Tracking the politics of fear....  

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30 September, 2005


The Leftist elite don't have to follow the same rules as the rest of us contemptible rabble, of course

On Friday, after giving a stirring speech about global warming, saving the planet, bad George Bush, Katrina, etc., the former Vice President, who was subjected to massive FReeper verbal abuse in 2000 with "GET OUT OF CHENEY'S HOUSE", actually walked out of the Moscone Center, looked at the display of hybrid vehicles, and got into a Cadillac Escalade.

There was some question as to whether Gore had control of the vehicle chosen or whether it might have been a Secret Service requirement for his protection at a crowded event. I made calls today and left messages at the field offices in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. I don't know which office returned the call, but I got the answer.

The agent told me that Al Gore is a private citizen. He would have had Secret Service protection for no longer than six months after his time as VP.

DemocRATS sometimes make it so easy to mock them. Gore is the featured speaking at a major Sierra Club event in a major green left wing city. He arrives at the event and leaves the event in one of the biggest vehicles on the planet. Just amazing.

For good measure, Arianna Huffington departed in a gas guzzling Chevy Suburban after her speech on Sunday.



There is a peer-reviewed paper just out which assembles lots of evidence to show that the sun is NOT just a ball of hydrogen steadily converting itself into helium, as are usually told. So if we have got wrong how the sun works, how can we be sure exactly what impact it has on the earth's climate? As one of the authors of the new paper (nuclear chemist Oliver Manuel) emails:

"Trying to grasp the cause of incremental changes in global warming is like trying to grasp the influence of a flea on the weight of its host without knowing anything about the host. NASA has obstinately insisted that our global heat source is a ball of hydrogen, despite 35 years of evidence that the Sun sorts atoms by mass and moves light ones like hydrogen to its surface. The Apollo 11 lunar samples revealed compelling evidence that elements in the solar wind had been sorted by mass, but NASA took a combative approach to this and denied funding, lunar samples, and access for oral presentation of such findings to annual Lunar Science Conferences for the past decades. A new paper summarizing evidence for solar mass separation and an iron-rich Sun passed peer review and is now scheduled for publication in Proceedings 1st Crisis in Cosmology Conference".


The Government gave its clearest signal yet that it is considering expanding nuclear power in Britain. Tony Blair made it clear that "all options" would be considered to tackle climate change, including building a new generation of nuclear power stations. The Government is to hold a full review of nuclear power and renewable energy sources - including clean coal - next year. Malcolm Wicks, the Energy minister, said yesterday that it would be "more difficult" for Britain to meet its targets on cutting carbon emissions without nuclear power.

Speaking at a fringe meeting organised by the nuclear industry, Mr Wicks said the government was "keeping options open" about expanding the nuclear industry as a way of reducing global warming. "I think, in principle, we can meet our climate change targets without going down the nuclear route but it would be more difficult," Mr Wicks said. "I think it would help us tackle our challenge of climate change, all things being equal. But there is no silver bullet." Mr Wicks is to lead the review into energy sources that will examine the cost of nuclear power and the role it can play in securing future energy supplies and tackling climate change.

Mr Blair has put his personal authority behind a fresh look at nuclear power as a way to cut carbon emissions. He also indicated it could help guarantee the security of future energy supplies in Britain, reducing reliance on oil and gas piped in from abroad.

His speech drew a furious reaction from green campaigners who said the Government would be foolhardy to presume nuclear power was the answer to reducing carbon emissions. "There are far better solutions to our climate change problems than nuclear power that are cheaper, more sustainable and less dangerous," said Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth.

The Prime Minister is understood to want to resolve the issue of whether to build more nuclear power stations before he leaves office. Many of the unions are believed to be on board and, yesterday, Jack Dromey, the deputy general secretary of the T&G, indicated he favoured a fresh look at nuclear power to tackle climate change. Mr Wicks said the civil nuclear issue would be resolved within three or four years. But he said the Government would not provide direct state subsidy to the nuclear industry to renew its ageing stock of nuclear power stations.

The nuclear issue has divided the Government, with Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary, expressing concern that the question of how to deal with tons of nuclear waste has yet to be resolved. Others have raised fears that expanding nuclear energy could encourage nuclear proliferation worldwide and make it more difficult to criticise nuclear expansion in countries such as Iran. Mr Blair has ordered his strategy unit to examine whether nuclear could be an answer to tackling global warming and is said personally to favour pursuing the technology.



Simplistic science is behind the idea put forward by Tim Flannery and others that man is causing global warming, writes William Kininmonth. Kininmonth, a meteorologist with more than 40 years' experience, headed the National Climate Centre for 12 years. His book, "Climate Change: A Natural Hazard", was published last year.

"The spectre of climate change is certainly with us. In addition to local fluctuations of rainfall patterns that extend from years to decades, there is clear evidence that global temperature has been rising and mountain glaciers and polar ice caps have been diminishing for nearly two centuries. The El Nino event of 1997-98 affected many millions, yet historical records show that, as early as 1877, droughts and famine related to an El Nino event were responsible for more than 9million deaths in northern China and more than 8million in India.

The problem is to identify the cause of recent climate change and to project with confidence its future course. A range of natural factors affect the Earth's climate, including the changing orbits of the planets around the sun, fluctuations in the sun's intensity and volcanic activity. The oceans and atmosphere are fluids in motion and have their own internal variability; the interact and, in combination, transport enormous quantities of energy from the tropics to the poles.

In his new book, "The Weather Makers", Tim Flannery embraces the hypothesis that human activity is causing dangerous climate change. He calls for urgent action to remove carbon from the energy sector, yet the nexus between atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate change is not as strong as he would have us believe. The science linking human activities to climate change is simplistic and his arguments are assisted by the fact we are in a period of apparent warming. We are in a relatively warm part of the Ice Age cycle that has lasted more than 8000 years, but temperatures have been higher during this period.

The evidence that the climate system may pass some imagined critical point that leads to runaway global warming is not convincing. The focus on carbon dioxide as a driver of climate change overlooks the importance of water vapour as a greenhouse gas and the hydrological cycle's role in regulating the temperatures of our climate system. Water vapour is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and the formation and dissipation of clouds has a bigger impact on the climate. The hydrological cycle encompasses the evaporation of surface water, its carriage by the winds, and condensation to form clouds and precipitation. The evaporation of surface water extracts energy and regulates the surface temperature, especially over the warm tropical forests and oceans. Condensation of water vapour during the formation of rain and snow releases energy to the atmosphere.

Climate is a complex system for exchange and transport of energy, to balance the excess solar radiation of the tropics and the deficit over polar regions. Existing computer models are not able to adequately replicate these essential energy processes, raising serious doubt over their ability to predict future climate. Our future is one where we will have to adapt to a naturally changing climate. It is a delusion that dangerous climate events are new and will be averted by reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Australia suffered for nearly a decade as prolonged drought affected eastern parts leading up to and following Federation. The record daytime temperatures in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney occurred during a heatwave in January 1939. Our climate is naturally variable and the extremes have always been dangerous.

Global demand for non-renewable fossil fuels will increase their cost and limit their availability. Public attention to using energy efficiently and evaluating the list of potential non-carbon and renewable energy sources is to be applauded. However, a rush to cut carbon emissions to meet Kyoto targets could distort the energy market and adversely affect economic and social outcomes. As Flannery points out, many developing countries have relatively lax environmental standards. This is good reason not to impose international regulations - such as differentiated responsibilities under Kyoto - that could well shift potentially polluting industries and associated skilled jobs to those countries.



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

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

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


29 September, 2005


The six-year old U.S. outbreak of West Nile virus is a significant threat to public health and shows no signs of abating. Last year, there were more than 2,500 serious cases and 100 deaths. Still early in this year's West Nile virus season (there is a time lag during which animals are infected, mosquitoes convey the virus to humans, and the virus incubates until symptoms occur), the mosquito-borne virus has been found in animal hosts (primarily birds) in 44 states, and has caused almost a thousand serious infections and a score of deaths in humans in 36 states. As of September 6, Louisiana ranked fourth in the nation in human West Nile virus infections; but with most of New Orleans still under water and a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, there are likely to be far more cases.

However, thanks to politically correct but egregiously flawed federal regulatory policy, the tools available to local officials for mosquito control are limited — and largely ineffective. The website of the Centers for Disease Control suggests several measures to avoid West Nile virus infection: "avoid mosquito bites," by wearing clothes that expose little skin, using insect repellent, and staying indoors during peak mosquito hours (dusk to dawn); "mosquito-proof your home," by removing standing water, and installing and maintaining screens; and "help your community," by reporting dead birds.

Conspicuously absent from its list of suggestions is any mention of insecticides or widespread spraying. Anyone curious about the role of pesticides in battling mosquitoes and West Nile is directed to a maze of other Web sites.

More here


Here is a recipe for an explosive news cocktail. Take the president of the world's most powerful nation. Add two intense and damaging natural storms which bring destruction to that country; then mix in the widely held view that the same nation's environmental policies are partially responsible for those storms. In the polarised world of climate change, this cocktail has proved an irresistible temptation to organisations which campaign against President Bush's administration in support of enhanced action to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The latest to succumb was the British newspaper The Independent, which screamed on its front page: "This is global warming", above an alarmingly portentous graphic of Hurricane Rita's projected path.

But is it global warming? What is the evidence that the growing concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are changing weather systems in such a way that hurricanes become more powerful, or more frequent?

Certainly, 2005 appears to have been an unusually active year. The US National Hurricane Center/Tropical Prediction Center comments in its August summary that "thus far in 2005, there have been 12 named storms and four hurricanes. "These numbers are well above the long-term averages of 4.4 storms and 2.1 hurricanes that would normally have formed by this date."

But a single year's observation does not permit the divination of a long-term trend, or the attribution of that trend to a cause such as climatic warming. "Based on recent research, the consensus view is that we don't expect global warming to make a difference to the frequency of hurricanes," explains Julian Heming, from the UK Meteorological Office. "Activity is naturally very variable in terms of frequency, intensity and regional occurrence; in the Atlantic, there are active phases and not so active phases, and currently we're in the middle of an active phase. "It's very dangerous to explain Rita or Katrina through global warming, because we have always had strong hurricanes in the USA - the strongest one on record dates back to 1935."

Records from the 20th Century suggest that hurricane formation over the Atlantic has changed phase every few decades: the 1940s and 50s were active, the 70s and 80s less so, while the currently active phase appears to have commenced in 1995....

Every time a hurricane comes along - or a flood, or a drought, or a freeze, or a heatwave - the question is now asked "is it linked to global warming?" A decade ago, that was not the case - a clear signal that climate change is now firmly established in the public mind and in the political arena.

Now that climate scientists are being taken seriously, they are also under pressure to produce instant answers. One problem is that not all of those answers exist. Another problem is that some scientists - not to mention lobby groups, environmental organisations, politicians, newspapers and commentators - will go much further in their public statements than the data allow.

With such incendiary material, that is unlikely to change; but it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that we would all benefit from people on both wings of the issue looking rather more to research, however laboured its progress, and rather less to screaming headlines and easy quotes.



Summary of a recent academic journal article:

What was done:
The instrumental or thermometer temperature record typically extends back in time no more than a century for most locations on earth, and few are the stations with temperature records extending over two hundred years. In the present study, however, Butler et al. standardized three temperature series from Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland to obtain a nearly continuous record of temperature at this location since 1796.

What was learned:
In this longest temperature series for all of Ireland, the authors detected significant year-to-year fluctuations and decadal-scale variability. On a shorter time scale, wavelet analysis revealed a 7.8-yr cycle that was particularly strong in the winter and spring, which they believe is related to the North Atlantic Oscillation. On longer time scales, multi-decadal oscillations are noted in the many-year warm and cold periods scattered throughout the record, including a relatively cool interval prior to 1820 followed by a warmer period that peaked about 1830 and lasted until nearly 1870. Thereafter, a second cool interval ensued, followed by another warm peak between 1940 and 1960, while yet another cool period held sway from 1960 to 1980. The record then ends with a final warm period over its last decade; but this period is not in any way extraordinary, as the authors say that "in spite of the current warmer conditions, annual mean temperatures still remain within the range seen in the previous two centuries."

What it means:
In contrast to the highly publicized climate-alarmist claim that the past two decades have experienced unprecedented warmth due to CO2-induced global warming, the Armagh record indicates that "we are not yet beyond the range of normal variability," to quote its developers. What is more, Butler et al. note that late 20th-century warmth is typically compared to temperatures characteristic of the beginning of the 20th century, when conditions were noticeably cooler, which comparison, in their words, "exaggerate[s] the subsequent warming in the 20th century." Their proposed solution is to extend the baseline for comparison further back in time. We agree, for the crux of the climate change debate rests on obtaining a much longer perspective from which to view the late 20th century, in order to appreciate the degree of natural climatic variability inherent in earth's climate system; and whenever this is done, it is typically concluded that there is nothing unusual or unprecedented about the world's current level of warmth.

Butler, C.J., Garcia Suarez, A.M., Coughlin, D.S. and Morrell, C. (2005). "Air temperatures at Armagh Observatory, Northern Ireland, from 1796-2002". International Journal of Climatology 25: 1055-1079.

Summary from: CO2 Science Magazine, 28 September 2005. The journal abstract is available here. It is as follows:

Three independent mean temperature series for Armagh Observatory, covering the period 1796-2002 have been calibrated and corrected for the time of reading and exposure. Agreement between the three series is good in regions of overlap. With a short gap in the Armagh data from 1825 to 1833 filled by data from two stations in Dublin, the resulting series is the longest for the island of Ireland and one of the longest for any single site in the British Isles. Over the past 207 years, we note that temperatures in Armagh, in all seasons, show a gradual overall trend upwards. However, there are seasonal differences: summer and spring temperatures have increased by only half as much as those in autumn and winter. This is partly due to the exceptionally cold winters and autumns experienced prior to 1820. Relative to the overall trend, warm periods occurred in Ireland, as in other parts of Europe, in the mid-19th century, in the mid-20th century and at the end of the 20th century. Relatively cool temperatures prevailed in the early 19th century, in the 1880s and in the 1970s. Thus, if the baseline against which current temperatures are compared were moved from the late 19th century to include the earlier warm period, the apparent warming at the end of the late 20th century would be correspondingly reduced. A gradual decline in the daily temperature range at Armagh since 1844 may have resulted from higher minimum temperatures associated with increased cloudiness. A 7.8 year periodicity is identified in winter and spring mean temperatures at Armagh, which is probably a consequence of the North Atlantic oscillation.


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

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

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


28 September, 2005


But I suppose we are still stuck with the stupid 1987 Montreal treaty banning our most effective refrigerant gases despite the fact that the Antarctic ozone "hole" shows no sign of shrinking

Tony Blair has admitted that the fight to prevent global warming by ordering countries to cut greenhouse gases will never be won. The Prime Minister said "no country is going to cut its growth or consumption" despite environmental fears. Mr Blair's comments, which he said were "brutally honest", mark a big environmental U-turn and will dismay Labour activists. They were made earlier this month in New York, at a conference on facing up to "global challenges" organised by Bill Clinton, the former United States president. Mr Blair, who has been seen up to now as a strong supporter of the Kyoto Treaty, effectively tore the document up and admitted that rows over its implementation will "never be resolved."

Mr Blair told the New York conference: "I would say probably I'm changing my thinking about this in the past two or three years. I think if we are going to get action we have got to start from the brutal honesty about the politics of how we deal with it. "The truth is, no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long-term environmental problem. "Some people have signed Kyoto, some people haven't signed Kyoto, right? That is a disagreement. It's there. It's not going to be resolved."

His remarks, unreported at the time but now published in a transcript of the conference, are certain to spark wide-ranging criticism that he is again signing up to the agenda of President George W Bush. Under Mr Bush, the US has consistently refused to sign the Kyoto Treaty.

Mr Blair's comments have emerged as his biographer, Anthony Seldon, branded him a "weak man" who has been unable to stand up to rich and powerful figures such as Mr Bush and Rupert Murdoch.

Mr Blair admitted that there would probably never be a successor treaty to Kyoto, which expires in 2012, and said the "answer" was merely to try to introduce "incentives" for business and large-scale energy users to make cut-backs. He said: "To be honest, I don't think people are going, at least in the short term, to start negotiating another major treaty like Kyoto." One of the problems surrounding the Kyoto Treaty was that the harsh carbon emissions targets did not apply to developing countries such as China and India. Mr Blair said in New York: "China and India... will grow. They are not going to find it satisfactory for us in the developed world to turn around and say, 'Look, we have had our growth. You have now got yours so we want you to do it sustainably even if we haven't'."

More here


Or is it just clever propaganda?

The green revolution is sweeping the heirs to the industrial revolution. At a news conference in Washington today, the chairmen of six major corporations, flanked by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, announced a plan to set public goals and verification standards for companies to reduce their energy and water use, increase recycling and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

The so-called S.E.E. Change initiative (for Society, Environment and Economy) was developed by the Business Roundtable, a collection of U.S. corporations with combined revenue that is equivalent to the fourth-largest economy on earth. The initiative, led by DuPont Chairman Charles Holliday, is at least partly designed to deter more aggressive government regulation, as the U.S. comes under pressure to join other nations in agreements, like the Kyoto treaty, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. "We believe that business is more than just the bottom line, and we actually believe doing the right thing can help our shareholders," said Holliday, who was joined by the chairmen of Dow Chemical, Sun Microsystems, AEP, Xerox and Office Depot, at the news conference.

The diversity of the participants was designed to illustrate the difficulty of devising regulations that would control emissions and energy use across multiple industries. The Bush administration has opposed the Kyoto Protocol, in part because it would force all American companies to reduce emissions while giving their competitors in developing nations, such as China and India, a free pass. "Regulation is impossible to write and even more impossible to enforce," said Sun Chairman Scott McNealy. "It's a fool's errand."

S.E.E. Change will establish voluntary environmental goals and a transparent means for publicly announcing progress toward meeting them. That information will be shared among companies to accelerate the pace of sustainable technologies. The information will also give government officials the statistics needed to negotiate the next round of post-Kyoto treaties, Holliday said. DuPont, for example, has committed to a 30% reduction in water use. "The objective is not a law or regulation, the objective is a result," he said.

The Business Roundtable announcement comes four months after General Electric Chairman Jeffrey Immelt kicked off GE's Ecomagination campaign, also with a Washington press conference. Attendees downplayed the influence that GE's program to reduce emissions and develop energy-efficient technology had on the Business Roundtable, of which GE is a member.

Sun has been working on similar projects for at least five years, McNeely said. "It isn't like all of a sudden Ecomagination got us focused on this," he said. Sun has introduced new microprocessors, for example, that consume just two watts for a task like a Web information search, instead of 70 watts to 90 watts.

The main focus will be on reducing water use, Holliday said, because that is a theme common to every industry. Frist, in his opening remarks, applauded the group for tackling a problem with implications on both a global scale and in the U.S., where victims of Hurricane Katrina were devastated by the lack of drinking water. "Clean water is absolutely essential, and, thus, I appreciate the focus," Frist said.

Industry's attention to so-called "sustainable development" reflects the realization that it can eventually result in higher earnings, said Gwen Ruta, director of corporate partnerships at Environmental Defense, a New York activist group. Environmental Defense is working with FedEx, for example, to introduce a fleet of hybrid delivery trucks that use 50% less fuel and reduce emissions by 90%. "A lot of it is eliminating waste, and waste is not good for the environment or the bottom line," Ruta said. "That's sort of the 'duh' part of the equation."

The more subtle payoff comes from getting less attention from regulators and groups like Environmental Defense, Ruta said. Companies that are perceived as being environmentally friendly may face fewer challenges to expansion or in getting permits for new facilities, she said. "It's hard for companies to expand if they're seen as bad actors," she said.


Baptists, bootleggers and global warming: "George Monbiot expresses surprise and delight that big corporations would request regulation (Comment, September 20) . Monbiot has obviously not read enough in the field of regulatory economics, else he would have come across Professor Bruce Yandle's theory of 'bootleggers and Baptists'. As Professor Yandle pointed out in 1983, Baptists support the banning of alcohol sales for moral reasons; bootleggers support alcohol bans for very different reasons, and are therefore likely to back the Baptists in their efforts. To Monbiot, the ultimate Baptist, a regulation banning alcohol sales would be 'making a market' for the bootleggers. The public has fended off this alliance in the alcohol market to its benefit. It should come as no surprise that the government is defending the public from this unholy alliance in the environmental field also."


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

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

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


27 September, 2005


Tony Blair has hinted Britain may pull out of attempts to draw up a successor to the Kyoto climate treaty because the economic price of cutting greenhouse gas emissions is too high. The prime minister told an international meeting in New York he was “changing (his) thinking about this”. “We have got to start from the brutal honesty about the politics of how we deal with it,” he said. “The truth is no country is going to cut its growth or consumption substantially in the light of a long-term environmental problem. To be honest, I don’t think people are going, at least in the short term, to start negotiating another major treaty like Kyoto.”

Blair’s words will undermine the efforts of Margaret Beckett, his environment secretary, who is drawing up plans for just such a new treaty. She is due to fly to Montreal in November to begin talks on the treaty, to take effect when the Kyoto accord ends in 2012. The prime minister’s comments were made on September 15 at the Clinton Global Initiative, hosted by the former American president at the Sheraton New York hotel. The event was attended by Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, and King Abdullah of Jordan, in addition to Blair. In his comments, Blair suggested he no longer had faith in global agreements as a way of reversing rising greenhouse gas emissions. Instead he appeared to place his faith in science, technology and the free market — a position that President George W Bush adopted when he repudiated the Kyoto treaty in 2001.

“How do we move forward and ensure that, post-Kyoto, we do try to get agreement?” Blair said. “I think that can only be done by the major players in this coming together and finding a way for pooling their resources, their information, their science and technology. “The real issue is how do we put these incentives in the system so that the private sector, as well as the public sector, says let’s start getting behind this?” Blair’s suggestion that the answer to climate change lies in the free market has alarmed environmentalists. They were already fearful that the issue was slipping off the agenda of world leaders after this summer’s G8 summit in Scotland.

More here


Too bad about that fish 'n chips you used to buy at the fish shop

Fish oils are the latest nutritional buzz. Although mothers have for decades been coaxing reluctant children to swallow a daily dose of cod-liver oil, knowing that “fish is good for the brain”, the business has exploded in recent months. In fact, such is our obsession with fish-oil supplements in various forms that we now spend more than £96m a year on them in the UK alone.

Their benefits have been well publicised. Omega-3 fats from oily fish, for example, can help to keep blood flowing smoothly, which lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. Studies have shown that omega-3s may also help to treat dyslexia and hyperactivity in youngsters. The fats are known to build the foundations of good eyesight and hearing in the unborn and nursing baby. This means that they are, indeed, good for the brain, and a crucial part of the diets of children as well as pregnant and breast-feeding women. Omega-3s also play an anti-inflammatory role in the body and can help to alleviate symptoms of conditions ranging from psoriasis to rheumatoid arthritis. What’s more, they are vital for smooth, well-hydrated skin.

Taking a supplement is one means of meeting your daily omega-3 needs, but the time-honoured way of getting the daily quota, preferred by dieticians, is to eat seafood — one of the best sources. The advice always used to be to tuck into oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines and anchovies as often as you fancied. But times have changed. Pollution of our waterways, lakes, rivers and oceans is now so commonplace that such a general recommendation needs refining. The flesh of oily fish absorbs pollutants known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), consumption of which has been linked to the disruption of vital hormones in our bodies and may trigger cancerous changes to cells.

The best way to ensure that you limit your intake of PCBs from oily fish is to choose wild varieties over the farmed versions. The reason for this is that wild fish feed in the oceans, and so their flesh tends to be lower in PCBs than that of farmed fish, such as salmon, which are fed ground fishmeal. Surprisingly, splashing out extra cash on organic farmed fish is no guarantee that you will consume lower levels of these pollutants. What the organic label on farmed salmon does guarantee, however, is that the traditional pink colour of the flesh is achieved naturally rather than by artificial colourings.

Ocean-living oily fish are generally lower in PCBs than those caught in lakes, rivers and streams. The exception is fish from the Baltic, one of the most polluted seas in the world. The only way of knowing where a particular fish has come from is to choose those that carry a label stating their origin, such as Scottish wild salmon or Atlantic sardines. Whichever type of oily fish you end up with in the kitchen, wherever it comes from and however it is reared, trimming off and discarding any visible fatty parts of the fish helps to reduce PCB levels. So, too, does steaming, baking and grilling, during which oils run off the fish, rather than frying, during which they are retained.

To keep PCB intake at a safe level, women of child-bearing age and children are advised to have no more than two servings of oily fish a week. Men can get away with up to four servings. There are no such guidelines for white fish, however. Non-oily, ocean-dwelling fish, such as cod and haddock, have lean flesh, which does not retain PCBs. They also store fat in their livers, which means that PCB levels in the flesh we eat is kept to a minimum. The same is true of shellfish. These provide smaller, though still useful amounts of omega-3 oils, but they have the advantage of being a great source of protein, of energy-giving B vitamins, and of iodine, a mineral that helps to fine-tune our metabolism.

Unfortunately, eating non-oily fish (or, indeed, other, larger fish) won’t keep you safe from another pollutant — methylmercury. This organic mercury compound is highly poisonous to the nervous system and, if allowed to accumulate in the body, can trigger poor concentration, disturbances in vision, tremors, numbness and tingling. It is especially toxic to unborn babies because it can cause serious damage to their developing brains and spinal cords. Methylmercury accumulates in fish, so the bigger and older the fish, the more of the compound might be contained in its flesh. Levels in some fish, such as marlin, swordfish and shark, are high enough to merit a government health warning.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) advises pre-menopausal women against eating any form of big fish such as marlin, swordfish and shark. A particular type of large tuna called albacore, which has a white flesh, has similarly high levels, whether eaten fresh or canned, and should also be avoided. However, most of the tuna consumed in the UK has brown flesh and tends to be the skipjack or yellowfin varieties. While you may be tempted to shop for fresh tuna because of its higher omega-3 content, it is higher in methylmercury than the canned version. Because of this, women of child-bearing age and children are advised to stick to a maximum of two servings of fresh tuna a week, but can safely have up to four 170g cans of skipjack or yellowfin. There are no such limits for men.

So what should you shop for? The advice from the FSA is: “Do not rely on fish from one source.” What this means is that you should vary not just the type of fish you eat, but also where it comes from. Follow these guidelines to find out how you can have your fish cakes and eat them.

More -- much more here


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

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

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


26 September, 2005


"Decarbonising the UK", published this week by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, argues that if air travel continues to expand at its current rate, there is no chance the UK government will meet its target of cutting carbon emissions by 60 per cent before 2050 - unless, that is, all other sectors stop emitting carbon altogether. The report cites government figures which suggest that passenger numbers will rise from 180million to 475million over the next 25 years.

But why should we accept that air travel is the problem, and that it needs to be curtailed? It's more realistic to say that unrealistic carbon emissions targets are the issue here. And why should we cancel our holidays just so the government can be seen to be doing its bit for the environment by achieving questionable targets?

According to Dr Kevin Anderson, who led the research at the Tyndall Centre at Manchester University: 'If the government does not curb aviation growth, all other sectors of the economy will eventually be forced to become carbon neutral. It will undermine the international competitiveness of UK industry.' Anderson suggests that in order to keep emissions under control, passenger numbers can only rise as quickly as fuel efficiency rises. And as fuel efficiency has only been improving by 1.5 per cent per year, passenger growth would be minimal indeed. In July, Anderson told the Guardian: 'We're not saying don't fly; we're saying that we cannot fly very much more than we do now.' So either flights need to be made more expensive, or plans for new airports and runways and cheaper holidays must be curtailed.

Mayer Hillman, author of How We Can Save Our Planet, is much more blunt. Writing in the Independent this week, he condemned our increasingly energy-profligate lifestyles, with a particular focus on air travel. 'An increasing majority of the population is inadvertently complicit in a process that is already reducing the quality of life of literally billions of people, and which will almost certainly cause the deaths of millions in the near and longer-term future', Hillman wrote. He also argued that carbon use per capita must be reduced by 85 per cent by 2030. One return flight to New York from London represents about three years worth of carbon 'allowance'. So you can forget going on holiday once - or heaven forbid, twice - a year. Hillman also said that the time for 'awareness raising' on green matters is over: now, 'only urgent and ruthless government action will do'.

It is right to question whether there will be substantial change in climate as a result of carbon emissions. But even if we accept that as a possibility, the dramatic cuts in consumption proposed by Hillman and others should at least beg a further question: wouldn't our time be better spent finding ways to manage climate change, rather than trying to curb emissions dramatically and make people's lives more boring in the process? By promoting economic growth rather than trying to curtail it, the likely effect of cutting carbon emissions, wouldn't we be in a better position to cope with the consequences of climate change?

Environmentalists have been pointing the finger at 'cheap air travel' for some time now, arguing that cut-price flights encourage more and more of us to holiday abroad and unthinkingly cause pollution as we go. Guardian columnist George Monbiot has even said that 'flying across the Atlantic is now as unacceptable as child abuse'. Behind the smug denunciations of cheap air travel and package holidays, there lurks not only a lack of imagination for dealing with pollution issues, but also a thinly veiled contempt for the masses. This was brought home to me during a wedding reception in New Zealand a couple of years ago. The groom was a youngish, up-and-coming member of the Liberal Democrats in Scotland and there was a fair sprinkling of party colleagues at the event. Guests were soon discussing the long journey from the UK, but it didn't take long for it to turn into a debate about the 'problem' of air travel.

The real problem, I was told, were all these people now making short trips to Europe by air, particularly to those sun, sex and booze resorts. Guests complained that it has become far too easy for individuals to hop on to a plane. The hypocrisy of this position being advanced by people who had made a 25,000-mile round-trip for a wedding was not at all self-evident to them. They had clearly decided that they were responsible travellers and not debauched 'holidaymakers'.

The advent of cheap air travel has provided a vast majority of Britons with the opportunity to explore new horizons. They no longer have to accept over-priced holidays and miserable weather in the UK, when they can get two weeks in the sun for cheaper. And why spend that stag night in the Red Lion when you can spend it in Amsterdam or Reykjavik?

Underpinning the debate about air travel is the idea that people, and what people do, are a problem - and that we must reduce our 'ecological footprint' by reducing the number of individual footprints. What killjoys. We should celebrate the capacity to be liberated from our everyday lives as often as possible. In response to the miserable puritan morality of sustainability and reduced consumption, we need a bit more 'blue-sky' thinking.



Research summary:

What was done:
Historians typically point to political, economic, cultural and ethnic unrest as the chief causes of war and civil strife. In the present study, Zhang et al. argue that changes in climate play a key role as well; and to examine their thesis, they compared proxy climate records with historical data on wars, social unrest and dynastic transitions in China from the late Tang to Qing Dynasties (mid-9th century to early 20th century).

What was learned:
War frequencies, peak war clusters, nationwide periods of social unrest and dynastic transitions were all significantly associated with cold as opposed to warm phases of China's paleotemperature reconstructions. More specifically, all three distinctive peak war clusters (defined as more than 50 wars in a 10-year time period) occurred during cold phases, as did all seven periods of nationwide social unrest and nearly 90 percent of all dynastic changes that decimated this largely agrarian society. As a result, the authors conclude that climate change was "one of the most important factors in determining the dynastic cycle and alternation of war and peace in ancient China."

What it means:
Historically, warmer climates have been much more effective than cooler climates in terms of helping to "keep the peace" in China. Based on this model, perhaps we should all pray for a little global warming to give peace a better chance worldwide.

Zhang, D., Jim, C., Lin, C., He, Y. and Lee, F. 2005. Climate change, social unrest and dynastic transition in ancient China. Chinese Science Bulletin 50: 137-144.


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

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

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


25 September, 2005


Perhaps it's natural to blame humans for natural disasters: the president's out of touch; the emergency services are unco-ordinated; it's all a racist plot. The people who do this are either out of touch themselves - they've never co-ordinated more than a Sunday picnic or, more sadly, are victims of the disaster and are going through the first stages of grief. Katrina didn't expose gaping holes in modern American society; it exposed weaknesses inherent in all today's globalising cities when faced with the forces of nature, chaos, call them what you will.

Put simply, any human society is a house of cards. The more complex that society is - numbers of people, communication links, socio-economic levels, trade networks, income sources, resource needs, etc - the higher the house, and the more cards that can collapse. Looked at in this way, modern societies are not more robust and strong than less developed, simpler communities, but in fact are more vulnerable, requiring far more care and attention.

Historically, large, complex civilisations have existed for a fraction of the time of simpler agricultural communities, and there is a reason: not, as we arrogantly assume, that they were less technologically advanced, clever and networked than us, but precisely because they were so advanced and complex, and hence a bitch to manage. The taller the house of cards, the further there is to fall. New Orleans is a perfect example, and hence a timely warning for the future as the global population expands, its climate changes, and its cities become more mega. Witness the fall. It took about 72 hours for a reasonably functional, high-tech, well-educated, urbane, globalised, wired and well-resourced population in the world's richest nation to unravel and start behaving like a roving primate troop.

This is not to criticise the people of New Orleans as individuals, it is to highlight how dependent we all are on social organisation and institutions. The people who remained in the city were removed from modern society and dumped in the wet maw of nature - a bit like Survivor, and the results were far more of a reality check than Channel Nine. It is probably better if New Orleans again becomes a small Mississippi port, and is allowed gradually to become part of the Gulf of Mexico."

It's clear to everyone that the death toll and damage caused by Katrina or any of the other recent major natural disasters has been far greater than any of the terrorist attacks for which we have so obsessively prepared, and a lot of that human suffering has occurred in the breakdown of social organisation that follows. If our governments really want to protect their citizens, rather than just play geopolitical chess with religious militias, they would do well to "be alert to the clear danger of Katrina et al", and "boost our homeland security", because it's "not a matter of if but when".....

We live in a giant, precarious and precious house of cards. How much of it blows down, and how soon, will depend on the strength of its bonds: not the concrete ones, but the compassionate, civil and cerebral ones.

More here

Recycling: What a Waste!

The fact that communities have to PAY companies to do recycling shows that it is a waste of resources

This Fall, school kids across the country will again be taught a chief doctrine in the civic religion: recycle, not only because you fear the police but also because you love the planet. They come home well prepared to be the enforcers of the creed against parents who might inadvertently let a foil ball into the glass bin or overlook a plastic wrapper in the aluminum bin. Oh, I used to believe in recycling, and I still believe in the other two Rs: reducing and reusing. But recycling? It's a waste of time, money, and ever scarce resources. What John Tierney wrote in the New York Times nearly 10 years ago is still true: "Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America."

Reduce and reuse makes sense. With no investment in resources I can place the plastic grocery bag in the bathroom garbage can and save a penny or so for some more pressing need. Reducing and reusing are free market activities that are an absolute profitable investment of time and labor.

Any astute entrepreneur will see the benefit of conserving factors of production. Houses are built today with much, much less wood than homes built just 20 years ago; and they are built sturdier, for the most part anyway. The decision to reduce wood in houses was not prompted by a green's love for trees; it was a reaction to the increasing cost for wood products. Using less wood makes financial sense and any entrepreneur worth his profit will change his recipe to conserve wood through better design or by substituting less dear materials for wood products.

A recent Mises article, Ethanol and the Calculation Issue, discussed the inability to calculate the true cost of producing Ethanol. No one can calculate the cost of all the factors of production in the direction from the highest order labor and land down to the lowest order. Ethanol at the pump, though the Chicago School, Keynesians, etc., would certainly give the calculation the old college try. Absent government supports, the cost of Ethanol at the pump reveals the true economic cost of producing that fuel.

The same applies to recycling. What is the true cost of all factors involved in the recycling activity? I haven't a clue. Though using Misesian logic I know that the costs of recycling exceed the benefits. This is the simple result of the observation that recycling doesn't return a financial profit.

I used to recycle. It paid. As a child living in the Pittsburgh area, I would clean used glass containers. After collecting a sufficient amount of glass, my father would drive the three or so miles to the local glass factory where the owner gladly exchanged cleaned waste glass for dollars. It this instance I was an entrepreneur investing factors of production in order to turn dirty waste glass into capital. The value of the exchange exceeded my preference for time, elbow grease, and my parents' soap, water, and auto fuel. (Of course all of my exchanges against my parents' resources were high on my preference list, but that's another issue altogether).

What's wrong with recycling? The answer is simple; it doesn't pay. And since it doesn't pay it is an inefficient use of the time, money, and scarce resources. That's right, as Mises would have argued: let prices be your guide. Prices are essential to evaluate actions ex post. If the accounting of a near past event reveals a financial loss, the activity was a waste of both the entrepreneur's and society's scarce resources.

I'm supposed to believe that I need to invest resources into cleaning and sorting all sorts of recyclable materials for no compensation. And this is considered economically efficient? In some local communities--many thousands of which have recycling progreams--residents have to pay extra so that a company will recycle their paper, plastic, and glass. The recycling bins come with a per-month fee.

In other areas, such as my township, the garbage company profits at the mercy of the political class. The trustees in my township specified that in order to win the waste removal contract, the winning company has to provide recycling bins. Further, they have to send a special truck around to empty those neatly packed bins and deliver them to companies that have no pressing need for these unraw materials. The recycling bins are ostensibly free, but in reality their cost is bundled into my monthly waste removal bill.

Since there is no market for recyclable materials, at least no market sufficient to at least return my investment in soap and water, not to mention time and labor, I conclude that there is no pressing need for recycling. If landfills were truly in short supply then the cost of dumping waste would quickly rise. I would then see the financial benefit to reducing my waste volume, and since the recycling bin does not count toward waste volume, the more in the recycling bin, the less in the increasingly expensive garbage cans. Prices drive entrepreneurial calculations and, hence, human action. Recycling is no different. Come on now, there can't be any benefit to even the neoclassical society if you actually have to pay someone to remove recyclables.

That recycling doesn't pay signifies that resources devoted to recycling activities would be better utilized in other modes of production. Instead of wasting resources on recycling, it would be more prudent to invest that money so that new recipes could be created to better conserve scarce materials in the production process.....

Who reaps the real psychic reward from recycling? The statist do-gooder and the obsessed conservationist. Since recycling is now a statist goal, the do-gooders and greens force the cost of recycling on the unsuspecting masses by selling recycling as a pseudo-spiritual activity. In addition to these beneficiaries, there are those who have not considered the full costs of recycling, but their psychic benefit is more ephemeral than real. The other winners are the companies that do the collecting and process the materials, an industry that is sustained by mandates at the local level.

If recycling at a financial loss leads you to greater psychic profit, then recycle, recycle, recycle. Let your personal preferences guide your actions, but don't force your preference schedule on others who have a different preference rank for their own actions. And, do not delude yourself into thinking that you are economizing anything; you are simply increasing your psychic profit at the expense of a more rational investment....

More here


Following are some excerpts from a still very relevant article in the 1996 New York Times. Nothing seems to have been learned in the years since 1996

Recycling does sometimes makes sense-for some materials in some places at some times. But the simplest and cheapest option is usually to bury garbage in an environrnentally safe landfill. And since there's no shortage of landfill space (the crisis of 1987 was a false alarm), there's no reason to make recycling a legal or moral imperative. Mandatory recycling programs aren't good for posterity. They offer mainly short-term benefits to a few groups-politicians, public relations consultants, environmental organizations, waste-handling corporations-while diverting money from genuine social and environmental problems. Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America: a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources.....

The costs of natural resources, both renewable and nonrenewable, have been declining for thousands of years. They've become less scarce over time because humans have continually found new supplies or devised new technologies. Fifty years ago, for instance, tin and copper were said to be in danger of depletion, and conservationists urged mandatory recycling and rationing of these vital metals so that future generations wouldn't be deprived of food containers and telephone wires. But today tin and copper are cheaper than ever. Most food containers don't use any tin. Phone calls travel through fiber-optic cables of glass, which is made from sand-and should the world ever run out of sand, we could dispense with wires together by using cellular phones.

The only resource that has been getting consistently more expensive is human time: the cost of labor has been rising for centuries. An hour of labor today buys a larger quantity of energy or raw materials than ever before. To economists, it's wasteful to expend human labor to save raw materials that are cheap today and will probably be cheaper tomorrow. Even the Worldwatch Institute, an environmental group that strongly favors recycling and has often issued warnings about the earth's dwindling resources, has been persuaded that there are no foreseeable shortages of most minerals. "In retrospect," a Worldwatch report notes, "the question of scarcity may never have been the most important one."

Every time a sanitation department crew picks up a load of bottles and cans from the curb, New York City loses money. The recycling program consumes resources. It requires extra administrators and a continual public relations campaign explaining what to do with dozens of different products- recycle milk jugs but not milk cartons, index cards but not construction paper. (Most New Yorkers still don't know the rules.) It requires enforcement agents to inspect garbage and issue tickets. Most of all, it requires extra collection crews and trucks. Collecting a ton of recyclable items is three times more expensive than collecting a ton of garbage because the crews pick up less material at each stop. For every ton of glass, plastic and metal that the truck delivers to a private recycler, the city currently spends $200 more than it would spend to bury the material in a landfill. City officials hoped to recover this extra cost by selling the material but the market price of a ton has never been anywhere near $200. In fact, it has rarely risen as high as zero. Private recyclers usually demand a fee because their processing costs exceed the eventual sales price of the recycled materials. So the city, having already lost $200 collecting the ton of material typically has to pay another $40 to get rid of it.

The recycling program has been costing $50 million to $100 million annually, and that's just the money coming directly out of the municipal budget. There's also the labor involved. the garbage-sorting that millions of New Yorkers do at home every week....

Officials in some cities claim that curbside recycling programs are cheaper than burying the garbage in a landfill, which can be true in places where the landfill fees are high and the collection costs aren't as exorbitant as in New York. But officials who claim that recycling programs save money often don't fully account for the costs. "A lot of programs, especially in the early years, have used funny money economics to justify recycling," says Chaz Miller, a contributing editor for Recycling Times, a trade newspaper. "There's been a messianic zeal that's hurt the cause. The American public loves recycling, but we have to do it efficiently. It should be a business, not a religion."

Recycling programs didn't fare well in a Federally financed study conducted by the Solid Waste Association of North America, a trade association for municipal waste-management officials. The study painstakingly analyzed costs in six communities (Minneapolis; Palm Beach Fla.; Seattle; Scottsdale, Ariz; Sevierville, Tenn., and Springfield, Mass.). It found that all but one of the curbside recycling programs, and all the composting operations and waste-to-energy incinerators, increased the cost of waste disposal. (The exception was Seattle's curbside program, which was slightly cheaper-by one tenth of 1 percent-than putting the garbage in a landfill.) Studies in European cities have reached similar conclusions. Recycling has been notoriously unprofitable in Germany, whose national program is even less efficient than New York's. "We have to recognize that recycling costs money," says William Franklin, an engineer who has conducted a national study of recycling costs for the not-for-profit group Keep America Beautiful He estimates that, at today's prices, a curbside recycling program typically adds 15 percent to the costs of waste disposal-and more if communities get too ambitious.

Recycling newsprint actually creates more water pollution than making new paper: for each ton of recycled newsprint that's produced, an extra 5,000 gallons of waste water are discharged. Cost-benefit analyses for individual products become so confusing that even ardent environmentalists give up. After years of studies and debates about the environmental merits of cloth versus disposable diapers, some environmental organizations finally decided they couldn't decide; parents were advised to choose whichever they wanted This sensible advice ought to be extended to other products. It would not only make life simpler for everyone, but would probably benefit the environment. When consumers follow their preferences, they are guided by the simplest, and often the best, measure of a product's environmental impact: its price.

The Tragedy of the Dump is a simple problem better resolved with the first approach: private responsibility. Your trash is already your private property. You should be responsible for getting rid of it. You should have to pay to get rid of it- and you should pay whatever price it takes to insure that your garbage doesn't cause environmental problems for anyone else. Paying for residential garbage collection sounds like a radical idea in New York and other cities where these costs are hidden in property taxes, but it's already being done in thousands of communities, including cities like Minneapolis, San Francisco and Seattle. It's also standard practice for commercial establishments in New York and elsewhere. Some cities charge according to volume-the number of bags or cans that you fill - and some have begun experimenting with charging by the pound.

Once people switch to this pay-as-you-throw system, they throw away less-typically at least 10 to 15 percent less. Some shop differently, some take their names off junk-mail lists; some recycle. Instead of following (or ignoring) arcane rules and targets set by politicians, they're personally motivated to figure out what's worth paying to discard and what's worth diverting to a recycling bin. Those who want to recycle for spiritual reasons can do so; others can recycle whatever makes economic sense to them. If the pay-as-you-throw system became common everywhere, there would be no need for recycling laws and goals and moral exhortations. "In a purely market-driven situation, people would still recycle according to what makes sense in their area," says Lynn Scarlett, the vice president of research at the Reason Foundation, which has studied pay-as-you-throw systems. "In most places it would pay to recycle aluminum cans, corrugated cardboard and office paper. A lot of newspapers and some clear glass would be recycled.

By turning garbage into a political issue, environmentalists have created jobs for themselves as lawyers, lobbyists, researchers, educators and moral guardians. Environmentalists may genuinely believe they're helping the earth, but they have been hurting the common good while profiting personally, just like the village's herdsmen. This is the real Tragedy of the Dump: the waste of public funds on recycling programs, the needless public alarm about landfills. Fortunately, though, not every community has been afflicted. For those seeking the truth about garbage, there's a mountain 300 miles south of New York that's worth a pilgrimage.

Ten years ago, Charles City County had much in common with New York today. It had no money to fix its decrepit schools. Its economy was stagnant, its tax rate was among the state's highest and it was being ordered to shut down its old dump. Now, thanks to its new landfill, the county has lower taxes, better-paid teachers and splendid schools. The landfill's private operator, the Chambers Development Company, pays Charles City County fees totaling $3 million a year-as much as the county takes in from all its property taxes. The landfill has created jobs, as have the new businesses that were attracted by the lower taxes and new schools. The 80-acre public-school campus has three buildings with central air conditioning and fiber-optic cabling. The library has 10,000 books, laser disks and CD-ROM's; every classroom in the elementary school has a telephone and a computer. The new auditorium has been used by visiting orchestras and dance companies, which previously had no place to perform in the county.

If you are heavy with garbage and guilt, Charles City is the place to lay down your burden. There you can see garbage the way Linny Miles regards it: not as a moral issue but as an economic commodity. New Yorkers get rid of their garbage cheaply, Charles City's children get new schools. Why should New Yorkers spend extra money to recycle so they can avoid this mutually beneficial transaction? Why make harried parents feel guilty about takeout food? Why train children to be garbage sorters? Why force the Bridges school to spend money on a recycling program when it still doesn't have a computer in the science classroom?


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

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

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


24 September, 2005


And the U.S. seems to be going along with it

This week, Bush-administration officials are meeting in Vienna to discuss a United Nations plan to globalize environmental regulation. Dubbed the "Strategic Approach to Global Management of Chemicals" or SAICM, the program is anything but strategic.

SAICM would attempt to regulate basically all substances in commerce - manmade and natural - and would attempt to manage all the world's solid and hazardous waste. And in time, it could easily spill into other areas - air and water.

If you read the documents published by SAICM negotiators, you might think you are reading Al Gore's 1992 book, Earth in the Balance, in which he proposed making the environment the "central organizing principle for civilization." In the chapter titled "A Global Marshall Plan," Gore outlines a utopian vision for a "Strategic Environment Initiative" through which world regulators could effectively "discourage and phase out" supposedly "inappropriate technologies and the same time develop and disseminate a new generation of environmentally benign substitutes."

This sounds an awful lot like SAICM's "Global Action Plan." Among 288 "concrete measures" proposed in SAICM's plan are intentions to "restrict availability" of "highly toxic pesticides;" substitute "highly toxic pesticides;" "promote substitution of hazardous chemicals;" "regulate the availability, distribution and use of pesticides;" "halt the sale of and recall products" that pose "unacceptable risks;" "eliminate the use" of certain "hazardous chemicals;" and so on.

Such policies would be pushed by an international chemicals bureaucracy and implemented by "stakeholders" - government, industry, and nongovernmental organizations. Somehow we are supposed to believe that these parties know better than the rest of us - the actors in the world marketplace who must live with the consequences of such decisions.

While SAICM negotiators don't want to acknowledge it, many products are valuable because they are toxic and even "highly toxic." These properties provide important advantages, and their risks can be managed. Pesticides, for example, should be highly toxic to the vermin they are supposed to kill, while having little impact on humans when used properly. Chlorine is caustic and dangerous if misused - and for that we can thank its Creator. Indeed, chlorine's potent properties will be crucial in helping control the spread of deadly pathogens in the hurricane-torn regions of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

These states face risks that are all-to-common in poor nations - risks of cholera, dysentery, and other deadly water-borne diseases. The only difference is, the United States has access to disinfectants and many poor communities around the world don't.

In 1991, residents of Peru and surrounding nations learned about the dire impacts of following the advice of regulators who suggested reduced chlorine use because of alleged risks associated with the chemical. According to the scientific literature on the topic, inadequate chlorination was a key factor in a cholera epidemic that started in Peru and spread throughout the hemisphere, leading to about a million cases of cholera and thousands of deaths.

If the United Nations truly wants to do something to improve the human environment around the globe, it would not spend any time or money empowering regulators to make more such horrific mistakes. Instead, it would be working on policies to promote much needed economic development.

Most of the world's serious environmental problems are the effects of poverty in developing nations. On the top of the list according to a 2001 World Bank study-"Environment Strategy Papers: Healthy and Environment" - is inadequate sanitation. This is something that only economic growth can address through improved infrastructure and increased access to chemical disinfectants - such as chlorine.

Next on the list of problems is limited access to modern energy sources - including such things as electricity and fossil fuels. Lacking such amenities means that rural poor around the world rely on burning biomass fuels (such as cow dung) in their homes as an energy source. Resulting pollution leads to an estimated 1.7 million deaths annually associated with respiratory illnesses. And as international bureaucrats at the United Nations lament the potential that someone might consume trace levels of chemicals found in plastic packaging, the absence of such sanitary packaging and refrigeration in developing nations kills tens of thousands every year.

The solution is not more regulation - but less. Indeed, these nations are least able to afford such regulatory burdens. Economic freedom and resulting growth would do far more to improve the human condition. Indeed, the authors of a World Bank report document the fact that pollution and environmental problems decline as gross domestic product increases.

While the Bush administration has not officially endorsed SAICM, it does appear to be silently following along. In August, the administration held a public meeting in Washington at which officials basically outlined SAICM's progression. Perhaps the administration's excuse is that it needs a "seat at the table" to influence the outcome of any SAICM policies. But that's just plain dumb. Bush did not go along with the creation of a global court to get a seat on the bench. Bush knew that any involvement with that global bureaucracy spelled disaster for Americans. Hence he deflated the entire initiative by publicly withdrawing all U.S. involvement. It's time he did the same with SAICM and any other green globalony coming from the United Nations. After all, human-well-being should the central organizing principle for civilization



By Jeff Jacoby explains something that is obvious to economists but obvious to about no-one else

It didn't take Hurricane Katrina to move the issue of fuel efficiency into the spotlight. For decades, automakers have been urged to produce, consumers have been urged to drive, and the government has been urged to mandate more fuel-efficient cars. If the vehicles on our roads got more miles to the gallon, we have been told again and again, we could dramatically reduce the amount of oil we depend on -- and from that would flow benefits equally dramatic:

America's foreign policy would be strengthened, it is said, since we would no longer have to appease the unsavory regimes that control most of the world's crude oil. The economy would surge as money now spent on fuel was channeled to more productive uses. Mother Earth would be better off, since less fuel would mean less pollution and less drilling for oil. And at a time of $3-a-gallon gasoline, motorists would have particular reason to rejoice: Higher-mileage cars would need fewer expensive fill-ups.

Late last month, with Katrina still days away, the Bush administration proposed new regulations mandating improved gas mileage for pickup trucks, minivans, and some SUVs. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said the plan would save 10 billion gallons of gasoline by 2011. Critics dismissed his proposal as either trifling (''almost embarrassingly inadequate" -- Eric Haxthausen, Environmental Defense), or dangerous (''higher fuel efficiency standards increase traffic deaths" -- Sam Kazman, Competitive Enterprise Institute). But the basic idea -- that higher fuel efficiency can mean lower American gasoline use -- no one seemed to challenge.

If better mileage had political sex appeal before the hurricane, it had even more of it afterward. In Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino called a press conference to announce that the city's 450 diesel-powered cars would be replaced with more-efficient vehicles that run on biodiesel fuel. He promised to trade in his mayoral SUV -- a Ford Expedition -- for something smaller and more fuel-efficient. Then, ''as television cameras rolled," The Boston Globe reported, ''he climbed into the Public Health Commission's new Ford Escape hybrid SUV and drove away across the plaza."

Lawmakers have gotten into the act too. A bill introduced in the Massachusetts Legislature would shower benefits on drivers of fuel-efficient vehicles. Among them: a $2,000 tax deduction, the right to drive solo in carpool lanes, and lower fees at parking meters. All of which might be worth considering if using fuel more efficiently really would result in less fuel being used. But it won't. It will result in *more* fuel being used.

If that sounds counterintuitive, think about it this way: Would lowering the price of operating an automobile -- i.e., making driving cheaper -- lead to higher or lower consumption? Higher, of course: The cheaper something is, the more of it we generally want. Cars that run more efficiently make transportation cheaper by getting more miles out of each gallon of gas. Result: more miles driven and more gasoline consumed.

If that still sounds counter-intuitive, think about computers. Consider how much more use you get from your computer today than you did from the far less efficient PC you owned 15 years ago. As the efficiency of computers has climbed, so has the demand for them. Today it costs less than ever to process a byte of data by computer -- but more resources are devoted to computing than ever before. Driving is no different. If American cars averaged 45 miles per gallon, it would take less fuel than it does now to move a car from point X to point Y -- but the total amount of driving in America would rise, and so would the amount of gasoline consumed.

In *The Bottomless Well,* a myth-busting new book on energy and how we use it, Peter Huber, a scholar at the Manhattan Institute, and Mark Mills, a physicist and technology expert, acknowledge that this paradox -- ''the more efficient our technology, the more energy we consume" -- strikes many people as heretical. But the numbers bear it out. Thirty years ago, the energy cost of transportation was nine gallons per 100 vehicle miles. Today it is six gallons -- a 33 percent drop. Yet over the same period, the total amount of fuel consumed rose 56 percent -- from 115 billion gallons a year to more than 180 billion gallons.

This ''paradox of efficiency" is as true of cars and computers as of light bulbs, jet turbines, and air conditioners, Huber and Mills write. ''The more efficient they grew, the more of them we built, and the more we used them -- and the more energy they consumed overall."

None of this is meant as a defense of gas-guzzlers. As the owner of a '99 Toyota Camry who has never driven an SUV, I certainly don't oppose the quest for better mileage. If you have your heart set on a Prius, don't let me dissuade you from buying one. After all, fuel-efficient cars do have their advantages. Reducing American dependence on oil just doesn't happen to be one of them.


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

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

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


23 September, 2005


Or maybe all those Martian SUVs

The climate on Mars is showing a warming trend and recent images have shown the first evidence of seismic activity on Earth's neighbor planet, scientists said on Tuesday. New gullies that did not exist three years ago have been pictured on a Mars sand dune -- just another of what scientists say are surprising discoveries found by cameras aboard the 8-year-old Mars Global Surveyor that are changing notions about the climate and formation of Mars.

"To see new gullies and other changes in Mars surface features on a time span of a few years presents us with a more active, dynamic planet than many suspected," said Michael Meyer, NASA's Mars Exploration Program chief scientist. Images taken by the Mars Orbiter Camera on board the Surveyor showed that boulders have fallen down a Martian slope in the past two years. Michael Malin, principal investigator for the Mars Orbiter Camera, told reporters it was the first evidence scientists had seen of some kind of seismic activity, or possible "marsquake," on the planet. If so, "it could speak to the planet having warmth in the interior ... which means the interior could be more active than previously thought and there could be a habitable environment in the deeper regions of Mars," said Jack Mustard, geological sciences professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Malin said images of Mars' southern polar cap showed that scarps formed there are retreating at "a prodigious rate" of about 10 feet per Mars year. Mars years are nearly twice as long as Earth years. The images, documenting changes from 1999 to 2005, suggest the climate on Mars is presently warmer, and perhaps getting warmer still, than it was several decades or centuries ago just as the Earth experienced its own Ice Ages.

Malin said scientists had no explanation yet as to why Mars might be warming. The Mars Global Surveyor reached orbit in September 1997 for an initial one-martian-year mission. It was subsequently extended and is currently funded through 2006 although Meyer said it was technically capable of extending its mission even further. In November 2006 the Mars Global Surveyor will be joined by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which was launched in August on a four-year mission to continue the search for evidence of how long Mars had water, which is the key to sustaining life.



The New Orleans flood barriers were so poorly designed and built that they collapsed while the water level was still well below the top of them

Louisiana's top hurricane experts have rejected the official explanations for the floodwall collapses that inundated much of New Orleans, concluding that Hurricane Katrina's storm surges were much smaller than authorities have suggested and that the city's flood- protection system should have kept most of the city dry.

The Army Corps of Engineers has said that Katrina was just too massive for a system that was not intended to protect the city from a storm greater than a Category 3 hurricane, and that the floodwall failures near Lake Pontchartrain were caused by extraordinary surges that overtopped the walls.

But with the help of complex computer models and stark visual evidence, scientists and engineers at Louisiana State University's Hurricane Center have concluded that Katrina's surges did not come close to overtopping those barriers. That would make faulty design, inadequate construction or some combination of the two the likely cause of the breaching of the floodwalls along the 17th Street and London Avenue canals -- and the flooding of most of New Orleans.

In the weeks since Katrina drowned this low-lying city, there has been an intense focus on the chaotic government response to the flood. But Ivor van Heerden, the Hurricane Center's deputy director, said the real scandal of Katrina is the "catastrophic structural failure" of barriers that should have handled the hurricane with relative ease. "We are absolutely convinced that those floodwalls were never overtopped," said van Heerden, who also runs LSU's Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes.

In an interview Tuesday, Corps spokesman Paul Johnston said the agency still believes that storm surges overtopped the concrete floodwalls near the lake, then undermined the earthen levees on which they were perched, setting the stage for the breaches that emptied the lake into the city.

Johnston said the Corps intends to launch an investigation to make sure it is correct about that scenario. But he emphasized that Katrina was a Category 4 hurricane when it smashed into the Gulf Coast, whereas Congress authorized the Corps to protect New Orleans against a storm only up to Category 3. "The event exceeded the design," Johnston said.

The center's researchers agree that Katrina's initial surge from the southeast overwhelmed floodwalls along the New Orleans Industrial Canal, flooding the city's Lower Ninth Ward as well as St. Bernard Parish. They believe that a little-used Army Corps navigation canal known as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet helped amplify that surge, although they acknowledge that this surge was larger than the system was designed to control.

But the researchers have strong evidence that Katrina's subsequent surge from the north was several feet shy of the height that would have been necessary to overtop the 17th Street and London Avenue floodwalls. It was the failures of those floodwalls that emptied the lake into the rest of the city, filling most of New Orleans like a soup bowl.

On a tour Tuesday, researchers showed numerous indications that Katrina's surge was not as tall as the lakefront's protections. They showed a "debris line" that indicates the top height of Katrina's waves was at least four feet below the crest of Lake Pontchartrain's levees. They also pointed out how the breached floodwalls near the lake showed no signs of overtopping -- no splattering of mud, no drip lines and no erosion at their bases. They contended that the pattern of destruction behind the breaches was consistent with a localized "pressure burst," rather than widespread overtopping.

The center has also completed a computerized "hindcast" of Katrina, which has confirmed the evidence before their eyes. Their model indicates that most of the surge around the lake and its nearby canals was less than 11 feet above sea level, and that none of it should have been greater than 13 feet. The Army Corps's flood-protection system for New Orleans was designed to handle surges of more than 14 feet above sea level. "This should not have been a big deal for these floodwalls," said oceanographer G. Paul Kemp, a hurricane expert who runs LSU's Natural Systems Modeling Laboratory. "It should have been a modest challenge. There's no way this should have exceeded the capacity."

The center's researchers said it is too early to say whether the breaches were caused by poor design, faulty construction or some combination. But van Heerden said the floodwalls at issue -- massive concrete slabs mounted on steel sheet pilings -- looked more like the sound barriers found on major highways. He also suggested that the slabs should have been interlocked

More here


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

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

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


22 September, 2005


Post from someone closely involved

Big Green's Big Lie is that Pombo is out to destroy the Act. Quoting an Activist Alert e-mail from the Endangered Species Coalition (ESC), "...greedy developers and the politicians they give money to are attempting to weaken America's safety net for fish, plants, and wildlife on the brink of extinction."

Never mind that Greens give far more money to Congressional races than developers. Never mind that the same e-mail from ESC solicits funds for just such a purpose.

Never mind that far-right property rights groups are just as angry at Pombo for giving into the Greens (which he didn't) as the Greens are angry at him for giving into the property rights crowd (which he didn't).

Never mind that most of the ESA fights are over species that are hardly on the brink of extinction -- like the California gnatcatcher, which is genetically indistinguishable from millions of Mexican gnatcatchers, or the fairy shrimp, which some of us remember advertised in the back of comic books as "sea monkeys."

One of the things you will hear about ESA is that thousands of scientists oppose reforming it. This claim is a hooey-pot so foul reporters should steer far, far away from mentioning it. Why? Because you don't have to know anything at all about endangered species to get on the list. Here's ESC's solicitation to sign up:

In order to show opposition to Rep. Pombo's bill from the scientific community, we are circulating a letter for signatures by scientists. If you are a scientist, please consider signing the letter. If you know of scientists who may be interested in signing, please forward this letter to them. Text of the scientist sign on letter can be found here.

What does an astrophysicist, volcanologist or electrical engineer know about ESA? Nothing, but they're all scientists. In fact, most biologists and botanists are unfamiliar with species outside their narrow window of expertise -- and they certainly don't understand how the Act works."


The environmental movement's strong opposition to a key provision of Rep. Richard Pombo's Endangered Species Act reform bill suggests they aren't serious about protecting the public's "right to know," says The National Center for Public Policy Research. It also suggests environmentalists aren't serious about saving endangered species, the group says. "For perhaps the first time, Congress is considering a proposal to stop penalizing private stewardship and thus create an ESA that offers the potential of being good for both people and good for species," said R.J. Smith, senior fellow at The National Center.

The Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act (TESRA), which was introduced by House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo and others September 19, includes a provision that would require the federal government to inform property owners within 90 days whether their proposed activities would harm species listed under the Endangered Species Act. But environmental groups such as Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity oppose the provision, arguing it would harm species.

"Environmental groups say they support the public's 'right to know,'" said David Ridenour, Vice President of The National Center for Public Policy Research. "But they apparently don't think this right should extend to American landowners-they would rather keep them in the dark." The 90-day review period could be a means of not only protecting the rights of property owners, but of saving species, according to The National Center. "So long as ambiguities exist on which activities are illegal and which are legal, which activities would harm species and which would not, property rights and endangered species will both be in jeopardy," said Peyton Knight, director of the John P. McGovern MD Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs at the National Center. "A 90-day review period, if formulated correctly, could protect property owners by giving them the final agency decision they need to seek compensation for their losses under the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. But it would also protect species in so doing."

The Endangered Species Act has failed to save endangered species because its incentives are wrong. "Today private landowners live in fear of the ESA," said Ridenour. "Those who harbor endangered species on their property often find themselves subject to severe land use restrictions." To avoid such restrictions and the losses in property values that accompany them, many landowners preemptively sterilize their land to keep rare species away.

The Pombo proposal appears to have been significantly changed from a draft released this summer. With further refinement, several provisions of the proposal could relieve property owners of some of the ESA's harsh regulatory burden. Under one provision, property owners who lose the productive use of their land due to endangered species regulations would receive 100 percent of the fair market value in compensation for their losses. The provision also notes that any "ambiguities regarding fair market value shall be resolved in favor of the property owner." "Given its failure to recover species and its enormous burden on private property owners and regional economies, you would think Congress would want to repeal the ESA," said Knight. "Strong protection of private property rights ought to be a minimum standard for the Act."

The recent bill comes on the heels of a coalition letter widely circulated last week. The letter was signed by over 80 major national and state public policy organizations voicing their concern that TESRA's first draft would not have provided meaningful reform to the ESA. Plans revealed in the early draft to introduce "invasive species" regulations to the ESA have been removed from TESRA. Knight says this removal was essential. "Adding invasive species regulations to the ESA would have had a devastating impact on landowners," he said. "We're thankful that this has been removed from TESRA."

The House Resources Committee has scheduled a hearing on TESRA for Wednesday, September 21, and plans to vote on the bill the following day. As Congress is currently conducting hearings on eminent domain abuse, this may be a critical week for property rights. "Eminent domain abuse is a terrible injustice to be sure," said Ridenour, "But when government takes your land under eminent domain, you get compensated. Under the Endangered Species Act, government can take your property without paying you a dime."



Some excerpts from an interview with libertarian New York Times columnist John Tierney:

I was a science writer and would cover environmental issues, and I started to realize that if you really looked at the science you'd see there was all this dogmatism on one side. But the real influence on me was Julian Simon. I was assigned to do a story in 1985 for Science magazine about the population crisis, and Greg Easterbrook was assigned to do the other part of a double cover-story package out of Africa. It was going to be "The Problem: Population Growth; The Solution: Technology Transfer." And I was going to Kenya, the fastest growing country in history, to do a story about the crisis the country was in, and Greg was going to Tanzania to do a story about some new technology for helping low-income people survive. When we came back, I ended up saying: "Population growth is not the problem." And Greg said: "Technology transfer is not the solution." To the editors' credit, they ran it.

For that story, I had heard about Julian Simon, this kind of iconoclastic economist, and I had read some of his work debunking claims about endangered species. I didn't know much about population growth, but I knew I didn't just want to write yet another story about the "population bomb." I was hoping I could say something fresh about it, so I called him up. And I said to him: "You know, I'm going to Kenya, fastest growing country in history, the average woman is having eight children, the population is doubling every ten years," and I started rattling off all these disasters. And Julian interrupted me, he said: "Yes, isn't it wonderful that so many people can be alive in that country today?" It was just a whole different way to look at it.

His great advice was: "Don't look at it as an isolated problem, a current crisis. Try to look at the long-term trends, the big picture; try to see if things are getting better or worse, not just if someone has a problem." So I went there and there were all these foreign aid workers and the usual people getting money to study the population crisis. And I was trying to find some way to tell a story, and I found this documentary that had been made about ten years earlier called Mara Goli-a village in the fastest growing part of Kenya. It was a great documentary-there was this one woman in a pink dress who wanted to have 20 children. They're all on these very crowded farmlands, and you figure there's no more room to grow, they're all going to starve to death if they all want to have these children. So I thought I'd go back to this village and see what happened ten years later. I found the woman in the pink dress, and she had four kids. She said, "Oh, I don't want to have 20 kids, we can't do it." The interesting thing was that the families that were larger actually were doing better, which is what Julian had found, that there isn't this "more people equals less wealth" relationship.

Q: Is that because people wait to have more kids until they're more prosperous, or because the kids are helping out with the work, or something else?

Tierney: Well, it's a complicated equation. At the time, I remember thinking it didn't make any sense. You can say that people have more kids when they have more money; when you can afford it you have the kid. Though at a certain point of development, of course, that changes and richer people don't have more kids. Another theory at the time was that having more kids makes you work harder. At the time I was single and childless and it didn't seem to make that much sense, but I have a mortgage now and I see exactly what this does to people and how it spurs them.

More here


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

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

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


21 September, 2005


Congressmen who want to amend 1973's landmark Endangered Species Act said the effort they launched Monday may succeed where previous attempts have failed because they now have significant bipartisan backing. House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo plans to move his bill to the full House this week. He scheduled a hearing Wednesday on a measure that environmental groups say would gut a law that has saved dozens of species. Democratic U.S. Rep. Dennis Cardoza joined his fellow Californian in arguing the current law does more good for lawyers engaged in endless litigation over species protection than it does for the species themselves.

It's time to return to the original goal of the act, Cardoza and Pombo said: increasing threatened or endangered species' populations to the point that they can be removed from the list. The pair was joined by Republican U.S. Reps. George Radanovich of California and Greg Walden of Oregon at a Sacramento news conference at the same time the bill was formally introduced in Washington, D.C.

Aside from being the primary co-authors' home state, the location far from the nation's Capitol was intended to show the proposed law would return more control to state and local governments. Six Democrats joined eight Republicans as original co-sponsors of the "Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2005," from Arkansas, California, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Washington and Wyoming. Seven of the eight Republicans and two of the six Democrats are members of Pombo's committee. "We made the effort to actually sit down and get a bipartisan bill," Pombo said.

Pombo said some environmental groups - whom he would not name - joined with recreational users, property rights advocates, industry groups and Department of Interior officials in crafting the bill. His committee passed two bills last year to amend the law, but neither got a vote on the House floor. Earlier attempts to amend the law also went nowhere, including a 1997 effort that cleared a Senate committee. The latest effort would require the government to compensate property owners at fair market value for any loss that results from protecting endangered species, or else it could not enforce the act.

Environmental groups said that provision would be so expensive as to make the law useless, and would encourage developers to plan projects for environmentally sensitive areas to get compensation from the government.

The bill also would eliminate the act's requirement that critical habitat be designated for endangered species, substituting a provision that enough habitat be set aside to help each species recover. Pombo said that could be more or less land than under the current act, though environmental groups questioned the intent. Critics said the proposed legislation would politicize the act's enforcement with a provision requiring the Interior secretary to define what constitutes the "best available scientific information." They said other provisions would make it difficult to block damaging projects or add to the list of 1,370 plants and animals considered threatened or in danger of extinction.



"Amid the handwringing that has followed the devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, a persistent question whispered in the background has been whether hurricanes are getting worse. A paper in this week's Science, by Peter Webster of the Georgia Institute of Technology, in Atlanta, and his colleagues suggests that they are, but only in one, specific way.

Hurricanes can form only over oceans that have a surface temperature above 26øC. That is well known. What is debatable is what effect, if any, raising the temperature beyond that has. It might increase the number of storms, the length they last, their maximum strength or the proportion that are strong. Or it might have no effect. Since average ocean-surface temperatures have risen by about half a degree since 1970, this is not an idle question, and it has, indeed, been asked in the past. But it has been asked largely of the North Atlantic and North Pacific, because they are fringed by countries that can afford to do the asking. Dr Webster, by contrast, has looked at the whole planet-or, rather, the six ocean basins on its surface that act as hurricane nurseries.

He and his team used satellite data to obtain consistent observations from around the world. (This was the reason they were able to go back only as far as 1970; before that, there were not enough observations.) Analysing the sea-surface temperatures in the six basins (the North Atlantic, the West Pacific, the East Pacific, the Southwest Pacific, the North Indian Ocean and the South Indian Ocean), they found statistically significant temperature rises in all but the Southwest Pacific.

Looking at the hurricanes themselves, though, they found no long-term trends in the number of storms per ocean basin or the length a storm lasts, except in the North Atlantic, where both increased. That is unfortunate news for Caribbean countries and the United States, which bear the brunt of those storms. But it suggests that whatever is increasing hurricane incidence it is not-or, at least not solely-to do with ocean warming. If it were, such increases would have shown up in other places where the sea is getting warmer.

Nor was there any increase in the maximum windspeed that storms attained anywhere. What there was, however, was a doubling around the world of the proportion of storms in the most destructive categories (4 and 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale usually employed by meteorologists). And, although the exact rise in that proportion varied from basin to basin, all of them saw a significant increase.

What caused that increase is, of course, debatable-and since the second-largest percentage increase was in the Southwest Pacific, where no significant temperature rise was observed, leaping on changes in sea-surface temperature as the sole cause might be premature. But what Dr Webster and his colleagues have shown beyond much doubt is that something rather nasty has been happening. Time, perhaps, to batten down the hatches".

(From The Economist)


We are the first inhabitants of Sydney who will leave this city worse than we found it. In pursuit of the policy called "consolidation", we are turning one of the most liveable cities in the world into a congested rats' nest. Artificial restrictions on growth have increased housing prices so much that many of our children cannot afford to live here. It's a mighty political and social failure. Things are about to get worse. About 70 per cent of all new housing in the next quarter-century will be built within the existing city boundaries. That will be half a million new homes, most of them as part of an estimated 7000 blocks of flats, to be built in streets like yours and mine. More and more people will be forced to live in concrete boxes or to spend their lives paying off some of the largest mortgages in the world. More suburbs will be blighted, deprived of oxygen, grass and space by denser housing, as remnant bushland disappears and roads and rivers become clogged like arteries running through fat.

The policy of consolidation, sometimes also known as "smart growth", is international and enshrined in the State Government's Metropolitan Strategy. It is based on a number of false assertions that fly in the face of common sense or have been exposed as false by academic research. Yet they persist, for reasons we will consider later. But first let's look at those assertions. The biggest is the claim, popular with all ideologues, that there is no alternative. We are constantly told that Sydney has reached its natural limits. In fact there are enormous areas of empty land on the city fringes, as anyone who drives along the Northern Road from Penrith to Camden can see. As the Australian Institute of Urban Studies demonstrated years ago, there is huge potential for extending the city into the Southern Highlands, half an hour by fast train from Central station. So there are alternatives.

The next big argument is environmental. Many people assume Sydney can only expand by eating into national parks, but as the two examples above show, this is not true. It is also claimed that the environmental cost of more freestanding houses on traditional blocks of land (700 square metres or more) is no longer acceptable, mainly because they use too much water. The first issue here involves equity: why should those who already own suburban houses on decent blocks be able to deny them to the young, the poor, and newcomers? In any case this is a furphy. Sydney's water crisis is as artificial as its land shortage. It could be solved in a few years by changes to the pricing system and the introduction of large-scale recycling. We could even build a new dam. (Many environmentalists are opposed to this but they shouldn't be. Dams involve the green ideal: large areas of bush - the catchment areas - from which humans are excluded.)

A variant of the environmental argument involves public transport. It's often claimed that we need to get people to stop driving their cars and use public transport, and that consolidation will achieve this. Unfortunately, evidence from around the world shows this to be wrong. Denser housing increases public transport in the affected area by a little and road use by a lot, so creating traffic congestion. Tony Recsei, the president of anti-consolidation group Save Our Suburbs, notes that "in cities all over the world, traffic congestion increases with density, even in cities with public transport systems Sydney can't hope to match". The reason for this is obvious: public transport, no matter how much is spent on it, just doesn't go to most of the places most of us want to go to when we leave our houses. To ignore this, as many planners and their supporters so persistently do, is to indulge in nostalgic left-wing fantasy.....

I suspect it's driven by something more prosaic, a desperate effort by government to minimise the increasing expense to itself of providing new housing. For Sydney's first 200 years, new suburbs were usually opened up with very basic facilities, and gradually improved over a long period. But today we have greatly increased expectations and a media ready to pounce on shortcomings. The old approach is no longer acceptable. So, believing it is cheaper, government crams most new housing into established areas to take advantage of existing infrastructure, from water pipes to schools. When it does provide building sites on the fringes, it now charges developers (that is, homebuyers) for infrastructure costs that would once have been borne by the general budget. So the housing crisis is a corner of the bigger problem, of government trying to cope with budgetary problems that persist despite the growing prosperity of society.

The result of all this is the destruction of the traditional suburban way of life that has suited the vast majority of Sydneysiders. Governments have been assisted in this by certain planners and environmentalists antipathetic to that tradition, indeed contemptuous of the suburbs. They desire to change our cities into a green fantasy of Paris, in which cafes and bicycle paths play a big role. They speak of bringing the vibrancy of Manhattan to Sydney, and contrast this dream with the tedium of ordinary life in a freestanding house with a garden - a life that millions of immigrants have crossed the world to achieve.

They denigrate this bourgeois utopia by calling it "urban sprawl", despite the fact that space and sprawl are part of Australians' cultural heritage. They call their dreams for the city "smart growth", to imply that any alternative is dumb. Government has turned to these intellectuals to provide the arguments to justify its budget-driven assault on suburbia......

Ian Macfarlane, the governor of the Reserve Bank, has suggested young people should leave Sydney because house prices are so high. It's sad this hasn't created a greater sense of shame among those who have created this situation. But then, it's not the children of the elite who are being driven out of their city.

In Cox's view: "The government advocates prefer to think Sydney's growth is the root of the housing affordability problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Atlanta are the fastest growing large urban areas in the English-speaking New World. Each is already larger than Sydney and growing faster. They also have the most affordable housing markets. This is because [they] have been careful not to apply Soviet breadline policies to their housing markets."...

More here


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

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

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


20 September, 2005


Back in 1995, surface waters in the north Atlantic Ocean warmed up a smidgen. The change was less than a degree, but it marked the first time in a quarter-century that waters were consistently warmer than average. Storm experts warned of more hurricanes. But nobody grasped the sweeping change that Mother Nature had signaled. The 10 years since then have been the stormiest decade in the recorded history of the Atlantic basin. Mitch tore up Central America. Four hurricanes hammered Florida last year. Katrina decimated the Gulf Coast. Now climatologists say frenzied hurricane seasons will be a fact of life for the next 10 to 20 years, part of a lengthy cycle of stormy eras followed by calmer ones.

The engine driving these cycles is called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, or AMO. Scientists say it has triggered drought in the western United States while spawning hurricanes in the Atlantic. At a time when some are theorizing that global warming may be the reason for more intense hurricane seasons, climatologists say the AMO is the real culprit. "The consensus among hurricane researchers and forecasters is that the hurricane landfalls of 2004 resulted from the AMO, a natural cycle of hurricane activity, combined with a lapse in the incredibly good fortune of the previous 35 years," Hugh Willoughby, a hurricane researcher at Miami's Florida International University, wrote in an essay last fall. "The effect of global warming was at most second order," he wrote, "and probably not present at all."

Today's climate researchers owe a debt to mariners of the late 1800s. "They would lower buckets into the water and measure the temperatures," said Thomas Delworth, a physical scientist at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration laboratory in New Jersey. Steamship engines used ocean water to cool steam in their condensers. The colder the ocean, the stronger the engines ran. Chief engineers kept meticulous temperature logs, helping them predict their top speeds. Now those logs are helping scientists unravel the cycles of the Atlantic.

After studying temperature records dating to 1854, two University of Illinois researchers reported in a 1994 edition of Nature that air and surface-water temperatures in the north Atlantic were cyclically rising, then falling, over 65 to 70 years. William Gray, the renowned hurricane forecaster from Colorado State University, also was studying the Atlantic. The warmer surface water in 1995 prompted Gray to predict an unusually stormy hurricane season. His warning proved too tame. Eleven hurricanes and eight tropical storms erupted in 1995, the highest tally since 1933. Hurricane Opal, after strengthening into a major hurricane the night before it struck Pensacola Beach, inflicted $3-billion in damage.

Such mayhem prompted Gray to question his statistical analyses. He concluded the 1995 ocean warming had rendered them unreliable. Gray began giving top emphasis to water temperatures in the Atlantic. By 1997 his forecasts began warning of "a new era" of hurricanes. A flurry of studies ensued. In one, Steve Gray, an Arizona-based research associate with the U.S. Geological Survey, led a team that tracked the weather cycles backward by studying ancient tree rings from Europe and the southern United States. Healthy weather produced wide tree rings. Drought or other trauma caused narrow rings.

The climate cycles kept repeating. "It's been working in the same way for at least five centuries or so," said Gray, whose study was published last year. How far back might the cycles extend? "I'll go out on a limb and say at least one or two millennia," he replied.

Climatologists had long known that ocean temperatures influence weather, earlier reinforced by the Pacific Ocean's El Nino phenomenon. But discoveries about the AMO in the mid-1990s helped explain why certain types of weather - storms, drought and rainfall - unfold in long patterns. Researchers learned that AMO cycles depend on how fast the surface waters of the Atlantic flow north past Greenland, chill in the Arctic wind, then sink and head back south. It's like a liquid conveyor belt. If the conveyor belt slows, surface waters have more time to cool as they journey north. If the belt speeds up, the water stays warmer farther north. This is the AMO's warm phase, the hurricane hatchery. Why this flow speeds up and slows down is largely a mystery. NOAA's Delworth thinks the key influence is the rhythm of the Arctic winds. Salinity matters, too. When evaporation makes the water saltier, it is denser and quicker to sink.

Records show the AMO was cool from 1900-1925, warm from 1926-1969, cool from 1970-1994 and warm since 1995. Climatologists look at those dates and realize a generation of Americans is virtually blind to the true threat of hurricanes, having never experienced a major hurricane firsthand, at least until last year's four Florida hurricanes. "During the time when so few hurricanes hit North America, we as a society framed decisions about land use, construction standards and other aspects of our lives around the shores of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico," wrote FIU's Willoughby last fall. "Built into those plans was the unstated assumption that hurricanes would continue to stay away from our shores as they had for the last third of a century."

Another expert said the hurricane seasons of the 1940s, in the heart of the last AMO warm phase, would stun today's Floridians. "Imagine variations of 2004 occurring every year for 10 years," said Roger Pielke Jr., a University of Colorado professor who studies risk and has written a book about hurricanes.....

More here

Concreting over the facts

That's enough handwringing about 'the end of the countryside': the vast majority of Britain is greenfield, and it's likely to stay that way

Britain could lose most of its traditional countryside in just a generation, the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) warned on 8 September. Apparently plans to build new homes threaten to concrete over the countryside. The CPRE's fears are shared by many. Not just the Daily Mail and the Tory shires, but Urban Taskforce chairman Richard Rogers and Guardianistas like Tristram Hunt and Ros Coward are up in arms about the threat to Britain's countryside.

But is there really any danger of concreting over the countryside? The answer is no. Just do the maths. Few people will believe it when you tell them, but only 12 per cent of the UK is built up, whereas fully three-quarters is farmland. The reason that they do not believe you is partly to do with the psychology of perception, and partly to do with deeply held fears. We perceive the UK as overwhelmingly a built-up country, because almost all of us live in built-up areas. The country that we move around in, nine-tenths of the time, is concreted over. But that does not mean that that is all there is. If you fly over England you will see that vast stretches of it are green: eighty-eight per cent of it, in fact.

More profoundly, the belief that concrete is swallowing up the countryside arises out of our social attitudes. The countryside stands for virgin nature, untouched by human hand (which is ironic, considering it is entirely the product of agricultural development). The town, by contrast, stands for the artificial. As the old saying goes: God made the country, man made the town. Our fears for the countryside are a fantastic projection of an ideological attitude that sees rural England as the crucible of all that is worthwhile. A sense that society is uncontrollable and dangerous makes us all want to 'wander lonely as a cloud'. And valuable as the respite of the countryside is, it is the centres of human habitation that are truly creative.

So strong is the pre-cognate sentiment that the countryside is being eaten up by the town that few people will stop to consider the proportions involved. You could double - yes, double - the size of Britain's built-up areas and still leave three quarters of the land area as countryside. Instead of 12 per cent built up, you could have 24 per cent built up, and still leave 76 per cent undeveloped. And if that does not sound like a positive goal, think about this: it would be impossible to double the built-up area of the UK, even if you wanted to.

Imagine adding not just a second London, but a second Birmingham, Manchester, fact, a second of every single town and city. That would still leave three quarters of the UK undeveloped. But there simply is not the concrete, nor bricks, nor labour, available for such a construction. And in any event, the population of Britain is not going to double, so there is no need to put even a small dent in the available countryside.

Listening to the Council for the Protection of Rural England, anyone would think that the government is mounting an exercise to build 60 million new homes. But the truth is that it is not even threatening to build four million new homes. The rate at which this government has built new homes is not even enough to replace the old homes. And that is a great pity. Why? Because a great amount of land that was once dedicated to farming is no longer needed. Increased yields and farming surpluses mean that we get much more from much less land. That land ought to be available for new building.

Instead, the planning system, and the government's stupid commitment to build primarily on already developed land, means that it will all be turned to national parks, wilderness and golf courses. Those are not bad things, of course. But the facts are that there is a great deal of land available to expand the area of human habitation, which would in itself be a good thing."

(From Spiked)


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

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

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


19 September, 2005


California's pioneering lawsuit to cap global warming gases from coal-fired power plants as distant as Kentucky and Florida was tossed out of federal court Thursday on jurisdictional grounds. U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska in Manhattan ruled that the case brought by state Attorney General Bill Lockyer and prosecutors for seven other states and New York City raised sweeping questions of public policy best resolved by Congress and the president, not the courts.

At issue were emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary heat-trapping gas that alters the Earth's temperature, and the nation's highest emitters of the gas - old coal-fired power plants, mainly in the Midwest and the South.

Lockyer and an attorney for a companion complaint brought by three Northeast land conservancies said they would appeal the decision. The plaintiffs - including Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin and New York - sought a court order requiring the nation's top five power producers to cut carbon dioxide emissions every year for at least a decade, by an amount to be determined later by the court.

The electric power industry argued that the technology to capture these gases in the plant doesn't exist, at least not at affordable prices

In her ruling, Preska said the plaintiffs sought "to impose by judicial fiat" limits on carbon dioxide emissions that Congress and President Bush explicitly refused to mandate. "These actions present non-justiciable political questions that are consigned to the political branches, not the judiciary," Preska concluded.

Lockyer said the opposite is true. "When Congress has not taken action on a pressing environmental issue, states have the right to take legal action to protect themselves," Lockyer said in a press release responding to the dismissal. "We filed this lawsuit because global warming poses a serious threat to our environment, our public health, and our economy. We must act now, not later, to combat this threat."

Attorneys for the targeted power companies said they were not surprised by the dismissal. "We were curious why we were included in the first place," said Pat Hemlepp, spokesman for American Electric Power Co. of Columbus, Ohio. "We were doing much of what they were seeking through voluntary reductions of carbon dioxide." The other four companies named in the suit were Southern Co., Xcel Energy, Cinergy Corp. and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The companies own about 175 plants in 20 states that together emit about 652 million tons of carbon dioxide every year, roughly 25 percent of the carbon dioxide from power plants in the nation, according to the suit.



But the Greenie faithful still have hope. They've been waiting since 1987, when the treaty to ban CFCs was signed

The seasonal ozone hole over Antarctica has widened to a near-record size, at approximately 27 million square km, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said today.

Despite the statistic, WMO ozone expert Dr Geir Braathen did not expect the record measurement of 28 million square km, which was reached in 2003, to be broken. "We expect the size of the ozone hole to be in the same region as in 2000 and 2003 but not to break any record," Dr Braathen said at a press conference to mark the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. "It's too early to say the situation is improving," Braathen said. "Ozone depletion [is occurring] at a slower rate but we need five to 10 more years of observation."

The hole in the ozone layer is created by atmospheric conditions and pollution and fluctuates according to season and prevailing weather. Ozone, a molecule of oxygen, is a stratospheric shield for life on Earth, which filters out dangerous ultraviolet rays from the Sun that damage vegetation and can cause skin cancer and cataracts

More here

Lessons from Chicago

Over a hundred years ago, the entire city of Chicago was lifted up above the waterline. Why can't we do the same with New Orleans today?

Chicago was built on reclaimed swampland and much of the city is only a few feet above Lake Michigan's water surface. Getting fed up of constant flooding, inadequate sanitation and the threat of disease, something had to be done. In the mid-1850s, therefore, the city authorities introduced legislation to overcome the problem - that the streets be lifted. Over the next 20 years, the city was lifted up in the air, out of harms way, by between one and five metres. Famously, there are reports of the Tremont Hotel, a six-story building, being jacked up while the guests remained in their rooms. This remains one of the most amazing engineering feats of modern times. The flood risk was effectively eliminated.

However, just as work was being competed, a huge section of Chicago burned to the ground, decimating an area of some 2,000 acres. Sod's law. One third of the city's population of 300,000 inhabitants were made homeless. More than 17,000 buildings - $400million-worth of construction in the value of the day - were destroyed. Incredibly, the city wasn't defeated. The triumph of the original engineering solution increased the resolve that from this terrible destruction would arise a new city, and a new school of architecture.

The lessons learned provided an incentive to invent, manufacture and legislate for steel fire protection - something that had been unthought of before then. The city's great Columbian Exposition less than 20 years later featured the safety elevator that enabled designers to create the magnificent highrise skyline, much of which we still see today. Chicago's 'natural' disaster was used as a springboard to create new city.

Imagine if that disaster had happened today. Someone would be demanding to know why US President George W Bush had not invested in more research in the steel insulation industry; why nobody had risk assessed the chances of a cow kicking over a candle in a barn (reputed to be the cause of the fire, although there are suggestions of a porcine cover-up); or why so many descendants of immigrants were adversely affected. Probably, there would be major headlines about British backpackers traumatised by coming into contact with black people, and scientifically verifiable tales about how global warming, caused by the construction of the city in the first place, had created the tinderbox conditions for the conflagration.

More here


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

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

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


18 September, 2005


In further reference to the "Hurricane Maybes" article I mentioned yesterday, Benny Peiser ( writes:

"What strikes me about the latest Science study on hurricane intensity (see here and here) is the apparent failure to assess whether similar periods of storm intensity were observed in the past. This question is, of course, relevant for anyone who wishes to associate the rise in hurricane intensity with global warming. After all, if similar periods of 'intense' cyclone and hurricane activity occured when global mean temperatures were significantly lower than today, the alleged correlation between the current warming and storm intensity would be highly questionable.

I had a look at NOAA's historical hurricane statistics and found that the late 19th century appears to be a period of higher hurricane intensity (as measured by "Accumlated Cyclone Energy") compared to the late 20th century. I have attached the empirical evidence (two 35-year sets of ACE data) below and welcome any comments on the validity and possible implications of this comparison.

Accumlated Cyclone Energy (combines the numbers of systems, how long they existed and how intense they became):


1969 158........... 1877 73
1970 34............ 1878 181
1971 97............ 1879 64
1972 28............ 1880 131
1973 43............ 1881 59
1974 61............ 1882 63
1975 73............ 1883 67
1976 81............ 1884 72
1977 25.............1885 58
1978 62............ 1886 166
1979 91............ 1887 182
1980 147.......... .1888 85
1981 93.............1889 104
1982 29............ 1890 33
1983 17............ 1891 116
1984 71............ 1892 116
1985 88............ 1893 231
1986 36............ 1894 135
1987 34............ 1895 69
1988 103........... 1896 136
1989 135.......... .1897 55
1990 91............ 1898 113
1991 34............ 1899 150
1992 75............ 1900 84
1993 39............ 1901 93
1994 32............ 1902 33
1995 227........... 1903 102
1996 166........... 1904 25
1997 40............ 1905 28
1998 182............1906 163
1999 177............1907 13
2000 116........... 1908 95
2001 106........... 1909 92
2002 66............ 1910 64
2003 175........... 1911 36

35y average
86.6 ACE........ 93.9 ACE

So on that historical data, total hurricane energy was LESS in the late 20th and early 21st centuries than in the late 19th and early 20th. centuries.


Feisty Scottish blogger Neil Craig has managed to get a letter published in his local Glasgow newspaper as follows:

"It appears from media reports & Herald letters (2nd Sept) that the New Orleans debacle & rises in US petrol prices are going to blamed on global warming. This may be a marginal improvement from the era when King James VI & I blamed storms on witches but that is about all that can be said for it.

In fact it is clear that since records began (1851) the last decade has had a smaller than average number of hurricanes & that the highest point was in the 1941-50 decade. Like so many global warming stories the evidence disappears when you look properly at it.

To blame warming for the oil price hike in America is even more ridiculous. In fact oil shortage is caused by a shortage of refining capacity. For several years US refineries have been working at nearly 100% capacity - a situation that led several oil companies to propose building new or replacement refineries for reasons which must now be all to obvious. It was the Green/Luddite lobby which prevented refineries being built & it is therefore them, not putative warming, which is responsible for this part of the crisis.

It is obvious that this is a story that is going to get an inordinate amount of coverage in the next months. Already we see more reportage in one day of New Orleans than we have seen in six years of the 6 thousand genocidal murders carried out under NATO authority in Kosovo. It is therefore important that the facts be reported correctly rather than being spun into yet another anti-technology scare story".

The most interesting bit however was the table of official statistics about hurricane frequencies that Neil dug up. I reproduce the major findings from it below. The first column gives the total number of hurricanes in each decade and the second gives the number of major hurricanes. Can you see a trend there? Maybe there is but, if so, it is exactly the opposite of what the Greenies are proclaiming. Both total hurricanes and major hurricanes are if anything becoming FEWER. You have to have a lot of faith to be a Greenie:



Linking Katrina to 'Global Warming' Called 'Shameless'

"Environmentalists seeking to form a link between Hurricane Katrina and any human-caused climate change are engaged in "shameless opportunism," according to a spokesman for the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis. "That is pure politics," the Center's Sterling Burnett told Cybercast News Service Wednesday, 16 days after the hurricane demolished Gulf Coast towns in Louisiana and Mississippi and breached levees in New Orleans, resulting in the flooding of almost the entire city. "The science is pretty consistent in saying that we are seeing some increased hurricanes right now and it has nothing to do with climate change," Burnett said. "It has to do with natural cycles that fluctuate on the order of 10 to 30 years."

Burnett held a briefing at the National Press Club on Wednesday to release a study entitled "Living with Global Warming." The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) alleges that the costs of trying to prevent global warming far exceed any potential benefits. Burnett singled out environmentalists like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, who wrote the day after the hurricane hit New Orleans that "Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children" by failing to support treaties like the Kyoto Protocol.

The European Commission, the World Bank and some world leaders have also warned that U.S. failure to support the Kyoto Protocol, aimed at reducing greenhouse gases thought by many scientists to cause "global warming," will make future hurricanes worse. "They (environmentalists) should be ashamed of themselves. People living along the coast have enough to worry about," Burnett said. He added that green groups should stop "diverting attention from the real problems with hurricanes by pointing them towards chimera and ghosts -- these mythical things that they say are causing hurricanes.

"We should be directing our attention to the real problems these people face, helping people on the ground rather than squandering billions of dollars trying to prevent a marginal increase in global temperature, which will have no effect on hurricanes," he added. The Kyoto Protocol will also be prohibitively expensive for participating countries, Burnett argued, costing them an estimated $165 billion a year.

But David Tuft, campaign director for the Natural Resources Defense Council's Climate Center, said Hurricane Katrina was "an indicator" of future hurricanes if nothing is done to halt climate change.....

But Burnett of the NCPA noted that there were more severe hurricanes in the 1920s, 40s and 50s than in the 1990s. "According to climate scientists, we go through peaks and lulls of hurricanes. That's a natural cycle," Burnett said. "We know that hurricanes are going to happen no matter what we do. We should deal with them smarter in the future by not putting as many [people] at risk."

Increased hurricane activity and the tragic results from those hurricanes will probably last for another decade, Burnett said, "and it will have nothing to do with climate change. "It has to do with oscillations of the ocean," he added".

More here


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

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

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


17 September, 2005


There have been a few articles about a recent piece of scientific research which seems to show that hurricanes have become stronger if fewer in recent years. And so we get the inevitable link to global warming. But the further back you go towards the original research report, the more "maybes" you encounter. The article in The Times has a few ifs and buts about whether that villainous global warming might be the culprit but you get a lot more doubts when you look at the report from a science magazine that I reproduce below. Note also that climate scientist Roy Spencer seems to have been aware of the work concerned before it was published and commented as follows:

"There is some recent research that suggests that of all Atlantic and West Pacific tropical cyclones measured since the 1970's, a warming trend in sea surface temperatures has been accompanied by stronger and longer-lived storms. In fact, the increase in the total power generated by the storms that the study computed was actually much larger than could be accounted for by theory, suggesting changes in wind shear or other processes are operating in addition to just increased temperatures".

I have highlighted some of the maybes in red below. I have no doubt that the "more research is needed" conclusion will produce a juicy flow of research grants ($$$$$!) to the scientists concerned. I expect to have a couple more posts about the hurricane hullabaloo tomorrow.

"A study to be published tomorrow provides striking new evidence linking giant hurricanes such as Katrina-which devastated the Gulf of Mexico last month-to rising ocean temperatures, scientists say. That, the researchers added, provides new reason to study whether global warming is making hurricanes stronger, as some suspect. The evidence to date, while intriguing, doesn't prove the case, scientists said. This is partly because studies so far include only a few decades' worth of data, which isn't enough.

It's also because scientists lack a detailed explanation of how global warming would cause the hurricane trends seen so far. For instance, hurricanes are getting stronger, but not more frequent, and scientists don't know why. In general, it makes sense that higher temperatures would boost hurricane strength, many scientists say. Heat is energy, and energy drives hurricanes.

The study, to appear tomorrow in the research journal Science, is at least the second to link stronger hurricanes with rising temperatures. The link is statistical: as temperatures have risen, hurricanes have become more violent, the researchers said. Whether the first causes the second remains unproven. "What we found was rather astonishing," said Peter Webster of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Ga., lead author of the study. "In the 1970's, there was an average of about 10 Category 4 and 5 hurricanes per year globally. Since 1990, the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled, averaging 18 per year globally."

Category 4 hurricanes have sustained winds from 131 to 155 miles per hour; Category 5 systems, such as Hurricane Katrina at its peak over the Gulf of Mexico, feature winds of 156 mph or more. Katrina slammed its full force against the country blamed most widely for global warming-the United States. The warming is believed to be caused by increasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide a byproduct of human burning of fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum. The gases trap heat in the atmosphere. "Category 4 and 5 hurricanes made up about 20 percent of all hurricanes in the 1970's, but over the last decade they account for about 35 percent of these storms," said Georgia Tech's Judith Curry, a co-author of the study.

All this is happening as sea-surface temperatures are rising globally-from around one-half to one degree Fahrenheit, depending on the region, for hurricane seasons since the 1970s, the researchers said. "Our work is consistent with the concept that there is a relationship between increasing sea surface temperature and hurricane intensity," said Webster. "However, it's not a simple relationship. In fact, it's difficult to explain why the total number of hurricanes and their longevity has decreased during the last decade, when sea surface temperatures have risen the most."

The only region that is experiencing more hurricanes overall is the North Atlantic, where they have become more numerous and longer-lasting, especially since 1995, Webster said. The North Atlantic has averaged eight to nine hurricanes per year in the last decade, compared to the six to seven per year before the increase, the authors reported. Category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the North Atlantic have increased at an even faster clip: from 16 in the period of 1975-89 to 25 in the period of 1990-2004, a rise of 56 percent.

A study published in July in the journal Nature came to a similar conclusion. Focusing on North Atlantic and North Pacific hurricanes, Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. found an increase in their duration and power, although it used a different measurement to determine a storm's power.

To prove whether human-induced warming is cause the trend will require "a longer data record of hurricane statistics," Webster said. Also, "we need to understand more about the role hurricanes play in regulating the heat balance and circulation in the atmosphere and oceans." Computer simulations do show global warming would produce stronger hurricanes, researchers said. The new findings "will stimulate further research" into both natural and human-driven processes influencing hurricane trends, said Jay Fein, director of climate and large scale dynamics program at the National Science Foundation in Arlington, Va., which funded the research.

Webster is studying the role of hurricanes in climate. "The thing they do more than anything is cool the oceans by evaporating the water and then redistributing the oceans' tropical heat to higher latitudes," he said. "But we don't know a lot about how evaporation from the oceans' surface works when the winds get up to around 100 miles per hour, as they do in hurricanes." Understanding this is key to learning whether global warming is fueling hurricanes, he added. "If we can understand why the world sees about 85 named storms a year and not, for example, 200 or 25, then we might be able to say that what we're seeing is consistent with what we'd expect in a global warming scenario. Without this understanding, a forecast of the number and intensity of tropical storms in a future warmer world would be merely statistical extrapolation."


Greenies are always panicing that the oceans are getting bigger inflows of fresh water (from melting glaciers or whatever) these days and that this could have all sorts of dire effects. Good news folks! It ain't gonna happen. There's also a lot of salty water pouring in and the best guess is that eveything is stable on the overall salt front. A plain (well, plainish) English summary of the latest article from here follows and then I reproduce the abstract from the original academic journal article.

"There has been much speculation about how global warming might affect the large-scale thermohaline circulation of the oceans. Freshwater inputs to the North Atlantic Ocean have been increasing, and reduced surface water salinities here might retard deep water formation and slow deep ocean circulation in general. However, measurements have also revealed that the water supplied to the Arctic Ocean and Nordic Seas by the Atlantic Inflow have been increasing in salinity. By combining observations and results from a numerical Ocean General Circulation Model, Hatun et al. (p. 1841) show that the salinity of Atlantic Inflow is closely related to the strength of the North Atlantic subpolar gyre, and that these recent salinity increases could help stabilize thermohaline circulation".

Influence of the Atlantic Subpolar Gyre on the Thermohaline Circulation

By: Hjalmar Hatun, Anne Britt Sando, Helge Drange, Bogi Hansen, Hethinn Valdimarsson

During the past decade, record-high salinities have been observed in the Atlantic Inflow to the Nordic Seas and the Arctic Ocean, which feeds the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation (THC). This may counteract the observed long-term increase in freshwater supply to the area and tend to stabilize the North Atlantic THC. Here we show that the salinity of the Atlantic Inflow is tightly linked to the dynamics of the North Atlantic subpolar gyre circulation. Therefore, when assessing the future of the North Atlantic THC, it is essential that the dynamics of the subpolar gyre and its influence on the salinity are taken into account.

(The Doi (permanent) address for the full article above is here but does not seem to be working yet so this link can be used)


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

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

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


16 September, 2005


Excerpt from the L.A. Times, no less

In the wake of Hurricane Betsy 40 years ago, Congress approved a massive hurricane barrier to protect New Orleans from storm surges that could inundate the city. But the project, signed into law by President Johnson, was derailed in 1977 by an environmental lawsuit. Now the question is: Could that barrier have protected New Orleans from the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina? "If we had built the barriers, New Orleans would not be flooded," said Joseph Towers, the retired chief counsel for the Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans district.

Tower's view is endorsed by a former key senator, along with academic experts, who say a hurricane barrier is the only way to control the powerful storm surges that enter Lake Pontchartrain and threaten the city. Other experts are less sure, saying the barrier would have been no match for Katrina.

The project was stopped in its tracks when an environmental lawsuit won a federal injunction on the grounds that the Army's environmental impact statement was flawed. By the mid-1980s, the Corps of Engineers abandoned the project. The project faced formidable opposition not only from environmentalists but from regional government officials outside of New Orleans who argued that the barriers would choke commerce and harm marine life in ecologically sensitive Lake Pontchartrain.


An article from CO2 Science Magazine, 14 September 2005 shows that Greenland is in fact COOLING. This is a BIG scientific review article so I will reproduce below just a few paragraphs:

The data revealed that temperatures there during the Last Glacial Maximum approximately 25,000 years ago were 23 ± 2 °C colder than at present. After the termination of the glacial period, however, they rose to a maximum of 2.5°C warmer than at present, during the Holocene Climatic Optimum of 4,000 to 7,000 years ago. The Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age were also documented in the record, with temperatures 1°C warmer and 0.5-0.7°C colder than at present, respectively.

Finally, after the end of the Little Ice Age, they report that "temperatures reached a maximum around 1930," but that they "have decreased during the last decades." All of these observations clash with the hockeystick temperature history of Mann et al. (1998, 1999), which is used by the IPCC to make it appear that the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age were mere fables and that 20th-century warming "during the last decades" was unprecedented over the past one to two millennia and caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions....

Last of all, based on a study of climate data and remotely sensed sea ice concentrations, Laidre and Heide-Jorgensen (2005) report that "since 1970, the climate in West Greenland has cooled, reflected in both oceanographic and biological conditions," with the result that "Baffin Bay and Davis Strait display strong significant increasing trends in ice concentrations and extent, as high as 7.5% per decade between 1979 and 1996, with comparable increases detected back to 1953 (Parkinson et al., 1999; Deser et al., 2000; Parkinson, 2000a,b; Parkinson and Cavalieri, 2002; Stern and Heide-Jorgensen, 2003)." These trends, in their words, have led to increasing numbers of ice entrapment events, "where hundreds of narwhals [have] died during rapid sea ice formation caused by sudden cold periods (Siegastad and Heide-Jorgensen, 1994; Heide-Jorgensen et al., 2002)."

In conclusion, Greenland, like most of the rest of the world, is subject to a likely solar-induced millennial-scale oscillation of climate that produced a Medieval Warm Period there about a thousand years ago that was approximately 1°C warmer than what it is today; and in contrast to climate-alarmist claims, it has not experienced unprecedented warming over the past few decades. Rather, it has experienced cooling in most places. As a result, Greenland is anything but a shining example of what anthropogenic CO2 emissions might do to earth's climate. In fact, it's a good example of what they likely will not do, i.e., prevent cooling when some other more powerful factor nudges earth's climate in the opposite direction.


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

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

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


15 September, 2005


Greenies are constantly saying how native people live "in harmony" with nature. They are also horrified at any animal going extinct. But what if it was those "harmonious" natives who caused huge extinctions? Big problem. Easy solution: It was "climate change" that was the real villain of course! But the facts are not very co-operative:

"When, at least 12,000 years ago, human beings first crossed into North America from Siberia, the continent teemed with large animals. Today, of course, our only encounters with giant short-faced bears, enormous sloths and dozens of other such extinct species come in museums. On this much, archaeologists and paleontologists agree. The causes of this mass extinction, however, remain clouded by conflicting findings and holes in the archaeological record....

Two recent papers, both published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A., try to help settle the question. Todd Surovell and Nicole Waguespack of the University of Wyoming and P. Jeffrey Brantingham of the University of California, Los Angeles, studied the timing and location of Pleistocene encounters between humans and proboscideans (the order that includes mammoths, mastodons and elephants) and found evidence supporting the overkill hypothesis.....

Surovell, Waguespack and Brantingham outlined two possible extinction scenarios, one based on human overkill and the other on climate change. They then plugged into their models data from 41 archaeological sites in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas that contain remains of proboscideans hunted or scavenged by humans. If people hunted these animals to extinction, the authors argue, the kill sites should appear along the border between proboscidean and human ranges. So, as humans expanded south across North America, for example, the sites would also be located farther and farther south. If climate was the culprit, then people and proboscideans should have shared some of the same territory, at least until climate change shrunk proboscidean habitat. Thus, kill sites would be found both along and behind the frontier of human expansion.

The authors concluded that the location and age of the sites correlate closely with an overkill model. As humans moved north into Eurasia from Africa and, later, south from Alaska across the Americas, proboscidean range contracted correspondingly.

Climate change, then, cannot account for proboscidean extinction "unless one were to invoke serial climatic change that perfectly tracks human global colonization." The odds, they're saying, aren't good. Although the authors do not claim to have proved that humans drove other species to extinction, Surovell is skeptical of arguments for climate change. "I would like to see somebody explain how climate change could cause mass extinction on such a large geographical scale," he says. "Climate is constantly changing."....."

The article also points out that megafauna lived on in Australia longer than in North America and says that this rules out human causation for the extinctions. It does no such thing. It just shows that Australian Aborigines were less effective hunters than American Indians. And no-one who knows much about Australian Aborigines would be in great doubt about that. Would bows and arrows make you better hunters of megafauna? American Indians had them. Australian Aborigines did not

More here


Following is the abstract and conclusions of a forthcoming scientific paper from Russia

Arctic Siberia: refuge of the Mammoth fauna in the Holocene

By: Gennady G. Boeskorov, Mammoth Museum, Lenina prospekt 39, 677891 Yakutsk, Russian Federation


Global climate change at the end of Pleistocene led to extinction in the huge territories of Northern Eurasia of the typical representatives of the Mammoth fauna: mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, wild horse, bison, musk-ox, and cave lion. Undoubtedly the Mammoth fauna underwent pressure from Upper Paleolithic humans, whose hunting activity could also have played a role in decreasing the number of mammoths and other representatives of megafauna. Formerly it was supposed that the megafauna of the "Mammoth complex" had become extinct by the beginning of the Holocene. Nevertheless the latest data indicate that extinction of the Mammoth fauna was significantly delayed in the north of Eastern Siberia. In the 1990s some radiocarbon dates established that mammoths existed in the Holocene on Wrangel Island-from 7700 until 3700 yBP. Radiocarbon data show that wild horses inhabited the north of Eastern Siberia 4600-2000 yBP. Muskoxen lived here about 3000 yBP. Some bison remains from Eastern Siberia belong to the Holocene. The following circumstances could promote the survival of representatives of Mammoth fauna. Cool and dry climate in this region promotes the maintenance of steppe associations-the habitats of those mammals. Late Paleolithic and Mesolithic settlements are not found in the Arctic zone of Eastern Siberia from Taimyr Peninsula to the lower Yana River; they are very rare in basins of the Indigirka and Kolyma Rivers. The small number of Stone Age hunting tribes in the northern part of Eastern Siberia was probably another factor that contributed to the survival of some Mammoth fauna representatives.


New records and radiocarbon dates indicate that the extinction of the Mammoth fauna in Northern Eurasia between the Pleistocene and the Holocene was delayed in the north of Eastern Siberia. The following circumstances could promote the survival of representatives of the Mammoth fauna: (1) cool and dry climate of this region promotes the maintenance of steppe associations-habitats of those mammals; (2) some portions of the relict steppes exist now in Yakutia among taiga and tundra zones; (3) the larger number of Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic sites are found on the southern and central parts of Eastern Siberia and they are very rare in the north of this region (after Mochanov, 1977; Argunov, 1990; Fedoseeva, 1999). Late Paleolithic and Mesolithic settlements are not found in the Arctic zone of the Eastern Siberia mainland from Taimyr Peninsula to the lower parts of the Yana River; they are very rare in the basins of the Indigirka and Kolyma Rivers. Obviously this region was poorly settled by humans during the Late Pleistocene and the beginning of the Holocene (Fig. 1). So, the small number of hunting tribes of the Stone Age in the north of Eastern Siberia was probably another factor that contributed to the survival of some representatives of the Mammoth fauna.

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

French ecowarriors deflate SUVs

As the driver of a very small car myself, I regret that I must confess to some amusement at the report below. As well as my having a low fuel bill, easy parking and not being accused of anatomical deficiencies, my tyres will probably be unmolested!

"Drivers who park gas-guzzling 4x4s overnight in Paris are receiving an unpleasant surprise in the morning: flat tyres. A gang of young activists are deflating the tyres of what they regard as anti-social urban tanks which clog the narrow streets of the Left Bank. Claiming kinship with Greenpeace's war on motorised "climate criminals" in Britain, the group has immobilised dozens of Range Rovers, Mercedes, Jeeps and other upmarket quatre-quatres in the well-heeled sixth and seventh arrondissements since July.

To the amazement of furious owners, the police say that it is not a crime because property is not damaged. "We have had complaints, but it is not clear that any offence is being committed," said an officer at the sixth arrondissement. Owners may bring a civil action against the activists, who call themselves les Degonfles, the deflated ones, or in slang, the chickens or scaredycats. Thanks, in part, to their internet site (, which shows pictures of deflating raids, they say that they have spawned other groups in Lyon, Rouen, Geneva and even Australia.....

They expel the air slowly without setting off the vehicles' alarms, fixing open bicycle pump hoses to the tyre valves and returning later to collect their equipment. They leave a leaflet explaining their action. "Perhaps it's cowardly that we prefer to be anonymous, but we have received death threats," Joker added. "That's perfectly in keeping with the mentality of the 4x4 people who want to crush everything in their path."


I put up an email on this yesterday. Another reader has written in as follows:

"An interesting email about textbooks. I agree it's a racket of sorts, even with college level texts. The new edition of the textbook I use in one of my electronics courses is more or less the same as the previous edition, just a rearrangement with some cosmetic additions to make students buy new instead of used. However, this I don't agree with: "digital textbooks help save trees". Paper books are made from harvested trees, or recycled paper. I know of no real company that sells "forest products" will last long if they don't replant what they harvest. Trees are renewable."


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

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

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


14 September, 2005


For similar reasons

SO THERE IT IS, the underbelly of America - exposed. Hurricane Katrina has forced the middle classes in the United States to consider the dark side of the American dream: the poor, the black, the dispossessed, the "forgotten". For Americaphobes, the events of the past ten days have proved something of a feast. The subtext, and often the main text, of much of the reportage from New Orleans has been what a nasty, divided, unjust place the US has been revealed to be. Nature has overturned its smug certainties and left it reeling.

And it strikes me that there is more than a little smugness in the reporting as well. British journalism revelling in racial division the other side of the Atlantic rarely seems to trouble itself to look at the ethnic splits this side of the pond.

Imagine - and unfortunately it isn't too hard to do - a similar natural disaster striking here. The Times's weatherman Paul Simons drew the scenario last Saturday. With rising sea levels, a sinking city, the development of the Thames Gateway, which will see thousands of homes built on the flood plain, and the ageing of the Thames Barrier, a devastating flood in the capital is easily predictable. It very nearly happened in 1953, when a North Sea storm sent a bulge of water down the Channel and the Thames came to within an inch of bursting its banks in London.

To get an idea of the increasing threat, consider the fact that the flood barrier was raised only three times in the five years after it was opened in 1983; during the winter of 2000-01, it closed 24 times, and 20 times in 2002-03. And the barrier was only designed to protect against surge tides up to 2030.

So let's assume that the worst happens and the east of London is engulfed. Tower Hamlets, Stratford, and in the south, Lambeth would all be awash. Wealthier areas to the west might just be able to hold their heads above the water. Presumably many of the residents would have fled. But those without cars would find the Tube flooded. The earliest leaks would already have played havoc with the Underground's electricity supply.

And here's an American reporter, bristling with righteous indignation at the tragic sight of thousands upon thousands of the poorest people in Britain trapped in their decrepit homes. Or perhaps they might have taken refuge in the Olympic stadiums built for the 2012 Games in Stratford. What colour do you think these people would be?

Let's take a look at Newham, where the Olympic stadiums are being built. Sixty per cent of the population are not white; not far off the 67 per cent African-Americans in New Orleans. A third are Asian; another fifth black. Travel upriver and see the people of Lambeth: more than a quarter are black. In the neighbouring borough of Kensington and Chelsea, that falls to only 7 per cent. Or take a trip up the canals to the West Midlands. In Worcestershire, 97.5 per cent of the population is white; in neighbouring Birmingham, that falls by a third. And within the city, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis inhabit their own separate enclaves from the wealthier white suburbs. And what were we saying about racial ghettos in the United States?

Let us not be complacent about our own society. We pile our social problems into ghettos of our own, which most Britons do not breach. In America, 24.7 per cent of black people live below the poverty line, compared with 8.6 per cent of whites and a national average of 12.7 per cent. In Britain, according to the Office for National Statistics, 68 per cent of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are living in low-income households, and a barely more creditable 49 per cent of black Caribbeans, compared with 21 per cent of whites. They may be measuring different things, but the ratios are similar.

Unemployment among Bangladeshi, Pakistani and black men is three times the rate for white British men. And look at the jobs that they do: one in three Bangladeshi men, according to the 2002-03 labour force survey, are cooks or waiters, compared with one in 100 white British men. Around one in ten black African women is a nurse, compared with around one in 30 whites. Pakistani women are eight times more likely than white British women to be working as packers, bottlers and canners, while Indian women are seven times more likely than their white counterparts to be working as sewing machinists. They may not be living among us, but they feed, drive, clothe and care for us. Wouldn't it be nice if the country could do the same for them?

Government websites are strewn with statistics proving the disadvantages of our ethnic minorities. None of these figures is new. Education? Three times as many exclusions among black Caribbean pupils as among whites, and, for boys, half as many GCSE passes at grade A-C. Crime? Blacks, Asians and, especially, those of mixed race are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than whites. And health? Now here is an interesting omission. Britain does not register mortality rates by ethnic group, so that it is impossible to compare how long our different ethnic groups live. Given the frighteningly high rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease among black Caribbeans, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, you can bet it would make shameful reading, but - or perhaps that should read, so - the Government refuses to collect the information.

The only vaguely meaningful comparison is rates of infant mortality, recorded according to the place of the mother's birth, by no means a precise indicator of ethnicity. These show, however, that in 2002 in England and Wales, of children born to a mother herself born in the UK, 7.8 per 1,000 die within three months. This rises to 10.5 for mothers born in Bangladesh, 10.6 for mothers born in India, 14.5 for mothers born in Pakistan and 15.4 for mothers born in the Caribbean.

So tell me, again, what do we have to be smug about? I look forward to seeing all those television reporters currently flooding the American South filing earnest reports about Britain's divided society when they get home.



"I am a recent college graduate concerned about the environmental impact of printing millions of college textbooks every year. Although I bought used textbooks whenever possible, I frequently had to buy new textbooks to keep up with new editions or to get supplemental software.

However, I recently joined a company called Zinio that provides digital textbooks to college students. These digital textbooks are exact replicas of the new printed version, but are offered to students at half the price. They also have many useful digital features such as the ability to search, take digital notes, and use multimedia embedded directly into the page. Most importantly, since they require no physical production, digital textbooks help save trees and eliminate waste.

Most of my friends who have tried Zinio digital textbooks have really liked them. If you think any of your readers might be interested in digital textbooks, I encourage you spread the word. If you're curious to see what the textbooks look like, please have a look at our website: . Also, feel free to send us feedback at ".


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

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

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


13 September, 2005


But there's not much we can do about most of them

Surprised by Hurricane Katrina's destruction of New Orleans and the problem-plagued recovery, experts are revisiting with a new concern the risks posed by everything from killer asteroids to ocean-shaking landslides. They also are considering a haunting new question: How can a disaster as widely predicted and slow-moving as a storm still pack such a devastating surprise in the United States? "Hurricanes happen with some regularity and we can't deal with them. How can we deal with an earthquake?" said Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a specialist in uncertainty and risk at the University of Massachusetts. "We have a problem."

The potential catalog of calamities considered by scientists starts with the near-certainty of a major earthquake on California's San Andreas fault, and proceeds to far-shot catastrophes such as an Atlantic Ocean tsunami triggered by a volcanic landslide.

Then there are the "near-earth objects" and "supervolcanoes" -- seen as tiny risks now despite a geologic record of life-altering catastrophe. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which tracks asteroids at risk of hitting Earth lists three for "careful monitoring." Those include a mass 350 yards (320 metres) in diameter given a 1-in-5,560 chance of crashing here in April 2036, the nearest collision window of the asteroids most closely watched. Steve Chesley, a NASA astronomer, said none of the 1,200 or so near asteroids that are larger than 1,100 yards (1 km) are on the watch list -- good news since it is believed it would take an object of that size to deliver a climate-changing blow to the planet. Many scientists believe that an impact near Mexico's Yucatan peninsula led to the extinction of the dinosaurs, by ejecting dust and particles into the atmosphere which chilled the planet for several years. Even so, Chesley said, a medium-sized asteroid of the kind that top NASA's watch list would be "absolutely capable of causing damage across several states, for example."


Asia's deadly tsunami in December focused attention on the risk from the huge waves triggered by earthquakes and other events of equal power. Steven Ward, a geophysicist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has studied the threat of a tsunami if the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted in the Canary Islands. Such an outburst, he projects, could cause a steep block of the island of La Palma to break off and crash to the ocean floor, touching off a rare Atlantic tsunami. The worst-case rupture could send waves of up to 300 feet (100 metres) to the African coast within an hour and 75 feet (25 metres) tall to the beaches of Florida after nine hours. "These things do happen," Ward said.

Then there is the scenario in which a little-recognized volcano under Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming erupts again. The volcano spit out enough debris in a massive burst 2.1 million years ago to bury Texas with 12 feet of ash. The risk of any eruption in the next hundreds of years is seen as very small, but the prospect of a killer blast drew attention after a 2003 BBC "docudrama" on the subject. "My dad always used to joke that more people probably die of tripping on their shoelaces than from volcanoes," said Smithsonian Institution volcano expert Rick Wunderman. "But we'd like to look ahead and know what's coming -- just like with this hurricane."

The closest thing to a sure-bet US disaster awaits in California, experts agree. A magnitude 7.5 quake under Los Angeles could kill as many as 18,000 and cost $250 billion, according to computer models. Meanwhile, the state's San Andreas fault is seen certain to at some point set off a magnitude 8 quake, possibly more powerful than the quake that destroyed San Francisco in 1906. That would cut off the water and natural gas flows into Los Angeles, sever road and rail ties and effectively strand a region with 10 times the population of New Orleans, said Lucy Jones, a scientist with the US Geological Survey. "It is absolutely when and not if," she said, urging residents to take steps now to recognize the risk and prepare. "I'll bet most people in L.A. don't have a store of water."



Spain: "The Valencian regional government ordered the temporary closure of a glass factory on Tuesday, alleging that it failed to comply with the regulations set by the Kyoto Treaty, which came into effect in February. It is the first time that the Spanish government has taken such a stringent action against an alleged environmental violation. According to Valencian authorities, Vidrios Benigamin did not apply for permission to emit carbon dioxide gas prior to the January 1 deadline. It ordered the company to shut down temporarily, and pay a fine of EUR100,000.

The Kyoto Treaty stipulates that all firms emitting greenhouse gases must be registered. Teresa Vano, who runs the glass maker, nevertheless said that the company had applied for permission in July 2004, but that the regional government never notified the company of a pending sanction. Sources at the Valencian government insisted that Benigàmin had not applied for permission, and that it received a warning in September 2004.

At present, Spain is the worst offender of the international environmental treaty. In May, reports from WorldWatch showed that emissions last year were about 46 percent above levels in 1990. According to the Kyoto Treaty, Spanish levels should increase by only 15 percent over the 1990 figure by between 2008 and 2012.



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

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

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


12 September, 2005


We already know how this is going to end. The American economy will shiver a bit, stagger slightly, adjust itself and absorb the cost of Katrina. The miserable scumbags who exploited the misery and interfered with the rescue will be arrested, run off or shot. CNN may get over its hyperventilating, indignant surprise that food, drink and comfort could not be instantly delivered to those who, for whatever reason, remained in the danger zone despite warnings.

We will learn painful lessons from mistakes and failures that will enable the remarkable rescue apparatus we have devised to work better next time.

Slowly the little stories of personal heroism and common decency in the face of misery and chaos will come out. As usual, the Salvation Army will have performed its sacrificial work with hardly a notice from anyone. And scores of religious groups, churches, synagogues and other organizations like the Red Cross will have brought the essentials of help, from cots to coffee, to those suffering at the ground level of this terrible disaster. The grim business of finding and identifying the bodies will come to its slow, painful finish.

The strain on oil supply will subside and gasoline prices will retreat. The economic power plus personal altruism of Americans, which funneled more than a billion dollars in non-governmental aid to the victims of last year's Pacific tsunami, will outdo itself. Yes, millions of dollars will be wasted, misdirected, misspent, stolen. Politics will be played. The media will yammer endlessly. And yet the necessary relief will be delivered.

Lost heirlooms will mysteriously show up in antique stores and flea markets. "Flood" cars will be refurbished and show up on used car lots all over the country.

The Gulf Coast will build over its scars. The viscera of New Orleans will be repaired and restored but the city will never be the same again. The looted shelves of the Wal-Mart will be restocked. Houses will be bulldozed and rebuilt. The casinos will be back in business. Slowly, mysteriously, miraculously the detritus of the hurricane will be cleaned up, trucked away or recycled.

Within the miracle of the market, it will be rediscovered that, indeed (in the 16th century observation of John Heywood) it is "an ill wind that bloweth no man good." Production of everything from the most mundane essentials to the most effete luxuries will increase. There will be work for those who want it.

We will learn or relearn many things about ourselves -- not all good, not all tidy. It will be remembered that we made this unseemly and unexpected passage with perhaps a little too much self-doubt, a little too much impatience and nastiness, a little too much evidence of how spoiled, how forgetful, how complacent before nature we have become.

Nothing can mitigate the loss of loved ones, nor completely assuage the something that is torn from within when a home, however humble, is suddenly, literally gone with the wind and water. The whole force of who we are as a nation tells us that this time of disaster and chaos, which now looms so large, will not bring us to our knees, but will join other disasters as a vivid memory and a sobering history lesson.



By Dr. Roy W. Spencer, Principal Research Scientist, University of Alabama

Hurricane intensity and track forecasts for Hurricane Katrina were, from a historical perspective, pretty darn accurate. Early forecasts had the hurricane tracking farther east in the Florida panhandle. But as of 11 p.m. Saturday night (48 hours before high winds started reaching the coast of Louisiana) the National Hurricane Center (NHC) was forecasting an "intense hurricane". The forecast track issued at that time was almost dead-center on the eventual landfall location. Katrina ended up intensifying and moving more rapidly than normal, leading to less lead time than would have been desired for the warned areas.

Nevertheless, warnings of a "catastrophic event" were made in time for virtually all of the people who were willing and able to leave New Orleans and coastal areas to do so. Most people did indeed leave the warned areas -- but not all of them. NHC makes it a special point in the case of especially broad hurricanes such as Katrina to tell people to not focus on the exact forecast track of the eye since such a broad area will be impacted anyway.

How Did Katrina Rank?

From a meteorological perspective, Katrina was unusually intense and large, but not unprecedented. At one point it had the fourth lowest recorded air pressure for an Atlantic hurricane (902 mb, or 26.64 inches), but this statistic should be taken with a grain of salt since we have only a few decades of good measurements, and many systems that do not threaten land are never measured directly. At initial landfall southeast of New Orleans, Katrina was a category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds estimated at 145 mph.

The Galveston Hurricane of 1900, also estimated to be a category 4 storm, caused over 6,000 deaths. This is commonly considered to be the greatest natural disaster in U.S. history. The much lower casualty figures for modern hurricanes, even in the face of explosive population growth in hurricane prone areas, is a testament to current satellite, weather forecasting, communications, and transportation technologies. Were it not for modern technology, we could well experience what Bangladesh has endured in the not too distant past -- an estimated 300,000 to one million dead from a 1970 tropical cyclone. Tropical cyclone disasters with 10,000+ dead are not uncommon there.

Adjusted to 2004 dollars, Hurricane Andrew of 1992 was the costliest hurricane on record, at about $44 billion. It remains to be seen whether the Katrina event will exceed this record. If it does, it will be more attributable to the desire of so many people to live and build in coastal areas than to the inherent strength of the hurricane itself. Indeed, if we ask the question, "which land falling hurricane in U.S. history would be the most expensive if it happened today?" the clear front-runner would be the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926. It is estimated that, if that hurricane occurred today, the costs would reach about $110 billion.

Global Warming and Hurricanes

There is some recent research that suggests that of all Atlantic and West Pacific tropical cyclones measured since the 1970's, a warming trend in sea surface temperatures has been accompanied by stronger and longer-lived storms. In fact, the increase in the total power generated by the storms that the study computed was actually much larger than could be accounted for by theory, suggesting changes in wind shear or other processes are operating in addition to just increased temperatures. (Unpublished results by the same researcher suggests, however, that this trend was not apparent in land falling hurricanes since the 1970's).

Given the recent work, how should we view the role of global warming? First, we know that category 4, and even category 5, storms have always occurred, and will continue to occur, with or without the help of humans, as the above examples demonstrate. Therefore, if we are prepared for what nature can throw at us, we will be prepared for the possible small increase in hurricane activity that some studies have suggested could occur with man-made global warming. To suggest that Katrina was caused by mankind is not only grossly misleading, it also obscures the real issues that need to be addressed, even in the absence of global warming. From a practical point of view, there is little that we can do in the near term to avert much if any future warming anyway, no matter what you believe that warming will be, including participating in the Kyoto Protocol. So why even bring it up (other than through political, philosophical, or financial motivation)?

Living with the Risk

It has long been known that New Orleans was at greater risk of catastrophe than most coastal areas, especially from flooding and the hurricane storm surge. While the storm surge itself is not what inundated the city, it was responsible for the levee failures that then caused flooding over the couple of days following the hurricane.

Another geographical area of concern is the U.S. 1 evacuation route out of the Florida keys. A rapidly approaching and intensifying hurricane in this area could also lead to a great loss of life.

The only way to completely avoid the loss of life and property in these areas is for people to not live there, and for businesses to not operate there. The stark reality, however, is that this will not happen. People in these areas live at greater risk than most of the rest of the country, and they will continue to in the future. No human endeavor is risk-free, and coastal residents simply take greater risks than most of the rest of us. As long as weather forecasts are not perfect, and as long as severe weather events are (necessarily) over-warned, weather disasters will continue to happen.

More here


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

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

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


11 September, 2005


The following alarmist story seems to have got a lot of publicity. It is related to an experiment I mentioned yesterday about release of CO2 from soil but offers apparently much higher quality data. I will leave it to people expert in the field to do a serious critique of it but a few preliminary notes anyway: 1). The most important I think is that the permanent sequestration (trapping) or not of CO2 in the soil is not a major concern anyway. The principal effect of higher CO2 should be greater growth in plants of all sorts ABOVE ground. And forests in many places in the developed world have in fact expanded in recent years. 2). Additionally, a large part of the takeup of CO2 is in the oceans so is not addressed by the study below. 3). As the great increase in atmospheric methane that I mentioned yesterday has not led to runaway global warming, it is unlikely that a relatively unimportant greenhouse gas like CO2 would have much effect even if levels did substantially rise -- which they have not done so far (particularly when compared with methane).

"Present forecasts of climate change could be seriously underestimated because of huge amounts of carbon pouring out of the earth. A unique soil study in Britain produced results that came as a shock to scientists, who said the effect was probably happening in other parts of the world, especially in temperate regions with wet, peaty soils.

Experts had assumed that about 25 per cent of total human carbon emissions were mopped up by vegetation which then dies, locking the carbon into the soil. But they had not reckoned on the extent to which soil bacteria work on compost, and release the carbon back into the atmosphere. The new research indicates that the amount of carbon being released from soil is enough to cancel out all the carbon dioxide emission reductions achieved by Britain between 1990 and 2002.

The study found that in England and Wales the soil lost carbon at a rate of 0.6 per cent a year between 1978 and 2003. Extrapolated to the whole of Britain it amounted to annual carbon losses of 13 million tonnes - equivalent to 8 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions from British industry in 1990.

Guy Kirk, from Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, said: "Our findings suggest that the soil part of the equation is scarier than had been thought. If the 25 per cent is going to go, it means we've got 25 per cent more carbon to worry about. We should be concerned, for sure . If we don't do something about it, global warming will accelerate and the consequences will be disaster."

The findings, published in the journal Nature, were presented yesterday at the BA Festival of Science at Trinity College, Dublin. The National Soil Inventory survey involved taking and analysing soil samples from 5600 sites in England and Wales. Samples were checked for their carbon content in 1978 and again in 2003. Soils with a higher carbon content were found to be losing their carbon at a higher rate. Most of the carbon escaped as carbon dioxide. It was recognised that in about 50 years the amount of carbon coming out of the soil would catch up with the amount going in.

There was little that could be done to tackle the problem without addressing the fundamental question of human carbon dioxide emissions, Professor Kirk said. "If you were prepared to turn the whole of arable England back to trees that would work, but it's not practical," he said. German experts Ernest Detlef Schulze and Annette Freibauer, from the Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, wrote in an accompanying commentary in Nature that the scientific and political implications of the new findings were considerable. "If we intend to stabilise the climate, such areas require much more serious consideration," they wrote.


Pascal's Blunder: Miscalculating the Threat of Global Warming

Prominent religious voices in America, especially among evangelical Christians, are increasingly being heard in the debate over global warming. More often than not, evangelicals - many of whom could easily be described as political and cultural conservatives - see climate change as a man-made problem. The National Association of Evangelicals, a coalition representing 52 member denominations, called on policymakers in October to pay more attention to the problem of "environmental degradation" in its landmark statement, "For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility." In a recent presentation to the NAE, Sir John Houghton, Britain's leading climatologist, said, "The rise in global average temperature (and the rate of rise) that has occurred during the 20th century is well outside the range of known natural variability."

Identifying human society as the culprit behind global warming is fast approaching the level of accepted dogma in evangelical circles, as a recent article by Andy Crouch in Christianity Today confirms. Crouch argues that global warming theory, "is taken for granted by nearly every scientist working in the field," and that there is "no serious disagreement among scientists that human beings are playing a major role in global warming." Crouch criticizes the Bush administration's "indifference" on the issue, noting the basis for caution in the questions of "a few vocal skeptics."

It's ironic that Crouch finds the source of evangelical distrust of scientific global warming dogma in the contemporary creation/evolution debates. If there's any group that should know about the difficulty of breaking through the groupthink of mainstream science, it ought to be the proponents of Intelligent Design.

Crouch goes on to compare the global warming debate to Pascal's wager, the famous theological contention that to "believe in God though he does not exist" is to "lose nothing in the end. Fail to believe when he does in fact exist, and you lose everything." In the place of God in Crouch's version of the wager, however, is global warming.

The problem with this analogy is that Pascal's wager is only valid when placed within the context of the eternal and the ultimate. When it is applied to everyday issues, it quickly loses its persuasive power. Crouch's contention that "we have little to lose" if we exaggerate the threat of global warming displays no recognition of the reality of the future impact of unduly restrictive political policies and environmental regulations.

Vernon L. Smith, a Nobel laureate and professor of economics and law at George Mason University, recognizes the economic concerns that are often overlooked. He writes, "If we ignore this rule of optimality and begin abatement now for damages caused by emissions after 100 years, we leave our descendants with fewer resources - 100 years of return on the abatement costs not incurred - to devote to subsequent damage control. The critical oversight here is the failure to respect opportunity cost. Each generation must be responsible for the future effect of that generation's emission damage. Earlier generations have the responsibility of leaving subsequent generations a capital stock that has not been diminished by incurring premature abatement costs."

Thomas C. Schelling, a professor at the University of Maryland, agrees, "Future generations will be much richer than current ones, and it thus makes no sense to make current generations `pay' for the problems of future generations." Smith and Schelling participated in what is known as the Copenhagen Consensus of 2004, convened by environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg. This process helped to prioritize ten of the most critical global challenges. The threat of global warming was consistently ranked last or second-to-last by each of the experts, while concerns like communicable diseases (control of HIV/AIDS), malnutrition and hunger (providing micronutrients), and subsidies and trade (trade liberalization), topped the list.

Smith's analysis exposes the critical flaw in Crouch's argument: the false dilemma of action now or cataclysm later. What we do know for sure is that if we commit resources now to fight global warming that could otherwise be spent on programs of immediate need, millions will suffer and die needlessly. I can think of no better way of reckoning with Christ's admonition, "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34 NIV).



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

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

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


10 September, 2005


In an exclusive analysis by The Global Language Monitor, the worldwide media was found to abound in Apocalyptic-type terminology in its coverage of the unfolding disaster of Hurricane Katrina in the American Gulf States. Using its proprietary PQI (Predictive Quantities Indicator) algorithm, GLM found the ominous references to include: Disaster, Biblical, Global Warming, Hiroshima/Nuclear bomb, Catastrophe, Holocaust, Apocalypse, and End-of-the-World. "These alarmist references are coming across the spectrum of print and electronic media, and the internet," said Paul JJ Payack, president of GLM. "The world appears stunned that the only remaining super power has apparently been humbled, on its own soil, by the forces of nature."

The global media are mesmerized by the constant bombardment of television images of apparently rampaging, out-of-control elements, apparently in control of a good part of New Orleans, as well as the inability of the authorities to keep their own people fed, sheltered, evacuated, and, even, from dying on the street.

'Refugee vs. 'Evacuee': GLM's analysis found, for example, that the term for the displaced, refugees, that is usually associated with places like the Sudan and Afghanistan, appeared 5 times more frequently in the global media than the more neutral 'evacuees,' which was cited as racially motivated by some of the Black leadership. Accordingly, most of the major media outlets in the U.S. eliminated the usage of the word 'refugees' with a few exceptions, most notably, the New York Times.

The September 3 edition of The Times (London) has a story to illustrate the current state of affairs. The head: "Devastation that could send an area the size of England back to the Stone Age." The first 100 words sum up the pervasive mood found in the GLMs analysis of the Global Media.

"AMERICA comes to an end in Montgomery, Alabama. For the next 265 miles to the Gulf Coast, it has been replaced by a dangerous and paranoid post-apocalyptic landscape, short of all the things fuel, phones, water and electricity needed to keep the 21st century switched on. By the time you reach Waveland, Mississippi, the coastal town of 6,800 where corpses lie amid a scene of Biblical devastation, any semblance of modern society has gone. "

According to GLM's analysis, the most frequently used terms associated with Hurricane Katrina in the global media with examples follow. The terms are listed in order of relative frequency.

* Disaster -- The most common, and perhaps neutral, description. Literally 'against the stars' in Latin. Example: "Disaster bares divisions of race and class across the Gulf states". Toronto Globe and Mail.

* Biblical -- Used as an adjective. Referring to the scenes of death, destruction and mayhem chronicled in the Bible. " ...a town of 6,800 where corpses lie amid a scene of Biblical devastation". (The Times, London)

* Global Warming -- The idea that the hand of man was directly responsible for the catastrophe, as opposed to the more neutral climate change. "...German Environmental Minister Jrgen Trittin remains stolid in his assertion that Hurricane Katrina is linked to global warming and America's refusal to reduce emissions." (Der Spiegel)

* Hiroshima/Nuclear Destruction -- Fresh in the mind of the media, following the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. "Struggling with what he calls Hurricane Katrina's nuclear destruction, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour shows the emotional strain of leading a state through a disaster of biblical proportions". (Associated Press).

* Catastrophe -- Sudden, often disastrous overturning, ruin, or undoing of a system. "In the Face of Catastrophe, Sites Offer Helping Hands". (Washington Post)

* Holocaust -- Because of historical association, the word is seldom used to refer to death brought about by natural causes. " December's Asian catastrophe should have elevated "tsunami" practically to the level of "holocaust" in the world vocabulary, implying a loss of life beyond compare and as callous as this might make us seem, Katrina was many things, but "our tsunami" she wasn't. (Henderson [NC] Dispatch)

* Apocalypse -- Referring to the prophetic visions of the imminent destruction of the world, as found in the Book of Revelations. " Call it apocalyptic. Whatever you want to call it, take your pick. There were bodies floating past my front door. " said Robert Lewis, who was rescued as floodwaters invaded his home. (Reuters)

* End of the World -- End-time scenarios which presage the Apocalypse. " "This is like time has stopped Its like the end of the world." (Columbus Dispatch)

Then there are those in the media linking Katrina with the direct intervention of the hand of an angry or vengeful God, though not necessarily aligned with Americas enemies. "The Terrorist Katrina is One of the Soldiers of Allah, But Not an Adherent of Al-Qaeda," was written by a high-ranking Kuwaiti official, Muhammad Yousef Al-Mlaifi, director of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Endowment's research center. It was published in Al-Siyassa. (Kuwait).



Initial comment: Some people are beginning to realize that if we are going to blame global warming on gas emissions caused by humans, methane is actually a much more likely candidate than CO2. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and is emitted in the course of many types of food production so with the huge rise in food production to feed the huge rise in human population over the last 100 years, we should all by frying by now according to Greenie logic. That we are not shows the importance of feedback mechanisms: Methane is readily oxidized (most of our gas stoves wouldn't work if it wasn't!) and CO2 is taken up by plants under photosynthesis. So we are beginning to see a few papers in response to that logic. One of them is below:

Unexpected Changes to the Global Methane Budget over the Past 2000 Years

By Ferretti et al.

We report a 2000-year Antarctic ice-core record of stable carbon isotope measurements in atmospheric methane (delta13CH4). Large delta13CH4 variations indicate that the methane budget varied unexpectedly during the late preindustrial Holocene (circa 0 to 1700 A.D.), . During the first thousand years (0 to 1000 A.D.), delta13CH4 was at least 2 per mil enriched compared to expected values, and during the following 700 years, an about 2 per mil depletion occurred. Our modeled methane source partitioning implies that biomass burning emissions were high from 0 to 1000 A.D. but reduced by almost plus or minus 40% over the next 700 years. We suggest that both human activities and natural climate change influenced preindustrial biomass burning emissions and that these emissions have been previously understated in late preindustrial Holocene methane budget research.

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

Below is a more plain-english summary of the same paper:

The atmospheric concentration of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, has risen from approximately 600 parts per billion (ppb) to more than 1700 ppb between 1750 and 2005 A.D., due mostly to a combination of biomass and fossil-fuel burning, land-use changes, and climate change. However, in the preindustrial past, human activity had a large impact on the global methane budget. Ferretti et al. (p. 1714) analyzed the isotopic composition of carbon in methane trapped in bubbles in a rapidly accumulating ice core from Antarctica. Large isotopic variations occurred between 1000 and 1700 A.D., despite the relatively stable atmospheric methane concentration during that time. They also found that the carbon-isotopic composition of preindustrial methane was much more depleted in the heavy isotope 13C than expected, especially during the period from 1 to 1000 A.D. They attribute these behaviors to changes in biomass burning emissions, driven by both climatic variation and human population dynamics.

Comment: So what the above study confirms is that, despite feedback mechanisms, methane concentrations HAVE increased in the industrial era -- almost trebled. Yet we are still not all frying to death! Why? A good question. It shows how dumb are simplistic theories about greenhouse gases. And the fact that there was a previous big rise in methane way back before the industrial era reinforces even more that much of what we supposedly "know" is actually guesswork.

On to another academic paper:

Rising Atmospheric CO2 Reduces Sequestration of Root-Derived Soil Carbon

By James Heath, Edward Ayres et al.

Forests have a key role as carbon sinks, which could potentially mitigate the continuing increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and associated climate change. We show that carbon dioxide enrichment, although causing short-term growth stimulation in a range of European tree species, also leads to an increase in soil microbial respiration and a marked decline in sequestration of root-derived carbon in the soil. These findings indicate that, should similar processes operate in forest ecosystems, the size of the annual terrestrial carbon sink may be substantially reduced, resulting in a positive feedback on the rate of increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration.

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

Comment: This paper is an experiment with CO2 feedback mechanisms. It shows that increased atmospheric CO2 is indeed taken up by trees -- stimulating their growth. It also shows, however, that this extra growth somehow liberates yet more CO2 from the soil. So the conclusion is that we cannot rely on trees to soak up extra CO2. The paper is appropriately cautious, however, in admitting that they have not reproduced real-life forest conditions and it would also appear that the authors have not explored the feedback mechanism very far. One might reasonably suppose that the amount of CO2 available in the soil is finite so the liberation of soil CO2 could drop off after a while and that ALL the extra CO2 should then be transferred into tree 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 to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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

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


9 September, 2005


"Sustainable" versus "organic"

Shoppers attracted to organic fruits and vegetables but repelled by their bank account-busting prices may soon have an alternative. That's the hope of environmentalists, farmers and public officials pushing to certify, label and market produce grown according to a set of agricultural standards labeled as sustainable. Certified growers must meet requirements regarding soil management, water quality, wildlife protection and labor practices, as well as pesticide use. Supporters say the produce labeled as "sustainable" will be more affordable than organic fruits and vegetables. "We're trying to get to those consumers in the middle," said Cheryl Brickey, executive director of Protected Harvest, a Maryland-based nonprofit that certifies produce as being grown according to the practices. Brickey said too many Americans can't afford to pay top dollar for organic produce: "We're trying to break that barrier."

The group also will have to break into one of the largest produce markets in the country and faces opposition from a well-establish organic industry that doesn't welcome the competition. "These new eco-label and verification schemes tend to really just muddy the waters with questions," said Jake Lewin, a director of marketing at California Certified Organic Farmers, an organic certification and trade group. "It's not clear to consumers, 'What is this product and why should you want it?'"

This summer, Protected Harvest received about $500,000 in grants from state and federal agencies to help fund the labeling system. The money will support the development of standards for a brand of so-called sustainable tomatoes in California, billed as the 'Sacratomato' because the produce is grown in fields near the state capital. The group also has plans to certify sustainable strawberry, plum and nectarine farms. Seven vineyards already have the Protected Harvest certification.

The programs are modeled after the "Healthy Grown" potato, a sustainable russet grown in Wisconsin and certified by Protected Harvest. The group said there are 6,500 acres enrolled in that program, and farmers there used about 54 percent fewer toxic chemicals than the industry standard on that land. Bruce Rominger, a tomato farmer outside Sacramento, will be one of the first to grow the Sacratomato, which will initially be marketed to processing plants. He said he doesn't want his tomatoes to be niche products. He thinks the benefit of sustainable certification is that the label is designed to be practical and profitable for large operations.

Protected Harvest's certification program does not prohibit farmers from using synthetic pesticides [Naughty, naughty, naughty!] - one of the most notable differences between it and organic certification. Farmers are scored on their pesticide practices and are asked to do detailed research before applying chemicals. Less is better, but other factors are considered, Rominger said. "If you can't use chemical herbicide, you have to kill those weeds some other way," he said. "One way is to go out with a tractor and cut them out, but that costs you money, too, and you're burning diesel and you're stirring up the ground and could be causing erosion."

Much more here

Global Deaths & Death Rates Due to Extreme Weather Events, 1900-2004

Excerpt from an amazing posting on The Commons blog

We are constantly bombarded with claims that weather-related events will get worse over time, at least in part because of global warming. So one should expect that aggregate deaths and death rates due to weather-related extreme events worldwide would have trended upward in recent decades. But do they?

The following bar chart shows (approximate) aggregate trends in these critical measures between 1900 and 2004 for "weather-related extreme events", namely, droughts, extreme temperatures (both extreme heat and extreme cold), floods, landslides, waves and surges, wild fires and wind storms of different types.


Yes, there is a trend here, but is it upward?

This, of course, begs the question as to why, if the globe is warming, matters aren't getting worse?

Curves like this illustrate that due diligence requires that analyses and/or claims of future impacts should be accompanied, at a minimum, by checks of whether their future projections match with past reality. Of course, as your mutual fund advisor will tell you, "past results are not necessarily indicative of future performance." True, but one should have to reconcile the two, matching the past and the present with the future. And this goes not just for impacts (e.g., deaths and death rates) but also assumptions that feed into impacts assessments. For example, how reasonable is an assumption of 1 percent growth per year in carbon dioxide concentrations when historically it has averaged 0.40 percent per year from 1959 to 2004, during which period it only once exceeded 0.75 percent (year-to-year increase)?


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

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

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


8 September, 2005


From an interview with Prof. Carl Djerassi that appeared in the Brisbane "Courier Mail" on Sept., 7th, 2005:

The professor and I were talking about sex. Lots of sex. A hundred million acts of sexual intercourse every 24 hours. "That's not just in Australia," he said, seeing my eyes widen. "That's around the world," said the man responsible for the first synthesis of a steroid oral contraceptive or, if you prefer, the Pill.

For someone who only hours before had stepped off a flight from London, Professor Carl Djerassi, the father of the Pill, appeared remarkably freshfaced. In Australia on a lecture tour to promote his books and plays, the silverhaired septuagenarian agreed to meet for a quick chat about sex in a coffee shop at The University of Queensland.

"We did the chemical work on the Pill in the early '50s. Did we realise it would become an oral contraceptive and would it be used for that? The answer is no. "I think anyone who says otherwise is lying. No one - not the scientists, not the pharmaceutical companies, and there were a few which were interested at that time - anticipated that it would be accepted as quickly and as widely.

Did you know Australia was the second country after the US to approve it" ? It was approved in the US in 1960 and in Australia in 1961.

"In a way it reflected the similarities in the cultures between Australia and America. In the States, within two years two million women were on the Pill. No one thought of this and by the end of the decade it was close to six million."

Djerassi has a theory, or a firm belief. the Pill could easily have been banned before it made it to the marketplace. I believe that if we had done our work 15 years later with the Pill becoming available in the 70s, there would be no oral contraceptives today." he said. I'm absolutely sure that there was only that one 15-year window of opportunity when it was possible to introduce the Pill and we did it. It had nothing to do with science and everything to do with society, economics and attitudes towards science and technology which are now much more dubious than what they were in the 1950s.

"So much happened in science and technology in the '70s. We realised that things moved much more rapidly than we were able to digest and we started to focus on some of the negative effects. "We started to talk about DDT and discovering the side effects of the Pill. Suddenly the headlines were saying `the Pill kills'.

"Everything has side effects but we ignore the side effects of everyday living. Many more women die in childbirth than were ever killed by the side effects of the Pill.

"You can talk about freon and its effect on the ozone layer. At one time we thought that freon was fantastic. DDT was fantastic and probably saved more lives than any other chemical when you think about what it did for malaria and typhoid epidemics in Naples after World War II. People forget that.

"We are starting to become much more concerned about safety rather than efficacy. Now it's 'let's take our time, do it slower' and there is the explosion of the litigious climate in the US. In the States they say 'sue the bastards' because we have no general health insurance. We have no system that would reimburse those who are damaged. You can only do it by going for the deep pockets, which is industry, and you collect.".....

"The other thing that happened in the '60s was the sexual revolution and people talk about either blaming or crediting the Pill with it, depending on where they're coming from. "That's a gross over-simplification. The Pill was in the 1960s - the decade of the rock 'n' roll music scene, the drug culture, the hippie scene and, most importantly of all, women's liberation. "You have four movements, all of them to do with sexual liberation, promiscuity and sexual freedom. "If there had been no Pill, it would still have happened but you would have had millions of illegal abortions that were avoided because of the Pill."

Djerassi believes that the pill also is wrongly blamed for a drop in birth rates. "If you have less than two children per family then the population goes down and there is no European country, with the exception of Albania and Malta, that has more than two children per family. Italy has 1.1 children per family.

"Social changes have caused this. The Pill merely facilitated them. The black and and white proof of this is Japan. Japan has exactly the same problem as Australia, Singapore and Western Europe in terms of ageing of the population and reduction in the birth rate. Japan has about 1.5 children per family. It is the most rapidly ageing of the industrialised countries. Twenty per cent of the people are above the age of 60 and it has a lousy social security system.

"Yet the Pill was only legalised in Japan in 1999, so here you see a classic example when it comes to birth control. Japan is barely entering the 20th century. Condoms and the rhythm method are the two most common methods - and abortion. "Japan was the first country right after World War II to use abortion as a method of birth control when condoms were not yet legal.

America's pristine myth

Next week my daughter will go back to elementary school, and I will be faced with a choice. At some point the curriculum will cover the environment, and she'll be taught that before Europeans settled the Americas the Indians lived so lightly on the land that for all practical purposes the hemisphere was a wilderness. The forests and plains, the teacher will explain, were crowded with bison, beaver, and deer; the rivers, with fish; flights of passenger pigeons darkened the skies. The continent's few inhabitants walked beneath an endless forest of tall trees that had never been disturbed.

But in recent decades most archaeologists, anthropologists, and geographers have come to believe that this Edenic image isn't true. When Columbus landed, the new research suggests, the Western Hemisphere wasn't filled with scattered bands of ecologically pure hunters and gatherers. Instead, it was a thriving, diverse place; a tumult of languages, trade, and culture; the home to tens of millions of people - more, some researchers believe, than Europe at that time.

Then, the majority of native Americans lived south of the Rio Grande. They were not wanderers with tepees; they built up and lived in some of the world's biggest, most opulent cities. Tenochtitlán, the greatest city in the aggressive military alliance best-known as the Aztec empire, may have had a quarter-million inhabitants - more than London or Paris. It glittered on scores of artificially constructed islands in the middle of a great lake in central Mexico. On first encountering this metropolis, the conquistadors gawped like yokels at the great temples and immense banners and colorful promenades. Hundreds of boats flitted like butterflies around the city's canals and the three grand causeways that linked it to the mainland. Long aqueducts conveyed water from the distant mountains to the city. Perhaps most astounding to the Spaniards, according to their memoirs, were the botanical gardens - at the time, none existed in Europe. Far from being dependent on big-game hunting, most Indians lived on farms. (Otherwise, the cities wouldn't have survived.)

According to a painstaking 2000 inventory of the evidence by geographer William E. Doolittle of the University of Texas at Austin, agriculture occurred in as much as two-thirds of what is now the continental US, with large swaths of the Southwest terraced and irrigated. Among the Midwest and Southeast maize fields, thousands of earthen mounds - priestly ceremonial centers - stippled the land. When the Pilgrims landed, they discovered that Indians had peeled back the great forests of the eastern seaboard, lining the coast with farms that stretched inland for miles. (There was little farming in the Northwest, but salmon nets stretched across almost every ocean-bound stream in the region.)

Further south, Indians had converted the Mexican basin and Yucatán into artificial environments suitable for farming. Terraces and canals and stony highways lined the Western face of the Andes. Raised fields and causeways covered Bolivian Amazonia. Farms dotted Argentina and central Chile. At the time of conquest, Indians had converted perhaps a quarter of the Amazon forest into farms and agricultural forests - an area the size of France and Spain combined.

Where Indians didn't farm, they burned - mainly clearing underbrush to retool local ecosystems to encourage elk, deer, and bear. They burned enough trees to let bison, creatures of the prairie, survive from New York to Georgia. Indigenous fire had its greatest impact in the middle of the continent, which Native Americans transformed into a prodigious game farm. They burned the Great Plains and Midwest prairies so much and so often that they increased their extent; in all probability, a substantial portion of the grassland celebrated by cowboys was established and maintained by those who arrived there first. "When Lewis and Clark headed west from [St. Louis]," wrote ethologist Dale Lott, "they were exploring not a wilderness but a vast pasture managed by and for Native Americans."

In sum, most researchers believe that at the time of Columbus the Western Hemisphere had been thoroughly painted with the human brush. For the most part, this new perspective hasn't made its way into textbooks - or the lesson plans of this nation's hardworking elementary school teachers. Instead, they purvey, with the best of intentions, what geographer William Denevan calls "the pristine myth." Like most parents, I don't want to get in a fight with my daughter's school. But I'd also like her to be taught something close to what most scientists believe.

One reason that this version of history continues to be taught is that it provides a way for schools to give lessons about conservation. In my experience, this has been transformed into the notion that we should return the land, as much as possible, to the wilderness it was before Columbus. Don't litter, do recycle, don't cut down the forests - we should learn from the Indians, the story goes, and leave the land alone.

At first glance, recognizing that the American landscape was heavily managed seems to undermine this view. For this reason, some environmentalists have rejected the new scholarship. But understanding that we inhabit a landscape irrevocably shaped by human beings doesn't imply that we should endorse careless wastefulness - let the bulldozers rip! Although Indian engineering led to some disasters, for the most part its impact on the environment was, as Mr. Denevan notes, "subtle, transformative, and persistent." The forests were burned and the land was farmed, but the soil was left largely intact, or even improved; despite their large numbers, there is little evidence that native Americans often exhausted or polluted water supplies, or overran their resource base.

As William I. Woods, director of the environmental studies program at the University of Kansas, has put it, their efforts were directed at constructing today the kind of environment they wanted to inhabit tomorrow - and they were usually quite good at it. This is a lesson I wouldn't mind my daughter learning in school.



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

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

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


7 September, 2005


Climate scientist Roger Pielke looks at what really happened

The catastrophic destruction that has occurred in the central Gulf coast of the United States due to Hurricane Katrina is occupying our thoughts. This calamity will consume enormous time and cost to recover from and to provide as much protection as possible from the inevitable next hurricane of this magnitude in this region and elsewhere. This is a sad time.

However, little time has passed before the disaster is being blamed by some of the media on global warming (see, for example, articles in The Belfast Telegraph and the Los Angeles Times. This narrow perspective completely misses the real reason for this disaster. As we, and others, have discussed (see Pielke, R.A. Sr., 2000: Discussion Forum: A broader perspective on climate change is needed and Pielke Jr. et al. 2005: Hurricanes and global warming), the significant risks are due to crossing thresholds in our vulnerability to environmental threats of all types. In this case, construction of towns on the immediate coastline and of a city below sea level (New Orleans) makes these regions particularly vulnerable to hurricanes. In the book,

Pielke, R.A., Jr. and R.A. Pielke, Sr., 1997: Hurricanes: Their nature and impacts on society. John Wiley and Sons, England, 279 pp.

the exposure of the coastal population to hurricanes in the eastern United States is clear (see Figure 2.8 (d) on page 52), with New Orleans clearly at risk. What this figure also shows is that other urban areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts have also become increasingly vulnerable as population grows, and, therefore, infrastructure development accelerates.

Even with respect to global warming, its reasons for occurring over the past several decades, while predominately due to humans (see our Climate Science post of August 29th), is not predominately due to the increase in the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, nor is global warming the more significant way humans are altering the climate system (see our Climate Science post of July 28th "What is the Importance to Climate of Heterogeneous Spatial Trends in Tropospheric Temperatures?"). The media have almost universally ignored an accurate description of the spectrum of human forcings on climate as presented in the National Research Council 2005 report.

Thus the advocates of blaming global warming erroneously assume that carbon dioxide emissions are the main cause of this disaster, but miss the other human caused global warming forcings that we summarized in our August 29th blog. They miss that other climate change effects, both due to natural and human- caused influences, such as atmospheric and ocean circulation changes due to spatially heterogeneous climate forcings such as landscape changes and aerosol emissions, have a greater effect than the relatively small magnitude of global warming that has actually been documented (see Pielke and Christy 2005)

The media fail to recognize that climate is complex and involves numerous natural and human climate forcings and feedbacks. To focus on the radiative warming forcing of carbon dioxide shows a complete misunderstanding of the climate system. We recommend they read the 2005 National Research Council report . They also need to understand that we cannot rely on even the complete description of climate change to understand our vulnerability to hurricanes and other weather events. We need to focus on an integrated assessment of the vulnerability of specific societal and environmental resources, (such as an urban center) to the entire spectrum of risks (see Table E.7 in Pielke, R.A. Sr., and L. Bravo de Guenni, 2004, for a summary of the vulnerability perspective as contrasted with using climate models to define risk).

Thus the answer to the question posed in this blog, is that we cannot attribute this disaster to global warming, or even climate change. It is a human-caused disaster resulting from decisions made as to where to locate our population and commerce, without enough protection to avoid inevitable catastrophic consequences.



A more forthright comment from N.Z. technical author Nick Sault [] in an email to Benny Peiser:

As much as my heart goes out to the people of those southern states, let's be sensible here and admit that when you have millions living at or below sea level, one day the sea is going to come get you. This is no more due to global warming than was the Indian Ocean tsunami. In this case, you could almost do the sums and calculate the chances of disaster based on there being 3000 miles of hurricane landfall in south-east USA and applying the rate of landfall of category 4+ hurricanes. Heck, New Orleans is built on a delta, and those levees will no doubt not stop the thousand-year Mississippi flood, let alone the landfall of a major hurricane. On a smaller scale, my local city of Christchurch New Zealand has levees to protect it from its local big river, the Waimakariri. But it is a known fact that those levees would be no protection against a flood on the scale of one that occurred in the 19th century, when New Zealand was a young colony. So, my city is living on borrowed time. Will we be surprised when the San Andreas finally does it to a major Californian city? Will some idiot blame global warming? Sorry, but the biggest fault here is not recognising the fact that we live on a dynamic planet, and if you live on the ocean, under a volcano, on a fault line, or on the flood plain of a giant river, nature is going to get you at some time. It is wrong to argue that it hasn't happened before, for recorded history is too short, and we have to remember that the global newsreel is a modern artifact.

The German Kyoto Protocol Hoax

An excerpt from a much more detailed article by Prof Brignell

In anticipation of the former Environmentalist Vice-President's ascendancy to the throne of ultimate global power, the United States Department of Energy had commissioned a Doomsday Book of CO2 emissions for global, regional, and national CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel burning, cement manufacture and gas flaring, annually from 1751 to 1998, which is available . While there are difference in some of the values reported here and at other DOE and EPA web sites, the data, which are in an easily manipulated spreadsheet format, can yield useful insights to the continuing debate over the Kyoto Protocol and global warming.

The Kyoto Protocol calls for industrialized nations to reduce their CO2 emissions to levels that are 5.2% lower than those recorded for 1990. The selection of 1990 as the base line and the strong support of this objective, on the part of Germany and other Eastern European countries, is no accident, as the DOE CO2 emissions database clearly shows. When the CO2 emissions data for all of Germany and its two cold-war East and West entities, which existed from 1945 to 1990, are plotted and compared with a Western European country such as the United Kingdom, it is glaringly obvious that Germany can meet and, indeed, exceed all of its Kyoto obligations by doing absolutely nothing. When the two Germanys were merged in 1991, the newly reunited country inherited Soviet era manufacturing facilities that generated levels of pollution extraordinary by Western standards. By simply closing or upgrading these legacies of the Cold War to Western norms, Germany was Kyoto compliant by 1992....

The United Kingdom on the other hand can expect no such advantage: Most egregious is the fact that in 1998, the Per Capita CO2 Emission for the United Kingdom was 2.51 metric tons of carbon, while that of Germany was 2.75. The people of the United Kingdom generate 9.6% less CO2 per person than the Germans, but, to meet their Kyoto goals, they must reduce their CO2 emissions still further. Germany, on the other hand, had already met their targets before Kyoto was even finalized. In addition to the ephemeral prize of climate stability in our times, all that the Great Leader can offer the British people is blood, sweat, tears and cold houses. Meanwhile in Germany, the members of the Green Party, who only recently morphed to that color from Red, can bask in the warm glow of an environmental righteousness predicated on 45 years of the most brutal subjugation of other nations' economies.


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

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

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


6 September, 2005


Disasters happen. Two hundred and fifty years ago, on November 1, 1755, the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, was flattened by an earthquake that killed thousands of its inhabitants. Like the hurricane that inundated New Orleans last week, the calamity inspired not only awe at the power of nature and sympathy for the helpless victims, but also all kinds of moral commentary. None was more profound than that of the French philosopher Voltaire.

To Voltaire, the destruction of Lisbon was proof that we do not live "in the best of all possible worlds" - a philosophical position associated with Gottfried Leibniz, but most pithily expressed in Alexander Pope's Essay on Man: Whatever is, is right. According to Leibniz, evil and suffering were integral parts of the order God had ordained. Though they might seem inexplicable to us, they were a vital part of the divine plan; the world would, paradoxically, be less perfect without them.....

The old-time hellfire and brimstone reaction would have been to interpret the inundation, John Wesley style, as a judgment on the city that brazenly calls itself "Party Town". But few Christian Churches risk such strong moral medicine these days.

No such inhibitions constrain today's Islamic extremists. The Associated Press reported that they "rejoiced in America's misfortune, giving the storm a military rank and declaring in internet chatter that 'Private' Katrina had joined the global jihad. With God's help, they declared, oil prices would hit $100-a-barrel this year."

It would be hard to get more tasteless. Yet the same underlying impulse - to interpret the disaster as confirmation of one's own ideological position - was at work among many American liberals too. Opponents of the war in Iraq were not slow to point out that National Guardsmen who should have been on hand to rescue hurricane victims were instead failing to prevent lethal stampedes in far-away Baghdad. The usual suspects could not resist pointing out that most of the people trapped in the flooded city were poor African-Americans, who lacked the means to flee the hurricane.

And, inevitably, environmentalists rushed to portray the storm as retribution for the Bush administration's refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol. After all, they argued, our consumption of fossil fuels causes global warming, and global warming leads to more frequent "extreme weather events", not to mention rising sea levels. Could the prospect of even higher gasoline prices, as a direct result of storm damage, finally bring Americans to their senses about climate change?

Having recently shown one of my classes a map projecting the effects of rising sea levels on the eastern seaboard of the United States (guess which city disappears first?), I must confess that this was also my initial reaction. Only last week, after all, I was fulminating in this column about the way we pollute the world's oceans. It was only with difficulty that I banished the thought of Katrina as Neptune's vengeance.

The reality is, of course, that natural disasters have no moral significance. They just happen, and we can never exactly predict when or where. In 2003 - to take just a single year - 41,000 people died in Iran when an earthquake struck the city of Bam, more than 2,000 died in a smaller earthquake in Algeria, and just under 1,500 died in India in a freak heatwave. Altogether, at least 100 Americans were killed that year as a result of storms or forest fires.

Natural disasters - please, let's not call them "Acts of God" - killed many more people than international terrorism that year (according to the State Department, total global casualties due to terrorism in 2003 were 4,271, of whom precisely none were in North America). On the other hand, disasters kill many fewer people each year than heart disease (around seven million), HIV/Aids (around three million) and road traffic accidents (around one million). No doubt if all the heart attacks or car crashes happened in a single day in a single city, we would pay them more attention than we do.

As Voltaire understood, hurricanes, like earthquakes, should serve to remind us of our common vulnerability as human beings in the face of a pitiless Nature. Too bad that today, just as in 1755, we prefer to interpret them in spurious ways, that divide rather than unite us.

More here

Synthetic chemicals: killing us softly?

Baseless scare stories are contaminating our enjoyment of food

It's the silly season, which is usually the time for stories about how bad eating is for us. Unless, that is, we're sensible and informed enough to eat organic food. Aficionados will tell you that organic food is natural and therefore better for you. The nub of the argument is that organic produce is untouched by chemicals (a word that sends a shiver down the spine of any self-respecting foodie). In particular, no pesticides are used, so the organic vegetable is therefore full of goodness, and you can eat it with a warm glow of self-satisfaction.

To paraphrase Blackadder, there's one tiny flaw in this argument: it's utter rubbish. Everything we eat is made of chemicals: they just don't happen to be manmade. Many of the minor components of plants are in fact natural pesticides: they repel or harm insects or other creatures that want to make a meal of them. What is more, using the standard ways employed by scientists to test toxicity or carcinogenicity (eg, feed increasing amounts of a substance to rodents until a level is reached where half of them die), many of these compounds can be shown to cause harm. But because they're not manmade, we neither test them nor worry about them. When they are tested, they are found to be equally damaging to the health of rats as manmade pesticides.

Yet we seem to worry incessantly about the use of synthetic crop protection chemicals that have been extremely thoroughly tested. Yes, these are toxic and harmful if misused, but the risk is to farmers rather than consumers. And farmers are intelligent people who have been trained how to use pesticides correctly. Despite agricultural workers' potentially much greater exposure to carcinogens than the general public, they actually have a lower incidence of cancers: in 11 out of 12 studies on farmers, covering some 300,000 subjects in total, cancer rates were found to be substantially lower than for the population as a whole.

There is no evidence that legal levels of pesticide residues cause health problems. During the past 50 years, as agriculture has become more intensive and use of pesticides increased, we have become healthier and longer-lived.

Of course, if you sincerely believe that synthetic chemicals pose a health risk, no amount of evidence will convince you otherwise. The standard response to the fact that there is no evidence of harm is: 'more testing is needed.' To figures that show a steady decline in the levels of pesticide residues detected, we hear: 'what about the build-up over time; what about the "cocktail" effect?'

Cast your mind back to the Sudan 1 contamination that occurred earlier this year. A batch of chilli powder had been brightened up at source by the addition of this red dye. The dye is not allowed for food use, not because there is hard evidence of any hazard, but because it's never been positively approved. The chilli powder was imported and used as an ingredient to make Worcester sauce, and this sauce in turn was used as a minor component of numerous processed food products. Clearly, the use of this dye was illegal: there was a failure of the system. But was there a real risk?

One article pithily summed up the extent of the 'risk': 'To ingest Sudan 1 in the amounts that were shown to cause harm in rats, a human would have to consume Crosse and Blackwell's Worcester sauce at the rate of three tons every day for two years.' But that doesn't assuage fears: if something has been withdrawn 'as a precautionary measure' then it has been condemned.

Consumers can be made to feel frightened of their food if they are given misleading information by campaign groups and their accomplices in the media. Left to their own devices, most people choose food they like to eat and can afford. They don't read labels. They don't think about additives, or the conditions under which the food was packed. If there were fewer negative stories about food in the media, we would be no less safe, but a lot of people might worry a lot less.



Louis Hissink comments by email about my post on the Greenland glacier scare:

"I took a look at the media article on the Greenland glacier referred to here: "LULISSAT, Greenland - Watching the gargantuan chunks of ice break off the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier and thunder into an Arctic fjord is a spectacular sight".

The issue is simple - this phenomenon is termed calving and is the result of an enormous deposition of snow and ice at the glacier's source, pushing the older ice into the sea simply because of the enormous pressures up slope. This glacier is growing not shrinking.

I would suggest that the media impressions of glacial calving are from gross scientific ignorance rather than anything else."


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

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

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


5 September, 2005


To Greenies, if there is a bit of ice melting anywhere it is all due to global warming. They will be monitoring the defrost cycle on my refrigerrator next. And the media report below relies on the impressions of native people. By contrast, the scientific report following relies on the thermometer

"In 2002-2003, a six-mile stretch of the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier broke off and drifted silently out of the fjord near Ilulissat, Greenland's third largest town, 155 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Although Greenland is the prime example, scientists say the effects of climate change are noticeable throughout the Arctic region, from the northward spread of spruce beetles in Canada to melting permafrost in Alaska and northern Russia.

Indigenous people who for centuries have adapted their lives to the cold, fear that the changes, however small and gradual, could have a profound impact. "We can see a trend that the fall is getting longer and wetter," said Lars-Anders Baer, a political leader for Sweden's indigenous Sami, a once-nomadic people with a long tradition of reindeer herding".


"Pineapple from Alaska? - The Arctic melts and the industrial countries keep watching" was the title of a dramatic press release published by the Global Conservation Organization WWF after the publication of the "Arctic Climate Impact Assessments" report (ACIA). This report claims that human induced greenhouses emissions are the cause of the global temperature rise.

However, a closer look at the facts is amazing: the temperature in Alaska has been almost constant for 27 years. This and other information can neither be found in the WWF publications nor in the ACIA report.

In 1976, a temperature rise of 1.7 øC within one year was observed. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is considered to be the reason for this. Since 1977, the mean annual temperature in Alaska has been almost constant.

Temperatures of the recent past:

Reliable measurement data for Alaska have only been available since 1949. The Alaska Climate Research Center (2) analyzed the temperature development and worked out the curve below.

(Mean annual temperatures, temperature trends for the whole period (dashed green curve), mean five yearly average (brown) and yearly averages for the period from 1949 to 1975 (blue) and 1977 to 2003 (blue))

This temperature curve holds some surprises: Since 1977, the mean annual temperature in Alaska has been almost constant. One single temperature leap in 1976 caused a temperature increase of 1.7 øC in only one year. The authors state that such a non-linear trend can hardly be linked to the linear increase in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. It is rather believed that the temperature leap was caused by a phase shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) in 1976. Then, the PDO shifted from a negative to a positive phase, and, according to the authors, this lead to higher temperatures in Alaska.

Temperatures of the past 2000 years

Feng Sheng Hu et al. analyzed sea sediments in Lake Farewell to determine the temperatures of the past 2000 years. The reason why they decided to conduct this study is that the lack of reliable climate information covering longer time periods makes it difficult to understand nature and the reasons for the current warming. The results of their study are shown in the diagram below

The curve shows three comparable warm periods for the years 0 to 300, 850 to 1200 and for the 20th century. According to the temperature curve in the diagram, the current global warming trend is not unusual and, when seen in the context of the past 2000 years, not even unexpected".

More here

And note also this scientific report showing that Greenland specifically is in fact COOLING.

Hurricane Katrina and the need to hold on to Enlightenment values.....

A good post lifted from Prof. Stott:

The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina was NOT caused directly by God; nor was it caused by Mr. Bush, nor the Great Satan of America; nor was it a divine punishment of a wicked city steeped in vice and corruption.

Hurricane Katrina was an entirely normal atmospheric phenomenon, the science of which has been known for a long time, that affected an old city, built below sea-level and on a swamp, with many wooden buildings and a large percentage of disadvantaged, poor people. The event was not even 'chaotic', in that New Orleans lies within the standard track of many late-Summer hurricanes. In 1965, the city was likewise struck by Hurricane Bets(e)y (now recalled in a play), which flooded the steets to a depth of 2m and which killed over 70 people.

Moreover, despite the media feeding-frenzy, Hurricane Katrina was not a particularly strong hurricane, varying between 2-4 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. In power, for example, it was no match for Hurricane Camille (Category 5, with winds of over 200 mph) which hit Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi in August 1969, killing some 275 people. And the most recent peak in hurricane activity still lies within the late-1930s and 1940s.

In the future, we are well aware that hurricanes will again affect the towns and cities of the Gulf of Mexico coastline. This is a fact, although the precise timing, direction, and strength of these hurricanes can not be known in advance. The only human culpability - if it is of any value at all to think in such anthropocentric terms - in the current tragedy is the failure to recognise the inevitability of this natural reality and to exercise enough effort and money to plan landscapes that can cope with the predictable risk. However, such fall-short failures in planning can not be laid at the feet either of God or of a single human being - even Mr. Bush, certain utterly ridiculous and dangerous German politicians please note.

We are currently living in increasingly dark days, in which religious fundamentalism - from perverted forms of Christianity and Islam to 'modern' environmental paganism (not to mention sheer stupidity) - are challenging our hard-won Enlightenment understanding of the world, an understanding that has helped to release humankind from the bondage of superstition and irrationality. We are wilfully confusing the different philosophical spheres of science and religion. Suffering remains the deepest question of theology, and it lies at the heart of theology to ask: "How is such suffering allowed to happen?". By contrast, the physical mechanisms of Hurricane Katrina are neither theological nor political; they are totally explicable in the terms of known Enlightenment science, and we must hold on to this fact in this dimming world of mental fear, one in which a self-indulgent media [see my final quote below] is too ready to pander to older and more fickle 'gods'.

The Enlightenment has helped to set us free, granted in a naturally dangerous world, but also one that is wonderful to understand. We must resist with every intellectual sinew those who would plunge us back into the world of capricious and dangerous 'gods' and simplistic and over-simplified evil.

"Ecrasez l'infame!"

And the most disgraceful statement of all? It is possibly this from Jon Snow, if, that is, he has been correctly reported in today's The Times - the sneer is so crass one can hardly believe that, as a newscaster, he could spout it: "Best of all, though, was the contribution of Jon Snow, enthroned as the objective voice of British media at Channel 4 News, who chortled: 'How ironic that the world's No 1 polluter is now reaping the 'rewards' that so many have warned would flow.'" I think it nearly merits a formal complaint to the broadcasting authorities.


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

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

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


4 September, 2005


But, surprise, surprise, it's really big companies like Gallo that they are trying to hurt. But you can expect anything of loons who think they should stop cows farting and burping

Napa and Sonoma may attract wine connoisseurs and tourists to their bucolic settings to taste well-known wines, but the San Joaquin Valley has long been the industry workhorse, producing most of the nation's wine. Now environmental regulators say the same process that gives the region's affordable reds, whites and blushes their pleasant punch is also producing a share of the smog that makes the valley one of the nation's dirtiest air basins - and they aim to do something about it.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is considering imposing the nation's first air quality control on wineries, focusing on the largest vintners - companies such as E&J Gallo, Delicato, and Constellation Wines. Wineries are the latest target of the district, which has struggled for years to clean up the valley's persistent pollution, by first going after manufacturers, the construction industry, and even home fireplaces.

Recently it has turned to agriculture, which had long been exempt from the controls imposed on municipalities and other businesses. The district has already asked farmers to keep the dust down during harvest, and is even looking at controlling emissions from dairy cows.

Wineries have come under scrutiny because the fermentation process that turns grape sugars to alcohol releases ethanol, methanol and other organic compounds into the atmosphere, where they react with sunlight and heat to form ozone, one of the components of smog, air regulators said. With the region producing roughly 70 percent of California's table wine, that results in 788 tons of pollutants a year. Of the 109 wineries in the valley that put out about 338 million gallons of wine each year, 18 are responsible for about 95 percent of the emissions that lead to smog, regulators said. Pollutants emanating from the three- to four-month fermentation process hit the atmosphere mostly in September and October, when federal smog limits are most often violated, according to the air district.

Since no other country asks vintners to control emissions, the regulations will cut into profits, producers said, and could hurt the position of valley vintners in the international market. California is the world's largest producer of wine after France, Italy and Spain. Much of the San Joaquin Valley's production ends up in $5 to $10 bottles, attracting customers looking for an affordable product. An increase in the cost of production would translate into a price hike that could hurt their market share, producers said. "This is going to be another increase in cost that is going to put me at a disadvantage," said Steve Kautz, president of Ironstone Vineyards, which has about 5,000 acres of wine grapes. His Bear Creek Winery in Lodi produces 600,000 cases a year of Leaping Horse, a popular line that retails at $5 to $6 a bottle.

Equipment proposed to suck up vapors released in the winemaking process would be required on the largest stainless steel fermenting tanks - those holding 50,000 gallons or more. That would mean outfitting 20 tanks at Ironstone's Bear Creek facility, potentially a large investment, said director of operations Craig Rous.

Industry representatives said they want to work with the air district, but complained untested equipment could hurt their product and cost tens of millions of dollars - too much for the amount of pollution it would eliminate. "When you look at the amount of ethanol that wineries are accountable for, and for the amount of emissions - it's a very small fraction," said Wendell Lee, an attorney for the Wine Institute, which represents about 800 California producers.....

Community activists dedicated to cleaning up the dirty air said the area can't afford to make exceptions. Pollution forces some residents to stay indoors for months, when emergency rooms see a spike in visits from people with respiratory problems. "If we let one industry off the hook, others will want the same," said Mark Stout, air quality consultant with Fresno Metro Ministry, a nonprofit that works on issues affecting the Fresno area. "If we don't all pitch in, we're not going to make it."



Hatred of modern technology loses another round

Mobile phone users can dial without concern after another study found no evidence of a link between the ubiquitous devices and brain tumors. The study, conducted by the London-based Institute of Cancer Research, and published this week on the British Journal of Cancer's Web site, found no increased risks of a rare benign tumor in the nerve that links the ear to the brain. It echoed the findings of a similar study by Swedish investigators last year and of scores of other studies investigating a possible link between the use of cellular phones and brain cancer.

Researchers questioned 678 patients already diagnosed with the tumor - acoustic neuroma - and 3,553 who did not have it, about their cell phone use. There was no increased risk of tumor associated with using the phones for at least 10 years. Retrospective questionnaires are not considered the most accurate method of determining a link between behavior and disease. Several previous studies, using more rigorous methods, have also found no evidence that the phones pose a health risk.

However, scientists have said it may not be a good idea for children to use the phones for long periods because their brains are still developing. Also, it is too early to tell what the effects of long-term use will be on adults. "The results of our study suggest that there is no substantial risk in the first decade after starting use," said lead investigator Anthony Swerdlow. "Whether there are longer-term risks remains unknown, reflecting the fact that this is a relatively recent technology."


Ignore rumors; Teflon proven to be safe "The uncanny ability of President Ronald Reagan to deflect public criticism won him the nickname 'The Teflon President.' Ironically, now it is Teflon itself that is facing the heat, as anti-chemical groups and trial attorneys have joined forces to cook up controversy over a product that has become one of America's most trusted consumer icons, and an integral part of our language, like Thermos and Kleenex. Like many product-safety scares these days, the concerns that have been voiced about Teflon are bogus."


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

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

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


3 September, 2005


Nationally, the average per gallon price for regular gasoline is $2.50. Are gasoline prices high? That's not the best way to ask that question. It's akin to asking, "Is Williams tall?" The average height of U.S. women is 5'4", and for men, it's 5'10". Being 6'4", I'd be tall relative to the general U.S. population. But put me on a basketball court, next to the average NBA basketball player, and I wouldn't be tall; I'd be short. So when we ask whether a price is high or low, we have to ask relative to what.

In 1950, a gallon of regular gasoline sold for about 30 cents; today, it's $2.50. Are today's gasoline prices high compared to 1950? Before answering that question, we have to take into account inflation that has occurred since 1950. Using my trusty inflation calculator (, what cost 30 cents in 1950 costs $2.33 in 2005. In real terms, that means gasoline prices today are only slightly higher, about 8 percent, than they were in 1950. Up until the recent spike, gasoline prices have been considerably lower than 1950 prices.

Some Americans are demanding that the government do something about gasoline prices. Let's think back to 1979 when the government did do something. The Carter administration instituted price controls. What did we see? We saw long gasoline lines, and that's if the gas station hadn't run out of gas. It's estimated that Americans used about 150,000 barrels of oil per day idling their cars while waiting in line. In an effort to deal with long lines, the Carter administration introduced the harebrained scheme of odd and even days, whereby a motorist whose license tag started with an odd number could fill up on odd-numbered days, and those with an even number on even-numbered days.

With the recent spike in gas prices, the government has chosen not to pursue stupid policies of the past. As a result, we haven't seen shortages. We haven't seen long lines. We haven't seen gasoline station fights and riots. Why? Because price has been allowed to perform its valuable function -- that of equating demand with supply.

Our true supply problem is of our own doing. Large quantities of oil lie below the 20 million acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The amount of land proposed for oil drilling is less than 2,000 acres, less than one-half of one percent of ANWR. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates there are about 10 billion barrels of recoverable oil in ANWR. But environmentalists' hold on Congress has prevented us from drilling for it.

They've also had success in restricting drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and off the shore of California. Another part of our energy problem has to do with refining capacity. Again, because of environmentalists' successful efforts, it's been 30 years since we've built a new oil refinery.

Few people realize that the U.S. is also a major oil-producing country. After Saudi Arabia, producing 10.4 million barrels a day, then Russia with 9.4 million barrels, the U.S. with 8.7 million barrels a day is the third-largest producer of oil. But we could produce more. Why aren't we?



Read the bit of speculation below and then read the research results that follow it:

"Evidence continues to pile up that hormone-disrupting chemicals can gender-bend human babies. Earlier this year it was reported that the sons of women exposed to phthalates during pregnancy tend to have smaller penises (New Scientist, 4 June, p 11). This was the first direct evidence that such chemicals can feminise fetuses in the womb.

Now nearly twice as many girls as boys are being born in the Aamjiwnaang community, who live next door to the Sarnia-Lambton Chemical Valley complex in Ontario, Canada. And though no chemical has yet been shown to be to blame, high levels of hexachlorobenzene (HCB), which also has hormone-disrupting properties, have been found in the local soil, and phthalates are being emitted from part of the complex. The proportion of male births began falling around 1993, says Constanze Mackenzie of the University of Ottawa. And the ratio has become more skewed since then. Between 1999 and 2003, the community saw just 46 boys born compared to 86 girls".

People living in the community have not yet been tested for contaminants in their blood, but chemicals are "at the top of our list" of possible causes, she says.

And now for some real research:

"Contrary to earlier reports, everyday exposure to phthalates -- chemical plasticizers used extensively in household products and in certain medical products -- may not have harmful effects on fertility in young men, a new study shows.

Previous studies suggested that low levels of phthalate exposure could adversely affect human semen, the authors explain in a report in Epidemiology, a medical journal, but high doses of phthalates are required to provoke male reproductive toxicity in rats.

For their study, Dr. Bosse A.G. Jonsson from Lund University Hospital, Sweden, and colleagues looked for associations between phthalate metabolite levels in urine and semen quality and reproductive hormone parameters in 234 young Swedish men entering the military. There was "no clear pattern of associations" between any of the phthalate metabolites and any of the biomarkers of reproductive function measured. In fact, exposure to phthalic acid seemed to be associated with improved reproductive function, as measured by several markers.

"I do not think it is clear whether phthalate constitutes a risk for the male fertility," Jonsson told Reuters Health. "More studies must be performed." "We plan to study biological samples stored in biobanks from pregnant mothers and study the fertility in their grown-up male children," Jonsson added".



The Australian Prime Minister crows a little

John Howard claims he has been vindicated over his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol after business groups in New Zealand and Germany demanded their countries quit the agreement as soon as possible and join the Asia-Pacific climate pact. A coalition of 22,000 New Zealand businesses, under the auspices of the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Industry, called on both parties in the New Zealand election to start talks on pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol by 2008 - the earliest possible date to do so.

The chief executive of the Employers and Manufacturers Association of New Zealand, Alasdair Thompson, said compliance had cost companies much more than the Government predicted. It has been estimated that New Zealand may have to spend between $600million and $1.2billion to meet its Kyoto commitments on greenhouse gas emissions instead of gaining carbon credits. "The Government's carbon credit calculations were incorrect to begin with, and business concern is growing that the latest calculations on the extent of the liability are still wrong," Mr Thompson said.

Germany's industry bodies said last week "the hopes on the Kyoto Protocol were unfortunately not fulfilled" and that consideration for all countries to join the recently agreed six-nation Asia-Pacific Clean Air and Development partnership "after the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol in 2012". The industry group president, Juergen Thumann, said "we could fully use our potential on new climate conversing technologies in international competition with such an alliance". "Added value and growth, thus new jobs, are also created this way in Germany," he said.

The Prime Minister said yesterday that the calls by the New Zealand and German business groups to join the Asia-Pacific partnership "is a dramatic repudiation of those who say the only way forward on the environment is to sign up lock, stock and a barrel to Kyoto". Mr Howard said the Coalition's refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol was based on the belief it would hurt Australian industry and cost jobs. He said the experience in New Zealand and Germany would further isolate Labor in Australia because it was "slavishly locked into Kyoto despite the threat it will cost jobs".

Australia and the United States have refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol but have helped establish the new clean air and development partnership which aims to cut greenhouse emissions through technology.

More here


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

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

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


2 September, 2005

Katrina and Disgusting Exploitation

"A profound tragedy is unfolding in New Orleans, the most beautiful city in America, with the richest cultural history and the most wonderful style of living. I lived in New Orleans for seven years. I was married there. My children were born there. I have many friends there. My daughter, her husband and their little baby managed to get out of the city ahead of the flood on Sunday, driving 14 hours into Texas with the few belongings they could stuff into their car. They have no idea what has become of their house and their possessions, not to mention their friends, their pets, their jobs, their way of life. Tragedies happen, and my daughter and her family are happy just to be alive. Their losses and those of hundreds of thousands of other innocents deserve mourning, prayer and respect.

That is why the response of environmental extremists fills me with what only can be called disgust. They have decided to exploit the death and devastation to win support for the failed Kyoto Protocol, which requires massive cutbacks in energy use to reduce, by a few tenths of a degree, surface warming projected 100 years from now. Katrina has nothing to do with global warming. Nothing. It has everything to do with the immense forces of nature that have been unleashed many, many times before and the inability of humans, even the most brilliant engineers, to tame these forces.

Giant hurricanes are rare, but they are not new. And they are not increasing. To the contrary. Just go to the website of the National Hurricane Center and check out a table that lists hurricanes by category and decade. The peak for major hurricanes (categories 3,4,5) came in the decades of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, when such storms averaged 9 per decade. In the 1960s, there were 6 such storms; in the 1970s, 4; in the 1980s, 5; in the 1990s, 5; and for 2001-04, there were 3. Category 4 and 5 storms were also more prevalent in the past than they are now. As for Category 5 storms, there have been only three since the 1850s: in the decades of the 1930s, 1960s and 1990s.

But that doesn't stop an enviro-predator like Robert F. Kennedy Jr. from writing on the Huffingtonpost website: "Now we are all learning what it's like to reap the whirlwind of fossil fuel dependence which Barbour and his cronies have encouraged. Our destructive addiction has given us a catastrophic war in the Middle East and - now -- Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children."

Or consider Jurgen Tritten, Germany's environmental minister, in an op-ed in the Frankfurter Rundschau. He wrote (according to a translation prepared for me): "By neglecting environmental protection, America's president shuts his eyes to the economic and human damage that natural catastrophes like Katrina inflect on his country and the world's economy." The bright side of Katrina, concludes Tritten, is that it will force President Bush to face facts. "When reason finally pays a visit to climate-polluter headquarters, the international community has to be prepared to hand America a worked-out proposal for the future of international climate protection." He goes on, "There is only one possible route of action. Greenhouse gases have to be radically reduced, and it has to happen worldwide." In other words, thanks to Katrina, we'll finally get Kyoto enforced. (He might start at home, by the way. Europe is not anywhere close to reducing CO2 to Kyoto standards. In fact, the U.S. is doing much better than many Kyoto ratifiers.)

Ross Gelbspan, in a particularly egregious, almost giddy piece in the Boston Globe that was reprinted in the International Herald Tribune, wrote that the hurricane was "nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service Katrina, [but] its real name was global warming." He also finds global warming responsible for droughts in the Midwest, strong winds in Scandinavia and heavy rain in Dubai. The reason for all this devastation, of course, is that the Bush Administration is controlled by coal and oil interests.

And the Independent, a widely read British newspaper, reported today that "Sir David King, the British Government's chief scientific adviser, has warned that global warming may be responsible for the devastation reaped by Hurricane Katrina." King contended that "the increased intensity of hurricanes is associated with global warming."

The Kyoto advocates point to warmer ocean temperatures, but they ought to read their own favorite newspaper, The New York Times, which reported yesterday: "Because hurricanes form over warm ocean water, it is easy to assume that the recent rise in their number and ferocity is because of global warming. But that is not the case, scientists say. Instead, the severity of hurricane seasons changes with cycles of temperatures of several decades in the Atlantic Ocean. The recent onslaught 'is very much natural,' said William M. Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University who issues forecasts for the hurricane season.'"

An article on TCS quoted Gray last year as saying that, while some groups and individuals say that hurricane activity lately "may be in some way related to the effects of increased man-made greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide,.there is no reasonable scientific way that such an interpretation.can be made."

Indeed, there is no evidence that hurricanes are intensifying anyway. For the North Atlantic as a whole, according to the United Nations Environment Programme of the World Meteorological Organization: "Reliable data.since the 1940s indicate that the peak strength of the strongest hurricanes has not changed, and the mean maximum intensity of all hurricanes has decreased." Yes, decreased. Not only has the intensity of hurricanes fallen, but, as George H. Taylor, the state climatologist of Oregon has pointed out, so has the frequency of hailstorms in the U.S. (see Changnon and Changnon) and cyclones throughout the world (Gulev, et al.).

But environmental extremists do not want to be bothered with the facts. Nor do they wish to mourn the destruction and death wreaked on a glorious city. To their everlasting shame, they would rather distort and exploit".



An email from Norm Kalmanovitch [] to Benny Peiser

I think that the alarmists with theories relating hurricanes to global warming are perhaps shooting themselves in the foot with respect to the implementation of Kyoto. All hurricanes (or cyclones) start in the tropics and travel either north or south towards the poles. They start in areas of very warm temperatures and corresponding high humidity. Unlike desert climates which cool dramatically at night, there is very little night time cooling in these regions because of the extremely strong greenhouse effect from this high water content of the near surface atmosphere. As the effect from water vapor approaches 100% of the greenhouse effect, the contribution from the minor constituents such as CO2 approach zero and this takes place right in the birth place of the hurricanes. If the alarmists want to relate hurricanes to greenhouse effect induced global warming they will not be able to blame CO2 as the cause. If they want to use human generated CO2 as the cause of global warming they can't blame hurricanes on global warming. Either there is no relationship between global warming and hurricanes or they have removed the underpinnings of the Kyoto Accord.

Still no sign of the ozone hole shrinking away despite years of the CFC ban: "This season's Antarctic ozone hole has swollen to an area of ten million square kilometres from mid-August - approximately the same size as Europe and still expanding. It is expected to reach maximum extent during September, and ESA satellites are vital for monitoring its development. This year's hole is large for this time of year, based on results from the last decade: only the ozone holes of 1996 and 2000 had a larger area at this point in their development".


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

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

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


1 September, 2005


by Alan Reynolds

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta proposed imaginative fuel efficiency standards for new SUVs, vans and pickups. This scheme would divide light trucks into a half-dozen categories based on size, not weight. By 2011, the smallest so-called "truck" (a PT Cruiser) would have to attain 28.4 mpg, while the largest could get by with 21.3. Add a few inches, and the standards drop. Fatten up to 8,500 pounds, and there are no rules.

A New York Times editorial, "Foolishness on Fuel," began with vital facts, but promptly switched to foolishness, as promised: "Cars and light trucks -- SUVs, vans and pickups -- account for roughly 40 percent of all United States oil consumption, which now amounts to about 20 million barrels a day The same vehicles also account for more than one-fifth of the country's emissions of carbon dioxide."

Since 58 percent of the oil we use is imported, while only 40 percent goes into cars, SUVs, vans and pickups, it follows we would still import millions of barrels a day even if there were no passenger cars or trucks. Yet when it came to that other 60 percent of U.S. oil consumption, not to mention the other four-fifths of carbon dioxide, the New York Times had little to say. There was just the ritualistic hand-wringing over "minivans and SUVs, which are held to more lenient fuel economy standards."

When it came to Mr. Mineta's new regulations, the editorial rightly noted these "are unlikely to make any serious dent in consumption." They couldn't possibly make a dent because SUVs, pickups and vans only account for half of the vehicles subject to such regulations. And half of 40 percent is just 20 percent of total oil consumption. "Soaring gasoline prices," says the editorial, "tell us that we need to act quickly to cut down on imported oil" and "there is no better short-term answer than a more efficient transportation fleet." But the world oil price has nothing to do with how much a country imports. Exporters like Canada face the same price. And new trucks are a tiny fraction of the fleet.

Mr. Mineta said, "The plan will save gas and result in less pain at the pump for motorists." But the surest prediction in economics is that if the price of anything goes down, demand for it will rise. If Smith's fuel frugality could actually cut the cost of gasoline for Jones, then Jones would drive more. And "Jones" may live in China.

Fuel efficiency rules for new vehicles cannot provide any "short-term answer" because 93 percent of the fleet is not new. In the short term, better fuel economy for new SUVs, vans and pickups could affect only 7 percent of the 20 percent of oil used by such vehicles, or 1.4 percent of total U.S. oil use.

The editorial cites a report "from President Bush's own Environmental Protection Agency" supposedly proving "America's cars and trucks are significantly less efficient, on average, than they were in the late 1980s, and that leaps in technology have been used to make vehicles more powerful but not more fuel efficient."

What did that EPA report show about those demonized SUVs? In 1978, SUVs weighed 4,202 pounds, produced 146 horsepower and got only 12.3 miles per gallon (mpg) in combined city-highway driving. By 1988, they were down to 3,859 pounds, had only 144 horsepower but got 17.4 mpg. By 2005, by contrast, SUVs were up to 4,649 pounds and had 236 horsepower yet achieved a record 18.1 mpg. That demonstrates a huge fuel efficiency increase -- much more space, safety, comfort and performance with less fuel. Efficiency means getting more for less, not getting less for more. The United States is impressively energy-efficient.

Citing an environmental group, the editorial remarked that "even the Japanese... are doing poorly on a fleet-wide basis. The culprit in all cases was the increasing market share of minivans and SUVs." Well, the Infiniti M45 and Lexus GS 430 are not exactly turtles in the latest ill-timed horsepower race. But it is true Japan and Europe are quite eager to supply us with any large or powerful vehicles GM, Ford and Chrysler dare not produce for fear of offending federal officials.

The New York Times editors claim, "The efficiency standards enacted 30 years ago after the Arab oil embargo made a huge difference in consumption." That echoed an April 19 letter to the Wall Street Journal, in defense of assorted subsidies, signed by Robert C. McFarlane, R. James Woolsey, Frank J. Gaffney Jr., C. Boyden Gray and Timothy E. Wirth. It said: "The last time Washington took oil conservation seriously, Detroit got the job done. In a little over a decade after 1975, the fuel economy of new cars and light trucks went from 15 mpg to 26 mpg. The fiasco has been in the nearly two decades since then, during which fuel economy for new passenger vehicles has declined to 24 mpg [actually 24.6], while horsepower has increased by 93 percent and weight by 24 percent." Fuel economy did not rise after 1975 because Washington took anything seriously or because American Motors was saved by getting the job done. CAFE standards did not begin until 1978, when they were toothless at 18 mpg. What really happened was that gas prices soared from 61 cents in 1976 to $1.38 in 1981 -- a level not seen again until late 2002.

In 1981, imported cars achieved 31.5 mpg, while domestic cars averaged 24.2 mpg; imported light trucks got 27.4 mpg, while domestic light trucks got by with 18.3 mpg. Average fuel economy of new vehicles did not jump from 19.9 mpg in 1978 to 24.6 mpg in 1981 because Big Brother could mandate what sort of vehicles we buy, but because domestic car sales collapsed by 40 percent from 1978 to 1981 (from 9.1 million to 5.4 million), while sales of fuel-frugal imports rose.

The mix of new car sales -- with imports accounting for 30 percent rather than 18 percent -- is the main reason the combined mileage of domestic and imported cars improved. No such miraculous "improvement" is possible today because mileage of domestic and foreign car and trucks is virtually identical -- 30 mpg for cars, about 22 for light trucks. Irrational antagonism toward SUVs and affection for fuel efficiency standards is pure symbolism, the equivalent of wearing a green ribbon to show solidarity with trees. Fuel efficiency standards for new U.S. cars and trucks have never caused anything but trouble and never will.

Campaigning for the presidency in 1980, Ronald Reagan said, "Detroit doesn't need protection from Japan; it needs protection from Washington." I've always admired that line -- and not just because I wrote it.

More here


The academic article below is more significant than you might think. See the commentary following it:

Early Holocene history of the west Greenland Ice Sheet and the GH-8.2 event

(From Quaternary Science Reviews. Article in Press)

By: A.J. Long a), D.H. Roberts a) and S. Dawson b) a) Department of Geography, Durham University, Science Laboratories, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK b) School of Geography and Geosciences, University of St Andrews, Irvine Building, St Andrews, Fife KY16 9AL, Scotland, UK


The margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet retreated rapidly during the first few thousand years of the Holocene. During this period of relative warmth, known as the Holocene thermal maximum, ice core records identify a significant short-lived cooling event at approximately 8.4-8.0 ka cal. yr BP (the 'GH-8.2 event') associated with a 5-7 øC fall in mean annual air temperature over the centre of the ice sheet.

In this paper we constrain the history of the ice sheet margin in Disko Bugt (west Greenland) and that of a major ice stream, Jakobshavns Isbrae, during the early Holocene, which incorporates the interval of the GH-8.2 event. Our work is based on a new relative sea-level curve and minimum age estimates for the timing of deglaciation from two field sites, combined with a review of previously published research from the study area. We identify important differences in the chronology of ice margin recession during the early Holocene, most noticeably, the margin of Jakobshavns Isbrae retreated well inland of the adjacent ice sheet at this time.

We conclude that the early Holocene 'Fjord Stade' moraines in Disko Bugt do not record a uniform ice sheet margin response to the GH-8.2 event. Rather, these moraines are diachronous and formed between c. 10-8 ka cal. yr BP, their age varying as a function of the interplay between topography and ice sheet/ice stream dynamics. We hypothesise that one cause for the lack of an identifiable response to the GH-8.2 event is because topographic controls dominated ice sheet behaviour at this time. In lowland areas, any increase in ice sheet mass balance was probably associated with an increase in calving rather than any major advance of a grounded ice sheet margin.

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

Commentary on the above paper (excerpt from an email from Norm Kalmanovitch [] to Benny Peiser)

"The second article which focuses on the Greenland Ice Sheet discusses a "significant short lived cooling event" ...."associated with a 5-7 degree C fall in mean annual air temperature over the centre of the ice sheet."

In all of the rhetoric about global warming the focus is always about the warming effect from CO2. This article points out a measured cooling that is at least 7 times greater than the entire greenhouse effect from all of the atmospheric CO2. (In the heated debates about global warming an overlooked basic physical fact is that the greenhouse effect of the Earth's atmosphere is in total about 35 degrees C, with over 97% coming from clouds and water vapor and only about 0.7degrees C attributed to atmospheric CO2)

If cooling occurred that is 7 times greater than could be achieved by extracting all of the CO2 out of the atmosphere, then the cause of the climate change had to be from some other source than changes to the Earth's greenhouse effect from CO2. The same has to be true for warming of the Earth's climate and the statement "scientists say the world will continue to heat up for the next 50 years, based on the amount of carbon already in the atmosphere" is just another falsehood that has evolved into a perceived truth through the magic of constant long-term misleading rhetoric.

We see the term "scientists say" used to validate all kinds of things usually for the purpose of selling something, but I have yet to see a single scientist stand up and say with absolute certainty that the human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide is responsible for changing the Earth's climate considering that 100 years ago over 99.95% of the atmosphere was made up of nitrogen, oxygen, and argon and today over 99.95% of the atmosphere is made up of nitrogen, oxygen, and argon".

(Original of the letter above here)


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

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

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