in years", according to the magazine. High performing models are still available, the magazine notes, but often at $900-1000 more. This is in sharp contrast to DOE's claims, in 2001, that the new rules would save consumers money and not affect cleaning ability.

The findings for washing machines should not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the federal government's fuel efficiency program for new cars. The Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules, in place since 1975, have also had the effect of downgrading performance - specifically safety, in large part due to new cars being made lighter. According to the National Academy of Sciences, CAFE rules contribute to thousands of deaths a year.

"The government's claims that its efficiency standards would give us a better product have turned out to be absolutely false," said Competitive Enterprise Institute General Counsel Sam Kazman. "Instead, it has managed to take a simple, reliable, low-cost appliance and wreck it. Why should we believe that government will do any better on something as complex as the car?"

As the Senate Commerce Committee meets tomorrow to mark up more stringent CAFE standards, the example of the humble washing machine is especially relevant. Poorly functioning household appliances are bad enough; vehicles that are less safe are far worse.


The Trouble With Science

By economist Robert Higgs. As a much-published academic myself, I agree strongly with his observations below

In following the discussion of global warming and related issues in the press and the blogosphere, I have been struck repeatedly by the assumption or expression of certain beliefs that strike me as highly problematical. Many writers who are not scientists themselves are trading on the prestige of science and the authority of scientists. Reference to "peer-reviewed research" and to an alleged "scientific consensus" are regarded as veritable knock-out blows by many commentators. Yet many of those who make such references appear to me to be more or less ignorant of how science as a form of knowledge-seeking and scientists as individual professionals operate, especially nowadays, when national governments - most notably the U.S. government - play such an overwhelming role in financing scientific research and hence in determining which scientists rise to the top and which fall by the wayside.

I do not pretend to have expertise in climatology or any of the related physical sciences, so nothing I might say about strictly climatological or related physical-scientific matters deserves any weight. However, I have thirty-nine years of professional experience - twenty-six as a university professor, including fifteen at a major research university, and then thirteen as a researcher, writer, and editor - in close contact with scientists of various sorts, including some in the biological and physical sciences and many in the social sciences and demography. I have served as a peer reviewer for more than thirty professional journals and as a reviewer of research proposals for the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and a number of large private foundations. I was the principal investigator of a major NSF-funded research project in the field of demography. So, I think I know something about how the system works. It does not work as outsiders seem to think.

Peer review, on which lay people place great weight, varies from being an important control, where the editors and the referees are competent and responsible, to being a complete farce, where they are not. As a rule, not surprisingly, the process operates somewhere in the middle, being more than a joke but less than the nearly flawless system of Olympian scrutiny that outsiders imagine it to be. Any journal editor who desires, for whatever reason, to reject a submission can easily do so by choosing referees he knows full well will knock it down; likewise, he can easily obtain favorable referee reports. As I have always counseled young people whose work was rejected, seemingly on improper or insufficient grounds, the system is a crapshoot. Personal vendettas, ideological conflicts, professional jealousies, methodological disagreements, sheer self-promotion, and a great deal of plain incompetence and irresponsibility are no strangers to the scientific world; indeed, that world is rife with these all-too-human attributes. In no event can peer review ensure that research is correct in its procedures or its conclusions. The history of every science is a chronicle of one mistake after another. In some sciences these mistakes are largely weeded out in the course of time; in others they persist for extended periods; and in some sciences, such as economics, actual scientific retrogression may continue for generations under the misguided (but self-serving) belief that it is really progress.

At any given time, consensus may exist about all sorts of matters in a particular science. In retrospect, however, that consensus is often seen to have been mistaken. As recently as the mid-1970s, for example, a scientific consensus existed among climatologists and scientists in related fields that the earth was about to enter a new ice age. Drastic proposals were made, such as exploding hydrogen bombs over the polar icecaps (to melt them) or damming the Bering Strait (to prevent cold Arctic water from entering the Pacific Ocean), to avert this impending disaster. Well-reputed scientists, not just uninformed wackos, made such proposals. How quickly we forget.

Researchers who employ unorthodox methods or theoretical frameworks have great difficulty under modern conditions in getting their findings published in the "best" journals or, at times, in any scientific journal. Scientific innovators or creative eccentrics always strike the great mass of practitioners as nutcases - until their findings become impossible to deny, which often occurs only after one generation's professional ring-masters have died off. Science is an odd undertaking: everybody strives to make the next breakthrough, yet when someone does, he is often greeted as if he were carrying the Ebola virus. Too many people have too much invested in the reigning ideas; for those people an acknowledgment of their own idea's bankruptcy is tantamount to an admission that they have wasted their lives. Often, perhaps to avoid cognitive dissonance, they never admit that their ideas were wrong. Most important, as a rule, in science as elsewhere, to get along, you must go along.

Research worlds, in their upper reaches, are pretty small. Leading researchers know all the major players and what everybody else is doing. They attend the same conferences, belong to the same societies, send their grad students to be postdocs in the other people's labs, review one another's work for the NSF, NIH, or other government funding organizations, and so forth. If you do not belong to this tight fraternity, it will prove very, very difficult for you to gain a hearing for your work, to publish in a "top" journal, to acquire a government grant, to receive an invitation to participate in a scientific-conference panel discussion, or to place your grad students in decent positions. The whole setup is tremendously incestuous; the interconnections are numerous, tight, and close.

In this context, a bright young person needs to display cleverness in applying the prevailing orthodoxy, but it behooves him not to rock the boat by challenging anything fundamental or dear to the hearts of those who constitute the review committees for the NSF, NIH, and other funding organizations. Modern biological and physical science is, overwhelmingly, government-funded science. If your work, for whatever reason, does not appeal to the relevant funding agency's bureaucrats and academic review committees, you can forget about getting any money to carry out your proposal. Recall the human frailties I mentioned previously; they apply just as much in the funding context as in the publication context. Indeed, these two contexts are themselves tightly linked: if you don't get funding, you'll never produce publishable work, and if you don't land good publications, you won't continue to receive funding.

When your research implies a "need" for drastic government action to avert a looming disaster or to allay some dire existing problem, government bureaucrats and legislators (can you say "earmarks"?) are more likely to approve it. If the managers at the NSF, NIH, and other government funding agencies gave great amounts of money to scientists whose research implies that no disaster looms or no dire problem now exists or even that although a problem exists, no currently feasible government policy can do anything to solve it without creating greater problems in the process, members of Congress would be much less inclined to throw money at the agency, with all the consequences that an appropriations cutback implies for bureaucratic thriving. No one has to explain all these things to the parties involved; they are not idiots, and they understand how the wheels are greased in their tight little worlds.

Finally, we need to develop a much keener sense of what a scientist is qualified to talk about and what he is not qualified to talk about. Climatologists, for example, are qualified to talk about the science of climatology (though subject to all the intrusions upon pure science I have already mentioned). They are not qualified to say, however, that "we must act now" by imposing government "solutions" of some imagined sort. They are not professionally knowledgeable about what degree of risk is better or worse for people to take; only the individuals who bear the risk can make that decision, because it's a matter of personal preference, not a matter of science. Climatologists know nothing about cost/benefit considerations; indeed, most mainstream economists themselves are fundamentally misguided about such matters (adopting, for example, procedures and assumptions about the aggregation of individual valuations that lack a sound scientific basis). Climate scientists are the best-qualified people to talk about climate science, but they have no qualifications to talk about public policy, law, or individual values, rates of time preference, and degrees of risk aversion. In talking about desirable government action, they give the impression that they are either fools or charlatans, but they keep talking - worst of all, talking to doomsday-seeking journalists - nevertheless.

In this connection, we might well bear in mind that the United Nations (and its committees and the bureaus it oversees) is no more a scientific organization than the U.S. Congress (and its committees and the bureaus it oversees). When decisions and pronouncements come forth from these political organizations, it makes sense to treat them as essentially political in origin and purpose. Politicians aren't dumb, either - vicious, yes, but not dumb. One thing they know above everything else is how to stampede masses of people into approving or accepting ill-advised government actions that cost the people dearly in both their standard of living and their liberties in the long run


Crazy corn-based ethanol policy

Ethanol produced from sugarcane in tropical countries is hugely more efficient as a source of fuel than ethanol from corn but a stupid old autarkic ("self sufficiency") instinct is leading America into huge folly. Free trade would solve the problem almost overnight

In order to promote ethanol, our government pumps out $4 billion/year in subsidies. Most of that ethanol is made from corn, and the money goes to "farmers", or, more accurately, to farm businesses and cooperatives. From 1995 to 2005, the top 10 percent of corn subsidy recipients were paid 55 percent of corn subsidies. The top 4 states together (Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and Minnesota) receive over half of corn subsidies. It's damned big business, growing corn, not for food but for fuel. As a result, farmers are planting more corn, which has other consequences, one of which is small vegetable farmers not being able to rent land, because all free land is being artificially moved into producing corn.

Bear in mind that it is an impossibility for ethanol to completely replace petroleum gasoline... there simply is not enough land to grow that much corn, or any of the other crops that could be used to produce ethanol. Ethanol also costs more than it's petroleum alternative. Growing more corn reduces corn prices for farmers. Ethanol refineries receive tax credits and make huge profits. We pay more at the pump for fuel with ethanol.

Nevertheless, we've been given the hard sell on ethanol as a petroleum substitute. It's called sustainable, and "green"... better for the environment. Unfortunately, it's all based on a lie. An unpublished Canadian government (which also subsidizes ethanol heavily) study had these results:

The study found no statistical difference between the greenhouse gas emissions of regular unleaded fuel and 10 per cent ethanol blended fuel. Although the study found a reduction in carbon monoxide, a pollutant that forms smog, emissions of some other gases, such as hydrocarbons, actually increased under certain conditions.

* Ethanol isn't "greener"...

* can't replace petroleum...

* distorts crop selection...

* displaces crops used for food and livestock feed...

* harms vegetable farmers...

* costs more at the pump...

* and costs us billions more in taxes

The ethanol scam is a smelly example of government tinkering, of playing favorites, of causing problems worse than what they pretended to try to fix, and of making some people wealthy at the expense of the rest of us. It doesn't take much justifiable cynicism to suspect that a lot of key government officials have pushed ethanol subsidies in exchange for raw cash or sweetheart deals. Even if we were to delude ourselves into giving government the benefit of the doubt, that still leaves them as being dumb enough to buy into a scheme that isn't good enough to compete without subsidies.

Even if ethanol was a good substitute... even if ethanol did reduce polution... government favoritism is wrong and shouldn't be needed for it to compete with petroleum products. Again... and again... and again... government is force, and force is only needed for bad ideas. Good ideas will succeed on their own in the marketplace. We've been sold a crock of ethanol.


Grotesque hysteria about Australia drowning not really surprising

We're told so many mad scare stories about global warming, why shouldn't Art Bell believe this one, too?

And so the radio host and best-selling author last weekend read out to his audience on Coast to Coast, one of America's most listened-to shows, this latest report he'd picked about our warming horror: "Shocking reports from the Kremlin today are showing that the Government of Australia has entered into secret negotiations with the United States and their Commonwealth allies for the proposed evacuation of upwards of 11 million of its 20 million citizens." On he went, telling millions of Americans that our drought was so bad - curse you, global warming! - that the Howard Government might soon hire cruise ships to send us somewhere cooler, once it figured who'd take us.

To Bell, this was the last straw. "I wonder when the climate sceptics are going to finally catch on," he raged. "Will it take something like this? Like evacuating half a nation, before we wake up and realise that it is actually happening?"

Oh, I've caught on all right to what's happening, Art. Caught on to you, for a start. You might think the moral of this farce is not to trust even million-hit websites such as WorldNetDaily, which ran the story Bell read out so credulously, or the news site run by the New-Age nutter who actually dreamed up this hoax, a blogger posing as Russian scientist "Sorcha Faal".

[There is indeed a Russian writer named "Sorcha Faal" and Art Bell is in fact a popular American "paranormal" broadcaster who uses hoaxes from time to time but Andrew Bolt (the writer of this article) appears to have been taken in by Bell's claim that the Russian report ran on "WorldNetDaily". It did NOT run on "WorldNetDaily" and seems to be no more than another hoax dreamed up by Bell]

But the real moral is that global warming fear-mongering is now so shameless and grotesque that otherwise sane people are prepared to believe half our nation is about to head for the boats. You might also think Bell must be on his nutty lonesome to fall for a story so wild. But don't admired global warming cultists say things just as extreme, to huge applause? Why wouldn't Bell think we'd be evacuating in our millions, when Professor Tim Flannery, our Alarmist of the Year, warns that global warming may soon force us to flee our parched cities?

"I think there is a fair chance Perth will be the 21st century's first ghost metropolis," Flannery has blithely claimed. Indeed, he added the other day, "some time in the next 30 years, we face significant destabilisation, rapidly rising sea levels, maybe up to 6m and hundreds of millions of refugees, because there are whole cities going under".

Why wouldn't Bell think we'd need to resettle the populations of coastal Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, given that ABC Science Show host Robyn Williams recently told me on air we could face seas this century 100m higher? Why wouldn't Bell think we'd all be on the move to Alaska or Norway, given that Professor James Lovelock, creator of the Gaia theory, last year told the ABC Late Night Live show, hosted by an approving Phillip Adams, that the rest of the world would soon be uninhabitable? As Lovelock so often puts it: "Before this century is over, billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic."

Good gosh. If that's what even our most admired "experts" tell us, as approved by the ABC, what's so crazy about Bell believing 11 million Australians will soon board ships as global warming refugees? How else does Flannery think we'll pull out of Perth or drowned Sydney?

Apologies. I should now calm you because it's only too easy to be spooked by scares as crazy as these if enough people tell you often enough. And they sure do, in this all-but-unchallenged trillion-dollar racket that is global warming.

So, take comfort that even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the influential United Nations scientists who do most to promote global warming, admit such scares are bogus. As its latest report concedes, its models predict the seas will rise this century at worst by 59cm, not 100m. Antarctica, home of 90 per cent of land-based ice that could drown us, is cooling, not warming, and gaining ice, not losing it.

What's more, a minority of other scientists, some from the Russian Academy of Sciences, say this recent warming may well be caused not by humans but a change in solar activity that has changed again, and we instead face global cooling. Heart stopped racing? But, if the truth isn't really so scary, how did we get to believe stories this freaky? Let's rejoin the babbling Art Bell.

Bell is also famous in a small way for co-authoring a New York Times bestseller, The Coming Global Superstorm, which claimed global warming would monster us with worse storms (not proved) and fast-rising seas (not true), and may soon shut down the warm Gulf Stream (untrue, says the IPCC) sending cities like New York into an ice age (not this century, pal). This is the hyperventilating book that became the smash movie The Day After Tomorrow, which helped to whip up the warming panic.

It didn't matter that scientists dismissed the film as another warming beat-up. There were only too many cause-pushers badly wanting to believe it -- or wanting the gullible masses, at least, to believe enough of it to be scared into submission to their new apocalyptic faith. Even now we get Nonie Sharp, publications editor of the Leftist Australian magazine Arena, fervently declaring: "The first half hour of The Day After Tomorrow was a time of awakening for me." Note Sharp's born-again tone -- so typical of a faith that's taken over the cry of so many past prophets: "Repent, for the end of the world is nigh."

For that message to work well, of course, you must first persuade likely converts that the end of the world really is nigh -- that we really will be down to a few breeding pairs in the Arctic, as the winds wail through the ghost cities of Australia. Get us believing that, and you'll even get some - like Bell - to believe we'll soon have to sail somewhere cooler. In fact, we're losing our reason so fast it won't take long before people will want to reserve tickets for the evacuation.

I see a win-win opportunity here. So let me help the feeble-minded, so eager to trust a Flannery, a Lovelock, a Williams. Book your seat on the SS Evacuate Australia right now. Book today with Tim Flannery and avoid the rush as our cites drown in rising seas of hype, or get swallowed by hot clouds of bulldust. We sceptics will be at the docks to wave you off on your voyage to Nirvana. I can't tell you how sorry we'll be to see you go. I honestly can't.



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

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

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


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A heretic with vast experience: "The father of the science of modern climatology"

Some people are lucky enough to enjoy their work, some are lucky enough to love it, and then there's Reid Bryson. At age 86, he's still hard at it every day, delving into the science some say he invented.

Reid A. Bryson holds the 30th PhD in Meteorology granted in the history of American education. Emeritus Professor and founding chairman of the University of Wisconsin Department of Meteorology-now the Department of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences-in the 1970s he became the first director of what's now the UW's Gaylord Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies. He's a member of the United Nations Global 500 Roll of Honor-created, the U.N. says, to recognize "outstanding achievements in the protection and improvement of the environment." He has authored five books and more than 230 other publications and was identified by the British Institute of Geographers as the most frequently cited climatologist in the world.

Long ago in the Army Air Corps, Bryson and a colleague prepared the aviation weather forecast that predicted discovery of the jet stream by a group of B-29s flying to and from Tokyo. Their warning to expect westerly winds at 168 knots earned Bryson and his friend a chewing out from a general-and the general's apology the next day when he learned they were right. Bryson flew into a couple of typhoons in 1944, three years before the Weather Service officially did such things, and he prepared the forecast for the homeward flight of the Enola Gay. Back in Wisconsin, he built a program at the UW that's trained some of the nation's leading climatologists.

How Little We Know

Bryson is a believer in climate change, in that he's as quick as anyone to acknowledge that Earth's climate has done nothing but change throughout the planet's existence. In fact, he took that knowledge a big step further, earlier than probably anyone else. Almost 40 years ago, Bryson stood before the American Association for the Advancement of Science and presented a paper saying human activity could alter climate.

"I was laughed off the platform for saying that," he told Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News.

In the 1960s, Bryson's idea was widely considered a radical proposition. But nowadays things have turned almost in the opposite direction: Hardly a day passes without some authority figure claiming that whatever the climate happens to be doing, human activity must be part of the explanation. And once again, Bryson is challenging the conventional wisdom.

"Climate's always been changing and it's been changing rapidly at various times, and so something was making it change in the past," he told us in an interview this past winter. "Before there were enough people to make any difference at all, two million years ago, nobody was changing the climate, yet the climate was changing, okay?"

"All this argument is the temperature going up or not, it's absurd," Bryson continues. "Of course it's going up. It has gone up since the early 1800s, before the Industrial Revolution, because we're coming out of the Little Ice Age, not because we're putting more carbon dioxide into the air."

Little Ice Age? That's what chased the Vikings out of Greenland after they'd farmed there for a few hundred years during the Mediaeval Warm Period, an earlier run of a few centuries when the planet was very likely warmer than it is now, without any help from industrial activity in making it that way. What's called "proxy evidence"-assorted clues extrapolated from marine sediment cores, pollen specimens, and tree-ring data-helps reconstruct the climate in those times before instrumental temperature records existed.

We ask about that evidence, but Bryson says it's second-tier stuff. "Don't talk about proxies," he says. "We have written evidence, eyeball evidence. When Eric the Red went to Greenland, how did he get there? It's all written down."

Bryson describes the navigational instructions provided for Norse mariners making their way from Europe to their settlements in Greenland. The place was named for a reason: The Norse farmed there from the 10th century to the 13th, a somewhat longer period than the United States has existed. But around 1200 the mariners' instructions changed in a big way. Ice became a major navigational reference. Today, old Viking farmsteads are covered by glaciers.

Bryson mentions the retreat of Alpine glaciers, common grist for current headlines. "What do they find when the ice sheets retreat, in the Alps?"

We recall the two-year-old report saying a mature forest and agricultural water-management structures had been discovered emerging from the ice, seeing sunlight for the first time in thousands of years. Bryson interrupts excitedly.

"A silver mine! The guys had stacked up their tools because they were going to be back the next spring to mine more silver, only the snow never went," he says. "There used to be less ice than now. It's just getting back to normal."

What Leads, What Follows?

What is normal? Maybe continuous change is the only thing that qualifies. There's been warming over the past 150 years and even though it's less than one degree, Celsius, something had to cause it. The usual suspect is the "greenhouse effect," various atmospheric gases trapping solar energy, preventing it being reflected back into space.

We ask Bryson what could be making the key difference:

Q: Could you rank the things that have the most significant impact and where would you put carbon dioxide on the list?

A: Well let me give you one fact first. In the first 30,000 feet of the atmosphere, on the average, outward radiation from the Earth, which is what CO2 is supposed to affect, how much [of the reflected energy] is absorbed by water vapor? In the first 30,000 feet, 80 percent, okay?

Q: Eighty percent of the heat radiated back from the surface is absorbed in the first 30,000 feet by water vapor.

A: And how much is absorbed by carbon dioxide? Eight hundredths of one percent. One one-thousandth as important as water vapor. You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide.

This begs questions about the widely publicized mathematical models researchers run through supercomputers to generate climate scenarios 50 or 100 years in the future. Bryson says the data fed into the computers overemphasizes carbon dioxide and accounts poorly for the effects of clouds-water vapor. Asked to evaluate the models' long-range predictive ability, he answers with another question: "Do you believe a five-day forecast?"

Bryson says he looks in the opposite direction, at past climate conditions, for clues to future climate behavior. Trying that approach in the weeks following our interview, Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News soon found six separate papers about Antarctic ice core studies, published in peer-reviewed scientific journals between 1999 and 2006. The ice core data allowed researchers to examine multiple climate changes reaching back over the past 650,000 years. All six studies found atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations tracking closely with temperatures, but with CO2 lagging behind changes in temperature, rather than leading them. The time lag between temperatures moving up-or down-and carbon dioxide following ranged from a few hundred to a few thousand years.

Renaissance Man, Marathon Man

When others were laughing at the concept, Reid Bryson was laying the ground floor for scientific investigation of human impacts on climate. We asked UW Professor Ed Hopkins, the assistant state climatologist, about the significance of Bryson's work in advancing the science he's now practiced for six decades.

"His contributions are manifold," Hopkins said. "He wrote Climates of Hunger back in the 1970s looking at how climate changes over the last several thousand years have affected human activity and human cultures."

This, he suggests, is traceable to Bryson's high-school interest in archaeology, followed by college degrees in geology, then meteorology, and studies in oceanography, limnology, and other disciplines. "He's looked at the interconnections of all these things and their impact on human societies," Hopkins says. "He's one of those people I would say is a Renaissance person."

The Renaissance, of course, produced its share of heretics, and 21 years after he supposedly retired, one could ponder whether Bryson's work today is a tale of continuing heresy, or of conventional wisdom being outpaced by an octogenarian.

Without addressing-or being asked-that question, UW Green Bay Emeritus Professor Joseph Moran agrees that Bryson qualifies as "the father of the science of modern climatology."

"In his lifetime, in his career, he has shaped the future as well as the present state of climatology," Moran says, adding, "We're going to see his legacy with us for many generations to come."

Holding bachelor's and master's degrees from Boston College, Moran became a doctoral candidate under Bryson in the late 1960s and early '70s. "I came to Wisconsin because he was there," Moran told us.

With Hopkins, Moran co-authored Wisconsin's Weather and Climate, a book aimed at teachers, students, outdoor enthusiasts, and workers with a need to understand what the weather does and why. Bryson wrote a preface for the book but Hopkins told us the editors "couldn't fathom" certain comments, thinking he was being too flippant with the remark that "Wisconsin is not for wimps when it comes to weather."

Clearly what those editors couldn't fathom was that Bryson simply enjoys mulling over the reasons weather and climate behave as they do and what might make them-and consequently us-behave differently. This was immediately obvious when we asked him why, at his age, he keeps showing up for work at a job he's no longer paid to do.

"It's fun!" he said. Ed Hopkins and Joe Moran would undoubtedly agree.

"I think that's one of the reasons for his longevity," Moran says. "He's so interested and inquisitive. I regard him as a pot-stirrer. Sometimes people don't react well when you challenge their long-held ideas, but that's how real science takes place."


China Boasts One Child Policy has Reduced Green House Gas Emissions

Hu Tao of China's State Environmental Protection Administration praised his country's One Child population control policy for its contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases. The policy, introduced in the early 1980's, has been condemned by international human rights agencies for including forced abortion, infanticide and sterilization as well as heavy financial and legal penalties for having children.

Speaking last month at a meeting in Oslo on the UN's Kyoto Protocol, Hu claimed that the coercive abortion and sterilization policy has had the side effect of slowing "global warming" by limiting the population to 1.3 billion. "This has reduced greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

China's One Child policy has been identified as the cause of a looming demographic crisis in which, given the cultural preference for boys, too few girls are being allowed to live to birth to maintain a gender balance in the population. Demographers predict that there will be 40 million unmarried men in China by 2020 and the situation is already creating a dramatic rise in prostitution and the buying and selling of women.

The close connection between the environmental lobby and the population control and international abortion movement is well established. In 1968 Paul R. Erlich, a renowned entomologist specializing in butterflies, published the book the Population Bomb that posited a connection between environmental degradation and overpopulation. Ehrlich went on to found the lobby group Zero Population Growth (ZPG) in 1968, that was instrumental in bringing about changes in US law to make contraception and abortion legal and widely available.

Although Erlich's predictions of worldwide famine and environmental disaster have repeatedly failed materialize, the claims of ZPG, now called the Population Connection, continue to guide international policy. The group claims credit, along with the abortion lobby groups National Organization for Women and Planned Parenthood of America, and the American Civil Liberties Union, and the U.S. Supreme Court for helping to establish an international movement to decrease human population, particularly in the developing world.



European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas has slated German plans to build at least 26 new power stations fired with low-energy, high-polluting brown coal, in an interview published in yesterday's edition of Germany's mass-circulation Bild. "Brown coal is the least favourable choice when it comes to greenhouse gases," Dimas said. Brown coal, also known as lignite, produces less energy and more carbon dioxide a ton than do hard coals such as anthracite "Those still building new coal-fired power stations must be aware that this policy could be expensive for all of us in the long term," Dimas was quoted as saying.

The commissioner was speaking following the publication in Bangkok on Friday of a report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report said the target of containing global temperature rises to an average 2øC in the long term was achievable but required rapid action to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Dimas noted that the European Union, under Germany's presidency, had earlier this year committed it to cutting carbon dioxide emissions 20% from 1990 levels by 2020. Germany plans to build the power stations, making use of its large lignite reserves.


Coral reef nonsense dying?

Since coral flourishes best in warm water, the idea that global warming would be bad for coral was always absurd. It now seems that the real reason for coral dieoff is beginning to emerge -- though a hypothetical link to global warming is still being clung to:

Researchers trying to find the causes of coral bleaching that has devastated reefs around the world have identified a virus that may be responsible. It is believed to be naturally present in symbiotic algae within corals, but with temperatures and levels of ultraviolet light increasing because of global warming it is multiplying, with deadly effect.

The algae that provide the corals with carbohydrates and sugars die, leaving the corals too weak to prevent larger algal lifeforms smothering the reefs. An estimated 30 per cent of corals are expected to disappear in the next 30 years, with bleaching playing a major role.

Microbiologists at the University of Plymouth used electron microscopy images to study and name the virus as ZFV1, with their findings published in the journal Applied and Enviromental Microbiology. The virus was identified by Jayme Lohr, a Phd student.

Dr Colin Munn, of the University of Plymouth, said "This could explain how climate change alone is not responsible for the destruction of coral reefs."


Pesticide-Free Schools Full of Rats

Our local radio station is encouraging parents to protest the use of pesticides in our schools. The station is broadcasting "public service announcements" saying pesticides used in the schools are "linked" to cancer, asthma and lower IQ scores among the kids. Probably you are hearing the same announcements on your radio stations. They're produced by Earthworks, a consortium of eco-groups, and sponsored by The Ad Council.

Pesticide fears are clearly mainstream these days. The reality is that we worry about pesticides because so few of today's parents have actually seen the diseases that rats, mice, and roaches have historically brought with them. Public health officials are certain that if vermin took over today's schools, as they took over 19th-century cities before modern pesticides were developed, our children would not be safe in schools from diseases we have been able to forget.

The dried urine and feces from rats and mice can spread such diseases as leptospirosis, rat-bite fever, and at least one form of meningitis. Rats are the historic vehicle for epidemics of Black Plague. Cockroaches can spread typhoid fever, dysentery, gastroenteritis, and carry in their guts the bacteria that cause salmonella and staphylococcus infections.

Nor is there any evidence that the pesticides approved for use in schools pose any dangers to the kids-or anybody else. The source materials cited by Earthworks don't provide any peer-reviewed documentation of pesticide harm. Their statements are full of weasel-words such as "linked," with the linkage perhaps just somebody's printed accusation. Or they say "researchers hypothesize," which is the professional's word for guessing.

Earthworks says researchers "hypothesize that pesticides are among the preventable causes of asthma in children." In fact, the evidence says it's the discarded casings of cockroaches that are a major cause of asthma. If you don't control the roaches, you get more asthma attacks among the kids.

The EPA once told us we could control cockroaches just by taping up our windows, doors and the cracks along the baseboards-but I never found anyone who believed that. If you can't control cockroaches at home by taping up the cracks around the house, don't expect it to work in a public building. Especially with eggs sacks hiding in lunch sacks and grocery bags, just waiting for a free ride into the building.

Even uncontrolled weeds in the schoolyards pose danger. More ragweed means more allergy attacks. But the anti-pesticide activists oppose even the use of herbicides such as glyphosate, which health authorities say is about as toxic as tea and talcum powder.

However, the members of the Pesticide Action Network apparently cannot emotionally tolerate the use of any pesticide anywhere, any time, no matter what dangers to our children they prevent. We should be able to rely on the Ad Council to check out their "public service" announcements. In this case they should take another look at the Earthworks' agenda.



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

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

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


Tuesday, May 08, 2007


An abstract below (Source: "Energy & Environment", Volume 17, Number 1, January 2006, pp. 29-35(7). The full paper is here

Solar cycles 24 and 25 and predicted climate response

By: D.C. Archibald

Projections of weak solar maxima for solar cycles 24 and 25 are correlated with the terrestrial climate response to solar cycles over the last three hundred years, derived from a review of the literature. Based on solar maxima of approximately 50 for solar cycles 24 and 25, a global temperature decline of 1.5øC is predicted to 2020, equating to the experience of the Dalton Minimum. To provide a baseline for projecting temperature to the projected maximum of solar cycle 25, data from five rural, continental US stations with data from 1905 to 2003 was averaged and smoothed. The profile indicates that temperatures remain below the average over the first half of the twentieth century.

David Archibald also has an excellent presentation here called "The past and future of climate". Lots of great graphs!

The CO2 Fraud

Obviously encouraged by the exhaustive work of Prof Ernst Beck, Prof. Jaworowski has done a big new article on the extraordinary history of atmospheric CO2 measurement. The full paper is here and an extract is below:

We thus find ourselves in the situation that the entire theory of man-made global warming-with its repercussions in science, and its important consequences for politics and the global economy-is based on ice core studies that provided a false picture of the atmospheric CO2 levels.

Meanwhile, more than 90,000 direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere, carried out in America, Asia, and Europe between 1812 and 1961, with excellent chemical methods (accuracy better than 3%), were arbitrarily rejected. These measurements had been published in 175 technical papers. For the past three decades, these well-known direct CO2 measurements, recently compiled and analyzed by Ernst-Georg Beck (Beck 2006a, Beck 2006b, Beck 2007), were completely ignored by climatologists-and not because they were wrong. Indeed, these measurements were made by several Nobel Prize winners, using the techniques that are standard textbook procedures in chemistry, biochemistry, botany, hygiene, medicine,nutrition, and ecology. The only reason for rejection was that these measurements did not fit the hypothesis of anthropogenic climatic warming. I regard this as perhaps the greatest scientific scandal of our time.

From among this treasure of excellent data (ranging up to 550 ppmv of measured CO2 levels), the founders of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis (Callendar 1949, Callendar 1958, and Keeling 1986) selected only a tiny fraction of the data and doctored it, to select out the low concentraions and reject the high values-all in order to set a falsely low pre-industrial average CO2 concentration of 280 ppmv as in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century. This manipulation has been discussed several times since the 1950s (Fonsel et al. 1956, Jaworowski et al. 1992b, and Slocum 1955), and more recently and in-depth by Beck 2007.

The "People are pollution" brigade are back

The story of their incarnation of the '60s and '70s is here

HAVING large families should be frowned upon as an environmental misdemeanour in the same way as frequent long-haul flights, driving a 4x4 car and failing to reuse plastic bags, according to a report to be published tomorrow by a green think tank. The paper by the Optimum Population Trust (OPT) will say that if couples had two children instead of three they could cut their family's carbon dioxide output by the equivalent of 620 return flights a year between London and New York.

John Guillebaud, co-chairman of OPT and emeritus professor of family planning at University College London, said: "The effect on the planet of having one child less is an order of magnitude greater than all these other things we might do, such as switching off lights. An extra child is the equivalent of a lot of flights across the planet. "The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child."

In his latest comments the academic says that when couples are planning a family they should be encouraged to think about the environmental consequences. "The decision to have children should be seen as a very big one and one that should take the environment into account," he added. Guillebaud says that, as a general guideline, couples should produce no more than two offspring.

The world's population is expected to increase by 2.5 billion to 9.2 billion by 2050. Almost all the population growth will take place in developing countries. The population of developed nations is expected to remain unchanged and would have declined but for migration. The British fertility rate is 1.7. The EU average is 1.5. In some countries, such as France, the government is so concerned it has introduced financial incentives for women to have more than two children.

Despite this, Guillebaud says rich countries should be the most concerned about family size as their children have higher per capita carbon dioxide emissions. The suggestion has been criticised by family rights campaigners. Eileen McCloy, a geography graduate from Glasgow with 10 children, said: "How dare they suggest how many children we should have. Who do they think are going to look after our elderly? "According to this I would have five couples' quota of children. I believe my children will be productive members of society."



"The CBO has revealed that a C02 cap-and-trade allocation scheme will result in a transfer of wealth from poor to rich."

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, today said the new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on proposed C02 cap-and-trade legislation was a "devastating indictment." The CBO report laid out the negative impact a cap-and-trade system would have on Americans, in particular, the poor. The CBO report, titled "Trade-Offs in Allocating Allowances for CO2 Emissions," was released on April 25, 2007.

"The CBO report exposes what I have been saying all along: C02 cap-and-trade schemes are an utter failure," Senator Inhofe said. "The CBO has revealed that a C02 cap-and-trade allocation scheme will result in a transfer of wealth from poor to rich. The Democratic leadership has to explain why they are willing to line the pockets of their corporate friends at the expense of the working class.

"Far from being good for the economy, as advocates say, C02 allocation schemes will disproportionately burden the poor, raise taxes, increase government spending, raise gas prices, raise home energy costs and decrease wages. It is hard to imagine the CBO issuing a more devastating indictment of proposed C02 cap-and-trade schemes. The CBO report should be viewed as a stern warning to our elected leaders to avoid symbolic solutions to an alleged climate `crisis' that places the financial burden on America's poor and working class.

"Today's report confirms what Europe, Canada and many other nations have come to realize about C02 cap-and-trade schemes: The entire carbon debate has been skewed toward the least effective and most economically damaging of the various approaches.

"Today's CBO report is the most recent analysis to show the folly of schemes like the Kyoto Protocol. Kyoto, if implemented, would result in the largest tax increase in the history of the U.S., costing an estimated $300 billion a year -- 10 times the cost of the Clinton-Gore tax increase of 1993. And even Kyoto proponents concede that it would have virtually no impact on the climate." Excerpts from the CBO report:

""Regardless of how the allowances were distributed, most of the cost of meeting a cap on CO2 emissions would be borne by consumers, who would face persistently higher prices for products such as electricity and gasoline. Those price increases would be regressive in that poorer households would bear a larger burden relative to their income than wealthier households would."

"The CBO noted that the proposed cap-and-trade allocation method "would increase producers' profits without lessening consumers' costs. In essence, such a strategy would transfer income from energy consumers-among whom lower income households would bear disproportionately large burdens-to shareholders of energy companies, who are disproportionately higher-income households."

"Researchers conclude that much or all of the allowance cost would be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. Those price increases would disproportionately affect people at the bottom of the income scale. For example, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the price rises resulting from a 15 percent cut in CO2 emissions would cost the average household in the lowest one-fifth (quintile) of the income distribution about 3.3 percent of its average income. By comparison, a household in the top quintile would pay about 1.7 percent of its average income."

"A cap-and-trade program for CO2 emissions would tend to increase government spending and decrease revenues."

"The higher prices caused by the cap would lower real (inflation-adjusted) wages and real returns on capital, indirectly raising marginal tax rates on those sources of income."


Is beer the solution?

We know who turned water into wine. Now Australian scientists are going a step further - they are turning wine and beer waste into water to generate electricity.

Miracles aside, man still relies on a lengthy process to make alcoholic drinks that produces tens of millions of litres of waste water a day. Scientists at the University of Queensland have developed a way of recycling that waste twice over. The technology involves sugar-consuming bacteria that "clean" the water and produce energy in the process. After laboratory tests, they are now building a chemical reactor on the site of Australia's largest brewery, Foster's in Brisbane. It is expected to generate enough electricity to power a large household around the clock by using a fraction - about 2,500 litres (550 gallons) - of the 2.5 million litres of waste water the brewery generates each day.

If the venture succeeds, the scientists believe that the technology could be expanded and used at many breweries, wineries and food-processing plants to generate electricity. The potential for electricity generation is enormous. A larger chemical reactor capable of harnessing all the waste from the Brisbane site would produce enough electricity to supply about 2,000 households.

At the heart of the process is a microbial fuel cell - essentially a battery in which bacteria consume rich, water-soluble brewing wastes such as sugar, starch and alcohol. The bacteria release chemical energy from the organic material, which is then converted into electricity. Joerg Keller, leader of the Queensland University project, told The Times: "Waste material is actually a very good source of chemical energy that we can convert into electrical energy or gas energy. "It is, for the first time, possible to generate electricity directly out of the waste that's in waste water."

There are other research projects around the world exploring similar technology but, Professor Keller said, the Queensland project was believed to be the first ready to move out of the lab and on to an industrial site. The 2,500-litre fuel cell to be erected at the brewery will be 250 times bigger than a prototype that has been operating effectively at the university's laboratory for three months.

Asked if he expected that a larger cell would be built to harness the electricity-generation potential of all of the waste water produced by breweries, wineries and food processors, Professor Keller said: "Oh, for sure and that's the next step. "We have to iron out a few issues at this [2,500 litres] scale, obviously, and then hopefully we can take it to a larger scale again." The technology is particularly attractive to brewers and winemakers in drought-hit Australia, where water is becoming increasingly scarce and expensive.

The country's many coal-fired power stations also make the nation one of the world's leading greenhouse gas emitters per capita. The benefits promised by the technology are twofold: it successfully prepares waste water for recycling without using the large amounts of electrical power that traditional treatment systems require. Therefore, it not only saves on electric power use but also generates it. And the water, at the end of the process is good enough to drink, according to Professor Keller, who has sampled it.


Greenie morons: "The Popular Science blog has links to a photo essay "on the rapidly disappearing town of Shishmaref on the ABC News Web site. The coastal Alaskan village has about 600 residents and is believed to have been inhabited (on and off) for 4,000 years. Today, with water rising about 10 feet a year, it's in danger of sinking. The population of Shishmaref may soon count themselves among the first wave of global-warming refugees." The Popular Science accounts gives the impression that the sea levels have risen by 10 feet a year on the Alaskan coast. But accounts of islands that are "sinking" have been shown due to factors which cause subsidence in the land. Anyone who claims that the sea level goes up 10 feet a year in Alaska due, presumably to melting Polar ice caps, should explain why the Sydney Opera House is still visible, or why anyone with beachfront property is not drowned unless the sea can change its level in one place and not in another."


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

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

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


Monday, May 07, 2007


Below is the first of a series of excerpts about the new IPCC encyclical

A United Nations panel today released its most comprehensive strategy to avoid the catastrophic effects of global warming, but experts said that political and economic realities likely doom it to failure. Despite backing by more than 100 countries, including the United States and China, the report's call for trillions of dollars to pay for immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions make it largely symbolic, experts said.

There is little sign that the United States and China -- which account for nearly half the world's emissions -- would agree to mandatory reductions, they said. "The notion that all countries are going to sign on tomorrow is ridiculous," said John Reilly, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.



Preventing dangerous man-made global warming? It'll be cheap, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That's the conclusion of the Summary for Policymakers (SPM3) from the IPCC's Working Group III on "Mitigation of Climate Change" that was issued in Bangkok earlier today.

Even the most stringent goal of following a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction trajectory that aims to stabilize greenhouse concentrations at around 535 parts per million (ppm) would reduce annual GDP growth rates by less than 0.12 percent per year by 2030. In that scenario, global GDP in 2030 would be 3 percent lower than it would otherwise have been without emissions reductions. The current world GDP is around $47 trillion, and in 23 years, at 3 percent per year growth rate, it would double to about $94 trillion without any emissions reductions. A 3 percent GDP reduction in 2030 implies that world GDP would drop to $91.3 trillion.

In other words, putting humanity on a path to stabilizing GHG concentrations to below the equivalent of 535 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would cost humanity an average of $117 billion per year in lost economic growth for the next 23 years....

Finally, if claims by the IPCC Working Group III Summary for Policymakers are right about the low cost of mitigating climate change-and analysts will have to wait to see the full report before thoroughly assessing their accuracy-then big sacrifices from consumers and massive changes in lifestyles will not be necessary.

Even better news is that the economies of all countries, especially those of poor countries, can grow rapidly throughout this century. And that's especially good news because the best insurance against catastrophe-climatic and otherwise--is increased wealth and technological progress.



World leaders will have to agree the shape of a "son of Kyoto" treaty before the end of the year if the most catastrophic effects of climate change are to be averted, UN officials said yesterday.

Could harmful emissions from power plants really be a thing of the past? UN officials believe the world is ready to change They were speaking after scientists and officials from 120 countries agreed in Bangkok that the world has the technology and can afford to tackle the effects of climate change - provided it begins immediately.

Envoys sent out by the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon, have begun seeking advance agreement from heads of state on the principles of a post-2012 climate change treaty, negotiations for which begin at a meeting in Indonesia in December. The secretary-general's latest initiative comes after a new consensus on what could be done was agreed by scientists and officials, including those from the US, China and the European Union.

The prompt adoption of biofuels, renewable energy sources, greater energy efficiency and nuclear power can slow down what would otherwise be a worldwide disaster, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's working group. Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the 2,000-strong network of UN scientists and energy experts, said of the final summary of its report: "It's stunning in its brilliance and relevance. It's a remarkable step forward." He said the report would have a "profound" effect on ministers attending the negotiations in Indonesia later this year - which will include the US even though it is not a member of the Kyoto treaty.

David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, said after the report was published: "Without a new global deal on climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases will continue to increase. That's why we're pushing hard for negotiations to start on a new global climate deal this year and are working through the G8 group of nations and the UN climate change conference."

Ogunlade Davidson, co-chairman of the group that wrote the report, said: "If we continue what we are doing now, we are in deep trouble." Coming out of the meeting early yesterday, delegates said science appeared to have trumped politics - especially opposition from China, which wanted to condone a greater build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere before action would be taken. Beijing and its supporters had argued that moves to make deep cuts in carbon dioxide emissions risked stifling its spectacular economic growth, delegates said. China failed to remove mention of a stringent emission target. The Chinese delegation could not be reached for comment.

Yvo de Boer, the UN's most senior climate change official, said: "One of the key sectors in terms of mitigation is the energy supply sector. More than two thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions come from this sector. "The way in which the future energy needs are met will determine whether the efforts to address climate change will remain manageable."

The head of the US delegation, Harlan Watson said: "The US leads the world in deploying a range of technologies that scientific and economic experts have now agreed can provide a global solution to reduce emissions and sustain economic growth."



The Minister of the Environment, the Honourable John Baird, today welcomed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report by Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change, released earlier today in Bangkok, Thailand. "The IPCC summary report further demonstrates that we are heading in the right direction with our Turning the Corner Plan," said Minister Baird. "Our Government's plan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution which is a major step towards mitigating years of Liberal inaction." Climate change is a global issue that requires global solutions. As each country is also shaped by its own domestic realities, Canada's New Government is taking a leadership role in tackling this challenge.


Australian government says IPCC report backs their position

The Federal Environment Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, says the last of the United Nations reports on climate change has confirmed that his Government's policies are correct. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report found that stabilising emissions would cost around 3 per cent of global GDP at most. It also found that emissions must peak within 13 years to avoid a temperature increase of more than two degrees centigrade, and called for urgent political action to address the situation.

Mr Turnbull says the report shows that the Government is heading in the right direction: "There is nothing in there that isn't consistent with our policy," he said. "If you look at the things that they say we should be doing now, they are all things which Australia is leading the world in. "Energy efficiency, we're the first country to phase out incandescent lights, we are leading the world in a campaign to reduce deforestation." ....

Mr Turnbull says Labor's plan to reduce Australia's emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 will cost jobs and have little global impact. "If you put a heavy price on Australia's energy intensive industries, those industries will move offshore and their emissions with them," he said.

More here


The marathon talks to tackle climate change that ended in Bangkok yesterday were a "step backward", Thai experts say. An imbalance in the 35-page report shows that developing countries lost a political battle, said Sitanond Jessadapipat, a member of Thailand's national climate change subcommittee. The report only suggests how developing countries can contribute to mitigating climate change, while mentioning no significant roles for developed countries, Sitanond said. "This is a step backward compared to the Kyoto Protocol, which clearly mentioned that developed countries have to take leading roles in reducing greenhouse gas emissions," he told The Nation. "I feel the report leaves the burden of reducing greenhouse gas on developing countries," said Sitanond, who was a commentator on the report, but was not among the 22 Thai delegates at the climate change summit.



And what is the right price? The report says that to stabilise greenhouse-gas concentrations at 550 parts per million (a level most scientists think safeish) would require a price of $20-50 per tonne of carbon by 2020-30. That is along the lines of the carbon price established the European Emissions-Trading Scheme, which varied between $6 and $40 in 2005-06. It has not bankrupted the European economy so far.

The IPCC's economic models reckon, on average, that if the world adopted such a price the global economy would be 1.3% smaller than it otherwise would have been by 2050; or, put another way, global economic growth would be 0.1% a year lower than it otherwise would have been. The world would barely notice such figures; so one might think that climate change can be easily sorted.

The problem, of course, is that the numbers work only if they are applied globally. If a few countries-even a few big countries-adopt a carbon price, it will make little difference. All the world's big emitters need to do it. Which brings the world straight back to the problem that sank Kyoto. No country alone can make a difference, and it is in every country's interest to ensure that everybody else bears the burden. As the IPCC report convincingly argues, the technology and the economics of this problem are easily soluble. It is the politics that is so difficult.



Climate scientists, economists and policy researchers are all in agreement: limiting long-term global warming is achievable at a "negligible" cost. Now, the responsibility for action lies in the hands of politicians, they say.

The cost estimates for stabilising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were released on Friday in the latest chapter of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report: it will cost between 0.2% and 3.0% of global GDP by 2030 (see Price placed on limiting global warming).

The IPCC cost estimates can be put in perspective by comparing them with what the average voter would have to contribute, says Ralf Martin of the London School of Economics, UK. In 2005, UK households had an average weekly income of 350 pounds ($700). Reducing that by 0.2% to achieve the smallest greenhouse gas reduction considered by the IPCC would cost each household 36 pounds ($72) a year. At 3% per year, achieving the greatest reduction considered would cost 546 ($1092).

"The cheaper scenario would mean going out to dinner one time less a year, whereas the higher figure gets into the range of having or not having a car," says Martin. "The higher figure might be a hard sell. However, I would suggest that whether either figure is acceptable depends largely on how it will be sold to voters."

Benito Mueller, a climate policy researcher at Oxford University in the UK agrees: "All these things are open to spin. If you put it in so many trillions, everyone gets frightened. But once you put the numbers into perspective they must become politically acceptable. If not, we are being totally irrational."



There's no such thing as a happy Greenie

Environmental Groups Condemn IPCC Call For Large Scale Biofuels as a Climate Disaster In The Making .... Environmental groups are, however, deeply concerned that the IPCC's Summary for Policy Makers on climate mitigation, released earlier today, includes a recommendation for large- scale expansion of biofuels from monocultures, including from GM crops, even though monoculture expansion is a driving force behind the destruction of rainforests and other carbon sinks and reservoirs, thus accelerating climate change.

The IPCC also recommend the expansion of large-scale agroforestry monoculture plantations. These plantations, which will include GM trees, are similarly linked to ecosystem destruction. Monoculture expansion is a major threat to the livelihoods and food sovereignty of communities many of which are already bearing the brunt of climate change disasters caused largely by the fossil fuel emissions of industrialised countries.

Almuth Ernsting of Biofuelwatch stated: "It is already clear that the burgeoning demand for biofuels that has been created to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is actually increasing them by deforestation in the tropics and accelerating climate change. So far, only 1% of global transport fuel comes from biofuels, yet already biofuels cause steep rises in grain and vegetable oil prices, threatening the food security of poor people and spurring agricultural expansion into forests and grasslands, on which we depend for a stable climate".



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

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

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


Sunday, May 06, 2007


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will soon release its 4th Assessment Report. This report will again warn that atmospheric temperatures are due to rise this century with harmful consequences for the planet's ecosystems. The IPCC will recommend that the world embark on an urgent effort to rein in greenhouse gas emissions to diminish these harmful effects.

However, regulatory efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions cannot succeed and governments, especially in the developed world, should not attempt them. Adapting to climate change, should it occur, is the only feasible strategy. Governments in the developed world should focus their efforts on policies that will ease adaptation to higher temperatures rather than waste effort and resources on attempting to prevent climate change from occurring.

Let us assume that the IPCC's predictions are valid. How should governments and societies respond? Government regulations in the developed world to cap or reduce greenhouse gases are a lost cause and should be abandoned. Unless China, India, and other rapidly expanding economic centers in the developing world fully participate in greenhouse gas reduction efforts, regulatory schemes in the west will simply displace economic activity from the "clean" developed world to the "dirty" developing world, making the global greenhouse gas problem worse, not better.

This recent article from the Washington Post described how Europe's greenhouse gas "cap and trade" scheme shifted production from some of Europe's cleanest factories to far dirtier factories in China and Morocco. And TCS Daily's Nick Schulz told the story about how a German steel mill was disassembled, shipped to China, and reassembled, and now produces steel in China without any greenhouse gas constraints.

Will developing countries ever volunteer to meaningfully cut back their greenhouse gas emissions? Governments in developing countries face publics eager to attain the standards of living they observe in the developed world. Restraining economic growth or imposing additional environmental costs are not likely to be sustainable political positions with populations already aware of their poverty.

An indication of this recently arrived from China, soon to be the greatest greenhouse gas emitter. After consulting with local and provincial governments, China's government delayed indefinitely its national action plan on climate change. Political stability seems to trump global warming.

What if, against all indications, the developing world suddenly agreed to restrict, through government action, its greenhouse gas emissions? Enforcement and compliance would then become concerns. Assuming that there is a significant cost attached to greenhouse gas reduction (lower output, or higher capital or operating expenses), there is then a strong incentive to cheat on compliance. The atmosphere is a "commons"; a greenhouse gas cheater would get all of the benefits of lower production costs, while passing on the consequences of cheating to the rest of the world. There would be no incentive for any one actor to fulfill his greenhouse gas reduction promises. What if cheaters, either countries or localities, could be reliably identified? Could some world body impose punishments on cheaters? What punishments? Trade sanctions? Trade sanctions punish the punisher as much as the punished.

With the incentive for cheating so strong and the likelihood of cheating so widespread, a "cheaters' trading bloc" would likely form, reducing or eliminating the pain of any punishment the virtuous non-cheaters might wish to impose. How about punishing greenhouse gas cheaters with military action? I will wait for someone else to propose war as an answer.

Unless there is a stunning political and cultural transformation in the developing world in the direction of economic self-denial, halting the rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through government action will simply not occur. The solution to greenhouse gas emissions may occur for others reasons such as technology improvements or market action, but these solutions would make the discussion of global warming as a public policy problem moot.

Responsible statesmen should acknowledge the futility of trying to use government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They should focus their efforts on preparing for climate change rather than attempting to avoid it.



President Bush recently reiterated his opposition to mandatory caps on greenhouse gases. He argued that unless rapidly rising economies such as China and India also agree to caps, then any steps the US takes are in vain. "Unless there is an accord with China, China will produce greenhouse gases that will offset anything we do in a brief period of time," Bush has said. The administration's critics claim the president is using China as a convenient excuse to maintain the status quo. Let's assume Bush's critics are right and that his argument is a rhetorical dodge. And let's assume that when Bush leaves office his successor embraces a significant regulatory assault on production of greenhouse gases (either through a cap-and-trade program or through stiff taxes on carbon). What is likely to happen?

A glimpse comes courtesy of James Kynge's extraordinary book, "China Shakes the World: A Titan's Rise and Troubled Future - and the Challenge for America." Kynge tells the astonishing story of the Thyssen Krupp steel mill. This Ruhr River valley mill once employed 10,000 people in Dortmund, Germany. For many years after World War II it was one of the country's largest steel producers. But competitive pressures from overseas killed the town's steel industry, and those jobs disappeared.

Those German jobs may be all gone, but the German mill itself is still alive and kicking and churning out steel. But instead of doing it on the banks of the Ruhr, it is on the banks of China's Yangtze River. Just a few years ago, over one thousand Chinese descended upon the Ruhr valley. "They bedded down in a makeshift dormitory in a disused building in the plant and worked twelve hours a day, seven days a week throughout the summer. Only later, after some of the German workers and managers complained, were the Chinese workers obliged to take a day off, out of respect for local laws."

In less than one year, they successfully disassembled the plant and shipped the 275,000 tons of materials and equipment to China. A manufacturing entrepreneur and a former peasant farmer named Shen Wenrong had purchased the plant and reassembled it 5,600 miles away. This is what could be called the Lego-fication of heavy industry. It made economic sense for Shen to do this because he had access to all the relatively inexpensive labor needed to run a big steel production facility; he just needed western technology. And so he bought it in Germany, broke it down as if it were a gigantic Lego set, and reassembled it in China. And he pulled this off faster and cheaper than it would have taken him to build an entirely new plant.

Serious discussions are now underway in Washington and other capitals about making the emission of greenhouse gases, such as those typically generated by heavy manufacturing industries, very costly. Supporters of increasing the cost of emissions argue that this will trigger innovation that will yield low or zero-emission technologies. And they may be correct in the long run. In the meantime, what is likely to happen? If the cost of emitting is high enough, energy-intensive industries will thrive in areas where the cost of emitting is low. Today, that includes countries such as China. And if it is already cost-effective to dismantle and relocate heavy industry plants before severe emissions constraints are in place, we might see more such instances of that when the costs go up. The net effect on emissions will be unchanged, their point of generation simply moving somewhere else.

This is why some proponents of mandated emissions reductions besides President Bush acknowledge the importance of getting China on board if the United States proceeds with emissions restrictions. But how likely is it that China will go along? Anything is possible. But after reading Kynge's deft and even-handed treatment of modern China, I am not optimistic that it is likely any time soon, for two reasons.

For starters, while there are many Chinese who are already rich or who are getting rich, the massive bulk of the Chinese population - more than the combined total of both Europe and the United States - is still enmeshed in extreme poverty. China's growth miracle, if it continues, will eventually pull these people out of poverty. But this will take a couple of generations, during which time their emissions will rise dramatically. China's short-run concern for its citizens' material well-being is likely to trump concerns about climate changes that could happen down the road.

Another reason is that China faces much more pressing ecological problems in the near term. Particulate air pollution is a large and persistent concern. And the nation's water problems are severe and growing. It will be costly to fix these problems. As China gets richer, it will begin to address them. But in prioritizing their environmental threats, these are likely to trump tackling climate change.

Would the United States and Europe be able to force China to lower its emissions? The only stick on offing is threat of a trade fight. Given growing protectionist sentiment in the United States, this prospect is not unimaginable. But given how costly trade restrictions can be in perpetuating human misery, this would be a large and nasty price to pay.



The Church of England is once again fulfilling its historic role as an object of ridicule

Please stand now for the hymn: "Switch off, switch off for Jesus". You will not have heard the vicar say that in church this morning - but you soon might. Last week the Church of England published what has been described as a set of "green commandments" in a booklet entitled How Many Light Bulbs Does It Take To Change A Christian? The booklet (4.99 pounds at all good Christian bookshops) is part of the CofE's Shrinking The Footprint campaign.

That's right: the established Church is now fully signed up to the view that man-made CO2 emissions are destroying the planet and, therefore, humanity. Meanwhile David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, travelled to the Vatican last Thursday and called on Pope Benedict to use his "global reach and influence that individual governments do not have" to fight the good fight against global warming. The Pope responded that "we should all respect God's creation".

Official Christian doctrine, however, remains rooted in the idea that the Earth was created for Man's benefit. As God told Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28): "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air and over every living thing." This is as far removed as can be from what we might describe as the green gospel, which regards birth control as the greatest of all moral obligations and which abhors the idea that Man should be master of the planet, instead of nature itself.

In fact, the new green gospel is far closer in its appeal to the primitive cults that preceded the monotheistic faith of Jews, Christians and Muslims. It regards nature itself as a supreme deity whose wrath must be appeased. This, certainly, is the view of the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, who last year declared: "In the past, pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to placate capricious and cruel gods. Today, they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions."

The Church of England would, I suspect, bitterly resent this accusation. In its booklet it is not calling for human sacrifices. Its suggestions are altogether more comfortable: we should use a toaster rather than a grill on our daily bread. We should holiday locally rather than abroad. We should use a car-sharing system for our trip to Sunday worship.

These might seem as clear as the Ten Commandments, but they are not. Suppose you can't find anyone to share your car on the way to church. Should you stay at home and save the environment instead of your soul? Is it actually morally better to holiday here and hand over your money to a comfortably-off Cornishman selling pub food at London prices, instead of taking your family on safari to Zimbabwe and putting some desperately needed hard currency into that wretched and suffering country?

Since the days of the missionaries, the Church of England has always had a deep concern for Africa, and rightly so. Indeed, Africa is at the heart of the whole issue of global warming. Despite what you might have read, global warming is, on balance, beneficial to the Northern Hemisphere. It will be a big boost for agricultural production as the corn belt moves northwards and old people will have less reason to fear the winters. (It's worth reminding ourselves that carbon dioxide is not itself a form of pollution. Or, if it is, then we are all polluting the Earth simply by breathing, which would be a fantastically bleak philosophy by which to live.)

If there is to be a victim of global warming, it is most likely to be Sub-Saharan Africa. Yet your decision - having read and digested How Many Light Bulbs Does It Take To Change A Christian? - not to travel there will not save a single African life. Even if you believe there is a direct link between CO2 emissions and global temperature, man-made emissions are a tiny part of the total, and carbon dioxide itself is only a small component within the full range of greenhouse gases.

Besides which, the plane will take off without you. Yes, you can argue that if hundreds of thousands take the same decision, those flights might be cancelled - but is boosting the British tourism industry at the expense of those in less wealthy countries actually a virtuous act, however well-meaning the intentions?

Recently, Tesco announced that as part of its plan to be a responsible corporate citizen and save the planet, it had dramatically cut the amount of fresh produce it would fly in from Africa, and buy more locally. Do you think the Africans were grateful? What guidance might we expect on this from the Church of England?

Perhaps we should consult the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, who chairs the bishops' panel on the environment. Last July, Dr Chartres declared that flying was 'a symptom of sin'. That made the headlines. Unfortunately for this most pompous of prelates, what also made the headlines a few months earlier was that he had deserted his flock in Holy Week so that he and his wife could enjoy a free ocean-liner cruise for which other holidaymakers would have paid about 7,000 pounds. (To be fair to the Bishop, he was giving them the benefits of his views, as "a guest lecturer", on the rise and fall of Egypt, Rome and Carthage.)

Even though Dr Chartres had left his parishioners during the most important week in the Christian calendar, at least, say his defenders, he wasn't using a plane to get away. I suggest they consult green campaign group Climate Care, which points out that "a cruise liner such as Queen Mary 2 emits 0.43kg of CO2 per passenger mile, compared with 0.257kg for a long-haul flight (even allowing for the further damage of emissions being produced in the upper atmosphere). It is far greener to fly than cruise."

So the Bishop looks like either a hypocrite or a fool - or quite possibly both. This is not an argument against the Church of England using its authority to protect the environment. I can't help feeling, however, that it is behaving a little bit like the Conservative Party - after all, it used to be described as "the Conservative Party at prayer". Just as the Tories have jumped on the issue of global warming as a means to impress younger voters, so the Church of England is in danger of becoming an ideological fashion victim - and thus end up looking ridiculous.

Above all, I worry that it is encouraging people into forms of ritual - using the toaster instead of the grill, switching off the light in the porch - which may do no good to anyone, but which allow the performer to imagine that by acting in this way he or she has become a better person. This, after all, was exactly the objection that Jesus had to the Pharisees.



European company Arcelor Mittal, the world's largest steelmaker, is a model of environmental care. Since 1990, the manufacturing juggernaut has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions 20 percent, exceeding European targets by two and half times. Nevertheless, company leaders warn that restrictive government caps on greenhouse gases may soon force the closure of two large factories in France. The resulting dip in production from such a move would press Arcelor Mittal to import steel from far less efficient factories in the Third World, where CO2 emissions restrictions are not enforced. Hardly an isolated incident, businesses throughout Europe are laying off employees, outsourcing production, and reining in innovation as a luxury no longer affordable.

Michel Wurth, president of Arcelor Mittal France, calls the situation "absolutely ridiculous." But European Union officials managed to avoid broadcasting such difficulties at a White House summit meeting April 30. Instead, German Chancellor and EU President Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso were eager to highlight common ground with U.S. climate-change policy. They lauded President George W. Bush for taking the issue seriously-high praise for a man committed environmentalists are supposed to hate.

That conciliatory tone reflects a growing realization that Bush's refusal to adopt emissions restrictions is not the vice once imagined. In past years, EU officials chastised Bush for his stubborn rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, a pact adopted by 169 nations to impose mandatory reductions of CO2 emissions. This year, Merkel and Barroso made no mention of the 10-year-old treaty, a stark reversal that underscores a momentous shift in the debate: As Kyoto sputters, stalls, and ultimately fails, the Bush approach proves increasingly credible.

Substantial disagreements remain over how best to move forward in tackling greenhouse gas emissions, which many scientists believe are to blame for the planet's recent warming trend. But many policy experts now recognize that the Bush administration's strategy to develop new carbon-cutting technologies presents the only real-world approach to reducing emissions. Absent such technologies, hard caps like Kyoto amount to nothing more than empty green stamps for naive or disingenuous politicians.

Kyoto-supporting nations are learning that lesson the hard way. The Kyoto accord has wrought substantial economic harm for little environmental gain. Its targets have proved unfeasible, its costs debilitating. Merkel has witnessed the fiasco firsthand in Germany, where initial Kyoto cheerleading has morphed into nationwide grumbling. The country now stands to pay up to $5 billion in fines when it fails to meet emissions goals by next year. Meanwhile, industry leaders are hemorrhaging funds for a cause that holds little to no chance of success. Those companies threaten to retract investments in new energy sources.

Such difficulties threaten Germany's sizable automotive industry, which employs about 15 percent of the country's manufacturing workforce. New regulations from the European Commission require carmakers to re-engineer their high-end models for much lower emission levels by 2012. That burden will likely drive up sticker prices, reduce sales, and provoke layoffs.

Similar problems have sprung up throughout Europe. Beyond Arcelor Mittal, other companies, such as Spanish steelmaker Acernex and Dutch silicon carbide manufacturer Kollo Holding, are choking on the continent's skyrocketing cost of electricity. Acernex has transported production overseas and closed several factories. Kollo Holding must shut down its plant for hours each day and has lost customers to competitors in China.

Despite such economic costs, EU emissions levels continue to rise, illustrating Kyoto's failure on both economic and environmental fronts. In the United Kingdom last year, CO2 emissions from power plants, automobiles, and homes increased 6.4 million tons above 2005 levels-pushing total UK emissions to their highest point since Britain ratified Kyoto a decade ago. The embarrassed government, which has already abandoned its aim of a 20 percent reduction by 2010, now must reconsider whether its proposed 30 percent drop by 2020 is realistic.

Many British environmentalists blame politicians for the failures, but recent polling throughout the EU suggests public opinion has turned against overly optimistic Kyoto-like requirements. Benny Peiser, a researcher at Liverpool John Moores University in the UK, expects that greater economic costs will further unravel the continent's once strong green consensus. He suggests that Europe's stubborn unwillingness to admit failure may be the only force preventing an all-out abandonment of Kyoto: "A political failure of the Kyoto process would, without a shadow of doubt, cause incalculable trauma to European pride and standing."

In desperation to meet their targets, European nations adopted a system of carbon-trading two years ago, whereby emissions credits are bought and sold in an international market. The system intends to generate economic incentives for companies to reduce their carbon footprints. But, so far, the artificial market has set the price so low for credits that large-scale emitters can purchase as many as they need without significant financial burden. The result: Kyoto's goal of reducing the combined emissions of EU nations by 8 percent from 1990 levels by 2012 is highly improbable. In fact, the numbers are likely to continue creeping upward.

Outside Europe, a growing chorus of Kyoto dissent is joining the once isolated Bush administration. Canadian environment minister John Baird announced new emissions targets last month that effectively toss Kyoto to the policy scrap heap. The new standards call for reductions per unit of production, a measuring system that may actually allow emissions to rise amid a growing economy. Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May was furious, describing such backing down from Kyoto as "worse than Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of the Nazis." But the plan won't appease economic pain, costing Canada an estimated $7 billion annually. Such high costs have prompted nations such as China, India, Australia, and Turkey to join the United States in avoiding Kyoto's top-down carbon-cutting method.

To the surprise of many Europeans, the U.S. approach of technology investment and voluntary emissions reductions has proved more effective than Kyoto. Figures from the International Energy Agency (IEA) show that U.S. CO2 emissions from fuel combustion grew 1.7 percent from 2000 to 2004 while European Union emissions of the same kind increased 5 percent. Furthermore, the U.S. approach presents the only realistic possibility for including the developing economies of China and India in global efforts to reduce emissions.

China recently reiterated its opposition to any international pact that would stifle its use of cheap energy to grow its economy. Chinese officials argue that G8 nations got rich by ignoring environmental concerns and that China is due that same opportunity. If new technologies emerge to reduce emissions without substantially increasing energy costs, China, India, and other developing nations would be able to participate. Such inclusion is critical to global emissions strategies given new estimates from the IEA that China will pass the United States as the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases before the end of the year.

In a meeting last month with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Bush expressed his desire that Japan contribute its technological capabilities and expertise to the hunt for new carbon-cutting technologies. The leaders discussed the further development and construction of nuclear power plants, an existing technology that could drastically reduce CO2 emissions. If Bush has his way, such technology-centered discussions will dominate the global dialogue post-Kyoto, elbowing out talk of top-down emissions caps or carbon-trading schemes.

The Bush administration wants nations to operate independently in the drive to cut emissions, an affront to the UN's globalist approach. New strategies will be fodder for the G8 summit next month in Germany, an opportunity for the fallout from Kyoto to take center stage-and for the proven detrimental treaty to rest in peace.



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

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

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


Saturday, May 05, 2007

Statistical Proof of sun-caused global warming in South Australia Part I

Statistician Jonathan Lowe has some really pesky findings for the Greenies -- reproduced below. See his site for links

Abstract: Statistical analysis of the rate of temperature change between times of proximity has shown that the rate of increase of temperature as a measure of time has significantly increased up until 3pm and then decreased until 9am in South Australia over the last 50 years. If Co2 levels were the major cause of global warming, then no rate of change in temperature between near times should exist, eg they should all increase at the same rate. Our analysis proves that this is not the case, and that temperature is increasing at a greater rate when the sun is at it's peak in the middle of the day. Hence our conclusion is that the major force behind global warming is not Co2 levels, but the sun.

When looking at the graphs at 3am,6am and the minimum for south east southern Australia, something puzzled me. Whenever 3am or 6am had a negative anomaly (eg a lower than expected temperature for that year), the minimum temperature for that year was average. Whenever 3am or 6am had an average temperature for the year, the minimum temperature was significantly higher than normal.

This pattern was even more extreme in more recent years. It was because of this that I decided to look into the rate of change of temperature anomalies between neighboring times. We actually said a few things about this in the last post on the area:

We even found that temperature anomalies at 3pm were significantly higher than at Noon (p<0.01) and that temperature anomalies at 9pm were significantly lower than at 6pm (p<0.01). This indicates, that the temperature around south east southern Australia is heating up during the day, but more importantly is heating up at a greater rate when the sun is at it's hottest. Does this not clearly indicate an increase in solar heating?

But actually looking at graphs of this made the pattern that more obvious than simple significant figures. But first lets hypothesise what would happen to the rate of change, if we believe that the sun has been the major cause of most recent warming.

We have said shown in a very early post on this blog, that in the last 5 years of more recent warming, almost all of this has occurred during the day when the sun it up. The pattern is clearly identifiable in the graph below. The rate of change of temperature anomalies have increased rapidly up to 3pm and then decreased. Even at midnight, the temperature is still a little hotter than normal, largely to due the extra hot sun heating up the atmosphere. By 3am and 6am, the atmosphere it would seem is not influenced by the sun.

Similarly from 1947 to 1976 when we saw a slight decrease in overall global (and Australian) temperature, most of the decrease occurred during the heat of the day around 3pm. This indicates again, then when the overall temperature is cold, it is because it is a lot colder during the heat of the day and not equally hot overall.

If Co2 were the major cause of global, and Australian warming, then we would expect an equal increase in temperature at all times of the day and night. Maximum and minimum temperatures agree with this, however, the analysis shown here strongly disagree. In fact it disagrees so much, that it is clearly obvious that Co2 could not be the major cause. What else heats the world up with increasing rates up to around 3pm and then decreasing? The sun of course.

So our hypothesis on rate of temperature anomaly change between neighbouring times in south eastern south Australia, given that the sun is the major cause would be very similar. We should find little difference in the overnight temperatures of 3am and 6am, but should find significant increases in the rate of change of temperature anomaly's leading up to 3pm and then significant decreases in the rate of change of temperature anomaly's. This of course is looked at over time (in this case years). The rate of change should actually grow stronger as the years go on (as we have seen stronger increases in maximum and minimum temperatures).

So does the data suggest this? Let's find out.

Whilst temperature data at midnight is limited, we do find that the rate of change of temperatures at 3am is on average 0.1 degrees Celsius less than that at midnight. In other words, the temperature at 3am is cooling down a rate of 0.1 degrees quicker than it is at midnight. Perhaps this is because the influence of the sun is now very limited? If Co2 was the major cause of warming, we should not see any pattern at all in this graph of limited years.

As a surprise, the rate of change of temperature anomalies at 6am have decreased significantly from 3am. In fact this rate of decrease has been at 0.5 degrees per 100 years. Why is 6am getting a lot colder with relation to 3am?

When looking at changes between 9am and 6am, we find no major change with the exception of the latest 10 years all being warmer. So the last 10 years, we have seen temperatures at 9am increase significantly more than at 6am. This isn't surprising as this is when the sun increases, although I have to admit I would have thought the increase would have been more substantial (if the sun was the major cause of global warming).

But now the pattern, as predicted, is starting to hit in. Temperatures at Noon were significantly increasing as compared to 9am at a rate of 0.4 degrees per 100 years and the significant increase in temperatures at 3pm as compared to Noon was even greater (1.2 degrees per 100 years).

No major changes were found in the relationship between 6pm and 3pm, although it must be noted that a large negative trend was found in the last 6-7 years (eg. 6pm has been cooling quicker than at 3pm). And when the sun is starting to lose it's influence of the temperature (between 9pm and 6pm) in south east southern Australia, we see that the rate of change more recently has been negative at a rate of 0.5 degrees per 100 years. This pattern, though a small sample size, is still obvious when looking at changes in temperature anomalies over time between Midnight and 9pm.

So believe it or not, we have proven exactly what our hypothesis predicted. That the rate of change in neighboring times would increase more significantly over time when the sun is getting hotter (around 3pm) and then decrease with time later in the day. I strongly recommend you view the linked graphs above to see it for yourself.

This is a clear indication, that the major driving force behind temperature change is the sun. Should Co2 levels been the main force, then would have seen no patterns at all in these graphs, but the patterns are clearly obvious and only point to one possible conclusion.

Of course you are asking, this is only a small sample of Australian weather stations yet alone the world, and yes we will get to them. I can't let all the eggs out the basket at once!

But this analysis still doesn't look at why minimum temperatures have increased despite early morning temperatures having not done so. We have hypothesized in the past how the sun is influencing minimum temperatures as well, but can we prove that statistically? You're just going to have to wait till the next article for Part II on Statistical Proof of sun caused global warming in South Australia.


Is the IPCC Doing Harm to Science? -- asks major German newsmagazine "Der Spiegel"

No United Nations organization currently dominates the headlines as much -- or is as controversial -- as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Critics call the panel politically one-sided and its reports alarmist. Its defenders say the opposite is true. The IPCC will publish its third report on Friday.

It was about 10 a.m. when Rajendra Pachauri climbed up on a chair in the lobby of a European Union conference building in Brussels and turned to the cameras and microphones to give an improvised press conference. It was a situation to which the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world's largest scientific commission, was unaccustomed. Normally Pachauri stands in front of podiums instead of on chairs to inform the public about the progress of his panel's work and the current state of the earth.

Pachauri held up his hands and asked the assembled journalists to be patient. It would be a while yet, he said, before the group preparing the IPCC's global climate report would be able to present its results. Discussions were still underway. In short, Pachauri couldn't tell the journalists what the current prognosis is for the future of the globe.

A laborious process

The discussions Pachauri mentioned were taking place in the large conference room on the third floor of the building. There, behind closed doors, politicians from more than 130 countries were arguing with the authors of the report of the precise wording of a thin, 23-page document. The document, known as the SPM, or Summary for Policymakers, contains the essence of the actual climate report, which is a scientific compendium divided into three volumes, each containing at least 1,000 pages. Negotiations were underway in Brussels over the summary of the second volume and, as always, it was a laborious process. The two groups debating the issue had little in common except a mutual interest in reaching a consensus.

On the one side were the authors of the report, all scientists, who have done little else in the last three years than work on this report. For many of them, it was already asking too much to compress the contents of more than 1,000 pages into a 23-page summary. On the other side were the politicians, members of delegations from almost every country on earth. Sitting in alphabetical order in the chamber, their main concern was to adjust the report to suit their individual economic, environmental and foreign policies.

The delegations from the industrialized nations dominated the debate, especially that of the United States, which, as is so often the case, had sent the largest delegation. The Saudi Arabian delegation, not much smaller, was aligned with the Americans, as were the Australians and the Chinese.

Their opponents -- the report's authors, supported by the delegations from the core European Union countries, as well as Great Britain -- would register collective outrage each time the US delegation demanded that an unambiguous phrase like "will happen" be changed to a less clear "will likely happen." The US delegation submitted this request alone more than a hundred times. These objections were possible because the IPCC's rules make it possible to negotiate the summary line by line and word for word -- a necessary provision when so much could be riding on a single word. No other document has such a far-reaching impact on global environmental and industrial policy.

The IPCC is a scientific panel created by the UN Environmental Organization (UNEO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Once every five or six years it issues a report summarizing the current status of research on climate change. It operates on a minimal annual budget of only _5 million ($6.8 million). To be able to fulfill its mandate, the IPCC is dependent on assistance from UN members. They finance the conferences and provide the scientists who, as authors, are responsible for the contents of individual chapters.

The IPCC's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, consist of only a few glass-enclosed offices lining a hallway. The organization's real work -- reviewing, analyzing and summarizing studies -- takes place in research centers, institutes and universities around the world. The IPCC is a highly decentralized and very typical UN organization. Its leadership positions are handed out in the hallways and chambers of the political bazaar otherwise known as the United Nations. The IPCC's control board currently includes an Indian -- Pachauri -- a Russian, a Kenyan and a Sri Lankan researcher. The involvement of governments in the reports was part of the process from the very beginning. The organizations that established the IPCC -- the UNEO and the WMO -- wanted to prevent governments from using the reports as little more than notepaper. And the politicians were intent on preventing the scientists from gaining sole responsibility for the content of the reports.

Coalition of the unwilling

Shortly after the negotiations began in Brussels, the room became divided into a coalition of the unwilling, under US leadership, and a coalition of the willing, consisting of the authors with support from Old Europe. The overwhelming majority of participants were silent throughout most of the debate.

The US delegates used a classic tactic to achieve as many of their demands as possible, a tactic that has proven effective in many venues, from UN diplomacy to living situations to marital disputes. The Americans simply talked long enough, were hardnosed enough in refusing to compromise and kept submitting new demands until their opponents were worn down and exhausted, and finally gave in.

The same thing happened in Paris in early February, when the summary of the first volume was being debated and the central question revolved around the extent to which human activity is responsible for climate change. And the same thing is also likely to happen this week in Bangkok, where the parties will argue over the contents of the third summary and the question of what man can in fact do to avert climate change.

Like a Major Terrorist Attack

At noon on Good Friday, after a 22-hour marathon negotiation, Rajendra Pachauri went before the press, this time at a podium, and introduced colleagues who reported on what had been agreed in the chamber. At issue were the consequences of climate change, which are specified in the second volume. The panel informed the world that 20 to 30 percent of all known species will become extinct if the rise in temperatures, measured from 1850 to the end of the 21st century, exceeds 2øC (3.6øF). The world also learned that there could be water shortages and more frequent flooding, and that food production would decline if global warming exceeds 3øC (5.4øF).

Pachauri, exhausted and his suit wrinkled by then, listened to what the scientists had to say. He knew what would happen after the press conference. The speakers' sentences would make waves, big waves, and in the space of a few hours they would reach virtually every corner of the earth. And he was right. A headline in the next day's issue of German tabloid Bild read: "Climate Report Shocks Germany." The British Independent reported: "Mankind will be divided." US newsmagazine Time complained: "Our feverish planet badly needs a cure." The world was in a panic, almost as if there had been a major terrorist attack.

Pachauri had good reason to be pleased, and not just over the media reactions. The scientists, supported by their European allies, had warded off most of the attacks from the coalition of the unwilling. Concessions were made, but they were more symbolic than anything else. Because the IPCC's rules require that politicians produce scientific arguments to implement changes, the scientists have, in a sense, a home court advantage.

As pleased as he is about these rules, Pachauri is concerned about the critics who are not bound by the rules -- the outsiders. He calls them skeptics, and when he pronounces the word, he shrugs his shoulders as if he wanted to shoo away a fly. And then he says: "There will always be skeptics."

Down to earth and diplomatic

Pachauri is now sitting in a hotel room in Brussels, a surprisingly plain room for someone so high up in the UN hierarchy. Also, the fact that he has scheduled this interview here and not in a conference room rented specifically for this purpose suggested that he is a person who has not allowed his status to go to his head. Pachauri is an economist. When colleagues describe him they mention his beard, the way he combs his hair straight across his head and his diplomatic skills.

In his native India, Pachauri heads an institute that employs a staff of more than 700 and is devoted to sustainability. He has worked for the World Bank, is a consultant to the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) and teaches in the United States. He could be characterized as a member of his continent's humanitarian jet set. Pachauri became head of the IPCC in 2002, when he was elected after being nominated by the US. The Bush administration had really wanted more of an obstructionist but was unable to find someone who would have been acceptable to other members of the organization. Instead, it nominated Pachauri, who had the reputation of being thoughtful and deliberate.

It was a miscalculation, though. Some time ago, Pachauri likened a critic of the IPCC to Hitler because the man had publicly reflected on whether it would make more sense to compensate and relocate the residents of Pacific island nations threatened by rising sea levels instead of attempting to keep sea levels somewhat constant. Skeptics have hounded Pachauri since he took office, but he is anxious to play down their importance. In fact, he prefers not to discuss these people at all. But the deep-seated global debate that the IPCC has triggered with its reports, its analyses and its predictions also directs a great deal of attention to precisely these skeptics.

Questioning from skeptics

Is climate change truly manmade? Are the scientists' arguments convincing? Aren't there some scientists who hold completely different views? And this IPCC, isn't it really just a collection of political activists and eco-fundamentalists who are playing up their research results to transform all of mankind into users of public transportation and converts to car-pooling?

These are the questions the skeptics are asking, and they are debated in serious media outlets, including the influential German newspapers Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Die Welt and the television program heute journal. In other countries, like the United States, people like bestselling author Michael Crichton debate with Pachauri's colleagues on radio talk shows, experts debate the scientific foundations of the IPCC's reports on the TV talk show "Larry King Live," and in Great Britain the Channel 4 television network aired a documentary titled "The Great Global Warming Swindle."

The discussions revolve, among other things, around issues like climate sensitivity, Dansgaard-Oeschger events, the question of whether a global temperature increase of just under 0.8øC (1.4øF) in the last 100 years is a lot or a little, and whether the rise in CO2 levels is a consequence of increasing temperatures or vice-versa.

Who can answer these questions? Certainly not laymen. And neither can most politicians because they too are scientific laymen, and they too haven't the faintest idea what a Dansgaard-Oeschger event is. It's a difficult situation. A layman can only attempt to consider arguments he actually understands. And he can also attempt to discover whether the others, the critics, in fact have the better arguments.

The Leading Critic of Climate Change Theories

The skeptics' figurehead is an American named Richard Lindzen. Lindzen is repeatedly referred to as the only one who, in the struggle for dominance in the climate debate, can compete in the same weight class as his opponents. These days Lindzen is much in demand and often on the road. He sits on the terrace of a hotel in Venice, facing the Grand Canal and the dome of St. Mark's Cathedral to the left. He fumbles in his pocket, pulls out a pack of cigarettes and lights a Marlboro. He has come here directly from the United States. His delayed flight landed two hours ago, and he plans to fly back tomorrow. During his short stay, Lindzen plans to explain to Italian investors what this greenhouse effect means for them and their money. He has been asked to limit his comments to 20 minutes.

Lindzen is a 67-year-old physicist and a professor at the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His area of expertise is that of the physical processes that take place in the atmosphere and regulate the weather and climate. Lindzen is a theoretician, and he looks the part. His body seems a bit hunched over, as if its main purpose were to support the weight of his head.

An 'Alarmist' and 'Hysterical' Debate

In his speeches, articles and studies, Lindzen concedes that climate change is a reality, but he also insists that it is unclear whether the warming measured to date can be considered dramatic. He criticizes the models that are used to estimate climate change, calling them too imprecise and therefore unusable. Lindzen also says that the results achieved by his opponents in the scientific debate are based on arbitrary assumptions. He calls the SPM, the summaries of the IPCC reports prepared for the politicians, "alarmist" and the tone of the debate "hysterical." In his opinion, mankind would be better off addressing the world's true problems: wars, epidemics and hunger.

Perhaps Lindzen's overall criticism is correct. Perhaps his field is as dysfunctional as he claims, and perhaps his fellow scientists are more interested in manipulating than informing. After all, the world, and man, isn't driven purely by good intentions. But if this is the case, why is he the only one among serious critics who is expressing his outrage so vehemently? Lindzen's response: "It could have something to do with the fear of opposing the mainstream."

But Lindzen hasn't exactly suffered as a result of his critical stance. He is still a professor at MIT. He continues to conduct research and publish. He may be controversial, but he is also very well known. Indeed, he even seems to derive benefits from his position. Italian businessmen fly him in for presentations. The media court him and ask for his opinions. Lindzen was the skeptic who appeared on US talk show host Larry King's show, a crowning achievement in the United States for someone who wants publicity.

Lindzen's second argument is that the scientific research and discovery process is distorted. Instead of being devoted to truth, its main emphasis is opportunity, says Lindzen, which distorts the results.

A transparent global process

Lindzen's arguments sound convincing, but they are still nothing but claims, popular theories as opposed to a transparent global process, a global plebiscite among climate researchers.

The work on each report begins by reviewing all scientific studies in all relevant disciplines, summarizing them, organizing their results and then writing a first draft. This work is done by IPCC staff members, and their draft is accessible to scientists worldwide, who are invited to comment on it and submit suggestions for improvement. Each of these suggestions is considered and either incorporated or not. The lead authors of the individual chapters must maintain an accounting of their decisions, in the form of endless Excel tables that document the path and fate of each comment. When necessary, the authors are also required to justify their decisions to those submitting the comments and suggestions.

Once this process is complete the first draft is written. It is sent to all governments, which also have the option of submitting comments. Once again, the suggested changes are either incorporated or not. And once again, the scientists are at an advantage and the fate of each suggestion is meticulously documented. Finally the last draft is produced, which serves as the basis for the SPM, the production of which is similar to the production of the actual report and ends with the negotiation between scientists and politicians.

Lindzen's next argument goes like this: The scientists are exaggerating the dangers of climate change, because this is the only way to get the research funding they receive, primarily from their respective governments.

In the history of global climate research, the research budget in Lindzen's native United States has been inflated twice -- once during the presidency of the first President Bush and once during that of his son, George W. Bush. In both cases the injection of funding was preceded by a sentence uttered by the president: We know too little. If climate researchers wish to secure or expand their budgets, they shouldn't be saying: We are 90 percent certain that the lion's share of climate change is manmade. Instead, they should say: We know too little. But there is one climate researcher who says precisely these words: Lindzen.

Lindzen can argue that the models need to be more precise, and other, less competent critics can demand that details need to be better understood. This can happen, and will probably happen, but it is virtually impossible that these changes and these conclusions will throw doubt on the core conclusion of the current global climate report: Climate change is real, and it is overwhelmingly manmade.

When it comes to his one remaining argument, however, Lindzen is dead-on. The tone of the debate, he says, is hysterical. There is hardly a newspaper article and hardly a TV or radio program that doesn't conjure up images of "climate catastrophe," prophesy floods of gigantic proportions, droughts and hunger. Indeed, the media have developed something akin to a complete apocalyptic program.

Al Gore, Scaremonger?

It's the fault of the media, of course, but not exclusively. It's also the fault of a new hero, an environmental activist who likes to introduce himself by saying: "Hello, I was once the next President of the United States of America." Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth," is a PowerPoint presentation, a modern-day slide show about the causes and consequences of climate change. It also paints apocalyptic scenarios, and its dramatic climax shows large parts of Florida, as well as San Francisco, Beijing, Shanghai, the Netherlands, Bangladesh and New York, complete with the World Trade Center memorial, being swallowed by the sea. Gore spends a great deal of time on this sequence, in which each region appears on the screen and the regions ultimately disappear, one after another, into the dark sea.

The world climate report assumes that sea levels will rise by about 38.5 centimeters (15 inches). This is the mean of all scenarios, which predict increases of between 18 and 59 centimeters (7 and 23 inches). The report also states that sea levels could even rise by several meters if Greenland and western Antarctica were to become ice-free. According to the IPCC's estimates, this process, if it happens, would take several centuries, perhaps even millennia. Gore neglects to mention this time frame. Instead, all he says is this: "If the ice on Greenland melts or slides into the sea, or if half of Greenland and half of western Antarctica become ice-free, the sea level will rise by seven meters." Gore makes it sound like something that could happen tomorrow.

Emotionalizing the debate

This doesn't mean that Gore should necessarily be taken to task for his statements. He is a politician. But it is odd to hear IPCC Chairman Pachauri, when asked what he thinks about Gore's film, responding: "I liked it. It does emotionalize the debate, but it seems that it has to do that." And when Pachauri comments on the publication of the first SPM by saying, "I hope that this will shock the governments so much that they take action," this doesn't exactly allay doubts as to his objectivity. When Renate Christ, the secretary of the IPCC, is asked about her opinion of reporting on climate change, she refers to articles that mention "climate catastrophe" and calls them "rather refreshing."

Stefan Rahmstorf, a professor of the physics of oceans at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, one of the world's bona fide experts on the subject and the lead author of the current report, praised Gore's film unconditionally, even for its inclusion of the sequence depicting New York sinking into the ocean. And Rahmstorf's boss, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, who serves as the institute's director and as an advisor to the German government, sounded a lot like Al Gore recently when he said in an interview: "We could see a one-meter rise in sea levels by 2100. The expected, climate-related shift in the ocean current could cause the water to rise by an additional meter in the Helgoland Bight." It sounds as if it could happen tomorrow. But it can't, and Schnellnhuber's colleague Rahmstorf, who has an inclination toward extreme scenarios, estimates that there is only a 10-percent probability that it will even happen at all.

Is activism trumping science?

No matter where one encounters officials from the IPCC -- at the organization's headquarters in Geneva, in Brussels during the negotiations over the SPM or in Potsdam, where the German authors, together with the Federal Ministry of the Environment, are staging a workshop on the world climate report -- everyone seems to be talking more like environmental activists than scientists these days.

In Potsdam, Michael Mller, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and a state secretary in the Federal Environment Ministry, pleaded for a sea change in energy policy on a global scale, and the tone of his arguments was not unlike that adopted by Pachauri, the chairman of the IPCC, in Brussels. When asked about this, climate researchers respond: "And? Where is there a problem? What's wrong with warning the world about a catastrophe?"

The problem is that the IPCC is not a political group whose goal is to exert pressure, but a scientific institution and panel of experts. Its members ought to present their results and analyses dispassionately, the way pathologists or psychiatrists do when serving as expert witnesses in court, no matter how horrible the victim's injuries and how deviant the perpetrator's psyche are.

Peter Weingart, a sociologist of science from Bielefeld, a city in northwest Germany, believes that the climate experts' lack of distance has something to do with their training. Scientists usually learn only to reflect on the results of their work, not on their role within the social decision-making process. As a result, they join forces with politicians who share their views. And in this way they do harm to science.

But Rahmstorf, the professor from Potsdam, dubbed a climate protection zealot by some, is unswayed by these arguments. He sees climate change as an existential issue, "a baptism by fire for the developing global society." Rahmstorf is the father of a baby, which he drives through Potsdam in a bicycle trailer. He doesn't own a car. He wants to do his utmost to leave behind for his child a world that is as similar to today's world as possible, at least as far as the climate goes. He feels responsible, as someone who sees the big picture. And in half a century, when many things will be clearer, when things may even be worse, he doesn't want to have to answer the question: Why didn't you do anything?

The same question haunts IPCC chairman Pachauri. This week he will be in Bangkok, where the subjects of debate will be possible solutions, distribution of the burdens and the structure of the future. Pachauri will sit on the podium, follow the debate and do what he believes he has to do -- be on the side of a good cause and not on the side of science.


Is Global Warming a Sin?

by Leftist Alexander Cockburn. Cockburn has discovered the Great Depression paradox (of the 1930s) -- when human economic activity dropped catastrophically but the earth still underwent a major warming episode

In a couple of hundred years historians will be comparing the frenzies over our supposed human contribution to global warming to the tumults at the latter end of the tenth century as the Christian millennium approached. Then as now, the doomsters identified human sinfulness as the propulsive factor in the planet's rapid downward slide. Then as now, a buoyant market throve on fear. The Roman Catholic Church sold indulgences like checks. The sinners established a line of credit against bad behavior and could go on sinning. Today a world market in "carbon credits" is in formation. Those whose "carbon footprint" is small can sell their surplus carbon credits to others less virtuous than themselves.

The modern trade is as fantastical as the medieval one. There is still zero empirical evidence that anthropogenic production of carbon dioxide is making any measurable contribution to the world's present warming trend. The greenhouse fearmongers rely on unverified, crudely oversimplified models to finger mankind's sinful contribution--and carbon trafficking, just like the old indulgences, is powered by guilt, credulity, cynicism and greed.

Now imagine two lines on a piece of graph paper. The first rises to a crest, then slopes sharply down, levels off and rises slowly once more. The other has no undulations. It rises in a smooth, slow arc. The first, wavy line is the worldwide CO2 tonnage produced by humans burning coal, oil and natural gas. It starts in 1928, at 1.1 gigatons (i.e., 1.1 billion metric tons), and peaks in 1929 at 1.17 gigatons. The world, led by its mightiest power, plummets into the Great Depression and by 1932 human CO2 production has fallen to 0.88 gigatons a year, a 30 percent drop. Then, in 1933, the line climbs slowly again, up to 0.9 gigatons.

And the other line, the one ascending so evenly? That's the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, parts per million (ppm) by volume, moving in 1928 from just under 306, hitting 306 in 1929, 307 in 1932 and on up. Boom and bust, the line heads up steadily. These days it's at 380. The two lines on that graph proclaim that a whopping 30 percent cut in man-made CO2 emissions didn't even cause a 1 ppm drop in the atmosphere's CO2. It is thus impossible to assert that the increase in atmospheric CO2 stems from people burning fossil fuels.

I met Martin Hertzberg, PhD, the man who drew that graph and those conclusions, on a Nation cruise back in 2001. He remarked that while he shared many of The Nation's editorial positions, he approved of my reservations on the question of human contributions to global warming, as outlined in columns I wrote around that time. Hertzberg was a meteorologist for three years in the Navy, an occupation that gave him a lifelong mistrust of climate modeling. Trained in chemistry and physics, a combustion research scientist for most of his career, he's retired now in Copper Mountain, Colorado, but still consults from time to time.

Not so long ago, Hertzberg sent me some of his recent papers on the global warming hypothesis, a thesis now accepted by many progressives as infallible as Papal dogma on matters of faith. Among them was the graph described above, so devastating to the hypothesis.

As Hertzberg readily acknowledges, the CO2 content of the atmosphere has increased about 21 percent in the past century. The world has also been getting just a little warmer. The not-very-reliable data on the world's average temperature (which omit data from most of the world's oceans and remote regions, while overrepresenting urban areas) show about a 0.5 degree Celsius increase between 1880 and 1980, and still rising. But is CO2, at 380 ppm in the atmosphere, playing a significant role in retaining the 94 percent of solar radiation that the atmosphere absorbs, as against water vapor, also a powerful heat absorber, whose content in a humid tropical atmosphere can be as high as 20,000 ppm? As Hertzberg says, water in the form of oceans, snow, ice cover, clouds and vapor "is overwhelming in the radiative and energy balance between the Earth and the sun.... Carbon dioxide and the greenhouse gases are, by comparison, the equivalent of a few farts in a hurricane." And water is exactly that component of the Earth's heat balance that the global warming computer models fail to account for.

It's a notorious inconvenience for the Greenhousers that data also show CO2 concentrations from the Eocene period, 20 million years before Henry Ford trundled out his first Model T, 300 to 400 percent higher than current concentrations. The Greenhousers deal with other difficulties, like the medieval warming period's higher-than-today temperatures, by straightforward chicanery, misrepresenting tree ring data (themselves an unreliable guide) and claiming the warming was a local European affair.

We're warmer now because today's world is in the thaw following the recent ice age. Ice ages correlate with changes in the solar heat we receive, all due to predictable changes in the Earth's elliptical orbit round the sun and in the Earth's tilt. As Hertzberg explains, the clinical heat effect of all of these variables was worked out in great detail between 1915 and 1940 by Milutin Milankovitch, a giant of twentieth-century astrophysics. In past post-glacial cycles, as now, the Earth's orbit and tilt give us more and longer summer days between the equinoxes.

Water covers 71 percent of Earth's surface. Compared with the atmosphere, there's 100 times more CO2 in the oceans, dissolved as carbonate. As the post-glacial thaw progresses the oceans warm up, and some of the dissolved carbon emits into the atmosphere, like fizz from soda. "The greenhouse global warming theory has it ass backwards," Hertzberg concludes. "It is the warming of the Earth that is causing the increase of carbon dioxide and not the reverse." In vivid confirmation of that conclusion, several new papers show that for the last 750,000 years, CO2 changes have always lagged behind global temperatures by 800 to 2,600 years.

It looks like Poseidon should go hunting for carbon credits. The human carbon footprint is of zero consequence amid these huge forces and volumes, not to mention the role of the giant reactor beneath our feet: the Earth's increasingly hot molten core.



President George W. Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said they agreed that climate change must be addressed while playing down differences over how to achieve that goal. The U.S. and the European Union recognize "we have a problem with greenhouse gases," Bush said during a news conference today with Merkel, president of the EU, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Washington. "We are aware of the fact that we do have a problem here, that we need to solve this problem," Merkel said through a translator. ``There are different approaches, obviously, as to how to solve that, but we have been able, actually, to find a lot of common ground."

While all three leaders talked of progress toward dealing with global warming, neither side indicated movement on closing their main differences. The EU regulates greenhouse-gas emissions, and the U.S. is sticking to an approach that relies on developing cleaner sources of power other than fossil fuels. "This issue has become, along with the Iraq war, a great symbolic divide between Europe and America," said Paul Bledsoe, a spokesman for the Washington-based National Commission on Energy Policy, a bipartisan advisory group that includes academics, oil executives, labor leaders and environmentalists. "Europeans view America as willing to sacrifice the very health of the planet for marginal economic gain."


Barroso also said he was "very happy" that the meeting confirmed that "climate and energy security are important on the agenda." Bush suggested that a single solution won't work for all countries. "Each country needs to recognize that we must reduce our greenhouse gases and deal, obviously, with their own internal politics to come up with an effective strategy" to reduce emissions, he said. Merkel said the issue would be raised at the meeting of eight industrialized nations in Germany in June. Developing nations including China, India, Brazil and South Africa, would be included in talks, she said. "If we were not doing that, we would not be able to combat that problem that is truly a global one," Merkel said. The EU is "not happy" with the inability of the two sides to get together and dismisses the Bush administration's argument that tough penalties on polluters may curb economic growth



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

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

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


Friday, May 04, 2007

Ice caps melting at faster rate?

Another stupid straight-line projection just out. See below. And even if the projection is realized, the angle of incidence of solar radiation on the arctic is very acute -- meaning that any effect of variations in reflectivity off the arctic would be slight. I wonder why that was not quantified? At least the guy was scientist enough not to claim that melting sea-ice would raise sea levels. Many readers will not know that, however

The Arctic ice cap was melting much faster than expected and was about 30 years ahead of predictions, a US ice expert said yesterday.

Colorado National Snow and Ice Centre glaciologist Ted Scambos said greenhouse gases were the primary reason the Arctic Ocean could be free or nearly free of summer ice by 2020, three decades sooner than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's forecast of 2050.

"Right now . . . the Arctic helps keep the Earth cool," Mr Scambos said. "Without that Arctic ice, or with much less of it, the Earth will warm much faster." This was due to the ice reflecting light and heat. When it was gone, the much darker land or sea would absorb more light and heat, making it more difficult for the planet to cool down, even in winter, he said.



China, soon to be the world's biggest greenhouse gas polluter, has gone on the offensive in global warming politics, opposing emissions caps likely to shape contentious negotiations about solutions. China objects to much in the draft of the latest UN report on global warming driven by greenhouse gases being discussed by scientists and officials in Bangkok this week, aiming to protect long-term growth plans from pressure to cut emissions. "China doesn't want to be corralled into commitments that minimise its freedom of action and questioning the science, and digging in is part of that," said Paul Harris, an expert on climate change politics at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.

China plans fast industrialisation for decades to come and its output of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas pollutant, could outstrip that of the United States as early as this year, the International Energy Agency says. So, under an international glare of attention ahead of talks about greenhouse gas rules after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, Beijing has gone on the offensive. "It wants to put off into the future the serious discussion of accepting mandatory limits," Harris said.


China's government does not doubt global warming as such. A recent official assessment said intensified droughts and floods, unpredictable weather and rising sea levels could threaten long-term development. But, it said: "With uncertainties about climate change, there should not be premature or over-zealous setting of overall global carbon emissions caps."

The Global Times, a newspaper run by the ruling Communist Party, accused Western politicians last week of using "climate terrorism" to undermine China's quest for prosperity. "All of a sudden, it's not so much China as the victim of climate change, but about how much responsibility China should bear," said Yang Ailun of Greenpeace Chinashe. "They're worried about being boxed in."

China had challenged UN climate panel draft reports at earlier meetings. In Brussels last month, China vehemently objected to wording about the likelihood climate change was affecting natural systems and succeeded in getting parts of the report cut or softened. "I guess they're concerned that if they subscribe to a certain scientific proposition, that will have implications for their post-Kyoto negotiating position," said Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University, who attended the Brussels meeting.

Lin Erda of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, a member of the UN climate panel, said China was more confident it could adapt to hotter temperatures and calls for drastic action were not justified by science. "If we say climate change will be too far gone by tomorrow and it's all negative, then we have to act today," he said. "If we say it will happen after 100 days, then we still have 50 days for development."


Even a 4 degree C rise above average temperatures of past decades did not necessarily spell the calamity some experts predicted, Lin said. "There may be more negative impacts, but we can't conclude that all would be lost." China's climate change assessment suggests seeking to cut the greenhouse gases it emits for each dollar of economic activity nearly in half by 2020. But it foresees emissions rising in absolute terms until 2050 at least.

China had reason to demand that wealthy countries with much higher per capita emissions lead the way and do more to share energy-saving technology, said Stephen Schneider of Stanford University, who has been part of the UN climate panel work. China's objections could be a "game of chicken" to win more aid, he said. "This could be a lot of posturing for the purpose of trying to get a better side deal. Just don't do it for too long."



Environmentalists fear that a key climate report to be published this week is using outdated science, and will lead to dangerous climate change. Campaigners say the IPCC's economics report has based its recommendations on the safe limit of atmospheric CO2 being 550 parts per million (ppm). But more recent scientific studies now put that figure at 450ppm, they argue. Attempts by the report's authors to amend the findings to reflect the new data have been resisted by the Chinese. The row threatens to undermine the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meeting, which is being held in Bangkok, Thailand.

CO2 concerns

The draft text of the technical report, which will be used by governments around the world as the basis for national climate policies, concludes that tackling climate change is both achievable and affordable. But environmental groups say the findings need to be re-evaluated because it is based on the idea that global atmospheric CO2 levels can be stabilised at 550ppm without risking dangerous climate change. "If governments decided to stabilise at 550ppm, I think we would see dramatic impacts around the world," said Stephanie Tunmore, a Greenpeace spokeswoman. "Hundreds of millions more people would be at risk from water shortages, and it looks - from recent evidence - as though we would start to lose the massive ice sheets at the poles, resulting in sea level rises." She added that scientists now warn a safe level of CO2 in the atmosphere is closer to 450ppm.

However, the authors of the economic report are technically unable to take the 450ppm into account because the data set on which they must base their findings uses the 450ppm figure. Attempts to change the emphasis of the report to reflect the new figures have been angrily resisted by Chinese delegates at the conference. They argue that any change in emphasis would be unsupported by any economic evidence, and would threaten to undermine the nation's drive to tackle poverty. The current trend of China's emissions would drive global CO2 to much more than 550ppm unless developed nations start making much more radical cuts than they have offered so far. China is said to be prepared to block any such changes to the report, which is scheduled to be published on Friday.

The Chinese are also negotiating hard to ensure that the document does not imply any necessity for developing nations to tackle climate change. The original UN agreement, the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change, made it clear that rich nations had to cut emissions first. China is angry that the US is blaming it for pollution when its per capita emissions are six times higher than China's, yet the Chinese are manufacturing goods for the rest of the world.

Brazil and India are said to be supportive of the stance adopted by the Chinese on this issue. But critics of China's hard-line approach point out that the nation will benefit it agrees to be bound by policies like building efficiency proposed by the Bangkok report.




The experts demanding that a film on climate change be 'corrected' before it is released on DVD are behaving more like Stalinists than scientists. A group of scientists and science communicators has written an open letter to WAG, a TV production company, insisting that it make changes to its film The Great Global Warming Swindle before releasing it on DVD.

The 38 signatories include Bob Ward, the former spokesman for the prestigious Royal Society in London, as well as former heads of Britain's academy of sciences and the weather office. They argue that Martin Durkin's film, which claims that global warming is not man-made and which caused a storm of controversy when it was shown on Channel 4 in Britain in March, contains a 'long catalogue of fundamental and profound mistakes', and these 'major misrepresentations' should be removed before the film hits the DVD shelves later this year. 'Free speech does not extend to misleading the public by making factually inaccurate statements', the letter-writers claim.

What next, a "House Committee on Un-Scientific Activities", where this self-selected group of scientists and communicators could officially sit in judgement on anyone who says the 'wrong thing' about global warming? Last year, when he was working at the Royal Society, Bob Ward wrote a letter to ExxonMobil demanding in hectoring fashion that the oil giant cut off its funding to groups that have 'misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence'; now he says films that go against the 'truth' of global warming should be chopped and changed before release.

Perhaps any new House Committee on Un-Scientific Activities could begin by forcing those who appear in its hallowed halls to swear 'I am not, and never have been, funded by oil companies', before instructing them on what is the correct thing to say in public about climate change. All others shall be silenced.

These scientists ought to be ashamed of themselves. They are behaving in a fashion that does not befit intellectual scientific debate. When they claim that they are not being censorious, but rather are standing up for facts and 'for the public interest', they protest way too much. From Torquemada to McCarthy, virtually every censorious group in society has claimed merely to be protecting what is true or right or correct, and thus saving the public from allegedly dangerous ideas.

Torquemada wanted to save humanity from religious heresy; McCarthy said he was protecting Americans from reds under the bed. Now some want to shield our eyes from allegedly oil-funded 'climate change deniers' lest they warp our minds and make us behave in a carbon-irresponsible fashion.

Even worse, the scientists' demand that information be 'corrected' from on high so that it does not sow confusion and controversy amongst the public speaks to a profoundly anti-intellectual outlook. They seem not to appreciate how important controversy is. Controversy is not, as they seem to believe, a bad idea; nor is it, as others argue, something that's simply fun or sexy, a 'good idea' in a democratic society. Rather, controversy is crucial to the development of human thought - especially in the realm of science.

You don't have to look very far to see where the 38 scientists might have got the outrageous notion that they have the authority to write to a TV production company and insist that it change the content of one of its films. As I have argued before on spiked, there is a censorious streak in debates about climate change today, where those who question the scientific consensus on global warming are frequently written off as 'deniers', a term which seems designed to link them with Holocaust deniers (see Global warming: the chilling effect on free speech, by Brendan O'Neill).

Many argue that those who kick against the climate change consensus should be denied funding, sacked from university posts and kept off the airwaves. Those who call for such censorship always claim to be protecting scientific facts from pseudo-scientific charlatans. That might be more believable if they took a consistent approach towards opposing the publication of strange scientific claims.

The 38 scientists say they want to protect the public from a factually inaccurate DVD. During a recent quick trip to my local HMV I saw a DVD of the TV series Jamie's School Dinners in which our eponymous hero - Jamie Oliver - dressed up various scare stories in medical scientific garb. He said today's children are so unhealthy that they will die before their parents, and claimed that some kids are so fat they are puking up their own faeces. There were also DVDs on alternative health and acupuncture and how 'yoga can improve your self-esteem'. In all good bookshops there are shelves that groan almost audibly under the weight of books that make junk scientific claims.

Our brave protectors of the public interest don't seem to mind about all that. Indeed, it was striking that around the same time that the 38 scientists wrote to WAG to complain about The Great Global Warming Swindle, the British government announced plans to send a copy of Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth to every secondary school in the country.

Some very serious scientists have raised questions about the scientific accuracy of Gore's movie. Don J Easterbrook, emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, said: ' I don't want to pick on Al Gore... But there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data.'

Yet Gore's allegedly inaccurate claims will be used to 'stimulate debate about climate change' amongst schoolchildren (in the words of UK education secretary Alan Johnson) while Durkin's allegedly inaccurate claims are labelled unfit for public consumption. This is really about the moral message of the films rather than their scientific underpinnings. Because Gore's movie has the 'correct' moral outlook (global warming is manmade, and we must all take individual responsibility for changing our behaviour and lowering our horizons), it is sanctioned by the authorities and even used to reshape children's understanding of humanity and our relationship with the planet. Because Durkin's movie has the 'incorrect' moral outlook (global warming is not manmade, and demands that we limit carbon emissions are proving disastrous for the developing world), it is vilified.

Some are in effect using claims of scientific authority to copperfasten what is in fact a deeply moralistic campaign dictating what people should expect from life today. The consequences of using science in this way are as ominous as they are far-reaching. It is bad for political debate because when certain positions are said to be scientifically verified then they are also considered to be beyond interrogation. It is bad for science, too, because the use of scientific data to confer authority on explicitly political positions will surely pollute the morally neutral aim of science to discover new things, while also potentially firing up public cynicism with science.

Perhaps the most shocking thing about the 38 scientists' call for a film on global warming to be 'corrected' is just how anti-intellectual such a demand is. Ideas are developed, indeed facts are established, only through the most rigorous debate possible. As John Stuart Mill wrote nearly 150 years ago: 'Complete liberty of contradicting and disproving our opinion is the very condition which justifies us in assuming its truth for purposes of action; and on no other terms can a being with human faculties have any rational assurance of being right.'

In short, the only way to test out ideas - to prove them or improve them, to see if they're right or true or useful or nonsense - is by submitting them to free and open debate. Restricting the communication or publication of certain ideas damages intellectual debate across the board because it limits our ability to weigh things up and work things out. This is especially true of science. Science thrives on hypotheses being verified or falsified. Its lifeblood is the sharing of ideas and findings and claims, both amongst scientists and also between scientists and the public - findings which scientists discuss and explore, seeking to prove or disprove them through research and interrogation.

In this sense, controversy, including the kind of controversy stirred up by The Great Global Warming Swindle, should not be seen as a negative thing; controversy should be viewed as a crucial component of scientific and intellectual development; it can excite people, intensify debate, and allow us to reach a firmer conclusion about what we believe to be true and what is right.

Perhaps more than any other area of life, science develops through a self-corrective process. In demanding that something be corrected from on high, and before being fully submitted for public consideration, the 38 scientists complaining to WAG have violated the very spirit of their vocation. They have behaved less like scientists, and more like Stalinists.


Honeybees: The first 100,000,000 years

The bees are dying! The bees are dying! Yes, for all you eco-horror fans, it's the latest thing anxiety to hug to your bosom. Nighttime AM radio is mad with frightening rumors about our crashing bee populations. But here's a soothing thought. Bees have been around for at least 100,000,000 years.

Think about that: One hundred times one million summers and winters. The ancestors of the little helicopters you see dancing around the flowers in your yard today have been found embedded in amber dated back a million centuries. That means eons of bee viruses and bee bacteria, not to mention the rise and fall of predatory birds and dinosaurs, major climate changes galore, humongous volcanic eruptions, asteroid strikes, and large ups and downs in the population of flowering plants, the food source for bees. And very recently, about four million years ago, the rise of hominids like you and me. And yet those tiny insectoid hummers keep helicoptering around in their billions.

So that today, even if all the rogue nuke maniacs in the world explode all their mega-bombs at the same time, chances are the first sound you'll hear, after your ears stop ringing, will be a gentle but very persistent bzzzzzzzzt.... And you'll see a hardy little insect buzzing your sugar rations, right down there in your bomb-shelter. Not many people may survive, but the bees will find a way. No, I wouldn't worry too much about the indestructible bees.



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

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

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


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Another skeptic comes out

He tells the tale of his conversion by the data below. He puts it in the context of a bet he has made with a Warmist believer:

I devoted six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian government to estimate carbon emissions from land use change and forestry (Google on "FullCAM"). When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty conclusive, but since then new evidence has weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause. I am now skeptical. As Lord Keynes famously said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" In the late 1990's the evidence suggesting that carbon emissions caused global warming was basically:

1. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Proved in a laboratory a century ago.

2. Global warming has been occurring for a century, especially since 1975, and concentrations of atmospheric carbon have been rising for a century, especially since 1975. Correlation is not causation, but in a rough sense it looked like a fit.

3. Ice core data, starting with the first cores from Vostok in 1985, allowed us to measure temperature and atmospheric carbon going back hundreds of thousands of years, through several dramatic global warming and cooling events. To the temporal resolution then available (data points were generally more than a thousand years apart), atmospheric carbon and temperature moved in lock-step: there was an extremely high correlation, they rose and fell together. Talk about a smoking gun!

4. There weren't any other credible suspects for causing global warming. So presumably it had to be carbon emissions.

This evidence was good enough: not conclusive, but why wait until we are absolutely certain when we apparently need to act now? So the idea that carbon emissions were causing global warming passed from the scientific community into the political realm, and actions started to happen. Research increased, bureaucracies were formed, international committees met, and eventually the Kyoto protocol was signed in 1997 -- with the aim of curbing carbon emissions.

And the political realm in turn fed money back into the scientific community. By the late 1990's, lots of jobs depended on the idea that carbon emissions caused global warming. Many of them were bureaucratic, but there were a lot of science jobs created too. I was on that gravy train, making a high wage in a science job that would not have existed if we didn't believe carbon emissions caused global warming. And so were lots of people around me; and there were international conferences full of such people. And we had political support, the ear of government, big budgets, and we felt fairly important and useful (well, I did anyway). It was great. We were working to save the planet! But starting in about 2000, the last three of the four pieces of evidence outlined above fell away or reversed. Using the same point numbers as above:

2. Closer examination of the last century using better data shows that from 1940 to 1975 the earth cooled at about 0.1C/decade while atmospheric carbon increased. But any warming effect of atmospheric carbon is immediate. By 2003 or so we had discovered global dimming, which might be adequate to explain this 35-year non-correlation. But what had seemed like a good fit between recent atmospheric carbon and global warming now looks shaky, in need of the recently-discovered unquantified global dimming factor to explain 35 years of substantial cooling. I reckon the last century of correlation evidence now neither supports carbon emissions as the cause nor eliminates it. Further quantitative research on global dimming might rescue this bit of evidence, or it might weaken it further.

3. As more ice core data was collected, the temporal resolution was improved. By 2004 or so we knew from the ice core data that in the warming events of the last million years the temperature increases generally started about 800 years *before* the rises in atmospheric carbon started. Causality does not run in the direction I had assumed in 1999 -- it runs the opposite way. Presumably temperature rises cause a delayed rise in atmospheric carbon because it takes several hundred years to warm the oceans enough for the oceans to give off more of their carbon.

It is possible that rising atmospheric carbon in these past warmings then went on to cause more warming ("amplification" of the initial warming), but the ice core data does not prove that. It could just be that the temperature rose for some other reason, that this caused the oceans to raise the atmospheric carbon levels, and that the increased atmospheric carbon had an insignificant effect on the temperature.

The pre-2000 ice core data was the central evidence for believing that atmospheric carbon caused temperature increases. The new ice core data shows that past warmings were *not* initially caused by rises in atmospheric carbon, and says nothing about the strength of any amplification. This piece of evidence casts reasonable doubt that atmospheric carbon had any role in past warmings, while still allowing the possibility that it had a supporting role.

4. A credible alternative suspect now exists. Clouds both reflect incoming radiation (albedo) and prevent heat from escaping (greenhouse), but with low clouds the albedo effect is stronger than the greenhouse effect. Thus low clouds cause net cooling (high clouds are less common and do the opposite). In October 2006 a team led by Henrik Svensmark showed experimentally that cosmic rays affect cloud formation, and thus that :

Stronger sun's magnetic field
=> Less cosmic rays hit Earth
=> Fewer low clouds are formed
=> Earth heats up.

And indeed, the sun's magnetic field has been stronger than usual for the last three decades. So maybe cosmic rays cause global warming. But investigation of this cause is still in its infancy, and it's far too early to judge how much of the global warming is caused by cosmic rays. So three of the four arguments that convinced me in 1999 that carbon emissions caused global warming are now questionable.

The case for carbon emissions as the cause of global warming now just boils down to the fact that we know that it works in the laboratory, and that there is no strong evidence that global warming is definitely *not* caused by carbon emissions. Much the same can be said of cosmic rays -- we have laboratory evidence that it works, and no definitely contradictory evidence. So why did I bet against global warming continuing at the current rate? Let's return to the interaction between science and politics.

By 2000 the political system had responded to the strong scientific case that carbon emissions caused global warming by creating thousands of bureaucratic and science jobs aimed at more research and at curbing carbon emissions. This was a good and sensible response by big government to what science was telling them.

But after 2000 the evidence for carbon emissions gradually got weaker -- better temperature data for the last century, more detailed ice core data, then laboratory evidence that cosmic rays precipitate low clouds. Future evidence might strengthen or further weaken the carbon emissions hypothesis. At what stage of the weakening should the science community alert the political system that carbon emissions might not be the main cause of global warming? None of the new evidence actually says that carbon emissions are definitely not the cause of global warming, there are lots of good science jobs potentially at stake, and if the scientific message wavers then it might be difficult to recapture the attention of the political system later on. What has happened is that most research effort since 2000 has assumed that carbon emissions were the cause, and the alternatives get much less research or political attention.

(BTW, I quit my job in carbon accounting in 2005 for personal reasons. It had nothing to do with my weakening belief that carbon emissions caused global warming. I felt that the main value of our plant models was in land management and plant simulation, and that carbon accounting was just a by-product.)

Unfortunately politics and science have become even more entangled. The science of global warming has become a partisan political issue, so positions become more entrenched. Politicians and the public prefer simple and less-nuanced messages. At the moment the political climate strongly supports carbon emissions as the cause of global warming, to the point of sometimes rubbishing or silencing critics. The integrity of the scientific community will win out in the end, following the evidence wherever it leads. But in the meantime, the effects of the political climate is that most people are overestimating the evidence in favor of carbon emissions as the cause of global warming. Which makes it a good time to bet the other way :)

I would like to bet against carbon emissions being the main cause of the current global warming. But I can't bet on that directly, because all betting requires an unambiguous and measurable criterion. About the only related measure we can bet on is global temperature. So I accepted Brian's bets about trends in global temperatures over the next 10 to 20 years. Basically, if the current warming trend continues or accelerates then Brian will win; if the rate of warming slows then I will win. Even if carbon emissions are not the main cause of this global warming, I can still lose:

* Global warming might be due to a side-effect of industrialization other than carbon emissions. Possible causes include atmospheric reactions of industrial chemicals that hinder the rate of low cloud formation.

* Global warming might be primarily due to a non-human cause, such as something related to the sun or to underground nuclear reactions. If this cause persists over the next 20 years as it has for the last 30 years then I will lose, but if it fades in the next decade then I win.

I emphasize that we are making a bet involving odds and judgment. The evidence is not currently conclusive either for or against any particular cause of global warming. I think that it *is* possible that carbon emissions are the dominant cause of global warming, but in light of the weakening evidence I judge that probability to be about 20% rather than almost 90% as estimated by the IPCC.

I worry that politics could seriously distort the science. Suppose that carbon taxes are widely enacted, but that the rate of global warming increase starts to decline by 2015. The political system might be under pressure to repay the taxes, so it might in turn put a lot of pressure on scientists to provide justifications for the taxes. Or the political system might reject the taxes and blame science for misinforming it, which could be a terrible outcome for science because the political system is powerful and not constrained by truth.

Some people take strong rhetorical positions on global warming. But the cause of global warming is not just another political issue that is subject to endless debate and distortions. The cause of global warming is an issue that falls into the realm of science, because it is falsifiable. No amount of human posturing will affect what the cause is. The cause just physically is there, and after sufficient research and time we will know what it is. Looking back in another 40 years, we will almost certainly know the answer and Brian and I will be in agreement on the issue.

Given that betting is thus possible on this issue, it seems strange that some people who take strong positions and profit by those positions are not prepared to bet even a small amount of their own money. Betting something of one's own money adds, shall we say, credibility. And people whose own money is at stake try a little harder -- a well known advantage of private business over public. A good side effect of widespread betting would be a market in betting that would represent a community-wide best guess. Such markets exists in sports betting, and are the best predictors of game outcomes. Let's hope for the planet's sake that I win the bets :) Meanwhile let's do more research, and take cheap measures to curb carbon emissions!



Leading scientists are today expected to back a major expansion of nuclear power as a way of saving the world from global warming. Other measures in a United Nations report include the use of GM crops to produce biofuels and the "capture and storage" underground of harmful CO2 gases. More than 2,000 scientists have contributed to the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) report and 400 of them met today in Bangkok to finalise it before publication on Friday.

The report is the biggest to study the practical actions that could reduce emissions and its findings will play a key role in Kyoto negotiations which will take place in December. The new report is the third this year by the UN climate panel. An IPCC report in February said it was at least 90 per cent certain that mankind was to blame for global warming and on 6 April it warned of more hunger, droughts and rising seas. "We're moving from two very sobering reports to what we can do about climate change," said Achim Steiner, the head of the UN's environment programme. "And we can do it."

As well as plans for more nuclear power, genetically modified biofuels and carbon storage, the report sets out a vision of the future that is a mixture of existing policies, such as energy efficiency and renewable energy from wind and wave farms, and more futuristic ideas for hydrogen car fleets and "intelligent" buildings which can control energy use.

In addition, the report makes it clear that both developed countries, including the United States, and developing nations, in particular India and China, will have to play major roles. However, the scientists in Bangkok have already voiced fears that some countries, including China and the US, will say the proposed measures are unrealistic. Michel Petit, a member of the French delegation, said: "Some countries may challenge these figures."

The report has also angered environmentalists. Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth said: "Nuclear reactors are dangerous and land clearance and chemical pesticides and fertilisers used to grow fuel crops can cause huge environmental damage."


Streetcars not so desirable

The so-called "modern streetcar" has become the latest urban planning fad, with cities from Albuquerque [Read] to Madison [Read] considering new streetcar construction. Leaders from these cities often make pilgrimages to my hometown of Portland, Oregon, which opened the nation's first modern streetcar line in 2001.

There they learn that the streetcar has gotten people out of their automobiles and promoted economic development. After drinking the Portland Kool-Aid, the officials return home all fired up to build streetcar lines in their cities. Unfortunately, Portland tour guides typically feed these officials only half the story.

Portland's streetcar line extends from the Pearl District, north of downtown, to the South Waterfront District, south of downtown. Both districts have seen huge booms in the construction of condos, apartments, offices, and shops, which Portland officials are quick to credit to the streetcar.

What they don't tell you is that the developers of both districts have also enjoyed huge tax subsidies in the form of tax waivers, infrastructure subsidies, and direct grants. Portland taxpayers have paid or are shelling out more than a quarter of a billion in subsidies to these districts, not counting the cost of the streetcar or the ten years of property tax waivers that the city routinely grants to new construction along the streetcar line.

In short, the streetcar had nothing to do with the new construction. Without the subsidies but with the streetcar, virtually no new construction would have taken place. With the subsidies but no streetcar, virtually all of the new developments would have been built anyway.

If the streetcar is not promoting economic development, does it at least help get people out of their automobiles? In a word, "no." An annual census of downtown businesses revealed that in 2001, when the streetcar opened, 1 percent of downtown employees took the streetcar to work. By 2005, it was still only 1 percent.

At the same time, however, the number of downtown commuters who took other forms of transit to work declined by more than 20 percent, while the number who drove to work increased. One reason for this is that the large subsidies required for the streetcar and the developments along the streetcar line led to budget and service cuts in Portland's bus and light-rail schedules [Read]. Because of those cuts, Portland's total transit ridership has been flat despite high gas prices.

The clear lesson is that if you pay huge amounts of money for what amounts to a Disneyland ride, you end up hurting the average transit rider. And not just transit riders: Portland schools, fire, police, public health, and other essential services have all seen budget squeezes even as the city continues to give huge subsidies to developers along the streetcar line.

The full scope of these subsidies was uncovered in 2004, when a Portland newspaper revealed that former Mayor Neil Goldschmidt, considered the father of Portland's rail transit system, had raped a 14-year-old girl when he was mayor. His disgrace allowed local papers to divulge, for the first time, that Goldschmidt led what reporters called a "light-rail mafia" that existed mainly to direct public subsidies to Goldschmidt's friends and clients.

This mafia developed after Goldschmidt left public office and set up a consulting firm. He soon arranged for Bechtel to receive a no-bid contract to build a light-rail line; put a close friend -- who happened to be a developer -- in charge of Portland's transit agency where he directed millions of dollars of subsidies to his company's developments; and personally lobbied for the $250 million in subsidies for the Pearl and South Waterfront Districts, most of which would go to his clients (see

On September 17, 2006, Portland took a page out of Dickens when Goldschmidt-client Homer Williams, the developer responsible for most of the subsidized developments along the streetcar line, sat down to dinner at an outdoor restaurant near the streetcar. A few feet outside the restaurant, he witnessed police subdue a schizophrenic man named Jim Jim Chasse.

Five years ago, Portland had a community policing system, a crisis triage center, and other resources that would have allowed the police to help this man (see But those services were cut while the city continued giving Williams and other developers hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to develop properties along the streetcar line. Instead of helping Jim Jim, the police simply kicked him to death.

Most cities that fall for the streetcar hoax will not be lucky enough to have a Goldschmidt-style sex scandal, so taxpayers will never know where all their money went. The best solution for those cities is not to waste money on a streetcar line in the first place.


Carbon neutral hogwash

In addition to the celebrities - Leo, Brad, George - politicians like John Edwards and Hillary Clinton are now running, at least part of the time, carbon-neutral campaigns. A lengthening list of big businesses - international banks, London's taxi fleet, luxury airlines - also claim "carbon neutrality." Silverjet, a plush new trans-Atlantic carrier, bills itself as the first fully carbon-neutral airline. It puts about $28 of each round-trip ticket into a fund for global projects that, in theory, squelch as much carbon dioxide as the airline generates - about 1.2 tons per passenger, the airline says.

Also, a largely unregulated carbon-cutting business has sprung up. In this market, consultants or companies estimate a person's or company's output of greenhouse gases. Then, these businesses sell "offsets," which pay for projects elsewhere that void or sop up an equal amount of emissions - say, by planting trees or, as one new company proposes, fertilizing the ocean so algae can pull the gas out of the air. Recent counts by Business Week magazine and several environmental watchdog groups tally the trade in offsets at more than $100 million a year and growing blazingly fast.

But is the carbon-neutral movement just a gimmick? On this, environmentalists aren't neutral, and they don't agree. Some believe it helps build support, but others argue that these purchases don't accomplish anything meaningful - other than giving someone a slightly better feeling (or greener reputation) after buying a 6,000-square-foot house or passing the million-mile mark in a frequent-flier program. In fact, to many environmentalists, the carbon-neutral campaign is a sign of the times - easy on the sacrifice and big on the consumerism.

As long as the use of fossil fuels keeps climbing - which is happening relentlessly around the world - the emission of greenhouse gases will keep rising. The average American, by several estimates, generates more than 20 tons of carbon dioxide or related gases a year; the average resident of the planet about 4.5 tons.

At this rate, environmentalists say, buying someone else's squelched emissions is all but insignificant. "The worst of the carbon-offset programs resemble the Catholic Church's sale of indulgences back before the Reformation," said Denis Hayes, the president of the Bullitt Foundation, an environmental grant-making group. "Instead of reducing their carbon footprints, people take private jets and stretch limos, and then think they can buy an indulgence to forgive their sins." "This whole game is badly in need of a modern Martin Luther," Mr. Hayes added.

Some environmental campaigners defend this marketplace as a legitimate, if imperfect, way to support an environmental ethic and political movement, even if the numbers don't all add up. "We can't stop global warming with voluntary offsets, but they offer an option for individuals looking for a way to contribute to the solution in addition to reducing their own emissions and urging their elected representatives to support good policy," said Daniel A. Lashof, the science director of the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

But he and others agree that more oversight is needed. Voluntary standards and codes of conduct are evolving in Europe and the United States to ensure that a ton of carbon dioxide purchased is actually a ton of carbon dioxide avoided. The first attempt at an industry report card, commissioned by the environmental group Clean Air/Cool Planet (which has some involvement in the business), gave decidedly mixed reviews to the field, selecting eight sellers of carbon offsets that it concluded were reasonably reliable. But the report, "A Consumer's Guide to Retail Carbon-Offset Providers," concluded that this market was no different than any other, saying, "if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Prices vary widely for offsetting the carbon dioxide tonnage released by a long plane flight, S.U.V. commute or energy-hungry house. The report suggested that the cheapest offsets may not be legitimate. For example, depending on where you shop for carbon credits, avoiding the ton of carbon dioxide released by driving a midsize car about 2,000 miles could cost $5 or $25, according to data in the report.

Mr. Hayes said there were legitimate companies and organizations that help people and companies measure their emissions and find ways to cut them, both directly and indirectly by purchasing certain kinds of credits. But overall, he said, an investment in such credits - given the questions about their reliability - should be looked at more as conventional charity (presuming you check to be sure the projects are real) and less as something like a license to binge on private jet travel.



Russia's giant state-owned natural gas company Gazprom will sell gas to its European Union customers along with carbon credits to offset the emissions from the burning of the fuel. Gazprom Marketing & Trading, the utility's British subsidiary has announced a deal to buy Kyoto carbon credits, CERs, from a Brazilian biomass power generation project. Those credits will packaged up with gas sales to offer Gazprom's customers a carbon neutral fuel purchase to help meet their targets under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

The Brazilian project will deliver CERs over a six-year period and Gazprom says it intends to source more such credits from other projects in Brazil. Under the Clean Development Mechanism set up under the Kyoto Protocol, carbon credits are created by paying for greenhouse gas emission reduction projects in developing countries. They are then used to offset emissions in developed countries which are subject to Kyoto emission reduction targets. "This is an important step in Gazprom's strategy to support the global carbon business and green energy development under the Kyoto Protocol," said Vitaly Vasiliev, CEO of Gazprom Marketing & Trading. Gazprom and other Russian firms are anxious to develop their expertise in international carbon trading markets.

Because of the collapse of Soviet-era industry in the 1990s, Russia has an enormous notional surplus of emission reduction credits under Kyoto. Known has 'hot air', the resulting credits, accumulating because industrial emissions are far less than they were in the base year 1990, are estimated be worth up to $60 billion if sold to other industrialized countries liable under Kyoto.



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

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

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


Wednesday, May 02, 2007


An email from Oliver Manuel []

Readers who want to understand the forces that impact Earth may enjoy reading Stuart Clark's non-fictional account of a solar eruption in September of 1859:

"In September of 1859, the entire Earth was engulfed in a gigantic cloud of seething gas, and a blood-red aurora erupted across the planet from the poles to the tropics. Around the world, telegraph systems crashed, machines burst into flames, and electric shocks rendered operators unconscious. Compasses and other sensitive instruments reeled as if struck by a massive magnetic fist. For the first time, people began to suspect that the Earth was not isolated from the rest of the universe."

Imagine the impact of such an event on our electronically connected society today.


European union green fuel targets will accelerate the destruction of rainforests in South-East Asia and threaten the habitat of endangered species, such as the orang-utan

In March EU leaders agreed to set a binding climate change target to make biofuel - energy sources made from plant material - account for 10 per cent of all Europe's transport fuels by 2020. But the European Commission has admitted that the objective, which aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions, may have the unintended consequence of speeding up the destruction of tropical rainforests and peatlands in South-East Asia - actually increasing, not reducing, global warming.

European consumption of plant-based fuels will soar from around three million tons at present to more than 30 million tons in 2010, driving a boom in imports of cheap biofuels. Europe is still years away from self-sufficiency in biofuels produced from straw and other waste vegetation. As a result, demand for cheap imports of fuels, such as palm oil, is expected to soar.

Countries such as Indonesia have already begun planning an increase in the production of palm oil, a development campaigners fear will see more rainforest fall to the axe and rare peat soil burned. Andris Piebalgs, the European Energy Commissioner, has confirmed that, despite setting the biofuel target, the EU has no system to certify that imports exclude palm oil or fuel production that has resulted in the destruction of rare natural resources. ''No mandatory certification exists at present that will guarantee that tropical rainforests or peatlands in South-East Asia are not destroyed for the production of palm oil," he said.

In a written response to a European Parliament question, Mr Piebalgs went on to confess that without a scheme EU targets "would supplement the pressure caused by growth in palm oil use and would make an additional contribution to the pressure on tropical forests and peatlands".

Commission declarations that it plans to develop a "sustainability" scheme, similar to one applying to the logging of tropical woods, have been greeted with scepticism. Chris Davies, a British Liberal Democrat Euro-MP, doubts that any EU measures can be properly policed. ''We haven't been able to halt the supply from rainforests of illegally felled timber so how can we have confidence that sustainability certificates would be worth the paper on which they are written?," he asked.

Environmentalists have called on the commission to ensure that biofuel policy does not wreak eco-destruction before setting targets. ''The biofuel policy of the European Commission is a complete mess," said a Friends of the Earth UK spokesman. He added: "We think these targets are not only not useful but are destructive. ''Abandoning them is the only responsible thing to do."

Efforts to agree international eco-standards for biofuel will be on the agenda of an EU-US summit in Washington next Monday. Many developing countries are opposed, on free trade grounds, to green import restrictions on commodities such as palm oil and America disputes that a problem even exists, making agreement unlikely.



Companies and individuals rushing to go green have been spending millions on "carbon credit" projects that yield few if any environmental benefits. A Financial Times investigation has uncovered widespread failings in the new markets for greenhouse gases, suggesting some organisations are paying for emissions reductions that do not take place. Others are meanwhile making big profits from carbon trading for very small expenditure and in some cases for clean-ups that they would have made anyway.

The growing political salience of environmental politics has sparked a "green gold rush", which has seen a dramatic expansion in the number of businesses offering both companies and individuals the chance to go "carbon neutral", offsetting their own energy use by buying carbon credits that cancel out their contribution to global warming. The burgeoning regulated market for carbon credits is expected to more than double in size to about $68.2bn by 2010, with the unregulated voluntary sector rising to $4bn in the same period.

The FT investigation found:

* Widespread instances of people and organisations buying worthless credits that do not yield any reductions in carbon emissions.

* Industrial companies profiting from doing very little - or from gaining carbon credits on the basis of efficiency gains from which they have already benefited substantially.

* Brokers providing services of questionable or no value.

* A shortage of verification, making it difficult for buyers to assess the true value of carbon credits.

* Companies and individuals being charged over the odds for the private purchase of European Union carbon permits that have plummeted in value because they do not result in emissions cuts.

Francis Sullivan, environment adviser at HSBC, the UK's biggest bank that went carbon-neutral in 2005, said he found "serious credibility concerns" in the offsetting market after evaluating it for several months. "The police, the fraud squad and trading standards need to be looking into this. Otherwise people will lose faith in it," he said. These concerns led the bank to ignore the market and fund its own carbon reduction projects directly.

Some companies are benefiting by asking "green" consumers to pay them for cleaning up their own pollution. For instance, DuPont, the chemicals company, invites consumers to pay $4 to eliminate a tonne of carbon dioxide from its plant in Kentucky that produces a potent greenhouse gas called HFC-23. But the equipment required to reduce such gases is relatively cheap. DuPont refused to comment and declined to specify its earnings from the project, saying it was at too early a stage to discuss.

The FT has also found examples of companies setting up as carbon offsetters without appearing to have a clear idea of how the markets operate. In response to FT inquiries about its sourcing of carbon credits, one company,, said it had not taken payments for offsets. Blue Source, a US offsetting company, invites consumers to offset carbon emissions by investing in enhanced oil recovery, which pumps carbon dioxide into depleted oil wells to bring up the remaining oil. However, Blue Source said that because of the high price of oil, this process was often profitable in itself, meaning operators were making extra revenues from selling "carbon credits" for burying the carbon.

There is nothing illegal in these practices. However, some companies that are offsetting their emissions have avoided such projects because customers may find them controversial. BP said it would not buy credits resulting from improvements in industrial efficiency or from most renewable energy projects in developed countries.



On Monday, regional Spanish media in Galicia reported yet another story revealing the wonders of carbon cap-and-trade, such that Spain is rapidly pulling ahead as the ideal case study for what awaits us for our moral leaders bent on applying the ETS or its ilk to the US economy.

This latest comes on top of a) plants being closed in Valencia and Zaragoza for lack of a Kyoto permit and b) Acerinox's CEO announcing his (steel manufacturing) investment would all go outside Europe now (the US - so far, 175 jobs in Carroll County, KY - and South Africa)..

Ceramics are an industry that Spain seeks to protect from Brussels like Germany (ideally) would its chemicals - they tried, e.g., in the REACH debate - and they require a bit of energy to make their products. Now, in Galicia, a manufacturer announced that last year it earned more from selling credits than ceramics (reminding me of an email I once got in which a French pharma company announced that selling credits was where its future lies, not pharmaceuticals).

Their statement was couched in terms of thanking the government for generously (that is, "over-") allocating ETS credits to them (for free, as industry lobbyists already demand of Congress), and noted that with the credit price having skyrocketed (before collapsing) they were able to reap a windfall by selling what the government had given them. They lamented that the price collapse, however, indicated this wasn't, er, sustainable.

Buried in this however was the phrase that, taking that price spike into account, they had decided to "equalibriate" their operations so as to maximize profits with an ideal mix of selling allocations and using them by, well, using electricity to make stuff...which is to say they also went into the business of making nothing, dedicating more of their operations to the task, which is far less labor intensive. That is, they found it more profitable to partially shut down, to idle workers. In the name of the environment, mind you.


Global warming on Mars again

Mars is being hit by rapid climate change and it is happening so fast that the red planet could lose its southern ice cap, writes Jonathan Leake

Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period. Since there is no known life on Mars it suggests rapid changes in planetary climates could be natural phenomena.

The mechanism at work on Mars appears, however, to be different from that on Earth. One of the researchers, Lori Fenton, believes variations in radiation and temperature across the surface of the Red Planet are generating strong winds. In a paper published in the journal Nature, she suggests that such winds can stir up giant dust storms, trapping heat and raising the planet's temperature.

Fenton's team unearthed heat maps of the Martian surface from Nasa's Viking mission in the 1970s and compared them with maps gathered more than two decades later by Mars Global Surveyor. They found there had been widespread changes, with some areas becoming darker. When a surface darkens it absorbs more heat, eventually radiating that heat back to warm the thin Martian atmosphere: lighter surfaces have the opposite effect. The temperature differences between the two are thought to be stirring up more winds, and dust, creating a cycle that is warming the planet.



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

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

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


Tuesday, May 01, 2007


The German government has in the past issued strong calls to do more to combat climate change, yet the country`s energy companies are planning to build more than 20 new coal-fired power plants.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel lives in an apartment in what was once the communist part of Berlin, right across from the city`s famous Pergamon Museum. Her workplace, the chancellor`s office, is less than a mile away. Here, Merkel in the past months has often talked about the negative effects of climate change, at the moment her topic of choice. A former environment minister, Merkel has said measures to counter climate change were among the top priorities of her European Union and Group of Eight presidencies in the first half of 2007. And indeed, earlier this year, she managed to convince fellow EU leaders to agree to a binding set of targets aimed at combating climate change: EU states would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent, raise the share of renewable energy sources to 20 percent and increase energy efficiency by 20 percent, all by 2020. The EU even proposed a 30 percent cut of CO2 emissions if the world`s biggest polluters, namely the United States and China, followed suit.

Yet while Merkel has gained international praise for her initiatives, things at home look a bit gloomier. In Lichtenberg, a Berlin district just a few minutes away from her apartment, German energy giant Vattenfall plans to build a coal-fired power plant, a major producer of greenhouse gases.

And the Lichtenberg plant, to be completed by 2012, will not remain the only fossil fuel-fired plant to be raised in Germany. Aside from Vattenfall, Germany`s other three energy giants -- Eon, RWE and EnBW -- have plans of their own. All in all, no less than 26 power plants burning either hard (anthracite) coal or brown (lignite) coal will be built in the coming years, German news magazine Der Spiegel said.

Coal-fired plants in German on average emit 1,050 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour, compared to 428 grams for gas-fired plants, according to the German environment group BUND. The plants would jointly emit some 150 million tons of CO2 per year, roughly the same amount than Switzerland`s entire energy sector. 'If all of those plants end up being installed, there is no way we can reach our climate protection goals for reducing emissions,' Reinhard Loske, a climate expert for the Green Party parliamentary group, recently told Deutsche Welle Online. 'No one who takes climate change seriously can now accept over 20 coal-fired power plants being built in this country.'

Yet members of the German government have defended the new investments. 'The new plants to be built in Germany are equipped with most modern technologies,' German Economy Minister Michael Glos told mass daily Bild last Sunday. RWE and Vattenfall have said the new coal-fired plants will replace older, dirtier plants that will soon go offline, and vowed to also work on technologies to build the world`s first CO2 free coal-fired plants.

The struggle over the future of coal in Germany is heavily loaded; the country has significant resources, and prices for imported lignites (from South Africa and nearby Poland) are much cheaper compared to oil and gas. Today, more than a quarter of German electricity is generated by burning coal.

Merkel in the past has said clean goal technologies were important for Germany`s future energy mix. Moreover, she knows the 26 new plants (for an estimated $40 billion) will secure domestic jobs, especially as they are built in economically weaker regions such as North Rhine Westphalia. Germany`s Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel (of the Social Democratic Party, or SPD), an advocate of renewable energy sources, would rather see wind, solar and hydro power plants built, but he hasn`t protested so far. Observers say Gabriel knows that abolishing coal would mean a resurrection of nuclear energy, which the Gabriel and the SPD want to phase out by 2021.



Ding-dong the Kyoto witch is dead, killed off by Canadian politicians -- Conservative and Liberal -- who never believed in it anyway. The messy coup de grace was delivered Thursday by Environment Minister John Baird, standing in for the nation's leading, although now undercover, global warming sceptic, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Meanwhile, the predictable festival of indignation marking Kyoto's demise was led by Stephane Dion, leader of the Liberals -- collectively the biggest bunch of hypocrites on Kyoto to ever darken a doorway in Ottawa. Bad enough Harper now pretends to take global warming seriously. The Liberals pretended to do so for almost a decade after they signed Kyoto in 1998, then did nothing to implement it until they were tossed from power last year.

To know how dead Kyoto is, you only had to listen to the reaction of the special interest groups on Thursday, after Baird announced the Tories' "Kyoto-lite" plan, which is actually tougher on pollution than greenhouse gases. Spokespeople for Alberta's oil sands, the auto sector and other big industrial emitters said the regulations were tough, but they could live with them. (Translation? They're relieved.)

As for those groups that believe in Kyoto, let's call them "the Suzuki nation," they were really ticked off. Harper is gambling we Canadians talk a better game on Kyoto than they're willing to play, or, more important, pay. He read the polls showing that while we support implementing Kyoto by a margin of two-to-one, we also, by the same margin, don't want to pay significantly more for fossil fuels to do it.

Thus we've been handed "Kyoto-lite" -- which will cost the average family a few hundred dollars a year once it's up and running, rather than a few thousand. Since the Conservatives will introduce their reforms by regulation, not legislation, they won't become an issue on which they could fall through a non-confidence vote. Still, the next election will come soon enough. Then, Kyoto supporters will be able to punish the Conservatives by voting Liberal, NDP, Bloc or Green. But even if they do, make no mistake. In Canada, Kyoto's dead. Born 1998, died 2007. RIP. And good riddance.


'The IPCC goes looking for bad news'

An Australian academic who worked on the latest IPCC report says it overstates scary weather scenarios and understates man's ability to adapt

Aynsley Kellow, the head of the School of Government at the University of Tasmania who was recently involved in contributing to the latest IPCC report, is checking into a hotel in Melbourne when I call. `Can you give me 10 minutes?' he asks. A few minutes later, a more settled Kellow has established camp in his room. `I'm checked in and room service is on the way. We have a window of opportunity', he chuckles. I'd better make this quick. As an interviewer, you need to be adaptable.

`Adaptability' is a quality underappreciated by others, however. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the latest section of its fourth assessment report in early April. After the release of the summary for policymakers (SPM) in February, which covered the scientific basis of climate change, April's report looked at the possible impacts of warming. It was resolutely gloomy stuff.

Among the highlights, there were claims of: increased risk of flooding and drought; the retreat of glaciers, causing areas supplied by meltwater to struggle for water; damaged ecosystems with increased risk of extinctions; increasing food output at higher latitudes offset by lower output nearer to the equator - meaning increased risk of hunger; adverse effects for aquaculture and fisheries; increased coastal erosion and coastal flooding; and an overall negative effect on industry and society.

Then we get on to the health effects: increasing malnutrition and stunted child growth; increased death and disease through heatwaves, floods, storms, fires and drought; greater diarrhoeal disease; more cardio-respiratory disease due to increased ground-level ozone; altered distribution of infectious disease vectors. In passing, we are told that there will be fewer deaths due to cold in temperate areas, but even this piece of good news will, apparently, be outweighed by the rising number of deaths in warmer areas.

Kellow, who before heading up government studies in Tasmania was Professor of Social Sciences in the Australian School of Environmental Studies at Griffith University, is less than impressed. `They really do emphasise the bad news. They're looking for bad news in all of this. This will be a warmer and wetter world according to the models. But if you look at this report, which is still to be finalised, it would seem that no rain will fall in any form that's at all useful. You'll have droughts, torrential rain, storms.'

According to the scenarios on which the climate models are based, the developing world will go through an enormous economic leap forward over the next century - and apparently this will have many deadly consequences. Kellow is not convinced by such claims: `The IPCC is assuming rates of economic growth that dwarf the nineteenth-century success of the USA, the twentieth century in Japan and so on. The USA experienced, I think, a ninefold increase in GDP per capita; these are making assumptions about 30-fold increases. So you can question their credibility. But if you do that, you're questioning the emissions scenarios that are driving the climate models.'

There seems to be a contradiction in the IPCC's thinking. It believes developing countries will experience potentially enormous growth rates over the next 100 years - yet it treats these countries as being just as vulnerable to droughts, floods and so on as if they were trying to tackle the symptoms of climate change in their present poverty-stricken condition. Either the IPCC has overestimated the growth, in which case climate change is likely to be less severe - or it has got the growth rates right (and certainly a 30-fold increase in output in the Third World would be welcome) and these countries will therefore be more likely to have the resources to cope with climatic change.

Even if the growth rates are overstated, the countries worst-affected, according to this latest report, will still be in a very different position from today. As the policy analyst Indur Goklany notes in a wide-ranging critique of the IPCC's April report, not only will these countries be richer than today; they will also benefit from the cheapening of current technologies and the creation of new ones (1).

There is something almost Malthusian in the IPCC's line that growth-induced climate change will cause more and more problems in the developing world yet the people who live there will be unable to deal with it. Population-panickers have long taken the approach of assuming that while population rises rapidly, development crawls along, so that the ability to provide the growing population with the things it needs (food, water, shelter, healthcare etc) rises much more slowly. This simplistic scare scenario allows them to come up with all sorts of horror stores about starvation, destitution, war and so on. Now, some around the IPCC claim that while economic growth will cause deadly variations in weather, it apparently will not improve societies' ability to deal with change in any meaningful way. Again we have a scary variable (climate) and an inexplicable constant (our inability to come up with solutions); and again this is used to warn of terrible events in the future.

To illustrate how even quite small material differences can be more important than physical conditions, Kellow tells me about research led by Paul Reiter, a tropical disease expert currently working at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Reiter's team compared rates of dengue infection in two towns, Laredo in Texas and Nuevo Laredo in Mexico, which are separated by a river that marks the US-Mexico border. Climate and the presence of mosquitoes were very similar in both towns, yet rates of dengue in the Mexican town were higher. The differences were caused by different levels of adaptation to heat in the two towns. In the American town, air conditioning was more common and flyscreens were in better repair. Consequently, inhabitants of Laredo, Texas, were more likely to seek cooler conditions indoors and thus avoid exposure to mosquitoes that might carry disease.

Even though he has participated in the IPCC process (he was a referee for Chapter 19 in the IPCC's report, which covers `Key Vulnerabilities and Risk Assessment'), Kellow is exasperated by the way in which critical responses to chapters are dealt with. He has noted elsewhere the criticisms he made to the IPCC about the way in which negative effects are overstated and the ability to adapt is understated. Yet he says: `I'm not holding my breath for this criticism to be taken on board, which underscores a fault in the whole peer review process for the IPCC: there is no chance of a chapter [of the IPCC report] ever being rejected for publication, no matter how flawed it might be.'

Now, even though Kellow has expressed public disagreement with the summary for policymakers, and the chapters that it flows from, he will still be listed as having taken part in the process - with the implication that he agrees with the final reports and is one of those thousands of experts who have apparently shown beyond all doubt that climate change will wreak havoc on the world.

For Kellow, the IPCC process is hopelessly politicised. `The scientists are in there but it is, after all, called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The scientists are there at the nomination of governments. Governments fund the exercise and sign-off on it ultimately', he tells me. Kellow sees more mileage in the Asia-Pacific Partnership or AP6 (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States), which takes the approach of developing new technologies rather than adopting the Kyoto approach of emissions reductions.

He says: `The emphasis on CO2 suits largely post-1990 decarbonised European economies worried about justifying high levels of taxation, energy security policies and so on. It doesn't suit those with ample coal supplies at a quarter of the cost of producing coal in Europe - which includes India and China. There's a very European slant to Kyoto.'

There's a knock on his hotel door. His room service has arrived. The `window of opportunity' for our interview has closed. While wishing Kellow `bon appetit' I wonder how much longer the window of opportunity will remain open for a critical approach to the IPCC and its alarmist interpretation of climate change.



The April 21, 2007 issue of "The Economist" had an interesting article entitled "Dengue Fever: A deadly scourge"

The article starts with "Millions at risk as a new outbreak of dengue fever sweeps Latin America" "There is no vaccine. There is also no good way to treat it""just fluids and the hope that the fever will break. At first it seems like a case of severe flu, but then the fever rises, accompanied by headaches, excruciating joint pain, nausea and rashes. In its most serious form, known as dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF), it involves internal and external bleeding and can result in death.

Fuelled by climate change, dengue fever is on the rise again throughout the developing world, particularly in Latin America. Mexico identified 27,000 cases of dengue fever last year, more than four times the number in 2001. In El Salvador, whose population is not much more than 6% of Mexico's, the number soared to 22,000 last year, a 20-fold increase on five years earlier. Uruguay recently reported its first case in 90 years. In Brazil, 135,000 cases were diagnosed in the first three months of this year, a rise of about a third over the same period last year. Paraguay, the country worst affected in relation to population size, has reported more than 25,000 cases so far this year, six times the total for the whole of last year""and even this is probably an underestimate."

However, buried in this text is the remarkable claim that this disease is "Fuelled by climate change, dengue fever is on the rise again throughout the developing world, particularly in Latin America."

What is the scientific evidence for this statement that the dengue fever is "fuelled by climate change"? I value reading the Economist but the insertion of such scientifically unsubstantiated claims detracts significantly from the journalistic integrity and accuracy of this magazine. It makes one wonder if other science articles in the Economist, in areas outside of my expertise, are similarly biased.



(An "own goal" in football means to defeat your own team)

Dubai's position as a global aviation hub could be enhanced if the European Union introduces a carbon-trading scheme for aircraft, the head of the US civil aviation regulator said on Thursday. Marion Blakey, admininistrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, said more aircraft could begin using the airport as a hub to avoid the extra cost of the scheme. "Dubai might benefit from the (carbon-trading) policy ...

Air traffic could be diverted to it," she told reporters after meeting aviation officials in Dubai, a member of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Dubai has the busiest airport in the Middle East, handling almost 29 million passengers last year. The European Commission has proposed including airlines in an emissions trading system, which currently only applies to power generators and energy-intensive industries. The plan would see airlines landing and taking off in the EU participate in the scheme. The emissions trading system puts a limit on the amount of carbon dioxide that energy-intensive companies can emit. If a company overshoots its target, it must buy permits from companies that have undershot their pollution targets.

Dubai airport forecasts that it will handle 33 million passengers this year, rising to 70 million by 2008 through terminal expansion projects. The facility handled a total of 237,258 flights in 2006, according to its website. It is connected to more than 194 destinations through a network of 113 international airlines. Another Dubai airport, which aims to be the world's largest and to handle 120 million passengers a year, is now under construction.



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

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

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


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