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21 November, 2006


Ruining a good scare story

The Israeli process for producing energy from oil shale will cut its oil imports by one-third, and will serve as a guide for other countries with oil shale deposits, according to one company. A.F.S.K. Hom Tov presented its oil shale processing method on Tuesday, outside Haifa and just down the street from one of the country's two oil refinery facilities. "Because the patents for this process belong to (the company), Israel is the most advanced in the world in the effort to create energy from oil shale," Moshe Shahal, a Hom Tov legal representative and a former Israeli energy minister, told United Press International.

Shahal estimated that the company's Negev Desert facility would begin full-scale production in three to four years, while other countries with oil shale deposits will need five to six years to reach production. Oil shale is limestone rock that contains hydrocarbons, or fossil fuels -- about 20 percent of the amount of energy found in coal. Using the rock as a raw material and coating it with bitumen, a residue of the crude oil refining process, the company can produce natural gas, fuel, electricity, or a combination of the three. Older technologies squeezed the hydrocarbon material out of the rock, with extremely high pressure and at high temperatures.

According to Professor Ze'ev Aizenshtat, an oil shale expert, the Hom Tov process is more environmentally friendly than other methods of converting oil shale into energy. It also allows for more flexibility in the kind of fuel produced, produces less waste and operates at lower temperatures than other methods. Though the production process may be more environmentally friendly, the end product is still a fossil fuel, similar in quality to a high-grade diesel when in liquid form.

Israel's shale is low-quality, however -- its "caloric value" is only about 15 percent, while shale in other countries yields 20 percent, according to a report in BusinessWeek earlier this year. As a result, more Israeli shale is needed to produce the same amount of fuel. Hom Tov isn't worried, however. "This is a much lighter (substance) than what gradually comes out of an oil field," Aizenshtat told UPI, as Hom Tov company owners Israel Feldman and Shimon Kazansky posed for photographs with their fingers dipped in a plastic pitcher of the stuff. Because fewer refining processes are necessary with oil shale than with crude oil, the final product is a higher quality fuel at a lower price, Aizenshtat said.

The company estimates it will consume 6 million tons of oil shale and 2 million tons of refinery waste each year, for an annual production of 3 million tons of product. It would cost about $17 to produce a barrel of synthetic oil at the Hom Tov facility, meaning giant profit margins in a world of $45 to $60 per barrel crude. Yearly earnings are forecasted to be between $159 million and $350 million, Shahal said.

Israel has 15 billion tons of oil shale reserves. Jordan, on the other hand, has about 25 billion tons, and the oil shale in Jordan is of higher quality. Shahal met with Jordanian Energy Minister Azmi Khreisat earlier this year, to discuss setting up a plant there. The United States also has a giant reserve, mostly in Colorado, and Hom Tov sees potential for its patented process there.

The process, which Feldman and Kazansky developed in the mid-1990s, has lately attracted some high-powered investors, including Ofer Glazer -- the third husband of Israel's richest resident, billionaire Carnival Cruise heiress Shari Arison. "It's a kind of dream" to invest in Hom Tov, Glazer told UPI. "It's the type of investment where Israel needs the product, and it creates jobs." Glazer added that it will be good for Israel not to be dependent on "external sources" for its energy needs, saying that "those countries aren't exactly friendly (to Israel.)" As for his stake in the project, Glazer said he preferred "not to get into numbers."



British Airways has warned that businesses will quit Britain if the battle against global warming dictates the government's aviation policy and plans for a third runway at Heathrow airport are delayed.

Willie Walsh, BA's chief executive, said last night that millions of jobs would be affected if Heathrow was allowed to stagnate as an international flight hub. The department for transport is expected to update plans to build extra runways at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports when it publishes a progress report on its aviation white paper before Christmas.

Politicians and the environmental lobby have demanded action against the aviation industry, which is one of the fastest-growing contributors to carbon dioxide emissions and is under pressure to curb expansion plans. So far its response has been mixed. Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary has described calls for aviation taxes as "the usual horseshit", while Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic airline is forming a green aviation body.

Mr Walsh said in a speech at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London that Heathrow was losing its competitive edge to European rivals such as Frankfurt. He said its cramped conditions were putting off travellers while other flight hubs offered access to international destinations with fewer delays. BA has asked the government to hold a public consultation next year on whether there should be a third Heathrow runway, with a view to building it by 2015.

"In 25 years, Heathrow could be an aviation backwater - as relevant to the world economy of the mid 21st century as London's former East End docks. Even if we focus solely on Europe, we can see the threat to Heathrow's position over the next decade if nothing is done to increase runway capacity," he said.

If the rate of competitive decline continued, Heathrow's network of destinations would be nearly half the size of that offered by airports in Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam, which would affect the British economy and threaten millions of jobs, he said. "Without convenient access to markets, suppliers and investors, businesses cannot grow - and will simply relocate to centres that offer them the connectivity they need. Under present constraints, that means out of the UK," he said.

A 2km runway would increase the number of flights to and from Heathrow to 700,000 per year, up from 470,000, said Mr Walsh. A forthcoming study by Oxford Economic Forecasting is expected to back the case for a third runway by arguing that expansion at Heathrow would boost the economy. A report by the Treasury published three years ago said increased capacity at the airport would contribute o7.8bn to British gross domestic product.

"We cannot hope to maintain London's status as a premier league business centre, supporting millions of jobs across the country, unless we provide the world-class air links that businesses need in a global economy," Mr Walsh said.

His comments met with immediate criticism from the green lobby. Tony Bosworth, aviation campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said the government must rule out expansion of Heathrow as part of any drive to reduce carbon emissions.

Aviation accounts for 5.5% of British carbon emissions, but that could rise to a quarter by 2050 if no action is taken to curb airlines' emissions, according to a recent report from Oxford University.

"Aviation is the fastest-growing source of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK. More runways will mean more emissions at a time when we are trying to make big cuts. If the government is serious about tackling climate change it must abandon its airport expansion plans," Mr Bosworth said.

The DfT backed a third runway in an aviation industry white paper three years ago. However, it said the runway should be moved to Gatwick if Heathrow's owner, BAA, was unable to reduce noise pollution and cut concentrations of nitrogen dioxide around the airport.

The BA chief executive reiterated the company's support for the EU carbon emissions trading scheme, which will put a cap on aviation emissions and charge airlines that exceed their quotas.

He said that blocking all the airport expansion proposals in the white paper, which also advocated a second runway at Stansted, would have a minimal effect on global warming. If all the proposals were implemented, global carbon emissions would increase by 0.03% by 2030.


GM cottonseeds could feed world's starving millions

SCIENTISTS have genetically modified the cotton plant's naturally toxic seeds to turn them into a potential food source for millions of people. Researchers have found a way of reducing gossypol, a powerful toxin in the seeds, to a negligible level that allows them to be consumed by humans. At present they are thrown away or fed to cows.

Dr Keerti Rathore, a plant technologist at Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, which carried out the research, said enough cotton was already planted worldwide to supply the protein needs of 500m people. "The exciting finding is that we have been able to reduce gossypol to a level that is considered safe for human consumption," said Rathore, whose findings will appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Further field and safety trials are needed but if successful the technique could turn out to be the "killer application" that supporters of GM technology have long hoped for. They believe environmentalists would find it hard to object to a crop with the potential to reduce world hunger on such a scale.

Gossypol is not just toxic but is also a powerful natural male contraceptive. The sperm of men who eat foods containing gossypol become deactivated. Cotton plants secrete the toxin into their stems, leaves and seeds because it affects pests in the same way, inhibiting their breeding and reducing their numbers.

Rathore and his colleagues got round this problem using a relatively new technique known as RNA interference, or RNAi, to suppress one of the key genes involved in producing gossypol. "Very few people realise that for every pound of cotton fibre the plant produces 1.6lb of seed," said Rathore. "Overall, the world produces 44m tons of cottonseed each year containing about 22% high-quality protein."

Scientists have created cotton plants without gossypol before, through conventional breeding techniques, but they were attacked by pests. Rathore's method strips gossypol from the seeds only, leaving the rest of the plant protected.

For farmers there will be a potential surge in the value of a crop that can be sold for food as well as clothing. Environmentalists, however, remain sceptical. They point to similar claims made for crops such as golden rice, which was genetically engineered to contain vitamin A. It subsequently emerged that people would need to eat huge amounts to gain any benefit. Sue Mayer, the director of GeneWatch UK, urged caution. "Poverty and hunger are complex problems caused by bad government, poor economies and war," she said. "It is not just a matter of finding a new wonder plant."



Representatives of 190 countries have been playing a diplomatic poker game at the UN Climate Change Summit in Nairobi for the past week, with almost none of them prepared to spell out what they intend to do about global warming.

Developed countries who have taken on targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol are reluctant to enter into further commitments after it expires in 2012 without indications that developing countries such as China are prepared to climb on board. Many of the 56 developed countries that have ratified the protocol are finding it difficult to achieve even the fairly minimal curbs on emissions required by Kyoto, and some of them - including Ireland - have fallen way behind in terms of meeting their commitments.

But China and other major players such as India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa are equally reluctant to sign up for cuts in emissions pending the outcome of a dialogue on how to deal with an issue that nearly everyone now accepts has become more urgent year by year.

Environment ministers, including Ireland's Dick Roche, will start arriving in Nairobi tomorrow for the "high-level segment" of the conference, which will be addressed by the British government's chief economist, Sir Nicholas Stern, author of the recent major report on climate change.

The Stern review has injected a fresh impetus into the proceedings. Its central conclusion - that it would be much more economical to start making deep cuts in emissions within the next 10 years than to try to fix the problem later on - is widely, though not universally, accepted here.

But there is frustration over the lack of progress. Japanese ambassador Mutsuyoshi Nishimura, described climate change as a deadly serious business and said if countries were unwilling to discuss the stabilisation of emissions at this summit, he wanted to know when they would do so. "Our job starts by looking at a global long-term vision and whether it is aspirational or otherwise," Mr Nishimura told fellow delegates. "I will go home unless we are willing to send a global message to the world that the UN is moving to achieve stabilisation of the climate," he added.

Green Party TD Eamon Ryan, who has spent the past week at the conference and is returning to Dublin today, was equally frustrated. "The slow pace of progress is in direct contrast to the urgency with which this issue needs to be addressed," he said. "These are the most important set of negotiations in the history of humanity - far surpassing Versailles," Mr Ryan said. He also noted that the US delegation had barely featured in the talks so far, possibly reeling from last week's "thumping" for President Bush in the mid-term elections.

Michael Zammit Cutajar, the Maltese ambassador expertly chairing the important "ad hoc working group" on what happens after 2012, has drafted the text of a possible deal and spent the weekend holding informal talks with key delegates in the hope of making some progress today.


Make poverty history: first by getting rid of the Greens

At U2's Sydney concerts last week, Bono urged the audience to text their names to a Make Poverty History phone number. Later he flashed the names on a big screen and sent a thank you text to all those mobile phones in Telstra Stadium. As an act of charity it doesn't come much easier, unless you count wearing wristbands. This is not to sneer at Bono for raising consciousness of the world's poor, or his audience for making a gesture. But as protesters and green activists gather in Melbourne this weekend to lay the usual blame for poverty on the greed of developed nations, a powerful new documentary shines light on a different villain.

Mine Your Own Business, which opens this week, shows that the "powerful group telling the world's poor how to live, how to work, even how to think" are not the world leaders gathered in Melbourne. They're not even wealthy multinational corporations, but wealthy multinational environment groups such as Greenpeace. "Upper-class Western environmentalists" are the greatest enemy of the world's poor, says the documentary's maker, self-described left-wing journalist Phelim McAleer, from Northern Ireland. He shows how environmental groups opposed to change and economic growth are trying to keep the developing world poor. "Poor but happy", is how they see it.

Posted to Romania by The Financial Times in 2000, McAleer covered the Greenpeace campaign to prevent the opening of a goldmine in the Transylvanian mountains. It changed his views on environmental activism. What he found in Rosia Montana was an impoverished village, with 75 per cent unemployment, little sanitation or running water and people desperate for jobs. It had been a mining town since Roman times but the last state-owned mine was closing and a Canadian company, Gabriel Resources, wanted to take over. It had promised to provide jobs, rebuild infrastructure and clean up pollution from old mines.

Early on McAleer acknowledges his film was part-funded by Gabriel Resources but says he retained editorial control. He interviews Francoise Heidebroek, a Belgian green activist who says villagers are better off being farmers and riding horses. But as the villagers explain, nothing grows except potatoes, and at minus 25 degrees they prefer cars and indoor toilets. Gheorghe Lucian, an unemployed miner, tells McAleer: "People have no food to eat. They don't have money for clothes . I know what I need - a job."

McAleer took Lucian to similar projects around the world, and interviewed activists such as Mark Fenn, World Wide Fund for Nature's American representative in southern Madagascar, who opposes a Rio Tinto mine in the impoverished fishing village of Fort Daupin, which would create 2000 jobs. "The quaintness, the small-town feeling will change," Fenn says. Fenn insists that Lucian doesn't really understand poverty. "How do we perceive who's rich, who's poor ." Fenn says. "I could put you with a family and you count how many times in a day that family smile . Then I put you with a family well off, in New York or London, and you count how many times people smile and measure stress . Then you tell me who is rich and who is poor." Underlining the hypocrisy, Fenn shows McAleer the luxury house he is building and catamaran he bought for $US30,000 ($39,000) - "a good price". As McAleer says, the average salary in the village is less than $US100 a month. But, "the indicators of wellbeing aren't housing, nutrition, health, education", says Fenn, although he sends his own children to school in South Africa.

The villagers tell McAleer the opposite. One says she wants her children to become "a midwife, a doctor, or an engineer". It's the same story in Chile where activists have halted a goldmine in the Andes. A young man tells McAleer: "I'm not asking for much, just a normal job." McAleer shows how progressives oppose progress and have become part of an "authoritarian world order", telling people in the developing world how they must live. He hopes his film will show well-meaning Westerners the consequences of their blind faith in the new "religion" of environmentalism. McAleer has been brought to Sydney this week by the conservative think tank, Institute of Public Affairs, for a screening on Wednesday night at the Dendy, East Circular Quay.



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

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

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


20 November, 2006

What will we do when America's lights go out?

Soon after the widespread blackouts of 2003, the Electric Reliability Organization was etablished, and it recently issued its first report. That report makes for grim reading because the nation's electric power infrastructure is on the brink of collapse.

Misguided environmental regulations, green obstructionism and the NIMBY (Not-in-my-backyard) syndrome have combined to delay the construction of desperately needed new power plants and transmission lines. The result is an infrastructure that will soon be unable to meet the demands of the American economy. Policy makers must act now to re-empower America. The ERO projects that U.S. demand will increase by 141,000 megawatts (MW) over the next 10 years. Supply, however, will increase by only 57,000 MW, and that assumes that all currently proposed new facilities are approved and built. The system will be operating below the marginal capacity needed to ensure supply reliability at all times. In other words, in peak periods like heat waves, there won't be enough electricity to go around. Blackouts will inevitably result.

One key problem is the sheer difficulty in building new power plants in America today. Politically powerful green lobby groups object to the building of any new plant that does not use some form of renewable energy, yet renewable energy cannot meet demand for power on its own.

They also object to nuclear power stations because of their supposed danger, even though modern nuclear plants have an impeccable safety record. And they oppose coal-fired plants because of their alleged contribution to global warming.

To back up their objections, many environmental pressure groups generally have large budgets and huge teams of lawyers. One group boasted of having 75 lawyers working on a measure in California.

These groups are currently running a massive campaign in Texas to prevent the building of new coal-fired plants, without which the state will be patently unable to meet its needs. Transmission lines face even worse obstruction.

Meanwhile, utilities are prevented by regulation from using flexible pricing structures to incentivize efficient energy use. A highly regulated grid is not conducive to the efficient flow of electricity. This is why the ERO has recommended a series of reforms. Foremost among these is the removal of regulatory barriers to the building of new infrastructure. Power plants and transmission lines need to be built urgently; measures that facilitate green obstructionism must be repealed. Without this new capacity, the power supply system will fail.

Let us be clear about what that would mean. The electric power supply will be interrupted when it cannot meet demand. Lights will go out. Offices will cease to function. People will freeze or swelter. Elderly people will die. If sustained, this situation will severely damage the economy. Jobs will be lost. Health will suffer. The poor will get poorer. Flows of money from America to the developing world will shrink.

I remember as a young boy in England, huddling with my family round a coal fire that was our only source of heat and light (bar a few candles) during the power disruptions of the 1970s. A world without power is not a pleasant place.

One hundred years ago, the average Westerner had an annual income equivalent to $4,000. A man could only work somewhere he could walk to; a woman spent much of her life performing back-breaking domestic labor. Medical science, while advancing, was still almost medieval in its practical application. Much has changed in the last century, but in all cases the key to freeing us from these strictures has been widespread, affordable energy. A permanent flow of electricity has powered an explosion in wealth that has enabled millions to live long, fulfilling lives free from crushing hardship. The condition of life is no longer nasty, brutish and short.

It is a moral imperative to keep the power flowing. If our forefathers a century ago had worried about the side effects of using all that energy and set in place restrictions to stop it, millions - no, billions - would have suffered as a result.

Denied the technological advances that energy use enabled, we would live shorter lives and be doomed to labor - a poorer life in every sense. We should be thankful our ancestors chose not to legislate in our interests. Rather than worrying about our great-grandchildren, we should instead be worrying about our brothers and sisters. The lesson of the ERO report is that we must take measures now to ensure the power keeps flowing.



U.N. talks on fighting climate change were gridlocked on their final day on Friday as organizers faced criticism of scant progress in aiding Africa and slowing global warming. Rich and poor countries are split at the 189-nation talks about how to extend the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, the main U.N. plan for fighting global warming, beyond 2012 to help avert climate change that could batter the world economy. After two weeks of meetings, about 70 environment ministers have agreed on some new ways to help Africa but are deadlocked on two issues -- a review of how effectively Kyoto is working and a proposal by Russia to allow new nations to sign up. "The two big issues are still open," said Yvo de Boer, the head of the U.N. Climate Secretariat....

De Boer dismissed environmentalists' complaints that the 6,000 bureaucrats at the talks had achieved too little to help the poor amid U.N. projections of more droughts, heatwaves, famines and rising seas. "I think the conference has made very significant progress for developing countries," de Boer said, pointing to incentives to promote clean energy such as solar or wind power under a scheme that could channel $100 billion to poor nations by 2012. He also said the talks had set principles for a fund meant to help developing nations adapt to climate change. The fund is expected to grow sharply but is now worth just $3 million -- less than the $4 million cost of staging the Nairobi talks. "Rich countries should have achieved more at this conference and made more firm commitments to combat climate injustice," said Sharon Looremeta, a Kenyan Maasai leader of environmental group Practical Action.

She said many of the delegates were treating the meeting more as a holiday safari than a forum to confront what U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called an "all-encompassing threat" in a speech to delegates on Wednesday.

Many backers of Kyoto see a planned review of the Protocol working as a possible prelude to getting more countries involved after 2012 -- especially big emitters led by the United States, China and India. But poorer states say the rich must continue to take the lead and President George W. Bush says he has no plans to rejoin Kyoto -- a scheme he views as an economic straitjacket.

A draft proposal by the chair of the meeting on Friday said commitments under Kyoto, obliging rich nations to cut emissions to 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, "are not adequate" to fight climate change and proposes a full review in 2008. Kyoto nations account for just 30 percent of emissions of greenhouse gases and want a more global deal. Russia is proposing a new mechanism to allow countries outside Kyoto to volunteer to cut their emissions. Some backers of Kyoto fear that Moscow is mainly seeking to help former communist states to win big credits under Kyoto since their emissions have fallen sharply from 1990 with the collapse of the Soviet Union.



A global post-Kyoto agreement is still out of reach as the UN summit on climate change concludes its final day of talks in Nairobi, David Miliband admitted today. Speaking exclusive to Guardian Unlimited on the closing day of a fortnight of talks, the environment secretary said the summit had failed to gain sufficient momentum to agree a deal on greenhouse gas emissions because of a glaring "gap" between science and politics.

Mr Miliband lauded the significant progress made over adaptation funding for developing countries, and what he called a vigorous commitment to a works programme. But he said some "very difficult discussions" were still under way over the strength of international commitment to a deal. "Where the final drive of negotiations needs to take place over the next few hours concerns the ability to inject a new momentum in the long-term discussions of a global emissions deal," he said.

Mr Miliband held out little hope that a firm international commitment would be ratified on the final day of talks. "That is where we have a real crunch point on some of the issues we have been discussing," he said. Mr Miliband refused to name recalcitrant countries, but he hinted that industrialised and developing countries alike were hesitant. The latter group feared they would be expected to make the same level of contributions as their wealthier neighbours, he said. "There are some richer countries who are concerned that that no country can have a free pass on this, and although not all countries will take on hard targets, every country needs to play some role. "That is the essential balance. The need [is] for a global deal in which every country plays a part, but the fact is that richer countries are going to be able to contribute more. "I am confident we can offer two cheers for this process. But the third cheer is going to rely on a real drive over the next year because 2007 is going to be a critical year for putting urgency and momentum into the drive for a global emissions deal."

The environment secretary added: "One of the reflections we will have is about the size of the gap between science and politics." It was a "real issue" that only the UK and Germany had set binding, long-term targets for reducing carbon emissions. Mr Miliband said the forthcoming G8 talks in Germany would provide an opportunity to revisit the need for "urgency and drive" in moving towards a new climate change agreement to operate after the current Kyoto commitments end in 2012.

The environment secretary declined to say whether a specific adaptation funding deal had been struck to help African countries cope with climate change, but he said general overseas aid should also be "carbon-proofed". "We have to make sure there is an adaptation fund, but we also have to make sure that aid policies are generally sustainable", he said.

Mr Miliband, who is due to close the Commons debate on the Queen's speech this Monday, said he would tell government colleagues they all had a "part to play" in delivering the climate change agenda. "From the prime minister to the chancellor and the foreign secretary, and me as environment secretary, every member of the cabinet has a role to play." Earlier this week, Mr Miliband scotched rumours of a rift with the chancellor, Gordon Brown, over planned environmental policies targeted at business.



A recent EU-funded study shows that better use of technology can combat air pollution and lower the impact of those greenhouse gases not covered by the Kyoto Protocol.

The study, published in the journal "Environmental Science and Technology" on 15 November, compared the results of 26 models of atmospheric chemistry covering the entire global atmosphere.

In a challenge to policies championed by the EU, including the much-debated emissions trading scheme for CO2, it found that current international protocols and national legislation to reduce air pollution are not sufficient to reduce global warming.

The researchers said that this was because existing policies do too little to tackle other gases such as ozone. "Even with the legislation that is in place, the models showed that emissions would still increase," the Commission said.

The researchers believe better use of existing technology is necessary to minimise the negative impacts of ozone which contributes to global warming.

The EU, North American countries and Japan currently have laws establishing limits for the concentrations of ozone in the air and other countries in Asia and Latin America are introducing them. Internationally, there is a UN convention on long-range trans-boundary air pollution that identifies specific measures to be taken to reduce emissions of air pollutants such as ozone.

The study comes as environment ministers from around the world meet in Nairobi, Kenya, for an international conference on global warming. They are due to discuss possible action to combat climate change when the Kyoto Protocol runs out in 2012.



For years, environmentalists have been raising the alarm about deforestation. But even as forests continue to shrink in some nations, others grow - and new research suggests the planet may now be nearing the transition to a greater sum of forests.

A new formula to measure forest cover, developed by researchers at The Rockefeller University and the University of Helsinki, in collaboration with scientists in China, Scotland and the U.S., suggests that an increasing number of countries and regions are transitioning from deforestation to afforestation, raising hopes for a turning point for the world as a whole. The novel approach, published this week in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looks beyond simply how much of a nation's area is covered by trees and considers the volume of timber, biomass and captured carbon within the area. It produces an encouraging picture of Earth's forest situation and may change the way governments size up their woodland resources in the future. "Instead of a skinhead Earth, we may enjoy a great restoration of forests in the 21st century," says study co-author Jesse Ausubel, director of The Rockefeller University's Program for the Human Environment.

The formula, known as "Forest Identity," considers both area and the density of trees per hectare to determine the volume of a country's "growing stock": trees large enough to be considered timber. Applying the formula to data collected by the United Nations and released last year, the researchers found that, amid widespread concerns about deforestation, growing stock has expanded over the past 15 years in 22 of the world's 50 countries with most forest cover. In countries where per capita gross domestic product exceeds $4,600 (roughly equal to the GDP of Chile), richer is greener. In about half the most forested countries, biomass and carbon also expanded. Earlier work showed that by the 1980s wooded areas in all major temperate and boreal forests were expanding.

Forest area and biomass are still being lost in such important countries as Brazil and Indonesia but an increasing number of nations show gains. The forests of Earth's two most populated nations no longer increase atmospheric carbon concentration: China's forests are expanding; India's have reached equalibrium.

The researchers found that among the 50 nations studied, forest area in percentage terms shrank fastest from 1990 to 2005 in Nigeria and the Philippines, and expanded fastest in Vietnam, Spain and China. Growing stock fell fastest in Indonesia, Nigeria and the Philippines, and increased fastest in the Ukraine and Spain. In absolute terms, Indonesia and Brazil experienced the greatest losses of both forested square kilometers and cubic meters of growing stock; China and the USA achieved the greatest gains. "For many years, the Earth has suffered an epidemic of deforestation. Now humans may help spread an epidemic of forest restoration," says Ausubel.

When forest transition occurs at a global level depends largely on Brazil and Indonesia, where huge areas of tropical forests are rapidly being cut and cleared. Encouragingly, in many other tropical areas forests are regrowing. Studies in Central America show tree cover in El Salvador grew one-quarter from 1992 to 2001. Forests are also recovering fast in the Dominican Republic in harsh contrast to deforested Haiti, on the same Caribbean island.

"The main obstacles to forest transition are fast-growing poor populations who burn wood to cook, sell it for quick cash and clear forest for crops," says study co-author Pekka E. Kauppi, of the University of Helsinki. "Harvesting biomass for fuel also forestalls the restoration of land to nature. Through paper recycling and a growing reliance on electronic communication, people help the transition by lessening demand for wood products."

In addition to the measurement of forest area and growing stock, the researchers offer a formula to calculate atmospheric carbon being stored incrementally in the trees of a given area, knowledge critical for mitigating climate change. A rapid forest transition on a global scale would mean that atmospheric carbon dioxide might not rise as fast as many fear.



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

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

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


19 November, 2006


Antarctic disaster:

Certain moments stick in your head. Take, for example, the story of the Siberian ponies adrift on an Antarctic ice floe surrounded by killer whales. Something about the scene... lodged in the mind of Sidney Nolan, who painted a version of it when he returned from his own eight-day trip to Antarctica...

What had happened? Nolan explained it in a letter to Hal Missingham, director of the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney.... "Once, five of the ponies, covered in green rugs, were lost on an ice floe which drifted out to sea surrounded by killer whales (these whales are beautiful, black with ivory breast and lethal to everything). (Henry) Bowers and his party, on the floe with the ponies, managed to save one of the ponies after some awful moments. The episode was witnessed from the shore by either Wilson or Scott (I have forgotten which) through field glasses and tears. Anyway, it is roughly this moment I have tried to paint."

You can see why the scene might have affected Nolan. For starters, it was horrible to contemplate; it would have affected anyone. But it also had a particular quality - surreal, deadly happenings in an extreme, implacable setting - that Nolan seemed to relish...

More here

The only pesky thing is that the above all happened in 1911


Delegates at a U.N.-backed climate change conference have deferred a deal to allow new refrigerant plants in China and India to get lucrative funding under the Kyoto global warming pact, a U.N. official said. "China, Brazil, Argentina and the European Union could not reach agreement," the official said on Tuesday, adding the next conference in 2007 would take up the issue.

Existing refrigerant plants produce as a by-product the super greenhouse gas HFC 23, but under Kyoto carbon trading rules factory owners can sell lucrative carbon credits by destroying this gas. It was the extension of these rules to new plants that delegates at the 189-country climate change conference in Nairobi could not agree on. Kyoto sets rich countries limits on emissions of greenhouse gases, but allows them to meet these targets by funding cuts in developing countries, spawning a carbon trade worth $5 billion in the last 20 months.

The destruction of HFC 23 has been by far the most lucrative of such trades. For example, the World Bank pocketed some 25 million euros ($32 million) in management fees alone this summer for arranging two landmark HFC 23 deals in China, where factories pledged to destroy some 130 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in an 800 million euro deal.

The sticking point on a deal for new plants was that these factories also produce HCFC 22, a gas which damages the earth's ozone layer, something which a separate pact, the Montreal Protocol, is meant to stop. Some delegates believed that Kyoto should not effectively give factories incentives to produce HCFC 22 by funding HFC 23 destruction. "That goes against the Montreal Protocol," said the official.



My concern is with how "scientific consensus" is reached. In economics in the 1960's, there was a "scientific consensus," embedded in sophisticated macro-econometric models, that inflation reflected a competition over income shares, and that government policies to interfere with wage- and price-setting were the solution. Milton Friedman's contrary views were outside the "scientific consensus." By 1985 or so, the "scientific consensus" had shifted, in part because policies based on that consensus were tried in the 1970's, leading to the worst macroeconomic performance of the post-war period.

By the 1990's, large macro-econometric models had pretty much disappeared from the economics literature. The problem with macro-econometrics is that the models continually broke down out of sample. That is, a model estimated through 1969 would work terribly in predicting the early 1970's. A model estimated through 1975 would work terribly in predicting the late 1970's, and so on.

Milton Friedman's dissenting views of 1967 are close to the [global warming] consensus views today. I wish that climate-change models did not remind me so much of macro-econometric models. I wish that the contempt that the Left expresses for dissenting views in climate science did not remind me of the contempt that the Left expressed for Milton Friedman. And I wish that the debate over climate change were being waged over substance, rather than with type M arguments and on film. Movies are a propaganda medium, not an information medium.

I worry that the environmentalists are motivating themselves to stage a religious war over global warming. My guess is that mankind will not be well served by such a religious war.


The Baptist and the Bootlegger: An unlikely coalition for climate control

The carbon traders, brokers, and consultants, the companies seeking wealth transfers, the climate bureaucrats, and last, but not least, environmental lobbyists are crawling all over the UN's Gigiri complex on the outskirts of Nairobi. Several years ago, Clemson University economist Bruce Yandle predicted that a classic Baptist and Bootlegger climate coalition would emerge in the wake of the Kyoto Protocol. And so it has. The idea of a Baptist and Bootlegger coalition is that both Baptists and Bootleggers support blue laws forbidding the sale of liquor. The Baptists favor blue laws because they are against sin and the Bootleggers because it creates a profitable market for them.

The central focus of 12th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is carbon markets and how to expand them. All of the sessions that I attended here featured at least some talk about carbon markets by prominent bureaucrats, industry lobbyists and the environmental lobbyists. And according to them, carbon markets will whiten your teeth and freshen your breath, put a sparkle in your eye, a spring in your step, slim you down and vastly improve your sex life. Or at least fatten their bottom lines by saving the planet.

One Green "Baptist," Matthias Duwe, from the Climate Action Network, explained his group's support for carbon markets by saying, "Environmental effectiveness is what counts. What we want is absolute reductions in emissions. Sending signals to business is secondary." In other words, they are against environmental sin and they think that carbon markets will help stamp out the sin of emitting noxious greenhouse gases. Right beside him on the panel sat an earnest climate Bootlegger, Kate Hampton, a policy advisor to a British merchant bank that has established the $1 billion Climate Change Capital fund that invests in carbon markets. She thinks there's plenty of money to be made if the politicians and bureaucrats set stringent limits on how much carbon companies can emit. Hampton aptly described the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) as a "policy-driven market."

And that's a pretty good description. After all, carbon trading came into existence solely as a result of the Kyoto Protocol. Carbon markets are created by imposing a cap on the emissions of greenhouse gases that are believed to contribute to recent global warming then allocating permits for the amount that can be emitted. A carbon market was selected as a way to manage carbon emissions instead of carbon taxes which Duwe pointed out the EU discussed for ten years and it got nowhere with them.

Carbon markets allow governments to set actual limits on emissions and then let the private sector figure out the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions. This is done at the cost of some volatility-the price for emissions permits can go up and down steeply and quite rapidly. Carbon taxes, on the other hand, offer the possibility of a stable price, but at the cost of flexibility in figuring out the cheapest ways to cut emissions. Another downside for global warming activists like Duwe is that taxes do not specify actual reductions.

Although a climate Baptist, Duwe does appreciate that a carbon market sends the signal to business that "every unit of carbon dioxide that goes out the window is a unit that could be sold." In other words, if a company can reduce its emissions below its allocation, it can make money by selling its remaining allocation to another company. Of course, a company can also make windfall profits if the government allocates it more permits for emissions than it actually needs.

So are carbon markets here to stay? Here in Nairobi, climate Baptists and Bootleggers and their bureaucratic facilitators constantly repeat the mantra that no matter what, the European Union will have a carbon market after the Kyoto Protocol comes to an end in 2012. Really and truly it will, it will! To a cynic they begin to sound like they are whistling past the graveyard. In fact, activists began distributing a T-shirt today emblazoned with the slogan "Mind the Gap." The "gap" they fear is the one that might open up between 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol ends and whatever other climate treaty follows. Carbon investors and traders could fall into the "gap" never to emerge again, that is, they could lose faith that governments mean seriously to impose carbon limits and stop putting up money to abate carbon emissions. The "gap" is what carbon market advocates call the continuity problem.

Hampton pointed out that what happens after Kyoto matters because if emitters-especially big power and industrial companies--don't believe that carbon will have a price in the future, they will not invest in long term expensive low carbon infrastructure. According to Hampton, Germany is slated to replace 20 percent of its energy infrastructure by 2012. Power generators will not choose more costly lower carbon technologies unless they think that it will save them money in the long run. Hampton says, "It really is policy and regulation that drive investment. The lack of a long term carbon signal undermines business's ability make rational decisions on investment."

All of the climate coalition members were eager to explain the precipitous drop in carbon prices in the ETS in May as growing pains. It turns out that most European governments allocated more emission permits than there were actual emissions. When the actual level of emissions was verified in May and it turned out that companies emitted 66 million tons of carbon less than allowed in 2005. This provoked, as they say, a correction of about 50 percent. Of course, both the climate Baptists and Bootleggers are keen to get climate bureaucrats to more strongly restrict the number of permits that are issued in the future. That would give the climate Baptists lower emissions they want and the climate Bootleggers the higher prices they crave. A win/win for everyone, except for perhaps the hapless consumers who have to pay more for the energy and products they buy.

If Europe does go it alone with its carbon market, Europe's manufacturers will argue that they can't compete with foreign companies that don't have to pay for their carbon. Already the European Commission has convened a High Level Group to consider imposing border taxes to level the playing field. Hampton warned, "What signal does this send--that carbon markets are so onerous that you have to build a fortress around yourself." Nevertheless, she did note that such countervailing CO2 import tariffs could be compatible with World Trade Organization rules. She pointed out that after the United States banned ozone depleting chemicals in the 1970s, it began imposing tariffs on such imports and no one objected that it violated free trade rules.

All of the participants on the UN conference side panels are impatient to get the United States to join the carbon market. However, the World Resource Institute's Jonathan Pershing said, "I don't think that there will be a common integrated market in the next commitment period." The next commitment period means between 2012 and 2020.

On the other hand, Hampton declared, "This is the decade in which we will find out if the world is capable of setting and reaching goals that will keep the rise in average temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius." And if that happens, the planet may benefit, but the climate Baptists and Bootleggers certainly will.


Australia's sardine trains: How to get people out of their cars?

Almost 22,000 additional passengers a day are squeezing on to southeast Queensland Citytrains compared with four years ago. The burgeoning passenger numbers - the equivalent of almost eight million extra trips a year - comes despite the fact no extra train carriages have hit the tracks since 2001. Transport Minister Paul Lucas yesterday played down the increasingly crowded train services, saying the Government was well advanced with its plans to address booming demand. Mr Lucas said more than $500 million was being spent building an additional 44 three-car train sets which would be rolled out over the next three years.

He said from the initial 24 trains, eight would service the Gold Coast, three the Sunshine Coast while the remaining 13 would go into service across Brisbane. "The Beattie Government has invested massively in rolling stock on the Citytrain network," Mr Lucas said.

However, Coalition transport spokesman Vaughan Johnson said the extra trains were "too little, too late". "The Government knows the population has been exploding in the southeast corner," he said. "They should have been delivering between four and six three-car sets every year to meet demand."

Queensland Rail's annual report for 2005-06 reveals only four additional train carriages in total were added to the statewide network last financial year, taking the total rolling stock to 666. However, none of the extra trains was built for the Citytrain network. Two of the carriages went into service on the company's heritage excursions while the other two were added to Traveltrain services where passenger numbers are plummeting.

Queensland Rail figures show the Citytrain network had 144 three-car trains sets and eight four-car sets in 2001-02. In 2005-06, the only change has been the loss of one of the three-car sets to an accident several years ago. Over the same period, the number of Citytrain passenger trips increased from 45 million to 53 million following a jump in trip numbers of 4.5 million over the next 12 months.

However, Mr Lucas said the growth in Citytrain had not just come in peak times. "That growth in passenger trips has come from a number of sectors including free travel to and from major sporting events, new late night and early morning services, off-peak trips made easier through integrated ticketing under TransLink, as well as increased trips to and from work," Mr Lucas said.



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

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

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


18 November, 2006


Forest fires can help to reduce global warming, despite generating tonnes of carbon dioxide, a study has found. Scientists looking at the effect of fires in boreal (northern coniferous) forests found that in the long term the loss of trees means that more sunlight is reflected away from the Earth. This is because more snow, which is highly reflective, is able to cover the ground.

There is a similar effect when new trees start growing their light green leaves, which reflect better than dark foliage. "The reflectivity effect in the long run is larger than the carbon effect," Michelle Mack, of the University of Florida, said.

Boreal forests, which account for 14.5 per cent of land surface, are thought to contain 30 per cent of all the CO2 held by plants and soils. It had been feared that dryness caused by global warming would increase the frequency of fires. The findings, the researchers say, mean that plans to cut CO2 emissions by planting trees and preventing fires need to be reassessed


Journal abstract follows:

The Impact of Boreal Forest Fire on Climate Warming

J. T. Randerson et al.

We report measurements and analysis of a boreal forest fire, integrating the effects of greenhouse gases, aerosols, black carbon deposition on snow and sea ice, and postfire changes in surface albedo. The net effect of all agents was to increase radiative forcing during the first year (34 ~ 31 Watts per square meter of burned area), but to decrease radiative forcing when averaged over an 80-year fire cycle (-2.3 ~ 2.2 Watts per square meter) because multidecadal increases in surface albedo had a larger impact than fire-emitted greenhouse gases. This result implies that future increases in boreal fire may not accelerate climate warming.

Al Gore rains on his own party

Andrew Bolt comments, from Victoria, Australia

Al Gore flies in to warn about global warming and -- he's done it again! -- Victoria gets snow in November. Call it the Gore Effect -- the uncanny ability of the world's most famous global warming alarmist to cool any place he tours. You see, this has happened to the former US vice-president and narrator of An Inconvenient Truth rather a lot.

It was first noticed in Boston in 2004, when Gore was due to give a big speech in Boston on the imminent danger of the world frying. Bingo! The city had its coldest temperatures in almost 50 years. Same story with his speech that year in New York -- delivered in near-record low temperatures.

Or look over at New Zealand, which has just finished hosting another Gore tour. It's bad enough that the place was just emerging from one of its wettest and coldest winters on record. Now the local papers report: "An unusually cold October has left Southland dairy farmers struggling."

Of course, it's not just Gore who can bring a chill just by talking about global warming. A fortnight ago we read this in a Sydney newspaper: "Thousands of people have marched through central Sydney, ignoring wet and windy weather to protest against global warming." Of course, I won't make the mistake of the alarmists and claim one freak of weather disproves or proves an entire theory. Weather changes, and always has, which is a truth so many city people seem to have forgotten in this frenzy of fear.

But long-term, there is some good news. Since the big scare of 1998 -- said to be the hottest year since the Middle Ages -- the world's temperatures have fallen slightly and stayed there. Australia's temperature this year is lower than last year's. Now there are some facts to warm you.


Greenie madness metastasizes: They now want to CREATE pollution

If the sun warms the Earth too dangerously, the time may come to draw the shade. The "shade" would be a layer of pollution deliberately spewed into the atmosphere to help cool the planet. This over-the-top idea comes from prominent scientists, among them a Nobel laureate. The reaction here at the U.N. conference on climate change is a mix of caution, curiosity and some resignation to such "massive and drastic" operations, as the chief U.N. climatologist describes them.

The Nobel Prize-winning scientist who first made the proposal is himself "not enthusiastic about it." "It was meant to startle the policy makers," said Paul J. Crutzen, of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Chemistry. "If they don't take action much more strongly than they have in the past, then in the end we have to do experiments like this."

Serious people are taking Crutzen's idea seriously. This weekend, NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., hosts a closed-door, high-level workshop on the global haze proposal and other "geoengineering" ideas for fending off climate change.

In Nairobi, meanwhile, hundreds of delegates were wrapping up a two-week conference expected to only slowly advance efforts to rein in greenhouse gases blamed for much of the 1-degree rise in global temperatures in the past century. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol requires modest emission cutbacks by industrial countries - but not the United States, the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, because it rejected the deal. Talks on what to do after Kyoto expires in 2012 are all but bogged down.

When he published his proposal in the journal Climatic Change in August, Crutzen cited a "grossly disappointing international political response" to warming. The Dutch climatologist, awarded a 1995 Nobel in chemistry for his work uncovering the threat to Earth's atmospheric ozone layer, suggested that balloons bearing heavy guns be used to carry sulfates high aloft and fire them into the stratosphere. While carbon dioxide keeps heat from escaping Earth, substances such as sulfur dioxide, a common air pollutant, reflect solar radiation, helping cool the planet.

Tom Wigley, a senior U.S. government climatologist, followed Crutzen's article with a paper of his own on Oct. 20 in the leading U.S. journal Science. Like Crutzen, Wigley cited the precedent of the huge volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991. Pinatubo shot so much sulfurous debris into the stratosphere that it is believed it cooled the Earth by .9 degrees for about a year. Wigley ran scenarios of stratospheric sulfate injection - on the scale of Pinatubo's estimated 10 million tons of sulfur - through supercomputer models of the climate, and reported that Crutzen's idea would, indeed, seem to work. Even half that amount per year would help, he wrote. A massive dissemination of pollutants would be needed every year or two, as the sulfates precipitate from the atmosphere in acid rain. Wigley said a temporary shield would give political leaders more time to reduce human dependence on fossil fuels - the main source of greenhouse gases. He said experts must more closely study the feasibility of the idea and its possible effects on stratospheric chemistry.

Nairobi conference participants agreed. "Yes, by all means, do all the research," Indian climatologist Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the 2,000-scientist U.N. network on climate change, told The Associated Press. But "if human beings take it upon themselves to carry out something as massive and drastic as this, we need to be absolutely sure there are no side effects," Pachauri said.

Philip Clapp, a veteran campaigner for emissions controls to curb warming, also sounded a nervous note, saying, "We are already engaged in an uncontrolled experiment by injecting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere." But Clapp, president of the U.S. group National Environmental Trust, said, "I certainly don't disagree with the urgency."

In past years scientists have scoffed at the idea of air pollution as a solution for global warming, saying that the kind of sulfate haze that would be needed is deadly to people. Last month, the World Heath Organization said air pollution kills about 2 million people worldwide each year and that reducing large soot-like particles from sulfates in cities could save 300,000 lives annually. American geophysicist Jonathan Pershing, of Washington's World Resources Institute, is among those wary of unforeseen consequences, but said the idea might be worth considering "if down the road 25 years, it becomes more and more severe because we didn't deal with the problem."

By telephone from Germany, Crutzen said that's what he envisioned: global haze as a component for long-range planning. "The reception on the whole is more positive than I thought," he said. Pershing added, however, that reaction may hinge on who pushes the idea. "If it's the U.S., it might be perceived as an effort to avoid the problem," he said. NASA said this weekend's conference will examine "methods to ameliorate the likelihood of progressively rising temperatures over the next decades." Other such U.S. government-sponsored events are scheduled to follow.



For non-literary people, the reference to Godot is a reference to a play by Samuel Beckett, called "Waiting for Godot". Godot never turns up

In late October 2006 the European Commission issued a report, "Greenhouse Gas Emission Trends and Projections in Europe 2006". This most-recent in a series, issued coincident with the annual Kyoto Protocol negotiations, revealed continued worsening of Europe's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions profile, and announced that the "EU must take immediate action on Kyoto targets". This report is the best source for tracking Europe's Kyoto progress, and provides critical insight into the ever-changing numbers and official assumptions underlying EU claims to be the "world leader" in addressing the issue of climate change. This Policy Note assesses its meaning.

Europe's Kyoto promise, as originally ratified by the EU-15 individually, was to lower each of the nations' GHG emissions to 8% below 1990 levels by 2010. Making the most of the 1990 baseline that they insisted guide Kyoto, the EU subsequently modified these promises with a "Burden Sharing Agreement" (BSA). This internal understanding collectively capitalized on and distributed emission reductions arising from two political decisions preceding and unrelated to Kyoto: the UK's "dash to gas", and shutting much inefficient East German manufacturing capacity after German reunification.

Despite such internal arrangements, other built-in advantages described, infra, and Kyoto's "mechanisms", Europe is struggling to meet even its re-engineered promise of an 8% overall collective reduction. Possibly as a result of such looming problems, Europe appears to have finally turned a corner from routine issuance of triumphalist rhetoric about its purported success, to tempering such claims and offering exhortative calls for expedited action. The October EU report represents a new, positive step in that direction.

This most recent report is also important, however, for what it shows about the internal numbers constituting such an assessment, given Europe's growing emission increases and fading chances to comply under Kyoto in a straightforward manner.

In this context, the following Policy Note addresses emerging topics likely to take the stage at the "COP-12" talks in Nairobi, Kenya this month. Europe's performance is unlikely to suddenly become a hot topic at these talks, which generally are directed at specific haggling over terms such as "Supplementarity" and the rhetoric aimed at the non-Party U.S. Regardless, Europe's self-proclaimed role as "world leader" in climate change policy demands that this Note provide an updated assessment of Europe's emissions.

The topics addressed herein likely to emerge in Nairobi include idea of a "privileged partnership" for California so as to allow the UK/Europe to purchase GHG "credits" from a Kyoto non-Party - and the political accommodation this would require. Also addressed is Europe's idea of imposing border adjustments on energy intensive products from countries that do not ration CO2 emissions, thereby starting a "climate" trade war. Finally, this Note comments on the UNFCCC proposal of delaying talks seeking deeper "post-2012" Kyoto commitments, purportedly to wait for a different U.S. administration though long-expected as an inevitable result of Kyoto's own troubles.


Snow falls in subtropical Queensland, Australia

Drat that global warming!

Snow has fallen in southern Queensland. Granite Belt residents say snow flakes and sleet fell for between 10 and 15 minutes at about 10:30am along the border between Queensland and New South Wales. Mobile Mechanic Paul Verri has lived in the Stanthorpe area for 28 years and says he has never seen snow this late in the year. "More sleet and light rain," he said. "We've got a couple of cars parked outside and there's flakes on the cars, just an odd isolated scutter. "I guess I've never seen it before this time of the year." Senior forecaster with the Bureau of Meteorology, Craig Mitchell, says cold air from Victoria and New South Wales triggered the snow. He says such cold temperatures in November are rare. "I think it's pretty unusual, especially now that we're nearing summer time," he said. "To get that cold outburst with temperatures to the extreme that we're currently seeing at the moment would put it down to a pretty unusual sort of weather event." The Bureau of Meteorology says the last time snow or sleet was reported this late in the year was in early October 1941.



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

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

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


17 November, 2006

"Africa's Schoolchildren Should Not Have to Study by Candlelight" says African-U.S. NGO Coalition

Gathering of Nairobi Schoolchildren Dramatizes Need for Affordable Energy

With only about ten percent of sub-Saharan Africa able to enjoy the enormous benefits of electricity, dozens of schoolchildren from the Kariobangi South Primary School in Nairobi participated this morning in a candlelight ceremony to dramatize the millions of children forced to do their homework by candlelight. (To see photos of the event go to: "If we want our African children to be able to have hope for the future, they must have electricity, especially in the rural areas where there is much need," said Rosemary Segero, a native Kenyan who is president of the African International Foundation.

The event was held at the All Africa Conference of Churches as part of the U.N.'s COP-12 conference on climate change. The NGOs are concerned that developing nations, which already suffer from immense poverty and energy deprivation, will eventually bear the burden of Kyoto-style controls if a worldwide reduction in emissions is to be achieved. "It is unconscionable for wealthy, developed countries to deny the benefits of affordable electricity to the developing world," said David Rothbard, president of the Washington, D.C. based Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT). "When citizens of nations like Malawi only have five percent of their country electrified, the nations of the world must make reliable, affordable electricity a top priority."

David Ridenour, vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research, explained why the Kyoto Protocol is destined to be carried on the backs of the poor: "Carbon dioxide emissions are necessary for industrial, medical and technological advancement. Once developing nations are brought into the Kyoto compact, the European Union will continue to use its wealth to purchase more and more emissions credits. This will allow Europeans to continue to live the lifestyles to which they are accustomed while condemning the developing world to a future of hardship and poverty."

CFACT advisor Pastor Abdul Sesay, a native of Sierra Leone, summed up the sentiment, saying: "People in Africa and developing nations deserve the opportunity to create better, healthier lives for themselves and future generations. Sadly, it seems Kyoto Protocol supporters are willing to support a treaty that would deny them a basic necessity like affordable electricity. How many more must go hungry and die before Western leaders understand that this is not a political game?"

The African International Foundation advocates educational opportunities for youth as a means of saving children from crime, violence and sex trafficking. The National Center for Public Policy Research is a non-partisan, non-profit educational foundation based in Washington, DC and founded in 1982; CFACT is a non-profit public interest organization that promotes market-based and technological solutions to issues relating to environment and development.



Only safe for the moment

The centuries-old British craft of barometer-making has won a reprieve from a European Union ban on the use of toxic metal in measuring devices. Although the mercury thermometer is being consigned to history, barometer production and restoration, kept alive by three British companies, survived thanks to a lobbying campaign at the European Parliament. MEPs voted by 327 to 274 yesterday for an amendment exempting manufacturers from the ban. They were persuaded that the last producers could do more to protect the environment if they were allowed to stay in business, offering recycling and repair services.

However, European green campaigners vowed to carry on their fight to outlaw the mercury barometer along with the thermometer, the manometer and the sphygmomanometer (for measuring blood pressure), all of which, under the EU directive, are no longer to be made.

Philip Collins, owner of Barometer World in Merton, Devon, which employs five staff, said: "For once it was a victory for the little guy." His campaign, backed by the Federation of Small Businesses and the Conservative MEP Martin Callanan, argued that the barometer industry accounted for a tiny fraction of mercury compared with thermometer production. Annual usage for thermometers and other medical devices was put at more than 25 tonnes in Europe compared with 60kg for new and repaired barometers. "The idea of the directive is to stop mercury getting into the environment - but if people like us are put out of business, people who break their barometer will have nowhere to go for repairs and it is more likely to end up as waste," Mr Collins said. "Some barometers we make sell for 2,000 pounds - they do not get thrown away if they break, they get repaired." His signature barometer is the Admiral Fitzroy, named after the first head of the Met Office, who used mercury measurements to produce the first published weather forecast, which appeared in The Times on July 31, 1861.

Matthew Knowles, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "This vote has prevented the strange situation where more mercury would have entered the environment in the name of green policies." Mr Callanan said that safety warnings and controls would allow the continuation of barometer manufacturer and repair, safeguarding jobs at eight producers around Europe. He added: "Mercury does need to be controlled, but banning the household barometer is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. "The barometer industry in the UK may be small, but it is a tradition that harks back to our maritime roots. A ban would see the end of the tradition of barometer-making begun in the mid-1600s when mercury barometers were introduced."

However, yesterday's development was only the first reading of the directive. When it returns to MEPs in six months, Greens will try again to have new barometers outlawed.

The Swedish Green MEP Carl Schlyter said yesterday: "The decision of the European Parliament to exempt barometers from an EU ban on measuring devices risks completely derailing this legislative proposal on this highly toxic substance. "It is a disgrace that a handful of small producers should be able to hold public health to ransom by de facto blocking an agreement on the phase-out of mercury, and it is irresponsible of those MEPs who have pushed for this."



Global oil production will increase for at least the next 25 years as new drilling and refining techniques make it possible to tap heretofore untouchable reserves, according to Cambridge Energy Research Associates, the consulting firm run by Daniel Yergin. The world probably has 3.7 trillion barrels of oil left, more than twice the estimates of geologists and analysts such as Matthew Simmons, of the investment bank Simmons & Co., who argue global output is close to a peak, said Peter Jackson, director of oil-industry research for the Cambridge, Massachusetts, firm. ``The peak-oil theory causes confusion and can lead to inappropriate actions and turn attention away from the real issues,'' Jackson said in remarks prepared for a conference call today with analysts, investors and reporters. ``Oil is too critical to the global economy to allow fear to replace careful analysis about the very real challenges.''

The late geologist M. King Hubbert, working for a unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, first put forward in 1956 the theory that output from a specific oil deposit or region would peak and then start to decline following a predictable curve. His ideas have gained currency as oil prices tripled in the past five years and producers struggled to keep pace with rising demand in China. The theory is ``misleading'' and based on incomplete data, according to today's report from Cambridge Energy. Worldwide oil production will rise by more than 50 percent to about 130 million barrels a day around 2030 before output plateaus, the report said. Yergin, the firm's founder, wrote ``The Prize,'' a Pulitzer-winning history of the oil industry.

When global crude output begins to fall around 2050, the decline probably will be gradual, giving policy makers, industry and energy producers time to develop new alternatives to petroleum-based fuels, the report said.

Peak Oil Study Group

The Association for the Study of Peak Oil estimates the world has 1.46 trillion barrels of oil left and that production will peak in 2010, according to the group's November newsletter. The group's leaders include British geologist Colin Campbell, who helped popularize the peak-oil theory with his 1997 book, ``The Coming Oil Crisis.'' An August report from Cambridge Energy that took issue with the peak-oil theory was criticized by the President of the peak oil association, Kjell Aleklett, as a money-making vehicle based on proprietary data that the firm was unwilling to submit to impartial scientific review. Aleklett said Cambridge Energy analysts were too optimistic about the ability of big producers including Saudi Arabia to increase output.

U.S. Representatives Roscoe Bartlett, a Maryland Republican, and Thomas Udall of New Mexico, formed the House Peak Oil Caucus to promote the theory among lawmakers. Bartlett and Udall endorse the peak oil association's prediction that output will start declining after 2010. ``There is not much time to act,'' Udall, a Democrat, told a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel in December. ``Since oil provides about 40 percent of the world's energy, a peak in global oil production will be a turning point in human history.''

Refiners have used about 1.08 trillion barrels of crude since the birth of the petroleum industry in Pennsylvania in 1859, according to Cambridge Energy. Undiscovered fields probably hold 758 billion barrels, followed by 704 billion trapped inside a very hard type of rock known as shale, and 662 billion in the Middle East, according to the report. The rest of the firm's 3.7 trillion barrel total comes from untapped reserves in the deepest seas, the Arctic and places such as Canada's tar sands and Venezuela's Orinoco basin.

``This is the fifth time that the world is said to be running out of oil,'' Yergin said in an e-mailed statement. ``Each time -- whether it was the `gasoline famine' at the end of World War I or the `permanent shortage' of the 1970s -- technology and the opening of new frontier areas has banished the specter of decline.''

Oil prices have climbed 24 percent in the past two years and touched an all-time high of $78.40 a barrel in July. Economic growth in China, India and the U.S. has boosted demand while hurricanes and militant attacks crimped production in some regions, including the Gulf of Mexico and West Africa. Cambridge Energy Research Associates, which advises governments, oil companies and financial institutions on energy issues, is not the only skeptic of the peak-oil theory. Stuart McGill, a senior vice president who oversees Exxon Mobil Corp.'s oil and gas business, dismissed the peak theory in a Nov. 1 interview as being without merit. Irving, Texas-based Exxon is the world's biggest oil company, pumping more crude than every member of OPEC except Saudi Arabia and Iran.


Does Hollywood cause global warming?

I no more believe in man's ability to destroy the Earth via global warming than I do in the Tooth Fairy. But I respect the right of those who worship at the altar of Global Warming. It is a religion of peace. Like the Holy Rollers who used to preach at Public Square in Cleveland in my youth, the Global Warming Cult truly believes that Man's Sins Will Cause The Destruction Of Our Planet.

As with Scientology, Kabbalah and the American version of Buddhism, this Cult of Impending Doom has captured the attention of the film industry. Which has the heathen in me snickering over this report in the LA Times today that Hollywood is a major polluter in the LA area. The subheadline to the story could apply to the major manufacturer in every city:

UCLA report says the movie and TV industry is a major generator of Southland pollution. An economist cautions that more rules may drive filming out of state.

Save Hollywood from pollution regulations. The story said the report found Hollywood "emits a whopping 140,000 tons a year of ozone and diesel particulate pollutant emissions from trucks, generators, special effects earthquakes and fires, demolition of sets with dynamite and other sources." By comparison, the John Amos plant which I can see from my back yard emits about 120,000 tons of SO2 and NOx a year. It is the nation's 10th largest coal-fired electricity plant.

The irony is all this blowing up of things comes in movies like "The Day After Tomorrow" -- flicks meant to scare us into believing -- truly believing -- that every forest fire, every hurricane, every blizzard and every tsunami is a prepayment for man's Sin Against Nature. But to get around the nasty little business of destroying the planet in order to save the planet, Hollywood plants trees. That's right. To get around the obvious hypocrisy, you plant a tree and pretend everything is the same as it ever was. Reported KNBC-TV in LA:

The makers of the film "The Day After Tomorrow" paid $200,000 to plant trees and for other steps to offset the estimated 10,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions caused by vehicles, generators and other machinery used in production.

It is sort of like buying a Hybrid to offset the SUV in the garage, which is only used on weekends. That is sort of like being partially pregnant. Hollywood is recycling and is reusing. And studies like this tend to be aimed more at headlines than at science. Hollywood employs 252,000 people and generates $29 billion a year. That works out to a little more than a half-ton of pollution per employee and about a hundred bucks of revenue per pound of pollution. That's the trade off. Every act of man creates pollution. I am pretty sure God worked this into his calculation when He created the universe.


Australia reacts to French global warming threat

Australia has hit back at France over its threat to impose a tax on industrial goods from countries that ignore the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Prime Minister John Howard described the plan as "silly", while the mass-circulation Daily Telegraph headlined its report: "Back off, Frogs". Running across a picture of a French nuclear bomb explosion in the Pacific in 1971, a subheading read: "The French did this to our backyard and they have de Gaulle to attack us on Kyoto."

Australia, like the United States, has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on reducing the emission of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. Howard's conservative government says compliance would harm the economy and complains that the pact fails to impose similar curbs on pollution by major developing countries such as China and India.

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said Monday he would push with European partners for a carbon tax on industrial goods from countries that ignore the Kyoto Protocol. "That is a thoroughly silly proposal and utterly out of touch with reality," Howard told reporters. "Mind you, (Villepin) does come from a country that is known for imposing high trade barriers against other countries like Australia."

The Kyoto protocol requires industrialised countries to reduce emissions of six greenhouse gases by 5.2 percent by 2008-2012 compared with their 1990 levels. UN-sponsored talks are underway in Nairobi to reshape the agreement for the period after 2012 and include rapidly developing economies not bound by the original text.

Villepin said France would present EU members with concrete proposals in the first quarter of 2007 to tax industrial imports from countries that snub Kyoto Protocol requirements after 2012. "Europe must use all its weight" to counter "environmental dumping", he said.

Despite his dismissive comments and a continuing refusal to ratify Kyoto, Howard has recently signalled a major policy shift as Canberra scrambles to counter criticism of its environmental policy. He has proposed a "new Kyoto" and said Tuesday he would back launching an international carbon trading scheme to fight global warming when he meets leaders at this weekend's APEC summit in Vietnam. Carbon trading is the centrepiece of the Kyoto pact, which proposes a system under which rich countries are allotted caps for their pollution but which only Europe has begun embracing. If countries come in under target they can sell any surplus to partners who are above their emissions goal.



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

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

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


16 November, 2006


The concept of consensus means little more than a majority of opinions on a given matter. In politics this is the best we can do in making decisions to proceed with political actions. In the scientific world consensus is meaningless, and often unscientific, and worse, often wrong. Even the act of seeking such a consensus as a form of proof is not science.

In the legal community there are standards of evidence which are equally unsatisfactory in settling scientific issues, such as"preponderance of evidence" or "beyond a reasonable doubt". In matters of law these are about the best we can do, short of confessions, but in scientific disputes it is inappropriate. Scientific disputes must be settled by evidence, the data, the facts, and not through verbal skills, political intimidation, or suppression of unpleasant evidence. Nor can they be settled by computer predictions, since these results are not evidence either.

Author Michael Crichton himself an MD., captured the situation very well, as he showed in this lecture at Caltech about the dangers of "consensus science": "I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had. Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics...In addition, let me remind you that the track record of the consensus is nothing to be proud of."

Quite often advances in knowledge of natural science have not been led by the bureaucrats in power, but instead by a minority point of view, and in some cases by an individual such as Galileo. Even though Galileo had plotted the positions of the moons of Jupiter in his notebook, even though his telescope was available to any in authority to check, no one did. The "consensus" views of the powerful had to be maintained. And Galileo therefore suffered at the hands of powerful authorities for his heresies.

Going against the prevailing dogmas of the government authorities has been difficult, dangerous, and even deadly. The many sackings of the library in Alexandria reflect a general anti-knowledge view of the world by the powerful, from the Romans to the Christians, to the Muslims (See here). The torture and burning at the stake of Giordano Bruno, a contemporary of Galileo, for defending the heretical heliocentric theory of the Universe, was a 17th century example of dealing with minority views.

The finding of the cause of puerperal fever (bed infection) by Ignaz Semmelweis in the 1800s, a killer of thousands of women during childbirth, led to his scorn and isolation by the medical community, those powerful "experts", of the times. He found that the extremely high rates of death among women were being caused by the failure of attending physicians to wash their hands between autopsies and childbirth activities, transmitting the disease as they did so. He paid a terrible price for his findings. He was scorned by the medical profession, suffered a mental breakdown, and died in an institution. So much for skeptics. His life-saving discovery was not appreciated until after his death. Thousands died needlessly, thanks to arrogance.

The global warming debate has turned similarly ugly. A scientific consensus has been achieved, it is claimed, the results are in, it is claimed, so it is now time to repress the skeptics and put them out of business. On October 27, 2006 U.S. Senators John D. Rockefeller IV and Olympia Snowe co-authored a request to Exxon Mobil to end financial assistance to those awful skeptics. They were recommending that their relatively small support for skeptical scientists be terminated by Exxon Mobil.

Let's not forget that tens of billions of dollars have been spent by the US government and foundations in support of the global warming theory and the good Senators do not call for ending that. This is a scientific issue and cannot be resolved by voting, or the development of consensus, or the censorship of scientists with differing and challenging questions. Nor can the science be advanced by the repression of information adverse to the global warmers beliefs. This isn't a courtroom game where adverse evidence is inadmissible.

The skeptics are being isolated, dismissed, attacked, and defunded (burning at the stake hasn't been openly mentioned yet, but Nuremburg-type trials have. They are asking hard questions, as they should, which aren't being answered by the modelers, as they should.

The U.S. government has had a poor record in resolving scientific disputes. Furthermore, the resulting unscientific government policies have been harmful, costly, and deadly (such as the EPA DDT ban, the proposed EPA chlorine ban, exaggerations of harmful effects of low level radiation, acid rain, etc). In fact the 9000 pages of expert testimony given at the 1972 EPA hearings on DDT were ignored. This resulted in the DDT ban with the resulting millions of deaths from malaria that could have been easily controlled by DDT. The EPA continues with the 34 year DDT ban continues to this today.

Let's be clear: the acquisition of knowledge of the natural sciences has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics, of polite agreements on where to plant the daisies, or where to build the library. Letters from US Senators to silence critics is a familiar display of totalitarian instincts, a rather un-American activity we should think. Serious scientists should welcome criticism, and many have in the past. Hypotheses are to be examined, modified, or abandoned, while knowledge is advanced, understanding improved. But it is not welcomed these days, which is, sadly, a most unscientific situation. When Michael Crichton said that "Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled", he was right. When it comes to the natural sciences consensus is not science, and science is not consensus.



(An email from Michael Crichton to Bob Ferguson [] of Center For Science and Public Policy)

One of the great proofs of fantasy in the current state of global warming is that climate conformists simultaneously hold two contradictory world views. The first is that the debate is over, there are no skeptics, and that everyone of moral fiber and decent intellect has agreed that climate change is primarily caused by human carbon dioxide emissions. The only holdouts are a handful of individuals with too much back hair who are paid by oil companies, but they are few in number, scientifically discredited, and no one listens to them.

The second belief is that what prevents action on global warming is the skeptics. This same handful of dimwits has somehow managed to halt progress of every country in the world on a global problem, and has stymied the entire planet.

How have the skeptics managed this feat? They have succeeded because they have managed to get equal time in the press. And about this there can be no question. Otherwise very intelligent observers have come to this conclusion. And why not. I need not remind you how many movies, TV specials, and magazine cover stories have featured the skeptical point of view. Dozens and dozens.

Personally, I blame the skeptics for the failure of European nations to meet their Kyoto targets. If the skeptics hadn't been such naysayers, countries like Spain and Canada wouldn't be so far from their targets.


Over 5000 climate change negotiators from 189 countries began meeting last week in Nairobi, Kenya and will end their deliberations on November 17. The goal of the 12th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP-12) and the second Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (MOP-2) is to begin the process of figuring out what to do about greenhouse gas emissions after the Kyoto Protocol commitment period ends in 2012. The Kyoto Protocol obliges 35 industrialized nations to cut their domestic emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The Kyoto Protocol applies to countries that emit about 30 percent of the world's greenhouse gases. The United States, which emits about 25 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, and Australia have not signed the Protocol.

Some recent studies argue that greenhouse gas emissions must be slashed almost immediately in order to achieve the UNFCCC's goal of avoiding "dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." For example, the Left-leaning British Institute for Public Policy Research issued an alarming report last week claiming that humanity has "only ten years to save the planet." The IPPR asserts that "global emissions of CO2 peak within ten years and fall by 70 to 80 per cent by 2050, we will face an unacceptable risk of causing a rise of more than 2řC, which would result in dangerous and irreversible impacts."

Just how difficult (and how unlikely) that goal is was underlined by the International Energy Agency's World Energy Outlook 2006 which was also issued last week. The WEO 2006 projected that with current policies world energy demand would be 50 percent greater than today in 2030 and emissions of carbon dioxide would rise by 55 percent above current levels. Even if the world adopted all of the IEA's proposals for investing in nuclear power, biofuels, renewables, and increased energy efficiency, world demand for energy would still increase by 37 percent and carbon dioxide emissions would be 39 percent higher in 2030. The WEO 2006 also predicts that China will surpass the United States as the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases by 2010. In addition, researchers at the Global Carbon Project report that emissions of the chief greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, grew 4 times faster between 2000 and 2005 than they did in the 1990s, rising from 0.8 percent per year to 3.2 percent per year. This occurred, in part, because China is building coal-fired electric generation plants at a rate of one every 3 to 4 days.

Two weeks ago-just before the climate change delegates gathered in Nairobi-- the British government issued the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change that offered a scenario in which unmitigated climate change would result in the loss of between 5 and 20 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2100. The report concluded that this could be avoided by spending 1 percent (about $450 billion) per year of world GDP today to keep greenhouse gas concentrations below 550 parts per million (ppm). This provoked a spate of headlines warning that the battle to prevent climate change must begin now. The alarming conclusions of the Stern Review are have been challenged by, among others, skeptical environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg and Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren at the libertarian Cato Institute.

Interestingly, the British business magazine The Business reports that a leaked draft of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change upcoming Fourth Assessment Report calculates that achieving the goal of limiting greenhouse gases to 550 ppm could cost as much as 5 percent of global GDP. If the IPCC's calculations are correct, the article notes, "they open up the possibility that the British proposals would cost as much as they save, making them redundant." Of course, trying to predict global GDP a century from now is probably even harder than trying to predict global average temperatures in 2106.

The first meeting of the Kyoto Protocol signatories in Montreal, Quebec last year required that negotiations to set tougher caps on greenhouse gas emissions after 2012 begin at the Nairobi meeting. It appears that negotiators are unlikely to agree to any such new goals by the end of the week. Part of the reason is that the world is waiting to see how U.S. policy might change when Kyoto-rejectionist President George W. Bush leaves office after 2008. In addition, the big developing countries like China, India and Brazil are resisting the imposition of binding limits on their emissions. Without them, any man-made climate change would be delayed by just a few years.


New UN Children's Book Promotes Global Warming Fears to Kids

Nairobi, Kenya - A new United Nations children's book promoting fears of catastrophic manmade global warming is being promoted at the UN Climate Change Conference in Kenya. The books main character, a young boy, is featured getting so worried about a coming manmade climate disaster that he yells "I don't want to hear anymore!" The new children's book, entitled "Tore and the Town on Thin Ice" is published by the United Nations Environment Programme and blames "rich countries" for creating a climate catastrophe.

The book is about a young kid named Tore who lives in an Arctic village. Tore loses a dog sled race because he crashes through the thinning ice allegedly caused by manmade greenhouse gas emissions. The book features colorful drawings and large text to appeal to young children. After the boy loses the dog sled race, he is visited by "Sedna, the Mother of the Sea" in a dream. The "Sea Mother" informs the boy in blunt terms that the thinning ice that caused his loss in the dog sled race was due to manmade global warming. "I'm the one who created and cares for the sea creatures - whales and walruses, seals and fish," the "Sea Mother" explained to the boy. The "Sea Mother" then tells the boy she will educate him about the reason the ice is thinning.

The morning after his dream, Tore sets out on a quest for knowledge about the dangers of catastrophic manmade global warming. A "snowy owl" informs Tore that "the planet's heating up" and that both the Arctic and Antarctica "are warming almost twice as fast as elsewhere." [EPW Note: The Arctic, according to the International Arctic Research Center was warmer during the 1930's than today and both the journals Science and Nature have published studies recently finding - on balance - Antarctica is both cooling and gaining ice.]

The "snowy owl" tells Tore that winning dog sledding races "might not be your top worry" and the owl instead tells the boy that "lots of things are changing fast. Some people who hunt for a living are already going hungry because a lot of seals and walruses are heading north." The "snowy owl" also asserts that "the great ice cap here in Greenland-mountains of snow and ice up to about four kilometers thick-is thawing." [EPW Note: A 2005 study by a scientist named Ola Johannessen and his colleagues showed that the interior of Greenland is gaining ice and mass.]

Next, a polar bear informs Tore that it is hungry because the ice is too thin to stand on and hunt and the bear says that other bears have "starved" because the sea ice went out to sea. The polar bear adds, "We may not have much of a future." [EPW Note: In May of 2006, biologist Dr. Mitchell Taylor from the Arctic government of Nunavut, a territory of Canada, noted that "Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present." ] The polar bear concludes by telling Tore, "It looks like many animals and fish and birds will go extinct-die out-during your lifetime, partly because of changes in climate."

The child is described "at a loss for words" after hearing this grim news and just "stare[s] at the polar bear." After a whale appears to present more climate fear, the boy finally screams, "Listen, I've had all the bad news I can stand. Our world is melting. Polar bears are starving and all sorts of animals won't survive. I don't want to hear anymore!" The whale responds, "That's the spirit! Get good and angry. You'll need all that energy to make a difference." The whale then goes on to describe computer model projections of massive coastal flooding in the future and the potential destruction of human life in coastal areas because of the projected sea level rise. [EPW note: Many scientists dispute the notion that mankind has created a climate doomsday. See: ( )]

The whale continues, telling the child that more hurricanes and "other things you call `natural disasters' are on their way, too - and they're getting harsher." [EPW Note: The relationships between global warming and hurricanes is currently under debate, with the great majority of scientists believing there is little connection. For instance, 2006 was anticipated to be a record year for Hurricanes, but turned out to be one of the calmest seasons in many, many years.] Finally Tore has had enough and asks, "Is there anything at all a kid like me can do?" The "Sea Mother" tells him of the dangerous effects that an oil and gas based energy system has on the climate and the "Sea Mother" singles out the industrialized world as the cause of her predicted climate catastrophe. "Rich countries use-and waste-an awful lot of energy. Huge cars. Too many cars instead of efficient trains and buses," the "Sea Mother explains to Tore. [EPW Fact: Several developing world nations will soon pass the U.S. in greenhouse gas emissions. China alone will pass the U.S. in emission in 2009. ]

Finally the "Sea Mother" tells Tore that the solution to the climate crisis can begin in his Arctic village by "setting up solar panels to get electricity from the sun, and modern windmills to capture the energy of the wind." The book ends with a section answering the question "What can you do?" The books answer includes such suggestions as "Join or create an environmental club," "only drive cars if you must," and "write to your political leaders."



A group of climate scientists from the UK's Met Office have flown to Nairobi to meet colleagues from around the world to discuss climate research and present their most recent findings. They have taken with them an imaginatively titled report detailing the predicted effect climate change will have on the developing world (It's called "Effects of climate change on developing countries"). The report is based on climate models running on PRECIS, a regional climate modelling system developed by the Met Office to run on personal computers.

The Met Office's Dr Vicky Pope will set out the main conclusions of their research: the likely increases in areas affected by extreme drought from three per cent of the globe to 30 per cent by 2100, and severe drought increasing from eight per cent to 40 per cent of the planet. In news that will no doubt confuse climate change sceptics like Jeremy Clarkson, their models also predict some areas will have a lower incidence of drought if the planet gets hotter.

However, nowhere in the government announcement of the visit is there a calculation of the amount of carbon that will be produced by sending all these climatologists to Nairobi, when they could all have stayed home and had a video conference instead. Tch tch. [The climatologists are not stupid: they know where the good weather is in November]



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

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

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


15 November, 2006


If the green campaigners manage to change the habits of the nation, it will be popcorn and fruit, not glittering baubles, dangling from the branches of Christmas trees this year. Traditional tree decorations are all under fire from environmental campaigners attempting to change the colour of Christmas from white to green. Even the fairy will be missing, as she has been condemned as an eco-hazard. Campaigners want the fairies, stars, tinsel and baubles that usually adorn the tree to be replaced with edible decorations that can be given to the birds when Christmas is over. And forget about the annual trip to see grandma. For a really green Christmas the car should be left in the garage and "kith and kin" wished seasons greetings over the internet.

Tree lights, cards and wrapping paper are also targeted as wasteful in the guidance on how to have a green Christmas. Advice contained in the Green Guide to Christmas urges the public to use fewer lights, turn off those that remain during the day and to recycle Christmas cards. Wrapping paper could, the guide suggests, be replaced with tin foil that can be used later in the kitchen, or with old newspapers, magazines or brown paper. Artificial trees ought to be eschewed in favour of the real thing. "Our favourite option is to buy a new fir tree with its roots still attached from an ecologically sustainable source and plant it in your garden after Christmas," says the report issued by Green Guide. "Do this every year until you have a mini forest in your backyard." They recognised that planting rows of trees over the years was not feasible for all householders but said that unwanted firs could be composted in the new year.

Of tree and other decorations, they say: "Many of the decorations available in high street stores have been treated chemically to colour the paper or are made out of nonbiodegradable substances. "Avoid anything which cannot be recycled or has not been made from recycled materials. Use edible tree decorations that can be given to garden birds afterwards, like popcorn and cranberry strings."

Amid growing concerns about global warming being caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the guide urges restraint on energy consumption. "Increasingly there are options for you to both reduce the amount of energy you use and to seek out more sustainable sources," it says. "What really lies at the heart of the issue is the need for us to make a cultural change. We need to stop assuming that we can go on as we are indefinitely."

Muslim leaders joined their Christian counterparts yesterday in criticising politicians and town hall leaders who want to play down Christmas. The Christian Muslim Forum said that right-wing extremism was being fuelled by attempts to remove religion from the festival, such as Birmingham's decision to rename its celebrations Winterval. The forum said: "The desire to secularise religious festivals is offensive to both of our communities. Those who use the fact of religious pluralism as an excuse to de-Christianise British society unthinkingly become recuiting agents for the extreme Right."


World's forests making a comeback

MANY of the world's forests appear to be making a comeback, and some are more thickly forested now than they were nearly 200 years ago, according to a new study published today. The United States and China had the greatest gain in forests over the last 15 years, while Brazil and Indonesia lost the most, according to the study published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research by an international team took a new look at what makes a forest. Rather than defining it simply as the area covered with trees, the scientists also considered how big the trees were - how many of them were large enough to be considered timber, also known as growing stock - how thickly they grew and how much atmospheric carbon was tied up in them.

Releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere spurs global warming. Trees absorb carbon dioxide. As well, the scientists took into account the amount of organic material, known as biomass, present in the forest. By this standard, the researchers found that despite widespread concerns about deforestation, the number of timber-size trees increased from 1990 to 2005 in 22 of the 50 countries with the most forest.

The reasons to care about healthy forests are legion: forests foster biodiversity, anchor soil, slow erosion, and, when trees are allowed to grow to timber size, contribute to the economy in the form of lumber and paper. In the United States, the transition from deforestation to reforestation took place first in the northeastern state of Connecticut in the early 1900s. Some states, including Texas, made the change only in 2002. "The United States is doing quite well, but we've done quite well for a period of time," said co-author Roger Sedjo of the Washington-based group Resources for the Future. "Our forests have been more or less stable for the last 100 years." Other countries made the transition much earlier: Denmark's shift came in 1810, France in the 1830s, Switzerland in the 1860s, Portugal by 1870, Scotland in the 1920s and European Russia in the 1930s.

Mr Sedjo said the transition often came when countries began to prosper, and were better able to put policies in place that preserved forested land. Almost every country with a per capita gross domestic product over $US4600 has moved to reforestation, the study found.

Why are the forests returning? Co-author Paul Waggoner of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station noted a set of events that seem to feed on each other. When countries protected forests, they could grow. At the same time, when farmland was preserved, farmers were less likely to encroach on forests, Mr Waggoner said. In Europe, timber imports, energy technology, and economic development that sent country people to the cities also played a role, Mr Waggoner said. As farm technologies improved, farming concentrated on fertile lands and left marginally fertile forests alone, even as urban migration depleted rural populations.



There's a line between political spin and outright deception. Environmental organizations crossed over that line in their post-election analysis of House Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Pombo's re-election defeat. Defenders of Wildlife and the League of Conservation Voters, among other environmental groups, want people to believe that Mr. Pombo's defeat was a referendum on his environmental record. As a Defenders of Wildlife President Rodger Schlickeisen noted in a press statement, "Pombo's defeat... serves as notice that extreme anti-environmental positions can be an extreme liability on the campaign trail."

But Mr. Pombo's environmental record wasn't discussed much on the campaign trail. Although Green groups committed millions to defeating Congressman Pombo, they gave environmental policy the metaphoric equivalent of the Heisman (named after the famous Heisman Trophy pose). While Pombo's efforts to fix the Endangered Species Act, overhaul the National Environmental Policy Act, and promote U.S. energy independence by opening part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf to environmentally-responsible oil exploration came up during the campaign, they were largely incidental to the Greens' efforts.

Instead of focusing on these issues, the Greens' commercials and other campaign material focused -- largely unfairly -- on Pombo's ethics. Those fed up with Washington scandals found in Pombo a convenient target and took their frustrations out on him. Other incumbents -- including those who have been staunch allies of the Greens -- were swept out of office for the same reason. Rep. Jim Leach, who received a mere 27 percent rating from the League of Private Property Voters (LPPV) -- kind of the antithesis of the League of Conservation Voters -- lost re-election. So too did Lincoln Chafee (LPPV rating: 33), Nancy Johnson (LPPV rating: 36), Sue Kelly (LPPV rating: 18) and Michael Fitzpatrick (LPPV rating: 36). Are we to believe this was a referendum on their environmental positions, too?

No. Richard Pombo and these other members did not lose on environmental issues. As for the power of environmentalists and their message... The only way environmentalists can win is through issues other than their own. As long as that's true, they're not winners. They're losers.


Global warming may kill most birds: WWF

We heard recently that most fish were going to die out. Now it's birds. Shades of Paul Ehrlich. That birds are highly mobile and can just shift latitude without trouble seems to be ignored. Birds that are "missing" from a given area will most likely just have moved elsewhere

Unchecked climate change could drive up to 72 per cent of the world's bird species into extinction but the world still has a chance to limit the losses, a new report says. From migratory insect-eaters to tropical honeycreepers and cold water penguins, birds are highly sensitive to changing weather conditions and many are already being affected badly by global warming, the WWF study said. "Birds are the quintessential 'canaries in the coal mine' and are already responding to current levels of climate change," said the report, launched at a United Nations conference in Kenya on ways to slow warming.

"Birds now indicate that global warming has set in motion a powerful chain of effects in ecosystems worldwide," WWF said. "Robust evidence demonstrates that climate change is affecting birds' behaviour - with some migratory birds even failing to migrate at all." In the future, it said, unchecked warming could put large numbers of species at risk, with estimates of extinction rates as high as 72 per cent, "depending on the region, climate scenario and potential for birds to shift to new habitats". It said the "more extreme scenarios" of extinctions could be prevented if tough climate protection targets were enforced and greenhouse gas emissions cut to keep global warming increases to less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Already in decline in Europe and the United States, many migratory birds were now missing out on vital food stocks that are appearing earlier and earlier due to global warming, widely blamed by scientists on emissions from burning fossil fuels. In Canada's northern Hudson Bay, the report said, mosquitoes were hatching and reaching peak numbers earlier in the spring, but seabirds breeding there had not adjusted their behaviour. In the Netherlands, it added, a similar mismatch had led to the decline of up to 90 per cent in some populations of pied flycatchers over the last two decades.

Predicted rising temperatures could see Europe's Mediterranean coastal wetlands - critical habitats for migratory birds - completely destroyed by the 2080s, it said. Rising temperatures were also seen having disastrous impacts on non-migratory species, as their habitat ranges shifted. "Many centres of species richness for birds are currently located in protected areas, from which birds may be forced by climatic changes into unprotected zones," the report said. "Island and mountain birds may simply have nowhere to go."

In the US, unabated warming was seen cutting bird species by nearly a third in the eastern Midwest and Great Lakes, while almost three-quarters of rainforest birds in Australia's northeastern Wet Tropics were at risk of being wiped out. "In Europe, the endangered Spanish imperial eagle, currently found mainly in natural reserves and parks, is expected to lose its entire current range," WWF's report said.



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

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

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


14 November, 2006


The government often hides behind a figleaf of scientific respectability when spinning unpalatable or controversial policies to make them acceptable to voters, according to a report by MPs critical of the way science is used in policy.

The parliamentary science and technology select committee said that scientific evidence was often misused or distorted to justify policy decisions which were really based on ideological or social grounds.

The report, the culmination of a nine-month inquiry, calls for a "radical re-engineering" of the way the government uses science. "Abuse of the term 'evidence based' ... is a form of fraud which corrupts the whole use of science in government," said Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrats' science spokesman and a member of the committee. "It's critical that the currency of an evidence base is not devalued by false claims."



The consensus on how to handle climate change has become suffocating. There is near universal agreement that the solution lies primarily in rationing energy consumption. On an individual level this generally means the imposition of `green taxes' to make such activities as driving and air travel more expensive. On a larger scale the emphasis is on `carbon trading', which is about reducing greenhouse gas emissions from businesses and the public sector.

This lack of debate is tragic, as the challenge of global warming could provide an invaluable opportunity to transform the world for the better. A huge investment in energy would enable humanity to tackle climate change and end the curse of world poverty at the same time. Such investment would not even require the invention of new technology - although more innovation would be hugely beneficial. Nuclear power and hydroelectric power could potentially provide plentiful energy without greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon sequestration - capturing carbon dioxide emissions and storing them - could make energy derived from fossil fuels far less harmful. The extra energy could fuel economic growth without doing significant damage to the climate.

If the solution is so obvious, why is it not recognised? The answer can be gleaned by examining the Stern report on the economics of climate change, commissioned by the British government. Although the report is more nuanced than any minister's speech, it is informed by a neurotic small-mindedness that is characteristic of the climate change discussion. Rather than boldly search for imaginative solutions to the challenge, it is steeped in anxiety and caution.

The starting point of the Stern report is the argument that climate change reveals the flaws of capitalism. `It is the greatest example of market failure we have ever seen', says the report (p1). The fact that the market system is seen as driving the world to disaster is a strong indication of the nervous mindset of its authors and its government sponsor. Stern portrays climate change as what in economics is called an `externality' (p23). In other words, the costs of greenhouse gas emissions are not paid for by those who create them. For example, if someone drives a car the cost of the damage it does to the environment is not factored into the price the driver pays to purchase or run the vehicle. Similarly, the environmental costs of using plentiful electricity are not paid by the rich consumers of the West.

From these assumptions it is easy to draw the conclusion that rationing must be central to any solution. Stern gives many examples of how this can be achieved. Putting a price on carbon - whether through tax, trading or regulation - is seen as central. Encouraging `behavioural change', for example through public `education' (read government propaganda), is also portrayed as important. To be fair to Stern, the report does discuss other policies that are not reliant on rationing. The possibility of switching to low carbon technologies which do not emit greenhouse gases is considered. It also sees a role for adaptation - for instance, building modern flood defences. But the discussion of these options often seems half-hearted or secondary to the alternatives. In any case, when it comes to the government's imminent climate change bill, it looks certain that rationing will be at the centre of its approach.

Stern is also sensitive to the charge that a strategy based on rationing could curb economic growth. It points out, correctly, that economic growth has historically been closely correlated with rising greenhouse gas emissions (p169). It is almost an iron law of economics that as societies become richer they use more energy per head. And historically, fossil fuels have supplied the vast majority of the world's energy needs.

One way Stern responds to this recognition is to downplay the economics costs of its approach. It estimates that the strategy it proposes need only cost 1 per cent of GDP by 2050. But its limited horizons are apparent in the notion of sustainable development that it advocates: `Future generations should have a right to a standard of living no lower than the current one.' (p42) So Stern seems to find it acceptable that humanity should continue in its present state of widespread poverty. This in a world where more than a billion still live on less than one dollar a day, and 2.7 billion live on less than two dollars.

More dishonest is the report's counterposition between an approach based on rationing and `business as usual'. It argues - correctly - that doing nothing could ultimately have enormous economic costs. But why should the alternative to rationing be doing nothing? No one is suggesting that Bangladeshis should be left to drown or that Africans should be condemned to die of drought. Nor should malaria or other diseases go unchecked.

On the contrary, rapid economic growth would be enormously beneficial to the Third World, as well as bolstering its ability to tackle climate change. Economic growth would enable Africans, Asians and Latin Americans to share the benefits of prosperity that we in the West take for granted. It would also give them the resources to reduce their vulnerability to climate change. A subsistence farmer clearly has little flexibility to react to changes in his environment. A modern city-dweller, by contrast, has access to networks and resources to protect himself from the climate. Why should anyone die of heatstroke if they live in an air-conditioned building? How can there be drought if there are the resources to build desalination plants? Why should malaria continue to be a threat with modern preventative measures and hospitals?

So the time to act against global poverty and to tackle climate change is here. Let's have a massive investment in new global energy supplies. With modern innovations there is no reason why it should lead to significant increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, over time there could be reductions. The challenge of climate change could be turned into an opportunity to transform the world into a better, richer place.



The climate change debate has taken on a pantomine character, with lurid plots and stage villains, says Dominic Lawson

The studio audience of The Late Edition, the BBC's only live comedy show, last week witnessed the following elevated debate between the host, Marcus Brigstocke, and your columnist. Brigstocke: "All those who question the extent of manmade climate change are in the pay of the oil companies." Self: "Oh no, they're not." Brigstocke: "Oh yes, they are!" Self: "Oh no, they're not!"

At this point I half-expected the audience to start chanting along with us, in the manner of a Christmas panto. At times it has seemed as if the entire British debate on climate change has taken on the character of a pantomime, with lurid plots, grotesque caricatures, and stage villains. Indeed, some of the outfits worn at the Stop Climate Chaos rally in London on Saturday looked as though they had been hired from theatrical costumiers.

In the world of grown-ups, the man who has probably thought more deeply than anyone else in this country about climate change is distinctly unamused. Professor Mike Hulme is the founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and the coordinating lead author of the chapter on "climate change scenarios" for the third assessment of the International Panel on Climate Change. On the day that 22,000 supporters of Stop Climate Chaos rallied in Trafalgar Square, Professor Hulme delivered a thunderous rebuke, which was posted to the Green Room, the BBC's website for 'thought provoking environmental opinion pieces'.

"Over the last few years a new environmental phenomenon has been constructed in this country - the phenomenon of 'catastrophic' climate change'" wrote Prof. Hulme. "The increasing use of this term and its bedfellow qualifiers 'chaotic', 'irreversible' and 'rapid' has altered the public discourse [which] is now characterised by phrases such as 'irreversible tipping in the Earth's climate' and 'we are at the point of no return.'" "Some recent examples of the catastrophists include Tony Blair, who [states] 'We have a window of only 10-15 years to take the steps we need to avoid crossing a catastrophic tipping point.' Why is it not just campaigners, but politicians and scientists too, who are openly confusing the language of fear, terror and disaster with the observable physical reality of climate change, actively ignoring the careful hedging which surrounds science's predictions? ... By 'sexing it up' we exacerbate...the very risks we are trying to ward off. The careless (or conspiratorial?) translation of concern about Saddam Hussein's putative military threat into the case for WMD has had major geopolitical repercussions. We need to make sure the agents in our society which would seek to amplify climate change risks do not lead us down a similar counter-productive pathway." ....

So far, very few in this country have questioned the 'facts' assembled by Sir Nicholas Stern . One of his fellow economists abroad has, however. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Bjorn Lomborg made the following observations. The cost of hurricanes in the US appears as both 0.13 per cent of GDP and also as 1.3 per cent in Stern's report. Stern declares that the "social cost" of carbon is $85 a ton. Yet one of the world's most distinguished environmental economists, Yale's William Nordhaus, praised in the Stern report as having the "approach closest in spirit to ours", insists that the social cost of carbon is $2.50 a ton. Stern tells us that the cost of flooding in the UK will quadruple from 0.1% to 0.4% of GDP. Yet the British Government's own figures, which take into account a small increase in flood prevention measures, say that the cost will decline sharply to 0.04% of GDP, despite climate change.

One of the more entertaining aspects of the current "climate catastrophe" caterwauling is that some of the scientists who are most alarmist - such as that brilliant writer James Lovelock-were thirty years ago warning that we were on the verge of a new Ice Age. One reason was that between 1945 and 1975 global temperatures fell. Between 1975 and 1998 global temperatures rose slightly - and set off a symmetrically divergent panic. Over the past eight years, global temperatures have been as close to stable as makes no difference. I can therefore understand Professor Hulme's agitation. He knows that the alarmists have based their scare tactics on a dramatic rise in temperatures across the world in the very near future. That won't happen. When that fact dawns on most people, they will begin to ignore all experts' warnings about the weather. Then, if a serious figure such as Professor Hulme discovers a genuine reason to panic, he will be dismissed as yet another Chicken Little, who thought that because an acorn landed on his head, the sky was falling in.

More here

Plan for another new dam in Australia

Given the water shortage, the Greens may not be game to screech about this one, though the Nimbys almost certainly will

Plans are under way to build a $342 million dam in NSW's Hunter Valley region as the long-running drought tightens its grip on the state. Premier Morris Iemma is expected to announce details soon about the dam, which will supply residents and businesses in Newcastle and the Central Coast areas. The dam was given the go-ahead after Hunter Water bought up grazing land on the Upper Williams River, near Dungog, the Nine Network reported.

News of the project came as NSW residents were warned to prepare for further food price hikes as new figures showed the drought affecting almost the entire state. The State Government figures showed that 93.6 per cent of NSW was now drought declared, compared to 89.3 per cent last month. NSW Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald labelled the latest figures disastrous, warning of steep increases in the cost of a range of foods including meat, vegetables, bread and milk.

With the four-year drought now one of the worst on record, there were no signs of conditions easing any time before mid-next year, he said. "There is no doubt that this drought over summer will come home to every family's dinner table in the Sydney basin," Mr Macdonald said. "Already, milk has been lifted by four cents a litre and I would anticipate that on the back of this drought we will see further increases. "Price rises are inevitable on the back of very low supply." Only 2.3 per cent of NSW is considered to be experiencing satisfactory conditions, with those areas confined to the far north coast.

Just 4.1 per cent of NSW is considered marginal, or on the brink of drought. Those areas are confined to the state's coastal regions including the mid-north coast, the Illawarra and Shoalhaven. Mr Macdonald said winter crop forecasts had been downgraded further and were expected to be 66 per cent less than in 2005. Meanwhile, dam capacity across the state stands about 26 per cent, compared to 54 per cent at the same time last year. "This is a terrible, disastrous situation for our farming community," Mr Macdonald said. "This drought is intensifying across the state."

About 100 millimetres of rainfall was needed across NSW to break the drought, but most areas west of the Great Dividing Range had only received five to 10 millimetres in October, he said. He defended the State Government's level of drought assistance, saying some programs would be supplemented "in the very near future". Mr Macdonald said the Government's $14 million boost to the drought assistance package last month along with an extension of the NSW Drought Hotline, would go some way to help struggling farming communities.



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

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

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


13 November, 2006


Yet global warming stopped at least 8 years ago!

Far from slowing down, global carbon dioxide emissions are rising faster than before, said a gathering of scientists in Beijing on Friday. Between 2000 and 2005, emissions grew four times faster than in the preceding 10 years, according to researchers at the Global Carbon Project, a consortium of international researchers. Global growth rates were 0.8% from 1990 to 1999. From 2000 to 2005, they reached 3.2%. Though alarming, the figures confirm expectations. "They make intuitive sense to me," says Jim Watson, deputy leader of the energy programme at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, UK.

One likely contributor is China, whose emissions slowed at end of the 1990s before rising again. China is now the world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US. On Tuesday, the International Energy Agency released a report predicting that it would become the world's top emitter by 2030 (see World faces 'dirty, insecure' energy future). Other growing developing countries, such as India and Brazil, are also fast becoming large emitters.

The US, meanwhile, is taking no nationwide action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme - created to help EU nations abide by their agreed Kyoto Protocol emissions limits - failed to do so in 2005, its first year of operation. It is unlikely to do so until its second phase of operation, which begins in 2008.

The Global Carbon Project report shows that carbon dioxide emissions over the last five years resembled one of the scenarios which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change uses to predict how the world will change with greenhouse gas emissions. The "A1B" scenario assumes that 50% of energy over the next century will come from fossil fuels, resulting in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations causing drastic climatic consequences. "On our current path, we will find it extremely difficult to rein in carbon emissions enough to stabilise the atmospheric CO2 concentration at 450 parts per million and even 550 ppm will be a challenge," says Josep Canadell, executive director of the Global Carbon Project. Research suggests that stabilising carbon dioxide concentrations at 450 ppm could limit global warming to 2řC.

The authors also highlight the importance of environmental inertia. This is the mechanism by which the environment stores up part of the energy of generated by greenhouse gas emissions, only releasing it to the atmosphere later on. As a result, even when human emissions do begin to drop, atmospheric carbon dioxide will continue to rise for up to a century. Global temperatures will continue to increase for two or more centuries. "This report shows how important it is for all countries to work towards more ambitious climate targets within the next phase of international action beyond 2012," says Watson. He adds: "Action to persuade the US and large developing countries such as China and India to work towards such an agreement is particularly crucial. So is the acceleration of technological co-operation initiatives to help developing countries - particularly China - to move to a lower carbon development pathway."



One of the devices used by the Stern Review (SR) to show that the costs of climate change might reach 20 percent of global GDP is its use of low or declining discount rates which it justifies, in part, on the notion of intergenerational equity (SR, p. 23).1 However, even if for the sake of argument one accepts the Stern Review’s claim that GDP (or GDP per capita) would be reduced by such an amount, the numbers provided in the Review and the analytical sources that it relies upon indicate that despite any climate change, future generations of both the developing and industrialized countries will be far better off than the present generations inhabiting these areas. That this is the case is shown in Table 1. Specifically, this table shows that under the richest-but warmest (A1FI) scenario, “net” annual GDP per capita in the “developing” world, after accounting for a 20 percent loss in welfare due to climate change, would be over $53,000 in 2100 compared to $875 in 1990 (the base year used in the IPCC scenarios).2 Under the poorest but-less-warm (A2) scenario, the net annual GDP per capita for developing countries in 2100 would be $9,500.

The Stern Review also suggests that per capita GDP losses due to climate change could total 35.2 percent in 2200 if one accounts for the risk of catastrophe, and market and non-market losses (SR, pp. 156 and 158). I will, for the sake of calculating a lower bound for the GDP per capita under climate change in 2100, assume that the losses would equal 40 percent in that year, that is, double the losses shown in Table 1. Even under this extreme assumption, the net GDP per capita for developing countries in 2100, ranging from $8,015 under the A2 scenario to $39,900 under the A1FI scenario, would substantially exceed the 1990 level of $875. Notably, under the A1FI scenario, the average inhabitant of the developing world would be better off in 2100 than the average person in the industrialized world was in 1990 even if climate change losses amount to 78 percent of GDP.



For non-literary people, Tim Worstall is alluding to "Sturm und Drang" (storm and stress) -- a well known period in German literature. It may also be explanatory to note here that "Stern" is an Ashkenazi name so means "Star" rather than what it seems to mean in English. Ashkenazi (German Jewish) surnames are often rather mocking when translated. "Kren", for instance, means "Horseradish" and "Finkelstein" means "Gemstone" etc.

The Stern Review is out and now that people have had a couple of days to digest the 600 or so pages of heavy verbiage and math, we're starting to see some commentary on how well it's been done. Leave aside the screaming newspaper headlines that shout that we all drowned yesterday and will boil tomorrow and the general reaction from those who know the subject is 'Hunh?'

The one group not complaining are the economists looking at what the Review recommends should be done if indeed matters are as bad as the Review claims. Increased investment in new technologies, the rapid diffusion of these around the world, either carbon taxes or a cap and trade system of permits to reduce emissions: these are indeed what most economists would say was the rational way to deal with such a series of problems.

The Review also makes the eminently sensible observation that there is no point in any one country trying to work alone. As the report is written from a UK point of view the truth that that country is responsible for only 2% of global emissions is shown, along with the fact that even if the UK could become zero carbon emitting overnight that is less than one year's increase in the emissions from China. Those who are already baying for higher taxes in the UK as a result of the Review do seem to have missed that little nugget: any solution has to be global and it has to include the developing nations: something which we might remember Kyoto entirely failed to do.

One possible criticism, a valid one to my mind, is that having told us all how we need this wonderful example of international cooperation to make the problems less awful, there's little there that tells us how to actually get that international cooperation. As we've also all seen not every country has signed onto Kyoto yet: and I don't just mean the industrialized countries: to make the new proposed system work everyone has to sign on, the poor as well as the rich.

My own, very much larger, objection, I'll come to in a minute, after a look at what some other people are saying. Nature, for example, reports that there are those who are not all that impressed: "Such criticisms come as no surprise to Mike Hulme, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Norwich, UK. Hulme says that the British government has asked him many times to conduct a study on the total cost of climate change. He declined, as he does not feel it's a question that researchers can answer. Difficulties in estimating the impact of strategies such as coastal defences are only part of the problem. When other assumptions, such as the economic cost of species extinctions, are included, Hulme feels that the uncertainties become so great that he would not be able to defend the end result."

He says that Stern's team seems to have done a good job, but with so many assumptions involved, and the review having been conducted by a political appointee: "This is not the last word of scientists and economists, it's the last word of civil servants."

The Tyndall Centre? The last time we saw them they were writing a report on climate change for Friends of the Earth so criticism from that angle must be unwelcome.

Richard Tol is also mentioned there at Nature and his critique is up at the blog of Roger Pielke Jr, Prometheus. It's a list, among other things, of where he thinks the Stern Review has gone cherry picking. All numbers and values are taken from the most extreme ones in the literature. There's more on that blog as well along the same lines on things like damage from extreme weather events.

Environmental Economics really cannot believe the numbers that the Review comes up with. They appear so out of line with others reported that he's sure that something very strange is being done to get to them. Adam Smithee explains at least part of it: the use of extremely low discount rates. (Note: the discount rate used is extremely important. A high discount rate means that spending now to save in the future means that such spending is very hard to justify. Stern uses a very low discount rate, much lower than almost anyone else has even proposed.) Wat Tyler takes a more cynical view based upon his, well, cynical view of the way in which the British State works (or if you prefer, his robust view of public choice economics).

Perhaps the most surprising point made is from William Connelly who is actually a code cruncher on the climate change models (and how he will be alarmed at being quoted here):

Before I get back to that, I notice "If the Greenland or West Antarctic Ice Sheets began to melt irreversibly, the rate of sea level rise could more than double, committing the world to an eventual sea level rise of 5 - 12 m over several centuries.". Errrm... centuries? Current SRL is 2-3 mm/yr, ie 20-30 cm/century. Double that to 40-60 and you're a fair few centuries into the future before you hit 5m, let alone 12. SRL is the "great white hope" of impacts, since its unequivocally bad (at least I've never seen anyone assert it to be a good). 5m is SRL in a millennium might well cause problems, true, but I'm not really happy looking that far ahead - tech could do anything by then.

Even climate researchers aren't all that impressed with trying to predict out that far into the future. As an analogy, think back into history. Should the Northern Europeans not have started to use the horse collar, thus allowing them to plough the heavy soils, because 1,000 years later there's so many of us that CO2 levels are rising?

As you can see people aren't arguing about what should be done if the Review's predictions are correct. They're actually arguing about whether the Review is correct or not which is really a much larger problem for its supporters. Because I really don't think that the Review is indeed correct, either in its predictions for future temperature rises nor in the logic that it uses to urge us into mitigating actions.



An interview with eminent climate economist Richard Tol on climate alarmism and the right strategies for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Translated roughly from the German. It displays a German level of credulity (they believed Hitler too) about the overall GW phenomenon but nonetheless points out important policy doubts:

WiWo: Mr. Tol, You have called the report on the financial consequences of climatic change by economics professor Sir Nicholas Stern a "alarmist". How did you arrive at this judgement?

Tol: I speak of alarmism because Stern, in the summary of his report, estimated the damage [from climate change] to cost between 5 to 20 per cent of global GDP, but he is basing this on extremely pessimistic scenarios. He ignored other studies that estimate damages to be far below one per cent. This is how he arrives at the scary numbers. At the same time, the summary also gives the impression that the five per cent [of GDP damage] commences immediately and will continue for eternity if noting is done to counter it immediately. In the unabridged version, however, it is stated that the five per cent will be reached in 2075 at the earliest. This procedure is temerarious and an unacceptable way of political advice-giving.

WiWo: Now that the ice caps of the poles melt faster than even the leading sceptics have feared, isn't it essential to ring the alarm bells?

Tol: First of all, the report does not review these developments at all, and secondly any alarm does not help. It will take 50 to 100 years to lower the emission of greenhouse gases to an agreeable level. In order to achieve this goal, soberness is demanded.

WiWo: Why did Nicholas Stern sound the alarm nevertheless? He was the chief economist at the World Bank and is generally considered to be a sober person.

Tol: At the outset, the study was a purely academic exercise. Then the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, who commissioned the Stern Review, discerned that the leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, put the Labour Party increasingly under environmental pressure by portraying himself as greener than the government. In order to raise its [environmental] profile, the government thus strongly influenced the tenor of the study.

WiWo: The fact that the earth is warming up due to human behaviour is scientifically beyond doubt. Isn't it then sensible to forcefully steer against it, as Nicholas Stern suggests?

Tol: We must do something and should begin now, that's where I agree with Stern. But there is no risk of damage that would force us to act injudiciously. We've got enough time to look for the economically most effective options rather than dash into 'actionism' which then becomes very expensive.

WiWo: Stern calculates that a forceful fight against global warming is today twenty times cheaper than doing nothing.

Tol: That is completely exaggerated. Stern has set the costs of damage much too high and the costs of emission reduction much too low. This employment of incorrect numbers makes it easy for opponents of climatic protection to evade accepting consent. They correctly assert: What the Stern Review claims is rubbish. You can only have an effective climate policy if everyone takes part. We need a long-term solution, and it has to be global one. The Stern Review perturbs this agreement process to the extent that it performs a disservice to the goals of climate protection.

WiWo: How seriously, according to your estimates, are the economic consequences of global warming?

Tol: The situation is serious, but definitely not as serious as Stern claims. According to my computations the greenhouse effect can cause annual damage of around 0.5 per cent of global GDP. In the next century, when the impact of global warming will be felt fully, the damage could amount to two to four per cent, if nothing would be done about it.

WiWo: What do you suggest as counter measure?

Tol: The means of my choice would be to raise world-wide taxes on emissions. But that is politically not feasible. Thus, emission trading remains as the second best solution. The state allocates certificates to businesses which - at the outset - permit them free emissions of carbon dioxide, as they do it today, and without setting secondary costs. However, if they want to produce more, they must either produce more [energy] efficiently or buy from other businesses (which have reduced their carbon dioxide output) certificates at a kind stock exchange. Such a free market system helps the environment.

WiWo: In Europe, such a regulatory system has been in place since last year. Nevertheless, it hasn't had much of an effect.

Tol: That is because of the fact that too many certificates were allocated. Consequently, little money can be made from the sales of certificates at the moment. Thus there are no incentives for lowering CO2-emissions. In order to have any lasting effect, the certificate trade would have to incorporate traffic, households and agriculture, additional greenhouse gases and the whole world economy. Europe alone cannot save the climate.

WiWo: Why should China and India, whose industries still produce a great deal with outdated technologies, join in the certificate trade?

WiWo: It is exactly this outdated technology that makes it possible for China and India to achieve large CO2 reductions by way of relatively small investments. They could sell the emissions they reduce to Europe or the USA and could thus make a lot of money.

WiWo: The United Nations is currently trying to agree a new international climate treaty. How promising are such agreements?

WiWo: They don't accomplish much as the Kyoto Treaty has already revealed. Only few countries committed themselves to concrete goals at all, only few uphold their obligations, and some, like Canada recently, simply pull out again. And why not - there is no threat of sanctions!

WiWo: Does that mean that 6000 UN delegates in Nairobi are gathering for a useless chit-chat?

Tol: They should concentrate on organising an international trade with certificates and close co-operation regarding the introduction of low-carbon technologies. Unfortunately neither issue is on the agenda. In fact, according to our calculations, world-wide greenhouse gas emissions could be halved in one fell swoop if the world would employ the best available technologies.

WiWo: Isn't it rather uptopian to believe that all the countries in the world would agree on uniform technical standards?

Tol: It would often be sufficient if a few market-dominating countries made advances in this direction. All the cars of this world, for example, are manufactured in just ten countries. If these countries would agree to reduce pollution output per HP by half in say ten years, that would relieve the environment enormously. The rest of the world would have no choice than to join in. Something similar applies to power stations, for which even fewer countries possess the technology. A bulk of problems would be solved if we succeeded to decouple energy consumption and emission output by means of modern technologies.

WiWo: Should the governments subsidise certain technologies financially?

Tol: We should certainly prevent civil servants to determine what is good or bad in this respect. Policy should be limited to determine certain goals, just like California, for instance, did with regards to car emissions. This would accelerate research and development most effectively.

WiWo: The German government subsidizes renewable energies such as wind and sun. Wouldn't a rapid expansion of nuclear energy protect global climate substantially better?

Tol: The huge amount of money that is flowing into wind energy in Germany is an off-putting example of what happens when governments select the technology. The people who are now earning very well on account of wind turbines had close relations with the formerly Green [Party-run] Department of the Environment. Much money is flowing although wind energy is very unreliable and will never provide more than ten per cent of the total energy requirement. In addition, wind energy is expensive and technical progress already today seems to be exhausted to a large extent. Nuclear power can be a solution. In any case, it is more reliable and, most likely, also cheaper in the long term.

WiWo: Some experts believe that it costs less to adapt to climate change instead of stopping it. Are they right?

Tol: We should do both. In order to prevent that rising sea levels flood coastal areas, the building of dykes is an inexpensive solution. But we should not let global warming proceed unconstrained, otherwise we risk that one day the water in the oceans evaporates.

WiWo: Next year, the IPCC, the scientific committee of the UN in charge of assessing climate change, will issue its next report. Is there sufficient economic expertise readily available in the IPCC?

Tol: Unfortunately not at all. Over the years, the IPCC has become ever greener and the few economists, who were previously involved have been pushed out. Obviously, this casts doubt on the quality of the results.

WiWo: On a personal note, how confident are you that the climate can be still salvaged?

Tol: I do not see any reason to panic. We've got enough time to act in response. And, it would appear that the Americans and Chinese, the two biggest climate sinners, will soon more invest much more in modes of climatic protection. The results of the American elections will strengthen climate activists in the USA so that I envisage new concrete climate programmes in the next three years. The Chinese will follow suit in the next decade, not least because otherwise they will be threatened by catastrophic environmental damage. That will generate a huge drive.



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

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

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


12 November, 2006

Green Republicans lead GOP losses

Green Republicans who have supported higher energy prices and opposed protecting property rights suffered major losses in House and Senate elections, according to an initial analysis by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. There were also setbacks for consumers and private property owners in the mid-term elections. The biggest loss was the defeat of Representative Richard Pombo (Calif.) of California, Chairman of the House Resources Committee. Pombo had been the number one target of several environmental political action committees in this election.

In the Senate, green Republicans Lincoln Chafee (R.I.) and Mike DeWine (Ohio) were sent packing by voters. In the House, notable green Republicans who were defeated include Representatives Charles Bass (N.H.), Jeb Bradley (N.H.), Nancy Johnson (Conn.), and Jim Leach (Iowa). The re-election race of another green Republican, Rep. Rob Simmons (Conn.), was still undecided as of Wednesday morning. “Although many green Republicans, such as Senator Chafee stressed their environmental records, it didn’t seem to do them much good,” said Myron Ebell, CEI Director of Energy and Global Warming Policy. “It is also worth noting that groups such as the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club didn’t spend any money to support their Republican allies in Congress.

“Rep. Richard Pombo’s defeat was clearly the biggest loss for those of us who support protecting property rights, reforming the Endangered Species Act, and lowering energy prices by increasing domestic energy production,” Ebell continued. “Although the environmental and energy agenda will now be set by Democrats in the House, the ideological makeup of the House and the Senate on these issues has not changed as much as the magnitude of Republican losses would suggest,” said Ebell. “Green Republicans were replaced by green Democrats, while conservative Republicans were mostly replaced by moderate Democrats,” Ebell said. “This means, most notably, that the prospects for enacting global warming legislation in the next Congress have not been significantly increased.”



Nicolas Copernicus was condemned for suggesting that the sun, rather than the earth, was the center of our universe. The Catholic Church feared such knowledge could undermine the belief that Man was God's most important creation, and ultimately, undermine Church authority. Giordano Bruno was persecuted and ultimately burned at the stake for arguing that space extended beyond our solar system. Again, the Church feared such knowledge would undermine its teachings and authority.

William Harvey was ridiculed by leading medical authorities of his day for suggesting that the heart was the center of the body's circulatory system. His critics knew this would mean the liver had no role in blood production and feared that such knowledge could undermine accepted therapeutics of the era, including bloodletting. (After all, if the same blood re-circulated throughout the body, the old rules about the correct placement of leeches would no longer apply.) Copernicus, Bruno and Harvey were persecuted out of fear. Each ultimately was proven to be correct.

Today Senators Olympia Snowe and John Rockefeller IV are engaging in persecution of their own, attempting to silence dissenting voices. Just what do they fear? Perhaps they fear the solutions they prescribe will eventually be revealed to be the modern day equivalent of applying leeches.

On October 27, Senators John (Jay) Rockefeller IV and Olympia Snowe sent a letter to ExxonMobil Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rex W. Tillerson demanding that the company cease funding for two dozen or so organizations and individuals they call a "small cadre of global climate change skeptics." Although it is unclear which organizations Snowe and Rockefeller are seeking to defund, one thing is clear: This is an attempt to muzzle groups and individuals with whom the Senators disagree. It is an attempt to stifle free speech and, as such, should be condemned by Americans of all political persuasions - both left and right.

The Senators' letter is fundamentally inconsistent with both the process of scientific method and rational public policy formulation. Scientific method isn't about winning popularity contests. It's also not about being with the majority opinion. It isn't supposed be determined by politics. It is about attempting to limit bias or prejudice in the results. Unfortunately, by attempting to cut off some of the funding for those who contribute to the diversity of both the scientific and public policy debate, Senators Snowe and Rockefeller are attempting to bias the results.

They will fail, however, because funding from energy companies is not what is fueling the vigorous climate change debate. What is fueling the debate is a genuine, sincere difference of opinion. People of integrity will not change their views because Senators Rockefeller and Snowe or anyone else demands it. People of integrity will not change their views because their funding is threatened - or even cut off. People of integrity will not change their views because it is asserted that the "scientific debate is over." They won't even do so when they are equated with holocaust deniers. People of integrity will only change their views when they are convinced by the evidence.



We have a new paper accepted in Geophysical Research Letters by T. N. Chase, K. Wolter, R.A. Pielke Sr., and Ichtiaque Rasool entitled "Was the 2003 European summer heat wave unusual in a global context?" This heat wave has been attributed to human caused global warming (e.g. see and see). Our paper finds that this conclusion is not supported by an assessment of the global climate data. The abstract reads,

"We place the European summer heat wave of 2003 in the context of other extreme temperature events since 1979 in terms of standard deviations (SD) exceeded and correlations between regional extremes and temperatures at larger spatial scales. As previously reported the heat wave was statistically unusual and was a deep tropospheric phenomenon. We find additionally that: 1) extreme warm and cold anomalies both occur regularly and occasionally exceed the magnitude of the 2003 warm anomaly. 2) There is a correlation between global and hemispheric average temperature and the presence of warm or cold regional anomalies of the same sign. 3) Natural variability in the form of El Nino and volcanic eruptions appear to be of much greater importance in causing extreme regional temperature anomalies than a simple upward trend in time. 4) Regression analyses do not support the idea that regional heat waves are increasing with time."

As we state in our conclusion, "We compared extreme tropospheric temperature events from 22oN to 80oN in JJA and globally using annual averages to the European summer heat wave of 2003 in terms of standard deviations exceeded and correlations between regional extremes and temperatures at larger spatial scales. As pointed out previously by Schaar et al. (2004) and Beniston (2004) the European warm anomaly during the summer of 2003 at 3.0 standard deviations was statistically unusual and was a deep tropospheric phenomenon....." However, we find that using the observed atmospheric data that, "Regression analyses do not provide strong support for the idea that regional heat or cold waves are significantly increasing or decreasing with time during the period considered here (1979-2003)."

We caveat our findings in that: "As with all analyses based on short time series, the above conclusions should be viewed with caution. However, our analysis does not support the contention that similar anomalies as seen in summer 2003 are unlikely to recur without invoking a non-stationary statistical regime (Schar et al., 2004; Beniston, 2004) with a higher average temperature and increased variability." The answer to our question, based on the time period that we had available to analyze, "was the 2003 European summer heat wave unusual in a global context?" is NO.

(From Roger Pielke)

EU carbon trade charade

More than 50 European economists and the Worldwide Fund for Nature have warned that European Union governments risk undermining the bloc's innovative emissions trading scheme by handing out too many permits to pollute. The trading system, under which industrial polluters can buy and sell emissions quotas, is supposed to be the cornerstone of the EU's efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.

But the credibility of the scheme, which is still in its infancy, has taken a beating recently because member states are allotting more licences to pollute than industrial plants need. "Our analysis shows that the allocations proposed at present are too lax, so they will not create adequate incentives either to cut back emissions or to fund investment that helps developing country emission reductions," said Cambridge University professor Michael Grubb.

The European Commission found most of the EU member states that have filed their allocation plans for the 2008-2012 period have again handed out more emissions quotas than polluters could use, as they did last year. The EU's executive arm has already taken the first step towards legal action against eight of the bloc's 25 members -- Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain -- for ignoring the June deadline to submit their national allocation plans. The commission is due to rule on the national allocation plans later this month and could reject those it considers too lax. "The commission cannot allow the credibility of this crucial and innovative policy instrument to be undermined," EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said. "We will have to be tough in our assessment of the national plans."

And Worldwide Fund for Nature climate change expert Stephan Singer said: "It is vital that bad national allocation plans are rejected for the EU to maintain a high standing in the fight against climate change." A statement signed by the European economists and Mr Dimas said governments needed to respect the basic economic principle of scarcity of supply for the system to work. "Emission trading creates a price and therefore a cost to CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions. When smartly constructed, this policy instrument provides clear incentives for changes in business practices and technology investments," the statement says. "However, fundamental to the functioning of ETS (emissions trading scheme) is for the market to deliver a meaningful price for carbon. "This requires scarcity in supply which must be presented by emissions caps set at a level that represents a significant departure from business-as-usual practices."

Climate change has recently climbed high on the international political agenda in the wake of a report from former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern warning of looming environmental catastrophe and a key UN climate conference in Nairobi. Even before that, the EU's trading system was under close scrutiny abroad. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, for one, is interested in setting up a similar market in the US, along with a handful of east coast states. The US has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the UN treaty that requires the industrialised nations to curb their emissions of the gases blamed for global warming. The target is to bring national emissions down to about 5 per cent below their 1990 levels by a deadline of 2008-2012.

In Brussels for talks with Mr Dimas, Professor Stern said the success of the EU emissions trading scheme "will make it much easier over the near future to bring other countries like China and India into the carbon trade". The British economist insisted the smooth functioning of the emissions market would be vital in promoting new carbon-reducing technologies. "What the emission trading scheme does is to establish a price for carbon so there's an incentive for technologies that are low on carbon to come through," Professor Stern said. "That incentive is absolutely vital."



The Murray-Darling basin is in the midst of a long-term drought similar to that experienced at Federation - not the worst in 1000 years. River and climate experts disagree with the one-in-1000-years call by South Australian Premier Mike Rann this week. Murray-Darling Basin Commission general manager David Dreverman told the water summit hosted by John Howard on Tuesday that the inflow into the Murray last month was so low as to be classed as a one-in-1000-year event.

National Climate Centre meteorologist Blair Trewin said the current drought was "in a similar ball park to the Federation drought" of 1895-1903. He said 2006, as an individual drought year, was the second-lowest year for rainfall in the basin. "One of the things that intrigues me is that by and large 1914 was a worse year for rainfall than 2006, but the inflows are lower this year," Dr Trewin said. The low inflows could be due to more farm dams, increased use of groundwater, tree plantations and even regeneration after bushfire.

Water Co-operative Research Centre chief executive Gary Jones said drought was part of the natural cycle of the river. "But this is a pretty big drought and we do have to expect there will be some die-offs," Professor Jones said. He said wetlands and billabongs were important drought refuges for native fish, plants and animals, and there would be severe consequences if, as the Prime Minister suggested at the summit, they were drained. "If it gets to the point where people are desperate for drinking water, of course we are going to give them the drinking water, but we have to understand the consequences," he said.

Droughts earlier this century regularly stopped the Murray River flowing, with current flows only sustained by modern management and a network of water storages. Murray-Darling Basin Commission water resources manager Andrew Close said if the Murray still had its natural flow, it would have probably stopped flowing this year, as it did in 1914, 1915 and 1923, while the Darling River dries up more frequently. "It stopped all three of those times in Swan Hill," he said. "It would have stopped in 82-83 and probably would have stopped this year." Between 1885 and 1960, the Darling River stopped flowing at Menindee 48 times. In 1902-03, during the Federation drought, it stopped flowing for 364 days.

The summit commissioned the CSIRO to look at the contentious issue of sustainable yield. Professor Jones personally believes two-thirds of the natural flow should be maintained. "Once you start to get below two-thirds, you are really getting significant stress, and at one-third you are into severe stress," he said. Under the current water allocations in the Murray, in an average year the river's mouth gets 27per cent of its natural flow. The mouth has only been kept open for the past five years by constant dredging. More than 90 major storages have been built along the Murray. They hold back water when it naturally flows in later winter and spring, and release it in summer and autumn when it is required by irrigators, and year-round for towns.

Basin commission chief executive Wendy Craik said the Murray had record low inflows this year. "The long-term average inflow into the Murray is about 11,200 gigalitres. The last decade, inflows have been averaging about 4500-5000GL. Our previous minimum-inflow year to date was 1000GL and this year, it has been 550GL." More than 4000GL are licensed for irrigation, but only half will have water this year.

A member of the Wentworth Group of concerned scientists, Peter Cullen, argues it could be a return to the 1900 to 1950s period "which was significantly drier than the 1950s to the 1990s". Professor Cullen said he preferred to call it a drying climate, rather than a drought. "As soon as you talk drought, they say it is going to break, and I think Australia has got to get used to using less water."



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

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

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


11 November, 2006

Give us this day our daily organic loaf and forgive us our cheap flights

O YE OF LITTLE faith, who still doubt that greenery is our official pseudoreligion, or that “C of E” should now stand for the Church of the Environment! Look ye upon the results of this week’s Times/Populus poll, surveying Britons’ exaggerated claims about our ecofriendly habits, and weep! The poll found a gaping “green divide” between what people say they do to save energy, and what really happens in Britain today. So 65 per cent claim only ever to buy those dim energy-saving lightbulbs — yet these account for less than 20 per cent of bulbs sold; 76 per cent say they recycle everything possible, yet only 22 per cent of British household waste is recycled. It was a similar story with everything from flying to leaving the TV on standby.

Here we have a set of pious beliefs observed more in the breach than the observance. Remind you of anything? As with other religions, in between the sermons and prayers, believers have to get on with real life; even many Catholics use birth control these days. Thus do people feel obliged to repeat the green catechism, yet still eschew the bus and grab cheap flights. They consume, but weighed down with guilt as well as shopping bags, and a feeling that they should atone perhaps by paying extra to plant a tree.

The eco-religion has as many rituals as the old faiths, only more fashionably look-at-me. Not for the green faithful the privacy of the confessional box or the pew; we are supposed to show off our piety in the recycling box or the organic produce aisle.

What’s more, it is a state religion, backed by all parties in our eco-theocracy, soon to be able to charge a modern tithe through new green taxes. No wonder leaders of the old C of E are attracted to the new one, where calling on us to repent in the name of global warming gives them a rare moral authority. Thus the Archbishop of Canterbury has cautioned that “millions, billions” will die from climate change and a bishop told last weekend’s demo on climate change that global warming is caused by humanity playing God. For that he got a cheer from the secular zealots of the new crusade.

Unlike the old faiths, the new pseudoreligion does not even offer us the prospect of salvation in the next life. Just a miserable existence in this one, while we wait for the four horse-persons of the eco-apocalypse — pestilence, war, famine and death by boredom.



Somewhat mysteriously, the rise in atmospheric methane levels has ceased

Worry over the effects of fossil-fuel carbon dioxide in the air has become a familiar theme in public discourse about climate change. But news accounts (and movies by former Vice Presidents) that focus exclusively on CO2 in discussing global warming neglect an inconvenient truth: Other gaseous emissions add substantially to the atmosphere's ability to trap heat. In particular, methane (CH4) produces a climate forcing that is more than a third of that produced by carbon dioxide. The concentrations of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have both risen dramatically since the start of the industrial revolution, but unlike its more familiar greenhouse-gas cousin, atmospheric methane has recently stopped increasing in abundance.

This happy development wasn't entirely unanticipated, given that the rate of increase has been slowing for at least a quarter-century. Yet the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicated many of its conclusions on scenarios in which methane concentrations would continue growing for decades to come. Thus the recent stabilization of methane levels is something that some scientists are trying very hard to explain.

Edward J. Dlugokencky, an atmospheric chemist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has tracked atmospheric methane for many years. He says that "even as the reduction was happening, people doing emission scenarios weren't accounting for it." Dlugokencky maintains that the evolution of methane levels in the atmosphere mostly just reflects the attainment of a chemical equilibrium, such that methane production is balanced by its destruction. In sum, he says, atmospheric methane "looks like a system approaching steady state."

Methane has many sources. Some are natural; others are clearly the consequences of modern society. Natural sources include wetlands and also terrestrial plants, which earlier this year were discovered to give off methane. Sources tied to human activities include fossil-fuel production, landfills, ruminant animals, rice agriculture and wastewater treatment. Methane is destroyed principally by its reaction with the hydroxyl radical (OH) in the lower atmosphere.

Given that people have been extracting fossil fuels from the earth, dumping their garbage in landfills, cattle ranching, growing rice and treating sewage in ever-increasing amounts, it is indeed hard to understand why atmospheric methane levels are not going up and up. One hint might come from the recent discovery that land plants constitute a significant source of methane (though one that is poorly quantified at the moment). Frank Keppler of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany, and three colleagues reported this surprising result in Nature last January. In that paper, they note that "severe anthropogenic deforestation has considerably reduced tropical biomass over the past decades," suggesting that this "reduced biomass has probably contributed to the recent decrease in the atmospheric growth rate of CH4 concentration." That is to say, cutting down rain forest might have reduced the atmospheric methane burden.

Another possible explanation comes from work published in June in Geophysical Research Letters. Arlene M. Fiore of NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Dlugokencky and two colleagues report the results of their efforts to simulate in detail the evolution of methane concentration using a sophisticated numerical model of the atmosphere. That paper, titled "Impact of meteorology and emissions on methane trends, 1990-2004," suggests that changes in the weather may have played a key role in what Fiore regards as an anomalously abrupt flattening of the methane curve. In particular, an increase in the prevalence of tropical thunderstorms may have raised the amounts of the various nitrogen oxides (gases often referred to collectively as "NO x ") high in the atmosphere. There NO x has the side effect of boosting the production of OH, which in turn acts to destroy methane. Rising temperatures over this interval contribute to the elimination of methane as well, but to a lesser extent.

Fiore admits that "there's huge uncertainty" in her estimates of the size of these effects and that other explanations are certainly possible. She suggests, for example, that anthropogenic sources of NO x may also have increased-or perhaps that the distribution of these pollutant gases has shifted toward the equator as low-latitude nations industrialize. (These gases are that much more likely to foster the destruction of methane there, because that process depends on the amount of incoming solar radiation, which is greatest at low latitudes.)

M. Aslam Khalil, a physicist at Portland State University in Oregon, helped establish a sampling network for methane as long ago as 1979. He, like Dlugokencky, believes that the recent stasis in methane levels fundamentally represents the system coming to equilibrium. Khalil suspects that there have been no significant changes in the overall magnitude of emissions, but he does recognize that some of the individual sources must have become larger over the past few decades. The explanation for the enigmatic stabilization of methane levels, in his view, is that at least one of the other sources-rice agriculture in particular-has simultaneously become much smaller.

In a paper soon to be published in Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture: An Update (Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture), Khalil and his Portland State colleague Martha J. Shearer point out that China has produced much of the world's rice for many decades, yet for the past 30 years, the area devoted to rice agriculture in that country has fallen from about 37 million hectares to a little more than 27 million. Khalil and Shearer further note that in these rice paddies nitrogen-based fertilizer has to a large extent replaced animal manure or "night soil" (human wastes). This change in how rice is grown in China reduces the amount of methane given off. What is more, these rice farmers are using less water than they did before-another change in agricultural practice that has the unintended side benefit of reducing methane emissions.

Clearly, it will be some time before atmospheric scientists are able to quantify with great certainty the changing sizes of the various sources of methane. But as Khahil says, it's important to get at least a crude handle on what is going on for the purpose of shaping policy: "You don't want to try to control something that's already going down."



China has seen a massive increase in greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade despite ratifying the Kyoto Protocol - and the situation will only worsen as coal remains its main energy source. The nation is the world's second-largest emitter of climate change gases after the United States and the world's largest coal burner. But as a developing country it is not obliged to reduce emissions under the protocol.

About 70 percent of China's energy comes from burning the fossil fuel and with hundreds more coal-fired power plants being built - often with old, heavy-polluting technology - the situation is only going to deteriorate. China last year built 117 government-approved coal-fired power plants - a rate of roughly one every three days, according to official figures.

But even the central government conceded the real number was much higher, with local and provincial governments building many unauthorised coal plants in an effort to ensure economic growth steamed ahead. A report issued by the International Energy Agency in July said that every two years China was adding new electricity capacity equivalent to that of the total annual output of France or Canada.



The economic predictions of the Stern Report into climate change would increasingly be questioned, Prime Minister John Howard said today. "I think as time goes by, some of the economic underpinnings of the Stern review are going to be continually and increasingly questioned," Mr Howard said.

Mr Howard has long been critical of some of the harsher assessments of global warming. He has previously warned against people being mesmerised by the British government-funded Stern Report. Among the report's dire economic warnings on climate change is that global warming could cost as much as the world wars and the Great Depression. Sir Nicholas Stern's report also warns the worst outcome of climate change could result in global consumption falling by 20 per cent.

Mr Howard described the review as "another report". "We should not get mesmerised by one report," Mr Howard said. "But I do accept that we need to take steps, take out insurance, be certain that we do reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

However, Mr Howard maintained his support of Australia's large coal industry. "I'm certainly not going to target the coal industry ... because that would do great damage to the economy of this country," he said. "One thing I am frozen in time about and that is a determination to protect the industries of this country that give us a natural competitive advantage."



It used to be that carrying coals to Newcastle was considered the height of idiocy, a wasted effort without the hope of a financial return. The new height of idiocy is to stop coal going from Newcastle.

The backbone of NSW's second-largest city - a Labor town built on the steel of the BHP mills and the coal from the Hunter Valley - is still coal, despite all the changes the valley has been through. It is also the undeniable backbone of Australia's domestic energy needs for decades to come and will continue to supply the bulk of the world's energy until 2050. And this is not the pipedream of a fossil industry but the conclusion of the British Stern report, which urges economic changes to fight greenhouse gas emissions. We can't do without coal; we have to learn to live with it.

To try to kill off the $9 billion coal industry in NSW and the exports shipped from Newcastle is to condemn the city and thousands of workers and businesses. Yet this week, in the grip of greenhouse hysteria, the Newcastle City Council, at the behest of Greens councillors and supported by Labor councillors, determined that Newcastle's coal shipments should be limited. The motion said the council recommended "the NSW Government establishes a cap on coal exports from Newcastle at existing levels" and "initiates a moratorium on new coalmines at Anvil Hill and elsewhere in the Hunter Valley and Gunnedah Basin". It went one further by backing calls from conservation groups to shut down the coal industry, and called for the industry "to fund the just transition to sustainability in the Hunter beyond coal". That is, levy the coal industry to fund its own closure and find jobs for the displaced workers. "Just transition" is greenhouse-friendly code for sack workers.

Not surprisingly, local federal MP Joel Fitzgibbon, a Labor frontbencher and former resources spokesman, went ballistic: "Extreme environmentalists are launching a jihad against the industry in an attempt to close it down, and the community must be told the other side of the story," he said. "We must strive to increase the share of electricity produced by renewable technologies, burn our coal more cleanly and efficiently and tighten environmental safeguards. But killing King Coal would be a disaster for the valley."

The heresy committed in Fitzgibbon's electorate allowed him to publicly vent feelings about anti-coal campaigns being conducted by conservationists in the name of fighting greenhouse gas emissions. There is trepidation in the ranks of Kim Beazley's supporters about the ALP being swept along in the emotional surge of anti-coal feeling.

Endorsed federal Labor candidate and potential ALP leader Bill Shorten and Victorian state Labor candidate Evan Thornley both suffered collateral damage this week because of their links with the GetUp campaign. As the national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, Shorten was defending the pay and conditions of the unsung heroes of the Melbourne Cup, the jockeys, but at the same time GetUp, of which he and Thornley are board members, was calling for an end to the coal industry and a "just transition". Both rapidly distanced themselves from any suggestion they supported the closure of the coal industry.

Beazley also made it clear yesterday that the future of Australia's baseload electricity power would come from coal and that he was backing the coal industry: a clean coal industry. The Opposition Leader was emphatic about the Newcastle council's ban: "That's not the right answer. The right answer is to go down the road of active measures for clean coal technology. We've got to become the world experts at clean coal technology and, as we export coal, we need to export those technologies with it, make sure we can survive economically and also survive environmentally."

Beazley is right: it's a mixture of surviving economically and environmentally. But there has been too much emphasis from Labor on the potential effects of greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power stations. Certainly there is a clear political differentiation between the Howard Government and Labor over the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and entering a carbon emissions trading scheme that makes coal more expensive. But Labor has to be careful not to be seen as embracing unreal emotional claptrap that threatens the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Australian workers. Labor's industrial relations campaign and its position on Iraq have rebuilt the ALP base and secured it a steady spot above the crucial 40per cent of the primary vote in opinion polls, but it cannot afford to alienate that base in pursuit of a new campaign to pick up concerned green Liberals in leafy suburbs and keep faith with the progressive Labor Left.

Howard's response on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions has been ad hoc and sloppy. Some sort of an emissions trading scheme is inevitable, yet the Coalition is poorly placed to deal with the politics. However, don't dismiss the prospect of Howard preparing an important statement on greenhouse emissions and climate change before Christmas in which he sets out a more coherent agenda that is unapologetically worker friendly. Howard learned in 2004 that playing cat and mouse with Mark Latham over the Tasmanian forest issue worked in his favour in two ways: first, Latham went too green too early, and second, the reverberations of defending jobs went far beyond Tasmania. Putting forward practical steps to address greenhouse emissions and protecting jobs is a political winner.

The anti-coal brigade is already damaging Labor by association and creating internal tensions, and the next frontier of forests is yet to be reached. Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation Minister Eric Abetz started the forest fire in the Senate this week when he pointed out that plantation forests cut carbon emissions and offset greenhouse gas emissions from industry. Conservation groups have also pointed to a forgotten aspect of the Stern report, which urges a halt to deforestation and highlights the positive aspects of planting trees and using wood instead of other materials in building.

Howard was surprised last week in the face of Senate committee evidence that in 2002-03 electricity generation emitted 160 megatonnes of greenhouse gases while in just three weeks bushfires released 130 megatonnes. Old-growth forest management, logging state forests, plantation timber and pulping are the next frontiers in the greenhouse war. Howard has been slow to enter the fray but Labor has more to lose if the realisation dawns before the election that there are drastic and unjustified changes being proposed in the name of greenhouse panic.



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

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

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


10 November, 2006


(From CO2 Science Magazine, 8 November 2006)

Discussing: Wingham, D.J., Shepherd, A., Muir, A. and Marshall, G.J. 2006. Mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 364: 1627-1635.

What was done

The authors "analyzed 1.2 x 108 European remote sensing satellite altimeter echoes to determine the changes in volume of the Antarctic ice sheet from 1992 to 2003." This survey, in their words, "covers 85% of the East Antarctic ice sheet and 51% of the West Antarctic ice sheet," which together comprise "72% of the grounded ice sheet.""

What was learned

Wingham et al. report that "overall, the data, corrected for isostatic rebound, show the ice sheet growing at 5 ± 1 mm year^-1." To calculate the ice sheet's change in mass, however, "requires knowledge of the density at which the volume changes have occurred," and when the researchers' best estimates of regional differences in this parameter are used, they find that "72% of the Antarctic ice sheet is gaining 27 ± 29 Gt year^-1, a sink of ocean mass sufficient to lower [authors' italics] global sea levels by 0.08 mm year^-1." This net extraction of water from the global ocean, according to Wingham et al., occurs because "mass gains from accumulating snow, particularly on the Antarctic Peninsula and within East Antarctica, exceed the ice dynamic mass loss from West Antarctica."

What it means

Contrary to all the horror stories one hears about global warming-induced mass wastage of the Antarctic ice sheet leading to rising sea levels that gobble up coastal lowlands worldwide, the most recent decade of pertinent real-world data suggest that forces leading to just the opposite effect are apparently prevailing, even in the face of what climate alarmists typically describe as the greatest warming of the world in the past two millennia or more.

Journal abstract follows:

The Antarctic contribution to sea-level rise has long been uncertain. While regional variability in ice dynamics has been revealed, a picture of mass changes throughout the continental ice sheet is lacking. Here, we use satellite radar altimetry to measure the elevation change of 72% of the grounded ice sheet during the period 1992–2003. Depending on the density of the snow giving rise to the observed elevation fluctuations, the ice sheet mass trend falls in the range ?5–+85Gtyr?1. We find that data from climate model reanalyses are not able to characterise the contemporary snowfall fluctuation with useful accuracy and our best estimate of the overall mass trend—growth of 27±29Gtyr?1—is based on an assessment of the expected snowfall variability. Mass gains from accumulating snow, particularly on the Antarctic Peninsula and within East Antarctica, exceed the ice dynamic mass loss from West Antarctica. The result exacerbates the difficulty of explaining twentieth century sea-level rise.

Ocean Circulation: New evidence (Yes), slowdown (No)

Sometimes journalists are so focused on a particular story that they 'hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest'. There was a perfect example of this last week in the Guardian reporting from the RAPID Climate Change conference in Birmingham (UK) which I was attending. The conference, whose theme was observations, modelling and paleo-climate related to the Thermohaline and Meridional overturning circulation (MOC) in the North Atlantic, could have been expected to attract media attention (particularly in the Europe) and indeed it did. However, the Guardian story, which started "Scientists have uncovered more evidence for a dramatic weakening in the vast ocean current that gives Britain its relatively balmy climate" was in complete opposition to the actual evidence presented and I wasn't the only person to notice. How could the reporting be so wrong?

First, a bit of background: RAPID is a focused research program being run mainly out of the UK, but with contributions from Norway, the Netherlands and from the US. One of their main achievments has been to set up a mooring array (which consists of a dozen or so permanently attached monitors of temperature, salinity and pressure) that can continuously monitor the circulation in the North Atlantic across a section at 26řN. Measurements taken as the moorings were first installed were highlighted in the Bryden et al paper last year. As readers will no doubt recall, that publication, suggesting that a long term decrease in the MOC was underway, was greeted by a media storm. We cautioned at the time that the results were preliminary and, specifically, that the internal variability was probably high enough to make it unlikely that the changes had risen above the noise.

At the meeting this week, Bryden and colleagues gave an update of the work, specifically focusing on the first year of data from the moored array. This is the first time that there has ever been such a continuous set of estimates across the whole Atlantic and so reports of the size and nature of the variability were eagerly anticipated. And they did not disappoint! There were two key observations: first, that the approximations that had been used in the Bryden et al study were actually valid, and secondly, that the variations day by day varied by around 5 Sv (1 Sv is about 10 times the flow of the Amazon). The mean over the year for the MOC was 18 Sv - very close to what was expected and in the middle of recent estimates - and significantly, larger than the value seen in the 2004 snapshot. Given that degree of 'noise', this implies that no conclusions about trends over recent decades can be supported.

Other results presented supported this basic picture: transport estimates at different latitudes were not coherent with the initial results, model variability in the best ocean models was large (suggesting that detectability of a MOC slowdown before 2030-2050 was unlikely), and temperature, salinity and velocity changes in the overflow waters beteen Greenland and Europe showed significant connections to the North Atlantic Oscillation but no obvious trends. A number of records that had seemed to be trending strongly when first looked at, now seem to be simply more variable than first thought. This was something of a theme at the conference - the closer we look at the ocean, the more dynamic it appears.

So why was the Guardian story so wrong? Well, the nature of variability invariably implies that there are periods when the values are above the mean, and periods when it is below the mean. The minimum values appeared to be during a 10 day interval in November 2004 when the inferred deep western boundary current appeared to be very weak indeed. But then it came back. Now, recall that we have never seen this quality of data before and explanations for the variability (deep eddies? waves?) are not yet available. Thus, no-one has any clue whether this is normal or unusual - right now it's simply an interesting phenomenon. Picking this out of the results is therefore a little perverse. The big story should have been the phenomenal effort that has gone into exploring this important issue, the much improved context for previous measurements and a welcome reassessment of the significance of previous results. It's a shame the Guardian missed it.


Stern report scare-mongering

Some skeptical comments from Australia:

Few government reports have been greeted with less scepticism than Nicholas Stern's scary scenario on climate change, but seldom has a report purporting to be a serious study been so deficient in scientific back-up. While its contents have been taken as gospel by various interest groups, the media and the ALP, a number of bona fide experts are deeply concerned at the report's lack of any real intellectual rigour.

Without gilding the lily, Dr Brian O'Brien, a strategic and environmental consultant, who was the foundation Director and Chairman of the WA Environmental Protection Authority, and previously Professor of Physics and Space Science in the US, has all the credentials necessary to make a reasoned, educated review of such a report. His verdict is damning. He says that not only are its forecasts out of whack with the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of 2001, but also that if Stern wasn't so driven by political goals he should have waited until next year when the IPCC's fourth report is due to be published. "I think they're being quite naughty,'' he said. "All this apocalyptic talk when the situation is not so cataclysmic that they couldn't have waited till 2007 for the best available transparent data rather than rely on the coupling together of a five-year-old, out-of-date IPCC report, amended with references to a difficult-to-obtain German publication Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, edited by H.J.Schellnhuber (Cambridge University Press), which is not only not readily available but was not subjected to the usual process of peer review.''

Professor O'Brien, who has a number of experiments still orbiting Earth aboard various satellites is currently assisting NASA recover data from the Apollo 11 program which the space agency "misplaced'' before coding, was clearly exasperated when he spoke with me from his Perth home. "There are a number of obvious problems with the report,'' he said, "not least being that Stern relies on the IPCC's 2001 report which estimated the maximum sea level rise forecast by 2100 would be somewhere between 9cm and 88cm and a leaked report of next year's IPCC report says the rise is possibly between 14cm and 43cm.''

Clearly, Stern has chosen to take the darkest possible view of the future. The professor said that in its initial report in 1995, the IPCC explicitly stated that its definition of climate change differed from that of the United Nations and Kyoto, because their definition included natural events plus human activities. "The first question, then, is what is climate change, if the scientific group advising the UN is thinking about natural phenomena as well as the scary stuff?'' he asked. "How about the so-called Federation drought which ran from 1895 to 1903, and the drought which ran from 1991 to '95, or the two in between, which had the most devastating effect in extent and on primary production, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Year Book for 2001?''

Professor O'Brien referred to remarks made by Robert White, the President of the US National Academy of Engineering to the annual general meeting of the US Academy of Science, in Washington, in April, 1989, where he said: "Whether we in the scientific community like it or not, we have awakened the political beast; we are confronted with an inverted pyramid of knowledge. "A huge and growing mass of proposals for policy action is balanced upon a handful of real facts.''

Professor O'Brien described a diagram of a big inverted pyramid, standing on a tiny little apex of a few facts such as increasing concentration of gases and a mass of assumptions rising on top of that, and exploding into all sorts of models and scenarios.

The Stern report, he said, is now at the peak of the apocalyptic drawing. He said the Stern report's sky-is-falling approach to climate change was exactly the same as the technique used at the first world conference on the changing atmosphere, and implications for global security held in Toronto in June, 1988. The opening quote at the conference, attended by more than 300 people from 46 nations was: "Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war.''

This alarmist approach reeked of stupidity, snake oil, and misguided gospel preaching but was in line with a formula adopted by the first chairman of the IPCC, Sir John Houghton, who produced the IPCC's first three reports in 1990, 1995 and 2001 and wrote in his book Global Warming, The Complete Briefing, in 1994: "Unless we announce disasters no one will listen.''

Evoking the Great Depression and World War II may garner headlines for climate change but, without a factual basis, the Stern report is little but grandiose scare-mongering. It would be irresponsible in the extreme for politicians to make major policy changes - and major economic commitments - on such specious arguments.

Hollywoods Australian Idiot wannabees took to the streets of Sydney on Saturday Nov.4 demanding that "the government" do something to stop what was previously known as "Global Warming" they now call "climate change" thats the term they now use to cover their collective arses should it be hot or cold the day they are protesting, it just so happens the day they chose to march and share their collective wisdom among Sydney siders, it rained almost all day.

World famous scientist,climatologists actress /actor and member of the jugglers and clowns union, Cate Blanchett added her vast knowledge of science and meterology "Like the tens of thousands who marched today, I support clean energy and I vote.'' to the pool of chanting Green Peace, Green Left and International Socialist Movement activists who, using their best Henny Penny voices told us the sky is falling and we had all better pay more tax to stop it falling any further, apparently falling skies are very respectfull of World governments and Communist collectives and as such rarely fall on them.


Australian PM backs closing wetlands for drinking water supply

Shock, horror for the Greenies. Doesn't the PM realize that "people are pollution"?

Prime Minister John Howard says he will support the closure of wetlands if it is necessary to secure drinking water during the drought. Yesterday's meeting of state and federal leaders decided to form an advisory group to consider contingency measures in case the drought continues next year. One option canvassed was to close wetlands to divert water to towns.

Mr Howard says people must always receive priority over the environment. "Quite honestly if we have to face the possibility of, for a temporary period, closing down a wetland in order to give people drinking water then I will support closing down a wetland," he said.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has attacked the suggestion. "The Prime Minister still doesn't get it, that you need a healthy environment to support people," she said. "And to hear him saying these things makes my mind boggle that he still doesn't get this." [We need swamps to keep us healthy??]



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

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

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


9 November, 2006


His recommendations as he summarizes them to a reporter sound more like what George Bush has been doing than anything else

The relaxed demeanour of the man deployed by British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to put a price on global warming is of a piece with his central message: a potential catastrophe looms, but avoiding it does not require a hair shirt or giving up the good things in life. "I think it would be hard to sell people on carrots, tents and bicycles. We're not saying that."

Last week the Stern report changed the landscape of the global warming debate. It matched the scientific arguments for taking action with economic ones and it came up with a cautiously optimistic conclusion: a surprisingly small investment in curbing emissions now could save thousands of billions in the future. The 700-page report contains dense thickets of equations and calculations, as well as the names of some of the world's most eminent economists.....

Stern has faced a counterattack on several fronts this week, most eloquently from Nigel Lawson, a former chancellor of the exchequer, who accused him of "eco-fundamentalism ... that is irrational and intolerant". At the mention of Lawson, Stern lives up to his name for the first time: "I am always polite to Nigel Lawson," he says with a steel glint. "But Nigel is wrong. "Are we saying, like other fundamentalisms, that you have to change your life? No! We're saying, do a few things differently. Where's the fundamentalism in that? "Fundamentalism is radical. What could be very radical is doing nothing."

The Stern report gives warning that environmental "business as usual" will have consequences similar to "the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century". It is an allusion that perhaps comes easily to a man whose father escaped Nazi Germany in 1938, and he summons up the wartime spirit as an example of the collaboration needed, he says, to fight climate change......

His argument is couched in the language of market economics, while making a passionate demand for state action. Midway through a discussion about the precise percentage of gross domestic product needed to avert calamity, he swerves into an ecological lament: "The snows on Kilimanjaro are virtually gone, the Barrier Reef is probably going, snows are going off the Andes, threatening the water supply of Quito and La Paz."

His repeated references to his age (although he is only 60) and to his grandchildren as yet unborn (he has three daughters, the eldest in her 30s) suggest a man who feels time is short. "If we do nothing, there is at least a 50-50 chance of rising above 5C by the end of the century. "Five degrees is very, very big. The last ice age was minus five."

But while the cost of doing nothing may be huge, he insists the immediate cost of averting future crisis is relatively small. A 5C temperature rise would be "transformational in terms of where you can live and how you can live your lives". But his estimated cost of averting disaster ("in the ballpark of" 1 per cent of GDP) would not dramatically change the way we live: "Suppose all cars are plug-in in 15 years' time, that's not transformational, it's just that your engine works differently.

"This is essentially an optimistic report," he insists: a little pain today for a big reduction in pain later on, without sacrificing our way of life. The champagne bottle is half full, from Stern's perspective, not half empty....

More here


Scare stories about global warming may end up justifying policies that hurt the economy without much curbing of greenhouse gases, says Robert Samuelson

It seems impossible to have an honest conversation about global warming. I say this after diligently perusing the British government's huge report released last week by Sir Nicholas Stern, former chief economist of the World Bank and now a high civil servant.

The report is a masterpiece of misleading public relations. It foresees dire consequences if global warming isn't curbed: a worldwide depression (with a drop in output up to 20 percent) and flooding of many coastal cities. Meanwhile, the costs of minimizing these awful outcomes are small: only 1 percent of world economic output in 2050. No sane person could fail to conclude that we should conquer global warming instantly, if not sooner. Who could disagree?

Well, me. Stern's headlined conclusions are intellectual fictions. They're essentially fabrications to justify an aggressive anti-global-warming agenda. The danger of that is we'd end up with the worst of both worlds: a program that harms the economy without much cutting of greenhouse gases. Let me throw some messy realities onto Stern's tidy picture.

In the global-warming debate, there's a big gap between public rhetoric (which verges on hysteria) and public behavior (which indicates indifference). People say they're worried but don't act that way. Greenhouse emissions continue to rise despite many earnest pledges to control them. Just last week, the United Nations reported that of the 41 countries it monitors (not including most developing nations), 34 had increased greenhouse emissions from 2000 to 2004. These include most countries committed to reducing emissions under the Kyoto Protocol. Why is this? Here are three reasons.

First: With today's technologies, we don't know how to cut greenhouse gases in politically and economically acceptable ways. The world's 1,700 or so coal-fired power plants-big emitters of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas-are a cheap source of electricity. The wholesale cost is 4 to 5 cents a kilowatt hour, says the World Resources Institute. By contrast, solar power is five to six times that. Although wind is roughly competitive, it can be used only in selective spots. It now supplies less than 1 percent of global electricity. Nuclear energy is cost-competitive but is stymied by other concerns (safety, proliferation hazards, spent fuel).

Second: In rich democracies, policies that might curb greenhouse gases require politicians and the public to act in exceptionally "enlightened" (read: "unrealistic") ways. They have to accept "pain" now for benefits that won't materialize for decades, probably after they're dead. For example, we could adopt a steep gasoline tax and much tougher fuel-economy standards for vehicles. In time, that might limit emissions (personally, I favor this on national-security grounds). Absent some crisis, politicians usually won't impose-and the public won't accept-burdens without corresponding benefits.

Third: Even if rich countries cut emissions, it won't make much difference unless poor countries do likewise-and so far, they've refused because that might jeopardize their economic growth and poverty-reduction efforts. Poorer countries are the fastest growing source of greenhouse emissions, because rapid economic growth requires energy, and present forms of energy produce gases. In 2003, China's carbon-dioxide emissions were 78 percent of the U.S. level. Developing countries, in total, accounted for 37 percent of greenhouse-gases emissions in 2003. By 2050, their share could be 55 percent, projects the International Energy Agency.

The notion that there's only a modest tension between suppressing greenhouse gases and sustaining economic growth is highly dubious. Stern arrives at his trivial costs-that 1 percent of world GDP in 2050-by essentially assuming them. His estimates presume that, with proper policies, technological improvements will automatically reconcile declining emissions with adequate economic growth. This is a heroic leap. To check warming, Stern wants annual emissions 25 percent below current levels by 2050. The IEA projects that economic growth by 2050 would more than double emissions. At present, we can't bridge that gap.

The other great distortion in Stern's report involves global warming's effects. No one knows what these might be, because we don't know how much warming might occur, when, where, or how easily people might adapt. Stern's horrific specter distills many of the most terrifying guesses, including some imagined for the 22nd century, and implies they're imminent. The idea is to scare people while reassuring them that policies to avert calamity, if started now, would be fairly easy and inexpensive.

We need more candor. Unless we develop cost-effective technologies that break the link between carbon-dioxide emissions and energy use, we can't do much. Anyone serious about global warming must focus on technology-and not just assume it. Otherwise, our practical choices are all bad: costly mandates and controls that harm the economy; or costly mandates and controls that barely affect greenhouse gases. Or, possibly, both.



Comment from David Henderson, Westminster Business School

On 2 November 2006 I took the chair at a talk given in London by Dr Dieter Helm in the Beesley Lectures series on problems of regulation. His subject was 'Energy Policy and Climate Change'. The procedure for the Beesley Lectures provides for a personal 15-minute contribution by the chairman, to be made after the talk and before the discussion is thrown open. The text that follows formed the basis for the main part of my contribution, which focused on climate change rather than energy policy. It includes some comments on the Stern Review on 'The Economics of Climate Change', which had appeared a few days before the lecture, but my main criticisms are directed against the way in which governments across the world are handling issues relating to climate change.


The Stern Review is a formidable document. Its main text comprises over 550 pages, and covers a vast range of issues. It reflects the work of a team of over 20 officials under the direction of Sir Nicholas Stern, backed by a substantial number of consultants. The Review draws on an array of already published studies and papers, as well on a substantial number of specially commissioned outside contributions. I cannot offer you now even a preliminary considered assessment of the Review as a whole, nor would this be appropriate for today's agenda. Let me however mention that a group of us, comprising both scientists and economists, hope to publish before long an assessment which will be as extensive as we can make it. What we have in mind is two linked review articles, one focusing on scientific and the other on economic aspects. Though authorship would be largely or wholly separate, the two articles are being prepared in conjunction: they will be cross-referenced and mutually supporting. These twin contributions are scheduled to appear in a coming issue of the journal World Economics, which has already carried, in its summer issue, some exchanges between Sir Nicholas and the nine economists who are members of the group. This evening I want to make some personal comments on one particular aspect of the climate change debate.

Grounds for concern

I am not a climate scientist, and I am a relative newcomer to climate change issues. I am an economist, and I became involved with the subject, almost by accident, just four years ago. My initial main involvement was with some economic and statistical aspects of this vast array of topics, but over time my interests and concerns have broadened. Increasingly - and this was neither expected nor intended on my part - I have become critical of the way in which issues relating to climate change are being viewed and treated by governments across the world. In particular, I have become a critic of the role and conduct of the chosen instrument of governments in this area of policy, namely, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC process, and the massive assessment reports which are its main single product, are widely seen, by governments and public opinion alike, as thorough, balanced and authoritative. There is a general belief that the Panel has created a world-wide scientific consensus, based on an informed and objective professional assessment, which provides a sound basis for policy. Since its inception in 1988, the IPCC process has established itself, in the eyes of the great majority of its member governments, as their sole authoritative and continuing source of information, evidence, analysis, interpretation and advice on the whole range of issues relating to climate change

In my view, there are good reasons to query the claims to authority and representative status that are made by and on behalf of the Panel, and hence to question the unique status, one of virtual monopoly, that it now holds. The trust so widely placed in it is unwarranted. To begin with, the principle of creating a single would-be authoritative fount of wisdom is itself open to doubt. Even if the IPCC process were indisputably and consistently rigorous, objective and professionally watertight, it is imprudent for governments to place exclusive reliance, in matters of extraordinary complexity where huge uncertainties prevail, on a single source of analysis and advice and a single process of inquiry. The very notion of setting consensus as an aim appears as questionable if not ill-judged.

In any case, the ideal conditions have not been realised. The IPCC process is far from being a model of rigour, inclusiveness and impartiality. In this connection, there are several related aspects that I would emphasise. First, the Panel's treatment of economic issues has been flawed. Writings that feature in its Third Assessment Report contain what many economists and economic statisticians would regard as basic errors, showing a lack of awareness of relevant published sources; and the same is true of more recent IPCC-related writings, as also of material published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which is one of the Panel's twin parent agencies. In this area, what I call the IPCC milieu is neither fully competent nor representative.

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

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

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

Third, in response to criticisms that have been made of published and peer-reviewed work that the IPCC has drawn on, and queries that have been raised, the authors concerned have failed to make full and voluntary disclosure of data, sources and procedures. A leading instance is that of the celebrated 'hockey-stick' diagram, which was prominently displayed and drawn on in the Panel's Third Assessment Report and afterwards. Probably no single piece of alleged evidence relating to climate change has been so widely cited and influential. The authors concerned failed to make due disclosure, and neither the publishing journals nor the IPCC required them to do so. As a result, fundamental errors and evidence of deficient statistical properties did not emerge until very recently.

Fourth, the response of the Panel's directing circle and milieu to informed criticism has typically been inadequate or dismissive. Within the scientific community, these dismissive attitudes have sometimes gone together with a disturbing intolerance of dissenting views and ideas.

Fifth, I believe that both the Panel's directing circle and the IPCC milieu more generally are characterised by an endemic bias towards alarmist assessments and conclusions. Partly because of this bias, the treatment of climate change issues by environmental and scientific journalists and commentators across the world is overwhelmingly one-sided and sensationalist: non-alarmist studies and results are typically played down or disregarded, while the lack of knowledge and the huge uncertainties which still loom large in climate science are passed over.

This chronic lack of objectivity on the part of so many commentators is in itself a matter for concern; but even more worrying, to my mind, is the fact that leading figures and organisations connected with the IPCC process, including government departments and international agencies, do little or nothing to ensure that a more balanced picture is presented. Some of them have become accomplices of alarmism.

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

To sum up: the IPCC process, which is widely taken to be thorough, objective, representative and authoritative, is in fact deeply flawed: despite its scale, pretensions and reputation, it is not professionally up to the mark.



AROUND 90,000 children in Scotland are living in homes where families cannot afford to pay energy bills, new figures released today revealed. In 2002, the Scottish Executive estimated 46,000 children were living in such households, meaning the figure has nearly doubled in four years. During the same period, electricity prices have risen by more than 60 per cent and gas prices by more than 90 per cent.

The research was carried out by a group of charities who looked at rises in investment in energy efficiency over the past four years. The coalition of Barnardo's, Children in Scotland, Child Poverty Action Group, Capability Scotland and Save the Children blamed the increase in children affected on high fuel prices. Tam Baillie of Barnardo's Scotland said: "For those living in fuel poverty, the consequences are misery, discomfort, ill health and debt. "No Scottish child should live in a cold, damp home, and no parent should have to choose between feeding their kids and keeping them warm."

Typical Scottish Leftist blames the power companies rather than government and Greenie restrictions on them: Graham Kerr of energywatch Scotland said: "Energy companies have a social responsibility and are in prime position to play a major part in tackling fuel poverty. "They should develop discounted energy products for low income households and scrap higher charges for people using prepayment meters. "This would help stop high prices from undoing much of the positive work done by the Scottish Executive and others."



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

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

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


8 November, 2006

California Global Warming Bill is a "Power Play"

California Global Warming Bill (AB 32) Takes Power From Cities to Choose Energy Suppliers - Could Result in Doubled Electricity Prices if Energy Contracts Aren't Extended by January 2007

(Comment below from a California reader:)

A number of California cities, Pasadena, Glendale, Burbank, Riverside, and Anaheim, are rushing to extend long-term contracts with energy suppliers before California's Global Warming Bill (Assembly Bill 32 - AB32) takes effect and their electricity bills could double. AB 32 is a "power" grab which takes away from cities their independence to choose the mix of energy sources for their customers (e.g., coal, natural gas, nuclear, or "renewables"). If these cities are unable to extend their current long-term contracts before January 2007 the State may be able to dictate that they go off coal, gas, and nuclear-powered energy "cold turkey" and switch to all or mostly "renewables" (solar, wind, landfill gas, etc.), which are double to quadruple the price. On the other hand if the contracts can be extended to 2050, this might be enough time for the junk science behind global warming to be exposed and before it has detrimental impacts on the elderly, low income persons, and other vulnerable population segments, as well as costing jobs. Of course, the mainstream media such as the Los Angeles Times is casting this as a move "to extend dirty power contracts"

(Another comment on the above matter here)


By John A []

Without wishing to diminish Bob Carter's excellent overview of the Stern Report, I would counsel a note of caution on the Stern Report being "the last hurrah for those warmaholics who inhabit a world of virtual climate reality that exists only inside flawed computer models". Those computer models have yet to be debunked, because they predict (or reinterpret) the past (including the very recent past), but no climate modeller is going to put his pension on predicting so much as the next El Nino. Climate models are in constant change, and testing one and finding it wanting in no way concerns the modellers who are constantly "moving on"

Unfortunately, scares like the current one tend to persist for rather a long time. I predict many more "last hurrahs" to come before we all come to our senses (or we run out of money, whichever comes first). The Witchcraft Mania of the 15th-18th Centuries did not suddenly end - rather it receded from public consciousness in the background to more pressing economic and social concerns, until it could be seen for what it was - a religiously-inspired hysteria. (The last witch trial in England was in 1712 but the last one in Scotland was in 1944). I also predict more "the science is settled/done/complete/unquestioned/over" statements as well in response to dreadful rubbish like the Stern Report. Next up, the lurid headlines of IPCC 4AR.

Similarly, while the world's economy is doing reasonably well, the concerns that around the corner lurk hidden cataclysms because of our current prosperity will continue until there is another imaginary hobgoblin to frighten the public with.

At the moment, with Global Warming becoming mainstream and increasingly unfalsifiable with quiet hurricane seasons being now described as when "natural variation temporarily overwhelms greenhouse warming", it seems certain to me that alarm about climate will continue for quite some time, as it has on and off, for thousands of years.

Incidentally we may in the first climate hysteria over a warm period rather than a cold one. In the 1970s climatologists made the implicit assumption that warming brought prosperity and cold brought blight, poverty and social unrest.

We may be the first generation where climatologists fear longer growing seasons, increased rainfall and economic prosperity especially in developing countries. I'm sure we all share the horror.


When India's government tried to persuade cabbies, lorry drivers and auto-rickshaws to use 'green fuel', there was intense opposition. Eventually the courts stepped in and soon major cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai had a majority of public vehicles run on compressed natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas instead of highly polluting diesel oil and petrol. In December 2002, Delhi became the world's first capital to have converted its entire public transport fleet to CNG, making the state-owned Delhi Transport Corporation the largest CNG operator in the world.

Almost six years later, India, which has refused to make any commitments on climate change, has joined the Asia-Pacific Partnership for promoting clean energy technologies. The country has set up eight joint public-private sector panels in areas such as cleaner fossil energy, renewable energy and distributed generation, power generation and transmission, steel, aluminium, cement, coal mining, and building and appliances. The aim is to encourage clean energy technologies and reduce carbon emission.

But India has stayed away from making any undertaking at international forums. 'Any commitment at this point would mean a compromise on current economic growth,' says an environmental analyst at the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment. 'Developed countries are responsible for the entire global warming so far, hence it is for them to reduce their large carbon emissions. We will demand further cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries.'

Subodh K Sharma, adviser at the ministry of environment and forests, agrees: 'We do not want to make any commitment. India is on a growth path, and per capita consumption is still low. India is going to demand strengthening of the commitment by the developed countries at the UN Nairobi Climate Change Conference [from tomorrow to 17 November].'

But he says it is unfair to call India irresponsible: 'Our obligations and approaches are clearly stated in the national environment policy 2006. We are active on the clean development mechanism front, with 353 projects currently endorsed by the government.'

Industry officials point out that corporate groups and companies such as Tata, Birla, Reliance and Suzlon Energy are already employing clean energy technologies and taking adequate steps to minimise carbon emissions. 'The government and green activists are vigilant in India, and any violation of the existing rules under national environment policy will not be tolerated,' says an environment analyst in Mumbai.

India, which has an independent ministry for renewable energy, has taken a giant leap in wind and solar power. For instance, Suzlon Energy, the world's fifth-largest manufacturer of wind turbines, has been endorsed by the environmental ministry for clean development mechanism projects.

The Stern report has reminded the country of the natural disasters it has suffered in the recent past. 'Among developing countries, India has borne the brunt of a series of natural calamities such as tsunami, floods and droughts. These have already vindicated Stern,' says the analyst. 'The report said global warming and climate change could affect India's growth story unless a range of steps are taken to address increased surface temperature and its effect on monsoon pattern and river flows.

'Experts from the University of Reading have estimated that mean summer rainfall in India will increase by 10 per cent and this will be accompanied by more regional variations. The report further warned that this is likely to affect agriculture and, therefore, GDP growth,' says the analyst, adding that there had been few studies done in India about the possible impact of India's own emissions. However, all that Sharma will say is: 'In Nairobi, we will demand all developed countries to make commitments and pledge measures to reduce their emissions. India will strive to implement better technologies that will ease our emissions.'



A small outage metastatizes -- showing there is no spare capacity

A power shortage in Germany triggered blackouts across Europe, a German electricity firm said Sunday, halting trains, trapping people in lifts and leaving millions of homes into darkness. Germany and France were badly hit by the cuts late Saturday. Austria, Belgium, Italy and Spain were also affected, though supplies to most regions were quickly restored. There were no reports of injuries. Generator E.On AG said the problems began in northwestern Germany, where its network became overloaded, possibly because it shut down a high-voltage transmission line over a river to let a ship pass safely.

Swaths of western Germany, including the industrial Ruhr region, were without power for a half-hour, delaying scores of trains for up to two hours, Deutsche Bahn spokesman Achim Stauss said.

In France, about 5 million people were left without electricity, including many in the capital, Paris. In all, about 15 French regions were affected, firefighters said. France Info radio quoted French power utility Electricite de France as saying that about 5 million people were still without power early Sunday, and that it was not sure when it would be able to bring consumers back online. Firefighters in Paris said they had responded to nearly 40 calls from people stuck in elevators.

Roberta Vivenzio, a spokeswoman Italian energy company Enel, said the blackout affected areas of Piedmont and Liguria in Italy's northwest, as well as Puglia, the southeastern "heel" of Italy's boot-shaped peninsula. Italian Premier Romano Prodi told reporters in his home town of Bologna that the incident suggested Europe needed to strengthen its coordination of power supplies. "My first impression is that there is a contradiction between having European (power) links and not having one European (power) authority," Prodi said. "We depend on each other with being able to help each other, without a central authority."

In Belgium, the region around the port city of Antwerp was the worst affected. Short power cuts were also reported near Ghent and Liege, Erik Deleye from electricity provider Elia told VRT television. The blackout forced rail companies to use buses and taxis to get passengers stranded at rail stations to their final destinations in Ghent.

Spanish network Red Electrica said areas of Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza and the region of Andalucia were similarly affected.

E.On said it had shut down transmission lines in the past without causing problems, and that it was still trying to discover what happened this time. Theo Horstmann, of another German power firm RWE AG, said the shortage had caused substations across Europe to shutdown automatically to prevent further damage.



Europe faces the growing threat of electricity shortages because growth in demand has outstripped investment in new power stations, a leading consultancy has warned. Capgemini, the consultancy, said operating at such low margin levels raised the risk of power shortages, including interruption of supply to large industrial users, "brownouts" - reductions in supply voltage - and blackouts.

Colette Lewiner of Cap-gemini said the study should be a "wake-up call" for the energy industry, governments and regulators. "We are in a dangerous zone now," she said. "We could have power cuts."

The average margin - the excess of available electricity supply over peak-load demand - dropped to just 4.8 per cent in the winter of 2005-06, down one percentage point from the previous year. The UK, France, Belgium and Greece are among the countries with the lowest levels of spare capacity.

Capgemini argued that the more competitive and commercial environment for European energy had in part been responsible for the erosion of the capacity margin. For decades European energy industries maintained high levels of excess capacity. But in the past five years generators in most European Union member states have been failing to invest enough to keep pace with the rise in demand. Spain was the worst case last year, with supply capacity rising by just 8 per cent while peak load demand rose by 15 per cent, but in many other countries the margin has been squeezed. Only Ireland, where capacity rose by 36 per cent, has comfortably increased its margin.

European energy companies' investment as a share of their sales has fallen from almost 18 per cent in 2000 to less than 10 per cent in 2004, although it picked up slightly last year. Electricity generators across Europe have become more exposed to commercial pressures by the spread of liberalisation and private ownership. In the past, the generators could have predicted their future demand with reasonable certainty. They were assured of being able to finance the investment needed to meet that demand with enough of a margin to guard against power shortages. Today they will typically need to justify those investments as commercial decisions.

Capgemini said investment in new power stations was also being hampered by ever more complex planning procedures and by governments' persistent tinkering with the regulatory frameworks. Ms Lewiner said: "How can companies plan for a 10 or 20-year return on investment when governments keep changing the rules of the game?" "It should be for national governments and the European Commission to encourage power investment in the energy industry."

The tight supply position is being exacerbated by hotter summer weather and the growing use of air conditioning, which have shifted the traditional seasonal pattern of electricity demand. In Spain, for example, the peak in demand is now in the summer. In France, generators have been forced to rethink their practice of shutting down nuclear power plants in the summer for maintenance. Many of Europe's recent blackouts have also occurred during the summer.



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

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

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


7 November, 2006

Climate chaos? Don't believe it

By Christopher Monckton

Download Christopher Monckton's references and detailed calculations [pdf]

The Stern report last week predicted dire economic and social effects of unchecked global warming. In what many will see as a highly controversial polemic, Christopher Monckton disputes the 'facts' of this impending apocalypse and accuses the UN and its scientists of distorting the truth

Last week, Gordon Brown and his chief economist both said global warming was the worst "market failure" ever. That loaded soundbite suggests that the "climate-change" scare is less about saving the planet than, in Jacques Chirac's chilling phrase, "creating world government". This week and next, I'll reveal how politicians, scientists and bureaucrats contrived a threat of Biblical floods, droughts, plagues, and extinctions worthier of St John the Divine than of science.

Sir Nicholas Stern's report on the economics of climate change, which was published last week, says that the debate is over. It isn't. There are more greenhouse gases in the air than there were, so the world should warm a bit, but that's as far as the "consensus" goes. After the recent hysteria, you may not find the truth easy to believe. So you can find all my references and detailed calculations here.

The Royal Society says there's a worldwide scientific consensus. It brands Apocalypse-deniers as paid lackeys of coal and oil corporations. I declare my interest: I once took the taxpayer's shilling and advised Margaret Thatcher, FRS, on scientific scams and scares. Alas, not a red cent from Exxon.

In 1988, James Hansen, a climatologist, told the US Congress that temperature would rise 0.3C by the end of the century (it rose 0.1C), and that sea level would rise several feet (no, one inch). The UN set up a transnational bureaucracy, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The UK taxpayer unwittingly meets the entire cost of its scientific team, which, in 2001, produced the Third Assessment Report, a Bible-length document presenting apocalyptic conclusions well beyond previous reports.

This week, I'll show how the UN undervalued the sun's effects on historical and contemporary climate, slashed the natural greenhouse effect, overstated the past century's temperature increase, repealed a fundamental law of physics and tripled the man-made greenhouse effect. Next week, I'll demonstrate the atrocious economic, political and environmental cost of the high-tax, zero-freedom, bureaucratic centralism implicit in Stern's report; I'll compare the global-warming scare with previous sci-fi alarums; and I'll show how the environmentalists' "precautionary principle" (get the state to interfere now, just in case) is killing people.

So to the scare. First, the UN implies that carbon dioxide ended the last four ice ages. It displays two 450,000-year graphs: a sawtooth curve of temperature and a sawtooth of airborne CO2 that's scaled to look similar. Usually, similar curves are superimposed for comparison. The UN didn't do that. If it had, the truth would have shown: the changes in temperature preceded the changes in CO2 levels.

Next, the UN abolished the medieval warm period (the global warming at the end of the First Millennium AD). In 1995, David Deming, a geoscientist at the University of Oklahoma, had written an article reconstructing 150 years of North American temperatures from borehole data. He later wrote: "With the publication of the article in Science, I gained significant credibility in the community of scientists working on climate change. They thought I was one of them, someone who would pervert science in the service of social and political causes. One of them let his guard down. A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said: 'We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.' "

So they did. The UN's second assessment report, in 1996, showed a 1,000-year graph demonstrating that temperature in the Middle Ages was warmer than today. But the 2001 report contained a new graph showing no medieval warm period. It wrongly concluded that the 20th century was the warmest for 1,000 years. The graph looked like an ice hockey-stick. The wrongly flat AD1000-AD1900 temperature line was the shaft: the uptick from 1900 to 2000 was the blade. Here's how they did it:

* They gave one technique for reconstructing pre-thermometer temperature 390 times more weight than any other (but didn't say so).

* The technique they overweighted was one which the UN's 1996 report had said was unsafe: measurement of tree-rings from bristlecone pines. Tree-rings are wider in warmer years, but pine-rings are also wider when there's more carbon dioxide in the air: it's plant food. This carbon dioxide fertilisation distorts the calculations.

* They said they had included 24 data sets going back to 1400. Without saying so, they left out the set showing the medieval warm period, tucking it into a folder marked "Censored Data".

* They used a computer model to draw the graph from the data, but scientists later found that the model almost always drew hockey-sticks even if they fed in random, electronic "red noise".

The large, full-colour "hockey-stick" was the key graph in the UN's 2001 report, and the only one to appear six times. The Canadian Government copied it to every household. Four years passed before a leading scientific journal would publish the truth about the graph. Did the UN or the Canadian government apologise? Of course not. The UN still uses the graph in its publications.

Even after the "hockey stick" graph was exposed, scientific papers apparently confirming its abolition of the medieval warm period appeared. The US Senate asked independent statisticians to investigate. They found that the graph was meretricious, and that known associates of the scientists who had compiled it had written many of the papers supporting its conclusion.

The UN, echoed by Stern, says the graph isn't important. It is. Scores of scientific papers show that the medieval warm period was real, global and up to 3C warmer than now. Then, there were no glaciers in the tropical Andes: today they're there. There were Viking farms in Greenland: now they're under permafrost. There was little ice at the North Pole: a Chinese naval squadron sailed right round the Arctic in 1421 and found none.

The Antarctic, which holds 90 per cent of the world's ice and nearly all its 160,000 glaciers, has cooled and gained ice-mass in the past 30 years, reversing a 6,000-year melting trend. Data from 6,000 boreholes worldwide show global temperatures were higher in the Middle Ages than now. And the snows of Kilimanjaro are vanishing not because summit temperature is rising (it isn't) but because post-colonial deforestation has dried the air. Al Gore please note.

In some places it was also warmer than now in the Bronze Age and in Roman times. It wasn't CO2 that caused those warm periods. It was the sun. So the UN adjusted the maths and all but extinguished the sun's role in today's warming. Here's how:

* The UN dated its list of "forcings" (influences on temperature) from 1750, when the sun, and consequently air temperature, was almost as warm as now. But its start-date for the increase in world temperature was 1900, when the sun, and temperature, were much cooler.

* Every "forcing" produces "climate feedbacks" making temperature rise faster. For instance, as temperature rises in response to a forcing, the air carries more water vapour, the most important greenhouse gas; and polar ice melts, increasing heat absorption. Up goes the temperature again. The UN more than doubled the base forcings from greenhouse gases to allow for climate feedbacks. It didn't do the same for the base solar forcing.

Two centuries ago, the astronomer William Herschel was reading Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations when he noticed that quoted grain prices fell when the number of sunspots rose. Gales of laughter ensued, but he was right. At solar maxima, when the sun was at its hottest and sunspots showed, temperature was warmer, grain grew faster and prices fell. Such observations show that even small solar changes affect climate detectably.

But recent solar changes have been big. Sami Solanki, a solar physicist, says that in the past half-century the sun has been warmer, for longer, than at any time in at least the past 11,400 years, contributing a base forcing equivalent to a quarter of the past century's warming. That's before adding climate feedbacks.

The UN expresses its heat-energy forcings in watts per square metre per second. It estimates that the sun caused just 0.3 watts of forcing since 1750. Begin in 1900 to match the temperature start-date, and the base solar forcing more than doubles to 0.7 watts. Multiply by 2.7, which the Royal Society suggests is the UN's current factor for climate feedbacks, and you get 1.9 watts – more than six times the UN's figure. The entire 20th-century warming from all sources was below 2 watts. The sun could have caused just about all of it.

Next, the UN slashed the natural greenhouse effect by 40 per cent from 33C in the climate-physics textbooks to 20C, making the man-made additions appear bigger. Then the UN chose the biggest 20th-century temperature increase it could find. Stern says: "As anticipated by scientists, global mean surface temperatures have risen over the past century." As anticipated? Only 30 years ago, scientists were anticipating a new Ice Age and writing books called The Cooling. In the US, where weather records have been more reliable than elsewhere, 20th-century temperature went up by only 0.3C. AccuWeather, a worldwide meteorological service, reckons world temperature rose by 0.45C. The US National Climate Data Centre says 0.5C. Any advance on 0.5? The UN went for 0.6C, probably distorted by urban growth near many of the world's fast-disappearing temperature stations. The number of temperature stations round the world peaked at 6,000 in 1970. It's fallen by two-thirds to 2,000 now: a real "hockey-stick" curve, and an instance of the UN's growing reliance on computer guesswork rather than facts.

Even a 0.6C temperature rise wasn't enough. So the UN repealed a fundamental physical law. Buried in a sub-chapter in its 2001 report is a short but revealing section discussing "lambda": the crucial factor converting forcings to temperature. The UN said its climate models had found lambda near-invariant at 0.5C per watt of forcing. You don't need computer models to "find" lambda. Its value is given by a century-old law, derived experimentally by a Slovenian professor and proved by his Austrian student (who later committed suicide when his scientific compatriots refused to believe in atoms). The Stefan-Boltzmann law, not mentioned once in the UN's 2001 report, is as central to the thermodynamics of climate as Einstein's later equation is to astrophysics. Like Einstein's, it relates energy to the square of the speed of light, but by reference to temperature rather than mass. The bigger the value of lambda, the bigger the temperature increase the UN could predict. Using poor Ludwig Boltzmann's law, lambda's true value is just 0.22-0.3C per watt. In 2001, the UN effectively repealed the law, doubling lambda to 0.5C per watt. A recent paper by James Hansen says lambda should be 0.67, 0.75 or 1C: take your pick. Sir John Houghton, who chaired the UN's scientific assessment working group until recently, tells me it now puts lambda at 0.8C: that's 3C for a 3.7-watt doubling of airborne CO2. Most of the UN's computer models have used 1C. Stern implies 1.9C.

On the UN's figures, the entire greenhouse-gas forcing in the 20th century was 2 watts. Multiplying by the correct value of lambda gives a temperature increase of 0.44 to 0.6C, in line with observation. But using Stern's 1.9C per watt gives 3.8C. Where did 85 per cent of his imagined 20th-century warming go? As Professor Dick Lindzen of MIT pointed out in The Sunday Telegraph last week, the UK's Hadley Centre had the same problem, and solved it by dividing its modelled output by three to "predict" 20th-century temperature correctly.

A spate of recent scientific papers, gearing up for the UN's fourth report next year, gives a different reason for the failure of reality to keep up with prediction. The oceans, we're now told, are acting as a giant heat-sink. In these papers the well-known, central flaw (not mentioned by Stern) is that the computer models' "predictions" of past ocean temperature changes only approach reality if they are averaged over a depth of at least a mile and a quarter. Deep-ocean temperature hasn't changed at all, it's barely above freezing. The models tend to over-predict the warming of the climate-relevant surface layer up to threefold. A recent paper by John Lyman, of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, reports that the oceans have cooled sharply in the past two years. The computers didn't predict this. Sea level is scarcely rising faster today than a century ago: an inch every 15 years. Hansen now says that the oceanic "flywheel effect" gives us extra time to act, so Stern's alarmism is misplaced.

Finally, the UN's predictions are founded not only on an exaggerated forcing-to-temperature conversion factor justified neither by observation nor by physical law, but also on an excessive rate of increase in airborne carbon dioxide. The true rate is 0.38 per cent year on year since records began in 1958. The models assume 1 per cent per annum, more than two and a half times too high. In 2001, the UN used these and other adjustments to predict a 21st-century temperature increase of 1.5 to 6C. Stern suggests up to 10C.

Dick Lindzen emailed me last week to say that constant repetition of wrong numbers doesn't make them right. Removing the UN's solecisms, and using reasonable data and assumptions, a simple global model shows that temperature will rise by just 0.1 to 1.4C in the coming century, with a best estimate of 0.6C, well within the medieval temperature range and only a fifth of the UN's new, central projection.

Why haven't air or sea temperatures turned out as the UN's models predicted? Because the science is bad, the "consensus" is wrong, and Herr Professor Ludwig Boltzmann, FRS, was as right about energy-to-temperature as he was about atoms.


Another example of widely-accepted fake science

"In the spring of 1981 a handful of young men began turning up in the emergency room at the UCLA hospital in West Los Angeles with swollen lymph nodes, a rare type of pneumonia, and highly suppressed T-cell count. Over the next year this was repeated in New York, Washington, and other major US cities, where doctors watched the spread of acquired immune deficiency syndrome."

So begins Pulitzer Prize-winner John Crewdson's definitive history of the discovery of AIDS and the surrounding scandal in his book Science Fictions: A Scientific Mystery, a Massive Cover-up and the Dark Legacy of Robert Gallo.

Robert Gallo, the National Cancer Institute researcher originally credited with virtually every important AIDS-related discovery, was revealed as a self-serving huckster who stole his laboratory samples from the Pasteur Institute, faked his scientific papers, and with the complicity of the Reagan administration, kept the US blood supply at risk for the AIDS virus for nearly a decade after the rest of the world had begun valid testing of blood for the AIDS virus. Harold Varmus, head of the National Institutes of Health, described Gallo as a "thug" yet Gallo has won every major award short of the Nobel Prize, and maintains a comfortable sinecure at the University of Maryland to this day.

Gallo made headlines in April 1984 as the "discoverer" of the AIDS virus (the year, incidentally, after the Pasteur Institute's patent filing for its AIDS blood test). Gallo claimed to have devised a test for the presence of the virus and to have mastered the art of growing the virus in the large quantities needed for research. Gallo's "discovery" of the cause of AIDS was the HTLV virus - a purported cancer virus that Gallo had previously (and unsuccessfully) promoted as a cause of leukemia, and that fit well with his proposals for funding and research at the National Cancer Institute. Gallo argued that HTLV had been shown to cause immunosuppression. Gallo's claims (which were rejected by most of the scientific community) were touted by the Reagan political machine, and press releases were packaged to produce optimal belief. Health Secretary Margaret Heckler greeted the press in the National Academy of Sciences auditorium packed with journalists and television crews. She declared that "today we add another miracle to the long honor roll of American medicine and science. Today's discovery represents the triumph of science over a dreaded disease." Gallo's "discovery" was a convenient answer to the chorus of critics who complained that the Reagan administration was doing too little to combat AIDS. Heckler dazzled critics with Gallo's American "miracle " and reminded the public of the gratitude it owed to medicine for triumphing over this "dreaded disease".

Gallo lost no time in making money from his deceit. Under pressure from the Reagan administration, the US Patent Office shut the door on any application for an immunoassay (blood test) patent that did not come from Gallo. The Pasteur Institute made its initial application for a US patent in 1983, but it stalled. Gallo and the US Department of Health applied for a patent on the day of Heckler's announcement. It was granted almost at once. The French cried "Foul!" The public wrangling threatened to undermine the integrity of AIDS science. It was settled by an unprecedented agreement between heads of state (Reagan and Jacques Chirac), which gave a percentage of US royalties on test kits to the French. A detailed report in June 1994 by the Inspector-General of the US Department of Health and Human Services on the issues between Gallo and the Pasteur Institute states that Gallo obtained his patent by unlawfully concealing relevant information from the patent office attorney; that he admitted this unlawful act; that Pasteur scientists were first to discover the AIDS virus, to isolate it successfully from several AIDS patients, to describe it in a scientific article, and to use it to make a diagnostic blood test for antibodies to the AIDS virus.

Thus began a decade of US government backed testing for the cancer virus HTLV in the US blood supply. Gallo's HTLV samples ultimately turned out to be not a leukemia causing virus, but samples of the LAV virus stolen from the Pasteur Institute, and cultured in Gallo's laboratory. All the deception had resulted in US blood tests that were essentially worthless, yet which were the enforced standard for all Red Cross testing (the rest of the world had moved to the Western Blot test recommended by the Pasteur Institute).

And this faulty testing meant that thousands of patients contracted AIDS from tainted blood supplies. Other patients were diagnosed with AIDS when they actually were free of the virus. Some of the misdiagnoses ended tragically in suicide.

In 1983, Isaac Asimov the noted science-fiction writer had triple bypass surgery and received blood transfusions containing HIV. His widow Jeppson Asimov recalled that after his triple bypass "the next day he had a high fever... only years later, in hindsight, did we realize that the post transfusion HIV infection had taken hold." In the mid-1980s, his wife noted that her husband had some AIDS symptoms and brought them to the attention of his internist and cardiologist, who pooh-poohed and refused to test him. He was finally tested in February of 1990, prior to further surgery, when he presented HIV-positive with his T cells half the normal level. The fact of Asimov's AIDS was kept secret at the advice of his physicians.

1983 may have been too early for the Pasteur Institutes blood test to actually have been used in the field. Nonetheless, it existed in 1983, and under the right circumstances could have prevented the science fiction writer from receiving tainted blood. But Gallo's grip on the US medical establishment precluded that. Asimov unfortunately choose to have his operation in New York where he had lived his entire life (he traveled infrequently as he was afraid to fly). In 1983, this decision resulted in his infection; nowhere else in the United States had a higher incidence of HIV in the blood supply than New York at that time.

And this is where Gallo's 'science fictions' may indeed have put an end to Asimov's science fiction. There were many others less well known than Asimov who also sufferred greatly and in many cases died as a consequence of Gallo's frauds.

Real science can be a double edged sword; but false science is never anything but a foul and costly crime. The victims of Robert Gallo's malfeasance should never be forgotten. They remind us that fraud - even in the most abstract realms of science - has real consequences for our day-to-day lives.



Allow me to introduce you to the greenest people I have ever known. They are paragons. If the world had only followed their example we might not now be facing the threat of either drowning in the floodwaters created by global warming or watching fertile land turn into desert. To what extent we'd be enjoying our lives is for you to judge.

They do not own a car and never have. They have never been on an aeroplane. To get where they need to go they use either bus or train. Very occasionally - if they have a particularly heavy suitcase - they might use a taxi, but no more than once or twice a year.

They do not shop in out-of-town supermarkets or buy fancy fruit out of season. They have never tasted a strawberry in January or a kiwi fruit or mange tout at any time of the year. Most of their vegetables are grown in the back garden or their allotment and the food they have to buy comes from local shops.

They have no need for recycling bins because there is virtually nothing to put in them. Indeed, the very notion of recycling is alien to them. The woman uses a shopping bag, so there are no plastic bags to get rid of and she buys her milk in bottles that are washed and returned. Every scrap of potato peeling or old cabbage leaf ends up in the compost heap and there is no kitchen waste because, quite simply, there is no waste. Stale bread is turned into delicious bread pudding and leftover vegetables into a fry-up.

They buy only what they need because they have no fridge. The larder stays cool enough year round and nothing goes rotten. Ever.

They turn off the light if they are not in the room and if they had central heating they would turn that down too. But they don't. They have a fire in one room and the rest of the house is as cold as charity.

You may be starting to smell a rat by now and, yes, I am cheating a little. This virtuous couple with an ecological footprint smaller than a dormouse's paw happens to be my mother and father. It is an accurate picture of how they (and I) lived until I was in my teens. You may very well recognise them if, like me, you were born into a relatively poor working class family 50 or 60 years ago. They were probably your parents too.


It's the cause of climate change that's in question

There are natural temperature fluctuations that affect climate, writes William Kininmonth (Former head of Australia's National Climate Centre)

The Stern report claims there is only a narrow window of opportunity within which the world must act to prevent dangerous climate change. A primary finding is that research since the 2001 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows the climate to be more sensitive to carbon dioxide emissions than thought, thus requiring immediate and drastic action.

Quite properly, Stern recognises that the scientific evidence of human influence on climate is an essential starting point for the economics. It is the science that establishes whether there is a problem, its risk and scale. However, it is in the science discussion that Stern is ignorant of the complexity of climate. The claim that there is no plausible explanation, other than human activities, for the observed warming of the past 30 years is wrong. The report gives no credence to internal variability of the climate system as the ocean and atmosphere fluids interact to transport heat from the tropics to the poles. Nor does it recognise the cyclic centennial to millennial oscillations in the climate record for which there are as yet no agreed explanations. The emergence of Earth from Ice Age conditions 20,000 years ago, when vast ice sheets covering North America and Northern Europe receded, sea level rose 130 metres, and the biosphere expanded and flourished in the warmer, wetter world, is ignored.

Unlike the IPCC, the Stern report does recognise the fading influence of carbon dioxide as concentration increases. Most of the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide is in the first 50 parts per million (ppm). Beyond this the rate of increase of the greenhouse effect rapidly decreases with increasing concentration. There is no argument with Stern's basic finding that the direct increase in the greenhouse effect from a doubling of carbon dioxide is to increase the Earth's surface temperature by about 1 degree.

The argument is with Stern's further claim that there are positive feedbacks in the climate system that act to amplify the direct warming. The latter is at the heart of the alarmist predictions. Stern's simple explanation is that a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapour, also a greenhouse gas, and it is the extra water vapour that amplifies the direct warming effect.

Thus, the direct warming of about 1 degree is projected to become between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees for a doubling of carbon dioxide concentration. The range of projected global warming arises because the amplification can only be estimated using computer models. Stern says that the climate models use the laws of nature and are thus vastly different from those used in economic analyses, "which rely predominantly on curve fitting". The statement that the "accuracy of climate predictions is limited by computer power" is stunning in its ignorance as even the IPCC highlights a range of scientific uncertainties.

Stern fails to identify the important role of evaporation in cooling Earth's surface. As surface temperature rises, evaporation increases at a near exponential rate. This extraction of heat is a strong damping factor to further temperature rise. There will be no runaway greenhouse effect because the fading influence of carbon dioxide and rapid increase of evaporation combine to restrict temperature rise.

Warming from carbon dioxide increase is relatively small in the context of natural climate variability. It follows that a cut in human-caused carbon dioxide emissions will have little impact on the future climate.



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

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

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


6 November, 2006


The Harper government could find itself with a new climate change ally next week as the world gathers in Nairobi, Kenya, to review the United Nations treaty on climate change and its Kyoto Protocol. Although environmentalists have accused the minority Conservatives of turning Canada into an international outlaw for abandoning its Kyoto commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Japan has submitted a proposal to the upcoming conference that could weaken the agreement in its next phase.

Kyoto requires industrialized countries to collectively reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by about five per cent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. But Japan is suggesting intensity targets be considered for the future, without penalties for countries that fall short of their commitments. "We should not rely on penalties to be imposed on countries that fall short of their commitments," reads the Japanese submission. "Instead, we must construct an enabling framework that assists countries that are willing to achieve their GHG reduction targets." Emissions can rise under intensity targets since they're linked to economic growth.

"Japan is in a tough situation because they're one of the countries that's having a real challenge meeting the targets they've set for themselves and so is Canada," Environment Minister Rona Ambrose said in an interview Friday. According to the latest UN figures from 2004, Japan's greenhouse gas emissions were 6.5 per cent above 1990 levels, while Canada's emissions have risen by nearly 27 per cent. However, most European countries are on track to meet their targets and are pushing for tougher commitments beyond 2012. Ottawa is not expecting to set any absolute reduction targets for the next 15 years.

Under Kyoto, industrialized countries are allowed to buy overseas credits on an emissions trading market to help them meet their commitments if they fail to do so through domestic measures. Companies in European countries are already doing so, but the future value of carbon credits is up in the air since there's no deal on mandatory targets beyond 2012. Ottawa has rejected the option of shipping public money overseas. "We are going to be setting an intensity target and build on that target to make it stronger and stronger and more stringent, so that when the technology is available, we can move directly into hard caps on greenhouse gases," said Ambrose, who is planning on attending the last week of discussions before the conference wraps up on Nov. 17. "That's an approach that many other governments take, particularly those that are energy intensive countries that deal with the unique challenges that Canada faces, being a large energy exporter."

Ambrose added Canada is already ahead of a lot of countries since it's proposing mandatory regulations on its industry instead of voluntary agreements. However, the government has criticized Kyoto and intends to push for a thorough review of all aspects of the agreement. "Everyone recognizes that Kyoto was the first good step in the right direction, but we've identified a lot of challenges in the last few years, so this is what Nairobi is about," said Ambrose, who is co-chair of the negotiations.

Although the Conservative government's position on Kyoto has faced mounting international criticism from European leaders such as French President Jacques Chirac, environmentalists say Japan's new proposals are no better. "It would be a weakening of Kyoto after 2012, if the Japanese had their way on this point," said Matthew Bramley, director of climate change policy at the Pembina Institute. "We've got weak penalties right now, we need to be going in the direction of strengthening them, not weakening them. That's clear."

Bramley praised the European Union for setting a goal in its submission of limiting the average increase global temperatures by no more than two degrees Celsius, that would require worldwide reductions in greenhouse gases by 15 to 50 per cent by 2050. "I'm disappointed that Canada is still not acknowledging the environmental limits that have to be respected, particularly in terms of temperature," he said. "The EU is doing that. the EU is advancing the debate in a helpful way."

He said Canada's decision to not honour its Kyoto commitments could also make it harder to convince developing countries such as China and India to come on board and accept targets of their own.

The countries must conclude their current review of what is working or not working with the Kyoto Protocol before they can start negotiating the next phase. "A setback would be to see a lot of sterile discussions on process, and no real sense of moving forward towards an agreement on Kyoto phase two," said Bramley. Ambrose will help open the conference on Monday through a taped video message.



The world's leading energy watchdog gave a lukewarm response to the call by the Stern Review for a global carbon trading system as the way to tackle climate change. The Independent Energy Agency said yesterday it doubted that the scheme would gain sufficient agreement by world governments to be viable. Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist, said he believed the right formula was a mix of increasing energy efficiency in industry and transport, a shift to renewable technologies, and a major investment in nuclear power in countries where it was "acceptable". He said following this path would deliver massive reductions in CO2 emissions as well as meeting the IEA's goal of ensuring governments maintained security over their energy supply.

A carbon market could be part of the answer, but he added: "I don't easily see how easy or how difficult it is to have a global trading framework world-wide with different economic development levels and different policy choices."

Sir Nicholas Stern, a former chief economist at the World Bank, proposed three key policies - putting a price on carbon through trading or tax, boosting low-carbon technologies and encouraging people to change their behaviour. Mr Birol's comments are a hint that Tuesday's IEA World Energy Outlook will not put carbon trading at the top of its list of priorities to tackle the emission of harmful gases by the energy sector.



Earth Track is pleased to announce the release of "Biofuels: At What Cost? - Government Support for Ethanol and Biodiesel in the United States." The report is the first of six country studies of government subsidies to ethanol and biodiesel to be released by the Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) over the next 3-6 months.

The US report provides the most comprehensive survey of subsidies to biofuels to date, cataloging hundreds of government programs that support virtually every stage of production and consumption relating to ethanol and biodiesel. Key findings:

-Subsidies at the state and federal level are at record levels. Because production levels are increasing at double-digit rates and most subsidies are linked to production (and do not phase out even at high oil prices), the level of subsidization is also growing very quickly. The vast majority support corn-based ethanol, despite the relatively moderate benefits of this particular fuel cycle in terms of fossil fuel displacement and greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation.

-County and local subsidies frequently supplement state and federal support. Many county and local governments also subsidize the biofuels industry, though systematic data was not possible to assemble.

-The policies are not well coordinated, and sometimes work at cross purposes. All indications are that subsidies are being piled on top of one another without policy makers having a clear idea of their potential impact on the environment and the economy. Yet the potential for waste on a grand scale and some spectacularly perverse environmental outcomes is large. Water depletion and loss of grasslands are two impacts showing up with increasing frequency.

-Subsidies to biofuels are growing rapidly. Based on 2006 production levels, annual subsidies are between $5.1 and $6.8 billion per year for ethanol and $0.4-$0.5 billion for biodiesel. The high rate of new production is expected to increase these levels to $6.3-$8.7 billion for ethanol and $1.7 to $2.3 billion for biodiesel in the next 2-3 years.

A number of factors suggest even these values are actually on the low side. First, assumptions for 2006 production used to generate our subsidy values are well below the levels now predicted for the year. Second, the fuel-share of crop-based subsidies is based on multi-year historical averages, minimizing the impact of a doubling of corn subsidies in 2005. Third, poor data on state consumption of both biodiesel and ethanol suggest state excise tax exemptions are underestimated by a fairly large margin.

-Subsidies per unit energy output are extremely high. Subsidies per unit energy produced are extremely high, ranging from $9.60 to more than $17 per million Btus (MMBtu). Subsidies per unit of fossil fuel displaced are much higher (over $30 per MMBtu for ethanol and over $20 per MMBtu for biodiesel), reflecting the fact that both corn-based ethanol and biodiesel fuel cycles rely on substantial fossil-fuel inputs. Historical data compiled for the study indicated that throughout the 1980s, subsidies to ethanol per unit energy produced were higher than any other energy source. Biodiesel was neither subsidized nor produced in commercial quantities during that time frame.

-Biofuels subsidies are a very high cost approach to reduce GHG emissions. Although biofuels offer some GHG mitigation benefits, the gains are moderate and quite expensive. Even under the most optimistic estimates regarding GHG displacement from corn-based ethanol, the cost per metric ton of CO2 equivalent displaced is well over $500. This could purchase more than 140 tons of carbon offsets on the Chicago Climate Exchange.

-Hypothetical cellulosic case still indicates high cost strategy. Even if one assumed all current production were yielding cellulosic ethanol rather than corn-based (cellulosic has a much more favorable fossil fuel and GHG displacement ratio), subsidies were still quite high: more than $10 per MMBtu of fossil fuel displaced; and more than $100 per mt CO2 equivalent displaced.

-Proliferation of subsidies to all transport fuels should stop; alternative strategies deployed. The report concludes that there is an urgent need to examine the claimed benefits from biofuel subsidies, and to compare them with the costs of meeting the same goals in other ways. It recommends a cessation of all new subsidies to transport fuels (including oil), and an effort to phase out existing ones quickly. Any remaining subsidies should be opened to competition to make them more efficient for the taxpayer, and more tightly aligned with environmental objectives of fuel diversification.

More here

Got a problem? Blame global warming!

From allergies to maple syrup shortages to yellow fever: apparently every contemporary ill is caused by climate change -- as Prof. Brignell shows below:

‘It’s all them atom bombs what’s doing it.’ That is what the old dears used to say in the event of unusual weather when I was growing up in the back streets of Tottenham in north London. There is something deep in the human psyche that requires a cause to be identified for every effect. Presumably this has an evolutionary advantage: man the toolmaker was able to turn abstract concepts, such as consequence and purpose, to his benefit.

Mind you, even in those far off innocent days they did not fly into a panic, as now, over a mild October. They just enjoyed it. They even had a term for it – Indian Summer. What a fine example of ratchet reporting we have seen in recent weeks, with almost every British newspaper showing horror pictures of… late flowering gardens. Yet they studiously ignored the fact that this has been the year without a spring, when the tree blossom was a month late (see these pictures from my website, Numberwatch, as illustration).

That instinct has been a gift for the shamans of each age, ours no less than those that went before. Now carbon, the very stuff of life, has been cast in the role of original sin and its dioxide, absolutely essential to the existence of life on earth, condemned as a pollutant. Just as deviation from the strictures of the gods resulted in calamities such as floods and earthquakes in the past, so our new godless religion decrees that every disaster and minor discomfort arises from our engagement in industry, progress and the pursuit of well-being.

When I began to compile the complete list of things caused by global warming (see below), I was only too aware of the facile dismissal that was casually levelled at my complete list of things that give you cancer: ‘He made it all up!’ So, I only included things for which I could provide a link. That list of over three hundred items is still growing daily, thanks to the efforts of number watchers around the world, and contains some remarkable and delightfully contradictory examples. A new raft of entries has now come in from the Stern Report. These include notably an increase in gender inequalities with men migrating and women subject to impoverishment, forced marriage, labour exploitation, trafficking and natural disasters. You could not make that up – it is beyond satire.

What is not a cause for jocularity is the evidence that all this provides for putrefaction in the groves of academe: for most of these excesses emanate from university departments, and are by people rejoicing in the debased title of professor. Not only does it illustrate the pathetic race to grovel before the priesthood of political correctness, who have seized control of research funding all over the world, it also reveals a loss of that sense of proportion that was once the backbone of experimental science.

The telling phrase ‘lost in the noise’ has simply got lost in the noise. Only a quarter of a century ago, if anyone had claimed that a temperature change of 0.6 degrees Celsius would cause such a drastic change in precipitation that it would in turn trigger earthquakes, it would have been met with universal howls of derision. Now it is just par for the course and any derision would be censored by editors of newspapers and even, heaven help us, scientific journals.

What is it about humanity that provokes this addiction to scaremongering? In the seventies, when the scare was global cooling, there was still a residue of that scepticism that was the legacy of British philosophers.  From the Bacons, through the likes of Locke, Hume and Russell, to the magnificent climax of Popper’s statement of the principle of falsifiability, the scientific method was painfully established, only to be abandoned in a few short decades. The method was essentially sceptical, as Thomas Huxley put it:

The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.

All gone, alas!

A complete list of things caused by global warming:

(Each list item is linked to a news story. However, this list has been compiled over a period of time, so some links may no longer work.)

Agricultural land increase, Africa devastated, African aid threatened, air pressure changes, Alaska reshaped, allergies increase, Alps melting, Amazon a desert, American dream endamphibians breeding earlier (or not)ancient forests dramatically changed, Antarctic grass flourishes, anxietyalgal blooms, Arctic bogs melt, Asthma, atmospheric defianceatmospheric circulation modified, avalanches reduced, avalanches increasedbananas destroyed, bananas grow, bet for $10,000,  better beer, big melt faster, billion dollar research projects, billions of deaths, bird distributions change, birds return early, blackbirds stop singing, blizzards, blue mussels return, boredom, Britain Siberian, British gardens change, bubonic plague, budget increases, building season extension, bushfires, business opportunities, business risksbutterflies move northcardiac arrest, caterpillar biomass shift, challenges and opportunities, Cholera, civil unrest, cloud increase, cloud stripping,   cod go south, cold climate creatures survive, cold spells (Australia), computer models, conferences, coral bleaching, coral reefs dying, coral reefs grow, coral reefs shrink , cold spells, cost of trillions, crumbling roads, buildings and sewage systems, cyclones (Australia), damages equivalent to $200 billionDengue hemorrhagic fever, dermatitis, desert advance, desert life threatened, desert retreatdestruction of the environment, diarrhoea, disappearance of coastal citiesdiseases move north, Dolomites collapse, drought, drowning peopleducks and geese decline, dust bowl in the corn belt, early spring, earlier pollen seasonEarth biodiversity crisis, Earth dying, Earth even hotter, Earth light dimming, Earth lopsided, Earth melting, Earth morbid fever, Earth on fast track, Earth past point of no return, Earth slowing down, Earth spinning out of control, Earth to explode, earth upside downEarth wobbling, earthquakes, El Niño intensification, erosion, emerging infections, encephalitis, Europe simultaneously baking and freezing,   evolution accelerating, expansion of university climate groups, extinctions (human, civilisation,  logic, Inuit, smallest butterfly, cod, ladybirds, bats, pandas, pikas, polar bears, pigmy possums, gorillas, koalaswalrus, whales, frogs, toads, turtles, orang-utanelephants, tigers, plants, salmon, troutwild flowers, woodlice, penguins, a million species, half of all animal and plant species, less, not polar bears), experts muzzled, extreme changes to California, faminefarmers go under, figurehead sacked, fish catches drop fish catches rise, fish stocks decline, five million illnesses, floods,  Florida economic decline, food poisoningfood prices rise, food security threat (SA)footpath erosion, forest decline, forest expansion, frosts, fungi invasion, Garden of Eden wilts, genetic diversity decline, gene pools slashed, glacial retreat,  glacial growth, glacier wrapped, global cooling, global dimming, glowing clouds, Gore omnipresence, grandstanding, grasslands wetter, Great Barrier Reef 95% dead, Great Lakes dropgreening of the NorthGulf Stream failure, habitat loss, Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome,   harvest increase, harvest shrinkage, hay fever epidemic, hazardous waste sites breached, heat waves,  hibernation ends too soon, hibernation ends too late, high court debates, human fertility reduced, human health improvement, human health risk, hurricanes, hydropower problems, hyperthermia deaths, ice sheet growth, ice sheet shrinkage, inclement weather, infrastructure failure (Canada), Inuit displacement, Inuit poisoned, Inuit suing, industry threatened, infectious diseasesinsurance premium rises, invasion of midges island disappears, islands sinking, itchier poison ivy, jellyfish explosion, Kew Gardens taxed, krill decline, lake and stream productivity decline, landslides, landslides of ice at 140 mph, lawsuits increaselawsuit successful,  lawyers’ income increased (surprise, surprise!), lightning related insurance claims, little response in the atmosphere, Lyme diseaseMalaria, malnutrition,  Maple syrup shortage, marine diseases, marine food chain decimated, marine dead zone, Meaching (end of the world), megacryometeors, Melanoma, methane emissions from plants, methane burps, melting permafrost, Middle Kingdom convulses, migration, migration difficult (birds), microbes to decompose soil carbon more rapidly, more bad air days,   more research neededmountain (Everest) shrinking,  mountains break up, mountains taller, mudslides,  next ice age, Nile delta damaged, no effect in India nuclear plants bloomoaks move north, ocean acidification, outdoor hockey threatenedoyster diseases, ozone loss, ozone repair slowed, ozone rise, Pacific dead zone, personal carbon rationingpest outbreaks, pests increasephenology shiftsplankton blooms, plankton destabilised, plankton loss, plant virusesplants march north polar bears aggressive, polar bears cannibalistic polar bears drowning, polar bears starvepolar tours scrapped, psychosocial disturbances, railroad tracks deformed, rainfall increase, rainfall reduction, refugees, reindeer larger, release of ancient frozen viruses, resorts disappear, rice yields crash,  rift on Capitol Hill, rioting and nuclear war, rivers raised, rivers dry up, rockfalls, rocky peaks crack apart, roof of the world a desert, Ross river diseasesalinity reduction, salinity increaseSalmonella, salmon stronger, sea level rise, sea level rise faster, sex change, sharks booming, shrinking ponds, ski resorts threatened, slow death, smog, snowfall increase, snowfall reduction,  societal collapse, songbirds change eating habits, sour grapes, spiders invade Scotland, squid population explosion, squirrels reproduce earlier, spectacular orchids, stormwater drains stressed, taxes, tectonic plate movement, terrorism, ticks move northward (Sweden), tides rise, tourism increase, trade winds weakened, tree beetle attacks, tree foliage increase (UK), tree growth slowed, trees could return to Antarctic, trees less colourfultrees more colourful, tropics expansion, tropopause raised, tsunamis, turtles lay earlier, UK Katrina, Venice flooded, volcanic eruptions, walrus pups orphaned, war, wars over water, water bills double, water supply unreliabilitywater scarcity (20% of increase), water stress, weather out of its mind, weather patterns awry, weeds, Western aid cancelled outWest Nile fever, whales move north, wheat yields crushed in Australia, white Christmas dream ends, wildfireswind shift, wind reduced,  wine - harm to Australian industry, wine industry damage (California) wine industry disaster (US) wine - more English, wine -German boon, wine - no more French winters in Britain colder, wolves eat more moose, wolves eat less, workers laid off, World bankruptcy, World in crisis, Yellow fever


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

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

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


5 November, 2006


The British government has vastly underestimated the costs of its green agenda, which could turn out to be up to five times more expensive than ministers are predicting, according to a leaked United Nations (UN) report obtained by The Business. The action recommended by the British Stern Review - keeping greenhouse gas levels at 550 parts per million - would cost up to 5% of global gross domestic product (GDP), according to the UN. This is in stark contrast with the Stern review, which says it will probably cost only 1%. This much lower number is used by Stern to make the case for immediate action and steep taxes to cut back on the emission of greenhouse gases. But the UN estimate undermine Stern's economic rationale.

Stern also said the cost of not acting could be 5% to 20% of global GDP. If the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change figures are right, they open up the possibility that the British proposals would cost as much as they save, making them redundant. The new UN figures, exclusive to The Business, come from a draft copy of the 2007 review of the IPCC, which is the acknowledged global authority on climate change science. The Stern review itself was explicitly based on the IPCC's last report, which didn't calculate the cost of stabilising emissions.

Embarrassingly for the British government, the IPCC has done its own sums on restricting greenhouse gas emission to various levels and has found each of the targets far more expensive than the Stern review claimed.

The debate on what to do about global warming has focused on what target to set for greenhouse gas concentrations, now at 430 parts per million (ppm). On current economic trajectory, it is feared they could reach 700ppm by the end of the century.The Stern review directly links global warming scenarios to greenhouse gas concentration levels. At 550ppm, the studies quoted in the review claim the planet is likely to warm by 3řC. Stern considers this to be dangerous, but not catastrophic. The European Union has set a target of 450ppm but the Stern review said this is unlikely to be achieved because developing economies are growing so quickly. However, the 650ppm limit was shown by Stern as inviting catastrophic climate change.

So the review looks closely at the case for keeping emissions to 550ppm, which it underplays. Stern's executive summary states: "An upper bound for the expected annual cost of emissions consistent with a trajectory leading to stabilisation at 550ppm is likely to be 1% of GDP by 2050."

But the draft copy of the IPCC's Fourth Annual Review, due for publication next year, finds the cost of achieving the same goal to be between "1% and 5% loss of global GDP". The less-ambitious target of stabilising emissions at 650ppm would cost less than 2% of GDP.

The Stern review team would not comment on the draft report as it has not been published. But The Business understands that the leaks were made available to its scientists at the time of compilation.

Sir Nicholas Stern, a former World Bank economist now working for the British Treasury, has admitted from the offset that his report could only work if it was agreed on a global basis. Ministers are to travel to India and America to promote his findings.But being contradicted by IPCC research hardly helps Britain's case, since the IPCC figures are the only ones used to frame the global debate. The leaked UN draft is circulating on the internet and will serve to undermine Stern's authority.

Though the Stern review was received to universal acclaim in London, it has been attacked in other parts of the world for being alarmist and, in some cases, incompetent. His nightmare scenario - global warming costing between 5% to 20% of GDP - was achieved by using an unusually low discount rate in his calculations. This is a standard device to justify investments with a long-term payoff.

The 11-member Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) has already given the Stern Review a cold reception. Mohammed Barkindo, Secretary-General of Opec, attacked the report at an energy conference in Moscow."We find some of the so-called initiatives of the rich industrialised countries, who are supposed to take the lead in combating climate change, rather alarming," he said. Adaptation to climate change, he added, cannot be conducted by "scenarios that have no foundations in either science or economics (referring to the Stern report's publication)".

In Washington, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) said the Stern review would have no traction internationally as its economic mistakes would be instantly recognised by experts in the field. "Stern's costs are actually more expensive than doing nothing about climate change itself," said Iain Murray, senior fellow at CEI specialising in climate change. "This is 'Chicken Little' stuff," said Murray, "except Chicken Little wasn't trying to scare the public in order to create Enron-style con games and line the pockets of Wall Street bankers at the expense of consumers."

This opprobrium sharply contrasts with the Stern review's reception in London, where his conclusions were welcomed by business and accepted by all mainstream British political parties.


Celebs Mislead Californians on Air Pollution Threat

What do Bill Clinton and Julia Roberts know about air pollution and health in California? The answer can only be "not much," based on their statements in support of the California ballot measure known as Proposition 87 which would tax oil to fund alternative energy research. "We're all victims of this state's tragically poor air quality. California has the worst air pollution in the nation," claims Roberts. Clinton says that air pollution prevents Californians from "living out the full lives they deserve to have."

It's true that much of California doesn't meet federal air quality standards. Nine of the top ten "smoggiest" counties in the nation and seven of the top ten "sootiest" counties in the nation are in California. But failure to meet federal air quality standards (called nonattainment in EPA-speak) or having the "smoggiest" and "sootiest" counties doesn't mean that California air significantly threatens state public health.

First, the federal air quality standards are not really health-based standards - no scientific studies show that the standards (or any range around them) serve as actual demarcation points for healthy versus unhealthy air quality. The existing standards were scientifically controversial when the Clinton-era EPA first proposed them in 1996 -- time and science have yet to validate them as improving public health. In fact, California seems to be doing quite well health-wise despite its nonattainment issues.

"What does [nonattainment] mean in the real lives of people?" Clinton asked at a speech at UCLA on Oct. 14. "It means more asthma, more bronchitis, [and] more lung cancer. It means heart disease, lung disease and premature death," he said. But are any of Clinton's claims true? The prevalence of asthma in California was below the U.S. national average (7.7 percent vs. 8.1 percent), according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. California has a lower asthma rate than most states that fully meet (attain) federal air quality standards. California's death rate from chronic lower respiratory disease (CLRD) -- including emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma -- was 20 percent below the U.S. average (34.4 vs. 42.2 per 100,000 people).

Even within the state there appears to be little correlation between air pollution and respiratory problems. Los Angeles County has by the far the most Californians exposed to nonattainment air, yet it has a relatively low death rate from CLRD. In contrast, Humboldt County is in attainment yet has one of the state's highest CLRD death rates.

How about lung cancer risk? For men, California ranks in the lowest quartile among states ranked by the CDC. For women, California ranks in the next-to-lowest quartile. Attainment states like Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin all have much similar or much higher lung cancer rates.

By the way, a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology (Oct. 24) could find no support for the proposition that gasoline exhaust increases lung cancer risk.

California's heart disease rate is also below the national average (504 vs. 536 annual deaths per 100,000 people). The rate for Los Angeles County, which supposedly has the "riskiest" air in the state, is on par with the national average. Attainment states like Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma all have substantially higher heart disease rates than California. With respect to premature death, California has the fourth lowest death rate among the states -- a death rate roughly one-third lower than that of attainment states.

Clinton also warned that, "At the age of two months, babies in Los Angeles have already breathed enough toxins to reach the EPA's lifetime limit for cancer risk from dirty air." Putting aside the question of whether these toxins actually increase cancer risk, Clinton basically implies that California air virtually guarantees that Californians will get cancer. But according to the CDC, the cancer rates for California men and women are about 9 percent and 6 percent below the national average, respectively. California's cancer rates are below those of attainment states such as North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.

So what is to be made of the fact that while most of California doesn't meet federal air quality standards, the state's population doesn't appear to be adversely impacted? Moreover, Californians seem healthier than the populations of states in full attainment with federal standards. Could it be that California's current air pollution levels, in reality, have little, if anything, to do with its public health? If so - and the evidence certainly points to that conclusion - then it seems that Proposition 87 would have a similarly negligible impact on public health. Yes, California should work to improve its air quality -- but success is more likely to follow from a firm grasp on the actual relationship between air pollution and health, rather than political rhetoric from know-nothing celebrities.


Playing politics with the weather: Radical prescriptions will cause, not avert, disaster

An editorial from "The Australian":

It's easy being green, at least for politicians who would rather play politics than balance community fear that the present drought is the shape of climate change to come against the need to keep the export economy, and everybody's electric powered appliances, ticking over. This week, the Government was caught flat-footed by the media response to Nicholas Stern's report on climate change. Despite counselling caution in the way we consider the nature and effects of climate change, the Prime Minister did what he always does when he finds himself flat-footed: he spent money, this time on new alternative energy programs. Labor leader Kim Beazley, seeing a chance to make the issue his own went further, hammering Mr Howard for not signing the Kyoto Protocol and promising to focus research on alternative energy so that Australia could cut its greenhouse emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

Mr Beazley's position appears politically astute. By making the Prime Minister look like he has been asleep on the climate change watch, the Labor leader appeals to journalists, and every other self-appointed opinion-maker, who believes Australian coalminers are climate-change public enemy number one, with number two being everybody who drives a 4WD or owns an airconditioner. And he has delivered the Labor Left the sort of symbolic issue it loves to campaign on, because it asserts their moral superiority over people who it believes are obsessed with economics.

Or at least some of the Labor Left, because the faction does not sing one song on how to balance the environment and economics. While environment spokesman Anthony Albanese praises alternative energy and preaches the evils of nuclear power as a replacement for coal, other Labor voices quietly chorus other ideas. The mining unions are keen on coal and some of them see nuclear energy as a way of providing clean power that generates jobs for Australians, and more members for them. And while the Labor line is now set for the next election, it is a fair bet that MPs and candidates looking for ways to win back the electorates lost to Mr Howard's mantra of economic growth will wonder whether the Opposition Leader is on the right track.

And they may wonder whether the Mr Howard has already lured Mr Beazley into a trap that will not be sprung until the next election. There is also no doubting the Prime Minister looked like he was making policy on the run this week. But there is no doubting that the distinction between the two men is now clear. On the one hand, Mr Howard is making not entirely convincing claims that the Government takes global warming seriously and is investing in technology to make coal cleaner and reduce Australia's output of greenhouse gas. But he is not walking away from the importance of energy - especially coal - exports to economic growth. And it would be hard to find a middle-income Australian couple with kids who does not know that their tax cuts and family payments depend to a great extent on the government revenue generated by the minerals boom.

There is no doubting that the world is warming. The question is how to address the issue. Mr Howard is keeping with the oft-misrepresented spirit of the Stern report, which does not call for radical solutions such as an immediate (and impossible) switch to solar energy but rather market-based solutions and the development of clean technologies such as the geosequestration of waste gasses from coal-fired power plants. Here Australia already has a leg up, with $500 million earmarked for the development of low-emissions technology. The signing of the Kyoto Protocol would do nothing to help the global environment while doing great harm to the Australian economy.

Although this newspaper remains healthily sceptical about the possible causes of and solutions to global warming, the Stern report landed at a time when concerns with global warming are very much on the community agenda, thanks to such events as Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth. But while Mr Gore's film was alarmist and, critics say, based on dubious science, the Stern review is a good deal more sober. Yet much of the coverage of Sir Nicholas's work has come from the Chicken Little school of journalism, fundamentally twisting the report to support the arguments of hairshirt environmentalists who see middle-class Australian voters as lazy, greedy sheep whose addiction to consumer appliances and automobiles is killing the planet. Any carbon-trading regime or price-signalling mechanism Australia does eventually sign on to will have to be designed in such a way that we are not disproportionately punished for our vast stores of coal or the extra carbon-consuming distances it takes our products to reach export markets around the world.

It is easy to indulge in juvenile jeremiads about the need to do away with killer coal as a power source, as long as you ignore two simple facts. Without coal exports Australia goes broke. And without greenhouse gas emitting coal fired power stations, now and for the foreseeable future, we would enjoy a clean green lifestyle, with all the mod cons of the middle ages. It is doubtful that the Prime Minister's greenhouse initiatives will be enough to assuage his opponents who will be well pleased with Mr Beazley's position.

But the risk for Labor is that appealing to the bishops and broadcasters, the academics and activists who denounce Australians for emitting greenhouse gases Mr Beazley may frighten ordinary Australians into worrying what their children will do for a living if our energy exporting economy is cut back. The Labor leader may be right. Perhaps the picture that will win the next election is a power station belching greenhouse gases. But if he is wrong an entirely different image will define the election, one we saw in the 2004 campaign when Tasmanian timber workers cheered Mr Howard for promising to protect them from then Labor leader Mark Latham's sell-out to the Greens on another environmental issue.

Australian nuclear power coming

A public debate on nuclear energy will follow the publication of a taskforce report on the viability of the industry, Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane has said. Prime Minister John Howard's hand-picked nuclear energy taskforce will find that a nuclear industry could be commercially viable within 15 years, giving the green light to the Prime Minister to radically shake up Australia's energy market. Former Telstra boss Ziggy Switkowski's review will also find the cost of nuclear power should come down dramatically as more global powers invest in the technology and the cost of fossil fuels go up.

Last night, Mr Macfarlane said a 15-year timeframe was "very realistic", offering an optimistic assessment from the Howard Government on the way forward for nuclear power. Mr Macfarlane also said a high-level report, to be released next week by the International Energy Agency, will give added weight to those backing nuclear power. Today, Mr Macfarlane has said a full public debate will follow the release of the report, expected in the next fortnight. "What we are seeing in the community is a willingness now to consider nuclear energy," Mr Macfarlane has said. "We are seeing reports like the Switkowski report which will indicate that nuclear energy will be competitive with low emission coal within 15 years. "We want to see debate that is based in understanding and knowledge not a debate based on scare tactics," he has said. He has said a nuclear power option will not be pursued in the face of widespread public opposition.

The release of Dr Switkowski's draft in two weeks will bolster Mr Howard's push to make nuclear power a central element of his election campaign. The Government this week sharpened its policy differences with Labor on energy following the release in London on Tuesday of a report by former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern calling for more urgent co-ordinated action to tackle climate change. The Opposition wants to ratify the existing Kyoto agreement, sign up to a global emissions trading system and give a stronger focus on renewable energy.

The Europe-based IEA, in its world energy outlook, will urge governments to speed up construction of new nuclear power plants, as part of the response to the climate change issue. "No doubt it will give impetus (to the nuclear debate)," Mr Macfarlane said.

Mr Howard yesterday ruled out any approach to fighting climate change that strips Australia of its competitive advantage as a heavy user of carbon-based fossil fuels with rich deposits of coal and gas. But nuclear power may be a partial solution, with the Switkowski review expected to find that the relative cost of nuclear power will come down amid a renewed focus worldwide on the technology driven by soaring energy needs and the fight against atmospheric pollution caused by fossil fuels. While it will find nuclear power is not competitive on a cost basis with coal-based power generation today, it anticipates the costs of using carbon fuels will rise over the next decade as some sort of carbon price signal is implemented to slow global warming. It will say the Government could make a decision to move ahead with nuclear power now, even given the cost differentials, and "by the time the first reactor was (reliably) delivering electricity the cost differential would have almost disappeared", according to a source.

Earlier this week, Mr Howard gave a strong signal he expected nuclear to play a role in Australia's energy future, when nuclear power on the one hand became competitive with clean coal on the other. "The point at which those two cross each other is, at this stage, impossible to precisely determine," he said. "When we have Ziggy Switkowski's report, we may have a better idea of where the two relate to each other." The report is expected to give hope to nuclear proponents, who are already taking steps to bridge the skills gap Australia has in key nuclear fields with new university courses.

Mr Howard yesterday vowed to do all he could to fight climate change, short of anything that cost Australia its comparative economic advantages. "In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions you have to adjust the use of all of those things where we have a comparative advantage, that is fossil fuels, because they're the basis of a lot of our wealth," he said. "We've got to be very careful that the adjustment process doesn't unfairly disadvantage Australia. The cost to this country of losing our comparative advantage in things like gas and coal would be enormous, it would be jobs and investment lost."

Opposition resources spokesman Martin Ferguson said "nuclear power is an important part of the energy security and climate change debate for Europe, Asia and North America". "That is why Australia's uranium is now so sought after ... Australia is energy rich. We are the envy of the world," he said. "The only energy security issue Australia has is in transport fuels and that's why this Government has got to get serious about converting our vast reserves of gas and coal into clean diesel."



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

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

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4 November, 2006

Climate Non-Conformity

Two scientific events of note occurred this week, but only one got any media coverage. Therein lies a story about modern politics and scientific priorities

The report that received the headlines was Monday's 700-page jeremiad out of London on fighting climate change. Commissioned by the British government and overseen by former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern, the report made the intentionally shocking prediction that global warming could eliminate from 5% to 20% of world economic output "forever." Meanwhile, doing the supposedly virtuous thing and trying to forestall this catastrophe would cost merely an estimated 1% of world GDP. Thus we must act urgently and with new taxes and policies that go well beyond anything in the failed Kyoto Protocol.

The other event was a meeting at the United Nations organized by economist Bjorn Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus Center. Ambassadors from 24 countries--including Australia, China, India and the U.S.--mulled which problems to address if the world suddenly found an extra $50 billion lying around. Mr. Lomborg's point is that, in a world with scarce resources, you need priorities. The consensus was that communicable diseases, sanitation and water, malnutrition and hunger, and education were all higher priorities than climate change.

We invited Mr. Lomborg to address the Stern report, and he takes apart its analysis brick-by-brick here. To our reading, there isn't much left of this politicized edifice. But we'd stress a couple of points ourselves.

The first is that the Stern review almost surely understates the real costs of combating climate change. The International Energy Agency has estimated that the world must spend $16 trillion on infrastructure from 2001 to 2030 just to meet growing energy demand. That by itself would be 1% of GDP over that period. And that doesn't include the cost of moving to carbon-free power from fossil fuels, or the financial "incentives"--i.e., global subsidies from Western taxpayers--that China and India would need if the Stern report's policies were to have any chance of being implemented. The Stern review also calls for substantially increasing taxes, which we know from experience would also reduce global GDP and thus leave fewer resources to fight the consequences of any warming.

The second point is that the Stern report barely mentions the potential benefits from warming in the world's cold-weather regions. Al Gore and others warn about the damage from coastal flooding and changing weather patterns, among other horror scenarios. But the world is large and its climate diverse, and a longer growing season in Siberia or Canada is at least one possible benefit of warming. The Stern report also dismisses any chance of moderate warming (meaning temperatures in 2100 only two to three degrees Celsius higher than in 1900), even though many climate models say this is in fact the most likely outcome

Unlike the Stern report and its patrons, those of us who take a skeptical approach to these doomsday climate scenarios aren't trying to end the discussion. The Earth is warmer now than it was in the recent past, and this may be partly attributable to human behavior. But everything else--from how much warmer, to the extent of mankind's contribution, to the cost of doing something about it--remains very much in dispute.

Some of the Stern review's recommendations, such as carbon trading rights, are also worth debating. But most of its proposals are merely openings for government to expand its role in allocating investment, raising taxes and otherwise controlling economic decisions. Socialism was supposed to have died with the Soviet Union, but it is making a comeback under the guise of coping with global warming.

Meanwhile, there are far more urgent, and far less speculative, problems that we know how to solve with the right policies. That message may not get scary headlines, but it would improve the lives of more human beings around the world.



The report on climate change by Nicholas Stern and the U.K. government has sparked publicity and scary headlines around the world. Much attention has been devoted to Mr. Stern's core argument that the price of inaction would be extraordinary and the cost of action modest. Unfortunately, this claim falls apart when one actually reads the 700-page tome. Despite using many good references, the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is selective and its conclusion flawed. Its fear-mongering arguments have been sensationalized, which is ultimately only likely to make the world worse off.

The review correctly points out that climate change is a real problem, and that it is caused by human greenhouse-gas emissions. Little else is right, however, and the report seems hastily put-together, with many sloppy errors. As an example, the cost of hurricanes in the U.S. is said to be both 0.13% of U.S. GDP and 10 times that figure.

The review is also one-sided, focusing almost exclusively on carbon-emission cuts as the solution to the problem of climate change. Mr. Stern sees increasing hurricane damage in the U.S. as a powerful argument for carbon controls. However, hurricane damage is increasing predominantly because there are more people with more goods to be damaged, settling in ever more risky habitats. Even if global warming does significantly increase the power of hurricanes, it is estimated that 95% to 98% of the increased damage will be due to demographics. The review acknowledges that simple initiatives like bracing and securing roof trusses and walls can cheaply reduce damage by more than 80%; yet its policy recommendations on expensive carbon reductions promise to cut the damages by 1% to 2% at best. That is a bad deal.

Mr. Stern is also selective, often seeming to cherry-pick statistics to fit an argument. This is demonstrated most clearly in the review's examination of the social damage costs of CO2--essentially the environmental cost of emitting each extra ton of CO2. The most well-recognized climate economist in the world is probably Yale University's William Nordhaus, whose "approach is perhaps closest in spirit to ours," according to the Stern review. Mr. Nordhaus finds that the social cost of CO2 is $2.50 per ton. Mr. Stern, however, uses a figure of $85 per ton. Picking a rate even higher than the official U.K. estimates--that have themselves been criticized for being over the top--speaks volumes.

Mr. Stern tells us that the cost of U.K. flooding will quadruple to 0.4% from 0.1% of GDP due to climate change. However, we are not told that these alarming figures only hold true if one assumes that the U.K. will take no additional measures--essentially doing absolutely nothing and allowing itself to get flooded, perhaps time and again. In contrast, the U.K. government's own assumptions take into account a modest increase in flood prevention, finding that the cost will actually decline sharply to 0.04% of U.K. GDP, in spite of climate change. Why does Mr. Stern not share that information?

But nowhere is the imbalance clearer than in Mr. Stern's central argument about the costs and benefits of action on climate change. The review tells us that we should make significant cuts in carbon emissions to stabilize the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide at 550 ppm (parts per million). Yet such a stark recommendation is not matched by an explicit explanation of what this would mean in terms of temperature.

The U.N. Climate Panel estimates that stabilizing at 550 ppm would mean an increase in temperature of about 2.3 degrees Celsius in the year 2100. This might be several degrees below what would otherwise happen, but it might also be higher. Mr. Nordhaus estimates that the stabilization policy would reduce the rise in temperature from 2.53 degrees Celsius to just 2.42 degrees Celsius. One can understand the reluctance of the Stern review to advertise such a puny effect.

Most economists were surprised by Mr. Stern's large economic estimates of damage from global warming. Mr. Nordhaus's model, for example, anticipates 3% will be wiped off global GDP if nothing is done over the coming century, taking into account the risk for catastrophes. The Stern review purports to show that the cost is "larger than many earlier studies suggested."

On the face of it, Mr. Stern actually accepts Mr. Nordhaus's figure: Even including risks of catastrophe and non-market costs, he agrees that an increase of four degrees Celsius will cost about 3% of GDP. But he assumes that we will continue to pump out carbon far into the 22nd century--a rather unlikely scenario given the falling cost of alternative fuels, and especially if some of his predictions become clear to us toward the end of this century. Thus he estimates that the higher temperatures of eight degrees Celsius in the 2180s will be very damaging, costing 11% to 14% of GDP.

The Stern review then analyzes what the cost would be if everyone in the present and the future paid equally. Suddenly the cost estimate is not 0% now and 3% in 2100--but 11% of GDP right now and forever. If this seems like a trick, it is certainly underscored by the fact that the Stern review picks an extremely low discount rate, which makes the cost look much more ominous now.

But even 11% is not the last word. Mr. Stern suggests that there is a risk that the cost of global warming will be higher than the top end of the U.N. climate panel's estimates, inventing, in effect, a "worst-case scenario" even worse than any others on the table. Therefore, the estimated damage to GDP jumps to 15% from 11%. Moreover, Mr. Stern admonishes that poor people count for less in the economic calculus, so he then inflates 15% to 20%.

This figure, 20%, was the number that rocketed around the world, although it is simply a much-massaged reworking of the standard 3% GDP cost in 2100--a figure accepted among most economists to be a reasonable estimate.

Likewise, Mr. Stern readjusts the cost of dealing with climate change. The U.N. found that the cost of 550 ppm stabilization would be somewhere around 0.2% to 3.2% of GDP today; he reports that costs could lie between -4% and 15% of GDP. The -4% is based on the suggestion that cutting carbon emissions could make us richer because revenue recycling could address inefficiencies in taxation--but the alleged inefficiencies, if correct, should be addressed no matter what the policies about climate change. The reason Mr. Stern nevertheless finds a very low cost estimate is because he only considers models with so-called Induced Technological Change. These models are known to reduce costs by about two percentage points because carbon cuts lead to an increase in research and development, which again makes further cuts cheaper. Thus Mr. Stern concludes that the costs are on average 1% of GDP, and in the summary actually claims that this is a maximum cost

The Stern review's cornerstone argument for immediate and strong action now is based on the suggestion that doing nothing about climate change costs 20% of GDP now, and doing something only costs 1%. However, this argument hinges on three very problematic assumptions.

First, it assumes that if we act, we will not still have to pay. But this is not so--Mr. Stern actually tells us that his solution is "already associated with significant risks." Second, it requires the cost of action to be as cheap as he tells us--and on this front his numbers are at best overly optimistic. Third, and most importantly, it requires the cost of doing nothing to be a realistic assumption: But the 20% of GDP figure is inflated by an unrealistically pessimistic vision of the 22nd century, and by an extreme and unrealistically low discount rate. According to the background numbers in Mr. Stern's own report, climate change will cost us 0% now and 3% of GDP in 2100, a much more informative number than the 20% now and forever.

In other words: Given reasonable inputs, most cost-benefit models show that dramatic and early carbon reductions cost more than the good they do. Mr. Stern's attempt to challenge that understanding is based on a chain of unlikely assumptions.

Moreover, there is a fourth major problem in Mr. Stern's argument that has received very little attention. It seems naive to believe that the world's 192 nations can flawlessly implement Mr. Stern's multitrillion-dollar, century-long policy proposal. Will nobody try to avoid its obligations? Why would China and India even participate? And even if China got on board, would it be able to implement the policies? In 2002, China decided to cut sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 10%--they are now 27% higher despite SO2 being nationally a much bigger health and environmental problem than climate change.



By Lord Lawson

(Nigel Lawson is a former British Chancellor of the Exchequer and Secretary of State for Energy. Excerpts only below:)

The Centre for Policy Studies has kindly agreed to publish a greatly extended version of this lecture as a pamphlet, in which I will be able to do greater justice to that complexity and to quote the sources of a number of the statements I propose to make this evening. It will also enable me to deal at slightly greater length with the scaremongering Stern Report, published earlier this week. But the essence of it is what I have to say tonight.

But first, a very brief comment on Stern. If scaremongering seems a trifle harsh, I should point out that, as a good civil servant, he was simply doing his masters' bidding. As Mr Blair's guru, Lord Giddens (the inventor of the so-called third way), laid down in this context in a speech last year, "In order to manage risk, you must scare people". In fact, the voluminous Stern Report adds disappointingly little to what was already the conventional wisdom - apart from a battery of essentially spurious statistics based on theoretical models and conjectural worst cases.

This is clearly no basis for policy decisions which could have the most profound adverse effect on people's lives, and at a cost which Stern almost certainly underestimates. It is, in a very real sense, the story of the Iraq war, writ large.

So let us get back to basics, and seek the answers to three questions, of increasing complexity. First, is global warming occurring? Second, if so, why? And third, what should be done about it? As to the first question, there is of course little doubt that the twentieth century ended warmer than it began. According to the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, an offshoot of Britain's Met Office: "Although there is considerable year-to-year variability in annual-mean global temperature, an upward trend can be clearly seen; firstly over the period from about 1920-1940, with little change or a small cooling from 1940-1975, followed by a sustained rise over the last three decades since then."

This last part is a trifle disingenuous, since what the graph actually shows is that the sustained rise took place entirely during the last quarter of the last century. Moreover, according to the Hadley Centre's data, there has so far been no further global warming since 1998. Whether the seven-year hiatus since then marks a change of trend or merely an unexplained and unpredicted blip in a continuing upward trend, time will tell.

Apart from the trend, there is of course the matter of the absolute numbers. The Hadley Centre graph shows that, for the first phase, from 1920 to 1940, the increase was 0.4 degrees centigrade. From 1940 to 1975 there was a cooling of about 0.2 degrees. (It was during this phase that alarmist articles by Professor James Lovelock and a number of other scientists appeared, warning of the onset of a new ice age.) Finally, since 1975 there has been a further warming of about 0.5 degrees, making a total increase of some 0.7 degrees over the 20th century as a whole (from 1900 to 1920 there was no change).

Why, then, has this modest - if somewhat intermittent - degree of global warming seems to have occurred. Why has this happened, and what does it portend for the future? The only honest answer is that we don't know. The conventional wisdom is that the principal reason why it has happened is the greatly increased amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as a result of the rapid worldwide growth of carbon-based energy consumption. Now, there is no doubt that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide increased greatly during the 20th century - by some 30 per cent - and most scientists believe this increase to be largely man-made. And carbon dioxide is one of a number of so-called greenhouse gases whose combined effect in the earth's atmosphere is to keep the planet warmer than it would otherwise be.

Far and away the most important of these gases is water vapour, both in its gaseous form and suspended in clouds. Rather a long way back, carbon dioxide is the second most important greenhouse gas - and neither, incidentally, is a form of pollution. It is the published view of the Met Office that is it likely that more than half the warming of recent decades (say 0.3 degrees centigrade out of the overall 0.5 degrees increase between 1975 and 2000) is attributable to man-made sources of greenhouse gases - principally, although by no means exclusively, carbon dioxide. But this is highly uncertain, and reputable climate scientists differ sharply over the subject. It is simply not true to say that the science is settled; and the recent attempt of the Royal Society, of all bodies, to prevent the funding of climate scientists who do not share its alarmist view of the matter is truly shocking.

The uncertainty derives from a number of sources. For one thing, the science of clouds, which is clearly critical, is one of the least well understood aspects of climate science. Another uncertainty concerns the extent to which urbanisation (not least in the vicinity of climate stations) has contributed to the observed warming. There is no dispute that urbanisation raises near-surface temperatures: this has long been observed from satellite infra-red imagery. The uncertainty is over how much of the estimated 20th century warming this accounts for. Yet another uncertainty derives from the fact that, while the growth in manmade carbon dioxide emissions, and thus carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, continued relentlessly during the 20th century, the global mean surface temperature, as I have already remarked, increased in fits and starts, for which there us no adequate explanation.

But then - and this is the other great source of uncertainty - the earth's climate has always been subject to natural variation, wholly unrelated to man's activities. Climate scientists differ about the causes of this, although most agree that variations in solar radiation play a key part. It is well established, for example, from historical accounts, that a thousand years ago, well before the onset of industrialisation, there was - at least in Europe - what has become known as the mediaeval warm period, when temperatures were probably at least as high as, if not higher than, they are today. Going back even further, during the Roman empire, it may have been even warmer. There is archaeological evidence that in Roman Britain, vineyards existed on a commercial scale at least as far north as Northamptonshire. More recently, during the 17th and early 18th centuries, there was what has become known as the little ice age, when the Thames was regularly frozen over in winter, and substantial ice fairs held on the frozen river - immortalised in colourful prints produced at the time - became a popular attraction. Historical treeline studies, showing how far up mountains trees are able to grow at different times, which is clearly correlated with climate change, confirm that these variations occurred outside Europe as well.

A rather different account of the past was given by the so-called "hockey-stick" chart of global temperatures over the past millennium, which purported to show that the earth's temperature was constant until the industrialisation of the 20th century. Reproduced in its 2001 Report by the supposedly authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, set up under the auspices of the United Nations to advise governments on what is clearly a global issue, the chart featured prominently in (among other publications) the present Government's 2003 energy white paper. It has now been comprehensively discredited.

But it is not only over time that the earth's climate displays considerable natural variability. Change also varies geographically. For example, there are parts of the world where glaciers are retreating, and others where glaciers are advancing. The fringes of the Greenland ice shelf appear to be melting, while at the centre of the shelf the ice is thickening. Curiously enough, there are places where sea levels are perceptibly rising, while elsewhere they are static or even falling - suggesting that local factors still dominate any global warming effects on sea levels.

Again, extreme weather events, such as major storms in the Gulf of Mexico, have come and gone, at irregular intervals, for as long as records exist. Katrina, which caused so much damage to New Orleans, is regularly trotted out as a consequence of man-made climate change; yet the region's worst recorded hurricane was that which devastated Galveston in 1900. Following Katrina, the world's authorities on tropical storms set up an international panel, which included the relevant expert from the Met Office here in the UK. The panel reported, earlier this year, as follows: "The main conclusion we came to was that none of these high-impact tropical cyclones could be specifically attributed to global warming." This may not be all that surprising, given how little global warming has so far occurred; but I do not recall it featuring in Mr Gore's film.

But this diversity makes it all too easy for the Al Gores of this world to select local phenomena which best illustrate their predetermined alarmist global narrative. We need to stick firmly to the central point: what has been the rise in global mean temperatures over the past hundred years, why we believe this has occurred, how much temperatures are likely to rise over the next hundred years or so, and what the consequences are likely to be.

As is already clear, the only honest answer is that we do not know. Nevertheless, it is not unreasonable to try and guess; and this is essentially what the IPCC has devoted itself to doing. Its conclusion is that, by the end of this century, on a business-as-usual basis, global mean temperature might have risen by anything between 1 degree and 6 degrees centigrade. This is based on a combination of the immensely complex computer models of the relationship between carbon dioxide concentrations and global temperature, developed by the Hadley Centre and others, coupled with a range of different projections of the likely growth of carbon dioxide emissions.

This last part is not, of course, a scientific matter at all, but consists of economic forecasting. That is to say, it depends on the rate of world economic growth over the next hundred years (which in turn depends to a considerable extent on the projected world population), the energy-intensiveness of that growth, and the carbon-intensiveness of the energy used. The upper part of the IPCC's range of scenarios is distinctly unconvincing, depending as it does either on an implausibly high rate of population growth or, in particular, an unprecedented growth in energy intensiveness, which in fact has been steadily declining over the past 50 years. Equally implausible are its estimates of the costs of any warming that may occur.

For example, it makes great play of the damage to agriculture and food production from climate change. Quite apart from the fact there are many parts of the world where agriculture and food production would actually benefit from a warmer climate, the IPCC studies are vitiated by the fact that they assume that farmers would carry on much as before, growing the same crops in precisely the same way - the so-called 'dumb farmer' hypothesis. In reality, of course, farmers would adapt, switching as the need arose to strains or crops better suited to warmer climates, to improved methods of irrigation, and in many cases by cultivating areas which had hitherto been too cold to be economic.

It is important to bear in mind that, whatever climate alarmists like to make out, what we are confronted with, even on the Hadley Centre/IPCC hypothesis, is the probability of very gradual change over a large number of years. And this is something to which it is eminently practicable to adapt. This points to the first and most important part of the answer to the question of what we should do about the threat of global warming: adapt to it.

There are at least three reasons why adaptation is far and away the most cost-effective approach. The first is that many of the feared harmful consequences of climate change, such as coastal flooding in low-lying areas, are not new problems, but simply the exacerbation of existing ones; so that addressing these will bring benefits even if there is no further global warming at all. The second reason is that, unlike curbing carbon dioxide emissions, this approach will bring benefits whatever the cause of the warming, whether manmade or natural. And the third reason why adaptation - most of which, incidentally, will happen naturally, that is to say it will be market-driven, without much need for government intervention - is the most cost-effective approach is that all serious studies show that, not surprisingly, there are benefits as well as costs from global warming. Adaptation enables us to pocket the benefits while diminishing the costs.

The main argument advanced against relying principally on adaptation is that it is all right for the rich countries of the world, but not for the poor, which is unacceptable. As Professor Mendelsohn of Yale, author of a number of studies of the impact of climate change, has written, "The net damages to mid to high latitude countries [such as the UK] will be very small if not beneficial this coming century. The impacts to poor low latitude countries will be harmful across the board...Climate change will hurt the poorest people in the world most." This is no doubt true, although it is frequently exaggerated. But it does mean that those of us in the richer countries of the world have a clear moral obligation to do something about it - not least because, if the man-made warming thesis is correct, it is we who caused the problem. According to the IPCC, the greatest single threat posed by global warming is coastal flooding as sea levels rise. Sea levels have, in fact, been rising very gradually throughout the past hundred years, and even the last IPCC Report found little sign of any acceleration.

Nevertheless, Sir Nicholas Stern, charged by the Government to look into the economics of climate change is particularly concerned about this, especially the alleged melting of the Greenland ice sheet. He has written that: "The net effect of these changes is a release of 20 billion tonnes of water to the oceans each year, contributing around 0.05 millimetres a year to sea-level rise." This would imply an additional sea-level rise of less than a quarter of an inch per century, something it ought not to be too difficult to live with.

But the major source of projected sea-level rise is from ocean warming expanding the volume of water. As a result, some of those low-lying areas already subject to serious flooding could find things getting significantly worse, and there is a clear case for government money to be spent on improving sea defences in these areas. The Dutch, after all, have been doing this very effectively for the past 500 years. The governments of the richer countries, like the United States with its Gulf coast exposure, can be left to do it for themselves; but in the case of the poorer countries, such as Bangladesh, there is a powerful argument for international assistance.

Another problem for the poorer and hotter countries of the world, according to the IPCC, is an increase in vector-borne diseases, notably malaria. This is more controversial. Most experts believe that temperature has relatively little bearing on the spread of the disease, pointing out that it was endemic throughout Europe during the little ice age. Be that as it may, some two million children in the developing world die every year from malaria as it is; and the means of combating, if not eradicating, the scourge are well established. There is, again, a clear case for international assistance to achieve this. Of course assistance in either the building of effective sea defences or in the eradication of malaria will cost money. But that cost is only a very small fraction of what it would cost to attempt, by substantially curbing carbon dioxide emissions, to change the climate.

The argument that we need to cut back substantially on carbon dioxide emissions in order to help the world's poor is bizarre in the extreme. To the extent that their problems are climatic, these problems are not new ones, even if they may be exacerbated if current projections are correct. If, twenty years ago, when as Chancellor I was launching the first concerted poor-country debt forgiveness initiative, subsequently known as the Toronto terms, anyone had argued that the best way to help the developing countries was to make the world a colder place, I would probably have politely suggested that they see their doctor. It makes no more sense today than it would have done then. Indeed, it is worse than that. As Frances Cairncross, the Chairman of the Economic and Social Research Council, pointed out in her thoughtful and honest Presidential address on climate change to the British Association's annual conference in September, the cost of effectively curbing carbon dioxide emissions "will definitely be enormous". Precisely how large it is impossible to say - even by Sir Nicholas Stern.

Last year's report on the economics of climate change by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee quoted estimates ranging from $80 billion a year to $1,100 billion a year. It would depend greatly, among other things, on how it is achieved and how soon - the earlier it is done the greater the cost. Of critical importance is how great the increase in the price of carbon would need to be to stifle the demand for carbon sufficiently; and that we cannot know unless and until we do it. But it is clear that the cost will be large enough, among other consequences, to diminish significantly the export markets on which the future prosperity of the developing countries at least in part depends. So far from helping the world's poor, it is more likely to harm them.

Nevertheless, curbing carbon dioxide emissions, along the lines of the Kyoto accord, under which the industrialised countries of the world agreed to somewhat arbitrarily assigned limits to their CO2 emissions by 2012, remains the conventional answer to the challenge of global warming. It is hard to imagine a more absurd response. Even its strongest advocates admit that, even if fully implemented (which it is now clear it will not be, and there is no enforcement mechanism), the existing Kyoto agreement, which came into force last year, would do virtually nothing to reduce future rates of global warming.

Its importance, in their eyes, is as the first step towards further such agreements of a considerably more restrictive nature. But this is wholly unrealistic, and fundamentally flawed for a number of reasons. In the first place, the United States, the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, has refused to ratify the treaty and has made clear its intention of having no part in any future such agreements. The principal American objection is that the developing countries - including such major contributors to future carbon dioxide emissions as China, India and Brazil - are effectively outside the process and determined to remain so. Indeed, both China and India currently subsidise carbon-based energy.

The developing countries' argument is a simple one. They contend that the industrialised countries of the western world achieved their prosperity on the basis of cheap carbon-based energy; and that it is now the turn of the poor developing countries to emulate them. And they add that if there is a problem now of excessive carbon dioxide concentrations in the earth's atmosphere, it is the responsibility of those that caused it to remedy it. Nor are they unaware of the uncertainty of the science on the basis of which they are being asked to slow down their people's escape from grinding poverty.

The consequences of the exclusion of the major developing countries from the process are immense. China alone last year embarked on a programme of building 562 large coal-fired power stations by 2012 - that is, a new coal-fired power station every five days for seven years. Putting it another way, China is adding the equivalent of Britain's entire power-generating capacity each year. Since coal-fired power stations emit roughly twice as much carbon dioxide per gigawatt of electricity as gas-fired ones, it is not surprising that it is generally accepted that within the next 20 years China will overtake the United States as the largest source of emissions.

India, which like China has substantial indigenous coal reserves, is set to follow a similar path, as is Brazil. Then there is the cost of the Kyoto approach to consider. The logic of Kyoto is to make emissions permits sufficiently scarce to raise their price to the point where carbon-based energy is so expensive that carbon-free energy sources, and other carbon-saving measures, become fully economic. This clearly involves a very much greater rise in energy prices than anything we have yet seen. The trebling of oil prices since Kyoto was agreed in 1997 has done little to reduce carbon emissions. There must be considerable doubt whether a rise in energy prices on the scale required would be politically sustainable. Particularly when the economic cost, in terms of slower economic growth, would be substantial.

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

The extent of ill-informed wishful thinking on this issue is hard to exaggerate. To take just one example, the government's 2003 energy White Paper proposed a 60 per cent reduction in the UK's carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, based on the notion of supplying most if not all of the country's electricity needs from renewable sources, notably that particularly trendy source, wind power. But as experienced electrical engineers have pointed out, government estimates of the cost of wind power are grossly understated, since wind power (like most renewable sources of energy) is intermittent. In other words, the wind doesn't blow all the time. But the electricity supply does have to be on tap all the time. Given the fact that electricity cannot be economically stored on an industrial scale, this means that conventional generating capacity would have to be fully maintained to meet demand when the wind stops blowing, thus massively adding to the true cost of wind power.

There are all sorts of things we can do, from riding a bicycle to putting a windmill on our roof, that may make us feel good. But there is no escaping the two key truths. First, there is no way the growth in atmospheric carbon dioxide can be arrested without a very substantial rise in the cost of carbon, presumably via the imposition of a swingeing carbon tax, which would require, at least in the short to medium term, a radical change of lifestyle in the developed world. Are we seriously prepared to do this? (A tax would at least be preferable to the capricious and corrupt rationing system which half-heartedly exists today under Kyoto.)

And the second key truth is that, even if we were prepared to do this, it would still be useless unless the major developing nations - notably China, India and Brazil - were prepared to do the same, which they are manifestly and understandably not. So we are driven back to the need to adapt to a warmer world, and the moral obligation of the richer countries to help the poorer countries to do so.....

It is not difficult to understand, however, the appeal of the conventional climate change wisdom. Throughout the ages something deep in man's psyche has made him receptive to apocalyptic warnings: "the end of the world is nigh". Almost of all us are imbued with a sense of guilt and a sense of sin, and it is so much less uncomfortable to divert our attention away from our individual sins and causes of guilt, arising from how we have treated our neighbours, and to sublimate it in collective guilt and collective sin.

Throughout the ages, too, the weather has been an important part of the narrative. In primitive societies it was customary for extreme weather events to be explained as punishment from the gods for the sins of the people; and there is no shortage of examples of this theme in the Bible, either - particularly but not exclusively in the Old Testament. The main change is that the new priests are scientists (well rewarded with research grants for their pains) rather than clerics of the established religions, and the new religion is eco-fundamentalism. But it is a distinction without much of a difference.....

The second, and more fundamental, danger is that the global Salvationist movement is profoundly hostile to capitalism and the market economy. There are already increasing calls for green protectionism - for the imposition of trade restrictions against those countries which fail to agree to curb their carbon dioxide emissions. Given the fact that the only way in which the world's poor will ever be able to escape from their poverty is by embracing capitalism and the global market economy, this is not good news.

But the third danger is even more profound. Today we are very conscious of the threat we face from the supreme intolerance of Islamic fundamentalism. It could not be a worse time to abandon our own traditions of reason and tolerance, and to embrace instead the irrationality and intolerance of ecofundamentalism, where reasoned questioning of its mantras is regarded as a form of blasphemy. There is no greater threat to the people of this planet than the retreat from reason we see all around us today.

More here

Expensive Greenie roof in Scotland

Bosses of an acclaimed new government building with a grass roof were shocked to find it will cost 5,000 pounds to have it cut. The 13 million pound Scottish Natural Heritage HQ, praised for its eco-friendly credentials, includes a roof garden, reports the Daily Record. But health and safety regulations mean scaffolding and other safety measures must be installed when people are working above ground. It's believed one scaffolding firm tendered an estimate in the region of 5000 pounds.

It raises questions about the cost implications of the green credentials of Great Glen House in Inverness, opened last month by First Minister Jack McConnell. Local councillor Jimmy MacDonald said: "It seems the extra costs to cut the grass will make this building not as eco-friendly as first believed."

An SNH spokesman said: "The roof was chosen due to its low-maintenance regime, which is why it is so popular for green roof projects."



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

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

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


3 November, 2006


Post lifted from an article by chronology specialist and Knuth cheque recipient Douglas J. Keenan:

Following are some remarks about my report "Grape harvest dates are poor indicators of summer warmth", as well as about scientific publication generally.

On 18 November 2004, Isabelle Chuine and co-workers published a research paper on global warming. The paper appeared in Nature, the world's most highly-regarded scientific journal. And it gathered some publicity. Chuine et al. claimed to have developed a method for estimating the summer temperature in Burgundy, France, in any given year back to 1370 (based on the harvest dates of grapes). Using their method, the authors asserted that the summer of 2003 was the warmest summer since 1370, in Burgundy.

I had been following global warming studies only as a disinterested outside spectator (and only occasionally). Someone sent me the paper of Chuine et al., though, and wondered what I thought of it from a mathematical perspective. So I had a look.

To study the paper properly, I needed to have the authors' data. So I e-mailed Dr. Chuine, asking for this. The authors, though, were very reluctant to let me have the data. It me took eight months, tens of e-mails exchanged with the authors, and two formal complaints to Nature, before I got the data. (Some data was purchased from Météo France.) It is obviously inappropriate that such a large effort was necessary.

Looking at the data made it manifest that there are serious problems with the work of Chuine et al. In particular, the authors' estimate for the summer temperature of 2003 was higher than the actual temperature by 2.4 °C (about 4.3 °F). This is the primary reason that 2003 seemed, according to the authors, to be extremely warm.

There is also another reason. The three warmest years on record, prior to 2003, were 1945, 1947, and 1952. (The instrumental record goes back to 1922, or even 1883 if we accept some inaccuracies.) The estimate of Chuine et al. for the summer temperature in each of those years was much lower than the actual temperature.

That is, the authors had developed a method that gave a falsely-high estimate of temperature in 2003 and falsely-low estimates of temperatures in other very warm years. They then used those false estimates to proclaim that 2003 was tremendously warmer than other years.

The above is easy enough to understand. It does not even require any specialist scientific training. So how could the peer reviewers of the paper not have seen it? (Peer reviewers are the scientists who check a paper prior to its publication.) I asked Dr. Chuine what data was sent to Nature, when the paper was submitted to the journal. Dr. Chuine replied, "We never sent data to Nature".

I have since published a short note that details the above problem (reference below). There are several other problems with the paper of Chuine et al. as well. I have written a brief survey of those (for people with an undergraduate-level background in science). As described in that survey, problems would be obvious to anyone with an appropriate scientific background, even without the data. In other words, the peer reviewers could not have had appropriate background.

What is important here is not the truth or falsity of the claim of Chuine et al. about Burgundy temperatures. Rather, what is important is that a paper on what is arguably the world's most important scientific topic (global warming) was published in the world's most prestigious scientific journal with essentially no checking of the work prior to publication.

Moreover—and crucially—this lack of checking is not the result of some fluke failures in the publication process. Rather, it is common for researchers to submit papers without supporting data, and it is frequent that peer reviewers do not have the requisite mathematical or statistical skills needed to check the work (medical sciences excepted). In other words, the publication of the work of Chuine et al. was due to systemic problems in the scientific publication process.

The systemic nature of the problems indicates that there might be many other scientific papers that, like the paper of Chuine et al., were inappropriately published. Indeed, that is true and I could list numerous examples. The only thing really unusual about the paper of Chuine et al. is that the main problem with it is understandable for people without specialist scientific training. Actually, that is why I decided to publish about it. In many cases of incorrect research the authors will try to hide behind an obfuscating smokescreen of complexity and sophistry. That is not very feasible for Chuine et al. (though the authors did try).

Finally, it is worth noting that Chuine et al. had the data; so they must have known that their conclusions were unfounded. In other words, there is prima facie evidence of scientific fraud. What will happen to the researchers as a result of this? Probably nothing. That is another systemic problem with the scientific publication process.


Chuine I., Yiou P., Viovy N., Seguin B., Daux V., Le Roy Ladurie E. (2004), "Grape ripening as a past climate indicator", Nature, 432: 289-290. doi: 10.1038/432289a.

Keenan D.J. (2007), "Grape harvest dates are poor indicators of summer warmth", Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 87: 255-256. doi: 10.1007/s00704-006-0197-9.

Doug Keenan will not want to believe this but he is actually too optimistic above. His confidence in the quality of what appears in the medical journals would be laughed at by any regular reader of my FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blog -- to say nothing of Lancet expertise in cluster sampling etc.

ABC News Global Warming Reporter: "I don't like the word "Balance"

ABC News Reporter Bill Blakemore declared "I don't like the word `balance' much at all" in global warming coverage at a journalism conference in Vermont over the weekend. Blakemore, who reported on August 30, 2006, "After extensive searches, ABC News has found no such [scientific] debate" on global warming, said he rejects `balance' in order to justify excluding any skeptics of manmade catastrophic global warming from his reporting. He made his remarks at Friday's panel discussion at the Society of Environmental Journalists annual conference in Burlington. Blakemore lamented "the deep professional shame that I discovered two years ago," regarding how he believes the media had been manipulated by skeptics of manmade catastrophic global warming.

"Of course [skeptics] play on the idea that we have to be `balanced,'" he noted. "It was very lazy of us for 10 years when we were asked for balance from the [climate skeptic] spinners. We just gave up and said `Okay, okay - I will put the other side on, okay are you happy now?'" he said. "And it saves us from the trouble of having to check out the fact that these other sides were the proverbial flat earth society."

Blakemore also took on the role of psychologist in explaining that global warming presents an "existential" dilemma and people face what he termed "psychological obstacles" about whether to believe the dire predictions that the planet is facing a climate crisis. "We are looking at serious mainstream scientists now tell us that maybe - it's over. It's hard. It's the kind of news you have to take in small doses," Blakemore explained. [EPW note: Many scientists dispute the notion that mankind has created a climate doomsday. See: ]

"Denial is initially natural and healthy; the psychologists tell us it is what we do to hold our meaning system together, so that we can at least function at first when trauma happens and we are all being delivered a major trauma here," he explained. He added that greenhouse gas theory is akin to "3rd grade science."

"Does [extreme weather patterns] fit exactly within the predicted pattern that we projected almost 30 or 40 years ago? This is the little logical problem that we journalists can still work on and solve," Blakemore said. (EPW Note: 30 and 40 years ago, scientists were erroneously predicting a coming ice age. See last week's Newsweek's retraction of global cooling reporting 31 years after its initial report: )

"The problem is we journalists have not stood up on our own feet and said `Excuse me, this is going to be my assessment of where the scientific assessment is.' Because those spinners would say you got to listen to who -- for the scientific assessment and they will point to their favorable [skeptical] organizations." He also said, "I am a professional journalist; don't tell me how to do my job."

Blakemore said skeptics of global warming should be ignored because some of them are being funded by industry. But he has failed to note that scientists he promotes such as James Hansen, Michael Oppenheimer, are both recipients of huge sums of money from environmental special interest groups.

When Blakemore reported on January 29, 2006, that NASA scientist James Hansen was alleging that the Bush Administration was censoring his scientific work, he failed to inform viewers that Hansen had received a quarter of a million dollars from Teresa Heinz Kerry and subsequently endorsed her husband Democrat John Kerry for President in 2004 In addition, Michael Oppenheimer is a paid partisan of the group Environmental Defense.

Blakemore also told the journalism conference that global warming was an ever present entity that "affects everything in the weather, everywhere all the time and in every instance." Blakemore has also lavished praised on former Vice-President Al Gore and his movie "An Inconvenient Truth", comparing Gore to Shakespeare and Robert Frost.



Business groups welcomed a report calling for a low-carbon economy but warned that companies must not foot climate change through green taxes.

David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Business has a leading role to play in tackling the impact of climate change and the signs are that many are accepting that responsibility. It is crucial however that business and the government continue to work together and the temptation to regulate and tax is resisted."

The Stern report published today warns that ignoring global warming could turn 200m people into refugees as their homes are hit by drought or flood. The report was drawn up by Sir Nicholas Stern, the Government's chief economist. Richard Lambert, director general of the CBI, said: "The Stern Review adds up to a powerful argument for collective action by the nations of the world. Provided we act with sufficient speed, we will not have to make a choice between averting climate change and promoting growth and investment."

The CBI called for a global system of carbon trading and a partnership between the public and private sectors to help combat climate change. Mr Lambert said: "A global system of carbon trading is urgently needed as the nucleus around which the worldwide action needed can be built in the most economically efficient way."

Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC, said: "This review shows that immediate action against climate change could boost the economy. The Government urgently needs to use this opportunity to develop a green manufacturing strategy and plan to improve energy efficiency in the workplace. Tackling climate change by supporting the growth of low carbon and carbon free technologies - from renewable energy to low carbon vehicles - could also benefit British business and create jobs."

F&C, one of Europe's largest asset managers, said the investment industry is well placed to finance a transition to a low-carbon economy, but needs "long-term signals from Government that sensible, market-friendly solutions will be implemented." Alain Grisay, chief executive of F&C, said: "The Stern report makes it clear that the global economy is poised to enter a phase of massive economic transformation, akin to experience of the introduction of railways and electricity and more recently the global communications revolution. The big difference is that these earlier breakthroughs occurred spontaneously, whereas this time, we have to will into being what can only be described as a fundamental shift in our energy system." He added: "The imperative now is for a sensible policy framework that gives business and investors the confidence to plan ahead. The sooner we know what the rules will be, the sooner we can act."

The Prince of Wales' Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, which is made up of fourteen senior executives from some of the UK's leading businesses, also welcomed the report. Speaking for the group, James Smith, chairman of Shell UK said: "We hope that the Stern Review will create further impetus for discussions between British business and the Government about how the UK can scale-up its action on climate change in such a way as to ensure that we have first mover advantage in these massive new global markets".

Hugh Scott-Barrett, chief financial officer of ABN Amro added: "The City of London is already leading the world in terms of the volume of carbon traded. Policy leadership by the UK and the EU will help maintain the City's competitive advantage and will ensure that the money that has already started flowing into low-carbon funds gets invested in British and European innovation".

Neil Carson, chief executive of technology group Johnson Matthey, said: "We think that the transition to a low-carbon economy could have a profound impact on British businesses. As Stern points out, 'the innovation associated with tackling climate change could trigger a new wave of growth and creativity in the global economy'. Britain should be at the crest of this wave".



If there's one thing Gordon Brown loves, it's an inquiry. During the row over tuition fees, Charles Clarke, the then education secretary, told me that the clash between himself and the Chancellor hinged on Clarke's refusal to launch a long investigation into the problem of higher education finance on the model of Derek Wanless's NHS report.

On this basis, at least, Mr Brown will be very happy with Sir Nicholas Stern's inquiry on the economics of climate change due to be published tomorrow, and reported to weigh in at a forest-clearing 700 pages.

According to the Tories, Mr Brown's present preoccupation with climate change, a subject that was central to his conference speech in Manchester, is entirely political, a response to David Cameron's tireless green campaigning since he became leader.

If a Climate Change Bill follows Stern, the Tories will also claim the announcement as a triumph for renewable politics. When he was shadow environment secretary, Oliver Letwin proposed just such a bill with the support of the Lib Dems and invited the Government to come on board: nothing doing.

Two things have undoubtedly changed. The first is that the science of global warming has more or less arrived at a point of consensus, symbolised in popcorn politics by Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth. There are still doughty sceptics urging caution, such as Nigel Lawson, who will deliver his preliminary thoughts on Stern on Tuesday. But the political horse has already bolted.

The second shift is the electoral strategy to which Mr Cameron has now committed his party (which, it must be said, gave short shrift to climate change in its 2005 manifesto, drafted by one D. Cameron).

Last December, the new Tory leader quickly grasped that his party was second in 88 of Labour's top 100 marginal seats. It followed that, to win, he had to capture Lib Dem votes, and, to do that, he had to paint his party an appealing green. Hence, the party's demand that Tony Blair and David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, include a Climate Change Bill in the Queen's Speech (declaration of interest: my wife works for Mr Miliband).

In its principal contention, however, the Stern report soars above such petty party politics and delivers one of the most significant intellectual knockout blows of our times.

For decades, it has been orthodox to speak of green policy in terms of necessary sacrifice, subordinating economic growth and personal comfort to the survival of the species.

This, it must be said, made a great many people irritated. They suspected they were being subjected to a sneaky new Puritanism based on dubious science, by authoritarians who had lost the economic battle and were now looking for fresh ways of telling people what to do. The American Right called the first wave of environmentalist politicians the "water melons": green on the outside, red on the inside.

Stern, however, turns the argument on its head. If we want to stay rich, he says, we must be green. He sets the price of the measures needed to curb global warming at 1 per cent of GDP, and the cost of ignoring the science at 10 per cent (at least). If his economic model is correct, this is what we political analysts call a no-brainer. Pay the parking premium for your 4x4. Turn the television stand-by off at night. Put that green box out with the papers and the bottles on a Tuesday. Because, pesky as all this may be, it is a good deal less pesky than the alternative. Do you fancy paying the Tidal Wave Tax?

The politics of Stern will be hugely entertaining, as well as important. All sides will speak loftily of the need for cross-party consensus, and then savage their opponents for undermining it. It will be a terrific punch-up, even if it is initially conducted in the noble language of Gaia and our debt to future generations.

Ministers will claim that Green Dave has been captured by the Friends of the Earth just as Old Labour was captured by the National Union of Teachers. Mr Cameron will say the Government is just playing catch-up with his own campaign.

Tomorrow, the Environment Secretary is expected to make a statement to the Commons in response to the report. The Tories sniff that they will be busy showcasing their new Young Adult Trust for good works by young people, but something tells me that they will take time out from the activities of young adults to pile into the green debate. Once Stern is released, there will be a furious battle for control of the dossier.

In fact, the risks and the opportunities for each party reflect the respective positions of Opposition and Government. Mr Cameron has the freedom to voice outrage and -impatience and to prod the lumbering beast of Whitehall. In campaigning for a Climate Change Bill, he has positioned himself as a Green Chartist, frontman of the nifty "Can I have the Bill Please?" website petition.

The risk is that his elan as a campaigner may undermine his image as a prospective Prime Minister. The Conservatives' suspicion of Labour targets in public services has long been one of their strongest suits. Mr Cameron's argument that annual targets are needed for the reduction of carbon -emissions may sound gutsy, but I am not sure it has the ring of practical policy.

Still, it looks as if the Tory leader will get his main wish. One Downing Street source tells me that a rapid response to Stern is being planned and that "it is very likely now that a Climate Change Bill will be part of that".

At the heart of Stern's recommendations is a radical extension of the existing arrangements for "cap-and-trade": a market mechanism whereby those carbon producers who exceed their quota purchase credits which are invested elsewhere in clean -technology.

Who, precisely, would police such arrangements? Both parties are much taken by Arnold Schwarzenegger's initiative to make California the first state with a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions. The Tories are enthused by the use of the California Air Resources Board to set industry-specific goals for emissions reductions. All Number 10 will say is that any comparable body in this country would be "independent". But how independent? As independent as the Bank of England?

But the most formidable task ahead of the Government is different. The contract that Messrs Blair, Brown and Miliband must put to the British people is that, if we can change our behaviour here, they have the influence to make a difference on the international scene.

It is extraordinary to consider that if every light in Britain were turned off for good and every gas-guzzling suburban citizen decided to live like Swampy, all the eco-slack would have been picked up by China in 13 months.

Senior officials have high hopes that the 44th President of the United States (McCain? Clinton?) will be responsive to the arguments in Stern. But he or she will not be inaugurated until January 2009. There are whispers of a shift of position by President Bush next year, but no more than that.

Meanwhile, there is enormous diplomatic pressure on Angela Merkel, who assumes the presidency of both the G8 and the EU in January, to deliver the beginnings of a post-Kyoto protocol that does not make China and India snort with laughter.

And this geopolitical dimension, much more than the expected Climate Change Bill, is the real problem: persuading the British electorate that it is worth the candle (literally, when it comes to turning off lights). That's the trouble with saving the planet. You have to get a whole species on side.



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

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

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


2 November, 2006


Basing it on observed reality (such as the halt in global warming since 1998) would be too much to expect altogether, of course. Comment on the Stern model below by Tim Worstall. Tim enlarges on his comments on his blog

The Stern Report is now out and as usual with these sorts of things we're going to have the most almighty cat fights about what it all means. A number of observations:

1) The report itself, although not much of the commentary upon it, gives a timescale of 'centuries to a millenium' for the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps, if that indeed happens at all. No, despite what the papers seem to say, no one is predicting sea level rises of 7 metres in only 94 years time.

2) In order to make mitigation now work financially instead of adaptation later it is necessary to work on the concept of discount rates. The report insists that we should use very low ones with the effect that such mitigating spending now looks better.

3) Quite rightly (to my mind, of course) the point is made that the poor need to be encouraged, even aided, to become richer so that they will be more able to make whatever adaptations are necessary. This would seem to indicate once again that we should abandon our own trade restrictions: nothing helps the poor more than buying the things they make. Free Trade for Gaia perhaps?

There's one part, where they do their own modelling, that I think (again, please note, this is my opinion) is an horrendous error, so bad that I think it discredits everything else. The entire logic behind the call to action runs like this: If we don't change our ways now then people in the future will be poorer than they could have been if we did change our ways. As long as the costs to us are less than the increased income in the future from our doing so, then it is a moral imperative that we should indeed change.

However, the model of the future that is used to calculate said future incomes and costs is the 'A2' model from the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES), the basis of the IPCC report. (Page 61, chapter three of the Stern Report.) This assumes a medium high emissions scenario, a population of 15 billion in 2100 (!!) and a definite slowing of globalization so that we maintain a series of regional economies with little diffusion of technology. This is referred to as the business as usual (BAU) scenario.

However, that is something of a misunderstanding of the SRES scenarios. Each scenario has an equal probability, there is no such thing as 'this is what will happen unless we do something'. There are other families of scenarios, like the A1, B1 and B2 ones. The A1 family, for example, is based upon the international movement of people, ideas and technology and a strong commitment to market-based solutions. It's worth noting that this produces a world, in aggregate, twice as rich as the A2 one used by the Stern Report and given the lower population, one four times as rich per head of population.

So if indeed it is true that we have a moral duty to ensure that our descendants are as rich as possible (which is, after all, the report's justification for mitigation now) then don't we also have one to push the world in the A1 direction, not the A2? More globalization for example? That would have a much greater effect on their standards of living than any of the mitigation that the report proposes. Missing this point means that I'm rather less than impressed with the rest of the report. (Please note that all SRES scenarios assume no mitigation attempts.)


Britain is to send the author of today's landmark review on global warming to try to win American hearts and minds to the urgent cause of cutting carbon emissions - as it emerged yesterday that the government has already signed up former US vice-president Al Gore to advise on the environment.

Sir Nicholas Stern, who this morning publishes an authoritative report on climate change warning that inaction could cause a worldwide recession as damaging as the Depression of the 1930s, will lobby politicians and business people in America at the turn of the year.

In a separate development, the environment secretary, David Miliband, said the government was discussing imposing green taxes. But the Treasury, which commissioned Sir Nicholas's study, stressed: "The key message of Stern is that international action is required ... The chancellor decides on taxes and he will do so in the pre-budget report and budget."

The government hopes the review will gain traction in the US because it focuses on the economic case for change. Sir Nicholas's analysis warns that doing nothing about climate change will cost the global economy between 5% and 20% of GDP, while reducing emissions now would cost 1%, equivalent to o184bn.

He argues that international negotiations to find a successor to the Kyoto protocol on reducing greenhouse gases must be accelerated, starting at UN talks in Nairobi next month.

The prime minister has said any such agreement needs the support of the US, which refused to join Kyoto because it said it would harm the economy. The White House said last night that it had not read the report. But Kristin Hellmer, the White House counsel on environmental quality, said: "The president has said from the beginning that climate change is a serious issue, and he is taking action on it."

She disputed charges from scientists that the administration had been hostile to the concept of global warming, and that it had set back international efforts to limit greenhouse gases by rejecting the Kyoto treaty.

Alden Meyer, director of policy and strategy with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a US group, suggested the only prospect for a policy shift before the next presidential election in 2008 would be if a delegation from the vast majority of US business - including the coal, utilities and car manufacturing industries - lobbied the White House for action. But he added of today's review: "It is a benchmark in a long process that is going to continue after the release."

Jonathan Porritt, director of the government's independent watchdog, the Sustainable Development Commission, added: "I think it is on a par with the influence of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the way in which the scientific evidence that they have marshalled has bit by bit obliged politicians to get into a much more pro-action stance on climate change."

Hopes of a political consensus on green taxes were raised yesterday as David Cameron, the Tory leader, told the BBC he would be prepared to impose taxes on aviation. His remarks followed the publication of a leaked memo from Mr Miliband urging Mr Brown to consider tough levies on flights, motoring and inefficient household appliances.



"The Sun", Editorial:

The government's plans to hammer motorists and holidaymakers with extra taxes to halt global warming are simply not good enough. Our readers are already among the world's most heavily taxed people. Huge numbers of them need cars to get to work. They toil for long hours to make an honest living. For many of them public transport can never provide an alternative.

Road charges and punitive taxes on fuel will break the financial back of many families. These are the families who already face massively increased council tax bills - imposed by an expensive army of new snoopers. After paying that lot, will workers be able to afford foreign holidays at all - let alone an extra 5 pounds on their flights?

The proposals contain far too much stick and not enough carrot. Hybrid "green" cars are still too expensive for the lower-paid. Zero road tax plus other financial incentives would help sell them. It must be remembered that the government has turned its back on REAL ways of tackling global warming for far too long. Now, in a panic, it typically tries to punish the people for mistakes of its own making.

This government has already frittered away billions on outdated public services and potty projects. It should bring forward plans to cut spending and make savings. If taxes are to help, they must be REPLACEMENT taxes, not new ones.

Without question global warming is the world's biggest problem. But the answer involves EVERYONE in the industrialised nations changing their ways. The British taxpayer can't do it alone.


Consumers could be hit by steep price rises for a range of goods from food to hotel breaks under plans to tackle climate change being considered by David Miliband. The Environment Secretary is consulting taking sweeping powers to extend curbs on greenhouse gas emissions so that they cover many more businesses, including supermarkets and hotel chains - curbs that at present apply only to the big industrial users. The costs incurred are potentially huge and are likely to be passed on to the consumer. The proposal to take "enabling powers" to extend the carbon-trading scheme to other sectors will be taken in the new Climate Change Bill, Mr Miliband confirmed yesterday.

But amid signs of a government split on how to respond to Sir Nicholas Stern's report on the impact of global warming, Gordon Brown is to reject Cabinet calls for swingeing tax rises on motorists and domestic consumers, The Times has learnt. Airline passengers and drivers of large "gas-guzzling" vehicles will bear the brunt of green tax levies, to be introduced by the Chancellor in his last Budget in March. But Mr Brown is opposed strongly to measures that would allow petrol prices to rise even when the world price of oil slumped, as proposed in a leaked letter to him from Mr Miliband.

The disclosure over the weekend of Mr Miliband's "wish list" of taxation measures angered the Treasury and sources were blaming "rogue elements" in No 10 yesterday for its appearance over the weekend. Mr Brown was said to be upset because the leak focused attention on speculation about tax rises rather than on the central message of Sir Nicholas's report; that if the world took concerted action on global warming growth need not be affected. Allies of the Chancellor described the leak as an attempt to put pressure on Mr Brown and to test his modernising credentials.

When they appeared with Sir Nicholas at the launch of his report yesterday both Mr Brown and Tony Blair emphasised the importance of international action - rather than domestic taxes - to reduce carbon emissions. Mr Brown made it plain that he was pinning his hopes on a massive expansion of the carbon trading scheme, by which governments aim to reduce pollution through market mechanisms. He suggested that the scheme, under which firms have to buy credits to emit more than a set level of greenhouse gases, should be extended by linking it with others in California, Australia, Japan and elsewhere.

The Climate Change Bill will enshrine in law the Government's long-term aim of reducing carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2050. Thousands of organisations, from supermarket groups to hotel chains, are not covered by EU schemes limiting carbon emissions. The "enabling powers" would allow ministers to extend these curbs at will across the rest of Britain's businesses - with potentially huge cost consequences. Many companies that broke possible limits on their emissions and were forced to buy "carbon credits" would be likely to pass on costs to the consumer.

The Environment Department confirmed that the powers could be used to extend curbs to "non-energy intensive" sectors. It said in the summer that measures for businesses not covered by the EU trading scheme, and which account for a tenth of Britain's greenhouse gases, could bring carbon savings of 1.2 million tonnes a year by 2020. David Frost, the head of the British Chambers of Commerce, said that the measures would amount to "stealth tax" in which "business becomes the villain".


Australian economist Alan Wood says: Don't heed Stern warning

Australians are in danger in talking up climate change scares that may never come to pass

The Stern review on the economics of climate change is at least as much a political tool as an economic assessment. This is not necessarily a criticism, if you accept its conclusions. These conclusions are alarming and are being used to spread alarm. If you doubt that, then consider this one: "Our actions now and over the coming decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century. And it will be difficult or impossible to reverse these changes."

Or this: "Using the results from formal economic models, the review estimates that if we don't act, the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5 per cent of global GDP each year, now and forever. If a wider range of risks and impacts is taken into account, these estimates of damage could rise to 20 per cent of GDP."

Its author, Nicholas Stern, would no doubt say his aim is simply to bring home the gravity of the challenge climate change represents. That is a commendable aim if action is as urgent as he believes. His proposal for action is not modest. He wants annual global emissions of greenhouse gases ultimately reduced by more than 80 per cent below present levels. His interim aim is to stabilise greenhouse gas levels at between 450 and 550 parts per million of CO2 equivalent. He says this will require emissions to be at least 25 per cent below present levels by 2050, and perhaps much more. There is a carrot offered, as well as a stick. Act now and the costs could be about 1 per cent of global GDP annually, rather than 5 to 20 per cent. Not surprisingly, the headlines in the British press had a doomsday flavour, as did some here. But should we uncritically accept the findings of the Stern review?

Kim Beazley seems to think so. At a Canberra doorstop yesterday he made this sweeping assertion: "I am absolutely fair dinkum about dealing with the consequences of climate change. When we are elected to office, we will fix this." Well, thank God for that, but how? "How you fix it is you start by ratifying Kyoto."

Oh dear. Kyoto was never going to do anything significant about global warming, has fallen apart as key members can't meet its targets for emission reductions, and its associated carbon-trading scheme has turned into a bad joke. Oh, and it excludes the major emitters of greenhouse gases in the developing world, India and China, who have made it clear the Kyoto framework is totally unacceptable to them.

Beazley has no doubts about the Stern report. "Now, this bloke is a World Bank economist, or that's what he was, a World Bank economist. He knows what he's talking about." Not necessarily. When Stern was chief economist at the World Bank he got into an argument with the formidable former commonwealth statistician, Ian Castles, over the inappropriate use of statistics in the bank's development report (on emissions, as it happens), an argument Castles seems to have won.

However, it is simply not possible to comprehensively analyse a report of more than 600 pages within a 24-hour news cycle. It is sensible to wait and see how the Stern review stands up to critical analysis once economists and others have had time to look at it carefully. There are recommendations that make sense regardless of the credibility or otherwise of its economic modelling. For example, it is obviously sensible to focus on clean-coal technology given, as Stern acknowledges, the world is going to be overwhelmingly dependent on carbon-based energy for a long time yet.

However, it would be surprising if the economic modelling emerges unscathed. Bryce Wilkinson, a former senior official with the New Zealand Treasury and now a private consultant, raised some questions in a preliminary look yesterday. For example, he noted it is not clear who conducted the modelling work or whether enough time has elapsed for it to be subject to independent peer review, and commented "one suspects not: this appears to be a case of declaring an unequivocal finding by press release".

The history of economic modelling exercises of this sort, making long-term forecasts about future economic developments, is not encouraging. The Stern review itself sensibly cautions about the inevitable difficulties of all these models in extrapolating over very long periods of time, and warns against "over-literal" interpretation of the results. This caution, however, will be lost on the reader of its boldly stated headline conclusions.

But there is a more fundamental point. As Stern recognises, and John Howard keeps pointing out, there is no way of finding an acceptable method of dealing with emissions unless everybody is in, and we are a long way from that.

It is interesting that when a suggestion was floated for taxes on motorists and air travel in response to Stern there was an immediate and hostile reaction from two British newspapers as different as London's The Sun and The Daily Telegraph. The Sun huffed that "the Government's plans to hammer motorists and holidaymakers with extra taxes to halt global warming are simply not good enough. Our readers are already among the world's most heavily taxed people." The Telegraph said bluntly that green taxes were not the solution to a better world. British business didn't like it either.

Even with the scary scenarios painted by Stern, convincing electorates the pain is worth the gain won't be easy once the costs become transparent. Let's hope the Stern report proves no more reliable than earlier exercises in forecasting the future of the world.



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

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

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


1 November, 2006


I have often wondered how the Government would react if the world was faced with apocalypse now (or at least apocalypse sooner than expected), and now I know. First, they hold a press conference at which the press aren't allowed to ask questions (those apocalypse stories can be so gloomy). Then they get the Environment Secretary to come to the Commons and say that it is absolutely vital that we do something (our future depends on it) and he'll tell us what it is as soon as he finds out himself.

David Miliband gave what became known instantly as the Hot Air statement. I have to say that, in terms of actual production of thermal air, it was impressive. We must find a way to harness this abundant natural resource.

Britain's politicians are tackling climate change by producing historic levels of gobbledegook and we must find a way to turn that into fuel. Our future depends on it, as do our cheap holidays in Majorca.

David Miliband says that what our future really depends on is his climate change Bill (details to come). "Climate change is the greatest long-term threat faced by humanity," he said. "It could cause more human and financial suffering than the two world wars and the Great Depression put together." If that won't get you out there buying energyefficient light bulbs, then nothing will. Mr Miliband is almost a mythical figure in new Labour. Many see him as a future prime minister, but then they did not see him perform yesterday. Such is the hype that, in person, Mr Miliband never fails to disappoint. He may be young, bright and lanky but he also spouts total gibberish. Yesterday, for instance, he told us that forests grow on land. It was a shock to us all.

The climate-change bureaucracy is growing exponentially. In his statement yesterday, Mr Miliband told us about a new Public Private Partnership called the Energy Technologies Institute. Then there is a new joint task force on biofuels (its acronym is REEEP, which sounds suitably grim). Plus there is another new partnership to help to fund something called the "Energy Investment Framework". The Chancellor is going to host a conference next year to "kick off the partnership". But the really big news is that there is also going to be a new committee. I believe that, in the hierarchy of bureaucracy, a committee outranks partnerships and task forces. The new carbon committee sounds very important indeed. Mr Miliband emphasised that he will make sure it is independent. He added: "We will ensure that the committee's advice is transparent, equitable and mindful of sectoral and competitiveness impacts." What does he mean? We better find out because our future depends on it.

Peter Ainsworth, the Shadow Environment Secretary, is best known for his Beethoven hair. Yesterday it frizzed in anger as he claimed that the Government was stealing all of the Tories' green ideas. Mr Miliband said that the Tories were not green at all. "They are a shower no matter how many windmills they put on their roofs," he cried, for he is very jealous of that windmill.

Chris Huhne, for the Lib Dems, then said that Labour had stolen all of his party's green ideas. Mr Huhne then accused Mr Miliband of being an out-of-tune orchestra. He said that an in-tune orchestra would have set up a powerful committee to tackle climate change. At which point Mr Miliband looked outraged and said that Mr Huhne sounded like an old record. "If tackling climate change could be solved by setting up a committee," fumed Mr Miliband, "then I think successive governments would have solved this problem quite a long time ago."

I began to wonder if Mr Miliband had just forgotten that one of his four pillars for tackling climate change was to create a new powerful committee. I do hope he remembers soon. After all, our future depends on it.



By Melanie Phillips

Not since Nostradamus penned his obscure 16th-century verses prophesying the end of the world has a publishing event had the anticipated impact of today's report by Sir Nicholas Stern, about the threat to the planet posed by man-made global warming.

If the leaks are correct, Sir Nicholas is saying that unless the world takes immediate drastic action, we are all doomed. Floods and other natural disasters caused by global warming will trigger an economic catastrophe worse than the 1929 Wall Street crash. Far from green policies putting prosperity at risk, it is only such policies, he says, that will keep our consumer societies from global economic catastrophe.

Even before his actual words were published, the political game of greener than-thou had begun in earnest. First past the post was the Environment Minister David Miliband, after a leak from his department of proposals aimed at addressing global warming which would simply end modern life as we know it.

If these were implemented, drivers would be forced off the roads by swingeing increases in taxes and fuel duties. Cheap air flights would become as distant a memory as Concorde. Household goods, from washing machines to lightbulbs, would be priced off the shelves. In other words, we would be taxed back to an earlier, less prosperous age, and those on modest incomes would be hit the hardest.

Mr Miliband was promptly fried to a carbonised crisp by Gordon Brown, doubtless for daring to steal the Treasury's own environmentally-friendly thunder. If Brown is to be the new green, the Chancellor wants to take the credit himself. Mr Miliband's greater crime, however, was surely that his outrageous proposals at least had the merit of honesty. Reducing carbon emissions must cause considerable pain to western consumer societies. But the deeper question is, for what gain?

After all, Britain accounts for a mere 2 per cent of the world's energy demand. If we garaged every car, grounded every plane and rationed families to one lightbulb apiece, it would make virtually no difference. China alone - which is opening a new power station every day - would make up our carbon emissions in 13 months. In short, whatever we do to curb our carbon emissions is all but irrelevant to the future of the planet.

Sir Nicholas is well aware of this fact. So his message is that the whole world has to co-operate in reducing carbon emissions. But the greatest flaw in his argument is that the science upon which he is basing his dire predictions is flaky.

Sir Nicholas, Mr Miliband, the Royal Society, the Government's chief scientific adviser Sir David King, and a host of other terrifically grand panjandrums all claim there is no longer any scientific debate about whether man-made global warming is happening. It's a settled fact. Argument over.

Phooey. They are all simply playing green politics. You have only to read the scientific assessments made by the ecological holy of holies itself, the International Panel on Climate Change, to see that the science that is used to support the theory actually stresses over and over again the uncertainties surrounding it, and the extreme unreliability of the computer models that produce the apocalyptic forecasts of huge rises in global temperature.

Such models bear about as much relation to reality as astrology. As the distinguished American meteorologist Professor Richard Lindzen observed last weekend, the computer modelling performed at the Hadley Centre, one of Britain's most vociferous proponents of man-made climate change, was seriously at odds with the actual warming that was taking place.

The facts are that the rise in temperature over the past century, 0.6C (plus or minus 0.2C), is unexceptional; and that clouds and water vapour are far more significant presences in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Yet this is an issue where ideology is simply driving out evidence. Sir Nicholas will apparently highlight the threat of catastrophic rises in sea level. But according to the IPCC, the seas are not rising. Although they were higher in the last century than in the previous one, it says in its Third Scientific Report: 'No significant acceleration in the rate of sea-level rise during the 20th century has been detected.'

Yet people prefer to believe the absurdities propounded by former U.S. presidential candidate Al Gore in his eco-doomsday film An Inconvenient Truth. In the film he cites, for example, the Polynesian island of Tuvalu as a place where rising sea levels forced residents to evacuate their homes. But this isn't true. Sea levels at Tuvalu actually fell during the latter half of the 20th century. An inconvenient truth indeed. But who cares about the facts when there's money to be made out of human credulity?

For the Treasury, whose speciality has been to devise ever more fiendish stealth taxes, the hysteria over climate change has presented it with a bonanza plucked from the air (literally). It doubtless thinks it can impose eye-watering new taxes by proclaiming that this is the only way to save the planet. Since Sir Nicholas is a senior Treasury official, it might be assumed that the Chancellor intends to tax modern life until the electoral pipsqueaks turn green.

But this isn't the only pound sign now flashing emerald at the Treasury. A lot of people are making a fortune out of climate change doomsday scenarios. Carbon trading, in particular, is now an enormous global business.

This is how it works. Governments set limits on carbon emissions and then permit companies to trade in the credits they stack up for meeting these targets. If companies want to emit more, they must buy more credits from companies with a carbon surplus. The aim is to give firms an incentive to reduce their carbon emissions.

The credits, however, are given for a virtual commodity - tonnes of carbon dioxide which have not been put into the atmosphere. The system can easily be abused - by setting the targets too high, or by rewarding countries such as Russia or the Ukraine where emissions have fallen because their economies are failing.

Nevertheless, this virtual market is producing vast profits. Thus the bank Morgan Stanley recently unveiled a ś1.6bn investment in carbon trading; and the World Bank, where Sir Nicholas previously worked as chief economist, is heavily involved in the trade. Is it any surprise, therefore, that his report is expected to give carbon trading an enormous boost?

And the Chancellor is already there before him. In a speech delivered last April, Mr Brown said: 'Our ultimate goal must be a global carbon market,' which he saw as a driver of future economic growth. In other words, on the back of an alleged global catastrophe, Mr Brown sees an unrivalled national business opportunity. Sir Nicholas, it would appear, was brought in to make the argument for a policy that had already been decided.

This is literally making money out of thin air. Surreal, or what? Our Chancellor is taking us from economics to airconomics. The biggest business opportunity of the century may make the South Sea Bubble look like the acme of prudence.

The great satirist Jonathan Swift mocked scientists by inventing a scheme by which they made sunbeams out of cucumbers. Making money out of the air, on the back of a scientifically unproven panic, would surely defy even the powers of a Swift to invent a more preposterous fiction.



Green taxes are not the solution to a better world. Having exhausted stealth taxes, the Government is reaching for green taxes: levies on flying, driving and household appliances. The beauty of eco-taxes, from Gordon Brown's point of view, is that people won't want to be seen to be against them. Those who dispute their efficacy - including this newspaper - will be dismissed as having fallen for tendentious science, or being in the pay of the oil companies, or simply not caring about the viability of the planet. A few seconds' thought should reveal how asinine these accusations are. Surely we can take it as read that everyone is in favour of life on Earth.

The Daily Telegraph accepts that the planet is getting warmer, and that human activity is probably contributing to this. (Some scientists maintain that the change is due chiefly to the cyclical warming of the sun; but, given the stakes, we ought to err on the side of caution.) Although global warming might bring some benefits - warmer winters, wetter deserts and faster-growing plants - these are likely to be outweighed by its deleterious consequences, especially in equatorial regions.

Our objection to the Kyoto process has to do with proportionality, not objectives. For a fraction of what we are being asked to spend on compliance, we might eliminate malaria and all other water-borne diseases. In any case, Kyoto is mainly aimed at the industrialised world, when the surge in greenhouse emissions is coming from fast-developing countries such as China and India. If the United Kingdom were to eliminate its pollutants altogether, it would make almost no difference: Britain accounts for only two per cent of greenhouse gases.

Indeed, it is hard to avoid the suspicion that, for many on the Left, Kyoto is a handy way of advancing an agenda that has little to do with the environment: one that seeks always to blame the West, that is hostile to free trade, and that looks instinctively to state intervention. The trouble is that governments tend to be inefficient. There is no reason to expect the state to be any better at protecting the environment than it was at making cars or running the Millennium Dome.

It is a pity that all three main parties have bought into the idea that state regulation is the answer. Market mechanisms have proved highly effective at delivering green goals. Extending property rights to cover air and water quality, and allowing citizens to sue polluters, is a surer way of securing a clean environment than relying on government inspectors. Privatising rainforests gives owners an immediate stake in their protection. Treating endangered species as the property of those on whose land they roam encourages locals to treat them as a renewable resource.

This is not to say that green taxes are always and everywhere wrong. Where they can deliver an identifiable goal - as when Ireland introduced a small charge on supermarket bags - they have a place. But taxes should be used soberly, judiciously and reluctantly; never as a way of flaunting one's green credentials.



The latest brainwave from the original moonbat below:

One of the reasons why so little has been done to stop climate change is that everyone makes an exception for themselves. We can all agree, for example, that there are too many cars on the roads, while insisting that we cannot possibly leave ours at home. The same problem applies to businesses: the people who run them might agree that collective action urgently needs to be taken, but unfortunately their sector is just too important and its requirements too demanding. This seems to be the prevailing ethos at the moment in sport.

I don't want to be a killjoy and I recognise that many sports are considered a matter of life and death by their fans. But climate change really is a matter of life and death. However important the next fixture might seem, it doesn't compare to the drying out of sub-Saharan Africa or the flooding of some of the world's major cities. Almost all climate scientists now agree that two degrees of global warming would trigger off catastrophic climate change, with the potential to displace hundreds of millions of people. To avert it, the latest figures suggest, we need a 90 per cent cut in carbon emissions from every economic sector in the rich world by 2030. And that, I am sorry to say, includes sport.

Some sports are simply incompatible with any likely solution to the problem. The most obvious example is motor racing. There is a direct relationship between an engine's performance and the amount of greenhouse gases it produces: the faster the car, the quicker it cooks the planet. At the moment, there is no foreseeable means by which a racing car's emissions can be brought down by 90 per cent within the necessary time frame. Biodiesel currently causes more harm to people and the environment than good, as it pushes up food prices and encourages the felling of tropical forests. One day - perhaps in 20 or 30 years - racing cars might run on hydrogen or electricity. Unfortunately, that's too late: the major cuts have to be made right now.

Even sports such as football and athletics that are inherently harmless cause major environmental effects, thanks to the transport of spectators. The organisers of the Sydney Olympics did more or less all they could to make the Games as green as possible: they ran the buildings in the Olympic Village on solar power, used recycled materials and cleaned up contaminated sites. Even Greenpeace gave them a score of six out of 10. But Sydney is on the other side of the world. Just one return journey from the UK to Australia uses twice a person's sustainable emission of carbon dioxide for an entire year. Beijing is expecting

1.5 million visitors to the 2008 Games, a third of whom will come from overseas. Like most Olympic hosts, China hopes the new airport and tourist facilities it is building will attract custom for years. It is hard to think of a better formula than a global sporting event for causing maximum environmental damage.

Building these facilities also exerts a tremendous environmental cost. Because it has to be heated to 1,450řC, and because the chemical process itself releases carbon dioxide, every tonne of cement produces one tonne of climate-changing gas. Steel is even more polluting. Arsenal's recent move to the Emirates Stadium produced tens of thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases. The impacts are even greater when a sport has to create an artificial environment. The exemplar is SkiDubai, a huge man-made mountain, which remains below freezing just a steel skin away from desert temperatures.

In August, the Evening Standard reported that most of the eco-features that were supposed to have made the London Olympics the 'greenest Games ever' have been quietly dropped. Instead of using 100 per cent renewable energy to power the Olympic Village, the real figure will now be more like 10 per cent.

Perhaps it's time to consider a fixed site for the Olympics and to encourage spectators to stay at home and watch international events on the telly. Perhaps we should recognise that some sports are simply too wasteful to be sustained. It is, after all, just entertainment. Can we really live with the idea that we might destroy the planet for fun?


Australian PM defiant over global warming

John Howard has dug in over coal-fired power, nuclear energy and refusing to sign the Kyoto protocol in the face of an international report predicting a catastrophic economic cost of $9 trillion if nothing is done to stop global warming. Labor and conservation groups immediately labelled the Coalition a rogue nation on greenhouse gases for refusing to ratify the Kyoto agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The Prime Minister told Parliament yesterday he would not sign an international agreement that did not put the same limits on the fast-growing economies of China and India and that coal would continue to provide most of the world's energy to 2050. "What you really need in this debate is to have a multiplicity of responses," Mr Howard told Parliament. "The only things that will ever replace the current dirty power stations are cleaner uses of fossil fuel, or nuclear power. You will never replace them with solar or wind."

A dire report from Britain has called for urgent international action to cut greenhouse gases or face economic failure worse than the Great Depression. While grim in its outlook if nothing is done, the report is optimistic that a concerted effort to develop clean coal technologies will be able to stabilise world greenhouse gas emissions. Described by British Prime Minister Tony Blair as the "most important" report he has received, the document says the economic impact of global warming must be addressed immediately to avoid catastrophic economic effects. Compiled by former British Treasury head Nicholas Stern, it estimates the cost of not cutting greenhouse emissions by 2050 to range from 5 per cent of world GDP - $455 billion - if action is taken now, up to 20 per cent of world GDP "if a wider range of risks and impacts is taken into account". But the Stern report concludes that the costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change "can be limited to around 1 per cent of global GDP each year". Australian estimates of such an impact on the energy-based economy are between $15 billion and $66 billion a year, driving down Australian wages by 20 per cent.

Labor Treasury spokesman Wayne Swan said the Stern report said urgent action had to be taken and supported the expansion of the carbon trading system established under the Kyoto protocol. "It says, basically, that the globe and individual nations have a window of opportunity, only of 10 or 15 years, to act," Mr Swan said. ALP environment spokesman Anthony Albanese said Australia must immediately ratify the Kyoto protocol, introduce a national emissions-trading scheme and increase the renewable energy target. "Climate change is the greatest challenge facing not just Australia but the global community, and we have a government that refuses to take action," he said. "The Howard Government is frozen in time while the globe warms around it."

Mr Howard said the "variety of responses" had to include a sensible examination of the nuclear power alternative.



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

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

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