Wednesday, September 30, 2009


An email from David Whitehouse [] below regarding Global warming could happen sooner on the BBC

It took quite a while for the fact that global annual average temperatures haven't altered for a decade to become accepted by mainstream science, even if there are many who still doubt that it is either happening or important. Likewise one must also be glad that the media is catching up. Especially glad because it is the BBC.

One should take encouragement from the broadcast version of the Met Office's "Four degrees of warming 'likely'" in that when referring to the recent temperature standstill it says that scientists have questioned it. The report did not call these questioners sceptics. Lets hope this nomenclature is applied consistently in the future by the organisation that said in 2005 that the science was settled.

However, the report did let a scientist get away with a biased interpretation of why the standstill has occurred, or rather bypassing the problematic nature of its existence. Dr Myles Allen said that one should look at the figures that are relevant, that is decade to decade changes. He said that temperatures are rising exactly as predicted as long as 30 years ago.

Well, I will let the comment about as long as 30 years ago for your perusal in the context of climatic variations.

Dr Allen is wrong. The latest spell of warming began about 1980 following 40 years of standstill (still not adequately explained) and 90 prior years of warming. His decade to decade change is a less than two decade spell of warming, to the mid 1990's, during which the warming increased at a rate much faster than the IPCC estimated the CO2 effect could account for. Since then there has been no change although of course it is warmer than it was in the 70s. This is another example of scientific double standards. The recent standstill is, of course, natural variability, the recent rise is, of course, man-made. It couldn't possibly be the other way around? (Computer models can explain the recent trends, or more accurately, it is possible to select a few models that do from amongst the many that do not.)

Let's look at decade to decade variability. In the past 15 decades it was warmed in 10 of them and stayed static in 5. But 8 of those decades were pre-1940 when we are told that man-made climate change had not taken effect. Since it has taken effect, a review of papers suggests a consensus of 1950, there have been 4 decades of standstill and 2 of warming. The recent warm decade is also no further above the mean global temperature than the cold Victorian age was below it.

It is alarming that the argument is moving away from real-world data and its inconvenience. The computer models point decades ahead and cannot be refuted. The UK met office says that global warming will resume 2009-2014, other scientists disagree. But even if the Met Office is proven wrong in its 2009-2014 forecast then it can still look to future decades and say it's easier to predict 50 years ahead than 5!

The IPPC's next assessment is due in 2014 but since the last one did not take into account the overwhelming major aspect of climate change of our time - the recent standstill - a more urgent review is needed.

Another comment on the latest Warmist fraud: CHERRY PICKING OF HISTORIC PROPORTIONS

A big news day. It appears Steve McIntyre (volunteer unpaid auditor of Big-Government-Science) has killed the Hockey Stick a second time... The details are on the last three days of Steve McIntyre's site Climate Audit, and summed up beautifully on Watts Up. The sheer effrontery and gall appears to be breathtaking.

The Briffa temperature graphs have been widely cited as evidence by the IPCC, yet it appears they were based on a very carefully selected set of data, so select, that the shape of the graph would have been totally transformed if the rest of the data had been included.

Kieth Briffa used 12 samples to arrive at his version of the hockey stick and refused to provide his data for years. When McIntyre finally got hold of it, and looked at the 34 samples that Briffa left out of his graphs, a stark message was displayed. McIntyre describes it today as one of the most disquieting images he's ever presented.


Since 1995 Kieth Briffa has been publishing graphs about temperature of the last thousand years. Like Michael Manns' famous (and discredited) Hockey Stick graph, Briffa's graphs were based on tree rings and appeared to show dramatic evidence that the current climate was extraordinarily warm compared to previous years. They were used in the infamous spagetti plots, and the IPCC 3rd Assessment Report, and recycled in other publications giving the impression they had been replicated. His work has even made it into school resources (Cimate Discovery, p4). His publications since 2000 are listed here.

Unaudited science

Suspiciously Briffa refused repeated requests to provide the Yamal data that his analysis was based on (something about the data belonging to the Russians). As Steve McIntyre points out, this kind of data should be archived and freely available after any peer reviewed paper is published.

Last year Briffa published a paper in a journal (Philosophical Transactions of Biology, the Royal Society) that did maintain basic standards, (after being prodded), and a few days ago McIntyre noticed the data was finally up. This data had been used in papers going back as far as 2000. (And no one thought to politely inform McIntyre that the information he'd requested for years was now available.)

Hiding data in science is equivalent to a company issuing it's annual report and telling the auditors that the receipts are commercial in confidence and they would just have to trust them. No court of law would accept that, yet at the "top" levels of science, papers have been allowed to sit as show-pieces for years without any chance that anyone could seriously verify their findings. In science, getting the stamp of Peer Review has become like a free pass to "credibility".

Now we know why he might not have been so forthcoming with the data... If all the tree rings are combined, the graph looks like this below. (I've added the black thick line to the original to make the merged data stand out). Obviously today is not as warm as things were 1000 years ago (at least not in far north Russia), and it's also clear things have been warming since 1800 in Yamal.

Here's a map to help put places to the names. These are the four sites mentioned as sources of the tree ring data. Yamal and Taymir are roughly 400 km apart.

In the mid 1990's the Polar Urals were the place to be for interesting tree rings, but then as the data got updated and yielded a medieval warm period that Team AGW preferred to ignore, they moved their focus to the Yamal Peninsula. There was plenty of data to pick from, but that's the point. They chose 10 data sets from 1990, and only 5 post 1995. Which seems curious as presumably there is no shortage of 20 year old trees on the Yamal Peninsula. As Ross McKitrick notes, a small sample may have been passable, but it appears that these trees were not selected randomly.

McKitrick expands:

Thus the key ingredient in a lot of the studies that have been invoked to support the Hockey Stick, namely the Briffa Yamal series (red line above) depends on the influence of a thin subsample of post-1990 chronologies and the exclusion of the (much larger) collection of readily-available Schweingruber data for the same area.

Honest scientists who believe in there is a crisis in carbon must surely be starting to ask questions about what's going on with their colleagues. If the evidence is so strong, so undeniable; if the warming recently has been so unprecedented, why won't people offer their data up freely so that science can progress as fast as possible? When is deluding the public, other scientists and our elected representatives ever a useful thing to do? People have invested money and careers, governments have paid millions for reports, and billions for research; and companies have planned years ahead, all partly based on the Hockey Stick Graph.

If the data had been archived immediately for the public, the world could have had access to better information for nearly a decade.

SOURCE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)


Nuclear energy is set to be revived in Germany as Chancellor Angela Merkel can form her coalition of choice after this Sunday's elections. Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union and the pro-business Free Democratic Party were in coalition negotiations Monday; a government will be formed within the next four weeks, the chancellor said. With the CDU and the FDP both supportive of nuclear energy, their coalition agreement is slated to address the country's nuclear phase-out plan, which foresees all German reactors to be shut down by 2021.

Claudia Kemfert, an energy expert with the Berlin-based DIW research institute, said the phase-out, drafted and defended by the SPD and the Greens, should no longer hold. "The running times of Germany's most modern nuclear power plants will likely be extended," she told UPI in a telephone interview. A construction of new reactors is not likely to happen, she added.

Germany's three main energy companies, Eon, RWE and ENBW, all gained in Monday trading in Frankfurt.

The CDU and the FDP argue that nuclear provides secure, relatively cheap CO2-free power and should remain in the mix until renewables are ready to take over; the SPD and the Greens point to the dangers of accidents, nuclear proliferation and the unsolved issue of how to store the highly radioactive waste created in the process.

Kemfert said a decision to extend the running times of nuclear power plants should include a guarantee to haul back the utilities' additional revenues in the form of a tax. That money could be spent on nuclear waste storage or renewable energy technologies, observers say.

Mirko Bothien, a German power plant turbine expert working for a large international energy company in Switzerland, is not too excited by the new government's plans for the future German energy mix.

"The CDU and the FDP bank on cheap energy production to help the German industry. Let's hope this does not go at the expense of climate protection," Bothien told UPI in an interview.

The physicist gave his vote to the Greens, "because their party program is the most ambitious when it comes to supporting renewable energy sources."

Thanks to a lucrative feed-in tariff for green power, the German renewable industry has boomed over the past 10 years.

Kemfert said the new coalition would likely not touch the successful German renewable energy law, the EEG.

"But there might be a discussion regarding cutting the feed-in tariff for solar energy," which is threatening to cost the government billions of dollars over the next few years.



China's ambition to create "green cities" powered by huge wind farms comes with a dirty little secret: Dozens of new coal-fired power plants need to be installed as well.

Part of the reason is that wind power depends on, well, the wind. To safeguard against blackouts when conditions are too calm, officials have turned to coal-fired power as a backup.

China wants renewable energy like wind to meet 15% of its energy needs by 2020, double its share in 2005, as it seeks to rein in emissions that have made its cities among the smoggiest on Earth. But experts say the country's transmission network currently can't absorb the rate of growth in renewable-energy output. Last year, as much as 30% of wind-power capacity wasn't connected to the grid. As a result, more coal is being burned in existing plants, and new thermal capacity is being built to cover this shortfall in renewable energy.

In addition, officials want enough new coal-fired capacity in reserve so that they can meet demand whenever the wind doesn't blow. This is important because wind is less reliable as an energy source than coal, which fuels two-thirds of China's electricity output. Wind energy ultimately depends on wind strength and direction, unlike coal, which can be stockpiled at generators in advance.

Further complicating matters is poor connectivity between regional transmission networks, which makes it hard for China to move surplus power in one part of the country to cover shortfalls elsewhere.


Global warming is now killing elephants

Is there any damage that it cannot do? As there has been no warming since 1998, is is a demonstrable misattribution anyway. The unfortunate Kenyan lady below just believes what the Warmists say without checking it

The drought has resulted in the death of young elephants as they cannot reach foliage high up in trees. Statistics at KWS show that more than 30 elephants have died since 2007. Animals are becoming bolder and more violent as the effects of climate change take their toll on them. Hippopotamus have been witnessed eating fruits on farms such as pawpaws and bananas, while elephants have become more violent.

Dr Judith Nyunja, a senior scientist at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), said some animals were altering their behaviour to adapt to the changing climate. “Wildlife such as elephants have become bolder, frequently raiding human settlements in search of food and water, and baboons have been seen killing lambs,” said Dr Nyunja. She said the adverse change in climate had resulted in reduction of plant and animal species. The move, she said, was affecting tourism, the country’s main export and major foreign exchange earner.

It is estimated that the country’s wildlife earns an average of Sh8.4 billion per year with considerable prospects for growth. “Approximately 20 to 30 per cent plant and animal species are at high risk of extinction as global temperatures (rise),” said Dr Nyunja. She said that up to 35 per cent of birds, 52 per cent of amphibians and 71 per cent of reef-building corals were threatened by climate change. She said an increase in sea temperatures would raise acidity resulting into coral “bleaching”. Dr Nyunja said that the increased frequency of wild fires had affected wildlife and resulted in loss of biodiversity. She said there was need to map out areas prone to wild fires, provide adequate capacity to fight the fires, and develop proper road networks in parks to make them easily accessible.

“In areas such as Laikipia, the drought has resulted in the death of young elephants as they cannot reach foliage high up in trees. Statistics at KWS show that more than 30 elephants have died since 2007,” said Dr Nyunja. She said wildlife mortalities arising from diseases were also likely to increase as livestock interacts with wildlife, especially in areas where parks border pastoralists. “Increase in human-wildlife conflicts due to competition for resources has also contributed to an increase in wildlife mortalities,” said Dr Nyunja.


El Nino cycle to give U.S. Northeast Coldest Winter in a Decade

Climate variations are produced by oscillations in wind and ocean currents! How pesky for the Warmists!

The U.S. Northeast may have the coldest winter in a decade because of a weak El Nino, a warming current in the Pacific Ocean, according to Matt Rogers, a forecaster at Commodity Weather Group. “Weak El Ninos are notorious for cold and snowy weather on the Eastern seaboard,” Rogers said in a Bloomberg Television interview from Washington. “About 70 percent to 75 percent of the time a weak El Nino will deliver the goods in terms of above-normal heating demand and cold weather. It’s pretty good odds.”

Warming in the Pacific often means fewer Atlantic hurricanes and higher temperatures in the U.S. Northeast during January, February and March, according to the National Weather Service. El Nino occurs every two to five years, on average, and lasts about 12 months, according to the service.

Hedge-fund managers and other large speculators increased their net-long positions, or bets prices will rise, in New York heating oil futures in the week ended Sep. 22, according to U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data Sept. 25. “It could be one of the coldest winters, or the coldest, winter of the decade,” Rogers said.

U.S. inventories of distillate fuels, which include heating oil, are at their highest since January 1983, the U.S. Energy Department said Sept. 23. Stockpiles of 170.8 million barrels in the week ended Sept. 18 are 28 percent above the five-year average. Heating oil for October delivery rose 1.38 cents, or 0.8 percent, to settle at $1.6909 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange.



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


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Google monkey business again

They have blocked me from updating DISSECTING LEFTISM on the pretext that it seems to be a spam blog. Since it has had daily updates since July 2002, they must have moronic algorithms to think so. Even more moronic is the fact that they have not blocked the large font version of the blog, which has identical content and is also updated daily. I have applied for a review of the block so I hope the block is lifted soon. I am not due to post there again until roughly 12 hours from now. They have blocked this blog three times.

Our Earth and climate change

Another dissenter writes below. Doug Wyatt is a Ph. D. geologist and geophysicist

As a geoscientist who works in that often strange area where government policy, academia and commercial practicality overlap I fully understand the quote, paraphrased from Heraclitus, circa 500BC, that "nothing is constant except change." I suspect Heraclitus had some geoscientist in him.

A recent article in EOS, the weekly magazine of the American Geophysical Union, by Kastens and others, describes a study, by a very diverse research group including theologians, anthropologists, sociologists, as well as earth scientists, about how geoscientists think. Geoscientists think temporally, in time, far into the past and future, think of the earth as a system of complex inter-related processes, stress learning based on observations of data from what the Earth tells us, and think spatially about how things are arranged in all dimensions. Change is inherent in a geologist's understanding of the Earth and is a principal tool for defining what happens between various observed events. Thinking like a geologist is a very good approach to understanding large-scale, complex problems and this includes climate change.

The issue surrounding the current climate change concern, in reality, only involves two concepts - the climate is changing and CO2 from man-made sources is the cause, or the climate is changing and it is a natural process. Common to both concepts is that the climate is changing - remember Heraclitus - and nobody argues that fact. Those scientists who study the Earth always see in their data the continuous process of global climate change occurring in predictable cycles far into the past. As a matter of fact, we count on those changes to help us understand the present and predict effects in the future.

All geoscientists, whether they study groundwater, volcanoes, earthquakes, shorelines, work in environmental cleanup, look for oil and gas, search for minerals, evaluate foundations, search the deep sea, or explore the Arctic, depend, as a primary source of information, on the cyclical process of past climate changes to help them understand the Earth. Everything that depends on geoscience knowledge, from roadways and dams, nuclear waste storage and landfills, beach renewal to hazardous waste cleanup, and anything that involves our utilization of the Earth, also depends on the understanding of past climate change processes that have produced the planet we currently know.

Thank goodness we can understand the past Earth because it is a sure predictor of what will happen in the future Earth. It is scientific folly at the most, and irrational at the least, to assume that all of a sudden the long-standing processes that affect Earth are now a lesser influence than man-made activities. There is a humanistic component to this assumption. The Earth is changing, change must be bad, humans are the greatest influence on the planet, therefore humans must be bad. The assumption implies we must "fix" the planet. We can do much, but our ability to change our orbit, regulate the sun, stop the continents, re-route ocean currents, or even accurately predict next months weather is not currently among our skills. They might be one day with more 'understanding'. Heraclitus had it right, 'change' happens, and what we must strive for is an 'understanding' of change in order to benefit from it.

There is an old joke often heard in the Earth sciences. If you ask mathematicians what two plus two is, they will say, in purist understanding, "four". If you ask an engineer what two plus two is they will say, in an engineering understanding, "four point zero." However, if you ask a geoscientist what two plus two is your answer may likely be "three for low values of two and five for high values of two" reflecting the wide range of variability found in the Earth and the understanding that change is a constant.

What we need to change is our understanding of climate and the Earth as a whole. The Earth is constantly changing, typically in cycles, always in fact, and as humans, we can strive to understand the processes of change. As humans, we are a change agent, as part of the complex set of systems that operate on our planet. Human effects on our environment must always be considered but within the balance of all existing natural Earth processes. However, human activities simply cannot dominate long-standing natural Earth processes. As numerous and important as we see ourselves, we pale in comparison to the large-scale, ancient processes and changes that define our planet. We must understand this in order to move forward. Our future welfare depends on it.


Another 'Couldifmite' Weasel Word Global Warming Story From Reuters

Could. If. Might. Take a look at almost any global warming alarmism story and you are likely to see a plethora of those speculative weasel words. It happens so frequently that your humble correspondent, in his previous global warming story about the "Modoki," labeled a new term incorporating those words: "Couldifmite."

It was my recommendation that a mineral rock be given the name of Couldifmite. Any MSM reporter in the vicinity of of Couldifmite will be subjected to the uncontrollable urge to overload his global warming stories with "could," "if," and "might" along with the related speculative weasel words of "may" and "should." Okay, there probably won't be a rock that would be given that name but it could happen if some geologist out there might have a good sense of humor. See, even I can play the Couldifmite game.

However, Gerard Wynn of Reuters isn't joking. He goes full scale Couldifmite in this latest global warming story. Even the intro to his story is chock full of Couldifmite: "Global temperatures could rise 4 degrees by 2050s. Rainfall may fall by a fifth in many regions"

This is only the Couldifmite warmup for the body of the story and Wynn does not disappoint:
LONDON, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Global temperatures may be 4 degrees Celsius hotter by the mid-2050s if current greenhouse gas emissions trends continue, said a study published on Monday.

...Leaders of the main greenhouse gas-emitting countries recognised in July a scientific view that temperatures should not exceed 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, to avoid more dangerous changes to the world's climate.

...Temperature rises are compared with pre-industrial levels. The world warmed 0.7 degrees last century, scientists say.

Really? So how accurate were measuring instruments at the start of the 20th century to make that assertion? Plus there were still areas of the earth unexplored. Roald Amundsen did not reach the South Pole until 1911 so how were temperature measurements there even made before then? Same is true of the North Pole prior to 1909 yet we are assured that the world warmed 0.7 degrees last century. Not 0.6 or 0.8 degrees but 0.7 degrees state the scientists based on crude measurements at the early part of the century and incorporating large parts of the globe that were not even accessible back then.
A global average increase of 4 degrees masked higher regional increases, including more than 15 degrees warmer temperatures in parts of the Arctic, and up to 10 degrees higher in western and southern Africa, Monday's study found.

Whoa! Stop the music! At the beginning of this article we are told that global average temperature could rise by 4 degrees celsius. Suddenly "could" is dropped and we are presented with this speculative forecast as an absolute fact as if it already happened. Sorry, 2050 is still over 40 years away.

It appears that Gerard Wynn needs another dose of those Couldifmite rays to keep his global warming speculation story in order.


Greenie destructiveness in high gear in California

Sen. Dianne Feinstein votes to deny water to California's drought-stricken San Joaquin Valley. Farmers, families and food are being held hostage to an endangered fish called the delta smelt.

There was a time when the San Joaquin Valley was the most productive agricultural region in the world. It was a large part of what made the Golden State golden. Now it's a place where farmers no longer farm, but instead line up at food banks to feed the families of those who once fed the rest of the country and a good chunk of the world.

The largest man-made agricultural disaster since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s is unfolding in the valley due to yet another attempt to protect a fish declared to be threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This damage is being done to protect the hypomesus transpacificus, otherwise known as the delta smelt. Last December the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in its finite wisdom, issued something called a biological opinion imposing water restrictions on the San Joaquin Valley and surrounding areas to protect the habitat of this tiny fish. The authorities forget the species homo sapiens, also part of the ecosystem, is threatened. Its habitat is being destroyed — by government edict.

To protect the smelt, billions of gallons of water from the mountains east and north of Sacramento have been channeled away from farms and into the ocean, while farmers watched their crops wither and their once-productive land become barren.

Kern County authorities say that 145,000 acres that are usually irrigated with this water were killed or underirrigated last year. The loss was estimated at $100 million in that county alone. The University of California, Davis, estimates that San Joaquin Valley farm revenue losses ranged from $482 million to $647 million. Total economic losses could hit $3 billion this year. In affected areas, the jobless rate is at 14%, with farming towns such as Mendota experiencing unemployment near 40%. In August, 50 valley mayors signed a letter to President Obama asking him to come and witness the devastation firsthand.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he "doesn't have the authority to turn on the pumps" that the feds have ordered turned off. In June, the administration denied his request to designate California a federal disaster area because of the drought even though the U.S. Drought Monitor lists 43% of the state as being under "severe drought" conditions.


"Green" British councils escalate their war on garbage

Worried residents thought their rubbish was being stolen when council 'spies' dressed in hoodies started rifling through their bins. Concerned neighbours saw mysterious men emptying their bins into black sacks and loading them into an unmarked white van. When homeowners questioned the official binmen an hour later they learned their council was conducting a survey of what was being thrown away.

The 'spies' were part of a week-long waste analysis study by the Northamptonshire Waste Partnership, a collaboration of eight local authorities working to reduce rubbish going to landfill. An external contractor was told to go through the bins of residents. One thousand houses were targeted as part of the survey, including 780 in Northamptonshire.

But none of the inhabitants of Cedar Close, Irchester, near Wellingborough, Northants, had received any notice from their council about what was going on. Resident Gillian Barnett, 61, said the snoopers made her feel 'very uncomfortable'. She said: 'Three young men parked outside my house and just started going through my bins - I thought they were pinching my rubbish. It was very suspicious. 'We haven't had a leaftlet or a letter, all my neighbours were going round asking each other what was happening. 'If they'd had "County Council" marked on their van it would have been less concerning but as it was nobody knew what was going on. 'It made me worry about what I had put in the bin - I didn't know I was going to be fined or what. 'I heard this was happening in nearby streets like Pine Close too.'

Another resident, who asked to remain anonymous, slammed the council for using 'Big Brother' tactics.

Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough Borough Councils have authorised waste experts Resource Futures to go through the bins of people living in their boroughs as part of this survey. This was to provide Project Reduce - a £138million government-funded enterprise headed by Northamptonshire County Council and Milton Keynes Council - with information about what was being sent to landfills.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive at the TaxPayers' Alliance, condemned Northampton County Council for what he described as an 'aggressive' campaign. He said: 'This sneaky behaviour on the part of the council is underhand and alarming. 'Taxpayers are sick and tired of being spied on by their councils, it is an infringement of both their dignity and personal space. 'People are doing all they can to recycle, if they are throwing something away it's because they have to. 'This approach is unnecessarily aggressive and a waste of taxpayers' money and precious resources.'

But a Northampton County Council spokeswoman insisted the survey was purely for informative purposes. She said: 'This is not a punitive measure and all data gathered will be kept strictly confidential. 'We just want to gather more information about what people are throwing away so we can target our resources to better meet their needs.'..

Corby Council lead member for the environment Cllr Peter McEwan said: 'Landfill charges are currently in excess of £60 per tonne and rising. 'It is vital that we continue to search for cleaner, greener ways to treat and dispose of our rubbish.'



Three current articles grouped below

Lots of climate skeptics among Australia's conservatives

(Reminder for readers outside Australia: The Liberal party is Australia's major conservative party)

Only 12 members of Malcolm Turnbull's backbench support their leader's plan to negotiate with Labor on an emissions scheme. [And the National Party is SOLIDLY opposed]

The opposition's emissions trading spokesman says he's not surprised two-thirds of Liberal backbenchers are opposed to negotiating with Labor over its carbon pollution reduction scheme. But Ian Macfarlane insists the alternative is to let Kevin Rudd force a "crazy" scheme on Australia that could destroy the economy. It's been revealed more than two-thirds of Liberal backbenchers disagree with Malcolm Turnbull's plan to negotiate amendments with the government on its ETS.

Just 12 of 59 federal Liberal MPs support Mr Turnbull's decision to negotiate, The Australian reports. Another 41 want the opposition to either oppose the draft laws completely or negotiate amendments only if a parliamentary vote is delayed until after global climate change talks in December.

"It is obvious to everyone on our side of politics that this is an emissions trading scheme, in its current form, that will cost jobs and will see industry close and move overseas," Mr Macfarlane told ABC Radio. "On that basis, I'm not surprised to see such strong opposition from the backbench." But while everyone in the coalition would prefer the legislation not to come before parliament until after Copenhagen, the prime minister was vowing to rush "headlong into this" so the coalition had to negotiate.

"I'm being pragmatic and I'm being open with everybody," Mr Macfarlane said. "The reality is we do not control the parliament. Control of the parliament lies with the prime minister (and) he is on this crazy path that will potentially destroy Australia's economy. "Without being able to stop him we need to ensure that the legislation that goes forward is in fact legislation that will protect jobs ... and industry." Mr Macfarlane admitted the partyroom would have the final say, but stressed the best option was to amend the legislation "if Kevin Rudd won't see sense".


Victoria celebrates as September's rainfall hits highest level since 2000

A teeth-grinder for the Greenies and their claim that drought proves global warming. Only disaster makes them happy

FARMERS are rejoicing in the best September rainfall for nine years, which could have far-reaching benefits for the Victorian economy. The Wimmera and Mallee in particular have had significant falls, providing a much-needed boost for local farmers. "A lot of people who would have been questioning their future have had their faith restored," said Farmers Federation president Andrew Broad. "It is pretty much the best start to spring we could have hoped for."

At the weekend, many parts of the state gained more than 100mm [4 inches] in 72 hours. The wettest area is Mt Baw Baw, which has received 357mm of rain this month.

And it is also good news in Melbourne as well, with the city's catchments boasting an increase of 17 billion litres. Water storages for the capital have risen from 30.8 to 31.7 per cent. But while Victoria celebrates, parts of southern NSW are still up to 20 per cent below their average for the month.


Coal firms' advertisements hit emissions plan

COALMINING companies have rolled out a multi-million-dollar advertising campaign in key mining areas warning that the Rudd government's emissions trading scheme could force pit closures and job losses. The campaign - designed by Neil Lawrence, creator of the "Kevin 07" advertising blitz that helped put Labor into office - was launched yesterday by Australian Coal Association executive director Ralph Hillman. The "Let's Cut Emissions, not Jobs" campaign began in central Queensland, which includes the key Labor-held seats of Flynn, Capricornia and Dawson, and will be rolled out in other major coalmining areas such as the Hunter Valley in NSW.

Mr Hillman said Canberra's proposed carbon reduction scheme was flawed in its treatment of coal. "The proposed plan would not cut carbon emissions while costing regional Queensland thousands of coal industry jobs," he said.

The advertisements were launched as Anglo-American chief executive Cynthia Carroll warned the ETS could cost Australia's coal industry $14 billion in its first 10 years of operation. The ads, to run on regional TV, radio and newspapers, say: "A new tax on coal mines is coming. Many thousands of regional jobs could be going."

But Assistant Climate Change Minister Greg Combet said Treasury modelling showed the coal industry would continue to grow under the government's scheme. He said only about 12 per cent of Australian coalmines would face a "material" cost under Canberra's plan, and they had been allocated $750 million in targeted assistance over the first five years of the scheme.

Mr Hillman said the coal industry accepted the science of global warming and supported action to cut carbon in the atmosphere. He said the campaign - revealed last week by The Australian - was being run because coalmining communities had not been properly warned of the effects on regional areas of the scheme in its current form. "People need to understand mines will close and thousands of jobs could go as a direct result of the proposed tax," he said. "Even more frustrating is the reality that global carbon emissions will not be reduced."



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


Monday, September 28, 2009

Massive scientific fraud: Blatant and grossly deceptive data selection ("cherrypicking") by Warmist "scientists"

These guys would not make a real scientist's a**hole. They were pretending to use tree-ring data to create a picture of the climate before thermometers were invented. And they claimed that their data showed no Medieval warm period but record warming in the late 20th century. And their data did exactly that. But how did they get their data? By ignoring a whole heap of data and just picking out a tiny subset of trees that suited their preconceptions. And if you use ALL the tree-ring data, you get totally opposite results. See the divergence in the graph below. Following the graph is a summary of the huge battle skeptical scientists had in order to get the raw data concerned. The Warmists knew that they had committed a repeated fraud and did their damndest to cover it up. Scientific fraud is a serious matter. They should lose their jobs.

Here’s a re-cap of this saga that should make clear the stunning importance of what Steve has found. One point of terminology: a tree ring record from a site is called a chronology, and is made up of tree ring records from individual trees at that site. Multiple tree ring series are combined using standard statistical algorithms that involve detrending and averaging (these methods are not at issue in this thread). A good chronology–good enough for research that is–should have at least 10 trees in it, and typically has much more.

1. In a 1995 Nature paper by Briffa, Schweingruber et al., they reported that 1032 was the coldest year of the millennium – right in the middle of the Medieval Warm Period. But the reconstruction depended on 3 short tree ring cores from the Polar Urals whose dating was very problematic.

2. In the 1990s, Schweingruber obtained new Polar Urals data with more securely-dated cores for the MWP. Neither Briffa nor Schweingruber published a new Polar Urals chronology using this data. An updated chronology with this data would have yielded a very different picture, namely a warm medieval era and no anomalous 20th century. Rather than using the updated Polar Urals series, Briffa calculated a new chronology from Yamal – one which had an enormous hockey stick shape. After its publication, in virtually every study, Hockey Team members dropped Polar Urals altogether and substituted Briffa’s Yamal series in its place. PS: The exception to this pattern was Esper et al (Science) 2002, which used the combined Polar Urals data. But Esper refused to provide his data. Steve got it in 2006 after extensive quasi-litigation with Science (over 30 email requests and demands).

3. Subsequently, countless studies appeared from the Team that not only used the Yamal data in place of the Polar Urals, but where Yamal had a critical impact on the relative ranking of the 20th century versus the medieval era.

4. Meanwhile Briffa repeatedly refused to release the Yamal measurement data used inhis calculation despite multiple uses of this series at journals that claimed to require data archiving. E.g.

5. Then one day Briffa et al. published a paper in 2008 using the Yamal series, again without archiving it. However they published in a Phil Tran Royal Soc journal which has strict data sharing rules. Steve got on the case.

6. A short time ago, with the help of the journal editors, the data was pried loose and appeared at the CRU web site.

7. It turns out that the late 20th century in the Yamal series has only 10 tree ring chronologies after 1990 (5 after 1995), making it too thin a sample to use (according to conventional rules). But the real problem wasn’t that there were only 5-10 late 20th century cores- there must have been a lot more. They were only using a subset of 10 cores as of 1990, but there was no reason to use a small subset. (Had these been randomly selected, this would be a thin sample, but perhaps passable. But it appears that they weren’t randomly selected.)

8. Faced with a sample in the Taymir chronology that likely had 3-4 times as many series as the Yamal chronology, Briffa added in data from other researchers’ samples taken at the Avam site, some 400 km away. He also used data from the Schweingruber sampling program circa 1990, also taken about 400 km from Taymir. Regardless of the merits or otherwise of pooling samples from such disparate locations, this establishes a precedent where Briffa added a Schweingruber site to provide additional samples. This, incidentally, ramped up the hockey-stickness of the (now Avam-) Taymir chronology.

9. Steve thus looked for data from other samples at or near the Yamal site that could have been used to increase the sample size in the Briffa Yamal chronology. He quickly discovered a large set of 34 Schweingruber samples from living trees. Using these instead of the 12 trees in the Briffa (CRU) group that extend to the present yields Figure 2, showing a complete divergence in the 20th century. Thus the Schweingruber data completely contradicts the CRU series. Bear in mind the close collaboration of Schweingruber and Briffa all this time, and their habit of using one another’s data as needed.

10. Combining the CRU and Schweingruber data yields the green line in the 3rd figure above. While it doesn’t go down at the end, neither does it go up, and it yields a medieval era warmer than the present, on the standard interpretation. Thus the key ingredient in a lot of the studies that have been invoked to support the Hockey Stick, namely the Briffa Yamal series (red line above) depends on the influence of a thin subsample of post-1990 chronologies and the exclusion of the (much larger) collection of readily-available Schweingruber data for the same area.


Garbage In, Gospel Out

The global-warming crowd has absurd faith in computer modeling

There are two kinds of models that mean anything to most Americans. There are the models who pose for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue or the cover of Vogue, date movie stars, host talk shows, and have their antics chronicled on Page Six of the New York Post. Then there are computer models, those nerdy systems driven by thousands of points of data input. This latter type of model serves as the fundamental basis for the belief that unchecked anthropogenic global warming imperils the planet.

These two types of models don’t overlap much — but they do have one critical feature in common: Each suffers from severe limitations. Runway models’ limitations keep the vast majority of them from crossing over into areas like acting or singing — professions that require savvy and talent along with beauty. The limitations of the computer models on which the entire global-warming edifice is built are even more severe, and they could have a profound effect on every single American.

In considering these limitations, it’s worth reviewing the history of using computers to predict the future. In the 1950s, an MIT researcher named Jay Forrester helped develop the first large digital computers. These were designed to track and defend against Soviet bombers, and they worked very well. Soon, Forrester began using the newly arriving generations of IBM mainframes for more general modeling applications, such as for industries and cities. “From a computer’s perspective, the problems were not all that different from tracking bombers,” wrote Peter Huber in his 2000 book Hard Green, which provides a wonderful account of computer models and their limitations. It was a matter of moving otherwise-unsolvable equations into the powerful new computers, and the results were decidedly positive.

At this point, there was every reason to think that running other problems through these increasingly powerful machines would yield useful results. That was the thinking that led Forrester to collaborate with the Club of Rome in the early 1970s. They devised a model of planetary resources that considered a variety of interconnected dynamic systems and global scenarios — death rates, birth rates, natural-resource depletion, population density, capital investment, crowding, pollution, etc. They fed the model into a large MIT mainframe and flipped the switch.

Forrester’s partners published the results in the 1972 bestseller Limits to Growth. They predicted a rapidly growing global population combining with rapid resource depletion to spark violent social upheaval. Limits to Growth suggested that disasters and die-offs were imminent, and that the survivors would live in a world of misery and scarcity.

The model turned out to be wrong — spectacularly and embarrassingly wrong. Despite a large increase in world population, people all over the globe are richer and healthier than they were when Limits to Growth made its predictions. Not only did the Club of Rome fail to predict the future with any accuracy, it failed to account accurately for the past; its model showed that quality of life had peaked three decades earlier.

How could this happen? Turns out the model Forrester had dreamed up could only do so much. Obsessing about population growth, Forrester plugged into his model the mouths that would need to be fed. But he didn’t consider that each mouth was accompanied by a brain, and that brains create wealth and solutions that tend to offset the needs of the mouths. Neither could Forrester successfully model the workings of markets. “If markets could be reliably modeled, as the Soviets thought they could, we wouldn’t need markets at all,” wrote Huber.

Today, computer models predict everything from the stock market to virus outbreaks. And the sole basis for calls to pass cap-and-trade legislation, to drastically curb greenhouse-gas emissions, and to fundamentally reorient the world’s energy economy are projections from the computer models employed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Unlike the Club of Rome’s calculations, which tried to divine the relatively near future (2000), today’s considerably more complicated climate models purport to tell us how the world will look nearly a century out.

The models, data, and methodology have certainly improved since the Club of Rome took its crack 37 years ago. But they still leave much to be desired. Consider the comments of the eminent physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson, who said recently, “I have studied their climate models and know what they can do. . . . The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics and do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and biology of fields, farms, and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in.”

Unable to accurately describe and account for these factors, modelers “parameterize” them. Freeman says the problems with that approach are obvious: “They are full of fudge factors that are fitted to the existing climate, so the models more or less agree with the observed data. But there is no reason to believe that the same fudge factors would give the right behavior in a world with different chemistry, for example in a world with increased CO2 in the atmosphere.”

Some fear that it may not be only the models’ variables that are being fudged. Pat Michaels details elsewhere on NRO today the disconcerting facts about the U.K.’s Climate Research Unit, which has repeatedly refused to release its global surface-temperature data so that its climate modeling can be verified by outside experts — and now claims that the raw data have been lost.

What does that say about the trust the public is supposed to place in those who tell us that the world is heading for disaster? Ultimately, what you put into your model determines what you get out of it. If you subscribe to the notion that even the least plausible catastrophe is at least a possibility, you can make your model predict it.

None of these flaws necessarily mean that the IPCC’s predictions for temperature and sea-level rise by 2100 will not materialize. On the other hand, they should inspire some skepticism.

If there is one factor that should make us all sit up and take notice about the deficiencies inherent in modeling, it was supplied in a recent article by Vinod Khosla — the Sun Microsystems co-founder and green venture capitalist who in 2006 helped bankroll California’s failed Proposition 87. Had it passed, Prop 87 would have socked Golden State oil companies with extra taxes and given that money to renewable-energy ventures. Among the cap-and-trade crowd, Khosla is a prophet on the level of Al Gore, and he’s a prized speaker on the clean-energy lecture circuit.

In a recent piece for Grist on the future of electric cars, Khosla wrote: " So what kinds of technology are we investing in? I think the traditional approach to lithium ion battery making, such as A123, is going to be competing in an overheated, nearly-commoditized market and will probably not (I guess never say never!) get down the cost curve in the next 5 years. (Longer-term forecasts are futile because so-called experts can make anything they want up — we all know long term we will be on fusion power.)"

That second parenthetical could hardly be more telling, coming as it does from an established leader of the green brigade, a billionaire activist who counsels President Obama’s White House on climate-change policy. In essence, what Khosla is saying is that when you are investing your own money, you shouldn’t trust a forecast looking more than five years out because “experts can make anything they want up.”

Fair point, and good investment advice. But shouldn’t it apply to climate policy as well? The IPCC’s “so-called experts” aren’t offering five-year forecasts, but 100-year ones. Do the rules of forecasting somehow change when the subject is justifying higher energy taxes, or justifying the punitive taxation of oil companies to give their profits to uneconomic green-energy projects? Probably not, which suggests at the end of the day that the green regime is more interested in political payoff than in applying sound science and analysis to questions about climate change. One would hope that even a supermodel could figure that out.


CO2 is not melting the Arctic

It is modern myth that CO2 is melting the Arctic sea ice. No doubt many people will take immediate offence at the mere title of this post but they would do well to listen to the data before they jump. CO2 is supposed to heat the earth's atmosphere and then would melt the ice from above. The atmosphere can't get past the ice to warm the water below so the only logical conclusion is that a warm atmosphere should melt the ice from above.

But what is happening is the Arctic ice is melting from below due to warm waters that normally are about 100-200 m below the surface. I am going to show that due to a change in the winds, the Arctic ocean became more salty (salinization). The increase in salinity caused the underlying deeper waters to come into contact with the ice above, which melts the Arctic ice from below. Unless one can demonstrate that the wind change is due to global warming, one can't claim that CO2 is melting the Arctic ic.

Let's start by looking at the vertical temperature profile of the Arctic ocean. The surface layer, the layer in which the ice floats, is in general is fresher than the warm Atlantic sea water below.

Note that about 200 meters beneath the sea surface, the water temperature is 2 deg C--well above the melting point. If that heat can get up to the surficial layer, past the fresh water, it would melt the ice. Since fresh water is less dense than salt water, the density difference is what keeps the warm water from the ice.

Now, the halocline, the layer of fresh water is about 50-100 meters thick. The ice above is only about 3 meters thick--people think the Arctic sea ice is hundreds of feet thick but it isn't ( What happened in the Arctic is that the halocline, the freshwater layer has been destroyed, or significantly reduced, and that has allowed heat from below to rise beneath the ice, melting it.

Much more HERE

Who are the Branch Carbonians?

Are radical environmentalists members of a political movement or more like the devotees of a religious cult, one that might dubbed the Branch Carbonians?’s Jim Guirardi suggests the label and offers an illuminating case for the latter in this post from the American Thinker.

There is much more to Guirardi’s piece, but as a sample, here are his 10 reasons these fanatical devotees qualify as participants in a cult. If these sound somehow familiar, they are based on the criteria elaborated upon in the 2003 book, “Kingdom of the Cults,” by Walter Martin and Ravi Zacharia:

1. Leadership by a self-glorifying, manipulative New Age Prophet -- in this case, former Vice-President Al Gore, though he is rapidly being supplanted by President Barack Obama.

2. Assertion of an apocalyptic threat to all mankind.

3. An absolutist definition of both the threat and the proposed solution(s).

4. Promise of a salvation from this pending apocalypse.

5. Devotion to an inspired text which (arguendo) embodies all the answers -- in this case, Prophet Gore's pseudo-scientific book "Earth in the Balance" and his more recent "An Inconvenient Truth" documentary.

6. A specific list of "truths" (see the Ten Commandments listed below) which must be embraced and proselytized by all Cult members..

7. An absolute intolerance of any deviation from any of these truths by any Cult member.

8. A strident intolerance of any outside criticism of the Cult's definition of the problem or of its proposed solutions.

9. A "Heaven-on-Earth" vision of the results of the mission's success and/or a "Hell-on-Earth" result if the cultic mission should fail.

10. An inordinate fear (and an outright rejection of the possibility) of being proven wrong in either the apocalyptic vision or the proposed salvation.



European leaders voiced growing doubts on whether the world will meet a December deadline for a new climate deal as a summit here looked set to take up global warming in generalities. Twenty leaders who represent 90 percent of the global economy were holding two days of talks in the eastern US city of Pittsburgh, itself billed as a model of transition from decaying steel town to a green technology hub.

The summit opened two days after a high-powered climate meet at the United Nations, where Japan and China offered new pledges on how to save the world from rising temperatures predicted to threaten entire species if unchecked. But with just a little more than two months before a conference in Copenhagen -- designated two years ago as the venue to seal the successor to the landmark Kyoto Protocol -- pessimism was growing. "When it comes to the negotiations, they are in fact slowing down; they are not going in the right direction," said Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, the current head of the European Union. "We are very worried that we need to speed up the negotiations," he said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also sounded a sour note. "There has been progress, in particular from the Chinese side, from the Japanese side now, and the UN meeting with (UN Secretary General) Ban Ki-moon," Merkel told reporters in Berlin before heading to Pittsburgh. "But I have to say that when I consider what still has to be achieved before Copenhagen, we cannot be happy," she said.

World leaders are expected to discuss climate change in Pittsburgh but few expected any breakthrough. Climate negotiators, however, will meet next week in Bangkok in a new effort to make progress before Copenhagen. The Kyoto Protocol's obligations for rich nations to cut emissions blamed for global warming expire at the end of 2012.

President Barack Obama sharply reversed the US line on global warming after assuming the White House in January by pledging to take strong action, although Congress has yet to finalize legislation on restricting emissions.

Despite their divisions over the Kyoto Protocol, developed nations are united in insisting that emerging economies must make commitments under the next treaty. Chinese President Hu Jintao told the UN summit that the emerging power would reduce the intensity of its carbon emissions as its economy keeps growing but offered no figure.

Japan's new left-leaning prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, pledged to ramp up the emission-cutting commitment of the world's second largest economy, in one of the few major recent gestures on climate change by developed nations.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who ratified the Kyoto Protocol as his first act in office in 2007, said that developed and developing nations all favored a new treaty but needed to find a "grand bargin" to seal the deal. Rudd, speaking to students at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University, said that the Group of 20 should see a climate deal as a way toward a sustainable growth in the world economy. "Beyond avoiding another crisis, our parallel challenge is how to generate the economic growth and the jobs of the future given that the debt-driven consumption model of the past is unlikely to be trusted anymore," he said. A climate deal could "turn the threat of climate change into a great transformational economic opportunity," he said.


Australia: Solar Energy Hits the Dust

Dust on a solar panel will reduce its efficiency by up to 50%. See here

The Day Solar Energy disappeared in the Australian Dust Storm (23/9/09). This picture was taken from the office of the Carbon Sense Coalition in south eastern Queensland, Australia.

The green coalition in Canberra recently decreed that by 2020, just a decade away, Australia must produce 20% of its power using feeble energy sources such as sunbeams and sea breezes. This Green Plan will require vast areas of dry and dusty Australian deserts to be covered by solar panels.

Have they allowed for the army of cleaning persons and the Murray Rivers of water that will be needed to wash the panels after every dust storm? Maybe this where the Green jobs are coming from, and why Penny Wong is hoarding water permits?



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


Sunday, September 27, 2009


An email below from Patrick Moore [], a co-founder of Greenpeace, to Benny Peiser

The issue of melting glaciers in the Himalayas, and elsewhere, makes my head hurt due to cognitive dissonance.

The UN COP15 Newsletter states, "Mountain glaciers in Asia are melting at a rate that could eventually threaten water supplies, irrigation or hydropower for 20 percent to 25 percent of the world's population, according to the UNEP report."

Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute puts it this way, "The melting of the glaciers in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan Plateau will deprive the Indus, Ganges, Yangtze and Yellow rivers of the ice melt that sustains their flow during the dry season and the irrigation systems that depend on them."

In other words the supply of melt water from the melting glaciers is threatened by the melting of the glaciers. This is correct in that if the glaciers melt completely there will be no more melt water from the glaciers.

What if the glaciers were not melting due to a colder climate? Then where would the irrigation water come from? How about if the glaciers were advancing 100 meters per year toward the villages that need the melt water for irrigation? How does the logic of this situation escape these bright minds?

It snows every winter in the Himalayas. When the snow melts it fills the rivers. Where there is net melting of the glaciers this adds additional water to the rivers. But they can't have it both ways. If they want to have continued melt water from the glaciers then the glaciers must continue to melt. Seeing that the glaciers are finite in size this would eventually result in no glacier, and reliance on annual snow melt. Am I missing something here?


Barack Obama has talked down the importance of sealing a global deal on climate change before the end of the year, world leaders said yesterday.

Obama's comments, made in private talks at the G20 summit, downplay the need to reach a strong deal at UN talks in Copenhagen in December and contradict the United Nations and others, who have billed the meeting as a crucial moment for the world to avoid catastrophic global warming. The president did win a partial victory on his signature climate issue at this G20 summit – removing fossil fuel subsidies – but there was no headway on the much bigger issue of climate finance, which Obama had taken up as his issue at the last G20.

Barring small but significant steps forward from China and India, there has been little progress this week at a UN summit or the G20 towards a deal at Copenhagen. Obama's remarks yesterday resonated among world leaders, who have been looking to America – as historically the world's greatest polluter – to lead on climate change.

"I would cite what President Obama said to us at our meetings and that is that while Copenhagen is a very important meeting we should not view it as a make or break on climate change. It will be a step, an ongoing step, in an important world process to deal with this critical issue," Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, said yesterday. Harper cited the comments when he said he was not inclined to take up Gordon Brown's challenge to attend the meeting himself, in order to add political weight to the negotiations.

South Korea's Lee Myung-bak also referenced Obama's remarks. "The Copenhagen climate summit meeting is not the end, but it is going to be the start of a new beginning, and having that kind of perception is more realistic," he said. There was no immediate comment from the White House on Obama's remarks.

It is accepted that the Copenhagen negotiations will not be able to finalise all details of a treaty to get the world to act together on global warming. But Obama's comments could jeopardise efforts to get the most comprehensive agreement possible, said observers.



By David Whitehouse

The recent spate of scientific papers that are attempting to predict what the earth’s temperature might be in the coming decades, and also explain the current global temperature standstill, are very interesting because of the methods used to analyse temperature variations, and because they illustrate the limitations of our knowledge.

Recall that only one or two annual data points ago many scientists, as well as the most vocal ‘campaigners,’ dismissed the very idea that the world’s average annual temperature had not changed in the past decade. Today it is an observational fact that can no longer be ignored. We should also not forget that nobody anticipated it. Now, post facto, scientists are looking for an explanation, and in doing so we are seeing AGW in a new light.

The main conclusion, and perhaps it’s no surprise, to be drawn about what will happen to global temperatures is that nobody knows.

The other conclusion to be drawn is that without exception the papers assume a constantly increasing AGW in line with the increase of CO2. This means that any forecast will ultimately lead to rising temperatures as AGW is forever upward and natural variations have their limits. But there is another way of looking at the data. Instead of assuming an increasing AGW why not look for evidence of it in the actual data. In other words let the data have primacy over the theory.

Lean and Rind try to isolate and analyse the various factors that affect decadal changes in the temperature record; El Nino, volcanic aerosols, solar irradiance and AGW. Their formula that links these factors together into a time series is quite simple (indeed there is nothing complicated about any of the papers looking at future temperature trends) though in the actual research paper there is not enough information to follow through their calculations completely.

El Nino typically produces 0.2 deg C warming, volcanic aerosols 0.3 deg C cooling on short timescales, solar irradiance 0.1 deg C (I will come back to this figure in a subsequent post) and the IPCC estimate of AGW is 0.1 deg C per decade.

It should also be noted that natural forces are able to produce a 0.5 deg C increase, although over a longer period. The 0.5 deg C warming observed between say 1850 and 1940 is not due to AGW.

The temperature increase since 1980 is in fact smaller than the rise seen between 1850 - 1940, approx 0.4 deg C. This took place in less than two decades and was followed by the current standstill. A fact often overlooked is that this recent temperature increase was much greater than that due to the postulated AGW effect (0.1 deg C per decade). It must have included natural increases of a greater magnitude.

This is curious. If the recent temperature standstill, 2002-2008, is due to natural factors counteracting AGW, and AGW was only a minor component of the 1980 -1998 temperature rise, then one could logically take the viewpoint that the increase could be due to a conspiracy of natural factors forcing the temperature up rather than keeping the temperature down post 2002. One cannot have one rule for the period 2002 - 2008 and another for 1980 -1998!

Lean and Rind estimate that 73% of the temperature variability observed in recent decades is natural. However, looking at the observed range of natural variants, and their uncertainties, one could make a case that the AGW component, which has only possibly shown itself between 1980 - 98, is not a required part of the dataset. Indeed, if one did not have in the back of one’s mind the rising CO2 concentration and the physics of the greenhouse effect, one could make out a good case for reproducing the post 1980 temperature dataset with no AGW!

Natural variations dominate any supposed AGW component over timescales of 3 - 4 decades. If that is so then how should be regard 18 years of warming and decades of standstills or cooling in an AGW context? At what point do we question the hypothesis of CO2 induced warming?

Lean and Rind (2009) look at the various factors known to cause variability in the earths temperature over decadal timescales. They come to the conclusion that between 2009-14 global temperatures will rise quickly by 0.15 deg C - faster than the 0.1 deg C per decade deduced as AGW by the IPCC. Then, in the period 2014-19, there will be only a 0.03 deg C increase. They believe this will be chiefly because of the effect of solar irradiance changes over the solar cycle. Lean and Rind see the 2014-19 period as being similar to the 2002-8 temperature standstill which they say has been caused by a decline in solar irradiance counteracting AGW.

This should case some of the more strident commentators to reflect. Many papers have been published dismissing the sun as a significant factor in AGW. The gist of them is that solar effects dominated up to 1950, but recently it has been swamped by AGW. Now however, we see that the previously dismissed tiny solar effect is able to hold AGW in check for well over a decade - in fact forcing a temperature standstill of duration comparable to the recent warming spell.

At least the predictions from the various papers are testable. Lean and Rind (2009) predict rapid warming. Looking at the other forecasts for near-future temperature changes we have Smith et al (2007) predicting warming, and Keenlyside et al (2008) predicting cooling.

At this point I am reminded that James Hansen ‘raised the alarm’ about global warming in 1988 when he had less than a decade of noisy global warming data on which to base his concern. The amount of warming he observed between 1980 and 1988 was far smaller than known natural variations and far larger than the IPCC would go on to say was due to AGW during that period. So whatever the eventual outcome of the AGW debate, logically Hansen had no scientific case.

There are considerable uncertainties in our understanding of natural factors that affect the earth’s temperature record. Given the IPCC’s estimate of the strength of the postulated AGW warming, it is clear that those uncertainties are larger than the AGW effect that may have been observed.


Lean and Rind 2009, Geophys Res Lett 36, L15708

Smith et al Science 2007, 317, 796 - 799

Keenlyside et al 2008, Nature 453, 84 - 88



The Arctic ice “is melting far faster than had been previously supposed,” we heard this week from the UN’s Environment Program, in releasing its 2009 Climate Change Science Compendium.

This same week, National Geographic reported that the Arctic ice is probably melting far slower than previously supposed. After ramping up the rhetoric — two years ago National Geographic told us that “the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions,” and last year that “Arctic warming has become so dramatic that the North Pole may melt this summer” — National Geographic now advises that “the Arctic probably won’t experience ice-free summers until 2030 or 2040.”

If you’re confused by stats on Arctic melting, you have lots of company. Arctic stats are easy to misunderstand because the Arctic environment is unlike our own — the Arctic magnifies the changes we experience in the temperate regions. In summer, our days get longer and theirs get really, really long, just as in winter, when our days gets shorter, theirs all but disappear. By analogy, the Arctic also magnifies temperature variations, and resulting changes to its physical environment.

In the Arctic, the ice has indeed been contracting, as the global warming doomsayers have been telling us. But it has also been expanding. The riddle of how the Arctic ice can both be contracting and expanding is easily explained. After you read the next two paragraphs, you’ll be able to describe it easily to your friends to set them straight.

Each winter, the Arctic ice pack rapidly expands and each summer it rapidly contracts, as you can see thanks to photos from a Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency satellite that tracks the changes in the ice pack. On its website, you can also get data showing the area of sea ice for every month going back to 2002.

Compare March of this year to previous Marches, for example, and you’ll see that the Arctic ice has been expanding of late — a story rarely told. But compare August of this year to previous Augusts and you’ll see that the August ice over the years has tended to contract — this is the basis of the scary stories that we hear about the Arctic ice disappearing. A snapshot of the Arctic ice, without knowledge of the bigger picture, can lead to scary conclusions.

To give your friends an even bigger picture, inform them that during the Little Ice Age, in the 1600s, much of the continent was frozen over. New Yorkers in winter could walk from Manhattan to Staten Island. Ever since, the ice has been contracting, spurring attempts by fabled explorers such as Henry Hudson and Sir John Franklin to seek a Northwest Passage through Canada’s Arctic. By the early 1900s, as we continued to come out of the Little Ice Age, the ice had receded enough to allow Roald Amundsen to traverse the Northwest Passage in fits and starts, his ship needing three years to navigate through the ice. Not until 1944 did the ice recede enough to allow a schooner to cross the Northwest Passage in a single season. The Northwest Passage remains too risky to allow commercial shipping to thrive, and although some have confidently predicted the advent of commercial shipping, the insurance premium required to navigate through the perilous ice floes effectively rules it out for the foreseeable future. If a new Little Ice Age soon sets in, as many scientists consider likely, commercial shipping will not happen in our lifetimes.

By taking a snapshot in time, and by ignoring the history and the ecology of the Arctic, global warming alarmists can make a grim case for a disappearing Arctic, and even fool themselves. In May of this year, a six-country effort involving 20 scientists and an aircraft outfitted with precision equipment went to Canada’s Arctic in an expedition designed to prove that the Arctic ice was thinning. The expedition found the opposite — newly formed ice was up to four-metres thick, twice what was as expected. Around the same time, three other explorers, on behalf of the Catlin Arctic Survey in London, set off on skis on a trek to the North Pole to measure the thickness of the melting spring ice. Unprepared for blizzard winds of 40 knots and Arctic temperatures of 40 degrees below zero, the expedition made little headway, ran out of food, suffered from frost-bite, and finally had to be airlifted to safety — at their slow-going rate of progress, they couldn’t have survived the 82 days required to travel the remaining 542 kilometers.


An epidemic of OCD: Obsessive Carbon Dogma

From living in virtual darkness to minutely measuring their water-use, greens’ fixation with carbon counting is verging on a mental illness.

It was the seventieth anniversary of Sigmund Freud’s death yesterday. Despite the work of Freud and others, it is tragic that many people are still debilitated by the affliction known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Freud characterised it as Obsessive Neurosis. Others describe OCD – a disorder that compels a person to commit ritualistic actions – as a physiological disorder caused by neurological triggering mechanisms in the brain. Whatever the cause, the sufferer’s repetitive behaviour is intended to reduce anxiety, but can still lead to depression and thoughts about self-harm.

Like ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), OCD is regularly caricatured as one of the ailments of our modern, materialistic Western societies, endorsed by the fact that it has some curious symptoms and some celebrity sufferers. Cameron Diaz says that she habitually rubs doorknobs before opening doors. Leonardo Di Caprio forces himself not to step on chewing gum stains on the pavement. Daytime TV ‘therapist’ Jeremy Kyle licks his mobile phone every time it rings and Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman says that he has ‘self-diagnosed OCD’ whereby he needs to eat the same breakfast every morning from £220 Waterford crystal bowls, hence their inclusion on his expense account.

For some celebrity hypochondriacs, OCD has become a fashion statement, for others it is just a chain around their neck. But there is one major obsessive compulsion that has become a central feature of all our lives to the extent that there is real kudos in becoming its victim. Far from reducing anxiety, the latest OCD – Obsessive Carbon Dogma – actually raises anxiety in order to give itself some therapeutic rationale. Fear of rising tides, of population growth, of China and India, of motor cars, of energy use, and of most other aspects of contemporary society, has led us to develop an infatuation with carbon and the mindless repetitive trivia of everyday life. Such is the extent of this compulsion that it has even become government policy in many developed countries.

Paul Kelly, the Australian newspaper’s editor-at-large, says that ‘carbon is the currency of a new world order’; UK foreign secretary David Miliband thinks that ‘the idea of a personal carbon card is pretty iconic’; and Canadian opposition leader, Stephane Dion, has a dog called Kyoto. Meanwhile, the town board of Woodstock, New York, has adopted a Zero Carbon initiative, in what Councilman Stephen Knight called a therapeutic step towards ‘rescuing the nation from embarrassment’.

Nowadays, we are all encouraged obsessively to check what is euphemistically called ‘our waste stream’; to worry that the gas fire or bath taps are turned off; compulsively to monitor our CO2 usage and to assess our carbon footprint. We are collectively developing a carbon foot fetish. These days, many of us cannot leave the room without frantically switching off the lights, appliances and standby buttons in an obsessive, ritualistic frenzy.

So while genuine sufferers of OCD try to cure themselves, everybody else is being encouraged to suffer the Obligatory Carbon Diet. As such, many people take perverse pleasure in performing mundane tasks many times over – it seems to give them a high level of confidence and satisfaction, but in fact it locks them into a depressing, navel-gazing psychosis.

Tony Sanders, described by the Sun newspaper as ‘Britain’s greenest homeowner’, happily spends two hours a day sorting out his rubbish. But you’re never too young to be allowed into the fanatical fold. Sara Pearson, a pre-school practitioner at a nursery for three-year-olds in Barrow, England, says that her pupils ‘have all been looking forward to the trips to the recycling bins’ (1). This means that families that are outside the mainstream education system in the UK are likely to be slightly off-message. For example, in a BBC report on Romanian traveller communities, a British gypsy commented: ‘[There are] children from seven to eight years old up to maybe 12 years old, playing and sorting out rubbish. Obviously I wouldn’t want my children doing that.’ (2)

Get with the programme! All of us are told in no uncertain terms that we must carbon count, carbon trade, carbon monitor, carbon ration or carbon audit. We can track our carbon, assess it, compare it, or trade it. We can, in fact, watch every aspect of our once meaningful lives reduced to a carbon calculation and then we can spend all of our remaining time looking to see if it all adds up. As the ultimate symbol of Obsessive Carbon Decadence, we can even offset our carbon by paying someone in the Third World not to develop on our behalf (see Is carbon-offsetting just eco-enslavement?, by Brendan O’Neill). We have become a carbon-infatuated society.

It is now commonplace to insist that homeowners habitually measure their waste and carbon production, energy and water usage as if these were the most important activities in life. Rummaging in bins and parcelling up your garbage is deemed to be the new cultural highpoint of the carbonista lifestyle. Haverford College in Pennsylvania celebrates ‘an entirely student-designed-and-executed initiative’ focusing on ‘composting’.

Some acute sufferers are severely afflicted to the extent that it affects their judgement. Victoria Clarke from Stockport, for instance, was so keen to sort her rubbish that she left several bin bags on the pavement a day earlier than necessary. She was offered shock therapy in the form of a £700 fine for ‘advancement of waste’. The Ecologist magazine describes life in an OCD home: ‘I was unpacking a delivery of seasonal veg with my five-year-old daughter’, says a desperate father, ‘when I looked round and saw that she’d peeled a couple of leaves off a cabbage and was fashioning them into a pair of shoes’ (3).

Whatever help there is for these sufferers tends to remind us that we are, in fact, morally fallible and predominantly a lost cause. One private company that writes school lesson plans wants students to ‘examine their role in polluting the environment’. A British Carbon Rationing Action Group - which is a support group for carbon obsessives – reminds us that: ‘Carbon criminals leave lights on. Turn them off, even if you’re only leaving the room for a short time.’ As we can see, OCD is one of the most intrusive ailments of our time. It invades our privacy and encourages the authorities to pry into our daily lives. Under new UK guidelines, for example, each occupier of a truly zero-carbon home should flush the toilet no more than 1.46 times per day! Carbon counting is sending us all round the bend.

Many have gone over to the dark side – literally – and may never recover. In 2007, Peter and Sarah Robinson explained to BBC News how they get up early in the morning, but refuse to put the lights on. They open the curtains just enough to let sufficient daylight into the room to help them navigate their furniture safely, but not so much that too much heat escapes. In the dark mornings of winter, they see by the borrowed light from a streetlamp fortuitously placed outside their window. They own no television and their children are allowed to watch DVDs only on the weekend and only if the brightness control is turned down.

Most evenings, the family spends its time in the kitchen in order not to have to switch ‘more lights on than necessary’ in other rooms. Mr Robinson’s Obligatory Carbon Doctrine started after he visited a prison with a group of psychology students. He noticed the repetitive routine that warders used to unlock and secure doors and he was lulled into performing his own rigorous lock-down activity at home. Because of OCD, the Robinsons have turned their home into a personal prison (4).

There is a simple cure for OCD sufferers and it is up to us who haven’t succumbed to the Obsessive Carbon Delusion to save them from themselves. We simply need to argue for rationality and reasoned debate. We should point out that not only should our world not revolve around reducing carbon emissions, but it is, in fact, CO2 that makes the world go round. Humanity is not simply the sum total of its carbon emissions – in fact humans make carbon meaningful. We would be nothing without expending energy, and lots of it, to transform the world and to make us what we are.

Even if carbon emissions are causing global warming, and even if global warming has the potential to cause dangerous sea-level rise, it still doesn’t follow automatically that we should use less carbon. Maybe we should use more carbon. More carbon energy to create flood defences, build escape roads, construct new cities, expand cheap flights to improve the ability of people to choose where they live. Unfortunately, the more that we become blinded by a carbon infatuation, the more we are in very real danger of losing sight of our options and our humanity. The cure for OCD is to use, create, invent and develop more things. Rather than keeping our heads stuck in our bins, this is the creative way to solve problems.



There's a reason that the Internet backbone is made of fiber-optic cables: photons transport bits of information faster than electrons. But while photons and fiber are the most efficient way of sending data across continents, it's still cheaper and easier to use electrons in copper wiring for most data transfer over shorter distances.

Now Intel plans to sell inexpensive cables with fiber-optic-caliber speed to connect, for instance, a laptop and an external hard drive, or a phone and a desktop computer. At the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco Wednesday, the company announced a new type of optical cable that it hopes will be fast, cheap, and thin enough to make it an attractive replacement for multiple copper wires.

By 2010, says Dadi Perlmutter, vice president of Intel's mobility group, the company hopes to ship an optical cable called Light Peak that will be able to zip 10 gigabits of data per second from one gadget to another, a rate equivalent of transferring a Blu-ray movie from a computer to a mobile video player in 30 seconds.



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


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Another lot of Warmist nonsense debunked

The medieval warm period is vastly inconvenient to Warmists and they try on occasions to erase it from their data summaries. But it is not going away so their next line of defence is to say it was a Northern hemisphere event only. That was always pretty absurd (and raised more questions than it answered) but the study reported below gives it another kick in the pants by showing that the Northern and Southern hemisphere climates move in tandem. See also here and here.

Two of the most important questions in paleoclimatology are, how are the climates of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres linked, and what are the roles of the high latitudes and the tropics in driving and transmitting climate changes? Past investigations have concentrated on the study of large, rapid climate changes like deglaciations or the Younger Dryas because they are the easiest ones to see and to date. Licciardi et al. (p. 1677) expand the scope of these investigations by determining precise cosmogenic isotope ages for glacial moraines formed in the Peruvian Andes during the Holocene (the last 11,000 years). The precision of these data reveals a broad correlation between Peruvian glacial advances and climate in the North Atlantic region, revealing important climate linkages between the tropics and higher latitudes.


Journal abstract follows:

Holocene Glacier Fluctuations in the Peruvian Andes Indicate Northern Climate Linkages

By Joseph M. Licciardi et al.

The role of the tropics in triggering, transmitting, and amplifying interhemispheric climate signals remains a key debate in paleoclimatology. Tropical glacier fluctuations provide important insight on regional paleoclimatic trends and forcings, but robust chronologies are scarce. Here, we report precise moraine ages from the Cordillera Vilcabamba (13°20'S) of southern Peru that indicate prominent glacial events and associated climatic shifts in the outer tropics during the early Holocene and late in the "Little Ice Age" period. Our glacier chronologies differ from the New Zealand record but are broadly correlative with well-dated glacial records in Europe, suggesting climate linkages between the tropics and the North Atlantic region.

Science 25 September 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5948, pp. 1677 - 1679

Econut Holdren says Constitution backs compulsory abortion

Obama science czar John Holdren stated in a college textbook he co-authored that in conditions of emergency, compulsory abortion would be sustainable under the U.S. Constitution, even with Supreme Court review.

WND has obtained a copy of "Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment," published in 1977 and co-authored by Holdren with Malthusian population alarmist Paul R. Ehrlich and Ehrlich's wife, Ann. As WND reported, the authors argued involuntary birth-control measures, including forced sterilization, may be necessary and morally acceptable under extreme conditions, such as widespread famine brought about by "climate change."

To prevent ecological disasters, including "global warming," Holdren argued the U.S. Constitution would permit involuntary abortions, government-imposed sterilizations and laws limiting the number of children as steps justified under the banner of "sustainable well-being."

A worldwide scientific agenda is emerging to link global population growth with global warming, arguing that climate change is such a severe crisis that the United States must participate in a United Nations mandate to implement global birth control in order to reduce carbon emissions. Addressing the U.N. climate summit in New York yesterday, President Obama declared climate change resulting from global warming could leave future generations with an "irreversible catastrophe."

A series of papers recently published by the Royal Society in Great Britain and by the United Nations have made a direct link between global population growth and anthropomorphic, or man-made global warming. The Economist magazine summed up the current argument Monday, stating, "A world with fewer people would emit less greenhouse gas."

"World experts, in a wide range of disciplines, explore the ways in which the inexorable increase in human numbers is exhausting conventional energy supplies, accelerating environmental pollution and Global Warming, and providing an increasing number of Failed States where civil unrest prevails," wrote Roger V. Short of the faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne, introducing the series of articles in the current issue of Philosophical Transactions published by the Royal Society.

Arguing that "ample authority" exists to regulate population growth, Holdren and the Ehrlichs wrote on page 837 of their 1970s textbook that "under the United States Constitution, effective population-control programs, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society." In the next sentence, the authors were careful to note that few in the U.S. in the 1970s considered the situation serious enough to justify compulsion.

Still, in the next paragraph, the authors advanced their key point: "To provide a high quality of life for all, there must be fewer people."

The authors of "Ecoscience" argued that a "legal restriction on the right to have more than a given number of children" could be crafted under the U.S. Constitution in crisis situations under the standard that "law has as its proper function the protection of each person and each group of persons." On page 838, the authors argued, "The law could properly say to a mother that, in order to protect the children she already has, she could have no more."

To justify the point, the authors commented "differential rates of reproduction between ethnic, racial, religious, or economic groups might result in increased competition for resources and political power and thereby undermine social order." ...

An analysis of Holdren's current statements on global warming strongly suggest the president's science czar sees global warming creating an environmental emergency.



The United Nations is pulling out the “big guns” in an attempt to create a climate of urgency about climate change so that the meeting of over one hundred world leaders in Copenhagen some 75 days from now can produce an agreement to replace to failed Kyoto accord.

Nature, however, is not co-operating. Average global temperature is rising at 1.40C per century, not the 3.90C indicated by the IPPC models. We are in the seventh year of global cooling. Sea levels, despite messages to the contrary, are rising at normal rates – eight inches per century – much less than the IPPC models suggested. There has been no significant rise in sea levels over the last four years. Arctic sea ice, currently in its summer state, is more extensive in 2009 than it was in 2007 and 2008. Antarctic sea ice is at record high. Global sea ice shows relative stability over the last thirty years. While CO2 levels are rising, the rate of growth has slowed considerably – the IPPC suggested that CO2 levels would grow at around 468 parts per million (ppm) per century, when in fact the observed growth in CO2 is 204 ppm per century – less than half of the IPPC model suggestion.

Hurricane activity, which does not appear to be connected to CO2 emissions, is at the lowest level since satellite monitoring and observation began in 1979. In the Northern Hemisphere, hurricane activity is currently one of the quietest in a decade. Reefs off the Keppel Islands on Australia's Great Barrier Reef have shown rapid recovery of coral dominance, despite repeated coral bleaching events that many ascribe to CO2-induced global warming. All in all, nature does not seem to be co-operating with Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon and the climate change negotiators.

Neither is China. Despite high expectations that they would enter into a global agreement which involves a commitment to curb green house gas emission by an agreed targeted amount, China indicated that they see this issue as a national one, requiring balance between China’s need to continue rapid development and manage its environmental conditions. It will not be told what to do by the international community. Neither will India.

The United States is ambivalent. While President Barack Obama clearly sees climate change as a clear and present danger, legislatures are deeply divided about the appropriate response. The House of Representatives has approved a bill that provides for a cap and trade for carbon credits, the free allocation of a large number of carbon credits to polluting companies and regulation of vehicle emissions. The Senate, however, is delaying consideration of the issue and is not likely to pass any legislation before Copenhagen.

The current US proposals will not have any substantial impact on either carbon emissions in the US or on global temperature. They will, however, have an impact on the economy – higher energy prices, changes in transportation systems and in consumer behaviour. They may also help to stimulate the creation of green jobs, but at the expense of jobs in other sectors. What will certainly happen is that the emerging financial services (carbon trading, carbon offsets) and climate research will expand and grow. The carbon trading industry is currently worth $100 billion worldwide and research on climate change is a $7 billion industry worldwide.

Most committed are the member states of the European Union. Collectively, they have determined emissions targeted, new transportation standards and have been operating a cap and trade system for a number of years. They are also now considering the scale of technology transfer and financial aid to developing countries. They have also enacted, through EU regulation, constraints on consumer behaviour – making it illegal to sell certain kinds of light bulbs, creating incentives for smart energy purchases and smart grid technologies.

It will be a long meeting in Copenhagen and it looks unlikely that it will be able to conclude the kind of comprehensive agreement Ban Ki Moon is seeking – the fractures between the parties and the challenges of securing agreed targets are likely to be significant.

The G8 summit showed that this was the case with just eight nations – there will be over one hundred in Copenhagen.

Some climate change scientists are becoming concerned that the momentum for Copenhagen is already fading and that the possibility of agreement is looking more unlikely than it was at the beginning of the year. They are beginning to use science to argue the polemics of the case rather than just draw attention to the science – the lines between scientific inquiry and political action are becoming blurred.

It will be an interesting time between now and December, with the voices of concern already becoming shrill. What is needed are some calm, reflective and realistic minds focused on what is possible and the consequences of the possible actions for both the environment and the economy. They may well be in short supply and will almost certainly find themselves castigated for not being committed to environmentally-sound change or as “deniers” – but we need such objective analysts to provide support for the general public in their attempts to assess the work of their governments.



Politically vulnerable Democrats say Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House leaders aren’t offering them the protection from tough votes that they did in the last Congress. Conservative Democrats fear that dozens of members could be swept out of their districts in the midterm election next year, and that fear has been intensifying in recent weeks.

Between a tough vote on a climate change bill that many don’t expect to become law and a leftward push on healthcare legislation, Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) critics within her caucus say she’s left the so-called “majority makers” exposed. “She keeps trying to push an unpopular package,” said Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), a centrist Blue Dog Democrat, referring to healthcare. “I think it’s fair to say they were better at it before.”

Another Blue Dog lawmaker put it more bluntly. “They’re seriously endangering their majority,” said the Blue Dog, who requested anonymity. “With the increased margin and a [Democratic] president, there seems to be a different feeling.” ...

Democratic members point most to Pelosi’s handling of the climate change measure. Pelosi worked the floor relentlessly to pass the fast- tracked bill, persuading a number of worried centrists to vote for it just before the Independence Day holiday. Some Democratic centrists have regretted backing that bill.

What irks them most is the sense that the Senate won’t pass anything so strong, if it passes anything at all. So they expect to get beaten up for voting on a bill that will never become law.


Australia: More disruptive seekers after personal publicity

Greenies say Queensland koalas are 'near extinction'. Even in the unlikely event that it's true, koalas are in plague proportions in other parts of Australia e.g. Kangaroo Island -- so what does it matter? And there are always plenty of koalas at Brisbane's Lone Pine zoo if anybody wants to get up close to one. Yes. I know I don't get the spirit and that a distant glimpse of one up a tree in a forest somewhere is far better than cuddling one in a zoo

CONSERVATIONISTS say koalas are on the brink of extinction in southeast Queensland and more needs to be done to protect them. Hundreds of protesters are expected to rally in Brisbane and march on Parliament House at noon (AEST) today to raise awareness of the plight of the marsupials.

Rally spokeswoman Carolyn Beaton said there had been 25,000 recorded koala deaths in southeast Queensland - the fastest growing region in Australia - over the past decade.

Ms Beaton said rapid development in other parts of the country, particularly along the east coast, was also threatening koala habitat.

"This rally will show our politicians, and indeed the world, that Australia does care about its wildlife and we, as Australians, will not stand by and let the rest of our koalas be wiped out," she said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Queensland Government today announced it would protect 5.6 hectares of state-owned koala habitat at Alexandra Hills.

State Climate Change Minister Kate Jones said the land, located on Windemere Road and of high commercial value, would be handed over to Redland City Council.

The Government is currently drafting a state planning policy aimed at protecting koalas to halt declining numbers and recently completed a koala mapping project.


Environmentalists Seek to Wipe Out Plush Toilet Paper

It is a fight over toilet paper: the kind that is blanket-fluffy and getting fluffier so fast that manufacturers are running out of synonyms for "soft" (Quilted Northern Ultra Plush is the first big brand to go three-ply and three-adjective).

It's a menace, environmental groups say -- and a dark-comedy example of American excess. The reason, they say, is that plush U.S. toilet paper is usually made by chopping down and grinding up trees that were decades or even a century old. They want Americans, like Europeans, to wipe with tissue made from recycled paper goods.

It has been slow going. Big toilet-paper makers say that they've taken steps to become more Earth-friendly but that their customers still want the soft stuff, so they're still selling it. This summer, two of the best-known combatants in this fight signed a surprising truce, with a big tissue maker promising to do better. But the larger battle goes on -- the ultimate test of how green Americans will be when nobody's watching.

"At what price softness?" said Tim Spring, chief executive of Marcal Manufacturing, a New Jersey paper maker that is trying to persuade customers to try 100 percent recycled paper. "Should I contribute to clear-cutting and deforestation because the big [marketing] machine has told me that softness is important?" He added: "You're not giving up the world here."

Toilet paper is far from being the biggest threat to the world's forests: together with facial tissue, it accounts for 5 percent of the U.S. forest-products industry, according to industry figures. Paper and cardboard packaging makes up 26 percent of the industry, although more than half is made from recycled products. Newspapers account for 3 percent. But environmentalists say 5 percent is still too much.

Felling these trees removes a valuable scrubber of carbon dioxide, they say. If the trees come from "farms" in places such as Brazil, Indonesia or the southeastern United States, natural forests are being displaced. If they come from Canada's forested north -- a major source of imported wood pulp -- ecosystems valuable to bears, caribou and migratory birds are being damaged.



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


Friday, September 25, 2009

Obama’s climate fantasies

President Barack Obama’s speech on global warming to the United Nations yesterday was based on fantasy. Here are some quotes from the speech followed by the reality.

Obama: ”...[T]he threat from climate change is serious, it is urgent, and it is growing.”

Reality: Global mean temperatures increased slightly from 1977 to 2000. Temperatures have been flat since then.

Obama: “Rising sea levels threaten every coastline.”

Reality: Sea levels have been rising on and off since the end of the last ice age 13,000 years ago. The rate of sea level rise has not increased in recent decades over the 19th and 20th century average.

Obama: “More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent.”

Reality: There is no upward global trend in storms or floods.

Obama: “More frequent drought and crop failures breed hunger and conflict in places where hunger and conflict already thrive.”

Reality: There is no upward global trend in major droughts. Reversals in large-scale cycles have meant that the southward march of the Sahara Desert into the Sahel has been reversed in recent years and the Sahara is now shrinking.

Obama: “On shrinking islands, families are already being forced to flee their homes as climate refugees.”

Reality: Some Pacific islanders may want to emigrate to New Zealand or Australia and are claiming that their islands are disappearing as the reason, but shrinkage has been minimal in recent decades because sea level rise has been minimal.

President Obama’s policy prescriptions are energy rationing and energy poverty disguised as growth and prosperity. The emissions reductions that he promises the United States will make through cap-and-trade legislation are dead in the water in the U.S. Senate and would not survive a second vote in the U.S. House. If enacted, cap-and-trade would consign the economy to perpetual stagnation and make the U.S. into a second-rate economic power.

His policy prescription for poor countries is to promise them massive “financial and technical assistance”. The track record of paying off poor countries is that it has lined the pockets of corrupt leaders and bureaucracies with billions and tens of billions of dollars, but has done nothing to help those countries become prosperous. What these countries need is free markets and abolishing barriers to trade. The global warming policies advocated by the Obama Administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress would raise trade barriers and foster energy poverty throughout the world. Energy rationing is not the way forward and is not a message of hope for the poorest people in the world, who lack access to electricity and modern transportation.



Over the past 70 years, hurricane frequency in the Atlantic basin is up, but the strength of the storms have remained relatively constant. Those are the conclusions of a new study conducted by Clemson University researchers. Clemson Professor of Mathematical Sciences Robert Lund participated in the study that looked at changes in the tropical cycle record in the North Atlanticbetween 1851 and 2008. Lund says he knows global warming is a hot button issue and many researchers have maintained that warming waters of the Atlantic are increasing the strengths of these storms. We do not see evidence for this at all, however we do find that the number of storms has recently increased.”

”We took a look at the record from 1851 to 2008 and we did find a lot of changes besides recent changes. For instance, we found that around 1935 the count radically increased and that was probably due to aircraft reconnaissance, being able to fly out into the ocean and see these storms.”

Also participating in the study were Michael Robbins and Colin Gallagher of Clemson along with Mississippi State University Mathematics professor Dr. QIQi Lu.

Lund says the increase in the frequency of hurricanes and some measurable increase in strength of the storms was first observed from data from the beginning of the 20th century. Lund attributes the observations from better and more sophisticated technological devices used to monitor the storms. “We saw them from about 1900 which makes sense because most of the data recorded before 1900 was guesstimated and not very consistent. We also found small changes in the strength of the storms around 1960 which coincides with the onset of satellites.”

Lund says in a number of studies involving the analysis of years and years of data, the study of probabilities is best conducted by mathematicians. ”We have to play by the rules of probability and the laws of random chance. As statisticians and probabilists, we are not allowed to distort the conclusion nor are we invested in any particular outcome or inference from the data. We’re just going to crunch the numbers as best we can with rigorous probability assessments and tell you what we find.”

Lund says the study he and his colleagues just concluded opens up avenues for more questions yet to answered. “Are the storms changing in terms of duration in terms of how long they last? Are they occurring in more northern latitudes? There are a lot of small issues that still need to be tied down, but we sort of felt that at least given the data that we’ve seen recently that this pretty much answers the question of are changes happening?”


Sydney's huge dust storm caused by global warming?

You knew that somebody would say it was, didn't you? They knew that they had scant grounds for saying so but some in the media did. Even the guy below -- who knows what really caused it -- can't quite resist the temptation. He also leaves out a lot: like the fact that Northern and Western Australia have had exceptionally good rains recently. And even the drier Southeast (where Melbourne is) that he talks about actually got rain during the Sydney dust storm! It is utter rubbish to claim that Australia as a whole is getting drier. The rains have tended to move North but have certainly not vanished. Quite to the contrary. Most dams in Queensland are full to overflowing. And the Southeast has suffered that way before. In 1901, the mighty Murray river was just a chain of waterholes. Pesky how awkward the whole truth is!

Australia is the driest inhabited continent in the world and dust storms are fairly common — but only occasionally does the dust reach the coast, and yesterday’s storm was probably the biggest to hit Sydney for 60 years. In fact, this year has been exceptionally violent, with freak weather disasters hitting at bewildering speed every month.

Most bizarrely, this winter (June, July and August) was the hottest on record, and followed desperately dry months, with the lowest rainfall on record in Melbourne. Much of the blame for this can be pinned on an El Niño brewing in the Pacific, as the tropical seas there grow unusually warm and bring heavy rains to South America but leave eastern Australia in drought.

It is no surprise that some of the biggest dust storms in Australia’s history have come in El Niño years — and more dust storms could hit this year.

The storms are an ecological disaster, ripping up valuable topsoil from farmland. But a far greater threat is that much of Australia has been in its worst drought for several years, which has crippled its most prosperous farmland in the Murray-Darling Basin, in the southeast of the country.

This severe drought is difficult to explain simply from natural fluctuations in climate. Instead, Australians are now facing the brutal truth that theirs is largely a hot, dry country that is turning even hotter and drier — and that this is most probably caused by unnatural changes in the climate.



How’s this for awkward timing? Even as President Obama tries to persuade other countries gathered at the U.N. climate confab and upcoming G-20 meeting that the U.S. will take action on climate change, senators from both parties are moving to limit what his administration can do to fight climate change.

At issue are two amendments to a huge government spending bill nearing a vote in the Senate that would pare the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate various industries’ greenhouse-gas emissions.

One amendment, drafted by Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) and backed by ethanol companies, would limit how the EPA could measure the global-warming impact of growing corn and other crops for fuel. It would prohibit the agency from considering the emissions that are said to result when farmers overseas clear grasslands and cut down forests in response to higher food prices. What do those farmers’ decisions have to do with ethanol production in the U.S.? Well, according to some researchers, there are some nasty ripple effects when farmers in the U.S. convert their farmland to growing corn for fuel.

Still, why would the EPA want to go down this road, given the U.S. government’s traditional support for ethanol? Because a 2007 energy law says it has to! More about this debate here and here.

Another amendment, being circulated by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), would prohibit the EPA for one year from regulating greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, factories and small businesses. Sen. Murkowski says she’s worried about the economic toll of any regulations that EPA might set; environmental groups say her measure would render the EPA toothless and undermine U.S. efforts to convince other countries to reduce their emissions.

Not surprisingly, the Obama administration is speaking out against Sen. Murkowski’s proposal. “We don’t think trying to legislate on an appropriations bill is a good idea,” Carol Browner, the President’s assistant on energy and climate change issues, tells WSJ’s Jonathan Weisman. So does that mean President Obama would veto the entire spending bill if Ms. Murkowski succeeds in attaching her amendment to the final bill? Ms. Browner said she’s not in a position to comment.

Our sources predict a close vote in the Senate, possibly as early as Thursday afternoon. Stay tuned …


Budget constraints bring some realism to British government Green dreams

The carbon capture and storage (CCS) industry has expressed grave concerns at reports the government is considering scaling back its £10bn plan to fund a series of CCS demonstration plants in the UK as part of its efforts to restore health to the public finances. The Guardian reported yesterday that Treasury officials have warned that the government plan to fund the development of up to four CCS plants could be cut as a result of renewed spending constraints.

Luke Warren, International Policy Executive at the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, warned that any such cuts could jeopardise both the UK carbon emission targets and the health of the country's emerging CCS industry. "If these report are true they make for dismal reading," he said. "The UK government has been a leader on CCS but it is now in danger of falling behind the pack in the race to develop this crucial technology."

The government is officially committed to funding one plant entirely through its CCS competition – an award expected to be worth around £1bn. In addition, earlier this year climate change secretary Ed Miliband said the government would fund between one and three further CCS plants and that no coal power plant would be given the go-ahead in the UK without CCS attached.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change attempted to dopwnplay the reports insistig there had been no official change to the government's CCS funding plans. "The UK has set out bold proposals for coal and CCS – they are a world first – and our ambitions remain firm," she said. "We're determined to drive the development of CCS as part of the transition to a low carbon economy."

However, industry sources noted that the government had never officially committed to funding all four proposed plants and that as a result it could cut the number of demonstration plants back to two without technically reneging on its promises.


Climate change and the nanny state

Do we need the government to save us from ourselves?

If Jesus raised the dead tomorrow, our science czar probably would be too busy calculating the carbon footprint to find salvation. But who needs Christ when the flock is blessed with sound moral guidance from men and women whose lifework has been cajoling 50 percent plus one to push a button? From our extravagant health care choices to our risky financial behavior to our ill-conceived love of profit to, most tragically, our immoral penchant for air-conditioning our homes, we need help. I need help.

This week, prepping for the upcoming Copenhagen climate change talks, Dr. Steven Chu, our erstwhile energy secretary, crystallized the administration's underlining thinking by claiming that the "American public ... just like your teenage kids, aren't acting in a way that they should act. The American public has to really understand in their core how important this issue is." Did you know that Cabinet positions come equipped with a handbook detailing how Americans "should act"? If teenagers—irresponsible bunch of weasels that they usually are—are in need of moral supervision, an environmental train wreck like me needs an intervention.

After all, President Barack Obama warned me this week that a failure to address the problem of "carbon pollution" could create an "irreversible catastrophe." (Yeah, Oxygen, you're next.) Chu recently referred to Earth as "the great ship Titanic."

Chu will deploy bureaucrats to more than 6,000 public schools to, um, teach children about "climate change" and efficiency. They probably won't mention that the Energy Department was found to have wasted millions on inefficient use of energy by an independent auditor this year. (Listen, even our parents aren't perfect.)

Chu the adult likes to say that coal—which as we speak is likely powering your computer, your office, and your house and allows your kids to sit in their schoolhouse without freezing their little toes off in early fall—is his "worst nightmare." Coal. Not an energy that is running its course or one that the market will replace. This energy source accounts for more than half of electricity production in the entire nation.

Chu, a physicist and Nobel Prize winner—and, unlike me, a deadly serious person—believes that "all the world's roofs should be painted white as part of efforts to slow global warming." Guess what? Not one white roof in my community. What's the holdup? Do we have to pass a law? We do. Because you are hopeless, petulant, immoral, and clueless. Your nightmare starts with banning a plastic bag at the grocery and ends with a job-killing cap-and-trade scheme. It starts with a public service announcement from a third-tier celebrity and ends with you scouring the earth to find a light bulb that lights something.

For you, the immoral-inclined, there is hope. According to a new Gallup Poll, Americans believe that government is too intrusive. Gallup data show that 57 percent of Americans say the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals. Forty-five percent say there is too much government regulation, and only 27 percent say the amount of regulation is about right.

There is one question we all have to answer: What's more important, negligibly reducing "carbon pollution" through coercive policies or protecting personal freedom and allowing real markets to work? That's the trade-off. Parenting won't change the question.

Remember when George W. Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, claimed that the president saw the American people "as we think about a 10-year-old child"? His comment, understandably, caused much mockery and disdain. The problem, apparently, wasn't the paternalist sentiment; it was the parent offering it. What we needed was a brainy, grown-up administration to harangue and regulate us into submission.



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


Thursday, September 24, 2009


An email from Ole Humlum, Professor of Physical Geography, Department of Physical Geography, Institute of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Norway. Website here

Please see here (PDF) a site with meteorological information updated to August 2009. All temperatures are shown in degrees Celsius. In the maps showing the geographical pattern of temperatures, the period 1998-2006 is used as reference period. The reason for comparing with this recent period instead of the official WMO 'normal' period 1961-1990, is that the latter period is affected by the relatively cold period 1945-1980. Almost any comparison with such a low average value will therefore appear as high or warm, and it will be difficult to decide if modern surface air temperatures are increasing or decreasing. Comparing with a more recent period overcomes this problem.

In the other diagrams the thin line represents the monthly global average value, and the thick line indicate a simple running average, in most cases a 37-month average. The year 1979 has been chosen as starting point in several of the diagrams, as this roughly corresponds to both the beginning of satellite observations and the onset of the late 20th century warming period. Surface air temperatures August 2009 was generally low at northern mid latitudes. Also southern Africa experienced relatively low temperatures this month. In contrast, equatorial Pacific Ocean, northern Argentina and Australia were relatively warm.

In the Arctic, most of the Arctic had temperatures near or below the 1998-2006 average. Only northern Canada and parts of Greenland were relatively warm. In the Antarctic, most of the eastern part of the continent was relatively cold in August 2009, while parts of the peninsula and the region around the Ross Sea and ajoining land areas were relatively warm.


An email from Alex Down [] to Benny Peiser

You'd be doing me (and I'd guess a huge number of others) a terrific service if your excellent newsletter could summarize the scientific reception of the Lindzen and Choi paper (which I'd assumed was already published in the Geophysical Research Letters, American Geophysical Union) that asserts that the climate sensitivity is about one sixth of the IPCC's best estimate of 3C.

There have been one or two comments since late August (when it was "soon to be published"), but I'd have expected that there would be an hysterical rebuttal of the whole article from the pro-AGW camp; instead, I've seen very little. Similarly, shouldn't the sceptics be triumphant? Again, not nearly as much reaction as I'd have expected. For such a significant paper from someone of the stature of Richard Lindzen, I'm very surprised not to have heard a lot more. This paper could destroy the whole AGW case.

I think that the simple answer to Alex Down's question is that Warmists pick and choose which data they like and they just didn't like the data used by Lindzen. Real science, of course, has to account for ALL the data -- JR


Companies sued for creating damage by contributing to global warming have a major defense available against such charges, according to an attorney at a legal session for policyholders. The remarks were made last week by Finley Harckham, a senior litigation shareholder in the New York office of Anderson Kill & Olick and president of Anderson Kill Insurance Services, LLC at the law firm's 12th Annual Policyholder Advisor Conference.

He explained that plaintiffs need to establish two levels of causation. They must prove that something has happened to the environment other than what would have happened naturally, and that the defendant is responsible for that action. "It's a huge hurdle," he said, noting that a lawsuit would have to distinguish why a given condition was caused by a single entity as opposed to greenhouse gases emitted by the population at large.

Still, the Anderson Kill panel noted that one case worth watching is Native Village of Kivalina v. Exxon Mobil, et al., in which an Inuit village in Alaska has brought a nuisance suit in February 2008 against major oil companies. The plaintiffs are seeking joint and several liability for nuisance and civil conspiracy, claiming that the oil companies' contribution to global warming has caused melting ice which will lead to the eventual flooding of their village.

The case was brought in California. John Nevius, a shareholder in the New York office of Anderson Kill, said a motion to dismiss was filed in June 2008 in Virginia. He said the insurance company defending the suit has cited the pollution exclusion in its motion. States have also brought global warming lawsuits, and Mr. Nevius said this is similar to tobacco litigation, where states try to offset their losses by suing those they see as responsible for causing the conditions.

Two cases he cited are Connecticut v. American Electric Power-where eight states and New York City brought a nuisance suit against five electric utility companies; and California v. General Motors Corp.-where Calif. sued six major automakers seeking damages for global warming. California cited injuries including melting snow pack, a greater risk of flooding, loss of coastline and more days of extreme heat.


California targets big-screen TVs in climate battle

Shrink those big screens? Warmist politicians may be over-reaching here. They are really beginning to make a nuisance of themselves

California has identified a new foe in the long-running battle to curb climate change: energy guzzling, big-screen televisions. Californians buy 4m TVs every year and with most homes having multiple sets, the electricity they consume is rising. Along with digital video recorders, DVD players and cable boxes, TVs consume about 10 per cent of the power in each home.

Big screen TVs are particularly energy-hungry so the California Energy Commission has proposed tough efficiency standards for new sets being sold in 2011. The CEC said the new standard, which has drawn criticism from consumer electronics companies, would reduce consumption per set by an average of 33 per cent. More aggressive standards will be phased in by 2013.

The proposed standards could be approved as soon as November, to the anger of the Consumer Electronics Association, which represents about 2,000 companies. It said it was “disappointed” that the CEC had “rushed forward” with the proposed regulations “despite overwhelming opposition and concrete evidence of harm to California, should these regulations be adopted”. “Millions [of dollars] in tax revenue and thousands of jobs are at stake,” it added.

But the CEC defended the new standards. “California has been an energy pioneer for more than 30 years,” said Adam Gottlieb, a spokesman for the CEC. He pointed to energy standards that California introduced in the late 1970s for refrigerators, which were later adopted across the US. The new regulations would not affect picture quality and would save consumers money in their electricity bills, he added. “Californians want energy efficiency,” he said. “Not only are TVs on for longer but they are bigger and there are more of them. These regulations will save consumers money and reduce the need to build more power plants.”


The old "people are pollution" mantra of the '70s is back

To heck with carbon dioxide. A new study performed by the London School of Economics suggests that, to fight climate change, governments should focus on another pollutant: us. Every new life, the report says, is a guarantee of new greenhouse gases, spewed out over decades of driving and electricity use. Seen in that light, we might be our own worst emissions.

The activist group that sponsored the report says that birth control could be one of the world's best tools for fighting climate change. By preventing the creation of new polluters, the group says, contraceptives are a far cheaper solution than windmills and solar plants. It is an unorthodox -- and for now, unpopular -- way to approach the problem, which can seem so vast and close that it is driving many thinkers toward gizmos and oddball ideas.

"There is no possibility of drastically reducing total carbon emissions, while at the same time paying no attention whatever to the drastic increase in the number of carbon emitters," said Roger Martin, chairman of the Optimum Population Trust, a British nonprofit that sponsored the report and whose goal is to rein in population growth in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. "For reasons of an irrational taboo on the subject, [family planning] has never made it onto the agenda, and this is extremely damaging to the planet."

It is nothing unusual, of course, to think that the Earth could really use fewer of us. In the 1700s, Thomas Malthus worried that population growth would outstrip the food supply. And a decade ago, writer Bill McKibben connected environmental concerns to his decision to have one child in a book called "Maybe One."

What is new, in the British study and a separate report from Oregon State University, are statistics that show exactly how much each life -- and especially each American life -- adds to the world's emissions. In the United States, each baby results in 1,644 tons of carbon dioxide, five times more than a baby in China, and 91 times more than an infant in Bangladesh, according to the Oregon State study. That is because Americans live relatively long, and live in a country whose long car commutes, coal-burning power plants and cathedral ceilings give it some of the highest per-capita emissions in the world.

Seen from that angle, the Oregon State researchers concluded that child-bearing was one of the most fateful environmental decisions in anyone's life. Recycle, shorten your commute, drive a hybrid vehicle, and buy energy-efficient light bulbs, appliances and windows -- all of that would cut out about one-fortieth of the emissions caused by bringing two children, and their children's children, into the world.

"People always consider the financial costs, and they consider the time cost," said Paul Murtaugh, one of the Oregon State researchers, who said that he does not have children but that he is open to the idea despite his research. "We're just attempting to put on the table the ballpark estimate of the environmental cost."

So what, exactly, is the world supposed to do with this information? The researchers behind both studies are emphatic that they do not want people to be forced not to have children. But Martin, whose group sponsored the British study, said governments could help stop unwanted pregnancies by offering contraception and in some rare cases, abortion.

The British study found that $220 billion, spent over the next 40 years, might prevent half a billion births and prevent 34 billion tons of carbon dioxide. The cost, measured in 2020, would be about $7 for each ton reduced, the report said -- far cheaper than solar power, at $51, or wind power, at $24.

But, for now, the world does not seem very interested. "I don't know how to say 'No comment' emphatically enough," said David Hamilton of the Sierra Club. "I don't want to rain on anybody's parade, but the primary solutions to climate change have to deal with what we do with the people who are here," such as pushing for more renewable energy, and a limit on U.S. greenhouse gases.

The Obama administration declined to comment when asked about the family-planning idea. At the United Nations, which is overseeing global negotiations on reducing emissions, an official wrote in response to a query that "to bring the issue up ... would be an insult to developing countries," where per-capita emissions are still so low compared with those in the United States.


Some U.N. members are envious, arrogant beggars

Manhattan will be a dangerous place this week for President Obama, where the terminally envious of the world are waiting at the United Nations with envy, arrogance and outstretched begging bowls. The diplomats representing the envious countries, some of them little more than tribes with flags and an embassy in a rooming house on a side street in Washington, have cooked up an interesting week to blunt the skepticism of a growing number of scientists who are finding the courage to say what they believed all along, even as Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, and others insist that time is running out to make the sun change its spots, the tides recede and the weather behave itself.

The London Guardian reports that the U.N. chief and global-warming negotiators "say that unless they can convert world leaders into committed advocates of radical action it will be hard ... to avoid the most devastating consequences of climate change."

If true, that's good news for the rest of us, because "the most devastating consequences" would be enactment of Al Gore's nightmare vision, to give the bureaucrats of the world all the taxes they can spend while bankrupting the most productive countries of the West.

The ambassador of the European Union to the United States is in particular need of a shot of Midol and a nice lie down until he feels better. Sen. Harry Reid's disclosure that the U.S. Senate won't take up cap-and-trade legislation, the centerpiece of "controlling" the effects of global warming, until next year has thrown the Europeans into a royal pout. "Sometimes in this country," says EU Ambassador John Bruton, the greatest deliberative body in the world acts as though it is the only deliberative body in the world, and we should wait until it gets health care passed. The ... world cannot wait on the Senate's timetable."

Organizers of global-warming week at the U.N. are determined to "imbue leaders with a new sense of purpose," one of the organizers tells the Guardian. Instead of speeches, leaders of big countries and small countries - some we've never heard of - will spend the day communing with each other. Britain, for example, will be paired with Guyana, Tuvalu with the Netherlands, Mongolia with the European Union.

There will be no respite from global warming at dinner, which will be a good hot meal (no Wonder Bread and cold cuts). Leaders of big countries will be regaled with whines by the likes of Bangladesh, Kiribati and Costa Rica. Kiribati is said to be one of the "primary victims" of global warming. Who knew? (U.S. Marines will not so fondly remember Kiribati as Tarawa, one of the fiercest island battles of World War II.) "We need these leaders to go outside their comfort zones," explains one of the organizers. "Our sense is that leaders have got a little too cozy and comfortable. They really have to hear from countries that are vulnerable and suffering."

None of the delegates will hear any dissent from the mantra that the sky is falling, that only socking it to the taxpayers of the West can save us from being boiled in saltwater. But ghost stories told around the campfire, of melting ice caps and polar bears floating past Duluth, are losing their power to terrify. Slowly but inevitably, verifiable facts are dissolving the fondest fantasies of Al Gore's hired scientists.

A new book by an Australian geologist, Ian Plimer, professor of mining geology at the University of Adelaide, argues that scientific fact has overwhelmed the doomsday scenarios of sinking islands, rising temperatures and collapsing ice shelves. He argues that global warming, which has naturally occurred over the billions of years of the Earth's life, has often been a cycle of wealth and plenty. The Romans grew lemons, limes and oranges as far north as Hadrian's Wall.

This naturally causes heartburn in certain labs and faculty lounges. "They say I rape cows, eat babies and that I know nothing about anything," he says. But the professor is not susceptible to the usual smear that he is a right-wing religious nut. He's actually a member of the Humanist Society and wrote an earlier book attacking creationism, making him at one with the atheists, infidels and heretics who wear unbelief as scientific credentials.

American presidents always get grief abroad for looking out for American interests. Life was tough for Gulliver, too. But Lilliputians in every age are merely irritants, like ticks and mosquitos. President Obama should keep that in mind this week in New York.


Australian PM Rudd has a bet each way on climate change laws

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has undermined his own argument that his emissions trading legislation must be passed before Copenhagen, admitting its defeat has not hampered his role in international climate-change talks. The Government has previously insisted the legislation's early passage is needed to maximise its muscle for Copenhagen as well as to provide business certainty.

But Mr Rudd, in New York for United Nations climate talks, drew on his recent Senate defeat to refute suggestions US influence is weakened by the stalling of legislation in the US Senate. ''Let me give you a parallel,'' he told CNN. ''Australia is very active in climate change … We are into these negotiations big time. But you know something? Our domestic emissions trading scheme was also voted down by our Senate a very short time ago. That doesn't impede me from being active in these negotiations, and my observations of President Obama is that it doesn't impede him either.''

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said Mr Rudd was ''telling Australians one thing at home and telling Americans another thing abroad''. Mr Rudd's statement to the Americans ''takes away his own argument for a [trading] system before the world comes to an agreement,'' he said. There should be global agreement first ''so as our action is not futile by merely acting alone''.

Mr Hunt said Mr Rudd's case for the legislation passing in November was also weakened by the shaky state of the international negotiations. ''Copenhagen is looking a little less certain. It is likely to be a process rather than an outcome on the day,'' Mr Hunt said. The US legislation was not likely to be passed until early next year, he said.

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard said in a speech at Monash University: ''The Government is determined to get its emissions trading legislation through.''

But acting Opposition Leader Julie Bishop said it would be ''madness'' for Australia to lock itself in before knowing what the rest of the world will do. Her strong wording comes despite Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull's desire to cut a deal when the Government insists on a November vote - to head off a possible double dissolution.



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


Wednesday, September 23, 2009


"Climate change is here, it is a reality", reports John Vidal. As one devastating drought follows another, the future is bleak for millions in east Africa, he writes. Describing the pitiful scenes, he recounts how, after three years of disastrous rains, the families from the Borana tribe, who by custom travel thousands of miles a year in search of water and pasture, have unanimously decided to settle down.

Back in April, they packed up their pots, pans and meagre belongings, deserted their mud and thatch homes at Bute and set off on their last trek, to Yaeblo, a village of near-destitute charcoal makers that has sprung up on the side of a dirt road near Moyale. Now they live in temporary "benders" – shelters made from branches covered with plastic sheeting. They look like survivors from an earthquake or a flood, says Vidal, but in fact these are some of the world's first climate-change refugees.

Meanwhile, the UN is telling us that, three weeks after Burkina Faso, in West Africa , was hit by devastating floods, people in the worst-affected areas are struggling to get back to normal. Eight people died when heavy rains swept through Burkina Faso in early September. It was the heaviest rainfall in 90 years. Earlier this month, the same UN announced that heavy flooding had affected some 350,000 people across West Africa, killing at least 32 in Ghana and Burkina Faso.

Fortunately, help is at hand. Yesterday, the Church of England launched a "climate justice fund". It will, the earnest clerics tell us, support Anglican dioceses in Africa to respond to disasters caused by climate change, such as flooding.

Never mind the contradiction – the BBC has it sussed. Noting that West Africa has been hit by floods while the east of the continent is suffering from a drought, it airily informs us that "analysts say" that these "twin battles" will become more common as a result of climate change. Come rain or shine, hot or cold, windy or calm ... there is only one cause.


Why I am an Anthropogenic Global Warming Sceptic

by Michael Hammer

I HAVE been asked several times ‘why am I so sceptical of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis’? There are many reasons, some of which I have documented in previous articles at this weblog, but these have relied on sometimes complex calculations which I admit can be difficult to appreciate. So I would like to outline here a few of my reasons based only on simple consistency with the AGW proponents’ own data.

1. The AGW movement claims there has been a global temperature rise of 0.5C over the last 60 years and that this is due to increasing CO2. Both AGW proponents and sceptics accept that the relationship between energy retained and CO2 concentration is logarithmic (a constant increase in retained energy for each doubling of CO2). The AGW movement data also shows that since 1900 CO2 has risen by very close to half a doubling over this 60 year period.

IPCC have claimed in their 4th assessment report (summary for policy makers), that the most likely temperature rise by 2070, when CO2 will have risen by a further half doubling to twice the level in 1900, is a further 3C rise (page 12). Why would the first half doubling give 0.5C rise while the second half doubling gives 3C or 6 times as much rise?

2. One claim I have heard is that it takes the climate a long time to respond to the change in CO2 concentration and we have not yet seen the entire rise from the first half doubling. The same IPCC 4th assessment report (page 12, 13 and 14) indicates that if CO2 were stabilised at the current level, the temperature would rise by a further 0.2C over 2 decades stabilising at 0.7C above the 1900 level.

If the current temperature rise is not yet at the equilibrium level then for the business as usual scenario the temperature rise by 2070 will also not be at the equilibrium level. Yet the IPCC data suggests the equilibrium rise from the first half doubling is not even one quarter of the less than equilibrium rise from the second half doubling. To me this is illogical.

3. IPCC claim an increase in retained energy of around 3.7 watts/sqM for each doubling of CO2 (1.66 watts/sqM for the current rise page 4). They admit this is much too small to result in a 3+ degree temperature rise. The large temperature rise is based on claims of very large net positive feedback in the climate system.

Yet, every natural stable system I can think of exhibits net negative feedback. Indeed the terms stability and negative feedback are synonymous since negative feedback is what causes stability. By contrast, positive feedback causes instability (such as tipping points where a large change in output occurs for a small change in input). Stability does not mean zero change, it means the response to changes in input are small enough and sufficiently controlled so as to not cause system destruction or runaway. If you want to argue that the climate system is not stable then I would ask why it has remained conducive to continued life on this planet for billions of years. This is despite all the change in CO2 levels, volcanic eruptions, changes in solar output and orbital changes over the millennia. To me, that is a very good definition of climate stability.



European leaders who once saw Barack Obama's election as a new dawn in the battle against global warming are becoming concerned, three months ahead of a key UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

One sign of this is the revival of the idea for a "carbon tax" to protect Europe's industry and environment, amid fears that Europe's commitments on tackling climate change will not be matched in the United States and elsewhere. "I confess that I am very worried by the prospects for Copenhagen (in December). The negotiations are dangerously close to deadlock at the moment," EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso told a think-tank in New York on Monday. "This may not be a simple negotiating stand-off that we can fix next year. It risks being an acrimonious collapse, delaying action against climate change perhaps for years. And the world right now cannot afford such a disastrous outcome," he warned.

While Barroso in his speech did not once mention the United States, Washington gained a poor environmental reputation under former president George W. Bush, failing to ratify the Kyoto agreement which the talks in Copenhagen are aimed at replacing.

World leaders will converge on New York and Pittsburgh this week for pivotal talks on the efforts to remake global climate rules, with success far from assured.

For many observers Obama, and the whole of the US political class, are too consumed with reforming their national health system to concentrate on climate change.

"The US are less willing, the leadership (of the Obama administration) is not that clear in the current negotiations, they show a lack of ambition," a source close to the Swedish EU presidency said. "The US are crucial on the talks in order to achieve a global deal. If they do not make ambitious commitments to reduce CO2 emissions, it will be very difficult to strike a deal in Copenhagen," he added.



As world leaders and their top advisers convened in Manhattan for Tuesday’s United Nations summit on global warming, there were hints of accord on a few issues that could form the basis for a climate deal in December in Copenhagen – something less that a full-blown treaty but sufficient to avoid total breakdown of an international effort.

But in remarks by officials, there were also displays of the deep rifts that persist between rich countries and emerging powers. How this all shakes out in the 77 days leading up to the Copenhagen meeting remains to be seen. But for the moment, the familiar roadblocks to a climate deal appear to be strong and holding.

Most notable today was the continuing insistence by top officials from developing countries, including the president of South Korea and representatives of China and India, that the world’s established powers need to provide money and technology to help developing countries shift away from fossil fuels.

In an interview with several journalists from The Times, President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea described his country’s plans for voluntarily curbing emissions and intensifying research on non-polluting energy technology. But, echoing China and other fast-developing countries, he also insisted that a predicate for serious engagement by developing countries was a concrete commitment by wealthy nations. The rich nations, he said, must recognize that they in essence owe the rest of the world a climate debt for the greenhouse gases that have accumulated in the atmosphere from their century-plus head start in burning fossil fuels.

More at The NYT


Pity Britain’s organic farmers. According a full-page report in today’s Guardian, they’re close to going bust. Sales of organic produce have fallen 13% per cent in a year (organic vegetables, for example, are down £34.1 million). So Green and Blacks, Rachel’s and Yeo Valley are all fighting for their survival, and the firms are meeting today in London to help co-ordinate a fightback.

But what has caused the demise of the organic food industry? Well, no surprises, it was the recession. Andrew Baker, the chief executive of Duchy Originals (the Prince Of Wales’s expensive food company) told the Guardian: “The organic industry hasn’t done a good enough job of informing consumers about the benefits, so it was vulnerable in recession when the choices we make are based on price.”

Aha! So the recession has forced people to make choices based on price, has it? Welcome to planet earth, Andrew. That’s what most of us have been doing our entire consumer lives. And it seems the well-off, organic brigade, are now learning how to look after the pennies too. Sure, they won’t admit at their trendy soirées that the chicken they are serving is Waitrose own-brand battery hen - but then the guests won’t able to tell it’s not organic, Normandy-raised, and corn-fed either. (I wonder, what the hell else are you supposed to feed a chicken?) We know that organic food isn’t more nutritious. And it’s also pretty obvious that it doesn’t taste any better. It’s clear, then, that the organic food industry has been quiet over consumer benefits because, besides feelings of righteous smuggery, there aren’t any.

But the decline of organic food has broader implications. It shows that when you are strapped for cash, eco-worry simply moves further down your list of priorities. You want to pay the electricity bills, you don’t want to default on your mortgage, and the kids need to be fed - so what if their vegetables are coated with insecticide?

Translated to an international level, it’s the state of the worldwide economy that’s going to stump Barack Obama when he meets at the UN to talk about climate change tomorrow. And the problem won’t have been solved by Thursday, when the G20 comes together. Why? Because most countries - particularly those which are developing - recognise that while climate change is a seriously important problem, there are far more pressing issues at hand.


Nuclear must be part of energy equation

ENERGY Secretary Steven Chu turned NIMBYism on its head recently when he told National Public Radio listeners that he would rather live close to a nuclear power plant than to a coal-fired power plant. The nuclear energy industry’s safety record, Chu said, is “really very, very good.’’

The substance and timing of Chu’s comments are important, since the United States is at a crossroads with regard to energy policies. In the coming decades, we will witness dramatic change in the way electricity is produced and distributed, all while enhancing protection of our environment.

Electricity is the backbone of our nation’s economy, and the availability of reliable, affordable supplies has helped make it possible for Americans to achieve a standard of living envied and sought after around the world. Electricity is such an extricable part of our lives that, even with improved efficiency measures and amid the current economic downturn, our nation’s need for electricity - including clean, reliable sources such as nuclear energy - continues to climb.

Recent analyses have concluded that the nation’s use of nuclear energy must increase in the coming decades to meet rising electricity demand and dramatically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases linked to the threat of climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency, for example, in its June analysis of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill found that the contribution of low- or zero-carbon energy technologies to electricity supply would increase from the current level (14 percent) to 26 percent by 2020 and 38 percent by 2050. Meeting the bill’s 2050 carbon reductions, which will be driven by a cap and trade system on carbon emitters, including coal-fired power plants, will require as many as 187 new nuclear energy facilities, EPA said.

Similarly, the National Academy of Sciences concluded in a July report, that substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector are achievable through a portfolio approach that includes nuclear energy. The report identifies new-generation nuclear energy and coal-fired generators with carbon capture and sequestering capacity as two “key technologies’’ that must be demonstrated during the next decade “to allow for their widespread deployment starting around 2020.’’

In a 2008 study commissioned by the Nuclear Energy Institute, Boston-based Polestar Applied Technology found that the continued operation of New England’s five nuclear plants and an unprecedented expansion of electricity generation from wind farms will be needed to meet the emissions limits established for 2019 under the Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

No single technology can independently slow and reverse increases in carbon emissions. But these studies confirm nuclear energy is an indispensable part of a comprehensive approach that, encouragingly, is identified in energy and climate change bills pending in the Congress. The Waxman-Markey bill and a Senate renewable energy bill do this by establishing a Clean Energy Deployment Administration, which would function as a permanent financing platform to provide loans, loan guarantees, and other credit support for clean-energy technologies, including renewable energy and new nuclear energy facilities.

US manufacturers, some of them located in New England, will benefit because construction of new nuclear power plants will create demand for commodities like concrete and steel and hundreds of components, large and small. A single new nuclear power plant requires approximately 400,000 cubic yards of concrete, 66,000 tons of steel, 44 miles of piping, 300 miles of electric wiring, and 130,000 electrical components.

Consumers of the electricity generated by new nuclear plants benefit because the loan guarantee program allows lower-cost financing, so the plant delivers lower-cost electricity.

Talk about a win-win situation: good-paying, long-term employment opportunities coupled with the reliable, low-carbon electricity supplies that we need.

Economic impact studies show that the average nuclear power station generates approximately $430 million a year in total output for the local community, and nearly $40 million in total labor income. The average plant also generates approximately $20 million annually in state and local taxes, and about $75 million annually in federal taxes.

New England’s five reactors produce about 25 percent of the region’s electricity. Nationally, 104 reactors reliably and affordably generate one-fifth of electricity needs. As we strive in upcoming decades to meet rising electricity demand and curb emissions of greenhouse gases, nuclear energy’s usefulness will continue to grow.



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


Tuesday, September 22, 2009


An email from Norm Kalmanovitch []

Regardless of whether or not changes in atmospheric CO2 have any measurable on global climate the true deceit of the IPCC is clearly shown by the statement that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are the source of observed 20th century global warming. Twentieth century global warming did not start until 1910. By that time CO2 emissions had already risen from the expanded use of coal that had powered the industrial revolution, and emissions only increased slowly from 3.5gigatonnes in 1910 to under 4gigatonnes by the end of the Second World War.

It was the post war industrialization that caused the rapid rise in global CO2 emissions, but by 1945 when this began, the Earth was already in a cooling phase that started around 1942 and continued until 1975. With 32 years of rapidly increasing global temperatures and only a minor increase in global CO2 emissions, followed by 33years of slowly cooling global temperatures with rapid increases in global CO2 emissions, it was deceitful for the IPCC to make any claim that CO2 emissions were primarily responsible for observed 20th century global warming.

Today, two decades later, they are still making this claim with incontrovertible evidence that the Earth has been cooling since 2002 in spite of the continued rapid increase in global CO2 emissions, clearly demonstrated in the IPCC's own reports. There is absolutely no rational basis for the claim that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are causing or have caused causing global warming, and anyone making this claim under the guise of "consensus science" is guilty of committing scientific fraud.

This fraud is not trivial. It has been perpetuated for so long that it is now accepted as fact and forms the basis for government programs worldwide, and these programs have had nothing but detrimental effects on the world population and world economy.

Polar bears, arctic ice thickness, Katrina, wildfires in California, droughts in Africa, and changes to the pH level of the oceans have absolutely nothing to do with the environmentally beneficial CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, but because of this fraud, costly emissions reduction programs are being put in place to address these issues. Before any more suffering is inflicted on the world, we have to put an end to this fraud and hold the perpetrators accountable.

Cap and trade is dead — long live cap and trade

President Obama's risky perseverance on health care is running over another of his pet government expansions—the cap-and-trade bill sent by the House on June 26 for Senate consideration. Recall that cap-and-trade is complex legislation with a very simple premise: make energy so expensive to consume that Americans use less of it, and "greenhouse gas" emissions are thereby curtailed.

But even though it's now clear the bill is not getting out of Congress, look for the Obama Administration to saddle our economy with this huge new energy tax through other means.

First, a brief flashback: The blowback against Obamunism began over global warming, not health care. By a squeaky 219-212 vote, the House rushed the 1,300-page cap-and-trade opus out the door so the members could get back to the hustings for the Fourth of July. When many freshman Democrats got home, those who voted for it experienced the first angry town halls of their careers. In our minds, it is easy to remember that the rancorous public meetings that continued in the August recess were always about health care, but they weren't.

So, given that health care is now effectively bottled up in both chambers of Congress, why isn't Obama pushing cap-and-trade in the Senate? Simple: the votes aren't there for it. Blanche Lincoln, the new head of the Agriculture Committee, calls cap-and-trade a "complete non starter" and said that it is not her "preference to move on cap and trade this year." Majority Leader Harry Reid recently signaled his agreement by stating that cap-and-trade "may" not be considered until next year.

For cap-and-trade, "next year" translates as "never." Senators know what touched off the town halls, and they know what fate awaits many of their Democratic colleagues come November 2010. Passing an unpopular health care "public option" along with cap-and-trade will easily realign the Senate into its old filibustering self. That kills cap-and-trade in the next Congress.

But do not despair, fans of economy-killing regulation. Thanks to the Supreme Court's landmark decision in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (2007), the EPA has authority to issue its own regulations on carbon dioxide. So while asking legislators to swallow hard on the bitter gristle of cap-and-trade, the president has really had the power to enact its core components on his own all along. Small wonder lawmakers of his own party are more than willing to toss the issue back onto his plate.

Now that cap-and-trade has so spectacularly failed in the legislature, it is a sure bet that Obama will direct (or has directed) EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to issue her own cap-and-trade protocols. Look for something concrete out of EPA before the U.N.'s climate change confab in Copenhagen in early December. (That "something" may even include a new fuel economy standard of 35.5 miles-per-gallon—though it would be lower, of course, for the inefficient cars produced by government-owned General Motors.)

The timing of the Copenhagen conference is really what has been driving Obama's support for cap-and-trade all along. It would be an embarrassment for a left-hewing "green" president to show up empty-handed at such an event—and it will greatly diminish Obama's ability to wag his finger at other industrialized countries. For sure, the world's largest emitter of CO2—China—isn't going to agree to any mandatory emissions reductions unless the U.S. has something very serious in hand. And if China does nothing, there's simply not going to be a major slowdown in the growth of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Not that it really matters. The rather large elephants crowding cap-and-trade out of the Senate is the earth's reluctance to warm in the last decade along with new projections saying that we could go another ten years without much warming.

The current hiatus in warming portends a reduction in potential heating for the entire century. Most computer models produce significant warming as a result of an increase in atmospheric water vapor (a "greenhouse" gas), which comes from an ocean initially warmed by carbon dioxide. When the ocean doesn't warm much, this "feedback" effect is delayed. Or so goes the myth.

The lack of warming is an embarrassment to any elected official who has been hiding behind "the science is settled" fig leaf in order to promote cap-and-trade. While every scientist will tell you that indeed the surface temperature of the planet is warmer than it was a century ago (that's the "settled" part of global warming science), very few scientists anticipated as long a period without warming as we are in. In other words, the real science of future warming is completely unsettled.

The bottom line is that Senate Democrats are perfectly happy to kick cap-and-trade under the bus. They're going to have a hard enough time recovering from the upcoming health care wreck. But the economy, meanwhile, will have an equally hard time recovering from what President Obama is going to do instead.


Plan for solar power plant in Mojave desert scrapped due to GREENIE opposition

There's no such thing as a happy Greenie

Oakland's BrightSource Energy Inc. said this week that it has scrapped a controversial plan to build a major solar thermal power plant in eastern Mojave Desert wilderness that Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein wants to transform into a national monument.

The announcement ended a long-running dispute between backers of renewable energy and environmentalists strongly opposed to the idea of creating an industrial zone within 600,000 acres of former railroad lands that had been donated to the Department of Interior for conservation.

The acrimony even triggered a nasty public squabble between Robert Kennedy Jr., a senior adviser at VantagePoint Venture Partners, which raised $160 million for BrightSource, and David Myers, executive director of the Wildlands Conservancy, which raised $40 million to buy the railroad lands and protect them from development.

Of particular concern was BrightSource's application to develop a solar power plant on a portion of the donated lands known as Broadwell Dry Lake, which lies within Sleeping Beauty Valley. The scenic, near pristine region is home to Big Horn Mountain Sheep and a variety of plants and reptiles found nowhere else.

"We have ceased all activity at the Broadwell site," BrightSource spokesman Keely Wachs said Thursday. "We will not build inside of a national monument." "Our core mission is to protect the environment and reduce carbon emissions," he added. "We share Sen. Feinstein's values on this matter."

News of the company's announcement came as a welcomed surprise to environmentalists. "BrightSource should be saluted for their corporate responsibility," Myers said. "A major conflict between renewable energy and environmentalists has just evaporated." Elden Hughes, former chairman of the Sierra Club's California-Nevada Desert Committee, called the company's announcement "fantastic news." "Broadwell is one of the most beautiful vistas in the desert," he said. "I've seen it covered with yellow flowers to the horizon in all directions."

The BrightSource application was one of 19 under review by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Wachs said the company had ceased activity at the Broadwell site a few months ago. Around the same time, the company began seeking alternative sites for that project "in and outside of the state," he said.



Independent News & Media (INME.I) is likely to close its flagship London title The Independent by Christmas, the publishing group's second biggest shareholder Denis O'Brien said on Friday. "There's no point in us as a company subsidising a newspaper that really nobody wants to read in the United Kingdom," O'Brien told Bloomberg TV in an interview on the sidelines of the Global Irish Economic Forum.

"It's not a relevant newspaper anymore and this newspaper's going to be closed by Christmas,"said O'Brien, who has been at odds with the company's board over plans to refinance a 200-million-euro debt issue that was meant to be paid in May...

"This is not a personal thing," O'Brien said. "I've made a substantial investment in the company and I have said ... we need to reduce our costs, get out of loss-making business and restructure."



By C. Marchetti (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Laxenburg. Austria)


Much has been said about the carrying capacity of the earth and with most contradictory results, as the arguments have too often been used in the service of prejudices. In this paper, we have made a cross section of a world very heavily populated by present standards; examined with a system view the level of basic necessities plus luxuries for this population; and indicated the technology to satisfy them. Where problems of a global level appeared, a geoengineering solution has been sketched. The result of this analysis is that, from a technological point of view, a trillion people can live beautifully on the earth, for an unlimited time and without exhausting any primary resource and without overloading the environment. The global view of the problems and of their solutions makes the difference and shows that most of the perceived physical limits to growth stem from an inappropriate frame of reference. Although our result should by no means be interpreted as an invitation to multiply, it does cast some doubt on the reliability of resource investigations within too narrow assumptions about the adaptability of man to changing conditions and transfers the problem of the limits to growth where it belongs: to the areas of sociology, politics, and ethics.

Energy Vol. 4. pp. 1107-1117, 1979

Australian miners warn of huge job losses under Warmist laws

THE minerals industry has demanded Kevin Rudd overhaul his proposed emissions trading system or risk smashing Australian jobs and the nation's industrial competitiveness.

As the Prime Minister lobbied global counterparts for action on climate change in New York yesterday, the Minerals Council of Australia warned that his ETS plans were far too tough compared with new European Commission ETS proposals that emerged during the weekend. If Mr Rudd's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme went ahead, the council said, it would cripple the ability of Australian companies to compete against Europeans, costing thousands of jobs and billions of dollars and having no environmental benefit.

The dire warning came as Mr Rudd continued to express pessimism about the chance of a new agreement on global emissions reductions at the UN Copenhagen climate change summit in December. While he vowed the government would press ahead with its proposed ETS regardless of the Copenhagen outcome, fresh divisions emerged in the opposition, as the Nationals hardened their opposition to backing Liberal-framed amendments to the CPRS legislation.

Mr Rudd's plan to have the Senate consider his CPRS legislation before the Copenhagen meeting has split the Coalition. Most Liberals agree that if the Prime Minister goes ahead, they will reluctantly co-operate on amendments to make the legislation more acceptable to business rather than reject the CPRS for a second time and hand Mr Rudd a trigger for a double dissolution and an early election. But the Nationals and some Liberals oppose the CPRS outright, insisting it is risky to legislate for an Australian scheme without knowing whether big emitters such as China and the US will also embrace a trading scheme.

MCA acting chief executive Brendan Pearson yesterday backed the cautious approach, seizing on weekend proposals from the European Commission to attack the CPRS as a potential job-destroyer. Under the EC proposals, Mr Pearson said, 80 per cent of minerals producers and manufacturers would receive free permits, meaning the coal, aluminium, copper and non-ferrous metals industries would faced little cost. At the same time, 90 per cent of Australia's mining exports, by value, would be produced without any compensation. "While Australia's coalmining sector pays $5 billion in carbon costs over the next five years, the EU industry will pay nothing," Mr Pearson said. "While the Australian gold sector pays $810million, the comparable industries in the EU (and US) will face no or limited permit costs."

Mr Pearson said Mr Rudd's proposals would put Australia "completely out of step" with Australian industry's competitors, noting the EC proposed giving assistance to 164 industry sectors from 2013 until 2020. "The CPRS needs substantial revision to bring it into line with the approaches being adopted by our trading partners," he said. "Failure to do so will lead to the hollowing out of Australia's regions, as export industries slowly decline under the weight of a self-imposed carbon burden estimated at approximately $130bn over the next decade."

He said the EC proposal included a single, simple, trade-exposure test on industry. If firms met the test, they would qualify for assistance, irrespective of their emissions intensity. "The CPRS should be amended to include such a test," Mr Pearson said.

The call for a fresh look at the scheme came as Mr Rudd's weekend expressions of pessimism about an outcome in Copenhagen sparked further debate within the Coalition. Nationals Senate leader Barnaby Joyce said that if Mr Rudd believed Copenhagen would fail, he must delay a vote on the CPRS issue. Senator Joyce also said that Mr Turnbull should dump his willingness to negotiate with Labor on the issue. With Mr Turnbull overseas, acting Liberal leader Julie Bishop expressed concern that Climate Change Minister Penny Wong had proposed a Copenhagen compromise under which developing nations would not have to commit to cutting carbon emissions -- only to producing a schedule for future reductions. "This highlights the madness of Australia locking into an emissions trading scheme without knowing what the rest of the world will do," she said.



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


Monday, September 21, 2009

New blog

Climate Observer is a new blog out of Australia that puts up a lot of detailed information about climate fraud. Lots of graphics. Recommended.

Doctors warn on climate failure

They say that climate change will increase rates of malnutrition but ignore the fact that more CO2 makes crops grow bigger and faster and that there will be more rain overall as a warmer ocean evaporates off more moisture. And, of course, warm weather is a lot more benign to health than cold weather is. Why else is there more illness in winter? There is not a shred of intellectual honesty to be found below

Failure to agree a new UN climate deal in December will bring a "global health catastrophe", say 18 of the world's professional medical organisations. Writing in The Lancet and the British Medical Journal, they urge doctors to "take a lead" on the climate issue.

In a separate editorial, the journals say that people in poor tropical nations will suffer the worst impacts. They argue that curbing climate change would have other benefits such as more healthy diets and cleaner air [How?]

December's UN summit, to be held in Copenhagen, is due to agree a new global climate treaty to supplant the Kyoto Protocol. But preparatory talks have been plagued by lack of agreement on how much to cut greenhouse gas emissions and how to finance climate protection for the poorest countries.

"There is a real danger that politicians will be indecisive, especially in such turbulent economic times as these," according to the letter signed by leaders of 18 colleges of medicine and other medical disciplines across the world. "Should their response be weak, the results for international health could be catastrophic."

Earlier in the year, The Lancet, together with University College London (UCL), published a major review on the health impacts of climate change. Some of the headline findings were that rising temperatures are likely to increase transmission of many infectious diseases, reduce supplies of food and clean water in developing countries, and raise the number of people dying from heat-related conditions in temperate regions.

But it also acknowledged some huge gaps in research - for example, that "almost no reliable data for heatwave-induced mortality exist in Africa or south Asia". Nevertheless, the main conclusion was that in a world likely to have three billion new inhabitants by the second half of this century: "Effects of climate change on health will affect most populations in the next decades and put the lives and wellbeing of billions of people at increased risk".

The current Lancet and BMJ editorial that accompanies the letter from doctors' organisations argues that climate change strengthens the cases that health and development charities are already championing. "Even without climate change, the case for clean power, electric cars, saving forests, energy efficiency, and new agriculture technology is strong.

Written by Lord Michael Jay, who chairs the health charity Merlin, and Professor Michael Marmot of UCL, [Not the Marmot again! What an inveterate crook he is! He is associated with the dubious WCRF and some equally dubious dietary claims] the editorial argues that there are plenty of "win-win solutions" available. "A low-carbon economy will mean less pollution. A low carbon-diet (especially eating less meat) and more exercise will mean less cancer, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. [A myth. There's no good evidence for that at all. Traditional Eskimos eat meat and fat almost exclusively but have LOW rates of cardiovascular disease etc. See also here]



Last week a UK tribunal ruled that belief in manmade global warming had the same status as a religious conviction, such as transubstantiation.

True believers in the hypothesis will need mountains of faith in the years ahead. The New Scientist has given weight to the prediction that the planet is in for a cool 20 years - defying the computer models and contemporary climate theory. It's "bad timing", admits the magazine's environmental correspondent, Fred Pearce.

Mojib Latif of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University, quoted by the magazine, attributes much of the recent warming to naturally occurring ocean cycles. Scientific study of the periodic ocean climate variability is in its infancy; for example the PDO or Pacific Decadal Oscillation, was only described in the late 1990s. It's the Leibniz team which predicted a forthcoming cooling earlier this year - causing a bullying outbreak at the BBC. "We have to ask the nasty questions ourselves or other people will do it," Latif told the magazine.

A historical comparison of recent warming contrasts the UN IPCC accounts of Thermageddon - based on climate models - with the post-1800 trend which shows a gradual warming. Little seems out of place in recent times except the predictions, says Dr Syun Akasofu, Founding Director of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and former director of the Geophysical Institute. Aksasofu says multi-decadal oscillations, discovered within the past decade, account for the variability.

Earlier this summer a mathematical study also predicted cooling, and won an unusual endorsement from the Real Climate website, the blog founded by Al Gore's PR company and staffed by advocates of the manmade climate change theory. In a paper entitled Has the climate recently shifted? Professor Kyle Swanson and Anastasios Tsonsis, mathematicians at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the authors engage with the problem that temperatures have failed to follow the predictions made by computer climate models.

It excited climate sceptics, but I'm not sure why. In the paper, Swanson and Tsonis correlated data from the ENSO, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, and the North Pacific Index and found that synchronisations occurred four times - in 1910-20; 1938-45; 1956-60; and 1976-1981. After three of these, the climate shifted too. When coupling between the systems was high, climate invariably changed.

The recent cooling, which they suggest started in 2001, is an indicator of a phase shift. (Others point out that discounting the freak El Nino weather event of 1998, which raised temperatures by 0.2°C, there has been no statistically significant warming since 1995.)

This cooling, which appears unprecedented over the instrumental period, is "suggestive of an internal shift of climate dynamical processes that as yet remain poorly understood," they wrote.

"The apparent lack of a proximate cause behind the halt in warming post 2001/02 challenges our understanding of the climate system, specifically the physical reasoning and causal links between longer time-scale modes of internal climate variability and the impact of such modes upon global temperature... the possibility of near constant temperature lasting a decade or more into the future must at least be entertained...

This overshoot is in the process of radiatively dissipating, and the climate will return to its earlier defined, greenhouse gas-forced warming signal. If this hypothesis is correct, the era of consistent record-breaking global mean temperatures will not resume until roughly 2020," Swanson wrote.

The confidence that higher atmospheric CO2 levels will result in significant long-term increases in temperature is founded on knock-on effects, or positive feedbacks, amplifying the CO2 effect. Large positive feedbacks imply "runaway" global warming - aka Thermageddon.

But even the basics are fiercely contested. Does a warmer climate mean more or fewer clouds, and do these trap even more heat, or act as a sunshade, cooling it back down again? Clouds are so poorly understood, you can take your pick. So if the climate isn't getting warmer, the theory requires the view that the energy must be "hiding" somewhere, mostly likely in oceanic heat sinks.

But neither the feedbacks, nor the oceans, are currently being kind to contemporary climate theory.



In seeking to use religion to force people to change their eco-unfriendly behaviour, greens are debasing both religious belief and scientific truth

Frank Furedi

We live in world where the cynical manipulation of people's fears and anxieties often overrides informed public debate. Principles and beliefs seem to have become negotiable commodities, and all too often the search for truth gives way to doing 'whatever works'. In recent decades religious figures have, at various times, embraced the authority of science, therapy and the environment as a way of communicating their messages. Indeed, the old statement 'our faith demands...' has increasingly given way to the claim that 'the research shows...'. If Christian fundamentalists can reinvent their dogma in the language of 'creationist science', how long before atheist scientists seek to justify their moral crusade in the language of religion?

Well, Lord May, president of the British Science Association, has risen to the occasion with his call last week to mobilise religion as part of the crusade against global warming. May said that mainstream religions should play a key role in convincing people to become more aware of environmental issues and to change their behaviour in order to 'save the planet'. By making this opportunist demand for the effective rehabilitation of God, an atheist moral entrepreneur has shown that it is possible to debase both religion and science at the same time.

May's call to use religion to promote the cause of climate change awareness is the logical conclusion to a project - environmentalism - which in every respect is a moral crusade. Back in September 2003, the late American writer Michael Crichton characterised environmentalism as a powerful new religion. He was possibly thinking of the Lord Mays of this world when he said that 'environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists'.

Old-fashioned religious themes are continually recycled by greens. Some environmentalists may joke about 'green sins' but they are deadly serious when they denounce evil polluters and deniers. In this contemporary urban religion, the carbon footprint symbolises human transgression, though absolution can be gained through carbon offsets. Green judgements on our diets, our procreation habits and our everyday behaviour are possibly even more intrusive than the pronouncements of medieval religious figures. Old-fashioned prophecy and divination have given way to speculation and alarmist warnings based on computer models. And the medieval inquisition that targeted heretics and witches has got a new lease of life in the current crusade against sceptics and so-called deniers.

Many intelligent observers of today's green theocracy argue that it represents an answer to humanity's need for religion. No doubt we all need to believe in something, but the current embrace of religion by Lord May and other green-leaning atheists is driven by simple opportunism rather than a genuine crisis of belief. The attempt to recruit God to the anti-climate change campaign is driven by a desire to influence all those people who currently are not responding to the moral crusade to save the planet. The turn to God is underwritten by a strong feeling of contempt towards both religion and the public.

Many environmentalists believe that ordinary people are too selfish and too stupid to pay attention to the lofty message about saving the planet. Leading green commentators bemoan people's short-termist and irrational behaviour. One British eco-columnist wrote about how 'depressed' he felt about 'the epidemic of mass denial' in Britain, where ordinary people simply refuse to take climate change seriously. 'Up to a point, laws can be passed to combat climate change, and offenders who don't conform can be punished', he casually observed, before noting that, in the end, people will have to understand 'the dangers and threats we face' (1).

Activist-scientists like May seem to believe there are two ways of influencing the public: by making fear appeals or using a form of moral blackmail. Apocalyptic warnings about the future of the planet have become the bread and butter of the crusade against climate change. These alarmist messages are promoted in the most simplistic and emotive terms. 'I liked it. It does emotionalise the debate, but it seems that it has to do that' - that was the verdict of Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, on Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth. American environmentalists often give a deeply contemptuous assessment of their audiences. According to one green activist, 'the "issue" of climate change must be defined for Americans' in 'uncomplicated, black-and-white terms' (2).


Light Bulbs and the Madness of Energy Efficiency Regulations

Because you can't flip them on and off quicky, fluorescents tend to be left on continuously. That alone probably negates any power savings -- JR

Europeans (like Americans) choose to buy ordinary light bulbs around 9 times out of 10 (European Commission and light industry data 2007-8). Banning what people want gives the supposed savings that are "good for them"—no point in banning what people don’t want!

If new LED lights—or improved CFLs etc—are good, people will buy them—no need to ban ordinary light bulbs (little point). If they are not good, people will not buy them—no need to ban ordinary light bulbs (no point). The similar case of the arrival of the transistor didn’t mean that more energy using radio tubes were banned…they were bought less, anyway.

"Market failures" keep being cited as a reason for efficiency regulations. In other words, consumers don't act as they are "supposed to", in preferring cheap but inefficient products. Certainly, ordinary light bulbs are cheap—no crime—but you don’t keep buying cheap products that do not meet your expectation. Ordinary light bulbs, for example, have many advantages including broad spectrum light quality, appearance, versatility with dimmers and sensors, quickness to come on in the cold, and are easy to make bright, including in small sizes.

Conversely: People don’t avoid "energy saving" lights (CFLs, LEDs) just because they are expensive. If that were true, no other expensive alternative products would be bought either. Think of imaginative advertising that sells long lasting batteries (Duracell/Energizer bunnies) or washing up liquids: "expensive to buy but cheap in the long run!" As it is now, certainly in Europe, CFL and LED manufacturers rely on boring public campaigns - and the ban - to shift their product.

Yet, from various research it can be seen that most households have indeed tried CFLs—maybe they don’t want a house full of CFLs or LEDs, maybe they like a bit of variation (different light suit different locations, —maybe, shock horror, they just don’t like CFLs!

Consider more closely this notion among politicians that "everyone should buy something just because it is efficient". Certainly, they might improve, as promised, but CFL manufacturers themselves can inform on and promote that—just like any other business does.

Efficiency is one advantage a product can have. Not only can inefficient products have other advantages, they have to have them, or they would not survive on the market. Our inspired politicians are banning everything from types of building to washing machines to computers, TV sets, plasma screens etc based on efficiency criteria. Unfortunately, appearance, construction, performance as well as price—and indeed savings—can be tied in with advantages of inefficient products.

There is another question that should be asked: What is the actual need to save energy? Advice is good and welcome, but bans are another matter…Consumers—not politicians—pay for energy, its production, and how they wish to use it. There is no energy shortage—on the contrary, more and more renewable sources are being developed—and if there was an energy shortage, the price rise would lead to more demand for efficient products anyway—no need to legislate for it. As for light bulbs, the supposed savings of a ban don’t hold up, for many reasons

Brief examples:

Effect on Electricity Bills

If energy use does indeed fall with light bulb and other proposed efficiency bans, electricity companies make less money, and they’ll simply push up the electricity bills to compensate, in covering their fixed overheads. They can't just (like politicians seem to think) "save a power station". Now, marketplace competition might have prevented such price rises—but power companies often have their own grids with little supply competition, grids that moreover have to be maintained at fixed costs. Energy regulators can hardly deny any such cost covering exercise—supposed money savings then affected.

Conversely: Since energy efficiency in effect means cheaper energy, people simply leave appliances on more than before, crank up the heat of boilers etc., as shown by recent Scottish and Cambridge research (in the case of CFLs they’re supposed to be left on more anyway, to avoid cutting down on their lifespan)—supposed energy savings then affected.

The fact that CFLs are not as bright as stated is another reason against supposed savings. A simple comparison test was recently described by a British newspaper. Also, since lifespan is lab tested in 3 hour cycles, any increased on-off switching reduces it, as does (as said) leaving the lights on to combat it.

More: CFLs typically have a "power factor" of 0.5

Power companies therefore typically need to generate more than twice as as much power than what your electricity meter - or CFL rating - shows, taking everything into consideration. Of course you end up having to pay for this anyway, in electricity charges being higher than they otherwise would have been. Without going into technicalities, this has to do with current and voltage phase differences set up when CFLs are used. There is nothing new or strange about this. Industries are today penalized if they present such a work load to the power station. The only significant "energy saving" going on here is in the mental activity of politicians in Brussels...London…Dublin…Washington...and the journalists uncritically regurgitating everything thrown at them aren't much better, either.


Does your light bulb actually give out any gases? That's right: It's not like a car is it? Yet, cars that release large amounts of CO2 aren't banned. (in fact in Europe they are often taxed for emissions - hang on to that thought). Power stations might not give out any CO2 gas either: Why should emission-free households - like in Sweden and France (or much of Washington state, as hydropower, and nuclear powered US regions) be denied the use of lighting they obviously want to use? Low emission households already dominate some other regions, and will increase everywhere, since emissions will be reduced anyway through the planned use of coal/gas processing technology and/or energy substitution.

The Taxation alternative

A ban on light bulbs is extraordinary, in being on a product safe to use. We are not talking about banning lead paint here. This is simply a ban to reduce electricity consumption (whether viable or not).

Even for those who remain pro-ban, taxation to reduce the consumption would be fairer and make more sense, also since governments can use the income to reduce emissions (home insulation schemes, renewable projects etc) more than any remaining product use causes such problems. A few euros/dollars tax that reduces the current sales (EU like the USA 2 billion sales per annum, UK 250-300 million pa) raises future billions, and would retain consumer choice. It could also be revenue neutral, lowering any sales tax on efficient products. When sufficent low emission electricity delivery is in place, the ban can be lifted

Taxation, it should be said, is itself unjustified for similar reasons to bans. It just has, in comparison, advantages for all concerned. Of course, an EU ban is underway, but in phases, supposedly with reviews in a couple of years time. Maybe as the ban draws nearer in the USA and Canada, lessons can be learned from what is happening over here?

More HERE (See the original for more links on the subject)


Three current articles grouped below

Beautiful Australian island faces rising tide of oppressive Greenie regulation

Last Wednesday I was minding my own business, atop the high, sheer cliffs along Malabar Hill on Lord Howe Island. I was not expecting the company of a ratbag. He was the worst kind of ratbag: intelligent, articulate, informed, focused.

It was a perfect day at a perfect place. Lord Howe is probably the most beautiful island in Australian territory, one of the most beautiful islands in the world and a globally significant bird sanctuary and coral zone. I was using binoculars to gaze at tropicbirds, with their long, trailing, red tails, as they wheeled in circling, looping mating rituals above the sea. Behind me, three people turned up, a couple of visitors from the mainland and their guide, a knowledgeable man. His ratbaggery was not at all evident at first.

One of the visitors commented that plants right on the edge of the precipice had been banded with identifying marks by park staff (the entirety of Lord Howe Island has been declared a World Heritage Site). The guide told the visitors that staff were paid $24 an hour to keep the park free of weeds and preserve native species. He said it was like being paid to bushwalk.

He also mentioned that staff were responsible for setting rat traps, because rats have been a problem on Lord Howe Island for more than 100 years, since they were introduced from a ship foundering on one of the reefs. When I asked this apparent expert whether rats were a growing problem on the island, or in a steady state, he replied, ''A steady state, but we can't be complacent.''

''Is it true,'' I asked, ''that they want to drop poisoned pellets from a helicopter over the island to get rid of the rats?'' ''Yes,'' he replied. The program will be based on successful rat eradication efforts on islands in New Zealand. (I later checked this and it turned out to be true.)

He seemed to know everything, so I asked if it were also true there were plans to get rid of the Norfolk Island pines on Lord Howe Island. There was a proposal, he replied, to phase out the pines over 30 years, leaving a few trees for ''heritage'' reasons. ''Why?" I asked. ''Because they are not native,'' he replied.

What? The groves of giant pines along the central shore of the island, where most people live or stay, are sheltering windbreaks, beautiful, and part of the traditional character of the island almost since habitation began in 1833. They are also the breeding habitat for white terns. Besides, Lord Howe has an airport and a village, and will never to return to native purity. When I registered my dismay, he said the pines should be replaced by native species.

''Are you staying at Pinetrees?'' he asked. Yes. Pinetrees is the oldest and most famous of the hotels on the island. It has been run by the same family for 110 years. He had plenty of suggestions for the owners, too. (Pinetrees is owned by two sisters, Kerry McFadyen and Pixie Rourke, whose family has lived on the island for five generations.)

''They should cut down the pine trees and use the timber to make cabins further up the hill, so that when global warming brings a rise in sea level, they will still have a resort and they can still call it Pinetrees.'' His attitude was a metaphor for the dark side of the environmental movement, the uncompromising, didactic, self-important side. Religious zeal may be on the wane in our society, but the impulse towards crusading, evangelistic certainty is not.

This is why the Greens have failed to break out of their 9 per cent political rump. The party should be in a much more powerful position, with the benefit of the great gale of environmental concern billowing in its spinnaker. Instead, it constantly sails into the politically less rewarding and less pragmatic territory of anti-capitalism, anti-Americanism, drug politics, sexual politics, identity politics, refugee politics and a doctrinaire brand of sanctimonious environmentalism that irritates more than educates.

That same evening, I met Kerry McFadyen and her husband, Bruce, who co-manages the property. She is a marine biologist and qualified as a medical doctor; he is an architect, but they gave up these careers to run Pinetrees. I didn't interview them. I was just a guest chatting about what I had heard that day from the zealot on Malabar Hill. They were worried about their pine trees but they had more pressing problems. Like the rest of society, they were beginning to feel the rising tide of regulation, which, in a social system as small and delicate as Lord Howe Island has a greater impact.

The Lord Howe Island Board, which runs the island, intends to impose a thumping tax increase on the small band of hotel operators. For Pinetrees, the annual bed tax is going to more than double from $32,640 a year to $68,000 next year, and to $85,000 in the year after that. They are also being blocked from renovating their staff quarters by a pedantic bureaucrat. Space precludes detailing the idiocy of this particular obduracy.

Then there is the threat to the pine trees from axe-wielding purists. And a particularly doctrinaire island environmental officer who makes their life hell. Oh, and the NSW Government might be dropping rat poison via helicopter.

Lord Howe Island does not face any environmental crisis, but it does face a rising tide of bureaucracy which could threaten the island's health long before the sea rises even a millimetre.


How cutting carbon emissions leads to wasting energy

Why is the Rudd government's green-team intent on wasting natural gas?

ECONOMISTS can and do get it wrong. The lead-up to the sub-prime mortgage crisis being an obvious case in point. While some economists and regulators were convinced all was well, many people were alarmed at a system that enabled people to buy expensive houses with loans that were beyond their means of repaying. It just didn't pass the common sense test. But have we learned our lesson about relying on complex economics that nobody really understands? In the context of climate change legislation, it would appear not.

Consider the following. If the government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme is introduced, it will actually be cheaper for the coal industry to burn the natural gas that is produced by coal mines than to use that same gas to generate electricity.

That's right. Rather than capture what is known as waste coal mine gas, which is a form of natural gas, and use it to generate electricity across Australia, once the CPRScomes in it will be more efficient to set it alight.

Never mind that the world demand for natural gas is rising. Never mind that the gas wasted in this way could be used to reduce the amount of coal burned elsewhere in Australia. And never mind that there are a lot more skilled jobs in building and maintaining waste gas-fired generators than there are in literally watching the gas go up in smoke. If the intent of the government's legislation is to be believed, they know what's best and that, it seems, is supposed to be the end of the issue.

But what if the economists Climate Change Minister Penny Wong is listening to are wrong? Isn't it at least possible that using this waste natural gas is better than burning it?

The irony is that for the past decade the answer has been a resounding yes. Well before anybody had even heard of a CPRS, private companies began building and operating gas-fired electricity generators. In fact, there are 215 megawatts of these generators now in operation. Together they help to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by more than 6.5 million tonnes each year, which is greater than the annual abatement the government hopes to achieve with its $4billion ceiling insulation initiative.

The problem is that it costs a bit more to turn gas into electricity than it does to simply set fire to it. While the electricity that is generated can be sold into the grid, without some form of government assistance it can't compete with the very low price of power generated from burning coal.

And there's the rub: while the existing NSW scheme makes using the gas viable, the proposed CPRS does not.

In response to pressure the government recently announced some changes to the renewable energy target designed to reduce the harm that the CPRS will do to the owners of waste coal gas electricity generators, but in doing so they ensured that no new waste gas generators will be built.

What better example of the lack of transformation that the CPRS will generate could there be? The government is willing to provide some compensation to existing waste gas generators, but its policy will prevent new ones from being built.

The CPRS has been criticised from all directions. Of course the government argues that if nobody likes it they must have the balance right. But of course it might also be the case that nobody likes it because it doesn't really work. The government's whole strategy for selling the scheme to the public seems to be to confuse people into supporting it. In arguing that their scheme is the most effective way to tackle climate change they have placed the burden of proof on their critics. But it is the government that should be able to answer simple questions about its scheme. Simple questions such as:

* If the CPRS is a step in the right direction why will it destroy $350 million worth of planned projects to convert waste natural gas into electricity?

* If the CPRS delivers least cost abatement why is it cheaper to burn the natural gas that comes out of coal mines than turn it into power?

* If the government is interested in creating green jobs why does its scheme encourage coal mines to import emissions credits from other countries rather than invest in the onsite conversion of waste gas into useable electricity?

Australian firms are at the cutting edge of this industry, with their technology and skills in demand throughout Asia where this gas exists in abundance and is being converted to fuel for communities in dire need of energy. Already they are employing hundreds of people turning natural gas, that would otherwise be wasted, into electricity. It's an efficient use of a natural resource and it means that less coal needs to be burned elsewhere. Most important of all, however, is the fact that it is the existing policy framework, not the CPRS, that makes the expansion of this industry viable.

Australia needs a comprehensive national approach to tackling climate change, but that does not mean we need the CPRS as it is proposed. It is the government's fault that the proposal is so flawed and it is the government's job to fix it. Unfortunately, rather than listen to her critics, Wong has sought to silence them. And rather than explain her scheme to the public she has sought to confuse them.

If the Minister is proud of her scheme she should explain why she thinks burning waste natural gas is better than using it. And if she isn't proud of it, she should fix it.


Greenie craze burns down homes

Rather a puzzle why, though. Batts are usually made of glass fibre or wool, neither of which is flammable. Are people using ones made of recycled paper?

DOZENS of NSW homes have been destroyed or damaged by fires which erupted when badly installed ceiling insulation came into contact with downlights. Seven homes in Sydney caught fire, with at least one totally destroyed, in just the past six weeks. The fires are particularly dangerous because they can spread in the roof cavity before the occupiers notice, and have forced an urgent warning from the State Government and NSW Fire Brigade.

In NSW, 129,420 homeowners have taken advantage of the $1600 rebates for the installation of ceiling insulation batts which are part of the Federal Government's $3.9 billion energy efficient homes program.

But NSW Fair Trading Minister Virginia Judge said yesterday too many batts were being laid incorrectly. Ms Judge said at least 26 homes in NSW had been destroyed or damaged this year by fires caused by poorly placed ceiling batts touching downlights. Several fires happened within a day of batts being installed. Downlighting, globes that sit flush in ceilings with their transformers and wiring in the roof space, is one of the most popular ways to light a home.

Ms Judge said batts were being laid directly over downlights, or over older insulation material. "Down lights and transformers should never be covered by ceiling insulation because they act like giant firelighters," Ms Judge said.



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


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Short-term climate prediction: An unrealistic project

By S. Fred Singer, President, SEPP

Two widely acclaimed research papers (1,2) have tried to explain the current lack of warming in terms of natural influences on climate, but have limited their discussion entirely to internal oscillations of the ocean-atmosphere system. I do not find this explanation satisfactory. There is no theory to account for the various internal oscillations and they do not appear in current climate models. More to the point, the authors neglect the effect of any external forcing from variable solar activity. Yet geological evidence conclusively demonstrates such solar forcing effects on climate; it is difficult to account in other ways for the detailed correlation, observed in stalagmites, between carbon-14, a cosmic-ray produced isotope, and oxygen-18, the conventional indicator of terrestrial climate. While the exact mechanism at work is not completely settled, it is quite unrealistic to assume that this well-established process, which operated for millennia during the Holocene, is no longer operating today.

It is unreasonable also to assume also that two independent forcings are causing decadal-scale climate variations. I am therefore of the opinion that solar activity provides the trigger for the quasi-periodic internal oscillations, like PDO etc, -- which is not a new idea.

In addition, both papers subscribe to the basic (and unsupported) IPCC claim of a substantial anthropogenic contribution from GH gases -- contrary to the NIPCC summary report "Nature -- Not Human Activity -- Rules the Climate" See here


1. "Long-term natural variability and 20th century climate change" by Kyle L. Swanson, George Sugihara, and Anastasios A. Tsonis; PNAS, 14 September 2009, 10.1073/pnas.0908699106 -- expanding on their paper in GRL (2007)

Abstract: Global mean temperature at the Earth's surface responds both to externally imposed forcings, such as those arising from anthropogenic greenhouse gases, as well as to natural modes of variability internal to the climate system. Variability associated with these latter processes, generally referred to as natural long-term climate variability, arises primarily from changes in oceanic circulation. Here we present a technique that objectively identifies the component of inter-decadal global mean surface temperature attributable to natural long-term climate variability. Removal of that hidden variability from the actual observed global mean surface temperature record delineates the externally forced climate signal, which is monotonic, accelerating warming during the 20th century.

2. Keenlyside et al. 2008, Nature 453, 84 -- 88

Coauthor Prof Mojib Latif, from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University in Germany, has been looking at the influence of cyclical changes to ocean currents and temperatures in the Atlantic, a feature known as the North Atlantic Oscillation. When he factored these natural fluctuations into his global climate model, he found the results would bring the rise in average global temperatures to an abrupt halt.

He told more than 1500 gathered in Geneva at the UN's World Climate Conference (WCC-3 Aug 31 -- Sept 4, 2009) that in the next few years a natural cooling trend would dominate over any warming caused by humans. The NAO is now moving into a colder phase. Breaking with climate-change orthodoxy, he said NAO cycles were probably responsible for some of the strong global warming seen in the past three decades. "But how much? The jury is still out," he told the conference.

Latif claimed that NAO cycles also explained the recent recovery of the Sahel region of Africa from the droughts of the 1970s and 1980s. Few climate scientists go as far as Latif, an IPCC author. But more and more agree that the short-term prognosis for climate change is much less certain than once thought. James Murphy, head of climate prediction at the Met Office, agreed and linked the NAO to Indian monsoons, Atlantic hurricanes and sea ice in the Arctic. "The oceans are key to decadal natural variability," he said.

SEPP Science Editorial #29-2009 (9/19/09)

Newsweak's silly little Sharon Begley flunks Calculus, Science and Politics

By Joseph D"Aleo

Sharon Begley, after a five-year stint at the Wall Street Journal returned to greener pastures at Newsweek in 2007, where she started her career. It was just in time to take part in Newsweek"s embarrassing August 13, 2007 issue " Global Warming is a Hoax" edition.

The cover story entitled, " The Truth About Denial" contained very little that could be considered " truth" by journalistic or scientific standards. In what could surely be considered one of the most one-sided coverage of any important issue in American journalism for decades, Sharon Begley with Eve Conant, Sam Stein, Eleanor Clift and Matthew Philips purported to examine the " well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks and industry that they...created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change."

The only problem was\emdash Newsweek knew better. Eve Conant, who interviewed Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, was given all the latest data proving conclusively that it was the proponents of man-made global warming fears that enjoyed a monumental funding advantage over the skeptics (a whopping $50 billion to a paltry $19 million for the skeptics). Newsweek contributing editor Robert J. Samuelson, called the piece " fundamentally misleading" and " highly contrived."

Begley"s next screed was " Climate Change Calculus: in the August 3, 2009 issue, subtitled " Why it"s even worse than we feared." She begins: " Among the phrases you really, really do not want to hear from climate scientists are: " that really shocked us," " we had no idea how bad it was," and " reality is well ahead of the climate models."[...] Although policymakers hoped climate models would prove to be alarmist, the opposite is true, particularly in the Arctic."

What is the reality? Well the models are failing miserably, but in the wrong direction. Over the last eight years, the world has cooled in contrast with the forecast rise in all the IPCC scenarios. The Arctic ice extent as of September 18, 2009, climatologically close to the maximum melt date, is 24.5% greater than the minimum in September 2007.

None of the models foresaw the cooling that has taken place the last 8 years.

Begley also addressed Greenland and sea level rises quoting David Carlson. " ...Greenland is losing about 52 cubic miles per year and that the melting is accelerating. So while the IPCC projected that sea level would rise 16 inches this century, " now a more likely figure is one meter [39 inches] at the least," says Carlson. " Chest-high instead of knee-high, with half to two thirds of that due to Greenland." Hence the " no idea how bad it was.""

Other scientists strongly disagree. Ettema et al. (2009) state that " considerably more mass accumulates on the Greenland Ice Sheet than previously thought...which suggests that the Northern Hemisphere"s largest ice sheet may well hang around a whole lot longer than many climate alarmists have been willing to admit." A 2006 study by a team of scientists led by Petr Chylek of Los Alamos National Laboratory, Space and Remote Sensing Sciences found the rate of Greenland warming in 1920-1930 was about 50% higher than that in 1995-2005, suggesting carbon dioxide "could not be the cause". And Ollier and Pain in August 2009, AIG paper " Why the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets are Not Collapsing" conclude " Variations in melting around the edges of ice sheets are no indication that they are collapsing. Indeed "collapse" is impossible."

And supporting this non-threat, sea levels have stopped rising in 2005 as the oceans have cooled and contracted, but why let facts get in the way of a good story?

Oceans and the Sun Not CO2

We have reported in earlier stories in this magazine on the importance of natural cycles on the sun and in the oceans in climate change and that these factors should support cooling for the net few decades. There is an increasing body of new peer review support for this.

Mojib Latif of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University, in New Scientist (2009) attributes much of the recent warming to naturally occurring ocean cycles.

" Little seems out of place in recent times except the predictions" , says Dr Syun Akasofu, Founding Director of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and former director of the Geophysical Institute. Aksasofu says multi-decadal oscillations, discovered within the past decade, account for the variability.

Earlier this summer in a paper entitled " Has the climate recently shifted?" Kyle Swanson and Anastasios Tsonsis, mathematicians at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, engaged with the problem that temperatures have failed to follow the predictions made by computer climate models. In the paper, Swanson and Tsonis correlated data from the El Nino/La Nina, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the North Atlantic Oscillation, and the North Pacific Index and found that synchronizations occurred four times: in 1910-20; 1938-45; 1956-60; and 1976-1981. When coupling between the systems was high, climate invariably changed. The recent cooling, which they suggest started in 2001, is an indicator of another phase shift with a cooling that will last for decades.

Alarmist solar scientists Lean and Rind have reluctantly attributed recent cooling to a quiet sun and foresee a repeat from 2014-2019 the minimum of the next cycle. They have not yet come around to the opinion of many solar scientists including those at NASA, that the sun, which has been quieter, longer than any time since the early 1800s, a period called the Dalton Minimum or mini-ice age, the time of Dickens and cold snowy winters in London, much as we saw last winter.

Begley would benefit from reading the widely praised NIPCC report, Climate Change Reconsidered, an ambitious peer review work the scale of the IPCC, co-authored by Craig Idso and Dr. Fred Singer, which shows why natural factors like the sun and the oceans, not man, control the climate.

Begley proves that she is not only scientifically but also politically illiterate in the third installment of her latest climate crisis coverage. On September 7, in a piece titled " China and India Will Pay," she declares " A special place in climate hell is being reserved for India and China." As CORE"s Paul Driessen put it " 400 million Indians and 500 million Chinese still do not have electricity. No electricity means no refrigeration, to keep food and medicines from spoiling. It means no water purification, to reduce baby-killing intestinal diseases. No modern heating and air conditioning, to reduce hypothermia in winter, heat stroke in summer, and lung disease year-round. It means no lights or computers, no modern offices, factories, schools, shops, clinics or hospitals."

Even the IPCC"s chair, Rajendra Pachauri, has defended India"s refusal to cut its emissions, noting that millions of Indians still lack electricity.

But to the technological elite in their ivory towers, the liberal elitist political leaders in Washington, and their adoring media, their loss is but a small price to pay to save the planet from an imagined crisis, one that offers such a golden opportunity to achieve their real goal as none other than Al Gore admitted " of one world governance." In their journey there, they show more compassion for the white grizzly bear of the polar region and the snail darter than for the humans. They worry more about population than people.

China and India will make us pay as they take away our jobs and become the technological leaders as we model our government after the failed socialist experiments of an ever-declining Europe and even copy their alternative energy boondoggles that will prove to be the next bubble while we sit on huge rich fields of oil, gas and coal that, along with nuclear, could provide the power to revitalize our industries and put America back on top.

Begley authored the 2007 book " Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain." I would argue she needs to instead re-train her brain and change her mind.

SOURCE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Naughty NOAA

Meteorologist suggests NOAA is manipulating data to support climate claims and political goals. Some comments below by Joe D'Aleo, the first Director of Meteorology at The Weather Channel and former chairman of the American Meteorological Society's (AMS) Committee on Weather Analysis and Forecasting. D'Aleo comments on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) claim that global sea-surface temperatures (SST's) were recently the hottest since 1880

To enable them to make the case the oceans are warming, NOAA chose to remove satellite input from their global ocean estimation and not make any attempt to operationally use NASA's Argo data in the process. This resulted in a jump of 0.2C or more and 'a new ocean warmth record' in July. ARGO tells us this is another example of NOAA's inexplicable decision to corrupt data to support political agendas.

What can I say. Between the station dropout (80% of the world's stations, mostly rural), removal in US or absence globally of any UHI (Urban Heat Island) adjustment, bad siting for 90% of the climate stations and the recent removal of satellite input into the ocean temperature assessments, NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has ensured that each and every month and season will rank and 'validate' their piece of excrement called CCSP and support the government's argument for Cap-and-Tax, carbon regulations and global actions at Copenhagen.

This is not an indictment of the hard-working and honest rank-and-file NOAA employees at the local offices and even behind the scenes at NCDC. It is the fault of higher-ups and managers whose jobs and reputations rely on perpetrating the global warming hoax long enough so the governments can have their way to control virtually every aspect of our lives and keep the funding at the highest possible level for those who have abused the science to their benefit. See also here, here and here.

SOURCE. See also here

Obama disses the EU Warmists

Europe has clashed with the US Obama administration over climate change in a potentially damaging split that comes ahead of crucial political negotiations on a new global deal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The Guardian understands that key differences have emerged between the US and Europe over the structure of a new worldwide treaty on global warming. Sources on the European side say the US approach could undermine the new treaty and weaken the world's ability to cut carbon emissions.

The treaty will be negotiated in December at a UN meeting in Copenhagen and is widely billed as the last chance to save the planet from a temperature rise of 2C or higher, which the EU considers dangerous. "If we end up with a weaker framework with less stringent compliance, then that is not so good for the chances of hitting 2C," a source close to the EU negotiating team said.

News of the split comes amid mounting concern that the Copenhagen talks will not make the necessary progress. Ban Ki-moon, the UN general secretary, told the Guardian last night that negotiations had stalled and need to "get moving". Ahead of an unprecedented UN climate change summit of almost 100 heads of government in New York next week, Moon said the leaders held in their hands "the future of this entire humanity". He said: "We are deeply concerned that the negotiation is not making much headway [and] it is absolutely and crucially important for the leaders to demonstrate their political will and leadership."

The dispute between the US and Europe is over the way national carbon reduction targets would be counted. Europe has been pushing to retain structures and systems set up under the Kyoto protocol, the existing global treaty on climate change. US negotiators have told European counterparts that the Obama administration intends to sweep away almost all of the Kyoto architecture and replace it with a system of its own design.

The issue is highly sensitive and European officials are reluctant to be seen to openly criticise the Obama administration, which they acknowledge has engaged with climate change in a way that President Bush refused to. But they fear the US move could sink efforts to agree a robust new treaty in Copenhagen.

The US distanced itself from Kyoto under President Bush because it made no demands on China, and the treaty remains political poison in Washington. European negotiators knew the US would be reluctant to embrace Kyoto, but they hoped they would be able to use it as a foundation for a new agreement.

If Kyoto is scrapped, it could take several years to negotiate a replacement framework, the source added, a delay that could strike a terminal blow at efforts to prevent dangerous climate change. "In Europe we want to build on Kyoto, but the US proposal would in effect kill it off. If we have to start from scratch then it all takes time. It could be 2015 or 2016 before something is in place, who knows."


Why CO2 is good for you

CO2 is Green... and Green is Good! More CO2 in the air means more plant growth

Earth's current atmospheric CO2 concentration is almost 390 parts per million (ppm). Adding another 300 ppm of CO2 to the air has been shown by literally thousands of experiments to greatly increase the growth or biomass production of nearly all plants. This growth stimulation occurs because CO2 is one of the two raw materials (the other being water) that are required for photosynthesis. Hence, CO2 is actually the "food" that sustains essentially all plants on the face of the earth, as well as those in the sea. And the more CO2 they "eat" (absorb from the air or water), the bigger and better they grow (see table below).

Adding more CO2 to the air also benefits plants in other ways:

They generally do not open their leaf stomatal pores as wide as they do at lower CO2 concentrations, and they tend to produce fewer such pores per unit area of leaf surface. Both of these changes tend to reduce plant transpiration or water loss; and the amount of growth they experience per unit of water lost (water-use efficiency) therefore rises, greatly increasing their ability to withstand drought. And with fewer and smaller stomatal openings, plants exposed to elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 are also less susceptible to damage by noxious air pollutants, including ozone and oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, that gain entry into plants via these portals. Higher CO2 concentrations also help plants by reducing the negative effects of a number of other environmental stresses, such as high soil salinity, high air temperature, low air temperature, low light intensity, low levels of soil fertility, oxidative stress, and the stress of herbivory.

A visual example of the benefits described above is portrayed in the figure below, where the results of growing a common house plant (Devil's Ivy or Golden Pothos) at about 200 ppm below (left) or 350 ppm above (right) the atmosphere's current CO2 concentration is shown. As you examine this figure, ask yourself in which direction would you like to be heading if you were a plant: toward higher or lower atmospheric CO2 concentrations?

Yes, CO2 is green; and a wealth of research has shown that more of it in the air is a very good thing.

SOURCE (See the original for some great graphics)

The California "drought"

In the fall of 1990, I flew from Atlanta to San Diego, with our flight hugging the border of the United States and Mexico as we moved across the southwest deserts of New Mexico and Arizona. The farther west we flew, the more I saw some strange sights, those being great, circular fields of green crops located next to desert sands.

Then I saw the strangest sight of all: the place where the Colorado River simply stops flowing. As we flew past the northern end of the Gulf of California, I could see that the Colorado River did not reach its former terminus, disappearing, instead, into the soil a few miles above the gulf"s northern beaches.

That was more than a decade ago, and the pressure on the Colorado River to provide water for development in the western USA has grown immensely since then. A river that nearly 15 years ago was reduced to less than a trickle where there once was a mighty flow cannot be expected to fulfill the demands of people who are creating the kinds of land developments that one would expect to see in a place with average rainfall that measures nearly three digits, not in a desert.

In a recent New York Times article, writers Kirk Johnson and Dean E. Murphy write that there exists a real possibility that a long cycle of drought could drastically alter how westerners live and work. Not surprisingly, as one might expect of mainstream journalists from the nation"s "newspaper of record," the reporters demonstrate at best only a partial understanding of what is happening and what can be done about it.

They write:
At five years and counting, the drought that has parched much of the West is getting much harder to shrug off as a blip.

Those who worry most about the future of the West - politicians, scientists, business leaders, city planners and environmentalists - are increasingly realizing that a world of eternally blue skies and meager mountain snowpacks may not be a passing phenomenon but rather the return of a harsh climatic norm.

Continuing research into drought cycles over the last 800 years bears this out, strongly suggesting that the relatively wet weather across much of the West during the 20th century was a fluke. In other words, scientists who study tree rings and ocean temperatures say, the development of the modern urbanized West - one of the biggest growth spurts in the nation's history - may have been based on a colossal miscalculation.

That shift is shaking many assumptions about how the West is run. Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, the states that depend on the Colorado River, are preparing for the possibility of water shortages for the first time since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930's to control the river's flow. The top water official of the Bush administration, Bennett W. Raley, said recently that the federal government might step in if the states could not decide among themselves how to cope with dwindling supplies, a threat that riled local officials but underscored the growing urgency.

While the Times portrays the federal government as the ultimate savior in this growing mess, history tells us otherwise. The American West faces severe water shortages because of U.S. Government policies of this past century; the solution is not for the government to further assert itself, but rather to end the water socialism that it has imposed. The command system of economics that has led nations like North Korea and Cuba into ruin has also created the crisis in the West.

What the Times does not tell us is that water in the western states has been distributed politically, and that agricultural interests have held sway. Unlike the riparian system that governed water rights in the eastern USA, the West has developed under a "first user" principle that has operated on the principle of "use it or lose it" allocations, which is a sure recipe for waste. In other words, the use and distribution of water in the West ultimately is an economic issue, something that the Times" reporters have missed.

As Johnson and Murphy point out, the first users in the western system are agricultural interests, and they are allocated water at subsidized prices that would not be available even in eastern states where there was much more water. At $5 to $15 for an acre-foot (enough water to cover an acre of ground with a foot of water), farmers are able to grow water-intensive crops such as alfalfa, cotton, and rice. (Even with the water subsidies, rice is also subsidized on the price end, as the cost of growing rice is greater than the price that can be obtained for it on the free market.)

Paul Milgrom and John Roberts point out that these subsidies create situations that can only be called an economic version of the Theater of the Absurd:
Water rights for farmers vary considerably throughout the state of California, depending on the source of the water. Some farmers have inherited extremely valuable water rights to have huge quantities of cheap water delivered to them. Water for farming from the federal Bureau of Reclamation sells for $10 to $15 per acre-foot, and the cheapest subsidized water sells for as little as $3.50 per acre-foot, even though it may cost $100 to pump the water to the farmers --Meanwhile, households in Palo Alto pay about $65 for the same quantity of water, and some urban water users pay as much as $230. The most desperate nonagricultural communities along the Pacific coast of California have gone as far as to build desalination plants to obtain potable water from the ocean at a cost of approximately $3,000 per acre-foot. (Since this was written, it is not now possible to desalinate ocean water at about $1,000 an acre-foot.)

How much of the cheap water is used? One agricultural use alone, irrigating pastures for grazing cows and sheep, used 5.3 million acre-feet of water in 1986. This is enough water to cover the District of Columbia to a depth of 1,250 feet! --Yet the industry of raising cattle and sheep on irrigated pasture in California had gross revenues for that year of less than $100 million. Plainly, devoting so much water to such a low-value use is possible only because the water used to irrigate pastures is sold so cheaply.[i]

Government policies ensure that the water will be wasted, since those who have the water rights, as noted earlier, must "use it or lose it." Furthermore, they have been prohibited from selling those rights to other farmers or urban users. (The "reasoning" behind such regulations is that the government wishes to "preserve" the farm culture of Central California.)

Thus, we have taxpayers being forced to subsidize both the inputs into the crops and the crops themselves, all in the name of producing "cheap food" for consumers. However, such obvious waste cannot go on indefinitely, since government can only provide subsidies, not create new sources of water.

While much rhetoric is spewed out extolling the "public" uses of water, it is clear that California and the American West in general would have benefited from private ownership and distribution of water. No private firm would distribute a precious commodity like water in a desert in the way that the Bureau of Reclamation has done it. While the subsidized farms in the West are private, the federal government owns the main input that is needed for their crops: water. Thus, the term "private enterprise" here is meaningless, since the farms are wards of the state.

As the Times article demonstrates, however, this ridiculous saga may very well come to an end precisely because the government cannot create that which does not exist. Under a private system of ownership -- or even a semi-private one in which those with water rights would be permitted to sell them to whomever they would choose -- the water would go to users willing to pay for them.

However, one might object, would that mean the end of some farms in California and elsewhere in the West? Yes, that is exactly what that means. The government has engaged in egregiously wasteful policies in order to politically distribute water, and those policies have created the current crisis. One can be assured that if people actually had to pay market prices for water, and that water were privately owned in that region, it is doubtful that we would have seen the kind of wasteful development that has treated the western landscape as though it were a rain forest, not a desert.

To put it in a way that Austrians would understand, government policies have resulted in malinvested resources and development that cannot be sustained. As in Austrian Business Cycle Theory, which stresses that recovery cannot begin until the malinvested capital has been liquidated, the American West cannot begin to see true "sustainable" development until new policies are implemented.

Yes, the reality of less water will change much of how things are done in the West, and for many who lose jobs or a way of life, those changes will be very painful. Unfortunately, had private enterprise prevailed in water from the beginning, we would not be faced with the prospect of almost certain depopulation of the West and the elimination of many farms and ranches.

Being that water is politically distributed in the West, it will be difficult for members of Congress and the unelected bureaucrats who have created this crisis in the first place to be willing to make the necessary changes. However, changes will occur whether or not the government acts to get itself out of the water business. That is because government can only create hot air, not water itself.



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


Saturday, September 19, 2009


It is too early to determine the level of meteorological risk posed by global warming, says the director-general of the Beijing Climate Centre

A 2C rise in global temperatures will not necessarily result in the calamity predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), China's most senior climatologist has told the Guardian. Despite growing evidence that storms in China are getting fiercer, droughts longer and typhoons more deadly, Xiao Ziniu, the director general of the Beijing Climate Centre, said it was too early to determine the level of risk posed by global warming.

"There is no agreed conclusion about how much change is dangerous," Xiao said. "Whether the climate turns warmer or cooler, there are both positive and negative effects. We are not focusing on what will happen with a one degree or two degree increase, we are looking at what level will be a danger to the environment. In Chinese history, there have been many periods warmer than today."

The IPCC warns a 2C rise substantially increases the risks of floods, drought and storms. Whether a 2C rise turns global warming into global burning has emerged as one of the most contentious issues in advance of the Copenhagen summit. The G8 and EU want the world to set 2C as a ceiling by 2050, but China is sceptical. A senior government adviser said yesterday that the target of two degrees was unrealistic and would not give developing nations room to grow.

Xiao said China had started its own climate modelling programme for the next 100 years aimed at predicting the point when global warming will result in environmental collapse. His centre will also release yearly climate predictions for China. Even with weather satellites and sophisticated simulation software, Xiao is not overly optimistic about accuracy the initial results.

"Climate prediction has only come into operation in recent years. The accuracy of the prediction is very low because the climate is affected by many mechanisms we do not fully understand."



The general public are resentful, cynical and resigned when it comes to the issue of climate change, according to an IPPR report. Unless they can be persuaded to adopt lower-carbon lifestyles, it will be impossible to meet new emissions targets, says the report.

An approach based on saving the public money, and giving them greater control over energy bills and independence from suppliers would be more effective, say report researchers.

'Success will lie in convincing consumers that in adopting lower-carbon lifestyles they can save money and have control in a chaotic world, and they can do the right thing and look good without being an environmentalist,' said IPPR associate director Simon Retallack. 'If we can achieve that, while putting the policies in place to ensure that lower-carbon options are affordable, attractive and visible, we will have gone a long way towards mobilising the power of consumers in the battle against climate change,' he said.

The report, 'Consumer Power: how the public thinks lower-carbon behavour could be made mainstream', was based on workshops and in-depth interviews in late 2008 and early 2009. Researchers also visited interviewees' homes to gauge their reactions to energy advice.


They're still learning about climate change

In Milankovich theory, the canonical theory of glaciation and deglaciation, ice sheets wax and wane in response to the amount of summer insolation at a latitude of 65°N, which is consistent with the observed timing of the last deglaciation. The penultimate glaciation behaved quite differently, however. Now, Drysdale et al. (p. 1527, published online 13 August) offer firmer constraints on the timing of the penultimate deglaciation, by correlating a difficult-to-date marine record of ocean volume to a precisely datable nearby speleothem (terrestrial stalagmite). Ocean volume began to increase about 141,000 years ago, thousands of years before the rise in 65°N summer insolation. Thus, instead of the forcing mechanism proposed by Milankovich, variations in Earth's obliquity may be mostly responsible for the disappearance of ice sheets.

SOURCE. (Journal abstract follows)

Evidence for Obliquity Forcing of Glacial Termination II

R. N. Drysdale et al.

Variations in the intensity of high-latitude Northern Hemisphere summer insolation, driven largely by precession of the equinoxes, are widely thought to control the timing of Late Pleistocene glacial terminations. However, recently it has been suggested that changes in Earth’s obliquity may be a more important mechanism. We present a new speleothem-based North Atlantic marine chronology that shows that the penultimate glacial termination (Termination II) commenced 141,000 ± 2500 years before the present, too early to be explained by Northern Hemisphere summer insolation but consistent with changes in Earth’s obliquity. Our record reveals that Terminations I and II are separated by three obliquity cycles and that they started at near-identical obliquity phases.

Science 18 September 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5947, pp. 1527 - 1531

Energy 'Sprawl' and the Green Economy

We're about to destroy the environment in the name of saving it

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently announced plans to cover 1,000 square miles of land in Nevada, Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah with solar collectors to generate electricity. He's also talking about generating 20% of our electricity from wind. This would require building about 186,000 50-story wind turbines that would cover an area the size of West Virginia not to mention 19,000 new miles of high-voltage transmission lines.

Is the federal government showing any concern about this massive intrusion into the natural landscape? Not at all. I fear we are going to destroy the environment in the name of saving the environment.

The House of Representatives has passed climate legislation that started out as an attempt to reduce carbon emissions. It has morphed into an engine for raising revenues by selling carbon dioxide emission allowances and promoting "renewable" energy.

The bill requires electric utilities to get 20% of their power mostly from wind and solar by 2020. These renewable energy sources are receiving huge subsidies all to supposedly create jobs and hurry us down the road to an America running on wind and sunshine described in President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address.

Yet all this assumes renewable energy is a free lunch a benign, "sustainable" way of running the country with minimal impact on the environment. That assumption experienced a rude awakening on Aug. 26, when The Nature Conservancy published a paper titled "Energy Sprawl or Energy Efficiency: Climate Policy Impacts on Natural Habitat for the United States of America." The report by this venerable environmental organization posed a simple question: How much land is required for the different energy sources that power the country? The answers deserve far greater public attention.

By far nuclear energy is the least land-intensive; it requires only one square mile to produce one million megawatt-hours per year, enough electricity for about 90,000 homes. Geothermal energy, which taps the natural heat of the earth, requires three square miles. The most landscape-consuming are biofuels ethanol and biodiesel which require up to 500 square miles to produce the same amount of energy.

Coal, on the other hand, requires four square miles, mainly for mining and extraction. Solar thermal heating a fluid with large arrays of mirrors and using it to power a turbine takes six. Natural gas needs eight and petroleum needs 18. Wind farms require over 30 square miles.

This "sprawl" has been missing from our energy discussions. In my home state of Tennessee, we just celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Yet there are serious proposals by energy developers to cover mountains all along the Appalachian chain, from Maine to Georgia, with 50-story wind turbines because the wind blows strongest across mountaintops.

Let's put this into perspective: We could line 300 miles of mountaintops from Chattanooga, Tenn., to Bristol, Va., with wind turbines and still produce only one-quarter the electricity we get from one reactor on one square mile at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Watts Bar Nuclear Plant.

The 1,000 square-mile solar project proposed by Mr. Salazar would generate, on a continuous basis, 35,000 megawatts of electricity. You could get the same output from 30 new nuclear reactors that would fit comfortably onto existing nuclear sites. And this doesn't count the thousands of miles of transmission lines that will be needed to carry the newly generated solar power to population centers.

There's one more consideration. Solar collectors must be washed down once a month or they collect too much dirt to be effective. They also need to be cooled by water. Where amid the desert and scrub land will we find all that water? No wonder the Wildlife Conservancy and other environmentalists are already opposing solar projects on Western lands.

Renewable energy is not a free lunch. It is an unprecedented assault on the American landscape. Before we find ourselves engulfed in energy sprawl, it's imperative we take a closer look at nuclear power.



A consortium led by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. said it had discovered oil off the coast of Sierra Leone, potentially opening up a vast new petroleum province in the deep waters off West Africa. It is the latest in a string of deep-water finds spurred by advances in drilling technologies and exploration strategies that are changing the face of the oil industry. It comes in the same month BP PLC announced it had made a "giant" new oil discovery below the Gulf of Mexico after drilling what is thought to be the world's deepest well. That field is estimated to contain three billion barrels of oil, although only a fraction of that may ever be extracted, BP said.

The steep run-up in the price of oil over the past few years has swelled Western oil companies' exploration budgets and encouraged them to push into high-risk areas once considered too costly to exploit, such as the Arctic, and the ultra-deep waters offshore Brazil.

Twenty-five years ago, oil companies struggled to operate in seas deeper than 600 feet. Now technological innovations mean they can pump crude in waters 6,000 feet deep. Anadarko's well in Sierra Leone, known as Venus B, was drilled in water more than a mile deep.

Some observers say the string of recent discoveries, especially BP's, has undermined the theory of "peak oil" -- the idea that the world's oil production is about to peak -- since improving technology is constantly opening up new frontiers for Big Oil. BP's Gulf of Mexico find was "good evidence the concept behind peak oil is flawed," says Adam Sieminski, chief energy economist at Deutsche Bank.

Though much of the crude stored below ultra deep water is hard to extract, "if demand is there for the product, technology and prices will make it possible to develop that oil," he said.

The shift to ever remoter areas comes as Western oil companies are increasingly shut out of the world's richest oil provinces like the Middle East and Russia. But the new oil plays often present challenges that push the majors' technological abilities to the limit. Brazil's subsalt reserves, for example, are the largest discovery in the Western Hemisphere in three decades, but they are buried under a thick layer of salt miles below the ocean floor that shifts under geological pressure, making them extremely expensive to develop.


Climate Decisions taken without the support of research

Rough translation from a Swedish original below

Scientific uncertainty does not prevent politicians from acting on climate change, shows a dissertation from Lund University.

- Politicians and officials generally find ways to get around the scientific uncertainty, at least according to the material I studied, "says political scientist Asa Knaggård who has examined the Swedish climate policy from 1975 until 2007.

Asa Knaggård has, inter alia, reviewed investigative materials from agencies, reports from scientific committees, bills, newspaper articles, speeches and debates nationwide. Around 40 people as officials, scientists and former environment ministers have been interviewed. She has found that scientific uncertainties that exist in climate change do not matter which political decisions are taken. The Swedish emission target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by four percent is an example.

- It was based on what it believed was possible to implement politically. According to the interviews I have conducted, it has emerged that the case was based on calculations based on what they thought they could cut and that it then maybe put a little extra and said that this is possible, that we go on, says Asa Knaggård.

In 2004 the UN climate panel that carbon dioxide accounted for 76 percent of the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. Newly released UNEP report which showed that emissions other than carbon dioxide plant accounted for half of emissions, this is not an example of scientific uncertainty that politicians face.

A study of Swedish expert opinions and materials from government offices, it turns out that the scientific uncertainty on climate change highlighted and illustrated in a clear manner, but then something happens with the investigation material, the longer the political process progresses.

- The closer the parliament gets to an issue these uncertainties will be less visible -- they disappear, one can say.

Scientists may have an influence from the start when an issue arises but, according to Asa Knaggård no influence on the political decisions which should then be taken. Politicians consciously or unconsciously moving the focus from the scientific material.

- What has been important for the climate issue has evolved as a political problem, in most cases not been the scientific uncertainty but there have been other factors such as how it has fitted in, how the climate issue fitted into partisan politics. It may also be to the individuals who have served in important posts have seen on the climate issue, that is what they have had personal views on the climate issue, "says Asa Knaggård.



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


Friday, September 18, 2009


James H. Rust [] writes: "Herewith is an essay I have been thinking of writing for years because of the unprovoked name calling by climate alarmists:

Aryan Physics Revisited: A Comparison of 1930s German Physics and Global Warming Science Today

By James H. Rust, Professor of Nuclear Engineering (ret.)

For more than a quarter century controversy has embroiled the scientific community over whether carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas formed from burning fossil fuels, is causing increased global temperatures with catastrophic consequences. This is also called anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Many supporters of AGW are adamant in their views and refuse to acknowledge the existence of scientists or the science that refutes their views. Some advocates could be described as self-assured, arrogant, and using unflattering terms to describe those who disagree with them.

The possible threat of AGW spawned research funds from the United States government to study climate science. An excellent paper by Joanne Nova titled "Climate Money" traces the way money was spent from 1989 to 2008 in the amount of $79 billion. Research supporting AGW was able to generate more money; so the financing system fed upon itself. If initial research proved AGW did not exist, future funding would have ceased. Yet to be reported, the United States economic stimulus funds for 2009 will allocate billions of dollars spent in anticipation of AGW.

Advocates of AGW have had much media attention so many have become household names. Five names are Dr. John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology; Dr. James Hansen, Director of NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies; Nobel Prize Winner Al Gore, former United States Senator and Vice President; Nobel Prize Winner Paul Krugman; and journalist Ellen Goodman.

Doctor Holdren co-authored a book Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment in 1977 with Paul and Anne Ehrlich. This book describes means of population control of forced abortions, sterilizations, babies seized from single or teen mothers, etc. During Dr. Holdren's confirmation hearing before the United States Senate in 2009, it was pointed out he had predicted in 1986 one billions deaths due to AGW by 2020. The question today about Dr. Holdren's prediction is whether one hundred million will die annually for the next decade or will one billion die during 2019.

Dr. Hansen is a strong advocate for AGW testifying to this effect before the United States Senate in 1988. Recently, Dr. Hansen called for CEOs of fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for "high crimes against humanity and nature". He testified in the defense of six British conservationists who vandalized a new coal power plant under construction.

The attitudes of Nobel Prize Winner Al Gore are well summarized by an article by John Dendahl "Nobel Peace Laureate Al Gore is a Threat to Peace". Nobel Prize Winner Gore made the statement years ago "the science is settled" on AGW. MIT Professor Richard Lindzen wrote an article in the April 12, 2006 Wall Street Journal titled "Climate of Fear". In this article Prof. Lindzen wrote that Senator Gore in 1992 tried to bully dissenting scientists to agree with his climate alarmism. Later Vice President Gore tried to enlist Ted Koppel in a witch hunt to discredit anti-alarmist scientists.

Nobel Prize Winner Paul Krugman wrote in the June 29, 2009 New York Times his feeling about the June 26, 2009 debate on the Waxman-Markey Bill - "And as I watched the deniers make their argument, I couldn't help thinking that I was watching a form of treason-treason against the planet."

Journalist and AGW expert Ellen Goodman wrote "Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers."

To illustrate uncivil behavior by AGW advocates is not confined to the United States; a June 16, 2009 meeting between Australian Senator James Fielding, Australian government AGW proponents, and four independent climate scientists is reported by Dr. David Evans.

Senator Fielding and four independent climate scientists met with the Minister for Climate Change Peggy Wong, Chief Climate Scientist Penny Sackett and Professor Will Steffen to discuss current science on AGW. The government scientists were aloof, self-assured, and created an aura of intimidation. They made no eye contact or shook hands at the end of the meeting.

In another vein, President of the British Science Association, Lord Robert May of Oxford, addressed his association and said faith groups could lead in the policing of human behavior. In a plea to enforce climate change, Lord May said, "How better it is if the punisher is an all-powerful, all-seeing deity."

After WWI, a movement was started to promote accomplishments of German physicists which soon took on racial aspects because these accomplishments were restricted to Aryan or German physicists. Thousands joined this movement and notable members where Nobel Prize Winners Johannes Stark and Philipp Lenard. Naturally, Aryan Physics excluded the works of Jewish scientists; most famous being Albert Einstein.

Many physicists, including Stark and Lenard, joined and became active members of the National Socialist Party. This provided a perfect match with National Socialists views on race. They saw that the works of Jewish scientists were stricken from textbooks, papers could not be published in scientific journals, research funds denied, and finally by the mid 1930s, employment with universities or research institutions terminated. Jewish science was ignored. Supporters of Aryan Physics could be described as self-assured, arrogant, and using unflattering names to describe Jewish scientists. This author strongly states this essay does not imply any connection of advocates for Aryan Physics to the atrocities committed by advocates of National Socialism.

Finally Aryan Physics fell apart because it was recognized that the Secrets of the Universe could not be unlocked without use of Einstein's Theories. For the record, Nobel Prize Winner Stark was jailed for four years after WWII.

A link between National Socialism and Conservatism movements was reported by German historian Uekoetter's The Green and the Brown: a History of Conservation in Nazi Germany published by Cambridge Press in 2006. A detailed review of this book was written by William Walter Kay. Conservation movements started in Germany in the late nineteenth century and found easy mixing with National Socialism with their members having memberships in their local groups and the National Socialist Party. Millions of trees were planted in the name of Adolf Hitler.

The behavior of many AGW advocates is remarkably similar to that of supporters of Aryan Physics in 1930s Germany. They ignore entreaties of scientists who disagree with them. They attempt to stifle publications of research papers, obstruct funds for research that challenges AGW, and refuse public debate on the science of AGW.

It is ironic that scientists who question AGW are placed in a similar position as Jewish scientists in 1930s Germany. Their fate is most certainly not as grim. Labelling those who question AGW as deniers implying they deny the Holocaust is immoral.

The mixing of science with forces (such as politics, religion, or advocacy groups) contrary to scientific principles of postulating theories and then using observations to prove or disprove theories have been around since the birth of human thought. Noteworthy is Galileo Galilei being found vehemently suspect of heresy and forced to recant his belief the sun was the center of the solar system instead of the earth in 1634. This setback may have slowed development of astronomy; but did not seriously alter world's history.

Germany's experience with Aryan Physics may have cost them, and indirectly Japan, greater harm from WWII. Without Jewish physicists, the Germans were years away from developing an atomic bomb. The scientists who fled Europe in the 1930s insured the United States would successfully develop an atomic bomb in time to force a conclusion to WWII.

Subscribing to AGW may produce a large global impact if nations decide to alter means of energy production because of a perceived belief in catastrophic events due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide. The proposal to reduce the world's production of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels in 2050 to fifty percent of the level of 1990 will have negligible impact on global warming or any other climate change. Great economic damage will be done to the earth's inhabitants with energy shortages and vastly higher energy costs. Undeveloped nations will be doomed to maintaining the same lifestyles as years in the past. All will suffer except those who trade in energy credits and produce alternative energy sources.

Much has been written about the science of climate change and the influence of carbon dioxide. A recent 2009 book Climate Change Reconsidered--The Report of the Nongovernmental Panel on Climate Change contains numerous references as current as 2009. The futility of trying to restructure the United States energy production from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources by 2050 is well described by Donn Dears in his 2009 book Carbon Folly.

A vast amount of material is available to support the thesis of a similarity between militant advocates of Aryan Physics and AGW. Internet reference were given for this essay and those willing to check these references and use available links can have months of reading.

Arctic ice melt third-largest on record

I suppose I should say something about the nonsense below. Assuming that the figures given are accurate and not "massaged" (which is by no means certain given chronic Warmist secrecy about their raw data), how does the report jibe with the COOLING in central Greenland? Easy. Central Greenland is on land. The report below concerns floating ice. And it is known that ocean currents and sub-surface vulcanism affect sea-ice extent. So it is clearly influences such as those which are at work in the data below: NOT "global warming". The fact that there has in fact been no global warming for the last 10 years renders that conclusion a certainty. NOTE: The subarctic Gakkel ridge mapped below is the most active volcanic region known on earth. You'd melt if you had a volcano under you too -- JR

The Arctic's sea ice pack thawed to its third-lowest summer level on record, continuing an overall decline symptomatic of climate change, US scientists said. The melt was up slightly from the seasonal melt of the past two years, but still some 20 per cent below the minmum cover for the Arctic summer since satellites began measuring it in 1979.

The range of ocean remaining frozen over the northern polar region reached its minimum extent for 2009 on September 12, when it covered 5.1 million square km, and now appeared to be growing again as the Arctic starts its annual cool-down, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported. That level was 24 per cent less than the 1979-2000 average, the Colorado-based government agency said.

This summer's minimum represented a loss about about two-thirds of the sea ice measured at the height of Arctic winter in March. By comparison, the Arctic ice shelf typically shrank by a little more than half each summer during the 1980s and 1990s, ice scientist Walt Meier said. The lowest point on record was reached in September 2007 and the 2009 minimum ranks as the third-smallest behind last year's level.

But scientists said they do not consider the slight upward fluctuation again this summer to be a recovery. The difference was attributed to relatively cooler temperatures this summer compared with the two previous years. Winds also tended to disperse the ice pack over a larger region, scientists said. "The long-term decline in summer extent is expected to continue in future years," the report said.

Scientists regard the Arctic and its sea ice as among the most sensitive barometers of global warming because even small temperature changes made a huge difference. "If you go from a degree below freezing to two degrees above freezing, that's a completely different environment in the polar region," Mr Meier said. "You're going from ice skating to swimming. Whereas if you're on a tropical beach and it's three degrees warmer, you probably wouldn't even notice it."

World leaders will meet at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday to discuss a climate treaty due to be agreed on in December.



The global warming narrative - that mankind's addiction to burning fossil fuels is rapidly changing the climate - may be about to go seriously off message.

Far from suggesting the planet will get warmer, one of the world's leading climate modellers says the latest data indicates we could be in for a significant period of steady temperatures and possibly even a little global cooling.

Professor Mojib Latif, from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University in Germany, has been looking at the influence of cyclical changes to ocean currents and temperatures in the Atlantic, a feature known as the North Atlantic Oscillation. When he factored these natural fluctuations into his global climate model, professor Latif found the results would bring the remorseless rise in average global temperatures to an abrupt halt. "The strong warming effect that we experienced during the last decades will be interrupted. Temperatures will be more or less steady for some years, and thereafter will pickup again and continue to warm".

With apologies to Al Gore, professor Latif's finding is something of an "inconvenient truth" for the global warming debate. And the timing couldn't be much worse. World leaders are due to meet in Copenhagen in December to hammer out an agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions to replace the Kyoto Treaty. It certainly won't help if there are a couple of inches of snow on the ground outside the convention centre, and climate models are predicting a sustained period of steady, or even falling, global temperatures.

Professor Philip Stott believes climate sceptics may seize on the research as evidence that the whole global warming hypothesis is fundamentally flawed: If natural cycles can interrupt, or even reverse climate change, maybe we don't need to take it so seriously.

It's not a view shared by professor Latif, who points to the resumption of warming as the cycle completes itself in a few years. The best we can hope for, he says, is a brief respite from global warming.

But the complex message professor Latif's research confronts us with, points up another issue debated on the programme this morning: The thorny issue of the media's handling of science.

The Science Minister Lord Drayson sparked a row when he claimed that the coverage of scientific issues was in rude health at the World Conference of Science journalists. Ben Goldacre, the author of "Bad Science" took exception, arguing that most editors were only interested in revolutionary cures for cancer, or whether coffee made you fat. After a heated exchange in the blogosphere the two have agreed to debate the issues at the Royal Institution tonight.


Comment from Benny Peiser: "This is fair and balanced BBC report about a controversial climate change issue. It's nothing sensational because it's elementary journalism - written in a format that good science journalism should approach whenever there are reasonable scientific conflicts and debates. Why then are we pleasantly surprised whenever we witness such rare occasions of BBC fairness and balance? Makes you wonder what's wrong with today's environmental and science journalism, doesn't it?"


The world is "doomed to experience some global warming, and countries must prepare for those changes," warns an international expert, looking at upcoming global climate treaty meetings. In the current Nature, David Victor of the University of California, San Diego, calls for abandoning hopes for a global treaty on climate change in Copenhagen in December, arguing that the 192 nations involved cannot get their act together by then.

Instead, he suggests the major nations releasing greenhouse gasses, particularly China and the United States, cut their own separate deals to save time. "Copenhagen, at best, is a starting point for the most influential nations to make ambitious commitments," he says. "Luckily, just a dozen countries account for nearly all warming emissions."

In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projected a roughly 3-to-7-degree Fahrenheit increase in average global temperatures by 2100, largely due to greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide, are produced by burning fossil fuels including coal and oil. Man-made greenhouse gas emissions add to a natural background that creates a "greenhouse effect" in the air, because they are transparent to sunlight but trap heat. Sea level rise, drought and costly changes over farming regions are among the dangers seen from the warming. The Copenhagen meeting looks to craft a global treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol of the 1990's for limiting greenhouse gas emissions, never agreed to by the U.S.

Instead of looking to past environmental agreements such as the Montreal Protocol that limited damage to the ozone layers of the upper atmosphere, or stalled trade agreements, nations should model climate plans on "pledge and review" agreements similar to direct arms control talks between nations, Victor argues. "They should junk the toolbox of environmental diplomacy and recognize global warming for the problem of economic cooperation that it is. Success hinges on more credible and ambitious commitments by a smaller number of countries."



India will set its own targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but will resist legally binding demands imposed from outside, a minister told a newspaper published Thursday. "We are already taking a number of actions that will result in significant reductions of our greenhouse gas emissions," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh told the Indian Express. "We are in a position to quantify these reductions into a broadly indicative number that can be shared with the rest of the world. I see no problem with that," Ramesh said.

He admitted his statement signaled a shift in India's climate change strategy -- before the crucial December 7-18 talks in Copenhagen, under the 192-nation UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). "Yes, there is a nuanced shift. But this shift is not in our negotiating stand. The stand remains the same. We are not going to accept any legally binding commitments on carbon emissions," Ramesh added.

India and other developing countries such as China believe rich countries should shoulder the main responsibility for mitigating global warming as they have emitted most of the greenhouse gases at the root of the problem. India has repeatedly resisted legally binding cuts arguing that it would hit its economic growth required to lift millions of its billion-plus population from poverty.

India's per capita output is one of the lowest globally as much of the country is without power, but it is still in volume terms among the top five carbon emitters in the world.

The Copenhagen meeting aims to craft a post-2012 pact for curbing the heat-trapping gases that drive global warming.



Don't expect China to keep global warming below 2C, a senior government adviser warned in Beijing today at the launch of an influential report on the nation's prospects for low-carbon growth.

Even in a best-case scenario with massive investment in solar energy and carbon capture technology, Dai Yande, deputy chief of the Energy Research Institute, said China's emissions were unlikely to fall low enough to remain below the temperature goal recommended by the G8 and European Union.

His prediction will alarm those governments and scientists who warn that a rise more than 2C risks disastrous consequences in terms of food security, migration, sea-level rises and extreme weather events. "You should not target China to fulfill the two degree target. That is just a vision. Reality has deviated from that vision," said Dai. "We do not think that target provides room for developing countries." China argues that its priority must be economic growth to relieve poverty among its vast population.

Dai - whose think tank works under the government's powerful National Development and Reform Commission - blamed rich nations for excessive consumption and for failing to reach the targets set at Kyoto. "Twenty percent of the world's population takes 80% of wealth and emits 70% of greenhouse gases," he said. "I think two degrees is a vision that is difficult to fulfill because few countries have reached Kyoto protocol targets, except the UK and some others in the EU."

Dai stressed that his comments are not official government policy, but they are consistent with a hardening of positions ahead of the Copenhagen climate change summit in December.



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


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Greenland 'could melt faster than thought'

This panic below is rather amusing in the light of my leading post of two days ago (Showing that Greenland is cooling). Greenland certainly COULD do various things but whether it is and whether it will are the questions

The Greenland icesheet responded to global warming over the past 10,000 years more quickly than thought, according to a study. As a result, a medium-sized temperature increase this century could cause the continent-sized ice block to start melting at an alarming rate, it suggests. "It is entirely possible that a future temperature increase of a few degrees Celsius in Greenland will result in a icesheet mass loss and contribution to sea level rise larger than previously projected," it warns.

Greenland contains enough water to raise sea levels by about seven metres. Even a far more modest increase would put major coastal cities under water and force hundreds of millions of people out of their homes.

Until recently, experts were confident that the planet's two icesheets - in Greenland and Antarctica - would remain largely stable over the coming centuries despite global warming. But more recent studies have cast doubt on this, showing the pace at which glaciers are sliding off from both icesheets into the oceans has picked up over recent decades.

The new paper, published in the British journal Nature, uses a new technique for measuring changes in the icesheet over the last 10,000 years that resolves a paradox. Earlier measurements suggested that parts of Greenland had somehow defied a trend of general warming in the northern hemisphere during a 3000-year period that started some 9000 years ago.

The new research, led by Bo Vinther of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, demonstrates that the problem lay with how the the raw data had been interpreted. The team examined core samples taken from four locations from the icesheet, which reaches depths of more than three kilometres. As with earlier studies, the results were inconsistent.

But with the help of two new samples taken from two areas just beyond the icesheet, the researchers were able to determine that the variations were due to changes in height, not because of inconsistent warming. "The elevation itself causes different temperatures," Mr Vinther said. As a consequence, the icesheet responded more uniformly - and more vigorously - to rising temperatures during this period.



By Pierre Jutras, Department of Geology, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, NS, Canada


It is generally assumed that the current trend of global warming is detrimental to humanity and ecosystems in general. However, the geological record clearly indicates that the global ecosystem thrives during greenhouse ages and declines during ice ages, such as the one that we are presently experiencing. These observations on the long-term geological record are never part of the debate on global warming, which is usually constrained to the last few hundred years, or thousands of years at best.

Clearly, this does not bring enough perspective, as we have to go back 35 million years to get out of the current ice age, which started with the birth of an ice sheet on Antarctica. Since then, ecosystems have been experiencing tremendous stress due to the gradual deterioration of global climate. The current trend of global warming is but a small notch in a large scale trend of global cooling that started over 100 million years ago. Prior to then, in Early Cretaceous times, the carbon dioxide levels of the atmosphere were more than six times those of today, allowing life to flourish more than it had ever done since the early Paleozoic (i.e., since the previous greenhouse age).

The current long-term cooling trend is caused by several orogenic events, which increase the erosional rates of calcium and magnesium from the crust to the oceans, and which therefore promote the long-term storage of carbon into carbonate rocks. Most of these orogenic events are still going on today (Himalayas, Alps, Rockies, Andes, etc.), and the current ice age is therefore destined to keep aggravating. unless we release a sufficient amount of the atmospheric carbon that is presently locked in fossil fuels.

From paper 106 presented at the International Conference on Climate Change, 2007, Hong Kong. Full article here. So if we make full use of what we know about the past, we find that CO2 is in fact the hero of climate change, not the problem -- JR


The goal for the climate conference in Copenhagen is to reach a deal that can actually be implemented, rather than agreeing on binding high targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday in Vienna. The United Nations' International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is calling for countries to make firm commitments to reduce emissions that cause global warming by 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels. "Let's not make that one particular time the be-all and end-all, and if it doesn't happen, oh, we are doomed," Chu told reporters in Vienna, where he was attending the International Atomic Energy Agency's annual general conference.

If one defined success at Copenhagen only in terms of reaching a 30- to 40-per cent reduction in carbon emissions until 2020 and legally binding agreements from developing countries to cap their emissions, Chu said, "I think you may be teeing it up for disappointment."

In the lead-up to the Copenhagen conference, industrialized nations have not been to agree with China, India and developing countries over binding targets and how to shoulder the costs of addressing climate change.

But Chu said he hoped for the "most aggressive, best agreements given the political realities that all these countries face." At a minimum, any deal should cap of carbon emission and not "safety valves" in an agreement, he said. Chu noted that many countries that signed up to the Kyoto treaty did not comply with its goals. "One has to really look at how to really get there," he added.

The US never ratified the Kyoto treaty, in part because the pact demanded no emissions reductions from emerging economies like China and India.

The US aims to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases by 17 per cent by 2020 and more than 80 per cent by 2050, while the European Union has set itself a target of cutting by 20 per cent until 2020.



Officials at the Treasury Department think cap-and-trade legislation would cost taxpayers hundreds of billion in taxes, according to internal documents circulated within the agency and provided to The Washington Times.

These estimates were made in Treasury memos, obtained by the Competitive Enterprise Institute through a Freedom of Information Act request that sought information related to proposals originated by Treasury involving "cap-and-trade schemes" that deal with "carbon," "carbon dioxide" or "greenhouse gases." The memos were given to The Times by CEI.

The House narrowly passed cap-and-trade legislation earlier this year, and now the Senate stands poised to take up its version of the bill at any time, although it has been largely overshadowed by health care reform efforts. The ultimate cost of the bill to taxpayers has been the subject of fierce debate between supporters and opponents of the legislation. CEI, a free-market think tank that opposes the bill, thinks the Treasury documents prove the legislation would pose a significant burden to the economy.

A memo prepared by Judson Jaffe, who works in the Treasury's Office of Environment and Energy, referenced President Obama's remarks on energy policy in his State of the Union Address and said, given the president's plan to auction emissions allowances, "a cap-and-trade program could generate federal receipts on the order of $100 to $200 billion annually."

These figures differ from other cost estimates for the legislation produced more recently by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.



First of all: French people are against it! Two recent polls point out that a large majority are dissatisfied: According to IFOP Institute, which questioned 1011 persons on 3 and 4 September, 65% are against a carbon tax while 34% approve [see Paris-Match weekly magazine].

The French Consumers Union "UFC", a very powerful consumers lobby, after having ordered a survey from the CSA polling institute, wrote in UFC's review "Que Choisir" that 74% are rejecting a carbon tax. The main reasons are:

* The carbon tax is unfair because it hurts people who must drive a car to go to work and who have no alternative choice; it also hurts those who live far away from a city and those who have fuel or gas heating.

* The carbon tax hurts the poor who cannot afford changing their fuel or gas heating equipment.

* The carbon tax will have no effect on climate change.

* There are too many taxes in France; the government must spend less money, and not increase taxation.

Both surveys show that roughly the same proportion of right-wing and left-wing voters disapprove of a carbon tax.

What are politicians saying about Sarkozy's carbon tax?

Sarkozy's party "UMP" is supporting the president, but they worry about voters' opinion! Thus, they support the idea but without much enthusiasm. Other parties are against - even the Socialist Party who formerly advocated taxation of CO2. The centre "MODEM" of François Bayrou is saying that the tax is unfair and inefficient, since many people have no alternative to driving cars and only richer people can invest in clean energy heating. While many socialists argue that the tax should be even tougher and that electricity should be taxed too, their former party leader, Segolene Royal, is against the tax: Oil companies like Total should be taxed, not people. Some journalists claim that she is too populist!

A few members of the UMP, the majority party, are hesitating or even against the decision of the French President. For instance, deputy Lionel Luca said that "the tax was a wrong good idea"!

And the Greens are furious! Green Deputy Cecile Duflot is angry: "This tax is NOTHING! No political bravery whatsoever." Along the same lines Dominique Voynet: "There is an abyss between words and acts! The tax is too small and does not concern electricity. Big firms will not pay since they get free carbon credits from the EU cap and trade scheme. Greenpeace, too, is angry: "The tax has shrunk to almost nothing. Behaviors will not change. The right carbon tax rate we suggest: 32 euros today, 100 euros in 2030 and 300 euros in 2050!"

Le Figaro quotes Nicolas Sarkozy speaking to his supporters: "Je vous le dis, mes amis, le choix d'une fiscalité écologique est un choix historique" et politiquement, il permettra d'attirer vers la majorité des voix écologistes, a-t-il souligné avant de lancer : "il faut éviter un front écolos, gauche, extrême gauche, Bayrou". ("I tell you, friends, our decision on eco taxation is a historic decision." He pointed out that from a political perspective that this will allow the majority [government] to attract green votes and warned: "We must avoid a coalition of eco-freaks, the left, the extreme left and Bayrou").

In my opinion this is not the way France should be governed. This is junk politics!

More HERE. See also "Changement climatique: des politiques fondées sur de la pseudoscience" here.


European farmers must slash agricultural greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020, primarily by producing biomass and storing carbon in the soil, but they risk ruin without outside help, EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel said yesterday (15 September).

European agriculture emissions have already fallen by 20% since 1990 due in part to there being fewer cattle and also to better technology and farm management. But the heat is on to find other ways to reduce emissions, ahead of a major global climate summit in Copenhagen in December and to meet tough goals already set for the next decade.

Mariann Fischer Boel, the EU agriculture commissioner, said on Tuesday (15 September) that the farm sector should cut emissions of methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide. "It [the sector] can do more to store carbon in farmland soils," she told European agriculture ministers at a meeting in southern Sweden, in a speech seen by journalists.

Farmers can also fight emissions by supplying more biomass to produce energy and renewable materials, she said. However, Fischer Boel said farmers would need support to make the changes needed to reduce emissions. "We can't just leave them to sink or swim: many of them would sink, with disastrous consequences for our food production base and our environment," she said.


A vain search for overseas examples of successful wind power

Uh oh. First President Obama pointed to Spain and Germany as models for how the U.S. could create a robust "green jobs" economy that even would lift us out of our current - an increasingly approriate term - malaise.

Confronted by meddling academics who analyzed the Spanish situation and laid out the monitory lesson of its green-jobs regime, the White House quickly pivoted and said, uh, look to Denmark and Germany, yeah, that's it, Denmark.

OK. That's been done - by the establishment think tank CEPOS, and you can read it here. The answer is that the president's (repeat) claim that "Denmark produces almost 20 percent of their electricity through wind power" is false. Denmark actually produces much less of its own electricity from wind, as low as 4 percent depending on the year, with the recent average of 9.7 percent. This despite a massive buildout of what they flatteringly call the "wind carpet," on some of the most hospitable terrain for wind power in the world.

It is also in return for its households paying the highest eletricity rates in Europe. With a substantially lower per-capita energy use. That means, to get half of what Obama seeks, the U.S. would have to carpet itself twice over - which means lots of windmills where birds fly and Kennedys live - and pay Danish-style rates.

Oh. Wait. That still won't do it. Apparently Denmark's experience isn't even scalable to Scanadanavia. It turns out that, if the Norwegians and Swedes tried to replicate Denmark's expensive folly, well, it would blow the system up. Here's why. Denmark took advantage of long-since-paid-for interconnectors between Jutland and Norway, and the island on which Copenhagen sits and Sweden. It made a political decision that windmills would be their "national champion" industry, and as you will hear to no end throughout the Copenhagen COP, a big part of their national identity. So they built a lot of windmills, and started a mythology.

This buildout was only possible because the Norwegians and Swedes use enormous percentages of hydropower and nuclear, both of which can be dialed up or down according to the whimsy of the wind. When the wind does deign to blow, Denmark sends fully half of its very expensive, ratepayer subsidized wind power to its neighbors at cut rates, in return for said neighbors indulging Denmark's wind mill image-making by dialing up or down its hydro power or nukes at other times (which, most of the time, means "up").

When the wind picks up, the story gets worse. On top of subsidizing their neighbors' electricity and allowing them to go without building more of their own, it turns out that increases in wind generation, under the current buildout, are shipped nearly 100 percent and at a considerable below-cost discount right out of the country. With its politicians now vowing to massively increase installed wind ("50 percent of our elecricity" - how about getting to 20 percent first?), that means Denmark will be sending even more domestic wealth to its neighbors.

Because it is displacing carbon-neutral electricity - as a condition precedent even to deploying the machines, mind you, so this is not something that can be changed - you can kiss claims to massive CO2 reductions (or reduced fuel use) goodbye.

When it comes to Obama's claim that Denmark, not discredited Spain, is the model to follow: waiter, the food was horrible, and the portions too small. You can't replicate Denmark's model - and its a good thing, too.

Although, I'm informed that the Danish wind industry admitted the problems to the media this morning before muttering about needing further (ratepayer) investment, expect the American wind power industry to spin wildly in coming days. Which, incidentally, is more than we can say about their products.



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


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Climate change 'could kill 4.5 million children' (?)

Another work of unrestrained imagination by a do-gooder group below. The truth is opposite to what they say. Cold weather is much more likely to kill you than hot weather is. A warmer climate would SAVE lives

AT least 4.5 million children could die if wealthy nations fail to provide more funds to help impoverished countries combat global warming, development charity Oxfam has warned. The organisation said in a report it was concerned that industrialised nations would take money out of existing funds dedicated to economic development in order to help poor countries battle climate change.

World leaders will meet in Denmark in December to negotiate a new climate pact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. Funds to help the world's poorest nations develop an environmentally-friendly economy and adapt to the consequences of global warming are major issues to be negotiated in the Danish capital December 7-18.

In a report titled Beyond Aid, Oxfam warned that 75 million fewer children were likely to go to school and 8.6 million less people would have access to AIDS treatment if aid was diverted to the fight against climate change.

The report was released ahead of a summit in New York on September 22 aimed at preparing for the Copenhagen meeting. "Forcing poor countries to choose between life-saving drugs for the sick, schooling for their children or the means to protect themselves against climate change is an unfair burden that will only exacerbate poverty,'' chief executive of Oxfam Great Britain Barbara Stocking said. "Stealing money from tomorrow's schools and hospitals to help poor people adapt to climate change is neither a moral nor effective way of rich countries paying their climate debt. "Funds must be increased, not diverted.''.


Warmist delusions getting worse

They seem to think that if you shriek loudly enough, people will believe them. More likely to have the opposite effect in my view. But the stuff below is full of "ifs" anyway. I could do some pretty good "if"-case predictions myself if I wanted to. Let me try one: If scientists stuck to the known facts, there would be no global warming scare. That "if" is roughly as likely to come about as the stuff below -- even though it should not be an "if" at all

Deadly tsunamis like those that have hit Asia may be heading to Britain. From tsunamis in Britain to huge avalanches in the Alps and volcanic eruptions in Germany, some of the world's top geologists are warning these potential natural catastrophes could become reality, if global temperatures continue to rise. ["Continue"?? They stopped rising in 1998]

At a three-day conference starting today at University College London (UCL), scientists will show how alterations in the earth's crust could trigger unexpected events. They say evidence from the past reveals that times of dramatic climatic change are characterised by heightened geological activity. For example, 10,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age, melting ice and rising sea levels triggered a significant rise in volcanic activity.

Professor Bill McGuire, Director of the Benfield Hazard Research Centre at UCL warned earth's future could be explosive. He told Sky News Online: "Climate change is very doom and gloom I'm afraid and it's one of those problems that the closer we look at it the worst it seems to get. "If you want some faint glint of good news from this I suppose that if we see a big volcanic response, the gases pumped into the atmosphere will cool things down at least temporarily, but that's not recommended. "We need to be cutting emissions, not waiting for all the volcanoes on the planet to erupt."

As the Arctic ice melts, geologists are particularly concerned that the planet's deposits of methane - a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide - are stored underneath the permafrost. As the ice melts, a build-up of methane hydrates in the atmosphere would accelerate the process of climate change.

Droughts may hit too. Other experts warn that disintegrating glaciers could cause earthquakes, triggering tsunamis off Chile, New Zealand and Canada, perhaps even sending one across the Atlantic capable of reaching British shores. Professor David Tappin of the British Geological Survey said: "If the temperatures warm and the oceans warm then the hydrates at the sea bed will melt. "They will melt catastrophically and in so doing they'll be forced into the atmosphere but also, they will create submarine landslides which could trigger a tsunami."

The geological conference is the latest in a series of scientific gatherings organised in the run up to the UN's climate change conference in Copenhagen in December. More evidence, many climate experts now believe, for the international community to reach a strong global emissions reduction agreement sooner rather than later.


Another derisive comment on the fraudulent "re-opening" of the Northeast passage

One of Russia's commercial maritime trade routes for the past 70 years has been "re-opened" by a press hungry for dramatic Global Warming scare stories - but who failed to check the most basic facts.

I've traced this fascinating example of "eco-churnalism" - peddled by both BBC Radio and its website, the Daily Mail, The Independent, Reuters and many others - back to its origins, with a press release from a German shipping group. But first of all - what on Earth is the Northern Passage?

Also called the Northeast Passage or North Sea Passage, it's a trade route that in summer months links the North European and Siberian ports to Asia, around the Arctic Circle. Orient-bound traffic heads east, then South via the Bering Straight. Much of the Siberian North coast lies outside the Arctic Circle, and the route offered significant gains over the alternatives via Suez or the Cape. But until technological advances in the early 20th Century it was considered too hazardous for commercial operation.

Since the 1930s the route has seen major ports spring up, carrying over 200,000 tons of freight passing through each year, although this declined with the fall of the Soviet Union.

But none of this ever happened, we learned on Saturday. The Independent reported that the journey had been traversed for the very first time, proclaiming that two German ships had completed "the first commercial navigation of the fabled North-east Passage", proclaiming it "a triumph for man, a disaster for mankind". BBC Radio followed suit. Others have followed the BBC.

It didn't take long to trace the origin of the story. On Wednesday, German shipping group Beluga claimed "the first non-Russian commercial vessels to make it through the Northeast Passage from Asia to Europe". You can still read their press release, here. Journalists failed to challenge Beluga's claim that the Northeastern Passage was "formerly impenetrable", but bloggers had debunked it within seconds. (See An Englishman's Castle here - and Richard D North's EU Referendum blog here and here.)

North unearthed a fascinating account of the past 80 years of this sea route (pdf, 17pg) by a retired mariner Jan Drent, who made the Europe to Asia Northeast Passage himself. Drent writes that the Soviet Union offered to open the route to global commerce in 1967, but with war in the Middle East closing the Suez, Russia didn't want to offend its Arab allies.

In their haste to bring us Thermageddon, journalists now simply manufacture the evidence. But wasn't the recent warming period - which started began in the mid-1970s and with temperatures peaking in the late-1990s - a contributory factor? Arctic Ice has recovered the past couple of years, but it's still down on 30 years ago.

As it happens, the thaw has helped, but isn't the primary reason, according to maritime historians. "In the past ten years voyages between the northern coast and Japan and Canada have demonstrated how modern ice-strengthened vessels and contemporary ice forecasting have extended the navigation season."

Ignore all that, however. If the BBC is to remain trusted, we can only conclude that these are phantom ships, failing to penetrate a previously impenetrable trade route, dropping off phantom cargo at phantom port towns.

More HERE (See the original for links)

Wise after the event

Warmists have just found that their models can be made to fit current climate events -- even if no model ever predicted what has been happening in the last 10 years. One wonders what else they will find in their models. I think it shows that you can get anything you like out of models -- except accurate predictions. If it was in the models all along, how come nobody predicted it? Note that small changes in the model assumptions -- say a reversal of the dubious assumptions about clouds -- would cause the models to predict global cooling. The latest attempt to wriggle out of the non-existent predictive skill of the models below

Do global temperature trends over the last decade falsify climate predictions?

By J. Knight, J. J. Kennedy, C. Folland, G. Harris, G. S. Jones, M. Palmer, D. Parker, A. Scaife, and P. Stott

Observations indicate that global temperature rise has slowed in the last decade (Fig. 2.8a). The least squares trend for January 1999 to December 2008 calculated from the HadCRUT3 dataset (Brohan et al. 2006) is +0.07±0.07°C decade–1—much less than the 0.18°C decade–1 recorded between 1979 and 2005 and the 0.2°C decade–1 expected in the next decade (IPCC; Solomon et al. 2007). This is despite a steady increase in radiative forcing as a result of human activities and has led some to question climate predictions of substantial twenty-first century warming (Lawson 2008; Carter 2008).

El Niño–Southern Oscillation is a strong driver of interannual global mean temperature variations. ENSO and non-ENSO contributions can be separated by the method of Thompson et al. (2008) (Fig. 2.8a). The trend in the ENSO-related component for 1999–2008 is +0.08±0.07°C decade–1, fully accounting for the overall observed trend. The trend after removing ENSO (the "ENSO-adjusted" trend) is 0.00°±0.05°C decade–1, implying much greater disagreement with anticipated global temperature rise.

We can place this apparent lack of warming in the context of natural climate fluctuations other than ENSO using twenty-first century simulations with the HadCM3 climate model (Gordon et al. 2000), which is typical of those used in the recent IPCC report (AR4; Solomon et al. 2007). Ensembles with different modifications to the physical parameters of the model (within known uncertainties) (Collins et al. 2006) are performed for several of the IPCC SRES emissions scenarios (Solomon et al. 2007). Ten of these simulations have a steady long-term rate of warming between 0.15° and 0.25ºC decade–1, close to the expected rate of 0.2ºC decade–1. ENSO-adjusted warming in the three surface temperature datasets over the last 2–25 yr continually lies within the 90% range of all similar-length ENSO-adjusted temperature changes in these simulations (Fig. 2.8b). Near-zero and even negative trends are common for intervals of a decade or less in the simulations, due to the model’s internal climate variability. The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.

The 10 model simulations (a total of 700 years of simulation) possess 17 nonoverlapping decades with trends in ENSO-adjusted global mean temperature within the uncertainty range of the observed 1999–2008 trend (−0.05° to 0.05°C decade–1). Over most of the globe, local surface temperature trends for 1999–2008 are statistically consistent with those in the 17 simulated decades (Fig. 2.8c). Field significance (Livezey and Chen 1983) is assessed by comparing the total area of inconsistent grid boxes with the range of similar area values derived by testing the consistency of trends in each simulated decade with those in the remaining simulated decades. The 5.5% of the data area that is inconsistent in the observed case is close to the median of this range of area values, indicating the differences are not field significant. Inconsistent trends in the midlatitude Southern Hemisphere strongly resemble the surface temperature pattern of the negative phase of the SAM (Ciasto and Thompson 2008), which did indeed show a negative trend in the last decade.

These results show that climate models possess internal mechanisms of variability capable of reproducing the current slowdown in global temperature rise. Other factors, such as data biases and the effect of the solar cycle (Haigh 2003), may also have contributed, although these results show that it is not essential to invoke these explanations. The simulations also produce an average increase of 2.0°C in twenty-first century global temperature, demonstrating that recent observational trends are not sufficient to discount predictions of substantial climate change and its significant and widespread impacts.

Given the likelihood that internal variability contributed to the slowing of global temperature rise in the last decade, we expect that warming will resume in the next few years, consistent with predictions from near-term climate forecasts (Smith et al. 2007; Haines et al. 2009). Improvements in such forecasts will give greater forewarning of future instances of temporary slowing and acceleration of global temperature rise, as predicted to occur in IPCC AR4 projections (Easterling and Wehner 2009).

SOURCE (Above is extracted from a PDF so there may be minor errors. See the original for graphics)

Self-censorship of climate skepticism in the Finnish media

An email from Hannu Tanskanen []. With a few grammatical corrections. See his blog here (in a mixture of Finnish and English)

Finland has always been described as "model pupil" in the European Union. Not long ago the EU tried to issue a "directive" prohibiting critisism of "climate change", fortunately without success. But Finland, more papal than Pope himself, has applied this rule for a long time already.

In 2007 our Centre Party prime minister declared, that "it is time for the climate critics to shut their mouths". Consequences of this statement were soon obvious. Since 1989 and regularly between 2003-2008, I had been a free-lance science writer in Scandinavia's biggest popular technology publication TM Tekniikan Maailma -- and where just recently I wrote a large article on climate change, where I Iet two leading critical scientists express their opinions.

The editor in chief of TM changed in that same year and he fired me immediately without any explanation. Also the leading daily newspaper, HS Helsingin Sanomat, where I have had articles on science pages since 2003 refused to take any more of my articles. They even refused to publish my opinion on their readers' pages. Orwelliania was in 1984, but in the Finnish media it is in 2009 !

Another Greenie false prophet shown up for what he is

Tim Flannery must be running a close second to Paul Ehrlich by now. See the graphic first below about Perth's "declining" water supplies and after that a current picture of the Mundaring Weir in the Perth area (The difference between a weir and a dam is that water does not flow over a dam). Dam and weir levels are up in most of Australia at the moment. Fuller version of the first graphic here. The article has gone offline at its original source, "The West Australian" newspaper (originally June 25, 2004) but some pesky people keep copies of things. Tim should stick to fossils. He knows something about them.

A LONG spell of winter rain in Perth's catchment areas has lifted the city's dams to their highest level in almost a decade. Water Corporation spokesman Phil Kneebone today said the West Australian Government's winter sprinkler ban and consistent winter rainfall had helped fill dams to more than 49 per cent capacity. This compares with levels around 30 per cent before the seasonal winter rains arrived in June.

The Bureau of Meteorology said Perth and its surrounds had recorded rain on all but one day this month - the longest recorded stretch of daily September rainfall since 1915. However, this year's total rainfall of 536.8mm is still well below the city's average of 766mm to the end of September. A weather bureau spokesman said much heavier falls had been received in the catchment areas of the Perth hills and Mr Kneebone said he expected dams to rise above their current volume of 195.7 billion litres.

"I expect they will reach more than 50 per cent capacity by the end of the week," Mr Kneebone said. "It is easily the most water we have had in the dams, in any year, since 2000."

Mr Kneebone said the daily water consumption over the past week was down 16 per cent from this time last year. He said the sprinkler ban had directly contributed to a saving of 50 million litres of water a day, enough to fill about 22 Olympic swimming pools. "We currently have enough to get through an extra 50 hot summer days," he said. "It's great to see the community showing restraint with water use. "We will be able to give our biggest ground water source, the Gnangara Mound, a rest, which is also good news."



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


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Melting" Greenland

You would be hard put to keep track of all the "scientific" announcements about the Greenland icecap melting. Yet below is the temperature chart for central Greenland in recent years. Greenland sure is cooling, whether or not the earth as a whole is. Melting, my foot. Truth is the first casualty of Leftism

The graph is from the Wolfram Alpha scientific database. To see the graph there for yourself, see the "history & forecast" section, where it displays "Current Week," and from the dropdown selections it gives, click on "All." That will display a graph of average temps from 1983 to 2008

Beliefs About the Environment Ruled as Equivalent to Religious Beliefs

A British tribunal has ruled that employers must treat strongly held views on climate change practices the same as they would religious beliefs

Senior executive Tim Nicholson claimed he was unfairly dismissed by a property investment company because his views on the environment conflicted with other managers’ “contempt for the need to cut carbon emissions”.

In the first case of its kind, an employment tribunal decided that Nicholson, 41, had views amounting to a “philosophical belief in climate change”, allowing him the same legal protection against discrimination as religious beliefs.....

“[My belief] affects how I live my life including my choice of home, how I travel, what I buy, what I eat and drink, what I do with my waste, and my hopes and fears,” he said. “For example, I no longer travel by plane, I have eco-renovated my home, I compost my food waste and encourage others to reduce their carbon emissions.”

Judge David Sneath said at the employment tribunal: “[Nicholson] has certain views about climate change and acts upon those views in the way in which he leads his life. In my judgment his belief goes beyond a mere opinion.”

The decision, which is being challenged by the company, comes two years after the law on religious discrimination was changed so that beliefs no longer had to be “similar” to religious faith to receive protection in the workplace.

Under the new law “philosophical belief” is protected by the law alongside religious belief if it passes a legal test requiring it to be cogent, serious and “worthy of respect in a democratic society”....

I have no problem with a belief system being treated with the same deference and respect as established religions—provided they are willing to submit themselves to the same scrutiny and evaluation of how they are allowed to be applied in the public square. For example, if believing in climate change is a protected belief, then its antithesis—disbelief in climate change—must also be protected. Is that really the game environmentalists want to play?



A new Wall St extravaganza?

The legitimacy of the $100 billion (£60 billion) carbon-trading market has been called into question after the world’s largest auditor of clean-energy projects was suspended by United Nations inspectors.

SGS UK had its accreditation suspended last week after it was unable to prove its staff had properly vetted projects that were then approved for the carbon-trading scheme, or even that they were qualified to do so.

The episode will be embarrassing for European lawmakers in the run-up to the global climate summit in Copenhagen, where they will attempt to lure big polluters such as America and China into a binding agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol. SGS is the second such company to be suspended – Norway’s DNV was penalised last November for similar infractions.

The EU’s carbon-trading system, which puts a price on pollution through carbon permits that can be bought and sold, is the key element in Europe’s fight against climate change.

About a fifth of the $100 billion of credits traded annually come from projects funded under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The heavily criticised programme allows industrialised countries to offset their pollution by buying “certified emission reductions credits” generated by low-car-bon schemes in the developing world. China and India are the biggest generators of the credits: more than 900 projects are now running, producing billions of credits, with thousands more in the pipeline. Critics say the system is not sufficiently policed and allows western polluters to buy their way out of more costly carbon-cutting measures.

All such schemes must first be approved by organisations such as SGS. DNV was the single biggest auditor until it was suspended last year, when much of its workload was shifted to SGS, which was simply unable to cope.

Simon Shaw, chairman of EEA Fund Management, a backer of emission-reduction projects and an investor in Climate Exchange, the carbon-trading platform, said: “There was obviously a lack of resources. We knew this was coming.”

UN inspectors said they found six irregularities in a recent spot check. The firm has now rectified these, but remains suspended until the UN verifies sufficient changes have been made. SGS could not be reached for comment.

Lawmakers are expected to reform the CDM in Copenhagen in December. A research firm that tracks trends in clean energy and carbon trading has been put up for sale with a £30m-£40m price tag. New Energy Finance was set up in 2004 by Michael Liebre-ich, a former McKinsey consultant who owns a key stake.

Its backers include former Reed Elsevier boss Sir Crispin Davis and Mike Luckwell, a one-time investor in Hit Entertainment. The corporate finance firm Quayle Munro was brought in to advise on options after takeover approaches were received.



Sixteen months ago Costco and Sam’s Club stores in the U.S. limited how much rice customers could buy at one time, while ‘food riots’ erupted in a number of countries as food prices spiraled upward. Concerns about food supply and distribution spread worldwide.

We were asked to make introductory comments and moderate a discussion on “The Global Food Crisis” at a meeting sponsored by the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of the World Affairs Council of last month. The World Affairs Council is a non-profit organization seeking to increase awareness and understanding of international business and political issues.

Our introductory comments on global trends in the agriculture sector last month were as follows:

Mankind’s greatest challenge over the next 50 years will be supplying adequate supplies of reasonably priced energy and food to support the globe’s growing population and economy

The “Green Revolution” of the 1950’s and 60’ is only 60 years old: U.S. corn yields have increased from 25 bushels per acre in 1900 to 40 bushels per acre in 1950, the start of the Green Revolution. We produced 120 bushels per acre in 2000. Time magazine noted last month U.S. farms now produce “an astounding 152 bushels per acre”. The amount of energy used to produce these yields has increased 30 to 50 times from that used in 1950

This revolution has allowed world grain output to more than triple since 1950 The keys to the “Green Revolution” are twofold:

Agriculture moved from organic focused to inorganic focused technology, using increasing amounts of petroleum based or energy intensive fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and machinery – as well as antibiotics and steroids. Organic agricultural methods could support roughly 4 billion people – but the global population has grown to over 6.5 billion

Crops were effectively cross-bred to enhance characteristics that support higher yields and efficient harvesting

The Western diet is very energy intensive with 7 calories or more of input needed for every calorie of food consumed. Asian populations are rapidly moving toward a “Western” style, energy-intensive diet, as their economies develop

Over the last 5 years global excess grain inventories have dropped in spite of generally good global harvests. The USDA projects near record corn and soybean harvests this year in the U.S. – but crops have been slow to develop and could be subject to an early freeze. One-third of the U.S. corn crop will be used for ethanol or alternative fuel production. Roughly 1 calorie is needed to produce around 1 calorie of ethanol liquid fuel – making this alternative energy policy somewhat suspect

In our opinion four major threats exist for the global agricultural sector:

Irrigation and fresh water will be required in increasing amounts to support the expansion of global agriculture. Groundwater is becoming more difficult and expensive to pump in many areas, and is non-existent in others. Currently major portions of California and Texas are in severe drought. Desalination of seawater is very energy intensive and generally is not economic for agriculture use.

Energy is becoming a more expensive input. When diesel fuel and fertilizer costs increase substantially growers reduce planting reflecting the economics. The volatility of energy and fertilizer prices also make it very difficult to plan what crops to plant, and in what quantities. When energy prices increase agricultural prices must increase substantially or economics will dictate fewer acres are planted. Many parts of the globe cannot afford expensive grains.

Asian population and economic growth will result in more people eating increasingly energy intensive foods as they “Westernize” their diets. Demand for grains should increase as grains are increasingly used as a biofuel or animal feedstock.

A crop failure in North America would have severe implications for global grain prices. The U.S. and Canada are the major global grain exporting countries. An early freeze in the grain belt, or a disease such as UG-99 (a wheat stem rust now threatening India), could severely impact crop yields. The U.S. experienced a major wheat crop failure due to disease back in the 1950’s; a repeat would be much more disruptive.

Historical trends in the Midwest indicate a severe drought occurs every 20 years or so (tree rings indicate this cycle has persisted for 600 years) – and it has been roughly 20 years since the last major drought. Some meteorologist also suggest a correlation between the sunspot cycle, the sun’s energy that reaches the earth, and long term weather trends – claiming the lack of sunspots can cause global cooling.

The “Maunder” and “Dalton” sunspot minimums correlated with the “Little Ice Age” of roughly 1650-1800. Global cooling trend would adversely impact growing seasons. The current sunspot cycle should have recovered from a low point of activity and resulted in dozens of sunspots by now – yet sunspots are eerily missing, and have been for about a year now. Scientists are unsure why this has occurred.



The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Yvo De Boer ruled out the possibility that a "comprehensive" international climate treaty will be ratified at Copenhagen in December.

De Boer, speaking at a press conference during the ongoing Summer Davos in Dalian, Northeast China said it is "impossible to craft and draft" a detailed climate treaty in "the time that remains" to address climate change.

"That is not possible. But it is also not necessary," he said, "I think what Copenhagen has to achieve is a basic political understanding" on the essential issues of climate change.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference takes place in Copenhagen, Denmark in December and expectations were raised that a possible climate treaty could be signed by both developed and developing nations.

There is a gap between developing and developed countries on how much they should reduce their carbon emissions based on the 1990 level.

Developing countries such as China and India have said that developed countries should offer at least a 40 percent reduction by 2020.

The European Union has promised to cut emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels and by 30 percent if other developed nations follow suit.

The US Congress is debating a bill that would reduce emissions to 6 percent below 1990 levels.

Japan’s incoming Prime Minster, Yukio Hatoyama pledged a 25% reduction.

According to the projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), industrialized nations such as the G8 should reduce 25 percent to 40 percent from the 1990 levels by 2020 if the world intends to control temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius.


Australia: Leftist leader in rare stand against the Greenies

Brisbane could run out of drinking water unless the federal government backs the nation's greenest new dam, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh warned yesterday. "Ultimately the lives of more than two million people and their ability to drink is at stake here," she said. "The next time a drought hits southeast Queensland, and it will, I want to make sure people have got the water they need to drink and to conduct their lives."

Ms Bligh said the state government would have to build two new desalination plants or resort to recycled water for drinking if federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett blocked the proposed $1.5 billion Traveston Dam on environmental grounds. "The ball is now in the court of the federal government," she said. "All I ask ... of Peter Garrett is that they assess this dam rationally and objectively on the best science."

Ms Bligh said she sympathised with residents affected by the Traveston Dam, to be built by flooding the Mary Valley near Gympie, two hours' drive north of Brisbane. "Unfortunately I get the hard decision of making sure everybody has enough water to drink," she said. "We've just been through a period when we came perilously close to running out of it, and I'm not going to be guilty of short-sightedness on the preparation for the future water needs of southeast Queensland."

Ms Bligh said the dam could be functioning by 2017 if the federal government gives the green light before Christmas. The Premier last November deferred the project, which was opposed at the March election by the Liberal National Party opposition.

The dam could have been filled 10times over - providing water for 800,000 people a day - since her government first announced the project three years ago. "This is a dam that will hold all the water southeast Queensland needs for decades to come," Ms Bligh said yesterday. "If the federal government does not give the go-ahead for the dam ... we will have to go back to the drawing board. "I know there are many people who are opposed to this dam, but the southeast corner of Queensland is the fastest-growing part of Australia, and quite frankly it needs water if it's going to survive and thrive."

The Queensland Co-ordinator General has submitted tougher environmental conditions to Mr Garrett's office. Islands and sandbanks would be created for the rare Mary River turtles in the main water storage area, and trees would be planted to increase the area of vegetation around the river and its tributaries from 260ha to more than 2000ha over 20 years.

Ms Bligh blamed farming during the past 150 years for degrading the Mary River habitat to the point of endangering fish, frogs and turtles. Queensland Infrastructure and Planning Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said environmental rehabilitation works associated with the new dam "absolutely will provide the opportunity to save those species".

A spokesman for Mr Garrett said yesterday the project would undergo "thorough and rigorous scrutiny" under the national environment laws. Greens leader Bob Brown denounced the dam as "the most damaging project that's conceivable", and said he did not believe Mr Garrett would support it.



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


Monday, September 14, 2009

Mustn't laugh! Sailing through the Arctic is nothing new

And, contrary to all the claims, it is nothing to do with global warming. The report below notes both that transit through the Northwest passage happened 40 years ago and that there were five prior transits. It kinda puts into perspective the erections that the Warmists have been getting about a recent transit through the Northeast passage by two German freighters. The two passages are different but are at similar latitudes and both are normally iced up. The Northwest passage is actually the more difficult one.

And I suppose it is evil of me to note that Finno-Swedish explorer Nordenskiöld made the first complete transit though the Northeast Passage way back in 1878! Global warming has been around for a long time, apparently. Perhaps the final humiliation for the Warmists, however -- and one not mentioned in most reports -- is that the two freighters were led by a nuclear-powered Russian icebreaker! Nordenskiöld didn't need that! Was it warmer in his day?

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the departure of one of the last of the great globe-spanning multidisciplinary oceanographic expeditions, a tradition that included the epic voyages of Challenger, Meteor, and Albatross.

During an expedition lasting 11 months, the Canadian oceanographic ship CSS Hudson of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO), Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, accomplished the first, and still the only, circumnavigation of the Americas.

The vessel worked in the South Atlantic, Antarctic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans and was only the sixth ship to transit the Northwest Passage.

On November 17, 2009, CCGS Hudson, still an operational research ship of the Canadian Coast Guard, will host a party at BIO to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the expedition, and a special exhibition is being mounted at BIO featuring films and photographs of the voyage.


More oxygen -- colder climate

This sounds like a cyclic process. More CO2 in water promotes plant life, which in turn gives off more oxygen and leads to cooling

Everybody talks about CO2 and other greenhouse gases as causes of global warming and the large climate changes we are currently experiencing. But what about the atmospheric and oceanic oxygen content? Which role does oxygen content play in global warming?

This question has become extremely relevant now that Professor Robert Frei from the Department of Geography and Geology at the University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with colleagues from Uruguay, England and the University of Southern Denmark, has established that there is a historical correlation between oxygen and temperature fluctuations towards global cooling.

The team of researchers reached their conclusions via analyses of iron-rich stones, so called banded iron formations, from different locations around the globe and covering a time span of more than 3,000 million years. Their discovery was made possible by a new analytical method which the research team developed. This method is based on analysis of chrome isotopes - different chemical variants of the element chrome. It turned out that the chrome isotopes in the iron rich stones reflect the oxygen content of the atmosphere. The method is a unique tool, which makes it possible to examine historical changes in the atmospheric oxygen content and thereby possible climate changes.

"But we can simply conclude that high oxygen content in seawater enables a lot of life in the oceans "consuming" the greenhouse gas CO2, and which subsequently leads to a cooling of the earth's surface. Throughout history our climate has been dependent on balance between CO2 and atmospheric oxygen. The more CO2 and other greenhouse gases, the warmer the climate has been. But we still don't know much about the process which drives the earth from a period with a warmer climate towards an "ice age" with colder temperatures - other than that oxygen content plays an important role. It would therefore be interesting to consider atmospheric and oceanic oxygen contents much more in research aiming at understanding and tackling the causes of the current climate change," says Professor Robert Frei.

The results Professor Frei and his international research team have obtained indicate that there have been two periods in the earth's 4.5 billion year history where a significant change in the atmospheric and oceanic oxygen content has occurred. The first large increase took place in between 2.45 billion years and 2.2 billion years ago. The second "boost" occurred for only 800 to 542 million years ago and lead to an oxidisation of the deep oceans and thereby the possibility for life to exist at those depths.

"To understand the future, we have to understand the past. The two large increases in the oxygen content show, at the very least, that the temperature decreased. We hope that these results can contribute to our understanding of the complexity of climate change. I don't believe that humans have a lot of influence on the major process of oxygen formation on a large scale or on the inevitable ice ages or variations in temperature that the Earth's history is full of.


A paper from the days before Warmism became politically correct

The article pooh-poohs the effect of CO2 and says that the big danger is that increases in aerosols could lead to a new ice age. That makes the paper strangely up to date as the cooling effect of aerosols is once again receiving some attention

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols: Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate

By S. I. Rasool 1 and S. H. Schneider 1

1 Institute for Space Studies, Goddard Space Flight Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, New York 10025

Effects on the global temperature of large increases in carbon dioxide and aerosol densities in the atmosphere of Earth have been computed. It is found that, although the addition of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does increase the surface temperature, the rate of temperature increase diminishes with increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. For aerosols, however, the net effect of increase in density is to reduce the surface temperature of Earth. Because of the exponential dependence of the backscattering, the rate of temperature decrease is augmented with increasing aerosol content. An increase by only a factor of 4 in global aerosol background concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface temperature by as much as 3.5 ° K. If sustained over a period of several years, such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age.

Science 9 July 1971: Vol. 173. no. 3992, pp. 138 - 141

Nobel Prize winner Norman Borlaug has died -- 'saved more human lives than any other' -- was a climate skeptic

Greenies hated Borlaug anyhow -- because his work led to big population increases in the Third World

Renowned agricultural scientist Dr. Norman Borlaug has died at the age of 95. Borlaug, known as the father of the "Green Revolution" for saving over a billion people from starvation by utilizing pioneering high yield farming techniques, is one of only five people in history who has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom ,and the Congressional Gold Medal.

For more details on Borlaug's life and accomplishments see CNN's report here. Also here is a Gregg Easterbrook article on Borlaug's life and career.

Borlaug was also a man-made global warming skeptic who was featured in the U.S. Senate Report of more than 700 dissenting scientists. Borlaug is featured on page 116 of March 2009 U.S. Senate Report of More Than 700 Dissenting Scientists on Man-Made Global Warming. Dr. Borlaug's entry in the U.S. Senate report is reproduced below:

Renowned agricultural scientist Dr. Norman Borlaug, known as the father of the "Green Revolution" for saving over a billion people from starvation by utilizing pioneering high yield farming techniques, is one of only five people in history who has been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom ,and the Congressional Gold Medal. Borlaug also declared himself skeptical of man-made climate fears in 2007. "I do believe we are in a period where, no question, the temperatures are going up. But is this a part of another one of those (natural) cycles that have brought on glaciers and caused melting of glaciers?" Borlaug asked, according to a September 21, 2007 article in Saint Paul Pioneer Press. The article reported that Borlaug is "not sure, and he doesn't think the science is, either." Borlaug added, "How much would we have to cut back to take the increasing carbon dioxide and methane production to a level so that it's not a driving force?" We don't even know how much."

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Brainless EU now attacking old-style TVs

Even though they use LESS electricity! Logic and Greenies just don't get on

AFTER more than 70 years as a fixture in Britain’s living rooms, the cathode ray television is to face the final fade-out, as part of the European Union’s battle against climate change. The European commission is demanding that manufacturers cut the energy consumption of televisions by a fifth. Both officials and manufacturers say cathode ray televisions will fall short of the new targets and be consigned to history. The move, which follows the banning of the 100-watt incandescent lightbulb, is part of an EU directive intended to curb the growth in household electricity consumption.

Other measures, which come into force next year, include banning washing machines without a cold-wash setting. Cheap but inefficient fridges, freezers and dishwashers will also be banned. Even the kettle is under intense scrutiny, with plans for a study into improving its energy efficiency. It is thought that researchers will look at kettles that heat a set number of cups....

In Britain, electricity consumption has doubled since 1970, driven in part by a huge increase in the number of electric appliances and gadgets. Televisions are among the worst offenders. Britain has 60m sets, which consume an average of 500kWh per household a year, producing 5m tonnes of CO2. Just over half of them are cathode ray, or tube televisions.

The televisions are one of the most enduring technologies. Invented by John Logie Baird in 1926, [Rubbish! The Baird contraption was NOT the forerunner of today's cathode-ray TV. That was invented by Vladimir Zworykin] the first commercial sets were sold in Britain a decade later. The rise of flat-screen plasma and LCD models, however, has led to a decline in their popularity. According to GFK, a market analyst, 259,000 tube televisions were sold last year compared with 8.6m LCD and plasma sets.

The commission is to demand that from August 2010 manufacturers cut sets’ energy consumption by 20% over two years. Manufacturers confirmed last week that tube sets would not be upgraded.

Ironically, tube sets are actually more energy efficient than their flat-screen rivals. A 42in plasma television may use 822kWh a year, compared with 350kWh for an LCD flat screen of the same size. A 32in tube television, the biggest available, would use 322kWh.

Andre Brisaer, the commission’s head of energy efficiency, said: “They [cathode ray televisions] will most likely be taken off the market. Manufacturers will most likely be unwilling to invest in upgrading them given the lack of interest from consumers.”

The commission is also demanding that all washing machines are capable of running cold-wash cycles below 30C. Improved detergents mean clothes can be cleaned at lower temperatures.

The new regulations will potentially see the cost of fridges, televisions and washing machines rise by £100 or more. Under current EU benchmarks, kitchen appliances are graded from A++ to G for their energy efficiency. From July next year, the commission will ban manufacturers from producing goods assessed as having a rating below the A grade.

Officials from the energy and transport group are now studying kettles, coffee machines, mixers and vacuum cleaners with a view to making them more efficient. Manufacturers are concerned. Paolo Falcioni, of the European Committee of Domestic Appliance Manufacturers, which lobbies for the industry, said: “Kettles are already as efficient as possible. The only improvement would be not to have them at all.”

A spokesman for the commission said: “Our aim is not to take products off the market. We want to push an upgrade of technology that will, in turn, cut energy consumption.”


Australia: Green jobs dopey, says labor union leader

ONE of Australia's most powerful union leaders has lashed out at the push for green jobs, labelling it a "dopey term", and has dismissed environmental campaigns against some of the nation's major export industries as "judgmental nonsense". The president of the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, Tony Maher, said existing industries such as coal and steelmaking would have an important place in the nation's future economic prospects and in producing a lower carbon future.

He said carbon capture and storage and other hopes for cutting emissions such as solar and thermal, would require massive amounts of steel that should be made by Australian steel workers.

Mr Maher said much of the opposition to major industries - particularly the coal industry - was "well-intentioned naivete". "By mid-century we'll be using twice as much coal and a lot more steel and plastic and concrete that aren't the flavour of the month with environmentalists and green groups," he said.

His rhetoric is at odds with ACTU president Sharan Burrow, who has embarked on a campaign to argue the benefits of green jobs, including joining the Southern Cross Climate Coalition, a joint group of welfare, union, research and environmental organisations that have been lobbying the government to do more to create green jobs. In March Ms Burrow said Australia had to position itself to ensure it had the knowledge and skills to capture at least a quarter of what would be a global green products market worth more than three trillion dollars.

"The challenge is to reskill workers in existing blue-collar jobs to ensure they can manufacture, install and operate new technologies and to educate generations of students and young workers to take up new green jobs," she said.

Mr Maher played down any suggestion of a split with Ms Burrow, saying he chaired the ACTU's climate change group. and that there was merely a "difference in emphasis". But while white-collar workers were more comfortable with talking about green jobs, Mr Maher said he was concerned for his blue-collar constituency, keeping existing industries and fitting them into a restructured low-carbon economy. "A lot of the new jobs will be the old jobs," he said.

There would be a lot of new jobs created such as in recycling and harvesting stormwater run-off, but these would be bolt-on skills to existing trades to cope with new developments. "It's no different when plumbers had to adapt to using plastic pipes after years of using clay pipes," Mr Maher said. "Coalmines aren't going anywhere. Power stations aren't going anywhere."

Mr Maher told a trade publication last week the challenge for business leaders in the emerging green industries would be in attracting staff from other sectors who already had good pay and conditions. "A coalminer or a power station worker isn't going to leave their job on $120,000-plus with well-regulated shift arrangements and decent conditions to install low-wattage light bulbs or insulation," he said.

He dismissed the protest at the Hazelwood power station yesterday as "just silly". Hundreds of protesters gathered at Hazelwood in Victoria's La Trobe Valley to protest against the plant's emissions.

Police arrested 22 protesters after the "Switch Off Hazelwood" protest, which started about 11am with organisers planning a "mass civil disobedience action". Police said protesters became gradually more aggressive, and some wanted to jump over the plant's fences. The protesters were arrested for trespassing, and one person was arrested for assaulting a police officer at the Latrobe Valley station, which activists describe as one of Australia's dirtiest plants.

But Mr Maher said Australia produced the best-quality coking coal in the world, and this was used to make steel. He said it was silly to protest against an industry that produced a substantial proportion of the nation's exports.



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


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Time: the future. Place: Britain

A clear starry moonless sky looked down upon a frozen Britain . A deep depression had passed through and deposited unprecedented quantities of snow on town and country. Snow ploughs and gritting vehicles had cleared a way through on the major routes, but footpaths and side roads were still not negotiable. A stationary high had now settled across the country and in the windless air the temperature was plunging steadily, already below -10C. On the hills giant wind turbines stood motionless in the still air. They were giant impotent icons of a failed religion and stark monuments to onerous and now pointless taxation over many years. In the gloom they seemed to point accusing fingers up into the sky.

At the control centre of the national Power Grid there was a nervous quiet, punctuated by short bouts of hushed conversation. They knew the crisis would occur in an hour’s time, at about 7 am. They had already made the dreadful decision as to which towns would be made to experience suffering and death by being deprived of power. This was a different world from the last time there were serious power cuts in 1970. It was now totally dependent on computer and related technologies. Owing to decisions made (or, to be more accurate, not made) in the first years of the century, the nation was grossly underpowered for such a circumstance. The domestic demand was already high, as almost everyone had left the heating on over night.

Some people had managed to get through to places of work. Cleaners turned on the lights and the great machines of industry began to hum. The power consumption crept up towards the critical point.

As it happened, pure accident relieved the men of the Grid of the responsibility of decision. In a remote rural area a giant high voltage transformer had not received its scheduled maintenance, as an indirect effect of the pressure on energy prices. Although worldwide energy was cheap and plentiful, ever-increasing green taxes, coupled with political instability, had made it otherwise. In that transformer, now working at full load, partial electrical discharges were producing solid debris and potentially explosive gases from the increasingly contaminated insulation oil. Suddenly, a bridge of conducting particles formed and a spark occurred. Into the arc poured the power supply for a whole area. The explosion was spectacular, showering the surrounding area with molten metal and blazing oil.

The adjacent area, also working at full load, experienced a surge and the automatic circuit breakers dropped out. So the dominoes began to fall across the country. By chance, an astronaut in the Spacelab was looking at a Europe whose shape was beautifully picked out by the street lights, when a black stain appeared in the middle of Britain. It spread rapidly and the entire island seemed to disappear off the face of the earth.

The first to die were among the elderly and infirm. As temperatures plunged they did not know what to do and gradually sank into a hypothermal coma. Next were younger people with disabilities such as breathing difficulties. People with gas and oil central heating suddenly had the realisation forced on them that, without electricity, their control systems did not work. Virtually untouched were people in remote rural areas, who had wood and coal burning stoves and plentiful supplies in store. Many people turned on their gas ovens and rings to try to obtain some life-giving warmth, but in consequence of the demand the gas pressure went down steadily and the distributors began to cut off supplies.

Water froze in the pipes and most households were without drinking water or sewerage. The trappings of modern civilisation, which only hours before had been taken for granted, now seemed as illusory as a mirage in the desert.

Some brave souls went out to seek supplies from the shops, but the shops had not opened. Without electricity the tills did not work and even the few who had staff who could perform mental arithmetic could not maintain accounts and stock control. Looting spread, as normally law abiding people saw the lives of their families under threat. The men at the Grid desperately tried to restore power area by area, but the consequent instant increase in demand foiled their efforts.

In hospitals emergency power generators switched in to protect those in intensive care, but some failed due to poor maintenance and the patients died. Emergency services were hopelessly overloaded and telephone networks began to break down. As local doctors’ surgeries began to open they found that they could not access patient records, which were all on computer. Seasonal flu again became a fatal disease as patients in high fever could not be kept warm.

So death and disease marched across the land. The economy collapsed and anarchy reigned. And it was all due to a Government White Paper in 2003 entitled "Our energy future – creating a low carbon economy".


I think that the above piece of writing is quite brillant and completely persuasive. It is certainly factually well-founded and it makes me glad that I live in sub-tropical Queensland where the winters are bright and sunny and utterly benign. The post is the work of Prof. John Brignell, in England. I am now however going to embarrass Prof. Brignell enormously (embarrassment is the English national emotion) by mentioning that he is a man in his latter years and not in good health. And, needless to say, his health needs are not well met by Britain's "National Health Service". Without being asked, I have therefore sent Prof. Brignell quite a lot of money to ensure that he can get privately what the "National Health" will not provide. And he has told me that what I have sent made a big difference. I see it as a priority to keep him alive and knowing the charitable instincts of conservative Americans, I have some confidence that some readers of this will share my view. Click here to email him.


Global warming has stopped and cooling is beginning. No climate model has predicted a cooling of the Earth, on the contrary. This means that projections of future climate are unpredictable. Translation from the Danish of Prof. Henrik Svensmark below. Professor Svensmark is director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at DTU Space

The star that keeps us alive has, over the last few years, been almost free of sunspots, which are the usual signs of the Sun’s magnetic activity. Last week [4 September 2009] the scientific team behind the satellite SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) reported, “It is likely that the current year’s number of blank days will be the longest in about 100 years.” Everything indicates that the Sun is going into some kind of hibernation, and the obvious question is what significance that has for us on Earth.

If you ask the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which represents the current consensus on climate change, the answer is a reassuring “nothing”. But history and recent research suggest that is probably completely wrong. Why? Let’s take a closer look.

Solar activity has always varied. Around the year 1000, we had a period of very high solar activity, which coincided with the Medieval Warm Period. It was a time when frosts in May were almost unknown – a matter of great importance for a good harvest. Vikings settled in Greenland and explored the coast of North America. On the whole it was a good time. For example, China’s population doubled in this period.

But after about 1300 solar activity declined and the world began to get colder. It was the beginning of the episode we now call the Little Ice Age. In this cold time, all the Viking settlements in Greenland disappeared. Sweden surprised Denmark by marching across the ice, and in London the Thames froze repeatedly. But more serious were the long periods of crop failures, which resulted in poorly nourished populations, reduced in Europe by about 30 per cent because of disease and hunger.

"The March across the Belts was a campaign between January 30 and February 8, 1658 during the Northern Wars where Swedish king Karl X Gustav led the Swedish army from Jutland across the ice of the Little Belt and the Great Belt to reach Zealand (Danish: Sjælland). The risky but vastly successful crossing was a crushing blow to Denmark, and led to the Treaty of Roskilde later that year...." - Click for larger image.

It’s important to realise that the Little Ice Age was a global event. It ended in the late 19th Century and was followed by increasing solar activity. Over the past 50 years solar activity has been at its highest since the medieval warmth of 1000 years ago. But now it appears that the Sun has changed again, and is returning towards what solar scientists call a “grand minimum” such as we saw in the Little Ice Age.

The match between solar activity and climate through the ages is sometimes explained away as coincidence. Yet it turns out that, almost no matter when you look and not just in the last 1000 years, there is a link. Solar activity has repeatedly fluctuated between high and low during the past 10,000 years. In fact the Sun spent about 17 per cent of those 10,000 years in a sleeping mode, with a cooling Earth the result.

You may wonder why the international climate panel IPCC does not believe that the Sun’s changing activity affects the climate. The reason is that it considers only changes in solar radiation. That would be the simplest way for the Sun to change the climate – a bit like turning up and down the brightness of a light bulb.

Satellite measurements have shown that the variations of solar radiation are too small to explain climate change. But the panel has closed its eyes to another, much more powerful way for the Sun to affect Earth’s climate. In 1996 we discovered a surprising influence of the Sun – its impact on Earth’s cloud cover. High-energy accelerated particles coming from exploded stars, the cosmic rays, help to form clouds.

When the Sun is active, its magnetic field is better at shielding us against the cosmic rays coming from outer space, before they reach our planet. By regulating the Earth’s cloud cover, the Sun can turn the temperature up and down. High solar activity means fewer clouds and and a warmer world. Low solar activity and poorer shielding against cosmic rays result in increased cloud cover and hence a cooling. As the Sun’s magnetism doubled in strength during the 20th century, this natural mechanism may be responsible for a large part of global warming seen then.

That also explains why most climate scientists try to ignore this possibility. It does not favour their idea that the 20th century temperature rise was mainly due to human emissions of CO2. If the Sun provoked a significant part of warming in the 20th Century, then the contribution by CO2 must necessarily be smaller.

Ever since we put forward our theory in 1996, it has been subjected to very sharp criticism, which is normal in science. Originally it was said that a link between clouds and solar activity could not be correct, because no physical mechanism was known. But in 2006, after many years of work, we completed experiments at DTU Space that demonstrated the existence of a physical mechanism. The cosmic rays help to form aerosols, which are the seeds for cloud formation.

Then came the criticism that the mechanism we found in the laboratory could not work in the real atmosphere, and therefore had no practical significance. We have just rejected that criticism emphatically.

It turns out that the Sun itself performs what might be called natural experiments. Giant solar eruptions can cause the cosmic ray intensity on earth to dive suddenly over a few days. In the days following an eruption, cloud cover can fall by about 4 per cent. And the amount of liquid water in cloud droplets is reduced by almost 7 per cent. Here is a very large effect – indeed so great that in popular terms the Earth’s clouds originate in space.

So we have watched the Sun’s magnetic activity with increasing concern, since it began to wane in the mid-1990s.

That the Sun might now fall asleep in a deep minimum was suggested by solar scientists at a meeting in Kiruna in Sweden two years ago. So when Nigel Calder and I updated our book The Chilling Stars, we wrote a little provocatively that “we are advising our friends to enjoy global warming while it lasts.”

In fact global warming has stopped and a cooling is beginning. Mojib Latif from the University of Kiel argued at the recent UN World Climate Conference in Geneva that the cooling may continue through the next 10 to 20 years. His explanation was a natural change in the North Atlantic circulation, not in solar activity. But no matter how you interpret them, natural variations in climate are making a comeback.

The outcome may be that the Sun itself will demonstrate its importance for climate and so challenge the theories of global warming. No climate model has predicted a cooling of the Earth – quite the contrary. And this means that the projections of future climate are unreliable. A forecast saying it may be either warmer or colder for 50 years is not very useful, and science is not yet able to predict solar activity.

So in many ways we stand at a crossroads. The near future will be extremely interesting. I think it is important to accept that Nature pays no heed to what we humans think about it. Will the greenhouse theory survive a significant cooling of the Earth? Not in its current dominant form. Unfortunately, tomorrow’s climate challenges will be quite different from the greenhouse theory’s predictions. Perhaps it will become fashionable again to investigate the Sun’s impact on our climate.



This is an alternative theory to that mentioned by Svensmark above. The Svensmark theory is much more parsimonious (simpler), however so would normally be preferred. See also a comment by Prof. Singer. I put up an earlier commentary on the research on July 17 (Second post down)

For decades, the supporters of CO2 driven global warming have discounted changes in solar irradiance as far too small to cause significant climate change. Though the Sun's output varies by less than a tenth of a percent in magnitude during its 11-year sunspot cycle, that small variation produces changes in sea surface temperatures two or three times as large as it should. A new study in Science demonstrates how two previously known mechanisms acting together amplify the Sun's impact in an unsuspected way. Not surprisingly, the new discovery is getting a cool reception from the CO2 climate change clique.

Scientists have long suspected that changes in solar output may have triggered the Little Ice Age that gripped Europe several centuries ago, as well as droughts that brought down Chinese dynasties. Now, in a report in the August 28 issue of the journal Science entitled “Amplifying the Pacific Climate System Response to a Small 11-Year Solar Cycle Forcing,” Gerald A. Meehl et al. have demonstrated a possible mechanism that could explain how seemingly small changes in solar output can have a big impact on Earth's climate. The researchers claim that two different parts of the atmosphere act in concert to amplify the effects of even minuscule solar fluctuations.

Global sea surface temperature (SST) has been observed to vary by about 0.1°C over the course of the 11-year solar cycle. This should require a change in solar irradiance by more than 0.5 W m–2, but the globally averaged amplitude change from solar maximum to solar minimum is only about 0.2 W m–2. There has long been a question regarding how this small solar signal could be amplified to produce a measurable response. In fact, the lack of a plausible mechanism has been used to discount the Sun's effect on climate by those who support carbon dioxide as the primary driver of global warming. That line of argument may no longer be persuasive. As the report's authors state in the paper's abstract:

Two mechanisms, the top-down stratospheric response of ozone to fluctuations of shortwave solar forcing and the bottom-up coupled ocean-atmosphere surface response, are included in versions of three global climate models, with either mechanism acting alone or both acting together. We show that the two mechanisms act together to enhance the climatological off-equatorial tropical precipitation maxima in the Pacific, lower the eastern equatorial Pacific sea surface temperatures during peaks in the 11-year solar cycle, and reduce low-latitude clouds to amplify the solar forcing at the surface.

The two mechanisms mentioned have been modeled individually in the past, and neither alone proved sufficient. Prior to this new report both mechanisms had not been included in the same model. Some models operate from the top down, beginning with the small changes in the sun's ultraviolet radiation that occur during the solar cycle. The enhanced UV radiation, which promotes stratospheric ozone production and UV absorption, warm that layer of the atmosphere differently at different latitudes. The temperature gradients this creates provide a positive feedback amplifying the original solar forcing while affecting the climate in the lower atmosphere.

Other models work from the bottom up, using a mechanism that centers around the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Solar energy added during the peak of a solar cycle causes more water to evaporate from the ocean's surface. Through a long chain of changes in atmospheric and oceanic circulation, this results in fewer clouds forming in the subtropics. Fewer clouds mean more solar energy reaches the ocean, resulting in a positive feedback loop that amplifies the Sun's climate impact.

The problem to date has been that neither mechanism had a large enough impact to account for observed temperature changes. Suspecting that the two might reinforce each other if modeled together, Meehl et al. decided to modify some existing climate models: “Here we use several related climate model versions wherein we can include both mechanisms separately (an atmospheric model with no stratospheric dynamics or chemistry coupled to ocean, land, and sea ice; an atmospheric model with stratospheric dynamics and ozone chemistry driven by specified SSTs and sea ice) and then combine them (the atmospheric model with stratospheric dynamics and ozone chemistry coupled to the ocean, land, and sea ice) to test if they can, indeed, amplify the climate system response to solar forcing to produce responses of the magnitude seen in the observations.”



Summary: The sun is in the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. Some observers are starting to wonder, are sunspots disappearing? Sunspots can have profound effects on the Earth's climate as well as human and satellite missions in orbit.

The sun is in the pits of the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. Weeks and sometimes whole months go by without even a single tiny sunspot. The quiet has dragged out for more than two years, prompting some observers to wonder, are sunspots disappearing? "Personally, I'm betting that sunspots are coming back," says researcher Matt Penn of the National Solar Observatory (NSO) in Tucson, Arizona. But, he allows, "there is some evidence that they won't."

Penn's colleague Bill Livingston of the NSO has been measuring the magnetic fields of sunspots for the past 17 years, and he has found a remarkable trend. Sunspot magnetism is on the decline. "Sunspot magnetic fields are dropping by about 50 gauss per year," says Penn. "If we extrapolate this trend into the future, sunspots could completely vanish around the year 2015."

This disappearing act is possible because sunspots are made of magnetism. The "firmament" of a sunspot is not matter but rather a strong magnetic field that appears dark because it blocks the upflow of heat from the sun's interior. If Earth lost its magnetic field, the solid planet would remain intact, but if a sunspot loses its magnetism, it ceases to exist. "According to our measurements, sunspots seem to form only if the magnetic field is stronger than about 1500 gauss," says Livingston. "If the current trend continues, we'll hit that threshold in the near future, and solar magnetic fields would become too weak to form sunspots."

"This work has caused a sensation in the field of solar physics," comments NASA sunspot expert David Hathaway, who is not directly involved in the research. "It's controversial stuff." The controversy is not about the data. "We know Livingston and Penn are excellent observers," says Hathaway. "The trend that they have discovered appears to be real." The part colleagues have trouble believing is the extrapolation. Hathaway notes that most of their data were taken after the maximum of Solar Cycle 23 (2000-2002) when sunspot activity naturally began to decline. "The drop in magnetic fields could be a normal aspect of the solar cycle and not a sign that sunspots are permanently vanishing."

Penn himself wonders about these points. "Our technique is relatively new and the data stretches back in time only 17 years. We could be observing a temporary downturn that will reverse itself."

The technique they're using was pioneered by Livingston at the McMath-Pierce solar telescope near Tucson. He looks at a spectral line emitted by iron atoms in the sun's atmosphere. Sunspot magnetic fields cause the line to split in two—an effect called "Zeeman splitting" after Dutch physicist Pieter Zeeman who discovered the phenomenon in the 19th century. The size of the split reveals the intensity of the magnetism.

Astronomers have been measuring sunspot magnetic fields in this general way for nearly a century, but Livingston added a twist. While most researchers measure the splitting of spectral lines in the visible part of the sun's spectrum, Livingston decided to try an infra-red spectral line. Infrared lines are much more sensitive to the Zeeman effect and provide more accurate answers. Also, he dedicated himself to measuring a large number of sunspots—more than 900 between 1998 and 2005 alone. The combination of accuracy and numbers revealed the downturn.

If sunspots do go away, it wouldn't be the first time. In the 17th century, the sun plunged into a 70-year period of spotlessness known as the Maunder Minimum that still baffles scientists. The sunspot drought began in 1645 and lasted until 1715; during that time, some of the best astronomers in history (e.g., Cassini) monitored the sun and failed to count more than a few dozen sunspots per year, compared to the usual thousands.

"Whether [the current downturn] is an omen of long-term sunspot decline, analogous to the Maunder Minimum, remains to be seen," Livingston and Penn caution in a recent issue of EOS. "Other indications of solar activity suggest that sunspots must return in earnest within the next year."

Whatever happens, notes Hathaway, "the sun is behaving in an interesting way and I believe we're about to learn something new."

Solar activity can have a profound effect on the Earth's climate and biosphere. For instance, some studies indicate that sunspot activity could be linked to weather patterns on Earth. Understanding the behavior of the sun can help scientists determine what effects the solar cycle will have on Earth in the years to come

SOURCE. See also here


What they always thought they knew was wrong. Pity about that "consensus"

UCLA atmospheric scientists have discovered a previously unknown basic mode of energy transfer from the solar wind to the Earth's magnetosphere. The research, federally funded by the National Science Foundation, could improve the safety and reliability of spacecraft that operate in the upper atmosphere.

"It's like something else is heating the atmosphere besides the sun. This discovery is like finding it got hotter when the sun went down," said Larry Lyons, UCLA professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences and a co-author of the research, which is in press in two companion papers in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

The sun, in addition to emitting radiation, emits a stream of ionized particles called the solar wind that affects the Earth and other planets in the solar system. The solar wind, which carries the particles from the sun's magnetic field, known as the interplanetary magnetic field, takes about three or four days to reach the Earth. When the charged electrical particles approach the Earth, they carve out a highly magnetized region — the magnetosphere — which surrounds and protects the Earth.

Charged particles carry currents, which cause significant modifications in the Earth's magnetosphere. This region is where communications spacecraft operate and where the energy releases in space known as substorms wreak havoc on satellites, power grids and communications systems.

The rate at which the solar wind transfers energy to the magnetosphere can vary widely, but what determines the rate of energy transfer is unclear. "We thought it was known, but we came up with a major surprise," said Lyons, who conducted the research with Heejeong Kim, an assistant researcher in the UCLA Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and other colleagues.

"This is where everything gets started," Lyons said. "Any important variations in the magnetosphere occur because there is a transfer of energy from the solar wind to the particles in the magnetosphere. The first critical step is to understand how the energy gets transferred from the solar wind to the magnetosphere."

The interplanetary magnetic field fluctuates greatly in magnitude and direction. "We all have thought for our entire careers — I learned it as a graduate student — that this energy transfer rate is primarily controlled by the direction of the interplanetary magnetic field," Lyons said. "The closer to southward-pointing the magnetic field is, the stronger the energy transfer rate is, and the stronger the magnetic field is in that direction. If it is both southward and big, the energy transfer rate is even bigger."

However, Lyons, Kim and their colleagues analyzed radar data that measure the strength of the interaction by measuring flows in the ionosphere, the part of Earth's upper atmosphere ionized by solar radiation. The results surprised them. "Any space physicist, including me, would have said a year ago there could not be substorms when the interplanetary magnetic field was staying northward, but that's wrong," Lyons said. "Generally, it's correct, but when you have a fluctuating interplanetary magnetic field, you can have substorms going off once per hour.



This Capital Weather Gang blog entry is written with considerable trepidation given the politically-charged atmosphere surrounding human-induced global warming.

I am a meteorologist with a life-long weather fascination. As I'm sure you know, meteorology is an inexact science due to the large number of variables involved in predicting and understanding the weather. I frequently say that weather forecasting is a humbling endeavor, and I have learned to respect its challenges. From this perspective, you might be able to better understand why I wince when hearing pronouncements such as "the science is settled", "the debate is over", or even the "the temperature in the 2050s is projected to be..." I realize that forecasting climate and weather are different, but both involve a large number of moving parts.

There are numerous reasons why I question the consensus view on human-induced climate change covered extensively on this blog by Andrew Freedman. But for this entry, I scaled them down to ten:

(10) Hurricanes: One of the strongest value propositions presented for fighting global warming is to slow tropical cyclone intensity increases. Katrina was cited as a prime example. But the storm only made landfall as a category three (five being strongest) and affected a city built below sea level. Stronger storms have hit North America before, but the Katrina route and the weak levees made this situation much worse. I follow global hurricane activity closely and earlier this summer, we reached a record low. Florida State has a site that tracks global hurricane activity here. Since the 1990s, this activity has been decreasing, which goes against what we were told to expect on a warming planet.

(9) Ice Caps: In 2007, the Northern Hemisphere reached a record low in ice coverage and the Northwest Passage was opened. At that point, we were told melting was occurring faster than expected, and we needed to accelerate our efforts. What you were not told was that the data that triggered this record is only available back to the late 1970s. Prior to that, we did not have the satellite technology to measure areal ice extent. We know the Northwest Passage had been open before. In Antarctica, we had been told that a cooling of the continent was consistent with global climate models until a recent study announced the opposite was true. The lack of information and the inconsistencies do not offer confidence.

(8) El Niño: This feature in the Tropical Pacific Ocean occurs when water temperatures are abnormally warm. Some climate change researchers predicted that global warming would create more and stronger El Niño events like the powerhouse of 1997-98. Indeed in 2006, esteemed climate scientist James Hansen, predicted this. But we are now about to complete an entire decade without a strong El Niño event (three occurred in the 1980s-1990s). So the more recent 2007 IPCC report backtracked from Hansen's prediction, noting that there were too many uncertainties to understand how El Niño will behave with climate change. Recent research speaks to how important El Niño is to climate. In the past two decades, these warm El Niño and opposite cold La Niña events have accentuated the global temperature peaks and valleys highlighting the importance of natural variability and the limitations of the science.

(7) Climate Models: To be blunt, the computer models that policy-makers are using to make key decisions failed to collectively inform us of the flat global land-sea temperatures seen in the 2000s (see more on this in item 5 below). The UN IPCC did offer fair warning of model inadequacies in their 2007 assessment. They mentioned a number of challenges, which is wholly reasonable since countless factors contribute to our global climate system--many of them not fully understood. My belief is that they are over-estimating anthropogenic (human) forcing influences and under-estimating natural variability (like the current cold-phase Pacific Decadal Oscillation and solar cycles). The chaos theory describes why it is far more difficult to project the future than climate scientists may realize (I give them a break here since climate modeling is in its relative infancy). We poor hapless meteorologists learned the chaos theory lesson long ago.

(6) CO2 (Carbon Dioxide): The argument that the air we currently exhale is a bona fide pollutant due to potential impacts on climate change flummoxes me. CO2 is also plant food. Plants release oxygen for us, and we release CO2 for them. Over the summer, CO2 reached almost .04% of our total atmosphere as reported here. Because CO2 is but a sliver of our atmosphere, it is known as a "trace gas." We all agree that it is increasing, but is there a chance that our estimate of its influence on the Greenhouse Effect is overblown given its small atmospheric ratio?

(5) Global Temperatures: As a meteorologist, verification is very important for guiding my work and improving future forecasts. The verification for global warming is struggling. Three of four major datasets that track global estimates show 1998 as the warmest year on record with temperatures flat or falling since then. Even climate change researchers now admit that global temperature has been flat since that peak. As shown above, the CO2 chart continues upwards unabated. If the relationship is as solid as we are told, then why isn't global temperature responding? I'm told by climate change researchers that the current situation is within the bounds of model expectations. However, when I look at the IPCC 2007 AR4 WG1 report, I can see that without major warming in the next 1-2 years, we will fall outside those bounds. This is why I believe James Hansen is predicting a global temperature record in the next two years.

(4) Solar Issue: Look for this issue to get bigger. Our sun is currently becoming very quiet. Not only is the number of sunspots falling dramatically, but the intensity of the sunspots is weakening. The coincident timing of major solar minimums with cooler global temperatures (such as during the Little Ice Age) suggests that maybe the sun is underestimated as a component for influencing climate. The second half of the twentieth century (when we saw lots of warming) was during a major solar maximum period- which is now ending. Total solar irradiance has been steady or sinking similar to our global temperatures over much of this past decade. Indeed, recent research has suggested the solar factor is underestimated (here and here). Perhaps one day, we'll have a different version of James Carville's famous political quote...something like "It's the sun, stupid!"

(3) But what about...? Ultimately after I explain my viewpoint on climate change, I get this question: "But what about all this crazy weather we've been having lately?" As a student of meteorology, we learned about amazing weather events in the past that have not been rivaled in the present. Whether it was the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, the 1889 Johnstown Flood, or even the worst tornado outbreak in history (1974), we have and will continue to see crazy weather. Very few statistics are available that correctly show an increase in these "crazy" events.

(2) Silencing Dissent: I believe the climate is always changing. But what percentage of that change is human-induced? Like most, I believe that a more balanced energy supply benefits us politically due to the reduced reliance on foreign sources and benefits us locally due to improved air quality. But several times during debates individuals have told me I should not question the "settled science" due to the moral imperative of "saving the planet". As with a religious debate, I'm told that my disagreement means I do not "care enough" and even if correct, I should not question the science. This frightens me.

(1) Pullback: Does climate change hysteria represent another bubble waiting to burst? From the perspective of the alarmism and the saturation of the message, the answer could be yes. I believe that when our science or economic experts tend to be incorrect, it usually involves predictions that have underperformed expectations (Y2K, SARS, oil supply, etc). Can we think of any other expert-given, consensus-based, long-term predictions that have verified correctly? Not one comes to mind. I believe that predictions of human-caused climate change will continue to be overdone, and we'll discover that natural factors are equally and sometimes even more important.



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


Saturday, September 12, 2009


The 1920’s and thirties saw demagogues and authoritarians attempting to force their brand of centralized, coercive, collectivist, nationalistic Utopia on everyone else.

Today, the same anti-freedom, anti-human, anti-enterprise, anti-private property philosophies are again oozing out of old Europe and infecting the western world. Visions of another collectivist Utopia are again exciting the intellectuals, and this time it is International rather than Nationalistic. The International Green Shirts have arrived. The Big Lie they have concocted is: “Man is causing dangerous Global Warming”.

The global warming story has excited the anti-liberty groups as never before. Here is an issue that can be milked endlessly to achieve income re-distribution, population control, social justice, world government, re-forestation, sustainable development and alternate energy. It will fund vote buying and foreign aid on a massive scale and finance whole new bureaus for government “research”. It can be used to yield detailed data on every business in the land, and life-and-death control over every corporation and industry – a central planner’s dream opportunity.


When renewable is not sustainable

The rare display of realism from a Leftist site below points out that ethanol and solar power deplete land and water resources

Renewable energy is sold to the public as an environmentally benign alternative to energy produced by fossil fuels. With respect to ethanol and solar power, however, the debate has ignored how land and water use is affected by refining ethanol, growing corn and siting solar plants.

Energy production requires water. Producing petroleum, natural gas, coal or methane consumes a lot of water, but much less than it takes to make ethanol. In 2008, researchers at Virginia Tech quantified the amount of water it takes to produce one million British Thermal Units (BTUs): natural gas requires three gallons, ethanol as much as 29,100 gallons.

Even in a state-of-the-art refinery that recycles its water, four gallons of water are consumed for every gallon of ethanol produced. In 2007, Congress enacted the Energy Independence and Security Act, which mandates the production of 36 billion gallons of ethanol per year by 2022—a 500-percent increase from current levels. The refining process alone will annually consume more than a two-month supply of water for the city of Chicago. That water is a drop in the bucket when we factor in the amount of water that is needed to grow the corn. To grow enough corn to refine a single gallon of ethanol can take as much as 2,500 gallons of water, and 2,500 multiplied by 36 billion is enough water to slake Chicago’s thirst for more than 100 years.

In Illinois, water used to grow corn comes mostly from rainfall, but further west, farmers mostly irrigate their fields. In Nebraska, for example, 75 percent of corn fields are irrigated. In the arid west, corn can’t be farmed without irrigation. And using water to irrigate crops always means that less will be available for other uses.

Consider the implications for California, which aspires to produce 1 billion gallons of ethanol annually. To grow the necessary corn would require using every drop of water currently diverted from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. That water irrigates 7 million acres in the Central Valley and provides critical supplies to Southern California’s cities—uses that can hardly be superseded by those of growing and refining corn for ethanol.

As the ethanol boom drove up the price of corn from $2 a bushel in 2006 to more than $4 in 2009, ethanol producers were delirious with joy. But food producers, such as hog and beef farmers, and beverage companies, such as Coca-Cola, complained that ethanol’s demand for corn was driving up food prices. Then the global economic meltdown caused the price of gas to plummet, making ethanol very expensive. Some proposed ethanol plants were shelved; some companies went bankrupt.

Yet, political support for ethanol remains strong. In May 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed rules to measure ethanol’s carbon footprint that would include the impact of farmers who cut down trees anywhere on earth to plant more corn. Members of Congress from farm states quickly introduced legislation to amend the Waxman-Markey Climate Bill to deny the EPA this authority. The House narrowly passed the bill in June 2009; at press time, it was still unclear whether the Senate would accept this provision.

Some biofuel visionaries believe that “cellulosic ethanol,” produced from the stalks and husks of corn—the waste product rather than the kernels—will be the future of the industry. But cellulosic ethanol remains a long way from being economically competitive.

The solar energy industry is similarly benefiting from federal legislation that paid no attention to water and land availability. In 2005, Congress enacted the Energy Policy Act, giving the Departments of Energy and Interior the mandate to establish renewable energy projects on federal land, which will generate more than 10,000 megawatts of electricity.

The obvious place to locate solar projects is in the desert Southwest, where the sun shines year-round. As of June 2009, solar power companies had filed applications for more than 150 permits for solar power plants on federal land in Arizona, California and Nevada, mostly land owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency of the Department of the Interior. Assembling a sufficient number of solar panels or mirrors for a power plant requires a large tract of land. The permits being evaluated by BLM involve more than one million acres of land, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

BLM has begun preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). To date, the bureau hasn’t announced what kind of leases or permits it will grant corporations for the use of federal land. Clearly, there must be long-term arrangements if the plants are to be commercially viable. The net effect will be to turn over exclusive use of federal land to for-profit corporations.

More troublesome is the potential water use of these companies. If solar power is generated by photovoltaic cells, it uses almost no water. The cells directly convert the sun’s rays into electricity. Such systems are becoming more common in home applications, but still remain rare for commercial-scale power plants. They are extremely costly and the power is not constant, as it is generated only during the day when the sun shines. Utilities greatly prefer cheap 24/7 power.

For commercial power plants, solar companies use a technology known as “concentrating solar thermal” (CST). The sun heats a fluid that boils water. The steam spins a turbine that generates electricity. All thermal power plants produce waste heat as a byproduct and use cooling towers to release the waste heat to the ambient atmosphere—usually by the evaporation of water. Apart from the first step that uses the sun’s heat, CST is an old-fashioned thermal power plant that consumes vast quantities of water.

That’s not a problem for a plant located in Michigan, but 150 solar plants located in the Mojave Desert create a major water problem. Desert wildlife, including endangered species, depend heavily on rare seeps and springs that would likely dry up because of large-scale groundwater pumping.

It is feasible to air-cool CST plants but, again, the desert climate poses a problem. It’s hot outside, which makes dispersing the waste heat using hot desert air very inefficient. The solar companies prefer to use wet-cooled plants, because they cost almost 10 percent less to build and generate five percent more power than do air-cooled plants.

The National Park Service and many environmental organizations are beginning to realize that the water demands of ethanol and solar power are problematic. The Park Service has urged the Departments of Energy and the Interior to deny permits for water-cooled plants. Air cooling would reduce water consumption by as much as 90 percent. As the EIS process moves forward, these departments should give preference to plants that use air-cooling. The last thing we need are hundreds of commercial-scale groundwater wells drilled on water-scarce federal land.

Congress must integrate its energy and water policies. This is critical as global warming begins to reduce flows in western rivers, which translates directly into a loss of energy produced by hydroelectric facilities at federal dams. Replacing this lost energy without using fossil-fuel plants will be a real challenge. 



A comment from Hong Kong

A beaming Tony Blair posed for television cameras holding a sleek, shiny solar panel as smiling officials and film star Jet Li looked on. They announced an ambitious plan to bring modern, clean power to the world's poor. In the next five years, the programme would bring solar-powered street lamps to 1,000 villages in China, India and Africa, where people are so poor they still do not generate any of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. The plan was announced at a factory in Guizhou in southwestern China - one of its poorest provinces.

But would Blair, the former British prime minister, and Li have been smiling if they had known a factory must burn more than 40kg of coal to produce the panel - one metre by 1.5 metres - they were holding? Forty kilograms might not sound much. But even the country's least efficient coal-fired power plant would generate 130 kilowatt-hours of electricity burning that amount - enough power to keep a 22 watt LED light bulb beaming 12 hours a day for 30 years. A solar panel is designed to last just 20 years.

Jian Shuisheng , a professor of optical technology at Beijing Jiaotong University, estimates it takes 10kg of polysilicon to produce a solar panel with a capacity of one kilowatt - just enough to generate the energy to keep a fridge cool for a day. To make that much polysilicon on the mainland would require the burning of more than two tonnes of coal. That amount of coal could generate enough electricity to keep the fridge running for two decades.

Like Blair and Li, many consumers, as well as corporations, in developed countries are buying mainland-made solar panels in the belief that using them will help slow the pace of global warming. Demand for solar panels has risen rapidly in the past few years, creating a US$100-billion-a-year market for panels and related industrial materials.

Five years ago, mainland production of polysilicon - the key component of solar panels - was negligible. Today, it is the world's leading producer of the material, and last year churned out 4,000 tonnes - 80 times as much as in 2004. This year the government expects output to soar to 30,000 tonnes and projects that by 2011 it will reach a jaw-dropping 150,000 tonnes. At least 16 provinces began building 33 polysilicon production plants last year, newspaper the 21st Century Economy Review has reported.

But far from saving the world, the production of solar panels is aggravating pollution and adding to energy consumption. Mainland government officials have known this for years, but not until the global economic crisis made a big dent in demand for solar panels did they openly admit that the "green business" could be dirty sometimes - and seek to regulate the market.

Such hasty expansion is not confined to the production of solar panels. From installing wind power to the production of vehicles running on alternative fuels, bubbles exist throughout the new-energy sector.

Senior officials at the National Development and Reform Commission, the key economic ministry, have spoken many times of the need for higher entry barriers - from curbs on bank lending to more frequent environmental checks - to prevent firms and local governments rushing into the sector and avoid overexpansion. But their warnings went unheeded: many provinces are already building some of the world's biggest solar power projects. And they will not stop, because they have invested more than 100 billion yuan (HK$114 billion) in the projects.

Polysilicon is greyish, crystallised pure silicon; more than 90 per cent of solar panels on the market contain it. Dr Dang Qingde , deputy head of the department of labour safety of the Centre for Disease Control in the city of Leshan in Sichuan , measured the amount of toxic chemicals in the air at a polysilicon plant in September 2007. Leshan is one of a handful of cities to have imported polysilicon production lines from overseas. The plant in the city is capable of producing 1,500 tonnes of polysilicon a year. The factory is clean and quiet. Grass and trees grow between its buildings.

Using a hand-held device, Dang found more than 10 poisonous substances - from ammonia, the effects of which are relatively mild, to the lung-eating trichlorosilane - but all at levels within the safe limits decreed by Beijing. Nevertheless, he wrote a report in which he rated the workplace "highly hazardous". "A shiny polysilicon plant is like a shiny bomb. It may look clean and innocent, but you don't want to have one in your neighbourhood," he said.

What made Dang nervous was the presence of chlorine. The chemical is used at almost every stage of the manufacturing process. Chlorine can not only turn your blood into hydrochloric acid, but also interact with other chemicals - such as silicon - to form more deadly poisons, he found. Dang published his findings in an academic journal, despite opposition from the plant's management, in the hope it would draw the attention of others to the environmental issues in polysilicon production. "I have prayed for heaven's blessing to save our workers and residents in the neighbourhood," he said.

Since the first polysilicon factory opened in Leshan, more have followed. Now it is one of the biggest polysilicon production centres on the mainland. Output rose by more than 300 per cent in two years. To Dang's relief, this has not led to calamity.

Still, that is not the case elsewhere. Emissions from the Huafu Silicon Company's plant in Liancheng county, in the southeastern province of Fujian , polluted the air and water in a village, causing violent clashes with farmers. The company says the pollution was accidental. There will be more such cases because mainland factories are using old-fashioned, energy intensive and highly polluting equipment, says Jian, the Beijing Jiaotong University professor, who is a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Extracting pure silicon is a tedious business, the professor said. In the 1950s, engineers at German engineering giant Siemens discovered that by putting hydrogen, chlorine and raw silicon in an oven and heating them up until they vaporised, they could get rid of some unwanted chemical elements. They repeated the process until they got 99.9999999 per cent pure polysilicon - just pure enough to make solar panels. Half a century later, most of the polysilicon makers in the world still use this method.

The professor described what happened to the polysilicon after that. A very fine length of wire is used to slice a block of polysilicon into very thin pieces. But they are not yet thin enough. The polysilicon sheets are sanded down until they are 200 micrometres thick - a process that turns 40 per cent of the polysilicon into waste that cannot be recycled.

Dr Wan Gang , minister of science and technology, said the mainland was burning a lot of coal to produce solar panels for Western countries. "Developed countries get clean air and the reputation of a carbon-free economy, while pollution and greenhouse gas emission are chalked up to our account," Wan said. "That's a bit unfair."

According to Jian's calculations, almost 30 million tonnes of coal, or more than 1 per cent of the mainland's output of coal last year, will be needed to keep the ovens of all the polysilicon plants hot.



Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, renewed his call for a European carbon tax on imports to the bloc on Thursday as he unveiled details of a new charge on fossil fuel products in France. “I will not accept a system ... that imports products from countries that don’t respect the rules [on carbon emission reductions],” he said in a speech to factory workers in the eastern Ain region of France. “We need to impose a carbon tax at [Europe’s] borders. I will lead that battle.”

The French president has in the past sparked accusations of protectionism after calling for European import tariffs on products from countries that do not abide by international targets on carbon emission reductions.

On Thursday economists warned that such an initiative – likely to be supported by some European countries such as Italy – could have catastrophic consequences for the ongoing attempts to strike a global trade deal. “This would put the developed world on a collision course with China, India and other developing countries. It could do serious damage to the international trade system,” said Simon Tilford, chief economist of the Centre for European reform. “It would be seen as naked protectionism.”

Mr Sarkozy sought to defend his position, which is clearly aimed at making France’s own carbon tax more palatable in the face of strong public opposition. “A carbon tax at the border is the natural complement to a domestic carbon tax. More importantly, a carbon tax at the borders is vital for our industries and our jobs. This has nothing to do with protectionism,” he said. “This is about fair play.”



South Africa, a major polluter due to its dependence on coal-fired electricity, will not agree to any emission-cutting targets if doing so hurts the country's economy, a cabinet spokesman said on Thursday.

International talks resume in December in Copenhagen where countries will try to thrash out a new international climate change regime beyond 2012 amid increased discord over the role developing countries can play in reducing harmful emissions.

South Africa, echoing a view widely held by developing countries, including China and India, said emission-cutting targets would hit its economy during a global economic downturn. "We are committed to taking responsible action to reduce our emissions but we are not ready to agree to any targets that would undermine our growth trajectory," Themba Maseko told reporters in a post-cabinet briefing. "We think that it is premature for South Africa to agree to targets," Maseko said.

Britain said on Tuesday that talks in Denmark to agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol would fail unless politicians from developing countries focused more on the longer-term climate threat and not an economic downturn.



If you liked what Enron, AIG, and the Federal Reserve did to the economy, you’ll love cap and trade. That’s the thrust of a new paper from Louisiana State University economist Joseph Mason. Cap-and-trade programs, like the one passed by the House and simmering in the Senate, pose a couple of big problems, he says: They don’t work, and they can gum up the rest of the economy. Like many economists, Dr. Mason pines for the elegance of a carbon tax to tackle climate change.

A cap-and-trade plan would work by capping the amount of greenhouse gases a country could emit, then letting companies trade the right to emit them. It’s a market-based solution to a big environmental problem.

However, the cap-and-trade programs in place (i.e., in Europe) have suffered from extreme volatility. The price of the pollution permits has ricocheted all over the place in a short period of time.

That, says Dr. Mason, is chum in the water to financial speculators who quickly learn how to game the system in their interests, something environmental groups have also warned about. And it pretty much defeats the purpose of environmental legislation in the first place: “With carbon permit prices fluctuating wildly, long-term signals regarding the carbon-reducing benefits of investing in clean-air technology are clouded at best and nonexistent at worst.”

People in Washington realize that, which is why they’ve been trying to figure out how to regulate the market for carbon better than they regulated the market for everything else. Since the carbon market will likely be the biggest commodity market in the U.S. once it’s up and running, the stakes are high.

One common recourse is central banking. That is, the carbon markets would be overseen by a committee of wise men who could regulate the supply and price of carbon permits just as they’ve done with the money supply.

That makes Dr. Mason nervous, to say the least. Central bankers have seen their image tarnished of late. And carbon markets are even trickier to ride: “Managing a carbon permit market will be far more complex than managing the money supply, which—indeed—is already tremendously complex, leading to cyclical booms and busts…”

Though all eyes—and cries—are currently focused on the health-care skirmish, the Senate is still working on its own version of an energy and climate bill. Next week, Dr. Mason and a spate of other cap-and-trade experts will make their case directly to Sen. Barbara Boxer’s committee on environment and public works.



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


Friday, September 11, 2009


The abiotic oil theory gets a boost. It has long been supported in Russia and the Ukraine -- and one notes the Russian connections of the authors below -- but has had little support in the West. Publication in a major Western journal would however seem to mark a turning point. As I have been pointing out in my sidebar, the claim that oil is a fossil fuel has long been a patent absurdity. I wonder if any of the peak-oilers will ever apologize for their foolish certainty? Unlikely

KTH is an abbreviation of Swedish words meaning "Royal Institute of Technology". It is one of Sweden's largest and oldest universities

Researchers at KTH have been able to prove that the fossils of animals and plants are not necessary to generate raw oil and natural gas. This result is extremely radical as it means that it will be much easier to find these energy sources and that they may be located all over the world. "With the help of our research we even know where oil could be found in Sweden!" says Vladimir Kutcherov, Professor at the KTH Department of Energy Technology in Stockholm.

Together with two research colleagues, Professor Kutcherov has simulated the process of pressure and heat that occurs naturally in the inner strata of the earth's crust. This process generates hydrocarbons, the primary elements of oil and natural gas. According to Vladimir Kutcherov, these results are a clear indication that oil supplies are not drying up, which has long been feared by researchers and experts in the field.

He adds that there is no chance that fossil oils, with the help of gravity or other forces, would have been able to seep down to a depth of 10.5 kilometres in, for example the US state of Texas, which is rich in oil deposits. This is, according to Vladimir Kutcherov, in addition to his own research results, further evidence that this energy sources can occur other than via fossils - something which will cause a lively discussion among researchers for a considerable period of time.

"There is no doubt that our research has shown that raw oil and natural gas occur without the inclusion of fossils. All types of rock formations can act as hosts for oil deposits," asserts Vladimir and adds that this applies to areas of land that have previously remained unexplored as possible sources of this type of energy.

This discovery has several positive aspects. Rate of success as concerns finding oil increases dramatically - from 20 till 70 percent. As drilling for oil and natural gas is an extremely expensive process, costs levels will be radically changed for the petroleum companies and eventually also for the end user. "This means savings of many billions of kronor," says Vladimir.

In order to identify where it is worth drilling for natural gas and oil, Professor Kutcherov has, via his research, developed a new method. The world is divided into a fine-meshed grid. This grid is the equivalent of cracks, known as migration channels, through strata underlying the earth's crust. Good places to drill are where these cracks meet.

According to Professor Kutcherov, these research results are extremely important not least as 61 percent of the world's energy consumption is currently based on raw oil and natural gas. The next stage in this research is more experiments, especially to refine the method that makes it easier to locate drilling points for oil and natural gas.

The research results produced by Vladimir Kutcherov, Anton Kolesnikov and Alexander Goncharov were recently published in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience, Volume 2, August.


Journal abstract follows:

Methane-derived hydrocarbons produced under upper-mantle conditions

By Anton Kolesnikov et al.

There is widespread evidence that petroleum originates from biological processes1, 2, 3. Whether hydrocarbons can also be produced from abiogenic precursor molecules under the high-pressure, high-temperature conditions characteristic of the upper mantle remains an open question. It has been proposed that hydrocarbons generated in the upper mantle could be transported through deep faults to shallower regions in the Earth's crust, and contribute to petroleum reserves4, 5. Here we use in situ Raman spectroscopy in laser-heated diamond anvil cells to monitor the chemical reactivity of methane and ethane under upper-mantle conditions. We show that when methane is exposed to pressures higher than 2 GPa, and to temperatures in the range of 1,000-1,500 K, it partially reacts to form saturated hydrocarbons containing 2-4 carbons (ethane, propane and butane) and molecular hydrogen and graphite. Conversely, exposure of ethane to similar conditions results in the production of methane, suggesting that the synthesis of saturated hydrocarbons is reversible. Our results support the suggestion that hydrocarbons heavier than methane can be produced by abiogenic processes in the upper mantle.

Nature Geoscience 2, 566 - 570 (2009), 26 July 2009


It's all bad news for the peak-oil freaks

The potential of Brazil to become one of the biggest oil producers in the world was highlighted today when BG - the former exploration arm of British Gas - reported a "supergiant" field with up to two billion barrels of recoverable reserves.

The Guara discovery builds on a series of other major successes in very deep waters off Brazil and dwarfs rival strikes such as Tiber in the US Gulf which was announced with great fanfare by BP last week.

The Brazilian oil rush not only undermines claims that the world may run out of oil soon but threatens to upset the political balance in Latin America where Hugo Chávez's Venezuela has held sway as the continent's dominant energy provider.

The BG find comes as the Brazilian government proposes laws that will tighten its grip on its newfound oil wealth through a state-owned management company.

Frank Chapman, the BG chief executive, could not hide his excitement about the latest results emanating from appraisal drilling of the Guara area. He said: "The well-test results on Guara were excellent and underscore again the potential in BG Group's extensive position in the world-class Santos Basin."

Chapman has never before given a figure for the size of Guara's reserves which are on par with fields like Forties, the biggest find in the North Sea. Neither has he commented on Tupi, in which BG also has a stake, where operator Petrobras has talked about recoverable reserves of between five and eight billion barrels.



As CEO of Delek Drilling, an Israeli oil and gas exploration company, Zvi Greenfeld is a self-proclaimed optimist in an extremely risky business. But even Greenfeld was taken aback by the news on Aug. 11 that the huge natural gas reserves off the country's central and northern Mediterranean coast discovered by Delek and its partners in January are 16% bigger than estimated just one month ago. Independent energy experts reckon this once energy-poor country now has enough natural gas to meet its needs for the next two decades and may ultimately even transform itself into an energy exporter.

The discovery has raised hopes of further gas finds in a region that to date has been largely unexplored.


But Britian's socialist government is bent on Britain's destruction -- as usual

As many as 900 million barrels of UK oil reserves could end up abandoned unless ageing fields are exempted from carbon trading, according to one of the industry's most senior figures.

John Manzoni, president and chief executive of Talisman Energy, told the Offshore Europe conference in Aberdeen that plans to extend the European carbon trading scheme to such fields would make them uneconomic. He estimated that this might force Talisman to abandon 50 million barrels-worth of reserves.

He said: "Older fields have higher costs with relatively low throughputs, even though they still have significant oil in place... If we have to buy carbon permits it will result in earlier abandonment."

As part of a volley of calls for looser regulation at the conference, which previously drew veiled criticism from First Minister Alex Salmond, Manzoni said his company was already investing overseas rather than in UK territorial waters because he could get "better rates of return".

Sir Ian Wood, chairman of John Wood Group, told an audience that the UK government could be missing out on a share of a £1 trillion prize unless it improved the regulatory regime. He warned tax revenues from the remaining 13 billion to 25 billion barrels of North Sea reserves would be unlikely to be extracted as things stood, comparing his industry with the "huge subsidies" received by the renewable sector.

On the basis that the lower-estimate 13 billion barrels would sell at an average $100 (£60) each, he said: "That's $1300bn over 20 or 30 or 40 years. I am going to repeat that: $1300bn of economic activity to the UK over the next period. That's something that has to be a priority [for the government] given the economic crisis."



The great petroleum geologist Wallace Pratt famously said that "Oil is found in the minds of men." Discoveries depend on visionary theory, technical innovation and commitment to risky drilling. Plus luck. Peak Oil theory, by contrast - which asserts that global oil production has, or soon will, peak, and that this has powerful policy implications - is found in the limitations of the minds of men. It is less geological theory than unevolved intellectual shortcoming, although it certainly has its political uses.

The fruits of the "greatest resource," as economist Julian Simon dubbed the human mind, appeared yet again this week with the announcement by BP that it had found a "giant" field at unprecedented depth in the Gulf of Mexico, an area that twenty years ago was regarded as played out. By contrast, the limitations and conceits that characterize Peak Oil were nicely summed up by a report on BP's find in the leftist British newspaper, The Guardian.

According to that report, BP's Tiber well, and another recent huge find in Iran, "have encouraged skeptics of theories which say that peak production has been reached, or soon will be, to hail a new golden age of exploration and supply."

Note how the use of the term "skeptics" suggests that Peak Oil is the mainstream view, which it is not. The word also links unbelievers to beyond-the-pale climate change "skeptics." Finally, the report suggests that these people are suggesting a "golden age of exploration and supply" although in fact the only relevant quote is from Peter Odell, professor emeritus of international energy studies at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, who merely says, "It's an amazing turnaround from the gloom of the last 10 years. All these finds will take a long time to bring on stream, but it shows the industry is capable of finding more oil than it uses and shows we have not come to any peak."

Peak Oil theory represents a combination of economic ignorance and moral rejection of markets as greed-driven and short-sighted. These all-too common attitudes usually go with a profound faith in effective government policy, despite the monumental weight of evidence to the contrary.

The seminal image for depletionists - as for apocalyptic climate change theorists - is that of the photo of the Earth taken from Apollo 17; seemingly dramatic confirmation of finite resources on a "small planet." In fact, the interpretation of the Apollo picture is symptomatic of how far technology has outstripped our primitive assumptions about the way the world works. But then people don't have to think about the vast, natural "extended order" of the economy any more than they have to worry about how their spleens work.

Debate between economists and Peak Oilsters tends to be a dialogue of the deaf. Economists often seem to imagine that they are explaining a technical issue. They note that the alleged failure to "replace" production is in fact due to the way reserves are reported. They stress that startling new technologies -- such as the ability to drill in thousands of metres of water to depths of more than 10,000 metres (as at Tiber), or 3-D computer seismic imaging, or horizontal drilling -- are constantly finding new oil and gas, and producing more from old reservoirs.

Again, citing how often alarms over "the end of oil" have been sounded since 1880 holds no sway with Peaksters. Since they see oil supply as essentially "fixed" and economists as deluded and morally deficient, delays in the projected "crunch" will only make it all the more painful when it - inevitably - comes.

Peak Oilsters do not so much refute economics and history as simply ignore them. They are victims of the "psychology of taboo," which prevents them from assessing markets objectively. For example, leading Peakster Matt Simmons has described the market as a "500-pound wrecking ball" and Adam Smith's invisible hand as an instrument of strangulation!

Meanwhile it is not just The Guardian that has an unconscious depletionist slant. One tic that has crept into reporting new finds, or prospects, is to claim that they will "only" supply the world for so many days, or weeks, or months. Even The Wall Street Journal noted that Tiber, if it yielded a billion barrels of oil, would "only" supply the world for two weeks. So does this mean that BP shouldn't bother to proceed?

Yet another way of playing on the limitations of human thinking is to note that "four new Saudi Arabias" will be needed to meet projected global demand in 2030, as if supply and demand were independent phenomena, or such a projection's sheer inconceivability should reflect on the projection rather than on the limits of what most ordinary humans can conceive.

Yet another revealing Peak Oil trope is that the "easy" oil has been found, as if it was easier to drill in a remote, muddy areas of Pennsylvania with rigs brought in by donkeys 150 years ago than it is to drill from a high-tech drill ship (although it certainly is more expensive. A single Gulf well can cost US$200 million).

There are indeed major supply issues. Much of global supply is controlled by governments. Emerging economies, in particular China, have caused a surge in demand. Meannwhile the whole world is engaged in policy hysteria over climate change (which suggests that oil can't run out soon enough). But a free market will provide all the incentive needed to entrepreneurs and innovators to promote energy innovation. More important, there simply is no alternative. The record of government-guided technology - outside war - is overwhelmingly disastrous, from Jimmy Carter's Synfuels to the current wind, solar and ethanol boondoggles.

The oil industry, by contrast, is constantly producing new wonders. In a piece in the latest Foreign Policy magazine, oil historian and consultant Daniel Yergin notes that, "Again and again, in researching oil's history, I was struck by how seemingly insurmountable barriers and obstacles were overcome by technological progress, often unanticipated."

With regard to Peak Oil, Mr. Yergin points out that his own firm's analysis of 800 of the world's largest oil fields "indicates that the resource endowment of the planet is sufficient to keep up with demand for decades to come." Only governments can stand in the way. Supported by our misconceptions.



The European Union has scaled back plans to give billions of euros to poor countries to persuade them to help battle climate change, putting pressure on developing nations to raise their own contributions to a post-Kyoto agreement later this year.

Funding from rich nations to the developing world has emerged as the main stumbling block to progress in climate negotiations ahead of international talks in Copenhagen in December. Ethiopia warned last week that Africa would veto any deal at Copenhagen that was not generous enough.

The 27-country EU is trying to find unity on its contribution to break the impasse. The bloc indicated last week that it might pay 13-24 billion euros annually to the developing world by 2020 to help with a total bill of around 100 billion euros (EurActiv 08/09/09).

But that contribution was lowered earlier this week to 2-15 billion euros, according to a draft European Commission report obtained by Reuters on Tuesday. The numbers are due to be finalised by Thursday and could change again before then.

"We welcome the fact they've put concrete numbers on the table but the figures are too low," said Greenpeace campaigner Joris den Blanken. "There's no time for such political games," he added. "We only have three weeks left of active negotiations."

Much of the reduction in funding came after the EU changed its view of how emissions reductions from industry and power stations should be funded in the developing world.

Around 80-90% of those emissions cuts would be made via improvements in energy efficiency, which would pay for themselves and should therefore be financed by local businesses, the Commission report said.



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


Thursday, September 10, 2009

BRITISH PLANS TO PRICE THE POOR OUT OF FLYING -- From a Labour Party government!

Does Leftist hypocrisy know no bounds? Passengers face new tax to halt rise in air travel

Tens of billions of pounds will have to be raised through flight taxes to compensate developing countries for the damage air travel does to the environment, according to the Government’s advisory body on climate change. Ticket prices should rise steadily over time to deter air travel and ensure that carbon dioxide emissions from aviation fall back to 2005 levels, the Committee on Climate Change says. It believes that airlines should be forced to share the burden of meeting Britain’s commitment to an 80 per cent cut in emissions by 2050.

The Times has learnt that it may challenge the Government’s decision to approve a third runway at Heathrow, suggesting that this would be inconsistent with that commitment. The committee was established under last year’s Climate Change Act. It has a strong influence on government policy and proposed the 80 per cent target accepted by ministers.

It says that initially the cost per passenger of compensating for climate change would be small but would rise over time and eventually reach a level that would put people off flying. Industry estimates suggest that the average passenger would pay less than £10 extra per return ticket when aviation joins the EU emissions trading scheme in 2012. This would depend on the price of allowances to emit CO2, which is expected to rise over time.

The committee proposes a global cap on aviation emissions, with airlines required to buy allowances, and that the revenue generated should be given to developing countries to help them to adapt to climate change — for example, by building flood defences to cope with rising sea levels.

In a letter to the Government published today, the committee says that an increase in global temperatures is inevitable and that developed countries must pay for the consequences. It says that the EU trading scheme does not go far enough and could result in airlines making windfall profits.



A new global treaty on climate change hinges on China and India agreeing to limit their CO2 emissions but it is unclear whether they will do so, Denmark's climate and energy minister said. Connie Hedegaard, who is a key mediator in the talks to find a successor to the Kyoto Treaty, said western nations must agree to pay to help poorer countries cut emissions. However, this will not be enough to get a deal at a United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen in December, or to solve the problem of global warming. "We must have all major emerging economies on board," she told the Offshore Europe oil conference on Tuesday, adding it remained "open" whether China and India would agree to curbs.

Scientists say industrialized nations are largely to blame for the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere but developing nations are expected to be major contributors in the future. China has already nudged ahead of the United States to become the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide, increasing the pressure on China to limit future emissions. "We will have to have a deviation from business as usual by China," Hedegaard said. China needs to identify a date by which its emissions would start to fall, the minister said, adding this date should not be too distant. "The sooner the better," she said.

Climate change is expected to be on the agenda of the G20 meeting of the leaders of the world's largest economies in Pittsburgh later this month. Hopes for progress at Pittsburgh were dented last weekend by the refusal of China and India to even debate measures to tackle global warming at the G20 finance ministers meeting in London.

Hedegaard said she hoped leaders of rich nations would agree at Pittsburgh to provide "upfront" financing to tackle climate change. In recent months, developed nations have increasingly spoken of using market mechanisms such as "cap and trade" programs, whereby polluters pay to emit CO2, to meet the bill of tackling climate change. Governments like these plans as they shift the bill away from state coffers to the private sector -- companies and individuals.

Emerging nations are suspicious rich that countries are using these mechanisms to avoid paying the full amount needed to tackle climate change.


Windmills Are Killing Our Birds

One standard for oil companies, another for green energy sources

On Aug. 13, ExxonMobil pleaded guilty in federal court to killing 85 birds that had come into contact with crude oil or other pollutants in uncovered tanks or waste-water facilities on its properties. The birds were protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which dates back to 1918. The company agreed to pay $600,000 in fines and fees.

ExxonMobil is hardly alone in running afoul of this law. Over the past two decades, federal officials have brought hundreds of similar cases against energy companies. In July, for example, the Oregon-based electric utility PacifiCorp paid $1.4 million in fines and restitution for killing 232 eagles in Wyoming over the past two years. The birds were electrocuted by poorly-designed power lines.

Yet there is one group of energy producers that are not being prosecuted for killing birds: wind-power companies. And wind-powered turbines are killing a vast number of birds every year. A July 2008 study of the wind farm at Altamont Pass, Calif., estimated that its turbines kill an average of 80 golden eagles per year. The study, funded by the Alameda County Community Development Agency, also estimated that about 10,000 birds—nearly all protected by the migratory bird act—are being whacked every year at Altamont.

Altamont's turbines, located about 30 miles east of Oakland, Calif., kill more than 100 times as many birds as Exxon's tanks, and they do so every year. But the Altamont Pass wind farm does not face the same threat of prosecution, even though the bird kills at Altamont have been repeatedly documented by biologists since the mid-1990s.

The number of birds killed by wind turbines is highly variable. And biologists believe Altamont, which uses older turbine technology, may be the worst example. But that said, the carnage there likely represents only a fraction of the number of birds killed by windmills. Michael Fry of the American Bird Conservancy estimates that U.S. wind turbines kill between 75,000 and 275,000 birds per year. Yet the Justice Department is not bringing cases against wind companies. "Somebody has given the wind industry a get-out-of-jail-free card," Mr. Fry told me. "If there were even one prosecution," he added, the wind industry would be forced to take the issue seriously.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, the industry's trade association, each megawatt of installed wind-power results in the killing of between one and six birds per year. At the end of 2008, the U.S. had about 25,000 megawatts of wind turbines.

By 2030, environmental and lobby groups are pushing for the U.S. to be producing 20% of its electricity from wind. Meeting that goal, according to the Department of Energy, will require the U.S. to have about 300,000 megawatts of wind capacity, a 12-fold increase over 2008 levels. If that target is achieved, we can expect some 300,000 birds, at the least, to be killed by wind turbines each year.

On its Web site, the Wind Energy Association says that bird kills by wind turbines are a "very small fraction of those caused by other commonly accepted human activities and structures—house cats kill an estimated one billion birds annually." That may be true, but it is not much of a defense. When cats kill birds, federal law doesn't require marching them to our courthouses to hold them responsible.

During the late 1980s and early '90s, Rob Lee was one of the Fish and Wildlife Service's lead law-enforcement investigators on the problem of bird kills in Western oil fields. Now retired and living in Lubbock, Texas, Mr. Lee tells me that solving the problem in the oil fields "was easy and cheap." The oil companies only had to put netting over their tanks and waste facilities.

Why aren't wind companies prosecuted for killing eagles and other birds? "The fix here is not easy or cheap," Mr. Lee told me. He added that he doesn't expect to see any prosecutions of the politically correct wind industry. This is a double standard that more people—and not just bird lovers—should be paying attention to. In protecting America's wildlife, federal law-enforcement officials are turning a blind eye to the harm done by "green" energy.


Black Activist to Speak Out on Climate Bill at Rally on Philadelphia's Independence Mall

As liberal lawmakers return to Washington hoping to enact new cap-and-trade climate change regulations that essentially are a massive new energy tax, Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli will be joining an expected crowd of thousands to voice grassroots opposition to cap-and-trade in Philadelphia. Borelli is scheduled to speak at the "Cost of Hot Air" rally to be held on Independence Mall in downtown Philadelphia September 9 beginning at 4:00 PM.

"Cap-and-trade legislation is a sure way to enslave all Americans by reducing our standard of living through higher energy costs and higher unemployment," said Borelli. "With the economy suffering and unemployment rising, this is the worst time to consider an energy tax. By pursuing cap-and-trade, President Obama and his legislative allies are once again demonstrating their willingness to put left-wing ideology before the needs of the American people. For this very reason, we need to make our voices heard and demand a representative government."

The rally is located near the local offices of Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA), who is planning to hold hearings in Washington on climate change legislation as early as September 9.

Borelli is a long-time critic of cap-and-trade climate regulation intended to lower fossil fuel emissions by driving up their cost and availability. She is the author of the recent commentary "Cap-and-Trade is a Ball-and-Chain for Poor Americans," available here.

In 2007, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that "most of the cost of meeting a cap on [carbon dioxide] emissions would be borne by consumers, who would face persistently higher prices for products such as electricity and gasoline... [and] poorer households would bear a larger burden relative to their income than wealthier households would."

A recent report by CRA International suggested cap-and-trade legislation would reduce national GDP by roughly $350 billon below the baseline level and destroy 2.5 million jobs per year while reduce earnings for the average U.S. worker by $390 annually.

A nationwide poll of black Americans conducted for the National Center for Public Policy Research by Wilson Research Strategies found that 76 percent of blacks want Congress to make economic recovery, not climate change, its top priority. The poll also found 56 percent of black Americans believe economic and quality of life concerns of the black community are not adequately considered by policymakers when addressing climate issues.

The "Cost of Hot Air" rally is a project of Americans for Prosperity. Borelli participated in a similar rally at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on September 8.


A rubbish idea in Britain

Yesterday saw the start of a new trial in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead designed to encourage recycling. Under this scheme, households will ‘earn’ vouchers to be used in local stores with each kilogram of waste that they recycle. 3,800 bins have been fitted with microchips in order to weigh household trash. There are several reasons why this trial seems somewhat idiotic.

Firstly, the council is trying to encourage its occupants to act in a ‘socially useful’ way, yet the scheme could well promote the opposite. By rewarding people for recycling as much as possible, it lowers the incentive for people to choose goods with less packaging. This distorts the market signals sent to shops and manufacturers that prompt them to cut down on unnecessary wrapping. If this were adopted nationwide, it would limit the way in which society reduces waste directly.

Such a system can be easily exploited by the placement of heavy, non-recyclable objects inside the chipped bin. While a spokesman for the trail claimed “rewards are much more effective than fines, which are complicated and expensive to administer”, the council still needs to monitor the programme, which it proposes to do with on the spot checks and the withdrawal of access to vouchers - which is likely to be costly and unproductive.

This leads on to another issue: the cost of it all. Where is the funding for this scheme coming from? Landfill tax stands at £40 a tonne and a household can earn up to £130 a year through this trial, and so the setup, maintenance and payouts of the scheme can hardly be achieved through the reduction in rubbish arriving in landfill.

No, the answer is that the money will be coming out of council tax, so in effect households will be rewarding themselves for their own good behaviour. In fact, some will be rewarding the daily life of others; those with less recycling to be done such as the elderly will be subsidising payouts to families who inevitably consume and therefore throw out more.

Once you add this to the fact that the scheme forces the residents of Windsor & Maidenhead to have their recycling movements stored on an online database (what will we have monitored next, the frequency of our showers to reduce water consumption?), it can be seen that this scheme basically stinks.


Australia: Another public transport outrage

Another example of how governments get people out of their cars. Bus driver couldn't change $20 so leaves schoolboy behind on the road. How odd that so many drivers don't know of a government "policy" that says they must not do that? Is it a policy mentioned only in hushed whispers or in fine print? Any wonder why I drove my son to school when he was a kid?

A 14-YEAR-OLD schoolboy has been left behind on a semi-rural road by a Brisbane bus because the driver refused to break a $20 note. The incident was the second serious case in a month for Brisbane Transport after a 10-year-old girl was left stranded in Mt Gravatt.

The boy's father, Nick Smith, told The Courier-Mail he had dropped his son Joshua off on Meadowlands Rd at Carina early last month, with a $20 note to pay for his week of bus trips to school. But the boy, who was dressed in school uniform, was told by the driver he would have to leave the bus because there was not enough spare change to break the note.

"He had a $20 note and then the driver said to him that he couldn't change the note and that he had to get off the bus," Mr Smith said. "I had to pick him up and then take him down to Cannon Hills bus terminal ... but where he was on Meadowlands Rd there are no shops or things close to hand for him to get change. "Being in full school uniform, showing his ID and being of a relatively minor age, I felt it was extremely disappointing that the decision was made not to let him on, given the problems that we have had in the past."

Both TransLink and Brisbane City Council have a "no child left behind" policy, which states that children of school-age or younger cannot be left behind by buses regardless of whether they are carrying the sufficient fare.

Mr Smith said his wife had rung TransLink to complain, and was told the driver had the right to refuse entry if passengers were not carrying the correct fare. "Initially when we complained, my wife actually rang them and they said, 'Look, passengers do have to tender the right change – there is a sign on the bus'," he said.

"If it was an adult, or if he was abusive or the behaviour was not appropriate you would understand but he did nothing wrong, he was very upset, very shaken and quite disappointed that he wasn't allowed to get on the bus."

A spokesman for TransLink said yesterday incidents of children being left behind were "very serious" and the driver had been disciplined but not sacked. "In this instance, following a thorough investigation by Brisbane Transport and TransLink, the driver involved has been disciplined and counselled and an apology has been issued to the child's parent," he said.

Public and Active Transport chair Jane Prentice said a memo had been sent to council drivers, reminding them of the "no child left behind policy". "I understand the latest incident was after we sent the alert but the bottom line is that it is not acceptable behaviour."



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


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

More Greenie fraud

The Green/Left have always seen truth as being optional. And they get away with so much fraud that you almost can't blame them. Excerpts only below

“Dire Predictions” by Michael Mann and Lee Kump, sets out to provide an illustrated guide to the findings of the IPCC. It is a relatively simple volume, full of the promised pictures, small graphs to illustrate points and condensed comments on the different aspects of the climate change debate. In short it is the sort of text that might be provided to a class in the United States to help them understand the prevailing arguments about climate change.

It has some nice initial illustrations of the way in which climate is generated that are easy to follow and which are therefore initially persuasive. But my eye was caught, from the beginning by the different graphs that are scattered throughout the chapters. I was a bit surprised by the first graph, since it didn’t quite look like the graph of the temperature plots given by NOAA, so after looking at the two separately:

You can see quite a difference in the curves around 1940 – the actual peak back then has disappeared from Dr. Mann’s graph and if I superimpose them you can see how a fluctuating temperature record has been smoothed. (The heavy black line comes from the Mann and Kump curve)

The difference is more than subtle – the peak and stable or declining temperatures between 1940 and 1970 have been magically eliminated. But wait, those of you who have read the book respond – he puts a more detailed temperature plot on page 36.

But if you look at this figure – relative to the official plot you can see that while the official temperature is “debatably” flat in the official record, here the plot is steadily increasing from 1950.

Skipping forward through the book, let me pick out one more graph that caught my attention – the regional trends shown on Figure 71.

Again I won’t bother superimposing the pictures, but you can see that the trends that are actually occurring don’t quite follow the curves in the book. Having discovered which there really isn’t much point in continuing reading it, since it takes such liberties with easily verifiable figures, one is wondering what else has been “quietly adjusted” to make the facts more supportive of the argument.

Now it isn’t as though I completely agree with the official figures, given the corrections that have been imposed on the initial raw data, and that, as a result, trends appear that weren’t there before the “tweaking.’ But I do think that this book is taking the trend of “adjusting” the data just a bit too far in the process of making a point. There comes a point where this stops being Science and becomes Propaganda.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

The next Greenie tyranny: Personal carbon trading

Excerpt below from a Greenie site. I see that their wisdom does not extend to knowing the difference between "muted" and "mooted"

A report published by the IPPR next week will say personal carbon trading may be the next step in tackling climate change. This week saw the launch of the 10:10 campaign by Age of Stupid film director Franny Armstrong, hailed as a real opportunity to re-engage individuals with the task of reducing domestic CO2 emissions.

To coincide with the launch, the Guardian commissioned a poll, presumably hoping to show people’s willingness to accept carbon reduction measures. But looking closely at the figures reveals instead the public’s resistance to some forms of carbon pricing. Although 85 per cent of respondents accepted the threat of climate change, just 33 per cent were willing to accept something like a pay per mile road charging scheme.

So if the necessary carbon reductions cannot be made through voluntary measures will it soon be time to reconsider compulsory carbon allowances? Despite initial enthusiasm for a Personal Carbon Allowance (PCA) from former Environment Secretary David Miliband, Government support has now waned. Under such a scheme, every individual would be given a set allocation of carbon credits, which they could use to 'pay' for purchases like home energy usage and petrol. Those with low carbon usage would be able to sell their surplus credits on a carbon market, whilst those with high carbon consumption levels would have to buy credits.

Having initially muted [mooted?] the idea, Defra then just as quickly dismissed it. A report published in 2008 said it was too costly. An RSA trial published at the end of 2008 has since contradicted this judgement saying it would be, ‘relatively quick and easy to automatically capture and report personal carbon emissions for all UK citizens.’

But, David’s brother Ed Miliband who took over the climate change brief last year indicated it was more about public acceptability, saying it was ‘an idea for the longer term’.

More HERE. Similar proposals are gaining momentum in Germany too.

Signs of recent Ice Age noted on Mars

How odd that both Earth and Mars have recently (in geological time) come out of an ice age! It wouldn't be that pesky old sun that is responsible for global temperature variations on both planets, would it?

Mars has appparently undergone a recent Ice Age, scientists say. Researchers drew the conclusion based on the distribution of ice at and slightly below ground level near the Red Planet's polar regions. Two hypotheses have been suggested to explain this ice: that it fell there as precipitation during recent ice ages, or that water vapor spread through the surface rocks, gravel and soil.

To find out which alternative was correct, Samuel C. Schon of Brown University in Rhode Island and colleagues used data from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, an imaging instrument aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. The group examined the structure of exposed subsurface Martian terrain. The researchers noticed that the terrain features layered deposits many meters (yards) thick that stretch over many hundreds of meters.

They suggest that climate variations are most likely the source of this stratification. The layers probably formed as dust, ice, and snow were deposited on the ground during recent ice ages, which occurred during periods when Mars's axis of rotation was more tilted than usual, the scientists argued. Vapor diffusion would be unlikely to result in the layered structure, they added.

They note that the observations also suggest that significant subsurface ice may remain in the 3050 degrees midlatitude regions. The findings were published Aug. 6 online in the research journal Geophysical Research Letters.


Hilarious! "Big oil" proving how evil they are again. They are PRODUCING and constructively using that hated CO2

But wait a minute! They are pumping it into the ground! A lot of Greenies want to do that too! Don't hold your breath waiting for a meeting of minds on the matter, though

Rising oil prices are prompting costly efforts to enhance production from marginal reservoirs, using methods such as carbon-dioxide flooding to boost oil production. In response, suppliers are investing in or making plans for new CO2 wells, pipelines, compression facilities and other infrastructure.

“We are certainly seeing opportunities in this emerging market,” says Rob Smith, senior vice president of energy, chemicals and industrial at CH2M Hill, Denver, which is performing front-end engineering design for several CO2-related projects.

Most activity is centered around oil fields in Texas and major CO2 fields in Colorado, Mississippi and Louisiana. “It’s still a relatively small part of our portfolio at this point, but it’s growing significantly. We have recently seen several requests-for-proposals related to the CO2 market,” says Smith.

Major CO2 producers such as Kinder Morgan LLC and Denbury Resources Inc., both of Houston, indicate new investments for expansion and new construction of CO2 drilling and transportation infrastructure this year and next.

Denbury plans to invest $700 million to construct a 314-mile, 24-in. pipeline to pump CO2 from fields near Donaldson, La., to the Hastings oil field near Houston. Kinder Morgan is investing in CO2 drilling and transport operations in southern Colorado, with plans to expand infrastructure, such as new pressurization and dehydration facilities along its 504-mile CO2 pipeline from Cortez, Colo., to the Permian Basin oil fields in western Texas. The $200-million expansion includes more than a dozen new CO2 wells, and 10 miles of added pipeline.

Among oil producers “there is a tremendous push to convert from water flooding to CO2 flooding,” says Tim Bradley, president of Kinder Morgan. “Right now, there is big activity in the market in oil fields in Texas, Wyoming and Mississippi.”

Oil producers pump CO2 deep into oil fields, where the gas mixes with and swells the crude, decreasing its viscosity and enabling it flow more freely, greatly increasing recovery over the traditional water-flooding method. Doug McMurray, Kinder Morgan’s vice president of minerals business, points to examples of oil wells where production was increased by as much as 20,000 barrels per day through CO2 flooding. “There are formerly dead fields in Mississippi where wells had dried up that are now able to produce up to 4,000 barrels per day with CO2 flooding,” McMurray says.

“There is a lot of interest in CO2 happening quickly,” says Roy Long, oil and gas exploration and production technology manager at the National Energy Technol-ogy Laboratory, Morgantown, W.Va. Not only the major producers want CO2,“small oil operations in Oklahoma are having CO2 shipped in by truck,” he says.

Driven by concern over climate change, the growing interest in CO2 has sparked a rush of research for technology to make commercial use of industrial CO2, Long says. “There are still challenges to making industrial CO2 emissions viable, but there have been some promising developments in capturing CO2 from natural-gas and coal-gasification operations,” Long says.

Kinder Morgan and Denbury both operate facilities to separate CO2 from natural-gas processing facilities. Alstom Energy Inc., Windsor, Conn., has several pilot projects for a chilled-ammonia process that can be retrofitted to coal plants to capture CO2.

CO2 costs about $2 to $3 per thousand cu ft, according to NETL. “It has become a valuable commodity,” Long says. Extracting CO2 from coal gasification plants “is still currently cost-restrictive to commercial viability, but time will tell how quickly industry and technology will respond.”


British mayor poo-poos global warming 'scam'

Mayor Peter Davies has urged local residents to halt plans for wind farms 'blocking out sunlight' and encourages driving as we are 'in the age of the car'

The newly elected mayor of Doncaster has described global warming as a "scam", posing a direct challenge to the town's MP, climate change cabinet minister Ed Miliband. While Miliband pursued international diplomacy in India, ahead of December's crucial climate change summit in Copenhagen, mayor Peter Davies urged local residents to use the law to halt the building of wind farms whose effects he said included "blocking of sunlight". On hearing of Davies's intervention, Miliband replied immediately on Twitter: "Disgrace given the science and the scale of the threat."

Davies's comments came in a statement issued earlier this week making clear to voters where he stood on forthcoming plans to erect wind farms in the Doncaster region. Davies, who represents the English democrat party, made clear neither he nor his council had a role in the decision-making process but said; "These [wind farm] developments have little or no benefit in terms of contributing to decreased energy consumption, nor do they have any beneficial effect on the planet's climate in response to the great global warming scam."

Davies went on: "I would certainly not want one of these monstrosities anywhere near my property, nor do I want to see them blotting the landscape of the English countryside and waterways and causing grief and concern to local people in terms of noise and the blocking of sunlight. "I therefore urge the public to oppose these developments through legal means provided so that good old-fashioned English justice and common sense may prevail."

Davies was elected in June with 25,344 votes as mayor and his cabinet oversees the carbon intensive portfolio of transport. In a recent newspaper interview he suggested he wanted to encourage car use within Doncaster, saying it would boost business. "Like it or not," he told the Daily Mail, "we live in the age of the car". Under his stewardship, Doncaster council has announced plans for more parking spaces and a review of bus-only routes. Doncaster's town centre is currently pedestrianised.

Since entering office he has cut his own salary by 60% from £73,000 to £30,000; given up the use of a chauffeured mayoral car and abolished the council's free newspaper.

In a full statement, Miliband said the greatest threat to Doncaster's natural environment was climate change not wind turbines. Miliband has previously said in March that opposing wind farms should become as socially unacceptable as failing to wear a seatbelt.



"Probably," Norman Mailer wrote in 1957, "we will never be able to determine the psychic havoc of the concentration camps and the atom bomb upon the unconscious mind of almost everyone alive in these years." Today, however, we have something like an answer: We are living in an age of catastrophic thinking. Our social and cultural discourse on any number of subjects-the environment, the economy, public health, technology-is defined by a vocabulary and a worldview that can only be described as apocalyptic. The world, we are constantly told, is in a state of mortal crisis, and unless we act fast enough to stop it, we are all facing disaster and oblivion. Everything, it seems, is swiftly accelerating toward a terrible end.

While catastrophic thinking has become ubiquitous on any number of issues, it is nowhere more apparent than on the subject of the environment, especially the topic of global warming. Of course, this appears most explicitly among the various groups specifically dedicated to the cause of environmentalism, but the sentiment has already become a worldwide phenomenon. Perhaps its most famous exponent, former United States vice president Al Gore, used explicitly apocalyptic language to describe the problem in his Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth.

Global warming, however, is only the most popular vehicle for prophecies of environmental disaster. Overpopulation, we are told, will soon cause unprecedented starvation, war, crime, and mass extinctions. And chemical pollution, for its part, is said to affect the hormonal makeup of our bodies, resulting in the "feminization" of the species, so that sooner or later we will produce only female offspring, and the human race will lose its capacity to reproduce. [...]

These various examples of apocalyptic anxiety may at first seem unrelated. In fact, they are remarkably similar. All of them predict a coming global disaster; all of them use ominous rhetoric and imagery to give weight to their prognostications; and all of them claim that mankind has only a very short time left to take action in order to prevent the cataclysm they are sure is coming. In light of this, one cannot help but wonder how and why catastrophic thinking has become such a prevalent feature of our day and age-and what effect this new zeitgeist may have on our lives. [...]

Certainly, fear of impending disaster is usually seen as a negative emotion. In fact, however, it has unquestionably positive aspects. First and perhaps foremost, it is exciting. In a world given over to comfort and entertainment, in which we are more and more interconnected while having less and less to say, fear provides a profound antidote to boredom and stasis. It motivates people and convinces them that their lives are important and meaningful.

This is especially true if catastrophic thinking is combined-as it almost always is-with the belief that the disaster can be averted. All of today's popular apocalyptic scenarios make the claim that if we act now, and above all act together, there is a chance of preventing the end. The task of prevention, in turn, provides a sense of purpose, however misguided it may be. Moreover, it gives people the feeling that they have power over their surroundings, that they can influence the world around them for the better through conscious action. In many ways, this bears a strong resemblance to the religious impulse, especially in its need to proselytize.

It also serves to ameliorate another universal source of distress: the sense of alienation that haunts the modern world. Indeed, Dr. Chan reflected this malaise when she spoke of potential disaster as "an opportunity for global solidarity." As she correctly perceived, the fear of a worldwide calamity unites us by putting us all under the same threat and, thus, in the same boat. It provides a very real sense of global brotherhood and the feeling that one really is a part of all humanity. And, it must be said, this feeling is not entirely an illusion. People who join activist groups, political parties, and religious organizations usually do exhibit a communal spirit that is lacking in other aspects of their lives. Even in the face of calamity-perhaps especially so-comradeship can be forged between strangers. Indeed, apocalyptic trepidation may well be the only way that many people today can even conceive of a single destiny for all of mankind.

It is difficult, however, to be entirely sanguine about the phenomenon as it exists today. Panic is not only a cheap and somewhat dishonorable way of motivating people. It is also a dangerous one. Fear, especially irrational fear, can be easily harnessed for nefarious purposes, as the history of the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century amply demonstrates. People in the grip of apocalyptic terror are quite often willing to take extreme measures in order to prevent or even hasten the end they are certain is coming. The enthusiasm generated by catastrophic thinking can motivate people to do good, but it can just as easily give license to evil.

The most harmful aspect of all this, however, is that, while such thinking may bring us closer, in certain ways, to other people, it also fundamentally cuts us off from life. A life lived in fear, after all, is a wretched thing. Constant dread destroys any real possibility of a dynamic, spontaneous existence. That is to say, any life that is truly worth living. As a result, catastrophic thinking leads to a form of psychological oppression that is, perhaps, just as bad as the apathetic, sated mentality it seeks to replace. Real life, if it is to be more than mere existence, requires curiosity and courage. It demands an adventurous spirit. Whether these attributes can survive our current culture of catastrophic thinking is something all of us, for our own good and for others', should be asking ourselves.



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


Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Fair competition or Save the Planet? That could ultimately be at play as China and the West, long at odds over trade in steel, textiles and auto parts, risk being sucked into a row over protectionism in renewable energy equipment such as solar panels.

German solar firms Conergy and Solarworld have voiced strong concern about the pricing practices of Chinese panel makers -- who undercut their German peers' products by around 20 percent. Chinese modules sell in Europe at about 1.70 euros per watt, according to a UBS report. Industry experts say U.S. firms share those German concerns.

Germany's BSW solar industry association is looking into allegations of dumping by Chinese rivals as Conergy rallies support to call on the European Union to examine Chinese pricing tactics. "It cannot be the aim of our environmental and economic policy to lose to the Far East our pioneering role with regard to the last great future technology, which was raised here with great efforts," said Dieter Ammer, CEO at Conergy, Germany's second-biggest solar firm by revenue.

The once red-hot solar sector faces a massive oversupply of cells and modules that has driven down average selling prices for solar systems by more than a fifth in Germany and the United States -- two major solar markets -- and Chinese companies are grabbing market share by slashing costs.



Massive inventory buildup and Chinese competition could put half of all solar manufacturers out of business next year, according to a market research firm. Further, it reports that production has dropped to 27.9 percent of potential capacity in 2009 from 48 percent in 2008. "As many as 50 percent of the more than 200 solar manufacturers, mired in red ink with current selling prices above $2 per watt, may not survive," the report said.



Sun sets on Australian Solar Systems company despite funding promises. A big British windmill factory has just shut up shop too. But I hear that Chinese factories are doing well

AUSTRALIA'S leading solar energy company was placed into the hands of voluntary administrators yesterday and almost all of its 150 staff stood down pending a review to see if the business can be salvaged. PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Stephen Longley and David McEvoy were appointed voluntary administrators of Solar Systems Pty Ltd and two of its subsidiaries just two weeks after 20 per cent stakeholder, the Victorian power utility TRUenergy, wrote down its entire $53 million investment.

Solar Systems had received promises of $129m in funding from federal and state governments to build Australia's first large scale solar power station, a $420m project near Mildura in Victoria. It also had ambitions for 1000MW of large-scale solar installations in Asia, using its unique solar dish technology, at an estimated cost of more than $3 billion, and to become one of the top five global solar energy companies over the next five years.

However, despite mandating Morgan Stanley to seek new funds and bring in new strategic or financial partners, it was unable to attract new finance and TRUenergy decided to cut its losses. It is understood the decision to appoint administrators came after the late withdrawal of two international parties -- one private equity -- from talks about an equity injection of around $50m to $100m.

Mr Longley said he would assess the company's financial and operations position with a view to continuing operations on a reduced scale over the next three months to provide sufficient time to restructure and sell the business as a going concern. He said staff would be advised of their future by the end of the week and a meeting of creditors would be held on September 17.

It is understood Solar Systems has around $56m of secured debt mostly held through some of its shareholders, including TRUenergy, the British financier and founder of Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Martin Copley, and Graeme Morgan, the founder and former owner of financial planning group Sealcorp. Solar Systems' annual report shows that Morgan was the largest shareholder with 30.3million shares, while Copley held 5.5 million. Options given to executives had an exercise price of more than $3 a share. Both are directors of the company. The annual accounts show the company had revenue of just $2.9m, but losses of $21.3m in 2007-08, taking its accumulated losses to $74m.

The recently completed manufacturing facility in Abbotsford, Victoria, which had the capacity to build 500MW of solar PV installations a year, is now on care and maintenance. Development of the Mildura power station, which was not due to begin construction for another 12 months, will also be put on hold.

It is not clear whether any new owner would qualify for the state and federal funding that had been previously committed.


Warmist criticizes impartiality

The BBC gave in to a “ludicrous” concern about impartiality when it dropped a day of programmes intended to raise awareness about energy efficiency and climate change, one of Britain’s most senior scientists says.

Lord May of Oxford, a former President of the Royal Society and government chief scientist, said that the BBC had failed in its public service remit by withdrawing from last year’s Energy Saving Day (E-Day).

The BBC had originally planned to support the initiative to encourage energy conservation by staging Planet Relief, a comedy event modelled on Red Nose Day. It dropped out of the project, however, after a report that raised concerns about taking sides on environmental issues and poor ratings for the Live Earth concert of 2007. E-Day was eventually staged independently last January, without BBC support, but made little public impact. The floodlights of St Paul’s Cathedral in London were turned off to open the event, but it had no effect at all on Britain’s energy consumption.

Lord May blamed the BBC’s withdrawal for the failure of a project that could have done much to encourage individuals to do more to save energy. “Why the BBC pulled the plug is beyond comprehension,” he said. “They said it would have interfered with impartiality, which I find incomprehensible. The idea was there was to be one day where the BBC did an event like Red Nose Day, asking everybody to turn the lights off and be conscious about electricity consumption. The National Grid would monitor it and you could see the impact on a website, and the BBC was going to be in your face about it all day. “The whole idea behind the concept was climate change is real, and there’s a lot the individual can do about it.”

Lord May blamed a “ludicrous report on impartiality”, which had suggested that the BBC ought not to be seen to take sides on climate change issues. The science of climate change, he said, was now so well established that the BBC ought not to see it as a political issue on which it had to be neutral. If it was willing to stage famine and poverty relief events, such as Red Nose Day, it ought to be prepared to do the same thing for environmental causes.

He said that the BBC “seems to take the view that everything is like a soccer game, with two sides. This wouldn’t have been in violation of impartiality at all. There are arguments about the timescale of climate change, but there’s no longer any serious debate that we need to be doing stuff to address it. “This would have been a social service, in much the same way that programmes showing you how to do up your house are a social service.”

The BBC denied that the decision had been based on impartiality. A spokeswoman said: “We explained at the time the reasons why we didn’t go ahead with Planet Relief and that this wasn’t about concern about impartiality but because we had found that audiences responded better to documentaries and factual programming about the issue of climate change. “We regularly cover this subject in our news and online output as well as in factual programmes, for example showing a definitive history of climate change, Earth — The Climate Wars, on BBC Two last year. We are always looking at other ways to cover the issue. For example we are planning a big special on energy consumption later in the year on BBC One.”

Lord May, who is president of the British Science Association, was speaking at the launch of its British Science Festival at the University of Surrey in Guildford yesterday. In his presidential address tonight, Lord May is to say that the world faces several interlocking problems that will require concerted action over the next decades.

As well as climate change, major challenges will include providing food and water for a growing population, and dealing with a huge loss of biodiversity. “In all this, probably the biggest difficulty is that globally co- operative actions are required,” he will say.



President of the British Science Association, Lord May, says faith groups could lead policing of social behaviour

Religious leaders should play a frontline role in mobilising people to take action against global warming, according to a leading scientist. Lord May, a former chief scientist to the government, said religious groups could use their influence to motivate believers into reducing the environmental impact of their lives. The international reach of faith-based organisations and their authoritarian structures give religious groups an almost unrivalled ability to encourage a large proportion of the world's population to go green, he said.

Lord May highlighted the value of religion in uniting communities to tackle environmental challenges ahead of his presidential address to the British Science Association festival at the University of Surrey in Guildford today. He will use the address to raise what Charles Darwin considered one of the great unsolved problems of his time: the evolution of co-operation. While scientists can explain the emergence of co-operative behaviour in small, related groups of animals, understanding co-operation among distant human societies has been more difficult, he said.

May will argue that the puzzle is as pressing today as it was to Darwin 150 years ago, because of the urgent need for global co-operation to tackle the environmental issues of water shortages, greenhouse gas emissions and unsustainable energy consumption. The world's population has risen roughly sevenfold since Darwin's day, with a similar increase in the amount of energy each individual uses. That suggests the ecological footprint of humanity upon the planet has increased fiftyfold since Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859.

"In all of this, probably the biggest difficulty is that globally co-operative actions are required. These difficulties are compounded by the fact that not only must nations co-operate, but - given past history - they must do so in equitable proportions," May will say, according to an advance copy of his address. Experiments using what scientists call "game theory" show that groups of people can achieve their goals if cheats and those who fail to pull their weight are punished.

Speaking before the address, May said religion had historically played a major role in policing social behaviour through the notion of a supernatural "enforcer", a system that could help unify communities to tackle environmental challenges. "How better it is if the punisher is an all-powerful, all-seeing deity," he said.

According to May, humans are causing enough damage to ecosystems that we may have to resort to dramatic engineering projects to replace the roles they play in sustaining the planet, such as stabilising the climate, purifying water and pollinating crops. "Maybe we could be clever enough artificially to engineer substitutes for these lost ecosystem services, although I fear this could see us living, at best, in the world of the cult movie, Blade Runner, and more likely Mad Max," his address states.



HOLLYWOOD loves a movie full of dire predictions about the end of the Earth. Of course global warming has been all the rage with Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth winning an Oscar. Although I did prefer The Day After Tomorrow in which a climatologist, played by Dennis Quad, tried to save the world from abrupt global warming and his son in New York from an ice age.

There is a new movie due for release on October 18, Not Evil Just Wrong, which explores society's interest in Armageddon-type scenarios with a particular focus on the cost, and potential costs, of the policies following concerns about DDT and AGW [anthropogenic global warming].

I was lucky enough to be given a sneak preview of the feature length documentary by Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney last week. The movie is an exploration of the fears and aspirations of an ordinary small town American woman - Tiffany McElhany from Vevay - and her quest to get a message to Al Gore. Interwoven with this story are interviews with some of the most famous climate scientists of our time including James Hansen and Richard Lindzen.

Like McAleer and McElhinney's earlier documentary, Mine Your Own Business, Not Evil Just Wrong is politically incorrect, compelling and spans several continents including Africa while exploring its subject matter with harshness and humour.

Those unfamiliar with the controversies behind the banning of DDT and push to phase out coal as a source of electricity, may find parts of the documentary unbelievable. Hopefully it will move them to follow up with more of their own research.

Sub thematically, the movie investigates our lives as part of a technological and rational society with ordinary people in Africa, Ireland and America wanting to do the right thing by their families, communities and the Earth.

Not surprisingly there have been barriers to the production and distribution of the movie from the mainstream film industry. I say not surprisingly, because the film unashamedly challenges the populist views on AGW, and no one seems to want to hear the debating points. Undeterred McAleer and McElhinney are seeking your help in bypassing these obstacles and inviting you to be part of the premiere night through the hosting of a screening in your home, community centre or church.


Forget 'Peak Oil' — Drill, BP, Drill

Ignoring peak-oil Cassandras, BP has made another giant oil find in the Gulf of Mexico. We're not running out of oil. Our government just doesn't want us to look for it

The world is running out of oil and good riddance. That's the environmentalists' mantra. But since the first well was drilled near Titusville, Pa., 150 years ago, the prophecy has gone unfulfilled. Trouble is, those darn greedy oil companies keep finding the stuff. Oil has been produced in the Gulf of Mexico since the first well was drilled by Kerr-McGee Corp. in 1947. Some of the wells are pretty well played out by now, except that over the past two decades or so, oil explorers began to notice a curious thing. Shallower wells that were thought to be exhausted seemed to be filling up again.

This, and the discovery of vast natural-gas deposits at depths greater than 10,000 feet, mean that either (1) we haven't been drilling deep enough or (2) oil and gas are not finite resources deposited long ago, but rather the result of still-functioning processes deep within the earth. Either way, there's much more to be had. So British Petroleum went looking for it at depths that had never been plumbed. The spot where it hit black gold is in a place called the Tiber Prospect about 250 miles southeast of Houston. The Tiber well was drilled to a depth of 35,055 feet, which is greater than the height of Mount Everest.

BP, whose partners include Conoco Phillips and the Brazilian company Petroleo Brasilero SA, says the discovery may hold as much as 3 billion barrels of oil. That equates to about a year's worth of output from OPEC giant Saudi Arabia. As Bloomberg notes, Tiber is BP's second discovery in three years in a geological formation in the Gulf known as the lower Tertiary that consists of a layer of rocks created 24 million to 65 million years ago. Geologists and engineers didn't know if oil could be recovered at such depths until Chevron drilled a well into its Jack Prospect in 2006. Chevron drilled in 7,000 feet of water and more than 20,000 feet under the sea floor. Its Jack No. 2 well, in deep water 270 miles southwest of New Orleans, tapped a field with perhaps 15 billion barrels of oil.

The U.S. Minerals Management Service says that, all told, offshore areas off-limits to U.S. drilling contain upward of 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The oil is there and oil companies are willing to go after it if we let them. Think of it: American oil creating American jobs while lowering gas prices. Congress, however, continues to place most of the Outer Continental Shelf, the Arctic riches of the Chukchi Sea and ANWR, and the shale-rich Rocky Mountain West off-limits. In other words, it doesn't know Jack.

If Brazil had copied America's current energy policy, it wouldn't have discovered in December 2007 the Tupi field, estimated to contain 5 billion to 8 billon barrels of crude, or its Carioca offshore oil field that may hold up to 33 billion barrels.

Much was made of the U.S. Export-Import Bank sponsoring a $10 billion loan to Brazil's Petrobras to develop its offshore fields. That will help increase the world's oil supply and further disprove the peak oil nonsense. But we need to be doing more in our waters and on our land.

The BP project shows that our resources may be limited only by technology and will. It shows the kind of expensive technology required and what oil companies do with their profits — look for more oil. Drilling seven miles into the seabed is not what you do when, as the anti-oil crowd often charges, you are hoarding supplies to drive up prices.



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


Monday, September 07, 2009

Science and the Left

Some excerpts below from a long and leisurely 2008 article by Yuval Levin. He makes good points but he could be more cynical. I would summarize his whole article in one sentence: The Left champion science the way they champion everything: When it suits them -- JR

A casual observer of American politics in recent years could be forgiven for imagining that the legitimacy of scientific inquiry and empirical knowledge are under assault by the right, and that the left has mounted a heroic defense. Science is constantly on the lips of Democratic politicians and liberal activists, and is generally treated by them as a vulnerable and precious inheritance being pillaged by Neanderthals.

"For six and a half years under President Bush," Senator Hillary Clinton told an audience in October 2007, "it has been open season on open inquiry." Senator Edward Kennedy, in an April 2007 speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, bemoaned the many ways in which "the truth is taking a beating" under conservative influence in Washington. One popular recent book on the subject is entitled The Republican War on Science; another, by former vice president and Nobel laureate Al Gore, is called The Assault on Reason.

But beneath these grave accusations, it turns out, are some remarkably flimsy grievances, most of which seem to amount to political disputes about policy questions in which science plays a role. Ethical disagreements over the destruction of embryos for research are described instead as a conflict between science and ignorant theology. Differing judgments about the proper role of government in sex education in schools are painted as a quarrel between objective public health and medieval prudishness. A dispute about the prudential wisdom of a variety of energy policy alternatives is depicted as a clash of simple scientific facts against willful ignorance and greed.

The American right has no desire to declare a war on science, and nothing it has done in recent years could reasonably suggest otherwise. The left's quixotic defensive campaign against an imaginary enemy therefore has little to tell us about American conservatives-who, of course, do have a complex relationship with science, though it is not the one the left seeks to describe. But if this notion of a "war on science" tells us little about the right, it does tell us something important about the American left and its self-understanding. That liberals take attacks against their own political preferences to be attacks against science helps us see the degree to which they identify themselves-their ideals, their means, their ends, their cause, and their culture-with the modern scientific enterprise.

New Mexico governor Bill Richardson seemed to speak for many when, in a speech in the course of his ill-fated campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, he called upon Democrats to make theirs "the party of science and technology." This is a more positive (not to say less paranoid) way of expressing the deep connection between science-understood both as a way of knowing and a means to doing-and the agenda of liberalism and progressivism.

Power and Progress

The great original appeal of the scientific enterprise was its potential to empower man over nature. Francis Bacon set out the conquest of nature as his aim. Rene Descartes sought to make human beings "masters and possessors of nature." And the scientific community they helped to found has since continued to pursue these twin objectives: expanding human power and conquering nature.

But for the modern left, each of these key aims of modern science has grown deeply problematic. To begin with, over the past century the left has come to take a rather complicated view of power. It has become highly suspicious of certain kinds of power: the power of nations, of corporations, of the rich over the poor, of man over nature (or as it has been renamed, to make it passive, "the environment").

Much of this change took place in course of the twentieth century-a time of previously unimaginable inhumanity and villainy. Shaken by examples of power run amok, and by exposure to and interaction with postmodernism (with its excessive and blinding obsession with power), many on the left became opponents of power as such, in ways that earlier progressives had decidedly not been. This is evident in the ethic of the environmental movement, in progressive views of foreign policy and economics, and in the general tenor of the left.

But this suspicion of power seems not to have made much headway in the left's views about the two most powerful institutions of the age: the state and science. This is easier to explain when it comes to the state, which American liberals and progressives have taken to be the essential institution of social solidarity, political expression, material improvement, and justice. The ideology of the left is centered upon a proper employment of the power of the state, and so the left is naturally disinclined to turn against the use of such power.

But blindness to the power of science is a more perplexing quandary, and one not yet seriously faced by the left. Science (as the true postmodernists know) is the foremost font of modern power, and the underlying source of almost all the expressions and incarnations of power the left does find troubling: industrial power, corporate power, military power, imperial power, and especially human power over the natural world.

Indeed, it is in the arena of environmentalism, more than anywhere else, that this blind spot of the party of science is most pronounced. There, the left's problem with power and the left's problem with conquering nature become one -- yet the role science plays in making both possible has never come front and center.

The Conquest of Nature

In the past three decades, environmentalism has become a fully integrated component of the worldview of the American left, the party of science. But the perspective of environmentalism could hardly be more different than that of modern science on the questions of nature, power, progress, and man.

Modern science is grounded in a particular view of nature, both material and moral. The natural world, thought the fathers of science, is matter in motion; it is best understood by being pulled apart into its constituent forces and pieces, and experimented upon under duress. "The nature of things betrays itself more readily under the vexations of art than in its natural freedom," Bacon argued, because nature is not a whole but a sum of parts, and is not moved by a purpose, but driven by discrete causes alone.

Nature, moreover, is the chief constraint on human power and human comfort, and the extension of the empire of man over nature is a noble and necessary goal. For too long, they thought, human beings had been subject to the whims of nature and chance, but by coming to know the workings of nature, we could master it, both removing natural obstacles and constructing artificial advantages for ourselves. "Nature, to be commanded," Bacon wrote, "must be obeyed," so the purpose of the new natural science was to learn nature's ways so as to overcome them.

This desire for knowledge of and power over nature was not power-hunger, it was humanitarianism. Nature, cold and cruel, oppresses man at every turn, and bold human action is needed in response. Science arose to meet that need.

If you had to devise a complete opposite to this scientific view of nature, a mirror image in essentially every respect, you would probably end up with roughly the notion of nature that gives shape to the modern environmentalist ethic. Nature in this view is, to begin with, a complete and ordered system, to be understood in whole and not in part. "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe," wrote John Muir, a founder of modern environmentalism.

Far from conquering and manipulating nature for his benefit, moreover, man must be careful and humble enough to tread gently upon it, and respect the integrity (and even the beauty) of its wholeness. We are to stand in awe before nature, and never to overestimate our ability to overcome it or underestimate our ability to harm it (and with it ourselves). "We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do," wrote the great British environmentalist Barbara Ward in her 1972 book Only One Earth.

Taken to the extreme, this approach turns the scientific view of nature on its head, and looks at man as an oppressor of the natural world instead of the other way around. The title of one popular recent book, for instance, imagines the peace and beauty of The World Without Us. "How would the rest of nature respond if it were suddenly relieved of the relentless pressures we heap on it and our fellow organisms?" the author asks. How soon would, or could, the climate return to where it was before we fired up all our engines? How long would it take to recover lost ground and restore Eden to the way it must have gleamed and smelled the day before Adam, or Homo habilis, appeared? Could nature ever obliterate all our traces?

Not all environmentalism indulges in such anti-humanism, to be sure. But in all of its forms, the environmentalist ethic calls for a science of beholding nature, not of mastering it. Far from viewing nature as the oppressor, this new vision sees nature as a precious, vulnerable, and almost benevolent passive environment, held in careful balance, and under siege by human action and human power. This view of nature calls for human restraint and humility-and for diminished expectations of human power and potential.

The environmental movement is, in this sense, not a natural fit for the progressive and forward-looking mentality of the left. Indeed, in many important respects environmentalism is deeply conservative. It takes no great feat of logic to show that conservation is conservative, of course, but the conservatism of the environmental movement runs far deeper than that. The movement seeks to preserve a given balance which we did not create, are not capable of fully understanding, and should not delude ourselves into imagining we can much improve -- in other words, its attitude toward nature is much like the attitude of conservatism toward society.

Moreover, contemporary environmentalism is deeply moralistic. It speaks of duties and responsibilities, of curbing arrogance and vice. As Charles T. Rubin puts it in his insightful 1994 book The Green Crusade, "environmentalism is the temperance movement of our time," albeit largely devoid of the religious convictions that moved those prior progressives. Think "addicted to oil."

It is a movement stirred by moralism to reform a prominent human excess, and driven by the hope that this reform will improve almost everything about life. As Al Gore put it before a Senate committee not long ago, "the climate crisis is not a political issue; it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity."

Indeed, writ large, the environmental movement aims to repeal the modern way of life. At its most ambitious, it seeks to curb industrialism and consumerism, to make the human experience less artificial and more "authentic" (or, to employ the favored buzzword of the day, "organic"), to emphasize the simple and the local, to reduce the scale of human ambition. This describes a brand of conservatism too conservative even for the American right, and one that is deeply at odds with the ethic of rationalization and scientific improvement and progress.

Some elements of this approach are not entirely new to the left, at home or abroad. The yearning for authenticity and simplicity, the revulsion at power, and the skepticism of technology and systematic knowledge have been elements of what came to be known as the "new left" in the late 1960s, and to some extent had characterized progressive politics for far longer, too. They have had a lot to do with shaping the ideology of left-wing parties throughout the West. But the manifestation of this approach in the modern environmentalist movement is far more prominent, more powerful, and, for the left, more complicated than any other.

It is prominent and powerful because environmentalism, and particularly concern with global climate change over the past decade or so, has come to play an astonishingly central role in the politics of the West. In a time when Iran is reportedly pursuing nuclear weapons, North Korea is violating international agreements, the future of Iraq remains uncertain, genocide persists in Sudan, and countless other crises threaten the peace of the world, Ban Ki-Moon, upon taking his post as Secretary General of the United Nations in 2007, listed climate change as his top priority. "The danger posed by war to all of humanity and to our planet," he said, "is at least matched by the climate crisis and global warming." European Commission President Jose Barroso has argued that climate change must be the European Union's top priority as well. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called it "humanity's greatest challenge."

Even stipulating the basic facts regarding global climate change, this kind of attitude is surely absurd. There is no question that for some, especially in Europe, the obsession with climate change is a way to avoid thinking about serious geopolitical problems, particularly the threat of radical Islam. Rather than marshalling modernity to defend itself, this obsession allows Western elites to persist in a silly and feckless pseudo-moralism. Instead of looking to America for leadership and protection, it allows them to blame America for its strength and its confidence.

And for some on the left, too, the obsession is a way to stir up the kind of crisis atmosphere necessary for some pet causes and ideas to become politically plausible. But whatever the reason, environmentalism, and with it a worldview deeply at odds with that behind the scientific enterprise, has come to play a pivotal role in the thinking of the left.

So far, the American left has managed mostly to ignore this difficulty, and to treat environmentalism as a cause of the party of science. An ongoing dispute about the basic facts and figures of global warming has made this easier by putting science and environmentalism on the same side for a time. But as that argument subsides, and attention turns to the causes of environmental degradation and to possible solutions, the fissure between science and environmentalism will be harder to ignore.

An American environmentalism newly empowered by a decades-long debate that put it front and center on the agenda of the cultural and political left may come to resemble the European Green movement, which shares many of the attitudes of American progressives, but which does not view itself by any means as a party of science. Indeed, the Greens in Europe have been at the leading edge of nearly every contemporary effort to curb the power and the reach of science, most notably biotechnology -- from bans on human cloning to prohibitions against genetically modified foods.

But in America, the left has yet to confront this glaring complication in its claim to the mantle of the party of science. Science, it turns out, is behind much of what troubles and worries the left.....

The Uneasy Alliance

Mastery of chance and of the given world is the deepest progressive longing, and so it is not surprising to find progressives on the side of science. But that same desire for mastery, and especially the rejection of the given, is also a denial of respect for equality and ecology, which progressives continue to claim among their highest ideals. Both ideals rely upon the presence of some unmastered mystery-some order beyond our grasping reach. A turning away from that humbling mystery, and toward unbounded will, is the inevitable (and indeed intentional) consequence of the progress of the modern scientific enterprise.

That progress brings with it immense benefits, but if left to itself it threatens a great deal as well, including much that is of importance to the left. Meanwhile, the left has also adopted an easygoing relativism about moral and cultural questions, so that science has come to be seen as the only source of objective knowledge --of knowledge equally true everywhere and all the time. Science thus cannot help but be elevated to an almost spiritual level, and to exercise an even more powerful pull on the thought and the politics and the imagination of the left, exacerbating the tensions inherent in the worldview of the party of science.

Recent political enthusiasms have aggravated these tensions all the more. The desire to win the stem cell debate (which proceeded under the shadow of the even more heated abortion debate) has driven the left closer to a rejection of equality than it might otherwise have been inclined to move. And the dispute regarding global warming has tied the left to an environmentalism that is in many respects a very strange bedfellow for liberalism. In the throes of political combat, however, these tensions have been obscured, and an imaginary larger fight for science-the enthusiastic counter-attack against a nonexistent "assault on reason"-has further helped to keep them hidden. But they will not remain hidden for long. In defense of science, the left has turned on itself, and forced to the surface some serious questions about its principles and priorities.


Global Solar Wind Plasma Output At 50-Year Low, Ulysses Spacecraft Reveals

Bad news for the Greenies but bad news for us all as it presages a cooling earth

ScienceDaily (Sep. 25, 2008) — Data from the Ulysses spacecraft, a joint NASA-European Space Agency mission, show the sun has reduced its output of solar wind to the lowest levels since accurate readings became available. The sun's current state could reduce the natural shielding that envelops our solar system.

"The sun's million mile-per-hour solar wind inflates a protective bubble, or heliosphere, around the solar system. It influences how things work here on Earth and even out at the boundary of our solar system where it meets the galaxy," said Dave McComas, Ulysses' solar wind instrument principal investigator and senior executive director at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. "Ulysses data indicate the solar wind's global pressure is the lowest we have seen since the beginning of the space age."

The sun's solar wind plasma is a stream of charged particles ejected from the sun's upper atmosphere. The solar wind interacts with every planet in our solar system. It also defines the border between our solar system and interstellar space.

This border, called the heliopause, is a bubble-shaped boundary surrounding our solar system where the solar wind's strength is no longer great enough to push back the wind of other stars. The region around the heliopause also acts as a shield for our solar system, warding off a significant portion of the cosmic rays outside the galaxy.

"Galactic cosmic rays carry with them radiation from other parts of our galaxy," said Ed Smith, NASA's Ulysses project scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "With the solar wind at an all-time low, there is an excellent chance the heliosphere will diminish in size and strength. If that occurs, more galactic cosmic rays will make it into the inner part of our solar system."

Galactic cosmic rays are of great interest to NASA. Cosmic rays are linked to engineering decisions for unmanned interplanetary spacecraft and exposure limits for astronauts traveling beyond low-Earth orbit.

In 2007, Ulysses made its third rapid scan of the solar wind and magnetic field from the sun's south to north pole. When the results were compared with observations from the previous solar cycle, the strength of the solar wind pressure and the magnetic field embedded in the solar wind were found to have decreased by 20 percent. The field strength near the spacecraft has decreased by 36 percent.

"The sun cycles between periods of great activity and lesser activity," Smith said. "Right now, we are in a period of minimal activity that has stretched on longer than anyone anticipated."

Ulysses was the first mission to survey the space environment over the sun's poles. Data Ulysses has returned have forever changed the way scientists view our star and its effects. The venerable spacecraft has lasted more than 17 years, or almost four times its expected mission lifetime. The Ulysses solar wind findings were published in a recent edition of Geophysical Research Letters.

The Ulysses spacecraft was carried into Earth orbit aboard space shuttle Discovery on Oct. 6, 1990. From Earth orbit it was propelled toward Jupiter, passing the planet on Feb. 8, 1992. Jupiter's immense gravity bent the spacecraft's flight path downward and away from the plane of the planets' orbits. This placed Ulysses into a final orbit around the sun that would take it over its north and south poles.

The Ulysses spacecraft was provided by ESA, having been built by Astrium GmbH (formerly Dornier Systems) of Friedrichshafen, Germany. NASA provided the launch vehicle and the upper stage boosters. The U.S. Department of Energy supplied a radioisotope thermoelectric generator to power the spacecraft. Science instruments were provided by U.S. and European investigators. The spacecraft is operated from JPL by a joint NASA-ESA team.


Leader of very few

“Few challenges facing America – and the world – are more urgent than combating climate change,” President Obama has asserted. “We will make it clear that America is ready to lead.” The President and Al Gore are certainly ready to lead. But how many will follow?

Even in America, and certainly on the world stage, the two increasingly look like Don Quixote and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza. As they tilt for windmills, and against a “monstrous giant of infamous repute” – climate disasters conjured up by computer models and Hollywood special effects masters – their erstwhile followers are making politically correct noises, but running for the hills.

The House of Representatives passed a 1400-page energy and climate bill – by a razor-thin margin, and only after Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman packed it with enough last-minute deals to protect favored congressional districts, buy votes, and curry favor with assorted special interests. Not one legislator actually read the bill – which would create a trillion-dollar cap-trade-and-tax industry, ensure that energy and food costs “necessarily skyrocket,” kill jobs, and impose an all-intrusive Green Nanny State.

Republicans want to control what people do in their bedrooms, insists the old canard. Democrats, it appears, want to dictate what we do everywhere outside of our bedrooms. And Pancho Gore wants to become the world’s first global warming billionaire, by selling climate indulgences, aka carbon offsets.

The reaction has been predictable – by anyone except House and White House czars and czarinas. Citizens are livid over yet another attempt to use a purported crisis to justify expanding the government and spending billions of tax dollars for alarmist research, activism and propaganda, just ahead of the Copenhagen climate conference. Global warming continues to rank dead-last in Pew Research and other polls that actually list it as an issue. Rasmussen puts the President’s approval ratings at 46% and falling. Zogby reports that 57% of Americans oppose cap-and-trade bills.

Manufacturing states, which get 60-98% of their electricity from coal, worry that the only thing they’ll export in ten years will be jobs. Democrat senators from those states worry that the energy and climate issue will be “toxic for them during midterm elections,” says Politico magazine.

Even companies that had eagerly sought seats at the negotiating table are now gagging. ConocoPhillips, Caterpillar and others finally realize that cap-and-tax will severely penalize them and their customers.

Not even the climate is cooperating. Outside of Dallas, 2009 has brought some of coldest summer days on record across the US. Near freezing temperatures nipped at crops, and gas heaters were sine qua non at an August 29 outdoor wedding in Wisconsin. The Farmers Almanac predicts a brutal winter.

In Europe, every latitude has a platitude about saving the planet. But EU countries that agreed to slash greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels are well above their Kyoto Protocol targets – Austria by 30% and Spain by 37% as of 2008. And despite new commitments to cut emissions 40 years from now, you don’t need tarot cards or entrails to predict the more probable EU emissions future.

Germany plans to build 27 coal-fired electrical generating plants by 2020. Italy plans to double its reliance on coal in just five years. Europe as a whole will have 40 new coal-fired power plants by 2015, columnist Alan Caruba reports. The Polish Academy of Sciences has publicly challenged manmade global warming disaster hypotheses. And only 11% of Czech citizens believe rising carbon dioxide emissions caused global temperatures to climb 1975-1998 – and caused them to fall between 1940 and 1975, then to stabilize and finally decline again 1998-2009.

Australia just voted down punitive global warming legislation. New Zealand has put its emissions-bashing program in a deep freeze.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s top economic aid bluntly dismissed any talk of following President Obama’s quixotic lead. “We won’t sacrifice economic growth for the sake of emission reduction,” he told reporters at the July 2009 G8 meeting.

Chinese and Indian leaders are equally adamant. China is playing a smart hand in this high-stakes climate poker game, drawing up plans to combat global warming sometime in the future, and gradually improve its energy efficiency and pollution control. However, it is building a new coal-fired power plant every week and putting millions of new cars on its growing network of highways.

So is India, which will double its coal-based electricity generation and produce millions of Tata and other affordable cars by 2020. “India will not accept any binding emission-reduction target, period,” Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has stated. “This is a non-negotiable stand.”

India and China have a “complete convergence” of views on these matters, Ramesh added. No wonder: 400 million Indians still do not have electricity; 500 million Chinese still do not.

No electricity means no refrigeration, to keep food and medicines from spoiling. It means no water purification, to reduce baby-killing intestinal diseases. No modern heating and air conditioning, to reduce hypothermia in winter, heat stroke in summer, and lung disease year-round. It means no lights or computers, no modern offices, factories, schools, shops, clinics or hospitals.

Fossil fuels are “gradually eliminating poverty in the Third world,” observes UCLA economist Deepak Lal. Any call to curb carbon emissions would “condemn billions to continued poverty. While numerous Western do-gooders shed crocodile tears about the Third World’s poor, they are willing to prevent them from taking the only feasible current route out from this abject state” – oil, gas, coal, nuclear and hydroelectric energy development. The situation is intolerable, unsustainable, lethal and immoral.

The only way India and China would agree to cut their emissions is if the United States cut its emissions 40% by 2020, says Ramesh – back to 1959 levels and pre-JFK living standards, when the US population was 179 million (versus 306 million today). No way will that happen. So Asian energy and economic development will continue apace. And rightly so, to ensure human rights and environmental justice.

All is not bleak, however, for Canute Obama’s impossible dream of controlling global temperatures.

British politicians remain committed to slashing CO2 emissions and replacing hydrocarbons with wind power. Unfortunately, the biggest UK wind projects have been abandoned or put on indefinite hold – and a growing demand/supply imbalance portends still higher energy prices, widespread power cuts, rolling blackouts and energy rationing, the Daily Telegraph reported on August 31. Brits may soon trade their stiff upper lips for contentious town hall meetings and ballot-box revolution.

The Democratic Party of Japan’s landslide victory in the August 30 election will likely create a new coalition government tilted strongly to the left. The DJP has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020 – though this will likely strangle economic growth and job creation, especially if one coalition partner’s opposition to nuclear power becomes DJP policy.

Then there is Africa, where leaders appear ready to support curbs on energy use – in exchange for up to $300 billion per year in additional foreign aid, “to cushion the impact of global warming.” That will be nice for their private bank accounts, but less so for Africa’s 750 million people who still don’t have electricity.

Of course, the real goal was never to control the climate. It was always to control energy use, lives, jobs, economies, transportation and housing – and usher in a new era of global governance. The American people are increasingly saying they’re not ready to grant that power to Obama & Company.


Climate scientists should talk about what "may" happen, rather than what "will" happen

Cautious doubt creeping in below

I'm the science reporter for the Houston Chronicle, the daily newspaper in the petrochemical capital of the United States, if not the world. I've been called a global warming skeptic by environmentalists, and I've been called an environmentalist toady by the skeptics. I'm neither of these things. Rather, I'm just trying to grasp what is happening to the planet's climate, and how humans are impacting it.

For a long time now, science reporters have been confidently told the science is settled. That the planet is warming and humans are unquestionably the primary cause. We've been told to trust the computer models -- the models which show a markedly upward trend in temperatures as carbon dioxide concentrations increase. And I've trusted the scientists telling me this. Below you'll find the computer model forecasts for the 21st century temperatures from the most recent IPCC summary for policymakers, which call for a 1.8°C to 3.8°C rise in global temperatures by 2100:

It seems pretty clear that the models forecast a steady upward trend in global temperatures as long as carbon dioxide levels rise. (Which they have). Yet according to satellite and surface temperature measurements the global average temperature has essentially remained flat for the last 12 years. This strikes me as somewhat curious.

When An Inconvenient Truth came out I believed the movie to be scientifically accurate. Carbon dioxide levels were rising and so were temperatures. And hurricane activity, especially after the disastrous 2005 season, was out of control. But a funny thing happened on the way to the end of the world: hurricane activity on the global scale is near historical lows. And the Earth seems to have, at least temporarily, stopped warming.

This, despite the fact that some of the country's leading climate scientists say there is unequivocally a link between major hurricanes and climate change. And despite the fact that other leading climate scientists predicted 2009 or 2010 will go down as the warmest year in recorded history. Either prediction, if true, would be alarming. Yet both of these predictions seem, at the present moment, to be off.

Then there's this: a revealing story from an international meeting of climate scientists where a German climate scientist says the world may cool for the next decade or two. New Scientist reports:
One of the world's top climate modelers said Thursday we could be about to enter "one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.

"People will say this is global warming disappearing," he told more than 1500 of the world's top climate scientists gathering in Geneva at the UN's World Climate Conference. "I am not one of the skeptics," insisted Mojib Latif of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University, Germany. "However, we have to ask the nasty questions ourselves or other people will do it."

Few climate scientists go as far as Latif, an author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But more and more agree that the short-term prognosis for climate change is much less certain than once thought.

If we can't have confidence in the short-term prognosis for climate change, how can we have full confidence in the long-term prognosis?

The article is significant for a couple of reasons. First of all it's written by Fred Pearce, who has a history of forceful journalism outlining climate change's perils, and it's published by New Scientist, which has long advocated vigorous action to curb climate change. I respect both the author and the publication.

Secondly, the key point here is that scientists are acknowledging that natural variations are playing a very important role in our present and future climate, perhaps cooling it. Therefore it stands to reason that natural variations might also have played a role in the temperature run-up of the 20th century.

Do not misunderstand me. I am not a climate change skeptic. I do not deny that the planet warmed 0.6°C in the 20th century. I do not deny that humans played some part in that significant warming.

But I am confused. Four years ago this all seemed like a fait accompli. Humans were unquestionably warming the climate and changing the planet forever through their emissions of carbon dioxide.

The problem is that some climate scientists and environmentalists have been so determined to see something done about carbon dioxide emissions -- now -- that they have glossed over the uncertainties. Uncertainties like: maybe there isn't a linear relationship between carbon dioxide and temperature, and maybe the planet will cool for a couple of decades even as carbon dioxide emissions accelerate.

For the last few years some scientists and environmentalists have been telling us a lot about what "will" happen in the future if carbon dioxide emissions continue unabated. It perhaps would have been a lot better if they talked about what "may" happen.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

“Nudging” America to Give Up Meat

The number of animals and plants protected by the federal Endangered Species Act is about to increase dramatically. For Cass Sunstein, radical animal-rights activist and nominee for the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator job, that means he will be better positioned than ever to make livestock farming a thing of the past.

How are the two things connected? Our director of research appeared on the Fox News Channel yesterday to explain to Glenn Beck’s audience how much influence Sunstein may soon have over what we eat:

"Cattlemen in this country own and manage most of the lands that are covered by the Endangered Species Act, that are subject to control. So you ask: Why is Cass Sunstein’s hatred and animus toward meat eating such a big deal? It’s because he’ll be in a position to be able to use the Endangered Species Act to put cattlemen out of business. And then the price of your steak goes up. And then the price of your cheeseburger goes up."

It’s not only cattlemen who could be at the business end of Sunstein’s ridiculous anti-meat philosophy. Environmental activists groups sued over the Endangered Species Act in 2006 to divert water to a habitat for a three-inch bait fish in California – taking the water away from drought-stricken farmers and costing the California economy more than 60,000 farming jobs. Imagine what would happen if activists didn’t have to sue to get what they wanted, but could just pick up the phone instead.

The future “regulatory czar” has made no secret of his coercive tactics to get Americans to eat less meat. His grand plan is to make meat more expensive to produce, which will in turn make it harder for American families to afford. Similarly unpopular tactics have been attempted in the drive to get people to drink less soda. While Sunstein couches his plans as a “nudge,” we’d say it’s more like a shove.

Hug your cheeseburgers tonight, because they too are about to become an endangered species


Australia's Federal environmental protection laws have increased costs but delivered little benefit

Environmental regulation should be left to the States

THE centrepiece of Australia's environmental law largely duplicates existing regulations, provides little extra protection and has added more than $820 million in additional costs to business since it came into force nine years ago, an Australian National University survey shows. The ANU Centre for Environmental Law surveyed 155 individuals and companies that had been subject to the approvals processes of the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. It found that rather than leading to improved outcomes, the EPBC regime had left project proponents saddled with up to $2.2m in costs.

The government has made much of its decision to cut business red tape and encourage major projects, yet the survey found the EPBC regime has hit "major infrastructure, mining and urban development activities, the environmental impacts of which are already regulated under other regimes".

The EPBC legislation was designed to create a national scheme of environment, heritage and threatened species protection. It gives the states responsibility for matters of state and local significance, but allows the commonwealth to intervene in matters of national significance. The survey found that "where actions have been regulated, there is evidence the regime is not adding significant environmental value. "The concentration of the environmental impact assessment regime on large infrastructure, oil, gas, mining and urban development projects has stunted its capacity to generate significant environmental gains. "These types of activity are already subject to other federal, state and territory regulatory processes."

The survey said the average cost of the environmental impact process to project proponents varied between $660,000 and $2.2m. "The inability to identify clear environmental benefits from the environmental impact assessment regime has led to questions being raised about its cost effectiveness." Industry groups have already claimed the commonwealth role had added little to the environmental protection achieved through existing processes, but instead burdened business and taxpayers with significant compliance costs.

Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry director Greg Evans said the survey showed more needed to be done to reduce state and federal overlap. He called on the commonwealth government to restrict its role to "strategic national significance issues", making sure Australia conformed with its international obligations: "There's an issue of whether the commonwealth needs to get involved in a project by project basis."

Environment Minister Peter Garrett referred to the complexities of the act on several occasions while finalising his decision to approve the giant Gorgon gas project off Western Australia last month. A review of the legislation headed by former Department of Defence chief Allan Hawke is due by the end of next month.

A spokesman for Mr Garrett said yesterday most of the study related to how the environmental impact assessment process had been implemented in the Howard years. He pointed to the signing of bilateral agreements with the states for environmental assessments. "Assessments conducted under bilateral agreements cut out unnecessary duplication and are a more efficient way of ensuring we uphold important state and commonwealth environmental protection," he said.

Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt said the Coalition strongly supported further simplification. "Many of the states duplicate the federal process," he said. "We will be working towards a single national approvals process covering matters under the federal jurisdiction."



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


Sunday, September 06, 2009


An email from Norm Kalmanovitch []

If the Copenhagen conference is about addressing climate concerns, the focus should be on the detrimental effects of ‘global cooling’ and not about ‘global warming’ which ended over a decade ago. While ‘global warming’ was not only benign, it was beneficial, improving the global food supply with extended growing seasons for countries such as Canada which supplies wheat to many parts of the world facing food shortages. ‘Global cooling’ on the other hand has no beneficial attributes as is clearly demonstrated by the historical accounts of the Little Ice Age that caused such great hardships for large parts of the world.

The physical data clearly shows that the world has been cooling since 2002 at a somewhat alarming rate. Unlike the global cooling episode from 1942 to 1975, which was part of a shorter period cycle, this cooling might be part of the longer period cycle that brought the world from the Medieval Warm Period, to the Little Ice Age, to the warming that peaked in 1998, and is now reverting back to a long period of cooling. Most scientists agree that this cooling will last until the end of solar cycle 25 in 2030, but many fear that this cooling may last a lot longer.

To anyone with basic physical data and a modicum of common sense, the concept of a conference about greenhouse gas emissions reductions to stop ‘global warming’ can only be seen as ridiculous; considering ‘global warming’ ended over a decade ago, but CO2 emissions have kept increasing as the Earth continues to cool.

The conference is clearly not about climate and should be renamed to reflect the actual purpose of the conference.

If the conference is about greenhouse gases; it should be restricted to the use of CO2 in greenhouses as a way of improving productivity as CO2 is the only true greenhouse gas in the strictest sense of the word.

If the conference is about curbing fossil fuel energy; it should be restricted to nuclear energy, the only other viable energy source.

If the conference is about biofuels; it should be restricted to the detrimental effects of biofuels on the world food supply and the current global food crisis.

If the conference is about pollution; it should be restricted air water and soil pollution and how to make the western technology, that has come a long way in addressing these problems, and making this available to developing countries who are in desperate need of such technology to solve their pollution problems.

If the conference is about the economy; it should be restricted to the potentially disastrous economic implications of carbon trading which is a multi billion dollar enterprise that is about to collapse because there is absolutely no actual physical basis for it.

The Copenhagen Conference could be pivotal in ending this whole climate change issue that has had such devastating consequences for the world’s poor and has crippled the world economy, but unfortunately anyone with the common sense to make this happen will be barred from attending by those who want to perpetuate this global warming fraud.

The coming Copenhagen charade

This December, world leaders will gather in Denmark to draft a successor agreement to the Kyoto Accord. This means you'll be hearing increasing hysteria this fall -- hard to imagine, I know -- from all the usual "green" suspects about how we have only months left to save the planet from man-made global warming. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon warned last week we have just "four months" -- until Copenhagen -- "to secure the future of our planet" from runaway climate change, or face environmental Armageddon.

Leading up to Copenhagen, "environmental" journalists will breathlessly report the latest doomsday predictions and how the Earth's only hope lies with a post-Kyoto accord, the UN and U. S. President Barack Obama.

In Canada, there will be predictable outrage about Prime Minister Stephen Harper's lack of concern, even though his commitment to lower greenhouse-gas emissions is essentially the same as Obama's. In any event, we'll all be warned to prepare for the worst.

Then, assuming this Kyoto meeting resembles past ones, at the eleventh hour, there will suddenly be reports of renewed hope in Copenhagen, of tense, round-the-clock negotiations, of a new spirit of urgency as world leaders, spurred on by noble environmentalists, realize the enormity of what's at stake. Finally, after several extended (and artificial) deadlines, there will, miraculously, emerge a successor deal to Kyoto that, according to the hype, "may well save the planet," as Canadian Green Party Leader Elizabeth May announced at the end of a similar, now-forgotten meeting in Montreal in 2005 chaired by Stephane Dion.

The thing to remember about all this is that it will be nonsense. A fantasy. "Success" in Copenhagen won't be defined by lowering greenhouse-gas emissions. It will be defined by whether the developed world -- including Canada -- bribes the developing world -- led by China and India -- with sufficient billions of our money, to purportedly reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions emissions, so that participants emerge declaring that a deal to "save the planet" has been reached. But it won't lower emissions. All it will do is make the world safer for hedge fund managers and energy companies as they rake in undeserved profits in the global "cap and trade" market about to be unleashed on us all.

Numbers tell the real story. Under Kyoto, a few dozen industrialized nations, including Canada, responsible for a mere fraction of global greenhouse-gas emissions, agreed to reduce them by an average 5.2% below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. (Canada's target was 6%.)

Meanwhile, the world's two largest emitters -- the U. S. and China, responsible for 40% of emissions (Canada emits 2%) -- and the entire developing world, made no commitments. The U. S. never ratified Kyoto. The developing world wasn't required to cut emissions. So, where do we stand? The latest estimate from Germany, which monitors these things, is that global greenhouse-gas emissions last year were up 40% over 1990, rose every year for the past 10, and increased by almost 2% last year, despite the worldwide recession. Simply put, being at 40% above 1990 levels in 2008 means reducing them to an average 5.2% below 1990 levels by 2012, even for the handful of nations supposed to do it, is impossible. And Kyoto is only about one-thirteenth of what supposedly needs to be done.

More ridiculous are proposed future cuts of up to 40% below 1990 by 2020, 80% by 2050. Indeed, Obama, the alleged global green knight, is only promising to reduce U. S. greenhouse- gas emissions to 4% below 1990 levels by 2020. If the doomsayers are right, we've failed to stop runaway global warming. We're already dead.

But if, as seems increasingly likely, early research into global warming underestimated natural influences on climate, while overestimating man's impact, we still have time to develop a rational program to address the real issue -- weaning ourselves off finite fossil fuels and on to cleaner energy sources in a realistic time frame, given that renewable power is in its infancy.



Forecasts of climate change are about to go seriously out of kilter. One of the world's top climate modellers said Thursday we could be about to enter "one or even two decades during which temperatures cool. "People will say this is global warming disappearing," he told more than 1500 of the world's top climate scientists gathering in Geneva at the UN's World Climate Conference. "I am not one of the sceptics," insisted Mojib Latif of the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel University, Germany. "However, we have to ask the nasty questions ourselves or other people will do it."

Few climate scientists go as far as Latif, an author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But more and more agree that the short-term prognosis for climate change is much less certain than once thought. This is bad timing. The UN's World Meteorological Organization called the conference in order to draft a global plan for providing "climate services" to the world: that is, to deliver climate predictions useful to everyone from farmers worried about the next rainy season to doctors trying to predict malaria epidemics and builders of dams, roads and other infrastructure who need to assess the risk of floods and droughts 30 years hence.

But some of the climate scientists gathered in Geneva to discuss how this might be done admitted that, on such timescales, natural variability is at least as important as the long-term climate changes from global warming. "In many ways we know more about what will happen in the 2050s than next year," said Vicky Pope from the UK Met Office. [Wow! A genuine prophet!]

Latif predicted that in the next few years a natural cooling trend would dominate over warming caused by humans. The cooling would be down to cyclical changes to ocean currents and temperatures in the North Atlantic, a feature known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). Breaking with climate-change orthodoxy, he said NAO cycles were probably responsible for some of the strong global warming seen in the past three decades. "But how much? The jury is still out," he told the conference. The NAO is now moving into a colder phase.

Latif said NAO cycles also explained the recent recovery of the Sahel region of Africa from the droughts of the 1970s and 1980s. James Murphy, head of climate prediction at the Met Office, agreed and linked the NAO to Indian monsoons, Atlantic hurricanes and sea ice in the Arctic. "The oceans are key to decadal natural variability," he said.

Another favourite climate nostrum was upturned when Pope warned that the dramatic Arctic ice loss in recent summers was partly a product of natural cycles rather than global warming. Preliminary reports suggest there has been much less melting this year than in 2007 or 2008.

In candid mood, climate scientists avoided blaming nature for their faltering predictions, however. "Model biases are also still a serious problem. We have a long way to go to get them right. They are hurting our forecasts," said Tim Stockdale of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts in Reading, UK. The world may badly want reliable forecasts of future climate. But such predictions are proving as elusive as the perfect weather forecast.



Differences between rich and developing countries prevented G20 finance ministers from agreeing measures on Saturday to curb global warming, casting more doubt on U.N. efforts to agree a new climate treaty.

Industrialised nations had pressed to include climate change financing on the agenda of a meeting of G20 finance ministers but met resistance from emerging nations including China, who fear the proposals could stifle their economic growth, a G20 source said.

A draft statement from the meeting seen by Reuters omitted any reference to discussion of richer nations' plans to use both public and private sector financing to cut CO2 emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

U.S. President Barack Obama said in July that finance ministers should report on climate finance at a Sept. 24-25 G20 leaders' summit in the U.S. city of Pittsburgh, raising expectations of progress this weekend in London.

Emerging nations in the G20 club of industrialised and developing countries said their opposition to discussing climate change funding was purely procedural. "We reaffirm the UNFCCC should be the main channel for international negotiations of climate change," the finance ministers of Brazil, Russia, India and China said in a statement on Friday, in reference to the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change, the body that overseas drafting of the new treaty.

However, developing nations are suspicious rich countries are trying to avoid paying the full amount needed to tackle climate change, and seeking to push some of the financial burden on to them. "Many developing countries are concerned that the global issue of climate change will constrain their ability to industrialise without creating additional costs," said Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati on Friday.

Developing nations are especially sceptical of proposals for private sector funding of the fight against climate change. They are keen for developed countries' governments to stump up the cash needed.

The failure to make any progress on the issue puts more pressure on the leaders in Pittsburgh and will boost fears that a UN meeting in Copenhagen in December to agree a new treaty on climate change, to succeed the Kyoto Treaty, will not be successful. The global economic crisis has made a deal more difficult to achieve.

With only three months to the Copenhagen conference, countries are still far off agreeing CO2 cuts that would be consistent with limiting climate change to levels scientists deem acceptable. Differences also remain on how to pay for mitigation measures and the transfer of CO2 reducing technology to poor nations. (Additional reporting by Sebastian Tong and Carolyn Cohn; editing by Keith Weir)



The greenhouse gas emissions target for 2020 set by Japan's incoming Democratic Party government is based on the premise that there will be an international agreement including China and India, a party executive said on Friday.

The party, promising a more aggressive green policy than the outgoing government, has called for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, although the target faces resistance from industries. "This is not something Japan will do on its own," party secretary-general Katsuya Okada said in an interview with Reuters. "The premise is an agreement that includes other countries such as China and India."



The Democratic Party has won the White House and both houses of Congress. While Democrats won support from across the country their base of support is in the North-East. The US is in the midst of real economic, and alleged environmental, crises. During the Hundred Days the President has brought environmentalists into the senior realms of government and Congress has floated a raft of environmentalist legislation. The stage is set for a major federal government expansion that will change how electricity is generated and will restrict the amount of land available for development. The year is 1934.


Tilting at Green Windmills

Each "Green" job entails the loss of 2.2 other jobs

The Spanish professor is puzzled. Why, Gabriel Calzada wonders, is the U.S. president recommending that America emulate the Spanish model for creating "green jobs" in "alternative energy" even though Spain's unemployment rate is 18.1 percent -- more than double the European Union average -- partly because of spending on such jobs? Calzada, 36, an economics professor at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, has produced a report which, if true, is inconvenient for the Obama administration's green agenda, and for some budget assumptions that are dependent upon it.

Calzada says Spain's torrential spending -- no other nation has so aggressively supported production of electricity from renewable sources -- on wind farms and other forms of alternative energy has indeed created jobs. But Calzada's report concludes that they often are temporary and have received $752,000 to $800,000 each in subsidies -- wind industry jobs cost even more, $1.4 million each. And each new job entails the loss of 2.2 other jobs that are either lost or not created in other industries because of the political allocation -- sub-optimum in terms of economic efficiency -- of capital. (European media regularly report "eco-corruption" leaving a "footprint of sleaze" -- gaming the subsidy systems, profiteering from land sales for wind farms, etc.) Calzada says the creation of jobs in alternative energy has subtracted about 110,000 jobs from elsewhere in Spain's economy.

The president's press secretary, Robert Gibbs, was asked about the report's contention that the political diversion of capital into green jobs has cost Spain jobs. The White House transcript contained this exchange:

Gibbs: "It seems weird that we're importing wind turbine parts from Spain in order to build -- to meet renewable energy demand here if that were even remotely the case."

Questioner: "Is that a suggestion that his study is simply flat wrong?"

Gibbs: "I haven't read the study, but I think, yes."

Questioner: "Well, then. (Laughter.)"

Actually, what is weird is this idea: A sobering report about Spain's experience must be false because otherwise the behavior of some American importers, seeking to cash in on the U.S. government's promotion of wind power, might be participating in an economically unproductive project.

It is true that Calzada has come to conclusions that he, as a libertarian, finds ideologically congenial. And his study was supported by a like-minded U.S. think tank (the Institute for Energy Research, for which this columnist has given a paid speech). Still, it is notable that, rather than try to refute his report, many Spanish critics have impugned his patriotism for faulting something for which Spain has been praised by Obama and others.

Judge for yourself: Calzada's report can be read here. And here you can find similar conclusions in "Yellow Light on Green Jobs," a report by Republican Sen. Kit Bond, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy.

What matters most, however, is not that reports such as Calzada's and the Republicans' are right in every particular. It is, however, hardly counterintuitive that politically driven investments are economically counterproductive. Indeed, environmentalists with the courage of their convictions should argue that the point of such investments is to subordinate market rationality to the higher agenda of planetary salvation.

Still, one can be agnostic about both reports while being dismayed by the frequency with which such findings are ignored simply because they question policies that are so invested with righteousness that methodical economic reasoning about their costs and benefits seems unimportant. When the president speaks of "new green energy economies" creating "countless well-paying jobs," perhaps they really are countless, meaning incapable of being counted.

For fervent believers in governments' abilities to control the climate and in the urgent need for them to do so, believing is seeing: They see, through their ideological lenses, governments' green spending as always paying for itself. This is a free-lunch faith comparable to that of those few conservatives who believe that tax cuts always completely pay for themselves by stimulating compensating revenues from economic growth.

Windmills are iconic in the land of Don Quixote, whose tilting at them became emblematic of comic futility. Spain's new windmills are neither amusing nor emblematic of policies America should emulate. The cheerful and evidently unshakable confidence in such magical solutions to postulated problems is yet another manifestation -- Republicans are not immune: No Child Left Behind decrees that by 2014 all American students will be proficient in math and reading -- of what the late Sen. Pat Moynihan called "the leakage of reality from American life."



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


Saturday, September 05, 2009


Below is a summary of a climate policy paper from the author, Graham Dawson [], visiting Fellow in the Max Beloff Centre for the Study of Liberty at The University of Buckingham


(See "Economic Affairs", Volume 29, Number 3, September 2009, pp. 57-62)

There are destructive and constructive sides to this paper. The destructive aspect of the paper is the claim that all existing ‘climate policy’ instruments should be swept away. Climate science cannot provide the knowledge that is needed to justify the policy instruments including taxes, subsidies, regulation and emissions trading that are directed towards the mitigation of climate change or, more properly, ‘anthropogenic global warming (AGW)’.

There is no secure foundation in climate science for the current policy rhetoric. The earth’s climate has always been susceptible to change caused by natural factors over which human beings have no control. If global mean surface temperatures are rising as a consequence of greenhouse gas emissions from economic activity, economic agents should curtail those emissions. However we do not know that they are. The IPCC’s estimates of global average surface air warming for the next century range from mild temperature increases that would increase world food production to those that would have catastrophic effects on human life. We face radical uncertainty rather than calculable risk.

The constructive aspect of the paper consists in the proposal for an alternative privatised AGW policy, based on an interpretation of climate change as a putative interpersonal conflict rather than market failure. Current policy is based on the neoclassical assumption that AGW is a case of market failure. However, it is not markets that have failed but governments in failing to allocate property rights. The use of fossil fuels, like any other economic activity, should be subject side constraints designed to avoid the infringement of other people’s property rights.

This framework is based on an Austrian approach to environmental economics and a libertarian political philosophy. AGW is a possible example of interpersonal conflict over the use of resources insofar as some individuals use the atmosphere as a carbon sink, changing the climate and thereby making it impossible for other individuals to rely upon an unchanged climate as a resource for growing crops in and even inhabiting particular locations. Economic activity giving rise to CO2 emissions would proceed without hindrance from existing policy instruments but would be subject to side constraints concerning the avoidance of harm to others. It is for the courts to decide, calling on the testimony of expert witnesses, whether CO2 emissions are responsible for such harm by causing dangerous AGW. Tort litigation on the basis of strict liability would protect people against others’ meddling with their climate.

By providing a public arena for the competitive testing of scientific hypotheses concerning climate change, such litigation would also promote the public understanding and even the advancement of climate science. Litigation or the threat of it would persuade firms using carbon-intensive production processes to fund research into climate science, challenging the IPCC’s monopoly and stimulating scientific progress. An Austrian approach could promote advances in climate science that might eventually yield reliable knowledge concerning the putative occurrence of anthropogenic global warming.

Interested readers can obtain a PDF copy from the author at Below is the abstract:

Existing ‘climate change’ policy instruments should be withdrawn. Climate science cannot provide the knowledge that is needed to justify them. Anthropogenic global warming is a putative interpersonal conflict rather than market failure. Where property rights need protecting, tort litigation on the basis of strict liability is appropriate. By providing a public arena for the competitive testing of scientific hypotheses, such litigation would also promote the advancement of climate science.

Global warming is low priority

By Willie Soon and David Legates (Willie Soon is an astrophysicist at Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. David Legates is a climatologist at the University of Delaware)

WHAT DOES the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation think about carbon dioxide (CO2)-induced global warming? “We don’t think about it,” Bill Gates said during last year’s Engineers Without Borders International Conference. On another occasion, he told Newsweek magazine: “The angle I’ll look at most is …What about the 4 billion poorest people? What about energy and environmental issues for them?”

The question, however, is not simply a matter of re-prioritising limited resources. More fundamentally, the scientific case for catastrophic global climate change from increased atmospheric CO2 is substantially flawed.

The Indian government also recognises the need to put real, immediate, life-and-death problems ahead of speculative risks 50-100 years from now---and base the country’s health and prosperity on energy, economic and infrastructure development, full employment, and diseases and poverty eradication. “It is obvious that India needs to substantially increase its per-capita energy consumption to provide a minimally acceptable level of wellbeing to its people,” the Indian government’s National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAP) declared. Moreover, a stronger economy and increased living standards will reduce the vulnerability of poor families to extreme weather events and climate change, natural or man-made.

Over 400 million Indians remain energy-deprived, impoverished, and reliant on wood, grass and animal dung for heating and cooking. When the sun goes down, their lives shut down. India’s per-capita CO2 emissions are roughly one twentieth of the United States, one-tenth of the EU, Japan and Russia, and a quarter of the world average. Even under rosy economic growth scenarios, India’s future per-capita CO2 emissions will remain far below those in most developed countries.

Without electricity, people must live at subsistence levels. What little they can manufacture must be done by day, by kerosene lamp and by hand. Women and children spend hours every day collecting firewood, squatting in filth to make dung patties, and carrying infected water from distant rivers and lakes. The lack of refrigeration and safe drinking water means millions suffer from severe diarrhoea, and countless thousands die annually. Open heating and cooking fires cause lung infections that kill thousands of infants, children and mothers, year after year. Poverty is rampant, education minimal.

Given these realities, can you explain why certain rich and famous people and media outlets are fixated on “preventing” CO2-induced global warming? Why they obsess over computer-generated scenarios of climate disasters a century from now? Why they blame every weather incident and disease outbreak today on global warming, when the Earth has been cooling for at least five years?

Can you understand why, in the next breath, they oppose the construction of natural gas and coal-fired power plants that could generate enough electricity to reduce the poverty and disease? And then oppose nuclear and hydroelectric facilities, as well?

As to climate science, there are no clear indications that rising CO2 levels are changing the weather in ways or degrees that haven’t been observed in past centuries and cycles. There has been no change in trends for large-scale droughts, floods, or rain, the NAP concluded. The report also noted that average Indian temperatures have increased only 0.4 °C over the past century, while cooling trends can be found in northwestern India and parts of south India. Himalayan glaciers grew to their maximum ice ccumulation about 260 years ago, according to the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, and their well-known retreats began as Earth warmed following the 500-year-long Little Ice Age---not because of human CO2 emissions.

Even the computer-generated “threat” of sea level rise does not match reality. Researchers from the National Institute of Oceanography at Goa observed that sea levels in the north Indian Ocean rose an average 1.1 to 1.8 millimetres per year (4.3-7.1 inches per century). That is slightly lower than the 7 inches per century global average---and way below Al Gore’s scary “prediction” of 20 feet by 2100.

On forests and food supplies, India’s carbon dioxide news is equally bullish. The Subcontinent’s “net primary productivity” (plant and crop growth) could soar by nearly 70 percent if temperatures warm a little and atmospheric CO2 concentrations go from today’s 380 ppm (0.0380 percent of the atmosphere) to 575 ppm by 2085, N H Ravindranath and colleagues from the Centre for Ecological Sciences of the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore have calculated.

R T Gahukar is far less concerned about global warming, than about policies implemented in the name of preventing planetary climate changes. “If food crops are used for bio-energy, the price of foods will be determined by their value as feedstock for bio-fuel, rather than their importance as human food or livestock feed,” he points out. “India is currently providing a strong momentum for bio-fuel production, [which means that] food production may be in jeopardy.”

Ironically, many of the same environmentalists who worry about global warming, and oppose large-scale electricity generation, are also against biotechnology ---which could create more nutritious crops that grow better under hotter, cooler, wetter or drier conditions. That would enable India’s farmers to improve productivity and feed more people, no matter what the climate does. That’s why Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug, father of India’s first “green revolution” in agriculture, is such a strong supporter of biotechnology.

So here is our answer to Bill Gates’ question, “What about India’s poorest people?” India should focus on feeding the poor, improving their health, and enhancing their economic conditions---rather than worrying about hypothetical anthropogenic global warming. Only then will India’s economic and population growth be sustainable. Only then will its people be comfortable, and able to adapt to and weather or climate changes that Mother Nature might send them---just as they do in the West. That would only be fair.

From PRAGATI - THE INDIAN NATIONAL INTEREST REVIEW, September 2009. Pragati is an Indian e-magazine


What fun! It will sure take the shine off Greenie self-righteousness -- JR

Africa's climate change negotiators led by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi have threatened to withdraw from the upcoming global climate change talks. The Ethiopian PM said Africa might have to walk out if the December climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark, failed to agree with Africa’s minimum position. “If need be we are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threaten to be another rape of our continent,” he said.

Mr Zenawi told Africa ministers and European partners gathered in Addis Ababa to consolidate Africa’s expectation and position for the next global climate negotiations. According to Africa's common position paper, the continent wants huge financial support (estimated at US$300 billion) and technology transfer from the West for mitigation and adaptation activities to curb the impact of climate crisis on the continent.

Mr Zenawi, however, hinted that his delegation will not claim compensation but fight for global action to reduce the impact of climate change. “We will never accept any global deal that does not limit global warming to the minimum unavoidable level, no matter what level of compensation and assistance is promised to us,” he said. “We will not be there to express its participation by merely warming the chairs or to make perfunctory speeches and statements,” Mr Zenawi said.

The Ethiopian leader was elected by Africa Union to head the continent's delegation for the talks. The delegation includes Algeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa. African Union chief Jean Ping and AU current chairman Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi will also accompany the delegation to Copenhagen.

Key positions

Africa demands that developed countries should commit 0.5 per cent of their GDP for climate action in developing countries and commit to new and innovative sources of public and private sector finance, with the major source of funding coming from the public sector.

Mr Ping said the upcoming negotiation should ensure sustainable financial flow to mitigate and adapt the impacts of climate change.


Benny Peiser takes a more serious view of the above than I do: "I'm afraid the climate hysteria created and perpetuated by Western government officials has opened Pandora's Box. What looked to be a valuable policy tool for green protectionism is now threatening to unleash political chaos and economic misery on its creators and their nations. Climate alarmism has turned into a Frankstein monster that threatens to devour its own designers. I can't see why Africa and other developing nations should be ready to refrain from demanding hundreds of billions of dollars in reparations given that Nicholas Stern and other green campaigners and government officials claim that the West is liable for current and future climate disasters."


The prospects for an international agreement to tackle the causes of climate change are looking slim. They got even slimmer earlier this week, after the leading US senators crafting a climate bill announced that they're pushing back the release of their legislation indefinitely. While Barbara Boxer and John Kerry say the bill "is moving along well" and promise it will be ready for release "later in September", the delay makes the chances of passing it before the looming international negotiations in Copenhagen even less likely.

Without concrete action in the Senate, there will not be an actual deal ready to sign in Copenhagen. With no Senate action, there's no guarantee that the US will commit to binding targets. And with no US targets, there will be no firm agreement from China, India or other emerging powers. Ratification of an international treaty requires the consent of 67 senators – and right now, just getting to 60 just to vote on the climate bill is looking difficult.

With a realistic time frame, this delay means they won't release a bill until the end of September. Boxer, who chairs the Senate's environment and public works committee, has said she plans to hold hearings on the draft text, followed by markup of the full legislation. Her committee is not the only one likely to play a major role in the bill.

The finance committee, chaired by Max Baucus, is expected to author the pollution permit allocation portion of the bill, but is also at the centre of the debate over healthcare reform. They've only held one meeting on climate legislation this year, which Baucus could not attend due to commitments on healthcare. At least four other committees may want to weigh in.

No one expects the Senate to even move to climate until the healthcare issue is resolved – which, realistically, is probably going to drag out until the end of November.

So it's not much of a surprise that Helen Clark, the UN development chief, is now downplaying the likelihood that Copenhagen will be the final step in negotiating a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. "Copenhagen has to be viewed as a very important step," said Clark. "Would it be overoptimistic to say that it would be the final one? Of course."

"If there's no deal as such, it won't be a failure," she continued. "I think the conference will be positive but it won't dot every i and cross every t."



The brightest idea to help save the planet from a climate catastrophe? Spraying clouds with drops of seawater to help them reflect the sun’s rays and keep global temperatures in check. That’s the conclusion of the expert panel assembled by the Copenhagen Consensus, the Nobel-heavy brain trust assembled every year by Bjorn Lomborg. The five-member panel, which includes three Nobel laureates, ranked fifteen climate-change remedies, from geoengineering to a carbon tax, in order of how much bang they’d offer for the buck.

That’s why “marine cloud whitening” came out on top, apparently: The idea of spraying ocean clouds with water would cost only $9 billion, yet could potentially, maybe, offer trillions of dollars in benefits by acting like a giant coat of 100+ sunblock. “We’re not saying, let’s go do this tomorrow. We’re saying, let’s spend 10 years and find out if this works,” Mr. Lomborg told us.”It would be immoral not to.”

Of course, geoengineering has its critics—both within the Copenhagen Consensus and without. The British Institute of Mechanical Engineers tsk-tsked this week at the viability of climate engineering. Still, Mr. Lomborg says he got a pleasant reception Thursday when he explained the findings to White House advisers; earlier this year, science adviser John Holdren floated a similar idea.

So what was the second-best idea? A climate policy focused on intensive research and development of low-carbon energy sources—not tinkering with today’s solar panels, but a top-down effort meant to address the “Herculean” magnitude of replacing fossil fuels worldwide in coming decades.

And the three worst choices? Any sort of carbon tax, which would do little to drive clean energy and even less to curb emissions, but which would succeed nicely in derailing the global economy, the experts found. A cap-and-trade proposal, such as that operating in Europe and under consideration in Congress, didn’t even make the list.

Mr. Lomborg, who has long advocated a technology-heavy solution to fighting climate change, figures the findings could goose the global climate talks slated for Copenhagen in December. “If we don’t get a global agreement, we won’t fix climate change,” he says, reluctantly cheerleading for the confab. “But if it’s just another Kyoto, then it’s a wasted ten years,” he says.

Far-out ideas such as climate engineering and more R&D could help break the impasse between the West and the Rest at the climate talks. “They offer a much better chance” of convincing the developing world to play ball, he says: Easier to convince China to spend a few hundred billion to create a whole new industry than to spend hundreds of billions to shackle the economic growth that has transformed the country.


Repeated deceitful sensationalism from Australia's Green Party

The very self-confident but mentally challenged Ms Siewert above

RACHEL Siewert radiated righteous anger last weekend, after flying over the West Atlas oil rig spill in the Timor Sea, and her alarmist comments guaranteed her the kind of media coverage politicians lust after. The West Australian Greens senator said both the Federal Government and the company that owns the rig, PTTEP Australasia, had misled the public by downplaying the extent of the spill. "Literally from horizon to horizon you see the oil on the surface," she told reporters. "I'm extremely worried about the Kimberley coast because this is only 10 nautical miles, which is 20km, from the coast."

Siewert handed out photographs which she said proved her assertions, one of them showing reefs and mangroves on which she said the oil would have a devastating impact. Then she watched with satisfaction as excited journos rushed to file stories.

It was, as it turned out, nonsense. The slick was nowhere near the coast. The nearest oil was actually 148km from the coastline. But when Siewert grudgingly admitted five days later that what she had thought was oil could be algae, there was virtually no media coverage. As a result, many people still believe her original statements were true. All care and no responsibility. Who said it's not easy being Green?

Bob Brown's party is doing well at the moment, picking up support from voters disillusioned by what they see as Labor's failure to deliver on environmental issues. And with Labor not running a candidate, the Greens have high hopes of polling well in the by-election in Bradfield, the Sydney seat being vacated by former Liberal leader Brendan Nelson.

But Siewert's performance on the West Atlas issue raises questions about the Greens' approach. Are they serious, or a group of populist opportunists?

Light crude oil and natural gas began leaking from the rig early on Friday, August 21. According to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, it started mobilising resources within 15 minutes of being notified. The first concern, rightly, was getting workers to safety. Then an AMSA Dornier plane mapped the spill. Two small planes equipped for spraying chemical dispersant were despatched to Truscott aerodrome. Arrangements were made for delivery of up to 50 tonnes of dispersant. Also, a specialist C-130 Hercules was chartered from Singapore by the company to spearhead the dispersant-spraying effort. (It reached Darwin the next day, and was in action by Sunday.)

Reasonable efficiency on Day 1, you might think. But Siewert was on the airwaves saying that, instead of dispersant having to be flown from Victoria, resources to combat such spills should be based in Northern Australia. In fact, the dispersant was stored in Darwin in case of just such an emergency.

Then, Siewert and Brown demanded that the government establish an immediate judicial inquiry to establish how the oil rig was being operated and how the early stages of the clean-up were undertaken. Talk about putting the cart before the horse! Clearly, at that stage, the priorities had to be dealing with the spill's effects and plugging the leak, not drawing up terms of reference and appointing judges. Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson says there will be an independent inquiry – after the leak is capped. Sensible.

Siewert's next foray was over the plan to use a mobile rig to drill into the leaking well and plug it with mud. She insisted the Government force PTTEP Australasia to borrow a mobile rig from Woodside rather than bring one from Singapore or Indonesia. The Government, wisely you might think, preferred to follow expert advice that the overseas rig, capable of fixing itself to the ocean floor to provide a more secure platform, was a better option.

If you can get the Woodside rig there even a day or two earlier, that is 3000 barrels of oil per day that they wouldn't be pumping into the environment, the senator argued. That estimate of 3000 barrels of oil a day appears to be another Siewert special. The Government's experts put the amount leaking closer to 400 barrels a day.

And then came Siewert's flight and her headline-grabbing claims. "The slick is at least 90 nautical miles, which is 180km, east-west from the rig," she said. "And it's fair, it's pretty safe, to assume that it's going north and south as well." In contrast, the observations from AMSA's Dornier aircraft on the same day had the spill covering a rectangular area 15 nautical miles by 60 nautical miles. What's more, only 25 per cent of this area was actually affected, mostly by oil streaks and patches of sheen. The heaviest concentration of oil was within three nautical miles of the rig.

No one would deny that the oil spill is a serious matter. Siewert is right to be concerned. She has an obligation, however, to ensure her information is accurate before she charges in. Considered statements would be more impressive than wild assertions.


For those who think that there is no such thing as German humour:

A report from Friedrich Heckmann []

The German humorous terms Ölkonstante [The oil constant] and Fusionskonstante [The fusion constant]: Ölkonstante refers to the fact that Oil will be finished within the next thirty years from the present "now"- since 1919. Fusionskonstante refers to the fact that abundance of energy from fusion power stations will be available from the present "now" within 30 years - since 1950.


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


Friday, September 04, 2009

Woods Hole embraces the Medieval Warm Period – contradict Mann’s proxy data

A new 2,000 year long reconstruction of sea surface temperatures (SST) from the Indo-Pacific warm pool (IPWP) suggests that temperatures in the region may have been as warm during the Medieval Warm Period as they are today.

The IPWP is the largest body of warm water in the world, and, as a result, it is the largest source of heat and moisture to the global atmosphere, and an important component of the planet’s climate. Climate models suggest that global mean temperatures are particularly sensitive to sea surface temperatures in the IPWP. Understanding the past history of the region is of great importance for placing current warming trends in a global context.

The study is published in the journal Nature.

In a joint project with the Indonesian Ministry of Science and Technology (BPPT), the study’s authors, Delia Oppo, a paleo–oceanographer with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and her colleagues Yair Rosenthal of Rutgers State University and Braddock K. Linsley of the University at Albany-State University of New York, collected sediment cores along the continental margin of the Indonesian Seas and used chemical analyses to estimate water past temperatures and date the sediment. The cruise included 13 US and 14 Indonesian scientists.

“This is the first record from the region that has really modern sediments and a record of the last two millennia, allowing us to place recent trends in a larger framework,” notes Oppo.

Global temperature records are predominantly reconstructed from tree rings and ice cores. Very little ocean data are used to generate temperature reconstructions, and very little data from the tropics. “As palaeoclimatologists, we work to generate information from multiple sources to improve confidence in the global temperature reconstructions, and our study contributes to scientists’ efforts towards that goal,” adds Oppo.

Temperature reconstructions suggest that the Northern Hemisphere may have been slightly cooler (by about 0.5 degrees Celsius) during the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ (~AD 800-1300) than during the late-20th century. However, these temperature reconstructions are based on, in large part, data compiled from high latitude or high altitude terrestrial proxy records, such as tree rings and ice cores, from the Northern Hemisphere (NH). Little pre-historical temperature data from tropical regions like the IPWP has been incorporated into these analyses, and the global extent of warm temperatures during this interval is unclear. As a result, conclusions regarding past global temperatures still have some uncertainties.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Environmentalists hail Supreme Court ruling on carbon

The new ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on carbon dioxide emissions is a strong rebuke to the Bush administration, which has maintained that it does not have the right to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and that even if it did, it would not use the authority. The ruling does not force the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate auto emissions, but the agency would almost certainly face further legal action if it fails to do so.

In one of its most important environmental decisions in years, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 on Monday that the agency has the authority to regulate heat-trapping gases in automobile emissions. The court further ruled that the agency could not sidestep its authority to regulate the greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change unless it could provide a scientific basis for its refusal. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens said the only way the agency could "avoid taking further action" now is "if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change" or provides a good explanation why it cannot or will not find out whether they do.

Beyond the specific context for this case - so-called "tailpipe emissions" from cars and trucks, which account for about one-fourth of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions - the decision is highly likely to have a broader impact on the debate over government efforts to address global warming. The ruling has largely shredded the underpinning of other lawsuits trying to block regulation of the emissions and gives new momentum to congressional efforts to control heat-trapping gases linked to climate change.

Environmental groups and states that have adopted controls on carbon dioxide emissions from vehicle tailpipes responded with jubilation, while the auto industry and some of its backers offered statements of resigned disappointment. "This is fantastic news," said Ian Bowles, the secretary of environmental affairs for Massachusetts, which had petitioned the environmental agency to control emissions from cars and trucks.

Court cases around the country had been placed on hold to await the decision in this case. Among them is a challenge to the agency's refusal to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, now pending in the U.S. federal appeals court here.

Individual states, led by California, are also moving aggressively into what they have seen as a regulatory vacuum.

Stevens, joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, said that by providing nothing more than a "laundry list of reasons not to regulate," the Environmental Protection Agency had defied the Clean Air Act's "clear statutory command." He said a refusal to regulate could be based only on science and "reasoned justification," adding that while the statute left the central determination to the "judgment" of the agency's administrator, "the use of the word 'judgment' is not a roving license to ignore the statutory text."

The court decided a second Clean Air Act case on Monday, adopting a broad reading of the agency's authority over factories and power plants that add capacity or make renovations that increase emissions of air pollutants. In doing so, the court reopened a federal enforcement effort against the Duke Energy power company under the act's "new source review" provision. The vote in this case was 9 to 0.

The two decisions left environmental advocates exultant. Many said they still harbored doubts about the federal agency and predicted that the decision would help push the Democratic-controlled Congress to address the issue.



French President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan for a carbon tax on fuel threatened Tuesday to backfire as critics slammed it as unfair and his own camp fretted it will anger voters already hit by the crisis. Sarkozy is due in coming weeks to announce details of a new tax on transport and household fuel, to be in the 2010 budget as part of France's drive to wean consumers off polluting energies and slash global warming emissions. But with France barely out of recession and unemployment still on the rise, consumer groups have warned against piling hardship on ordinary families.

Several dissident voices in Sarkozy's right-wing UMP have raised the alarm, fearing that introducing a new tax, especially one seen as unfair, is political suicide in the current climate.

Spotting a chance to score political points, his former presidential rival Segolene Royal savaged the proposed Climate-Energy Contribution as "unjust" and "inefficient" at the Socialists' annual congress at the weekend. She argues a flat levy on fuel would hit low-income families disproportionately hard -- especially those in out-of-town areas who have no choice but to use cars -- without helping to develop clean alternatives. Royal said the government would do better to "tax oil and energy companies based on the profits they make from fossil fuels" and invest in electric cars.

The toxic turn of the debate has alarmed environmentalists, with the lobby group France Nature Environment saying Royal's attacks risked turning voters against the idea of green taxation. "You cannot get the same results as the carbon tax by taxing Total's profits. It's not possible, and to say it is is populism," FNE's spokesman Arnaud Gossement charged Tuesday.

Under proposals floated so far, all revenue from the carbon tax -- estimated at four to eight billion euros (5.7 to 11.4 billion dollars) -- would be handed back to consumers, in the form of "green cheques" or tax cuts elsewhere. But France's junior environment minister, Chantal Jouanno, says the government faces a "very intricate" balancing act to ensure the tax is fair.

Former Socialist prime minister Michel Rocard, who headed the bipartisan panel that drafted the plans, admitted to AFP on Monday "there is a real risk of social injustice." He said the key question facing the government was "how do we redistribute the money to people in a way that changes their behaviour, but without harming their overall spending power."

Finance Minister Christine Lagarde insists the overall tax burden on French households will not rise, and denies the proceeds will be used to replenish the state's coffers. But she also admits that it will not be a win-win situation -- some families will pay more than others, based on their carbon footprint.

Based on France's commitment to slash global warming emissions by 75 percent by 2050, the draft plans call for a levy of 32 euros (46 dollars) for every tonne of carbon dioxide emitted, rising to 100 euros per tonne in 2030. In practice the carbon tax would add 0.077 euros (0.11 dollars) to the cost of one litre of unleaded fuel. Household heating costs would rise by between 60 and 170 euros per year, depending on the type of building and method used. Half of all homes would see their total bill for transport and heating jump by an estimated 300 euros.

Fearing a consumer backlash, the government has already said the levy would start at no more than 15 or 20 euros per kilo of CO2, described by Lagarde as a politically "acceptable" figure. Sarkozy's government has said it hopes eventually to extend the carbon contribution to all goods and services, to shift part of the overall French tax burden from labour towards polluting goods.

Four European countries -- Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Britain -- have so far adopted tax measures to curb consumption of energy-hungry products. The climate contribution is separate from a proposal floated by Sarkozy in March for a carbon tax on imports from countries which have lower environmental standards than France.



India is digging in against legally binding caps on carbon emissions ahead of December's climate-change talks with the U.S. and Europe in Copenhagen.

On Wednesday, the Indian government released a report that showed the country's per capita greenhouse-gas emissions -- thought to be the cause behind global warming -- will be lower over the next two decades than the global per capita emissions in 2005. These levels will also remain lower than those of Western countries for about the same period, the report said.

The findings aim to rebut concerns that India's quest to become a global economic power will transform it into a leading emitter of greenhouse gases. Still largely agrarian and poor, India has bristled at suggestions from industrialized countries, such as the U.S., that it should do more to cap emissions even if it means curbing growth.

Still, the release of the study also demonstrates India's eagerness to justify its pro-growth stance before it heads into climate-change talks. Indian officials have said the government remains focused on eliminating poverty through aggressive economic growth and industrialization.

In December, countries meeting in Copenhagen will try to forge a pact on carbon emission-reduction targets beyond 2012, when the existing international accord expires. India has pledged that it won't allow per capita emissions to surpass the average per capita emissions of developed countries.



Top British climate boffins have said that the only practical hope for arresting global warming is the use of "geoengineering" - techniques intended to reduce the effects of CO2 emissions, as opposed to reducing the CO2 emissions themselves. The scientists add that not only are large emissions cuts politically and diplomatically unfeasible, but that geoengineering would actually be cheaper and easier.

The new arguments come from Professor Peter Cox, Met Office Chair in climate system dynamics at Exeter Uni, and Hazel Jeffery, a major bigwig at the UK Natural Environment Research Council. The pair presented the case for geoengineering in an article for Physics World yesterday. Following on from a recent review of geoengineering techniques carried out for the Royal Society, Cox and Jeffery outline the various strategies which have been put forward - generally efforts to remove carbon from the atmosphere or to reflect sunlight back into space.

According to the two scientists, so-called "conventional mitigation" - that is, the curbing of CO2 emissions - is highly unlikely to be implemented effectively by the whole human race, and even if it is it won't work. "Even if global CO2 emissions are cut by 50% by 2050, this now seems unlikely to be enough to keep global warming below 2°C this century ... global CO2 emissions have continued to climb despite growing concerns over climate change. Given that conventional mitigation now appears insufficient to avoid dangerous climate change, do we have a plan B? This is the motivation for geoengineering."

Cox and Jeffery say that most climate scientists have until lately refused to discuss geoengineering as it might seem to allow continued or even increased carbon emissions - generally seen as totally unacceptable among specialists in the field. "Discussion of geoengineering proposals remained taboo among mainstream climate scientists until 2006... The primary reason there has been so little debate about geoengineering amongst climate scientists is concern that such a debate would imply an alternative to reducing the human carbon footprint."

Bitchslap for white roofs and artificial trees

The pair seem to back up the worst fears of conventional climate scientists, by saying - more or less - that it would be cheaper for the human race to carry on emitting carbon as much as we like and save the planet using geoengineering, as compared to cutting CO2 emissions. A renewables or nuclear powered world using electric or hydrogen transport would be much more expensive to implement than a coal and oil burning civilisation with global warming controlled by an upper-atmosphere particulate sunscreen, for instance. "While some approaches, such as ocean fertilization or white-roof techniques, can be ruled out because they are unlikely to have a significant global climate benefit, most of the geoengineering proposals appear cheap compared with conventional mitigation. More importantly, many have a higher climate benefit to annual cost ratio than conventional mitigation...

The estimated costs of maintaining a sulphate aerosol shield, most likely through a small number of dedicated high-flying aircraft, are remarkably cheap compared with the costs of conventional mitigation by factors of hundreds or even thousands."

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers will be cross, as they have recently suggested that white roofs would be a good notion. In the same document, the IMechE also said that extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere for sequestration underground would be a brilliant plan.

Cox and Jeffery disagree, however, saying that artificial trees and sequestration would be even more expensive than cutting emissions. The only advantage of the scheme would be that it probably couldn't have unforeseen negative side-effects as with the upper-atmos particulate planes notion. But one could say the same of cutting emissions, which would be cheaper than artificial trees - and yet still so expensive as to mean that it can't happen. "The safest alternative to conventional mitigation is CO2 air capture, which removes the primary cause of global warming and therefore avoids the risks associated with termination, regional climate change and ocean acidification. Currently, however, air capture appears expensive relative to conventional mitigation and very expensive relative to large-scale techniques for solar-radiation management."

Essentially, according to the two boffins, the only planet-saving plans the human race is likely to actually carry out are those which are significantly cheaper and more convenient than conventional emissions cuts. Such plans would appear to offer the only realistic way that a very serious temperature rise can be avoided: so in fact, they should be the main stream of climate science - rather than on the fringe as they are now. "For scientists who want to save the planet, there should be no more attractive research field than geoengineering," the pair write.


NOTE: See also: Engineering the climate, Peter Cox and Hazel Jeffery, Physics World, September 2009


BP has reopened the debate on when the "peak oil" supply will be reached by announcing a big new discovery in the Gulf of Mexico which some believe could be as large as the Forties, the biggest field ever found in the North Sea. The strike comes days after Iran unveiled an even larger find of 8.8bn barrels of crude oil, and the moves have encouraged sceptics of theories which say that peak production has been reached, or soon will be, to hail a new golden age of exploration and supply. BP, already the largest producer of hydrocarbons in the US, said its "giant" Tiber discovery in 4,100ft (1,250m) of water was particularly exciting because it promised to open up a whole new area.

Shares in BP were up 4% to 539p in afternoon trading, making it the biggest riser in the FTSE 100 despite the company saying much more drilling appraisal work was needed before Tiber's commerciality could be guaranteed. "Tiber represents BP's second material discovery in the emerging lower tertiary play in the Gulf of Mexico, following our earlier Kaskida discovery," said Andy Inglis, chief executive of exploration and production. "These material discoveries, together with our industry-leading acreage position, support the continuing growth of our deepwater Gulf of Mexico business into the second half of the next decade."

Analysts agreed that the find appeared to be very significant. "Any time an oil major uses the word 'giant' you have to sit up and take note. Kaskida confirmed the western limits of the lower tertiary play and this extends the limits even further," said Matt Snyder, a Gulf of Mexico specialist at oil consultancy Wood Mackenzie. Fadel Gheit, an equity analyst who follows the oil sector for the Oppenheimer brokerage in New York, said the discovery was a "big feather in BP's cap and reaffirms their leading position in the deep water Gulf of Mexico".

BP itself believes that Tiber is bigger than the prospect on the nearby Kaskida field found in 2006, which has around 3bn barrels of oil reserves in place, while industry experts said Tiber might be as large as Forties, which has 4bn barrels.

Excitement around Tiber comes amid a welter of new finds both in established oil producing areas such as Iran and in new areas such as Uganda and western Greenland. There has recently been an oil rush in the deep waters off Brazil and talk of large onshore volumes of new gas in Holland, although the UK's North Sea fields have seen a slump in drilling levels. "Its an amazing turnaround from the gloom of the last 10 years. All these finds will take a long time to bring on stream, but it shows the industry is capable of finding more oil than it uses and shows we have not come to any peak," said Peter Odell, professor emeritus of international energy studies at Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

However, exponents of peak oil theories said the BP find would not fundamentally change the longer-term supply-and-demand picture. "The International Energy Agency said in its 2008 report that the world needed to find six new Saudi Arabias to meet the growing demand for oil in the future," said Jeremy Leggett, chairman of the renewable power company Solarcentury, and a key peak energy specialist.


NOTE FROM BENNY PEISER: The recent discoveries and the prospects of increasing deep sea oil recovery appears to confirm what the late Julian Simon underlined many years ago: As oil demand and prices rise, so do the economic incentives to invest in new technologies that allow deeper drilling, leading to more discoveries and increased recovery:"The history of energy economics shows that, in spite of troubling fears in each era of running out of whichever source of energy was important at that time, energy has grown progressively less scarce, as shown by long-run falling energy prices. The cause of the increasing plenty in the supply of energy has been the development of improved extraction processes and the discovery of new sources and new types of energy. These new developments have not been fortuitous, but rather have been induced by increased demand caused in part by rising population. A sure way to err in forecasting future supplies is to look at current "known reserves" of oil, coal, and other fossil fuels." (The Ultimate Resource II, 1996,


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


Thursday, September 03, 2009


Developing nations need a 600-billion-dollar "Marshall Plan" annually to tackle climate change with support from rich nations on a scale not seen outside wartime recovery, a UN report said Tuesday. The World Economic and Social Survey called for a "Global Sustainable New Deal" to overcome the "woefully inadequate" estimate of 21 billion dollars currently set aside internationally to adapt to and cope with climate change.

Touching on a core stumbling block in global climate talks, the report said that poor nations needed a huge investment programme from rich nations to shift to clean energy, and to adapt to the weather changes and damage wrought by global warming. The transformation would require "a level of international support and solidarity rarely mustered outside a wartime setting," according to the survey by the UN's department of economic and social affairs. "What we're arguing for given the kind of money we're talking about is a new Marshall Plan to tackle climate change and development," said author Richard Kozul-Wright.

"The ballpark figure in this report is one percent of world GDP, something in the order currently of 500 billion to 600 billion dollars (419 billion euros) annually is what developing countries will need in terms of international support to make this kind of shift sooner rather than later," the UN economist told journalists.

World leaders will meet in the Danish capital Copenhagen in December in a bid to seal a new international accord against climate change, aimed primarily at setting new emissions cuts and drawing developing nations into the deal. But industralised, emerging and developing nations are at loggerheads in the negotiations, including over the issue of additional funding to help poor countries mitigate and adapt to global warming.

The latest UN figure is well above previous estimates. "The kind of adjustments required have been seriously underestimated," said Kozul-Wright, calling for more "leadership" from high polluting rich nations and "much more frank and open discussions about burden sharing at the international level." The report acknowledged that the required public investment push for climate action was "substantial and daunting," but pointed to the trillion dollar support given to banks and the financial system over the past year. "This is a systemic threat," said the senior UN economist.

The report warned that incremental, market-based solutions such as emissions trading were not enough. Instead they needed to find a way to pursue high economic growth as well as low emissions simultaneously, rather than to stifle industrial activity in order to cut energy use. Investment within the next decade followed by rapid growth would sustain a wholesale transition to clean energy in poor nations and gradually help them to stand alone in coping with changing weather patterns, it added.

The report endorsed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: "The idea of freezing the current level of global inequality over the next half century or more, as the world goes about trying to solve the climate problem, is economically, politically and ethically unacceptable."

It pointed out that while the world needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 80 percent over 1990 levels by 2050, the energy generating capacity of developing countries was projected to be double that of their developed counterparts. The report firmly laid the burden for current cuts on wealthy nations, noting that carbon emissions from China's booming economy were equivalent to those of the United States before World War I.



The cost of reducing China's total greenhouse gas emissions is likely to reach $438bn a year within 20 years, and developed economies will have to bear much of that cost, according to a group of Beijing's leading climate economists. The figure, equivalent to about 7.5 per cent of China's estimated gross domestic product in 2030, is likely to be deployed to support Beijing's argument at December's climate change summit in Copenhagen that industrialised nations must share the cost of cutting emissions in developing countries.

The analysis suggests that China must substantially ramp up its spending on curbing greenhouse gases in the next 20 years, or face enormous bills for cutting emissions from 2030.

Economic studies such as the 2006 review of the costs of climate change by Lord Stern, and a host of subsequent reports, have found that early action on emissions is cheapest, and that deferring curbs to emissions leads to far greater costs in the medium term.

Zou Ji, head of the department of environmental economics and management at the People's University in Beijing, which conducted the study, told the Financial Times that China could be expected to pay for measures to slow the growth of emissions. But the cost of doing more than that should be shared by the international community because it was aimed at the "global public good" of saving the planet, he said.

In May, Beijing said developed countries should spend 0.5 to 1 per cent of annual GDP to help poorer countries cut emissions - a contribution that would cost the Group of Eight developed economies more than $300bn (€210bn, £185bn) a year. The much larger figure of $438bn assumes that China continues its current measures to improve energy efficiency and to increase the use of renewable fuels.

China has so far resisted committing itself to any cap on its emissions, citing economic development needs while holding out for pledges of financial support for cuts. Su Wei, director-general of the climate change department at China's National Development and Reform Commission, told the FT last month that the country's emissions would peak by 2050.

Professor Zou said he believed that a proposal to cut total global emissions by half by 2050 would be impossible to achieve technologically. His group's study estimated the cost of more aggressive measures to curtail Chinese emissions growth after 2030 at $284bn a year through to 2050 and $508bn annually after that.

Actually reducing the level of emissions after 2030 would cost an additional $154bn a year, according to results from the study seen by the FT. A peak in 2030 was "technologically feasible but financially very challenging," said Prof Zou. The study bases its calculations on 62 technologies considered crucial by the researchers to cutting emissions, and argues that for many of these technologies, China lacks key intellectual property rights or the research capacity to develop them further as quickly as can be done in economically advanced countries.

Prof Zou said the cost of cutting emissions would rise over time, and researchers worked on the assumption that real cuts in Chinese emissions would come from new technologies that would start to move beyond the experimental stage only around 2030. The People's University scholars also assumed higher rates of inflation than used in other studies.



by Jim Manzi -- who points out that even assuming that CO2 is harmful, the proposed response is still arbitrary and irrational

Burning fossil fuels creates so-called “external costs” because it contributes to ongoing climate change. This is a fancy way of saying that when I burn such fuels, other people become worse off than they would be otherwise, because I have increased the odds that they will suffer damages from anthropogenic global warming (AGW). This both seems unfair, and means that we will burn more fossil fuels than would seem to be socially optimal. It seems obvious to many people that we should therefore tax fossil fuels in order to prevent this. This is termed a Pigovian tax, and is sometimes referred to as “internalizing the externality”, or taxing fossil fuels to reflect the “social cost of carbon”.

It’s not so obvious to me that this is good idea. To implement it would be little more than a re-labeling of the kind of comprehensive planning that Hayek attacked sixty years ago. Here’s why.

Start with the point that we tax an activity, not a substance. Let’s take the example of burning a gallon of gasoline by driving to work rather than riding your bike. This action creates social cost in the form of AGW. But it also creates other social costs, such as, for example, local air pollution, congestion, noise and increased risk of accidents for others.

Why would we privilege a unit of social cost created by AGW over that same unit of social cost created by any of these other effects? If I die from cancer because I inhaled some of your fumes or I die from flooding because of increased global temperatures, I am in each case equally dead. But it also creates social benefits. You spend less time travelling, get to work earlier and produce more output that day; because you can not capture all of the social utility of your labor, this creates incremental social benefit.

You also have more time at home, and use this time with your kids to improve their educational outcomes, which creates social utility in later years. And so on, ad infinitum. In order to set the tax, we don’t just need to know the costs created by AGW (which is a pretty tall order), but rather all of the social costs and benefits created by the activity, which is far harder.

And what is typically assumed is that we only need to know the marginal social costs of one more gallon of gasoline; but really if we are discussing a tax sufficient to change the structure of the world energy economy over many decades to head off AGW, then we need to know something a lot closer to the average social costs of a gallon of petroleum. (Or more precisely, the marginal costs of very large changes). [...]

The only real argument for rapid, aggressive emissions abatement boils down to the point that you can’t prove a negative. If it turns out that even the outer edge of the probability distribution of our predictions for global-warming impacts is enormously conservative, and disaster looms if we don't change our ways radically and this instant, then we really should start shutting down power plants and confiscating cars tomorrow morning. We have no good evidence that such a disaster scenario is imminent, but nobody can conceivably prove it to be impossible. Once you get past the table-pounding, any rationale for rapid emissions abatement that confronts the facts in evidence is really a more or less sophisticated restatement of the precautionary principle: the somewhat grandiosely named idea that the downside possibilities are so bad that we should pay almost any price to avoid almost any chance of their occurrence.

But if you want to use this rationale to justify large economic costs, what non-arbitrary stopping condition will you choose for how much we should limit emissions? Assume for the moment that we could have a perfectly implemented global carbon tax. If we introduced a tax high enough to keep atmospheric carbon concentration to no more than 1.5x its current level (assuming we could get the whole world to go along), we would expect to spend about $17 trillion more than the benefits that we would achieve in the expected case. That’s a heck of an insurance premium for an event so low-probability that it is literally outside of a probability distribution. Of course, I can find scientists who say that level of atmospheric carbon dioxide is too dangerous. Al Gore has a more aggressive proposal that if implemented through an optimal carbon tax (again, assuming we can get the whole word to go along) would cost more like $23 trillion in excess of benefits in the expected case. Of course, this wouldn't eliminate all uncertainty, and I can find scientists who say we need to reduce emissions even faster. Once we leave the world of odds and handicapping and enter the world of the precautionary principle, there is really no principled stopping point. We would be chasing an endlessly receding horizon of zero risk.

We are left, then, wandering in exactly the wilderness of mirrors that I described earlier. There is no analytical basis on which we can really “put a price on carbon”. It becomes pure power politics. This isn’t just theory. Consider seriously the evidence of what really happened in the Waxman-Markey debate. That wasn’t random. Even more, consider how such taxes have really been set in the UK. Matthew Sinclair has a recent paper in the journal Energy & Environment in which he compares the total green taxes paid by Britons to the estimates of external AGW costs created by them according to various well-known and authoritative sources such as the IPCC, Nordhaus, Tol and DEFRA. Take the example of driving. According to this paper, Britons currently pay motoring taxes (net of road construction and maintenance) that are somewhere between 5 and 50 times the AGW externalities that they impose. The paper argues that massively excess green taxes are paid economy-wide.

I yield to few men in my admiration for Hayek and his ideas. His prediction that the welfare state would lead to serfdom, however, has (thus far) not been correct. I don’t think that a carbon tax will be the one event that will push the free world into socialist slavery. But it does seem clear that the same dynamics he described decades ago have re-emerged, simply with a different theoretical justification. The same problems with planning that he highlighted will also be present now.

Taxing carbon to reflect its social costs seems like a common sense idea. Unfortunately, it simply provides another excuse to politicians to raise taxes and exert more power over us.



The UK could be rationing electricity within 8 years because demand for power is forecast to outstrip supply. The British government committed the nation to its Low Carbon Transition Plan in July, an idea that hopes wind and solar can produce enough electricity to power the entire country. Renewable energy is a green dream that will turn into a nightmare for families facing sudden power cuts or scheduled brown-outs.

In the 21st century, the idea that a nation cannot provide enough power for its people and industries should be unthinkable. There is no coal shortage, no oil shortage and no Uranium shortage. The only shortage is plants that convert these fuels into power. But why?

Greens have played a key role in dePowering the UK, Greenpeace scofflaws at Kingsnorth illustrate the radical scaremongering that made the idea of building new generating capacity a political nightmare. Eco-radicals are proud of their drive to deprive people of affordable energy, witness the Sierra Club in the USA and how they brag about the 100 power stations they ‘prevented‘.

The perfect storm of a spineless political class and a somnolent public faced with aggressive green lobby groups has brought the UK to a point where it is a country without an energy future. No one listens to voices of reason, preferring to pretend that renewable energy can fill the gap and ignoring that ‘green’ alternatives require the industrialization of the open countryside:

… the land area occupied by wind farms would be nearly 10 percent of the country, or roughly the size of Wales. The area occupied by desert solar power stations — in the case of Britain, they would have to be connected by long-distance power lines — would be five times the size of London. The 50 nuclear power stations required would occupy a more modest 50 square kilometers.

What will happen in 8 years when the lights start to go out across Britain? Here’s two predictions that will drive greens nuts, because the unintended consequences of their blinkered knee-jerk activism will result in bad outcomes for the environment:

Unlike the 1970’s, small generators are available and affordable. Families and small businesses that can afford them will buy their own rather than lose a freezer full of meat or their Internet connection. Small generators run on gas and are pretty inefficient, inconveniently.

The government of the day will panic and will build new generation capacity as cheaply and quickly as it can, which means new coal powered plants, the very thing that Greenpeace and other eco-naifs wished to avoid. (A potential problem for green radicals is that any attempts to block urgent new builds will likely be frowned upon by a public that want their lights on, cutting off their essential cover of public support.)

British people are waking up to a major problem that threatens to negatively impact their everyday lives. Politicians will pay a heavy price for their part in the fiasco, the only question is whether there will be a backlash against the idiot greens that pushed the country to the brink and perhaps over it.

Whatever happens, the situation in Britain is a canary in the coal mine for other countries blindly following the green path. If you live in the USA, Canada, Australia or any other country where carbon has been demonized by eco-hysterics, this could happen to you. Get involved and stop the rot, before your lights go out.


Cap-and-trade can’t bridge gap between unions and enviros

Inspired by the speed and spending of the Apollo moon landing, the Apollo Alliance — a coalition of community organizers, environmentalists and big labor — is aggressively pushing President Barack Obama’s plan to regulate carbon emissions through cap-and-trade. If a recent meeting of labor and environmentalists is any indication, however, cap-and-trade may end up in a disaster more reminiscent of the Apollo 13 mission than the triumphant Apollo 11 landing.

Earlier this month, the AFL-CIO and its Washington state affiliate hosted a conference on the proposal in Wenatchee, Wash. Despite labor’s seat at the table, Bob Baugh, executive director of the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council, conceded that cap-and-trade posed a serious threat to workers, especially labor members in energy-intensive industries.

Baugh’s right. According to a recent report by the Heritage Foundation, Waxman-Markey would cost millions of jobs and would increase unemployment levels for every year: 1.9 million fewer jobs in 2012, and an average of 1.14 million fewer jobs from 2012 through 2035. Those industries most affected would include manufacturing, glass, plastic and rubber-product production, and the fabricated-metal industries — all heavily unionized sectors.

Under cap-and-trade, industries would be forced to pay for expensive carbon credits or face massive fines. Some manufacturers would shut down facilities to fit under the cap or to seek a profit from selling their extra carbon credits. Other industries will simply relocate facilities, and the jobs that come with them, overseas.

Proponents of cap-and-trade refer to these job and industry losses as “leakage,” and concede there is no real answer for the problem, barring an international commitment from developing nations, which currently seems unlikely. According to Baugh, the AFL-CIO is demanding “border adjustments,” or “taxing the hell out of” every product that comes into the country, in order to even the playing field.

The Obama administration, which initially hinted at including such measures in order to gain union support, is now backing away under pressure from Canada and other U.S. trading partners. Obama also dashed hopes by big labor that developing nations would also face restrictive caps on emissions, stating that now “is not the time” to include countries like China and India. Baugh called failure to include developing nations under an international cap and border adjustments “a deal breaker” for trade unions, and warned that it was “hard enough” keeping local unions on board.

A recent Pew Research Center poll explains why. Americans’ primary concern is the economy and keeping jobs. Climate change is dead last on a list of 30 issues.

Joel Merkel, legislative counsel for Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., says the senator is leaning against supporting Waxman-Markey because she worries about the federal government “picking winners and losers” among industries. Merkel told the conference that Cantwell didn’t believe the bill that passed the House had any chance of passing in the Senate. Cap-and-trade is expected to generate billions of dollars, and Merkel explained that the only way the House was able to narrowly pass the bill was by promising “slices of the cap-and-trade pie” to particular industries in specific districts.

Senators, who represent states with multiple, diverse industries, do not want to be put in the position of helping some workers, while devastating others.

The economic and political realities of job leakage may soon have many cap-and-trade proponents in the Obama administration and the Apollo Alliance making the same assessment.


China's Dongtan: the eco-city that never was

China’s big, impractical eco-city was all greenwash but it fooled lots of people for a long time

It was nice while it lasted, but now, it seems, the dream is over. The long-awaited, much-feted eco-city of Dongtan – described by environmental campaigner, Herbert Girardet as ‘the world’s first eco-city’ – has bitten the dust. After four years of presentations, proposals and puff, the universal praise has proven to be a little premature.

Dongtan, a new city development (three quarters the size of Manhattan Island) was to have been built on Chongming Island, near Shanghai, in the Yangtze River Delta. The first phase, comprising a city of 25,000 people, was due to have opened for the Shanghai Expo in 2010. By 2030 it was intended to house 500,000 residents. In Western terms, this sort of ambition is impressive, but in terms of China’s own plans to create a further 20 cities a year over the next 20 years, Dongtan was small fry. But, of course, an eco-city is not meant to be intrusive.

Dongtan has been variously credited for its planned zero-carbon footprint, encouragement of biodiversity, low car-usage, and low-consumption ideals. Peter Head, director of the engineering firm Arup, which was in charge of the project, said: ‘It is no gimmick. It is being led at the highest levels of the Chinese government. They are very committed to developing a new paradigm of economic development.’ (1) It was claimed that while ‘Shanghai has a typical ecological footprint of 5.8 global hectares per person… Dongtan eco-city will be 2.6’. Dongtan had been feted for so long that it is remarkable to some people to learn that it hasn’t already been built. It’s even more incredible to learn that it probably never will be.

In five years, practically nothing constructive has happened. The site has been cleared, the farmers and peasants moved off the land, and large areas prepared – but, as one observer puts it, ‘no construction has occurred there – indeed it’s gone backwards, as a visitor centre previously built is now shut’. All references to it have been removed from both the Shanghai Expo’s website as well as Arup’s.

Admittedly, a multi-million dollar bridge from the island to Shanghai is nearing completion, which ought to open up the Dongtan region for development, but fingers are being pointed at a range of suspects for the collapse of the overall project: the corruption of local politicians, the use of challenging technologies, lapsed planning permissions, or the greed of major international consultancies that were riding in on the Chinese urban goldrush with little regard for practical niceties.

There are undoubtedly elements of truth in all of these claims, but why did no one spot that nothing was happening? The simple fact is that nobody ever questioned the hype.

Engineering company Arup was contracted in August 2005 by Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC) to become the lead consultant for the design and masterplan of Dongtan. Since the initial sketches, the environmental PR machine has kicked in. Small-scale, computer-generated bird’s eye images of the eco-city proposals featured in practically every architecture magazine, and Arup found itself the centre of an eco-renaissance of urban sustainability. As Arup says, there have been many ‘collaboration opportunities for UK academics and Chinese researchers arising from Arup’s eco-city projects in China’.

The UK’s New Statesman described how ‘all housing will be within seven minutes’ walk of public transport. Most citizens will work within the city, which will produce sufficient electricity and heat for its own use, entirely from renewable sources. There will be no emissions from vehicles. Food will be produced on the island’ (2). The striking thing is that while everyone seemed to love this radical urban development, nobody ever questioned the layout: the design, the form, the architecture, or even the reality. They were all too busy promoting the carbon neutral dream.

In the course of five years’ promotional editorial for this project, you will be hard pressed to find one critical assessment of the project, and, I would wager, any negative articles at all. The mainstream and architectural press have a lot to answer for in blindly accepting the hype without asking the most basic questions. But given that the prefix ‘eco’ tends to provide immunity from criticism, the Dongtan bandwagon became unassailable. Simon Foxall of The Edge – a forum set up to stimulate public interest in policy questions that affect the built environment – summed up the hopes embodied in the scheme. ‘Dongtan’, he said, ‘is not a “thing”, but a “process” – one that is just as applicable to the Thames Gateway as it is to the Yangtze Delta.’ (3) Coincidentally, ‘The Edge’ was a forum established with support from the Arup Foundation and sponsored by the Carbon Trust.

Now, it seems that the process is all over, environmental commentators are having to save face without sounding too contrite. After all, they were simply taken in, weren’t they? Journalist Fred Pearce sums up the situation: ‘We all wasted our time; burned carbon flying to Shanghai to relay a false prospectus to the world. If I sound bitter, I am. This time, I was a personal victim of greenwash.’

It wasn’t his fault, of course. After all, given that this project was promoted for its environmental credentials, why on earth would a journalist of Pearce’s standing ever have questioned anything? His role was simply to visit and throw garlands. He is suitably annoyed that – on finding that the Emperor has no clothes – he wants to portray himself as being ‘hoodwinked’ by an elaborate deception. ‘Shanghai’, he says ‘milked the media well’ (4).

But Dongtan is not alone. In 2005, environmental architect and author of Cradle to Cradle, Bill McDonough, started building his eco-village project in China, at Huangbaiyu in Liaoning Province. Local commentators have pointed out that to clear the site, productive arable land was bulldozed, resulting in no harvest for four years. Anthropologist Shannon May reported at the time: ‘While the shells were completed, there were significant problems with the function of the houses: there was no electricity, no water, no gas. The houses have essentially remained in this state through the end of 2008… the promise of a model ecological development in Huangbaiyu never came to pass.’

McDonough has distanced his company from the failures, suggesting that they should have ‘managed… unrealistically high expectations built up’ by the various design teams and stakeholders. What McDonough doesn’t admit is that, actually, low-tech housing processes were anathema to the desires of the local people. They wanted speedy, well-built, solid housing, especially since the ‘sustainable’ versions ended up costing $20,000 each. Wired magazine recently suggested that the local dignitaries had only bought into the idea because they thought that it would bring the promise of eco-investment. When they found out that they were building mud-houses for no financial gain, they reverted to the speedier concrete methods of construction.

There is a growing interpretation that the failures of these eco-cities are a consequence of them being too ambitious. The opposite is true. China is a rapidly developing country with massive areas of underdevelopment. To raise such regions out of penury, improve housing and increase productive employment, development needs to be urgent, rapid and, in many instances, wilful. A look at Britain’s historic infrastructural ambition may serve to exemplify the point.

In the UK, we have got used to the sight of mile after mile of pylon steelwork marching across otherwise unspoiled countryside. However, many of us realise that the optimal way that the national grid could, maybe should, have been created is with underground supply lines, which would have been less visually intrusive, less prone to weather damage, and with possibly fewer maintenance problems. But at the time, the ambition was to deliver power to every home in the country, as quickly as possible. At the time, the Electricity Supply Act of 1926 was ‘projective rather than reactive and did more than any other piece of legislation between the wars to provide effective industrial structures’ (5). Speed was of the essence and while there were protracted disputes about the citing of pylons, the nationalised Central Electricity Board won people over by ‘associat[ing] electricity with the idea of modernity’ (6). A similar process is at play in China.

Admittedly, China’s State Council has complained that energy-intensive industries are developing too quickly and preventing China from reaching its energy efficiency goals (7). Such sentiments are necessary to drive China’s competitiveness as well as helping to combat the widespread pollution arising from rapid industrial growth and carbon intensive industry. However, an over-concentration on environmental matters can dull the senses and our critical faculties and prevent us from seeing the bigger picture.

Dongtan, the city that was intended to be the ‘model for how to build sustainable cities worldwide’ should still provide a lesson for us all. Blindly praising its environmental credentials without recognising its squat, low-rise, parochial, carbon-fetishising, architecturally unappealing, unworkable urban eco-clichés, is a recipe for future disasters.



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


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Warmist law would put a pile of cash into the pockets of nuclear power operators -- if enacted

Maybe this will be a deterrent to enacting it! Given how much Greenies hate nuclear

Nearly half of the nation's nuclear power plants stand to earn a windfall if the climate-change bill passed by the House becomes law. The legislation, which passed by a narrow vote in June, would open the way for nuclear plants operating in states that have unregulated electricity markets to charge much higher prices than they currently do. The price increases would translate directly into higher profits for nuclear-plant operators - reaching into the billions of dollars a year.

"There's an incentive to raise prices, because competing fuels would become more expensive under the bill," said Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at Public Citizen, a D.C.-based advocacy group. "If you move up prices, you'll move up your profits."

Under the House-passed bill, power facilities that run on fossil fuels such as coal would have to pay for the right to pollute, specifically to emit carbon dioxide, raising their operating costs, perhaps significantly. The "pay-to-pollute" system would result in higher electricity prices on the open market. Because operating costs for nuclear plants would be unaffected by the House bill, nuclear plant operators would see higher prices for their product - at least in some markets - while their production costs remain flat, resulting in big profits to the bottom line.

The bill will cause an "increase in revenues to carbon-free power sources like nuclear, and this is exactly what is supposed to happen," said John Shelk, president of the Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA).

Lawmakers see the price rise as a market-based way to deter the use of fossil fuels, notably coal and crude oil. The House bill, however, still faces an uphill fight in the Senate.

The average U.S. price for electricity could rise by an additional 13 percent by 2020, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The American Public Power Association estimates that the price of electricity could jump an extra 20 percent in the bill's early years.

Nuclear power plants give off no carbon emissions and would not be hit with increased operating costs under the House-passed bill. Any market increase in the price of electricity, therefore, would produce a big boost in the profits of nuclear facilities operating in states with unregulated markets. Forty-six of the 104 nuclear power plants in the U.S. operate in states with unregulated electricity markets, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the main lobby for nuclear energy. In these markets, there is no control on profits that power generators can collect. The other 58 nuclear plants operate in regulated markets, where power generators' profits are controlled.

Power generators that use coal, the dirtiest and cheapest source of energy, would have to raise their electricity rates to recoup the cost of their carbon dioxide emissions under the bill. Generators of nuclear energy and hydroelectric power, however, would not.

The amount of money that nuclear companies collect from higher electricity prices, in excess of their operating costs, would be profit. Generators of hydroelectric power - electricity from moving water - also stand to reap big profits under the House measure....

The American Public Power Association, which represents community-owned electric utilities, said the profits that nuclear companies could collect would be substantial. "There could be a very large amount of money moving from consumers' pockets to power companies with no environmental benefits," said Joe Nipper, senior vice president of the association.



The raucous debate over health care could thwart the Senate’s enactment of sweeping energy and climate legislation this year, say Democratic aides, energy lobbyists and environmentalists. If Democrats fail to push through a health care bill — or get embroiled in even more contentious debate this fall — experts fear they’d lose much of the momentum necessary to get the controversial climate and energy legislation through the Senate. “If health care ends up being very contentious, you may not be able to go back to the well again for climate votes,” said Scott Segal, a lobbyist for energy companies at Bracewell & Giuliani. “The debate will either take up too much time, too much political capital or both.”

A major worry is that Congress will be unwilling to take up such complex, divisive energy and climate legislation next year because moderate Democrats believe the issue would be toxic for them during the midterm elections, as Republicans have promised to make climate a top campaign issue. Moderate Democrats from coal and manufacturing states have already expressed doubts about the bill — particularly the centerpiece provision, a cap-and-trade system that limits greenhouse gas emissions by forcing utilities, manufacturers and other companies to buy, sell and trade pollution allowances. Those Democrats may be unwilling to vote for the measure, especially if they have already taken a tough vote on health care.

“It’s not slam-dunk,” said Frank O’Donnell, head of Clean Air Watch, an environmental advocacy group. “It’s going to take some very serious discussions and negotiations before it will be ready to get 60 votes.”

In August, four Democratic senators — Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad, both of North Dakota — urged that the cap-and-trade provision be dropped. Their opposition came a week after 10 moderate Democratic senators — mostly undecideds whose support will be critical to passage — sent a letter to President Barack Obama, saying they would not support a bill that didn’t protect American manufacturing. “It is essential that any clean energy legislation not only address the crisis of climate change but include strong provisions to ensure the strength and viability of domestic manufacturing,” they wrote.

The House narrowly passed an energy and climate bill in late June, with 44 Democrats — largely from rural, coal-dependent and manufacturing states — voting against it. Progress has slowed in the Senate, where lawmakers are more focused on health care.


Green/Left radiation hysteria stubs its toe on Chernobyl

Selective attention to detail at Chernobyl CAN show adverse effects in areas where the radiation is particularly high but at lower levels the radiation is harmless and animals are thriving. Greenie scientists can only see the harmed bits. The basic toxicological truth that the toxicity is in the dose applies to ionizing radiation too -- but to the Green/Left it is ALL bad, no matter how low the dose. They find it handy for scaring people

'We walked out into a wasteland, grey and desolate. The buildings had deteriorated, windows had been smashed. Trees and weeds had grown over everything: it was a ghost town." It reads like a passage from a post-apocalyptic novel, such as Cormac McCarthy's The Road; in fact, it's how Tim Mousseau describes his first visit to Chernobyl.

In 1999, this Professor of Biological Sciences from the University of South Carolina travelled to the site of the world's most horrific nuclear accident, alongside Professor Anders Møller, an ornithologist and evolutionary biologist from the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris. Their on-site research has sparked an intense controversy over the effects of radiation on humans and animals – one which they hope their latest trip into the fallout zone, which sets out in two weeks, will help to resolve.

The basic facts of Chernobyl are well known. At 1.23am on April 26, 1986, reactor number four at the Soviet nuclear power plant (sited in modern-day Ukraine) exploded, after an electrical test went horribly wrong. The radioactive material released was hundreds of times greater than the fallout over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, polluting about 80,000 square miles of land across Europe and spreading radioactive rain as far as north-west Ireland.

In the wake of the accident, more than 300,000 people were evacuated and an 800 square mile exclusion zone created around the reactor. Yet recently it has been reported that the abandoned town of Pripyat has become a wildlife haven. There have been sightings of wolves, bears and moose wandering through the deserted streets, and swifts swoop round abandoned office blocks.

The implication is that if wildlife can return so soon, nuclear radiation – and nuclear power – might be less dangerous than has been suggested. James Lovelock, the creator of the Gaia theory, has even written that the natural world "would welcome nuclear waste as the perfect guardian against greedy developers… the preference of wildlife for nuclear-waste sites suggests that the best sites for its disposal are the tropical forests and other habitats in need of a reliable guardian against their destruction by hungry farmers and developers".

According to a UN report in 2005, long-term cancers caused by Chernobyl will eventually kill about 4,000 people: an alarming total, but less than predicted. In fact, in an age of "dirty bombs" and nuclear proliferation, Chernobyl functions as a grim experiment into the consequences of extensive nuclear fallout. Although radiation levels have dropped significantly over the 23 years, there are still "hot" regions. Prof Mousseau says that the most contaminated areas measure 300 microSieverts per hour on the Geiger counter, the equivalent of 1,200 times normal radiation levels, or 15 times as much as a chest X-ray. "Long-term exposure would be deleterious," he adds drily.

The real problem, however, is environmental contamination of radionucleotides, caesium, strontium, and plutonium, which have half-lives of 30,000, 29,000 and 24,000 years respectively. Since this means that over that time period, these chemicals will decay to half their previous concentrations, they will contaminate the land for years.

"What you need to worry about is eating the food, because ingestion is the main way that one becomes exposed to radiation poisoning here," says Prof Mousseau.

And despite the stories about nature thriving in the Chernobyl area, Prof Mousseau is not convinced. The first discovery that he and Prof Møller made was that birds in the fallout zone were suffering increased levels of genetic mutations. The pair examined 20,000 barn swallows and found crippled toes, deformed beaks, malformed tails, irregularly shaped eyes and tumours. Some birds had red plumage where it should have been blue, or blue where it should have been red.

Thanks to the contamination of the food supply, bird species have declined by more than 50 per cent in high-radiation areas. Only a fraction of the swallows are reproducing, and of those that do lay eggs, only five per cent hatch. Fewer than a third of birds survive to become adults. Prof Mousseau and Prof Møller could confirm that these abnormalities were genetic by examining the swallows' sperm....

It seems like a portrait of an ecosystem in crisis – so how have other scientists reported the opposite? Dr Robert Baker and Dr Ronald Chesser, from Texas Tech University, conducted their own study, published in the journal American Scientist in 2006: "We were surprised by the diversity of mammals living in the shadow of the ruined reactor only eight years after meltdown."

Their long-term studies contradicted those of Professors Mousseau and Møller, describing the region as "thriving", with a wild boar population 10 to 15 times higher in the exclusion zone than outside. They also failed to find any type of elevated mutation rate, or evidence that survival among animals living around Chernobyl differs from those in clean environments.

"Chernobyl is not a lunar landscape," says Prof Mousseau. "You can hear birds and mammals, spot the occasional wolf and fox, there are trees and plants – so it's not a complete desert. The reason for this misunderstanding is because there is a quiltwork of contamination, so you could have lots of organisms in one area, and none in another. To a trained biologist, though, it's very obvious."

Those are fighting words – particularly as both teams will shortly publish papers about mammals in the region that have diametrically opposed results.

For his part, Dr Chesser says: "I think that the discrepancy between our work and that of Møller and Mousseau stems from their inattention to details. I will go no further than that. I have no doubt that our work is accurate."

Prof Mousseau is equally forthright: "I'd rather avoid discussing specifics of their work, but no other folks apart from us have been rigorously counting organisms and measuring their distribution and the background contamination. Their work is based on anecdotes."


British regulator lacks legal power to ban incandescent bulbs

How are shops supposed to decide whether a customer intends a 100W bulb for use in a 'household', wonders Christopher Booker

The continuing drama over the EU's drive to force us all to use only so-called "low energy" light bulbs, rather than the incandescent bulbs that many of us prefer, has brought to light a truly surreal legislative blunder. Last week, it was reported that, as from next Tuesday, the public will be expected to report to trading standards officers anyone guilty of selling "illegal' incandescent bulbs. I thought I would check with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether such an absurd thing could be true.

No, I was told, it will still be legal to sell existing stocks of 100 watt or frosted bulbs, but it will be a criminal offence to import them from outside the EU. When I asked the legal basis for this, I was directed to various laws, starting with the EU's 2005 Eco-Design of Energy-Using Products directive. When I asked how this had been put into British law, I was directed to a regulation of 2007 which turned out to concern the "eco-design" of fridges and boilers but said nothing about imported light bulbs.

I was also, however, pointed to a European Commission regulation (244/2009) of March this year, regarding "eco-design requirements for non-directional household lamps". Wading through a lot of bureaucratic gobbledegook about "non-directional" bulbs used for lighting domestic rooms ("a non-directional lamp", it helpfully explains, "is a lamp which is not directional"), at last I found the explanation for what Defra thinks it is up to – and its extraordinary blunder came to light.

This curious story goes back to the day in March 2007 when the EU's leaders, including Tony Blair, gathered in Brussels to approve a package of proposals designed to stop global warming. It was soon clear they hadn't the slightest idea how all their quixotic dreams could be put into effect, because these raised all sorts of practical problems which were left to hapless officials to resolve.

On the proposal to ban incandescent bulbs, for instance, it emerged that many light fittings could not take "low energy" compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). A report for Defra the previous year had found that this applied to more than half the fittings in UK homes. So the officials were left to work out how the ban on what were now dubbed "old-fashioned" bulbs could somehow be phased in over several years in a way that was both legal and workable in practice.

Initially they leant on Europe's own manufacturers to stop making incandescent bulbs "voluntarily", but this did not get around the problem of imported bulbs, for instance from China. So their solution, enshrined in regulation 244/2009, was that it should gradually be made illegal between now and 2016 for "non-directional" incandescent bulbs to be "placed on the market", because they do not comply with the EU's new "eco-design" standards. This is the regulation on which Defra bases its claim that, from Tuesday, it will be illegal to import 100 watt or frosted bulbs for sale, with all other "non-directional" incandescent bulbs due to follow between now and 2016.

But herein lies Defra's amazing error. The legislation it depends on to make this claim, regulation 244/2009, refers quite specifically to "household lamps". So the EU has not made it illegal to "place on the market" bulbs which are not intended for household use. Defra thus has no power to ban the import or sale of incandescent bulbs for use in shops, offices, factories, outhouses or anywhere which isn't a "household". And how are shops to decide, when asked for such bulbs, where a customer wishes to use them?

In other words, not for the first time, in its desire to bend over backwards to meet the wishes of the EU, our Government has made a total Horlicks of trying to understand the laws it is so eager to comply with.


As hybrid cars gobble rare metals, shortage looms

The Prius hybrid automobile is popular for its fuel efficiency, but its electric motor and battery guzzle rare earth metals, a little-known class of elements found in a wide range of gadgets and consumer goods. That makes Toyota's market-leading gasoline-electric hybrid car and other similar vehicles vulnerable to a supply crunch predicted by experts as China, the world's dominant rare earths producer, limits exports while global demand swells.

Worldwide demand for rare earths, covering 15 entries on the periodic table of elements, is expected to exceed supply by some 40,000 tonnes annually in several years unless major new production sources are developed. One promising U.S. source is a rare earths mine slated to reopen in California by 2012.

Among the rare earths that would be most affected in a shortage is neodymium, the key component of an alloy used to make the high-power, lightweight magnets for electric motors of hybrid cars, such as the Prius, Honda Insight and Ford Focus, as well as in generators for wind turbines. Close cousins terbium and dysprosium are added in smaller amounts to the alloy to preserve neodymium's magnetic properties at high temperatures. Yet another rare earth metal, lanthanum, is a major ingredient for hybrid car batteries.

Production of both hybrids cars and wind turbines is expected to climb sharply amid the clamor for cleaner transportation and energy alternatives that reduce dependence on fossil fuels blamed for global climate change.

Toyota has 70 percent of the U.S. market for vehicles powered by a combination of an internal-combustion engine and electric motor. The Prius is its No. 1 hybrid seller.

Jack Lifton, an independent commodities consultant and strategic metals expert, calls the Prius "the biggest user of rare earths of any object in the world." Each electric Prius motor requires 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of neodymium, and each battery uses 10 to 15 kg (22-33 lb) of lanthanum. That number will nearly double under Toyota's plans to boost the car's fuel economy, he said.

Toyota plans to sell 100,000 Prius cars in the United States alone for 2009, and 180,000 next year. The company forecasts sales of 1 million units per year starting in 2010.

As China's industries begin to consume most of its own rare earth production, Toyota and other companies are seeking to secure reliable reserves for themselves. Reuters reported last year that Japanese firms are showing strong interest in a Canadian rare earth site under development at Thor Lake in the Northwest Territories.

A Toyota spokeswoman in Los Angeles said the automaker would not comment on its resource development plans. But media accounts and industry blogs have reported recently that Toyota has looked at rare earth possibilities in Canada and Vietnam.


Alert over new wave of exploding fridges in Britain caused by 'environmentally-friendly coolant'

Bring back freon. The Ozone "hole" waxes and wanes just as it always has done

Luckily no-one was hurt when Kathy Cullingworth's fridge exploded but the damage bill was £10,000. A series of violent fridge explosions is believed to have been caused by leaks of 'environmentally-friendly' coolant. Safety standards for manufacturers might have to be reviewed following the blasts, which have destroyed several kitchens. At least four similar explosions have been reported in the last three years in the UK, two of them since May.

The problem appears to result from a widespread switch to 'Greenfreeze' technology over the past 15 years and the use of isobutane and propane hydrocarbon gases as refrigerants. Previously CFCs and HFCs were used in fridges but these gases damaged the ozone layer and contributed significantly to global warming. There are now more than 300million Greenfreeze fridges around the world.

They are designed with safety features to ensure the flammable natural gas inside the pipework cannot leak into the fridge. However, if this happens there is a risk of a powerful blast as the gas could be ignited by a spark when the thermostat switches off.

Graeme Fox, an air-conditioning and refrigeration contractor, said: 'During the day when the fridge door is frequently opened there isn't a problem. 'But at night, when everyone is sleeping and the door remains shut, this leaked highly flammable gas can build up in the fridge cabinet.'

Mother-of-two Kathy Cullingworth, 55, is taking legal advice after her Creda fridge exploded three weeks ago at her home in Normanton, West Yorkshire. The Mail told how it caused more than £10,000 of damage. An independent engineer confirmed the fridge contained isobutane refrigerant and a leak is suspected.

A similar fate befell Carline Preece and her family at their home in West Bromwich. Fortunately Mrs Preece, 44, her husband Michael, 45, and their four children were in bed when the fridge blew at 6am. Mrs Preece thought an earthquake had struck. She said: 'The doors were ripped in half, the front door has a gaping hole in it and all the windows were blown open by the force.'

Jane Gartshore, president of the Institute of Refrigeration, said there is a 'theoretical possibility' that such explosions can be caused by a leak of isobutane. But she stressed: 'There are hundreds of millions of these fridges and these incidents are very, very rare.'



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


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Kudos to the US Chamber of Commerce‏

On August 25, the United States Chamber of Commerce, which claims to represent some three million large and small businesses in the United States, filed a 21-page request with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to hold a public debate on climate-change science or face litigation in federal court.

The Chamber’s concern originates with an April 2007 Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts et al. v. EPA, wherein the court sided with the 12 states that had sued the EPA for its lack of regulation of four greenhouse gases — including CO2 — from the transportation sector. The EPA, in a (wink, wink) defense somehow reminiscent of Br'er Rabbit’s admonition to Br'er Fox about the briar patch, argued that Massachusetts and the other states did not have standing to file the lawsuit. In a five-to-four decision the court ruled otherwise, finding the EPA’s refusal resulted in “actual” and “imminent” harm to the State of Massachusetts, primarily from rising sea levels along the state’s coast. The EPA didn’t bother refuting this with numerous studies that have found no detectable sea-level rise to be occurring there or anywhere else in the world for the last decade or more, Al Gore’s obituary on the Maldives to the contrary notwithstanding.

In April 2009, after the EPA performed an alleged scientific review, which ignored important findings of their own scientist/economist, Alan Carlin, the EPA issued a proposed “endangerment finding” claiming greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare. During the 60-day comment period that ended on June 23, 2009, some 300,000 comments were received showing a great deal of public interest in the subject.

The Chamber is strongly opposing the “endangerment finding” that, according to Roger Pielke, Sr. of Climate Science, is the “culmination of a several year effort for a small group of climate scientists and others to use their positions as lead authors on the IPCC, CCSP, and NRC reports to promote a political agenda.” Dr. Pielke urges “that there be an independent commission of climate scientists who can evaluate the assessment process that led to the EPA findings as well as the climate science upon which it is constructed.”

Bill Kovacs, Chamber VP for environment, regulatory, and government affairs said, “They don’t have the science to support the endangerment finding,” adding, “We can’t just take their word for it.”

As expected, EPA Deputy Press Secretary Brendan Gilfillan rejected the Chamber's claims. Falling back on the worn out “the science is settled” mantra, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson said the proposed endangerment finding was based on “the soundest peer-reviewed science available, which overwhelmingly indicates that climate change presents a threat to human health and welfare.” If the science is so overwhelming in favor of greenhouse gases being the forcing agent in the warming of the Earth since the 1860s, shouldn’t the EPA be eager to show it to the skeptics?

The EPA has 60 days to respond to the request, which they will likely deny. The Chamber then has 60 days to appeal that administrative decision in court — something they (to their credit) have promised to do.

Writing in the ChamberPost, Brad Peck gives a succinct summary of the Chamber's reasoning and motivation to oppose what would surely lead to the diminution or destruction of the U.S. economy as it now operates:

In order to ensure that regulations which reengineer our economy are needed and would ultimately be effective, we are pushing the EPA to reveal the data they used to justify their endangerment proposal. The agency used secondary scientific sources, studies that largely weren’t adequately peer-reviewed and the selective use of scientific studies to justify a policy decision they wanted to make. There are many questions to be asked of the EPA, and forgive the Chamber for not accepting "Trust Us" as an answer.

We owe the Chamber kudos for a job that very much needs doing.


The Pending Tax Nightmare of ‘Cap and Trade’

Our Congress is pending receipt of legislation that will produce the most egregious and regressive tax ever levied on the American people and our economy. This is coming at a time when no one can afford the escalation of all energy prices such a tax will produce in every area of the American economy, from top to bottom, front to back.

The proposed structure of this tax would be to impose a consumption tax of 45 percent on all carbon based energy uses, from buses and trucks, to autos, to energy production. According to Congressional Watch, the price of every vehicle manufactured to the new emissions standard would be upped by $1,300 per vehicle, the price of gasoline would jump by 76 percent, and the price of electricity would jump by 95 percent.

In addition, the estimate is that the GDP would be reduced by $2 trillion – minimum –every year beginning with its implementation. Approximately 1.1 million jobs would be lost, before application of economic magnification to a multiple of these losses. Overall, every American family would be paying over $3,100 a year for these new programs best case, a staggering number for the average family, a hit they can’t absorb.

Tax revenues are crashing all over the country as jobs are lost, and opportunities are de-materialized. California’s tax base loss is putting it into crisis as we speak. It is one of a vast majority of states and municipalities that face similar losses.

We are seeing a fantasy focus on job creation, one that has no connection to reality. We have to hope that our legislative processes moderate the extreme elements out of this. If this program isn’t done gradually, this economy will implode: period, no hedge.

I am hard pressed to find any element of our economy not in crisis, and as the financials improve, many looking for simple solutions think this will revive our economy by itself, only to run into taxation policies from Sweden and the old Soviet Union.

This is such simple economics that it’s hard to imagine that the American people can be taken in by this logic, but anyone making that systematic bet for the last hundred years would have been systematically wrong. Our leaders want us to believe it is different this time. Is it ever, or has it ever been?

This simply manages to touch literally every sector of the U.S. economy, but puts the greatest burden directly on those least able to afford it.

More importantly, this is the Obama equivalent of Bush Sr.’s legendary quote regarding the promise of (read my lips) NO NEW TAXES. Obama ran on a platform of no new taxes for anyone earning less than $250,000. Given that, is this cap and trade thing going to be called by another name? It doesn’t matter what they call it; it will fall like a ton of bricks on those least able to afford it. How many middle class and marginal poor citizens can afford to pay 45 percent more for gasoline and diesel fuel, or 45 percent more to heat and cool their homes? How many will be able to afford our products whose production and shipping costs will jump also by at least 45 percent?

This goes to the fundamental issue of practical micro-economics. What are we missing here? I think we miss nothing except for those who bury their heads in the sand, hoping for a miracle. To me, miracles are like coincidences: I don’t believe in either. Neither should the American people.

At a time when it appears our government can’t find $49 billion worth of assets stolen by Bernard Madoff and when they have shown themselves to be total clowns about monetary economics, how can they ask us to trust them with a straight face? The Federal Reserve, working with the Treasury, recently injected $1 trillion into the economy in a SINGLE DAY. That was the deficit incurred for the entire World War II era.

Many people have missed this staggering new tax and its implications. This includes some of my wealthiest and most successful friends and acquaintances, well-educated, and presumably rational and logical. As one person said to me, the new tax rate for those earning over $250,000 is only going up five to 10 percent. But that is before they exclude certain previous allowed deductions, or reduced charitable contribution rates.

This is a bad time to engage in social engineering. What is it about this recession and corruption that four consecutive administrations have been unable to understand?

We that are involved in trying to stop this enormous manipulation of our entire financial system on a treasonous level, through the mechanisms of fraud and counterfeiting of commercial securities, know what is going on. We have no excuse to remain silent, as with silence goes consent.

I will say something here that has no place in our courts today. This is about the duties of citizens in a democracy. Right now, they are allowing these duties to be defaulted to others who have demonstrated no commitment to the values consistent with these duties. Shame! This shame will be visited on our children, but only too far after anything short of a revolution can correct it.


Question everything — even environmentalism

A new book on the importance of questioning received wisdom leaves out one area of life where scepticism is frowned on today: climate change. Some things are too sacred to doubt. I once gave a talk to the local skeptics group and told them that I might well be the most skeptical man in Brisbane because I didn't believe in Jesus Christ, Karl Marx or global warming. They liked the first one on that list but were decidedly cool to the second and third -- JR

When Karl Marx was asked by his daughter to fill in a ‘confession’, a light-hearted Victorian questionnaire, he declared that his favourite motto – usually attributed to Rene Descartes – was De omnibus dubitandum. Or, to put it another way, ‘question everything’. These are wise words. Any serious inquiry into the truth should start with this pithy formulation of scepticism in mind. So when Richard Wilson’s book Don’t Get Fooled Again: The Sceptic’s Guide to Life arrived in the spiked office a few months back, I was looking forward to an illuminating exploration of the role of scepticism today.

Yet while there are some sensible restatements of the basic principles that should steer readers through the modern world, Wilson’s guide seems a little trite. It’s the kind of book that might be an entertaining read for a student heading off to university rather than a sage treatment of an important idea. Judging from the book itself and Wilson’s writings elsewhere, it seems he is unwilling to follow through on the logic of his pro-sceptical approach when it comes to the central issues of our day.

Don’t Get Fooled Again begins with a health warning: people are inclined by nature to a little self-delusion. The average person, Wilson advises, tends to believe that they are above average. Only depressives, it seems, have a realistic assessment of their own worth. This is harmless enough, he argues, as optimistic and self-confident people tend to do better in life. However, this propensity to believe what is convenient is positively dangerous when it comes to wider social issues. From public-relations spin to pseudoscience, Wilson relates numerous instances in which our capacity to swallow a lie has had negative, even deadly consequences. We need to keep our wits about us.

Wilson believes that ‘the basis of scepticism is essentially common sense… to be sceptical is to look closely at the evidence for a particular belief or idea, and to check for things that don’t add up’. He adds: ‘This is not the same thing as being a cynic. Cynics like to assume the worst of people and things. Sceptics try to make as few assumptions as possible.’

He also notes that the mainstream media is a flawed resource in a number of ways, from the way stories are selected as newsworthy to the way PR companies and other interest groups manipulate what is presented. Wilson praises the internet as a means by which we can find the primary sources of information for ourselves and question what is being presented to us as the truth. ‘Just as you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the papers’, he writes, ‘neither should you assume, a priori, that everything that isn’t in the papers isn’t true’.

His first major example is the work of giant public relations agency, Hill & Knowlton (H&K). The firm has been involved in a number of controversial examples of spin. In October 1990, as Wilson reminds us, a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, ‘Nurse Nayirah’, claimed that Iraqi soldiers had stolen incubators from a hospital in Kuwait City, leaving the children that were in them to die. The claim was that more than 300 children had perished as a result. In fact, ‘Nurse Nayirah’ was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US who had been coached to tell this tale by staff at H&K.

If that lie led to the first war against Iraq, Wilson argues that H&K’s past crimes were even worse, leading to the deaths of millions of people. In the 1950s, the agency was hired by tobacco manufacturers to deal with the threat from the emerging medical evidence linking smoking with lung cancer.

H&K’s response was obfuscation: try to convince the public that the link was unproven and that there was genuine controversy, when the link was, in fact, well established. To this end, the firm promoted Clarence Cook Little, an American geneticist, as a leading expert on cigarettes and ill-health when he was nothing of the kind, while creating a Tobacco Industry Research Committee (TIRC) to create the impression that the industry was actively investigating the link. In truth, the TIRC was little more than a PR operation. By 1964, a US government report had confirmed the link but, according to Wilson, H&K’s strategy was so successful that cigarette sales continued to rise before peaking a decade later.

As it happens, Wilson overstates H&K’s success in this matter. As figures from the American Cancer Society note, smoking rates in the USA, UK and Japan were falling before 1964 and have carried on falling ever since (1). Not only that, but the exposure of the tobacco industry’s attempts to downplay the dangers of cigarettes now mean that nothing that any tobacco company ever says is believed, leaving the industry completely unable to make any meaningful intervention on the debate on passive smoking, for example, and tainting anyone who has ever had anything to do with ‘Big Tobacco’. That sounds more like an object lesson in how not to conduct a PR campaign.

Wilson goes on to discuss a variety of other ways in which a failure to examine the evidence and thus fall victim to wishful thinking and ‘groupthink’ has led to disaster. One such example is the pseudoscience of Trofim Lysenko, the ‘barefoot scientist’ whose ideologically agreeable ideas about agriculture and rejection of Mendelian genetics helped place him at the forefront of Soviet science for decades, while leading to crop failures and malnutrition.

Wilson puts much of the blame for the mass starvation of the Great Leap Forward in China from 1958 to 1961 – which claimed 30million lives – on the barmy ideas promoted by Lysenko and adopted by Mao. Again, Wilson almost certainly overstates his case. While Soviet ideas certainly inspired the Chinese regime, the obsession with collectivisation and meeting pointless, centrally decreed targets had more of an impact than the losses incurred due to Lysenko’s dubious methods.

Another tragedy was the rise of AIDS denialism in the 1980s and 1990s. The widely accepted theory that AIDS is caused by a virus, HIV, was rejected both by some researchers – most notably by a high-profile American virologist, Peter Duesberg – and by AIDS activists who were mistrustful of the medical establishment. Retroviral therapies, such as AZT, were regarded as poisons and some even suggested that it was these drugs, not HIV, that were responsible for disease. Sadly, the leading activist proponents of this view died one by one, refusing the treatment that could have saved their lives.

The influence of this denialism was particularly strong in South Africa, a country greatly afflicted by the spread of AIDS. Around the turn of the century, the then-president Thabo Mbeki and his ANC government did everything in their power to delay the widespread use of retrovirals, leading to many unnecessary deaths. The lesson is that once an irrational idea gets a grip in the corridors of power, the consequences can be devastating.

On the other hand, the South African government were not alone in promoting irrational ideas. The British government was happy to use AIDS to try to promote a conservative sexual morality in a politically correct guise, providing a template for health-based scaremongering that continues to this day. While thousands of people in quite specific groups were dying of a new and terrible illness that demanded an all-out research effort to resolve, millions of pounds were being wasted on pointless scare campaigns aimed at everyone. Surely a true sceptic would interrogate these mainstream ideas to reveal the agendas of those promoting them?

In his final chapter, Wilson sums up the main elements of his sceptical outlook. Fundamentalism – the assertion of the ‘absolute literal truth of a particular set of beliefs’ – and relativism – the belief that any view can be true – are, in Wilson’s view, very similar and both are to be avoided since they immunise believers to logic and truth. Wilson also warns against conspiracy theories, pseudo-scholarship (a bogus agenda dressed up as a serious assessment of current knowledge), and pseudo-news (fraud or spin presented as truth).

He also returns to his earlier concerns about wishful thinking and warns against the way debates can be conducted by ‘over-idealising’ the outlook of one’s own side while ‘demonising perceived enemies’, with the upshot being the ‘moral exclusion’ of one side and ‘groupthink’, where ‘doubters and dissenters are stereotyped as weak, disloyal or ill-intentioned’.

This is all sound advice. Yet what is most surprising, given that Wilson’s book is a discussion of scepticism, is that he avoids the one area in which sceptics are most prominent today: climate change. There are plenty of high-profile advocates for action around manmade greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions who exhibit all the dubious behaviour that Wilson rightly criticises elsewhere. Yet Wilson is silent on the matter.

There is little dissent on the idea that the world has got warmer in the past 100 years or so. Nor is there any serious dissent that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which will tend to make the world warmer as levels of it increase in the atmosphere. And there’s certainly no doubt that human beings have caused the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from industry, transport and agriculture. If economic development continues in its current manner then, all other things being equal, we would expect the Earth’s temperature to rise.

Just how much warmer the world is likely to get is still unknown. What we have is a range of best guesses made on the basis of an incomplete temperature record, computer models that still have some way to go in accurately representing our climate, and genuine and important uncertainties in the basic physics of climate change. So while a warming world is our best available working assumption, how much the world’s temperature may change in the future is still a legitimate subject of scientific inquiry. Quite aside from the complexities of atmospheric physics, there are wider questions to be answered about the consequences of such warming and what the best policy response would be.

Yet the public discussion of climate change often obliterates such subtleties. The science of global warming is not presented as a series of provisional conclusions that must be revised as new evidence arises - which would be a properly sceptical approach following the argument in Don’t Get Fooled Again - but as ‘The Science’, a catechism of received truths that brooks no opposition. Frequently, a moral and political argument about the evils of humanity and industrial society is represented as a set of incontrovertible scientific facts.

Those who seek to question any aspect of this catechism are treated in precisely the terms Wilson warns against. James Hansen, the NASA scientist who has been closely identified with promoting the need for action on climate change, suggested to a US congressional committee in June 2008 that the leaders of the oil and coal industries would be ‘guilty of crimes against humanity and nature’ if they don’t change their ways. In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore derided those who don’t agree with him by questioning their rationality, stating that those who believe that the Moon landings were faked or who think the Earth is flat should ‘get together with the global warming deniers on a Saturday night and party’. Indeed, the very use of the term ‘denier’ to describe a critic of climate change science or policy has very conscious and pointed parallels with Holocaust denial.

Even scientists who firmly argue that the mainstream scientific position is correct, but who have been concerned about some of the alarmist statements made in science’s name, have been criticised as weak, disloyal or ill-intentioned.

Wilson has nothing to say in his book on these things. Yet on his website, he specifically criticises spiked for taking the kind of sceptical approach to the politics of environmentalism that he encourages people to adopt in relation to various other issues (2). Wilson engages in the kind of smearing rhetoric he criticises in other situations, making the defamatory and utterly false suggestion that spiked could only say such ‘pro-corporate’ things because it is paid to do so. He only tolerates a certain kind of scepticism, it seems, the kind that doesn’t question any of the apparently inconvertible truths held by him and other eco-enlightened individuals.

Sadly, Wilson’s own definition of cynics – those who ‘assume the worst of people and things’ – seems all too apt a description of his own outlook.


Nuclear power still confronting big obstacles

The so-called “nuclear renaissance” is finding few friends among state lawmakers in the United States. The nuclear power industry has been shut out across the board in 2009 in its efforts in all six states – ranging across the nation from Kentucky to Minnesota to Hawaii -- where it sought to overturn what are either explicit or effectively bans on construction of new reactors, according to the nonprofit Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS). Efforts to overturn bans also have failed to advance in Illinois and West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Beyond failing to reverse a single state-level ban on new reactors, the industry also suffered a wide range of major defeats, including an effort to repeal a ban on “Construction Work in Progress” (CWIP) payments that would have been imposed on Missouri ratepayers to finance a new nuclear power plant, which was then promptly mothballed. Industry efforts to get nuclear declared “renewable” by the states of Indiana and Arizona also failed to achieve results. Also going nowhere is a California bill to lift the state’s pioneering law banning new reactors until a high-level waste dump is in place. That follows a 2008 California statewide referendum drive with the same focus that failed for lack of sufficient signatures to get it on the ballot.

Michael Mariotte, executive director, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, said: “While the nuclear power industry and a few members of Congress claim the U.S. is on the verge of a nuclear power resurgence, the industry looks more like a critical patient struggling to get by on life support out in the real world beyond the Beltway. No one seriously expects the industry to go away. But the truth is that things will be even tougher for their state lobbyists in 2010 now that the freeze on Yucca Mountain has taken long-term waste disposal off the table and also in the wake of new evidence of runaway construction costs that make nuclear power even more of a boondoggle.”

Dave Kraft, director, Nuclear Energy Information Service, Chicago, IL., said: "Authorizing construction of new nuclear reactors without first constructing a radioactive waste disposal facility is like authorizing construction of a new Sear's Tower without bathrooms. Neither makes sense; both threaten public health and safety."

Jennifer Nordstrom, Carbon-Free Nuclear-Free coordinator, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Madison, WI., said: “Telling states to build new nuclear plants to combat global warming is like telling a patient to smoke to lose weight: There are too many other serious downsides that cannot be ignored. Fortunately, it is both technically and economically feasible to go both carbon-free and nuclear-free by 2050. Here in Wisconsin, we have a carbon-free, nuclear-free coalition in support of Wisconsin’s current law on nuclear power, and a 100 percent renewable Wisconsin.”

Commenting on the defeat of an industry-sought CWIP repeal in the Missouri Legislature this year, Mark Haim, chair, Missourians for Safe Energy, Columbia, MO., said: “New nuclear plants are far too risky and expensive to attract investor funding. Utilities will only build them if they can transfer the risk to the taxpayers or their ratepayers. Here in Missouri AmerenUE attempted to repeal a voter-enacted state law that bans Construction Work in Progress charges. Their goal was to get the ratepayers to assume the risks. When our legislators heard from consumer, senior, low-income and industrial groups all opposing CWIP, the CWIP repeal went nowhere. Once Ameren realized they couldn't get CWIP, they announced that they were abandoning efforts to build a new nuclear reactor. The pattern is clear, investors find nuclear too risky and utilities will only go down the nuclear path if their customers or the taxpayers underwrite the project.”


EU admits energy saving bulbs are inferior one day before ban

The European Empire has admitted, just one day before the ban on proper light bulbs comes into force, that energy saving bulb manufacturers are “exaggerating” their claims about equivalence.

The British government, its Energy Saving Trust quango, the European Empire, bulb manufacturers and environmental extremists have been telling us that the energy saving bulbs will save us money. They usually quote the magic figure of £37 per year invented by the British government’s Energy Saving Trust quango based on replacing a 60W incandescent bulb with an 15W energy saving bulb and a 100W incandescent bulb with a 20W energy saving bulb.

The Daily Telegraph has today published the results of its own tests on energy saving bulbs which found that an 11W energy saving bulb which claims to be equivalent to a 60W incandescent bulb, even after a 10 minute warm-up period, produced only 58% of the light given off by the incandescent bulb. It would take a 20W energy saving bulb - almost double the power consumption - to get the same amount of light from an energy saving bulb as you get from a 60W incandescent bulb which will pretty much wipe out any supposed cost saving from replacing your bulbs.

This won’t exactly be news to anyone who has experienced the joys of blundering around in half light after changing their proper bulbs to energy saving bulbs but it shows how fundamentally dishonest the European Empire, British government and green lobby is. The European Empire has only today - one day before proper light bulbs are banned - admitted that the claims of equivalence are false, that the energy saving potential from replacing bulbs is false and that the cost savings are a big fat lie. One day before the ban, too late to do anything about it.


Australia: The never-ending NSW government transport mess

They sure know how to get people out of their cars!

The NSW Government has baptised its new public transport ''super-agency'' with a shiny name - NSW Transport and Infrastructure - and will soon unveil a plan for Sydney's transport. Yes, another new plan. The office of the Transport Minister, David Campbell, this week promised the 2031 Transport Blueprint by year's end. Campbell recently wrote: ''It will not only look at what we need to meet current demand but also to cope with the expected population growth.''

The blueprint is an attempt by Campbell and the Premier, Nathan Rees, to put their stamp on future transport options for Sydney. But as the baseball legend Yogi Berra so memorably remarked: ''It's like deja vu all over again.''

The archives of assorted NSW transport agencies are awash with discarded plans to improve Sydney's sclerotic train and bus networks. Schemes remain just dreams and Sydneysiders have had to endure nearly a century of arthritic transport planning much like the train system at its worst: promises and cancellations, tentative starts, shuddering stops and diversions to nowhere.

Sydney's ghost train history goes back a century but real stagnation set in the 1970s, when Sydney's population boomed without commensurate expansion of transport corridors. In just the past 15 years, at least $28 billion in rail infrastructure was promised by state governments but never delivered. Thirteen projects alone would have extended the rail service by more than 1000 kilometres of track and provided dozens of new stations in areas forced to depend more and more on the family car. Consequently, the city's roads seize with overload as peak periods extend and frustrations overflow.

The blame is mostly levelled at Labor, which has governed NSW for 26 of the past 34 years. Its leaders have made much of their support for public transport to areas that house Labor voters. Their failure to deliver, however, has only heightened the social inequity they complain so loudly about.

Sydney's rail system has changed little since John Bradfield - designer of the Sydney Harbour Bridge - first articulated his vision in the 1930s (it was updated in 1956). Western Sydney's population has increased fivefold since 1940 but its rail lines have extended just 20 kilometres....

Neville Wran won a narrow state election victory in 1976, based largely on a promise to improve public transport. He famously took an early-morning campaign trip from Gosford to Sydney to highlight overcrowding. He finished the eastern suburbs line between Martin Place and Bondi Junction but the extension south to Maroubra was abandoned.

The Greiner government embarked on a public-private partnership to build the underground line to Sydney airport, with stops at Green Square and Mascot, where big housing developments are planned. But the line has been a disaster, with low patronage because commuters find ticket prices too expensive.

Rail plans that would have connected the north-west and south-west with the city - and introduced links between suburban centres such as Hurstville and Strathfield - were abandoned through lack of money or absence of political will. There is now so much cynicism about government proposals - particularly unfulfilled plans by Labor governments, which are supposed to be committed to the provision of public goods and services - that the latest Rees-Campbell blueprint, however well intentioned, is unlikely to convince voters.....



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


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?