Tracking the politics of fear....  

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31 October, 2005


Secret plans for a multi-billion-pound package of stealth taxes on fuel, cars, air travel and consumer goods have been drawn up by the Government to combat global warming. The proposals, leaked to The Mail on Sunday, show that the Government is considering introducing a raft of hard-hitting 'eco-taxes' that will have a devastating effect on the cost of living. Families with big cars could end up paying more than 1,000 pounds a year extra in tax. And nearly every household in Britain will be hit in the pocket.

Most controversial of all, the documents reveal the Government is planning to grab billions of pounds of extra revenue from motorists - without telling them. It is considering introducing a special mechanism so that whenever oil prices go down, the Government would get the cash in extra fuel tax - not the motorist. A leaked letter from Environment Secretary David Miliband to Chancellor Gordon Brown says the advantage of this is that the Government would gain billions of pounds 'without individual announcements on fuel-duty rises needing to be made'. The Government was immediately accused by the Conservatives of trying to introduce more 'stealth taxes' and failing to be honest with voters about the consequences of dealing with climate change.

The leak comes 24 hours before Tony Blair launches a major report warning that floods and other natural disasters caused by global warming will spark an economic catastrophe worse than the 1929 Wall Street Crash. But the report, by economist Sir Nicholas Stern, does not reveal what the Government plans to do about it. But a leaked letter written from Mr Miliband to Mr Brown on October 18 and obtained by The Mail on Sunday spells out the grim reality: wide-ranging tax rises that will have a dramatic impact on family incomes.

Mr Miliband calls for tough measures to combat 'car use and ownership' with a 'substantial increase' in road tax, which currently costs a maximum of 210 pounds a year. Mr Miliband says road tax should copy the 'success' of companycar taxes which forced people to switch to smaller vehicles with annual levies of up to 5,000 pounds. He also suggests a 'Treasury mechanism' allowing the Government to benefit from any fall in oil prices and reintroducing the 'fuel-duty escalator', which put up the duty on petrol by five per cent over inflation until Mr Brown ordered a freeze in 1999. Mr Miliband calls for a new 'pay-per-mile pollution tax' on motorists. And he urges VAT on air travel to EU destinations and new taxes on inefficient washing machines and light bulbs.

He also backs fresh laws to let town halls impose a 'rubbish tax' on households by using 'spies' placed in dustbins to weigh non-recyclable refuse. The letter says: 'Differential charging for waste at household level can have a significant role to play and local authorities should be given the powers to do so.' Mr Miliband also called for landfill tax - paid by businesses and local councils that bury rubbish - to be increased from 21 pounds a ton to 75. But one environmental expert said this could lead to more flytipping unless it is properly policed.

The letter to Mr Brown, marked ' Restricted', demands urgent and radical action in next month's public-spending review and next year's Budget. Changing people's behaviour can be achieved only by 'market forces and price signals', it says, adding: ' Marketbased instruments, including taxes, need to play a substantial role. As our understandings of climate change increases, it is clear more needs to be done.' The Government must 'increase the pace of existing tax measures, broaden them into sectors where incentives to cut carbon emissions are weak and identify new instruments to drive progress in tackling greenhouse gas'.

An aide to Mr Miliband said last night: 'We don't comment on leaked documents. These are ideas, not a package of measures.' An ally of Mr Brown added: 'The Chancellor does not approve of conducting Government business on the basis of leaks.'

Tory environment spokesman Peter Ainsworth said: 'No one is more committed to tackling climate change than the Conservatives. But if the Government wants to deal with it successfully, it must do so in an upfront way instead of bringing in stealth taxes by the back door. As with everything this Government does, the devil is in the detail. If motorists and consumers think all the Government wants to do is to slap taxes on everything, they may respond negatively. 'Tony Blair's Government has sat on its hands for ten years. Tackling the enormous challenge of climate change would have been much easier if they hadn't left it so late.'

Professor Julian Morris, environmental economist at Birmingham University and director of the International Policy Network, a free-market think-tank, called the new taxes 'underhand' and accused the Government of 'nannying'.



British business is this weekend fighting off calls for a raft of new green taxes that it fears will follow the publication of an influential government report tomorrow. The Stern Review is expected to warn that failure to address climate change could slash global economic growth by up to 20 per cent a year - a controversial view that will turn conventional thinking on climate change on its head. Businesses are worried that the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, will use the report by Sir Nicholas Stern, the respected economist, as an excuse to introduce a range of new anti-business pollution taxes.

David Frost, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "We are very concerned that business is going to be made to pick up the tab for solving the world's environmental problems. "The fact is that families produce a lot of CO2 as well. It's vital the Government resists the temptation to introduce more taxes and regulations." Stephen Alambritis of the Federation of Small Businesses said: "There seems to be an all-party consensus that something needs to be done about the environment. We fear business may be thought of as a soft target. In reality, a lot of the increase in CO2 emissions is down to domestic use and greater use of transport. But it's consumers who vote - not businesses."

The Chancellor has a range of possible green taxes at his disposal. Options include raising fuel duty or increasing taxation on air travel. Nick Goulding of the Forum of Private Business said it was vital that any new regulations inspired by the report were not rushed through. "Business already pays too much tax," he said. "If new taxes are increased then the Government must slash other business taxes, ideally National Insurance contributions. If not, the economy will suffer."

Many businesses have already taken steps to improve their energy efficiency because of soaring fuel prices over the past two years. The BCC said 52.7 per cent of its members in a recent poll considered themselves "energy efficient", while a further 31.1 per cent were considering become more so. However, a hard core of about 20 per cent said it was too costly for them to consider becoming more energy efficient. The lobby groups maintain that the Government should do more to encourage businesses to go green.

The Forum of Private Business wants to see bigger tax breaks for firms that buy environmentally friendly machinery. Meanwhile, the BCC wants to see the Government beef up the Carbon Trust, the agency that works with businesses to lower carbon emissions.

The report by Stern stretches to 700 pages. An official close to the review said he would call for a dramatic boost in research and development spending on green energy and technology by government and businesses. Stern will say that global R&D spending by government and business will have to double from $10bn (ú5bn) to $20bn over the next five to ten years. "The report itself will not outline specific tax policies," said an official. "It will point out that becoming more energy efficient is also an opportunity to boost our economies."



Almost every day produces another doom-filled warning about global warming: a report tomorrow predicts a worldwide recession as a result of climate change. But, as Ross Clark reports, where there is anxiety, there's also business opportunity... and taxes, of course

Tomorrow, when Sir Nicholas Stern, the head of the Government's Economic Service, publishes his 700-page report claiming that global warming could shrink the world economy by 20 per cent, Ru Hartwell will have some reason to feel optimistic. He has just taken out a 30,000 pound mortgage on his home in Tregaron, west Wales, in order to set up a business,, which helps airline passengers assuage their consciences by having a tree planted, at 10 pounds a time, every time they take to the sky. In the three months since he started his business he has already taken 600 orders on his website, plus another 200 to 300 through a link-up with several travel agencies.

Buyers are promised that their tree will be numbered and tagged, so that they can come and inspect the sapling planted in an attempt to counter the environmental vandalism of their fortnight in Marbella. "I have been planting trees for years to offset my carbon emissions," says Mr Hartwell, 48. "But I ran out of resources and thought, rather than just me making a contribution, why not get people who are polluting more than I am to make a contribution too?"

Mr Hartwell is one tiny part of a multi-million pound industry that has grown out of the guilt created by grim predictions of global warming. There are dozens of companies now offering to "offset" your carbon emissions by planting trees, contributing towards the construction of windfarms or paying for green energy schemes in the third world.

On the subject of whether planting a tree really will make up for the carbon emitted by an airline trip, Mr Hartwell, who has worked as a professional tree-planter for, among others, the Forestry Commission, is honest. "I have planted my land with trees and I heat my home with wood rather than fossil fuels. If anyone was carbon-neutral it would be me, but I'm still nowhere near. A tree stores carbon for the duration of its life, but then releases it when it starts to rot. "That is why I am thinking of setting up a trust which will harvest the trees in a hundred years, and then dump them at sea or bury them underground in anaerobic conditions where they will continue to store their carbon.

"I'm trying to do it right, but what some carbon offset companies have been doing is taking money from the public, then claiming more money for tree-planting under the Woodland Grant Scheme. They then plant their trees on land which they don't own. How secure is that? The landowner could harvest the trees well before they had offset your emissions."

Besides being invited to offset their carbon emissions, guilty consumers are being tempted with lorry loads of "carbon-neutral" gifts. "This year make your Xmas a little greener by giving gifts from our great selection," screams the website of the Carbon Neutral Company. "You could balance out the emissions from someone's flights, home or travel... We've got ecogifts and gadgets that you and your family are sure to love." Among them are a "water-powered calculator" at 14.99 and a "wind-up torch and phone-charger" at 11.99.

The Carbon Neutral Company began life as Future Forests Ltd, doing much the same as Mr Hartwell does now. Since then, it has branched out into consultancy work, advising companies such as Honda and the mobile phone operator O2 on how to promote a greener image. Honda, for example, was advised to come up with a wheeze offering customers "one month of carbon-neutral driving" - in other words it gave a small donation to carbon-offset schemes for every car sold.

Under a tab marked "evidence", the website of the Carbon Neutral Company does not offer proof of global warming or give any hint as to whether the company's activities will make any difference to the planet. What it does offer is a piece of research by something called the Institute of Business Ethics, claiming: "Companies with a public commitment to ethics perform better on three out of four measures than those without. These companies also have 18 per cent higher profits on average."

Another way to cash in on global warming, as The Sunday Telegraph revealed in July, is to take advantage of the European Union's Emission Trading Scheme, which set carbon emission targets for particular industries and then allowed those industries to "sell" emissions if they undershot their targets and forced them to "buy" emissions if they overshot their targets. A study by the think-tank Open Europe found that some companies have been making a fortune from undershooting extremely liberal targets: GlaxoSmithKline's plant in Dartford, for example, used only a fifth of its allocation, while the scheme boosted the profits of BP and Esso by 5 million and 5.8 million respectively. Perversely, some of that money came from NHS hospitals, which had overshot their targets and were forced to buy emission rights from oil companies.

But it is not just private enterprise that has found fear of global warming to be the route to a fortune. Public bodies are using global warming as an excuse for revenue-raising. Justifying his plan to charge drivers of 4x4s 300 pounds for a parking permit, Serge Lourie, the leader of Richmond-upon-Thames borough council, said last week: "Climate change is the single greatest challenge faced by the world today. We can no longer bury our head in the sand and pretend that it is not happening."

While the Government lowered petrol taxes in face of the protests of September 2000, it has used climate change as an excuse for levying charges on homeowners. From next June, all homeowners thinking of placing their homes on the market will be obliged first to obtain an "energy performance certificate" at a cost of around 150 pounds a time. Since 2002, homeowners replacing windows, much to the glee of the double-glazing industry, have been obliged to fit double-glazing, and to pay their local authority to inspect it.

A growing number of public servants owe their careers to global warming. The Carbon Trust, a not-for-profit company which advises industry on how to cut its carbon emissions, chomped its way through a grant of 73.7 million from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs last year, paying its chief executive, Tom Delay, salary and bonuses of 200,478. Many of its functions are duplicated by the Energy Saving Trust, another not-for-profit company that spent 59 million worth of public grants last year. On top of that, there are the likes of the climate change co-ordinator recently appointed by the unelected North East Regional Assembly on a salary of 35,000.

There are also two Government-funded research units into climate change: the Hadley Centre, which is part of the Met Office, and the Tyndall Centre, which funds researchers at a number of universities, armed with a 10 million grant from the Government. Anyone wondering why British scientists appear often to present a united front on the issue of global warming may do well to study the Tyndall Centre's "objectives", which include "to seek, evaluate and facilitate sustainable solutions that will minimise the adverse effects of climate change and stimulate policy for the transition to a more benign energy and mobility regime". In other words, if you want public money to study climate at a British university, the answers are given upfront: the climate is changing, it is the fault of mankind and it can be alleviated by reducing energy use and travel.

It is an ill wind that blows no one any good. As the nation starts to digest Sir Nicholas's report tomorrow, it may care to reflect that some people are finding global warming quite profitable too.



By Prof. Richard Lindzen

No, global warming isn't a real threat, says Richard Lindzen, Arthur P Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Over the last 100 years or so, globally averaged surface temperature, which is always varying a little, has gone both up and down, but over the whole period it is estimated to have risen about half a degree centigrade (using the US National Climate Data Centre's analysis; other analyses give as much as 0.65C). However, this value is associated with substantial error bars, and the warming is occurring in a system that can vary about that much without any forcing at all - something not surprising in a system that is both turbulent and heterogeneous.

Yes, there does appear to be warming, but the amount is hardly certain or indisputable. And the amount found does not appear that alarming. The alarm, I would suppose, comes from the notoriously inadequate climate models. As the primary "consensus" document, the Scientific Assessment of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes, modellers at the United Kingdom's Hadley Centre had to cancel two-thirds of the model warming in order to simulate the observed warming. So the warming alarm is based on models that overestimate the observed warming by a factor of three or more, and have to cancel most of the warming in order to match observations. Rather than entertaining the rather obvious possibility that the models are over-reacting to increasing greenhouse gases, advocates are assuming that the cancellation will disappear in the future.

Why might models be over-reacting? The answer is actually fairly simple. Carbon dioxide and methane are minor greenhouse gases (and methane has, for unknown reasons stopped increasing, during the last five years). Doubling carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would, all else held constant, only lead to about 1C of warming; quadrupling carbon dioxide would only add another 1C (there is a diminishing return in warming per unit carbon dioxide).

The greater response arises because in current models, the most important greenhouse substances, water vapour and clouds, act so as to amplify the impact of increasing carbon dioxide. But, as the previously cited IPCC document notes, water vapour and especially clouds are major sources of uncertainty in models.

Given the above, what is all the hyperventilating about? Personally, I don't know. It certainly can't be the temperature record. For the past five years, the global mean temperature has been flat to within a few hundredths of a degree (well within the measurement uncertainty); indeed, there has been no statistically significant change in 10 years.

Perhaps, on the other hand, that is the reason. Individuals across the planet have been pushing their agenda to "hurry the future" for over 20 years. Maybe, they feel that if they can't get their way now, they may never be able to. After all, like hurricane frequency or the price of oil, global mean temperature is as likely to go down as up.

However, the more obvious question is why is the agenda specified (typically such things as pollution reduction, energy independence, efficiency, north-south transfer of wealth and technology, etc.) in need of the artificial support of global warming hysteria? Many of those goals could be more easily achieved (assuming they are reasonable goals) if we ceased to focus on carbon dioxide, which is a natural and essential substance produced by breathing. With trillions of dollars at stake, this is no small matter.

To be sure, for those who enthuse over the regulatory state, the possibility of regulating breathing must be like a dream come true. Under the circumstances, perhaps we should be suspicious of the dishonourable tradition of establishing the alleged truth of global warming by constant repetition, while ignoring reality.



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


30 October, 2005


Seven countries set to break emission limits, says environment commissioner

The European Union, self-styled global champion in the battle against climate change, is falling woefully short of its targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and will need to take radical measures to achieve them, new projections have shown.

The European commission said that, based on current measures and policies, the emissions of the EU's original 15 members will be just 0.6% below 1990 levels by 2010. The EU-15 countries are committed under the Kyoto protocol to an 8% cut on 1990 levels by 2012.

The new figures predict that emissions in 2010 will actually be 0.3% higher than they were in 2004.

The commission's projections come ahead of Monday's report by Sir Nicholas Stern, former chief economist at the World Bank, which will warn that climate change could push the global economy into the worst recession in recent history.

Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser, said this week that the Stern report showed that "if no action is taken we will be faced with the kind of downturn that has not been seen since the great depression and two world wars".

The findings published yesterday, based on national projections compiled by the staff of Stavros Dimas, the EU environment commissioner, are designed to spur European leaders into pressing for tougher targets in the second, post-2012 round of Kyoto at a UN conference on climate change in Nairobi early next month. The 25 governments have set targets of up to 30% cuts by 2020 and 80% by 2050, but not made them binding.

Mr Dimas said that, on unchanged policies, seven countries - Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain - would exceed their individual emission limits, which are binding under EU law. Even with extra measures, Spain is projected to exceed its 1990 emissions by 51.3% in 2010, compared with an allowed increase under Kyoto of 15%.

Spain's annual economic growth is nearly 4%, one of the highest rates in western Europe, but it has suffered from extreme weather prompting greater use of fossil fuels. Ireland is projected to reach 30% above 1990 levels by 2010, against an allowance of 13%, and Portugal 42.7% higher, with an allowance of 27%.

Esther Bollendorff, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "This is pretty dramatic as the projected 0.6% is not even a tenth of the target. This sends a very weak signal about the EU ahead of the Nairobi conference."

Mr Dimas is to propose that civil aviation be brought within the EU's CO2 emissions trading scheme and is considering legislation for car manufacturers. Transport accounts for 22% of EU emissions, jeopardising gains made in heavy industry. He is threatening to slash the planned industry emission caps submitted by 18 countries and has begun infringement proceedings against seven that failed to submit plans on time. Only Britain, which is projected to cut emissions by 23.2% against a Kyoto limit of 12.5%, and Sweden, likely to achieve a 1% cut against an allowed increase of 4%, are on track on current policies.

Last week the commission published an energy efficiency plan designed to achieve 20% savings by 2020, including a EUR100bn (67bn pound) cut in fuel bills. It said yesterday that additional measures already agreed at EU and national levels would take the EU15's reduction to 4.6% - if fully implemented on time. But only by buying rights to emit greenhouse gases from countries in the ex-communist bloc will the EU get even close to hitting the 8% cut.



A ground-breaking report due on Monday will say that the impact of global poverty, conflict and mass migration due to climate change far outweighs the costs of taking urgent action to counter global warming. The report by chief British government economist Nicholas Stern will underpin efforts to reach a new global deal to combat climate change when the current Kyoto Protocol agreement ends in 2012.

The United States, the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gases that cause climate change, pulled out of Kyoto saying taking action would too expensive and cost jobs.

The report, by the former World Bank chief economist, tackles US scepticism head-on by seeking to prove the costs of tackling global warming are small compared to the potentially enormous impact of runaway climate change in year's ahead. In his closely-argued 700-page review Mr Stern says action to curb the most dangerous effects of global warming will hold back growth in the world economy only slightly over the next 45 years, said a source who had seen a draft.

But the effects of uncontrolled climate change could be devastating, Mr Stern says in a report pitched at policymakers who gather next month to discuss extending Kyoto. "He will talk a lot in that report about the scale and urgency of what's required," said John Ashton, special representative for climate change at the British foreign office. "We are all (including Britain, Europe) going to have to do an awful lot better. There is no government which has in place the policies that will eat into this at the scale and with the urgency necessary at the moment," he said.

A scientific consensus is emerging that global greenhouse gas emissions, except from food production, will have to shrink to near-zero by mid-century, said Mr Ashton - requiring a huge leap given that emissions are rising in the European Union. "We need to get very close to a zero carbon global energy economy. This is the biggest structural shift in the way the global economy works that has ever been attempted by humanity, it's an enormous demand of any economy."

Mr Stern will stress that taking action on climate change offers benefits, given that a major way to cut greenhouse gas emissions is by burning fossil fuels more efficiently, offering huge cost-savings. To drive the necessary energy investment changes he will call for a global carbon price, whether through carbon taxes or carbon markets - affixing a clear cost to pollution.

This would build on rather isolated existing carbon markets, such as in the European Union and among countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and mooted markets in California and other US states. "We'll need to develop deep and liquid carbon markets," said a Treasury source. "The combination of price and trading schemes will be central to drive financial flows (investment in emissions cuts)."

Carbon markets set an overall cap on emissions of greenhouse gases but allow companies or countries to trade rights to emit. The idea is that businesses and countries that can cut emissions cheaply will over-achieve and sell their surplus rights to emit to others, cutting the overall cost of cuts. Mr Stern wants an expansion of carbon trading between rich and poor countries under Kyoto.

Britain has raised the alarm on climate change in the run-up to Mr Stern's review. Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Dutch counterpart Jan Peter Balkenende said last week the world had just 10 to 15 years to take steps to avoid catastrophe.



Airlines could relocate out of the European Union if the European Commission decides to include aviation emissions in Europe's carbon emissions trading scheme, the European Regions Airline Association warned Tuesday. The emissions scheme, which charges industry for emitting carbon dioxide, should apply to non-EU as well as EU airlines in order to prevent EU airlines from being placed at a competitive disadvantage, the ERAA said in a report.

But ERAA spokesman Simon McNamara said that for legal reasons the scheme would be difficult for the Commission to impose on companies based outside the EU flying in Europe, which might encourage airlines to relocate outside of Europe. "Are you really solving the problem of (rising aviation emission), which is an international issue, if companies are just relocating?" McNamara said.

The EU launched emissions trading scheme in 2005 where governments set limits on the amount of carbon dioxide that can be emitted by industry, such as electricity, steel and cement. Firms that stay within their limits can sell their spare emission permits to companies that have exceeded their limits. The scheme was designed to ensure that Europe meets its target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 8 percent by 2012 compared with 1990 levels.

In the first phase of the scheme (2005-2007), the aviation industry was excluded but the European Commission said Thursday that it plans to release proposals for including aviation in the emissions trading scheme in the next few weeks.

The ERAA report also argues that the emissions trading scheme shouldn't apply to other greenhouse gases emitted by airplanes, such as nitrogen oxide, because there is insufficient scientific knowledge regarding the effect of these gases on global warming. The ERAA also argues that nitrogen oxide emissions by airlines are already effectively controlled and taxed by international standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization _ which could mean aircraft would be penalized twice for these emissions.

According to the European Commission, emissions from Europe's international flights increased by 73 percent from 1990 to 2003. At that pace, by 2012 they will have risen by 150 percent from 1990 levels.



Czech President Vaclav Klaus stressed the need to rehabilitate further sources of energy, including nuclear, at the current informal EU summit, and dismissed warnings against global warming. Klaus said in his speech that the discussion on the EU's external energy policy must follow up its internal energy policy, and the use of other energy sources, such as thermal and nuclear power plants. He said that he was surprised that no one pronounced the word "nuclear" in the two hours of deliberations that preceded his speech.

Klaus said at a subsequent press conference that nuclear energy is the cheapest of all available forms of energy. Without it, humankind cannot survive, or it would have to return to pine torches. Referring to a claim by Javier Solana, High Representative for the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy, Klaus said that some 100 nuclear power plants will be built in the world within 20 years and that he believes that Europe cannot stand aside.

Klaus also challenged the assertion of the British and Dutch prime ministers, Tony Blair and Jan Peter Balkenende, respectively, that the world will reach a disastrous point of reverse within 10 to 15 years due to global warming. Blair and Balkenende expressed this warning in a letter they addressed to the summit.

Klaus said in his speech in this connection that "the future discussion on the EU's energy policy...should be conducted on the basis of rational considerations about possible connections of the energy industry and climatic changes." "In my opinion, such loose statements as those used in this letter are not of this character," Klaus said. He said at the press conference that "what is concisely referred to as global warming, is a fatal mistake of the present time."

Klaus said that first a reply must be given to the question whether something like this does exist, and if it does, whether it is connected with human activities. "And if any movement in temperatures does occur, and it will in any case be x-times smaller than what some bearers of disastrous news claim, will it be any problem for man?" Klaus 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.


29 October, 2005


Internationally renowned environmental campaigner Professor David Bellamy has joined the New Zealand group of scientists trying to refute what they believe are unfounded claims about man-made global warming. Dr Bellamy, who joins scientists such as former MetService chief meteorologist Dr Augie Auer in the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, was introduced to the group through a member in England. The coalition has set down "seven pillars of climate wisdom" that include:

* Historically, conditions in many parts of the world have been warmer and cooler than they are now.

* A major driver of climate change is variability in solar effects, such as sunspot cycles, and not increased carbon dioxide.

* Global temperatures have not increased and a projection of solar cycles suggest cooling could set in and continue to about 2030.

* Stories of impending climate disaster are based almost entirely on global climate models.

Dr Bellamy said: "I look forward to working with the New Zealanders to create an international coalition to serve as a united voice for the many scientists around the world who believe climate science is not settled, that the world is not on the brink of a man-made global warming catastrophe and that we have much more to learn about this planet of ours that has been through and survived many natural upheavals and climatic cycles."

In 2004, Dr Bellamy described man-made global warming as "poppycock" then asserted last year that a large percentage of the world's glaciers were advancing, not retreating, but later admitted the figures were wrong.

NIWA climate scientist Brett Mullan, who is also a member of the Royal Society's New Zealand Climate Committee, said the coalition's refusal to believe in man-made global warming was a "frustration". "I am disappointed. We point them to the evidence and they just don't seem to wish to accept it." He said climate modelling had proven effective, such as in projecting temperature increases after the eruption of Mt Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991. Solar activity, monitored over the past 30 years, did not account for the climate changes being experienced now. Temperatures varied from year to year, with the last peak in 1998, but overall temperatures were still much higher now than in the 1950s or 60s. [Pick a date and get any answer you wish] Dr Mullan said the world's top climate scientists had formed a consensus through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "We are seeing warming and it's caused by human activities."



One of the most misguided ideas in any debate is the idea that the consensus view is usually, if not always, right. All too frequently the accepted wisdom has been completely and comprehensively wrong. We may react with disbelief that anyone believed, or indeed still believes, that ships would sail over the edge of earth, and possibly be gobbled up by monsters, because the earth was flat. But historically this has been an accepted wisdom. And we may be bemused, even a trifle alarmed, that Galileo was threatened with the torture because he supported Copernicus's revolutionary (no pun intended) theory that the earth goes round the sun rather than vice versa. But Copernicus's maverick theory challenged a consensus that was politically dangerous to challenge.

Economics, albeit more prosaically, has also been subject to fads, whims and consensus views to which history has not been kind. Twenty-five years ago Britain was at an economic crossroads. The credibility of the British economy was collapsing as inflation and unemployment soared, manufacturing output slumped and the national debt spiralled upwards. Margaret Thatcher and her Chancellor, Sir Geoffrey Howe, concluded that drastic action was required. Taxes were raised by £4bn (then a huge sum) in the 1981 Budget in order to provide scope for lower interest rates and tackle public sector borrowing. There was, unsurprisingly, substantial political opposition.

But, of more interest, 364 economists signed a letter to The Times stating that there was "no basis in economic theory or supporting evidence" for Sir Geoffrey's policy and that it threatened Britain's "social and political stability". An alternative course of action must be pursued, these savants insisted. Almost the entire academic economic establishment stood against the Government with a mere handful of brave "mavericks" dissenting from the consensus view. But, as we now know, the letter's signatories were wrong because they believed in the then ubiquitous, but faulty, Keynesian consensus of the time.

Moreover, not only did the economics establishment regard Sir Geoffrey's Budget as fundamentally flawed, they also took the same view of the mavericks' judgments. This is instructive. Many in academia seem to believe that "peer-reviewed" research guarantees impartial, sound and independent assessment. It does not. Mavericks can be marked down and dismissed by their consensus-minded peers. Dissension is rarely popular.

The story of the 364 economists should be a warning to all who give the impression that the consensus view is an impregnable fortress of truth. Yet only recently Sir David King, the Government's Chief Scientist, was again reassuring us that at a meeting in Monterrey, Mexico, there had been a "scientific consensus" about climate change. Man-made carbon emissions were the main drivers of global warming. But the meeting was organised by the British Government to discuss the climate change action plan agreed at Gleneagles last year and the main protagonists were G8 ministers, hardly independently minded free spirits.

By happy coincidence, as the G8 delegates were flying to and from Monterrey, liberally scattering carbon emissions into the ether, the Royal Society was publishing a paper by a team from the Danish National Space Center (DNSC) of the utmost scientific significance. Interestingly, the DNSC team leader, one Henrik Svensmark, has been impeded and persecuted by scientific and government establishments in recent years because his findings have been politically inconvenient. Politically inconvenient they are indeed.

Very briefly, the latest DNSC research shows how cosmic rays from exploding stars can encourage cloud formation in the earth's atmosphere. As the Sun's magnetic field, which shields the earth from cosmic rays, strengthened significantly during the 20th century the average influx of cosmic rays, and hence cloudiness, was reduced over this period. The resulting reduction in cloudiness, especially low-altitude clouds which have an overall cooling effect, could, therefore, be a highly significant factor in the last century's global warming.

I am no climate scientist. But it is clear this research seriously challenges the current pseudo-consensus that global warming is largely caused by manmade carbon emissions. All the current carbon hysteria is a mistake - and a potentially costly one at that.

I have to admit I have some reservations about the Royal Society. They have sorely misrepresented me in the press at least twice. And they have frequently been accused of being the Government's mouthpiece on the science of global warming. After all, 67pc of their funding, some 30 million pounds, comes from Government. They have also, apparently, been accused of denying funding to any climate scientist who does not share their alarmist views. But, in publishing this research, they have added to a debate that has major economic and business implications for this country. They should be applauded.


"Climate change" as a scapegoat

Australia is the dry continent -- with recurrent droughts. But opportunists are blaming the present dry spell on global warming. Writing with particular reference to his home State of Victoria, Andrew Bolt writes that this is just a convenient excuse for governmental failure to prepare for the inevitable drought conditions

The merchants of global warming panic are wrong. Again. No, this is not the worst drought ever recorded. No, it is not so unprecedented that it proves man-made global warming is real. In fact, this may not even be a drought at all. Rainfall figures show we may be simply going back to the just-as-dry weather of the not-so-distant past. And those who shriek that global warming is now frying us like never before are peddling green hype, rather than the cool science we need to keep ourselves well-watered.

I'm referring, of course, to religious zealots such as Deputy Premier John Thwaites, the (No) Water Minister, who declared: "So all the evidence points to a significant involvement of global warming in the present drought." I'm referring also to Professor Peter Cullen, a National Water Commission member and top government adviser, who gloated that, thanks to the drought, "flat earth sceptics who have been in denial about climate change are now realising that wishing it away didn't work and are now berating governments for not building more dams". And I mustn't forget The Age, this cult's Bible, which claimed: "The continuing drought has forced . . . belated recognition by sceptics that climate change is not a fiction disseminated by doomsayers."

Nonsense. Consult not their faith but my facts, and look at the graph on the right, showing Victoria's annual rainfall from 1900 to 2005, as measured by the Weather Bureau. What you see are decades of often dry years followed by decades of often wet ones. And now -- in this past decade of drought -- we've gone back to where we once were. As in dry. Here are the figures that tell that story.

From 1900 to 1945, Victoria's average annual rainfall was 603mm. Then came 50 years of plenty, with average falls of 671mm. But in the past decade our rainfall has dropped back to around the average of those pre-war years -- or 591mm. You might say this still means we're (a fraction) drier than before. But this past decade is not even close to being the driest on record. Our average rainfall now of 591mm is still way above the panting lows recorded from 1936 to 1945 -- an average of just 543mm. And no one back then wailed in the dust about global warming.

So what does all this suggest? Three things. First, as I warned here two years ago, Victoria's patterns of rainfall may have shifted. Second, this change in climate is not at all unusual or extreme, and so certainly not proof of global warming, let alone of the man-made kind. Third, we may not even be in a drought at all, but returning to drier conditions that are perhaps more usual. What may be unusual is not this dry, but the few wet decades before that filled our big new Thomson dam.

None of what I've said will surprise people with a long history of managing the land and its water. Hear it from farmer George Warne, general manager of the giant Murray Irrigation, who says: "It is an overreaction to say this (drought) is climate change. "My family has been farming (in Victoria) since 1888, and we have kept records on weather conditions. I am certain a huge component of the latest drought is cyclical." Or hear it from the boss of water company United Utilities, Graham Dooley, who, like me, does not deny climate change, but says: "About every 50 years we get a drought. This latest dry is part of the typical cycle."

So if this drought -- or dry spell -- is not unusual, you should ask some hard questions of a few powerful people who don't seem to be facing these facts. Here's one: Why didn't the Bracks Government prepare the state for a big dry that's actually a normal part of our ever-changing climate? Why didn't it build a new dam for growing Melbourne, say, and find new supplies for Ballarat and Bendigo, when we still had time on our side?

The Government still hides behind the excuse that this drought came out of nowhere -- a sudden catastrophe caused only by this spooky and unexpected phenomenon of global warming. But these rainfall figures show that the only thing spooky is the way the Government is using a seemingly natural change in the weather as proof of the rightness of its green faith that humans are ruining the world. But the figures show something more serious besides -- that blaming the drought on man-made global warming is actually just a miserable excuse for failure. Why didn't our leaders do more long ago to save our parched cities from a normal drought that any fool could have seen coming? Even a fool like me.



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

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

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


28 October, 2005


Blunting the greenhouse panic

A new study provides experimental evidence that cosmic rays may be a major factor in causing the Earth's climate to change. Given the stakes in the current debate over global warming, the research may very well turn out to be one of the most important climate experiments of our time-if only the media would report the story.

Ten years ago, Danish researchers Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen first hypothesized that cosmic rays from space influence the Earth's climate by effecting cloud formation in the lower atmosphere. Their hypothesis was based on a strong correlation between levels of cosmic radiation and cloud cover-that is, the greater the cosmic radiation, the greater the cloud cover. Clouds cool the Earth's climate by reflecting about 20 percent of incoming solar radiation back into space.

The hypothesis was potentially significant because during the 20th century, the influx of cosmic rays was reduced by a doubling of the Sun's magnetic field, which shields the Earth from cosmic rays. According to the hypothesis, then, less cosmic radiation would mean less cloud formation and, ultimately, warmer temperatures-precisely what was observed during the 20th century.

If correct, the Svensmark hypothesis poses a serious challenge to the current global warming alarmism that attributes the 20th century's warmer temperatures to manmade emissions of greenhouse gases.

Just last week, Mr. Svensmark and other researchers from the Centre for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish National Space Centre published a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A-the mathematical, physical sciences and engineering journal of the venerable Royal Society of London-announcing that they had experimentally verified the physical mechanism by which cosmic rays affect cloud cover.

In the experiment, cosmic radiation was passed through a large reaction chamber containing a mixture of lower atmospheric gases at realistic concentrations that was exposed to ultraviolet radiation from lamps that mimic the action of the Sun's rays. Instruments traced the chemical action of the penetrating cosmic rays in the reaction chamber.

The data collected indicate that the electrons released by the cosmic rays acted as catalysts to accelerate the formation of stable clusters of sulfuric acid and water molecules-the building blocks for clouds. [For more details about Mr. Svensmark's hypothesis and experiment, including high-quality animation, visit here]

"Many climate scientists have considered the linkages from cosmic rays to clouds as unproven," said Mr. Friis-Christensen who is the director of the Danish National Space Centre. "Some said there was no conceivable way in which cosmic rays could influence cloud cover. [This] experiment now shows they do so, and should help to put the cosmic ray connection firmly onto the agenda of international climate research," he added.

But given the potential significance of Mr. Svensmark's experimentally validated hypothesis, it merits more than just a place on the agenda of international climate research-it should be at the very top of that agenda.

Low-level clouds cover more than a quarter of the Earth's surface and exert a strong cooling effect. Observational data indicate that low-cloud cover can vary as much as 2 percent in five years which, in turn, varies the heating at the Earth's surface by as much as 1.2 watts per square meter during that same period.

"That figure can be compared with about 1.4 watts per square meter estimated by the [United Nations'] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the greenhouse effect of all the increase in carbon dioxide in the air since the Industrial Revolution," says Mr. Svensmark.

That is, cloud cover changes over a five-year period can have 85 percent of the temperature effect on the Earth that has been claimed to have been caused by nearly 200 years of manmade carbon dioxide emissions. The temperature effects of cloud cover during the 20th century could be as much as 7 times greater than the alleged temperature effect of 200 years worth of additional carbon dioxide and several times greater than that of all additional greenhouse gases combined.

So although it has been taken for granted by global warming alarmists that human activity has caused the climate to warm, Mr. Svensmark's study strongly challenges this assumption.

Given that the cosmic ray effect described by Mr. Svensmark would be more than sufficient to account for the net estimated temperature change since the Industrial Revolution, the key question becomes: Has human activity actually warmed, cooled or had no net impact on the planet?

Between manmade greenhouse gas emissions, land use patterns and air pollution, humans may have had a net impact on global temperature. But if so, no one yet knows the net sign (that is, plus or minus) of that impact.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Svensmark's potentially myth-shattering study has so far been largely ignored by the media. Though published in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society A, it's only been reported-and briefly at that-in The New Scientist (Oct. 7), Space Daily (Oct. 6) and the Daily Express (U.K., Oct. 6).

The media's lack of interest hardly reflects upon the importance of Mr. Svensmark's experiment so much as it reflects upon the media's and global warming lobby's excessive investment in greenhouse gas hysteria.



When the population of the United States hit 200 million in 1967, President Lyndon Johnson marked the occasion with a speech at the Commerce Department, home to the US Census Bureau and its official "population clock." In 1776, LBJ said, the American people had numbered only 1.5 million, but as the nation grew in population, so too had it grown in stature and strength. "We have seen success in America beyond all of our wildest dreams," he went on, but "mighty challenges" remained: the challenges of urban life, of race relations, of industrial pollution, of inadequate public schools. "I cannot tell you this morning that we are going to be able to meet successfully all of these challenges."

It was not a particularly upbeat speech, but at least it was a speech. When the population clock surpassed 300 million last week, President Bush offered only a two-paragraph statement calling the big round number "a testament to our country's dynamism and a reminder that America's greatest asset is our people."

If presidents seem less than thrilled about the population milestones reached on their watch, perhaps it is because they have been unable to shake off the prophecies of doom about "overpopulation" that date back at least to Thomas Malthus's prediction that starvation and misery were the inevitable consequence of population growth. That was in 1798, and we have been hearing from "Malthusian" alarmists ever since. (Ironically, Malthus himself came to realize that his pessimism was groundless, and sharply revised his famous essay in 1803.)

Within months of President Johnson's speech, for example, Paul Ehrlich published *The Population Bomb,* which opened with the grim assertion that "the battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines -- hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now."

But "the Great Die-Off," as Ehrlich called it, didn't arrive in the 1970s. Nor in the 1980s. Undaunted, Ehrlich wrote in 1990 that "starvation and epidemic disease will raise the death rates over most of the planet" and humanity would experience the "deaths of many hundreds of millions of people in famines." It still hasn't happened. In fact, on the whole human beings are better fed today (as well as better housed, better educated, and longer-lived) than ever before. Where starvation still occurs, it is usually the result of deliberate government policy, not agricultural failure. In many parts of the world, the fastest-growing nutritional problem is not hunger, but obesity. Yet the idea that more people means more pain and penury dies hard.

At 300 million, America's population is three times what it was in 1915. Over that span of time the quality of American life has soared. From health and wealth to technology and transportation, from leisure time and homeownership to life expectancy and productivity, from clean air and water to entertainment and travel, most Americans today enjoy conveniences and benefits that not even the Rockefellers and the Vanderbilts could have afforded a century ago. But to hear some experts tell it, we should be tearing our hair out in distress.

"The world does not need more people, and the US in my judgment does not need more people either," grouses Charles Westoff of Princeton's Office of Population Research. The Washington Post quotes Dowell Myers, a demography professor at the University of Southern California: "At 300 million, we are beginning to be crushed under the weight of our own quality-of-life degradation."

Crushed? We're not even mildly cramped. It might not seem that way to someone stuck in a rush-hour traffic jam, but America is actually one of the world's least congested nations, with a population density far lower than that of Britain or Germany. The land area of the United States is so vast that each American could have 7 acres to himself, and there would still be 200 million acres left over. We are in no danger of running out of space.

To be sure, the United States has its problems, some of them quite serious. But a burgeoning population isn't one of them. As Europe and Japan age and shrink, America continues to grow and stay comparatively youthful. That means not just more mouths to feed and more bodies to house. It also means more brainpower and more human energy -- more problem-solvers, more entrepreneurs, more thinkers, more fighters, more leaders. The late Julian Simon famously called human beings "the ultimate resource," and the United States is blessed with more of it than any other First World nation.

"In other words, you ain't seen nothing yet," The Economist predicts. "Anyone who assumed the United States is now at the zenith of its economic or political power is making a big mistake." As good as things are, they are about to get even better. It's great to have you with us, No. 300,000,000. Welcome aboard!



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

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

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


27 October, 2005


George Monbiot writes below:

In seeking to work out how a 90% cut in carbon emissions could be achieved in the rich nations by 2030, I have made many surprising findings. But none has shocked me as much as the discovery that renewable micro generation has been grossly overhyped. Those who maintain that our own homes can produce all the renewable electricity and heat they need have harmed the campaign to stop climate chaos, by sowing complacency and misdirecting our efforts.

Bill Dunster, who designed the famous BedZed zero-carbon development outside London, published a brochure claiming that ďup to half of your annual electric needs can be met by a near silent micro wind turbine.Ē...To provide the 50% Bill Dunster advertises, you would need a machine 4 metres in diameter. The lateral thrust it exerted would rip your house to bits.

[Converting to rooftop solar] would be staggeringly and pointlessly expensive Ė there are far better ways of spending the same money. The International Energy Agencyís MARKAL model gives a cost per tonne of carbon saved by solar electricity in 2020 of between 2200 and 3300 pounds. Onshore macro wind power, by contrast, varies between a saving of 40 and a cost of 130 pounds a tonne.

Similar constraints affect all micro renewables: a report by a team at Imperial College shows that if 50% of our homes were fitted with solar water heaters, they would produce 0.056 exajoules of heat, or 2.3% of our total demand; while AEA Technology suggests that domestic heat pumps could supply only 0.022 eJ of the UKís current heat consumption, or under 1%. This doesnít mean they are not worth installing, just that they canít solve the problem by themselves.

Far from shutting down the national grid, as the Green MEP Caroline Lucas has suggested, we should be greatly expanding it, in order to produce electricity where renewable energy is most abundant. This means, above all, a massive investment in offshore windfarms. A recent government report suggests there is a potential offshore wind resource off the coast of England and Wales of 3,200TWh. High voltage direct current cables, which lose much less electricity in transmission than an AC network, would allow us to make use of a larger area of the continental shelf than before. This means we can generate more electricity more reliably, avoid any visual impact from the land and keep out of the routes taken by migratory birds. Much bigger turbines would realise economies of scale hitherto unavailable. [And don't forget nukes, George!]



I recently went to a mobile phone mast protest meeting. The local church was full of well-heeled people poring over leaflets about the possible dangers of electromagnetic radiation. Then something started to ring. The man on my right calmly pulled his Nokia out of his Paul Smith jacket and started yabbering into it. “Do you all have mobiles?” I asked the group I had joined. Yes. “Er, don’t you think you need a mast to get a signal?”

They hadn’t thought. Didn’t really want to. They were much readier to sign a petition and express outrage over a cup of coffee than actually to tackle their own contribution to the problem. Like the people who drive around the country expleting at wind turbines, oblivious to the pollution streaming out behind them. Like those who campaign against incinerators — the health risks of which are far clearer, and more alarming, than those of phone masts — without apparently asking themselves whether they could stop chucking away the vast amounts of unwanted plastic that they insist on purchasing.

If you really thought mobile phones were irradiating your children, surely you would jack them in and stick to the landline? If you think wind turbines are damaging the landscape, why don’t you reduce your energy use? If can’t be bothered to compost your rubbish or give usable stuff you don’t want to someone who does via (an activity, incidentally, that I highly recommend for offsetting both carbon and guilt), who are you to argue when an ugly great dioxin-emitting chimney comes to perch on your doorstep? Our budding consciences have led to a lot of soul-searching, but not yet to much personal action.

Part of the problem, of course, is the fear that any minuscule step one takes to do good will simply be exploited by someone else. Why should I endure the rain at the bus stop with my four-year-old every morning when some other mother is just going to use the road space I have vacated? I do, because my conscience dictates it. But I wouldn’t mind Ken Livingstone extending the congestion charge. My decision not to drive would be backed up with penalties for those who do, and the proceeds invested in alternatives that I use.

Now I want someone to back up my other principles. I am fed up of feeling like a criminal when I prowl around the office at night switching off colleagues’ computers; of feeling pressured to buy a new handbag (or five) when my old one hasn’t worn out; of taking holidays that do not involve flying, only to be looked at strangely by friends who have started to apologise for taking so many planes, but who still flaunt their tans when they get back.

The greatest objection to the wider use of environmental taxes is their regressive nature: they tend to hit the poor hardest. The fuel protests are still uppermost in ministerial minds, which is why cross-party support for the climate change Bill has been so vital. The other problem, less discussed, is that such taxes will have the least impact on the rich, who have the most impact on the planet. Richmond upon Thames council’s decision, much publicised yesterday, to slam gas-guzzling cars with high parking fees provoked howls of predictable outrage from the AA. But what will an extra £200 a year mean to someone who can afford to buy a Jaguar X-Type or a BMW X5 in the first place? Not much.

The Richmond councillors have become evangelical about SUVs since they discovered, through a British Gas survey of local authorities, that the people in their borough consume more energy and emit more carbon dioxide than anyone else in Britain. British Gas found that people living in the richest areas use three times more energy than the rest. It stands to reason: they drive more, they heat larger homes, they buy more stuff.

To price the rich out of polluting activities would either mean prohibitive tax burdens for everyone else, or slanting the burden so much the other way that you would get a revolution by the chauffeur-driven classes. So the answer must also lie in cultural change. We all crave the status symbols that the rich create. But while Hollywood celebrities sport their caring credentials on unbleached hemp sleeves, the new rich ethical mafia is in serious danger of jumping on the wrong bandwagon.

We cannot save the planet by shopping. “Fairtrade” and “Green”, for example, which are mentioned in the same breathless breath, are almost wholly contradictory. The one encourages the importation of consumer goods from halfway round the globe, which contributes to the climate change that will hit the poorest countries first and hardest. The other dictates that we buy locally, if at all.

Since “ethical lifestyle” became the hottest new trend, a lot of rubbish is being peddled as eco-chic. Despite heroic attempts by some travel editors, “eco” and “tourism” are a non sequitur. While sales of the hybrid Toyota Prius are helping to kick-start a new market, the bog-standard Honda Insight has better mileage. Even recycling, the great guilt-absolver, puts diesel-powered trucks on every street to collect mountains of glass that cannot be used and shipping plastic bottles off to China to be burnt, when the water we drank from them could have come a lot cheaper from the tap.

Which brings me back to phones. Why do people rush to protest about the infinitesimally small risk posed by a mobile phone mast, but seem unable to feel anything about the much greater risk of climate change? It is partly because the potential impact of one is much more local and immediate. It may also be because the mast company is a more clearly defined enemy. But in both cases we are actually both victims and perpetrators.

Righteous indignation is easy. If we can’t face taking personal action, we can at least back the Government to give us some incentives. And the fashionistas could also do me a personal favour, by designing a hair shirt that I can wear every season and look cool.


The nuclear revival in Australia

It was striking how quiet it was when the nuclear industry held an international conference in Sydney this week. A handful of anti-nuclear demonstrators made a fleeting stand in Pitt Street outside the hotel hosting the 15th Pacific Basin Nuclear Conference, then left. The conference's trade hall was full of international companies spruiking the latest gadgets to make nuclear power plants go faster, as delegates from Russia, South Korea, China and Japan milled around.

Nuclear energy provides 16 per cent of the global electricity supply, with about 440 reactors operating in the world, another 30 under construction and 200 in planning or proposal stages. China alone wants to build 50 reactors by 2030. Like an ageing pop star on the comeback trail, nuclear energy is in the middle of a revival as countries look for ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions while keeping the lights on.

World Nuclear Association director-general John Ritch enthusiastically calls it "a global nuclear renaissance". Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane, a nuclear sceptic turned convert, told the gathered representatives that "uranium is coming in from the cold".

But don't tell the environment movement or the Left, because they remain dug in behind their no-nukes barricades, first erected in the Cold War. "The environment movement is ideologically opposed to nuclear energy," Ritch said this week. "There is a carry-over from the anti-weapons movement and there is also an unexamined premise that nuclear power somehow embodies the evil of the military industrial complex. "Serious environmentalists who have looked at nuclear power recognise that against the cataclysmic projections of climate change this technology will be absolutely essential if we hope to avert a catastrophe. It's not even a close call."

Hang on. Is this the same technology that caused the meltdown at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania in 1979? Or, more seriously, the disaster at Chernobyl in 1986 that directly killed 56 people, caused the relocation of 336,000 others and dropped a plume of radioactive fallout across northern Europe?

The growing momentum of climate change as a threat to the planet is changing the rules of engagement. Not only has nuclear technology become safer, more reliable, more efficient and cheaper, but its ability to generate large quantities of base-load electricity with low net greenhouse gas emissions has given it new lease of life.

Prime Minister John Howard seems enchanted by its spell. Since May he has been running nuclear energy up the flagpole of public opinion with increasing ardour, from a flirtatious "may consider" in May to a full-blown proposal this week with the suggestion Australia could have nuclear power within a decade.

This is all the more intriguing as the business case for a nuclear industry in Australia remains remote. As the energy generation industry points out, Australia's abundant supplies of coal and gas mean that even with significant efficiency gains in nuclear technology, it is still about 50 per cent more expensive than existing base-load generation capacity. That means a local nuclear industry will need an unlikely large spike in the price of coal and gas or an equally brutal cost placed on carbon dioxide emissions. Neither is likely in the immediate future, but even if they were, no generator would seriously consider building a nuclear plant until the political risk had diminished. A lot.

Indeed, recent experience suggests mainstream Australia's naivety when it comes to nuclear energy makes fertile ground for a localised fear campaign, particularly over the thorny issue of where nuclear plants would be located. In July, left-wing think tank the Australia Institute mischievously issued a list of potential sites across the country, mostly picturesque seaside towns 100km or so from the big mainland cities. Media dutifully took the bait, interviewing fearful local residents who, unsurprisingly, were strongly opposed to a nuclear power plant in their back yard.

Despite these political risks, Howard obviously sees an upside in driving a nuclear debate in Australia. The debate on climate change has moved faster than even a veteran political strategist such as he could have predicted. Given his lack of any serious policy blueprint in response, promoting nuclear energy as a low-emissions technology creates the impression of a strategy, even if it is impractical in the short or medium term.

When it comes to wedge politics, there are few issues as good as nuclear energy for its ability to polarise and marginalise those on the Left, which includes some environmental groups. The environmental Left remains dogmatically opposed to nuclear energy and its perceived relationship to nuclear weapons. For these groups, no nukes is more than just a policy decision, it's a belief. Greenpeace, the first and most celebrated of these groups, was forged in the crucible of the anti-nuclear testing and anti-Vietnam war movement in 1971.

In May, former BP executive and now Australian head of the World Wildlife Fund Greg Bourne accepted the reality that Australia was a uranium exporting country. He didn't endorse it, just acknowledged its reality. That was enough to elicit a withering response from fellow non-government organisations. Wilderness Society campaign director Alec Marr told Bourne to go "back to industry where he came from".

Climate change may have been put on the radar by environmentalists but they are victims of their own success. They ignited a broad debate, but the extensive resources of government and business have taken over most of the discussion. Business leaders are more practical and less ideological than the green movement. Their position is simple: any technology that can deliver sustained growth in energy supply and cuts in greenhouse gas emissions at a bearable cost is in the mix of possible solutions. In the stable of solutions on offer there are promising yearlings such as carbon capture and storage, wind, solar thermal and hot rocks. But so far there are few real starters. For most countries without Australia's cheap energy sources, nuclear power bears closer consideration. Reflecting this, uranium demand is tipped to double by 2020.

A recent CSIRO survey found 93 per cent of Australians think climate change is a serious issue. As with other complex and global problems, they expect governments to fix it. Howard is betting they don't go to bed at night worrying about the risks of nuclear energy and he's probably right. Mainstream Australia, like business, is likely to be more than happy to accept compromises that sustain their quality of life while fixing one of the biggest challenges on the planet.

If he is right, the environmental Left will find itself isolated in its own debate, trapped in a Cold War-style dogma that ignores changes in technology and attitudes. The cracks are already appearing. While the main environmental Left groups are locked into non-negotiable opposition, individuals are not. Two years ago British environmentalist James Lovelock was the first headline act to back nuclear energy as a serious solution to climate change. Last year it was departing NSW premier Bob Carr. This year it was scientist Tim Flannery.

Labor is having headaches with its policy of no new uranium mines, with Opposition Leader Kim Beazley out on a limb in flagging a desperately needed review of that position at next year's federal convention. This week, unions gagged this month's ACTU congress from debating the ban. "We've already got a policy from 1979 opposing uranium mining and my straw poll of the union movement has detected no great desire to revisit it," ACTU chief Greg Combet says.

It speaks volumes about how hamstrung Labor is that Beazley's best shot in reply to the Government's support for nuclear energy is to back solar energy. "Solar Not Nuclear" may have made a sassy bumper sticker in the 1980s, but it makes lousy environmental policy in the noughties. Today's photovoltaic technology is about 10 times more expensive than conventional energy, while the best guesses on emerging technologies such as solar hybrid and solar thermal are about three to four times. Few see solar as anything but a bit player in the short to medium term.

Howard's other objective is more strategic: to reposition nuclear fuel in the minds of Australians as environmentally friendly. The Wilderness Society's Marr says Howard is positioning the debate to make it easier to promote Australia's more likely involvement in the technology - uranium mines, enrichment and even waste storage - after the Prime Minister's taskforce reports next month.

The green movement has a dilemma. It says climate change is the most pressing problem facing the planet, but it is prepared to accept only a narrow set of solutions. It is dealing itself out of the policy-making process.



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

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

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


26 October, 2005


On 3 August 1562 a thunderstorm hit central Europe. At noon the heaven darkened as if it were night and a severe storm began, destroying roofs and windows. After some hours the thunderstorm turned into a hailstorm, lasting until midnight, destroying crops and vineyards, and killing birds and other animals, including some unprotected horses and cows. The next day trees without leaves and branches could be seen, the fields were a picture of devastation (Warhafftiger und gruendlicher Bericht, 1562). Travellers recognized the unusual strength of the hailstorm. A nobleman, riding from Vienna to Brussels, reported that he had seen the severe damage throughout the postal route (Weyer 1586, 189). The meteorological front must have covered an area of several hundred kilometers in diameter. A printed newsletter reported that many people feared the beginning of the last judgement.

Since observers of the period had no memory of similar climatic desasters "for a 100 years", many considered this thunderstorm as "unnatural" and looked for explanations. Three possible interpretations arose: The hailstorm could be a sign of God, a work of the devil, or a result of witchcraft. Though a number of decisions of councils since the early middle ages had anathemized the idea of weathermaking by human beings, there had always been reluctance to accept this negation of human influence on the climate. In my article I want to propose, that it was the influence of the climatic deterioration known as the Little Ice Age, which contributed decisively to the development of a new species of crime, which was previously rarely accepted by the authorities: Witchcraft.

Unfortunately, the concept of the Little Ice Age seems not yet well defined. Since its invention by F. E. Matthes in 1939 its proposed endurance has shrunk to an epoch between 1300 and 1860 (LeRoy Ladurie 1971; Lamb 1981). Some scholars suggested that the beginning of the Little Ice Age occurred around 1430 (Webb 1980) and ended around 1770 (Ladurie 1971), well aware of the fact that the period of more than 550 years of coldness was interrupted several times by warmer periods. Christian Pfister identified a core phase of the Little Ice Age between 1570 and 1630 (Grindelwald-Schwankung). Since all researchers based their periodisations upon indicators drawn from physical environment (dendrochronology, glaciology, etc.), in my essay I want to propose another approach. My suggestion is to take into account the subjective factor and consider human reactions to climatic changes as an important indicator for an assessment of the beginning, the periodisation, and the end of the Little Ice Age.

Though persecutions for heresy were known already in high medieval Europe (Moore 1987), persecutions of inner enemies for their supposed influence on the physical environment began around 1300 (Pfister 1996), when lepers and jews collectively were made responsible for the return of the Black Death, especially after the europe-wide epidemics of 1348-1350, and subsequent epidemies of the later 14th century (Graus 1987). During these decades, when a sequence of cold and long winters indicated the return of Little Ice Age conditions the interdependance between climatic factors, crop-failure, rise in prices, hunger and the outbreak of epidemics, and the classical pattern of subsistence crises of Old Europe became more visible. Thus attention shifted from epidemics to weather, and it is striking to see that the gradual emergence of a new crime was closely connected to the waves of climatic hardship during the earlier phases of the Little Ice Age (Pfister 1996).

Though witchcraft in popular imagination has traditionally been seen as one of the major causes for hailstorms (Gesemann 1913; Fiedler 1931; Bloecker 1982), christian theological authorities in early and high middle ages had refused to accept such accusations (Agobard of Lyon; Hoffmann 1907). It was only in the 1380ies that magic and weather-making in inquisitorial trials became increasingly prominent. During the 1430ies the first systematical witch-hunts occured in some Alpine valleys of the duchy of Savoy by papal Inquisitors and secular judges in the Dauphinā and parts of Switzerland (Blauert 1989). During the 1480ies the image of the weathermaking witch was finally accepted by the church. Urged by the Alsatian dominican friar Heinrich Kramer, Pope Innocence VIII. in 1484 acknowledged weathermaking as a reality in his bull Summis desiderantes affectibus. Kramer himself tried to incite witch-hunts for religious purposes, using the popular demands for eradication of the suspected witches who were made responsible for the destruction of the harvests. Kramer summarized this ideas in his notorious Malleus maleficarum, the Witches Hammer (Hansen 1900). Between the 1480ies and the 1520ies there were endemic witch-hunts in parts of central and southern Europe, still confined to Italian, French and Swiss Alpine valleys, parts of the French and Spanish Pyrenees, Southwestern Germany, and the Rhine Valley down to the Netherlands.

Harsh criticism of the practice of the Inquisition by humanists like Erasmus of Rotterdam, Andrea Alciati, or Agrippa von Nettesheim, and the beginning Reformation stopped these inquisitorial witchcraft persecutions. Even the Spanish Inquisition forbade to use the Witches Hammer as an authority und suppressed local witch trials. The Imperial Law, the Constitutio Criminalis Carolina of 1532, ignored the supposed crime of witchcraft (Hexerei) altogether, imposing sanctions only against the traditional crime of sorcery (Zauberei), strictly limiting the judicial procedure to ordinary measures (processus ordinarius) which made accusations of weather-making almost unprovable. Many contemporaries therefore considered times of witchcraft persecutions as being over, part of the past or of dark pre-reformatory times (Weyer 1563, preface).

This was the situation when the impact of the Little Ice Age began to be felt again. Contemporary chroniclers like Johan Jacob Wick from Zurich reported that the summer 1560 was unusually wet. The following winter was the coldest and longest winter since 1515/16. For the first time since generations large Alpine lakes like the Lake Constance (Bodensee) froze ("Seegfroerni") and the vegetation period shortened decisevely (Pfister 1988, 68). The following winter 1561/1562 was not only of similar coldness, but surprising with its immense snowfall mentioned in a broadsheet printed in Leipzig 1562. According to an orthodox Lutheran theology these events were interpreted as signs of God who was thought to be furious due to the sins of the people (Uber die grossen und erschrecklichen Zeichen am Himmel 1562). The coincidence of coldness and wetness struck the agrarian-based society and damaged the harvest. An increase of prices deteriorated the living conditions of the poorer people (Pfister 1988, 118-127). During the spring and summer of 1562 thaw and heavy rainfall caused inundations in different parts of Germany, poisoned the fields and led to cattle diseases, rising infant mortality and the outbreak of epidemics.

The unusually severe thunderstorm hit Central Europe on 3. August 1562 in a state of progressive sensibilisation for meteorological events. Though most theologians - lutheran as well as catholic or calvinist - still blamed the sinful people for having caused gods fury, under the pressure of meteorological desaster this traditional embankment began to collapse (Midelfort 1972). While the larger territories and Imperial Cities remained stable, small political entities turned out to be more susceptible to the popular demands for witchcraft persecution. In the small barony Illereichen the pesants made their count, who never before had tried a case of witchcraft, uncertain by means of demonstrations and petitions. Finally count Rechberg conceded to imprison some women suspected for weathermaking, having caused crop-failure, inundations, and cattle disease. Here and elsewhere the mechanism of torture, confession, and denunciation led to an extension from singular cases to witch-hunts. The largest hunt occurred in the small territory of Wiesensteig, belonging to the Lutheran counts of Helfenstein, where within a year 63 women were burned as witches. Since a contemporary newsletter reported over this event, the witch-hunt became well-known throughout the Empire (Warhafftige und Erschreckhenliche Thatten 1563).

The Wiesensteig witch-hunt served as an example for radical eradication of "the evil", and between 1562 and 1565 an interesting debate emerged about the possibility of weather-making. In the small Imperial City Esslingen the populistic evangelical preacher Thomas Naogeorgus supported the popular demands for witch-hunts and urged the magistrate to extend its persecution, which had already begun, as a kind of regulation of the weather (Jerouschek 1992, 73-88). At the same time in Stuttgart, the capital of the duchy of WĀrttemberg, the lutheran orthodoxy had managed to stop the local witchcraft-persecutions after one burning. The leading theologians of the territory, MatthĄus Alber and Wilhelm Bidenbach, bitterly attacked Naogeorgus and his idea that witches could be responsible for hailstorms or other meteorological events. In accordance with WĀrttembergs reformator Johannes Brenz, who had given a similar sermon on hailstorms before, they insisted that only God was responsible for the weather, and not human beings. On the other hand, they agreed in principle that witches should be condemned to death due to their compact with the devil as a spiritual crime of utmost severity (Alber/Bidembach 1562).

The debate on weather-making witches escalated when Johann Weyer, the Erasmian court physician of duke Wilhelm of JĀlich-Kleve, attacked Johann Brenz and his followers for their inconsequence. In his famous volume De praestigiis daemonum, written as a response to the resumption of witch-burning, Weyer argued that witchcraft as a crime was physically impossible and the performance of witch-trials in general and for weather-magic in particular was a bad mistake (Weyer 1563; Weyer 1586, 182-192). He agreed with Brenz that it was impossible for witches to change the course of nature. But if witches by definition could not at all be responsible for hailstorms, as Brenz and the Lutherans conceded, then why should they be punished? Even if they wished to do harm, according to the Imperial Law Code it was not possible to impose capital punishment. There was no article which defined spiritual deviance as a capital crime. So Weyer asked Brenz as opinion leader of the orthodox Lutherans to change his attitude. After a negative reply by Brenz, whose sermon on hailstorms was reprinted twice in 1564 and 1565 (Predigt vom Hagel, Donner und allem Ungewitter, 1565), Johann Weyer published their correspondence in the 1565-edition of his book and accused the famous reformer of injustice and bloodthirsty cruelty, a reproach ususally uttered against dominican Inquisitors (Weyer 1586, 485-502).

The resumption of witch-hunting in the 1560ies was accompanied by a debate about weather-making, because this was the most important charge against suspected witches. Though witches were certainly made responsible for all kinds of bad luck, in an agrarian society weather is especially important. Crop failure caused increases in prices, malnutrition, rising infant mortality, and finally epidemics. Through sources we can observe that while individual "unnatural" accidents resulted in individual accusations of witchcraft, in case of "unnatural" weather and collective damage whole peasant communities demanded persecution. In comparison to individual accusations, which tended to lead to trials against individual suspects, collective demands for persecution - when accepted by the authorities - regularly resulted in large-scale witch-hunts (Behringer 1995). Without going into details, the fundamental interdependance of meteorological desaster, crop failure, and a popular demand for witch-hunts can be demonstrated by two further examples: the largest witch-hunt of the sixteenth century, and the largest witch-hunt of the seventeenth century, which occurred between 1626-1630 and was the climax of European witchcraft persecutions. The mechanisms detected in the background of these persecutions can be applied to all large witchcraft persecutions in traditional Europe.

More here

Newsweek Changes Media Climate 31 Years after Global Cooling Story

Magazine admits first article was 'wrong,' but still wasn't 'inaccurate' journalistically

It took 31 years, but Newsweek magazine admitted it was incorrect about climate change. In a nearly 1,000-word correction, Senior Editor Jerry Adler finally agreed that a 1975 piece on global cooling "was so spectacularly wrong about the near-term future."

Even then, Adler wasn't quite willing to blame Newsweek for the incredible failure. "In fact, the story wasn't `wrong' in the journalistic sense of `inaccurate,'" he claimed. "Some scientists indeed thought the Earth might be cooling in the 1970s, and some laymen - even one as sophisticated and well-educated as Isaac Asimov - saw potentially dire implications for climate and food production," Adler added. However, the story admitted both Time magazine and Newsweek were wrong on the subject - Newsweek as recently as 1992.

The situation was brought to light after Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) gave an extensive speech about media climate change coverage to the Senate on September 25. Inhofe told his Senate colleagues: "Much of the 100-year media history on climate change that I have documented today can be found in a publication entitled `Fire & Ice' from the Business & Media Institute."

Adler described Inhofe as "chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee and the self-proclaimed scourge of climate alarmists." The article agreed that, to use a phrase from the Watergate era of the first story, mistakes had been made, but questioned whether Inhofe had drawn the right lesson from the media failures.

Adler said scientists have also predicted in the past that Earth would be hit by a "giant meteorite," but ". that doesn't mean that journalists have been dupes or alarmists for reporting this news. Citizens can judge for themselves what constitutes a prudent response ." However, citizens can't "judge for themselves" if they are getting only one theory, whether it is global cooling or global warming.

Newsweek cited information culled from the BMI report that "for more than 100 years journalists have quoted scientists predicting the destruction of civilization by, in alternation, either runaway heat or a new Ice Age." But he was unwilling to admit that what the media now say about climate change could be wrong.

Newsweek wasn't alone in its climate revisionism. The October 12 New York Times included an editorial that criticized Inhofe for his criticism of the Times. Inhofe's comments, according to the article, were "a brisk survey of the way the news media have covered climatic predictions over the past century." It continued, "Cooling, warming - we never get it right." But the Times editors still castigated Inhofe for his comments because they "do not expect Mr. Inhofe to see the light - or feel the heat - any time soon."

At least Newsweek was willing to admit that the world was better off for having ignored the 1975 story. "All in all, it's probably just as well that society elected not to follow one of the possible solutions mentioned in the Newsweek article: to pour soot over the Arctic ice cap, to help it melt."

It took Newsweek 31 years to correct its mistakes on global cooling. If they want to recant their latest global warming stance and start the calendar today, that means the next correction will run on October 23, 2037.


Ignore the doomsday prophets

Environmental alarmist Paul Ehrlich has been wrong before and he'll be wrong again, writes economics editor Alan Wood

Australia's Treasurer has made it on to the cover and into the pages of a journal in which the world's finance ministers rarely, if ever, feature. Peter Costello loves to say demography is destiny, and it was demography that did the trick. It was Costello urging families to have "one for Australia" that made the cover of New Scientist and it is environmentalist Paul Ehrlich he has to thank. Ehrlich is well known to demographers and economists for his spectacularly wrong predictions on world population growth and its consequences, including famine, economic catastrophe and the end of industrial society.

Some of the most spectacular were in his 1968 book The Population Bomb. As it happens, the book was the result of an article Ehrlich wrote for New Scientist in 1967. Now he is back again, undaunted, with another article, written with his wife Anne.

Before we get to this, it is worth recalling a few Ehrlich gems. Perhaps most often quoted is this one from The Population Bomb: "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now." In fact, the final quarter of the 20th century was more remarkable for the increase in food production from the Green Revolution and the reduction in famine deaths and poverty.

Another prediction was that the US would see life expectancy drop to 42 years by 1990 due to pesticide usage, and its population fall to 22.6 million by 1999. According to the US Census Bureau, life expectancy in the US in 2005 was 77.7 years and, as of yesterday, its population was 300 million and growing.

In 1969 he was prepared to take an even-money bet that England would not exist in 2000. He regularly said population growth would overtake the world's food supplies and mineral resources. Economic growth is another scourge of humanity. "We already have too much economic growth in the US," he said in the late '80s. "Economic growth in rich countries like ours is the disease, not the cure."

So has Ehrlich changed his tune in his recent New Scientist article? Not much. He is now taking world governments to task for their concern with population ageing and shrinking populations, and their measures to try to slow or reverse these trends. Which is where Costello comes in. Not only has he instigated a baby bonus of "almost 900 pounds sterling" (actually nearly twice that), he has urged young women to have one child for themselves, one for their husband and one for Australia.

Ehrlich doesn't approve of this at all: "If civilisation is to persist on our finite planet, impending resource shortages and the mounting environmental costs of overpopulation make it imperative that we gradually and humanely reduce our numbers." He thinks the planet's optimal human population is about two billion, "an excellent and achievable target to aim for over the long term". As of yesterday, the population of the world was 6.55 billion and, according to the US Census Bureau, will reach nine billion in 2042, although its rate of growth is declining sharply.

Ehrlich sounds his usual warning about the evils of consumption: if the developing countries follow the evil ways of the West we will need at least two more Earths to cope. "Despite the challenges, we see population shrinkage in the industrial nations as a hugely positive trend. It is, after all, the high-consuming rich in these regions who disproportionately damage humanity's life support systems and wield their economic and military power to keep their resource demands satisfied, without regard to the costs for the world's poor and to future generations. The more people there are, the more climate change humanity will face, with a concomitant loss of biodiversity and the crucial ecosystem services it helps provide."

At least Ehrlich is consistent: consistently wrong. One of his most trenchant and effective critics was US economist Julian Simon, who said of Ehrlich and his supporters: "As soon as one predicted disaster doesn't occur, the doomsayers skip to another ... why don't they see that, in the aggregate, things are getting better? Why do they always think we're at a turning point or at the end of the road?"

The point isn't that there are no limits but that there is no reason to believe we are anywhere near them. And there is ample evidence that the economic growth and prosperity Ehrlich rails against are the preconditions for successful environmental action. In his book The Skeptical Environmentalist, Danish statistician Bjorn Lomborg demonstrated, using reputable international data sources, that things are generally getting better over a wide range of environmental indicators. Predictably, Ehrlich was one of the gang of four environmental zealots recruited to launch a vindictive but unsuccessful attack on Lomborg in Scientific American. Instead the magazine seriously damaged its own reputation when it attempted to suppress publication of an annotated reply to the articles by Lomborg on his website.

There is a wider moral to this tale. Ehrlich has jumped on the global warming bandwagon, a fertile field for serial doomsayers. When you see he has been joined by a Washington snake oil salesman such as Al Gore, it seems a pretty good reason to be cautious about accepting uncritically their greenhouse scaremongering. Global warming is taking place, but how fast it will proceed, what its causes and consequences are, and what can, or should, be done to attempt to mitigate it are still matters of legitimate debate, not the subject of a phony scientific consensus.



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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25 October, 2005


Insightful in view of the later results which also discredited the panic predictions:

Is the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation slowing down?

By Petr Chylek, Space and Remote Sensing Sciences, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA

The Atlantic Ocean circulation across the latitude of 25oN has been used as a benchmark for characterizing the mass and heat transport from tropics to the northern latitudes. The upper portion of this transport includes the Gulf Stream that is responsible for the moderate climate of Europe. A weakening of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation and of the Gulf Stream might have unpleasant consequences for European climate (1, 2).

Ganachaud and Wunsch (3) using hydrographic data collected during the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE) investigated the heat and mass transport in world oceans including the transport across the Atlantic 25oN latitude. The conclusion 3 made in the year 2000 was that there was no statistically significant change in mass transports over the past 30 years.

In recent analysis (with added new 2004 measurement) Bryden et al. (4) concluded that the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation has slowed by about 30% between 1957 and 2004. This inspired the speculation that the anthropogenic increase of carbon dioxide may be responsible for the weakening of heat transport from the tropics and that such an effect has been now detected (5). Thus the pleasant climate of Europe may be in danger. Bryden et al. (4) were apparently not aware of the Ganachaud and Wunsch (3) results and so no comments on the discrepancy between the previous (3) and the current (4) results were required.

We wish to point out that the conclusion of a 30% decrease of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation does not follow from the presented data (4) and that it is based on an incorrect treatment of errors of the measurements.

The estimated rms error of the measurements in the upper transport layer according to Ganachaud 6 and Bryden et al.4 is about +/-6 Sverdrups (1Sv=10^6m^3s^-1). According to data presented by Bryden et al. (4) the 1957 transport in layer shallower than 1000m is 22.9 +/-6 Sv compared to the transport of 14.8 +/-6 Sv in 2004. Consequently the difference in the mass transport between 1957 and 2004 is 8.1 +/-12 Sv and not 8.1 +/-6 Sv as incorrectly stated by Bryden et al. (4). In other words, the mass transport was somewhere between 16.9 and 28.9 Sv in 1957 and between 8.8 and 20.8 Sv in 2004, which is consistent with no change at all. Thus the observed change is well within the uncertainty of the measurement and not "uncomfortably close" as stated by Bryden et al. (4). Although Bryden et al. (4) do not discuss explicitly the statistical significance of their results, an incorrect treatment of errors suggested that the results were statistically significant. The correct conclusion from the presented data (Bryden et al.4) is that no statistically significant change in Atlantic meridional overturning circulation at 25oN between the years of 1957 and 2004 has been detected. This conclusion is in agreement with the earlier analysis of Ganachaud and Wunsch (3).


1. Schiermeier, Q. Gulf Stream probed for early warnings of system failure. Nature 427, 769 (2004).
2. Wunsch, C. Gulf Stream safe if wind blows and Earth turns. Nature 428, 601 (2004).
3. Ganachaud, A. & Wunsch, C. Improved estimates of global ocean circulatiom, heat transport and mixing from hydrographic data. Nature 408, 453-457 (2000).
4. Bryden, H., Longworth, H. & Cunningham, S. Slowing of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation at 25oN. Nature 438, 655-657(2005).
5. Quadfasel, D. Atlantic Ocean trends. Nature 438, doi:10.1038/438565a (2005).
6. Ganachaud, A. Error Budget of Inverse Box Models: The North Atlantic. J. Atmos. Ocean. Technol. 20, 1641-1655 (2003).

(Paper written December 9, 2005 but not accepted for publication in "Nature", the journal which published the erroneous Bryden paper)

No, we don't need a Manhattan Project for energy

"We need an all-out effort, a Manhattan Project, a man to the moon, to become less dependent on fossil fuel and the Middle East." So said Representative Chris Shays (R., CT) following a trip that included stops in Iraq, Jordan, and Israel. Few would dispute the benefits of reducing America's reliance on energy produced in a politically volatile region. Democratic strategist James Carville reports that his polling currently identifies energy independence as voters' number-one national security concern, surpassing even the war on terrorism.

Congressman Shays's proposed strategy for achieving that objective, however, is more debatable. Successful though they were, the massive, government-directed initiatives of the past are inappropriate models for bringing about energy independence. The Manhattan and Apollo programs were essentially vast engineering projects. They focused on specific, predetermined goals, namely, the production of an atomic bomb and a lunar landing. Scientists had already pointed the way by, respectively, splitting the atom and launching vehicles into space. The project chiefs were not charged with the more complex objectives of defeating the Axis powers or achieving broad technological superiority over the Soviet Union.

At present, no one can name a potential scientific breakthrough that would single-handedly end U.S. energy dependence on fossil fuels and the Middle East. It is not even clear that a wholesale shift toward domestic, renewable sources is a realistic hope. If significant strides are to be made, however, the solution will probably involve a combination of approaches, such as nuclear power, solar energy, biofuels, conservation, and amelioration of the environmental problems associated with certain domestic fuels.

Scientific advances on any of these paths could accelerate progress toward greater energy independence. A centrally managed program along the lines of the Manhattan Project, however, is not the mechanism most likely to capitalize on scientists' creative interaction. The top-down approach runs the risk of concentrating research in some ultimately unproductive area.

As a nation that has built a vibrant economy through market-driven innovation, the United States should not underestimate its diverse network of profit-seeking research organizations. Even if the major oil companies truly are implacable foes of alternative fuels, as conspiracy theorists contend, America has plenty of entrepreneurs with no vested interest in preserving the status quo. The failure thus far of market-driven efforts to produce a silver bullet for energy independence does not necessarily prove that the profit motive is unequal to the task. Perhaps it merely underscores how formidable the challenge is.

Let us imagine, though, that it is possible to make a persuasive case for market failure in the quest for greater energy independence. That is, economic studies might show that private research organizations, perceiving that they cannot capture enough of the society-wide benefits to recoup their investment, are devoting too few resources to the effort. That would give the government a valid reason for intervening. It would not, however, justify creating a centralized research behemoth in the style of the Manhattan Project. A better strategy would be to harness the power of many smaller, more nimble organizations.

The government's reflexive response to that suggestion will be an approach just one step removed from a Manhattan Project. Reluctant to relinquish control, Congress will allocate a massive research budget and begin awarding grants. Unfortunately, taxpayers can count on billions being wasted in the process. Politically connected corporations will greet the launch of the grand patriotic effort with stepped-up lobbying. They will endeavor to steer the funding priorities toward their own business priorities. The big companies will persuade Congress to define their existing research initiatives as part of the battle for energy independence, no matter how tangentially related. Many of the dollars funneled into the project will have little prospect of furthering the mission.

A more cost-effective course would be to pay for results, rather than for activity. Congress could establish large monetary rewards for inventing specific, commercially viable methods of displacing imported oil. Separate bounties would be offered for breakthroughs in technologies such as wind power, geothermal, and oil shale. In exchange for the rich bounties, discoverers of non-subsidy-dependent approaches would surrender the rights to the public domain.

This sort of spur to technological progress was employed successfully in the eighteenth century by the British Parliament, which established a 20,000 pound award for a method of determining longitude within half a degree. More recently, the magazine Business 2.0 asked a group of venture capitalists and "serial entrepreneurs" to name business ideas they would like to develop. Their answers included a longer-lasting cellphone battery and an in-dash computer that projects data onto a car's windshield. The financiers offered inventors a total of $100 million worth of encouragement. In creating monetary spurs for innovation, Congress could consult with disinterested scientific experts to identify the most valuable technological milestones. Realistically, it would be impossible to depoliticize the process entirely. Corporations would be unable, however, to load the specs with lucrative make-work projects.

Summing up, the fact that the Manhattan and Apollo Projects accomplished their missions does not automatically make them worthy of emulation for present purposes. If something beyond the ordinary profit motive is required to bring forth the means for greater energy independence, the government should follow two principles:

* Encourage scientific exploration on multiple fronts, rather than put a thumb on the scale for any single technology.

* Spend the taxpayers' money on outputs, rather than inputs.


Taking land or just borrowing it with interest?

In November, citizens in twelve states will be voting on a variety of property rights initiatives that would limit eminent domain. Several of the initiatives would also require state and local governments to compensate property owners for "regulatory takings." A regulatory taking occurs when agencies impose restrictions on the ability of property owners to use their land in ways that were legal at the time they bought their property. Under those initiatives governments would be required to compensate property owners when they enact zoning regulations that reduce the value of their land. These campaigns were inspired by the Supreme Court's disastrous ruling last year in Kelo v. City of New London. In that case a Connecticut city was allowed to use eminent domain to seize the homes of some residents and then turn around and give the land to private developers.

Naturally, people who think they know best how other people should use their property are up in arms over the initiatives. The Washington Post characterizes property rights advocates as "trying to harness anger over the [Kelo] ruling in an effort to pass state initiatives in the West and federal legislation that could unravel a long-standing fabric of state and local land-use regulations. Among other things, the rules control growth, limit sprawl, ensure open space and protect the environment." Unmentioned by the Post is that the rules do all those good things without paying people who own the affected farms, ranches, forests and homes a dime for the lost value of their land.

Property rights campaigners were heartened in 2004 when 61 percent of the voters supported the Proposition 37 voter initiative in Oregon that rolled back that state's famously restrictive system of land use regulations. Environmentalist opponents of property rights initiatives haul out the argument that the initiatives will cost taxpayers billions of dollars if they pass. However, it turns out that state and local agencies are only willing to commandeer someone's property if they don't have to talk taxpayers into paying for the restrictions they want to impose. For example, in Oregon after Proposition 37, state and local land use bureaucrats say that they have backed down and waived zoning restrictions rather than ask the state's taxpayers to shell out $5.6 billion to maintain them.

The puzzle at the heart of the environmentalists' reluctance to compensate landowners for zoning restrictions comes into focus when you consider their attitudes toward conservation easements. A conservation easement is a voluntary legal arrangement in which a landowner agrees to protect the conservation values of a piece of land by permanently limiting its present and future uses. Landowners then donate the easement to qualified conservation organizations that make sure the land is managed in line with the restrictions established by the easement. For this land owners get substantial federal and state income tax breaks. How does this work?

The value of the charitable donation is the difference between the fair market value of the property before and after the easement is donated. Note that the initiatives opposed by environmentalists would similarly compensate landowners for the difference between the fair market value of the land before and after zoning restrictions are imposed. In August, President Bush signed legislation that permits conservation easements donated in 2006 and 2007 to be deducted at the rate of 50 percent of the donor's adjusted gross income per year; any unused portion can be carried forward for an additional fifteen years. Without bothering to go through the calculations here, one tax advisor notes that the combination of federal income and estate tax benefits can equal or exceed the cost of the easement itself, up to as much 146 percent of the cost of easement. In other words, voluntary land restrictions are compensated-sometimes very well compensated-through the tax code.

The contradiction in the debate over compensating landowners is that environmentalists don't want to pay landowners who are ordered to "preserve" their land for the public's benefit, but they have no problem "giving away" billions in tax breaks to people who voluntarily restrict the use of their land. What's the difference? Surely part of the difference is that the cost to taxpayers for voluntary restrictions is hidden. Taxpayers don't see that granting these conservation tax breaks means that they are likely to have to pay higher taxes to cover the costs all of the other wonderful programs and projects that governments spend money on. As the experience in Oregon shows, land use bureaucrats and environmentalists don't think taxpayers will pony up when they are asked directly to pay for conservation zoning restrictions that are imposed on landowners against the owners' will.

Ultimately, if we compensate voluntary land use restrictions, then we should especially pay for imposing involuntary land use restrictions. That is just plain simple justice.


British conservatives argue for "urban sprawl"

Though they are not calling it that, of course

Fewer small flats and more bungalows and houses with gardens should be built to make it easier for elderly people to avoid going into care, the Conservatives said yesterday. David Cameron, the party leader, told an Age Concern conference that houses should be designed to be suitable for every stage of life. "We must think in a new way about housing design and urban planning. Housing in Britain never seems to be built with a whole lifetime in mind," he said.

New homes tend to be either small flats, which are not suitable when people have children, or tall houses, which aren't suitable when people become old and less mobile. Although only a quarter of people say they want to live in flats, more than half of all new properties are flats. "We're sqeezing more and more housing into smaller and smaller spaces. This means less room for elderly parents. We're disrupting the generational relationship. "We need to change the planning rules so that we get fewer small flats and more homes with gardens. Fewer homes designed for young single people, and more designed for life - universal design," Mr Cameron said.

The new homes, also called lifetime homes, would be designed to ensure that people never had the need to move. Rather than being tall and thin with winding staircases, which are bad for elderly people, they would be flatter and wider, and even bungalows. They would tend to be more spacious to cope with wheelchairs, with gardens for the family stage of life.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundationhas proposed 16 detailed requirements, many of which are already legal stipulations for public buildings, which must be fulfilled before a house can be categorised as a "lifetime home". These adaptations would ensure that old people could carry on living in the house.

Michael Gove, the Tories' housing spokesman, said: "Thought has to be given so that people aren't trapped in one or two rooms in multi-storey houses. It means more bungalow living, as opposed to less flexible vertical houses."

A spokeswoman for Age Concern said that as the number of elderly people grew, it would be increasingly important that their needs were incorporated into the designs. "The problem is that not enough homes are built to last a lifetime. Many people find living in their home more difficult as they grow older and often have to make the difficult decision to move on, for example to a retirement flat. The concept of a lifetime home addresses the changing needs of people as they age and is a very welcome one."

Far from costing money, the foundation suggests that it would save taxpayers 5.5 billion pounds over 60 years in reducing the need for adaptations to existing houses and moving people to care homes. However, it would mean houses occupying larger plots of land, compared with thinking that encourages high-density housing. Mr Gove insisted that the Conservatives would protect the green belt around cities, but that more greenfield land would be used. "The future lies in allowing communities to expand outwards not just upwards. We recognise that if we are to meet future housing need, you will have some currently undeveloped land which will have to be developed," he 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 Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


24 October, 2005

Some typical Greenie ignorance -- with a reply

First below the Greenie effusion then below that a comment on it:

Hydrogen: Nature's way

Not only is the burning of hydrocarbons forming carbon dioxide, which is contributing to global warming, but it is also contributing to a loss of free oxygen in the atmosphere. What is the significance?

There were only a set number of atoms created. The planet Earth was allotted a share of atoms that over the eons of time would neither increase or decrease. What does happen is chemicals can combine. Millions of examples could be sited for materials being oxidized, but overall the number of atoms assigned to the planet Earth does not change.

However the planet Earth evolved, a miraculous evolution took place in which life forms created a sustainable process. Two systems were devised, vegetation and animal. The animal form created used oxygen as the power chemical which energized living cells to acquire chemicals - food - needed to maintain their "life." This life form used the oxygen to combine with carbon and form carbon dioxide. Here nature stepped in to create vegetation - a non-mobile form of life - that had the capability of using the carbon dioxide and within a complex process associated with sunlight disassociated the oxygen from the carbon, releasing the oxygen back into the atmosphere for use by the animal life and burying the carbon in the earth. The animal life contributed to the overall cycle by dying, rotting and providing "fertilizer" for the plant life. Nature created an almost perfect system!

Now the human form of life has invaded a well organized growth process. Finally, man began to imagine machinery, an achievement that had varying results. Fire for heat, boiling water and cooking goes back many thousands of years. The discovery that hydrocarbons burned and gave off large amounts of heat was for a time very useful, but then man became blind to the future.

Animal life, human life, burning of small amounts of hydrocarbons all creating carbon dioxide, could be tolerated. Vegetation would break down the carbon dioxide and restore the oxygen to the atmosphere, but then man with little foresight launched into mass consumption of hydrocarbon fluids/solids. As we know now the resulting "greenhouse gas" is slowly, but surely, changing the balance of nature. Carbon dioxide gas resulting from this folly is already causing climatic weather changes in the form of heat, which is now being recognized and proven with science, but this usage is also robbing the atmosphere of oxygen.

Is there a solution? Certainly. Use hydrogen. Are there drawbacks? Yes, but only for a moment in time. This gas can be extracted from several almost inexhaustible sources - water and vegetation. The simplest solution for obtaining hydrogen is the process of electrolysis of water. Other processes can extract hydrogen from vegetation - economically.

The use of hydrogen would be ideal from nature's point of view since burning hydrogen creates water, replacing the water that was electrolyzed. If done properly, the electrolysis would be done by sun power, therefore the only energy involved would be heat from the sun which would otherwise be dispersed into space. Nature's plan for recycling would be maintained.

Harold Thompson, Pasadena


It disturbs me that the Star-News would publish the wad of misinformation parading as some kind of lecture by letter writer Harold Thompson (Oct. 6, "Your view"). Virtually everything he wrote is either completely wrong or so incomplete as to be meaningless.

For example, Thompson's notion that the number of atoms in the universe is fixed along with the Earth's portion thereof, is hilariously wrong. The nuclear reactions that power the universe consume, destroy and create uncountable numbers of atoms every second. On Earth, radioactivity, cosmic ray collisions with matter, nuclear reactors, fusion and fission nuclear weapons all consume or create atoms by altering the atomic nucleus. Sunlight comes from such reactions - this is taught in elementary school!

After an error of that magnitude, why would anyone assign any credibility at all to what Thompson wrote? His errors on global warming and hydrogen fuels are particularly bad, as they advance popular misconceptions that can result in poor public policy like the emissions bill just signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.

Contrary to Thompson, it is not known whether increased atmospheric carbon dioxide can cause global warming. It is rather amusing that he seems unaware of acknowledging this himself when he says "science is proving" it - agreement that it is currently unproven.

The 0.5 degree Celsius increase in atmospheric temperature in the past century is not at all unusual by geologic standards that considerably predate fossil fuel consumption. The statement (as fact) of weather disruption from global warming is completely foundationless, although currently a popular notion.

The assertion that the atmosphere is being "robbed" of oxygen sounds dramatic but is just more twaddle. If this is speculation about oxygen migrating through combustion to carbon dioxide, consider that oxygen makes up 21 percent of the atmosphere; carbon dioxide makes up far less at 0.04 percent. The last few decades' increase in carbon dioxide is approximately .01 percent by the same measure.

Even if all the extra carbon dioxide came from atmospheric oxygen (it doesn't), it would "deplete" 0.05 percent of the oxygen. This, with a substantial overestimate, qualifies as "robbing" the atmosphere? The natural variability of oxygen dwarfs this tiny effect.

The National Academy of Sciences this summer renounced support for the conclusions of the much ballyhooed original report by Michael Mann on global warming. Specifically, the reconstruction of historical temperatures (pre-1600s) was found to be too inaccurate to allow the report's conclusions. There were other serious flaws, almost all of which, for some reason, erred in a way that would increase the predicted temperatures.

Hydrogen fuel, per Thompson, is just the item to put nature back in balance. The fuel cycle of hydrogen is from water, dissociation into oxygen and hydrogen, then combustion back to water. Even a perfect process for this cycle - banned by the second law of thermodynamics - requires as much energy as it consumes for a net of zero. A real process must consume energy - so there is a net loss. If the free hydrogen is removed to be used as fuel, the entire energy yield of the fuel must also be supplied from some other source.

Further, hydrogen has to be highly compressed to be comparable to gasoline, which means large, heavy tanks (gas cylinders), estimated to triple the total weight of a passenger car. Storage is difficult and very dangerous. The fact that it generates little or no pollution would appear to be of secondary importance given that it can't be used.

Andrew K. Gabriel, South Pasadena

The reply above is probably a bit too negative about the future feasibility of hydrogen technology for cars but otherwise seems sound

Free enterprise protects the environment

It is good news that many world travelers have learned the truth about market capitalism. Contrary to the slogans of demonstrators throughout the world, the nations that have the best track records on environmental protection and improvement are those with the highest amount of free-market capitalism. Make no mistake, the anti-capitalism demonstrators often add environmentalism to their claimed objectives solely because it attracts many gullible young persons and appears to legitimize their activities, which often have little or nothing to do with the environment.

Nations with the freest economic systems are the ones whose citizens can afford the luxury of protecting their environments. Conversely, persons living in command-and-control economies barely surviving on life's necessities of food, clothing, and shelter use their natural resources to the absolute limit. They have no other choice in providing for themselves and their families. As family incomes rise, the improving quality of life allows people to devote more resources to solving environmental problems. Thus, with expanding societal wealth under free-market economies, environmental degradation is first arrested and then reversed. Society goes through a form of "environmental transition." After the transition, greater wealth and technology improve environmental quality instead of worsening it.

Because the goals of the environmental movement are positive and constructive and already have strong support, the movement has earned its right to lead--as long as it relies on scientific accuracy, fairness and balance, and persuading the public through sound information. Unfortunately, the environmental movement of late has displaced a great deal of expected scientific accuracy with an increasing use of junk science, which we will define as "the art of utilizing selective rather than comprehensive data to prove a theory or hypothesis, in order to obtain either an economic or political advantage."

Beware the individual, group, or organization that relentlessly attacks the free enterprise system, bashes big business, and bashes corporations. Too often their real agenda is power--power to remake the economic and social systems to suit their own command-and-control goals, not to serve the public good as they so loudly proclaim. Free enterprise capitalism provides the economic lifeblood for many of the world's poor. The late senator Paul Tsongas said in his speech at the 1992 Democratic Convention, "You cannot redistribute wealth you never created. You can't be pro-jobs and anti-business at the same time. You cannot love employment and hate employers."

The extremes of big government socialism and communism have been tried and found wanting in many nations, but their principles still dominate the thinking in world environmental conferences and are widely taught in many major U.S. universities. For three-quarters of a century the Soviet Union was touted as the model of what a planned economy could do for its people. To the embarrassment of many economics professors, it imploded. It could never afford environmental protection or improvement.

Environmentalists who sincerely desire to advance their cause must disassociate themselves from anti-capitalists and destroyers of the social orders of communities, nations, and the world. Nothing highlights this problem more than the Heidelberg Statement, which was signed in the spring of 1993 by 250 prominent scientists, including 27 Nobel Prize winners. It noted, "We are worried at the emergence of an irrational ideology which is opposed to scientific and industrial progress and impedes economic and social development. The greatest evils which stalk our Earth are ignorance and oppression, not science, technology, and industry. We do forewarn the authorities in charge of our planet's destiny against decisions which are supported by pseudo-scientific arguments or false and non-relevant data."

Many sincere environmentalists are unaware that the real goals of the World Summits (Rio de Janeiro, Montreal, Kyoto, etc.) are not mainly related to the environment but rather are intended to manufacture global crises in order to promote plans for a New World Order. The essence of this would be a major loss of national sovereignty to some form of world government--a loss of national sovereignty to planning groups that would control practically all aspects of energy use, technology development, resource management, and the mandatory redistribution of wealth from the have nations to the have-not ones. For all practical purposes, free enterprise and capitalism would disappear.


A world without people

There are an increasing number of commentators who believe that the planet would be better off without the presence of human beings on it. The current issue of New Scientist goes one step further to speculate what it might look like.

The premise of the article is that human beings disappear overnight. `The sad truth is, once the humans get out of the picture, the outlook starts to get a lot better,' says a conservation biologist from California. Nature would be able to reclaim the fields and pastures, and make new habitats in deserted buildings. `Light pollution' would disappear from the skies. Forests would return to their natural state. Nuclear reactors might catch fire or explode, but even there ecosystems would thrive. Strangely, it's not all good news for nature. Some ecosystems have thrived in the presence of human activity and might fail if we were to disappear.

In terms of leaving a legacy, however, the mark of mankind will be pretty shortlived in the great scheme of things. As the article concludes: `The humbling - and perversely comforting - reality is that the Earth will forget us remarkably quickly.' What would be more accurate is that without the presence of an intelligent lifeform, the Earth would be a pointless rock flying through space.

What is remarkable is that the producers of Britain's most widely read science magazine, who should be celebrating the increasing capacity of human beings to understand and shape the world, have so little regard for humanity's interests. Instead, they seem to dismiss the great progress we have made in conquering the problems that nature confronts us with, prefering to fantasise about our demise. While environmentalists speculate about humanity destroying itself through `ecocide', it is the increasingly fashionable desire to dismiss our existence as pointless which is more likely to herald disaster.



Japan's greenhouse gas emissions rose 0.6 percent in the fiscal year to March as oil consumption for heating climbed, taking it further from its Kyoto Protocol target to cut pollution, the government said on Tuesday. Japan's Environment Ministry said preliminary data showed emission of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), were 1.364 billion tonnes in the fiscal year, reversing a slight decline in 2004-2005 and 14.1 percent above its Kyoto target.

The increase may be a further blow to the global pact to cut emissions of greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming, as most European countries are lagging Kyoto targets, and may be an embarrassment to Japan, where the pact was signed. "To achieve its Kyoto target Japan needs a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme -- I think Japan can't succeed in its Kyoto target," said Kuniyuki Nishimura, director of the global warming research division of Mitsubishi Research Institute. "The biggest factor for the rise was winter heating at homes and offices," a ministry official told Reuters, pointing to a winter that was the coldest in two decades.

The emission volumes were up 8.1 percent from the benchmark year of 1990 for Kyoto, under which Japan has to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 6 percent from 1990 levels by the 2008-2012 period. Analysts say it will struggle without placing mandatory caps on industrial emissions, like in Europe.

It may also need to dramatically increase investment in CO2-credit projects in developing nations, which it can use to offset higher pollution levels at home.



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

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

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


23 October, 2005

The real climate change catastrophe

Policymakers must recognize how misguided energy policies will affect the world's poor

Every snowstorm, hurricane, deluge or drought generates headlines, horror movies and television specials, demanding action to avoid imminent climate catastrophe. Skeptics are pilloried, labeled "climate criminals," and threatened with "Nuremberg-style war crimes trials." Britain's Royal Society has demanded that ExxonMobil stop funding researchers who say global warming is primarily the result of natural forces. Meanwhile, scientist James Hansen received $250,000 from Teresa Heinz-Kerry for insisting that warming is due to humans, and "socially responsible" investor services refuse to list or recommend corporations they deem insufficiently sensitive on the subject.

Not surprisingly, companies from Wal-Mart to BP, GE and JP Morgan have brought climate activists into their board rooms, lobbied Congress for climate and ethanol legislation, and retooled to produce new product lines intended to boost tax subsidies, favorable PR and profits. But are these actions socially responsible or in the best interests of society as a whole?

Asserting "the science is settled" ignores the debate that still rages. Proclaiming that "climate change is real" ignores Earth's constant, natural warming and cooling. Vikings raised crops and cattle in Greenland 1000 years ago, while Britons grew grapes in England. Four hundred years later, the Vikings were frozen out, Europe was gripped in a Little Ice Age, and priests performed exorcisms on advancing Swiss glaciers. The globe warmed in 1850-1940, cooled for the next 35 years, then warmed slightly again.

Detroit experienced six snowstorms in April 1868, frosts in August 1869, a 98-degree heat wave in June 1874, and ice-free lakes in January 1877. Wisconsin's record high of 114 degrees F in July 1936 was followed five years later by a record July low of 46. In 1980, five years after Newsweek's "new little ice age" cover story, Washington, DC endured 67 days above 90 degrees.

Studies by National Academy of Sciences, NOAA, Danish and other scientists continue to raise inconvenient truths that question and contradict catastrophic climate change theories, computer models and assertions. The "hockey stick" temperature graph (which claimed 1990-2000 was the hottest decade in 1000 years) was shown to be invalid; the Southern Hemisphere has not warmed in the past 25 years; the US is yet to be hit by a major hurricane in 2006; interior Greenland and Antarctica are gaining ice mass, not losing it; and Gulf Stream circulation has not slowed, as claimed in 2005.

Other recent studies conclude the sun's radiant heat and cosmic ray levels affect planetary warming and cloud formation more strongly than acknowledged by climate alarmists. That's logical. Why would natural forces that caused climate change and bizarre weather in past centuries suddenly stop working?

Why would we assume (as many climate models do) that energy, transportation and pollution control technologies will suddenly stagnate at 2000 levels, after the amazing advances of the previous century? And can we afford the Quixotic attempt to stall or prevent future climate change?

Just the current Kyoto Protocol could cost the world up to $1 trillion per year, in regulatory bills, higher energy costs and lost productivity. That's several times more than the price tag for providing the world with clean drinking water and sanitation - which would prevent millions of deaths annually from intestinal diseases.

Over 2 billion of the Earth's citizens still do not have electricity, to provide basic necessities like lights, refrigeration and modern hospitals. Instead they breathe polluted smoke from wood and dung fires, and die by the millions from lung diseases. But opposition to fossil fuel power plants, in the name of preventing climate change, ensures that these "indigenous" lifestyles, diseases and deaths will continue.

Opposition to hydroelectric projects (damming rivers) and nuclear power (radioactive wastes) likewise perpetuates endemic Third World poverty. So would a new European Union proposal to tax imports from China, India and other poor countries that are exempt from the Kyoto Protocol, because this gives them an "unfair trade advantage" over EU countries that are struggling to meet their Kyoto #1 commitments.

But UK Climate Change Minister Ian Pearson insists that climate change "is one of the most pressing issues facing countries in sub-Saharan Africa." And environmental zealots blame malaria rates on climate change, to deflect charges that their callous opposition to insecticides is killing African babies.

Elsewhere, government and private studies calculate that the Protocol would cost the United States up to $348 billion in 2012. The average American family of four would pay an extra $2,700 annually for energy and consumer goods, and in US minority communities, the climate treaty would destroy 1.3 million jobs and "substantially affect" standards of living.

Yet, even perfect compliance with Kyoto would result in Earth's temperature being only 0.2 degrees F less by 2050 than under a business-as-usual scenario. Assuming humans really are the culprits, actually controlling theoretical global temperature increases would require 40 Kyoto treaties - each one more restrictive, each one expanding government control over housing, transportation, heating, cooling and manufacturing decisions.

The real danger is that we will handcuff economies and hammer poor families, to promote solutions which won't solve a problem that the evidence increasingly suggests is moderate, manageable and primarily natural in origin.

The real catastrophe is that we are already using overwrought claims about a climate cataclysm to justify depriving Earth's most impoverished citizens of electricity and other modern technologies that would make their lives infinitely better.

Real ethics and social responsibility would weigh these costs and benefits, foster robust debate about every aspect of climate change, ensure continued technological advancement, and give a seat at the decision table to the real stakeholders: not climate alarmists - but those who have to live with the consequences of decisions that affect their access to energy, health, hope, opportunity and prosperity.


Recycling fanaticism in Britain

A householder has told of his despair at being landed with a criminal record for putting a scrap of paper in a bin bag meant for bottles and cans. Michael Reeves, 28, has become Britain's first recycling martyr after a court fined him 200 pounds for disobeying rules about sorting his rubbish. He had volunteered to take part in a recycling scheme launched by Swansea Council. But somehow a single piece of junk mail found its way into a bag designated for other rubbish. And when council workers found his name and address on it, they prosecuted.

Last night the case provoked widespread anger. Even environmentalists said that it could put people off recycling as millions of householders already struggle to make sense of bewildering rules governing how to dispose of their rubbish.

Mr Reeves told The Mail on Sunday: "I now have a criminal record and it will weigh me down like a millstone. I will have to explain myself every time I apply for a new job. And if I want to go to the United States I will have to apply for a special entry visa." Mr Reeves, a sports writer, also spoke of his frustration at his time-consuming journey through five court hearings. "Not satisfied with a false accusation of mixing up my rubbish, they tried to throw in an additional charge of leaving the bags out on the wrong day,' he said. "Looked at in one way it is a hilarious tale of barmy bureaucracy - but I found it no laughing matter."

Last night, campaign group the Taxpayers' Alliance accused local authorities of cynically using the environment as an excuse to collect extra revenue. Director James Frayne said: "This is a joke. The Green movement in Britain is in danger of being hijacked by tax-hungry politicians. People will soon start to associate going green with going broke."

Mr Reeves denied even putting the letter in the bag. There were no witnesses nor camera footage of him doing so, but magistrates still found him guilty. "I am not a violent man or a drunkard. I have not held up a bank. I have not committed fraud. But when I allowed a single piece of junk mail to appear in the wrong sort of recycling bag I found myself committing a crime. It was not me who put the letter in the recycling bag. It was not even my bag. Yet the presence of my address amid the cans and bottles was enough for the court to find me guilty. I have always been happy to do my bit for the environment - but I couldn't care less now."

Mr Reeves said his first mistake was to put his rubbish out a day early, but only because he was going on holiday the next day. It was met with a warning that any further slip-ups would result in legal action. "Duly warned I carried on separating the rubbish,' he said. Then came the summons accusing him of breaching the order. "I was shocked and had no idea what to do,' he said. "I couldn't sleep. At one point I even thought I might end up in jail." He added: "The irony is that I would have been better off not recycling at all, just loading everything into a single rubbish bag. But like most people I supported the principle and was happy to play my part."

It is only in the past six months that local authorities have pursued those who flout the rules with any vigour. They have had the power to set down rules on how rubbish is sorted since 1990, but the law has not previously been tested because recycling schemes have only really developed on a wide scale since a 1999 EU ruling limiting how much waste each country can bury in landfill. Donna Challice of Exeter was the first person to be prosecuted for putting the wrong rubbish in her recycling bin, but she was acquitted after a 6,000 pound case because the council could not prove she was responsible.

Friends of the Earth said Mr Reeves' case 'may put people off recycling - and that's bad news'. A Swansea Council spokesman said: "It is very rare for us to take this line but it is unfortunate that Mr Reeves didn't contact us at any point. When he failed to respond to a second enforcement notice over his contaminated rubbish, we had no option but to issue a summons. "It was dealt with in the magistrates court which means Mr Reeves now has a criminal record"



Below is an excerpt from a scholarly review of one of Al Gore's books which points out how closely Gore follows the thinking of Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger

The Real Source for The Fate of the Earth in the Balance

Despite the parade of quotes and references from Plato and Arendt, there is one thinker conspicuously absent from both Schell and Gore's numerous citations but whose spirit is present on almost every page of both books: Martin Heidegger. Perhaps the absence of a reference to Heidegger is due to reticence or discretion, given Heidegger's dubious and complicated association with Nazism. Nothing derails an argument faster than playing the reductio ad Hitlerum card. More likely it is the abstruse and difficult character of Heidegger's arguments; Gore and Schell may not realize how closely the core of their argument about the technological alienation of man from nature tracks Heidegger's more thorough account in his famous 1953 essay "The Question Concerning Technology."

Heidegger asks, "What is modern technology?" His understanding of technology is sometimes rendered in translation as "technicity" to convey a defective way of knowing about phenomena, and to distinguish the term from its more common usage to mean mere scientific instrumentality (think gadgets). Heidegger believed that our mode of objectifying nature alienates mankind from perceiving and contemplating pure "Being." Whatever this may mean--and even Heidegger's followers admit it is obscure (Heidegger himself wrote that "we are asking about something which we barely grasp"[22])--Heidegger suggests that philosophy has been asking the wrong questions since the very beginning, and the culmination of this wrong track is modern technology, which completes the alienation of man from nature. This is where Heidegger prepares the way for Gore. Modern technology, according to Heidegger,

puts to nature the unreasonable demand that it supply energy which can be extracted and stored as such. . . . The earth now reveals itself as a coal-mining district, the soil as a mineral deposit. The field that the peasant formerly cultivated and set in order appears different from how it did when to set in order still meant to take of and maintain. . . . But meanwhile even the cultivation of the field has come under the grip of another kind of setting-in-order, which sets upon [italics in original] nature. It sets upon it in the sense of challenging it. Agriculture is now the mechanized food industry. Air is now set upon to yield nitrogen, the earth to yield ore, ore to yield uranium, for example; uranium is set upon to yield atomic energy, which can be released either for destruction or for peaceful use.

Here are Gore's parallel passages:

[O]ur civilization is holding ever more tightly to its habit of consuming larger and larger quantities every year of coal, oil, fresh air and water, trees, topsoil, and the thousand other substances we rip from the crust of the earth. . . . We seem increasingly eager to lose ourselves in the forms of culture, society, technology, the media, and the rituals of production and consumption, but the price we pay is a loss of our spiritual lives.


Our seemingly compulsive need to control the natural world . . . has driven us to the edge of disaster, for we have become so successful at controlling nature than we have lost our connection to it.

It is possible to compile a long inventory of close parallels between Heidegger and Gore. For example, Heidegger told interviewers in 1966:

[T]echnicity increasingly dislodges man and uproots him from the earth. . . . The last 30 years have made it clearer that the planet-wide movement of modern technicity is a power whose magnitude in determining [our] history can hardly be overestimated.

Heidegger also found the earth-from-space photos as affecting as Gore and Schell:

I don't know if you were shocked, but [certainly] I was shocked when a short time ago I saw the pictures of the earth taken from the moon. We do not need atom bombs at all [to uproot us]--the uprooting of man is already here. All our relationships have become merely technical ones. It is no longer upon an earth than man lives today.

Gore likes to cite the supposed proverb that the Chinese symbol for "crisis" also means "opportunity." Heidegger was fond of quoting a line from the German poet H"lderlin: "Where danger lies, there too grows the chance for salvation." And is it necessary to mention that Heisenberg's uncertainty principle also shows up for duty in Heidegger's essay on technology? Heidegger is often said to have advocated a return to pre-Socratic philosophy, though in fact he was skeptical that there was any philosophical solution to the problem he perceived. Gore follows Heidegger closely when he criticizes Plato and the Western philosophic tradition for preparing the ground for modern man's estrangement from nature:

The strange absence of emotion, the banal face of evil so often manifested by mass technological assaults on the global environment, is surely a consequence of the belief in an underlying separation of intellect from the physical world. At the root of this belief lies a heretical understanding of humankind's place in the world as old as Plato, as seductive in its mythic appeal as Gnosticism, as compelling as the Cartesian promise of Promethean power--and it has led to tragic results.

Political Implications

Assuming for the purposes of discussion that Gore's Heideggerian analysis is correct, can a reconnection of intellect and the physical world be accomplished through politics--or led by politicians? Heidegger did not think so, which is why he said it would be impossible for him to write an ethical or political treatise.[29] He doubted democracy offered any hope. In an interview late in life, Heidegger said, "For me today it is a decisive question as to how any political system--and which one--can be adapted to an epoch of technicity. I know of no answer to this question. I am not convinced that it is democracy."[30] Heidegger was contemptuous of postwar democratic reforms--calling them "halfway measures"--including individual constitutional rights, because:

I do not see in them any actual confrontation with the world of technicity, inasmuch as behind them all, according to my view, stands the conception that technicity in its essence is something that man holds within his own hands.

Heidegger thought American democracy was the most hopeless of all, in words that sound in substance exactly like Gore's complaint:

[Americans] are still caught up in a thought that, under the guise of pragmatism, facilitates the technical operation and manipulation [of things], but at the same time blocks the way to reflection upon the genuine nature of modern technicity.

(Separately, Heidegger wrote that America epitomized "the emerging monstrousness of modern times."[32])

From here it is possible to comprehend more dispassionately Heidegger's attraction to the Nazi movement in the 1930s. He had no brief for fascism in general or National Socialism in particular, nor was he an anti-Semite. What he expressed in his famous "Rector's Address" in 1934 was that the "inner truth and greatness" of the Nazi movement was its potential "encounter between technicity on the planetary level and modern man," and that it "casts its net in these troubled waters of `values' and `totalities,'" or, as he put it a 1948 letter to Herbert Marcuse, "a spiritual renewal of life in its entirety." In other words, the "wrenching transformation" of Germany that the Nazi revolution set in motion held the potential for reconnecting humankind with the essence of Being in a primal, pre-Socratic way. Heidegger's moral blindness to the phenomenon in front of him exposes the hazard of an excessively abstract approach to human existence. As Heidegger's example shows, the idea of transforming human consciousness through politics is likely an extremist--and potentially totalitarian--project.

Reviewing the fundamentally Heideggerian understanding of our environmental predicament in Gore's thought throws new light on the deeper meaning of Gore's call for a "wrenching transformation" of civilization on the level of thought. Gore would no doubt be sincerely horrified at the suggested parallel between his themes and Heidegger's moral blindness toward political extremism, and rightly reject it as the implication of his views. He is, thankfully, too imbued with the innate American democratic tradition to embrace any such extremism. But it is fair to ask whether he has fully thought through the implications of his ambitious critique. In the case of both Gore and Schell before him, the Heideggerian approach reveals a certain cast of mind: deeply pessimistic, but utopian at the same time. Our salvation demands submitting to the moral authority of their "vision" to change our "consciousness." After all, one aspect of Plato that Heidegger approves of is the view that mankind will suffer unremitting disaster until either rulers become philosophers or philosophers become rulers. (Indeed it was the failure of intellectuals to guide the Nazi movement that led to its ruin, Heidegger thought.) Gore seems to be making a round trip, looking to end up on either end of this potentiality, envisioning himself either as a ruler who has become a philosopher or as a philosopher who may yet (again) become a ruler.

Is it so farfetched to suggest that this has some problematic, if unintended, political implications? One of Gore's sound and important arguments in Earth in the Balance and An Inconvenient Truth is that it is a profound error to suppose that the earth's environment is so robust that there is little or nothing that mankind could do to damage it seriously. He is right, as was Heidegger, to point out the immense earthshaking power of modern technology. But there is a symmetrical observation to be made of Gore's metaphysical approach to the problem, which is that it is an equally profound error to suppose that the environment of human liberty is so robust that there is no political intervention on behalf of the environment that could not damage liberty in serious ways, especially if the environment is elevated to the central organizing principle of civilization. Implicit in this goal is downgrading human liberty as the central organizing principle of civilization. There are no index entries in Earth in the Balance for "liberty," "freedom," or "individualism." Heidegger believed the liberal conceptions of these great terms were meaningless or without foundation. There is no acknowledgement in Gore's book that this is even a serious consideration. Gore's one discussion of the matter is not reassuring:

In fact, what many feel is a deep philosophical crisis in the West has occurred in part because this balance [between rights and responsibilities] has been disrupted: we have tilted so far toward individual rights and so far away from any sense of obligation that it is now difficult to muster an adequate defense of any rights vested in the community at large or the nation--much less rights properly vested in all humankind or in posterity.

But Is It Necessary?

Is Gore's high-level metaphysical analysis necessary in the first place? Do we really have to resolve or unwind the problem of Platonic idealism and Cartesian dualism to address the problem of climate change? The example of the previous case in point--the arms race--suggests an answer. The arms race did not require a revolution in human consciousness or a transformation of national and global political institutions to bring about rapid and favorable changes. The kind of grandiose, pretentious thinking exemplified in Fate of the Earth played little or no role in these shifts. The problem turned out to be much simpler. The acute problem of the superpower arms race was mostly a moral problem--not a metaphysical problem--arising from the character of the irreconcilable regimes. As was frequently pointed out, the United States never worried about British or French nuclear weapons. Once the United States and the Soviet Union were able to establish a level of trust and common interest, unwinding the arms race became a relatively easy matter. Nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear proliferation in unsavory regimes (Iran, North Korea) is still around today, but the acute existential threat of the arms race has receded substantially.

In the early 1980s, The Fate of the Earth became the Bible for the nuclear freeze movement--the simplistic idea brought to you by the same people who thought Ronald Reagan was a simpleton. To his credit, then representative and later senator Gore opposed the nuclear freeze. Nowadays Gore has started to call for an immediate freeze on greenhouse-gas emissions, which he must know is unrealistic. His explanation in a recent speech shows that he missed entirely the lesson from that earlier episode:

An immediate freeze [on CO2 emissions] has the virtue of being clear, simple, and easy to understand. It can attract support across partisan lines as a logical starting point for the more difficult work that lies ahead. I remember a quarter century ago when I was the author of a complex nuclear arms control plan to deal with the then rampant arms race between our country and the former Soviet Union. At the time, I was strongly opposed to the nuclear freeze movement, which I saw as simplistic and naive. But, three-quarters of the American people supported it--and as I look back on those years I see more clearly now that the outpouring of public support for that very simple and clear mandate changed the political landscape and made it possible for more detailed and sophisticated proposals to eventually be adopted.

The irony of this statement is that since the moral and political differences between the United States and the Soviet Union could not be resolved diplomatically, the way to move relations forward was to convert relations into a technical problem (i.e., negotiations over the number and specifications of weapons systems). Gore remained firmly within the technocratic arms-control community throughout this period, even as Schell and others tried to moralize the arms-control problem with the nuclear freeze proposal. But the moral confusion (some critics said the premise of moral equivalence) of the freeze idea made it a sideshow at best and a hindrance at worst. On the contrary, President Reagan's resistance to the freeze, as well as the conventions of the arms-control process to which Gore held, were crucial to his strategy for changing the dynamic of the arms race. Having been an arms-control technocrat in the 1980s, Gore today wants to turn the primarily technical and economic problems of climate change into a moral problem.

Gore's argument that climate change is a moral problem and not a political problem is not serious, since the leading prescriptions for treating the problem all require massive applications of political power on a global scale. Skeptics and cynics might dismiss Gore's metaphysical speculations as mere intellectual preening, as many critics did with Fate of the Earth in the 1980s. But such an approach to environmental issues may be an obstacle to many practical, incremental steps that can be taken to solve real climate-policy problems. Once one grasps the Heideggerian character of the Gore approach to thinking about environmental problems, the hesitance about nuclear power comes into better focus. Gore and others in his mold dislike large-scale technologies because they are intrinsic to mankind's mastery of nature that is driving our supposed alienation from nature. This same premise also explains the frequently hostile reaction of many environmentalists to suggestions that adaptation to climate change should be a part of any serious climate policy, even though many leading climate scientists and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have embraced adaptation. The suggestion that technologies for climate modification might be developed, which would be the climate policy equivalent of Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, are greeted contemptuously for the same reason.

Will climate policy ultimately be guided by physicians or metaphysicians? Gore's high-profile position on these issues tilts the balance toward metaphysicians. This is certain to generate ferocious resistance to change well beyond merely self-interested industries. Gore would be better off following the advice of Heidegger critic Stanley Rosen, and "step downward, out of the thin atmosphere of the floating island of Laputa or of the balloons in which so many of our advanced thinkers are currently suspended, back into the rich air of everyday life." That's a fancy way of saying, "Take a deep breath, Al."



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

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

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


22 October, 2005

That pesky global warming is making Australia's deserts green!

Unpredictable rainfall is normal in Australia but these days it is all due to "climate change"

If the rain is not falling in Sydney's catchments and throughout southern Australia, where has it gone? The answer, says the acting head of the Bureau of Meteorology's National Climate Centre, David Jones, is north-west and Central Australia, where residents are finding climate change may have a wetter flipside.

Most dramatic is the desert outpost of Giles, which sits on the edge of the Tanami Desert near the junction of South Australia, Western Australian and the Northern Territory. In 50 years the remote weather station, home to five people, has seen its rainfall double - from a yearly average of about 150 millimetres to around 300.

If current trends continue, ecological changes will begin to follow - greener for the desert and the Kimberley, but browner for southern Australia. Because Giles is one of the driest spots in the continent, a doubling of rainfall has not yet had a visible impact, says the officer in charge of the weather station there, Michael McIlvenny. But Dr Peter Kendrick, Pilbara-based regional ecologist with the West Australian Department of Environment and Conservation, said doubling rainfall has a "huge impact" in such an ecosystem, given that desert fauna and flora are tuned to respond rapidly to episodic rainfall. Dr Jones says he already believes the extra rainfall in some other less arid areas has given agriculture and grazing a valuable buffer against degradation.

But in southern Australia, the colour of climate change seems to be brown. Dr Michael Raupach, a scientist with the CSIRO Division of Marine and Atmospheric Research, and chairman of the Global Carbon Project, has recently made some frightening observations from satellite photography. He and his team have discovered large swathes of the continent are becoming visibly less green. "Depending on the area, we are finding parts of the continent that are more than 50 per cent less green," he said. "This means a browning of the continent. The trend started in the late 1990s and since then has been going on in a ratchet fashion, with jumps in browning occurring in drought years."

What makes this finding so alarming is that if the drought does not ease then the logical conclusion of the current trend is a massive death of vegetation, huge bushfires and the release of vast volumes of carbon, further feeding climate change. Normally, Dr Raupach said, forests have the chance to recover through flooding rains between droughts, but the low-rainfall conditions of the past decade have been relentless. While sporadic recovery of greenness occurred in places, nowhere has vegetation climbed back to what it normally would be between droughts. Worst affected seem to be south-west Western Australia and almost the entire Murray-Darling Basin, ecosystems, already fragile because of land degradation. "It's almost literally true that it keeps me awake at night," Dr Raupach said.

The weather bureau's Dr Jones says "superficially, the rainfall shift to the north-west of the continent doesn't make a lot of sense". This is because theoretically the entire nation has been in the grip of El Nino for much of the last decade. Perhaps the huge release of aerosols into the atmosphere by Asian nations could be a factor in the increased rain, he said. One thing that is certain is that the Australian climate has shifted dramatically in the past half century. In a vast band of the continent between the Nullarbor coast and the Kimberley there has been an average annual increase in rainfall of between 100 and 200 millimetres. "Around Broome and Wyndham, rainfall has increased by 300 millimetres - particularly in summer and autumn," Dr Jones said.

On the other hand, Sydney's annual rainfall has decreased by between 100 and 200 millimetres a year and in Mackay by as much as 300 millimetres a year compared to the 1950s. Weather systems known as north-west cloud bands used to travel across the continent from monsoonal troughs in the Kimberley, bringing the kind of rain to southern Australia which filled dams and caused floods. "In the last few years to a decade these north-west cloud bands have almost disappeared. The linkage to the tropics has broken down," Dr Jones said. "Since 1950, since global temperatures have increased along with aerosols and ozone, all of a sudden we have seen rainfall trends that are very distinct. "One would be naive to put these trends down to natural variations. They're very large and a number are consistent with what we see from climate change computer models."

The drying of southern Australia has attracted the most attention until now, he said. "What we are seeing in the rest of Australia is just as dramatic, it's just that it's positive. People don't seem to notice climate change when it's beneficial to humans." Dr Kendrick said with greater rainfall, vegetation would increase in arid areas. There would be changes in fauna. The desert mouse had extended its range from the central deserts to the west Pilbara, and camel numbers were increasing.



Still no visible effect of the Greenie ban on our best refrigerants

The hole in the ozone layer over the southern hemisphere is the largest ever, covering an area more than three times the size of Australia. During the last nine days of September, the hole in the ozone layer covered, on average, nearly 17.5 million sq km. The expansion to a size greater than the surface area of North America has been observed in recent weeks by American and Australian scientists. "We now have the largest ozone hole on record," said Craig Long of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The ozone layer girdles the Earth in the upper atmosphere, or stratosphere. It protects plants, animals and people by blocking harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun.

Ozone depletion is caused by the effects of stratospheric chlorine and bromine. The gasses are released in summer when sunlight acts on artificial compounds like chlorofluorocarbons once used as coolants and fire retardants. The record-breaking hole was announced yesterday by the US space agency, NASA, and NOAA. Scientists at the CSIRO identified the hole last week, said atmospheric scientist Paul Fraser. "We were looking at data on the NASA site and noticed the hole looked likely to be the biggest ever," Dr Fraser said.

The data was recorded by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument aboard NASA's Aura satellite. The instrument detected record low levels of ozone over the East Antarctic ice sheet. Balloon-borne instruments operated by NOAA made further measurements directly over the South Pole. Ozone levels had plunged from 300 Doppler Units (DU) -- a measure of ozone between 13 and 20km above Earth -- to 93DU. "These numbers mean the ozone is virtually gone in this layer of the atmosphere," said David Hofmann, director of NOAA's Global Monitoring Division. "The depleted layer has an unusual vertical extent this year, so it appears that the 2006 ozone hole will go down as a record-setter."

While the size of the hole is alarming, it does not mean that increased amounts of ozone-depleting chemicals are reaching the atmosphere, said Paul Lehmann with the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre in Melbourne. "There is mounting evidence that the ozone is slowly recovering," he said. "The (yearly) size of the hole is due to the effect of atmospheric influences like wind and temperature." Dr Fraser noted that these conditions differed from year to year, effectively "masking" the decline in ozone-depleting substances and the increase in protective ozone. "There are less ozone-depleting chemicals but they are more effective (when it's cold)," Dr Fraser said. "This is the coldest year ever." Also, chlorine and bromine remain in the stratosphere for about 50 years.

Signatories to the 1975 Montreal Protocol and its amendments, including Australia, agreed to phase out ozone-depleting substances. Its estimated [i.e. theorized] levels of the destructive gasses peaked above Antarctica in 2001 and are now declining.



Global warming has become a classic unfalsifiable hypothesis. They can "explain" anything. Evidence shows anything you want

Some glaciers in Pakistan's Upper Indus River Basin appear to be growing, and a new study suggests that global warming is the cause. The glacial growth bucks a global trend of shrinking ice fields and may shed light on the regionally varying effects of Earth's changing climate.

Meteorological data compiled over the past century show that winter temperatures have been rising in parts of the Western Himalaya, Karakoram, and Hindu Kush mountain ranges (map of Pakistan). But the region's winter snowfall, which feeds the glaciers, has been increasing. And average summer temperatures, which melt snow and glaciers, have been dropping. "One of the surprising results we found was a downward trend in summer temperatures," [Hey! Where's that global warming?]said David Archer, study co-author and a hydrologist at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom. "That seems to be at odds with what people would expect, given the news about glaciers melting in the Eastern Himalaya."

The combination of reduced summer melt and more winter snowfall could account for glacial growth, according to work to be published by Archer and colleagues in an upcoming issue of the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate. The new study compiled thousands of pages of climatic data that were collected at weather stations during the past century.

The records even include 19th-century documents taken from British archives that predate the creation of modern Pakistan in 1947.....

The data also reveal another climatic oddity-a change in the basin's diurnal temperature range, or the span between daytime high and nighttime low temperatures for a given day. "There's a large increase in the diurnal temperature range observed in all seasons and in all the annual data sets," Archer said. "In most parts of the world there's been a decrease in diurnal temperature change, and this is what's being predicted by global climate-change models." ....

All together, the area's regional variations are at odds with most glaciated regions worldwide, including the Eastern Himalaya, where glaciers have been shrinking significantly....

It may take many years to understand climate change's lasting effects on Pakistan's glaciers. But Archer hopes for much more immediate payoff from the recently published climate data. "We're not entirely sure what long-term climate change trends will do," he said. "But in the meantime, [water forecasting] is a really important, immediate, practical issue."

More here


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

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

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


21 October, 2005


There is an "urgent need" to help developing countries adapt to impacts of climate change, UK Climate Change Minister Ian Pearson has said. Nations were experiencing environmental changes as a result of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere, he told MPs. He said he was hopeful that an action plan and funding would be agreed at a climate summit in Africa next month. But Mr Pearson added that the talks on the Kyoto Protocol were unlikely to deliver new global emission targets.

He made his comments while giving evidence to the Commons Environmental Audit Committee's inquiry into how the UN Kyoto Protocol will progress after the current period for emission targets ends in 2012. Mr Pearson said that it was helpful that the talks on the protocol were being hosted by an African government. "Climate change is a huge issue when it comes to Africa. There will certainly be a strong focus on adaptation in Nairobi because it is one of the most pressing issues facing countries in sub-Saharan Africa today," he said. "A large number of the countries that did not sign up to Kyoto are very small emitters and they are not a big part of the problem. "But they are going to be affected by the climate change that is already in the (atmospheric) system," the minister told committee members.

The two-week summit will look at what progress has been made by the legally binding agreement that requires industrial nations to cut their emissions by an average of 5.2% from 1990 levels by the period 2008-2012. Delegates will also consider what system should be adopted when the current period ends.

Earlier this month, the UK government co-hosted a climate conference in Mexico for the world's top 20 polluting nations. The two-day informal gathering brought together ministers from G8 industrialised countries and developing nations to try to reach a consensus on the issue. When asked by Labour MP David Chaytor whether the meeting undermined the UN negotiations, Mr Pearson disagreed. "The key thing was to continue to build international consensus on the science and practical actions in terms of what needs to be done," he told the committee. However, he said it would be very difficult to get ministers from 189 nations at the Nairobi summit to reach an agreement on what should happen after 2012.

A number of nations, including the US, the world's biggest polluter, favour technological advances rather than targets to reduce emissions. "I would love to say that I feel confident that everyone is going to Nairobi with the expectation that there is going to be a long-term international agreement, but I do not think that is going to be the case," Mr Pearson conceded. "What we can realistically expect... is to hopefully agree an adaptation work programme and an adaptation fund which will be important issues for developing countries."



In a revealing new study of globally-distributed sea level time series, Jevrejeva et al. (2006) analyzed information contained in the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level database using a method based on Monte Carlo Singular Spectrum Analysis, removing 2- to 30-year quasi-periodic oscillations and determining nonlinear long-term trends for 12 large ocean regions, which they combined to produce the mean global sea level (gsl) and mean global sea level rate-of-rise (gsl rate) curves depicted in the figure below.

With respect to the results of their analysis, Jevrejeva et al. say their findings show that "global sea level rise is irregular and varies greatly over time," noting that "it is apparent that rates in the 1920-1945 period are likely to be as large as today's." In addition, they report that their "global sea level trend estimate of 2.4 Ů 1.0 mm/yr for the period from 1993 to 2000 matches the 2.6 Ů 0.7 mm/yr sea level rise found from TOPEX/Poseidon altimeter data."

With respect to what Jevrejeva et al. describe as "the discussion on whether sea level rise is accelerating," their results pretty much answer the question in the negative; and in further support of this conclusion, they note that "Church et al. (2004) pointed out that with decadal variability in the computed global mean sea level, it is not possible to detect a significant increase in the rate of sea level rise over the period 1950-2000," as is clearly evident from the bottom portion of the above figure.

These observations make us wonder why late 20th-century global warming - which climate alarmists describe as having been unprecedented over the past two millennia - cannot be detected in global sea level data. We are even more intrigued about the matter in light of the fact that the warming that initiated the demise of the Little Ice Age - which by climate-alarmist contention should have been considerably less dramatic than the warming of the late 20th century - is readily apparent in the central third of the above figure. Likewise, we are perplexed by the empirical fact that the rising atmospheric CO2 concentration - which climate alarmists claim is primarily responsible for the supposedly unprecedented global warming of the late 20th century - experienced a dramatic increase in its rate of rise just after 1950 (shifting from a 1900-1950 mean rate-of-rise of 0.33 ppm/yr to a 1950-2000 mean rate-of-rise of 1.17 ppm/yr), yet the rate of mean global sea level rise did not trend upwards after 1950, nor has it subsequently exceeded its 1950 rate-of-rise.

Clearly, either something is drastically wrong with climate-alarmist theory, or something is drastically wrong with the pertinent real-world data. Although many people choose to believe the theory over the data - or they promote the theory in spite of believing the data (or they simply ignore the data) for philosophical or political reasons - we find it much more compelling - and satisfying - to both believe the data and act in harmony with that belief.


Abstract of the study mentioned above follows:

Nonlinear trends and multiyear cycles in sea level records

By S. Jevrejeva et al.

We analyze the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) database of sea level time series using a method based on Monte Carlo Singular Spectrum Analysis (MC-SSA). We remove 2-30 year quasi-periodic oscillations and determine the nonlinear long-term trends for 12 large ocean regions. Our global sea level trend estimate of 2.4 ~ 1.0 mm/yr for the period from 1993 to 2000 is comparable with the 2.6 ~ 0.7 mm/yr sea level rise calculated from TOPEX/Poseidon altimeter measurements. However, we show that over the last 100 years the rate of 2.5 ~ 1.0 mm/yr occurred between 1920 and 1945, is likely to be as large as the 1990s, and resulted in a mean sea level rise of 48 mm. We evaluate errors in sea level using two independent approaches, the robust bi-weight mean and variance, and a novel "virtual station" approach that utilizes geographic locations of stations. Results suggest that a region cannot be adequately represented by a simple mean curve with standard error, assuming all stations are independent, as multiyear cycles within regions are very significant. Additionally, much of the between-region mismatch errors are due to multiyear cycles in the global sea level that limit the ability of simple means to capture sea level accurately. We demonstrate that variability in sea level records over periods 2-30 years has increased during the past 50 years in most ocean basins.


Good tidings for Europe's energy markets are in short supply. The continent now suffers from an overall decrease of peak generation margins, insufficient infrastructure investments, higher energy prices and snail-paced progress in market liberalization.

Most worryingly, Europe barely has enough energy to keep its kettles whistling. The razor-thin margin between electricity supply and demand fell to its lowest-ever figure of 4.8% in 2005 and early 2006, a percentage point lower than the 5.8% margin in 2004. Extreme weather conditions have not helped: Europe saw record-breaking high temperatures in the summer of 2005, which led to a much greater demand for air conditioning systems. Severe cold snaps during winter 2005-2006 and low rainfall in Spain and France resulted in very high price spikes.

Spain is the country most in trouble. (See " Continental Divide.") Real capacity margins decreased to -4%, despite an increase in generation capacity of 8%. Some countries, such as the U.K. and Ireland, have successfully addressed the margin issue through greater investment in generation capacity.

However, the continent as a whole is crying out for investment. A year ago, business consultant Capgemini estimated that European governments needed to invest 700 billion euros ($878 billion) over the next 25 years in electricity generation plants. In its 2006 European Energy Market Observatory report, Capgemini acknowledges that investments grew again during 2005, but the continent's five-year commitments are still insufficient to restore a secure supply situation.

"You may wonder why the governments don't invest more," says Colette Lewiner, the energy, utilities and chemicals global sector leader at Capgemini. "The risks are very large, as it involves very long-term investment. Secondly, there are long procedures to get approval on building, say, a nuclear plant. It takes ten years to build a nuclear power plant these days; before, it would have taken five years."

Investment in generation needs to keep pace with soaring energy prices. Spot electricity wholesale prices surged by 70% in 2005 compared with the previous year, with peak prices up to 270 euros ($339) per megawatt hour. This followed hot on the heels of large increases in energy prices in 2005 compared with 2004 (oil and gas increased by 53% and 38% respectively), high prices for carbon dioxide emission rights and tight supply and demand conditions.

The double-digit increases in retail prices has caused customer dissatisfaction. In Europe's competitive retail markets, higher "churn"--customers chopping and changing their energy providers--reflected this annoyance over price increases. The highest levels of customer churn during 2005 and early 2006 were in the U.K. and Nordic countries.

Russia's control over a key faucet helps to keep energy prices high. Despite the freezing temperatures, Europe was sweating at the start of this year when President Vladimir Putin cut off gas supplies through the Ukraine. Although the Kremlin quickly turned the gas back on, it was a stark reminder that the EU's long-term energy supply plans depend heavily on Russian gas. "It is now clear that Gazprom is using its gas supply position and pipeline ownership to put pressure on Western and Eastern European utilities with a successful plan to get into the gas retail business," says Lewiner.

The European continent is also failing to keep its promises on the environment. Despite the implementation of the European Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Scheme in 2005, it is highly unlikely that the EU will be able to meet its Kyoto Protocol obligations. The overall EU commitment under the Kyoto Protocol is to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 8% on 1990 levels by 2008-2012. Yet in 2005, the 15 members of the EU were 300 million tons of carbon dioxide away from meeting their Kyoto protocol objective, with the notable exception of the U.K., whose prime minister, Tony Blair, has implemented a stringent National Allocation Plan that meets with ambitious Kyoto goals.

Europe's energy market is also not as liberalized as Brussels' mandarins would like. There are interesting tensions at work between the EU's utopia of a deregulated and liberalized market and the die-hard protectionists who exist within the superstate's jurisdiction. True, a merger and acquisition wave has begun, but not in the fashion the EU's Competition tsarina, Neelie Kroes, prefers. It started earlier this year with Spanish company Gas Natural's hostile bid for its compatriot Endesa, which was followed by a friendlier takeover proposal from German company E.ON. However, Kroes ruled two weeks ago that Spain broke EU law in putting restrictions E.ON's efforts to buy the company.

France's Suez and Gaz de France gave Kroes another headache when they announced their merger hard on the heels of the news that Italian utility Enel planned to bid for Suez. These mega deals, which still need to hop over many hurdles both at the country and EU level, are taking attention away from a handful of smaller transactions, including the desire by larger players to start investing in "new frontier" countries such as Russia. "However," says Lewiner, "if they go through, they are likely to trigger additional mergers and acquisitions in a chain reaction, potentially creating an oligopolistic market, contrary to the unbundled and competitive free market that the EU would like to see."



The 2006 Nobel laureates are in the spotlight, but a recent piece of news -- an announcement from the World Health Organization -- calls to mind a Nobel laureate of an earlier era. When the Swiss chemist Paul Muller was awarded the prize in medicine in 1948, he was hailed "as a benefactor of mankind of such stature" that he would require "the humility of a saint" to inoculate himself against hubris. Fortunately, Muller was not given to arrogance. He described his great discovery as merely "a first foundation stone" in the "puzzling and apparently endless domain" of pest-borne plague. It had come as a surprise to him, he said modestly, to have discovered a chemical formula "so useful in the fight against diseases in human beings."

"Useful" hardly began to describe it. As Time magazine noted, Muller's chemical "kills the mosquitoes that carry malaria, the flies that carry cholera, the lice that carry typhus, the fleas that carry the plague, the sand flies that carry kalaazar and other tropical disease." Thanks to his discovery, "the tropics are becoming safer places to live; because of it, typhus" -- a deadly scourge long associated with wars and disaster -- "was no serious threat in World War II." The name of this miracle formula? Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane -- better known as DDT.

To anyone who grew up in the 1970s or 1980s, the notion that DDT was ever celebrated as a lifesaver might come as a shock. The very initials now seem sinister. Ever since Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" was published in 1962, DDT has been stigmatized as a terrible environmental poison, more curse than cure. In Carson's telling, DDT caused cancer and genetic damage in humans, and wreaked havoc not only on the insects it was intended to kill but on birds and other animals too. It was a poison that grew in concentration as it passed up the food chain, ultimately contaminating everything from eagles' eggs to mothers' milk. Carson recounted frightful tales of DDT's demonic power. "A housewife who abhorred spiders" sprayed her basement with DDT in August and September -- and was dead of "acute leukemia" by October. "A professional man who had his office in an old building" sprayed with DDT to get rid of cockroaches -- and landed in the hospital, hemorrhaging uncontrollably; eventually he too was dead of leukemia.

But in retrospect, such alarming anecdotes seem little more than urban legends. In the words of immunologist Amir Attaran, a fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, "The scientific literature does not contain even one peer-reviewed, independently replicated study linking DDT exposures to any adverse health outcome" in human beings. Yet if Carson's science was shaky, her influence was undeniable. "Silent Spring" galvanized the emerging environmental movement and fed a rising hysteria about pesticides and other chemicals. Within a decade, DDT had been banned in the United States. Eventually every industrialized nation stopped using it. Under pressure from Western environmentalists and governments, DDT was widely suppressed in the Third World as well.

The results were catastrophic.... Today, the global malaria caseload stands at more than 300 million. The disease kills well over 1 million victims yearly -- some estimates run as high as 2.7 million -- and the vast majority of its victims are children in Africa. "Such a toll is scarcely comprehensible," Attaran and several colleagues have written. "To visualize it, imagine filling seven Boeing 747s with children, and then crashing them -- every day."

The demonizing of DDT, albeit with the best of motives, ended up causing tens of millions of deaths from malaria. Rarely has the law of unintended consequences operated with such lethality.

Now, at long last, that may change. In a historic shift, the WHO last month reversed its 30-year-old ban, and strongly endorsed the indoor use of DDT to control the mosquitoes that spread malaria. (The use of DDT on crops, which Carson had linked to the thinning of bird eggs, remains prohibited.) The WHO emphasized that DDT presents no health risk when sparingly applied to the inside walls of homes. And it urged environmentalist diehards to abandon their opposition to a proven lifesaver. "I am here today to ask you, please help save African babies as you are helping to save the environment," implored Arata Kochi, director of the WHO's global malaria program. "African babies do not have a powerful movement ... to champion their well-being."

Sixty years after Paul Muller's great achievement was honored with a Nobel Prize, its potential may at long last be realized. A "silent spring" more hellish than anything Carson envisioned -- a million children dying needlessly every year -- may finally be coming to an end.



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

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

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


20 October, 2005


By: Prof. William M. Gray


I am a Professor Emeritus of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University where I have been employed since 1961. I have been performing meteorological research, teaching, and forecasting for the last 53 years. I have participated in many tropical field experiments over the last 50 years. These experiments were directed to the study of cumulus convection, condensation heating, evaporation cooling, sea-air energy-moisture exchange, hurricane formation, etc. These are topics of crucial importance to the physics of global temperature change. But they are not well understood by the human-induced global warming proponents. The incorrect handling of these moist processes is responsible for the major flaws in the human-induced global warming scenarios.

I hold MS and PhD degrees in meteorology and geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago. Few professors of atmospheric science have had a finer group of graduate students than I have over the last 40 years (50 MS graduates and 20 PhD graduates).

I am well known for my Atlantic basin seasonal hurricane forecasts of the last 23 years. Making public verified seasonal hurricane climate forecasts (2 to 6 times per year) for 23 years demonstrates, I believe, an in-depth knowledge of the atmosphere. My overall 53 years of experience in weather forecasting, atmospheric research, and teaching is, I believe, more than sufficient to justify the credibility of my comments on hurricanes and global warming. I am more than willing to discuss or debate with any of my critics provided there is an impartial moderator.

I have never had a grant from the fossil-fuel industry. I presently do not draw a salary. I live off of my retirement income. To support my small Colorado State University research project I presently have two quite modest research grants, one from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for hurricane research and the other from Lexington Insurance Company (Boston) for US hurricane landfall probability prediction.

My main motivation to continue my research is to help maintain the integrity of American science which, in my view, has been badly compromised by the global warming issue and now recently by the issue of global warming causing more frequent and more intense hurricanes. Having received federal support for my meteorological endeavors for over 50 years and having devoted my entire career to atmospheric science, I also feel I have an obligation to speak out on issues involving my expertise. I would feel guilty if I did not do so.



It is irresponsible to claim that the scientific debate on global warming is settled. A true scientific debate on this topic has not yet taken place. The debate that has occurred has been conducted largely by the media, the environmentalists, and the scientists receiving federal grant support to supply evidence of human involvement in global temperature rise. Most warming skeptics have been purposely ignored. Federal research funding for scientists skeptical of the human-induced global warming hypothesis has not been available.

Human-induced global warming scenarios have been in the headlines since the hot summer of 1988. These scenarios have been grossly exaggerated by a broad spectrum of scientists who know little about the processes of the atmospheric- hydrologic cycle and how the globe's atmosphere and oceans function in unison. It has been to their careers advantage to exaggerate human-induced global warming. They have received notoriety, career advancement, and research grants from their warming exaggerations.

Many of my older colleagues and I, who have invested decades of our lives in the study of how the atmosphere functions, have been appalled by the many alarmist statements issued by high-ranking government officials and prominent scientists who have little real understanding of how the atmosphere and ocean function. Their views have been shaped by selective sources, in particular the environmentalists and the large GCM groups, who have a vested interest in promoting the warming threat.

It is surprising that more experienced meteorologists and oceanographers have not spoken out about the reliability of the general circulation model simulations and the overly simplified arguments of the warming advocates. This may be partly due to the mild form of McCarthyism that has developed toward those scientists who do not agree that human-induced global warming is a great threat to society. Those holding contrary views have often been smeared as tools of the fossil-fuel industry, as if those warming advocates receiving large federal grants or grants from environmental groups were not also tools of the federal government or the environmental lobbyists. Our country has far more serious problems to worry about than human-induced global warming. Figure 17 shows the cover of Time Magazine almost 30 years ago when the majority of meteorologists and world governments were worried about and predicted a coming ice-age.


How Did We Get Into This Warming Hysteria?

We will probably have to wait a few decades for history to fully explain to us what really has been going on during the last 15-20 years and how human induced global warming was thrust before the world as such a major threat. How was it possible to 'brainwash' so many scientists, government officials, the general public, etc.? We likely can't put all the pieces together right now, but we already know enough to speculate on some of the reasons which are listed below in no particular order:

1. The winding down of the cold war and the perceived need to generate a new common enemy so as to keep the public willing to continue to support the large science efforts typical of our prior perceived need to keep ahead of the Soviets.

2. The banding together of an international group of sagacious government leaders, scientists, environmentalists, etc. who wanted a science-based political cause to unite behind. Global warming was an ideal vehicle for their desire to organize, propagandize, force conformity, and exercise political influence. Big world government could best lead (and control) us to a better world!

3. Natural causes of global climate change are not well understood. Who would be able to say with confidence that global warming was not human induced if you had no other physical mechanism to blame it on? Of course, many examples of temperature increase are going to be found during any warming trend. There has been a selective emphasis on observations of warming and a glossing over of data that shows no temperature change or cooling. The ignorance of other past historic events (Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age trends) and the many paleo-global warming-cooling events has also contributed.

4. The grant money desires of a broad spectrum of agriculturists, biologists, environmentalists, disease specialists, sociologists, weather and climate types, etc. New research missions to justify grant support needed to be found. The dangling of research funds is a powerful persuader. It didn't matter much if the globe warmed or not. What was necessary was to know what would happen if it did. Who among us would be stupid enough to criticize this 'need to know' if we could get grant support to study it.

5. The media's desire to profit from controversy of any type at the expense of critical evaluation. For instance, the surrender of media judgment by mouthing the verbatim views of almost any credentialed scientist out for notoriety, grant money, or who has a selective warming observation to show off. It makes for good press. Opposite examples of no climate change or cooling doesn't make news. Why discuss these examples?

6. It is interesting to note that most of the primary players in the international global warming crusade are credible and experienced scientists with well deserved reputations. Most of them, however, have had limited or no experience with real weather and climate studies and weather forecasting. They are being asked to make technical decisions on topics for which they have little or no background. They tend to believe what a selective set of politically motivated scientists tell them. But how are Nobel Prize winners in physics, chemistry, or medicine (as brilliant as they might be) able to make scientifically sensible statements on the possible association of rising level of CO2 and global warming? They are just responding to the similar upward-slope of these two curves.

7. The universally recognized momentous contributions to society of the computer and the growing belief that almost everything coming out of a computer is numerically correct and valid. But computer output is only as good as input, and most of the GCM modelers have not put all the right things in. Computers only allow for a bad model to be precisely wrong!

8. The last 40 years of continuous improvement in initial value global numerical weather prediction out to 5-10 days. This has been a great success story. It has led to the false belief among many scientists (most of whom are without forecast experience) that this same approach could be extended to the longer climate periods.

9. The great technical achievements in the computer industry led to the encouragement of never before held beliefs that skillful numerical climate models could actually be constructed that would be able to deal with the gross complexity and infinite chaos of the climate system. All you needed was bigger and better computers.

10. The lack of understanding of the complicated physics of the cumulus convection process of the tropics and higher latitudes. This led to the na
11. The take-up of the global warming cause by so many celebrities to demonstrate their social consciousness. Global warming was an 'IN' and fashionable cause among the elite. That they had absolutely no technical background to make such judgments did not matter.

12. The overall 'quietude' of the meteorological community - many of whom knew better. We are scientists and should be above all this media-hype and controversial political in-fighting? To paraphrase John Burke, "All that was required for the triumph of human-induced global warming was that a substantial number of those meteorologists who knew better said nothing."



Homeowners are being asked to spy on their neighbours and report them if they are not recycling, it emerged. A free telephone number has been set up by a council for residents to report anyone flouting strict rules on rubbish collection. Offenders will then be visited by a "recycling sheriff"' who will inspect their bins as part of the controversial scheme.

Last night the council officials were widely criticised for using tactics that will "turn neighbour against neighbour" and lead to families facing fines up to 2,500 pounds. The plan to get residents to report their neighbours was revealed after Teignbridge District Council distributed thousands of leaflets asking residents to look out for people who do not recycle correctly. Under the headline: "Wanted: People who can't recycle or won't recycle," it reads: "It is now easier than ever to recycle yet 30 per cent of residents still aren't!" "Do you know of someone in your road who is not doing their bit? Do you feel strongly enough about it to let us help them?" "Then contact us free on 0800 7310323 and a recycling sheriff will be there to assist."

The council says it has been forced to adopt the strategy to tackle residents who do not adhere to their complex four-bin recycling scheme. But there are fears the recycling "hotline" could lead to numerous prosecutions as well as prank calls from people who have disputes with their neighbours. One resident, who asked not to be named said: "It is a sneaky business to turn neighbour against neighbour - a dream come true for every curtain twitcher and busy-body." "The council should be ashamed of itself to use such underhand tactics."

The leaflet was distributed to thousands of homes in several Devon towns including Newton Abbot, Kingsteignton and Teignmouth where all homes have four bins each, consisting of separate containers for newspapers, glass, food waste and non-recyclable landfill. Last night a spokesman for the Liberal Democrat controlled council insisted the leaflet was not meant to be "sinister" or designed to seek prosecutions. She said: "The council just wanted to help people who were having difficulty getting to grips with recycling." "This is all about providing assistance to people who aren't sure about how to recycle, particularly the elderly."

News of the scheme emerged after one man made a personal protest against fortnightly rubbish collections. When bin men refused to collect John Chandler's rubbish yesterday he threw the bag in to the lorry himself. Mr Chandler, a mechanic, says he and his neighbours are fed up with mountains of bags left uncollected because of rules which restrict residents to one wheelie bin every two weeks. The 28-year-old father-of-one said: "It looks awful, you can always smell the rubbish when you're walking up the street." "Lots of people are upset about it. I've tried talking to the council but nothing has happened so I decided to take action." But the council claims that John is failing to recycle his waste properly and is threatening legal action against him for allegedly intimidating refuse collectors.

Last weekend the Daily Mail told how fortnightly rubbish collections are to be forced on millions of homeowners in a backdoor campaign." Town hall chiefs have been told to end weekly visits by the binmen in winter - so that the cold weather keeps down the smell and vermin. The hope is that by the summer, when the odours and rats return, it will be too late to bring back once-a-week collections. The guidance over fortnightly collections comes in the wake of concern over Government plans to slap extra taxes on rubbish. One in ten councils has started fitting wheelie bins with microchips which weigh rubbish so that householders can be billed by the kilo.


Nutty Greenie in Australia

When David Suzuki launched into an impassioned plea for Australia to combat climate change no one was safe yesterday, not even the chef who cooked his lunch. During his hour-long National Press Club address, the renowned environmentalist swore repeatedly -- despite his speech being broadcast live on ABC TV -- criticising everyone from John Howard to his own supporters in the audience for eating the salmon and rice. "You all sat here and chowed down on farmed salmon and obviously you don't give a s--- about what you're putting into your body," the 70-year-old bellowed.

Speakers and guests at the weekly press club address are fed. The award-winning Canadian ate his meal. "You know what a farmed salmon is, it's filled with toxic chemicals," he said. "I know Tasmanian salmon, those are not Tasmanian salmon. Those are Atlantic salmon that are brought and raised in cages in Tasmania."

Dr Suzuki said Australia was a disappointment to the world because it had not ratified the Kyoto protocol, a pact between industrialised nations to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 2012. He said as a result, Australia had no credibility as a "responsible global citizen". "I've always thought of Australia as caring about being responsible international citizens, and by rejecting Kyoto, Mr Howard declares that Australia is an international outlaw, not to be bound by these kinds of treaties the rest of the world agrees to."

Dr Suzuki said the global media was more interested in reporting on celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, Princess Diana, Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson, than climate change. He said if he abused the Prime Minister he would get better coverage. "If I were to say -- I'm not saying this, but if I were to say -- 'John Howard is an a---hole', I might even get a 10-inch column (in a newspaper)."

Dr Suzuki slammed Australia for allowing rice and cotton farming, and went on to condemn the Government's $350 million drought package for stricken farmers as an "ad hoc, knee-jerk" reaction. He went on to praise -- sarcastically -- Mr Howard for acknowledging global warming. "Mr Howard has now acknowledged that global warming is happening. Thank God, it's about time," Dr Suzuki said. "So 'boom', right away the solution is nuclear power. This guy ought to be booted out of office for that kind of approach to the problem, I mean, it's crazy."



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

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

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


19 October, 2006


One of the pillars of the greenhouse apocalypse is that global warming will lead to a higher frequency, intensity, duration, and spatial extent of droughts in the future. This prediction is fairly easy to understand in terms of basic physical principles. Higher temperatures will lead to higher rates of potential evapotranspiration (PE), so even if rainfall stays the same or even increases slightly, the increase in PE will make droughts worse, make them last longer, make them more frequent, and make them expand their spatial extent. To make the matter even scarier, many climate models predict a decrease in precipitation in continental interiors, so with less rainfall, higher temperatures, and higher PE rates, drought frequency, intensity, spatial extent, and duration may substantially increase in places like the American heartland.

Literally dozens of articles have appeared in the scientific literature showing results that lead to the prediction of increased drought conditions in the central United States. The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) states in the Summary for Policymakers that "Increased summer continental drying and associated risk of drought" is "Likely, over most mid-latitude continental interiors" during the 21st century. In terms of seeing such a pattern in the observed climate record in the 20th century, the IPCC concludes it is "Likely, in a few areas."

An important article appeared in the literature recently with some surprising results given the predictions of the climate models. Konstantinos Andreadis and Dennis Lettenmaier of the University of Washington have published a paper in Geophysical Research Letters entitled "Trends in 20th century drought over the continental United States," and the results are peculiar -in light of climate model projections- to say the least. In the abstract, they write "Droughts have, for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, and cover a small portion of the country over the last century."

Andreadis and Lettenmaier used a Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) model to simulate soil moisture and runoff over the continental United States; they ran the model at a spatial resolution of one-half degree and at a daily time step. The VIC solves energy and water balance equations over each grid cell, accounting for variability in soil (three layers of soil are considered), vegetation, precipitation, and topography. The model considers actual variations in precipitation, air temperature, and wind speed over the period 1925 to 2003 to calculate soil moisture and runoff. The team tested the VIC repeatedly and provided convincing evidence that the model very accurately simulates soil moisture and runoff.

Andreadis and Lettenmaier calculated trends in soil moisture and found that 1450 cells (43.6% of the domain) exhibit a statistically significant (p=0.05) upward trend, while far fewer (95 cells, or 2.9% of the domain) showed a statistically significant downward trend. They wrote "the wetting trends cover the majority of the country" and as seen in their figure below (Figure 1), the central United States is populated by "blue" grid cells indicating a significant increase in soil moisture. Furthermore, they found that "Annual trends in runoff are very similar to those found for soil moisture" and that "These results agree with previous studies that have suggested a general increase in streamflow over the conterminous U.S."

Andreadis and Lettenmaier next turned their attention to trends in drought duration, and they found that 47 cells (1.4% of the domain) had a significant upward trend indicating increased duration, while more than twice that many (102 or 3.1% of the domain) showed a significant decrease in duration. As seen in the map below (Figure 2), there is no widespread evidence of any increase in drought duration in the central United States. They computed trends in drought severity and found 121 cells (3.6% of the domain) with a significant upward trend but 198 cells (6.0% of the domain) had a significant downward trend. Next up was drought frequency, and Andreadis and Lettenmaier concluded "There is a predominant reduction in drought frequency for the eastern U.S. and Midwest". Finally, they looked at spatial extent of drought and found "Soil moisture (and runoff) drought spatial extent showed a downward trend which however was insignificant for all thresholds."

So in a world in which numerical models of climate are predicting increased drought frequency, intensity, duration, and spatial extent for the central United States given the ongoing buildup of greenhouse gases, Andreadis and Lettenmaier examine trends in drought over the period 1925 to 2003 and found that "droughts have, for the most part, become shorter, less frequent, less severe, and cover a smaller portion of the country."


Decorated scientist defects from the church of Global Warming

Capping Year of Vindication for Skeptics

One of the most decorated French geophysicists has converted from a believer in manmade catastrophic global warming to a climate skeptic. This latest defector from the global warming camp caps a year in which numerous scientific studies have bolstered the claims of climate skeptics. Scientific studies that debunk the dire predictions of human-caused global warming have continued to accumulate and many believe the new science is shattering the media-promoted scientific "consensus" on climate alarmism.

Claude Allegre, a former government official and an active member of France's Socialist Party, wrote an editorial on September 21, 2006 in the French newspaper L'Express titled "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" detailing his newfound skepticism about manmade global warming. See here. Allegre wrote that the "cause of climate change remains unknown" and pointed out that Kilimanjaro is not losing snow due to global warming, but to local land use and precipitation changes. Allegre also pointed out that studies show that Antarctic snowfall rate has been stable over the past 30 years and the continent is actually gaining ice.

"Following the month of August experienced by the northern half of France, the prophets of doom of global warming will have a lot on their plate in order to make our fellow countrymen swallow their certitudes," Allegre wrote. He also accused proponents of manmade catastrophic global warming of being motivated by money, noting that "the ecology of helpless protesting has become a very lucrative business for some people!"

Allegre, a member of both the French and U.S. Academy of Sciences, had previously expressed concern about manmade global warming. "By burning fossil fuels, man enhanced the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which has raised the global mean temperature by half a degree in the last century," Allegre wrote 20 years ago. In addition, Allegre was one of 1500 scientists who signed a November 18, 1992 letter titled "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity" in which the scientists warned that global warming's "potential risks are very great." See here

Allegre has authored more than 100 scientific articles, written 11 books and received numerous scientific awards including the Goldschmidt Medal from the Geochemical Society of the United States.

Allegre's conversion to a climate skeptic comes at a time when global warming alarmists have insisted that there is a "consensus" about manmade global warming. Proponents of global warming have ratcheted up the level of rhetoric on climate skeptics recently. An environmental magazine in September called for Nuremberg-style trials for global warming skeptics and CBS News "60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley compared skeptics to "Holocaust deniers." See: here & here. In addition, former Vice President Al Gore has repeatedly referred to skeptics as "global warming deniers."

This increase in rhetorical flourish comes at a time when new climate science research continues to unravel the global warming alarmists' computer model predictions of future climatic doom and vindicate skeptics. Earlier this year, a group of prominent scientists came forward to question the so-called "consensus" that the Earth faces a "climate emergency." On April 6, 2006, 60 scientists wrote a letter to the Canadian Prime Minister asserting that the science is deteriorating from underneath global warming alarmists.

"Observational evidence does not support today's computer climate models, so there is little reason to trust model predictions of the future.Significant [scientific] advances have been made since the [Kyoto] protocol was created, many of which are taking us away from a concern about increasing greenhouse gases. If, back in the mid-1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary," the 60 scientists wrote. See here

"It was only 30 years ago that many of today's global-warming alarmists were telling us that the world was in the midst of a global-cooling catastrophe. But the science continued to evolve, and still does, even though so many choose to ignore it when it does not fit with predetermined political agendas," the 60 scientists concluded.

In addition, an October 16, 2006 Washington Post article titled "Climate Change is Nothing New" echoed the sentiments of the 60 scientists as it detailed a new study of the earth's climate history. The Washington Post article by reporter Christopher Lee noted that Indiana University geologist Simon Brassell found climate change occurred during the age of dinosaurs and quoted Brassell questioning the accuracy of computer climate model predictions. "If there are big, inherent fluctuations in the system, as paleoclimate studies are showing, it could make determining the Earth's climatic future even harder than it is," Brassell said. See here.

In August, Khabibullo Abdusamatov, a scientist who heads the space research sector for the Russian Academy of Sciences, predicted long-term global cooling may be on the horizon due to a projected decrease in the sun's output. See: here

There have also been recent findings in peer-reviewed literature over the last few years showing that the Antarctic is getting colder and the ice is growing and a new 2006 study in Geophysical Research Letters found that the sun was responsible for up to 50% of 20th-century warming. See here.

Paleoclimate scientist Bob Carter has noted that there is indeed a problem with global warming - it stopped in 1998. "According to official temperature records of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the UK, the global average temperature did not increase between 1998-2005. ".this eight-year period of temperature stasis did coincide with society's continued power station and SUV-inspired pumping of yet more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere," noted paleoclimate researcher and geologist Bob Carter of James Cook University in Australia in an April 2006 article titled "There is a problem with global warming... it stopped in 1998." See here

In addition, new NASA satellite tropospheric temperature data reveals that the Southern Hemisphere has not warmed in the past 25 years contrary to "global warming theory" and modeling. This new Southern Hemisphere data raises the specter that the use of the word "global" in "global warming" may not be accurate. A more apt moniker for the past 25 years may be "Northern Hemisphere" warming. See here

According to data released on July 14, 2006 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the January through June Alaska statewide average temperature was "0.55F (0.30C) cooler than the 1971-2000 average." See here

Another bombshell to hit the global warming alarmists and their speculative climate modeling came in a September article in the Geophysical Research Letters which found that over 20% of the heat gained in the oceans since the mid-1950s was lost in just two years. The former climatologist for the state of Colorado, Roger Pielke, Sr., noted that the sudden cooling of the oceans "certainly indicates that the multi-decadal global climate models have serious issues with their ability to accurately simulate the response of the climate system to human- and natural-climate forcings." See here.

Despite predictions that 2006 would bring numerous tropical storms, 2006's surprisingly light hurricane season and the record early start of this year's winter in many parts of the U.S. have further put a damper on the constant doomsaying of the global warming alarmists and their media allies.

Other new studies have debunked many of the dubious claims made by the global warming alarmists. For example, the claim that droughts would be more frequent, severe and wide ranging during global warming, has now being exposed as fallacious. A new paper in Geophysical Research Letters authored by Konstantinos Andreadis and Dennis Lettenmaier finds droughts in the U.S. becoming "shorter, less frequent and cover a small portion of the country over the last century." See here

Furthermore, recent research has shown that fears that global warming could lead to the next ice age, as promoted in the 2004 Hollywood movie "The Day After Tomorrow" are also unsupportable. A 2005 media hyped study "claimed to have found a 30 percent slowdown in the thermohaline circulation, the results are published in the very prestigious Nature magazine, and the story was carried breathlessly by the media in outlets around the world.Less than a year later, two different research teams present convincing evidence [ in Geophysical Research Letters ] that no slowdown is occurring whatsoever," according to Virginia State Climatologist Patrick Michaels, editor of the website World Climate Report. See here

The "Hockey Stick" temperature graph's claim that the 1990's was the hottest decade of the last 1000 years was found to be unsupportable by the National Academy of Sciences and many independent experts in 2006. See here

A 2005 study by a scientist named Ola Johannessen and his colleagues showed that the interior of Greenland is gaining ice mass. See here. Also, according to the International Arctic Research Institute, despite all of the media hype, the Arctic was warmer in the 1930's than today.

Despite Time Magazine and the rest of the media's unfounded hype, polar bears are not facing a crisis, according to biologist Dr. Mitchell Taylor from the Arctic government of Nunavut. "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," Taylor wrote on May 1, 2006. See here

As all of this new data debunking climate alarmism mounts, the mainstream media chooses to ignore it and instead focus on the dire predictions of the number-one global warming media darling, NASA's James Hansen. The increasingly alarmist Hansen is featured frequently in the media to bolster sky-is-falling climate scare reports. His recent claim that the Earth is nearing its hottest point in one million years has been challenged by many scientists. See here. Hansen's increasingly frightening climate predictions follow his 2003 concession that the use of "extreme scenarios" was an appropriate tactic to drive the public's attention to the urgency of global warming. See here Hansen also received a $250,000 grant form Teresa Heinz's Foundation and then subsequently endorsed her husband John Kerry for President and worked closely with Al Gore to promote his movie, "An Inconvenient Truth." See here & here

The global warming alarmists may have significantly overplayed their hand in the climate debate. A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll this August found that most Americans do not attribute the cause of any recent severe weather events to global warming, and the portion of Americans who believe that climate change is due to natural variability has increased over 50% in the last five years.

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, commented last week on the media's unfounded global warming hype and some of the recent scientific research that is shattering the so-called "consensus" that human greenhouse gas emissions have doomed the planet. "The American people are fed up with media for promoting the idea that former Vice President Al Gore represents the scientific `consensus' that SUV's and the modern American way of life have somehow created a `climate emergency' that only United Nations bureaucrats and wealthy Hollywood liberals can solve. It is the publicity and grant seeking global warming alarmists and their advocates in the media who have finally realized that the only "emergency" confronting them is their rapidly crumbling credibility, audience and bottom line. The global warming alarmists know their science is speculative at best and their desperation grows each day as it becomes more and more obvious that many of the nations that ratified the woeful Kyoto Protocol are failing to comply," Senator Inhofe said last week. See here. "The mainstream media needs to follow the money: The further you get from scientists who conduct these alarmist global warming studies, and the further you get from the financial grants and the institutions that they serve the more the climate alarmism fades and the skepticism grows," Senator Inhofe explained.

In a speech on the Senate floor on September 25, 2006, Senator Inhofe pointed out the abject failure of past predictions of ecological disaster made by environmental alarmists. "The history of the modern environmental movement is chock-full of predictions of doom that never came true. We have all heard the dire predictions about the threat of overpopulation, resource scarcity, mass starvation, and the projected death of our oceans. None of these predictions came true, yet it never stopped the doomsayers from continuing to predict a dire environmental future. The more the eco-doomsayers' predictions fail, the more the eco-doomsayers predict," Senator Inhofe said on September 25th. See here.



Al Gore's recent visits to Australia and Scandinavia to publicise the launch of his movie, An Uncertain Truth, jollied up - but regrettably did not materially illuminate - public discussion of the global warming issue. Mr Gore arrived in Scandinavia, by chance, at the same time that a technical meeting on climate change was in progress in Sweden. The science discussed at the meeting did nothing to reinforce the apocalyptic climate message contained in Mr Gore's film, but rather mostly directly contradicted it.

Given that fact, and given that the timing was just a few days before a general election, the lack of coverage of the climate meeting in the Swedish media - which virtually ignored it - was astounding. And especially so because public statements at the time by the president of the European Union Council, Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, stressed that preventing global warming remained of the highest priority for the member states of the union. Mr Vanhanen and his advisors, not to mention Swedish politicians of all stripes, obviously remain innocent of knowledge of the real facts regarding human-caused climate change, such as were presented to the Stockholm conference.

Held at KTH, Sweden's leading science and technology university, and hosted by its president, physicist Professor Anders Flodstr"m, the September 11-12 meeting was entitled "Climate Change - Scientific Controversies in Climate Variability". An audience of about 120 persons from 14 countries heard a much more balanced account of climate change science than is presented to viewers of Mr Gore's film.

For conference organiser, Professor Peter Stilbs, had taken care to invite speakers with a diverse range of views, including people who argue that adaptation to the dangers of natural climate change (which include especially the threat of cooling) is the key issue, as well as supporters of the view that dangerous human warming is already upon us and that no expense should be spared in its mitigation.

Those on the "global warming is dangerous" side of the argument included Professor Bert Bolin, first chairman of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In an extraordinary outburst against a speaker discussing the carbon cycle, Professor Bolin suggested that the speaker might improve his knowledge if he consulted a textbook, and threatened to withdraw from the meeting if critical discussion continued. Happily, the other participants were undeterred by this intolerant disruption, and, after listening to some further comments by Professor Bolin, the meeting continued in constructive vein.

Leading climate modellers Professors Hans von Storch and Lennart Bengtsson described the attribution studies that the IPCC uses to recognise the "fingerprint" of human-caused warming. That such models can mimic the elapsed temperature curve over the past 100 years does not constitute "evidence" for human-caused global warming, but rather indicates only that - given enough degrees of freedom - even the most complex natural time series can be model-matched. Also, many of the models omit such well-known climate forcings as solar change. At any rate, few at the meeting seemed convinced that even the latest and best climate models possessed significant predictive or unique attribution skill.

Former research director of the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Professor Sten Bergstrom, described the many vicissitudes of recent natural climate change in Sweden, which have included the presence of a covering of ice more than one kilometre thick over much of the country as little as 20,000 years ago. Commenting about the difficulty of distinguishing possible human-caused changes from natural variability, his conclusion that "the main problem is adaptation to today's climate" resonated strongly with many in the audience.

Many other feet-on-the-ground science results were discussed at the meeting. For instance, the remarkable fact that global average temperature has been static since 1998 despite increasing carbon dioxide emissions. And that the short period of late 20th century warming of about 0.4 deg C that preceded this stasis took place at a rate, and to a magnitude, that lies within natural climate variability. Previous claims to the contrary, including those of the IPCC, were based largely on "hockey stick" or "spaghetti diagram" statistical depictions of climate history that are now scientifically discredited, as explained to the meeting with elan by Canadian mathematician Steve McIntyre.

Several presentations contributed to a strong impression that the global carbon cycle is inadequately understood to determine whether all the significant sources, sinks and flows of greenhouse gases are known with the accuracy needed to assess human causation. For example, in 2006 alone a new source - trees - and a new sink - desert sand grains (as described at the KTH meeting for the first time by Dr Peter Stakalos) - have been identified for methane. Though neither of these mechanisms is particularly large, their discovery reinforces the important general principle that we have many things yet to learn about climate processes.

Because Scandinavian countries have a particular interest in the climate events that are affecting the nearby Arctic polar region, the Stockholm conference received a detailed briefing on the recent warming that has occurred there. This was provided by Professor Erland Kallen, director of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, who noted that the late 20th century Arctic warming does not exceed earlier natural warmings in magnitude, such as the one that peaked in the 1930s. Therefore, and despite all the public alarmism that surrounds it, the recent warming may have an entirely natural cause.

What overall conclusions, then, can be drawn from the Stockholm meeting? From the papers presented, as indeed from Mr Gore's film, it is clear that the alarmist case for dangerous global warming rests on circumstantial evidence, unsubstantiated computer models and green political activism. It is therefore premature to conclude, as member countries of the EEC and other Kyoto signatories have, that modern industrial carbon dioxide emissions pose a grave hazard to the planet. It is entirely likely instead that any mild warming that may be produced by the emissions will serve as a useful counterbalance to the future climatic coolings that are bound to develop. In which regard, scientists from the Russian Academy of Science have recently issued a warning that they foresee just such a cooling over the next two decades.

But there is also an important political conclusion to be drawn from the Stockholm climate meeting. It is that carbon taxes and other measures based upon the supposition that dangerous human-caused global warming is underway are quite unable to be justified from the scientific evidence presently to hand. And this conclusion stands even should the precautionary principle be invoked, because our knowledge of natural climate change tells us that future climatic cooling remains at least as strong a hazard as was the late 20th century phase of warming.

The Swedish public might ponder why it was that such an important conference as "Scientific Controversies in Climate Variability" was allowed to pass unremarked by a local media which at the same time gave prominence to the movie An Inconvenient Truth, and that during the run up to what proved to be an historic election. In contrast, Australians and Americans have every reason to be thankful that their governments - in eschewing the Kyoto accord and encouraging the development of the Asia-Pacific Climate agreement - have put the interests of their citizens ahead of Mr Gore's speculative do-goodery towards expensive and ineffectual climate mitigation measures.



And climate unpredictability as well! Very subversive! See the article below:

Study Links Extinction Cycles to Changes in Earth's Orbit and Tilt

If rodents in Spain are any guide, periodic changes in Earth's orbit may account for the apparent regularity with which new species of mammals emerge and then go extinct, scientists are reporting today.

It so happens, the paleontologists say, that variations in the course Earth travels around the Sun and in the tilt of its axis are associated with episodes of global cooling. Their new research on the fossil record shows that the cyclical pattern of these phenomena corresponds to species turnover in rodents and probably other mammal groups as well.

In a report appearing today in the journal Nature, Dutch and Spanish scientists led by Jan A. van Dam of Utrecht University in the Netherlands say the "astronomical hypothesis for species turnover provides a crucial missing piece in the puzzle of mammal species- and genus-level evolution."

In addition, the researchers write, the hypothesis "offers a plausible explanation for the characteristic duration of more or less 2.5 million years of the mean species life span in mammals."

Dr. van Dam and his colleagues studied the fossil record of rats, mice and other rodents over the last 22 million years in central Spain. The fossils are numerous and show a largely uninterrupted record of the rise and fall of individual species. Other scientists say rodents, thanks to their large numbers, are commonly used in studies of such evolutionary transitions.

As the scientists pored over some 80,000 isolated molars, the most distinct markers of different species, the patterns of turnovers emerged. They seemed often to occur in clusters, which seemed unrelated to biology. And they occurred in cycles of about 2.5 million and 1 million years.

The longer-term cycle, the scientists determined, peaks when Earth's orbit is closer to being a perfect circle. The short cycle corresponds to shifts in the tilt of Earth's axis. The "pulses of turnover," the scientists determined, occurred mainly at times when the different cycles left Earth a colder world.

Previous studies have invoked climate change to explain mammalian species turnover, but they have been challenged or only partly supported by other research.

Paleontologists and mammal experts not involved in the research said the findings and interpretations were provocative and likely to inspire other investigations. One objective, they said, was to extend the study to small mammals beyond Spain, preferably to other continents.

"It's very intriguing," said John J. Flynn, a paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. "But this will be controversial. Any time you invoke periodic and external forces to explain patterns in biology and climate, it stirs up controversy."

Dr. Flynn said some recent research had led other scientists to conclude that there was no strong correlation between climate changes and species turnover.

While scientists go off looking for fossil rodents outside Spain, there is no apparent cause for concern that another species turnover is nigh.

Dr. van Dam said the 2.5-million-year cycle "has entered the critical stage corresponding to a relatively circular orbit." But any period of high turnover may be tens of thousands of years away, he said. And it may be good news for both mice and men that the climate system has changed significantly in the last three million years.

Ever since the establishment of the northern ice cap, Dr. van Dam said, the climate system has been reacting differently, as reflected in the succession of ice ages. "So it is not easy to predict what the 2.5-million-year cycle will do," he 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 Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


18 October, 2006


Amazing media bias

You may remember a major study regarding the greenhouse debate that surfaced last Christmas season. Harry Bryden and two associates at the UK's National Oceanography Centre had analyzed five decades of data regarding the ocean circulation of the North Atlantic. They concluded in Nature magazine that "The comparison suggests that the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation has slowed by about 30 percent between 1957 and 2004." The greenhouse crusade went wild, the media produced widespread coverage of Bryden's findings, and the public was warned that the oceanic response to the build up of greenhouse gases could produce catastrophic results, particularly for European countries.

The story was straight out of "The Day After Tomorrow." We were all told that the meridional circulation of the Atlantic carries warm upper waters into the mid-to-high latitudes and returns cold deep water southward across the Equator. We all learned about the "thermohaline circulation" that is a critical component in the energy balance of the earth-atmosphere system. The Bryden et al. findings could only heighten fears that human activities were having a profound impact on air-sea interactions, and if you recall, this could only lead to climate disasters - the entire story was straight out of a movie set.

We at World Climate Report were skeptical and questioned immediately why a 30 percent reduction in the thermohaline circulation had not produced noticeable cooling effects in Europe, after all, a complete shutdown of the circulation is expected to cause a cooling of 4oC in Europe, according to some computer models. We pointed out that the literature on ocean circulation contained evidence that the thermohaline circulation may be strengthening, exactly opposite what Bryden et al. claimed to have found.

Well, the issue has surfaced again with the recent publication of two important papers in Geophysical Research Letters. The first article is by Christopher Meinen and two associates at the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami. They measured the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) from September 2004 through September 2005 using a line of inverted echo sounders, bottom pressure sensors, and a deep current meter east of Abaco Island, Bahamas, at 26.5o N. Their "picket fence" allowed them to measure the transport of water in millions of cubic meters per second (Sv) over that time period. Meinen et al. concluded in their last sentence "The 1-year-mean southward transport of 39 Sv is statistically indistinguishable from the 40 Sv estimate obtained at the same location by current meter mooring arrays in the late 1980s and early 1990s." There was no evidence whatsoever of any 30 percent reduction in the strength of the thermohaline circulation.

German scientist Friedrich Schott along with three other countrymen also published a paper on this issue in Geophysical Research Letters. They measured the Deep Western Boundary Current east of the Grand Banks over the period 1999-2005 by moored current-meter stations and shipboard current profiling sections. They compared their observations with the data collected in the same area in 1993-1995. They conclude that "Although the water mass characteristics show interannual to decadal variations at those locations," "there is no sign of any MOC 'slowdown' trend over the past decade, contrary to some recent suggestions [Bryden et al., 2005]."

Here we see the greenhouse debate in a nutshell. Bryden claimed to have found a 30 percent slowdown in the thermohaline circulation, the results are published in the very prestigious Nature magazine, and the story was carried breathlessly by the media in outlets around the world. "The sky is falling" does make for an interesting story after all, and there is no question that a 30 percent slowdown in the thermohaline circulation would be a major geophysical trend. Less than a year later, two different research teams present convincing evidence that no slowdown is occurring whatsoever. Of course, their research is published in Geophysical Research Letters with no media coverage at all.



Global warming is a religion, not science. That's why acolytes in the media attack global-warming critics, not with scientific arguments, but for their apostasy. Then they laud global-warming believers, not for reducing greenhouse gases, but simply for believing global warming is a coming catastrophe caused by man. The important thing is to have faith in those who warn: The End Is Near. So a New York Times editorial Thursday took after Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., not for being a Doubting Thomas, but as the headline read, a "Doubting Inhofe." The brunt of the editorial was not a scientific refutation of Inhofe's arguments against the global-warming craze -- other than to cite a National Academy of Sciences report that warned that the Earth is approaching the warmest temperatures in 12,000 years -- a short blip in time to your average geologist.

The Times' focus was on Inhofe's refusal to bow to "the consensus among mainstream scientists and the governments of nearly every industrialized nation concerning manmade climate change." That is, Inhofe has had the effrontery to challenge elite orthodoxy. Or, as the editorial put it, Inhofe "has really buttressed himself with the will to disbelieve." Get thee away, Satan.

"I see a sense of desperation that I haven't seen before," Inhofe told me by phone Thursday, "and frankly I'm enjoying it."

CNN's Miles O'Brien also challenged Inhofe in a similar vein. O'Brien cited the NAS study, then assailed Inhofe with quotes from notable Republicans -- President Bush, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut -- who recognize global warming. Note that Schwarzenegger gets into global-warming heaven just for believing, despite his four Hummers and use of a private jet.

Global warming even has a martyr, NASA scientist James Hansen, who told O'Brien in January that under the Bushies, "you're not free to speak your own mind." It's amazing that a scientist can complain the he is being muzzled -- while appearing on CNN and "60 Minutes." Be it noted that Hansen endorsed Sen. John Kerry for president in 2004 and received a $250,000 award from a foundation run by Teresa Heinz Kerry in 2001. At the time, Hansen told the New York Times, the award had "no impact on my evaluation of the climate problem or on my political leanings." I believe that. I also believe we should all be so muzzled.

What does Inhofe make of the NAS finding? Inhofe recognizes that the Earth is warming, but sees this as part of the natural cycle. Inhofe mentioned the Medieval Warm Period -- 1000 to 1270 A.D. when the Vikings grew crops in Greenland. So he doesn't buy this 12,000-year high. His office referred me to a piece University of Oklahoma geology professor David Deming penned for the Normal Transcript that noted, "The fact that the thermometer wasn't invented until the year 1714 ought to give us pause when evaluating this remarkable claim."

I remain agnostic on global warming, as I've seen good arguments on both sides. I know, however, that I never will be convinced that global warming is a scientific threat as long as believers put most of their energy into establishing orthodoxy and denying that reputable global-warming skeptics exist. The Times' "mainstream scientists" line undermines the editorial's credibility as it ignores the likes of MIT climate scientist Richard S. Lindzen, who argues that clouds and water vapor will counteract greenhouse-gas emissions. Ditto the 60 Canadian scientists who wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper that there is no " 'consensus' among climate scientists."

Let me add the Copenhagen Consensus, a group of Nobel Prize-winning scientists and economists that looks at the best way to spend a hypothetical $50 billion to benefit mankind, rated fighting global warming as a "bad" use of money. That's amazing, when you consider the pressure that is put upon scientists to conform. "Consensus" is another word for clique science. The good people are true believers, the bad people exhibit a "will to disbelieve." Editors used to salute healthy skepticism. Now some are global-warming Torquemadas. [Tomas de Torquemada was a leading figure in the Spanish Inquisition]


Asbestos: The BBC loves a Greenie scam

Imagine that a very experienced, knowledgeable and brave whistleblower sets out to expose a commercial racket that is ripping off businesses and members of the public to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds a year, and which a government agency, despite being supplied with factual evidence, does nothing to stop. If a leading BBC "consumer affairs" programme learned about this story, might one not expect it to throw all its resources into exposing the racket?

It might seem odd that, using evidence supplied by the very people who are behind the scam, the BBC would instead pull out all the stops to discredit the whistleblower. Yet such is the bizarre situation that will arise this Wednesday, when Radio Four's You and Yours programme attempts to sabotage the four-year campaign waged by Prof John Bridle, Britain's leading practical asbestos expert, to expose the malpractices of many firms in the asbestos industry. This column has supported Bridle's crusade since 2002, when the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) proposed new asbestos regulations that, on its own original figures, would cost 8 billion pounds. Introduced to me by the Federation of Small Businesses, Bridle explained how these regulations were so seriously flawed that they would open the door to shameless exploitation by many of the firms to which the HSE gave the exclusive right to handle asbestos.

When I checked this out with some of the leading asbestos scientists in this country, they not only endorsed what he was saying but said they were enthusiastically behind his campaign. Such support did it win from members of the public, not least readers of this column, that Bridle set up Asbestos Watchdog, a company dedicated to giving honest advice to the ever larger number of people who were victims of the racket.

So powerful was Bridle's case that Asbestos Watchdog was given the HSE's official support, and on November 26 2004 was appointed by Bill Macdonald, the HSE's head of asbestos policy, as an official "stakeholder" to advise on policy. One leading asbestos company was so alarmed by the practices rife in the industry that it even gave Asbestos Watchdog significant financial backing.

But so vast were the sums now at stake that there have recently been clear signs of a concerted move by the powerful "anti-asbestos lobby" to silence Bridle. One of their greatest successes to date has been winning the support of the You and Yours team. Fortunately, the programme has informed him of 18 of the charges they plan to throw at him, all of which have been levelled before by different branches of the anti-asbestos lobby. It is hard to believe that the BBC will be so reckless as to repeat them (when he offered documentary evidence to refute their charges, one journalist said they were so confident they were right that this was not necessary).

Some charges are laughable, such as that Bridle falsely claims to have been made in 2005 an honorary professor of the prestigious Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. Confirmed by the academy's official certificate, this was widely reported in Russia at the time as the first occasion on which anyone had been so honoured.

The BBC charges him with falsely claiming to have advised the Conservative Party leadership. Yet in 2002 when, after a briefing from Bridle, Iain Duncan Smith, then the party's leader, wrote to the Government asking for the regulations to be delayed until they could be debated by Parliament, Bridle (and I) gave extensive written and verbal briefings to John Bercow, the front-bench Tory spokesman who led the debate, as You and Yours could have confirmed by consulting Hansard.

The BBC denies that Asbestos Watchdog, much to the rage of the asbestos industry, has saved businesses and homeowners tens of millions of pounds by advising how asbestos work could legally and safely be carried out for a fraction of the sums they had been quoted by contractors, as I have reported here (not least because many of the beneficiaries were readers of The Sunday Telegraph). The BBC did not even want to look at the evidence.

The central point on which the whole asbestos scam rests, as You and Yours seems unable to grasp, is the confusion, now made worse by some very bad law, between two completely different minerals, both passing under the general but unscientific term "asbestos". One includes the genuinely dangerous blue and brown forms (amphiboles with sharp metallic fibres that, remaining in the lungs, can cause cancer). The other, very much commoner, "white asbestos" (chrysotile, the soft silky fibres of which dissolve in the lungs within 15 days) is usually encapsulated in cement or textured coatings, from which it is virtually impossible to extract a single fibre. Yet it is on the sleight of hand allowing the dangers of one mineral to be attributed to the other that huge sums of money are now being made by those who play on public fear and ignorance, a commercial racket the HSE does nothing to stop.

Itself a victim of this confusion, the BBC seems desperate to pin on Bridle the damning charge that he claims that "white asbestos is harmless". Yet he is always scrupulously careful to cite the most comprehensive review yet conducted of the scientific literature (Hoskins and Lange 2004) as showing that white cement products pose "no measurable risk to health". Instead of falling for such distortions and untruths, the BBC team should be asking why they plan to give credence to the most disgraceful commercial racket flourishing in Britain today.


Nuclear power coming to Australia

The cartoon refers to the deep divisions among Australia's Left about nuclear power

Prime Minister John Howard has given his strongest support yet to the use of nuclear power in Australia, backing the local development of the "clean" energy industry. An expert taskforce is due to release a draft report next month on the merits of nuclear power and whether Australia should be thinking of value-adding options, such as enrichment, for its vast uranium stores. But before the experts have even had their say, Mr Howard has indicated he believes nuclear power is an industry Australia should be developing. Mr Howard has previously suggested nuclear power was something Australia should consider if economically viable.

"I'm in favour of Australia developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes," he told the Nine Network. "It's clean and green and, in an age where we're worried about global warming, we should be looking seriously at nuclear power as an option because it's clean and it doesn't emit greenhouse gases. "I can't understand why the extreme greenies oppose it."

Mr Howard's one-time adversary, former prime minister Paul Keating, sees the issue completely differently. "Nuclear energy is a bad fuel, a dirty fuel, a dangerous fuel," he told Sky News. "Nuclear is a no-no generally in my opinion - it is a bad business." Instead Mr Keating would prefer to focus on alternative strategies to reduce Australia's reliance on fossil fuels, options such as hybrid cars and hydrogen fuel cells.

Labor has pledged there will be no nuclear power if it wins government, but it does plan to re-examine its policy of no new uranium mines at its national conference next year. Opposition Leader Kim Beazley wants the policy changed but faces a difficult job convincing some sections of Labor that it is the way to go. Mr Keating thinks a change in the Labor policy would be a mistake. "I think I would stay with the existing policy," he said. "This is not a good industry to encourage, and anyone that has an electricity program, ipso-facto ends up with a nuclear weapons capability."



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

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

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


17 October 2006


On public lands, Greenies prevent reforestation after fires

On one side of the property line, a new forest is taking root -- a glassy-green sea of waist-high pine planted by a timber company after a massive wildfire swept through six years ago. On the other side, on public land managed by the Lassen National Forest, dense mats of brush cling to a landscape dominated by charred dead trees, some standing, others not. "Nobody on the Lassen is proud of that land line," said Duane Nelson, who manages reforestation for the Forest Service in California. "We actually refer to it as our wall of shame."

Reforestation -- the planting and natural regeneration of trees -- is the most critical part of forest management. But across the West, vast parcels of Forest Service land scorched by increasingly catastrophic wildfires have not been replanted. The consequences may linger for centuries. Imagine a Sierra Nevada that yields not gin-clear snowmelt but coffee-colored torrents from eroding canyons. Imagine shrub fields that stretch for miles, so dense that even birds and backpackers avoid them. That is the future Doug Leisz -- a former associate chief for the Forest Service -- envisions unless the agency replants more quickly. "It's an extremely serious matter," said Leisz, 80, who lives near Placerville. "Our forests are too precious to lose this way."

Large fires across the West since 2000 have sparked enormous concern in Congress, state legislatures and forest communities. They have led to huge new investments in firefighting and prevention. But far fewer dollars have been routed to the tricky business that follows a fire: getting the trees growing again. The scope of the challenge can be viewed not only from lonesome backcountry roads, but also in a handful of government reports, including three by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Among their findings:

* While the Forest Service spends 40 percent of its $4.5 billion budget on fire, only a tiny fraction -- about one percent -- goes toward reforestation.

* As wildfire's footprint grows -- this year a record 9 million acres have burned -- the agency's reforestation backlog grows, too. In 2004, the most recent year for which data is available, 900,000 acres of Forest Service terrain slated for planting was left unplanted, up from 722,000 in 2000.

* Even where trees are planted, the agency often has no money to care for them. As a result, young stands grow into shadowy thickets where dead limbs dangle like wicks into brush -- an invitation to more fire. Nationwide, 2 million acres of planted ground need thinning, an area three times the size of Yosemite National Park.

"I'm disappointed. I'm saddened. I'm frustrated," said Gil Driscoll, a retired mechanical engineer who lives near one overcrowded plantation in the Plumas National Forest. This is not the first time the Forest Service has faced a reforestation backlog. In the '70s, an even bigger swath of land -- about 3 million acres -- needed replanting, largely because of logging. Pressured by Congress, the Forest Service chipped away at that backlog, paying the bill not with tax dollars but with money made from selling timber. Much of the backlog evaporated.

In those days, "reforestation could be planned and scheduled," Joel Holstrop, deputy chief of the Forest Service, told Congress last year. "Much of this predictability is lost when the principal causal agent creating reforestation needs" is wildfire. And wildfire -- fed by a massive buildup of woody debris, the legacy of a century of firefighting -- is gobbling up more terrain than ever, and burning in destructive ways. Big, old, seed-producing pines that have weathered fire for centuries are dying in today's super-novas. Making things worse, the timber industry dollars that paid for reforestation in the past have diminished as environmental lawsuits throttle the sale of Forest Service timber. The upshot: Forest Service terrain that needs replanting is growing rapidly, but money for reforestation is not. "This is a swing back to the dark side," said Leisz, the retired Forest Service associate chief. "The backlog is getting bigger. It's growing like a cancer."....

Yet there are few better places to see the consequences of the agency's failure to replant than in the expanse of brush and charred timber in the upper reaches of the Feather River, where the Storrie fire blackened 56,000 acres in 2000. Obstacles to reforestation were numerous. Money was tight. In the Lassen National Forest, where 27,000 acres had burned, 21,000 acres were set aside as a natural area. They could not be touched. But Lassen officials determined that 1,100 acres could be replanted and planned to pay for it by logging trees killed in the blaze. So began more than a year of planning -- required by the National Environmental Policy Act and other laws. Then, in 2002, five environmental groups appealed, alleging the Storrie restoration project would hurt the area by damaging water quality and spotted owl habitat.

"There is no evidence ... that sensitive species will not be further fragmented and that (habitat) connectivity will not be compromised by this plan," wrote Patricia Puterbaugh of the Lassen Forest Preservation Group, in one of the appeals. In August 2002, a Forest Service appeals officer ruled the project could go ahead. By then, the trees were starting to rot. Timber companies showed little interest. Eventually, only 234 acres were replanted at a cost of $266,000. And the job was paid for not with salvage revenue, but with tax dollars. "What is causing our failure to get trees in the ground is delay," said Nelson, the reforestation manager. The key to getting fires reforested is to move quickly. Time is not our ally."

Bush administration officials are backing a House bill aimed at speeding up the process. "If we have to hug every tree and carry it out with six pallbearers, restoration work is going to become prohibitively expensive," said Mark Rey, undersecretary for natural resources and the environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Forest Service.....

Much more here


Over the past week, activists, scientists and politicians have taken to the airwaves to declare the debate on global warming over. The established position is that global warming is clearly occurring and it is also clearly caused by human activities. But what does it really mean for a scientific debate to be "over." Scientifically, what this means is that all available data (or very nearly all available data) relating to the subject of the debate have been collected, analyzed and interpreted, the result of which yields one single, inescapable conclusion. Some other scientific ideas for which the debate is "over" include: gravity (at least the physical phenomenon on planet Earth), the Laws of Thermodynamics (again, at least here on Earth) and the Ideal Gas Law (PV=nRT). Add to this list Human-caused Global Warming!

In truth, scientific ideas must pass through three levels of certainty before they are accepted as scientific truths. The first and least certain level is the hypothesis. A hypothesis is merely the formal statement of an idea - for instance, "Sunlight causes plants to grow." To test this hypothesis, a scientist would conduct an experiment that controls all other variables (water, minerals, etc.) and subjects plants to varying amounts of light. The scientist would then measure and analyze the growth rates of the plants receiving different amounts of light. From this conclusions are drawn. If differences in growth are detected, the scientist can then conclude that sunlight influences growth. However, one thing that is frequently lost on the non-science public is that these experiments must be repeated, many times, in order to verify results. It is possible in any experiment that the scientists' results occurred because of some error, mistake in experimental design or merely by chance. As a result, experiments are supposed to be repeated to verify the results and interpretations.

Ideas subjected to this type of repeated experimentation that are continually supported by the data and evidence graduate to the next highest level of certainty in science, the theory. Some current scientific theories include: Evolution, Relativity and until recently, Global Warming. Theories are scientific ideas for which all data collected to date support the idea as truth. This is not to say that some piece of data won't someday be discovered that refutes the theory. It is merely an expression of increased confidence in the validity of the idea by the scientific community.

This brings us to the newly minted Law of Global Warming. Laws are merely theories that have been supported so continuously over time that their validity is no longer questioned. Again, this is not to say that some piece of data won't someday emerge that refutes the law, it is simply the scientific community's highest expression of confidence in a tested idea. The debate is "over" for most established scientific laws.

The declaration that the debate on global warming is over by activists, politicians and liberal scientists is indicative more of their contempt of the public than it is a result of vigorous scientific examination. Global warming proponents rely upon the publics' lack of scientific training and experience to force their agendas into the political arena and then establish their acceptance. When confronted with the reality that there are scientists still in the scientific community who 1) are not convinced that global warming is occurring for a variety of valid reasons and 2) are not convinced that humans have anything to do with global warming if it is occurring, the agenda-driven dismiss these dissenters by asserting that they are so few in number their objections are meaningless.

In the 1500s, the debate was also "over" concerning the position of the Earth in the heavens. Almost every scientist, school and government accepted as fact that the celestial bodies (the Sun in particular) revolved around the Earth. There existed only one notable dissenter at the time, Copernicus. It took more than 100 years before the debate was reopened, the political results of which forced Galileo to recant his support of the theory in 1616, before finally publishing his studies in support of the theory in 1632. Such is the danger of declaring any scientific debate "over."

For honest, truth-seeking scientists, vigorous debate over scientific ideas is never really over. Scientists are supposed to seek truth first, as indicated by the scientific data collected. The pursuit of truth and data is never supposed to end for the scientist. The declaration that the global warming debate is over says more about global warming proponents' agenda than it does about the science of global warming. What are the proponents of the theory afraid that honest science is going to find out about global warming? Why are they reluctant to let the scientific dissenters voice their opinion? And perhaps most importantly, why are they determined to prevent an honest public discourse that permits non-scientists to formulate their own opinions regarding the theory?



Part of a review of Monbiot's "Heat":

Given its near-universal acceptance how is it that the belief that over-consumption threatens life itself has failed to impact on behaviour? It is not that people have failed to curb their consumption sufficiently. On the contrary, consumption, and specifically energy consumption continues to rise year on year, individually and collectively. If the leaders of Friends of the Earth and Stop the Climate Chaos are frequent fliers, so are the rest of us: frequent drivers, who leave our televisions on standby and our houses un-insulated.

To George Monbiot, this sounds like hypocrisy, and he is right. But he misunderstands the relationship between ecological thought and consumption. That climate change threatens the planet is not a belief that leads to a restriction in consumption. On the contrary, one could state as a law of politics that the relationship between green thinking and increasing consumption is not contradictory, but complementary. The greater role that consumption plays in our lives, the more we are predisposed to worrying about the planet. Ecology is to the twenty-first century what Christianity was to the Victorians. The harder those patricians blessed the meek on a Sunday, the more viciously they exploited them from Monday to Saturday. Green thinking is the religion of the consumer age. As sure as night follows day, the very people that are most preoccupied with the environment will increase their consumption from one year to the next.

We know this because environmental activism and beliefs are also stronger among the better paid and educated - the very people who command more of life's resources. The stream of advice on ethical consumerism does not result in restricted consumption, but more complex, which is to say more costly consumption, like the ethical tourism that Monbiot denounces.

The environmental belief pattern fulfils all the demands of a secular religion, elevating the elect few above the common herd of vulgar, unthinking consumers; creating secular rituals, like fastidious eating, and garbage-sorting, as well as a full calendar of public worship, or protest. And like all religions, ecology has its eschatology, its end-time, the belief in the coming apocalypse, or to give it its modern name, climate change.

The motivation for the book is the proposition that if carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rises above the current level of 380 parts per million by 2030, combining with other `greenhouse gases', it will trap the sun's rays in the atmosphere raising temperatures by two and six degrees Celsius - causing irreversible and catastrophic climate change. Melting polar ice caps will raise sea levels flooding coastal cities and towns; Africa, Australia and the Mediterranean will suffer frequent droughts; grain yields will collapse leading to famine; malaria will increase; species will become extinct.

But Monbiot says he is trying to avoid despair. The world can avoid the disaster if we reduce the carbon given off in energy production and other industrial processes, by 60 per cent, so that each of us produces no more than 0.33 tonnes of carbon by 2030 (with an intermediate target of 0.8 tonnes by 2012). But with energy use highest in the developed world, our target here is a 90 per cent reduction. The book sets out, in broad outline, how the saving can be made, supported with case studies on domestic energy use, the energy industry itself, transport, retail and concrete production.

It is the attempt to realise the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, or to achieve a balance with nature, that is Monbiot's error. Like religious belief, environmental thinking is not supposed to be resolved. Rather, the belief persists precisely because it is the mirror image of consumerism. Without consumerism, environmentalism would cease to exist. Some Victorian religious sects made a similar mistake, trying to create religious communes in the New World, or sometimes retreating into the forests to escape worldly sin. Generally they ended up quarrelling and destitute. Once realised, all the absurdities of the belief system become writ large.

So it is with George Monbiot's blueprint. In attempting to show that the necessary reduction in carbon emissions can be achieved Monbiot is forced again and again towards the one likely source of resource efficiency, greater technological development. Hence he is forced reluctantly to concede that nuclear power is a more plausible source of clean energy than biomass; that supermarkets' internet delivery services, an example of the advantage of industrial concentration, could reduce energy use. Monbiot explains very well that rules on energy efficient house-building would have little impact because the rate at which Britain's housing stock is replaced is glacially slow - but fails to understand that the low level of new building that leaves us all in energy-inefficient Victorian houses is a direct consequence of environmental constraints on housing developments.

In every instance, however, the ethical meaning of ecology, its romantic protest against modernity, reasserts itself. This is clearest in Monbiot's predictable hostility to the car, which he associates with a vicious libertarianism, in which motorists perceive society, pedestrians, cyclists, road-humps, as a barrier. But this only illustrates Monbiot's prejudices. Society is represented by pedestrians and cyclists. But drivers are society, too. Indeed, with car journeys making up 85 per cent of all distance travelled, they are a much greater share of society than cyclists, making up 0.5 per cent. Heat follows the conventional calculation of the costs of motoring unrepresented in the price of petrol, like health care and traffic policing. But it is wholly ignorant of the un-reckoned advantages of motoring, like greater mobility, and sociability.

Though wreathed in statistics, Heat fails to reckon the basic contribution to human existence of consumerism and motorisation, as if these could be tossed away without severely limiting its quality and duration. Take a look inside your fridge: more than nine-tenths of what you see there was delivered to the shop or supermarket by road, as indeed were the goods in your home. The organic vegetables and the spare parts that keep your bicycle moving were not delivered by bicycle, but by a man in a white van. Monbiot worries about declining agricultural yields and pressure on farmland, but fails to acknowledge that motorisation and fertilisers have massively increased output, bringing down prices, and releasing more land every year from cultivation.

Monbiot opens Heat with a quote from environmental activist Mayer Hillman on what a society that cut greenhouse gases by 80 per cent would look like: `a very poor third world country'. Monbiot aims to disprove this argument, by showing that reduction could be achieved without reducing us to penury, but he fails because he does not understand the extent to which our quality of life is dependent upon the very technologies that he considers destructive. Monbiot protests at `skeptical environmentalist' Bjorn Lomborg's economic calculation of how money could be better spent solving world problems than wasted imposing restrictions on manufacturing output. This calculation he thinks is immoral. What price can you put on the subsequent deaths from malnutrition in Ethiopia caused by global warming? But Monbiot singularly fails to recognise that his restrictions would also have a human cost.

Those countries with low carbon dioxide emissions, like Ethiopia and Bangladesh, are also those with high infant mortality, low life expectancy and poor quality of life. To recreate their levels of energy consumption in the developed world would be to recreate their social conditions also. What is more, no across-the-board reduction in living standards has ever been achieved without social conflict and violent repression. Alongside the depressions of the 1930s and 1970s came police brutality. Monbiot's ideal, wartime rationing, was achieved by terrifying the population with the threat of foreign invasion and militarising society. But Monbiot would reply that all of this is immaterial, because it is not possible to reproduce western standards of living in the developing world, because of the absolute limit of catastrophic climate change.

But even here, despite its welter of statistics, Heat is unconvincing. Monbiot calls his critics climate change deniers, not balking at the comparison with Holocaust denial. Anyone who does not support his linear connection of industrial carbon emissions, to the greenhouse effect, to climate change, ending in environmental catastrophe is deluded. But this is not the language of science, whose findings are always provisional. More to the point, though, even where it can be shown that industrial output has had an effect on the earth's temperature, the extrapolation from that to necessary ecological disaster is all entirely speculative. All the changes modelled are projected into the future, failing Karl Popper's test of falsifiability. And while there is a small industry dedicated to modelling the negative effects of climate change, any positive effects are excluded out of hand.

Monbiot accuses air-travellers of killing future generations of Africans, through the Malaria and famine that he says will increase because of climate change. But he ignores the Africans dying of malaria today because environmentalists persuaded the World Health Organisation to ban DDT there or the Africans suffering food shortages already because environmentalists got the United Nations not to fund the use of chemical fertilisers in aid programmes.

The gloomy warnings say more about their authors than they do about the future. We have been warned by environmentalists that by 1997 one-third of the population will be stricken with `human-BSE', that genetically modified organisms will enter the food-chain altering our DNA, even that, as Nature reported in the 1970s we are on the brink of a new Ice Age. The belief in impending disaster arises out of the psychological need for an eschatology, a secular version of Kingdom Come, that will under-gird the grandstanding of moralists like George Monbiot. Like the Dostoevsky character who worries that `if there is no God, how can I be captain', Monbiot has to believe in impending catastrophe so that he can denounce the unbelievers and weak of conviction. But there is a less painful way to overcome the clash between modern lifestyles and environmental thinking, and that is to abandon the latter, not the former.



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

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

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


16 October 2006


So what was the all-consuming subject of dinner party conversation in London boroughs like Harrow or Islington this summer? Apparently, it was rubbish. And more specifically, maggots. As recycling was made compulsory in these boroughs, former keen beans found their enthusiasm rot with `smells, maggots, missed collections and chaos.' "Disgruntled" of Pinner writes that the `council introduced compulsory recycling months ago and it was a shambles. they couldn't cope with the amount of stuff in the green boxes - bin men just left any overflow in the streets. Streets became refuse-strewn and Pinner incredibly smelly.'

Charlotte Ross, of Islington, who had been a committed voluntary recycler (even after watching a BBC documentary which revealed that the council was shipping her carefully sorted recyclables `to be dumped in Indonesia') found her zeal evaporated in the hot weather: `No matter how often we emptied and cleaned our brown compost bins, they seemed to attract a plague of flies. Each time I opened the bin a cloud of tiny insects flew out to circle the fruit bowl or fridge. Imagine my horror when I opened the outdoor bin to find a slimy mass of maggots and grey bugs.'

But is such outrage provoking a rebellion in suburban London? Harrow is the latest council to institute a scheme of compulsory recycling. In the St. Ann's shopping centre, with its vast, clean floors and bright blue branding signs, and chain stores like Boots, Shoe Zone and Primark, there's the bustle of lunch and a crowd swelled by the torrential downpour outdoors. Are these residents good recyclers? ....

Quite a few people to whom I mention recycling refuse to talk. But in some, enthusiasm for recycling verges on evangelism. A World Vision salesman asks me: `How can people throw away cans? Damn! No one thinks about these things. Well I do. But I'm an environmental scientist.'

In the shopping arcades of Harrow, the consensus seems to be that recycling is a `good' thing and we should all get on with it, regardless of whether it's ultimately of any use. So it is left to the press spokesperson for Harrow Council to fill me in on the details of Harrovian disgruntlement. Residents, she explains, are `creatures of habit'. When the new system of collections on alternate weeks for recycling and landfill collection were first introduced over the summer, `Bins were overflowing, as a lot of people thought "oh sod it" and just carried on regardless.' This had put `more pressure on our refuse collectors. There was one case where a refuse collector was attacked. but we can't connect it, as police haven't managed to find the person responsible'.

At the minute, the spokesperson explains, the Council is holding back on issuing fines. `We're encouraging them', she says. If there are things in the bin which are `wrong' then the council officers `leave the offending item in the box' to `show' them. They will look at other measures `further down the line, if it's not taken up voluntarily'.

Harrow council have ordered 36,000 new bins with computer chips - which can be used to identify a bin with a particular household - because it was cheaper to buy bins with chips than without. Using the chips, there is the potential to charge households according to how much waste they dispose of. But Harrow council do not have the technology to use the chips and, at present, have no plans to. When I ask how much these bins cost, it turns out that the computer system is `down' and a figure cannot be retrieved.

A figure which is certain, however, is the fine imposed on the council for one batch of contaminated organic waste. If a load of organic waste is contaminated with something as trivial as a polystyrene cup, the council will be fined ú600. The council are thus under pressure to educate people never to do such a thing. Educational campaigns, leaflets, editorial adverts, posters, council magazines have all been distributed to every home. `Are they made of recycled materials?' I ask. `I don't know,' the press officer replies, `but they're recyclable'.

Therein lies the rub. For people living in a modern and developed country, picking through your rubbish seems like a step backwards. As Disgruntled of Pinner notes, no-one seems to be pointing out `the backwardness of scrabbling round in our kitchens wrapping up bits of newspaper versus the historical advances of municipal refuse collection'. Composting food and leaves, or recycling paper and card, is not saving precious resources. Yet, the argument that recycling must be a Good Thing is rarely challenged. Where recycling makes economic sense - particularly in relation to commercial and industrial waste - it already happens. Imposing recycling from above with a big stick for those who fail to comply only illustrates that there is no clamour for it, or financial logic behind it.

If there is no demand for the products of recycling, the whole process is not only tiresome, costly and unhygienic but pointless, too. Recycling is an empty ritual designed to make us feel better about ourselves - and with the increasing levels of compulsion, we are going to feel good whether we like it or not.




Scotland's major airports have put themselves on a collision course with environmentalists after finalising a 25-year expansion plan that could double the number of flights. Revealing its final masterplan for Glasgow airport, the owner, BAA, confirmed that it was preparing for 24 million passengers to use the airport by 2030, on top of 26 million at Edinburgh. Currently, both airports deal with about nine million passengers each. The number of flights at the two airports could double by then to a maximum 436,000 - or the equivalent of 50 an hour, every hour of the day.

Green groups warned that the growth was unsustainable and could contribute serious environmental damage. But business leaders said the developments were essential to the country's economic performance. Aviation emissions are recorded at a UK, rather than Scottish level. The government has estimated they were responsible for 6 per cent of Britain's contribution to climate change in 2004, compared with 24 per cent for road transport. But the inter-governmental panel on climate change forecasts global air transport emissions will grow from 2.5-3 per cent to 5-6 per cent of all emissions by 2030. The documents reflect this expected extra demand, with the airport operator, BAA Scotland, planning to pour in o600 million to expand.

The final version of the Glasgow document, published yesterday, includes plans to create a single huge passenger security-check and bag-search area. And just to confirm the trend, National Air Traffic Services, which runs Britain's air-traffic control, yesterday announced a new record, of handling 7,864 flights on Friday, 1 September. Flights handled by its Scottish centre, at Prestwick, have increased by 2.5 per cent this year to nearly 466,000 so far.

Alex Barr, the managing director of Glasgow airport, said: "We are proud of the role the airport plays, promoting the wider region and Scotland to the world. But as we look to the future, we must also consider the legacy we leave future generations. Glasgow airport will grow in a responsible and sustainable manner, with due consideration for our neighbours and the environment."

Steven Purcell, the leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "Glasgow airport plays a vital role not only in the Glasgow economy, but across the entire country. This new investment will ensure this continues in the years ahead." Lesley Sawers, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: "This major investment shows the confidence that the BAA has in Scotland, and it is essential for the continuing growth of Glasgow's economy."

But the Green Party said such an approach was disastrous. It claimed the Executive's route-development fund was making things worse, while also failing to boost the economy. Patrick Harvie, a Glasgow Green MSP, said: "This proposed expansion completely ignores sustainability and will cost the taxpayer dearly in years to come."

An Executive spokesman said: "The route-development fund has brought an increased number of business travellers and tourists to Scotland, benefiting our economy, and given Scottish businesses vital links with Europe and wider international markets." ....

BAA, which operates the three main London airports, as well as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, agrees with big airlines that the European Union's carbon trading scheme is the best way for the industry to address its impact on global warming. It said the scheme was the "most economically efficient and environmentally effective way of addressing emissions from aircraft". Emissions trading allows airlines to "buy" some of the carbon reductions achieved by companies in industries with a greater practical potential for cutting their carbon dioxide output, such as power generation, oil refining or steel making. Some airlines are going one step further by researching cleaner fuels. Sir Richard Branson has announced plans to power his Virgin Atlantic fleet on plant waste by opening refineries to produce cellulosic ethanol, which he has described as being "100 per cent environmentally-friendly".


RUSH LIMBAUGH COMMENTS ON: "Nuremberg-Style Trials" for Global Warming Skeptics?

RUSH: All right, the anniversary of the earliest snowfall in Chicago is September 25th, and this is October the 12th. September 25th, 1928 (and also 1942) is the earliest fall snow, even though it's just flurries with a little trace in Chicago. None of them resulted in any accumulation. According to Tom Skilling, WGN-TV, chief meteorologist, "They created quite a public stir at the time. "September 25th in '28 was a raw day, the high-low temperatures were 50 and 39. It was even worse in 1942. It was 46 and 30 degrees high and low." It caused a big public stir, and it's causing a big public stir today, too, and of course it's "Climate change! Massive climate change!"

Speaking of "massive climate change," ladies and gentlemen, I don't know how many of you people saw this, but I know that I am probably going to be target number... Well, I'm going to be in the top ten. "Nuremberg-Style Trials Proposed for Global Warming Skeptics -- A US-based environmental magazine that both former Vice President Al Gore and PBS newsman Bill Moyers have deemed respectable enough to grant one-on-one interviews to, is now advocating 'Nuremberg-style war crimes trials' for skeptics of human-caused catastrophic global warming. The name of the magazine is Grist, Grist magazine. The staff writer, David Roberts, called for the Nuremberg-style trials for the 'bastards' who were members of what he termed the 'global warming-denial industry.'

"Roberts wrote in the online publication September 19th this year, 'When we've finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we're in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards, some sort of climate Nuremberg.'" I wonder if anybody's going to ask Gore and Moyers about this. Now, "The global warming-denial industry" has got some people upset because that's Holocaust terminology, and Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado's Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, said, "The phrase 'climate change denier' is meant to be evocative of the phrase 'holocaust denier.' Pielke wrote on October 9," a couple of days ago, three days ago, this year, "'Let's be blunt. This allusion is an affront to those who suffered and died in the Holocaust. This allusion has no place in the discourse on climate change. I say this as one fully convinced of a significant human role in the behavior of the climate system.'"

"The article: 'Global Warming: the Chilling Effect on Free Speech' last week in Spiked Online addresses this new-found penchant by environmentalists, wackos, and some media members to charge skeptics of human-caused catastrophic global warming with crimes against humanity and urged Nuremberg-style prosecution of them." Now, before you just react and say, "Oh, man are these people funny or what?" These are liberals. I have often on this program in the past referred to liberals as Stalinists. Just yesterday I had some guy call me and argue with me when I said that liberals are opposed to liberty.

"No, they are not. You explain that!" And I cited countless examples. Here's another one: Nuremberg-style trials for global warming, manmade global warming "deniers." Now, this is who liberals are. They don't want to hear a viewpoint other than what they believe. These are not conservatives doing this. These are not moderates. These people are liberals.


NOTE: Marvellous what a bit of publicity does. The "leafy green" writer criticized above has now backed down. He now says: "There are people and institutions knowingly disseminating falsehoods and distortions about global warming. They deserve to be held publicly accountable. As to what shape that accountability would take, my analogy to the Nuremberg trials was woefully inappropriate -- nay, stupid. I retract it wholeheartedly."

Australian Leftists mimic the Royal Society

(Britain's Royal Society attracted widespread condemnation for writing to Exxon and asking them to stop funding Greenhouse skeptics)

Religious bigots are dangerous in politics. Just see what federal Labor frontbenchers Kelvin Thomson and Anthony Albanese will do in the name of their green faith. Thomson, the human services spokesman, has written to business chiefs declaring "global warming is happening, it is man-made, and it is not good for us." But, he sighs, "propaganda and misinformation" is being spread by "sceptics."

"I am writing to ask if your company has donated any money to the Institute of Public Affairs . . . or any other body which spreads misinformation or undermines the scientific consensus concerning global warming . . . If so, I request that your company cease such financial support."

This bid to shut down debate is scary enough in a likely minister in any Labor government. But it's worse when you see what Albanese, Labor's environment spokesman, considers to be the truth about global warming. This week he claimed Tuvalu, a Pacific island, "is expected to become uninhabitable within 10 years because of rising sea levels". In fact, our South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project has found the seas there have risen just 4.3mm a year recently, and a much longer record kept by the University of Hawaii shows an even smaller rise -- just 0.9mm a year. The project's report concludes: "Hence, even with 22 years of data the trend cannot be established without sizeable uncertainties."

No doubt this fact "undermines the scientific consensus concerning global warming". So what would Labor do to a scientist who says such a thing, or a business that publishes it?



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

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

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


15 October 2006


No mention of the economic and moral imbecility of putting up barriers against the products of poor countries. And if barriers are put up against American products, the market for French wines and German cars could very easily be sent into a tailspin

Commission advisors are considering slapping a tax on imported goods from countries which do not impose a CO2 cap on their industry, according to a draft paper seen by European Voice (5-11 October). The paper will be presented to a top group of industrialists, member-state and civil- society experts who help the Commission shape policies in the field of environment and energy - the high-level group on competitiveness, energy and the environment. The idea, known in academic circles as a "border tax adjustment", is understood to have emerged from expert discussions on long-term energy scenarios at a September meeting of the competitiveness sub-group. According to the Voice, cement is cited in the paper as "a good product to trial this approach".

The ETS has attracted criticism from power-intensive industries including cement, metals and heavy chemicals for driving electricity prices up. Industrialists argue that the scheme is putting EU companies at a disadvantage compared with global competitors, who do not have equivalent constraint. One of the objectives of the high-level group is to find a solution to the increase in power-prices that come with carbon trading in the EU.

Cembureau President Paul Vanfrachem welcomes the idea, saying that the tax would help offset the competitive disadvantage that the ETS forces on the European cement industry. "What we are seeing today is [cement] imports increasing a lot, especially imports from China where there is no carbon constraint," says Vanfrachem. He believes that "a worldwide effort" on cutting CO2 would be fairer to European businesses. But before such a system is in place, he thinks Europeans "have to take some measures to try to find fair conditions for the competitiveness of the industry". "On a temporary basis, and as long as we do not have a worldwide [carbon-trading scheme in place], we are in favour of these kind of taxes," says Vanfrachem.

Although supported by the cement sector, the idea is generally not welcomed by EU businesses. Climate-change expert Daniel Cloquet at UNICE, the European employers' association, expressed the "highest reserves" over the idea, saying that it holds the potential to launch "a commercial war" with the US or China, which do not have cap-and-trade systems.

John Hontelez, secretary-general of the European Environment Bureau, a federation of 143 environmental organisations, says that he supports the idea of a border tax adjustment. "The Commission has picked this up and found it interesting enough to include it in discussions" in the High-level group, he says. But not everyone at the Commission is supportive. One senior source, who preferred not to be named, said it would not be a good idea "politically".

According to Cembureau, the way forward would be to launch specific emissions- trading schemes at a global level for each industrial sector, instead of following the European model where all industries are treated under the same scheme. To support this argument, Vanfrachem points to "large discrepancies in terms of the capabilities of different industries to afford" CO2 costs. He cites aviation as a sector which can afford "much higher [CO2 prices] than we could ever afford". "There is no point having them in the same scheme".

But here too the idea runs into opposition from the Commission which believes the European system should form "a nucleus" that other countries could join at a later stage. "Let's keep it as one single system," the source said.



Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, have created a liquid that stops bleeding in any tissue in a matter of seconds. It is a discovery that they claim has the potential to revolutionise surgery and emergency medicine and could even make it easier to reattach severed limbs. Rutledge Ellis-Behnke and colleagues worked from the nanoscale, using individual amino acids to create a self-assembling peptide. It looks exactly like water but when applied directly onto injured tissue it halts bleeding. This is the first time nanotechnology has been used to control bleeding, claims Rutledge.

The remarkable discovery was made by accident during an experiment in which the liquid was used to stimulate nerve repair in the brains of rats. Ellis-Behnke's group, whose work is focussed on central nervous system repair, found that the liquid mended the nerve cells as predicted, but caused a strange side effect. `When we used the liquid during the surgery we thought that the animals had died. The bleeding in the brain stopped and that normally indicates that the heart has stopped beating,' Ellis-Behnke told Chemistry World. `When we realised what had happened, we made a note of it and then went back to the drawing board to test it.'

In tests on skin, liver, lung, blood vessels and a variety of other tissue, Ellis-Behnke and his colleagues were able to use the liquid to halt bleeds in less than 15 seconds. The mechanism for this ability remains something of a mystery. `It isn't clotting that we're seeing. We tested for all of the things you find in all blood clots; fibrin, thrombin and platelets and none of them were there,' said Ellis-Behnke. `Either this is acting as some kind of molecular band aid or we are stopping bleeding via a completely new direction that we have never seen before.'

Once the liquid touches an internal organ, it forms a gel; the amino acids assemble into fibres and stop the bleed. The degradable peptide then breaks down into non-toxic products as the tissue heals. These products can even be used by cells to rebuild damaged tissue, according to the researchers. During the study, the liquid was used successfully internally and externally, before breaking down to be incorporated into the healed tissue or excreted in the urine.

Surgeons currently spend up to 50 per cent of their time during surgery packing wounds in order to reduce or control bleeding, so if Ellis-Behnke's liquid works it would make a profound difference. Promising results in an animal model mean that human trials could begin in as little as three years, he said. `This could even be used on the battlefield,' added Ellis-Behnke. `If a limb is removed, this could be applied to the severed limb as well as the wound on the body. It would stop the drying out and decay of the tissue and keep it clean so it would be easier to reattach.'


Leftist State governments are to blame for Australia's urban water shortages, not nature

They haven't built dams for years, despite big population growth

Justified concern about the severity of the drought now facing Australia should not be allowed to obscure the abject failure of governments around the nation to secure adequate supplies of an essential resource. The failure is a lack of foresight rooted in political pork-barrelling to rural irrigators and greed at the expense of city water users. The result has been environmental degradation requiring billions of dollars to address, a crisis in agriculture during periods of low rainfall and the absurd situation of water rationing in a country at the peak of its prosperity. The problem for urban consumers has arisen because water has been traded through state monopolies that, when faced with a squeeze of their own making, have simply turned off the tap.

As reported in The Australian yesterday, the first national audit of water resources conducted by the National Water Commission has found the states continued to fail in water management. And the blame-shifting continued at yesterday's inaugural meeting of the Council for the Australian Federation, where yet another promise was made for a national focus on water. But there has been little progress on the long-promised national water market and the most pressing task: the buyback of water rights that have been over-allocated for decades by state governments keen to curry political support. Such a buyback has been identified as the most sensible - and cheapest - way to save rivers in the Murray-Darling system. The drought has made the task urgent but there is a reluctance for political and economic reasons. Buying back only water saved through covering open channels, and introducing drip irrigation and better water management has proved too slow and not enough. But new technology must be adopted. Among the predictions in The Australian's groundbreaking 2026 series starting next Saturday is that current irrigation methods will have disappeared in 20 years' time. Without these advances, it is hard to see how we can continue to justify growing water-hungry crops such as cotton and rice.

None of this addresses the issue of long-term underfunding in urban water resources. By 2026, water consumption in Brisbane will have increased more than 60 per cent. In Sydney, it will be up 35 per cent, with a similar figure in Melbourne. As the present restrictions demonstrate, water authorities have been negligent in planning for the future, both in terms of storage and interstate co-operation. Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Water Malcolm Turnbull has clearly outlined how greed has sponsored the short-term planning. It has done so because delivering "old" water from existing dams is very cheap, but delivering "new" water from new infrastructure is very high. This means that when government-owned water utilities have been faced with an excess of demand over supply they have protected cash flow and dividends by introducing water restrictions. The drought has brought the house of cards tumbling down, however, because restrictions are causing political pain. It is a classic tale of how state monopolies fail consumers. In the absence of market forces and competition, governments have treated water as a cash cow and run their businesses into the ground. The drought has forced a reappraisal that must ultimately bring proper price signals to the water market. This will both deal with uneconomic farm practices and stop the absurd situation whereby elderly residents are forced to water their garden using a bucket.



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

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

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


14 October, 2006

Do I detect the first tiny rumblings of a paradigm shift in climate-change science?

(Comment lifted from Prof. Stott)

"The greenhouse effect must play some role. But those who are absolutely certain that the rise in temperatures is due solely to carbon dioxide have no scientific justification. It's pure guesswork." [Henrik Svensmark, Director of the Centre for Sun-Climate Research, Danish National Space Center, joint author of the new research, as quoted in The Copenhagen Post (October 4)]

Yesterday, some extremely important new research on climate change was quietly released. Few newspapers picked it up, The Daily Telegraph (October 4) and the Copenhagen Post (October 4) being but slight exceptions, both carrying only brief reports. This key research, long in gestation, and embargoed until October 4, appears in the Proceedings of the Royal Society A (October 3). Here is the press release:

"'Do electrons help to make the clouds?'
By H. Svensmark, J.O.P. Pedersen, et al. (doi:10.1098/rspa.2006.1773)*

Using a box of air in a Copenhagen lab, physicists trace the growth of clusters of molecules of the kind that build cloud condensation nuclei. These are specks of sulphuric acid on which cloud droplets form. High-energy particles driven through the laboratory ceiling by exploded stars far away in the Galaxy - the cosmic rays - liberate electrons in the air, which help the molecular clusters to form much faster than atmospheric scientists have predicted. That may explain the link proposed by members of the Danish team, between cosmic rays, cloudiness and climate change."

And here is the link to the report from the Danish National Space Center: 'Getting closer to the cosmic connection to climate' (October 4). One especially eminent science writer has already declared: "The implications for climate physics, solar-terrestrial physics and terrestrial-galactic physics are pretty gob-smacking....."

I say, watch this space. Slowly, but surely, this revelation could well open a can of wormholes in climate-change science.

The reason is simple. The experiment ties in beautifully with the brilliant work of geochemist, Professor Jan Veizer of the Ruhr University at Bochum, Germany, and the University of Ottawa in Canada, and Dr. Nir Shaviv, an astrophysicist at the Racah Institute of Physics in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who for some time have been implicating cosmic rays and water vapour, rather than carbon dioxide, as the main drivers of climate change. Indeed, they have put down 75% of climate change to these drivers.

Cosmic rays are known to boost cloud formation - and, in turn, reduce temperatures on Earth - by creating ions that cause water droplets to condense. J†n Veizer and Nir Shaviv calculated temperature changes at the Earth's surface by studying oxygen isotopes trapped in rocks formed by ancient marine fossils. They then compared these with variations in cosmic-ray activity, determined by looking at how cosmic rays have affected iron isotopes in meteorites.

Their results suggest that temperature fluctuations over the past 550 million years are more likely to relate to cosmic-ray activity than to CO2. By contrast, they found no correlation between temperature variation and the changing patterns of CO2 in the atmosphere.

But the mechanism remained far from understood.....until now. For it seems that the Danish team may well have discovered that mechanism.

Do I detect the first deep and quiet rumblings of a long-term paradigm-shifting piece of work?

Indeed, I sense the first minute bounce in a new Kuhnian curve. Of course, for the moment, the work will be drowned out by the clamour of the Great Grand Global Warming Narrative. After all, it is the last thing the committed - and politicians like Cameron, Campbell, and Gore - want to hear. May I thus encourage all readers of EnviroSpin to work especially hard to bring the significance of this vital research to as many journalists and politicians as possible? Thank you. It is time to begin to change the paradigm.


A U.S. based environmental magazine... is now advocating Nuremberg-style war crimes trials for skeptics of human caused catastrophic global warming. Grist Magazine's staff writer David Roberts called for the Nuremberg-style trials for the "bastards" who were members of what he termed the global warming "denial industry." Roberts wrote in the online publication on September 19, 2006, "When we've finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we're in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards -- some sort of climate Nuremberg."

Gore and Moyers have not yet commented on Grist's advocacy of prosecuting skeptics of global warming with a Nuremberg-style war crimes trial. Gore has used the phrase "global warming deniers" to describe scientists and others who don't share his view of the Earth's climate. It remains to be seen what Gore and Moyers will have to say about proposals to make skepticism a crime comparable to Holocaust atrocities.

The use of Holocaust terminology has drawn the ire of Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado's Center for Science and Technology Policy Research. "The phrase `climate change denier' is meant to be evocative of the phrase `holocaust denier,'" Pielke, Jr. wrote on October 9, 2006 . "Let's be blunt. This allusion is an affront to those who suffered and died in the Holocaust. This allusion has no place in the discourse on climate change. I say this as someone fully convinced of a significant human role in the behavior of the climate system," Pielke, Jr. explained.

The article Global Warming: The Chilling Effect On Free Speech last week in Spiked Online addresses this new found penchant by environmentalists and some media members to charge skeptics of human caused catastrophic global warming with "crimes against humanity" and urge Nuremberg-style prosecution of them.



Europe's business and leisure travellers are largely unmoved by the howls of political protest against the aviation industry's contribution to global warming, latest figures from aviation analysts OAG suggest. Demand for air travel is at its highest October level since 9/11.

Worldwide, the number of flights timetabled for this month is three per cent higher than in October last year. However, the number of air services to and from Europe is up nine per cent - airlines plan to operate nearly 7,300 more flights than in October 2005.

Using sophisticated "yield management" systems to predict global travel patterns, airlines are this month looking to fill more than 87 million seats on flights to, from and within Europe.

"While it may once have been considered something of a luxury, air travel in the 21st Century has become an economic necessity," says Duncan Alexander, managing director Business Development at OAG. "Any move towards additional travel taxes, either at national or supranational level, seems certain to be hugely unpopular, if not commercially damaging."

"Airlines have become real experts at predicting consumer demand, and this increase is no flash in the pan, but part of an ongoing trend. The number of October flights to and from Europe may be nine per cent higher than a year ago, but it is fully 30 per cent up on October 2001."

The figures are revealed in OAG's latest Quarterly Airline Traffic Statistics, a regular snapshot of airline activity around the world. OAG collates data from more than 1000 scheduled airlines, on a daily basis, to give an overview of anticipated travel demand.

Within Europe, there are big differences between east and west. While the number of October flights on offer within western Europe is two per cent higher this year, there has been a 12 per cent increase in the number of flights between eastern European countries.

At a national level, aviation growth in countries such as Poland, the Baltic states and Turkey far outstrips the increases in more mature markets. The number of October flights to and from Poland, for example, is 18 per cent higher, compared with a five per cent increase for Germany and Italy, three per cent for France, and just one per cent for the UK.

Among the major world regions, air travel to and from the oil-rich Middle East is showing the biggest increase, up 15 per cent against last October. This month sees 12 per cent more flights to and from the Asia-Pacific region and 11 per cent more flights to and from Africa.

Only the Americas are bucking the global trend. The number of October flights to and from the USA and Canada is just two per cent higher than a year ago, while the number of services to and from South and Central America has actually decreased by two per cent.



Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee responds below to the October 12, 2006 New York Times global warming editorial titled, "Doubting Inhofe."

My recent speeches detailing the embarrassing 100 year history of the media's relentless climate hype and its flip flopping between global cooling and warming scares must have struck a nerve in the old gray lady of the New York Times. A significant portion of my 50 minute Senate floor speech on September 25th was devoted to the New York Times history of swinging between promoting fears of a coming ice age to promoting fears of global warming. Since 1895, the media has alternated between global cooling and warming scares during four separate and sometimes overlapping time periods.

The New York Times October 12, 2006 editorial accused me of possessing "a hysteria of doubt" about human caused catastrophic global warming. But in reality, there is no doubt that it is the New York Times that possesses a hysterical and erroneous history of climate alarmism.

Here is a quote from the February 24, 1895 edition of the New York Times reporting on fears of an approaching ice age: "Geologists Think the World May be Frozen Up Again." But on March 27, 1933, the New York Times reported: "America in Longest Warm Spell Since 1776; Temperature Line Records a 25-year Rise" Then in 1952, the New York Times was back on the global warming bandwagon declaring that the "trump card" of global warming "has been the melting glaciers." And a 1975 New York Times headline trumpeting fear of a coming ice age read: "Climate Changes Endanger World's Food Output."

Now, fast forward to August 19, 2000, the New York Times was so eager to promote fears of the Arctic melting that it cheapened itself with a comical article declaring "The North Pole is Melting." The Times reporter, John Noble Wilford, noted that tourists visiting the North Pole saw open water and declared that "The last time scientists can be certain the pole was awash in water, was more than 50 million years ago." Wow. Pretty convincing stuff -- that is until the Times was forced to retract the story 10 days later and admit nothing unusual had occurred at the pole. No wonder today's Times editorial felt compelled to accuse me of "a hysteria of doubt," it was no doubt a clumsy attempt to distract from their climate reporting legacy of hysteria."

Mainstream Media Reaches Tipping Point

The American people are fed up with media for promoting the idea that former Vice President Al Gore represents the scientific "consensus" that SUV's and the modern American way of life have somehow created a "climate emergency" that only United Nations bureaucrats and wealthy Hollywood liberals can solve. It is the publicity and grant seeking global warming alarmists and their advocates in the media who have finally realized that the only "emergency" confronting them is their rapidly crumbling credibility, audience and bottom line. The global warming alarmists know their science is speculative at best and their desperation grows each day as it becomes more and more obvious that many of the nations that ratified the woeful Kyoto Protocol are failing to comply.

Quite simply Kyoto is dead and panic has gripped the global warming alarmists as they realize that Kyoto was nothing more than a fantasy. The Wharton Econometrics Forecasting Associates estimated Kyoto would cost an American family of four $2,700 annually, yet only reduce temperature by .06 Celsius. Even the "Kyoto Lite" proposal of McCain-Lieberman would have cost American households an additional $810 a year and more than one million jobs would have been lost. Under McCain-Lieberman, electricity prices would have increased 20% and the difference in temperature would have been a mere .029 Celsius. These proposals would affect all Americans, including ranchers, farmers, those in the retail industry and virtually all sectors of the economy. Even the most ardent global warming alarmists now realize that Kyoto and similar proposals are all economic pain for no climate gain.

Evidence of this media collapse can be found in the over 500 e-mails my office received within a few days of my September 25, 2006 Senate floor speech taking the media and climate alarmists to task. Well over 90% of the e-mails and phone calls were positive responses from the grass roots of America and from many scientists who had finally had it with skewed reporting of traditional media outlets like the New York Times. And, it was not just the American people who responded. My speech and its message of mainstream media hype and failure, spread across the globe -- from New Zealand, to England, to Canada to the Bahamas and China. It seems Americans are not alone when it comes to frustration with the relentless and unfounded scientific predictions of climate doom.

Shattering the Scientific Consensus

In April 2006, 60 prominent scientists wrote a letter to the Canadian Prime Minister asserting that the science is crumbling from underneath global warming alarmists:

`Observational evidence does not support today's computer climate models, so there is little reason to trust model predictions of the future.Significant [scientific] advances have been made since the [Kyoto] protocol was created, many of which are taking us away from a concern about increasing greenhouse gases. If, back in the mid-1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary,' the 60 scientists wrote.

`It was only 30 years ago that many of today's global-warming alarmists were telling us that the world was in the midst of a global-cooling catastrophe. But the science continued to evolve, and still does, even though so many choose to ignore it when it does not fit with predetermined political agendas,' the 60 scientists concluded.



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

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

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


13 October, 2006


(From CO2 Science Magazine, 11 October 2006)

Discussing: Hartmann, B. and Wendler, G. 2005. "The significance of the 1976 Pacific climate shift in the climatology of Alaska". Journal of Climate 18: 4824-4839.

What was done
The authors used near-surface air temperature data obtained from all 19 first-order U.S. National Weather Service stations scattered among six regions of Alaska to study the thermal history of the state over the period 1951-2001.

What was learned
The regional changes in mean annual air temperature from 1951 to 2001, based upon linear least squares regression analysis, were determined to be +1.9ÝC (South-Central), +1.6ÝC (West), +1.7ÝC (Interior), +0.8ÝC (Southwest), +1.3ÝC (Southeast) and +1.9ÝC (Arctic). However, and this is a really big "however," Hartmann and Wendler report that a significant amount of this warming was the result of a dramatic regime shift that occurred in 1976. Omitting that single year, for example, and looking at the two 25-year periods on both sides of the regime shift, they say that they "generally observe the opposite trend: cooling."

What it means
With respect to the temperature behavior of Alaska over the last half of the 20th century, the two researchers from the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks note that "a gradual increase might be expected from the observed steady increase of greenhouse gases" over that period. However, their results show something radically different: a general tendency for cooling over the 25 years preceding 1976, as well as a general tendency for cooling over the 25 years following 1976.

Clearly, Alaska is not the canary-in-the-coal-mine "poster child" for CO2-induced global warming that U.S. Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton make it out to be (see our Editorial of 24 Aug 2005) or that former U.S. Vice President Al Gore claims it is (see his recent movie). Quite to the contrary, the state's climatic history is a testament to the incredible power of periodically-occurring climate regime shifts that rapidly heat and cool this and many other parts of the world without any regard to what the air's CO2 content may be doing.

Abstract of the paper discussed above:

The 1976 Pacific climate shift is examined, and its manifestations and significance in Alaskan climatology during the last half-century are demonstrated. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation index shifted in 1976 from dominantly negative values for the 25-yr time period 1951-75 to dominantly positive values for the period 1977-2001. Mean annual and seasonal temperatures for the positive phase were up to 3.1įC higher than for the negative phase. Likewise, mean cloudiness, wind speeds, and precipitation amounts increased, while mean sea level pressure and geopotential heights decreased. The pressure decrease resulted in a deepening of the Aleutian low in winter and spring. The intensification of the Aleutian low increased the advection of relatively warm and moist air to Alaska and storminess over the state during winter and spring. The regime shift is also examined for its effect on the long-term temperature trends throughout the state. The trends that have shown climatic warming are strongly biased by the sudden shift in 1976 from the cooler regime to a warmer regime. When analyzing the total time period from 1951 to 2001, warming is observed; however, the 25-yr period trend analyses before 1976 (1951-75) and thereafter (1977-2001) both display cooling, with a few exceptions. In this paper, emphasis is placed on the importance of taking into account the sudden changes that result from abrupt climatic shifts, persistent regimes, and the possibility of cyclic oscillations, such as the PDO, in the analysis of long-term climate change in Alaska.

EU committee backs nutty law on "chemicals"

Every plant and animal is full of thousands of chemicals. Which ones do we pick out for testing?

An EU committee has endorsed tough new laws on chemicals, against the wishes of industry and European ministers. The European Parliament's environment committee backed a law which would force companies to replace dangerous substances where safer ones exist. Last year ministers from EU nations voted for a weaker version which would have merely "encouraged" substitution. Environmental groups have welcomed the decision but an industry group has warned of "pointless red tape".

The legislation, called Reach (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) will oblige manufacturers to demonstrate that about 30,000 substances already in use are safe. Chemicals used in household products such as computers, toys and detergents will be tested for their impact on health and the environment for the first time. Companies will have to register all chemicals they produce or import, and get authorisation for the most dangerous substances.

This much has been agreed by all parties; disagreement has centred on what action manufacturers will have to take on chemicals found to pose a hazard. Whereas the European Council of Ministers backed demands from industry for the softer option of encouraging substitution, the environment committee has now endorsed mandatory replacement with a safer and economically viable alternative if it exists.

An amendment proposed by Italian MEP Guido Sacconi would also oblige companies to demonstrate that the benefits of hazardous substances outweigh the risks. Endorsement of the committee's stance by the Parliament itself would put two of the EU's central institutions at loggerheads.

"The substitution principle is clearly the cornerstone of the legislation," Mr Sacconi told reporters following the committee's decision. "If there's a safer alternative and if it's economically viable, that alternative must be used."

Environmental groups, which had been dismayed by the stance taken by the Council of Ministers in December, reacted warmly to the committee's vote. "It sends a strong message back to the Council [of Ministers] that MEPs remain determined that chemicals of very high concern should be replaced with safer alternatives whenever possible," said a coalition of campaign groups including WWF and Greenpeace in a statement. "This legal obligation is essential to drive innovation of safer chemicals, in order to end the build-up of harmful substances in our bodies and the environment."

But the Union of European Community Industries (Unice) said the vote would produce "serious problems" for industry. "A mandatory substitution principle, even if the risk is proved to be adequately controlled, adds pointless red tape and puts industrial processes at risk with no environmental or health benefits," it said. Industrial and environmental groups are expected to continue lobbying lawmakers; the EU wants to finalise Reach early next year.



All the experts made wrong forecasts. And if they cannot predict a few months ahead ....?

The weatherman got it wrong again, and this time he disrupted more than a picnic. In May, U.S. government and private forecasters warned of another dire Atlantic hurricane season. Coming on the heels of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the forecasts kept oil prices near a record for months. They scared away some insurance investors in a year the companies may end up turning in higher profits. And hedge funds like Amaranth Advisors LLC gambled big that natural gas prices would climb -- and lost.

No hurricanes have struck the U.S. coast so far this year, deflating natural gas prices. This week, one of the most closely watched forecasters, Colorado State University, said it had overstated the hurricane risk. The bungled forecasts shed light on what happens when energy traders, investors and, in some cases, the news media, rely too heavily on an inexact science. "That's the nature of the game when it comes to forecasting," says Philip Klotzbach, the 26-year-old research associate who is the lead author of the Colorado State hurricane report. "We did the best we could with the information we had."

Colorado State, based in Fort Collins, is part of a cottage industry of weather forecasters, from governments and universities to private firms. A U.S. National Weather Service Web site lists 322 "commercial weather vendors." Their reports are pored over by traders in the $6 billion- a-day natural gas futures market, insurers calculating what to charge policyholders, investors judging how much to pay for insurance stocks and, of course, by coastal residents. The university's hurricane reports have been considered a bellwether because of the reputation of their founder, William Gray. He got his start as a U.S. Air Force meteorologist in the 1950s and developed the first seasonal forecasts for tropical storms in the 1980s. Gray, 76, has lately ceded some responsibility for the reports to Klotzbach, a graduate student in atmospheric sciences, and has spent more time researching whether global warming is intensifying hurricanes. By contending there is no connection between global warming and hurricanes, Gray has drawn criticism from some colleagues in the field.

In many years, "Dr. Gray's Tropical Storm Forecast," the title of a Colorado State Web site where the free report is updated monthly during the hurricane season, proved uncannily accurate. Early in 2002, 2003 and 2004, the reports correctly predicted the number of named storms in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico for the entire year. The National Weather Service gives tropical storms a name, running through the alphabet each year starting with A, once they sustain winds of 39 miles (63 kilometers) per hour. The storms are classed as hurricanes when winds exceed 73 mph. Last year, when a record 28 named storms formed in the Atlantic, the Colorado State report sounded an early alarm, warning in May 2005 of "a well-above-average hurricane season" and predicting 15 named storms. That track record is one reason this year's first forecast, published in April, drew so much attention. "We foresee another very active Atlantic basin hurricane season," Klotzbach and Gray wrote. They predicted 17 named storms, five of them intense hurricanes. The paper said there was an 81 percent chance of a major hurricane striking the U.S. coastline. It put the risk of one of them hitting the Gulf Coast, the center of U.S. oil production, at 47 percent.

Other reports took a similar view. The federal government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in May predicted 13 to 16 named storms. Risk Management Solutions of Newark, California, which helps insurers set rates, said in March that an insurer that expected $100 in annual storm claims for a property in the U.S. Southeast before 2004 should assume an average of $150 a year through 2010.

The price of crude oil futures reached a record $78.40 in July. Hurricane fears also propped up natural gas prices, which touched a record $15.78 in December. At one point after Katrina and Rita, all of the Gulf's oil production and 80 percent of its gas output was shut. While natural gas prices fell through midyear, as of late August they were still about $7, several times higher than the pre-Katrina lows. "Worries of a repeat were a major factor in keeping prices high this summer," says Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts.

Gray's forecast helped seal the case for some traders, says Guy Gleichmann, president of United Strategic Investors Group, a futures broker in Hollywood, Florida. "When you get a specialist like that and others saying there's going to be a very active storm season, it did build up the bullishness," he says. Insurers, already reeling from Katrina, raised prices to recoup last year's losses. Katrina alone cost $40.6 billion. All 2005 hurricanes cost $57.3 billion, according to the Jersey City, New Jersey-based Insurance Services Office Inc., which surveys insurers. Prices for commercial properties along the U.S. coast rose as much as 500 percent in the second quarter this year, according to a survey by the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers. The biggest U.S. commercial property insurance unit of American International Group Inc., the world's largest insurer, raised rates an average of 50 percent. Storm worries prompted insurers to sell a record number of catastrophe bonds, which pay out in the event of specific disasters. The protection comes at a price: high interest rates. When Swiss Re sold $950 million of the bonds in June, it offered yields as much as 39 percentage points over the London interbank offer rate, or Libor, says Martin Bisping, head of risk-sharing at the Zurich-based reinsurer. The industry expects $4 billion of the bonds to be sold this year, triple the number in 2005.

Some investors stayed away from insurers. The Standard & Poor's 500 Property & Casualty Insurance Index fell 2.8 percent this year through Aug. 15, compared with a 3 percent advance in the S&P 500 Index. "After two years of catastrophe losses, people start to think that's a normal state of affairs and they start investing that way," says Eric Holmes, who helps manage $21 billion at Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Asset Management, including the shares of Allstate Corp. "The Colorado State report reinforced the idea that this would be a normal level of risks." Yet little in the way of storms materialized. As of this week, no hurricanes had made landfall in the U.S. Hurricane Ernesto briefly threatened the Florida coast in August before weakening to a tropical storm and causing $100 million in damage in Virginia. Only nine named storms formed in the Atlantic. The Colorado State researchers said in an Oct. 3 report that the greatest danger to the U.S. from hurricanes this year was over.

"So Much for the Hurricane Forecasters," A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. analyst Paul Newsome wrote in a Sept. 12 research report, raising earnings estimates for Hamilton, Bermuda-based Ace Ltd., Allstate and other U.S. insurers. Seven of the 10 members of the S&P Property and Casualty Insurance Index will earn more this year than last, according to the brokerage Fox-Pitt, Kelton Inc. in London. Since mid-August, the S&P Property & Casualty Insurance Index has gained 9.2 percent, beating the S&P 500's 4.5 percent increase.

"In hindsight, we should have bought more insurance stocks," Holmes says. "We were cautious on not having too much weight in property-exposed stocks." Some energy traders were also re-thinking. Natural gas futures in late September touched a four-year low of $4.20.

Klotzbach says he and Gray still aren't sure why their forecast was so wrong. Gray didn't respond to a phone message and an e-mail seeking comment. The main factor may have been an unexpected El Nino, a warming of Pacific Ocean waters that suppresses the formation of Atlantic hurricanes, Klotzbach says. The warming had never occurred so suddenly and so late in the hurricane season -- typically June through November -- he says.


Drought caused by government??

That's what the Australian Green party claims. That Australia has always had punishing droughts and big bushfires is ignored:

Drought and bushfires ravaging Australia are the devastating outcomes of global warming, the Australian Greens said. Bushfires are raging in South Australia and Victoria, while firefighters have managed to bring blazes in suburban Hobart under control overnight. And drought has a tight grip on much of Australia, as farmers prepare to harvest significantly reduced winter crops.

Greens leader Bob Brown said the fires and drought were the result of the Federal Government's massive environmental mismanagement. "What I would call the Howard-enhanced drought and bushfire season. It's a very serious situation that the Australia nation faces," Senator Brown told reporters today. "We are going to have enormous economic, environmental and social damage done to this nation over the coming century."

Senator Brown said the only way for Australia to haul in global warming was through a revolution in dealing with climate change. "We need a revolution in politics in this country to not only catch up with world's best practice(with renewable energy and energy conservation), but to get behind those industries in this country which can technologically and otherwise help us to recover ground and deal with climate change."

Leading Nationals senator Ron Boswell said no coup d'etat was necessary. "Drought's always a problem, it's been a problem for about the last six or seven years, and I think we're doing as much as we can on it," Senator Boswell told reporters.



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

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

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


12 October, 2006

Inhofe correct on global warming

Comment by David Deming, a scientist who also knows history:

Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe has been taking a lot of heat lately for his skeptical stance on global warming. He's been called a "social dinosaur" for his failure to accept the politically correct view. But in my opinion, Sen. Inhofe is absolutely correct to be skeptical. As the Enlightenment philosopher Denis Diderot said, "skepticism is the first step towards truth."

I'm a geophysicist who has conducted and published climate studies in top-rank scientific journals. My perspective on Sen. Inhofe and the issue of global warming is informed not only by my knowledge of climate science, but also by my studies of the history and philosophy of science.

The media hysteria on global warming has been generated by journalists who don't understand the provisional and uncertain nature of scientific knowledge. Science changes. For years we were told that drinking coffee was bad for our health and would increase our risk for heart disease. But more recent studies have shown that not only is coffee safe for our hearts, it can decrease the risk of liver cancer and is chock full of healthy antioxidants.

I read in the Edmond Sun Oct. 1 an article by an economist which indicated that temperatures are now higher than at any time in the past 12,000 years. The fact that the thermometer wasn't invented until the year 1714 ought to give us pause when evaluating this remarkable claim. Reconstructions of past temperatures are not measurements, but estimates. These estimates are based on innumerable interpretations and uncertain assumptions, all invisible to someone who only reads the headline. Better studies -- completely ignored by the major media -- have shown that late-twentieth-century temperatures are not anomalous or unusually warm.

I also read last week that in a mere 50 years mean global temperatures on Earth will be higher than they have been for the last million years. We all know that in recent years weather forecasts have become more accurate. But meteorologists can't predict what the temperature will be in 30 days. How is it that we are supposed to believe that they can reliably forecast what the temperature will be in 50 years? They can't, because Earth's climate system is complex and poorly understood.

It is not surprising that some scientists today find evidence to support global warming. True believers always find confirming evidence. In the late 18th century, a school of geologists known as Neptunists became convinced that all of the rocks of the Earth's crust had been precipitated from water. British geologist Robert Jameson characterized the supporting evidence for Neptunism as "incontrovertible." The Neptunists were completely wrong, but able to explain away any evidence that appeared to contradict their theory. A skeptic pointed out that not all rocks had their genesis in the ocean because he had observed molten lava from a volcano cool and solidify into rock. Unperturbed, the Neptunists calmly explained that the heat of the volcano had merely melted a rock that had been originally generated in water.

Around 1996, I became aware of how corrupt and ideologically driven current climate research can be. A major researcher working in the area of climate change confided in me that the factual record needed to be altered so that people would become alarmed over global warming. He said, "We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period."

The Medieval Warm Period was a time of unusually warm weather that began around 1000 AD and persisted until a cold period known as the "Little Ice Age" took hold in the 14th and 15th centuries. The warmer climate of the Medieval Warm Period was accompanied by a remarkable flowering of prosperity, knowledge, and art in Europe. But the existence of the Medieval Warm Period was an "inconvenient truth" for true believers in global warming. It needed to be erased from history so that people could become convinced that present day temperatures were truly anomalous. Unfortunately, the prostitution of science to environmental ideology is all too common.

Sen. James Inhofe is not only correct in his view on global warming, but courageous to insist on truth, objectivity, and sound science. Truth in science doesn't depend on human consensus or political correctness. The fact that the majority of journalists and pundits bray like sheep is meaningless. Galileo, another "social dinosaur," said "the crowd of fools who know nothing is infinite."


(David Deming is a geophysicist, an adjunct scholar with the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (, and an associate professor of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma)


The entire global warming scare is based on similar arbitrary "models"

We are used to politicians suppressing the truth. When scientists do it as well, we are in trouble. Not one of the Government's senior advisers, from Sir David King, the chief scientist, downwards, has yet dared to confirm in public what most experts in private now accept, that the mass slaughter of farm animals in the 2001 foot-and-mouth outbreak was not only unnecessary and inhumane, but was also based on false statistics, bad science and wrong deductions.

The mistakes that were made in attempting to control the outbreak are laid bare in a devastating paper recently compiled by Paul Kitching, one of the world's leading veterinary experts, and published by the World Organisation for Animal Health. It finds that, of the ten million animals slaughtered, more than a third were perfectly healthy; out of the 10,000 or so farms where sheep were killed, only 1,300 were infected with the disease; scientists were wrong to claim that the FMD virus was being spread through airborne infection; the epidemic had reached its peak before the culling began; the infamous 3km killing zone was without justification; estimates of infected premises were little better than guesswork.

The language used in Dr Kitching's report has a controlled anger about it. He talks of "a culling policy driven by unvalidated predictive models", mentions the "public disgust with the magnitude of the slaughter" and concludes: "The UK experience provides a salutary warning of how models [statistics used to predict the course of an epidemic] can be abused in the interests of scientific opportunism."

Those models used by the Government were badly flawed because they relied on computers rather than advice from vets and virologists who understood the nature of the disease. "No model will produce the right output when fed the wrong input," says the report. The Government, late in reacting to the outbreak, fatally moved decision-making away from FMD experts to the Cabinet Office briefing room (Cobra). The result was "carnage by computer" , as one farmer put it - a slaughter that was "grossly excessive", according to the report.

There are vital lessons here about how we should control future outbreaks, avoiding the horrendous cost and slaughter of the last. Thus far, there is no sign that those lessons have been learnt.



Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, last night warned growing industrialisation and prosperity in the developing world is accelerating climate change and risks global disaster. She told the UN's annual General Assembly in New York: "If we all try to free ride, we will end up in free fall, with accelerating climate change the result of our collective failure. "If we don't act on climate change, we risk undermining the basis of the prosperity and security we are seeking to achieve."

Ms Beckett highlighted China's transition into an economic powerhouse as an example of the dilemma of matching progress with conservation. "No-one wants this growth to stop. But it is based in China as elsewhere, on a rapidly increasing use of the fossil fuels creating climate change."

Her call comes amid signs of increasing strain between developed and developing nations over who is blame for climate change. Developing nations such as China insist they must have the right to increase industrialisation, and therefore pollution, to catch up with the prosperity of the West. The United States, the greatest single global polluter, continues to refuse to sign up to the Kyoto agreement limiting emissions.

Ms Beckett said the solution to squaring the circle of prosperity without pollution lay with new technology. "We have much of the technology we need to move to a low-carbon economy. We must deploy it more rapidly."



A European Union threshold to avoid dangerous climate change is proving a more difficult goal to achieve than anticipated, according to Foreign secretary Margaret Beckett. The EU has set a goal that global average temperatures should not exceed 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above preindustrial levels if dangerous interference with the climate is to be avoided. "The scientific discussion now suggests that is more difficult to achieve than thought," Beckett told reporters on Thursday at a meeting at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "That doesn't mean the EU has given up the goal, it simply means that there is a growing recognition that actually it is a tougher task than had been anticipated."

Late last month the head of the International Energy Agency Claude Mandil said it may be too late to keep within the threshold. The IEA set out six ways for dealing with global warming in a recent report on energy technology options, issued as part of its role as energy adviser to leading industrialised countries. European university scientists have told Reuters that even the most ambitious of those may not be enough to prevent a 2 degree rise in global temperatures.

The EU's Emissions Trading Scheme launched last year is the world's first market to buy and sell the right to emit greenhouse gas carbon dioxide amid mandatory limits on power plants and industries.



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

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

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


11 October, 2006


From Aynsley Kellow []

Dear Mr Ward,

I must say I was somewhat amazed at your letter to Nick Thomas of ExxonMobil of 4 September. That such an august institution as the Royal Society is attempting to suppress scientific argument is one thing, and that it relies upon notions of corporate influence that would flunk any reasonable examination in political science yet another.

I could write you a lengthy discourse on what is wrong with your line of reasoning, touching on the $1 billion Exxon is spending on its own corporate response to climate change, the amount it donates to Stanford University alone to research solutions (an order of magnitude larger than that your analysis indicates Exxon provided to organisations you consider 'misinformed' the public), and so on. I will save such an analysis for my own research on the politics of climate science, for which your letter will constitute an excellent example of attempts to suppress dissent.

Instead, let me address the basis of your claims about the IPCC - and here I write as an expert reviewer for the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.

You take issue with Exxon's statement that the IPCC relies for its conclusions 'on expert judgment rather than objective, reproducible statistical methods.' You cite a conclusion to Ch12 of TAR stating that 'most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greeenhouse gas concentration.' You do not seem to appreciate that Working Group I adopted quite specific meanings, specified in the Summary for Policy Makers, where expressions such as 'likely' quite explicitly refer to the subjective level of confidence of the Chapter Lead Authors.

'Likely' quite specifically means that the Lead Authors believe there is a 66-90% chance that the science is true. The Exxon statement in its Corporate Citizenship Report that you cite is thus entirely consistent with the IPCC conclusion that you cite.

Sadly, we have now reached the point where the Royal Society is a less reliable source of scientific advice than Exxon Mobil. A sad day indeed.

I am copying this letter to Benny Peiser, who runs an excellent newsletter on such issues.

Professor Aynsley Kellow
School of Government
University of Tasmania


Greenpeace co-founder asks Britain's Royal Society to stop playing political blame game on global warming

Greenpeace co-founder and former leader Dr. Patrick Moore said the United Kingdom's Royal Society should stop playing a political blame game on global warming and retract its recent letter that smacks of a repressive and anti-intellectual attitude. "It appears to be the policy of the Royal Society to stifle dissent and silence anyone who may have doubts about the connection between global warming and human activity," said Dr. Moore, Chairman and Chief Scientist of Vancouver, Canada-based Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. "That kind of repression seems more suited to the Inquisition than to a modern, respected scientific body," said Moore.

In a letter dated September 4 and published this week in a London newspaper, the Royal Society's Bob Ward accused ExxonMobil of misleading the public by daring to question the link between human activity and increases in global temperatures.

Dr. Moore responded today in an open letter sent to the Royal Society: "Certainly the Royal Society would agree there is no scientific proof of causation between the human-induced increase in atmospheric CO2 and the recent global warming trend, a trend that has been evident for about 500 years (sic), long before the human-induced increase in CO2 was evident. "While I may agree with certain statements made by the IPCC, surely you and the Royal Society would respect my right to disagree with other statements or at least to call them into question."

Dr. Moore writes further, "I am sure the Royal Society is aware of the difference between an hypothesis and a theory. It is clear the contention that human-induced CO2 emissions and rising CO2 levels in the global atmosphere are the cause of the present global warming trend is an hypothesis that has not yet been elevated to the level of a proven theory. Causation has not been demonstrated in any conclusive way.

Dr. Moore also notes in the letter that while the Royal Society likes to quote from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the IPCC itself admits its conclusions are uncertain. "The Royal Society needs to retract its anti-intellectual and heavy-handed letter to ExxonMobil, and allow reasoned scientific debate on this issue," said Dr. Moore. Dr. Moore said he is speaking out on this issue because "the last thing the world needs, in the midst of a warming trend, is for the Royal Society to cast a chill over science." Dr. Moore and his firm Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. have no links, financial or otherwise, to ExxonMobil.



The debate between scientists in Boulder and Fort Collins over global warming heated up. Colorado State University's William Gray, known for his hurricane predictions, said, "it's a big scam." Kevin Trenberth, lead climate analyst at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, is just as convinced it is a valid threat. "Bill Gray is completely unreasonable," Trenberth said. "He has a mind block on this," he told The Denver Post. "Some of this noise won't stop until some of these scientists are dead," said James Hansen, head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City.

The dispute is no surprise. Scientists have argued over whether the world was flat and the earth the center of the university, evolution, and many other issues. Trenberth and other scientists at NCAR are predicting a world with temperatures increasing so much they produce more powerful storms, melting polar ice and higher seas.

To Gray and Roger Pielke Sr., also a CSU climate professor emeritus, the data used to justify this theory is questionable. Pielke said there are too many things that can affect the readings generated by thermometers to trust them. Gray recalls past projections of doom that never came to pass. He said in the mid-70s some predicted a new ice age. NCAR researcher Warren Washington applauds them for speaking their minds. "Science needs skeptics."

But Washington, who is 70 and a pioneer in climate modeling, adds that scientists have many more tools to monitor climate now. Chris Folland, a researcher at Britain's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction, said the data points in one direction. "We've shown that the climate change is a true thing," he said. "We've done that with global averages, since that was easiest." "The American government might not agree," Folland said. "Most American scientists do."



A great deal of ink and electrons have been wasted in trying to explain what it is or is not that we should do to try and reduce emissions of CO2 in the United States. One fascinating paper just published provides perhaps the simplest answer of all: just wait for the Baby Boomers to get old.

Given that, past a certain age, virility now comes in blue pills rather than by racing muscle cars, that shuffleboard uses rather less gas than water skiing and the general environmental impact of a generation hobbling towards death is rather less than that same group in vigorous youth, the authors, led by Michael Dalton, seem to think that (along with a few other assumptions), the simple passage of time will reduce CO2 emissions in the US by as much as 40%.

Now of course, one single paper isn't quite enough for us to simply go "Phew!" and declare the issue closed but this is, I hope, the beginning of the next stage of research into the whole area of climate change.

Just to reiterate (before the usual trolls arrive) I am largely Lomborgian in my view of climate change. It's happening, we're at least partly to do with it and the important questions are all to do with what we do about it. In common with Bjorn Lomborg my worries about the science of the issue are nothing at all to do with computer models, satellite measurements or anything of that nature. They are about the economic models (in the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios, or SRES) which provide the data which is then plugged into those models.

One area that has always puzzled me deeply about those SRES models is that population was treated as endogenous to the models. In plainer speech, what the population level was going to be was simply a given, not something that came about from the interactions within the model itself. Which, as I say, is puzzling, for the interactions of population size and the economic wealth of that population are the very things which determine the level of emissions (as moderated by the technology used, of course). Further, some of the population estimates for the SRES were especially commissioned from experts in endogenous estimates (that is, ones that do come from the interactions within the models) but they were not asked for such endogenous ones, but for exogenous ones.

Ok, sorry, I'll stop using $10 words for a bit. Why this is important is because we think we know a few things about what drives shifts in population size. At the heart of it is wealth (as defined broadly, not in purely monetary terms). As increasing wealth leads to better sanitation and medicine, as it has over the past century and more, there is a huge fall in the death rate, most especially amongst children and the women giving birth to them. This leads to a surge in the population and along with the increased life spans in general gives us the "demographic shift". What we think moderates this over time (and why we don't end up with ever accelerating population growth, unlike what Paul Ehrlich has been preaching for decades) is that the very wealth that allows this to happen changes people's behavior.

If, as Darwinian theory would have it (if you prefer Genesis "go forth and multiply" is subject to the same constraints), the aim and purpose of life is to have grandchildren who then go on to have more of the same themselves, then when most children die before they reach maturity then you'd better have a lot of them to ensure your lineage. If almost all will survive to breed themselves, as is true now (more accurately, survive to be capable of breeding, if they should so wish) then you need to have far fewer: the opportunity cost of having few children has fallen. Further, our new found wealth offers (women especially) many more choices than just pumping out the next generation. The opportunity costs of having many children have risen, as a large family inevitably chokes off some of those other opportunities.

It might be worth noting here that it is not just the invention of modern contraception that has led to these smaller family sizes. Not only were effective contraceptives known long before the pill (effective if inconvenient) all the surveys done have shown that it is desired family size that has fallen. It is attitudes that have changed, the new technology most certainly helping in reaching the desired goals, but it isn't the contraceptive pills and salves that have changed that desired family size.

So if we, as we think we do, have a direct relationship between the wealth of a society and the growth or shrinkage of the size of the population, if we were trying to find out what the world was going to be like in a century's time, we'd rather like our models to include that relationship, would we not? Which, as noted above, the SRES models do not.

This is why I very much welcome this paper in Energy Economics. It isn't directly to do with the impact of wealth upon population, rather, the impact of an ageing population upon energy demand. The inclusion of demography into our models of the future, something wholly to be desired. As the abstract states:

"Changes in the age composition of U.S. households over the next several decades could affect energy use and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the most important greenhouse gas. This article incorporates population age structure into an energy-economic growth model with multiple dynasties of heterogeneous households. The model is used to estimate and compare effects of population aging and technical change on baseline paths of U.S. energy use, and CO2 emissions. Results show that population aging reduces long-term emissions, by almost 40% in a low population scenario, and effects of aging on emissions can be as large, or larger than, effects of technical change in some cases."

You will, if you read around the internet and the newspapers, see repeated protestations that the debate over climate change is now over, that the science is settled. I'm afraid that I don't think that's actually true: I agree that the climate models are getting better, that previously noted anomalies are being resolved, but not that science is either over or stopped. Rather, that we now need more such science as this paper, to refine the numbers we feed into those computer models.



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

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

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


10 October, 2006

The turtle war

If people were not allowed to own chickens and if chicken eggs and meat could not be legally sold, how many chickens would there be? The reason chickens, cattle, catfish, and goldfish are not endangered is because they are owned by private parties, bred and raised in captivity, and sold for commercial profit - hence there are billions of these animals. The poor sea turtle is endangered precisely because the global environmental lobby refuses to let sea turtles be commercially farmed and marketed.

Four decades ago, you might well have bet that Cayman would eventually be known best for its turtle farms, rather than as a tourist destination and one of the world's largest financial centers, but economically ignorant environmentalists, who tell us they love sea turtles, have ensured there will be fewer of them.

Sea turtles have been around since the age of dinosaurs, a hundred million years or more. The typical weight of a nesting green female sea turtle is around 300 pounds. She will drag herself up on a beach at night, dig a hole above the high-tide mark, and most often lay between 100 and 135 eggs at a time. She may do this up to seven or so times a season, becoming almost an egg-laying machine.

The eggs typically take six to eight weeks to hatch. The hatchlings first must dig themselves out of the sand, and then scurry down to the water without serving as tasty meals for raccoons and sea birds. Mortally rates are extremely high for the hatchlings through their first couple of years of life. It is estimated fewer than 1in 1,000 sea turtles makes it to sexual maturity. Yet, as many as 30 percent of 2-year-old turtles make it to maturity.

Sea turtles have great economic value. The meat is low in fat and high in protein, and is very tasty (much like veal). Turtle soup was a favorite of Winston Churchill's and millions of others. Turtle leather is attractive and durable. The shell has many uses, including jewelry, and turtle oil has been used in cosmetics.

Sea turtles, like many animals and fish not raised in farms, are over-exploited because no one owns them; and as a result, their numbers in the wild have been declining for hundreds of years. The turtles also have been suffering from a loss of habitat. Their nesting areas, tropical beaches, are also preferred by humans for living and leisure. Human activities, such as boating, fishing and beach sports, take their toll of turtle eggs and hatchlings. As the human population grows, particularly in tropical beach areas, the turtle is increasingly pushed out.

The solution put forward by many environmentalists was to ban any global trade in turtle products, which was eventually accomplished in the 1970s. The problem is the turtle does not recognize national borders, and hence protection does not work because low-income countries have little incentive or means to stop turtle poaching or more profitable uses for beach areas.

In the 1960s, several visionaries and entrepreneurs were able to see the potential and benefits of turtle farming. They established a turtle farm in Cayman with the goal of selling the meat and other turtle products for profit, while releasing substantial quantities of 2-year-old turtles into the sea to replenish wild stocks. (If turtle eggs are incubated and the hatchlings are raised to 2 or 3 years of age, mortality rates are very low.)

After considerable time and expense (it takes a sea turtle many years to grow to maturity), the founders of the turtle farm proved the concept's viability. Unfortunately, by the time they were able to develop what could have been a profitable business, the endangered species act was passed in the U.S., as well as similar laws in other countries. These laws, in essence, prohibited the international marketing of turtle products which doomed the Cayman project.

Eventually, the Cayman government took over the farm, which it has now turned into a major tourist attraction and turtle research center. The bad news is that thousands of workers in tropical countries are denied jobs in what could be very profitable agricultural businesses, millions of potential consumers around the globe eat less healthy meats and the poor sea turtle continues to be endangered - all because of economically ignorant environmentalists and their political sycophants. We know socialism keeps people poor, but socialism (by not allowing private ownership) also keeps many animals unnecessarily scarce.


MIT's inconvenient scientist

Speech codes are rare in the industrialized, Western democracies. In Germany and Austria, for instance, it is forbidden to proselytize Nazi ideology or trivialize the Holocaust. Given those countries' recent histories, that is a restraint on free expression we can live with.

More curious are our own taboos on the subject of global warming. I sat in a roomful of journalists 10 years ago while Stanford climatologist Stephen Schneider lectured us on a big problem in our profession: soliciting opposing points of view. In the debate over climate change, Schneider said, there simply was no legitimate opposing view to the scientific consensus that man - made carbon emissions drive global warming. To suggest or report otherwise, he said, was irresponsible.

Indeed. I attended a week's worth of lectures on global warming at the Chautauqua Institution last month. Al Gore delivered the kickoff lecture, and, 10 years later, he reiterated Schneider's directive. There is no science on the other side, Gore inveighed, more than once. Again, the same message: If you hear tales of doubt, ignore them. They are simply untrue.

I ask you: Are these convincing arguments? And directed at journalists, who are natural questioners and skeptics, of all people? What happens when you are told not to eat the apple, not to read that book, not to date that girl? Your interest is piqued, of course. What am I not supposed to know?

Here's the kind of information the ``scientific consensus" types don't want you to read. MIT's Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology Richard Lindzen recently complained about the ``shrill alarmism" of Gore's movie ``An Inconvenient Truth." Lindzen acknowledges that global warming is real, and he acknowledges that increased carbon emissions might be causing the warming -- but they also might not.

``We do not understand the natural internal variability of climate change" is one of Lindzen's many heresies, along with such zingers as ``the Arctic was as warm or warmer in 1940," ``the evidence so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average," and ``Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the early 19th century, and were advancing for several centuries before that. Since about 1970, many of the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are now advancing again. And, frankly, we don't know why."

When Lindzen published similar views in The Wall Street Journal this spring, environmentalist Laurie David, the wife of comedian Larry David, immediately branded him a ``shill." She resurrected a shopworn slur first directed against Lindzen by former Globe writer Ross Gelbspan, who called Lindzen a ``hood ornament" for the fossil fuels industry in a 1995 article in Harper's Magazine.

I decided to check out Lindzen for myself. He wasn't hard to find on the 16th floor of MIT's I.M. Pei-designed Building 54, and he answered as many questions as I had time to ask. He's no big fan of Gore's, having suffered through what he calls a ``Star Chamber" Congressional inquisition by the then senator . He said he accepted $10,000 in expenses and expert witness fees from fossil- fuel types in the 1990s, and has taken none of their money since.

He's smart. He's an effective debater. No wonder the Steve Schneiders and Al Gores of the world don't want you to hear from him. It's easier to call someone a shill and accuse him of corruption than to debate him on the merits.

While vacationing in Canada, I spotted a newspaper story that I hadn't seen in the United States. For no apparent reason, the state of California, Environmental Defense, and the Natural Resources Defense Council have dragged Lindzen and about 15 other global- warming skeptics into a lawsuit over auto- emissions standards. California et al . have asked the auto companies to cough up any and all communications they have had with Lindzen and his colleagues, whose research has been cited in court documents.

``We know that General Motors has been paying for this fake science exactly as the tobacco companies did," says ED attorney Jim Marston. If Marston has a scintilla of evidence that Lindzen has been trafficking in fake science, he should present it to the MIT provost's office. Otherwise, he should shut up.

``This is the criminalization of opposition to global warming," says Lindzen, who adds he has never communicated with the auto companies involved in the lawsuit. Of course Lindzen isn't a fake scientist, he's an inconvenient scientist. No wonder you're not supposed to listen to him.


Is Urban Sprawl an Urban Myth?

High-altitude photos combined with satellite images show that modern American cities are just bigger versions of older American cities.

As cities spread into surrounding territories, roadways clog, pollution increases, social inequities expand, and the costs of municipal services like sewers and the police rise. Or do they? University of Toronto economist Matthew Turner and his colleagues decided to quantify one component of change: urban sprawl. They compared satellite images of the entire continental United States in 1976 and 1992, the most recent year complete data were available, and divided the country into 8.7 billion 98-foot squares to examine the question in unprecedented detail.

Predictably, the photo evidence revealed that America has grown: Nearly 2 percent of the country was paved by 1992, for example, a third more than in 1976. Not so predictably, the percentage of growth that is sprawl is not increasing. "Although there is more development, on average, that development isn't any more scattered," Turner says. In other words, modern American cities are really just bigger versions of older American cities.

Turner's observations of individual cities are also surprising. Miami, for example, is about a third more compact than either New York or San Francisco, while Pittsburgh sprawls more than even Atlanta or Washington. He attributes about 25 percent of the difference to topographical factors like groundwater accessibility, weather, and mountains. The rest is pure human influence: Cities constructed during the automobile era are more scattered, while cities where employment is centralized and taxpayers shoulder more infrastructure costs tend to build on a relatively cheaper and more compact scale.

More here


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

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

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


9 October, 2006


Greenie Stalinists at work

Whoever thought that serious commentators would want it made illegal to have a row about the weather? One Australian columnist has proposed outlawing `climate change denial'. `David Irving is under arrest in Austria for Holocaust denial', she wrote. `Perhaps there is a case for making climate change denial an offence. It is a crime against humanity, after all.' Others have suggested that climate change deniers should be put on trial in the future, Nuremberg-style, and made to account for their attempts to cover up the `global warming.Holocaust'.

The message is clear: climate change deniers are scum. Their words are so wicked and dangerous that they must be silenced, or criminalised, or forced beyond the pale alongside those other crackpots who claim there was no Nazi Holocaust against the Jews. Perhaps climate change deniers should even be killed off, hanged like those evil men who were tried Nuremberg-style the first time around.

Whatever the truth about our warming planet, it is clear there is a tidal wave of intolerance in the debate about climate change which is eroding free speech and melting rational debate. There has been no decree from on high or piece of legislation outlawing climate change denial, and indeed there is no need to criminalise it, as the Australian columnist suggests. Because in recent months it has been turned into a taboo, chased out of polite society by a wink and a nod, letters of complaint, newspaper articles continually comparing climate change denial to Holocaust denial. An attitude of `You can't say that!' now surrounds debates about climate change, which in many ways is more powerful and pernicious than an outright ban. I am not a scientist or an expert on climate change, but I know what I don't like - and this demonisation of certain words and ideas is an affront to freedom of speech and open, rational debate.

The loaded term itself - `climate change denier' - is used to mark out certain people as immoral, untrustworthy. According to Richard D North, author most recently of Rich is Beautiful: A Very Personal Defence of Mass Affluence: `It is deeply pejorative to call someone a "climate change denier".it is a phrase designedly reminiscent of the idea of Holocaust denial - the label applied to those misguided or wicked people who believe, or claim to believe, the Nazis did not annihilate the Jews, and others, in very great numbers.' People of various views and hues tend to get lumped together under the umbrella put-down `climate change denier' - from those who argue the planet is getting hotter but we will be able to deal with it, to those who claim the planet is unlikely to get much hotter at all (4). On Google there are now over 80,000 search returns, and counting, for the phrase climate change denial.

Others take the tactic of openly labelling climate change deniers as cranks, possibly even people who might need their heads checked. In a speech last month, in which he said people `should be scared' about global warming, UK environment secretary David Miliband said `those who deny [climate change] are the flat-earthers of the twenty-first century'. Taking a similar tack, former US vice president-turned-green-warrior Al Gore recently declared: `Fifteen per cent of the population believe the moon landing was actually staged in a movie lot in Arizona and somewhat fewer still believe the Earth is flat. I think they all get together with the global warming deniers on a Saturday night and party.'

It is not only environmentalist activists and green-leaning writers who are seeking to silence climate change deniers/sceptics/critics/whatever you prefer. Last month the Royal Society - Britain's premier scientific academy founded in 1660, whose members have included some of the greatest scientists - wrote a letter to ExxonMobil demanding that the oil giant cut off its funding to groups that have `misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence'. It was the first time the Royal Society had ever written to a company complaining about its activities. The letter had something of a hectoring, intolerant tone: `At our meeting in indicated that ExxonMobil would not be providing any further funding to these organisations. I would be grateful if you could let me know when ExxonMobil plans to carry out this pledge.'

One could be forgiven for asking what business it is of the Royal Society to tell ExxonMobil whom it can and cannot support - just as we might balk if ExxonMobil tried to tell the Royal Society what to do. The Society claims it is merely defending a `scientific consensus.the evidence' against ExxonMobil's duplicitous attempts to play down global warming for its own oily self-interest. Yet some scientists have attacked the idea that there can ever be untouchable cast-iron scientific facts, which should be immune from debate or protected from oil-moneyed think-tanks. An open letter to the Society - signed by Tim Ball, a professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg, and others - argues that `scientific inquiry is unique because it requires falsifiability': `The beauty of science is that no issue is ever "settled", that no question is beyond being more fully understood, that no conclusion is immune to further experimentation. And yet for the first time in history, the Royal Society is shamelessly using the media to say emphatically: "case closed" on all issues related to climate change.'

Or as Charles Jones, an emeritus English professor at the University of Edinburgh, put it in a letter to a publication that recently lambasted climate change deniers, `[W]e are left with the feeling that [climate change] is a scientific model which is unfalsifiable and which has not been - and indeed cannot be - the subject of any theoretical counter-proposals whatsoever. As such, it must surely be unique in the history of science. Even a powerful model such as Relativity Theory has been the object of scientific debate and emendation.'

For all the talk of simply preserving the facts against climate change deniers, there is increasingly a pernicious moralism and authoritarianism in the attempts to silence certain individuals and groups. This is clear from the use of the term `climate change denier', which, as Charles Jones argued, is an attempt to assign any `doubters' with `the same moral repugnance one associates with Holocaust denial' (9). The Guardian columnist George Monbiot recently celebrated the `recanting' of both the tabloid Sun and the business bible The Economist on the issue of global warming. (`Recant' - an interesting choice of word. According to my OED it means `To withdraw, retract or renounce a statement, opinion or belief as erroneous, and esp. with formal or public confession of error in matters of religion.' Recanting is often what those accused before the Spanish Inquisition did to save their hides.) Pleased by the Sun and The Economist's turnaround, Monbiot wrote: `Almost everywhere, climate change denial now looks as stupid and as unacceptable as Holocaust denial.'

Earlier this year, when a correspondent for the American current affairs show 60 Minutes was asked why his various feature programmes on global warming did not include the views of global warming sceptics, he replied: `If I do an interview with Elie Wiesel, am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?' Here, climate change deniers are explicitly painted as the bad guys. He also argued that, `This isn't about politics...this is about sound science', and went so far as to claim that it would be problematic even to air the views of climate change sceptics: `There comes a point in journalism where striving for balance becomes irresponsible.'

Some take the moral equivalence between climate change denial and Holocaust denial to its logical conclusion. They argue that climate change deniers are actually complicit in a future Holocaust - the global warming Holocaust - and thus will have to be brought to trial in the future. Green author and columnist Mark Lynas writes: `I wonder what sentences judges might hand down at future international criminal tribunals on those who will be partially but directly responsible for millions of deaths from starvation, famine and disease in decades ahead. I put [their climate change denial] in a similar moral category to Holocaust denial - except that this time the Holocaust is yet to come, and we still have time to avoid it. Those who try to ensure we don't will one day have to answer for their crimes.'

There is something deeply repugnant in marshalling the Holocaust in this way, both to berate climate change deniers and also as a convenient snapshot of what is to come if the planet continues to get warmer. First, the evidence is irrefutable that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis; that is an historical event that has been thoroughly investigated, interrogated and proven beyond reasonable doubt. (Although as the American-Jewish academic and warrior against Holocaust denial, Deborah Lipstadt, has pointed out, even the Nazi Holocaust is not above debate and re-evalution; it is not a `theology'.) There is no such proof or evidence (how could there be?) that global warming will cause a similar calamity. Second, it is, yet again, a cynical attempt to close down debate. The H-word is uttered as a kind of moral absolute that no one could possibly question. We are all against what happened during the first Holocaust, so we will be against the `next Holocaust', too, right? And if not - if you do not take seriously the coming `global warming Holocaust' - then you are clearly wicked, the equivalent of the David Irvings of this world, someone who should possibly even be locked up or certainly tried at a future date. At least laws against Holocaust denial (which, as a supporter of free speech, I am opposed to) chastise individuals for lying about a known and proven event; by contrast, the turning of climate change denial into a taboo raps people on the knuckles for questioning events, or alleged events, that have not even occurred yet. It is pre-emptive censorship. They are reprimanded not for lying, but for doubting, for questioning. If this approach was taken across the board, then spiked - motto: Question Everything - would be in for a rough ride.

Sometimes there is a knowing authoritarianism in green activism. The posters advertising George Monbiot's new book are targeted at various celebrities and businessmen judged to be living less than ethical green lives, with the words `GEORGE IS WATCHING YOU' (12). It comes straight out of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Some institutions employ Orwellian doublespeak when they use the word `facts'. They are not talking about submitting theories or hypotheses or evidence for public debate and possibly public approval - they are talking about using `facts' precisely to stifle public debate and change the way people think and behave.

So in a report on global warming titled Warm Words: How Are We Telling the Climate Story and Can We Tell it Better?, the British think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research argued that `the task of climate change agencies is not to persuade by rational argument but in effect to develop and nurture a new "common sense".. [We] need to work in a more shrewd and contemporary way, using subtle techniques of engagement.. The "facts" need to be treated as being so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken.' The IPPR proposes treating us not as free-thinking citizens who should be engaged, but as consumers who should be sold these `unspoken facts': `Ultimately, positive climate behaviours need to be approached in the same way as marketeers approach acts of buying and consuming.. It amounts to treating climate-friendly activity as a brand that can be sold. This is, we believe, the route to mass behaviour changes.'

Nurturing a new common sense? Changing mass behaviour? Behind the talk of facts and figures we can glimpse the reality: an authoritarian campaign that has no interest whatsoever in engaging us in debate but rather thinks up `shrewd' ways to change the way we behave. From the description of facts as `so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken' to the lumping together of climate change deniers with Holocaust deniers - and even Holocaust practitioners - we can see a creeping clampdown on any genuine, open debate about climate change, science and society. This represents a dangerous denigration of free speech. When George W Bush said after 9/11 `You're either with us or against us', he was widely criticised. Yet greens, think-tanks, reputable institutions and government ministers are using precisely the same tactic, drawing a line between good and proper people who accept the facts about climate change and those moral lepers who do not; between those who submit to having their common sense nurtured by the powers-that-be and those who dare to doubt or debate.

If anything, the greens' black-and-white divide is worse than Bush's. At least his was based on some kind of values, allowing us the opportunity to say yes or no to them; the greens' divide is based on `facts', which means that those who decide that they are `against' rather than `with' can be labelled liars, deniers or crackpots like moon-landing conspiracy theorists or anti-Semitic historians.

Effectively, campaigners and officials are using scientific facts - over which there is still disagreement - to shut down what ought to be a political debate about what humans need and want. This is the worst of it. Whatever side you take in the climate change clash of facts, this undermining of debate should be a cause of concern. In place of a human-centred discussion of priorities and solutions we have an unconvincing battle over the facts between two sides - between those in the majority who claim that their facts show the planet is getting a lot hotter and it will be a disaster, and those in the minority, the `deniers', who say the planet is getting a little hotter and it won't be so bad. We could urgently do with a proper debate that prioritises real people's aspirations. If parts of the planet are likely to be flooded, then where can we build new cities and how can we transport the people affected by the floods to those cities? If natural disasters are going to become more frequent, then how can we urgently and efficiently provide poorer parts of the world with the kind of buildings and technology that will allow them to ride out such disasters, as millions do in America every year?

We need to elevate the human interest over the dead discussion of fatalistic facts - and challenge the `You can't say that!' approach that is strangling debate and giving rise to a new authoritarianism.


Exploding Stars Influence Climate Of Earth

A team at the Danish National Space Center has discovered how cosmic rays from exploding stars can help to make clouds in the atmosphere. The results support the theory that cosmic rays influence Earth's climate.

An essential role for remote stars in everyday weather on Earth has been revealed by an experiment at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen. It is already well-established that when cosmic rays, which are high-speed atomic particles originating in exploded stars far away in the Milky Way, penetrate Earth's atmosphere they produce substantial amounts of ions and release free electrons. Now, results from the Danish experiment show that the released electrons significantly promote the formation of building blocks for cloud condensation nuclei on which water vapour condenses to make clouds. Hence, a causal mechanism by which cosmic rays can facilitate the production of clouds in Earth's atmosphere has been experimentally identified for the first time.

The Danish team officially announced their discovery on Wednesday in Proceedings of the Royal Society A, published by the Royal Society, the British national academy of science. The experiment called SKY (Danish for "cloud") took place in a large reaction chamber which contained a mixture of gases at realistic concentrations to imitate the chemistry of the lower atmosphere. Ultraviolet lamps mimicked the action of the Sun's rays. During experimental runs, instruments traced the chemical action of the penetrating cosmic rays in the reaction chamber.

The data revealed that electrons released by cosmic rays act as catalysts, which significantly accelerate the formation of stable, ultra-small clusters of sulphuric acid and water molecules which are building blocks for the cloud condensation nuclei. A vast numbers of such microscopic droplets appeared, floating in the air in the reaction chamber. "We were amazed by the speed and efficiency with which the electrons do their work of creating the building blocks for the cloud condensation nuclei," says team leader Henrik Svensmark, who is Director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research within the Danish National Space Center. "This is a completely new result within climate science."

The experimental results lend strong empirical support to the theory proposed a decade ago by Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen that cosmic rays influence Earth's climate through their effect on cloud formation. The original theory rested on data showing a strong correlation between variation in the intensity of cosmic radiation penetrating the atmosphere and the amount of low-altitude clouds. Cloud cover increases when the intensity of cosmic rays grows and decreases when the intensity declines. It is known that low-altitude clouds have an overall cooling effect on the Earth's surface. Hence, variations in cloud cover caused by cosmic rays can change the surface temperature. The existence of such a cosmic connection to Earth's climate might thus help to explain past and present variations in Earth's climate.

Interestingly, during the 20th Century, the Sun's magnetic field which shields Earth from cosmic rays more than doubled, thereby reducing the average influx of cosmic rays. The resulting reduction in cloudiness, especially of low-altitude clouds, may be a significant factor in the global warming Earth has undergone during the last century. However, until now, there has been no experimental evidence of how the causal mechanism linking cosmic rays and cloud formation may work. "Many climate scientists have considered the linkages from cosmic rays to clouds to climate as unproven," comments Eigil Friis-Christensen, who is now Director of the Danish National Space Center. "Some said there was no conceivable way in which cosmic rays could influence cloud cover. The SKY experiment now shows how they do so, and should help to put the cosmic-ray connection firmly onto the agenda of international climate research."


The Movement

Comment by Prof. Brignell:

It is the great movement with no name. It embraces the name of science but eschews its method. It embraces the method of religion but eschews its gods. It loathes industry but wallows in generous funding that was once generated by industry. It imposes rigid political correctness and despises individual freedom.

It calls itself green, but in action is more like a giant fungus, its hidden mycelia creeping through the substrata of society, every now and then throwing up a prominence in the form of a mushroom with the capability of accelerating proliferation by liberating copious spores (an editorship here, a society president there, a party leader elsewhere). The secret of the success of this movement is summed up in those immortal lines of Tennyson:

That a lie which is all a lie may be met and fought with outright,
But a lie which is part a truth is a harder matter to fight.

Thus the seminal book by Rachel Carson exploited the fact that some farmers were abusing the miraculous discovery of DDT to create an irrational hatred of that substance. Only now, many millions of deaths later, is the world facing up to the awfulness of what it has done. The brilliant work of Sir Austin Bradford Hill in establishing the correlation between cigarette smoking and lung cancer led to tobacco being branded as the evil icon of The Movement and gave birth to a train of debased science whose influence has spread far beyond the draconian and unjustified ban of that substance: for the need to protect the depressed standards of statistical practice needed to create and maintain the necessary panic has caused them to spread into other areas of science and medicine, with appalling consequences mainly in the form of coercion of the masses into "appropriate" forms of behaviour.

Above all there is the imaginary monster of "climate change"; with carbon, the very stuff of life, perversely branded as the original sin. Again it is summed up in immortal words, this time by H L Mencken:

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

The more the scientific basis of global warming is debunked by reason and evidence, the more it is pressed as an article of faith by media that have been brought under almost total control by The Movement. Blanket censorship in the mainstream media is virtually complete, and the resistance movement exists mainly in the interstices of the internet.

One by one the citadels of science are invested and brought under control - the once great journals, the academic societies, the research funding bodies etc. - all abandon the scientific method and adopt the faith. It is a great irony that it should all happen most effectively in Britain , the home of sceptical science. 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 is 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.

The Movement, by a long and elaborate process of subversion of the western education system and the institutions of science, has completely eliminated this concept. Thus we have the Royal Society, in total betrayal of everything it has ever stood for, trying to suppress the very method of science in favour of the authoritarian faith and journals such as New Scientist, in truly Orwellian style, labelling that scientific method as "the abuse of science." Alas poor science!


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

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

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


8 October, 2006


When critics bemoan the politicization of science, they usually point a bitter finger at the Bush administration. Their condemnation should actually be aimed in the opposite direction. Increasingly, it is the scientists themselves--or better stated the leaders of the science sector--who are devolving science from the apolitical pursuit of knowledge into a distinctly ideological enterprise.

The creation of a new 527 advocacy PAC called Scientists and Engineers for America (SEA) is the latest example of this phenomenon. SEA claims to be entering the political fray because the nation's leaders "systematically ignore scientific evidence and analysis, put ideological interests ahead of scientific truths, suppress valid scientific evidence and harass and threaten scientists for speaking honestly about their research." But most of the problems SEA identifies on its website as supposedly threatening science are actually disputes about ethics, philosophy, or social theory--areas of human concern that are not within the scientific realm.

The brouhaha over President Bush's federal funding limitations on embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) is a prime example of a dispute that SEA pretends is scientific, but which really centers on values and ethics. "Decisions concerning the future of biological research," the SEA Website asserts, "must always rely on the best available evidence and on transparent decision making processes. Researchers have a strong history of conducting thoughtful ethical reviews of their work and must continue to do so while resisting ideologically driven interference." In other words, the stem cell research community has determined what is ethical in the field and opinions to the contrary are presumptuous and should be disregarded as mere "ideologically driven interference."

But "the scientists" who SEA claims should have the primary say over these matters are just as ideological as those with whom they disagree. If you doubt this, consider the voluntary "ethical guidelines" for conducting embryonic stem cell research published in 2005 by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Not only would the NAS permit the destruction of leftover IVF embryos for use in ESCR, but it also advocates using embryos "made specifically for research" both through fertilization and human cloning. In other words, one of the country's most prestigious science organizations believes that embryos can be created and harvested like a mere crop of corn for the sake of biotechnological research.

For many people, the NAS's ethics opinion constitutes a profoundly radical and subversive denigration of the widely held moral belief that human life has extraordinary value merely because it is human. Applying this moral view to stem cell research doesn't make these objectors anti-science--nor, for that matter, is the NAS's contrary opinion pro-science--since the question of whether it is right or wrong to create human embryos for research cannot be answered through scientific methods.

Most of the other "science" issues that concern the SEA are actually political and policy questions about which reasonable people may differ. Predictably, SEA brings up climate change and points toward Al Gore-type approaches as best for dealing with the supposed crisis. For example, the group urges the creation of "tradable permits in greenhouse gasses or equivalent incentives to encourage innovation and drive investment in cost-effective technologies." This is pure political advocacy. It may even be good political advocacy. But it is not ideological interference with science if others disagree.

And is immigration policy as it relates to national security really a science issue? According to SEA, apparently so. One of its advocacy goals will be to "ensure that inappropriate security concerns do not block American access to the best students and researchers from around the world."

A careful perusal of SEA's website reveals the organization's primary mission; vacuuming billions from public coffers into the science sector. In this sense, SEA is merely accelerating the ongoing metamorphosis of science into just another special interest willing to use all the political tools of the trade in order to gain increased access to the public trough.

Thus, the SEA seeks "increased federal and state-level public investment"--read, public spending--"in a balanced portfolio of research and development activities." It further demands that the government "remove inappropriate limits on stem cell research," meaning dramatic increases in NIH grants for ESCR and public funding of human cloning research. It urges that public policy "promote new partnerships between government-funded researchers and industry, including the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors"--in other words, time to ratchet up the corporate welfare! And it seeks "an aggressive program of research and innovation incentives," to promote more efficient energy use, which would, not coincidentally, provide substantial financial benefits to an increasingly powerful science-industrial complex.

SEA plans to present itself to the media and public as a "grass roots" organization. Front group for vested interests is more like it. When I first learned about the organization, I went to its website and asked to "sign up for e-mail alerts." The next day I received an e-mail response thanking me "for joining Scientists and Engineers for America"--which I had not done--and asking that I help the group achieve its goal of signing up more than 10,000 members. "We can reach this goal if you help spread the word about SEA to your friends, family and colleagues," Mike Brown, SEA's executive director wrote. "As you know, membership in SEA is free and anyone can join," meaning, of course, that so-called membership is essentially meaningless.

SEA claims to be advocating for science. But by crossing the crucial line that separates science from special interest advocacy--and by co-opting the coinage of accumulated community trust in science to achieve its own distinctly financial and ideological ends--SEA risks lowering the public's opinion of the scientific community. If that happens, these scientists will only have themselves to blame.


Vermont secession hucksters

Yes, they are at it again. Small-town socialist hucksters like James Kunstler - along with Kirkpatrick Sale and Rob Nayler - are getting loads of ink around the country with their plans to turn New Hampshire into an island of progressive socialism within a sea of dismal social engineering. Read below to see what Nayler and Sale have in mind for Vermont. Hint: Itís a kind of small-town hyper-Greenism in which everyone seemingly will ride bikes to work, light houses with corn oil, go to bed at dusk and wake at dawn to slave throughout the day on small-plot farms. Ah, the satisfaction of eking out a ďbare bonesĒ living!

Of course all the rich Wall Street types and monied Hippies who have flooded into Vermont from Manhattan over the last three decades no doubt believe that Naylor, Sale, Kunstler and others are brilliant prophets of a ďsustainableĒ future. Looking out from barns reconfigured as million-dollar homes, these erstwhile or present-day legal eagles and Wall Street traders are apt to agree with the hype. (Fields of wheat turn to ruddy gold in the sunset of the mindís eye, rustling like fiat money in generously gaping wallets and pocketbooks.) Soon, the New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media get wind of yet another remake of the 1960s; the predictable, laudable articles follow one behind the other, replete with the just right touches of sentimentalism and skepticism.

Whatís the reality? One only has to drive through the New England to see how the United Soviets of the NorthĖ Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine Ė are making out in the Brave New World their leveling and economically-illiterate politicians have built for them. Century-old factories by the thousands lie abandoned and in ruins by streams and rivers that once provided power. Fertile farmland has reverted to second- and third-growth woodland. Vast swaths of New Englandís once prosperous and bustling cities need no Al Qaeda; they already look like victims of terror plots, blown to bits by Homeland Securitiesí (non-existent) nuclear suitcases or dirty bombs that leave no damage but remove all traces of decent citizenry.

Where have the workers gone? The ones who are not on welfare in the politically-cultivated bestiaries of New Englandís once-great and graceful merchant towns have fled West or South where taxes are not quite so egregious and the unions, including the public school unions, do not have a complete lock on the legislative process. Into this morass of dysfunction and despair came the New Hampshire ďfree stateĒ movement with a simple, wonderful idea: Let many libertarians move to one place (New Hampshire) and gradually people who wished to live their lives without overt, endless, ever-more-expensive government projects would take over civic excrescences and shut them down.

This is not something easily tolerable to the monetary elite, however. And just as elite first created and then subverted the hippie movement of the 1960s - to the lasting discredit and endless sociopolitical and economic confusion of the Baby Boomers - so the same crowd appears to have come up with the Vermont Secession movement.

More here

Australia: Greens hitting back at the Brethren

Amusingly, the article below is written by a Ms Green! Her biases show in the opening words. The Brethren are mostly just ordinary working people

A wealthy and exclusive religious cult which has been blamed for destroying families [The Catholic Church hasd been blamed for lots of thiungs too. Should itsa schools be closed down?] is operating in at least six private schools in Queensland with the help of government funding. The Exclusive Brethren, which has been exposed in recent months for its controversial forays into politics in both New Zealand and Australia, is also actively scheming to ensure John Howard is re-elected as Prime Minister in next year's federal poll.

A former lifelong Brethren member from Bundaberg who managed to escape the group with his family eight years ago said yesterday that the cult's hypocrisy and "brazen" push into politics could end up compromising the Government.

Mr Howard revealed last week that he had met with members of the Exclusive Brethren, saying "it's a free country . . . and like any other group they are entitled to put their views to the Government". "I've met a lot more fanatical people in my life than the Exclusive Brethren," Mr Howard was reported as saying. However, members of the Greens, which the Brethren have targeted with hugely negative advertising campaigns in recent state elections, have questioned how such a politically motivated group which bans tertiary education can benefit from both state and federal funding for its schools around Australia.

With one Queensland government source privately describing the school grants as "a gravy train", Queensland Greens election spokeswoman Juanita Wheeler has called for a rethink of guidelines which allow Exclusive Brethren schools to gain non-state school accreditation. The Exclusive Brethren currently operates schools at Norman Park, and in Bundaberg, Nambour, Toowoomba, Warwick and near Maryborough. The group is also understood to be well advanced with plans for a major new school at Tingalpa in Brisbane.

A media release signed by three leading Brethren men said that the group's position was "not to participate in the political process by voting, but to testify to the truth according to our consciences and pray for and support good government".

Businessman Trevor Hill, who rose to become one of the Exclusive Brethren's "trustees" before leaving at the age of 44, said the real problem with governments or potential governments receiving money from the Brethren was that it gave the group power - boosting its ability to lobby governments and, where political donations had been substantial, the obligations were correspondingly substantial



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

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

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


7 October, 2006

Things that we should recycle we mostly do

Everyone's talking about the environment these days, whether it's Al Gore's army of global warming slide show presenters or billionaire Richard Branson's quest for alternative fuels. I'm nostalgic for the old days when all the environmentalists wanted was for us to recycle. In class a few years ago I was lecturing on the economics of environmental protection. As I described the market's surprisingly robust ability to conserve natural resources, one student asked me "Do you recycle?" "No," I answered. "Thanks for the effort," he replied sarcastically. He then angrily marched from the room. I detected that most of the remaining students shared his sentiments, and that day's lecture was awkward and unsuccessful.

Only later did I realize that I'd given the wrong answer. In fact, I do recycle. Consider a typical day. After I awaken, I shower and dry myself with a towel that I've had for a few years. I don't discard it after one use. When it gets dirty, I rejuvenate it by processing it through recycling machines that my wife and I own: a washing machine and clothes dryer.

Then I brew coffee and fix breakfast. Each day, I use the same coffee maker that I used the day before. I clean it after each use, recycling it for the next brew. My wife and I drink the coffee from mugs that have been used many times in the past. (One set of our coffee mugs was handed down to us after my wife's parents used them for several years.) We also eat our breakfasts using dishes and utensils that are recycled from countless past uses. After breakfast, we recycle our mugs, dishes, and utensils with the help of another recycling machine: an automatic dishwasher.

After breakfast, I dress in clothes that I've worn before and that I will wear again. My underwear, my pants, my shirt, my necktie, my belt, my coat, my shoes - all are recycled from previous uses. Indeed, I take my suits and coats to a store specializing in recycling such garments: my local dry-cleaner. In fact, the very house we live in is recycled. It was built in 1993 by the Van Brocklins who, when they moved out of the area in 2001, didn't abandon the house or trash it; they sold it to us. My family and I recycle a lot. Everyone recycles a lot.

If I'd responded in this way to that student, he probably would have asserted, "That's not recycling. Real recycling is re-using things that many people think of as garbage." That student, like most people, thinks of recycling as dealing with a handful of items that are wrongly thought to be semi-precious: cans, bottles, plastic containers and newspapers. But why do I treat clothing and dinner dishes differently than I treat empty beer cans and old newspapers? The student who walked out on me sees that as a moral failing. I don't.

No moral issue turns on recycling. It might be immoral to waste things, but contrary to popular misconception, failure to recycle every physical item is not wasteful. Real waste happens when someone recycles without weighing the benefits against the cost, especially the time required to recycle. If it's immoral to waste, then it's immoral to recycle when the benefits of doing so are less than the value of the time it takes to do so. It would indeed be wasteful for me to discard my fine china after each use. So I don't do it.

But I do discard paper plates - for the same reason I recycle my china rather than discard it: it would be wasteful to do otherwise. After all, I could recycle paper plates. Careful washing would enable me to reuse each paper plate two or three times. But valuable time and labor would be wasted. Time I could spend playing with my son, reading a book or fixing a leaky faucet would be wasted cleaning paper plates. And to what purpose? Paper plates are expendable precisely because the materials used to manufacture them are so abundant. This abundance is reflected in their low price. If the materials used to manufacture any items become sufficiently scarce, the prices of those materials will rise. These higher input prices will raise the prices paid by consumers for these items, giving consumers greater incentives to recycle them.

Reflecting on the impressive amount of recycling that actually takes place daily casts doubt on the prevailing misperception that Americans are naturally wasteful and mindlessly irresponsible. In fact, market prices compel us to recycle when recycling is appropriate - and to not recycle when recycling is inappropriate. I'd like to see that logic applied to all environmental pursuits


Bad Science & Government Inertia

Post lifted from OC Blog

I included this article in last Friday's News Roundup, but thought it deserved its own post. Obviously, science isn't infallible. Public policy ought to be informed by the best science available, but continuing research sometimes reveals what we previously thought factual turns out to be wrong -- as in the case of the bacterial test being used to determine if beaches are contaminated by human waste:

The bacteria traditionally used by health agencies to reveal the presence of human sewage can grow independently in the environment, an Orange County scientist said Thursday, raising doubts about the reliability of the nation's most widely used ocean-water testing methods.

E. coli bacteria also used as a flag for sewage appears to grow on its own as well, Ferguson said. Both bacterial types usually do not cause illness themselves, but are commonly assumed to survive only in human fecal material.

That's why they are used as "indicators," signaling the likely presence of more harmful microbes, such as disease-causing bacteria or viruses, that can be found in sewage.

If that assumption turns out to be untrue, Ferguson and other scientists said, some Southern California beaches may be getting branded as contaminated and unsafe for swimming when, in fact, there is no contamination at all.

Some Orange County beaches, especially those near storm drains, are frequently posted with signs warning of bacterial contamination.

OK, so now we know. Consequently, local governments will suspend programs and spending based upon this untrue assumption, pending a re-examination of how to proceed from here -- right?

Not quite:

The findings are, for the moment, unlikely to influence water-quality regulations, water agency officials said.

Why not? As Newport Beach Assistant City Manager Dave Kiff told the OCR:
"To me it calls into question our whole strategy about keeping the water clean," said Newport Beach assistant city manager Dave Kiff, who attended Thursday's meeting.

But Kiff also said:
"We are building projects based on old laws and old science. But that's the only thing we can do right now."
Why is that? Bureaucratic inertia? One-size-fits-all state and/or federal mandates? It doesn't make sense to steamroll along with projects based on science that is known to be unreliable.

Government in action.

Greenpeace Caught Polluting

Post lifted from Crazy Jim Smith

I have written about this before but time constraints prevented me for elaborating and exposing the lies that Greenpeace has been peddling over Lafayette Mining’s project located on the island of Rapu Rapu, in the Philippines.

Greenpeace LogoThe first lie that Greenpeace is has been telling is that the local community is in opposition of Lafayette’s mine. Go to the Greanpeace website and watch the video located on this page. The video makes the claim that the local people are against Lafayette’s mining operations, in particular the local fishermen due to chemical spillages at Lafayette’s mine.

Pro Lafayette ProtestorsHave a look at the photo of a group of people that are protesting.

This picture is from Lafayette’s quarterly report and it shows locals protesting in support of Lafayette continuing its mining operations.

Does Greenpeace’s pretty video have any footage of people protesting?

The Greenpeace website also goes on to claim that Lafayette had recently recommenced mining operations. Here is the text from the Greenpeaces website that makes that claim.

The waters surrounding the island of Rapu Rapu are teeming with marine life. Local communities depend on the sea for their livelihood. However, Rapu Rapu also has a large open pit mine, run by Lafayette, an Australian company. This mine was temporarily closed after two toxic spills last year. It recently reopened despite the recommendation of a presidential fact finding commission.

Now the company hasn’t actually started mining operations. The company had been granted a temporary lifting order from Government authorities, where under close supervision the company would commence a staged process where the first stage involved the process of water to ensure there were no leakages.

The second stage involved water and waste rock processing followed by the third stage, which involved actual ore processing. Now the first two stages have been completed and operations proceeded smoothly.

So Greenpeace’s claim that mining operations had recommenced is another lie, which leads to the environmentalist’s claims of another chemical spill, which occurred when Lafayette was in its first stage of commissioning using water only.

So who could be responsible for the chemical spill if Lafayette hadn’t commenced mining operations and had only been using water in its first testing stage that was under very close scrutiny by government officials? Here is a press release from the Sorsogon Governor. Perhaps that will provide you with an indication of who polluted the creek.


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

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

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


6 October, 2006


CNN anchor cited fictional Hollywood global warming movie, "The Day After Tomorrow," to defend his science reporting

On CNN American Morning today, Senator James Inhofe, the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee engaged in a heated exchange with CNN newsman Miles O'Brien over CNN's biased and erroneous coverage of global warming. Senator Inhofe questioned the journalistic integrity of CNN anchor for `Scaring A Lot Of People' with hyped climate reporting. Senator Inhofe also questioned O'Brien about his 1992 CNN report regarding fears of a coming ice age. O'Brien responded by citing the 2004 fictional Hollywood global disaster movie "The Day After Tomorrow" to back up his science reporting.

Senator Inhofe demanded equal time following a CNN segment by O'Brien last week that attempted to discredit the Senator 12 times in a several minute long report. Senator Inhofe debunked global warming alarmism and harshly criticized the media's unfounded climate hype last week in two separate Senate floor speeches which can be found here and here.

The Senator accused the media in his speech last week of dismissing "any pretense of balance and objectivity on climate change coverage and instead crossed squarely into global warming advocacy." This despite the fact that there is no scientific "consensus" that humans are causing a climate catastrophe, as a letter sent to the Canadian Prime Minister on April 6 of this year by 60 prominent scientists who question the basis for climate alarmism clearly explained:

The 60 scientists wrote: "`Climate change is real' is a meaningless phrase used repeatedly by activists to convince the public that a climate catastrophe is looming and humanity is the cause. Neither of these fears is justified. Global climate changes occur all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural `noise.'"

Senator Inhofe criticized CNN for its September 28 segment, (click here to read Senator Inhofe's speech critiquing the CNN segment) noting that O'Brien made multiple erroneous scientific assertions about Antarctica, the state of Arctic polar bears, the `Hockey Stick' temperature graph and attempted to discredit Senator Inhofe because he has accepted money from oil and gas interests.

O'Brien also declared on CNN on February 9 of this year, that scientific skeptics of human caused catastrophic global warming "are bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry, usually." But when O'Brien interviewed global warming alarmist James Hansen on several different occasions most recently in August 2006, he failed to inform CNN viewers about Hansen's partisan funding from Teresa Heinz Kerry's left-wing Heinz Foundation, or Hansen's subsequent endorsement of John Kerry for President.

O'Brien's 2005 global warming CNN special "Melting Point", also questioned attempted to smear scientific skeptics of global warming as tools of industry. But O'Brien ignored alarmists like Hansen and his obvious ties to environmental special interests and scientists like Michael Oppenheimer -- a paid partisan of the group Environmental Defense and Michael Mann who co-publishes a global warming propaganda blog reportedly set up with the help of an environmental group. When he is asked how much oil and gas money he gets, the Senator responds "Not Enough, -- especially when you consider the millions partisan environmental groups spend." The media never points out that environmental special interests, through their 527s, spent over $19 million compared to the $7 million that Oil and Gas spent through PACs in the 2004 election cycle -- a ratio of 3 to 1.

Excerpt of the Exchange between Senator Inhofe and CNN newsman Miles O'Brien:

INHOFE: I heard your piece [CNN's March 2006 Global Warming Special called `Melting Point'] on that, and you did a very excellent piece. You scared a lot of people when you did your special.....

INHOFE: And I wonder also, Miles, it wasn't long ago -- you've got to keep everyone hysterical all the time. You were the one that said another ice age is coming just 12 years ago.

O'BRIEN: I said that? I didn't say that.

INHOFE: You didn't say that. Let me quote you...

O'BRIEN: No, no, no. I'd be willing to tell you there are stories like that. But there's not...


INHOFE: ... quote you so I'll be accurate. I don't want to be inaccurate.

O'BRIEN: All right, go ahead.

INHOFE: You said, in talking about a shift that was coming -- you said, "If the Gulf Stream were to shift again, the British Isles could be engulfed in polar ice and Europe's climate could become frigid. [From CNN Transcript titled Scientists Research the Rapidity of the Ice Age dated December 19, 1992.]" That's another scary story.

O'BRIEN: But that also is a potential outgrowth of global warming when you talk about the ocean currents being arrested. This is "The Day After Tomorrow" scenario that we're talking about.

The above is part of a press release from Sen. Inhofe

Cooling Down The Climate Scare

Environment: The country is drowning in wild alarums warning of impending doom due to global warming. Yet there has risen - from the U.S. Senate, of all places - a lone voice of rational dissent. While Al Gore drifts into deeper darkness on the other side of the moon, propelled by such revelations as cigarette smoking is a "significant contributor to global warming," Sen. James Inhofe is becoming a one-man myth-wrecking crew. Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, took to the Senate floor two days last week to expose the media's role in the global warming hype. This is a man who more than three years ago called the global warming scare "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" and has made a habit of tweaking the left-leaning environmental lobby.

One member of the media, Miles O'Brien of CNN, responded last week to Inhofe's criticism of the media with a piece criticizing Inhofe and challenging his arguments. If anything, it seems that O'Brien's reply simply motivated Inhofe to continue his effort to undress the media's complicity and bring light to the issue.

We hope so. The "science" on global warming and the media's propaganda campaign need to be picked apart. The assumptions made by gloomy theorists should be revealed for what they are: mere conjecture. The lies and carefully crafted implications, many of them discharged like toxic pollutants by a former vice president, deserve a thorough and lasting deconstruction. What the public needs - and deserves - is a credible voice to counter the sermons from Gore, on whose behalf cigarettes were distributed in 2000 to Milwaukee homeless people who were recruited by campaign volunteers to cast absentee ballots. Inhofe could be that voice.

He's no John the Baptist crying out in the wilderness. What he is, in fact, is a thrice-elected senator, a former member of the House and, before that, a state senator and representative. For those not impressed by a political background - after all, Gore, far out of proportion to his qualifications, rose to the second most powerful position on Earth - consider that Inhofe is an Army veteran and longtime pilot, and has actually worked in the private sector. Unlike most in the Senate, Inhofe is willing to stand on a soapbox and expose his head to his opponents' rhetorical stones. Name another in that august body who would dare label as a hoax the premise that undergirds the day's most trendy pop cult. Is there anyone there who would want to try to stand up to the likes of O'Brien?

O'Brien's biased report is not exactly the type of exposure global warming skeptics hope for, though. The goal, say the skeptics, should be to teach and inform, to provide an alternative to the flood of hyperbole and intentionally misleading thunder that's passed off as settled science.

There are enough scientists to fill a fleet of Humvees who can express scepticism over global warming, despite Gore's claims that the matter has been resolved in favor of his conclusions. But none has the forum a U.S. senator can command. With rare exceptions, scientists can marshal media attention on the climate change issue only by spouting the party line that man-made emissions are causing Earth to warm. That's the sort of stuff the press laps up like a starving dog.

Without the wind of a compliant media at his back, Inhofe nevertheless got his message out to America, primarily through C-Span and the Drudge Report, which linked to his speeches at the Web site of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Among those responding to Inhofe's first speech included a scientist and a meteorologist. Both hold views on global warming that are in line with the senator's - which puts them at odds with the environmental lobby's assertions of "consensus" that have been relentlessly beaten into the masses for more than a decade.

The most important audience, though, is among the Americans who have no links to science. They're the ones who have a lot to learn and will benefit the most from someone who has mass access to the public and is willing to challenge the widely - and often uncritically - accepted claims about climate change.


Climate hype outstrips climate facts

When gasoline prices hit $3 per gallon, everyone screamed for the government to "do something." The only thing to do to really solve the problem is to increase the supply of domestic petroleum, while continuing to develop affordable alternative energy sources. Both the administration, and the House of Representatives set out to do this by enacting legislation to expand offshore petroleum production, and to open a tiny portion of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.

Even before gasoline prices began to fall, environmental organizations, and their Congressional benefactors, took steps to "monkeywrench" the legislation. "Liberal Lamar" Alexander, as the junior Senator from Tennessee is known, introduced a bill that would confiscate $450-million per year for five years from offshore oil revenue, for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This has become a slush-fund that the feds use to provide grants to states and to environmental organizations to buy up private property, that all too often, gets added to the bloated government land inventory. "Liberal Lamar" has blocked passage of the offshore drilling legislation until his provision is included.

Environmental organizations quickly increased the frequency of their TV ads that show ANWR to be lush, pristine wilderness, full of cuddly animals and beautiful flowers. The ads deliberately mislead, claiming that the ANWR reserves equal only about six months of petroleum usage. They fail to say that this would be true only if there were no other source for energy. In reality, pumping all that the Alaska pipeline could handle, the ANWR supply would last about 30 years. Interestingly, "Liberal Lamar" joined his colleagues, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, in opposing the development of alternative energy sources, windmills, off the coast of Cape Cod. This could be, according to Washington Watcher, Mike Hardiman, because Lamar also has a summer vacation home in the area.

Almost as if coordinated, when efforts to expand domestic energy production began to gain momentum, the media was awash with reports of "new studies" that forecast doom-and-gloom consequences of global warming. Headlines screamed: " Hottest in a million years." NASA's Jim Hansen headed this most recent study. He is the same Jim Hansen who first announced global warming at a Senate hearing conducted by then-Senator Al Gore. He is the same Jim Hansen whose studies have been funded by the Heinz Foundation, headed by John Kerry's wife, and the same Jim Hansen who endorsed John Kerry for president.

Senator James Inhofe went to the Senate floor and delivered a scathing rebuttal, documenting not only the science that contradicts Hansen's study, but also pointing to the cyclic nature of the media's reporting about global warming and global cooling over the years. Inhofe provides direct quotes from major media that warned of an imminent "Ice Age," in the 1970s. These same media are now proclaiming that the earth is hotter than it's been in 12,000 years, and that by 2050, it will be hotter than it has ever been - one degree hotter than it is today.

Only a few months ago, climate experts were predicting that this year would produce even worse, and more hurricanes than last year - because of global warming. Obviously, they were wrong. These same climate experts are not embarrassed, they just offer forecasts that cannot be proven wrong for 50 years - as their 1970s forecasts about global cooling have proven wrong.

The climate debate is job security for bureaucrats and compliant scientists, a fund-raising source for environmental organizations, and very expensive entertainment for the observers. The reality of here and now requires policies that affect the here and now - not the pipe dreams of people who can't know what the future may hold.

The reality is that the United States government is denying its citizens the use of their own vital resources, namely, petroleum that lies offshore, and in reserves in ANWR and throughout the country. Consequently, the nation is dependent upon the likes of Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Venezeula's Hugo Chavez, to supply its critical energy needs. Billions of U.S. dollars flow to these countries for oil, instead of flowing to Americans. How stupid is this policy? Americans should demand that Congress override "Liberal Lamar," and the rest of the Kennedy- Kerry crowd that has blocked expanded oil production for years. Petroleum fuels the nation's economy; there is plenty of it available in U.S.-controlled territory. It is absolutely ridiculous not to use it, thereby remaining dependent upon our enemies for this vital commodity.



He does not mention that it is only the scary "experts" that journalists listen to most of the time

In a speech from the floor of the U.S. Senate, the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., accused me, my parents, my grandfather and my great-grandfather of peddling hysterical eco-doom. Actually, Inhofe didn't mention me or my family. He just blamed the media for generating centuries of environmental scares. Peddling eco-doom must come naturally to me due to my family's journalism history.

"Since 1895, the media has alternated between global cooling and warming scares during four separate and sometimes overlapping time periods," Inhofe said in a speech he titled "Hot and Cold Media Spin: A Challenge To Journalists Who Cover Global Warming."

Inhofe is hot over global warming reporting, which he describes as alarmist, hysterical, unfair, one-sided and unbalanced. Well, what can I say? Nobody's perfect. From 1895 until the 1930s, Inhofe said the media pedaled a coming ice age. Then it switched to hype global warming until the 1960s. After that, Inhofe said, the media issued dire warnings again about how a coming ice age would wipe out Canada and Europe and cause the world's population to starve. Now, according to Inhofe, the modern global warming scare is the "fourth estate's fourth attempt to promote opposing climate change fears during the last 100 years."

At the very least, Inhofe has to admit we're getting better at it. I clearly remember when the newspaper where I worked and others around the nation ran stories quoting scientists who warned about the threat to the human race due to the coming ice age. It seemed to me at the time that there was a clear consensus that an ice age was coming.

In his speech, Inhofe referred to a Dec. 29, 1974, New York Times article that said climatologists believed "the facts of the present climate change are such that the most optimistic experts would assign near certainty to major crop failure in a decade." According to Inhofe, the article stated that unless government officials reacted to the coming catastrophe, "mass deaths by starvation and probably in anarchy and violence" would result. That article and others referred to global cooling, a condition considered inevitable by many scientists.

In 1933, Inhofe said the Times was reporting record hot spells marking a 25-year increase in temperatures. A decade earlier, there were stories predicting that a large part of Europe and Asia would be wiped out by the coming ice age, Inhofe said in his speech. I could go on. Inhofe certainly did. His speech provided incontrovertible evidence that news reporting of predicted climate catastrophes has flip-flopped back and forth over many decades.

In defense, I quote the poet: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." I also defend my colleagues and ancestors with the reminder that those stories always quoted scientists, climatologists and others who were supposed to be experts. The editorials, columns and opinion pieces written on global cooling or global warming were based on the belief that the experts knew what they were talking about. Perhaps we need better experts. About the same time we were reporting on the coming ice age, we also were quoting experts who predicted mass starvation and disease as a result of overpopulation. I believed it. I heard it so often from experts at the time that I thought it was inevitable. There simply was no way for the planet to support so many people without immediate zero population growth.

Global warming didn't become a moral imperative until the Clinton-Gore administration pushed it into a partisan, liberal-conservative issue. I would like to see a non-partisan study on the subject, but frankly I don't know whom to trust. Maybe I can find an expert to help me.



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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5 October, 2006


From the archaeologist who did the most thorough radiocarbon dating there

For thousands of years, most of Rapa Nui [Easter island] was covered with palm trees. Pollen records show that the Jubaea palm became established at least 35,000 years ago and survived a number of climatic and environmental changes. But by the time Roggeveen arrived in 1722, most of these large stands of forest had disappeared.

It is not a new observation that virtually all of the shells housing palm seeds found in caves or archaeological excavations of Rapa Nui show evidence of having been gnawed on by rats, but the impact of rats on the island's fate may have been underestimated. Evidence from elsewhere in the Pacific shows that rats have often contributed to deforestation, and they may have played a major role in Rapa Nui's environmental degradation as well.

It also appears that the islanders began building moai and ahu [stone statues] soon after reaching the island. The human population probably reached a maximum of about 3,000, perhaps a bit higher, around 1350 A.D. and remained fairly stable until the arrival of Europeans. The environmental limitations of Rapa Nui would have kept the population from growing much larger. By the time Roggeveen arrived in 1722, most of the island's trees were gone, but deforestation did not trigger societal collapse, as Diamond and others have argued.

There is no reliable evidence that the island's population ever grew as large as 15,000 or more, and the actual downfall of the Rapanui resulted not from internal strife but from contact with Europeans. When Roggeveen landed on Rapa Nui's shores in 1722, a few days after Easter (hence the island's name), he took more than 100 of his men with him, and all were armed with muskets, pistols and cutlasses. Before he had advanced very far, Roggeveen heard shots from the rear of the party. He turned to find 10 or 12 islanders dead and a number of others wounded. His sailors claimed that some of the Rapanui had made threatening gestures. Whatever the provocation, the result did not bode well for the island's inhabitants.

Newly introduced diseases, conflict with European invaders and enslavement followed over the next century and a half, and these were the chief causes of the collapse. In the early 1860s, more than a thousand Rapanui were taken from the island as slaves, and by the late 1870s the number of native islanders numbered only around 100. In 1888, the island was annexed by Chile. It remains part of that country today.

In the 1930s, French ethnographer Alfred Metraux visited the island. He later described the demise of Rapa Nui as "one of the most hideous atrocities committed by white men in the South Seas." It was genocide, not ecocide, that caused the demise of the Rapanui. An ecological catastrophe did occur on Rapa Nui, but it was the result of a number of factors, not just human short-sightedness.

I believe that the world faces today an unprecedented global environmental crisis, and I see the usefulness of historical examples of the pitfalls of environmental destruction. So it was with some unease that I concluded that Rapa Nui does not provide such a model. But as a scientist I cannot ignore the problems with the accepted narrative of the island's prehistory. Mistakes or exaggerations in arguments for protecting the environment only lead to oversimplified answers and hurt the cause of environmentalism. We will end up wondering why our simple answers were not enough to make a difference in confronting today's problems.

Ecosystems are complex, and there is an urgent need to understand them better. Certainly the role of rats on Rapa Nui shows the potentially devastating, and often unexpected, impact of invasive species. I hope that we will continue to explore what happened on Rapa Nui, and to learn whatever other lessons this remote outpost has to teach us.

More here

Down with carbon colonialism

Did you know that the money you donate to carbon-offsetting schemes is often spent on programmes that stifle development in the Third World?

`When you drink one, Africa drinks one too.' So says the Onederful advertisement on hoardings around London, promoting a new soft drink for the caring executive classes. `All profits', it boasts, `go to build unique roundabout water pumps'. While you quench your thirst after a workout in the gym, children in Africa are getting a workout in order that they can have a drink. These water pumps, celebrated in Cameron Sinclair's latest book Design Like You Give A Damn, are designed to look like a children's roundabout. Ingeniously, each playful rotation raises water from a well, and so youngsters can now do something socially responsible instead of just playing selfishly for themselves.

But regardless of the paternalistic pretension of this scheme (this roundabout is nothing other than a hand pump), and its deception (this is child labour dressed up as doing children a favour), this is a way of acclimatising the Third World to their own lack of development and infrastructure. Children in developing countries want iPods like anyone else, but schemes such as this alter the existing situation just enough that their poverty doesn't look so bad to the Western eye.

Back in the Eighties, Bob Geldof's Live Aid threw down a conscious challenge to the public to `Give us your fucking money'. Not very diplomatic and more than a little contemptuous; but at least he was prepared to engage us and try to earn our money. More recently, charities and campaigns have been searching for more novel, reflexive or unconscious ways to be charitable. Tapping into Western consumer culture is the latest hassle-free method of charitable giving. This is charity without the inconvenience of inconvenience, without the annoyance of having to convince someone of the merits of the case. While this avoids the hassle of engaging in why the organisation's work is important, it also circumvents the possibility of more active engagement.

This model was best exemplified by Bono's RED designer Motorola mobile phone. Buying a phone anyway? Why not buy this trendy one for a little bit more and the proceeds will let a black baby live for another day or two. No skin off your nose (see Why the new Amex card makes me see RED, by Daniel Ben-Ami).

Subverting the everyday into a political act still needs some kind of acknowledgement - hence the need for some recognisable object that indicates what has been done: a wristband, a phone, or a credit card. `Brand Aid' provides a way to contribute without interrupting your daily life, while those in the know will be aware that you've done your bit.

Climate change: a feelgood crisis

The latest stage in this creeping process of unwitting charitable activity makes Bono's sanctimoniousness sound positively engaging. As Africa has slipped down the political agenda, climate change has moved centre stage as the ultimate feelgood crisis. This is a moral dilemma with no argument needed; there is general agreement, it seems, that global warming is potentially devastating and that `something has to be done'.

A quarter of a century ago, Geldof saw people as part of the solution - his beef at the time was with intransigent politicians. Today, aid agencies, especially those working on environmental projects, frequently see people as the problem. The more consumer-driven, modern or economically advanced we become, the more we are deemed to be harming the future of the planet. The consequences of seeing ordinary actions and lifestyles as inherently detrimental to the planet are paradoxical, reinforcing both a sense of self-loathing as well as a moral piety. The Guardian offers some assistance in that `if you really can't, or don't want to, change your lifestyle to reduce the damage you do to the planet, you could consider doing something to offset it'.

Eco-aid giving has now been turned into a contemporary form of absolution, saving you from the guilt of the modern world, best exemplified by `carbon offsets'. Whatever you do, from driving a car to taking a holiday to boiling a kettle of water, gives rise to carbon emissions. Having fewer cups of tea is one way of reducing your `carbon footprint' (the amount of carbon that you produce through your actions) and is seen as a positive objective. Having a zero-emissions (or even a positive feedback) effect is even better. Planting a tree, for example, will help produce oxygen and remove some CO2 from the atmosphere. Powering your home from your own wind turbine or solar cells can mean that surplus power can be fed back into the system resulting in a net positive carbon impact.

Ironically, these environmental organisations assume that we are so wrapped up in Western consumer culture that change has to be engineered through the subversion of that very consumer culture. Thus, environmental groups are now using consumerism - the traditional object of their ire - as a way of legitimating their programme of activities without the consumer necessarily knowing about it. This cynical approach to funders - or donors as they used to be called - is surely a new low in the long history of environmental contempt for consumers.

The real irony, of course, is that most of these campaigning organisations are large businesses themselves. ClimateCare, for example, `was the idea of eco-entrepreneur Mike Mason'. Brian Wilson, who was energy minister in Blair's government until 2003, recently became the chairman of the UK operations board of Airtricity, the Irish-based renewable energy company constructing windfarms all over Ireland and beyond. Both Land Rover and British Gas have bought into ClimateCare's programme of offsets.

The non-executive board members of CarbonNeutral comprise a venture capitalist, an investment banker and an ex-manager at Shell. These examples show that big business is content to do business with environmentalists - and why not? After all, these environmental companies are proper moneymaking concerns that are gratefully receiving your donations.

For some eco-businesses, instead of developing a profitable business plan to encourage shareholder investment (with the attendant awkwardness of accountability), or to manufacture and sell useful products to raise capital, they prefer to use donations to prop up their organisations. Others prefer to provide their more discerning clientele with a carbon-free environmental service as an added-value treat. Still others are diverting resources into lo-tech (carbon-free) technologies as a way of capturing a new market share. Carbon neutrality is, for all businesses, simply an exercise in corporate social responsibility.

Passive giving

So combining the worst elements of all the previous trends with a few new ones, environmental campaigners are now asking people to `donate' in the most passive way possible. Students at Linacre College, Oxford may not realise that Thabit Al-Murani, their student environmental representative, has pledged around 1,250 pounds of their funds to ClimateCare to make the college the first carbon neutral college in Oxbridge

The Carbon Footprint agency (motto: `It doesn't cost the Earth to save the planet') has done a number of deals with third parties to make saving the planet as painless as possible. For example, you can join WeightWatchers and Carbon Footprint will offset 1500kg of CO2; or 2500kg when you subscribe to dating agency. What does this mean? Well, in simple terms, will give a sum of money, via Carbon Footprint, to a carbon neutral campaigning group to do good works. The financial sum has been assessed as the cost of whatever is needed to absorb an equivalent amount of carbon that has been emitted as part of your everyday activities. In the past it might have been called a discount, whereas now it is disguised as an ethical trade-off.

The World Land Trust (WLT) is offering to offset 140kg of your despicable carbon usage if you simply send them a text message. What could this mean? Well, simply that the text nets WLT 1.50 pounds (after network charges have been deducted) and they will plant a tree to the equivalent amount (about a twigful). Call me cynical, but the WLT is a conservation organisation whose very raison d'etre is to plant trees around the world, so it all seems like a canny way to get more cash and a higher profile. And while they boast that `you can sleep soundly, safe in the knowledge that we have taken care of [your emissions] for you', it offers texters the chance to win `free carbon neutral flights to Tenerife'. Climate Relief, on the other hand, will send an unsuspecting friend a 20 pound gift voucher worth 100kg emissions. Ideal for the man who has everything.

The Observer claims that if you've done 120 school runs in a 4x4, then 1.50 pounds should be enough to clear your conscience and if you buy your 4x4 from then they'll offset 3 tonnes of carbon (5). (Before you get too excited, this salesman patter simply nets the equivalent of a 30 pound discount.) If you are planning on holding an event to explain all this, the WLT (not to be confused with the Woodland Trust) asks for a `contribution of 1,000 pounds or above [to] offset the CO2 travel and venue emissions [sic] from a business conference or training event.' But for the really guilty, they suggest that `an investment of o20,000 or above can offset at least 800 tonnes of carbon dioxide (close to the annual heating and lighting-related emissions of 140 households)' (6). Presumably, then, this is what used to be called a `subsidy' to shore up a company, but now it is an `investment' in the future of the planet. And it can be done from your home with the minimum of fuss or involvement.

It is reputed that each tree planted by one of these company's offsets about 730kg CO2 over its lifetime, whereas each person actually uses/ creates about 7,000kg per year (500 tonnes a lifetime). So model citizens should plant 10 trees per year for the rest of their lives. As it happens, temperate forests in developing countries such as the US, UK and Canada have actually been expanding over the past 40 years, so things aren't as black as they're painted, even in the terms of the debate. However, let not the facts get in the way of an ecological bandwagon.

You don't even have to be a charity or eco-company to do it. BP has launched a new non-profit initiative called TargetNeutral to counter the fact that `a typical motorist will generate around four tonnes of CO2 over 10,000 miles, which would cost o20 to offset'. Simply pull up at a service station, fill up and if you are using one of their loyalty cards, you can automatically pay the sum to TargetNeutral and BP will match it. You haven't got to do a thing; it's automatic. If you're not yet convinced, rest assured that Jonathan Porritt, chair of the UK Sustainable Development Forum will be part of `an independent panel' to oversee its actions. Mind you, BP isn't totally convinced, asking: `Is BP genuine in trying to tackle the problem of global warming, or is it simply a PR stunt that jumps on the green bandwagon? We'd like to hear from you.' If you buy into BP's selfless motives, your money goes to fund wind turbine projects in India and Mexico that BP are committed to building anyway. But any extra cash wouldn't go amiss.

Carbon colonialism

Carbon trading is everywhere, from estate agents to gifts, from insurance products to pension schemes. Take the figures with a pinch of salt though, because they are, effectively, made up. Lots of websites have set up basic software programmes to allow you to assess your impact on the planet, but there seems to be little consistency. CO2Balance also say that o9-worth of CO2 emissions (0.16 tonnes) are caused by travelling 600 miles in a 1.4L petrol-engine car, whereas ClimateCare says that the same car journey racks up 0.18 tonnes of CO2, costing 1.35 pounds. Then again, Carbon Footprint assess it as 0.149 tonnes, which can be offset `by planting 0 trees'. The Scotsman suggests that driving 12,000 miles in a family saloon releases 3.6 tonnes and costs just o20, whereas Newcastle Council states that one tonne of CO2 offset costs 13.65 pounds . So it seems that if you shop around, you can get some good deals. but maybe that'll just make you feel even more guilty.

Obviously, the basis of carbon trading schemes is that they can't offset carbon produced in the West, say, by investing in a technology that produces carbon emissions in the offset country. That would be `irresponsible'. Therefore all of these agencies that have sprung up over the past five or so years are engaged in low- or alternative-technology projects in the under-developed world.

ClimateCare, for instance, invests in low or zero-carbon emissions projects in Kazakhstan, among other places. Here, the silly Kazakhstanis use `traditional incandescent lights in buildings' but by donating to ClimateCare, you are investing in a project called `Education for Sustainability and Climate Change in Central Asia' which delivers `workshops to 98 schools to teach children about climate change. supported by posters, CDs and a teachers' handbook.' The project partners are `developing a monitoring and verification plan', implying that if the scheme doesn't meet target objectives then something'll have to give. Oh, and they can forget about real development using more carbon intensive and effective technology.

ClimateCare also funds projects in India, where it is encouraging villagers to stop using forest wood for fuel so that the indigenous tiger's habitat is preserved; or it employs 400 people in Uganda to clear grassland to plant trees to satisfy the needs of the indigenous primate population. Did you know that you were funding a scheme that promotes wildlife over people - even wildlife that eats people? And what's that got to do with climate change? Given that the carbon offset scheme is premised on the fact that human activity is endangering nature, I suppose that it is a small and logical step to put animals before people.

There are many such examples. United by the allusion to the nobility of the indigenous tribespeople, or the overseeing and monitoring of their performance in the carbon-offset programmes, these initiatives seem faintly colonial. In Mayer Hillman's book, How We Can Save The Planet, he argues that giving carbon credits on an equal individual basis across the globe would be a win-win situation for everyone. While we in the West, he argued, may not be so keen to give up our living standards, what does a person in the Third World want with all those carbon credits? After all, they have no car, phone or significant travel plans. This leaves them `free' to sell the credits off to salvage the conscience of the West. Unfortunately, the consequential maintenance of underdevelopment is the real truth behind carbon offset schemes, and one that, unsurprisingly, the marketing managers don't really want you to know about.

Carbon offsets are premised on the notion that modern lifestyles are inherently damaging to the planet: that you are part of the problem. If you agree, then the answer is simple: reduce your consumption, only travel locally (using muscle power), campaign against housebuilding and give generously to the Third World for schemes that treat the environment as sacrosanct. However, bear in mind that even the water-pump roundabout in Africa, paid for by the profits of a bottled water company in the West, can't really be argued to be zero carbon. After all, the collective CO2 exhalation of malnourished children forced to push a massive playground roundabout in order to extract water is bound to contribute in some small way to the melting of the polar icecaps.

If, however, you think that the under-developed world needs development, then the CO2 equation has to be put on the back burner. The chief priority is to encourage the liberation of millions of people from grinding poverty, not to make them guilty about wanting the material standards that the West has.

Once the under-developed world starts developing, we will encourage an enlightened view of humanity. Similarly, a more enlightened view of humanity can kickstart that development. Meeting this dialectical challenge requires a human-centred, rather than an eco-centric, view of the world. Once we reclaim this agenda for humanity, only then might there be scope for setting a positive agenda for change to deal with environmental factors. At the moment, sanctifying the environment, combined with an anti-humanist guilt, keeps half the world in penury while the other half ponders their purchasing decisions. Unfortunately, consumer choices and carbon offsets are designed to maintain the iniquitous status quo, and make you feel good about it.



This may be a partial answer to the capture of many important journals by Greenies

Scientists frustrated by the iron grip that academic journals hold over their research can now pursue another path to fame by taking their research straight to the public online. Instead of having a group of hand-picked scholars review research in secret before publication, a growing number of Internet-based journals are publishing studies with little or no scrutiny by the authors' peers. It's then up to rank-and-file researchers to debate the value of the work in cyberspace. The Web journals are threatening to turn on its head the traditional peer-review system that for decades has been the established way to pick apart research before it's made public.

Next month, the San Francisco-based nonprofit Public Library of Science will launch its first open peer-reviewed journal called PLoS ONE, focusing on science and medicine. Like its sister publications, it will make research articles available for free online by charging authors [$750.00] to publish. But unlike articles in other PLoS journals that undergo rigorous peer review, manuscripts in PLoS ONE are posted for the world to dissect after an editor gives them just a cursory look. "If we publish a vast number of papers, some of which are mediocre and some of which are stellar, Nobel Prize-winning work - I will be happy," said Chris Surridge, the journal's managing editor.

It's too early to tell how useful this open airing will be. Some open peer-reviewed journals launched in the past year haven't been big draws. Still, there appears to be enough interest that even some mainstream journals like the prestigious British publication Nature are experimenting. Democratizing the peer-review process raises sticky questions. Not all studies are useful and flooding the Web with essentially unfiltered research could create a deluge of junk science. There's also the potential for online abuse as rogue researchers could unfairly ridicule a rival's work.

Supporters point out that rushing research to the public could accelerate scientific discovery, while online critiques may help detect mistakes or fraud more quickly. The open peer review movement stems from dissatisfaction with the status quo, which gives reviewers great power and can cause long publication delays. In traditional peer review, an editor sends a manuscript to two or three experts - referees who are unpaid and not publicly named, yet they hold tremendous sway.

Careers can be at stake. In the cutthroat world of research, publishing establishes a pedigree, which can help scientists gain tenure at a university or obtain lucrative federal grants. Researchers whose work appear in traditional journals are often more highly regarded. That attitude appears to be slowly changing. In 2002, the reclusive Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman created a buzz when he bypassed the peer-review system and posted a landmark paper to the online repository, arXiv. Perelman later won the Fields Medal this year for his contribution to the Poincare conjecture, one of mathematics' oldest and puzzling problems.

Editors of traditional, subscription-based journals say the peer-review system weeds out sloppy science. The traditional process isn't designed to detect fraud (referees rarely look at a researcher's raw data), and prestigious journals have unwittingly published bogus work. Last year, for example, Science retracted papers on embryonic stem cell research by a South Korean cloning scientist who admitted falsifying his results.

Work submitted to PLoS ONE, for instance, is debated after publication by colleagues who rate the research based on quality, originality and other factors. Commenters cannot alter the paper, which becomes part of the public record and is archived in databases. If there is disagreement, authors can respond to comments. To prevent abuse, the site is monitored for inflammatory language and the postings can't be anonymous. "The fact that you get published in PLoS ONE isn't going to tell you whether it's a brilliant paper. What it's going to say is that this is something worth being in the scientific literature, but you need to look at it more closely," Surridge said.

Another open peer-reviewed journal, Philica, launched earlier this year takes a more radical approach. Authors are responsible for uploading their research to the Web site at no cost and without any peer review. Comments are anonymous, but users whose identities have not been verified by site administrators are flagged with a question mark next to their comments. The journal, still in the trial stage, has published about 35 papers so far. About a third still needs to be critiqued. Philica co-founder and University of Bath psychology professor Ian Walker said the system discourages authors from publishing fake studies because others can rat them out. "Imagine if somebody puts up absolute garbage, you will have plenty of reviews that will say, 'This is terrible, terrible, terrible,'" he said.

Academics are eyeing the open peer-review experiment with interest. Andrew Odlyzko, a mathematician who heads the University of Minnesota's Digital Technology Center, is encouraged by the growing number of online journals. Whether they will work - he's not sure. Some researchers might only post unhelpful one-liners for fear of reprisal. Granting anonymity may boost participation, but could lead to "malicious postings from cracks," Odlyzko said.

Even some mainstream journals are toying with a tame form of open peer review. This summer, Nature allowed authors whose papers were selected for traditional peer review to have their manuscripts judged by the public at the same time. Editors weigh both sides when deciding whether to publish a paper, and rejected research can be submitted elsewhere. Linda Miller, the journal's U.S. executive editor, said she was encouraged by the participation. More than 60 papers have been posted on Nature's site for open peer review as of mid-September including one that has been accepted for publication. Several others are on the path to being published. Miller said Nature's experimentation with the Internet is just another way the journal is trying to reach out to the public. Two of its specialized journals on neuroscience and genetics already offer a blog-like forum for researchers to post their thoughts on published articles, though they have attracted little attention, she said. "If we don't serve the community well, we will become irrelevant," she 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 Page is here or here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


4 October, 2006


It shows how dubious Greenie atmospheric physics can be

A satellite has detected record losses of ozone over Antarctica this year, further damaging the shield that protects Earth from cancer-causing ultraviolet rays. In the past decade, the level of ozone in Earth's atmosphere has fallen by about 0.3 per cent, increasing the risk of skin cancer, cataracts and harm to marine life, the European Space Agency said overnight. The presence of a hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic was first recognised in 1985.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said earlier this month that the hole was nearing its record size of 29 million sq km set in 2000. However, the depth of the hole was greater this year than in 2000, bringing the amount of lost ozone to 40 million tonnes on October 2, beating 2000's record of 39 million tonnes, ESA said in a statement. The ozone loss over Antarctica is calculated by measuring the hole's area and depth. "Such significant ozone loss requires very low temperatures in the stratosphere combined with sunlight," ESA atmospheric engineer Claus Zehner said. "This year's extreme loss of ozone can be explained by the temperatures above Antarctica reaching the lowest recorded in the area since 1979," Mr Zehner said. [Hey! Where did the global warming go??]

The WMO and the U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) said in August that the protective layer may return to pre-1980 levels by 2049 over much of Europe, North America, Asia, Australasia, Latin America and Africa. The agencies said that in Antarctica, ozone layer recovery would likely be delayed until 2065. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) containing chlorine and bromine have been blamed for thinning the ozone layer because they attack ozone molecules, causing them to break apart. Many CFCs, once commonly used in refrigeration, air conditioning and industrial cleaning, were banned by the 1985 Vienna Convention and its Montreal Protocol of 1987. Despite that, CFCs had still not vanished from the air, ESA said.


Air samples show recent build-up of CO2

Odd that the earth hasn't been warming up in recent years, then (See above)

The world's oldest library of airsamples has recorded the biggest increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide since sampling began in 1978. CSIRO air librarian Paul Fraser said the levels of the primary greenhouse gas have been growing at an increasing rate each year since 1978 and may reach an annual increase of two parts per million by the end of this year. Global CO2 levels have increased from 340ppm to 380ppm in the past 30 years due to combustion of fossil fuels. Mainstream climate scientists argue the world needs to stabilise levels to around 450ppm by 2050 to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

Dr Fraser said while the library had revealed CO2 emissions had grown by 70 per cent a year since the 1970s, methane emissions had stabilised in the past seven years. To find this data, the CSIRO captures a 40km-long sheet of clean air from the Southern Ocean as it blows through Cape Grim on the rugged northwest coast of Tasmania. Dr Fraser said the recording instrumentation was so sensitive that samples could be contaminated by the gases released by ships beyond the horizon. "We sometimes collect tanks and find that they are a bit strange and the assumption is that something has got into the airstream that we weren't aware of," Dr Fraser said. "You could have a drop in the wind and the local vegetation could impact on it, or maybe cows - so we like to keep the wind speed nice and high and the wind direction off the ocean."

Wind is sampled each season and stored in pressurised cylinders at the CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric research centre near Melbourne, where it is analysed for both greenhouse and ozone-depleting gases. While long-term trends are relatively stable, Dr Fraser said there was some natural variation as a result of El Nino and La Nina weather patterns and natural events such as the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 and the Indonesian bushfires in 1998.



And this under one of the world's "greenest" governments!

Thousands of seats are being ripped out of trains to create more standing room as a cheap solution to overcrowding on the busiest rail franchise in Britain. South West Trains is installing extra handholds and creating "perches" in place of seats. Almost 500 carriages, including some which entered service only two years ago, will lose more than a fifth of their seats. The increase in empty floor space will allow the Government to claim that it is meeting targets on reducing overcrowding. Passengers with 0.54 square metres of floor space are not deemed to be on an overcrowded train. (That could, for example, be an area 60cm by 90cm, that is slightly less than three double-page spreads of The Times, which laid toe-to-toe measure 60cm by 108cm).

South West Trains is already officially the most overcrowded franchise and is forecast to carry 20 per cent more passengers by 2016. The Department for Transport does not consider a train to be overcrowded until there are more than 35 people standing for every 100 with seats. But South West Trains breaches even what the department describes as "the acceptable number of passengers in excess of capacity". The 8.04am from Isleworth to Waterloo has 792 seats but carries an average of 1,138 passengers (44 standing per 100 seats), according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act. The 6.42am from Haslemere to Waterloo has 598 seats but carries 845 passengers (41 standing per 100 seats). The company, which carries 160 million passengers a year on a network stretching from the South Coast to London Waterloo, said that the changes "will allow more people to stand in comfort".

SWT claimed last month that it would increase the number of seats on peak suburban services by 20 per cent under its new ten-year contract. But when questioned by The Times, the company said that this had been a mistake and that much of the promised new capacity would be in the form of standing room rather than seats. Under the terms of the contract, it add ten carriages to its fleet of 1,400. The company has already begun removing 72 seats from its 20-year-old class 455 trains, which operate between Waterloo and the suburbs, including Chessington, Kingston, Guildford, Epsom, Hampton Court and Shepperton. It is also planning to take seats out of 28 Desiro trains, which were delivered from their German manufacturer only two years ago. These trains serve Wimbledon, Surbiton, Woking and dozens of other stations.

A spokeswoman said: "In an ideal world no one would have to stand but we do not live in an ideal world. We recognise that passenger numbers are continuing to grow and we are reconfiguring the trains to give the best possible capacity." The company believes that creating wider aisles will encourage people to move away from the doors, allowing all the available floor space to be used. It claims that most passengers who cannot find a seat have to stand for only 20 minutes.

Britain has the fastest growing railway in Europe, with passenger numbers up 42 per cent in the past decade. In 2003 the Strategic Rail Authority proposed lengthening platforms on routes into Waterloo to accommodate trains with up to 12 carriages. The authority was abolished last year before it could make any progress towards this. Network Rail made similar suggestions in March but admitted that there was no budget or timetable for the improvements. The Government made no mention of lengthening platforms when it awarded the new ten-year franchise last month. Chris Grayling, the Shadow Transport Secretary, said: "We must provide longer trains rather than squeezing more standing passengers into existing carriages. It is unacceptable that people are paying more for their tickets but are increasingly less likely to get a seat."



When the railroad, the telegraph and the telephone spread across the United States in the years immediately following the Civil War, a national market was created. For the first time in our history, farmers and butchers and tailors and other business people in locales such as Boston and Biloxi faced genuine competition from firms hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

Many of these business people complained, of course. Competition is unforgiving of firms that lack the talent or the drive to satisfy consumers as fully as do firms with greater skills and dedication. But consumers benefited enormously.

One source of consumer benefits, beside the obvious one of more choices among sellers, was "economies of scale." If a producer can manufacture products on a large scale without significantly compromising product quality and at the same time spread many of the up-front, or "fixed," costs of production over a large number of units of output, that producer can afford to sell each unit of that output at a price lower than could be charged if he produced only a smaller quantity of output.

For example, if a shirt factory with a capacity of producing 10 million shirts per year is built at an annual cost of $1 million, the owner of that factory would probably operate more profitably by producing 10 million shirts annually than by producing only a million shirts. By producing the larger number of shirts, the cost of building the factory is spread over more shirts, so that the "factory-cost" portion of each shirt is 10 cents. If, however, the factory produced only 1 million shirts, spreading the cost of building the factory over this smaller output would mean that the "factory-cost" portion of each shirt is $1. In short, large-scale production often lowers product cost. And competition among large-scale producers lowers the prices that consumers must pay.

Allowing producers to grow large enough to exploit economies of scale is important to economic growth and consumer well-being. The railroad, the telegraph and the telephone -- by enhancing each producer's potential to serve ever-greater numbers of customers -- promoted such growth. Obviously, not all goods and services are produced on a large scale. Some things can be produced only on a small scale. For example, personal therapy. Other things might be produced on a small scale simply because consumers prefer it that way: If every consumer insisted that his shirt be hand-stitched and custom made, the opportunity for profitably producing shirts on a large scale would disappear. Shirts would be more costly to produce and, hence, would sell at higher prices. If consumers chose this option, though, we must conclude that the value to consumers of wearing custom-made shirts is greater that the value of the money they'd save by purchasing mass-produced shirts. Consumers are not worse off if they choose to buy more-expensive custom-made shirts.

But suppose customers would prefer to buy less-expensive shirts produced on a large scale (rather than higher-priced custom-made shirts). Clearly, if government forces consumers nevertheless to buy custom-made shirts they are made worse off. True, consumers get better shirts but they also pay more than they want to pay.

If you think that government would never force consumers to buy "boutique" products when consumers would prefer to buy mass-produced products, you're mistaken. In a new paper -- "Market Fragmenting Regulation: Why Gasoline Costs So Much (and Why it's Going to Cost Even More)" -- University of Illinois law professor Andrew Morriss and Mercatus Center scholar Nathaniel Stewart show that much of the recent rise in the price of gasoline at the pump was caused by regulations that obstruct oil-producers' abilities to produce and distribute gasoline on a large scale.

Although government started interfering significantly in the oil market in the early 20th century, Morriss and Stewart find that beginning only in the late 1980s did the EPA and state and local governments launch unprecedented requirements on how fuel is formulated: "These fuel requirements added a set of constraints to refinery operation and transportation of fuels." Significantly, "Through various State Implementation Plans (SIPs), state and local governments also imposed restrictions on gasolines sold in their jurisdictions. Although there is no comprehensive list of formulations mandated by all levels of government, there appear to be at least seventeen different formulations -- a major increase from the single standard (the lead standard) in place in the mid-1980s. In addition, some state and local governments have imposed 'biofuel' requirements."

The consequence? What would have been a national market in gasoline now is a fragmented market. Refiners are unable to take advantages of economies of scale. Consumers are denied the lowest possible prices for gasoline.



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

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

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


3 October, 2006


So is he -- or: How to win the smokers' vote in one easy lesson. Another example of environmentalism being used to attack people you don't like

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore warned hundreds of U.N. diplomats and staff on Thursday evening about the perils of climate change, claiming: Cigarette smoking is a "significant contributor to global warming!"

Gore, who was introduced by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said the world faces a "full-scale climate emergency that threatens the future of civilization on earth." Gore showed computer-generated projections of ocean water rushing in to submerge the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, parts of China, India and other nations, should ice shelves in Antarctica or Greenland melt and slip into the sea. "The planet itself will do nicely, thank you very much what is at risk is human civilization," Gore said. After a series of Q& A with the audience, which had little to do with global warming and more about his political future, Annan bid "adios" to Gore.

Then, Gore had his staff opened a stack of cardboard boxes to begin selling his new book, "An Inconvenient Truth, The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It," $19.95, to the U.N. diplomats.


Greens 'aid destruction of planet'

(What fun!)

Environmental groups are setting back the fight against global warming with misguided and irrational objections to nuclear power, according to Britain’s leading thinker about the future. Climate change will be the greatest of many significant challenges for humanity over the next century, and every tool available, including nuclear energy, will be needed to prevent it wrecking the planet, James Martin told The Times.

While the anti-nuclear campaign is well-intentioned, it fundamentally misunderstands the safety of the latest generation of reactors and threatens to hold back a technology that could be critical to the world’s future, he said.

The criticism of groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth by Dr Martin, a computer scientist and physicist, will be keenly felt as he is himself a prominent green who has spent much of his large IT and publishing fortune on research into global warming and environmental science. Last year, he donated £60 million to the University of Oxford to found the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilisation, the first school of its kind dedicated to studying problems of the future such as climate change and emerging technologies.

Though nuclear power generates very low carbon emissions, most green lobby groups are opposed to it because of the problem of disposing of waste that remains radioactive for thousands of years, and the risks of an accident.

In The Meaning of the 21st Century, his new book published today, he names climate change as the greatest challenge currently facing humanity, and openly endorses nuclear power as part of the solution. The “fourth-generation” nuclear plants that could be built now are profoundly different from older designs, with safety features that make meltdown impossible, low waste output, and fuel that is not suitable for bombs, Dr Martin said.

He is keen on the pebble bed reactor, an experimental South African and Chinese design, in which the fuel is incapable of melting. A prototype has been built in Beijing. “With the pebble bed reactor, the fuel is easily disposed of, and it can be divorced absolutely from the bomb industry,” he said. Green critics of nuclear power, he said, are delaying adoption of this technology. “I think they are misguided. South Africa would have had a pebble bed reactor running by now if it hadn’t been for Greenpeace.”

His book sets out a number of grand challenges for the next 100 years. While the greatest of these is global warming, he also lists water shortages, which will lead to wars, the loss of global biodiversity, terrorism, diseases such as pandemic flu and HIV/Aids, and the emergence of biotechnology and artificial intelligence that could change the fundamental nature of humanity.

Nathan Argent, a Greenpeace spokesman, said: “While the fourth generation of reactors produce less waste by volume, they produce more of the most radioactive and long-lived waste, and there is still no safe way of dealing with this. We argue that the better way to tackle climate change is to decentralise power generation and make it more efficient.”


Bans on useful shopping bags are wasteful and pointless

In the hairshirt fashion houses of modern environment policy there are many labels but few emblems. In the 1980s it was nuclear disarmament. In the '90s it was recycling. But for true retail environmentalism, these days it's hard to go past the plastic bag. If black is the new black, plastic bags are the new cause celebre. In seemingly Orwellian fashion they are now no longer just a couple of grams of super-convenient plastic, but stand accused of killing marine wildlife in their hundreds of thousands, wreaking havoc across the oceans and choking our rivers, zoos and possibly even troubling our livestock. Apparently they are everywhere in their ubiquitous billions. Plastic bags have become an emergency that must be stopped.

In July the Victorian Government announced just that. Describing them as "a symbol of our inefficient use of resources", the Government banned free plastic bags from 2009, a headline act in its 90-page sustainability action statement. The statement claimed about 10 million of these shopping bags "become litter that endanger the health of marine wildlife, damage property through clogged drains and machinery and detract from the beauty of our environment". "Giving consumers incentives and stronger choices to 'say no to plastic bags' is a way we can all contribute to environmental sustainability - in itself a small action but important in developing a more sustainable culture in Victoria."

The action may indeed be small but the impact of such a ban certainly has not been. What the Victorian statement conveniently excluded was the evidence before the Government before its announcement that such a ban would be every bit as wasteful as the bags themselves. In May, the Productivity Commission released its much anticipated draft report on waste generation and resource efficiency in Australia. In this report it warned that enforcing bans on plastic bags must be based on rigorous cost-benefit analysis. In plainer words, the commission said if a government imposed the largely hidden costs of this kind of blunt regulation, then it needed to demonstrate that such costs were worth it, and that the action taken was the most effective and efficient way of achieving the stated objective.

A year earlier, all environment ministers in Australia - the Environment Protection and Heritage Council - had commissioned just such analysis. Respected economists Allen Consulting reported back to them in June, and the numbers on a ban didn't look good. The report found that even with generous definitions of environmental hazard for plastic bags, the cost of imposing various types of bans and other similar mechanisms was still about four times greater than the environmental benefit. They estimated the cost of a national ban would be as high as $1.4 billion over 10 years through a range of retail costs including slower checkouts and other indirect costs borne by retailers. These are effectively the same as a tax on consumers as retailers pass the costs on in higher prices.

The key point made in the report was not that nothing should be done to address the environmental impacts that plastic bag litter might cause, but that banning all or most bags to target the estimated 0.8 per cent of bags causing the problem was a pretty brutal and indirect way of going about it, like banning all cars to cut air pollution. It is hardly surprising, then, that a number of state governments reportedly fought to block the release of the Allen report, which was finally released to the public in September.

Under increasing pressure from government, retailers eventually introduced a voluntary program to reduce plastic bag use and began selling the lurid green polypropylene reusable bags with considerable success, cutting bag use by 46 per cent in three years. This was only just shy of the agreed 50 per cent target by 2005, but clearly not good enough for the Victorian Government. Victorian Opposition spokesman David Davis estimates the Victorian ban will cost $106 million a year. "Instead of advancing the co-operative approach the state Government has chosen to use a powerful stick that will add costs for consumers," he says. Despite his concerns, the political cachet of being tough on plastic bags was undeniable: "We didn't oppose the bill but we did express great doubt about this aspect."

The Victorian ban had no regulatory impact statement, no supporting evidence that the move was based on anything more than green political opportunism. The scientific evidence of the environmental impact of plastic bags is mostly anecdotal and flagrantly thin. The seminal report in Australia was completed in 2002 and is, by its own admission, based in many parts on nothing more than educated guesses simply because of the vacuum of credible, documented science.

Plastic bags have two environmental impacts: the resources used to make them; and their impact in the litter stream. Each bag weights about 2g, but like an ant can carry more than a thousand times its weight. Because they are so light they make a relatively tiny dent on landfill and resource use: only about 0.2 per cent of solid waste in Australia. A typical car return trip to a supermarket consumes about the same energy as nearly 100 bags.

On the litter side the claims are more outrageous. Environmental branding and marketing company Planet Ark has been one of the primary megaphones of the "plastic bags are evil" message, claiming they kill at least 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles every year. This claim, which has been proudly recycled by politicians and activists across Australia, is based on a single study - from Canada, more than 20 years ago. Planet Ark director Jon Dee claims to have countless anecdotes of landfills hiring people to pick up plastic bags, farmers complaining about their livestock dying from plastic bags and negative reports from zoos, wildlife rescuers and litter groups. He has even seen the footage of a Bryde's whale that died on the beach near Cairns in 2000 after reportedly ingesting 6cum of plastic.

"It's nearly impossible to measure how big the problem is," he says. He's right, but without the exclamation mark. The more sober independent study from 2002 had this to say about such reports: "Actual numbers of animals injured or killed annually by plastic bag litter is obviously nearly impossible to determine. Despite this lack of reliable data, the potential for plastic shopping bags to injure marine wildlife is real and of a high concern to Australians. Measures to reduce the littering of bags, other plastic film and other packaging should be a high priority."

Reducing the risk of such a hazard to ocean wildlife and other animals is an agreed and noble idea. That's not the problem. The vacuum of credible data allows a near hysterical debate to rage, which risks distorting policy from problem. There is no reliable data on the total size of the litter stream in Australia. For the purpose of the exercise, the consultants made an educated guess that between 50 and 80million plastic bags end up as litter annually. Truth is they have no idea. The bags come from a variety of sources including bags blown from landfills, bags re-used in public places and then left behind, and bags inadvertently littered from places such as street bins. This is curious because the proposed Victorian ban from 2009 targets bags from supermarkets but proposes exemptions for small retailers. The places where most of the at-litter-risk bags are likely to be coming from will be exempted from the ban, while those at low risk will be targeted.

What this research actually flags is that the trouble with plastic bags is they are a victim of their own success. They are light, strong, versatile be it as a bin liner, temporary storage device or dog's poop scooper. Because the bags are so versatile, households continue to store them rather than discard them. About 60 per cent of bags are estimated to be re-used before disposal. Most councils will not accept them in kerbside recycling systems because they can only be recycled if packed in tight with 100 other plastic bags and not wrapped conveniently around wine bottles and milk cartons. And so they continue to breed in kitchen-sink cupboards across the country. Tim Grant from the Centre for Design at RMIT University thinks most households respond more to the immediate sense of waste in their homes than have some greater awareness of potential risk to marine wildlife. "People are coming from that resource aspect rather than being overly concerned about litter," he says.

Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell thinks the voluntary approach has been working and believes Australians and their state governments should persist with it. He would also like to see the development of degradable bags to further reduce the littering of plastic bags rather than a mix of populist state taxes, bans and levies. "We should be very proud of what we have achieved with a voluntary approach and just keep the momentum going. The practical way to get plastic bags out of the litter stream is to replace them with a degradable alternative," Campbell says. "If I had a billion dollars to spend over the next 10 years I'd rather spend it on climate change than on a more marginal environmental issue like plastic bags. We have limited resources in this country and we need a rational debate on this sort of issue that considers all the costs and benefits."

Degradable bags sound a great solution, but there are complications. First, the bags are still resource-intense. Second, there are discrete types of degradation - in water, in the earth and in sunlight. If marine wildlife is the primary concern then water-degrading bags may be best suited, while reducing land-born litter would favour light-degrading bags. One size does not fit all.

Clean Up Australia chairman Ian Kiernan also supports a continuation of the existing voluntary approach, which has delivered a significant reduction in plastic bag use through effective community engagement. "To then go and whack a 10c levy on them and punish them is not equitable," he says.

Other state governments, including NSW and South Australia, are looking at similar measures to Victoria's, with the issue to be revisited at the next EPHC meeting in November. A spokesman for NSW Environment Minister Bob Debus says considering the different cost options to reduce plastic bags is "part of the debate we have to have" about plastic bag management. "We know that there is strong feeling in the community for a reduction in plastic bag use," the spokesman says. The Victorian bans are big on political symbolism but dangerously thin on actually addressing the problems at hand. A more considered approach might have looked at more direct strategies that specifically addressed the main environmental threats of plastic bags for a much lower cost. After all, that's what cost-benefit means.

Australia faces a wide range of serious environmental challenges. Climate change, water management and the continued protection of biodiversity are chief among them. The plastic bag problem sits in the shallow end. It remains an issue anchored in symbolism and amplified by its physical tangibility to the public rather than the scale of its environmental impact.



Will the spending needed to prevent global warming cost the world more than just sitting back, or even enjoying the possible financial benefits of a hotter planet? Economists are divided over that cold financial calculation in the week ahead of a major report on the issue to be presented to ministers of the world's leading nations. Some want action now to curb climate-changing emissions, saying that will cost little today but more if we delay, while others urge a slower approach, saying uncontrolled climate change will cost little or nothing in the short-term.

The report by UK government scientist Nicholas Stern to the G8 nations and major emerging countries including China, India and Brazil, may favour the first argument, according to some sources who contributed to it. Also in that camp is Nobel laureate and former World Bank chief economist Joseph Stiglitz. "The net cost (of taking action) is even potentially negative but certainly is not very significant," said Stiglitz. Financial benefits, or negative costs, occur from energy efficiency savings. "We need to start doing something now," Stiglitz said. "There is a risk of very rapid climate change."

Robert Mendelsohn, professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, argues that such negative costs may still be less than the benefits. He sees a net global warming bonus in the near-term, as higher farming yields in northern countries offsets damage elsewhere, especially in Africa. "In that sense it doesn't make sense to spend money right now," Mendelsohn said, adding that beyond 2050 and a 2 degrees celsius rise the damage and need for action grows. He added that he does not cost species extinctions and health effects, and only crudely measures the cost of island inundations.

Richard Tol, Senior Research Officer at Ireland's Economic and Social Research Institute, has a similar stance. "(My damage estimate) does hide some things that some people will get very upset about," Tol said. "From an economic perspective small island states are so tiny and people are moving out of there anyway." As an example Tol estimates the welfare loss of the Maldives submerging at three times the inhabitants' annual salaries, in addition to the 100 percent loss of the country's GDP. Citizens are happy to value the preservation of the global ecosystem at a cost of 50 euros per person per year, Tol says, but added he does not factor in the risk of rapid sea level rise.

A third camp treats with suspicion both cost and damage estimates, fearing they could be huge underestimates. "I worry that existing damage estimates have little to do with what we'll actually see," said John Reilly, senior research scientist at MIT. "They do not really value the widespread ecological changes that are likely to occur." A particular concern is the cost of runaway climate change, where temperature rises spin out of control, and which could trigger knock-on disasters like conflicts, or sudden sea level rise which could wipe out part or whole countries like the Netherlands, Egypt and Bangladesh.

On the costs of policies, the concern is of over-optimistic assumptions about the update of new clean energy technologies, with recent oil price hikes, for example, spurring less adoption impact than some had expected. The annual costs of tackling climate change escalate rapidly the tougher the action. Reilly estimates the cost of staying within a 3 degrees temperature rise at 2 percent of global GDP in 2100, but at some 8 to 10 percent of GDP to stay under 2 degrees -- or some $25 trillion in 2100 money -- seen as a danger threshold.

Mendelsohn estimated that the top end of possible temperature rises, nearly 6 degrees, would cost up to 2 percent of GDP in 2100. Britain's Stern will present his findings to ministers in Mexico next week, a month before countries start talks -- expected to last years -- on a successor to take the Kyoto protocol beyond 2012.



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

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

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


2 October, 2006


With fears for the environment growing and the price of fossil fuels rising, a team of Israeli researchers working in Israel and the US is working on a new emission-free method to run your car - with water. Water may seem like an unlikely source of fuel, but in fact it is full of hydrogen - a gas that many experts believe can be used in future to power internal combustion engines and generate electricity. The only problem with hydrogen, however, is that production of the flammable gas is inefficient, expensive and environmentally unfriendly, as well as being extremely difficult to store and transport.

Dr. Tareq Abu-Hamed, an Israeli scientist currently at the University of Minnesota, and colleagues, Professor Jacob Karni, and Michael Epstein, head of the Solar Facility at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, have developed a new method to produce hydrogen fuel cheaply, efficiently and safely while at the same time addressing current onboard storage or transportation problems. The scientists use the element boron, a lightweight semi-metallic element, to react with water to produce hydrogen that can be burnt in an internal combustion engine or fed to a fuel cell to generate electricity. The goal is to create hydrogen on demand - enough hydrogen to match the needs of the car's engine. "Boron and water can be stored separately in two containers. Mixing them in a controlled fashion will release hydrogen as demanded by the engine," says Abu-Hamed.

According to the New Scientist, today's hydrogen-fuelled cars rely on stocks of gas produced in centralized plants and distributed in either liquefied or compressed form via refueling stations. Liquefaction takes about 40 percent of the energy content of the stored hydrogen, while the energy density of the gas, even when compressed, is so low that it is unlikely to ever be able to fuel a normal car. Hydrogen-on-demand removes the need for costly hydrogen pipelines and distribution infrastructure, and also makes hydrogen vehicles safer, the New Scientist adds.

According to Abu-Hamed, an Israeli Arab from east Jerusalem, there are no CO2 emissions from this process. The only by-product is boron oxide, which can be removed from the car, and converted back into boron for re-use. Abu-Hamed is now working on an innovative new method of doing just this in a solar-powered plant. Abu-Hamed and his team estimate that to create the same energy content as a 10 gallon tank of gasoline, the car would have to carry 40 pounds of boron and 12 gallons of water. Together they would produce 11 pounds of hydrogen - enough to fuel an average car for 220 miles. While Abu-Hamed's work is still only at research stage, a functioning prototype is expected by 2009, and Abu-Hamed believes that efforts to commercialize the technology will begin in the next one to two years...

One of the problems with this method is that boron is expensive, but Abu-Hamed believes that the use of solar energy to recycle the boron, will reduce costs substantially...

More here


They are the green jetsetters - environmental campaigners who are leading the fight to restrict aviation and cut greenhouse gas emissions, but who also clock up hundreds of thousands of miles flying around the world on business and pleasure. In the past year the directors and chief executives of groups such as WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the Soil Association have crisscrossed the globe, visiting the Falklands, Japan, Africa and Brazil. All are running high-profile campaigns to persuade people to change their lifestyles and cut emissions of carbon dioxide.

George Monbiot, a leading environmentalist, said this weekend he was "very disappointed - especially if they are flying on holiday". Heat, Monbiot's new book on climate change, warns of disastrous temperature rises unless western countries cut carbon emissions by 90% by 2030, meaning a virtual end to flying.

Among those with the highest air miles is Bob Napier, chief executive of WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund, one of the best-known environment groups. In the past 12 months he has visited Spitsbergen, Borneo, Washington, Geneva, and Beijing on business trips and taken a holiday in the Falklands, generating more than 11 tons of carbon dioxide. A typical British household creates about six tons of CO2 a year. Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, flew to Malaysia, South Africa, and Amsterdam on business and took his family on holiday to Slovakia in the past year. This weekend he is on a business trip to Nigeria. His trips are estimated to have generated at least eight tons of CO2. "This is the dilemma faced by all international organisations, including green ones," said Juniper. "We do all we can to cut travel but we need to do some flying to make decisions." Aviation generates about 5% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions but their warming effect is up to four times greater at high altitudes.

Graham Wynne, chief executive of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, says he was acutely aware of such issues when he made business trips to Indonesia, Washington and Scotland over the past year, clocking up more than five tons of CO2. He also takes occasional holidays to New Zealand.

Next month the RSPB will bus hundreds of supporters to a rally in Trafalgar Square against climate change."There are a lot of contradictions like these which organisations like ours have to solve," said Wynne. Other "green" leaders share such concerns. All of those interviewed had imposed "green" measures on their families and organisations, including encouraging staff to walk to work, installing low-energy light bulbs and insulating their homes.

Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, who has flown this year to Japan, America (twice) and four European destinations, generating about six tons of CO2, said: "I am deeply concerned about my flying. I am campaigning for a solution but I am still part of the problem." Such conflicts are also found in Greenpeace, which recently helped organise a runway blockade at Nottingham East Midlands airport. John Sauven, the group's campaigns director, has flown his family on holiday to Italy and taken a business trip to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil (total emissions, three tons).

More here

The two worlds of oil

In 1980 most experts agreed that oil prices could only go up. Following the panic of the Iranian revolution, the price spiked to more than $80 a barrel adjusted for inflation. I gained some notoriety at the time by publishing an article with William Brown, a Hudson Institute colleague, in the Wall Street Journal predicting that oil prices would fall in 1980 and that the 1980s would be a decade of decreasing, not increasing, oil prices. Indeed, the price fell sharply in 1980 and by the late 1980s the price had fallen to around $30 a barrel, and it dipped to around $20 in the late 90s.

Today there is a great chorus, in which New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's voice stands out, calling upon the United States and other nations to radically reduce their oil consumption because, as Friedman and others contend, the world will soon run out. In the mean time, they say, our continued dependence on (or "addiction to") oil means a continued dependence on oil exporting countries--so many of which are run by less than democratic governments--and high energy prices of $70 a barrel, or more. But a deeper understanding of the supply side and a longer term perspective of demand produces a different view. Between now and the middle of the century $30 is likely to be more typical of the price of a barrel of oil than $60. Most of the time sellers will be competing for buyers, not pushing them around. And the Arabs are likely to have a smaller share of the market in the future, not a larger one. Before long the fear of Arab oil power is likely to seem unimaginably dated.

Two factors influence oil prices. First is the amount of oil in the ground. Second is the capacity of oil production and transportation facilities. Too few wells and pipelines create oil shortages, and therefore high prices, regardless of how much oil there is in the ground. For our purposes, "oil in the ground" refers to oil that investors think they can bring to market for less than $20 a barrel if things go near enough to plan. Capacity, on the other hand, refers to every element of the process from extraction to delivery, including the production of equipment associated with each element of that process.

So how much oil is out there waiting to be discovered? Chevron Corporation has been buying advertisements claiming that, "The world consumes two barrels of oil for every barrel discovered." Fortunately Chevron is only speaking the truth if you use an artificial definition of how much oil is being discovered. For example, Canada is now estimated to have 150 billion barrels of recoverable oil in their tarsands. Twenty years ago we couldn't produce that oil at competitive costs. Now we are producing a million barrels/day at a cost of about $15 each. In effect we have "discovered" 150 billion barrels of oil in Canada--more than the entire world used in the last five years--which Chevron doesn't count.

There are other potentially large additions to world oil resources. According to Leigh Price, an expert on oil deposits who died in 2000, there are over 200 billion barrels in the Bakken "oil play" in Montana and North Dakota. It is not yet clear whether Price's theory is correct, but recently a number of drillers have started producing oil from that deposit, which is not even included in standard estimates of oil reserves. Bakken might not turn out to be as significant as Price expected, but the larger point remains: A number of potential sources exist. Recently an Israeli claimed to have discovered how to economically produce oil from oil shale. Since such claims have been made for more than twenty years, we can't put too much faith in this announcement. But there is no reason to assume that we won't solve this problem in the future. There are hundreds of billions of barrels of shale oil in Colorado and probably as much in other parts of the world.

There are two ways to discover oil. One is the conventional way--drilling to find new deposits of the same kind as we produced before. The other is to develop new technologies that either allow us to retrieve oil from formerly out of reach places, or economically recover oil from deposits where extraction is currently too expensive. The net result is that the known available oil supply in the ground today is larger than it was 20 years ago, or 50 years ago, despite all the oil we have taken out of the ground and burned. Despite this experience, the oil supply in the ground 20 years from now may not be larger than it is today. No one can say either way with any certainty. Still, today, as in the past, oil investors find myriad opportunities to seek oil that is expected to be delivered at a cost of $20 a barrel or less. Therefore we can be relatively certain that present high prices are not the result of a lack of oil in the ground.

Since lack of oil in the ground isn't to blame for current high prices, these prices must be a product of insufficient production equipment. There is no shortage of iron or other raw materials used to build drilling rigs, pipelines, and other necessary equipment, so we can produce as much oil production equipment as we want. Why don't we have enough of it? The answer is easy: It's expensive and the manufacturing process is long. Operators don't buy oil production equipment if they don't think they'll need it. If producers buy more production capacity than they need, supply becomes too high, the price goes down, and producers aren't able to sell as much as they anticipated. The problem is predicting demand 5 or 10 years ahead of time. High prices are the result of producers underestimating the need for oil; low prices are the result of producers overestimating the need for oil. And the difficulty of estimating the future demand is shown by the wild fluctuation of prices.

This is where all the talk about excess demand from China and the "failure to conserve" comes into the picture. Some critics say we don't have enough oil because demand has been rising too rapidly. Global demand has been rising, but only about 2.5 percent per year including China, which uses only 8 percent of the world's oil. What's more, nothing prevented producers from increasing oil production facilities faster than the demand for oil increased.

Even if demand doesn't increase at all, new wells must be drilled to replace older wells with decreasing production. Therefore an oil shortage can occur with no increase in demand. The world now has high oil prices using about 84 million barrels per day. We could reduce our use to 60 million barrels a day and again have high prices if a lack of investment failed to maintain production capacity. Or, as I predict, a few years from now we will have ample production capacity and lower prices at a consumption rate of 90 million barrels a day.

No matter how much oil is consumed--whether the amount is more or less than today--we can have high prices and shortages if there is not enough production equipment. Or, if enough equipment has been produced, we can have a favorable balance of supply and demand and moderate or low oil prices. This will be true until there is not enough oil in the ground--but there is no hard evidence of such a shortage, only theories.

Let's put all this together in a scenario for the future. Here is my prediction of what might very well happen, although many other scenarios are also possible: The basic price of oil for the next 50 years will be about $30 a barrel. Some of the time it will be higher, but I would bet that a lot of the time it will be lower. The key point is that any investments made in oil or oil substitutes that depend on oil prices staying well above $30 a barrel stand a good chance of losing money. They are imprudent, risky investments--although nobody can say for sure that they won't pay off.

In the long run price depends on the balance between demand and the amount of oil in the ground and the cost of getting it out. My guess about flat average oil prices--lower than now, but higher than average prices over the past 70 years--is based on another guess: that consumption will grow by a couple of percentage points a year until about 2025, when autos that burn hydrogen made from natural gas will begin to significantly reduce oil consumption for transportation. Demand growth will then slow, and gradually stop. Beginning around the middle of this century, world population will begin slowly declining. Even though gross world product will keep on rising--because we will get richer faster than population declines--oil consumption will be close to flat. In brief, my guess is that mid-century oil production will be between 120 and 150 million barrels per day with a price of approximately $30 per barrel.

To some extent, this conclusion is based on the fact that the price of almost all minerals taken from the ground has consistently decreased--despite increased demand. The best bet is that at the end of the 21st century we will pay much less for minerals and for raw agricultural products like wheat, corn, and rice than we do today. But oil may prove the exception. On the basis of historical experience and the broadest perspective of geology and technology, my projections represent a plausible scenario. There are other plausible scenarios, too. But there is no reason to believe those who say we are doomed to oil shortages and high prices; or that oil will certainly become more and more scarce; or that, in the long run, it is foolish and dangerous to rely on oil; and that we must take drastic measures to change our use of energy. Any measures we take to reduce oil consumption in the next few years should be based on the assumption that such measures may not be needed over the long term. With that in mind, our first priority should be finding better solutions to the short-term problems, such as increased storage



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

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

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


1 October, 2006

Schwarzenegger signs greenhouse cap

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation yesterday that imposes the nation's first cap on greenhouse gas emissions and challenges Californians to temper energy consumption. The measure, aimed at curbing global warming, is expected to have political and practical implications, from increasing pressure for federal action from the Bush administration to accelerating new technologies that could deliver fuel-saving cars, power plants, refineries and factories. "It will begin a bold new era of environmental protection in California that will change the course of history," the Republican governor said during a bill-signing ceremony in San Francisco. It was attended by a bipartisan cast of political luminaries - and British Prime Minister Tony Blair via satellite. Schwarzenegger held a similar event later in Malibu.

The legislation, sponsored by Democratic lawmakers, requires a gradual rollback of greenhouse gas emissions, widely believed to be the primary culprit for the gradual warming of the Earth's atmosphere and oceans. At the same time, the state will launch an emissions market for businesses to buy and sell pollution credits, a potential moneymaker for innovators and a possible buoy for those companies that cannot economically or technologically meet the looming cap. Future governors will be given the authority to temporarily pull the plug on regulations during economic calamity - a central concession to industry.

Business interests are putting together a wish list of additional concessions they say are vital to keep companies from fleeing to other states, where they will not be bound by tighter restrictions. Industry plans to ask the governor and lawmakers to exempt investments in fuel-saving equipment from the sales tax. "It is the immediate initial barrier to modernization," said Dorothy Rothrock, representing the California Manufacturers and Technology Association.

Although not taking a position on the sales tax proposal, Schwarzenegger has dismissed complaints that Assembly Bill 32 will be a drag on California's economy and drive companies out of the state. "In fact, we will create a whole new industry that will pump up our economy - a clean-tech industry that creates jobs, sparks new cutting-edge technology and is a model for the rest of the nation," he said.

Allan Zaremberg, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, said he remains concerned that the new regulations could cause harm, particularly with a possible spike in energy prices. "We want to make sure that the businesses which spring up to meet the demand for new energy technologies do more than just sell them to California," he said in a prepared statement. "We want those businesses to locate here, employ Californians and provide revenues for the state." .....

Californians will not see immediate change, but cars and everyday appliances will evolve as the state's regulations take hold in 2012. "Ultimately, it's about the fuel you burn and the electricity you consume," said Catherine Witherspoon, executive officer of the California Air Resources Board, the agency charged with developing the regulations. Witherspoon does not see an economic earthquake rolling across the state. "The savings will be in the power plants you don't have to build and the fuels you don't have to burn," is her message to companies.

More here


Senator Inhofe responds to the media coverage of his earler speech

This past Monday, I took to this floor for the eighth time to discuss global warming. My speech focused on the myths surrounding global warming and how our national news media has embarrassed itself with a 100-year documented legacy of coverage on what turned out to be trendy climate science theories.

Over the last century, the media has flip-flopped between global cooling and warming scares. At the turn of the 20th century, the media peddled an upcoming ice age -- and they said the world was coming to an end. Then in the 1930s, the alarm was raised about disaster from global warming -- and they said the world was coming to an end. Then in the 70's, an alarm for another ice age was raised -- and they said the world was coming to an end. And now, today we are back to fears of catastrophic global warming -- and again they are saying the world is coming to an end. Today I would like to share the fascinating events that have unfolded since my floor speech on Monday.


This morning, CNN ran a segment criticizing my speech on global warming and attempted to refute the scientific evidence I presented to counter climate fears. First off, CNN reporter Miles O'Brien inaccurately claimed I was "too busy" to appear on his program this week to discuss my 50 minute floor speech on global warming. But they were told I simply was not available on Tuesday or Wednesday. I did appear on another CNN program today -- Thursday -- which I hope everyone will watch. The segment airs tonight on CNN's Glenn Beck Show on Headline News at 7pm and repeats at 9pm and midnight Eastern.

Second, CNN's O'Brien falsely claimed that I was all "alone on Capitol Hill" when it comes to questioning global warming. Mr. O'Brien is obviously not aware that the U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly rejected Kyoto style carbon caps when it voted down the McCain-Lieberman climate bill 60-28 last year - an even larger margin than its rejection in 2003.

Third, CNN's O'Brien, claimed that my speech earlier contained errors regarding climate science. O'Brien said my claim that the Antarctic was actually cooling and gaining ice was incorrect. But both the journals Science and Nature have published studies recently finding - on balance - Antarctica is both cooling and gaining ice.

CNN's O'Brien also criticized me for saying polar bears are thriving in the Arctic. But he ignored that the person I was quoting is intimately familiar with the health of polar bear populations. Let me repeat what biologist Dr. Mitchell Taylor from the Arctic government of Nunavut, a territory of Canada, said recently: "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." CNN's O'Brien also ignores the fact that in the Arctic, temperatures were warmer in the 1930's than today.

O'Brien also claimed that the "Hockey Stick" temperature graph was supported by most climate scientists despite the fact that the National Academy of Sciences and many independent experts have made it clear that the Hockey Stick's claim that the 1990's was the hottest decade of the last 1000 years was unsupportable.

So it seems my speech struck a nerve with the mainstream media. Their only response was to cherry pick the science in a failed attempt to refute me. It seems that it is business as usual for many of them. Sadly, it looks like my challenge to the media to be objective and balanced has fallen on deaf ears.


Despite the traditional media's failed attempt to dismiss the science I presented to counter global warming alarmism, the American people bypassed the tired old traditional media by watching CSPAN or clicking on the Drudge Report and reading the speech online. From the flood of overwhelming positive feedback I received, I can tell you the American people responded enthusiastically to my message. The central theme was not only one of thanks, but expressing frustration with the major media outlets because they knew in their guts that what they have been hearing in the news was false and misleading. Here is a brief sampling:

Janet of Saugus, Massachusetts: "Thank you Senator Inhofe. Finally someone with the guts to stand up and call it what it is -- a sham. I think you have taken over Toby Keith's place as my favorite Oklahoman!!"

Al of Clinton, Connecticut writes: "It's about time someone with a loud microphone spoke up on the global warming scam. You have courage - if only this message could get into the schools where kids are being brow-beaten with the fear message almost daily."

Kevin of Jacksonville, Florida writes: "I'm so glad that we have leaders like you who are willing to stand up against the onslaught of liberal media, Hollywood and the foolish elected officials on this topic. Please keep up the fight!"

Steven of Phoenix, Arizona writes: "As a scientist, I am extremely pleased to see that there is at least one member of congress who recognizes the global warming hysteria for what it is. I am extremely impressed by the Senator's summary and wish he was running for President."

Craig of Grand Rapids, Michigan writes: "As a meteorologist I strongly agree with everything you said."

My speech ignited an internet firestorm. So much so, that my speech became the subject of a heated media controversy in New Zealand. Halfway across the globe, a top official from the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition challenged New Zealand's television station to balance what he termed "alarmist doom-casting" and criticized them for failing to report the views of scientists in their own country that I cited here in America. ( )

As the controversy in New Zealand shows, global warming hysteria has captured more than just the American media. The reaction to my speech keeps coming in: Just this morning, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper wrote an editorial calling my speech "an unusual display of reason" on the Senate floor.

I do have to give credit to another publication, Congressional Quarterly, or CQ for short. On Tuesday, CQ's Toni Johnson took the issues I raised seriously and followed up with phone calls to scientist-turned global warming pop star James Hansen's office. CQ wanted to ask Hansen about his quarter of a million dollar grant from the left-wing Heinz Foundation, whose money originated from the Heinz family ketchup fortune. As I have pointed out, many in the media dwell on any industry support given to so-called climate skeptics, but the same media completely fail to note Hansen's huge grant from the partisan Heinz Foundation. It seems the media makes a distinction between ketchup money and oil money.

But Hansen was unavailable to respond to CQ's questions about the 'Ketchup Money' grant, which is highly unusual for a man who finds his way into the media on an almost daily basis. Mr. Hansen is always available when he is peddling his increasingly dire predictions of climate doom.


I have been engaged in this debate for several years and believe there is a growing backlash of Americans rejecting what they see as climate scare tactics. And as a result, global warming alarmists are becoming increasingly desperate. Perhaps that explains why the very next day after I spoke on the floor, ABC News's Bill Blakemore on Good Morning America prominently featured James Hansen touting future scary climate scenarios that could / might / possibly happen. ABC's "modest" title for the segment was "Will the Earth Become Too Hot? Are Our Children in Danger?"

The segment used all the well worn tactics from the alarmist guidebook -- warning of heat waves, wildfires, droughts, melting glaciers, mass extinctions unless mankind put itself on a starvation energy diet and taxed emissions. But that's no surprise - Blakemore was already on the record declaring "After extensive searches, ABC News has found no such [scientific] debate" about manmade catastrophic global warming. ( )

You have to be a pretty poor investigator to believe that. Why would 60 prominent scientists this last spring have written Canadian Prime Minister Harper that "If, back in the mid-1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary." ( ) On Tuesday's program, the ABC News anchor referred to Blakemore as "passionate" about global warming. "Passionate" is one word to describe that kind of reporting, but words like objectivity or balance are not.

I believe it's these kinds of stories which explain why the American public is growing increasingly skeptical of the hype. Despite the enormous 2006 media campaign to instill fear into the public, the number of people who believe that weather naturally changes -- is increasing. A Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll in August found that most Americans do not attribute the cause of recent severe weather events to global warming, and the portion of Americans who believe that climate change is due to natural variability has increased over 50% in the last five years. Given the diminishing importance of the mainstream media, I expect that trend to continue.

I hope my other colleagues will join me on the floor and start speaking out to debunk hysteria surrounding global warming. This issue is too important to our generation and future generations to allow distortions and media propaganda to derail the economic health of our nation.



Spencer and Christy have updated their tools to calculate the tropospheric temperatures between 1979 and the present era from their and NASA's satellite data to a new version 6.0 beta (readme file). The three graphs above show the global average, the Northern Hemisphere, and the Southern Hemisphere. This upgrade is also discussed by Steve McIntyre. If you look at the third graph, you see that there was no warming on the Southern Hemisphere in the last 25 years even though the "global warming theory" and the corresponding models are predicting even faster rise of the tropospheric temperatures than for the surface temperatures. The decadal trend is quantitatively around 0.05 degrees which is noise whose sign can change almost instantly.

Normally, I would think that one should conclude that according to the observations, there is no discernible recent warming on the Southern Hemisphere, and an experimental refutation of a far-reaching hypothesis by a whole hemisphere is a good enough reason to avoid the adjective "global" for the observed warming. Of course, the proponents of the "global warming theory" will use a different logic. The troposphere of the Southern Hemisphere is bribed by the evil oil corporations, and even if it were not, the data from the Southern Hemisphere can't diminish the perfect consensus of all the hemispheres of our blue planet: the debate is over. All the hemispheres of our planet decide equally about the catastrophic global warming, especially the Northern Hemisphere that shows that the warming is truly global and truly cataclysmic. Be worried, be very worried.

James Hansen, one of the fathers of the "global warming theory", has a new paper. When Hansen writes a paper, the media immediately publish hundreds of articles. The present temperatures are warmest in 12,000 or one million years, depending on the source. However, when you open their paper, you see that it looks like one of these jokes propagating through the blogosphere and the authors are kind of comedians.

First of all, most of the paper is dedicated to not-too-substantiated arguments with Michael Crichton. Michael Crichton stated in "State of Fear" as well as the U.S. Congress that Hansen's predictions from a 1988 testimony were wrong by 300 percent: a calculation based on a particular choice of time period and scenarios. Hansen then proposed three scenarios - "A,B,C" - how the temperatures would rise. "A" is a catastrophe in which no action is taken and the emissions continue to rise. "B" involves a peaceful limit in which emissions stabilize around 2000 and the warming is smaller. "C" is the scenario assuming drastic cuts of CO2 emissions.

The result as we know it in 2006? The reality essentially followed the temperatures of the scenario "C" even though the CO2 emissions continued to rise just like in the scenario "A". More details are summarized by Willis E who discusses the content of the figure 2 of the new Hansen paper. Isn't it enough to admit that Hansen was just wrong? If it is not enough, what kind of wrong prediction does he have to make in order for us to know that he has made an error? I just can't understand it.

The new paper contains even crazier assertions - e.g. the present temperature is probably the maximum temperature in the last 12,000 or one million years. This is probably based on the graph 5 on the bottom of page 5 (or 14291) and this graph's data is taken from a completely different paper written by very different authors: Hansen's only role is to hype and politicize their numbers. You see in that graph that since 1870, the oceans' surface temperature was more or less constant and the previous temperature probably can't be trusted, especially not the relative vertical shift of the graph in comparison with the current temperatures.

Even more amusingly, the paper is filled with a lot of completely off-topic comments that indicate that Hansen et al. are unable to focus on rational thinking. When I was reading one of the last sentences, I started to laugh loudly. Hansen et al. criticize the "engineering fixes" of the global climate recently discussed by Paul J. Crutzen, the 1995 Nobel prize winner for chemistry, and Ralph Cicerone, the current president of the National Academy of Sciences. Hansen says that these fixes are "dangerous" because they could diminish the efforts to reduce the CO2 emissions.

That's very funny because this is, indeed, exactly the purpose of these papers - to propose more efficient methods than the most stupid method you can imagine for the hypothetical case that we would ever need to regulate the global climate. The papers are indeed intended to diminish the role of the most uncultivated proposals how to fight with the hypothetical "climate change". As Hansen explains, that's exactly his problem with those papers.

It is very clear that the paper was only written in order to misinterpret another paper, draw media attention (which is guaranteed with Hansen), and make a purely political statement about the programs that are beginning to supersede the naive carbon dioxide cuts - political statements that have nothing do with science - in a scientific journal. Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick's comments on the paper are here. Hansen's reasoning is not too unsimilar to the reasoning of Quantoken.

Incidentally, Crutzen's proposed technology involves artificial volcanos. A major natural volcano eruption can cause 0.2-0.5 degrees of cooling over 2-3 years. Using the favorite technologies of Hansen and Gore - namely stifling the civilization - such a cooling would cost tens of trillions of dollars or many thousands of Virgin corporations. Al Gore would have to fly roughly millions of times to give his prayers for impressionable billionaires - because not all of them would decide in the same way as Branson - and these flights would probably overcompensate the cooling effect anyway.



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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