Tracking the politics of fear....  

Against the long history of huge temperature variation in the earth's climate (ice ages etc.), the .6 of one degree average rise reported for the entire 20th century by the United Nations (a rise so small that you would not be able to detect such a difference personally without instruments) shows in fact that the 20th century was a time of exceptional temperature stability.

There is an "ascetic instinct" (or perhaps a "survivalist instinct") in many people that causes them to delight in going without material comforts. Monasteries and nunneries were once full of such people -- with the Byzantine stylites perhaps the most striking example. Many Greenies (other than Al Gore and his Hollywood pals) have that instinct too but in the absence of strong orthodox religious committments they have to convince themselves that the world NEEDS them to live in an ascetic way. So their personal emotional needs lead them to press on us all a delusional belief that the planet needs "saving".

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30 November, 2007


An email from Tim Ball []

International Herald Tribune 22 November: The Chinese Foreign Ministry representative Song Dong is singing the same song we heard about CFCs. China (and India) said you have received the benefits of CFCs with a 30% reduction in food loss through refrigeration. Now you are telling us that this chemical is destroying the ozone and we should therefore forego the benefits you have already obtained. The proposal was the West reduce their CFCs and allow China and developing nations to increase theirs. We said no. They said fine, then we won't sign the Montreal Protocol.

I appeared before a Canadian Parliamentary Committee on the ozone issue and raised questions about this unilateral application problem. The aide to the Chair scurried out and returned 10 minutes later with the information that China and India were only producing 5% of the world's CFC production. I replied, yes, now, but if China and India increase their production to provide refrigeration for over 2 billion consumers how was our objective obtained? They changed the subject.

There never was a single piece of scientific evidence of CFCs affecting ozone in the ozone layer, no more than there is for CO2 and climate change except in computer models. Later, the IPCC TAR report identified changes in solar radiation as the most likely cause of ozone variations. This is isn't surprising because as I told the Committee and anyone else who would listen that ozone is created by sunlight or at least the ultraviolet portion. At that time climate science was still locked into the concept of a solar constant even though solar physicists were describing it as a variable star.

This mentality carried over into climate studies and still predominates today as two of the major changes in solar activity (Milankovitch Effect and the relationship between solar magnetism and cosmic radiation) that affect climate are ignored. As environmental activists have cynically understood, once politicians have something in their heads facts and logic are redundant. They are doing the same thing with CO2 - the parallels between CFCs and CO2 are amazing and the only difference is the magnitude of impact on western economies are profound.


Dere's a hole in da bucket, Dear Liza, dear Liza!

China and India should be spared the full burden of fighting climate change, the United Nations said yesterday in an agenda-setting report published just days ahead of an intergovernmental conference to agree a successor to the Kyoto protocol. The report of the UN Development Programme recommends that countries such as China and India should be allowed to increase their emissions to 2020, then reduce them by only 20 per cent compared with 1990 levels by 2050, while the rich industrialised countries shoulder a cut of 80 per cent.

The report will provide ammunition for developing countries wishing to avoid adopting stringent targets on emissions. Beijing, New Delhi and others have argued that rich countries carry more responsibility for the climate because most of the stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere came from the growth of their industries. But the White House has stressed it would not sign up to an agreement that did not include China and other developing nations going through rapid industrialisation.

Heated discussions over the share of the burden that each country should take for cutting emissions are likely to be the main focus of UN talks on climate change beginning next week in Bali. The talks, the most important since the Kyoto protocol was drafted in 1997, will mark the first negotiations on a potential successor to the treaty, the main provisions of which expire in 2012.

The UNDP report estimates that the world needs to spend about 1.6 per cent of gross domestic product each year until 2030 in order to prevent emissions from rising to dangerous levels. In a sign of the scale of the task facing ministers at Bali, the report also risked opening old wounds by questioning whether the carbon-trading system established at Kyoto was less effective at reducing emissions than a carbon tax - such as the one proposed yesterday by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, in Beijing.

Kevin Watkins, lead author of the report, told the FT: "Long-term investment needs predictability of price, and a tax is the way to do that. Cap-and-trade is not particularly working. We need to develop the strategy into a carbon tax." Mr Watkins said cap-and-trade systems had a part to play in the short term but carbon taxes would be more effective in the longer term. "You could go for a really stringent cap-and-trade system in the short run then gradually introduce a tax, with cap-and-trade being phased down and the carbon tax phased up," he said.

But any debate over carbon taxes versus carbon trading could be damaging ahead of the negotiations for a successor to Kyoto. A debate raged for several years before it was resolved in favour of trading, enshrined in the Kyoto protocol. The world trade in carbon was worth more than $30bn (œ14.5bn, _20bn) last year, with most of the transactions taking place under the European Union's emissions trading system, designed to meet the bloc's Kyoto commitments.

Michael Grubb of Cambridge University said: "I find it extremely boring [to talk about taxes versus trading] as we did that 10 to 15 years ago. Taxes combine a price on carbon with a huge revenue transfer from business to government, which is a dumb place to start." Paul Klemperer, professor of economics at Oxford University, said there were sound economic reasons for preferring a tax, but warned that economists must also take politics into account, and a cap-and-trade system might be more palatable to voters than a tax. He said: "We are not in a perfect world so to take a position on this purely on economics would be foolish."

Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the US and a prominent sceptic on global warming, said: "We are fairly confident that we can defeat a carbon tax in the US. Cap-and-trade is going to be harder to defeat if the Democrats gain more House and Senate seats in the next election and win the White House."



Gordon Brown today gave his unequivocal support for a third runway at Heathrow in an address to a conference of business leaders. Speaking at the annual Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference, the prime minister said that business was right to call for airport expansion and that Britain's prosperity depended on it. "Even as we place strict local environmental limits on noise and air pollution and ensure that aviation pays its carbon costs, we have to respond to a clear business imperative and increase capacity at our airports," Brown said. "Our prosperity depends on it: Britain as a world financial centre must be readily accessible from around the world."

He added that the government had demonstrated its determination not to shirk the long-term decisions but to press ahead with a third runway. The prime minister's insistence that airport expansion is necessary comes a week after he set out his green vision for cutting C02 emissions in Britain by 60% by 2025.

Critics described Gordon Brown's plans for tackling climate change as "confusing and deeply worrying". "Last week he talked about making Britain a world leader in developing a low-carbon economy. But allowing airports to expand will seriously threaten our targets for cutting carbon dioxide emissions. The Government must tackle aviation emissions. It should include the UK's share of carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation in its new Climate Change Bill, scrap airport expansion plans and fundamentally re-think this country's unsustainable transport strategy, " said Friends of the Earth director, Tony Juniper.

Other green campaigners questioned whether Mr Brown is capable of listening to responses to the public consultation over Heathrow which is currently underway. "You're left wondering if this prime minister is capable of listening to the public. He certainly doesn't seem to be listening to climate scientists," said Greenpeace's executive director, John Sauven.



In his recent testimony to the Iowa Utilities Board, Rev. James Hansen argued that the construction of a new coal-based power plant is equivalent to the holocaust. The trains that bring coal to the new power plant are nothing else than the death trains that were moving the Jews to extermination camps:

"... If we cannot stop the building of more coal-fired power plants, those coal trains will be death trains - no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species ..."

Kraig Naasz, the president and CEO of the U.S. National Mining Association, suggested that this comparison was both repellant and preposterous. It trivializes the suffering of millions of people while it irrationally evaluates the actual reasons behind various climate phenomena: one additional power plant in the U.S. surely can be no "tipping point" especially when China builds a new plant every week.

Naasz recommended Hansen to apologize to the hard-working men and women in the coal mining and railroad industries. What did Mr Hansen do? You may guess.

Hansen sent Naasz a letter advocating additional delusions about an unprecedented motion towards a climate catastrophe. He has also confused the U.S. founding fathers with Lenin and Stalin when he mentioned that the U.S. founding fathers created America for [a couple of communist cliches]. And what about the very paragraph comparing power plants with the Nazi extermination camps?

Well, Mr Hansen simply repeated it and wrote that there was nothing scientifically invalid about the paragraph. If the paragraph makes Mr Naasz uncomfortable, maybe it should. ;-) Mr Hansen should be treated as a mentally ill person, the healthy people should be protected from him, and I assure you that there is nothing scientifically invalid about this sentence of mine. If it makes Mr Hansen or other lunatics feel uncomfortable, maybe it should.


Britain: Recycling isn't anything like as eco-friendly as its propagandists would have us believe

For obvious reasons I am not going to tell you where I live, but for aggrieved council taxpayers whose wheelie bins have been left unemptied because the lid wasn't quite shut I know of an alternative way of disposing of waste: come and dump it round my way. I can guarantee you that you won't get caught. Whenever a pile of rubbish has appeared illegally dumped on a roadside the council has scratched its head and come to the conclusion: sorry, there is not a lot we can do, other than to scrape it up at taxpayers' expense and sent it to landfill.

Illegal dumping is a problem that is only going to get worse as the Government continues its ham-fisted efforts to reach its recycling targets. Every time a local authority devises another punitive scheme - fining householders for the crime of failing to fulfil the evermore prescriptive rules for putting out the rubbish - it is another powerful incentive for antisocial householders to tip their rubbish under the nearest hedge. If I was the South Wales man fined recently because a single sheet of paper had found its way into the wrong recycling container I know what I would be tempted to do: deposit next week's rubbish on the council's doorstep.

We don't have a coherent strategy for dealing with waste. Rather, in recycling, the Government, local authorities and their contractors have discovered a very useful device for raising money and excusing slovenly service. Need some extra revenue and can't put council tax up any more? Fine those who put a tin can in a bag meant for plastic bottles. Need to slash your budget? Switch to fortnightly collections and say you are doing it to encourage recycling - even though in many countries with higher recycling rates than ours urban areas have daily waste collections.

Few conscientious, middle-class folk who sort out their waste into half a dozen different containers each week realise that technology already exists to make this palaver redundant. Many American cities have increased their recycling rates by switching to single-stream collections of recyclable waste that are then sorted in an automated plant. The collected waste is emptied on to a conveyor belt, where systems of magnets and optical scanners pick out most of what can be recycled, leaving humans to sort out the residue. When introduced in Maryland it resulted in 30 per cent more waste being recycled than under the previous system, where householders were made to sort out their recyclables by hand.

But I suspect it will be a long time before we see such technology here thanks to the near-religious fervour for recycling collections among British environmentalists. We are made to go through the weekly ritual of sorting our bottles from our magazines not because it is the best way of collecting recyclable material but because it is thought to be good for us.

The whole issue of recycling has been clouded by green ideology. The EU set it targets for increasing recycling back in 1999 without properly questioning whether that is always the best way of disposing of rubbish. That we can't go on covering the country with landfill sites is obvious, but it is far less clear-cut whether recycling or incinerating waste is the best environmental option. Recycling your plastic bottles may make you glow with virtue, but if they have to be carted halfway around the world to be recycled, and then large quantities of energy are consumed in the recyling process, it is far from obvious that you are doing the planet a good turn.

Alternatively, your plastic bottle could be burnt in a power station, its stored energy used to generate electricity that would otherwise require fossil fuels, and the waste heat distributed to local public buildings and homes. This is exactly what happens in the case of the Eastcroft combined heat and power plant, which has been consuming nearly a third of Nottinghamshire's waste since it opened in 1973. Further development on waste incinerators in Britain has stalled, however, thanks to the assumption that waste must be recycled at all costs.

In a retrospective attempt to justify the policy on recycling, the Government's waste quango, the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), recently asked the Technical University of Denmark to undertake a review of worldwide research on the debate between recycling and incineration and their respective contributions towards greenhouse gas emissions. The review has been quoted by green groups wanting to "debunk the myth" that recycling isn't all it is cracked up to be. But it fails to debunk anything. Of 37 studies into the issue of paper recycling, for example, six arrived at the conclusion that paper is better incinerated than recycled, and nine indicated it makes little difference environmentally either way. Of 42 studies into plastic recycling, eight concluded that plastic is better incinerated and two said there was little difference.

Notably, all but one of the remaining that came down in favour of recycling used the assumption that 100 per cent of the plastic could be recycled, which is not reflected in practice. In studies where a more realistic assumption was made, that 50 per cent of the plastic could be recovered, the conclusion was firmly that incineration was better for the environment.

In any case, none of the studies reflected what we know from anecdotal evidence happens in practice: that an unknown quantity of recyclable material exported to China ends up being burnt or dumped. It is certainly better for the British environment if waste is shipped off to China, but not so good for the Chinese who have to live with the consequences.

In some cases, recycling is unquestionably the best option. We have, after all, been melting down and recycling metals since long before the word recycling was invented, because it has made economic sense to do so. But to make a blanket assumption that only recycling can save the planet, as current policy says, owes more to religion than science. From the rats poking around unemptied dustbins in Barnet to the piles of smouldering plastic waste in backwoods China, this is a policy that needs urgent review.



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


29 November, 2007

Dunes, climate models don't match up with paleomagnetic records

Yet another peer-reviewed study challenging the "consensus" before the Bali meeting. It shows in fact that the consensus is inconsistent with the data. So much for consensus

For a quarter-century or more, the prevailing view among geoscientists has been that the portion of the ancient supercontinent of Pangea that is now the Colorado Plateau in southern Utah shifted more than 1,300 miles north during a 100-million year span that ended about 200 million years ago in the early Jurassic Period, when Pangea began to break up.

Paleomagnetic records are found in igneous rocks that permanently record the direction of the Earth's magnetic field at the time they solidified from the molten state. Paleomagnetism is an important tool for geoscientists in tracking the movement of Earth's tectonic plates over time and records in North America indicate that the Colorado Plateau moved from the equator to about 20 degrees north latitude from 300 million years ago to 200 million years ago.

But new research by geoscientists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Michigan challenges that theory, based on extensive climate modeling studies and sedimentary records found from Wyoming into Utah and Arizona.

In the Nov. 23 issue of the journal Science, UNL geoscientists Clinton Rowe, David Loope and Robert Oglesby, former UNL graduate student Charles Broadwater, and Rob Van der Voo of the University of Michigan, report findings that indicate the area must have remained at the equator during the time in question. "It's a puzzle, a 'conundrum' is the word we like to use," Oglesby said. "And in the Science paper, we're not solving the conundrum, we're raising the conundrum."

The root of the conundrum is Loope's ongoing research in the Colorado Plateau that began when he was working on his doctorate at the University of Wyoming in the early 1980s. A sedimentologist and an expert on dune formation, he eventually saw that from central Wyoming into central Utah, ancient dunes preserved in the region's 200 million- to 300-hundred-million-year-old sandstone formations all faced southwest, meaning that the winds over that extensive area were almost constantly from the northeast. As his study progressed, he discovered that the direction of the dunes shifted to the southeast in what is now southern Utah, meaning the wind direction shifted to the northwest. What's more, those prevailing winds were consistent over the entire 100 million years in question and the shift in wind direction could only have occurred at the equator. "I thought that was very curious," Loope said. "It didn't seem to fit with what we think we know about where the continents were."

Loope is also a paleoclimatologist (who studies ancient climates), as are Rowe and Oglesby, who also have expertise in climate modeling. The three geoscientists began working together, trying to find a computerized climate model that would explain the discrepancy, but they couldn't find any that worked. "We ran the model in any different number of configurations just to see if we could make it do something different," Rowe said. "It didn't matter what we did to it, as long as you had some land, and it was distributed north and south of the equator, you would end up with this monsoonal flow that matched these records from the dunes. "The equator is the only place you could get this large-scale arc of winds that turn from the northeast to the northwest as they moved south. Nowhere else would you get that as part of the general circulation unless the physics of the world 200 million years ago was very different from what it is today. And we just don't think that's the case."

Puzzled by the discrepancy between their research and the paleomagnetic records, they turned to Van der Voo, an expert on paleomagnetism. "We brought Rob in to try to see if he could help us sort it out, and he's like, 'Gosh, guys, I don't know. This is a conundrum,'" Oglesby said. "It's important to note that we have not just a paleomag person as a co-author, but arguably the best-known paleomag person in the world -- and he's as confused as we are."

Van der Voo agreed that, for now, there's no clear answer to the conundrum. "The nicest thing would have been if we had a solution, but we don't," Van der Voo said. "All we can say is that we have this enigma, so perhaps our model of Pangea for the period in question is wrong or the wind direction didn't follow the common patterns that we recognize in the modern world. Neither seems likely, but we're bringing this inconsistency to the attention of the scientific community in hopes of stimulating further research."

And further research is exactly what's on the agenda, Oglesby said. "We'll come up with everything we can possibly think of," he said. "From the point of view of the climate model, the paleogeography, the vegetation, the topography, local-scale vs. large-scale, paleomag, going back and rethinking everything that the dunes tell us. We'll go back to square one in everything, trying to figure it out."


The Phenomenological Approach to Estimating the Effect of Total Solar Irradiance on Climate

I've mentioned before that the flawed `hockey stick' temperature reconstruction is used to reduce the role of the sun in climate change. Little pre-industrial temperature variability would help support the claim that 20th century warming is mainly anthropogenic in origin. Scafetta and West have recently published a continuation of their phenomenological approach to estimating the role of total solar irradiance (TSI) in climate change, which compares TSI reconstructions with temperature reconstructions.

Interestingly, Scafetta and West conclude that: "if we assume that the latest temperature and TSI secular reconstructions, WANG2005 and MOBERG05, are accurate, we are forced to conclude that solar changes significantly alter climate, and that the climate system responds relatively slowly to such changes with a time constant between 6 and 12 years. This would suggest that the large-scale computer models of climate could be significantly improved by adding additional Sun-climate coupling mechanisms."

I should point out that solar irradiance is only one potential solar effect on climate and the IPCC rate the `level of scientific understanding' (LOSU) of `solar irradiance' as `low.' Even the contrived Lockwood and Frohlich (2007) paper pointed to the possibility of an unknown `solar amplifier' and the expected fall in future solar activity. Furthermore, it is possible that equivalent solar forcing is `different' to greenhouse gas forcing.

Anyway, the JGR paper entitled: `Phenomenological reconstructions of the solar signature in the Northern Hemisphere surface temperature records since 1600' by N. Scafetta and B. J. West can be found here. It's a good read, so enjoy!


The study referred to above appears in the Nov. 3, 2007 issue of JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH. Direct link to study here. From Conclusion:

"In conclusion, if we assume that the latest temperature and TSI secular reconstructions, WANG2005 and D24S03 SCAFETTA AND WEST: SOLAR CONTRIBUTION TO CLIMATE CHANGE 8 of 10 D24S03 MOBERG05, are accurate, we are forced to conclude that solar changes significantly alter climate, and that the climate system responds relatively slowly to such changes with a time constant between 6 and 12 a. This would suggest that the large-scale computer models of climate could be significantly improved by adding additional Sun-climate coupling mechanisms."

Ethanol madness

Anything rather than drill for oil in American waters or in Alaska

Ethanol mania is one of the primary reasons that the price of corn has doubled over the past 15 months, in turn driving up prices for basic foods from milk to bread. (Skyrocketing demand for feedstock grain to raise meat for India, China and Latin America's burgeoning middle-class is the other major underlying cause.)

This year, 93 million acres of corn were planted in the U.S, the most since 1944 and 20% more than in 2006. Rising prices mean even more cropland is likely to be turned over to corn. The U.S. government's renewable fuels standard, which went into effect on Sept. 1, calls for 7.5 billion gallons of corn ethanol to be blended into gasoline by 2012. Follow-up legislation now wending its way through Congress raises that number to 15 billion gallons by 2022.

Fifteen billion gallons is about 10% of America's current annual gasoline consumption. An acre of corn yields barely 300 gallons of ethanol. To make that much ethanol a full 40% of American cropland would need to be dedicated to corn, sending food prices through the roof.

Scads of tax dollars are being thrown at agribusinesses to achieve this insanity. Total government support for biofuels in the U.S. was $7 billion accounting for about half the global total. According to projections, Uncle Sam will shell out $13 billion next year and $16 billion a year by 2014. In all, the government is on track to spend a total of $92 billion on ethanol subsidies by 2012.

A new report from the International Institute of Sustainable Development, a pro-free trade group based in Geneva, makes a case that the American taxpayer is paying more in subsidies to produce each and every gallon of corn-based ethanol than it would cost to buy oil that produced the equivalent amount of energy. That's just nuts.

Are Americans at least getting reductions in net emissions of greenhouse gases for their money? Yes, but nothing like those elsewhere. Brazilians use sugarcane to make ethanol and Europeans wheat and sugar beet. Of the four crops, corn has the least impact on emission levels--spewing only 18% less pollution than conventional gasoline.

That is a benefit, but not a compellingly cost-efficient one. The Institute of Sustainable Development reckons that eliminating a ton of carbon dioxide through biofuels could cost anywhere between $150 and $10,000. But even if it costs just $150, that is still far more expensive that many other ways of reducing carbon emissions, such as making vehicles more efficient. The open market values a ton of carbon dioxide emissions at far less that $150. For that price you can buy credits to offset 40 tons of carbon dioxide on the Chicago Climate Exchange.

Yes, there are social reasons, legitimately chosen, that explain why countries subsidize their farmers, ranging from food security to a desire to protect traditional rural ways of life. To their defenders in Japan, no more so than those in America or France, farm subsidies are as much about national identity as economics.

But biofuel subsidies aren't really about the largely mythical Midwestern family farm. In the U.S., 80% of farm subsides go to massive agribusinesses like Archer Daniels Midland, General Mills and Cargill. Biofuel subsidies give politicians the rare opportunity feed the maw of the agribusiness lobby while at the same time painting themselves "green" for the environmentally concerned voter. Perversely, biofuel subsidies harm both the environment and the hungry in poor nations. The sooner we stop this madness, the better off we all will be.


Why the public shrugs at global warming

The secretary-general of the United Nations, upon issuing yet another global-warming report a couple of weeks ago, announced that "we are on the verge of a catastrophe." Kevin Rudd, Australia's just-elected prime minister, has said that fighting global warming will be his "number one" priority. And Al Gore, propelled by his Nobel Prize, still travels the world to warn of doom. His latest stop was the Caribbean, where earlier this month he told a gathering of the region's environmental officials that rising seas, the result of melting polar icecaps, would threaten their island paradise.

And yet the public does not seem to feel all that heatedly about the warming of the planet. In survey after survey, American voters say that they care about global warming, but the subject ranks quite low when compared with other concerns (e.g., the economy, health care, the war on terror). Even when Mr. Gore's Oscar-winning film, "An Inconvenient Truth," was at the height of its popularity, it did not increase the importance of global warming in the public mind or mobilize greater support for Mr. Gore's favored remedies--e.g., reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by government fiat. Mr. Gore may seek to make environmental protection civilization's "central organizing principle," as he puts it, but there is no constituency for such a regime. Hence even the Democratic Party's presidential candidates, in their debates, give global warming only cursory treatment, with lofty rhetoric and vague policy proposals.

There is a reason for this political freeze-up. In "Break Through," Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger argue that Mr. Gore and the broader environmental movement--in which Mr. Gore plays an almost messianic part--remain wedded to an outmoded vision, seeing global warming as "a problem of pollution to be fixed by a politics of limits." Such a vision may have worked in the early days of environmentalism, when the first clear-air and clean-water regulations were pushed through Congress, but today it cannot mobilize enough public support for dramatic political change.

What is to be done? Messrs. Nordhaus and Shellenberger want to replace the pollution paradigm with a progressive one. They broached this idea in "The Death of Environmentalism," a controversial 2004 monograph that ricocheted around the Internet. "Break Through" gives the idea a fuller exposition and even greater urgency. The authors contend that the environmental movement must throw out its "unexamined assumptions, outdated concepts, and exhausted strategies" in favor of something "imaginative, aspirational, and future-oriented."

Let it be said that Messrs. Nordhaus and Shellenberger are anything but nature-scoffing know-nothings. They have worked for environmental organizations for years. Thus there is a certain poignancy to their view that "doomsday discourse" has made the green movement just another liberal interest group. They want environmentalism to have a broader appeal--enough to address major ecological concerns, including global warming. But no one, they contend, is going to demand draconian emission limits--the kind that would actually slow the warming trend--if they bring down the standard of living and interrupt the progress of the economy.

A progressive approach, the authors say, would acknowledge that economic growth and prosperity do not, in themselves, pose an environmental threat. To the contrary, they inspire ecological concern; the environment, Messrs. Nordhaus and Shellenberger say, is a "post-material" need that people demand only after their material needs are met. To make normal, productive human activity the enemy of nature, as environmentalists implicitly do, is to adopt policies that "constrain human ambition, aspiration and power" instead of finding ways to "unleash and direct them."

Messrs. Nordhaus and Shellenberger want "an explicitly pro-growth agenda," on the theory that investment, innovation and imagination may ultimately do more to improve the environment than punitive regulation and finger-wagging rhetoric. To stabilize atmospheric carbon levels will take more--much more--than regulation; it will require "unleashing human power, creating a new economy."

It is not that the authors are opposed to the government playing a role in this "new economy." They would like to see federal programs offset the harm of regulation, for instance, acknowledging the trade-offs of environmentalist policies. If auto workers lose their livelihood because of a new fuel-economy rule, they may need to be compensated, perhaps by a health-care subsidy. The authors' most detailed proposal is for a government-funded "Apollo Project" to spur the development of low-carbon energy technologies. Regulatory-centered approaches to climate change, they say, are "economically insufficient to accelerate the transition to clean energy." An "investment centered" approach is better.

Such a shift in focus would be welcome, of course, but it is hard to see why their centralized subsidy plan would produce commercially profitable--that is, "pro-growth"--technologies better than the multiple efforts of private investors. In short: Why would an "Apollo" plan succeed where the Synthetic Fuels Corp. failed? Having accepted the platitude that "human governance is what makes markets possible," the authors embrace the fatal conceit that markets can somehow be planned or manipulated to achieve a grand and worthy purpose.

Still, "Break Through" does bust up big parts of the old paradigm, not least by challenging environmentalists to rethink their "politics of limits." In an odd way, the doomsaying of the global warmists has had a tonic effect, revealing, nearly 40 years since the first Earth Day, that environmentalism is stuck in a midlife crisis. Messrs. Nordhaus and Shellenberger want desperately to get it unstuck. If heeded, their call for an optimistic outlook--embracing economic dynamism and creative potential--will surely do more for the environment than any U.N. report or Nobel Prize.


Civil Society Report Rejects "Kyoto 2"; says climate policy should focus on removing barriers to adaptation

A new Report* produced by a coalition of over 40 prominent civil society organisations from 33 countries says that governments should reject calls for a post-Kyoto treaty ("Kyoto 2") with binding limits on carbon emissions. The report says a better strategy would be to focus on removing barriers to adaptation, such as subsidies, taxes and regulations that hinder technological innovation and economic growth.

From 3-14 December, government officials will be in Bali, Indonesia, for climate talks. They are set to discuss the establishment of a new treaty, dubbed "Kyoto 2", which would require all countries to limit emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Civil Society Report on Climate Change concludes that such emissions caps would be counterproductive: they would undermine economic development, harm the poor, and would be unlikely to address the problem of climate change in a meaningful way.

"Kyoto 2 is the wrong solution. Such a treaty would harm billions of poor people, making energy and energy-dependent technologies, such as clean water, more expensive, and would perpetuate poverty by retarding growth", said Kendra Okonski, Environment Programme Director of International Policy Network, one of the 41 organisations who published the report. "Given that nations are having trouble complying with the relatively small emissions cuts required under Kyoto, the economic and social consequences of a Kyoto 2 Treaty could be devastating", added Ms Okonski. The Civil Society Report argues that adaptation is the best way to enable people to deal with a changing climate. That means:

* enabling people to utilise technologies capable of reducing the incidence of disease, such as clean water, sanitation, and medicines;

* deploying technologies - e.g. flood defences, roads, sturdier houses, and early warning systems - that reduce the risk of death from weather-related disasters;

* removing barriers to the use of modern agricultural technologies, which would better enable people to adapt to changing conditions;

* eliminating subsidies, taxes, and regulations that undermine economic growth - thereby enabling people better to address current and future problems.



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


28 November, 2007

What they didn't tell you about that shipwreck

You'd never read this in the mainstream media: The owner of MS Explorer that sank, leaving a huge carbon footprint at the bottom of the Antarctic Ocean Friday is an acolyte of teensy-weensy carbon footprint crusader Al Gore. G.A.P. Adventures CEO and Explorer owner, Bruce Poon Tip and Gore have similar ideals, "filling their schedules with speaking engagements on environmental change to educate global audiences." And that's straight off of In fact, as recently as last April, both Poon Tip and Gore gave presentations at the Green Living Show in Toronto. "I expressed my admiration for Mr. Gore's commitment and leadership which spans more than 20 years," commented Poon Tip. "I also invited him aboard our legendary polar expedition ship, the MS Explorer to visit the Arctic."

The legendary polar expedition ship."had at least five faults at its last inspection," according to Greenpeace spokeswoman Bunny McDiarmid. "Maritime records show the MV Explorer has completed more than 40 cruises to the ice, but has lately been suffering maintenance and safety problems."

Maintenance and safety problems never kept the MS Explorer from setting out for the Antarctica two weeks ago. Good thing Gore was otherwise occupied when 154 passengers and crew had to be rescued at sea when their eco-cruise ship struck ice in the Antarctic Ocean and started to sink early Friday morning. (None of the eco warriors aboard MS Explorer were identified in weekend media coverage). Twelve Canadians-10 tourists and two expedition guides on the eco-adventure cruise-spent anxious frigid hours in lifeboats once they were evacuated from the Explorer. In addition to the 12 Canadians were travelers from the United States, Britain, Australia, France and several other countries on board the ship.

There was little mention in the mainstream media that the passengers were comprised of eco warriors or that they had spent thousands of dollars to see ice at a much closer range than they ever dreamed. Making it a Thanksgiving Day to remember, the polar cruise came with that sinking feeling of a miniature Titanic. Passengers and crew aboard the Canadian cruise liner waited in frigid temperatures for some two hours before pick up in a part of the ocean with no land in sight.

How the vessel sustained a "fist-sized hole" is a mystery taken down to the ocean floor. The 38-year-old vessel was sold by Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) to G.A.P Adventures in 2004. A&K has since acquired Explorer II, now called "Minerva". A well-known ship in marine circles, the 75-metre Explorer was built in 1969 and was specifically designed with a reinforced double hull to withstand ice and other environmental challenges.

Near the South Shetland Islands, the ship began to take on water and a distress call was made. The Explorer's pumps managed the incoming water while passengers and expedition staff were gathered in the ship's lecture hall and informed of the emergency. All eco warrior passengers had received evacuation training on their first day at sea, and news reports indicated that nobody panicked when things started to go wrong.

As the Los Angeles Times described it: "The first cruise ship built to ply the frigid waters of Antarctica became the first to sink there Friday. The red-hulled Explorer struck ice, taking water as 154 passengers and crew members scrambled to safety aboard lifeboats and rafts. The ship later went to the bottom." According to one blogger who plans an Antarctica trip, "apparently, most (Explorer passengers) did not have wallets or passports with them," adding in a Note to Self: "Wear identification belt at all times."

Passengers and crew were taken to a Chilean military base on King George Island, the largest of the South Shetland Islands, from which they were flown home yesterday. Meanwhile, Greenpeace believes tourism in Antarctica should be strictly limited because of the fate of MS Explorer, but the silence is deafening from Poon Tip and Gore about the huge carbon footprint left on the ocean floor.


We are set on a course of 'planet saving' madness

Christopher Booker comments from Britain

The scare over global warming, and our politicians' response to it, is becoming ever more bizarre. On the one hand we have the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change coming up with yet another of its notoriously politicised reports, hyping up the scare by claiming that world surface temperatures have been higher in 11 of the past 12 years (1995-2006) than ever previously recorded.

This carefully ignores the latest US satellite figures showing temperatures having fallen since 1998, declining in 2007 to a 1983 level - not to mention the newly revised figures for US surface temperatures showing that the 1930s had four of the 10 warmest years of the past century, with the hottest year of all being not 1998, as was previously claimed, but 1934.

On the other hand, we had Gordon Brown last week, in his "first major speech on climate change", airily committing his own and future governments to achieving a 60 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 - which is rather like prime minister Salisbury at the end of Queen Victoria's reign trying to commit Winston Churchill's government to achieving some wholly impossible goal in the middle of the Second World War. Mr Brown's only concrete proposal for reaching this absurd target seems to be his plan to ban plastic bags, whatever they have to do with global warming (while his government also plans a near-doubling of flights out of Heathrow).

But of course he is no longer his own master in such fantasy exercises. Few people have yet really taken on board the mind-blowing scale of all the "planet-saving" measures to which we are now committed by the European Union. By 2020 we will have to generate 20 per cent of our electricity from "renewables". At present the figure is four per cent (most of it generated by hydro-electric schemes and methane gas from landfill). As Whitehall officials privately briefed ministers in August, there is no way Britain can begin to meet such a fanciful target (even if the Government manages to ram through another 30,000 largely useless wind turbines).

Another EU directive commits us to deriving 10 per cent of our transport fuel from "biofuels" by 2020. This would take up pretty well all the farmland we currently use to grow food (at a time when world grain prices have doubled in six months and we are already face a global food shortage). Then by 2009, thanks to a mad gesture by Mr Blair and his EU colleagues last March, we also face the prospect of a total ban on incandescent light bulbs. This compulsory switch to low-energy bulbs, apart from condemning us to live in uglier homes under eye-straining light, is in practice completely out of the question, because, according to our Government's own figures, more than half Britain's domestic light fittings cannot take them.

This year will be remembered for two things. First, it was the year when the scientific data showed that the cosmic scare over global warming may well turn out to be just that - yet another vastly inflated scare. Second, it was the year when the hysteria generated by all the bogus science behind this scare finally drove those who rule over us, including Gordon "Plastic Bags" Brown, wholly out of their wits.



By Andrew C. Revkin

For two decades, scientists and environmental campaigners have been on an ongoing quest for imagery and analogies sufficiently jarring to focus public attention on global warming and motivate a climate-friendly change in how we get and use energy. In 1988, James E. Hansen, the NASA climate scientist who, through much of his career, has pressed elected officials to limit greenhouse gas emissions, constructed "loaded" cardboard dice for a Senate hearing, to illustrate that we were, in essence, tipping the climate system toward ever higher odds of unpleasant events like droughts and flooding rains. Last month he went a lot farther, directly invoking imagery from the Holocaust in discussing how warming would cause a mass of biological extinctions.

The statement came in testimony Dr. Hansen gave on Oct. 22 before the utilities board of his native state, Iowa. He pressed the case for forbidding the construction of new coal-burning power plants unless and until technologies were developed to capture and store the heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions. The full text of the testimony is at Dr. Hansen's Columbia University home page,'s the relevant section:
"Coal will determine whether we continue to increase climate change or slow the human impact. Increased fossil fuel CO2 in the air today, compared to the pre-industrial atmosphere, is due 50% to coal, 35% to oil and 15% to gas. As oil resources peak, coal will determine future CO2 levels. Recently, after giving a high school commencement talk in my hometown, Denison, Iowa, I drove from Denison to Dunlap, where my parents are buried. For most of 20 miles there were trains parked, engine to caboose, half of the cars being filled with coal. If we cannot stop the building of more coal-fired power plants, those coal trains will be death trains - no less gruesome than if they were boxcars headed to crematoria, loaded with uncountable irreplaceable species."
The statement reprises language Dr. Hansen used earlier in the year. This time, he was excoriated in a letter from Kraig R. Naasz, the president of the National Mining Association, who demanded an apology for miners and railroad workers. That letter is also posted on Dr. Hansen's home page, along with Dr. Hansen's response.Mr. Naasz wrote:
"The suggestion that coal utilization for electricity generation can be equated with the systematic extermination of European Jewry is both repellant and preposterous". "Your advocacy on behalf of global warming is ill served by an invidious comparison that manages not only to trivialize the suffering of millions but undermines your credibility as a rational observer of a complex phenomenon."
Dr. Hansen response on this point was:
"There is nothing scientifically invalid about the above paragraph. If this paragraph makes you uncomfortable, well, perhaps it should." "The only additional required explanation, clearly stated in my testimony, is that coal-fired power plants that capture and sequester the CO2 are consistent with preserving creation, life on the planet as we know it, but the required technology is not yet ready. Until technology is ready, there should be a moratorium on construction of new coal-fired power plants in developed countries. Developing countries must phase out such construction within a decade. Realization that all coal-fired power plants without actual carbon capture will have to be "bull-dozed" in the next several decades, in all countries, should serve as an effective brake on new construction of coal-fired power plants during the next few years in all countries. For better understanding, I recommend a more careful reading of my testimony."
This all lay dormant until the last few days, when bloggers and others critical of Dr. Hansen's portrayal of the dangers of global warming posted fresh complaints on the Web. I sent the query below this morning to Dr. Hansen to explore his Iowa statement and reactions. As soon as I have a response, I'll post it.
Hi Jim, It would be nice if we lived in a world where, when faced with an environmental problem, reporters only have to discuss risks delineated by science and the range of societal responses. But sometimes we have to write about language, too. I need to ask you a few questions about your framing of the climate challenge. I saw your Iowa testimony when you distributed it by email last month but I didn't have time to read all the way through. Now, many people opposing greenhouse-gas restrictions are the warpath over your reference to death trains and crematoria in your argument for freezing coal-plant construction to avoid dangerous human-driven warming. Your letter back to the coal rep says:
"There is nothing scientifically invalid about the above paragraph. If this paragraph makes you uncomfortable, well, perhaps it should."
As I said above, we live in a world where science is not the only thing that matters. Here are my questions:

1) I assume you chose your language carefully. I see you've been quoted before describing coal trains as death trains. Were you concerned that Holocaust survivors and relatives of victims might take offense?

2) Have you received complaints from any yet? Have you received support from any?

3) Do you think that this kind of metaphor is the only thing that can jog the public or officials to change?

4) Some say that whatever you think about the dangers of global warming, this kind of language inevitably becomes the issue, distracts from the real questions, and could in fact further polarize or paralyze discourse. Is there any merit to their view?

5) This is a quirky question, but necessary: Who is the victim of of the mass murder you framed in your testimony - nature or people? Nature has endured many "natural" mass extinctions and stresses as conditions on Earth have changed, so it'll doubtless endure this human-caused assault in time. Is your concern about what we humans lose in a world with less biological diversity, or about the insult itself?


Meteorologist Craig James explains the real CO2 sequence

In response to the many comments I have received recently questioning my position on global warming, I'd like to offer this summary:

There are several possible causes for warming and cooling of the atmosphere on a global scale. Periodic astronomical cycles, such as the Milankovitch Cycles, solar variations, volcanic activity, the shift in phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), the Arctic Oscillation (AO), plus many others certainly all play a huge role. I have written about the natural oscillation of the oceans and their affects on temperatures in several posts on this site. Of course the mainstream emphasis today is on increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations. If I conducted a survey asking people whether the temperature rises first and then CO2 levels increase, or vice-versa, I'm sure we could all guess the prevailing opinion is that CO2 levels increase first. I think it is very important for everyone to understand, this is not the case.

I am not doubting that humans have been responsible for an increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 and that this CO2 increase may have contributed to some of the warming we have experienced by a process known as positive feedback. But it does seem as if the climate models overstate this positive feedback and several others such as those for water vapor. A close inspection of the temperature and CO2 records shows that the warming we see now should be much greater if CO2 was the dominant factor. To illustrate this, let me repost one of my previous articles called "Does the Earth Have a Temperature Regulator".

It seems to me as if there hasn't really been much attention given to the fact that CO2 increases occur AFTER the temperature begins rising and therefore cannot be the initial cause of global warming. Even the most vocal proponents of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) acknowledge this fact. The web site Real Climate states:
From studying all the available data (not just ice cores), the probable sequence of events at a termination goes something like this. Some (currently unknown) process causes Antarctica and the surrounding ocean to warm. This process also causes CO2 to start rising, about 800 years later. Then CO2 further warms the whole planet, because of its heat-trapping properties. This leads to even further CO2 release.
They are well aware that CO2 does not cause the initial warming but they say it does amplify the warming once underway. The interesting thing to me though is what causes the warming to stop, even though CO2 is still RISING?

Take a look at this chart (above) from the Vostok ice core record over the last 460,000 years.

The second chart is a close up of the last 18,000 years (since the last glacial maximum).

The third chart is of the last 200 years, encompassing the industrial revolution.

The charts were all taken from this web page. Notice on all three charts the recent rapid rise in CO2 on the right hand side of the chart WITHOUT an equivalent rise in the temperature.

There was a rise in temperature but you would expect it to be more if the response was linear. This seems to be good evidence that the temperature response to rising CO2 levels is logarithmic, not linear. A subsequent doubling of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere will not produce the amount of temperature increase the first doubling did. But what is even more interesting to me can be seen on the first chart going back 460,000 years. There are five warm periods, or interglacials, on the chart. The current one has lasted the longest. Every time the temperature has warmed to more than 2 degrees Celcius above the mid 20th century benchmark (the 0 degree line) for a significant time, cooling followed. It appears that if the +2C threshold is exceeded for some period of time, a new glacial, or cooling, phase follows. According to the authors of the web site where I got the chart:

A linear trend line fitted to the temperature data would indicate that the critical +2C level would be reached in about 40 years. But we don't know that the trend is linear.

I think it is logarithmic, not linear or exponential as the authors suggest, meaning it will take much longer than 40 years to reach the +2C threshold. But once it reaches that threshold, what makes the temperature start to fall again, especially if CO2 levels are still rising? Does the earth have a built in temperature regulator? Does melting of the Arctic ice slow down the thermohaline circulation enough to initiate a new ice age? Or is the "iris effect" real as described in this article? Whatever it is, there certainly seems to evidence from the Vostok ice core, which the AGW people accept, that the Earth will again regulate itself to prevent any runaway global warming."
Will the increasing levels of CO2 override the historical pattern of a +2C threshold? I can't find an answer to that anywhere. Also, if you look again at the long term chart above, you will see that the ice ages do not begin every 100,000 years as the Milankovitch Cycles would predict. Wikepedia states:
The Milankovitch theory of climate change is not perfectly worked out; in particular, the largest observed response is at the 100,000 year timescale, but the forcing is apparently small at this scale, in regard to the ice ages. Various feedbacks (from carbon dioxide, or from ice sheet dynamics) are invoked to explain this discrepancy.
Another issue I want to emphasize has come about because of all of the concern regarding the low Arctic sea ice extent measured this fall. I can't state this strongly enough. THERE IS NO CORRELATION BETWEEN ARCTIC AIR TEMPERATURES AND ARCTIC SEA ICE!

Here (above) is a graph of Arctic air temperatures since 1880.

The second chart is a graph of Arctic Sea Ice extent since 1900. The air temperatures in the Arctic were warmer in 1940 than now. The sea ice extent began to diminish in 1950 as air temperatures were going DOWN. If there is no correlation, there can be no causation. Also, never once mentioned in the mainstream media is the fact that the southern hemisphere sea ice extent was at a record MAXIMUM this year.

It seems to me the argument that the current rise in CO2 is solely responsible for the changes we have seen over the past several decades ignores much of the historical record and places an unwarranted confidence in computer model forecasts, which those of us who forecast weather know all to well, are NOT reality. I do think I am open to being convinced otherwise, but as of yet, I haven't seen the smoking gun that would do so.


Chris de Freitas: Don't blame me for the heat

(Dr Chris de Freitas is an associate professor in the School of Geography, Geology and Environmental Science, University of Auckland)

Greenpeace spokeswoman Susannah Bailey's attack on branches of the New Zealand business sector, which she accuses of continuing to plead grey on global warming, misses the key point.Political action on climate change is not a game to be played and won or lost, and Greenpeace does us a disservice by encouraging that view. Little does the public realise the debate over climate change usually conflates issues of science and politics.The robustness or otherwise of the science underpinning the role of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is the key to assessing the risk from human induced climate change issue. But seldom if ever are the uncertainties of the science discussed.

Seldom if ever is the question asked: Where is the evidence for catastrophic climate change from human action? Rather than search for the evidence, groups like Greenpeace defer to authorities, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a political entity which appears to have a monopoly on wisdom in global warming matters. Rather than debate the issues, they attack those who disagree, using defamatory labels. Yet the opposite of scepticism is gullibility.

The fanatical name calling and personal attacks expose the strong ideological elements that drive global warming alarmist thinking. It's as if the depth of passion is overcompensation for doubt and uncertainty. Why else would environmentalists squander so much effort trying to discredit individuals and organisations who disagree? Few scientists are willing to put their head above the parapet, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that, to paraphrase Voltaire, it is dangerous to be right when the authorities are wrong.

Moreover, vote counting is a risky way to discover scientific truth. Scientific validity is not determined by a show of hands. Pronouncements from Greenpeace or the IPCC do not and cannot change the facts. No one doubts humans affect climate. The debate is whether the effects are "dangerous". There is no hard evidence that increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere put there by human activities are causing or will cause dangerous change to global climate.

The Earth's surface has warmed slightly over the last 150 years, but research shows that floods, droughts, hurricanes and tornadoes have not increased in frequency.The climate facts are well established and well recorded, but often ignored when it comes to global warming catastrophism:

* There have been four periods of global warming in the past 1500 years.
* Data clearly show the Earth cooled during a recent 35-year period despite the continuing rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
* In recent times, global temperature has been steady since 1998, despite the continuing rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
* Average global sea level rise has shown no acceleration over the past 300 years.
* And it is an uncontroversial fact that all climate models are unreliable, so their output is not evidence of anything.

Recent climate change is within natural variation, and although this in no way confirms that it is due to natural variation, climate history clearly demonstrates that natural variation can explain the moderate climate change we have seen up until 1998.

One could argue that we should take the observed net 0.6C warming trend over the past 100 years seriously, but by itself it looks rather benign, and may even be beneficial.

Even if the signatories to the Kyoto protocol meet their commitment, the climate science community is unanimous on the view that its impact on global warming would be imperceptible. The fact is that the Kyoto targets are not based on science. Taking into account the economic costs, the Kyoto Protocol could be worse than doing nothing.It fails to establish long-term goals based on science, it poses serious and unnecessary risks to national economies, and it is ineffective in addressing climate change because it excludes major parts of the world.

There is a desperate need for balanced reporting to redress widespread misunderstanding of climate change and the role of human activities.



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


27 November, 2007

The new Australian government and Kyoto: A brief comment

The new Australian government is remarkably conservative for a nominally Leftist government so it is likely that its Leftist moves will be more token than significant. And the resolve of Prime-minister-elect Kevin Rudd to sign the Kyoto treaty is a good example of such tokenism. Australia's emissions of carbon dioxide are already in line with what most of Europe has achieved so the signing will make little difference.

It should also be noted that Rudd will have to get the treaty through the Senate and, in a quirk of Australian politics, he is unlikely to be able to do that until July, 2008. Senate membership does not change until then and the present Senate is conservative-dominated. So Rudd's talk of "immediate" action is just the usual political flim-flam.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper dubs Kyoto accord a mistake at end of Commonwealth summit

Stephen Harper concluded a Commonwealth summit Sunday by bluntly describing the Kyoto accord as a mistake the world must never repeat. The prime minister characterized the landmark climate change deal as a flawed document and served notice that Canada will not support any new international treaty that carries its fatal flaw. Harper said the key error of Kyoto was slapping binding targets on three-dozen countries but not the rest, including some of the world's biggest polluters like the United States, China and India. So Canada will enter key negotiations on a post-Kyoto deal next month with a relatively simple position: all major polluters must be included, or there's no deal.

Harper came under fire from some quarters for promoting that view at the Commonwealth summit but was adamant that the everyone-in approach is the only solution. Harper's stance places the bar for success extremely high at upcoming United Nations talks in Bali, Indonesia, but he said it's better than the incrementalist approach of the past. "This was the Kyoto mistake," Harper told a news conference at the summit's conclusion. "We already did the 'One-third of the countries will take binding targets and let's hope the rest fall into line."' "We're already there. That hasn't worked."

Harper's remarks on Kyoto offer the latest in a series of public stances he has taken on the treaty, which demands six per cent emissions cuts below 1990 levels by 2012. Five years ago he described it as a money-sucking socialist scheme and ridiculed the science of global warming when the previous Liberal government ratified the treaty. More recently, he's simply described its targets as unattainable because of the Liberals' well-documented failure to cut emissions, a view that was reflected in his government's policy-setting throne speech.

On Sunday, he suggested Kyoto was flawed all along. "We already saw Kyoto," he said. "If we get a third of the world to sign on first and wait for the other two-thirds, it's never going to happen."

Harper says he has helped to achieve something that's never been done before: Getting the United States, China and, now, India, to agree to tackle climate change at successive international summits. At the G8, at APEC, and now with India at the Commonwealth, he got the world's biggest economies to agree to the general principle of cutting emissions. Just a few days ago at an Asian summit, India refused to endorse a resolution that called for it to strive toward undefined, so-called "aspirational" goals on greenhouse emissions. But this week, the Indians and the entire 53-member Commonwealth did sign on to such an agreement. Harper was a key player in making that happen, and some other countries were furious at Canada as a result.

To procure India's approval, the Commonwealth had to strip out any reference to binding targets in a resolution that had the support of almost any country. Some foreign diplomats were so disgusted that they sought out Canadian journalists to tell them what their country was doing behind closed doors. One called the Harper approach a perfect recipe for making sure nothing happens.

Canada was among the only countries to oppose a resolution that had called on developed countries to meet binding targets, without making any reference to developing ones like India. The other major holdout, Australia's government led by John Howard, was turfed from office in an election during the summit. Howard's successor, Kevin Rudd, has promised to sign the Kyoto accord immediately upon taking office.....

But the prime minister disputed reports that Canada was isolated at the summit and pointed out that his government helped write the climate change deal that was ultimately adopted. "For the first time in a very long time Canada's voice is being heard. And the consequence of our voice being heard is we're getting the changes we want to see," he said.


UN climate circus rolls in on CO2 cloud

IT HAS been billed as the summit that could help save the planet, but the latest United Nations climate change conference on the paradise island of Bali has itself become a major contributor to global warming. Calculations suggest flying the 15,000 politicians, civil servants, green campaigners and television crews into Indonesia will generate the equivalent of 100,000 tonnes of extra CO2. That is similar to the entire annual emissions of the African state of Chad.

When it was first conceived, only a few thousand politicians civil servants and environmentalists were expected to attend the conference - about normal for such an event. The meeting, which runs from December 3-14, aims to create the framework for a successor to the Kyoto treaty on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, which expires in 2012. However, climate change's growing political importance has led to a surge in interest in the conference, which is being held in the luxury holiday resort of Nusa Dua on Bali's palm-fringed southern coast.

Attendees are expected to include celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, the actor, as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, and Al Gore, the former US vice-president. Many are merely "observers" who have no formal role to play in the talks, which largely involve government ministers and officials. Among these observers are 20 MEPs and 18 assistants whose itinerary includes a daytrip to the idyllic fishing and surfing village of Serangan. The UN has also recently received thousands of new registrations from groups campaigning for the environment or fighting against poverty. WWF, one of the largest, is sending more than 32 staff to the meeting. Thousands more are coming from businesses, especially the burgeoning carbon trading sector, which already carries out global transactions worth œ12 billion a year and has an acute interest in the outcome of Bali.

Indonesian officials say the final tally could reach 20,000 - and fear it could stretch the resort's infrastructure to the limit. About 90% of the emissions will be generated by delegates flying thousands of miles to Bali, with the rest coming from the facilities they will be using. Chris Goodall, a carbon emissions expert who did the calculations for The Sunday Times, estimated that each person flying to Bali would, on average, generate the equivalent of 6.48 tonnes of CO2. If 15,000 people attend, this adds up to over 97,000 tonnes of CO2. To this must be added about 13,000 tonnes of CO2 from the conference venue and hotels - a total of 110,000 tonnes. Goodall, author of How to Live a Low-Carbon Life, said: "One wonders how many people would have gone if the conference had been held in a wet October in Pittsburgh." ....

Three ministers in the British delegation are staying in 330 pounds-a-night suites at the Westin Resort Nusa Dua hotel, each with their own bedroom, living room and dining room. Such apparent luxury is justified, say aides, by their need for somewhere to hold private meetings.

One of the biggest delegations is being assembled by the European Union, which is expected to send Stavros Dimas, the environment commissioner, and 90 officials. In addition, all 27 EU countries are expected to send separate national delegations. Germany has one of the biggest, with around 70, and France follows close behind with 50. Even Latvia will be represented by four delegates, while Malta, an island populated by 400,000, will have two.


Another comment on the Oppenheimer admissions

Michael Oppenheimer admits consensus skews science: 'Setting aside or minimizing the importance of key structural uncertainties in underlying processes is a frequent outcome of the drive for consensus'

In a Policy Forum article inspired by the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Oppenheimer et al. (2007) write in the 14 September issue of Science that "with the general credibility of the science of climate change established, it is now equally important that policy-makers understand the more extreme possibilities that consensus may exclude or downplay." Why is that? Because, as they continue, "setting aside or minimizing the importance of key structural uncertainties in underlying processes is a frequent outcome of the drive for consensus."

In light of this illuminating admission, we note that the setting aside of key uncertainties in the climate modeling enterprise could well lead to more extreme possibilities at both ends of the climate prognostication spectrum, such that not only may earth's surface air temperature rise somewhat more than is predicted by the current IPCC consensus, it could equally as easily rise somewhat less than that august group has opined. And for the IPCC's current full range prediction of 21st century warming (1.1-6.4øC), somewhat less warming could well turn out to be indistinguishable from no warming at all.

But how could this possibly be? The answer may well be found in the implementation of another important principle enunciated by Oppenheimer et al., i.e., their contention that the basis for quantitative uncertainty estimates "must be broadened [our italics] to give observational, paleoclimatic, or theoretical evidence of poorly understood phenomena comparable weight with evidence from numerical modeling."

As a prime example of important paleoclimatic evidence that has been largely ignored by the IPCC, we cite the stunning results of the many studies we continue to identify and analyze in our Medieval Warm Period Project, where each week we highlight the findings of a different paleoclimatic study that reveals the time domain and various climatic characteristics of this probably warmer-than-present century-scale period of a thousand years ago, when the atmosphere's CO2 concentration was only about 70% of what it is today.

A repeat performance of whatever caused that earlier warm period (it was clearly not a spike in the air's CO2 concentration) may well be what brought about the Little Ice Age-to-Current Warm Period transition; and its possible full or partial reversal some time over the next 93 years could well result in the mean global air temperature in AD 2100 being equal to -- or even less than -- today's mean air temperature.

Likewise, an example of a poorly understood phenomenon of truly huge climatic significance is the means by which small changes in solar activity are able to bring about significant changes in climate. As Lean (2005) describes it, "a major enigma is that general circulation climate models predict an immutable climate in response to decadal solar variability, whereas surface temperatures, cloud cover, drought, rainfall, tropical cyclones, and forest fires show a definite correlation with solar activity."

In a display of open-mindedness uncharacteristic of most climate alarmists, Oppenheimer et al. go on to suggest that "a special team of authors could be instructed to examine the treatment of unlikely but plausible processes," stating that such analyses might even be conducted by "competing teams of experts."

Unfortunately, past findings of the IPCC are already driving massive political and governmental actions throughout the world; and backtracking -- which is what the implementation of Oppenheimer et al.'s suggestions would effectively constitute -- simply cannot be tolerated by those who have invested so much political and economic capital in the reigning climate-change paradigm of CO2-as-global-warming-demon ... unless, of course, people suddenly come to their senses and begin paying attention to all of the pertinent scientific literature, as we attempt to do here at CO2Science.


The grinch who stole Christmas cards

Grade school pupils in Wales have been banned from exchanging cards in the name of saving the planet and its `wretched' Africans.

In recent years, as the festive season draws closer, stories inevitably emerge about how `political correctness has gone mad', with council officers censoring Christmas carols on the grounds of `religious preference', re-branding Christmas `Winterval' and preventing people from hanging up decorations or bringing home-made food to school Christmas parties in the name of `health and safety' (1). But for evidence that environmentalism is now overriding `PC' favourites like multiculturalism and health and safety, look no further than Evan James Primary School in Wales, which has banned Christmas cards - on environmental grounds.

`The reasons for not having cards are endless', head teacher Nicholas Daniels claims. Although one could speculate that a big motivating factor was to remove the crushing burden of handing out the cards from teachers (`We are a big school. We have 68 pupils in two classes in year six. The magnitude of cards is horrendous'), Daniels' argument was explicitly moral. `We did take a strong moral ground on the matter. We knew we would face opposition but we decided to do this on moral and environmental grounds. Cards in school cause litter problems and can become a popularity contest about who gets the most.' (2)

Evan James Primary School pupils are therefore prevented from handing out their own cards on school property. The head teacher at the neighbouring Parc Lewis Primary School has followed suit by discouraging cards and urging parents to `donate one pound (instead of cards) for Oxfam and we will send the money to purchase a goat or mosquito net (for a family in Africa)'. This was explicitly `to help us get the Eco School Gold Award-Green Flag' (3).

School kids are already regularly being fed alarmist stories about the coming climate apocalypse, not least through the dissemination of Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth to all schools, despite its well-understood inaccuracies. Now children are being told that even the simple pleasure of exchanging Christmas cards with their friends is sinful, and re-educated to redirect their desires away from warm human interactions to winning an `Eco School Gold Award-Green Flag'.

If the report earlier this year which suggested that half of children often lose sleep from worrying about climate change is anything to go by (4), rather than lying awake in excitement waiting for Santa Claus, children will be kept up by scary visions of climate catastrophe.

The Welsh schools' policies neatly express the general hectoring, moralising tone of environmentalists, and they show how firmly `green' ideas have taken hold in our public institutions. The message being conveyed here is, first, that regardless of how much pleasure we might get from it, consumption is wasteful, and, second, that it is even morally degenerate, since there is an implicit trade-off between Western consumption and the well-being of the world's poor. So parents are implored help `a family in Africa' instead of buying cards for their own kids.

The idea that it might be possible to expand consumption, and hence improve living conditions, in both the West and the developing world is simply not considered. Rather than being taught that the problems we face are social, and amenable to being overcome through concerted collective action, kids are being taught the reactionary dogma that society has limitations that cannot be transcended. The only way to deal with inequalities is for us Westerners to stop consuming and to donate pittances to the poor (in both senses of the word) Africans.

Imploring us to buy goats or mosquito nets for Africans instead of cards or gifts for each other does not just further a miserabilist attitude to the festive season over here, but a patronising attitude to Africans. As Sadhavi Sharma has pointed out before on spiked, rather than helping fulfil Africans' own aspirations for a developed society where they, too, can enjoy high levels of consumption, these `gifts' reinforce the image of the developing world as just a huge farm and subsistence farming as a `way of life' rather than an undignified activity that no one would engage in out of choice (5). Mosquito nets, too, are, at best, a second-best solution to a malaria pandemic that is killing a million Africans a year (6). If the schools really want to help Africa, why not raise money for the electricity, transport and communications infrastructure that would really lift communities out of grinding poverty?

There is one last twist to the story. One of the `countless reasons' given by Nicholas Daniels for banning cards was that not all children get the same amount'. So handing out cards `can become a popularity contest about who gets the most, with the risk some children could be left out' (7). So now even distributing Christmas cards has a potential `risk' attached to it. But schools cannot shield children from every potential threat to their self-esteem, and nor should they. Children don't all have the same number of friends, but no one is (yet) suggesting that we should ban friendships for fear of a negative impact on the self-esteem of those children who have few friends. Coddled children will never become sufficiently robust to deal with the fact that differences in personality and popularity are simply a fact of life.

It seems, that in the run-up to the festive season, children will just continue to learn all the wrong `facts of life': that consumption is bad, that the `poor little black babies' in Africa need you to sacrifice your Christmas cards so they can have a goat, that the environment poses absolute limits to human development, and that normal human interactions pose a threat to our basic sense of well-being. Merry Christmas, everyone.



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


26 November, 2007

Global cooling comes to Switzerland

If last season was one for Europe's skiers to forget, the coming months on the slopes look more propitious than in recent memory, thanks to large snowfalls in recent days.The white windfall, although confined to the northern Alps and omitting France, prompted some Swiss and Austrian resorts to open early. Heavy snow forecast for the southern Alps on Saturday and Sunday might trigger the same there, as ski operators on both sides of Europe's mountain divide strive to make up for the misery of last season, when poor conditions and abnormally high temperatures prompted widespread fears about global warming.

No one has forgotten about climate change but the recent low temperatures and heavy snowfalls have at least temporarily shelved the gravest fears. Such anxieties can have profound consequences on mountain communities. Austria, for example, depends on tourism for about 9 per cent of its gross domestic product: in popular winter sports regions such as the Tyrol or Vorarlberg the proportion is even higher.

The latest snowfalls - up to one metre in resorts in northern Switzerland - have come as an immense relief. Lech, the upmarket Austrian ski resort, last December repeatedly had to postpone the start of its season because of scant snow and temperatures too warm to allow for artificial snowmaking.

The weathermen are still wary of predicting whether the early promise points to a vintage winter. Switzerland's Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology will release its three-month projection next week but the one-month forecast looks encouraging: "We forecast temperatures to fall below normal next week and slightly below average for the three following ones," says Jacques Ambuehl, a Swiss meteorologist. "Although the arctic air will be relatively dry, we expect about 30cms in new snow."

In common with other experts, Mr Ambuehl is unwilling to suggest weather patterns have returned to some sort of normality after last year's unseasonably warm winter, when temperatures were about 3 degrees C above the long-term average. He is factual about events so far: "Last week's snowfalls were certainly quite extreme. We have no record, especially at mid altitudes, of such an event in the past.


IPCC: separating fact from fright

Today's alarmist claims about the planet `spinning into a troubling void' are not backed up by the findings of the latest IPCC report.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the final part of its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) at the weekend, bringing together material from the reports of three working groups published over the past year into one `synthesis report' (1). But despite the alarmist words of senior UN and IPCC officials, the report does not make the case that a climate timebomb is about to explode. We should not allow a vision of climate catastrophe - aka `The Science' - to railroad society into policy decisions that might leave humanity worse off.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon, speaking at the launch of the new report in Valencia, Spain on Sunday, described climate change as `the defining challenge of our age', though stressing that `concerted and sustained action now can still avoid some of the most catastrophic scenarios' (2). In an earlier statement in September this year, Ban told a high-level climate change meeting in New York: `Today, the time for doubt has passed. The IPCC has unequivocally affirmed the warming of our climate system, and linked it directly to human activity. The scientists have very clearly outlined the severity of the problem. Their message is quite simple: we know enough to act; if we do not act now the impact of climate change will be devastating; and we have affordable measures and technologies to begin addressing the problem right now. What we do not have is time. The time for action is now.' (3)

In other words, there is no longer room for doubt and we need to start negotiations to replace the Kyoto treaty with a new, emissions-cutting treaty that includes both developing and developed countries in its remit. But before we get bounced into this position, it is worth sounding a few notes of caution.

The report doesn't match the alarmism

The headlines from the new report, as presented by IPCC chairman Rajendra K Pachauri, include: warming of the climate system is unequivocally happening, with increasing global air and ocean temperatures; rising global average sea level; reductions of snow and ice; greater frequency of extreme events like flood-inducing rain and droughts; increased risk of species extinction; increased problems of water supply, declining food production and disease in many parts of the world.

However, behind the more alarmist statements made in press conferences, the actual IPCC working group reports - certainly as regards the physical basis for climate change - have at least engaged to some extent with alternative explanations and forecasts for warming, and have couched their assessments more carefully and cautiously than either the public pronouncements of IPCC officials or popular discussion of climate change would suggest.

So, for example, while the headlines would suggest that the Greenland ice sheet is about to melt, catastrophically resulting in sea level rises of seven metres, the report makes clear that this process would take millennia. The report actually suggests that sea level will rise over the next century by 18-59 centimetres. Meanwhile, the report says: `Current global model studies project that the Antarctic ice sheet will remain too cold for widespread surface melting and gain mass due to increased snowfall.' In other words, unless great chunks fall off the edge of the South Pole's ice sheet, the mass of ice is likely to get bigger. While the overall rise in sea levels could still be damaging to very low-lying coastal areas, there will be no need to build an ark any time soon.

You would never get this more balanced impression from the mainstream media, however. For example, the UK Independent on Sunday ran the headline: `A world dying, but can we unite to save it?' A recent environmentalist survival guidebook claimed that planet Earth is `speeding into a troubling void'. Such melodramatic outbursts have been widespread in the British and European media over the past couple of days. Television documentaries, commentators and politicians seem to be suggesting that civilisation itself is under threat, as they hint that we are heading for a future where a few hardy survivors will inhabit a scorched earth devoid of other animals or plant life, like something out of Mad Max. The truth is very different.

A damaging distraction

What the IPCC reports actually talk about are the more prosaic problems of water supply, agricultural production, disease, extreme weather events and flooding: all of these are already-existing problems, and all of them are potentially resolvable through relatively simple societal and technological developments.

Yet rather than discussing the need for more development, and a concerted global strategy to tackle social problems as they exist right now - not just in 100 years time - all of the attention and energy of political leaders is being focused on how we can stop producing so much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Any really serious attempt to cut greenhouse gas emissions - demands for a 50, 60 and even 90 per cent cut are being bandied around - would require a dramatic cut in travel and goods distribution, energy production and construction (because cement production is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions), or some other radical changes in the way that we do these things.

To attempt to force through emission cuts without having in place new, low-carbon technologies and the social infrastructure required to employ them would mean not simply cutting economic growth, but also downsizing developed economies and ditching any attempt to modernise and develop poor countries. On the basis that climate change would be detrimental to the welfare of some people, the suggestion is to impoverish everyone - to be on the safe side. That is simply irrational, and inhumane: it would leave the world's poor as they are, while making Westerners poorer, too.

Science vs `The Science'

In truth, when global leaders suggest that we must make swingeing emissions cuts, they almost certainly do so in bad faith. Such cuts are not desirable or achievable at present. However, the current concern about the environment provides leaders with a moral mission through which they can prop up political life. In an era when There is No Alternative to the free market, and the future is usually envisaged as a bleaker version of the present, politics - perhaps even society itself - appears to have no purpose. Trying to avoid global catastrophe seems the nearest thing to a big idea that can bring us all together, even if the underlying message - `humans are screwing up the planet' - is a misanthropic one.

Hence the heat and bitterness with which IPCC reports are dissected and discussed. Because if the problem seems anything less than urgent, then there's the possibility that it will be ignored by the mass of the population, or, more likely, carefully compared to other problems to see which are the most pressing. Thus, the IPCC process is a thoroughly politicised one, and it has been been since day one, as Tony Gilland has before noted on spiked (see Digging up the roots of the IPCC). The widely publicised policy documents are the result of scientific reviews being scrutinised by a rag-tag of political appointees and campaigners to produce a statement that suits a variety of agendas. Ironically, after years in which the IPCC reports have been accused of being hijacked by greens, green campaigners are now arguing that the reports are being watered down for political ends.

The reason the IPCC matters so much in public debate is not because it provides us with a summary of current climate science (which the workgroup reports do attempt to do, for better or worse), but because it provides leaders, commentators and activists with something else entirely: `The Science.' This product may look like a set of scientific statements, but is in many ways the exact opposite of science. `The Science' is `unequivocal' rather than sceptical and cautious in its conclusions; `The Science' is built on an artificial consensus rather than on a real battle of competing ideas that admits the possibility that current thinking could be completely wrong; `The Science' very strongly implies a particular direction for policy (greenhouse gas emission reductions) which is apparently above politics, rather than merely informing a political debate about how we take society forward on the basis of human need and desire.

Armed with `The Science', campaigners and politicians demand all sorts of sacrifices based on one of the few remaining sources of authority that still cuts any ice with the majority of the population. Perversely, the very success of science in improving our lives is being latched on to as a means of potentially making our lives worse in the future.

The way forward

No doubt some scientists are honestly trying to get to grips with an enormously complex system: the world's climate. And as a precautionary response to climate change, we might quite reasonably decide that efforts should be made to replace some current technologies - for example, those based on fossil fuels - with low-carbon alternatives. This would be a path that we might well choose to take even if climate change were not an issue, since viable low-carbon technologies could increase energy security and reduce other forms of pollution. We could also introduce adaptive measures now - from better flood defences to more secure forms of water supply in both developed and developing countries - that would be beneficial regardless of whether or not climate change proves to be extreme.

This kind of thing has been illustrated in Bangladesh in recent days. In 1991, a tropical cyclone brought destruction and flooding that killed about 130,000 people. Since then, the government of Bangladesh has created cyclone shelters and an early warning system. Last week's cyclone killed at least 2,000 people, and the final death toll may exceed a monumentally tragic 10,000. Yet the recent storm was, if anything, stronger than the one in 1991. If communications and infrastructure could be improved further, it is possible that widespread loss of life caused by storms in Bangladesh could become a thing of the past. It would be tragic indeed, and ironic, if we let scare stories about possible future storms distract us from improving people's living standards in Bangladesh and elsewhere right now.

While we should respect science and development, we should have little respect for `The Science'. If the more alarmist statements of the past few days are to be believed, we should all accept that we must be less well-off because our consumption would hurt people like those in Bangladesh. This scientifically suspect moral blackmail to further the aims of politicians and campaigners is - unequivocally - a change for the worse.


Commonwealth nations oppose emissions targets

THE group of 53 Commonwealth nations has shied away from introducing binding targets to reduce greenhouse gases, despite admitting climate change threatens the survival of some of their members. Australia and Canada opposed moves to introduce targets which would have committed them and their Commonwealth counterparts to cutting emissions by certain amounts, like those in the Kyoto protocol. Instead, the Commonwealth nations drew up an "action plan'' which said developed countries should take the lead in slashing emissions.

It said while they recognised climate change was a "direct threat to the very survival'' of some member states, including the Pacific island of Tuvalu which faces being washed away by rising sea levels, there should be "flexibility'' when it comes to addressing the issue. The document added that actions to address climate change beyond the Kyoto protocol's emissions targets, which expire in 2012, should have "respect for national circumstances''. "We firmly believe that no strategy or actions to deal with climate change should have the effect of depriving developing countries of the possibility of sustainable economic development,'' the document said. "Our shared goal should be to achieve a comprehensive post-2012 global agreement that strengthens, broadens, and deepens current arrangements and leads to reduced emissions of global greenhouse gases. "This should include a long term aspirational global goal for emissions reduction to which all countries would contribute.''

The heads of the Commonwealth nations signed off on the document despite calls by chairman, Malta's Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, to slash emissions targets in half by 2050. He had hoped the document would send a strong united message about the Commonwealth's commitment to tackling climate change before a major international conference on the issue begins in Bali next month.

Outgoing Commonwealth secretary-general Don McKinnon said the action plan was a "quite a leap forward''. "It certainly doesn't say that every country is going to agree to binding caps being introduced, but as a document going to Bali it is substantial,'' he said. "One of the key points of this is a recognition that some want to say a lot and some want to be a little cautious on what they should say or commit to before Bali. "To get consensus everyone had to be brought on board. There are some who are clearly not prepared to use that term binding at this stage. I say 'at this stage' (because) this is in advance of the Bali meeting.''



Isn't politics wonderful? Within days of Gordon Brown's address to the conservation group WWF, in which he pledged eye-wateringly tough reductions in British emissions of Co2, the Government has announced its support for the construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport. "This time he really gets it," Greenpeace's executive director had enthused after the Prime Minister's "Let's save the polar bear" speech. Yesterday, following the Transport Secretary's endorsement of BAA's expansion plans, Greenpeace was back to its default position, spitting ecological tacks.

You might think this is a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing (or possibly the left hand not knowing what the left hand is doing) especially given the Government's growing reputation for administrative chaos. In fact it is entirely deliberate. The Government both wants to claim "leadership in the fight against climate change" while at the same time it - quite understandably- does not want to do anything which might reduce this country's international competitiveness. It knows that these two objectives are incompatible - very well, then: it will contradict itself.

Gordon Brown's commitment to the most stringent reductions in C02 emissions yet announced by a British Prime Minister follows exactly the path set by his predecessor. Mr Blair would, with a great moral fanfare, pledge this nation to achieve some carbon emission target. Then, when it became completely clear that we were not on track to meet it, he would announce - with equal confidence and certainty - not an easier target but an even tougher one than that which we were failing to achieve.

The civil servants who live in the real world of facts and actually have to devise the practical policies to meet these political flourishes have become increasingly panicky. A month ago there was a leak of an especially desperate memo in which officials warned that the previous Prime Minister's commitment to produce 20 per cent of our energy from renewable sources by 2020 was facing "severe practical difficulties".

As we know, that is senior civil servant speak for "this will be absolutely impossible." One of the memos rather plaintively pointed out that if we admitted this publicly and tried to advocate a general lowering of such targets internationally, there would be "a potentially significant cost in terms of reduced climate change leadership".

Here we see the absurd grandiosity of our global ambitions, partly a legacy of Tony Blair's messianic approach, but which is to some extent a characteristic of the British political class as a whole. More than half a century since the collapse of the British Empire, our leaders still seem to think that what we do or say is as important in the eyes of the rest of the world as it was when we really did rule the waves. It is a grotesque vanity, economically as well as politically.

It has been written often enough that any likely reduction in Co2 emissions from our own generation of electricity is not just sub-microscopic in terms of any measurable effect on the climate: the People's Republic of China is now opening two new coal-fired power stations every week. Real "climate change leadership" would be developing "clean coal" technology and selling it to the Chinese - but for some reason that does not fascinate politicians in the way that targets do. It is insufficiently heroic.

We can see the same national self-obsession in the debate over the environmental consequences of opening a third runway at Heathrow: last year China announced plans to expand 73 of its airports and build 42 new ones. Yes, the British government could demonstrate "increased climate change leadership" by blocking BAA's plans to build another runway at Heathrow. Does anyone seriously imagine that the consequence of further congestion and delays will be something other than a transfer of traffic from that airport to others in the immediate vicinity, such as Charles de Gaulle, which already has much more capacity?

For those on the provisional wing of the British environmental movement, arguments about a loss of business to other countries are irrelevant. They would insist that this complaint makes no more sense than saying that it's necessary to sell arms to unpleasant dictatorships because if we don't, other countries will, to the benefit of their own economies.

If, like George Monbiot, you regard flying as morally equivalent to "child abuse", then, yes, the executives of BAA should be thrown in jail ( after a fair show trial, of course) and never be let out. As for any recession deriving from a closing down of Heathrow - pah! A recession would be a good thing, since it would lead to further reductions in Co2 emissions.

I accept that there will be many sensible people living in the area around the Heathrow Terminals who will not welcome the increase in planes taking off and landing. On the other hand, there has been an aerodrome at Heathrow since the 1930s and the first Terminal was opened by the Queen in 1955: that is to say, there are unlikely to be many home-owners living in the Heathrow area who bought under the impression that he or she would enjoy peace and quiet. Doubtless the property prices there reflect that fact.

Anyway, why worry about airports when we are going to ban the plastic bag? That, you will recall, was the "eye-catching initiative" within Mr Brown's WWF speech. It was artfully designed to capture the headlines in the popular press, and duly did so. The Prime Minister declared that we should "eliminate single-use plastic bags altogether in favour of more sustainable alternatives." Perhaps, since Mr Brown argued that fighting climate change was the political challenge for the younger generation, students should already have been marching on Whitehall with placards declaring "Ban the Bag."

The only problem with that is that plastic bags, though undeniably irritating when left lying around, are essentially the by-product, rather than the cause, of fossil fuel generation. Approximately 98 per cent of every barrel of oil, once refined, is consumed as petrol or diesel. If the remaining two per cent of naphtha was not used for packaging, it would almost certainly be flared off - which is pure waste.

Paper bags have the reputation of being environmentally sounder, but I don't see how this can be justified. They require significantly more space in landfill, being much less compressible - and don't they come from trees, which we are meant to be preserving as capturers of Co2? Besides, if the plastic bag is to be banned, what are we going to use to line our rubbish bins? We need to know the answer to such important questions, Prime Minister, before we allow you to put us forward as the saviours of the planet.



"The increase in China's energy demand between 2002 and 2005 was equivalent to Japan's current annual energy use." This nugget of information, buried in the International Energy Agency's latest World Energy Outlook, tells one almost all one needs to know about what is happening to the world's energy economy. Neoclassical economics analysed economic growth in terms of capital, labour and technical progress. But, I now think, it is more enlightening to view the fundamental drivers as energy and ideas. Institutions and incentives provide the framework within which the development and application of useful knowledge transforms the fossilised sunlight on which we depend into the stream of goods and services we enjoy.

This is the world of abundance that China and India are now joining. Nothing short of a catastrophe will stop them. For the pessimists, however, particularly climate-change pessimists, catastrophe will follow. What is certain is that the challenges ahead are huge. Here, then, are the highlights of the new report.

First, if governments stick with current policies (which the IEA calls the "reference scenario"), the world's energy needs will be more than 50 per cent higher in 2030 than today, with developing countries accounting for 74 per cent, and China and India alone for 45 per cent, of the growth in demand.

Second, this huge increase in overall demand occurs even though energy intensity of gross world product falls at a rate of 1.8 per cent a year.

Third, fossil fuels are forecast to account for 84 per cent of the increase in global energy consumption between 2005 and 2030.

Fourth, world oil resources are, insists the IEA, sufficient to meet demand at prices close to $60 a barrel (in 2006 dollars). But the share of world supply coming from members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will rise from 42 per cent to 52 per cent. Moreover, "a supply-side crunch in the period to 2015, involving an abrupt escalation in oil prices cannot be ruled out".

Fifth, coal's share in global commercial energy is forecast to rise from 25 per cent to 28 per cent between 2005 and 2030, because of its role in power generation. China and India already account for 45 per cent of world coal use and drive over four-fifths of the increase under the "reference scenario".

Sixth, some $22,000bn (a little under half of 2006 world gross product) will need to be invested in supply infrastructure, to meet demand over the next quarter century.

Seventh, even with radical measures to reduce the energy intensity of growth under the "alternative policy scenario", global primary energy demand would grow at 1.3 per cent a year, only 0.5 percentage points a year less than in the "reference scenario".

Eighth, China will become the world's largest energy consumer, ahead of the US, shortly after 2010.

Ninth, under the reference scenario, emissions of carbon dioxide will jump by 57 per cent between 2005 and 2030. The US, China, Russia and India alone contribute two-thirds of this increase. China becomes the world's biggest emitter this year and India the third largest by 2015.

Tenth, even under the IEA's more radical "alternative policy scenario" CO2 emissions stabilise only by 2025 and remain almost 30 per cent above 2005 levels.

The rest of the world, then, wishes to enjoy the energy-intensive lifestyles that have, hitherto, been the privilege of less than a sixth of humanity. This desire does, however, have big consequences for the world's economic, strategic and environmental future.

The obvious economic question concerns future prices. Today, the price of oil, deflated by the unit value of exports from the high-income countries, is higher than it has been since the beginning of the 20th century. Barring big technological breakthroughs in energy supply or unexpectedly large finds of oil and gas, energy would seem likely to remain relatively expensive.

Yet, to many, a surprise of the 1980s was how much supply finally came on stream and how low demand growth became after the price shocks of the 1970s. Might such an adjustment happen again and, if so, how quickly? Or should we regard the combination of fast-growing giant emerging economies and the dominance of national energy suppliers as fundamentally different?

The big strategic questions concern energy security and the shift in the balance of power towards unattractive regimes, be they Vladimir Putin's Russia, Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad's Iran or the House of Saud's Arabia.

The shift in the balance of power occurs in two ways: first, a growing proportion of the fuels vital for what we now think of as civilised life come from just a few, not necessarily friendly, suppliers; second, these countries are becoming vastly richer. Thus, Opec revenues are forecast to triple (admittedly, in depreciating dollars) between 2002 and this year.

The challenge to security comes partly from the difficulty of replacing oil as a transport fuel. Thus, the concentration of likely supply in the Middle East is, inevitably, a concern. So, too, is Europe's growing reliance on Russian gas.

Concerns over energy security also come from the potential for competition for supplies among the big consumers. The sensible approach is to rely on the market. But that may be hard when prices shoot up. At some point, American politicians may ask why the US expends blood and treasure in order to achieve security in the Middle East for the benefit of China. True imperialism - the attempt to seize energy resources for one's own benefit - would be a ghastly error. But to err is all too human.

Finally, we have global warming. Three points shine out on this. First, despite the blather, nothing effective has been done or yet seems likely to be done. Second, effective policy will require big changes in incentives across the globe, including, not least, in the large emerging economies. Third, dramatic changes in technology will also be required, the most important of which will be towards carbon-capture-and-storage at coal-fired power plants.

What is the bottom line? It is simple: commercial energy is the staff of our contemporary life. As demand for energy rises, nothing is more important than ensuring increased supply and efficient use, while curbing environmental damage. Today's high prices are a start. Fundamental innovation and high prices on greenhouse gas emissions must follow.



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


25 November, 2007


Hormesis on the road to being discovered yet again. Even exposure to a nuclear blast has bad effects only on those close to the epicenter

The more recent meltdown at the reactor in Chernobyl in 1986 reminded the world of the dangers of the atom. The incident was referred to as "nuclear genocide," and the press wrote of "forests stained red" and of deformed insects. The public was bombarded with images of Soviet cleanup crews wearing protective suits, bald-headed children with cancer and the members of cement crews who lost their lives in an attempt to seal off the cracked reactor with a concrete plug. Fifteen years after the reactor accident, the German newsmagazine Focus concluded that Chernobyl was responsible for "500,000" deaths.

Was all this just doomsday folklore? There is no doubt that large sections of the countryside were contaminated by the accident in the Ukraine. In the ensuing decades, up to 4,000 cleanup workers and residents of the more highly contaminated areas died of the long-term consequences of radiation exposure. But the six-figure death counts that opponents of nuclear power once cited are simply nonsense. In most cases, they were derived from vague "extrapolations" based on the hearsay reported by Russian dissidents. But such horror stories have remained part of the nuclear narrative to this day.

In fact, contemporaries who reported on the Chernobyl incident should have known better. Even in the 1980s, radiobiologists and radiation physicists considered the media's doomsday reports to be exaggerated.

And their suspicions have become a virtual certainty today. Groups of researchers have set up shop at all of the sites of nuclear accidents or major nuclear contamination. They work at Hanford (where the United States began producing plutonium in 1944), they conduct studies in the English town of Sellafield (where a contaminated cloud escaped from the chimney in 1957), and they study the fates of former East German uranium mineworkers in the states of Saxony and Thuringia. New mortality rates have now been compiled for all of these groups of individuals at risk. Surprisingly, the highest mortality rates were found among the East German mineworkers.

In Hiroshima, on the other hand, radioactivity claimed surprisingly few human lives. Experts now know exactly what happened in the first hours, days and weeks after the devastating atomic explosion. Almost all of Hiroshima's 140,000 victims died quickly. Either they were crushed immediately by the shock wave, or they died within the next few days of acute burns.

But the notorious radiation sickness -- a gradual ailment that leads to certain death for anyone exposed to radiation levels of 6 Gray or higher -- was rare. The reason is that Little Boy simply did not produce enough radioactivity. But what about the long-term consequences? Didn't the radiation work like a time bomb in the body?

To answer these questions, the Japanese and the Americans launched a giant epidemiological study after the war. The study included all residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who had survived the atomic explosion within a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) radius. Investigators questioned the residents to obtain their precise locations when the bomb exploded, and used this information to calculate a personal radiation dose for each resident. Data was collected for 86,572 people.

Today, 60 years later, the study's results are clear. More than 700 people eventually died as a result of radiation received from the atomic attack:

* 87 died of leukemia;
* 440 died of tumors;
* and 250 died of radiation-induced heart attacks.

In addition, 30 fetuses developed mental disabilities after they were born.

Such statistics have attracted little notice so far. The numbers cited in schoolbooks are much higher. According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, 105,000 people died of the "long-term consequences of radiation."

"For commendable reasons, many critics have greatly exaggerated the health risks of radioactivity," says Albrecht Kellerer, a Munich radiation biologist. "But contrary to widespread opinion, the number of victims is by no means in the tens of thousands."

Especially surprising, though, is that the stories of birth defects in newborns are also pure fantasy. The press has repeatedly embellished photos of a destroyed Hiroshima with those of deformed children, children without eyes or with three arms. In reality, there hasn't been a single study that provides evidence of an elevated rate of birth defects.

A final attempt to establish a connection is currently underway in Japan. The study includes 3,600 people who were unborn fetuses in their mothers' wombs on that horrific day in August 1945. But it too has failed to furnish any evidence of elevated chromosomal abnormality.

In Germany, where nuclear fears have coalesced with the fear of dying forests and mad cow disease into a general psychosis of threat, the degree of concern over nuclear radiation remains high. To this day, some are so fearful about the long-term effects of fallout from Chernobyl that they refuse to eat mushrooms from Bavaria. Even 20 years ago such behavior would not have made sense.

Officially 47 people -- members of the emergency rescue crews -- died in Chernobyl from exposure to lethal doses of radiation. This is serious enough. "But overall the amount of radiation that escaped was simply too low to claim large numbers of victims," explains Kellerer.

The iodine 131 that escaped from the reactor did end up causing severe health problems in Ukraine. It settled on meadows in the form of a fine dust, passing through the food chain, from grass to cows to milk, and eventually accumulating in the thyroid glands of children. About 4,000 children were afflicted with cancer. Less well-known, however, is the fact that only nine of those 4,000 died -- thyroid cancers are often easy to operate on. "Chernobyl was certainly a catastrophe," says GSF spokesman Heinz-J”rg Haury. "But it was also distorted and exaggerated."

More here


How sad for "hockeystick" Mann, whose last redoubt is rings from a stand of Bristlecone pines. Article below expands on my leading post of two days ago

One of the reasons I doubt that the climatologists who talk of global warming are scientists is the claim that tree rings provide precise evidence of past average temperatures that can be compared to thermometer measured temperatures.

Craig Loehle has published a study in [Energy & Environment] indicating that trees rings are not reliable for determining past temperatures. Loehle focused on the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) (1000 - 1400) which is not shown in tree rings, but is apparent using other so-called proxies.

Loehle notes that tree ring width respond to temperature in an inverse parabolic manner to temperature with growth increasing up to some optimal temperature and then decreasing with further temperature increases. In other words narrower rings could actually indicate higher temperature rather than lower temperature. Loehle suggests that higher evaporation rates at the higher temperatures may slow growth. Tree growth responds to changes in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by increasing growth as CO2 increases.

Loehle cites a satellite survey covering 1982 to 2003 that indicated in tundra areas photosynthetic activity increased, but such activity decreased in forested areas, possibly because of the density of trees. As density increases individual trees may receive less sunlight and have less energy available for growth.

Loehle doesn't examine the fact that trees reduce heating of the air by converting solar radiation into the chemical bonds of the carbon molecules deposited in the trunk. The greater the tree growth the lower the temperature if solar radiation remains constant.



(Formerly also known as "world leaders in climate policy")

Ruth Kelly's announcement in favour of further expansion at Heathrow Airport has been condemned by Green Party Principal Speaker and MEP Caroline Lucas as an act of "climate vandalism", and she accused the government of being "in denial" over climate change. "How it can be possible for the Prime Minister, just a few short days ago, to say that climate change was 'an immense challenge to the world', to which he promised to give utmost priority, in his first major speech on climate change since becoming Prime Minister - and now just a few days later, to give the green light to a major expansion of aviation, the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions? "Such behaviour isn't just pathological, it demonstrates a monumental failure of political leadership.

"The problem is the government is simultaneously committed to two completely contradictory policies. One is to cut dramatically greenhouse gas emissions. The other is to expand the aviation industry. The success of the first policy has been limited. The success of the second has been remarkable. "But it's time to challenge the political establishment to stop trying to inhabit two parallel worlds, and to accept that it simply isn't possible to expand aviation and simultaneously reduce aviation emissions. Efficiency gains via technological improvements are dwarfed by the overall growth rates, and the bottom line is simply this: the aviation industry has to stop expanding."

"Expansion at Heathrow is also likely to to breach mandatory EU air quality limit values that will apply from 2010 - I will be raising this with the Commission", she said.

Dr Lucas, who was the European Parliament's Rapporteur, or spokesperson, on aviation and environment last year, has been instrumental in developing EU legislation to try to reduce aviation emissions. Just last week, the European Parliament voted on the Commission's proposal to put the aviation sector into the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Dr Lucas said: "If emissions trading is to have a hope of reducing aviation emissions, there has to be a rigorous overall emissions cap, and serious limits to the amount of extra permits aviation is allowed to buy from other sources (ie, other industrial sectors, or projects abroad). Sadly, these two provisions were conspicuous by their absence in the commission proposal, but on the latter at least, I'm very pleased the Parliament has accepted my amendment to introduce such limits."


Paint it white

Amid all the talk of cutting carbon emissions, we never hear about the simple solutions that can make a vast difference to temperatures

By Bjorn Lomborg

It's possible to see, right now, what global warming will eventually do to the planet. To peek into the future, all we have to do is go to Beijing, Athens, Tokyo, or, in fact, just about any city on Earth. Most of the world's urban areas have already experienced far more dramatic temperature hikes over the past few decades than the 2.6C increase expected from global warming over the next hundred years.

It's simple enough to understand. On a hot day in New York, locals sprawl out on the grass fields of Central Park, not on asphalt parking lots or concrete sidewalks. Bricks, concrete, and asphalt - the building blocks from which cities are made - absorb much more heat from the sun than vegetation does in the countryside. Across an entire city, there's much more tarmac than there is grass. So the air above the city heats up. This effect, called an "urban heat island," was discovered in London in the early 1800's.

Today, the fastest-growing cities are in Asia. Beijing is roughly 10C hotter than the nearby countryside in the daytime and 5.5C warmer at night. There are even more dramatic increases in Tokyo. In August, temperatures there climbed 12.5C above the surrounding countryside, reaching 40C - a scorching heat that affected not only the downtown area, but also covered some 8,000 square kilometers.

Looking at a fast-growing city like Houston, Texas, we can see the real effect of the urban heat island. Over the last 12 years, Houston grew by 20%, or 300,000 inhabitants. During that time, the night-time temperature increased about 0.8C. Over a hundred-year period, that would translate to a whopping 7C increase. But, while celebrity activists warn about the impending doom posed by climate change, a more realistic view is offered by these cities' ability to cope. Despite dramatic increases over the past 50 or 100 years, these cities have not come tumbling down. Even as temperatures have risen, heat-related deaths have decreased, owing to improved health care, access to medical facilities, and air-conditioning. We have far more money and much greater technological ability to adapt than our forebears ever did.

Of course, cities also will be hit by temperature increases from CO2, in addition to further warming from urban heat islands. But we have an opportunity to act. Unlike our forebears, who did very little or nothing about urban heat islands, we are in a good position to tackle many of their effects.

While celebrity activists focus entirely on cutting CO2, we could do much more - and at much lower cost - if we addressed urban heat islands. Simple solutions can make a vast difference to temperatures. Cities are hotter than the land around them because they are drier. They lack moist green spaces and have drainage systems that efficiently remove water. In London, the air around the river Thames is cooler than it is a few blocks away in built-up areas. If we plant trees and build water features, we won't just beautify our surroundings, but we'll also cool things down - by upwards of 8C, according to climate models.

Moreover, although it may seem almost comically straightforward, one of the best temperature-reducing approaches is very simple: paint things white. Cities have a lot of black asphalt and dark, heat-absorbing structures. By increasing reflection and shade, a great deal of heat build-up can be avoided. Paint most of a city and you could lower the temperature by 10C.

These options are simple, obvious, and cost-effective. Consider Los Angeles. Reroofing most of the city's five million homes in lighter colours, painting a quarter of the roads and planting 11m trees would have a one-time cost of about $1bn. Each year after that, this would lower air conditioning costs by about $170m and provide $360m in smog-reduction benefits. And it would lower LA temperatures by about 3C - or about the temperature increase envisioned for the rest of this century. Compare that to the $180bn cost of implementing the Kyoto Protocol, which will have virtually no effect.

At the moment, we don't hear much about the smartest choices when it comes to addressing global warming. That needs to change. We do get to choose which future we want.


Meet the women who won't have babies - because they're not eco friendly

Gullible fools

Had Toni Vernelli gone ahead with her pregnancy ten years ago, she would know at first hand what it is like to cradle her own baby, to have a pair of innocent eyes gazing up at her with unconditional love, to feel a little hand slipping into hers - and a voice calling her Mummy. But the very thought makes her shudder with horror. Because when Toni terminated her pregnancy, she did so in the firm belief she was helping to save the planet.

Incredibly, so determined was she that the terrible "mistake" of pregnancy should never happen again, that she begged the doctor who performed the abortion to sterilise her at the same time. He refused, but Toni - who works for an environmental charity - "relentlessly hunted down a doctor who would perform the irreversible surgery. Finally, eight years ago, Toni got her way. At the age of 27 this young woman at the height of her reproductive years was sterilised to "protect the planet".

Incredibly, instead of mourning the loss of a family that never was, her boyfriend (now husband) presented her with a congratulations card. While some might think it strange to celebrate the reversal of nature and denial of motherhood, Toni relishes her decision with an almost religious zeal. "Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet," says Toni, 35. "Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population."

While most parents view their children as the ultimate miracle of nature, Toni seems to see them as a sinister threat to the future. It's an extreme stance which one might imagine is born from an unhappy childhood or an upbringing among parents who share similar, strong beliefs. But nothing in Toni's safe, middle- class upbringing gave any clues as to the views which would shape her adult life. The eldest of three daughters, she enjoyed a loving, close-knit family life. She excelled at her Roman Catholic school, and her doting parents fully expected her to grow up, settle down and start a family of her own.

"When I finished school, I got a job in retail and at 19, I met my first husband," says Toni. "No sooner had we finished our wedding cake than all our relatives started to ask when they could expect a new addition to the family. "I always told them that would never happen, but no one listened. "When I was a child, I loved bird-watching, and in my teens that developed into a passion for the environment as well as the welfare of animals - I became a vegetarian when I was 15. "Even my parents used to smile and say: 'You'll change your mind one day about babies.' "The only person who understood how I felt was my first husband, who didn't want children either. "We both passionately wanted to save the planet - not produce a new life which would only add to the problem."



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


24 November, 2007


An email from Roger Helmer [], Conservative Member of the European Parliament

You may be interested in the letter below which I sent today to the Environment Editor of the Daily Telegraph, Charles Clover:

Dear Charles,

I was surprised to read in your piece in the DT yesterday that "no politician from a British party would side with the flat-earthers" (in your charming phrase) in the climate debate. I am afraid you are wrong. I myself have been campaigning against climate alarmism for some time. Only in April I conducted a major and very successful conference presenting the case against global warming hysteria, here in the European parliament in Brussels. My key-note speaker was former Chancellor Lord Lawson of Blaby, who shares my view on the issue. I also took the issue to a packed fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference in October.

The evidence shows that climate drives CO2 levels, not vice versa. And as an erstwhile mathematician, I know that the climate forcing effect of atmospheric CO2 is not linear, and certainly not exponential (as hinted at in Al Gore's mendacious disaster movie). It is logarithmic. We are already well up the curve, and further increases in CO2 levels will have a marginal effect on climate.

In the eighteenth century William Herschel showed that sunspots drive the price of wheat. We can now explain this phenomenon -- sunspots lead to an increase in the Sun's magnetic field, which reduces the cosmic ray flux in our upper atmosphere and reduces cloud formation, leading to warmer weather, higher crop yields and lower grain prices. Yet now you describe those who recognise that the Sun drives climate as "flat-earthers".

You would do well to read your fellow columnist Jan Moir in today's paper. "I've yet to meet the person, politician or otherwise, who takes carbon emissions seriously". This is my experience. While organisations, companies, political parties and the media buy into climate alarmism at the official level, I am astonished by the large numbers of well-informed people who admit privately that it's nonsense. This is a scare like the Millennium Bug. We shall look back from the cold winters of the 2020s and be astonished at our gullibility.

To be fair, the Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph have given a good platform to the other side of the debate. But I am disappointed that you personally seem to see no need to report in a balanced way, but have chosen to act as a cheerleader for the alarmists.


Malcolm B Duncan presents his critical analysis of Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis Summary for Policy Makers released by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change

Both scientific method and the law teach one to be skeptical and base one's conclusions on evidence. Steeped in both, I remain a climate change skeptic in the sense that, save for the effect of CFCs on the ozone layer, I can see no convincing evidence for human induced effects on the climate. By the same token, I remain agnostic on the issue: if there is evidence, I should like to see it. I have asked for it but not seen it. There are quite sensible things we should be doing like promoting our best renewable energy source, the sun. There are good reasons for conserving oil - we're going to need it for plastics not fuel. We can probably solve our water problems by putting some serious money into generating hydrogen from water using solar power and pumping it to where we need water. Then we burn it. Hey presto - water - as much as you want. Obviously research needs to be done into the effects of the energy use but that's what science is for. Using less coal would probably be a good idea but in order to do that we have to work out a way of replacing the revenue. We'll come to that - it's called policy. Pity none of the political parties has it.

Climate changes all the time and the planet is a dynamic system. One significant eruption would change the face of the planet entirely and there is constant production of greenhouse gas through tectonic plate movement particularly in the Pacific rift. Tim Flannery, who I find incredibly unconvincing, lets the cat out of the bag with a diagramme on p 60 of The Weather Makers. He uses ice core samples to determine greenhouse levels over time but, of course, that is only a measure of what is happening at the surface. There has simply not been a sufficient period of time for atmospheric research to show what has been happening in the upper atmosphere over centuries - we simply did not have the capacity until recently to take measurements. That means that the arguments being propounded surrounding "Climate Change" are relatively short-term.

That brings me to the Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis Summary for Policy Makers released by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change. Now, I have little or no time for the UN. It strikes me that it is a convenient way for a lot of parasites to make a much better quid than they could at home. It certainly has not brought peace to the world or an end to poverty or suffering. Sometimes, however, it does reasonable science. Let's look at how reasonable this science is. Despite all the rhetoric, as all good science does, this document is hedged with qualifications. First there is the assertion (p 2):

Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values determined from ice cores (my emphasis)

Yet the explanation given includes this:

The annual carbon dioxide concentration growth-rate was larger during the last 10 years (1995-2005 average: 1.9 ppm per year) than it has been since the beginning of continuous atmospheric measurements (1960-2005 average 1.4 ppm per year) although there is year-to-year variability in growth rates

That's right: they've only been doing serious continuous measurements since 1960. A footnote says:

Climate Change in IPCC usage refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity.

Hmmm, so we're not necessarily talking about human activity as a factor. In the rest of the report, that just gets glossed over and of course it is ignored by every Climate Change nutter activist and journalist who says anything about the issue. In discussing sea levels, the report notes (p 5):

Whether the faster rate for 1993 to 2003 reflects decadal variability or an increase in the longer-term trend is unclear.

We know, of course, sea levels change radically over time: East of Eden. The limestone in the Atherton tablelands used to be the Great Barrier Reef etc. Then there's sea ice (p 6):

Antarctic sea ice continues to show inter-annual variability and localized changes but no statistically significant average trends

You don't read that in the newspapers. On p 8 we get this statement which I find interesting:

Paleoclimate information supports the interpretation that the warmth of the last half century is unusual in at least the previous 1300 years. The last time the polar regions were significantly warmer than present for an extended period (about 125,000 years ago) reductions in polar ice volume led to 4 to 6 metres of sea level rise.

I can't help wondering exactly how much coal humans were burning 125,000 years ago. Oh, and its happened before has it? Happens cyclically all the time over long periods. There is no discussion of the effect the deforestation of either the Australian continent or Europe had on the planet although I should have thought, according to the current popular orthodoxy, there would have to be a significant effect from both which would show up in ice core samples if that were a valid methodology. Its one of the reasons I don't think it is. Now, here's the likely bit (p 9):

The observed pattern of tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling is very likely due to the combined influences of greenhouse gas increases and stratospheric ozone depletion.

Conveniently, there is no attempt to attribute any percentage to either. Perhaps that's because it's not possible. Then there's the gloom and doom (p 12):

Anthropogenic warming and sea level rises would continue for centuries due to the timescales associated with climate processes and feedbacks, even if greenhouse gas concentrations were to be stabilized.

It strikes me that there are two points here. First, the idea that the dynamic system adjusts itself over centuries does not fit with a lot of the short-term measurement in the study itself and, secondly, if they're right, we're probably stuffed anyway. In the notes to the diagramme on p 16, there is this gem:

Volcanic aerosols contribute an additional natural forcing but are not included in this figure due to their episodic nature

Don't you love scientific rigour? We'll just leave out a major contributing factor that happens to be natural. Ripper. For all those reasons, I remain unconvinced.


Coffee, tea... eco-guilt?

Virgin Atlantic's attempt to shame its passengers into onboard eco-penance is the latest flight of fancy from a guilt-ridden aviation industry.

Playing on people's guilt is the oldest trick in the book when it comes to charity fundraising. But the airline Virgin Atlantic has taken the concept to the extreme by trying to shame its passengers into donating money to the Swiss-based charity myclimate. If your idea of a holiday is a guilt-free escape from everyday life, then a Virgin Atlantic flight is sure to rid you of that apparently selfish delusion.

Virgin cabin crew have been instructed to offer passengers `carbon offsets' along with the booze, perfume and other items on sale on the in-flight duty free trolleys. As a Virgin spokesman told The Times (London): `If the person sitting next to you chooses to offset their flight, it may prick your conscience and you may pay too.' (1)

Prices of offsets vary according to the distance of the journey and the class you fly in. Using tenuous calculations to assess their passengers' impact on the planet (2), Virgin has figured out how much we must cough up to cleanse the filth generated by our energy-guzzling lifestyles. An economy-class return flight from London to New York will set you back just o11.98. This money will go to myclimate, which supports projects in the field of renewable energies and energy efficiency in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

No, 11.98 pounds is not a lot of money, but that's not the point. Not only does carbon-offsetting resemble a modern form of penance, encouraging us relatively wealthy Westerners to feel guilty about our convenient lifestyles, but the charities that promote offsets apparently have little time for public engagement and activism in order to convince us of their worth. Instead, they opt for simply selling us the feelgood factor.

Moreover, rather than working for genuine global material equality, many carbon-trading organisations only work towards sustainable underdevelopment for Third World residents - effectively, as Brendan O'Neill has argued on spiked, subjecting people in the Third World to `eco-enslavement' (3). So why should we be coerced by Virgin and others into supporting them?

Many airlines now offer carbon-offset options to customers as part of their online booking procedures, but there has been a slow uptake. Apparently, holidaymakers are reluctant to spend more on their travels in order to offset their carbon emissions. Some tourist agencies are trying to get around their customers' impertinence by introducing underhand methods to get them to repent their carbon sins. The tour operator First Choice, for instance, not only donates to the Travel Foundation, a charity that supports sustainable tourism projects around the world, but has also introduced an `opt out' carbon-offset scheme for its customers. Unless they specifically request otherwise, adults pay 1 pound and children 50 pence to offset emissions from their flights. First Choice then matches all donations (4).

Yet Virgin Atlantic's scheme takes the prize, because sitting crammed in an airplane seat, buckled up and with the aisle blocked by a duty-free trolley, there isn't much you can do to avoid the imploring carbon traders. Annoying as those street `charity muggers' are, stopping us on every corner to ask leading, conscience-twisting questions like `Do you care for the elderly?' or `Are you willing to spare two minutes for cancer research?', at least you can easily brush them off. On a plane, there is no escape.

Some of the money donated by Virgin passengers to myclimate will go towards supporting a power plant in India that runs on farming waste such as sugar cane husks. The purpose of this project is to use biomass as a fuel for energy production and to avoid waste materials rotting in the fields, where they release greenhouse gases and pollute the environment (5).

Sounds harmless. Yet biomass is a medieval fuel source and is not suitable for a twenty-first century energy supply. It could be argued that as an intermediary solution for impoverished rural communities, projects such as that run by myclimate make sense. Yet there is no sign that myclimate or other environmental charities would support those communities to move towards the modern forms of energy supplies that we in the West benefit from. In the developed world, we now take things like getting light by the flick of a switch or travelling great distances in a few hours for granted. Why should we feel guilty about this - and worse offset our guilt by donating to charities that seem designed to prevent people in the Third World from having as much as we have?

Flying, once an activity associated with freedom and discovery, and later seen as an immensely practical means of transportation, is now increasingly viewed as a mode of global destruction. Those who take flights are seen as selfish or even sinful and there is an array of campaigns to reduce air travel and to encourage us to make up for our planetary impact by donating money to carbon-offset schemes. By seeking absolution for our eco-sins in this way, the logic goes, we can continue to fly and at the same time silence that niggling thought that we are contributing to climate change. I'm not a Catholic, but I'm beginning to get a sense of what it might feel like to be one.


It's time for all-out war on malaria

Bed-nets are not going to be enough if we're serious about eradicating a disease that kills a million Africans a year. Dreadful to state the obvious but bed nights only protect you at night. Pesky that mosquitoes also bite during the day, isn't it?.

If an accident kills wildlife or people, punishment is meted out and restitution made. A host of regulators, lawyers, judges, activists, journalists and politicians help bring the wrongdoers to justice.

But when it comes to policies and programmes that sicken and kill millions of parents and children a year, these ethics cops and eco-warriors are not just silent. They refuse to hold government agencies and activist groups to the same honesty and accountability standards they apply to for-profit companies. They even oppose programmes that would reduce disease and save lives.

More than two billion people worldwide are at risk of getting malaria, and 350-500million contract it every year, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa. The disease kills up to a million African children annually, making it the continent's greatest executioner of children under age five. In Uganda alone, 60million cases of malaria caused 110,000 deaths in 2005 (1). In its Apac District, a person is likely to be bitten 1,560 times a year by mosquitoes infected with malaria parasites. The disease also perpetuates poverty (sick people can't work) and increases deaths from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, diarrhoea and malnutrition.

Controlling and eradicating this serial killer ought to be a global priority. But far too many organisations fail to take sufficient measures, while others actively oppose critically needed interventions.

UNICEF partners with Malaria No More to raise money from donors, distribute educational materials and long-lasting insecticide-treated bednets (LLINs), provide anti-malarial drugs, and save lives. `Sometimes' they organise teams to spray insecticides on the inside walls of houses, to `kill the female mosquito after she feeds on a person' (and frequently infects him or her). Under `some special circumstances', they support treating mosquito-breeding sites, if the larvacides are `environmentally friendly'.

All these interventions will help reduce disease and death tolls. They will garner plaudits from environmental activists. But these limited measures will not result in No More Malaria. Unless and until their programmes include regular use of larvacides and insecticides to control mosquitoes, and DDT in selected cases to keep the flying killers out of houses, UNICEF and MNM will not even come close to reducing malaria cases and deaths to what a moral person would deem tolerable levels: close to zero - not 50 per cent or even 25 per cent of current levels.

Kenya claims widespread distribution of insecticide-treated nets cut malaria deaths in half, in the short run anyway, when regular compliance was monitored. But that means 15,000 people are still dying each year. For Uganda, a 50 per cent reduction via nets would mean 30million cases of malaria and 55,000 deaths. Uganda's Ministry of Health recently studied 410 children who had been given LLINs and instructed in how to use them. Within two to three weeks, 52 per cent of the children were again infected with malaria. `The use of nets relies greatly on behavioral change and compliance, while indoor spraying eliminates that factor and protects everyone in the sprayed house', noted malaria programme director John Rwakimari. And yet misguided aid agencies, radical environmentalists and pseudo ethicists are telling African nations they should be happy with nets, use of limited insecticides `sometimes', and a 50 per cent reduction in malaria cases and deaths - because these activists in malaria-free countries dislike chemicals.

Equally unacceptable, 60 per cent of African child malaria victims are still being `treated' with chloroquine, which no longer kills African plasmodium parasites. The typical justification is that chloroquine is much less expensive than Artemisia-based combination therapies (ACT drugs) that do work. In other words, medical malpractitioners are saying it is better to give millions of children cheap drugs that don't work, and let thousands of them die, than it is to give fewer children more expensive drugs that work, and ensure that they live. By failing to support chemical mosquito killers and repellants, they are also guaranteeing tens of millions of needless malaria cases every year, continued shortfalls of effective medicines, and countless unnecessary deaths.

That is unforgivable, unconscionable and immoral. To achieve moral levels of malaria, countries need comprehensive, integrated programmes that include every weapon in the arsenal. None is appropriate in all places, at all times. But all must be available, so that they can be employed at the proper time and place. That is why the US Agency for International Development, the US President's Malaria Initiative and the World Health Organisation determined that these chemical weapons are vital in the war on malaria, and safe for people and the environment. Larvacides, insecticides and DDT - in conjunction with nets and other interventions - can reduce the number of malaria victims dramatically, and ensure that people who still get malaria can be treated with ACT drugs like Coartem. These truly integrated strategies have enabled South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland and Zanzibar to largely eradicate malaria.

Uganda, where I just spent a week on an anti-malaria mission, is using larvacides, insecticides, nets and other interventions. It has sprayed 95 per cent of households in the Kabale District (with the pesticide Icon) - and slashed the prevalence of malaria parasites in residents from 30 per cent before spraying to 3 per cent afterwards. Three other districts have also been sprayed, and Uganda's Ministry of Health plans to spray another 15 highly endemic areas in 2008, including the Apac District. In January, it will add DDT to its programme, for indoor residual spraying that will keep at least 70 per cent of mosquitoes from entering homes for up to eight months, with a single application.

Radical environmentalists are trying to stir up opposition to DDT and other spraying programmes, and some people in USAID and WHO continue undermining efforts to utilise chemical interventions. However, Uganda is adamant about ending the needless slaughter of its children and parents. President Yoweri Museveni, director general of health services Sam Zaramba and other leaders know DDT will save lives.

Anti-pesticide activists claim insecticide spraying is not sustainable. They are wrong - on financial, practical, public health and moral grounds. What are not sustainable are nothing-but-nets programmes that require constant monitoring to ensure daily use and moderate success - while raising the risk that mosquitoes will become resistant to pyrethroid pesticides that impregnate the nets, and parasites will become resistant to drugs that by default become the primary weapon in the war on malaria. What are truly not sustainable are unconscionable malaria tolls that result from politically correct policies that are best described as lethal experimentation on African children.


Global Warming's Bottom Line

By Steven Milloy

Sen. Hillary Clinton last week proposed that publicly-owned companies should be required to disclose to shareholders the financial impacts of global warming. Financial reality, however, is already overtaking the financial fantasy of climate alarmists.

The idea behind Sen. Clinton's proposal - and other similar efforts by other Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and the environmental advocacy group Ceres, to name a few - is that the alleged environmental consequences of global warming, ranging from drought and wildfires to lawsuits against energy companies and automobile manufacturers, pose significant financial risks that ought to be disclosed to shareholders.

Putting aside that weather-related events can't be tied to man-made emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), and that it's the Democrat-supporting environmental advocacy groups that are banging the drum for global warming-related litigation, Sen. Clinton's proposal completely ignores the real climate-related threats to business: the alarmism itself and attendant government regulation.

To illustrate this point, my colleague Tom Borelli and I examined some ongoing climate alarmism-related financial risks faced by the 20-plus corporate members of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a coalition of corporations and environmental advocacy groups lobbying for global warming regulation. Congress and the state of California, for example, are considering legislation to ban by 2012 the incandescent light bulb, thereby forcing consumers to buy compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Because USCAP member General Electric manufactures CFLs in China, it now faces labor problems with its U.S. employees who make incandescent bulbs. Ironically, GE is working on a more efficient incandescent bulb that is slated to be available by 2010 - just in time to be banned.

Speaking of CFLs, let's not forget the mass tort lawsuit potential against manufacturers and sellers of potentially billions of mercury-containing CFL light bulbs that require special clean-up and disposal procedures.

GE also has a business interest in coal -- a major source of CO2 emissions. The company makes turbines for traditional coal-fired power plants and is developing so-called "Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle" (IGCC) technology - a system for capturing CO2 from coal-fired electricity plants. Although GE needs greenhouse gas regulations to drive growth for IGCC, its entire coal business is threatened by alarmism and regulation that would ban or greatly reduce the use of coal-fired power plants. Recent environmental group pressure caused the cancellation of eight coal-fired power plants that TXU Corp. planned to build. The cancellation caused, in turn, TXU to cancel its orders with GE for steam turbine generators.

USCAP member PepsiCo's bottled water business is also being jeopardized by promotion of global warming alarmism. The mayor of San Francisco recently banned the purchase of bottled water by the city government because plastic bottles sold to U.S. consumers "require about 47 million gallons of oil, the equivalent of one billion pounds of CO2 that is released into the atmosphere." San Francisco is not an isolated case. The mayor of Salt Lake City is urging the U.S. Conference of Mayors to promote tap water as a way to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, if bottled water is bad for the climate, it may be tough for PepsiCo to argue that other drinks in plastic bottles aren't similarly harmful to the climate.

A recent Congressional Budget Office study that found coal production would drop by 40 percent under global warming regulation. You might think that would cause heavy-equipment manufacturer Caterpillar - whose biggest customers include coal mining companies - to think twice before joining USCAP, but you'd be wrong. At least one coal company is now boycotting Caterpillar products because of its participation in USCAP.

Energy-intensive companies like USCAP members Alcoa, Alcan, Dow Chemical and DuPont already disclose in government filings that high-energy prices a near-certain outcome of global warming regulation are a significant business risk. While these companies may plan to offset higher energy prices and even profit by selling any carbon credits given to them for free by Congress as part of a cap-and-trade scheme, there is no guarantee that these companies will attain the favorable legislation they seek.

As the politics of windfall, pork-barrel global warming profits for special business interests become untenable, it is quite possible that Congress may decide to auction the carbon credits instead of giving them away. Companies that counted on free carbon credits may find that auctioned ones are a financial loser.

The corporate failure to disclose the risk of global warming regulation goes beyond USCAP members. Wal-Mart actively promotes the notion that action needs to be taken against global warming, despite the likelihood of high energy prices. The company's disappointing earnings in August 2007, after all, were attributed to an "increase in the cost of living and gas prices" and the fact that "many customers are running out of money towards the end of the month."

High-energy prices will significantly increase the cost of Wal-Mart's operations since it's the largest private user of electricity in the U.S. Each of its 2,074 supercenters uses an average of 1.5 million kilowatts annually - enough as a group to power some small countries. Wal-Mart's fleet of trucks is the second largest and travel a billion miles a year.

The irony in all this, of course, is that many businesses are actually pushing Congress to make global warming-related financial risks come true. Do these companies know something that we don't? Or is this just reckless political correctness? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, shouldn't shareholder be told about the risks related to global warming alarmism?



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


23 November, 2007


Journal abstract and graph below:

Energy & Environment, 2007, 18(7-8): 1049-1058

A 2000-year global temperature reconstruction based on non-treering proxies

By Loehle, C.

Historical data provide a baseline for judging how anomalous recent temperature changes are and for assessing the degree to which organisms are likely to be adversely affected by current or future warming. Climate histories are commonly reconstructed from a variety of sources, including ice cores, tree rings, and sediment. Tree-ring data, being the most abundant for recent centuries, tend to dominate reconstructions. There are reasons to believe that tree ring data may not properly capture long-term climate changes. In this study, eighteen 2000-year-long series were obtained that were not based on tree ring data. Data in each series were smoothed with a 30-year running mean. All data were then converted to anomalies by subtracting the mean of each series from that series. The overall mean series was then computed by simple averaging. The mean time series shows quite coherent structure. The mean series shows the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age (LIA) quite clearly, with the MWP being approximately 0.3°C warmer than 20th century values at these eighteen sites.


Have a Green Thanksgiving

Worries over calories or family squabbles pale in comparison: Make room for a green Thanksgiving, which has nothing to do with broccoli and everything to do with guilt. Scolds and activists have descended upon tomorrow's feast, demanding Americans serve a "sustainable" meal that conforms to a brisk list of eco-conscious dictums. It can boil down to finicky details.

"Serve tap water instead of bottled at your holiday table and cut down on plastic bottles," noted the World Wildlife Fund yesterday in its top-10 tips for a low-impact Thanksgiving. "Serve wine sealed with a cork not a plastic stopper."

The D.C.-based conservation group also recommends online shopping, centerpieces made from backyard brambles, minimal packaging on food items and an attitude adjustment. "Although Thanksgiving is supposed to be a feast, don't prepare more food than will be eaten. American's throw out nearly 40 percent of their food. This year, encourage guests to clean their plates," they advised.

This year, one must practice "local eating for global change," said Canadian-based cookbook author Alisa Smith. If the turkey, veggies, breads and other holiday menu staples are not grown or produced within 100 miles of home, forget it. Such items require too much fossil fuel to get them from field to table, Ms. Smith reasoned — but her logic has serious impact on granny's traditions. Cinnamon and nutmeg are verboten in the pumpkin pie, for example; both spices are imported. And unless a bog is down the block, cranberries can be on the no-no list as well.

More here

An awkward admission from some Warmist scientists

In a Policy Forum article inspired by the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Oppenheimer et al. (2007) write in the 14 September issue of Science that "with the general credibility of the science of climate change established, it is now equally important that policy-makers understand the more extreme possibilities that consensus may exclude or downplay." Why is that? Because, as they continue, "setting aside or minimizing the importance of key structural uncertainties in underlying processes is a frequent outcome of the drive for consensus."

In light of this illuminating admission, we note that the setting aside of key uncertainties in the climate modeling enterprise could well lead to more extreme possibilities at both ends of the climate prognostication spectrum, such that not only may earth's surface air temperature rise somewhat more than is predicted by the current IPCC consensus, it could equally as easily rise somewhat less than that august group has opined. And for the IPCC's current full range prediction of 21st century warming (1.1-6.4øC), somewhat less warming could well turn out to be indistinguishable from no warming at all.

But how could this possibly be? The answer may well be found in the implementation of another important principle enunciated by Oppenheimer et al., i.e., their contention that the basis for quantitative uncertainty estimates "must be broadened [our italics] to give observational, paleoclimatic, or theoretical evidence of poorly understood phenomena comparable weight [our italics] with evidence from numerical modeling."

As a prime example of important paleoclimatic evidence that has been largely ignored by the IPCC, we cite the stunning results of the many studies we continue to identify and analyze in our Medieval Warm Period Project, where each week we highlight the findings of a different paleoclimatic study that reveals the time domain and various climatic characteristics of this probably warmer-than-present century-scale period of a thousand years ago, when the atmosphere's CO2 concentration was only about 70% of what it is today. A repeat performance of whatever caused that earlier warm period (it was clearly not a spike in the air's CO2 concentration) may well be what brought about the Little Ice Age-to-Current Warm Period transition; and its possible full or partial reversal some time over the next 93 years could well result in the mean global air temperature in AD 2100 being equal to -- or even less than -- today's mean air temperature.

Likewise, an example of a poorly understood phenomenon of truly huge climatic significance is the means by which small changes in solar activity are able to bring about significant changes in climate. As Lean (2005) describes it, "a major enigma is that general circulation climate models predict an immutable climate in response to decadal solar variability, whereas surface temperatures, cloud cover, drought, rainfall, tropical cyclones, and forest fires show a definite correlation with solar activity."

In a display of open-mindedness uncharacteristic of most climate alarmists, Oppenheimer et al. go on to suggest that "a special team of authors could be instructed to examine the treatment of unlikely but plausible processes," stating that such analyses might even be conducted by "competing teams of experts." Unfortunately, past findings of the IPCC are already driving massive political and governmental actions throughout the world; and backtracking -- which is what the implementation of Oppenheimer et al.'s suggestions would effectively constitute -- simply cannot be tolerated by those who have invested so much political and economic capital in the reigning climate-change paradigm of CO2-as-global-warming-demon ... unless, of course, people suddenly come to their senses and begin paying attention to all of the pertinent scientific literature, as we attempt to do here at CO2Science.


Environmentalism in an historical context

By Sean Gabb

According to all the newspapers and television stations and all the politicians, we are facing a serious environmental crisis. We are told that global temperatures are rising, and that they are rising because of economic development, and that, unless we make radical changes to the ways in which we live, sea levels will rise and the world in general will become less pleasant.

I am not a scientist, and I am not competent to examine the detailed claims about the nature and extent and causes of global warming. But I believe these claims are all lies. I believe they are the latest attempt by some very nasty people to stop the progress of the human race to unlimited self-improvement.

History and Class Oppression

Until about 250 year ago, the normal situation of humanity was stagnation. There might be ages of improvement, but these hardly ever improved the lives of the poorest, and they were always followed by a decline of economic activity. This was a world in which society was shaped like a broad pyramid-a very small ruling class enjoying fabulous wealth and status, and a great mass or ordinary people at the bottom living in poverty. It was a world in which more than half of all children born died before they reached the age of five, and in which the great majority of ordinary people died in their thirties.

The libertarian revolutions of the 17th century in England led to a sudden increase in general wealth during the 18th century. By around 1800, it was plain that this was an improvement unlike any other before. For the first time, larger and larger numbers of ordinary people were enjoying cheaper and better food and clothing. Other European governments looked on this with envy, as greater national wealth meant greater military power.

But many, both abroad and in England, were concerned about the social and political impact of these developments. They meant that more and more ordinary people were moving about and improving their lives, and they were thinking for themselves, and beginning to question political arrangements that delivered immense differences of wealth and status.

The Reaction

The first reaction against market liberalism was purely conservative. Churches and landowning interests put much effort into defending the old order of things. Look, for example, at this verse from a Church of England hymn:

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate

The meaning of this is that God had given everyone a certain position in the world, and this position had to be accepted without complaint or attempts at change. Without massive government force behind it, this sort of reaction was a failure in every place it was tried. Even there, it tended to fail. No dungeons in this world, or threats of hellfire in the next, could stifle the news of freedom and enrichment.

And so the next step in reaction was to disguise conservatism as progress. Ideologies were developed that looked progressive, but the effect of which would be to stop all further progress. That is the significance of many kinds of socialism and particularly Marxism. These doctrines spoke about equality and freedom and growing wealth, but were obviously about the exact opposite. Even before the first socialist experiments, liberals were analysing the socialist claims and announcing that a socialist society would be a dictatorship in which the great majority of ordinary people would be made poor again.

This was the result of actually existing socialism in the 20th century. Countries like Russia, East Germany and Czechoslovakia had fast economic development among their stated goals. In fact, the only really growth was in the amount of pollution their factories produced. The only liberty and equality and economic development that have ever been seen have taken place in countries like England and America and Germany and Japan- where people have mostly been left alone to look after themselves and their families.

With the collapse of socialism at the end of the 1980s, it looked for a moment as if all the barriers had been lifted to unlimited improvement for the whole human race. It seemed that we could look forward to a world in which everyone had a motor car and a refrigerator and a telephone.

Environmentalism: The Last Communist Refuge

Then the environmental movement grew big. This had been around since the early 1960s. At first, it concentrated on things like chemical pollution and rapid population growth and how the world would soon run out of oil and other minerals. The problem was that its claims were always proved to be wrong. For example, we were told in the 1960s that population growth would soon lead to mass starvation. In the event, living standards continued to rise faster and faster all over the world. Again, we were told that the oil would run out before the middle of the 1980s. In the event, more and more oil was found, and we now know that we have enough to last for centuries to come. Again we were told in the 1970s that industrialisation was leading to global cooling and that there would soon be another ice age. This also did not happen.

But, since the collapse of socialism, the environmental movement has grown bigger and bigger, and is now arguing for regulations and taxes that would soon stop all further economic growth-particularly in Asia, India, Africa and South America. That is the goal of all this endless propaganda in the media, and all the talk about carbon footprints.

Now, it may be that there really is a problem with the environment. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. But I find it historically significant that environmentalism has grown big at the very moment when every other argument against human progress has been disproved. I therefore believe that the claims of the environmentalists are lies. They are an excuse for returning humanity to a dark age of inequality and stagnation.


Back to the horse!

This is a rather good confirmation of the retrograde mentality that Sean Gabb speaks of above

French towns worried about fuel prices, pollution and striking transport workers need look no further than the horse. Horses are a possible alternative for vehicles such as school buses and refuse trucks, say groups eager to pick up on global concerns about eco-friendly transport. "It's all about sustainable development and bringing some humanity back to today's monotonous, machine-driven jobs," Stephane de Veyrac, from the French National Stud Organisation, said at this week's annual conference of French mayors.

De Veyrac's group says it is the first in France to offer consulting on a wide range of horse-powered vehicles that could also haul bottles and aid street sweeping. "It is a serious alternative -- horses are already in use in over 70 towns as replacements for gasoline- and diesel-powered service vehicles," said de Veyrac, pointing to the 'Hippoville' prototype parked in the exhibition hall. With prices starting at 11,562 euros ($17,090), this revamped horse-drawn carriage with disc brakes, signal lamps and removable seating, goes for around the same price as 170 barrels of crude oil.

De Veyrac's group was founded by Louis XIV's Finance Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert to supply war horses for military campaigns. Today the group advises French towns interested in horses for city services. One project in northern France involves a pick-up route for glass bottles in the seaside resort of Trouville. The project is backed by the Regional Horse Promotion Commission, which holds an annual convention in Trouville to promote horses for collecting recyclables, street sweeping, and even transporting children to school.

Olivier Linot, who heads the project, said towns are realizing the beasts are well-adapted for certain work and can reduce job stress and dissatisfaction. He expects at least 30 more communities to start using horses next year. Studies about cost and overall carbon footprint are still underway but supporters say the animals beat cars and trucks on a number of criteria, especially for transport work requiring frequent stops over short distances, like emptying trash bins. "It's great for workers and the community to have contact with a living thing," Linot said. "The civil servants are on strike now, but I tell you if they had their hands on a horse they'd be happier -- I've never seen a driver kiss his truck."


Australian Greenie defends graffiti

Australia's Greens are generally far-Leftists and the ideas below are a logical deduction from the Leftist mantra that "There is no such thing as right and wrong"

A Greens MP has launched an extraordinary defence of spray can vandals, saying graffiti brightened up the city and could be attractive. Sue Pennicuik told State Parliament new laws cracking down on graffiti vandals were draconian and unnecessary. She said graffiti vandals were being treated more harshly than dangerous drivers. Declaring that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", Ms Pennicuik said corporate logos were as much a blight on the landscape as graffiti. People who sprayed graffiti should be called graffiti markers, rather than vandals. "A lot of graffiti, including tags, can be political, aesthetically pleasing and thought-provoking," the Upper House MP said in a 48-minute speech. She said there were two points of view about graffiti, and "not everyone hates graffiti and not all graffiti is bad".

Ms Pennicuik's speech, and her bid to amend the new laws, were attacked by her rivals from across the political spectrum, with Labor MP Martin Pakula saying graffiti vandalism was idiotic. "The vast majority of Victorians absolutely detest graffiti. They detest it because it is mindless vandalism," Mr Pakula said. He said that 95 per cent of graffiti was not art. "It is not self-expression, it is not clever, it is not political comment, it is mindless vandalism."

Ms Pennicuik defended her speech, saying she was seeking to highlight concerns about the harsh penalties and police powers under the new laws, which were due to pass the Upper House last night. She said offenders, who were mostly teenagers, could be jailed under the new laws. She said the laws also created a reverse onus of proof, meaning people found with suspected graffiti implements, such as spray cans and stencils, would have to prove they were in possession of them for legitimate reasons. "I'm not saying there shouldn't be any penalties -- there should be -- but that there should be a diversionary program for young offenders. "Graffiti is a problem, I agree. No one likes tags particularly, and I don't like them. But do we want two-year jail terms for 15-year-old kids to be the penalty?"

In her speech, Ms Pennicuik said the cost of cleaning up graffiti should not be the reason for making it a crime. She argued some graffiti walls, such as those in Hosier Lane in the city centre, were tourist attractions. "So what is the price of having clean walls? "This Bill . . . is an over-reaction to the issue of graffiti." Ms Pennicuik also told Parliament that "one could say the graffiti can break up the monotony of urban space". "While in one way of looking at it graffiti is annoying and costly, the other way of looking at it is that it is an acceptable way of expression and it could be tolerated, and is tolerated, in certain circumstances."



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


22 November, 2007

Science Has Spoken, Now Shut Up

Post below lifted from Taranto. See the original for links

"The Scientists Speak," reads the headline of the New York Times editorial, which informs us that there is no question the New York Times editorialists are right:
The world's scientists have done their job. Now it's time for world leaders, starting with President Bush, to do theirs. That is the urgent message at the core of the latest--and the most powerful--report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 2,500 scientists who collectively constitute the world's most authoritative voice on global warming. Released in Spain over the weekend, the report leaves no doubt that man-made emissions from the burning of fossil fuels (and, to a lesser extent, deforestation) have been responsible for the steady rise in atmospheric temperatures.
There is no doubt! These are scientists, after all, and they're working for the U.N. They don't make mistakes! Or do they? Here's a news story that also appears in the Times today:
The United Nations' AIDS-fighting agency plans to issue a report today acknowledging that it overestimated the size of the epidemic and that new infections with the deadly virus have been dropping each year since they peaked in the late 1990s.
We're so confused. Didn't the scientists speak? How could they have gotten it so wrong? After all, they're scientists! Here's a quote from the Washington Post that may shed some light on the matter:
"There was a tendency toward alarmism, and that fit perhaps a certain fundraising agenda," said Helen Epstein, author of "The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS." "I hope these new numbers will help refocus the response in a more pragmatic way."
Could it be that we are watching the same phenomenon with the whole global-warmist hysteria? Our bet would be yes.

More poor science in Science

Given their global warming evangelism, this is no surprise. Story from Australia:

Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran has welcomed research exonerating Australian honeybees in the demise of hundreds of millions of their tiny American cousins. "Someone owes Australian beekeepers a big apology, but we won't hold our breath waiting for it," Mr McGauran said. According to Mr McGauran, the latest genetic evidence debunks claims that imported Australian bees introduced a virus linked to the mysterious disappearance of US honeybees, a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.

The allegation, made last September in the journal Science, threatened to scupper a burgeoning business worth nearly $5 million to bee exporters because it encouraged Pennsylvania senator Robert Casey to seek a ban on Australian imports. As well, officials with the US Plant Health Inspection Service asked Australian authorities to explain why bans should not be imposed.

CSIRO bee pathologist Denis Anderson said the new findings were solid and should end the looming trade row. "It will take something completely new to get Australian bees back on the hook," he said. The all-clear came from virologist Yanping Chen and geneticist Jay Evans, both with the US Agriculture Department's Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. In an upcoming issue of American Bee Journal they will report that analysis of honeybee samples collected between 2002 to 2007 showed that the virus, Israeli acute paralysis virus, had been circulating in the US for at least five years.

While US beekeepers reported hive declines as early as 2004, CCD was not identified until the middle of lastyear, prompting imports of Australian bee packages to bolster plummeting populations. Dr Anderson was critical of the damaging Science report, claiming the team misinterpreted its results.

Max Whitten, former head of CSIRO Entomology, added that there was never any evidence that IAPV caused CCD, let alone that it was spread by Australian bees. "It's more likely that stressed hives will succumb to all sorts of benign pathogens, which they could handle if healthy," he suggested. Unlike Australian colonies, US hives are stressed by poor nutrition, pesticides and parasites. As well, hives are trucked long distances to pollinate crops, reducing bee fitness.

Dr Anderson said what the Science paper showed was that CCD was linked to Nosema, a widespread honeybee disease. "But it was overlooked as the cause due to lack of experience and knowledge of general bee pathology on the part of the researchers," Dr Anderson said. "This can't reflect well on a journal such as Science and (its) selection ofreferees."


More Weather Station Shenanigans Media Won't Report

Will a television news magazine like "60 Minutes," "20/20," or "Dateline" ever devote an entire segment exclusively to the horrid state of America's weather stations? Given the incessant reports of rising temperatures threatening to kill us all, wouldn't a lengthy expos‚ into the accuracy of the devices at the heart of the matter be of interest to a population frightened to drive their cars, heat their homes, and - God forbid - exhale? Consider the following information shared by weather station analyst extraordinaire Anthony Watts, published Sunday at Steve McIntyre's Climate Audit, and try to figure out why this isn't one of the hottest stories in town.

I decided to survey one of the hottest and most remote USHCN weather stations in the USA, Death Valley.... The day started out in Baker, California, at the southern entrance to Death Valley. Appropriately, they have a Starbuck's there, as well as what was once billed as "the worlds tallest thermometer" which has sadly been converted from a desert information center into the "worlds tallest mini-market". Given that it's over concrete, asphalt, and the roof of a mini-mart, I've going to give it a CRN rating of "5?. Of course that's what they want here, hotter temperatures, because that's part of the tourist attraction....

I've never seen a pint sized "Stevenson Screen" mounted on a rooftop tower before. It was on an adobe building that looked like it was once a motel. You can see the shadow of the tower on the southernmost rooftop in the Google Earth link. I guess they Like it hot here, and will go to lengths to make new highs. What better way than to put a station on a roof in Death Valley?
Imagine that: the weather station in the hottest part of America is actually on a roof. Shouldn't this be a wonderful feature in a potentially award-winning television expose? I guess like an inebriated Britney Spears, this would expose too much. Readers are highly encouraged to review the entire piece while they envision Katie Couric traveling around the country uncovering the farce that is our nation's weather stations.or not.


ABC Again Ignores Liberal Connections of Global Warming Alarmists

Sam Champion hyperventilated about the threat of extreme weather on Monday's "Good Morning America" and, once again, ignored the leftist connections of two cited experts. Scientists Michael Oppenheimer and Daniel Schrag, both of whom have vigorously slammed Republicans in the past, appeared in the segment to warn that global warming would only continue to cause unusual weather patterns as long as greenhouse gases keep increasing.

GMA identified Oppenheimer simply by his connection as a scientist for Princeton University. However, he has previously slammed Republican disagreement about climate change as "uniformed rambling." In the piece, Schrag scarily warned, "It's hard to overstate how big a change [climate change] could be in the weather we experience every day." This is same man who, in a Boston Globe column from December 2006, smeared GOP Senator James Inhofe, then the Chair of a Senate environmental committee, for using skeptical witnesses that Schrag derided as "a gathering of liars and charlatans, sponsored by those industries who want to protect their profits." To further make the point, the article is entitled, "On a Swift Boat to a Warmer World."

In October, the ABC program featured Oppenheimer gushing over Al Gore and his Nobel Peace Prize victory. That segment was even more misleading, as GMA provided no identification at all. Later that month, Oppenheimer appeared on NBC's "Nightly News" and claimed climate change could cause disasters such as the California wildfires. (NBC also failed to disclose his liberal connections.) Is it really too much to ask that the networks stop attempting to pass off environmental activists as non-partisan observers?

ABC hyped the segment, which focused on extreme weather around the world, within the context of a new United Nations report on global warming. Co-host Robin Roberts observed that "some" are calling it "definitive." Of course, Champion made no mention of any possibility that these weather events could be cyclical or that some might not be as a result of climate change. Skepticism on this issue is readily available. For instance, Investors Business Daily reported on November 13 that in a new study, NASA researchers found that many changes in the Arctic Ocean are, in fact, cyclical:
From 2002 to 2006, scientists and researchers from NASA and the University of Washington's Polar Science Center at the Applied Physics Laboratory observed a meaningful ongoing reversal in Arctic Ocean circulation. The cause is atmospheric circulation changes that vary in decade-long periods and the effect is, well, let the scientist who led the study explain it: "Our study confirms many changes seen in upper Arctic Ocean circulation in the 1990s were mostly decadal in nature, rather than trends caused by global warming," said the University of Washington's James Morison.
This study, however, went unmentioned by Sam Champion.

More here

The Gore profit machine rumbles on

As NewsBusters readers are well aware, we have for months been chronicling Nobel Laureate Al Gore's profit motive concerning the advancement of climate change hysteria. Last Monday, it was announced that the Global Warmingist-in-Chief had been hired by Silicon Valley's most prestigious venture capital firm. At the time, the implication was that Gore would assist Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in finding new, unknown eco-friendly companies to invest in.

According to Fox News's "The Journal Editorial Report," Gore's position with Kleiner Perkins may be to get a currently stalled energy bill through Congress that would end up helping companies the VC group has already invested in.
Freeman, WSJ Assistant Editorial Page Editor: His timing could be perfect for Kleiner, because the firm has backed more than a dozen of these clean technologies, but they haven't been able to exit any yet. So as they look to cash out, a big, big issue for them is the energy bill, now stalled in Congress, with lots of subsidies and favorable regulations for these companies and their portfolios. So Al Gore--Mr. Gore is showing up at a critical time here for the company.
To put this in simpler terms, the VC group Gore just joined has a number of investments in so-called "green" companies, but has yet to be able to bring any to the market. The primary way such a firm makes money is when companies it owns a significant piece of go public on one of America's stock exchanges or NASDAQ. As Fortune magazine reported last Tuesday, Kleiner Perkins has yet to do this (emphasis added): "Five years after Kleiner Perkins made its first green investment, the firm hasn't had one "exit" -- VC-speak for an IPO or a sale of a company that validates the investment thesis." As such, Kleiner Perkins has money invested that has yet to pan out. And, with Congress currently debating both an energy bill and a global warming bill, the future of KP's investments might be at stake. Enter former Vice President Al Gore:
Paul Gigot, Host: Wait a minute. You're saying that this is not necessarily all about venture capitalism, but it may be about venture politics in Washington?

Freeman: Well, as far as why they make certain investments and how, I'll leave that to experts, but what's absolutely clear is that the stakes are huge for the companies they've invested in, in the green tech space in the Washington energy bill, if it ever happens.

Gigot: What companies are those? Are they in ethanol, solar?

Freeman: Two companies in ethanol. Another company that is biofuels, claiming to be creating something even better than ethanol, which probably won't be hard. Whether it can be better than gasoline is the tough challenge. Then you have two companies in solar, another one in geothermal.

Gigot: Wow. So 60 votes in the Senate may be Al Gore's real game here if can he do something in Washington to get that energy bill through the Senate.
Unfortunately, this was not a side of this issue prominently discussed by the mainstream media that not only adore the former Vice President, but have fallen hook, line, and sinker for his charade.

In a related matter, it was indeed fascinating to see how many press outlets last week shared with their patrons that Gore was donating his Kleiner Perkins salary to his climate change awareness foundation. At the time, NewsBusters noted that Gore's salary would end up representing a small portion of his actual compensation. Surprisingly, one of the versions of this announcement published by the Associated Press last Monday actually addressed this inconvenient truth (emphasis added):
Gore promised to donate 100 percent of his salary as a Kleiner Perkins partner to the Alliance for Climate Protection, the Palo Alto-based think tank he founded to focus on accelerating policy solutions to the climate crisis. The donation does not include stock options. Typically, a tiny fraction of a venture capitalist's compensation is salary; the vast majority of wealth comes from sale of stock options when the companies the firm invests in are sold to the public. "It's one of the benefits of not being in the public sector anymore," Gore said with a laugh.
I guess this got passed most media outlets, including Oliver Willis of Media Matters. Color me unsurprised.

In the end, this leads to one question: When will members of the press - who are always skeptical about the motives of businessmen, CEOs, and folks on Wall Street - begin to seriously examine the financial ties that folks like Gore have to inciting climate hysteria? Is this just too complex an issue for these people, or is it impossible for them to do anything that might undermine their political agendas?

More here


Well, UK PM, Gordon Brown, has at last shared with us his thoughts on climate change: ‘PM outlines climate action plan’ (BBC Online Politics News, November 19). One doesn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. It is truly pathetic. I, for once, feel quite sorry (crocodile tears, of course) for those who genuinely fear ‘global warming’ - Brown’s words are full of waffling warmth, while the proposed action is either ludicrous or non-existent:

A ‘Green hotline’ and web site to advise people on how to be ‘good’; A ban on one-use plastic bags. As it happens, I am in favour of this, but what it has to do with climate change beats me; And some help to improve energy efficiency in poorer areas. Er, that’s it!

In the meantime, the Government department dealing with the environment (Defra) is to suffer an urgent budget cut of £270 million (see: ‘Reality, Rhetoric, And Risk’, November 17), and there have been recent cuts to the New Millennium Grants for installing energy-saving measures in homes.

The rest of Brown’s rhetoric is just crowd-conning hot air (lots of classic Brownian targets, but no action), with a hint that new nuclear power may lurk somewhere as a hidden ‘renewable’ - how else is the UK going to meet its daft ‘renewable’ targets? Even the Beeb’s Roger Harrabin describes Brown’s comments on ‘renewables’ as "staggering"!

The words ‘smokescreen’ (I first typed a Freudian ‘smokesgreen’) and ‘mirrors’ cross one’s mind.

Yet, I have sensed this all along. Brown will do nothing to harm the British economy nor to hurt the disadvantaged. Indeed, in the end, he may prove to be the man for us climate realists. In practice, he is the least mad of all UK politicians over climate. I don’t think, at heart, he is really interested.

By contrast, who knows what Tory toff, ‘Dave’ ‘Notting-Hill-Green’ Cameron, will do, while the Liberal Democrats are simply dire and dangerous wet amateurs, who should be kept as far away from power as possible. Liberal is the last thing they are, and they are hyper-hysterical over climate change.

What a happy choice faces us! The real question is: “Who will do the least damage economically and politically in pursuing mad climate-change policies?”



Am email from Prof. Bob Carter [], Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia

David Whitehouse has contributed another insightful essay [See immediately below], and I am confident that most of your readers will agree with the thoughts that he expresses. However, I must take exception to one sentence, which is:

"Clearly the Earth’s natural state is not to have so much CO2 in its atmosphere and it would be prudent to reduce it".

The Earth has no "natural" level of CO2 for Earth's atmosphere. It is estimated that past CO2 levels have varied up to 20 times the present level, and there is no evidence that higher levels (and especially moderately higher levels such as doubling) have been ecologically "damaging".

Quite the contrary, in fact. As you and David will be well aware, atmospheric CO2 is a stimulant to plant growth and to more efficient plant use of water. Additionally, extra CO2 probably has a mild (NOT dangerous) warming effect, which on the precautionary principle is a definite benefit at this stage of the natural climate cycle.

In summary, (i) there is no such a thing as a "natural" level of CO2 in the atmosphere, and (ii) while no one can predict exactly all the consequences of increasing atmospheric CO2, the odds strongly favour it being beneficial. From which it follows that claims that reducing human CO2 emissions would be "prudent" are false.

Finally, anyone with doubts as to the benefit of mild warming might like to consult the views of the people in the southern hemisphere who have just experienced an extremely harsh winter, or those persons in the northern hemisphere who appear to be about to receive the same.


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


21 November, 2007

Some things the IPCC has ignored

An email from David Whitehouse []

Some media commentators have told us that the IPCC's "Synthesis" report has settled the science of global warming beyond doubt and that alternative approaches or indeed modifications to the CO2 greenhouse warming effect have lost the scientific argument. Certainly the working hypothesis of CO2 induced global warming is a good one that stands on good physical principles but let us not pretend our understanding extends too far or that the working hypothesis is a sufficient explanation for what is going on.

Clearly the world of the past 30 years is warmer than the previous decades and there is abundant evidence (in the northern hemisphere at least) that the world is responding to those elevated temperatures, though not yet the Polar Bears.

However, it was a pity the Synthesis report did not look in more detail at the recent warming trend the Earth has experienced - that has taken place since about 1980, as this and the rising CO2 levels are surely at the heart of the problem. Had this warm period not occurred we would have no talk of global warming and perhaps, as happened in the 1970's, we would fear a new Ice Age! This omission means that, contrary to what Ban Ki-Moon said, the Synthesis report has not answered so many questions relating to global warming or what will happen in the future. It seems that one can only understand what is going on (and make predictions) if one's vision is narrow and one talks in soundbites.

The fact that the recent warming period can be divided into two distinct periods is surely instructive and has a direct bearing on the IPCC's projections for the future and its mitigation strategies. The period 1980 -98 was one of rapid warming - a temperature anomaly of about 0.6 degrees C or 0.3 deg C per decade (CO2 rose from 340ppm to 370ppm). Since then the global temperature has been flat (whilst the CO2 has risen from 370ppm to 380ppm) meaning that the global temperature is about 0.3 deg less than it would have been had the rapid increase continued. (This leads me to suggest, slightly tongue-in-cheek, that there has been global cooling in the past decade as a decrease in the increase of temperature is a cooling!) The 1980 - 98 increase is generally similar to the increase seen between 1910 and 1940 which was 0.6 deg C in 30 years. It may be that the current flatlining of global temperature will be similar to that seen between 1940 and 1980 in that it will be followed by another increase (as the UK's Met Office believes will commence in 2009) but we don't know.

Incidentally, all the indications are that the global temperature of 2007 will be the coolest since 2000. This is interesting as there have been no significant volcanic events and no La Nina cooling.

How can it be that the atmosphere has responded so differently to a steady increase in CO2 levels and the constant temperature forcing that implies? As I argued in a previous post to CCNet (25th October 2007) the flat temperature of the past decade is difficult to explain. Adding reflective aerosols to the atmosphere (a byproduct of greenhouse gas emissions or volcanoes) is contrived and requires unlikely circumstances. Other explanations such as the ocean cooling effect of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation or the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation are also difficult to adjust so that they exactly compensate for the increasing upward temperature drag of rising CO2.

Also disappointing in the IPCC report was the lack of mention of the uncertainties involving solar effects and what they could mean for future predictions of global warming. There is a growing school of thought that suggests that the next solar cycle, cycle 24, could be weak and possibly the start of a prolonged period of low activity. There are certainly signs of a decline after a significant increase in solar activity throughout most of the last century. In the past when this has occurred the Earth has cooled though by what mechanism is unknown.

Despite what has been said the Sun is still an important factor to consider, more so if the temperature flatlining continues. It was thought (by climatologists) that solar driven climate change was too small to be detected but recent studies of decadal solar influences show they can be detected. Mostly their influence is small but there are huge differences that point to unknown amplification effects.

In the past few years we have been learning more and more about such things as differential solar heating, trade wind effects, solar induced upwelling of cooler water in the oceans and the fact that solar activity alters the interaction between the Earth's surface and the atmosphere in driving fundamental convection cells. In the past decade we have also discovered that the cloudy lower atmosphere absorbs more visible and IR radiation than previously thought. It has also been realised relatively recently that the IR from the sun varies more than visible. In addition, the unexpectedly large global decadal cycle of 0.1 deg C seen at an altitude of 2 km cannot easily be explained.

The point is that we cannot predict the future until we understand these things. Clearly the Earth's natural state is not to have so much CO2 in its atmosphere and it would be prudent to reduce it. But let's acknowledge the considerable scientific uncertainties and differentiate between the effects of increasing global temperatures on the one hand and increasing CO2 levels on the other.

I have heard it said, by scientists, journalists and politicians, that the time for debate is over and that further scientific debate only causes delay in action. As scientists we must never bend our desire to know what is going on to any political cause, however noble. The science is fascinating, the ramifications profound, but we are fools or perhaps politicians if we convince ourselves that we know more than we do and when we are satisfied to describe such a complicated system in a soundbite.

Greenie people-hate on display again

Halting population growth in developing countries should be part of a global strategy to reduce mankind's impact on the environment, according to an eminent expatriate Australian scientist. Immediate past president of the Royal Society, Professor Lord Robert May said that, given the threat of climate change, a declining global population was "a prerequisite" if humanity was to achieve a sustainable ecological footprint in the future. Addressing the Lowy Institute in Sydney last night, Lord May said a priority was educating and empowering women, "particularly in those cultures where this is not currently the case".

Lord May, a former chief scientific adviser to the British government who was made a companion of the Order of Australia in 1998, said this would be assisted by achieving universal primary school education and promoting gender equality. The United Nations estimates 700 million women, or two thirds of all those married or in stable unions, use some method of contraception. "In my view, religious beliefs or other ideological prejudices prompt some major international organisations to oppose contraception, forbidding distribution of condoms or even advice about fertility control," Lord May said.

He said it was encouraging that in the past year global fertility rates fell below replacement levels for the first time in recorded history, with the average female now having slightly less than one female child. Global population growth is predicted to increase to 9 billion by 2050, driven by strong growth in developing countries, while declining birth rates in developed countries create their own inter-generational problems.

Lord May warned that cutting population alone would not address environmental problems, as smaller populations tended to be associated with increasing standards of living and higher environmental impacts per capita. He warned of the growing threat of conflicts and mass movements of people as the world's population fought over limited water supplies and other resources. "All this rolls together with rapid and continuing advances in information technology, which simultaneously makes things better and worse," he said. "Better because we can more easily and effectively co-ordinate action, once motivated to do so; worse because in such a global village the massive inequities between groups are clearly exposed."

Lord May warned that the re-emergence of fundamentalism in the world was a reaction against the liberating force of the new information age.



In the latest Nature, Chris Thomas says:
"This year the baiji river dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer), a victim of the pollution and boat traffic of China's Yangtze river, was added to the list of creatures on the verge of extinction. Is this part of the sixth mass extinction in 450 million years, or does the recent spate of losses caused by humans represent a blip in the history of life on Earth? Michael Novacek's Terra takes stock of the situation and provides an opportunity to learn from the past. ...

Of course, we shall solve some of these issues with technological fixes. Yet if we maintain 9 billion avaricious people on Earth for the next millennium, a sixth extinction event seems inevitable. The geological perspective of Terra is bizarrely reassuring. Humans will presumably be gone within a few million years, perhaps sooner. If the past that Novacek describes is a guide to the future, global ecosystem processes will be restored some tens of thousands to a million years after our demise, and new forms of life over the ensuing millions of years will exploit the denuded planet we leave behind. Thirty million years on, things will be back to normal, albeit a very different `normal' from before. It is good to be optimistic. The problem is living here in the meantime."
Thomas is "optimistic" that humans and any descendants with a remotely similar population or resource-intensive technology will be extinct in a million years. Yet if a plague, for example, were to produce this outcome within the next ten years, I'm pretty sure most everyone would see this as a catastrophe of the highest possible order. So how does this become a good thing if it happens in the next million years?



Much safer to spend the money on a metastasizing bureaucracy

British astronomers were last night shocked by a sudden funding cut that will prevent them having access to two of the world's most advanced telescopes. A Government funding council yesterday announced it would pull out of the Gemini Observatory - twin 26ft telescopes in Hawaii and Chile which together can be used to observe the entire sky. The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) said it was pulling out of the observatory, in which Britain has a 23 per cent stake, despite the Government having invested 35 million pounds in building it.

Prof Michael Rowan-Robinson, President of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), said: "This decision is a serious mistake and a shock to all of us. "If it goes ahead it will deny UK scientists access to large telescopes in the northern hemisphere and hinder their ability to study almost half the sky. I call on the STFC to rethink this proposal."



The Independent, the `compact' UK newspaper known as the Indie (the Independent on Sunday being the Sindie), which is infamous for its doom-laden front pages on `global warming' (and many other PC topics), is clearly in trouble. I have just been trawling through a few interesting reports and facts:

Writing in The Observer (November 11), Peter Preston comments that "the relaunched, more anorexic Independent on Sunday is 8.37 per cent off October 2006 (with only 132,000 UK readers prepared to stump up 1.80 pounds)" and that, at the newsstand, the "Independent, with not much of a net presence at all, is down 6.72 per cent in a year." The circulation of the Indie in August, 2007 was a mere 240,116 [according to the UK ABC (Audited Bureau of Circulations)], a 5.37% drop from November 2006, and way, way below The Guardian, The Telegraph, and The Times.

Moreover, unlike The Guardian (c. 18 million unique users), the poor Indie is unlikely to be saved by its website, which must be one of the dullest in the world. The word `anorexic' again crosses one's mind.

And now, today, the `Financial Section' of The Times reveals that "Denis O'Brien, the Irish telecoms billionaire, has called on Sir Anthony O'Reilly to sell The Independent newspaper and resign as the chief executive of the company behind the loss-making London-based title. `The Independent has to go, as do other vanity projects,' Mr O'Brien told The Times in an uncompromising interview."

Well, I never like the loss of media and debating outlets, but I have to say that the demise, if that were ever to happen, of the Indie would bring fewer tears to my eyes than most. As a purveyor of gloom and doom, it has been second to none. Even one environmentalist confided to me that, when on the tube or the bus, she felt she had to read it hidden between less lurid covers.

Still, it would be a pity. Over the years, the Indie has proved a rich seam for bloggers and commentators alike - even beats the old Guardian, and that is saying something these days. Clearly doom and gloom on a daily basis doesn't in the end sell. After all, why bother to read a newspaper when the triffids are lurking behind every page?


A fit of peak

The doom-laden vision of a post-oil world put forward in a radical new documentary is as crude as the black stuff that gushes from the ground

With crude oil prices pushing up towards $100 per barrel, it's a good time to release a documentary that argues we're in imminent danger from dwindling oil supply. According to A Crude Awakening, demand for oil is accelerating while supply has peaked and will shortly go into rapid decline. The result will be social disruption on a scale unseen since the Great Depression. Sounds scary - but in reality these arguments seem as crude as the black stuff gushing from the ground.

The film, made by Swiss journalist Basil Gelpke and Irish producer Ray McCormack, is a diatribe against the evils of an oil-based economy. Opening with a narration befitting a horror movie, we are told that oil is the `devil's excrement' and the `blood of the earth'. Through interviews with a number of experts, activists and politicians, Gelpke and McCormack argue that developed economies, most notably the USA, are utterly dependent on oil. Farming, transportation, plastics - in fact, the production of pretty much everything - depends on a supply of oil. For example, every calorie of food energy we produce requires 10 calories of energy inputs - mostly oil. The vast majority of travel, too, is powered by oil pumped from the ground.

Supply and demand

The problem, according to the film, is that production may have peaked or is just about to do so. The world is currently using roughly 85million barrels of oil per day (1). (A barrel of oil is 42 US gallons or 159 litres.) Demand is booming due to rapid economic growth in China and India and steadily increasing demand in the developed world. The filmmakers argue that there have been no new big oilfield discoveries since the late 1960s when huge quantities of oil were discovered in the North Sea and Alaska.

As it happens, the film's opening in the UK coincided with an announcement by the Brazilian government of a new offshore field, Tupi Sul, that could ultimately provide eight billion barrels of oil. But this will not come fully on-stream for a few years and will only provide a small portion of the world's growing oil needs each year (2). In fact, the total oil from this field would only supply current levels of world consumption for about three months. Worse, according to the film, the declared remaining reserves of oil in many members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) may be greatly overstated. In the past, OPEC members have had an interest in exaggerating their remaining stocks since OPEC production quotas have been based on declared reserves.

The really big fields with long potential reserves are in the Middle East - hardly a stable region. This question of stability informs comments in the film by Stanford politics professor Terry Lynn Karl, who provides a fairly outrageous example of the war-for-oil thesis. Karl believes that the two Gulf Wars were driven by a desire to seize and control oil reserves - which is slightly bizarre, given that Iraq's oil could more easily and cheaply have been controlled by propping up Saddam rather than removing him. But this war-for-oil thesis apparently knows no bounds, with Karl glibly suggesting that everything from the civil war in Sudan to the two World Wars can be put down `in part' to a scramble for oil.

Solving the problem

The film is already showing its age, however. Much of the discussion in the film is about how there is more oil under the ground, but that it is not economically viable to dig it up. As one US oil worker notes, in incredulous tones, the oil price would have to be $50 a barrel for it to make sense. But since prices have now shot up to nearer $100 a barrel, a range of possibilities opens up, even if current high nominal prices are to some extent a product of the weak dollar.

Suddenly, getting that oil out of the ground is good business. Other opportunities arise: expensive exploration in relatively uncharted territories starts to make sense because the gamble could have such a huge pay-off; exploration methods themselves can improve; finding ways to recover a greater percentage of the oil in any particular field would be a boon; producing liquid fuels from the world's abundant stocks of coal - pointless when oil itself is cheap - is now practical and economic. For all the severe limitations of the free market, it is quite clear that a rising oil price provides strong incentives to explore both oil-based and non-oil avenues for future energy production.

But the filmmakers seem uninterested in the possibility that declining oil stocks are a problem that could be solved. `The demand is so huge there is nothing we can imagine to replace oil in those quantities', suggests David L Goodstein, professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology. Instead, A Crude Awakening provides a litany of disastrous consequences that must inevitably result from peak oil. Particularly enthusiastic doom-sayers include the rather excitable Colin Campbell, a former oil geologist and founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO), and Matthew Savinar, whose website, Life After the Oil Crash, greets us with the cheery thought that: `Civilization as we know it is coming to an end soon.' The film draws to a close with footage of an Amish man driving his pony and trap, as if to say that this is the future of transport.

Against the pessimism of the peak oil theorists is the reality that we do not `worship' oil nor are we addicted to it. Oil is simply an extremely cheap and very effective solution to a number of technical problems. If oil production does decline - and it would be wrong to simply assume that as yet - we'll have to find new solutions instead. In the short term, no single alternative fuel source will take the place of oil. But unless oil production suddenly collapses, which is unlikely, replacements only need to substitute for part of what oil would otherwise supply in the short-term. Bio-fuels, clean coal, nuclear power, hydrogen, solar and wind power will all, to some extent, have a part to play - along with technologies that have not yet been developed.

Greater efficiency will surely also kick in. When oil is cheaper than bottled water or milk, there is little incentive to find more efficient modes of transport or alternative precursors for chemicals currently produced from oil. The oft-quoted saying `We didn't stop using horses because we ran out of hay' is very true. Long before supplies completely run out, oil and the technologies that demand it, like the internal combustion engine, will be replaced by something else. In all likelihood, those substitutes will be better than the technology we currently have.

A crude outlook

The notion of peak oil appeals to a mindset that cannot believe that the future holds anything but disaster. This outlook can be found in all manner of discussions from the `obesity epidemic' to the pensions crisis precipitated by the `demographic timebomb' to catastrophic climate change. This mood was beautifully summed up by the journalist and former Independent editor Rosie Boycott as she chaired a question-and-answer session with the co-producer of A Crude Awakening, Ray McCormack, in London last Friday. Responding to the suggestion from the audience that the refusal to see that oil has peaked is `macho', Boycott said:

`Completely hard-wired into every one of us is a belief that literally since we came out of the swamp we've been in this thing called Progress. And while it may have brought ups and downs, it's never let us down. You can chart that things have got more extraordinary and more amazing and diseases have been solved and everything has been solved. I'm in my fifties and I've grown up as a child believing that science solved everything. It's only in the last few years that I've realised that science can't solve some things and science makes things worse. for the first time in all these millions and millions of years that we've been here, we're actually going to go backwards.'

Boycott's outlook is widely shared, particularly amongst former radicals like herself (she was once at the forefront of feminist publishing, co-founding Spare Rib and Virago Books). Society, it is believed, can no longer move forward and, in fact, the very attempt to solve problems will actually make things worse.

This worldview cannot account for the continuing expansion of both wealth and the duration and quality of life. That does not mean that there are no problems in the world today - there are many massive problems to be tackled. New problems, some of them the product of human activity, will emerge. But the most serious possibility that society might really `go backwards' will come from the belief that Progress is a failure. Boycott's comments are a very good illustration of the societal suicide note that many people seem anxious to write.

Oil production has almost certainly not peaked. Even if it has, it's high time we moved on to smarter technologies. But if the ideas that underpin A Crude Awakening become truly popular, then civilisation itself may well have peaked, disintegrating into a heap of self-doubt.



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


20 November, 2007

Swiss Snow Makes 50-year Record

Swiss ski resorts are expecting a record season after promising early snowfall, it has been reported. Ski break spots including Davos, St Antonien and Braunwald have experienced exceptionally strong snowfall for so early in the season, swissinfo has reported.Last weekend, some 62 cm of the white stuff fell in the eastern resort of Davos, while St Antonien received 64 cm and Braunwald got 72 cm of snow on Sunday, states national weather service Meteo Swiss.

According to the report, Switzerland has not received such a strong start to its winter ski season since 1952, with the amount of snow being swept to the southern areas by the wind cited as a particularly interesting feature of the weather.

Resorts are said to be anticipating a busy ski season, with many readying themselves for a rush of bookings as reports of the good weather disseminate.The Ski Club of Great Britain described the prospects for Verbier, Saas Fee and Engelberg as "promising" last week.


UK Scientist predicts 'People will listen, increasingly less over time' to alarmist climate predictions

Our post-modern period of climate change angst can probably be traced back to the late-1960s, if not earlier. By 1973, and the 'global cooling' scare, it was in full swing, with predictions of the imminent collapse of the world within ten to twenty years, exacerbated by the impacts of a nuclear winter. Environmentalists were warning that, by the year 2000, the population of the US would have fallen to only 22 million [the 2007 population estimate is 302,824,000] and the average intake of the average American would be a mere 2,400 calories (would that it were!).

In 1987, the scare abruptly changed to 'global warming', and the IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) was established (1988), issuing its first assessment report in 1990, which served as the basis of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). The second assessment report was then issued in 1995, the third in 2001, and, of course, the draft fourth assessment report on Saturday.

In essence, the Earth has been given a 10-year survival warning regularly for the last fifty or so years. We have been serially doomed. So it comes as no surprise to note that the latest IPCC Draft Report's panel yet again declares that action must be taken within a decade or so if we are to save the world from 'global warming'.

This is all so reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's nonsense masterpiece, 'The Hunting of the Snark':

"Just the place for a Snark!" the Bellman cried

As he landed his crew with care;

Supporting each man on the top of the tide

By a finger entwined in his hair."

"Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:

That alone should encourage the crew.

Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:

What I tell you three times is true."

The IPCC's crew, and their fellow passengers, have been hunting their particular snark for nearly twenty years, and their desperation is getting feverish, worse than that of Carroll's Bellman. In their case: "What I tell you four times is true."

Indeed, one wonders if the IPCC is functioning by J. B. S. Haldane's three great theorems: the Bellman's Theorem ("What I tell you three times is true"); Aunt Jobisca's Theorem ("It's a fact the whole world knows" - from The Pobble Who Had No Toes by Edward Lear); and, Oresme's Theorem ("If you say it often enough or hear it enough you will accept it as truth" - derived from Nicole Oresme (1350), On the Marvels of Nature.

I understand that Oresme invented the graph - how he would have loved the infamous 'hockey stick'). Yet, this particular snark remains elusive, the pobble can't find its toes, and the acorn keeps falling on Chicken Little's head.

After 50 years of terminal decades, the world goes on, economies grow, CO2 rises, and more people become just that little bit better off. As I point out in 'Reality, Rhetoric, and Risk' (November 17), we shall no more land the IPCC's snark than the pobble will find its toes.

People will listen (increasingly less over time), and maybe, for a short period, even believe it to be 'true', but - "It's a fact the whole world knows" - we can't do a blind thing about it (as one senior Labour cabinet member was reported to me to have admitted in an aside at a Conference). Life will go on to hunt for new, different snarks and lost toes. Indeed, we may even be able to modify genetically that poor old pobble.


Prof. Stott on the unrealism of the new IPCC summary

On the very day that the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, issues its latest, and 4th, Draft Report (.pdf), and Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, employs his rhetoric to pressurize states to act on climate change before the Bali talks about the UN climate convention and the Kyoto Protocol, which open on December 3, the hard reality of climate-change economics and politics strikes in the heart of London.

As The Guardian (November 17) reveals, `Climate change department faces 300 million pound cuts': "The measures at Defra [Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] have become necessary, in part, because the department has been overwhelmed by huge bills for a series of disasters, from the foot and mouth outbreak to blunders over the payments of billions of pounds of EU cash to farmers. The ministry's management board was told this week that it had to find an additional 270m popunds from its main budget on top of savings agreed only a month ago. The Guardian has seen a document which reveals ministers are to be presented with a package for 130m of immediate cuts with radical options for another 140m of savings. This is in addition to a 5% year-on-year cuts on administrative costs.

Defra has not fully recovered from the 200m cuts imposed by the Treasury last year after the department mismanaged the biggest reform of agricultural subsidy in a generation. The new cuts are expected to affect all 50 of Defra's agencies,dealing with canals, animal health, waste groups, national parks, forestry, fisheries , sustainable development and environmental protection."

What neither the IPCC, nor Mr. Ban, nor most media commentators seem to grasp is that the precautionary principle works both ways. Which is riskier, trying to follow the climate-change rhetoric of the IPCC and Green groups by warping world economics and politics to deal (impossibly) with climate change, or facing up to the economics and politics of the real world.

Completely changing the world's economic and political basis for something that actually may not happen - and will most certainly not occur exactly as predicted - is for me a much, much riskier proposition, especially when one takes into account the fact that there will be benefits, as well as problems, from climate changes.

Just remember that, if one takes all the models that exist for climate change, not just those of the IPCC, the error bar is for a change of between -2 degrees Celsius to nearly 7 degrees Celsius (a nine degree Celsius error bar in all). Even I think that climate is likely to vary (all the time) within such a range. It tells us nothing. It is a tautology.

Moreover, what Mr. Ban demands just won't happen. Indeed, it can't happen, as the little Defra story encapsulates so perfectly, whatever the IPCC, Mr. Ban, Hillary Clinton, Gordon Brown, and `Dave' Cameron might say. Let's face the basic facts: to achieve cuts that would have any meaningful impact in terms of the IPCC's view would demand four billion people losing their livelihoods, the grounding of all planes, the dry-docking of all ships, the crushing of all cars, and the closing down of all fossil-fuel fired power stations, and all within the next ten years. Now that would be a disaster.

The conclusion is clear: whatever the politicians' rhetoric, reality will ensure that, in practice, we will view the risks quite differently from the IPCC and Mr. Ban. Nevertheless, all sorts of well-meaning to frankly barking-mad attempts will be made to force people into this or that lifestyle, some of which could undermine our capacity to adapt to whatever climate does at any particular time, whether hot, wet, cold, or dry, or all at once. But worse, the ability of the rich world to help the poorer world could be reduced significantly.

In truth, the latest IPCC report says nothing new. It is still the same old tale with just a bit more political pep. But the global response will be the same. Reality will see to that. Yet further, never lose sight of the fact that `The Great Global Warming Story' appeals to some people precisely because it can be employed to intervene into everybody's life, from the poorest rice farmer to the richest entrepreneur. The risk of this is greater, both politically and economically, than any IPCC model-generated projections. After all, we need some social and economic discounting: precisely why should a poorer generation pay for what will still be a richer generation, even if some `global warming' were to occur?

Interestingly, reporters at the BBC are beginning to see that there might be a powerful reality check to the IPCC mantra, witness Richard Black's latest piece (November 17), `Tackling the fossil fuel juggernaut': "One suspects that in the real world it is still liable to get side-swiped by the seductive juggernaut of business-as-usual. In that case, we will have a trackside view if the impacts projected in this seminal IPCC climate treatise come to pass." Reality at the last. Reality, Rhetoric, And Risk


Sun and global warming: A cosmic connection?

By Richard Black, Environment correspondent, BBC News

The article below does give a good airing to the case for a solar influence on terrestrial warming but it of course slants its coverage toward the conventional view. Two rather amusing features are that Lockwood refuses to offer a refutation of Svensmark on the exceedingly flimsy ground that he does not like where Svensmark has posted his paper! If he DID have any answers, he would be keen to offer them. The second amusing thing is that the BBC author says that the acid test will be what the planet does henceforth. Will it continue warming or not? That it has ALREADY stopped warming (since 1998) is conveniently not taken into account

In February 2007, depending on what newspaper you read, you might have seen an article detailing a "controversial new theory" of global warming. The idea was that variations in cosmic rays penetrating the Earth's atmosphere would change the amount of cloud cover, in turn changing our planet's reflectivity, and so the temperature at its surface. This, it was said, could be the reason why temperatures have been seen to be varying so much over the Earth's history, and why they are rising now.

The theory was detailed in a book, The Chilling Stars, written by Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark and British science writer Nigel Calder, which appeared on the shelves a week after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had published its landmark report concluding it was more than 90% likely that humankind's emissions of greenhouse gases were warming the planet.

In truth, the theory was not new; Dr Svensmark's team had proposed it a decade earlier, while the idea of a cosmic ray influence on weather dates back to 1959 and US researcher Edward Ney. The bigger question is whether it amounts to a theory of global warming at all.

Over the course of the Earth's history, the main factor driving changes in its climate has been that the amount of energy from the Sun varies, either because of wobbles in the Earth's orbit or because the Sun's power output changes. Most noticeably, it changes with the 11-year solar cycle, first identified in the mid-1800s by astronomers who noticed periodic variations in the number of sunspots. If it varied enough, it could change the Earth's surface temperature markedly. So is it?

"Across the solar cycle, the Sun's energy output varies only by about 0.1%," says Sami Solanki from the Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany. "When you look across much longer timescales, you also see changes only of about 0.1%. So just considering directly variations in energy coming from the Sun, this is not enough to explain the climatic changes we have seen and are seeing now."

This is why scientists have been investigating mechanisms which could amplify the changes in solar output, scaling up the 0.1% variation into an effect that could explain the temperature rise of almost half a degree Celsius that we have seen at the Earth's surface in just the last few decades.

One is Joanna Haigh from Imperial College, London, UK. She realised that although the Sun's overall energy output changes by 0.1%, it changes much more in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum. "The changes in the UV are much larger, between 1% and 10%," she says. "And that primarily has an impact in the stratosphere (the upper atmosphere) - UV is absorbed by ozone in the stratosphere and also produces ozone, and this warms the air."

Using computer models of climate, Dr Haigh's team showed that warming in the stratosphere could change the way energy is distributed across the troposphere, the lower atmosphere, changing wind and weather patterns. But not by much. "We found it might raise temperatures by a maximum of half to one Celsius in certain regions," she says. "But in terms of an impact on the global average temperature, it's small, maybe about 0.2C." Which is not enough to explain the warming that has occurred since the late 1970s.

Henrik Svensmark and his collaborators at the Danish National Space Center (DNSC) believe the missing link between small solar variations and large temperature changes on Earth are cosmic rays. "I think the Sun is the major driver of climate change," he says, "and the reason I'm saying that is that if you look at historical temperature data and then solar activity and cosmic ray activity, it actually fits very beautifully.

"If CO2 is a very important climate driver then you would expect to see its effect on all timescales; and for example when you look at the last 500 million years, or the last 10,000 years, the correlation between changes in CO2 and climate are very poor."

When hugely energetic galactic cosmic rays - actually particles - crash into the top of the atmosphere, they set in train a sequence of events which leads to the production of ions in the lower atmosphere. The theory is that this encourages the growth of tiny aerosol particles around which water vapour can condense, eventually aiding the formation of clouds.

And the link to the Sun? It is because cosmic rays are partially deflected by the solar wind, the stream of charged particles rushing away from the Sun, and the magnetic field it carries. A weaker solar wind means more cosmic rays penetrating the atmosphere, hence more clouds and a cooler Earth.

The theory makes some intuitive sense because over the last century the Sun has been unusually active - which means fewer cosmic rays, and a warmer climate on Earth. "We reconstructed solar activity going back 11,000 years," relates Sami Solanki. "And across this period, the level of activity we are seeing now is very high - we coined the term 'grand maximum' to describe it. We still have the 11-year modulation on top of the long-term trend, but on average the Sun has been brighter and the cosmic ray flux lower."

There is evidence too that cosmic rays and climate have been intertwined over timescales of millennia in the Earth's past. And the theory received some experimental backing when in October 2006, Henrik Svensmark's team published laboratory research showing that as the concentration of negative ions rose in air, so did the concentration of particles which could eventually become condensation nuclei.

Other scientists, meanwhile, had started putting the idea to the test in the real world. In 1947, British meteorologists began deploying instruments in various sites across the country to measure sunlight. Whether through foresight or luck, they included one feature which was to prove very useful; the capacity to measure the relative amounts of direct and diffuse light. It is the difference between a sunny day, when light streams directly from above, and a cloudy day, when it seems to struggle in from everywhere, and photographers give up and go home.

Giles Harrison from Reading University realised that the UK Met Office's record of hourly readings from its sunlight stations could be used to plot the extent of cloud cover over a period going back more than 50 years; the larger the ratio of diffuse to direct light, the cloudier the skies.

By chance, cosmic rays have been recorded continuously over almost exactly the same period. So Dr Harrison's team compared the two records, looking for a correlation between more intense cosmic rays and more clouds. "We concluded that there is an effect, but that it is small - 'small but significant' was how we described it," he recalls. "It varied UK cloud cover only by about 2%, although we suggested it would have a larger effect on centennial timescales; and it's difficult to assess what effect this would have on global surface temperature." He concludes it would be premature to lay global warming at the door of cosmic rays. Perhaps surprisingly, you will find no references to his work in The Chilling Stars.

In July, Mike Lockwood from the UK's Rutherford-Appleton Laboratory attempted a definitive answer to the question with what appeared to be a simple method. He simply looked at the changing cosmic ray activity over the last 30 years, and asked whether it could explain the rising temperatures. His conclusion was that it could not. Since about 1985, he found, the cosmic ray count had been increasing, which should have led to a temperature fall if the theory is correct - instead, the Earth has been warming. "This should settle the debate," he told me at the time.

It has not. Last month Dr Svensmark posted a paper on the DNSC website that claimed to be a comprehensive rebuttal. "The argument that Mike Lockwood put forward was that they didn't see any solar signal in the surface temperature data," he says. "And when you look at [temperatures in] the troposphere or the oceans, then you do see a solar signal, it's very clear."

Dr Lockwood disagrees; he says he has re-analysed the issue using atmospheric temperatures, and his previous conclusion stands. And he thinks the Svensmark team has been guilty of poor practice by not publishing their argument in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. "Lots of people have been asking me how I respond to it; but how should I respond to something which is just posted on a research institute's website?" he asks. "This isn't on, because the report title says it is a 'comprehensive rebuttal'; if it were that, then it would be his duty to publish it in a scientific journal and clean up the literature - that's how science filters out what is incorrect, and how it comes to a consensus view as to what is correct." This dispute presumably has some distance to run.

But Mike Lockwood's larger conclusion that current warming has nothing to do with solar changes is backed up by others - notably the IPCC, which concluded earlier this year that since temperatures began rising rapidly in the 1970s, the contribution of humankind's greenhouse gas emissions has outweighed that of the Sun by a factor of about 13 to one.

Even though misguided journalists have sometimes mistaken his work as implying a solar cause to modern-day warming, Sami Solanki agrees with the IPCC verdict. "Since 1970, the cosmic ray flux has not changed markedly while the global temperature has shown a rapid rise," he says. "And that lack of correlation is proof that the Sun doesn't cause the warming we are seeing now."

Even to prove that the link between cosmic rays and cloud cover matters in the real world needs a lot more work, observes Joanna Haigh. "You need to demonstrate a whole long chain of events - that the atmosphere is ionised, then that the ionised particles act to nucleate the condensation of water vapour, then that you form droplets, and then that you get clouds; and you have to show it's important in comparison to other sources of nucleation. "And that hasn't been demonstrated. Proponents of this mechanism have tended to extrapolate their results beyond what is reasonable from the evidence."

And Giles Harrison believes climate sceptics need to apply the same scepticism to the cosmic ray theory as they do to greenhouse warming - particularly those who say there are too many holes in our understanding of how clouds behave in the man-made greenhouse. "There is some double-speak going on, as uncertainties apply to many aspects of clouds," he says. "If clouds have to be understood better to understand greenhouse warming, then, as we have only an emerging understanding of the electrical aspects of aerosols and non-thunderstorm clouds, that is probably also true of any effect of cosmic rays on clouds."

Dr Svensmark agrees it would be wrong for anyone to claim the case has been proved. "If anyone said that there is proof that the Sun or greenhouse gases alone are responsible for the present-day warming, then that would be a wrong statement because we don't really have proofs as such in the natural sciences," he says.

Two events loom on the horizon that might settle the issue once and for all; one shaped by human hands, one entirely natural. At Cern, the giant European physics facility, an experiment called Cloud is being constructed which will research the notion that cosmic rays can stimulate the formation of droplets and clouds. There may be some results within three or four years.

By then, observations suggest that the Sun's output may have started to wane from its "grand maximum". If it does, and if Henrik Svensmark is right, we should then see cosmic rays increase and global temperatures start to fall; if that happens, he can expect to see a Nobel Prize and thousands of red-faced former IPCC members queuing up to hand back the one they have just received.

But if the Sun wanes and temperatures on our planet continue to rise, as the vast majority of scientists in the field believe, the solar-cosmic ray concept of global warming can be laid to eternal rest. And if humankind has done nothing to stem the rise in greenhouse gas emissions by then, it will be even harder to begin the task.


Australia: Greens to fight Victorian desal plant

Greenies constantly block dam-building and have as a result given most of Australia a water shortage. Governments are now trying to fix that shortage by building desalination plants. But desal is no good either the Greens now say. They clearly WANT us to suffer severe water shortages. I think all known Greenies should have their town water cut off. That might bring them down to earth with a bump. Why let them benefit from what they irresponsibly oppose?. Andrew Bolt goes into the matter further

GREENS leader Bob Brown received a hero's welcome at Kilcunda Beach yesterday as he pledged to do all he could to stop the Victorian Government building a desalination plant. About 300 people turned out to the sixth protest rally in as many months aimed at stopping the $3 billion project. Senator Brown said if the community stuck together there was a good chance the desalination plant would not be built. He described the desalination plant as a monstrosity that wasn't needed, and said that he would take the fight against it to Canberra.

"We determinedly take this into the national Parliament and fight it every step of the way until the only evaporation out of here is those planning for this wrong-headed project," he said. "Politicians who don't listen to the community ultimately suffer the consequences."

Senator Brown said he was more confident heading into Saturday's election than he had been for the past four. The Tasmanian senator, who entered Parliament's Upper House the year John Howard became Prime Minister, said there was a real mood for change across Australia.

Support for the Greens, who could win the balance of power in the Senate, continues to grow, with yesterday's Galaxy poll in the Sunday Herald Sun showing 11 per cent support for the party in marginal seats. "I think the Government is going to lose and that there will be a big move away from the big parties in the Senate," he said. "We are going to have to work with one or other of the major parties if we get the balance of power, and we will do that responsibly. "Leaving either one of them in control of both houses of parliament is not only bad democracy but, everywhere I go, people don't want it."

For the first time, the environment is a crucial election issue across the country with some polls showing 80 per cent of people saying it will affect their vote. Greens policies including drawing up a plan to phase out coal exports, reducing emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, scrapping university fees, forgiving HECS debts and redirecting the $3 billion private health insurance rebates into public health and hospitals.

Senator Brown said Mr Howard was out of touch with the public and his 11 years in office had been plagued with injustice including the treatment of refugees, the war in Iraq and a total disregard for the environment. After yesterday's rally, Senator Brown met Tony and Virginia Eke, whose land will be compulsorily acquired by the State Government to build the desalination plant. The couple have spent the past seven years building their dream of an eco-tourism spa and cottage retreat on the Wonthaggi coastline. "You are the first politician who has come here who is talking from the heart," Mr Eke told Senator Brown.



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19 November, 2007

Some more Greenie deception?

The NOAA website has a Caribou chart showing a big reduction in the herd birth rate. But if you click on the source link you will see a chart showing a rebound of the birth rate to near record levels in 2007. The question is, did NOAA just not update their site for two years or did they end in 2005 to hype fears? The Taiga net link explains that ups and downs in Caribou births are a natural fluctuation.

Comment on the latest IPCC scare

Post below lifted from Paul Biggs. See the original for links

The fourth and final part of the of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 Fourth Assessment Report has been published. The Summary for Policymakers of the Synthesis Report is available here or direct from the IPCC website.

The IPCC claim at least 90 per cent confidence in flawed computer modelled climate projections and that most of the warming in the past 50 years is due to human activity. Calls will be made for deep, damaging and costly cuts in CO2 emissions by developed nations, further underpinning the suspicion that the UN IPCC is more about wealth redistribution than climate change. The warnings from the likes of Prins and Rayner that the Kyoto Protocol was the wrong policy in the past, and is the wrong policy for the future, will go unheeded. Adaptation to inevitable, natural climate change and the development of secure energy sources is the only cost effective way forward in my view.

The highest solar activity for over 1000 years is already coming to an end and the next 11-year solar cycle is running late. The scene is set for a significant period of global cooling by 2020-30, yet our policymakers heed the false alarm call of continued warming by an IPCC that admits to a 'low' or 'very low' level of scientific understanding (LOSU) of the link between solar factors and climate.

The UK Government has published a very foolish, unilateral climate change bill which aims to cut the UK's 2 per cent contribution to global man-made CO2 emissions by 60 per cent. King Canute must be turning in his grave.

Green hero slammed as climate heretic

Prof. David Bellamy is Great Britain's best-known environmentalist, and has been for most of the last four decades. He has written and presented some 400 television programs on environmental issues, written 45 books, and published more than 80 scientific papers, in addition to holding down teaching posts in botany at two universities. He has founded or been president of prominent national organizations such as The Conservation Foundation, The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts, Population Concern, Plantlife International, British Naturalists' Association, and Galapagos Conservation Trust, in addition to numerous grassroots bodies operating at the local level. Among his many honours has been the United Nations Environment Program Global 500 Award, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award for Underwater Research, Diver of the Year Award and the Order of the British Empire.

No mere academic and establishment man, this larger-than-life figure also has a striking record as an activist campaigner for green causes, starting with the 1967 Torrey Canyon supertanker disaster off the coast of England. He has led high-profile protests against needless road building and the loss of moors, and has been jailed for blockading the construction of a hydro dam that would have destroyed a Tasmanian rainforest.

But Prof. Bellamy is not green enough for much of Britain's environmental establishment, not since July 9, 2004, the day a full-page article by him appeared in London's Daily Mail, disputing the conventional wisdom on global warming. Prof. Bellamy has since been stripped of some of his prominent positions and become an environmental pariah to many. The article, entitled "What a load of poppycock!," was written in Prof. Bellamy's characteristic no-holds-barred style: "Whatever the experts say about the howling gales, thunder and lightning we've had over the past two days, of one thing we can be certain. Someone, somewhere -- and there is every chance it will be a politician or an environmentalist -- will blame the weather on global warming," his article began. "But they will be 100% wrong. Global warming -- at least the modern nightmare version -- is a myth."

Prof. Bellamy challenged the very premise behind global-warming concern, writing that "carbon dioxide is not the dreaded killer greenhouse gas that the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and the subsequent Kyoto Protocol five years later cracked it up to be. It is, in fact, the most important airborne fertilizer in the world, and without it there would be no green plants at all. ... "Increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, double it even, and this would produce a rise in plant productivity. Call me a biased old plant lover but that doesn't sound like much of a killer gas to me. Hooray for global warming is what I say, and so do a lot of my fellow scientists."

The reaction to Prof. Bellamy's decision to challenge orthodoxy -- a quality in him that environmentalists had until then admired -- was harsh. Plantlife International, the United Kingdom's leading charity dedicated to protecting wild plants, announced it "would be wrong to ask him to continue" as president, a post Prof. Bellamy had held for 15 years. The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts, which manages 2,500 nature reserves across the United Kingdom, likewise announced it would not renew his presidency. As The Sunday Times headlined it, "Wildlife groups axe Bellamy as global warming 'heretic.' "

Individual environmentalists were often less respectful in abandoning him, suggesting he had become mentally incompetent, or in the pay of the oil industry. The derision from the environmental camp has not ended with the passage of time. "Looney IPCC debunker," "climate-change denying shill" and "the very sad and deluded David Bellamy," is how the Carbon Trust referred to him earlier this year, when Prof. Bellamy participated in a London protest of a report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC), which was releasing climate-change recommendations to the world's governments.

Prof. Bellamy, a passionate socialist as well as environmentalist, opposes government action to curb global warming because of the grave harm such actions cause. He fears that billions or even trillions of dollars could be diverted to "a problem that doesn't exist -- money that could be used in umpteen better ways: fighting world hunger, providing clean water, developing alternative energy sources, improving our environment, creating jobs." Ill-advised climate-change policies also lead to the dedication of vast amounts of land to inefficient wind farms, he adds, mindlessly marring the beauty of the British countryside.

David Bellamy has come full circle in his four-decade-long career as an environmental activist. In the 1960s, before the era of environmental activism, his was a lonely voice decrying environmental damage by an official establishment insensitive to any view but its own, and dedicated to the conventional wisdom of the times.

He then became an exemplar of the establishment, and helped make the environment a feature of the establishment as well. Now his is a lonely voice once more, again on the outs with an insensitive officialdom. The one constant throughout the decades: Prof. Bellamy's relentlessness in his fight for what he believes to be right.


David Bellamy, a botanist, is Special Professor of Geography at the University of Nottingham and Honorary Professor of the University of Central Queensland. His most recent paper, 'Climate stability: an inconvenient proof' in the refereed Civil Engineering journal of the Institution of Civil Engineers in May 2007, demonstrates that, in the unlikely event that the widely prophesied doubling of carbon dioxide levels from natural, pre-industrial levels occurs, the warming would amount to less than one degree C of global warming. He received his doctorate from the University of London.


Kentucky Democrats cool to hearing on warming

The reporter who wrote this seems mystified that the Democrats do not want to exile the skeptical lawmaker for daring to question climate orthodoxy

Kentucky's Democratic leaders are distancing themselves from a legislative hearing on Wednesday held by a Democratic lawmaker who tried to debunk global warming by inviting only skeptics and avoiding scientific testimony. [But Hollywood stars and politicians would have been fine, of course] "I didn't like it very well," House Speaker Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, said yesterday. "We all do acknowledge -- or a great bulk of us do acknowledge -- global warming and the problems there."

But, despite the grumbling of some rank-and-file lawmakers, Democrats said, they don't plan to remove Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence, as chairman of the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee, where he has defended the coal industry and stopped environmental reforms for years. Gooch, 56, and his brother own West Kentucky Steel Construction Co., which sells mining equipment to Peabody Energy, Arch Coal and other coal companies.

Gooch, who consistently wins re-election in his district with about 75 percent of the vote, has taken at least $11,750 in coal-related donations for his modest campaigns since 1998.Environmentalists said Gooch habitually blocks their attempts to limit destruction caused by coal mining, refusing to hear bills that would establish waterway protections or restrict mountaintop removal mining. In fairness, they added, Gooch is only the latest coal-connected chairman chosen and supported by House Democratic leaders to head the environmental committee.The committee's current Democratic vice chairman, Keith Hall of Phelps, also owns a business tied to coal, Benetech Mining Materials.

"Historically, that committee has been chaired by individuals who have strong ties to the coal industry," said Tom FitzGerald, director of the Kentucky Resources Council. "The coal industry prefers to have an ally in charge of that committee, and the House leadership does what it can to appease them."

Yesterday, Gooch denied any suggestion that he favors coal interests over ecological concerns. "I care as much about our environment as anybody," he said. "I'm a tree lover. Not a tree hugger necessarily, but a tree lover."But Gooch said he doubts the existence of global warming, the gradual heating of the Earth's atmosphere at least in part by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels.

At Wednesday's hearing, Gooch invited rebuttal of global warming theory from two people: a British journalist who said strong solar rays might be the cause rather than carbon dioxide, and a lawyer from a free-market think-tank partially funded by ExxonMobil. Politicians are mistakenly turning away from coal because of fears of "alarmists," Gooch said yesterday. "I just don't believe that scientists -- many of whom were predicting global cooling 30 years ago -- are capable of predicting with their computer models what the weather is going to be like 100 years from now, or whether the oceans are going to rise or whether the ice caps are going to melt," Gooch said.

Some House Democrats said they were shocked and embarrassed to read news stories about Gooch's hearing. Bad enough that he disputes global warming at this late date, they said, but to hold a one-sided hearing without scientists was inexcusable. "It's a good thing the writers are on strike in Hollywood so we don't wind up on the late-night comedy shows again," said Rep. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington, chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee. "His committee meeting was a laughable farce -- or it would have been, if it wasn't so scary.

"Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, said he'll urge House Democrats at a retreat later this month to either remove Gooch from his chairman's post or instruct him to handle his position more responsibly. However, Richards and House Democratic Whip Rob Wilkey, D-Scottsville, said there are no such plans. After the General Assembly convenes in January, House Democrats may bring their concerns forward, Wilkey said. "The hearing came out of the blue," Wilkey said. "We were not expecting it and we have not had a chance to discuss it as a caucus.

"Democratic Gov.-elect Steve Beshear and outgoing Kentucky Democratic Party Chairman Jonathan Miller both said they believe in the threat posed by global warming. But they deferred to House leaders on who should run committees. Beshear called Gooch "a friend" and said he looks forward to working with him.It would be highly unusual for the House to dethrone a chairman, said Philip Laemmle, political scientist emeritus at the University of Louisville. Nor is it likely that House leaders worry much about Gooch's insensitivity to the environment, Laemmle said."Until recently in Kentucky, except for activists specifically concerned about it, the environment frankly hasn't been that big of an issue," Laemmle said. "So from a leadership point of view, is it worth it to take this guy on and try to deal with him? My guess is no."

The coal industry, which donates to the state's Democratic and Republican parties, stands by Gooch."He is obviously pro-business -- not just pro-coal, but pro-business," said Bill Caylor, president of the Kentucky Coal Association. "The fact that he is makes him a target not just of environmentalists but also the news media. I think he's been doing a good job overall."

Gooch denied any suggestion that his family's coal-related business unduly affects his legislative actions. If anyone wants to examine conflicts of interest, he said, lawmakers who work in the hotel industry are pushing for casino gambling, and lawmakers who are workers' compensation attorneys have advocated for black-lung disease legislation. "Look, there are lots of cases where legislators have interests," Gooch said. "You can't live in rural Western Kentucky and be in business and not at some time have done some business for some mining or mine-related business. To say because of that that we should somehow disqualify ourselves and not represent our districts is just simply ludicrous."



Post below lifted from EPW blog. See the original for links

Widely respected non-partisan Charles River Associates (CRA) issued a November 8 analysis of Lieberman-Warner global warming cap-and-trade bill (S.2191) that reveals it will cost $4-6 trillion dollars in welfare costs over 40 years and up to one trillion per-year by 2050. (LINK)

American Council for Capital Formation's (ACCF) new analysis on November 8 of the Lieberman-Warner bill finds the bill will lead "to higher energy prices, lost jobs and reduced GDP (gross domestic product)." (LINK)

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) "is not endorsing the Warner-Lieberman bill `because it doesn't include the nuclear issue by name,' according to his spokeswoman Melissa Shuffield. `We can't effectively reduce our emissions without including nuclear energy, which is more efficient than the technologies in the bill.' (Source: 10-18-07 Washington Post - LINK)

Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), the co-author of the Lieberman-Warner cap-and-trade bill, conceded on November 1 that his bill would cost "hundreds of billions of dollars." (LINK)

Democrat Presidential candidate John Edwards has also come out in strong opposition to the Lieberman-Warner bill, calling it "a massive corporate windfall" on November 1. (LINK)

Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) critiqued the Lieberman-Warner bill's proposed new Federal bureaucracy on November 8: "The very mechanisms the bill advances to contain costs seem to be more the stuff of academic theorizing than sound analysis. We have heard from no witnesses on the efficacy of the [proposed federal Carbon Market Efficiency Board] and its ability to protect the economy; veiled allusions to the Federal Reserve Board only remind us of the decades of trial and error endured before that institution regularized its procedures." (LINK)

The AFL-CIO has voiced multiple concerns with Lieberman-Warner, calling the bill "overly aggressive" in a November 5, 2007 letter. (LINK)

U.S. Chamber of Commerce said the Lieberman-Warner bill "does not adequately preserve American jobs and the domestic economy." The letter also stated: "Without participation by developing nations, the carbon constraints imposed by [Lieberman-Warner] would penalize domestic businesses attempting to compete in the world market while non-participating developing nations continue to get a free ride." [Note: Watch U.S. Chamber of Commerce's new TV ad opposing the Lieberman-Warner global warming cap-and-trade bill.

A November 11th Washington Times editorial called Lieberman-Warner: "A misguided environmental-policy bill meandering through the Senate would slap U.S. businesses with pie-in-the-sky requirements for cutting greenhouse gases by unattainable amounts." The Times added: "The bill fails to compensate and protect consumers from rising natural gas prices and harms job security by encouraging companies to move overseas to nations with less draconian standards. In short, the bill's effects would land a crippling encroachment on U.S. power plants, factories and transportation sectors." (LINK)

An October 29th article in Politico details the fading momentum for the Lieberman-Warner bill. The article notes that the "climate bill faces wave of opposition" and is "headed for a bumpy ride" It quotes the National Religious Partnership for the Environment calling Lieberman-Warner "fundamentally flawed." (LINK)

Orange County Register editorial writer Mark Landsbaum wrote on November 6: "Reality is starting to bite to such an extent that even Democrat Presidential candidate John Edwards calls [the Lieberman-Warner] bill what it is, `a massive corporate windfall' for big corporations preparing to game the artificial, government-invented market for profiteering." (LINK)

Science vs. Expert Opinion: Did the Bush Administration Really Censor Science?


Once again, the press is in a tizzy over the Bush Administration's "censoring of science." The case against the Bush Administration this time is that it edited testimony presented to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) by Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The testimony, originally 14 pages, was cut to six.

However, the narrative of a scientific cover-up is overwrought to say the least. The hearing was on the potential impact of global warming on human health, an exercise in speculation. It appears, if press accounts are correct, that what the Bush Administration cut from the director's testimony was more speculation than settled science.

When judging scientific statements, one must distinguish between statements of what has happened or is happening and those about what might happen in the future. The first is derived from observation, an important component of the scientific method. The second is derived from expert opinion, a far less reliable source of knowledge, and one only tenuously linked to actual science.

ABC News claimed that Gerberding's pre-edited testimony argued that climate change would lead to "heat waves, cold spells, extreme weather events and weather disasters, air pollution, increased infectious diseases, and increased waterborne and vector-borne infectious diseases."

According to an account of the hearing by Fox News, Senator Barbara Boxer, EPW committee chairman, "produced a CDC chart listing the broad range of health problems that could emerge from a significant temperature increase and sea level rise. They include fatalities from heat stress and heart failure, increased injuries and deaths from severe weather such as hurricanes; more respiratory problems from drought-driven air pollution; an increase in waterborne diseases including cholera, and increases in vector-borne diseases including malaria and hantavirus; and mental health problems such as depression and post-traumatic stress."

When asked about this, Gerberding agreed, "These are potential things you can expect. In some of these areas its not a question of if, it's a question of who, what, how and when."

But what is the basis for these claims? Does the CDC have evidence of a link between past climate change and harm to human health? After all, levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are already three-quarters of the way towards an effective doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations, the benchmark typically used in making global warming predictions. And the global average temperature has risen. If global warming predictions are true, and such a link exists, then the harms mentioned by Senator Boxer should already be evident in the data. However, the data fail to reveal such a link.

In reality, the list of horrors provided by Senator Boxer is little more than speculation based on the opinion of a few experts, not on science. The following sections review the available data on each of the harms mentioned. In each case, the harms to human health with respect to various climate indicators seem to be decreasing.

Much more here


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


18 November, 2007

New more complex explanation for 20th century sea-level changes

Throwing all predictions into doubt

The movement of a colossal "mounds" of water in the North Atlantic and Pacific oceans may have caused sea levels to suddenly begin rising more quickly in the 1920s, researchers say. Their analysis presents a more complex picture of sea-level change and suggests that the rate of change has been more dramatic than previously thought.

Data collected using tidal gauges dotted along the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines during the late 19th and 20th centuries suggest that sea levels suddenly began rising more quickly around the 1920s, from about 1 millimetre per year to about 1.8 mm per year. This change has previously been attributed to climate change. However, precisely why oceans suddenly began rising more quickly in the 1920s has remained a mystery.

Warming temperatures boost sea levels in two ways: melting glaciers release more water into the ocean (see What's behind the big polar meltdown?) and seawater expands as it warms. Over the past few decades, sea level measurements taken using satellites show that this trend has continued, with the current rate of increase standing at about 3.36 mm per year.

Now, evidence gathered by Laury Miller of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Bruce Douglas, of the Laboratory for Coastal Research in Florida, US, suggests that this change may be partly explained by the pressure-related movement of gigantic amounts of water. The researchers studied atmospheric pressure records for the late 19th and 20th centuries and used these records to try and work out how rising sea levels may be been affected by shifting ocean peaks, known as "gyres", in the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. These ocean peaks are produced by water swirling in a circular direction around the ocean as a result of atmospheric pressure, wind and heating. The movement, combined with the turning of the Earth, causes water at the centre of the circle to rise upwards, forming a peak, or gyre. The North Atlantic and Pacific gyres are each about 1 metre taller at the centre than at the edge.

But atmospheric records suggest that the gyres in both oceans sank during the 1920s, releasing water held in the centre and allowing it to flow towards the coasts. This would explain the sudden change in the rate at which sea levels changed at this time, measured by coastal instruments. Since tidal gauges only measure sea-levels along the coasts, they could not have detected the drop in levels towards the oceans' centres.

If the researchers are correct, this means the overall sea levels were in fact rising more slowly at the time. This, in turn, implies that the rise of sea levels accelerated faster over the 20th century than previously thought. However as measurements have only recently become sufficiently accurate, it may take some time before the full picture will be known. "My guess is that it will be 20 or 30 years before we are able to identify how fast sea-level rises are truly accelerating," Miller says.



Britons face a future of green taxes, higher fuel prices and even flight rationing under anti-pollution laws unveiled yesterday. A Climate Change Bill would make the UK the only country with legally binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The five-yearly goals would cost the UK up to 12billion a year for the next 42 years.

The Government was warned that a switch to a low-carbon economy would trigger an economic slowdown and job losses while giving politicians the excuse for unpopular taxes, hike the cost of fuel and even bring in "personal carbon quotas". Critics also point out the move would be pointless if countries such as China, Russia and India refuse to introduce similar targets.

Launching the Bill yesterday, the Government said Britain has a duty to lead by example. It argues that the costs of climate-change related flooding, droughts and illnesses would be far higher if it failed to act.

The Bill does not say how carbon dioxide emissions will be cut. However, it commits the Government to a 60 per cent reduction by 2050. One method could be personal carbon-allowances, where everyone is given a fixed amount of carbon to use each year. Each time they travel in a plane, buy petrol, go shopping or eat out would be recorded on a plastic card. The more frugal could sell spare carbon to those who want to indulge themselves. But if you were to run out of your carbon allowance, you could be barred from flying or driving.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said the Bill sets Britain "firmly on the path to the low-carbon economy". He added: "We need to provide the framework that will give a clear idea of how we're going to tackle climate change. "We also need to show that we're taking decisive action within our borders and not asking other countries, in particular poorer countries, to do what we're not willing to do ourselves." Petrol: Would become a 'luxury' under new proposals

According to the food and farming agency Defra, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent would shrink gross domestic product by 1.6billion to 12billion each year as the UK switches to more expensive renewable energy and energy intensive industries shut. That does not include the costs of building "greener" power stations, creating better public transport or closing polluting factories.

The Bill will set up a new quango - the Committee on Climate Change - which will monitor the Government's progress. It will also introduce a carbon trading scheme for local councils, supermarkets and other big retailers. Kendra Okonski, of the development charity International Policy Network, said: "The UK's emissions are insignificant compared to China and India. We are in danger of cutting off our noses to spite our faces. We will impose costs on our economy which will harm the poor, but do nothing to help the climate."

But Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper said: "Climate legislation is desperately needed but the Government must strengthen its proposals to make it truly effective."


Another College Paper Shocker: Global Warming is Killing Us…Not!

Post below lifted from Newsbusters.

The more college newspapers I look at, the more I wonder if Nobel Laureate Al Gore and his global warming sycophants in the press have overplayed their climate alarmism. First there was an editorial in the Harvard Crimson bashing Gore, then a positive article at the Stanford Daily concerning a luncheon address by global warming skeptic S. Fred Singer, followed by a marvelous piece at San Diego State's The Daily Aztec seemingly mocking those that believe we're all going to die because temperatures are rising.

Regardless of the answer, business administration senior Justin Weisbrod cleverly began his article with a tad of misdirection I'd like to think was satirizing the current media hysteria (emphasis added throughout):
The world is ending. In the wake of the San Diego wildfires, many residents of the county may be nodding their heads, as they might already know.

The blazes that torched our county are another sign of the "inconvenient" disaster that's ruining our world, at least according to some.

Environmentalists are begging us to ponder, "What will you do when the water is so polluted you can't drink it and the air is so chock-full of smog you can't step outside?"
Could have been the introduction to any number of hysterical pieces at major newspapers and magazines lately, right? Well, strap yourself in, for he was just kidding:
Before you torch my house (or invite me to a party) for being an Earth-loving hippie, let me make this point: We polluted the crap out of the land, air and sea on planet Earth. But, Earth also pollutes itself. Gasses and elements from volcanoes, fires, storms, meteors and earthquakes all naturally contribute to Earth's warming and cooling processes.

The only thing we did was speed it all up.

As such, global warming is not a problem we can fix. Earth's history is riddled with warm times as well as cold times. And let's remember Earth began from nothing and will end with nothing. We are a grain of sand on a never-ending beach and fully exposed to all the elements. Global warming will not end the existence of planet Earth.
I really like this kid. But there's more:
What does global warming really mean? It means the planet is warming, the ice is melting thus, global warming equals a warmer planet. It's that simple. Guess what comes next? Global cooling. But what if the pollution doesn't allow Earth to do its natural cycles? In the '70s, people thought we were heading into an ice age. What happened in just 30 years?

The weather has its ups and downs, as volatile as the stock market complete with trends, cyclicality, skeptics and believers. Just like the stock market, there is little we can do as individuals to create a dramatic impact.
Sanity from someone so young. What does this tell us? Are these folks not buying into the charade specifically because of their education? Or, are they smelling a rat concerning all the hype that folks many years their senior seem to be either intentionally or incompetently missing? Whatever the answer, it certainly is refreshing to think that not all college kids are buying into the environmentalist nonsense being hawked to them 24/7. Bravo, Justin!


Three American political commentators do not see global warming as one of the defining issues for the upcoming presidential campaign. The next president will probably be chosen on the basis of personality and domestic issues unless there is a new terrorist attack before November 2008.

The three journalists, Rick Burke (NY Times), Carroll Doherty (Pew Research Center) and Jonathan Weisman (Washington Post) were invited to Brussels for a debate organised by the US German Marshall Fund.

None of the three dared to make any predictions as to the outcome of the Presidential race which will start with preliminaries in Iowa in January 2008. The Democrats have the better chances but this is more a result of the frustration with Bush than because of the Democrats’ own merits, according to the US journalists. The names most mentioned during the briefing as potential runners were Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama for the Democrats and Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney for the Republicans, but watch out for Mike Huckabee (Republican), dixit Burke. A double ticket Clinton-Obama would be too much breaking the taboos, agreed all three.

Jonathan Weisman felt that, contrary to the last two campaigns, foreign policy would play less of a role. Health care, energy costs, immigration and tax policies are the issues that matter to the American people this time.

Asked by different speakers from the audience about climate change, the three experts did not see Europe’s hot topic playing a major role in the campaign, although they admitted that all Democrat candidates are trying to present their special climate change plans. Energy security (and oil independence) could be more of an issue, said Weisman, especially if gasoline prices would go to 4 dollars a gallon.

Let me add my two-cents worth: it is clear that even the press experts are quite uncertain about the outcome of the next Presidential elections. They all see that the country is ready for a big change but in what direction and with whom seems to be wide open. I also think they underestimate the energy security issue and, linked to that, the growing anti-globalisation mood in the US. If the US were to go into a recession, energy prices would rise spectacularly and unemployment would start to grow considerably, we might be in for some strange surprises, even an influential independent candidate (Bloomberg?) who might not be the ultimate winner but could surely change the cards in a considerable way. I generally agree with the GMF speakers though that Europeans overestimate the impact climate change will have on the campaign.



NO UTILITY with any respect for its shareholders' money, says Michael Morris, the boss of the biggest one in America, AEP, would build a heavily polluting coal-burning power station in America these days, for fear that it would become a liability if the government moved to limit emissions of greenhouse gases. Europe already has a cap on emissions, which is designed precisely to discourage dirty fuels such as coal. So why is it that utilities in both places are running their coal-fired plants at full throttle, have several new ones under construction and would like to build even more?

Using coal to generate electricity produces more greenhouse gases per resulting watt than using oil or natural gas, but coal is cheap. In countries where there are no limits on emissions and where demand for power is growing rapidly, such as India and China, coal is booming. Energy lore has it that in China a new coal-burning plant is fired up every week. What is certain is that China has become a net importer of coal for the first time this year. India's imports have been growing steadily for the past 20 years. The International Energy Agency, an energy watchdog for rich countries, projects that demand for coal will grow by 2.2% a year until 2030—faster than demand for oil or natural gas. Coal-mining firms in Indonesia and Australia, the biggest exporters, are digging as fast as they can but are still struggling to cope with the surge in orders. Freighters are literally queuing up off Newcastle, Australia, the world's busiest coal port.

But poor and fast-growing places are not the only ones with a hunger for coal. In America, more coal-fired generation is being built than at any time in the past seven years, despite the threat of emissions caps, according to the Department of Energy. In Europe, several power companies are building new coal-fired plants, even though every tonne of carbon dioxide that they emit will require an expensive permit. For example, RWE, a German utility, plans to spend €6.2 billion ($9.1 billion) on three new coal-fired plants by 2012. One of them is already under construction.

All this has helped to push the price of coal steadily upwards in the past few years. Nonetheless, it has risen less quickly than that of oil or natural gas. Coal is now by far the cheapest of the common fuels for power stations relative to the amount of heat it generates when burnt (see chart). At the very least that is encouraging utilities to run their existing coal-fired plants flat out. But it is also prompting some to convert oil-fired plants to run on coal instead. Enel, Italy's former electricity monopoly, has already performed one such refurbishment, and has two more under way, at a cost of €3.8 billion. Leonardo Arrighi, who supervises the firm's investments in generation, says it would like to build “more and more” coal-fired plants.

In theory, the carbon price (in Europe) and the threat of one (in America) should dent this enthusiasm for coal. But in practice many utilities are betting that the disparity in fuel prices will outweigh the cost of extra permits to pollute. At the moment such permits cost pennies in Europe, because governments handed out too many of them. Although there should be more of a shortage starting next year, the futures price would have to rise from the current 22 euros per tonne of carbon to over 30 per tonne to prompt a significant switch away from coal over the next two years, according to Henrik Hasselknippe of Point Carbon, a consultancy.

To be fair, many of the coal-fired power stations under construction in Europe and America are very efficient, and so emit less carbon per watt of output than existing plants. RWE and Enel both claim that their new plants will be among the most efficient in Europe. AEP is building a similar plant in America, which will remain profitable at carbon prices of up to $20 a tonne, according to Mr Morris. Meanwhile, many American firms are cancelling or delaying plans to build grubbier coal-fired plants until they have a clearer idea of future carbon prices.

Politicians in both Europe and America talk of carbon prices eventually being so high that coal-fired plants will be viable only if they capture their emissions and store them underground. But no such plants yet exist. Most of those under construction are not even “capture-ready”, as the industry jargon has it, since utilities do not consider the extra expense worthwhile. Even in Europe, with its steadily tightening emissions cap, much higher carbon prices or stricter regulation will be required to get utilities to build capture-ready plants, says John Krenicki, the head of the energy division at General Electric.

In fact, governments are sending out conflicting signals. Germany, for example, is making it easier to build new coal plants by granting them free emissions permits, even though it aims to reduce emissions to 40% below the 1990 level by 2020. Enel hopes to persuade the governments of Bulgaria and Romania to do the same. In America, the most prominent proposals for regulations to reduce emissions all involve generous hand-outs to the coal industry. For a supposedly dying breed, advocates of coal-fired generation still seem to have plenty of clout with Europe's and America's politicians.


Prolonged cooling in South America

Latin America was rocked this week by a four-word sentence. During a summit in Chile King Juan Carlos of Spain told the president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez to shut up: "Por que no te callas" (Why do you not shut up?). Someone must tell Al Gore the same or invite him to visit this corner of the world. It is a never ending winter here in South America. “What a hell is happening this year with a seven-month winter”, asked a famous TV journalist about the unusual climatic winter of 2007 that began with fury in May and still persist in November. Buenos Aires recorded this Thursday (November 15th) the lowest temperature for the month of November in 90 years. Temperature in the Downtown weather station reached 2.5C. Since records began more than a century ago, only two days had colder lows in November. It was in 1914 (1.6) and 1917 (2.4). And ninety years ago the urban heat island effect was much less pronounced than nowadays, what turns the temperature observed today remarkable.

The much colder than usual weather was not confined to Argentina. This Thursday had near-freezing temperatures and frost in Uruguay. Weather stations recorded 1.5ºC in Trinidad; 1.8ºC in Durazno; 2.4ºC in Tacuarembó; 3ºC in Artigas; 3.2ºC in Melo and Florida; 3.8ºC in Treinta y Tres; 4.1ºC in Paso de los Toros; 4.6ºC in Rivera and 4.8ºC em San José.

In the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil temperatures fell to 2.3ºC degrees in several towns near the border with Uruguay on Thursday. Wind and cloud cover prevented lower temperatures in the higher altitudes, but earlier in the week several towns in the Sierras region recorded temperatures near zero Celsius and frost. In Sao Joaquim, the low was 1.6 below zero with moderate frost on Monday (November 12th).

Frequent cold air incursions are prompting a very stormy spring in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. More than one hundred towns declared emergency due to severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in recent weeks. One man died. Some towns experienced almost complete destruction twice in just ten days.

Further south, the problem is the excessive ice. The Brazilian Base Comandante Ferraz (file image above) in Antarctica is rationing water. Never in the last twenty years the weather was so cold and snowy this time of the year in the Brazilian post in the South Pole. The nearby lakes that provide water to the base are frozen since September. The heliport that allows the arrival of food and bottled water by air is under three meters of snow. Water for human consumption is limited to the fifty Brazilian researchers in the region and the situations turns more dangerous each day. So, por que no te callas Al Gore ?



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


17 November, 2007


An email from Timo Hameranta [] to Benny Peiser

Glikson & Brook (CCNet, 14 November 2007 [See also p. 2 here]) are concerned about sea level rise and refer to IPCC AR4:
"The IPCC 2007 documents a near doubling of sea level rise from 0.18 ~ 0.05 cm/year in 1961-2003 to 0.31ñ0.07 cm/year in 1993-2003"
Actually, IPCC AR4 WGI SPM states:
"Global average sea level rose at an average rate of 1.8 [1.3 to 2.3] mm per year over 1961 to 2003. The rate was faster over 1993 to 2003: about 3.1 [2.4 to 3.8]mm per year. Whether the faster rate for 1993 to 2003 reflects decadal variability or an increase in the longer term trend is unclear."
In any case, this is outdated information. In more precise and up-to-date calculations the alleged faster sea level rise has been shown to be SLOWER, reduced to 1.31 ~ 0.30 mm/yr, please see:

Woppelmann, G., B. Martin Miguez, M.-N. Bouin, and Z. Altamimi, 2007. Geocentric sea-level trend estimates from GPS analyses at relevant tide gauges world-wide. Global and Planetary Change Vol. 57, No 3-4, pp. 396-406, June 2007.

Lindzen says Chill out: Global Warming skeptic speaks at Colgate university, NY

Students and faculty crowded into the Henshaw Lecture Room in Lathrop Hall on Thursday afternoon to hear a controversial lecture by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology Richard Lindzen. Colgate Professor of Political Science, Presidential Scholar and Director of the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization Robert Kraynak, who introduced Lindzen, explained that the original title of the lecture had been "Global Warming: Science and Moral Responsibility" but that he and Lindzen had come up with a better one: "Global Warming: Who's to Blame, Human Activities or Natural Causes?"

Lindzen is one of the most noted and prolific detractors from what Kraynak described as the "popular wisdom of global warming." Lindzen began by saying that he had "always assumed that talking about the weather was a source of boredom." He then began to explain his real concern that too much alarmism surrounds the topic of global climate change. His first goal: to debunk Al Gore.

He recalled that all schools in the United Kingdom had recently been required to show Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth. He noted that a judge ruled that all presentations of the movie be accompanied by a presentation of critiques and explanations of some of the movie's scientific exaggerations. Lindzen cited one of Gore's statements in that film that a melting of the icecaps at either Greenland or West Antarctica would result in a sea level rise of 20 feet "in the near future." The judge, according to Lindzen, said, "this remark was distinctly alarmist" and that Gore's predicted result would take millennia to come about. Lindzen called Gore's statement that "warming is real and caused by humans," a "masterful example of creative ambiguity." "The points of agreement [on warming] have no discernable connection to the alarm," Lindzen said. "If it turns out that we don't have warming or that it is not due to man, that has implications that the association of alarm with greenhouse gas emissions is baseless."

His next point questioned both the derivation and meaning of the popular model of the "hockey stick" graph of weather change, which shows a dramatic increase in temperature rise in recent history. "Even if you call that [rise] unprecedented, it is still too small to suggest alarm," Lindzen said.

After bringing up the scientific inaccuracies in inferences Gore drew from a different graph in his book, Lindzen moved to a different argument against the catastrophic consequences that some predict will come as a result of global warming. "Any prediction of catastrophe is extremely unlikely," Lindzen said. He cited the panic in the 1970s over the prediction of catastrophic American famine in the 1980s, which turned out to be false, as well as the infamous prediction of the Y2K disaster. "These predictions of catastrophe come up episodically and they are always wrong because they have wrong linkages," Lindzen said.

He then projected a model of the linkages leading from cause -- carbon dioxide emissions -- to effect -- disastrous warming effects -- in global warming and noted that the likelihood of each affecting the next was tiny, and that, in the end, the probability of any major effect of global warming was "astronomically small."

Lindzen also brought up how the media has manipulated scientific fact and consensus to promote global warming. He then went into a very scientific debunking of the sensitivity of climate to greenhouse gases, concluding that, "from a religious point-of-view, the Earth is well-designed." He compared the attribution of global warming to greenhouse gases to the intelligent design theory. "We can't think of anything else, so there must be an intelligent designer," he said.

"There is nothing happening in nature that suggests anything urgent," Lindzen said. He then described all of the agendas of people who would be harmed "if you suddenly heard that there was no such thing as harmful global warming," including the Nobel Prize Committee, which recently gave the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore, the environmental movement and science, alternative energy, the United Nations, trial lawyers "looking to make carbon the next tobacco" and individuals who have adopted this issue as a personal cause. "The alarmist dogmas of the past 20 years are almost certainly false or misleading," Lindzen said in conclusion.

A panel of three Colgate professors, Professor of Geography Adam Burnett, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Ephraim Woods and Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies Bob Turner were then allowed to ask Lindzen questions, followed by a question-and-answer session for students. "I think it's good to have folks on campus that have a strong point of view," Woods said. "But [Lindzen] doesn't engage in a discussion very well. He is very quick to reject some pieces of data as bad science or somehow contrived when they don't meet with his point of view."

"I thought that he made a very compelling argument," first-year Mike Abrahamson, who attended the lecture on suggestion from a professor, said. "I would say as someone who knows very little about the science on either side that it was very convincing." "It's nice that we now have viewpoints from both extreme sides of the issue," first-year Alyssa Perez said, referring to the lecture and to The Weather Makers, the required reading for incoming first-years. "Now I'd like to hear from someone more in the middle of the issue." "I think this lecture helped a lot,"

Director of Summer Programs and Lecturer in University Studies Matt Leone, who suggested the lecture to his students, including Abrahamson and Perez, said. "Lindzen is an extraordinarily adept meteorologist. He is clearly very knowledgeable and passionate about his subject...This is the kind of thing that matters a lot.I can't be convinced one way or another because I'm not a scientist, but I do feel as a citizen that I should do my best to understand the subject as best I can."


Gore's Deceptive Rolling Stone Interview

Post below lifted from American Thinker. See the original for links

In case any doubt remains as to who deserves the title of undisputed Globaloney Champion of the World, Al Gore's Rolling Stone interview should put the question to rest. Interviewed in the magazine's third 40th Anniversary Issue of the year, self-proclaimed planet savior Al Gore warns that:
"It is a mistake to think of the Climate Crisis as one in a list of issues that will define our future. It is the issue. Everything else must be viewed through that lens."
That's right -- The issue. Not the all too real, ongoing struggle against radical Islamic madmen. Not nuclear proliferation. Not even the truly apocalyptic potential fusion of the two, a prospect which recent events in Pakistan have chillingly served to advance. No - the issue, insists Gore, is his completely conjectural Climate Crisis. As though to support such an absurd declaration, he then offered these keen observations:
"The north polar ice cap is melting, the fires are burning, the sea level is rising, living species are going extinct. These and many other manifestations, including half the U.S. being in drought last year, are visible to the naked eye. We have got to recognize that even though it's never happened before, it is happening right now."
Now, virtually every claim in his first two sentences is technically truthful. Until, that is, augmented by the catastrophe-implying qualification of the third. And it is just that dishonest inference -- that these occurrences are without precedent -- that exposes the true measure of this man in oh so many ways. So, with apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, let me count the ways.

Yes, the northern polar ice cap is melting. For the most part, it's been alternately retreating and advancing in reaction to seasonal changes for as long as there have existed seasons. And, while it's true that its dimensions may now be at a record low, Gore somehow failed to mention that the southern polar ice cap recently reached ice levels higher than we've encountered in 30 years. If global warming is alleged, you have to look at the Southern Hemisphere too when talking about polar ice caps. Nothing new here -- 1 down.

Next up -- fires are burning? Might the Goreacle be alluding to the recent arson, environmental-case-backlash- and Santa Ana wind-induced southern California blazes? Nice try, but wildfires have raged there for hundreds of years. Even the true believers at the LA Times reported that "global warming was not a factor" in the infernos, citing a Science journal study which found that the region suffered "no increase in the frequency of fire as temperatures rose." Strike 2.

But sea levels are rising, cautions Gore. And that's quite accurate, although not by measures even remotely approaching the map-redrawing 20 feet by the year 2100 he repeatedly portends. Indeed, even his overly hysterical co-awardees at the IPCC have projected a far less catastrophic global mean sea level rise of between 0.09 and 0.88 meters from 1990 to 2100. And once again, it has happened before -- oceans have been ascending at varying rates since the end of the last ice age -- over 10,000 years ago. That's 0 for 3.

And, what of these alleged extinctions? Are "living species" truly "going extinct," as Al maintains? Of course they are, just as they have throughout history. The cold truth is that The World Conservation Union lists 698 animal species extinctions since 1500 A.D. And, at Peter Maas's Extinction site, he lists 62 extinctions in the 19th century and 86 in the 20th which he attributes primarily to invasive alien species, habitat loss and overexploitation. Implying that this unfortunate yet essential component of natural selection is somehow unprecedented is nothing short of imbecilic. Surely Gore believes in evolution, of which natural selection is the driving force.

Four deeply deceptive assertions in a single sentence certainly do nothing to smooth Gore's reputation for exaggerating. But implying in the very next breath that last year's drought was an unparalleled prognosticator of doom verges on incitement to panic. According to the National Climatic Data Center's U.S. National Percent Area Moderately to Extremely Dry and Moderately to Extremely Wet chart, nascent dryness is far from unprecedented. True - 2000, 2002, and 2006 each had at least one month with over 50% of the country experiencing drought conditions. But the same can be said of 1977, 1981, and 1988. And beginning in 1954 there were 4 such consecutive drought years.

Furthermore, the 1930's were a truly devastating period, enveloped in what the NCDC declares the "most widespread national drought in the last 300 years." For 5 of those years, over 50% of the country was hit, and for 5 months during 1934 that figure climbed to almost 80%. The misery these conditions brought to the Great Plains region -- parched for virtually the entire decade -- made refugees of large numbers of Americans, as chronicled in the classic American tale of dispossessed dust bowl migrants, The Grapes of Wrath.

Ironically, getting reacquainted with Steinbeck's patently pro-socialist masterpiece might afford the alarmist-in-chief a valuable perspective on demagoguery. Casy the Preacher man vowed never to sermonize again until he learned the truth himself: "Preachers gotta know [what they're preaching about]," he confided to Tom Joad, confessing that he did not.

Not a single one of Gore's five examples of what's "happening right now" has, as he persists, "never happened before." Not one. So in how many ways does Gore deceive? Given five deceptions in three sentences in one paragraph in just one interview, who can possibly keep count?


Sen. Barbara Boxer agreed on Tuesday to take more time to work through complex global warming legislation amid concerns over the possible economic impact of mandating sharp cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. At a hearing of the Environment Committee, which Boxer chairs, the California Democrat said she will not try to push through a vote on a bill, as she had once planned, before a major United Nations climate change conference begins in Indonesia on Dec. 3. She still hopes to attend that two-week session in Bali, which may set an international framework for carbon reductions.

Republicans had derided the "Bali or bust" fast-track timetable and promised dozens of amendments to the bill, sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman and John Warner, which would establish a cap-and-trade program affecting all industries that emit greenhouse gases, from cement to autos. The goal of the bill is to use mandatory limits on emissions and marketplace forces to encourage cleaner technology, efficiency and conservation. Industries would receive carbon emissions credits, and those that stay under the caps could trade or sell them.

"We'll work on this as long as it takes," Boxer said during the hearing. After the session, she said she wants the committee to work through the massive, 200-plus-page bill on Dec. 5 and 6, "even if it takes all night," and then vote on the legislation. She promised Republicans on the committee to consider all amendments "in an open and transparent process." If the committee passes the bill, the full Senate would probably not take it up until February, Boxer said, right in the middle of presidential primary season. "The issue of global warming is rapidly barreling at us," Boxer said after the hearing, "and we can't let this slip to the next administration or the next generation."

But Tuesday's hearing showed how much work remains, and how many obstacles may block passage. Environmental groups worry that too many carbon credits would be given away to heavy polluters, and want more credits to be auctioned, with the proceeds paying for clean technology and helping low-income consumers.

Some utilities, industries and unions said the bill may be setting policy goals ahead of technology and that businesses relying on cheap coal would see their costs jump because of requirements to capture and store carbon dioxide from coal-fired plants. "This bill will encourage fuel switching from coal to natural gas, further escalating natural gas prices," said Andrew Sharkey, chief executive of the American Iron and Steel Institute. He predicted that even more U.S. manufacturing could move to countries that did not have stringent carbon controls.

The complexity of a cap-and-trade system - affecting almost every sector of the economy - "may very well result in the most far-reaching re-engineering of modern society ever attempted by Congress," added Donald Rowlett, an official with OGE Energy, an Oklahoma utility. Republican senators such as George Voinovich of Ohio said that electricity prices could jump 38 to 45 percent under the bill's restrictions, based on analysis by the Energy Information Administration. "This bill is not ready for prime time, even if the advertising for it has been top of the line," complained Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who told Boxer he planned to offer 25 to 30 amendments.

The bill has an important political advantage in its sponsors. Warner, a Virginia Republican, has the respect of GOP senators and Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, has been working on the issue for years. Lieberman warned that "the economic cost of doing nothing on global warming will be grievous," and that sacrifices now will be less onerous than in the future. Further briefings and hearings will be held today and Thursday on the economic impacts of the bill.

Some Republicans suggested that the committee shape the bill in a way to attract the eventual support of 60 senators, the threshold needed for passage. But Boxer said her immediate goal is simpler: "My job is to get a good bill as far as I can get it, and that's out of committee."


Aren't we lucky to have Greenie wisdom to guide us?

They don't even know how to grow trees! An amusing story of gross design incompetence from Australia

Trees are mysteriously dying in front of the new Brisbane City Council executive tower -- hailed as one of Australia's most environmentally sustainable buildings. Six of the native subtropical waterhousea floribunda trees planted at the precinct this year are dead and about 15 others are in visible distress. The Brisbane Square is the largest high-rise office building in Australia to receive a five-star green rating from the Green Building Council of Australia and has been praised by Brisbane City Council for its green credentials. But Reddacliff Place at Brisbane Square, intended to be one of Brisbane's most beautiful and tree-shrouded public spaces, may have to be torn up for remedial work to solve the tree problem.

An investigation by arborist Peter Bishop has found possible problems with drainage design. "The pits for the trees have gravel in the bottom of them and the drainage line is above that," Mr Bishop said. "In effect, you've got a bath tub where the plug is up the side of the tub. The water sits in the bottom of these pits and turns stagnant because it can't get away." Mr Bishop believes the pits need to be re-engineered.

The mature trees are worth $2000 each to replace, while any work to solve the drainage problem is likely to run into six figures.. Brisbane City Council declined to comment on why the trees were dying. A spokeswoman said it did not own the building or the square and only leased space there.

Mr Bishop said the live trees should be removed immediately if they were to be saved. "The drainage issues need to be rectified and new trees will need to be planted and fixed in such a fashion that they can withstand the wind loads that are placed upon them," he said. He predicted if nothing was done, every tree in the square would be dead within a year.

Brisbane City Council has claimed credit for demanding environmentally friendly principles be used in the development, which also houses the Brisbane City Library and Suncorp offices. Some of the features that enabled the $198 million highrise to achieve its five-star green rating include using materials such as goat hair, wool, cotton and hemp in parts of the construction. The building's water-saving features include using river water in airconditioning, on-site rainwater tanks and a sewerage treatment plant.



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


16 November, 2007


By James Marusek []

Each morning I turn on my computer and check to see how the sun is doing. Lately I am greeted with the message "The sun is blank - no sunspots." We are at the verge of the next sunspot cycle, solar cycle 24. How intense will this cycle be? Why is this question important? Because the sun is a major force controlling natural climate change on Earth.

Our Milky Way galaxy is awash with cosmic rays. These are high speed charged particles that originate from exploding stars. Because they are charged, their travel is strongly influenced by magnetic fields. Our sun produces a magnetic field that extends to the edges of our solar system. This field deflects many of the cosmic rays away from Earth. But when the sun goes quiet (minimal sunspots), this field collapses inward allowing cosmic rays to penetrate deeper into our solar system. As a result, far greater numbers collide with Earth and penetrate down into the lower atmosphere where they ionize small particles of moisture (humidity) forming them into water droplets that become clouds. Low level clouds reflect sunlight back into space. A large increase in Earth's cloud cover produce a global drop in temperature.

Some scientist feel they have developed sufficient understanding to predict the intensity of future sunspot cycles. A Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Panel was hosted on 25 April 2007 with officials from NOAA, NASA, ISES and other agencies. They issued a consensus statement which came to the conclusion that the next solar cycle could be severe, peaking at around 140 International Sunspot Numbers (Ri) or moderate, at around 90 Ri. But a few scientist disagree. A number of well regarded solar physicists are predicting the next solar cycle will be far weaker than the last one.

A paper by David C. Archibald published in Energy and Environment in 2006 forecasted a low intensity solar cycle with a peak Ri of approximately 50. A few scientist have even claimed that we might be headed into another Solar Minimum. For the past few months, the actual sunspot numbers have been below NOAA's lower predicted threshold, approaching zero.

One of the last Solar Minimums was the Maunder Minimum (1645-1715 AD). During the 30-year period from 1672-1699 AD, there were less than 50 sunspots detected, whereas during the past century over the same period between 40,000-50,000 sunspots appeared. The Maunder Minimum corresponded to the depths of the Little Ice Age.

It wasn't too far back in time when the Mississippi River froze solid above Saint Louis. This permitted wagon trains to cross in the winter and continue their journey west. You can still observe old two story houses in Wisconsin where second floor doors open out into nothingness. This allowed the inhabitants a method for exiting their homes in the middle of winter when snow depths reached 8-feet and above. So each morning, I get up and turn on my computer to see how the sun is doing. And I wonder!


Who cares about cause? Something must be done!

By Vin Suprynowicz, writing from Nevada

For more than a thousand years, Christian doctrine had prescribed harsh punishment for anyone who made a false accusation of witchcraft. Since for obvious reasons it was pretty hard to actually prove your neighbor had made your cow go dry by hexing it with the evil eye, or that she flew around at night on a broomstick, this kept false accusations to a minimum.

But in the 1480s the interestingly named Pope Innocent III changed all that with his bull "Summis Desideratis"; a couple of German shopkeepers published their Malleus Maleficarum -- the "Hammer of Witches" -- and the witch-hunts were on. Anyone could turn in a neighbor on suspicion of consorting with demons, without fear of repercussions. Defendants had no right to confront or cross-examine their accusers. The church and state combined their powers to seize the suspects, split up their property and torture them into confessing.

Traveling witch-finders were paid handsome fees for their supposed expertise in identifying witches by the presence of minor telltale blemishes on their skin. The growth of the industry was assured when the torturers decided they wouldn't stop inflicting pain until the victim had named a dozen members of her "coven" -- who could also be quickly rounded up, seized along with their property.

Why didn't anyone speak out against this madness? Here's the good part. Because if you were a "denier," that proved you must be under demonic influence, yourself. Care to view our instruments of torture? And so the madness grew.

When sanity finally returned, in the 1700s, wise men started talking about "separating church and state," about defendants being "presumed innocent till proven guilty," about a "right to confront and cross-examine one's accusers."

Just as importantly, the deductive methods of science were elevated above superstition. New generations were taught it wasn't sufficient to notice a correlation between the old lady down the road waving her arms while mumbling under her breath and your cow going dry. You had to demonstrate there was some explanation within our understanding of the laws of physics for how one thing could cause the other. You had to demonstrate the presumed effect happened every time the presumed cause was present, that it never happened when the presumed cause was absent, and that there was no better alternative explanation.

It's not a perfect system. Government-funded science, in particular, tends to generate results curiously close to what the funding agencies are looking for. But note we're using the word "science" to refer to the ongoing skeptical testing of theories to see if they reliably predict real-world events. As soon as someone says, "It's been proved by science! No one must be allowed to question this any more!" they've warped the word "science" and are now using it to describe just another received religion, little different from "I read it in the Bible so I know it's true."

Why does all this matter, in 2007? Just read a week's worth of letters to the editor. In recent days, you'll find readers writing in: "I am so tired of reading the letters and editorials that the Review-Journal prints disputing the science behind global warming. I no longer go fishing on Lake Mead because it has become too difficult to launch a boat. All my relatives in the Midwest talk about now are the mild winters and the extreme violent storms of the summers. Towns in Georgia are running out of water. And the glaciers are disappearing. And you keep printing stories from people who say, 'It's alright. It's cyclical!' Who cares whether it is or not? Who cares if we are causing it or not? Why can't we just agree that it is happening and that we have to work together to adapt to it! ... "A Manhatten (sic) -type project that spent our tax dollars researching alternative energies that wean us from our oil addiction and that do not contribute to the Greenhouse effect would go a long way to helping us adapt no matter who is right! I'd like to go fishing again without having to wait 15,000 years!"

But if the reader agrees that burning fossil fuels may not be causing global warming, why spend billions of dollars and lower our standard of living to reduce a minimal "Greenhouse effect" that may not matter? Even if mean temperatures had increased 1 degree over the past 30 years -- and they have not -- does any responsible science explain how such a slight temperature increase could have caused lower water levels in Lake Mead? Might not increased human water usage and the fact that rainfall here in the early 20th century was far above prehistoric norms be a more reasonable explanation? Might not warmer weather in the Pacific cause more evaporation, which could give us more rain?

How could meeting all our current power needs with windmills or solar cells (ignoring the costs) possibly cause Lake Mead to fill with water? How could socking us with $5 billion in "carbon taxes" -- doubling the cost of turning on a light switch or pumping a gallon of gasoline, for starters -- cause Lake Mead to fill with water? What evidence is there that this would do any more good than rounding up 10,000 widows and burning them as witches?

Another reader recently wrote in: "The global warming debate is the best end run I have ever seen. Big Business cannot deny that it is polluting our planet. ... Big Business says, 'It's not all our fault. There are forest fires, volcanoes, sun flares, CO2 coming off the oceans and let's not forget the belching cows. Please don't forget the cows!' All the while the air, land and water are being polluted. The people dying from multiple forms of cancer and the asthmatic children going to the emergency rooms for breathing treatments and we aren't buying it."

Global warming now causes cancer and childhood asthma? Doesn't this remind anyone else of the hysteria of the late 15th and 16th centuries, when every problem, global or local, could be blamed on the witches down the road consorting with demons and dancing naked in the moonlight, when the devil was seen to have the upper hand in his battle to take over the Earth from the godly, when no delays could be brooked? After all, the very fate of the Earth was at stake; if burning a few hundred more witches could help us turn the corner, who could possibly object? Today, again, we're told that global warming "deniers" cannot be tolerated. Something must be done!

What? What must be done? They don't seem so clear on that. Though if they succeed in pricing heat and air conditoning out of reach, thousands of people will die, make no mistake.

In the 1970s, politically correct "left-centist" publications such as Newsweek were doing cover stories about the coming Ice Age. Polar bears are not vanishing; their populations have been growing for 25 years. The Kyoto Protocol -- even if everyone signed it and met its terms, which would be an international first -- would reduce temperatures by only 0.04 degrees Celsius by 2100.

"The American people are fed up with the media for promoting the idea that former Vice President Al Gore represents the scientific 'consensus' that SUVs and the modern American way of life have somehow created a 'climate emergency' that only United Nations bureaucrats and wealthy Hollywood liberals can solve," said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the outgoing chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee, last year.

But how can you deny we've been cursed by the witches? Aren't the lakes drying up? Aren't there storms and wildfires everywhere? Don't children have cancer and asthma? Why can't we all just agree these things are happening, and start to round up and burn the witches? There's no time left to beat around the bush and wait for all this tedious testing of "causality"! Who cares what's causing it? Something must be done!


Climate Change Bill Has a Cost: $494 a Year for Every U.S. Man, Woman and Child

What's another $500 taken out of your paycheck over the course of a year? It probably isn't much to global warming alarmists like Al Gore, but that's what it could cost you if legislation pending in the U.S. Senate is passed into law. Does that $500 have your attention? Well, multiply that times every member of your immediate family.

According to a November 11 Washington Times editorial, a bill introduced in the Senate by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John Warner (R-Va.) that would require companies to scale back greenhouse-gas emissions could cost Americans $4 trillion to $6 trillion over the next 40 years. If that bill were passed and made law, the tax would cost every man, woman and child - more than 303 million Americans - $494 a year, a significant burden on the U.S. economy.

If you're not yet skeptical of this global warming initiative, listen to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who warns the effects of carbon caps would be limited unless imposed globally. He said in his book, "The Age of Turbulence," that caps imposed only on the United States could be detrimental.

"There is no effective way to meaningfully reduce emissions without negatively impacting a large part of an economy," Greenspan wrote. "Net, it is a tax. If the cap is low enough to make a meaningful inroad into CO2 emissions, permits will become expensive and large numbers of companies will experience cost increases that make them less competitive. Jobs will be lost and real incomes of workers constrained."


Cloudy Days on the Global Warming Front

Advocates of anthropogenic global warming want you to believe that the science is settled and there is nothing left to debate. But this is the opposite of the truth; in fact, climate science is in its infancy and virtually every proposition relating to it is controversial.

A case in point: the computer programs that tell us that human activity will lead to catastrophic warming assume that warmer temperatures will give rise to more high-altitude clouds, which in turn will trap heat in the earth's atmosphere and create a positive feedback loop. Recent research suggests, however, that increasing temperatures will have the opposite effect, reducing the incidence of high-altitude clouds and thereby creating a safety valve rather than reinforcing the original warming. The research was published in Geophysical Research Letters by Roy W. Spencer, William D. Braswell, John R. Christy and Justin Hnilo:
The widely accepted (albeit unproven) theory that manmade global warming will accelerate itself by creating more heat-trapping clouds is challenged this month in new research from The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Instead of creating more clouds, individual tropical warming cycles that served as proxies for global warming saw a decrease in the coverage of heat-trapping cirrus clouds, says Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in UAHuntsville's Earth System Science Center.

"All leading climate models forecast that as the atmosphere warms there should be an increase in high altitude cirrus clouds, which would amplify any warming caused by manmade greenhouse gases," he said. "That amplification is a positive feedback. What we found in month-to-month fluctuations of the tropical climate system was a strongly negative feedback. As the tropical atmosphere warms, cirrus clouds decrease. That allows more infrared heat to escape from the atmosphere to outer space."

As the Earth's surface warms - due to either manmade greenhouse gases or natural fluctuations in the climate system - more water evaporates from the surface. Since more evaporation leads to more precipitation, most climate researchers expected increased cirrus cloudiness to follow warming.

"To give an idea of how strong this enhanced cooling mechanism is, if it was operating on global warming, it would reduce estimates of future warming by over 75 percent," Spencer said. "The big question that no one can answer right now is whether this enhanced cooling mechanism applies to global warming."

"The role of clouds in global warming is widely agreed to be pretty uncertain," Spencer said. "Right now, all climate models predict that clouds will amplify warming. I'm betting that if the climate models' 'clouds' were made to behave the way we see these clouds behave in nature, it would substantially reduce the amount of climate change the models predict for the coming decades."

The team analyzed six years of data from four instruments aboard three NASA and NOAA satellites. The researchers tracked precipitation amounts, air and sea surface temperatures, high and low altitude cloud cover, reflected sunlight, and infrared energy escaping out to space. When they tracked the daily evolution of a composite of fifteen of the strongest intraseasonal oscillations they found that although rainfall and air temperatures would be rising, the amount of infrared energy being trapped by the cloudy areas would start to decrease rapidly as the air warmed. This unexpected behavior was traced to the decrease in cirrus cloud cover.

"Global warming theory says warming will generally be accompanied by more rainfall," Spencer said. "Everyone just assumed that more rainfall means more high altitude clouds. That would be your first guess and, since we didn't have any data to suggest otherwise ..."

There are significant gaps in the scientific understanding of precipitation systems and their interactions with the climate, he said. "At least 80 percent of the Earth's natural greenhouse effect is due to water vapor and clouds, and those are largely under the control of precipitation systems. "Until we understand how precipitation systems change with warming, I don't believe we can know how much of our current warming is manmade. Without that knowledge, we can't predict future climate change with any degree of certainty."
That's a remarkable quote: "Everyone just assumed" that more rainfall means more high altitude clouds. That is the level of scientific certainty on which claims of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming rest.


Biofuels Could Kill More People Than the Iraq War

By George Monbiot. It's pleasing to reproduce something reasonably realistic from the original Moonbat. As long as he is condemning something he appears to be happy

It doesn't get madder than this. Swaziland is in the grip of a famine and receiving emergency food aid. Forty per cent of its people are facing acute food shortages. So what has the government decided to export? Biofuel made from one of its staple crops, cassava. The government has allocated several thousand hectares of farmland to ethanol production in the county of Lavumisa, which happens to be the place worst hit by drought. It would surely be quicker and more humane to refine the Swazi people and put them in our tanks. Doubtless a team of development consultants is already doing the sums.

This is one of many examples of a trade described last month by Jean Ziegler, the UN's special rapporteur, as "a crime against humanity." Ziegler took up the call first made by this column for a five-year moratorium on all government targets and incentives for biofuel: the trade should be frozen until second-generation fuels -- made from wood or straw or waste -- become commercially available. Otherwise the superior purchasing power of drivers in the rich world means that they will snatch food from people's mouths. Run your car on virgin biofuel and other people will starve.

Even the International Monetary Fund, always ready to immolate the poor on the altar of business, now warns that using food to produce biofuels "might further strain already tight supplies of arable land and water all over the world, thereby pushing food prices up even further." This week the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation will announce the lowest global food reserves in 25 years, threatening what it calls "a very serious crisis." Even when the price of food was low, 850 million people went hungry because they could not afford to buy it. With every increment in the price of flour or grain, several million more are pushed below the breadline.

The cost of rice has risen by 20% over the past year, maize by 50%, wheat by 100%. Biofuels aren't entirely to blame -- by taking land out of food production they exacerbate the effects of bad harvests and rising demand -- but almost all the major agencies are now warning against expansion. And almost all the major governments are ignoring them.

They turn away because biofuels offer a means of avoiding hard political choices. They create the impression that governments can cut carbon emissions and -- as Ruth Kelly, the British transport secretary, announced last week -- keep expanding the transport networks. New figures show that British drivers puttered past the 500 billion kilometer mark for the first time last year. But it doesn't matter: we just have to change the fuel we use. No one has to be confronted. The demands of the motoring lobby and the business groups clamouring for new infrastructure can be met. The people being pushed off their land remain unheard.

In principle, burning biofuels merely releases the carbon they accumulated when they were growing. Even when you take into account the energy costs of harvesting, refining and transporting the fuel, they produce less net carbon than petroleum products. The law the British government passed a fortnight ago -- by 2010, 5% of our road transport fuel must come from crops -- will, it claims, save between 700,000 and 800,000 tonnes of carbon a year. It derives this figure by framing the question carefully. If you count only the immediate carbon costs of planting and processing biofuels, they appear to reduce greenhouse gases. When you look at the total impacts, you find that they cause more warming than petroleum.

A recent study by the Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen shows that the official estimates have ignored the contribution of nitrogen fertilisers. They generate a greenhouse gas -- nitrous oxide -- which is 296 times as powerful as CO2. These emissions alone ensure that ethanol from maize causes between 0.9 and 1.5 times as much warming as petrol, while rapeseed oil (the source of over 80% of the world's biodiesel) generates 1-1.7 times the impact of diesel. This is before you account for the changes in land use.

More here


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


15 November, 2007

New finding: Arctic melting caused by change in ocean circulation

Global warming over the past decade or so isn't all about coal, gasoline and other greenhouse gases, space scientists said Tuesday. Melting Arctic Ocean sea ice may have been caused by a reversal in the ocean's circulation that had been going on for about a decade, scientists from NASA and the University of Colorado said. Whether that reversal in direction was caused in large part by warmth generated by greenhouse gas is a question for another day.

The scientists used both deep-sea pressure gauges and NASA's twin satellites, the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, to measure tiny changes in the weight of columns of water from the surface to the ocean bottom, between 2002 and 2006. The two GRACE satellites travel in tandem and monitor tiny hair's-breadth changes in Earth's gravity field caused by the movement of water. Meanwhile, the pressure gauges on the sea floor directly measure water pressure there. "The close agreement between the North Pole pressure gauges and GRACE data demonstrates GRACE's potential for tracking world ocean circulation," said CU-Boulder physics Professor John Wahr, who co-authored the study that appears in the current issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

The weight of a column of water in the ocean is influenced by such things as the height of the ocean's surface and its salinity. A saltier ocean is heavier and circulates differently than one with less salt. The scientists found a 10-millibar decrease in water pressure at the bottom of the Ocean at the North Pole between 2002 and 2006. That is equal to removing the weight of four inches of water from the ocean, Wahr said. That much drop in water pressure suggests that the Arctic Ocean changed back to a clockwise circulation, the scientists said. The Arctic Ocean had been circulating clockwise prior to 1990, but had been turning counterclockwise in the 1990s.

The change was sparked by a weakened Arctic Oscillation, which reduced the amount of salt in the upper ocean near the North Pole. That slightly decreased the weight of a column of water, changing the water's circulation direction. "Our study confirms that many changes seen in upper Arctic Ocean circulation in the 1990s were mostly decadal in nature, rather than trends caused by global warming," said project leader James Morrison of the University of Washington's Polar Science Center Applied Physics Laboratory.

The Arctic Oscillation was fairly stable until about 1970, but has varied on an approximate 10-year time scale since then. It was turning strongly counterclockwise in the 1990s, during which time the Arctic Ocean lost a lot of its ice, prompting many scientists to view the changes as evidence of an ongoing climate shift. The fact that it can change every decade or so indicates how short-term the oscillations can be, Morrison said.

In fact, the Arctic Ocean circulation seemed to have shifted again in the winter of 2006-07, commensurate with the lowest ice expanse in recorded history. While there is no direct connection between global warming and the Arctic Oscillation, most climate models predict the oscillation will become more strongly counterclockwise in the future, Morrison said. "The events of the 1990s may well be a preview of how the Arctic will respond over longer periods of time in a warming world," he said


The BBC finally looks seriously at the skeptics. See below:

Have all the BBC scandals and staff cuts scared some of them into a little more objectivity?

What do "climate sceptics" believe? You might think that you know the answer, having heard, seen and read numerous counter-blasts aimed at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) over the course of this year, as the three components of its landmark climate assessment were published.

Despite having reported on climate change for more than a decade, I realised at the beginning of the year that I was not entirely sure. On a sceptic's blog I would read "global warming isn't happening". Then I would read an op-ed saying "warming is happening but it's entirely natural". Later, someone would tell me "it is happening, it is caused by greenhouse gases, but the effect is so small it won't matter". Either there was a genuine divergence in the views of the sceptical science community, I concluded, or their analyses were somehow getting scrambled in transmission through blogs, newsletters, and the mainstream media.

The sceptics' top 10: What sceptics believe is an important question, because their voices are heard in governments, editors' offices, boardrooms, and - most importantly - the street. Their arguments sway the political approaches of some important countries, notably the US, which in turn influence the global discussions on whether to do anything about rising CO2 levels. So I decided I had better try to find out.

The best approach seemed to be the simplest - just ask them. But first I had to define who I meant by "them". Rather than choosing a group of people myself, I decided to use a group which had already been compiled by sceptics' organisations. In April 2006, a group of 61 self-styled "accredited experts in climate and related scientific disciplines" wrote an open letter to Canada's newly elected prime minister, Stephen Harper, asking his government to initiate hearings into the scientific foundations of the nation's climate change plan.

The letter, complete with a list of signatories, was published in Canada's Financial Post newspaper. Many, though not all, of the signatories were indeed scientists active in fields relating to climate science. And the group was large enough to suggest I might receive a workable number of replies. So I compiled a questionnaire about their views on climate change science, with a dose of politics thrown in, and mailed it out.

I cannot guarantee that all 61 received it; I was unable to obtain contact details for one person, and was less than certain that I had correct details for three of the others. On the other hand, I was fairly sure that the questionnaire would be spread through the blogosphere and - what should we call it? - the emailosphere? - which turned out to be so.

I went into this exercise not completely knowing what to expect; I guessed I would receive a wide variety of responses, and I was right. Fourteen of the group filled in the questionnaire, in varying degrees of detail; another 11 replied without filling it in. Of these, some sent links to articles explaining their position. Some replied with academic papers, for which I am grateful, especially to Doug Hoyt who mailed a number of references that I had not previously seen. Some said this was a worthwhile exercise. Some, in circulated emails, said the opposite, in terms which were sometimes so frank that others of the group apologised on their behalf.

So to the results. Ten out of the 14 agreed that the Earth's surface temperature had risen over the last 50 years; three said it had not, with one equivocal response. Nine agreed that atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide had risen over the last century, with two saying decidedly that levels had not risen. Eight said that human factors were principally driving the rise. Twelve of the fourteen agreed that in principle, rising greenhouse gas concentrations should increase temperatures. But eight cited the Sun as the principal factor behind the observed temperature increase. And nine said the "urban heat island" effect - where progressive urbanisation around weather stations has increased the amount of heat generated locally - had affected the record of historical temperatures. Eleven believed rising greenhouse gas concentrations would not result in "dangerous" climate change, and 12 said it would be unwise for the global community to restrain production of carbon dioxide and the other relevant gases, with several suggesting that such restraint would bring economic disruption.

One of my more gracious respondents, Arthur Rorsch, suggested that rising CO2 might help "green" the world, with increases in food supply. There was general disdain for the Kyoto Protocol, with respondents split roughly equally between saying it was the wrong approach to an important issue, and a meaningless exercise because there was no point in trying to curb emissions. There was general agreement, too, that computer models which try to project the climate of the future are unreliable. Several respondents said the climate system was inherently unpredictable and therefore impossible to model in a computer.

The other questions produced sets of responses which I could not boil down into anything approaching a consensus view. I do not think that anyone would take this exercise as a comprehensive assessment of the views of climate sceptics, which is probably an impossible task. They are a disparate community, and if you put any two together they would surely disagree on some aspect of the science - just as would any two researchers you picked out from any discipline. But I hope it provides a snapshot of where the scientific disagreements that sceptics have with the IPCC begin and end - for one thing, scotching the view (prevalent in my in-box) that sceptical scientists generally believe the Earth's surface is not really getting warmer.

The IPCC and many of the world's climate scientists would, of course, profoundly disagree with the conclusions evidenced by this small group, and I have linked to some articles which detail some of the science behind their disagreement.


Skepticism and the IPCC

By John Christy, Professor of Atmospheric Science, University of Alabama. This was published by the Beeb too!

The IPCC is a framework around which hundreds of scientists and other participants are organised to mine the panoply of climate change literature to produce a synthesis of the most important and relevant findings. These findings are published every few years to help policymakers keep tabs on where the participants chosen for the IPCC believe the Earth's climate has been, where it is going, and what might be done to adapt to and/or even adjust the predicted outcome. While most participants are scientists and bring the aura of objectivity, there are two things to note:

* this is a political process to some extent (anytime governments are involved it ends up that way)

* scientists are mere mortals casting their gaze on a system so complex we cannot precisely predict its future state even five days ahead

The political process begins with the selection of the Lead Authors because they are nominated by their own governments. Thus at the outset, the political apparatus of the member nations has a role in pre-selecting the main participants. But, it may go further. At an IPCC Lead Authors' meeting in New Zealand, I well remember a conversation over lunch with three Europeans, unknown to me but who served as authors on other chapters. I sat at their table because it was convenient. After introducing myself, I sat in silence as their discussion continued, which boiled down to this: "We must write this report so strongly that it will convince the US to sign the Kyoto Protocol." Politics, at least for a few of the Lead Authors, was very much part and parcel of the process.

And, while the 2001 report was being written, Dr Robert Watson, IPCC Chair at the time, testified to the US Senate in 2000 adamantly advocating on behalf of the Kyoto Protocol, which even the journal Nature now reports is a failure.

As I said above - and this may come as a surprise - scientists are mere mortals. The tendency to succumb to group-think and the herd-instinct (now formally called the "informational cascade") is perhaps as tempting among scientists as any group because we, by definition, must be the "ones who know" (from the Latin sciere , to know). You dare not be thought of as "one who does not know"; hence we may succumb to the pressure to be perceived as "one who knows". This leads, in my opinion, to an overstatement of confidence in the published findings and to a ready acceptance of the views of anointed authorities.

Scepticism, a hallmark of science, is frowned upon. (I suspect the IPCC bureaucracy cringes whenever I'm identified as an IPCC Lead Author.) The signature statement of the 2007 IPCC report may be paraphrased as this: "We are 90% confident that most of the warming in the past 50 years is due to humans." We are not told here that this assertion is based on computer model output, not direct observation. The simple fact is we don't have thermometers marked with "this much is human-caused" and "this much is natural".

So, I would have written this conclusion as "Our climate models are incapable of reproducing the last 50 years of surface temperatures without a push from how we think greenhouse gases influence the climate. Other processes may also account for much of this change."

To me, the elevation of climate models to the status of definitive tools for prediction has led to the temptation to be over-confident. Here is how this can work. Computer models are the basic tools which are used to estimate the future climate. Many scientists (ie the mere mortals) have been captivated by an IPCC image in which the actual global surface temperature curve for the 20th Century is overlaid on a band of model simulations of temperature for the same period. The observations seem to fit right in the middle of the model band, implying that models are formulated so capably and completely that they can reproduce the past very well. Without knowing much about climate models, any group will be persuaded by this image to believe models are quite precise.

However, there is a fundamental flaw with this thinking. You see, every modeller knew what the answer was ahead of time. (Those groans you just heard were the protestations of my colleagues in the modelling community - they know what's coming). In my view, on the other hand, this persuasive image is not a scientific experiment at all. The agreement displayed is just as likely to do with clever software engineering as to the first principles of science. The proper and objective experiment is to test model output against quantities not known ahead of time.

Our group is one of the few that builds a variety of climate datasets from scratch for tests just like this. Since we build the datasets here, we have an urge to be sceptical about arguments-from-authority in favour of the real, though imperfect, observations. In these model vs data comparisons, we find gross inconsistencies - hence I am sceptical of our ability to claim cause and effect about both past and future climate states. Mother Nature is incredibly complex, and to think we mortals are so clever and so perceptive that we can create computer code that accurately reproduces the millions of processes that determine climate is hubris (think of predicting the complexities of clouds).

Of all scientists, climate scientists should be the most humble. Our cousins in the one-to-five-day weather prediction business learned this long ago, partly because they were held accountable for their predictions every day. Answering the question about how much warming has occurred because of increases in greenhouse gases and what we may expect in the future still holds enormous uncertainty, in my view.

How could the situation be improved? At one time I stated that the IPCC-like process was the worst way to compile scientific knowledge, except for all the others. Improvements have been adopted through the years, most notably the publication of the comments and responses. Bravo. I would think a simple way to let the world know there are other opinions about various aspects emerging from the IPCC font would be to provide some quasi-official forum to allow those views to be expressed. These alternative-view authors should be afforded the same protocol as the IPCC authors, ie they themselves are their own final reviewers and thus would have final say on what is published. At that point, I suppose, the blogosphere would erupt and, amidst the fire and smoke, hopefully, enlightenment may appear.

I continue to participate in the IPCC (unless an IPCC functionary reads this missive and blackballs me) because I not only am able to contribute from my own research, but there are numerous opportunities to learn something new - to feed the curiosity that attends a scientist's soul. I can live with the disagreements concerning nuances and subjective assertions as they simply remind me that all scientists are people, and do not prevent me from speaking my mind anyway.

Don't misunderstand me. Atmospheric carbon dioxide continues to increase due to the undisputed benefits that carbon-based energy brings to humanity. This increase will have some climate impact through CO2's radiation properties. However, fundamental knowledge is meagre here, and our own research indicates that alarming changes in the key observations are not occurring.

The best advice regarding scientific knowledge, which certainly applies to climate, came to me from Mr Mallory, my high school physics teacher. He proposed that we should always begin our scientific pronouncements with this statement: "At our present level of ignorance, we think we know..." Good advice for the IPCC, and all of us.


Mind Games of the Big Green Scare Machine

Lord, what fools these mortals be - Shakespeare

With each passing day, Americans are increasingly behaving as though Al Gore's mantra "the debate [over man-made global warming] is over" were true. Warming folklore is deserving of incredulity as the extreme left's latest armament in its ongoing battle against capitalism and globalization. But instead it has found insinuation into virtually every corner of our culture. Not by any occasion of scientific merit. Certainly not by outcome of an imaginary debate whose time never came, let alone ever concluded. But rather by the actions of ideologues who have successfully gagged the opposing voice in that very discussion while widely dispensing the resultantly accepted tenets of their own.

And while the gags used held no corporal form, but were instead woven from a variety of longstanding reason-skewing techniques (aka logical fallacies), their effect was scarcely diminished. Consider these recent events.

Frustrated by the Bush Administration's submissively proposed market-friendly voluntary measures, Congress is now earnestly considering elsewhere disastrous mandatory Carbon emissions abatement legislation and consumption-penalizing tax policies. House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-MI), who believes the U.S should reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 60-80% by 2050, is looking to levy a 50 cent per gallon additional gasoline tax on an already pump-price-shocked America. For good measure, he'll further threaten the struggling airline industry by including jet fuel. On top of that, he'll require all energy companies to pay $50 per ton for carbon released by burning coal, petroleum or natural gas. He'll also phase out mortgage tax deductions for homes over 3,000 sq ft and eliminate them altogether for homes exceeding 4,200 sq feet.

On the Senate side, Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA) have introduced their own "pollution permit" bill, amusingly dubbed America's Climate Security Act [1], to "reduce global warming pollution." It proposes both carbon cap-and-trade and monetary transition assistance to current carbon slobs. Never to be outdone, Democratic White House frontrunner Hillary Clinton -- no political dummy -- is promising she'd broker and sign a globally binding post Kyoto emissions treaty, a full 2 years before the current failed accord is set to expire.

And closer to people's homes, NBC dedicated last week to "green" programming which, amid its silly how to be a good little greenie tips, spotlighted both Democrats and Republicans vowing to save the planet from "global warming pollution." Automaker Ford wasn't alone in hysteria capitulation when it released a commercial wherein a little girl asks her dad to drop her off a block short of her destination to avoid the humiliation of being seen in a non-hybrid SUV.

It's becoming painfully apparent that the public is buying into this rubbish. An October CNN/Research Corp. poll found 56% of respondents believing that "the phenomenon of global warming has been proven, and can be largely blamed on human endeavors, such as power plants and factories." And a Harris poll that same month revealed 71% believing that "increased carbon dioxide and other gases released into the atmosphere will, if unchecked, lead to global warming and an increase in average temperatures."

Mind you, while science attests that the planet is, indeed, at an apex of a historically natural vacillation of cold and warm phases, there exists absolutely no proven influence on climate by man-made CO2 emissions. And yet, the Big Green Scare Machine (TBGSM), its MSM cogs, and Gorebot drones have managed to convince enough people otherwise to successfully engrain this nonsense into the very conscience of society, primarily by silencing dissent with ploys of flawed reason.

Clearing the Corridor to Clouded Correlation

We've all seen them present evidence of an undeniable upward cycle, then label anthropogenic global warming (AGW) skeptics as "warming deniers" who rebuff the proof right before their eyes. This dishonest little dodge is an inverted Straw man argument [2] as it blatantly misrepresents a position, proves its own distortion, and then concludes that the real position has been affirmed. The upshot of this fraud is a population that largely believes skeptics doubt the warming trend itself, not its anthropogenic influence, and that thereby lies about the"debate." Moreover, this implied association blurs that distinction, leaving many with the very false yet very real impression that they have witnessed convincing evidence of both. Pretty neat trick -- turning a skeptic questioning the impact of manmade greenhouse gases into a boogieman denying the planet is warming to imply all cynics are obviously wrong about both.

However, as with stage magic, logical illusions require audience receptivity preparation. Here, instilling an assumed connection is paramount. In An Inconvenient Truth, Gore sermonized before a graph he claimed depicted both unprecedented modern temperatures and startling correlations between temperature and CO2 fluctuations over eons of time. In truth, even were the representations honest -- they were based upon the so-called "hockeystick" graph produced by Dr. Michael Mann which has been proven inaccurate, particularly in its record heat claims -- viewers had no way of discerning the key issue of whether temperature increases followed or preceded rises in CO2.

Of course, had the CO2 increases trailed those of temperature -- as many believe to be the case (solar and/or volcanically warmed oceans emit more CO2) -- then the entire GHG theory crumbles. Indeed, without such temporal reference, Gore is employing a common correlation versus causation confusion trick called Cum Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc (with this, therefore because of this). The absurdity of such illogic was cleverly lampooned by Bobby Henderson, who wrote in a May 2005 letter to the Kansas School Board:

"You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature."

More here

Believe me Greenies, I tried the bus but it is a lost cause

By Andrew Gall, writing from Sydney, Australia

I drove to work the other day. Walk out the door, hop in the car, 15 minutes later I am at my desk after parking at the early-bird rate of $18. Going home is just as low fuss. Problem is I felt a bit guilty with all the talk about greenhouse emissions and carbon footprints, so I caught the bus to work today. As I live in Annandale and work near Wynyard, how hard can it be?

Walk out the door, 50 metres to the bus stop and wait. One hour and seven minutes later I am at my desk, realising I could have walked it quicker. The first thing you notice is that the timetable is just a selection of random times with no relevance to buses actually arriving. Although the timetable suggests there is a bus every four or five minutes the reality is actually no buses for 25 minutes and then four or five buses simultaneously. My neighbour tells me the record is eight buses at once. With narrow streets precluding passing, the result is one or two hugely overcrowded buses followed closely by three almost empty buses.

Once on the bus I discover another problem. The bureaucrats apparently claim that buses are designed to fit the "95th percentile adult". Unfortunately this data appears to be based on 19th-century Lancashire miners or hobbits. I am just over 180 centimetres and I have to bend over while standing in the back of the bus. Jamming my legs into the seats is almost impossible.

The next problem is the route appears to be have been designed by Soviet Central Planning. Annandale is five kilometres west of the city, and as three-quarters of the passengers go into the CBD you would expect the bus route to be generally easterly. Not so. It meanders through the back streets of Camperdown and Glebe before coming out on Broadway and going down George Street. Once the bus turns onto Broadway and joins up with all the other Parramatta Road and King Street services it becomes almost comical as we leave the realm of professional commuters with their TravelTens and weeklies and enter the world of tourists who try to pay with a $50 note.

As people trickle off through Railway Square and Haymarket the buses creep on and begin to clump together until by the Queen Victoria Building, George Street is one long bus queue. Eventually we arrive at Wynyard and I give thanks for one small mercy - that I am not the driver. Today I am driving to work.



Aesop would have had little trouble seeking inspiration if he were writing his fables today. The Tortoise and the Hare might have become The Hamilton and the Raikkonen. The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs might have been known to us as The Fisherman and the Cod. And parents might now be reading The Sub-Prime Mortgage and the Investor instead of The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.

But one moral tale that certainly isn't lacking any inspiration today is The Boy Who Cried Wolf. We live in an age where we seem to revel in the scare story. Some would argue that climate change is just such a story. Day after day we read scientific reports pointing to an ever worsening outlook for our species. But the law of diminishing returns says that no matter how pressing or compelling the message, the more we hear it, the less impact it has on us over time.

Rather predictably, talk of "eco fatigue" is beginning to surface. An ICM survey of 2,000 British adults found recently that 23% of those surveyed admitted they were "bored with eco news". You could say 77% are still engaged, but it would be a mistake to ignore the fact that some have gone from "aware" to "despair" in a very short period of time.

What has caused this? Earlier this year, Professor Mike Hulme, then director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, warned scientists and the media against the use of hyperbolic language when speaking about climate change scenarios. In particular, he warned against using the words "disaster", "apocalypse" and "catastrophe". His own research showed that such terms generated apathy among the intended audience. "Sod it," people would conclude, "we all might as well live for the now, then. What time does Top Gear start?"

Another factor I sense playing its part in generating "eco fatigue" is that some people clearly see it as a passing fashion. Our "build 'em up, knock 'em down" culture demands that we constantly check the shelf life of any trend, and now the environment has gone "mainstream" many instinctively want to retain their cool by getting off this carousel. Tellingly, the ICM survey found that 18% of those surveyed admitted to exaggerating their commitment to environmentally friendly lifestyle choices because it is "fashionable".



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


14 November, 2007

Despite predictions, the sky is not falling

The first key to wisdom is constant and frequent questioning, for by doubting we are led to question and by questioning we arrive at the truth. -- Peter Abelard (A.D. 1079 - 1142)

Reading about the recent global warming rally at Kincaid Park, I wondered if the participants would be relieved if man's activities were proved not responsible for Alaska's warming weather. An intriguing question.

They probably don't know ground-based warming stopped in 1998, according to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change data. This temperature stability is occurring despite a four percent increase in atmospheric C02 over the last eight years. Lower atmosphere satellite data also show little, if any, warming since 1979, although atmospheric CO2 increased 17 percent.

In another surprising turn, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies corrected data errors this September that required changing America's warmest year on record from 1998 to 1934, thus refuting the Gospel According to James Hansen, the Institute's director. The third hottest year is now 1921.

Canadian Stephen McIntyre (www., concerned about the discontinuity of NASA's temperature record, identified the errors and contacted the Institute. The end result: Five of America's top 10 warmest years occurred in the 1930s, when only 10 percent of greenhouse gases emitted in the last century were in the atmosphere. Three of the top 10 remain 1998, 2006 and 1999. Natural variation or catastrophic warming?

McIntyre's widely-commended contribution to climate science also severely damaged Michael Mann's infamous "hockey stick" graph that is integral to climate scare mongering, and the 2007 IPCC report no longer includes it. This is fascinating stuff.

Ancient Chinese records have revealed historic warming from year one to about A.D. 240 (the Roman Warming); a cold period between years A.D. 240 and 800 (Dark Ages); warming between 800 and 1400 (Medieval Optimum); and cooling from 1400 to about 1900 (Little Ice Age). Where were man-made CO2 emissions then?

Contrary to today's predictions of catastrophic weather events, during China's warm periods it experienced fewer and milder storms, fewer droughts and floods, better crops and more prosperity. Here at home, researchers found serious droughts are becoming rare. According to, seven droughts occurred before 1920, seven from 1921-1940 (including the Dust Bowl disaster), eight from 1941-1960, five from 1961-1980 and just three during the next two decades.

But people are dying because of global warming, prominent climate alarmist Deborah Williams wrote (ADN, April 18, 2006), noting 31,000 Europeans died in the 2003 heat wave. Yet cold kills many times more people than heat (as Alaskans well know). Cold weather in England and Wales, 1998-2000, caused some 47,000 deaths each winter.

Because there are so many variables in climate, scientists have difficulty explaining the complex workings of solar energy levels, continental drift, changes in earth's orbit, clouds, cosmic rays, etc. Then, throw in water vapor, which constitutes 80 percent to 95 percent of greenhouse gases but is seldom mentioned or considered in computer models. Without factoring in water vapor, CO2 concentrations appear far more significant. Meteorologist Joseph D'Aleo helps clarify: "If the atmosphere was a 100-story building, our annual anthropogenic CO2 contribution today would be equivalent to the linoleum on the first floor."

Some scientists have found the courage to publicly denounce the prevailing Armageddon warnings, saying there's just too much at stake. (See here) From an Alaska perspective, it is heartening to see dedicated professionals leave their comfort zones to warn that an ill-informed public, elected officials and bureaucrats could literally transform the structure of society and its economic foundations. And for what?

Government-mandated punitive measures will do nothing to reverse warming impacts on Alaska. What will work is applying human ingenuity, mitigation and adaptation measures specifically where they are needed. Focusing attention on ways to benefit from warmer weather is also in order. Cold Alaskans' per capita energy consumption is three times the national average. Aren't energy cost savings and air quality improvements going to be significant? Extended growing seasons and warmer temperatures will also benefit agriculture and forestry, improving Alaskans' living standards.

Staging the nationwide rallies last Saturday must have cost the sponsoring organizations a fortune, along with the cost of sending 5,000 students to lobby Congress. You have to question why such fortunes are being spent, who's writing the checks, who stands to gain and lose. One thing should be clear: It's not about global warming. So, would the rally participants be relieved to find humans and industry innocent of causing global warming? Probably not.


Global warming: Oceans could absorb far more CO2, says study

The ocean's plankton can suck up far more airborne carbon dioxide (CO2) than previously realised, although the marine ecoystem may suffer damage if this happens, a new study into global warming says. The sea has soaked up nearly half of the CO2 that has been emitted by fossil fuels since the start of the Industrial Revolution. The gas dissolves into surface waters and is then transported around the oceans.

But a key role is played by plant micro-organisms called phytoplankton, which take in the dissolved gas at the ocean's sunlit surface as part of the process of photosynthesis. This plankton dies and eventually sinks to the ocean floor, thus storing the carbon for potentially millions of years.

One of the big questions is how much more of CO2 the sea can absorb. If, like a saturated sponge, the oceans cannot take up any more, atmospheric concentrations of CO2, the principal greenhouse gas, would sharply rise and stoke global warming.

Another concern is that rising levels of dissolved CO2 also causes acidification of seawater. Wildlife such as coral, which secretes a skeletal structure, are known to be affected by acidification but the impact on other marine species is largely unknown.In an innovative experiment reported on Sunday in Nature, researchers closed off part of Raune fjord in southern Norway to see how plankton reacted to different levels of CO2.

They used nine large enclosed tanks of seawater that were exposed to CO2 concentrations likely to prevail over the next 150 years. These three levels were today's concentrations of CO2; double that concentration, to simulate the air in 2100; and triple, replicating the air in 2150).To feed the plankton, the researchers added nutrients to simulate food usually brought up by ocean currents and upwelling, and then monitored plankton levels over the next 24 days. The investigators found that, the higher the CO2 level, the more the plankton bloomed. The organisms were able to gobble up to 39 percent more dissolved carbon compared with today, but did not need any additional nutrients to achieve this.

The findings "underscore the importance of biologically-driven feedbacks in the ocean to global change," say the authors, led by Ulf Riebesell of the Liebniz Institute of Marine Sciences in Kiel, Germany.

The paper, though, warns that taking the carbon out of the air and placing it into the sea could cause problems. Algal blooms could inflict oxygen depletion in some parts of the ocean while rising carbon levels may cause an imbalance in primary nutrients, with implications that could ripple across the marine food web.

Supporters of so-called geo-engineering -- unconventional projects aimed at easing global warming -- have been closely looking at plankton, seeing in it fantastic potential as a carbon sponge. Their schemes entail sowing the sea with iron filings and other nutrients to encourage plankton growth and thus suck up more of the atmospheric CO2.

Mainstream scientists say such experiments are unjustified, given the uncertainty surrounding the environmental impact and the many knowledge gaps that persist about ocean topography and currents.


Climate change by Jupiter

The alignment of the planets, and especially that of Jupiter and Saturn, control the climate on Earth. So explained Rhodes Fairbridge of Columbia University, a giant in science over much of the last century whose accomplishments are perhaps unsurpassed for their breadth, depth, and volume. This one man authored or co-authored 100 scientific books and more than 1,000 scientific papers, he edited the Benchmarks in Geology series (more than 90 volumes in print) and was general editor of the Encyclopaedias of the Earth Sciences. He edited eight major encyclopedias of specialized scientific papers in the atmospheric sciences and astrogeology; geomorphology; geochemistry and the earth sciences; geology, sedimentology, paleontology, oceanography and, not least, climatology.

Changes in sunspots and other solar activity, scientists have realized for more than two centuries, correlate closely with the climate of Earth, explaining the ice ages and periods of great warming. But what, Dr. Fairbridge wondered, causes these changes in our sun?

The answer, he discovered with the help of NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, lies largely in the solar system's centre of gravity. At times, the sun is at the solar system's centre of gravity. Most often, this is not the case-- the orbit of the planets will align planets to one side or another of the sun. Jupiter, the planet with by far the largest mass, most influences the solar system's centre of gravity. When Uranus, Neptune and especially Saturn -- the next largest planet -- join Jupiter on one side of the solar system, the solar system's centre of gravity shifts well beyond the sun.

The sun's own orbit, he found, has eight characteristic patterns, all determined by Jupiter's position relative to Saturn, with the other planets playing much lesser roles. Some of these eight have orderly orbits, smooth and near-circular. During such orbits, solar activity is high and Earth heats up. Some of the eight orbits are chaotic, taking a loop-the-loop path. These orbits correspond to quiet times for the sun, and cool periods on Earth. Every 179 years or so, the sun embarks on a new cycle of orbits. One of the cooler periods in recent centuries was the Little Ice Age of the 17th century, when the Thames River in London froze over each winter. The next cool period, if the pattern holds, began in 1996, with the effects to be felt starting in 2010. Some predict three decades of severe cold.

Temperatures on Earth are but one consequence of these periodic and predictable celestial movements. Others, Dr. Fairbridge has shown, are seen everywhere on Earth: in the various and differing periodicities in rocks, glaciers, sand dunes and the circulation of the ocean; geomagnetic records; the records of the isotopes of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen in tree rings, ice cores, air and water. They are the periodicities of climate change.

Dr. Fairbridge's best-known periodicity, which he developed in the 1950s, hypothesized that sea levels had been rising for the last 16,000 years, during which there were periodic oscillations of rise and fall. The Fairbridge curve describing this period -- so named in derision because it offended the conventional wisdom - is now widely accepted. It demonstrates that, even within the past 1,000 years, sea levels have several times changed by up to two metres, and suddenly -- each of these large changes occurred in fewer than 40 years.

Dr. Fairbridge's broader climate change claims -- that celestial changes control Earth's temperatures -- remain controversial, but less so than they were decades ago, when his was a relatively lone voice. Solar scientists with increasing regularity are publishing data establishing celestial origins to climate change on Earth. Dr. Fairbridge saw his Fairbridgecurve theories vindicated, but he won't his celestial claims. This most remarkable individual died a year ago this week, at age 92.

Rhodes Fairbridge, an early expert on climate change, was a professor of geology at Columbia. He received an undergraduate degree from Queen's University in Ontario and a master's degree from the University of Oxford. He was awarded a doctorate of science by the University of Western Australia in 1944 at the age of 30, bypassing the usual PhD prerequisite. During the Second World War, Dr. Fairbridge also served with the Royal Australian Air Force in U.S. General Douglas MacArthur's headquarters as deputy director of intelligence.


Costly Globaloney

A misguided environmental-policy bill meandering through the Senate would slap U.S. businesses with pie-in-the-sky requirements for cutting greenhouse gases by unattainable amounts.

The proposed bill introduced by Sens. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, and John Warner, Virginia Republican, would require companies to scale back greenhouse-gas emissions to 2005 levels by 2012 and 1990 levels by 2020. Over the longer haul, the bill would mandate a 65 percent reduction in greenhouse emissions from 1990 levels by 2050. Companies that wish to exceed the greenhouse-gas limits would be allowed to purchase credits from companies whose emissions meet the standards, purportedly to offset their environmental impact.

Titled the "America's Climate Security Act," the bill's end results would cause serious damage to our economic security and at best have a negligible impact on the world's rising greenhouse-gas emission levels. It also does nothing to boost nuclear-energy development, one of the cleanest and most efficient energy sources. The bill fails to compensate and protect consumers from rising natural gas prices and harms job security by encouraging companies to move overseas to nations with less draconian standards. In short, the bill's effects would land a crippling encroachment on U.S. power plants, factories and transportation sectors.

One analysis by CRA International estimates the Lieberman-Warner bill will cost $4 to $7 trillion over 40 years. The American Council for Capital Formation has concluded that the legislation's emissions-swapping scheme would lead to "higher energy prices, lost jobs and reduced [gross domestic product]." During testimony before a House committee, Peter Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), stated that such swapping programs known as "cap-and-trade" would create "windfall" profits - profits that have even been denounced by presidential candidate John Edwards. The CBO has also cautioned that "price increases would disproportionately affect people at the lower end of the income scale." It is baffling that congressional Democrats, who never cease to spout their populist rhetoric, are ignoring such a clarion call for ensuring economic stability among low and middle-income families.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in his new book, "The Age of Turbulence," described how these programs have unintended effects when he wrote that "[c]ap-and-trade systems or carbon taxes are likely to be popular only until real people lose real jobs as their consequence. There is no effective way to meaningfully reduce emissions without negatively impacting a large part of an economy," he argued. Democrats in Congress would do well to listen to Mr. Greenspan's cogent views.

The rhetoric surrounding the issue of greenhouse gases has been fraught with emotion rather than reason. "We would never leave a child alone in a hot, locked car, and I believe the [committee] will not leave this issue of global warming burning for another generation to address," said Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, in a fit of melodrama from the Senate floor when the bill was introduced last month. Unfortunately, Mrs. Boxer chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which is overseeing the bill's movement. Last week a subcommittee of the panel advanced the Lieberman-Warner bill by a 4-3 vote.

In a letter to Sens. Lieberman and Warner last month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce pointed out that this flawed bill does not address the international nature of emission standards. "Chinese emissions are projected to increase 119 percent and Indian emissions 131 percent between 2004 and 2030," the chamber wrote. "Without participation by developing nations, the carbon constraints imposed by [Lieberman-Warner] would penalize domestic businesses attempting to compete in the world market while non-participating developing nations continue to get a free ride."

Even the British environmental journal Nature last month suggested that Europeans should trash the Kyoto Protocol because it has failed to substantially reduce global greenhouse gases. It is puzzling that Congress is now seeking to adopt Kyoto-type standards, which will do nothing to help our Earth and do much to harm its citizens.


Polar bears in danger? Is this some kind of joke?

Why don't polar bears eat penguins? Because their paws are too big to get the wrappers off, obviously. It's not a joke you hear so often these days, though, because polar bears are now a serious business. They're the standard-bearers of a tear-jerking propaganda campaign to persuade us all that, if we don't act soon on climate change, the only thing that will remain of our snowy-furred ursine chums will be the picture on a pack of Fox's glacier mints.

First there came the computer-generated polar bear in Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth; then that heartrending photo, syndicated everywhere, of the bears apparently stranded on a melting ice floe; then the story of those four polar bears drowned by global warming (actually, they'd perished in a storm).

Now, in a new cinema release called Earth - a magnificent, feature-length nature documentary from the makers of the BBC's Planet Earth series - comes the most sob-inducing "evidence" of all: a poor male polar bear filmed starving to death as a result, the quaveringly emotional Patrick Stewart voiceover suggests, of global warming. Never mind that what actually happens is that the bear stupidly has a go at a colony of walruses and ends up being gored to death. The bear wouldn't have done it, the film argues, if he hadn't been so hungry and exhausted. And why was he hungry and exhausted? Because the polar ice caps are melting, thus shortening the polar bears' seal-hunting season.

Having been up to the bears' habitat in Svalbard, I do have a certain amount of sympathy with these concerns. To claim, however, that they are facing imminent doom is stretching the truth. In 1950, let us not forget, there were about 5,000 polar bears. Now there are 25,000. No wonder Greenpeace had trouble getting polar bears placed on the endangered species list. A fivefold population increase isn't exactly a catastrophic decline.

But never let the facts get in the way of a good story. The doom-mongers certainly won't. Despite evidence from organisations such as the US National Biological Service that in most places polar bear populations are either stable or increasing, Ursus maritimus will continue to top the eco-hysterics' list of animals in danger because it's so fluffy and white and photogenic.

If you're really that worried about their demise, I'd book yourself a ticket to Churchill, Manitoba, where the evil buggers (about the only creature, incidentally, that actively preys on humans) are so rife they're almost vermin.

And if things get really bad, we can always ship the survivors off to Antarctica where, unlike the North Pole, the ice shelf appears to be growing. Then the joke would be even less comprehensible. Why don't polar bears eat penguins? But they do, actually!



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


13 November, 2007

"Manmade Global Warming Myth" Shockingly Refuted by ABC Affiliate

Post below lifted from Newsbusters

You'd better strap yourself in tightly before proceeding, for the following story and video will likely shock you more than anything you've seen in quite some time.

On Thursday, in the middle of NBC's "Green is Universal" campaign, an ABC affiliate in Tyler, Texas, broadcast a segment during one of its news programs focusing exclusively on positions skeptical of man's role in climate change. In fact, one of the meteorologists involved actually referred to this whole issue as "the manmade global warming myth."

During the piece, not only did the two anchors express a viewpoint contrary to the current media meme, but also the reporter, Molly Reuter, and the station's three meteorologists, unanimously spoke against the view held by Nobel Laureate Al Gore and his sycophant devotees (video available here)

KLTV 7 METEOROLOGIST MORGAN PALMER: Any idea can become mainstream if you just hear one side of the argument...Because of the money involved, because that folks who are writing these papers at a lot of institutions are going after grant moneys and the grant moneys in many cases are funded by folks who might have a very good intention, environmentalists, but unfortunately the papers that are being written are heavily weighed toward the manmade global warming myth.

Shocking, yes? But there's much more:

KLTV 7 METEOROLOGIST GRANT DADE: Is the Earth warming? Yes, I think it is. But is man causing that? No. It's just a simple climate cycle that the earth goes through over periods of thousands of years.

KLTV 7 METEOROLOGIST MARK SCIRTO: The late 1800's, early 1900's, we were so cold that parts of Galveston Bay froze over. In part of the first decade, in part of the 20th century it was one of the warmest ever, then we cooled off again, and then in the '50s it was the big drought.

DADE: Did you hear about the Arctic ice melting? But you don't hear that in Antarctica last winter was the most ice ever recorded on the Antarctic ice sheet. You don't hear that.

SCIRTO: Eventually, what's going to happen is ten or 20 or 30 years from now, this is all going to be gone because we will not be warming anymore.


By Bjorn Lomborg

This week, the United Nations' climate scientists will release a major report synthesising the world's best global warming research. It will be the first time we've heard from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since its scientists won the Nobel Peace Prize with former US vice-president Al Gore.

The IPCC's Assessment Report will tell policy-makers what to expect from man-made climate change. It is the result of rigorous and painstaking labour: more than can be said for the other Nobel Prize winner. The difference between Gore's claims and IPCC research is instructive.

While Gore was creating alarm with his belief that a 20-foot-high wall of water would inundate low-lying cities, the IPCC showed us we should realistically prepare for a rise of one foot or so by the end of the century. Beyond the dramatic difference, it is also worth putting that one foot in perspective. Over the last 150 years, sea levels rose about one foot - yet, did we notice?

Most tellingly, while Gore was raising fears about the Gulf Stream halting and a new Ice Age starting, the scientists discounted the prospect entirely. The Gulf Stream takes warm water from around Mexico and pushes it toward Europe. Around 8,000 years ago, a melting lake in the region of the present-day Canadian Great Lakes broke through and a massive torrent of cold, fresh water flooded into the North Atlantic, significantly slowing the Gulf Stream for around 400 years. Gore worries that Greenland's ice shelves could melt and do the same thing again. Ice in Greenland is obviously melting. But over the next century, it'll spill 1,000 times less water into the ocean than occurred 8,000 years ago. It will have a negligible effect on the Gulf Stream.

In his movie An Inconvenient Truth, Gore claimed that scientists were discovering that the current is "surprisingly fragile". However, the IPCC scientists write in their 2007 report: "None of the current models simulates an abrupt reduction or shut-down" of the Gulf Stream. But what sort of nightmare would ensue if Gore were right? Siberia-like conditions in Europe? Actually, no. Europe would need to plunge by almost 13C to get that cold. Halting the Gulf Stream wouldn't achieve anything near that.

Gore and others have bought into a popular myth: that the Gulf Stream is the reason that western European winters are so much warmer than those of eastern North America. It is true the Gulf Stream provides a few degrees of extra heat to Europe, but it actually warms the west side of the North Atlantic almost as much. It's not the reason Europe is warmer than the US in winter; warm winds are.

Let's hear from the IPCC again: "Catastrophic scenarios about the beginning of an ice age... are mere speculations, and no climate model has produced such an outcome. In fact, the processes leading to an ice age are sufficiently well understood and completely different from those discussed here, that we can confidently exclude this scenario."

Gore's claims have received a lot of notice. Hopefully, the careful work of the IPCC will also receive the attention that it deserves.


Canadian doubletalk

The CBC television programme, "The Fifth Estate", describes its raison d' etre as follows:

"to challenge assumptions and question conventional wisdom, and most importantly to give voice to victims of injustice who deserve to be heard but have been silenced."

But what if The Fifth Estate itself is the perpetrator of the injustice? What if it is their own network that has ignored and mistreated those who disagree with "conventional wisdom" on an issue of national importance? Will the programme then "challenge assumptions" on which fashionable views are based? Or will they simply parrot political correctness, carefully ignoring, or denigrating the opinions of those who spend their lives studying the field?

If the past year's repeated broadcasts of The Denial Machine (aired for at least the 15th time on October 28th on CBC TV) is any indication, then the answer to these questions are obvious--when it comes to climate change, the Fifth Estate is not even remotely interested in questioning conventional wisdom or even following basic journalistic ethics. They are climate campaigners--state-funded propagandists, pure and simple. And, as is usually the case with partisan activists, the ends apparently justifies the means in their eyes, no matter how disreputable.

My (Tim Ball's) own experience with Fifth Estate staff is a case in point. We at NRSP had heard from our American friends who had already been interviewed for The Fifth Estate programme in mid-2006 that it was clearly being designed to malign scientists who dared speak out against the politically correct, but scientifically-flawed hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide were causing a `climate crisis'. U.S. scientists complained to us that Fifth Estate staff were more interested in creating controversy about alleged funding sources of their work than in listening to anything they had to say about scientific research.

Recognizing the CBC show as a `hatchet job' in the making, we refused the Fifth Estate's dogged requests for interviews, e-mailing them (Tom Harris) "based on your past coverage of the issue and our feedback from people you have already interviewed, or tried to interview, we did not believe the upcoming show would cover the issue in a fair and balanced fashion." We (Tim Ball) even told the CBC via e-mail, "I have now decided not to participate in your program and ask that you not use this or any previous communications in the programme."

We also relayed the comments of our US friends to our scientist contacts in Canada and other countries who likewise refused to be interviewed by the Fifth Estate for the show. This is why none of the many Canadian and other non-American climate scientists who question the nonsensical assertions of Al Gore and David Suzuki appear in The Denial Machine - except me (Tim Ball), that is. So, how did I (Tim Ball) end up `starring' in the Fifth Estate's slick `docu-ganda' despite having totally refused to participate?

On the morning of October 5, 2006 I was setting up my Power Point slides for a breakfast presentation I was giving at a conference in Dawson Creek, B.C. when a reporter with a camera and sound man approached me. He asked if he could interview me. I asked who he represented. He replied "CBC News". I said, "You are not the Fifth Estate are you because I have declined to be interviewed by them." He said no, he was CBC News. I replied that I didn't have time for an interview as I had a seven hour drive ahead of me right after the talk as I was to present again that evening in La Crete. The reporter said he wanted to talk about funding and I asked why funding from one source was considered acceptable and agenda-less while funding from those on the other side was considered suspect (with only a few exceptions (e.g. John Oakley on AM640 radio--listen here; Suzuki's errors are outlined here) few dare question, for example, the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) about their funding sources even though they list oil and gas companies and foreign foundations among their donors).

While I spoke with the `CBC News' reporter, I noticed the cameraman busy doing something with his equipment but since I had said no to an interview, I assumed his camera was off. The reporter then asked if they could follow me to La Crete. I said he could do what he wanted. He left the stage only to come back a few minutes later saying the crew thought it a waste to travel seven hours for a ten minute interview and could I agree to a brief interview after my talk? I consented.

After my presentation, I went to the back of the hall where the CBC team had two opposing chairs, the cameraman, lights and sound man set up. I sat down and they put the microphone on me, then the interviewer said, I think I should tell you that this is for The Fifth Estate, what do you want to do? I stood up, took the microphone off and said, "I'm out of here." He asked if we could discuss it and admitted that his confession as to representing the programme was done at the urging of his technicians. I replied to the reporter, "I don't talk to liars", and left. I would swear I saw a distinct "good for you" look on the camera and sound men's faces.

That, so I thought, was that. Little did I know that, without my knowledge or consent, the Fifth Estate cameraman had in fact secretly filmed my conversation with the reporter before the talk, a good portion of which appeared in the many airings of The Denial Machine. My specific request that they not use "any previous communications in the programme" had fallen on deaf ears. While this sort of things goes on among some of the less scrupulous media every day, it is a disgrace that our national broadcaster stoops so low. I am planning on registering a formal complaint with the network's Ombudsman.


Czech leader raises new doubts on climate change

Czech President Vaclav Klaus has criticised Chancellor Angela Merkel for her efforts to fight climate change, saying politicians, journalists and scientists are exploiting an unproven issue for their own advantage. In an interview to be published in WirtschaftsWoche business magazine in Germany on Monday, Klaus said many world leaders had privately congratulated him for doubting whether climate change was man-made in a Sept. 24 speech to a U.N. conference.

"The unfair and irrational debate about global warming really annoys me," said Klaus, a leading climate change sceptic. "The issue is increasingly turning into the fundamental ideological conflict of our times. The climate protection movement represents a new ideology."

Ahead of a U.N. climate panel meeting starting on Monday, Klaus compared it to the East-West conflict of the Cold War. He said he was surprised Merkel, a physicist who grew up in communist East Germany, would fall for such an idea without making a "critical examination of a controversial hypothesis". Merkel has taken a leading role in fighting climate change. "She's lived in a socialist society and she knows the dangers of ideologies that are aimed against freedom," said Klaus, whose Sept. 24 climate conference speech may also have hurt the Czech Republic's bid for a U.N. Security Council seat.

"Utopia is an excellent escape for politicians because they can busy themselves with far-away goals and don't have to worry about immediate problems," added Klaus. "Climate change is an excellent issue for that escape."

Klaus said many world leaders privately congratulated him for his sceptical remarks but he did not want to name them. "I'm not alone," he said. "I didn't get applause for my speech at the New York climate conference. But afterwards many government leaders came to me and congratulated me. They said 'that was important, someone has to say it'. Evidently you need to be brave to speak up against climate policies." ...

Klaus told the German weekly magazine he did not doubt that global warming was happening and that humans were playing a role. But he said the decisive question was how big that role is. Klaus said it is only marginal. "You can analyse the climate debate as a sociological trend. First, politicians have put climate protection on the agenda for self-interest and journalists then jumped aboard as freeloaders kicking up a storm with a headline-making issue," he said. "And then come the climate researchers who want to maximise their profit by devoting themselves to an issue where the most research funds are being allocated," he said.


Outspoken ASU prof draws ire

Arizona State University climatologist Robert Balling attended the premiere of Al Gore's global-warming documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. He served on the United Nations' climate-change panel and studies how drought and warmer temperatures will affect the West. He bikes to work and eats organic food.

But environmentalists hate him. Balling, 54, has spoken and written extensively against the widely held scientific view that the documented rise in global temperatures is the result of human activity and that serious consequences will result. Even if humans are warming the planet by causing the buildup of greenhouse gases, he says, the doomsday scenarios forecast by many climate scientists may never happen. His views have elicited outrage from environmentalists and scorn from some fellow scientists.

They've also resulted in conference invitations and research grants from industries with a stake in debunking the large body of research that supports a link between human activity and global warming.

Despite his notoriety as a hero of the skeptic crowd, Balling's research and lifestyle contain some surprising contradictions. He is in charge of climate studies at the Decision Center for a Desert City, an ambitious ASU program that looks at how drought will affect the Valley. He's a registered independent and lives a lifestyle that the hardiest environmental activist would recognize as green.

His outspoken views and the criticism they get have put ASU in an awkward position as it tries to shape itself as a leader in climate-change studies, ASU officials said.

Balling seems bemused by his reputation among activists. "Somehow I've been branded this horrible person who belongs in the depths of hell," he said. "There's just no tolerance right now."

The critic gets criticized

For most of his career at ASU, Balling's work focused on climate issues such as the urban-heat-island effect, drought and desertification - many of the same themes now viewed as possible consequences of climate change. He was head of ASU's Office of Climatology for 16 years. In 1992, he wrote a book called The Heated Debate. The book assailed several aspects of mainstream climate science. Talk-show host Rush Limbaugh began quoting the book. Sales took off. An invitation to address the directors of a coal company followed. His reputation as a global-warming skeptic was made.

Balling has been booed at public appearances. A fellow climatologist publicly dismissed his widely circulated critique of An Inconvenient Truth with the observation that "some people believe the Earth is flat, too." In May, Vanity Fair magazine published a cartoon labeled "Dante's Inferno: Green Edition." Balling was in the eighth circle of hell.

The National Academy of Sciences, NASA and a host of scientific academies have endorsed the conclusion that global temperatures are rising and that warming is likely the result of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity.

"It is fair to say that it is not absolutely certain that the warming we have observed so far is largely due to human activity, but (it) is very likely. And it is virtually certain that continued rises in greenhouse gases will lead to significantly more warming," wrote Eric Steig, a professor at the University of Washington, in an e-mail.

Balling's research over the years has explored sun activity, pollution from volcanoes, the urban-heat-island effect and errors in past temperature models as possible causes of rising temperatures. His positions have modified over time. Today, he says that about half the warming recorded since 1975 can be attributed to greenhouse gases.

Research questioned

Critics have assailed Balling's ties to industries. Balling received more than $679,000 in research funding from fossil-fuel-industry organizations between 1989 and 2002, according to figures provided by ASU. He served as a scientific adviser to the Greening Earth Society, a public-relations organization founded by the Western Fuels Association to promote the benefits of global warming.

It's no secret that scientists ask for funding from sources that seem more likely to provide it, Balling said. "If I send a proposal to Exxon, I might send a proposal that (describes the research) and also says, 'Oh, by the way, based on our preliminary results, we don't see the warming that should be there,' " he said.

The source of his funding doesn't affect his results, he said. Studies have to be peer-reviewed and go through a rigorous independent vetting process before they are published. He has been widely published in scientific journals on climate topics and has received more than $7 million in grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Scientists in many fields accept industry funding for their work, particularly as federal research budgets have been slashed. But critics say funding can color the outcome of research. Several studies have found that research funded by a particular industry usually yields results that reflect favorably on the industry, said Merrill Goozner, director of the Integrity in Science Project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group. "The scientific process can be affected by the attitude of the researcher," Goozner said. [But not if they are Greenies, of course]

On the fringe

Since 2002, Balling has been director of ASU's master's degree program in geographic information systems. But his climate work has garnered the most national attention, which bothers some colleagues at ASU. "For ASU, having Balling as such a prominent figure in the climate debate has been awkward, not so much because of his positions but because we have lacked scientists of similar stature whose work supports more widely held, opposing views," Jonathan Fink, director of ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability, wrote in an e-mail. "Hence we have been viewed as somewhat of a fringe institution in the world of climate-change research."

Despite his national reputation as skeptic, Balling said he considers himself an environmentalist. If there was a competition for living green, "put the cards on the table, and I'll beat 99 percent of the faculty here," Balling said. He avoids driving and doesn't own a cellphone. He would even have liked to see Al Gore win the presidency in 2000.

Warming is happening, he said, and human activity may play a role. But he believes engineering will find ways to accommodate any environmental changes that result. In the meantime, he's not worrying about melting ice caps or rising sea levels. "In my lifetime, this global-warming issue might fade away," he said. Then, he chuckled, adding, "It's easy to say that. I don't live on an island."


Stupidity in France

But maybe it is just a charade. French corruption makes it hard to tell

Another story from last week that was difficult to get a handle on, because too much was written about it, was the so-called "Grenelle Agreement on the Environment", initiated amidst much hype by the planet's second best friend, Nicolas Sarkozy. The conference, which opened on October 24, was attended by the planet's first best friend Al Gore and by hundreds of other people of whom I know very little.

The purpose of the talks was to set goals for France in the general field of ecology and environment, goals which, if implemented, would no doubt cost the French taxpayer much more money than if they were just left on paper to be discussed at some future date, like 3050.

Grenelle was the culmination of three months of intense debates, conducted primarily by the Minister of Ecology, Jean-Louis Borloo and his staff along with ecologists, union leaders and businessmen, on a variety of issues. It closed on October 26 with a long list of proposals clearly designed to make groups like Greenpeace happy. The following are some of the highlights of the goals arrived at by the conference, as reported by Le Monde.

In public buildings and new housing, lower consumption of energy is to become generalized, while heating systems of existing housing and buildings is to be renovated. The State commits to completing this renovation in five years.

Plans to increase highway and airport capacity are to be halted, except for cases of "security or local interest".

Two thousand km of new railways and ship routes are to be constructed.

The consumption of motor-fuels and the CO2 emissions from airplanes is to be reduced by half by the year 2020.

Implementation in 2008 of a new "eco-tax", called "eco-pastille", where a person who purchases a gas-guzzler will be forced to pay a special tax, and a person who purchases an ecologically correct car will be rewarded (with the tax money received from the first person).

(Is this crazy or what?)

Another eco-tax on tractor-trailers on roads other than highways.

The possibility of a system of urban tolls.

An examination of the possibility of a "carbon tax", i.e. a tax based on the energy consumption of goods and services.

Banning incandescent light bulbs by 2010.

Development of renewable energies in order that they surpass 20% of the energy consumption by 2020.

A ban on the sale of pesticides or building and decorating materials that are said to contain "extremely troubling" substances.

A compulsory declaration of the presence of nanomaterials in consumer products.

A plan to regulate air quality by establishing the threshold of 15 mg/m3 of fine particles, by 2015.

A plan to triple the extent of organic farming, to attain 6% of the arable land by 2010, and the introduction of one organic meal per week in the school cafeterias.

A freeze on GMO products until a conclusion by an independent team of experts can be reached.

Creation of a green network linking natural spaces that would have legal precedence over any new plan for development.

There has been much criticism of this new plan. Gerard Pince of the Blue Revolution has an excellent critique posted at his website.

He begins with a refutation of global warming as a scientific fact, and then points to the incoherence of a government that claims it wants to increase growth only to proceed to a grandiose plan for growth reduction. He explains that France represents 0.9% of the world's population, and that it would be absurd to think that these measures would have any impact on the planet. The impact, he notes, would be the negative effects on the French economy He closes with this speculation:

In truth, I hope that Nicolas Sarkozy does not keep any of his promises. By organizing this masquerade he wanted, no doubt, to neutralize the activism of hostile groups hoping to oppose him in the upcoming municipal elections. Indeed, one of his measures envisages the naming of a greater number of ecologists to the Economic and Social Council: there is nothing like a political reward for calming down those who are most riled up. Furthermore, I presume that the guardian angels will distribute a few suitcases of banknotes to help ease the ecological relations. At bottom, in this area as in the others, the government buys social peace through widespread material and moral corruption.

It's a method that works. It works until the day when those who received nothing revolt en masse. That is the usual way a banana republic meets its end.

Note: The choice of the word "Grenelle" is interesting. Most readers are aware that in 1968 France was shaken by a major rebellion of students and workers. These were the famous events of May '68 that led to the gradual disintegration of traditional institutions. In order to appease the rebels, the government held talks at the ministry of labor, located on rue de Grenelle. The talks came to be called the Grenelle Agreement, and among other things, granted a 25% increase in the minimum wage.

"Grenelle" has come to refer to the notion of an accord in general, but it is impossible for many Frenchmen not to recall May '68 and its disastrous aftermath whenever the word is uttered.



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


12 November, 2007

What is Wrong with the IPCC?

by Hans Labohm

Summary for Policy Makers

In the international discussion about climate change, which is now going on for almost twenty years, the IPCC has played a questionable role. From its inception, is has almost exclusively focused on the AGW hypothesis, while systematically ignoring alternative hypotheses.

Some main points of criticism of the IPCC include:

- The hypothesis that an increased CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will lead to a rise in temperature has not been proven and is even at odds with the observations.

- Satellite-based temperature measurements show that the earth has warmed a few tenths of a degree Celsius between 1979 and 1998. It is not likely that this is caused by mankind.

- There is still a lack of scientific understanding, required to model all assumed radiative forcings. The most important one, for which there are not sufficient quantitative data to date, is the variable impact of clouds.

- Climate models, which are being used to achieve a better understanding of the climate system, are not suited to serve as basis for predictions. This is, inter alia, related to the stochastic nature of climate.

- The global climate is very much determined by extra-terrestrial phenomena, of which the fluctuation of sun activity is the most important.

- Should there still be global warming in the future, for which there are only model-based indications, then mankind will not be able to do something about it. Moreover, also according the IPCC, a modest additional warming (e.g., of 2 degrees Celsius) will on balance be beneficial for mankind.

- The IPCC has ignored the climate projections of astrophysicists, which suggest global cooling.

The advent of climate alarmism, fuelled by statements of many prominent politicians and the media, has no scientific justification. Many catastrophic consequences of climate change, such as floods and extreme weather events, have been predicted, which are not based on scientific knowledge. Especially the European governments have opted for a climate policy which is completely unrealistic and results in a massive waste of scarce resources.

Finally, one should not discount the possibility that the average global temperature will fall considerably in the near future. This might have harmful implications, as opposed to a modest rise of temperatures, which on balance will have positive effects.

Part 1

IPCC stands for Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It is a kind of network/think tank, which operates under the aegis of the UN. It consists of thousands of scientists, many of them climatologists. Once every five years or so, it takes stock of the peer-reviewed scientific literature on climate change. It publishes its findings in a series of comprehensive reports, which serve as the scientific underpinning for policy measures, including the Kyoto Protocol, to counter the `threat' of man-made global warming.

The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Its mission is: `to assess the scientific, technical, and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change.'

Various authors have pointed out that the mandate of the IPCC is too narrow and not purely scientific, since its wording presupposes that there is such a thing as man-made global warming (often referred to as AGW: Anthropogenic Global Warming), which excludes other explanations for the (modest) warming which has taken place over the last century. But at the time, AGW had not been proven - and since then the situation has not changed. However, a prominent Netherlands participant in the IPCC has recently stated that today the IPCC is interpreting its mandate more comprehensively and does also take alternative explanations into consideration. But climate sceptics are not convinced that this is the case.

Yet, the IPCC is generally believed to be the single most authoritative body in the field of climate science and its reports serve as scientific basis for climate policies of governments, which have profound implications for society. As such the panel occupies a monopoly position.

AGW proponents often claim that there is a consensus among scientists about man-made global warming. However, this is contradicted by the facts. A recent opinion poll among 133 German climatologists, by Hans Kepplinger und Senja Post, revealed that 37% of climate researchers adhere tot the AGW hypothesis, whereas 36% remain sceptical. The rest occupies an intermediate position. It is likely that in other countries the outcome would not have been substantially different. By no stretch of imagination this can be construed as a pro AGW consensus.

Nevertheless, opinions which deviate from those of the IPCC are more often than not ignored by politics, even if they come from prominent scientists, who are attached to the most prestigious universities and/or scientific institutions in the world. Apparently politics considers that it can do without a second opinion.

From a technical and logistical point of view, the IPCC is a well-oiled piece of machinery. It displays an exemplary degree of professionalism. Time and again it succeeds to produce reports which comprise thousands of pages. Both AGW adherents and climate sceptics use these reports as standard reference literature.

One of the Netherlands participants of the IPCC has even qualified the IPCC process as 'a triumph of worldwide interdisciplinary and intergovernmental cooperation.'

But outside the official circles there are also opposing views about the IPCC. At the other extreme there is the judgment of Lord Nigel Lawson, former chancellor of the exchequer of the United Kingdom. He told a Washington committee that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change `is so flawed, and the institution ... so closed to reason, that it would be far better to thank it for the work it has done, close it down, and transfer all future international collaboration on the issue of climate change to other world institutions with a better focus on economics.'

This rather strong statement was preceded by some failed attempts to communicate with representatives of the IPCC about the conclusions of an inquiry, published in July 2005, by the Economic Affairs Committee, one of four permanent committees of the House of Lords, on the economics of climate change. This report had been approved by all political parties. But discussions about the outcome of the inquiry with the IPCC stranded in a dialogue des sourds. Moreover, in the latest Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the IPCC, no reference had been made to the results of the inquiry. The Lords were not amused. They were not accustomed to such a treatment. It is also remarkable that the British government has so far dismissed the inquiry of the House of Lords.

Much more here

Why the IPCC should be disbanded

by John McLean


The common perception of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is tone of an impartial organisation that thoroughly reviews the state of climate science and produces reports which are clear, accurate, comprehensive, well substantiated and without bias. One only needs examine some of its procedural documents, its reports and its dealings with reviewers of the report drafts to discover how wrong this impression is.

The IPCC is not and never has been an organisation that examines all aspects of climate change in a neutral and impartial manner. Its internal procedures reinforce that bias; it makes no attempts to clarify its misleading and ambiguous statements. It is very selective about the material included in its reports; its fundamental claims lack evidence. And most importantly, its actions have skewed the entire field of climate science. Over the last 20 years and despite its dominance and manipulation of climate science, the IPCC has failed to provide concrete evidence of a significant human influence on climate. It's time to call a halt to its activities and here are ten reasons for doing so.

1. The IPCC charter emphasises a human influence on climate, not climate in general

The role of the IPCC is defined in item 2 of its document "Principles Governing IPCC Work", (online at The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

This extract makes it clear that the name "Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change" is something of a misnomer because the organisation is specifically directed to investigate any human influence on climate. In this context the term "climate change" is analogous to the definition used by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that is "climate change caused by human activity".

The various IPCC reports demonstrate this emphasis on a human influence by their chapter titles and sequence. In the First Assessment Report (1990) the first seven chapters discussed greenhouse gases, aerosols, climate modelling and "greenhouse gas-induced climate change" before chapter 7 had anything to say about climate observations and chapter 8 looked for greenhouse effects in those observations.

The Second Assessment Report (1995) reorganised the chapters but opened with an overview that stressed the greenhouse effect followed by a chapter on radiative forcing, which is how the greenhouse effect operates, prior to a chapter dealing with observations.

In the Third Assessment Report (2001) the chapters were again reorganised with the observations moved to chapter 2, following the overview in chapter 1, and the radiative forcing to chapter 6. In what appears to be a momentary lapse, chapter 1 admitted that the changes in temperature did not necessarily mean that a human influence on climate had been identified and that the changes may be natural.

The acknowledgement of other possible factors did not last long because the Fourth Assessment Report (2007) reorganised its chapters so that chapter 1 contained an overview and chapter 2 discussed changes in atmospheric components and radiative forcing (i.e. greenhouse gas emissions) prior to three chapters dealing with observations.

With each assessment report we've seen discussion of greenhouse effects preceding a discussion about observations. We've also seen each report increasing the probability of a human influence in climate but the quality of evidence to support this claim has scarcely improved so it looks like the IPCC is trying to justify its own existence.

It would be unfair to criticise the IPCC for following the terms of its charter but one can criticise it for failing to clearly enunciate that charter. This situation has encouraged the perception that the IPCC is independent and the ultimate authority on all climate science, but it is intent on selling the notion of a man-made influence on climate in order to justify its own existence. To put it simply, if it was shown that there is no significant human influence on climate there would be reason for having the IPCC.

2. Its participants are not impartial towards a possible human influence on climate

Items 8 and 9 of the above-mentioned document set out the procedures for participation in IPCC work. 8. Invitations to participate in the sessions of the Panel and its Working Groups, Task Forces and IPCC workshops shall be extended to Governments and other bodies by the Chairman of the IPCC. 9. Experts from WMO/UNEP Member countries or international, intergovernmental or nongovernmental organisations may be invited in their own right to contribute to the work of the IPCC Working Groups and Task Forces. Governments should be informed in advance of invitations extended to experts from their countries and they may nominate additional experts.

For this extract we can see that governments can appoint participants to the IPCC but also that those who already work with the IPCC can invite experts to join various working groups and task forces.

Consider this from the origins of the IPCC in 1998 and a troubling picture quickly emerges. At that time the various governments would have appointed to the new organisation scientists or researchers with a strong interest in the question of a human influence on climate. Once appointed to the IPCC such people would, in accordance with the defined procedures, have directly invited other like-minded individuals to also participate.

More than just being a wonderful way to create a lobby group, this procedure created a strongly self-selecting assembly of people with a vested interest. Doubtless it included those who had undertaken research into the area, published papers on the subject and in general developed a reputation around the hypothesis of human-induced climate change. The potential to enhance the general acceptance of that hypothesis and incidentally to develop one's reputation by being part of IPCC processes was obvious from the outset.

Although some individuals appointed to the IPCC were probably sceptical of the extent of any human influence on climate, the very nature of the organisation's charter and its procedures indicates that such minority viewpoints would be quickly marginalized by the dominance of participants aligned to a "human cause".

3. The IPCC promotes a self-sustaining hypothesis of man-made warming

Over time the IPCC reports have progressively expressed more certainty that humans have significantly influenced climate. A key plank for this increased certainty is the number of scientific papers that are claimed to support this contention. This is nothing more than a self-sustaining hypothesis promulgated by the IPCC.

Here's how it works. When an IPCC report expresses confidence in a human influence on climate governments direct research funding into projects that will investigate aspects of this claim. The research produces scientific papers that support the argument. Like-minded experts, probably involved in similar research, review those papers on behalf of journals that subsequently publish the papers. The dominance of papers on those themes enables the IPCC to say that the number of papers supporting the particular line of argument is strong evidence for the claim.

With the dominance of the IPCC's opinions on the governments, which after all fund it and provide both scientists and policy architects, large amounts of public money are directed towards research projects that assume a human influence on climate and little or no funding flows to projects that take a more critical line.

Researchers are not foolish, and they have learned to word their research proposals in a manner that endorses or assumes a human impact on climate. And they have learned to make similar assertions in their scientific papers even if they have very little evidence for such claims. This artful wording of course helps the researcher obtain funding but it also works to the IPCC's advantage because the result will be an increase in the number of papers that endorse a certain viewpoint.

One reviewer's comments to the first order draft of the Working Group I report referred to this matter by suggesting that governments and other institutions be recognised for their support of climate research. This was rejected with the comment "The LAs [lead authors] have been sensitive to avoid the appearance of special pleading for research funding." But indirectly this is exactly what the IPCC reports do - highlight a certain issue and, by virtue of the esteem of this biased organisation, complaisant governments are only too willing to fund research into that area. The IPCC then claims that the predominance of papers that discuss and support a certain view is evidence that the notions are correct. It's a self-sustaining practice that also marginalizes investigations into natural drivers of climate by starving them of funds and exposure.

4. The IPCC's misuse of the concept of consensus

The IPCC misuses the concept of a consensus to provide misleading and false impressions. The document defining the IPCC's principles also says: 10. In taking decisions, and approving, adopting and accepting reports, the Panel, its Working Groups and any Task Forces shall use all best endeavours to reach consensus.... Differing views on matters of a scientific, technical or socio-economic nature shall, as appropriate in the context, be represented in the scientific, technical or socio-economic document concerned....

In other words the IPCC's formal acceptance of a document or report will be determined by consensus among its members. This is entirely reasonable because a consensus is a decision-making tool for groups of people working in administrative or advisory roles (e.g. committees, juries in court cases, politicians, and assemblies in general).

It is a fundamental principle of science that support for a hypothesis means nothing because everything depends on whether the hypothesis can be proved wrong. Settling an unresolved scientific matter is normally done by trying to break various hypotheses and continuing until one is found that cannot be broken, at which point the hypothesis is provisionally accepted.

These matters are not settled by consensus but by dogged testing. Science and its near neighbour medicine are replete with examples of maverick individuals rejecting the consensus of the day and proposing new theories that subsequently proved to be correct. This is not to say that the mavericks are always right but it does illustrate that consensus does not confer "truth" on a scientific theory.

The IPCC's assessment reports are basically a literature survey of the current state of climate science. In the creation of these reports it is desirable that the length of the report be reasonable and therefore that a consensus be reached about the material to be included but if no consensus is possible then the range of differing opinions should be presented.

But whose opinions are we talking about? Is it the authors and review editors who seek to establish a consensus among themselves or is it a wider consensus among climate scientists?

If it is the latter then the review editors of the IPPC WG I report are in contravention of the defined procedures when they reject a reviewer's comments with statements like "More papers reject your claim than support it". If it is the former then seems that the IPCC is interpreting a consensus about the text of a report as somehow determining the truth of a certain statement.

In a similar fashion the IPCC often defends the content of its reports by claiming that it is the consensus of expert reviewers or other scientists. Such a consensus is merely a collection of opinions, not a statement of a truth or unassailable scientific fact

The IPCC seems unable or unwilling to accept the limitations of the use of a consensus as a decision-making tool. It's either that or the IPCC is really geared towards consensus-based political decisions and the science is a minor issue.

Much more here

Don't Look to Government to Cool Down the Planet

by John Stossel

Recently on "20/20," I said "give me a break" to Al Gore for claiming that the global-warming debate is over and suggesting that all dissenters were in it for the money. I interviewed independent scientists who say Gore is wrong.

Some people were relieved to finally hear the other side: "Thank you, thank you, thank you for your report on climate change. . I'm sick of hearing 'the debate's over' and writing anyone who differs off as a nut. This report showed the true nature of the debate and true lack of consensus, something you can't get anywhere else."

Others were just mad: "Your 20/20 report on Global Warning made me sick. ... Your sarcastic ridiculing of Al Gore . I have lost all respect for you and your reporting."

Yes, the globe has warmed, but whether severe warming is imminent and whether human beings are causing it in large degree are empirical questions that can't be answered ideologically. The media may scream that "the science is in" and the "debate is over," but in fact it continues vigorously, with credentialed climate scientists on both side of the divide. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may present a "consensus view of scientists," but the "consensus" is not without dissent.

"Consensus is the stuff of politics, not science," says Paul Reiter of the Pasteur Institute. The scientific process ought to be left to play itself out with as little political bias as possible. Politically influenced research is poison to science.

Part of the problem is the IPCC itself. Reiter points out, "It's the inter-governmental panel on climate change. It's governments who nominate people. It's inherently political. Many of the scientists are on the IPCC because they view global warming as a problem that needs to be fixed. They have a vested interest."

Phillip Stott, professor of biogeography at the University of London, says that the global warming debate has become the new "grand narrative" of the environmental movement. "It's something for people to get excited about and protest. It's more about emotion than science." While the scientists thrash things out, what are the rest of us to do?

There are good reasons to begin with a presumption against government action. As coercive monopolies that spend other people's money taken by force, governments are uniquely unqualified to solve problems. They are riddled by ignorance, perverse incentives, incompetence and self-serving. The synthetic-fuels program during the Carter years consumed billions of dollars and was finally disbanded as a failure. The push for ethanol today is more driven by special interests than good sense -- it's boosting food prices while producing a fuel of dubious environmental quality.

Even if the climate really needs cooling down, government can't be counted on to accomplish that. Advocates of carbon taxes and emissions trading talk about reducing CO2, but they promise no more than a minuscule reduction in temperature. Temperature reduction is supposed to be the objective.

In fact, even drastic plans to cut the use of carbon-based energy would make only a negligible difference. As John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a member of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, wrote last week in The Wall Street Journal. "Suppose you are very serious about making a dent in carbon emissions and could replace about 10 percent of the world's energy sources with non-CO2-emitting nuclear power by 2020 -- roughly equivalent to halving U.S. emissions. Based on IPCC-like projections, the required 1,000 new nuclear power plants would slow the warming by about 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit per century. It's a dent."

I agree with Stott, who says, "The right approach to climate change is adaptation -- and the way to do that is to have strong economies." We will have a strong economy if we don't give up our freedom and our money to fulfill the grand schemes of big-government alarmists.


Fifteen myths about Britain's housing crisis

Government slothfulness, combined with the green lobby's snobbery towards the masses and their 'ugly houses', is the cause of Britain's shocking homes shortfall

Too few new homes are being built in Britain to meet a combination of rising demand and the need to replace crumbling existing housing stock. The consequences are astronomical house prices and a generation struggling to afford any kind of a home. Anti-development campaigners and government policy are holding back the house-building programme so desperately needed. Here, James Heartfield, author of Let's Build! Why We Need Five Million New Homes in the Next 10 Years, tackles the many myths about Britain's housing crisis.

1) The government is concreting over the countryside

When polled, people think that around one half of Britain is built up, one half countryside (1). That number is wildly off-target. The real number is one-tenth built up, nine-tenths not. There is no threat to the countryside. Just imagine for one moment, you could double - yes double - the number of homes in Britain, and still the countryside would cover four times as much land as the towns and cities. Of course, there is no need to double the number of homes. I estimate that we need another five million, which is to say about 20 to 25 per cent more homes than we have now. In fact, less than one per cent of land goes to homes every 50 years (2).

2) The `green belt' is being worn away

Between 1979 and 1993, the green belt - the undeveloped area surrounding cities - doubled in size. Since 1997 it has grown by 64,000 acres. Today, the green belt covers around 13 per cent of England. Far from shrinking, the land area that is protected, including green belts, national forests, areas of special scientific interest and so on, is expanding decade by decade as more and more farmland is retired from use. If just a small proportion of this land were earmarked for development, then we could have enough homes for everyone.

3) Britain is overcrowded

There are more people per acre in Britain than in America, Africa and Australia, but less than in Holland or Belgium. Britain, though, is by no means overcrowded. Its cities are getting a little denser than they used to be, because of the policy that stops us building new homes in the countryside. In absolute terms, we have plenty of space. What people generally mean when they say that Britain is overcrowded is that they feel distaste towards the kind of people they see around them.

4) Too many homes are being built

The number of homes being built is at an historic low - its lowest since the Second World War. The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) disputes this fact, saying that more have been built since construction reached its absolute lowest in 2001. But the small increase in new homes being built still leaves us way below the levels of previous decades. House completions in the UK have fallen from over 400,000 per year in the late Sixties to well under 200,000 per year in the current decade. It is not enough.

5) More homes are being built, now that the government has acted

Top-down hectoring did whip up some new building, but this small increase has not been maintained. In the year to June, completions were only up by two per cent, but more alarmingly, new starts are down by eight per cent (3). The trouble with the government proposals in this area is that they generally create more barriers to development, even when they say they are liberalising.

6) Enough homes are being built

Almost every report gets this wrong, because they fail to take into account the fact that houses have to come down, as well as being built. It is no good counting the new builds and thinking that they are a running total. Over time, even the best-built homes must come down. The CPRE assumes that in England, with a housing stock of 21million, just one million homes will be demolished every 40 years. At that rate, it would take 840 years to replace Britain's housing stock. Does anyone really believe that all the houses built today will stand for 840 years? (4) It would be more realistic to assume that houses would stand for 100 years, in which case in England alone we need to build 210,000 homes just to replace the existing stock, before considering the additional demand. In fact, completions in England have not been higher than 167,000 in the past 10 years.

7) We can build houses to last

The CPRE says it does not matter that Britain's housing stock is the oldest in Europe: it just reflects the fact that Britain industrialised earlier. But the reason that Britain's housing stock is ageing is because it is not being replaced. We are sweating dilapidated housing. Not demolishing older homes is the way that the shortfall in new homes being built is absorbed. But every year that we fail to build enough houses to retire the old ones, the housing stock gets more run down, damp and dangerous.

8) We don't need any more homes

Instead of predict-and-supply, say greens like Mark Lynas, we need to restrict the demand on new homes. `Addressing this doesn't mean forced sterilisations or a Chinese-style, one-child policy', writes Lynas, having clearly thought about `Plan B', `but it does mean giving incentives for people to have smaller families and addressing rising levels of immigration' (5). Well, Lynas might want to join the anti-immigrant British National Party, but there is no need to. There is plenty of land to build on, without making a dent in the countryside, and there are plenty of people to do the building. The only barrier is the one that his friends in the CPRE lobbied to have put in place, the green belt.

9) We can build our new homes on `brownfield' land

Under the advice of Richard Rogers' Urban Taskforce, the government committed itself to building most homes on land that has already been developed and is now derelict, `brownfield' as opposed to `greenfield' development. Now, in London and other major cities, homes are being crammed into every available space that falls vacant. The BBC reports `garden grabbing': `a rash of flats and new houses replacing gardens in high-price areas.' (6) Shame-faced at their own role in this reinvention of Victorian overcrowding, the CPRE has amended its support for `brownfield development', but still thinks this can be done without overcrowding (7).

10) Urban regeneration is the answer

Britain is overwhelmingly a suburban country. Most people live in the suburbs. The mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, supports those campaigning to save the countryside from sprawl. That is because he wants to keep London densely populated to increase both his political and revenue base. To achieve that he has forced through lots of gardenless, dormitory-style flats, some unfortunately signposted as `key-worker housing'. And though newer immigrants naturally need to keep close to job prospects, Livingstone cannot prevent the `counter-urban cascade' of people leaving London for the suburbs. While five per cent of England's population live in rural areas and nine per cent live in the `urban core', 43 per cent live in the suburbs and another 23 per cent live in suburban/urban areas.

11) More social housing is the answer

A few people have looked at the shortfall in new homes and concluded that the decline is due to less council housing. That is not quite true. In the mid-Eighties, the private sector took up the slack, and in the Sixties, both boomed. It should not matter whether homes are public sector or private, but there is good reason to distrust the call for more social housing. Those who call for more council housing do so because they want to keep control over people, and do not trust them to make their own choices about where to buy. The green lobby supports council housing in the same way that the gentry supported almshouses for the poor - to keep them securely locked up, away from the toffs' country houses.

12) New homes are ugly

Even very intelligent people fall for this line. Considering just how big Cultural Studies is in our universities, you might have thought that somebody would have learned its basic lesson: most so-called aesthetic judgements are nothing but class snobbery dressed up as `taste'. Nearly every single house in Britain is a box. Much-prized Georgian terraces are boxes. Anti-growth campaigners like to show slides of urban developments from the skies, to make us all look like ants - but who lives in the skies? When people say that new homes are ugly, what they mean, but cannot bring themselves to say, is that they think of the people in them as being ugly.

13) Ireland's new homes are especially ugly

Ireland's recent building boom is often cited as an example of what can go wrong. Those Irishmen's homes are ugly, people say. What they mean is: `Wasn't it cute when the Irish lived in little cottages with peat roofs, instead of those hateful McMansions?' Why don't they knock on a door and tell the person inside that his house is ugly, and see how they get on?

14) The CPRE campaigns to protect rural England

In a radio debate, Shaun Spiers of the CPRE challenged me. Surely, he asked, I would not want to see the New Forest developed? The New Forest was once thickly developed with Saxon homes, until William the Conqueror burnt them out, demanding the New Forest for his deer park. The wide-open spaces of the British countryside are the barren desert left after our forebears were ethnically cleansed from the land by the aristocracy. It is the aristocracy that still takes most of the seats on the CPRE council. The real purpose of the CPRE is to put limits on people's aspirations, a function they see in the planning laws: a core function of the planning system is to serve the long-term public interest by preventing the fulfilment of our wants as individuals (8).

15) We need to look after the environment

Of course we do, but the CPRE and other green campaigners have forgotten who the environment is for. They look after empty spaces, beetles and rare birds, but treat people as cattle to be herded into overcrowded sheds. The British countryside is not under threat, but housebuilding is. The grotesque shortage of homes for people to live in shows what happens when you leave the greens in charge of just one area of policymaking. Imagine what would happen if they were allowed to have their way with energy, food, transport and medicine.


GM paranoia is hurting Australian farmers

This week academics at the University of Melbourne released news of the latest victory in the environmental movement's war on Australia. The ban on growing genetically modified canola is costing our struggling farmers a whopping $157 million a year. No green group has yet claimed credit for this triumph of economic terrorism, but no doubt one will soon. On its website, Greenpeace lists among its main achievements the decision by five states to impose moratoriums on the commercial release of the first proposed GM crop. The greens applied pressure on the states after both Australia's independent regulators, Food Standards Australia New Zealand and the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator, approved the general release of two types of GM canola in 2003.

This is a hot issue because most states are reviewing the bans, due to expire next year. It matters more generally because canola was the first big battleground in the public debate here over the acceptability of genetically modified foods.

The errors and misconceptions the green activists were able to lodge in our minds then have influenced our attitudes to this new frontier of science ever since. Basically, Australians remain pessimistic while other countries have moved on and are reaping the benefits, and not just from canola. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics has estimated that we stand to lose $5.8 billion in a decade if we don't access all new GM crop varieties. (Mind you, we are not always consistent. Most of the cotton grown in Australia is genetically modified. We hear no complaints from the greens about this. A cynic might say this is because if it wasn't modified it would require a lot more water and pesticides to grow. But the same applies to GM canola.)

Professor Rick Roush and Dr Robert Norton from the Faculty of Land and Food Resources at the University of Melbourne have looked at more than 20 recent reports on GM canola in Australia. They have compared this with the situation in other countries that have not banned GM canola, particularly Canada. A comparison of the experiences of Australia and Canada enables us to review the claims against GM canola made by the greens.

Let's start with the economics. The greens have sometimes argued that Australia, far from benefitting, would lose financially by growing GM canola, because foreign markets would gradually shut out not just GM canola but all canola from countries that grew the GM strains. In fact, just the opposite has happened internationally. More markets have now opened up to GM canola. The biggest is the European Union, which has approved the importation of GM canola grain and oil. As a result of this market expansion, Canada's canola production has increased by 40 per cent since 1996. It has been able to do this in part because GM strains are more productive. Canada's average yields have increased by 40 per cent over the past decade. In Australia, they've gone into reverse, declining by 10 per cent. Because of this and the drought, last year Australia actually imported a large quantity of Canadian GM canola.

This failure in the greens' economic predictions should not surprise us. In the past decade, as green spokesmen took to cutting their hair and wearing suits, they also began to argue their case on financial as well as environmental grounds. It was part of the appeal for respectability. But where it has been possible to test green economics, it has often been found wanting.

Perhaps the most persistent example of this has been in relation to the timber industry. Whenever Bob Carr created a new national park and destroyed yet another small town's economic basis, there was a claim from some city-based green group that the local folk would gain far more from "green tourism" than they lost from the closure of their timber mill. This proved to be fantasy.

Of course, it's not just a question of economics. Over the years green activists have presented a wide range of arguments against GM canola. But their basic position is one of faith: they are fundamentalists. On its website Greenpeace announces it is "opposed to the patenting of life". It is not clear whether this opposition is based on disapproval of capitalism or science or both, but as a general statement it leaves little if any room for debate.

A more positive view of genetic modification is that it's the latest stage in several thousand years' efforts by humans to improve crops. One of the great achievements of the past half-century has been the boom in agricultural productivity. Those who've benefited most have been the world's poor. If further improvements mean "patenting life", so what?

A perverse result of the successful green opposition to GM canola is the harm it has done to the environment. As Roush and Norton explain in their paper, growing the current types of (non-GM) canola requires large amounts of herbicides that stay active in the soil for considerable periods and can be aquatic pollutants. In contrast, GM canola would do far less damage. The Canadian experience shows that GM canola is good for the economy, and good for the environment. Indeed, Canada is planning a 70 per cent expansion of its crop by 2015. Buckling to green propaganda in 2003 was a major failure of leadership by Australia's premiers. Let's hope they reverse that decision next year.



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


11 November, 2007

A self-confessed Greenie liar

Post below lifted from Blue Crab. See the original for links. Amusing that Science magazine, Nature and Reuters all thought the hoax was genuine, at least initially.

Thanks to alert reader Cedric, we now have a confession from David Thorpe that he was , indeed, the person who intentionally put up the fraudulent GEOCLIMATICSTUDIES.INFO website, that he did so with the intent of trying to discredit people he disagrees with and one other very, very important thing for the media to remember. He lies to reporters. Intentionally and directly to their faces.
It's been a busy time. I published a spoof website in an effort to smoke out some climate change sceptics - not genuine ones, but ones who are highly vocal and yet do not understand the science. It consisted of a fake scientific journal, the Journal of Geoclimatic Studies, and a fake editorial and paper, aiming to 'prove' that global warming was caused by bacteria, not humans. It launched Wed. night and achieved notoriety within hours. I was beseiged with calls from Science magazine, Nature and Reuters. Several people were fooled but not for long as it was pretty easy to spot the spoof nature of it - all the names were made up.
From yesterday's Reuters story:
“We’re just the website design company,” said David Thorpe at Cyberium in Wales, listed as the administrator of the site. “I don’t know anything about the content. We were just asked to put the website up.”
He says someone else wrote the copy - but his brag on the linked post proves that he knew precisely what he was publishing and why. The one thing that (at least used to be) unforgivable by a reporter was to be intentionally lied to. Alister Doyle, the Reuters reporter should be furious right now. The fraudulent website has been taken down by the hosting company (TOS violation?). James Lewis was precisely right in calling it a black ops job.

Climate skepticism growing in Europe

Climate scepticism has now gained a firm foothold in various European countries. In Denmark Bjorn Lomborg stands out as the single most important sceptical environmental-ist, defying the political correctness which is such a characteristic feature of his home country, as well as other Nordic countries. But wait! Bjorn Lomborg is not a genuine climate sceptic. Real climate sceptics admire his courage, his scientific rigour and debating skills, but beg to disagree with him on the fundamentals of climate science. Lomborg acknowledges that there is such a thing as man-made global warming, which is quite in line with the mantra of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). He 'only' challenges the cost benefit relationships of the policy measures, which have been proposed to do something about it. Massive expenditures (often euphemistically called 'investments') in exchange for undetectable returns.

Real climate sceptics do not accept the man-made global warming hypothesis. They are of the opinion that the human contribution to global warming over the last century or so is at most insignificant. But, of course, they are happy with the arguments advanced by Bjorn Lomborg to bolster their case against climate hysteria.

In Germany EIKE (Europaeisches Institut fuer Klima und Energie, Jena: has been established - still in its infancy, but nevertheless. Moreover, a group of German climate sceptics has written something which could be called a consensus among many climate sceptics: Climate Manifest of Heiligenroth (See: Furthermore there are many climate sceptical websites in Germany. For those who like visual thrills and possess a basic command of the German language, Konrad Fischer's website might be fun: 'Videos and films concerning the greenhouse swindle and climate terror' (

But the AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) belief is still overwhelming in Germany. In newspapers and on TV, Stefan Rahmstorf, the German climate Torquemada, -- comparable to Al Gore in the US, George Monbiot in the UK and David Suzuki in Canada -- are constantly attacking critics of the AGW hypothesis. Contrary to good scientific practice, he lavishly lards his interventions with ad hominem attacks and insinuations that his opponents lack qualifications and/or are being paid by industry. Although decades of pro AGW indoctrination has left its mark on the German psyche, even true believers are becoming fed up with him.

In Sweden, despite its high standards of political correctness, there is a very vocal group of climate sceptics, which regularly publish in 'Elbranchen'. In September 2006 they organised a seminar: 'Global Warming - Scientific Controversies in Climate Variability'. This meeting was hosted by the Royal Technical High School in Stockholm and chaired by its rector, Peter Stilbs (See: Even Swedish TV has aired a debate on the issue. For those who have some command of the Scandinavian languages, see: Veckans Debatt: Global uppvaerming: Vad saeger vetenskapen?

In Italy the Bruno Leoni Institute has espoused climate scepticism ( In Spain, the foundation Rafael del Pino has paid attention to climate scepticism in the past, but because of social and political pressure it has felt forced to keep a low profile on this issue over the last few years. ( In the French-speaking part of Europe, individual scientists such as as Marcel Leroux could be mentioned. Moreover, the Molinari Institute has joined the cause of climate scepticism ( In the Czech Republic, President Vaclav Havel is single-handedly attempting to instil some common sense into public opinion. In Austria the Hayek Institute carries the torch (, while Estonia is represented by Olavi K„rner (

In my own country, the Netherlands, the situation has markedly improved. In line with the tradition of consensus-seeking, it has been possible to establish something close to a real dialogue between AGW adherents and the climate sceptics. Personally, I have even been invited by the Nether-lands Royal Meteorological Institute (KNMI) to become expert reviewer of the IPCC. As such, I have submitted many fundamental criticisms on the draft texts of the Fourth Assessment Re-port of the Panel (AR4). What happened to my comments? To be honest, I have not the faintest idea. Most probably, nothing at all.

Nevertheless, in my capacity as expert reviewer of the IPCC, I have also received (a tiny) part of the Nobel price, which has been awarded to Al Gore and the IPCC (yes, thanks for your congratulations). Should I be grateful? I don't think so. Both 'An Inconvenient Truth' and the latest IPCC report labour under cherry-picking, spindoctoring and scare-mongering (Al Gore's movie more than the IPCC reports).

Awarding the Nobel price for such flawed science is a disgrace. But it should be recalled that the Nobel Prize for Peace is being awarded by a group of (five) Norwegian politicians and not by the Swedish Academy of Science, which is always scrupulously investigating the merits of the candidates. The Norwegians are piggybacking on the reputation of the Nobel prizes for science and literature. The method of electing the winner of the Peace prize ensures a political outcome reflecting the current strength of Norwegian political parties. Four out of five members of the parliamentary committee that selected Gore are former cabinet members. The fifth, Mjoes, was president of the University of Tromso. So the Democrat Gore owes his prize to a constellation of Progressives, Social and Christian Democrats and Green socialists. Little wonder Francis Sejersted, past chairman of the committee, admits: 'Awarding a peace prize is, to put it bluntly, a political act.'

Russian scientists are criticising very openly the AGW hypothesis. They do it with a frankness which - in this particular field - is still rare in the 'free world'. Usually scientists shroud their statements in clouds of caveats. Even the IPCC follows this tradition to a certain extent. But Russian climatologists do not. They simply state that a new little ice age is imminent. Not so long ago it was astronomer Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in St. Petersburg, who declared that the Earth will experience a 'mini Ice Age' in the middle of this century, caused by low solar activity. Now it is the climatologist Olech Sorochtin, member of the Russian Academy of Physical Science, who joins him. His message was prominently disseminated by the Russian press agency Novosti, which in the period of the Cold War was generally considered to be a mouthpiece of the Kremlin. ( Therefore, it is perhaps not too far-fetched to speculate that this might be a warning signal that the Russians will drop out of Kyoto when its first phase expires in 2012.

But Britannia rules the waves. Stewart Dimmock, a Kent lorry driver and school governor, took the government to court for sending copies of Gore's film to schools. He was backed by a group of campaigners, including Viscount Monckton, a former adviser to Mrs Thatcher. They won a legal victory against 'An Inconvenient Truth'. Mr Justice Burton ruled that the movie contained at least nine scientific errors and said ministers must send new guidance to teachers before it was screened. 'That ruling was a fantastic victory,' said Monckton. 'What we want to do now is send schools material reflecting an alternative point of view so that pupils can make their own minds up.' Monckton has also won support from the maker of 'The Great Global Warming Swindle'. Martin Durkin, managing director of WAG TV, which produced the documentary, said he would be delighted for his film to go to schools. I have become a proselytiser against the so-called consensus on climate change ... people can decide for themselves,' he said.

And what about our kids? Well, they have survived the story of Santa Claus without any visible scars. Wouldn't they survive the nonsense of man-made global warming as well?



So: Nukes? Oh no! We cannot have any realistic solutions!

A massive switch to burning coal will make it harder to limit global warming in the coming 25 years, warns a major report on global energy trends from the International Energy Agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. In a "business-as-usual" scenario, the report released on Wednesday predicts that coal demand will increase by 73% between 2005 and 2030, with 80% of the predicted increase in China and India. Already, these two countries account for 45% of all coal burnt, and demand is likely to rise as the relatively cleaner fossil fuels - oil and natural gas - become scarcer and more expensive.

But there is hope that by rapidly introducing "clean-coal" technologies, China, India and other coal-burning countries can keep the lid on emissions of carbon dioxide, the main pollutant raising global temperatures. According to the report, the most promising technology is carbon capture and storage (CCS) - this involves burying carbon dioxide produced by burning coal deep underground, instead of venting it into the atmosphere.

"Government action must focus on curbing the rapid growth in carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power stations," says the report. "CCS could reconcile continued coal burning with the need to cut emissions in the longer term, if the technology can be demonstrated on a large scale and if adequate incentives to invest are in place."

The big question, says the report, is whether the technologies can be deployed fast enough. In India and China, momentum to reduce emissions might come less from the imperative to stop global warming and more from pressure to cut local pollution and to save money through energy efficiency. Globally, the report expects energy needs to grow by 50% by 2030 compared with 2005, with India and China accounting for 45% of the growth. This will raise carbon dioxide levels by 57%, with 67% of the increase shared by the US, China, India, and Russia.



BRAZIL has discovered huge new petroleum reserves in its south that could turn the country into one of the biggest oil producers in the world, the government and its state-controlled oil company has announced. If one of the deposits turns out to be as vast as it appears, Brazil will be in the same league "as the Arab countries, Venezuela and others," the senior minister in charge of the cabinet, Dilma Rousseff, said.

Petrobras, Brazil's national oil company, said in a statement that exploration of its Tupi field, offshore Sao Paulo state, revealed it could produce up to eight billion barrels of light oil and natural gas. It said that find, along with another potential field still being explored farther south, could propel Brazil "among the countries with the biggest oil and gas reserves in the world." The head of Petrobras, Jose Sergio Gabrielli, told a media conference in Rio de Janeiro that Brazil's total reserves could now place it "between Nigeria and Venezuela".

Shares in the company soared on the news, closing 14.57 per cent higher at 93.40 reais ($58) on the Sao Paulo stockmarket. Petrobras' previous stated reserves, given at the end of 2006, were the equivalent of 11.46 billion barrels of oil. The Tupi find alone could boost that by 50 per cent. Petrobras operates the Tupi area, of which it holds 65 per cent.

British energy group BG holds a 25 per cent share in the field and Portugal's Petrogal-Galp Energia holds 10 per cent. Petrobras also holds the lion's share of interest in the other field being tested. The Brazilian government said no more parts of the new field would be licensed out until a full evaluation was in. It said this was in "the public interest."

The discoveries are a significant fillip for Brazil, coming at a time that the price of oil is sitting at a record high and heading towards $US100 per barrel. An analyst at the Brazilian Centre for Infrastructure, Adriano Pires, agreed that "this is good news." But he noted that the Tupi field, 250km offshore, lies in very deep water, which will make extraction "very expensive." At best, he said, production would begin in around four or five years' time. "It's only viable if oil prices stay high," he said.

The Brazilian state holds a 55.7 per cent of the shares with voting rights in Petrobras, giving it effective control of the energy giant, which currently pumps out nearly two million barrels of oil a day.


Carbon Offsets: The New Cure for Enviroguilt

Post below from "Alternet" -- a generally Leftist site

Carbon offset fees may be new, but the underlying notion goes back to the Middle Ages, when the Catholic Church sold wealthy people indulgences to offset the spiritual cost of their sins.

Airlines from Virgin Blue to Qantas have been touting new ecofriendly programs under which passengers paralyzed by enviroguilt over all of those jet-fueled carbon dioxide emissions can pay an extra carbon offset fee for tickets. The money these passengers pay -- sometimes as little as $1 -- is supposed to go to renewable energy or unspecified green causes and therefore make airline travel carbon neutral.

Carbon offset fees may be new, but the underlying notion goes back to the Middle Ages, when the Catholic Church sold wealthy people indulgences to offset the spiritual cost of their sins and assure a place for them in heaven. And yet at least the kids in 1380 knew that indulgences were bullshit. Geoffrey Chaucer's classic work The Canterbury Tales, written in the late 1300s, makes fun of the thoroughly corrupt pardoner character, a bombastic weirdo who constantly tries to sell everybody official-looking papers that would pardon them for their sins. Chaucer was just one of many thinkers at the time who criticized the idea that any sin can be forgiven with a little gold.

Polluting the environment isn't a sin in the Christian sense, and yet carbon offset fees are clearly indulgences for a modern, scientific age. I don't mean to say that money doesn't help ecocauses. But the problem is far more complicated than we want to believe. Our planet is in such sorry shape partly because humans are trying to better themselves. China is industrializing in order to make its citizens richer, but last week the Chinese National Population and Family Planning Commission published a report showing that environmental pollution from coal mining has caused the incidence of birth defects to jump 40 percent in the past six years.

There's no carbon offset price you could pay to fix that. Nor is there an easy way to prevent such disasters from happening in the future if most of the world agrees that industrialization is the road to wealth. Do we use our carbon indulgence money to fund Chinese populations' return to preindustrial life, thus dooming that nation to a second-class economic status?

Perhaps we could use our money to fund education that teaches Chinese kids about alternative energy. But what kind of energy will they use in their classrooms while waiting for scientists to invent something that combusts cleanly and renewably forever?

Preservationist Marc Ancrenaz and his colleagues get it right in a recent article for PloS Biology in which they argue that preserving biodiversity must go hand in hand with eradicating poverty. "Most traditional conservation efforts were typically designed to exclude human residents," Ancrenaz's group writes. "This failure to consider the interests of local communities has resulted in a general lack of support for conservation and subsequent degradation of protected areas." In other words, if you don't help the people in a region, it doesn't matter how many carbon offsets you buy -- the area will still suffer. Ancrenaz discusses two novel preservation programs that incorporate community development in their biodiversity agendas: the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project in Borneo and the Tree Kangaroo Preservation Program in Papua New Guinea.

Both programs train and hire locals as researchers who can help preserve the habitats of orangutans and tree kangaroos, respectively. I don't want to offer programs like these as panaceas. Improperly used, they are no better than carbon indulgences. But at least they aim to address the deep connection between human poverty and environmental suffering. Even better would be programs that help locals develop new sources of wealth without requiring them to engage in logging or factory farming to earn money.

I'm not saying you should quit buying your carbon offsets, because maybe some of that money will make it into the right hands. But you should recognize your actions for what they are: guilt-inspired payouts that assuage your conscience rather than thoughtful remedies for problems that won't be solved with indulgences alone.


Three Texas Weathermen reject AGW

It's a movement that's gained momentum and has become mainstream, especially in political and media circles. Even major television networks these days are promoting Going Green, to stop Global Warming. One of the things you're not hearing in the national media is a voice like John Coleman, founder of The Weather Channel. In a recent article, Coleman calls Global Warming the greatest scam in history. "There is no runaway climate change," said Coleman. "The impact of humans on climate is not catastrophic. In time, a decade or two, the outrageous scam will be obvious."

KLTV 7 has three meteorologist on staff. It's their job to analyze weather patterns both in the short term, and the long term. When it comes to Global Warming, all three have a lot to say. It's being blamed for almost every major catastrophe, hurricanes, tornados, flooding and even droughts. More and more people are now on the Global Warming bandwagon.

"Any idea can become mainstream if you just hear one side of the argument," said KLTV 7 Meteorologist Morgan Palmer. For those who study the weather everyday, the idea of man-made Global Warming is a scientific theory, and Palmer says it has now become political. "It is because of money," said Palmer. "Folks that are writing these papers, that a lot of institutions are going after, grant money and grant money is given by folks who might have very good intentions, but unfortunately the papers that are being written are heavily weighed on man-made Global Warming."

Now, Meteorologist Mark Scirto and Grant Dade want the other side of the argument to be heard. "I think it is about time we see the other side of the Global Warming debate come out," said Dade. "Is the Earth warming? Yes, I think it is. But is man causing that? No. It's a simple climate cycle our climate goes through over thousands of years." "The late 1800's, early 1900's, we were so cold parts of Galveston Bay froze over," said Scirto. "In parts of the 20th century it was one of the warmest ever, then we cooled off again and then it was the drought."

Dramatic pictures float the Internet and are seen all over T. V. that seem to show Global Warming taking place, but Dade said there are things we don't hear. "Did you hear about the Arctic ice melting? But you didn't hear in Antarctica last winter was the most ice ever recorded," said Dade. "You don't hear that." "Eventually, what is going to happen 20, 30 years from now, this is all going to be gone because we will not be warming anymore," said Scirto.



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


10 November, 2007

A spectacular display of Greenie elitism coming up

Andrew Bolt comments from Australia:

The telling thing about the global warming faith is that it's preached almost entirely by hypocrites. As you're about to see in tropical technicolour next month. You see, more often than not a global warming prophet is a frequent flyer who's just stepped out of business class to demand you cut the very gases he's just blasted out the back of his jet. Or her jet, of course. I'm thinking here of Laurie David, a producer of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, the indoctrination tape for the warming faithful which demands we Use Less to save the world from choking on our filthy emissions.

As it turned out, Use Less David was not quite so eager to Use Less herself, confessing: "Yes, I take a private plane on holiday a couple of times a year." But she had the proper attitude: "I feel horribly guilty about it." And since global warming is more about how you feel than what you'll do, that made it all right.

Until this week I thought David - or Gore, who uses more electricity each month in just one of his three homes than the average American family uses in a year - couldn't be beaten for the title of Grand Hypocrite of the Warming Faith. Until this week they'd beaten off even the most shameless of challengers, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who attends celebrity global warming conferences to debate ways to make suburban types dim their lights, despite having a wide-body Boeing 767-200 for his private plane.

Australia's finest warming worriers also failed to topple Gore and David, despite a great late effort by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, the ABC's celebrity science spruiker now campaigning for the Climate Change Coalition. Kruszelnicki's coalition demands we "introduce energy efficiency standards for motor vehicles", yet Dr Karl chooses to drive a V8 Holden Monaro - but only on the freeway, he insists. And no doubt he also feels properly guilty, so that's all right, too.

Mind you, our Alarmist of the Year, Tim Flannery, did come close for his consistent record of demanding we cut the emissions that "can threaten civilisation as we know it", while showing few signs of cutting his extravagant own. His more recent - and best - effort has been to release yet another doom-preaching book (sales please!) in which he describes his eager travels by jet to conferences, treks and luxury resorts on tropical islands. Some extracts:

"I left Europe to return home via Africa. A mate had started an ecotourism venture in Kenya and had asked me to come along on a 14-day safari ... my next trip was to Necker Island in the Caribbean.

"The place is a tropical paradise and we stayed in a pavilion perched above a reef ... I left Necker Island for Borneo ... I'd promised to lead a group on a trek up Mount Kinabalu in Sabah."

And so on, with Flannery criss-crossing our skies with contrails, while sitting in business class composing yet another speech demanding we cut what he's busily belching. Or else. What is it with global warming prophets and jets? And luxury? And tropical islands? I ask because what Flannery is doing on his luxurious lonesome, entire jet-loads of global warming activists are about to do in a gluttonous mass-orgy - the most spectacular demonstration of warming hypocrisy yet seen. The gold medal performance.

I'm talking about the United Nations' Climate Change Conference 2007, to be held next month at Bali's luxury tourism precinct of Nusa Dua. How wonderful it will be there in balmy Bali - with its beaches, its shopping, its tennis courts, its golf courses, its balmy weather, its five-star service and its high-minded chatter about how to make people back home go without for the sake of the planet. No wonder the conference has been extended to last a leisurely fortnight. Even better for UN staff, they may travel to Bali in business class, where no doubt they'll bump into many other delegates off for a little pre-Christmas conference cheer, courtesy, in most cases, of taxpayers.

Now guess how many people are jetting to this Balinese paradise to demand we cut our emissions? Let me quote a newspaper report in which Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar gives the startling numbers: "He said 189 countries to be represented by some 10,000 delegates and 2500 foreign journalists had officially registered to take part." That's right, 12,500. To fly to a conference that will cost more than $70 million to stage. I can hear the oinking from here. This gathering of jet-set hypocrites is guaranteed not to cut emissions, but increase them, Al Gore-style.

In fact, I've worked it out on the Climate Care emissions calculator: just flying all those people to the conference and back will send around 30,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air. That's more than the greenhouse gases that 7000 family cars typically emit in an entire year. You'd think these warming alarmists would set an example by staying at home and, say, video-conferencing instead. If they really believed our gases were killing the planet, that is. Al Gore could even have arranged something for them, being a director of Apple.

But the new green faith was always for the privileged to enjoy, and the masses to endure, wasn't it? Hypocrisy is too small a word for so monstrous a circus. If it wasn't for the fact the planet actually hasn't warmed for nine years now, I'd cry.


First-Ever Survey of IPCC Scientists Undermines Alleged 'Consensus' on Global Warming

Poll Exposes Disagreement and Confusion Among United Nations Scientists

Is there really a "consensus" on global warming among the scientists participating in the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)? To find out, conducted the first-ever survey of the U.S. scientists who participated in the most recent IPCC report.

"Our results indicate that the notion of a meaningful scientific consensus on global warming is ludicrous," said Steve Milloy,'s executive director.

During the month of October, polled each of the 345 U.S. scientists listed as contributing authors and reviewers of the IPCC's "Climate Change 2007: The Physical Basis" with a six-question survey on climate change. Fifty-four IPCC scientists completed the survey, including several of the most prominent global warming alarmists and several IPCC lead authors. Less than 50% of the respondents said that an increase in global temperature of 1-degree Celsius is flatly undesirable. Half of the respondents said that such a temperature increase is either desirable, desirable for some but undesirable for others or too difficult to assess. "Among survey respondents, then, there's no consensus on desirability of 1-degree Celsius of global warming -- twice the level of warming that occurred during the 20th century," observed Milloy.

When asked about the ideal climate, only 14% said that the ideal climate was cooler than the present climate. Sixty-one percent said that there is no such thing as an ideal climate. "So if there's no agreement on what the target climate should be, what precisely is the point of taking action on global warming? What is the climatic goal at which we are aiming?," Milloy asked.

Another notable result is that an astounding 20% of those surveyed said that human activity is the principal driver of climate change. "So was there no climate change before mankind?" Milloy asked. "And if there was natural climate change before man, why not now also?" he added.

Forty-four percent didn't think that the current global climate was unprecedentedly warm. "The survey results indicate that when asked routine questions about the climatic role of manmade CO2, the IPCC scientists responded for the most part with the Pavlovian manmade-CO2-is-bad view seemingly demanded of them by the IPCC," Milloy noted. "But when you ask questions that are off the IPCC script, the supposed consensus seems to readily fall apart," concluded Milloy.


Weather Channel Founder: Global Warming `Greatest Scam in History'

Intro by Joe D'Aleo, Icecap, CCM:

I was privileged to work with John Coleman, the founder of The Weather Channel in the year before it became a reality and then for the first of the 6 years I was fortunate to be the Director of Meteorology. No one worked harder than John to make The Weather Channel a reality and to make sure the staffing, the information and technology was the very best possible at that time. John currently works with KUSI in San Diego. He posts regularly. I am very pleased to present his latest insightful post.

By John Coleman:

It is the greatest scam in history. I am amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming; It is a SCAM. Some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long term scientific data to create an allusion of rapid global warming. Other scientists of the same environmental whacko type jumped into the circle to support and broaden the "research" to further enhance the totally slanted, bogus global warming claims. Their friends in government steered huge research grants their way to keep the movement going. Soon they claimed to be a consensus.

Environmental extremists, notable politicians among them, then teamed up with movie, media and other liberal, environmentalist journalists to create this wild "scientific" scenario of the civilization threatening environmental consequences from Global Warming unless we adhere to their radical agenda. Now their ridiculous manipulated science has been accepted as fact and become a cornerstone issue for CNN, CBS, NBC, the Democratic Political Party, the Governor of California, school teachers and, in many cases, well informed but very gullible environmentally conscientious citizens. Only one reporter at ABC has been allowed to counter the Global Warming frenzy with one 15 minute documentary segment.

I do not oppose environmentalism. I do not oppose the political positions of either party. However, Global Warming, i.e. Climate Change, is not about environmentalism or politics. It is not a religion. It is not something you "believe in." It is science; the science of meteorology. This is my field of life-long expertise. And I am telling you Global Warming is a non-event, a manufactured crisis and a total scam. I say this knowing you probably won't believe a me, a mere TV weatherman, challenging a Nobel Prize, Academy Award and Emmy Award winning former Vice President of United States. So be it.

I have read dozens of scientific papers. I have talked with numerous scientists. I have studied. I have thought about it. I know I am correct. There is no run away climate change. The impact of humans on climate is not catastrophic. Our planet is not in peril. I am incensed by the incredible media glamour, the politically correct silliness and rude dismissal of counter arguments by the high priest of Global Warming.

In time, a decade or two, the outrageous scam will be obvious. As the temperature rises, polar ice cap melting, coastal flooding and super storm pattern all fail to occur as predicted everyone will come to realize we have been duped. The sky is not falling. And, natural cycles and drifts in climate are as much if not more responsible for any climate changes underway. I strongly believe that the next twenty years are equally as likely to see a cooling trend as they are to see a warming trend.



By: Douglas J. Keenan, The Limehouse Cut, London E14 6N, UK; []


Wei-Chyung Wang has been a respected researcher in global warming studies for decades. I have formally alleged that he committed fraud in some of his research, including research cited by the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC (2007) on "urban heat islands" (a critical issue). Herein, the allegation is reviewed, and some of its implications are explicated.


The work of Jones et al. (1990) is a significant paper in global warming studies (see below for details). In February 2007, Stephen McIntyre blogged about evidence he had found showing that it was "impossible" for Jones et al. to have carried out their work as they had claimed. An anonymous comment on the blog then indicated potential issues with the closely-related work of Wang et al. (1990). Further study by myself found additional evidence of problems. The evidence particularly implicates Wei-Chyung Wang-the lead author of Wang et al. and a co-author of Jones et al.

Wang is a professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He has been doing research on climate for over 30 years, and he has authored or coauthored more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers. He has also received an Appreciation Plaque from the Office of Science in the U.S.A., commending him, "For your insightful counsel and excellent science. .". The plaque resulted in particular from his research on global warming.

I have written a Report that details evidence that Wang committed scientific fraud. The Report was submitted to the University at Albany in August 2007, and a formal inquiry into research misconduct is now underway. A copy of the Report is in the Appendix.

Much more here (PDF)

Sexism causes global warming!

Even climate change cannot escape the gender wars. Now Swedish men are being blamed for having a disproportionately large impact on global warming.

The finger is squarely pointed at men in "A study on gender equality as a prerequisite for sustainable development" by Gerd Johnsson-Latham of the Swedish Ministry of Sustainable Development. She concludes: "The fact that women travel less than men, measured in person-kilometres per car, plane, boat and motorcycle - means that women cause considerably fewer carbon dioxide emissions than men, and thus considerably less climate change." She notes that 60 per cent of car emissions are created by the 10 per cent of drivers who use roads the most, and that men account for three-quarters of car driving in Sweden.

Women do not escape censure, however. The report notes that in Sweden, women spend four times as much as men on consumer goods and - in a further dig at men, albeit unintended - 20 times as much on hygiene products.



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


9 November, 2007

Carbon dioxide production by benthic bacteria: the death of manmade global warming theory?

By Daniel A Klein et al. See the warning immediately below this article


It is now well-established that rising global temperatures are largely the result of increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The "consensus" position attributes the increase in atmospheric CO2 to the combustion of fossil fuels by industrial processes. This is the mechanism which underpins the theory of manmade global warming.

Our data demonstrate that those who subscribe to the consensus theory have overlooked the primary source of carbon dioxide emissions. While a small part of the rise in emissions is attributable to industrial activity, it is greatly outweighed (by >300 times) by rising volumes of CO2 produced by saprotrophic eubacteria living in the sediments of the continental shelves fringing the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Moreover, the bacterial emissions, unlike industrial CO2, precisely match the fluctuations in global temperature over the past 140 years.

This paper also posits a mechanism for the increase in bacterial CO2 emissions. A series of natural algal blooms, beginning in the late 19th Century, have caused mass mortality among the bacteria's major predators: brachiopod molluscs of the genus Tetrarhynchia. These periods of algal bloom, as the palaeontological record shows, have been occurring for over three million years, and are always accompanied by a major increase in carbon dioxide emissions, as a result of the multiplication of bacteria when predator pressure is reduced. They generally last for 150-200 years. If the current episode is consistent with this record, we should expect carbon dioxide emissions to peak between now and mid-century, then return to background levels. Our data suggest that current concerns about manmade global warming are unfounded.

Journal of Geoclimatic Studies (2007) 13:3. 223-231


This article is a bit over the top for a scientific paper. Note that there is no Department of Climatology at the University of Arizona, nor is there a Daniel Klein or Mandeep Gupta in the U of A directory. Neither is there an Institute of Geoclimatic Studies. The whole things looks like an elaborate hoax. One should note that the very first sentence of the abstract is wrong. A global warming atheist would have said "widely-believed" rather than "well-established". Blue Crab has some incriminating details.

Journal of Geoclimatic Studies Editorial

Science, we are led to believe, proceeds by means of open-minded enquiry, motivated by the quest for truth. Any scientific theory is valid only for as long as it resists disproof. Such disproofs, far from being discouraged or resisted, are to be welcomed as the means by which knowledge advances.

This, anyhow, is the story we tell ourselves, at every level of every scientific discipline. Sadly, however, it no longer seems to apply in the field of climate science. It is impossible to overstate the importance of the lead paper published in this edition of our journal. It threatens to overturn the theory to which almost all climate scientists subscribe: that positive radiative forcing (global warming) is largely driven by emissions of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels. The paper, by Daniel Klein and colleagues, appears to demonstrate that this is not the case: the process causing global warming is in fact a natural one, which is likely to peak - returning average temperatures to background levels - by the middle of this century.

In any other field a revelation of this importance would be greeted with tremendous interest by scientific colleagues. If corroborated by further investigation it is likely to have been rewarded with the highest scientific honours: it is no exaggeration to state that this is Nobel Prize material. Instead, attempts to publish this paper have been met with fear, hostility and a closing of ranks. Before approaching this journal, Daniel Klein and colleagues sent their paper to 43 peer-reviewed learned publications. All 43 rejected it. In no case could they provide a scientific justification for their decision. [A bit over the top. I have done plenty of resubmissions in my day but never that many or anywhere near it]. The editor of one very eminent journal told Klein and his colleagues that they were "criminally irresponsible" in seeking to have this material published. This is not, we believe, language appropriate to the advance of scientific understanding.

Much as we would like to exaggerate the significance of our own journal, we cannot claim that it ranks alongside the great names that rejected this paper. Though we have always strived to maintain the most rigorous scientific standards, we recognise that Klein and colleagues came to us when better options had failed. Delighted as we are to provide a home for it, we deeply regret that they were unable to publish their paper in a better-known journal.

Nor would it be accurate to claim that we leapt at the chance to publish it. Though we immediately recognised the importance of these findings, we were also aware of the possible consequences of their publication. Ours is a small journal with minimal resources, whose existence has on several occasions been endangered by budgetary crises. We realised that if we were to publish this paper we would be confronting a powerful and hostile scientific establishment, which has the means, if it so chooses, to close us down. But such is the importance of what Klein and colleagues have discovered that this is a risk we are prepared to take.

This being said, we proceeded with the utmost care before deciding to publish. We subjected it to the most rigorous process of peer-review any paper published in this journal has ever undergone. Though several of them evinced profound concerns about the political implications of publishing this paper, none of our peer reviewers could fault it on scientific grounds. We decided that it is better to be published and be damned by other scientists than not to publish and be damned in our own minds for cowardice.

We have also taken the unprecedented step of making the paper freely available on our website: something we have been reluctant to do in the past because of our severe budgetary constraints. We hope that even if the paper is dismissed and ignored by those who subscribe to the "consensus" position on climate change, the truth will eventually seep out. We accept that this is not the best route for scientific discourse to take, but none better appears to be available. We publish in trepidation, but in the knowledge that it is the right thing to do.

Journal of Geoclimatic Studies (2007) 23:3. 221-222

An email received: That tries to explain the non-appearance of authenticating particulars

Dear Dr. Ray,

Thank you for everything you do. I admire your courage and your readiness to stand up for the truth when the rest of the world looks like it's slowly going mad.

I would like to draw your attention to the really scandalous treatment of some academic colleagues by what seems like a kind of 'climate change mafia'. I am an astrophysicist with an interest in issues related to climate change. But please do not mention my name to anyone in connection with this. As you can see here, Daniel Klein and colleagues have published a paper which completely shatters the theory of `manmade global warming':

As the journal says it's Nobel Prize material. But instead of being rewarded for it they have been shut out and threatened. See the editorial here:

It's a shocking story of censorship and intimidation. Their paper was published a few days ago but no one has reported on it and it looks like its in danger of being frozen out by the climate change 'consensus'. I phoned Daniel yesterday and recommended to him he should talk to the media about it. But he's so worried that he or his colleagues could lose their funding or their jobs that he is flatly refusing. He and his colleagues have already removed their contact details from the university directories because of the hate mail they've been getting.

The way Klein and colleagues have been treated is an outrage and it makes me very sad and worried about what's happening to science. We really do seem to be entering a new 'Dark Ages'. If you can break the silence on this issue, you will be doing a major service. As I say, please do not mention my name in connection to any of this.


"Enoch was right," said Mr Nigel Hastilow, and within 24 hours of uttering those words the speaker found that he was no longer the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Halesowen and Rowley Regis. Mr Hastilow, you see, had reacted in a completely unacceptable fashion to the Office for National Statistics' report that the population of this country would, largely as a result of net immigration, rise to 71 million in 25 years' time.

Respectable opinion offers a different response to this alleged problem. Thus, on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, Sir Crispin Tickell GCMG, KCVO said that we should be pursuing policies that would reduce our population to 20 million - a third of its current level. Meanwhile, a columnist on The Times, Melanie Reid, argued that we should look to the People's Republic of China for appropriate remedies. Referring to China's "one child" policy, Ms Reid wrote that: "I rather admire the Chinese. They recognised a huge problem and did something about it. It was dreadfully crude but it has prevented the births of 400 million people."

As that great student of Communist China, Jonathan Mirsky, retorted: "The male-female birth rate in China now is between 115 and 118 males to 100 women. The results? Rape, abduction (of females for brides) and female infanticide. Why would anyone admire this, crude or not?"

I'm not aware that anyone has rebutted Sir Crispin's suggestion that there are three times more British people than is desirable, so perhaps I should do so here. First of all, I don't accept the initial assumption that this country is unbearably overcrowded - or even would be so with a population of 71 million. No more than 8 per cent of the land mass of the United Kingdom consists of human dwellings or offices. Sheep, cows and assorted other creatures occupy much more space than we do.

The BBC's peerless economics correspondent, Evan Davis, points out that if the whole of the UK had the population density of Jersey then we would have a headcount of 180 million. Yet the people of Jersey are not engaging in bloody civil war or cannibalism - the sort of outcome that would be predicted by the population doomsters. As Davis observes, the key to managing population growth is to develop the appropriate infrastructure, which presumably Jersey has managed to do.

I was surprised to hear Sir Crispin Tickell citing 20 million as the appropriate number of residents for the UK; only four years ago, on BBC 2's Newsnight, he spoke in support of a figure of 30 million. Numbers, numbers. In his earlier broadcast, Sir Crispin remarked: "Someone has said that constantly increasing growth is the doctrine of the cancer cell. You just get out of control."

This metaphor, in effect describing the birth of children as like a metastasising tumour, is truly disgusting. Who, though, was that "someone" Sir Crispin airily quoted? His name is Paul Ehrlich and he is a patron, along with Tickell and Sir Jonathon Porritt, among others, of the Optimum Population Trust, an organisation that campaigns tirelessly for an organised reduction in human life.

Mr Ehrlich is the godfather of the environmentalist human reduction movement. Almost 40 years ago he wrote a book called The Population Bomb, which asserted that so many people would die as a direct result of starvation due to overpopulation that the world would, by 1985, be able to support only 1.5 billion humans. Mr Ehrlich also claimed that about 65 million of the victims would have died of hunger in his own country, the United States of America. As for Great Britain, Ehrlich declared that he would "take even money" that none of its inhabitants "would exist in the year 2000".

We now know that these predictions were of no more value than those given by the lunatic on a street corner declaring that the end of the word is nigh. Unlike those weirdos, however, Professor Ehrlich continues to pick up awards and is invited on to television programmes, like a sort of Cassandra in reverse (Cassandra, you will recall, got her prophecies right, but was ignored).

Even in what we used to call the Third World, life expectancy has grown by 40 per cent over the past half-century. Both the developed and the developing world have refuted the contemptible assertion - which defies both agricultural science and the human spirit - that the more we are, the worse it will be for all of us.

There have indeed been some horrendous famines - but fewer than ever before in human history and on a tiny scale compared to those foreseen by the guru of the Optimum Population Trust; these have been a result not of overpopulation but of governments taking control of land that used to be run by the farmers themselves - sometimes as part of a deliberate policy of starvation.

The population control freaks canvas a similarly insidious invasion into the intimate lives of hitherto free peoples. The Optimum Population Trust is scandalised by the fact that: "Couples making decisions about family size do so in the belief that it is a matter for them and their personal preferences alone." These professional misanthropes have now co-opted the fashionable hysteria about the consequences of climate change into their eternal quest for human self-culling.

Thus an Optimum Population Trust briefing paper rejoiced that: "A non-existent person has no environmental footprint; the emission saving is instant and total." As Frank Furedi, the author of Population and Development - A Critical Introduction, comments: "This preference for the non-existent over the existent speaks to a powerful anti-humanist sensibility."

As a matter of fact, we can expect this "problem", insofar as it can be so described, to solve itself: we now know that the process of economic development brings with it medical improvements that reduce infant mortality - and thus the compensating urge to produce very large families. That process is also accompanied by female education, which has a similar effect on what is sometimes called "fertility choice".

Note the word: choice. For the state to intervene in any way in the most personal and precious decision of our private lives would be a reduction of freedom dwarfing in significance all the minor infringements which have already occurred over such apparently unacceptable activities as the hunting of foxes while wearing red coats or smoking in private clubs.

So here is a message that we might send to the population control freaks, and I hope that it will not be found too crude. It is this: mind your own reproducing business.


Global warming? Bring it on

WHY DO we believe the Earth's climate was at its optimum at the start of the 20th century? On a chilly, damp and cloudy Saturday morning in early November, waiting for the rains to come and wipe out yet another soccer practice, I was home, thinking about the dire warnings from the global warming alarmist crowd and their pronouncements of disaster looming in Earth's not-too-distant future.

Earth's seas are supposed to rise by feet when, in fact, to date it's been fractions of inches. The ice pack is supposed to be disappearing in huge chunks, drowning all polar bears by 2050, yet all I can find is a story about four drowning during one freak storm. And while arctic ice is shrinking, the ice shelf in Antarctica is at an all-time record high.

The portending of climate-related disasters has captured the attention of a science-challenged audience. Put a white coat on a bearded man, give him a microphone and turn him loose on the public. Pretty soon, hand-wringing politicians more concerned for their reelection than the truth ensure that the grant money starts pouring in.

Given that atmospheric scientists and meteorologists can't predict whether it will rain five days from now, why is it that we are all too willing to accept their apocalyptic pronouncements of what to expect five or 50 or 100 years from now? And who's to say what epoch in the Earth's climate history represents the optimum? Could it be that a warmer Earth might actually be beneficial? This column is for you. If you heat your home with oil and have noticed that a barrel of the crude stuff is now going for almost $100, this column is for you.

Last January, as I was mowing the lawn in our back yard instead of shoveling snow off the driveway, I couldn't help but think how great it was to be outside on a sunny, 60-degree day, working on my tan two weeks into winter. That pleasant memory conjured up the specter of the winter of 1993, when we faced 18 winter storms. For months that stretched into an eternity, we were entombed in ice and snow. The mercury hovered in single digits for days. Twice on our deck my thermometer measured 11 degrees below zero. Temperatures were so low that road salt lost its ability to melt ice.

Here we are, several weeks past what is normally the peak for the leaves to be in their autumnal splendor, and this year's deciduous display is still affording us some of the most delectable eye candy in recent memory. And as trick-or-treaters were able to go door to door last week in shirt sleeves, I couldn't help but remember how many times as a child it was simply too nasty on Halloween to venture out during colder climes.

We've been here before. If my ambivalence to what apparently everyone in the world believes with religious fervor is a crisis is grating on your nerves, the truth is that we've been here before -- and nobody dies. The Earth's climate history did not start with the dawn of the 20th century. It was warmer, much warmer than it is getting now, and not for a decade or a century but for 400 years.

The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research explains on its Web site that the Medieval Warm Period "was a time of unusually warm climate in Europe from about 850 until 1250 A.D. ... The warmer climate caused historic events such as the spread of Viking settlements in Northern Europe. They traveled by boats to Greenland, among other places, through seas that, with cooler climates, are typically full of dangerous sea ice. During this time, grape vineyards, which require moderate temperatures and a long growing season, were as far north as [Northern] England. Today, in comparison, grape vineyards are only typically as far north as France [and Southern Germany] in Europe."

In mainland Europe, swamps dried up, and it was the mosquitoes that died instead of the children. The reduction in infant mortality caused an increase in the population from 40 million to 60 million. The warmer weather created longer growing seasons resulting in increased crop yield. A reminder: This warming occurred long before the Industrial Revolution and the invention of the internal combustion engine, and before General Motors, Ford and Chrysler were turning out those huge, gas-guzzling SUVs.

The rain never came today. In fact, the sun is starting to peek out. This week it's supposed to be sunny and in the 50s, and frankly, I wouldn't mind if it stayed that way until next April. A warmer Earth might be this planet's sweet spot. Many would stand to benefit greatly -- me included -- since I prefer mowing the lawn to shoveling snow any day.


Artificial light now incorrect

Now science is finding that our manhandling of light and time is making us sick. Artificial illumination is fooling the body's biological clock into releasing key wakefulness hormones at the wrong times, contributing to seasonal fatigue and depression. And daylight-saving time, extended by Congress this year for an extra four weeks, risks dragging even more Americans into a winter funk.

Much more than mental health is at stake. Women who work at night, out of sync with the light, have recently been shown to have higher rates of breast cancer - so much so that an arm of the World Health Organization will announce next month that it is classifying shift work as a "probable carcinogen." That will put the night shift in the same health-risk category as exposure to some types of toxic chemicals.

"Electric lights are wonderful, but as with a lot of other things, we really mess things up," said Dr. David Avery, a psychiatrist at the University of Washington School of Medicine who studies light's impact on health.

Researchers have long known that virtually all living organisms have biological rhythms that are linked to light. But the human health implications remained opaque until the 1970s, when scientists discovered the brain's internal clock: the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN, a tangle of neurons in the hypothalamus connected directly to the eyes. The SCN controls the ebb and flow of hormones that influence sleepiness, alertness and hunger. Prime among them is melatonin, levels of which rise each evening, easing the onset of sleep, and then fall before dawn in advance of awakening. But the SCN does not work in a vacuum. It takes its cues from light signals passed along by the eyes.

For decades scientists presumed that those clock-setting signals came from rods and cones, the light-sensitive cells in the retina that provide black-and-white and color vision. Then, in 2002, researchers at Brown University discovered an entirely different set of light-detecting cells in the eyes of humans and other mammals: ganglion cells.

Unlike rods and cones, ganglion cells specifically detect sky-blue light. The amount of light needed to get them firing is the equivalent of the intensity of sunlight reaching the eye at about daybreak. Taken together, those traits make them the perfect cells to tell the brain when dawn has arrived, which they do via a dedicated neural conduit to the SCN.

Unfortunately, this system does not always work like clockwork. Because of genetic differences, many people's clocks are set differently from others'. In some, the evening melatonin spike is delayed and sleep comes late. Early awakening is also often difficult for these night owls, perhaps in part because their melatonin levels have not had time to drop sufficiently by morning. Others have the opposite problem: The clocks in these morning larks run fast compared with solar clock time, lulling them to sleep early and then awakening them well before dawn's early light.

Being out of phase with the natural day-night cycle can take a big toll, causing fatigue, mood disturbances and depression. But for millions of Americans, these symptoms become even worse in winter, blossoming into what is in effect a months-long case of jet lag. Scientists disagree on the cause of seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, as it has come to be known. Some focus on winter's late sunrises, which appear to push various hormone cycles out of phase with the daily wake-sleep cycle. Others focus on the early sunsets, which may affect the timing of melatonin production in the brain.

But while genes clearly play a role (night owls are more often affected), location also matters. Daylight-saving time was stretched this year to Sunday for reasons that include an effort to save energy. But the change exacerbates the problem of seasonal depression and mood disorders by further delaying the time of sunrise, a key signal that resets the body's clock. "From the psychiatric perspective, the extension of daylight-saving time this year was a very bad decision," Terman said. "Our expectation is we will see increased depression and mood disorders."

The good news is that treatments for seasonal depression - primarily the use of bright light [So artificial light is good after all??], and in some cases melatonin supplements, to reset the body's clock - can be effective.



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


8 November, 2007

Do They Believe the Hype?

Post below lifted from Taranto. See the original for links

This column is highly skeptical of global warmism, and we wonder if those who claim to believe in it really do. An example of why is this BusinessWeek story titled "Clinton Sees Opportunity in Climate Woes." That's Hillary Clinton, of course:
Global warming hits particularly hard at the poor, she said. "One in four low-income families have already missed a mortgage or rent payment because of rising energy costs," Clinton said.
This is a complete non sequitur. Rising energy costs are supposed to be a solution to global warming, not a problem caused by it. What's more, if temperatures rise in winter, that ought to reduce the amount of money low-income families would have to spend heating their homes. Mrs. Clinton seems to be invoking "global warming" here just as a politically correct slogan, devoid of meaning. Higher oil prices, by the way, don't necessarily mean less carbon dioxide emissions. Bloomberg reminds us that there are other fuels:
Now that the price of coal is at a historic low relative to oil, there's no stopping consumers and producers alike from embracing Al Gore's nightmare. A ton of U.S. coal is so cheap at about $47 that European utilities will pay $50 to ship it across the Atlantic, according to Galbraith's Ltd., a 263-year-old London shipbroker. While oil and coal cost the same as recently as 1998, West Texas Intermediate crude is five times more expensive after climbing to a record $96.24 on Nov. 1.

Peabody Energy Corp., Consol Energy Inc. and Arch Coal Inc., the three biggest U.S. coal companies, forecast the largest increase in exports in 20 years, degrading the call for a moratorium on coal plants by former U.S. Vice President and this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore. Coal use worldwide has grown 27 percent since 2002, three times faster than crude, said BP Plc. U.S. East Coast coal has risen 71 percent, while oil tripled on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Most sources of energy involve burning something and thereby generating CO2. The big exception is nuclear power, but by and large fear of global warming isn't enough to overcome environmentalists' fear of the atom--which leads us to think that they don't take global warming all that seriously.

Another crooked opinion poll

No. It's not the AP again. This time it's the BBC -- which is not much of a surprise, sadly. Post below lifted from Monkey Tennis

The BBC is trumpeting the results of a poll it commissioned, which, it claims, shows that "most people are ready to make personal sacrifices to address climate change". Its report on the poll says:

Four out of five people indicated they were prepared to change their lifestyle – even in the US and China, the world's two biggest emitters of carbon dioxide.


BBC environment reporter Matt McGrath says the poll suggests that in many countries people are more willing than their governments to contemplate serious changes to their lifestyles to combat global warming.

22,000 people in 21 countries were interviewed for the poll, and the figures given for the UK respondents were fairly representative of those for all countries, with more than 80 per cent agreeing that lifestyle changes were 'probably' or 'definitely' necessary.

Strange, then, that a separate poll conducted in Britain and reported on by Reuters a couple of days earlier produced very different findings:

Warnings about the effects of climate change have made most Britons aware of the crisis, but few are willing to make major changes to the way they live, a survey showed on Friday.


The survey, the sixth since 1986, found that six out of 10 people said they knew a lot or a fair amount about climate change and many were willing to do something to help.

But nearly half declared they would not make changes that impinged on their lifestyles and less than three in 10 said they had switched to using a more fuel-efficient car, cut car usage or taken fewer flights.

This doesn't quite square with "most people are ready to make personal sacrifices" does it? And here's a third poll on the same subject, reported in the same Reuters story:

A separate consumer survey found people over 50 – among the most climate-aware and affluent group – were deeply suspicious of any government move to raise green taxes, viewing it as a money-making mechanism.


The survey by Millennium, an agency specialising in marketing to the mature, found 84 percent believed the government was capitalising on climate fears to raise funds and also found little willingness among respondents to change lifestyles much – if at all – to benefit the environment.

Not only does the BBC's poll contradict two others taken at around the same time with regard to attitudes to 'climate change' in the UK, it also suggests there's been a dramatic change in opinion since the BBC reported on another independent poll back in July:

The public believes the effects of global warming on the climate are not as bad as politicians and scientists claim, a poll has suggested.


There was a feeling the problem was exaggerated to make money, it found.

But hang on a minute – here's yet another poll, which the BBC reported on in September, and which seems much more in tune with the findings of the BBC-commissioned poll we kicked off with – and funnily enough, it was also commissioned by the BBC:

Large majorities in many countries now believe human activity is causing global warming, a BBC World Service poll suggests.


An average of 79% of respondents to the BBC survey agreed that "human activity, including industry and transportation, is a significant cause of climate change".

Nine out of 10 people said action was necessary, with two-thirds of people going further, saying "it is necessary to take major steps starting very soon".

Again, while people in various countries were interviewed for this poll, the results for the British respondents were about par for the course.

In case you're becoming confused – I know I am – here's a quick recap: we have three independent polls suggesting that Britons are either ambivalent or skeptical about whether climate change is a real problem, and highly skeptical about the motives of those who demand action; and we have two polls commissioned by the BBC which suggest that Britons, along with the rest of the world, are not only fully on board with the threat of climate change, but are prepared to endure tough measures to tackle the problem.

Both BBC polls were conducted by GlobeScan and PIPA – The Program on International Policy Issues. And lest anyone be thinking that these must be independent organisations, with no axe to grind and no vested interest in the outcome of the polls they conduct, here's Globescan President Doug Miller commenting on the BBC's September poll:

…Miller said growing awareness of global warming had awoken people's self-interest.

"The impacts of erratic weather on their property, on their person, on their country is tangible and real to people across the world."

He said "the strength of the findings makes it difficult to imagine a more supportive public opinion environment for national leaders to commit to climate action".

Note that Miller isn't commenting on the findings of the poll, as a spokesman for Mori might, but is giving his personal opinion on the subject, making it clear that he regards global warming and its consequences as a given.

The 'Core Practice Areas' listed on GlobeScan's website include Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Community Affairs, and the site features a photo of the Earth taken from space. I think we get the message.

As for PIPA, the list of 'Recent Studies' displayed on its website tells you everything you need to know. When it's not producing anti-American, anti-war or pro-climate hysteria polls for the BBC, it's producing reports such as 'Less than Half of Pakistani Public Supports Attacking Al Qaeda, Cracking Down on Fundamentalists' (in collaboration with the US Institute of Peace), and 'Muslims Believe US Seeks to Undermine Islam'.

Far from employing politically neutral organisations to carry out its polls, the BBC is working with two groups which entirely share its soft-left, but potentially very dangerous, view of the world and its ills. Pollsters are, of course, masters in the art of manipulating both their subjects and their data to get the results they want – and in the unlikely event that the BBC doesn't get the results it wants, it's a master of twisting the facts to suit the narrative: witness the poll it commissioned which purported to show that most Iraqis thought the Surge had failed, the findings of which were released to coincide with the Petraeus/Crocker testimony to Congress.

It's possible that the findings of the BBC's polls are accurate, and that the independent polls mentioned above, along with others, are flawed, but it's a remarkable coincidence that the BBC is able to produce poll after poll which suggests that the whole world thinks exactly what its news reports tell them to.

Our Moderate Climate Crisis

Ours is a truly strange global warming crisis. The warming has been only about 0.7§ C, spread over 150 years. Our ancestors lived through much more dramatic climate changes. Just 10,000 years ago, insect fossils tell us, air temperatures dropped as much as 20§ C over a few centuries. Then temperatures zoomed back up to levels warmer than today in perhaps 50 years, according to Dr. Dorothy Peteet of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York. That period, at the end of the last major Ice Age, was also when humans killed off the last of the massive cave bears--because we wanted their caves. The caves were the best-insulated places for humans to live, so hunters risked their lives to attack the groups of massive bears with nothing more than stone-tipped spears.

We are told that the mild crisis of the Modern Warming is due to human-emitted carbon dioxide (CO2). However, about 70 percent of this warming occurred before 1940, before big industries and automobile sales. That pre-1940 warming was almost certainly due to the natural, solar-linked 1,500-year cycle researchers have found recently in ice cores, seabed sediments, and fossil pollen.

After 1940, global temperatures dropped for 35 years before resuming an upward trend from 1976 to 1998. The net warming since 1940 is a tiny 0.2§ C. We can blame humans for half of that, because the 1,500-year cycle is still affecting the picture. That makes Al Gore's inconvenient truth a human-driven warming of 0.1§ C over 65 years. That's less than 2/1000th of a degree per year.

Meanwhile, the climate-forcing impact of atmospheric CO2 has been declining rapidly. The laws of physics tell us the first 40 parts per million of human-added CO2, back in the 1940s, had more climate-forcing power than the next 360 ppm. Today's radically weakened CO2 effect cannot possibly drive Al Gore's predicted 20-foot sea-level rise and parboil the planet with auto exhaust.

None of the CO2 has been as potent as the greenhouse computer models claimed it would be. Climate modeler James Hansen of NASA told Congress in 1988 that by the year 2000 the Earth would have warmed another 0.3§ C and sea levels would have risen several feet. Reality has been much more moderate. The temperatures in 2000 were only 0.1§ warmer, and sea level has risen just one inch.

We've had no global warming at all over the past eight years, so the near-zero correlation between the Earth's temperatures and CO2 levels has been getting even weaker. The CO2 levels have continued to rise in linear fashion, but temperatures have remained stable. The strong correlation between our temperatures and sunspots, meanwhile, continues to get stronger. This points to the sun as the most significant driving force in our recent climate change.

There is simply no reason to believe the computerized climate models, as they already have demonstrated their capacity to be radically wrong. On the contrary, it is time to acknowledge the physical and historical evidence of a moderate, natural 1,500-year climate cycle linked to the sun. That cycle tells us we will continue to enjoy a slow, sunny, erratic warming through the next few centuries--which is far better than the alternative of another harsh, cloudy, unstable Little Ice Age. George Washington and his veterans, who suffered through that chilly time at Valley Forge, would have cast their votes for warming.



Is there really anything new to be said about climate change? Hasn't the issue become the public-policy equivalent of Groundhog Day, with the same arguments playing out in the same way every week?

Perhaps there is. The weary and repetitive character of the climate-change debate is masking a number of fundamental changes now taking place that, 20 or 30 years from now, are likely to be recognized as the turning point on the issue. Despite the relentless media and advocacy-group frenzy, the case for catastrophic global warming is fraying around the edges. The alarmists have found themselves suddenly hoisted by their own petard, as the latest massive report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noticeably reined in its predictions of future doom and gloom (less sea-level rise, lower temperature rise, admissions of serious problems in its climate models, and so forth). Having thumped skeptics about ignoring the IPCC-certified "consensus," the alarmists are now criticizing the IPCC for being "too conservative." Increasingly it appears that the problem of climate change is likely to be more modest and manageable than the heated rhetoric would have you imagine, just as the apocalyptic 1960s predictions of the "population bomb" turned out to be wrong.

It is increasingly apparent even to the Kyoto Protocol's European cheerleaders that the Kyoto approach is a dead end. Meanwhile, up on Capitol Hill, the new Democratic leadership talks a big game on climate change, but is considering only the most modest of measures, which, if eventually brought to a vote, will probably degenerate into another pork-fest and subsidy game. Seldom if ever has there been a larger gap between the rhetoric and the legislation being considered. It's as if Lincoln and the Republicans of the 1850s had said: "Slavery is evil; therefore let us adopt tax incentives, impose a few regulations on slave auctions, and subsidize the production of new farm equipment."

The alarmists say the lack of dramatic action (such as, for instance, a 50% to 70% cut in greenhouse emissions over the next 40 years) is due to the opposition of the "denial industry" and fossil-fuel interests, but this is a convenient fiction. The real problem is that no one is willing to enact measures with the gargantuan costs that would be involved. Eventually even environmentalists are going to come to see that global warming is the issue that ate them alive. And policymakers are going to begin looking at alternative perspectives on how to deal with the actual problems of climate change.

This is where Bjorn Lomborg comes in. Lomborg burst on the scene in 2001 with The Skeptical Environmentalist, pointing out that the data do not support the familiar green "litany" of planet-wide calamity. For this heresy, environmentalists have predictably compared him to Holocaust deniers and worse. He followed up this effort with the "Copenhagen Consensus," an ambitious convocation of top social scientists (including several Nobel laureates) that aimed at ranking global priorities such as AIDS, malnutrition, water supplies and climate change. No matter how the methodology was sliced up, climate change came in last on the list. For this, the head of the IPCC compared Lomborg to Hitler. "What is the difference between Lomborg's view on humans and Hitler's?" the IPCC's Rajendra Pachauri said to a Danish newspaper in 2004. "If you were to accept Lomborg's way of thinking, then maybe what Hitler did was the right thing."

Having already resorted to the exhausted reductio ad Hitlerum, environmentalists will be hard-pressed for new invective to use against Cool It, Lomborg's new book focusing exclusively on climate change. Notwithstanding Lomborg's major concession that "global warming is real and man-made" and is "beyond debate," environmentalists will not be happy. Lomborg questions "whether hysteria and headlong spending on extravagant CO2-cutting programs at an unprecedented price is the only possible response." Any competent economist can tell you that deep CO2 reductions fail every cost-benefit test; this is true even of economists, such as Yale's William Nordhaus, who accept the catastrophic-global-warming scenario.

Environmentalists, along with most liberals, snort at cost-benefit analysis -- an attitude best expressed by a full-page advertisement in The New York Times several years ago from environmental "archdruid" David Brower that bore the headline: "Economics Is a Form of Brain Damage." The virtue of Cool It is that Lomborg effectively translates the aseptic language of cost-benefit analysis into persuasive plain English (for wonks, a longer and more technical version of Cool It is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press).

Consider the case of a persistent cause of more than 1.2 million deaths, 50 million injuries and a half-trillion dollars in damages worldwide every year. Then ponder that a simple policy change could eliminate nearly all of this harm. The cause: automobile accidents. The remedy: Lower the speed limit to five miles per hour. But of course no nation would ever do this, because it would make us so much poorer. The benefits of auto use outweigh the risks, such that we don't even consider a modest reduction in speed limits, which studies show would significantly reduce auto-accident casualties. Instead, we invest in safer highways, air bags, seat belts and other means to reduce the human cost of driving.

The use of fossil fuels presents the same tradeoff. As Lomborg states, "the benefits from moderately using fossil fuels vastly outweigh the costs." If anything, Lomborg understates this point. The tradeoff for arguably increasing the average global temperature by 0.6 degrees in the 20th century has been nearly a doubling in life expectancy, a huge decline in infant mortality, and the steadily increasing spread of middle-class prosperity across the planet's population. Does anyone outside the tiny ranks of environmental extremists really wish we had not made this progress, which depended vitally on cheap energy? Acknowledging this calculus is environmentally incorrect, but it is the silent ground upon which practical policymakers will build policy. There simply is no near-term, large-scale alternative to fossil fuels. Deal with it.

Some climate skeptics will criticize Lomborg for conceding too much about the certainty of our knowledge of human-caused climate change. But he is doing an important service in changing the dynamics of the debate. And if it turns out that some or all of the warming we experience is the result of natural factors, then Lomborg's adaptation strategy will be all the more important. By the end of Cool It, Lomborg has neatly turned the tables on the emotional rhetoric of the alarmists: "I hope that in 40 years we will not have to tell our kids that we went for a long series of essentially unsuccessful command-and-control Kyotos that had little or no effect on the climate, but left them poorer and less able to deal with problems of the future."

Lomborg thinks we should aim at modest reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, invest heavily in energy research, and devote resources to adapting to changing conditions. Eventually, policymakers throughout the world are going to come around to Lomborg's point of view (indeed they already are, if the tenor of the recent APEC meeting in Australia is any indication), though they will do so kicking and screaming and with multiple genuflections toward the alarmist totems. Al Gore and other true believers won't ever be persuaded, but one day, perhaps not long from now, they are going to wake up to discover that the world has passed them by.



It wouldn't be their own mismanagement, of course

China suffers a water shortage of nearly 40 billion cubic metres a year which Water Resources Minister Chen Lei blamed largely on global warming, state media reported on Monday. "The changes have led to a combination of both frequent drought and flooding," the China Daily newspaper quoted Chen as saying. Although global warming has contributed to falling water tables in China, rising consumption both by farmers and booming cities, as well as severe pollution, have compounded shortages.

Decades of heavy industrialisation have made water from some lakes and rivers so polluted it is no longer useable, and tonnes of untreated waste are pumped directly into water sources.

Data also showed that rainfall in arid north China has been decreasing, the report said, adding that water resources in areas surrounding the Yellow, Huai, Hai and Liao rivers had dropped by about 12 percent. "Seasonal water shortages in some of those areas are getting worse, seriously restricting sustainable social and economic development," the newspaper quoted an unnamed official as saying.

Water shortages have also been taking their toll on rice cultivation in China, the world's top consumer and producer of the grain, leading to plans for it to expand acreage for a new kind of rice that can grow in dry soil.


NOTE: There has in fact been no significant change in total annual precipitation over China during the second half of the 20th century. See here


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


7 November, 2007

Will the Democrats outlaw beer, Coca-Cola and Champagne?

Post below lifted from American Thinker. See the original for links

In a preposterous article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, author Bill McAullife postulates burying carbon dioxide underground in North Dakota to save the atmosphere.

"A partnership that includes Minnesota corporations and state agencies is testing whether it can pump carbon dioxide -- the key pollutant linked to climate change -- deep into the ground. That would not only remove it from the atmosphere, but also free up inaccessible oil and gas deposits. Winning crucial federal money last month, the "Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership" is part of a nearly $300 million program underway in three regions of North America."
Yet another wise commenter on named "veritas" muses that:
Hey, it's simpler and cheaper to just shut down Coke, Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch, and Miller -- "Big CO2.". Carbonation will kill us all!
There you have it. The Global Warming Crowd are all but ready to outlaw the average citizen's consumption of beer, Coca-Cola and Champagne. Those that are rich enough to pay for carbon credits may have no trouble dealing with a fine for carbonated drinks. When Rush Limbaugh says the Greens want to control our lives down to the smallest detail, he is not exaggerating in the least. Busch Derangement Syndrome?

Incorrect water

Post below lifted from Classical Values. See the original for links

My unending quest to determine precisely what it is that constitutes morality takes a lot of twists and turns, and one of my major complaints is with the constant manufacture of new morality. Well, it's Sunday, and time for the latest dish of manufactured morality. In this case, the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer unveils the new evil of bottled water:
Throughout the region, tap water is getting a boost from college events and eco-campaigns. At least one restaurant is about to banish bottled water, even as another celebrates it with 42 selections.

Bottled water - a $10.9-billion-a-year industry in the United States - has even emerged as a moral issue, a peace issue. "We are called by our faith stance," said Sister Sharon Dillon, a former executive director of the Franciscan Federation in Washington, as she pledged to forgo Deer Park, Poland Spring, and all the others. For her, it's a matter of equitable access. A billion people worldwide don't have safe drinking water, one in five of them children.

Americans, on the other hand, with near total access, are binging on bottled of every sort, from the handheld variety to the office jugs. We swigged 8.25 billion gallons in 2006 - an average of 28 gallons per person.

Dillon spoke at a teleconference organized by the advocacy group Corporate Accountability International, which sees bottled water as a corporate abuse - the takeover of a natural resource that should belong to everyone. The group wants people to "Think Outside the Bottle" and, like Dillon, pledge not to drink it.
Well, hey, I drink tap water, but only because I'm a cheapskate. However, all this talk of taking a politically correct "pledge" not to drink bottled water makes me feel like running out and buying several cases on general principle. The activists are also screaming that bottled water leads to war:
The Women's International League of Peace and Freedom has launched a three-year "Save the Water" campaign, on the notion that drinking bottled water encourages privatization, which can lead to wars over water.
This really shouldn't come as a shock, because I heard about a recent incident involving an employee who was scolded at work for drinking a bottle of water from Fiji. Until then, I hadn't known there was such a thing about politically incorrect water, so I asked, and I was told that the objection was that because bottled water is transported, while tap water comes out of the faucet, that bottled water eats up more carbon than tap water, and the longer the distance from the source, the more carbon is burned.

But a lot of things are transported long distances -- many of them a lot more frivolous in nature than water. Does it matter whether the water industry helps the Fiji economy, or is that irrelevant?

A lot of what we call "political correctness" is simply an attempt by one group to impose a new morality on another group. I suppose that if it were claimed loudly enough thatthat buying bottled water helped certain countries that it might be a "mitigating" factor, but I don't see why people are so quick to jump on these brand-new moral bandwagons without taking the to really look at the overall economic picture. It's as if people sit around feeling guilty about themselves, waiting for someone to come along and scold them. And right away, they do as they're told:
On Friday at a University of Pennsylvania "Green Fest," the campus enviro group held a tap-water challenge - part taste test, part educational opportunity. "You don't have to do any convincing," said Anil Venkatesh, a math major who guzzles West Philly tap water. "Most people are like, 'Wow, thanks for telling me.' " Public officials are acting.
I'll just bet they are. Bottled water is the newest form of immorality for the trendy scolds, and there are huge numbers of evil conspicuous consumers running around drinking it, just waiting to be put in their place! (Much the same way evil people once enjoyed smoking.)

With any luck, the moralists will soon come to the realization that we started down this slippery slope when we allowed bottles and cans to be invented. By degrees, our inattentiveness allowed the wasteful corporate racketeers to first addict people to buying things like canned and bottled soft drinks and beer. Any idea what's the principal ingredient in those cans and bottles? BINGO! They are over 90% water! It took some time, but eventually the capitalists realized that if people would buy a product that's mostly water, they might be persuaded to buy just the water itself.

But does merely exposing this scam really go far enough? Is it really fair to stop with shaming the water drinkers and placing restrictions on bottled water, while beer and flavored soda drinkers sit around imbibing with impunity? Aren't they destroying the environment too? Especially those who drink imported beer and imported soft drinks, why aren't they being made to feel appropriately ashamed?

This whole thing makes me nostalgic for the good old days when no Communist would ever drink a glass of tap water. Because, of course, only they knew that the real reason they had put fluoride in our water was to destroy our precious bodily fluids in what a distinguished American general properly called "the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face." Today, of course, the Commies don't mention the fluoride in our drinking water. Instead, (in a pot calling the kettle black move that everyone seems to have missed), they complain about Dick Cheney putting arsenic in our drinking water. Fluoride, arsenic, whatever. The undeniable fact is, they want us all to be poisoned and die, for why else would they want to make us drink it? And pretty soon there will be no avenue of escape in the form of bottled water, because the one world capitalist Cheney-Bush-Halliburton globalists have been caught putting arsenic in the pure Fiji water!
when the City of Cleveland conducted a chemical analysis of Fiji brand bottled water, they discovered that it contains dangerously high levels of arsenic - higher even than our own drinking supply.
What I want to know is this: if it's impossible to avoid Dick Cheney's arsenic by drinking bottled water from Fiji, why aren't the moral scolds pointing this out? Instead, the moral attacks zero in on things like "consumer culture":
...our newfound taste for water is certainly good news. But there's a dark side to our new water craze. And in many ways, Fiji Water optimizes the self-destructive insanity of consumer culture. The problem is not Fiji Water per se. The company has built hospitals and water systems in Fiji, and I'm sure their water is great. The problem is bottled water in general, and Fiji Water makes a great case study.

I'm in Western New York State watching people drink Fiji Water out of little, indestructible plastic tanks adorned with colorful images of tropical flowers and waterfalls. But there's something very wrong here. Something very unnatural about this natural treat. Something that threatens the very existence of the tropical paradise depicted on the bottle. Something that lays bare the insanity of consumerism.
Trust me, the piece goes on to lay bare the insanity of consumerism at great length. Having done this, the writer closes with what I'd call self-nihilistic advocacy of consumer fraud:
If you like water, and you don't like tap water, then buy a water filter and refill your colorful Fiji bottles over and over. You can still imagine you're in Fiji. They're your daydreams to do with as you wish. Perhaps you can even dream of a healthy world.
Healthy world? Bah! Notice that there's not a word about the Commie fluoride, and nothing about Dick Cheney's deadly arsenic! Just blatant advocacy of fake, fluoridated, faux Fiji fascism. The message of course is that we are doomed because we deserve to be doomed. Because we consume.


Warnings about the effects of climate change have made most Britons aware of the crisis, but few are willing to make major changes to the way they live, a survey showed on Friday. The Department of the Environment's annual survey of Attitudes and Behaviours in relation to the environment also suggested that while older people were pessimistic about the climate's future, the younger generation were less concerned. "Government is determined to make it possible for people to choose greener lifestyles and to provide advice and encouragement through our Act on CO2 campaign," said Environment Minister Joan Ruddock.

The survey comes days after the government said it may consider deeper reductions to its current carbon emissions target, which aims to cut them by at least 60 percent by 2050. The survey, the sixth since 1986, found that six out of 10 people said they knew a lot or a fair amount about climate change and many were willing to do something to help. But nearly half declared they would not make changes that impinged on their lifestyles and less than three in 10 said they had switched to using a more fuel-efficient car, cut car usage or taken fewer flights.

Contradictory responses also came through in a question on satisfaction with lifestyle, with nearly half replying they were doing enough to help the environment and only 40 percent prepared to do a bit more.

A separate consumer survey found people over 50 -- among the most climate-aware and affluent group -- were deeply suspicious of any government move to raise green taxes, viewing it as a money-making mechanism. People between 16 and 29, especially men, were most likely to say the environment was a low priority for them. They offered a range of reasons for not changing their lifestyles. The survey by Millennium, an agency specialising in marketing to the mature, found 84 percent believed the government was capitalising on climate fears to raise funds and also found little willingness among respondents to change lifestyles much -- if at all -- to benefit the environment. "Our research clearly shows ... the overriding sense of cynicism with which they approach those attempting to jump on the 'eco-friendly' bandwagon," said Millennium managing director Fiona Hought.

The DEFRA survey found there was an overriding sense of guilt about the environment. The most popular corresponding actions tended to be recycling, giving old clothes to charity shops or changing light bulbs. "The most encouraging finding in this survey is the majority of people believing that it's up to individuals to accept responsibility by making lifestyle changes," said Ruddock. "This is vitally important as 40 percent of climate change emissions come from our actions as individuals."


From the U.S. Democrats: Nostradamus Science wedded to Santa Claus economics

Sen. Barbara Boxer of California delivered a speech in the Senate last week in which she linked global warming to the San Diego wildfires, Darfur, the imminent loss of the world's polar bears and even a poor 14-year-old boy who died from "an infection caused after swimming in Lake Havasu," because its water is warmer. Forget arson. Forget genocide. Forget nature. There is no tragedy that cannot be placed at the doorstep of global-warming skeptics.

Oh, and there's no need to acknowledge that the regulations or taxes necessary to curb emissions by a substantial degree might damage economic growth. According to Boxer, laws to curb greenhouse gases - this country would have to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half over 12 years to meet the latest international community goals - will do good things for the American economy and create lots of jobs. It's Nostradamus Science wedded to Santa Claus economics.

It is rhetoric such as Boxer's - an odd combination of the-end-is-near hysteria and overly rosy economic scenarios - that keep me in the agnostic/skeptic global-warming camp.

Boxer and Sen. James Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that Boxer chairs, have been engaging in a running debate on global warming. Last month, Inhofe took on the Al Gore suggestion that polar bears are in peril because of global warming. Inhofe pointed to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services estimates that show the polar bear population at about 20,000 to 25,000 bears - up from the estimated 5,000 to 10,000 polar bears in the 1950s and 1960s.

Boxer rejected Inhofe's claim that there are more polar bears, selectively citing the "best-studied population" of Canada's western Hudson Bay that found a 22 percent reduction of polar bears from 1987 to 2004. Then she referred to a World Conservation Union prediction that the polar bear population will drop by 30 percent by 2050. Global warming is supposed to be about science, yet projections now stand as fact.

Bjorn Lomborg addressed the polar bear scare in his book, "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming." Of the 13 polar bear populations in Canada, the populations of 11 are stable or growing. The biggest cause of polar-bear deaths: hunters, who shoot an average of 49 polar bears in western Hudson Bay yearly.

By the way, Lomborg, a Danish professor of statistics, believes "global warming is real and man-made." I note this because, to the global-warming crowd, it is more important that you believe in global warming than that you curb your emissions. Which doesn't make a lot of sense. If you believe their doomsday predictions, you would think they'd care more about results.

Instead, the true believers laud Our Betters in Europe for signing the 1997 Kyoto global warming pact, while ignoring the fact that only two Western European countries (Sweden and the United Kingdom) are on track to meet their Kyoto goals. They laud former President Bill Clinton because he said he supported Kyoto and they bash President Bush because he rejected it. They don't care that Clinton never asked the Senate to ratify the treaty. Or that under Clinton, greenhouse gas emissions rose, contrary to the Kyoto goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Ten years ago, Boxer was one of 95 senators who voted in favor of a resolution that directed the Clinton administration not to sign onto any global warming treaty that exempted developing nations, or "would result in serious harm to the economy of the United States." Yet that is what Kyoto did. Boxer was right, then. Kyoto would have damaged the U.S. economy without curbing greenhouse gases to the extent activists say is needed.

Today, Democrats have abandoned all reason. They buy the worst-case scenarios and sell snake-oil economics. The air of unreality pervades the debate. It doesn't matter what you spew if you say you believe in global warming. You don't have to sacrifice. Fighting global warming will be easy and good for the economy. This isn't science. It's fantasy.



Yanzhou Coal Mining Co Ltd, China's third-largest coal producer by market value, plans to double its annual output to roughly 70 million tonnes by around 2012, with aggressive expansion offsetting lower production at its old mines. The company was investing two to three billion yuan ($268 million-$402 million) to develop new mines as part of the expansion, including a project with Thailand's C.P. Group in Shaanxi province, an official from the mine told Reuters at the company's headquarters on Friday . But Yanzhou's 2007 coal exports were likely to reach just two million tonnes, falling short of an initial target of three million tonnes, said investment relations officer Jin Qingbin.

China, the world's top coal producer and consumer, emerged as a net importer of the commodity for the first time in January and remained so in each month during the first half of the year, helping to push up global prices to record highs.

Asked about future exports, Jin said: "If the prices are good, we will increase our exports next year. Otherwise we may reduce them further from the current level."



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6 November, 2007


If the arctic is warming and the antarctic is not, it's hardly GLOBAL warming is it? The IPCC report on the subject has now apparently passed political vetting and a summary of it is below. The article notes the difference between the two poles but does not really try to explain it. But the difference is no great mystery. It is arctic sea-ice that has receded a bit recently. The land-based ice on Greenland appears to be stable or growing, just like the antarctic ice, which is also mostly land-based. So how come THAT difference -- between different parts of the arctic? Easy. Right underneath the sea-ice is the Gakkel ridge, which is showing a high rate of vulcanism at the moment. If you had a volcano under you, you would melt too


The Antarctic will be spared the worst of global warming and its ice mass could even grow, but the Arctic will be devastated by rising temperatures, a major new scientific report will claim. In contrast to earlier fears that ice around the South Pole will suffer widespread melting, the United Nations intergovernmental panel on climate change says that Antarctica's ice sheets will remain too cold for widespread melting before the end of the century and are expected to get bigger as more snow falls.

The Arctic, by comparison, will suffer widespread loss of sea ice while the Greenland ice sheet will have almost completely disappeared by the end of the century. Up to half of the Arctic tundra will be replaced by forests as temperatures rise by 4degC.

In two weeks the UN panel will publish its final, most authoritative assessment of the impact global warming is having on the planet and how it can be tackled. Its conclusions contrast with fears that Antarctica was already beginning to suffer the effects of climate change, with large chunks of the continental ice shelf breaking off in recent years.

In 2002, the disintegration of Larsen B ice shelf, an area a little smaller than Cornwall, sparked alarm among scientists that the ice was disappearing. Recent research has also shown that the ice - more than a mile thick in places - is thinning out.

The UN panel faces intense criticism from environmental lobbyists who say it is down-playing global warming. Prof David Vaughan, a glacier expert at the British Antarctic Survey, said: "There are a lot of differences from year to year in the Antarctic. Some climate stations show warming and some, like the one at the South Pole, show cooling. The jury is still out on what is going to happen."



The political and literary journal n+1 was the organizer of Tuesday night's panel discussion on environmentalism. Is the environmental movement, like the war on terror, premised on a "politics of fear"? In other words, does it try to unify people by scaring them with threats to their basic survival? That was the provocative thesis advanced by Alex Gourevitch, a doctoral candidate in political theory at Columbia University, at a panel discussion on Tuesday evening at the New York Public Library. He was confronted by vigorous dissent from his fellow panelists and from some members of the audience.

The panel discussion was organized by n+1, a political and literary journal published twice a year, begun in 2004. A. O. Scott, a film critic for The Times, wrote in 2005 that the journal "is explicitly and without embarrassment devoted to the idea that thought can advance." (The journal has attracted a following on Ivy League campuses and has also become a bit of an obsession for the blog Gawker.)

Introducing the panel, Paul Holdengr,ber, who directs public programs at the main branch of the library system, described n+1 as "at times vituperative and never pusillanimous, shrewd, smart and terribly opinionated and giving the opinion of being sure of itself." Benjamin Kunkel, a novelist and co-editor of n+1, who moderated the panel, said that Mr. Gourevitch's "great polemical essay" would be a centerpiece of the journal's next issue.

Mr. Gourevitch explained his thesis: Let's say it: Environmentalism is a politics of fear. It is not a progressive politics. When I say it is a politics of fear, I don't mean that it just deploys hysterical rhetoric or that it exaggerates threats, which I think it does. I mean it in a much deeper sense.

Mr. Gourevitch did not portray himself as a skeptic of climate change, but he argued, "What the science cannot tell you is what our political and social response should be." Science cannot determine whether humans should focus on mitigation or adaptation, he said.

Mr. Gourevitch quoted Al Gore as describing the climate change not only as the most urgent issue of our time, but also as a unique opportunity for current generations to affect the course of history. Mr. Gourevitch summarized this approach as "the thrill of being forced by circumstances to put aside the pettiness and conflict that so often stifle the human need for transcendence."

He added: Environmentalism is not just some politics. It's a political project, a full-bodied ideology, and one that presents itself in terms of progress and aspiration. But when you look at what this ideology is built on, it's built on the idea that a collective threat that makes security the basic principle of politics and makes the struggle for survival the basic and central aim of our social and political life. This, to me, is not a progressive politics at all.

Most provocatively, Mr. Gourevitch compared the environmental movement to the war on terror, which he said relies on a unity based on fear. He continued: What is it that moves us? It's not actually ideals. We're not stirred to action by ideals. We're compelled by the force of circumstances. It's the sheer spur of necessity that drives us forward. What's more, this ostensible politics is really an antipolitics, because the idea is that we should put to one side the conflicts of interest and ideals that are the real cut and thrust of politics.

The other panelists responded to Mr. Gourevitch's arguments. Chad Harbach, the managing editor of n+1, sympathized with some elements of the argument, but disagreed with others. He cited the Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, who has often argued that the development of new energy sources, and vast investments in research and technology, have the potential to create wealth and prosperity.


Pathological science

There is such a thing as pathological science. Science becomes unhealthy when its only real question --- "what is true?" --- is sabotaged by vested interests, by ideological Commissars, or even by grant-swinging scientists. Today's Global Warming campaign is endangering real, honest science. Global Warming superstition has become an international power grab, and good science suffers as a result. Freeman Dyson, one of the great physicists alive today, put it plainly enough in his autobiography:
"...all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. ... I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. ... They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in."
When the scientific establishment starts to peddle fraud, we get corrupt science. The Boomer Left came to power in the 1970s harboring a real hatred toward science. They called it "post-modernism," and "deconstructionism" --- and we saw all kinds of damage as a result. Scientific American magazine went so far as to hire a post-modern "journalist" to write for it. John Horgan became famous for writing a book called The End of Science, but never seemed to learn much about real science. It was a shameful episode.

The explosive spread of AIDS occurred when the known evidence about HIV transmission among Gay men was suppressed by the media. The medical science establishment did not speak up. HIV is most easily transmitted through anal intercourse, because the anus bleeds far more easily than the vagina. So one Gay man simply passes blood products straight on to the next. Sexually transmitted plagues have been studied scientifically ever since syphilis arose several centuries ago. We know how to limit their spread, but many Gay men have died as a result of political suppression of scientific medicine. The spread of AIDS was partly a self-inflicted wound.

Pathological science kills people and ruins lives. Such fake science is still peddled by the PC establishment in Europe and America. Global Warming is only the most recent case. Rachel Carson's screed against DDT caused malaria to re-emerge in Africa, killing hundreds of thousands of human beings. Those human-caused disasters have never been discussed honestly in the media, and rarely if ever in science journals. The DDT scandal is still suppressed.

In Britain, much of the alarmism about Mad Cow disease was never justified scientifically. It was pure, math-model-driven science fiction, just like Global Warming. But it was pushed very vigorously by the British science establishment, which has never confessed to its errors, and is therefore likely to make the same ones again. In politicized science, public hysteria actually builds careers; in real science, it tends to ruin careers. Years after the Brits realized that Mad Cow was a false alarm, the French admitted that Oui, Messieurs, we had ze Mad Cow, naturally, but we are not hysterique, comprenez vous? Besides, cow brains are a great delicacy, and one only lives once. Vive la France! Right across the Channel in Britain, farmers were required by law to destroy and bury hundreds of thousands of sheep and cows. It was an economic disaster, and all because of wildly alarmist science.

Britain is even more vulnerable to politicized science than we are, because medicine is controlled by the Left. That is a huge chunk of all science in the age of biomedicine. But the British Medical Journal and even the venerable Lancet are no longer reliable sources. Their political agenda sticks out like a sore thumb. It was The Lancet that published a plainly fraudulent "survey" of Iraqi civilian casualties a few years ago --- the only "survey" ever taken in the middle of a shooting war. As if you can go around shell-shocked neighborhoods with your little clipboard and expect people to tell the truth about their dead and wounded: Saddam taught Iraqis to lie about such things, just to survive, and the internecine fighting of the last several years did not help. The whole farce was just unbelievable, but the prestigious Lancet put the fake survey into the public domain, just as if it were real science. It was a classic agitprop move, worthy of Stalin and Lysenko. But it was not worthy of one the great scientific journals. Many scientists will never trust it again.

Pathological science has erupted most often in the last hundred years in the field of education, where "whole-word reading" fraud undermined the reading abilities of whole generations of American kids. Young adults can no longer tell the difference between "it's" and "its," even though their grandparents learned it in grammar school. The field of education is gullible and fad-prone, and is very unhealthy as a result. That's why new teachers are taught to peddle PC --- ideology is all they have.

Pathological science has erupted in fields like psychology and medicine, but not often in the hard sciences. In physics, Cold Fusion claims were discredited very quickly. Now, Global Warming is a fraud simply because climatology is not a hard science. That's what Freeman Dyson, who knows what physics can do, meant by saying that the models "do not begin to describe the real world that we live in."

The climate is not "just basic physics," as some people claim. Basic physics is great for understanding CO2 in lab jars and planets in space, but it has no complete accounting for a wooden kitchen chair, because wood is far too complex a material. Nobody has a complete physical understanding of wood --- there are too many different cellular layers, molecules, and unknown interactions, all produced by a genetic code that is just beginning to be understood. We only know the genomes for a few plants, and we don't know how their genes are expressed in cells and proteins. So forget about applying basic physics and chemistry to kitchen chairs. Plants and trees are hypercomplex, like the climate.

Modern science fraud seems to come from the Left, which makes it especially weird because the Left claims to be all in favor of science. Marxism itself was a scientific fraud, of course. In 1848 Marx and Engels claimed to have a "scientific" (wissenschaftlich) theory of history. They predicted that communism would first arise in England, because it was the most advanced capitalist nation. (Not) They predicted that centralized planning would work. (Not) They predicted that the peasants and workers would dedicate their lives to the Socialist State, and stop caring about themselves and their families. (Not). They predicted that sovietization would lead to greater economic performance. (Not). And then, when seventy years of Soviet, Chinese, Eastern European, and North Korean history showed Marx's predictions to be wrong, wrong and wrong again, they still claimed to be "scientific." That's pathological science --- fraud masquerading as science.

(Current Marxists are more anti-scientific, because they've finally figured out that the facts don't support them, but they still haven't given up their fantasy life. Millenarian cults never give up, even when the facts go against them.)

Scientists love to cite the historic "martyrs of science" --- like Galileo Galilei, a great genius who was forced late in life to recant his views on the solar system by Pope Leo X. Or Giordano Bruno, who was actually burned at the stake. But the scientific establishment itself can be easily seduced by power, just like the Church was in Galileo's time. Science is just done by human beings. So we get plainly political editorials in magazines like Scientific American and Science. They jumped on Global Warming superstition before the facts were in.

Last year MIT Professor Richard Lindzen published an amazing expose in the Wall Street Journal editorial Page. It is called "Climate of Fear: Global-warming alarmists intimidate dissenting scientists into silence." Why are real scientists not speaking up enough against the Global Warming fraud? Well, some have been fired from their jobs, and others are keeping their heads down:
"In Europe, Henk Tennekes was dismissed as research director of the Royal Dutch Meteorological Society after questioning the scientific underpinnings of global warming. Aksel Winn-Nielsen, former director of the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization, was tarred by Bert Bolin, first head of the IPCC, as a tool of the coal industry for questioning climate alarmism. Respected Italian professors Alfonso Sutera and Antonio Speranza disappeared from the debate in 1991, apparently losing climate-research funding for raising questions."
If scientists were totally honest, they would memorialize Trofim Lysenko just like they celebrate Galileo. In some ways, Lysenko's name should be as well-known as Galileo, as a stern warning of what can so easily go wrong. There are wonderful scientists, who must be honest, or they will fail. And then there are some corrupt scientists who are not honest. It's really that simple. Scientists can be demagogues, too. We should not pretend that all are what they should be. They're not. Fortunately, healthy science has all kinds of built-in checks and balances. Pathological science circumvents those.

Some scientists rationalize this corruption of their vocation by saying that people can lie for a good cause. The record shows otherwise. Fraudulent science and science journalism has led to AIDS going out of control; to DDT being banned and malaria gaining a new lease on life in Africa; to decades of famines in Russia; to children being badly mis-educated on such basics as reading and arithmetic; to end endless slew of unjustified health scares, like Mad Cow; and to a worldwide Leftist campaign cynically aiming to gain international power and enormous sums of money, based on a simple, unscientific fraud. When the truth-tellers in society begin to sell out and tell lies for some ideological goal, people end up dying.


Proposed U.S. Climate Bill Will Cost `Hundreds of Billions of Dollars' - Lieberman Concedes

The Lieberman-Warner global warming cap-and-trade bill (S2191) would cost "hundreds of billions of dollars" to the electrical and industrial sectors of the economy, Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) conceded today. Senator Lieberman made the remarks during today's Environment & Public Works (EPW) subcommittee markup on the bill. "It's hard to imagine that [Lieberman-Warner] will not cost - over time -- these two sectors (electric power and industrial), hundreds of billions of dollars to comply with the demands of this bill," Senator Lieberman said during the business meeting today.

Senator Lieberman, along with Senator John Warner (R-VA), is the co-author of "America's Climate Security Act." Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the EPW Committee, has already warned that the Lieberman-Warner bill is "real economic pain, for no climate gain." "The Lieberman-Warner bill will burden American families with additional energy costs and significantly harm the United States economy," Senator Inhofe said on October 18. "Senators are going to be asking the American people to pay more for home energy and pay higher prices at the gas pump for no climate benefit," Senator Inhofe added.

Inhofe also noted that former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan is very skeptical of cap-and-trade legislation. Greenspan wrote in his new book, The Age of Turbulence: "There is no effective way to meaningfully reduce emissions without negatively impacting a large part of an economy," Greenspan wrote. "Net, it is a tax. If the cap is low enough to make a meaningful inroad into CO2 emissions, permits will become expensive and large numbers of companies will experience cost increases that make them less competitive. Jobs will be lost and real incomes of workers constrained." Greenspan has also said: "Cap-and-trade systems or carbon taxes are likely to be popular only until real people lose real jobs as their consequence."

On Thursday, Senator Inhofe criticized the committee process for placing the Lieberman-Warner bill on a fast track. "This does not seem like a good faith attempt to conduct a thorough and collaborative process which is substantive. It seems like a staged process to create a sideshow at [the December UN meeting in] Bali at how far we've come in the U.S. Senate," Senator Inhofe said during today's subcommittee business meeting. "It is just checking the process box," he added.



It's happening, as it was bound to. As everyone in India is busy celebrating Dr Pachauri's share in the climate change Nobel prize team, a preliminary UN report is recommending that India and China accept some emission targets. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, said much the same thing in her keynote address at Davos last year, only nobody in India picked up on the significance then.

If policy makers are just tentatively beginning to state this kind of stand, think-tanks and activists in the West have already moved from the 'If' to the 'When' stage, and 'how can we make 'em do it'.

There cannot be any doubt about it. Climate change, as an issue, is most likely to become the next outsourcing backlash, the next big WTO type North-South divide, and eventually the next big anti-globalisation weapon that rich countries can point at developing ones.

And this will be far more of an 'imperialist' threat than any nuclear deal. Right now, the moral ground beneath our feet is shifting, and we're fast on the way to being seen as the 'bad' guys - but we don't seem to realise it.

Think it through. Give up cheap flights, give up the 30 layers of plastic packaging on a biscuit, the wasteful luxury that development brings? Voluntarily return to a poorer way of life? Why would anyone in any country want to? The natural human tendency is to point fingers and say 'Joe's not doing it either'.

Since nobody can make the US budge, or China, they're gonna point fingers at you, the poor garage owner in Jaipur, or you, the first-time air traveller from Chennai on a budget flight. The more this supposed 'threat' to their children's lunches and jobs from India and China is played up, the worse it's going to get. A couple of recent surveys and studies showed that across Europe, climate change is much less of a concern than globalisation.

Unfortunately, in India, even as we're busy patting ourselves on the back about how great we are, the tendency to blindly swallow-yes, I'm going to use that harsh word-any propaganda put out by western authorities, academics, and the media hasnsn't changed since colonial times. Instead, many Indians are now parroting it.

Read between the lines. There is a mass of media reports, public policy statements, studies, polls and reams of discussion put out on climate change in Europe and US. Behind a legitimate concern, there's an underlying current of bias, a clear and present spin that India and China should 'share the blame.'

Now, despite the fact that India's emissions are still a zillion times lower than any developed country's and likely to stay so for years, the argument that no global climate change initiative can work 'unless India and China participate', is accepted conventional wisdom. An assumption that China has forcefully and effectively refused to accept, buying itself that window of 20 or 30 years it needs.

The Indian official viewpoint is perfectly cogent, legitimate, and responsible; we want the rich countries to pay for cleaning up the mess they've made, and we'll try not to make the same mess as we grow. But what's the point if this stand is disseminated to only a handful of government officials? Nobody in the UK, for example, has any idea that in India, we already recycle everything, thrice over.

I haven't, in the reams that's put out in the European media, seen much that puts forward the Indian point of view - yet, in India every word dropped by any westerner makes headlines. A recent study by HSBC internationally showed that Indians are way more concerned about climate change than Europeans; it barely made it to any western media outlet.

Instead, tales of how polluting our vehicles are, how bad the energy efficiency record is, how many more cars and planes are plying, and how emissions will grow to dangerous levels in 2050 are routine. There's no point sounding sad and shocked if the UN puts out recommendations like this.

What Indian activists, authorities and think tanks need to do is recognise the dangers, and counter them. It's critical to go through the data, and all research, every bit of it, for validity. It's critical to do independent research from the Indian standpoint. Buy that little entrepreneur in Ulhasnagar with his diesel generator time until he can prosper, or someone comes up with a clean energy breakthrough, which nobody has so far, anywhere.

And India Inc needs to get into the act, they're going to be hit the hardest, and probably have the best resources to lobby internationally. Here is an issue that does need to be taken up, and our politicians just blather on about the nuclear deal, which might have helped us off this precipice. Oh, well.


Biofuel folly

In a recent Foreign Affairs article, "How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor," Runge and co-author Benjamin Senauer noted that growing corn requires large amounts of nitrogen fertilizer, pesticides and fuel. It contributes to massive soil erosion, and it is the main source, via runoff in the Mississippi River, of a vast "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico. (This year the dead zone, expanding with the corn crop, was the third-largest on record.) The article made the switch to corn ethanol sound about as smart as switching from heroin to cystal meth.

Biofuel subsidies might make sense, other critics say, if they favored "cellulosic" ethanol instead-fuel that comes from breaking down the cellulose in the fibrous parts of the plant, such as the corn stalk instead of the kernel. That wouldn't put direct pressure on food prices, and might even reduce them by providing a market for agricultural waste products.

Cellulosic technology is also the key to exploiting such nonfood plants as switchgrass, and it promises an improvement of more than 80 percent in greenhouse gas emissions compared with conventional gasoline. But while an experimental cellulosic ethanol plant is now operating in Canada, and several others are being built in this country, most experts say it will take years for the technology to become economically competitive. There are also political realities. "Corn and soybean interests haven't spent 30 years paying campaign bills" for national politicians, says Runge, "to give the game away to grass."

Even if cellulosic ethanol becomes practical, biofuels will provide at best only part of the solution to the problems of global warming and energy supply. That's because biofuels will never match the one thing fossil fuels do brilliantly: concentrating solar energy. A gallon of gasoline represents the power of the sun gathered up and locked away by about 196,000 pounds of plants and animals. To produce all the petroleum, coal and natural gas on earth, it took an entire planet's worth of plants and animals growing and dying over about 700 million years.

Switching to biofuels means getting our energy only from what we can grow in the present day, and that's not much. In the course of a year, an acre of corn yields only as little as 60 gallons of ethanol, after you subtract the fossil fuels used to cultivate, harvest and refine the crop.

So let's flash forward five years. Twice a month you swing by the biofuels station to fill the 25-gallon tank in your sporty flex-fuel econo-car. (Pretend you've kissed the SUV goodbye.) Even this modest level of energy consumption will require a ten-acre farm to keep you on the highway for a year. That might not sound too bad. But there are more than 200 million cars and light trucks on American roads, meaning they would require two billion acres' worth of corn a year (if they actually used only 50 gallons a month). The country has only about 800 million acres of potential farmland.

What if we managed to break out of the corn ethanol trap and instead set aside 100 million acres for high-yielding cellulosic ethanol crops? That's an attractive option to almost everyone outside the corn industry, including such environmental groups as the Natural Resources Defense Council. But it would still produce only about an eighth of the nation's projected energy consumption in 2025, according to a University of Tennessee study.

One other problem with the rush to "greener" fuels is that, despite the biodiversity happy talk, wildlife is already prominent among biofuel victims. Last year, for instance, farmers were protecting about 36 million acres through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which works to restore degraded lands, reduce soil erosion and maintain wildlife habitat. CRP land is what biofuel proponents often have their eyes on when they talk about producing biofuels and biodiversity by growing switchgrass. But farmers look at the bottom line, sizing up the $21 per acre they net with the CRP payment (to take a representative example from southwest Minnesota) against the $174 they can now earn growing corn. And they have begun pulling land out of CRP and putting it back into production.

Other countries are also rapidly surrendering habitat to biofuel. In Indonesia and Malaysia, companies are bulldozing millions of acres of rain forest to produce biodiesel from oil palm, an imported species. The United Nations recently predicted that 98 percent of Indonesia's forests will be destroyed within the next 15 years, partly to grow palm oil. Many of the new plantations will be on the island of Borneo, a mother lode of biological diversity.

Apart from the effect on wildlife, critics say Indonesia's forests are one of the worst places to grow biofuels, because they stand on the world's richest concentration of peat, another nonrenewable fuel. When peat dries out or is burned to make way for a plantation, it releases huge quantities of carbon dioxide. Indonesia, despite its undeveloped economy, already ranks as the world's third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, after China and the United States. When you add the peat effect into the equation, according to the conservation group Wetlands International, Indonesian palm oil biodiesel is up to eight times worse for the environment than gasoline.

Oh, and one final irony. The Christian Science Monitor recently reported that because of the way U.S. biofuel laws are written, foreign tankers loaded with Indonesian biodiesel can stop briefly at an American port, blend in a splash of regular petroleum diesel and qualify for a U.S. subsidy on every gallon. It's called "splash and dash," because the tankers generally push on to Europe to collect additional subsidies there. All in the name of greener fuels.

None of this means we should give up on biofuels. But we need to stop being dazzled by the word and start looking closely at the realities before blind enthusiasm leads us into economic and environmental catastrophes. We also should not let biofuels distract us from other remedies. Conservation and efficiency improvements may not sound as sexy as biofuels. But they are typically cheaper, faster and better at dealing with the combined problems of global warming and uncertain energy supply. They also call on what used to be the defining American traits of thrift and ingenuity.

And what about Pete Bethune, gallivanting around the planet in his powerboat and telling us it's easy to be environmentally friendly in this newfangled world? I think he must be kidding. Our brief infatuation with biofuels has already taught us, with every high-priced tortilla, that there is no such thing as a free lunch.



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


5 November, 2007

The deceit behind global warming

The article below has just appeared in Britain's largest-selling quality newspaper

No one can deny that in recent years the need to "save the planet" from global warming has become one of the most pervasive issues of our time. As Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, claimed in 2004, it poses "a far greater threat to the world than international terrorism", warning that by the end of this century the only habitable continent left will be Antarctica

Inevitably, many people have been bemused by this somewhat one-sided debate, imagining that if so many experts are agreed, then there must be something in it. But if we set the story of how this fear was promoted in the context of other scares before it, the parallels which emerge might leave any honest believer in global warming feeling uncomfortable.

The story of how the panic over climate change was pushed to the top of the international agenda falls into five main stages. Stage one came in the 1970s when many scientists expressed alarm over what they saw as a disastrous change in the earth's climate. Their fear was not of warming but global cooling, of "a new Ice Age".

For three decades, after a sharp rise in the interwar years up to 1940, global temperatures had been falling. The one thing certain about climate is that it is always changing. Since we began to emerge from the last Ice Age 20,000 years ago, temperatures have been through significant swings several times. The hottest period occurred around 8,000 years ago and was followed by a long cooling. Then came what is known as the "Roman Warming", coinciding with the Roman empire. Three centuries of cooling in the Dark Ages were followed by the "Mediaeval Warming", when the evidence agrees the world was hotter than today.

Around 1300 began "the Little Ice Age", that did not end until 200 years ago, when we entered what is known as the "Modern Warming". But even this has been chequered by colder periods, such as the "Little Cooling" between 1940 and 1975. Then, in the late 1970s, the world began warming again.

A scare is often set off - as we show in our book with other examples - when two things are observed together and scientists suggest one must have been caused by the other. In this case, thanks to readings commissioned by Dr Roger Revelle, a distinguished American oceanographer, it was observed that since the late 1950s levels of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere had been rising. Perhaps it was this increase that was causing the new warming in the 1980s?

Stage two of the story began in 1988 when, with remarkable speed, the global warming story was elevated into a ruling orthodoxy, partly due to hearings in Washington chaired by a youngish senator, Al Gore, who had studied under Dr Revelle in the 1960s.

But more importantly global warming hit centre stage because in 1988 the UN set up its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC). Through a series of reports, the IPCC was to advance its cause in a rather unusual fashion. First it would commission as many as 1,500 experts to produce a huge scientific report, which might include all sorts of doubts and reservations. But this was to be prefaced by a Summary for Policymakers, drafted in consultation with governments and officials - essentially a political document - in which most of the caveats contained in the experts' report would not appear.

This contradiction was obvious in the first report in 1991, which led to the Rio conference on climate change in 1992. The second report in 1996 gave particular prominence to a study by an obscure US government scientist claiming that the evidence for a connection between global warming and rising CO2 levels was now firmly established. This study came under heavy fire from various leading climate experts for the way it manipulated the evidence. But this was not allowed to stand in the way of the claim that there was now complete scientific consensus behind the CO2 thesis, and the Summary for Policy-makers, heavily influenced from behind the scenes by Al Gore, by this time US Vice-President, paved the way in 1997 for the famous Kyoto Protocol.

Kyoto initiated stage three of the story, by formally committing governments to drastic reductions in their CO2 emissions. But the treaty still had to be ratified and this seemed a good way off, not least thanks to its rejection in 1997 by the US Senate, despite the best attempts of Mr Gore.

Not the least of his efforts was his bid to suppress an article co-authored by Dr Revelle just before his death. Gore didn't want it to be known that his guru had urged that the global warming thesis should be viewed with more caution.

One of the greatest problems Gore and his allies faced at this time was the mass of evidence showing that in the past, global temperatures had been higher than in the late 20th century. In 1998 came the answer they were looking for: a new temperature chart, devised by a young American physicist, Michael Mann. This became known as the "hockey stick" because it showed historic temperatures running in an almost flat line over the past 1,000 years, then suddenly flicking up at the end to record levels.

Mann's hockey stick was just what the IPCC wanted. When its 2001 report came out it was given pride of place at the top of page 1. The Mediaeval Warming, the Little Ice Age, the 20th century Little Cooling, when CO2 had already been rising, all had been wiped away.

But then a growing number of academics began to raise doubts about Mann and his graph. This culminated in 2003 with a devastating study by two Canadians showing how Mann had not only ignored most of the evidence before him but had used an algorithm that would produce a hockey stick graph whatever evidence was fed into the computer. When this was removed, the graph re-emerged just as it had looked before, showing the Middle Ages as hotter than today.

It is hard to recall any scientific thesis ever being so comprehensively discredited as the "hockey stick". Yet the global warming juggernaut rolled on regardless, now led by the European Union. In 2004, thanks to a highly dubious deal between the EU and Putin's Russia, stage four of the story began when the Kyoto treaty was finally ratified.

In the past three years, we have seen the EU announcing every kind of measure geared to fighting climate change, from building ever more highly-subsidised wind turbines, to a commitment that by 2050 it will have reduced carbon emissions by 60 per cent. This is a pledge that could only be met by such a massive reduction in living standards that it is impossible to see the peoples of Europe accepting it.

All this frenzy has rested on the assumption that global temperatures will continue to rise in tandem with CO2 and that, unless mankind takes drastic action, our planet is faced with the apocalypse so vividly described by Al Gore in his Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth.

Yet recently, stage five of the story has seen all sorts of question marks being raised over Gore's alleged consensus. For instance, he claimed that by the end of this century world sea levels will have risen by 20 ft when even the IPCC in its latest report, only predicts a rise of between four and 17 inches. There is also of course the harsh reality that, wholly unaffected by Kyoto, the economies of China and India are now expanding at nearly 10 per cent a year, with China likely to be emitting more CO2 than the US within two years.

More serious, however, has been all the evidence accumulating to show that, despite the continuing rise in CO2 levels, global temperatures in the years since 1998 have no longer been rising and may soon even be falling.

It was a telling moment when, in August, Gore's closest scientific ally, James Hansen of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was forced to revise his influential record of US surface temperatures showing that the past decade has seen the hottest years on record. His graph now concedes that the hottest year of the 20th century was not 1998 but 1934, and that four of the 10 warmest years in the past 100 were in the 1930s.

Furthermore, scientists and academics have recently been queuing up to point out that fluctuations in global temperatures correlate more consistently with patterns of radiation from the sun than with any rise in CO2 levels, and that after a century of high solar activity, the sun's effect is now weakening, presaging a likely drop in temperatures.

If global warming does turn out to have been a scare like all the others, it will certainly represent as great a collective flight from reality as history has ever recorded. The evidence of the next 10 years will be very interesting.


Green Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

There is little more annoying for a policy analyst than when two types of wrong-headedness conspire to undermine his case. Such is the case for policies driven by the pursuit of a pesticide free -- or at least pesticide diminished -- future, which will cause an increase in insect-borne disease. When this happens, as it surely will, climate alarmists will claim it's due to your greenhouse gas emissions, not their policies, and will press for more stringent controls.

In mid-October, former Vice President Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize for his climate change campaigning. Two weeks later the United Nations Environment Program published its Global Environment Outlook, claiming the world was running headlong toward disaster by ignoring environmental problems, particularly climate change. Both announcements made numerous headlines, prompting myriad politicians to show off their green awareness and commitment.

Indeed, the same week the UN report was causing such hand-wringing, Members of the European Parliament were urged by environmental groups and Green MEPs to mandate lower pesticide use across Europe. The Pesticide Action Network Europe argues that children are most vulnerable to pesticide exposure and -- with laughable specificity given the paucity of data of any harm from such exposure -- claims children are 164 times more at risk from up to 13 organophosphate pesticides than adults.

Hiltrud Breyer, a German Green MEP, said that at 260,000 tonnes per year, Europe accounts for 25% of the world's consumption of pesticides. "We should show the red card to dangerous substances such as those which cause cancer", she said. "People in Europe don't want poison on their tables".

Breyer actually prepared the MEP's environment committee's official stance on the subject, in response to the European Commission's proposals to halve pesticide use. Inevitably, MEPs agreed to numerous measures that will make it harder to use pesticides in future. MEPs supported a general ban on aerial spraying of pesticides and heavy restrictions on the use of them near schools, playgrounds, parks, recreation grounds and hospitals.

In their well-meant desire to eliminate potential risks, MEPs have overlooked a stone-cold certainty. Infections carried by insects, especially malaria, are mankind's most successful killers. And unfortunately US officials preceded their European counterparts in ignoring the signals. When West Nile Virus arrived in New York around 1999, probably carried by a bird which had been bitten by a mosquito, widespread insecticide spraying of New York state, Connecticut and New Jersey would probably have controlled the disease.

Instead, officials dithered, as environmental groups protested, arguing spraying was more dangerous than the disease. West Nile virus has now spread to every state in the union (except Hawaii and Alaska). Over 700 people have died from the disease. Meanwhile, the only people who die from pesticides are those who use them recklessly or deliberately drink it to commit suicide; the same as can be said for kitchen cleaner.

Meanwhile, mosquito experts remind us that mosquitoes can survive almost anywhere. Professor Paul Reiter, of the Pasteur Institute in Paris gave written evidence to the British House of Lords of a malaria epidemic in the Soviet Union in the 1920s which had a peak incidence of 13 million cases per year, and 600,000 deaths. Transmission was high in many parts of Siberia, and there were 30,000 cases and 10,000 deaths in Archangel, close to the Arctic circle. Professor Reiter insists that the principal factors involved in the alarming increase in malaria are deforestation, new agricultural practices, population increase, urbanization, poverty, civil conflict, war, AIDS, resistance to anti-malarials, and resistance to insecticides, not climate - worrying about the weather is a tragic distraction.

Donald Roberts, emeritus professor of tropical disease at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Maryland, in evidence to a Senate Committee hearing in October, tried to explain these real risks. But the chairman Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was only interested in hearing how a warmer world would bring more disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Some MEPs and US legislators are surely old enough to remember that malaria persisted in many parts of Europe and US until the advent of DDT. One of the last malarious countries in Europe was Holland: the WHO finally declared it malaria-free in 1970. Unlike West Nile virus, malaria is easily spread among humans. Outbreaks are occurring with increasing frequency (notably in Virginia) and we may be neutralizing our capacity to protect ourselves.

Green self-fulfilling prophecies are upon us. Unless we expose them today, we will suffer at the hands of more dangerous policies in the future.


Global Warming and Nature's Thermostat: Precipitation Systems

Some excerpts below from a comprehensive article by by Roy W. Spencer, an expert on global temperature monitoring with satellites


Here I present a simplified (but hopefully accurate) explanation of the basics of global warming - call it a global warming primer. First, I will address the issue of how warm we are today, and some possible explanations for that warmth. Next, I'll briefly describe the Earth's natural greenhouse effect and global warming theory. Finally, I will explain the "thermostatic control" mechanism that I believe stabilizes the climate system against substantial global warming from mankind's greenhouse gas emissions. Some of what I will present is an extension of Richard Lindzen's "infrared iris" effect, support for which was published on August 9, 2007 (see August Research Update, above).

The bottom line is this: Precipitation systems ultimately control the magnitude of the Earth's total greenhouse effect -- which is mostly due to water vapor and clouds -- and those systems change in ways that offset the small warming tendency from mankind's greenhouse gas emissions.

Warming Over the Last Century

There is little doubt that globally averaged temperatures are unusually warm today (at this writing, 2007). While a majority of climate researchers believe that this warmth is mostly (or completely) due to the activities of mankind, this is as much a statement of faith as it is science. For in order to come to such a conclusion, we would need to know how much of the temperature increase we've seen since the 1800's is natural. So, let's examine current temperatures in their historical context. Over the last 100 years or so (see Fig.1) globally-averaged surface temperature trends have exhibited three distinct phases.

The warming up until 1940 represents the end of the multi-century cool period known as the "Little Ice Age" which was, historically, a particularly harsh period for humanity. This warming must have been natural because mankind had not yet emitted substantial amounts of greenhouse gases. Then, the slight cooling between 1940 and the 1970's occurred in spite of rapid increases in manmade greenhouse gases. One theory is that this cooling is manmade -- from particulate pollution. Finally, fairly steady warming has occurred since the 1970's. It should be noted that there is still some controversy over whether the upward temperature trend seen in Fig. 1 still contains some spurious warming from the urban heat island effect, which is due to a replacement of natural vegetation with manmade structures (buildings, parking lots, etc.) around thermometer sites.

Warming Over the Last Millenium

At least in the context of the last century or more, today's global temperatures are unusually warm. But when was the last time that the Earth was this warm?. You might have heard claims in the news that we are warmer now than anytime in the last 1,000 years. This claim is based upon the "Hockey Stick" temperature curve (Fig. 2) which used temperature 'proxies', mostly tree rings, to reconstruct a multi-century temperature record. That "warmest in 1,000 years" claim lost much of its support, however, when a National Acadamy of Science review panel concluded in 2006 that the most that can be said with any confidence is that the Earth is warmer now than anytime in the last 400 years. Note that this is a good thing, since most of those 400 years occurred during the Little ice Age.

But it turns out we don't need to use "proxies" for temperature like tree ring measurements -- there are actual temperature 'measurements' that go back over 1,000 years. Borehole temperatures are taken deep in the ground, where the seasonal cycle in surface temperature sends an annual temperature pulse down into the Earth. Dating of these underground temperature pulses from Greenland (Fig. 3) reveals much warmer temperatures 1,000 years ago than today.

Note that such methods for dating temperatures cause a smoothing of the signal in time; any enhanced warmth of individual decades would be smeared out. This is a fundamental problem with any comparisons of today's warmth with reconstructions of past climates. Those reconstructions can not resolve individual warm periods of 10 or 20 years duration. If we could see those past temperature spikes, which undoubtedly occurred during the MWP, our current warmth would seem even less significant.

Of course, there are also historical records of the Vikings farming in Greenland, as well as of the gradual cooling that led to the abandonment of those farms, and the appearance of icebergs that started posing a hazard to the Viking's travel by boat.

Thus, we see that substantial natural variations in temperature can, and do, occur -- which should be no surprise. So, is it possible that much of the warming we have seen since the 1970's is due to natural processes that we do not yet fully understand? I believe so. To believe that all of today's warmth can be blamed on manmade pollution is a statement of faith that assumes the role of natural variations in the climate system is small or nonexistent......

Precipitation Systems: Nature's Air Conditioner?

It is well known that precipitation is an important process in the atmosphere. Besides being necessary for life on Earth, all of the rain and snow that falls to the ground represents excess heat that has been removed from the Earth's surface during the evaporation of water. That heat is deposited in the middle and upper tropopshere when the water vapor condenses into clouds, some of which then produce precipitation that falls to the surface. After it reaches the surface, that water is once again available to remove more heat from evaporation, starting the cycle all over again.

I believe it can be demonstrated that precipitation systems ultimately control most of the Earth's natural greenhouse effect. Most of the atmosphere (the lower 80%, called the troposphere) is continuously being recycled through precipitation systems (see Fig. 7), on a time scale of weeks. Winds in the troposphere's 'boundary layer' pick up water vapor that has been evaporated from the surface, and then transport this vapor to precipitation systems, where an equal amount of vapor (on average) is removed as rain or snow.

Partly because precipitation systems cover only several percent of the Earth's surface at any given time, even most climate researchers do not appreciate the controlling influence these systems have on the climate system. All of the humid air flowing into precipitation systems in the lower troposphere ends up flowing out of those same systems, mostly in the middle and upper troposphere. (The only exception is thunderstorm downdrafts, which you have likely experienced before). That air flowing out has moisture (water vapor and cloud) amounts that are controlled by precipitation processes within the systems. This constitutes the direct effect that precipitation systems have on the Earth's natural greenhouse effect.

For instance, the cloud-free, dry air that is slowly sinking over the world's deserts got its dryness from air flowing out the top of precipitation systems. Eventually, that air will leave the desert, pick up moisture evaporated from the land or ocean, and be cycled once again through a rain or snow system.

Similarly, the cold air masses that form over continental areas in the wintertime are extremely dry because the air within them came from the upper troposphere after it had been exhausted out of a rain or snow system. If this were not the case, wintertime high pressure systems would not be clear and dry as is observed. They would instead become saturated with water vapor as they cooled, and would become filled with clouds.

Thus, we begin to see that much of the Earth's natural greenhouse effect is under the control of these systems. It doesn't matter whether they are tropical thunderstorms, or high latitude snowstorms, it is still the air flowing out of them in the upper troposphere that determines the humidity characteristics of the cloud-free regions everywhere else.

I want to make it clear that this average picture of how precipitation systems behave is indeed contained in today's computerized climate models. What I beleieve isn't contained in those models is what we are interested in with global warming: How do precipitation systems change the Earth's greenhouse effect in response to mankind's small addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere? This is where I believe the models are wrong...they amplify the water-vapor-plus-clouds greenhouse effect; whereas I believe that precipitation systems in reality do just the opposite...they slightly reduce the greenhouse effect to keep it in line with the amount of available sunlight.

...But There's More....

Precipitation systems' influence on the Earth's natural greenhouse effect doesn't end with their direct control over the atmosphere's humidity distribution. They also indirectly control cloud amounts in regions thousands of miles away. The heat trasported upward in precipitation systems largely determines the vertical temperature profile of the global troposphere. That temperature profile, in turn, exerts a strong influence on cloud systems. For instance, there are vast areas of marine stratus clouds in the lower troposphere that form over the eastern ends of the subtropical oceans where cold water wells up from below (see Fig. 8). Those clouds form because the moist air from ocean evaporation gets trapped below a temperature inversion (warm air layer).

But guess what causes that warm air layer? Precipitation systems! The air is unusually warm because it is being forced to sink in response to the air beeing forced to rise in precipitation systems by condensing water vapor.

[NOTE: Some scientists will claim that the sinking air forming the warm inversion is "caused" by radiative cooling, but this is incorrect. The only way for a deep layer of tropospheric air to sink in a statically stable environment is for it to be forced to sink -- which only happens in response to warm, moist rising air in precipitation systems. Radiative cooling no more "causes air to sink" that the cooling of a car's engine causes the engine to run.]

It should now be increasingly clear to you that we can not know how sensitive the climate system is to mankind's small enhancement of the Earth's natural greenhouse effect without understanding how the greenhouse effect is controlled by precipitation systems. Unfortunately, precipitation is probably the least understood of all atmospheric processes.

In a little-appreciated research publication, Renno, Emanuel, and Stone (1994, "Radiative-convective model with an explicit hydrologic cycle, 1: Formulation and sensitivity to model parameters", J. Geophys. Res., 99, 14429-14441) demonstrated that if precipitation systems were to become more efficient at converting atmospheric water vapor into precipitation, the result would be a cooler climate with less precipitation. Thus, precipitation systems have the potential to be, in effect, the Earth's 'air conditioner', switching on when things get too warm. The big question is, do they behave this way or not?

Precipitation in Climate Models

Climate model representations of precipitation processes are very crude. In fact, for warm air masses, the models don't actually grow precipitation systems. They instead use simple 'parameterizations' that are meant to represent the net effects of precipitation on the atmosphere in some statistical sense. There is nothing inherently wrong with using parameterizations to replace more complex physical processes- as long as they accurately represent those processes.

What we really need to know is how the efficiency of precipitation systems changes with temperature. Unfortunately, this critical understanding is still lacking. Most of the emphasis has been on getting the models to behave realistically in how they reproduce average rainfall amounts and their geographic distribution -- not in how the model handles changes in rainfall efficiency with warming.

But we now have new satellite evidence which sheds light on this question. Our recently published research shows that when the middle and upper tropical troposphere temporarily warms from enhanced rainfall activity, the precipitation systems there produce less high-altitude ice clouds. This, in turn, reduces the natural greenhouse effect of the atmosphere, allowing enhanced infrared cooling to outer space, which in turn causes falling temperatures.

This is a natural, negative feedback process that is counter-intuitive for climate scientists, most of whom believe that more tropical rainfall activity would cause more high-level cloudiness, not less. Whether this process also operates on the long time scale involved with global warming is not yet known for sure. Nevertheless, climate models are supposedly built based upon observed atmospheric behavior, and I challenge the modelers to include this natural cooling process in their models, and then see how much global waming those models produce.

A Summary, and the Future

Climate modelers and researchers generally believe that an increase in the greenhouse effect from manmade greenhouse gases causes a warming effect that is similar to that from an increase in sunlight. I believe that this is incorrect.

It is now reasonably certain that changes in solar radiation cause temperature changes on Earth. For instance, the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo caused a 2% to 4% reduction in sunlight, resulting in two years of below normal temperatures, especially over Northern Hemisphere land areas.

But the Earth's natural greenhouse effect (again, mostly from water vapor and clouds) is under the control of weather systems -- especially precipitation systems -- which are generated in response to solar heating. Either directly or indirectly, those precipitation systems determine the moisture (water vapor and cloud) characteristics for most of the rest of the atmosphere.

Precipitation systems could, theoretically, cause a much warmer climate on Earth than is currently observed. They could allow more water vapor to build up in the atmosphere, but they don't. Why not?

I believe that precipitation systems act as a thermostat, causing cooling when temperatures get too high, and warming when temperatures get too low. It is amazing to think that the ways in which tiny water droplets and ice particles combine in clouds to form rain and snow could determine the course of global warming, but this might well be the case.

I believe that it is the inadequate handling of precipitation systems -- specifically, how they adjust atmospheric moisture contents during changes in temperature -- that is the reason for climate model predictions of excessive warming from increasing greenhouse gas emissions. To believe otherwise is to have faith that climate models are sufficiently advanced to contain all of the important processes that control the Earth's natural greenhouse effect.

I predict that further research will reveal some other cause for the warming we have experienced since the 1970's -- for instance, a change in some feature of the sun's activity; or, a small change in cloudiness resulting from a small change in the general circulation of the atmosphere (such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, 'PDO'). In the meantime, a high priority research effort should be the study of changes in precipitation systems with changes in temperature -- especially how they control global water vapor and cloud amounts.

Fortunately, we now have several NASA satellites in Earth orbit that are gathering information that will be immensely valuable for determining how the Earth's climate system adjusts during natural temperature fluctuations. It is through these satellite measurements of temperature, solar and infrared radiation, clouds, and precipitation that we will be able to test and improve the climate models, which will then hopefully lead to more confident predictions of global warming.

Much more here

The End of Global Warming Alarmism?

The BBC has recently reported that a UN expert has condemned the growing use of crops to produce biofuels as a replacement for petrol as a "crime against humanity."

Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, former Policy Adviser to Lady Thatcher whilst she was Prime Minister, has just published "35 Inconvenient Truths" on major errors in Al Gore's film, together with other follow-up papers. See here

Last Friday in the US Senate, Senator James Inhofe gave a two hour speech on "Global warming alarmism reaches a tipping point", as we are "witnessing an international awakening of scientists who are speaking out in opposition to Al Gore, The United Nations, Hollywood elitists and media-driven 'consensus' on man-made global warming". See here

IPCC reviewer and climate researcher Dr. Vincent Gray, has ridiculed the IPCC process as "dangerous nonsense." In the past few months we have seen an unstoppable wave of scientists and experts who are now questioning and becoming sceptical of anthropogenic global warming.

But how soon will we see even a small percentage of the vast budgets being currently wasted on climate research, which could be used to provide safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, food and shelter, and HIV/AIDS reduction to save milions of lives now and in the immediate future?


Environmentalists don't like Halloween either

There's not much that people do that Greenies do like

The most frightening part of Halloween is what it is doing to our planet, according to some environmental experts. When you think of Halloween, the environment may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, the Nature Conservancy is out to make Halloween eco-friendly by publishing a segment on their Web site called "Green Your Halloween." "Green Your Halloween" warns against buying "chocolate that's unsustainably harvested, prepackaged costumes made of non-recyclable materials, lighted decorations that suck energy like a vampire and pumpkins trucked in from thousands of miles away."

Melanie Lenart, research associate for the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth, said too much waste is generated on Halloween, and people should take the time to reduce their purchasing of disposable items. "When you start packaging things individually, that just creates more waste, which goes in landfills, and that's a problem," she said.

The Web site encourages readers to buy pumpkins at local farmer's markets instead of ones shipped from far away because the environmental costs of food transportation are often overlooked. "Anything that uses gas or oil is increasing our greenhouse gases, which is increasing the problem of global warming that we're facing," Lenart said. "It's scary how much food is contributing to our greenhouse gas problem, when it doesn't necessarily have to," she said.

People can help the environment if they dispose of leftover pumpkins themselves by burying them in their yards, instead of throwing them in the garbage to be taken to a landfill. "About 25 percent of the nation's waste that goes into landfills is actually food products that could be composted." Lenart said. "Landfills create methane, which is a major greenhouse gas and about 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide."

The site also suggests an alternative to the traditional pumpkin carving: faces carved in peeled apples and soaked in one cup of lemon juice mixed with one tablespoon of salt. If the apples are aired for a week, they'll shrivel into deformed "shrunken heads," according to the Nature Conservancy Web site.

The Web site also warns against chocolate made from the mass-production of cacao beans, often grown with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. "Most conventional agriculture uses fertilizers and pesticides, which can be problematic," Lenart said. As an alternative, the Web site suggests homemade treats and provides links to other environment-friendly Halloween treats, such as National Geographic's "The Green Guide's healthy Halloween" (, and Endangered Species Chocolate (, which sells pesticide-free chocolate and donates 10 percent of its profits to help endangered species.

Because Halloween is all about the costumes, the site encouraged homemade costumes available at used clothing stores rather than the store-bought costumes that are non-recyclable and covered in packaging.

And if you want to take the extra step to raise awareness about environmental issues with your costume this year, suggests "10 eco-friendly costume ideas," such as dressing up like a compact fluorescent light bulb or even "global warming." "Green Halloween" also encourages people to limit the amount of lighted Halloween decorations they use, and encourages trick-or-treaters to carry a reusable tote bag for candy, instead of paper or plastic, which kill marine animals, pollute the environment, and kill more than 14 million trees annually.



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


4 November, 2007


An email from Hartwig Volz [] referring to this article

Dear Mr. Ollier,

With reference to your recent contribution, THE GREENLAND-ANTARCTICA MELTING PROBLEM DOES NOT EXIST, you may be interested in my correponence with James Hansen some years ago.

best regards
Hartwig Volz

From: Volz, Dr. Hartwig
Sent: Thursday, March 18, 2004 5:16 PM
To: 'James Hansen'
Subject: Slippery Slope

Dear Dr. Hansen,

Thank you for sending me your submitted climate change editorial. Your publications are always interesting reading, though I do not always agree.

One remark: many years ago I did a lot of "adventure travelling", also mountain and ice climbing in Greenland. From this time I vaguely remember the following: the sub-ice geomorphology of Greenland is kind of shaped like a saucer. This is the reason why most of the Greenland glacier can not escape by glacier surge, because of the natural sediment and lava barrier. The same is true for Vatnajokull in Iceland, the third largest glacier in the world. So this situation is different from e.g. the situation of the North American ice shield at the end of the last glacial. The top of the Greenland glacier is far too high and too cold to melt. More details you may find by googling e.g. "Greenland sub-ice geomorphology" or asking an expert directly.

best regards
Hartwig Volz
Celle, Germany

That famous Greenie openness to discussion (NOT)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is America's primary body for recording weather and climate data. What its scientists think about global warming is therefore of some interest. Steven Milloy decided to find out. He emailed the climate experts there a short questionnaire that enabled them to give their views in a few minutes. The reply he got back from Federal scientist Dr. Daniel Schwarzkopf was: "F**k you!" Such a high-powered intellectual! Any guesses about where he comes down on the global warming issue? Full details here (PDF).


Today, I should like to commend an interesting article by James Delingpole writing in The Spectator (October 31): 'Might I be a Marxist?' In this piece, Delingpole, who is, in essence, right wing politically, wonders why he now seems to share so many viewpoints with Claire Fox, who still describes herself as a Marxist, and who, for 20 years, was a core activist of the Revolutionary Communist Party and associated with the magazine, Living Marxism.

Delingpole observes tellingly: "Far more important is the way that global capitalism has won the political argument, rendering the old distinction between left and right almost meaningless. Today, the divisions that count are the ones between libertarianism and statism; between the hard-headed empiricism of the Enlightenment and the (currently more fashionable) touchy-feely romanticism of the New Age."

I could not agree more. This web site stands firmly on the side of libertarianism and the Enlightenment against the authoritarianism and Utopian romanticism of 'the state', both of Old Communism and of Fascism. What Delingpole is really concerned about is a resurgent Neo-Fascism, especially with respect to Islamism and "eco-fascist hysteria", among other issues.

That telling phrase, "eco-fascist hysteria", is not without historical precedent. In the 1930s and early-1940s, we heard such tropes before, and the context was extremely nasty. Although one must never tar with an unfair brush, the "touchy-feely romanticism of the New Age", to repeat Delingpole's neat description, leans too dangerously for my liking towards the language of Hitler's 'Green', Richard-Walther Darre (1895 - 1953), SS-Obergruppenfuehrer, and the leading Nazi 'blood and soil' theoretician, who was Reich Minister of Food and Agriculture between 1933 to 1942 and Reichsbauernfuehrer, National Farmers' Leader, for some twelve years.

In his many publications, including, for example, Das Bauerntum als Lebensquell der Nordischen Rasse (1928), Blut und Boden (1929), and Der Schweinemord (1937), Darre argued that it was the European farmer who had been the creator of European culture, and he proposed the formation of a Germanic 'aristocracy of the soil', rooted in the old agrarian community, which would be protected from, and be a bulwark against, the 'capitalist' (for which, read 'wandering Jewish') world, the "chaos of the market", and industrialisation. The movement was to be 'voelkisch' (nearly impossible to translate), with a romantic focus on folklore, the 'organic', and purity. Provocatively, he even placed the pig at the heart of this cult, a celebration of German peasant life, coupled with unsophisticated racism, and, above all, anti-Semitism. The process was to be progressed through Erbhofgesetz, entail farm legislation, which would tie the peasant to the land. Moreover, the Reich would seek autarky - self-sufficiency.

Inevitably, it didn't work, even in the ugly 'Fairy Tale' that was Nazi Germany, and Darre was soon in conflict with the Reichsbank, with the free market economics of people like Hjalmar Schacht, with the progressive, industrial side of Nazism, but, more importantly, with 'the peasants' themselves, many of whom were more than happy to turn 'capitalist', or who fled the land altogether. By 1939, Darre had lost Hitler's support, and he was sidelined under Himmler, but not before he had ordered Jews to be cut off from German food supplies, a crime for which he was given a five-year prison sentence at Nuremberg.

Does this ring some bells? First, there are resonances in the desperate protection of patently-inefficient 'peasant' agriculture from 'capitalism' by extremely heavy and costly EU subsidies at the expense both of the urban poor in Europe and of developing-world farmers. It is further worth noting that threatening political figures, like Jean-Marie Le Pen, draw much of their support from La France profonde and its ilk. I also think we must be ever-wary of the 'organic' concepts of purity, and of the persistent cry that 'local' farmers are a special 'aristocracy', a 'Country Life' defence against the evils of a globalising world. And one must even be cautious about the incipient autarchy behind such ideas as 'the local', 'food miles', and that dreaded neo-thumb(toe)screw 'carbon footprint'.

Above all, however, environmentalism, in its more eco-fascistic forms, clearly represents a new attempt to curb both liberty and capitalism. This is why its proponents are so desperate to terrify people about 'global warming', the ultimate "eco-fascist hysteria" (see: 'The Politics of Fear', October 31). 'Global warming' is the new 'evil', the scapegoat, the conjured excuse for increasing intervention into people's lives. As such, it is dangerous. In his book, Heat, George Monbiot is quite open about the aims, calling for "a campaign not for more freedom but for less."

Climate sceptics and realists, far from being 'Holocaust deniers' (a disgraceful hijacking of true horror and wickedness), could well be the precise opposite, a vital bastion against the iron fists of statism and Neo-Fascism.

Lastly, I must draw your attention to how Delingpole approaches 'Enlightenment values', a phrase much used by Claire Fox and her colleagues: "What they mean by this is what others among us might call 'good old-fashioned common sense': looking at the world as it really is, rather than as it ought to be; forming policies on the basis of what will actually work, rather than by trying to force square pegs into round holes; working with human nature, not against it."

As readers of this blog know well, I am all for down-to-earth common sense. A good read, Mr. Delingpole.



While it seems some leaders in Congress are willing to compromise with the White House on an energy bill, back-door wrangling could grind the measure to a halt, a prospect many conservatives and business groups wouldn't mind in the least.

The pending bills, approved with significant differences between the House and Senate, would put in place a number of unsavory regulatory measures that the White House has indicated the president would veto.

Particularly repugnant is a proposal passed by the House that would impose billions in new taxes on the oil and gas industry all in the name of developing more eco-friendly renewable energy resources. This harmful measure would repeal $16 billion in tax breaks for U.S. oil companies over 10 years, a move that will further drive up the cost of gasoline. While Democrats claim to support reducing U.S. reliance on foreign oil production, this proposal would handicap U.S. domestic companies against their foreign competitors by essentially double-taxing them beyond the substantial foreign taxes they already pay.

The Senate's energy bill would increase the corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, standards for vehicle mileage for the first time in more than two decades. It would also quadruple the use of energy alternatives like ethanol. Unfortunately, the average CAFE standard passed by the House is 35 mpg by 2020 for both cars and trucks, a stipulation that fails to take into consideration the vast physical differences among cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles. A much more sensible proposal has been offered by Reps. Baron Hill, Indiana Democrat, and Lee Terry, Nebraska Republican, that would create separate standards for different types of vehicles, acknowledging that trucks and cars require varying levels of fuel for operation. The Hill-Terry compromise was not adopted in the original House bill, but should a measure emerge out of conference, legislators should include this provision.

An additional measure further complicating matters is a provision in the Senate bill that would exponentially increase loan guarantees offered to companies seeking to build new nuclear power facilities. Wall Street is unwilling to grant these significant loans to a underdeveloped industry that has not seen a new plant constructed since the 1970s. Perhaps this controversial measure should be considered on its own merits in a separate bill, rather than further entangling the complicated negotiations surrounding these two bills.

Some analysts say the energy bill itself could wither this year, perhaps giving Democrats an opportunity for electoral grandstanding in 2008 if the bill dies. However, President Bush is willing to work with Democrats - energy policy was a major component of his State of the Union address - and congressional leaders should be willing to compromise as well.



Global cooling should be much more in evidence by then, anyway. So that will be a good excuse. Comment below from Australia -- discussing the vagueness of both major parties on the issue

THERE's one of two things happening out there on climate change. Either the Coalition and Labor are combining to pull the wool over our eyes on what we want from a Kyoto II global agreement - or they are positioning Australia yet again to walk out on a global deal. If you've been listening casually to this week's claims and counter-claims on climate change, you might well think that both sides have pledged that they will not sign up to any post-Kyoto agreement unless it requires developing countries to cut emissions. But it's not so simple. Listen closely to what they're saying, and it's far more vague than that.

Mr Rudd says Labor will insist on "commitments" by developing countries as part of Kyoto II. Mr Howard says developing countries must be "part of the agreement" so it "applies in an appropriate way to all the world's major emitters". A bit vague? Let's try their ministers. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says Kyoto II must "include obligations by developing countries". Fran Kelly on Tuesday on the ABC tried to get him to specify those obligations. "You have to take into consideration a number of factors here, but if everybody makes a reasonably equitable contribution to addressing the issue of greenhouse gas emissions - developing countries argue for a differentiated commitment - but if they all make a commitment nevertheless, then we should be able to get the balance right."

What did that mean? Kelly pressed on, and Downer kept fluttering away. "Well, there will be different approaches," he said. "The central point here is the challenge to get them to make a contribution ... We would not agree to an agreement where developing countries didn't make any contribution."

Why are they all so vague? Because they all know that the key developing countries are not going to agree to cut their greenhouse gas emissions for years, until they are approaching the levels the Western countries are at.

Look at the panel accompanying our news report. The US in 2004 pumped 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for each of its 300 million people. Australia pumped out 19.4 tonnes - yet China produced only 3.6 tonnes per head, Indonesia 1.4 tonnes (excluding forest fires), India one tonne and Bangladesh just 270 kilograms. Does anyone (apart from The Australian and the odd ABC interviewer) seriously think that China, India and Bangladesh are going to agree to reduce their emissions from these levels?

That's why their "commitments" will be token things. China's President Hu Jintao made that clear when he visited Australia for the recent APEC summit. China, he pointed out, has made commitments to reduce its energy intensity (the amount of energy used for each unit of output) by 20 per cent, to increase its use of renewable energy, to increase forest coverage to 20 per cent of its land mass, and so on.

That's all good if it happens. But as Professor Ross Garnaut has pointed out, China is growing so fast that it could reduce its energy intensity by 40 per cent by 2020 and its emissions would still more than double. Keep listening carefully, and hope that Howard and Rudd stay vague. Otherwise there will be no Kyoto II at all.



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


3 November, 2007


Ministers were accused of downgrading the drive to cut carbon emissions from Britain's transport network after revealing a long-term strategy for increased road, rail and air travel. Environmentalists said the strategy did too little to combat climate change, attacking the decision to allow further airport expansion and road building and widening.

A strategy document published yesterday by Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Transport, proposed backing London-style congestion charge schemes in major cities, but said plans for wider road pricing schemes remained "a decision for the future". It said that schemes to smooth the flow of traffic, including using hard shoulders, could cut emissions but said Britain needed a "targeted increase" in road capacity. Earlier this year, about 1.8 million people put their signatures to a Downing Street website petition opposing road charging.

The document called for aviation to be included in European emissions-trading schemes, but the document said there would still need to be "some growth in capacity" of airports. It said action was needed to reduce demand for short local journeys and said new technology could ultimately cut the majority of carbon emissions from cars.

It also attracted criticism for describing "goal one" as economic growth, while listing the fight against climate change as "goal two". Officials insisted that they attached "equal weight" to all five of their key goals for the transport system.

Tony Bosworth, the transport campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said in response: "Our view would be that climate change is the biggest problem the world faces and it must be the top aim for the Department for Transport."

He warned that the Government's policy was contradictory. "Urgent action on transport must be at the heart of UK efforts to tackle climate change. Some of today's proposals, such as more investment in small-scale local measures, are welcome, but continuing support for motorway-widening and airport expansion will increase emissions. If the Government is serious about tackling transport and climate change, its policy must be coherent, not contradictory."

John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, said: "When it comes to aviation and climate change this government becomes detached from reality.



Initiatives aimed at saving energy and reducing CO2 emissions could end up damaging the Government's climate policy instead, a new study claims. Scientists have found that new technologies designed to cut energy use could actually result in an increase. As an example they say a more fuel-efficient car which is cheaper to run can lead to the driver using it more often or on longer journeys. Or a householder looking for a new fridge might buy a bigger model because it is more energy efficient. In both cases some of the energy being saved is lost as a direct consequence of what is known as a 'rebound effect'.

The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) says in a new report that the resulting shortfall in energy savings could damage the Government's target of cutting energy use by 20 per cent by 2010. Scientists are divided over whether the rebound effect is significant but some believe that it can actually result in a net increase in energy use, which is known as 'backfire'. But the UKERC concludes the rebound effect is significant and cannot be ignored and it warns the Government that it must be factored into its climate strategy.

The report's chief author, Steve Sorrell, a Senior Fellow at UKERC, said the rebound effect had been ignored by experts and policymakers and had not even been mentioned in either the Stern and IPCC climate change reports or in the Government's energy white paper. "This is a mistake. If we do not make sufficient allowance for rebound effects we will overestimate the contribution that energy efficiency can make to reducing carbon emissions," he said. "This is especially important given that the climate change bill proposes legally binding commitments to meet CO2 emission targets. We need to get the sums right."

The report says that the rebound effect is hard to quantify because the evidence is diverse and hard to interpret but it was likely to have a bigger impact in heavier industries - such as steel making - than in domestic households where it was unlikely to exceed 30 per cent and was more likely to be closer to 10 per cent. But some modelling studies had predicted rebound effects of 50 per cent or more across the economy and half had also predicted the backfire effect where measures would actually lead to an increase in energy use. "We disagree with those who say the backfire effect is inevitable and we believe energy savings can be made without an overwhelming rebound," said Mr Sorrell. "Even if you lose 25 per cent you are still gaining 75 per cent and you can mitigate against rebound."

The report concludes that 'headroom' had to be built into policy targets to allow for the rebound effects, that energy prices should be raised in line with energy efficiency improvements and that absolute caps on emissions should be imposed.


Good old British hypocrisy alive and well in Canada

To understand Prime Minister Stephen Harper's policy on global warming, you have to appreciate the concept of doublethink from George Orwell's great political satire, 1984. Doublethink, as described by Orwell, is the ability to simultaneously "know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them ..."

It's only through doublethink that one can integrate the following two statements, which I thank Sun Media reader Chad Swan for bringing to my attention. First, this from Harper's Oct. 16 throne speech: "It is now widely understood that, because of inaction on greenhouse gases over the last decade, Canada's emissions cannot be brought to the level required under the Kyoto Protocol within the compliance period, which begins on Jan. 1, 2008 ..." Second, this from federal Environment Minister John Baird three days later as reported in the Globe: "We've been very clear. We have no intention of withdrawing from the UN framework, the Kyoto Protocol."

The reality is the Conservatives have already withdrawn from Kyoto. Logically, if you don't agree to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets, you have abandoned the treaty. To suggest otherwise is nonsense. To be sure, it's a continuation of the nonsense begun by the previous Liberal government that signed Kyoto and then did nothing to reduce actual emissions for almost eight years until they were thrown out of office. But it's nonsense just the same. However, talking nonsense when it comes to global warming -- or, if you prefer, using doublespeak that requires your audience to use doublethink -- is also smart politics, something both the Conservatives and Liberals understand.

In his book Heat, How to Stop the Planet From Burning, journalist George Monbiot, who believes man-made global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels is the greatest crisis of our age, says he fears that even as people become convinced of this, and of the enormity of the task that lies ahead in downsizing and simplifying our lives to combat it, they will engage in doublethink. As Monbiot writes: "Our response will be to demand that the government acts, while hoping that it doesn't. We will wish our governments to pretend to act. We get the moral satisfaction of saying what we know to be right, without the discomfort of doing it.

"My fear is that the political parties in most rich nations have already recognized this. They know that we want tough targets, but that we also want those targets to be missed. They know that we will grumble about their failure to curb climate change, but that we will not take to the streets. They know that nobody ever rioted for austerity."

Another example of doublethink was revealed this week when Canada's environment commissioner and auditor-general reported that despite 15 years of federal governments talking up "green" policies, federal government departments have done almost nothing to curb their own greenhouse gas and pollution emissions. Simply put, first the Liberals and now the Conservatives, the only two parties that have a realistic chance of forming a national government, are gambling that Canadians are talking a far tougher game on the environment than they're willing to play. My guess is they're right.



Almost nonstop, gargantuan 145-ton trucks rumble through China's biggest open-pit coal mine, sending up clouds of soot as they dump their loads into mechanized sorters. The black treasure has transformed this once-isolated crossroads nestled in the sand-sculpted ravines of Inner Mongolia into a bleak boomtown of nearly 300,000 people. Day and night, long and dusty trains haul out coal to electric power plants and factories in the east, fueling China's explosive growth.

Coal is big, and getting bigger. As oil and natural gas prices soar, the world is relying ever more on the cheap, black-burning mainstay of the Industrial Revolution. Mining companies are racing into Africa. Workers are laying miles of new railroad track to haul coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana. And nowhere is coal bigger than in China.

But the explosion of coal comes amid rising alarm over its dire consequences for workers and the environment. An average of 13 Chinese miners die every day in explosions, floods, fires and cave-ins. Toxic clouds of mercury and other chemicals from mining are poisoning the air and water far beyond China's borders and polluting the food chain. So far, attempts to clean up coal have largely not worked. Technology to reduce or cut out carbon dioxide emissions is expensive and years away from widespread commercial use.

"Not very many people are talking about what do we do to live with the consequences of what's happening," said James Brock, a longtime industry consultant in the Beijing office of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "The polar bears are doomed - they're going to museums. At the end of this century the Arctic ice cap will be gone. That means a lot of water rising, not by inches but meters."

Burned since ancient times, coal dramatically increased in use during the Industrial Revolution, when it became fuel for the new steam engines, gas lamps and electrical generators. Worldwide demand for coal dipped at the end of the 20th century, but is now back up and projected to rise 60 percent by 2030 to 6.9 billion tons a year, according to the International Energy Agency. Today, most coal goes to electrical power plants. In developing nations such as India, China and Africa, coal is the staple - and affordable - source of fuel with which families run their first washing machines and televisions. Worldwide electricity consumption is expected to double by 2030, the World Energy Council says.

In America, about 150 new coal-fired electrical plants are proposed over the next decade. In China, there are plans for a coal-fired power plant to go on line nearly every week. Emissions from these plants alone could nullify the cuts made by Europe, Japan and other rich nations under the Kyoto Protocol treaty, according to a report from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

In a developing country like China, coal is the backbone of the energy system. Look at the port city of Shanghai, where the bitter tang in the air is not from salty sea breeze - it's the smoke from coal-burning stoves in the suburbs used for cooking and heating. From the shacks of migrant workers on the edge of town to modern factories and skyscrapers, China's biggest city is powered by coal. Even the ultramodern Maglev railway line runs on electricity from a coal-fueled plant.

China mined a record 2.4 billion tons of coal in 2006, up 8.1 percent from a year earlier. But even that can't keep boilers and blast furnaces stoked in an economy growing more than 10 percent a year. So China became a net coal importer for the first time this year. While Chinese authorities are closing down older, heavily polluting plants, they can't keep up with a massive expansion in urban housing and industry and the coal that feeds them.

China is the world's biggest consumer and producer of coal, but it's far from the only one. U.S. coal production hit a record 1.2 billion tons last year, according to the National Mining Association, and is forecast by the government to rise 50 percent by 2030. Yet the United States rejected the Kyoto Protocol, arguing that the required emissions cuts could slow economic growth. For another measure, look at the ticker on the Web site of St. Louis-based Peabody Coal Co., the world's largest coal mining company, which tracks its growing sales second by second. Last year: 248 million tons sold. For 2007: On track for up to 275 million tons.

China's Shenhua Group is hot on Peabody's heels. On one day in June, a record 111 Shenhua coal trains left its mines in north-central China, the company said. Rising demand can be met because coal is the Earth's most abundant fossil fuel, with reserves expected to last some 250 years - far longer than forecasts for petroleum. And whether in China, India, the United States or Europe, coal is available at home, away from the instability of the Middle East. "The U.S. has under its own soil at least a 200-year supply of coal. China has a very long-term supply of coal," Steve Papermaster, co-chairman of the energy committee of President Bush's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, told a recent conference in Shanghai.

For several years, cleaner burning natural gas appeared a promising substitute. But soaring prices and worries over the reliability of Mideast and Russian supplies have dimmed the promise of that option. Alternatives such as wind and solar power are getting cheaper but still can't compete with coal. Most experts believe that whatever the costs to the environment and public health, coal is with us to stay. "The question is not about putting a line through coal and saying we're not going to use it," said Milton Catelin, chief executive of the London-based World Coal Institute, an industry association. "There's a future for coal. The developing world will have to use coal. They need cheap energy to get ahead."

The solution Catelin and others in the industry are pushing is clean technology, although they admit they are late to the game. "The decade 1997-2007 was a lost decade" for clean coal technology, Catelin conceded. "We should have done much more. Now we're playing catch-up." The need is clear. In the provincial steel town of Baotou, trucks heaped high with coal rumble into Shenhua yards, dumping their loads into huge sieves for sorting into various grades of quality and size. Wind gusts whip black soot into the sky, thickening the layer of smog from the city's smelters.

The U.S. and Chinese governments are subsidizing the development of technology that converts coal to a clean-burning gas before it is burned. But such plants still emit ample amounts of carbon dioxide, notes Qian Jingjing, an expert with the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York and co-author of the report "Coal in a Changing Climate." She and many other experts believe coal can only be made environmentally sustainable through the more experimental technology of capturing carbon dioxide emissions and storing them underground.

A joint government-private project in the United States aims to build such a "zero emissions" plant by 2012. Separately, Xcel Corp. of Minneapolis, a major electric and natural gas utility, is studying building a carbon capture and storage power plant in Colorado.

Across the Atlantic, the European Union may require carbon capture and storage systems for all new coal-fired power plants, with a proposal expected by year end. The gas would be buried in aquifers, depleted coal mines or geological faults deep underground.

But the costs are daunting. "It takes a lot of money since you have to go so deep," said Brock of Cambridge Energy Research Associates. "There is not one commercial carbon capture and storage project yet. It's yet to be proven." With such high costs, few utilities will embrace these technologies without a strong push or subsidy from government. The U.S. Congress is weighing several proposals, but their fate remains uncertain. The degree of public support for such policies remains unclear. Consumers may balk at having to pay more for electricity from "clean coal" plants, either through higher rates or taxes.

But there is growing awareness of the problem. In both the West and India and China, traditional utilities and new players are investing in wind and solar power. A subsidiary of coal giant Shenhua is building a 200-megawatt wind farm in the waters off China's east coast. "The goal is to raise both efficiency and turn to renewables while backing out of coal in the process," said Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, an environmental think tank in Washington. "The question is, can we move fast enough?"

Meanwhile, in Jungar Qi, the house-sized mine trucks rumble on, rushing their multi-ton loads of coal to railways and coal yards. The biggest landmark in the city - the two huge smokestacks of its coal-fired power plant.


My Nobel Moment


I've had a lot of fun recently with my tiny (and unofficial) slice of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But, though I was one of thousands of IPCC participants, I don't think I will add "0.0001 Nobel Laureate" to my resume. The other half of the prize was awarded to former Vice President Al Gore, whose carbon footprint would stomp my neighborhood flat. But that's another story.

Both halves of the award honor promoting the message that Earth's temperature is rising due to human-based emissions of greenhouse gases. The Nobel committee praises Mr. Gore and the IPCC for alerting us to a potential catastrophe and for spurring us to a carbonless economy.

I'm sure the majority (but not all) of my IPCC colleagues cringe when I say this, but I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see. Rather, I see a reliance on climate models (useful but never "proof") and the coincidence that changes in carbon dioxide and global temperatures have loose similarity over time.

There are some of us who remain so humbled by the task of measuring and understanding the extraordinarily complex climate system that we are skeptical of our ability to know what it is doing and why. As we build climate data sets from scratch and look into the guts of the climate system, however, we don't find the alarmist theory matching observations. (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite data we analyze at the University of Alabama in Huntsville does show modest warming -- around 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit per century, if current warming trends of 0.25 degrees per decade continue.)

It is my turn to cringe when I hear overstated-confidence from those who describe the projected evolution of global weather patterns over the next 100 years, especially when I consider how difficult it is to accurately predict that system's behavior over the next five days.

Mother Nature simply operates at a level of complexity that is, at this point, beyond the mastery of mere mortals (such as scientists) and the tools available to us. As my high-school physics teacher admonished us in those we-shall-conquer-the-world-with-a-slide-rule days, "Begin all of your scientific pronouncements with 'At our present level of ignorance, we think we know . . .'"

I haven't seen that type of climate humility lately. Rather I see jump-to-conclusions advocates and, unfortunately, some scientists who see in every weather anomaly the specter of a global-warming apocalypse. Explaining each successive phenomenon as a result of human action gives them comfort and an easy answer.

Others of us scratch our heads and try to understand the real causes behind what we see. We discount the possibility that everything is caused by human actions, because everything we've seen the climate do has happened before. Sea levels rise and fall continually. The Arctic ice cap has shrunk before. One millennium there are hippos swimming in the Thames, and a geological blink later there is an ice bridge linking Asia and North America.

One of the challenges in studying global climate is keeping a global perspective, especially when much of the research focuses on data gathered from spots around the globe. Often observations from one region get more attention than equally valid data from another.

The recent CNN report "Planet in Peril," for instance, spent considerable time discussing shrinking Arctic sea ice cover. CNN did not note that winter sea ice around Antarctica last month set a record maximum (yes, maximum) for coverage since aerial measurements started. Then there is the challenge of translating global trends to local climate. For instance, hasn't global warming led to the five-year drought and fires in the U.S. Southwest?

Not necessarily. There has been a drought, but it would be a stretch to link this drought to carbon dioxide. If you look at the 1,000-year climate record for the western U.S. you will see not five-year but 50-year-long droughts. The 12th and 13th centuries were particularly dry. The inconvenient truth is that the last century has been fairly benign in the American West. A return to the region's long-term "normal" climate would present huge challenges for urban planners.

Without a doubt, atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing due primarily to carbon-based energy production (with its undisputed benefits to humanity) and many people ardently believe we must "do something" about its alleged consequence, global warming. This might seem like a legitimate concern given the potential disasters that are announced almost daily, so I've looked at a couple of ways in which humans might reduce CO2 emissions and their impact on temperatures.

California and some Northeastern states have decided to force their residents to buy cars that average 43 miles-per-gallon within the next decade. Even if you applied this law to the entire world, the net effect would reduce projected warming by about 0.05 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, an amount so minuscule as to be undetectable. Global temperatures vary more than that from day to day.

Suppose you are very serious about making a dent in carbon emissions and could replace about 10% of the world's energy sources with non-CO2-emitting nuclear power by 2020 -- roughly equivalent to halving U.S. emissions. Based on IPCC-like projections, the required 1,000 new nuclear power plants would slow the warming by about 0.2 ?176 degrees Fahrenheit per century. It's a dent.

But what is the economic and human price, and what is it worth given the scientific uncertainty?

My experience as a missionary teacher in Africa opened my eyes to this simple fact: Without access to energy, life is brutal and short. The uncertain impacts of global warming far in the future must be weighed against disasters at our doorsteps today. Bjorn Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus 2004, a cost-benefit analysis of health issues by leading economists (including three Nobelists), calculated that spending on health issues such as micronutrients for children, HIV/AIDS and water purification has benefits 50 to 200 times those of attempting to marginally limit "global warming."

Given the scientific uncertainty and our relative impotence regarding climate change, the moral imperative here seems clear to me.



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


2 November, 2007


There is a yawning gap between the models and reality

By Cliff Ollier, School of Earth and Geographical Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia []

My attention was drawn to a Working Paper by Alan Carlin (1) which was basically about how emissions reductions may be a dangerous strategy to avoid climate change. Much of his perceived threat is based on papers by Hansen (2007) and others who propose rapid melting of the Greenland and West Antarctica (henceforth Antarctica) Ice Sheets that causes a sea level rise of 5 m or more.


Hansen is a modeller, and his scenario for the collapse of the ice sheets is based on a false model. Hansen has a model of an ice sheet sliding along an inclined plane, lubricated by meltwater, which is itself increasing because of global warming. The same model is adopted in many copy-cat papers. Christoffersen and Hambrey (2006) and Bamber et al. (2007). are typical papers, a popular article based on the same flawed model appeared in the June 2007 issue of National Geographic, and the idea is present in textbooks such as The Great Ice Age (2000) by R.C.L. Wilson et al.

Hanson's model, unfortunately, includes neither the main form of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets, nor an understanding of how glaciers flow. The predicted behaviour of the ice sheets is based on melting and accumulation rates at the present day, and on the concept of an ice sheet sliding down an inclined plane on a base lubricated by meltwater, which is itself increasing because of global warming. The idea of a glacier sliding downhill on a base lubricated by meltwater seemed a good idea when first presented by de Saussure in 1779, but a lot has been learned since then.

It is not enough to think that present climate over a few decades can affect the flow of ice sheets. Ice sheets do not simply grow and melt in response to average global temperature. Anyone with this naive view would have difficulty in explaining why glaciation has been present in the southern hemisphere for about 30 million years, and in the northern hemisphere for only 3 million years. To understand what is possible it is necessary to know something about the physics of glacier flow, which explains a few things not accounted for in the Hansen model, including:

* Why are ice crystals at the foot of a glacier a thousand times bigger than those in the snow that feeds them?
* Why does lake ice deform at lower stress than other ice?
* Why do crevasses only reach a limiting depth?

In reality the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets occupy deep basins, and cannot slide down a plane. Furthermore glacial flow depends on stress (including the important yield stress) as well as temperature, and much of the ice sheets is well below melting point. The accumulation of kilometres of undisturbed ice in cores in Greenland and Antarctica (the same ones that are sometimes used to fuel ideas of global warming) show hundreds of thousands of years of accumulation with no melting or flow. Except around the edges, ice sheets flow at the base, and depend on geothermal heat, not the climate at the surface. It is impossible for the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to `collapse'.

A glacier budget

In general glaciers grow, flow and melt continuously, with a budget of gains and losses. Snow falls on high ground. It becomes more and more compact with time, air is extruded, and it turns into solid ice. A few bubbles of air might be trapped, and may be used by scientists later to examine the air composition at the time of deposition. More precipitation of snow forms another layer on the top, which goes through the same process, so the ice grows thicker by the addition of new layers at the surface. The existence of such layers, youngest at the top, enables the glacial ice to be studied through time, as in the Vostok cores of Antarctica, a basic source of data on temperature and carbon dioxide over about 400,000 years.

When the ice is thick enough it starts to flow under the force of gravity. A mountain glacier flows mainly downhill, but can flow uphill in places. In an ice sheet the flow is from the depositional high centre towards the edges of the ice sheet. When the ice reaches a lower altitude or lower latitude where temperature is higher it starts to melt and evaporate. (Evaporation and melting together are called ablation, but for simplicity I shall use `melting' from now on).

If growth and melting balance, the glacier appears to be `stationary'. If precipitation exceeds melting the glacier grows. If melting exceeds precipitation the glacier recedes.

How glaciers move

Flow is mainly by a process called creep, essentially the movement of atoms from one crystal to another. The first clues to this came from the study of lake ice, which can flow at a stress much below the shear strength of `regular' ice if the stress is applied parallel to the lake surface. This results from the crystal properties of ice. Ice is a hexagonal mineral with glide planes parallel to the base. Lake ice is a sheet of crystals with the c-axes vertical and the glide planes all parallel to the lake surface, so a push parallel to the glide planes deforms the ice readily. Much greater stress is needed to deform ice perpendicular to the glide planes.

Another method of flow is important in `regular' ice. There is constant gain-and-loss of atoms between different crystals in a mass of ice, and in the absence of any stress an individual grain of ice will lose about the same number of atoms that it gains, and so remain unchanged. But if a crystal is stressed it will lose more atoms than it gains and so shrink, while a nearby unstressed grain will gain more than it loses and so grow. In this way there will be preferential growth of those ice crystals which are oriented in such a way that their glide planes are parallel to the stress, and grains in other orientations will tend to disappear. This is observed in glaciers, where it is found that a preferred crystal orientation appears with distance down-valley, and the ice crystals at a glacier snout have a volume about a thousand times greater than that of the first-formed ice crystals at the source of the glacier. These observations cannot be explained by mechanisms that ignore the crystal structure of ice.

The flow of material in a solid crystalline state is known as creep, and there are three laws of creep relevant to the flow of ice:

1. Creep is proportional to temperature.
2. Creep is proportional to stress (essentially proportional to the weight of overlying ice)
3. There is a minimum stress, called the yield stress, below which creep does not operate.

All these laws have significant effects on glacier movement. Alpine glaciers differ significantly from the ice caps of Greenland and Antarctica, and care is needed to transfer knowledge of one kind of glacier to the other. Incidentally, the physics of ice as described here was worked out over 60 years ago, by people such as Perutz (1940)

Creep is proportional to temperature

The closer the temperature comes to the melting point the greater the creep rate. In experiments at a fixed stress it was found that the creep rate at -1oC is 1000 times greater than at -20oC. In valley glaciers the ice is almost everywhere at the prevailing melting point of ice, because the latent heat of ice is very much greater than its specific heat. Very little heat is required to raise the temperature of an ice block from -1oC to 0oC; it takes about 80 times as much heat to turn the same ice block at 0oC into water at 0oC. Since the temperature does not vary in valley glaciers they are not affected by this first law of creep.

But ice caps are very different. They are cooled to temperatures well below freezing point, which reduces their capacity to flow very greatly. Ice caps can be kilometres thick, and their warmest part is actually the base, where the ice is warmed by the Earth's heat, and where flow is concentrated. The drilling of the Northern Greenland Ice Core Project (NGRIP) was stopped by relatively high temperatures near the base and new equipment had to be designed to drill the core from 3001 m to 3085 m. It is because ice only flows at the base that great thicknesses of stratified ice can accumulate, as revealed in the ice cores.

Some Greenland cores show no flow at all. This is cold-based ice. A large geomorphology literature describes delicate landforms such as tors and patterned ground in areas that were formerly covered by an ice sheet. The general view is that cold-based ice essentially preserves any pre-existing landforms, and the erosion potential of cold-based ice is zero or minimal. Importantly for ideas of `collapse', the ice is not sliding: it is not moving at all.

Greenland differs from Antarctica in that the ice sheet spills out through gaps in the mountain rim, and the glaciers overlie deep narrow valleys. According to van der Veen et al. (2007) such valleys have higher than usual geothermal gradients, so it might be geothermal heat, rather than global warming, that causes some Greenland glaciers to have higher than usual flow rates. The overspills have some of the characteristics of alpine glaciers, where evidence of glacier recession is more obvious.

Creep is proportional to stress (essentially proportional to the weight of overlying ice)

This means that the thicker the ice the faster the flow, but a great stress is required if the ice is very cold. This is shown by the huge thicknesses of undisturbed ice revealed by the ice cores that are used to work out palaeoclimates. In Antarctica, in the Vostok cores the undisturbed ice that provides the desired information continued to a depth of 3310 m or 414,000 years, but below this the ice starts to be deformed.

There is a minimum stress, the yield stress, below which creep does not operate. At the surface there is no stress, so the ice does not flow: at a certain depth the weight of ice is sufficient to cause flow, and all the ice below this limit must flow. The threshold boundary between non-flowing ice and flowing ice marks the yield stress level. The upper, brittle ice is a solid being carried along on plastic ice beneath. Since the flow is uneven the solid, brittle ice is broken up by a series of cracks called crevasses. The base of crevasses marks the position of the yield stress and the transition from brittle to plastic ice.

In Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets crevasses occur towards the edges, where the ice is flowing, but not in the areas of accumulation. In the middle of the ice sheets there are no crevasses to transmit meltwater to the base of the ice sheet, even if it were present (which is impossible).

Some results of the laws of glacier flow

These simple rules of creep allow us to understand some observations on glaciers

Glacial surges

The speed of valley glaciers has been measured for a long time, and is rather variable. Sometimes a valley will flow several times faster than it did earlier. Suppose we had a period of a thousand years of heavy precipitation. This would cause a thickening of the ice, and more rapid glacial flow. The pulse of more rapid flow would eventually pass down the valley. It is important to understand that the increase in flow rate is not related to present day air temperature, but to increased precipitation long ago.

Melting and climate

On July 21, 1983, the lowest reliably measured temperature ever recorded on Earth was at Vostok with ?89.2 øC. The highest recorded temperature at Vostok is -19o C, which occurred in January 1992, and during the month of July 1987 the temperature never rose above -72.2o C. At these temperatures ice cannot flow under the pressures that prevail near the surface. Warming has no effect at such low temperatures: ice will not flow faster at -60oC than at -70o C.

Ice sheets may take many thousands of years to flow from the accumulation area to the melting area. The balance between movement and melting therefore does not relate simply to today's climate, but to the climate thousands of years ago.

Glaciers and precipitation

Glaciers and ice sheets are in a state of quasi-equilibrium, governed by rates of melting and rates of accumulation. For a glacier to maintain its present size it must have precipitation as snowfall at its source. This leads to a slightly complex relationship with temperature. If the regional climate becomes too dry, there will be no precipitation, so the glacier will diminish. This could happen if the region became cold enough to reduce evaporation from the ocean. If temperatures rise, evaporation is enhanced and so therefore is snowfall. Paradoxically a regional rise of temperature may lead to increased growth of glaciers and ice sheets. Today, for example, the ice sheets of both Antarctica and Greenland are growing by accumulation of snow.

The age of ice sheets

In the Greenland ice sheet several cores have over 3 km of undisturbed ice which go back in time for over 105,000 years, much less than the Antarctic equivalent. The Vostok cores in Antarctica provide data for the past 414,000 years before the ice starts to be deformed. Dome F core reached 3035 m and Dome C core 3309 m, and both date back to 720,000 years. The Epica core in Antarctica goes back to 760,000 years, as does the Guliya core in Tibet. But what is more important than the age is that vast thicknesses of ice are preserved, and they retain complete records of deposition, in spite of the fact that temperatures at times during that period have been warmer than now. They do not fit the model of surface melting, even infrequently. After three quarters of a million years of documented continuous accumulation, how can we believe that right now the world's ice sheets are collapsing!

The collapse of ice sheets

Some of the present-day claims that ice sheets `collapse' are based on false concepts. Ice sheets do not melt from the surface down - only at the edges. Once the edges are lost, further loss depends on the rate of flow of the ice. The rate of flow of an ice sheet does not depend on the present climate, but on the amount of ice already accumulated, and that will keep it flowing for a very long time. It is possible that any increase in temperature will cause increased snowfall thereby nourishing the growth of the ice sheet, not diminishing it.

The very ice cores that are used to determine climates over the past 400,000 years also show that the ice sheet has grown over that period by accumulation of stratigraphic layers of snow, and has not been deformed or remelted. The mechanism portrayed by Christoffersen and Hambrey (2006), of meltwater lakes on the surface finding their way down through cracks in the ice and lubricating the bottom of the glacier is not compatible with accumulation of undisturbed snow layers. It might conceivably work on valley glaciers, but it tells us nothing of the `collapse' of ice sheets.


The global warming doomsday writers claim the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are melting catastrophically, and will cause a sudden rise in sea level of 5 or more metres. This ignores the mechanism of glacier flow which is by creep. Glaciers are not melting from the surface down, nor are they sliding down an inclined plane lubricated by meltwater. The existence of ice over 3 km thick preserving details of past snowfall and atmospheres, used to decipher past temperature and CO2 levels, shows that the ice sheets have accumulated for hundreds of thousands of years without melting. Variations in melting around the edges of ice sheets are no indication that they are collapsing. Indeed `collapse' is impossible.


Appenzeller, T. 2006. The Big Thaw. National Geographic, June 2007. 56-71.

Bamber, J.L., Alley, R.B. and Joughin, I. 2007. Rapid response of modern day ice sheets to external forcing. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 257, 1-13.

Carlin, A. 2007. NCEE Working Paper #07-07.

Christoffersen, P. & Hambrey, M.J. 2006. Is the Greenland Ice Sheet in a state of collapse? Geology Today, v.22, pp. 98-103.

De Saussure, H-B. 1779-1796. Voyages dans les Alpes.(4 volumes) Manget, Geneva.

Hansen, J. 2007. Scientific reticence and sea level rise. Environmental Research Letters, May 24.

M.F. Perutz. Mechanism of glacier flow. Proc.Phys.Soc., 52, 132-135, 1940.

van der Veen, C.J., Leftwich, T., von Frese, R., Csatho, B.M. & Li, J. 2007. Subglacial topography and geothermal heat flux: Potential interactions with drainage of the Greenland ice sheet, Geophysical Research Letters, v.34, LI2501, doi:10.1029/2007 GL030046.


Vincent Gray has begun a second career as a climate-change activist. His motivation springs from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body that combats global warming by advocating the reduction of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Dr. Gray has worked relentlessly for the IPCC as an expert reviewer since the early 1990s.

But Dr. Gray isn't an activist in the cause of enforcing the Kyoto Protocol and realizing the other goals of the worldwide IPCC process. To the contrary, Dr. Gray's mission, in his new role as cofounder of The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, is to stop the IPCC from spreading climate-change propaganda that undermines the integrity of science.

"The whole process is a swindle," he states, in large part because the IPCC has a blinkered mandate that excludes natural causes of global warming. "The Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) 1992 defined 'climate change' as changes in climate caused by human interference with atmospheric composition," he explains. "The task of the IPCC, therefore, has been to accumulate evidence to support this belief that all changes in the climate are caused by human interference with the atmosphere. Studies of natural climate change have largely been used to claim that these are negligible compared with 'climate change.' "

Dr. Gray is one of the 2,000 to 2,500 top scientists from around the world whom the IPCC often cites as forming the basis of its findings. No one has been a more faithful reviewer than Dr. Gray over the years -- he has been an IPCC expert almost from the start, and perhaps its most prolific contributor, logging almost 1,900 comments on the IPCC's final draft of its most recent report alone.

But Dr. Gray, who knows as much about the IPCC's review processes as anyone, has been troubled by what he sees as an appalling absence of scientific rigour in the IPCC's review process. "Right from the beginning, I have had difficulty with this procedure. Penetrating questions often ended without any answer. Comments on the IPCC drafts were rejected without explanation, and attempts to pursue the matter were frustrated indefinitely.

"Over the years, as I have learned more about the data and procedures of the IPCC, I have found increasing opposition by them to providing explanations, until I have been forced to the conclusion that for significant parts of the work of the IPCC, the data collection and scientific methods employed are unsound. Resistance to all efforts to try and discuss or rectify these problems has convinced me that normal scientific procedures are not only rejected by the IPCC, but that this practice is endemic, and was part of the organization from the very beginning."

Dr. Gray has detailed extensively the areas in which global warming science falls down. One example that this New Zealander provides comes from his region of the globe: "We are told that the sea level is rising and will soon swamp all of our cities. Everybody knows that the Pacific island of Tuvalu is sinking. Al Gore told us that the inhabitants are invading New Zealand because of it.

"Around 1990 it became obvious that the local tide-gauge did not agree -- there was no evidence of 'sinking.' So scientists at Flinders University, Adelaide, were asked to check whether this was true. They set up new, modern, tide-gauges in 12 Pacific islands, including Tuvalu, confident that they would show that all of them are sinking. "Recently, the whole project was abandoned as there was no sign of a change in sea level at any of the 12 islands for the past 16 years. In 2006, Tuvalu even rose."

Other expert reviewers at the IPCC, and scientists elsewhere around the globe, share Dr. Gray's alarm at the conduct of the IPCC. An effort by academics is now underway to reform this UN organization, and have it follow established scientific norms. Dr. Gray was asked to endorse this reform effort, but he refused, saying: "The IPCC is fundamentally corrupt. The only 'reform' I could envisage would be its abolition."

CV OF A DENIER: Vincent Gray is a graduate of the University of Cambridge, with a PhD in physical chemistry. He has published more than 100 scientific papers and authored the book, The Greenhouse Delusion: A Critique of 'Climate Change 2001.' Dr. Gray has participated in all of the science reviews of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and in 2006 was a visiting scholar at the Beijing Climate Center.



We have repeatedly been assured that global warming causes hurricanes so surely the falloff in hurricanes proves cooling!

As tropical storm Noel heads for the U.S., we recall how we were warned that global warming would increase the number and power of hurricanes. Yet the 2007 season is the mildest in 30 years.

In his propaganda film "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore popularized the notion that, due to man's use of carbon-based fuels, we are asking for a "planetary emergency" that includes stronger and more frequent hurricanes. Gore's no scientist, but some who carry the title agree with him.

"The global warming influence provides a new background level that increases the risk of future enhancements in hurricane activity," Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research said in June 2006.

The alarmists' drumbeat has resulted in widespread acceptance of the doomsday scenario. Much of the public now believes humans are causing global warming that will give us storms so frequent and severe that we'll be having one Katrina a month.

So far, though, the opposite has happened. Does this mean the Earth is cooling?

Noel, which already has killed 20 people in the Dominican Republic, might yet turn into a hurricane. And it's hard to know what the last month of the hurricane season, beginning Thursday, will bring.

But Ryan Maue of Florida State University's Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies says it looks like 2007 will go down as a lamb. "Unless a dramatic and historical flurry of activity occurs in the next nine weeks," Maue writes, "2007 will rank as a historically inactive tropical cyclone year for the Northern Hemisphere as a whole."

In the past 30 years, Maue adds, only 1977 had less hurricane activity when comparing periods beginning Jan. 1 and lasting through Oct. 30. What's more, this past September had the lowest activity since 1977 while the Octobers of 2006 and 2007 had the lowest activity since 1976 and 1977.

In case the data so far are unconvincing, we add this: The North Atlantic hurricane season is 29% below normal, the Northern Hemisphere 33% below normal. The Western Pacific is off 27% while the Eastern Pacific is 60% behind its typical rate of activity.

We concede that next year might be the worst hurricane season on record. But it's just as likely to be a repeat of this year. No one can reasonably predict what the storm count and intensity will be in 2008.

What we can expect is the alarmists' storm of nonsense to keep coming. They won't give up on global warming until they've found a new calamity they can use to scare everyone.


Frog salvation: And NOT by the Kyoto treaty!

I've lost track of the number of times the frog dieback has been blamed on global warming. Weird twist: The cure is banned!

New Zealand scientists have found what appears to be a cure for the disease that is responsible for wiping out many of the world's frog populations. Chloramphenicol, currently used as an eye ointment for humans, may be a lifesaver for the amphibians, they say. The researchers found frogs bathed in the solution became resistant to the killer disease, chytridiomycosis. The fungal disease has been blamed for the extinction of one-third of the 120 species lost since 1980.

Fearful that chytridiomycosis might wipe out New Zealand's critically endangered Archey's frog (Leiopelma archeyi), the researchers have been hunting for a compound that would kill off the disease's trigger, the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. They tested the chloramphenicol candidate on two species introduced to New Zealand from Australia: the brown tree frog (Litoria ewingii) and the southern bell frog (L. raniformis). "We found that we could cure them completely of chytrids," said Phil Bishop from the University of Otago. "And even when they were really sick in the control group, we managed to bring them back almost from the dead." "You could put them on their back and they just wouldn't right themselves, they would just lie there. You could then treat them with chloramphenicol and they would come right," Dr Bishop explained.

But the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) expressed caution at the news. Wildlife epidemiologist Dr Trent Garner said there would be reluctance to take up chloramphenicol as a solution, certainly in Europe and North America, because of the chemical's link to harmful side-effects in humans.

The NZ researchers tried using chloramphenicol as both an ointment, applied to the frogs' backs, and as a solution. They found that placing the animals in the solution delivered the best results. The team has admitted it was surprised by the outcome. "You don't usually expect antibiotics to do anything to fungi at all. And it does. We don't understand why it does, but it does," said Russell Poulter. Professor Poulter, the molecular biologist who hunted down chloramphenicol, added: "It's also got the great advantage that it's incredibly cheap."

The scientists are now making their research widely known ahead of formal publication in a science journal because of the pressing need for a safe and effective treatment for the chytrid disease. The blow that chytrid has dealt to the frog population is already immense. The disease has probably accounted for one-third of all the losses in amphibian species to date, says Professor Rick Speare, an expert in amphibian diseases who works with the University of Otago's frog research group. These losses are huge - and this is in addition to other threats such as habitat destruction, climate change, pollution and hunting.

Since 1980, more than 120 amphibian species have disappeared; and according to the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, in the near future many more species are in danger of vanishing. "We are losing an awful lot of these creatures now and if we don't do something intelligent, then we're going to lose an awful lot more," said Professor Poulter.

But a hopeful finding is that the introduced frogs that have been infected with chytrids are now more resistant to further infections. "We haven't quite understood how that could happen," said Dr Bishop. "It might be a natural thing; if a frog survives a chytrid infection then it is resistant when it gets attacked again." The researchers believe that zoos now will have more options, either to be able to control an outbreak or to rescue infected frogs from the wild, knowing that they can be cured.

The next challenge the research team has set itself is to find a treatment that will work in the wild. "I would really feel quite satisfied if we could say, 10 years from now, that you have to be careful walking around [Australia's] Kosiuszko National Park or you might tread on a corroboree frog because they're all over the place," said Professor Poulter. "I would take real satisfaction from that."

However, just how widely chloramphenicol might be adopted is open to debate. EU and US authorities are concerned the drug may cause aplastic anaemia in humans. "It is a banned substance; in particular, it is controlled where it comes into contact with food sources," commented Dr Garner from ZSL. "There are other antifungals that are being piloted and some are looking promising. Treating infection in amphibians is possible, but determining if there are any side-effects takes time. Also, how you apply an antifungal at the individual, the population and the species level is a whole set of questions which needs to be addressed."


Comment on David Whitehouse's assessment of CO2 and the Greenhouse effect (see article immediately below)

Comment by John A [] of Climate Audit

David writes:

"For the Earth's atmosphere to be in a steady state there must be a balance with infra-red radiation radiating back into space. Thus increasing the atmospheric carbon dioxide content will upset that balance by trapping more energy and causing the atmosphere to increase its temperature."

And here lies the basic problem. Whoever gave the idea that the Earth's atmosphere had a steady state? Only with the assumption of such a steady state does notions of "climate stabilization", "positive feedback" or the dread apocalyptic phrases of "tipping points", and "inflections" arise.

Also implicit in Whitehouse's reasoning is the unexamined notion that the Earth's climate had some sort of natural unstable equilibrium, where a slight perturbation in the atmosphere's chemistry can lead to large (runaway) effects? This notion of unstable equilibrium comes from the solidly debunked Hockey Stick and similar false reconstructions of climate that apocalyptics like Andrew Glikson clearly regard as Holy Writ.

In reality, it is creationism in modern secular garb, a benign stable climate for a long time suddenly being perturbed by the sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge (the Industrial Revolution), and the chaos of sin inevitably leading to our own destruction unless we repent from our evil ways and embrace the new graces of energy poverty and sustainability (those things meaning whatever politicians want them to mean, but inevitably higher taxation is part of the sacrifice).

From bad assumptions comes bad analysis, bad science and bad policy - and we are all paying for those bad assumptions.

Now the UK Government is planning to enact a law which will make the people of Britain a lot poorer, cause what remains of our manufacturing base to leave for China or shutdown, and all of this to control the uncontrollable and stabilize the constantly changing. Even in Australia, the Labour leader Kevin Rudd has suddenly adopted John Howard's Kyoto policy because of the human and economic cost - but in the UK we have no such analysis, only cant.

It should come from people like David Whitehouse, but alas, poor assumptions do not make for a solid foundation of scientific argumentation.


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


1 November, 2007


Email below from David Whitehouse []

The working hypothesis which I adhere to is that increasing carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is causing the world to warm through the greenhouse effect. The evidence for this is the physics of the greenhouse effect itself and the correlation of increasing global carbon dioxide concentration and increasing global temperature.

Carbon dioxide is clearly increasing in the Earth's atmosphere. As of July 2007 it was at about 387 ppm. Pre-industrial levels were about 285 ppm. Since 1960 it has increased linearly from about 315 ppm - the so-called Keeling curve can be viewed here.

This carbon dioxide is an important greenhouse gas because of its ability to absorb infra-red radiation and because of its atmospheric lifetime.

About 30% of incoming solar radiation is reflected with the remaining 70% absorbed warming the land, atmosphere and oceans. For the Earth's atmosphere to be in a steady state there must be a balance with infra-red radiation radiating back into space. Thus increasing the atmospheric carbon dioxide content will upset that balance by trapping more energy and causing the atmosphere to increase its temperature.

Looking at the global temperatures from 1850 to 2006 as used by NOAA and the IPCC (and Al Gore in his documentary) you will see the sharp rise from about 1978. It is obvious that the past decade has been warmer than all others in the period covered. It is well known that the warmest year was 1998 and that since then the global average temperatures have shown no increase with the years being statistically indistinguishable and well within each others error bars. Many people do not believe this and I suggest they read NOAA's annual summaries of global temperatures or indeed consult Wikipedia.

What the data shows is that over the past ten years the concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has increased from about 362 ppm to 387 ppm whilst the global average temperature has remained unchanged. Clearly the earth is a complex system and there is something additional occurring than a simple greenhouse effect. Indeed it would be remarkable and out of character if the earth was so simple.

The explanation for the decoupling of atmospheric carbon dioxide and global average temperature has been attributed to aerosols in the atmosphere reflecting some of the incident sunlight into space thereby reducing the greenhouse effect. Such an explanation was proposed to account for the cooling observed between 1940 and 1978.

However, it is indeed curious that this effect (or any other explanation) has resulted in a flat global average temperature over the past decade. This requires that the quantity of aerosols put in our atmosphere must be increasing year on year at exactly the precise rate needed to offset the cumulative carbon dioxide that wants to drive the temperature higher. A constant annual injection of aerosols would only result in a blip in global average temperature followed by a delayed rise. An unchanging global average temperature requires a linearly increasing input of aerosols. If aerosols are not to blame then whatever effect or effects are responsible they have to be increasing in efficiency year by year at just the correct rate to offset carbon dioxide global warming.

To my mind this is a very peculiar circumstance that feels suspiciously unphysical. It has only two logical conclusions. Either the hypothesis of carbon dioxide induced global warming holds but its effects are being modified in what seems to be an improbable, though not impossible, way, or the working hypothesis does not stand the test of data. Which, I wonder, would Occam chose?

Also note that the global average temperatures spanning 1850 -2006 show that for 110 of those years the temperature was flat (1850 - 1920, 1950 - 1978 and 1998 - 2006). For only a third of the past 160 years has the global temperature been rising yet for all of that time the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has been increasing.

A modern curate's egg from Brussels: Green theology mixed with nuclear rationalism.

An email from Zbigniew Jaworowski []

Right Reverend Host. "I'm afraid you've got a bad Egg, Mr. Jones!"
The Curate. "Oh no, my Lord, I assure you! Parts of it are excellect!

Nuclear energy "indispensable" says EU report. Members of the European Parliament have overwhelmingly voted in favour of a report that states that nuclear energy will be indispensable if the EU is to meet its basic energy needs (See here).

Both this resolution, and one of its bases: the "Nuclear Illustrative Programme Presented under Article 40 of the European Treaty for the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee" (COM(2006)0844), concentrate overwhelmingly on nuclear energy as a means to diminish the CO2 man-made emissions, allegedly leading to climatic catastrophe. The EU enthusiastically wishes to prevent and fight this non-existing menace, by supporting the development of nuclear energy. It is depressing to see how the EU bureaucrats are deeply immersed in the global warming hysteria, which dominates their thinking on the most important issue of the energy supply for the world. In effect the document is a mixture of a green theology with nuclear and economic rationalism.

The Environmentalist Fires

Last week, CNN delayed for a few hours the scheduled Tuesday night broadcast debut of its much-hyped documentary series "Planet in Peril" due to live coverage of the tragic wildfires that have displaced more than 500,000 people in Southern California. But that didn't keep CNN "golden boy" reporter Anderson Cooper from using the tragedy to tout the program he starred in as much as he could.

Cooper constantly claimed during the week that the fires provided further confirmation of the documentary's prediction of an eco-catastrophe. Cooper said that higher temperature due to global warming may have been a factor. It was a "timely documentary," Cooper said last Tuesday on CNN's "Larry King Live", because "California certainly seems to be in peril."

But ironically, much of the reason California is in peril is due not to climate change, but to the very environmental policies championed by Cooper's documentary and our new Nobel laureate, Al Gore. While, in its statement praising Gore, the Nobel Committee said that global warming may "threaten the living conditions of much of mankind," the current wildfires show that the more immediate threat to man comes from the champions of the gnatcatcher, kangaroo rat, and the Delhi Sands Flower-Loving fly.

Environmental mandates have made fire safety for humans take a back seat to the well-being of the aforementioned California creatures, as well as that of every bug and rat lucky enough to be listed as an "endangered species" under federal and state law. For over a decade, environmentalists have hamstrung Californians in their efforts to clear the dry brush that is providing the fuel for this massive fire. If any of these endangered or even "threatened" species are found in shrubs or bushes on public or private property, it becomes very difficult to give this vegetation even the slightest haircut. This is true even if city codes require firebreaks to be built.

An example of the legal strait jacket that homewoners faced in the areas hit by the fires is the "brush management guide" on the City of San Diego web site. The confusing instructions state that vegetation within 100 feet of homes in canyon areas "must be thinned and pruned regularly." But then, the same sentence goes on to state that this must be achieved "without harming native plants, soil or habitats."

Then in fine print at the bottom of the page, the real kicker comes in:
"Brush management is not allowed in coastal sage scrub during the California gnatcatcher nesting season, from March 1st through August 15th. This small bird only lives in coastal sage scrub and is listed as a threatened species by the federal government. Any harm to this bird could result in fines and penalties."
Coastal sage scrub is a low plant ubiquitous near coastal California that grows like a weed under almost any condition. And since gnatcatcher nesting season lasts almost six months, there could be much buildup of sage scrub that becomes hard for homeowners to control. Especially since the maintenance rules severely restrict the use of mechanical brush-clearing devices even when gnat nesting season is over.

The tragedy is that this shows that not much has changed even after previous warnings from experts that environmental rules were on a collision course with fire safety in California and many other places, because they prevented the removal of "excess fuel" for fires from dense stands of trees and vegetation. Southern California homes were lost in 1993 after the federal Fish and Wildlife Service told homeowners that mechanical clearing of brush would likely violate the Endangered Species Act. The reason: it could alter the habitat of a newly-listed endangered species called the Stephens kangaroo rat.

Some exemptions were made, and clarifications were issued, but landowners still face the lingering risk that the simple act of building a firebreak can send them down the river if an endangered species is anywhere near their property. California's Blue Ribbon Fire Commission, which had been created after wildfires in 2003 by then-Governor Gray Davis and whose members included Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., as well as state legislators of both parties, concluded that "habitat preservation and environmental protection have often conflicted with sound fire safe planning."

But did this bipartisan finding or any of the documented harms to fire safety from environmental rules make it into CNN's exploration of possible causes of the current fires? Not a gnatcatcher's chance. Instead, climate "expert" Cooper told viewers Wednesday night that the wildfires were "symptoms of a planet in peril. Fire, drought, deforestation; it's all connected."

Yet the data show that temperature for areas hit by the fire was well within average ranges, and came nowhere near the record highs. On Monday the 23rd, for instance the high temperature in Escondido was 84 degrees, and the high in Santa Ana was 87 degrees. According to temperature statistics from the National Weather Service, the mean high in both cities for that date is 79 degrees. What's more, the record high for that date is 102 degrees in Escondido (in 1929) and 103 degrees in Santa Ana (in 1965). So tell us again, Anderson, how global warming is to blame, when the weather where the fires struck was not nearly as hot as it was more than 40 years ago and almost 80 years ago!

What about those harsh Santa Ana winds? Well, they are pretty strong. Here's one writer's description: "It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch." Woooo! What a great description of the winds last week. Except that this passage wasn't written last week, last month, or last year. It was written by detective fiction master Raymond Chandler to describe the Santa Ana winds of about 70 years ago. It's in the opening paragraph of his famous short story "Red Wind," first published in 1938. So rough winds are nothing new under the California sun!

What's really changing the "climate" in Southern California is that there is more fuel for fires, since much less of the brush, as well as disease-infested trees, can be cleared, thanks to environmental mandates.

The problem is even worse on land owned by the federal and state governments. To satisfy the feds, San Diego has placed more than 170,000 acres off limit to development for the exclusive purpose, in the city's words, of "protect[ing] habitat for over 1,000 native and non-native plant species and more than 380 species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals." Hugh Hewitt, the California radio talk show host and author who is also a real estate attorney, has noted in the Weekly Standard:
"The land that has passed into `conserved' status is at even greater risk of fire than private land that is home to a protected species because absolutely no one cares for its fire management policy. The scrum of planners, consultants and G-11s that put together these plans should be monitoring these areas closely. Instead, they regulate and move on to savage the property rights of the next region."
And enviro groups also get more and more land locked up by conveniently finding more species to petition the government to protect. In California, as in other places, it's often a case of creative subdividing of essentially the same species. First it was the Stephens kangaroo rat whose designation as endangered put much brush clearance off limits. Then, in 1998, the San Bernardino kangaroo rat got listed. Also under federal protection is the Fresno kangaroo rat. And so on and so on.

Across the country, fires have become more destructive as trees and shrubs gain "protected" status preventing them form being cleared. As Bill Croke noted last week in American Thinker, In the last two decades annual timber production on the national forests in the West has decreased from roughly 12 billion board feet to less than 3 billion today. This has resulted in brush-choked forests with large "fuel loads."

The ironic thing is that all this "protection" at the expense of humans doesn't necessarily work out for the gnatcatchers -- not to mention more majestic creatures -- anyway. According to the Associated Press, the fires struck close to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, threatening condors, a cheetah, and many other animals. The Blue Ribbon Fire Commission found that the 2003 wildfires resulted in "the loss of valuable watershed, wildlife, and critical environmental habitats." Of course, saving species never really was the objective of many enviros. It's just a subterfuge for their main interest of controlling the human species.

Endangered Species Act abuses, including those that prevented fire breaks in Southern California, were an issue that helped get the GOP in power in 1994. But with some exceptions like former Rep. Richard Pombo of California, Republicans began to abandon this issue, lest they be branded as anti-green. It's time for the GOP, as well as truly moderate Democrats, to befriend again the threatened species known as the beleaguered property owner.

And if the Nobel Committee really wanted to give an award to folks preventing a hazard threatening mankind, they should rescind Al Gore's prize and hand it to the brave California firefighters whose jobs have been made so much harder by the nonsensical practices of the environmental movement.


Ozone hole a natural phenomenon too

Post below lifted from No Pasaran . See the original for links

Remember that scourge to humanity, however many humanity destroying scourges before called the Hole in the Ozone Layer? The n-th thing that was supposed to prove to the the poor misguided children with running water and flush toilets that everyone in humanity was wrong about the way they live, and that environmentalist who live no differently weren't? Well No Pasaran reader and commentator Papertiger writes:
Do you remember way back when you wrote up this about the ozone hole?

As it turns out, you were right. Chemists poke holes in ozone theory.

The Montreal Protocol, agreed in 1987 and ratified two years later, stopped the production and consumption of most ozone-destroying chemicals. But many will linger on in the atmosphere for decades to come. How and on what timescales they will break down depend on the molecules' ultraviolet absorption spectrum (the wavelength of light a molecule can absorb), as the energy for the process comes from sunlight.

So Markus Rex, an atmosphere scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute of Polar and Marine Research in Potsdam, Germany, did a double-take when he saw new data for the break-down rate of a crucial molecule, dichlorine peroxide (Cl2O2). The rate of photolysis (light-activated splitting) of this molecule reported by chemists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California1, was extremely low in the wavelengths available in the stratosphere - almost an order of magnitude lower than the currently accepted rate.

The rapid photolysis of Cl2O2 is a key reaction in the chemical model of ozone destruction developed 20 years ago.

If the rate is substantially lower than previously thought, then it would not be possible to create enough aggressive chlorine radicals to explain the observed ozone losses at high latitudes, says Rex. The extent of the discrepancy became apparent only when he incorporated the new photolysis rate into a chemical model of ozone depletion. The result was a shock: at least 60% of ozone destruction at the poles seems to be due to an unknown mechanism, Rex told a meeting of stratosphere researchers in Bremen, Germany, last week.

In the course of investigating global warming, I have discovered that the other planets you would expect, the ones with atmospheres, also have their analogs of "ozone holes". It seems that they are a feature of planetary rotation rather then a defect.

Here are some pictures: Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, and Mars, and finally Earth. Note: The Martian ozone hole is barely visible due to the thin atmosphere. The only reason it is viewable at all is because of a planet wide dust storm in 2002.
Good on ya, PT - and thank you. The one thing that's obvious about the things that greenies always seem to find so pressing, urgent, risk-laden, around the corner, and so forth, have far more to do with a need to be liked while they act on their urge to dismantle any available pillar of a civilization they had no part in building.

After all, who really wants to go back to the days where we were all worse off: less healthy, lived shorter and uncomfortable lives because the economy and society as a whole depended heavily on human and animal manual labor, and didn't have the advantage of energy and material resources that are affordable enough for everyone in society (and not just an elite,) could benefit from - which ultimately where the "green" movement is leading us away from, whether they know it or not.

Imagine that: a slow dissolution of individual rights over how they conduct themselves and what they do with their property for the sake of an abstraction which is supposed to be for our own good, regardless of the fact that a majority wouldn't agree... sounds mighty familiar.

As if a bunch of lit majors could even tell you what ozone even is. All they know is that someone told them that you aren't allowed to disagree with them.


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